Grazhir :: Crossover :: FeS2 :: 04

04

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“I’ve seen acts of every shade of terrible crime from man-like creatures, and I’ve had the breath of liars blowing me off course in my sails.” — XTC, Jason and the Argonauts


Voldemort, it seemed, was not one to give up so easily. There were a few times when he caught Harry alone and attempted to kill him, and also irreparably maim him, but the curses always failed or just barely missed. Harry had to wonder if the man spent most of his time in a royal snit.

He never did have his previous encounter with the mirror, with Dumbledore watching on in curiosity. The headmaster could not gift him the cloak, for one thing, and Harry never bothered to wander the halls aimlessly or try to get into the Restricted Section (that Dumbledore knew of, anyway).

The remainder of the year passed almost placidly, right up until the last day of exams. Harry had noticed Draco giving Snape odd, calculating looks from time to time, and even that Malfoy spent an inordinate amount of time in the library. That evening his ward went off again a half hour after Dumbledore took off for a meeting at the Ministry—and why so late at night, he wondered. Even so, it was a surprise that Malfoy and his two goons had entered the forbidden corridor. ‘Derek? Any intel on this?’

‘This Malfoy noticed the damage to Snape’s leg after the Halloween incident and has been researching since then ways to do what Snape supposedly could not. While he was intelligent to put together the clues and come to certain correct conclusions, he’s showing a marked lack of such right now.’

‘Oh,’ he said in bemusement. ‘Thank you.’ He went back about his business, eventually to sleep, and noticed that Malfoy and his goons were absent from the Slytherin table at breakfast, and Dumbledore and Snape were missing from the head table. Quirrell, however, was present, and looked to be faintly amused by something.

It wasn’t until the next morning that the Daily Prophet was screaming out scandalous front page headlines. Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle were dead and Dumbledore had been sacked. Lucius was reportedly on a rampage. ‘Huh. This Draco was actually braver and stupider than I thought. I wonder what the fallout will be from Dumbledore getting fired. Maybe we’ll see some staff changes. Then again’—he eyed McGonagall—‘if she’s elevated, maybe not?’

Any decisions made were not shared with the students. He found out after the fact that the ministry had sent in a cadre of aurors and support staff to investigate the forbidden area thoroughly and wondered if Dumbledore had even had time to reclaim the mirror before he was kicked out. And if he had, what was his reaction to the stone being gone? He was tempted to ask Derek, but decided against it for the time being, though he was also curious as to where Dumbledore ended up. At the Hog’s Head with Aberforth, a brother who was still mad at Albus over Ariana and Gellert? Perhaps not. Then again, given that Dumbledore still had Fawkes the man might yet be living in the castle, just in an unused or closed off section.

Regular exam results were distributed a few days later, Slytherin was presented with the House Cup at the Leaving Feast, and they were all soon riding the train back to London. And though he had made regular trips back to the house at Privet Drive to reinforce the imperius curse on Petunia, he had not bothered to instruct her to pick him up. No one in their right mind would want to spend that much time on a train with her, not if they could avoid it.

He stopped by Diagon Alley for some odds and ends, then shifted back to his room to prepare a ‘letter’, though calling it one would be inaccurate. To his knowledge there was no written form of Parseltongue, and even if there was, someone clever enough could learn to decipher it. Much better to simply send a ‘recording’ of what he had to say.

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Quirrell eyed the package tied to a nondescript owl with some apprehension, but the whispering of his master saw him casting numerous spells to ascertain whether or not the contents were dangerous. He eventually untied the package and shooed the owl away, setting it down on the table before carefully opening it. Inside was what looked like a glass sphere with swirling smoke inside, which puzzled him greatly. A small piece of paper—not parchment—at the bottom of the box read “shake it”, the writing visible even through the sphere.

After a moment he complied, then sat quickly when the sphere began hissing; he could almost feel the interest of his master in whatever it played. Once it stopped the silence was almost deafening.

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Voldemort felt a sense of anticipation when the next sphere arrived. Quirrell still checked the package for curses, of course, but readily enough shook the sphere after that.

Hello again, Tom.”

He did not, in the least, appreciate being called that name, though.

I was feeling rather bored so I thought I’d write to you again. I remember when Ron Weasley took a header out the train window and impaled himself. It was all I could do not to laugh in delight, as I really disliked that boy. Why, you ask? I don’t think I’ll explain just yet. However, I must assume you are unaware of the fact that he had a pet rat. It used to belong to his brother Percy, but when he made prefect the rat went to Ron and Percy got an owl. Why is this important? Because that rat is an animagus. Ring any bells for you?

I feel like I must have met you before—and no, I don’t mean that night in Godric’s Hollow. More like another lifetime, if you will. From what I’ve learned about you we have a great deal in common. Orphans of parents who were, to varying degrees, idiotic. Raised amongst muggles, though I suppose who got the better bargain there is debatable. I certainly didn’t grow up in the middle of a muggle war. How did that make you feel, by the way, that no one ever came to remove you from that danger? Who were you angrier with? Did the people there beat you like my so-called family beat me? Treat you like a criminal for simply existing? Whoops—several hundred of those people around here mysteriously ended up dead. So tragic.

Did you kill your father because he was a muggle? Because he never took you in despite not knowing you existed? Were you angry at your mother? Word has it she wanted Tom Riddle so badly she used a love potion to get him, then stopped when she, for some foolish reason, thought he could love her without them. She essentially raped him, repeatedly. So were you angry with her, too? Maybe you’ll never tell me, but that’s all right.

Though, honestly, pretty much everyone agrees that you are exceptionally brilliant and powerful. Perhaps you should have thanked both of them. Your mother of an old and revered bloodline going for fresh blood, even if it was muggle, and producing you. Then again, are you really insane like the Gaunt family members? They are a cautionary tale about the dangers of incest and breeding too close, after all. Or are you simply hacked off?

But, well, never mind. I had some questions for you and I hope to get answers, ones stripped of sales pitches and propaganda. I’m not asking so you can make a motivational speech or recruit me as though I accidentally stumbled into an Amway meeting. Just what is it you stand for? Because I know you’re too intelligent to believe it’s so simple to wipe out the muggles, not with billions of them on this planet. So what is it really?

If you’re inclined to answer send a reply why don’t you? Box 21A at the owl post office in Diagon Alley. And please do me the courtesy of skipping the curses and traps, as I’ve done for you.

On the one hand he was absolutely seething that anyone aside from Dumbledore knew so much about him. He wanted to kill the child for that alone. The irreverence was irritating, yet also expected. He now had some knowledge of Pettigrew, and Potter was asking about his ideals and goals, and hinted that he had already killed many muggles?

But was he willing to deal—in any way at all?

Several days passed before he sent Quirrell out on a fact-finding mission. Thankfully the man had once been the professor for Muggle Studies, so he at least had a vague notion of how to comport himself in that world. Searching through newspaper reports pinpointed that, in fact, several hundred muggles had died within a few weeks of each other, all in the same town. But when Quirrell tried to go there he was mysteriously diverted every time. He could only get so far into town before something made him turn away, yet covert checks revealed no wards he could find. It was while he was checking once again that Voldemort sensed something nearby and directed Quirrell to shift his attention.

“Master,” Quirrell whispered, “the child is there, beyond the border I cannot find nor breach. He’s—he’s smirking at me.”

Moments later a car went out of control down the street and crashed; bodies were flung about like rag dolls. When Quirrell’s head whipped around at the sound Voldemort managed to get a look at the boy through the thin veil of his host’s head wrapping. Potter was still standing there, just smirking. There was a strange haziness to the view which could not be accounted for by the fabric—but it suddenly vanished. And then, after blowing a kiss, Potter turned and vanished around a corner.

That evening another sphere arrived.

Hello, Tom! Well colour me impressed. Maybe the Muggle Studies course at Hogwarts isn’t just a stinking pile of offal explaining all about things one hundred years ago. Maybe they do actually teach something of use—though probably not enough. Anyway, it’s obvious one of you knows how to do research or you’d not have found the area I live in. Isn’t it a lovely place? Why, it’s just full of people who take the word of one person like it’s gospel—sort of like how too many people take the word of Dumbledore like it’s carved in stone.

Really a shame how they keep dying in improbable accidents. Why, this might drive property values down! So, I figured you wouldn’t respond straight away. That would have been a bit imprudent on your part if you had, right? Now that you’ve had some time to think I’ll reiterate my request for information on just what it is you stand for. Box 21A, Diagon Alley.

Against all sense he was actually beginning to feel amusement when it came to the boy. He had plenty of bravery, wit, intelligence, and cunning. But loyalty?

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‘I’ve been wondering,’ Harry thought. ‘You’ve already said there are no secrets in death—or more to the point, from Death. Death is also any age, any gender, any animal. . . .’

A chuckle sounded in his head, but no actual answer was given. But then, he had not technically asked a question.

He nodded. ‘Suppose I’ll just have to give it a whirl and see. The worst that can hap—’ He broke off at the sound of tapping to look at the window; an owl was waiting patiently to be let in. “Hm.” Harry allowed the bird entry and waited for it to land, eyeing the small package it carried. “Dare I hope he left off any curses? Maybe, but that doesn’t mean I won’t check.”

A few minutes later he was giving the owl a few treats and pointed it at a water dish, and he stood there with the package in one hand. Even then he was suspicious, so he set it down on the floor and retreated a fair distance before using the Elder Wand to open it. Nothing happened, so he tipped the box over with a slight gust of air; a sphere rolled out and forward, then off to the side, eventually bumping into his desk. ‘Well, I guess that’s one way to tell if the floor is level,’ he thought. Again he used the Elder Wand, this time to levitate the sphere and shake it. He was rewarded with the sound of Voldemort’s sibilant hiss.

Harry Potter. You seem to be an inordinately clever young man. But then, your placement in Ravenclaw only makes sense, no? Though perhaps you truly belong in Slytherin, but avoided it due to the suspicion it would bring down on your narrow shoulders. You wish to know what I stand for. So be it.

I want a place of our own. I am sickened that we must live amongst the muggles. I am disappointed and disgusted that our antecedents lacked the sense to carve out a territory to call our home and ward it well. In some ways I am sickened that our people cast off their squibs into the muggle world, where that blood—though the person lacks the ability to use magic—will eventually again surface, producing so-called muggle-borns, those children who have no idea of and no respect for our culture, our traditions. . . .

Hypocritical, you say? From I, who was raised a muggle? Perhaps my mother should have had the sense to give birth at St Mungo’s. I learned everything I possibly could once I was admitted back to the world I should have been raised in. And I was disappointed. Perhaps at the time the Founders had the right idea. Build their castle of knowledge in a remote area, far away from the frightened, superstitious, and murderous muggles. But they failed at securing enough land for the future. Wizards and witches failed at seeing the opportunity, except for those few who founded the village of Hogsmeade.

Did you know? The average pure-blood of any real degree would find it difficult to successfully breed with a muggle, especially those pure-bloods with creature blood. Some of us are nearly a separate species. We will either go our own way, or the pure-bloods will die out, leaving behind those who mate and breed with muggle-borns and half-bloods, and the occasional muggle. I’d like to take the muggles out of the equation.

I want a government that makes sense. Again, I hear you say the word hypocrisy. My actions are hardly those of a political reformer. I kill those who oppose me—not just in words but in deeds. I kill those who test the limits of the Statute of Secrecy. I kill those who get too close to our world, those who have no right to be here. Those who act as I saw in the past, those who would as soon kill us as not. I am no diplomat to wage a bloodless war.

And I use what can be used. Someone like Cornelius Fudge is a fool. He also responds well to flattery and gifts. The Wizengamot is made up of old men afraid of losing their grasp on power. They are frightened by newer blood, newer ideas, anything which threatens the status quo. But they can be used.

What do you stand for, Harry Potter?”

Harry set the sphere on the floor long enough to set the box right, then placed it back inside and closed it. A flick of his wand saw it resting on a shelf, and then he sat down on his bed and ran a hand through his hair. “He has a point,” he muttered. “But I notice he didn’t try to explain his actions better, or comment on the insanity angle. Then again, I didn’t ask him to respond to any of that, only what he stood for. So, what do I stand for these days, hm?”

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This would be much easier if I could just write letters. But really, I don’t want Quirrell reading them. He’s just a minion, after all. So, what do I stand for? Well, I don’t think all muggles are evil. I do think they’re dangerous, especially groups and those who have access to some of the more devastating weapons. I don’t want them all dead. I would prefer to have a country of our own, much like you would. Part of the problem with humanity is that people will always make distinctions. I mean, there is no such thing as a utopia; the human condition doesn’t allow for it. I’d still like our own country.

I’d even go so far as to say I’d like our own world, but how that could be possible I simply don’t know. I always scoff when someone says something about the ‘wizarding world’ because there isn’t one. The muggles continue on, cutting down forests in their rapacious need to have yet more space to erect their skyscrapers and so on, ignoring all those they drive out of their lands.

But as to what I really stand for, I can’t say with any certainty yet. I do know I don’t like being used. You should see the eyes of people when they see, not me, but the Boy-Who-Lived. I’d like to be remembered for something I actually did. Only you know for certain exactly what happened that night, not that I think anyone would much care when it’s so much easier to embellish sparse facts with whatever their flights of fancy bring to mind.

I kill, too, as you might have noticed. All these people here believing I’m a criminal. And yet I wasn’t until a few years ago, not that they’ll ever have proof. I used their deaths for a purpose, and because I hated how they took the word of one person—two originally—over the evidence available to their eyes. Maybe in another life I didn’t notice.”

This was the second time the boy had referred to a different life. Was that even possible? It would explain much.

I find I don’t mind the idea of getting revenge these days, or the deed.”

And again.

They say it takes a village to raise a child.” Boyish laughter sounded. “And look what they managed to raise. Right now, whatever you may think, I am not your enemy. I don’t care who said what. Nobody ever asked my opinion, just made assumptions. Maybe I recognize that my parents were soldiers of a sort and could be killed at any time. Maybe I recognize that they had other choices, but decided not to choose them. And I don’t recall being drafted. Now, I admit, I know a lot more than I should, but I seem to have a way with seeing the truth in people’s eyes.”

A natural Legilimens?

So I know about the prophecy which led you to attack. My personal opinion? It only holds as much weight as we allow it to. It’s a prophecy, a prediction, not a quantifiable truth. Were you thinking clearly the day you decided it was wise to believe anything Trelawney said? Did your informant tell you the whole truth? I’ll tell you a secret. He’s not yours. Then again, perhaps he’s changed his mind again. He seems to flip like a landed fish at times he’s so indecisive about some things. I think he was thrown for a loop when I showed up looking like Lily instead of James. Either way, whether he’s yours or not, I do intend to kill him at some point, so I hope you don’t mind. A school is supposed to be a place of learning, not a place where I get more of the same as what I used to get here.

By the way, have you considered Iceland? I did some checking and it only has a population around three hundred thousand. You could start at the middle, warding territory, and gradually push them all out. Maybe a nice plague, some horrific accidents, and the next thing you know, it’s the Bermuda Triangle all over again—except a bit more accurate in the telling. Give it some thought.

Oh, something just occurred to me. It’s pretty strange, so I wouldn’t blame you for thinking I’m crazy. It’s about parchment. I know, we do things like wear leather and dragon-skin, but writing on parchment? Made from the skins of animals? Muggles have the right idea making paper from plant fibers. Until next time.

Voldemort chuckled almost involuntarily. Maybe he should stop wasting time and get on with regaining his body.

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Harry donned an appropriate disguise—invisibility was always appropriate—and shifted to the Hog’s Head. Aberforth was there just as he remembered, wiping a glass with a none-too-clean cloth. Every so often the man would look up and sweep his gaze around the room, then go back to his wiping. Harry waited until Aberforth went into the back for whatever reason and followed him, stunned him quickly, and searched through his memories. He withdrew with a frown and obliviated the man, unfroze him, and shifted away.

If Albus wasn’t with his brother, where was he? He could not death-shift if he had no real clue where to. Harry thought back through his memories and found no indication of ever having heard of a home Albus stayed at. But there was that time during fifth year when he suspected Dumbledore had stayed in the castle after fleeing from Umbridge and the aurors, though he could have been at № 12 Grimmauld Place.

He waited until after midnight before shifting to the pond near the Burrow. The memory of him being flown to the house by the twins and Ron surfaced and he wondered if the Weasleys even bothered with wards prior to Voldemort’s return. A check of the area showed nothing of any note, so he invoked the cloak’s power and moved closer. A second check still showed nothing of note, giving him more confidence in his idea. After wrapping himself in silence he slipped in through the kitchen door and made his way upstairs to where he remembered the twins’ room to be, and paused before going inside.

This was the twins—what were the odds that they had managed to trap their door? Or would Molly have ensured otherwise? He checked the door and the surrounds carefully and nodded, then eased the door open just enough so he could slip inside. Once that was again closed he cast sleeping spells on each boy and looked around for their trunks.

Ten minutes later he was back at Privet Drive, activating the map, and checking it thoroughly for any sign of Dumbledore. Nothing. Either he was not there or the map was missing his location. He was a fool for not having checked previously. And true, he could ask Derek, but he preferred to figure it out by himself if possible; he might be the Master of Death, but that did not mean he had to be a dick about it. With a sigh he tucked the map away in his fidelius’d trunk and went to bed.

The next morning he was feeling a bit glum. Dumbledore might have retained the house at Godric’s Hollow, but it was just as likely that neither brother could stand the thought of living there after both their mother and sister were killed. For all he knew they might have sold it and split the proceeds. It wasn’t until he went over his memories again that a new idea occurred to him.

A quick trip to the shops in town provided a map of the United Kingdom, a protractor, and a compass. Back in his bedroom he spread the map out on the floor, located Little Whinging on the map, then checked the compass for north. After a few adjustments were made he placed the Elder Wand on the flat of his hand and said, “Point Me Albus Dumbledore.”

A quick bit of work with his tool resulted in a line being drawn on the map at the approximate angle the wand showed and he packed up his things before shifting to the Shrieking Shack. Another go had another line on the map. Two more rounds and he returned to his room and spread the map out again so he could extend the lines he had made. They converged on a tiny little island north-northwest of Edinburgh that seemed to have no name. He circled it and frowned.

He checked his results twice a day for the next week, absently wondering why Voldemort had not responded. Had he given away too much information? Or just enough to keep the man interested rather than murderous? He rolled his eyes at the reaction expected when Voldemort learned his Horcruxes were missing—and then in Harry’s hands. Once he was satisfied that Dumbledore really was spending a good deal of his time on that island he bought another map and circled the island, then prepared another message.

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And a good day to you, too, Tom. How have we been this week? Made any progress on a new body? You were quite the handsome devil when you were younger, so I can only hope you come back looking like something along those lines.”

Voldemort arched what should have been his brow—or tried to, at least.

I had some fun myself, though I admit it was a bit tedious. If you check the box you should notice a little something extra. I’ll just wait a minute so you can do that.”

Voldemort directed Quirrell to check and had him stick the resulting map to a wall, then face away so he could see it.

Right. If you pay attention you should notice a small island circled up near Edinburgh. Dumbledore seems to spend a lot of his time there so maybe it’s his home away from Hogwarts. But after all the work of tracking him down I’m feeling far too lazy to do anything about it just now. Perhaps you have some ideas. It’s interesting, I think. I don’t believe that Dumbledore is evil, but I am certain he has done and will do evil things, if that makes any sense. I think his early years and that flirtation with Grindelwald really messed up his head.”

He ‘arched’ a brow again.

And he probably went a little more squirrelly when he ended up having to defeat the man. You see, Dumbledore recognizes that he shouldn’t be trusted with power, yet what does he do? Uses his power when he probably should not, and fails to use it when he should. Your situation is a case in point. So is mine, but I can at least absolve him partially when it comes to me, since the laws don’t seem to take the details into account.

His little trap this past year put the lives of countless students in danger. Three died because of it. The first inclination of most any child when they hear ‘don’t do that’ or ‘don’t go there’ is to disobey. For having been the headmaster of a school for so long he has little to no understanding of children or human nature, and chooses to believe that what he thinks is correct is true. There’s a saying: The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Albus Dumbledore in a nutshell.

I doubt anyone can force him to see the error of his ways, but he can be removed from the game. Maybe he can be of some use to you. Maybe while unconscious so you didn’t have to hear him bleat on about good and love and repentance and heaven only knows what. Then again, if what I suspect is true, you wouldn’t exactly be giving male models a run for their money in the looks department after that.

It had to be possible, though how he could not conceive of.

Perhaps I’m being somewhat hypocritical, but they do say it takes one to know one. And I do see it, this man who talks and talks and never once does anything to back up those words. I actually think he’s the worst hypocrite of we three. And, to get back to something I brought up earlier, I do realize that Iceland can be a bit on the cold side, but I think that’d be a small price to pay for a country of our own. I’m still looking into alternative options, though. Until next time.”

Potter seemed quite adamant on the idea that Dumbledore should die. Not exactly subtle, but not nauseatingly obvious, either. The boy—though he suspected that should be man—was actually helping him. Some of that might simply be self-preservation, in diverting Voldemort’s ire toward another target, but as he and the boy both knew Potter was next to impossible to kill. Perhaps the hint of having done all this before with unsatisfactory results was Potter’s way of saying he had genuine reason to despise the man, not to mention many of the people around him.

He thought back to the past year at Hogwarts and realized that Potter held himself apart. Oh, he was polite, but there were too many times when he had caught glimpses of disdain or contempt in those shining eyes when they passed over many a wizard and witch. It was as though he saw right through them, or perhaps had already seen all of it and knew what had already happened—once upon a time.

He frowned. How!? How could the child possibly know? He had spent decades learning magical arts around the world and never had he ever come across anything which would explain this. If Potter was a Seer then his actions in response would have changed the possible future too much for it to be reliable. A time turner would be useless. There were no rituals, either, that he knew of. Could this boy—this far too knowing child—have done something even the brightest and most inquisitive minds had failed to accomplish?

And if so, what should his reaction be?

It was a couple of hours later that he laughed in surprise, startling his host badly. He was amused to realize that he felt challenged by Potter. His thoughts drifted again to the idea of “resurrection” and Potter’s mention of Dumbledore. If that wasn’t a blatant hint he did not know what was. However, he was not immediately inclined to rush things. With Quirrell as his host the curse on the Defense position was temporarily nullified. Perhaps it would be worth his while to observe things for a little longer. Rushing resulted in the loss of his physical body a decade ago and exile.

“Quirrell, tone down the stammer this year,” he ordered.

“Yes, master.”