Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: Control Issues :: 16 :: Weasleys Cubed

16 • Weasleys Cubed

“Finally!” George said as they all tumbled through the door into a cell. “I thought we’d never . . . get. . . .”

Harry smiled and stepped forward, flicking his wand casually to cause the door they had entered through to slam shut with a dooming sense of finality, then vanish entirely. “Hey,” he said. “Fancy meeting you lot here.”

They started to curl in on themselves slightly, and Voldemort knew his mate must be employing inverse thrall as an intimidation tactic. He remained in shadows for the time being, enjoying his usual glass of wine, and blessing the fact that it was nearly impossible for him to become intoxicated. A variant on a silencing charm made it possible for him to shift about so as not to get stiff, as well, without them hearing.

Harry raised his brows when none of them responded to his words. “Cat got your tongues?”

“Harry,” Molly finally said, “would you be a dear and open this, er, door?” She pointed at the cell door.

Harry giggled and shook his head, then said contradictorily, “Sure!” Before he did, however, he lazily shook out a second wand and used both to hit them all with stunners. After opening the door he floated them out one by one and carefully strapped them into racks, smiling cheerfully the whole time. “Happy now? I let you out of one prison where none of you did so for me.”

The stunners had not been very strong, just enough to get them resituated, so they were able to respond. “Harry, please let Ginny go,” Molly said passionately. “She knew nothing, I swear it.”

Voldemort was mildly surprised that the woman was so blatantly admitting her connivance, though not by her attempt to spare her innocent child.

Harry cocked his head to the side and gave her a wide-eyed look. “You want me to free her? To release her?”

“Yes,” Molly said simply as Arthur nodded his agreement.

Harry began pacing back and forth, muttering under his breath, and eventually stopped to raise his wand and point it at the golem. “You’re sure about this?”

They all nodded.

“Well, all right,” Harry said. “I’d be happy to . . . release . . . her. After all, the only true freedom is in death, right? Avada Kedavra!” Blinding green light shot out of his wand and struck the golem, which instantly ceased its programmed breathing.

It took several minutes for the resulting cacophony of screaming and yelling to mute in intensity to mere sobbing and cursing. “That’s one!” Harry said cheerfully. “I remember your boggart, Molly mum. Wouldn’t want you to think I’d forgotten.”

“How could you?” she asked tearfully.

Harry smiled at her innocently. “Professor Dumbledore does say that death is the next great adventure. I’m sure wherever she is she’s no longer being hurt. Well, unless she really wasn’t innocent, in which case, all bets are off.” He paused, then added, “Then again, if it is true that the afterlife allows you glimpses of the real world, I expect she’ll be hurting pretty badly once she understands what you’ve all done.”

“You vicious bastard,” Fred said raggedly. “She didn’t deserve to die. You saved her life once, and now you take it like she was some bug to squash?”

Harry shrugged and moved away a bit, toward a different cell. “She owed me a life debt, and she just paid up,” he said callously, then spelled open a door. “Come on out, Weatherby. Walkies!” Thirty seconds later he stepped back in front of his captives, Percy coming to sit on his haunches next to him and trying his best to pant like a dog.

“Isn’t he cute?” Harry asked. “I thought, well, maybe he doesn’t actually deserve to die. After all, his crime was being the minister’s whore, distracting him while Dumblefuck decided to ask Fudge to sign my life away one day. So I said to myself, ‘Self, Percy likes being authority’s bitch so much that I’ll fulfill a dream of his and make him one for real.’ And myself thought that was a brilliant idea.”

Percy made something vaguely resembling a barking noise so Harry reached down to ruffle his hair almost affectionately. “And you’re such a good doggy, aren’t you,” Harry said in a sickeningly sappy voice. Percy barked again and rubbed the side of his face against Harry’s thigh. “Yes you are. You’ll make a lovely addition to my kennel.”

“Percy?” Arthur said, his expression torn.

“Oh, he can’t answer you in English. Dogs don’t speak, they bark, and whine. It’s funny, actually. Skeeter’s article was more truthful than not for once. Weatherby here had been the minister’s bitch ever since the fiasco we know as the Triwizard Tournament and took great delight in serving Fudge’s needs,” he said maliciously. “Once I’m done with him he’ll take great delight in serving the needs of anyone who cares to use him.”

Harry stepped back and slapped his thigh, then led Percy back to his cell as the Weasleys gaped in horror at the condition of their son and brother. Harry returned a minute later and said, “That’s two! Who would you like to know about next, hm?”

Voldemort couldn’t quite decide if they were being so quiet because they were too emotionally overwrought or because they were hoping for some sort of leniency or mercy from Harry. He gave an unseen shrug; he flat out did not understand most people.

Harry decided to taunt them with Charlie next, even though of course he had not harmed a hair on the man’s head. He stuck one foot out and stared at his boot, then glanced up at the Weasleys. “Number three. You’d hardly know it, either. Charlie, such a talented fellow, and, I suspect, a bit changed by all that time with the dragons. Why, I was really impressed with how well his skin stood up to the tanning process.”

Already pale faces went paler as Harry examined his other boot. “He made for a really nice pair of boots, don’t you think? But, I don’t believe he appreciated being flayed alive. He looked quite peculiar when I was done, I must say. Would you like to see?” he inquired, then flicked his wand off to one side. A rack surged forward out of the darkness, revealing a corpse that only retained skin from the ankles down, wrists out, and the neck upward. Naturally, that corpse had Charlie Weasley’s face and build. Harry had even made sure a few fat flies appeared to be gorging themselves.

The four living Weasleys vomited at the sight. Voldemort considered it a very thoughtful touch that Harry had insisted that there be something of actual substance in their stomachs rather than hoping they would heave up normal stomach fluids. Either way, their already ragged and dirt-encrusted clothing was given a new layer of nastiness to add to the effect.

“It’s too bad, really,” Harry said as he spelled the rack back into the darkness. “It would have been nice to get more than one set of boots out of Charlie to remember him by. So, we’re up to . . . four? That would be Bill, then. Now, he really presented a challenge. But then, I had an idea, and you’re all going to be lucky enough to watch!” He flicked his wand lazily again, bringing into view an operating table like he’d had Tonks on, only this time it held the seeming body of Bill Weasley.

“No!” they shouted en masse.

“He wasn’t a part of things either!” Molly shrieked. “How could you!?”

Harry frowned slightly and swiftly cast spells to silence them. “I really don’t like being interrupted as I work, you know. As to why? Consider it partial payment, like Charlie, for your sins. You two, Arthur and Molly, were my surrogate parents. If anyone should have defended me. . . . Well, since you didn’t, I’m going to have some fun with your blood sprogs, so you can get an intimate taste of how it feels to see your own suffer even a little of what you let me feel.”

Voldemort watched as Harry seemed to cast several complicated spells, then said, “Now, those are to make sure Bill here doesn’t die on me early, or even lose consciousness. I’ve already removed his tongue, so I shan’t have to listen to him try to beg or anything silly like that.” More flicks of his wand produced an ornate table holding a series of jars in the stylized shapes of animals.

“Since Bill is such a fan of Egypt, I thought I’d do something really special for him. These”—he indicated the jars—“are canopic vessels, intended to hold viscera. You know, the soft internal organs? I’m putting a slight spin on things, because normally removal of that sort would kill him. He’ll live, though, due to magic.”

The wand went into its holster and Harry slipped on a pair of surgical gloves, then opened each of the jars and set the lids aside before snatching up a scalpel. The Weasleys were struggling in their racks and Molly’s face was swollen with silent tears. Harry sliced quickly and deeply across Bill’s abdomen, then set the scalpel aside long enough to wrench open the wound.

He managed to remove the liver and kidneys before Voldemort had to nudge him. Harry glanced up from dropping an organ into a jar and scowled. “Now, there’ll be none of that. If Bill has to stay awake through this, so do you all.” He wandered out of sight for a minute and reappeared dragging a small tub, then plunged his hands in to wash off the blood.

His wand appeared afterward and Harry cast several spells, those to keep his victims awake and unable to keep their eyes closed. The golem of Bill was moaning without surcease, but naturally his mate ignored that and went right back to digging around for organs to plop into the waiting jars, making sure to get blood everywhere in the process, even occasionally shaking his hands and splattering it over the Weasleys.

And then, the cavalry arrived, if one could call a single man the cavalry. Albus Dumbledore burst through the hidden door from whence they had arrived and then, into the dungeon proper, his wand extended in a threatening manner. “Fear not!” he thundered in that odd, dusty voice of his, then seemed to notice the captives could not voice their thoughts and quickly removed the silencing charms.

Harry rolled his eyes and scowled. “Bloody hell. How the fuck did you find this place?” he asked over a background counterpoint of Weasleys screeching at the headmaster to be released. “Shut up, you lot!” Harry said and silenced them again before turning toward Dumbledore.

“You will let them go, Harry,” Dumbledore said. “You will kill no more people in your madness. Surrender and we will make sure you get the help you need.”

Harry snorted rudely. “Have you been watching too much Monty Python? Is that it? I mean, who the fuck barges in and says, ‘Fear not!’ Oh, wait, you lot don’t normally have televisions, do you? Badly written fantasy novels, then? If the phrase ‘it’s just a flesh wound’ comes up any time soon, we’re going to have words.”

Dumbledore paused for just a split second, then rallied forth once more. “Harry, you must listen to me.”

“Like hell I do,” Harry responded. “My hitch in the army is up. I’m pretty sure I was given a medical discharge. The brass boys seemed to think I was a bit whacked in the head, though I can’t imagine why. In any case, I’m no longer a part of Dumblefuck’s Army, so you can just learn to deal with hearing someone tell you no.”

“I see I have no choice but to subdue you in a duel,” Dumbledore said gravely.

Harry giggled manically and stripped off his gloves, tossing them carelessly to the side before arming himself again. “Sure you’re up for it, old man? I think this lot will be really disappointed when you lose. Why, I think that might result in a shocking lack of faith in you.” He pushed the tables back out of the way to make room, then positioned himself, slightly crouched and ready to spring into action.

Voldemort was aware that the Weasley parents had only seen a couple of the earlier training missions Harry had done and so would not be adequately prepared for what was about to occur, and the twins had never really understood the results of his mate’s training.

Dumbledore made the first move, choosing to send a bludgeoning curse Harry’s way. Harry dodged fluidly and immediately conjured up a nest of serpents, hissing at them to harass the Weasleys. Then he strafed Dumbledore with reductor curses as he moved in a semicircle. The old man was surprisingly agile as he avoided them and returned with an obscure bit of transfiguration.

Harry summoned a door off its hinges from one of the unused cells and levitated it to intercept, then flung it toward Dumbledore with a swish of his wand. It came back a moment later, missing Arthur Weasley by a hairsbreadth, and causing the man to lose control of his bodily functions. “Ware, old man! Those snakes might kill the very people you’re trying to save.”

Dumbledore hesitated for a second, cast a spell to lower the temperature in the room, then attacked again with an entrail-expelling curse. Harry skipped aside nimbly and favored the old man with a blasting curse that was bounced back almost immediately. Harry ducked to the side and it hit Bill instead; a second later blood and guts exploded everywhere, splattering the Weasleys a fair amount and causing them to dry heave.

Harry giggled again and shook his head as he circled around at a fair distance. “Naughty naughty, Dumblefuck. You’re supposed to subdue me and save them, not kill your own people.”

“I will prevail,” came that dusty voice. “Darkness shall not win over the Light.”

Harry laughed. “And you actually believe that shit?” he asked as he let loose with a volley of blasting curses. “You, the one who acts ten times worse than any dark lords I happen to know?”

“Your serpent’s tongue will not sway me,” Dumbledore said, firing off alternating bludgeoning and incarceration curses. “The Light exists to hold back the Dark, just as it is in nature.”

“Rhetoric, you hypocritical old man. Sheer rhetoric.” And then Harry got down to business, beginning to show off by moving so quickly he was nearly a blur, shooting off spells from what seemed like every direction at once.

Ten agonizing minutes passed as they fought and the dungeon became more and more like a scene out of a war-torn city. Molly lost control of her functions when a scalpel embedded itself into the rack she was on, right between her legs, and then the twins as canopic jars went flying straight at their heads only to be knocked away by Dumbledore at the last second.

Harry seemed a little pissed off when he shouted, “Hey! Those jars were expensive! Straight from Egypt I’ll have you know.”

Dumbledore seemed to be wearing down slightly, losing strength, and Harry’s expression was one of fanatical glee as he pressed his advantage. But then, Dumbledore held up a hand, and Harry skidded to a stop, planting one hand on his hip.

Dumbledore walked into the darkness, much to the obvious surprise of the Weasleys, and returned shortly thereafter with a glass of wine, which he began to sip as though it was a perfectly normal thing to do in the middle of a duel. “I haven’t had this good of a workout in years, Harry.”

Harry grinned and sent him a mock salute.

Dumbledore had another sip, then commented, “Rather a shame about Bill, though. I know how much you wanted to complete that evisceration.”

Harry pouted rather adorably. “Yes, true. But I still have these four to play with,” he said, totally ignoring the shocked struggling going on. “Are we done, then?”

“Yes, my sweet. I am weary of playing that silly old man.” Dumbledore raised his wand and made a complicated pattern in the air with it, his visage changing abruptly into that of Lord Voldemort once more. “I shall have some more wine while you continue to have your fun, Harry.” He smiled, which seemed to scare the Weasleys into a brief bout of unconsciousness that lasted approximately two seconds before the spells forced them back awake, then conjured up a squashy chair and had a seat, summoning over his little table and bottle of wine a moment later.

“Okay,” Harry said chirpily. “So, um, where was I before intermission? Oh! Right. Time for number five! By the way, folks, I am supposed to point out that this intermission was sponsored by the Dark Lord Performing Arts School of Serpens. They take only the best, the darkest, and the ones with the most evil laughter. And now, back to our session of torture! Up next is. . . .

“You might think I’m going to say Ron, but I’m not. After all, he’s done something very naughty himself, what with this whole business of joining Lord Voldemort. And you might think because of the rumors that he showed his loyalty by bringing either me or Lupin to the Dark Lord, but really, that’s not what happened at all.”

Harry turned slightly and waved his wand, bringing forth from the darkness the rack that still contained the corpse of Hermione Weasley. “You have no idea how pleased he was to exercise his creativity on that mudblood he married. Seems to me that you’re going to have a deuced hard time getting any more grandsprogs, Molly mum.

“Now, for reference, I will point out that the younger Mrs Weasley is missing a tongue and most of her fingers and toes. You see, she flat out wouldn’t shut up, and Ronald was getting a wee bit tired of listening to her harp. You’ll also notice the numerous whip marks. I believe he may have got that idea from Sevvie, but I’d have to double-check. So, really, that brings us down to you four.”

Hermione’s rack was sent back with another wave of his wand and swallowed by darkness. “And that means we’re getting down to brass tacks. I think, in the interests of children first, that the twins are next on my list to administer chastisement to.”

Voldemort wondered where they were getting the energy to struggle from. The maze run had tired them all out and the excitement they had been put through since must have been draining as well.

Harry cleaned up slightly with his wand, more himself than anything else, and conjured a squashy chair to flop into. “So, you, Fred and George. You, the boys who came to rescue me one fine night from the oppression of the Dursleys and bring me back to yours. You, the boys who thoughtfully gifted me the Marauder’s Map. You never did figure out who the Marauders were, which I think is practically a criminal offense. Just so you know they were James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew.

“But, that’s not why you’re going to suffer and die. I thought it was rather nasty of you two to cozy up to me for all those years with the idea of using me. It’s worked out well, I admit. My face and name sells half the things in your shop, a shop you were able to start so early thanks to my generosity, and because I thought we all needed some cheering. Granted, I expect you’d have managed it either way. The Triwizard winnings I gave you just made it happen faster.

“In any case, I also thought it was nasty to find out that my vaults were seeing none of the profits. That’s my face splashed all over, selling your goods, and I saw nothing in the way of a fee, or royalties. You got your endorsements nearly for free. I know it cost you money to deal with Sevvie, but that was minor in comparison to the actual sales generated once you had your hands on polyjuice potion and samples of my hair so you could take photographs in secret.

“In that sense, I ended up being a whore in more ways than one. My mouth and ass were whored to Sevvie, my skill and ability to Dumbledore, while my face and name were whored to you two. You knew exactly what you were doing. It was a cold, hard business deal all the way. And even that wasn’t enough. You also used money from my accounts, given you by Dumblefuck, to support your lifestyle rather than relying on what was already a good income.

“You used my money for your loan payments, so in effect, I’ve paid half again the value of that property in order to obtain title. I guess it’s a good thing I’m so damn wealthy. I’ll never have to work a day in my life if I don’t want to, huh? But really, what it all comes down to is you sighted me that first day on the platform, thought about it, and decided I was the perfect cash cow opportunity. Precocious little bastards, weren’t you.”

Harry leapt out of the chair and said, “Well, boys, I want my money back, with interest, so the first thing that’s going to happen is I shave you both bald. Did you know, that even after a body dies, parts harvested prior can be used in polyjuice potion? Did you also know that there’s a massive black market for sexual perversities in the wizarding world out there? I happen to know of a little establishment that would pay me very handsomely for materials from twins.

“They like to be able to please their customers, fulfill their requests, you see, whether that be prostitutes who look like a particular someone, or those same faces to be worn so that someone can feel like they’ve killed the real deal.” Harry then whipped out a set of straight razors and charmed them, summoned two trays, and sent all of them over to the twins. It took a few minutes, but they both ended up shaved bald as an egg, all their hair neatly falling into the containers.

“Great! Now that that’s taken care of, let’s talk about payment again. You know, I really, really considered the idea of making you two organ donors. I could get tons of money for your organs on the black market, and you’d be helping people a bit more innocent than yourselves continue to live. However, that sort of lost all its fun when poor Bill got blown up like that. Not that I was going to sell his organs, mind you, but still.

“Anyway, everyone has such a hard time telling you two apart, so I’ll take care of that next,” Harry said, moving toward another wall shadowed in darkness. A soft whoosh sounded as a fire came to life. Or rather, was revealed. Harry reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of heavy gloves and put them on, then wrapped his hands around twin metal poles and hauled back.

They could clearly be seen as branding irons once he stepped back up to the twins, one for each of them. Harry grinned in anticipation as he held them up and pushed forward, the twins trying desperately to cringe back, away, but went stock still and let out soundless screams of agony when the irons pressed against their foreheads with a sickening sizzle. The scent of burning flesh filled that part of the room, and when Harry eased back and tossed the irons aside, each twin had a name branded into them.

Harry stripped off his gloves and tossed those aside as well. “Something tells me no one will have any problems now knowing which one of you is which.” Then he paused and looked almost upset. “Oh dear, I’ve done you with each other’s names. How dreadfully silly of me.” Harry tossed his hands up in the air and shook his head. “I suppose it doesn’t matter. You’re practically the same person anyway, right?”

Voldemort abruptly conceived an idea and cleared his throat softly, causing Harry to turn around and glance at him questioningly. “Harry, my sweet, a word if you please?”

Harry blinked, then nodded. “Of course.” He spelled his chair over to rest next to Voldemort’s and had a seat, then leaned sideways in a confidential posture. “What is it?”

“I find myself quite curious about the potential for your thrall. You can demonstrably restrain it, and even invert it, but can you direct it with any kind of finesse?” he almost whispered, even while making sure his voice would carry to the ears of his mate’s victims.

Harry turned his head to look at him directly. “What are you getting at?”

“Perhaps you hadn’t noticed during our little foray into their minds, but the twins are quite used to taking care of each other when necessary, if you catch my meaning.”

His mate gasped softly. “Who knew the wizarding world was filled with such kinky bastards. Next thing you’ll be telling me is Molly gets off on tying Arthur to the bed on occasion or buggering him with a strap-on.”

“Actually. . . .”

Harry shot to his feet and gave him an incredulous look.

Voldemort chuckled and shook his head. “Just teasing, love. Seriously, though. . . .” He did not miss the sudden wetness in his mate’s eyes at that endearment, nor the look of total vulnerability that flashed across his face as Harry went to resume his seat. “I simply thought you might wish to take this opportunity to see just how much control you have. And if it upsets them, or some of them, all the better.”

Harry stared at him, then slowly, smiled. “Really?” he asked with a shy tilt of his head.

“Yes, really,” he replied, knowing exactly what his mate was asking. “Very much so.” He rather thought Harry wanted to crawl onto his lap on the spot and seduce him. He had another sip of wine and asked, “So what do you think?”

Harry licked his lips, instantly igniting a fire in Voldemort’s loins, and said, “I suppose you’re right, Tom. I should take the opportunities that present themselves, and expand my knowledge where possible.” He slid out of his chair, produced both wands, then strode forward confidently. In less than a minute a rather peculiar cage had come into existence, one that stretched from floor to ceiling and several yards in either direction, and was translucent as well as being pierced by a number of small holes.

It was into that construct that the two freshly stunned young men were placed. Harry spelled his chair over, then gestured for Voldemort to join him. The cage itself was situated between them and the elder Weasleys. Harry then holstered his wands and began to concentrate, his eyes narrowing. By the time they came out of the stun both were showing definite signs of arousal, and they had only each other to turn to.

They fought it, though, that was clear. They had separated themselves as much as possible within the cage and kept shooting anxiety-filled glances at their parents, and even at Harry and Voldemort. Voldemort chuckled when he realized that his mate had not bothered to clean either of them up, so their clothing was covered in fluids of all sorts, their own and that of their supposed brother.

Molly and Arthur seemed to be unaffected by Harry’s efforts, and instead were struggling in a way that suggested they wanted to prevent what might happen, and indeed, their unheard attempts at speech could be easily deciphered in some cases as things like, “No!”

Harry concentrated harder, raising his hands a bit and looking almost like he was trying to direct them individually. Time and effort wore them down; the twins capitulated, ripping off what remained of their clothing and flinging themselves at each other, dropping to the floor in a hungry kiss. Voldemort noticed his mate shudder slightly, then relax.

“What?” he whispered.

Harry glanced over, a gleam in his eyes. “Just thinking about how those mouths must taste, that’s all, not to mention the smell at close proximity.”

Voldemort shuddered as well, then looked through the construct to see how the parents were doing. Oddly, Arthur Weasley had settled into a look of immense sadness, though his wife was still doing her best to protest vehemently. It was one of those times he wished he was an empath or really could read minds with less effort than it took to blink. Voldemort was quite curious about what both of them were thinking and feeling.

Then he glanced back into the cage; George was the dominant twin if the display before him was anything to go by. Fred was face down on the floor, only his ass up in the air, while George pounded into him. Voldemort had no doubt Fred would have bruises on his hips if he lived so long as for them to properly form. He leaned sideways and whispered, “And just when did you cease thralling them?”

“Right about when they kissed. What they’re doing now is completely voluntary, and even at that, I don’t think thrall is all that much like, oh, the imperius curse. Closer to veela, I suppose.”

Voldemort half shrugged. “Perhaps. I am pleased that you’ve shown you can differentiate between targets, limit it to those chosen, and can find middle ground between a full broadcast and choking it back.”

“Well, if I was feeling really sick I could get them to engage in an orgy,” Harry quipped quietly. “Still, it’s a bit odd that Arthur is so . . . sad, don’t you think?”

George went slightly out of control, jerking wildly into his brother, then collapsed over his back.

“And now?” Voldemort asked quietly.

“Now I see just how interchangeable they are,” Harry replied just as quietly, then rose and aimed stunners through the air holes in the cage. Once both men collapsed Harry vanished the cage entirely and summoned over two tables. One to each, his mate poured potions down their throats and made sure they swallowed before he secured them down at the waist, chest, and throat with heavy leather straps.

The tables were . . . very different, though, not like the one Bill had been strapped to.

And before they were released from the stunners, Harry also removed the silencing charms. “Now, boys, I’m going to have a bit of fun experimenting with you two. Since I messed up those brands I’ll just have to make a few corrections, all right? You might even live through the experience. But don’t worry, in the end you’ll pay with your lives. Those potions were to paralyze you, by the way, which you’ve no doubt figured out, but you can still vocalize.”

Harry threw all caution to the winds and morphed into his Lord Thanatos appearance, a scythe appearing in his hand a second later. “I am Death,” Harry intoned. Then he wielded his scythe to the sound of frightened gibbering and slashed the curved blade down, slicing off Fred’s left arm at just below the shoulder. A few seconds later he had done the same to George.

The scythe disappeared before Harry crouched to pick up the dismembered limbs and swap them in his hands. Fred’s was placed on the left arm extension of George’s table, and vice versa, and Harry whipped out one of his wands to do a bit of repair surgery. When complete, their left arms had been reattached by magic, an angry red scar seam encircling each.

“That didn’t seem so hard, now did it?” Harry asked. “Let’s try the rest of them, hm?” He proceeded to lop off their right arms and swap them, then each of their legs. And through it all, thanks to spells Voldemort had thoughtfully taught his mate, the men lived. They weren’t exactly happy about it.

“I wonder,” Harry said absently. He produced his scythe again and pushed the sharp tip of the blade into Fred’s leg. Fred didn’t so much as twitch, but he did respond with a moan of pain. Harry turned to Voldemort and beamed. “Neat! Looks like I got the nerve endings all matched up properly. I wonder if they could actually move about normally if I released them.

“Something tells me, though, if I tried to do that with their heads, it’d fail,” he said quite seriously. “Probably the same if I split them up the middle and tried to attach them half to half. They’d most likely end up no better than Inferi, huh?”

Voldemort nodded, though frankly, he had no real idea.

“Aside from the hair, I’m not going to get much money back out of this deal so far.” Harry seemed rather upset about that. Then he straightened to his full height, which was an even six feet, and gave a feral sort of smile. “I guess payment in blood will do, boys.” With that pronouncement he swung his scythe sideways and sliced off both their penises, minute wrist movements making for clean cuts. “Let’s see how long it takes to bleed to death, darlings.”

Large jars were produced to contain the flow of blood, and Harry vanished his weapon and had a seat, deciding it was time to relax again for a bit. “It’s odd,” he whispered. “Arthur still just looks sad. Almost heartbroken. But not . . . necessarily because of the deaths or pain.”

Voldemort shrugged. “Perhaps after these two are dead you can remove the silencing spells and see what the man has to say.”

“I’ve got to say, this is one of the odder sessions I’ve done.” Harry gave him a look that mixed amusement with weariness.

“Don’t go soft on me just yet,” Voldemort said in a hushed tone.

His mate’s eyes gleamed. “No. Not yet. I still have vengeance to enact. After that, maybe I’ll settle for being intimidating in an exalted sort of way.”

“That I can believe, my sweet Harry.”

Harry’s gaze softened again, and he smiled, almost tremulously. “I shouldn’t like to disappoint.”

“Impossible.” Voldemort knew he should stop distracting his beloved from his work, but he just couldn’t help himself. Seeing that vulnerability was almost addicting, and the thought that it wasn’t due to pain. . . .

They waited in companionable silence until the twins breathed their last, dying at very nearly the same moment. Voldemort produced his wand long enough to discreetly cast stasis charms on the bodies, then sat back again as Harry did a teensy bit of tidying up.

“That’s six and seven,” Harry said, his eyes flicking back and forth from Arthur to Molly. “I guess that means it’s your turn, huh? Time for the old parental units to bite the proverbial bullet. Hey! That might be an interesting way to go, actually. Too bad I don’t happen to have any guns. Well, I suppose now that all your lovely children are dead, I should give you two the chance to comment. Maybe rate things on a scale of one to ten? Perhaps I should go ahead and make them Inferi after all and trot them out each Halloween.” He waved his wand twice.

“You unbelievable bastard,” Molly whispered after a moment. Harry didn’t bat an eyelash at that, naturally.

It was Arthur’s words that held Harry’s attention hostage. “You’re right, you know. We all deserve this retribution on your part. I might try to make some small allowance for the children—they were hit with this young—but there’s no excuse for grown men and women to have ever gone along with Albus’s orders, to have sentenced an innocent young man to what you went through.”

Harry cocked his head to the side, like he was confused.

“I did, actually, think of you as a son, and that alone makes the betrayal warrant death. Despite what you must have gone through already, you showed up at our house as a cheerful boy, willing to put up with my fascination with muggles and the muggle world, patiently explaining things to me. I sacrificed my son in spirit for those of blood, and let my wife browbeat me into agreeing to everything.

“So I’m not going to protest what you do to me. I deserve it, because I’m an adult who should be able to think for himself, and stand up against what he knows is wrong. I’m sorry, and I offer my sincere apology for my actions, and I’ll accept whatever punishment you deem to give with as much dignity as I can still muster. I am a weak man, but I can hope to meet my death with some measure of self-respect intact.”

Voldemort was puzzled at his mate’s lack of response until he saw Harry nearly stagger back, sitting down in his chair heavily. A lone tear had escaped his shining eyes, quickly followed by a second. “Tom, what do I do?” Harry whispered.