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The Consort Tournament

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A/N: Hello, people!

I don't own Harry Potter.

I have no beta.

ENJOY!

CHECK ME OUT ON TUMBLR. HELLY-WATERMELONSMELLINFELLON. I FOLLOW BACK.


 

All Harry James Potter had ever known was the way his life was. To be honest, he didn't think it was so bad.

Of course he hadn't grown up during the war so he didn't fully understand why his parents always complained about life. Considering the current laws and the ways of the land, he'd say that life was pretty good.

Sure, purebloods got a bit more than others, but from what he'd read, it had always been like that.

When the Dark Lord took over Magical Britain, it hadn't come with death and torture. The man's methods to achieve control weren't that pleasant, true, but he did not go around murdering everyone. He rarely tortured people unless they were charged with treason. Voldemort, for the most part, remained out of the public's eye, allowing his faithful to do the leading in his stead, under his orders.

Now, while Harry didn't feel much about the history of Britain's magical community, he wouldn't say he'd be leaping at the chance to join Voldemort's forces.

In fact, he was voted most likely to, simply because he was the star DADA pupil in Hogwarts. But the fact of the matter was, Harry didn't want to be a Death Eater, as his parents labeled them. Voldemort actually called his followers his Knights. Harry preferred that term, but still didn't want to be one.

Harry was of a minority in that case. Everyone wanted to gain the Dark Lord's attention in some way. To be considered useful enough to work for the man was like a dream come true for most of the magicals his age. Harry simply wanted to open a shop for magical creatures and animals. He could communicate with them and felt that it would be the best he could do in life.

He loved animals. By helping them, he'd be doing some good with his talent.

That's all Harry wanted. Nothing fancy. Nothing over the top. Just a nice job and maybe get married to someone he could talk with. Someone that made arguments fun and entertaining and knew how to keep his interest. Someone that wanted to spend time with him because they liked him andnot because he was the last Potter and was the Potter and Black Heir.

When Harry learned that the Dark Lord was finally deciding on bringing the Slytherin family back into society, he'd been interested, but not overly dedicated to learning more.

That was, until he got to school during his final year, and learned of why he should have paid attention.

The Dark Lord wanted a consort and had decided to host a competition that involved nearly everyone in Britain. Basically, if they thought they were good enough, they could enter to compete in a certain amount of tasks set by the Lord of the lands himself. The winner would obviously be the person who demonstrated all of the things Voldemort was looking for in a consort.

The entire school was in an uproar and only those in their seventeenth year of life, to their seventieth year of life, could enter. And no, there was no restriction on blood status, despite how some felt that only purebloods should be allowed.

What horrified him the most, was the fact that his best friend Hermione, was actually going to enter.

"Why shouldn't I? It doesn't matter to me that he is fifty years older than I am. What matters is the knowledge. The sway I might be able to have. A muggleborn being his consort would surely help the general reception of muggleborns."

Harry firmly believed that no one would ever be able to hold any kind of sway over the Dark Lord. The man was so well put together and so himself, he didn't seem the type to cave to anything or anyone. But Harry refused to say anything because Hermione seemed determined.

Her desire had nothing to do with romancing the man or getting sex. She just wanted his books and to make the lives of muggleborns better. But Hermione wasn't the only one. Basically, the reason anyone his age wanted to enter into the contest to be the Dark Lord's consort was because they too hoped for similar things. Prestige first and foremost.

"You don't want to enter?" Hermione had asked him as she sipped her tea.

"No," was his firm reply. "I have to study extra hard for my N.E.W.T.s this year. If I want to be a Magizoologist/Healer, I need to pass my chosen classes with flying colours. Besides, Madam Pomfrey was talking about putting me through practice trials this year and she will summon me at random to help her in the Hospital Wing. I really can't afford to think of other things. You know people in my profession are rare."

Hermione nodded. She had just as much work to do as he, but unlike Harry, her eidetic memory aided her immensely. She didn't need to study once she read the work through once or twice. Harry had to put in more effort to get the same results as Hermione.

Of course that was just in theory. Hermione's brain aided her in theoretical knowledge, which was where Harry struggled the most. Harry was more of a hands on learner and books didn't do him an ounce of good. It was why his practicals were so much better than hers. They evened each other out, by helping each other in the areas they needed the most work on.

Harry and Hermione were the only two Gryffindors who made it to N.E.W.T. Potions. They and their friend Neville were the only Gryffindors to make it into N.E.W.T. Herbology. Harry had managed to convince Hermione to stay for N.E.W.T. Care of Magical Creatures with him, and Hermione convinced him to stay in N.E.W.T. Ancient Runes with her.

On the side, Harry was Apprenticed under Madam Pomfrey. Sure, he liked to play around and joke with his friends, but when it came to his desired future, Harry was dead serious. She had measured him with her own test, to determine if she should teach him at all.

Harry still fondly remembered the poor first year with a broken nose that he had fixed because he knew Madam Pomfrey wasn't around. She had actually been watching the entire time and he'd learned that it was in fact, her, glamoured as a first year.

The woman broken her own nose just to see what he would do. That took dedication to the craft.

But Harry had impressed her with his quick thinking and the fact that he had made it nearly painless, with only a sharp sting that lasted for only a second. She took him under her wing immediately after that.

Harry was just too busy at the moment to think about a contest that centered around being Voldemort's consort. Besides, he didn't want to be it anyway.


The Dark Lord attended breakfast in the Great Hall at random times over the school year. Some days he would be there first thing and others, he wouldn't be. So when people saw him sitting in the Headmaster's chair, they weren't really surprised. Snape had been relegated to the chair on the man's right hand side, which showed the level of esteem he possessed in the eyes of his leader. Voldemort always had the best seat in the house, no matter where it was.

The man had stood, his crimson eyes trailing over the students with a stunning intensity. Harry felt relieved when he hadn't fallen under the attention of those eyes. Yes, the man's face was attractive, but he was so unnerving. And his power levels were astronomical!

Being in the room with him was enough to leave anyone lightheaded.

"Those wishing to put forth their names for the Tournament will have a chance to do so between noon today and noon tomorrow. Everyone seventeen and up, will be given a piece of parchment whereupon they may read the rules of the tournament and decide if they wish to enter. You will then sign your full name and place it in the large jar before you."

And just like that, their collective attention was drawn to the massive bird bath like jar in front of the podium normally used to give out announcements. It was black and there was a silvery liquid inside that Harry wouldn't dare speculate over. He was happy to assume it was magic and leave it at that.

"I urge you to think very carefully on this, because while it may be a great privilege should you win, the path to victory is fraught with danger for a reason."

The suave man seated himself and the food sprouted on the plates, signalling that the morning feast had begun. Those who were old enough, found a piece of parchment on their empty plates.

Harry may not have wanted to enter, but he was still curious. Briefly, he noted from the corner of his eye that Hermione had pushed her plate away in order to pull out her inkwell and quill. All around the room, others were doing the very same.

The parchment read thus:

The Consort Tournament is not being held with recreational purposes in mind.
While it will indeed be witnessed by a variety of spectators, those competing
will be put against life or death trials that will test them in every method the
Dark Lord Voldemort has chosen.

TASK 1: Power

The Dark Lord admires power of all kinds and the duty of the competitor in
question is to impress those among the Dark Lord's ranks, who have been
chosen to scrutinize everything during this task.

It will include danger. This is not a talent show. It is reality that will demonstrate
just what the Dark Lord expects of the one who will help him raise his family.

If the competitor manages to get through the task without obtaining injury, they
will receive a hint to the next task.

TASK 2: Cunning

In this task, the competitor will be given one hundred points, and a riddle to solve.
In doing so, will then receive a hint to where the next riddle is located. The
competitor will have to reach the destination of the next riddle, without being seen
by any of the people stationed in the area.

Each time they are spotted, ten points will be removed from their score. If the
competitor's points are below 80 when/if they finish, they will be disqualified.
There will be a total of five riddles and over fifty people to sneak past, so beware.

If anyone manages to finish with the same amount of points they began with, they
will be given a hint to the next task in order to prepare themselves.

TASK 3: Ingenuity

This task will test the competitor's skill in avoiding dangerous situations.

TASK 4: Intellect

The Dark Lord is one of the brightest minds to have ever been born and as such, he
admires intelligence. This test will force the competitor to prove their worth.

Any details have been withheld to make it more interesting.

TASK 5: Duelling

As the title explains, this will be the task that will be held in a dueling arena, where
competitors will duel one another with magic only. The remaining ten will depend
on the scores achieved.

There are ten judges who will award points based upon the skill level they see and
the spell knowledge of the duelists. The five with the highest points will progress to
the sixth task.

TASK 6: Nagini

The Dark Lord's familiar will be locked in a room with each competitor, for exactly
one hour. She will not harm any human being, but will go about her business. She
will decide which three are to move on to the final task.

TASK 7: Unknown

Only the Dark Lord is privy to the details of this task.

Rules:

1. No one can quit. They must go through each task until they are disqualified.

2. If the judges decide, the competitor may be removed for health reasons.

3. There is to be no targeting of other competitors. Any who are found
bullying/bothering those in the tournament, will be faced with corporal punishment
chosen by the Dark Lord himself.

4. Felix Felicis is not permitted and a potion will be administered to each competitor to
determine if they have consumed any, before each task.

5. No killing is permitted.

Signature of Participant:

Harry couldn't help but whistle. They had really gone all out with this.

He sent Hermione a look to find that she had already signed the paper. "Mione, did you read the rules and requirements already?"

"I'm about to."

"Mione, you need to read it through first! Never sign anything unless you have read it through! You could sign something away accidentally!"

Seriously, heirs were taught these sort of things to prevent tricks being played on them by others. Hermione was not reared in such traditions so she might not know of them.

"Harry, they don't require us to use our blood, so it isn't like we can lose our magic if something stops us from competing."

That didn't make him feel any better.

He folded the parchment and placed it in his bag. "I need to go speak with Madam Pomfrey about what she intends to have me do this year. I'll meet you in Potions."

Harry never knew that crimson eyes had followed his trail as he left the Great Hall. He probably wouldn't have liked the implications if he had.


Harry stormed into the Dueling Club room, frustrated beyond the shadow of a doubt. Madam Pomfrey had told him that basically, he would be studying for an exam that he would have to take at St. Mungo's. She could not do more other than help him prepare because she had taught him all she could for human Healing. He would have to take up separate study. So other than accompanying her Healing over the course of the term, he was on his own.

Basically, there was so much revision and study that he would have to do this year that he just wasn't going to have any time for Quidditch. That meant that he had to go to McGonagall and turn in his Captaincy. He hadn't wanted to, but if he was serious about his future, then that was more important than playing a game. He just couldn't handle orchestrating the tryouts, working the practices, and then the games and afterparties. It was too much for him to handle at the moment.

This lead to him wanting to blow off steam in the Dueling Club. There was always somebody there who wanted to win. Harry held the top potion in the school at present but that didn't mean that others wouldn't wish to challenge him. There was always someone who wanted to take a crack at it.

Just last year, he had almost lost his Undefeated Status of twenty-four consecutive victories, to Daphne Greengrass of all people. She was fierce and had managed to shatter his right arm, which Madam Pomfrey made him heal later on as extra work.

Basically, some people were good competition and Harry needed to let off some steam before going about his work for the evening.

His eyes landed on Draco Malfoy, who was standing by, watching some students who were also dueling.

"Hey Malfoy, want to duel?"

The blond and he weren't friends, but definitely rivals. It was fun to rile the other up and he knew that Malfoy felt the same. Also, any duel between them always ended up being lowered into dirty tricks. Anything to win, that wasn't death or torture.

Malfoy once summoned a Boggart, and so Harry had summoned a snake. Malfoy summoned Harry's glasses, so Harry summoned the blond's shoes. Harry then got his eyesight fixed so that couldn't happen again. And their duels always continued in the same vein.

The blond sent him a smirk. "Sure thing, Pothead. I warn you, my aunt has been teaching me some things."

Harry withheld a wince. Bellatrix Lestrange was probably the most terrifying person he'd ever seen. To be that beautiful and yet that terrifying at once, is just wasn't fair. She reminded him of a less than sane version of the Dark Lord and that was why she scared him more.

So Malfoy had gotten lessons. He highly doubted that they were pleasant ones though.

"Then let's duel."

They took up the space on the fourth platform, as the first three were already occupied by other duelists. Both had already removed their robes, because this sort of dueling needed no distractions and nothing to slow them down.

With wands raised, they crossed themselves once and bowed from the waist.

"Scared, Potter?" taunted Draco.

"You wish."

The two turned their backs and retreated ten steps. Whirling to face each other, they eyed one another, waiting for someone to act first.

After nearly a minute of Harry standing as still as a statue, Malfoy lost his patience and started big, with a blasting curse as the floor in front of Harry's feet. Harry dodged to the side, but did not bother to return the assault. He wanted to see just what sort of tricks the infamous Lestrange woman had taught her only nephew.

Malfoy's eyes narrowed and he twirled his wand, casting a yellow spell that Harry had learned from Sirius last year. It was supposed to work much like Langlock, but instead of sticking the tongue to the roof of the mouth, it sealed the lips shut completely.

Harry deflected it with a wave of his wand, sending it into the stone wall and rendering it useless.

Harry had only learned silent casting in his sixth year, like many of his other classmates, but he chose not to use it in dueling in order to keep the skill hidden for as long as possible. Instead, he tended to look up spells that weren't Latin based.

When most of the Hogwarts students took Latin as a sub-class, and could easily work out the meaning of such spells, using spells created only in Asia, for instance, would make determining their meaning and effects more difficult. Harry learned that trick from Remus and it had served him well thus far.

Stepping out of the way of a new curse that Malfoy had to actually verbalise, Harry realised that the other teen was trying to make it impossible for him to fight back in some fashion. Either by taking his speech, or vision, or hearing.

It was a sound strategy, but Harry merely smirked and leveled his wand at the other. In an instant, his Patronus shot forth, closing the distance between it and Malfoy.

The great Phoenix bowled the blond over, allowing Harry to summon his wand with ease.

"That is seven victories in a row, Malfoy."

The blond scrambled to his feet, his hair a mess as he tried to straighten his clothing. "When did you learn that?!"

"Three years ago, but it was only recently pointed out to me that if corporeal enough, they can actually affect things other than Dementors. It was a pretty cool realisation."

Harry handed the Slytherin his wand, to which Malfoy accepted it and gave a small bow to acknowledge that Harry won.

"I need to learn that spell," the blond mumbled. "That could be useful in so many endeavors."

"I know, right?"

The two departed the club room, ignoring everyone else. They began to bicker with one another on their way to the Great Hall, about how Malfoy was 'close' to winning.

Neither noticed the interested eyes following them.


"Severus, tell me about Harry Potter."

The dour man didn't even blink at the order. He simply nodded and began a detailed explanation.

"Potter is a seventh year Gryffindor and is one of the top students in the school. It seems that his mother has managed to rear him correctly, for he is nothing like his father. No pranking, no bullying, and nothing to get himself in trouble. The boy is oddly determined in his classwork and seems antisocial for the most part. His list of friends is very small.

Regretfully, he is a good Seeker in Quidditch and has even earned the respect of the other teams, Slytherin included, despite the fact that he has defeated them every year since coming to Hogwarts.

He excels in Defense Against the Dark Arts, and would probably excel at the Dark Arts if they were taught at Hogwarts. He has a desire to become a Magizoologist of all things. He is also Apprenticed under Madam Pomfrey however, and is going for a Healing Mastery as well."

Severus did not know why the Dark Lord was interested in the Potter brat, but he knew that it couldn't be good.

It just couldn't.

"You are dismissed, Severus."

Severus bowed low and departed quickly, hoping that he wouldn't have to inform Lily of her son's death any time in the future.


Lord Voldemort retrieved one of the extra parchments he'd left behind, adding the name with a flourish. It didn't seem that the teen in question was going to enter on his own, but Voldemort's interest was caught for some strange reason.

Folding the parchment, he smirked as the charm he'd cast on the specially made material, activated. He slipped the entry into the magical jar he'd created, and smirked at his genius. Yes, the boy might be angry, but Voldemort was sure he'd get over it.

Harry Potter would certainly make the tournament interesting.


 

A/N: The first is done!

How was it? Let me know!

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CHECK ME OUT ON TUMBLR. HELLY-WATERMELONSMELLINFELLON. I FOLLOW BACK.

Chapter Text

A/N: Hello, people!

I don't own Harry Potter.

I have no beta.

ENJOY!

CHECK ME OUT ON TUMBLR. HELLY-WATERMELONSMELLINFELLON. I FOLLOW BACK.

 


 

Harry glared at the Headmaster as the events of the last hour came to mind.


Hermione was bouncing excitedly in her seat because the Dark Lord was going to inform the populace of Magical Britain about the competitors for the tournament, via the Wizarding Wireless Network. That was so everyone could hear at the same time.

The man had placed the other jar for the tournament in the middle of the Ministry's atrium and with the combined entries, the competition would soon begin.

Harry didn't want to be in the Great Hall because he had some work to do in regards to his Potions essay, but nooooooo, he had to be involved because it was mandatory. The other students looked to be just as interested as Hermione, buzzing around with excitement like his friend.

Snape had amplified the sound of the Wireless to allow everyone to hear it perfectly.

The usual announcements came through along with some commercials as expected. And then, Voldemort's smooth voice came through the speakers and everyone collectively held their breath.

And so the list was read in alphabetical order. Hermione nearly squealed when her name had come up, but Harry was thinking about the fact that several other people he knew had entered. People who were affianced to others, or were dating someone at present.

Did they not care about their current relationships, or what their parents might do to them if they lost?

Thankfully, Neville didn't want to enter and Luna was much too young to enter. That left Fred and George, and Susan and Hannah.

It wasn't surprising when Parkinson and the Patils were announced to have entered themselves, but it was the name that came after them, that made his blood freeze over.

"Harry James Potter."

It couldn't be possible. He still had his parchment folded in his satchel. There was no way that he entered the tournament himself, which meant that someone had to have entered him. But he didn't want to be in the tournament!

And the first rule was that no one could get out of it unless they were disqualified!

He completely ignored Hermione's questioning because he was trying to think of who would want to add him. It was a competition for the right to marry Voldemort and bear his children, so obviously no one would want to add more competition. Especially his fellow students since most of them knew he was one of the best to enter the school in the past few years. That meant that someone outside had entered him.

Was it to get him killed? Was it done as a prank? What was the reason for it?

And so began the turning of Harry's mood.


"With the utmost respect intended, sir, how the bloody fuck did this happen?!"

"Five points from Gryffindor," Snape said with a bland expression. "You would swear on your magic to have not entered yourself?"

"Yes! I still have the damn parchment!"

"Five more points. I would admit to this being a strange occurrence, but one would think that everyone would wish to vie for the Dark Lord's hand."

Harry bristled as those dark eyes trailed over him. "I don't care about his hand or any other part of him. I have a tonne of work to do this year. Going for a Mastery in two subjects at once is difficult enough as it is. I gave up Quidditch to be able to study more! I don't have time for this ridiculous tomfoolery!"

Snape merely quirked a brow in his direction. "And what do you want me to do about it?"

Harry sputtered, not expecting that. Like, he thought his problem was rather obvious. "Isn't there a way to get out of this? It's not blood or magic binding so it shouldn't count!"

He knew something had been fishy about just signing and suddenly being considered eligible to compete. He had known something strange was involved.

"As I am not the one who drew up anything for the tournament, I would not be the one to ask. Though I am positive that you will not be able to forfeit because the Dark Lord is known to 'cover all the bases' as the Muggles say. He wouldn't allow any to simply take the coward's way out."

"This isn't cowardice!" Harry protested, hands flying to his hips in his frustration. "This is me caring more about my future than him."

The look on Snape's face told him that what he just said, probably wasn't good. But then again, Harry didn't give a damn because Voldemort had thousands of people to choose from if he wanted to revive the Slytherin family. The man could have just chosen one of his Knights and all of this would have been over and done with it. Harry actually had to do work to get to his goal, whereas Voldemort just had to pick someone and would most likely get what he wanted instead of going through all this drama.

Harry was not going to take any of his words back because he was so damn annoyed and he was just barely managing not to explode Snape's office. He rarely got in trouble and to have that loss of control on his record would not be good for any Masters Guild he wished to join.

"Would you be willing to voice your issues to the Dark Lord himself?" asked snape, looking interested and lightly amused. Harry felt no amusement from this.

"Damn straight I would!"

"Five more points."

Who cared? Though he was really lucky. Snape must have been feeling generous if he hadn't busted Harry and given him detention yet. Maybe this was his small mercy for the drama Harry was about to get unwillingly dragged into.

"Then here is your chance."

Snape sat up straighter, eyes focusing on something behind Harry. Harry felt a chill run down his spine at the implication of someone standing behind him and him not noticing them. That was not good. That meant going through more Auror Trials with his father and Sirius when Yule came. He hated those the most, whether they made him the best in Defence or not.

Harry turned, reluctant to see who was standing behind him because he just had a very bad feeling. He didn't want to be right, but of course nothing could go right today, could it?

And it was not going well! Not at all! Because the Dark Lord Voldemort was standing about five feet away from Harry, his eyes filled with mirth and his mouth twisted into a smirk.

"Mr. Potter, do you have something you'd wish to say?"

Harry lost all breath. He had never been this close to the Dark Lord before and had formerly remarked on many occasions that the man's presence was astonishing. Attention grasping even. To have those crimson eyes on him only, made him feel singled out. Like Voldemort was pressuring him to feel alone.

He twitched, disliking the feeling very much. In fact, he did not like it when people tried to force others to do their bidding. Or make them cower in fear. It was dishonourable.

Suddenly, he was angry again and that small trickle of fear disappeared. "Yes, actually. I do. Why the bloody hell do I have to compete if I didn't even enter myself?"

He ignored Snape's mumbled, 'Five more points.' in favour of staring the Dark Lord down and hoping that his Occlumency was strong enough to at least give the man a difficult time if he decided to try anything.

The attractive man looked even more amused than before. "Normally, people who speak to me in such a way, end up thrashing on the floor."

And suddenly, the cold feeling in his gut had returned when he realised that he had just cursed at Voldemort. Not smart. It was things like this that proved why he should be a Gryffindor. He didn't think before speaking!

"I have found myself interested in you, Mr. Potter, and your willingness to risk your own health just to be cheeky, now adds on to it. You aren't just talk, you are action. No many would be willing to see their words through, but you have just proven yourself."

Voldemort stepped closer, bringing he and Harry extremely close now. Harry marked the few physical differences between them. Despite Harry being five feet and eight inches in height, Voldemort still towered over him by the head and some shoulder. How tall was Voldemort?

Harry did not back away because that would be like admitting defeat and Harry did not admit defeat in anything, if he could help it. Also, he didn't want to appear weak. The man was the Slytherin of Slytherins and as such, he was good at noticing the nuances of human behavior and acting out on what he saw. Who knew what he'd do if he caught wind of how Harry was feeling so mortified and slightly terrified on the inside.

"I charmed the parchments, Mr. Potter," said Voldemort, voice practically caressing his words. "They were made specifically by me and were charmed to link the person to the tournament. Once the name is written out fully, you cannot get out unless you lose or are disqualified."

Harry huffed. "Why go to such lengths?"

"I am a very important individual, Mr. Potter. I need to be able to assess everyone's potential in every area. One such as I cannot have a weak spouse who could be a liability to the family in later years. This way I ensure that I can keep a special eye on every person entering. There are secrets involved that I shall not indulge you with, just know that your only options are to get disqualified or lose."

Harry's jaw dropped at how arrogant the man was, but also at how unfair the competition seemed now.

"I would also admit to not wanting you to lose or get disqualified so early on," confessed Voldemort, eyes suggestively trailing over Harry's face and then further down.

"W-why?" the teen stuttered, not believing that Voldemort could know anything about him in order to want him to compete.

"Well, I wouldn't wish for my efforts to enter you to be wasted."

Once again, Harry was flushed with anger. Voldemort! He was the one to enter Harry into the damn tournament!

"WHY?!" demanded the younger brunet. "We don't even know each other!"

Voldemort simply smirked again, which was beginning to get on Harry's nerves because the man was attractive and seemed to enjoy using that to his own advantage. Well, despite how Harry's groin seemed to enjoy the man's face, the rest of him was too enraged to care.

"Harry," the Dark Lord purred, "I admire your skill. For a seventeen year old, you already mastered a corporeal Patronus and that takes skill. To do it silently is even more impressive. Of course I had to measure your worth when I learned that you weren't planning on entering."

Harry was trying to find something snarky to respond with, but the most he could get was screaming profusely. Since that would probably get him in trouble with Snape at least, he withheld all of the insults just begging to burst from his mouth.

He didn't want to compete, even if Voldemort wanted him to. And if he wanted out, he would just have to get himself disqualified.

Harry's triumphant smirk must have warned the man because Voldemort opened his mouth and proceeded to dash Harry's dreams right then and there.

"Getting yourself disqualified will not only displease me, but it will also leave your friend, Ms. Granger at the mercy of the tournament, all on her own."

"Huh?"

The cunning grin Voldemort leveled him with made his worry mount once more.

"She is only a Muggleborn and despite the rules given, and the fact that I don't mind, there will be others. Others who will not agree that a Muggleborn who still doesn't know much about Magical Britain, should be allowed to compete. As a competitor, you would have access to all areas the competitors may go to. But if you were disqualified, you will lose all rights."

"Hermione can take care of herself!" an indignant Harry blustered, feeling his will already weakening. Hermione was his closest friend.

"In a one on one skirmish, perhaps. What if she is outnumbered? What if something terrible were to happen during the tasks or even in between them? And you realise that you could have helped had you been with her the entire way?"

Voldemort reached out and ran a cold finger across Harry's jaw, smirking when Harry very obviously shivered.

"I look forward to your performance, Harry."

The man whirled around and departed, leaving the Gryffindor where he was stood, gaping at the empty doorway.

"He just guilt tripped me!"

"Yes, Potter, that is what a Slytherin will do if they are trying to get what they want," Snape snarked at him.

The ensuing cursing got fifty points removed from Gryffindor and left him feeling even more annoyed than before.


When Harry returned to his dorm that evening, he found a small booklet on his bed, that would explain the dates of the tournament and where each task would take place. Also, it listed his rights as a competitor.

The tournament would actually be taking place at Hogwarts, so at least he didn't have to do an obscene amount of travelling for it. The number of competitors was expected to drop significantly in the first task alone. Thousands upon thousands would be entering but only five hundred were expected to make it through the first task.

The book said the first five hundred would move on to the second task. Managing to get through the task without attaining an injury would give him a hint to the next task.

The First Task would take place on Samhain, in the early afternoon. Of all the days to host the beginning of the tournament.

Competitors were allowed to bring their wands and whatever clothing they had on their backs. That was it. The task was at two in the afternoon and would last until only five hundred people passed.

Out of the five hundred remaining participants, the judges would pick twenty who showed more ability than the others. Those twenty would apparently get something extra, though it wasn't mentioned in the booklet.

And now Harry had to set aside time for this. And if he was going to be tailing Hermione throughout the tournament, then he had to make sure that he got out unscathed. One, because being hospitalised would do him no good in terms of free time, and two, he didn't want to have to heal himself. Madam Pomfrey would probably make him do it too, just to spite him.

With a groan, Harry buried his face in his pillows. Life was unfair.


Sirius Black had already begun writing out a letter to Harry when he heard his godson's name over the Wireless. Harry was more interested in school than frivolity - something he and Prongs had mourned often - and would never have entered something like this unless something changed his mind.

But what could it be?

Lily and James were completely baffled and James was even disgusted to a degree, to which Lily cuffed him upside the head and told him to grow up, for the millionth time since they had gotten married.

"There has to be a good explanation," she had reasoned. "A very good one."

Remus was the only one who hadn't had something to say and when they had gotten home that evening, Sirius pulled him aside to ask what was wrong.

"I find it strange. I don't think he would enter of his own free will, but if that is the case, the someone entered him. But none of the other competitors would want more competition, it would just make life harder for them. Harry is really skilled for his age and has the benefit of two Aurors, a Runes Mistress, and a Werewolf on his side while growing up. He has had more opportunities than most of his classmates so they wouldn't want to face him in any competition."

"Then what do you suggest happened?"

"Someone higher up entered him either for entertainment, to get back at him or his family, to mess up his concentration for his exams. So many reasons and all of them, plus the actual reason, probably aren't good."

Sirius collapsed on the sofa. "This is going to be hell."

"Yes. Harry will be in so much danger."

Sirius scoffed. "That's nothing to be worried about. Harry is going to beat everyone and then get saddled with Voldemort of all people for a spouse.That's the real worry here!"

The two sat in silence, considering all that could happen should Harry win the tournament.

The possibilities didn't even seen minutely pleasant.


The Dark Lord was seated upon his throne in his own manor, his faithful were sat at the long table provided for them, discussing the upcoming tournament with interest.

Bellatrix Lestrange was put out because her children were too young to enter into the tournament and therefore, there was no way for the Lestranges to be connected with the legendary line of Salazar Slytherin.

Lucius was proud of his son's entrance, but several of his fellows didn't feel that the blond was worth enough to even be in the tournament. An Honour Duel had already been challenged.

Some others had voiced their own opinions, until someone mentioned Potter, and then the entire table exploded in a variety of opinions.

Lucius and Narcissa weren't of a pleasant opinion, whereas Bellatrix didn't seem to mind the boy in the least. She had already gotten word of him defeating her nephew in a duel despite the teen having been taught by her personally. Bellatrix was hoping that Potter would become a Knight and replace her some day when she was too old. Others did not agree.

"The boy thinks he's worthy of our Lord," Avery sneered, much to Voldemort's amusement.

Severus did not favour the child, nor anyone for that matter, but he was of the sort to state the truth and nothing but the truth, especially when it hurt or embarrassed others. Severus leveled the man with a smirk and said, "Potter is the best student in the school at present, far above yourchild, Markus. If any of the children hold a right, he certainly holds far more than Albrecht."

Markus glared, hand twitching for his wand as Bellatrix cackled her opinion of the situation.

"The wee Potter will certainly make this interesting!" said the woman, grey eyes alive with her anticipation. "It'll be a treat to see what my dear cousin has bothered to teach him! The Heir of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black should obviously be great in whatever they choose to pursue after all! He might be good enough to marry our Rigel if he manages to make it past the fifth task but loses somehow afterward."

Lucius didn't seem to like that, but since the man's own son was not even considered for the Heirship to the Black House, he would probably hold his grudge for the rest of his life.

Voldemort lounged, his book keeping half of his attention as the rest was caught firmly on his followers and what they thought of his choice.

Mulciber mumbled something derogatory, which spurred on some laughter from Crabbe and Goyle. It was then that the Dark Lord quietly closed his book and stood, drawing their attention and silence immediately.

"My friends," his whispery voice called, filling the room. "I am the one who placed Potter's name in the jar. I have decided that he is someone to take note of and my decision is final. I expect great things from the boy who shares the brother wand to my own wand, and I expect him to be judged fairly in all trials, or else."

He saw many jaws drop, Severus' included. The other man was much better at hiding it. His extensive training in Occlumency aiding him better than some of the other Knights. Still, being the owner of the wand that rivaled the Dark Lord's was big news to handle.

"That boy performed a corporeal Patronus silently, and his Patronus was a Phoenix. That tells me there is much more to him and I intend to flush all of it out one way or another."

Vanishing the book to his personal chambers, the Dark Lord concluded the meeting with, "The boy is from a line that branched off from the Peverell's, much like my Gaunt ancestor did. If anyone is the closest to deserving the position of my consort, based upon status alone, the other descendant of Peverell would precede everyone else involved."

He dismissed them then, leaving them to contemplate his words.

Potter was one of many he had his eyes on, but he was at present, the most interesting. He dared to raise his voice to his leader. It was thrilling just what the Gryffindor mindset could convince people to do. Also how easy it made it for him to guilt trip the boy into remaining in the tournament. All he needed was a way for him to stay for as long as possible.

With satisfaction practically pouring off of him, Voldemort sauntered through the corridors of his home, in search of his darling familiar.

Through their bond, he found her hunting in the garden.

§Darling, Nagini, the boy I have chosen has surprised and impressed me already,§ hissed the man, beckoning the massive snake forward.

Nagini came willingly, wrapping her large body around him. §Why do you not just choose him and mate? I desire hatchlings. We are not getting any younger!§

The Dark Lord massaged the scales under his hand, his glamour falling, showing his true appearance. Serpentine, hairless, and most of all, unattractive. §I wouldn't mind it, but I have gone through all of this trouble orchestrating this event and he will prove himself capable like all the others. I require a mate who can be the closest to an equal that I can find.§

Nagini gave the serpent equivalent of a shrug. §As you say, master. But I still say that you should claim the hatchling before anyone else.§

Her idea had merit. He'd already verbally claimed the boy in front of his followers. That would protect him from any of them who wished him harm for being in the tournament. Anything else he would have to handle on his own. If he was as good as his fellows claimed, he could deal with a challenge.

§We'll see, dearest,§ promised the Dark Lord, making his way toward his private rooms.

He was looking forward to the boy's performance in the first task. It would surely be inspirational at the very least.


"How can you enter yourself?!" demanded Pansy Parkinson as she threw curse after curse at Harry, who dodged easily and without casting in return.

"You just want to take everything from us you filthy Halfblood!"

"Your Lord is also a Halfblood, Parkinson, I'd watch my mouth if I were you!" Hermione yelled from the sidelines where she and dozens of students stood, waiting in line to face Harry in order to get their anger out in a way that wouldn't get them in trouble.

Harry ignored the girl, redirecting her curses elsewhere and yawning just to put her over the edge.

The moment Parkinson charged with her fist raised, she lost the duel, because magic was the only thing allowed to be used.

Harry's shield deflected her, knocking her onto her rear and leaving her breathless for a few seconds.

"I have other people to duel, Parkinson. Go lick your wounds elsewhere."

The girl stomped away with as much dignity she could muster, and the next student rose to take her place.

Harry sighed. This would take a while. All because some twat waffle lord couldn't leave him alone.


 

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Chapter Text

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Reginald was a man who believed very deeply in his own strength. He was of the opinion that he was the best bachelor nearing middle age, one could find. And when he learned that the Dark Lord had presented Magical Britain with a tournament for the right to aid him in bringing the Slytherin family back to its former glory, he immediately entered.

Reginald was a man meant for great things and had acquired many accolades in his forty years of life. He was a Runes Master and had grown up in a Dark oriented family.

No one but he could be perfect for the Dark Lord.

But… there were others.

He found himself faced with the spawn of Malfoy, the spawn of Potter, and the last Heiress to the LeFay line. Personally, his family held issue with the families of the other three competitors and Reginald would not lose to such scum!

He intended to win at whatever cost and if it meant getting rid of the competition permanently, he would not shed a tear.


An announcement had gone out. The five hundred participants who remained in the competition after the first task, would be given their privileges. One was a charmed bag that Harry was wary of. Another was a Sneakoscope, to watch for intruders. Finally, those left would be given a Galleon. No one was told what the Galleon would be for, but Harry had a feeling it was important.

Hermione was positively giddy at the prospect of beginning the tournament so soon. She wanted to win badly and in no short words, told Harry that she would take him down with the best of her ability.

Harry was simply in it to keep her safe.

On another note, the horrible news he learned was that Fred and George Weasley had also entered the tournament! So not only did he have to watch out for Hermione's back but he would also have to make sure that they were okay too!

Being a Gryffindor was harrowing at the worst of times.


Harry,

Your father and I cannot fathom this. You didn't want to enter into the tournament but
now you're competing against at least a thousand other people. Remus seems to think
that someone has it in for you and while it may sound terrible, I hope that is the case.
Why else would you allow yourself to remain in the tournament at all?

Your father has sent the Invisibility Cloak for you, in case you have need of it. He was
not pleased as I'm sure you've guessed, but enough smacking convinced him to keep
quiet. He's such a child sometimes.

I am of a similar opinion as your father, but if you really want to win this - for whatever
reason - I have sent my Runes journal along with the cloak. You might make better use
of it than I can right now.

We love you very dearly and hope to hear from you soon.

Mum.

He hadn't brought the Cloak to school because he hadn't thought he would need it. Despite not understanding the situation - not that he did either - they were still willing to support him. And they hated Voldemort so this had to be a stretch for them.

The Cloak felt silky between his fingers and he sighed at the strange amount of comfort it gave him. He never understood why, but he always felt safe while wearing it. It was just a cloak though. Even if it was special, there was no reason for it to ease his worries. Right?


Bellatrix Lestrange grinned as she skipped along the corridors of Hogwarts. The competition was going to start soon and she was looking forward to the chaos that would soon unfold. All the danger and screaming would bring music to her ears, she was certain.

She was determined to make the tournament as hard as possible and was looking forward to the Second Task the most, simply because she was going to be one of the figures that the hidden competitors had to hide from.

What they didn't know, was that she and her fellow Knights were given free reign to cast almost any spells of their choosing, if they wanted to scare the little contestants out into the open!

She had a whole strategy planned to upend the earth! It would be great! Exposing all those unworthy to help her Lord produce an heir!

The reason that Bellatrix was wandering the corridors of Hogwarts was because she was on a mission. There was a particular teen she was looking for and she wanted to get him alone. If only to have a nice, little discussion with him.

Severus was easy enough to bother, and had finally given up his schedule after several minutes of her cackling in his ear. That was how she learned that Harry Potter would be spending his time in the library.

"Itty bitty Potter, come and play with me!" she crooned the moment she stepped into the library. All the children cowered away and disappeared among the bookshelves in order to flee to safety. Potter, who sat in the main part of the library that was open to all students, merely gave her a blank look.

He would be very fun to rile up!

The boy began packing his bag, knowing that there was no way he'd get out of confronting her. He was a smart one. Maybe a sliver of Slytherin was in there somewhere.

"Now, I have learned from my Lord that you are someone to watch for and as he seems to hold you in higher regard among the other competitors, I am here to tell you that I expect you to at least make it to the Fifth Task!"

She could see the blur of his confused look as she twirled on the spot. "The tasks get harder and harder the further they go and someone of your age actually making it that far would be astonishing."

Bellatrix's wand twisted from side to side like a pendulum. She was relaxed and not worried for her safety, because Potter wouldn't be so foolish as to attack the Dark Lord's most faithful servant. Not with her reputation.

"My dearest Rigel seems to fancy you and when you lose, so long as it is after the Fifth Task, he would perhaps like to get to know you better."

Potter's jaw dropped and she couldn't help but cackle some more.


Harry wasn't daft. He knew that Bellatrix Lestrange was attempting to establish a connection with him. Either because she was one of the ones who thought he'd be a Knight of Walpurgis, or because she wanted her son to marry the future Black Lord. Either way, she was sucking up a little.

Harry knew Rigel. He was a fourth year Ravenclaw and tended to be on the shy side. Nothing like his parents or his twin siblings who were sixth year Slytherins. Izar and Serpens Lestrange were very quiet and while not shy like their brother, tended to avoid people because they just didn't like them.

Also, she had just told him that he was going to lose! Like, Harry did not want to be in the tournament at all, but to have someone suddenly so certain that he wasn't good enough to make it to the end was insulting. Harry was the best in his year and had tricks up his sleeve that even Hermione didn't have. Things that he had been discreet about.

He could probably win the tournament if he wanted to! He just didn't want to!

And then to tell him that he could pretty much have her youngest son when he lost, so long as he lost at the right moment, was a bigger insult. Harry was tempted. So very tempted but also knew that she had loads of experience on him and he wouldn't stand a chance against her wand.

Basically, he had to shut up and take it.

That did not mean he had to take it well.

"What if I don't lose?"

Bellatrix's snort gave way to mad laughter. She honestly found it amusing that he was so confident. He had a burning itch to prove her wrong. Oh, how he wanted to prove her wrong. But proving her wrong meant being saddled with Voldemort as a husband/lover and he wasn't sure that it was worth it just to see her face.

Sure, the Dark Lord could provide stimulating conversation should he wish to talk. And he definitely held knowledge that many wished they could get their hands on. His magic was breathtaking. His presence one of a kind. Basically, desirable on the most basic of levels. But Harry wanted more from his spouse and he wasn't sure if Voldemort could provide him with it.

Voldemort did not call this the Love Tournament. He was aiming for a consort. Someone to sit at his side and help him create the heirs he needed. There was no mention of love anywhere in there.

Harry wanted something like what his parents had, or what Moony and Padfoot had. He wanted something even better. Something that felt right.

Voldemort was incapable of that.

Wasn't he?


Samhain dawned with all the excitement one would expect when a deadly tournament was going to begin on the same day. Harry had slept in until noon because he wanted to be well rested. There were no specific details about the first task which meant that just because it was expected to only take a few hours, did not mean that it indeed would only be about three hours.

Once he was awake and fully showered, Harry made his way down to the Kitchens for some food. The Elves were accommodating and had even wished him good luck in the tournament. Harry departed with a basket of biscuits and a cup of tea in hand.

He was in search of Hermione, and where else would she be but the library on the day that the tournament was to begin. Where their 'Power' would be tested in the first task.

Madam Prince was not in her usual seat when he entered, allowing him to sneak the food in without trouble. Not that she knew that he often sneaked food into the library when Hermione was on one of her study crazes.

She should have been a Ravenclaw, but she tended to do things without thinking. Yes. The brightest witch in the school tended to act without thinking. Kind of like how she signed the parchment for the tournament without reading it first.

Harry found her perusing a shelf of books dedicated to spells taught in N.E.W.T. classes and up. She was obviously trying to cram as much information as she could, into her brain.

"Mione, you'll at least make it past the First Task, you don't need to work yourself up. This is the one that downsizes the competition and only those who are really terrible are going to lose. You aren't terrible so you'll obviously make it."

Though internally he wanted her not to make it so he could quit too. But Harry wasn't the kind of sabotage his friends for his own betterment. Sure, he didn't like the circumstances, but he wasn't going to ruin her dream of equality while at it. If it took another year of work for him to get his Masteries, than he'd have to suck it up.

"Harry, some of us don't have the benefit of Auror family members who can teach us ahead of time. I actually have to study more in certain areas and I don't even know what the first task will encompass!" the bushy haired witch said, tone panicked.

He raised a quelling hand, in which she noticed the muffin he was nibbling on and sent him a disapproving glare. "Not allowed in the library!" she hissed, thankfully keeping her voice low.

"You are completely right," he agreed, taking a deliberate bite of the muffin just to annoy her further. It had blueberries and was sprinkled with sugar. Some of the best kinds of muffins were fruit filled. Now he would have grabbed treacle tart, but even Harry knew his limitations and knew that it was not a good breakfast food.

Hermione held the book in her hands tightly, eyes trying to peel every bit of information they could from the crinkled pages.

Harry's next comment was cut off by Snape's deep drawl as it echoed through the school.

"ALL STUDENTS ARE TO REPORT TO THE QUIDDITCH PITCH IMMEDIATELY. THE FIRST TASK WILL BEGIN IN TWENTY MINUTES! ALL COMPETITORS WILL MEET NEAR THE LEFT HAND SIDE, LOCKER ROOM."

"Oh!" Hermione groaned, slipping the book back. "I almost had it!"

The message repeated for the next several minutes, until Snape probably had enough and decided that if no one listened to his instructions, they deserved to be late.

"Looks like it's time."

Harry left the basket and cup in the library, his pockets laden down with Italian anise biscuits.


Lord Voldemort was sat on his throne that Bellatrix had insisted they bring. The Quidditch Pitch had been completely remodeled for the task and was reminiscent of the Roman Colosseum, with higher stands and more room for more spectators to sit.

He sat in the Slytherin box, with his ten most faithful followers. The rest were stationed all around the stadium in order to get varying viewpoints of the happenings. They were charged with noting any amazing competitors and then their memories would be taken into Voldemort's Pensieve and would be reviewed.

The top twenty would be chosen that way.

The sand of the pitch had been moved to one side, the side the competitors would enter through. It created a large hill that had been packed down with enough water to keep it in place. Beyond that hill however, were more dangers than anyone could expect. The hill cut off the vision of the competitors, leaving them oblivious of the dangers that awaited them.

Only scents and sounds would tell them what to expect. It was devious and Voldemort loved it!

Between the competitor's entrance, and the goal post, there was over five thousand feet of land that they had to get through. Mud pits, deadly plants, creatures that were not expected to be involved, and even some other surprises that no one would ever consider, simply because they were Muggle.

When the bell chimed at exactly two, Voldemort stood, and the talking among the crowds hushed as many waited to hear what he had to say. From his position, he could see all of the participants, noting that there were well over one thousand people who had entered the tournament. There hadto be someone worthy among the lot and he had his eyes set on a few already.

Raising his wand to his throat, the Dark Lord cast the Sonorous Charm, allowing his voice to carry throughout the stadium.

"WELCOME TO THE FIRST TASK. I AM VERY PLEASED TO SEE THAT YOU ALL LOOK PREPARED TO FACE THE TRIALS AHEAD OF YOU. NOW WHILE IT IS UNFORTUNATE THAT MORE THAN HALF OF YOU WILL BE DEPARTING THIS EVENING, I STILL WISH YOU ALL THE BEST OF LUCK. YOU SHOULD ALSO KNOW THAT JUST BECAUSE YOU DID NOT MAKE IT, DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU AREN'T SPECIAL IN YOUR OWN WAY."

He very nearly gagged at how sappy the words were, but some took them to heart anyway.

"YOUR DUTY, IS TO MAKE IT TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PITCH. THE FIRST FIVE HUNDRED WILL PASS TO THE NEXT TASK. MY FRIENDS AND I WILL BE MARKING YOUR PROGRESS AND TWENTY OF YOU WHO STAND OUT MORE THAN THE REST, WILL BE AWARDED HANDSOMELY. ANYONE WHO MANAGES TO REACH THE OTHER SIDE WITHOUT ATTAINING AN INJURY, WILL RECEIVE A HINT FOR THE NEXT TASK."

With a smirk, Voldemort held his wand aloft and shot forth a bright yellow spell that exploded like gunfire in the center of the Pitch.

The shouting of the crowd almost drowned out his thoughts, but he was used to paying close attention to detail, so keeping his mind on his goal wasn't difficult. Voldemort's gaze trailed over the variety of fools that had entered his tournament, his eyes finally landing on the one he had wanted the most out of his chosen.

Harry James Potter stood beside his Muggleborn friend. The two had remained absolutely still when Voldemort had begun the task, watching silently as the others charged toward the sandy hill with abandon.

He wondered what was going on in their minds. He also wondered just what Harry was going to bring to the table. Would he even try?


Hermione Granger had entered the tournament without telling her parents. She had done this for a very important reason. She had to at least try. At least to show what Muggleborns were capable of if she didn't manage to win.

As a whole, less than a quarter of the entrants to the tournament were Muggleborns. She wanted to change the mentality that Muggleborns couldn't do much against Purebloods. Besides, the Dark Lord himself was a Halfblood, so it was hypocritical of the Dark sympathizers to side with a man whose blood status wasn't good enough for them.

She didn't know why Harry had entered, especially after he had been so adamant about avoiding it. Something didn't just change overnight and she knew he didn't want to confess just yet. Maybe later, when he wasn't so agitated, she could get the answer out of him somehow.

The point was, they were in this together, with Fred and George as well. The twins had joined them for a few minutes before leaving to do their own thing, parting with only a wink as a farewell.

The moment the task began, Hermione waited to see what she was going to be facing. Harry had taken after her lead, leaving the two of them as the only competitors who hadn't recklessly charged in blind.

She could see the hill of sand crumble under the weight of so many people trying to climb up would have just blasted a hole straight though it. She couldn't understand why they were making it so much harder on themselves.

When the hill had been leveled enough, she and Harry were both treated to the sight of the course.

Devil's Snare trailed all along the ground. Large holes and rocky terrain blocked the path to the other side.

She heard Harry mumble, "I never realised how far away the other side was. Thank Merlin for brooms."

Indeed, the other side was very far away. At least eight furlongs, though she might have been estimating too high. She'd never seen that inHogwarts: A History. It was time to reread the book again.

As for the task itself, they had to be one of the first five hundred to get to the other side. If they did so in a flashy way, they might get chosen as the top twenty. If they reached the finish line unscathed, they would get a hint to the second task.

Looking around, Hermione spotted the entrance they had just come in through. Raising her wand, she blasted a part of the beam right off and levitated it in front of herself. Once situated, she applied her talents in transfiguration to make the wide beam become a large egg chair she had seen a few months prior. She had wanted one for her own room.

With a pleased nod, she carefully sat, judging just how much it would take to levitate the chair while she was sat upon it.

Determining the method to be good enough, the Gryffindor waved to her gaping friend and levitated herself up, over the Pitch, in order to fly to the other side.

She had a good feeling about the tournament. A really good feeling.


Harry had already had an idea when Voldemort said they had to get to the other side. He'd just been worried for Hermione. But the witch had proven her brilliance by transfiguring a beam into a seat for herself and then proceeded to fly over the competition.

Harry was looking for the quickest way to get from place to place. Nothing flashy. Nothing that would get him much attention. He wasn't going to be battling those Acromantula that he could see a few hundred meters out. No, Harry was going to fly over the competition as well. That way he wouldn't have to do any extra work.

Maybe if he was so lacklustre, they'd disqualify him!

If only!

Harry focused his magic and centered it. He then let it spread throughout his limbs, filling every crevice.

He'd finally finished this little skill during the summer, since he wasn't allowed to use his wand. His father and Sirius had managed it by their fifth year, but had started before Harry had. It was roughly four years of intense study in order to attain his Animagus form and he was damn proud of it.

And no, he did not care that he had registered himself. It wasn't like people just suddenly decided to go and look at the list in the Ministry Archives because it was fun. Rarely did anyone bother. Besides, most preferred to keep their skills secret.

Harry wasn't secretive, he just didn't brag.

And yes, he was a registered Animagus.

With his magic properly spread throughout his form, Harry could feel his body changing, shrinking into a much smaller size.

Flapping his wings, Harry took to the sky quickly, and passed Hermione out within seconds.

From his view, the competition was deadly and dangerous. There were deadly creatures all over and he was terribly frustrated with the Dark Lord in that moment. There was no hint in the explanation, rules, or booklet, that people would be facing such beings. And once they signed their name they were forced to compete until they got disqualified or lost to someone else.

Harry was suddenly very proud of himself. The less amount of work he had to do, the better life would be for him.

Upon landing, Harry transformed back and gave a jaunty wave to Hermione, whose fancy, egg shaped chair, planted her safely on the ground beside him. Her face was a mask of disbelief and awe.

"How did you do that?" she whispered, looking around.

"I've become an Animagus," he said with a shrug.

"IT'S SEEMS THAT TWO PARTICIPANTS HAVE ALREADY CLEARED THE COURSE," Bellatrix's voice rang through the Pitch, sounding gleeful. "ONE HARRY JAMES POTTER AND ONE HERMIONE JEAN GRANGER. BOTH DONE BY FLIGHT, ONE BY TRANSFIGURATION/LEVITATION AND THE OTHER BY HIS ANIMAGUS FORM!"

It was then that Harry's attention was brought back to the stands of people who were cheering. Wide, open faces just gaping at he and Hermione.

And unwillingly, his eyes traveled to the other side of the Pitch, where they were confronted with crimson eyes. Voldemort was staring at him, his amusement as plain as day and if Harry were any more vain, he would think that Voldemort looked proud. But that wasn't possible so he ignored the fluttering in his gut.

"Harry!" Hermione hissed, getting his attention once more. "You used one of the hardest methods of Transfiguration to come in first place! It's a very big deal!"

Harry frowned. "Becoming an Animagus isn't hard, Mione. People who aren't Animagi would think that it's hard, but it really isn't. You just need time and energy. Preferably under the scope of someone who knows how to reverse partial transformations as well. When people learn that it takes time, they suddenly don't want to do it, because they assume it'll take forever, and they are too lazy. It took me only four years of summer training, which is the same amount my father and Sirius had when they learned."

"So then, I could have been working on it as well?" she asked, voice sounding strained.

"Probably. You just never expressed an interest before. Not like with the Patronus."

"That one is necessary!" the witch replied. "It is for safety first and foremost, and then that message passing afterward. And the Patronus was hard."

Harry shrugged. "Depends on how good of a life you have. People with generally happy lives have a harder time casting the charm because some of the memories they come up with, aren't powerful enough. I learned that you don't need memories, you just need happiness, which means eventhinking of something that would make you happy, is enough to power the Patronus. Less than ten percent of the Auror Corp know the charm because it does take effort and most people are too lazy to work it out on their own. Took me a year under Sirius and Remus' tutelage."

Hermione huffed and turned away from him then. She would probably ignore him for a few hours before coming over and asking him to teach her how to become an Animagus.

He was used to it. Hermione had problems with people knowing more than her. As a Muggleborn, she longed to prove herself and thought that being the best in everything was the way to go about it. She would eventually get over her funk and be back to her normal self in no time.

Harry focused on the rest of the competition, noticing how a large Abraxan was flying right toward them. In fact, it didn't seem to be stopping.

Harry grabbed his friend's arm and yanked her out of the way, in time to avoid the Abraxan. At the same time, he sent a stinging hex to the creature's rear end to punish it for its lack of attention.

When the Abraxan turned into a person, Harry felt even more gleeful at the sight of the man rubbing his sore rump. The arsehole should have had the decency to land elsewhere, where space was readily available.

The man sent a sneer his way, which Harry's gladly returned. He didn't know the man, but he could certainly tell that he was pompous and obviously thought highly of himself. Harry concluded that he was a dick. He suddenly wished that he had gotten more hexes in.


Voldemort's Knights were all gathered in the tent that was separated from the Pitch in order to review the details of what they had seen.

Bellatrix was impressed with Potter most of all, simply because he thought ahead and managed a very difficult bit of transfiguration. It was only after it was mentioned that he had used his Animagus form, that others decided to do the very same.

Overall, fifty-seven competitors that made it to the second task, were Animagi, which were all legally registered and recorded for future reference in the tournament. In case anyone decided to use their forms again.

Several people had shown skill that was impressive, but very few had been shown thinking outside the box. Potter's friend Granger being the very first. She levitated herself in a chair she had transfigured, across at least a mile of land. That took effort and well proportioned magic. Voldemort was impressed.

Astonishingly, no one thought to Apparate to the other side. He knew that Apparating was considered easier than becoming an Animagus, so why wouldn't people think to use that? Quite frankly, he was a little appalled at present and hoped that the tasks that would come in the future, would be more interesting. Perhaps this would get people thinking and actually give more variety.

Ninety-four people had managed the first task without any injuries. A much larger amount that he would have expected. However, it was among the lot of uninjured, that the Knights were choosing the top twenty.

"Hermione Granger, Harry Potter, and Reginald DuBois are the top three," Voldemort said with finality. "In that order."

"B-but my Lord, Granger isn't an Animagus!" blustered Avery.

He quirked a glamoured brow. "She managed to escape every danger in there, by using a levitation spell for an incredibly extended period of time. While I also admire our resident Animagi, it doesn't take as much effort as many believe it does. Once learned, it is as easy as drinking a goblet of water. I admire Ms. Granger's skill and therefore, she is in first place."

With a gulp of fear, Avery nodded, ducking his head in submission.

Bellatrix grinned. "I'm still impressed that a seventeen year old managed to become an Animagus. It usually takes a few years after graduation before people even think of becoming Animagi."

"I have suspicion," Severus began, "that Potter's father or godfather is an Animagus. Both were talented in Transfiguration back in school, so it would make sense if he managed to do it in such a short time span, without being rushed to St. Mungo's to have whatever mistake he made, reversed."

"Are they registered?" Voldemort asked.

"Not to my knowledge. Then again, not everyone is registered, my Lord."

Voldemort considered that and decided that should he need to hold something over Potter and Black's heads, it would be their Animagus forms. They'd most likely do as he said because Azkaban was not a place any sane wizard wanted to go to.

He always loved blackmail.

"Figure out the remaining seventeen quickly. We have hints to award them after all."

And he looked forward to Potter and Granger's further acts in the tournament.


Harry stared at the piece of parchment he'd been given. As a hint to the next task, which dealt in Cunning, he was given his first riddle ahead of time. The parchment was charmed to show a hint to the location of the next riddle, once he answered his own first.

It was like a sneaking scavenger hunt.

Not only did he have to sneak past several Knights, but he also had to know the area they would be traversing. He hoped it was at Hogwarts. He really hoped it was because not knowing the area would really suck. He hated riddles. This was the task he worried about the most.

There was a reason why he wasn't in Ravenclaw. The last time he tried to break into their Common Room, he found himself standing in front of a knocker for an hour, unable to answer the riddle the bloody thing had posed him.

Riddles always did him in.

And on top of all of this, he had to keep the piece of parchment as well to prove that he had answered the riddles and didn't just happen upon something by chance.

He wasn't going to like this.

Why did the twat waffle lord have to do this to him?


 

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Chapter Text

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Harry sighed. Life since the beginning of the tournament, had changed drastically. His fellow competitors were shooting him glares. Some people claimed that he cheated because he didn't actually do any work during the First Task. Therefore, it wasn't fair that he was awarded second place while others had struggled to prove themselves.

Harry was certain that the only reason he was given second place behind Hermione, was because he was the first to think of using his Animagus form. He and Hermione thought outside the box and had proven not to be like the others who had assumed that the only way they could get to the other side of the Pitch, was by going straight through instead of over or around.

Harry didn't really mind what anyone said because he wasn't involved willingly and he was just doing his best to barely get by until Hermione finally lost, or won. He kind of hoped she would lose, simply because marrying Voldemort didn't seem like something too great.

Other students thought that he had been showing off. Basically, no other Hogwarts student had attained their Animagus form, which meant that a lot of them thought it was unfair for him to have used the skill.

The teen had a lot of work ahead of him for the term, but currently, he found himself alongside his friend Luna, in the Forbidden Forest, washing Thestrals. As not many people could actually see the poor creatures, it was left up to someone to take care of them.

Harry had begun this sort of practice halfway through the second term of his first year. He would sneak out to the forest, beneath his Cloak, after acquiring some provisions from the Kitchens, and take care of the animals.

Thestrals were creatures of Life. Many assumed that they were omens of Death, but in truth, they signified the innocence of life. In order to see one, a person had to have witnessed the loss of a life and had to have comprehended what had happened. Seeing a Thestral was a sign of growth, and while not the growth that some people should ever have to experience, it was growth all the same.

Thestrals were kind creatures and were very offended that humans were taught to avoid them simply because they assumed that they were harbingers of death. For years, Harry had listened to their troubles over the matter, and for years, he acted as a sort of creature psychiatrist, allowing them to voice their problems as he tried to find a way to solve the issues.

Eventually, he'd gotten into the habit of bathing them as well and when Luna joined him, it just made everything easier.

The herd wasn't very large in terms of a usual Thestral herd. There were only fifty-four altogether.

They also had to be kept strong in order to pull the carriages.

The carriages were enchanted with undetectable extension charms, to be larger on the inside. One carriage could actually fit up to twenty people if necessary. There were enough Thestrals to pull the carriages, but not enough to make a true Thestral herd.

Harry rubbed the brush over the leathery wing in his hand. This one was a foal and had asked him to name her. Unable to come up with something creative, Harry had ended up naming her Nox.

Luna liked Nox very much. While Luna was not born with the ability to communicate with animals through language, she could still somehow read their intentions and always knew what to say, where to rub, or what food to bring. Who liked which slice of meat. Who preferred to be touched.

τWhat's wrong, Harry?τ Nox whinnied, butting her head against his chin.

He sighed. τDo you remember when I told you about the Dark Lord?τ

She nodded, stretching her wing out further so he could detail it better. τYour leader. The one that can actually speak the Serpent's Tongue.τ

τYes, him. He's looking for a mate and decided to hold a contest to see who is worthy to help him build his family.τ

She nodded her head understandingly. τOne wouldn't want a weak mate. He is smart. Much more safe than fighting. You can get hurt when you fight.τ

Harry decided not to tell her that there would indeed be fighting later on. Instead, he simply went on to explain his problem.

τHe decided to enter me into the contest without my permission and made it impossible for me to quit. So I have to compete and I don't want to.τ

τDo you not want a strong mate who can provide you with good offspring?τ asked Nox, sounding confused.

τI want a mate who will love me, and Voldemort doesn't want love. He wants children to pass his line to.τ

Honestly, he couldn't expect a Thestral to understand all human interactions. Most animals and creatures could not comprehend why humans went about things in such a difficult manner. Not all animals or creatures could understand love.

τSo you have to play the game until you lose or win?τ

τYes.τ

τThen win. And when you win, refuse his advances. You will have worked hard to prove that you are the best mate available and if he really wants you, then he will have to fight for you.τ

And just like that, Harry's problems was sort of solved, all because of a Thestral who wasn't even a year old yet.

τYour are too smart for your age.τ

τMother has mentioned this before.τ

He playfully bumped her with his arm and returned to his scrubbing.

That was definitely a plan. Win and then not accept the prize. Said prize being Voldemort himself. Oooh, this was going to be delicious!


Harry's meandering of the library was interrupted by the one person he didn't want to see at present.

"What do you want?"

Probably should learn to watch his mouth too. Voldemort liked to put people in their places. And yet Harry had already gone beyond cheeky and hadn't been put under the Cruciatus yet. Interesting.

The Dark Lord smirked as if something Harry said was amusing. "I was just wondering how you were handling the tournament and if you have any plans for the second task."

"Yeah, I'm going to lose as planned because riddles aren't my thing," the teen partially lied.

Voldemort's smirk died instantly and Harry had to fight off his satisfied grin. "You aren't even going to try?"

Harry shrugged. "I'm not a Ravenclaw for a reason, you know. I can't deal with riddles because the answers are usually ridiculous or too obvious to see and I'm more of the sneaky and not straightforward type most of the time."

The man made a disbelieving noise, earning himself a glare from the younger wizard. He could totally be sneaky!

"It cannot be that bad."

"You would know!"

"Actually, I left that in Severus' hands. All five thousand riddles."

Five thousand, what the bloody hell were they thinking?

"There only five hundred people and we each only need five riddles!" Harry sputtered, completely floored by the revelation.

Voldemort smirked again. "There are more points to the task that what you were told in the booklet."

Dear Merlin, this would be hell! Hermione had already solved her riddle. She was supposed to be a Ravenclaw and logic was her thing! Harry, not so much! How was he going to do this?

Pulling out the riddle, Harry peered at the parchment.

What is this word? Why is it special?

Facetious.

Voldemort snatched the parchment from his hands and looked it over. All there was, was a quirking of a brow, before a simple, "Ah," slipped past the man's lips.

"You know the bloody answer, don't you?" Harry demanded, feeling his annoyance rise.

The man gave a chuckle. "Of course. I was raised in the Muggle world where things like this are taught. Severus always did love to make things harder on people."

"Um… wizards use this word all the time," the Gryffindor pointed out, finding nothing forthcoming on the supposed riddle.

The Dark Lord shrugged. Actually shrugged. "The questions are 'what' and 'why'. What implies the word falls into a category of things and why asks about that specific thing."

Harry looked back to the word, finding nothing special about it. There was no hope. Hermione was on her own from then on.

"Harry, may I remind you that asking for help isn't against the rules. Perhaps your mother would know."

And with that, Voldemort strutted from the library, oozing calm and humor. The twat.

Harry hated having to ask for help in anything!


"Severus, you are devious."

The dark and dour man sniffed, pretending that he had no inclination as to what his Lord was talking about. "I am merely myself, my lord."

"Using Muggle only riddles?"

"Hmmm."

So what if he decided to make it even harder? Muggleborns made up less than a third of the people who had even entered the competition and out of the remaining five hundred, only fifty-two were in that minority. Therefore, it would make it even harder on everyone involved, especially since Purebloods were too good to look up Muggle related things.

"My Lord, am I right in assuming that you wish for Potter to win?"

The older man brought his elbows to the table and rested his chin on his linker fingers.

"Harry James Potter is one of the five people that I have my eye on. In terms of virility, he would be the best as he is the youngest. In terms of interest, I like him much more than the others. His power level is astonishing and he has room and even years to grow. The other four are of good families, good ancestry, and have much that I could benefit from."

Always looking out for his own interests first and foremost, a very Slytherin response.

"DuBois is one of the other four, if I'm not mistaken?"

"You aren't. I don't like him in the least, but he's still better than most of the other contestants. Speaking of dearest Reginald, I want you to keep an eye on him. Skilled though he may be, he is of the habit of overestimating himself and I can tell that he will try to sabotage his fellow competitors. When he does so, he is to be detained until I decide what to do with him."

Severus nodded. "As you say, my Lord."

The Dark Lord hummed. "How goes the planning for the ball?"

Severus couldn't withhold his sigh. "Bellatrix wishes to have everything made of glass. From tables, to chairs, and even the decorations. She longs to use a new charm that was recently invented, to give the glass a frosted appearance, without it being cold."

As expected, the Dark Lord did not feel that idea was wonderful in the least. "And what did you have to say about this?"

"That it would take unnecessary work to soften each chair to make them comfortable. That we would be asking for trouble if we used only glass objects. That the charms necessary to make them nearly indestructible were a hassle to place. Overall, the discussion was harrowing at best and she left in a horrendous mood."

Seriously, planning the Ministry Ball every year always ended up with Bellatrix wanting to use ridiculous decorations and no one agreeing with her. Since Severus was stuck as the other coordinator, what he had to say did have an affect on the project, which lead to them disagreeing more often than not.

Severus didn't like bright colours, but he would take them over glass only decorations.

"How about you use silver and royal blue this year," the Dark Lord suggested, meaning that he was actually wording an order in a friendly manner.

Severus tipped his head in agreement.

"Wonderful."


"What in the nine hells do you think you're doing?!"

Reginald flinched. It was his older sister, Miriam. He'd hoped he wouldn't have to deal with her during the tournament but apparently, she had decided to grace him with her presence for whatever reason.

"You just up and decide to enter this tournament?! Did you not stop to consider that perhaps our family does not want to be connected to the Dark Lord?!"

Her voice had a sort of shrill like quality to it, which had always made her the one their parents resorted to when they wanted him to suffer for his misdeeds. Miriam had lungs like a Banshee and was proud to demonstrate why she had gained such a nickname.

"I don't care what the rest of the family wants, Miriam. I am doing this for myself because I deserve it."

She scoffed. "You deserve nothing! You are the one who tried to kill the LeFays and got our family blacklisted because of it! No one wants anything to do with us because of you and whatever good name we've manage to salvage it is because of me and our parents, not you!"

He scowled again. Once more, she was bringing up his mistakes from the past. Had the operation been successful, he wouldn't have been caught and the family wouldn't have suffered.

"When I win, people will have to acknowledge the greatness of our family, Miriam. The Dark Lord would accept no less for his consort."

Miriam's stiff lip thinned out immediately and her fiery eyes began to glow with a threat that he unfortunately knew all too well.

"It is by the grace of our father that you were not disowned for your actions. However, I think I shall inform him post haste, of your plans."

She turned and stomped from the room, only looking back to say, "And if you touch the Potter, Malfoy, or LeFay Heirs, you will be Stripped for good."

Reginald threw his walking stick in his rage. She was a tattletale and loved to get him in trouble!

Reginald had to get there before her. He had to explain.

Surely they would want vengeance on those who had wronged them in the past?


Lily Potter stared at the letter in her hand. Harry was actually planning to go through with the tournament and was asking for her help? That was when she knew that he couldn't be joking if he was actually lowering himself to asking for someone else's assistance in any matter.

Harry was very prideful and had always viewed help as a sort of weakness. He tried so hard to not ever need any, but there always came a time where his pride had to be shoved aside for the betterment of himself.

The letter contained the riddle he had to solve to give him an upper hand in the next task. She and James had listened to the task over the WWN and had been impressed with their boy and his friend Hermione. Both used ingenious methods and were the leaders in the entire task.

The riddle was a muggle one and the writing was familiar. Severus. He had been the one to write the riddle of choice. She had always known of his hatred for Muggles, and even knew that it was because of what his parents did and didn't do in his childhood.

Just because he didn't like the people didn't mean he had hated everything. Severus was a lover of challenges after all.

The riddle, Lily had to stifle a giggle, was incredibly easy. Her boy was terrible at riddles and if he wanted to win this tournament, he'd better hope that they weren't used in each task.

Dear Mum,

You know how much I hate having to do this, but I really need your help in the Second Task.
There is nothing in the rules that state that I cannot seek outside assistance and strangely
enough, Voldemort himself suggested I ask you for help seeing as Snape wrote all the damn
riddles and you would understand his way of thinking more.

I hate riddles. I don't like them because they're are useless. Why can't they just be straightforward?
Why the need for all the secrecy?

Anyway, this is the riddle.

What is this word? Why is it special?

Facetious.

I'm sorry I haven't been able to write as often. I'm still trying to study for my Masteries and
it takes a lot of work and concentration. To be honest, I think my Care of Magical Creatures
N.E.W.T. will be the easiest to attain. And you would know why of course.

I love you. Thanks you for the book on Runes, they could potentially help me a lot in the future.

Make sure you take breaks and don't overwork yourself. And tell Padfoot to stop drinking the
Brandy we have.

Harry.

Severus had loved the word facetious more than anything. He'd always found linguistics fascinating and had made it his duty to seek out the nuances of each language he knew.

Facetious was an English word that could be derived from Latin or French. Though Latin technically, since French was derived from that language as well. It was a regular panvowel and was one of the only words in the English language that had every vowel in it, and in alphabetical order as well.

On a more disturbing note, why had the Dark Lord approached her baby?! Did he think that James and Lily were up to something? Did he perhaps want to get close to Harry to see if their family was traitorous?! Whatever the man's reasons were, Lily was certain that they were not good in the least.

With a sigh, Lily began her reply and called a House Elf to help her find the Two-Way Mirrors she'd bought last Christmas. If Harry had to answer more riddles in the task, they could just communicate that way.

She might not understand why he felt the need to compete in such a tournament when he had so many plans for his future that lie ahead, but she was a supportive mother and wanted her baby to succeed in everything he desired to do.

So she would help him to the best of her ability.


"Hagrid, are you sure we should be using this cage still?" Harry asked, unsure of approaching the Runespoor.

"Nonsense, they're wonderful and intelligent creatures!" the excitable half-Giant grinned. "They understand."

"I don't think you should leave them caged, though."

The poor thing was looking depressed and Harry felt his heart go out to the being. It had always been confusing because the Runespoor had three heads but one body. Because there were three different brains all equipped with a different use, he had always felt that they were more than one being, despite the Ministry labeling them as a singular creature.

The right head was irritable as always. He was hissing insults to the other two heads and occasionally looking toward Harry and Hagrid as they approached, and spouting insults left and right their way.

In his head, Harry had named that one Severus, because he was snarky and never happy about anything.

The middle head received the name Luna, because the middle was always the dreamer who tended to get lost in visions and fantastical dreams. She tended to be very aloof and kind of the oddball among the three.

The left head was Hermione, because they were always the smart one who planned ahead for the Runespoor.

Harry held his wand at the ready in case any of the heads attacked while Hagrid opened the cage. They were speaking to each other, but sounded almost lifeless. Sad. Harry felt bad. He didn't like that animals and creatures had to be locked away just to be studied.

With his Dragonhide gloves in place, Harry shuffled past Hagrid in order to feed the creature. Each head had a different interest in food and so he had been sure to bring three different meals.

A rat, a bird, and the last one claimed to be vegetarian and preferred to eat apples.

§He has food!§ the Luna head crowed, suddenly becoming more lively. §He brought me a green apple! Yes!§

The Severus head gave a hissy scoff. §At least the bird is dead this time. He'd good for something.§

§I do say, that rat is a lot larger than the last one he brought me,§ commented the Hermione head. §We are spoiled. At least someone knows how to treat us well. If only he could take us away from here. I am tired of being here.§

§Humans are stupid,§ Severus hissed. §We'll be stuck in here for the rest of our days!§

Harry deposited each meal on the ground about a foot from the Runespoor. The being was a very fast one and this one in particular was two feet longer than the usual seven feet that Runespoors grew. Also, this one had lived longer than most because Harry had managed to keep them happy.

Being able to understand the various beast tongues had aided him in making the lives of the creatures at Hogwarts, better. Runespoors usually died quickly due to the left and middle heads chewing off the right head because they became too annoying.

Being able to understand their needs directly had kept them happy and willing to behave for him more than others. They also begrudgingly liked Hagrid because he liked to give them good rub downs and baths with scentless soap.

Hagrid was just lovable and adored animals and magical creatures with everything in him.

"Hagrid, can I take them out for a while? They look like they need some excitement."

Runespoors could understand English even though they could not speak it. The three heads, having swiftly finished their fare, all straightened, looking up at Hagrid as if he held the key to their hearts. Luna was doing a smashing job of looking depressed. If it was possible for a snake to look depressed.

"They're lonely, Hagrid," Harry tried a little harder, hoping he could use the half-Giant's bleeding heart to his advantage.

"Well, a'right 'arry. They seem to like you the most. But don' let 'em attack anyone, yer hear?"

"They won't!" Harry promised, reaching a hand out and smiling when they slithered up his arm, chattering excitedly about the prospect of freedom.

§Oooh! I hope we can see the castle!§ said Luna, her head bobbing happily.

§Anywhere that isn't that stupid cage, is good enough,§ Severus huffed, though his excitement was just as obvious.

Their tail was wagging which was what gave them away. Hermione was silent, but no less ready.

Harry skipped away from the stockade, feeling much better. Today was going to be great!


It had been horrible!

He'd gone to Madam Pomfrey after his time with Hagrid and she had so kindly informed him of the student who had broken their femur by falling off their broom during practice.

Harry looked down at the fourth year Hufflepuff and tried to give the boy a smile. The boy was staring at the Runespoor though.

"Don't worry, they're getting some adventure today. They won't hurt you," he'd tried to tell the boy.

The boy was in too much pain to care. Madam Pomfrey wanted him to determine the best course of action in dealing with the broken bone. The potion to mend the bone with take several days, along with several pain killers and possibly more potions to keep the boy under so he wouldn't be awake for it.

But, Harry was all about practicality. He liked getting people out of the Hospital Wing as quickly as possible. Free beds were important to have at all times and he didn't want to unnecessarily waste potions when there was an easier method.

This he had learned from an idiot who was supposed to help tutor him but was discovered to be a fraud and a moron. Though some of the spells he had learned, which were supposed to do one thing and ended up doing another, had been helpful at times.

The spell was real but with the wrong intent, it would do a different job than what it was supposed to do. And that was Harry's plan.

"Madam Pomfrey, I'm going to need an entire bottle of Skele-Gro."

Mending a bone as large as the femur would take a lot of time, but growing it back would only require a night in the Hospital Wing. By the next morning, the boy would be back to normal and sitting in the Great Hall with all of his friends.

"Geoffrey, I need you to close your eyes and count to five slowly, okay? When you open them, the pain will be gone completely."

Still wary, the boy did as asked and Harry placed his wand over the wounded appendage and murmured that botched spell Gilderoy Lockhart had taught him in the summer before second year.

"Femoris Emendo."

The leg deflated like a balloon then. Every bone in the left leg was gone.

When Geoffrey opened his eyes, the boy had screamed at the sight of his leg, only to be silenced by Harry.

"Sorry kid, but this is the fastest way. Either we re-grow your bones overnight, or we take the long way and have you in here for nearly a week as we waste potions and time. I figured you'd prefer this method more. Hufflepuff is playing Ravenclaw in two days, after all."

He had shoved the entire bottle in the boy's hand. "Drink all of it and you'll be right as rain by breakfast."

If that was the only situation, he would have been fine. But noooooo.

A broken hand, a concussion, and four students with influenza. Harry had been vomited on three times before he'd managed to return to Gryffindor Tower.

The Runespoor had stuck it out with him though. Technically, they had stayed in order to poke fun at the suffering humans, but it was nice not to be abandoned during a rough time.

Thankfully, he found Hedwig sitting on his windowsill when he got to his room, with a letter from his mother and a small package. She eyed the Runespoor distrustfully, but did not start a fight.

His mum was bloody brilliant!

The Two-Way Mirror would be unexpected and he intended to use it to the best of his ability.

And that stupid riddle! What was Snape thinking?

He had earned himself a nickname. Snape the Berk.

Not as fun as Twat Waffle, but still immensely satisfying.


 

A/N: Another is done!

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Chapter Text

A/N: Hello, people!

I don't own Harry Potter.

I have no beta.

ENJOY!

CHECK ME OUT ON TUMBLR. HELLY-WATERMELONSMELLINFELLON. I FOLLOW BACK.


 

Luna Lovegood smiled as she flitted about the corridors. Her feet were a little cold, but she would only cast a warming charm when it became unbearable. She was too busy dancing and humming to really care.

At present, she was going to Harry. He was in the owlery, sending off a letter to his mother.

"Luna? Where are your bloody shoes?! Did someone steal them again?!"

Harry was like a righteous prince and was very protective of the few friends he had.

"That's it, I'm contacting Fred and George because this is ridiculous!"

Apparently he had finally had enough of it. Luna smiled a little, touched that someone would show so much concern for her well being. And Harry had just transfigured a pair of gloves into slippers for her!

"I came to tell you to watch out for the Wood. They seek to overthrow you and a few others in the tournament."

Harry paused what he was doing, which was pacing back and forth. "When you say 'overthrow', what do you mean?"

"His plans are nefarious and he wishes to put an end to the remaining chances many important families have at rebuilding themselves."

"Well damn. Will they go after any of our friends?"

"Possibly so."

"Damn!"


Harry stopped short at the sight of one Rigel Lestrange awaiting him in the library. The boy was much shorter than Harry was and had the head of dark curls and grey eyes that his mother was well known for. He was fidgeting with his tie and seemed uncomfortable.

"Hello, Harry," the boy greeted, voice low and quiet so Madam Pince didn't lose her mind again.

"How are you, Rigel?"

The kid flushed. "F-fine! I just wanted to see if you needed help with the next task. I'm good with riddles."

As a Ravenclaw, Harry expected him to be. But the fact that Rigel was offering to help him was kind of sweet.

"I've already got a plan in place and the first riddle solved. But thanks!"

Another flush. It wasn't unknown to half the school that Rigel was smitten with him and had he been at least a little bigger in frame, Harry wouldn't have a problem in dating him, but the fourth year looked like a second year and Harry was already considered an adult. It would just be weird.

"Can I study with you today?"

"Sure."

The boy could have squealed he looked so excited. And that was how the table was suddenly covered in books and parchments dedicated to Healing of all things.

"I noticed that you haven't been able to get much studying done for your Mastery, so I thought I could help. I found a lot of books in my family's library for different spells and texts dedicated to the craft. Though a lot of them are Dark Arts. I understand if you don't want to touch those ones though."

It was astonishing that Rigel could be Bellatrix's child, because he was so open and friendly. He was also the personification of shy.

And Rigel had taken several books from his family's library in order to help him study.

Harry ruffled the boy's hair, unable to help himself. "You didn't have to do that for me, Rigel."

"I wanted to," the boy insisted. "Do you- would you like to see them even though they are Dark?"

"I don't care if they're Dark. We are taught Dark and Light Magics all the time in school. Just because my parents don't like it doesn't mean I am of the same opinion. I happen to know of several Dark rituals that could fix a myriad of medical problems."

The Ravenclaw sighed in relief. "Wicked!"

And maybe a little hero worship too. At least Rigel wasn't creepy about it like Colin was.

"What do you want to take notes on first?" the boy asked, rummaging through the pile of old tomes.

"Whatever one you think would be most beneficial at present."

The Herbalist's Choice was plopped down in front of him.

"That has a comprehensive list of all the different mixtures of plants that have been recorded since the beginning of my family. My great ancestor, Xerxes Lestrange, is the one who began the interest in the search for medical remedies. Additions are always being made to the book when someone in the family discovers a new method in their travels.

"All sorts of tonics and pastes found from different corners of the world are stored in here. This book is the oldest in our library and is under the most demanding protections available, making it nearly indestructible. So don't worry about ruining it, you literally couldn't burn it with Fiendfyre if you tried."

The tome was incredibly old and the cover was made of grey Vellum and smattered across the spine, were silver daggers. They actually looked like real silver too. The parchment inside was discoloured and was crinkled in some places.

The very first half of the book looked too old to touch, but to his amazement, the pages didn't crumble when he touched them. He could tell Rigel had spoken the truth when he mentioned the age of it.

"Rigel, I think you are my favourite person in the world."

The answering flush was adorable and suddenly, Harry was feeling a lot better about things.


Harry took the magical bag he had been given for being one of the five hundred to get to the next round. Inside, he had shoved his Invisibility Cloak, his Two-Way Mirror, and his coin purse, because one never knew when they would get stranded somewhere and need help. Next was the Galleon they had all been given, plus an inkwell and quill, and a pouch to keep the riddles in.

Overall, he was certain that he was properly prepared for the task. With a nod to himself, Harry joined Hermione in the Common Room. She was bouncing excitedly.

It was the fifth of December, and snow had already begun to fall, covering the mountains in a thick blanket that was sparkling white. It was cold and Harry had bundled himself in a thick, woolen robe for the occasion, the darkest green he could find that nearly blended in with the darkness.

Yes, the Second Task was being held at night. It was eight in the evening and yet it was a black as pitch without a cloud in the sky. The forest looked even more imposing than usual. Everything was a stark contrast against the snow, leaving no one safe from scrutiny.

This task would only be broadcasted over the WWN. This was not a time for spectators to be involved because it would make no sense. Especially since the event was taking place at Hogwarts and the entire school and its grounds were where they would be participating.

They were to all congregate on the grounds in front of Hagrid's hut, where Voldemort would then inform them of what they would be getting up to during the however many hours they would be doing this.

His robe was enchanted with several warming charms, which left him almost impervious to the chilly air outside. Hermione had bundled herself with extra clothing just in case.

"I hope this won't take forever," the witch had commented. "I don't want to lose study time tomorrow."

Because that was all she could think about in life.

On the ground, they met up with the twins, who were also dressed for warmth. The rest of the competition had already gathered in the snow, looking toward the hut where Voldemort, Bellatrix, and Snape stood. None of the man's other followers could be seen, but that didn't mean they weren't around.

"Welcome to the Second Task."

His voice carried, but did not echo. He was calm and collected, not phased by the rowdy people around him. He looked completely bored with the proceedings, and if Harry hadn't known that the Dark Lord was a master at masking his expressions, he would have been easily fooled.

Harry looked around, eyeing the competition and catching the eye of the man from the first task that had nearly bowled Hermione over. He sent a sneer in the man's direction and smirked when he received a glare in return.

"I would like to formally welcome you all to the Second Task. Before we begin the test, I intend to inform you of what you have to look forward to," said Voldemort, a genial and disarming smile on his face.

"I hope all of you have kept the Galleons that we gifted if you with," the man continued, looking amused now when several people stared back in confusion. "Those Galleons are a crucial part to this particular task."

Protests arose immediately as several people claimed that they did not know that they should have kept the Galleon because nothing had been mentioned about it. All the while, Voldemort simply took in the complaints without a word. Once the last person had finished speaking, the man graced them with a devious smile that made Harry's hair stand on end.

"This is a competition that encompasses several little secrets. The goal of course is to prove yourself worthy enough to be my consort. I expect my consort to use their brain to think outside of the box. You cannot expect the booklet to give you all the information. just as life will not always have the answers ready for you to see. Sometimes you have to go and find them yourself."

Voldemort looked so pleased with himself and Harry could feel a small shiver of fear running down his spine. He was definitely one of the ones who had kept his Galleon and they obviously had to do with something important. He had a very strong suspicion that he was not going to like anything that came after this.

"The Galleon will play a crucial part in this task. I personally enchanted those Galleons and made them into Portkeys. Once you have acquired all five riddles that you need to pass, you then have to use that Portkey to return to this very spot. If you return to this spot and you do not have the Galleon that has my magical signature on it, you will not advance to the next task."

Once again, most of the competitors did not appreciate this sudden revelation. In fact, Harry found it very interesting and extremely mischievous of the Dark Lord to do such a thing. That was definitely one way to ensure that the numbers were cut at least in half if not more.

"I will also remind you that there should be a certain number among you all that did not spend nor forget their Galleons. Also, if someone were to lose their Galleon in any way, they will not advance onward, but if someone were to acquire a new Galleon that formerly belonged to another, they would be accepted and will be participating in the next task."

Uh oh.

Looking around, Harry could certainly see the worried faces. So not only did they have to solve riddles, find the places where the riddles actually resided, and get past all of the Knights who were stationed all over the area, without being seen, but some also had to defend themselves against others in case someone tried to take their Galleons. The game was suddenly a lot more dangerous and a lot more interesting.

"As the booklet states, you will need to find five riddles. When you solve a riddle, a hint to the location of your next riddle will be on the parchment. You will have to find all the riddles without being discovered by any of my dear friends. You each have 100 points, and if anyone is seen, they lose ten points. If you have below eighty points, you are automatically disqualified.

"Be wary, for my friends have been given permission to use extreme measures in order to flush out those who are hidden in plain sight. You might also like to know that while there are thousands of riddles scattered across the area, several of them are interconnected. Meaning while one of you may have a hint for the location of the next riddle, somebody else may also have received a hint to that location. The one who gets there and solves it first will get the hint to the following riddle. The one who lost the chance will then be directed to a new riddle."

The man just loved to make this harder and harder. Harry was not fooled by the pitying smile the man was flashing them. He was definitely enjoying this kind of torture and now Harry was indefinitely annoyed.

"You'll have until midnight to complete the task. I wish you all good fortune."

Harry immediately looked down to the piece of parchment in his palm. Since he had managed to solve his riddle ahead of time, he could begin the search for the next. A drawing appeared then. On the back of the parchment, was a drawn rendition of a statue in the courtyard by the West Wing. One of the rare statues that were located on the grounds, in an out of the way location.

He remembered that because it was of an angel holding a flower, that she liked to wave at people when they walked past. None of the other statues at Hogwarts were of angels nor were they nice to people who got too near. Also, most of them weren't enchanted, meaning that they couldn't move.

Reaching into his bag, Harry withdrew his Invisibility Cloak and slipped it on in the ensuing chaos of the other champions. Briefly, he noted that Hermione was already moving, pulling a full-sized broom from her own bag and mounting it immediately.

Hermione hated(feared) flying, but she was willing to do it all for something like this. The twins, who were several meters away, had put their heads together, both grinning madly.

Deeming them all safe for the time being, Harry turned and retreated, hoping he could get the stupid riddles done and over with.


Bellatrix Lestrange cackled gleefully as she began roughly casting every destructive spell she could think of.

Her section of the grounds had been filled with dozens of riddles and she was given leave to destroy the area so long as she cleaned it all up when she finished. So obviously she decided to go big, blasting the ground apart, splitting trees in half, and unearthing giant rocks that she began to practice her aim with.

Five hundred little fools who all wanted to marry her master - except Potter of course - and she wasn't going to go easy on any of them! If they could get by her, unseen, then they had to be talented. She would demand no less!

All she knew, was that Potter had an Invisibility Cloak and had also gotten a riddle from her section. She wanted so badly to test him, but she also kind of wanted him to keep all of his points!

Still, if the boy managed to get by her, where she was seated on L'ange Blanc - the only Christian based statute in all of Hogwarts that was built in respect to some Muggleborn from the sixteenth century - then he deserved to pass this task with flying colours!

Bellatrix wanted to confront Potter most of all and she couldn't wait. It would be perfect!

The brunet couldn't stop her laughter as it rang through the night, no doubt warning everyone to steer clear of her.

She looked down to the parchment and promptly lost all composure.


"WHERE DID IT GO?!"

That had to be a thing in the Black family. Being capable of making someone's ears bleed. Walburga Black was like that. Sirius could get like that. Hell, even Andromeda and Tonks could make eardrums explode if they tried hard enough.

Harry breathed quietly as he held on to the statue. Bellatrix was stomping across the courtyard, shouting curses and blowing things up in order to flush him out. She was yelling his name specifically and he had no desire to meet her in a duel.

She must have seen him put the cloak on. But that didn't bother him much, because it wasn't like she could summon it, like she was trying to do now. Harry's cloak was special for whatever reason and no one but he could summon it. He had never really given it thought, but he praised the gods for such protection now.

Apparently, Voldemort had really given the go ahead to his Knights and Bellatrix was not holding back.

Harry inched around the statue, until it rested between him and Bellatrix. He slowly began to back away. All he needed to do was reach the barrier and then hop over and run for it. He was good at running. Auror Trials sucked very much and his father and Sirius were put through extensive training at least once a week to make certain that they were up to par. Harry had to do it once a week during the summer.

Bellatrix was staring intently at the ground as she fired her curses, and Harry realised that she noticed she couldn't see him, but he would still make indentations in the snow.

Not good.

He backed up a little more, hoping he wasn't kicking too much snow around as he did so.

Harry's back hit something cold and he turned, vaulting over the barrier just as he heard a loud, "AH HA!"

Harry dived forward into a somersault, narrowly dodging the Blasting Curse that made the wall he'd just jumped over, explode. Debris flew in every direction, some hitting his back as he fled. The teen ran for it, knowing that she couldn't see him personally, even if she knew it was him. Therefore, Harry departed from the scene, the sounds of the woman's irate screaming was like music to his ears.

That's what she got for thinking he wasn't good enough to win.


You never have enough of it, yet it's everlasting.

Harry frowned at the riddle on the new piece of parchment. The only thing he could think of that was everlasting, was time. Yet he wondered if that was really the case because not everyone suffered constraints because of time.

Throwing caution to the wind, Harry decided to give it a whirl.

"Time," he said low and clear.

The red ink on the riddle turned green and Harry grinned. Okay, so he managed to answer one on his own. That was so much easier than the word 'facetious' had been. What the bloody hell was a panvowel anyway?

The back of the parchment showed a sketch of a dark tunnel that got darker and less detailed the further away it was.

Harry realised where his clue was pointing him toward and he understood how Snape knew about it. He felt a pang of regret, despite the fact that he had had no part in what had occurred between the man and his godfathers and father.

Not one of Sirius' better moments.

Still, the tunnel leading to the Shrieking Shack was in fact a secret and no one knew about it in Harry's generation. That was a dirty trick to play, especially if someone who hadn't known about it, had found this particular riddle.

Also, not many knew how to calm down the Whomping Willow, which made it even more dangerous.

Snape was a devious bastard.


Hermione knew that Yaxley had a strong hatred for Muggleborns and Blood Traitors. The moron was one of those who thought that Muggleborns were 'stealing' magic from more 'rightful and deserving' Purebloods. Like, the man hated Muggles so much, but then put all of this faith in them to be capable of stealing magic and implanting it into their children. And in doing so, apparently felt no need to burn witches at the stake any longer, considering they would have to know about magic in order to be able to steal it.

She leaned against the tree as she decided just how to sneak past him. She could sneak, but there was a small spark inside of herself, that called for her to humiliate the daft git. She kind of wanted to hurt him a little, just to pay him back for his slanderous speech and actions.

Lifting her wand, Hermione sent a wordless Stupefy toward the back of the man's head and smiled brightly as it made contact. Yaxley went down immediately and she smirked at how foolish he had been to leave himself open to attack. He was not one of the better Knights of Walpurgis, that was for certain.

Hermione slipped out from her hiding spot by the trees, in order to approach him.

Once he was deemed unconscious, she levitated him and plastered him to the cold, stone wall of the castle, where she used various sticking charms to keep him attached. She then proceeded to spell out a message with Flagrate, saying, I am such a pathetic Pureblood. I was defeated by a 'weak' Muggleborn.

Once she was pleased with her work, the Gryffindor searched for her riddle and beamed when she found it in the front pocket of his trousers.

Why is a raven like a writing desk?

The witch snorted, realising that someone who was Muggle raised had written this.

"'Because it can produce a few notes, though they are very flat; and it is nevar put with the wrong end in front!'"

The parchment accepted her answer and she turned it over to peruse the next riddle.

Number three would be found soon!


Sirius howled with laughter, slapping his knee because he could. "She stuck his arse to the wall!"

Lily rolled her eyes good naturedly, because it had been funny. The Wireless was working overtime to give the inhabitants of Great Britain's Magical society a good play by play of the events happening in the Second Task. Unfortunately, not much time was spent on each contestant because there were so many to keep track of.

Voldemort had set up Two-Way mirrors all over the area so that those in the WWN could relay everything. The summerisers couldn't even get a word in because something was always happening.

So far, Harry had managed to make it past Bellatrix Lestrange, Hermione had made it past Yaxley and had strung him up good and proper like the filth he was. Fred and George Weasley had let loose some of their Decoy Detonators already, leaving Avery and Mulciber all turned around… and lacking hair.

Lily still had her Two-Way Mirror on the table in case Harry needed her help for this. She wanted to ask him why he had entered the tournament. She wanted to know what had gone through his head that made him decide to enter. But she didn't want to be pushy. Teenagers didn't like it when their parents didn't give them space.

Lily didn't want to be the type that her son wanted to avoid simply because she was too clingy.

"Mum?"

Lily grasped the mirror and held it up, seeing Harry's face appeared in the small, rounded glass.

"Hi, darling! You did a good job escaping Bellatrix Lestrange."

The boy flushed a little. "Mum, I ran away."

"And you didn't get injured, nor were you seen. You were tasked with getting the riddle, not fighting, therefore you did well. Did you solve your riddle yet?"

Lily ignored Remus, Sirius, and James, who were watching her and the mirror.

"Yeah, Snape left that riddle in the tunnel leading to the Shrieking Shack, so I was able to get it easily enough once I stunned the Willow. However, the next one is leading me to I don't even know where. The drawing looks like a cat, but it has two tails and it looks angry."

The mirror was turned around to face the drawing he spoke of and she had not recognised it.

Lily had no idea where that was, but Sirius had slammed a hand against the table in excitement. "I know where that is! It's on a tapestry in the teacher's lounge!"

Harry sighed. "I have to go in the school now? At least it's warmer in there."

As Harry made his way to the location of the next riddle, Lily sent Sirius a look, demanding that he explain himself.

"It was a prank."

She should have known.


Of all people, they stationed Filch and his bloody cat on the teacher's lounge? Just how many riddles were in there that they had to have a guard? 

Harry looked down at his mirror and whispered, "It's Mrs. Norris and Filch."

"I've got this!" came a whispered yell from Sirius.

His mother held out the mirror, showing his godfather who was literally transforming into Padfoot.

Suddenly, a cacophony of barks from Sirius and growling from Remus, filled the corridor. Harry peaked around the corner, finding Mrs. Norris backing away from his direction, all of her fur standing on end as she hissed her displeasure.

As Filch looked around wildly, trying to find the source of the noise, Harry tiptoed closer, causing the Kneazle to turn and run. Filch ran after her, cursing whoever decided to scare her, and promising retribution when he found them.

"Thanks, guys. I'm going in."

The noise ceased suddenly, and Harry opened the door carefully. He didn't see anyone, but that didn't mean no one was there. Still, he took his time entering and looked around for the tapestry Sirius mentioned.

All the way in the back of the bloody room! Closing the door behind himself, Harry locked it just to be safe.

With an annoyed huff, Harry rushed on over, pushing the tapestry aside and finding a piece of parchment stuck to the wall. And it wouldn't come off.

He tried the reverse to the sticking charm. He tried to use some water, which had no effect. He transfigured a quill into a knife and tried to pry it off.

Nothing.

Tearing the tapestry down. Harry gave himself a good margin of space, before pointing his wand and unleashing the strongest Bombarda Maxima he could manage, obliterating the entire section of wall and all the photographs and paintings with it.

With a pleased grin. Harry bent down and plucked up the large piece of stone that the riddle was still stuck to. He shoved it in his bag and turned to leave, only to nearly swallow his heart upon seeing Voldemort sitting on a nearby sofa, reading a book.

"What are you doing in here?!"

The man smirked. "I'm simply reading. I've been here the whole time, whether you saw me or not is of no consequence. Don't be scared, Harry."

Harry looked down, finding that no part of him was showing and yet Voldemort still knew it had been him. Somehow, that man was capable of surprising things.

"You know what?" the younger wizard began, his annoyance at its peak, "I have thought this many times over the past two months, but I haven't said it aloud. You really are a twat waffle."

There was silence in the room, but the space of a minute, as Voldemort considered his words.

And then the dam broke.

A loud, barking laugh that could only belong to Sirius, rang out from the Two-Way Mirror, which Harry immediately moved to smother. Of course the added laughter of his family made it nearly impossible to cover, so he disabled the mirror and shoved it in his pocket, pretending that he didn't know anything about anything.

Mortified, Harry turned, fleeing from the Dark Lord, through the hole he had just created, before the man could do anything. And he was eternally grateful when the man allowed him to leave without so much as a rejoinder. Thank Merlin for small mercies.

And damn his mouth!


James Potter stared at his wife. The Two-Way Mirror was blank in the center of their kitchen table. Sirius and Remus were staring at it expectantly, but nothing was happening.

"You don't think Voldemort punished him for it, do you?" Lily asked, finally voicing all of their worries.

Before James could hop on the affirmative, Remus shook his head.

"I don't think so. It's strange, but the man sounded almost teasing. As if he was flirting."

"What?!" Sirius demanded, looking horrified.

The werewolf shrugged. "Did you not hear how he said Harry's name? It sounded as if they were on close terms if Harry was willing to get cheeky with him and he simply responded with a taunt."

James felt like he was going to vomit. Voldemort, the Dark Tosser, interested in his son. It was wrong on every level it could be wrong on.

"If Voldemort is interested in Harry, then he would obviously try to keep Harry within his sphere of reference," said Lily, a look of realisation coming over her face. "And if they are on teasing terms, let alone speaking terms, then they must have met a few times before that. And as Harry seemed annoyed, I would hazard a guess that Voldemort initiated all contact."

Remus' face took on the same expression. "Voldemort entered Harry into the tournament."

The air was stiff in the kitchen, with the four magicals deeply disturbed by the revelation that made sense. A lot of sense.

"But why remain in the competition if someone else entered him?" Sirius asked, much to James' relief.

"He's a Slytherin. No doubt he was crafty about convincing Harry to compete. Or maybe he used his charm. He is good looking," said Remus, causing Sirius to gape in offense.

"Padfoot, he is attractive. He probably knows how to use his looks to get what he wants too."

"But Harry isn't one to be swayed by looks," James pointed out. "He wants a spouse whom he can connect deeply with. You know, to read with, argue with, and who will understand him. He wouldn't be taken in by beauty. Besides, it's all artificial. He used to be snakey if you remember what Dumbledore said."

"Whatever it is," Lily interrupted, casting a glare around the table, "we now know why Harry is competing. I hope I can get the full answer out of him in my next letter."

"Do it. Bribe him with treacle tart if you have to."

After all, Harry loved treacle tart.


Hermione had not expected this. She had seen the man giving Harry dirty looks, but she hadn't expected to get in between whatever was going on between them. Or rather, whatever problem the man had with Harry.

His name was Reginald DuBois and he had some kind of issue with Harry, and was therefore pushing his frustration out on her.

"What do you want?!" the brunet demanded as she redirected the Cruciatus. The man was actually trying to use something so terrible. This meant that he was looking to cause harm. Not to take her Galleon. He wanted to hurt her badly, if not kill her.

Many things were worse than death.

"You're friends with Potter, that's bad enough."

Hermione jumped back, dodging a reductor that had been aimed at her head. He couldn't think that he would get away with it? Killing was not allowed in the tournament and each task was being monitored!

Raising her wand, Hermione cast the Sonorous Charm and screamed loudly.

The piercing noise made the man reach for his ears, giving her a second to retaliate.

Sometimes, playing fair was not in the works. If this man was going to be using Unforgivables, then Hermione would retaliate, without causing pain or death.

"Imperio!"

Hermione had never tried to cast this curse before, but she had studied it in detail and made sure she knew every law concerning it. Hermione knew that it dealt with will and if a person had a weak will, they wouldn't be able to pull off the spell.

There was a sort of rush flowing through her body and it felt like she had just gotten on a roller-coaster. Her blood was pounding in her ears and her magic just felt… so amazing.

That might be the addictive quality that accompanied the curse.

There was a sort of pull. She felt like there was a band wrapped around her body and it was being tugged on insistently. DuBois was fighting the Imperius. Huffing, Hermione forced more energy and her intent into the curse, demanding that he bend to her will and become compliant with her orders for him to stop everything he was doing.

Within seconds, the strange band went lax and DuBois settled, a blank stare on his face.

You will turn around and continue to search for more riddles, the witch ordered.

As DuBois turned to leave, a spark of inspiration hit.

But give me your first two riddles before you go.

With a devious smirk, Hermione left the courtyard feeling much better than when she had been corralled in there.

She had to find Harry and tell him to be careful.

With a last glance around, Hermione activated her Portkey, allowing it to whisk her away to the starting point.

This had been an interesting task.


Voldemort sat in the lounge, contemplating one Harry James Potter and marveling the boy's intestinal fortitude.

Voldemort had been called many things in his long life.

Freak, Boy, Riddle, Monster, Horror, Murderer, Slimy Slytherin, Snake, and Noseless. Not once had anyone ever had the audacity to call him such a thing as 'twat waffle' to his face, let alone within hearing distance.

Of all the insults the boy could have come up with, the best he had was 'twat waffle'. Voldemort didn't know whether to be offended or amused. He settled for a mixture of both, because he found the way it had been said, to be humorous, even if he did not agree with the name itself.

He was more of a tosser, really.

The Dark Lord Apparated then, because he could. Being the one who set the new wards around Hogwarts, he could do whatever he wanted within the confines of the wards. Unlike some.

He found himself staring at a sea of faces, with one Hermione Granger among the lot, but Harry nowhere to be seen. Severus stood off to the side, looking more pale than the last time Voldemort had seen him.

"How goes the competition, Severus?"

"My Lord, the first few dozen have arrived. Some through luck and others by extraordinary means," the man said in a low, confiding tone.

"Oh? Do tell."

"Granger used the Imperius when DuBois tried to Crucio her. She then forced him to give her two of his riddles, which made her one of the first people to return."

Unable to help himself, the Dark Lord looked over in the girl's direction, finding her staring off at the sky, blinking rapidly. She might not have been able to cast the curse for very long, but she had managed to succeed. Still, for someone with a Light Core, using Dark Magic was likely going to turn her into an addict if she did not see the Medi-Witch once the task ended.

She was obviously dazed and suffering withdrawal over only a few seconds of exposure to the curse.

Still, it was impressive that she had managed to take control of a man twice her age. A man who was also supposed to be one of the greatest minds of the last half century.

How far DuBois had fallen in his quest to thwart the rules.

"And the rest?"

"Granger also dealt with Yaxley and no one has bothered to awaken him yet."

Perhaps he should give Hermione Granger more consideration in the tournament. There was much capability there.

"Potter is coming."

Voldemort wouldn't admit to the fact that he perked up a bit. He was just pleased that one of his favourites had made it.

Potter stomped up to Severus and handed over his five riddles and Galleon before going to join his friend. He didn't even spare Voldemort a glance.

Rude.

"Trouble in paradise, my Lord?"

"Severus, you really don't want to say anything else right now."

The man took the hint(threat) for what it was.


Harry stared at the scroll he had been given. It contained the hint he would need for the next task. Despite running into Voldemort, he hadn't lost any points because the man wasn't a judge, just a spectator.

The Third Task will take place on 24 January 1998.

For this task, it would behoove you to have
your charmed bags filled with various items.
Depending on the competitor, there will be
Transfiguration, Runes, Alchemy, Spell Creation,
Creation, and even some extra surprises.

Remember, this is a test of ingenuity and there
is a certain level of danger involved.

The best of fortune to you!

Harry sighed. At least he and his friends had made it out and no one died.

However, he was going to have to deal with DuBois at some point. If only he could do so without getting caught.

It was time to take Malfoy up on that offer from third year.


 

A/N: Another is done!

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Chapter Text

A/N: Hello, people!

I don't own Harry Potter.

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Harry was seated at the Slytherin table, not something that he found himself doing a lot. Still. He was a man on a mission and the one who could help him - who actually promised to aid him in their third year after Harry rescued him from an embarrassing situation involving butter, spiders, and a glue stick - was Draco Malfoy.

"So what exactly do you need my help for, Potter?" asked the blond as he primly cut up his chicken. The other took his etiquette lessons very seriously.

"What do you know about Reginald DuBois?"

Suddenly, their section of the table went quiet as several Slytherins looked over in interest. Harry could feel his unease growing.

"What's so special about him? His family's conflict with yours ended twenty years ago."

Harry knew nothing about that.

The teen leaned in closer in order to keep his business secret. Or at least more secretive than before.

"Luna has particular skill in… clairvoyance. She warned me before the Second Task, that someone had a nefarious plan in mind to stop several prominent families from continuing their lines. She referred to the person as Wood, and DuBois' family name means the same. Also, he has attacked me once, and he attacked Hermione during the task, simply because she is my friend. I wanted to know more about him so that I can plan to deal with him before he can retaliate for Hermione and whatever Dark Magic she used on him."

Among the muffled mutterings of the impressed Slytherins, Harry could see a glint of something appear in Draco's eye.

"DuBois has had conflict with many families, mine included. If he is planning something, I will have to tell my father."

Malfoy looked around to his fellow Slytherins. "Warn all of your parents as well. Using the Tournament would be a perfect opportunity to get rid of us if he's crafty enough to do so."

The blond then leaned in and began detailing his plan. Having a devious mind of anpther Slytherin on hand was always a good plan.


Voldemort was not often pleased to have to call his faithful together in order to discuss the happenings of late, but with the conclusion to the Second Task happening mere days before, and the upcoming Ministry Ball, it was obviously required for him to know the ins and outs of their thoughts and plans.

"Welcome, my friends. It is a pleasure to speak with you all again."

He allowed them their few seconds of pride, allowed them to feel like they were special and important, before he continued on with his speech.

"We are gathered here this night, to discuss the Second Task and your observations. Yaxley, you seem to have been caught in a rather… sticky situation and were unavailable for most of the task."

Some of the lower ranking Knights chortled at the man's misfortune. It had been very amusing to learn of what the Granger girl had done to him. Well deserved too.

The Dark Lord continued. "I would like to hear any observations anyone may have and if you feel it is necessary, to give a memory of the situation it occurred in."

There was silence for the space of a minute, before Bellatrix placed her wand to her temple and retrieved her memory. She leaned forward and placed the silver strand in the Penseive. Voldemort cast the necessary spell, and the memory appeared before them, allowing everyone to see it.

Voldemort could clearly see the imprints of Harry's feet in the snow and how quickly he had moved in claiming his riddle. When the footprints did not continue, he was given reason to believe that the boy had stood in place for several moments as he waited for Bella to distance herself.

A smart move.

After Harry escaped unseen and intact, Bellatrix was confronted with several uninteresting competitors that were run off or discovered easily. She did manage to unearth some unwanted/unneeded competitors, catching some people more than once and effectively eliminating them from the competition.

"Potter did a fine job for someone his age. Where did he get an Invisibility Cloak though? Those are rare and extremely expensive," Lucius commented, looking intrigued. More like jealous though he wouldn't admit it.

To get an Invisibility Cloak, one had to go through certain channels. The Malfoy Family did not have one and to be second to a Light family would obviously displease Lucius greatly.

Voldemort was actually very interested in the answer as well. But unlike his followers he actually knew the reason.

Harry was very distantly related to him through a common family. The Potter Family came from Ignotus Peverell while the Gaunt Family came from Cadmus Peverell. They and their older brother Antioch, were said the be the owners of Death's Hallows.

But even if there was no indication that the three items of legend were made by Death, they were still considered treasures. So whether they were created by Death or the brothers themselves did not matter. They were powerful and worth a lot money. They were also the envy of many prominent families.

"We have already established that Harry James Potter is somebody to pay attention to in regards to the tournament, but I'm looking for any information that had not been made known in the First Task."

"Fred and George Weasley," said Severus, taking over everyone's attention. "They truly have been some of the most annoying mischief makers I have ever had the misfortune of encountering but they were quite brilliant in their own right. They have been working tirelessly in opening the joke shop that they have dreamed of owning for years. The two created their own products and had decided to use several of them in the task."

Voldemort immediately took notice of how Mulciber winced and rubbed his arm. The Dark Lord had heard about what the twins were capable of, but he had not seen any of their mischief with his own eyes.

Mulciber retrieved the memory as expected of him and placed it within the Pensieve. Immediately they all got to witness the devious actions of the two Weasleys as they got the best if two grown men, twice their age. The Dark Lord could easily understand why his follower had not wished to reveal his encounter with the two redheads. It was one of the most embarrassing things that could happen to a staunchly dark Wizard.

The wizard had underestimated the two because he assumed that blood traitors are not capable of defeating rightful and faithful Purebloods. It was by his own foolishness that he was so easily removed from the game.

Severus had not finished. "While they are not the type that one would consider for the position of their consort, there are still two people to watch out for. The family's status aside, the two are also very good friends of Potter and Granger and should they lose, it does not mean that they still cannot cause chaos in the tournament. All they would have to do is supply their comrades with their creations."

A displeased murmur rang through the room. No one seemed to like that idea.

"I also believe that an account should be taken of their abilities. While they may not be consort material, they have much talent. Taking an interest in their future dealings would behoove many of the people here. Especially since they have an agreement with Potter that if they manage to create fifty original products, he will provide them the funds necessary to begin their shop. They have already begun searching Diagon Alley for a storefront. I have the fullest confidence that they will put Zonko's out of business."

That was basically high praise coming from Severus. The fact that the Potions Master was willing to acknowledge the skill of two Gryffindors, had to mean that they were very good.

Lucius Malfoy had already decided not to take any of Severus' words into account, but that was because the twins were Weasleys. But Voldemort could easily see how Bellatrix was considering Severus' words. Having good ties with a successful business always brought in money. And the twins were Pureblooded, which was obviously better in her mind.

"What about Draco?" asked Lucius, obviously wanting to know about his son's time during the task.

There was a collective groan from the gathered Knights, with Bellatrix even giving him a bland look. "Lucy," began the woman, ignoring the man's sneer at her nickname for him, "I trained my darling nephew all summer long and he demonstrated none of the things that I taught him. I am appalled at how he managed to get caught by Avery of all people."

Bellatrix's words were met with stone-faced silence. Lucius did not appreciate her observations. But it was plain fact that Draco Malfoy did not do anything of great notice in the first two tasks. He was still in the competition, but his chances were not looking good.

"Indeed," agreed Severus. "Draco is going on to the next task certainly, but he did so without style. And he was seen by Avery," the man said, repeating Bellatrix's words.

Avery glowered at the insult that caused many to snigger at him. The fact of the matter, was that Avery was sub par in nearly everything.

Lucius sneered. "Even the worst can experience some good fortune once in awhile. Besides, he was withholding his skill for future tasks."

Voldemort was very much tempted to snort, but he was a Dark Lord and while he was not as controlling as Grindelwald had been, he was still trying to uphold an image. Giggling Dark Lords did not gain the respect of their followers.

"Anything I need to be made aware of, in regards to the next task?" Voldemort asked, steering the conversation back to the original topic.

"My Lord," Bellatrix began, "do you think the Room of Requirement can hold one hundred and seventy-eight people? Or that it's capable of being sectioned off into one hundred and seventy-eight rooms?"

"Dear Bella, the Room of Requirement is capable of nearly anything except creating food and water. We have a month until the task to test everything out however, and if there are any problems, we have all the time needed in order to see to them."

The others all nodded.

"How goes the planning for the Yule Ball?"

The Dark Lord was not one who enjoyed frivolity. He didn't like people and did not like having to be around them. But the ball was a necessary evil, in order to bring the residents of Magical Britain together. Let them have their 'fun' and see that the world wasn't falling down around them.

People were pleased by very simple things.

"Anything else?"

"No, my Lord," the Knights chorused.


"Mione, you okay?"

Hermione Granger jerked, losing grip on her book and watching as it crashed to the floor.

"Okay, there is something wrong with you and damn it, I will have my answers!"

Harry leaned down to pick the book up and set it carefully on the table. "Hermione, what happened during the Second Task? You've been jumping out of your skin for the past two weeks and it's beginning to affect your everyday life."

"Nothing!"

He stared. Harry had the kind of stare that could probably drill holes into the side of your head. The longer he stared, the more foolish she felt, and she had no reason to even feel foolish! It was just the kind of effect he had on people.

"You mean to tell me that you've been jittery and a space case for no reason?"

"I'm no-"

"Mione."

The witch pouted.

"I may have used the Imperius Curse during the task."

There was silence for about a minute, before Harry calmly asked, "And did you go see Madam Pomfrey afterward so she could determine if you were suffering PDAA, or have you stewed in this unhealthy magic for weeks?"

"It's not unhealthy, Harry! Dark Magic is just like Light Magic."

"Mione, your core is predominantly Light. Using too much Dark Magic at once can negatively affect you. Your eyes aren't dilating, your breathing has been abnormal, and you haven't been able to pay attention to anything for longer than a few minutes. You have Post Dark Arts Addiction and you need to see Madam Pomfrey now.

"If you don't go willingly, I will force you to go."

"How come you can use the Dark Arts and not need to go see her?" the witch demanded, finding it to be unfair.

"Who says that I don't? Besides, I have a Grey core, so I can use either without too much affecting me. However, I don't use Dark Magic that requires a lot of energy and power to sustain. You overwhelmed yourself with using a spell that you have never even practised before."

Hermione sighed because she didn't think that anything bad had happened. But Harry did know more than she did about the Dark Arts. And Healing. And there was a reason why there was not an open class specifically for Dark Arts in the school. Because it was apparently 'dangerous' for people who were too young, to attempt to use magic that was beyond their level.

But Hermione was eighteen for Merlin's sake! She could totally handle it!

"Fine," she relented. "We will go to see her now."

Whatever happened though… wasn't going to stop her from expanding her Dark Arts knowledge base.


Lily waved as her son stepped off the train. He was finally home for the holidays and she intended to get whatever she could out of him while she had the chance. But she was going to tap into her sneaky side because she didn't want to be an overbearing mother who her son didn't want to be around.

George and Fred Weasley did not go home much any longer, because Molly had been a little too controlling during their teen years. Her lack of support in their desires for their future, had pushed them away to a certain distance. They did visit every now and then, but it was infrequent.

While Lily admired Molly greatly, she did often use the woman as an example of what to do and what not to do in regards to rearing Harry. There were certain things that she learned not to do and certain things that got positive responses.

Lily wanted the happy medium, where she could be a friend of her child when needed, and be the parent when the situation called for it.

Her heart sang when Harry waved back, a wide smile on his face.

She might not be the coolest mother or the best mother, but her son still smiled when he saw her and that had to mean that she was doing the best she could.

"Hi, mum!"

Merlin it was like he kept growing every time he turned around! Her forehead reached his chin now!

"Dad's at work?"

"Yes, but he'll be home later this evening. I figured you could help me set up the tree and lights before he gets home. You know how your father gets with the lights."

Harry snorted, no doubt remembering the many Christmases/Yules they had spent watching James kick boxes around as he threw a tanty.

James was a Transfiguration Master, but when it came to charms, Lily held the skill. Therefore, it had been decided ages ago, that Lily would put the lights on the tree while James could help decorate the rest of the cottage.

Now however, she could teach Harry how she worked her brand of magic. A certain kind of spell she had developed that allowed the charms to remain in place until she took them down herself, or she died. The second part was kind of morbid in a sense, but it was a kind of magic that she had been proud to create!

And now that Harry was of age, she could pass on her secrets to him and watch as he hopefully passed them on to his own children one day.

"We need to stop for some things in Diagon Alley first. Your trunk is in your pocket, correct?"

"Yeah."

Lily grinned. "The last one there, buys the ice cream!"

She Disapparated on the spot.


Harry was just a bit faster, managing to appear in Diagon's Apparition point a few seconds before his mother. He'd been working on his Apparition over the summer and had finally gotten it down, barely having to think in order to succeed in his travels.

His mother huffed but playfully bumped him with her shoulder. "Pure luck."

"Suuuure. What are we getting?"

"Horace and Severus' Christmas gifts. I also need a few more mice for Shelob. She's been eating a lot more than expected."

"She's energetic, mum. She spends all of her days running around the yard and chasing birds that are capable of flying away in order to escape her. Of course She'd be hungry."

Lily shrugged. "Either way, our Kneazle is a picky eater and needs her feeding."

"What are you getting Snape?"

"Severus loves musicals."

Harry withheld a snort because this was new information and he was going to hang it over the stuffy man's head for the rest of his life!

"He has an old record player but because things are being made on cassette tapes and compact discs these days, finding good musicals on vinyl is difficult. So after we get Horace's gift, we'll be going into London to get Severus'. There's this lovely little shop a few blocks away, nestled in between two buildings, that sells vinyl."

Vinyl was such an old gadget. Gramophones were really boring and time consuming because you had to continuously monitor them.

One thing that annoyed him was how Magical Britain had yet to come out of the early nineteen hundreds. They still used those old radios that barely worked in the 1920s, never mind that adjustments were made to make them work better now.

They couldn't even bother to get newer radios and at least tweak those ones.

"What kind of musicals does Snape like?" asked Harry, hoping to get more information.

Lily simply smirked. "You'll just tease poor Sev later on, so I'm not saying anything."

Well it wasn't like he couldn't see her purchases, so he could be patient.

"Now, ice cream first or mice?"

"Ice cream."

While Harry didn't really mind the small animals, he did not want a pocket full of wiggling creatures while he was trying to enjoy his Double Mint Swirl. Just because they weren't in danger, didn't mean he wanted them in there.

Besides, they'd begin squeaking and pleading and worrying about their fate and Harry wouldn't be able to enjoy his ice cream with a guilty conscience.

Ice cream first! And who said he couldn't have ice cream in the winter?


There was a parcel on his bed and it was wrapped in green and silver trimmings, adorned with a silver bow. It was easy to tell that a Slytherin oriented person had chosen the gift and how it was presented, which meant only a few people could have sent the gift to him.

Snape would not be sending him Christmas presents. That wasn't the man's style. Malfoy was not his friend, so it wasn't possible for it to be from him. It could have been from Slughorn, as Harry was one of the man's favourite students at present. Or… it could be from Voldemort.

But why would Voldemort send him a gift?

Harry cast every kind of revealing charm he could think of, but there was nothing of ill intent inside the package, which meant that no one was trying to hurt him.

With a sigh, he vanished the wrappings and pulled the sides apart, revealing a book. A very old book on Healing.

And the name of the author… Salazar Slytherin himself. Harry very carefully handled the book, even though he knew that Voldemort would have spelled it for protection. But he could not help himself! He was holding a very old piece of history in his hands.

A very expensive and rare piece of history. Voldemort had given him this, because who else would have gotten their hands on an old book created by Salazar Slytherin himself?

The book was extremely large, with each page at least two feet in length and faded to show age. The writing was incredibly old and in what he was sure was ancient Basque, which didn't surprise him as Salazar was not born in what became the United Kingdom. He was an explorer who settled when he met Rowena Ravenclaw and her friend Helga Hufflepuff, who could also perform magic like he.

It would take dedication to translate, but he was willing to do it.

But a more important thing to consider, was the fact that the Dark Lord had personally sent him a Christmas gift! Why? What did he hope to achieve? The man was a Slytherin, so everything he did had an important meaning of some sort.

But what could it be?

Setting the book on his bed, Harry fished around for the note that was in the bottom of the box.

I have already memorised this book and I know that you would put it to better use than
I would at present. I feel no shame in giving this to you. Besides, I am quite certain that it
will return to my library by the end of this tournament.

May good fortune favour you.

That cheeky prat! He was just to convinced that Harry was going to win and marry him that he wasn't fearful of losing an important family tome?

Harry was going to win! He had finally decided to follow Nox's advice. He would win and then leave Voldemort hanging.

Operation: Make Voldemort Suffer was afoot.


Severus hated dances. He hated everything that they entailed and he hated that he had to actively work to plan one. Working alongside Bellatrix was one of the most unfortunate jobs a Knight could have.

Luckily, he'd managed to stop everything from being all glass or all ice. Instead, they settled for silver metals, and royal blue fabrics, smattered with silver trimmings. The crockery was very fine and hand been handcrafted in the Philippines just for this occasion, the colours accented the decor nicely.

It could have been worse. It honestly could have been much worse and he was grateful that it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

"You don't seem to be enjoying yourself," Narcissa Malfoy commented, before sipping her wine slowly.

"I detest these events. Your sister made this more difficult than it needed to be."

"Bella always fancied Yule the most out of all the holidays. I think she was attempting to recreate something our mother did one Yule during my infancy. Mother used all glass that year, or so the photographs show us."

Severus gazed at the crowd that had quickly begun to build and build. He could see Lily's bright head of hair next to Potter's and Black's. Lupin was nowhere to be seen.

The Weasleys had arrived not too long after the beginning of the ball.

Severus could see the twin menaces bobbing through the groups of people standing in random places all around the room. They were headed for the refreshments, where none other than Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Luna Lovegood were standing. It seemed that Longbottom had not made it, not that his grandmother or parents made it a habit to attend these get togethers. If the boy came on his own it would be a miracle.

The small group stood off in a dark corner, observing the rest of the newcomers as they chatted lightly.

They made no move to join the much larger group of young adults, probably because most of the group consisted of Slytherins and a few Ravenclaws. The group of friends were protective over Lovegood, who was still harassed despite how much the faculty and her friends, tried to keep her from being targeted.

It was simply smart to avoid groups of people that tended to start fights or drama.

Severus might have to issue another 'surprise drill' to keep the students known for bullying, in line. And the fools never once noticed that they were the the only ones to ever get pulled aside for the 'special drills'. Dunderheads.


"When do you think we can leave?" Harry asked as the ballroom began to fill up a lot faster.

George smirked, "After the fourth course."

"Surely not, brother mine! After the second course, if your excuse is good enough!" Fred replied.

"You should all want to stay for the entire ball. A lot can happen and you might miss out," said Hermione, giving them the disappointed stare she usually reserved for 'not studying enough'.

"Mione, these things are boring. We could totally have more fun doing other stuff."

Luna nodded her agreement. "Harry's right. The Blibbering Humdingers are usually active on the eve of Yule. It would be a shame to miss them."

Hermione didn't dignify that with a response, probably because she didn't believe in the same things as Luna. "The dancing is starting," she noted as several couples took to the floor. "We can finally dance this year."

"Instead of sitting in a corner with a bunch of other children who aren't allowed to dance," the twins added with simultaneous nods.

Seriously, the rules were ridiculous at times. The children were forced to mingle in a separate area of the ballroom and could not dance or play games. They had to sit around a large table and gossip. It was terribly boring!

Harry merely came for the formalities. He was the Potter and Black Heir and it wouldn't be in good form for him to ignore one of the most important happenings in Magical Britain's society.

His dislike of people had to be pushed aside for a while.

"I don't like dancing," the brunet remarked. "The person you get stuck with usually doesn't know a thing about dancing and would most likely tread all over your toes."

Fred offered a hand to Luna and asked, "My lady, would you allow me the honour of treading on your toes?"

Luna giggled and accepted his offer, allowing herself to be whisked off to the dance floor.

When George offered a hand to Harry, the brunet gave him a low five and wink. With a roll of his eyes, the redhead turned his attentions to Hermione, who sighed and allowed herself to be twirled onto the dance floor.

"Not going dance?"

Harry jumped because he had not heard anyone nor had he seen anyone come over to their side of the room! A cautious look had him groaning. Of course out of all the people to find him, right?

Voldemort in all his attractive glory was stood beside him, looking almost as bored as Harry felt. But he was looking at Harry and his eyes seemed to be a lot more animated than the rest of him. As if talking to Harry was enough to energise him, which was totally impossible. Right?

"Did you like your gift?" the man asked, eyeing Harry intensely, as if the teen's response was important.

Remembering himself and the fact that he was there as Heir Potter-Black, Harry nodded regally and responded, "It was lovely, thank you. I don't believe I will have any way of repaying your kindness, my Lord."

Voldemort smirked. "One dance will be enough, Heir Potter."

Bugger!

Harry didn't like dancing.

Reluctantly, Harry took the man's offered hand and was elated when Voldemort did not swing them both out onto the dance floor with the others. Instead, the man gently placed his other hand at Harry's waist and pulled the younger wizard in. With the other hand carefully holding Harry's left, the teen was forced into close quarters with the Dark Lord and it was either staring at his feet, staring at Voldemort's pecks, the man's chin, his eyes, his hair, or anything else on his body.

Harry settled for his hair. It was sort of fluffy and unlike certain people, not slicked back with gel. It was a natural wave that came from years or combing one's hair into the same style.

Harry much preferred it when hair looked natural instead of hardened into place with the gross sprays and gels people used. Voldemort obviously knew that he was attractive enough to not have to go through all the trouble other people went to.

Twat.

The man did not dance to show off. He didn't swing Harry around or force them up against one another. Despite his cocksure attitude and his annoying self confidence, Voldemort didn't overstep his bounds like Harry thought he would.

As if entering someone into a tournament was the only non-consensual thing he was capable of.

How dare he be an arse one minute and be charming the next!

"Have you any thoughts about the Third Task?" Voldemort asked suddenly, drawing him back into reality.

"Not really," said the teen. "I'm just going to wing it like I always do."

Voldemort's face went blank. "You won't even prepare for it?"

"No."

"Are your friends preparing?"

"Sure. But they are part of this willingly."

He couldn't help but add that little dig in there. Why not? The man needed to know that he couldn't just do what he wanted without there being consequences. Harry would remind him every day for the rest of his life if he had to.

Voldemort did not seem affected in the least by Harry's brash attitude.

"You may think you have remained uninteresting, Mr. Potter, but you do not know how wrong you are."

Voldemort pulled away then, placing a soft kiss on Harry's inner wrist, before retreating into the cramped space of the ballroom.

Harry was left to stare at his now tingling wrist, wondering just what the Dark Lord had been on about and also if he should be worried.


Hermione couldn't help but notice the man dancing with Harry. Harry, who didn't even like dancing. On every spin, she would crane her neck in order to see the two more clearly.

He looked familiar. Very familiar.

It was only when the man walked away, that she finally understood. Harry had just danced with the Dark Lord and no one but she knew! But why did the man seek out Harry of all people?

Her eyes narrowed as she considered the possibilities of what that could mean.

And though she was confident, Hermione never noticed the other pair of eyes that had been watching the two men dance.

Eyes belonging to a very jealous man with very nefarious plans.


 

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A/N: Hello, people!

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ß = Warbletongue. The language of all avian like creatures.


 

'For the Greater Good' was emblazoned on the entrance of the large building. The words had once been smooth and something to be admired, but the wear and tear of the climate had eventually made the smooth surface crack. Individual little fractures ran along the now jagged rocks, mucking up the intended presentation.

The Dark Lord traversed the cold and lonely corridors of the fortress. The grey stones were uneven, proving the poor skill that had been put into the creation of the building. But that was what you got when you Imperiused Muggles who knew nothing about architecture, and forced them into building a fortress for you.

Gellert Grindelwald was a rather foolish man in his youth. He had all of these grand ideas and didn't even think beyond them. Didn't even stop to consider just what would happen when they came to fruition, or how they would affect the world.

Voldemort despised Muggles on principle, simply because of his personal experiences with them. He knew that killing all of them would be pointless, but he wasn't against some good, old fashioned torture, especially of the ones who irritated him the most.

The former Dark Lord was a shell of his former self, placed in the very prison he had had created for his slaves and prisoners. Placed in there by his former lover of all people. Forced to sit day in and day out as nothing happened. Nothing of great interest.

Not many would ever notice how terrible Dumbledore's decision was. Dumbledore had something personal against killing and was a staunch believer of second chances. He always had viewed death as a very last resort, so he had not killed his once friend. He had refused to let anyone else kill him either. Dumbledore had instead, sentenced him to decades in a colourless hellhole, with no stimulation and no physical contact with anyone.

Voldemort could admit that he had an unnatural fear of death. He did not want to die and he did not want to be unknown. Voldemort had been overzealous in his youth and had suffered for it for several years, but he would not take back his actions for they ensured him what he had desired most in the world. Immortality.

And yet, even Voldemort could acknowledge, like Dumbledore had always wanted him to, that death was not the most terrifying thing. Dying in general wasn't too terrifying, even if it was the unknown. It was usually how one died that terrified someone.

Voldemort knew that living every day in the worst of torture would be worse than dying. An Avada Kedavra took less than a second to sever the soul from the body and stop all the organs from working. A quick and painless death was more of a mercy than decades spent in torment.

So Dumbledore had unknowingly been cruel to his love, by forcing him to barely exist for thirty-four years in complete loneliness. Voldemort called it such because it was not Gellert's decision. One could choose to be alone, but no one chose to be lonely. And Gellert's forced isolation for such a long time, had left him to only his thoughts and crippling sanity.

His magic was sealed. The only kind of power he could use was anything related to the Mind Arts. And the man had barely any energy to accomplish such a feat all those years ago.

Voldemort was visiting old acquaintances this day. The day of his birth. The day that exactly seventy-two years ago, he had been abandoned by a weak Squib who couldn't understand why the husband she had raped, had not wanted her or her child.

Voldemort had been given years to consider his family history. And several discussions with none other than Albus Dumbledore, to come to grips with the truth of the matter. Any only briefly did he wonder why Dumbledore had put so much effort into learning about Voldemort's past.

Voldemort did not like Dumbledore. The moment the man had shoved him aside as if he was some monster that wasn't worthy of any kind of help, was the moment Tom Riddle had lost any personal respect for the wizard. But despite his personal feelings on the matter, he wasn't foolish enough to assume that Dumbledore was not powerful nor knowledgeable.

Dumbledore had limited himself to only Light Magic in terms of use, but he still had a wide repertoire of knowledge from every kind of branch of magic available. It would be pure idiocy if Voldemort did not listen to the man from time to time, and Voldemort was not an idiot.

The Dark Lord was merciful. More so than Dumbledore had ever assumed he could be. When he had defeated the Light Lord, he had not killed him nor paraded him about like his followers had wanted him to. Voldemort bound the man's magic, and placed him in the same cell as his once lover/friend, while also taking over the control of the prison and making the accommodations much more humane.

Voldemort was capable of mercy.

The Dark Lord stalked through the corridors, his intended location at the highest room in the highest tower, where the two men resided to this day.

Voldemort made these trips out to Nurmengard twice a year, because he felt like spitefully rubbing his victory in Dumbledore's face, and he liked to get feedback so to speak. Dumbledore was like an unknown adviser to the Dark Lord. Sometimes the man had things to say that would utterly stun and awe folks, and other times he was as barmy as people assumed he was.

Voldemort took all of his words into account and dismissed what he personally felt to be ridiculous, but did always leave with something new to consider or ponder at least for a little while.

The very cell was a lot nicer than it had been when Gellert had solely occupied it. No longer ominous and musty, no grime on the walls. There were two beds on either wall. A loo placed in the far corner, behind a section of wall that had been place in there to keep a level of privacy. The shackles and chains had been removed, because they made annoying noise every time someone wore them.

Warming charms placed routinely to keep the temperature even, and yes, three meals a day. Voldemort was not an unmerciful lord. He did not deal savagery everywhere he went. Only in some instances did egregious action need to be taken.

Voldemort was magnanimous and made sure that people knew it.

"Ah, Tom!" Dumbledore greeted with a twinkle of the eye and a nod of the head, "Congratulations on seventy-two years!"

Dumbledore's prison garb was not white and black like his friend's. It was chartreuse and pumpkin orange, though it was striped like every other prisoner's clothing was. The man had made it his only request when he was sentenced.

They were blinding and Voldemort couldn't stop himself from just staring, every time he came to visit. They were just so appalling that he had to stop and stare for a moment. Sometimes he really wondered if Dumbledore had become addled with age. It wasn't something shocking and it happened to many old folks. The assumption was not unfounded.

Also... "I despise that name."

Just because he understood what had transpired between the two people who had created him, did not mean that he liked either of them. He unfortunately shared blood with both and names from either side of the family. He was bloody Tom Riddle III for Merlin's sake!

Tom Riddle was such a boring name and was in no way unique. Dumbledore had never liked referring to the man by the name he had crafted for himself.

Rude.

"How have you been, Tom? We have not received any Daily Prophet papers in quite some time, so we don't really know what has transpired recently."

Voldemort seated himself in the chair that rested the required five feet from the bars of the cell. Though he could flaunt the law at any moment and even enter the cell if he wanted, he just didn't want to. Sitting in front of the two men was enough.

"I have… begun the search for a consort."

Gellert's head turned to face him then, the interest in his once distant gaze suddenly sharp. "And what exactly does the Dark Lord look for in a consort?"

Both Albus and Gellert shared an intense look before staring at him expectantly.

Voldemort withdrew the Daily Prophet article that he had brought with him. With a wave of the hand, he spelled the parchment into the cell and allowed the two older wizards to look it over.

Dumbledore reacted first. "It is a very interesting idea and reminds me of medieval practises, though incredibly more detailed than the old ways of the Muggles. I can see that you have done a very thorough job at discerning what exactly it is that you are looking for, but you are lacking one thing in this, Tom."

"And what would that be?"

Blue eyes twinkled. "Love."

Ugh. It was always the 'power of love' with the man. Love was not going to bring world peace or save everyone from destruction. Love did not hold the power that Dumbledore seemed to believe it did.

"I don't need love, Albus," the man insisted. "I need an heir and possibly someone who is not a dunce, to aid me in rearing them."

Gellert spoke next. "You claim to be immortal-"

"I am immortal."

"-so why would you even need to have children if you intend to live forever?" Gellert continued, ignoring his sneered words.

"Indeed," Dumbledore agreed with a nod. "I don't think you particularly just want an heir and just want to expand the Slytherin family once more, I think you are lonely. You're looking for someone who can stand toe to toe with you in everything or at least most things."

The two men proceeded to dissect every single thing they could until Voldemort was left to sit and gape.

Apparently he had some kind of 'inner longing'. He 'wanted someone who found the real him attractive and engaging'. And according to Albus, the only way that he and the winner of the tournament would be happy, was if they loved each other, so that he didn't get sidled with some money hungry piece of filth, and they didn't live the rest of their days in utter despair.

"Have you anyone in mind?" Albus asked when it was obvious that Voldemort wasn't going to say anything.

"A few. There is one Hermione Jean Granger who has shown an incredible aptitude in nearly every task. She is the top student in the school and had turned down the Head Girl position in order to focus on her studies and to enter the tournament. She is a Muggleborn Light Witch who wishes to enter the Ministry and become a department Head for either the Department of Magical Education, Runes & Symbols, the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, or the Ministerial Wizarding Register Department."

Both Gellert and Albus cocked an eyebrow, almost in perfect sync.

"Aria McGee is a Neutral Witch who is a Healer at St. Mungo's and she has a very interesting family background that I am curious to unearth."

More like he wanted to know some of the secrets of her family and was considering ways he could blackmail her into revealing them.

"Draco Lucius Malfoy is a Pureblooded Dark Wizard. I'm watching him simply because he was trained by dear Bellatrix and has been tutored by Severus. He has been doing fairly well, but could stand to do better."

Dumbledore did not seem surprised in the least.

"Moriah Zabini is a Pureblooded Dark Witch and is always a topic of interest, though I do not consider her consort material. Not by a long shot. Still, keep your enemies closer than your friends and this has helped me flesh out some of her secret talents."

Gellert rolled his eyes.

"Then there is my absolute favourite, Harry James Potter. He is a Halfblood, Neutral Wizard. The male equivalent of Ms. Granger, with designs on a Mastery in Healing and Magizoology. He was the only person I personally entered into the tournament and he of course, was not pleased. Mainly because he didn't want to enter at all."

Honestly, it baffled him how the boy didn't think marrying him was anything to be excited about. It was refreshing in a sense.

"Tom, why did you enter the boy if he didn't want to be involved?" asked Dumbledore as he sent the Dark Lord a disapproving look.

"At first it was to test his talents, because the boy has many. However he became a lot more interesting as time wore on and I blackmailed him into competing instead of quitting, for the sake of his friend Ms. Granger's safety. A lot of people still do not approve of Muggleborns after all and so long as they aren't caught, they can still target her."

"You are a fool," Gellert stated, much to his annoyance. "You may have ensured that the boy will want nothing to do with you."

"If you want Mr. Potter as much as you seem to, you will have to prove yourself to him," warned Dumbledore. "He didn't enter willingly, meaning that he most likely had no opinion of you until you forced him to compete. His views of you may have been damaged by this and should you win, you will have a very unpleasant spouse by your side. It would behoove you to learn from your mistake and seek to rectify it, otherwise the future will be bleak for you."

Voldemort sneered, but did end up leaving the prison with a few ideas in mind and wondering if perhaps he'd been a little too hasty in his actions regarding one Harry Potter.

He was also wondering how much damage control he would have to work through.


Only two days back from the hols and Harry already had so much stuff to do! And like usual, he was tending to the animals around the castle. On this day, he found himself in the owlery, helping the owls.

They did not need help with food, nor help with water. There was an entire forest and lake for them to frequent. No, Harry liked to go and preen them and give them all a good cleaning. A lot of times, people forgot all of the work the owls went through. A lot of people didn't realise that there was more to them than just being parcel carriers.

Harry had a large bucket filled with several brushes, in his hands when he entered the tower and it was pandemonium the moment they saw him!

ßHarry!ß

ßHarry!ß

ßHi, Harry!ß

ßIt's Harry!ß

They were always excited to see him and it made him a little embarrassed though no one could understand what they were saying. Still, the excitable chirping of Warbletongue made him smile every time.

It was nice to be appreciated.

ßYou all know the drill,ß he trilled to them. ßInjured and unwell first, then youngest to oldest.ß

The birds immediately began to situate themselves in a sort of order around the large room, the first bird landing atop the bench Harry always used.

ßHello, Meep,ß the Gryffindor greeted, patting her head gently. ßHow has your wing been holding up?ß

She flexed the large muscle so he could see how well she was able to move it. The last time he had come to tend to the animals, she had been injured in a fight with a much larger bird of prey and had to rest as he healed the wound.

He'd then told her to take it easy.

ßHarry, I can move again! I can fly now! Can I start taking the mail again?ß

Harry ran a gentle hand over the humerus, radius, and ulna, just making certain that the wound had indeed healed completely and that there was no lasting pain for the poor creature.

ßTell me if it hurts,ß he told her as his fingers very carefully traced over the radiale in order to make sure that the movement was truly unhindered.

When the bird gave no comment, he allowed her to rest as he proceeded to reorganise her feathers and give her a little rubbing.

Sometimes it was just good to get rid of the tension.

Harry used this time to consider everything going on in his life, as well as taking a moment to pat himself on the back for being able to continue his life as it was, without too much interruption from the stupid tournament.

While having to compete, he still managed to get his training in and his self imposed duties taken care of. It was good time management and skill, that was all.

Probably dedication as well, since he refused to let the tournament overtake his life.

Harry was independent to an extent and he was not going to place all of his hopes on something he didn't care about. Most of the people in the tournament at present, were all confident that they would win. Some had turned down jobs for this. Some had turned down apprenticeships, because they were so sure that they would win and not have to do anything once married to the Dark Lord.

As if the man would want a spouse who was lazy.

Voldemort was most likely keeping track of people's lives and just how they were able to handle the drama of the tournament and their own lives at the same time.

Some people did so admirably and others were falling apart.

Hermione was one of those who were falling apart. He worried for her, because she had not stopped her foray into the Dark Arts, even after she had to go through a week of treatment to get her PDAA taken care of.

Harry resolved himself to paying more attention to her actions lately.

ßMy turn!ß the next bird chirped, claiming his attention.

ßHello, Chandra.ß


Dear Sev,

I've been wanting to talk to you about this for a while because it has been worrying me
constantly. I know that you will no doubt have more information on the subject and Harry
appears to be tight lipped on the whole thing.

Remus and I have determined that Harry did not enter himself into the tournament.
You-Know-Who was the one to enter him.

During the second task, I had provided Harry with a Two-Way mirror in order to help him
solve his riddles and James, Sirius, Remus, and I sat by, as he faced the different trials and
retrieved his riddles.

During the task, he was confronted by Voldemort, and Remus described their interaction
as a teasing/taunting kind of thing. It is a bit disconcerting to realise that the Dark Lord has
shown a rather fixated interest in my son and that Harry doesn't seem to know how to control
his tongue when around the most powerful man in the world.

Do you think Voldemort had targeted Harry in order to punish James and I for siding with Albus,
or can he(somehow) actually feel a sort of interest in Harry?

I really don't want to sit at my kitchen table every morning, worrying for no reason.

Lils.

~.O.~

Lily,

To be honest, you are not the first person to be skeptical of the Dark Lord's interest.
However, I can honestly say that the man holds genuine feelings for Mr. Potter. He finds
the boy to be amusing, astounding, and is - dare I say it - obsessed with the young man.

The person that you must watch out for, is Bellatrix Lestrange. She has taken a more
active interest in Mr. Potter and has already sought him out during school. Bellatrix knows
that her youngest son, Rigel, fancies Mr. Potter and she is trying to push the two together.

Not that there are any problems with Mr. Lestrange, just that Bellatrix taking an active
interest in anyone is generally a most unpleasant experience. I would caution you to
do nothing to anger her in any way. Ever since Black hit her with that one curse, she hasn't
been 'all there'.

She firmly believes that Potter will one day take her position as the Dark Lord's most
faithful. DO NOT give her any reason to believe otherwise. The only reason she feels
anything positive for him at present, is because she has deluded herself. Allow the
delusion to continue.

On another note, the Dark Lord knows that your husband and his mutt are Animagi and
only because we are friends, am I warning you about it. Him knowing anything about your
family, that is secret, is not a good thing. Not when it can be used against you. The Dark
Lord is willing to do anything to get what he wants. Remember that.

Take care,

Severus.

~.O.~

Sev,

I find the contents of your letter to be worrisome. James did not take the warning lightly,
but he finally relented and he and Sirius both went to the Ministry and covertly registered
themselves. On behalf of them, I would like to thank you for your kindness. I know very well
that you did not have to, but you were doing it for mine and Harry's sake, and that is what
matters.

I know this isn't in your job description, but could you keep an eye on Harry for me? I
want him to rest and not overexert himself. He is so focused on his plans for his future
that he doesn't really know when to stop.

Thanks,

Lils.

~.O.~

Lily,

Whether it is my job or not, I still end up having to pull Mr. Potter away from his work
at times. The boy is as Gryffindor as they come and tends to do things without thinking.
Such as boldly stating to a Knight of Walpurgis, that he didn't care about the Dark Lord.

I will keep a close watch on him and maybe assign him a detention if need be.

Severus.


"We're cutting you off."

Reginald had not expected his day to begin like this. When he had awoken that morning, he had found himself facing a lovely, sunshine filled day. And then his mother and father had Flooed in without so much as a warning, ruining his morning before it could even begin.

The two looked very displeased and he knew just by the way his mother's eyes narrowed, that he was about to be scolded.

And he knew that it was Miriam's fault!

Those words were the first thing to come from his mother's mouth.

Irene DuBois was a stern woman who was actually the Head of the family. She controlled the finances and the connections. It was their father, Martin, who controlled the personal issues within the family.

Martin was reserved as he allowed his wife to do the speaking.

Reginald was going to receive absolutely no assistance from the man, it seemed.

"For years we have tolerated you because you are our child, and for years you have disappointed us," Irene tsked. "You started a Blood Feud with the Malfoys and the Potters. You cost us our villas in both France and Germany. We had to pay too much in remuneration for what you did to the LeFays, and in truth, we cannot afford to pay for you any longer. You have a Mastery. You will take care of your own dealings henceforth."

They were removing his funds. They were actually stopping the yearly stipend that he got for his trust vault. It was a benefit for the members of the family, especially since there weren't many Pureblooded DuBois left. He now had to get a job!

Martin then decided to ruin Reginald's day further by adding, "If you do not shape yourself up, we will have to cut ties with you. You have brought far too much grief into our family and you cannot even respect your superiors and keep your mouth shut. You are a liability."

When his parents departed, Reginald stood in the corridor outside his room, absolutely fuming.

Why couldn't anyone see that he was just doing what was best? Why did they all blame him?!


Hermione's nose was nearly pressed against the book she was reading. It was a detailed description on the Dark Arts and just what one would feel depending on their magical core.

The Dark Arts are simply a family of magic that incorporates many branches.
It is never wise to submerge yourself into a branch or family of magic without
knowing the basics of them first.

Dark Magic in Tandem with Dark Cores:

If the magical in question has a naturally Dark Core, they will find the practising
of the Dark Arts to be a lot easier on them. The two will resonate and can cause
intense warmth in the body, showing that the person in question, is more Dark
oriented.

Dark Magic in Tandem with Grey Cores:

If the magical in question has a naturally Grey Core, they are of the few who can
utilise either Light or Dark Magics without suffering any negative effects from
either. The body will feel at peace no matter the spell used. The resonance won't
be as strong as it would be with a Dark Core, but the power will still affect them
nonetheless.

Dark Magic in Tandem with Light Cores:

A person with a Light Core can learn how to cast Dark Magic, though it is in fact,
a very difficult process. Many Light wizards and witches have described the feeling
of casting Dark Magic, as 'engulfing' and 'a sinking, suffocating feeling'.

Dark Magic is a very emotion based type of magic and can be all consuming to
those with the naturally opposing magical core.

It is never good for a person with a Light Core to start off their journey into Dark
Magic, with something that requires a lot of power and a lot of concentration.
Those who are inexperienced may fall prey to the addictive qualities of the rush
of power they feel from using Dark Magic.

It is not wise for a Light oriented being to delve into the Dark Arts without an
experienced practitioner there to guide them.

Any further study will done be at your own risk.

So the warning seemed rather serious, but Hermione did not feel as if she was 'suffocating' in the magic. Therefore she couldn't be addicted like Harry and Madam Pomfrey had insisted she was.

Everything was perfectly fine.

Hermione flipped open to the first chapter, which talked about basic rituals and how she could use them in her everyday life.

The Dark Arts were certainly an interesting read.

She'd show everyone that a Light Witch could use the Dark Arts and not be overtaken by PDAA.


"HEADMASTER!"

Severus Snape had not often heard people scream in such a way and usually it was because of something either the Dark Lord had done, or something Bellatrix had done. But this kind of screaming should not happen anywhere in his school.

He left the office and descended the stairs swiftly, barely giving the Eagle time to move aside to let him out.

It was Rigel Lestrange of all people, and the boy looked more panicked than a Hufflepuff when they were confronted by Severus personally.

"It's Draco! He collapsed in the Great Hall and Harry is trying to resuscitate him!"

Severus was already grabbing the boy's collar and dragging him along. "Explain what happened."

"He was just drinking tea, sir! Draco hadn't even gotten to eat yet!"

Which meant that someone had either drugged or poisoned the blond's drink. Someone had somehow gotten into Severus' school and had managed to inflict some form of harm on his godson and when he found out who was responsible, hell was going to be heaven compared to what Severus, Lucius, and Narcissa would do to them.

The students had been forced to one side of the Great Hall. Potter had cleared off a section of the Slytherin Table and had placed Draco atop it. The brunet was waving his wand over a cup, mumbling certain words every now and then.

The boy leaned forward and sniffed, before shaking his head.

Draco was paler than usual and was not moving. His chest rose and fell quickly.

"Professor," Potter greeted him stiffly as he moved, "I shoved a Bezoar down his throat and it stopped the aggravated twitching and screaming. But he has yet to awaken and I need to isolate the different components in the tea he drank. It is scentless and flavourless I'm sure, as he never noticed a difference.

"Black Hellebore was involved, I can tell that much, judging by the swelling of his tongue and the prominence of the veins in his eyes and throat."

He was minutely impressed with Potter's work thus far. "Is he safe to transport to the Hospital Wing?"

Potter was an Apprentice to a Medi-Witch, so this was like practise for him.

"Yes. We will need to flush his system when we get there however."

Conjuring a cot, Severus levitated his godson into it and then levitated the cot itself. "Come, Potter. The rest of you will go about your own business."

Hopefully they could find the cure to whatever was wrong with Draco. The Dark Lord would have to be informed and Severus did not look forward to the discussion he would have to have with Narcissa and Lucius.

Just when things had seemed to calm down, this had to happen and ruin it all.

"Mr. Potter, your quick thinking has saved Mr. Malfoy's life, and for that, I thank you."

"Sir, I didn't save him because I wanted someone's gratitude. He was going to die!"

And that was why Severus Snape preferred the younger Potter. Because he never did anything with the intent to earn praise.


 

A/N: Another is done!

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Chapter Text

A/N: Hello, people!

I don't own Harry Potter.

I have no beta.

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~.O.~


 

Her child was sitting in the hospital. Narcissa Malfoy had never been so worried in all of her life. Not when her sister had gone off on her first raid, not when her parents had gotten into a duel that nearly lost them their lives, and not even when her husband had been hit with a curse that usually castrated men. Thank Merlin that the caster was inept!

And then to learn that Harry Potter of all people had been the one to save her son's life, had left both she and her husband in complete astonishment.

Potter was the child of two of Dumbledore's supporters. He was a child of a Light family and had no doubt been reared in their beliefs. So it was shocking that the boy would go through so much trouble just to save somebody who no doubt believed in something so different than he did. It showed that she and Lucius did not really know Harry Potter as well as they thought they did.

Severus and Madam Pomfrey we're the ones who were in the Hospital Wing when Lucius and Narcissa had arrived. Mr. Potter was nowhere to be seen, but that did not mean that he had nothing to do with the situation. Either the boy had gone to fetch something for the matron or he had made a hasty retreat.

They shared a look with Severus, who seemed as if he had wanted to say something but not in front of the medi-witch.

"Mr. Potter is currently hard at work trying to isolate the different components that went into the poison that Draco consumed," said Severus. "Hellebore was one of them, the boy claimed."

"Have you notified the Dark Lord about this?" asked Lucius and Narcissa made her way over to the cot their son rested on.

"I contacted our Lord first."

Narcissa realised that she should feel offended that Severus sought the Dark Lord's opinion first, instead of the parents of the child who had been attacked, but she also knew that her offense would not be paid any heed. As this was a direct attack on the child of one of their Lord's personal Knights, it was imperative that the man be notified of any possible uprising. For all they knew, this was somebody's attempt at taking control away from the Dark Side.

"Are you're so certain that Mr. Potter will be able to discover what exactly was used on our son?" Lucius asked, cocking a disbelieving brow.

"That boy is many things, but an idiot he is not. I'll give him a few hours at the most. He seemed quite determined to discover what exactly happened. He and the Slytherins seem to have an idea in mind of who has done it because of some information that Potter came across, but they refused to reveal their hand so soon."

Lucius and Narcissa share a concerned look. If the Slytherins were willing to follow along with what Potter was saying, then anything it was would not be pleasant if so many were involved.

"He will have to alert the Dark Lord if it is something serious."

"Alert the Dark Lord of what?"

To their credit, no one in the room made a sound nor moved when they heard the Dark Lord's voice. They were to be commended for their impressive skill at keeping their emotions so well in control. That did not mean that Narcissa's heart was not pounding erratically and trying to escape from her chest though.

"Potter may have some vital information to impart upon you once he returns, my Lord," Severus responded calmly.

"And why can you not be the one to impart this so-called 'information' upon me, Severus?" the man asked, his crimson eyes sparking with danger.

Narcissa almost flinched at the sheer deadliness of his tone. When the Dark Lord was angered, nobody wanted to be in the same room with him. It was usually the worst kind of torture one could imagine.

Severus bowed his head in respect. "Potter seems to have cooked up some sort of plan with the Slytherins as they were the only students to not seem too terribly surprised at what had happened. He or one of them would be able to inform you."

"DuBous," a new voice said, prompting all of them to turn to the doors of the Hospital Wing. Harry Potter strode in, looking calm and collected in the face of the situation at hand. The boy barely spared the Dark Lord a passing glance - which was filled with so much annoyance, it was astonishing - and instead faced the Malfoys.

"My friend Luna told me that somebody was seeking to put an end to certain families. Mine included. She called him 'wood' and said that he had nefarious plans in mind. I'm inclined to believe that DuBois was the one she spoke of because he has already tried to assault me and even attacked my friend Hermione, simply for being my friend.

"Draco is the one who came up with the plan to wait for him to do something and then allow some of it to unfold. Of course none of us ever expected that Draco would be the one to be attacked first. Still, the idea was for this information to reach the public's ears and for them to be told that Draco had not made it. We wanted to see just what DuBois' actions would be in regards to this information and go from there."

"That was incredibly foolish of you," Severus stated bluntly. "You should have immediately come to me, or your parents or anyone's parents with this information. We are already paying Reginald a considerable amount of attention, but this now makes the situation dire."

Potter at least had the decency to look ashamed, but it did not seem that his shame has affected him all that much. "Draco did tell everyone to inform their parents, so if nobody said anything that's their own decision. I simply didn't want to burden my own parents."

"This is now a very serious situation," their Lord said, interrupting Severus before he could even retort. "Harry, you should have said something sooner, but at least we know now that he truly is a problem."

The boy shrugged.

"We will go along with your plan for the time being, but we will be ironing out some details later on," the Dark Lord said with finality.

It seemed, however, that Severus was not finished with the young Potter. He leveled the boy with a very intense glare and said, "Your mother will hear about this."

The answering groan was enough to put a little levity back into the situation.

Only once they had returned home, did both Narcissa and Lucius realise that the Dark Lord had referred to Potter by his given name.


Lily,

Your son seems determined to cause trouble this year and I don't know
whether he is doing it deliberately or if he is a moron. As either
answer is completely possible, I will leave it up to you to decide.

Your son learned that one Reginald DuBois(though rumor has it not for
very much longer) is planning on killing several prominent heirs and is
going to use the tournament as a smokescreen in order to do so. And
instead of bringing this to the attention of any of the professors or even
the available Knights, he and a good portion of the Slytherins decided
to keep the information to themselves and handle it on their own.

Draco Malfoy was poisoned however, leaving Potter to inform the Dark
Lord, as well as myself, Poppy, and Narcissa and Lucius, of what is
happening.

So not only is DuBois planning something against your family and several
others, but your son has known for a while and did nothing about it.

I trust that you will see to him in an efficient manner.

Severus.

~.O.~

Sev,

Oh, don't worry. He's not getting out of this one.

Lils.


On the twenty-fourth of January, one hundred and seventy-eight people were lined up inside the seventh floor corridor in Hogwarts. Eighty-nine people on either side of the corridor, to allow the Knights freedom of movement needed to handle whatever it was that they were tasked with doing.

The look on DuBois' face was enough to tell him that the man had been behind the poisoning of Malfoy. This meant that Harry and the Slytherins and basically anybody who was aware of the situation, were allowed to make the man's life a living hell. He had it in good authority from one Rigel Lestrange that the man was going to have a very trying third task ahead of him. Specifically one that catered to his greatest fear.

The Dark Lord was once again present, and was standing right in front of the double doors that would lead into the Room of Requirement. The man regarded the competitors cooly, his gaze unflinching and his stance strong and confident. He didn't seem the least bit interested in the proceedings despite the fact that they were all there for one reason. The reason he had personally created.

"Welcome," the man said, his voice nearly a whisper. "I feel the need to remind you all, that this is the task dealing with ingenuity and creativity in escaping or dissolving dangerous situations. You each will be confronted with a danger, and will each need to escape it through your own means.

"Each of you will be given a room where your danger is located. Inside, there is only one exit, but if you use that exit before passing the task, then you have agreed to forfeit and will not be taking part in the rest of the competition. My Knights will be on standby should you need rescuing, though if you need to be rescued, you will be disqualified from competing any further."

Harry found that to be a small mercy. The fact that the man had even thought to offer assistance should someone need it, proved that he wasn't as heartless as some of Harry's parents' friends claimed that he was.

Voldemort gestured to Bellatrix, who stood to his left, and Snape, who stood to his right. "They both hold a bowl and each bowl has two hundred pieces of parchment inside. One has numbers and the other holds branches of magic. You each will come up and take one piece of parchment from each bowl. They will determine the room you will be placed in, and the branch of magic that must play a critical part in your task."

Harry could feel his worry mounting suddenly. That did not sound pleasant. And judging by the growing smirk on the Dark Lord's face, it wasn't going to be a walk in the forest.

"The branches of magic will include such things as Alchemy, Runes, and even Spell Creation. There are dozens more branches, but those are some of the most difficult branches that you might be faced with having to use."

Harry didn't know anything about Alchemy! Why would the Dark Lord expect someone to use such an old and archaic branch of magic? Unless… did Voldemort know Alchemy and expect his consort to know it as well? That was evil if it was true!

Bellatrix looked like she was barely able to contain her laughter she looked so delighted. Snape didn't seem to be affected at all by what was going on. A stoic statue as always.

"Come and collect your pieces," the Dark Lord ordered.

They took their turns, walking past the three magicals as they plucked their parchments from the bowls. Harry's heart was pounding rapidly. He really didn't want to have to do Alchemy, or anything like Necromancy. He didn't know if it was an option but considering how magically skilled the Dark Lord was, he wouldn't be shocked that the man might know it.

He was also skeptical of the dangers they would be faced with.

When Harry turned his parchments over, he found that he was in room seventy-seven, and that he would have to use Magical Creation. He breathed a very heavy sigh of relief, feeling the weight on his shoulders had just suddenly disappeared. He had some minor skill in Spell and Magical Creation.

Runes usually played a very prominent role in both and as Harry was taking Runes and was the son of a Runes Mistress - and he also had his mother's notes in his bag - he shouldn't struggle too much. It was as if this task was handed to him on a silver platter!

Voldemort began to speak once again, when all of them had their parchments. "Anyone who has the numbers thirty-seven through sixty-two will need to wear one of these suits," he said, gesturing to a group of various coloured outfits that were lined up beside him. "They are for your protection as you will be handling substances that can negatively affect you should you touch it or even breathe it in. I have personally charmed each suit to keep you relatively safe."

Harry stared at the suits in wonder. Those who weren't Muggleborn or who didn't grow up in the Muggle world, wouldn't know what they were. The fact that the Dark Lord was providing magically enhanced Hazmat Suits, was kind of terrifying. Just what was he expecting of some of the competitors?!

Harry had to snicker when Draco Malfoy ended up being one of the people who had to get into one of those ridiculous suits. And to make it worse, he was stuck choosing either yellow or red and both were the colours of the two Hogwarts Houses he didn't like. Malfoy chose the yellow one.

"I do so hope that you all took the advice we added to your notes from the last task," said Voldemort, his voice almost like a purr. "You will not be provided with any materials beyond three basic objects and a table."

A rumble through the crowd of people showed that indeed, more people had taken the advice this time around, though not all of them.

Hermione twitched, but overall, she gave no reaction.

He was really worried for her health. He might have to take her in for another check up when the task was over.

"You are not necessarily being timed, but the longer you take, the lower your regard falls. Manage your time wisely and most of all, do not get injured, or you will be eliminated."

The protests that came after that revelation didn't phase the ma in the slightest.

"May good fortune favour all of you," the Dark Lord finished with a demented grin, before disappearing with a very quiet 'pop'.


Room: 111

Competitor: Vitra LeFay

Branch of Magic: Blacke Magick

Vitra was a lively woman of thirty-four years and had remained on the single side because she hadn't felt that anyone within her notice had been of interest enough to pursue. However, she couldn't help but enter the Dark Lord's tournament because while she may not like him or even know him, he was still a powerful man with a lot of influence and he was obviously one of the best around.

If she wanted to keep the ancient line of the LeFays powerful and wanted to possibly incorporate the ability of Parseltongue into her children - because she would obviously have at least one to take over the LeFay Line - she would definitely try her very best.

In the previous tasks, she had found herself bored. They were easily taken care of with little to no challenge. As a former Ravenclaw, she was above others in terms of knowledge and unlike most Ravenclaws, she made certain that her practical knowledge was just as good as her theoretical knowledge.

This task was already looking to be much better than the last two, because they hadn't been warned of what to expect. Not much at least.

Her room was plain brown in colour, with stone walls, and a stone floor and ceiling. In the center of the room was a plain, brown table held up by three legs. On the table, was a knife, a hand fan, and a crystal ball. In the one corner, was a Two-Way Mirror.

She scoffed and faced what was supposed to be her 'danger'. It was a man who was standing against the wall farthest away from her. He was merely staring at her, his eyes unfocused. In his hand, was a long blade.

Vitra had to use Blacke Magick in order to pass this task. The Blacke Artes were of the most dangerous magicks. Very few things fell into the category itself, such as Soul Magick and Necromancy.

Vitra grinned maniacally, because this was something she could certainly do. They had basically ensured her another easy victory, but at least she could have fun while doing so.

The witch's wand began to glow a bright blue colour, and she proceeded to draw several Soul Runes in the air.

She had barely finished the last one, when the man charged her, his knife raised to strike.

So maybe this task would be a little more interesting than she had originally thought it would be. Vitra was extremely pleased with the outcome.


Room: 19

Competitor: Hermione Granger

Branch of Magic: Runes

Hermione Granger clutched her bag tightly between her fingers as she entered her room. She had loaded it with as many things as she could think of. The warning they had been given hadn't really specified what they would need, so she had decided to have several things just in case she needed them for some reason.

And the room she was in.

It was horrible.

There was only one door, meaning she would have only one exit. There was a Two-Way mirror on the ceiling, that would no doubt be keeping track of her progress. From the door, was a small, stone bridge that lead to a center, stone pillar.

As she stood in the very center, she calculated it to be three feet in diameter, which wasn't much space if truth must be told. Once she was perfectly centered, the stone bridge leading to the door, crumbled away, causing her to look over the edge and watched as the stone landed in a large pile of sand.

The witch didn't really understand what was so dangerous about sand unless it was quicksand, but as she was not standing in the sand itself, she could not determine just what was so bad about her part of the task.

Distantly, she could hear a rumble. It made the pillar beneath her feet vibrate intensely. She looked around for any sign of whatever was making the noise, but saw nothing. Nothing that gave away the location of what created such a sound.

Hermione's gaze trailed over the sand and she found herself losing whatever calm she had. There were three separate dunes beginning to form in the sand, growing higher and higher. From what she could tell, the sand was about ten feet below where she was stood and those dunes were growing larger and larger by the second.

Hermione had to use Runes to pass this task and while she didn't know what exactly she had to face, she was diligent enough to know that dawdling was not smart.

Reaching into her bag, she pulled out a Rune Carver and proceeded to carve as many Runes as she could think of, linking the standard Runes taught at Hogwarts, with several Runes she'd learned from books over the years. Almost each culture had their own set of Runes after all.

Hermione had become quite skilled at linking foreign Runes together and she had managed to pour her magic into the Rune Circle just in time. The dunes exploded in masses of black insects that chattered loudly and scattered from the tips, filling the small space around her pillar and making large, black waves.

The creatures rose up and slammed into her barrier, covering the ball of light made purely by her own magic, and cutting off Hermione's only view of the lone ball of light that hung in mid air.

She was stuck inside a barrier and was buried in bugs.

Gross.

The noises coming from them were making it extremely difficult for her to hear herself think. Hermione growled to herself and lifted her wand, casting Lumos Solem to brighten the area.

She sort of wished that she hadn't.

Scarabs. She was buried in a sea of Scarabs. Merlin, they were some of the worst magical insects around because they were so disgusting by their appearance and what they did. Since they were believed to guide spirits who had died, magicals also believed that they operated under a specific mindset.

Sort of a quid pro quo kind of belief. Magical Scarabs were carnivores, unlike the normal scarabs the Egyptians respected so highly. She was ninety percent positive that the Scarabs she was protecting herself from, were of the magical variety which suddenly made this task a lot harder than it originally appeared to be.

How was she going to use Runes to defeat Scarabs? And how to do so in a timely manner?

Hermione sighed and began to review all she had learned about the creatures.

They hated fire, but thrived in water. They were very intelligent and operated in a sort of hive mentality. They could multiple if cut in half. Basically, they were the most unpleasant insects in the world and Hermione felt ill at the thought of even being near one.

Hermione cast a silencing charm in order to allow herself what she needed in order to get into the mindset necessary to carve her Runes. With her carving tool in hand, Hermione proceeded to carve Kenaz, Elhaz, and Eihwaz into the stone around her, right at the very edges of her barrier in an plaited pattern. Once she was surrounded on every side, she added a few extra Runes to add on to the protection and the strength the Runes would offer.

Placing her wand at her bag, she summoned a few clear crystals and placed one on each Rune, she then bent her head and murmured several words of ancient Aquitanian(Proto-Basque), which she had been studying very religiously for several years. Ever since she'd learned about Salazar Slytherin's roots.

Hermione had studied up on each ancient language all of the Founder's predominantly spoke. Hermione was the type to exhaust herself constantly in order to retain knowledge, and with her eidetic memory, she was at an advantage. Learning spell work in order languages would surely help her in the Dueling Task.

One by one, each of the Runes began to glow a different colour. She cast a barrier charm and an inflammable charm around herself just to be safe and when the final Rune lit up, the entire circle exploded in a rush of fire, tearing down her original runic barrier and burning hundreds of Scarabs in one blast.

With the flames raging too high and too close together, the Scarabs could not venture closer and instead, backed away from her. Lifting her wand, Hermione carefully crafted another Kenaz Rune, but this time, in mid air.

The magic powered Rune expanded toward the opposite wall, branding it with the mark. Hermione repeated this action until each wall was covered in a large Rune that was burning.

The Scarabs fled, retreating back into the large dunes they had come from, in order to escape the red flames that threatened their existence.

As if triggered, the stone bridge appeared once again and the door that had led her into the room, opened.

Plucking her bag up off the stone, Hermione left before anything else could happen.

She was alive. She had made it out alive, despite having been buried in the most terrifying creatures she had ever encountered.

And she'd done so in under an hour!

She was feeling much more confident now.


Room: 77

Competitor: Harry Potter

Branch of Magic: Magical Creation

When Harry stepped into his 'room' he had thought for a moment, that he had somehow stepped outside. But no. The ceiling was black and littered with star-like decorations and the room was filled with hedges. Hedges that were used to make mazes.

Harry was going to have to traverse a large maze.

Behind him, the entrance - or in this case, now the exit - closed and disappeared. What annoyed him out of all of this, was the fact that he could not see just how large the maze was. The hedges touched the ceiling, meaning that he couldn't fly over or at least climb up to gauge the distance.

And he had to use Magical Creation in order to get through.

The silence around him was broken by a very loud wail. One that came from a creature. The noise was answered with rapid clicking sounds and loud thumping on the ground.

His heart sank. Not only did he have to invent something, but he had to do so without getting injured. This was to test his creativity and ingenuity at getting out of dangerous situations without getting hurt. So either the exit was on the other side of the maze, or it was in the center, which made this all the harder because he couldn't actually see where he was going.

Knowing Hermione, she would no doubt pass her task, which meant that he had to pass this as well. He couldn't just blast his way through otherwise he wouldn't be fulfilling the requirements for the task. So he had to meet the requirements in order to pass.

He didn't know where to go but forward, but how could Harry avoid running into whatever beasts and creatures were lurking within the maze? Talking to them could probably help him, but he wasn't ready for people besides his mum and Luna, to know about his talent just yet. Lily had the self-control necessary to keep secrets and Luna was very loyal and wouldn't dare dream of telling anyone else without Harry's express permission.

He had no problem with fighting, but he was not infallible. Dueling a human was one thing. Humans were limited in their speed and movement, but creatures varied depending on what creature they were. Fighting a creature without having to kill it or get injured would be hard enough.

He wished he could just have a map that would lead him through the maze without confrontation.

Wait a tick.

A map!

Harry was a bloody genius!

Glancing around, he found a table pushed against the wall by where the door once was. On it, were three objects. A candle, a collar, and a coil of rope. None of them would help him, even if he were to transfigure one of them.

But Transfiguration was not a permanent process. Changing the physical form of something was one thing, but the kind of Transfiguration required to change it permanently, was outside his scope of ability. Therefore, he had to use naturally made objects for his plan to work, lest the transfigured object change back and ruin the object he had created. 'Prevention is better than cure' and all that rubbish.

Pushing the offered objects aside, Harry fished through his bag, retrieving the roll of parchment he had brought, and unfurled it in order to place it on the old table. Harry then summoned the Black Quill - yes, he was in possession of one but all important Heirs and Heiresses were - and placed it to the parchment.

The rules said that he couldn't get injured and as they hadn't specified how the injury would come about, he could not chance it but cutting himself like he had originally intended to. Using the Black Quill a few times wouldn't actually hurt him. It was after repetitive use that he would retain injury.

Carefully, Harry drew the Rune he had in mind, the one his mother had taught him over the hols. This particular Rune worked in tandem with a charm she had created, and as he knew that he was somehow being watched by a Two-Way mirror, he could not speak aloud for fear of the spell being stolen.

Intent was a major factor in magic and not everything needed to be spoken in order for it to work, though words helped people envision their plans more efficiently.

Placing his hand over the Rune, Harry concentrated. He was basically making a spin-off of the Marauder's Map. He knew how the original had been created and was applying the same principles here. However, this was simply a map of the room and not an entire building and the grounds it rested on. This would take maybe an hour to fully create, whereas the original map took nearly two years.

Since the Map wasn't a well known creation, he could totally get away with this and none would be the wiser.

Once the charm was set in place - magically connected to his magical signature only - Harry paced back to the hedges and placed his palm directly on the plant. It was indeed alive which made his life easier.

Every living thing had it's own magic. Harry was a magical with a core. He was not the same kind of magical that was burned alive at the Salem Witch Trials. They were magicals of the earth, who manipulated the inherent magic in the earth because they did not posses cores like Harry's people did. That was why there were so few of them. Wicca had fallen out of practice in recent years.

Harry had frequently studied their culture when he was growing up because they could do similar things, but weren't considered the same as he. It was a very interesting topic of choice and he had learned of their belief that every living thing was imbued with its own magic and spirit and was to be treated with respect.

Harry immediately tested the belief and found it to be mostly truthful. He didn't really know any kind of magick that would test if something had a spirit or not, so that half of the belief was still unproven, but the magic was definitely true!

It had to be, otherwise it wouldn't be possible for Mandrakes to exist.

Anyway, with his vague knowledge if Wiccan practises in mind, Harry connected his own magic to the magic from the hedge, and spread it out.

This was a special kind of magic that latched onto the magic of others and acted much like a homing beacon. Every living thing would react in conjunction to his own magic and as the parchment was connected to him by blood, the entire layout of the magic in the room would appear on the map.

Instead of him having to write out specifics - because this was a single room with nothing special inside save for the maze itself - he had a much easier time of creating the map.

He didn't care how long he had stood there, he was simply pleased when he finally reached the end of the maze and his magic could finally retreat.

Returning to the map, Harry found himself grinning. The entire parchment was covered in lines and blinking figures.

Mere feet inside the maze, there were three directions he could take. If he went forward he would encounter an Acromantula about fifty feet in. If he went left, he would find himself nearing a Sphinx after a bit of walking.

Going right was the safe way to go it seemed.

With a pleased hum, the teen packed his bag once more and cast a silencing charm, as well as a scent removal charm, and a hearing enhancement charm on himself, in order to make his life easier.

With a deep breath and feeling much more confident, Harry entered the maze.


Room: 178

Competitor: George Weasley

Branch of Magic: Transfiguration

George stared at the walls. The room was a bland, grey colour and had absolutely nothing inside but a table and three quills. He couldn't really see where the task part actually came into the situation, unless the quills would be charmed to stab him to death, in which case, he should probably burn them to be safe.

He burned them. George was a big believer in the whole, anything bad could happen at any moment and he was trying to prevent the bad from possibly happening. Removing obstacles and dangerous objects was the first step to preventing danger.

Fred would be so disappointed in his lack of adventure.

George spun around, noting that the door had turned red. It was green when he'd walked in there. Was the door the danger?

He looked back to the table, which was still standing in the middle of the room. It was pretty long. Wouldn't an end table have sufficed?

George planted his arse on the wood and kicked his legs back and forth, wondering just when the challenge would begin. He had to use Transfiguration but the only thing he could transfigure was the table. What would the table be able to do? What could he turn a table into? In fact, what was he supposed to be 'avoiding'?

He wondered how Fred from doing. So far they hadn't been separated in the tournament and George couldn't help but worry for his twin. Fred was his little brother by ten minutes. Of course he was going to worry for him!

Man, the room was kind of narrow. Why would they put such a large table in there if it took up so much bloody space?

George had a feeling that this room was made by Lestrange, because he doubted Snape would have made it this boring and pointless. Snape would have probably had a thousand poisons and only one safe potion and the person would have had to determine which was safe, or something like that.

Yeah, that was Snape's style.

George's feet kicked back a forth, his toes just touching the stone floor.

He gripped the table in shock when it suddenly moved! Looking over, George frowned in confusion. He was sure that the table was not touching the wall. Was the table moving?

He looked to the other side and promptly lost his composure. The other wall was almost pressed against the table, just like the opposite wall. The room wasn't narrow like he had thought it was, nor was table moving on its own! The walls were closing in!

He'd been sitting idly for several minutes when he could have been saving himself had he been paying attention! Merlin dammit, he was daft!

How did he use Transfiguration to get out of this?

The table was shoved over and was finally unable to move because it was now stuck between the walls. George slipped off, gauging about six feet of space now. How had he missed that?

Turning, he pointed his wand at the table and began a long series of complicated maneuvers, twisting and flicking his wand until the table gradually changed in colour, density, form, and even matter. What now rested there, was a large block of rock that was making grinding noises as the walls tried to push against it.

It gave some resistance, which allowed George to think of another plan.

Dumping his bag out onto the block, he frantically grabbed at ingredients.

Something to turn his hair blue, a noise maker, canary creams, and a fake love potion even. None of them would help!

George's hand landed on a bottle. It was an experimental powder that would go hand in hand with a spell he and Fred had created. They hadn't perfected it though and he usually didn't experiment unless his twin was there with him in order to reverse any mistakes.

But the rock was beginning to cave under the pressure of the walls and George had less than four feet of space to himself now.

Shoving the rest of the stuff into his bag, he uncorked the powder and dumped it all over his head. The redhead then waved his wand and cast, "Nebulae."

All at once, his body and possessions dissolved from the feet up, tingling everywhere until there was nothing truly left. Instead, what remained in place was a fog. George had turned himself into a vapour.

As the rock gave way and the walls closed in, George felt nothing. His form was not a solid and therefore could not be crushed. He'd changed his body completely, meaning he didn't have to breathe, because he had nothing to breathe with. He was just a mist.

He could feel the coolness of the walls, but felt no pain from being stuck between them.

Slowly, ever so slowly, the walls began to move apart, allowing him to float freely in the brightening room now that the light was visible once more.

Checking himself, George focused his form into one area and was delighted when the door turned green again. Green usually meant good. He floated through the opening and was shocked to find himself directly leaving the Room of Requirement.

Now he needed to wait for Fred to come and help him.

At least he passed.

And he was not liking the look Lestrange was giving him.


Room: 47

Competitor: Draco Malfoy

Branch of Magic: Alchemy

If anything could be worse about having to put himself in danger, it was having to be in danger while wearing the most horrendous shade of yellow and the most unflattering piece of clothing he had ever seen! If Draco knew one thing, it was that Muggles lacked in basic dress sense and he was so offended on many levels at the moment!

He didn't know much about the suit itself, but what he had learned from his godfather, was that they were supposed to protect against something called radiation. Or rather, prevent harmful affects of it, since it was nearly impossible to prevent radiation or something.

It wasn't as heavy as it looked and he was certain that was because the Dark Lord had lightened it with a charm. Thank Merlin for small mercies!

Draco entered the room and noticed that a green barrier dropped the moment the door closed behind him. On the floor in the middle of the empty room, was a rat. A dead rat by the looks of it. And the rat was not the normal colour rats should be!

It looked yellow. As in bubotuber pus yellow, which was disgusting.

Draco had to use Alchemy to win his task. Draco hadn't attend any Alchemy classes at Hogwarts but he was going for a mastery in Potions and he knew about enough in order to attempt to use it. He did not think it was fair though! Not everyone took the offered class and it was as if the Dark Lord had deliberately given certain fields of magic because he knew no one would know them and they would therefore have to quit, which would effectively lower the number of contestants, true. But it was still unfair!

And the note he'd received had told him the room he'd be in as well as his objective.

Somehow, Draco had to do what Muggles considered was nearly impossible, which was cleanse the radiation from the rat completely. He had to somehow use Alchemy to filter out the pollutant without causing any contamination.

Draco barely knew about about radiation so how was he going to survive this?

Radiation was best filtered through lead or so he remembered, but would changing the rat into lead really work?

Alchemy was a mixture of Transfiguration, Potions, and what Severus called Chemistry. To change and purify the physical form of something in order to make it better than it was originally. Draco was sure he could turn charcoal into silver, but nothing so fancy as gold.

On the table against the far wall, was a Potions set. With a sigh, the blond made his way over in order to evaluate the ingredients given to him. The basics as far as he could see. And in order to make the potion with the transmutation properties necessary, he would have to use his bag, which thankfully, had been slipped over his head after he'd put wretched the suit on.

Sighing, the teen waved his wand and levitated all of the ingredients and vials he had brought with himself. Once the objects were spread out, he distanced himself and carefully conjured a slab of metal in order to work on. Lead to be precise.

Because he was smart, Draco did not even touch the rat. He simply waved his wand at it until it rested in the center of his work station. Casting a spell, he found that the rat was not only drenched in radiation, but several other ailments.

Draco shivered in disgust. He hated vermin and reptiles the most. Ironic as he was a Slytherin, but that didn't mean he couldn't hate them. And hate them with a passion, he did.

"Disgusting," he murmured in derision.

Reaching for the bottle of Ammonia, Draco added a drop to the rat's body, and watched as the radiation poisoned flesh bag reacted, flaring violently. It probably wouldn't have been so bad had the rat only been poisoned with radiation, but the rat was also infected with a Bubonic Plague-like disease that most certainly could not leave the room.

That meant that everything Draco was using, would have to be burned in Fiendfyre immediately once finished.

Draco wasn't a bloody Healer! Did he look like Harry Potter? No! He knew the basics, like any good Pureblood would, but he was not looking to make Healing a part of his life!

Ammonia was a powerful substance on its own, and dangerous to touch or breathe in. Severus had been insistent that he learn how to use it because it was required in very few poisons and their cures.

Returning to the small cauldron he'd brought along on the journey, Draco carved the Rune Dagaz on the underside of the couldron before placing it over the provided burner and adding a vial of cold water that had remained in stasis to keep the temperature even. He then added several drops of Ammonia, and a few drops of vinegar. As the heat rose, he stirred clockwise four times and added a sprig of rosemary and a piece of purified salt that he'd personally retrieved from the Dead Sea.

A counterclockwise stir was thrown in, before he added a vial of iodine he'd gotten for Yule two years prior. Half a vial of geranium oil for good measure. The blond returned to the dead body while the potion began to take affect. He knew the basics. He would have to add several more properties to the 'potion' before he could test it on the body.

Perhaps he could try to turn the body into something else.

Maybe a bar of lead. Was it possible for rocks to be infected with radiation? Sev said something about blocking it off a little, but he wasn't sure how good that would be. And Draco may or may not have stopped listening when his godfather talked about Muggles and the potential dangers that came from their world.

He kind of wished he had bothered to listen.

He drenched the yellow form in water and tried to cast a freezing charm on it, only for the spell to melt away within seconds. Draco would probably have to feed it a cure for the plague first.

Would a bezoar even work?

It was moments like these that he was grateful for spells that directly placed potions as such into the stomach instead of people having to ingest them on their own, or without them having to touch the one that needed the potion itself.

Draco moved back to the table in order to grind up a bezoar and add a few drops of Dittany to it, hoping that attempt would help. The paste would them be slathered over the rat's body, while Draco shoved some Dittany in the mouth for good measure.

All of this would have been better had the damn Phoenix that sat in the Headmaster's office, allowed him to have some of its tears! Phoenix tears could heal anything. Any ailment; any disease. But Sev had been determined on leaving the creature alone because he was his own being or some tripe like that.

When the bird decided to give his tears, it would be willingly.

Draco waved his wand over the mortar and gathered up the paste he'd made, he then made sure to slather the entire rat in it, before levitating the rat and dropping half of the bottle of Dittany into its mouth.

"Fiendis!" the blond cast.

It was a very mild version of the Fiendfyre curse. His Aunt Bellatrix had developed it. Instead of burning the opponent on the outside with animal shaped flames, it was to slowly begin heating their body from the inside and the heat would build and build until the burning became unbearable and the body was forced into a fevered state, which would then give way after too much exposure, or make several of the organs fail at least. Either way, death was inevitable.

It was a Dark curse that Draco had been interested in learning. He was going to use extreme heat - though not too much as to start a fire - in order to burn the plague from the rat's body. The energy from the disease was feeding into the radiation and making it even worse.

So first thing first. Purify the plague.

The reason the magicals had managed to survive during the time of the Bubonic Plague was because of their magical ability. Potioneers flourished in that time period with their healing tonics and their advice on how to fight the plague.

Of course one of Draco's own ancestors had tried to use the plague as an excuse for his slaughtering of Muggles, but the fool got caught because the Muggles had resided near Hogwarts and the entire area had been free of the infection because of the magical protection Hogwarts offered to surrounding mountains and lands.

In fact, he was shocked that the infected rat could exist within the building at all. Or maybe the Room of Requirement was outside the scope of time and space in a sense? It would make sense. Some strange magic had gone into the creation of said room. Or maybe Hogwarts itself created the room due to being sentient.

When he deemed the body well enough, he ceased the curse and cast another diagnostic charm. The results were more pleasant than he expected them to be. He'd gotten rid of the fleas as well as most of the disease, leaving the radiation behind.

The glowing of the body had turned orange in wake of the heat, and was returning to a more light yellow, instead of the virulent and striking shade the body had originally been.

With a sigh, he levitated the body into the small cauldron and turned the heat down.

Draco placed one drop of Acromantula venom into the brew and waved his wand thrice over the rim. Another clockwise stir, followed by ten counterclockwise.

It was like winding up a gramophone, at least in his opinion. The stirring played a very vital part in the process of potion making. Clockwise cooled down and counterclockwise forced the heat to rise even higher.

This brew would soften the object of choice and hopefully make it more malleable. He would probably be able to stretch it in every direction once finished. Not that he was going to personally touch the rat unless he absolutely had to.

He'd placed geranium in it because it was an absorbent plant and the oil worked very well in absorbing the effects of illness. His mother had one placed it on his sunburn and it had helped drawn the heat and pain from the wound. Plants reacted to magical cores, which was why certain plants could be applied to a wizard's skin and have such amazing effects, whereas they did nothing for Muggles.

Since a sunburn was a type of radiation poisoning - on a very small scale - he hoped that his foresight would aid him.

Peering into the cauldron, the odd glass over his face shining in the glare of the building light, he could see bubbles forming in the brew. Not the normal bubbles that popped and made little noises. These looked incredibly hard and didn't seem like they would pop any time soon. Especially since they were banging against the side of the silver cauldron, the sounds reminiscent of metal striking metal.

The bubbles sank to the bottom as the body of the rat steadily rose the longer it remained in the cauldron. And the brew that he had delicately created, was drying away. Or perhaps it was evapourating?

Within moments, the mixture was completely gone, leaving a pure white mouse - it was a mouse, not a rat apparently - laying on top of a large collection of what appeared to be yellow stones. Draco levitated the creature out of the mess and placed it back on the lead table he'd created.

The yellow stones left behind were glowing. Distantly, he wondered if he had managed to suck out the radiation. Part of Alchemy was to extract something from the intended subject to either help purify the subject or the extracted object.

With a pleased nod, Draco focused his magic and transfigured the mouse into a small statue, conveniently made of lead.

He'd done it. He hadn't even known half of what he was doing, he'd simply decided to just throw some things together and hope for the best.

The door opened, revealing the Dark Lord and a few Knights, who were all covered in large, silvery domes of light.

"Well done, Mr. Malfoy," the Dark Lord said. "You will need to be decontaminated along with all of your belongings before you leave here."

And that was when Draco was drenched in water.


Room: 8

Competitor: Reginald DuBois

Branch of Magic: Healing

Reginald stiffly entered the room, feeling his heart rate increase. When he had been given the number eight for his room, he had thought that it was just a coincidence, but then he actually stepped foot in the room and almost lost his composure.

Acromantula as far as he could see. He'd been shoved in a room with hundreds of XXXXX creatures! And some of them were bigger than he was!

Thankfully, they were all caged, so it wasn't like he was in immediately danger. Still, he had to defeat hundreds of demonic spiders while using only Healing Magic! Whose idea was that? Probably Malfoy's.

His ire burned all the hotter because the young Malfoy was still alive and it seemed as if Skeeter had been too bloody hasty in her reporting of the incident. While he supported tearing down the fools, he hated it when she couldn't bother to get the right information. Just when his hopes had gone up, they were dashed.

He still had so much work to do now!

SNAP!

His head jerked to the side, finding that one of the Acromantula nearest him, had snapped a wooden plank off of its cage. And now the others were doing the same!

Loud, snapping sounds filled the room as Reginald began to panic, wondering just how he was going to stop them with only Healing. Healing was meant to help, not hurt. And the only thing he could think of, wasn't even possible to do on a massive scale. It would have to be one at a time.

Hundreds of spiders and he could only handle them one at a time.

Pointing his wand at the nearest Acromantula, Reginald proceeded to cast, trying to ignore the fact that his hand was violently shaking.

While it was hell, he did manage to learn that he could vanish a spider's exoskeleton. It was not a pleasant lesson.


Room: 134

Competitor: Fred Weasley

Branch of Magic: Spell Creation

When he and George had gone into this challenge, they had both thought that they would be able to use some of their products in order to pass the task, and then they were separated and that idea seemed to fly out the window along with Fred's independence.

Fred was a bit of a cuddler and liked to latch onto his brother a lot. So being alone without his other half was basically like being abandoned. He couldn't find a way to make light of this situation. Not in the least.

The room was plain, like any other unused classroom in Hogwarts. A few desks and chairs here and there. The only think of interest, was the large box on the one table. It reminded him of one of his father's Muggle radios, but this had large red numbers and two red cylinders attached at the sides. A one hundred on the left and then a sixty on the right. The object gave a loud beep and the numbers began to move down.

A slow, even ticking filled the room.

Fred sidled closer in order to inspect the object further. There were blue and red wires and an odd looking button. He kind of wanted to push the button just to see what it would do, but at the same time, he was certain that he was locked in a room with a Muggle bomb and that pushing unknown buttons wasn't a smart idea.

Anyway, Fred had to create a spell to avoid the danger.

Honestly, this had to be one of the easiest tasks ever! He and George always spent their time creating things and it didn't take a genius - as they both weren't ones - to create a spell. At least, Fred didn't think so. It had always seemed so easy for he and his twin.

So it was either destroying the bomb, placing the bomb in a barrier, or vanishing it to some unknown region of space! He kind of wanted it to explode, but then he didn't know if touching it would make it explode early, so that idea wasn't plausible.

The barrier could work and definitely the time/space vanishing. Technically, the vanishing spell did the exact same thing, but Fred wouldn't be able to use that because he had to make his own spell. Still, it was moments like these that he was proud to be a Soul Twin. Because he and George were more in tune with their cores - two cores for only one soul that was split in half - they were able to see magic a lot easier.

It was a sort of Sight. Not like Luna, who could See everything. It was strictly a magical kind of thing, where they could - if they focused hard enough - see the interwoven webs of magic that made up spellwork. It was a good thing that such a class was not taught at Hogwarts, because if the students knew just how much creation went into the smallest of levitation charms, they'd probably rebel.

Still, it was a fascinating subject and he and George had branched into it deeply. Especially since they were trying to fulfill Harry's requirement of fifty creations. Only four to go before they succeeded, and Fred could simply add to it right now!

This would be easy.


Voldemort nodded to himself, unable to withhold the urge. The competitors had done a marvelous job. One hundred and thirteen people left in the competition and the Dark Lord was pleased.

So many things had happened. So many things to take note of.

Harry Potter had created a map of the room without actually traveling to all the parts of the room. Hermione Granger used her knowledge of Runes to save herself. The Weasley twins had done well and he intended to learn about what exactly what the one had done to turn himself into mist. Draco Malfoy was shaken up and annoyed, but he had definitely proven himself worthy to be in the tournament.

One Vitra LeFay had seemed to come from behind in this task, channeling Bellatrix in order to win.

And then there was DuBois. The man had been the very last to come out of his room and he looked worse for wear, despite having no injuries. The man had impressively vanished the exoskeletons of over one thousand Acromantula. His determination to win was impressive, but he was still an enemy of the Dark Lord and his agenda.

That meant torture. But who should Voldemort gift the man to? Bellatrix usually got to have her fun, but sometimes others deserved to express their creativity. He was just an annoynce currently. erhaps he'd become a bigger problem later on.

And when would be the perfect time to punish him?

On another note, Voldemort intended to pull Harry aside and inform him that he needed to do something about his friend Granger because she was swiftly on her way to becoming like Bellatrix if she did not pace herself and take a breather.

"Congratulations on passing your tasks. I confess myself impressed with the lot of you, for managing to excel in such amazing ways."

He paused, allowing those who cared, a moment to revel in their own ability and skill. He continued on. "The next task will take place on the twenty-eighth of February. The rest of the information that you need, will be found in the packets you received."


Rigel stared wide eyed as the Dark Lord pulled his crush aside and got really close to him. And Harry wasn't pushing the man away! In fact, he looked annoyed.

As Rigel got closer, he nearly choked on his own saliva. Harry had just called the Dark Lord a twat waffle! The two looked over to him, noticing that he was pressing a hand to his mouth. Harry smiled, but the Dark Lord glared.

Rigel was about to flee, but Harry thankfully detached himself from the man and joined the Ravenclaw. As they walked away, Harry tossed over his shoulder, "Thanks for the heads up!"

Rigel peaked behind his curls to see the Dark Lord's gaze firmly set on something. Following said line of vision, the boy eeped and looked away in embarrassment. The Dark Lord was flirting with Harry and was staring at his bum!

"Don't worry about him," Harry said. "He's just being a twat."

Rigel wasn't sure of what he should be mortified by, but he was still mortified.

This was the person he'd ended up being smitten with.


 

~.O.~


A/N: Another is done!

 

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Chapter Text

A/N: Hello, people.

I don't own Harry Potter.

I have no beta.

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φ = Purrintongue, language of all the feline like creatures.


Harry stared at the letter in apprehension. Rarely did his mother ever have to send him a Howler, but when she did, he knew it was going to be unpleasant. And to make it even worse, she had placed a Rune on it so only she and him could hear it.

Or maybe that made it better. She didn't want to embarrass him too much in front of the school. Just enough to get it across that he was in trouble, but not enough to publicise their business to everyone else. He'd only been sent two Howlers before and she might have learned her lesson from the last one.

She addressed it incorrectly, somehow managing to write his surname at Porter, and so Harry Porter got a Howler from a woman he didn't even know and Harry was so embarrassed that he didn't show his face in the Great Hall for nearly a week.

The letter lifted itself off the table red colored parchment folded itself into a small version of Lily Potter herself.

Yes, his mother had somehow managed to tweak the spell used on the Howlers in order to make it create a full body representation of her instead of just her face. He did not know how she had done it, but as a skilled charms practitioner, she could do a lot of things.

Harry, your father and I were very unhappy to have to learn from Severus that your life and the lives of many of your classmates and their families have been in danger and you did not go to an adult about it. I know that you are legally considered an adult in the magical community, but you are still a school student. And there are more than just families on the line.

When we hear the word family, we simply think of a few people in a group, that are related. We tend to not put faces or names to the word. So the word becomes singular instead of plural. A family consists of at least one parent/guardian and one child. That means that there could have been babies with their lives on the line.

I know that you don't think asking for help is a good thing. I know that you struggle with your pride over having to admit that you need help. But this goes beyond just your pride and everyone else's pride.

Whether the other students decided not to say anything or not doesn't matter, you should have gone to somebody higher up. Especially with something such as this. Even the Dark Lord would not have allowed a threat like that to continue.

Reginald DuBois' plans are treasonous to Voldemort's new reign. In fact, he has already broken several of the Dark Lord's vital laws. Just because there was no public punishment, does not mean that they are not working to deal with him.

I want you to learn how to study a situation. When something seems to be going wrong with somebody else or there seems to be a danger, I want you to ask yourself a few questions.

1. Can I single-handedly take on this problem?

Now I want you to replace the word 'I', with 'they' or the name of a fellow student.

This deals with leadership. And a leader has to consider everybody, not just themself and a few others. Your level of power is hardly equaled by your fellow students. Which means that if you personally are capable of handling the situation without a problem, they most likely won't be able to.

2. Is this a threat to national security?

'National' could mean that it involves everybody in the United Kingdom. Or it could just mean the magical section. Either way, if it is against a group of people that might be larger then fifty in number, it would be considered a threat to National Security according the Dark Lord's new laws. That means that any information on it has to legally be brought to him or one of his Inner Circle Knights. Severus, for example.

3. Who would be the best to go to if I decided to tell?

This means that you will consider all of the people who can take care of the situation for you and probably in a better way. The Dark Lord would be the first person to go to. Bellatrix Lestrange and Severus are also others to go to.

Other Knights aren't as trustworthy, and you cannot always place your trust in your fellow students.

4. If it is going to happen whether I do something or not, should I still say something?

The answer to this one is just a "Yes!". If somebody's life is on the line whether you say something or not, then saying something isn't going to change the possible outcome of them dying. It would be best to tell as soon as possible, in case whatever happens to them might possibly happen to others.

If you are faced with a situation that telling others would result in the death of somebody, I would advise you to think long and hard. Will the person just stop at that one, or will they continue on to other people? If that is what seems to be the case, then I would prefer it if you went and told somebody. However I would leave that to your discretion.

In the end, it is not just about your safety, but the safety others as well. Since you adore animals more than people, it would be best for you to replace the thing or person who is in danger, with your favorite animal or creature. Consider how you would react if it was their lives on the line. Maybe then you will understand how serious keeping this information to yourself can be.

We love you very much, and we are so proud of all that you have accomplished. But you still have a lot of growing up to do, and a lot of learning ahead of you.

You aren't in trouble. You won't be punished.

I just want you to understand the severity of the situation.

Love,

Your mother.

When the pre-recorded voice stopped, the little red figure on the table folded itself into a ball. From the ball, sprouted a long, green stalk with a red bud on the end.

The bud unfurled into a red, Asiatic Lily, with petals that curled slightly at the tips.

He couldn't help but smile despite just getting taken to task over his lack of foresight. His mum was awesome.

Also, she liked to rub it in the faces of others that a Muggleborn was capable of reworking already existing spells and making them better. She also liked to taunt others, and refused to relinquish the secrets except to her husband and son.

Harry would have to find a way to finish off all of his own letters in such a mysterious manner.

Also, his mother did have a good point. If animals or creatures had been in danger, he probably wouldn't have thought to keep the situation to himself and would have insisted on the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures coming to help.

Harry didn't want to be a leader, but he also didn't want to be the reason others were in danger. So her advice was sound and he would take it to heart.

She would also expect a reply, which he should get to immediately.


Lord Voldemort considered himself in the mirror, his distaste obvious on his serpentine face.

It was probably the only regret he had ever had in his entire life. The loss of his good looks. No matter what kind of magic he tried, or what kind of ritual he did, there was no way to fix his appearance.

He was stuck as a snake/human hybrid. That led to him retreating behind glamours all the time.

Terrified screams were amusing, yes, but after awhile it just got boring.

He didn't know what about it annoyed him the most. The lack of the nose or the lack of hair. A person would never understand how important their nose was in their overall appearance, until they did not have one any longer. Even though it was the nose that he had gotten from his filthy father, Voldemort would have preferred to keep it.

His appearance caused him a lot of grief. And it wasn't that it was something that was so terrible that he just couldn't handle it, it was that his glamours had to be at full strength all the time so that they did not wear away. It was some kind of magic mixed in with his body, that made it very resistant to any magic being cast on it.

Much like a basilisk.

The glamours tended to fall or wear away during sexual relations. It was irritating to be in the middle of a pleasurable experience, and suddenly have one's partner screaming bloody murder in their ear.

The last time the wizard had been so self conscious about his appearance was when he had realised how much different he had looked from his fellow Slytherin first years. He was too thin and too gaunt, if the pun could be excused.

It wasn't a pleasing thing to remember.

§Stop fussing!§ Nagini hissed from her place atop his bed covers. §You look fine! Any new potential mates should be proud to have your attention. You are regal, like the serpent king himself.§

The only being in the world that actually liked his appearance, was a snake. A snake who claimed that his appearance fit all of a proper snake's, requirements for their mate. They obviously wanted their hatchlings to look striking, and according to her, Voldemort was striking.

Speaking of striking, he was going to have to have a talk with Severus about how they were going to deal with DuBois.

Voldemort waved his wand in a complicated motion, pulling up his powerful glamour with ease. It was time to face another day masquerading as something that he was not. Joy.

If anybody ever attempted to claim that Dark Lords could not feel insecure and unsure of themselves, they were lying and deserved a good Crucio.


A lot of people took magical creatures for granted. Many failed to understand the value of their pets or they just simply underestimated them. Because humans could not connect with other beings and creatures, the ability to understand them was lacking. Harry however, was not among those who were lacking.

Thanks to his inborn ability to understand all animal and creature languages, Harry was capable of understanding them much better than other humans could.

Many people underestimated felines because of how they acted. So many assumed that because the cats did not visibly pay them enough attention, then that meant that they were being ignored. Felines however, do not need to constantly stare at you in order to show you their affection. Simply sitting near you is enough in their minds.

It was something that he had to learn when he was little. Their cat had always liked to sleep in Harry's cot, but not close enough to touch. Only when Harry grew older and began to understand that the random mumblings he was hearing were actually from his family's feline, did he learn that cats had their own way of doing things and that the cat didn't hate him.

Cats did not like it when people climbed all over them and were loud and annoying and tried to monopolise their attention. A cat was perfectly fine with sitting next to somebody for hours in silence. If a cat even chose to be in the same room as somebody, it usually meant the cat in question had found them worthy enough to be around.

The term, 'a little goes a long way', was a very important thing in a feline's life. A feline would only make a big spectacle of something if they felt that it was incredibly important. Things such as kittens under certain ages, loss of food or water, or somebody unknown encroaching on their territory. If a feline continued to make a spectacle when all of these things were fine, it usually meant something was wrong with their health and they were trying to ask for help. That, or they were warning against possible danger.

Cats also tended to work in a quid pro quo kind of mentality. They knew that their actions could bring peace to others, and tended to use that to their advantage. If a feline came by and began to purr, they usually expected to get something in return, like a nice rub behind the ears. It was also proven by a Magizoologist from the eighteen hundreds, that a feline's purr alone was capable of the same thing as a Phoenix's song. To calm others.

Cats knew this and used it to their advantage while acting cute.

They were very crafty creatures, but they weren't mean about it. And they tended to get excited really quickly if faced with something they loved.

Such as Harry bringing his monthly meal for them.

After studying animals for so long, he had learned that certain kinds had an addiction to certain foods. Cats loved fish, so Harry learned how to prepare it a certain way that the cats got all of the needed nutrients and flavours.

Every month, they knew to convene in the Quidditch Pitch at noon, where Harry would bring his specially prepared cat food, and give each of them a nice meal and a good rubbing. The felines who were familiars or pets of the students, and even the strays who wandered around.

During winter months, Harry had them meet at night in the Great Hall, when no one was around.

Sometimes people forgot to thank their pets/familiars. Even if it didn't seem like they did much, it was still nice to let them know they were appreciated. So Harry more often than not, took up the job and let each of them know that they were cared for and wanted.

The Great Hall was warm, the House Elves from the kitchens being kind enough to light the hearth. Bowls upon bowls of freshly made food rested near the warmth of the fire. And there was a feline sitting in front of each bowl.

Unlike with the owls, the cats did not excitedly yell his name when he walked into the room. Of course they all did look over and give him their full attention, but they were much more serene about it.

Harry smiled at them, and gave a friendly wave of greeting.

φHow are you all doing?φ he asked in Purrintongue, his voice coming out with a rumble and an exaggerated roll of the Rs.

There was a collective answer of 'fine/okay'.

Harry knew that once each and every one of them had finished their meals, they would come up one-by-one and explain whatever was bothering them. All he had to do was be patient for a few moments and everything would work out.

The first feline he was confronted with was a Flutterminz by the name of Winx. She was still only a kitten, and was a bit rambunctious. As such, she tended to gets into a lot of mischief.

Judging by the look of her, he could tell that her left wing was bent a little, which wasn't good.

A Flutterminz was a creature that had a feline body, but then had butterfly wings. The wings were incredibly vulnerable and were very easy to harm. Especially during the feline's infancy.

That was why the kittens were not supposed to play roughly.

φDoes it hurt?φ the wizard asked as he cast a numbing charm on the area.

φNope!φ

That was good. It meant that there was no lasting damage, and that it could be fixed without a problem.

Harry very carefully pinched the sides of the left wing between his thumb and index finger. Slowly, he focused his magic and dragged them both over the wing, straightening out the dents, and gently forcing it back into position.

The area healed carefully, and he enquired on any other ailments or possible pain. The answer was a negative.

Once he ascertained that the little Flutterminz was perfectly fine, he gave her a good scratch under the chin, and sent her on her way.

Harry settled himself in for a long evening.

It would surely take a lot of time, but Harry felt that it was worth it.


Rigel stared at the letter that was resting on his plate. It wasn't often that he got mail from anybody, but if he did, it was usually from his father as his mother would just show up unexpectedly whenever she wanted to.

But this letter wasn't written fancifully, nor did it come with any kind of curse for him to disarm first. It wasn't written by anyone allied with his family, that was for certain.

Inside, he found a small poem. It wasn't serious or even remotely touching, but it did startle a laugh from him.

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

Our bedsheets would look lovely,

When wrapped around you.

He didn't know where it came from, or why it was sent to him, but it was cute in a way. A nice, little bit of humor to lighten the otherwise dreary mood that had been hanging off him lately.

Harry had been too busy to spend time with him, and Draco had nearly been poisoned to death. Rigel just hadn't been feeling well as of late.

So it was nice to just get something fun for the sake of fun.

There was no name(s) but as the word 'our' had been used, he could at least deduce that more than one person was involved.

Taking up his quill, Rigel was intent on sending them a response that rhymed as well.

Why not have a little fun while he could?


It wouldn't have come as a shock to anyone if they heard that Hermione Granger had once again pressed her face into a book. Hermione was well known for her love of books and the fact that she tended to cling to them too much. So it wasn't strange that she was obviously very involved and whatever she was reading.

Bellatrix Lestrange new of the Muggleborn. She was one of the top students in the school, and was literally going for twelve N.E.W.T.s. She had managed to take twelve O.W.L.s almost easily.

The girl was one of those rare examples that even with a lacking background, people could persevere well enough to make something of themselves. Bellatrix was certain that she had enough skill to be a Slytherin. In truth, she did not understand why the girl had not been sorted there.

Bellatrix had been leaning against the same bookcase for the past several minutes, and the teenager had never noticed her there nor felt her fluctuating magic.

Bellatrix could perfectly understand why the girl was so entrenched in the book she was reading. It was because the particular book in question, was a book on the Dark Arts from the Restricted Section.

It had not escaped the Knight's notice that the girl had begun dabbling in the Dark Arts. Unfortunately, she had thrown herself headfirst instead of taking her time.

Bellatrix was all for the all-encompassing feeling of the Dark Magic just filling every crevice of her body and soul. She rejoiced at the feeling she got whenever she cast any kind of Dark Magic. But even Bellatrix had limits.

Bellatrix did not immediately start out wielding the most dangerous of dark curses. She was forced to work from the ground up. Not even when the Dark Lord himself had coached her personally, did he have her immediately start out with all-encompassing curses.

Bellatrix could understand the teen's zeal. She could connect with the idea of wanting to know more and wanting to feel that desire that thrummed in her veins in response to the Dark Arts. She understood very well.

But she could not let this continue.

Bellatrix knew that her following actions would not in any way be able to help the girl win the tournament. Still, though skilled she may be, she was still a novice at this sort of thing. The tournament would end within a few months, and nobody, not even the Dark Lord himself, was capable of mastering the Dark Arts in such a short span of time.

Granger seemed to be most loyal to Potter. Potter was going to go on to do great things in the future. While she had her own ideas, whether he decided to follow them or his own pursuits, he would still become someone of notice. Having both him and his friend loyal or at least compliant with the Dark Lord's reign, was the most important thing at present.

Both were skilled, both were powerful, and both had the talent and the capability to overthrow the Dark Lord should they be given a chance. Should they even care to.

Bellatrix was not against using somebody else's friendship or feelings in order to get what she wanted. She wanted Potter to remain on the Dark Lord's good side. That meant playing nice with all of his little friends. That meant weaning Granger off of her Post Dark Arts Addiction.

The woman summoned the book right from the girl's slightly shaking hands, shocking her from her stupor.

Grainger started and looked around wildly, trying to find where the book had gone. When her eyes landed on Bellatrix's form, they widened considerably with fear and trepidation.

Bellatrix was sorely tempted to cackle, but even she was not one who wanted to face Madam Pince if she made too much noise. That woman had done something to her voice to make it grating and annoying. And when she opened her mouth to scold someone, it was just not worth it to misbehave in the library. At least while she was around.

"The itty bitty Muggleborn is dipping her fingers in a pie she can't handle!" Bellatrix sang, her voice high and unnerving. "What should we do about that?"

Granger's eyes dilated as they landed on the book that Bellatrix now held between her thin fingers. It was obvious that she was not all there, if she was completely ignoring the possible danger she was in by being faced with somebody like Bellatrix.

"I'm fine," the girl insisted.

Bellatrix snorted, because she had said the exact same thing all those years ago. She had been so certain that because it didn't seem like it was an addiction, but it obviously was one. And she refused to listen to the people who obviously knew more than she did about the subject.

Had the Dark Lord not taken her under his wing as he had, Bellatrix could have made a fatal mistake in her studying of the Dark Arts. This little girl was well on her way to repeating Bellatrix's mistakes.

"No you aren't. Eventually you'll lose the ability to focus. And with your focus, goes your control over your bodily functions and over your magic. If you do not stop and take a break soon, you are going to crack. That kind of crack, is very difficult to heal."

"Why do you care?"

Bellatrix didn't care all that much, she was just slightly appalled at the lack of discretion and control involved. She also had her own agenda in approaching the girl. It wasn't done completely out of the kindness of her heart. It wasn't like Bellatrix really had any kindness left in her heart, unless it was about puppies, but that was another story altogether.

"You crave it," the woman purred. "You want to feel the sensual caress of the magic. You want more of it, and when you use it, it never seems to be enough, does it?"

Granger fidgeted and looked away from Bellatrix's knowing gaze. Sometimes the truth was too much to handle. Bellatrix didn't care about her feelings though, and she was going to keep going no matter what.

"If you don't learn self-control, and you don't seek the guidance that you know you need, you will fall. And there will be no way to help you. And all that potential that you have will have gone to waste."

The older witch knew what she was doing. She was slowly tricking Granger in to a specific mindset. Latching onto her desire to be better, and manipulating it for her benefit.

She was making the girl understand. If she wanted to learn more, and wanted to succeed in life, she would need help. And who would be the perfect person to ask for help?

In the end, Bellatrix was working the situation to make it seem like it was Granger's idea to be trained by Bellatrix. Instead of it being Bellatrix who was manipulating the entire situation to her advantage, it gave Granger a sense of empowerment that was completely false. Not that the girl needed to know that.

Like the Gryffindor she was, Granger's eyes steeled with her resolve.

"Would you teach me?"

Bellatrix's grin was so sharp, it could cut diamonds!


Harry was in dire need of several new sheets of parchment. Her order of Madam Pomfrey, he had been stuck in the Hospital Wing the former evening, writing out every method he could think of, to heal a broken wrist without using any potions.

Then to have the old witch scan the parchment every time he went to hand it in, and shake her head because there weren't enough methods listed for her, was annoying. However, Harry finally did get to hand in the assignment with over twenty-seven spells and thirteen rituals that could be used to heal a broken wrist.

Thankfully, it was a Hogsmeade weekend. In fact, it was the lovers weekend because Valentine's Day was Sunday and everyone was running around like chickens with their heads cut off.

Harry knew that Madam Puddifoot's have been completely overhauled for the Muggle holiday, and there were no more chances to make a reservation. Even with the undetectable extension charms in the room, there was no more room for any more couples.

It was kind of funny.

Neville had been smart enough to acquire permission to take his girlfriend, Hannah Abbott, elsewhere. Not many people considered that as seventh years, they would be able to leave so long as they were back by a certain time.

Hermione was too busy to date anyone. The witch was so fixated on winning the Consort Tournament, Harry wasn't certain that she was actually planning to date anybody.

Not that Harry was looking to start a relationship anytime soon. People were needy and they wanted attention. Harry was more focused on his studies and keeping his friend alive. If he were to date somebody, he would have to constantly stop what he was doing to see if they needed something or they had to have attention.

He had seen enough of other couples to know that he did not want to deal with any of that anytime soon.

There were several reasons as to why he did not like Valentine's Day. Other than the fact that he wasn't a Muggle and in general magical households it was not celebrated, it also inspired some very lacklustre behavior.

The dark lord had outlawed love potions years ago. But just because something was against the law did not mean that people suddenly decided to follow the law. Harry already had witnessed too many people getting dosed with love potions.

The Dark Lord was most displeased.

The teen didn't really understand the man's absolute abhorrence of the potions, but challenging him was not a smart idea. so nobody said anything.

At least once a year, several students of Hogwarts would find themselves in very precarious situations do to somebody somehow dosing them with a love potion. It had once happened to Luna, in which Harry had not been pleased and had hunted down the Ravenclaw and question and left them… reflecting, on their actions for months afterward.

The problem was that love potions were not used in order to get somebody to actually fall in love with you. People used them to gain servants, or to boss someone around. Or to embarrass them somehow.

Using a love potion equaled a week in Azkaban.

Despite the very unpleasant punishment that came with it, people still used them. He had to wonder. Were people just stupid or did they think that they were good enough to not get caught by the Dark Lord?

Harry very skillfully avoided every couple he came across while walking through Hogsmeade. There giggles and batting eyelashes disgusted him on a small level and he didn't want to spend more time among them than necessary. Public displays of affection made him uncomfortable for some reason.

Of course who else could he have run into while purchasing more items for his classes? Voldemort himself.

The man was perusing a line of shelves and had a stack of books floating beside him. Obviously he couldn't bother to carry his own things.

While the action was ingenious, Harry could help but feel annoyed. Maybe he was just being spiteful, but anything the Dark Lord did annoyed him anymore.

He was unable to get away unseen, because the man was somehow able to sense whenever he was there. There was a flicker of crimson before Harry was full-on confronted with the Dark Lord's penetrating gaze. And slow smirk trailed across the man's face.

"If it isn't Harry Potter," the older wizard purred pleasantly. Or as pleasant as something that predatory could sound.

Harry's only response was to glare.

The teen turned and stomped off toward the register, so he could pay for his things and leave quickly. Voldemort however, did not agree with his decision, and followed him.

They did not speak to one another. Harry even left the shop first, only to find he was being followed a few seconds later. And the Dark Lord merely gave him an innocent look, as if anything that man did was innocent.

He was promptly followed into the Three Broomsticks, and the man even sat across from him at the table he chosen in a secluded corner.

"Is there a reason as to why you are stalking me, my Lord?"

"I want to."

Well it wasn't like Harry asked for a good reason. He kind of walked right into that one.

"There are plenty of other seats available," the teen pointed out.

"So there are."

The twat!

Madam Rosmerta saddled up to the table with a bright grin on her face. However, Harry found it strange that she was only staring at him. "What can I get for you, dear?"

"Gilly Water, please?"

"Coming right up, darling!"

She never once looked in Voldemort's direction. Harry couldn't help but look at the Dark Lord questioningly. Surely the man wouldn't appreciate being overlooked when he was so obviously there?

The man merely smirked.

After a few moments of staring each other down, Harry ended up losing when Madam Rosmerta placed a goblet down on the table. She gave a wink and sauntered off.

Deciding to ignore the man who for some reason, kept following him everywhere he went and seeking him out no matter where he was, Harry reached for the goblet and decided to take a long drink.

And everything went downhill from there.


Voldemort wasn't considered one of the most terrifying Dark Lord's to have ever existed, for no reason.

Luna felt a cold shiver run down her spine at the vision that came to her suddenly. She had to pause what she was doing so she didn't mess up the circle she was drawing.

Dosing someone with a love potion was foolish. To do so in front of the Dark Lord was especially idiotic!

How to make the matters even worse, Harry was not responding to any kind of stimulation!

The blonde set aside her chalk, and departed for the Headmaster's office immediately. By the time the Dark Lord had returned with Harry, Mr. And Mrs. Potter would already be aware of the situation and would hopefully be on their way.

The most alarming part of the entire situation, was the fact that Reginald DuBois was not behind it.


A/N: Another is done!

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Chapter Text

A/N: Hello, people!

I don't own Harry Potter.

I have no beta.

ENJOY!

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Voldemort had tried everything he could think of.

The moment Harry Potter's head hit the table was the moment he knew something had happened. The boy did not react to loud noise, or physical contact. Voldemort then drenched him in water, but it did not work. He just wasn't responding to anything.

And When he stood and started walking off despite his eyes being closed, Voldemort knew what had happened and he was livid!

Petrifying the teen, Voldemort removed the disillusionment charm that he had been wearing. Ignoring the gasps of the people in the pub, he levitated the boy outside, and force Apparated them both through Hogwarts' wards and straight into the Hospital Wing.

Madam Pomfrey was there immediately, asking all kinds of questions that he did not have the answers to. And just as Voldemort was ready to scream at the woman, Severus entered the room followed by both James and Lily Potter, both of whom looked worried.

Following not too far behind them was one Luna Lovegood, who skirted around the adults in order to take a seat beside her unconscious friend.

"Ms. Lovegood had a vision and came to my office to inform me of it, my Lord," said Severus. "I notified Mr. Potter's parents immediately."

Voldemort rounded on the blonde, who met his gaze without even a blink. He had intended to question her, but she was already ahead of him.

A faint pressure against his mental shields was the only warning he had, before he felt himself being sucked inside her own mind. He would have to enquire about how she had managed such a thing, right after the vision she wanted him to watch, ended.

It was the Three Broomsticks, and both he and Harry were sitting at the boy's chosen table. He marveled over how her Sight had allowed her to See directly through his illusion, but he had to focused on Rosmerta as she took Harry's order.

The vision followed the woman as she went to the bar and filled a goblet with the drink Harry had requested. One of the waitstaff tapped on her shoulder to ask where the 'barrels of mead' were, to which she pointed toward the back of the establishment.

All the while, she never noticed a young man in a brown coat, slip a vial of yellow liquid into the goblet she was holding. No one noticed him, actually. He was probably also disillusioned. But Lovegood was a Seer, so obviously she was not fooled by his attempts.

Rosmerta gave Harry his beverage and that was when Harry drank it and fell unconscious. The vision ended immediately after that.

Voldemort had to blink a few times. Never before had someone forced their way into his mind only to grab a hold of him and force him into their own mind. And the thing was, Lovegood had full control over the entire situation and Voldemort had not been able to do anything about it.

It was an unnerving prospect, but for the time being, he could let it go because he wanted to help Harry.

"Luna," said Lily Potter, looking calm and poised as if her son was not in possible danger, "did you see who dosed Harry's water?"

Voldemort found nothing wrong with her question, as he wanted to know the same thing. So he didn't understand why James Potter took a very large step away from his darling wife, eyeing her as if she was a Venomous Tentacula in the flesh.

In fact, Severus was eyeing the woman with obvious worry as well.

"It was Mortimer MacDougal, Mrs. Potter. He's a seventh year Hufflepuff."

James Potter snorted immediately. "A Hufflepuff?!"

Lovegood only nodded somberly. "Yes. He isn't very well known, but he's in the Tournament and he's been trying his hardest, but keeps getting outdone by Harry, who isn't trying at all. Basically, he's been jealous of Harry for years but wasn't brave enough to try anything.

And the only reason he tried something was because Harry was actually alone in the public eye, or at least Harry looked like he was alone."

Voldemort seethed, wanting to find the boy and make him suffer.

Unfortunately, his plans were forced to a halt when Lily Potter very calmly stated, "He's mine."

James Potter took another obvious step away from his wife, and Severus shifted in discomfort.

Voldemort would have to look into that matter much later.


"Focus!"

Hermione tucked and rolled. She kept getting lost in her own musings. Especially with the revelation of what had happened to Harry. She had wanted to be a part of the revenge party, but Bellatrix insisted that the Dark Lord and the Potters were handling the situation just fine.

In the meantime, she needed to practice, and so Bellatrix was putting her though trials.

Nothing like Auror Trials. Those began with easy spells, like stinging hexes. Bellatrix was flinging Crucios like they were free sweets! The older witch obviously felt nothing was wrong with it, and after Hermione had been hit the first few times, she learned that Bellatrix didn't do mercy and that the Cruciatus hurt.

It was supposed to be a duel, but Hermione barely had time to use any of the spells she had learned.

"Concentrate!" the woman hissed just as Hermione was struck in the chest with a lashing curse.

The student whipped her wand around and cast, "Crucio!"

Bellatrix wasn't fazed in the least and batted the curse away.

"You need more control! More understanding! And what better way to understand something that to experience it first hand?"

Hermione barely had the chance to lift her wand in defence. Her shield was quickly overtaken and the red of the torture curse struck her in the exact same place the lashing curse had.

Her teeth cut into her tongue as she fought not to scream, though it was nearly impossible not to.

Bellatrix was sadistic, and temperamental. But she knew what she was talking about. Hermione didn't really know how to control the Dark Curses she had taught herself.

With acid flowing through her body, Hermione could at least understand what those who were subjected to it, felt.

And to be honest, the thought of doing it to someone else was almost… exhilarating.

The pain relented finally, and Bellatrix levitated her until she could stand once again.

"Now, I'm going to summon some animals, and you're going to practice my favourite curse on them!"

Hermione hoped Harry would never find out about what she was agreeing to do. He'd be so disappointed in her if he did.


James and Lily were leaning against a door leading to the Hospital Wing, where their only son lay in a cot. Harry was supposed to awaken soon, but neither had felt too comfortable being in the room because the Dark Lord had taken up residence beside their son's bed. As if the man had a right to be there.

In his eyes, he probably did.

Lily and James shared a look, though neither felt particularly moved to go and join the leader of their society. While Harry might have been perfectly okay with being around the man and even getting cheeky with him, not everyone would be so lucky should they attempt the same thing.

It was simply safer to observe.

Lily tugged on James' sleeve and nodded her head toward the bed, where the Dark Lord was suddenly leaning forward, staring intently at Harry. And Harry's eyes were open, and staring up at Voldemort without an ounce of fear.

"Hello, Harry," the dulcet tones of the dark wizard, whispered through the room. It was unnerving how familiar he was with their son.

"The hell happened?" And of course Harry couldn't mind his mouth, even in a time like this when the Dark Lord's face was inches from his own.

"What do you remember?" the Dark Lord asked.

"You stalked me through Hogsmeade and insisted on sitting with me at the Three Broomsticks."

Lily slapped a hand over her husband's mouth in order to silence his choked surprise. No need to alert anyone of their presence. Not yet at least.

"Stalking implies that there was stealth involved, and as I was standing right beside you ever since you left the shop, it cannot be considered stalking."

Harry snorted. "Whatever you say, you twat."

Lily had to rest her forehead on James' chest in order to prevent herself from sighing. The sound would no doubt alert them of her and James' presence. Only her son was so adamant on disrespect. Only her child would look death in the face and insult it.

The Dark Lord did not curse him, however. He smirked. That was all. A simple smirk, as if what Harry had said was funny.

"Someone dosed you with a poorly made, tweaked love potion that made Severus furious."

Lily was not imagining the stiffening of the Dark Lord's jaw. She had never understood just why he despised love potions, but she could at least respect that he was very thorough in his dealings with those who used them.

Harry gave a wince. "Have you caught them yet?"

"Not I. Your mother did."

Another wince, followed by a shake of the head. "Are they even alive still?"

The Dark Lord chuckled, a dark sound that raised the hair on Lily's arms. "Unfortunately. I know not what it is that she did, but I confess myself impressed. She located him, and did something devious enough that he willingly came and confessed his sins at my feet. Tears streaming down his pathetic face as he did so."

Harry gave a hum. "I think I know what she did. It happened once before. She uses a Rune of her own making, and carves it into her flesh. She then carves an exact replica into the flesh/object of her choice, and it allows her an amount of control over them/the item.

If it is sentient, or has a will of its own, it will be harder to control, but eventually, she'll get it done.

She most likely manipulated his dreams or something. She prefers the vigilant approach when handling adversaries after all."

Voldemort hummed, though he did not say any more.

"Are they in Azkaban now?"

And for the first time in her life, Lily saw the Dark Lord fidget. Harry's piercing gaze was trained on the man with expectation. As if demanding the answer he was seeking.

"Why aren't they in prison?" her boy asked, his voice taking on that dangerous calm. Much like her's did when she had reached her limit. Harry's limit was much shorter however. Like his father's.

"I decided that torture would be a much better punishment."

And Harry was forcing himself into a seated position, batting away the Dark Lord's restraining hands. "You cannot flout your own laws simply because you harbour some kind of feelings, for the person involved!"

Voldemort huffed. "I'm the Dark Lord. I can do as I please."

Harry gave a relenting nod. It was truth, even Lily couldn't deny it.

"However, you have a position to uphold. The younger generation looks up to you as someone to emulate. Do not prove the words of our parents, true. Many people follow you because you are nothing like what we were told you are. One action can cause you problems. You would lose the faith of a good portion of your followers because of this."

The Dark Lord stared at Harry for several moment. Neither spoke, they merely stared at one another.

"Don't you want him to suffer for what he's done?" the older wizard finally asked.

"I want them to get the punishment they deserve for their actions. And since mum has already had a hand in this, I'd say they're doing time already."

Voldemort sat back, crossing his arms in frustration. Several moments passed with Harry simply imploring the man with only his eyes.

"Fine," the man relented. "He will spend the week in Azkaban."

"Thank you," Harry said, am small smile on his face. "Besides," he continued, "if the person in question happens to go missing after they are released, then there's nothing we can do about that. Is there?"

Lily's jaw dropped at the implication, and the Dark Lord had easily understood her son's meaning. Both wizards were smirking at each other now.

"What a Slytherin way of thinking, Mr. Potter," the Dark Lord practically purred, making Lily shiver.

Harry shrugged. "Just showing my true colours. I wasn't sure how it would be handled had I let myself be sorted to Slytherin, so I asked for Gryffindor instead. You can't honestly think I'm Gryffindor material?"

Lily placed a quelling hand over James' mouth in order to shut him up. While she was shocked at the revelation, she didn't want their cover to be blown.

"Not enough, but you have your moments. You are more Gryffindor than Ravenclaw, that's for certain."

Harry snorted. "True."

"And the Hufflepuffs would cower in the face of you."

"Also true."

The two shared a look.

"Are my parents around?"

"Sleeping in the next room."

Lily quickly yanked James away from the door, the two bustling to get back to their conjured chairs.

They hadn't been discovered and they'd also learned something new.

Now how to handle the information.


Izar stared at the letter he'd found among his little brother's possessions. Looking to his twin, he passed it over.

Serpens stared at the words, his grey eyes darkening with ill intent.

"We keep a closer watch."

"We handle it if it becomes a problem."


Harry was blown away by the very obvious change in the competition. Where once there had been thousands, there was only a little over one hundred. Meaning he could actually see the entire group when he spun around.

Hermione was there and she didn't seem as disoriented as she was during the last task. In fact, she seemed a lot better. Harry wasn't the kind of person to talk to demand that his friends tell him everything going on in their lives. He preferred for them to tell him on their own, and he had noticed that she had begun to do better over the past few weeks.

Already, she was losing that manic gleam in her eyes. And he knew that she had not gone to Madam Pomfrey ever since he'd forced her to go. So it couldn't be anything the Medi-Witch was able to provide. Whatever it was though, Harry couldn't help but feel grateful.

Sure, the Dark Arts were enthralling, but not worth losing one's sanity over.

He spotted the twins. Both looked confident in themselves, though Fred seemed to be less interested in the task. Since it was centered around showing intellect, Harry had a feeling that they would have to display their knowledge somehow. He just hoped that it wasn't as harrowing as he felt it was going to be.

But seeing as Voldemort was in control of the tournament and everything that went down therein, Harry really couldn't get his hopes up. Not when they might be dashed seconds later.

Anyway, the twins were never ones for having to show their intelligence on cue. They preferred to march to the beat of their own drum, so this task in particular wouldn't do well for them.

Malfoy seemed as confident as ever, which wasn't surprising, and the other competitors seemed agitated.

Harry himself wasn't looking forward to the task. Hermione was one of those people who were super intelligent and she always read up on things that no one had an interest in learning about. So a task like this would cater to her desire to absorb all sorts of knowledge, and that left Harry in a pickle.

Because Harry wasn't the greatest at theory, as before stated. The fact was, Hermione could very well pass this task because she was brilliant at theoretical knowledge, and Harry might fail.

Both were smart, just on different levels.

After what had happened to her, Harry, and Malfoy during the course of the tournament, he couldn't afford to just fail now. Also… he was planning to win just to shove it in the Dark Lord's face that he wasn't going to accept his proposal!

It was a pride thing now.

Voldemort was present, as always. Beside him was Snape and on his other side, was Bellatrix. They were stood in the Great Hall, where one hundred and thirteen desks were situated around the room in various areas, facing different directions.

Harry had a feeling that he knew what was going to happen.

"Greetings," the Dark Lord said, nodding to the contestants, "and welcome to the fourth task of the tournament."

Some puffed up in pride at his words, others quivered in fear. Harry couldn't blame them. The man was imposing and his crimson eyes were a little unnerving on such a charming face.

"For this task, you will be sitting for your W.H.A.L.E.s. Think of them as a mixture of the N.E.W.T.s and W.O.M.B.A.T.s with a little extra information required, courtesy of myself."

The devilish smirk that the man was sending their way, was enough to terrify everyone. Especially since about twenty percent of them had yet to sit for their N.E.W.T.s.

"W.H.A.L.E. stands for Wizarding Helpmate Assessment for Logic and Equivalence. You will be given a one thousand question exam, and will have five hours to complete it."

One thousand questions!

"In that time frame, you will have a Galleon that will be optional for anyone to forfeit. If you cannot handle the exam, hold the Galleon in your palm and it will Portkey you from the Hall. You will not continue on in the competition if you quit, however. Also, I value intelligence and skill, and for those who are foolish enough to get caught cheating, you will immediately be dismissed."

That was definitely a Slytherin mentality. But still, one thousand questions?!

"And in conclusion, the scoring will go as such," the Dark Lord murmured, waving his wand so that a large blackboard with the the scores they would need to achieve, appeared out of thin air, floating.

The scoring went as follows:

D = Distinction. The grade attained when one reaches over the Outstanding level.

O = Outstanding. The grade attained when one reaches the Outstanding level.

EE = Exceeds Expectations. The grade attained when one reaches the Expectation level.

A = Acceptable. The grade attained when one reaches the Acceptable level.

1,000 & + = D

975-999 = O

950-974 = EE

925-949 = A

Dear Merlin, the man had some very demanding expectations in his scoring. Out of one thousand question, they were expected to at least get nine hundred and twenty-five correct! The W.O.M.B.A.T.s weren't even that long nor that demanding!

"Pardon me, I forgot to mention something," the Dark Lord said, a charming smile that would have fooled Harry had he not known the man so well already, on his face.

"There are five extra credit questions that can push your grade up should you do well on them. I would advise you to write quickly, because they are the only essay questions on the exam, and they are highly demanding. Also, the entire exam is written in Runes."

The response was utter silence. It was twisted. Terribly so. The man looked properly regretful, but Harry knew that it was all an elaborate act. Voldemort didn't just forget anything. He wasn't the type of person who would forget something of that magnitude!

Snape lifted his wand, lighting the tip. "Find a seat. If you aren't seated in the next minute, you will be disqualified."

They scampered to the desks.

Harry threw himself into a seat just before another could, causing the other person to slam into the desk instead and collapse to the floor. He felt bad, but at the same time, he needed all the time he could get and everyone else could go screw themselves.

A moment later, a packet of parchment appeared on his desk, along with a quill and an inkwell.

With a scoff, Harry reached into his charmed bag and pulled out a fountain pen. Why should he waste more time when he didn't have to? Besides, quills were so taxing when one was trying to take a timed exam.

"Your times begins… now."

Harry forced his attention to the exam and nearly blanched.

This was going to be hell.


PART ONE

Magical Law

(Points Available: 124 out of 1,000)

RESOURCES FOR THIS SECTION:

-Ministry of Magic departments

-Wizengamot

-MoM-Rules and Regulations

-Lord Voldemort's Unforgivable List

Circle the correct answer.

1. Which of these is the First Unforgivable on Lord Voldemort's List?

A. Use of Love Potions is prohibited within the borders of Great Britain and Ireland, and the use of one earns a week in Azkaban. Possessing one is a fine of 1,000 Galleons.

B. Anyone found to be in possession of an illegal, mix-bred creature, will be sentenced to a month in Azkaban and fined 1,000 Galleons.

C. Disowning a child for not having magic is punishable by up to a lifetime in Azkaban and a fine of 5,000 Galleons.

D. Death to any who use potions or spells to force themselves on another being.

E. The snapping, breaking, burning, chipping, or destruction(irreparable or otherwise) of another's magical focus, which earns ten years in Azkaban and a fine of 10,000 Galleons.

F. Abusing magical children in any way, which is twenty-five years in Azkaban and a fine of 5,000 Galleons.

G. None of the above.

2. Your neighbour is concealing a stash of flying carpets, some of which he is allowing to fly loose

around his back garden. Whom do you go to when reporting them?

A. Wizengamot

B. Department of International Magical Cooperation

C. Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office

D. Obliviators

E. All of the Above

F. None of the Above

3. In 1792, it was decided that _ would no longer take place due to the rising death toll.

A. W.A.S.T.R.E.

B. The Gathering of Warlocks

C. Hags and Hairbrains

D. W.A.S.T.E.R.

E. The TriWizard Tournament

F. Magicals Anonymous

G. Both A and D

H. Both C and E

I. None of the above.

4. There are fifty-two seats in the British Wizengamot. Two of which have been unclaimed

for the past four decades. Of those fifty-two, three have been held by the same family for the

past two hundred and seven years. Not to be confused with another family who has held

three seats for an extended period of time also. Both families are always lead by Ladies however,

instead of Lords. As this is fact, it wouldn't be surprising for one to confuse the two.

Which British Wizengamot member currently holds the most seats?

A. Lord Lucius Malfoy

B. Lord Sirius Black?

C. Lady Amelia Bones

D. Lord Slytherin

E. Dowager Augusta Longbottom

F. Lord Arvant Blischwick

G. Lord James Potter

H. Lady Adelaide Greengrass

I. Lady Vitra LeFay

J. Lord Armando Selwyn

5. In 1919, which Dark Lord/Lady attempted to force entrance into the British Ministry of Magic,

but was unable to make it passed the Wand Check Registration Desk, and was subsequently arrested and tried hours later?

A. Sisi Whitby

B. John Alexander Croft

C. Gellert Grindelwald

D. Mundus Magnild

E. Bardo Babcock

F. Pap Sans Pyrus

G. None of the above.

6. On the Isle of Normi, in 1974, Lord Voldemort created the first and only _, and had to destroy

it hours after it's creation, once realising its destructive powers. He thenceforth made it illegal for any other

being in the United Kingdom to do the same, and marked it as an Unforgivable action.

A. Dementor/Boggart Hybrid.

B. Elixir of Death

C. Symbiotic Anomaly that required a host(living or otherwise) and enhanced the power of any who bonded with it, but also sucked away their life force.

D. Inferius capable of using magic.

E. Crystal Ball capable of homing in on a particular person and stealing their magic.

7. Who was the Magical who held the seat of British Minister for Magic the

longest and also passed the Law of Mixed-Mingling?

A. Millicent Bagnold

B. Ulick Gamp

C. Basil Flack

D. Artemisia Lufkin

E. Wilhelmina Tuft

F. Unctuous Osbert

8. In the event of an emergency, who holds primary control over the Department of Magical Law Enforcement?

A. The Head Auror

B. The Minister for Magic

C. Lord Voldemort

D. All of the above

E. None of the above

9. Your friend confides in you that they have been harbouring a fugitive within their home.

The fugitive hasn't actually been convicted of a crime as of yet, but they are wanted for questioning.

What action should you take in regards to this predicament?

A. Immediately inform the Head of the Auror Office.

B. Keep your friend's secret.

C. Stay out of your friend's business.

D. Send the Daily Prophet a letter concerning the situation, but make sure that it can't be traced back to you.

E. Offer to help them.

F. Trick your friend into confessing on their own.

G. None of the above.

10. If you were to go and register a XXX creature, which Department would you need to visit first?

A. The Department for the Regulation and Care of Magical Creatures.

B. The Department of Magical Registration.

C. The Department of Creature Welfare.

D. None. You cannot register a XXX creature because they are not allowed to be pets.

E. None of the above.


The entire exam was amazing! Hermione couldn't believe her luck!

It was as if finally some good was happening to her in the light of everything going on!

While the man seemed unapproachable, Hermione had to give him the respect he deserved because these weren't necessarily well known facts. It was information open to the public, but it was also things people tended to overlook or mix up occasionally.

He knew what he was doing when he had created the test. Especially with all of the questions being so misleading! Literally almost one hundred words to get to the point of the question! And yet the real question itself was only nine words long!

It was devious and admirable, and Hermione couldn't help but giggle every now and then.

It was all so brilliant!

Merlin, did she love exams!

And it was perfect practice for her N.E.W.T.s! And the N.E.W.T.s had less questions too!

The W.H.A.L.E.s were genius!


The W.H.A.L.E.s were terrible!

Fred had known that this would be the one to get him. The moment the Dark Lord had mentioned an exam, he knew that it would be hopeless to even try.

Still, he had persevered anyway, hoping to at least get half of the test correct, but when he neared the five hundredth question, he realised that he wasn't going to managed even an Acceptable. The Dark Lord's requirements were too steep to reach, and Fred - while smart in his own way - didn't spend his time studying the Ministry or the Dark Lord's achievements enough to know the answers to any of the questions in the first section of the exam.

That was already over one hundred questions wrong(because he hadn't bothered to answer them).

With a sigh, and a forlorn look sent in his brother's direction, Fred took up the Gellon resting at the left corner of his desk, and blinked when he found himself standing outside the Great Hall.

A Knight was there to accept the coin and record his name.

"Too 'ard?" the man asked.

"Basically," Fred shrugged. "I don't care enough about the Ministry to be able to answer the first section of the test."

The man winced in understanding. "Couldn't understand 'alf of those questions meself."

Fred stretched his arms out, allowing his back to pop. At least he could entertain himself while waiting for George to either pass or fail.

From his pocket he withdrew a nifty little gadget that he and George had created. It was a 'flute'. It actually created bubbles that would pop and play a bit of music before fading out.

Two songs in, and the Knight asked, "Where can I get one of those?"

Fred looked down at the object, and then sent the man a wide grin, pleased to have been asked.

"My friend, allow me to introduce you to the owl ordering business of Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes."


EXTRA CREDIT

Write an informative essay for each question.

(Points Available: 50)

1. In great detail, explain Lord Voldemort's takeover from the beginning of the war, to the end, and beyond. Highlight all key points.

2. Explain why Albus Dumbledore would not have succeeded in winning the war with only his philosophy, 'for the Great Good' to guide him.

3. List and define as many of the rules on Lord Voldemort's Unforgivable List, as you can, in Alphabetical Order.

4. Why is Parseltongue not an evil ability?

5. Why is the use of the Dark Arts not expressly taught in core classes at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry?


Harry stared at the results of his exam.

Harry James Potter has attained the following grade for his W.H.A.L.E. examination.

884/1000

E.C. 42

884 + 42 = 926

926 = Acceptable.

YOU WILL ADVANCE TO THE NEXT TASK. CONGRATULATIONS.

Harry let out the terrified breath he hadn't realised he had been holding. Merlin that was a lot harder than he thought it would be! And he'd made it two points above the failing grade!

Flipping through the packet of parchment, he located all of the wrong answers he had chosen, and found himself groaning at the little remarks written beside his poor answers. All of them written in the same, elaborate script as the exam itself.

Meaning Voldemort had personally graded his test.

Harry cast an annoyed glance in the man's direction, and couldn't help but give him a two finger salute when he noticed the smirk being sent in his direction.

Wank Biscuit!


"Well done to the forty of you who managed to pass the exam," said Voldemort, internally impressed that so many had actually managed to pass his incredibly difficult creation.

Harry had just barely managed to pass. His partial credit on the second extra credit question having saved him.

Voldemort wasn't shocked to see Hermione Granger claiming an Exceeds Expectations with a score of 973, which was one of the highest scores. She had originally failed with only a 923, but her essay questions had pushed her over and beyond the limit required to pass on to the next task.

Vitra LeFay had managed to obtain a 986, being the only person to achieve an Outstanding. She didn't even bother to take the extra credit.

DuBois was only three points higher than Harry, and that was with all fifty points from the extra credit.

The Malfoy Heir had a solid 950, leaving him with an Exceeds Expectations.

George Weasley - the only Weasley left in the competition - finished with an even 940, with all extra credit points added. He was obviously the more savvy of the two. Voldemort could assume from his test score, that he enjoyed poking around politics every now and then.

No one had managed a Distinction, sadly enough. Not that Voldemort expected anyone to. A Distinction would be his area of expertise. His and perhaps Bellatrix and Severus' as well. Barty and Lucius maybe. It would depend.

Either way, forty had passed, which was twenty more than he had expected. Which was impressive. Not much could impress the Dark Lord these days.

What made him laugh though, was so some had understood the subtle hint that they were allowed to cheat so long as they didn't get caught. Only four who had passed, had actually gotten all of their answers due to cheating. One even cheating off Granger, which didn't say anything pleasant for the girl.

Still, he was impressed over the abilities to cheat without getting caught and for the ability to pass without cheating. Both were feats of import in his eyes.

"You all will be advancing on to the fifth task, which is dueling. In order to prepare you ahead of time, we are going to give you a list of the first duels."

With a wave of the wand, the scrolls appeared, floating in front of each competitor.

"You will have a month to prepare yourself to face your opponent. Prepare well, because the task will have spectators and will be held outdoors in a special arena of my own making."

With a wave of the hand, he dismissed them.

The upcoming months would be… entertaining.


"It is no longer something to be ignored," the old woman said with stunning finality. "After the repeated times we have warned you, you have insisted upon such actions, putting the rest of us in danger. You have been disowned."

Reginald No-Name let loose a scream that bled into a tantrum of epic proportions.


A/N: Another is done!

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Chapter Text

A/N: Hello, people!

I don't own Harry Potter.

I have no beta.

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"Voldemort is on a first name basis with Harry."

James sat stiffly as his wife began the usual 'family meeting'. Since Harry was going to be coming home for Easter, they wanted everyone to be on the same page, so to speak.

So Lily had decided to tell Remus and Sirius of what they had learned about Harry and his relationship with the Dark Lord.

"Remus, I might even go so far as to say that your comment about flirtation seemed to be right on the mark. They were talking as if they had been best friends for years. Harry got cheeky several times, and the Dark Lord merely laughed in response."

Remus shifted in discomfort, while Sirius' eyes narrowed. "What did they talk about?" the Grim Animagus demanded.

Lily sighed and looked to James, who also sighed. "He convinced Voldemort to give MacDougal the punishment the law states he should serve. He was just going to have the boy tortured until he felt that he had suffered enough. Harry managed to talk him out of it."

"That's good," Remus said, looking confused. "It doesn't sound to bad. In fact, the fact that he relented at all surprises me."

Lily snorted. "It gets worse quickly. Our Harry immediately comments on how if the boy went missing once he was released, then there was nothing he or the Dark Lord could do about it. And the grin that spread across Voldemort's face." She shivered. "It was unnatural."

"Are you sure it was Harry?" Sirius asked, looking worried. "That doesn't seem like something he would say."

Lily winced and shook her head. "No, Harry has trouble with people. In his eyes, torturing animals and creatures is worse than torturing people or children. His only concern about the Hufflepuff was how it would ruin Voldemort's reputation among the younger masses, if they witnessed him flouting his own laws simply because he's the Dark Lord and can do as he pleases. There was no concern for the boy."

"None," James added with finality. "I know he's a bit off at interacting with people he doesn't know, and seems a little desensitised to the plights of people he doesn't know or care for, but it was just… shocking."

Lily sighed once more. "Harry connects with animals and creatures due to an inborn ability of his. It explains why he gravitates toward them more than people. And for years I had always known that Harry held little love for humanity, especially with how they treat the beings he adores most. I even scolded him in a recent letter, over how he needed to pay more attention to danger and just what the danger could affect.

I always knew, but having it confirmed verbally is what has left me astounded. As if it makes it more real to see and hear it with my own eyes."

The table was silent for several moments. Remus was eyeing them carefully, looking for something.

James felt too tired to really give much more to the conversation.

He loved his son. Harry was the only child they had. They had tried for more, but nothing seemed to work. So they doted upon him whenever they could.

James liked to think that he was a good father. And it kind of hurt that Harry felt the need to hide some of his personality, simply because he thought he wouldn't be accepted.

Sure, James had been a tosser in school. He'd been prejudiced and hard headed and probably the worst bully to pass through the school doors.

Lily had to seriously train his ways out of him. When she and Snape had had their fight that day after their O.W.L.s, she had ended their friendship. James had thought that made Snape fresh meat, but no.

Lily tore into him and gave him detention for the rest of the year, making him miss every remaining Quidditch match and Hogsmeade weekend. And she personally supervised the detentions, making him write out definitions of words hundreds of times until he memorised them.

James would never forget the meanings of 'abuse', 'assault', and 'bullying'. He would never forget the ten foot essay she had assigned him to do about how wrong it was to brutally attack someone simply because he didn't like their House, or the fact that they were friends with the girl he wanted.

She forced him to write essays about children from the different Houses being bullied the same way he bullied Snape. Little Gryffindor and Hufflepuff first years who were know to be slightly rude like Snape came across as. And he was forced to write out the various 'pranks' he and his friend's had done on Snape, but replaced Snape's name with the name of another student.

And that was how he'd been forced to realise that it was not okay. That they were not 'just pranks'. That stripping someone of their clothes, without their permission, was not just normal harassment. He never would have done such a thing to a girl, because it would have been considered sexual assault. And Lily had to be the one to tell him that it was no different to do it to a boy. That it was still the same kind of assault, and that the gender of the person it happened to, didn't matter.

James didn't get on with Slytherins much, nor did he often show Hufflepuffs the respect they deserved, but he at least was better now. It took years, but he was finally of a manageable state of mind in regards to the two less respected Houses of Hogwarts.

He was a different man now. And it hurt that he'd made his son feel as if he wouldn't have been accepted if he'd gone to Slytherin.

Harry disliked loud people, and Quidditch, and partying. Gryffindor reveled in all three. For all James knew, Harry had been stuck in a House he detested all so he wouldn't have to experience the same treatment Sirius had from his 'family' for being the odd one out. Maybe he only joined the Quidditch team because he thought he had to.

"He was supposed to be a Slytherin?!" Sirius' voice broke through James' thoughts.

Sirius looked ready to rebel, but Lily cuffed him upside the head. "And there is nothing wrong with it. He's still Harry. He's always been more observant and manipulative than most children. And he still does incredibly Gryffindorish things. Gryffindor was the second House the Sorting Hat had chosen, so there is obviously some recklessness and courage in there somewhere."

Remus sent Sirius a look and the Black Lord backed down immediately.

"Come on, Moony! It just doesn't seem like he'd be a Slytherin!"

"Or, we all had expected him to go to Gryffindor and didn't even consider that he would be good in any other House. Face it, Padfoot, we saw what we wanted to see."

The four adults were quiet for the rest of the dinner. If only because they now had much to consider.


"The boy has fallen."

Albus gave a nod, though his demeanour was much more uplifting than Gellert's. "It's good. For years I had laboured under the impression that he would be unable to love or be loved because of how he was created. But perhaps I was wrong. And I can't even tell you how much I hope I was."

Gellert gave a grunt of acknowledgement.

Voldemort's presence had filled the fortress, alerting them both that he was on his way. And it was not the usual time for him to visit. He usually came on the anniversary of his defeat of Dumbledore. For him to have come early, must have been serious.

The man looked calm when he rounded the corner. Albus was struck by how old Tom looked despite his ever youthful appearance. Even his serpent familiar seemed to be exhausted on this day.

"Tom, are you well?"

The young man sent him the customary annoyed look. At least he was relatively okay if he could muster up enough anger over being called by his true name.

"I am fine."

He wasn't, but Albus knew from experience that Tom was't one to talk about his troubles.

"The reason for your visit?"

"It's been nearly twenty years, Albus. You understand the significance."

And he did, once he considered the date. He'd been imprisoned for twenty years, with his magic bound. It was enough time - according to Tom - to have completely changed the foundations of Magical Britain and if Albus attempted to reinstate change in what little life he had left, it wouldn't do much.

"Am I to be released into the public once again?"

He didn't miss Gellert's twitch at the mention of it. They didn't really like to discuss the future much and had both chosen to ignore it for as long as possible.

"Possibly," the current Dark Lord murmured, eyeing both Bound wizards with a calculating gaze.

"I have full control over you, Albus. You'd walk free on the eighth, like you are meant to. But you don't want to be free… if it means being alone. Correct?"

Tom's eyes laid heavily upon Gellert's form. "I do not have control over you," he said to the man. "I could get it easily, but your release alongside your lover's would fracture the delicate treaties I have drawn up with the eleven countries you assaulted. And they would be most displeased should you go free.

Albus did not kill anyone and he was simply placed in a glorified nursing home with his lover and best friend. His freedom would mean nothing to anyone. But yours…" Tom trailed off, not needing to say anything else to get his point across.

And Albus was astonished at what the implication in Tom's words were.

Tom understood that Albus would not wish to be free from Nurmengard if it meant being without Gellert. Because what else would he have to do with the remaining life he had left? He was nearly twelve decades old. He was very near the end, and spending those last years alone would be terrible.

And Tom was giving him a choice. A very deeply buried one, but it was still there.

Accept his release and spend his last days in sadness. Or remain with Gellert.

"Why are you so understanding, Tom? What happened to make you realise just how detrimental this would be to both of us?"

The younger wizard stared him down, his patience not as strong as Albus' was. He gave in several moments later, when Albus did nothing but stare. He hadn't even blinked yet.

"A few weeks ago, Harry James Potter collapsed from being dosed with a poorly tweaked love potion. Severus was so enraged, because it was borderline poison and a step below an Imperius. I was unable to reach him until the proper antidote had been created. And I realised that I did not like that."

"How did you learn of his collapse, Tom?"

"I was sitting with him, in the Three Broomsticks, when it happened," the Dark Lord quipped.

So much to consider.

Tom liked the young Potter, why else would he enter the boy into his tournament? But the fact that he actually went to the Three Broomsticks - which Tom had never favoured - just to sit with the young man, spoke volumes.

Also, someone he at the very least admired, was attacked in essence, right in front of him, and he hadn't been able to predict it. And not just that, but with something that Tom detested with every fiber of his being. Love Potions. And then to not be able to pull Mr. Potter out of the throes of the potion, with his own power, must have been a great attack to Tom's pride.

Tom was learning to care about someone. It was taking time. He didn't just wake up and suddenly become emotional over someone he was a little smitten with.

How often did Harry Potter and Tom Riddle talk? How often were they within each other's scope? What was the boy like when he and Tom were alone?

"What is Mr. Potter like, Tom?"

"Cheeky."

The man said with with a wistful smirk on his face. "Skilled. Intelligent where it matters. Much too generous in certain situations."

The last one was mumbled, a slightly frosted look seeping into his gaze.

Albus took advantage of Tom's chattiness while he could. "What is wrong with being generous?"

Tom sent him a knowing look, but actually deigned to answer anyway. "He managed to convince me to just give the Hufflepuff responsible for his 'illness' the usual week in Azkaban. I wanted to torture him and then possibly kill him, but Harry said that me breaking my own laws would lower my regard in the eyes of his fellow, young adults."

Tom was even allowing himself to be influenced by the child! It was a much more interesting development than he had hoped! Perhaps Harry James Potter was what Tom needed in order to finally be himself. That Tom actually allowed himself to be talked down from what he loved, was a miracle.

It also proved that there was hope.

This had to mean that Albus' assumption over his ability to love because he was born under forced love, was wrong. It had to be.

"The young man did his time then? Has he left Mr. Potter alone?" Knowing Tom, he would be protective and jealous most likely. He still seemed annoyed despite it happening a few weeks ago.

Tom's sadistic grin nearly mangled his false face, making the handsome features he wore, twist obscenely.

"Mr. MacDougal went missing the day of his release."

Gellert snorted. "I did that a few times myself."

Albus was very displeased and was prepared to scold Tom, when the brunet raised a quelling hand. "For your information, Harry suggested that if he were to go missing after he'd served his sentence, then there was nothing any of us could do about it. I get the revenge I want, and keep my appearance in tact at the same time."

Albus was staggered by the information and had to let Gellert help him to sit, because he honestly hadn't expected that.

"The boy may be a Gryffindor and have some of their traits, but he was supposed to be Slytherin first, Albus. And honestly, I don't blame him for wanting revenge. Harry is a young man of action, though he would prefer if others handled the revenge for him. He isn't that malicious.

This doesn't make him a bad person. In fact, I'd say it makes him human. Not everyone wants to be the epitome of good, Albus, and to teach young children that it's all they should strive for in life, is reprehensible. Some of us don't want to be happy and kind all the time.

The moment you stop judging others and their ethics, based solely upon your own beliefs and experiences, is the moment you will truly understand the way the minds and hearts of other people truly work."

Tom turned then, and as he walked away he said, "I will return in July. You will tell me your decision come then." He left in a plume of black smoke that flew right through the window in the corridor.

For several minutes, Albus merely sat in silence. Gellert sat across from him, watching him closely.

"He has a point you know."

Indeed.

"The boy is learning. It has taken time, but he is finally understanding that which was denied him these many years. And I think it's time that you realise that while you mean to do good and you mean to be kind, sometimes your ways to go about them aren't as you intend them to be.

'For the Greater Good' was our motto once. Now I realise that it's basically an excuse for us to do as we wanted, and not feel as if anyone could truly blame us for our actions. By saying we were doing it for the 'Greater Good' of the Magical World, it seemed to make us exempt from any guilt that might come with our actions."

Gellert gave a shrug. "Our dream was not as great as we thought it was. And our actions to achieve our separate versions of the same dream, were not 'good' either. We are flawed, and we planned to sacrifice anyone or anything to get what we thought was the right future. And I have come to realise that we were hypocrites.

It's time you have as well.

To err is human. We are humans. We make mistakes. We are not perfect. And we do not hold the right to judge others and their actions, simply because we think our way is better. We will undoubtedly do it, but we shouldn't. But again, we are human."

His old friend placed his old, and gnarled hand on Albus' shoulders.

"Our time is over, Albus. Stop looking at everything through your rosy spectacles and realise that people have many facets to their personalities. And just because you don't like or agree with some, doesn't mean the person in particular is terrible and deserves reproach."


Fred opened the door to his and George's flat and promptly ducked. Someone had just swung for his face and had almost landed a solid blow.

"It's you!" a young voice hissed.

"Both of you," a more calm and monotone voice added.

Fred's wand was out, in case whomever they were, tried to start anything else.

Before him stood two young teens. Very familiar teens. In fact, he shouldn't be surprised because they were the older, twin brothers of one Rigel Lestrange. The young man he and George were currently trying to woo.

"Forge, what's the matter?" George asked from the kitchen.

"We have visitors!" he called back.

George walked in and immediately hummed. "Oh."

"Yes," Serpens Lestrange nodded, "'Oh'."

And then came the very long talk filled with promises, threats of dismemberment(the worst sort of course), and the occasional deadly glare.


§I can't believe they are just allowed to do whatever they want.§

Harry had once again taken the Runespoor out for a day around the school. Since it was nearing the Easter hols, classes had died away, leaving pretty much nothing to do but study. So Harry decided to take a walk and bring the lonely creature with him.

The Severus head was throwing insults at everything. Especially at the owls in the owlery. Harry had a feeling that he was jealous because a lot of the bird were birds of prey, but they were allowed to roam free because wizards knew how to contain them.

Wizards were abysmal at containing magical creatures though.

Still, Harry tried to keep them content as much as he could. He let them slither around, and he fed them their favourite meals. A good rubbing for them, and then back to their cage some hours later.

The Luna head looked to her right and said, §It's shouldn't surprise you. They're so judgmental over creatures like us. But it isn't as if the feather brains have it easier. They're used for menial labour and get no appreciation for it. At least we're exempt from that.§

Severus snorted. §Exempt because we're ignored.§

§Not true,§ Hermione countered. §The large one comes to feed us once a week and bathes us twice a week. He accepts us. As well as the green-eyed one,§ she hissed, dipping her head in Harry's direction.

§Hagrid is an outcast because he isn't fully human,§ said Luna. §So he would better understand creatures that are outcasted as well.§

§What about the green idiot?§ Severus demanded. §Why does he pay us any mind?§

Hermione's head bobbed. §Why does he pay attention to any of the animals around here? Even the dead ones that are used like pack mules? Because no one else does. Because he cares about us.§

There was a huff, before the conversation ended. Or rather, they were interrupted by the sudden appearance of none other than Voldemort.

Harry did not repress his groan of annoyance. While the man was interesting and could even be a good conversation holder, sometimes he was just too much to be around at once.

Harry had limits to his ability to handle people. Animals and creatures were different. People wanted to socialise and talk and they demanded things and were needy. Harry didn't do so well around them because he honestly could not take too many at once, and shutting them out with Occlumency was tiring.

People were not his area of expertise, which was why he had so few friends who were humans.

Loud and obnoxious people like Ronald Weasley and his little sister Ginevra, were too much. Especially when they were together. Most Gryffindors were just too much. Chatty people, loud people, stupid people, they were the types of people that Harry could not stand to be around.

What was wrong with just curling up beside a nice Crup and reading a book? Why did people want to play games like Quidditch? Harry had played for the flying, and nothing more. Yes he was good at it, but the crowds irritated him with their noise. And the Common Room was too loud afterward.

Harry just didn't connect well with other people.

At least Voldemort was good at being quiet when he needed to be.

"Harry," the man began, staring at the Runespoor that was wrapped very obviously around the teen's shoulders and neck, "You do realise that one of the most deadly XXXX creatures to ever exist, is wrapped around your body?"

"Yeah," Harry said with a shrug. "They do this a lot."

Voldemort stared at him for several second, clearly gobsmacked over what he had heard.

Harry knew that it was incredibly rare for people to let even normal snakes slither all over their bodies, and to see a magical serpent do so, must have been shocking. But Voldemort was a Parselmouth and he had a serpentine familiar. So he shouldn't be all too horrified like he looked.

The Runespoor did as Harry expected. They took umbrage to Voldemort's implied distrust.

Severus reared up and let loose the most insulting vitriol that Harry had ever heard a serpent speak.

§You piece of human dung, how dare you insult me! I am above one such as your filth and I demand that you reconsider your words lest I inject you with my venom and make you writhe in incomparable agony!§

And Severus was not the one head to have been affected. Luna and Hermione were both looking Voldemort in the eye, glaring their beady red eyes at him.

And Severus hadn't even finished. He was listing all of the various body parts he would gladly bite off first, and bragged over how Voldemort would be unable to walk ever again.

Harry had to wonder where a Runespoor learned the word 'penis'. Especially since this one came from the Republic of Mauritius, in Africa. And English was not the only language spoken there. In fact, he wouldn't expect the creature to understand human languages at all, because they had been taken from a forest, where no humans resided.

Anyway, Severus had finally finished enumerating what he would do to Voldemort's 'shriveled up penis'.

The Dark Lord was glaring heatedly at the creature and Harry had to struggle to keep his mouth shut. He wanted to laugh. Not many had the audacity to get mouthy with the Dark Lord, and it was just so humorous to see the man so shocked over it.

Hermione decided to add in a simple comment, for good measure. §You reek of arousal and bodily fluids that haven't been washed away yet. No one would even want to touch you.§

And that very nearly got a laugh out of him!

The Dark Lord smelled aroused and was covered in 'bodily fluids' still! What else could it mean besides having a good wank? The Dark Lord wanked!

It was such a childish glee that filled him, and at the same time, he didn't care how immature it was! He actually went behind closed doors and… He really was a wank biscuit!

Merlin, it was a glorious sight to behold, seeing the man whom everyone respected and revered, flushing brightly in response to the observation of a serpent.

"My Lord," Harry murmured, trying to keep his cool and innocence, "are you well?"

"I'm fine," the older wizard insisted, though his mouth was extremely thinned out it was so tight.

"Is this something you do frequently?" the man went on to ask, trying to appear calm, but unable to really get it across because the Runespoor was still spewing rude things now and then.

"Some students have gotten used to them hanging around me while I work in the Hospital Wing." Harry explained. "They're really very well behaved and all they want is some time away from their cage. No animal or creature likes to be restrained and I try to keep them all content."

Voldemort eyed him for a moment, both of them ignoring the changed words of the Runespoor as they began to agree with everything Harry said.

"If it attacks a student, it will be beheaded."

As Voldemort turned to walk away, Harry protested with a, "If a student attacks first, they won't need to attack in return. I'll have already dealt with their enemy by then!"

He turned and stomped away.

The Dark Lord's familiar was more dangerous than a Runespoor, yet he dared to act as if the creature was the worst thing to exist!

There was a bloody Basilisk beneath the school! No serpent was worse than that!


Severus Snape stared at the scene before him, because he really didn't know what he should do.

Hermione Granger was laying on the floor, with Bellatrix Lestrange lying atop her. The two didn't look like they were doing anything… questionable, but still. His student was alone with Bellatrix and if that wasn't something to be alarmed about, what he heard once getting closer, was enough to raise the hairs on his arms.

"You have to feel it!" Bellatrix's high voice traveled through the room in a pitchy whisper. Her nails trailed along Ms. Granger's hair.

The younger witch didn't seem fazed by something that would no doubt terrify many others. In fact, she seemed perfectly fine with the setup.

"Feel it in your bones! Hear it echoing through your veins. See it behind closed eyes!"

Bellatrix's hand, the one not buried in Granger's hair, was squeezing the young witch's wrist. Hard, by the looks of it.

"Bellatrix," Severus intervened immediately, "what are you doing to my student?"

Neither bothered to even look at him, which was insulting. Still, at least the Dark Lord's favourite follower bothered to answer him.

"My little friend and I are discussing the intricate details of Dark Magic, Severus. I was explaining more in depth feelings involved in casting some of the most powerful curses and rituals."

Severus made sure to look Granger over very carefully, determining that Bellatrix had indeed, not volunteered her for anything. She seemed to be perfectly fine where she was.

"Now if you'll excuse us, Severus, we have a lesson to finish."

Bellatrix returned to her former mumbling, receiving the occasional nod from Granger.

Severus remained long enough to witness Granger cast - wandlessly - the Gralore Curse. It was a pain curse, as well as a pleasure curse. Riding the very fine line between both.

It was self inflicted and could only be cast on the caster. It was a more depraved type of Dark Magic.

Severus was only slightly disgusted when his student whom he had watched grow from a young child and into a young lady, moaned in a very desperate manner.

He turned tail and left swiftly. It wasn't fleeing, it was just freeing his mind of the awkward image of his pupil in the… throes of passion.

He'd need some Firewhiskey for this.

The moans got progressively louder.

So much whiskey.


Harry nodded to himself. The scroll with the list of duels said that he would be facing off against someone named Marcus Belby. Marcus had been a Ravenclaw one year ahead of Harry, so he had already graduated.

Harry was shocked he had made it this far in the tournament because he had never shown any kind of interest or effort in anything. But then again, he shouldn't be judging people.

Still, the first round looked interesting.

Task 5: Dueling

Round One Matches:

Hermione Granger vs Vitra Lefay

Harry Potter vs Marcus Belby

Reginald Dubois vs Draco Malfoy

George Weasley vs Amadea Flint

Those were the matches to pay the most attention to, though Harry did plan to take note of everyone just in case.

Still, he had to face someone around his own age, whom he had only faced in the Dueling Club once. And it was a swift end, with Belby barely getting a word in before he was disarmed.

The man hadn't stood out in the competition and there really wasn't much about him to find. And because Harry had never drawn out their duel, he didn't know anything about his dueling style.

Seriously, Harry couldn't find much about him, and that was frustrating.

How was he to prepare to face someone when he didn't know anything about them?

The whole idea was nice, but Harry literally couldn't use it to his 'advantage' because he hadn't paid attention to anyone besides his friends and DuBois, who was a twat.

This meant he was essentially, unprepared.

Harry shrugged and slipped the scroll back into his trunk. He'd just have to figure it out as he went. He was good at reading body language. So perhaps he could just feint a lot and play on the man's fears.

Hopefully he would actually know about his second opponent.


A/N: Another is done!

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EXTRAS FOR CONSORT TOURNAMENT




 

Chapter Text

A/N: Hello, people!

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It was the first of April, which was when then Fifth Task would be taking place.

Harry was as prepared as he could be. He'd special ordered dragon-hide battle robes. Normally, Harry would have been perfectly fine with just some trousers and a pull-over, but unfortunately, he was playing to win, which meant that he could not get hurt much.

Dragon-hide was especially magic resistant, so anything short of the worst cutting curses or explosive curses, would not have an affect on him.

Still, the robes had cost enough money and he had been assured that the hide came from a dragon that had died in a fight with another dragon, while she was guarding her nest. Harry would never be able to purchase clothing that was made from an animal or creature that was slain for sport or humor.

Five hundred Galleons even and they better be worth it. A Ukrainian Ironbelly was supposed to have the toughest hide among the dragon species. The metallic sheen on the silver scales made it resemble armour more than cloth that had been finely crafted from dragon scales and a underbelly.

It was deceptively smooth in texture, but when he tried to stab it with a dagger that Sirius had given him, the sound of metal meeting metal broke through the room.

Fire and water-proof. Impervious to particular levels of magic. Resistant to dangerous substances, like acid. Charmed to keep the cool even as the person wearing them is battling. Anti-Summoning charms added for good measure, because he had learned from past mistakes.

Harry had not wasted any expenses. In terms of defence, he was prepared.

As for offense, the only people he truly worried about facing, were Hermione and that LeFay woman. LeFay was a wild card who was well known for her prowess in Dark Arts. While Harry was good with them, he didn't have her decades of knowledge.

Hermione was almost on par with him in terms of dueling, so when facing someone who had nearly beat him in the past, and who knew his fighting style, of course he would be wary.

As for the rest of the competitors, he wasn't all too worried. So long was he didn't have to face Hermione or LeFay, he was golden.


Voldemort gazed out at the large platform that he had laboured tirelessly to create. For this Task, the dueling would be taking place in the center of the Black Lake, and if that wasn't bad enough, the platform floated.

Meaning that it would be moving constantly throughout the duels, and that should too much weight be added to a side, then it could capsize.

Also, Voldemort wasn't going to fix any damage done to the platform, meaning that should it be destroyed or broken apart, the competitors would simply have to make do on their own.

It was a devious thing, but he was the Dark Lord and devious was a part of his very being.

Large stands had been erected from the stone beneath the lake, giving a stadium effect, despite being surrounded by water.

Looking out at the large line of contestants, he spotted Harry Potter easily, and took note of how the boy was eyeing the LeFay Heiress with obvious worry.

Well, as far as Voldemort was concerned, they would not be facing each other first. Yet. If they ended up battling it out later, then there was nothing he could do about it.

Also, the teen looked good in his robes. His very form-fitting robes.

"Welcome to the Fifth Task!" he announced, using the Sonorous Charm to project his voice.

The competitors stood at attention, waiting to be informed of their duties.

"As you all know, you'll be dueling for a spot in the semi-final Task. There are only five positions available, so I implore you to work diligently to ensure yourself a spot in the top five.

Passing will be determined on different demands each round. There are three Rounds altogether."

Waving a wand, the magical scoreboard for each round, appeared several yards above the dueling platform, floating and rotating slowly so that all may see it.

Round One: Speed

Round Two: Agility

Round Three: Ability

"You will be given five minutes for the Round One matches. If neither opponent is down by the time the duel ends, both will be disqualified. If anyone falls into the water, they will be disqualified. If anyone tries to kill their opponent," Voldemort paused in order to glare in Reginald's direction, "they will be disqualified."

The competitors didn't seem as shocked now. After springing so many surprises on them through the entire tournament, they were getting used to him switching things around, or adding strange rules.

"In Round Two, you may not remain in the same place. You must always be moving. If you stop for anything, you will be disqualified. Fall into the water and you will be disqualified. Try to kill your opponent, and you'll be disqualified."

That seemed to make them angry. He almost cackled with devilish glee. He was horrible, it was bloody brilliant! And that wasn't even all he had planned for.

"Finally, Round Three allows for as much time as the duelers need, but they must showcase their abilities in this particular Round. And they cannot fall into the water, lest they be disqualified. Nor can they kill their opponent for the same reason previously stated."

Granger bounced where she stood, looking ready to take down anyone who got in her way. No one else seemed to be as excited, though LeFay was smirking, obviously feeling confident in her skills. And to be honest, in terms of power, she was one of the ones to watch out for. Moriah Zabini was another who seemed confident.

Though surely Harry would be more inventive than either of them were.

Voldemort waved his wand once more, erecting an expanded blackboard that listed the duels and the order of how they would be fought.

It took all of three seconds before a horrified, "WHAT?!" rent the air.

"I apologise," Voldemort purred, though he wasn't sorry in the least. "I forgot to mention that because one of the competitors is currently missing, there is an uneven number of duelers, so I decided to just rearrange the matches. But that should be nothing concerning for you. After all, life does sometimes throw a hard one at us and we must switch our plans in the heat of the moment."

Yes, Voldemort had completely rearranged the matches, though he had planned to do it before the Hufflepuff broke the law.

The new list was as follows:

1. Harry Potter vs George Weasley

2. Draco Malfoy vs Hermione Granger

3. Vitra LeFay vs Morgan Piercon

4. Amadea Flint vs Marcus Belby

5. Moriah Zabini vs Penelope Mendle

6. Reginald No-Name vs Aria McGee

7. Horace Avery vs Marianna Pillyfackle

8. Roger Davies vs Claire Beaumont

9. Waldo Macnair vs Wilhelmina Morgan

10. Chang Cho vs Inez Hemingway

11. Millicent Skeeter vs Antoinette Hopkins

12. Charity Burbage vs Garnelle Tuft

13. Perenelle Pavlo vs Svetomir Gorgovitch

14. Cassiopea Rookwood vs Vashti Smythe

15. Septima Vector vs Oliver Wood

16. Ifrah Pince vs Assefa Mohamed

17. Roland Hooch vs Inam Rourke

18. Karasawa Matsuri vs Luke Brandon

19. Evander Harris vs Dirk Cresswell vs Terry Boot

Voldemort waved his wand, and the walkway the competitors were standing on, suddenly divided into thirty-nine sections.

Harry Potter and George Weasley were levitated onto the stone platform, an equal distance apart.

"When I shoot red sparks into the air, it is a signal to start. When I use green, it is a signal to stop. Tempus will be working to keep your time, and remember, you need to win and you need to do it quickly. And if you destroy the platform, no one here will repair it for you."

A cheer erupted from the gathered spectators. Voldemort allowed them their moment of excitement, before beginning the Round.

How would Harry fare against his friend?


The Consort Tournament

Task Five: Dueling

ROUND ONE:

Match 1: Harry Potter vs George Weasley

Harry and George waited. Harry's stance light and unaffected. George wasn't the same. While older and more experienced, he was not a better dueler than Harry was.

He would have to be crafty somehow.

The red sparks flashed and Harry's wand lifted, quicker than a whip. George threw up a hasty shield charm, but nothing happened.

When the charm fell after a moment of nothing happening, something hard hit him in the chest and he was knocked off the platform and directly into the water.

A Knockback Jinx. Harry had beaten him with a Knockback Jinx. That was so unfair!

"Winner: Harry Potter!"

"Sorry, mate!"

Time: 4:37/5:00

Match 2: Draco Malfoy vs Hermione Granger

Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger hadn't ever spent enough time around each other to really build up an opinion of the other.

From what Draco knew, Granger had an inferiority complex, which was what lead her to being a library hound. She felt compelled to prove that Muggleborns were just as capable as Purebloods were. And judging by how she held the top position in their year in almost every subject except Defence, he had to agree.

Although there were Purebloods who were weak and foolish, just like there were Muggleborns and Halfbloods. Draco was personally of the opinion that people were stupid and weak because their parents didn't give them the proper attention while they were growing up.

From what he had heard, Granger's parents were supportive of her from the very beginning. Granger was supposed to attend a prestigious Muggle school, but her accidental magic had alerted the Ministry and Draco's own mother was sent to introduce the family to magic.

Seven year old Hermione Granger was thenceforth enrolled into Magus, the recently created magical primary school of Great Britain and Ireland. Ever since their years in primary, Granger had been at the very top of everything, and her parents had come to every gathering they could.

Draco was shocked to learn from his mother, whom had spoken with Granger's parents - and she had to as she was Headmistress - that Muggles had actually gone and bought books for themselves, to educate themselves on the Wizarding World. And that his mother was actually able to have an intelligent discussion with the two, who put in great effort to understand a world they weren't truly a part of.

Draco hadn't really any opinion of anything until then. Other than being jealous that there were other children who were smarter than him, he hadn't really considered anything beyond the magical section of the country.

But then he was opened up to considering more than just Magical Britain. More than his small circle of friends and family.

Granger was terrifying. She was obsessed with books, and Dark Magic, and was not interested in doing things girls usually preferred to do.

Draco had been beaten by her three times and had only beaten her twice, meaning he was either going to get another beating, or somehow manage to even the playing field between them.

The red sparks flew and Draco had to pull up his strongest shield because Granger was starting off with a Dark Curse!

It was supposed to work like the Body-Bind, but with pain. Draco did not like pain. Draco did not want pain.

Wherever Granger had been learning her Dark Arts, had certainly improved her resistance to the addictive qualities. And may the person who taught her to use torture curses off the mark, rot in hell!

He dove to the side and tried a Cruciatus, that bounced off her clothing. Merlin, he didn't want to know what kind of spells she had done in order to virtually protect herself from pain. Either she wasn't affected at all, or she'd done a ritual. He kind of hoped it was the latter.

Being so used to pain that she shook off a minor Cruciatus, was even more terrifying than magically enhanced clothing or extremities.

Damn her trainer!

And she was casting silently too!

He stepped back, avoiding an expulsor that he did not want to be anywhere near.

Twirling his wand, he summoned a serpent that slithered across the distance between them. As Granger focused on the creature that could wrap itself around her and crush her bones, Draco decided to mimic Potter's victory.

But Granger disappeared!

She Apparated! Almost silently!

He hadn't even considered that!

Throwing up a shield, he looked around, wondering just where she would appear.

A low pop at his left had him flinching back. Without giving it much thought, he too Apparated, but to Granger's other side.

And without even a blink, she repeated the action, once again appearing at his left.

Cursing, Draco Apparated again and found himself suddenly freezing. A few seconds of consideration allowed him to realise that she had backed him up so to speak and then forced him to Apparate himself into the water.

Damn.

Not fair!

Looking up at the brunette who was smirking down at him, he could see the obvious dilation in her eyes, the hazel nearly being eclipsed. Her thick hair sparked here and there and was slowly rising to defy gravity.

And unconsciously, Draco murmured, "Wow."

She was gorgeous.

"Winner: Hermione Granger!" the Dark Lord's voice rang out, breaking off Draco's thoughts and making him flush at the realisation that he'd just been staring at Granger like she was the second Merlin.

Not cool.

Time: 3:45/5:00

Match 3: Vitra LeFay vs Morgan Piercon

Vitra didn't even blink when the Dark Lord began her match. She had already planned her attack strategy, which was to overwhelm her opponent as quickly as possible.

Not even bothering with her wand, the woman lifted an elegant hand, and curled her fingers inward. Immediately, the young man who was her opponent, was brought to his knees under a crushing weight.

Basically, she was manipulating the element of air, forcing him to his knees with the unsuspecting attack. The air swirled around him in a tornado of whipping wind, cutting off the flow of oxygen and making it even harder to breathe.

A few seconds of grasping at his throat, saw Morgan Piercon fainting.

That was quick.

"Winner: Vitra LeFay!"

Time: 4:42/5:00

The crowd, which had formerly been cheering for the prior match, had remained silent throughout this one, watching in horror.

Vitra did not withhold her smirk. It was always so fun to terrify the people.

Match 4: Amadea Flint vs Marcus Belby

Within seconds, Amadea had completely knocked Belby out without so much as an apology. He had to be taken to the Medical Tent at the edge of the lake.

"Winner: Amadea Flint!"

Time: 4:55/5:00

Match 5: Moriah Zabini vs Penelope Mendle

Harry leaned into Hermione and asked, "Isn't that Blaise's mum?"

The witch nodded. "The Black Widow."

Harry snorted. "If she thinks she'll be able to kill Voldemort like all of her former husbands, she's got a harsh lesson coming to her."

Hermione sent him a dark look, eyes narrowed.

"What?"

"Nothing," the witch mumbled, turning to watch the match.

Ms. Zabini had just Imperiused her opponent to go for a swim.

She was declared the winner immediately.

Time: 4:23/5:00

Match 6: Reginald No-Name vs Aria McGee

Harry couldn't help but snort when Reginald formerly-known-as-DuBois glared heavily at the Dark Lord when his name was announced. Voldemort smirked the entire time, and Harry was so close to laughing aloud.

Whatever he had done to make his family disown him, had to have been bad.

Reginald knocked McGee unconscious in a non too pleasant manner. His bad mood affecting his magic and nearly ripping the woman's leg off in the process.

"I hope I get to fight him," said Hermione darkly.

Harry shivered. There had been a significant change in Hermione and her controlling her addiction had not made the change a pleasant one.

Time: 3:47/5:00


Voldemort smirked at the times and victories. The remaining contestants would now have to be arranged once more, but he was going to do it by best time.

Harry Potter 4:37

Hermione Granger 3:45

Vitra LeFay 4:42

Amadea Flint 4:55

Moriah Zabini 4:23

Reginald No-Name 3:47

Marianna Pillyfackle 2:21

Claire Beaumont 4:31

Waldo Macnair 4:02

Inez Hemingway 4:17

Charity Burbage 3:12

Svetomir Gorgovitch 1:13

Vashti Smythe 4:10

Septima Vector 2:15

Assefa Mohamed 4:50

Inam Rourke 4:31

Karasawa Matsuri 3:21

Terry Boot 3:02

He would put those with similar times, against each other. Because he was the Dark Lord and could do as he pleased.

"The Second Round will begin momentarily!" he announced, waving his wand so the new matches could be added to the new scoreboard.

1. Harry Potter vs Vitra Lefay

2. Hermione Granger va Reginald No-Name

3. Amadea Flint va Assefa Mohamed

4. Moriah Zabini vs Inez Hemingway

5. Marianna Pillyfackle vs Septima Vector

6. Claire Beaumont vs Inam Rourke

7. Waldo Macnair vs Vashti Smythe

8. Charity Burbage vs Karasawa Matsuri

9. Svetomir Gorgovitch vs Terry Boot

"The remaining ten will advance to the final round. May fortune favour you all."


The Consort Tournament

Task Five: Dueling

ROUND TWO:

Match 1: Harry Potter vs Vitra Lefay

Harry was not happy. The one that he hadn't wanted to fight, was the one he got, while Hermione got to have the one she wanted? Where was the fairness in this?

At least she could deal with No-Name in return for him trying to torture her in the second task. At least something good came out of it.

This task would be difficult. They had to constantly be in motion, meaning they couldn't stand in the same place, or try to hide. And since they were out in the open, how were they going to go about their duel without falling into the water of overturning the platform?

His heart sank when LeFay removed one of her earrings and enlarged it, revealing a broomstick.

They hadn't even made it to the platform yet and she was already ahead of him in terms of planning.

He didn't have a broom, and if he tried summoning a school one, he'd probably summon all of them by accident.

He couldn't fly solo yet. That wasn't something he planned on mastering until he was out of school.

That meant that he would need an aid of his own, if he didn't want to be a sitting duck for LeFay to assault.

Lifting his wand to his throat, he cast the Sonorous Charm and then called out, τLuxra!τ

She was one of the adults of the Thestral herd, and also one of the few who allowed him to get near, let alone ride. She was Nox's mother. And once again, his naming capabilities really weren't all that great.

Ignoring the odd looks he received from the spectators and LeFay herself, Harry hopped onto the platform and waited for Voldemort to begin the match.

A few seconds later, the red sparks appeared and Harry didn't even need to start running for he had to dodge LeFay's suddenly barrage of attacks.

Suddenly, he was thankful for those summer classes in Karate. No, he didn't have more than a first-degree Brown Belt, but it had totally prepared him. Even Aurors weren't put through physical fitness. Karate had taught him better self-control and had helped him become limber. That was why he was so agile and nimble in duels. And why he rarely panicked.

In the distance, he could see Luxra's dark form flying toward the platform. A few hundred yards at most.

Harry returned fire without preamble, sending a Patronus toward the witch.

The Phoenix erupted from the tip of his wand and gave a loud screech, flying right into LeFay's broom and nearly knocking the woman off. She hadn't bothered to move, assuming that it was just a distraction. If only people bothered to study the depths of spell-work before learning them, they would know the full capabilities of the spells they used.

Harry was still running, rounding the one corner of the platform that wobbled slightly under his weight.

Luxra swooped down with a mighty cry, and Harry leaped off the platform and onto her back.

The crowd screamed in shock, most of them unable to see just what his plan was. But that was fine, for he now he and his opponent were on even ground, so to speak.

"Smart," LeFay said once she righted herself, her dark hair having come out of her bun.

"I know," the teen smirked, sending a Knockback Jinx her way.

She swerved to dodge it, and lashed out at him with a Bone-Breaker.

Luxra ascended into the clouds, LeFay following them closely. She was using a Lightning Bolt, which was the most recent, state of the art racing broom available. Despite it being in its own class, Luxra was still the better flyer.

The Thestral curved up and then arched around until they were directly behind LeFay and her broom.

Harry sent out an obvious curse he had learned from Rigel, who had learned in from Draco, who had learned it from Snape.

She dropped into a steep dive to avoid it, and Luxra followed.

Harry, unable to help himself, cast another spell, except this one wasn't meant to cause pain or hurt in any way. But it would immobilise her.

Cavea Emendo.

It wouldn't kill her… immediately. If not at all.

The rib cage was meant to protect the body's most vital organs, and vanishing it suddenly would drastically shift everything in her torso. And he did mean everything.

The organs would be vulnerable, her breasts would cave in, and most likely, her spine - having lost its main support base - would either collapse or contort into a shape far too difficult to fix with only one Medi-Witch and her Apprentice.

It was a pretty dangerous thing to do, but Harry wanted to get this over with, and as she was a well known Dark Arts practitioner, he didn't want to even imagine just what she was capable of. Not now or ever!

He could hear the moment the spell hit, because LeFay suddenly flattened against her broom and then fell over the front.

With a curse, Harry summoned the broom and cast, "Arresto Momentum!"

LeFay's descent slowed down considerably, but not enough to prevent her from getting hurt.

τFaster, Luxra!τ

τOf course!τ

Luxra's wings flattened against her body and their speed increased, LeFay's body coming closer and closer. Harry cast the same charm to slow her down enough for him to petrify her.

The stiffness of her body would prevent the organs or remaining bones from breaking or being jostled too much.

Harry was a creative thinker and sometimes a little devious, but he didn't want to kill the woman.

Carefully, he latched onto her shirt and hauled her stiff form over his lap.

Luxra took that as the okay to land then, coming to a sudden halt in the center of the platform.

τThank you,τ Harry murmured, levitating LeFay's body so that he could use his free hand to pat the Thestral's nose.

She snuffled and shook her head. τMy pleasure. But you must bring the herd some red meat in return, Speaker.τ

τWill do.τ

"Winner: Harry Potter!"

Voldemort appeared before him in a plume of dark smoke, looking over LeFay's frozen form.

"What did you do?" he asked, his voice echoing across the water.

"I vanished her rib cage," he said, voice also echoing.

The cheering that had started because of his victory, died down instantly.

To think about it, it was kind of disgusting to consider.

"Impressive," Voldemort smirked. "And in eleven minutes as well. Congratulations."

Harry levitated LeFay across the water and into the Medical Tent that had been set up on the edge of the lake. Madam Pomfrey looked displeased, and he knew that by doing such a thing and making more work for her, he had just made more work for himself later on.

And he didn't want to do whatever her evil mind came up with! He was too innocent for that! Far too sweet to subject to such horrors!

Time: 11:21

It was going to be the bed pans again. He just knew it!


Match 2: Hermioen Granger vs Reginald No-Name

Hermione's grin was best described as demented. She had wanted to get the moron back for targeting her best friend and then thinking that he could go after her and other people.

This was the perfect opportunity to do so, without getting herself into legal trouble.

Hermione did not step off of her floating platform, and instead took control of it with her own magic. Reaching down, she placed a hand on the wood and slowly, more wood began to grow until it was covering her feet and locking her in place.

It would be just like snowboarding when she went on holiday with her parents.

No-Name hadn't seemed to think of anything yet. He was just moving back and forth, as if that would save him.

The red sparks flew and Hermione's improvised board launched her toward her opponent.

Reginald ducked and sent a Stunner in her direction.

Gripping the edge of the board, Hermione tilted herself to the side, effectively rolling several times. In retaliation, she blasted the main platform with a Reductor.

The stone cracked in the center, the smaller cracks spreading across to the edges. With a smirk, she threw more curses of similar nature, at the vulnerable crack and with a groan, the platform fell apart.

No-Name almost fell into the water, but Hermione was faster, levitating him with one hand and disarming him with her wand.

Bellatrix's instruction had helped her hone certain skills. Like levitation. Bellatrix was a fan of meditation under duress. Keeping your focus and calm while being tortured or annoyed. Hermione was getting better and better at it, and as such, her magic was the most tamed it had ever been.

And Hermione was not done with her opponent just yet.

He was an enemy. He had planned on killing Harry. He tried to hurt her. That meant that it was perfectly okay to hurt him in return.

She tossed his claimed wand into the lake and deposited No-Name on one of the larger pieces of platform. Her board moving slowly to close the distance between them.

The man must have had a brain in there somewhere, because he immediately tried to jump into the water, but a well placed shield had him bouncing off and slamming into the stone.

Lifting her hand, she made sure that he was several feet above the stone, before slamming him down.

All the while, her board rotated around him slowly, her way of rubbing her incoming victory in his face. A sort of taunt, letting him know that there was no escape for him.

And as the Dark Lord wasn't ending the match yet, she was free to do whatever she wanted, so long as he didn't die.

No-Name had taken her brief lapse as a chance for escape, and he transformed into an Abraxan and flew off into the sky.

Gritting her teeth in annoyance, the witch gave chase. Her board wasn't as powerful as his wings, but she still had a wand and it was incredibly difficult to cast magic while in one's Animagus form, that was a definite fact.

Without mercy, Hermione's wand lashed out in a wide slashing motion, with only a small flash of light to let her know that the curse actually worked.

The pristine white of the Abraxan's right wing, was suddenly marred with red. Sectumsempra was very much like a sword in movement and she had nearly severed the wing from the body, which meant she had almost taken away No-Name's arm.

With the limb now hanging limp, the beast began to fall, unable to hold itself up.

A sound traveled across the water then, letting her know that the match was now considered over. "Winner: Hermione Granger!"

The witch ceased her pursuit of her opponent. Unlike Harry, she wasn't kind enough to save her opponent from dying and caving their own body in.

Despite being very singular in his desires, there was still a bit of mercy somewhere in there. While people weren't his thing, he still wouldn't leave someone to suffer unless he really didn't like them and even then it would take a lot for him to seek revenge.

Someone would fetch No-Name.

Time: 13:30


"Did little Hermione Granger do what I think she just did?" Remus murmured to Lily.

Lily was staring in open-mouthed shock.

She couldn't help it! The children that she had seen grow up were changing! Harry was showing his true colours all the time. And now Hermione was changing too!

"How did she get such good control over Dark Magic though?" was Sirius' question. "She had to have a tutor to be able to accomplish that. Especially if her Imperius from the Second Task was almost too much for her to handle."

A good point.

Lily watched as someone fished the former-DuBois out of the lake. Hermione had just left him to drown, and had even taken his wand and cast it aside.

Times were changing. People were changing. Everything was changing around them.

And what would happen if they didn't change as well?


"Mione, you ruined the entire platform!"

Harry huffed when all his friend did was shrug. "Mione, how are the rest of the matches going happen if there is nowhere for them to take place?"

"I guess some people are just going to fail then."

Harry groaned and began to think of how he was going to do this. He didn't want to have to fly the whole time, nor did he want to be up in the air at all.

Of course the best action was to make a new platform, but as Voldemort had previously stated, he wasn't going to be repairing anything, so if the platform was ruined, they'd have to make do. The best would be to either summon a large enough piece of rock, or possible freeze the lake over.

Harry knew several freezing charms and curses, but they came more along the lines of sending spears of ice at his opponent, or freezing them in ice.

So he might have to stick with Runes, which was annoying because he had hoped to avoid having to use them at all.

Runes took time and energy much faster than spells did. It was why his go to thing was evasion first and fighting second. Like how he usually let his opponents attack first, so that he could gauge how best to deal with them while expending little effort.

Sitting back, Harry pulled a Rune carver form his bag and began to very carefully carve the necessary Runes into his arm. As it was a connecting Runic Ritual, the object he would be using, would need to be connected to his magical output in order to continue working.

Harry was going to do what his mum had done to the Hufflepuff.

He silently summoned a stone from the lake and proceeded to carve the opposite Runes into the surface. As Lily Potter had created several of the Runes he was using, he didn't have to worry about others stealing them, because they wouldn't know the uses or effects if they tried.

Using a Rune that you knew nothing about, was the first way to get yourself killed. If anyone even tried to use them, when they didn't even know how to properly activate them, they'd blow up. It was a safe-guard Lily had put in to protect her life's work.

Harry ignored Hermione's calculating gaze and simply kept on.

Even as matches came and went, and victors were decided, he kept pouring his magic into the stone, until it turned a bright shade of blue, the Runes carved into the surface glowing white. It was ready to be used.

"There is no winner to the final match!" Voldemort announced.

The two friends looked out toward the water. It seemed that Terry Boot had lost alongside his opponent.

That meant that Harry's final match was closer.

He would win for certain so long as Hermione wasn't his opponent.


Voldemort gazed at the list of people who had passed. This made everything interesting. Especially since he hadn't specified just what the final Round would be.

He wasn't shocked that Harry had made it, though how he'd done it had sort of... unnerved him. And it rose many questions. Like why in the bloody hell could Harry Potter see Thestrals? What had happened for him to have seen a death and then internalised it long enough to comprehend it and see Thestrals?

And he had been so familiar with the creature too! Why was he on such a comfortable level with a creature that was viewed as an omen of death?

Besides that, he had been pleasantly surprised.

He had high hopes for Harry. Now that Vitra LeFay was out of the way, the only person he truly had to watch out for was Zabini. Everyone else would be nothing for the boy to handle.

Stepped forward, he waited for the attention to turn to him and for the chatting to die away.

"The Third Round will begin momentarily. This round is a little special, however."

And slowly, the faces of the ten remaining competitors, morphed into horror. Because he'd never suddenly added something during the middle of the other tasks. Merlin, did he love being an arse!

"This round will not consist of one on one battles, but instead, a battle royale. Your objective is not victory, but points. This is the only round we are scoring you on. You must demonstrate your magical ability while fighting to give yourself more time, to demonstrate your magical ability. We will be keeping points based on your performance."

Voldemort waved a hand to his Inner Circle Knights, who were seated behind him. "They will be scoring you out of ten points each. One hundred is the best score when the multiple points are then added together. The top five scores will move on to the Sixth Task."

The faces seemed to clear up a bit, but he wasn't having that.

"Of course if you foolishly get caught in a spell or trap, you will lose points."

And so died the complacency of the competitors!

He loved his job!

Their individual platforms shifted, and each stepped forward. Granger floated, simply because she had never relinquished hers.

When they were all a proper distance away from one another, Voldemort lifted his wand to the sky and set off the red sparks.

The third round began with Harry Potter dropped a Rune covered stone into the water, and slowly, his arm began to glow, the Runes drawn there, standing out against his flesh.

And when the lake began to freeze over, Voldemort knew that the final round would be interesting.


The Consort Tournament

Task Five: Dueling

ROUND THREE:

The final round had started, yet none of the competitors had moved besides Harry.

Harry eyed each and every one of them carefully. He'd expected to fight only one person, but now he had to rework his strategy. He'd just performed a powerful piece of magic, and could go several minutes before having to do so again.

Wands were drawn, and Harry made his decision immediately, changing forms and flying off before anyone could target him.

The smart thing to do, was wait until there weren't so many people left, and then rejoin the battle.

Harry was of the belief that working smart and not hard, was the best way to go, and as he flew around the stands and situated himself atop his mother's handbag, he knew he'd chosen well.

They wouldn't dare shoot anything toward the civilians and spectators because it might cause problems. Legal problems. So Harry was safe for the time being.

His mother's hand reached out to scratch the top of his ebony head. As a bird, his entire body was black, with a few brown spots on the wings, but the telling feature were his eyes, which were a startling green that glowed in the dark.

Harry didn't really know what breed of owl he was, since magicals didn't seem to care enough about animals beyond their uses. In fact, he would go so far as to say that he was of his own kind.

The battle was fierce, with Hermione taking on three at once and managing to defend her back as well. He felt bad for not helping her, but if she wasn't in the rest of the competition, he wouldn't have to worry about her. Besides, there was only one person, of the remaining seven competitors still able to fight, who might not like Muggleborns, and she hadn't made a moved toward Hermione at all.

Hermione had been receiving training lately. It showed in her movements and how she handled herself. Harry also recognised some of her maneuvers, and could rightly assume that Bellatrix Lestrange had given her some pointers, or had taken her on as an Apprentice.

No one grew in such a short amount of time unless their mentor was spectacular.

Hermione had just taken down one person with a very complicated Transfiguration spell that turned the person into something one tenth their size. She then sent the person-turned-cup flying into the water.

Already, several assistants were working to fish the cup out of the water before anything worse could happen to it.

Meanwhile, Harry sat by, getting a good rubbing while everyone else worked hard.

Sometimes it paid to be lazy.


Hermione was very unhappy. She didn't understand Harry at times. He said he didn't want to be in the tournament, but then entered. He gave next to no effort in any of the tasks, yet the Dark Lord seemed to find and follow him a lot.

It seemed that everything was a mass of contradictions. If he was really against the tournament, why didn't he let himself be disqualified?

And it still wasn't as if it he had done much, though what little bits he had shown from the beginning had certainly gotten him in good with others.

Harry was very blase about his own magical ability and didn't seem to think much of what he could do.

The problem was that Harry grew up with two Aurors, a Werewolf, and Runes Mistress, and their friends who were all of similar professions. Harry was used to seeing certain things on a near day to day basis, so the fact that he could do them probably didn't seem so amazing.

To everyone else, they were astronomical for Merlin's sake!

He'd used Runes to somehow freeze at least one hundred feet of the lake! There was enough power within his body to do something of that magnitude! It wasn't something to brush off. Especially since the pillar of ice was not moving, meaning it had to have frozen from the seabed, to the surface.

Harry had fled for the moment, but had started off with something big that would no doubt earn him many points.

And Hermione couldn't tell if he was trying to outdo everyone, or trying to fail.

He wasn't the kind to be easily predicted. She honestly didn't know.

But when he came back, she was totally kicking his arse!


"Potter fled!" Avery hissed.

Bellatrix cackled. "He didn't flee you moron, he's waiting for them to tire themselves out!"

"I concur," added Severus. "Potter is the type to work smart. He doesn't like confrontation if he can help it, and waiting for his opponents to do the work for him, is perfect in this instant."

"But if this were another situation, would this mentality benefit him?" Lucius Malfoy countered, eyes narrowed on the owl seated on his mother's handbag.

"This isn't another situation though," Severus pointed out. "A strategy for one situation will not work for another. We would have to place him in different scenarios in order to get a full understanding of just what he would do at different times."

Voldemort nodded. "Simulating an attempted kidnapping or hostage situation would have probably been a lot better, but I didn't want to spend more funds on this than was necessary."

Severus muffled a low snort. Their Lord had been the one to fund the entire venture and obviously he was a very frugal man. He was willing to spend time creating a tournament, but not the money.

Even Dark Lord's could be cheap.

"Ms. Granger is doing well," the Dark lord remarked. "Three on one is a difficult match for anyone of younger age."

Severus added two strokes to his points for the girl. Yes, he would know all about that. Granger was more put together than he had been though, and she had friends to keep her afloat. Multiple enemies at once was very difficult, even for experienced magicals to face.

There was something to be respected. But if Granger could handle Bellatrix for even a little while, then the three dunderheads she was facing should give her nothing to worry about.

"Zabini seems to have taken Potter's actions as an example. She too is waiting," Severus noted, crossing out a stroke for her.

Potter's plan was ingenious. Transfigure himself and hide among the spectators to protect himself. Zabini was just standing there, doing nothing. Her plan wasn't original, because someone had done it first, taking away the surprise.

"It's coming to a head!" Bellatrix breathed as Granger disarmed and blasted one of her opponents into the water, leaving the last for her to face, plus Zabini and Potter.

The rest of the Knights all leaned forward in anticipation.


Harry took wing immediately, diving toward the water at a speed formerly unknown to him.

Rarely did wizards gain control over an element. Harry was best aligned with water, due to his flexibility in both body, mind, spirit, and magic. He was not super skilled and certainly couldn't create large fixtures or tsunamis. That would take ages.

But he could manipulate large amounts to a point, and that was enough to him. So logn as he didn't try to shape it or anything.

His left wing just tipped into the water, and the liquid parted around the feathers. He angled his small body upward, and as if gravity was no longer in control, the water followed.

A flap of the wings brought him closer toward the icy pillar in the center of the stands, and mere feet off the surface, he angled his bottom end toward the ice and reversed his Transfiguration right there.

Arms flowing over his head from where they had been spread out as his wings, Harry forced the gathered water down. The entire stream of water slammed into Rourke - Hermione's final opponent - and sent the man careening across the ice and into the water without an ounce of mercy, just as Harry's feet landed perfectly.

And now it was just he, Mione, and Zabini.

Hermione had her wand up, facing him, and he pulled his own out, ready to handle her if need be. Zabini acted then, sending a silent curse Hermione's way.

Harry didn't know the effects of it, and summoned his best friend immediately, catching her sailing body in the process.

She glared at him. "I could have handled it!"

"You don't know what that does!" he countered.

"Of course I do. It was supposed to forced my entire body to twist into an unnatural shape that would most likely cause permanent bone damage."

Harry shoved both of them out of the way of another curse that wasn't verbalised.

"Did Bellatrix teach you that?" he asked, breathing a little rough as he sent a Blasting Hex toward their opponent.

"How did you know about that?" she demanded, mimicking his actions and destroying a good chunk of the ice around the older magical.

"It's obvious, though I had hoped you would tell me yourself."

"Well what about you and the Dark Lord?" she countered. "You always seem to be together!" she accused, looking mutinous.

"He's a twat with an unnatural obsession with me. I can't do anything about it. He always finds me and won't leave!" Harry whinged, because yes, it was annoying.

Before Hermione could give an answer, Zabini changed tactics.

And skin too.

Suddenly, the woman's body expanded and grew, patches of grey forming all over and grey hairs sprouting everywhere.

Harry was disgusted when her appendages grew longer, and then four more seemed to sprout out of her sides. Right before their eyes, Moriah Zabini became an Acromantula. And suddenly, everything was much worse.

"Black Widow suddenly has a whole new meaning."

"That bitch," Hermione murmured.

Harry took a step behind his friend, because he didn't like spiders all that much. And Hermione could totally handle spiders without a problem.

"Harry, if you don't get out here and fight her with me, I am going to be very cross."

With a frown, the younger brunet stepped out from behind his friend. Hermione getting 'cross' wasn't good for anyone.

"Fire?"

"Fire," she agreed.

Without even the blink of an eye, Hermione let loose a very unpleasant curse that Harry had not expected her to be able to control. But indeed, a flaming tiger had leapted forth from the tip of her wand and was stalking across the ice very slowly.

Harry could cast it as well, but he could only control a smaller version of it, and it was by the tutoring of Sirius that he was able to do it at all.

Yes, Sirius sometimes used Dark Magic, though he tried not to. It was like a secret addiction of his own, that everyone knew about but he liked to pretend that it was a secret.

Lifting his own wand, Harry actually had to verbally cast, "Fiendfyre!"

Alongside Hermione's tiger, came a phoenix.

The crowd gave the expected screams of amazement or fear. Seeing two seventeen years olds manipulating some of the most dangerous Elemental Magic was most likely a shock. And of course the danger of using such curses within such close quarters of other people, would probably terrify the spectators.

The tiger and phoenix surrounded the Acromantula, and the woman-turned-spider was no longer snapping at them with her pincers, but crouching low and wailing in response to the heat.

The fire phoenix's mouth opened and snapped the creature up.

The inhuman shrieking rang throughout the lake, and Harry could unfortunately understand every wailing plea as Moriah Zabini was carried off toward the open water, her body being burnt alive in the most gruesome way possible.

From Arachnetongue, the woman's screams translated to, ΔHelp! Oh Merlin, it hurts! It burns! Make it stop! End this! Kill me now! KILL ME!Δ

He withheld a wince, and felt marginally better when the phoenix dove into the water, being doused upon contact. Hopefully she would get the help she needed, because he didn't have time to feel bad, Hermione's tiger had just turned on him!

Fuck!

And now things got harder.


Voldemort couldn't help but lean forward in worry. The appropriate reaction when faced with Fiendfyre, was to flee. And scream, though it could ruin the fleeing part.

The fact was, Harry was not moving, though he looked absolutely horrified.

The massive fire feline's head lifted up to roar and a paw lashed out to slam down on the brunet with brutal efficiency. And all the while, the Potter Heir had not moved an inch.

The flaming paw came down, and suddenly, Potter's body exploded in a shower of what looked to be mist. In essence, it was more like raindrops had been frozen in the air and were moving about on their own.

The droplets of water separated and soared over the tiger's head, taking form near the other end of the ice platform and returning Harry Potter to his natural state.

As in, he'd just exploded into streams of water that had scattered and then gathered together again. A very unique form of Elemental Manipulation.

Casting a look in Severus' direction, he could see the man adding three strokes to his score for Harry. Bellatrix was right next to him, doing the very same. Not many people at the teen's age even knew what their affinity was or if they even had the ability to connect with an element. So it was refreshing to learn that some were interested in learning the basics at least.

Granger tried to knock her friend into the water by aiming a Blasting Curse as his feet. Potter Apparated on the spot, which in turn, had Granger Apparating in order to avoid whatever it was that he had planned in retaliation.

Potter had landed first and it took less than a second for him to spot his friend. Just as Granger's entire body appeared, Potter was quick to hit her with a silent curse.

It took Voldemort a few seconds to realise just what it was.

Granger had been brought to her knees suddenly and she struggled to push herself to her feet. As if a great weight had been placed on her shoulders. It was a particular spell, that was meant to be used on magical houses to prevent them from falling during earthquakes. Because Merlin forbid magicals build foundations any longer.

Voldemort had never thought to use such a thing on a person before, though he'd also never considered vanishing someone's rib cage either. Harry was just full of surprises.

As Granger struggled to move, Potter turned his attention to the diminishing flames of the tiger. It had shrunken in size very quickly, probably because Granger was unable to keep control over it for too long, so the magical output was dwindling.

Potter summoned a stream of water, normal spell-work for the average fifth year at Hogwarts. But that water morphed into a stream of ice shards that were launched at the tiger in mass amounts.

Steam rose upon contact, the heat from the fire and chill from the ice working together to mask the entire pillar from the gazes of the spectators who had gone silent in awe of the two teens' mastery at such young ages.

They all waited quietly, for something new to happen. Things were getting intense and-

"AH!"


With a wave of the wand, the steam was carried off by a gust of wind, letting Harry finally see his opponent. Or at least, what should have been his opponent. Except Hermione was nowhere to be seen.

He turned on his heel, wand raised and shield charm at the tip of his tongue.

He was shocked when Hermione's head popped out of the water, hair sticking to her head as she floated. She also looked ready to murder someone.

"I slipped," was her only response to his unasked question.

Right. They were standing on ice and neither had moved beyond Apparition.

"The Final Round is finished!" Voldemort announced, cutting through the tense atmosphere around the two duelists. "We will give the judges a few moments to deliberate."

Harry levitated his friend's form the cold water and deposited her by his side. "You okay, Mione?"

She huffed. "Yes. I had hoped that I could do more, but I guess this was okay."

Helping her to her feet, he couldn't help but add, "And you took on three people at once, for almost ten minutes. That has to count for something."

"And you sat on your sweet arse, doing nothing!"

"Why should I have to do extra work when others can do it for me?"

"Because, Harry, we were supposed to demonstrate our magical ability!"

"Actually, he only said 'ability'. Though magic was heavily implied, as well. I demonstrated strategy, so I think I did good."

Yes, he was the loophole master and Hermione hated it. And it was great!

"Sometimes I would like nothing more than to smack you."

Harry broke out the puppy eyes. "But I'm far too cute to smack."

"That makes me want to smack you even more, and twice as hard as originally desired."

Harry stared for a moment. "Would that mend whatever this rift is that appeared between us since the tournament started?"

And Hermione just stared. He'd managed to catch her off guard.

Harry wasn't always the most observant when it came to others, but he had noticed the changes in Hermione ever since the tournament had been announced. She used to be a lot more fun and easygoing. Now all she could think about was the tournament. She hadn't even begun her revising for the N.E.W.T.s!

Usually she hopped on major exam revision in February, but she'd been so overtaken by the tournament and Lestrange, that she just hadn't had the time anymore. No time for Hogsmeade, or sitting for dinner in the Great Hall. It was as if their small group of friends had drifted apart.

And yes, Harry adored Neville, Hannah, and Susan, and Luna of course, but without Mione, it was like they were missing a well-oiled wheel from their wagon.

It had been hard enough when Fred, George, and Lee had graduated, but the to add on the continuous drama from the tournament and their lives, and it seemed like there wasn't much time for them to just get together.

Hermione sputtered. "You've been busy too!" she accused.

"I'm studying for two Masteries, my N.E.W.T.s, this tournament, and I've been helping Madam Pomfrey and Hagrid, so yes, I've had a lot on my platter. But I still find time to spend without our friends on the weekends, or at meals. I could probably do better, but for the moment, I'm doing my best to juggle so much."

"If you have so much, why bother entering?"

"I didn't."

Her jaw dropped, and he nodded vigorously, pointing over to Voldemort, who was speaking with Snape and Lestrange. "That twat saw me use a non-verbal Patronus and entered me. I had warned you about signing your name without reading ahead, and I had to learn the hard way that he added 'special features' to the sign up sheets. Once signed, you can't get out of it, and he apparently has some ability to watch you once you sign it."

Hermione visibly recoiled, looking horrified. "'Watch'? What kind of 'watching'?"

Harry shrugged. "He didn't deem it important enough for me to know. He simply came in while I was whinging to Snape about getting me out of the tournament, and I ended up getting… Well, cheeky would be too tame to describe it, really."

A moment of silence passed, before the witch looked up at him through lowered lashes. "Why didn't you say anything from the beginning? You could have prevented the whole Dueling Club incident and the wrath of the school if you had just said something."

"No one asked," he stated simply. As her annoyed look, he continued, "I'm not one for volunteering personal information, you know. I shouldn't have to justify myself to anyone. It was blatantly obvious that I wasn't in this for real. I was against it from the beginning and then the reaction I had when my name was called. I think my mum knows the truth, though whether Snape told her or not has yet to be proven. It isn't like I've given this my all."

Hermione looked around, eyes landing on the ice. "If you weren't here willingly, why stay?"

"You."

"What?"

"He made mention of how there were some people who still didn't like Muggleborns and they might try something with you and if I was disqualified, I would lose the right to anything tournament related, meaning if something happened, I wouldn't have been able to prevent it."

"Oh, Harry-"

"Then DuBois happened. I'm sorry- No-Name, and I knew that I couldn't give up yet if he was so foolish to try something in the open. But then I was given this lovely idea, as Lord Twat Waffle kept following me everywhere. I should win the tournament and then publicly deny him in front of all of Great Britain. So that's my plan as revenge."

And for several moments, he and his best friend stared at one another.

The brunette sighed and looked away. "I saw how close you both seemed," she admitted. "I was jealous because you had said that you didn't care, but were suddenly in the tournament. And every time the two of you are within close quarters, you look so natural. Like a couple even."

It was Harry's turn to rear back in shock. He and Voldemort looked like a couple?!

"Yo do!" the witch insisted. "You may not realise it, but you smile a lot more, and sometimes you get that cute pout. Seriously, the flirting is almost extreme. And I was jealous over it, so I began to pull away."

She looked down. "And if I had just asked then I could have been the one to help you when MacDougal poisoned you with his poorly made potion! I'm sorry, Harry."

"Mione, even Voldemort couldn't save me from that, so don't beat yourself up over it. And part of this is my fault too. I have anxiety, and I constantly worry over whether I'm being irritating, or not, so I tried to give you space until you were ready. It didn't occur to me that we should just sit down and talk. I prefer it when people give me space, so I forgot that not everyone feels the way I do, and that it might look different from another's perspective.

"Mum is always telling me that I should consider others and their feelings first, before acting. I guess I was too late."

Hermione's answer was cut off by Voldemort, who called for the remaining ten competitors to meet on the ice.

"I would first like to congratulate you all. You all demonstrated just why you deserved to be in the top ten. However, only five will be moving on to the Sixth Task."

Voldemort cast a spell, and the blackboard holding the scores, was wiped clean. It was then replaced with new words. Names and scores, in that order.

Harry Potter 95/100

Hermione Granger 90/100

Moriah Zabini 87/100

Assefa Mohamed 83/100

Karasawa Matsuri 74/100

"You're in first," Hermione remarked.

Harry shrugged for the millionth time. "I'm good at dueling."

"Don't take this as a finality!" she warned. "Just because you intend to win doesn't mean anyone else here doesn't have the same intentions. I'm still going to try my hardest, and when I win, I'll smack him for you."

Harry snorted. "If you win, you mean."

"The Sixth Task will take place on the fifteenth of May, so prepare yourselves! Congratulations to the remaining five competitors."


"Potter can date my baby now!" Bellatrix squealed, arms open wide in celebration.

Severus, having taken noticed of something that apparently no one else had, turned the woman around and pointed in the direction of her son, who was seated in the stands, squashed between twin redheads. Redheads who were smirking brightly as their arms were wrapped around his shoulders. The boy was flushed.

"I don't think Potter is the one to watch out for."

"Weasleys?!"


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A/N: Hello, people!

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Harry could feel the tensions in the air the moment he stepped foot into his family home. Like that time that Hermione was called a 'Mudblood' by some faceless Ravenclaw seventh year and her magic suddenly built up until her thick hair stood on end, sparking here and there.

Without mercy, she'd whirled around and cursed him so thoroughly, he was left unconscious in the corridor. He couldn't even remember his attacker as his back had been turned, and no one felt the need to report the girl for her actions, leaving the situation as 'unresolved'.

Harry's mum wasn't the sort to act outwardly. Unlike Hermione, she wasn't explosive in personality. She let things simmer and gave people a chance to either dig themselves out of the holes that they had created for themselves, or dig an even deeper hole. And when things kept piling on, she would plan out her retaliation thoroughly.

So it wasn't just his mother who seemed unnerved, because with her, she would just close herself off and become quiet. Remus was much the same in temperament. So either it was James or Sirius, or all of them at once, which was a possibility.

"Anyone home?" he called out, though he knew perfectly that all of them were home. Yes, his father included.

"Kitchen!" his mum answered from not afar off.

Harry left his bag at the foot of the stairs - he'd only be home for a few days, so why bring the trunk with him? - and trudged off to the kitchen. The place where the 'family meetings' took place.

"Are you all okay?" he asked when he stepped into the room, finding his father and godfather holding cups of tea, and Remus reclining with Lily at the table.

"Harry, we wanted to have a talk," said Lily, looking calm, and not the calm that made her look like she was planning someone's murder. More serene than anything else.

"Are you pregnant?"

All four stared for a moment, before Sirius' snort broke the silence. His godfather threw his head back to laugh loudly, almost barking in a sense.

"No," Lily murmured. "I'm not pregnant, though not for lack of trying." The last part had been murmured, but Harry still heard it, and he really wished that he hadn't.

"No one died, else you'd be wearing black. Did Sirius finally propose?"

"What?" said Remus and Sirius at once, both looking confused.

Harry looked away. "Nothing. What's up?"

He plonked down at the table and waved a hand to summon a cup from the cupboards, a spoon from the drawer, and the kettle from the stove. Without looking up, he poured himself some of the life-saving liquid and took a cube of sugar from the small bowl on the table.

Looking at his mother for direction, the teen slowly twirled his finger around, making the spoon stir his tea for him.

She stared at his cup for a moment, before clearing her throat. "We wanted to talk to you about the Tournament and to tell you that we know that you didn't enter yourself."

Harry's entire frame stiffened. He'd supposed that she had figured it out, how could she not? But he hadn't expected that she had told anyone else about it.

Lily reached a hand out and patted his forearm. "We're not angry or anything. Remus was the one who figured it out around the Second Task. We just wanted to see if you'd tell us or not."

The teen couldn't help but flush. "I was planning to let all of Great Britain know… when I won. The Great Cockwomble is so sure that I'm going to win, and he's right of course, but he forgot one thing. It never says that the person who wins has to marry him. The winner just wins the right to his hand, that's it. And he'll learn that if he truly wants me, for whatever reason he has, he's going to end up working for it."

There was a moment of silence as the four adults took in his words.

"You're going to deny the Dark Lord, in front of Great Britain?" Sirius asked, as if he was unsure of his words.

"Pretty much. You don't think he's going to make the revelation of the winner a big spectacle? When he does so, he will regret entering me without my permission.

"Sure, he's good at conversation. Would be a good dueling companion. Is kind of funny when the time needs it. I just don't like him more than what could be considered friendly. Also, he is attractive, but not my kind I guess you can say."

"You want Lord Voldemort to fall in love with you," Lily surmised, to which he nodded.

"I have to do all this hard arse work to just get the 'rights' to him, like he's some sort of bloody prize. What makes him worthy of me though?"

"Nothing," James answered suddenly. "I don't care that you're both truly Slytherins, or that you're similar in magical aptitude, he's not worthy of you and I'm going to stand by this belief for the rest of my damn life."

Harry couldn't help but freeze again. How did he know that?

"You heard our talk, didn't you?" he asked, realising the only way he could have known.

"Voldemort didn't put up a ward. It wasn't like you were being quiet," Lily murmured with a shrug.

True. "And you're okay with it?"

"Yes!" Sirius insisted. "We don't care about that. We're not as we used to be you know? We not perfect true, but we're a lot better. Lily was the one to drill it into us that Slytherins as a whole aren't evil or remotely bad. And Remus was the one to point out that we only ever saw what we wanted to see. It's not you who is at fault, it's us."

Harry was touched, to say the least. Sirius wasn't one for touchy/feely things. He preferred the stereotypical 'guy things'. Toughness and sports.

Harry wasn't one for sports, and he didn't learn Karate to be 'tough'. He did it to enhance his training - both physical and magical - and to keep himself in shape. Harry wasn't necessarily tough. Not physically imposing, and his voice wasn't deep. More gravelly instead of deep. A definite tenor.

Harry and all of his five feet and eight and a half inch glory, was just the average bloke, who was lucky enough to grow up with incredibly talented people, who passed on their skills to him. Without his upbringing, he would be just like the average Hogwarts student and there would be nothing particularly amazing, save for his Defence abilities.

Harry knew he didn't come out exactly as had been desired, but they loved him nonetheless. He hadn't ever felt pressured to be something he wasn't, other than at his sorting, when he was unsure of what to do, because he knew what the Marauders had done to Snape for simply being a Slytherin who was friends with the pretty, Gryffindor Princess.

And then the Quidditch wasn't really his thing, but he'd done it to be allowed a time each week where he could fly freely.

Still, Harry hadn't felt boxed or anything.

"It's fine," the teen said quietly. "It's not like I'm not capable of being in any of the other Houses. According to the Hat, I had the ambition and cunning of a Slytherin, the hard-working attitude of a Hufflepuff, the nerve and daring of a Gryffindor, and the Intelligence of a Ravenclaw. It said I could be anything, but Slytherin would 'help me on my way to greatness'. The fact is, I want what I want, and being great doesn't factor into that.

"I don't need people to know me. I just want what I want for the sake of the animals and creatures and myself."

"You made it sound as if you were scared of what would have happened if you had been sorted into Slytherin," said Lily. "We were surprised because we hadn't thought being in Gryffindor was so taxing."

"Gryffindor itself it relatively okay. There are just some people within who annoy the piss out of me and sometimes need to be dealt with swiftly. I've handled myself just fine and when I get fed up, I retreat to a silent room, or just take myself to the Room of Requirement and remain there for as long as I need.

"Yes, I was worried over the sorting, but not to the extent of like being disowned, more of disappointment for breaking the blood Potter tradition of being sorted into Gryffindor. I wasn't too sure of what would happen, and I wouldn't chance it. So I just demanded anywhere by Slytherin, and it placed me in Gryffindor begrudgingly."

He didn't want them to think that they had backed him into a corner or something. Gryffindors were annoying, but as he was anti-social, he found almost everyone to be annoying. People were needy and loud whingers. Animals, not so much.

"Everything is fine. I'm fine and there is nothing wrong at present."

Lily didn't throw her arms around him, but both of her slim hands did take his right hand in a comforting gesture.


φYou humans and your 'education'.φ

Harry sighed as Shelob rubbed up against his leg. She was moody at the moment because he hadn't paid her enough attention at Yule, and she wanted her rubbing in. She jumped onto his bed to get closer to his hands.

φI apologise that I'm required by law to attend some kind of educational facility. It breaks my heart that it interrupts your plans.φ

Her nose rose several inches, despite how the rest of her body remained firmly planted on his bed. φYou humans are always so concerned with unimportant matters. Hunting, bathing, mating, and sleeping are the primary needs of life. Nothing else is truly needed.φ

He knew that she wouldn't really understand. Animals weren't well versed in the understanding of human practices. Just as humans would have a hard time understanding an animal's thought process.

Animals didn't really have morals, and shoving human expectations on them wasn't fair. Animals had a sense of kinship and much like humans, if your kin betrayed the blood, they were disposed of. Either by death or banishment.

They were possessive over territory and things that they saw as theirs, people included. They also believed in providing for the 'family' until such a time where the young ones could leave to provide for themselves.

Other than those few points, they differed from humanity.

They didn't mourn the losses of their enemies, nor did they feel bad for their deaths.

Harry grew up surrounded by animal-like mentality. So he could understand why they didn't understand why he couldn't devote all of his time to them. That didn't mean he had to like it though.

φDon't go picking on me,φ he said with a frown. φI am the innocent soul that is afflicted with your demands. The least you can do is be kind.φ

She shook her head. φYour strange terms again.φ

Another thing. Animals didn't have exactly the same words for the same meaning. So while it all sounded English to him, no matter which animal or creature was speaking, he knew that to them, some of the words he was saying were strange and held no meaning.

Speaking multiple languages was a pain at times.

He set his bag on the bed and placed a finger over the photo on his nightstand. His head bowed in respect. It was of Ungoliant, Shelob's mother.

Harry had been seven when it had happened. One moment, they were playing in the back yard, and the next, some nearby children had gotten their hands on the feline. Because she wasn't 'pretty' like other cats were - due to the squished face and perpetual frown - she was considered 'too ugly to live'.

Harry had been much younger than the group of boys, but he was forced to watch as one held him down and the others… it was horrible.

Harry's magic was so out of control, he caused a minor explosion. The boy holding him was severely burned in the process, and his buddies were knocked into the fence guarding the house.

Not caring about them, Harry had rushed to Ungoliant's side, hoping that he'd be able to save her, but he was only little and had no magical training, so he didn't know what to do, and she couldn't talk any more because her throat had been… crushed.

Harry was found lying on the ground, bawling beside the dead feline. The boys were whinging about their injuries and were too busy insulting him to run away, so they had been caught.

The official story that went through the village, was that the bullies had come into the yard to bully Harry and were messing around with fireworks to scare him. That would explain the severe burns on the one boy, and how the other boys had 'fallen' when they lit them all at once. The feline had simply been their 'test dummy'.

That moment was what changed Harry's innocent views of the world. Where everything was once okay and fun, things went topsy turvy, fast. And he was never the same.

It was Ungoliant's death that had spurred him on to became a Magical Veterinarian. As there weren't many, he knew that with his talent, he would do amazing things.

That he wouldn't let what happened to her, happen to other animals.

Harry still had trouble going into the back yard because of it. It had left a traumatising mark on his life and would be what made his dislike of people, appear. 'Cause animal abuse was fun and hilarious to a lot of people and Harry did not get with that.

They weren't there for people's amusement. They weren't created to be hurt. Animals were friends. Animals were companions.

The way of life was kill or be killed in the animal kingdom, which was why he still ate meat. Animals didn't live life going, 'how dare they try to eat me'. It was more of, 'I'll eat them before they eat me,' kind of thing.

φI want my rubbing now! I am old and in need of some relaxation!φ

φOkay! Okay!φ


§Nagini, why do you sulk?§

The great serpent gave an irritated hiss and coiled herself more tightly around her human's throne. §You plan to lock me in a room with two-leggers and I am not allowed to eat any of them!§

Voldemort stroked a hand down Nagini's spine and hissed soothingly, §I will be sure to lavish you with as many mice as you desire once all is said and done, dearest.§

§But the two-leggers are going to be boring. An hour each means that my day will be spent having to watch them try to curry my favour. You know I don't like being touched by strange beings, and I don't like the two-legger language you speak when talking to the meat bags.§

Yes, English grated her nerves apparently.

§It won't be too painful, my dear. You can even try scaring them a bit, so long as you don't bite them or squeeze them too hard.§

The serpent hissed again, though she was much happier this time. §Two-legger fear is delicious.§

§If you say so.§

§Which one is your favourite two-legger?§ she asked. §The one you desire as a mate?§

Voldemort tapped her nose and smirked. §I won't tell you. I am certain that you will like him just as much as I, and I would prefer that you came to your own conclusion in regards to him. He is special.§

§It isn't like there are many males left to choose from,§ the serpent huffed.

She was right.


It wasn't a day that anyone felt particularly terrible. Just the average week day. However, there was one thing different about today, compared to the other days.

The prison guard in charge of the Grindelwald/Dumbledore Tower, had brought breakfast at seven thirty like usual, and found Albus Dumbledore kneeling beside Gellert Grindelwald's cot.

A moment of staring revealed that the former Dark Lord was a stiff as a block of wood, and that Dumbledore's face was covered in tears.

The young woman couldn't find it in herself to say anything and merely waited for the old wizard to acknowledge her presence.

Finally, after several moments, Dumbledore looked over, his blue eyes filled with tears. "Do you think he could be cremated and then buried in Godric's Hollow, beside his aunt? She was the only family member he truly cared for and it was his desire to be with family."

"I… I'm sure we can work something out, Mr. Dumbledore," the woman said, unable to stop her voice from cracking just a bit.

She hadn't felt anything toward either man, but she had known of their relationship. It was obvious with how they talked for hours at a time, and how they looked at one another. How different Grindelwald had been once Dumbledore had joined him. It was a significant change.

Once deadened and bleak was alive once more. All because of his best friend/lover.

She felt for the man who had lost his soulmate, and that was what made her cry.

"I'll see what the Dark Lord has to say about it. I'm certain he'll allow it."

The Dark Lord was merciful and a lot more kind than people gave him credit for.

He allowed the two old men scold him for Merlin's sake!

Placing a tray on the floor, she slid it under the bar and took the other tray back to the kitchens.

The warden would have to be notified and the body would need to be dealt with. And the Dark Lord would certainly want to be informed of the premature death of the man he succeeded as 'Greatest Dark Lord in History'.


Hermione was stuffed into a booth, Harry stuffed into the seat across from hers. She was taking away precious study time in order to go out to lunch with him. Though she really had no one to blame but herself, because she had let the Tournament invade the rest of her life.

"We're going to that film, Mione. You've put off a shite tonne of stuff this year and I'm getting in as much fun as I can get."

She sighed and sipped her milkshake. "I know," she murmured.

"Did you hear that Grindelwald died in his sleep?"

Her jaw dropped. "When did that happen?"

"Like two days ago. He was much too young, but I do know that Dumbledore's sentence is ending in a few months, so it's not too hard to extrapolate what happened."

"Dumbledore wouldn't kill his lover, right?"

"No," Harry denied. "The separation might have been too much to consider. Or maybe he was ill. They're talking of cremation, so I don't think anyone is going to find out just how he died. But I'd like to think that he couldn't handle the thought of losing his husband in all but paper."

"So then Dumbledore is just going to be released and have to live with the fact that his lover is gone?"

Harry shrugged. "It beats remaining in the place he used to live with the man."

Merlin, everything was just happening so quickly anymore.

"Let's go see that film now. I want the good seats in the center."

With a roll of the eyes, the witch got up to follow after her friend.


"Where's my baby?!"

Rigel winced as the sound of his mother's strident voice carried throughout the manor. He knew that avoiding her would do him no good. Especially when she could easily just summon him if she wanted.

The teen gave up his hopes of having a calm day, and went to find his mother, who would most likely be in the drawing room. She preferred to take her tea in there, whether they had company or not.

The woman was seated across from his brothers, who both looked stone-faced as usual. Sometimes, Rigel felt like he was born to the wrong family. He seemed to be like none of his relatives.

"My baby is being courted by Weasleys!"

He flinched. He hadn't wanted anyone to find out so soon, though the twins weren't very subtle at the Fifth Task.

His mother's eyes weren't full of wrath or even annoyance. She merely looked like she always did. Slightly mad and maybe a little tired.

"Like the Slytherins they are, your older brothers decided to investigate the situation and have informed me that the twin menaces would be good husbands for you, my love."

The boy flushed. Slytherin didn't just 'look into', they situated themselves firmly inside and made their presence well known, in one way or another. He could only imagine what they had done.

And husbands? He wasn't particularly thinking that far ahead. He was turning fifteen for Circe's sake!

"Now if the Weasleys can manage to earn your brothers' approval, then they can't be all that bad, so I'm willing to give them a chance. But if they break your heart, darling…"

Rigel nodded, because he understood what she meant.

Now if only he could get a message to them to warn them ahead of time!


"Fifty creations, like you proposed!"

Harry grinned when the twins waved their arms in a flourish. They had actually managed to create fifty never-before-seen items for their shop, and that meant that he had to follow through with his offer.

Harry Potter, the silent partner to Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes. Or at least, he wanted to be a silent partner, though they might protest and tell everyone about him. He wasn't exactly sure yet.

"You have the building scouted?"

"Number 93 of Diagon Alley, oh gracious benefactor!" said Fred, brandishing the Daily Prophet in his face.

"We've spoken with the owner and we not only plan to use the bottom half as the shop space, but the top half will be our new flat," George explained. "It's got quite a large amount of space and it'll only cost five hundred Galleons as a down payment, and then we can pay off the remaining five hundred Galleons over time."

Harry smirked. "Or, we can take a walk to Gringotts and exchange a couple thousand from my vault to yours."

Their broad grins dropped instantly. "Are you serious?" the two asked.

"No, that's my godfather."

Apparently, the situation had gone too somber to appreciate poor, godfather jokes.

"Yes, I'm serious. It takes a lot to start a business, not just owning the property it stands on. You'll be selling more than your own creations, and you'll have to make agreements and sign contracts with other business, plus services for transportation. It won't be cheap. You'll need at least three thousand to start yourselves off."

The two shared a look of utter shock.

"Yeah," Harry affirmed with a nod. "You'll need more variety, won't you? More than just the fifty items you have. So you'll have to partner with some newer brands, which is where I'll come in because aligning themselves with a Potter would make their business and possibly get them in my family's good graces."

He might not like having to do the dealing, but with his Slytherin side, he was good at pretending to like it. That was all that mattered.

And he was no stranger to using his name in order to pull some strings. Sometimes, the spoken work held a lot of power, even when magic wasn't involved. Sometimes, 'Potter' or 'Black' was enough to get people to leap if he ordered them to.

Fools placed so much importance onto names, but if it benefited him, why should he mind?

"You don't have to give us so much," said Fred.

George was nodding. "We've managed to save up a large amount already."

"Almost a thousand Galleons of our own."

"Then save it for when you're creating more merchandise. You can't just stay stagnant right? There is always going to be lulls and crests in the market, and consumers want to consume. You'll have a lot of work ahead of you already."

The two shared a look, and nodded. "Thanks, Harry."

"Now, have you thought about any shareholders besides us?"

The two leaned even closer and began detailing how they'd managed to gain the support of Snape of all people, as well as Bellatrix Lestrange. As the twins would own sixty percent of the shares, thirty each, and Harry would own thirty himself, the remaining ten percent would be left up to others.

And now those others were Snape and Lestrange. Interesting.

Things were coming together so nicely.


Luna hummed as she scrubbed the wing of the Thestral. Harry had asked for her to join him because he was bringing a large meal for the creatures, as payment for Luxra's assistance in the last Task.

He could have simply put it all in a bag and just dumped it out, but Harry had a certain way he dealt with animals. He was using a thick table cloth to hold the meat and was levitating it while Luna held the buckets of cleaning instruments.

Harry made his own soap for the Thestrals. Their wings had to be treated delicately despite how powerful they were. The leathery muscles needed to remain healthy and Harry had learned of just what would make them shine and what could give them the nutrients they needed to remain healthy.

"Thanks for your help, Luna."

"I like it," she said. "It's not fair how pope treat them simply because of how they look and what is required to see them. It's not like they are the only creatures that have a requirement in order to see them."

Harry frowned. "What else is there?"

She grinned. "There is a… creature in the Black Lake that can only be seen by those who have lost their virginity. Unfortunately, I cannot see it, but I await the day that I will."

Harry snorted, but asked, "So is it just physical virginity, or does a perverted mind count?"

She had to consider that. "I don't know," she admitted. "The book never specified just what, because there are people who will never lose their physical virginity."

"What constitutes are virginity anyway?" Harry asked. "Like, masturbation is considered a type of sex, so like, does that count as losing your virginity, or no?"

These were the kinds of conversations they always got into.

Nox trilled something to Harry and he responded, before returning to their conversation. "Nox thinks that our human traditions are silly."

She was right in a sense. Also, to understand English at such a young age was impressive. Luna gave the foal a gentle stroke on the nose and praised her intelligence.

"You're right," she crooned to the creature. "You'll be the best Thestral in the herd when you grow up."

Nox gave her an affectionate nuzzle in response.

"Hey, Luna!"

"Mm?"

"If you're thinking of losing your virginity any time soon, please make sure that the person you're involved with is decent? And perhaps you can give me their name in case they fuck it all up."

"I can handle things just fine, Harry!" scolded the blonde, though she was smiling as she did so. It was nice to know that she had friends who cared about her.

"If you worry that much, just know that when you and the Dark Lord get together, Hermione plans to punch him in the jaw."

Harry fumbled with the brush he was using. "What do you mean when we 'get together'?"

Luna merely hummed and continued to rub the soap in.

"I'm denying him!" Harry sputtered.

"Of course you will."

He actually would too, but that didn't mean that Voldemort would be giving up any time soon. No way, no how.

"I will!"

Luna just kept on humming, giggling once or twice at her friend's frustrations.


"Your favourite thing in the world!" Madam Pomfrey cheered as she waved a hand toward the room full of bed pans she had stored up all for Harry to clean.

The teen stared, unable to process how cruel the world was being to him. What ever did he do to deserved such harsh treatment? It wasn't like he did anything truly bad.

"You vanished a woman's rib cage and left me to handle regrowing it," Pomfrey stated in answer to his silent whinging.

"It couldn't have been that bad," he hedged, trying to lighten her severe frown.

"The first regrowth went wrong because her spine had twisted in the wrong direction, so I had to re-vanish her rib cage, which took more of my magic than I expected, and then realign her frame, to regrow everything again. I will be compensated for your mistakes."

Grumbling, Harry set to the task. He knew it had been coming. He shouldn't have hoped for anything different. It was so obvious. Madam Pomfrey had a very demented sense of humour and he could shed tears over how unfair the world was being.

Why did he choose Healing again?

Because he wanted to help the animals and magical creatures. That was why.

Damn him and his annoying feelings! Feelings did him no good.


Voldemort smirked the moment he laid eyes on Harry Potter, who was stomping across the lawn of Hogwarts, the Runespoor around his neck.

The young man hadn't noticed his presence and he seemed to be in a terrible mood. That made the Dark Lord pause. Would he be making the mood worse or better if he decided to pop on over? And what shocked him the most about the whole situation was that he actually cared about whether or not he offended the teen.

What was Harry James Potter doing to him?


A/N: Another is done!

 

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Dear Sev,

Harry finally opened up to the family about the tournament, though I admit we did kind of corner him. Still, we are now all aware of what exactly happened and why he is in the tournament in the first place. I can't tell if I am relieved or terrified.

Why is Lord Voldemort showing so much interest in my baby? I can understand if one of his schoolmates would want him because Harry is quite the catch, but to have a grown man who is at least three times his age, following him around and getting all friendly with him, bothers me more than anything ever has.

I wanted to get your opinion of the situation because you know your lord better than I do.

Luv,

Lils.


Dear Lily,

I would not be the first person to come to when discussing the way the Dark Lord's mind works. While I am considered one of his favourites, and I do see more sides of him than many others, he still remains elusive. He does that for a reason.

However, I have noticed that he seems to prefer Potter the most out of everyone. I can't even begin to tell you what drew him first. He claims it was a non-verbal Patronus, but the level of addiction he has displayed came along far too quickly to have just been that.

In fact, I think it might be Mr. Potter's informal attitude toward him. He doesn't grovel or plead for himself. He gets cheeky several times in just one encounter, and he doesn't seem to be threatened by the Dark Lord's presence.

Perhaps even supreme rulers like normal every now and then.

Severus.


Sev,

Do you think he has a crush on Harry? James and I witnessed a moment between them when Harry awoke in the Hospital Wing and it looked very… cozy.

Their interactions seem so genuine and borderline flirty, if I'm being honest. I don't think Harry sees it though. In fact, I don't think either of them have noticed how they act around one another.

I'm confiding this in you because I know I can trust you. Harry plans to win the tournament so he can publicly deny Voldemort's hand in front of Magical Britain.

I know, we were just as shocked, but he wants Voldemort to prove himself worthy. My son is not put off by the thought of marrying the Dark Lord, Severus. His only stipulation is that the other man has to work for his hand in return.

I must admit, I'm worried. More so than ever before.

Lils.


Lily,

Your son is one of the most foolish children I have ever met. Embarrassing the greatest Dark Lord in history in front of thousands of witches and wizards. Does he never employ use of that brain he has? I know he has one. His grades are perfect. So either there is no common sense, which would explain why he isn't in Ravenclaw, or he's only book smart.

Your son is giving me silver hairs, Lily. This entire year has been filled with one thing after the other, and who is usually involved? Harry James Potter.

I feel as if I have aged a decade in just these past few months.

Severus.


Sev,

Don't be like that, Sev! You're still looking fit.

Harry doesn't cause that much drama otherwise we'd be hearing about it. Does he?

Excuse me, but I would like to believe that my son is very responsible and that he causes no mischief. The epitome of good.

Lils.


Lily,

'No mischief'. Sure.

And your son is behind a lot of situations around here. I simply cast my eye elsewhere because in a normal situation, no one would have found him out. He also isn't the type to go overboard in revenge, so I let him handle the problems.

Removing points and giving detentions don't always work after all.

Severus.


Sev,

Were the revenges good?

Lils.


Lily,

Extraordinary. And the affected never repeated their actions to earn another 'revenge' a la Potter.

You've taught him well.

Severus.


Bellatrix grinned to herself. The Sixth Task was coming upon them swiftly and she would be lying if she said she wasn't excited. The Dark Lord's familiar was probably one of the most picky animals Bellatrix had ever seen, so to see her locked in a room with someone she was not allowed to eat, would be hilarious!

Now, while she was shocked that her little apprentice had made it past the Fifth Task - honestly, she absorbed information really quickly and was a great study - Bellatrix wasn't sure she'd make it to Task Seven.

Hermione Granger seemed to worship knowledge, and if she learned something new, she didn't challenge it or bother to see if what she learned was true or not. She placed far too much faith in authority.

Not once had she challenged anything Bellatrix had taught to her and while she was glad to be able to teach someone with such potential, she was disappointed at the sheep like mentality the girl possessed.

The Dark Lord would not appreciate such a thing. She just believed whatever she learned, and that wasn't smart.

Bellatrix had faith in Potter.

Harry Potter had made it past the Fifth Task, which Bellatrix had not expected in the least.

The boy showed next to no interest in the tournament and the Dark Lord's revelation of entering him himself, had been what fixed Bellatrix's attention on the boy. What did the Dark Lord see that others couldn't? What was it about him that made the Dark Lord consider him for the position of his consort?

Has the brother wand to the Dark Lord's wand. Owl Animagus. Water Elemental. Phoenix Patronus. Phoenix Fiendfyre. Incredibly intelligent. Going for two masteries. He also had an astounding ability to manipulate matter if he managed to turn himself into water. That took a lot of power and self-control.

She was looking forward to how he fared against Nagini.

She wasn't like others of her kind after all.


Voldemort had prepared the room that would be used, ahead of time.

The Sixth Task would take place in the Room of Requirement. It would make it more interesting to see just what the competitors would do to try to gain the favour of a serpent.

And as there would be floating Two-Way Mirrors all over the room so that the spectators can watch the happenings, Voldemort would be able to hear his dear familiar's complaints and insults.

What others didn't know, what that there was more than just a familiar bond between them. Nagini was his third Horcrux.

He had his Diary, Cadmus Peverell's Ring, and then Nagini. He'd wanted to make seven, but he couldn't find Gryffindor's Sword to even out the possessions of the Hogwarts Founders. And he wasn't too certain he'd want to make it into a Horcrux.

Although, it vanishing and only appearing when someone has need of it would be a perfect form of protection.

Still, he didn't want to entrust the protection of his soul in a Gryffindor object. At least the other three Founders weren't so… stupid. That meant their belongings could be trusted to protect his soul pieces.

Anyway, because Nagini had a piece of his soul inside of her, there was a link between them. A link that could not be easily broken. Meaning that he could enter her mind at any time and he could even have a front row seat to witness the Sixth Task.

Also, he and Nagini could trade insults about the obvious mistakes that would occur, which he was looking forward to the most.

People pandering to animals when they didn't even know what they were saying, made him laugh.

He leveled the five remaining contestants with a sharp smile. The entertainment would begin here.


Hermione had read all about Twylusks before the beginning of the task. She knew what they preferred to eat, how they preferred to sleep, and even what their hunting habits were like. She was satisfied with her knowledge and felt that she was prepared for the task.

Nagini was of a breed of snake that preferred small game, as opposed to large food. They liked hot climates because their bodies got cold too quickly.

Hermione had a cage full of ferrets in her charmed bag and intended to release them into the room once she had her turn.

The Dark Lord stood tall before them. His robes form fitting and as black as night.

"My darling Nagini is waiting inside," the man said. "She is aware of the fact that you are not to be attacked. She is a little agitated however, so calming her down might be the best option you have. When your hour is up, she will tell me her feelings regarding you and when all of you are finished, she will choose the remaining three."

A snake would love to eat large rodents.

Hermione had this in the bag.

"Bellatrix has chosen the order in which the competitors will face Nagini."

He waved his wand, and their names appeared in the air, written in small flames.

Hermione Granger

Assefa Mohammed

Moriah Zabini

Karasawa Matsuri

Harry Potter

By putting Harry at the end, he would most likely get the snake when she was most annoyed. How evil of Bellatrix.

Hermione was definitely going to pass this!

"Ms. Granger, if you'll step inside."

Hermione did so, with her head held high. This would be easy.


Nagini coiled up tighter as the first two-legger was let into the room. This one was female, so it obviously wasn't the one that her master favoured. This one also smelled of perspiration. Unclean, as her master would say.

She needed a bath.

Nagini watched her closely, her golden eyes glinting.

The room that had once been a plain room without any warm rocks for her to lay on, suddenly became dark. Nagini hissed in displeasure.

The entire room - which she had been told would change depending on the two-legger's desires - turned into a place. A place where the trees looked strange and coiled around each other. And it was slightly wet and smelled terrible.

A tingle running down her spine alerted her of her master's presence.

She must have read up on your kind, he whispered quietly in her mind. Twylusks are known for being fond of jungle like habitats. But you my dear, have never lived in a jungle.

Nagini shook her head in displeasure. She did not like the room now. It was much better when it was all stone.

Do I really have to be in here for an hour? she asked her master.

Yes, he answered. I said I would give you all the mice you desire as payment.

I want a person though. Mice aren't good enough.

Her master sighed. Perhaps I can find a prisoner for you to have.

Feeling much better now, the serpent returned her attention to the two-legger, who was busy emptying a large cage from her strange bag. Inside, were several, long-bodied creatures. Sort of like mice, but definitely longer.

What are those? she asked. They smelled horrible and she reared back from their collective scent.

"Don't you want to eat?" the two-legger asked her.

Sometimes Nagini wished her face could do all of the things her master's could do. She knew the perfect look that would answer the female's question. She just couldn't do it.

In response, Nagini hissed loudly, baring her fangs as a threat. She then turned around and slithered toward a large tree that had roots sticking out of the ground. Slithering up the large protrusion, the serpent coiled around herself again and closed her eyes.

She could at least converse with her master in silence this way. That was better than nothing.

Only five hours. Just five hours of this.


Nagini lifted her head when the next two-legger entered the room. The last one had gotten frustrated when she didn't get any attention from the serpent. Poor Nagini had to suffer through drastic changes as the room kept changing shape.

First it was the strange 'jungle' as her master called it. Then it was a forest that made her think of the one outside the school. And then it got really hot, with sand getting in her scales.

She disliked that room the most. Nagini liked cooler temperatures. She was used to how nice and cool her master's nest was. He liked it cold as well. She'd been hatched there, and her whole life had been centered around the cold.

Just because others of her kind preferred warm spaces, didn't mean she did as well.

Not at all.

So the female two-legger had gotten even more annoying. She tried to levitate the terrible meals she brought, hoping that wiggling them in Nagini's face would make her want to eat them. But she didn't.

They smelled horrible. Nagini had standards and liked for her food to be clean.

The room had reverted back to the stone only room when the female left, and Nagini was reluctant to see what this two-legger would do. He smelled worse than the last one.

It made her think of the white follower of her master.

Lucius? her master asked.

Yes, that one, she agreed.

'Lucius' tended to wear strange scents because he thought they made him more attractive to potential mates. But he had a mate already, so Nagini didn't understand why he cloaked himself in such displeasing scents. And why did his mate tolerate it?

He does it to appear more powerful and to display dominance. Because he has more than others do, therefore he prefers to rub it in by using ridiculously lavish items, her master clarified. And his mate likes it. It smells good to her.

Strange. Two-leggers had such strange customs.

This male did not look well. In fact, his scent, which had been completely soaked in that horrible smell, was now tinged with another scent. This one she recongised easily, because it didn't matter where it came from, fear was potent.

She could feel her instincts demanding that she play. But her master said that she couldn't hurt any of the two-leggers that she was to be exposed to.

It wasn't fair! Nagini usually liked to scare her prey into a chase by giving them a dry bite and then letting them escape. The longer the chase, the more fun she had.

The male was backed against the far wall, eyeing her with obvious distrust.

She found it amusing.

Master, this one will not pass. He is terrified of serpents. He would not be a good mate for you if something so simple scares him so much.

You are awe-inspiring, my dear. Perhaps he is simply worried about offending you.

She slithered closer, hoping to test out her master's words. The male cowered into the wall, as if trying to escape.

No, she disagreed. He is scared of me. Instead of using his stick to keep me away, he just shivers and shakes.

A high pitched noise escaped from the not-prey. And squeaks, she added.

There was a low hum. You are correct, her master said. Perhaps you'd like to have a little fun with him, so long as you don't harm him at all, my dear.

Her master had given his blessing! Nagini hissed and slithered forward, enjoying how the foolish two-legger allowed his fear to consume him. He didn't even think to use his magic to save himself. He simply darted to the side, fleeing from her majesty.

Nagini gave chase, because what was wrong with a little hunt?

Her master's laughter rang through her mind, and she couldn't help but laugh with him.

The fool at least provided good entertainment.


The next two-legger reminded her slightly of her master. The magic that poured off of her was thick and heavy, but also dark. As if she bathed in the Dark Arts. But unlike with Nagini's dear master, it did not feel comforting and it did not make her feel welcome.

Not someone she would entrust her life with. No, there was something about this two-legger that put her on edge. As if she could not be trusted. But what was it?

That is Moriah Zabini, her master said. She is known very well for killing her mates to take their possessions. She has currently gone through her ninth mate, this past summer.

Nagini's reaction was to immediately rear back and hiss in disgust. She killed her mates! She killed her mates for some reason that Nagini did not understand. Because they had things she wanted? Didn't she get to have them once they became mates? Why would she need to kill her mates?!

Greed, her master said plainly.

Nagini did not like this female and she would not in any way be worthy of her master!

I need you to pass this one, dear Nagini.

Why?! the serpent demanded. She is not worthy of you! I wish to bite her and make her writhe. She deserves it. Killing her mates and then wanting to mate you to do the same!

She will get what's coming to her, dearest, her master soothed. I have already planned it out. Worry not.

Nagini huffed. Just because she had to pass the female, did not mean that she had to be pleasant. Not in the least.

Nagini glared as the female tried to get closer, and hissed every time she took a step.

The Mate Killer had better be killed soon. In fact, Nagini wanted her body.

Can I eat her when you have punished her good and well?

Her beloved master hummed, before giving a consenting, Okay.

This was good. Nagini felt that this more than made up for shoving her in a room with strange two-leggers.

A punishment and a gift rolled into one.


Nagini's scream of horror echoed through the room. She could not help it.

After the Mate Killer had departed, having received no pleasant reactions from Nagini, another female entered the room.

The plain stone turned white, and Nagini found herself in a room that was white all around, and in the center was a table.

She found herself suddenly being lifted and deposited onto the table, where she was suddenly held down by what she knew was magic.

This two-legger, also a female, had frozen her in place and had proceeded to milk her for her priceless venom! And if that wasn't terrible enough, she began to touch Nagini's trapped form.

She is touching me! the snake hissed mentally. She tried to struggle to the best of her ability, but nothing but her head moved. This had never happened before. She didn't like it.

§She is touching me the wrong way!§ the snake concluded when a sharp pain ran along her side, where the two-legger's hands were placed. Make it stop!

§I hate this! Why is she placing hot stones on my poor scales?!§

Nagini, tried to calm down as her master ordered, though she wasn't capable of listening because it was so hot!

§It's too hot! Master, make it stop!§


Harry winced as the serpent wailed for help. He thought watching the different encounters would be interesting, and for the most part, it was.

Hermione had floundered and Nagini had called her a few interesting terms that should never be mentioned. Assefa was apparently terrified of snakes, so that had ended with Nagini chasing him around the room. Zabini was unable to get anywhere near the snake. And now Matsuri was apparently trying to give the snake a massage, or she was trying to take some of Nagini's scales.

Harry couldn't really tell because he was just so uncomfortable.

Nagini was in pain. Harry hated it when animals were in pain.

He didn't know what to do. Nagini apparently didn't like warmth like others of her species did, which meant that what Matsuri was doing, was probably more than just painful.

Looking up from the Two-Way Mirror he was watching, Harry glared at the door to the Room of Requirement. He would give anything to be able to stop the idiot from continuing to hurt the poor snake.

If only he could summon her through the bloody wall. It would teach her a lovely lesson.

Perhaps he would need to plot some more revenge.

Animal abuse always did agitate him after all.


Harry was forced to wait a moment outside the room as Voldemort disappeared within to check on his familiar. Everyone could see him through the Two-Way Mirrors that had been set up by the large window in the corner, so it wasn't like he was doing anything suspicious.

And poor Nagini looked worse for wear. Of course many wouldn't notice, but Harry wasn't just anyone. And he knew serpents quite well.

Leveling Matsuri with his glare, he imagined her tripping over her robes and destroying the small vial of venom she had collected from Nagini.

As if on cue, the woman slipped on the front part of her robes that just suddenly got caught under her foot, and went tumbling to the floor. The vial of venom went flying, only to smash on contact with the stone, spreading useless venom everywhere.

Harry smirked in glee at the devastated look on the woman's face when she realised that the prized venom of the Twylusk could no longer be used. It served the bitch right.

A moment later, Harry was given the okay to enter the room. Like all the other times, the room had reverted back to its usual presentation when not in use. Nagini was in the corner farthest from the door, eyeing him warily.

He felt a pang of sadness at the thought of her either being too scared to come over, or too wary.

He should have done more to the fucking woman!

Looking around the room, Harry decided that he wanted something comfortable, and before his eyes, the room changed until an exact replica of his bedroom rested before him.

He took a seat on the bed and raised his wand, creating a large rock that was big enough to fit a fifteen foot snake, and then some. The hearth was not lit however, as he noticed that Nagini seemed to dislike heat. He also placed the rock in the far corner, in the shade, nearest her.

§This one doesn't seem as stupid,§ he heard her murmur, looking at the rock with interest.

She slithered on over, and hissed happily. §It is cold. This pleases me. So much better than before.§


Both Voldemort and Nagini were impressed by Harry's performance. Barely seconds in and the boy was astounding both of them by summoning a rock for Nagini to lay on. And it was cold as well.

He is good with animals, he told his darling familiar. Loves them.

He does not seem scared, master. Yet he has not tried anything else yet.

No, he hadn't. Why not?

Harry was simply staring at Nagini, as if waiting for her to make the first move. Unlike with the others who had come in, he hadn't tried to get her attention, he had simply sat on the bed, and stared her down with all the patience of a nun.

Voldemort was admittedly confused. Minutes ticked by, and yet neither serpent nor man had moved.

§This one is strange,§ Nagini concluded, slithering off the rock and making her way across the room.

Harry didn't even react when a serpent big enough to choke him to death, slithered onto his bed with him. He didn't blink when Nagini came face to face with him, he simply stared her down unflinchingly. It was peculiar.

§He has nice eyes,§ Nagini hissed. §Slytherin would approve I'm sure.§

Indeed. Harry did have the Slytherin colouring, oddly enough.

§Your eyes are quite lovely as well.§

Both master and serpent nodded in agreement, because Nagini did have lovely eyes.

Voldemort froze, realising that neither he nor Nagini had said that. Nagini seemed to have caught on as well because he could feel excitement coursing through her body, which in turn, filled his own body.

§You are a Speaker?!§ the serpent asked the boy, to which he replied with a nod.

Voldemort was left speechless as his familiar immediately curled up in Harry Potter's lap and began speaking swiftly in her excitement.


He couldn't help it. Twylusks were rare and he knew that he might never get another chance to meet one, so if exposing some of his talent was the way to go about it, then damn it all he would!

And now that this was out of the bag, he could finally speak to the Runespoor. At least some good came out of this whole situation.

Nagini had coiled around him, asking him all sorts of questions.

§When did you learn that you were a Speaker? I thought only members of the great Slytherin family could speak the noble tongue of the serpents? Why did you not tell my master about your skill?§

Harry had to wait because he hadn't known that a snake could speak so quickly. Especially if they sounded like they were speaking English with a prominent lisp. All of the esses were pronounced and several other sounds were made to sound like esses.

§I've been able to speak my whole life,§ he finally answered. §It's magic that is passed down through the lines. Some families have talents that are only in their lines. No one else in my family can speak to animals though, so I don't know where it came from. Probably one of those lines that married into the main line.§

It could have come form the Blacks or the Malfoys. The Potters always had male children, so it was always males and females from other families, marrying in. He didn't know where it came from but he was the first Potter in the past few centuries to be born with an extra ability.

Kind of like how his cousin Nymphadora was the first person of Black blood in the past few centuries, who had been born as a Metamorphmagus. Harry liked to think that it was their Halfblood heritage. Because wasn't is ironic that the powers seemed to 'die out' during the reign of Pureblood supremacy, and the moment someone marries without purity in mind, their child is the one that is born with an extra skill.

He'd done some studying up on the Voldemort's family. His mother had almost been a Squib, but she was just lucky enough to have Parseltongue and her potions ability to save her. Her brother and father were also magically weak and their best skill was Parseltongue only.

And yet Voldemort, who had publicly announced himself as a Halfblood ages ago, was considered one of the most powerful people alive, and the most powerful Dark Lord to ever exist.

The Gaunts had been staunchly Pureblood supremacists and had intermarried brothers and sisters. It was worse than the Black family's brand of incest. They lost their fortune, their magic, and their looks. And yet the moment Merope Gaunt marries and conceives with a Muggle, things change.

Voldemort had looks, magic, skill, talent, there was nothing of his Gaunt heritage noticeable in his features.

Another Halfblood who was powerful, was Severus Snape. Snape, as far as Harry knew, didn't have an extra ability, but who cared when one was so talented already? That man was a natural at Spell Creation, Potions, and Dark Arts. Almost as if his special skill was his high aptitude for all three.

Harry didn't know why all the Halfbloods he knew were much stronger than their Pureblooded family members, but he was certain that science could explain it. If only he'd gone to Muggle primary instead of Magus, he might have actually learned something.

Or not. Either way, the Halfbloods of the recent century had been stronger. It was a simple fact.

Voldemort, Snape, Nymphy, Dumbledore, Harry, and so many others.

§My master will be pleased,§ the serpent said, capturing his attention once again.

And then there was Voldemort. Yes, the man might be pleased, once he got over the fact that Harry could speak the same language as him, and therefore know everything he was saying.

Though it could be funny.


The overall reception of Harry Potter being able to speak Parseltongue had to lit Magical Britain a flame. When Harry stepped out of the Room of Requirement, he was assaulted by people with questions.

People from the Daily Prophet asking him how long he had been a Parselmouth, and fellow students who had decided to just come up to the seventh floor because they wanted to know was well. Hermione stood well away from the group of annoying people, with an obviously confused expression on her face.

Harry gave a light shrug and simply stated, "I'm an Orator."

Orators were magicals who could speak to and understand animals and creatures. It was the fancy term. It used to be Beast Speaker, but that fell out of favour ages ago, and Orator took its place.

He shouldered past all of them, in order to go and stand beside Hermione. She did not ask him why he never said anything about it. And Harry had a feeling that she took his words from the Fifth Task to heart.

He should not have to tell all of his secrets to everybody. And he should not have to try to justify himself to anyone. As the secrets were his own, and if he did not want to share them with others, he did not have to. Just like how he had wanted Hermione to share her experiences with him on her own, instead of him attacking her over it.

He caught Snape's eye. The man was wide eyed, though it wasn't noticeable. Beside him, Bellatrix was gaping. Yes, being an Orator was special, but really, it wasn't that big of a deal.

Moments later, Voldemort finally announced that Moriah Zabini, Karasawa Matsuri, and Harry Potter, would be the ones to move on to the final Task.

Hermione huffed and folded her arms. She then turned to Harry and asked, "Do you know what I did wrong? She didn't seem to like me much."

And so Harry explained how Nagini hated heat and seemed to prefer cold climates and large meals.


Voldemort stared at himself in the mirror. Snake like, unattractive, and now apparently, he could be understood by another human being.

He'd never once considered that Harry Potter could speak to animals. But if he thought about it, it would explain why the boy was so infatuated with animals and creatures. And why he always seemed to be surrounded by some life form that was not human.

Revelation in the tournament also brought conflicting feelings.

Especially with the fact that the boy understood the Serpent's Tongue very well, which meant that he had understood every word that the Runespoor had said to Voldemort that day many weeks ago. He'd never been embarrassed by a snake before, but that has been an unpleasant experience for him. And now he knew that Harry Potter had heard and understood every word had came from the creature's mouth, he was horrified!

But he was a Dark Lord. He should not be embarrassed over something like this. But for some reason, he really was.

Nagini adored him. She easily decided that he would move on to the finals. Though it happened in a way Voldemort hadn't expected it to.

And now came the Seventh Task, which he found himself dreading. It had been a smart idea in the beginning, but now he wasn't so sure.


A/N: Another is done!

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Chapter Text

A/N: Hello, people!

I don't own Harry Potter.

I have no beta.

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"Harry!"

Harry had to stop and consider. Was someone shouting his name or was he just imagining it? He had imagined many things in his life, so it wouldn't surprise him.

"HARRY!"

No, it wasn't him. He turned around, finding Rigel Lestrange running toward him, looking frantic and not at all well put together like he usually was. The boy was practically on the verge of tears.

"Harry, the Dark Lord's snake is in the Great Hall and she… well, I don't know. But she doesn't look happy and no one can find out what she wants but you! She keeps hissing at people and spinning in circles!"

What the hell? "Does anyone know how Nagini got to the school?" he asked, deciding to follow the younger teen instead of making his way toward the stables. The Runespoor could wait a moment or two.

"No. She was in there when I came in for breakfast, and there were only a few people who had gotten there before me. She had sat in the middle of the main aisle for several moments, but then began to slither up and down the sides of the room, until the hissing began. She doesn't seem happy."

"She can't be lost. She's been here dozens of times," Harry murmured. Voldemort tended to bring her along whenever he wanted to give her some good exercise in a relatively safe environment. She should know her way around by now. It couldn't be fear of unknown territory, because this was her master's territory and anything belonging to her master would in extension belong to her as well.

The Great Hall was a mess. The only person who looked unaffected by the pandemonium was Snape, who was seated at the Head Table, sipping his tea like he did every morning. McGonagall was watching the students with worried eyes, and Slughorn had his head in his hands. The other professors seemed ready to jump in at a moment's notice, and a majority of the students had huddled against different walls.

Harry slipped in through a group of first years, who had retreated toward the door to keep themselves as far away from the great snake as possible. Their terrified eyes lightened considerably when they say him.

Nagini was coiled around herself and indeed, she was displeased. She hissed insults at anyone who came within ten feet of her, causing the Slytherin and Ravenclaw tables to be shoved apart so neither were near her space.

§Nagini!§ he called out, capturing the serpent's attention for himself.

Narrowed golden eyes turned to face him, and widened upon seeing him. She burst into action, slithering on over almost too fast for him to keep track of. No wonder her kind were considered some of the most dangerous XXXX predators around.

§Harry! Harry! My foolish Master has gone to inspire fear in the hearts of other two-leggers, so when his white follower came to the manor in search of him, I slipped into his robes and came along when he left. He came here. I decided to find you, but you were not here.§

Harry laughed a bit. Voldemort had left her behind so she decided that she would take matters into her own scales and find entertainment elsewhere. Whoever she had come with, must not have known that she had hitched a ride.

§Do you do this often?§

§Yes. The white one screams beautifully.§

Harry snorted. Whoever the 'white one' was, he felt bad for them.

With Nagini wrapped around his shoulders, Harry turned for the door. He didn't even bother to offer and explanation to the students and simply went back to what he was planning to do that morning. Bathe a Runespoor.

§Where are we going, Harry?§

§Hogwarts has a Runespoor. Every few days, I come by the stables to feed and bathe them. Sometimes I like to take them with me as I go to the other creatures or animals. They don't get to roam free like you do.§

§Why?§ asked Nagini, sounding concerned and unhappy.

§Because your master doesn't trust them. They are a XXXX creature and are considered to be very dangerous.§

Nagini gave the serpent equivalent of a snort. §I too am within the XXXX classification of your Ministry and he lets me wander around just fine. In the warm months, when the children are not here, he lets the Serpent King out of his home below the lake.§

The Dark Lord let the Basilisk just roam free when nobody was around? And if he was so okay with Nagini being able to meander about, why was he so against the Runespoor? That wasn't fair!

§Well maybe you can help convince him that they are perfectly fine. Though to be honest, they caught him after a private moment with himself, and he didn't know that I could understand what they were saying about his bodily fluids, so maybe it's just embarrassment.§

§I tease him about indulging in himself all the time! He's just being sensitive.§

Harry couldn't help but snort once again.


Harry never thought that he would be taken to task by a serpent. However, when the Runespoor noticed that he was talking to Nagini, all hell broke loose.

He was given a very harsh reprimand and told that it was rude of him not to tell them that he could understand and speak with them. That he gravely insulted them by keeping such an important thing to himself. And Nagini joined in, expressing her disappointment because the life of a snake was boring and being able to speak with anyone ever, was great.

If Harry wanted regain their favour, he would have to fetch them their desired meals, while they came along. Because obviously they would not agree to be left behind any longer.

Also, he was pretty certain that Nagini had adopted the Runespoor, if her occasional nuzzling to either head was any indication. And if she indeed had adopted the creature, he couldn't wait to see Voldemort's reaction to that! He couldn't deny the being if his own familiar took a shining to them!

So Harry found himself walking around with Nagini wrapped around his torso and shoulders, and the Runespoor tightly clinging to his left arm.

The students sent horrified glances his way, while still managing to look interested and amazed.

The first order of business was to fetch a large green apple from the kitchens. Luna liked green apples. He never questioned why a snake wanted to eat fruit, he simply just got her the food she desired most. It was why he named that head Luna, because his friend Luna loved green apples also.

§I shall have words with my master whenever he remembers that I exist," Nagini hissed lowly.

Harry wondered what Voldemort did to offend his own snake.


Harry smirked when Voldemort appeared out of nowhere to take back his familiar. The man had refused to make eye contact with Harry the entire time!

And what was better, was how Nagini began reprimanding him for 'unnecessary discriminatiin against serpents'.

It was definitely a good day now.


N.E.W.T.s were everywhere! Within in a week's time, the examiners would be all over the school.

The exams were in a particular order thankfully, and Harry's personal classes would come a week later.

Transfiguration, Potions, Astronomy, Herbology, Charms, and Divination, for the first week. Study of Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, History of Magic, Care of Magical Creatures, Muggle Studies, and Defence were up for the second week.

Now, while the N.E.W.T. students were studying for the final exams of all final exams, the O.W.L. students were also studying for their examinations.

This was not the time of year for games and playing around. This was one of the most important times in their academic careers.

Most families would be incredibly embarrassed if their children did not attain the proper grades for their O.W.L. and N.E.W.T. exams, meaning that passing with at least an Acceptable in everything was the most important mission of anyone's life if they weren't planning ahead for their futures yet.

Harry wasn't overly worried, it was just that he had particular standards that he had set for himself and he did not like it when he didn't meet them. Of course it was rare that he would not get an Outstanding grade in anything, but even those who were the best in their particular fields managed to mess up from time to time. Being that it was entirely possible for him to make a mistake on these very important exams. And yes he could actually go to the Ministry and take them later on if he felt that they weren't good enough, but that also cost money.

To take the exam at school it was actually given free of charge because over one hundred other students were being examined at once. It was free. However the Ministry was not required to give you the exam for a second time, meaning that you would have to pay a lot of money in order to get the particular examiner's free time to give you the exam.

Harry didn't like to spend money when he didn't have to. So passing all of his classes with Outstanding grades was the most important thing at present. He could only hope that Voldemort held off on whenever the Final Task was. Harry had enough on his plate at the moment.

He had to be thankful. Harry's careful planning at the beginning of the school year had allowed him to find the time needed to keep up with all of the studying, all of his friends, the stupid tournament, and all of the extra duties he had imposed upon himself from earlier years. Honestly, he was becoming a master at multi-tasking.

Hermione was scatterbrained and losing her sanity.

Ever since she had used an Unforgivable Curse for the first time, she had changed. Even after getting Bellatrix as a teacher and becoming the woman's apprentice, she still remained different. Where once there was a girl who surrounded herself with books and only books and occasionally a friend or two, now there was a young woman who had certainly been affected by the Dark Magic she had used and was drowning in Dark Arts this and Dark Arts that.

Hermione's addiction wasn't gone. She simply had managed to temper it under Bellatrix's stern teaching. Harry did not want to in any way know what kind of things Bellatrix had put her through in order to help her out of her addictive state. He knew he wouldn't like any of it, which was why he did not want to know.

Harry was all for the use of Dark Magic so long as it was done in manageable quantities, and under the instruction of a Dark Arts practitioner who had a mastery.

However, Bellatrix was rubbing off on Hermione in more ways than one. Hermione cackled the other day! She opened her mouth and laughed loudly. Her wild curls flying everywhere as her head snapped back and that loud noise erupted from her throat.

She had actually looked like Bellatrix did. Just for that split second. Honestly, he wondered if she was becoming a mini-Bellatrix, or maybe Bellatrix II.

Either way, because she had gotten so caught up in the tournament and Bellatrix's teachings, she had put off a lot of studying. Despite the fact that she had an eidetic memory to aid her in studying, she was still going through obsessive moods of studying. Crying one minute and screaming herself hoarse the next.

He didn't know what to do.

The first time that had happened, back when they were eleven and studying for their end of the year exams, he'd made the mistake of saying something along the lines of it being her time-of-the-month. It in fact, wasn't. And Hermione dedicated a generous amount of time in correcting his very foolish assumption, leaving him dangling upside down above the Great Hall for several hours in the process.

Any time after that, he simply chalked it up to nerves and performance anxiety. He also never learned how to help her, so he started avoiding her in order to avoid the guilty feeling he got when he couldn't help her.

Harry found that sitting with Luna and Rigel was calming. Luna was very knowledgeable in Ancient Runes and Arithmancy. She had ignored Divination because the professor for the class was a fraud who 'couldn't even read tea leaves correctly'. Luna appreciated the other two classes more.

So she tested Harry on his Ancient Runes knowledge while Rigel tested him on his Care of Magical Creatures knowledge and his Healing knowledge.

Harry was scheduled to take the exam for his Healing Mastery on the first of June, leaving him more time to study for that. Though he wasn't as worried because he'd been working extra hard that year, learning various methods for Healing the same ailment.

"You'll do fine," Luna told him positively.

"Really?"

She nodded.

Rigel cast them a confused look. He didn't know that Luna was a Seer.

"Don't worry, Rigel," said Luna with a smile, "the twins will be coming to visit your this weekend at Hogsmeade."

The boy flushed and looked back to the book he was reading. Luna snickered and Harry shook his head.

So that was why Bellatrix had decided to do business with Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes.


"I can't help it!"

"Yes you can, you just don't want to."

Draco Malfoy glared at his littlest cousin. Rigel was seated on his bed, swamped beneath the black and green silken sheets.

Draco may or may not have kidnapped him from the Great Hall that morning and brought him into the Slytherin Dorms in order to talk.

Rigel was close to Potter, who was close to Granger, and this was where it stemmed from.

"I hang out with Harry, Dray. He's awesome and he teaches me new things almost every time we're around each other. Granger has been awol this year, and I wasn't very comfortable around her in the former years. I don't know much about her."

The blond threw himself on Blaise's bed. This wasn't fair!

"Just admit that you like her and then go ask her out."

"I don't know where she is," the Slytherin huffed. "And what if she doesn't like me? We don't talk or anything. In fact, the last time I even spoke to her was in fifth year and that was because of Potter. She has no reason to want to talk to me of all people!"

Rigel snorted. "This is a day unlike any other. Draco Malfoy is scared to ask a girl out to Hogsmeade."

"Shut up!" the blond hissed, throwing Blaise's pillow at his cousin's head. Rigel simply tilted his head to the side and it sailed past, hitting the wall instead.

"The worst she can say is 'no', Dray."

"She could easily say other things while saying 'no'!"

"True. So why don't you ask Harry? He knows her best."

"But he's Potter!" the blond whinged. "And I'll owe him another favour!"

"Yeah, and he's really nice. I think he's worried about her, and maybe you'd be good for her. You know Dark Magic really well, and you also have been trained by my mum, so in those terms, you could be the help she needs."

That was true. She was doing pretty well, but could use some more guidance.

But then again, what if she didn't want anyone's help?

He buried his face in the bedding.

"Dray, you know your parents won't exactly be happy by whom you have your sights set on. Many Halfbloods have married into your family, but never a Muggleborn since the very beginning of your line. They might not even agree with your decision."

"Who cares?"

It wasn't his parents who wanted to date Granger, it was him.

"There you go! You don't care about her Blood Status, so if she asks about it, you can truthfully say that you don't care. And perhaps throw in a good reason for why you like her. She's smart, she'll know if you're lying or not."

That didn't make asking any easier!


Harry was laying on his bed, staring up at the top of the fourposter. He'd just finished his very last exam. His heart was pounding and adrenaline was pumping through his veins.

It was over. It was finished. Everything was done! Well, almost everything. He still had his Healing Exams to take, but he had a few days left to put in extra study time for that.

So now he was just relaxing on his bed, waiting for dinner to come so he could go and eat with his friends, who were all ready to just end school.

School was ending.

It was a shocking revelation. For the past fourteen years, he had been stuck in the educational system of Magical Britain. Fourteen years of taking orders and having to raise his hand for permission to do anything. And suddenly he was going to be thrust into a life and world that did not require him to raise his hand in order to use the bathroom, or determine his usefulness on how well he circled the correct answer.

Harry was going to be moving into his own flat. He'd been out to London for more than just the cinema during the Easter hols. He'd also had to see about places within Diagon Alley, so he would be close to his shop.

He'd shopped for buildings, and had two chosen specifically for their interior and how spacious their basements were. Both had rooms that he could turn into bedrooms if he so chose. And technically, he could do as the twins were doing and just live above his own shop.

It all depended on how he felt.

He might change his mind later on.

Heaving himself off the bed, Harry sighed, knowing that he would have to go and pry Hermione from the Library. Because after every exam, she would lock herself inside and obsessively go through books that contained answers to the questions she was sure she had gotten wrong.

But they had to be adults now, so no more crying over spilled milk. Besides, she'd get the highest score like she had every year since joining the magical education system.


He'd done it! Harry James Potter had managed to successfully pass the Examinations for a Healing Mastery!

The A.C.E.S.O.s were probably one of the more challenging Mastery Examinations there were. Named after the Greek goddess Aceso. They weren't written exams, but instead verbal and practical. They was based on timing and knowledge first and foremost.

Acumen, Concentration, and Eradication for Sicknesses Oral.

When faced with real life struggles and patients, Healers would not be able to pause what they were doing to think of an answer. They had to have immediate knowledge at the forefront of their minds. Which was why seven different methods for healing any ailment, was required knowledge in such a Mastery.

Because sometimes the most obvious method - meaning potions - would not be available. The life of the patient was on the line and as Healers and Medi-Magicals, it was their sworn duty to do whatever they could, until the brain ceased functioning.

Harry hadn't been so proud of himself in a long time!

He had a write a letter to tell his parents and godparents!

One half of his dream had been realised. Now all he had to do was wait for his N.E.W.T. results in CoMC, in order to take the Magizoologist Mastery Examinations in July.

Slowly but surely, things were coming along.


τWill you still come to visit us even though you won't be here all the time?τ Nox asked as she rubbed her head against Harry's cheek.

τOf course I will,τ Harry promised. τEspecially since I will be one of the few people Hagrid can come to if something happens to any of the animals or creatures here.τ

Nox nodded and flexed her wing a bit more so that Harry could reach the particular muscle that needed to be massaged carefully.

At once, there was a myriad of screeching and a multitude of stomping hooves. A cold feeling filled Harry from the crown of his head to the tips of his toes. And it was like it spread everywhere.

The Thestrals, which had been grazing nearby to keep an eye on he and Nox, kicked their hooves out and started galloping away, toward the opening of the forest. Luxra nudged Nox along without even an explanation, taking her child away with the other Thestrals.

Harry looked around in worry, unsure of why all the Thestrals had suddenly taken wing, fleeing as if the hounds of hell were at their heels. They'd never done that before.

A crack in the distance alerted him to the fact that he was not alone. The teen spun in place until his eyes landed on a figure practically morphing out of the darkness. Tall and slender, with skin so pale he could see the individual purple veins and what looked to be a myriad of silvery scales. Eyes red and slitted. There was no nose, simply slits where a nose should reside, and from what he could see under their cowl, not hair either. Abnormally long fingers clutched a strangely shaped wand, though not in a threatening way, Harry noted.

Ethereal, serpentine, and dangerous, that was what he could tell just from looking at the other being. And Harry's face flushed when he realised that he was paying very close attention to this being's body. Too much attention.

"Wow," he murmured, unable to stop himself. He'd never seen such a being before and he was trying to categorise just where the being fell. Perhaps a Lamia/Hydra mix?

As the being drew nearer, Harry felt shorter with each long stride. Harry was a little above average height for men, and had never really considered himself short before. Now he felt inadequate while standing in front of this being, who towered over him by not only head, neck, and shoulders, but even a good portion of the arm.

As if everything was elongated. Legs, torso, fingers, he even had a neck that was much longer than a human's would be. Swan-like in a sense.

"Hello."

Harry started, not expecting the voice to be so high pitched. Also, it sent shivers up and down his spine. There was just a slight breathiness to it, and it made Harry flush again.

"Uh… wow," was all Harry could only manage once more. He honestly could not form a complete sentence aloud. This had never happened to him before.

"Are you well?" the being asked again, forcing those shivers to return.

Something about this being made Harry's thought-dead sexual interest, spike, which was a first. And of course there was the magic.

Now that the being was practically on top of him, he could feel the roiling magic beneath their skin. Dark and powerful. Swirling in a controlled mass and trickling out to caress Harry's own magic.

That must have been what scared the Thestrals. Despite them being considered Dark Creatures, too much Dark Magic actually made them uncomfortable. This being's magic, no matter how well controlled, had literally chased them away.

"I'm fine," the teen murmured. "Can I help you?" he asked, hoping to be polite.

A thin, almost lipless mouth spread into a smirk. Crimson eyes that were slitted and dangerous, flashed. "Unless you know how to reverse Magical Transmutation, I don't think so."

'Magical Transmutation' was something that happened when a person, no matter their magical affinity, delved too deeply into the Dark Arts on their own. Their entire body would warp on itself as punishment for doing things far too quickly.

"Wait, are you just a wizard, then?"

The being nodded. "I was overzealous in my youth and I did not have the benefit of a tutor. This happened."

In Harry's personal opinion, this being was incredibly lucky. They came out of still relatively humanoid. Though perhaps to others they weren't considered attractive, not that Harry was 'others'. Harry thought the being looked fine as they were.

"I'm Harry," said the brunet, holding out a hand.

Slowly, the being accepted his greeting, closing almost spidery fingers around Harry's much smaller hand. Their skin was cold to the touch, and the veins shown brightly beneath the small scales.

"I'm Tom."

Honestly, Harry expected some grandiose name, but a name such as Tom was very simple. It also made him further believe that this was just a wizard who had gotten in too deep.

"You don't like your form, do you?"

Tom's mouth turned downward. "I'm hideous. I used to be attractive, but I suppose this was my punishment for wishing to be all powerful immediately, and not taking my time."

"How old are you?" Harry asked, not wanting to believe that he was faced with someone too much older than he was.

"Seventy-three."

Damn. "You've been like this for a long time?" asked Harry, trying to calculate the amount of power that would have to go into the reversal process. The longer one remained in their transmutative state, the harder and longer it would be to reverse the process.

"Fifty-one years."

Oh damn!

"Yes. There is no way to reverse it. I have already tried."

Harry personally saw nothing wrong with the man's transmutation, though as he was on the other end, he really didn't know what it was like to go through such a problem.

"Do I not disgust you?"

"Why would you disgust me?"

Tom gestured to his entire body. "I look like a monster out of a Muggle film."

"So?"

Tom looked bewildered. "I am this way because I did horrible Dark Magic, wouldn't that disgust you?"

Harry shrugged. "Do you feel sorry for the things you did that made you like this?"

"No."

It was bluntly put, and Harry had to crack a smile. At least the man was honest. He could appreciate that.

"Well I don't know about other people, but personally, I don't live my life by the expectations of others. I don't cater to people's whims and I do not care what people think about me. You should not care what others think about you and you should not live your life trying to gain anyone's acceptance. It's not my job to judge you for your doings, whether they are actually wrong or not.

"I don't think you should be coming to be or anyone else, looking for whatever kind of validation you think you need. You should be looking to yourself. And eventually, someone will come along that doesn't mind that you look this way. I sure as hell don't. Because it's not a person's looks that mean something."

Harry stepped forward and placed a hand on what he thought was Tom's chest area.

"The body is a shell. That is all. While some are nice to look at, not all are as nice inside. Not everyone measure's someone's capacity by their appearance. And you shouldn't let the opinions of others, let alone yourself, stop you from doing what you want."

Tom was gaping, and from how close they were stood together, Harry could see the very obvious slit in his tongue. He had a forked tongue. Harry wondered exactly how long it was and if it worked to scent the air like with real snakes.

Also, he found the idea of that particular appendage being prehensile and long, to be hot.

Merlin, what was happening to him today?

"Are you always this optimistic?" Tom ended up asking, which gave Harry pause.

"No," he admitted. "I'm actually rarely ever positive. It must be you. Your unnecessary self-deprecation must have inspired some kind of emotion within me."

Yes. The emotion of utter annoyance at hearing someone tear themselves down when it was really not as bad as they thought it was.

Tom stared off into the darkness of the surrounding forest. Red eyes glinted with some unknown emotion.

The serpentine, gaunt face twitched a little.

"Thank you, Harry," said Tom suddenly, turning to look upon the Gryffindor. "It's been a long time since I've heard anything positive about… this."

Harry's eyes followed the hand that made another gesture to the long and inhuman body. The teen flushed for the umpteenth time that evening and decided to just not look at Tom any longer.

Unfortunately, the other wizard had decided that such a thing was not possible.

Harry's space was invaded and Tom's form practically curled over him in a sense, long neck bending down to bring them face to face, forcing Harry to meet his gaze head on.

"Uh…" the teen mumbled, unsure of what to do. "Wow," he said lamely, unable to find anything else to say. He was just too mesmerised by the man's form. Too awestruck.

Tom smirked. "Shall I see you back to the castle? Or are you well enough on your own?"

"I'm fine," Harry insisted. "Everything will be fine, but thanks."

Tom took up Harry's hand and very carefully, placed a cold kiss on the back.

Harry gave up trying to count how many times he'd lost his cool around Tom, and simply nodded to the man, stepping back in order to give himself the much needed space.

"Goodbye Tom," he murmured, turning away.

"Goodbye Harry," he swore he heard the other man whisper, but when he turned back, there was nothing.

Nothing but cold forest.

How peculiar.


"Moriah, Moriah, I had hoped that you would one day realise that this would be coming to you."

Voldemort sauntered before the woman, enjoying her fear and disgust. Nagini was doing her part, twisting around the woman's body and leaving her unable to move.

"I've done nothing wrong, you monster," the woman insisted, trying to act defiant though it wasn't working.

Voldemort merely smirked at her audacity, not affected by her words. He was far too elated to care about what she thought of his appearance.

"It's that mouth of yours," the Dark Lord whispered dangerously. "That mouth always running and tongue always wagging. And how do you think I found out about your… transgressions?"

With the Elder Wand in hand, Voldemort knocked the woman unconscious with the flick of the wrist.


A/N: Another is done!

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Chapter Text

A/N: Hello, people!

I don't own Harry Potter.

I have no beta.

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The person that decided that having the giant squid pull a large boat full of Hogwarts graduates across the Black Lake, needed to be smacked. As usual in these sort of adventures, something went wrong.

What was supposed to be a celebratory last time across the lake, turned out to be completely ridiculous. Things went to hell when Neville Longbottom and Dean Thomas fell off the boat. And then the giant squid itself had actually lifted both of them out of the water and decided to just hold onto them until they reached the other side of the lake. Then some people had decided they wanted to set off some fireworks that they had procured from Fred and George's owl ordering business. It did not in fact go very well.

Seamus Finnigan ended up exploding one of his fireworks in his own face, which lost him his eyebrows a good portion of his hair, and burnt off half of his left cheek. Thankfully, Harry had already attained a Healing Mastery and was able to fix him right then and there.

However, he had not wanted this life experience so quickly after graduating. That was not what he had signed up for.

On another note, someone decided to mention how they'd all basically be seeing one another all the time at some point come September, and the good mood kind of receded after that. Harry wasn't looking forward to seeing all of them every day or at least multiple times a week.

Going to Hogwarts was great and all, and it was nice to use magic, but not everybody liked each other. And they all knew that the magical society of Great Britain was not very large. Meaning that they would all still be in pretty close quarters even though they had just graduated and would be going off to pursue their own careers.

Harry was especially unhappy, knowing that he would most likely be having to deal with most of these people again in the future. And most of them annoyed him to no end!

It wasn't that he hated any of them, it was just that he just really didn't like people. He didn't like to be around them, and he didn't like to cater to them, and he really didn't like associating with them if he didn't have to. The bare minimum was necessary for his job. Mostly he would just be handling animals and some creatures.

He almost considered holding off the opening of his business, just so he would not have to deal with people. But then again, he had to think about all the animals and creatures he could be helping. He couldn't be so selfish.

Sometimes he had to do what was best for others, not just himself. At least he would do so for his friends and family, or animals. Not other people. If he could help it at least.

Neville intended to go for the Mastery exams in Herbology so that he could eventually become a Potions Master. Potions Masters had to fulfill many Masteries, not just mainly Potions. Neville's desired career had shocked many as well.

Hermione was going into the Ministry, and had already procured a job for herself in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. She actually had her sights on a high-paying, Head position in the Ministry. Even going so far as to imagine herself as the Minister some day in the near future.

Harry knew that such ambition would take years, but who was he to deny her dreams?

The one downside to graduating, was not being able to see Luna or Rigel every day. He would simply have to resort to sending them letters come September. Harry never really realized how much he didn't like writing letters, until the idea that he was going to have to be writing a lot of letters in the future, came to mind.

Being an adult came with duties and responsibilities that sucked.

It just really blowed.


"Lily, everything's going to be fine. He's going to pass the exams, and he's going to come home with his scroll. You don't need to pace with so much frustration."

Of course James' words had no impact. She was still pacing and still mumbling to herself. And he could understand. As parents, they wanted their son to succeed. More than anything they wanted him to realise his dreams, but they could do it in a much more calm attitude.

Sirius and Remus has already resorted to chess in hopes of keeping themselves occupied. They both had taken off, much like James and Lily had, in order to be home to support Harry when he finally got his results.

James had been listening to the radio, just relaxing on the sofa. He wasn't worried. His son was brilliant and had a bright future ahead of him. And even if he somehow failed today, he would just be back at it against the next time. So really, there was no reason for him to panic alongside his wife.

The door opened then, causing all of them to look over. Harry walked in, hair disheveled, and singed on the left side. Lily was beside him in an instant, checking him over and asking questions about if he was well and if he needed any potions or a Healer.

Harry took her fretting with a calm demeanour, and smiled when she offered to regrow his hair.

"Mum, I think I'm going for a new hairstyle. I think it looks pretty good when short."

Lily's lips pursed along with James'. Harry had been dealing with shoulder length hair and a fringe swept to the right, for nearly four years. A new hairstyle was sudden. A change none of them expected.

"How were the exams?" she asked, drawing attention away from her son's half-ruined locks and to the reason they had all congregated.

"Interesting," Harry said, a small tilt to his lips. "They put us right in the middle of the action, after having us take a theoretical exam of course. I got extra points on the practical for being an Orator. I connect better with the animals and creatures that way."

Harry reached into his robes and withdrew a red scroll that they all had been waiting for. Red meant that he had passed. Red meant a Mastery.

Lily whooped loudly and drew Harry into a hug.

Not often did they breach his personal space, but occasions like this were permitted. Harry was not a child who longed for physical contact often, which had both annoyed and frustrated them all, but they had learned to deal with it. Because they didn't' want to push him away.

Harry accepted the squeezing of his mother, and allowed James, Remus, and Sirius to join in. Crowding around him in a group hug.

"We're going to have to frame this," Lily stated, taking the red scroll. "Right alongside your Healing scroll! My baby is a Vet!"

The teen rolled his eyes, hand trailing through burned hair. He winced. "I'm going to need that hair cut soon. This smells terrible."

"I'll take you!" Lily volunteered before either Sirius or James could.

Both men pouted and she stuck her tongue out.

"For all I know, he'll come back drunk, with a woman tattooed across his shoulder and his tongue pierced, if he went with either of you."

Harry winced once more and shook his head. "No liquor, please. And I'm not ready for that kind of commitment yet, sorry."

Not fair! Sirius' piercing had been wicked!


When Voldemort saw Harry Potter next, he hadn't expected the sudden shift in the young man's appearance. But there he was, hair sheared down at the sides, with the hair at the crown of his head remaining a few inches longer, artfully tousled to the side. One lock of hair dangled over his brow, slightly wavy. Almost like a bolt of lightning.

It looked good. He'd seen such a style on many young men these days, but never had he actually thought it looked good on someone. It really fit Harry's jawline actually.

It was the first of July, and he had set an announcement five days previous that the conclusion to the Tournament would be on the first, and the victor would be announced at the Ministry of Magic.

The event was open to the public, and a lot of people were expected to attend. The remaining three contestants most of all. Though only two would be coming, and one would not make it home after the proceedings.

Voldemort hadn't felt this accomplished in years. The one he'd been most interested in, was the winner. Frankly, this had to show just how intelligent he was as a Dark Lord, managing to choose the best from the very beginning. His pride had been properly stroked.

He gazed out at the gathered crowd of people who were eagerly awaiting his revelations about the tournament.

Honestly, life couldn't be going any better for him at the moment.

He would be marrying an attractive and talented young man who would not bring shame to the Slytherin Line. He would have intellectual conversations with him, and they'd actually have interesting duels.

Honestly, life was good.


Harry smiled calmly, though inside he was unable to cease the rapid questions going through his brain. Where had Zabini gone? Why wasn't she there? The woman certainly thought highly enough of herself and wouldn't miss this for anything. So what had happened?

"Unfortunately, it seems as if Madam Zabini had gone missing and she was last seen arranging a Portkey to Italy. Nothing of her whereabouts have been brought forth, and a 'missing' status has been placed on her name. Anyone who has any information will present themselves to the Auror Office immediately."

Well that solved his confusion, though it didn't not make everything fine.

The woman just up and went missing? It sounded suspicious to Harry. Especially since Nagini didn't like her and had bad mouthed her to Harry during his last week at school.

He had a feeling that Voldemort was involved in her sudden 'missing' status. But what did she do to earn his ire? It couldn't have been anything she did to Nagini. Nagini hated her for her reputation and nothing more. Maybe it was the reputation that made him target her.

Harry already knew who had won. Between he and Matsuri, who had practically violated the man's familiar, it wasn't a tough decision. For a moment, he was in awe of how such a grueling tournament that ended with the two of them.

Matsuri wasn't exactly the best opponent Harry had ever had. She had nothing on Hermione or even Zabini. Some people had been blessed with the luck of the draw obviously.

Voldemort adjusted the vintage microphone to be closer to his mouth. As if he even needed the thing. There was a perfectly wonderful spell he could use. But maybe he was just saving their eardrums because they were in an enclosed space in the Ministry.

"Many of you may be curious as to what the Seventh Task was, as we never announced it. The fact is, the Seventh Task was a secret and was administered without any of the competitors being aware of it."

Harry couldn't help but share a look of confusion with Matsuri. What the bloody hell was he on about?

"Some time in the month of June, the final three competitors were confronted by me personally, under a special disguise. None of them knew it was me, and I judged their actions and characters once faced with my particular form."

Harry felt a cold trickle trail down his back, just as Matsuri stiffened suddenly.

"The individual reactions were interesting to say the least, though only one person stood out from the three. In fact, this person's character was admirable and much more desireable than the other two.

"As Consort Slytherin, it wouldn't do to be hardheaded, nor selfish. Being a good example for others as well as the eventual children they will have, is most important. My decision was quite easy to make actually. Therefore, I am pleased to inform you all of the victor of the Consort Tournament."

The audience leaned closer, their interest properly caught.

But Harry didn't care about that. Voldemort had admitted to using a 'disguise'. Meaning that whatever sob story he'd thought up when he'd pretended to be someone he wasn't, and talked to Harry in the Dark Forest, was all fake.

And Harry was suddenly so very angry.

What was the point in the serpentine figure then? Why did he have to turn into a snake/human hybrid in order to speak with Harry? Why couldn't he have just turned into an old man who needed help carrying his groceries?

Harry felt as if he'd been mocked. As if the man and his ridiculous dislike of dangerous creatures, was mocking him for adoring animals and creatures more than people.

And deep inside, an ugly feeling festered. He didn't like it. It made him feel ill. As if he might throw up every meal he'd ever consumed.

Suddenly, his desire to deny the Dark Lord reared up, proving that it was alive and that it wanted to happen! That this would be more than just a revenge. So much more!

From his seat, Harry had a perfect view of the stage and the Dark Lord's profile. The Dark Twat had a smirk on his face, so proud of himself. So happy with the result of his ridiculous Tournament. He might as well have cheated for Harry to push him ahead.

For the first time in his life, Harry wanted to utterly crush someone's feelings. Usually he just wanted to avoid and ignore people, but this once, he wanted Voldemort's hopes and feelings to be so utterly dashed that there was no way to recover.

Whatever emotions the man had decided to invest in his 'relationship' with Harry would be irrevocably destroyed. Or as ruined as Harry could make it.

This was the consequence of angering someone. You never knew what they would do to you in return.

"Harry Potter!" Voldemort announced, waving a slender arm in Harry's direction.

As expected, the room burst into applause. Harry could see his parents share a look of worry with Remus and Sirius. Snape was stood directly next to Lily, and the man's arms were so tightly clenched together, he could have been a statue.

And it was then that Harry was certain that the other man knew about Harry's plan. Which meant his mum must have said something.

Damn.

Though with how ill the man appeared to be, it didn't seem as if he'd told Voldemort.

Harry stood, affecting a pleasant demeanour of vague amusement. Voldemort couldn't suspect for even a moment that something was off. Harry's Slytherin was showing.

The teen nodded to the man in passing, and stood at the podium, sort of sure of what he wanted to say. He just had to phrase it all carefully.

"I'm pleasantly surprised," Harry lied easily. He really wasn't.

"To think that I would be good enough to compete against several hundred others who were just as skilled, and talented, still amazes me. I thank my fellow competitors for offering such an interesting learning experience in this tournament. In fact, I think you all deserve a round of applause yourselves."

The audience complied easily, and the clapping grew almost thunderous. Harry waited calmly, waiting to built the tensions higher and higher.

He had a minute flair for the dramatic. Small. Almost unnoticeable.

"I'd like to thank my friends and family for supporting me throughout this venture. And most of all, to Lord Voldemort, I'd like to thank him for the pleasure of his hand in marriage. It is truly an honour."

He could tell that Voldemort thought nothing of his words. Other than reveling in his own genius perhaps.

He could see Snape stiffening even further if it was possible. Merlin, the man needed to just relax.

"I'm afraid I'll have to decline."

And just like that, it was dead silent in the room, and Harry could see wide eyed, gaping faces in every direction. Most of all, when he peeked to the side, Voldemort was also staring at him, though more in horrified confusion than shock at his audacity.

"Yes," Harry confirmed with a nod. "I will not be taking our Lord's offer. I don't feel that I'm ready for any kind of relationship right now, or any time soon."

Casting a burning look the man's way, Harry said, "I'm looking for something very specific though. I want a genuine, heartfelt relationship, with a marriage that is meaningful to me. I don't think our Lord is capable of giving me that." With a laugh more fake than Remus' shoes, he added, "I suppose that if I had been a willing participant in this tournament, my answer would be different."

And just then, realisation entered the man's crimson gaze, which snapped up to meet Harry's Avada eyes.

Leaning especially close to the microphone, Harry finished with, "Perhaps you shouldn't have entered me without my permission, my Lord."

With a smile that could fell angels, Harry cheekily nodded in the man's direction and swept off the opposite side of the stage. And the crowd parted for him as he sauntered away.

He'd just made bloody history.

And it was glorious!

Harry came out the victor in more ways than one today.

And it was delightful!


Severus couldn't believe that the brat had actually gone through with his ridiculous plan. And what was even more shocking, was that neither Potter not Black were laughing at the Dark Lord's misfortune. Severus had expected them to loudly point out how embarrassing the situation was. It seemed that both were a lot smarter than he'd previously assumed.

Cameras were flashing and Lucius was on stage, trying to direct the sudden influx of questions from the reporters. Trying to make it sound as if their Lord had not fixed the entire competition. Lying and saying that the man had entered the names of several people whom he'd considered to be interesting enough to compete.

The Dark Lord was standing off to the side, and was just staring off into space. As if he could not understand what had just occurred.

Severus could see Rita Skeeter, her acid green robes standing out amidst the group of journalists. Her quill and notepad levitated above her blonde head and was writing a mile a minute. He could only imagine the various stories she had come up with thanks to Potter's actions.

If she was alive tomorrow morning, Severus would be shocked.

Suddenly, the Dark Lord disappeared in a plume of black smoke that flew out the open door.

This was bad.

Severus sighed, realising that he was going to be going through hell later on.

Lily grabbed his hand and started pulling him along. "Come on, we're going to see if Harry went home. He's going to need much more than solitude after this. I could see it the moment I saw the look on his face when he left."

Reluctant and absolutely annoyed, Severus followed, ignoring Potter and Black's pouting.


Lily knocked on her son's bedroom door. As she'd expected, Harry had locked himself in his room, though she didn't fully understand why. He'd finally gotten what he wanted. He'd done as he had planned and had enacted a rather brilliant revenge plan on the Dark Lord of all people.

So why was he hurting?

The door clicked, and she was able to push it open.

The redhead slipped inside quietly, not wanting to impose any more than she already was.

Harry lay face down on his bed. She was unsure of what to do. He'd never done this before.

Her boy was different than other teenagers. He didn't start trouble or get into rows with other children. He was quiet and reserved and he didn't cause problems growing up. Lily had never actually had to come in and console him on something other than the murder of their Kneazle when he was seven.

And that had happened over in the graveyard. Not in his room.

"Harry, what's the matter, love?"

The teen didn't answer right away. In fact, Lily found herself sitting on his bed for several moments, until he turned to stare at her, eyes slightly glassy and puffy.

"It was the Seventh Task," he mumbled.

"What about it? What exactly happened?" she asked, worry building within. And how could she not worry? Her son was being strangely emotional for a reason that she couldn't even begin to comprehend.

"He turned into this… creature. This strangely human-like, snake creature. He pretended to be sad about his body, and claimed Magical Transmutation had caused it. He kept trying to get me to tell him that I found him disgusting."

Harry's eyes, which were so much more striking than her own, were downcast.

"I had liked him. He called himself, 'Tom'. And I had believed him."

Lily frowned. "His name is Tom."

At Harry's confused look, she added, "Albus told everyone in the Order his real name. Tom Marvolo Riddle. The son of a near-Squib and a Muggle aristocrat."

And It seemed that she had only added onto her son's confusion now.

"So he lied about his body, but not his name? But he's technically lying to Great Britain about his name. Why hide it?"

Lily shrugged. "All I know is that Albus said that Tom Riddle was very much against boring things. That he had a habit of shunning the ordinary. He hated that he was no longer special when he found out that he was a wizard. He hated that his name was so common. He hated how his Slytherin Housemates treated him like a Mudblood. So he fashioned a new name for himself, in hopes of pushing all of that away.

"I don't know much else."

"I'm still angry," Harry said. "He pretended to be something he wasn't, all to mock me. And I don't appreciate it."

And Lily was left in confusion over why he was so insulted. He'd never cared about anyone's opinion before.

"Could it be that you had finally found someone interesting?" she hedged, hoping that she wasn't ruining his sharing mood. "He was interesting, and now you feel like you've been betrayed?"

"Why would I be betrayed?" Harry asked. "That implies expectation," the teen added, frowning at the wall.

She didn't know. And she couldn't answer for him. It wasn't her heart that had taken a beating this day.


LORD VOLDEMORT FIXES TOURNAMENT?

The first of July was supposed to be the grand revelation of the winner of the Consort Tournament.

The day when our Lord's future consort would be revealed to Magical Britain.

People gathered at the Ministry, excited to witness the conclusion of an almost year long event.

And the victor was announced. Harry Potter, Heir to both Potter and Black Lines,

was unsurprisingly the one to earn the right to Lord Voldemort's hand in marriage.

Though there seemed to be more to the champion than meets the eye.

Enough that the Dark Lord himself apparently entered Heir Potter against his will.

Yes, dear readers, it seems that the very person who had won the tournament,

was the only person in Britain who did not want to be a part of it. And why was Heir Potter even involved?

The Dark Lord forced his entry.

As Heir Potter stated clearly, in front of nearly three thousand spectators,

he had not entered willingly and felt that Lord Voldemort was incapable of providing him with what he desired.

That he 'was not ready' for a relationship.

Now, our questions stem from several areas. If Heir Potter did not wish to compete,

why did he remain in the tournament? Was there some sort of secret desire for attention, or perhaps bragging rights?

Was he threatened into staying? Did he perhaps decide that he would win, just so he may deny the Dark Lord publicly?

Did his family force him to compete? Did they hope to form unbreakable ties with the Slytherin Line?

Perhaps so the Potters could regain their old status in the Sacred Twenty-Eight?

All of our theories are possible. Unfortunately, Heir Potter is not available for comment.

Lord Voldemort is very much the same.

Lord Lucius Malfoy insists that the Dark Lord personally entered several people into the Tournament,

though Heir Potter was the only one to not enter himself. Still, this is suspicious behavior.

The tournament was incredibly dangerous, so why take away someone's rights?

Does the Dark Lord think he is above the law?

If so, what could this spell out for Magical Britain's future?

Me, Myself, and I shall endeavour to find out!

Rita Skeeter.


He supposed that he should have expected this. Though really, he never would have thought the the boy had it in him. This was devious. Cunning. And an absolutely perfect way to get out of a marriage that he didn't want.

It was never stated that the winner had to marry Voldemort, just that they had won the right to marry him. He'd double checked the rules just to be sure. And Harry's plan was foolproof.

And Voldemort had been found wanting in the young man's eyes. Harry didn't feel that Voldemort could provide whatever it was that he wanted. He wanted a 'meaningful marriage' and a 'heartfelt relationship'. And Voldemort was not able to provide either apparently.

Voldemort could be meaningful. Heartfelt was another story however. But he could be meaningful!

He was just so shocked that he had been denied! No one had ever denied him before! It was horrifying to even consider!

Harry didn't want him. It wasn't right. It was embarrassing. Humiliating.

§What is wrong?§ Nagini asked, curling up and around his shoulders in order to hiss into his ear. Not that he wouldn't have heard her from across the room or anything. His hearing was impeccable after all.

§He denied me,§ said Voldemort.

§What?§

§Harry denied me. He won, and then refused me outright.§

The serpent was quiet for a moment. §Maybe he needs reassurance that you are the best mate available?§

§I'm the Dark Lord, Nagini. He doesn't need any reassurances of my strength.§

Nagini sighed in his ear and shook her head, sending him the serpent's equivalent of a glower. §Strong does not always mean 'best', foolish master. Many serpents win by being cunning and sneaky, not because they are stronger. I said you haven't proven that you are the 'best mate available'. Being a good mate requires more than strength.§

Voldemort frowned. §Did you not say that anyone would be lucky to have me as a mate?§

§Yes,§ her head bobbed in agreement. §He will be lucky to have you. But he doesn't know how lucky he is to have your attention. You need to make him realise it. He needs to know that he is special. That there is a reason that he has your attention. More so than your followers or the other two-leggers around here. Right now you are no different than any of the other potential mates he has, because you haven't done anything to capture his attention.§

He'd taken over a magical community and said community was thriving thanks to him!

How much more could Harry want?

§Can you provide him what he needs?§ asked Nagini, which brought him all the way back to the 'provisions' that Harry required.

What were they and how did he prove that he could 'provide' them?

What a great help Nagini was. Not.


It was a great day. Not something that was common around Nurmengard. Albus Dumbledore could actually look up at the sky, and see blue for miles. He could see thick, puffy clouds, and the sun shining off in the distance. And it was a beautiful day, despite the fact that he was not particularly happy.

He hadn't planned to leave when this day came. He had wanted to stay in the prison with Gellert. But Gellert had succumbed to one of the most simple ailments of the human body. A heart attack.

Of all the things to finish off the former Dark Lord, nobody had ever expected something like that to be the end of him. Albus certainly hadn't.

Of all the people waiting to greet him, he did not expect to see Tom Riddle. Tom was in his glamoured form like always, and was looking only slightly displeased. His face was usually a lot more pinched whenever he was around Albus, and the old wizard had to wonder what had made the man's attitude lighter.

"Dumbledore," Tom said, nodding his head slightly.

Not only did Tom make eye contact, but he even nodded in Dumbledore's direction. Whatever this was, Albus was shocked.

"Hello, Tom. Are you here to escort an old man home?"

Tom looked as if he desperately wanted to say something, but had instead decided to hold himself back. The man pulled something from the sleeve of his cloak, and handed it over.

It was Albus' original wand. Said wand hummed at being reunited with its old friend.

"Somebody has been waiting to see you for years," Tom said, voice carefully blank and empty.

As if on cue, a burst of flames appeared on Albus' right shoulder, and when they died down, a beautiful bird bedecked with red and gold feathers looked back at him. It was Fawkes.

This day that had been so lacklustre, had suddenly gotten better. At least some of his old friends still remained.

With a smile, the old man reached up to pat the silken feathers, and Fawkes crooned in his ear in response. A melody of welcome and joy at the rekindling of an old friendship. It soothed Albus' old bones and made him feel better.

He was eternally grateful.

Tom proceeded to hand over a file. "Those are copies of your records. Everything that happened to you while you were imprisoned. Requests, menu changes, and even timetables."

Tom snapped his fingers, and almost at once, a large carriage pulled by four Thestrals, touched down in front of them on the cold, stone walkway of the prison. Tom waved a hand, making the door open silently.

Albus was given the 'go ahead' gesture, and with a sigh, the old man entered first. Tom quickly entered behind him and shut the door.

A whistle a moment later, and they were off.

And Albus couldn't help but appreciate this strange method of transportation. This way he was able to see perfect sky for the next few hours and the revelation of his freedom was heightened.

What did time have for him now?


A/N: Another is done!

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Chapter Text

Harry:   Voldy's True Form: 

A/N: Hello, people!

I don't own Harry Potter.

I have no beta.

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When Harry came down that morning, he did not expect to see his parents and godparents sitting at the kitchen table, talking with an old man. An extremely old man. In fact, he probably put Slughorn to shame with his age.

"I take it this is young Harry?" the man asked, turning his gaze upon Harry. Harry noted the half-mooned spectacles, and the almost grey/blue eyes that lingered behind them.

There was something particular about this man. Not just his long arse hair and beard, which were silver, but also his magic.

It was Light, but very soothing. Calming in a sense.

The only other thing about the man that stood out was his choice in robes. Fluorescent yellow and lavender stars littering the belled sleeves. Honestly, it was hideous, and Harry wasn't even up in the fashion department. But he would never wear anything like that and he couldn't believe such a piece of clothing existed.

Clearing his throat, hoping that no one noticed his appalled staring at the man's garish clothing, Harry nodded respectfully. "Yes. I'm Harry Potter, sir."

Harry was a bit wary of shaking the man's old hand. It just looked so old. Frail. Still, he didn't want to be rude to his parents' guest.

"I'm Albus Dumbledore."

Harry's head almost smacked into his own palm. Almost. He should have known that. The gross thing that man was wearing should have given it away. The history books said clearly that Albus Dumbledore loved awkward patterns and mixing colors that did not match.

He'd been released from Nurmengard. Distantly, Harry realised that the ninth was a few days ago and that he shouldn't be shocked. Dumbledore had only been sentenced for twenty years. Enough time in Voldetwat's mind to take over Magical Britain and change everything around.

So the Leader of the Light was free once again.

Harry glanced at his family, wondering if they were somehow trying to rebuild their ridiculous rebellion. Merlin, he hoped they weren't. Honestly, his life was doing just fine and he did not want to deal with any uprisings any time soon.

Voldemort was an utter dick, true, but the man was a good leader and no one was dying for no reason. Things were going good. Harry wasn't blind to the hatred some people still had for the man. He also knew that they would jump at the chance to rebel from the Dark Lord's reign.

Harry had read all about the war and he did not want to become an on-call Healer for St. Mungo's. Because that was what happened back then. Anyone with any medical training was called in because they needed as much help as they could get. And it couldn't be avoided. Legal requirements and all that rubbish.

He hoped he wasn't going to be thrown into the middle of a war and have to actively choose a side. There was no guarantee that he would choose either Light or Dark. He'd choose himself before anyone else, first and foremost. That was the sharp truth in his life.

It wouldn't be his war that was being fought after all.

Lily suddenly stood, and Harry watched as she patted him on the shoulder and left the room. Surprisingly, James, Sirius, and Remus followed, all patting his back as they left.

"Harry, would you mind if we spoke?" Dumbledore asked, genial and not at all suspicious. But the man was powerful and had defeated a Dark Lord before. Who was to say that it was safe to be around him?

Still, Harry didn't think his parents would ever agree to letting someone do anything unsolicited to their son, so he nodded and seated himself at the table.

"Thank you. I've been taking my time on catching up with recent events. The Daily Prophet can't always be taken as gospel truth after all."

Very true.

"I do however know, that you denied Tom's hand in marriage."

Harry's head jerked in shock. Dumbledore was referring to the Dark Lord as Tom.

The man smiled, his eyes almost twinkling with mirth. "I understand Tom's desire to bury his horrible past, but I refuse to cater to that particular demand of his. He needs to learn that there is nothing wrong with being himself, and I will call him Tom until the day I die."

Voldemort's true name was Tom Marvolo Riddle. He didn't really want anyone knowing it. There were no available records of life.

Harry had been curious after his mother told him about the man's true name. He looked up Tom Marvolo Riddle and found that he was considered the best student Hogwarts ever had. Held the highest scores in every subject and was the first to successfully take all O.W.L. and N.E.W.T. exams, and get an Outstanding on every one. He was even considered the most likely candidate for the position of Minister for Magical Britain.

The only available photo of the young man looked exactly liked Voldemort did. As if he hadn't aged in the past fifty years. Harry simply assumed that it was a spell to stay young. Or maybe he'd made some kind of bargain with a demon. One never knew when it came to Dark Lords.

"Does he really hate the ordinary?" Harry asked, interested in this sudden source of information on Voldemort's childhood.

Dumbledore chuckled lightly. "Tom has always been a difficult child. A Slytherin if I ever knew one. He wanted to be somebody even when he was little, and the desire simply grew and grew as the years passed. When I met him, he seemed like every other child, until he spoke. It was how he acted. How his eyes narrowed. He liked having magic, but despised how he was no longer special because of it. Hundreds of thousands of other people have magic, he was no longer unique.

"Millions of people all over the world have the name Tom, or a variation or it. He disliked it. He disliked being connected to his Muggle roots. And when he learned of his family, he wanted to get rid of his name completely."

Dumbledore lifted his wand and began to write in the air, Flagrate leaving fiery letters in the wake of his wand.

Tom Marvolo Riddle.

Dumbledore swished his wand to the side, and the letters began to move around, until they formed something else entirely.

I am Lord Voldemort.

This time Harry did smack his own forehead. He couldn't help it. The anagram of his own name. Good Circe the man was dramatic.

"Indeed," Dumbledore nodded, as if he had heard Harry's thoughts. "Tom isn't the most original. Though his new name does hold more meaning to him personally."

The next thing Dumbledore wrote out was short and sweet, but made Harry pause to consider the man.

Flight From Death.

Vol - de - mort. Why would someone make their new title so obvious? But the French…

"Wouldn't it be 'Flight of Death'?" Harry asked in confusion. He had basic knowledge in French, but he was sure that 'de' didn't mean from.

"Actually, 'de' has many connotations in the French language. It could also mean 'Flight with Death', or 'Flight By Death'. However, I say 'Flight From Death' because Tom has an almost choking fear of dying."

The greatest Dark Lord in all of history was scared of dying? It was almost too ridiculous to imagine. The man who held more power than any other being at present, was scared of dying?

Dumbledore was nodding. "What do you know about the world wars?"

"Not much," Harry admitted, regretting not reading that book his mum had got him a few years back.

"Tom grew up while the Muggle world was on the cusp of war. During his fourth year at Hogwarts, London was repeatedly attacked in what is now known as the London Blitz. Magicals didn't care much, but there was always at least one report on it in the Daily Prophet. Some time over the Yule hols, Tom's orphanage was lost in the bombing, though thankfully not many had been in the building at the time. Still, had Tom decided to go back for his holiday, he probably would have died."

Harry had heard about the Blitz from his mum. Her parents had actually lived through it when they were children. They'd had many a story to tell their daughters about it. He knew enough, and he could feel that annoying thing known as pity riding up. Being a child in such an environment must have sucked.

"When Tom learned about it, I could see the fear in his eyes. He understood that he could have died. And the problem in this, was that I had called him into my office before the holidays began and tried to convince him to go back to the orphanage and try to make amends with the other children there. Had he gone, he most likely would have been dead.

"Before the war had officially started, the Muggles were going through what is known as the Great Depression which had been a backlash of the former war that they hadn't had enough time to recover from. So there was always some kind of reminder that there wasn't enough money or food. Illness was rampant through the destitute. People died on the regular. Tom was lucky that magical children are more resistant to common, Muggle illnesses. His magic saved him from succumbing to viruses that his fellow orphans had fallen ill with."

Orphanage. Dumbledore had mentioned the orphanage twice. The Dark Lord had grown up in an orphanage. An orphan, all alone in the middle of a war and an economic crisis.

Harry folded his arms in frustration. He was supposed to be angry with the man, not pitying him!

"As you can see, Tom's fear of Death wasn't a sudden thing. However, his journey to fight against it, was suddenly alive and thriving. Tom did many things in his youth, and they cost him dearly. And now he has what he always wanted, but he is not happy with the results."

At Harry's confused look, the man asked, "You like him, don't you?"

Harry scoffed and looked away. "I don't give a damn about that arse. He can go rot for all I care."

"Lily told me about your Seventh Task. About how Tom used a disguise to confront you."

Harry didn't respond.

"Did you know that Tom actually wears a glamour all the time?"

Harry's jaw dropped without his permission and he ended up looking over, shock managing to prevail over all the other emotions he was feeling.

Dumbledore was nodding. "His 'disguise'," the man said, adding air quotes around the word, "and his glamour as interrelated. You should ask him about them."

"I don't want to talk to him at all."

"My boy, how else are you going to mend your relationship?"

"What relationship?" the teen sputtered, feeling as if maybe Albus Dumbledore had gotten the wrong idea somewhere in his recent studies.

"Tom likes you. Every time I have seen him in the past year, you have always come up in conversation. Tom barely likes anyone, so obviously there is something about you that catches his attention."

Harry didn't know what was more embarrassing. Voldemort liking him, Voldemort talking to Albus Dumbledore - the man who was supposedly his enemy! - about him, or Albus Dumbledore somehow inferring something completely off from whatever he had heard from the Dark Lord.

"Merlin, do you want me to marry him too?"

Dumbledore laughed suddenly. As if the very thought was humorous. "Dear boy, I want whatever this rift is between you is, to disappear. If marriage happens at some point in the future, that is all well and good. But for now, I simply want whatever bond Tom has managed to make on his own, to not be destroyed due to misinformation. And trust me when I say, you have jumped to conclusions too quickly, and he is poor at handling his emotions and other people's emotions.

"Tom needs someone in his life who isn't scared of him. Who is willing to put him in his place. Who stands up to him. Who can comfort as well as confront him. He's never had that. He is socially inept, and I don't want your relationship, whatever it may be, to be ruined because both of you lack the social skills required to keep a healthy relationship."

There was one thing that confused him though. "Why do you want him to have a relationship at all? Aren't you enemies? Don't you hate each other?"

The old wizard sighed. "I've never hated Tom. Pitied him, certainly. Been disappointed in him, most definitely. Aggravated with him, on a near constant basis. But there is more to our relationship that that.

"He was my student. The little boy I introduced to magic, and watched grow. I was his professor. Admittedly, I was not very helpful when he needed my help, and Gellert made me acknowledge my mistakes. I played a large part in creating Voldemort. The greatest Dark Lord in history made a few mistakes in his youth, in response to some of my actions. I could have been better and I could have helped him. I didn't. I let my prejudice cloud my judgment, and Voldemort was born in the process. Part of the blame will always lay at my feet, and I can see that now."

Dumbledore shook his head, eyes downcast with disappointment in himself.

"On another note, I can't help but be proud of him. Not of some of the things he has done, but I am proud of all that he has managed to accomplish in his lifetime. He said he would do something, and whether I like it or not, he did everything he said he would. Not many hold the mettle necessary to succeed in everything they set their mind to. Yet he has astounded me again and again."

Dumbledore sounded almost emotional. As if recounting the past hurt and amazed him all at once.

"I want what is best for him. It took me until recently to realise that what I think is best, doesn't always mean that it is best for everyone. People are infinitely different, and my best might be someone else's worst. So I have changed. I want for him, what he thinks is best for himself. And in the long run, that is you. And I think he's right. You are good for him."

Harry found himself staring at the table, unable to really respond to the man.

Dumbledore simply patted his head when he left, leaving Harry to his silent contemplation of the Dark Lord, and the relationship he had with the man.

What was he going to do now?


On his birthday, Harry found an elaborately wrapped box on his bed. It was green, with silver trimmings, and a silver bow. Just by the look of it, he could tell who had sent it, and he was skeptical.

The card on the front told him who is was from, confirming his suspicions.

Congratulations on another year. Hopefully you will enjoy your birthday more than I enjoy mine.

Lord Voldemort.

Harry actually didn't like his birthday all that much. Apparently, Voldemort felt the same about his own birthday. How bloody convenient.

With a sigh, the young wizard decided to open the gift. If it was on his bed, then his mother and father had both already gone over it, checking it for any possible curses. They had deemed it safe enough to let him have it.

Inside was a book. Honestly, the man had a thing for gifting books to people.

Harry was careful with it, for it looked old. The cover wasn't made of leather, but it was certainly a strange sort of material. Almost scaly in a sense. Though there was a feather here and there. Oddly coloured.

Opening the book, Harry recognised the signature of none other than Salazar Slytherin, written in Basque though. He was brought back to the Healing book Voldemort had given him at Christmas.

It had been a side quest, but he had translated it on his own, and managed to learn some very interesting facts about the least popular Founder of Hogwarts. Translating this text would be a lot easier now.

Flipping the page, he was confronted with Salazar's familiar script, small and neat. There was a diagram on the first page, and Harry's jaw dropped when he realised what creature this book was about.

No one had seen one in centuries! They hid from humankind, wary of confronting them. One of the Unclassified creatures he'd never gotten to see, because the British Ministry had never encountered one before, and therefore couldn't form a direct conclusion to the danger they possessed.

Quetzalcoatl. Voldemort had given him a book for his birthday, about the legendary creatures known as Quetzalcoatl.

Salazar Slytherin had been an explorer. An adventurer before he decided to settle down in what is now modern day Scotland and build a school with three other magicals.

Salazar had been everywhere. Salazar had encountered a Quetzalcoatl! He'd recorded his findings!

Harry had practically leaped off of his bed when he'd realised this! He'd finally know! He'd finally be able to know about them! This was almost as good as seeing one in person!

He now finally had an idea of the the legendary creatures actually looked like!

Bless Salazar's soul!

And Voldemort had given him this gift. This incredibly rare gift that many a Magizoologist would have loved to get their hands on. And instead, despite Harry's recent actions and the whole embarrassing him in front of Magical Britain, the man had still gifted him with such a priceless artifact!

Why? He was feeding into Harry's love of creatures by doing this, but hadn't he been mocking Harry's adoration and dream?

Why would the man do this if he thought Harry's interests were laughable?

Perhaps… Dumbledore was right and Harry had jumped to the wrong conclusion?

But if that was the case, what was the right conclusion?


Sirius Black was staring his littlest cousin down, wondering just what the boy had come all the way to Godric's Hollow for. Sure, Sirius didn't live there either, but at least he was actually friends with the Potter family.

"So what can Harry possible have that you need?" he asked, stalking around the blond who was bunched up on the kitchen chair.

Remus cleared his throat, sending his lover a look. Sirius huffed and sat down. Remus was no fun anymore. He couldn't even enjoy a good taunt here and there.

"Potter has information and I am willing to bargain for it, Lord Black," the boy said, though he was staring down at his knees.

Lily came in and placed a cup down in front of the boy. She took sent a glare in Sirius' direction. "Padfoot, leave him alone. Harry's friends are allowed to come over at any time. You should be happy that he has more friends than we originally thought."

Sirius sputtered defensively, though he was unable to come up with anything.

The door opened, and they all could hear the clatter of keys. Either Harry or James.

Harry walked into the kitchen and stopped short upon seeing Draco Malfoy sitting at the kitchen table, his mum standing protectively at the other teen's shoulder and Remus and Sirius staring him down from across the table.

"Is there something wrong?" Harry asked immediately.

Sirius' immediately response was cut off when Remus stepped on his foot under the table.

He grumbled and looked away. No fun.

The mini-Malfoy stood and straightened his shirt. The boy lugged back the entire cup of tea, regardless of the heat, and fixed Sirius' godson with a firm look.

"Potter, I come requesting information."

Harry merely quirked a brow, and summoned a cup for himself. As the tea pot floated on over to pour him a drink, the teen asked, "This about Hermione or the Dark Twat?"

Simultaneously, everyone in the room choked on something, be it tea or saliva.

The mini-Malfoy was flushed to the tips of his ears. "Please do not bring me into whatever is going on between you and the Dark Lord, Potter?! This might have something to do with Granger, though why you would even assume I don't know."

Harry shrugged. "As I said once before, Luna is clairvoyant."

He turned and sent a look over his shoulder. "Come on upstairs."

Sirius was left to blink as the two disappeared up the steps. Their footsteps going silent after a door shut.

The Black Lord looked toward his lover and asked, "Is that about what I think it's about?"

"Probably."

Lily clapped. "That's so cute!"

If what was happening, was what he thought was happening, then damn!

If the blond had his way, the next Lady Malfoy would be a Muggleborn. Who would have thought?


Harry shook the man's hand. The owner of the building hadn't done anything with it in the past three decades, and when Harry came along, offering a generous sum in order to take it off of his hands, he let Harry have it, including all of the objects within.

It was like the magical version of a pawn shop, and Harry decided to have a Magic Appraiser come in to make certain that nothing was charmed.

Once everything was given the okay, Harry ended up selling various items around London, and then exchanging the money at Gringotts. From there, Harry proceeded to the building he'd purchased.

Harry now owned 77 Diagon Alley. It was three stories high, with enough room to fit not only a personal greenhouse on the roof, but a medical wing in the basement. Harry would be taking the second floor as a live in space, complete with washroom, bedroom, kitchen, lounge, and office. The ground floor would be dedicated to the animals and creatures. He'd have to create specific habitats for different animals in the future.

Now that he had the building, said building had to be renovated. Harry was capable in the magical branches required for Magical Carpentry, but he was not trained in how to do such things, so doing it himself might cause problems. Harry could afford to hire help as well, so he simply went out to Knockturn Alley to find some assistance.

Also he would need to ward the place once all was said and done. Protection was the key.

It took a good part of August in order to get the entire building fixed. Harry was paying good money to expedite the services of the workers. Five wizards and three witches who worked nearly ten hours, five days a week for three weeks.

Honestly, it was much better than Harry had imagined, and they made the walls a nice, light shade of spring green. He liked it. It felt open. Cheerful even.

The building was finished officially on the twenty-first, with Harry and Luna getting ready to decorate.

Interior design wasn't exactly his thing, so Harry had called Luna in. Luna was an artist. She had painted her own bedroom with almost perfect replicas of her friends. Getting her input had been incredibly important to him.

"We want the waiting room to be warm and inviting," Luna said as she trailed a finger over the green wall.

"Landscapes would be nice. Maybe some floral artwork. Colours to complement this shade of green would probably be other shades of green, maybe some blues, browns, and bronze. I can probably paint you a few flowers to hang up, with bronze frames."

Harry couldn't help but wrap his arms around her shoulders. "I'll love you forever, Luna!"

While Luna was busy choosing the size of the paintings she wanted to make, Harry was trying to find furniture to fit her colour scheme. She had to scale the wall in order to get a good vision of where her work would go. Once she had the areas outlined, Harry was able to work around them by purchasing various shelves and furnishings to build the 'welcoming atmosphere' Luna said the room needed.

On the twenty-fifth, Harry went to get the business license necessary in order to actually start his business. Things were coming together.

He was glad.


"Honestly, I don't think anyone in my department knows what they are doing!" Hermione grumbled as she twirled her fork through her salad.

Luna gave a considering hum as she sipped her smoothie. Harry though, was busy trying to tear apart a crab that was being incredibly frustrating.

The three were eating lunch in Harry's kitchen of all places. Hermione was on her lunch break and was raving over the stupidity of her fellow workers at the DRCMC. This was also the last day before Luna was whisked off to Hogwarts.

"There's this horrid woman who gathered this ridiculous amount of 'proof' and 'examples' together because she wants to have House Elves labeled as Dark Creatures and have them classified as XXXX creatures."

Harry paused in his stabbing of his crab to look up. "Is she stupid?"

Hermione's snort was enough of an answer. If she wasn't reprimanding him for his lack of respect for an authority figure, then the person must be the epitome of stupidity. For shame.

"Why exactly does she want such a classification?"

"Because House Elves can Apparate through any wards that a wizard or witch sets up. Therefore, they are more dangerous than originally perceived."

Harry considered that for a moment. He was one of the few people to have considered just how truly dangerous a House Elf could be. All someone had to do was order their Elf to take an explosive to an enemy's house, leave it there, and then Apparate home. No one would be the wiser.

Everyone, even House Elves, were capable of horrible actions, that didn't mean everyone did them.

Yes, House Elves had the potential to be dangerous, but on the whole, they were fine. Also, XXXX classification was reserved for creatures that could just barely be controlled and domesticated. House Elves were easily domesticated and they could be taught easily.

So this woman's plan was foolish.

"What's her name?" asked Harry, though Hermione didn't get to answer, because Luna was already there, probably having expected him to ask.

"Dolores Jane Umbridge. She is… a problem."

"What kind of problem?"

"She will become a nuisance in more ways than one, in the future."

Luna ceased her cryptic remarks then, going back to her super healthy smoothie.

Hermione huffed and continued to stab at her lettuce. Harry decided to just vanish the shell off his crab, because the bloody thing was too stubborn otherwise.

Now just what to do about Umbridge.

Watch her most likely.


Harry looked up from his reading. So far, he'd only had the usual visitors. A few cats, a Kneazle, an owl, and even one Fire-Crab. Until his reputation grew, his clientele would be small. Not that he minded.

The ward on the door shivered just a bit, letting him know that someone had entered the shop. Harry placed the book to the side and went out to greet his newest customer.

There was no one there. Or rather, there was no human there.

The being waiting for him was Nagini. Of all guests, he had not expected her. He immediately looked around for her master, wondering where he was.

§Hi!§ the snake bellowed, slithering on over and climbing his leg.

§I latched onto the white follower again. My master has been whinging and pouting lately, and he's been far too depressed to pay me the proper attention I deserve, so I decided to find you. Your scent has mixed around a lot outside, but this building is covered in your scent, so I knew I could find you here.§

Patting her head, Harry asked, §How did you get in?§

§I opened the door,§ she said simply. §Long ago did I master how to use your two-legger objects. I can even play a drum!§

For a second, Harry envisioned the Twylusk holding a drumstick with the end of her tail and just repeatedly bashing the poor drum with it. He also imagined Voldemort's annoyance and frustration over it.

It made him smile.

§What about your master? Won't he be worried about you?§

§Most likely, but I left him a note. I can write a little, though not with those quill things. They slip through my scales. Master gave me sticks of what he calls 'wax' and I can write a little with them!§

Voldemort bought crayons for his snake. Harry couldn't not withhold his snicker at that! The big bag Dark Lord actually went shopping in a Muggle shop to buy his snake some crayons.

This was the best revelation he'd ever heard!

§What did your note say?§

§That once he stopped being a twitchy hatchling, he can come find me with you,§ she hissed, bobbing her head in what was the snake equivalent of a shrug.

'Twitchy hatchling'.

§What is wrong with Voldemort?§ Not that he cared or anything!

§He has been sulking ever since you denied him. He does not understand that some mates have different requirements. He is a little slow to grasp that being strongest does not mean he is the best. He is scared to come and see you. He is afraid of more denial.§

She tutted. It was kind of funny.

§He reminds me of his first days in his new body, when his magic wasn't strong enough to make him look like the other two-leggers. Instead of being proud of how similar he was to the noble Serpent King, he would shed salty water and lock himself in his room. My master is still a hatchling on the inside it seems.§

Harry was brought up short. Voldemort cried when he was younger, because he looked like the 'noble serpent king?'.

§Who is the 'serpent king, Nagini'?§ Harry asked.

§The Basilisk.§

Voldemort cried because he resembled a Basilisk? So then… Voldemort's true form was actually the serpentine form and his 'glamour' as Dumbledore had called it, was the handsome Tom Riddle?

The the hell was going on?


A/N: Another is done!

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Chapter Text

A/N: Hello, people!

I don't own Harry Potter.

I have no beta.

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Wen u r dun powting come find me with Hary.

Nag.

Voldemort crumbled the damn parchment. His familiar had decided to once against disappear and it had been five days since he had last seen her. And where was she? With Harry Potter.

She'd left the note on his bed, but it had fallen to the floor when he'd gotten up. He'd only just found it under the bed when he was searching for shoes.

And not only was her disappearance annoying the hell out of him, but her spelling need a lot of work still.

Damn serpents!


Lulu,

Did something happen to Rita Skeeter? I swear,

she was bugging me yesterday and now she's gone missing.

I hate asking you to use your ability to help me,

I've just a little paranoid right now.

She isn't the type to give up easily you know.

Also, how are your classes and it there a possibility

that you can take your N.E.W.T.s early so we don't have to write letters so often?

Love,

Harry.


Harry,

You don't have to worry about Rita Skeeter any longer.

It turns out that she was a beetle Animagus and had decided to use

her unregistered ability in order to gather information on you.

She had been in your room, flitting about your possessions,

when Nagini found her in her beetle form, and swallowed her.

Rita is dead now. I in no way pity her.

Daddy and I wanted me to take my N.E.W.T.s early,

it's just that there is a price of expediting the process.

If I were to take it with the rest of my classmates,

I wouldn't have to pay anything.

And no, I don't want you paying for anything for me.

The offer is kind, but I don't need it.

We'll simply have to deal with writing letters.

Get a Dicta-Quill.

Luv,

Lulu.


Mione,

Luna just told me that Rita Skeeter was roaming around my house

as an unregistered Animagus and that Nagini - who has

sneaked away from her master in order to visit me - ate her while she was still a beetle.

Yes, I am just as disgusted as you are.

Problem here is that I did not set up wards against Animagi,

and she was apparently all over my bedroom for Merlin only knows how long.

Are there Runic Wards that can be made to ward off Animagi?

I can't remember if there are.

If you don't have an answer, I'll have to tell mum.

And you know what might happen then.

Love,

Harry.


Harry,

The book I sent with my letter has the answer

you are searching for. Apply it directly to the perimeter

of your building, as well as every 'tween'.

Those creations that their only use is to act as a path to

another place. Doorways, hallways, and the like.

As the 'tweens' lack any kind of magical use

or protection most of the time, it is very easy for someone

to override your wards or overpower them and enter through those areas.

And you might want to add a few more Runes that are in the book,

just in case. You can never be too safe.

Tell me if it works.

Mione.


Mione,

You have no idea how happy I am.

Mum can become a worrywart and if I

can avoid worrying her, everyone is just better off.

Trust me.

And I made sure to doubly apply everything.

The wards are now a lot thicker than before,

which makes me feel better now.

Also, do you have anything planned for the weekend?

I kind of want to go to the cinema again.

Yours,

Harry.


Harry,

My schedule might permit it.

I also just realised that we could have

just used the Floo this whole time.

I'm rolling my eyes right now.

And one of my coworkers is trying

to read what I'm writing over my shoulder.

I'm tempted to hex them!

Mione.


Mione,

Do it! Take a photo if you can!

Harry.


Harry,

The photo is clipped to the back.

Mione.


"Hello, Harry!"

Said young man turned around, not expecting to see Albus Dumbledore walking into his shop. But no, the old man was standing there, and perched on his right shoulder, was the most impressive Phoenix Harry had ever seen. Or rather, the one one he had seen, but still, it was impressive.

"This is Fawkes. A dear friend of mine."

The Phoenix crooned lowly, it's beady eyes blinking slowly in greeting.

ßHello, young one.ß It sounded aged. Wizened even.

Smiling, Harry responded with, ßSalutations, Lord Phoenix.ß His voice had come out in more of a trill than a croon, but he could tell that both Dumbledore and Fawkes were shocked.

Fawkes hopped down from Dumbledore's shoulder and onto the counter in order to peer much closer at Harry. His head was bobbing slightly, and his eyes looked around, as if trying to find something. He must have found it, because a light shined appeared and then disappeared just as quickly.

ßI sense a piece of myself here. My feather perhaps?ß the immortal creature proposed, head tilted to the side in curiosity.

Harry withdrew his wand and placed it on the counter. The wood glowed a bright shade of yellow, and gave a low hum. Fawkes nodded. ßThat is it. You have treated it well.ß He sounded approving, which made Harry smile all the more.

He bowed his head in appreciation. Never had he thought that he would meet the phoenix that gave the feather for the Core of his wand. It was a moment almost beyond his reckoning. Almost.

"Now this is an interesting development," said Dumbledore, eyes twinkling again. Harry had a feeling that that was a usual thing for the man. "Fawkes is usually kind to all people, but he rarely gets so near."

"It's my wand core, sir," Harry told him. "I have the brother wand to Voldemort's wand."

Any further comment was halted when Nagini slithered into the room, insulting the 'fools who disturbed her rest'. She quickly slithered up Harry's leg, and looped herself around his shoulders a few times in order to get a better look at what was going on.

§The twinkling one is with you? Since when are you acquainted?§ she demanded, giving Harry what he could only describe as a searing look.

He shrugged. §About a month,§ he admitted.

Nagini coiled just a little tighter around him. §Master does not like Twinkles because he is right and Master doesn't like it when he is right. Master would be angry if he knew you and Twinkles were talking. So very angry.§

§'Twinkles' as you call him, is trying to get me to speak with your Master again, so whatever Voldemort is whinging about, he can suck it up. Dumbledore is doing him a favour and he doesn't even know it yet.§

The great snake nodded her head and turned to look at Dumbledore, who had been silently observing them.

"Mightn't I hope that you and Tom have worked out your differences?" the man ventured, looking hopeful.

Harry snorted, amused by his supposition. "She just sneaked out. She's done it before when he doesn't pay enough attention to her. Apparently he's been pouting in his room."

Nagini gave a hissy laugh, her head bobbing with the movement. §My Master is but a hatchling.§

Harry found himself nodding in agreement. The man who was in control of his country, was acting more like a teenager than Harry was.

"I'm sure Tom wishes to come and see you," Dumbledore said.

Probably. But then again, his pride was most likely getting in the way.

"He'll have to buck up. He knows where I am. I don't exactly know where he is though."

"True."

"Now, what can I do for you and Fawkes?"

"My dear friend has never had a physical before. I would simply like to verify that he is healthy. Also, you've never seen a Phoenix before, have you?"

"Only my Patronus, sir."

The twinkling persisted well into the hour.


§We're going to visit the Runespoor today!§ Nagini crowed, feeling all sorts of excitement.

Harry knew how to treat a serpent right, and she was excited to see the hatchling again.

Of course Harry hadn't even been awake when she decided to scream, but that was okay. His bell would be ringing in a few moments anyway, so what was a few minutes early going to do?

Harry groaned and rolled over, clutching his pillow to his head. Nagini wasn't having any of that of course, so she slid under the fabric and patted his face with her tongue. Immediately, he leapt up and out of bed, wiping his face repeatedly.

§Warn a bloke before you do that!§

Nagini's hissy chuckles filled the silence.


Severus Snape couldn't help but feel as if his life had somehow become one of those Muggle soap operas.

Harry Potter was denying the Dark Lord's hand in marriage. And the Dark Lord had sequestered himself in his manor, not bothering to come out at all in the past two weeks. Bellatrix was doing hard business with the Weasley Twins. Severus' godson was trying to find a way to court Hermione Granger of all people.

It was as if the universe was just laughing at him, forcing him to watch all of these events unfold and not be able to really lend any assistance.

Not that he wanted to be involved. But if these events persisted, then his annoyance would rise. So he was stuck in an uncomfortable position.

On top of that, some Knights didn't feel that Potter's actions were justified. That the boy should be grateful for the opportunity. Severus had already lightly poisoned two of his fellows. Though Avery got it worse simply because his mouth decided to run too far from his face.

All the while, Reginald No-Name had disappeared. They had enough on him to bring him in on several charges, but no one could find the coward. After he lost the Fifth Task, he had disappeared from Magical Britain altogether. Severus was certain that he was not finished with whatever his plans were.

This meant that not only did he have to deal with what was going on around him, he had to consider what might happen in the the future. And he really didn't want to.

So there was potential danger to his godson, Lily's son, and probably several other people.

Severus was going to have to begin planning.


Voldemort stepped into the shop and dropped his disillusionment charm immediately. After waiting two weeks, he'd finally decided to just suck it up and go see Harry. He also had to retrieve his familiar. Merlin only knew what she was getting up to without proper supervision.

There was a light ripple of magic against his senses. The wards of the building were active and very well crafted. Harry would know that he had customers and would have to come out to the front to meet them.

Also, he was certain that the door connecting the front and back rooms was enchanted to only let certain people in at certain times. A particular ward to prevent possible assault.

He was impressed.

"What can I do for yo- Well if it isn't the Twat Waffle!"

He sighed. That name was never going away, was it?

"Hello, Harry."

Harry was looking good. His hair was styled the same it was the last time they had seen one another. Voldemort found the little strand in front of his eyes to be fetching. Adorable even.

"It's been brought to my attention that we need to talk," said Harry, waving a hand toward the door. The OPEN sign flipped around, and the shade fell over it, so that people would only see CLOSED.

Voldemort felt relieved. He had wondered how this would go, but Harry already had an idea.

"Were you mocking my love for animals by pretending to be the snake-man?"

Voldemort couldn't help but frown in confusion. That was why Harry had been so angry with him? He thought that Voldemort was mocking the things that made him happy?

"Because someone told me that I might have jumped to conclusions, and while I'm not perfect, it wasn't like you weren't already lying to Great Britain, Tom Marvolo Riddle."

The boy was calling him by name. The boy somehow knew his name. Was it his parents? Did they tell him? They had been in the Order of the Phoenix, so it wouldn't be shocking if they knew.

"I was not mocking you. I had that particular Task planned out from the beginning. I appeared before all three competitors as such, though Zabini was apprehended, and Karasawa strangely enough, didn't make it home after the end of the tournament."

He glanced to the side, too proud of himself.

Nagini hadn't gotten to have her meal either. Meaning that he really needed to take her home because he didn't want to waste any more food on his prisoners than he needed to.

"Why the snake form then?"

The elder wizard fidgeted just a bit. Not much of course, but it was still obvious.

Harry's reaction had been overwhelmingly kind. So he didn't need to be worried about being turned away for how he looked. At least he hoped not.

Slowly, the glamour he always wore, melted away, revealing Voldemort in his true glory. Serpentine, scaly, and almost tall enough to hit his bald head on the ceiling of the waiting room. He glared at the boards overhead, as if it was their fault that they weren't high enough.

Harry's eyes went wide.

"This is what I really am, Harry. Foolishness of youth helped turn me into this."


Voldemort, the Heir of Slytherin, whose true name was Tom Marvolo Riddle, was actually the snake/human hybrid. And the clean, older Tom Riddle face he always wore, was the fake. Harry had decided to trust Nagini and Dumbledore's word, but to have it so blatantly verified was astounding.

"Why pretend?" he couldn't help but ask. "Why lie to all of Britain?"

Voldemort can a condescending laugh. "For whatever reason you have, you don't find my appearance appalling. Others aren't as generous as you are. Every time people see this," he grumbled, gesturing to himself, "they go mad. It makes cohabitation difficult. It makes my life more miserable. I don't like it, and it's not as if I have to tell everyone my business."

He had a point there. It technically wasn't anyone's business whether he wore a glamour or not. Still, Harry was annoyed over this whole scenario.

So Voldemort's Seventh Task was to reveal the form he hated and was embarrassed by to the last three competitors, to gauge their reactions. If being that way caused him problems, perhaps he was choosing his spouse based on the most accepting of the remaining three.

And Harry had been more than accepting. He'd basically gotten hard at the sight of the man. Was currently getting hard at the sight of him actually.

"The others didn't like your form, did they?"

A scoff was his only answer. So he was right.

"But I do. That was why you chose me, wasn't it? I don't mind your appearance and you were happy that the one you'd been obsessed with had proven to be the best person for you, in your mind."

That long neck bowed slightly, and the smooth head bobbed. The light from the chandelier above them reflected on the various scales on the other man's face, randomly scattered. They sparkled like silver.

Harry ended up running a hand through his hair in frustration. "Well, my denial of you was planned since the Third Task, however I embellished on the plan last month because I thought you had mocked me. You admitted to 'disguising' yourself in order to test us. Pretending to be something you weren't. Frankly, I'm not sorry for what I said or did. You deserved it."

Voldemort flinched a bit, and Harry was stunned that the man had been so affected by his words. According to Nagini, he'd locked himself away to pout. Dumbledore's words made more sense now. Voldemort actually liked him. More than the teasing and touching. More than the quips they shared. The man actually wanted him personally.

He probably didn't even understand what it was that he wanted. Dumbledore said he was 'socially inept'. Harry was as well. Neither had been in relationships no doubt, so it wasn't like he was blooming with self-confidence in this area either.

"You didn't deserve it for how you look," the teen continued after a moment of contemplation. "You deserved it for taking my rights and decision from me. You deserved it for putting me in the middle of something I wanted nothing to do with, and making my life even more stressful than it was.

"Not everyone is a natural genius like you were. I may be the best, but I had to work extra hard to match Hermione in everything. Hard work is my skill, and time I could have used for studying and preparations was taken away because of some ridiculous contest that wasn't necessary."

Voldemort's jaw dropped, revealing his forked tongue a little more. Though Harry's groin responded to the visual, he would not be moved.

"You could have picked anyone. You're just dramatic and wanted to make a big show of something.

"So no, I am not sorry for what I did, or said. And I feel not pity for the political backlash you're receiving right now. You aren't the only person in the world. My mum has been drilling that truth into my head for ages and damn it all I will do the same with you."

"Are you… opposed to the thought of marrying me?"

"Not really," admitted the shorter wizard.

"Then what do I have to do to get you to agree?"

Harry smirked then. He'd been waiting for this.

"Well, My Lord, it's because of you that I had to sacrifice much needed time to prove that I was worthy of your hand in marriage. So I think that in return, you should work to prove to me that you are worthy of my hand. Being the greatest Dark Lord in history means nothing to me. Nothing you do is impressive anymore, because you've been declared the best in many areas.

"This deals not with magic, nor your reputation, Blood Status, or even ancestry. This is you. I want a partner who cares about me. Who would fight beside me. Who would do whatever they can for me. Who wants the best for me. Who would agree to be on equal footing. Who would allow me the time I need to myself, and who would understand my needs. Someone who accepts me. I want what my parents and godparents have. And that's that little word you don't seen to like."

"Love," the Dark Lord murmured, eyes burning with understanding.

Harry nodded. "Yes. Love."


§Foolish, Master,§ the serpent murmured.

§Shut up!§ he hissed in return. He was obviously agitated, but brainstorming.

She tsked and shook her head.

§So… what did you learn?§

§That would be telling.§

§Nagini!§

He was frustrated as one would expect because he needed to find some way to woo an eighteen year old into marriage. Harry Potter wanted 'love'. That very word that Dumbledore seemed to advocate as if it was the most important thing in the world.

How did a man who had never been shown any love, nor experienced it, give it to another? It wasn't like he had anything to draw conclusions from.

He cared about Nagini. She was a faithful pet of almost fifty years. She was special to him. More than just being a Horcrux. She was the only family he ever really had.

But he didn't feel for Harry Potter what he felt for Nagini. It was more but not enough, he was certain.

§At least you know what you need to provide,§ said Nagini as she curled around his shoulders. §It could be worse. You could have no idea what is going on and still be shedding salt water in your rooms. And Harry would still be walking around angry with you.§

§I do not shed salty water!§ Voldemort protested, glaring at the snake.

Nagini's disparaging snort only served to infuriate him further.

§And my scales are white, silly master.§


Harry stared down at the gift he was being presented to him by none other than Voldemort. Yes, he'd decided to just continue to call him such. Unlike Dumbledore, Harry wasn't so rude as to refer to someone by a name they obviously disliked. The Dark Lord was an arse, but that didn't mean Harry had to be a disrespectful dick in return.

So Voldemort had taken his words for what they were and was now trying to kiss his arse by lavishing him with gifts.

It was flattering in a sense, to have someone showing him such attention. To know that there was a person out there who wanted him so bad that they would actually go to such lengths for him of all people. It made him feel warm on the inside. And the more he got to know the man, the warmer he felt.

He accepted the gift with a roll of the eyes. "You're ridiculous."


"Tom, my boy!"

Voldemort grumbled, wishing that he had not come to this damn meeting at all. Of course Albus Dumbledore would be there.

The older wizard had been walking beside Minerva McGonagall when he'd spotted the Dark Lord coming down the bloody corridor.

Of all the times to meet with Severus, this was not the best, he realised. He wouldn't be doing it any time soon if he could.

It was just that someone had to be chosen to plan the next Yule Ball and Severus had been the most experienced in that area, so Voldemort decided to back him into a corner until he agreed.

And now he was running into Dumbledore. It was some form of punishment for his actions. How dare he guilt trip someone into doing what they didn't want to, apparently.

"Minerva, it was a pleasure speaking with you again," Albus told the Scotswoman, before hurrying along to catch up with Voldemort. For a decrepit old fool, he moved too bloody fast.

She watched them with worried eyes until they rounded the corner.

"What do you want, Albus?"

"I simply wished in inquiry if you and young Harry have patched up your relationship."

Voldemort's eyes narrowed and he stopped in the middle of the corridor in order to fix the man with a curious look. "Why do you wish to know?"

Albus beamed. "I wish for love to prevail."

Of course it had to do with 'love'. Why was it always love with the man?

"Albus, there is no love."

"But there will be," the man insisted with a twinkle.

Grumbling, the Dark Lord began to walk again, hoping that he might be able to leave his once nemesis behind.

Dumbledore kept up perfectly.

Damn.

"You aren't as annoyed as you want me to believe, Tom," said Dumbledore cheerfully, completely unaffected by the Dark Lord's ire.

"And what makes you think that?"

"You haven't Apparated away yet."

Voldemort almost stopped again, but he refused to give in to the other wizard's provocation. He hadn't Apparated because he didn't feel like it. It had nothing to do with Dumbledore not being a nuisance.

"Young Harry doesn't seem to be the type to enjoy materialism. He likes things that last long and would help him. Practicality is key here. So get him gifts that make him happy. Not you happy, or the wife of one of your follower's happy. Take his interests into account."

Animals and books. Harry Potter really liked animals and books. Though he wasn't certain the young man would want a pet. Not if he was going to be taking care of the animals of Britain all the time. Not when Nagini continued to impose herself upon him as if she owned him.

Books it was. He'd already started that though.

Then it came to him. "What do you mean 'he likes things'? What would you know about his interests?"

Dumbledore's rosy cheeks widened as his smile grew. "I met him of course! He's such a charming young man. James and Lily are so proud of him, and they have every right to be. He gave Fawkes a physical."

Dread. And not the kind where he was fearing danger, spread through his body. If Albus Dumbledore and his love loving ways got together with Harry Potter, who wanted love from the 'worst/best Dark Lord in history', what would happen'? What was being said?

He glared at the man. "Leave Harry alone."

"My dear boy, I have to go back to his shop every now and then. Fawkes will have to be given the utmost care and Mr. Potter ordered monthly visits."

That old bastard!

"You will tell him nothing about anything involving me, old man!"

"Of course not!" Dumbledore said, and Voldemort had absolutely no belief in his words. The man was that manipulative.

"I mean it, Albus, do not poison him against me. I have enough hard work ahead of me right now and I don't want to have to worry about your influence either."

"Trust me when I say, no one can change his opinion of you but himself and you. And if I were to tell him anything, it would only be with the best of intentions in mind."

Those bloody eyes twinkled as Voldemort Apparated away, finally frustrated beyond belief.


Sev,

It can't be just me, but I swear that someone is trying to do something.

Like, my maternal instincts are off the wall, and I've already Flooed Harry

three times this week just to be certain. Something is bothering me.

Unfortunately, he's too worried about his current drama involving Voldemort,

so he hasn't noticed anything. But I can practically feel it. A shift in the air.

Also, something worrying is that Remus has become ill. Remus does not get sick!

He's a Werewolf for Circe's sake! He isn't affected by human ailments!

They took him to St. Mungo's but despite his very obvious illness,

they can't actually find anything wrong with him. So there is no way to diagnose it!

I haven't told Harry yet. I'm not sure I want to at this moment.

What should we do, Sev?

Lils.


Lily,

I will inform the Dark Lord immediately.

If there is some kind of unknown illness that has managed to take

down a fully grown Werewolf, he must be informed about it.

As for Lupin, bring him to Hogwarts as soon as possible.

I'm certain between Poppy, the Dark Lord, and myself,

we'll be able to determine the sudden illness.

And if not, we'll have to reach out of our borders for assistance.

Do you know if he's eaten anything new or gone somewhere new?

Severus.


Sev,

He was in Bristol the other day, but he's been there several times and nothing happened!

Also, I think Sirius has come down with whatever it is.

They are showing the same ailments and none of the Healers we have seen, know what it is!

James and I are bringing both over to Hogwarts tomorrow.

Lils.


Lily,

Enclosed are two Runic Rings that the Dark Lord has personally crafted.

Once you stun both, place the rings on their left wrists and both will be encased in a protective, quarantine barriers.

They need to be kept in stasis until we can determine just what to do.

The Dark Lord is displeased as I'm sure you have imagined.

Whatever you do, do not inform anyone else about this.

That is a direct order from the Dark Lord himself.

Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

Severus.


Hermione stared at the blond who had practically sauntered into her small office. She did not often have to deal with Malfoy, but then again, it wasn't like they were put into each other's space often enough to speak.

The young man held out a single, white rose.

He looked her in the eye and said, "Hermione Granger, would you like to come to dinner with me?"

The brunette gaped.


"Who would this affect though?"

Reginald sighed and gestured to the bedridden Elf that actually wasn't infected with his creation. He simply knocked it unconscious. "Dark beings! As I stated several times already. I get my revenge on those who have wronged me, and you get your law passed. That is the deal."

The woman, if she could even be called that, tittered. She looked over the obviously ill Elf and nodded to his words. Fool.

"This plan is sure to be fail proof. Give me the poison and I will handle it."

Reginald held out the scroll, demanding her signature before doing anything. "We cannot have either of us walking around with this information free. With our signatures, we'll have contracted a Blood Agreement. I am Secret Keeper of my property, so worry not."

Dolores sighed, but summoned a Black Quill from her bag, signing her name with a flourish. Reginald then took the item and signed as well. The parchment grew warm, and glowed a bright shade of gold, before disappearing.

The wizard handed over a portion of his supplies, and bade the pink bedecked woman a firm farewell.

She only knew a part of plan, and that was okay. Because this particular poison worked through not only the body of the one being injected, but anyone with Dark Magic who touched them, could get it once they were contagious. So she would inject it into a few beings of her own choosing and so would begin the pandemic.

She also didn't know that he'd already injected his creation into several other beings as well.

This plan could not be ruined! He was sure of it!


A/N: Another is done!

 

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Chapter Text

A/N: Hello, people!

I don’t own Harry Potter.

I have no beta.

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Voldemort couldn't help but run a hand through his glamoured hair. He had things to do. He had a young man to impress, and he had to somehow find it in himself to give Harry Potter what he wanted. He didn't have time for panicking civilians or a possible pandemic. Yet here he was. Because life hated him most definitely.

Within a week of Sirius Black and Remus Lupin being brought into the Hospital Wing at Hogwarts, ten others had also been brought in with the same illness. Yet no one could determine just what the illness was. However, all of them had been forced into stasis in order to prevent the possible spreading of the illness.

On top of that, Harry Potter Flooed into the Hospital Wing, looking frantic as he searched for Pomfrey.

Apparently, someone had brought in a Goblin from Gringotts that had collapsed. No matter what the other Goblins had tried, nothing would work, so they took the Goblin to Harry, knowing that Harry was open and honest with everyone.

Unfortunately, he was unable to determine the cause of the sudden illness. He'd even Fire-Called his friend Granger with questions to have someone to bounce his thoughts off of, and she wasn't able to help either. That didn't mean she wasn't trying however.

Severus was currently dealing with blood samples and had covered himself in every possible layer of protection known to wizard kind. It wouldn't do to fall ill when searching for a cure.

When something so obviously dangerous was taking out various beings all over magical Britain, the smart idea was to protect oneself. Severus was clothed heavily in one of the hazmat suits that Voldemort had Enchanted.

Severus had also been unable to find anything in the blood, so he tried other bodily fluids, but found absolutely nothing out of place. Nothing strange.

The only thing as Voldemort personally could see being similar between any of those who become infected, was the fact that all of them had Dark Magical Cores. And if this was some kind of illness that spread through beings with only Dark Magic, then a good portion of Magical Britain and possibly the entire world, would be at stake.

And if any more came down with the sudden illness that nobody knew anything about, Voldemort would have to issue a quarantine for the entire magical community of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

That meant that nobody could leave the country, and nobody could come into the country. And having that kind of thing happen, would disrupt so many business opportunities, as well as any possible relations with neighboring countries.

Still, the health of the people was more important at present. Especially since Dark Arts practitioners as widespread as those with Grey or Light Cores these days. There was supposed to be a balance. That was the point of having a Dark Lord and a Light Lord.

If all those with Dark Magic in Great Britain ended up dying, it would upset the balance. He didn't want to know what would happen if that occurred.

Add on to the summer long list of dramas, Harry Potter found out that both of his Godfathers had been taken by this illness. The young man, for the first time since Voldemort had known him, had teared up. He proceeded to latch onto his mother, and cry.

Obviously, this display of affection and emotion was very rare, judging by the look on both of his parents' faces. Harry wasn't a terribly emotional being, so their shock was something he could comprehend in a sense.

"We need to find a cure soon," Harry stated with a determined set in his shoulders. "I can't lose what little I have."

Voldemort did not understand what it was like to lose somebody that you cared about. Voldemort had never lost anyone before, because he never had anyone before. But something in him reached out to Harry. Something that longed to make those tears disappear, and force that frown to never return. Harry Potter should never be sad.

Placing a hand on the teen's shoulder, Voldemort calmly said, "We'll do whatever we can, Harry. They will come out of this alive and well, I promise."

The grateful smile that the young man sent his way, made his heart skip a few beats. Either that, or it had sped up for a few beats. But it was an unusual feeling that Voldemort was not used to experiencing.

Something in him wanted to experience it again. Strange.

With a sigh, the man turned. "I will order the issue of the official quarantine."


ATTENTION!

Magical Britain will be undergoing a special quarantine, for the coming future.

Under no circumstances is anyone to leave or enter National borders.

An illness of the likes of which we have never seen before, has struck.

In order to prevent this illness from spreading to other countries, we implore you to stay where you are.

If anyone goes against this new regulation, they will be imprisoned in Azkaban until further notice.

From what has been determined, the illness attacks those who have Dark Magical Cores.

It can be spread in any way as far as we've noticed.

This includes not only humans, but creatures and other beings as well.

No side effects have been noted, however we do not know if anyone with a Grey or a Light core can be affected yet.

As such, we implore you to take extra precautions against this.

Do not wander, do not linger anywhere, and do not deviate from your routine.

Cast protective enchantments around your homes.

Ward yourselves and your properties.

If anyone has any information on this particular subject, present yourself to the Auror Office immediately.

If anybody is found having information, and they did not come forth with it, they will be imprisoned indefinitely.

The Dark Lord will personally deal with them.

We will attempt to keep you abreast of the situation.

Unfortunately, at the rate that this pandemic is growing, you might be learning the information before we do.

If you notice anything suspicious, report it immediately.

You will not be in trouble, and you will not suffer any consequences.

This is as much for our sake as it is for yours.

In order to ensure a healthy future for all of us, we ask that you comply without struggle.

We thank you for your time, and hope that you have a pleasant day despite the circumstances.

Lucius Malfoy & Bellatrix Lestrange

Heads of the Inner Circle Knights of Walpurgis.


"Harry," said Lily quietly, "you do know that a lot of the animals you worked with have Dark Cores, right?"

Her son, who was bent over his work station, trying to find out how to fix this sudden illness, nodded. "Yeah." He returned to his measurements of the Bicorn horn.

"And you do realise that this has only been infecting Dark beings, so they might be in danger."

Harry's hand froze for a moment.

"We just have to put them in stasis until the cure is found. Simple really."

Lily sighed, but nodded. Though she wasn't sure it was going to work.

This disease was spreading far too quickly for her liking. Not only were Sirius and Remus is danger, but Severus, the Dark Lord, and even the animals and creatures! Two dozen more beings had been brought in in the past week!

Sighing once again, the woman returned to her own imposed work station. As a Runes Mistress, she should be able to think of some kind of way to stall the effects of this disease.


"Tom, I have seen the announcement and have come to offer my assistance."

Voldemort glared at the old man, who was blinding the room with his gold and pink vestiture. No one had any business wearing anything like that, ever. It just wasn't right or natural.

"Albus, what could you possibly offer that we aren't already working on?"

There was no point in telling him to stop using the name that Voldemort so hated. The man would do it anyway. Some tripe about 'being proud of yourself and where you come from' or whatever.

"I can offer eighty years of Alchemy knowledge."

Damn it. He could. Voldemort had only been an Alchemist for the past three decades. Dumbledore held much more knowledge than he did at present. The man probably didn't even publish all of his findings. Probably too scared that someone would get their hands on them and use them for 'evil purposes'.

With a sigh, the Dark Lord turned to the man and asked, "What have you got?"

The bloody twinkle was back!

"May I see the infected first?"

Voldemort waved an inviting hand toward the long row of beds. Everything had been moved to St. Mungo's, where an entire wing on the Second Floor had been cleared away for this particular situation.

The Second Floor was dedicated to Magical Bugs and Diseases. So far he was willing to classify it as a disease.

Dumbledore hummed quietly to himself as he looked over the long line of beings, ranging from Wizards, to Goblins, and some Werewolves and Vampires as well.

Dumbledore waved his wand several times, and looked over the recorded status of each person.

"All Dark Magical Cores. All considered adults however, judging by their maturity. Skin seems to have darkened considerably and has reached an unpleasant density not usually found in these species."

Voldemort blinked when Dumbledore transfigured his own wand into a knife and suddenly tried to cut one of the patients. His protests died on his lips, when nothing happened. Not injury. No blood. The knife simply made contact and the force meeting the resistance of the skin, jerked it back.

"Their bodies seem to be hardening. How long has Sirius been like this?"

Clearing his throat, the Dark Lord said, "Nearly two weeks. He's the second oldest of the infected. Lupin was the first."

Dumbledore nodded. "Who was the next human to fall ill?"

Voldemort pointed to a bed at the end of the room. "Rodolphus Lestrange. One day later."

Dumbledore repeated the process he used on Black, including the knife bit, but this time, there seemed to be a little give in the skin, before the knife was pushed back again.

"Dear Merlin, this is bad."

"We know." People were becoming ill left and right. Of course it was bad.

Dumbledore waved off his frustrated snark. "Whatever illness this is, it is forcing the magic of the diseased being, to kill them slowly. They are petrifying from the inside, in a way. By knocking them unconscious, you have most likely saved them from not only a lot of pain, but a lot of fear."

Petrifying from the inside? Voldemort shivered at the very thought of it. The thought of the heart slowly down and forcibly freezing in place. Of being unable to breathe as the lungs ceased functioning.

"This could fall under Runes, Alchemy, Potions, Transfiguration, either of them, really. This is turning something into another thing. From what I can tell, the process cannot be reversed.

"Petrificus Totalus only freezes the outside of the body, leaving the organs to do their duties freely. A stasis charm on a living being does basically the same, though it is more like forcing the victim into a comatose state. It slows down bodily functions a little and can slow the spreading of disease, or poison even.

"This is not like that."

Dumbledore tapped Rodolphus' skin. "With each day that passes, the skin hardens all the more. As you can see, there is a little give here, but only a little. Sirius had no give. The same with the others. They are turning into stone very slowly. It would probably be worse if they were actively using their magic right now."

Salazar, Voldemort was just not ready for this!

"Lucky for you, you have a few Rune Masters and Mistresses at your disposal, an Master Alchemist who is friends with none other than Nicholas Flamel himself, as well as many others with the skills necessary to solve this danger."

Dumbledore snapped his fingers, and a beam of bright light filled the room. Voldemort knew what it was immediately, and didn't even blink when Fawkes landed on the old man's shoulder.

"Phoenix tears have healing powers," he heard the old man murmur. "Fawkes, could you perhaps cry on this young man's arm for me?"

There was a soothing croon, and the Phoenix's great head bent over the unconscious wizard.

A few seconds later, Dumbledore nodded. "Not even a Phoenix can heal this sort of damage."

Voldemort's heart sank. Not even the healing powers of a Phoenix could stop it. What hope did they have then?

"But the tears have managed to soften the particular area up. We'll need to test this out further."

Look over his shoulder, the old man suggested, "Why don't you bring Harry here as well. I'm sure he'd like to be involved directly."

Voldemort didn't even want to think about what the sparkle in his eyes meant.

Not at all.


Harry sniffled, which wasn't the usual thing for him to do. If something sad happened, he tended to just ignore it until later, when he was alone. Unfortunately, things just weren't going as planned these days!

So soon after starting his own business, the magical community of Great Britain assaulted with some unknown disease that was taking down every magical being with a Dark Magical Core. From humans to non-humans, and beings to non-beings.

Not only had his godfather's fallen ill, but even people he knew.

The twins had come by hours previous to inform him that Rigel had been pulled out of Hogwarts for the foreseeable future. Bellatrix was too cautious, and had simply taken her children home, intent on teaching them there instead.

Several other Dark families and those with Dark oriented children had to be taken out for precautionary measures.

Draco Malfoy had been taken by the illness only a few days ago, and Hermione had been most aggravated over it. And they were only in the beginning stages of their relationship, but she had been greatly worried and had decided to spend her free time trying to determine exactly what was going on. Going so far as to bring in Muggle methods of study to aid her research.

Having Albus Dumbledore and thereby extension Nicholas Flamel on hand, was a blessing. But how were they to solve anything in none of them knew exactly what to do?

Dumbledore's observations had been taken with equal relief and worry. It was nice to be able to understand more of what was going on, but it was also hard to know that there was no possible way to just fix anything.

Snape had been in his potions lab for days, trying to find some way to counteract the effects of the disease.

All he'd gotten so far was a particular paste that he had brewed, in which an entire bottle of Dittany and Phoenix Tears were added in for ten batches. Applying the paste to the skin of the infected helped slow down the effects of the disease, giving him more time to find a cure. He'd then come up with a particular tea that had to given to the infected daily in hopes of staving off the internal effects of the disease.

Unfortunately, there were some who were far too small and therefore, they got the full brunt of the disease at once. Tiny bodies were easier to infect after all.

And Harry understood that she was older and her immune system wasn't what it used to be, but that didn't mean it didn't hurt him any less than it did.

So yes, he was sniffling and maybe crying a little bit because his Kneazle, the feline he'd had for thirteen years altogether, had fallen ill with the disease. And not only had she fallen, but she took it all on at once.

When Harry got a Fire-Call from his mother(who had finally gotten home after almost three days at St. Mungo's) that Shelob had gone outside, he'd been worried. He'd gone over immediately to get her back inside in order to explain to her that it was dangerous outside until further notice. She was smart, she would understand and while she would be unhappy, she woudl still do as he asked.

And what did he find?

Some animals, like cats and dogs, had a tendency to run away when it was their time. They sought out secluded areas for themselves and would spend their last moments alone. Some did it so their masters/friends wouldn't see them at their worst. Others did it in order to just be alone. And some didn't want to worry others.

Shelob had been fiercely independent. She did her own thing whenever she wanted and made sure that Harry knew that she didn't need him. But she had wanted him. And that was why she considered him kin.

Shelob had loved the catnip bed in the back yard. It was placed as far from the house as possible so she could just lounge in the sunlight and enjoy herself.

That was where Harry found her. On her side, stretched out like she used to be when rolling around in her catnip. The two things that stuck out most were the blank, green eyes and the puffy tail sticking straight out.

And that was when Harry Potter burst into tears for the second time in the last month.


Nagini was perfectly aware of what was going on. Her master had been sure to tell her about the danger, and had even placed several spells and enchantments on her to protect her to the best of his ability.

He'd also told her that Harry's pet died and that he could use some cheering up.

Nagini was good at cheering her master up, so how much harder could it be to cheer Harry up?

She even made him something.

§Are you not coming?§ she asked her master,

He shook his head. §I do not believe that I am the one who should console him. I wouldn't know the first thing to do. But he likes animals and he wouldn't get annoyed with you, so it's just better this way.§

Nagini personally believed that Harry wouldn't mind the company, but even she wouldn't push it. While felines weren't interesting to her, she knew that loss of a friend or familiar could be bad.

Her master opened the door to the shop for her, and let her slither inside. He did not follow.

When Harry came out from his 'back room', he smiled and waved. Nagini slithered on over.

§Where's Voldemort? Or did you sneak off again? You shouldn't be out when you can get sick§

§My master has protected me already, worry not. Master brought me here to make you stop shedding salty water,§ Nagini announced. §I made you something!§

Hanging on the end of her tail, was a green bag that her master had gotten for her gift. She wouldn't have been able to carrying it by itself because the shape slid through her scales.

Harry gave a small smile and accepted the bag with murmured gratitude. Nagini slithered up to the counter in order to watch him open it.

§Master said that two-leggers call it 'finger painting' but as I don't have these 'fingers' I had to use the tip of my tail.§

It was a colourful rendition of a common feline. In the center was a blob of black and there were two, large green dots toward the top. A dab of pink in the center, and some white stripes on either side of what was the face, for whiskers. Nagini was immensely proud of it. It was her best work yet.

§Thank you, Nagini. I'll hang it up in my kitchen,§ Harry said, staring at the painting intently.

She poked her tongue out, scenting the salt. She could also see the water flowing from his eyes.

§Why do you still shed salty water? Are you not happy?§

The boy reached out and wrapped his arms around the serpent. Her master had done this a few times when he was smaller. It was called a 'hug'. Hugs were for comfort when a two-legger was hurting.

Nagini nuzzled the boy's cheek and settled in. Maybe not how her master had wanted her to help Harry, but this seemed to be good as well.


Lily knew that this wasn't what Harry had wanted when they had decided to study up on the disease. However, only few had died and if they were going to develop a cure, they had to study the infected, those alive and dead.

So yes, Lily had to use Shelob's body as a test subject and no, she wasn't happy or proud of it.

However, with the aid of some Goblin Healers, as well as several Masters/Mistresses, they had a better chance of studying the bodies left behind.

Two humans, one Goblin, a Kneazle, and a Vampire.

Severus had studied the blood, urine, feces, saliva, sweat, hair, and even skin of each and had marked down all of his observations, which had coincided with their Goblin's coworkers' observations.

There were particles lingering behind, much like black ice, except they didn't melt. They couldn't be found in the living bodies because they hadn't died yet. Therefore, this only took full effect when the beings in questions were fully dead.

When the Dark Lord had been made aware of it, he'd taken a personal look at the particles and had recognized them.

The man had verbally cursed up a storm and even shattered a nearby vase in his anger.

"It's from the Isle of Normi," the man had said. "The stone I had used to create that Crystal Ball that could hone in on someone's magic and then steal it from them. I had collected a large amount and sent it to the Unspeakables to study and try to find the full properties of it. Apparently, there is more to it than what has already been discovered."

"Can you possibly get us some samples of this stone?" Lily asked, reigning in her dislike because there were more important things at stake than her dislike of a man.

"Easily."

Lord Voldemort swept from the room, his robes billowing much like Sev's often did.

The redhead sent her friend a look. "Are we going to end up working with Unspeakables?"

"Undoubtedly."

Damn.


The two women sighed. The Dark Lord had demanded that they 'come up to the surface' in order to share the results of their studies of what they chose to call Caelite.

Caelite looked like the sky on a starry night. Black and speckled with various colours that swirled around each other.

It was also possessed a sort of sentience and could recognize magical cores easily and each piece seemed to have their own inner core if that made sense. An energy all of their own.

The particular stone had to be kept in special jars that blocked out magic, lest the stones begin absorbing whatever magic there was nearest to them. They'd learned that early on when one of their coworkers collapsed from just walking by the collection of stones.

And now some moron had come along and created a deadly disease with Caelite as the base property.

Bloody wonderful.

Though at least they could share their findings.


There was almost an unearthly wailing that pierced the air. Harry had never heard anybody scream in such a way before, and it made the hairs on his arms stand on end. What could possibly have caused somebody to scream like that?

Bellatrix Lestrange burst into the quarantined wing at St. Mungo's, looking around frantically. Harry had never seen her looking so terrified before, and he had to admit that it was unnatural and it unnerved him a bit. If this was enough to make even Bellatrix Lestrange worry, then they all were fucked.

"It's my Lord!" the woman wailed, her strident voice carrying throughout the room. "He's caught the Merlin damned sickness!"

Harry had experienced fear many times in his life. Had lived through some incredibly dangerous situations during the tournament. Had seen some grotesque stuff as well. Yet nothing he'd ever experience could ever inspire the horror he felt when those words left the woman's lips.

Voldemort, the greatest Dark Lord in history, the Lord of the Slytherin Line. The one man that represented power and unbending strength to thousands, had fallen to the disease.

Voldemort was… nice, in a way. He was definitely still a twat. Annoying and aggravating at times, yes. But Harry liked him. He couldn't help that he liked the man. He was just likable in Harry's eyes. And Harry knew more about him than a lot of people did.

Yes, he was still annoyed. Yes, he was a bit hurt over the tournament thing. No, he did not wish a fatal illness on the man. No, he did not want someone whom he'd managed to form a bond with - on his own, if it should be noted! - to leave him so soon! Harry was just losing everyone recently, and Voldemort could not be added to the list.

He just couldn't. Harry didn't think he'd be able to handle that as well.

Holding back the sudden urge to cry, and great Hecate he was doing that a lot recently, Harry stiffened his shoulders and asked, "Where is he?"

Bellatrix's blood shot eyes landed on him. Stormy grey clouded over with fear and worry. A genuine show of emotion. She was not putting on an act in order to unnerve people. She truly cared about Voldemort's well-being. It touched Harry's emotions in a way that he rarely felt before.

"He's at his manor. The Head Elf came to tell me that he was unresponsive. Has been for hours. Nagini is listless too."

Nagini was a Dark creature as well. So not only is Voldemort in danger, but so was Nagini for being around him.

It hurt to be reminded that the people one looked up to in life were just human. Just as susceptible to illness. Just as capable of failure. It was a hard thing to grasp, having those you admire, torn down before your eyes. To see someone so strong, lose their strength in one way or another.

He never thought Remus and Sirius could be taken down so easily, yet look at what happened. He certainly never thought that Voldemort of all people could be so affected. He was Voldemort, for Merlin's sake! Voldemort was larger than life itself, so of course Harry might have rightly assumed like the rest of Magical Britain that he was above such meager things as illness.

The man himself as well as Dumbledore admitted that he was immortal! Apparently, living forever did not come with immunity to sickness.

Bugger.

Harry sighed. "The Elves aren't ill in any way?"

"Not from what I've seen."

Bellatrix had actually gone over? "Were you in his home? Did you touch him?!" Harry asked, suddenly frantic and worried. Rigel's father was under already and if his mother was going around touching those riddled with the disease, she could be taken away as well. He did not want to be the one to inform the young man that his mother had become ill.

"I used several barrier charms," the woman asserted with a stiff jaw. "Though at this point I'm not sure of what to do now. I went over and put him in stasis until further notice because I wasn't sure." Her shoulders slumped.

"You're his most faithful, so wouldn't you be in charge until he gets better?"

She shook her head. "His next of kin would be, which would be you or your father. Though he recognized only you as a relative," she added, looking pensive.

Suddenly, an almost manic looked entered her eyes. "You! He chose you to be his consort, meaning he chose you to lead beside him. As consort, you would take over his duties should he not be available!"

The teen reared back, almost scared of her sudden excitement. "I can't lead an entire community! I can barely stand people general!"

"You could lead if you accepted the position of being his consort. You'd have power over the Slytherin estate as well as anything my Lord has power over. His office contains all the documents he handles and no one but him can enter it. But as his consort, you could go in by right of family. You'd probably be able to override all of his passwords as they are in Parseltongue only.

"And people would much prefer you as a leader than me."

True. But he didn't want to be the man's consort! Not yet at least. There was still so much growing to be done between them and Harry wasn't ready for such a leap.

He was doing well, but he seriously needed some more work to do before Harry caved to his desires. Whatever they may be.

"I think you should do it," Dumbledore said, finally speaking for the first time since Bellatrix entered the room. The man looked sure of his words. "Opposite halves of Magical Britain would not wish either Bellatrix or I to take charge at this point in time. But you are a young and fresh face with nothing but good standing and reputation. Should they find out, then hey wouldn't riot."

Before Harry could protest, Dumbledore raised a quelling hand. "I know that you want to marry for love. I know that Tom has to earn your heart, as he should. However this is more than just both of you now. Magical Britain needs hope. They need to have faith that things can and will get better. You were supposed to be a Slytherin, you know how the game works. Also, someone needs to get to his paperwork somehow, otherwise Magical Britain's society will deteriorate soon enough."

Why did it always come down to what was better for everyone else? Why couldn't Harry just be selfish for once and not care?

But also, he wasn't so heartless as to wish such an illness on anyone. Creature or human. Even if he wasn't fond of humans. Not after seeing what happened to Shelob. Even if he didn't like people as a whole, he couldn't bring himself to just leave this to take them.

And what if it spread to other nations?

What then?

"What can I do? I'm already trying to figure this out in my free time. I'm just an eighteen year old. I'm not equipped for this type of leadership."

Bellatrix snorted. "You won the Tournament, proving that you are the best! You can handle it. My Lord has placed so much faith in you already."

'Placed so much faith in you' had hit him hard. If it was the truth, then it had to be the nicest thing that the man had ever said about him. At least, he was sure it was.

But what kind of duties would he have to take up?

"I'll help you," said Dumbledore. "I'll even vow to be as unbiased as possible."

Bellatrix quirked a brow at the offer, but said nothing, leaving Harry to consider.

Accept Voldemort's desire for him to be his consort and then take on the man's responsibilities until he could be awakened? Say no and let the entire community fall into a rapid decline and possible Depression?

Honestly, even he could tell the much more preferable decision just by the sound of it. But the consort part still annoyed him.

"If I agree, he doesn't have a right to my life or body, does he?"

Dumbledore shook his head vehemently. "Tom is not the sort to do such a thing either, I assure you. He abhors such actions. He will have right to contest some of your decisions if they might bring negative light into his family's name, however."

Sighing for the millionth time that day, Harry eventually nodded.

Raising his wand, he intoned, "I, Harry James Potter, accept Tom Marvolo Riddle's hand in marriage. So mote it be."

The golden light enveloping his wrist was blinding.


 

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Chapter Text

A/N: Hello, people!

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Luna smiled and patted Harry's hand. "I can't give you the answers to everything. These are things that you will have to find on your own. All I can tell you is that the people you hold most dear, won't die."

Harry's shoulders slumped, and Luna felt for him.

She could only see the resolution, but she could not see the journey to find it. So she could not give him the answers he was seeking. Nor would she if she had them.

Luna had faith in Harry. This impromptu job was surprising, yes, but he could handle it. She knew it. She had Seen it. Harry would find a new side of himself because of this, and gain the confidence he needed to progress his growing relationship with the Dark Lord. That was what mattered in the long run.

"The Dark Lord's contribution to the cure was enough to get the Unspeakables working more diligently. Severus Snape is working even harder with your mum. You have to focus on Magical Britain now. Put the disease from your mind and simply work."


Fucking Voldemort. The man goes through hell and back in order to ensure that his familiar is protected from every kind of disaster known to mankind, but never once did he considered placing any spells over himself to protect himself. Did he not consider that despite being immortal he was still susceptible to illness?

And yes, maybe Harry was being a little unfair, but how could anyone blame him?

Nagini was wrapped around Harry's shoulders as she had met him when he stepped through the front door of Slytherin Manor. Honestly, he hadn't really thought so far ahead that he would actually take up Voldemort's offer and marry him lawfully let alone magically. So he hadn't considered that he would be moving into this huge arse manor that he was going to have to get acquainted with.

The Head House Elf had excitedly greeted him as 'Consort Slytherin'. They didn't even see the ring of gold that had appeared around his wrist when he'd verbally accepted Voldemort's claim to him, thereby marrying them magically. Harry didn't even know how they knew, but he wasn't going to ask.

§Master has talked about you often,§ Nagini told him.

Oh. It was kind of obvious actually. The man liked to hear himself speak.

Harry had looked to the Elf and asked, "What is your name?"

"Vashti. Vashti is Master Voldy's Head Elf, she is."

Harry had withheld a snort at 'Master Voldy' and simply asked the creature to show him to the study. Where the important things were.

The creature beckoned him inside and lead him up a floor and toward the left hand side of the manor where they stopped in front of an elaborate door with silver handles. The handles were in the shape of serpents, with glowing red eyes.

Harry reached out to grasp the left handle, and the golden ring around his wrist glowed a bit alongside the serpent's eyes, before the door popped open with a low hiss.

Once he and Voldemort legally consummated their magical marriage, the gold with turn silver. In magic they were married. In law, not so much. The final act had to be done in order for the law to officially take place.

Harry shook his head, not wanting to consider that just yet. Not yet at least.

There was a pile of paperwork on the desk and Harry groaned. Yes, he'd been trained in this particular work, but that didn't mean he wanted to do it. No one in their right mind wanted to do paperwork. Especially if it dealt with foreigners.

§Master set a Parseltongue password for his drawers. You simply need to say 'Salazar',§ Nagini told him.

Voldemort honestly needed to get an imagination. For the man who came up with W.H.A.L.E.s and managed to make it work together, he was surprisingly lacking in imagination. Harry was disappointed. He'd have to take the man aside one day and correct him. This could not be allowed to continue.

§Salazar,§ he hissed.

The drawers all popped open with a low hiss, much like with the door to the office.

Harry sighed and sank into the cushioned chair. At least he had somewhere nice to sit while he suffered.

Shuffling through the parchments, Harry's eyes caught a book.

It was black, and had a leather cover. The tips were outlined in gold, and on the back it said, 'Tom Marvolo Riddle'. A journal or a diary?

§That is my master's special book. It's like me,§ Nagini told him, curling tighter around his shoulders. Her tongue flicked out for a second.

§Nagini, you are vastly more important than a collection of parchment.§

The serpent's tongue brushed against his cheek. §Flatterer. However, the book is like me because it's important to my master. It's protected because we share essence of my master.§

Essence? The hell?

§When master wants to talk to himself, he'll write in the book and the him in the book writes back. They stroke each other's egos,§ the snake hissed, shaking her head.

Voldemort wrote in the book in order to talk to himself, because he was also in the book? What kind of Dark Magic did it take in order to implant one's conscience into a book? And why did Voldemort have to do such a thing? Wasn't his own mind enough?

§Voldemort's mind is connected to this?§ asked Harry, thinking that if they were connected, then he could probably speak to Voldemort even though he was unconscious.

§No. A piece of his soul is. I have one too. But it's a secret, so don't tell anyone.§

Harry almost winced at the thought. Horcruxes. There was an entry about them in the Black Family Library. They were considered the worst kind of Dark Magic to use, because it involved Soul Magick. Mutilating the Soul was dangerous. It was maddening and incredibly foolish!

No wonder Voldemort looked like a snake/human hybrid! Horcruxes ensured a kind of immortality, but it was more like being tethered to the world. That was it. They twisted the magic severely, because half of the soul was taken to make one. And according to Nagini, both she and the book were Horcruxes.

Meaning Voldemort had to be operating on only a quarter of a soul at least. If he made others, then how much of a soul was he using currently? And the man had called it his 'foolishness of youth'. Both he and Dumbeldore had said such. So did Dumbeldore know as well?

It was a good thing that only family members could get into the room. The Consort Ring allowed him entrance because he was now magically connected to Voldemort. Voldemort would have a similar ring on his own wrist, proving their 'alliance'. Harry didn't want to know what would happen should anyone know about Voldemort's Horcruxes. He resolved to keep the information to himself.

Harry set the book down gently. If a part of Voldemort was in it, then maybe they would be able to help him. Even if it was a younger piece of him, the man's intelligence was his most striking talent. So even a younger Voldemort should be able to understand these things.

Reaching for the quill resting on the desk, Harry dipped it in the inkwell and began his message.

Hello,

My name is Harry James Potter, and I am by magic, Consort Slytherin.

Magical Britain has been taken by some kind of disease that is infecting only those with Dark Magic.

Shortly after discovering one of the main components in the disease, Voldemort ended up falling ill, leaving me to take over his duties as leader until a cure is found.

Nagini told me about your conversations with him.

Can you help me?

The words disappeared, sinking into the page. Then slowly, ever so slowly, an elegant script returned.

Hello, Harry Potter, my name is Tom Riddle.

And I will help you to the best of my ability.

But I need to know everything that has happened, first.

Any detail you give has meaning.


Rigel Lestrange had been sequestered in his home, not allowed to leave for anything. He did however, get to have visitors that were intensely purified before entering the premises. Such as the twins who were out in the entryway of the courtyard, just beyond the wards, allowing his mother to put them through all manner of spells and cleanses.

He watched, waiting for them to finish so he could see them. He hadn't been able to see any of his friends recently, because of the disease. His mum had been losing it more than normal, and his brothers had been extra protective.

However, when it was finished, the twins weren't lead into the house like the other times.

Whatever they had told his mum, had her even more frantic, and she grabbed both of them but the arms and Dispparated immediately.

Rigel slumped against the sill. Not fair!

"Rigel, come play chess," Serpens ordered from the drawing room.

Pouting, the younger teen went to join his siblings. The twins better have a good explanation.


Harry sighed. If dealing with paperwork wasn't bad enough, the Head Elf of Slytherin Manor, Vashti, just came and informed him that there was something wrong with Voldemort.

The man had succumbed to the Dark Magic eating disease, what more could there be? What more could possibly go wrong right now?

When he entered the man's cold chambers - honestly, he thought they would be a lot more comfortable - the Elf was worrying about the wizard's body. Voldemort was in the center of a large, circular bed, where the black hangings were spelled to float above their heads, letting them see properly.

"Vashti is to be applying the special paste from Master Snape, and then giving Master Voldy the special tea, but Master Voldy is different again. He wasn't this stiff last night or the night before! Vashti has been attentive!"

Harry approached carefully, not really wanting to look at the naked man while he was unconscious. It didn't seem right. Yes, he was actually a Healer and it wouldn't be creepy if he was doing his job, but it still made him feel bad and awkward. It was Voldemort, damn it!

Tom Riddle's features were froze in perfect repose. The man was lying in the very center of the bed, the duvet pulled up to his waist. His chest bare to their view, covered in a light sheen of sweat and rising slowly in the forced stasis he was in.

Reaching out, Harry placed a hand on the man's chest, to test the stiffness himself. Indeed, it was as if rigor mortis was setting in quickly.

"I would think that it would take longer for him to succumb to the illness because he has the largest Magical Core around," Harry murmured.

The Elf nodded. "Master's core is large, but he uses a lot of magic to keep his glamour up. Vashti doesn't approve, but master does as master pleases."

Merlin damn it! Of fucking course that was it! One day Harry was going to punch him in the face. He sorely needed it.

Voldemort's glamour was using a steady portion of his magic. It was stated clearly by Dumbledore that using magic while ill would make the disease worse. That was why people were knocked unconscious so they couldn't use magic any further.

Voldemort's body was stiffening faster because he was still using magic, even when in a forced coma!

Glaring in frustration, Harry placed his hands on the man's glamoured chest and forced his magic over the man's form, dismantling the stupid glamour as quickly as possible. Feeling around, he could spot several holes in the magical web, and attacked them viciously.

Slowly, ever so slowly, the glamour fell way, and Voldemort's body was fully revealed. Harry's hands still on his chest, which was incredibly smooth and covered in scales in certain places.

Harry's entire face flamed and he pulled away. "He should be good now! Apply the paste!"

He fled, the memory of Voldemort's elongated body and his lower half barely being covered by his duvet, the feel of his smooth skin, forever seared into his memory.

Harry began wringing his shaking hands. He tried to ignore the mild panic setting in as he realised what he had just done.

Voldemort had been dying faster. Voldemort had almost died.

He wasn't feeling well now. Too much for one day.


"Potter!"

Bellatrix's voice rang out across the grounds of the Dark Lord's manor. As she was one of the Inner Circle Knights, she had personal access to the main grounds, though not every room in the building.

The Head Elf was smart enough to just open the door instead of questioning her. Very smart.

Behind her, were the twin redhead menaces. The news itself was worrying and while she'd just love to go and handle it herself, it would be smarter to consult the boy she'd pushed into the position of Consort Slytherin. After making such a big deal about him being in charge, she couldn't back out now. Not after manipulating him to accept his place at her Lord's side.

A manipulation Dumbledore seemed to agree with strangely enough.

But this was not the time to be thinking about the barmy old coot! She needed Potter!

Said young wizard was coming down the corridor, no doubt already aware that he had guests. He was looking a little rough. Sleep deprived.

"Bellatrix, what's wrong?" he asked, voice weary and tired.

"Your little friends here discovered something important."

Shoving the two forward, she sent them a sharp look. "Speak."

"George, Fred, what's going on?"

The twins only shared a minute look before they exploded.

"We had been skulking around Knockturn Alley, looking for some cheap potions ingredients."

"And then we saw that woman, you know, the one Hermione's been whinging about for the past month and a half."

"Umbridge," the twin on the left explained.

"The toad-like one."

"The really gross one."

"The one that wants to label a bunch of creatures as Dark and Dangerous and have their accessibility limited. As well as their rights."

"Which is really confusing, seeing as you'd think being Dark would make them okay to the Dark Lord, but whatever."

"Anyway, she was walking beside Mundungus Fletcher-"

"-he's a low level thief and a terrible liar. Not someone you should care about, don't worry."

"She was passing him some of those Muggle needles and telling him to find as many Dark Creatures as he could, and inject them with whatever was inside them."

"She then handed him a few Galleons."

Bellatrix was bouncing. She was itching to destroy something or someone. Preferably this Umbitch. She wanted to do things. Things that were borderline illegal. Things that would be fun.

Potter looked horrified, yet not surprised. "Luna said something about her being a problem later," he mumbled. "I guess this was it. And this is 'later'. She works at the Ministry, right?"

Bellatrix nodded. "In the DRCMC. Not that she wants to work there. She's been trying to reach an administrative position for years but no one trusts her. Besides, she's the most worthless worker in the department. She was a Slytherin a few years below me, and she was particularly pathetic in classes but pretended that she was the best."

"So you're telling me that this woman who was lacklustre in school and has a dead end job that has gone nowhere for like thirty years, somehow managed to create the disease that's slowly killing off the Dark Magical Cores? Is she a Dark Witch?"

Bellatrix nodded. "However, I'm not sure she personally created it. She doesn't have a Mastery in anything and her skills aren't good enough to create anything beyond the Black Quill, which was a simple piece of charm work. Also, she apparently suggested Dark Creatures, not wizards or witches. So either she didn't know that all those with Dark Cores would be affected, or she's stupid. Both are possible."

"So we'll need to find her schedule and then take her into custody when she wouldn't expect it."

Potter turned to her and said, "Would you be willing to use Legilimency calmly if she chooses not to talk?"

Bellatrix could feel the grin spreading. He was practically giving her the best gift anyone ever could! She decided that having Potter as a stand-in leader was great!

"Do I have to be gentle?" the woman asked, voice barely a whisper. Almost sultry.

Potter and the twins shared a worried look, but the young man shook his head. "You don't need to be kind, but I would like her cognizant once finished. If she is the one who created this, she needs to be alive for punishment. If not, you can have her once we get everything we need from her."

Who knew that Potter could be so vindictive? It was a good look on him.

Bellatrix was sure that the jumpy feeling in her stomach was pride. A year ago, would he have been just as okay with it? Who knew?

But she was so very much with this plan!


Dumbledore stared at the young man who had decided to take on such a heavy burden all for the sake of people he probably didn't know or care about.

In Albus' mind, sacrificing for others came natural. It seemed like the right thing to do. However, he'd long ago realised that not everyone felt the same way. Slytherins in particular, looked after themselves and their own first.

Tom and Gellert had been right when they told him that not everyone wanted to be happy and helpful all the time. And Tom reprimanding him over how teaching such a thing was wrong, and forcing children to believe that their duty in life was to sacrifice themselves for others, had opened his eyes in a sense.

Harry Potter was not doing this for the betterment of the magical society he was a part of. The boy cared about Tom and his own family. He cared about the creatures and animals that were being affected. He allowed himself to be tricked by Bellatrix into a position he actually could not get out of now, all because he cared. But only for certain people.

And he was honestly trying.

The whole of Magical Britain were unaware that Tom was ill. They did not know that he had been taken over by the sickness. And it was a smart idea to keep them in the dark. To not let them know what was going on in full.

It would be dangerous.

Already, since his return, he'd been confronted by several people who wanted to revive the Order of the Phoenix in an attempt to fight against Tom once again. But things were fine as they were. Tom had actually made things better than worse.

Dumbledore did not leave the prison thinking about 'taking back control' of a land he never had control of in the first place. He had a goal. A job to do. And once his job was finished, then he too would be finished.

This was about more than controlling a group of people. This was more than getting the revenge that some people wanted it desperately.

This was life. The life of Tom. The life of Harry.

Two people who had managed to find each other, despite their shortcomings. Who managed to form a bond of sorts, despite not understand exactly what they felt for each other.

And it wasn't love. But it could be.

Admiration was there. Respect and worry as well.

They certainly liked one another.

And now that Tom had fallen, Harry was left to handle the drama and fear on his own. He was now faced with the reality that life wasn't as easy as it seemed and that danger could spring up at any moment.

Tom was immortal in a sense, but he was still human. And Tom's humanity had been proven. When Tom awoke, he wasn't going to be happy, but this could be beneficial for Dumbledore's own plan.

Harry dedicated himself to the work he was struggling with. He stopped at St. Mungo's on the regular to see how the progress for the cure was going.

He was giving his all for this cause.

And while Albus had made many mistakes and let himself be blinded but the 'Light', he had vowed to help the best he could.

And he would.


Our relations with France are apparently strained.

Which I'm surprised by actually because Voldemort never gave any indication that there was something wrong.

Nor does he broadcast his business for everyone to know.

But still.

Unexpected.

What good would that do for anyone?

Scaring the general public would only make things harder on him and everybody else.

To keep this to himself and his most trusted was the best thing to do.

It could induce mass panic.

It could also alert the French that not everything in Magical Britain is as it should be.

Allowing them to have any kind of lead would put MB at a disadvantage.

Not smart.

But what am I supposed to do in regards to this sudden revelation?

I can speak the barest hints of French, so it isn't like I can converse with any foreign dignitaries.

And I'm not sure the training I received for being an Heir of an Ancient House, is going to give me the help I need to deal with high ranking people from foreign lands.

Also, no one can enter or leave the country, meaning this has to be conducted via Fire-Call!

I have sighed in exasperation, in case you were wondering.

Anyway, there is actually a Runic Circle you can create for yourself that will work as a translator.

I can't believe you didn't learn that.

What is Hogwarts teaching these days?

Okay, one, I am a Magizoologist and a Healer, not a Rune Master.

Second, thanks for the info.

You are like a child sometimes.

I'm only 18, what do you expect?

I was much more mature when I was your age.

Hell, I'm technically only 16 right now, so I am more mature than you are and I'm younger than you.

*scoffs* Yeah, right.

And you and Voldemort converse on a near constant basis, according to Nagini.

He's probably filled you with all sorts of information.

So no, you've been around for like seventy years, gathering information.

*throws you the two finger salute*

So suck it.

Why do you keep doing that?

What?

That strange thing with the asterisks.

So that you know what my reactions are.

You can't see my face, can you?

No.

Unfortunately.

I'm certain you're lovely to behold though.

Can we get back to the planning?

This is getting weird.

And stop flirting with me!

Sure thing, darling.

I'm not your darling.

Why do you keep saying things like that?!

It's creepy and unnecessary.

Because Voldemort has told me a lot about you and I can tell that he… feels something for you.

From meeting you myself, I see just why he likes you so much.

Is Voldemort this suave?

He could be.

Unfortunately, his experiences in life have left him a little unsure of what to do around those he is smitten with.

If you were a mere strumpet that he wanted for his bed, he could have had you in his arms in an instant.

But you are different.

He wants more from you than he did any of his lovers.

Merlin, he gushed over how you liked his true appearance.

He wants you the most.

Oooooookaaaaaaay!

What's a strumpet?

A whore.

You mean a sex worker.

What?

I prefer the term 'sex worker' and leave it at that.

Fine?

So this conversation keeps taking strange turns.

There are just some things I don't want to know.

In any case, please don't tell me about his past lovers!

Ever!

I don't want to know.

Tell me about how to deal with French wizards.

That would be good!

Why do you want to avoid any reminders that Voldemort has feelings for you?

Why try to hide that you feel something in return?

Because I don't even know if what you say is the truth.

For all I know, you're trying to butter me up to him so I'll consent to marrying him fully and having his children!

You already did by accepting the position of Consort Slytherin.

No.

I consented to taking the position of consort in order to help.

That was the magical marriage.

But by law, we are not fully married and I am not required to finish it or have his children.

There has been no legal contract drawn up yet.

My body is still my body.

My mind is still my mind.

My soul is still my soul.

My heart is still my heart.

He doesn't hold right to any of them and until I give him leave, he won't.

I see you feel strongly about this.

Yes.

I won't have a loveless marriage filled with days where we avoid each other.

Where I become bitter over things.

I'm 18.

I'm not ready to take this sudden leap so early on.

Besides, what exactly does he want?

Is he like Malfoy, who prefers his wife to work with other women to learn the gossip?

Is he going to be a control freak?

We both know he likes control.

I have no proof beyond what others have told me and some of the things he's done.

I believe that if you want something you are going to have to tell him instead of assuming he will know.

I have never been in a relationship, but I have witnessed many a blunder.

There is always one who seems to assume that their significant other should know exactly what they mean and want all the time.

The fact is, a 'good relationship' is built on trust and communication.

How do you expect to set boundaries if you say nothing about them?

How do you expect him to respect your choices, if you never talk about them?

Relationships are a two-way road.

That has to be the most useful thing you've said thus far.

Never mind all of the other things I have told you.

So when Lord Cockwomble wakes up, we should sit down and discuss what exactly we're both looking for in a relationship?

Don't you mean your relationship?

Don't push it.

Be glad that I am considering a relationship beyond whatever the hell we have now.

Then I can ask for no more.

Good.

Now tell me more about this damn Runic Circle and exactly where I can find the instructions on how to make one.

Or, you know, you can list the instructions right now.

That would work just fine.

You'll need nine kilograms of ground up crystal.

Clear crystal.

And make sure that it's actually real crystal.

Don't let anyone con you with look-alikes.

I know what clear crystal looks like.

Bloody hell, Tom!


"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! UNHAND ME THIS INSTANT!"

Hermione looked up from her desk, and leaned out of her cubicle in order to get a good look at what was going on. Several of her other coworkers were doing the very same, curious to see what sort of drama was unfolding on the main floor of the DRCMC.

Dolores Umbridge was being dragged away from her cubicle by Aurors. Two leading the front, two holding her hostage, and two in the back. All of them had their wands out.

Umbridge was swearing vengeance upon all of them and threatening them should they not release her. Not smart.

"What do you think she did?" Morrigan Freeson whispered.

"Who cares? Let's just hope she doesn't come back," Hermione answered, returning to her work, not caring to pay attention any further.


Severus Snape was honestly far too old for this, and yet it was all happening anyway. Yet when dealing with Unspeakables, he could not go in with any ideas of his own. Who knew what they had to get up to in their jobs?

He was going to try and not judge them, but it wasn't as if he could promise.

"So this particular stone will no doubt suck in the magic of anything around it? Human or otherwise?"

"Yes, sir," the right Unspeakable answered.

"So broken down into almost a perfect power would make it easy to apply to potions or solutions. Even food. However, something else was done to the stone itself because the magic isn't being sucked out, it's being redirected to attack the body," Severus noted.

"We have learned that it reacts to Runes very well."

"Yes, almost too well, actually."

"Tell me," Severus ordered as he made notes. He could already feel the headache coming on.

"Runes can channel energy and magic. Some Runic Spells and Circles concentrate on specific effects. The stone is capable of absorbing those effects if placed near an active Rune. It will then act as the Rune would, and the more magic is has absorbed, the stronger the effects will be. Almost set the office on fire that one day."

The two shared a small, uncomfortable laugh at the memory no doubt.

The other Unspeakable sighed. "It's resistant to Transfiguration. It's almost impossible to transfigure even a small piece into anything else. We made sure to check by having everyone try and nothing happened."

"Inflammable. Any fire that goes near it will cause and explosion that ruins everything within a set radius, though not the stone itself."

"The melting point is over one thousand degrees Celsius. It gives off a burnt charcoal scent when it's melted."

"However it is malleable, if that makes any sense. Like dough almost. It will curve around any pressure put on it. It is not adhesive in the slightest however."

"It's, strangely enough, also very clear once stretched out far enough. Seems to enhance vision like omnioculars would. We have no explanation for that though."

"Is deceptively heavy. We can't lift it ourselves, so we levitate it and conduct experiments that way."

"Yet it floats."

"Yes," the left Unspeakable agreed, "It's very strange and we don't understand it, but there are holes that appear when it's placed in water. Like a sponge perhaps. It will simple sit atop the water until it is moved. And the water doesn't remain when you remove it, so it's sort of repellent."

Both were nodding with the assessment.

"Finally, we've noted that it tastes like dirt."

Severus sent them a look, not believing what he had just heard. "Someone actually licked it?"

"No, he ate a small piece that was grinded into powder, and was ill afterward. Didn't come back for a week."

Unspeakables. They were so strange. The scientists for the magical community.

"Did he have any notable reactions to it?"

"We could just get him for you, sir."

"Do so."

They fled quickly, leaving him to question his life.

Scientists and adventurers would be the death of him. He just knew it.

"Everything will be fine, Sev. They're doing us a great service," said Lily from her table over by the far wall.

With a sneer, the man couldn't help but relent to her claim. She was right in a sense.

Now all he needed was a bottle of Whiskey. Or maybe Brandy. That would be nice.


"What did you give to Mundungus Fletcher?"

Dolores Umbridge was magically forced into a chair and then held captive. Her wand had been taken and scrutinised in every possible way, and every manner of ward was placed so that she could not escape. They could not take any chances when a lead had finally presented itself.

She absolutely refused to speak, no matter what questions Harry asked her. And that was fine. He didn't have to do this the nice way after all. Harry was simply taught to be respectful. And Harry found that he did not want to be nice to the possible reason for his cat's death. The possible reason for Voldemort's close call the other day.

"Madam Umbridge, I hope you understand the situation for what it is. Have you not seen any of the notices that have been placed up by both Lucius Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange?"

The woman's nose wrinkled, a haughty look overcoming her squashed features. "I don't pay mind to random flyers that mean nothing. They're simply trying to make the rest of us more deserving folk, jealous."

He cocked a brow. "So you haven't heard about the crisis that Magical Britain is currently in? How the entire country has been quarantined and people have been forbidden from leaving the lands?"

Umbridge's stiff countenance loosened a bit, confusion obvious in her face.

"Do you realise that there is a disease going around that is slowly killing off anyone and anything that has a Dark Magical Core? That not only are creatures falling prey to this, but even many wizards and witches as well?

"It forces their magic to paralyze them from the inside, killing them slowly with their own magic."

Umbridge shook her head. "It's impossible. Nothing can do that!"

Harry's smirk was all sharp and dark humour. He enjoyed her squirming more than he thought he would. "I'm afraid that it's true. So much so that several prominent Lords and Ladies have fallen prey to this disease. So much so that the one responsible and those involved, will be in Azkaban for the rest of their lives. Once they've paid the remuneration of course. Several have died so far, and the anger is rising."

The woman was beginning to shake. Slowly, her confidence was slipping away into nothingness. He enjoyed it immensely. He wanted to see her cry.

Harry leaned over the table and added, voice rough with his pent up anger, "Voldemort has fallen prey to the illness. So not only is this treasonous, but now it's a murder attempt on the leader of Magical Britain himself, and has started a Blood Feud with those involved. The Slytherin Family isn't the only family that will be demanding retribution against its enemies. And it will happen, one way or another." His eyes flashed, and he knew they were glowing, like they always did when he was angry.

Tears were building in her eyes. Her terror was perfection.

"It's a shame you don't wish to speak to us civilly," said Harry almost flippantly, standing with all the calm of an Heir to an Ancient House. The nonchalance that was drilled into him since birth. "It would have saved you from Bellatrix and her… fun."

Harry left the room, passing the mad woman on the way out. The witch was swaying side to side, her grin manic, curls falling in her eyes in a mess of hair.

She sauntered into the room, fingers trailing over her bent wand, caressing the dark wood. Her magic was jumping excitedly, understanding what was about to happen and rejoicing in it.

"Does wittle Dolowes want to pway with Bewwa?!" the woman crooned, shrilly.

"NOOOOOOOOOO!"

Umbridge's cries were cut off when the door closed.

Harry couldn't help but grin maniacally to himself. Bellatrix would get the information they needed.

And to think that all of this could have been avoided had the woman decided to work with them.


A/N: Another is done!

How was it? Let me know!

Check out my other Harrymort/Tomarry fics!

See ya! :D

CHECK ME OUT ON TUMBLR. HELLY-WATERMELONSMELLINFELLON. I FOLLOW BACK.

Chapter Text

A/N: Hello, people!

I don't own Harry Potter.

I have no beta.

ENJOY!

CHECK ME OUT ON TUMBLR. HELLY-WATERMELONSMELLINFELLON. I FOLLOW BACK.


Harry looked over the report that Bellatrix had made for him in regards to what she had witnessed while traipsing about Umbridge's mind. And none of it was good. Basically, the only good thing involved was the fact that they now knew that the former DuBois Heir Apparent was involved and that he and she had signed a Blood Agreement.

The annoying part was that the woman simply took his word and didn't bother to read what she had signed, meaning that she didn't know what would happen once she accepted the needles from the man. She simply assumed that the illness would take over much like it had with the Elf No-Name had shown her.

This was why Harry stressed that people needed to read the details of anything before signing anything. Because this was the kind of thing that happened! People would take advantage and then what would happen?!

At least it was official that Reginald No-Name was the reason for all of this, and while Harry could guess the reason, he was still a little confused.

No-Name was a Dark Wizard. Did he not know that his own creation could literally kill him? Did he not understands that not only was this taking out creatures, but it would also take out people as well? Was the man aware of any of this, or did he do it all deliberately because he just didn't care?

Jealousy aside, there was literally no reason for him to do this. The man had lived a good and successful life. You didn't want for anything, he was a Master of Runes with enough accolades to get himself a good job if he wanted to. There was literally nothing in his life that would bring him to do something like this other than the fact he did not like not getting his way.

Harry leaned back in his chair and sighed once again. He was honestly too young to be dealing with pandemics and murder and politics. That was why he was not the Lord of the Ancient House of Potter. Because he was not old enough nor responsible enough to take on such a role in his life.

On top of everything going on, he had over fifty Masters and Mistresses in various Arts, working on a cure for this damn disease.

Different kinds of Alchemic Creations were being made. Snape had already created four potions from the stone used to start the disease. Harry's own mother was learning the intimate details of the stone itself, and what exactly would happen when Runes were mixed in with it.

There was always something new to add to the information. With various human and Goblin healers working to keep all of the infected, properly tended to.

Harry had already had to write over twenty-four letters by hand, expressing his sadness for the loss of the families who had unfortunately lost mothers or fathers or children. It was not something he had ever envisioned himself having to do, and to sit there calmly, trying to write a letter about the death of a baby, did not sit well with him. In fact, he cried.

Everything going on lately was just made him want to throw up. Harry honestly did not feel that he was mentally or emotionally prepared for anything like this, and to have it suddenly come out of nowhere was harrowing. Just plopped on his lap without a by your leave.

And then there were the people like Snape and Bellatrix who were working extremely hard despite the fact that both of them were at risk. Despite the fact that their Lord had fallen. That people like the Malfoys had managed to keep their heads up high and still forge on despite how worried they were over their son and other family members, still impressed Harry.

He felt that he could take at least some strength from their examples. Personally, Harry felt that he needed guidance more than ever. But at the same time he was very cautious about extending his need for assistance to more people than those who were already helping him.

He didn't want to rely on Dumbledore too much, simply because Dumbledore had been the Light Lord and he had particular views that Harry did not exactly agree with. Harry did not want to surround himself with the man too much, for fear of being influenced. He was grateful for the man's assistance, but he did not want to make this a regular thing.

Which left Harry to contact Luna more times than he cared to admit.

As a Seer, Luna was capable of things that other people weren't. In times of disorder, Luna was able to keep calm and level-headed, in order to provide the advice that somebody needed. And she always knew and somebody needed advice.

All Harry had to do was Fire-Call her, and she would immediately have the answer that he needed.

Honestly, Luna was like a political adviser. Sometimes it was better to get an outside opinion. Somebody who was not directly involved in the situation. She did not know all of the details, because her Visions did not allow her to See everything she wanted to See or needed to See, but she did know enough. Luna could look at things from a fresh perspective, and not consider them through the emotional cloud that Harry or Dumbledore were seeing them from.

As for his other friends, Hermione and the twins had gotten together a few times, in hopes that they could create something that would ease all the worry that had spread throughout the country because of the disease.

The twins were inventing products in an almost rush, in order to liven up the negative atmosphere around Magical Britain.

Harry had a feeling that Hermione was doing it in order to keep herself fixated on something, so that she would not be worrying about everybody and their health. Hermione had the tendency to worry about everything, and would try to find the nearest library in order to fix whatever was going on. Because in Hermione's world, books always had the answer.

Harry had only been able to talk to Rigel a few times since the child had been sequestered inside his family matter. The teen was put out, because he was not allowed to have a lot of visitors, and the only people who could visit him, were Fred and George. However, Bellatrix made the twins go through a very intense cleansing ritual before they could even enter the grounds.

Harry was once again sitting in Voldemort's office, considering all the paperwork before him. He was looking longingly at Voldemort's diary. Instead of doing all this work, he wanted to be talking to Tom. Tom was the closest thing to Voldemort at the moment, and Harry found the talking to him was comforting.

Tom also knew a lot of stuff. Talking to him was like reading a dictionary. There was always something new to learn.

Of course he was also very sneaky, and he tended to get really haughty. Sometimes even making fun of Harry, which prompted Harry to retaliate. But it wasn't his fault. Harry was young. He did not have the seventy-two years of experience that the diary had. So of course the things he said sometimes would be a little juvenile or naive. That was perfectly fine, so long as he did not act in such a way in front of other people.

If they were smart enough, they would take advantage of such naivety. Harry was not one to make himself vulnerable.

Taking up his quill once again, Harry bent over the nearest parchment and began to compose a reply.

The Spanish had proposed a trade agreement, and Harry was trying to determine if it was worthwhile or not. It wouldn't benefit him in any way, but who would it benefit?

Nagini coiled around the chair, reminding him that she was still there.

At least he wasn't alone in this.


"It's not for forever, Hagrid. Things will get better eventually. We simply can't let them stay outside anymore. I've already told them why."

Hagrid was a big softy. Hagrid loved animals and creatures, and this entire epidemic had completely broken his heart even more than Harry. He took it a lot harder than anyone Harry knew.

The Thestrals had to be brought into the stables instead being being allowed to remain in the forest at their own leisure. Harry had to talk to them for a very long time before the herd leader had agreed.

Harry was personally setting up the wards on the stables. He wished he could do more, but this was as best as it could get.

And if the Runespoor slipped into his pocket as he left, well no one needed to know about that.


Lily was drawing various Runes meant for health, whether for healing or hurting. The Runes were being drawn on normal stones that she was quickly placing in the small jars with the pieces of Caelite.

The different reactions to the Runes were noted and she realised that she might be on track with the Runes. The Unspeakables had mentioned that the stone would take on the the properties of the activated Runes nearest it, which meant that this could have been it.

Lily had one hundred separate jars. Fifty were filled with ground up Caelite, and fifty held simple pieces of Caelite.

Her idea seemed to have merit because the ground up Caelite in the jars were turning different colors once making contact with the Runes covered stones. There was a better reaction compared to placing the stones beside each other, which simply glowed white.

Harry came up behind her, her son staring at the different jars.

"You know what we have to do now, right?"

She shook her head.

"We now draw the Runes with blood and we try every kind of blood type, as well as different animal and creature bloods, and even blood from people with different magical cores, and people without cores."

Lily sighed once again. This was taking forever, but she had a feeling they were on the right track.


"What about this caught your eye?"

"The particles seem to be clumping together now."

The one Unspeakable leaned over her microscope, fiddling with the knob until the focus was clear. Exactly what her partner was talking about. Clumping together in a peculiar pattern. A familiar pattern actually.

Sitting back, she frowned. "That reminds me of-"

"-dragon's blood, I know."

"So then he mixed Caelite with creature blood?"

"And Runes apparently."

They were getting closer to an answer.

"Which dragon though?"

"Thank Merlin there aren't many breeds to choose from. We'll just have to try every one until we find the answer. Perhaps Dumbledore can help there. He knows a lot about dragon blood."

"True."


"Harry, how are you holding up?"

The teen lugged back and entire pint of Firewhiskey. He needed it after the week he had.

"Not well. There's too much drama recently and I kind of just want to crawl under my bed and not come out forever."

Hermione gave a hum. "Is there any possible progression in the cure?"

"So far, we've learned the stone involved, the Rune involved, and now dragon blood was involved, but they're busy determining which dragon it came from. From there, it'll most likely be up to Snape to work through it. He's got that natural talent for Potions that not many get."

Hermione nodded. "He was the one who wrote the Potions books for the N.E.W.T. students after all. He's got really high standards."

"I have faith in him. Though I still can't help but feel that there is something else involved. Something all of us are missing.

"How's Malfoy?"

"I had to contact Rigel in order to get any information on him. He has not regressed nor progressed. He's simply unconscious right now and thankfully nothing serious has happened yet."

"Good. Rigel is practically dying at home. I had to send the twins to him because they went to his house and then didn't even speak to him."

"What could they have gone there for?"

"They caught something going on in Knockturn Alley and went to tell Bellatrix. We found out that the bane of your existence, Dolores Umbridge, partnered with Reginald No-Name in spreading this disease."

Hermione's enter body froze, eyes lighting up with anger. She was obviously livid.

"So that explains why she was suddenly carted off by Aurors. And what will her punishment be?"

"It hasn't been decided, but she does have a lovely cell in Azkaban at the moment. We're on the look out for No-Name now."

"I'll keep an eye out then."

The two lugged back the rest of their liquor, allowing the effects to take hold.


When all of this is said and done, can you come and speak to me still?

Despite what one would think, this was not a smart way to achieve immortality.

I am honestly stuck in this book and I get no entertainment except from Voldemort.

Aw.

Isn't he a part of you?

Shouldn't you like him?

Have you ever heard of the phrase, 'you are your own worst critic'?

Yes.

Think of that.

To me, he is an old man who doesn't seem to understand how I feel.

I am perpetually stuck as a sixteen year old.

Emotions and puberty included.

It isn't pleasant.

And similar personalities are said to clash on the regular.

You don't like talking to yourself!

No.

He gets to be free. To go out there and do things.

I'm stuck in a book.

And the only way I can possibly get out is if I absorb someone's soul and magic into myself.

But that would kill them.

And you are the only other living being I've been introduced to in the past half century.

And I don't wish to kill you.

Aw.

I'm strangely touched!

And if I can wrestle you away from Voldemort, then sure.

I don't think he'd mind.

And I'd do it anyway, even if he did.

Thank you, Harry.

You're welcome, Tom.


§Nagini, are you sure this is a good idea?§

The snake bobbed her had with surety. §Master usually visits often and brings offerings to keep the Serpent King agreeable. He is not well, so you must go in his stead and offer the gifts to the great snake.§

Harry swallowed his discomfort and stared at the bathroom door. He hadn't exactly wanted to do this, but Nagini insisted that it was the right thing to do. That as her master's 'mate' - he hadn't been able to convince her otherwise - he had to take control when her master was not well.

Not only was he busy handling foreign affairs and drama from all sides, but now he had to play Chicken with a Basilisk.

He didn't want to do it!

§I am with you,§ Nagini reminded him, making him feel only a little better.

The entrances to the Chamber of Secrets were spread throughout the school, but Nagini suggested this one because it was 'the most fun' and Voldemort apparently hated it so he never took it anymore.

It was Moaning Myrtle's bathroom, though Myrtle was nowhere to be seen. Harry didn't linger on the thought as he approached the sinks.

§Open,§ he hissed quietly, watching in awe as the sinks separated to reveal a very large hole.

§Are there any stairs?§ he asked, slightly put off by the thought of jumping down a hole he knew nothing about.

§No. It was made for the Basilisk to slither up, not for humans.§

Harry sighed and knelt down in order to throw his legs over the side, with a push, he fell into what he learned was a pipe. A very long pipe. Distantly, he felt like he was playing on a slide at a Muggle park.

But then he landed on a pile of animals bones and that feeling disappeared quickly.

§Voldemort didn't like the slide, did he?§

§No!§ Nagini moaned. §It is great fun but for some reason he thinks that 'Dark Lords shouldn't have fun'. Dark Lord's shouldn't shed salty water either but he still does that, so why can't he do this?§

With a snort, Harry dusted himself off and cast a quickly cleaning charm just in case. He didn't like being dirty.

§Where to?§

Looking around, there were several tunnels and he had no idea which one was the one to take.

Nagini lifted her heavy tail and pointed. §You keep walking until you find the door with the serpents on it. You'll have to give a Parseltongue password as well.§

Brilliant.

Harry trudged along, and briefly found himself faced with a large Basilisk skin, in which had pulled out his stored potion vials and proceeded to collect some samples because who was he to ignore such a gift? It would be foolish to simply ignore it.

After several moments of silent ambling through animal bones and ducking beneath jutting rocks, he found the door Nagini had spoken of. The serpents were spread out in a hand fan sort of pattern, and he could appreciate the intricate detail of their carving.

§Open.§

Each snake shrank back as a new snake slithered around the outer edge of the door and back into the hole it came from, having traversed the whole circle.

The door opened slowly, and Harry had to climb through and lower himself down an old, metal ladder.

§Keep your eyes closed,§ Nagini warned him. §At least until I explain who you are. Though you do smell like my master so there shouldn't be a problem.§

Harry staved off the blush that threatened to consume him, and simply closed his eyes and waited.

§Alesandese, I have brought my master's mate to meet you!§

There was a moment of silence, before a loud hiss returned, accented by a strange noise.

§And where is he that he cannot introduce his mate to me himself?§ a deep voice sounded, reverberating throughout the chamber. The 'King of all Serpents' that was tied to the Slytherin line, was a female. Unexpected. He thought Basilisks didn't have genders because they couldn't procreate? Or did gender not matter?

He'd have to ask.

§Master is ill, so his mate Harry is in control for now.§

There was a moment of silent, and Harry flinched when something long and warm touched his face.

§You may look upon me, Mate Harry, for my gaze will not harm you.§

Harry opened his eyes slowly, with Nagini's encouragement, and found himself staring into the face of a Basilisk. A Basilisk whose entire head was taller than Harry himself was. A Basilisk that just just licked him.

§I smell his magic and scent on you, but not enough of either. Why are you not carrying his hatchlings yet?§ the green being enquired.

Harry was mortified at the question.

Nagini was snickering as his misfortune.


"Why don't you take a break?"

Harry shook his head. "I took a break two days in a row and got pissed as a result. My head is still killing me and I have all this work to do."

"There are hangover cures available," Dumbledore told him calmly.

Harry shrugged. "Yes, but I knew what would happen if I drank too much and I'm leaving the headache as it is because I deserve it."

"I can honestly say that I don't know anyone who would punish themselves in such a way."

"I'm special."

Negini's hissy chuckle pounded in his ears. He didn't want to tell her to be quiet because he'd feel bad, but his head was throbbing.

"Tom said the very same once," said Dumbledore, nostalgia seeping into his tone. "I asked him about how he was doing and commented on how surprised I was that he managed to stay up so late into the evening just to study. He responded, 'I'm special' and left it at that."

Dumbledore seemed to like drawing comparisons between Harry and Voldemort on an almost constant basis. Whatever his goal was, Harry honestly worried over it. No one else seemed to be trying to push he and Voldemort together as much as Dumbledore was.

§Twinkles is right. You and my master are very similar.§

Scratch that, Dumbledore and Nagini seemed to be working toward the same goal. When Voldemort was better, Harry was cornering him and asking the man if he put his serpent up to this.

§My master never let himself hurt after drinking though. The first time he 'regurgitated' in the waste room and laid on the cold floor, whinging.§

Or perhaps he didn't tell her to do it. If he knew all the little anecdotes she had given Harry about his earlier years, he'd probably die of embarrassment alone.

§Master gets funny when he drinks the foul liquid. He sways and talks a lot. He once pulled me aside after drinking three bottles of the liquid, in order to teach me more writing, but all the words were about two-legger mating rituals.§

What?

§Apparently, mating can be even more comfortable if master enchants his mating organ to grow larger. Why he can't leave it as it is, is beyond me.§

Oh, Merlin!

Harry's body was wracked with silent laughter. He was trying so hard not to make his own headache worse.

That little bit of hilarity was enough to lighten his mood considerably, even though his head was pounding still.

§Did he teach you anything else during that lesson?§ Harry asked, unable to help himself from fishing for information. This was too good to pass up.

§He said he wanted to try it with you.§

Harry went deathly silent, blush staining his cheeks.

That pompous twat.


Another potion exploded and Severus Snape was ready to strangle someone. He'd gone through every possible combination in order to get this poison made.

The fact was, when one had the components of the poison they were trying to create a cure for, they could actually make a cure once they knew what to counteract. He would have preferred to have the poison already on hand, but that fool Umbridge had given all the needles she'd taken, and given them to others. And none of them had kept the needles once finished.

So he was stuck working this way, wasting ingredients that were worth a lot of money. All because some moron who couldn't understand that he had been beaten, had to act like a child. If they ever managed to capture Reginald No-Name, Severus wanted the first shot at him.

His godson, his Lord, his time. The fool would suffer.

He stirred clockwise and had to lunged to the side when the brew began to bubble.

The containment field around the cauldron stopped the explosion from reaching a certain radius, but that just meant that he had to start over again.

"No progress?"

Looking up from his position on the floor, the man blanched. Vitra LeFay was leaning over the ruined potion, looking curious.

"It is foolish for you to be out and about," he commented.

The woman scoffed. "So you can be out here risking your life for the sake of us Dark Beings, but I can't lend my assistance?"

The man bristled in annoyance. "I did not mean that to be-"

She simply raised a hand, cutting him off. "There has to be something obvious you're missing. Even Potions Masters can make mistakes or overlook things from time to time. List your process."

No one had ever questioned his potions knowledge before, and while he was a mite annoyed, he sighed and proceeded to detail his process.

Dumbledore, was busy separating the various vials of dragon blood, readying them so Severus didn't have to go hunting for ingredients, was watching with obvious curiosity.

LeFay was nodding as she looked over each and every item with a keen eye.

Potter sidled up beside the woman, neither reacting to one another. Not even a minute glare from LeFay over losing to the boy in the Fifth Task of the Tournament. Both were intensely focused on the table full of supplies.

Potter's head tilted to the side. "You're using fresh ingredients."

"Obviously."

The boy shook his head. "No, I mean you're using living plants."

While Severus was confused, LeFay's eyes went wide.

The woman turned to the boy and said, "Are you proposing that the natural magic within the plants is interfering with the poison creation?"

He nodded.

"What do you mean 'natural magic'?" the Potions Master demanded, not liking it when he was unable to follow along with a conversation. It rarely happened and it was annoying every time.

Dumbledore stepped closer then. "There is a belief of those who practice Wicca, that every living thing is connected magically and spiritually in a sense, and that there is a magic in Nature."

Potter nodded. "I learned at a young age that there is indeed natural magic all around us. I applied the idea to my Third Task, when I created the map of the room. I connected my magic to the magic of the hedge and used it to 'see' every other living thing in the room in a sense.

"So we've learned that No-Name, who is a Runes Master, used Runes to help create this poison. The ground up Caelite absorbed the power of the dragon blood drawn Rune that was then added to a brew. However, if the plants are living, then their inherent magic will be absorbed by the Caelite as well, possibly negating the effect of the Rune, or lowering its effectiveness. Therefore, dried ingredients wouldn't have magic in them any longer. The liquid half of this is less of a potion and more of just a poison. He could have probably used Muggle methods in this."

Dumbledore and LeFay both nodded, and Severus felt foolish. He hadn't considered that it wasn't actually a potion type of poison.

Sending the boy a look, he asked, "When did you decide to study up on such an obscure type of magic?"

Potter flushed and looked down at his shoes. "I was curious. They could do similar things as us, but weren't considered the same. It seemed stupid to my eight year old brain, so I decided to look into it myself. It's very intriguing."

Dumbledore was beaming, his bloody twinkle on display.

LeFay cracked her knuckles and sent a smirk his way. "Let's get to work then."

With a wave of her hand, the room was cast into a frenzy of floating ingredients.


When Snape started thinking more like a Muggle Chemist and less like a Potions Master, he was able to pinpoint specific plants used to paralyze people, and exactly what alkaloid could be used to the same effect of the poison.

Some time in the early morning on the seventh of December, Severus Snape held up the finished poison, looking triumphant in only the way Snape could. A small twitch of the lip.

"I'll have the cure in no time."

The man worked on multiple vials of Dreamless Sleep while Vitra LeFay acted as his assistant. The two worked in tandem in a way that Harry hadn't seen before, and he was curious but also hopeful.

By replicating the poison, Snape was several steps closer to cracking the cure.

This didn't meant that no one else had to work though.

Harry found himself taking a break from the paperwork in order to help his mother, who was busy working on negating the effects of the Rune in the ground up Caelite. By using the opposite Runes and different bloods, she was able to note that certain Runes could reverse the affects, as well as stop them altogether.

There was also a combination of Runes that could lower the effects of the Caelite as well.

Harry was charged with handling the Caelite personally, because he had more magic so if it accidentally absorbed some from him, he wouldn't faint immediately. He'd do anything if it meant the infected could get better. Leave this epidemic as a three month long horror in Magical Britain's history.

Dumbledore had Fawkes flitting about, crying here and there. Harry resolved to reward the bird for his immense assistance when he had time. Animals and creatures didn't like feeling like their existence was only for the use of others, and Harry would not have any he knew, feeling such.

That also reminded him. He'd have to give Nagini a proper massage once all was said and done. She'd been doing a lot for him recently in terms of helping.

Things were getting better.


There was darkness. Not the warmth that one would usually feel when steeped in Dark Magic. Not the cloaking feeling of protection that a Dark Arts practitioner felt when they had just cast successfully. This darkness was cold and frightening.

It did not give comfort. It did not feel good.

It was cloying in a sense. Unknown in another.

Two things of which he hated.

There was silence. Always the silence. Probably the first time that he was not agreeable with everything being so quiet.

And it couldn't be a dream because he was perfectly aware. Dreams did not allow awareness. True dreams at least.

His body was heavy, limp and listless. Unable to move in any direction. He could not see beyond the darkness. No light. Could not smell anything or hear anything.

Not even his own thoughts.

He lay - or floated, he honestly didn't know - in the darkness for an undetermined amount of time.

There was nothing.

And then randomly, after what felt like ages, there was light. Or rather, lighter darkness. As if he was viewing light through a dark curtain.

There was a buzzing in his ear, and he could feel something warm. Warmth after such a long time in the strange cold. It was a welcoming feeling. He tried to reach for it, feeling even more warmth in return.

The buzzing became louder and clearer in his ear, until he could sort of make out his own name. His name just being blatantly stated. No honorific. No respect. This wasn't one of his followers, that was for certain.

"Voldemort."

A familiar voice, smooth and young.

§Master.§

Another familiar voice, though more serpentine. Parseltongue. Nagini.

"Voldemort if you don't wake up I swear I will hex your bollocks off!"

§Master, you will need those if you intended to go through with that mating plan of yours.§

§Don't encourage him!§

With a slowness that frustrated himself, Voldemort's eyes opened to reveal bright light that he immediately wanted to destroy.

And the other things that stood out, were the fact that his hand was warm, where two smaller hands were wrapped around it, his body was freezing everywhere else, and Harry Potter's Avada green eyes were staring down at him from above, like some kind of dark angel.

A slow grin spread across the young man's face.

"Thank Circe. You were out for quite a while."


 

A/N: Another is done!

How was it? Let me know!

Check out my other Harrymort fics!

See ya! :D

CHECK ME OUT ON TUMBLR. HELLY-WATERMELONSMELLINFELLON. I FOLLOW BACK.

Chapter Text

A/N: Hello, people!

I don't own Harry Potter.

I have no beta.

ENJOY!

CHECK ME OUT ON TUMBLR. HELLY-WATERMELONSMELLINFELLON. I FOLLOW BACK.


"What happened?"

Harry winced, wishing that of all the things the man asked first, that wasn't it. But he had a right to know the happenings going on in his home. He deserved to know just what had occurred in the month that he'd fallen ill. It wasn't like Harry could keep it from him anyway. He was in the man's house, sitting on his bed with his familiar. Any attempt at secrecy had pretty much been killed already.

"You, being the twat that you are, decided that there was no possible way that you could be felled by such a disease. Therefore, you never protected yourself, and you ended up falling ill about a month ago."

Voldemort's serpentine face creased in a few places. His skin shone in the light of the Lumos currently keeping the room bright for Harry.

Harry bit his tongue to stop himself form licking his lips. He didn't want to send any wrong signals after all. Not now of all times. This was a serious moment.

"I… didn't place any protections because I forgot."

Harry stared for a moment, completely baffled. There was just no way, right? This was Voldemort. This was the Greatest Dark Lord in History. How the hell did he forget to protect himself right after casting all manner of protections for his familiar? And his house? And his lands? And basically anything else in his possession?

"Dark Lords make mistakes as well, you realise? I am not as infallible as I act."

Well how was Harry supposed to know that? The man was fucking immortal, all-powerful, and had perfect self-control. There was literally nothing in the way he acted that would suggest that he could or would fall prey to the problems in the world. They just seemed too plebeian for one such as Voldemort.

And as stated once before, Voldemort was larger than life.

"It's called being Slytherin," Voldemort continued. "We do not let others become aware of our faults, so long as we can help it. I would prefer the world to not know that I am still human. It keeps them guessing and ever watchful of my actions. The unknown keeps them on edge, which is fine by me. I would prefer to have the advantage on my side."

It made sense, but still!

"How many know of my… absence?"

Harry paused to think about it. "Less than ten people I think. Bellatrix found you and came to me while I was with Snape and Dumbledore and mum. Lucius was told. Luna already knew because she Saw it. Dolores Umbridge got to find out because we discovered that she took part in the distribution of the disease, and I wanted to terrify her before letting Bellatrix have at her. Maybe a couple of others."

Voldemort's crimson gaze narrowed. "What has Dumbledore been doing?"

Harry was hoping that he would ask about Umbridge and ignore the whole Dumbledore part, but of course he couldn't. Voldemort never did anything that Harry expected of him. The prat.

"Bellatrix rushed to St. Mungo's in complete hysterics because Vashti went and informed her that something was wrong with you. She went, found you had fallen ill and were delirious, and placed you in stasis. Then she came to tell us, and spun a very good story about how no one can get into your office to get to the important paperwork you keep for yourself, meaning that Magical Britain could hit a serious decline without your specific paperwork being handled.

"Somehow, during the process, I magically agreed to become your Consort, thereby taking up your duties whilst you were unconscious. Dumbledore had helped me a little bit here and there, and Snape and Bellatrix were insightful. Luna was helpful as well. Overall, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, because I also had you to help me along the way."

At Voldemort's confused look, Harry reached into his pocket and withdrew the diary. "Tom is a bit snarky, but certainly kind enough to help. I also learned a shite tonne of Runic Circles form him!"

Harry was certain that the purple hue that spread over the other man's skin was his version of blanching. Especially when he placed a hand over where Harry assumed his heart was.

"Please… be careful with that."

"I am! I know what it is you know! Nagini and Tom assured me that it's virtually indestructible to anything by Basilisk venom, and as Alesandese doesn't seem the type to destroy your possessions, I don't think it'll get destroyed any time soon."


It was a mixture that he wasn't prepared for. Normally his emotions were perfectly controlled and he wouldn't let anyone see his fear or worry. He usually couldn't afford such mishaps. However, it seemed that he was destined to be emotionally unreserved in front of Harry James Potter, several times in his life.

To see his Horcrux so casually waved about could have given him a heart attack. And Harry didn't seem in the least bit concerned despite claiming that he knew what it was and what it was capable of. He just called the diary 'Tom' as if they had some kind of camaraderie.

The diary did not like the name Tom any more than Voldemort did, so to allow Harry to even refer to him as such was amazing. But also concerning. If anything, Voldemort was going to have to have a very long talk with the diary some time in the near future. If only to ascertain what his plan was in regards to Harry's life and safety.

Because if Voldemort's eventual intended was in any way in danger because of his own Horcrux, he'd make certain that the diary never saw the light of day again.

Something gold and flashy caught his eyes, and he found himself staring at the Consort Ring on Harry's wrist.

Forgetting the diary for a moment, he had to consider just what that meant.

Harry James Potter had agreed to be his consort some time during his absence. He'd come to Slytherin Manor in order to get into his office where all of his paperwork was. Nagini had told him about the diary to an extent, enough that he'd used the diary for help when doing Voldemort's job. Harry Potter was sitting on his bed, and had even casually referred to his House Elf by her name. As if it was normal.

Meaning he had to have been coming around on a regular basis to be so familiar with his surroundings.

"Did you take the Consort's Chambers?" he found himself asking, wanting to know the extent of Harry's acceptance of their new bond.

The teen frowned. "No. Just because we are magically wedded, does not mean this is my house and that I should go exploring. I stayed in a guest bedroom that Vashti pointed me to when I asked. Most of the time. Sometimes I fell asleep on the sofa in your office."

He was a tad disappointed, but he could understand the boy's meaning.

"You did not explore? Not even once?"

"I didn't have time to," the other wizard scoffed. "There is a pandemic still going on. People were still unwell. I closed my shop for the time being so I could juggle working on international affairs and helping find a cure. There was barely any time to do anything. Though I got pissed a week ago with Hermione, but that doesn't count."

Yes, the pandemic had certainly taken up a lot of his time before he had fallen ill. He could understand Harry's frustrations with the entire situation. He also realized that he was going to have to arrange some kind of award for those who had sacrificed their time and energy to the creation of a cure.

"How many died?" the Dark Lord asked, voice heavy with disappointment. He did not like that this had happened, especially in his territory.

Harry's head lowered in sadness. "Forty-seven Wizards and Thirty-nine Witches, five Vampires, five Thestrals, nine Werewolves, one Goblin, and several Kneazles."

More lives had managed to be lost in a three month epidemic, then Voldemort's entire ten year war on Magical Britain. Honestly, he was awestruck.

"Do you have a lead on the cause of this disease? What exactly did Dolores Umbridge have to do with it?"

The look that came across Harry's face, was something Voldemort never though he would ever see. It was a sort of bloodthirsty darkness, that did not seem to fit the teen's overall character. It also sent a shiver down Voldemort's spine. He wasn't sure if it was because he found it unnerving or arousing, he did not know. Maybe he found it to be both. Either way, this was not the Harry James Potter he had just been speaking to.

"The pink toad had a meeting with one Reginald formerly-know-as DuBois, and signed a Blood Agreement with him. He then handed her several needles where she was instructed to inject them into Dark beings. She then passed those needles off t a common thief by the name of Mundungus Fletcher. She gave him thirteen Galleons to do the job well, and never thought about it again.

"The Weasley twins were the ones to witness the exchange and went to tell Bellatrix with their worries, who brought them here to tell me. I put a warrant out for her arrest and we questioned her calmly at first, but once she made it clear that she would not give over any information, I informed her of the consequences of her actions, and then let Bellatrix have at her."

Voldemort almost winced. And the reason was because Bellatrix got a little overzealous sometimes. She was an excitable creature, and whenever she was given leave to do whatever she wanted, she would honestly do whatever she wanted. The fact that he saw fit to give a prisoner to Bellatrix in order to get them to crack, told him about the stress that the young man had been under.

Harry had stopped playing the kind and helpful questioner. He'd done a one-eighty easily and dropped all pretenses.

The fact that he hadn't exactly bothered to follow the law when it came to dictating a possibly treasonous person, had told him enough. But no, he could finally understand exactly what the other had to go through. And it must have been harrowing, especially since he was only a teenager, and he wasn't even the Lord of his own families yet.

This was the sudden real life experience that he had not expected to have so soon after graduating.

Of course Life decided to throw random things their way at any time, so there really was no preparation for anything. However, even Voldemort could acknowledge that Harry Potter most likely needed a month to himself. Some solitude once everything was said and done.

"I have not issued an official warrant for Reginald's arrest. I don't exactly want him to know that he is in trouble and that we're on to him. I was hoping that we could find him first, so that we don't have to go chasing him everywhere. I just want this shite to be over with."

Voldemort did as well.

With a sigh, Voldemort reached out and took the younger man's hand. The difference was almost startling. Voldemort's pale skin was cold and shined slightly, his purple veins easily visible beneath his flesh.

On the other hand, Harry's skin was hot, skin peachy in colour and his veins green and blue.

The other gave a small smile. One that was full of exhaustion and pure desire for sleep. Harry had most likely slept as little as possible. He was looking thinner as well. He could use a good meal or ten.

"Vashti," Voldemort called out.

"Master Voldy is being alive and well!" the Elf gushed as she Apparated in.

"Will you fetch Harry some finger sandwiches? He seems to need some nourishment."

"Please bring Voldemort something as well. He needs solid food more than I," Harry said quickly, before the Elf could carry out her task.

Harry didn't seem willing to draw attention to the fact that their fingers were linked. Not that Voldemort wanted to either. The moment was nice as it was and he didn't want to make it awkward or possibly ruin it. Not now when Harry literally accepted the physical contact between them.

In fact, the other didn't seem too worried, especially since he placed a hand against Voldemort's browless forehead in order to test his temperature.

"You're a little too warm for what your natural body temperature should be. But we'll have you looking fit in no time."

Voldemort did not miss the way Harry's eyes trailed down his bared torso. Nor did he miss the look Nagini sent in the boy's direction.

He'd have to have a talk with her later on.

Pop!

"Vashti had Master Voldy and Master Harry's requests!"

§I would like something to eat as well!§ said Nagini, her tongue flicking out in frustration.

Harry relayed her message, and Vashti went off to fetch a mouse for the time being.


Voldemort took up the small object, his long and inhuman fingers curling around it completely. With careful movements, he twisted the knob on the top, four times, and watched the hourglass spin repeatedly.

The area around him passed in a blur of colours, going from dark to light repeatedly.

His Time Turner was a very special creation he'd managed to make years prior. It was a variation of the ones the Ministry held tight control over. Only instead of going back hours, it could go back a few weeks. Voldemort had used it during his takeover of Magical Britain, employing repeated use in order to earn a more sound victory with as little loss as possible.

With his creation in hand, Voldemort was going back to when he had just fallen ill.

There were things that needed to be done. Things that he was certain no one would chastise him for should they ever find out.

First, was to speak with the diary. Then he would have to find Reginald No-Name and teach him a very important lesson.

Had he known the fool was the reason behind this issue, he would have simply used the spell earlier. But at least he knew now.

When Voldemort had told Harry that he'd placed special measures on the entry forms for the tournament, he hadn't been joking. There was a specific type of tracking charm that linked the person to the parchment, and Voldemort only had to focus on the parchment in order to find out exactly where the person was, and basically take them by surprise. If he wanted.

And he wanted.

The blurs came to a sudden halt, and Voldemort tucked the Time Turner into his robes. The clearing he'd used was empty, but that was fine.

Technically, people weren't supposed to allow themselves to be seen when using a Time Turner, and while he didn't actually give a bleeding damn what people thought, he didn't want to cause any drama for himself. Especially if Harry Potter was currently being told that he was ill and could not continue to lead the combined nations of Magical Britain.

No, Voldemort wouldn't jeopardise that.

With a huff, he Disapparated, moving straight through his own wards without so much as a blink. The magic allowed him entrance, welcoming him with a small caress.

He was silent. None of the Elves knew he was there. He shared a core with himself, so they would only sense Voldemort, but not more than one. Especially since they all had some idea of what the diary and ring were and could not feel the individual souls or magic within them. Everything was just Voldemort to them.

Flipping through his desk, he pulled the diary out and penned a quick note.

You are about to meet my consort.

His name is Harry James Potter, as we've discussed many times prior.

Currently, the pandemic has reached alarming proportions.

The current me is in bed, having fallen to the illness.

Harry has just accepted the position of Consort Slytherin, if what I was told is correct.

I am Voldemort, from about thirty-two days in the future.

You will aid Harry in anything he asks of you.

He is not equipped with leading a nation, and will need some form of help.

Bellatrix wouldn't be useful in this and Severus is busy creating a cure.

Dumbledore CANNOT be too much of an influence over him!

It is up to you to lead him.

Do your best to win him over, but do not lie.

Do not fake sincerity.

Yet do not pander to him either.

He is someone I admire and respect.

I will not have him offended because of you.

You are not to take his magic nor his soul.

Or you might return to your box.

It took a moment, but the diary's snark was quick to shine through in only one sentence.

Well this should be interesting if you're so heated over it.

I mean it, Tom.

He did that just to annoy the boy.

Fine. Bugger off, old man.

With gritted teeth and eyes full of annoyance, Voldemort shut the book and left it on the desk, off to the side. He shut the drawers and made sure everything was set with the passwords.

Tom would do as he was told. Simple. It was for both of their benefit after all. Tom got to have a partner to discuss things with, and Magical Britain wouldn't fall. Voldemort saw it as a win-win situation.

His magic rippled a bit, letting him know that an unknown person had entered the wards. Yet this unknown person had some of his magic on them.

Harry.

A moment later, the door to the office gave a low hiss, and Voldemort Disapparated, not even a whisper to let anyone know that he'd been there.


It wasn't supposed to happen. Or rather, Voldemort told himself that over and over. But how was he supposed to know that Albus too-many-bloody-names Dumbledore, would be in the same place, and recognise him from afar? Especially since he was actually in his preferred disguise.

And unassuming man in plain clothing. Boring. Normal. Nothing interesting to see.

And just when he'd been about to turn, Dumbledore had to call upon him.

"Tom, my boy, it's a pleasure to see you!"

Tom was such a bland name. And in this instance, it was probably the only time Voldemort was grateful that it was his birth name. Tom's were generally boring. No one cared about Toms.

"Dumbledore," he said stiffly, mouth set in a tight line.

The older wizard came over to his table and seated himself without so much as a by your leave. Voldemort would have said something, but decided against it. The drama of being rude to Albus Dumbledore of all people wasn't something he needed at the moment. At least not in public.

Luck seemed to shine on him, because Dumbledore set up a privacy ward immediately, and spoke very plainly.

"I was under the impression that you were currently suffering from a magical disease."

Voldemort glared and reached into his robes to flash the Time Turner. He despised the look of understanding in the old wizard's eyes. That bloody twinkle was back!

"Any reason for the desire to gallivant through time, Tom?"

Ugh!

"I have someone to find, and a few things to consider. Simple."

"Things… such as your near death experience?"

He could not withhold the flinch. It came, it went, it gave him away and he hated it.

"I see… you have yet to come to grips with it."

"It's obvious what happened you old coot! I nearly died. Death. Still heart and cold body. I understand just fine."

Dumbledore's hoary head shook back and forth, the twinkle dimming thankfully. "You understand the theory. Your mind has processed the facts. You have yet to process the fact that your greatest fear was at your doorstep and you could do nothing about it. That is an emotional sort of understanding, not mental."

Voldemort's enchanted brown eyes narrowed. "Are you implying that I am... traumatised? Me?"

"Are going to attempt to deny it?"

He glared, because he honestly had no argument and it infuriated him so much. And he firmly did not look in Dumbledore's direction because he did not want to see the other man's smug attitude so openly.

"Simply put, Tom, you almost died. And you know who saved you? Harry. Severus. Me. Lily Potter. Goblin Rangrok. And so many others. Your safety was placed in the hands of others, without your knowledge. Harry especially saved you an extra time, preventing you from turning to stone in your own bed."

Voldemort continued to glare, but slowly, his hands began to shake.

He was immortal. He had Horcruxes to keep him 'alive' in a sense. He wouldn't fully perish, his body would simply be dead. The spirit would linger though.

Still, he didn't want to experience death simply because he had protections set in place. He wasn't going around risking his life like a Gryffindor, just because he knew he couldn't be truly destroyed.

Still, he was a human. He unfortunately felt emotions and pain, and all those annoying things attributed to the human race.

He didn't know death personally. No one did. Death was the unknown. A world, a being, a concept that no one truly living had any idea of. And the ghosts Voldemort had questioned were of no help in his quest to learn all he could.

He hated not knowing. He hated the thought of possibly dying in pain. Of being alone. Of becoming unknown just like Death.

"Death comes to all, Tom. Whether you've managed to thwart it with Dark Magic for a certain time, you cannot avoid your body dying at some point."

He could avoid it if he wanted. For as long as he bloody wanted!

"And might I remind you that not everyone is 'immortal'. Harry for instance. He will die within the next century and a half, and you will be alone again. Your children will eventually pass on. That's the way the world works."

He stomach sank when Dumbledore mentioned Harry. Harry's fragile mortality that held him back. That prevented him from truly living. Harry's life was in danger more than Voldemort's was, and that was a problem.

Harry wouldn't consent to making a Horcrux though, would he? Harry was okay with the use of Dark Magic in moderation, though Voldemort wasn't so certain that he'd welcome Soul Magick. He would probably heavily deny the idea, among other things.

His consort was mortal.

No one had ever come along that affected Voldemort like Harry did. He did not want to lose the boy's snark, or the amused twist of his lips when he called Voldemort a twat. He didn't like thinking about a day where the only person to directly challenge him - without the intention of being an arsehole - would be gone.

"I see you understand," said Dumbledore, sounding pleased as he folded his hands together. "So what do you plan to do about it?"

What could he do about it?

Voldemort was powerful and intelligent, but he wasn't omniscient, no matter how well he played at being such.

Dumbledore was eyeing him firmly. "I'm sure you are aware of your distant relation to Harry, through a common bloodline. I'm also certain that I do not need to explain why that line was so famous."

At Voldemort's blank look, the man continued.

"I did extensive research on both the Potter Family's Invisibility Cloak, and the Wand of Elder that I won from Gellert. You'd be interested to know that they are indestructible to everything, and that they grant very… peculiar abilities to the owner. I also believe that the stone, alongside the wand, is in your possession."

"Are you talking about the Deathly Hallows?" asked Voldemort, incredulous. It was a children's story. It couldn't possibly be real.

"Mmm. Your grandfather's ring would make a nice engagement ring, wouldn't it? That stone is quite fetching. Unique even."

And with that. Dumbledore stood, waved away the ward that kept their conversation private, and walked away.

Voldemort was left to consider many things he hadn't thought of before. He also had to evaluate the deviousness of Albus too-many-bloody-names Dumbledore.


The wards around Reginald's property weren't like Voldemort had expected. Basically, the Runes Master had employed impressive protections around his home. And for most, they would be a problem. But Voldemort was the Greatest Dark Lord in History. He had Masteries in many subject, including Runes.

Plus with his abundant power and control, he very easily broke through the wards. Those which were crisscrossed and those that overlapped.

It was an interesting piece of work that included some Blood Magick, some Wiccan Magic, and a well placed Fidelius Charm.

Voldemort held nothing back, unleashing his magic and full on attacking the intricate web of protections that had been made to keep Reginald safe from danger. However, Voldemort wasn't just dangerous, he was calm. And when facing someone whose anger was in perfect control, things would get a lot worse that what they originally appeared to be.

Voldemort batted away a preexisting curse that was supposed to lob his head off. He also shielded himself easily against the external traps set on the small manor.

His magic felt around the web, breaking the weakest links first. The best way to win, was not to destroy the first layer, and then the second layer, and so on and so forth, it was to destroy the weakest parts you could find first. Instead of expending excess energy on trying to break the hardest protections immediately, Voldemort preferred to dismantle the structure in his own way.

Each layer had a few specific places that were easy to tear through, allowing Voldemort's overwhelming magic to slip through and continue onward.

Once he reached the main ward stone of the estate, Voldemort's magic surrounded the object and crushed it instantly.

The rest of the wards fell, and the air rippled at the fluctuation of power.

Voldemort immediately set up several anti-Apparition and anti-Portkey wards.

"Accio Reginald."

The window on the top floor, shattered as No-Name's body was pulled through it.

Voldemort deposited him on the ground none too gently, and smirked as the coward sputtered.

"So you thought you could get revenge for yourself, did you? We're going to have some fun before I take you in,"

The man sputtered and called for his Elves, but none came.

Voldemort's sharp grin could probably summon devils if he wanted it to.


"Where did Voldemort go?" Harry demanded, looking around and feeling very unhappy at the moment. The man was supposed to be resting. Sleeping. Gaining back his strength after surviving a near death experience.

Instead, the moment he turned his back, the other decided that he was going to go gallivanting around without so much as a care for his own health.

Vashti wrung her ears a little. "Master Voldy took some potions and then left. He did not say where he bes going, but that he would 'be back soon'."

The wards rippled for a moment, and Harry darted off for the front door in order to confront the other man and to take him to task for ignoring his own health.

When Voldemort walked into however, Harry's words died on his lips. Levitating right behind the man, was one Reginald No-Name, looking as if he'd just lived through WWII and was unfortunate enough to tell the tale.

"You found him that easily?" asked Harry incredulous beyond measure.

Voldemort merely flashed a smirk. "Timing is everything, dear Harry. And I am not a wizard who is confined by time."

And with that, the man turned and motioned for Harry to follow. "I'm certain there are a few people who will want to witness this one's upcoming trial."

Harry summoned his scarf from his room, and wrapped the fabric around his neck. It was December, and the snow had fallen in heaps. No one could blame him. "I'm ready."


"Magical Britain, I am proud to announce that on this day, the epidemic is finally over!"

The gathered citizens cheered uproariously, some happiness finally coming to their faces. The twentieth of December was to be marked down as an important day in Magical Britain's history. They day the disease was finally eradicated.

"We have apprehended all those responsible for the hardships you all have had to endure. I present to you, Reginald No-Name, Dolores Umbridge, and Mundungus Fletcher."

The three were brought out, surrounded by heavy guard and magical barriers. The public booed and hurled insults. They demanded punishment.

"I have overruled the decision of killing them outright, because death would honestly be a reprieve for them, and I feel they must suffer for their actions, do you all not agree?"

Voldemort's charm was heavily at work, his glamoured smile blinding in the light of the room. The crowd echoed their agreement with his decision, making him even more pleased.

"We will be holding drawing, if you will. Each of you will choose the coloured ball with the punishment you most agree with. You will then place it in the jar before you. One of them will be chosen at random, by myself. The chances of your preferred punishment being used, depends on how many more of your coloured ball is available."

The citizens went berserk and rushed forward when given permission.

And Voldemort stood there, smiling calmly through it all. Because everything was right with the world finally, and he didn't have much to worry about from now on.

Once the decision was made, he would then be conferring the First Class, Order of Merlins.

But one thing at a time of course.

Harry's pleased grin stood out most in the crowd, reminding Voldemort that not all of his worries were handled.

He had research to do.


A/N: The first is done!

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Chapter Text

A/N: Hello, people!

I don't own Harry Potter.

I have no beta.

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Harry could honestly say that he was happy to return to his work in Diagon Alley. No more scares, no more deaths, no more sitting behind a desk panicking over whether or not he was making the correct decisions. Just he and the animals and some peace and quiet in their solitude. That was so much more appealing to him. Of course some people thought he should go on holiday, but he wasn't so worn out that that was necessary yet.

Maybe later. At some point in time when business was a lot slower, he could afford to take that sort of time off. At present it would not be beneficial to anyone if he were to just up and depart. Not so soon after the pandemic.

Sirius and Remus had finally been awoken and despite looking like they needed to sleep for six weeks, they were fine. And if Harry cried and hugged them for the first time in years, then that was their business and no one else's. Harry wasn't the kind of person who cried or expressed emotions in a tumultuous manner, but he had given up his control for a few moments just to be honest with his family.

Also, he did not cry much, but tears were shed and shoulders were wet when he was finished. It was proof of the fact that he had been more affected by the happenings than he had let on. Thankfully only a few people were there to witness his minor breakdown.

Harry wasn't cold-hearted or anything, he was just extremely awkward when it came to physical affection with human beings. It wasn't like it was foreign to him or anything. He had loving family willing to dote upon him at any chance after all. Harry had just not been the kind of child who wanted to be smothered in love all the time, so he resisted physical displays of affection and left them for only important situations. Actions spoke louder than words in those instances.

His godfathers not dying of a horrible magic eating disease was obviously a good enough situation for him to get emotional in. He didn't regret a second of it.

Also, something he'd been waiting for for like ten years had finally happened. Sirius finally realised just how important Remus was to him and finally taken that step Harry had been expecting for quite some time.

During his childhood, Harry had mistakenly assumed many times that the big news he was about to be given was Sirius' proposal to Remus. And every time he was let down in one way or another. But one would think that if the idea was brought up so often by a child, then maybe they had the right idea. Maybe it held merit of some sort and maybe they should look into just why said child would bring up the same topic over and over.

The two men had sought each other out the moment Snape had administered the cure. The very moment their eyes had opened and they had seen one another. Harry had stood by, watching as their eyes slowly opened and their bodies softened. Skin turning from that disgusting shade of grey to a more human colouring. Remus' head had turned first until he was staring at Sirius like the other could steal the moon with his bare hands. As for Sirius, he'd actually reached out for Remus first, and Remus met him halfway, linking fingers with him. The two shared eye contact for several moment like that.

After that, Snape simply pushed their beds together so they wouldn't be reaching across the empty three feet to touch one another. Many things could be said about Severus Snape. He was cold, a bit of an arsehole, and he definitely hated the Marauders with everything in him, but at the same time, he could be compassionate, kind, and lenient in his own ways.

So while Moony and Padfoot had been shocked at the action, Harry wasn't in the least. He was one of those few who understood Snape in a way that seemed difficult for others. The man he'd come to know was capable of much, people just needed to give him a chance. They needed to open their eyes and seem him for who he really was, instead of letting their assumptions guide them.

And to top it off, when Sirius asked for Moony's hand, Snape did not ruin the moment with some sort of sarcastic remark, proving that he could definitely be mature even in situations he despised. That was something for Harry to look up to.

And the proposal itself set some very high expectations in Harry's mind.

Draco Malfoy had awakened to Hermione Granger sitting at his bedside and their reunion was nothing like Sirius and Remus' was. It was a silent communication between them. Eyes flashing every few seconds as they looked nowhere else but at one another. Their hands had been connected the entire time, and Harry felt as if he was missing something vital between them. Obviously their relationship has advanced beyond what he had formerly envisioned.

Rigel's father was also awake again, and Bellatrix was ecstatic. It also meant that Rigel would seen be allowed to return to Hogwarts along with the rest of the Dark aligned student body. Thankfully McGonagall had made sure to keep everyone up with their schoolwork in sending it home so students would not be behind in any class they may have.

Things were looking up.

Harry sighed and went to go and sit in his lounge. If no one was coming in today, he'd spend his hours in peace. Read a good book and have some hot tea to keep the good mood flowing. Perhaps even close the shop just so he could go and rest.

The wards wiggled a bit against his magic, alerting him that someone had just walked into the shop. Harry did a quick one-eighty, knowing that he wasn't going to be making tea any time soon apparently. Just when he had finally decided to stop waiting too!

Or maybe not, because it was Voldemort who had walked in with Nagini wrapped around his body. The man was glamoured as usual and looked ridiculous with the great snake wrapped around his form so tightly. Nagini seemed in no way affected by the displeasure her master was practically buzzing with.

The serpent merely raised the end of her tail and gave an excited wave. §Hi, Harry! Master has come to 'ask you out'!§

The look Voldemort sent his familiar sent Harry into a fit of laughter. Any attempt the man made to be smooth was always ruined by Nagini, and Harry loved it so much! He'd come in, probably with the intent to to be suave and seductive and ask Harry out for lunch, and then in comes darling Nagini, completely ruining whatever plan he had before he could even begin the first phase.

Harry placed an elbow on the counter and rested his chin on his hand once his laughter subsided. He eyed the Dark Lord with interest and smiled calmly. "So what did you want, my dearest twat waffle?"

There was a moment of silence, before the man sighed and said, "I had hoped to ask if you'd like to accompany for lunch."

Harry's brow rose in silent astonishment. A lunch date of all things with the Dark Lord, but Voldemort looked serious. The man honestly was trying and it would be shameful if Harry did not try to meet him halfway. Besides, both of them were completely new to these kinds of things and Harry was comforted by the fact that Voldemort was just as lost at what to do, as Harry was. It made him feel more normal that way and it made the lord seem more human. More reachable. As if he wasn't some immortal god beyond his grasp. Harry had grown up thinking of Voldemort in a particular way and the past year and a half had done exceedingly well in proving him mostly incorrect.

Voldemort was not infallible. It was a harsh lesson, but it was a lesson learned.

"Or, instead of going out and having to remain genial among the adoring public, we can order takeaway and eat here. I have a kitchen," Harry responded, gesturing behind him to the open doorway. Also, he just really didn't like being around people if he didn't have to be.

Voldemort sent him a confused look and Harry flushed. "You wouldn't have to wear the glamour here either."

The other man's grin became devilish, twisting his glamoured face into a look that Harry was sure would make normal folks quiver for reasons far beyond fear. Harry wasn't normal though and while the Dark Lord's glamour was attractive in the aesthetic sense, and he could very well appreciate beauty from a particular standpoint, Voldemort's true form was sexy as hell and Harry liked looking. No one could blame him nor his body for liking Voldemort's true appearance. It was just the way he was mentally wired.

"Mr. Potter, I do believe that you are becoming quite the rake."

Harry snorted. "If I'm a rake, then you're a rogue."

Voldemort was given pause as he actually considered Harry's comment. "I think I'd be more of a rascal. I'm am pretty honest to a fault and I do have principles, just not the kind people usually consider to be important."

That was very true.

"Fine. You rascal."

The shared a smirk, and Harry took a moment to stretch his arms out a few times, feeling a few things pop into place. It was good. A jog out to London would do him some good.

"Now, what kind of food are you partial to? As we're near the heart of London, we have a plethora of restaurants to choose from and I'm actually not feeling up to cooking something right now. It'll be something good though, I know all the best places."

"Anything that will set my tongue aflame. I would like to try something different for once."

"Thai coming up!"

There was a Thai restaurant out in London, near the Leaky Cauldron. He tended to get food there a lot because they had some of the best piquant foods he could get his hands on. And now he'd get to share the little slice of heaven with Voldemort!

"You'll love it!" he promised.


"What exactly is this called and where can I get more?" Voldemort asked, holding up a piece of prawn and eying it curiously. Harry could see his forked tongue just slightly through his parted lips and had to bite his own tongue hard in order to keep himself under control. The Runespoor would never let him live it down if they found out.

Harry smiled innocently through the minor pain and told the older wizard, "It's a soup called Tom Yum."

The man's glare had him laughing again. It was rare that Harry managed to execute such a perfect pun and damn it all was he proud of it! Also, Voldemort actually understood, which made it all the better! How many times had he been punny and no one had been capable of appreciating his effort? It was nice to know that someone could at least understand the way his mind works, even if they didn't necessarily think it to be humorous.

"I've never had Thai before," Voldemort admitted a while later, setting his fork down. "I have sampled Cambodian cuisine on the rare occasion, but it never occurred to me to try other foods beyond what the House Elves prepare. It isn't like there is a need for me to go and try new foods. I have more important things to do than to worry over what my next meal is going to be made of."

"That's boring," said Harry blandly.

At Voldemort's pointed look, Harry clarified, "No progression; nothing new. You just keep doing the same thing over and over and nothing ever changes. I bet the tournament was the first interesting thing to happen to you in years aside from an almost war that had next to no real danger for you, and no adventure because you decided you wanted as little deaths as possible."

Voldemort didn't need to say anything because Harry knew that he was right. Almost two decades of no fighting, no war, and no battles to fight in. No-Name's pandemic had been the most dramatic thing to happen in Magical Britain in a long time. Except for the Dark Lord Lars Estruc who tried to take over Hogwarts back in 90', though he was no match for Voldemort. But other than that, everything was probably boring.

"You stagnate really quickly because being the best at everything loses its appeal after a while. No one is even near your power level at present and it could be years before someone comes along who can actually give you a challenge. Living forever is going to be really boring for you, because eventually you'll fall into a pattern where the world changes around you and you'll find nothing new despite how obvious it'll be. You go through the motions and just waste away while doing so."

They continued to eat in silence. Nagini was resting by the hearth. It was almost quiet enough for Harry to hear his own heartbeat. He wondered if he'd gone a little too far, but at the same time he did not regret anything he said, because he felt that deep down, he was correct. Doing the same thing for all of eternity just sounded so annoying and he didn't understand why Voldemort would want to live forever. Not wanting to die aside, it didn't seem like something worthwhile in Harry's opinion, so he would probably never be able to understand.

"Would you ever consider immortality?" Voldemort asked suddenly, eyes incredibly serious as he leaned over Harry's small kitchen table. As if getting closer to the younger man would bring him the answer faster. He didn't even had to consider his answer though.

Placing his fork down, Harry shook his head with surety and met the man's gaze head on. "No. I'm not particularly scared of dying, so I do not see the appeal in living forever. I can see that it would be boring. Just look at the Flamels. They are almost seven hundred and have begun discussing plans to stop using the Philosopher's Stone. They are weary and old now. They've seen it all. The world has lost their interest and can no longer keep it.

"I wouldn't want to be a seven hundred year old wizard who was going nowhere. Learning isn't exactly something I consider to be fun, so I would never choose to live forever simply because I want to become all-knowing or all-powerful. And as my friends and family will die eventually, it'd be really boring just going through a cycle of getting new friends every fifty years or so and then having to let them go over and over."

He shook his head, hating the very thought of having to stay in the same place for eternity, unable to move on or grow in any manner. "And what about children?" he asked rhetorically. "The thought of a parent having to bury their child is terrible. I would like to have at least one child in my life, and I don't want to go through the pain of losing them and having to bury them."

Sure, anything could happen, but if he were to be immortal, he would no doubt have to watch such a thing, and he didn't want to.

Voldemort's mood was pensive from then on, and Harry wondered why the man cared at all about Harry's opinion on the situation.

Perhaps Nagini could tell him later. It was easy to get information out of her if he provided her with her favorite food and offered a good rubbing in exchange for some… information. And he'd make sure to do it when Voldemort was nowhere to be seen of course.

§Oh wonderful, the smelly two-legger is back to normal. Life was better with you gone.§

Both Voldemort and Harry turned to face the being that had spoken Parseltongue. And as neither of them had spoken, and Nagini was sleeping in front of the fire, he knew who it was. The Runespoor, who was slithering out to the door way on the far side of the room.

Voldemort sent Harry an unimpressed/terse look. §Why, on Merlin's ancient grave, is that thing in your house?§

§Because I very well couldn't leave them at Hogwarts where they'd probably eat some of the other creatures or animals out of pure boredom!§ Harry insisted, jaw jutting out in defiance. §Besides, they were more safe being with me than being locked in a barn like all the others. And as I'm the only one who can actually feed them and understand their desires, it just worked out better this way.§

Of course it was too much to hope that the serpent would just go about their merry business or possible go and bother Nagini. Instead, the Runespoor slithered on over and latched onto Harry's leg, using him as a means to get up onto the table.

He almost winced at the look Voldemort was sending the creature and had to remind himself that the creature could defend itself just fine without him. And if Voldemort tried something and lost, it was his own fault.

The Severus head lifted and it's tongue flicked out a few times. §You scent less of arousal now and more of death. It's much more preferable.§

Harry actually winced that time when he saw the slits of Voldemort's nostrils, flare. Not much, but it was still noticeable enough to show that the man was irritated. Of course the Dark Lord would be very touchy about the whole situation, seeing as he had a fear of death and didn't like to be reminded of almost dying and being unaware of it. And having the Runespoor, which he didn't even like, saying something snarky about it, made it even worse. Where was the vaunted cunning that serpents were supposed to be known for? Why did the Runespoor feel the need to aggravate Voldemort so much?

§And you are hideous,§ the Severus head went on to say, head tilted upward imperiously. §Two-leggers should not attempt to take on animal traits or physical characteristics. They fail spectacularly. You are nothing compared to my great beauty.§

The Hermione head scoffed. §You most certainly are not the beautiful one among us.§

Severus' head turned to glare at Hermione, eyes narrowed. The hissing sounds intensified, accenting the words with barely restrained anger. §What would you even know? All you do is sit there and think about ridiculous things all day.§

Of course the three headed serpent ended up getting into an argument with itself, which ended with Harry having to stun them so that Luna and Hermione didn't gang up on Severus and bite his head off. That was the price of watching after a Runespoor. It was keeping them complacent and making sure one of the heads wasn't killed in the process.

He levitated the creature to Nagini's side and cracked a smile when the great serpent acknowledge them with a bump of the head. He gave Voldemort his attention once more, knowing the man would like it and it would help calm him down some more.

§I'm sorry about them,§ he told his… fiance. §Don't take anything Severus said to heart. He's just angry at humans in general and really doesn't like you, so he'll say anything to offend you or embarrass you. He is wrong and honestly wouldn't understand you well enough to be able to say anything correct about you.§

Voldemort merely scoffed. §Not as wrong as you may think.§ The self-deprecation in his tone was so unnerving considering whom he was dining with. And it also annoyed Harry to no bloody end! Had he not made himself and his interests abundantly clear many times over? Had the man not teased him over his interest merely an hour ago? How did he forget so quickly?

Reaching across the table, and taking a very big leap of faith that he hoped didn't come back to bite him in the arse, he cuffed the Dark Lord upside his big bald head, earning himself a gaping look of shock for his efforts. §You are making things more awkward than they need to be! You know that I like you and that I don't give a bleedin' damn about your appearance. And apparently, as it has yet to sink in for you, I find your snakey form sexually appealing! So stop with this drama already! It could have been worse for you, remember that. And if it bothers you so much what other people would think, remember that the person you decided you wanted to marry, likes it and only their opinion should matter in the end.§

Voldemort's thin and naturally pallid face coloured a light shade of lavender. His form of blushing, Harry had come to realise. Seeing the man acting so demure was odd, but it also made Harry grin. He didn't care how long it took, but he was going to get Voldemort used to the fact that Harry much preferred his original form. Even if he had to make terrible come ons to do it.

And as they grew closer, it would be less awkward to do so over time. All for the sake of a possible romance. And being able to get Voldemort to blush every now and then. There was a certain high that came form it and Harry intended to elicit such responses as often as possible.

He could be relentless too.


"How have you been holding up, Harry?"

The weekly dinners - which hadn't been followed through in over a month thanks to half the family being nearly fatally ill - had started up once more. Harry found himself seated in his usual chair in his parents' kitchen, his mother having insisted that since he'd been such a big help in the finding of a cure, he didn't need to help.

It didn't make any sense to him seeing that she had also been working nonstop to help, so why did she have to do the cooking? Remus could cook. Though technically he was still light headed most of the time so it was probably best for him not to use magic or anything that could be turned into a weapon or used to hurt oneself. But the idea was very much the same. Lily was not the only person who could cook.

Sirius had asked Harry the very question that had him so very confused on what to say.

He'd had to go against all of his plans and accept Voldemort's Consort Ring. He nearly lost his family. He lost his beloved Kneazle that had been almost as old as he. He very nearly lost Voldemort. Animals and people had died. The past two months were practically hell and he honestly hated almost every moment. And forgetting all of it was out of the question simply because certainly things had transpired that needed to be remembered. Some memories he wouldn't wish to forget.

Some, like those spent talking to Tom or Nagini, or visiting the Chamber of Secrets, or finally getting the announcement of the cure, had been great. And watching Voldemort awaken from spending so long in a coma, had been such a relieving feeling. But the darkness kind of overshadowed those rare moments of joy.

So no, he wasn't really doing well. But he wouldn't complain or anything. It could have been a lot worse and as he had worked his arse off to keep things running smoothly, he would just be grateful that things were relatively normal again.

"Fine," he answered instead, not wanting to plague anyone with unnecessary worries. He did not miss the look his mother sent his way, but he merely raised his glass to take a long drink of gillywater in any attempt to ignore the knowledge in the eyes she'd passed on to him. He didn't feel like confronting those emotions at the bloody dinner table.

"You're Consort Slytherin," Remus said casually, pausing in his cutting of his chicken in order to send Harry a look of mild disinterest. "I suppose we should be congratulating you now?"

There was an odd feeling in his gut when his godfather said such a thing. He'd practically already taken the Dark Lord's family name and now that his position was pretty much spread across Magical Britain, everyone would know and they would start referring to him as such. And then he would get even more attention than normal, which was so annoying..

The stalking from the Tournament had been bad, but now he could only imagine what would happen. What people would have to say and what other annoying reporters or journalists would try to shadow his everyone movement. Cameras in his face whenever the opportunity presented itself. The outside world would in now way be safe once people made up their minds.

Oh well. It gave him even more of an excuse to avoid people. Less drama for him and less anxiety attacks while in public. None of that sudden drop of energy where his intolerance peaked too fast for him to keep up with.

After his and Voldemort's 'date' the other day, he'd learned just how protective and obsessed the Dark Lord could be. No one could say that Voldemort was not invested in keeping whatever he valued, safe. The man went over and above the call of duty for a suitor or potential spouse. At least in Harry's opinion, not that he was well versed in these areas or anything.

He'd been given a ring. A very old ring that held a lot of history. And set into the ring was a stone as black as death, that looked very strange and felt freezing to the touch. A small symbol was etched into the stone. A circle inside a triangle and a perpendicular line bisecting the two. A very odd symbol that he'd recognised from his studies on Grindelwald, though no one seemed to know what it meant.

Voldemort gave him a very basic rundown of the ring itself.

It was formerly a possession of Cadmus Peverell - the ancestor linking both he and Voldemort's lines through his younger brother Ignotus - and had been passed down in the Gaunt family for years. Cadmus Peverell married a Phrowenia Gaunt and settled down in England with her. Said woman was the daughter of Slytherin's only daughter. Both had been middle aged when they met, and sired twin sons only. She died of Dragon Pox and it sent the man into Depression in which he killed himself to join her.

The ring was a Horcrux as well and had an unholy amount of protections on it, much like the diary and Nagini both did, and could only be destroyed by Basilisk venom. If it sensed hostile intentions toward its bearer, it would react one way or another. Voldemort had him promise to not remove it unless absolutely necessary.

If he focused magic into it, it would alert Voldemort to there being a problem and the man would appear somehow, even if he had to force his way through powerful wards to do so.

Needless to say, Harry was very much protected at present, so there was no need to worry about being in danger from external assault of any sort. If someone decided they would try something with him because he was now Consort Slytherin, he wasn't all too worried over what might happen to him. The fate of his assaulter however… was another story.

But just because he wasn't particularly affected by the idea, didn't mean he wanted people to bother him. His life was his own personal business and the truth of the world was that fame was a fickle friend and while he might be well known at present, people always had those moments where they showed their true colors. He'd witnessed enough of such too many times in his life.

He didn't want to be hounded and badgered by people. He didn't want to deal with invasions of privacy. Already that week, he'd gotten three people coming into his shop not looking for help, but trying to get answers out of him about his situation with the Dark Lord. And each time it happened, he could only think of Bellatrix and wonder if it was terrible for him to think about asking her for help in dealing with the mounting drama. Or maybe Hermione since she had been taking such deep lessons from the Dark Witch.

He shrugged. "A minor change in status does not change my decision to make him work for it. We had a long talk and he now understands what I'm looking for. Of course him falling ill had put a strain on things and lengthened the time for 'wooing' considerably, but he's already trying even though I'm sure he doesn't fully understand even the concepts of love or romance. Not that I really understand all too much either."

James made a face, which Harry could definitely understand well enough. Thinking of the man you were raised to view as the devil in human skin, doing romantic things, had to be gross. Harry did not concur with the thought of Voldemort being gross in any way, but he could at least see where his family was coming from. He couldn't begrudge them their feelings.

"So whatever was wrong has been solved between you?" Lily asked a moment later, looking at him with a hesitancy that he didn't expect to see. But it did help remind him of something. Something he'd forgotten during the pandemic.

The last time they'd had a proper talk, it was after Voldemort announced the winner of the Tourney and Harry had been under the impression that he'd been lied to and made a fool of. He'd spoken briefly with her over the situation, not giving much away but still telling her enough for her to understand some of his feelings. Just so she could get a small glimpse of his dilemma.

He flushed at the reminder that Dumbledore of all people had to give him the basics just so he would even talk to the Dark Lord. And then to learn from Voldemort himself, the truth and reasoning for his actions.

"Dumbledore told me a few things," Harry said quietly, hoping that he was not blushing at all. "I explained part of the situation and he told me not to make assumptions and revealed that what I thought was fake, was real, and what everyone else sees, is false."

Lily's eyes brightened in understanding, but James, Sirius, and Remus all still looked confused. Not that Harry planned to elaborate any further.

He didn't want to reveal Voldemort's secret. Not even to his family. The man's true name was known to them already, but he did not want to just give away something so precious. Especially since Voldemort seemed to be self-conscious about his appearance and literally chose his consort based on whether or not they could at least tolerate his serpentine form. He'd been insecure about it and made his last Task a test of character in a sense.

Did the remaining three competitors have the willpower to at least handle his truth so they could benefit from what he had to offer them? Only Harry did. Harry liked it even, not that the man seemed to grasp such a thing. Voldemort found himself repulsive. It was kind of sad to consider. And it was also no one's business.

"You aren't in danger though, right?" asked Sirius, looking almost deadly, if the pun could be pardoned, serious. "Your, whatever is going on between you, is safe and relatively sane, right?"

Interesting, how he had to frame it as 'relatively sane'.

Harry cracked an amused smile. "For the time being. Padfoot doesn't need to make an appearance any time soon, trust me."

The dinner proceeded normally and no mention of Voldemort or his Knights came up again.


Voldemort rubbed a hand over his face in frustration. None was aimed at Harry of course, but being the leader of a nation of people was a taxing job and he had a month and a half worth of drama to catch up on. And it was as if drama had occurred every damn day he'd been... unwell.

At least as ordered, Tom had helped Harry to the best of his ability, so he could not take his anger out on the diary. It had done its job, plain and simple. Harry hadn't made any foolish decisions and had met with the French Minister in his stead.

And that was a story and a half. A story that he'd managed to squeeze from both Tom and Nagini. He'd yet to speak with Harry about it, because there was no real time as of late, but he would eventually get all the information. A 'date' was not the time or place to bring up such uncomfortable memories.

Harry had Charmed himself into Voldemort. He'd planned to meet the Minister and his entourage as Consort Slytherin, but was worried on making up an excuse for Voldemort being absent. The best lies alway shad a bit of truth in them, but he didn't want to have to make up something. He also didn't want Magical Britain to appear weak in the eyes of the world if they found out Voldemort of all beings was on his deathbed, so he decided to just glamour himself and have Nagini rest across his shoulders like Voldemort sometimes had he lay when he wanted to be a little dramatic.

That was where Harry's talent as an Orator came in. Speaking Parseltongue was something Voldemort was well known for. He was the only wizard in the Europe who could currently speak the Serpent's Tongue. So Harry randomly hissing things back and forth with Nagini had sold the entire act very well and impressed the Minister very much. Then again, the fool was someone easy to impress.

Still, the discussion had taken some strange turns if what he read in Harry's notes, were true.

By that, the Minister, a young man who was rather new to his position, having only been seated in such for three years, kept getting off track. He would ask Harry - whom he assumed was the Dark Lord Voldemort - about his choice in consort. What his plans for his family were. If he planned to keep his roots deeply set in Magical Britain or if he ever planned to pack up and move elsewhere.

It raised alarms in Voldemort's head. Why did the French Minister need to know any of that? Why would it be any of his business?

Thankfully, Harry was a Slytherin at heart and he had easily steered the discussion back to where it was supposed to go. Strategies and border control. Possible threats to the mainland's safety due to the rising new of a Dark Lady with questionable aims coming up from Greece and making her way across the lower half of the continent, leaving strange occurrences in her wake. Possibility of an alliance should she decide to start something.

He would have to personally look into the situation and make sure that she could in no way entire his territory. The French seemed to be one hundred percent against her, and even the International Confederation of Wizards seemed to find her troublesome and demanded to be notified if anyone saw her. They wanted to keep track of her movements at all times, whenever possible.

So much to catch up on.

He sometimes abhorred his job. Why did he decide that it was a good thing to become a Dark Lord?

§Master, the meat in the dungeon is squirming and wailing. May I eat him?§ asked Nagini, using her most whingy tone to try to persuade him to give in.

That was why. Time to relieve some stress. And then let Nagini have her fun.

He stood and motioned for Nagini to follow. The paperwork could wait until later.


"The Ministry Ball again?" Hermione groaned, remembering the last one very well and glowering at the wall.

Back then, she had been a little lost and perhaps a bit moody. She got mouthy with a few people and practically burned a hole in her best friend's back because it had looked like the Dark Lord was showing him favourtism. Which he was, but she didn't need to be such a damned twat over it. Merlin, she had been embarrassing in the early stages of her dive into the Dark Arts.

Draco drew himself up, nose tilted toward the ceiling. "Of course. We both know that we are going to attend and that it'll be held the night before Yule. I figured it would be a good time for us to spend together before we are inevitably swept away by our individual family plans."

She and Draco had a thing. Not a big thing, but it existed and it was sort of deep despite how they went about it.

She didn't understand it. She enjoyed his company, found him to be a decent bloke if truth be told. He was funny and like she, had been trained by Bellatrix Lestrange, so he could understand her a bit. He could predict her to an extent and just knew what she'd ask before she even asked.

Though his training wasn't as excessive as Hermione's because Hermione was Bella's protege. Still, he knew his Dark Arts very well and knew how to talk to someone. He was knowledgeable in ways she wasn't and if asked correctly, would help if it was necessary.

The Malfoy Heir paid more attention to her than any other girl at Hogwarts. Even if it consisted of only small greetings here and there, or a nod. He didn't even do so for the fellow Slytherins in his own year. She had foolishly assumed it was a sort of competitive acknowledgement. They were both top students of their Houses and in the same Year. It only made sense that he would view her as competition.

Never once had someone shown an interest in Hermione, yet there Draco Malfoy was, doing just what she had never expected of anyone.

How odd.

Whatever they had wasn't like normal romantic relationships, because there was mostly a lot of silence between them and intense staring. Maybe some hand holding. Neither felt the need to touch more beyond that, but still enjoy one another's company. It felt good.

It was hard to describe. They liked one another enough to spend nights together simply discussing anything. Went out a few times, or ate in at her flat. Draco could cook, she had learned. Hermione couldn't cook. It was an interesting piece of information.

He didn't pressure for sex; she felt no need to even think about it in any capacity most of the time. Still no desire to try anything beyond what they already had going on.

And it was nice. They worked well together.

She didn't know how far it would go, but she was contented for the time being.

"I would be glad to go to the Ball with you, Draco."

The young man's triumphant grin was enough for her to see that he had been a little worried about her response.

Draco Malfoy was scared of being refused by Hermione Granger.

What a strange happenstance.


τIs it truly safe to venture outside once again?τ Luxra asked the moment Harry had opened the door to the barn. Snape had finally given the okay for all the animals and creatures to be released back into their habitats around Hogwarts, so it was a big day for the creatures who had been trapped inside and in fear for so many weeks. The day of freedom had finally come upon them and many seemed to be itching to get out and properly stretch their legs once more.

He gave a sharp nod. τYou are all safe now. Things will not be returning to what they were because we now have a considerable amount of the cure on hand and should something happen, it'll be taken care of immediately.τ

The herd, which had lingered to listen to his words, turned and took wing, heading for the Dark Forest immediately. Their black bodies blocked out the sun for a few moments until they were gone. Only Nox stayed behind, rubbing against his side and nudging his head with her beak.

τI missed you,τ she confessed. τNone of the other foal are fun to play with and they are all too focused on becoming better so they might become head of the herd one day. I do not wish to do the same. I want to have fun with my friends.τ

Thestral hierarchy was so confusing at times.

τI missed you as well.τ

Harry moved toward the pens, waving his wand to break the invisible barrier keeping all the animals in their own magically extended places.

They all bolted for the outside immediately. Hagrid had done the best he could by himself, but it was obvious that the animals had wanted freedom badly. He was happy to see them frolicking, and he could hear their jubilant cries from where he stood in the doorway, arms crossed as he leaned on Nox's side.

Thank Circe the pandemic was over. He was so grateful that no other animals he was close to had suffered. Nox and her herd were safe. The Runespoor had come home with him and now lived comfortably in his bed when he wasn't there. Nagini's protections had kept her unaffected by anything that had happened.

Shelob had been old for a feline, so he knew that it had been close already. He just wished it didn't have to happen because of some magic eating sickness.

Nox bumped his shoulder and crooned in his ear. He gave in and began to stroke her wing.

There was no need to dwell on sad things. Reginald, Umbridge, and Fletcher would get theirs once the holidays were finished and the punishments the populace had chosen were configured. Life would go back to normal and he and Voldemort could get back to their… courtship, uninhibited by any other drama.


Severus stared out at the Hall full of students and nodded his head. It was good to see the students back in their classes. He was relieved to see that there weren't large gaps at the tables and that the students overall seemed well.

However there were a few empty spaces that he could see the Gryffindors and the Slytherins attempting to cover up by not sitting as closely as usual. If he had been faster in creating a cure, those spaces wouldn't exist at all.

A low sigh through a constricted throat filled the air.

"It is a consolation to welcome back the students who had to take a leave of absence, and see that you are all well. And while we will indeed celebrate everyone's expeditious convalescence, let us take a moment of silence for those among our community who were not fortunate enough to return."

Every head bowed immediately, and Severus tried not to let Minerva's hand, that rested upon his shoulder, bother him so much.

He needed some brandy.


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A/N: Hello, people!

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CHECK ME OUT ON TUMBLR. HELLY-WATERMELONSMELLINFELLON. I FOLLOW BACK.


It had been an hour already. The Dark Lord had started off the festivities with an official announcement of the punishments in store for those convicted of spreading the pandemic around. Personally, though it was probably influenced by her being tutored by Bellatrix for almost a year, Hermione thought the punishment chosen was far too lenient. Like there wasn't any lasting damage.

Each of the accused would be forced to swallow the very poison that ended up ruining Magical Britain for almost three months. But there was a much higher concentration of Caelite in the dosage created, in order to steal their magic instead of turning them to stone. And slowly, ever so slowly, they would begin to lose their magic as it was sucked away. In return, the poison would be counteracted with weekly injections of a watered down version of the cure. So while not poisoned enough to die or turn to stone, they also wouldn't be healed enough to ever fully get better. And they would be handled specifically by Light Wizards and Witches in the proper gear, in order to prevent any spreading of their illness.

She was more of the opinion that they should suffer longer and harder, but the public had almost unanimously agreed on the punishment, and she had to give Voldemort his deserved praise for including the inhabitants of the countries at least. The man knew how to lead and how to keep the loyalty of his subjects. That was a give in. So while she was unhappy with the punishment chosen, it was irony at its best and at least it had been a fair decision.

Harry was standing beside her, holding a glass of water because neither of them were interested in alcoholic beverages. Despite being legal, the chances of them really getting into liquor were slim. He looked bored and even yawned behind his hand twice already. "Remember when we were younger and thought that this would be infinitely more interesting once we were old enough to interact with the adults and do 'grown up' things too?"

Hermione nodded, feeling Harry's pain. She had attempted to be positive about the Yule Ball the former year. They could have built connections with people. They could get up to date on the local gossip. There were so many opportunities at hand. Or at least she had assumed there were many opportunities. She quickly learned that there wasn't much to learn and that people loved retelling the same bloody story to anybody who would even listen. Last year, while internally stewing in jealousy over Harry's connection to the Dark Lord, Hermione had ended up hearing the same dramatic story from four different people. And one of them eagerly told it a second time when another witch came along, wanting to know the gritty details.

Gossip was only fun the first time. After several times, it got old and boring fast, which was why Hermione's naive idea of the Yule Ball, had been shot to hell and never revived. She now felt like all of her friends did. Annoyed and not in the mood to be wasting her time. As she worked in the Ministry now, she heard a lot of the gossip already, meaning it was nothing new. Hermione required mental stimulation and the vapid fools she had to associate with were not of the same ilk!

The Yule Ball was boring, and this time she had to actually come because she was working in the Ministry and she was a Junior Undersecretary to the Head of her Department, so she couldn't skip. Also, it would look bad on her if she did skip, and her involvement with Draco Malfoy could be compromised should she ignore such an important event.

In no short words, Hermione could feel Harry's frustration on a spiritual level and she mourned as hard as he did.

Harry had to attend for many reasons. Not only was he the Heir to the Houses of Potter and Black, but he was now Consort Slytherin. And wasn't that just a shocking revelation. When Hermione had found out, she had demanded to know if the Dark Lord had threatened him. To which she learned that the illustrious leader of their community, had actually fallen to the pandemic and Harry had to work overtime to save all of their lives alongside Voldemort's most trusted, and those he felt he could also trust.

Hermione's plan to punch the Dark Lord had been pushed back a little, but she was still going to do it! She had planned for it and everything. Just because Harry was dealing with the man in his own way, didn't mean that Hermione was going to go easy on him. He had entered her friend into a competition that was deadly and dangerous all because he thought he could do whatever he wanted without getting caught. Hermione would make him realise his error, even if it got her in trouble. Though Harry would probably stand up for her should the bloody prat start something.

She could only imagine what Bellatrix would do to her once she found out what Hermione had done to her precious master. But sometimes, certain things were worth it in the end. And if Hermione didn't stand up for what she believed in, no matter the circumstances, then what kind of person would that make her?

"Hermione, would you come with me for a moment?"

Turning, she was face to face with the elegant cheekbones and blue eyes of one Draco Malfoy. Her… something. Lover was far too incorrect but friend was too simple to describe their relationship. But it certainly was a relationship unlike any other she had.

Glancing around and seeing the Dark Lord making his way over, Hermione decided that it would do to leave he and Harry alone. After all, Harry seemed to have warmed up to the man after a few months, so Harry could take care of himself now. But she would be watching just to be sure.

She took Draco's hand and waved at Harry as she was lead away. She also ignored his quip about abandonment and simply smiled. Such dramatics.

"What are we doing?" she asked her blond companion quietly as their arms linked.

"I am going to introduce you to my parents."

Bullocks.

She should have worn the heels! She should have worn some bloody jewelry! This was what she got for wanting to be comfortable. Draco springing such a thing on her at the last moment.

Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy were a lot more… human up close. The air the two gave off at formal events usually made Hermione want to avoid them for fear of having to deal with pomposity. However, when one finally decided to get up close, into their sphere of notice, they could see the obvious flaws in both immediately.

From a distance they looked alarmingly perfect. At close range, they looked slightly frail and perhaps a little worn. Off the cuff, Hermione knew she could defeat both of them in a duel because Lucius worked with Bellatrix daily at the Dueling Arena while Narcissa had to run a primary school for magical children. The years had not been so kind to either magical. Unlike Bellatrix, who seemed to thrive under excessive work and stress, neither Malfoy seemed capable of withstanding more than a stiff breeze. Neither had been raised with the intention of being fighters even if they could hold their own. Their prowess lay in politics and education, not dueling.

Was it intentional or not?

"Mother, father," Draco began stiffly, chin jutting outward in an almost obnoxious manner that Hermione had come to find amusing instead of annoying, "this is Hermione Granger. She is Aunt Bella's protege, as well as my girlfriend."

Hermione felt like the bait dangled before the sharks, but she wouldn't let this scare her. After all, she was trained by Bellatrix Lestrange herself, and nothing could ever be more terrifying than that.


§Hello, Harry.§

Said young wizard still wasn't used to being addressed by a human in an animal tongue. It was still so new and the only other times he'd done so was in frustration because Voldemort couldn't pull his head from his arse. This time it was a calm and collected greeting and it made him shiver to realise that Voldemort had his own sort of accent in Parseltongue, which Nagini and the Runespoor most certainly did not possess. It was kind of cute though he would never dare to mention such a thing aloud lest the man become a bigger tosser than he already was.

Harry waved in greeting, knowing that there was no getting out of this. And with the way the Dark Twat was eying him, he was going to ask for something. And since this was a ball of all things, Harry had a feeling that he knew what was coming, and there was no true way to avoid it. Though compared to the former year, his feeling son the matter weren't the same as they used to be.

§Voldemort,§ he greeted. §You look like you are having the time of your life.§ It was sarcasm in the extreme because Voldy did in fact, look like he wanted to murder someone. It showed impeccable self-control for him to withhold the urge.

The Dark Lord sneered, looking more annoyed than charmed at Harry's teasing. Definitely in a sour mood and Harry was probably the only living person who could get away with teasing Voldemort. §If I did not have to deal with some fools in the Ministry before this bloody event had to take place, I probably would be having the time of my life. Unfortunately, not even your beautiful face can make this day any better, Harry.§

The complement got a flush from him and a twinge in his stomach, though he was almost appalled at himself. He'd been given all manner of compliments over the years and never once, from anyone, had Harry's body given a physical reaction. Why did Voldemort's obvious appreciation of his aesthetic appearance please him so much? Surely he wasn't that enamoured with the man to find even the most common of flirtations to be arousing? He had more gumption than this!

Still, there was something about what the older wizard said, that caught his attention. §Who managed to ruin your day?§ And were they still breathing?

A sigh and even a great heave of the shoulders. It was so unnatural for Voldemort's usual manner and Harry had to wonder if maybe he'd been reading the man incorrectly all this time. Because whenever he was with Harry, the man just did things that Harry wouldn't expect him to do in public. Or maybe Voldemort found Harry's company much more tolerable than anyone else which was why he was so free with expressing himself whenever Harry happened to be around?

Both were very possible and Harry liked them very much.

§The reason I decided to pass off the Ministry onto Barty's shoulders was because he trained specifically for years, on how to deal with politicians. He was expected to obtain a high paying ministerial position ever since he was born. He was forced to gain the patience necessary in order to run such a business. I despised being unable to torture people when they frustrated me, so I decided that he would be the best person to foist the position of Minister onto,§ admitted Voldemort, his glamour looking too tired to even be functioning if Harry was being honest. Also, poor Barty.

§The basics of the situation, is that some people are idiots who don't know a damn thing about propriety and cunning. The short version is that I had to come in very early this morning and could in no way leave while I was cleaning up some fool's mess in the Time Room. And the mess was extensive and is currently repeating itself in a loop until we figure out how to stop it.§

Harry couldn't help but wince. Not much was known about the Department of Mysteries, but the Time Room was one such place he'd been made aware of by his parents when he was younger. His father and Sirius were Aurors and had once had to stop a witch who had stolen several Time Turners from the Time Room and then caused chaos by turning each one to a different time and then throwing them at muggles whom she had a strong dislike for. One being the former Prime Minister who had to be treated very thoroughly in St. Mungo's once she was relocated.

The news had been all over Magical Europe because ten missing Time Turners plus the witch that stole them, was something to be concerned about. If Harry recalled, Voldemort ended up having to aid in that particular search as well. The papers had gone on and on about it, and Harry remembered his mother assuring him that his father and Sirius would be alright so long as they didn't have to time travel too much on their own.

Anyway, if Time Turners and the Time Room were involved, he could only imagine the problems Voldemort had to deal with. Awful things happened to wizards who meddled with time when they didn't know what they were doing. An incompetent person working in such a dangerous environment would no doubt cause problems for them all.

Voldemort seemed to be at his limit for the day, and the ball was still three more hours. As the Dark Lord, he could not just up and skip out because there could be a chance of him being needed for something. And Harry wouldn't let him since Harry had to stay around even though his position was minor. So if Harry had to suffer the useless banality of Magical's Britain's populace, Voldemort would as well.

Harry pitied him, he realised. Pitied the Dark Lord. Yet at the same time, the man had literally wanted to rule an entire magical community and influence it for what he thought was better. He had to have been expecting that not everyone was capable of the same intelligence or skill as he. So in a way, he'd asked for it by assuming the position of Magical Britain's leader.

Still...

He vanished his glass of water. "Want to dance with me?" the former Gryffindor offered, holding his now empty hand out expectantly and trying not to make it look like something bigger than what it was. It was just to distract, nothing more and nothing less. He still didn't like dancing.

However, it seemed like Voldemort didn't see things the same way. Probably because it was Harry doing the offering. The man stepped closer, a smile forming on glamoured lips as his eyes lightened considerably. The illusion was so believable that Harry sometimes forgot that it wasn't real.

Unlike the last time he had danced with the Dark Lord, he was not annoyed nor was he on negative terms with the man. And he hadn't been manipulated into the dance this time, so his outlook was a lot brighter. And unlike last time, Voldemort did not crowd around him and make him feel cornered. The man's hand merely rested lightly in the center of Harry's back while the other cupped his hand almost delicately.

It was such a difference that Harry had to blink for a second, stunned. He didn't know why it was all so different this time, but he had to admit to appreciating it a lot more. It also showed what their relationship had somehow become if Voldemort was more considerate of his actions and Harry was actually very comfortable where he was stood.

Dumbledore had been right, which was a shocker. Apparently, he and Voldemort were good for each other on some level. And Harry had attempted to deny it only to fail miserably.

The band that had been playing boring music all evening, seemed to morph into something better, despite nothing changing. It wasn't a waltz, because the timing was off, but it was rather slow. They swayed from side to side.

§I would love to do this all night,§ Voldemort said quietly. §I much prefer your company to anyone else's at the moment. You aren't a fool unlike most of the people I could name, presently. I know that when you are here, I don't feel like murdering anyone and we can all go about our business in well-deserved serenity.§

Another flush worked its way into Harry's face. He liked that. He liked knowing that Voldemort preferred him over other people and that for some reason, he helped calm the man's mood. It was an odd feeling, as it had never occurred, not even when animals or creatures told him that he was their favourite human and that he made them feel better. Voldemort was cut from a different cloth than any other being Harry had ever had contact with and having his approval or admiration, no matter the level, was important.

In Harry's case, he was lucky enough for it to be positive.

He was weak. §I wouldn't mind dancing with you again. Perhaps in private, where you don't have to hide yourself and when we have better music on hand.§ Dancing was usually so boring! This time it was different and he'd only had to dance with one person during this ball whereas in years past, he'd had to do more. And he could imagine what it'd be like when they actually had good music.

Voldemort's resting hand slid down a little, now positioned precariously on Harry's lower back and not even an inch away from Harry's arse. He knew why the man had done so and he couldn't help but tease the man while also working toward his own gain. After all, he liked Voldemort's true appearance and enjoyed looking for however long he wanted. He also liked that his suitor seemed to bask in his attention in a way. He had been the one Voldemort wanted. So of course he liked to see the affects of his teasing.

It was like a power trip in a sense. And Harry was high on it. Enough so that he didn't comment on the man nearly groping him, because strangely enough, he didn't mind it now. If it had been a year ago, he probably would have smacked the other without a second thought. Now he just wanted that hand to trail lower and give him things to think about that night when he was in bed. Now that he actually had sexual feelings and thoughts, he liked to discover and explore boundaries so to speak. If Voldemort was on his mind all the while, that was no one's business but Harry's.

Merlin, his mind had become rather naughty in the last year and a half! It was all Voldemort's fault!

After all, Harry had never wanked before seeing the Dark Lord's true form and he hadn't considered relationships of the sexual variety until the Consort Tournament had been established as an actual thing and he was entered against his will. So yes, all Voldemort's fault, this newly awakened sexual interest in Harry's body. So awkward and amazing all at once and he was busy handling it all on his own.

Not that he minded really. Self-discovery was always an important trip, even if it was just to see which type of handling Harry preferred.

"My Lord," a timid voice squeaked, capturing their attention and making Voldemort stiffen against Harry, who hadn't realised that he'd practically been leaning on the man's chest. He didn't remember doing that, and he wasn't pleased to lose the warmth when he had to pull away, nor did he like how closed off Voldemort became in response to the intruder. He couldn't remember the last time Voldemort had gone so stoic in his presence, and he especially did not like that.

He didn't know the person who had interrupted their dance, but Voldemort seemed to. And he was visibly angry. Hell, Harry was even a little angry. Didn't Voldemort do enough already?

"What," the man grinded out between his teeth, "do you possibly need now?" He looked more and more irate by the second and ready to curse someone should the opportunity arise. His voice was borderline hissing, which while dangerous no doubt toward the unknown wizard, a bit sexy to Harry.

The wizard looked stricken and bowed thrice rapidly. "I apologise, my Lord!" he almost cried. "It's just that you are meant to be giving a speech at present and Lady Lestrange is threatening to curse people if they do not start doing what she wants."

Sometimes Bellatrix had patience, and other times, she seemed to be lacking any kind of self-control. Harry mentally cursed her and the wizard.

Voldemort sighed and stepped away from Harry completely, hands dropping to his sides. §I suppose that I must speak with you later on, Harry. And I would not mind another dance any time you wish for it. Also, when you return home, there should be a gift on your bed awaiting you. Have a pleasant Yule.§

He would not admit to pouting when Voldemort had to leave him, though he did end up holding the hand Voldemort had kissed, to his chest for several moments, almost too stunned to function properly. That had been done many a time in his life and never once did he feel like there were a multitude of Flutterminz inside his stomach!

§Hi, Harry!§ a jubilant voice called out.

That was Nagini's voice. Harry looked around, trying to spot the serpent and wondering how she had managed to get into the ball. He found her on the floor, staring up at him expectantly.

§How?§ he asked simply.

She gave a snakey shrug. §Master's white follower had stopped by the manor this afternoon in search of my master and could not find him. I sneaked into his robes once again and decided to come and find entertainment. So far, I have seen three two-leggers who would make good meals, but I knew master would be disappointed if I dared to eat them, so they have managed to stay living.§

§Because he doesn't want you eating his subjects?§ Merlin knows that Harry wouldn't.

He would swear that she snorted at him. §No. He fed me yesterday.§

What a gluttonous serpent Harry had managed to befriend. He bent down and allowed her to slither up his arm, before lifting the rest of her body with ease and looping her around his neck so she had a good vantage point of the entire ball. Yes, she had definitely eaten recently. She was heavier than usual.

§Ah! My master is speaking with the two-legger who smells like blood!§

When he glanced on over, he could see Bellatrix standing at Voldemort's side. Her mouth was moving a mile a minute. She smelled like blood? Creepy.

§So, Harry, what do you plan to do to celebrate my master's hatch day?§ the serpent asked a moment later, eerily fixing him with her attention.

Blinking, he shook his head. §I don't even know when his birthday is, Nagini. I've also gotten the heads up from him that he doesn't actually like his day of birth.§

Nagini scoffed. §Master simply says that because he never had a good hatch day. While others seem to get whatever they want, he never had anyone to get him anything simply because they wanted to get him something. Not in the horrid orphanage, not at Hogwarts, and not even now. And whatever his followers give him, isn't really liked because they don't understand him well enough to gift him with proper gifts.§

Voldemort had never really celebrated his birthday. It was kind of sad once he thought about it and the fact that the man had no family and had grown up during World War II while living in an orphanage. Of course he wouldn't like his birthday after his childhood.

But what could Harry do?

§Nagini, what would Voldemort like to get on his hatch day?§

§I am glad that you asked! I can think of many things!§


When Lily Potter gave birth to her son, she had envisioned many things in her future. After watching Molly Weasley rear her growing brood of sons, Lily had thought that she had seen all manner of children and temperaments, so she assumed she would get a son who was probably going to be like one of Molly's boys.

Her son was in fact, nothing like any of them.

Bill was blessed with a level head and a sort of 'cool' air about him that others envied. Charlie was full of passion, with a dangerous attitude toward informality. Percy was strict and a very by-the-book individual, having a no-nonsense type of behavior. George and Fred were playful and devious, with sharp minds capable of more than even they thought possible. Ronald was lazy and ignored whatever talents he could have developed because he felt like he stood in the shadows of his brothers, so he saw no point in doing anything. Sometimes she wondered how the boy made it to Gryffindor.

The point was, Lily had six examples of boys. She remembered very clearly, the boys she had gone to school with and the attitudes they had had once upon a time. As a new mother of only twenty years of age, it hadn't been so shocking that she would make assumptions about her first child. How wrong she had been though.

Harry was quiet, but not with the internal superiority that Percy possessed, or the haughty attitude Severus once had. He didn't think he was better than everyone else and didn't spend his time thinking about it.

There was a calm air about him that had come along some time during his early years. He used to be very energetic and loud, but Lily remembered that changing drastically after the death of their first Kneazle. Harry hadn't been the same after her 'murder' and he'd become more pensive and less likely to act out. Harry's patience could put Bill to shame.

Intuition was something Harry had in abundance, more so that the twins could ever hope to have. Add on his creativity and he had outshone both boys easily by the time he had reached his early teens.

Charlie was known for having no sense of self-preservation, having nearly lost his arm once to a dragon he'd tried to calm down. Harry had more passion for his line of work than Charlie, and his inherent faith in creatures and animals put him at risk half of the time. After all, her son was currently sharing space with the Runespoor that used to belong to Hogwarts. In her opinion, he'd taken Charlie's most prominent traits and then enhanced them to the maximum, putting himself in perpetual danger all the time.

There was not an ounce of laziness in Harry's character. He was nothing like Ronald Weasley and Lily was secretly glad for such.

Harry was his own person and it had taken a lot of time for her to realise that. She knew it well enough now, but sometimes he would just up and doing something that she wasn't ready for. Like walking into the kitchen of his childhood home, wearing the Dark Lord's familiar like she was a scarf, and asking his mother about how he was going to surprise his intended for his birthday.

Sometimes it was hard to remember that Voldemort was human. That he was a part of a culture and race that celebrated their day of birth each and every year. So she had never given much consideration to the man's birthday nor had she ever thought she would have to. But her son looked slightly panicked and she couldn't just leave him to figure it all out on his own. What sort of mother would she be if she did that?

So Lily did what she thought was best. She put the kettle on, summoned some biscuits that had been picked up from her favourite London bakery, and sat him down at the kitchen table. It was time for a chat.

"How has he done so far with your… 'wooing'?" she asked after a moment of silence. Harry had been insistent on Voldemort earning the right to his hand as payment for the tournament. Her son hadn't tossed the plan aside simply because he was now Consort Slytherin. If there was one thing that was constant about Harry, it was his stubborn attitude.

"He's trying, which I appreciate a lot more than I thought I would. We've had lunch at my place, although Nagini had sort of crashed our 'date'. It was still fun, and we ended up talking about some interesting topics. Also, he likes to tease a lot more than I thought he would, and he's very receptive to teasing in return."

The thought of Harry literally teasing the Dark Lord in any manner almost made her ill. And she knew very well that both were highly receptive to each other at least on a basic level, if she remembered that morning in the hospital wing correctly. The two were at least on a friendly level and with the stress and drama out of the way, their relationship had lightened considerably. So she knew that to an extent that they got on, but it was hard to ignore the fact that it was Voldemort her son was flirting with!

"Anyway, Voldemort is actually trying in this, and I think it's only fair that I do something too. I mean, I've never been adverse to the thought of marrying him, and now that I know him even better than before, I really wouldn't mind, it's just that I need to know that this isn't a passing fancy and that he is actually interested."

She could understand that desire. Lily had once done so with James, to make sure that she wouldn't just be another one of his many conquests. Or that he didn't simply view her as a prize to be won simply because for a time, her friendship with Severus had been on the rocks. It had taken almost two years for James to prove himself fully and Lily had finally relented because she'd truly fallen for him. James had actually changed for the better, which was how she knew that he was genuine. So Harry going through the same sort of testing period with his own… possible-future-husband, was a bit of an eye opener. Human nature never really changed, did it?

Harry took a sip of his tea and sighed. "I have made it more than abundantly clear that I find him attractive."

Lily was certain that everyone had made such clear to the man.

"Not the way you are thinking, mum," Harry clarified. "His glamour is good looking I suppose, but I'm talking about his real form. While I won't tell you much, just know that it is humanoid at the very least and that I find it infinitely more appealing than the glamour."

'Humanoid' meant human shaped at least, but not human-like in appearance. What the bloody hell did Voldemort truly look like? She could recall Harry telling her about Magical Transmutation and snake-like features back when he was under the assumption that Voldemort was playing with his feelings over the whole Seventh Task situation. Voldemort had probably done something for his body to have mutated until it didn't look exactly human anymore.

Add in the 'snake-like creature' description, and she had an idea of a sort. The Dark Lord was more animalistic in appearance and Harry liked that more than his glamour of an attractive, young man. An off sort of fetish, but not one she would say anything about. She would prefer not to think of her son's sexual activity at all if Hecate be merciful.

"I know him pretty well now," Harry went on to say, "but I'm still so unsure of what would be a good gift. He insists that he hates his birthday and Nagini insists that it's because he never had anyone who wanted to celebrate his birth. Between the orphanage, the second World War, and Hogwarts, he's had no one during his entire life to be there for him, so he doesn't really see it as something amazing to be celebrated."

Lily was feeling some form of pity for Voldemort, the greatest Dark Lord in history. Despite some of the things he'd done and the attitude he carried around in general, not even she would want a child growing up in such a place during such a time. It probably affected him on a deeper level than even he assumed. She never thought the words 'pity' and Voldemort could be in the same sentence. However, his stances on Muggles made more sense now that she considered his upbringing and the influence it probably had on his psyche.

This was not her day.

"Voldemort cares about his heritage," said Lily. "From what I've gathered from everything Albus has ever told me, is that Voldemort is very reliant upon image and reputation."

Her son nodded very insistently, eyes wide. "He is. He's pretty vain in his appearance and his mutation causes him severe dysphoria, which is why he hides beneath a glamour and can't seem to understand that I like his appearance. He's self-deprecating at the worst of times, and merely sarcastic at the best of times. It's frustrating and elicits strange emotional responses within me."

"And Voldemort cares a lot about the welfare of the magical world, the safety of magical children, and the connections Magical Britain has managed to establish ever since he took control. He has compassion in his own way and views the world from a specific lense that I will never understand," she concluded seriously.

Harry nodded solemnly. "I've been trying harder than anyone but he keeps shocking me with revelation after revelation. I don't know how much more I can take."

Harry wasn't the only one.

"You probably know him better than anyone does."

Nagini's head lifted and a long stream of hisses erupted from her mouth. Harry had to place a hand over her open mouth to halt the explosion.

"Nagini insists that she knows him better than anyone because he was 'still a hatchling' when he found her in Albania. Nagini is like the only mother-like figure he's ever had."

That would explain the man's behaviour very well in fact. How odd. Also, the serpent was incredibly intelligent and Lily had to be wary of what she said in front of it if it understood English so very well.

"Nagini thinks he would enjoy anything that came from me, because it's me. I would still prefer to give it some thought instead of just buying him some casual gift. I mean, he'd given me a birthday gift and two Yule gifts in the past year, and all were ancient tomes that once belonged to Salazar Slytherin, and all were very well thought out gifts about creatures and such. So it's sort of a personal thing now. Once Nagini told me, I was just filled with a need to give him something. I can't decide what it should be though, because what can you possibly give the greatest Dark Lord in history?

"It's not like I can give him a chance at a real childhood or anything, so what could have meaning for one such as he?"

How indeed?

"Perhaps it would be best if you gave him something personal but don't tell him it's for his birthday until the end of the day or your time together. If he truly doesn't like his birthday, then bringing it up early on in the day would probably ruin the mood. Tell him in the evening after whatever you do, whether it be dinner, an outing, or something else you can think of, but make sure you are honest and sincere with your desire to make it a good day.

"You don't feel like you are being cornered, do you? Like you have to please him?"

"No!" Harry said quickly. "Last year my answer would have been different, but this year I find myself wanting to make him genuinely smile. Not one of those annoying fakes one that he used at the Yule Ball. Rarely does he have reason to just smile and I kind of like being the only person he smiles at."

There was a blush spreading across his cheeks and a wiggle of his shoulders that Lily could understand somewhat. There was a sort of possessiveness there. Harry liked Voldemort to an extent and after a year and a half of having the Dark Lord's continued attention, he'd grown used to being wanted. As Voldemort was different when not in the public eye, Harry had probably seen more sides of the man than anyone else save for his snake.

Being liked by someone who seemed to detest everyone around him, had to give one a sort of high. So Harry's minor obsession with collecting the Dark Lord's true smiles and being the focus of his happiness, while a little odd, wasn't anything she hadn't heard of before. After all, James insisted that he was the only person to get Lily to Ugly Laugh and he took great pride in that fact. And Lily took pride in knowing James' sensitive areas better than even Sirius did.

It was a relationship thing and Harry had fallen into it without noticing.

She felt so old, sitting there and discussing her son's burgeoning addiction to garnering Voldemort's positive attention.

Some things people were ready for when they became parents, others simply came at them without warning. It was by grace and patience, than Lily could be the solid rock her son needed, even if it wasn't doing much for the situation at hand.


"I was not ready for this when I decided to become a parent!"

Rigel sighed and rolled his eyes. Of course his brothers just had to come and ruin what could have been a calm afternoon, by telling his mother that he had gone to visit his twins. And now he was sitting at their kitchen table, his mother on his right while George and Fred were sat on the opposite side of the table.

His mother was overreacting. So what if the twins were genuinely interested in him and hadn't been playing with his feelings? They had been kissing her arse for the past few months in order to stay on her good side! For almost five months! How could she have thought that they were being dishonest when they had basically given her an extra ten percent of their shares from their business, all to prove themselves?

"I never once thought that the Weasley family would be connected to my name!" the woman blustered, looking more shocked by the minute.

George tsked and shook his head. "One of our great-grandfathers and some of our distant aunts are Blacks. We're like second cousins or something. We'll make a good mix, don't worry. The Weasley ethic is pretty strong in us and out family is known for intense fertility."

Rigel buried his head in his arms, deciding that he wanted to go up in flames right there and then. His mother had decided to take advantage of the twins' interest before it died out. She didn't count it actually remaining strong and thriving. She didn't even consider the fact that it would be a Weasley/Lestrange/Black mix should the relationship progress any further in the next few years. And the casual talk of such private matters at the breakfast table was so scandalous! Especially to the Lady of a Most Ancient and Noble House!

And now his mum had realised how serious this was.

Fred grinned, foolishly not sensing any sort of ill will in the air. He was too optimistic in Rigel's humble opinion. It was adorable at times, but right now, not so much.

"You can come over for Christmas dinner and meet our parents!"

That day ended up being the first time he'd heard his mother swear. He'd also been bribed into not telling his father by getting permission to go to the Weasley Christmas Dinner, plus a chaperon-less trip to Diagon Alley any time he so chose.

He would gladly take it. After all, it worked in his favour more than hers.


Sev,

I am going to need all the alcohol in the world in order to do this. Harry came to me
for romantic advice about the Dark Lord. You will never understand how awkward that
was to sit in the kitchen and discuss the man's sexual attractiveness with my own
offspring! But sit I did, and Harry basically unloaded months and months of pent up
feelings on me all at once.

I was not prepared and there was no way I could have predicated the discussion. In fact,
I didn't think that Harry would really go along with the whole engagement to begin with,
since he seemed so fixated on making Voldemort work for the right to his hand. I was
thoroughly proven wrong, because Harry does in fact pay a lot of attention and has
given this much thought.

I also feel like we should have attempted to reach him a little more. Harry has always
preferred solitude to everyone else and we learned very quickly that forcing him to interact
with others that he didn't willingly go to, wouldn't benefit anyone. So we left him to
his own devices, which ended up with him being secluded for a good part of his childhood.
If we had tried to expand his world a little more, maybe he would have been better
equipped to handle someone's romantic/sexual interests.

I just hope we didn't fail him, because in the end, I couldn't help all that much and I
feel horrible.

Lils.


Lily,

You are in fact, a wonderful mother. Mr. Potter is one of the few students I've ever taught,
that did not annoy me or curry my displeasure. One does not raise a child like him and be a
terrible parent. It is simply not possible for him to have grown up so modestly without your
positive influence in his life. I shudder to think of how he would be if you hadn't been there
for him.

Mr. Potter is a growing, young man who is experiencing things a little later than his peers.
This is for many reasons that are beyond anyone's control and you cannot place blame on
yourself.

1.) He has anxiety and does not like to be around people. He physically seems incapable of
socialising with others he is not familiar with for an extended period of time. His patience
runs thin and then he becomes frustrated and feels unwell. And if exposed to the situation
for any large amount of time, he will start to feel mentally drained. His First year at Hogwarts
demonstrated that perfectly if you recall.

He had to be administered to the Hospital Wing multiple times for calming and invigoration
draughts because he refused specific potions meant to aid him. Magus was nothing like
Hogwarts because it wasn't a boarding school. Children went in at eight and came
home at four via Floo Network. After years of acclimating himself to such an environment,
the sudden shift of not having privacy once classes were finished for the day, and being
exposed to his peers on a constant basis without a moment to breathe, had left him unwell.

Mr. Potter was simply never going to be one of those people who like social interactions. And
there is nothing wrong with that.

2.) Your son is an Orator and can speak to animals and creatures any time he so chooses.
It is a common fact that magical children who are born with the skill of understanding and
speaking an animal tongue, tend to pay attention to that animal more than others. The Dark
Lord has always been fascinated with serpents for example. Because his attention was
always spread in various directions from being surrounded by animals and creatures, Mr.
Potter had to learn how to split his attention properly.

In his mind, 'properly' leans more toward animals and creatures and less toward an even
divide of his attention. Once again, not a problem.

3.) The tragedy in his early years influenced him heavily, where he determined that people
in general were not worth his time. He suffered a traumatic event at the hands of other
children and never truly got through it. Add in his anxiety and his adoration of animals and
creatures, and the choice to avoid people seems obvious if one looks at it from his perspective.

There is nothing wrong with being a late bloomer. In his mind, he had more important
things to consider. His future being the most prominent concern. Also, he is rather dense
at times, having not understood when he was being propositioned on countless occasions.

Sometimes it is best for young people to figure things out on their own, and the fact that
he came to you for assistance shows how high he holds your opinion and knowledge. Even
if you could not help like you wished, he knows that you support him, and that is just fine.
You tried your best and sometimes that knowledge is good enough. You raised a fine child,
so do not ever think you failed him.

He is fortunate to have you.

Now let us do away with these intrusive thoughts and focus on matters of a more grave
nature. What are we going to do once Mr. Potter and the Dark Lord have children? I do
not fancy the idea of being a nanny, and you know that I will be the first person either will
think about. It's not as if Bellatrix gives off pleasant vibes that tell people to trust her with
their children. And Lucius and Narcissa have other things to be doing.

Basically, I am doomed to nappies and dummies. I had thought that after Draco, this would
never have to happen again.

Severus.


Sev,

Thank you.

On another note, I happen to think that you would make quite a fetching nanny. You seem
to understand children very well, have an abundance of patience that I can't hope to emulate,
and you know all manner of protective enchantments! Between the both of us, you would be
the best nanny!

On a more serious note, if I actually get a grandchild, I will be endlessly excited, no matter who
the sire is! As you know, James and I cannot have any more children because we are both
incapable. I had always hoped to give Harry a sibling. Magical Britain does not have an orphanage
though, and we could not adopt a muggle child, so he could only busy himself with animals.
Sometimes that was a good thing. Imagine the terror a sibling would have felt when their big
brother walks into the kitchen wearing a deadly snake like a scarf!

I never thought Harry would have children. Sometimes I used to wonder if he would ever get
married. It seemed implausible because of how distant he is with other people. And any time I
did consider his future, children never fit into the vision. I suppose with him preferring to be
solitary, I was easily convinced that he would not want children. And it isn't as if James or I
would force him into 'furthering the line'. While there may be no other Potters left, we both
don't like the idea of making it so that he has to have a child.

But if my Harry gives me another baby to dote upon, I will be happier than ever!

Lils.


Voldemort blinked when he felt the wards of his property, shake. Someone had just entered the grounds. Someone with permission had just entered the grounds. Someone he had to be close to had entered the grounds, though he couldn't feel them out exactly. Still, if it was one of his Knights, he would tell Vashti to tell them he wasn't home.

After calling the Elf and informing her of his wishes, he went back to writing out the long and tiring list of names that he'd gathered from St. Mungo's of the beings that suffered because of the pandemic. As the community had managed to escape the situation as a whole, it was to be considered a victory, and what did people want when there were victories? Trophies, plaques, awards, medals, or even monuments.

And so a monument was to be erected and the names of those unfortunate enough to have been caught by the pandemic, would be listed thereon. In remembrance as well as a reminder of the event that forever changed dozens of families across the nations. Still, it didn't feel like it was enough.

There was a knock at the door and he blinked. So it was in fact, not a Knight.

"Enter."

When Harry Potter stepped into the room, Nagini wrapped around his shoulders, Voldemort's jaw almost dropped. Harry had willingly come to Voldemort's home all to see him? Something inside of him was pleased at that. Not often did he get visitors who simply desired to visit him.

Nagini waved her tail in greeting, and he sent her a displeased look. She had been missing for days and he had assumed that she had either gone hunting in the forest around the manor, sneaked off with Lucius to terrorise the man's House Elves, or somehow found her way into Harry's home once again. He'd been correct to assume that she had left of her own volition.

Voldemort shifted a sheet of parchment to the side, having finished filling it out. "I do hope Nagini behaved herself."

Harry shrugged. "As much as Nagini is known to behave." He then snorted when Nagini's tail lifted in order to smack him across the head.

They shared a look of amusement, both extremely aware of the serpent's manner and temperament. Nagini reprimanded them for not appreciating her humour enough.

§I will have you both know that I am wonderful and you both would have dreadfully dull lives if it wasn't for me. I am the light of your lives and don't you ever forget such.§

With a roll of the eyes, Voldemort fixed Harry with his attention. "How many I help you, Harry?"

A small grin spread across the young wizard's face. "I need you to come with me for a bit."

"Why?"

A roll of the eyes. "Do I question you when you come to call?"

"Yes," Voldemort stated bluntly, remembering quite well how he was greeted by his soon-to-be husband over the past year and a half. Harry still remained the only person to insult him and live, as well as the only person to tell him he wasn't as special as he thought he was, and that he was a 'twat'. Often, the younger wizard whinged whenever Voldemort had gotten too near and would pout something fierce. It took on a more teasing tone as of late, but he still did it now and then.

Harry blushed, fidgeted, and then scoffed. "I still humoured you, so do me a favour and do the same, Voldy."

Sighing, the Dark Lord stood. No matter what, he was actually glad to have a distraction from all the work. He hated paperwork. "I think I'm beginning to miss Twat Waffle and Cockwomble."

Harry's mischievous laugh made him wary instantly. "Good to know that the Dark Twat appreciate my efforts."

He took it back. He took it all back.

Though Harry dragging him from the manor, by his hand, certainly made everything so much better, even if he didn't understand what was going on. And suspiciously, Nagini remained at the manor, giving no reason as to why she was not joining them. No insistence to come along.


"So why the sudden need to have dinner?" Voldemort asked as he placed a Royal Flush down. Yes, the Dark Lord was aware of Poker and had agreed to play. And he was also very good at it. Though since Harry had learned from Sirius, who was in fact, not good at card games, he probably shouldn't give the man too much credit.

Still, it was pretty fun the just sit there and enjoy each other's company.

"Because you can't be the only person reaching out in this- whatever it is that we have going on. And perhaps I just wanted to eat something other than a quick lunch with you."

Harry stuffed the cards back into one pile and proceeded to shuffle them. "It's touching that you've taken this seriously even if you don't understand everything. And the thing is, I don't really get all of it either, so we're both lost on proper manner and requirements and we have to build this relationship from the ground up since no prior experience has been had."

Voldemort nodded and accepted his cards. "I suppose that makes sense. The food was delicious and it was nice to know that you actually slaved over the food yourself."

"Remus taught me how to make a proper roast. It's by the blessings of Circe herself that my father never managed to interrupt those few lessons I had on cooking. Who knows what would have happened then?"

He would forever swear that Voldemort shivered at the prospect of Harry learning how to cook from his father. James wasn't really good in the kitchen, nor was Sirius. Both would have made an utter mess if they decided they were interested enough to look into it. It was a good thing that his mum decided to keep them away back then. She could understand their temperaments and knew what to do to keep them occupied.

"How is your family been doing after the recent scare?"

Astonishment made Harry gape, because he hadn't expected Voldemort to really care too much about people he didn't seem to have an opinion over. However, perhaps he didn't give the man enough credit after all. Harry had to stop making assumptions lest he make an arse of himself.

"They're fine now. Sirius finally proposed to Remus. The life and death part of the situation finally scared him into realising how much he really cared. I had literally been waiting for that moment since I was seven. Mum and dad seem to have been even closer having worked really hard to help out in any way they could. And while I miss Shelob, she was an old feline and wouldn't have lived for much longer anyway. I am simply grateful that the whole process didn't bring about pain, and that she was small enough for it to happen quickly and painlessly."

He missed her very much, like he did Ungoliant, but she had moved on to the Rainbow Bridge and eventually he'd see her once again, so it was fine. At least her joints didn't hurt anymore. And he had Nagini and the Runespoor, plus all the Hogwarts animals and creatures, and his clients to care for. So he wasn't without animal or creature companionship.

He arranged his cards in the proper order, hissing in annoyance when it became obvious that he would not be getting anything better and that Voldemort was probably going to keep his winning streak well into the evening.

"I apologise for being unable to truly assist you," Voldemort said, crimson eyes almost downcast. "It was by my own foolishness that I could not do right by Magical Britain, and I feel a strange sense of guilt from it." He looked physically pained to have to admit such a thing.

Voldemort felt guilt. Something Harry never thought he would hear in his life. But then again, his life had taken an interesting turn as of late.

"Guilt is not something common in my life and I do not like it." The admittance seemed to take every bit of Voldemort's strength to get out.

Voldemort set his cards down, once again beating Harry, who groaned. At the same time, he was endlessly amazed at the man's good fortune. "Voldy, guilt is not meant to be pleasant. It shows that you have feelings and are conscious of your actions. You aren't here to murder and torture people and when you learned of the threat to your home and the people residing within it, you were quick to get to work because while you like to act as if you are cold and heartless, you are anything but."

The Dark Lord shifted uncomfortably, his crimson gaze refusing to meet Harry's. And that was fine. Voldemort struggled to acknowledge his humanity and Harry would make sure that the man would eventually understand himself and not be embarrassed by his completely natural reactions to life in general.

"I don't blame you or anything. And if anyone blames you for what happened, then they're idiots."

That managed to crack a smile, Voldemort's thin lips pulling rather wide across his pale face. He had fangs and they weren't very long, but still visible. A fluttering in Harry's insides made him feel strangely warm and comforted. Because Harry had been the one to get Voldemort to smile like that. Not some pompous smirk, it was an actual smile. And it was a sign of victory.

"Now can we please get back to the part where you own my arse in this game?"

He dealt the cards once more and nodded to himself. He would win this one.

He did in fact, not win that one. Or any of the other games afterward. And yet he still enjoyed himself immensely. Also, the memory of Voldemort, garbed in his dark robes, drinking vodka and playing Poker, would forever be ingrained in Harry's memory and he wouldn't trade the evening for the world.


"Goodnight, Voldemort."

Harry was staring up at him as he stood in the foyer of the shop. The peculiar look on his face was one that Voldemort hadn't seen before. Confusion, but also slight apprehension. He didn't like it.

"Something the matter?"

"Not really. I'm just wondering how to do this right."

Before he could ask what 'this' was supposed to mean, Harry reached up, hooked a hand around Voldemort's shiny, bald head, and tugged the man down into what he realised was a kiss. A kiss from Harry. While Voldemort was in his true form.

There was no revulsion from Voldemort's forked tongue. Harry didn't shy away from his chilled flesh or absurdly thinned lips. His hand was gentle and his body was warm, a perfect juxtaposition compared to Voldemort who was all cold and sharp edges.

He felt light-headed and pleased, and strangely timid all of a sudden. The feelings mixing around inside of him allowed Harry to take the control, coaxing Voldemort into responding. And he was so unprepared for Harry to be the one to take this step!

When they pulled apart, Harry smiled softly at him, aiming those lovely eyes that narrowed far too dangerously for Voldemort's sanity.

"Happy birthday, Voldemort," said Harry quietly. "And if the future permits it, I will hopefully be here to make all the others just as happy."


A/N: The first is done!

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CHECK ME OUT ON TUMBLR. HELLY-WATERMELONSMELLINFELLON. I FOLLOW BACK.

Chapter Text

A/N: Hello, people!

I don't own Harry Potter.

I have no beta.

ENJOY!

CHECK ME OUT ON TUMBLR. HELLY-WATERMELONSMELLINFELLON. I FOLLOW BACK.


Severus Snape stared down at the box on the table in front of him. It was not the first box and it would not be the last, he was certain. When word got out that his birthday was coming up, many people, in an effort to thank him possibly, for his work in making a cure for the pandemic, had decided to send him gifts.

This one was from Harry Potter. Severus had already received a gift from Lily and had enjoyed adding 'West Side Story' to his collection of records. He hadn't expected to get a gift form any other Potters though.

He did not know what the youngest Potter would be sending him, but he braced himself. He at least knew that the teen wasn't overly fond of pranks and that it wouldn't be something horrible at least.

No, it was not horrible at all.

It was just a large stack of objects that the note inside called 'cassette tapes', and a black 'Walkman' that he was to put them in. And there were several packages of 'batteries' that would be used to 'power' the Walkman and had to be changed regularly. Then there was the address of a place in London, near The Leaky Cauldron, where he could acquire more batteries when he used them all. Finally, a pair of black 'headphones' for him to listen to the music privately.

Electronics were said not to work at Hogwarts. That was a misconception. One could not watch an airing television programme for example, because the signals involved would not reach through the wards around Hogwarts. One could watch a videotape however because the tape already existed and had been pre-recorded. Most magicals didn't care enough about not being able to use Muggle items though, so rarely did anyone experiment with electronics.

The 'tapes' were all large collections of famous musicals from over the years, and he easily spotted some of his favourites. How Harry Potter even knew Severus liked musicals, he would never know.

He was secretly grateful however, and would send him a stiff thank you note in response once he learned how to work the 'Walkman'.


Albus Dumbledore stared out at the Black Lake, contemplating the movements of the universe and how short life really was. Because recently he'd been made very aware of how little time had actually passed, despite how many years he'd managed to accumulate himself. How small his place in the grand scheme things actually was.

Compared to Nicolas and Perenelle, Albus was naught but a child. He'd done much and nothing in equal measure for years. Sometimes it seemed as if his presence did in no way affect anything.

"Why are you moping, old man?"

Albus sighed, though not in frustration or sadness. Simply in resignation. "My boy, when you reach my age, and you look back on your life, I hope you can honestly say that you have few regrets and that you've enjoyed your life thus far."

Tom stopped at his side, not looking at him, but also staring out at the lake. "Why is a nostalgia-filled, speech of doom necessary for you to impart this advice onto my poor shoulders?"

"Everything ends eventually, Tom. I don't want you looking back and being unhappy with your memories. Not much is worse than being over a century old and knowing how futile your actions have been in the end."

Finally, Albus' former student turned to look at him. "If I cared, I would say that you are making me concerned. I am however, of sound mind and body, so I can confidently say that I don't care. But why are you being so morose? It's worrying Minerva something dreadful."

On matters of the heart, Tom was a poor liar. Albus hid a smile and removed a small letter from the right pocket of his robes. It was black, as was customary when receiving the invitation to a dead person's Will Reading.

Tom said nothing in response, but he did hum for a few seconds.

"Tom, don't let life pass you by. You have an opportunity here, and I don't want you to waste it. Whether you plan to remain on this Earth forever or not doesn't matter. It's how you live those years that you linger, that matter the most. Make them count."

"Stop it with the dramatic doom and gloom," the younger wizard groused, surely more moody than he was in his teen years. "It's far below your usual attitude." He then turned to leave, casting one glance over his left shoulder to add, "I should think it was obvious that we've left our own mark on the world in our own ways. Some not as grandiose as others, but still important all the same. Not everything needs to be attention-getting to be of import."

And then he was gone, striding across the snow-covered grounds without stopping once to look back.

Tom had changed quite a lot from when he was younger. It just showed that time affected everyone in some way or another. And that experience was either an excellent or unforgiving tutor. And sometimes it was both at once.

A low cry from above caught his attention, and he welcomed Fawkes with a smile. "Old friend, it seems as if the circle might break sometime soon."

Fawkes' beady black eyes teared up slightly, and Albus tutted. "No need to be so bleak. Your circle will remain strong and thriving, but mine is not meant for much more. Even when a chance at more presents itself soon. It is nearly finished."

The low crooning of the Phoenix filled the space between them long into the evening. The darkness settling in quickly and the chill following immediately. And still, both remained, just watched the lake in companionable silence.

In time, all things would end.


Wizarding Legend Dies Shy of 700!

The famous Alchemist, Nicolas Flamel, and his wife Perenelle, have finally passed on.
Their last press statement concluded that both were making arrangements for their
final days. The couple decided that they wished to part this life together, and ceased
the continual use of the legendary Philosopher's Stone. The only one to have ever
been created, and the secrets of its make will remain obscure upon Flamel's request.

The Flamel joint Will was activated on 24 November, and the news of their deaths was
withheld by their account manager - upon their request - until a Will Reading could
be scheduled. The Will Reading is set for 19 January upon the new year, and will take
place in Gringotts' France Branch.

Nicolas Flamel's final statement to us, passed on to our knowledge through his account
manager, Ragnarok, are, 'Le temps est un grand maître, dit-on; le malheur est
qu'il 
soit un maître inhumain qui tue ses élèves.' -Louis Hector Berlioz[notable
squib composer].(Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately, it kills all of its pupils.)

Perhaps we should take this as a warning? Maybe it is a bit of advice? Whatever Mr.
Flamel was saying, we should take it to heart and understand that from a man as
wizened as he, all words bear signifigance.

Lord Flamel's dear friend Albus Dumbledore, is expected to attend the Will Reading in
the upcoming week. Mr. Dumbledore was not available for comment, but we know his
integrity would never allow him to dishonour his friend's memory by not appearing at
his Will Reading.

More will be revealed in the coming days. Please stay subscribed to learn more about
our most influential magicals and their actions!

Garrison Bespoke,
Special Correspondent to the Daily Prophet.

"I know I said something about them wanting to stop the whole, 'living forever' thing, but I honestly didn't think it would happen this soon," said Harry as he placed the paper down. Voldemort, who had been listening to him read the article aloud, looked contemplative. They were in the man's office. Harry had stopped by for lunch because life was boring and he wanted to see Voldemort. The Dark Lord had gladly welcomed his company and handed him that morning's issue of the Daily Prophet where Flamel's face resided, eyes blinking slowly with disinterest.

Voldemort had obviously taken the news differently compared to the rest of the magical world. Sure, it had been revealed that they planned to go to rest, but it was still a shock to hear that they actually did it."I must confess that I do not understand their decision. Why would they want to die? We know nothing of death and what lies beyond that point, so why would anyone want to die?"

Oh, yeah, Voldemort was known to be immortal. He was all-powerful and had made a couple Horcruxes to keep himself around if anything unfortunate should happen. He wasn't all too fond of dying, and had literally searched high and low for years to find a way to avoid death if at all possible. WWI helped foster that fear. So of course someone who was terrified of dying, especially with how he grew up, would not get why someone would want to stop living. And maybe many other people shared equal confusion but for different reasons.

He took a deep breath, considering his words carefully since it was a pretty controversial subject. "Many times, the people who are suicidal, don't want to actually die. Usually, these people are experiencing either intense suffering or banality. And sometimes it seems as if there is no real reason to stay around. Often will a suicidal person just want whatever is going wrong, to stop. If they are in pain, they won't be if they are dead. If life is boring, life after death won't be. If they're lonely, dying would reunite them with their loved ones or end the loneliness supposedly. So many reasons that we can't really understand unless we are at that point ourselves or have been in their shoes personally. Heaven is supposed to be better than here after all, and perhaps some people think that all problems cease once they reach the pearly gates of what lies beyond our world?"

Unfortunately, Voldemort didn't seem in any way appeased. He just looked all the more confused. Harry couldn't blame him. He spent years avoiding the topic and probably didn't think on it often.

Harry shoved the paper aside so he could lean on the desk between them. Voldemort met his gaze head on. "Think of it. A starving child living on the streets is always turned away from homes and help. They have nowhere to go, and nothing to live on, and they are suffering every day in just barely getting by. I'm pretty sure some would consider dying immediately much easier than surviving just to starve to death. Starving doesn't seem fun."

"It isn't," was Voldemort's quiet but firm reply. And Harry could feel a small pang in his chest at the far away look on the man's serpentine face. Of course Voldemort would have known to some extent what starvation felt like. It made Harry feel horrible and once again, he wished he could fix that. But he wasn't a god, and he wasn't as powerful as his fiance, so what could he do? There was no way to make that any better. He could only hope to redirect the man's thoughts and maybe one day Voldemort wouldn't remember the traumas of his early childhood.

"I suppose to an extent it makes sense. When there is no chance for self-preservation to actually benefit you. When there is nothing left. I have never felt so helpless that I wished to die though. I wanted to live even more. I wanted to survive whatever it was that was trying to kill me. Be they bombs, vampires, or even Dementors. I have always been stubborn and death has always seemed like a weakness. I could never wish to die." He didn't say anything about fearing death, not that he had to because Harry understood even if Voldemort didn't know he did.

Big words and full of minute arrogance. Usually, Harry would believe the man because he sounded so confident in himself, but then again, never say never and all that rot. Something could very well happen that would make Voldemort want to die. Harry didn't know what, but it could happen at any time. He just hoped that it actually didn't.

The Potter Heir said nothing though. He wasn't there to pick a fight or start an argument over difference in opinion. It was just supposed to be a day to spend together. The news of the Flamel deaths had been unexpected, but they couldn't let their peaceful day to turn sour just because they had opposing views on death. And he didn't want to force his thoughts and opinions down Voldemort's throat. That wasn't his aim and Voldemort wasn't doing it to him so it was only right to keep things cool between them.

Instead of keeping that line of conversation going, Harry shifted it to another subject. "I wonder how Dumbledore is handling the news of his friend's passing. They knew each other for a long time and didn't they write to one another while he was in Nurmengard?"

"Probably the same way he did Gellert's," said the Dark Lord, shifting his own attention to a different pile of papers that required immediately work. "Mourn and then spit annoying philosophical bits of wisdom to everyone he sees." He looked adorably disgruntled.

Harry grinned knowingly. "Did he do that to you?"

There was no reply, but Harry didn't need one to know that he'd been right. Voldemort was so easy to read sometimes. It was amusing. And it was kind of cute how easily frustrated the man got.


Draco Malfoy hadn't had much in his life for him to worry about. He was wealthy, he was of good social standing. He was attractive in the physical sense. Basically, everything for him was fine and couldn't get any better presently. Other than the recent pandemic they were still recovering from, he hadn't had any kind of scare personally. Until now.

The blond threw the Floo Powder into the fire and called out Potter's bloody business because he was having problems of the animal variety and didn't know what to do!

"Draco? Why are you calling me?" Harry Potter asked, looking tired and a bit bored.

"Potter! Something is wrong with one of my peafowl!" he blustered, feeling out of his depth and hating every moment of it. Asking for help was always an area of weakness for him. "She won't eat at feeding times and none of the House Elves know what to do. Dobby was the one to tell me and even brought her to the stables for a closer look away from her nosy broodmates, but I have no idea what could be wrong!"

The Potter Heir sighed. "Has she become violent or moody?"

"No. She's apparently being melancholy as of late, as Dobby stated. Not like her usual self. And since Shamiram is one of the more lively peahens, it's troublesome and could mean very bad things if it continues. Her attitude might affect the rest of the peafowl because they look up to her so much."

"Okay, give me a moment to get some things. Can you key me into the wards so I can come through?"

Draco did just that, quickly forcing his magic into the perimeter of the Malfoy Estate and forcing the wards to calm for a moment. It was good to be the Heir. "Come through when you're ready."

Seconds later, Harry Potter was stood in the middle of Malfoy Manor's third best drawing room. The one usually used to greet people upon entry, since they didn't want their best rooms to deal with all the soot and powder flying everywhere. It took too much time for the House Elves to clean and was simply easier on all of them. And normally seeing someone coming out of a fire wasn't a shocking thing in a wizarding household. Not since Floo Powder had been invented so very long ago.

This time however, it was not normal.

The Dark Lord's snake was wrapped very comfortably around Potter's shoulders. Like she belonged there. And she didn't even look at Draco when they entered, but he was still a little unnerved by her presence anyway. Because she was a deadly snake and would only listen to two people currently in existence! And she was known for going after House Elves and birds, and creatures that were unfortunately earthbound.

"Alraght, Malfoy. Lead us to your Shamiram. Nagini knows that she is not to eat anything living while here." As if agreeing, the serpent gave a low, and almost disinterested hiss.

That did not make him feel better at all! Still, for the sake of the peahen, Draco lead both toward the stables on the far side of the manor. Away from the direct view of any of the windows because it was 'unsightly' according to his father.

"Dobby was frantic with worry," he explained when they entered the wooden structure. "Came bumbling in and sputtering about it. It took three minutes before I could get a clear version of the story from him and by then I was already getting worked up as well. We've had Shamiram for almost two decades. She was hatched the same day I was born, and when I found out years later, I named her Shamiram after a history lesson on the well-known magicals in the Middle East."

Potter nodded slowly, showing that he was listening. "Magical fowl are said to last longer than normal fowl, which would explain why our delivery owls can be around so long. But for an albino peafowl, it's especially impressive that she's lasted so long considering the albinism the possessor has can cause them many health issues," said the Dark Lord's consort. "I hope I don't have to tell you to expect the very worst of this situation."

"I know. I don't like it though."

"Understandable, but if we expect the worst, than any news other than that will be infinitely better. At least in my personal opinion."

True. But Draco didn't like the thought of the peahen dying. She'd been one of the hens who had produced more than half of their current collection of peafowl! The oldest among the lot. She was the leader in a sense!

Shamiram was laid out on a wooden table. Her red eyes were closed and her body moved only slightly with her breathing. For a bird that usually was sprightly and loud, it was unnatural to see her so down.

"Can you call the House Elf in charge of tending to the peafowl?" asked Potter as he knelt down to be more at Shamiram's level.

Three Elves were summoned then, and Potter asked all matter of questions. Was the peahen walking strangely? Did she hit her head off of anything, or possibly fall? Has she been eating her normal meal choices or was there something new added to her diet? How was her relationship with the other peafowl?

It was revealed that one of the peacocks had disappeared many days back and that the body was found by one of the Elves. Said Elf burned the body as was custom in the Malfoy family, and informed Draco's father. The dead peacock also happened to be the father to Shamiram's last three clutches of eggs.

Potter and Shamiram exchanged slow and almost soothing sounds between each other. Draco frowned, wishing he could understand animals too, just so he didn't have to rely on a translator.

Potter sighed and nodded as he moved to stand. "She's depressed because her mate is gone."

"Animals get depressed?" was Draco's first question. He hadn't known that was a possibility, but if they could talk and even understand English like Nagini seemed to, then perhaps there was more to it than that. How peculiar. But also really unfortunate.

The Potter Heir nodded. "A lot of people tend to forget that humans are not the only beings with feelings. She's been crooning the word 'alone' over and over. Now we know why." He sighed though and shook his head as if clearing his thoughts. "We're very lucky it's just Depression over her lost mate. Some albino animals can become blind, Deaf, or experience neurological struggles because they were born without the ability to produce melanin. When dealing with an albino animal, this would be the first concern, so I'm glad we managed to suss the real issue."

"Potter, how do we get her feeling better now that we know why she's all... depressed?" Draco knew nothing of how to cure ailments of the mind or emotions. He'd never wanted for anything or really suffered. And Hermione's advice and information was still rather new to him, so how could he fully embrace her lessons when he had no personal experience?

The brunet pursed his lips. "There is no cure for Depression, Draco. It doesn't suddenly get better, but you can start by surrounding her with affection from her other broodmates. Give her her favourite food. Don't let her remain alone for too long, but also don't try to control her every move and forbid her from doing things. Eventually she will decide if she wants to move on or not. And if she doesn't, it wouldn't be right to take her decision from her. Should she disappear for a while, then you'll know that she made her choice. Pets often flee their homes to die in peace."

The blond sighed and turned to Dobby, who had been standing off for the past several minutes, wringing his ears and looking on with worry. "Dobby, could you please take Shamiram back to wherever it is you plucked her from? Watch her carefully and alert me if something goes wrong."

The Elf blinked in shock for a moment, before nodding. He hobbled on over to take the peahen into his arms. "Dobby is doing it now, Mater Draco." He and Shamiram were gone a second later. Draco had never said Draco's name before. It had always been 'young master'. He briefly wondered what had changed.

Potter grinned suddenly, once they were alone. "You know, I haven't seen you that panicked since you dropped a jar of spiders on yourself."

The Malfoy Heir gasped in outrage, hand flying over his heart in offense. "We swore that we would never speak of that horrible incident ever again, Potter! How dare you!" Sure, it was able to drive his attention off the worry for his darling peahen, but to use that as a distraction! The audacity!

"And don't forget that you can go to Hermione if you need someone to talk to, okay? I'm sure she'd love to make everything better."

The blond sniffed importantly. "That is none of your business and I will thank you to refrain from thinking about such things. Now how do you wish to be paid?"

Potter's grin got even wider if that was possible. "Tell Hermione about the spider incident and all will be considered paid in full."

Damn it!

Though... she did seem to like hearing about his childhood. So maybe it wouldn't be so terrible.


James shifted in his seat as his son sat down at the table where Lily proceeded to flit over to him, asking about his health and wanting to know if he needed anything specific. And Harry, as always, was gracious and told her that she didn't need to go to great lengths for him. He then proceeded to levitate the teapot over and poured himself some tea without even bothering to pretend to use his wand.

His boy was so strangely talented in an understated way. And it seemed like that because Harry didn't play up his skills. He was silent and passive, not caring what other people thought. In fact, James was certain that Harry didn't fully understand what it meant to be so strong. Then again, Harry didn't judge people based on their power or usefulness to him. At least it didn't appear that way, since he surrounded himself with animals and creatures and was in no way racist, classist, or fascist.

Sirius and Remus didn't linger on the usual display of magic, because both had news that they had been waiting to share with their godson for ages. Once everything had finally calmed down enough and Harry had free time, they had called everyone together for a family dinner because Harry was the last to know since he no longer lived at the cottage.

"Pup, we've got some news for you," Sirius began, though it was apparently unnecessary.

Harry glanced up from where he was stirring his tea, eyes sparkling as he asked point blank, "Are you both finally having a wedding?"

Everyone in the kitchen froze and James was hit with a sudden realisation. Harry had pretty much asked the very same question or at least a variation that was about Remus and Sirius getting hitched, ever since he was a little boy. How was it that Harry had seen it all before any of them did? And he'd literally been throwing the hints in their faces for a long time.

Moony got over his minute shock and laughed, appearing much younger once his face was full of joy. It made James realise just how old they all were. Not considerably old for a magical human, but still. All of them were just shy of their 40s already and unfortunately, Moony took to old age faster, but that had more to do with his monthly ailment than anything else. Remus severely needed to take advantage of what was left of his youth, so it was a good thing he and Sirius had finally decided to get married.

It meant possible children if either wanted any. And it meant that Remus would stop feeling guilty because he and Sirius lived in Grimmauld Place together. Everything was falling into place all around them. It was sad that it took a tragedy and a near-death experience for them to come to their senses though. But at least they were official now.

"Yes, pup. That's actually what's going on this time," Sirius agreed after several moments of laughter. "We wanted to let you know that we've begun planning already and wanted your input."

Harry sagged in his chair and grinned. "Good. It's been years and I have been waiting for this for a long time. Now we just have to plan out the invitations, decorations, location, and-" he gave an exaggerated shudder, "the entertainment."

Meaning music, dancing, and large crowds of people talking mostly. Things Harry wasn't all too fond of. How would he even handle the wedding when he would no doubt have to interact with people in order to keep up with his role of being the Heir to two Ancient and Noble Houses as well as the consort to Lord Slytherin?

Lily placed a large, steaming pan in the center of the table and when James went for the large knife, she smacked his hand away. "Youngest first, James." She turned to beam at their son. "Harry, we know how hard you've been working lately. Take as much as you want."

While Harry moved to cut himself some of the roast that smelled so wonderful and was literally covered in the best seasonings, Sirius and Remus began a low discussion on who to invite to their wedding. Lily tittered upon Sirius' suggestion of not sending the Lestranges an invite. "You and I both know that Bellatrix would show up whether she was invited or not. Best not to accidentally insult someone, Padfoot. She's been waiting for you to get married for far longer than Harry has after all."

Padfoot shuddered but nodded. "Point taken. And if she's offended when she arrives, it could spell trouble for all of us. But she is not getting a table close to our family!"

Remus patted his fiance's shoulder. "It's alright, Siri, we'll make sure she's given the proper seat with her husband and children."

"Don't be mean to Rigel though. He's a good kid," said Harry, after finally finishing with his own plate. "Though he might sit with the Weasleys since the twins and he are togetherish. Or as together as an underage wizard and two adults can be, really. In fact, I'll get Hermione to asked Bellatrix if Rigel can choose where to sit. Bellatrix likes Hermione a lot more than you'd think, and should Mione ask I'm sure she'd allow it."

Bellatrix Lestrange unnerved practically everyone who met her. The fact that she had taken a Muggleborn, one Hermione Granger even, under her wing, had been the most shocking piece of information for the Potter/Black/Lupin family. And she taught the teen more than spells. She taught her how to survive and even imparted extra lessons not even magic related upon her.

If she didn't have children, it would have appeared as if Granger was Bellatrix's chosen heiress. While her twin sons were odd themselves and generally quiet and capable of staring anyone down, they still didn't take after her more widely known eccentricities. And neither did the youngest.

Hermione Granger was an apprentice in every meaning of the word. As if she'd been training to take over Bellatrix's position. And the thought of her possibly having any sway with Lady Lestrange, was one of the things that made James acutely aware of how quickly time was passing by them all and how the younger generation was coming up to take their place so soon. And it made him fear slightly, that he and his generation would become obsolete. And with how quickly things were advancing, he also feared being forgotten.

It was also like a mirror to Harry and Voldemort. He shuddered for what felt like the millionth time that evening, after thinking of the fact that his son was betrothed by magic, to the Dark Lord of Magical Britain. Harry got away with things no one else would, James was certain. Because Voldemort favoured him long before Harry became his consort. Allowing him to be mouthy and rude, and merely smirking and combating any snark the boy threw his way. Like it was a common past-time between them.

How strange that two of the fiercest magicals alive in Europe, were emotionally attached to two teenagers that they had personally approached, to different extents. James spooned some steamed vegetable onto his plate and shook his head in bewilderment. What was the world coming to?

"Speaking of dear Hermione," Lily murmured as she sat at the table, finally ready to begin their supper, "how has she been doing with Draco Malfoy? I saw them together at the Yule Ball and they looked adorable!"

Sirius sat up with vivid interest, obviously wanting to know more about one of his cousins. Even if he tried to pretend that he didn't, Sirius actually cared about Narcissa Malfoy and her son. They were family no matter how questionable Narcissa's choice in life partner was. And Sirius, unlike most of his relatives, didn't believe in cutting out his emotions and ignoring his feelings. So he embraced the role of Lord Black a lot differently than any former Black Lords had.

Harry snorted. "She's finally met the parents and Draco was unabashedly proud to introduce her to them. I honestly think their relationship, whatever classification it falls under in their minds, is a good one. And it's hilarious to see Draco fumble one moment and then be completely cocky the next. Luna knows when he's going to pop the question but won't tell me when or where, so I have to be patient and probably have to put him in check some time soon, just so he knows where we stand over Hermione's continued happiness."

Draco Malfoy wanted to marry a Muggleborn. James had to wonder what dear old Lucius was thinking about the whole relationship. He'd pay any amount of Galleons to be able to see the man's face when young Draco revealed his full intent for his and Hermione's relationship.

"And what about dear Luna?" asked Lily. "She's coming closer to graduation. What does she plan on doing once she's free from homework and has been released into the world?"

Their son's face broke out into a wide grin. "Luna wants to be a Magizoologist. She's working really hard on attaining the proper grades necessary for a Mastery. She'll get it of course, and when she does, she going to join me as a partner. Two minds are better than one as always. Luna is excited to officially meet my clients and is already planning chances to travel and find other creatures."

That was good. None of them had really liked the idea of Harry being all alone in Diagon Alley, every day of every week. While he had animals with him and sometimes had visitors or customers, it hadn't made any of them feel any better. But they didn't want to seem clingy, so they supported his efforts and keep their worries to themselves.

It helped that Albus had visited Harry many times with Fawkes and had reported that he seemed in good health and high spirits. Oftentimes, he would have Voldemort's snake with him, and what Dumbledore managed to glean from their conversations, with what little he understood of Parseltongue, was that Nagini and Harry were good friends and both liked to tease Voldemort whether he was there or not. And gossip about him too. That revelation could have caused a heart attack. Thankfully, James was made of sterner stuff so he merely spit his tea out. But that was a story for another day.

Anyway, with Luna Lovegood around constantly, Harry would have more companionship with another human who wasn't Voldemort or a customer. James could be more thankful that the girl cared for animals and creatures as much as Harry did. The fact was a blessing.

"I hope everything works for the both of you," said Remus with a calm smile. "And if you ever need any help-"

"I know. You're all ready to lay down your time. Thanks."

After several moments of silence and eating, Sirius looked up suddenly and asked a question that had all of them freezing in place. "Are you bringing Voldemort to the wedding?"

Harry's jaw dropped. "I… hadn't considered that."

Voldemort going to a wedding of a Grey couple who mostly aligned with the Light side. Participating in the activities and dancing? Would wonders never cease?


The day of lovers. Not a day that Voldemort had ever considered beyond a minute annoyance. He'd never celebrated it personally because what would Tom Marvolo Riddle, the boy who eventually became Lord Voldemort, know of love in any form? Not even when he'd been at Hogwarts, did he participate in the holiday. And it had been more muted in his teen years than it was now. Back then there were more important things going on to think of holidays too much.

At Hogwarts, it was one of those annoying Muggle traditions that somehow managed to make it into their society and managed to stay relevant. And he had a feeling it did so by appealing to the romantics. Even some of his most hardened followers believed in true love and soulmates and all the mushy rubbish that Valentine's Day approved of. Because it was nice to think that somehow, some way, there was somebody out there who was perfect for you. Whom was meant to make you happy and vice versa. And even Voldemort could admit that the idea of soulmates was nice in theory. He hadn't even managed to escape the popularity of such ideas.

But until now it had played next to no part in his life. He had more important things to do usually. He allowed others to enjoy themselves on the 'day of lovers' and stayed far out of the way.

Now however, he had a consort/fiance to woo and he wasn't so sure of what to do. Did Harry Potter even like Valentine's Day? Did he expect Voldemort to go out of his way with a big spectacle and get chocolates and flowers like every other person in the world would do on Valentine's Day? And did he want... declarations of love?

Voldemort wasn't sure of love and what it meant. He couldn't just tell Harry he loved him when he could never truly understand what it meant to be loved. And while emotions and people's feelings hadn't ever meant much to him before, he would never do Harry such a disservice as to lie to him over something like that. Especially when Harry was as emotionally stunted as Voldemort. The Dark Lord was cruel and heartless to a point, but it came in its own special brand that set him apart from others. He didn't want to manipulate Harry's feelings in such a way, and knew that Harry would never do the same to him. Harry valued honesty very much and he was upfront about wanting a proper romancing. Lying wasn't proper in any form.

So what to do on the most annoying day of all days? Where someone in the business of marketing, decided that pink was the colour of love and the commercial market was flush with pink, heart-themed items. Things that were more expensive than normal all because they came in a different coloured bottle, or because the word 'love' was added in the bloody title. The time where roses of any kind were triple the usual price because apparently only roses could show your true love for another person?

Now, Voldemort wasn't all too fond of flora, but he found himself fancying the muted tones of peach coloured zinnias. A lingering bias from a single time in his youth when a woman selling flowers down the road from the orphanage had just handed him a flower, telling him he should continue to try hard in school and one day he'd get out of his unfortunate situation by his own skills and wouldn't owe anyone anything. It been one of those moments to stay with him, especially since he hadn't had to pay for the flower. It was a gift in a way, and the words even more prominent to young Tom Riddle.

So Voldemort felt a small inclination toward zinnias. That was why they were planted all over the manor. And no one even knew why.

But back onto the subject of Valentine's Day and Harry. Would he welcome flowers? Perhaps one of those creatures that looked like a flower but actually wasn't? It was simply nature's way of protecting them from danger. Pulchriteals were difficult to capture however, because they could blend in so well and manually checking every teal coloured flower was hell.

Maybe he should aim for something easier to spot from a distance?

Or no flowers or creatures that looked like them? Maybe Harry would like a dinner? Though it wouldn't be meaningful like the one on Voldemort's birthday since Voldemort couldn't cook or bake anything. And he wasn't feeling moved to attempt to make anything. He might give poor Vashti, his Head Elf, a heart attack if he even thought about it.

Being in a relationship was so difficult!


Bellatrix cackled as she threw Floo Powder into the fire and watched as the flames turned bright green. "Merryberry Cottage, Godric's Hollow!" What a ridiculous name for a dwelling, but then again, what else should she expect from a Light-oriented Potter? Light lovers always had odd names for their homes.

James Potter's face appeared in the flames and the man looked almost constipated upon seeing her. "What can I do for you, Bellatrix?" Having to be polite must have been killing him inside! She cackled, enjoying his discomfort very much.

"Your moment has come, Potter. Is cousin Sirius with you?"

"Yeah?"

The woman took a deep breathe. "Under an agreement with the French Minister, our Lord is to send reinforcements should Lady Herakles of Greece attempt to enter France. I along with some of our community's best duelists have been summoned, including you and cousin Sirius. Cousin Nymphy is joining us, along with Lucius and Severus, so get to the Minister's office in the next five minutes for a more detailed debriefing from the Dark Lord."

She didn't even give him a chance to reply, and cut the call off. She was far too excited to care either.

Bellatrix's magic tracking skills were going to be put to use on this mission. She couldn't wait to test the skills of this supposed Dark Lady herself! There was much doubt over whether or not she could best Lord Voldemort, meaning Bellatrix along with the others who would join her on this venture, should be able to take her down easily.

And it was so fun to think that she would finally be able to see some real action again! Being in charge of the Dueling Arena just wasn't enough because there were rules and regulations that had to be followed and no one was allowed to kill anyone. And Lucius was such an anal retentive ninny half of the time that it was a miracle that they saw any action at all.

"Boys, mummy has to go and kill a Dark Lady! Don't give the House Elves too much grief while I'm gone!" the woman cackled. She then threw some more Floo Powder into the fire and bellowed, "Ministry of Magic!"

Too bad she couldn't bring Hermione.


A/N: Another is done!

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Chapter Text

A/N: Hello, people!

I don't own Harry Potter.

I have no beta.

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There had been more Aurors than usual, stationed around the most important magical sectors in France. The one, critical flaw in their planning was the fact that they didn't consider the Muggles. Muggles inhabited most of France and it was relatively easy to get in and out of the country if one were to use Muggle means to do so. And since she had grown up in a Muggle neighborhood, she understood everything and never struggled to blend in unlike other magical individuals.

Herakles didn't need to get in through Beauxbatons, or any of the magical shopping districts or living quarters in order to get to where she was headed. Besides, whom she was after, didn't even reside anywhere near those areas. How convenient for her that dear Nicolas and Perenelle decided to continue using the Flamel Castle as their primary home even after so many years had passed by. How fortunate for Herakles to not have to do much work.

And how wonderful their old friend Alagia had been when she revealed the exact location of the Flamel family's main residence. It was such an unfortunate thing that the Italian woman had tried cursing Herakles when her back was turned. She wouldn't have choked on her blood had she stayed the urge to be brave. Many people died foolish deaths because they thought too highly of themselves.

People were amusing with their fragile sense of nobility and ambiguous morals. And it was so easy to manipulate them like the little marionettes they were. Always easily dancing to whatever tune was played for them, without even realizing they were being used and abused.

The Greek woman strode down the street, her apparel almost perfectly blending in with the Muggles and their style. A long black coat covering the bodice and robes she wore, and a simple hat to add to the effect. Muggles never noticed anything and she doubted anyone would find her interesting. Her appearance was glamored to appear bring and eyes would simply slide right off her.

It didn't take much for her to come upon the transportation that would get her near enough to the Flamel Castle. She confounded the driver and smirked, because once she knew the location personally, she wouldn't have to use such substandard means of travel ever again. Thank Circe someone once decided that instantaneous travel was a necessary thing.

But sometimes sacrifices had to be made to see one's plans come to fruition. Herakles knew all about sacrifices. She'd been through enough in her lifetime. And greatness did not just come upon people, they had to work for it. Which was why she needed to visit Flamel Castle.

And after an hour, Herakles stared up at the admittedly impressive wards surrounding the miles of property that belonged to one of the most influential magicals to have ever existed. Wards that were saturated with over a millenia of different magics and additional protections weaved in for the benefit of the residents. Wards that would take some time to demolish if she was being honest. But things usually turned in her favor pretty damn quickly, so she had faith in her abilities.

Her magic rose and covered the silvery dome of magic, pushing down and crushing it. And the only thing to make this all the more interesting, was that it took longer than the other family homes she's forced her way into on this lovely expedition. At least Nicolas knew how to make things entertaining. That was one truth the man could take to his grave.

Ha! There was even a Runic Web meant to absorb the magic of anyone attempting to enter without permission. How amusing the French bastard was! This was going to be fun!


Bellatrix cackled as she and the team of British and French mixed magicals, were finally granted entrance into the property belonging to the Flamel family. It was time for some fun! Her eyes had already taken in the landscape and how useful it could be from the fountain to the hedges, and even the vines climbing up the side of the main building.

"Oh, Herakles!" the witch singsonged almost childishly, "it's time to play with Bella! Accio!"

Within seconds, their entire group was under fire by one woman, who was looking distraught and not as powerful as she thought herself to be. Bellatrix took note of her stance and the way she held her wand. Not as confident as her Lord was. Unlike Lord Voldemort who lightly held his wand because he knew he was the strongest being around, Herakles gripped hers tightly, her body rigid and her face screwed up in concentration.

Spells were flying back and forth, and the woman erected and amazing barrier to protect herself, but also allowed her to keeping shooting her own attacks. Going against over twenty people and managing to keep her own was impressive, Bella would admit that. But Bella was even more impressive.

As she wasn't one to be outdone, especially by someone younger than she, Bellatrix sent her most dangerous curse at the self-proclaimed Dark Lady. The curse, which was supposed to turn the object it connected with, inside out, exploded from her wand in a violent shade of purple. It connected with the bubble surrounding Herakles and in an odd twist of fate, the bubble caved and Herakles was once again exposed to the outside world, the bubble still intact behind her. It turned the bubble inside out instead, leaving Herakles vulnerable.

Dodging behind a large hedge on the grounds of the Flamel property, Herakles ceased her attacks, while Bellatrix and the group advanced forward. Several of the French Aurors began setting up anti-Portkey wards.

The water in the fountain rose suddenly, in the shape of a serpent that lunged at them. Severus countered with Fiendfyre that took the shape of a mighty dragon, the water and flames meeting in the middle. Whilst that happened, Potter and Sirius rushed forward, in a move that seemed very comfortable to them. Sirius morphed into a massive, black dog then, and jumped over the hedge Herakles was hiding behind.

Potter aimed a Bombarda Maxima at the ground beneath the hedge, rocks and dirt flying everywhere.

Bellatrix had never been good at Herbology. It was a good thing that any spell mean to help plants always failed for her, because it was time to kill the greenery and remove the bitch's hiding spot. Hiding was such a cowardly tactic and if one wasn't capable of winning a battle face to face, it proved they weren't as powerful as they claimed to be.

"Herbis!" she hissed, and smirked when the leaves of the hedges practically melted under her power. She'd been told that she repelled plants, and for once there was something useful in all those spells she'd learned years ago.

Herakles was revealed, back facing their group as she struggled to hit Sirius with curses of all sorts. Bella's cousin was far too fast however, and kept evading with little to no effort at all. Something Animagi shouldn't be capable of of, which got her curiosity going. But not enough to distract her.

Potter chose that moment to freeze the woman to the ground and Bellatrix, Lucius, and Severus acted as one being, casting the Cruciatus curse. It struck, but strangely… seemed to roll right off the woman. Three of the best duelists in Magical Britain, used the same curse on one woman, and it didn't work at all. No effect in the least.

Bella had to give the woman the respect she hadn't before. That was damn impressive. Much more than anything Bella had seen or heard of thus far. It also begged the question, how?

To make up for that unfortunate result, Sirius launched himself at the woman and latched onto her wand arm, making her wail in pain and jerk out of her frozen state as she tried to push him off. However, trying to remove a dog that had a head that reached your shoulders, was nearly impossible. And his jaw strength must have been too much for her to handle, because Sirius managed to remove the entire arm, and Potter followed it up with a Bone-Breaker that surely connected to the woman's left leg and had her crumpling to the ground.

Sirius spit out the arm and wand, and growled menacingly in her face.

Herakles looked around madly as her body began to twisting on itself in shapes of grey. The mass shot into the air, and Severus, being the best natural flier out of them all, followed in a streak of black.

Meanwhile, Bellatrix lifted her wand to the sky and shot a bolt of lightning into the air. Seconds later, lightning strikes rained down, but the black and grey blurs managed to dodge all of them, making Bellatrix hiss in annoyance. She'd come to kill and she was going to kill!

"You're not getting away that easy!" the witch screamed, forcing more magic into her wand and cackling when the sky erupted in showers of lightning that came pouring down on all of them. Her glee reached sadistic levels when the grey blur lit up from being hit as it fled the wards.

While Herakles may have escaped today, Bella would get her. And she knew that injuries of such magnitude, would never heal correctly.

They'd gotten an arm, her wand, and learned that she'd left with nothing to show for her efforts. Bella would get her rematch one day, because there was no way Herakles could resist coming to Britain. And when that day came, Bella would play with her prey and maybe even get darling Hermione to join her.

"That was fun!"

"It was not!" her cousin hissed as he turned back to his human form, wiping at his red-covered mouth. "That was disgusting. I need to brush my teeth!"


"Hi, Hagrid!"

The half-giant grinned when he saw Harry on his doorstep. "Come ter help with th' animals again?"

Harry hadn't been able to visit in a while and he missed all of the animals. Besides, today was grooming day for the owls, and he'd missed them terribly. "I figured you could use a little help and I have the day off today, so why not come by?"

"Tha' Runespoor 'as been a right nasty one lately."

Not that he hadn't expected it considering he'd had to bright it back since it technically belonged at Hogwarts. "I'll see what I can do," he promised. It was only right.

Besides, it wouldn't hold that much of a grudge, right?


"Do you like Quidditch?"

Voldemort's glamoured nose wrinkled in disgust. "No. I could never understand what was so amazing about the game. I can barely tolerate it. You enjoy it though, yes? Best Seeker at Hogwarts if I remember correctly?"

It was Harry's turn to sneer. "It's not that I really enjoy it, it's just that it was the best way I could get in my flying time without taking personal time away from my studies. If it was a requirement, then I didn't have to feel guilty for not spending my time doing other, more important and necessary things." Such as helping the animals and magical creatures around the castle.

"So you don't like Quidditch despite playing on the Gryffindor Team for five years?" Voldemort sounded skeptical, which Harry couldn't blame him for since yeah, why would a person who didn't like an extracurricular activity, do it so much? It seemed pointless, especially if he actually had other interests that he wouldn't mind devoting his time toward.

The Potter Heir laughed uncomfortably, his plan to use the topic as a chance to transition into a different topic of conversation, didn't seem to be going well. It was just supposed to be a way for him to get on the subject of flying in general. Because he liked flying and wanted to ask Voldemort out for a good fly. Flying together could be considered a date, right?

Harry knew that he was in no way required to explain himself, but how would a relationship work if neither of them were open? Voldemort even relinquished small pieces of information about himself from time to time, even without noticing. So of course Harry could spare something as well. Besides, it was kind of eating at him and he wanted to know!

"So, as you know, Magus is vastly different from Hogwarts. Students go in at eight and leave at four. I got used to the routine, having done it for years. And it was tolerable because I could spend time with the people I liked and then go home to my sanctuary each night and recharge from all the socialising that I had to do. It wasn't the same at Hogwarts."

Merlin no, it was not the same! Poor eleven year old Harry Potter ended up learning the hard way, how different it was to grow up a little.

He shook his head, remembering that absolute train wreck that was his first year. "Hogwarts is a boarding school. Instead of getting a night or a weekend away from the stress of having to interact with other people, you don't have an escape. You take all of your meals together in this large room full of loud people. You don't see your family for months at a time. You have to intimately share living quarters with at least five other people and have to learn their habits so your schedules don't collide."

So much stress came from being in a boarding school. Harry hadn't liked Hogwarts all too much in his first year. It was just one overload after another. People were tolerable in small quantities, but shoving one thousand students together, all of varying ages and maturity, was basically asking for trouble. And introverts like Harry, who had social anxiety, didn't take well to the atmosphere.

"Was it really that difficult to acclimate?" asked Voldemort. He sounded interested, and had even set aside the paperwork he was doing. It was nice that he was actually so engrossed that he would pay Harry his full attention, even over something as simple as a small story from his younger years. It made Harry feel like Voldemort truly considered him to be important. Enough so that even a small story about Harry's childhood struggles seemed to have the man enraptured so easily.

"Yeah. I hadn't taken too well to it. You can asked Madam Pomfrey or even Snape. I was in and out of the Hospital Wing constantly for all sorts of calming draughts and invigoration potions. And I learned of a way to combat my issue in second year." A genius method if he was to be honest. Harry never told anyone until now.

"There are Quidditch matches all the time and if I got on the team, I would be able to use a broom as frequently as I wanted without needing a watcher. I could see my family at those matches during the school year because they are allowed to visit hen their child is playing. And I could go flying and feel free. Dealing with crowds was the only downside and all I did was muffle them so I didn't have to hear them too much." A worthy sacrifice for those precious moments of freedom he rarely got those years. "You ever wonder how the greatest Seeker Hogwarts ever had, always took over an hour to catch the Snitch?"

Voldemort smirked then, an approving look spreading across his glamoured face. "You were busy playing your own game instead of the one you signed up for. Sneaky, Harry."

He gave a proud nod. Harry often disappeared from the game altogether and no one would even remember him until he appeared at the very end to catch the Snitch and end the game. He liked it that way. He once went to Hogsmeade during a rainstorm and got himself some hot cocoa. He managed to do that, eat some treacle tart, and get back to the game before anything amazing happened. And then he caught the Snitch and the game ended.

Good times.

"Why the sudden need to talk about boring sports?" Voldemort asked as he started shuffling the papers around again. His attention was being diverted once more and that would not do. Not when Harry hadn't even gotten to what he'd wanted to talk about!

"Boring?" he sputtered, completely bewildered at how nonchalantly the man treated Quidditch. "It's a deadly game played high in the air at impossible speeds, and many chances to either die or be permanently injured are prevalent." How was that in any way boring?

The Dark Lord shrugged. Shrugged!

"The Japanese have a more advanced version where you are only allowed to stand on your broom, but are expected to do everything else the same. Except the hoops. There is only one on each side and it is much smaller. And there are many more Bludgers."

...Harry wanted to play!

"That sounds bloody fantastic!" he admitted, suddenly wishing he lived in Japan.

"I'll take you to a game some time," promised the Dark Wizard, a small smile on his face. Voldemort had just offered to take Harry out somewhere to watch a sport. Together. As in an outing between just the two of them. A date. That was outside.

Awesome.

"Also, do not forget that I am capable of unsupported flight and can fly much faster naturally than any broom today can," Voldemort added a second later, making Harry's jaw drop. He hadn't seen Voldemort fly personally, even if it was common knowledge that he apparently could and had taught only his best Knights how to do it.

Which meant that he should totally be up for a fly, right? If Voldemort had trained himself so thoroughly, then he had to like to some extent, yes?

"So... if I were to ask you out on a date that will take place about two thousand feet above ground, would you be down for it?" he murmured, trying to appear as if his heart was not holding the man's response on a pedestal.

The crimson eyes narrowed playfully. "Do you think you could defeat Lord Voldemort in flight?" There was a challenge in the older man's words.

Well… "Sure! You're much older than me so if we raced I should totally be able to crush you."

Voldemort stood abruptly. "Then let us race, Harry."

This was going to be fantastic!


Voldemort easily surrounded Harry's flying form. The Dark Lord was very good an maneuvering in the air and while Harry dove and rose with the air currents, Voldemort was basically rolling around him.

It was a challenge, and in response, Harry did a barrel roll of his own, and laughed. His laughter was carried away by the wind, but Voldemort could see the joy on his face and knew that Harry was having a good time.

And Harry had been the one to suggest this. A 'date' a few thousand feet in the air. It was their first 'date' that wasn't held at one of their homes, and Voldemort actually found himself having a good time.

Harry's taunting was exhilarating, and his skills on his broom were impressive. He played a teasing game of tag with the Dark Lord, and smirked whenever he managed to catch Voldemort somehow, his hand usually caressing Voldemort's shoulder or neck as he did so. And then the teen would speed off, making Voldemort work a little more to catch him. And being touched so - dare he say sweetly? - was new for the Dark Lord, but he ended up liking it.

As for Voldemort's method of capturing his consort, he liked to get close enough to tease, but not close enough to touch, because he'd noticed that him whispering in Harry's ear made shivers run all along his lithe body, and that kind of affect while in his natural form, was an ego boost. Harry still found him attractive for some reason, and even liked the slight hiss that accompanied his speech thanks to the forked tongue in his mouth.

On the last turn, which both managed with issue, Voldemort decided to go a step further, and spread his magic out a bit more, engulfing both Harry and his broom easily. His arms wrapped around the younger wizard and they rolled to a stop in mid-air, Voldemort keeping them afloat easily. Harry was pressed to his chest and was still laughing.

§You got me. What do you want as a reward, my Lord?§

Had Harry ever referred to him as such aloud before? He couldn't remember, but he knew he liked it. And judging by his body's reaction, he really liked it. Adding on the fact that words were said in Parseltongue, and Voldemort was almost besotted.

The boy cleared his throat and eyed him up and down expectantly. §That was the hint for you to finally kiss me.§

§You're a cheeky thing, Harry,§ Voldemort said, unable to help himself from being charmed by the other's attitude.

He hesitated only a second, but then did as Harry was obviously wanting him to. What both of them wanted.

The moan he received for his efforts was delicious. And he learned that Harry really appreciated his tongue's strength.


"So something about the Greek Dark Lady has been bothering me," said Hermione conversationally as she took a seat across from Harry and Luna at the small, Muggle diner. A Muffliato had been cast of course, just to be safe. "So as any sane person would do, I decided to do a little research and found some interesting facts that many seem to have overlooked."

"Naturally," agreed Harry, knowing very well how Hermione got when she was curious about something. Or when she was itching to prove some inept fool wrong. She was spectacular when it came to searching for information and Harry wouldn't dream of challenging her to a drill. He liked learning new things, but didn't think it was fun like Hermione did.

Luna was humming as she proceeded to reach into her bag and pull out a tin full of what looked like caviar, but a little larger and not so black as the caviar he'd been forced to deal with over the years. She proceeded to dump an enormous spoonful into her tea, not explaining exactly what she was doing. Harry was tempted to ask, but decided that the knowledge was better kept away from him. Sometimes life was better when one just didn't know certain things.

While the blonde was busy with her thoughts, Harry focused his attention on Hermione, since she seemed to be boiling with the need to speak unhindered. And the longer she went without talking, the longer she ended up talking when she finally opened her mouth.

"Okay," she began, placing a green, spiral-bound notebook on the table. It was super thick though, and he was a bit wary instantly, wondering if it was completely full with her findings. "You read the news about her making her way to France and somehow breaking into the Flamel's old family home, correct?"

He and Luna both nodded. Harry couldn't get away from it because his father and godfather and cousin had been called in and his mum had Fire-Called him in worry. And then of course Voldemort decided to also come over to explain that he had full faith in the group he set out to apprehend/kill the woman. Harry hadn't been too worried because Bellatrix Lestrange was on the team. And all of them did come back in the end, so it was fine.

"Well the Flamel residence has been standing longer than Hogwarts has, and was created by Nicolas Flamel's great-great-great-great-grandmother. It's been the home of the main line of the family for centuries, housing Nicolas and Perenelle the longest. The ambient magic from being an Ancient and Noble abode that was seeped in traditional magicks over the years, had enhanced the wards. No one not related to the Flamels can get in unless invited by a Flamel's magic. They work much like the wards surrounding Hogwarts do after all."

"Then how could Herakles get in?" asked Harry, completely confused. No sane person would allow a madwoman into their home willing. She had to have broken in.

Luna paused, tea cup held to her lips. "Herakles is a relation to the Flamels, yes?"

What?! Harry head snapped over to Hermione fast enough for his neck to pop.

Hermione was grinning almost madly as she began flipping through the pages of her notebook. "I was looking up information on her to try to understand just why she would try and get into their home. It isn't as if they are alive any longer, so what could it be that she wanted? And then I found out that her great-great grandmother was a Squib descendant of Nicolas and Perenelle. But the woman left the family because she felt that it wasn't fair that she didn't have magic and that Nicolas continued to insist that there was no way to just inject her with magic unless she were cursed with Lycanthropy or Vampirism.

"She felt that since he was capable of making a stone that allowed him to live for centuries, he should have been able to create a method for her to have magic as well. So she outcasted herself and fled to Greece where she married a wealthy Muggle man and had many children. None of them had magic, but then all of her grandchildren had magic, and the great-grandchildren had magic, and then came along Herakles, who is said to be the most magically powerful witch from Greece."

So then, Herakles was related to the Flamels, and she had literally broken into their home in search of something. Her distant relation would allow her to be recognie once enough of the old wards were stripped, which would explain why she damaged them. Unless it was just for fun and she wanted to make her relatives suffer in the future. She had broken in despite her ancestors no longer being alive, and she hadn't bothered to contact any possible family members either. She decided to take matters into her own hands, and entered the main house of the Flamel family and even fractured the wards for whatever petty reason, according to Voldemort.

The papers had said that she took nothing, but many rooms had been overturned. She was in search of something and hadn't found it. And had left injured and forever changed.

Hermione held up her book and cleared her throat. "Draco helped me separate the information when I brought it all to his attention. She has been trekking across Europe for the past five months in search of something, and caused mayhem and destruction in every country she passed through. What people don't seem to realise, was that she was at very specific places. All those dead people in Romania, Austria, and Italy, weren't just random aristocrats, and not all of them were Purebloods. They were all personal friends of Nicolas Flamel in one way or another."

So Herakles Sotiropoulou of Greece, a distant relation to the Flamels, had been slowly meeting with friends of her many times great-grandfather. And when they didn't have what she wanted, she murdered them in cold blood. And she had slowly been making her way up the continent, attacking people in every country between Greece and France, and seemingly not seeing any law enforcement the former countries had, as a threat to her safety or personal vendetta, as she had yet to cease her trek. At least until Britain got involved.

The woman had hit Germany before forcing her way into France. As expected, many more had died in Germany, apparently because they didn't have what she wanted. And then she was spotted walking around the Muggle section of Toulouse and someone reported it to the Aurors. Then the French Ministry alerted the British Ministry immediately, and Voldemort sent a team of Britain's best duellists out, as the agreement Harry had drawn up with Minister Bertrand stated he would should the Greek Dark Lady set her sights on France somehow.

And by best, Harry meant the best. Bellatrix, Severus, Lucius, James, Sirius, and Nymphadora. The six had set out, dropping whatever they were doing and they had been able to Portkey to the French Ministry, where they were joined by the best Aurors the French had at their disposal.

Voldemort had told Harry that Bellatrix was in charge of the mission, being the oldest of the group and the most skilled at tracking. All the woman needed was a sense of the Dark Lady's magic, and she would able to pinpoint it from vast distances, and then stalk her across the land.

And she had. They arrived at the Flamel residence not too long after it had been entered, taking the place by storm and driving the woman off before she could cause any damage to any of the living Flamel's residing within. And that was only a family that had hidden themselves in the secret rooms of the grand castle while an unknown magical invaded their home and began tearing things apart. Four children had been among the family members and one of them had allowed the group of law enforcers onto the premises.

Severus would have been able to break down the rest of the wards, but doing so would only cause more problems for the living Flamels in the long run, so it was good that one of the children had been there to let them in with the family magic. Had Bellatrix been given a chance, she would have ruined their already fractured wards even further.

In the end, Herakles was driven off while lacking her left arm, and Bellatrix consulted with the Head of the French Auror division, where she proceeded to instruct them on how to track magical signatures and ward better. Sirius and Nymphadora set aside some time to instruct some of the Aurors on how to cloak themselves either magically or physically with little effort. Severus and James unfortunately got landed together for the 'guard duty' in which both studiously ignored one another and waited patiently for the remaining several hours before their return to British soil.

"Anyway, we know she's related to the Flamels, and that she is searching for something and is going to all of Flamel's friends looking for it. What do we know about Nicolas Flamel? What possession did he have that someone would be greedy for and people have been badgering him about for centuries?" was Hermione final question.

Harry got it just as Luna stated it plainly. "The Philosopher's Stone."

Either Herakles wanted immortality, or never-ending riches. And since most of humanity would gladly take one over the other, it wasn't shocking that the stone was her goal. He was shocked that he hadn't noticed any of this, nor considered it the reason for her to have broken into the Flamel residence.

"Mione, you need to share this with Voldemort, or Bellatrix at least. Just so someone higher up has all this information and it gets around fast enough to hopefully pull up the protections necessary. It was made a law to share whatever you know and I don't want you getting in trouble for waiting to reveal this." He didn't think Voldemort would hurt her since she was someone precious to Harry, but still it was a law and Voldemort liked his laws to be followed.

The brunette nodded, but looked sad. "I know. I just thought you both should know first because this gets even more dangerous and detailed. The only remaining connection to the Flamels, is Albus Dumbledore. He's the only living friend they had that is left."

Shite. Just when he thought that the drama in Britain was over, this had to go and happen. Herakles was no doubt coming to them next, but when, was the main question.


Voldemort did not necessarily take the revelation of Lady Herakles' plans, well. He didn't thrown a tantrum or anything, but his inkwell did explode and cover his desk in a mess. Of course he easily fixed that, but it was the fact that he'd lost control of his magic enough for something like that to happen at all, that had been the shocker. Also, the room suddenly becoming thirty degrees cooler was enough to show them how he felt.

"This means I have to speak with the old buffoon more than I want to."

Harry and his friend Granger shared a worried look, but didn't say anything in response. They simply waited patiently as he collected himself and forced his magic under control once again. And waited for the temperature of the room to return to normal.

Speaking with Dumbledore was always taxing in some form or another. And with how morose the old man had been in recent weeks, he wasn't looking forward to this. Because he knew very well that Dumbledore would use this as an opportunity to impart more wisdom onto Voldemort's unwilling shoulders. He wasn't looking forward to it.

"Good work, Miss Granger. My attitude may not be the best at present, but I am grateful and you will be rewarded for your diligent work."

Harry beamed at him with obvious pride and lead his friend from the office, allowing Voldemort time to himself. He didn't miss how Nagini had followed them out either, and resolved to lecture her later.

He had to compose a letter. Something to let the old fool know what was happening.

Dumbledore had gone to the Will Reading. It had made the papers. And what had been noted, was that no one but family had also attended the Reading. All those friends the Flamels had gained over the years, couldn't attend because they'd been slowly killed off over the past half year.

And no one had noticed. The fact that even Voldemort hadn't noticed was shameful, and also put some things into perspective. Particularly, he wasn't perfect and even he could overlook the most obvious of facts. After all, he'd been following the trail of murders and Herakles' travels quite closely and still had put nothing together on his own!

So Herakles was after the Philosopher's Stone and it was either in the Flamel Family Vault, or it was in Albus Dumbledore's possession. And since he was the very last friend of Nicolas', that meant the Dark Lady would indeed be intruding upon Voldemort's territory sometime soon. Which meant preparations had to be made.

He had to look at the future and consider just where she might pop up. And there were all sorts of events happening in the upcoming months that could be the perfect opportunities for an attack. Which meant higher protections and triple the amount of guards and wards.

All of this over a rock.

In a way, he felt that the entire situation was ridiculous. She either wanted eternal life, or eternal riches. And while he understood wanting immortality, he knew of a much easier way to obtain it. She had already murdered many innocent people, and a Horcrux wasn't difficult to make. Reabsorbing one on the other hand, was painful according to his tomes. But creation was easy enough if a little disgusting.

And if he considered eternal riches, he felt it was pathetic. Wealth was nice to have. It was nice to know that you wouldn't be struggling to exist. No starvation. No lack of clothing. A roof over one's head. It was great to know that he was secure and that he would never go back to a time where he had nothing. But material objects did not make his world go 'round. It was a reason why he didn't like Valentine's Day. Which was right around the corner. Damn it all to hell and back!

It was just a letter. He could do it easily. And he could be borderline decent in it. It was a sensitive subject. While Flamel's death didn't bother him in the least, his last living friend obviously wasn't taking it well if it had him staring at a frozen lake for hours at a time, talking about circles breaking and hoping that Voldemort would live a life with no regrets.

And Nagini had abandoned him for Harry. So he was all alone in the silence. No rats for her when she finally came back.


Lily,

It is that time of year again. The time where the Great Hall is inundated with pinks,
reds, and whites. All colours that I absolutely despise. Yet for some reason, the 
students and other professors, welcome it with open arms. Very few people share my
displeasure with the holiday, and none of them are actually inside Hogwarts either.

What do you see in it? Surely nothing happens on this day that can't happen on any 
other day of the year? A special dinner and chocolate can happen at any time so I
do not see the appeal. Surely there are people who understand my feelings. Yes?
I cannot be the only person to see a heart-shaped vial and think it ridiculous?

Sincerely,

I-Am-Tired-Of-This-Bloody-Holiday

~.O.~

I-Am-Tired-Of-This-Bloody-Holiday,

It seems like you're in quite the predicament! If I didn't find your suffering to be so
amusing, I might just feel bad for you. However, I think it's a nice time of year and
that 
you're only grumpy because you refuse to go to the pond and do some fishing.
There are many available witches, wizards, warlocks, and beings of non-human origin
meandering about after all. The pond is ever full and open always.

I'm certain you could find someone easily if you bothered. And it's not necessarily 
the holiday itself, but more of what comes with it that makes everyone so happy.
Such as special sweets that only 
come out this time of year. And nice attractions to
visit. And of course most of us 
actually get the day off. So it works out in our favour.
Unfortunately, you are the one who accepted the offer to be a Headmaster to about
one thousand children at any given time.

Besides, I know you like Rosemerta's Valentine Wine. Even if it's a garish shade of
pink. 
And I think you only really dislike the holiday because the Weasley twins once
pranked 
you and turned your hair a bright shade of pink. Which actually looked very
good on you 
and was admittedly impressive of them. And the fact that spells could
not conceal it, nor would it wash out for weeks, made it even more traumatic for you.

Just listen to your Walkman and ignore the festivities if they bother you so much.
Or you can take my advice and go fishing for romance!

Lily. ^-^

~.O.~

Lily,

Rosemerta's wine is a family recipe that has been passed down for four centuries,
and 
every year she serves the bottles over forty years old. Of course it's delicious.
I feel 
no shame. It is a delicacy and I will treasure it every year.

As for the holiday, in the words of a great literary figure, 'Bah! Humbug.'. I don't
need romance, I need for romance to leave me alone.

Severus.


Harry stared at the bouquet of flowers on the counter. They were a bright shade of teal and all smelled rather lovely. And he didn't know where they came from, but they were nice. And his wand told him that there was nothing dangerous about them so he knew they were placed with friendly intent at least.

He took the little white card from the pot and looked it over, grinning to himself. Voldemort had taken the initiative and gotten him flowers for the dumbest holiday of the year. Dumb in the sense that many people only ever did grand gestures of love, on Valentine's Day, when it should be a year 'round kind of deal. Still, Voldemort had thought of him, and that was very sweet.

ßHi!ß a small voice practically screeched in his ear.

Harry jerked back and looked around frantically, wondering where it had come from.

And then, one of the flowers in the vase, moved, and shot up into the air. ßHi!ß it screamed.

His jaw dropped. It was a Pulchriteal. They were incredibly rare and very difficult to find. And Voldemort had gotten him one for Valentine's Day!

Pulchriteals were like mini flowers when still, but in movement, they resembled hummingbirds because their wing's moved so fast they couldn't be seen. And apparently they were very energetic too! Though it was to be expected from their description.

ßHello,ß he murmured, holding out a finger and waiting patiently for the little creature to land. ßI'm Harry.ß

ßHi Harry, we don't have names!ß

The young Potter sputtered. ßW-we?ß

And then another Pulchriteal appeared beside its friend, landing on his finger. The plumage of this one a lighter shade of blue, showing that he was the male, as the books stated. That one difference was all that existed to tell them apart.

Voldemort had gotten him two Pulchriteals, who were apparently friends at least. So that he wouldn't have to find another on his own when it came time for courtship!

The Dark Lord had thought of everything, and now Harry simply had to pay him back! Because he was so sweet in thinking of Harry and his interests!

ßMay I name you both?ß he asked softly, feeling incredibly excited but not wanting to scare them.

ßSure!ß they crooned, little beady eyes blinking.

So adorable!


§Am I not receiving anything on this most annoying day?§ Nagini demanded as she slithered into his office. §Is it not appropriate for you two-leggers to show appreciation?§

Voldemort sent the serpent a look. §You're a snake, why would you need to celebrate the day of love? You have no mate of your own, nor do you consider human practices interesting most of the time.§

§I want rats. Lots of juicy, fat rats to eat. Since there are no prisoners for me to consume, rats will have to do. And I raised you, you twitchy, salt water maker. I deserve something in return for all of your dramatics over the years.§

People did not understand how annoying snakes could be. Voldemort would liken them to cats. Scaled felines. Demanding, no concern for others unless it benefited them, and loud when they whinged. And Nagini dared to say that he was dramatic? He wasn't the one complaining about not having anything to eat. Despite the fact that she had eaten two days prior and did not need to eat for at least a week!

§You will get fat if you keep eating so much.§

§I will not.§

§I have a feeling that you do not pull this kind of attitude when you're with Harry. You favour him.§

She snickered. As well as a serpent could snicker anyway. §No, we gossip about you mostly. And he gives me the rubbing I deserve, and actually talks to me instead of paying attention to parchment at all hours of the day. You might take some lessons from your two-legger mate-to-be in that regard.§

He sighed, wanting to break something but not willing to put forth the energy required.

Being a Dark Lord was taxing in a way he hadn't assumed it would be.


A/N: Another is done!

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Chapter Text

A/N: Hello, people!

I don't own Harry Potter.

I have no beta.

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CHECK ME OUT ON TUMBLR. HELLY-WATERMELONSMELLINFELLON.


Hermione stared in awe at the large package that Bellatrix had just levitated in front of her. On it was a card addressed to her. From the Dark Lord himself.

Ms. Granger,

For outstanding deduction and research, as well as
bringing your 
findings forward and helping to protect
hundreds of lives, may 
you find this helpful. Make certain
Bellatrix is present whenever you 
use it. She shall instruct
you accordingly, as I once taught her.

Lord Voldemort.

Bellatrix was seated across from her, storm grey eyes obsessively fixated on the box between them. Her hands trailed over it reverently, fingers flexing every few seconds. "The Dark Lord," she breathed in obvious amazement, "told me that you would need my assistance more than anything, dear Hermione. A gift from our Lord is of the utmost importance and you should feel honoured to have gained his favour."

In a way, she kind of was. Hermione hadn't done any of her research in order to get praise and gifts. She's done it because the entire situation with Herakles had bothered her very much and things didn't make sense to her. Getting rewarded for all of her hard work, and getting acknowledgement however, was very much appreciated. It proved that Voldemort valued effort and intelligence.

And the man had kept his word as well.

The brunette set aside the green and silver card, and pulled the box closer. It was dark and made of a wood she was not familiar with. And the lid was heavy when she pushed it up, and creaked ever so slightly. Inside rested a book with a cover that looked like it was made of silver fur. Almost like the Monster Book of Monsters, without the dangerous fangs.

Bellatrix's soft gasp was enough to let her know that this was more than just some book. There was something more to it entirely. Voldemort had really given her something unique.

The Lestrange Lady gave a shuddered breath. "The Dark Lord has seen fit to gift you with the access to Necromancy under supervision."

Wow.

She looked up, finding herself looking her tutor in the eye. Bellatrix leaned across the desk, eyes imploring for her utmost attention. "The last person my Lord chose to teach this branch of Dark Artes to, was myself. Severus had the talent but was uninterested. We have waited for someone to show possible interest in more than Dark Curses to use on their foes. And here you are, my darling little gem! You will treat it with the respect it deserves!" By the time she finished, her voice had ascended from monotone to pitchy excitement that was the audible equal to the mad look in her eyes.

"You feel that I am ready for such a responsibility?" asked Hermione, feeling only a sliver of self-doubt. Necromancy took much more than concentration and a powerful magical core. She had only graduated a year ago. Was this something she should be getting into so soon?

"The Dark Lord would not have gifted you with such a tome if he did not believe you were ready."

True. He was putting an enormous amount of trust in her skills and determination to better herself.

There had never been a Muggleborn Necromancer in the history of the Magical Community of Britain. Most Muggleborns were too affected by their Muggle upbringings and would only view it as a demonic art. There was in fact, much more to it, than summoning demons and spirits. But their reluctance to educate themselves and the comfort in just believing what anyone told them, deterred any possible interest in the subject.

And now Hermione was going to learn with the aid of her trainer, who seemed more proud than she ever had been before.

"I am ready," the younger witch decided with a firm nod. Besides, it would be lovely to have something else to do beyond her boring office work. Since the Ministry didn't seem to be getting any better, this would have to do.

A manic grin, like that of the Cheshire Cat, split across Bellatrix's face. "Wonderful," she purred.


Voldemort blinked in utter astonishment, having not expected the words that had just come from Harry's mouth. His mind played back the entire conversation so he could verify for himself, what he'd just been asked. That no, he was not imagining anything.

It was time for lunch, not that he was actually eating. There was too much paperwork to be done over the entire Herakles and France situation. Minster Bertrand was a pain in the arse and was too young, in Voldemort's opinion, to lead a country. He relied too heavily upon his secretaries and Aurors. He was also far more invested in earning Voldemort's affections than doing his damn job.

Harry Potter had walked right into his office like he owned the place, which was almost true since they were betrothed and Harry would eventually be wedded to him. Hopefully. Still, the young wizard lead an entire tray of food into the room, and then closed the door with a wave of the hand.

It was a collection of finger sandwiches and some tea that he'd no doubt collected from Voldemort's Elves. "I came to see you and decided to get your lunch since I knew you would be too busy to eat without a reminder." The tray hovered over a spot on the desk, ready to drop any second once it was cleaned off.

Sighing, he'd set aside his work and the objects on his desk began to move aside on their own to make room for Harry's bounty.

"So, Voldy," the other began, knowing full well that he hated to be called that, "have you ever been to a wedding?" He reached out and grabbed a sandwich, taking a bite and waiting patiently.

"Unfortunately," was his all too honest answer. He had been to many a wedding in his years of being a Dark Lord. It was a rather small punishment to suffer through in order to keep his followers and friends in line. Having the most powerful wizard in the world at your wedding made it 'more special' or some ridiculous tripe like that. It also kept them loyal to an extent if they thought he was honestly interested in such things.

"I don't see the appeal of the festivities that always follow. They play terrible, drab music, and the gossip is dull." He hated the poor taste in music most Purebloods had. They refused to leave the 1800s, and he could not tolerate it.

The admittance of course got him a loud snort from Harry, who was smiling widely. "Sirius and Remus are finally getting married. And in true Marauder fashion, their wedding date has been decided on the most dangerous day of the year."

Voldemort obviously didn't understand the amusement shining at him through Harry's eyes and leveled the young man with an expectant look. It obviously wasn't Voldemort's birthday, so when was it taking place?

"April Fool's Day, Voldemort. George and Fred Weasley are going to be supplying party favours. It's their birthday too, and they are glad for it. A double reason to celebrate and with people they actually like. But it also means exposure for their business."

Distantly, Severus' voice rang through his memory. Back during the Consort Tournament, after the Second Task when Voldemort was reviewing the happenings during said Task and wanting the input of his Knights. Severus had ended up saying much about the Weasley twins.

'They truly have been some of the most annoying mischief makers I have ever had the misfortune of encountering but they were quite brilliant in their own right. They have been working tirelessly in opening the joke shop that they have dreamed of owning for years.'

Pranksters were employing equally mischievous pranksters, to help their wedding that was to be held on the international day of pranking. Merlin preserve the health of those in attendance! It would hell all around.

"I wish you luck," he told his consort with intense honesty. He wouldn't want to be on his guard for the entire night.

Harry's face flushed a bit and he wiggled in his seat, shoulders twitching a tad. "Well… I was hoping you'd be my plus one."

And that was what lead him to staring in stunned silence. He had been asked to attend a wedding and all that it included, by his consort. His consort, who was related to the couple that was to be wed. The couple that was Grey in magic but Light aligned. The couple that was firmly on the opposite side of his when the war had concluded.

And Harry wanted to take him to such an event that was close to the hearts of his family, and acknowledge their growing bond in front of all who attended.

There was a wary light in Harry's eyes, green flashing almost ominously with his unvoiced worry. He'd gone through the trouble of coming over and asking in person, which would take fortitude. It was more personal that way instead of cowering behind parchment. They young man had put himself out there.

Voldemort hated what usually transpired at weddings. But… he would be with Harry who wasn't annoying.

"For you I will go," he relented. It couldn't be so horrible with Harry there, correct? He could simply stare at his consort all evening.

Harry was out of his seat in a flash, and rounding the desk in order to plant a kiss on Voldemort's glamoured cheek. "Thank you! If you are there, I know it'll be more tolerable. I mean- I have a say in some of the things such as entertainment, but I have little patience for socialisation which will be a necessary evil considering all who are involved."

Voldemort wouldn't admit it aloud, but he secretly enjoyed that