Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Dark Lord Rising

Chapter 21: Plans and Answers.

by AndrewsQuill 0 Reviews

Voldemort sets up camp and begins putting his plans into motion. Harry tells everyone about the details of the graveyard.

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama,Romance - Characters: Harry,Hermione - Warnings: [!!!] [V] - Published: 2009/05/18 - Updated: 2009/05/19 - 6815 words

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While Harry and Hermione were just sitting down to discuss the evening’s events and their marriage; Voldemort was arranging a different type of meeting.

He was sitting in an abandoned home, on the outskirts of Godric’s Hollow. The house was a modest home that had seen better days. There was a layer of dust covering everything. The remaining furniture was covered in sheets that had long since faded from their original white, leaving everything with a grayish, yellowing tint.

Focusing on his connection to his servants, Voldemort summoned Lucius Malfoy and Severus Snape to his presence. He wanted an update from Malfoy and a private word with his wayward spy, Severus.

Fifteen minutes later, there was a faint popping noise from the back yard. A few seconds later, a very regal looking Lucius Malfoy entered the room and Voldemort gestured for him to take a seat. He knew that Lucius would arrive first due to Severus being under the watchful eye of Dumbledore.

Lucius looked around at the interior of the house and mentally scoffed. He felt it was below his station, and his lords, to be here. Pulling out his wand, he removed the furniture cover and cleaned his chair with a quick flick of his wrist. Satisfied that the chair was now clean, he sat down and said, “Greetings, sir. How can I serve you?”

Voldemort focused his unflinching gaze on one of his most trusted servants, looking for any sense of betrayal. Sensing none, he said in his low, hissing voice, “Lucius, were you able to set up a meeting with Fudge for tomorrow?”

“I did, Milord. Is there something specific that you would like me to discuss?” he asked curiously.

Leaning slightly forward in his chair, Voldemort replied, “There is. I want you to put forth the suggestion that you have heard that Dumbledore is quietly making a power play at the Ministry with the goal of taking the job of Minister as his goal. Fudge is gullible enough that he will buy that and begin taking steps to make Dumbledore look like an incompetent.”

Lucius nodded his head in understanding as he thought over his Master’s plan. Finding no obvious flaws, he asked in his aristocratic drawl, “Is there anything you want done about Sirius Black? I have a few ideas that will make it almost impossible for him ever be declared innocent.”

He paused to wait for Voldemort’s nod of acknowledgement of understanding before continuing to speak, “I think that we should leak the details of Black’s escape to the press. Severus’ was smart enough to visit the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and fill out a report stating that Black had Confunded Potter, Lupin, the Mudblood Granger, and the Blood Traitor Weasley boy. That calls into question any testimony that they could give about Pettigrew being alive and without a body there is no way that they could free him.”

Voldemort nodded in agreement before speaking, “Excellent, make sure you keep an eye out while you are there. I left the prophecy in the Hall of Prophecies in order to draw the boy, and hopefully Black, out into the open. Keep your eyes open for any sign of them trying to obtain the prophecy. If you see Black, kill him and summon the Aurors.”

Rising from his seat, Lucius gave his master a bow as he said, “As you command, Milord.” He strode from the small house and Apparated back to his manor to go over the finer details for tomorrow’s meeting.

Severus Snape was having a bad day. The stinking Potter boy had won the Triwizard Tournament and then his Dark Mark flared black when the Dark Lord summoned him. It could only have been from the Dark Lord, the mark had been growing steadily darker all year.

Pulling up his left sleeve, he looked at the now black tattoo that was magically bound upon his arm and frowned. This was his second summons of the evening. To delay longer would certainly mean a painful reunion. Getting up stiffly from his chair, he stepped over to the Headmaster and whispered into his ear, “I am being summoned again, if I do not go, my position as your spy will be lost, and my life forfeit.”

Albus didn’t even look over at his spy, he just nodded his head while mumbling softly, “Be careful, Severus.” It wasn’t lost on him that Severus had been called shortly after Harry Potter had left the Great Hall. Unable to leave the party just yet, he sighed and stepped over to speak with one of his admirers.

As soon as he reached the gates, Snape disappeared with a pop. He immediately took in his surroundings; he was much more vigilant since being attacked by Black, before opening the door in front of him and stepping inside the small house.

Once his eyes adjusted to the dim lighting, he saw a very alive, and healthy, Voldemort sitting in a chair looking directly at him. Quickly going down on one knee, he said reverently, “It is good to see you, Milord. How may I be of assistance?”

Voldemort was watching Severus carefully. The man moved stiffly, as if recovering from injuries. He did not get any sense of emotion though; he knew that his spy was a very accomplished Occlumens. His voice was low, full of the promise of pain, when he finally spoke after a few minutes, “Rise, Severus. I see that you were finally able to get away from Dumbledore, or were you hoping that I would forget to call you?” His gaze never left Severus’ face. He was searching for the tiniest flicker of betrayal.

Keeping his Occlumency Shields up, Snape said pleadingly, “Never, Milord. I was biding my time so that Dumbledore knew that I had ignored your first summons. He thinks that he let me return to you so that I may report back to him with the details of your plans.”

Snape was studying the Dark Lord’s appearance. He looked slightly different than he did thirteen years ago. The damage some of the dark rituals that his master had undergone seemed to be gone. Whatever method that Voldemort had used to return to his body had worked wonderfully.

Cautiously, Severus quietly spoke, “Milord, what happened? How did you manage to return to us?”

His eyes narrowed slightly at the question, there were only a few people that knew what he had done to return to a body. Voldemort was certain that Dumbledore would figure it out quickly once he got the details from Harry Potter.

Throwing his servant a bone, his sibilant voice rang out, “I used a dark ritual to regain my body. Now, I have a task for you that I think you will find most enjoyable. I want you to kill Sirius Black. He will be showing up at the Department of Mysteries to get into the Hall of Prophecy with Harry Potter sometime after school is finished, I’m sure of it. Do not harm the boy unless you have no other choice, the werewolf and anyone else with them is expendable.”

Severus had mixed feelings about this assignment. He knew that it would forever change his relationship with one of his two masters depending upon his success or failure. His desire to see Black dead was great and his voice was laced with appreciation when he spoke, “Thank you, Milord. I will enjoy completing this assignment. May I have some of the other’s assist me?”

“Only use our brethren that are currently employed at the ministry, or an Imperioused employee. We don’t want to arouse too much suspicion about our activities.” The Dark Lord replied in his low, hissing, voice.

Pausing in thought, Voldemort was trying to decide what to do about Dumbledore. Coming to a decision, he said, “Tell Dumbledore that I am seeking the complete prophecy and searching for Harry Potter. I want him focused on multiple things to stretch his forces while we take care of other matters.”

Snape had a small smile playing across his lips in anticipation as he replied, “I will see to it at once, sir. Is there anything else that you require from me?”

Voldemort looked into the face of his spy and said, “Yes, write down a list of all of the members of the Order of the Phoenix that you can remember before you go.” When he received the list from his servant, he hissed out, “Do not come to the main summoning until you leave Hogwarts for the summer. If I call you separately, then do your best to seek me out.”

He kept his voice controlled, his low silky tone returning, “Of course, master. I await your summons.” Receiving a hand gesture of dismissal from the Dark Lord, Snape rose from his seat and silently swept from the house before Apparating back to the gates of Hogwarts.

Slowly, concentrating on the magic in the house, Voldemort stood up and began looking around for anything that could be of use to him. There was some magical residue in one of the rear bedrooms but in the basement, it was almost overwhelming. Deciding to start with the basement first, he carefully headed down there, his magical senses stretched to their maximum.

Stepping fully into the musty basement, Voldemort took stock of his surroundings. There were scorch marks all over the room indicating a duel had taken place. It was the wild magic in the air that surprised him. Something terrible must have happened to release that much of it from one person. Walking the perimeter of the room, he stopped when he came to the spot where the wild magic had been released. Looking closely at the floor, he saw the old blood stain that indicated where the person had probably died. The question was, ‘Who was it that died and how?’

After carefully searching the basement, he found nothing else of value so he headed up to the upstairs bedroom where he felt the touch of magic before. The bedroom was a modest size, something suitable for the first-born child, but not opulent. There was a small desk beneath the window that looked like it had seen a lot of use. The double bed was tucked into the corner next to a nightstand and a bookcase that still held quite a few titles, many of them from the late eighteen hundreds.

Perusing the titles of the books, Voldemort noticed that one of them had a piece of parchment sticking out of the pages. He waved his wand over the bookcase to check for spells, finding none; he plucked the book free and opened it to the page with the parchment sticking out. The book was nothing special; he had read it himself during his Hogwarts years.

The parchment piqued his interest. It was a missive between two people that had great affection for each other. Quickly re-reading the note, he picked up small details that he had missed in his initial perusal. Gleefully, he thought, ‘I always wondered and here is the proof I need.’ Pocketing the letter, Voldemort began to search the room in earnest for any other small tidbit that could help his cause.

He would ward the house with everything short of the Fidelius Charm before he retired for the evening. However, he had an important neighbor to visit before he turned in.

In London, John Granger was still sitting on the love seat in the library, shock plainly visible on his face. Every few minutes he would softly mutter, “Married?”

Annabelle sighed; she was having a hard time accepting that her daughter and Harry were married too. However, she knew that her husband was finding it much more difficult to accept. Fathers and daughters had that special relationship that was often very hard for men to let go as it changed into something new.

She was startled from her reverie when she heard the unmistakable sound of her daughter’s voice.

“Mum, Dad?” Hermione called out to her parents.

Annabelle answered automatically, “Up here, sweetie.”

Harry quirked an eyebrow at Hermione and mouthed, ‘Sweetie?’

Hermione growled at him in a low voice, “Don’t even think about it, buster.”

Chuckling, the two teens entered the room hand in hand. Harry looked over at Mr. and Mrs. Granger sitting on the love seat together and said, “Hello. Are you two okay?” when he noticed the look on Mr. Granger’s face.

Harry and Hermione were sitting together in one of the overstuffed chairs in the library while Sirius and Remus occupied the other couch. The coffee table was between them and a light tea service had been set out by the elves.

Deciding that someone had to start, Annabelle spoke first, her voice was soft and reassuring, “We aren’t angry, just confused about how you two ended up married. Would you rather talk about that or about what happened tonight first?”

Harry could feel Hermione’s apprehension through their bond. Wanting to ease her mind, he calmly said, “Why don’t we start with what happened this evening. It is all interconnected but Voldemort is the bigger issue.”

He paused to gather his thoughts and to look at everyone in the room before continuing, “As you already know, Voldemort regained a body this evening using some bones, Wormtail’s hand, and my blood.” Turning to Remus, Harry asked, “Do you know what ritual he used?”

Remus was worried how Harry would react upon learning that he now had his own version of a Horcrux. He kept his voice as calm as possible when he spoke, “There are a couple of dark rituals that he could have used to regain a body. It sounds like he needed your blood to complete the ritual and to forge a deeper connection with you. You mentioned that your connection changed. What did you do to modify the ritual?”

Harry was trying to recall his exact words in the graveyard; his voice was a whisper as he focused on his memories, “The ritual called for ‘Blood of the enemy, forcibly taken.’ I changed it by giving my blood willingly. When Wormtail dropped my blood into the cauldron, there was a pulling sensation from my scar. I concentrated and snapped the dark tendrils of magic surrounding it. Before I passed out, I felt something leave my scar and now my connection to Hermione is much clearer.”

“Well,” Remus said pensively, “that would explain why your connection is different now.” He wanted to talk with the other adults before springing the Horcrux upon Harry and Hermione.

Finally, Sirius spoke up, his voice full of curiosity, “Harry, how did you escape? I know that they must have tied you up to get your blood.”

Harry looked over at everyone present, with a small smile playing at the corner of his mouth. He turned to Hermione and squeezed her hands while pushing his feelings of love towards her. Softly, he whispered to her, “Don’t be afraid, I love you.”

Releasing her hands, he stepped into the center of the room and transformed.

Visceral reactions are very hard to suppress. When Harry transformed, Annabelle screamed, John pulled his wife behind him, Remus scrambled to his feet, and Sirius almost toppled from his chair in fright. Hermione was the only one that didn’t react. Her trust in Harry was absolute and she just sat there studying his form.

Harry reared up the upper portion of his body while coiling the lower. He was still trying to figure out the different feeling of his Animagus form. Slow he slithered over to Hermione and put the upper half of his body across her knees.

Sirius had regained his wits about him and he mumbled, “Snakes, why did he have to be a snake?” He flopped down into his chair and kept his eyes on his godson in his Animagus form.

Hermione reached out and ran a finger down the center of the snake’s head and down its back. About two feet down his back, she reached something that surprised her. What she mistook for markings were actually a pair of wings wrapped tightly to his body. Puzzled, she spoke to the snake, “Harry! Did you know that you have a pair of wings?”

The sight of a three-meter snake whipping its head around in surprise was almost comical had it not been so fast. Sirius had started at the sudden movement while everyone else either flinched or just sat still.

Harry realized what felt different now. He knew he was larger, but the wings were a pleasant surprise. Slowly, he extended his wings and looked at them before folding them back up where they blended almost seamlessly against his scales. He wanted everyone to get a good look at his form so he slithered over to Remus next.

Remus knelt down to gaze into Harry’s eyes. The brilliant shade of green really stood out against the black scales, almost mesmerizing in their intensity. The wolf inside of him was howling, it could sense the predator in front of him but he firmly pushed the feeling away. Harry was family and he made the wolf understand that.

Tentatively, Remus asked, “May I touch your scales?”

Harry gave a nod yes, and slowly began slithering up into Remus’ lap.

The wolf was raging inside of him as Harry began coiling up in his lap. Its fight or flight response kicking in, however, Remus’ will was stronger. He now controlled the wolf inside of him and he was able to squash the impulse.

Turning his gaze to Hermione’s parents, he said, “It’s safe, you can come over and pet him. Just be mindful of the wings.” Looking down at Harry’s coiled form, he said, “You’re really heavy, Harry.” He started laughing when the snake’s head reared up to look directly into his eyes, with what could only be interpreted as a glare on its face.

In the different lighting, Remus was able to see other colors amongst the scales. Blue, black, red, green, and a very tiny hint of yellow were all present if you looked close enough in the right light. His natural coloring was just very dark and it hid the hints of the other colors. There was only one multi colored, winged, snake that he could think of but he wanted to confirm it in the library before he expressed his thoughts. Magical forms were very rare and Remus wanted to be absolutely positive before he informed everyone.

Cautiously, Annabelle and John came over to get a closer look at Harry in his Animagus form that was now partially draped across Remus’ shoulders.

John had always found snakes fascinating and seeing a magical one up close appealed to his inner child. He moved slowly, not knowing how Harry would react to fast movements, and reached a hand out to touch the scales. Puzzled, he said aloud, “Why is he warm and not cold like most snakes?”

Sirius spoke up from across the room, “I think it must be due to his being a magical form. Normally, you take on the attributes of your form. For example, in my dog form, I get the cold, wet nose that is characteristic of my species.”

With a smirk on his lips and a smile on his face, Remus said, “Why don’t you come over and get a closer look at Harry, Sirius?”

Sirius’ voice broke into a high squeak, as he replied, “No thanks. I’m fine right where I am.”

Remus smiled and explained to everyone, “Sirius is afraid of snakes.”

In a pleading tone, Sirius yelped, “Remus!”

That was all that Harry needed to hear. Slowly, he lowered himself to the floor and began slithering towards his godfather. If a snake could have laughed, he would have been chuckling as he advanced on the rapidly backpedaling form of Sirius Black.

Sirius was pressed against the back of the couch firmly, looking for any way out of this predicament. He took his eyes off Harry and that was his mistake. In that split second, Harry had slithered up Sirius’ legs and settled into his lap.

With a tremendous girly shriek, Sirius tossed Harry onto the other side of the couch and sprinted over to stand behind John and Annabelle.

Harry transformed back and lay on the couch laughing at the look on his godfather’s face. Getting his mirth under control, Harry said, “I’m sorry Sirius, I couldn’t resist. I didn’t think that you were afraid of anything.”

Drolly, Sirius said, “Ha, ha. Very funny.” Moving from his position of safety, he sat back down on the couch.

Harry had moved back next to Hermione and he was holding her hand again.

Hermione was bursting with questions but she wanted to get the rest of this over with before she started asking Harry things.

Remus had settled back into his seat and was gazing over at the two teens on the couch. In a serious tone, he said, “Do you think we can get back to what happened in that graveyard now?” He waited for everyone to settle back in before asking his next question, “What exactly happened when you arrived?”

Harry knew that they all needed to know so he resigned himself to telling them the actual events from earlier that evening. His voice drifted back into the low, well modulated, tone as he spoke, “When I arrived, Wormtail was carrying a small bundle in his arms that turned out to be Voldemort. He attacked my mind through our connection and while I was trying to fight through the pain, Wormtail disarmed and bound me.”

There were gasps from Hermione and her mother while Sirius was mumbling something unintelligible under his breath.

Ignoring their responses, Harry pressed on, “Voldemort and I ended up having a nice little chat while I was tied to a gravestone. He told me a few things that finally answer some of the questions that I have had since I learned that he killed my parents.”

Sirius, Remus, and Hermione all looked up sharply at his declaration. His voice was so low it was a whisper, “It seems that we are tied together by a prophecy that Dumbledore heard years ago. That is the reason that Voldemort tried to kill me.”

Frustrated and angry with Dumbledore, Harry snapped out, “He knew three years ago when I asked him why Voldemort targeted me but he wouldn’t answer! Is there a way for me to hear this prophecy without going to the headmaster?”

In a helpful tone, Remus supplied, “I think that there is a record kept somewhere in the Ministry of Magic. Perhaps we can ask Dora when she arrives after her shift is over.”

Hermione had begun rubbing Harry’s forearm to help sooth his anger. It was pouring through their bond and distracting her thoughts. She pushed her calm feelings and love through their connection in the hopes that it would calm him down so he could continue recounting his ordeal.

Harry turned his head and kissed Hermione’s brow in thanks. Finally calmed down, he resumed his tale, “I was so angry at Dumbledore that I missed the beginning of the ritual so I don’t know the exact words that were used when Wormtail put that bone in the cauldron with Voldemort.”

Sirius spoke up helpfully, “That’s alright, Harry. Dumbledore gave us enough of a hint to figure out the gist of the words. Please continue.”

Mollified, Harry resumed speaking in his even tone, “I began looking for ways to disrupt the ritual when Pettigrew sliced off his own hand into the cauldron. When he came over to get my blood forcibly, that was when I told him that I gave him my blood freely.”

Proudly, Hermione said, “That was really good thinking, Harry.”

Inwardly, Remus was worried and relieved at the same time. The altering of the ritual had definitely created a Horcrux for Harry and Harry’s efforts had helped to remove Voldemort’s Horcrux and sever their connection.

Pausing to take a sip of tea, Harry continued, “I passed out just after I got a good look at Voldemort as he stepped out of the cauldron in his new body.”

“When I awoke, Voldemort was busy torturing someone on the ground in front of him, and everyone had forgotten about me. While no one was looking, I transformed and slipped my bonds. Once I was free, I moved behind a large gravestone and hid in the shadows.”

He paused, trying to remember every little detail no matter how small because he knew it could be important, before continuing, “Peter Pettigrew had my wand so I knew that I needed it back in order to escape. When Wormtail realized that I was gone, he raised the alarm, and Voldemort sent everyone to look for me.”

Hermione had tightened her grip upon Harry’s hand unconsciously as he described his ordeal. When she felt Harry squeeze her hand slightly, she slacked her grip a bit and turned her attention back to his story.

Remus took advantage of the pause to ask a question, “Harry, do you remember the name of the grave stone that you were tied to? It could be very important to the ritual.”

Harry closed his eyes and concentrated on visualizing the memory, tentatively, he said, “I think it was Riddle, Sr., but I couldn’t see the first name.”

Hermione practically hopped in her seat upon hearing Harry’s answer, excitedly, she replied, “Harry, don’t you remember, you told me Voldemort’s real name was Tom Marvolo Riddle, that grave was probably a family members!”

Remus paled at Hermione’s explanation while Sirius, Annabelle, and John looked on confused.

Before anyone could do or say anything else, Harry pulled his wand out and repeated the example that Voldemort had given him two years ago. He wrote ‘Tom Marvolo Riddle’ in flaming letters and then swished his wand to rearrange them into reading ‘I am Lord Voldemort.’

Sirius was stunned; he had seen that name on a plaque in the trophy room at Hogwarts! Eagerly, he barked out, “He won a special services award to the school in the forties! I cleaned that trophy room enough times and I remember almost every name.”

Annabelle had noticed that Remus had gone pale when Harry had mentioned the name on the grave marker. Curiously, she asked, “Remus, what’s wrong?”

Remus inwardly cursed at his slip of control, his voice was calm when he replied, “I think I know which ritual Voldemort used to return to a body. Before you all start questioning me,” he forestalled them, “I want to return to the Black Library to review a few books to confirm my thoughts.”

John joined in the conversation with a very pointed question, “Do many people know that Voldemort’s true name is Tom Marvolo Riddle?”

Remus and Sirius were thinking furiously about anyone that might have known about Voldemort’s true identity. Before either of them could voice an opinion, Harry’s voice cut across the silence, “Dumbledore knows, and I think that Hagrid does too but I’m not sure about him. They went to school together before Riddle got Hagrid expelled for the Chamber of Secrets incident that killed a student fifty two years ago.”

The two best friends looked at each other in a grim fashion. Neither one of them was singing Dumbledore’s praises now.

A bell tolled downstairs and a few minutes later, Winky escorted Nymphadora Tonks into the room. She smiled and waved to everyone and sat on the sofa between Remus and Sirius. Dora noticed that everyone wore a gamut of expressions ranging from shock, to concern, and outright anger. Concerned, she asked, “Did I interrupt anything?”

Annabelle spoke up quickly to reassure her new friend, “No, Dora. We were just discussing some things about tonight’s events.”

Not surprised at their topic of conversation, Dora added, “Oh good, I just came from the ministry and it turns out they know that Sirius is an Animagus somehow. They added his description to the wanted posters with an artist’s rendering. I don’t know who tipped them off though.”

Resignedly, Sirius spoke up, “Well, there goes my disguise for spying and getting around town.”

John looked over at his friend and said, “Why does it matter? We could just change your hair color and use make up to get the desired effects. No magic would be involved so why would you be discovered if the disguise was good enough?”

Remus, Sirius, and Dora were all stumped; none of them had considered non-magical means of concealment to hide Sirius in plain sight.

Sirius smiled up over at John and said happily, “That’s great! Do either of you know how to apply that stuff?”

John turned to his wife briefly before looking back at Sirius and said, “Oh, I think that you are in for a treat. Annabelle is quite good with makeup. She used to make the most elaborate costumes for Hermione and herself.”

“That’s great! It would enable me to get to Gringotts undiscovered so I can straighten some things out.” Sirius replied.

Remus turned towards Dora and said, “We were just talking about the true identity of Voldemort. For some reason it isn’t common knowledge about his real identity. Do you think that you could help us there?”

Dora was excited and everyone could hear it in her voice, “I would love to. I can add it to his file quietly. Once we can prove that he is back they will reopen his file and find all of the new information.”

Annabelle piped up with another question, “Dora, why don’t you also create another file on Tom Marvolo Riddle, Voldemort’s real name, and tie some crimes to it? That way the law enforcement is looking for him but they won’t know it’s really Voldemort.”

Deciding that he could add to the discussion, Harry spoke up, “I know what disguise Voldemort is using as Tom Riddle.”

This statement brought the adult’s attention back to Harry. It was Remus that spoke up first, “What do you mean, disguise?”

Screwing up his courage, Harry replied, his voice low, “He doesn’t look human anymore. I saw him briefly before I passed out. When I saw him again later, he looked like an older version of the shade that I faced off against in the Chamber of Secrets two years ago.”

Dora almost fell off the couch she was so surprised, “Chamber of Secrets?” she blurted out.

Remus patted her on the knee and said comfortingly, “Don’t worry, Dora. Harry took care of that problem. We can tell you the tale later. Now, will you please tell us what he really looks like, Harry?”

Hermione had wrapped Harry’s arm over her shoulder so she could cuddle up next to him to provide support as he retold the harder parts of his evening. She was very thankful that he had managed to escape using his hidden skills.

The corner of Harry’s mouth curled up in a small smile when Hermione tucked herself underneath his arm. Giving her shoulder a reassuring squeeze, he began telling them what Voldemort looked like now, “He is completely hairless with no nose and very thin pale pink lips. His eyes and nose are slits and there is a red rim around the iris of his eyes.”

Everyone was digesting this new bit of news and Dora was taking notes on a pad of paper. She stopped writing and asked, “What does he look like when he is wearing a glamour?”

Harry’s answer was immediate, both images were burned into his memory forever, “He’s tall with shoulder length dark brown hair, blue green eyes, and has a thin build. Visibly, I would guess his age to be in the forties but based upon what Sirius said, I think he is really in his late sixties.”

“That sounds about right, most witches and wizards age much slower than non-magical people. Professor Dumbledore is somewhere around one hundred and fifty years old but he looks to be in his eighties.” Dora supplied helpfully.

John was curious about the rest of the story regarding Harry’s escape, “What happened once you hid?”

Harry was a bit nervous about the next part; he had unknowingly made it nigh impossible to free Sirius with his actions. Turning to look at his godfather, he said in a voice filled with regret, “I’m sorry, Sirius. Peter Pettigrew is dead.”

Sirius, Remus, and Dora all slumped back into the couch shocked. They had all hoped to capture the traitor and use him to clear Sirius. Now, those plans were dashed upon the rocks like ships in a storm. Struggling to maintain his demeanor, Sirius croaked out, “How did he die?”

Harry was fighting back tears, he knew what Wormtail’s death had denied him, but it was even worse for Sirius. His chance at freedom had taken a severe hit. Harry’s voice was just a whisper when he finally spoke after a few seconds, “I bit him, and about sixty seconds later he was dead.”

Confused about how Harry biting Wormtail could lead to his death, Dora asked, “How does your biting him lead to his death in a minute?”

Looking for permission, Harry glanced between Sirius and Remus. When the both gave him a nod yes, he reluctantly untangled himself from Hermione and transformed.

Dora’s reaction didn’t disappoint, she shrieked and almost climbed into Remus’ lap. Evidently, she shared Sirius’ fear of snakes.

Quickly changing back, Harry rejoined Hermione and put his arm around her again while she snuggled into a comfortable position. Looking over at Dora, he smugly said, “Boo.”

Regaining her composure, Dora began blushing furiously when she realized that she was half sitting, half climbing on Remus. To make matters worse, when she looked into Remus’ eyes, he gave her that wolfish grin that made her insides melt. She gave a slight, “Eeep.” before settling back into her seat.

Glaring at Harry, Dora said playfully, “Blimey, Harry. That was impressive. If you scare me like that again, I’m going to have a nice new pair of snake skin shoes with a matching bag and belt.”

Harry was grinning back at Dora. He liked her, she didn’t beat around the bush like most adults, and he found it very refreshing. He sobered up pretty quickly when Annabelle asked another question.

“What happened after you bit Peter?”

Closing his eyes and taking a deep breath, Harry said, “Voldemort incinerated Pettigrew’s body. In my anger, I sent a silent Blasting Curse at him. Unfortunately, he managed to erect a shield and the blast only sent him flying. He Disapparated in midair and returned to the exact spot that he had been standing but I had already started running as soon as my curse connected with his shield.”

He paused and looked over at Hermione’s parents before sweeping his gaze over the rest of the enthralled adults. They were hanging on his every word, looking for any clues that could help them later, “The noise from his Apparition made me realize that I could do that too.” Seeing the looks of disbelief on everyone’s faces, he continued, “I had Apparated when I was in primary school so I knew that I could do it again. I concentrated really hard on someplace safe and I ended up here.”

It was Annabelle that spoke up next; her voice was full of relief, “We are all thankful that you were able to escape that madman safely.” She glanced down at her watch and realized that it was getting late.

Turning her attention to the elves that had been sitting quietly over by the fire the entire time, she startled everyone else when she said, “Dobby, Winky, would you please show Harry and Hermione to their room?”

John’s head snapped up when he heard his wife use the singular room instead of rooms. He acquiesced when she squeezed his hand hard. He knew that they would talk about this later. Belatedly, he realized that it was actually humorous when he saw the looks on the teen’s faces.

Harry and Hermione had turned beet red and were both shifting in their seat nervously.

Sirius cottoned on to Annabelle’s plan quickly and he added in a light tone, “Come on you two, up to bed. Winky and Dobby have a nice room set up with all of your stuff.”

Dora almost snickered when she saw Harry pale at the mention of sharing a room with Hermione. Throwing fuel on the fire, she gleefully said, “Don’t worry, Harry. I’m sure that Hermione doesn’t hog the bed or steal the covers.”

Harry and Hermione practically fled from the library following Winky up to their room. After Dora’s comments, they feared further ones from everyone else and their pace quickened.

Hermione could have sworn that she heard laughter erupting from the library before it was abruptly cut off with what she surmised was a Silencing Charm of some type.

When they arrived at their room, she almost walked into Harry. He had stopped cold in the doorway. Nervously, Harry stammered out, “Th-There’s only one bed.”

She could feel his emotions flowing through the bond and she was sure that hers were in just as much turmoil. With a wicked glint in her eyes, Hermione stepped right up to Harry and nipped his earlobe while purring, “I usually don’t wear much to bed either. I hope you’re not a bed hog, Mr. Potter.” She sashayed into the room exaggerating the swing of her hips as she walked over to the en-suite bathroom to get ready for bed. She was determined to not let the spur of the moment prank by the adults bother her and to take full advantage of the situation.

The truth of the matter was that the best night of sleep that she had had since the second task had been in Harry’s arms that one night that they had both fallen asleep in the Room of Requirement. It was something that she longed for again and they had just unknowingly provided her with something she desperately wanted.

It was a full five minutes later before Harry was coherent enough to step into the room and close the door. He was positive that no matter what, this was going to be a very long night.

When Hermione glided out of the bathroom in her nightdress, he gulped. Stunned by her beauty, he nervously squeaked, “I’ll just get ready for bed then.” as he walked towards the bathroom.

In his state of distraction, he stumbled over his own feet before catching himself and closing the bathroom door behind him. Slowly sliding down the closed door, he shuddered when Hermione’s lilting laughter floated through the door followed by what he dubbed, ‘The Voice.’

Hermione’s seductive, husky, whisper called out through the bathroom door, “I’ll be in bed, waiting.”

Harry was terrorized. His emotions and body were at war with each other. He had just escaped from the person that most people considered the most evil Dark Lord in a century but he was absolutely terrified, and excited, by the thought of Hermione in that nightdress waiting for him in bed.

Screwing up his courage, Harry finished getting ready for bed and stepped out of the bathroom wearing only a pair of boxers and a t-shirt. He noticed that Hermione had dimmed the lights and his side of the bed was already turned down.

He slipped under the covers and removed his t-shirt and glasses. Harry stiffened, in more ways than one, when Hermione pressed her body into his and began making herself comfortable. Instinctively, he wrapped his arm around her and pulled her closer before leaning down and kissing her tenderly on the lips. His voice was full of love as he whispered, “I love you, Mrs. Potter.”

Hermione flushed with pleasure at those words and she replied lovingly, “And I you, my husband.”

The two teens shared a few more kisses before drifting into a blissful sleep, entwined with each other. For the first time since that night in the Room of Requirement, the nightmares were kept at bay and they enjoyed a peaceful, refreshing, sleep.
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