Chapter 7: Down the High Way to Hell

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Harry threw some floo powder into the fire before calling out the Burrow and kneeling down sticking his head into the now green flames. The address he got from the twins.

“Hello? Someone there?” he called out.

It took a minute before an older woman, Molly Weasley according to the twins, appeared in the fire. “Hello, my dear. How can I help you?” she said.

“Hi, I’d like to speak to the twins” not even bothering to give her his name.

“And who are you?” she asked slightly irritated about the unfriendliness of the boy. The thing was she never met him personally. At the train station before the first year Harry had opted to only observe them to see how to get to platform 9 ¾ instead of talking to them because of their quite suspicious behaviour. Therefore, it was no wonder she didn’t recognize him and thanks to the nature of a floo call she couldn’t see his scar. Well, perhaps also because he decided to grow his hair a bit and it was now covered properly. He bloody hated all the stares he received because of it.

“Harry, not that this is any of your concern?” he glared at her.

“Oh, Harry Potter…my son Ron told me a lot about you. It is nice finally to meet you. Though what do you want from the twins?” she grew curious and a little bit suspicious.

“I got up this morning and thought to myself…this is such a nice day what better way to spend it than with staring at the Weasley twins…what do you think what I want from them?” he snarled.

“My, you’re pretty cheeky, Harry. Has no one taught you that this isn’t proper behaviour for a boy like you?”

“You call it cheeky I call it verbally superior and no, no one taught me this. Are you going to get the twins now or do I have to find another way to contact them?” Harry drawled out growing more and more irritated about the improper behaviour of the woman.

“A bit more respect young man I don’t tolerate you talking to me this way. Be glad that you’re only on the floo it seems that you need a proper whacking,” the woman shrieked so loud that Harry actually had to put his finger in his ears.

“Are you threatening me?” he asked dangerously low once the woman on the other end of the floo stopped shouting. “I simply asked whether you could call for the twins when you started to act like you’re my mother. Let me tell you this…you’re NOT. I don’t even know who you are nor are you showing me the proper respect I deserve so why should I treat you any different?”

The Weasley matriarch just wanted to reply something probably shouting on the top of her lungs when the twins attracted by the ruckus entered the living room.

“Hey mum,” “who’s on the floo?” they asked when their view fell on Harry.

Harry on the other hand who didn’t want to talk to the harpy or listen to her shrieking any longer than necessary just said one thing before leaving the floo. “Hræfn manor is Dumbledore’s downfall,” the twins would know what to do with that statement.

It didn’t even take ten minutes and the fireplace in the study flared to life and spit out two redheaded brothers.

“Harry, our dear friend” “how are you?” “Thank you for your call” “but what have you said to our mother?” “She screamed bloody murder” “when we left,” they said, after cleaning themselves with a flick of their wands, walking over to Harry they both gave him a hug.

“My favourite twins. I’m doing well thank you but I hope you don’t object that should I ever have the unfortunate luck to come across your mother personally I curse her into the next week. How do you keep up with her? I thought my eardrums would burst with how she shrieked,” he replied returning the hugs.

“We’re quite use to it.” “All she does concerning us” “is complaining” “and shouting.” “I think you got to know enough of it already,” they told him. “Nothing we do is good enough.” “May it be our grades” “or the pranking…” “All we get to hear is how much better our older brothers are.”

“What did you tell her where you went?”

“Just that we’re over with a friend” “and that we might stay overnight” “if that’s okay with you,” they looked at him half pleadingly. Both didn’t really want to go back to their mother listening to her shrieking. It was only a few days into the holidays and they were already fed up.

“Sure, I’ll just tell an elf to prepare a room for you. Mixy!” the elf appeared with a pop. “Prepare the room next to mine. I assume you both want to share a room?” he addressed the twins who both nodded. “You heard it.”

“Mixy will prepare everything. I am also to inform you that lunch will be ready in fifteen minutes.”

“Good, prepare two more,” with that he dismissed the elf who vanished. “I’d suggest we have lunch before having some fun. Hopefully you have your wands at the ready.”

“Armed and eager,” they chorused.

“Good,” Harry laughed while leaving the study he led them down to the dining room. They passed a lot of ancient and expensive furniture and decoration, which irritated the twins.

“Say which this manor is” “and who belongs it to?”

“This was formerly Malfoy manor but since yesterday it is Hræfn manor and belongs to me.”

“You’re the owner of Malfoy manor now?” “How did you manage that?” they were astonished.

Harry started to snicker. “I probably shouldn’t tell you this…ah bollocks I have to tell you that thanks to an old and long forgotten goblin law I stripped the Malfoys of everything. Technically, they are even poorer than you Weasleys are now. Nonetheless I let them access their former vaults…for now.”

“That’s wicked,” “evil” “and all around brilliant.”

“Voldemort pretty much said the same,” Harry grinned.

The twins looked at him confused. “Doesn’t the ring” “hurt anymore?”

He shook his head. “No, he removed the spell after he found out that Dumb-as-a-door insists on using his name and it wouldn’t do for him to find out he is alive not to mention that I became his follower.”

They together entered the dining room to see that the Malfoys already were there. Voldemort on the other hand was suspiciously absent. Not that the Malfoys knew who he really was except Lucius. To Narcissa and Draco he was one of Lucius friends from abroad. However, under which name Voldemort went Harry didn’t know since they never called him upon one.

Malfoy who spotted them first spoke up. “What are those Weasleys doing in our house?” he inquired in disgust.

“Draco, Draco, Draco, they are here on my invitation and despite that what do you mean by `our house´? Since when do you have any share of it? Not that your father has any when it comes to that,” the last part he spoke more to himself than to anyone else but the Malfoys could clearly hear it. Draco though didn’t seem to notice that line while Narcissa looked confused at her husband who looked like he wanted to vanish on the spot. The twins snickered lowly.

Lucius however quickly regained his composure. “Draco, they are Harry’s guests and you will treat them as such is that clear?”

“Clear, father,” Draco bowed his head slightly. “I’m sorry and welcome.”

“No problem,” the twins replied unison before sitting down next to Harry who already sat on Draco’s right side.

Once they all sat, the food appeared and they started to eat. To Draco’s surprise the twins showed proper pureblood decorum and not the behaviour they normally displayed in the great hall.

“You don’t say! The twins know how to behave properly,” he couldn’t keep that back.

Said twins exchanged a look before simultaneously drawing their wands and hexing Draco who didn’t notice it. Lucius on the other hand who just looked up at his son saw the changes and suddenly started to cough while Narcissa seemingly tried to hide a smirk.

Interesting, to Harry it looked like the Malfoy matriarch had a hidden persona. Perhaps the often-praised Black madness as it was mostly called? He would have to investigate that at a later point.

“Undo this in an instant,” Lucius growled. Unfortunately and to him unknown, Harry also drew his wand under the table, which was now pointed straight at him.

“Here I thought you were smart but wait haven’t you already proven that you’re not? If you don’t want to sing soprano from now on don’t talk to my guests in this tone or do I have to remember you who are guests here to?” his voice was dangerously low.

Draco obviously not getting what was going on here looked confused back and forth between his father and Harry. Narcissa on the other hand got the connotation of what Harry said and now gave Lucius a pointed look, which told the man that they would talk later. He in the meantime slowly shifted one hand under the table to protect his family jewels, which the twins commented with a broad sadistic grin.

“It seems that we understand each other,” since he and the twins finished lunch they stood up and walked out of the room. On his way out Harry spoke up again. “The twins and I are going to have some fun. I probably should inform you that it might get loud…very…loud,” he added the last part with a smirk when seeing their shocked faces waiving them goodbye. “I will make them scream!” he had to put on top while closing the door starting to snicker once it was closed. He loved playing with the Malfoys they made such good targets.

He led the twins down several corridors next to the kitchen from where a stair led into the basement. There were the pantry, a large potions lab and finally yet importantly, a hidden heavily warded door located leading to the cells. It was thanks to the wards keyed to him that he knew exactly where to go otherwise Harry doubted that he would even find the way from his bed to the bathroom. Really, why did they have to have such a huge mansion? What was the meaning in having enough rooms for possibly hosting the entire Ministry, St. Mungo’s and Hogwarts together?

“Ah, my beloved family. How are you? I hope the Malfoys treated you well,” he greeted them.

“You…FREAK!” Vernon roared jumping up and trying to grab him through the bars to no avail.

“Aw, and here I thought you would be happy to see me,” he drawled out sarcastically. “Really? Freak? I prefer sociopath with psychopathic tendencies but suit yourself. By the way, I brought some friends who volunteered to have some fun with you. Say hello to Fred and George Weasley.”

“More of you freaks? What do you want to do? This will bring you into Azkaban,” now screeched Petunia very much like Molly Weasley. Was it only them or did all woman shriek like no tomorrow when enraged?

The twins looked at each other before simultaneously drawing their wands. “Falsa Dolor!” they shouted hitting both Petunia and Vernon who instantly started to scream.

Harry cocked his head. “Interesting spell. What does it do except making them scream?”

“Falsa Dolor or roughly translated as illusion of pain,” Fred started to explain over the screams of the two adults or at least Harry assumed it was Fred. It was hard telling them apart. Perhaps he could convince them to wear something dissimilar in order to differentiate them. “We found out that a normal spell which attacks a victim physically like the Cruciatus Curse for example leaves a magical residue that can be traced back but not when the attack is purely mentally like the Imperius curse. This is also the reason for why it is so hard to determine whether someone was under said curse or not.”

“What was it? Falsa Dolor?” Fred nodded while Harry drew his own wand pointing it at Vernon who was still lying there curled up despite the curse having ended. “Falsa Dolor!” he said but nothing happened.

“You haven’t cast many dark curses yet, have you?” this now was George.

“A bit hard to practise them in Hogwarts don’t you agree? Especially if you’re under the constant gaze of Mr. Merlin-reincarnated not to mention Ms. Nosy-I’m-married-to-a-book and Mr. I-don’t-know-what-a-bath-is” he growled.

The twins snickered. “True. As you probably already know, magic is all about intention. For this, you need really to want letting them feel the pain. Let your anger and hatred fuel you and try again.”

Harry nodded. This shouldn’t prove to be very hard since his hatred was for them was great enough to kill them once he got bored of his relatives. Channelling this hatred as George explained he tried again. “Falsa Dolor!” a surge of power rushed through him when the spell successfully connected with its victim Vernon and the man started to scream in agony again even intensified by the smugness to finally get his revenge. Harry had to admit that he could get addicted to this feeling and now knew exactly why so many embraced themselves in the dark arts. He grinned in a way that made the twins shiver.

“Well done, Harry,” Fred said.

Harry stopped the curse looking at them. “You know I just had an idea. The thing is that wobbling mass over there called Dudley liked it to chase me through the entire village before beating me up. What do you think of a small Dudley hunt?” the vindictive smile they mustered spoke volumes about how they thought about it. The twins looked each other while a matching smile appeared on Harry’s face. Oh yes, this sounded like much fun.

With a flick of his wand Harry opened the cell door and shooed his fat cousin out with a few stinging hexes. “Out, Dudders, out. That’s it and now run!” he said shooting a few more hexes at him after closing the cell door again.

They chased him out of the basement and down a few corridors shooting hexes and jinxes at the boy driving him in front of them. From time to time sharp gasps or screams were heard when a curse hit its target. Letting Dudley getting a bit of an advance the boy rounded a corner before bumping into someone and falling onto his backside. Looking up he saw a man in his mid-thirties with black hair.

“Oh Sir, you have to help me,” he pleaded grasping the man’s arm after scrambling back to his feet. “They are crazy…absolutely crazy. Chased me through this house.”

Voldemort looked at the boy in utter disgust. “Crucio!” he simply stated after shaking this wobbling mass of a muggle off his arm.

Just at that moment, Harry and the twins rounded the corner confused to why Dudley was screaming when none of them was near him. Seeing him being tortured by the Dark Lord, they observed it in awe. When it came to torturing, he knew his business.

“Sir, might we ask who you are?” the twins asked.

The Dark Lord looked at them rising an eyebrow towards Harry. “I’m Lord Slytherin. Might I ask what is going on here? Why is he not in his…room?”

The twins looked a bit confused at Harry. “He is Lord Slytherin aka Lord Voldemort aka my new magical guardian,” Harry explained. “And to what’s going on here we only had a little Dudley hunt, you know letting him taste his own medicine.”

Voldemort gave Harry a pointed look while the twins stared at him in undiluted awe and a bit envy. “The Dark Lord is your guardian?”

“Sure, you know I only take the best,” he smiled wickedly. “And after Dumb-as-a-door thought it a good idea to withdraw 325 Galleons each month from my vault…” Harry growled which let them choke in shock. Bloody hell, with that much money…every month their family wouldn’t have to worry anymore. “Oh yes, and from those 325 you brother received 50…every month.”

“He…what?” they exclaimed in utter shock before shaking their head and quickly regaining their composure. This was something they could discuss later right now though there was something entirely else they would like to address. “My Lord, we’d humbly ask you to train us please,” with that they bowed before him.

Voldemort blinked a few times. This was highly interesting. “I assume that those two are the ones you were talking about?” he addressed Harry who was brought out of his surprise and nodded. The Dark Lord mustered the red-head twins from top to bottom with a gaze that could mean anything from measuring them up for their graves for knowing the truth to their worth of his attention.

He was just came to a result when one of the twins shot one of their “Falsa Dolor” curses past him and at Dudley who obviously recovered from the Cruciatus Curse and now tried to get away from those “crazy” freaks.

“Tut, tut, tut, Dudley don’t you know that it is rude to leave a conversation without excusing oneself?” Harry drawled out before stunning him. He didn’t want the boy to try to get away again.

The Dark Lord chuckled lowly upon seeing this display. “It seems that you have a lot of potential though I have to tell you that I’m not a very forgiving teacher. Fail to comply with orders and you will see that my reputation isn’t farfetched,” he gave them both a pointed look. What he wouldn’t tell them however is that he wouldn’t follow through with this threat since he promised Harry to leave those he called his friends alone and he kept his promises. Threatening someone on the other hand so that said person didn’t annoy him to much by playing dumb…who could blame him?

“Yes Sir,” came the dual reply.

Just at that moment, an elf popped in and bowed lowly. “Master Potter, wizards from Gringotts arrived. They being in the entrance hall.”

“Good, tell them that I’m coming,” Voldemort threw him a questioning look while the elf bowed again and popped away. “I told Griphook that I wanted this property to be made unplottable. Wouldn’t want Dumbledore to find me and he replied this morning that he would send a warding specialist around in the afternoon,” he explained. “You two have fun with Dudders but please stay in this wing. It wouldn’t do if my guests get wind of what is happening here.”

The two nodded and Harry left towards the entrance hall. About five minutes later, he arrived there only to stop in his track and blink in confusion. In the hall stood five wizards, four he didn’t recognize or know but the fifth was one that worried him immensely.

“Another Weasley…should I get to know that you told Dumbledore I’m here…” he let the end of the threat hang in the air.

Said wizard turned around and looked at him confused when recognition hit him. “Bill Weasley. It is a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Potter. I can assure you that Gringotts holds his contractors under protection. We are sworn under oath to keep secret who our customers are.”

“Good, I’m sorry but with the old meddling fool one can’t be cautious enough. Welcome to Hræfn manor. I assume you’re here for the warding so if you would follow me please,” with that, he led them to another cellar in the centre of the manor where the warding stone of it was located. “How does this exactly work?”

“First we will see which wards are already erected then we will add those Griphook told us to,” the Weasley explained. “I don’t know what you did but the wards he purported are highest Gringotts standard. Your manor probably will be the safest building after Gringotts itself.”

Harry nodded in approval and with that, the warding specialists went to work closely observed by him in interest. Sure, he knew a bit about warding but that was warding of small objects to protect them from thievery and such but not large things like a building. A few minutes into their work, the men suddenly started to whisper animatedly.

“What’s the problem?” Harry inquired.

“Are you aware that this building has a layer of protective Blood Wards?” one of them asked.

“Yes…” Harry drawled out. “They shifted here when I took this manor over but Griphook is aware of this since it happened in his presence.”

The man nodded in consent trying to formulate the explanation in a way that the boy would understand it. “It is only that those wards might make our work more difficult. The thing is that Blood Wards are not normal wards especially not sacrificial ones like those. They aren’t casted like a ward normally is but come into existence by someone sacrificing oneself for a person. Those wards can be very vicious should someone try to tamper with them so we have to work around them. However they supply you with quite a protection against anyone you deem a threat,” he explained.

Harry motioned them to go on and they did. It took them the entire afternoon to weave the new wards into the existing ones but in the end, they were successful.

“Okay, we added the requested ward to make the property unplottable as well as a few more protection wards against dark creatures and other nasty things. They will eject everyone who tries to enter without your approval and will get pretty…vicious should said person be more persistent. However they work on a delay to give you the time to decide whether someone is an intruder or not. Should no decision be made the wards will become active after thirty seconds and proceed as described. Are there any more questions?” one of the specialists asked.

“What if someone is already inside the wards and I just want to…eject them?”

“You only have to tell the wards that said person should be placed outside of them and you also can let said person back in at a later point of time,” the man told him. “Anything else?”

“No, this should be all for now,” Harry said shaking the man’s hand. “Thank you for your work and send Griphook my best regards.”

With that, he led the men to the entrance hall from where they apparated back to Gringotts while contemplating how much fun he could have with the wards dumping someone outside of them. Harry being quite hungry went to the dining hall in order to get some dinner. Upon entering, he saw the twins and Voldemort engaged in a heated debate over dark curses. The Malfoys were absent, what a pity.

“I’m sorry but this had to be done. Hopefully this didn’t dampen your fun with Dudley,” he sat down and in an instant his dinner appeared before him.

The twins looked at each other before turning towards him with a vicious grin. “We had a lot of fun.” “Your guardian is a really good teacher.” “He showed us a few new spells” “for which we used your cousin for target practise.” “We hope that we can come over” “from time to time to learn more.”

“Sure, you know the floo address and the room next to mine is always ready for you should your mother again become too much to bear.”

In the evening, they first practised the new spells together while showing them to Harry before they retreated to their room and played a few rounds of exploding snap. Overall, they had a nice evening.

Voldemort on the other hand vanished Merlin knows where to do some business.

Since the next morning, the Dark Lord was nowhere to be seen for some more lessons the twins and Harry decided to brew a few experimental potions, which they then could test on their special guests later that day. They were in the middle of their respective brewing process when they heard the door to the lab opening and the black cloaked figure of Snape appeared.

“Potter, what are you doing in this lab not to mention together with these Weasleys?” he sneered coming to a halt in the doorway.

The twins just wanted to retort something but Harry bet them to it. “First it is my lab and I can do with it what I want to and second brewing potions…obviously,” he deadpanned.

“Please refrain from blowing up yourself, or better do so consequently not darkening my classroom ever again,” Snape mocked ignoring the first half of Harry’s statement for now.

“Considering that I finally have access to a half way decent potions lab I don’t see any danger with that” Harry smirked.

“Ah, Mr. Potter deems himself to fine for my in his eyes unworthy potions classroom?” he rose an eyebrow.

“With all those idiots hanging around and blowing up their cauldrons, yes.”

“Perhaps than you should throw out those two dunderheads over there first,” the glare he shot them let them shiver. It promised nothing good.

“They at least proved themselves worthy of using my lab,” Harry gave Snape a wicked grin.

The man gave his best sneer. “I have a mastery in potions but I fail to see theirs.”

“Who said anything about you?” Harry now laughed.

“Touché,” he said now with a smile. “I see you lost nothing of your cheekiness.”

“What can I say…I have to stay in shape for when school starts again and I have to darken the classroom of a certain professor once more,” Harry snickered.

The twins stared at them both not knowing what to think about it completely forgetting that there was a potion needing their attention.

“Stop staring you two or I have to revise my statement about you being worthy to use this lab,” Harry told them which quickly drew their attention back to their potion. Both started bustling around again so that their potion wouldn’t blow up. Snape chuckled upon that.

“What did you mean with that this is your lab though?”

“Perhaps you should ask Lucius that question,” Harry replied with a wicked grin. “Oh, before I forget it I have something for you,” he pulled out a small vial from his robe pocket and threw it to Snape who caught it easily. “Maybe you should watch that first and ask Lucius afterwards.”

“I have no pensieve,” Snape stated dryly.

“In the study is one though you might have to throw Voldie out,” Harry replied with a now malicious grin. Snape on the other hand looked strangely at him before at the twins, which Harry didn’t miss. “Don’t worry they know. They even had a lesson with him yesterday afternoon.”

“So you really suggest that I should throw out the Dark Lord? I’m not suicidal thank you very much,” Snape growled.

“Point one, my house my rules. Point two, he won’t do much against it,” Harry simply stated.

Snape looked at the boy as if he suddenly decided to grow a second head. He missed something essential and he was determined to find out what. The twins having lessons with the Dark Lord? This being Potter’s house? They were only three days into the holidays and again the boy managed to surprise him in more than one way.

“Oh, I probably should also tell you that the Dark Lord legally became my magical guardian yesterday,” Harry added seeing his professors look who made a choking sound upon that revelation.

Shock, surprise and a bit of fear briefly flickered over his face before being banished behind Occlumency shields. “He what? Are you bloody insane to allow such a thing? How did he even manage that?”

“I think he flooed over to the Ministry, went down to the Department of Magical Child Care and claimed guardianship over me,” Harry made a mock thinking face.

Snape looked at him in utter disbelieve. He originally came here to brew a few potions he couldn’t brew at Hogwarts because of their sensitive nature since they were deemed dark and illegal. Given that he had no own potions lab despite the one at Hogwarts Lucius allowed him to use his occasionally. However now Harry had to drop this bomb, or better bombs, upon him so brewing was the last thing he wanted to do right now. Right now, he tried to wrap his mind around what Potter just said. How could the Dark Lord have walked into the Ministry without rising any alarms? Surely, the whole world would know by now if he outed his return but nothing of the like happened. Dumbledore would have demanded his appearance in his office to force him to spy on the Dark Lord again would that have happened of that Snape was sure.

“I beg your pardon?”

“It is as I said. Did you meet him earlier?”

“No, I didn’t even know that he was here though it kind of makes sense,” the Dark Lord used this mansion as his base of operation in the last war after all but that he wouldn’t say not fully trusting the twins.

“Perhaps you should catch up on this then and you’ll get the answer to your question. He is in the study right now,” Harry answered before returning to his potion obviously finished with the conversation.

Snape gave him one last glance before turning around and doing as the boy suggested. He would have to go to the study anyway since Potter said that he would find a pensieve there.

Once the door fell close, the twins started to question Harry. “What was that?” they asked unison.

“Oh that? This was just our usual banter before every conversation. You should see us in a lesson you know there is a reason why some declared me to be a second Snape,” he chuckled lowly.

“We can see now why,” one of the twins laughed before everyone returned to the brewing.

Snape knocked at the study of the mansion and after a sharp “In” he entered.

“Ah, Snape come in,” Voldemort said looking up from some documents he was reading slightly surprised since he didn’t call for him. “What brings you to me?”

Snape stood in the door stunned because of what he saw. He now knew what Potter meant when saying that the Dark Lord simply flooed over to the Ministry claiming guardianship over him. Weren’t there those crimson red eyes he doubted he would have recognised the man. One small glamour for those and no one would be the wiser. However, he quickly overcame his stupor and bowed to his Lord.

“My Lord, I was told that I would find a pensieve in this room and humbly request to use it.”

“I assume Harry sent you?”

Snape nodded and Voldemort made a motion towards the shelf on his left. The other man walked over and a few minutes later dove into the pensieve.

It took him a bit over an hour to reappear having skipped the uninteresting parts. He was deep in thoughts.

“What do you think?” the Dark Lord asked curiously still sitting at his desk motioning the man to take a seat too.

Snape walked around it and sat into one of the chairs on the other side before answering. “I definitely don’t want to end on the boy’s wrong side,” he admitted.

Voldemort chuckled lowly. “Yes, he has his way to ensure that no one dares to cross him. It is something I never contemplated before. True, threatening the family or the person himself gains you a healthy amount of fear but only as long as they don’t chicken out and go into hiding. Threatening their money and livelihood however…how is one supposed to go into hiding without any money to pay for it?”

Snape looked at the Dark Lord strangely. Did he hear right and the man admitted having made a mistake? Well, perhaps not a mistake per se but more acknowledging that he could have done something better? Would he be honest he would have to concede that the Dark Lord behaved strangely…different to before his fall. Before Potter defeated him, he acted blindly and without thought, one might say insanely. His hunt after mere babies showed that clearly but now…it was as if his rebirth also restored the man’s sanity at least to some extent.

The problem was that he didn’t know how to handle a more or less sane Dark Lord. With his insanity it had been straight and simple…did you fail you suffered and when you succeeded you were rewarded but now…sure, the former was still present but he acted more tactically as it seemed and that made the man unpredictable. Then there was the factor of Potter and the influence he seemingly had on the decisions the Dark Lord made. It was like walking through a minefield not knowing where the explosives were. One wrong move and you were dead.

He would have to be extremely careful but for now, he would treat him like always.

“You swore to protect Harry. Can I trust you to keep Dumbledore and his scheming away from him?” Voldemort asked suddenly which ripped Snape from his musings.

“My Lord?” he asked a bit confused. What was the Dark Lord after?

“Harry probably already told you that I gained guardianship over him. It is highly probable that Dumbledore knows about this little fact by now and starts to fight it tooth and nail. You are one of his closest informants and I want you to send him on a goose chase. Let him run around in circles or whatever else helps to keep him away from Harry understood?”

Snape just wanted to reply when another voice came from the door. “But don’t tell him that I know about the change of guardian,” Harry piped in. “I read the letter he send me and at the moment I’m waiting to send the reply in order to let it seem that I’m in another country telling him that the Dursleys took me on a vacation.”

“Do you really think that he will believe this story? From what you told me your relatives would more likely force you to stay home alone than take you with them and I don’t doubt that Dumbledore has a spy where you live whose testimony would discern to your story,” Voldemort explained.

“You’re right,” Harry reluctantly admitted before realisation hit him and he hit his head with his flat hand. “Figg, she always was strange, has dozens of cats and from time to time took care of me when the Dursleys weren’t at home. She even knew about the abuse,” he growled when a malevolent glee entered his eyes.

“It looks like someone wants a new toy to play with,” the Dark Lord laughed.

“Considering that our normal targets are in a state not usable for practise at the moment…” Harry grinned.

Right at that moment the door to the study opened again and the twins entered. Both bowed towards Voldemort before starting to speak. “My Lord, Professor,” “Harry we finished our potions” “and wanted to go and try them out.” “Do you want to accompany us?”

Snape looked a bit surprised upon the twins’ behaviour. Harry saw that and came to a decision. “Go ahead I’ll follow shortly,” the twins nodded and left the room. “Snape, why don’t you come with us? I should probably explain you a few things,” he snickered. As much fun it was watching his potions professor trying to make sense out of the incomplete information he gave him, he didn’t want to break him and he gave him quite some information already.

Said professor sighed looking at the Dark Lord who only made a dismissing gesture. “It seems that you have a lot of explaining to do, Potter,” he sneered before throwing a slightly worried look at Voldemort but the man only chuckled lowly.

He was relieved to see that the Dark Lord was only amused but inwardly he chided himself for slipping. In private or in school their bantering was all good and well but not in front of this man or he would be tortured into oblivion rather sooner than later. Standing up he bowed before Voldemort and left the study together with Potter.

“So start asking your questions,” Harry said once they stood in the corridor and the door was closed.

Snape needed a few seconds to contemplate where to start before deciding on a question. “So the Dark Lord is now your guardian and you are okay with it?”

Harry nodded before starting to explain everything about him, Voldemort and the twins. It took some time but in the end the potions professor was satisfied when they together entered the cellar where the twins were trying several potions.

Dumbledore paced through his office confusedly. How could that have happened? Who was this Lord Slytherin and where did he come from? Was it maybe Tom in disguise? Then why and how did the Mark vanish? On the other hand, was Snape really a spy for the Dark Lord? Moreover, how was all that related to Potter vanishing?

He sent the letter to Harry two days ago but until now didn’t receive any response. However should they be on holiday in another country, it wouldn’t be surprising. Unfortunately, the happenings of the day prior let him revise this thought. How high was the possibility that the Dursleys vanished shortly before a new Lord Slytherin appears and claims guardianship over Potter? It was next to non-existent. No, something has happened. Dumbledore decided to send another letter to Potter since the first one obviously reached its target but this time he would weave a tracking charm into it. Perhaps also a little compulsion charm to get him back to where he belonged.

Content that he had a plan he went to work humming under his breath. Then he remembered his thought about his Potions Professor. Perhaps he should also invite him on a cup of tea and question him. Yes, that he would do right after sending of the letter.

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