A dozen Death Eaters and I sat in Grimmauld Place’s dining room. Kreacher had long ago cleared our plates, though tea and a few desserts still lingered. Against my protests, Bellatrix had spooned pudding onto my plate.
“It’s good for you!” she crooned.
I raised an eyebrow. “Vanilla pudding is good for me.”
Bellatrix’s eyes darted about the table. “Yes.”
Frowning, I turned away from her. “Lucius, any progress on our plans to break into Hogwarts and kidnap Harry Potter?”
“Yes, my lord, but I fear it will be difficult. According to my sources in Hogwarts –”
“You mean your son?” Sirius asked, earning a cuff on the back of the head from Severus.
“My. Sources. In. Hogwarts,” Lucius ground out, “have informed me that Potter spends most of his time invisible and only periodically attends classes.”
“He’s never in Defense,” Severus drawled.
I nodded. “And the break-in?”
“We’ve acquired a Vanishing Cabinet that has a twin in the Room of Requirement. However, it seems to be broken, and my son –”
“Sucks at magic?” Sirius said.
“In this instance, I have to agree,” Severus said. “It’s a wonder he’s passing Defense.”
“Yes, yes, you’re the new DADA professor at Hogwarts,” I snapped. “We’re aware.”
“Things are progressing well under the circumstances, my lor…oh, Trelawney,” Lucius ended sourly.
Having wandered down from her floor, Trelawney watched us in silent horror. She looked like she might faint. This would be a poor decision, mind you, because the only person in a position to catch her was Bellatrix.
I smiled at the seer. “Would you like to join us?”
Trelawney shook her head, though the motion was slight enough that she may have simply been trembling. “There are thirteen of you at the table. The first of you to rise shall also be the first to die.”
“But, if you join us, then there will be fourteen people at the table, and we’ll all be fine.”
Trelawney blinked. “Oh. Yes. I suppose that might work. Truly, fate has favored us this evening.”
She shakily settled into an empty chair. I, of course, immediately darted out of mine. “HA! I’ve escaped.”
Trelawney moaned, collapsing atop the table. Bellatrix seemed similarly upset. “But, my lord, you haven’t eaten your pudding.”
“I don’t want the pudding,” I declared.
She picked up the bowl, a maniacal look in her eye, and tried to grab my robes. Failing that, she said, “But, my lord, I made it just for you. It’s really good. I love you!”
I fled the room, Bellatrix not far behind.
Slughorn surveyed the class, chins trembling in excitement. “Ah, very good. It looks like everyone’s here today. We’ll be brewing Amortentia. Is anyone familiar with it?”
Hermione’s hand shot into the air. Slughorn chortled. “Miss Granger, reaching for the sky as usual, I see.”
“Amortentia is the most powerful love potion in existence. It’s identified by its mother-of-pearl sheen, smells differently to every person, and causes a strong infatuation in the drinker,” Hermione said.
“Very good, Miss Granger. Been reading your textbook, I see,” Slughorn said. “Mr. Potter, you had something to add?”
“I refuse to brew this potion,” I said. The classroom filled with murmurs.
“Really, now! What’s the trouble?” Slughorn asked.
“Love potions are vile things. They completely consume the will of the victim, leaving them horrified and disturbed when the potion eventually wears off,” I said.
Ron gaped. “Really?”
“Oh, yes, it’s quite terrible for them,” I assured him.
“It’s just a learning experience,” Slughorn said, “not a suggestion. Nothing to worry about.”
“Why would you teach someone how to do something if you don’t want them to?” I snapped. “This is exactly the sort of thing that got that Second Year Slytherin killed.”
Hermione said, “Harry has a point. I’m not sure if I’m comfortable doing this, either.”
“I’d expect to see it on your NEWTs, almost no chance it wouldn’t be,” Slughorn said.
She bit her lip. “Even still…”
“Do you know how many crimes are committed by people under love potion?” I demanded. “More than those under the Imperius.”
“Potter has a point,” Blaise Zabini said. “You can talk someone under love potion into doing just about anything: running off the side of a building, taunting a Hippogriff, challenging a Goblin to a fight to the death…”
“I was very sorry to hear about your stepfather. He was a good man. Not too bright, but good,” Slughorn said.
We were winning. I was certain of it. “That isn’t even getting into all the crimes committed against those under the potion: robbery, sexual assault, murder.”
“Putting them under at all could be considered slavery,” Hermione said. Ron was looking increasingly ill.
I nodded. “And what about all the witches who give Muggles love potions and then marry them? The Muggles don’t know to check for that sort of thing.”
“The magicals usually don’t check, either,” Zabini noted.
“And think of the children!”
Ron stuttered, “W-what about the children?”
I said, “Can you imagine how it is for them? If their mother ever forgets to dose their father, he’ll leave the family, and she’ll die of a broken heart. Then, they’ll be all alone, spurned by a man they never really knew.”
Ron slumped against the desk, groaning.
Slughorn sighed. “Well, if you’re all certain, I suppose we could just have an essay on Amortentia, instead…”
Hermione nodded eagerly, ignoring Ron’s continued sounds of misery.
“…Of course, it really is a pity. I was planning to give a prize to the best brewer.”
“What kind of prize?” I asked.
“It doesn’t matter much now, you understand, since I was planning it specifically for this lesson. But I have a single vial of Felix Felicis, also known as –”
“Liquid luck,” I breathed. “I rescind my earlier complaints and reject everyone who agreed with me!”
Slughorn appeared shocked. “Quite sure about that? You seemed terribly set against it.”
“Who am I to get in the way of learning?” I declared, grabbing my potions set and sprinting towards the ingredient cupboard.
“Gather round, everyone,” Slughorn called, waving us towards the winning potion. “What do you smell, then, Miss Granger?”
A dreamy smile lit up her face. “There’s a scent of freshly mown grass, new parchment, spearmint toothpaste, and…ginger.”
Ron piped up. “I smell my Chudley Cannons’ shirt, cake, and…”
Slughorn sidled next to him, asking, “What is it? A certain girl, perhaps?”
“Lavender!” Ron blurted out.
I said, “Lavender the plant or Lavender the person?”
“Uh, both?” Ron asked, glancing around nervously.
Luna Lovegood sighed. “That’s very romantic. Mine is mostly mistletoe, but there’s a slight scent of brimstone.”
“Luna, what are you doing here?” I asked.
The blonde giggled. “I had a free period, of course.”
“That explains it,” I said. Ron and Hermione shot us odd looks.
“What does it smell like to you, Harry?” Luna asked.
I leaned forward, taking a deep breath. “Snakes, and…I dunno. Sewers, maybe?”
Ron and Hermione huddled together, whispering and glancing in my direction while Lavender jealously watched the exchange. Finally coming to a decision, the two of them walked over to me.
Hermione took point. “Harry, I really am quite grateful that you saved me from Malfoy’s conjured snake, but I have a couple of questions. First of all, why is it still wrapped around your neck?”
“I’ve always wanted a pet,” I said, grinning down at the snake. “I think I’ll call him Ophion.”
“Okay,” she said. “And, also, why is it not biting you?”
“I think he likes me,” I said. “Also, I learned snake charming in –”
“Ginny,” Ron interrupted. “Can you set up the privacy spells?”
“On it!” Ginevra cried, rushing over to us.
“Thanks,” he said, then turned to me. “How’d you really do it, then?”
“I don’t know why you don’t believe me,” I said sullenly.
Hermione huffed. “Alright, fine. I was going to give you a chance to tell the truth on your own, but you clearly have no intention of doing so. I heard you speaking to it in Parseltongue.”
“You don’t know that,” I said. “I could have just been hissing at it. Unless you speak Parseltongue.”
I narrowed my eyes at her and my new pet did the same, but the girl merely raised an eyebrow. “You hissed at it, and it immediately curled around your arm.”
Ron’s eyes widened. “Wait a minute! In Second Year, were you the Heir of Slytherin?”
“Oh, that makes so much more sense than the story you told me,” Hermione said.
Ron continued, “Then, when you said that you were getting rid of the Heir, did you just mean that you were going to stop?”
“I was gone for two days, Ron! If I was the Heir, what do you think I was doing during that time?”
Ron shrugged. “I dunno. Dealing with your murderous urges?”
“I’m not the Heir!”
Hermione frowned. “It’s alright if you were. We won’t be angry. In retrospect, that conversation about how everyone was the Heir was clearly a cry for help. Obviously, Hagrid shouldn’t have been blamed, but he did turn out to be a Death Eater, so it’s really for the best…”
“Look, I would love to take credit for this,” I said, “but I’m not the Heir.”
“Who was it, then?” Ron asked.
“Uh, I can’t tell you,” I muttered, stroking Ophion.
Ron and Hermione shot me skeptical looks. Meanwhile, Ginevra was standing very still, eyes wide. It seemed that she was taking her duty as a guard very seriously.
They probably wouldn’t have believed me if I explained that the actual Heir was Voldemort’s childhood diary. Even if they did, that might lead them…well, Hermione to realize the existence of my Horcruxes. A decoy was clearly necessary.
I said, “Because, even if you talked to him, he wouldn’t remember the incident. You see, I obliviated him because I – like Dumbledore – believe in second chances.”
_“The red girl smells like fear,” _Ophion informed me.
“Quiet!” I snapped, “I’m trying to convince them that I’m not evil, and you eating someone will not help the situation.”
“Harry,” Hermione said. “Do you honestly expect us to believe that?”
“Yes?” I said.
At that moment, Ginevra dropped the Silencing Charm and (clearly terrified of my new pet) scurried towards the Girls’ Dormitory.
There was only one word on the note: Taffy.
I scowled down at the paper, twisting it this way and that in the hopes that more words would appear. It wouldn’t be that odd. Magic does that sometimes.
Growling, I shoved it into my pocket and glared around the breakfast table. “Did any of you tell Dumbledore about my…foreign language experience?”
Hermione and Ron both shook their heads, each absorbed in a book. Huh, Ron reading. That was a first.
“Ginevra?” I threatened.
“I wouldn’t ever betray you,” Ginevra assured me. “I owe you way too much.”
She really was a very good minion. Loyal, cunning, mildly insane, even somewhat attra…I shoved away my plate.
“Ginevra, did you put love potion in my eggs?”
“No,” she said, shaking her head. “I haven’t got all the ingredients yet.”
“If I find out that you’re lying…”
“Harry, if I had dosed you with Mum’s potion, you would be kissing me right now. It’s a really good potion.”
I nodded stiffly, glaring back down at the note. Did Silencing Charms not work on portraits? Or were the walls spying for Dumbledore, as well?
“Bloody hell, the Death Eaters were right!” Ron exclaimed.
I smirked. “Out of all my friends, I should have known that you would be the one to become a Blood Purist.”
Ron frowned. “Wha? I, no, I don’t mean it like that. They weren’t right about most things. Murdering gits. It’s just, uh, Lavender kept talking about all the stuff I dealt with as a werewolf, and I got curious about what she meant. Things really suck for them…I mean us. And, apparently, Werewolf Rights was pretty important to Death Eaters.”
“Only if the werewolf was Pureblood,” Hermione said. “Mudbloods were out of luck.”
“Twenty points for foul language, Miss Granger,” Severus said, sweeping past.
I left for the Headmaster’s office.
“They’re lying! The only language I know is English!”
I stormed into the Headmaster’s office. His phoenix landed on my shoulder, biting at my ear with…affection, I guess?
Dumbledore seemed surprised. “Ah, Harry. I called you up here today to learn more about Voldemort. Was there something else you would like to talk about?”
“No, not at all. Let’s talk about Voldemort,” I muttered.
“I see,” Dumbledore said, peering at me atop his glasses and stroking his beard with a shriveled hand. “Lemon drop?”
I waved it off, the movement jostling Fawkes. “The memory?”
“It is of the first time I met young Tom Riddle. Even then, he was a very cold child,” Dumbledore said.
We walked to the pensieve, leaning forward until we were sucked inside. I glanced at the bird still digging its claws into my shoulder and regarding the dilapidated orphanage around us with deep suspicion.
“I didn’t know phoenixes could go into pensieves,” I remarked.
Dumbledore chuckled. “Fawkes can go anywhere he likes, I think.”
We followed the younger Headmaster, then a Transfiguration professor, through his travels and conversation with a Wool’s Orphanage worker. It was then that he met the matron.
Mrs. Cole never liked me.
Further, she seemed quite intent on ensuring that Dumbledore felt the same.
Her main complaints were that I was weird (i.e. a wizard) and creepy (i.e. well-behaved). She had some legitimate points, but I would argue that all the children at my orphanage were horrible. I was just better at it than they were.
I felt a sudden regret that I’d never murdered her. I could do it now, but she was probably already dead. It had been like fifty years.
After twenty minutes of commiserating with Mrs. Cole about how awful I was, Dumbledore decided to actually meet me.
My younger self immediately began panicking, certain that he would be sent to the asylum. I’d been threatened with it plenty of times. Some nights, I lie awake, wondering if I actually was sent there.
Dumbledore responded by setting everything I owned on fire.
There’s a reason he was always my least-favorite professor.
“Is that proof enough for you, Tom?” he asked, oblivious to the phoenix flying repeatedly through his head.
“What proof? I saw nothing. You’re not taking me to the asylum,” Tom muttered.
Dumbledore’s younger self sighed, putting out the fire. The wardrobe began shivering, then, and Dumbledore encouraged the boy to take out a box filled with small things.
“Thieving is not tolerated at Hogwarts,” Dumbledore said. Of course, he didn’t bother to check the other children’s wardrobes to see if they had any of _my _things in there because that would be fair.
Dumbledore explained Diagon Alley and its many shops. “I could accompany you –”
“Hah! And let you lead me straight to the madhouse? I think not.”
I probably should have let him come. I’ve always been terrible with directions.
On the bright side, I did discover Knockturn Alley in my travels…
The moment he heard footsteps on the staircase, Ron dove under his bed covers.
Ginevra giggled at the very noticeable lump he made under the blankets. “It’s just me.”
Ron said, “Uh, ‘me’ isn’t Lavender, is it?”
“No. It’s Ginny,” she said. You’d think Ron would know his only sister’s voice, but I suppose fear had taxed his already-limited mental abilities.
“Oh, thank Merlin…Wait, what are you doing up here?! You better not be messing around with Dean, or I’ll kill him,” Ron snapped, bursting out from under the bed covers.
The redhead sat on the corner of his mattress. “Dean and I broke up a couple of weeks ago.”
“He didn’t hurt you, did he?” Ron asked, face darkening.
She shook her head, smiling. “No, nothing like that. Dean just didn’t want to date me anymore because he thinks I’m obsessed with Harry Potter. And I didn’t really want to date_ him _anymore because he got upset every time I tried to help Harry. Also, trying to maintain dozens of friendships _and _a relationship at the same time is exhausting.”
Ron frowned. “Oh. Well, why did you come here, then?”
“Harry needs our help downstairs.”
“With what?” Ron asked.
“Dunno. He didn’t say” – Ginevra turned towards the door – “Harry?”
I pulled down my invisibility cloak, wrapping it around my shoulders.
Ron rolled his eyes, grumbling, “Should’ve know you were invisible. What’s going on, then?”
I grinned. “We’re killing Bellatrix Lestrange.”
Ron’s mouth fell open into a typical Weasley pose.
Ginevra said, “Oh, we should tell Neville. He’s always wanted to do that.”
“H-how?” Ron squeaked.
“Remember how Hermione suggested that we should use my connection to the Dark Lord to play upon his paranoia, causing him to kill his own people?”
“Uh, sort of,” Ron said.
“Well, he’s finally gone to bed at a decent hour, and I’ve figured out how to activate his visions,” I said. “So come along before he wakes up.”
Ron chuckled nervously. “I, uh, can’t.”
“You’re very important for authenticity,” I said. “He’s come to expect a strong Weasley presence.”
“Sorry, mate. Lavender thinks I’m a werewolf, and it’s the night of the full moon. If she sees me, she’ll hex me for sure.”
“And break up with you,” Ginevra chirped.
“Right. She’d probly do that, too,” he agreed.
“I suppose we could do it up here,” I muttered, glancing around the Boys’ Dormitory. “You might want to put on robes first, though.”
“Let us begin our latest meeting of the Junior Order of the Phoenix,” I declared.
I stood on Ron’s bed. Below me, Hermione, Ron, Ginevra, and Neville sat cross- legged on the floor. I made a show of slowly surveying them. “It looks like everyone is here, so we shall move on to our first order of business: What have we heard from our mother organization?”
Ron snorted. “The Order’s telling us nothing.”
“Dumbledore did ask us to disband, though,” Ginevra said.
“He does that pretty often,” Neville said.
“Order. Order. Calm yourselves,” I said, gesturing for them to settle down. “Let us move on to our next topic: What have we heard from our spies?”
“I have not heard anything from Bellatrix Lestrange for weeks,” Hermione said, carefully enunciating each syllable. “I believe she may be dead.”
Neville slumped forward, leaning his cheek against a loose fist. “No. I don’t believe it.”
“Well, it was going to happen eventually,” Ginevra said. “She overacts all the time.”
“Yeah. Like anyone could ever be in love with V-Voldemort,” Ron said, looking pleased to have stuttered out my hated, former name.
“We should not lose hope,” I said. “Voldemort is too arrogant to suspect her. Bellatrix is probably fine. Now, let us discuss our group colors.”
“I suggest red and gold,” Hermione said.
“Who approves of that suggest – okay, he’s gone,” I said. “Nice job, guys. I love how you all sounded as if you had no idea what you were doing. Especially you, Ginevra.”
“I’ve always wanted to be in a play, but we don’t do those here. Or any other activities that aren’t Quidditch,” Ginevra said.
I grinned. “I suspect it’s because the school is so old. People assume that, if we don’t do something, it’s because we don’t do that here. And all the things that we started out doing have been outlawed for being too violent.”
“Like the Triwizard Tournament?” Ron asked.
“Exactly,” I said. “Of course, we did bring that back, so I suppose –”
“We just condemned a woman to death!” Hermione cried. “Are none of you even slightly upset about this?!”
I frowned. “Hermione, she’s Bellatrix Lestrange.”
“She tortured my parents into insanity,” Neville said flatly.
“She’s a Death Eater,” Ron grunted.
“She tortured Neville’s parents into insanity,” Ginevra said.
Hermione’s eyes darted between us until, finally, she groaned and buried her face in her hands. “Why am I the one everyone calls evil?”
“YOU KILLED MY SNAKE!”
Hermione looked quite justifiably horrified. “Oh, Harry. I’m so sorry. You startled me.”
I clutched at the space around my neck where Ophion had just been. “THIS IS WHAT ALWAYS HAPPENS! YOU THROW AROUND DANGEROUS SPELLS AND KILL SWEET, INNOCENT THINGS!”
“For Merlin’s sake, it was just a Jelly-Legs Jinx,” she said. “I couldn’t have known it would disappear.”
“Really, Hermione? You couldn’t have known? I save your life, you kill my pet, and that’s all you have to say to me?”
“I’m sorry, alright?” Hermione snapped. “I can conjure you a new one.”
“No, that won’t work,” I said. “You have to make Malfoy do it.”
“I am not going to taunt Malfoy into throwing a snake at me!” Hermione shouted.
Ron shook his head, muttering, “Really? Seems like that’s all you want, lately.”
She whirled around, hissing, “Shouldn’t you be off snogging Lavender or something?”
“I’ll have you know she broke up with me ‘cause she saw you sneaking off to the Boys’ Dormitory and got the wrong impression,” he said.
Hermione said, “Oh, so now that’s my fault, too?”
“Maybe it is. Maybe, if you would spend more time paying attention to your friends and less time mooning over Malfoy, none of this would be happening!”
“I do not moon over Malfoy.”
“Just stalking him, then?” he said.
I raised a hand, feeling dizzy. “Woah. You guys need to slow down for a second. I can’t keep track of all these relationships.”
I took a deep breath and continued, “Thankfully, I have people for that. Ginevra?”
The redhead ushered us into seats facing an empty wall, where Hermione and Ron continued sneering at each other. With a flick of Ginevra’s wand, dozens of pictures flew onto the board.
She cleared her throat. “Ron’s ex-girlfriend, as of this morning, is Lavender Brown. Lavender is currently trying to get together with my ex-boyfriend Dean –”
“That was quick, the bint,” Ron grumbled. Hermione elbowed him in the ribs. A crowd had begun to gather, and Lavender threw a hex in Ron’s direction.
“– but her first crush was Parvati Patil.”
“It wasn’t really a crush. We just practiced kissing together, so I would be better at it for guys like Won…I mean Deany,” Lavender said.
Ginevra continued, “Now, Parvati may be a little too close to her twin, but no one talks about that for fear of being labeled a pervert. Padma likes Ron, possibly because he reminds her of her sister. Ron, meanwhile, is in love with Hermione Granger. But he hasn’t realized that yet.”
Ron yelped, “WHAT?!”
Hermione flushed, clearly uncomfortable with the scrutiny this declaration had earned her.
“Hermione also loves Ron, but she’s waiting for him to grow up first. So it’ll probly be a while. Hermione has also been stalking Draco Malfoy. Meanwhile, in the Slytherin dorms, Crabbe is dating Tracy but likes Daphne, and Goyle is dating Daphne but likes Tracy. This would be completely independent from the web, except that all of them are also stalking Draco Malfoy. Now, Draco likes his father, his money and spending inordinate amounts of time in the Room of Requirement.”
“How do you know that?” Hermione asked. “I only figured it out a couple of days ago.”
“Quiet,” I said. “She’s on a roll.”
“Presumably, he uses it for disturbing and vaguely sexual purposes because Draco, like all Purebloods, is a pervert.”
Ron’s face twisted in confusion. “Gin, we’re Purebloods.”
“Nobody likes Neville,” Ginevra continued, “but he likes Ginny Weasley. She hasn’t noticed yet –”
“You –” Ron began, stopping short when Hermione set a hand on his shoulder.
“– because she has a HUGE crush on Harry Potter. Unfortunately for Ginny, Harry only likes inanimate objects and abstract concepts because his emotional development stalled somewhere around age eleven.”
Hermione nodded, always eager to undermine my authority.
“I could widen the web to include people not directly connected and the younger years, but then I’d need a bigger wall,” Ginevra finished apologetically.
“That isn’t necessary,” I assured her.
While Ginevra bowed to the Gryffindor common room, I turned to Hermione. “So, Draco’s hanging out in the Room of Requirement, huh? We could do something about that.”
“Malfoy can’t get into the Room of Requirement?” Hermione said, pacing the common room. “How is that even possible?”
“I sealed the room, but it isn’t foolproof. He can still collect the key, which I’ve broken into seven pieces and scattered across the castle. Once he’s gathered them all, he’ll realize that he didn’t need a key. The true key was within him all along.”
“So, he can get in, then?” Hermione said.
“Not for months.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Why didn’t you just lock the room and _not _leave the key lying around?”
“This is a ritual, Hermione,” I said. “It’s better than most magic but only works if you make it somewhat fair. Without a loophole, it isn’t fair. For instance, the Fidelius will hide you from everybody, but you have to trust one person because you can’t hide from everybody.”
Hermione frowned. “I’ve never read about that before.”
“It’s Dark Magic.”
“Huh,” Hermione said, collapsing into a loveseat. “I guess I don’t need to follow Malfoy around anymore.”
“Not unless you want to,” I agreed.
Hermione stared at the fireplace blankly. The distant squealing of Lavender Brown, new girlfriend of Dean Thomas, filled the silence. After a few minutes, she said, “I reorganized my schedule so that I would have plenty of time to investigate Malfoy. So, now, I don’t actually have anything to do.”
“You could always start recruiting for your Dark army.”
She blinked at me, and I elaborated, “Ginevra is a good start, but now is the perfect time to network. Try getting the Slytherins. They’re already trained to be minions.”
“And to hate me,” Hermione pointed out.
“It’ll be fine. Just tell them you’re a Pureblood.”
Hermione laughed, no doubt delighted by my suggestion. “It isn’t that simple, Harry.”
“Of course it is. You say that you’re from the Granger family, who are really famous in France, and they would know that if they weren’t a bunch of backwards, untraveled hicks. They say that they’ll check up on your story, but they never do.”
“You’re joking,” she said.
“Happens all the time,” I said. “I’m pretty sure Abraxas Malfoy was a Muggleborn. He said he was from France. Have you ever been to France? I’ve never been to France. I don’t think Draco’s been to France. If he has great- grandparents there, why hasn’t he ever visited? WHERE ARE THE GREAT- GRANDMALFOYS?”
Hermione began massaging her temple (probably Lavender’s fault). “You did not just accuse Draco Malfoy of being a half-blood.”
“Of course not. Draco’s a Pureblood. _Lucius _is the half-blood.”
Hermione said, “Regardless, I’ve told plenty of people I’m a Muggleborn.”
I nodded. Hermione had backed herself into a corner, and, once again, it was my job to rescue her.
“In that case, tell them that Muggleborns don’t exist,” I said.
Hermione merely raised an eyebrow, pointed at herself, and said, “Really?”
“No, hear me out here,” I said. “What if all Muggleborn children are just magical children whose parents left them with memory-charmed Muggles and then died? Or maybe they just didn’t want them.”
Hermione said, “I’m sure that, if we ask Ron –”
“He wouldn’t know,” I said. “The Weasleys keep all of their children. That’s why everyone thinks they’re weird.”
She sighed. “This is the most ludicrous thing I have ever heard in my life, and I’ve been friends with you for six years.”
I stared her dead in the eyes. “Are you honestly telling me that you can’t think of a single person who would charm a Muggle for free babysitting?”
Lavender’s squeals split the air, and Hermione, defeated, trudged off to bed.
“…and cannot access the room where he’s keeping all of his materials until he completes a quest,” Lucius finished his report, placing a kiss on the hem of my robes.
“Hm. What sort of quest?” I asked.
“He must retrieve seven keys, hidden in Hogwarts,” Lucius said.
I raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure the key isn’t already in him?”
Lucius tensed for a crucio, silver hand curled into a fist. “I don’t understand, my lord.”
“You never really understand. It’s more of a feeling…I presume this is Harry Potter’s doing. The boy is a genius, after all.”
Severus interjected, “Really? I wouldn’t know. He’s always been miserable at Potions, and he’s failing Defense Against the Dark Arts. There are basic factual errors in all of his essays. I don’t think he reads the textbook. Frankly, I’m not certain he reads.”
“That you teach both those subjects doesn’t make any difference at all, eh, Snape?” Sirius said. He lounged against the wall, a disrespect I would only allow from my right-hand man.
Severus sneered at him. “Potter’s idiocy can hardly be blamed on me.”
“Ah, come off it, Snape. We all know you hated James.”
Severus said, “I assure you that I hate the boy on his own merits. While Potter, like his father, is a pompous glory hound, he is also undoubtedly a Slytherin.”
Sirius growled, “You take that back!”
Snape merely smirked at the wand jabbed into his neck. I said, “Alright, let’s all calm down. We’ve already lost enough people to Bellatrix’s treachery.”
In retrospect, her insistence on killing her fellow Death Eaters makes a lot more sense now. I continued, “So the previous plan is ruined, then?”
“Yes, my lord,” Lucius said, trying to hide within his hair.
I sighed. “I suppose we’ll just have to floo in, then.”
Sirius blinked. “Wait, we can do that?”
I shrugged, rising from my throne. “I don’t see why not.”
A/N: While I changed the orphanage scene for my own amusement, it’s worth noting that canon’s young Tom Riddle is disturbingly like our Harrymort. He denies crimes he wasn’t accused of, jumps to wild conclusions that he refuses to let go of, and is a total braggart. Seriously, check out HBP Ch. 13. It’s freaking hilarious.< Previous Next >