Tom prepares to deal with another horcrux as well as Sirius and Bellatrix, but an interruption prevents things.
Chapter Seven: Welcome to the Gaunt Shack.
Tom settled back into a chair inside of the Gaunt Shack. The place was filled with the remnants of dark magic. He felt right at home. In his hands a small ring reflected the flickering light of a fire. He could feel the pull of the horcrux, of another piece of the Originals soul, whispering its want, its need to be freed and reunited, to become whole again.
Much like with the diadem, its magical effect sapped at his mental restraints, lowering them. He was sorely tempted to slip the ring onto his left hand, but fought it off. Carefully placing the object onto a summoned table beside him, Tom stood up.
"For now you will rest here, brother of my soul. I will return in due time to finish you. For now I have more pressing matters to attend to..." he trailed off, dark emerald eyes lingering on it longer than he would normally prefer, but at last pulled away.
Stepping from the table he swiftly made his way out of the bleak living room and into the kitchen where two people were currently tied up. One was Sirius Black. The other, Bellatrix LeStrange. Tom slipped his wand down into his hand as he looked the duo over.
"For three years, we were cellmates. It is ironic that the public have labeled you a Death Eater, Black, when it was your dear brother Regulus whom I once held under my command." he said softly, pausing just inside the doorway. Sirius bristled and struggled against his bonds. Turning away Tom looked at Bellatrix with all hints of amusement at taunting Sirius vanishing.
His eyes became colder, more unforgiving again. "And my dearest Bella..." he paused. "Apparently you have lost your respect for your master." he stated in a soft tone. "Were it not for cousin Black, my hosts body would have been violated long before this point." he stepped inside and cut off the ropes binding her form.
Bella quickly got onto her knees, groveling for forgiveness. Tom denied her this. "Many punishments would fit your actions. But I have one in mind that should serve you well." he leaned down and grabbed a fist full of her hair, dragging her up. He severed the bindings on Sirius as well a moment later.
"You have earned your right to this choice, Black, many times over. Take the Dark Mark and join my cause or die. I do not wish to waste the obvious talent you squandered fighting for Dumbledore!" he spat the elder wizards name in annoyance.
Sirius looked up at Toms body, recognizing the scar and eyes as being Harrys, but knowing this was Voldemort. It left him torn. "Is... does... Harry live... at all?" he demanded, slowly and weakly pushing up onto his feet, having to use the stove at his back for support.
Tom considered it. "His body has become one with my own. And I have taken much of his soul into my own in the process. However," he paused and raised a hand to the scar on his forehead, tapping it lightly with one finger. "There still resides a fragment of the boy in my essence." he finished.
"While I live, as does Potter. But make no mistake, Black, his existence is one of constant misery... as was my own for nearly ten years. Now make your choice." he demanded.
Sirius shoulders slumped. He had no choice in this matter: if he died now he could rejoin James, and Lily. But he had to get news of this to Dumbledore.. if the old man would even believe him. Tom smiled, seeing the decision in Sirius eyes. He raised his wand.
Dumbledore appeared just outside of Little Hangleton as the portkey completed its task and dropped to the ground as a useless boot. Dumbledore crouched down low as he tugged a certain invisibility cloak out of a pocket, just in case anyone had seen him. With the item thrown over his body, fully concealing him in the process, he drew his wand and softly approached the Gaunt Shack.
For three years now he had been putting more effort into figuring out the mystery behind Voldemorts continued existence upon the mortal coil, his survival when by all rights he should have been dead.
The few questions he had been able to drag from the body Voldemort had taken over, of the poor Potter child, had not done much to help. Despite veritaserum, apparently some kind of whispered command from Quirrel only a few moments later had him answering in the language of the snakes, Parseltongue.
It has been a long and painstaking journey leading up to this night, this moment. And even now he was still having doubts that even Voldemort would dare tear his soul so many times.
But all troubled thoughts he had were put aside as an agonized scream rent the air, trailing off abruptly. Dumbledore picked up his pace, rich plume colored robes swaying with every movement. He stopped before the doorway and began feeling for the magical signatures left behind by traps.
Nothing armed the door, and with a swift alohamora he pushed it open and stepped inside. The door swung open wide with a creak, and for several moments he waited. Suddenly he felt wards arising around him. 'Anti-apparation and anti-portkey.' he assumed, stepping out of the doorway and to the side to avoid any direct spells that might be aimed for the front door.
As such he did not notice that the wards were not anti-apparation or anti-portkey until he had triggered the first trap by stepping before a rather ugly and derelict cobra statue. A sudden bolt of green light shot from the cobras open mouth, forcing Dumbledore to raise a hasty protego to deflect it. To his surprise it sank right into his shield and vanished.
Two more bolts of light shot from other snake statues around the room, and Dumbledore kept his shield up, half-expecting it to falter or react to the bolts. The first sank into the protego with no ill-effects, but the second passed right through as though it wasn't there.
It grazed Dumbledores left hand as he drew back and away from it, burning through his flesh like acid. With a murmured diagonistics spell the former headmaster grimaced and raised his wand, forcing out the necessary spell, "Diffindo!" Just beneath the wrist bone and flesh severed, breaking the cursed poison starting to work its way through his hand towards the rest of the body.
It dropped to the floor with a splat, allowing blood to ooze out, while his wrist gushed with the fluid of life. Dumbledores teeth ground against one another as he murmured another spell through the haze of pain, pressing his wand just against the wound.
On contact silver fluid seemed to be emitted, rushing out of his wand tip and not only sealing the wound, but forming an entirely new hand. When the process completed itself mere seconds later, Dumbledore chose not to take the time to properly ensure his new hand was in working order.
He had far more dire problems to deal with as a ring of fire erupted along the walls around him.
Sirius clutched at his left arm in agony, feeling sick with himself. He had taken the branding. Perhaps Azkaban had unsettled him more than he would like to believe, or perhaps he believed it might be possible to save Harrys soul if he could only live long enough to let Dumbledore know about it.
The knowledge that flowed out brokenly from seventy years of nightmarish rituals and acts gave Sirius a small insight into things that could be helpful.
Of course, things hadn't been so pleasant for him or Bellatrix during their time with him. After the Dementor incident they were on guard with a permanent six pack surrounding the cell. He doubted he would be sane enough to know how fucked up all of this was if not for his Animagus form.
Maybe that was why Bellatrix has become obsessed with getting a piece of potter as the months went by? It didn't really matter to him right now. The burning pain was terrible on his arm.
Above him, Tom lowered his wand and placed it to Bellatrixs neck. "You wished to violate my form so, Bella, and now I will return the favor." With a soft command the Imperious was placed onto her, so strongly he wondered if perhaps it would have been better to give her a little will to resist.
After all, what he planned to do would be most enjoyable to see her struggle against. Readjusting his aim he placed Black under the Imperious as well, and forced him into his giant dog form. "You know what to do, Bella." Tom ordered. She dropped to her hands and knees and tugged at her robes, prying them off as she approaching her animagus cousin.
Toms vicious smile at making her do this faded abruptly at the creaking of a door, to be precise the front door. He disillusioned himself and approached the doorway, whispering in parseltongue to the sleeping wards waiting to be awoken again.
'I can not see you, but nor can you see I, Dumbledore. Only you would dare come here. My loyal servants know to report to the Riddle House.' he thought dismissively. He waited and watched as Dumbledore triggered the first trap. It vanished in mid air.
'Now I know where you are, but let us see if you will be foolish enough to keep the same shield, Dumbledore.' another trap and two more bolts. The first vanished a little further as did the second, but he heard a disgusting splat sound shortly following. 'A shame. He recognized the poison.' turning away Tom casually aimed his wand behind him and activated the ward he had only just added this night.
Fiendfyre erupted to life from four predetermined walls taking the forms of various snakes, forming a ring around and trapping the former headmaster within the room.
Walking up to animagus and witch currently engaging in certain acts that would be most amusing to display to the rest of the Death Eaters, Tom summoned Bellas discarded robes and cast a Portus over them. As a brief blue outline came over them he dropped the item of clothing on top of the two and waited. Three seconds later they were whisked away.
Almost at the same moment a boom like thunder rocked the foundations of the decrepit house, sending Tom to the floor. Dust fell from its fifty year long resting place in the room as the wall directly behind Tom collapsed. With a scowl Tom rose to his feet, dust coating his previously hidden form.
Dumbledore had forgone the invisibility cloak for freedom of movement. His wand was swishing through the air in rapid movements as he chanted in a low dialect, repelling the fiendfyre attempting to engulf him. With a sudden sharp slashing motion another crack of thunder arose and shook the house, and this time the Tom was able to see what had just occurred.
The fiendfyre was crushed beneath a vortex of soundwaves that stole the oxygen it needed to burn and further smothering its heat with galeforce-wind vibrations.
Behind him two serpents made of fire launched at his seemingly unguarded backside as Dumbledores shoulders sagged in slight exhaustion, but he recovered in time to begin chanting once more, wand swishing through the air and forcing the fiendfyre away from his body.
He didn't seem to be aware of the dust covered form watching from the other room. Watching in intrigue Tom wondered silently how Dumbledore was doing this, but realized with a sudden start the old man might find the horcrux. With a soft "Accio Ring." it shot from the floor in front of the knocked over table through the air.
Dumbledores eyes caught it and he whipped his head around to see a dusty hand wrap around it and vanish with a crack of apparation.
Tom reappeared quite some distance away on the edge of Malfoy Manor. Still holding the ring tightly clasped in one hand, he tapped his wand to the front gates. For nearly several minutes he was kept waiting, before Narcissa approached with a drawn wand.
"Who dares disturb me at this time? Has Lucius sent you to explain why he suddenly vanished before dinner tonight in such a hurry?" she demanded in a haunty tone.
Tom frowned at her tone. "Remember your manners, Lady Malfoy. Lord Voldemort sends his regards for your husbands whereabouts." he said, inclining his head. Narcissa paled and stepped back unconsciously.
"Now open the gates and step aside. This manor shall serve as my headquarters until such a time as it is invaded or I have no more need of it. Now!" he hissed, losing his patience. Narcissa quickly tapped her wand in three points of the gates, then stepped aside with her head bowed obediently.
Tom narrowed his eyes but stepped forward. His body passed right through as though they were not there. Once on the other side he heard the actual gates snap shut again and lock, the illusion on the outside working just as it was intended.
Across wizarding Britain, numerous respected members of the community baring the Dark Mark shuddered. Whatever they had been up to at that time was pushed aside as they reached for their wands and apparated to the point where the mark had called.
Many of them were surprised to find themselves landing outside of Malfoy Manor. A couple of free Death Eaters did not heed their masters call, however, and of course the ones in Azkaban were unable to do so, though they cried out triumphantly at the burn. The headmaster of the not-so respected Durmstrang school ignored the marks burning entirely, refusing to acknowledge the fear that it inspired in his heart.
Severus Snape and Peter Petigrew likewise failed to turn up.