“M-Mr. P-p-Potter, w-what a-a-are y-you t-t-talking a-about?” the professor asked after turning around to him.
Why that sudden change of demeanour? While standing in front of the mirror he stood straight and had an aura of confidence around him and now that stuttering fool act again? That was not even taking into account that Harry knew exactly who was standing in front of him. He could feel a headache rising.
“Cut that act already. I know that you are not a stuttering idiot so please do us all a favour and stop it before I need Pomfrey for a headache potion,” he growled while walking over to a pillar. Leaning against it and crossing his arms over his chest, he showed neither fear nor worry that he was in the same room together with the man who killed his parents. “Oh and don’t try to deny that you are possessed by Voldemort because frankly spoken it is quite obvious.”
“You know I should kill you for your cockiness,” suddenly another deep, dark and slightly cruel voice echoed through the room.
“Ah finally the Dark Lord himself. Nice to meet you,” Harry grinned pushing of the pillar and walking over to the mirror. “Sure you could kill me but I think that would be quite counterproductive don’t you agree?” he said with a dismissive waiving of his hand.
“And why would that be?” Voldemort moved to the side of the mirror in order to look the boy into the face while putting down the ridiculous turban but Harry ignored him and concentrated on the mirror instead. His mirror image smiled at him.
Harry started to gesticulate towards the mirror in order to tell the thing what he wanted and that possibly yesterday. The Stone.
“What are you doing? One might think that you are mental,” Voldemort snickered now facing him himself.
“That’s coming from someone who is the face on the back of another man’s head. You give the Multiple Personality Disorder a whole new meaning,” he retorted before looking back into the mirror. “Oh come on and hurry up I have other things to do you stupid pile of crap,” why had everything always to be so nerve-rackingly slow. “There you go! Took you long enough,” he said after a while afore blowing the thing to smithereens with a blasting curse.
“What did you do that for?” Voldemort was intrigued and worried at the same time. Intrigued that the boy in front of him had nothing in common with the one he observed the entire year and worried because the stone was in the mirror the boy just shattered. The worry morphed in to anger though when Harry pulled out said stone and started to play with it. “Give me that stone and perhaps I’ll let you live.”
“Starting that killing nonsense again? Tzk, as I said it would do you no good and despite that don’t you want to know what I have to say?” Harry snapped looking him straight in the eyes while twisting the blood red stone between his fingers giving the wand in Voldemort’s hand only a brief glance. He leaned against the pillar once more.
The urge to curse the living daylight out of that brat was great but he restrained himself. He was missing something the boy obviously knew and with how he acted, it was nothing good. “Then start talking before I lose my patience completely.”
Harry looked at the man before him when realisation hit him. “You haven’t figured it out, have you? Oh, that’s rich,” he started to laugh. “The big bad Dark Lord with knowledge beyond comprehension didn’t figure it out in ten years while I only needed a few month.”
It took only a few seconds before the Dark Lord threw a Cruciatus at him but to the man’s utter mystification, absolutely nothing happened.
“You know you can’t hurt me,” Harry said with a grin after calming down. “In the worst case you would only hurt yourself, kill yourself. You really have no idea what I’m talking about?” he teasingly added after seeing the confused look on the other man’s face.
“Perhaps I can’t hurt you but what about your precious friends?” Voldemort hissed nearly falling into parseltoung.
“I don’t have friends only an assortment of useful idiots who think themselves my friends,” he made a discarding movement. “For all I care you could walk right into the great hall, start to kill everyone and I would be the last person stopping you. Well perhaps not everyone…not Malfoy and definitely not Snape he is too amusing for you to kill him. Oh and not Granger. I did not went through rescuing her from a troll only for her to be killed by you. She is far too useful in the researching area. Saved me a lot of time with my homework you know.”
That left Voldemort befuddled which in return ignited curiosity in Harry. Where was the legendary Slytherin mask of indifference? Well, all the better for him or was he just too good in reading the man? That would be something for contemplating later.
“Did you just say that you find Snape of all people amusing? The same man you have an ongoing feud with?”
“I thought you wanted to know the reason why you aren’t able to hurt me,” Harry sighed. “Yes, Snape and my little `feud´ with him is only a show for the old coot. Despite that I think we should hurry this up a bit because I doubt that my pawns take long to inform McGonagall or anyone else about the fact that we are down here,” he suddenly was fascinated with the stone in his hands.
“You are the one beating around the bush. Now tell me already what you mean,” Voldemort demanded. The rapid changes of attitude the boy displayed were grating on his nerves. One time he teased him to the blood and the other he ignored him completely.
Harry threw a quick glance at him before continuing tracing the bumps on the stone with his fingers. The Dark Lord who grew infinitely irritated attacked Harry again though this time physically. One might say that it was beneath a wizard to resort to the muggle way of fighting but right now, he had no other choice. If the boy was right, Merlin knows what might happen when he cursed him. Once he was about to hit the boy’s cheek with his fist a sharp jolt went through his hand and arm letting him grunt in pain.
“And here I thought you were smart. What part of you cannot hurt me did you not understand? If you don’t distract me again I’ll explain, satisfied?” Harry stated as if he was commenting on the weather while the man in front of him simply nodded massaging his right hand. “First I want you to know that I have no concrete proof of what happened it is just the most likely course of action. I assume that you when accepting Snape as your follower promised him to spare my mother?” he knew that tidbit already from Snape himself but he needed Voldemort to admit it who just nodded. “Thought as much. You know magic can sometimes be quite tricky and a simple promise ends up as an unbreakable vow without one noticing it. In this case, you promised Snape to spare my mother, perhaps not even meaning it at that time but that is unimportant right now. It became important later though when you encountered my mother asking her to step aside to be precisely. What first was just a promise now became a vow instead because you meant it at that time as of your openly shown intention to follow the promise. On the other hand, said vow became null and void when my mother declined to step aside three times. Now magic saw the vow fulfilled and therefore nothing happened when you killed her. What mattered however was, what the last words of my mother were. Do you remember what she said, or better asked from you?”
“As if I remember the ramblings of everyone I killed? Do you know how many beg you to spare them or to show mercy? At some point you just tune them out.”
“True, but a pity because in that special case you should have listened for once. My mother begged you to spare me and kill her instead,” Harry observed how the first puzzling look morphed into realization after a few seconds.
“It is the same as with the promise towards Snape. With killing her first magic thought I would take her upon her request and made it a vow and when I tried to kill you magic intervened and my curse backfired. Would I have killed you first instead nothing would have happened, you and your mother would be dead and I alive,” Voldemort muttered horror tainting his voice.
“Bing, Bing, Bing, the Dark Lord wins today’s pop quiz and gets an O with a star,” Harry was even shooting some sparkles over the man with his wand.
“You…” said man growled about this utter lack of respect. Damn that bloody woman that he could not curse him. Talking about curses…why had not anything happened when he cast the Cruciatus curse, while trying to hit him physically induced pain. He voiced this question.
“Intention, Voldie, magic is all around intention. While you are unable to hurt me without my consent, I can control how much pain you have to endure when trying to hurt me. Nevertheless, I am only able to inflict as much damage as you would with your method. Please don’t ask me how it exactly works the book I read wasn’t very informative about that tidbit but I think that magic simply gives me the ability to decide the punishment for your actions,” Harry shrugged again toying with the stone he still hold much to Voldemort’s annoyance.
“I don’t know whether I should be astonished of the amount of knowledge you possess or curse you into the next week for your lack of respect towards me,” Voldemort was fingering his wand.
“Really? I should let you feel the full brunt of the next Cruciatus you throw my way, perhaps then you understand that you can’t touch me…idiot,” Voldemort clenched his hand into a fist so hard that he actually drew blood. “And to the knowledge I possess…do you really think Granger is the only one who can read? Malfoy was quite informative about books I should take a look into and the restricted section provides interesting reading material but right now I am really questioning whether I should make my proposal as I originally intended to.”
“What proposal?” the Dark Lord growled.
“It seems that I have something that you want while you can help me with a small problem in return,” Harry said while throwing the stone upwards before catching it again. Voldemort rose one of his non-existent eyebrows questioningly eyeing the stone greedily. “There are a few…individuals I want to let suffer before getting rid of them ultimately. My so-called family consisting of my aunt, uncle and cousin. The problem is that I cannot take care of them myself without violating the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery not to mention the International Statute of Secrecy since they are muggles and at the same time alarming a certain goat. So my offer is the following: For the stone you take care of my little problem before the term ends.”
“Why before the end of term?” the entire thing piqued his interest. The boy was an enigma to him. One time he ignored him completely, the other he teased him to the point that he wanted nothing more than to curse the boy and now he wanted to help him. The thought that this boy was only a mere puppet in Dumbledore’s hands went out through the window a long time ago. He was a true snake hiding within a lion’s hide that he proved especially by this `offer´. Only a snake would demand something in return for a deed done.
Harry huffed. “Would you wanted to be treated worse than the lowest house elf? Being beaten to unconsciousness repeatedly? Not to mention starved? I simply do not want to return to them for one single day, to those people on whose doorstep Dumbledore dumped me over ten years ago only covered in a thin blanket on a cold November day together with a letter explaining everything. I hope you understand that they despise everything magical,” he was enraged now and not only him. With every word Harry spoke, the Dark Lord’s face darkened.
Oh yes, he had a childhood that was less than ideal himself but from what he could gather Harry’s was infinitely worse. It would be a pleasure to make them pay for what they did to a wizard nonetheless. No wizard should have to endure something like that.
“You know that explains quite a lot, especially your lack of concern regarding the wellbeing of your…how did you call them? Ah yes, assortment of useful idiots who call themselves your friends,” the chuckle that accompanied that exclamation would have scared the shit even out of Dumbledore. Harry on the other hand just smiled wickedly.
“Do we have a deal or not? I don’t want to waste the entire night with this.”
Voldemort did not need to think about that proposal before answering. “I agree to your terms however I wonder…you could ask nearly everything from me, being taught arts your seemingly not so precious Dumbledore would get a heart attack over for example so why settle with something so…profane?”
“Why asking for something I could gain through other means?” Harry replied with a predatory smile.
“And what means would that be?”
“Hmm, an answer for an answer okay?” Voldemort nodded. “The means would be a simple argument. My question is whether once you are done you need Quirrell anymore, to be precisely…alive.”
The Dark Lord shook his head chuckling lowly. “Getting a satisfying answer from you is harder than to convince a stone to move on its own. No, I do not need him, he fought me for some time now and I would have killed him anyway. So what is it now? Do you give me the stone or not?” he was at the end with his patience. He wanted a body and he wanted it now.
Harry laughed shortly before throwing Voldemort the stone.
“Thank you” the man snarled.
“I hope you hold up your end of the deal” Harry simply shrugged.
Voldemort transfigured some random item he found in one of Quirrell’s pockets into a cup. This he placed on the floor before starting to chant over the stone. A few seconds into the chanting, suddenly a liquid started to flow from the stone and into the cup. When he was finished, Voldemort picked up the cup and with a smile downed the content. At first, nothing seemed to happen but about a minute later, suddenly the man bowed over in agony when dark mist poured from him. The mist congregated a metre away from Quirrell and started to form a body. Once the mist stopped pouring from the man, Quirrell fell unconscious. The mist on the other hand continued congregating and when even the last bit was absorbed into the black mass, it became slowly denser, more substantial. A few minutes later, a man around the mid-thirties with pitch-black hair and a regal looking face stood before Harry who watched the entire thing with interest. The only hint that told him it was really the Dark Lord were the blood red eyes.
“Finally, my own body,” Voldemort joyfully said. “You know I’m wondering why you helped me. Sure you need help with your little problem but that can’t be all especially since I’m the one who killed your parents.”
“That was their own fault and theirs alone. First, they opposed someone far more powerful and second, they could have thought up myriads of escape plans but instead they again tried to fight you. Why would I blame you for their stupidity? They knew exactly what they did…”
Voldemort just wanted to reply when another voice arose.
“Potter, you’re harder to look after than herding cats. The next time you-” Snape snarled until he came closer and his view fell upon the other occupant of the room. He stopped dead in his track looking at the man. “M-my Lord?” he carefully drawled.
“Severus Snape. What a pleasure to see you,” the Dark Lord bared his teeth. “I ask myself how it comes that you escaped Azkaban while so many others were condemned to imprisonment. May it be that it is not me you are loyal to but to a certain old meddler? Why have you not looked for me when my darkest hour came? You surely couldn’t have assumed that I was truly dead?”
Snape paled visibly. Harry had not seen this man so deranged before. The man in question threw him a look somewhere between hatred, disgust and fear before kneeling to the Dark lord’s feet bowing his head lowly. Harry knew exactly what Snape thought, hatred because he did not know whether Voldemort knew that they did not hate each other, disgust because he had to show weakness in front of him and fear because of the prospect of receiving a Cruciatus.
“M-my L-lord, I…” his voice faded. What could he say? How could he prove his loyalty?
“What a stupid question, Voldie. Answer me this, would you really want him looking after you and therefor reveal himself to Dumbledore as your spy? I hate to burst your bubble but imprisoned in Azkaban he would have been no use to you. Now on the other hand you get to know every little tidbit of what Dumbledore did the past ten years,” Harry shook his head over the amount of stupidity.
The look Snape gave him now nearly made him laugh but he did not want to humiliate the man further so he bit it back. Snape’s face was one of utter shock. How could this boy speak to the Dark Lord in this way? He would be dead any second of that Snape was sure and then he would have failed. Failed with his oath to protect the son of Lily. Seconds ticked away, fear and panic rose in him that he suppressed but when seconds became minutes and nothing happened realisation hit him. The Dark Lord even seemed to be amused. What was happening here? Had he stepped into some strange alternate reality?
“I have to admit that you have a point there. However it doesn’t answer my question whether he is loyal to me or Dumbledore,” Voldemort smiled while fingering the wand he collected from Quirrell. “Tell me Snape why you saved Harry here during the Quidditch match if you are really loyal to me.”
Snape still kneeling looked at Harry. “I…” he started before straightening his already ramrod back with new resolve. “My Lord, I swore an unbreakable vow to Dumbledore to protect Harry no matter what. I’m sorry but I had to in order to continue spying on him for when you would return.”
He was certain that he would receive a Cruciatus upon that revelation but again nothing happened. When he looked up, he saw that Harry was pushing down the Dark Lord’s wand while shaking his head. Snape now really questioned his sanity. There was no way on earth that this boy, the exact same boy Voldemort wanted to kill ten years ago now could tell the man what to do, or better what not to do without being cursed through and through. What happened here?
“That is quite an interesting piece of information,” Voldemort snarled while shooting Harry a death glare of which the boy was completely unimpressed. “But it points more to the fact that you are loyal to that old coot. Why shouldn’t I kill you right on the spot?”
“Because then he would be useless to you,” Harry threw in. Upon seeing the questioning glare from Voldemort, he explained his train of thoughts. “I have a plan in which his survival is not only crucial but also would confirm his loyalty to you. You want to stay `dead´ for now in the eyes of Dumbledore and the world, don’t you?” the Dark Lord simply nodded. “One question, what would happen to the dark mark if you Merlin forbid were really dead? Would it still be there or would it fade?”
“I would never die,” Voldemort growled.
“That was not what I said. Come on; simply answer my question before someone else comes down here.”
“Hardly possible since I sent your friends to bed telling them that I would take care of everything,” Snape sneered but quickly fell silent again, when Voldemort’s gaze fell upon him.
“To answer your question, it would simply fade.”
“Good, I assume you can remove a mark from a follower?”
“What are you after? Yes I can but why would I?”
“Simple, what do you think would Dumbledore assume if Snape here goes back to him with the mark removed claiming that he found me unconscious, a dead Quirrell and the stone lying next to me?”
“He would think I’m dead and while that is a great prospect I fail to see how that would prove Snape’s loyalty,” Voldemort answered with a soft voice. He had to admit that the boy was highly intelligent and had brilliant ideas not that he would say that aloud.
Snape meanwhile slowly stood up watching closely the interactions between the Dark Lord and Harry. It intrigued him. Not only did Voldemort not curse the boy, no, he also considered his suggestions. He knew that curiosity killed the cat but that was a too good opportunity to let it go. Despite that, he wouldn’t be a good spy without a certain amount of curiosity within him.
“The only two people who would know that you’re not dead are him and me. I have no intention to tell that old meddling coot anything any time soon. So the only one who could blurt out that you’re alive is him. Should Dumbledore suddenly know you’re not dead you know who to blame.”
“And who tells me that you’re not the one?”
“Really? Why would I give you the stone, help you gaining your own body and give you a plan to avoid detection only to blurt you out in the end? Would defeat the purpose a bit, don’t you think?”
“Ever thought about becoming one of my followers?” the more he heard from the boy the more he was determined to get him on his side. He simply needed that brilliant mind within his ranks.
Harry sighed. “Marking me would also be counterproductive.”
“Oh there are other ways and methods with the same qualities as the mark,” Voldemort silkily pointed out.
“Which would be?”
Voldemort waved his wand conjuring up two silver rings. He just wanted to enchant them when Harry interrupted him.
“I have an idea. Give me the stone for a moment,” he hold out his hand demandingly.
Voldemort grudgingly handed it over. “You’re far too demanding for my liking. You should be glad that I can’t touch you.”
Snape listened attentively upon that. The Dark Lord cannot touch Potter? Was that the reason he had yet to be cursed? He really had to talk to the boy once they got out of here…hopefully alive.
Harry took the stone and hit one edge of it against the pillar he was still leaning against. To his satisfaction two pieces of the stone splintered of. He picked them up hold one in his hand and concentrated. It took a few seconds but finally the splinter morphed into a diamond shape. After repeating it with the second splinter, he gave both to Voldemort who promptly tested them upon functionality.
“Use one of them for my ring,” Harry instructed.
“Interesting. I never thought about splitting up the stone assuming that it would nullify its workability. Why would I give you a piece of it though?” he asked while putting one piece into an encasing attached to a chain before placing it around his neck. Who knew when this thing might come in handy?
“You remember that I still have the main piece?” Voldemort snickered before charming the second piece he got from Harry into one of the rings he conjured. The ring consisted of two snakes. One snake coiling around the gem while another one formed the ring itself. When he was done, he started to enchant the ring with several charms that he also imbedded into the dark mark. He also added a few additional features meant to protect Harry but that he would not tell the boy. Once he finished suddenly the colour of the stone changed from blood red to an emerald green. All three wizards looked at it curious what happened. Voldemort checked the stone upon its functionality again but it worked quite fine. Shrugging he gave the ring to Harry.
“If you really want to become one of my followers wear this. It works like the mark without arising the accompanied suspicion. You will not be able to remove it though once you put it on your finger. Only I would be able to do that,” he said with a feral grin.
Harry however did not think for long and placed the ring on his left hand’s ring finger where it shrunk to fit him perfectly. Once he did it the grin on Voldemort’s face became more smug and victorious. He quickly fashioned the second ring with the needed enchantments before handing it to Snape.
“Once you wear it I’ll remove your mark. You’ll do as Harry suggested and report to Dumbledore you found Harry here unconscious and Quirrell dead, understood?”
Snape nodded and placed the ring on his right hand. After that, Voldemort walked over and as promised removed the mark with a hissed incantation.
“Nice spell, Voldie. Did you invent it?”
To Harry’s confusion both men looked at him in shock and in Voldemort’s case interest.
“You’re a parselmouth,” this was not a question but a simple stating of facts.
“What the heck is parselmouth?” Harry looked from one man to the other.
“A parselmouth is a person able to talk to snakes,” Snape explained.
“Oh that, yes I know. Why? Is that something special?”
“Special? The only persons known to be parselmouth are descendants of Slytherin. You know I’m really starting to question how you managed to end up in Gryffindor,” Voldemort hissed in parseltongue to find out whether the boy told the truth.
“Took me over five minutes to convince that damned hat,” Harry replied in the same way. “I didn’t want to find out what Dumbledore might do if I didn’t end up in the house of fools.”
Voldemort chuckled. “Too true.”
Harry in the meantime got ready for what was to come sitting down on the stairs. He did not want to hit his head when falling over. The Dark Lord quickly killed Quirrell with an Avada Kedavra and placed the wand in the dead man’s hand. It had to look like a fight after all.
“Don’t forget about our deal. Talking about it they live in Privet Drive No. 4, Little Whinging by the way,” Harry said with a grin that stood on par with Voldemort’s when he was in a cursing mood. Snape was definitely glad that it was not directed at him.
“I always keep my promises which you should know by now,” he snarled while turning around to leave. “Snape take care of the rest and keep in mind where your loyalty truly lies.”
“Yes, my Lord,” the man bowed and with that, Voldemort left.
Harry placed the stone right next to him facing Snape.
“You have a lot of explaining to do once you’re out of the infirmary, Potter,” he snarled pointing his wand at the boy in front of him.
“I know,” with that Snape knocked him out and Harry knew no more.