Dumbledore was confused and worried. Two days ago, Harry Potter suddenly vanished out of a supposedly secure building. It had been during an Order meeting and unfortunately, at that time no one was with him hence why nobody knew how or when the boy exactly disappeared. The other problem was that they only got to know about his disappearance the next morning. The Weasley boy said that he thought Potter was sleeping in his bed and didn’t want to be disturbed but when the boy didn’t show up for breakfast the next day they grew curious. Walking into the room and pulling the cover back, they found out that it had been stuffed with a pillow making it look like someone was sleeping under it.
The first thing Dumbledore did upon getting to know about it was to call in the Order again and sending them all out to search for the boy starting with the most possible places to where he might have gone. However, he neither was to be found in the Leaky Cauldron, nor in Diagon Alley itself, and Hogsmead also came out negative. The only hint they got was that some cloaked and hooded figure asked the driver of the Knight Bus whether it might be possible to be brought to the Malfoy manor. Said person was picked up at the Leaky Cauldron. Sure, it was suspicious that someone drove via the Knight Bus to the Malfoys since people normally flooed or apparated there but it also could have been someone too drunk to use those other means properly. Dumbledore also doubted that Potter would go to the Malfoys voluntarily.
Talking with Snape about it once the man returned from Voldemort’s mission for him the potions master only told him that it was most likely Draco since Lucius closed the manor’s floo connection fearing that the Dark Lord might come after him. To the question why the boy was cloaked and hooded Snape only snorted and replied that, a Malfoy could hardly be seen travelling this far beneath their standards.
It was evening now and at the moment Dumbledore paced through his office concerned where the boy disappeared to especially with Voldemort out and about. Should a Death Eater get a hold on him…Dumbledore didn’t want to think about this possibility. He needed Potter to win the war and therefore it would be bad should the boy be dead.
Perhaps he should train the boy personally once he was back in the security of Grimmauld Place. On the other hand, this might be contra productive to his plans. For them to work out the boy had to sacrifice himself so that Voldemort would be mortal again and he himself could defeat him. Yes, once he did so everyone would again look to him for guidance as they did after he defeated Grindelwald and not shun him as they did now. However therefore the boy had to be just powerful enough to survive until all the other Horcruxes were destroyed. It wouldn’t do after all if the boy defeated Voldemort himself. Luckily, the curse Voldemort placed on the post for the DADA course prevented any proper education in this field.
Speaking of the teacher for DADA. He also needed to find a new one before the letters for the next year went out together with the book list. Not only that, the Ministry tried to get one of their own people placed in Hogwarts through this post. Up to now, Dumbledore had been able to prevent this but unfortunately rumours that this spot was cursed made the round and prevented any serious applicant or any applicant at all as it was. Shouldn’t he find someone he would have to take the one the Ministry dedicated.
He sighed sitting down behind his desk starting to sort through his mail. Hopefully, his Order members will find Potter soon.
The next days and weeks were hard for Harry. Voldemort was a strict but good teacher. In a few days he learned more about spell casting than in all the years at Hogwarts. They started with things like how to hold a wand properly so that you couldn’t be disarmed that easily to the right wand movements in order to cast a spell effectively without any needless movements. The Dark Lord patiently explained everything but should Harry fail after the third time or make stupid mistakes he quickly got to feel his ire.
Every evening Harry fell into his bed completely exhausted. It was a murderous and strenuous pace, he had to go through but in his opinion, it was totally worth it. His reaction time and aim already improved massively not to mention the arsenal of spells he had at his disposal. To say that the Dark Lord was appalled of how backwards Hogwarts became under Dumbledore’s regime would be an understatement. He was outright furious and they could only continue their training after he blew up a few dummies and tortured one of his Death Eaters who had the unfortunate luck to enter the trainings room at that time. However, the most interesting lesson in his opinion was the first one.
“My Lord, I have a question,” he said when they arrived in the trainings room. The Dark Lord only rose an eyebrow so he continued. “When Professor Snape asked me to cast a Patronus Charm in order to see whether I’m still able to create one…something strange happened” he drew his wand. “Expecto Patronum!”
As before not the silver stag but the black snake appeared.
“Well, that certainly is interesting. I never heard of someone so far gone towards the dark…evil whatever you may call us, is still able to perform this spell. Even I myself am not able to cast it” he stepped towards the Patronus in order to examine it only to be hissed at.
“One step closer and I’ll kill you,” the black snake hissed.
“I neither mean you nor your owner harm,” Voldemort hissed back in surprise.
“That remains to be seen” the snake slithered over to Harry crawled up on him to rest on his shoulder.
It seemed that this Patronus didn’t dissipate once it wasn’t used anymore but decided itself when to vanish since it remained there the entire lesson eying Voldemort critically. Even Harry’s tries to convince it to go were fruitless. Voldemort though thought that Harry speaking parseltongue sounded very good. It was a deep but soft hissing standing in contrast to the boy’s otherwise aggressive and cold demeanour. However, he quickly banned those thoughts not wanting to be distracted.
The lessons continued over the next few weeks. They were expended by lessons about how to fight with weapons like knives, as well as charms and transfiguration techniques. Sometimes it gave you the advantage of a surprise using such means because who might expect you to suddenly transform a stone into a vicious dog in the middle of a fight or throw a knife at your opponent? In that regards, the Dark Lord also demanded of Snape to teach him Potions.
Surprisingly Snape wasn’t a snarky git when teaching him personally and didn’t loom over him all the time like he did normally in class. This resulted in a huge improvement in Harry’s work. Another bonus of these lessons was that they could continue their conversation from when Harry got his wand.
“So, why joining the Dark Lord?” he suddenly asked during a lesson without any preamble.
“As I said think about everything Dumbledore did to me…” Harry replied continuing chopping up an ingredient.
“I understand your desire to get away from that old fool but that doesn’t automatically induce the necessity of becoming the Dark Lord’s follower,” Snape remarked.
“True, but to whom should I have gone instead? The Ministry? They are only sheep and pawns of either Dumbledore or the Dark Lord,” Harry snorted. “And the rest of the magical population isn’t any different. Once they don’t have anyone who tells them what to do they either start to run around like headless chicken or lay on the back and play dead in hope that the others buy it and no one calls them to account for what they did.”
“You could have created your own side in this war, Harry.”
“And make enemies of two of the most powerful wizards alive? I’m not suicidal,” he deadpanned.
Snape chuckled lowly. “You seem to have forgotten how powerful you are yourself.”
“I am but one man and not even that trapped between two massive armies. You’re right, I’m powerful myself but do you really think I would have lasted under those conditions…alone?” he shook his head sighing basing himself on the table with his hands.
“You’re not as alone as you might think,” the man replied in a soft voice.
Harry laughed a bitter laugh. “Who is there? Black? He sucks up everything Dumbledore says as well as my friends,” he spat the last word with so much venom that it surprised Snape. “Lupin follows Black like a good dog, I wouldn’t be surprised should they be lovers…and the teachers are also on Dumbledore’s side except you. That brings me to a question…why did you even help me and save my life several times? I mean you hate me…hated me…I don’t know,” he again shook his head making some nondescript gesture with his hand. “No, I’m truly alone,” perhaps this was also the reason why he wanted to prove himself in front of Voldemort to gain finally some acknowledgment for his abilities. However in the end even the Dark Lord only wanted to use him as a weapon but at least with him he could show his true self and not some façade everyone wanted to see from him.
Snape seemed to be lost in thoughts for a few minutes before he finally replied. “It is true that I hated you at the beginning. I thought you a spoiled brat that loved to bath in the limelight of his fame. Then there was the strong resemblance to your father. You should get to know that he didn’t treat me well. He and his merry band of idiots bullied me only because I was friends with your mother,” Harry listened intently hearing how hard it was for the man to admit even that much. “Did you know that I asked the Dark Lord to spare her when I got to know that he wanted to attack them?”
Harry leaned back looking at his professor strangely. It was a really good thing that the potion he brewed was in a stadium where it required to simmer for quite some time because otherwise it would have already exploded due to the neglect. “I didn’t know that but…now it makes sense,” Snape rose an eyebrow upon that. “I remember that night ever since my first encounter with the Dementors in the third year and I always wondered why he asked her to step aside. Though she refused and begged him to spare me and take her instead.”
Snape slumped back against a table behind him and hadn’t it given him the needed hold he would have sunken down to the floor. His face showed emotions ranging from shock over surprise to relieve. “So he kept his promise,” his voice was a mere whisper. Harry didn’t need to guess whom he was referring to.
“You didn’t know?” Harry asked in surprise.
“Merlin no. All that time I though he simply killed her to get to you,” he looked towards the door to make sure that Voldemort wouldn’t burst in any moment. “I mean the Dark Lord never was the sanest person but shortly before his downfall it grew worse, he grew obsessed with killing innocent babies…because of me,” he went through his hair with a hand while looking on the floor. Right at that moment, he looked like he aged for ten years in mere seconds.
Harry grew curious. “What do you mean?”
“I told him something I probably shouldn’t have,” he answered evasively but Harry became irritated by it letting his iron tight grip on his magic slip a bit resulting in it becoming palpable.
“Severus, I respect you a great deal so please don’t make the same mistake as the old fool and keep important information regarding me from me,” he growled in an ice cold tone before raining his magic back in taking a deep breath.
Snape however gulped audibly observing the boy with trepidation. “I told him about a prophecy I overheard a few month before you were born. However at that time I knew only a part of it and got to know the whole thing a few years later,” Harry rose an eyebrow as if to say he shall go on. “In the exact wording it goes that way:
The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches…
Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies…
and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not…
and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives…
The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…”
Harry blinked a few times before starting to snicker which turned in outright laugher shortly after. “Oh this is simply hilarious. It seems that Dumbledore managed to achieve what the Dark Lord sought for all his life with one simple prophecy,” he said after cooling down a bit.
Snape however was confused. “What might that be?”
“How do you know that?”
“Let’s just say that the Dark Lord can get quite chatty…” Harry answered but Snape interrupted him.
“I’m sorry; I should have clarified what I meant. How do you know that he is immortal now through that prophecy?” Snape inquired.
“Because of one line:
And either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives.
The part of either must die of the hand of the other is the significant one. It simply means that it is mandatory that one of us dies at the hand of the other and that as long it isn’t the respective other we cannot die since the requirement isn’t fulfilled.”
“But doesn’t that mean that you will kill each other in the end?” confusion clearly in his voice.
“Not necessarily. The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches. The entire thing only states that there is someone – namely me as it seems – that theoretically and in the case that the stars are in the right position, the wind breezes from south-east and the butterfly in China bats his wings at the right time could defeat the Dark Lord, if he wants to. Not one word in this entire thing makes it mandatory. The only thing that is fix is that if one of us dies it has to be executed by the respective other,” he explained. “The rest of the prophecy is only making clear to who is the person to defeat the Dark Lord and useless babbling giving a reason to why it has to happen. It could also say because the colour red is ugly and it would have the same effect…none. Even if it would have an effect it would be nullified by the simple fact that neither of us is simply surviving,” Harry snickered.
Thinking the reasoning over Snape had to admit that the boy had an argument but he wasn’t completely convinced. “Indeed, but are you really sure about this? What if you’re wrong…?”
“I am sure…” Harry sighed not knowing how to convince his professor when he saw a movement out of the corner of his eye. With a malicious glee in his eyes, he shot a stunner at the rat hiding under one of the tables before picking him up and reviving him. What followed then Snape watched with horror. “Wormtail, you come just at the right time. Transform back I have a task for you,” he ordered the rat. After some squirming around the rat did as asked. “Good. I know that you’re able to perform the Killing Curse…use it on me.”
The rat backed away from the teen squeaking while Snape made a choking sound. “What?” was the only thing that disgusting piece of human shit could think of voicing exactly what the potions master was thinking.
“I said use the Killing Curse on me or do I have to convince you?” his crimson eyes were sparkling with an unholy glee.
“And here I thought you weren’t suicidal, Harry,” Snape sighed.
With another squeaking, the man pulled his wand pointing it at Harry with shaking hands.
“Come on I don’t have all da…” Harry wanted to say, but was interrupted.
The green light sped towards Harry but what Pettigrew didn’t anticipate was that the curse didn’t touch the boy but rebounded shortly beforehand and flew towards himself. Too stunned to do anything he were hit and instantly dead falling to the floor. Snape on the other hand stood there like a statue and pale as a bedsheet. Harry laughed his ass of when suddenly the door to the potions lab opened and an irritated Dark Lord entered.
“Potter, I didn’t know that potions was so amusing,” that was when his gaze fell on the dead Wormtail on the floor. “What happened here? Did you kill him?” he asked Harry pressing his wand under the boy’s chin. He allowed him to use the rat for target practise not to kill him.
Harry on the other hand grinned victoriously. “No, technically spoken he killed himself,” he snickered.
Voldemort was on the verge to curse him when he asserted that the boy looked him straight into the eyes. Without any delay or preamble, he invaded his mind to find the entire conversation with Snape laying bare before him. The more he saw the more he grew shocked, surprised and concerned in the end however, his eyes lit up in realization.
“So that is why the mark didn’t work,” he whispered more to himself taking the wand down looking at Pettigrew in awe and surprise. It took a few seconds before he regained his composure. “From now on Snape will take over your duelling lessons,” he ordered before leaving the room in haste.
“Great, more lessons with you” Snape sneered.
“See it that way, you can curse me all you like without having to fear that you might kill me,” Harry laughed in reply.
“You’re insane. Utterly and completely insane,” Snape muttered.
“But thank you, Severus,” Harry replied with a maniacally grin.
After that, lessons went on as usual only that Snape now was Harry’s duelling partner instead of the Dark Lord. The Dark Lord though observed each lesson their duels and corrected Harry’s mistakes. At one point, he even started to correct Snape much to Harry’s amusement. That was until one day Snape managed to land a hit with a dark cutting curse that ripped open his entire left side. Voldemort who sat in his normal chair ordered Snape quickly to fetch the healer while approaching Harry.
“Lift your shirt,” he ordered in a no-nonsense voice.
Harry however backed away from the man and shook his head. “It’s okay, this is nothing.”
“Lift. Your. Shirt!” his voice grew cold but the boy only backed further away. Fed up with it he banished the shirt with a flick of his wand, grabbed Harry at his left wrist and pulled the boy towards him so that he could inspect the wound.
Harry took a sharp breath upon the sudden influx of pain but quickly started to panic. He didn’t want that man to see this, his greatest secret, his greatest shame. The proof that he was weak. He feared that once the Dark Lord got to know of it he would cast him out disgusted that he wasn’t even able to defend himself against mere muggles. Up to now he was able to hide the memories successfully in the depth of his mind during their mind reading sessions and since the Dark Lord never dug deep enough he didn’t know but this he couldn’t hide. He heard Voldemort gasping before he was yanked back around so that he looked the man straight into the eyes.
“Who?” he growled in a dangerously low voice.
Harry didn’t answer him quivering under the intense glare.
“Don’t make me ask again,” the Dark Lord grabbed his chin quite painfully which resulted in quite the opposite reaction than intended though.
Harry straightened his resolve. “This is none of your damned business,” he spat daring the man who still hold his chin to enter his mind in order to search for the answers himself.
Voldemort’s eyes widened slightly before he let go of the boy’s chin. He just wanted to reply something when the door opened behind him and Snape entered together with the healer.
“My Lord,” both man said simultaneously bowing before Voldemort. “I brought you Healer Laxley as you commanded,” Snape added.
With a last glance at Harry, the Dark Lord let go of him and turned around. “Heal him,” he ordered Laxley while sitting down in his chair again observing everything brooding over what he just saw.
Laxley walked over to Harry his wand drawn. Harry observed that critically but didn’t move.
“Are there any potions you are allergic to?” the man asked in a professional tone after cleaning and healing the wound.
That surprised Harry. In all the years he had been at Hogwarts and the many times at its infirmary, he never got asked this question.
“Uhm…not that I know of,” he answered truthfully.
“You have no idea whether you’re allergic to any potion?” the man inquired in disbelieve upon which Harry shook his head. “Sure you have been injured or ill before in your life…”
“I never showed any sign of allergy to the potions I received if that is what you mean,” Harry now looked irritated not knowing what the man wanted from him.
This rose quite a few alarms in not only Snape. He however was the first one to voice his suspicion. “Has Pomfrey ever cast a full body scan on you?” he asked with trepidation not really wanting to know the answer.
Harry looked at his potions professor. “I actually don’t know. She casted quite a few diagnostic charms on me as you might know and I also was unconscious a few times as you also know.”
“You would know since the spell takes about forty minutes to cast and it can’t be cast on someone unconscious or sleeping since it would end up in false results,” the healer answered before looking anxiously from Snape to Voldemort and back.
Harry also looked at Voldemort but what he saw there left him completely stunned. The Dark Lord was seething with rage. But why? Surely not because he didn’t get a proper medical treatment.
The Dark Lord sat there his arms crossed over his chest in order to restrain himself from cursing everything and everyone in range. How dared Dumbledore to deny Harry a proper magical treatment? However, the better question was why did he even care? Since when did he care for the health of any of his followers? It wasn’t that Harry could die any other way than through his person as the boy so spectacularly demonstrated. Nonetheless getting to know how the boy had been treated by not only Dumbledore but also someone else he didn’t know of yet infuriated him tremendously.
“It looks like the rest of your afternoon lessons just got replaced, Potter,” he bit out.
“My Lord?” asked Laxley and Harry unison, Laxley in questioning and Harry with slight fear.
“As it seems some medical attention is long overdue, Potter,” the Dark Lord snarled while standing up and walking towards the door.
“My Lord, it is quite okay. There is no need to waste any time with this,” Harry blurted out quickly. He didn’t want this…not here…not in front of Voldemort. It might not be the man himself he feared but the Dark Lords opinion of him even more. Harry knew that it was irrational that he cared about what Voldemort thought about him but he couldn’t help it. He wanted that man to be impressed about his power not disgusted over how weak he in reality was and the man already saw too much for his liking.
“Ah, so it is okay with you if a faulty treatment either cripples you or your magic?” the Dark Lord mustered his sweetest smile upon which the other two men cringed, the Dark Lord never smiled. Harry on the other hand blanched which let the smile transform into a smirk. “Thought as much.”
The Dark Lord turned around and left the room obviously expecting the others to follow him. Harry did so even if reluctantly. It felt like he was led to the slaughterhouse and not a medical examination. How could his life spin out of his hold again? Sure, the last few weeks had been hard but it was his own choice for it to be that way. Now however the Dark Lord would get to know about his past and then he will surely cast him out deeming him unworthy of his attention. Oh, how he wanted to kill Dumbledore right now for everything he did to him.
Snape who could feel Harry’s mood take a turn from depressed and slightly anxious to outright murderous walked up to him and was now on the same height as the boy. “What changed your mood so drastically, Harry?” he simply asked in a low voice.
“Oh, I just thought about how dead Dumbledore will be should I ever meet him again and about a thousand ways to achieve it. It seems that he is able ruin my life over and over again,” he growled.
Before Snape could ask him what he meant by that they reached the doors to Harry’s rooms. Voldemort opened them with a flick of his hand and walked straight through to the bedroom where he waited for the others. Once they entered, he motioned Laxley to begin. The healer told Harry to lay down on his bed and relax. To Harry’s defence one has to say that he tried but with all those fears piling up it was quite hard.
Laxley started chanting over him and it took him as he said previously about forty minutes. Voldemort and Snape watched the entire time. Snape leaning against the wall and Voldemort sitting in a chair. When Laxley was finished with chanting a quite long piece of parchment came out of his wand. Snape’s eyes went wide seeing that. Even his last one hadn’t been that long and he was held under the Cruciatus and many other curses more often than he remembered.
The healer took his time to read the results. Harry in the meantime scrambled up and leaned against the headboard wrapping his arms around his legs and looking sick Voldemort noticed. When the Dark Lord looked back at Laxley, he saw that the man looked equally sick now.
“And?” Voldemort inquired impatiently.
“This…this…” Laxley started but his voice failed. Instead, he simply hold the parchment out for the Dark Lord to take.
Snape pushed of the wall and walked behind the man to read the results over his shoulder. He was only half way through it when he suddenly bolted for the bathroom. They could hear how he regurgitated his last meal into the toilet. A few minutes later, he came back into the room still looking a bit green.
“I have to apologize, my Lord,” he said after drinking a stomach soother.
Voldemort however waved his hand dismissingly still reading the results. The only reason why the other two men didn’t also seek out the toilet was because Laxley drunk a stomach soother before it was too late and the Dark Lord simply was too furious to be sick.
“I knew that Dumbledore was a manipulative bastard and that he didn’t stop short of abuse but this is a new low even for him” he growled lowly his crimson red eyes sparkling with raw power barely restrained.
“What is it?” came a low voice from the bed. Harry finally looked at the three men again now more white than green in the face his fears forgotten. How bad could those results be?
“The good news is that you’re not allergic to any potion but this is the only good thing. I mean the abuse is bad as it is but what Dumbledore did to you…” Voldemort began seemingly having cooled down a bit or at least not showing his dismay anymore. “Bindings on your magic though it seems that there once were more of them which however shattered probably during your outburst in my throne room. Then bindings on your mind so that you learn slower and that you don’t have the memory you would normally have. Compulsion charms, loyalty potions, obedience potions…only to name a few things from that very long list,” now it was upon Harry to vomit though he didn’t manage to get into the bathroom. Once he stopped gaging, Snape absently vanished the vomit with a flick of his wand and gave him one of the stomach soothers. “To be honest I wonder how you managed to break free of Dumbledore and get to me, or being as powerful as you are.”
Harry feeling slightly better hummed upon that thinking about the time before he decided to leave. It took some time before he answered. “Actually it all started after the Dementor attack about a week before I came here. When I think about it now before it, everything was foggy and as soon as I had any not so friendly thought about Dumbledore it tended to vanish quite quickly as if it was unimportant. However after the attack it was as if the fog cleared a bit and I could think…” he fell silent again lost in thoughts.
“Perhaps being exposed to the Dementors negated some of the potions and bindings,” Voldemort mused.
“Then why didn’t it happen at the end of the third year? That time I was exposed to them not only longer but also to much more than the three this summer.”
“What was the difference between then and now?” the Dark Lord wanted to know.
“Well after the incident in the third year I landed in the infirmary for quite some time unconscious while this time I didn’t fall unconscious and stayed with my relatives until the trial,” Harry replied.
Voldemort nodded. “And the time between the trial and your disappearing from wherever you stayed? Did you change anything like not eating something you normally would?”
Harry hummed again. “I didn’t eat much at that time…actually I didn’t eat anything only shoved it from one side to the other but no one noticed and I only drank water.”
“That would explain the difference. Perhaps Dumbledore didn’t have the time to recast the magical compulsion charms thinking that for now the potions were enough but since you didn’t eat anything you didn’t ingest them and would he put them into the water you drank you would have known since the only potion you wouldn’t taste or see in water is Veritaserum.”
Harry absently nodded again lost in thoughts. “Strange…” he suddenly exclaimed.
“What is strange?” Laxley asked speaking up for the first time in this conversation.
“I just thought about that at the time when I entered Malfoy’s manor I didn’t care whether I get killed or not. It also didn’t concern me what others think about me but now…” he fell silent and blushed slightly looking down at his knees before shaking his head vigorously. This was crazy.
“Could there also have been bindings on his emotions, my Lord?” Snape inquired.
“Possibly though I know of none. Perhaps a combination of potions and compulsion charms?” the Dark Lord mused.
“Unlikely. I don’t know of any potion that would work that way, my Lord. Though it might be a recently invented one I don’t know of,” Snape shook his head.
“May it be as it is this is something we can think about later. Can you remove the spells and cleanse his system of the potions, Laxley?” Voldemort addressed the healer.
Laxley on the other hand shook his head. “I’m sorry my Lord, but I’m not good enough at curse breaking to safely remove them especially putting into account that Dumbledore was the one to cast them.”
Voldemort growled in displeasure. He himself was surely powerful enough to overpower Dumbledore’s spells but he was only proficient in breaking curses on objects where you hadn’t to be as subtle as with a person. Snape while quite good with dark curses was not sufficiently good with anything other. There was no way around it he needed a professional curse breaker. The problem with that? He had none within his ranks.