Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: Locus :: 06

06

The school year was in twilight when Tom returned to the dorm one evening with a pleased smirk on his face. “I have tracked down the location of one of Ravenclaw’s relics, a diadem purported to impart great wisdom when worn.

From?

As it turns out the Grey Lady is actually Helena Ravenclaw, Rowena’s only daughter. She coveted the diadem, yet Rowena would not give her it, so she stole it and fled to Albania. I will find it. I will have it,” he promised.

Joshua simply nodded. He had yet to see (with the exception of his own lack of death) Tom fail at anything he set his mind to.

I have also discovered a very interesting secret about the castle. Rowena left behind other examples of her brilliance, namely a place referred to as the Room of Requirement. It is located on the seventh floor, and can be anything you desire, whatever your requirements are.

His eyes widened at the possibilities inherent, and his mind drifted to imagining something which made him blush, then harder when Tom chuckled lowly at him. “Shut up.”

The room is always there, just not accessible unless called for. Shall we?

Opposite a tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy (recognizable only because he was trying to teach trolls to dance ballet) was a blank stretch of wall, which caused him to arch a brow at Tom, who leaned in very close and whispered, “A person walks past that blank wall thrice, concentrating hard on what is needed. And, depending on the requirements, it is possible for the wall to again be blank once inside.

There were no portraits along that stretch, nor suits of armor, nor any spells discernible which might spy, so Tom went ahead and caused a door to the room to appear, which they entered quickly.

“That’s an awfully large bed,” he commented.

Tom leered at him.

“I can think of one problem, though.”

“Oh?”

“What if someone happens to be walking along the corridor when we wish to exit? We’ll need to check first, perhaps require a one-way window or something?”

“Excellent point. Now, step outside and I shall close the door behind you. Thirty seconds later I will open it again. When you return you can verify if the door was missing from that side.”

Joshua nodded and quit the room, indeed seeing that there was no door visible, and entered once more when Tom revealed it to him. “Confirmed.”

“Good. Let us now try to call the room into being again, this time with the window you mentioned.”

Less than a minute later he watched as Tom disappeared inside and the door vanished, and shortly after that he was being invited within again.

“The window works.”

“And I could see neither it nor the door,” he verified.

Tom smiled and looked around the room, then focused on him. “Offhand I can think of one more test we can do. If the room is called, yet only the person calling it knows the requirements, is another able to cause the door to appear by requiring something, and would that alter the requirements existing for the one already inside?”

Joshua heaved a sigh, but refrained from otherwise commenting. He knew that Tom was simply trying to negate the possibility that they could be discovered while making use of the room. By the time Tom was satisfied Joshua was heartily tired of the whole thing, though pleased that they now had what seemed like a sanctuary. Even if others were aware of the place, they could not be disturbed without a great deal of effort.

It was just a shame Tom had not discovered it earlier, as it was so much easier to get to than the Chamber of Secrets. And despite being on the same floor as the Gryffindors, it was well enough away from their location and out of the general flow of traffic as to be almost ideal. If nothing else Joshua could use it himself later on—that is, assuming he was forced back to his proper time, and assuming that he returned to whence he had left, and that same time frame.

Tom, however, was energized from their experiments and turned to him with gleaming eyes that made Joshua involuntarily shiver. He was advanced upon, his hands captured, then drawn toward the bed (the only feature which had remained constant in the several experimental permutations). He shivered again as Tom began to slowly undress him, this time removing all of his clothing, and then shed his own, followed by the both of them lying on the bed.

He opened his mouth to speak, but realized he could not formulate a proper sentence, so instead leaned in to kiss Tom. He trusted Tom, so whatever happened happened. At least in this place he could relax, and it did not hurt that Tom was taking his time, languidly exploring his mouth, with his hands moving soothingly over Joshua’s bare flesh. He knew, should Tom wish it, they would culminate the current stage of their relationship, something which could only be followed by mutual expression of love, even if unspoken.

It hurt when it happened, despite Tom’s tender care and gentle words, but as time progressed and movements slow allowed him to adjust, he was able to feel the stirrings of pleasure. Thus, he encouraged his lover and was soon lost to the sensations engendered, riding them like cresting waves to a blissful explosion.

*

An amazing thing happened in late April. Professor Dumbledore had, during a short stint away from the school over a weekend, dueled and defeated Dark Lord Grindelwald, who was then sentenced to Nurmengard for life. The school was in an uproar, much like the rest of magical Britain, and over on the mainland, and students and staff alike wished they could again see their Transfiguration professor on a daily basis. Unfortunately for them he was taking a short sabbatical to deal with the aftermath, while a procurator supplied by the ministry was overseeing his classes.

Dumbledore had barely returned when World War II ended, though for the majority of students that held little meaning. For people such as Joshua and Tom it meant quite a lot, even though they had no intention of living in muggle London. Even so, it continued to defy reason that their classmates had not been more concerned about the bombings given that Diagon Alley could have been reduced to rubble with one lucky air strike.

Joshua had witnessed more than once the difficulties faced by a muggle-born or lesser half-blood when they tried to explain their concerns to pure-bloods and greater half-bloods; their words rolled off their backs as it was “just a muggle problem” and had nothing to do with them. They continually refused to see the dangers the muggles presented, as though ignorance and willful denial were exemplary virtues.

These things were soon enough pushed to the background, though not forgotten, as exams loomed. The library was haven to many a student (though Joshua and Tom did their revision in the Room of Requirement, as they could discuss things without whispering and practice, and it was able to supply any text necessary) and practically lived in by the seventh years during the final week prior to the NEWT examinations, when their classes were suspended in favor of pure revision, with the professors holding those classes as a time for students to seek help on specific things.

The very night of their final exam, Joshua disappeared from his bed. Tom did not witness it as he was asleep already, as were their roommates.

This time he arrived far more easily, and in time to hear, “That was—!”

A second later a curse was being thrown his way, which he dodged without thinking, rolling to his feet and taking precious moments to assess the situation.

“Stop!” yelled a commanding voice.

He and Voldemort looked toward the sound; Joshua sighed with relief on seeing Tom.

What are you doing?” demanded Tom of Voldemort. “How dare you attack him!”

Voldemort’s expression morphed to that of wide-eyed shock, causing Joshua to start laughing helplessly.

“I—” Voldemort slowly turned his head toward Joshua, eyes going even wider. “Joshua?”

He nodded, a bit too breathless to speak, then spun around at the sound of whimpering; Pettigrew was standing right there. A stunner quickly disabled him before Joshua turned back to Voldemort and Tom.

“He needs to be dealt with,” Tom said firmly. “And you—what the hell happened to us since you created the diary?”

Voldemort sat down rather ungracefully, cradling his chin in one hand, looking completely lost.

Tom moved closer to himself and frowned. After a quick look at Joshua he said, “We are one, but we are obviously not the same. We shall see what becomes of us in just a moment.” With that he pressed forward, twisting as he moved, and settled himself into Voldemort.

Joshua watched with wonder as Voldemort rapidly became younger, until he resembled a man in his early thirties. Even so the man’s features retained that alien snake-like taint, with waxy skin and bloodshot eyes. He approached, albeit hesitantly, reaching out his left hand, yet diffident about actually touching him. “Tom?” he said softly. Seconds later he clutched his head in pain; it was like something was being forced into his mind, a psychic drill right behind his eyes. And despite his watering eyes he could see that Voldemort was experiencing something similar.

As the pain finally ebbed Voldemort slowly rose to his feet and faced him, his brow crinkled. “Joshua,” he said simply.

“Yes.”

“When . . . did you leave this time?” was asked of him stiltedly.

He tilted his head in confusion. “After the last NEWT exam. You were already asleep.”

“But you were there in the morning.”

Joshua took a half step back, having heard the words twice, one an echo of the other, a heartbeat out of sync. “I was?”

“You were. You disappeared much later. I thought—no, what I thought is not what’s important right now.” Voldemort came closer, his left hand reaching out to touch the side of Joshua’s face. As quickly as it happened he stepped back. “We don’t have time for this. Quickly, you must correct your appearance.”

Joshua complied without really comprehending, morphing back to his nearly-fifteen year old self as Harry Potter, then cringed when Voldemort snarled at him.

“I . . . apologize,” Voldemort said stiffly. ‘I cannot believe it is really you. All this time, I was trying to kill my. . . .’

“I—am I hearing your thoughts?”

‘My thoughts?’

Joshua concentrated. ‘Thoughts, Tom. And that pain? Was it. . . ?’

A wondrous thing occurred then—Voldemort smiled at him.

“I guess so. Er, what do we do now? My brain doesn’t seem to be working quite right.”

“You return to the school. Let them know that Lord Voldemort has returned. See who believes? Dumbledore surely will, but others I suspect will retreat into denial. We will have to make this believable, though.”

Joshua grimaced; he knew what that meant. “All right. The cup?”

Voldemort shrugged one shoulder. “Barty made a mistake, obviously.” The cup was summoned and examined, then Voldemort dropped it and tapped it with his wand. “When you grasp it again you’ll be returned to the school.”

“Fine, but I need to be able to reach you if this connection does not extend over distances.”

Voldemort countered with, “Where are you during the summers?”

Joshua hesitated for a split second, then said firmly, “№ 4 Privet Drive in Little Whinging, Surrey. There’s wards, of course, supposedly blood wards according to a letter Dumbledore left with my aunt. Though, thinking about it, I have to wonder if they’re even of any use now since you used my blood. There’s a park not far off, too. I don’t actually know if the blood wards are it, or if there’s more in the neighborhood. I suspect there are definitely more, since I get next to no post.” He narrowed his eyes and began thinking decidedly nasty thoughts about Dumbledore.

Voldemort shot him a knowing look. “I will investigate. If we cannot communicate at any distance I will get as close as I can in the hopes it will be close enough. For now, however, we should not dally any longer. You were brought here, used in the ritual, and we fought, but you managed to get back to the cup, which was mistakenly made two-way. Which reminds me, Mad-Eye Moody is really one of my Death Eaters, Barty Crouch Jr, using polyjuice potion. I have no doubt that when you return he will try to lead you away and kill you on my behalf. Do not let him do so. If he is exposed as a fake I can afford to lose him, though I would prefer not to. After all, they will not be looking for someone who is supposed to be dead.” He paused before saying, “Are you prepared?”

Joshua took a deep breath, fixed his clothing, and nodded, fighting against the reflex action of defending himself. Voldemort sent curses at him intended to be glancing blows, but that did not make them hurt any less. The only reason he could bear it was because it was his lover and he trusted him. When Voldemort nodded he half fell over due to a particularly nasty leg wound and wrapped his fingers around one of the handles, closing his eyes as he was whisked away.

He landed heavily back at the center of the maze. Krum was no longer there, so someone must have become aware of his difficulties and removed him. Completely alone and bleeding, he decided that rather than trying to puzzle his way back out he would simply send up sparks with his wand, and did so.

Officials were there quickly and he was transported back outside the maze, the cup dangling from one hand, his wand from the other. He was then set down and someone came to crouch beside him: Dumbledore.

“He’s back,” Joshua whispered, turning a frightened look on the headmaster. “H-he’s back. Voldemort.”

“What’s going on?” demanded a familiar voice: Minister Fudge. “What’s happened?”

He did not bother to look that way; instead he looked down. Those watching would see him gaze as though fascinated at the jagged wound on his arm, or perhaps the blood staining the leg of his trousers. Shock, they would assume.

Dumbledore, with extraordinary strength for a man so old and thin, raised Joshua from the ground and set him on his feet. Joshua swayed. His head was pounding and his injured leg would no longer properly support his weight. The crowd around them jostled, fighting to get closer, pressing darkly in on him.

“What’s happened?” someone asked.

“What’s wrong with him?” asked another.

“He’ll need to go to the hospital wing,” Fudge said loudly, overriding the other voices. “He’s ill. He’s injured.”

Joshua held back a snort over the minister stating the obvious in the midst of a crowd of people who could clearly see for themselves he was hardly well.

“I’ll take Harry, Dumbledore, I’ll take him—”

“No, I would prefer—”

Some of the girls had begun sobbing for some reason. Joshua was pretty darn sure he was not dead, nor was he in any danger of dying, so what was wrong with them? Then he realized that he was again, for the time being at least, back to being some kind of hero, and they were indulging in hysterics due to his injuries.

“Harry, stay here—” Dumbledore broke away to fend off the multitude of people pushing to be the one to help Joshua.

“It’s all right, son, I’ve got you,” Moody said quietly. “Come on, we’ll go to the hospital wing.”

“Dumbledore said stay,” he replied.

“You need to lie down and be looked at,” Moody persisted. “Come on now.”

Joshua allowed himself to be coaxed away, but waited very little time before acting. He pretended his leg had buckled and crashed into Moody, knocking both of them to the ground. And during the deliberate cock-up he wandlessly knocked the man out, then rolled over onto his side so he could sit up and wait. Right at the moment Dumbledore was the lesser of two evils. If Moody—Crouch Jr—was to survive, he would have to get himself out of this mess.

Sure enough, Dumbledore appeared a minute later and asked what happened, then revived Moody and helped Joshua back to his feet. By then Fudge had arrived. Moody was weak enough to let a split second look of angry frustration to cross his face, but Joshua was the only one to notice the lapse. Even so, the expression on Dumbledore’s face was one of consternation, and his eyes flickered toward Moody more than once. By the time they reached the entrance hall Moody had disappeared. Dumbledore muttered something too low for him to discern.

From there he was escorted to the infirmary. By the time they arrived he was shaking. Reaction from the trip through time, from having allowed his lover to cast against him and not defend, from thwarting a murderous Death Eater, from. . . . He realized he was surprised that Dumbledore hadn’t diverted to his office; perhaps not, due to Fudge being there, dogging their steps. They passed by a number of inquisitive people who must have taken a different route and probably run the entire way; they were ignored.

Madam Pomfrey immediately took charge and got him to a bed as Dumbledore shepherded the minister away, speaking to him quietly. Screens were erected to give him some privacy, though at the moment no one else was around, and a set of pajamas was placed on a side table. “I’ll be right back, Mr Potter. Go ahead and get undressed so I can heal those wounds when I return.”

He did so with minor difficulty, his arm and leg not inclined to be cooperative, after he dropped the cup and his wand on the table. He sat there wondering just how he was going to sell a believable version of the events to Dumbledore, how long before he returned, and what effect it would have on the old man. His Occlumency barriers were, he hoped, sound. Pomfrey bustled back carrying a bottle filled with a purple potion and a goblet, both of which found space on the table, and then she began tutting over his wounds and healing him, the blood being vanished first each time.

Joshua continued to ponder, coming to the conclusion that he could be mostly truthful, altering the second half of the graveyard encounter to match the very hasty plan Voldemort had come up with. In truth he barely remembered what had happened after his scar had exploded in pain. He was startled when he suddenly heard Voldemort in his head, but luckily Pomfrey passed it off as a reaction to a nasty cut she was dealing with.

‘The cage of light collapsed as soon as you did. So, instead, you managed to break the connection between the wands, and as you were attempting to escape—a desperate gambit on your part—you were further wounded. Your leg was the final injury, causing you to coincidentally latch onto the cup, which brought you back to the maze.’

He nearly smiled, not only because he could hear his lover, but because he was handed a ready explanation.

‘I will assist you in placing that version of events in your public mind. As it is not entirely an altered memory Dumbledore should not notice anything amiss should he try to spy. Even so, it is very nearly the truth, and you can always avoid his eyes, assuming you can do so without making him suspicious. You did, after all, fall over due to your leg. The major difference is you were not actually trying to escape, and you deliberately took the handle.’

‘Thank you, Tom. Your assistance is certainly appreciated.’

The scene began playing at the forefront of his mind, the first minor alteration being that his scar was no longer the cause of his pain. Instead the cruciatus curse was, used as a way to get his attention. It remained true that he was unable to process what Voldemort was saying. After that it followed true memory until the collapse of the cage of light, where memory changed to him wrenching free, lurching away, and his leg buckling beneath him just as he reached the cup.

The revised series of events had played out numerous times in his head when a hand on his shoulder began shaking him.

“Only a few minutes, headmaster,” Pomfrey’s voice cut in. “He’s in a mild state of shock and he needs his rest. I’ll be just over there, keeping an eye on you.”

“Harry, I would greatly like to know what happened once you reached the center of the maze.”

Since when was he Harry to the headmaster? Had they become acquainted during a moment of inattention on his part? An attempt, after a glance out of the corner of his eye, at playing grandfather figure and concerned headmaster? Dumbledore should be concerned. Joshua opened his mouth, paused for several seconds, then said, “When I got there Krum was laid out. I took the cup since no one else had. As soon as my fingers closed around the handle I was jerked off my feet, like someone had attached a rope to my stomach from the inside.” He paused again. “I ended up in a graveyard. A man I’d never seen before stunned me before I could get my bearings. I was tied to a headstone, a statue? There was a cauldron and the man started muttering to himself. He dropped a bundle into it, muttering.” Another longish pause.

“He dropped in something, yellowish-grey, muttering. He cut off his right hand into the cauldron, muttering. He came to me and used a knife on my arm, dripping the blood in, muttering. Mist and fog, from it stepped a man. Voldemort was back.” From there he continued his recitation, his tone just as detached and his speech pattern just as unnatural. Dumbledore seemed to accept, for he went away soon after he stopped speaking, allowing Joshua to relax slightly.

Pomfrey appeared again, this time to pour a bit of the purple liquid into the goblet and hand it to him. “You’ll need to drink all of this. It’s a potion for dreamless sleep.”

He took the goblet and made as if to drink, even swallowing to mimic his falsehood, wandlessly vanishing a mouthful at a time before it ever reached his lips, then handed the goblet back and laid down, relaxing slowly into a mockery of sleep. Pomfrey’s footsteps informed him of her departure, so Joshua returned his attention to Voldemort, who he could sense was speaking to someone.

‘I have called my Death Eaters to me, to inform them of my return, and to punish them for not having come to find me during my exile. Wormtail has at least paid part of his debt.’

‘Anyone I know?’

Joshua could suddenly see despite his eyes being closed. Before him was the graveyard again, a ring of men arrayed out in front of him. There were three men whose faces brought to mind the names Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle, being so similar to students at the school. The others he was not familiar with, but Voldemort supplied names to go with every face. ‘A number are imprisoned in Azkaban, and I shall see to getting them released. Karkaroff is missing, as is Snape.’

‘Snape? I actually thought those were just rumors because he’s such a bastard.’

‘He is one of mine,’ Voldemort confirmed. ‘I will explain in more detail once we are able to meet up. Joshua, you need to understand something. Yes, you are seventeen, nearly eighteen, and the Trace has long since been removed from you, but if you perform magic with your wand once you are back at your place of residence the ministry will assume it is you and act accordingly. I suspect they keep a keen watch on that area.’

He scowled in response.

‘Even if it was still on you, casting in magical areas or households would result in the ministry being unable to pinpoint who actually did so. Stick to wandless, which has no recognizable signature.’

‘I will do so,’ he promised. It was nothing more than he had already been doing, and he knew he would not get in trouble for its use.

‘I must finish up with my men. Get some rest and we will talk later. There is much I must inform you of.’

Joshua could feel Voldemort slipping away from him as the words faded, and he relaxed enough to fall asleep. The next morning he awoke to the sounds of Pomfrey bustling around him, though loud voices were coming from somewhere nearby. As they became louder and the sources came closer he could tell that it was Dumbledore and Fudge, arguing over the events of the previous night. Fudge was denying that there was any chance Voldemort had returned, just as his lover had predicted, while Dumbledore attempted to convince him.

The infirmary doors burst open and the two men entered, with Fudge marching up to him with a sack in one hand. It was practically slammed onto the bedside table. “Your winnings, Mr Potter. Now what is this nonsense about Voldemort returning? You were clearly in a state of shock due to your injuries and hallucinated the entire episode. Am I not correct?”

“Cornelius, this is clearly not the time to—”

“It is exactly the time,” Fudge cut in sharply. “What happened, Mr Potter? Tell me now.”

Joshua let his eyes glaze over and his gaze drift to one of the walls. “I only know what I saw,” he said, then recited the story again.

“The child was obviously hit with a confundus charm,” Fudge declared. “You are a fool to think otherwise, Albus. It’s someone’s idea of a sick joke, played on Mr Potter, probably the same people who stirred up trouble at the Quidditch World Cup. We should feel lucky that’s all it was, and he was not irreversibly harmed or even killed. I won’t hear any more of this!” Fudge did an about-face and stormed off.

In the periphery of his vision Joshua could see the deeply disappointed look Dumbledore cast his way. The man sighed heavily and shook his head, then left as well.

A few minutes later Pomfrey declared him well enough to leave and added, “Breakfast will be starting shortly. I had a set of your clothes delivered, so you’re good to go. But, come back to see me if you feel odd.”

“Thank you, Madam Pomfrey. I will.”

*

He was instructed, the night before the students were to leave, to access the Room of Requirement, taking all possible precautions to avoid being seen or tracked. Voldemort wished him to retrieve a diadem, which he did. The moment his hand touched the metal he was suffused with the feeling of his lover, though it felt tainted, and he realized the object was a Horcrux. He tucked it away in a pocket and sneaked back to the dorm.

The train ride home was strange. He was so used to having Tom next to him, and his absence was like an ache. Even the presence of Voldemort in his mind did not entirely dispel his sense of loss. ‘We will be together again soon.’

‘Yes. It must be far more strange for you, having been separated from me for so long. I don’t want this feeling to stop, because it would mean I was accustomed to it.’

Poignant unhappiness flooded him briefly. ‘It never goes away.’

It seemed like the proper thing to be masochistic about. Draco showed up then, but left quickly, seemingly a bit unnerved by Joshua’s stubborn silence, even in the face of Dumbledore having informed the entire student body at the leaving feast that Voldemort had returned. At Kings Cross he made a quick side trip into a public restroom, guided by Voldemort, and met his lover long enough to transfer the diadem to him in one of the stalls. When he did finally reach № 4 and had dropped off his things he made straight for the park, knowing who awaited him.

‘You’re being followed,’ he was informed. ‘Head for the trees and have a seat. I will have to remain out of sight, unfortunately.’

He did so, using one of the straggly trees as a backrest, and affixed his gaze on the uneven horizon. ‘Let me guess. Dumbledore is responsible.’

‘I would assume so. The blood wards you mentioned do not exist. They either collapsed due to the ritual, or because of your true age. Other wards are in place, but they are nothing in comparison to what a set of properly emplaced and strengthened blood wards can do. I must assume that Dumbledore is aware of this and has sent people to see to your safety.’

‘How kind of him,’ Joshua responded dryly. ‘Now I must be especially careful in everything I do.’

‘You were correct in the assumption regarding your post. There is a ward emplaced to redirect most owls.’

He gave the equivalent of a mental shrug. ‘Getting back to my departure. I distinctly recall being whisked away on the night of our final exam. Given what you said I can only assume that I will return for a third and final time. Will you tell me what I’ve missed?’

There was a long pause first. ‘I will not speak of the time up until your final departure. You will experience it for yourself.’

Joshua scowled, then whipped his head around toward the sound of rustling leaves. His watcher could not be all that good if they gave themself away so easily. He let his gaze drift back to the uneven horizon.

‘After you disappeared I searched for you with every possible method to hand. It was similar to when you vanished the first time, except I was much wiser and skilled. Even so, nothing worked. If you did somehow return again I was not aware of it. In any case. . . . I actually went so far as to speak with Dippet, requesting the position of professor for Defense Against the Dark Arts. I thought, if you returned, it may well be to the school. He turned me down, saying I was too young and needed to experience the world first.

‘I worked for Borgin & Burkes’—Joshua could sense that something was being left out—‘helping to persuade people to sell their treasures. I was fortunate enough to run across information that Borgin & Burkes had once held possession of my mother’s locket. She had sold it to them for a pittance of ten galleons. A woman named Hepzibah Smith purchased it later, so I arranged to meet with her to discuss her valuable collection.

‘During that visit I made my third Horcrux, a cup which had belonged to Helga Hufflepuff. I altered the memories of her house-elf to account for Smith’s death, and left with possession of the cup and my mother’s locket.’

Joshua was decidedly unhappy at this evidence of the degradation of his lover’s mind, but kept it to himself for the time being. His absence from Tom’s life had obviously been extremely detrimental if the man had killed people merely to further a scheme of dubious value. He only hoped his lover could be helped so far removed from that time.

‘I left England then, to wander, to search, to continue to learn. The locket was made into a Horcrux with the death of a muggle tramp. I remembered then about what the Grey Lady had revealed to me, so I traveled to Albania and located the diadem of Ravenclaw. A peasant was unfortunate enough to be in the area. . . . That brought me to a six-part soul, one short of my goal. I admit, you were not there to convince me otherwise. You were not there to remind me of our code.’

After a long silence Voldemort continued. ‘I became distracted at that point, realizing I did not have another artifact which pleased me, so I continued to wander, eventually returning to Britain with the idea of trying, again, to secure a position at Hogwarts. Perhaps there I could find something belonging to Gryffindor, and my collection would be complete. Dumbledore was headmaster by then and did not trust me still, and he refused.

‘Enraged, I managed to get to the Room of Requirement with the diadem, and used spells to curse the Defense position. Anyone who was hired would last but a year; something would always happen to force them away. Unfortunately, I did not have the leisure to search as I wished for another artifact, and had to leave before Dumbledore caught on and came after me. I traveled again for a decade, then returned to Britain and began gathering followers. Our . . . friends . . . from school were up for it, and they began grooming their children for the same. . . .’

Joshua sighed. ‘You went crazy,’ he stated flatly. ‘I can imagine how this goes based on the books I’ve read. You recruited people, used the imperius curse against innocents and forced them to commit endless atrocities, swayed the giants to your cause, and they tortured and killed many. Yet you always avoided Dumbledore.’

‘Yes,’ Voldemort responded softly, but his mental voice changed as he spoke further, becoming a bit crazed. ‘I had reason, Joshua! There was every reason to strike out at those who saw Dumbledore as akin to a saint! They needed to die!’