Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Potter's Resistance 1: Breaking Ties

Chapter 6: Serpents' place in the world

by IP82 4 Reviews

Chapter 6

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: R - Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama - Characters: Harry - Warnings: [!!] [V] - Published: 2005/12/14 - Updated: 2005/12/14 - 10493 words

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Potter's Resistance 1: Breaking Ties
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Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by J.K. Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury, Scholastic, and Raincoast Books, and Warner Brothers Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. I do not own Harry Potter or anything related to Harry Potter.
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Chapter 6: Serpents' place in the world



Harry was leaning against the wall of his Potions lab, staring blankly at three cauldrons with completed potions needed for the "Cerebrum trafero" ritual. It was strongly advised to test the purity of the potions, less the ritual backfire on its performer, but Harry could tell outright that the brews would pass - not with flying colors by a long shot, but they would certainly end up within the minimal quality limits. Harry actually wasn't sure whether to be happy or sad by this development. Sure, he was glad that he had succeeded in making such complex potions, but he dreaded what he knew would be the next step in the process.

For the hundredth time that morning, Harry glanced at his wristwatch. It was almost 11am and his meeting with Macmillan was scheduled for 11:30. Harry sighed and started casting preservation and testing charms on the potions. There was no use to procrastinate any longer - he knew this day would come. Hell, it might even turn out fun taking some action back to the Death Eaters.

Finished with the spell-work, Harry strolled out of the lab and went to get ready for the meeting.
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"Lucas," Joseph Macmillan nodded respectfully from the other side of a table, in a private booth of the Matt's Place. "You look good. Your new book serves you well?"

"Yes, it's very useful," replied Harry. "A little shocking at times, but useful."

"I'm glad you find it beneficial. After all, you did pay good money for it. By the way, how's the third installment of the initiation fee coming along?"

Harry shifted in his seat. "Fine, it's just fine, the plan's forming in my mind nicely, it'll be sure to make a bang," he said brightly, while nodding enthusiastically.

"You forgot, didn't you?" asked Josh, seeing right through his mask.

"Yep, slipped my mind completely," Harry immediately confirmed, still nodding brightly.

"You really shouldn't joke about it, Lucas. You've had a lot of luck getting accepted to Anarchia. You shouldn't throw that away just because you 'forgot' about your obligations," admonished Joseph sternly.

"I know, I know," sighed Harry seriously. "I was just so caught up with some other schemes, that playing some silly prank on Fudge completely slipped my mind."

"And I suppose this information you've requested has something to do with these grand 'schemes' of yours?" asked Josh, probing the ground gently.

"Maybe, maybe not. Maybe I just like prying into other people's business, like a certain someone I know," said Harry evasively, looking pointedly at his friend.

"Alright, alright, I get the hint," said Joseph, raising his hands defensively. "I can't help but feel curious, Lucas, but as long it's just my own personal curiosity, your secrets are safe. Of course, if someone else were to hire me to dig a little deeper, then..." Joseph shrugged apologetically.

"You are free to try, my friend," Harry smiled, indicating that he understood that everyone was a fair game in Josh's line of business. "So, about those files..."

"Right. Well, the easy one first. Auror Gudmund Pederson, Hogwarts generation 1992, Hufflepuff. Both parents deceased, no regular contacts with any other closer relations. Barely scraped through the Auror training, but I'm sure you've already found his grades in Anarchia. Hired directly to Fudge's personal bodyguards, which is... highly irregular." Harry tried to say something, but Joseph interrupted him. "Yes, of course I checked it out. It seems that his father, as a head of the Goblin Liaison Office, did some favor for Fudge when he was only a young upstart in the Department of Magical Catastrophes. Fudge, in his infinite wisdom, declared formally that he owed the Pederson family a favor and pledged that he would repay it some day. Few years later, Pederson unexpectedly died and Fudge moved on, eventually becoming the Minister of Magic. Young Gudmund had probably found mentions of that pledge in his deceased father's documents, and decided to call upon the favor. Of course, since the promise wasn't blood bounded or in a written form, Fudge could have easily refused. However, Pederson played his cards just right and managed to swindle the idiot into letting him into his elite unit. Fudge's probably regretting it now, since the klutz is nowhere near the level needed for that group. They'll probably flunk him out at his next review."

Harry sat there in complete silence, mulling over the information he had just heard. It all seemed to fit perfectly with his plan. "You have that in a written form?"

"Yes, it's not such a big deal, but just don't let it circulate around," said Josh and handed him a rather thin file.

"Right, no worries. So, about that other person..."

"Now Joseph, unlike this Pederson fellow, which was a rather routine job, this other gig was anything but. You do understand that Augustus Rookwood is the Dark Lord's top agent, not to mention he's on every Ministry's 'most wanted' list. Furthermore, he is currently working on a secret research project under direct command of the Dark Lord himself. I had to hire a separate team of snoops and informants to help me look into it. Let me tell you, it took us more than two weeks just to pinpoint Rookwood's hiding place, and I won't even mention resources we've spent on digging in deeper..."

"Ok, ok, stop," said Harry raising his hand. "I told you to spare no expenses and I meant it. I'll gladly pay up all the bills, as long as the info you've gained is good."

"Very well. 500 galleons. And trust me, that's just to cover our basic..." started Joseph uncomfortably, but was once again interrupted by Harry, who wordlessly counted five banknotes and handed them over to his informant.

"OK, now spill it," he said after Josh had packed the money.

"Augustus Rookwood, Ravenclaw alumni, graduated from Hogwarts in 1962, Head Boy, the best student of generation, yada, yada, yada. You probably know all that. Now, the fun part. After he escaped capture at the Department Of Mysteries, back in June, he was assigned a new task. It's all very hush-hush, but from what little the Inner Circle knows, it's some kind of research project under direct supervision of the Dark Lord himself. Now, as I told you, it took my team and myself a while, but we've managed to pinpoint his exact location."

At Joseph's pause, Harry raised an eyebrow and then snorted. "Who's showman now?"

"Now Lucas, if someone asks you where you got this information..."

"...I'll tell them I researched the Death Eaters' activities myself, until I figured it out."

Joseph sighed, leaned forward and whispered. "No. 13 Blackmore road, Knockturn Alley."

"What? That's not 5 minutes away from here!" harshly whispered Harry.

Josh snorted and nodded. "My own reaction was about the same. My men had been tracking Death Eater movements and rumors all over the Britain, only to end up where they'd first started, in our own back yard. It seems that life truly has a sense of irony."

"Yeah, tell me about it," mumbled Harry. "So, what do you know of this place?"

"It's a rundown, two story house, nothing too eye-catchy but sturdy nonetheless. Rookwood left the house only four times while we've been watching it. Each time he was only gone for about an hour, presumably submitting reports on his progress to the Dark Lord. Before you ask, we couldn't follow him since he'd been using public apparation zones. There're just too many different traces to follow there, not to mention it's kinda hard to cast illegal tracer spells with several Aurors guarding the zone. Anyway, no one else visited the house, suggesting that Rookwood's truly working directly under the Dark Lord's orders. As for security, the place isn't warded with true heavy artillery, like the Fidelius or Unplottable Charm, seeing as how there's too much magical radiation around the area, but pretty much everything else is on it. Especially interesting are the Magical-Blocking wards around the perimeter. I'm telling you, the place is barred up so tightly that practically no magic can leak through. Rookwood must be doing some serious spell-work in there, if he needs such strong barriers to hide them from the Ministry's trackers."

Harry set pensively, thinking about the information he was given. "Have you tried to infiltrate the premises?"

"Yeah, we've tried alright. The key word being 'tried'. That damn place is locked up so tightly that we haven't even managed to take a peek inside, not to mention actually enter the house. Hell, we've even tried with possessing insects and sneaking them in with Rookwood, but those bloody blocking wards would immediately cut off the mind-links with our thralls. I'm telling you straight out, there's absolutely no way to get in there unnoticed. The only way I can think off would be outright blowing through the wards and storming the house... That is, if you don't mind the Dark Lord dropping in to investigate."

Harry sat there, mulling through this information. He was well aware that he had no chance of slipping pass the wards, if Joseph and his men couldn't do it after weeks of trying. The only way to catch Rookwood would be during one of his forays outside the house, but that could easily turn into a boring week staking out. Not to mention he would rather take Rookwood on the home ground, instead of chasing him down some alley. Harry had no illusion that he could easily defeat a senior Unspeakable in a fair duel, at least with his current magical skills. He needed to trap him somehow and then take him by surprise. And he could hardly do it in such a public area, like Knockturn Alley, with a window of opportunity of only a couple of minutes.

Harry sighed and rubbed his temples. He was certain that he was missing something. There had to be a better way to do this... Like somehow luring Rookwood out of the house and then jumping him. But how to do that? He could almost imagine himself knocking on the door and yelling "Pizza delivery!". No, he doubted Rookwood would even hear him though all those barriers... Suddenly, he had an idea.

"Josh, what are the intervals between Rookwood's appearances?"

"Well, we've found the house after we followed Rookwood during one of his forays. The next time we saw him was 7 days later, then 5 days later and finally 8 days after that. That was two days ago. So, there's no pattern, if that's what you're looking for."

Harry nodded, pleased with this. "Tell me, Josh, was there something else interesting your men saw there?"

Joseph looked rather confused by this. "Well, I don't know... What exactly are you expecting to hear?"

"Snakes. Has someone reported seeing snakes around the house?" Harry asked hopefully.

Josh looked startled. "Now that I think about it, one of the snoops complained how he almost got bitten by a small snake. He was just about to curse it, when it slithered away and slipped through some sort of porthole into the house. He's been joking ever since then that Rookwood is spending so much time around the snake-face, that he even started having the same pets as him..." Joseph saw Harry's smug expression and narrowed his eyes. "Lucas, what do you know?"

"Think about it, Josh," said Harry knowingly. "You said it yourself that the wards around the perimeter are blocking any magic from entering or leaving the place. Considering the strength of the wards and the facts that conjured animals couldn't be controlled inside the house, it's safe to assume that no magical link to the outside could operate through the wards."

Joseph was still eyeing him confusedly.

"Even one very specific link, that Rookwood and his buddies often use to seek out their master."

"The Dark Mark!" gasped Joseph with wide eyes, finally seeing where Harry was going with this.

"Exactly. Seeing as how Rookwood has been leaving the place at irregular intervals, the Dark Lord must have somehow been in contact with him, sending him times and places of their next meetings. Since the Dark Mark doesn't work inside the wards, the Dark Lord had to find some other way of keeping in touch with Rookwood, while still leaving no doubt of his identity."

"Thus, the snakes. Only a Parselmouth could command the snakes into the house and only the Dark Lord knows where the house is. The perfect communication system," finished Joseph.

Not so perfect, after all , mused Harry. Now that he figured out a way to get Rookwood out of the house, he only had to go out and execute the plan. He would need to find some nice ambush spot and purchase a snake, but at lest now he had a firm plan to go by.

"Too bad Potter's gone missing. You could have used him to contact Rookwood, him being Parselmouth and all... if that's what you're planning to do, of course," said Joseph, rousing Harry from his scheming.

"Oh, I'll figure something else out. I might try to capture Dark Lord's messenger snake and swap the message without it noticing." Joseph was about to say that the Dark Lord probably would have protected his snakes against interception, but Harry continued speaking.

"Anyway, speaking of the Boy-Who-Lived, I have an update on Potter-hunting, if you're interested," he said, trying to move the conversation away from his plans about Rookwood.

"Ah, Australian rainforests. Not exactly my area of expertise, but my colleague of sorts Feroll Bold gave me a rundown of what had happened out there."

"Oh? Friendly competition?" asked Harry with a raised eyebrow.

"Not exactly. Bold is more into the... eh, practical side of the tracking business. But he has a nice information network outside the islands. We often work together... cultural exchange and all that rot," clarified Joseph.

"I'm sure. Anyway, I see that you already know the basics, but I can give you a complete rundown of the Order's unsuccessful retrieval operation. It's an interesting story, if nothing else."

"Very well. I'm all ears," said Joseph and lolled back in his chair.

While Harry was retelling Joseph his last week's adventure, from an outsider's point of view of course, he was already planning the rest of his day. He was certain that by nightfall, he would have his final ingredient safely tucked away in his warehouse.
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Half an hour later found Harry inside Magical Menagerie, the official pet-shop of the Diagon Alley. Sure, many other scoundrels traded with rare and dangerous animals, but they were all dealing directly with customers, not having enough traffic to open up their own shops. Magical Menagerie was practically the only true shop of that kind in the whole England.

Harry was surprised by the new look of the shop's interior. Gone were the fuzzy white rabbits, furry cats or children's favorite Puffskeins. In their place were now cages with guard dogs, poisonous scorpions, bugs with huge pincers, nasty looking vultures and other dangerous animals that could be used for personal protection in this time of instability. A special place in the store was reserved for snakes, which were placed in a huge glass casing, along the whole far wall of the room.

Harry approached the glass wall and saw that various eco-systems were being magically simulated in different parts of the huge showcase. Many different types of snakes took their residence inside artificial forests, deserts and grasslands, freely moving through the huge area, but generally resting within their chosen climates. The place looked truly luxurious and comfortable, which Harry found rather strange. He clearly remembered his visit to this shop prior to his third year. Back then, all the snakes where crammed inside small glass casings, hidden from view in a far corner of the shop.

I guess snakes are back in fashion, with the Dark Lord's return and all , Harry thought as he observed the dozing reptiles.

He was interrupted by the arrival of a young male worker. "Feeding time," he explained to Harry, as he opened up the lid and started throwing all sorts of small animals into the tank.

"This case looks awfully... opulent," commented Harry.

The youth snorted. "Tell me about it. With the way Mrs. Sheridan has me treating them, I sometimes wish I was a snake."

"But how does it pay off, investing all this effort just to keep the snakes happy?"

"You're kidding, right? We're selling reptiles so fast, we can hardly keep up with demands." Harry had some idea what the man was talking about, but he still raised a questioning eyebrow. You never know when you might hear something you didn't know before. Seeing Harry's questioning look, the young man elaborated. "There's a word on the street that You-Know-Who might spare your life if he sees you having a snake for a pet and treating it nicely. People are practically competing who would buy the biggest, meanest snake and set up the greatest, most cozy environment to keep it there. It's the latest trend, mate." He leaned in closer and whispered. "It's rather silly if you ask me. I mean, with You-Know-Who being Parselmouth and all, it's more likely he would simply order your pet to strangle you and be done with you more quickly... But hey, the business is booming, and a snake is at least a little bit better that all those fake protection amulets you can buy on every street corner. Who am I to complain?"

At this point, the snakes sensed a prey in the vicinity and started waking up, going for a hunt. Thus, Harry was once again reminded why he had decided against buying a snake for company and protection after learning he was a Parselmouth in his second year.

»Food.«

»Mouse.«

»Hungry.«

»Mine.«

»Tasty.«

Yep, eloquent as ever , Harry mused. Being a Parselmouth was good for having snakes carry out simple orders in exchange for food, but anyone expecting mind-boggling philosophical debates would be sorely disappointed. Snakes simply didn't have the necessity to evolve their brains enough for chatting about weather or discussing each other's feelings. That was why Harry was extremely surprised when he heard hiss from the other end of the cage.

»Hey, big guy!«

Harry whipped his head around and saw that the noise was coming from a small adder, hidden beneath the roots of an artificial tree. He was less than two feet long, black with silver patterns on his back and totally unremarkable, save for a nasty scar, going straight through his missing left eye. Strangely, he was holding a still living green frog in his mouth. Harry was just about to answer, when another voice beat him to it.

»Mine redhop!« hissed an ominous looking cobra, staring down the adder. Harry was confused for a moment, but then he saw an exotic-looking shinny red frog, inching away from the cobra, who had been eyeing it a moment before. With a quick glance around the habitat, Harry noticed that most of the poisonous snakes were praying upon this type of frogs specifically, for now ignoring all the other species. They must be some sort of a special treat for the snakes , mused Harry, as he observed the conversation.

The small adder didn't seemed afraid at all. Actually, he started dancing seductively in front of the cobra, dangling the struggling green frog just inches away from the other snake's head.

»Come on, dumbass, you know you want it,« he hissed softly.

At sight of a food so near, the cobra's instinct kicked in, making it forget all about it's previous, much tastier prey. It started dancing in the adder's rhythm, hungrily eyeing the frog in his mouth.

»Give me greenhop!« it hissed to the smaller snake.

»Ah, you want the greenhop, don't you? It's so slick and tasty, mmm... Well, it's all yours, big guy, just come and get it,« the adder hissed seductively, while slowly inching away from the cobra.

»Give me! I'm stronger! It's mine!« the cobra hissed fiercely, poising for an attack on the smaller snake.

»Yes, you are so strong and big and fast,« the adder hissed soothingly, still dangling the frog in his mouth. »Don't have much of an attention span, though,« he snickered under his breath. Snickered? Harry mused, enthralled by the performance.

»Give me! Give! Give greenhop or I attack! Give now!« the cobra hissed, totally paralyzed by it's raging instincts.

»You want it, dumbfuck? You really want it? Then, have it!« hissed the adder and threw the frog against the nearby tree. The cobra sprung after its prey, totally forgetting about the other snake or that fancy red frog, that was still standing by the glass wall, looking around confusedly.

»Sucker,« snickered the adder, as he slithered away to hunt down the real treat.

"I see you've found Pirate Dick," said a voice from behind Harry's back. He turned around and saw the same attendant that was feeding the snakes earlier. "Completely ordinary domestic adder, found in abundance all over the English countryside, with a scar over its left eye to boot. Nothing remarkable in any way, you'd say. So, why do you think it's here?"

Harry already had a pretty good idea, but he asked anyway. "Why?"

"Well, old Dick here is sort of a shop legend, or... a mascot, if you will. No. Not a mascot, since we aren't exactly showing him around, or anything... Err..." the young man stuttered, thinking how exactly to phrase the explanation of the adder's presence in the shop.

»I prefer the term 'splendidly delicious part of décor', but it's your call really,« threw in Dick, while encircling the red frog and waiting for it to die from his poisonous bite. Harry had to fight hard to remain impassive.

"Let's just say that he's Mrs. Sheridan's unofficial pet of sorts... And he really doesn't eat that much, so it's not a big bother keeping him around."

»Gee thanks, you make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside,« said the adder sarcastically, as he eyed still struggling frog, pondering from which side to start swallowing it.

"Anyway, this old guy's been here since long before my time. Almost fifteen years, I've been told..."

»Merlin, don't remind me,« sighed Dick.

"...And during that time, he'd tried to escape Lord knows how many times, at least twenty since I started working here. He was rather unsuccessful, as you can see..."

»Just had to rub it in.«

"...but still, his plans were truly remarkable, for a snake of course. Although, he did try playing dead at least dozen times already. These days, we just zap him awake and move on."

»Hey, it's a damn good plan! It's not my fault that old bat Sheridan isn't as gullible as she used to be,« yelled Dick indignantly, at the moment more interested in conversation then food.

"And of course, there are his other antics, like the one you've just witnessed. I actually don't remember the last time we had to feed Dick separately. He usually just tricks the other snakes into giving him their own food. That's why we've started calling him 'pirate' in the first place. And there's his missing eye, of course."

»They've even tried making me wear an eye patch, would you believe that? Too bad that guy had an antidote ready on hand,« hissed Dick more to himself. It seemed like he was simply daydreaming on having an intelligent conversation, not really expecting any answers. Harry found the little snake more and more interesting by the minute.

"If he's so smart, then how come he's still here? Someone should have bought him off years ago," asked Harry.

"Well, first of all, Dick is actually rarely seen at all, except on a feeding day, like today, or during one of his insane escape schemes."

»I hate attention. Fans can be quite bothersome.«

"Then, there's his whole appearance. Let's face it, when people come here looking to buy a snake, then don't actually seek out an old, scared specimen of a species that can probably be found in their own back yard."

»With the way I'm being treated here, I sometimes wonder why I even bother sticking around... Oh, right, must be the whole 'imprisonment in a cage' thing. Wow, who would have thought?« grumbled Dick sarcastically to himself.

"And of course, just to make sure, Mrs. Sheridan had overpriced him to a level that no one would even bother giving him a second look. So, I'm quite certain that old Dick would stay here for a long, long time."

With each word, the little snake seemed more and more depressed. »I wish I was dead...« he deadpanned. »Hey! If they thought I was dead, then... Oh, never mind.«

Harry's lips twitched, but he managed to stifle a laughter. "Well, as luck would have it, I'm very interested in purchasing this... Pirate Dick of yours." Three eyes snapped at Harry, one pair confused and the third one hopeful but apprehensive.

"You are? Well, I'm not sure he's for sale at all. I mean... he is the store's mascot... sort of..." blurted the attendant.

"Be that as it may, you said it yourself that the snake is overpriced, indicating that it is indeed available for sale," was Harry's smooth reply.

"Err, I'm afraid I'll have to bring this to the manager. Would you please excuse me for a moment?" said the young man as he hurried away to the other end of the store. He was back a minute later, dragging along a short, older witch with thick glasses. She seemed like a sweet old lady, what with that good-natured smile on her kind, grandmotherly face and overall kind appearance. Maybe even too kind for the biggest pet-merchant in England , mused Harry, subconsciously lifting his guard. After years of dealing with the Headmaster, Harry knew that type of mask well. There could easily be a shark hidden underneath her innocent demeanor.

"My name is Selma Sheridan and I am the owner of this store, dear. I've been told you're looking to purchase our dear old Pirate Dick, this shop's beloved mascot," said the old lady sweetly.

Harry smiled back even sweeter. He knew that she was pumping up the price and he would have none of it. "Mascot?" he asked in mock confusion. "I wasn't aware that Dick here is your mascot. I was actually under impression he has been spending most of his days forgotten in the back of his tank, fighting for survival on his own."

»Take that, you old bat!« hissed said snake from behind Harry's back. »Cursed gargoyle is spending more time looking after those experimental monsters she keeps in her basement, than us, proper house pets,« he seethed, making Harry's eyes light up with understanding. So, I was right. It seems there is a lot more to the sweet old grandma Selma than meets the eye , he mused thoughtfully.

In the meantime, Sheridan threw an annoyed glare at her young worker, who had obviously revealed too much for her liking, but then she quickly reverted to her old sweet self. "Oh, don't you worry about him, young man. Old Dick here is one smart and crafty fellow, a true Slytherin if there ever was one." She tried to chuckle good-naturedly, but to Harry, it sounded like an old hag's evil laughter at seeing babies boiled in hot oil. "Actually, him being so smart and self-sufficient is a big part of his whole charm and appeal." She then sighed theatrically and shook her head sadly. "Without him around, this store simply wouldn't be the same."

"I see," said Harry while planning how to proceed with the next part. "Well, if this snake is truly so precious to you ma'am, then I wouldn't dream of robbing you of its presence." Harry noticed slightly panicked expression on the woman's face with silent satisfaction. "Of course, my friend from Department for the Regulation of Magical Creatures would still need his birthday present. Hmm... maybe a specimen from that special stock you keep in your basement would do the trick," Harry mused aloud, while rubbing his chin thoughtfully. The woman's face exploded with panic for a moment, before reverting to a blank mask. Only her narrowed eyes revealed her anger.

"100 galleons," she said sharply, her mask completely off.

"For an ordinary, domestic adder? You should be happy with 10," replied Harry coldly.

"You saw what he can do, young man. 80!" she snapped with a nasty glare directed at Harry.

"That scar and missing eye don't make him look any prettier. 25."

"65, you're not buying him for his looks."

"65 galleons for the last few months of the old fellow's life? It's hardly worth 35!"

"His very unique and one-of-a-kind life, you mean? 55, and no lower!"

"Oh, but you have a lot more unique entities in your possession, don't you, my dear Mrs. Sheridan?" hissed Harry snidely.

At this point, both bidders were leaning forward, noses almost touching, trying to outglare each other. Sheridan was looking particularly nasty after that last comment, her body shaking in anger, looking like it might explode any second. "45 galleons, and that's my final offer!" screeched the old lady in rage, spraying saliva all over Harry's face.

"Taken!," snarled Harry back, retaliating with the same measure. Both bidders kept their places in the ensued silence, still trying to murder each other with imaginary death rays from their eyes.

»Oh, it's so nice to see my fate being discussed in such a caring and spiritualized manner. Would you like me to wrap myself up? I hope that me still breathing wouldn't be too much of a bother for you,« hissed sarcastically Dick, who had mostly been silent during the bidding process. He seemed royally pissed, and maybe even a bit afraid. For all of his complaints and escape attempts, Magical Menagerie has still been his home for the past 15 years or so. Unlike his safe and secure cage, his new owner was very much an unknown quantity.

On the other side of the glass wall, his hissing had broken the silence between Sheridan and Harry.

"Well, we're all settled then!" chirped the old lady, somehow managing to regain her previous façade. "Would you prefer a metallic cage, or a glass case, dear?"

"Glass case, ma'am," replied Harry equally sweetly.

"You, boy! Stop gawking and see that it's all taken care of! And charge the customer," snapped the storeowner at the young attendant, who was still standing besides them, glaring stupidly.

"Yes Mrs. Sheridan! Right away, ma'am," he stumbled and hurried off to bring a small glass case for the snake.

"Well, if that's all, I should probably leave you in the capable hands of our young attendants. You know how it is dear, there is always more work to be done," she tried to chuckle kindly, but her flashing eyes somehow ruined the effect.

"Of course, ma'am. Thank you for your assistance and have a nice day," said Harry politely.

"You too dear, you too," smiled the sweet old lady, before turning around and stalking to the opposite corner of the shop in a huff. As soon as her back was turned, Harry's kind smile faltered, his face reverting to a blank expression. "Ugly bitch," he mumbled at Sheridan's retreating back, at the same time as she murmured "Obnoxious brat,"

With one last parting sneer, Harry turned around to take another look at his new snake. He couldn't help but conclude that this shopping trip has turned out to be much more interesting than he expected.
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Twenty minutes later Harry was sitting on a couch in his tent, looking at a glass case, placed on top of a coffee table in front of him. His green eyes were locked with single blue eye of his new snake, both intelligent entities trying to figure each other out. Slowly, a devious smirk stretched across Harry's lips.

He stood up and retrieved a large tome on intermediate-level potions from a nearby bookcase. He threw himself back on the couch and started turning pages, pretending not to notice his new snake's curious stare. "Aha," he said after few seconds of searching. "Cortex venomous solution," he murmured, inventing a name on the fly.

"Let's see now..." he murmured, "Armadillo bile, got it... knotgrass, already have it... wormwood petals, yes... the main ingredient, powerful serpent's body parts..." Harry briefly glanced at Dick, who leaned backwards in surprise, his single eye widening slightly, his mouth hanging open. Harry nodded to himself and chirped "Yup!" before returning to his 'instructions'.

"Before starting with ingredient processing, it's recommended to boil the snake in hot water for several minutes, until its skin softens, for the sake of easier separation later on," muttered Harry. From the corner of his eyes, he watched Dick panicking in his tank, looking all around for a way out.

"Start the process by removing the snake's fangs. Regular muggle pincers have proven to be the most suitable tool for this task." At hearing this, Dick immediately shut his mouth closed, hiding his fangs protectively. He than started hitting the top of the box nervously, vainly trying to lift the lid up.

"Skin the snake by making long, gentle cuts along the length of its body. The serpent's boiled skin should make the knife glide smoother through the scales. The potion will be more potent if you manage to keep the snake alive as long as possible." Harry had to lift the book to hide his smile, when Dick started slamming the glass walls with his head, trying to break them.

"After separating the skin, cut off the snake's head, and then chop the body on even pieces. For the brewing process, keep fangs, skin, blood and some of the muscles. The rest can be thrown away or used as food for other animals," Harry closed the book with a self-satisfied nod and stood up, directing his attention to the snake in front of him. Poor Dick seemed to be in a full-blown panic attack. He kept glancing around him panicky, desperately looking for a way out.

"Well, I guess I should get started," mused Harry as he pulled out one of the switchblades he had confiscated a few days ago.

At seeing the knife, Dick froze for a split second and then promptly fell down and started trashing around the tank, in apparent pain. After a few seconds, Dick's twitches became weaker and further between, while the small snake gave some painful hisses and whimpers. At last, with a few final convulsions, Dick's eye glazed over and his forked tongue stuck out, leaving the perfect impression of a dead snake.

Not being able to hold it any longer, Harry let go of a booming laugh. He's well rehearsed, I'll give him that, he thought , while holding his stomach and trying to stop his snickers. »It's all right Dick, you can stop pretending now,« Harry hissed to the little snake in Parseltongue.

At hearing this, Dick's head snapped up, his eye looking at Harry incredulously. »You... you... speak? You... are Parselmouth? And you've been pretending...« Then his eye narrowed in annoyance. »Hey! You pranked me!«

Harry smiled and replied: »Yes, sorry about that. The opportunity was just too good to pass up.«

Dick grumbled a little but then tensed again and gave Harry a suspicious look. »You really aren't gonna kill me? You aren't working for... him?«

Harry gave the snake a confused look. »Him? You mean... Voldemort?«

»Yes, Tom.«

»No, I'm most definitely not working for...« Harry started but then tensed, throwing the snake a suspicious stare. »How did you know Voldemort's real name?«

The snake cringed, realizing his mistake. »Err... Are you sure you're not working for... Voldemort?«

»No, I don't think you'll be seeing your master anytime soon,« replied Harry coldly, already regretting the decision to purchase this snake. He had obviously been in contact with Voldemort. Who knows what secrets he might snitch out to him if he's ever allowed to see him again?

His musings were interrupted when the snake spoke with apparent relief. »Good. Thank Merlin for that. I'm not going anywhere near that traitor ever again if I can help it,« Dick grumbled.

»Traitor?« asked surprised Harry, before his eyes narrowed again. »Just what kind of relationship do you have with Voldemort?«

Dick seemed very nervous and reluctant to answer that question. »Err... you see, I've met him a few weeks... years back and... and he kinda...«

Harry rolled his eyes at Dick's obvious attempt at inventing a lie. Well, what else to expect from someone who'd spent past 15 years surrounded by, for all intents and purposes, bunch of morons , he mused.

»Look, I'm not one of your little idiot palls back from the shop. You either tell me the whole truth or you're back to the ingredients bin,« snapped Harry, glaring at the snake coldly.

»Alright, alright no more bullshit. Just promise me you'll hear me out, alright?« said Dick.

»I'm listening« said Harry impassively.

»Well... you see... I'm kinda... Tom's familiar,« said Dick carefully.

Harry snorted and shook his head. »Yeah, right. Why don't you try again? Everyone knows that Nagini is Voldemort's familiar.«

»Fucking usurper whore! I'm sure that bitch would like nothing better than to grab Tom for herself, but I've gotten better of her. I may have lost my eye, but I survived! And she'll never become Tom's familiar as long as I live!«

Harry just blinked confusedly at the little snake's angry rant. Relaxing a little after deciding that Dick is definitely against Voldemort, Harry lolled back in the couch and said: »Why don't you start from the beginning?«
------------------------------------
Dick's earliest memories were of an orphanage and a young human boy named Tom Riddle. Tom often spoke to him and other snakes in the wilderness surrounding the Stockwell Orphanage. There had been sort of a pact between two parties. The snakes would provide protection for Tom and generally freak the other children out. In return, Tom would use his newfound social position to acquire enough food for himself and what was practically his first group of followers. Back then, Dick was just an ordinary snake, no brighter than any other, and this deal was good enough for him.

But everything changed once Tom had received a strange letter, with an invitation to a school of Witchcraft and Wizardry, somewhere in Scotland highlands. After talking to a funny old man in rainbow-colored dress, Tom had informed his followers that he would be able to take only one of them with him. After some deliberation, and a few fights breaking out amongst the snakes, Dick was the one chosen for this holy task, primarily for his small size for an adder, which was in contrast with his lethal poison.

Thus, Dick had found himself in a new, strange environment, filled with talking paintings, moving staircases and floating ghosts. At first, he was spending most of his time coiled around Tom's arm, ready to strike whomever tried to bully Tom for his worn-out clothes and half-blood status. Still, Tom himself was a far cry from some whiny pushover. In the next few years, he had completely turned tables on his would-be tormentors and became the unofficial leader of the Slytherin house.

At the same time, Tom started experimenting with various forbidden magics, and especially some basic dark rituals. Of course, at the time Dick knew nothing about it. He only noticed that his human started throwing strange colorful lights at him and making him drink foul-tasting liquids. He even did some strange thing with smearing foul paste all over the floor and than cutting some Hufflepuff pet kneazle's throat. In wake of that incident, Dick's intelligence and memory had experienced steady growth. Coupled with his growing understanding of English language, Dick started to realize that Tom was using some very forbidden and dark spells and potions to slowly infuse him with magic, basically turning him into a magical creature. Dick didn't mind that at all.

The biggest challenge for the pair came in Tom's fifth year. At the beginning of that year, Tom and Dick have finally discovered the entrance to what Tom had called "The Chamber of Secrets". In there, Tom had unwittingly released Slytherin's pet basilisk from his enchanted slumber. The beast immediately requested to be released upon what he called the unworthy students, namely the Muggleborn children. Of course, Tom would have had none of it, if there weren't for a catch. Behind basilisk's chamber lay Slytherin's personal library. Hundred of dark tomes, many of which were written by the founder himself, were just sitting there, begging to be read. Unfortunately, the cunning founder had protected his collection well. The books, most of which were written in Parseltongue, could not be taken away from the library. Furthermore, the entrance to the chamber could be gained only with help of the chamber's basilisk guardian; the beast that had a nasty habit of spending its free time by slithering through the castle and wrecking havoc amongst the "filthy Mudblood traitors". Needless to say, this restrictions were a big obstacle for Tom, who was at the moment desperately trying to keep up a low profile and stay away from Dumbledore's clutches.

Thus, began the painstaking process of steering the basilisk away from creating too much of a ruckus amongst the students. At the same time, Tom was browsing through the library, desperately trying to memorize as much information as humanly possible. A few messages written in blood and some Gryffindors freaked out by strange noises were usually enough to appease the basilisk for a week or two. But every now and then, the beast would request for some more direct measures to be taken against its old master's enemies. At times like this, Tom would select a target and then carefully arrange the attack so that unfortunate student would only see a reflection of the basilisk's eyes. The last thing Tom needed was for the school to shut down due to some stupid Mudblood's untimely demise. The other students would find private tutors, or transfer to the other schools, but Tom would only get kicked right back to the orphanage.

Still, despite Tom's best efforts, the panic had spread through the wizarding world. The old headmaster was having harder and harder time keeping the parents from pulling their children away from school. Only the fact that World War II was in full swing above Britain made them keep the kids safely inside Hogwarts' wards.

And then, the inevitable happened. That whiny dolt, Myrtle, managed to stumble upon the basilisk during one of Tom's bogus missions, and get her stupid self killed. Tom knew he was in trouble now - the school was bound to get closed down and all the students sent home. Thankfully, Dick came out to his rescue. He told Tom of the time he had stumbled upon a large Gryffindor student and his dangerous Acromantula pet. Tom had immediately acted upon the information, and the disaster has been averted. Still, under the transfiguration teacher's scrutiny, Tom was forced to place the basilisk back under enchanted sleep spell and close the Chamber of Secrets down. He decided that he had gathered enough knowledge for the moment and that the rest could wait for his glorious return as the next world leader.

The biggest consequence of that whole year for Dick came after performing a ritual that Slytherin had initially designed and Tom managed to reproduce from one of the founder's diaries. After sneaking out to the Forbidden Forest and sacrificing a Demiguise that one of Tom's rich Slytherin 'friends' had donated, Dick had gained very useful ability to become disillusioned at will. Unfortunately, that upgrade, coupled with some of the Tom's previous experiments, made him completely unsuitable for any further rituals, But Dick didn't mind at all - he had come a long way from just another stupid snake living under a rock in some overgrown back yard.

The last two Hogwarts years were quite uneventful for the little snake. Tom was laying low, solidifying his alliances amongst the Slytherin students, while Dick was spending most of his time disillusioned, spying upon other students and passing information back to his human friend. The biggest event during that period came in Tom's seventh year. At the Halloween, he had performed an ancient bounding ritual, making Dick into his official familiar. Later that year, Tom had graduated with highest distinctions, as the first student in his class. While receiving his diploma, Dick was firmly curled around his arm.

Following years were a blur for the little snake. Constant travels around the world, training under various masters, seeking out rare volumes, gathering finances and allies and of course, performing highly dangerous, experimental rituals. Dick was there all the way, witnessing every step of his bonded transformation from an ambitious little boy, into a ruthless Dark Lord. Dick also noticed that his aging was unnaturally prolonged, but he attributed that to various rituals that were performed upon him in his youth.

Finally, the time had came for Tom to return to England and put his plans into motion. That moment also signaled breaking of paths between the Dark Lord and his long-time companion. Dick first noticed that something was wrong when Tom requested that none of his new followers were to see them together. Alarm bells started ringing in his head when Tom acquired a young Amazonian anaconda named Nagini and started carrying her around at all times. Dick was just about to confront his bounded about his plans, when he was hit by a stunner. He woke up inside a cage, Lord Voldemort looking at him sadly from the other side of the bars.

Tom immediately started apologizing for what he was about to do. He explained that, as a Dark Lord, he had a certain reputation to uphold. A two foot snake, how ever magical or faithful it was, just wasn't awe-inspiring enough to be recognized as the Dark Lord's official familiar. Furthermore, a peaceful parting of ways wasn't possible because of familiarity bond between them. He explained that this bond occupied specific part of person's soul, called the Anima Animantis . Unfortunately, this special place could be used only for a single purpose, be it Animagus transformation, werewolf curse or a single 'familiarity' bond with a certain magical animal. Tom sheepishly explained that this bond would have to be severed forcefully, before the new one could be formed between himself and Nagini. He then added that Dick would be used in a ritual that would transfer all of his memories to Nagini, who was gleefully watching the proceedings from a corner of the room.

Dick was, to say mildly, appalled by this treachery. He briefly considered pleading for his life and calling on his life-long friendship with Tom, but he immediately realized the futileness of that act. Dick had always known that Tom strived for absolute power, and used concepts like loyalty, tradition, love and friendship only as tools on this quest. Dick just never imagined that he would ever be the one to end up on the receiving end of this philosophy.

After a few more apologies and some parting words, Tom and Nagini had left the room. That was the last time Dick had seen his bonded in person. His subsequent years were heavily marked by the shadow of his former friend, but some final words are yet to be exchanged.

Several minutes later, another man entered the room. With a pang of dread, Dick recognized him as Voldemort's official potion master. His job was to prepare Dick for the ritual, by 'harvesting' a few body parts needed as a blood-base for the ritual's potions. He put Dick under the Impedimenta curse and released him from the cage. The man then started preparing his tools at a leisurely rate, while Dick was helplessly watching him, laying immobilized on the desktop. And that was the biggest and last mistake the potion master had made in his life.

Tom's need-to-know policy was very useful for an illegal organization, such as his little circle of conspirators, but in this case, it had spectacularly backfired upon its creator. The potion master had no idea that Tom had performed a number of rituals on Dick, imparting him with a fair dose of magic. For him, Dick was just an ordinary adder that should have stayed under the curse for at least an hour.

Still, it was a very close call. Only with the adrenaline shock he received when the man started cutting his eye out, Dick managed to shake off the curse and bite the potion master's hand. Still hurting from the cut and betrayal, Dick viciously bit a few more times, letting all of his frustration and anger spill out. The old man quickly fell down convulsing on the floor, poison from the bite on his neck quickly reaching his central nervous system. From then on, it was ridiculously easy for Dick to disillusion himself, slip through the halls of Voldemort's base of operation and sneak out with some Death Eaters, using the secure floo connection.

But Dick's problems were far from over. He knew that Tom would soon learn of his escape and activate his spying network to search for him. Besides Tom, Dick was the only one who knew about this network, and that was only because he had helped create it.

Everyone knew that, after his return to Britain, Tom had made it his business to create a vast network of allies and associates all over the country. But what no one except Dick knew was that this network included snakes as well as people. Tom and Dick had spent one whole year doing nothing but traveling around the country and speaking with wild snakes. Actually, Tom had made quite a name for himself amongst the British serpent population. Man-speaker, they called him, spreading the word of this strange man-serpent over the grapevine.

During his quest, Tom had selected more than three hundred snakes evenly spread out across Britain and altered them into beacons of a sort he could use to spread out his orders. A few simple rituals were all it took for Tom to enchant the serpents' intelligence, add a mild suggestive aura around them, link their minds to several nexus objects in his possession and generally make them into his zealous followers.

If Tom ever needed to locate a person, all he had to do was find an item carrying said person's scent and then perform a few spells of his own design on one of his nexus objects. Information about the target's scent would immediately travel to the minds of hundreds of his snake acolytes all over the country. They would then spread the word of the man-speaker's target to any snake they could find in their immediate vicinity, with instructions to spread on. The mild suggestive aura his acolytes were radiating made sure that memory of the great man-speaker's request, along with promises of rich rewards for the finder, stayed permanently etched in the dim-witted snakes' minds.

Thus, Tom had achieved with British snakes what was his ultimate ambition with humans all over the world - he became their God, with his modified zealots acting like organized religion and manipulating general populace into doing his bidding. Many light wizards who tried to hide themselves in huts and cabins spread all over the British countryside were mightily surprised when Death Eaters knocked on their door, after one of Tom's zealots sent off mind-signal, snitching out their location.

Thus, Dick knew that it was only a matter of time before he was found out and captured. Tom's serpentine network was slow to activate, but once the word was spread, there was no place in Britain safe for the target. Thankfully, Dick came up with a brilliant idea on how to hide himself. The best way to hide is in plain view, he thought, as he found his way into Diagon Alley public floo and then slithered to Magical Menagerie. He allowed himself to get captured and put in a cage with other snakes. Inside, he was finally safe from his ex-friend's intelligence network. Snakes inside the cage were freshly bred and had no idea of the outside world. And even if some zealot happened to pass nearby, the smell of the other snakes in the cage would easily hide Dick's own scent, protecting him from the pursuit.

Dick had spent next several years in that cage, laying low and generally trying to stay out of sight. His injury proved to be a blessing here, making sure that he was not sold out as someone's cute little pet. He was also displaying just enough of his unique abilities to keep the owner, Sheridan, interested in him, but still didn't make himself look important enough for her to blab around much.

Then, several years later, Dick had sensed a giant impact coming through his familiarity bond. After Tom's treachery, the link between them had somewhat weakened, but it was still strong enough for Dick to sense that Tom was hurt really badly and hiding somewhere far away. This was confirmed by listening in to the people visiting the shop, before all the snakes were removed from the honorary place in the front, and dumped in a dusty corner, far away from the public view.

Dick knew that Tom's entire organization was probably in disarray and that he would have a good chance of slipping through the countryside and out of Britain. But then, what used to be his salvation, turned into a prison. His initial display of power and intelligence was now working against him, making sure that his every escape attempt was eventually discovered and prevented. After some time, it all turned into a game, a pastime to make Dick's prison life more interesting and his place in the shop secured.

Tom's return two years ago hadn't changed much at all, save for better living conditions. Dick had already resigned himself to spending the rest of his life in captivity.
------------------------------------
»And then I came into the picture,« finished Harry Dick's life story.

»Yes... I'm grateful for you buying me off and all, but don't think that I'm not mad anymore for that prank you've pulled,« warned Dick.

Harry just nodded numbly, still trying to process all that he had heard from his new pet. Then he started snickering and shaking his head.

»What?« asked Dick.

»It's funny. You've just told me all this stuff, about Slytherin's personal library and Voldemort's top-secret intelligence network and the way Snape had gotten his ticket to the Inner Circle, but all I can think of is... Why in the world would Dark Lord Voldemort name his familiar 'Dick?',« Harry snorted and shook his head again.

»Don't be ridiculous!,« snapped Dick. »I was named Dick in the pet-shop. Tom had actually called me...« But then he stopped in mid-sentence.

»What? Come on, you can tell me,«

Dick murmured something under his breath, looking very embarrassed all of a sudden.

»What?« Harry asked.

»It was Baron Gottschalk Ophiuchus Goebbels the Second, OK?« snapped Dick irritably. »As a kid, Tom had been fascinated with Nazi Germany and this guy named Hitler in particular. He could go on yapping for hours about his discipline and ruthlessness and intelligence, yada, yada, yada. Boy, that kid could talk. If you think my name was bad, you should hear some of the other names he invented for his snakes,« explained Dick, trying to overpower Harry's snickering.

»'Goebbels the Second?' What the hell happened with the first one?« Harry managed to stutter through his laughter.

»Was a small fellow, got eaten by one of the orphan's pet cats,« explained Dick quietly, starting a new bout of laughter from Harry. »Ok, ok, enough about names. God knows I've had enough bad luck with them!« snapped Dick just when Harry was about to ask another question.

»Enough bad luck?« asked sobered Harry. »Why, what's wrong with Dick? Actually, now that I think about it, who in the world would name a snake 'Dick,' anyway?«

»Nobody, it's just... it doesn't matter, really...« murmured Dick embarrassedly.

»Oh come on, do tell me. I won't laugh... much,« Harry said eagerly.

»Well, at first, everyone just kept calling me 'one-eyed snake'. And then, someone just blurted out 'dick'. They played for a while with 'prick' and 'cock' as well, but in the end, 'Dick' kinda stuck around...« The little snake gave Harry an annoyed look, his words lost in a new bout of laughter. »Yes, yes laugh it out. I should have just stayed in my bush and told Tom to go screw himself and his human customs,« the little snake muttered irritably.

Harry's laughter was rudely interrupted when 'his' phoenix appeared in a flash and flew to his favorite resting place, on top of the cupboard. He was obviously back from another one of his daily excursions to Lord knows where. Harry suspected that these disappearances were nothing more sinister than simple hunting trips, seeing how the bird stubbornly refused any kind of food Harry had offered him. Still, there was always a pang of fear that the bird would one day return bringing his true master along with him, or that he wouldn't return at all. In this past week and a half, Harry has actually gotten quite used to the phoenix's silent companionship. It felt nice knowing there was always someone looking after him, ready to help in case he screwed up, but otherwise, staying out of his way.

As soon as he settled down, the phoenix whipped his head around and gave Dick a penetrating look. For a moment there, something akin to recognition shone in the bird's huge eyes, before he turned back to observing the room in general, seemingly forgetting all about the snake.

At the same time, Dick was franticly flicking his tongue in the air, tasting the new scent in the room. All the while, he was watching the bird intently, unreadable expression in his eye.

»Is that truly a phoenix?« he asked Harry, almost incredulously.

»Yes, I believe he is,« he answered, ignoring a dirty look he had received from the said bird.

Dick said nothing, but just kept staring at the bird, as if afraid it would disappear if he looked away.

»Err, Dick? Are you OK there?« Harry interrupted the ensued silence.

»Eh? Oh, I'm fine, never mind... Err, it won't try to eat me, right?« he asked, glancing back at the pompous looking bird.

"Hey, Blue! You be a good boy and stay away from Dick here, OK?" said Harry to the phoenix. The bird gave Harry another angry glare and then huffed and straightened himself up imperiously, like Harry's concerns were too much below his level to even earn his attention.

»Err, I think that means 'no',« said Harry to Dick unsurely.

»Good. But just so you know, if that damn featherhead go out and eats me, I won't speak to you ever again,« said the snake back with some conviction.

Harry nodded back, deciding to hold back a sarcastic comment and get their conversation back on track. Dick was fun to talk with, but he had a job to do.

»Ok, Dick, I'll keep that in mind. Now, would you like to know why I bought you in the first place? And no, it's not for the potion ingredients,« he added as he saw Dick's eyes dart to the discarded potions book.

»Why?« Dick asked apprehensively.

»I need a snake to help me fight Tom, your old master,«

Dick's eye's narrowed in suspicion. »Are you sure you know what are you doing? Tom is a backstabbing bastard alright, but he's good. Very good. Actually, he's probably the most dangerous human I've ever met.«

»I won't lie to you. Even thought our magical powers should be about the same, I'm nowhere near his skill level and knowledge. That's where you come in. I have a few plans that should help me reach his level faster, but I need your help to make them work.«

»Hmm... And you need me as a partner in crime, so to speak? Not a pet, or a tool to throw away once you're done with it?«

Harry gave Dick a penetrating look. »I won't deny that your knowledge would be a great asset in the fight against Voldemort. But the truth is, I kinda... need some company.« Harry shifted nervously but kept his eyes trailed on Dick. He was never before this direct with his feelings, but he figured that little fellow deserved his complete honesty, after all he's been through. »You see, there's no way I could command any kind of respect from other people, least of all Aurors, with my current dueling skill, general magical knowledge and life experience. So, I'll have to be in this thing alone for a very long time to come. I guess what I'm saying is... I really could use someone to talk every once in a while,« finished Harry, his eyes locked with Dick's, trying to relay sincerity.

After a few seconds, Dick was the one to break the silence. »I'm out of cages for good.«

»Done.«

»And you are not my master, but partner. I'm doing this on my own free will.«

»Understandable.«

»And... And I get to kill that bitch Nagini.«

»She's all yours,« reassured Harry, not exactly sure how was his new friend intending to deal with that monstrosity.

»Deal!«

»Shake hands for it?«

»Sur... Hey!«

Harry just snickered as he removed Dick from the tank and banished it to his storage room. He then lolled back comfortably, letting Dick slither over his stomach.

»Well now,« hissed Dick from Harry's chest, »why don't we start by you giving me your life story, since I've already given you mine? And than we can discuss finer points of this big plan of yours.«

»Hey, since when are you the one calling the shots around here?« replied Harry indignantly.

»Alright, oh wise one. Why don't you tell me what we should do? www-brantacan-org-uk/adders-htm

Some parts were inspired by one of the action scenes from the movie "Desperado".

The concept of remotely activated wands was used before in Draco664's story "Apprentice Potter" (draco664-fanficauthors-net).

The encyclopedias I've used for reference are Britannica 2005 and Wikipedia (www-wikipedia-org).

I don't own any intellectual property mentioned above.
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