Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: CIA :: 04 :: Vista

04 • Vista

When they emerged from the memories Harry immediately moved to assist Fleur into a chair, as she looked like she might faint. Bill found his own chair, but looked no more composed than she did. Harry quietly retrieved the memories and took a seat as well, and waited for one of them to speak.

Eventually, Bill did. “I’m not sure what to say. That was brutally inhumane.”

“Yes,” Harry responded, “but to many people I’m just a magical creature, not a sentient being with rights. And they made sure I was no longer human.”

“Snape?” Fleur asked faintly.

He nodded. “It was his research that provided a way to force a person with the potential to be fully transformed. It made things easier for them. I’m sure if you consider the implications inherent in what you witnessed, and what’s been happening lately, you’ll understand.”

Harry got up long enough to secure a bottle of wine and glasses, then poured for his lover, casting an inquiring look at their guests to see if they also wished for some. On getting nods he poured two more, then settled back in his chair. “As I’m sure you can figure out, I escaped the situation. They became too confident and too lax, and I took advantage of their hubris.”

Bill cast a searching look at him, then said, “You’re the one who has been responsible for all of those Order victories. That was the whole point of your . . . training?”

He sneered faintly and nodded. “Well, that and to carry out my supposed purpose in life, to defeat Voldemort. I was to be executed once that was taken care of, so that I wouldn’t burden anyone with the need to make sure I was unable to rebel, physically, magically, monetarily, or politically.”

Fleur’s gaze narrowed, her expression lessening from its previously sick countenance. “You escaped in April, didn’t you,” she said rather shrewdly. At his nod she continued, “Then you’re probably responsible for. . . .”

Bill choked slightly and shot Harry an alarmed look.

He half smiled. “Very clever.”

Bill dropped his gaze and turned partly in his chair, though Voldemort could not be sure why until the man said, “And my . . . family . . . was in on this? That’s why you were almost a forbidden topic around Charlie and me? And you. . . ?”

Obviously deciding that bluntness was a virtue, Harry said, “Yes, I killed them. I killed those directly involved in my training, and those who supported or knowingly benefited from it. I am the one responsible for almost single-handedly decimating the Order forces in a remarkably short measure of time. Two people were not killed, but also did not get away without penalty. Everyone else, well, I took care of, and out of that only one person repented before death. You, Charlie, and Ginny were spared.”

Bill’s head shot back up. “Ginny is okay?”

“Yup. She and Neville are fine last I checked, and she hasn’t come to me with any emergencies. I made sure they were set up in a nice, fully supplied home, and with enough money for several years even if neither of them worked. I also made sure they couldn’t be located easily, so if you want me to pass on a message, I will.”

Bill looked grateful for that, but otherwise unsure how to proceed.

“Perhaps now food would do nicely,” Voldemort suggested quietly, then jerked his chin over toward the door in a subtle movement.

Armand and Marius were hovering just the other side of the doorway, so Harry smiled in welcome and rose, gesturing them in. They had obviously returned from their visit to the village and looked to be in good spirits, so perhaps they would also serve as a calming influence on Bill and Fleur.

“In that case, I’ll get started,” Harry said as he moved toward the cupboards.

“Gentlemen,” Voldemort said, “these are the two we mentioned, Bill and Fleur. And for our visitors, these are Armand and Marius, guests of ours.”

Fleur looked up with a somewhat forced smile, then arched one brow. “Ah, I see,” she said, glancing briefly at Harry, who seemed to be engrossed in his self-appointed task of cooking. “I expect you are here on behalf of Harry, no?”

Not another word spoken until after the meal was over had anything to do with anything important. Everyone put on their best party manners and got through the delicious meal Harry had made before the conversation turned back to the ugly reality of Harry’s life and what he had done because of it.

Even so, Voldemort continued to be mildly surprised that for such intelligent people, neither Bill nor Fleur had yet made the connection between his alarmingly common given name of Tom, and that of Tom Riddle. Perhaps they gave his beloved more credit than most when they did not necessarily assume that Harry must have sought out another power to assist his personal opposition?

In any case, Bill had obviously managed to regroup, and followed Harry’s earlier example of bluntness. “So, you killed most of my family.”

“Yes. The only one connected to events who was not is Percy, and he was given his own form of punishment. The rest all had very definite reasons for their betrayal of me.”

“May I ask why, for each?” Bill did not exactly look like he wanted to know so much as needed to.

“All right. To begin, Ron. His jealousy and willful blindness about the reality of my life led him to be quite enthusiastic about the idea of my training, and about the idea of getting his own allowance from the fortunes I inherited. So long as he got what he wanted out of the deal he was content to watch his supposed best friend be treated like that without a murmur of discontent.

“The twins had their eyes on me since that first fateful meeting at Kings Cross, and used me to further their business schemes. My name, face, and reputation were whored out to them—Snape was very willing to provide polyjuice and hair samples, and Dumbledore was also sharing my money with them.

“The articles about Percy and Fudge were actually quite accurate, but as Percy’s involvement was peripheral, I spared his life, though not his mind. Percy presently believes he’s a dog, a bitch, and is extremely amenable to the desires of others, much like he was for Fudge. His attention to his superior helped to ease the way for Dumbledore to get what he wanted, that being Ministry approved control of me to do with as he wished.

“Your mother was convinced I was a dangerous freak liable to get all of you killed, and enthusiastically endorsed the plans to train me as a mindless assassin. She might have cared about me at first, but along the way only interacted with me as a favor to Dumbledore and as a way to keep an eye on me.

“And lastly, your father. He let himself be talked into things by Molly. He admitted this, and he apologized for his mistakes and failings. Arthur was the only person out of everyone involved who was sorry for what he’d done, if that tells you anything about the basic character of the Order’s inner circle members.

“So, I’m rather regretful for you when I say that half your family was either quite nasty under the surface, or easily seduced or brainwashed by Dumbledore. But I will not apologize for my actions toward them once I was free.”

“And the rest all had their own reasons,” Bill said softly.

“Indeed. And as I said not so long ago to my guests here, given the hundreds of people I was forced to kill for the Order, I really didn’t have a problem with killing a few more for very personal reasons, you know? I took especial delight in Dumbledore’s execution, actually.”

Bill visibly swallowed, blinked, then said, “And what about Voldemort?”

Voldemort nearly choked on his wine at such blatant evidence that Harry’s visitors were still so clueless, and watched in amusement as his beloved first gave Bill a long look, then slowly smiled, and eventually broke out into a fit of giggling.

“Harry?”

His mate got a hold of himself and looked at Bill again, then said, “I think there’s something you aren’t quite getting yet, and I must say, I hope that’s because you actually think well of me for the most part. More likely, however, it’s because your brains are rattled.

“Bill,” he said gently, “Voldemort isn’t the problem. He hasn’t really been a problem for several years now. The problem is the way the British Ministry is set up. The problem is in how the people just don’t seem to care about certain laws so long as they personally aren’t discomfited by them.

“The problem is when officials and workers at the Ministry get away with practically murder in the advancement of their own personal agendas, which was never exactly a chore with someone like Fudge in charge. The problem is when people like Dumbledore, with all his power and influence, do absolutely nothing to fix things.”

“But, Harry, Voldemort. . . . Are you trying to tell me he just up and decided one day to stop trying to kill you? That we can forget he’s even out there? I’ve seen some of th—” Bill snapped his mouth shut and looked very thoughtful all of a sudden.

A minute or so went by before he said, “I know there’ve been attacks. How is it that if Ron is dead, he was seen acting as one of Voldemort’s men more than once? How can Voldemort not be a problem when he’s obviously still stirring up trouble and recruiting, both in and out of the country?”

Harry didn’t know if he should feel miffed or not that Lord Thanatos wasn’t even mentioned. He cast a briefly speculative look at Voldemort, then back at Bill after getting a faint nod. “What I intend to show you will either make or break our little discussion today,” he said as he pulled the pensieve back over to him and started drawing out copies of memories to place inside it.

Voldemort knew exactly what was being offered, starting with Harry’s arrival in his sitting room that fateful day. Most of the scenes his beloved would be sharing were chosen with an eye toward demonstrating that Voldemort wasn’t an irrational, psychotic madman, and actually did possess a shred or two of humanity.

Obviously, it would be revealed who Tom really was, but the memories themselves should soften that blow. He also knew that Harry would be sharing the scene with Arthur and Molly, as well as the one with Dumbledore commanding Harry to kill. There would even be scenes involving Ginny to add to the overall effect.

“You give these a look, okay?” Harry said once he was finished, then added with a grin, “And hey, I hope more nudity doesn’t offend you.”

There was another round of light conversation while Bill and Fleur were memory surfing, and Harry was happy to break out what he had bought at a pâtisserie, not having the inclination or skill with that sort of thing. The two men had been pleased to visit home and check in with Rialis, and carried back with them her greetings and well wishes.

The reactions of Bill and Fleur when they emerged were interesting. Bill was pale, what freckles he did have standing out in stark relief on his face, and he appeared to be shaking slightly. Fleur, on the other hand, displayed a mixture of wariness and pleasure.

“Holy mother of Merlin,” Bill said. “Are you going to kill us now?”

Harry blinked slowly and pushed the pastry plate toward the two, then said, “Well, that depends. If you decide to attack me because I executed half your family, or because I decided to shack up with Lord Voldemort and become a dark lord in my own right, then yeah, sure, consider yourselves toast. Also, if you were inclined, when you left here, to spill your guts to the press about my new occupation and what I’ve been up to, then yes. Otherwise. . . .”

“I think it is very sweet that you have such a caring and protective bond mate,” Fleur said mildly and reached for a pastry, carefully not looking at Voldemort.

“I don’t—I meant it when I said I think of you as family, as a brother. I’ve regretted that I never was able to spend more time with you, and now I’m having so much trouble trying to reconcile between the boy I once knew and the man you’ve become, Harry.”

“In my eyes it’s a very simple choice,” Harry said, “but I must admit that my world view is a touch warped these days. To be frank, I thought you were the coolest person I’d ever met, and I loved how you stood up to your mother on your style. I’m pretty sure it was you that started me wondering if I was gay, actually.”

Bill looked briefly startled, then chuckled uneasily. “I’m flattered, I think.”

“You ought to be,” Harry said with a grin. “I’m known to be pretty damn clueless, after all.” Then he sobered and said, “Look, I’ll make this easy. Swear me an oath, just like Armand and Marius have. You won’t communicate, either of you, in any way about what you’ve learned and experienced today except with each other or one of us. No writing things down, no people listening at the keyhole, forgetting that there’s a portrait in the room, or a ghost has access, so on and so forth.

“You swear that oath and you can walk away to think about things, all right? If you decide you want to talk again you can leave a message for me at Gringotts under my assumed name. My account manager there will make sure I receive it.”

Bill gave Harry a sharp look. “Don’t tell me, the goblin’s name is Nitpuff? He’s been unbearably smug lately, even for a goblin.”

Harry laughed and nodded. “I pay him well to look after my interests, and he’s been a good ally.”

“Then he must know who you really are. Of course, a bought goblin stays bought, so he’s safe.”

“Well, if you swear the oath, I’ll make sure he knows to accept any letters from you or Fleur. And I’ll amend what I said slightly. You could talk to Ginny, of course, but she really didn’t want to know a lot of the details. It’d be cruel of me not to facilitate a reunion, though. If you can’t swear an oath I’m going to have to obliviate you, but I’ll still let Ginny know you’d like to see her, and explain to her what she’s not allowed to talk about.”

“That is a very generous offer under the circumstances,” Fleur said, wiping her hands daintily on a napkin. “Darling, I think we should swear the oath. Besides, I want to hear all about these two men, as I must wonder if they are present because Harry wishes to have a family.”

Bill stared at her blankly for a few moments, then nodded. After the details were taken care of, Harry felt free to quite nearly gush over the possibility of him being pregnant already, and talk about babies took up the remainder of the visit. Voldemort found it all rather amusing, especially as they were all determined to gloss over his actual identity. Being just Tom for a few hours was somewhat refreshing, actually, though a mite damaging to his well-deserved reputation.

*

A week or so later Harry and Voldemort had finished construction of a massive chart to cover one wall that diagrammed those employed at the Ministry of Magic, but had happily diverted one afternoon to the makeshift infirmary in the house so that Armand could run scans as Marius and Voldemort looked on. As Armand finished his spell work he looked back and forth between them with a smile on his face.

“So, am I?” Harry asked.

“Yes, you are. It will be several more weeks before I can determine if it will be a single or multiple birth, though. And it won’t be until around four months that we can determine gender. Now, as a reminder, you’re not going to become ill with something like morning sickness, but you might find yourself needing to feed more often even early on.

“Unlike humans you have a decided advantage. The body of an incubus or succubus is fashioned with quite a number of the so-called normal organs missing, and that is still the case with you. Most of your original organs were absorbed or transformed, so there’s a lot of cushioning instead that will help protect your child while it develops.

“That does not mean, however, that you should not be careful, and I will be reminding you of when you need to seriously curtail your sparring. Now—”

Harry cut him off, nearly vibrating with excitement. “If that’s the case, then how soon before you can tell if the child is human or incubus? I mean, I don’t remember anything about that.”

Armand smiled indulgently and said, “Your child will appear to be human until puberty, at which time the transformation will begin, if it’s going to happen, and the child will start to seek out pleasure in addition to human food for their sustenance.”

Voldemort coughed meaningfully and pinned Armand with a look. “Puberty? And exactly what age is that for an incubus?” Visions of his eleven or twelve year old child sizing up people for sexual encounters was rather off-putting as a concept.

Marius chortled and flapped one of his hands in dismissal. “Not in human terms. In point of fact, that’s a good indication right there. The child will still develop normal outward sex characteristics, but in the case of a female, they won’t begin menstruating. It’s more difficult to tell with males. It’s not until they reach about sixteen or thereabouts that their body begins to transform to what our species considers to be normal.”

“Oh, okay,” Harry said, looking thoughtful. “I suppose it makes sense in a way, then, that people of our race tend to live together. I mean, there really is a difference between sex for food and other, um, reasons for it.”

“Yes, exactly. At least you can find reassurance in that we must mean to conceive or cause conception in order for it to have a chance of happening. Birth control for us is a state of mind. Humans have a tendency to think of our young women and men as being a bit promiscuous if they don’t realize what we are, or refuse to understand our needs.”

Voldemort felt a bit better after that, and pushed away those concerns after reminding himself that it would be years before it was actually an issue.

“As I was saying before the interruption,” Armand said patiently, “you may also become tired much more easily. Your body has to convert your form of sustenance into something the child can use, and that takes a lot more energy since you are not ingesting food like a human. If you’re tired, admit it, and don’t ignore it. If you’re hungry, feed more often. You need to listen to what your body is telling you.”

Harry nodded, then laughed. “At least I shan’t be having peculiar food cravings to drive Tom crazy with.”

“No,” said Marius cheerfully, “but you might have mood swings.”

*

“Thanks, Nitpuff.” Harry gathered up his mail, gave a nod to the goblin, then strolled out and returned to the compound to begin preparing lunch. He tossed an absent smile over his shoulder when Voldemort and his guests arrived, then slid platters of food onto the table and took a seat.

After loading up his plate and glancing at Voldemort, Armand said, “We have discussed your offer. Assuming that Harry is amenable to the idea, and something can be found for Marius, we would like to accept.”

Harry beamed and nodded. He really liked the couple, and the idea of having someone of his own species around on a more permanent basis made him happy.

“However, I would like to point out that we’ve been considering having our own children, and put it off for this, but if neither of you object and can guarantee our safety, we would like to move ahead with that. Marius can serve as a secondary caregiver in the event that both of you are unavoidably occupied with work,” Armand said, then added with a slight grin, “By the way, Harry, Rialis has said that under the circumstances, you would technically count as a matriarch.”

“Eh? Well, oh. I suppose that makes sense, kind of.” He wasn’t quite sure how he felt about that aspect, and slid his gaze over to his lover.

“No patriarch?” Voldemort asked.

“Again, technically, that’d be you. You aren’t an incubus, but you’re the closest match to the role. And given the results of those additional tests. . . .”

“I see. And for the record, I have no objection to you beginning your family while in our care and working for us. In some respects you two can already function as unofficial liaisons to the French colonies through Rialis, but aside from that, if you would provide us with a list of options you might wish to pursue, Marius, we will find something that will suit, even if we must invent it.”

Marius nodded. “I will do so.”

“Say, that reminds me,” Harry interjected. “Is that inverse thrall thing I whipped up unique to me, or does any of our kind know how to do it?”

“Honestly? It is not unique, but you are the only one I am aware of who can do it deliberately. Usually something like that happens only when a well fed incubus feels highly threatened. You seem to be able to use it at will, to intimidate or cow people.”

Harry frowned and worried his lower lip for a moment. “Do you think maybe because I’ve not lived in a colony? See, the reason I ask is that it might be nice for Marius to be able to leave this house and wander about the compound, get to know people. I mean, not every Death Eater is a sanguinary, predacious blood purist.

“Aside from normal defense, it would be good to have a backup. I’m just not sure of the effect should a second person display the same kind of aura I can. As it is, some of the men think I’m a bizarre crossbreed of wizard and dementor.”

Armand began chortling and had to set down his fork, and was eventually able to say, “Ha! What a grand costume idea for Halloween. You shall have to see if you can develop that skill, Marius.”

“Well, anyway, you can set up your own shop for all I care, Marius. It doesn’t have to be anything intimately connected with our organization. Depending on how things work out, we could see to building a house within the compound specifically for you two and any children. Aside from that, we just need to work out some sort of salary, get you set up with local accounts, that sort of thing.”

A few minutes later Harry was reminded of his post when shifting in his seat made the letters rustle, so he whipped them out and checked them quickly, then ripped open the one from Bill and scanned through it. “Seems Bill wants a meeting. He’d like to see if we’d be willing to clue Charlie in, for one, and I think he’s looking for a way to assist us, even if he’s not a Death Eater.”

A glance at his lover showed that Voldemort was thoughtful over that, so Harry opened Ginny’s letter and quickly skimmed it. “Ginny just gushes about being able to see Bill, and also asks if Charlie can be let in on her location.” He tucked the letters back in their envelopes and put them in his pocket to read more closely later on.

“I’m going to send a note to our pet reporter about getting whatever factual dirt she can on the Wizengamot members, and possibly Ministry employees. If we’re going to initiate a culling of the government, we can’t ignore them, and definitely not if we expect to get a lot of laws repealed or changed. Any objections to a meeting with Charlie?”

Voldemort shook his head. “No, aside from preferring not to share quite so many intimate memories again if possible. My reputation took a massive hit that day, my sweet. Too much of that sort of thing getting out and no one will take me seriously any longer.”

Harry grinned and nodded. “Okay, I’ll feel him out on a date through Bill, then, and I suppose we can use the house in France again?” A quick nod had him continue with, “Are you two at all familiar with the wizarding sections of the UK?”

Both men shook their heads, though Armand said, “Very little, barely enough to count.”

“Let’s arrange a trip, then, and while we’re out we can stop at Gringotts to set up an account. I’ve been able to wander around places like Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade in various guises and no one has ever caught on to me being an incubus, so I think with a little caution we’ll be fine for an outing.”

He hesitated, shooting a look at Voldemort. “It might sound a bit strange, but do you think it would be wise to take Lucius along for that? He’s quite a bit more familiar than I with things in general, and certainly the more highbrow sorts of things.”

“Considering that Dumbledore kept you away from the world in general as much as possible, yes. I am sure he would agree should you ask it of him.” Voldemort suddenly smirked. “By the way, Harry, I should like to point out that my muggle businesses are doing quite well, including the new ones I’ve recently acquired.”

Harry arched a brow, then narrowed his eyes. “Did you take my suggestion, then?”

“Indeed. I have, using my various muggle identities and existing holdings, managed to gain control of or purchase all donor facilities and fertility clinics in the United Kingdom.”

Armand blinked a few times in surprise and shot them a puzzled look. “Not that it’s any of my business, but why would you do that?”

“That’s fantastic!” Harry enthused. “Now we just need to start swapping out muggle for magical. I wonder if I need to go in and fiddle with anyone’s brains to make the transition more smooth.”

“I have the reports upstairs, my sweet, so you can go over them at your leisure and decide what you need to do with respect to them, and then you will need to begin gathering up donors.”

Harry nodded, then briefly explained his insidious little plan to their guests, and was rewarded with expressions both amazed and contemplative.

“You . . . really mean to start subverting the population that way?” Marius asked. “Do you even think it would work? What are the statistics on the number of people who avail themselves of such services? Where do you plan to gain donors to replace the existing samples? Do you even have anyone who understands the process in the muggle sense?”

Harry cut him off with a laugh before he could ask any more questions. “Actually, I’m more concerned to find out if processing magical samples in the muggle way will damage whatever it is that produces magical children. I suppose we’ll have to run some tests, eh? Look, I’ll ask Lucius this afternoon about the tour trip, but first. . . .” He sent a look of pure lust at his lover and licked his lips.

“Ah, yes,” said Voldemort. “If you will excuse us, gentlemen?”


Associated Snaphot: Checkup