Find out why Voldemort has been so weak and what he is going to do about it.
Special thanks to FairyQilan for the beta reading.
Chapter 7 - Percy: The other white meat.
Aches and pain greeted the Darkest Wizard of recent history as he dressed himself. He had been forced into rash actions before he had fully recovered and now he was paying the price. Physically, he had recovered. Mentally, he was as sharp as ever. Magically, he was not. His magical core was still in what could only be termed as a pathetic state. Immediately upon his rebirth, he had foolishly dueled with the whelp. His core had but a meager amount of energy in it. The real damage had been done by the Priori Incantem effect. It drew power from the wands and the casters to create its effect. That severely overextended his newly reborn body. It was a sad state of affairs that he spent most of the previous year recuperating and reduced to playing ridiculous mind games with his teenaged nemesis. He glared at himself in the dressing mirror.
"No, couldn't just walk over and slit his cursed throat, could you? Had to be arrogant! Surely no mere child could expect to out duel Lord Voldemort! Well now look at you. You were barely able to take out Amelia Bones you weak disgusting wretch!"
He stared menacingly at his image in the mirror. The angry expression on his face would make all his followers, well except for Bella, cringe. She would just get that crazy smile on her face, even if it was directed at her. Sadly, he sighed, that was the state of things, his most loyal follower had only half her oars in the water. Of course the other half was poised to bash someone's head in. Most of his followers harbored delusions of succeeding him as the next Dark Lord, Bella simply wanted to kill. She was a beautiful, elegant, feral killing machine. Merlin, love that crazy bitch! Lucius, by contrast feared him, but he could see the ambition burning behind Malfoy's grey eyes. He would probably have to deal with Malfoy the elder before the final battle. 'Perhaps a suicide mission, or maybe he would pit his own son or wife against him.' He mused. His boy is almost of age and it would be time to mark either him or Narcissa. The choice was obvious. The boy would be a grunt with ambition to spare, but lacking the cunning to properly wield it. Narcissa on the other hand was devious and sly in her own right. Behind every great man is a woman using him for all he's worth. Lady Malfoy would remain unmarked, because she was already a useful ally. Her son in his ranks would ensure her continued cooperation. Besides, he could hardly expect their offspring to not do anything foolish that will end him in Azkaban or dead before he graduates from school - might as well get some use out of him.
"Ah yes. Time for the shepherd to guide his loyal flock." He said grabbing for a portkey to take him to his headquarters.
He arrived in his command center to be greeted by Peter. The rat was looking rather tired and the Dark Lord saw the telltale signs of his injuries. Peter, however, simply smiled at him. A new aura of confidence surrounded the wretched little animagus.
"I do believe there are no Goldsteins or Smiths left to offend you. The only Longbottoms left wander around a hospital ward while their spawn lies bloated at the bottom of a pond. I hope you are pleased Master." His lackey said with a gleam in his eyes.
"Very good news indeed Worm- ah Peter." He had started to use the same derogatory term he always used, but paused deciding to refer to the man in front of him by his given name. He saw Peter straighten noticeably. In his mind the Dark Lord thought, "Obviously a bit too much stick and not enough carrot. Let us see what the new and improved Peter Pettigrew can accomplish."
"Thank you my lord."
"Were any of my loyal subjects lost?"
"The only one who has not checked in from my team is Harold Travers. I have sent his brother to his house to look for him. Colson's team reported no casualties but several injuries. They are being looked over by the mediwizard right now my lord."
"Have you seen Severus?"
"No Master. He is most likely at Hogwarts. Rudolphus also has not reported in. Bellatrix has expressed her concern for his welfare. I have not heard from the rest of your team milord."
Voldemort started thinking. Rudolphus, Severus and two others were still there when he had been forced to withdraw. Surely Potter and the girl would not have stood a chance. He began to dismiss it when a tiny voice in his mind reminded him of the portion of the prophecy he knew already. The boy does have power. Is it possible that he managed to beat them?
"Have one of our people at the ministry listen for the results of the attacks. I need to know what the ministry knows, immediately!"
"Yes milord." Peter spun and quickly left the room.
The Dark Lord settled into the center chair around a circular table. His own "round table" if you wished. The table itself was a clever design by Pettigrew. It was based off of something he and the fools he betrayed put together as children. It was a map of the entire town of where this mansion resided in. This map would show the movement and names of all the people in the mansion and surrounding town. Quite a bit of ingenious work by Peter, the Dark Lord mused. It was regrettable to know that Potter possessed the original map detailing Hogwarts. In hindsight he should have warned Crouch Jr. to simply destroy it rather than confiscate it, but in retrospect he had already planned to use the map when he assaulted Hogwarts.
Bellatrix made her way into the command chamber. She was in her everyday wear. It was a pity. He had actually rather enjoyed making Bella play "dress up". She had cleaned up rather nicely.
"Master, do you know where my oaf of a husband is? I promised him pain and suffering if he failed you. Is he hiding from me?" She asked arching her eyebrow as she took the smaller chair directly on Voldemort's right hand side. This indicated her position as her lord's "right hand". The left-hand seat was currently vacant and would normally be filled with the arrogant figure of Lucius Malfoy.
"I do not know at this moment. Peter is sending someone to the ministry and I expect Severus here soon. We shall know them."
Bellatrix looked confused. Between the Dark Lord, Severus, Rudolphus and the others they should have easily overpowered any resistance. She shifted uncomfortably in her chair directly, wanting answers, but not willing to anger her master to get them. Instead she studied the map of the mansion, watching the dots move about. She watched the dot labeled Severus Snape form at the apparation point and begin moving down the corridor heading for the central chamber.
"Milord, Severus approaches." She said quietly.
"Good then we shall have our answers."
Severus briskly walked down the corridor. His debriefing with the headmaster had taken longer than he had thought. Combined with the fact that last night's mission was strategically a draw - with no clear-cut victor, his tardiness left him with a slight sense of dread. He was interested in the Dark Lord's reaction to the news. If any single entity bore responsibility for the disaster it would be Voldemort himself.
"Can't exactly punish yourself now can you?" The potion master thought to himself.
"Ah, Severus, welcome back. We seem to be missing quite a few members of the team that went with me last night. Would you care to enlighten me?" Voldemort ask in a calm voice.
"Where is Rudolphus?" Bella asked rather tersely.
"Milord, after you left. The Potter brat managed to stun me while I was dealing with the girl. Two of the new recruits were captured by the aurors and Rudolphus dueled with Potter. The boy was able to kill Rudolphus."
"What!" Bellatrix screamed. Severus could not have just said what she thought he had said. Ickle baby Potter could not have destroyed "her property"! Rudolphus was fairly skilled as a dueler, nowhere near her league, but still competent enough in a fight. Her eyes glazed over. Had anyone been looking at her, they would have seen a terrifying sight as her face contorted through a wide range of emotions; shock, anger, resentment, hatred, sweet murderous hatred. Her left hand began to twitch uncontrollably. She needed to kill someone, the sooner the better. The more violent the death, the better in fact.
"Interesting." Voldemort said drawing a slightly hostile look from his deranged companion. "So the boy who lived can be a killer if needed. I am curious about Dumbledore's reaction to this revelation."
"The boy is mine! I will kill him! I will flay every inch of skin from his body and douse him in alcohol. I will wear the bones of his fingers as a necklace! He will suffer! He will beg me to just kill him."
"Bella! Control yourself! Severus do you have a calming draught? Excellent. Bella, take this and retire to your chambers. We will speak more on this later. Go now!"
Severus watched as Bella, who was for all intents and purpose foaming at the mouth, drink the potion and storm away from the table. One of the newer recruits was entering the chamber as she was leaving. She grabbed the man suddenly, kneeing him in the crotch and driving her elbow into the small of his back. He collapsed onto the hardwood floors and she kicked him three times in his chest, before continuing on her way. The man staggered to his feet spitting up blood on the floor. Once on his feet he gasped for breath and turned to head presumably to the medical bay.
'I see she is taking this well.' Snape thought to himself before continuing. "The headmaster confronted Potter at the auror headquarters. They exchanged words, but other than the boy's anger fuelling some wild magic, there was no repeat of his infantile display from last month. Dumbledore expressed concerns that the boy could turn dark if left uncontrolled. The boy is beginning to chafe at the restrictions he is living under. These confrontations are creating much friction between the two and that could prevent them from presenting a united front against you."
"Yes. I can see where that may be exploited to our advantage. I will ponder on this. In the meantime, I will need your assistance with several complex potions. I must have all of them in three days time. Here are the recipes." He handed Severus an ancient tome.
Severus was surprised at the complexity of the potions, from what little he knew of the three, they were for dark necromantic rituals. "I will begin work without delay, Master!" Severus bowed and excused himself, heading for his potion lab cloak billowing in his wake.
Voldemort watched his potion master leave and pondered his next move. He would need to send an owl to his goddaughter requesting that she and her husband come for a visit. It was regrettable that he could no longer wait for his chances to be arithmetically more likely to be successful. Alas, neither time nor immortality would wait much longer. He snatched some parchment and scribbled the instructions for his goddaughter and gave it to one of his lackeys to owl it away.
"Looks as if the circus is in town. Do you agree Neville?" Kingsley Shacklebolt asked as they surveyed the chaos in the room surrounding them. Neville just nodded.
By the kitchen table Mrs. Weasley was berating Harry about fighting Death Eaters. Her daughter looked both shocked and furious. Her son was shaking his head and muttering while getting himself a glass of water. Emmeline Vance looked on in amusement. Three other teenaged girls were huddling on the opposite side of the room. The older blond looked terrified about something and her red haired friend was questioning her and consoling her. The youngest girl was simply staring at Harry with awe. Through the doorway the auror could see that two more teenagers were at the second floor landing listening with interest. Finally the auror's eyes settled on the form of Albus Dumbledore, who seemed immune to the chaos that surround him as he idly fished a small yellow candy out of his robes and placed it in his mouth.
Harry was taking Mrs. Weasley's tirade in stride. He had been mentally preparing himself all morning for what he had considered the inevitable outburst. Hannah's offhand comment triggered the event earlier than he had hoped, as he had been hoping to at least make it through dinner. He genuinely loved Molly Weasley and knew deep down she was acting from her heart, but Harry had already determined that he wasn't going to take verbal abuse from Albus Dumbledore then he certainly wasn't going to take it from anyone else.
"Enough!" Harry said cutting her off in mid-sentence and the room suddenly became awfully quiet. "I had a choice and I made it. It was a question of right or easy. It would have been easy just to do nothing, let them capture Susan and hope for the best. Maybe they weren't going to hurt her - too much." He looked at Dumbledore during the "right or easy" part. Susan felt Hannah tense as Harry discussed the Death Eater's plans to capture her.
"But Harry you're so young," Molly started switching tactics. You don't raise a large family without having several different approaches to difficult children.
"Yes I am young. I shouldn't have to do this, but I do. This scar connects me to him. You know I see what he is doing. I watch him torture people. I watch him kill. I see people on their knees begging for their life and promising him anything. I even see a few who die refusing to give him the satisfaction. I owe it to all those people to do something!"
"That's what the Aurors are for Harry. I know you want to be one, but you need to finish your schooling. Now is just not your time to fight."
"You are so wrong! It was my time to fight when I was 11 and had to kill Quirell. It was my time to fight when I had to go face the Basilisk down in the chamber. It was my time to fight when Crouch entered me into the Triwizard tournament. How many Dark Lords have you fought Mrs. Weasley? How many bodies have you seen lately? I've fought him and seen four dead bodies since last night. One by my own hand! Do I want to be a killer? No I don't, but it seems that is my gift."
Molly Weasley faltered under Harry's counter attack. The room, which had been in an uproar previously, was unusually quiet now. Harry's eyes blazed righteously. Most of the teens in the room were wide eyed at Harry's last declaration. The adults were more introspective. Harry shook his head, turned and headed for the steps. The voice of the headmaster interrupted the silence.
"You can not save them all Harry. This is war. People will die." The wizened mage said.
Harry halted turning his head slowly to look upon his former mentor, a man he had looked up to for almost his entire time at Hogwarts. He felt the fresh sting of their argument at the auror headquarters.
"You can't expect me not to try, sir." Harry growled in reply before marching right past the astonished Turpins. Everyone waited for the sound of a slamming bedroom door, but strangely enough it never came.
Albus Dumbledore sighed lost in his own thoughts as he recalled a similar conversation between a more idealistic and headstrong wizard and his mentor, Nicolas Flammel during what the muggles called World War I. The main difference was that he had been a fully trained wizard already having lived over 50 years.
In a whisper that no one other than he could hear Dumbledore said, "No, I suppose I can not."
Slowly people started to move about the room again. Ron walked over to welcome Neville. The Turpins came down into the kitchen. Susan and the Abbott sisters sat at the table. Susan watched Ginny for a moment as the youngest Weasley fought an internal battle trying to decide whether or not to go upstairs after Harry. Her decision made, she started to go up the stairs, when her mother warned her to wait a few minutes and give Harry some space. Mrs. Weasley started to work in the kitchen, but Susan's house elf appeared and asked her what she needed. This clearly left Molly out of sorts, being rather unused to having the luxury of a house elf. Kingsley, Emmeline and Albus went into the parlor.
"Hannah, do you and Chelsea want to room with me and Lisa? Well come on then lets go finish setting up the room." Susan said standing up from the table.
She led her friends up the stairway and into the room, which already had two sets of bunk beds installed courtesy of Ms. Vance. Susan and Lisa had already claimed the bottom bunks. Hannah opted to sleep above her best friend. After a minute Susan started out the door.
"Where do you think you are going Bonsey?" Her friend asked using the hated nickname.
"A - Don't call me that. B- Someone should really check on Harry. C- The loo is just around the corner."
Susan closed the door behind her missing the looks of speculation on Hannah and Chelsea's faces. Both turned and smiled slyly at each other. The Abbott sisters were unusually perceptive. There were some rumors that they might have some slight empathic abilities.
Chelsea smiled at her sister; "It's not a question of how bad she has got it. The real question is does she know how bad she's got it?"
"I will have to let Justin know as soon as we can send owls. Oh boy, I just thought of something!"
"I have Miss 'Someone should really check on Harry' in the next girlfriend pool!"
"Wow really, I bet on Chang. I thought I sensed something there."
"No by the end of the term, they were going out of their way to avoid each other."
"Did you see the Glare of Death Ginny Weasley was giving Susan?" Chelsea laughed making a catfight sound while clawing at the air.
They were giggling when Lisa walked in the room. "What is so funny?" The petite Ravenclaw asked arching an eyebrow.
"Susan's a bit taken with our hero in residence. We are not sure if she knows it yet though." Hannah answered. "I am glad that I picked her in the pool!"
Lisa smiled thinking of her own selection. "Don't count your galleons until Hermoine gets here though. I did notice that Susan immediately looked up from the book she wasn't really reading when Harry and my little brother came down from seeing the hippogriff in the attic."
"This place has a hippogriff in the attic! Cool!"
"Uh, yes it does. Susan can probably show you or maybe Harry, if he is in a better mood. It's not really my thing."
Susan knocked on Harry's door before opening it. "Harry, are you okay?"
"Oh, yeah, I suppose. Come on in."
Harry sat on his bed with two books and a muggle spiral notebook in front of him. Susan was also shocked to see him using a ballpoint pen. She had half expected to see him hitting something. Instead he was calmly taking notes.
"I thought you might be upset or something."
"Not really. I knew pretty much how that was going to go, so I was prepared. I figured I would come up here and work on the DA notes." He noticed Susan looking at his pen. "Sometimes the wizarding world is so backwards. I heard on the telly how the muggles make a pen that will write upside down and in outer space."
Susan being a pureblood with little exposure to the non-wizarding world did not understand a word he had just said. She merely smiled and nodded her head.
"So what are you working on?"
"Just a rough outline of the first few lessons for the DA. I figured we could start with some offensive spells and some of the specialized shields. To really do those, we will need to work on spell recognition. You have to know what your opponent is going to cast to raise the right shield. I thought about asking Madame Pomfrey to show us some basic healing. Do you think she would?"
"I don't know. You seem to spend enough time with her, so she might think you are sweet on her or something." Susan added with a grin. "Hmmm. I wonder what Madame Pomfrey's odds were in that girlfriend pool. I could make a killing."
"Ha, ha very funny. For someone coming to cheer me up you seem to be having a good laugh at my expense."
"Well, you seem to be fine." She responded sticking her tongue out at him and sitting on the edge of his bed.
They were chatting quietly for another five minutes when there was a soft knock at the door.
"Harry? Are you okay in there?"
"Oh sure come on in Ginny!" Harry replied as the petite redhead stepped into the room.
"I just wanted to make sure ..." Her voice trailed off at seeing Susan sitting on Harry's bed. She coughed slightly and started again. "I just wanted to make sure that mum didn't rattle you too much."
"No. I have already had it out with Dumbledore. I didn't let him get to me. No offense, but you mother doesn't compare."
"Oh. So what are you doing up here?" Ginny sat down right next to him.
"Well Susan and I were going over some of the things I wanted to show the DA next year. Here take a look." He said handing her the notebook.
Susan couldn't put her finger on exactly why she was annoyed with Ginny Weasley. Over the next few days she began to have little daydreams of horrible things happening to the only Weasley daughter. She would practically smother Harry whenever she was around. To make matters worse, she kept mentioning how she had been exchanging letters with Dean Thomas. Worst of all, Harry seemed to be noticing the little trollop. Not that Susan should care mind you, but Harry clearly deserved some less demanding, less smothering, less Ginny Weasley like. When she mentioned her concerns to Hannah, her best friend started laughing at her of all things. When Susan demanded to know what was so funny, Hannah simply said that Susan would have to figure it out for herself.
Susan had hoped things would improve when Hermoine Granger arrived. It was not to be. Immediately after she arrived, Ginny had bodily dragged Hermoine up to the bedroom she was sharing with the recently arrived Mandy Brocklehurst. The boys had also expanded into a second bedroom with the addition of Terry Boot and two second years whom Susan didn't know. There was some talk that they might go ahead and move the "refugees" to Hogwart's early and put them up in one of the dorms. The house had been magically expanded to the limits of Dobby and Trixie's capabilities. Susan had never seen Trixie working so hard before. There were no further arguments between the two elves, as their workload had dramatically increased. She made it a point to compliment Trixie on several occasions. Harry seemed to approve, but Hermoine had lectured her about house elf rights.
The other person, who became extremely popular as the crowd continued to grow, was Kevin Turpin. The young Hufflepuff had brought along a vast collection of modified muggle board games, which he and his sister had charmed. Fred and George Weasley had taken an interest in some of them and were working out a marketing deal with them. The Turpin modification of Clue - The Hogwarts edition quickly overtook gobstones and losing to Ron Weasley at chess as the recreational activity of choice at the noble house of Black. The goal was to find out who had murdered a certain potion's master. It would be a hot seller for the back to school season and on into the Christmas holiday.
Hagrid. In the Astronomy Tower. With the sword of Gryffindor!"
"Nope. Sorry mate. Better luck next time."
Professor Dumbledore had stopped in and observed a rather lively game. Though he could not in good faith endorse a game, whose premise involved the murder of one of his staff, but he could not resist making his own guess.
"I would hazard a guess that the true culprit is Harry Potter in Ms Myrtle's bathroom using the sorting hat."
Percy Weasley woke to a throbbing headache. He was in an unfamiliar room in the same clothes he was in last night. His wand was no where to be found and most alarming neither was his pregnant wife Penelope. His last memory was sitting down to dinner with her last night after a very tiring day at the ministry. The power void in the wake of Fudge's departure and the inability to get a replacement in effect left a small cabal of department heads and himself running the ministry. Penny had been incredibly supportive with all the ensuing late nights.
"He's awake." A voice from outside the door said.
"Our orders are to bring him to the master."
Percy sucked in his breath as two death eaters entered the room. "Great, no wand. You're in deep shit Percy!" He had no weapons at his disposal and doubted that his captors would be so kind to provide him with one.
"Move, Weasley. Don't do anything stupid and you will get to see your little wife again."
The words caused Percy to pale slightly. He had hoped that they didn't have Penny. She had been the sole support during his estrangement from his family - his pillar of strength. When it had turned out that Fudge had been wrong and the Dark Lord had in fact returned, Percy had been ready to crawl back to his family and beg for their forgiveness. Penny had stopped him. She had persuaded him to wait until things had calmed a bit before attempting reconciliation. She had wanted to wait until their child was born. It made perfect sense in a way. She had encouraged him to join that dueling club. If he were able to get his hand on a wand he would show these pitiful minions some real dueling. He would protect his wife and child. He still recalled the night he made an unbreakable vow to do everything in his power to protect the child.
He walked down a hallway with his death eater escort. They gestured towards a room and instructed him to enter. Inside was a dining room with three place settings. He saw Penny standing looking out a window. He rushed to her and gathered his wife into a strong embrace.
"Penny! Are you okay? Have they been mistreating you? We will need to watch for our chance to make an escape. No matter what, I will get you and our baby out of here."
The opposite door opened Lord Voldemort walked into the room. "Such noble sentiments, young Percival. You Gryffindors are so predictable."
Percy recovered quickly hissing, "What do you want?"
"My, my! Not much fear. Or at least, you rise to defend your mate. Primal instincts to protect your wife and child are very powerful motivations. I shall humor you Percy Weasley. What I want is your participation in a ritual. It is a very dark ritual and quite dangerous for the both of us. I admit it is much more dangerous for you than I, but I must be concerned for my welfare as well."
"Never! I will not help you!"
"Then I am afraid I will simply have to kill dear Penelope and your unborn." Penny gasped clutching Percy's arm.
"If you cooperate, I may be inclined to spare them. In fact for your cooperation, I would be willing to give a Wizard's oath that neither I nor any of my followers will willingly harm your wife or child except in self-defense. I can't give young Penelope carte blanche to attack me now can I?"
"Percy. You can't!" Penny gasped. "Don't even think about it!"
"Love, I swore I would do anything to protect you and the baby. If this is the cost to ensure your and our babies survival, what kind of husband would I be to not do everything in my power." He said holding her close and kissing her forehead. "Very well. On my life and magic, I will participate in your ritual, provided you swear an Oath preventing harm to my wife and unborn child." He said feeling the tingle of magic through his body.
"Well spoken, my brave lad. On my life and magic, I will not harm nor direct harm to come to Penelope Clearwater-Weasley or her child. Myself and my followers may only defend ourselves if need be." Voldemort said triggering an unmistakable aura around him. "There, now that the formalities are through with, perhaps you and your lovely wife would be interested in a fine meal?" He asked looking him over with his narrowed red eyes.
Percy cautiously pulled a chair out for his wife and after seating her, he joined her at the dining table. Lord Voldemort smiled and sat in his chair. Instantly, the dishes in front of them filled with roast mutton and steamed vegetables. A bottle of wine uncorked itself and poured a glass for each of them. Percy waited until the Voldemort tasted the wine.
"Oh please Percy! Do you think I would waste my time with an oath if I were going to poison you? Perhaps I am giving you too much credit."
Percy glared at him defiantly and drank from his wineglass. Reluctantly, he admitted that it was an excellent vintage.
"So what do I need to know of this ritual?"
"Oh, no small talk then. I had hoped we could discuss how the ministry was coping with recent events, but alas I guess not. Very well, then. How are you at Arithmancy?"
"Quite good, actually. Full marks!"
"Ah yes. I should expect nothing less. First a bit of background, did you know that you and I were both born on July 7th? The seventh day of the seventh month how profound is it not? I had to make some adjustments for the time spent only somewhat in this realm. But the result after adjustments to the equation is that you and I are separated by forty-nine years, which is of course seven multiplied by seven. Arithmetically, that in itself is significant."
Percy listened, but was unable to grasp his meaning, "Interesting facts and wonderful trivia, but I fail to see your point."
"Still defiant, eh? Normally, I would pause a moment to teach you to hold your tongue with pain the likes of which you could not fathom, but I see no reason to foolishly harm what you have to offer me."
"And just what pray do tell am I offering as part of your foul ritual?"
"Oh, not much, simply your magical core. I will rip it from your body and merge it with my own to repair the damage that had been done to it. I had hoped to wait until next year when you were 21 or three times seven years to further improve my percentages, but alas the recent events have caused me to play my hand earlier than I had hoped. It will be painful for the both of us, again you more so than I. It will in all likelihood kill you outright, but there is a slim possibility that you could live as a squib. There is even a miniscule chance that the magical backlash will kill me as well."
"One can only hope," Percy muttered hoping the powers that be could hear his unspoken plea.
"Ah yes, but the risks outweigh the rewards. Part of this journey to power that I am on, requires that I be bold, when the opportunity arises. Carpe diem - Seize the day!"
As they continued the meal, something began to bother Percy. Something other than the fact the Dark Lord wanted to rip his magic from him in some vile ritual. Penelope was far to calm. Initially he thought she was in shock from encountering Voldemort (might as well think it if he is going to him), but she seemed to be merrily working her way through dinner, even replying politely when Voldemort asked how her pregnancy was coming along.
"Penny, my dear, why do I feel that I am not privy to something." He glared at the woman, who had been his one constant during the last year and a half. He scowled as Voldemort laughed.
"Oh please, do tell him Penelope. The oaths have already been said, there is no backing out. The boy deserves the truth and I can use the entertainment."
"Very well, godfather."
"Yes Percy. He is my Godfather." Penny said dabbing her chin with her napkin.
"But how? You're muggleborn! This can't be!"
"Do you remember the summer after our sixth year, when I interned for the Ministry? I know we were on a break from each other back then. I was assigned to the birthing records office. On a whim I looked up my name and what do I find, but an entry that says Antonin Dolohov is my real father. You could well imagine my shock."
Percy wanted to say something, but found he could only move his mouth making not a sound.
"It took me several months to track him down and arrange a visit to Azkaban, but I won my daddy over. Father introduced me to his master and asked him to be my godparent." There was a gleam in her eyes he had never seen before. There was a sinking feeling in his gut that; the woman he slept beside every night had used him.
"Using my access, I was able to give father the information he needed to give to Godfather. He needed to know the names of children born on specific dates. Low and behold, my ex-boyfriend fit the bill to a tee. I still had to get back together with you, but as you well know I am very good at getting what I want. With you back in my life, I needed to get your oath and help you develop your magical core."
"Well done on both counts." Voldemort said refilling his wineglass and admiring the color in the light.
Percy stuttered. "Then th-then this was all a lie. The marriage! Our- Our love! Everything?"
"Oh dear no, silly. We really are married and you have been a model husband. I have been very pleased with you. I have been particularly pleased with all your hard work at the dueling club. Your magical core has become so much stronger."
"So that is what all about! Fatten the pig for a slaughter! Make me strong as an offering for him!" His eyes tried to burn a hole through her.
"You were most cooperative by distancing yourself from your family. They could have been a significant problem." She gave him a dazzling smile.
"Only because I listened to you! Even if you do have a Death Eater for a father, you are still a halfblood. How do you expect to fit in to the pureblood society?"
"I will handle this one my dear. Percy, would you be surprised to learn that I am a halfblood. This pureblood agenda is useful to me as keeping you working hard and estranged from your family was to Penny. Individuals and groups alike can be controlled so easily if you have the proper motivation. In fact, show me ten random 'purebloods' and I will show you five who are correct, three who think they are correct, but do not know about skeletons in their lineage and two that are lying outright. Actually, I suspect, but do not have the data to support my theories, that there are far less muggleborns and many more halfbloods. I for one know my followers like to indulge in a bit of entertainment with the locals. A little Imperio here and a bit of oblivation there. I wouldn't be too shocked to learn how many illegitimate children are walking the halls of Hogwart's this year. Well, enough of the pleasantries, since you are oathbound to prevent harm to your wife or child, I will give you the next hour to say your goodbye. Then, I am afraid I will have to consume your magic, but look at it this way, what young wizard doesn't dream of their magic conquering all? In this case your magic will help, sadly you just won't be there to see it."
Harry had to get up the pain in his head could be felt all the way down to his shoulders. He only had nightmarish bits and pieces from his most recent vision. He could only hear disembodied voices and sense waves of nausea mixed with pain. Feeling absolutely wretched, he staggered past the worried looks of his roommates to the bathroom. There he vomited until his stomach contained no more and dry heaved a good minute more after that. The other bedroom doors had opened and both Hannah and Susan could be seen in their doorway. From the floor above Hermoine and Ginny were descending the steps.
Hermoine shot a look down to Ron who stood out in the hallway. "Is he okay, Ron?"
The youngest Weasley male shook his head slowly from side to side. "Whatever it was, it must have been pretty bad. I haven't seen it get to him like that in a long time."
Ron entered the bathroom and grabbed a washcloth. Wetting it, he helped his best friend clean himself off. Despite it being rather warm, Harry's arm had goosebumps on it and he shivered noticeably. Harry nodded wearily to Ron, while wiping the last vestiges of vomit from his chin.
"Kevin, you and Neville go on back to bed. The rest of you, the show is over. Harry will be fine. Just give him some space." Ron said in his best drill sergeant voice showing his experience of years of practice dealing with the aftermath of Harry's numerous visions.
Harry caught Susan's eye before she closed the door. He gave her a very faint smile of reassurance as he leaned slightly on Ron to steady himself. She nodded back before closing the bedroom door. Hermoine had finished coming down the steps and gathered Harry into a hug. The only noticeable sign of discomfort on her part was a slight wrinkling of her nose at the lingering stench.
"We should take you down to the kitchen and let the guard know what is going on." She said with sympathy instead of the usual bossiness she was known for. "I am here for you if you want to talk about it."
He felt Ginny's feather light touch on his forearm. "We are all here for you Harry. Don't forget that." With that, she flashed a smile at him and turned to head back upstairs.
Ron chuckled, "That's right mate! Can't scare us away even if you have flobberworm breath. Come on. I'll take you down and grab you a glass of milk to get rid of the taste." He said extracting Hermoine from Harry and leading him down to the kitchen. In Harry's slightly disoriented state he did not notice the slight squeeze Ron gave Hermoine on the shoulder before shooing her back up the stairs.
When they reached the kitchen, Harry sat at the table and Ron grabbed two cups and poured some milk from the chillbox. Charlie was on guard this evening and he looked on with a bit of concern.
"Do you need me to floo for someone Harry? Sounded like you had a rough go of it."
Harry looked at the clock on the wall as he sipped the milk. It was quarter to three. He concentrated on his thoughts trying to assemble them into something coherent that he could explain. After a minute of pure concentration, he relented and shook his head no.
"No if I could remember something more from it, then I would say yes, but right now all I can say is that I heard some voices, felt a lot of pain and got sick. If Dumbledore checks in with you, tell him, but if not wait for morning. No sense in ruining more people's night sleep."
Ron had finished his glass and put it back into the sink. He walked over and patted Harry's shoulder. "Do you want me to stay up with you?" Harry's answer was pretty much a foregone conclusion.
"No go on back up. I will stay down here with Charlie for a bit. Could you toss that book on my nightstand down to me? I can do a bit of reading before breakfast."
True to his word, Ron tossed the Auror training manual down to him. Harry opened to the section on shielding strategies and started to read. Charlie was happy enough for the company on what had been up to now a very long shift. They made small talk for about thirty minutes.
"Are you nervous about tomorrow?" Charlie asked.
"No, just not really looking forward to hearing Sirus's will be read. It feels like once they read it, that it is over. He is not coming back. It's so final! Susan is taking it pretty hard over her mother and aunt. She has to hear their wills tomorrow. I just don't want everyone to be ignoring her while they are busy trying to cheer me up."
"I understand Harry. Last time around I was just a kid - only about eight years old. I couldn't understand the war. I asked Mom when I was going to get to see Uncle Gideon again and she just started bawling. The few times I have been around a dementor, I hear her crying like that."
Harry nodded respectfully. Most wizards and witches were lucky enough never to be around such creatures. Those that are not so lucky will rarely mention it. An even smaller percentage will actually mention what they hear or felt during an encounter. For the dragon handler to just casually mention it in conversation with him implied a great trust in that Harry would never use that information. It ranked up right up there with telling people what shape your boggart took. To some it was even more private, because people can see the form of a boggart; they cannot hear or feel the silent terror that rends your soul.
"I hear my mother's last words before Voldemort killed her."
Charlie grimaced at Harry's revelation. "In that case, if you ever get the bastard in your wand arc, don't hesitate. Don't feel any remorse. Don't wonder if there is any good left in him. Finish him. Every once in a while at the reserve, we get a dragon that goes rogue. It's never a pretty sight. You've seen one close up to know how terrifyingly powerful one is. When that happens, we ride out at least eight to a group and we don't hold back. One way or another it gets put down. Same deal, Harry. Put him down like a wild animal. If Hagrid was here he would tell you the same thing."
"You're right. I hope Hagrid is okay. I know he is trying to marshal support in the giant community. That's a tough job for anyone."
"Well if he is smart, he will let Olympe do all the talking and he will protect her. Why don't you go back up to sleep? You will need to be well rested for today."
Harry nodded and clasped hands with the stocky member of the Weasley clan. He turned to start upstairs when something on the floor caught his eye. On the ground directly in front of the Weasley family clock was a black hand. Harry sucked his breath in as he grabbed it from the ground and showed Charlie. Both quickly scanned the face and after a moment turned to look at one another.
"Shit! Percy!" Charlie muttered.
"Should we wake everyone?" Harry asked.
"No. Today will be bad enough as it is. Mom, Dad, Ron and Ginny deserve a chance to rest. Waking them up right now won't change a bloody thing! I will wait until five or six to floo call Bill and the twins. I hope they can get here before Mom gets up."
Charlie sat back down at the table looking as if he wanted to hit it hard, but not wanting to make noise. He stared at the wall for a minute or was it five. When he finally shook himself out of his stupor, he noticed Harry sitting back at the table reading from his book.
"You really should go up and lie down."
"No chance. I didn't get along with him, but he was a Weasley and every single one of you has pretty much adopted me. You don't need to be down here by yourself."
Charlie smiled at Harry and was impressed. In front of him sat an almost sixteen year old with for all intents and purpose, a price on his head. Charlie had heard him screaming and spewing his guts upstairs during the vision of what were most likely Percy's final moments. It was at that moment that he realized the true meaning of having Harry Potter as your friend and pseudo brother.
"Since I didn't know him that well, why don't you tell me some of the good stories about Percy to pass the time. Sirus told me his motto about death once. 'Remember the good. Forget the bad. Sell everything not nailed down!' It seems a bit late, but tell me about our brother."
Author's notes - Sorry I skipped a week. Real life has a way of interfering with my writing time. I will probably drop to writing a chapter every 2 weeks from now on. Hopefully the quality will rise even if the quantity is reduced. People never seem to mind when Percy gets whacked. Why is that?
Okay this chapter's potterverse pet peeves are:
1) Recreational activities for teenage wizards and witches seem to be limited to quiditch, gobstones, losing to Ron at chess (How come there are never scenes of Dean or Hermoine playing chess 85% of all chess scenes involve Ron - the rest seem to involve Harry/Ron having a hard time playing against female love interest and getting yelled at by their chess pieces.), reading, writing poetry, painting, truth or dare, and snogging. You would think that having magic would offer even more not less in the way of entertainment. After all parents could quite literally make their children's toys. It almost is like "Little Wizard's House on the Prairie"! Come on you author's use some imagination out there! How come nobody has a garage band? Isn't there another sport that can be played on a broom? Aren't there any other sports teams at Hogwart's at all? Thus I had the Turpin's charm some of the more famous boardgames. (I of course don't own Clue - The Hogwart's edition. If they made it wouldn't it be cool though! Or a version of monopoly based on Diagon Alley just a thought.) The point I am trying to get across is if you want more believable characters give them hobbies and external interests.
2) Penelope Clearwater is always the salvation of Percy Weasley. How many ambitious and talented young men have been turned away from their families by the whisperings of a seductive woman? Heck, there are so many stories out there where Ginny or Hermoine suddenly turn evil. I thought it was high time that Penelope gets a little Death Eater love. Making her Dolohov's illegitimate daughter was just a bonus.
3) Why can't the death eaters have a version of the Marauder's map? Wouldn't that be rather useful when protecting your headquarters?