Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: One Winged Angel :: 03 :: Muggle Hunting

03 • Muggle Hunting

After checking in with Harry to let him know they were going out for a while, Tom and Severus, dressed in muggle clothing, apparated to Little Whinging. As Severus had never been there before, Tom allowed him to use Legilimency to see his memory of the area. Of course, he walled everything else away. Severus was likely only helping because it served his own interests, not out of any real feeling for Harry, himself, or anyone else. It was an unfortunate side effect of Slytherin house, and far too many fell into that trap. Tom shook his head, clearing his thoughts, and looked across the street at number four.

“Potter resides in that abomination?” Severus asked quietly.

Tom gave him an amused look. “For muggles this is a perfectly proper, normal home, I’m sure. Though, no doubt, this family would prefer to move up in the world. At least it’s not Council housing.”

“This place is a nightmare. Cookie cutter homes and no space. How they do not drive each other mad being in such close proximity is beyond me.” Severus had a look of utter disdain on his face, accented by a sneer of epic proportions.

“Yes, well. Unfortunately, we cannot simply approach the house. Ah, wait, here comes one of them now.” Tom watched avidly as a whale of a boy lumbered out of the house and hefted his bulk down the walk, making a leisurely turn onto the pavement at the end. The boy was, apparently, in a rather good mood if his off-key whistling was anything to go by.

Tom and Severus followed him at a distance, slowly closing the gap. As soon as they saw an alley they sped up and smoothly diverted the boy down it and to the end. It went almost without saying that Dudley began to show a mixture of bravado and fear almost immediately.

“Silence, land whale,” snapped Severus, brandishing his wand after Dudley tried to threaten them with a beating, then smirked dangerously when the boy skittered back with his hands against his backside.

Tom flipped his wand into view, pointed it at Dudley, then lazily intoned, “Imperio.” He mentally instructed Harry’s cousin to act as though Harry was no one to be concerned with or worry about, to leave him alone and not to threaten or harm him in any way, shape, or form. Otherwise, he was to act normally, though not reveal anything of what had just happened. A moment later he told Dudley to return to his home to have a drink of water before heading back out.

They shadowed him back to number four and watched from across the street as he entered the house. Five minutes later Dudley emerged and hastened off. Tom and Severus waited an additional half hour, then returned to Tom’s estate.

“I can only assume that you’ll hear something soon if my little party trick is noticed.” When Severus nodded he said, “Well, I’m going to see Harry. You may stay if you like, or leave, though if so, I’d like you to return tomorrow—earlier if necessary.”

Severus nodded a second time and removed the glamour that had been hiding his features. “I would prefer to go for the time being. If Albus does need to contact me for some reason, it would be just as well if I were at home.”

Tom nodded and swept out.

*

Harry set down his book as Tom entered the room and looked at him curiously. “So what happened?”

Tom shrugged. “Nothing much. We stumbled over your cousin on his way to do some mayhem and I used the Imperius Curse on him, then sent him back inside for some water. Nothing happened, but we’ll wait and see on that.”

Harry tilted his head, then nodded. “Voldemort must die.”

Tom blinked.

“You know he must. It isn’t enough that the Death Eaters are taken care of.”

“If I die, Harry, you probably will also.”

Harry snorted and gave Tom an incredulous look. “And you call yourself a Slytherin?”

Tom arched a brow, then nodded. “All right. I’m sure we can work something out. But, that wasn’t why I’m here.”

“Then what?”

“Ask whatever you will. I’ll try to answer.”

“How am I supposed to trust you, Tom?”

“I don’t know,” Tom replied. “I’m not sure I would either, considering what I’ve put you through over the years. My only defense is insanity, and while that may be truth, it doesn’t change the fact that I killed your parents, tried to kill you on numerous occasions, and let my people try to kill your friends. The only thing I have going for me is time and sincerity. By the way, good show on beating them back.”

“Yes, it is rather sickening that the only one who managed a kill was Wormtail,” Harry said with mild scorn. “Crafty little bastard.”

Tom nodded. “One of Voldemort’s biggest scores and failures, all in the same person.”

“So what exactly do you mean, time and sincerity, and how is it that you can trust Snape to not betray you again?”

“I offered him his life back, Harry. I removed the Dark Mark as I promised. I think he wants all of this over and done with as much as we do and he’s enough of a Slytherin to take the expedient route.”

“That doesn’t mean much if when I return to Hogwarts I find myself locked up in the castle ‘for my own good’, Tom.”

“Yes, but I think you are also crafty. Something tells me that if that happened, you could lie your way out of it and deny anything other than having gone along with things to lull me into a sense of security. By extending false trust, you got yourself out of Voldemort’s clutches and back to safety.”

Harry looked off to the side, then said, “I’m not sure if I’m that good of an actor, and my temper is not the best. You really think Snape will, er, behave?”

“It’s in his own best interests, Harry. People deride Slytherins for their traits, but if you understand them you can use them to manipulate, rather like I expect your headmaster has manipulated you based on your own tendencies. If Snape fails us, he will die, and I would not stop until you were free of Dumbledore and set up in a life you could enjoy, even if it meant helping you to escape the country.”

“Back to trust and sincerity,” Harry said. “Let’s assume that the Imperius Curse works and you manage to get all three of them. Then let’s assume I return to Privet Drive safe and sound. What then?”

“Then I find a nice place in Hogsmeade so I can be nearby during the school year in case you want to talk or visit.”

“Hn. So you’re just going to let me go on the strength of a prophecy and hope for the best?” Harry gave Tom a wide-eyed look.

“Essentially.”

“What about the fact that all prophecies are recorded?”

“What about the fact that this might not be the first time it was spoken?” countered Tom.

“Just what are you suggesting?”

“I merely speak of a possibility. Someone aside from us and Severus may already know of it.”

“Admittedly, I was a very poor Divination student, but I thought a prophecy was only ever spoken once.”

“Generally, yes. But there could have been something similar earlier. I’m not trying to convince you of anything, just point out that this may not be as much of a secret as we believe it to be. I’m merely counseling caution. I won’t lie, Harry. I’ve never trusted Dumbledore, and I see no particular reason to start now.”

“How exactly do you plan on hanging around Hogsmeade. Some people will recognize you, like Ginny.”

Tom chuckled and shook his head. “Voldemort’s appearance is not natural. Even this one isn’t considering how old I actually am. I’m a metamorphmagus, so I can appear however I wish. People assume that Voldemort looks as he does because of the many experiments I conducted in my search for power and immortality.” He paused, then added, “Ginny?”

“Your diary, Tom, the one that tried to use Ginny’s life force to resurrect you. She knows what you looked like at sixteen and I don’t think she would forget.”

Tom gave him a curious look, furrowing his brow. “I suppose I have you to thank for her life, then.” When Harry nodded he said, “I very much doubt she would listen to reason if I tried to apologize.”

Harry smirked faintly, then changed the subject. “How much do you know about soul bonds?” He twitched the book on his lap.

“I know that I won’t die until you do. I know that I became what I was because you were not born at the right time. Even if I had not become a dark lord, I would have been insane to some degree or another. I know that the faster your sixteenth birthday approached, the more I swam up from that insanity. It has been a rather confusing process, I admit.”

“In other words, not much,” Harry stated.

Tom made an agreeable noise and shrugged. “It’s not as though it mattered to me until just recently, and I was more concerned with figuring out how to remove you from that place without tripping the wards.”

Harry gave a shrug of his own.

“Are you willing to tell what the first prophecy said?”

“That assumes I’ve even heard it.”

Tom smiled slightly. “Of course.”

“How do you recruit?” Harry asked, changing the subject again.

“Various methods. Some candidates approach me indirectly, others are brought in by their family, and others are seduced into it.”

“And you take people who aren’t willing?”

“That depends. For instance, Draco Malfoy is a prime candidate because of Lucius, but I haven’t investigated too deeply because of his age. Some of them are bullied into it by their parents, and once inducted into my ranks they have little choice but to go along.”

“What about those who never wanted it, and still don’t?”

“If they have not been marked, they will not be. Those already within my ranks . . . I’m not sure. It is bad enough I have released Severus. I imagine it would be highly suspicious if more suddenly found themselves free. In any case, they have all done things worthy of Azkaban.”

Harry arched his brow. “As have you. As have I.”

“One attempt at Cruciatus is hardly Azkaban material, Harry.”

Harry snorted. “Tell that to the Ministry. My point is, those who never wanted that life might be let go, somehow.”

“We will have to think on it further, then. I will not accept any new recruits unless they truly wish it.”

“For the express purpose of getting them killed or captured.”

“Yes. The more brought in, the fewer who would remain behind to create a new dark lord to cluster behind.”

“Does that bother you, what you’re going to do?”

“A number of things bother me at this point, but I won’t let that blind me to what’s necessary, nor prevent me from moving forward. If I am sincere, then I must attempt the effort of helping to clear away the past.”

“Necessity hath no law.”

Tom gave Harry a piercing look, then nodded and capped it. “Learning carries within itself certain dangers because out of necessity one has to learn from one’s enemies.”

Harry smiled. “All right.”

“And you failed History of Magic?”

“It would take a far more dedicated person than I to stay awake during Binns’s lectures.”

Tom chuckled quietly. “You are a far more engaging person when we aren’t attempting to kill each other, Harry.”

Harry looked at the wall for a second, then said, “I’m glad I don’t need to take Potions any longer. Snape has hated me from the moment he laid eyes on me. But I’m not sure how I’m going to learn Occlumency.”

“If you want, I’ll make sure books are delivered to you on the subject. Was it Severus who tried to teach you?”

“Yes. It didn’t go very well. I suppose I owe him an apology, though.” At the curious look on Tom’s face he said, “He was called away one evening unexpectedly during a lesson. He had not secured his pensieve and I’m afraid my curiosity got the better of me. Needless to say, he caught me at it.”

“Did you tell anyone what you saw?”

“No, but I doubt he would believe that. I think he would assume that our mutual hatred of each other would lead me to use that knowledge against him. I wonder, sometimes. . . .”

“Yes?”

“He was called away by Dumbledore. Sometimes I wonder if that was planned.”

“For what reason?”

“I’m not sure. Well, I am, but. . . . It has to do with what I witnessed. If Dumbledore knew what kinds of things Snape would have removed prior to the lessons, he could have called Snape away knowing that I’m too curious for my own good. He’s always disliked that Snape and I cannot get along. Maybe he thought what I saw would make me see things differently.”

“I’m not sure I follow.”

“If that is what he wanted, he failed. Oh, sure, I saw some things differently, but it doesn’t change the fact that Snape has hated me for all the wrong reasons and still does. What I saw doesn’t change that, and what I saw isn’t the whole story. I can’t make decisions based on a single incident. I can respect Snape for what he’s tried to accomplish and how stoic he’s been, but I can’t simply stop caring about his treatment of me when he shows no signs of stopping, or admitting that his reasons are based on fiction and faulty reasoning.”

“You don’t hate Severus, you hate his treatment of you?”

“Something like that.”

“Occlumency would be why he could tell me something about your life with the Dursleys?”

Harry nodded.

“Will you tell me about them?”

“Only if you promise not to harm them.”

“Why?”

“Ignorance isn’t solved by pain or death, Tom, and fear will simply make things worse.”

“You sound terribly wise for your years.”

“I have you to thank for that,” Harry said pointedly.

Tom winced openly. “I deserve that. Yes, I promise not to harm them.”

“I’ll give you the basics, then. My family despises and fears us. My room was the cupboard you rescued me from until I received my letter for Hogwarts. They gave me Dudley’s second room for fear that our kind would do something horrible to them. The only person who regularly tried to hurt me was Dudley, and that included scaring away anyone who might have become a friend as well as physical harm. My aunt and uncle were far more likely to scream and yell at me and hand over another long list of chores.”

“And this summer?”

“I made the mistake of telling Uncle Vernon that it would be a bad idea for him to give into his impulse to burn my belongings as the Order would come after him. He started beating me not long after that. I should have kept my mouth shut. The important things are where I kept my wand. I could have replaced everything else, though he wouldn’t have known it.”

“I take it he has no idea about Gringotts.”

Harry laughed mirthlessly. “No. If he’d known I had my own money, he would have tried to find a way to take it. After all, they’ve been so good to me, letting me stay in their home and feeding me table scraps. Rightfully, I should give them all that I have in order to repay them.”

“I see. Are you quite sure you don’t want them harmed, even a little bit?”

Harry stared at him. “Quite sure. We’ll see how I feel once I’m legally adult in the wizarding world.”

Tom brightened. “Now that is something I can help with. If you like, I can remove the Ministry interference which tattles on you if you perform underage magic.”

Harry considered that for a minute. He could hand his wand over and never see it again. Of course, Tom had given it over willingly and could probably have stolen it back at any time. Then again, who said it was the wand? “How easy is it to detect if it’s there?” he asked finally.

“Mm, I see your point. Someone like Dumbledore, or even McGonagall, might notice the change.”

“Then don’t worry about it. It’s only another year, most of which will be spent at school. If the Dursleys are leashed this summer, and next, it shouldn’t matter, right?”

“Point conceded.” Tom frowned, then said, “Listen, I’m going to head out for a while to gather up serpent paintings. I’ll bring the lot back here so we can have a chat with them, and afterward I can give them to Severus to place around Slytherin house.”

“Where would I be able to contact one safely? And I hope you aren’t thinking of me getting detention once a week with Snape, though I admit he could probably come up with more brilliant transgressions such as breathing to get me to scrub his cauldrons.”

“Perhaps Dobby could be of further assistance?” Tom suggested.

Harry blinked and called for his friend. A moment later Dobby popped into the room and dropped onto the bed. “Sir is wanting Dobby?”

Harry scratched the back of his neck and briefly explained to the elf what he and Tom were trying to accomplish, then asked, “Do you have any suggestions as to how I could keep in contact with one of the portraits on a regular basis without getting caught by anyone?”

“That is depending, sir. Dobby could bring a portrait to Harry Potter, or bring Harry Potter to a portrait.”

“Huh?”

“Sir is knowing that house-elves do not apparate, so house-elves is being able to move around freely in Hogwarts. Dobby can bring Harry Potter with him.”

“So you could place a serpent portrait in a private place at the castle that only you could get to, but the serpent could talk to its fellows in Slytherin house?”

“That is being it, sir.”

“I don’t see why that wouldn’t work, Tom. In fact, if Dobby is willing, he could place all of the portraits so that they wouldn’t be noticed, but they could overhear everything. Snape wouldn’t need to risk himself to manage it.”

“I agree, Harry, if Dobby is willing.”

“Dobby is happy to help Harry Potter. May Dobby take Harry Potter as his master?”

Harry gaped for a moment. “What? Dobby, you like being a free elf!”

“Dobby was happy being freed from the bad wizard. Dobby is being happy that Dobby could experience freedom, but Dobby is being tired of it now.”

“Hermione would kill me if she knew I took on a house-elf,” Harry said, paling.

“Harry Potter’s Hermione does not need to know, sir. Harry Potter is the only master Dobby would accept.”

Harry ran a hand through his hair and cast a desperate sort of look at Tom before glancing back at Dobby, who had a calm, serious expression on his face. Harry looked a little more closely and saw the same kind of focused determination he had seen on earlier occasions in the elf’s eyes. So he nodded. “Dobby, if I were to accept, would you still be willing to work at Hogwarts as though nothing had changed?”

Dobby widened his eyes and said, “Yes, but Dobby is being sure to follow Harry Potter once Harry Potter finishes his seventh year.”

‘Independent little sod,’ Harry thought, then blinked when Tom choked back a fit of laughter. He gave Tom a piercing look, then turned back to Dobby. “I accept, then. Is there some sort of a ceremony that needs to be done?”

Tom cleared his throat and interrupted with, “You should know that there are two forms of binding, Harry. One binds only Dobby to you, while the other binds his entire line to your family.”

“Uh, it’s fairly unlikely I’ll have children,” Harry pointed out. “Which would you prefer, Dobby?”

“The second, sir.”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” Harry protested.

“In either case, without progeny, Dobby and his line would be released once you were dead.”

Harry took another look at the ernest expression on Dobby’s face, then nodded. “If it makes you happy, all right.”

*

When Tom returned the three of them sat on the bed—Harry found it very interesting that Tom had raised no objections to Harry’s normal treatment of house-elves—and spent time instructing a multitude of small serpent portraits in what they would need to do over the coming year—in fact, until they were told otherwise—and to whom they would report.

It was at that point that Harry raised an objection. “We’re being awfully short sighted here. Why are we targeting only Slytherins?”

“Because it is extremely rare that a member of the other houses would seek to become a Death Eater,” Tom said.

“That doesn’t mean they won’t and haven’t.”

“Would you like to add portraits to the other house areas, then?”

“I expect people would use silencing charms or similar,” Harry admitted, “or not risk speaking about such things in their own houses. I would imagine it’d be different in Slytherin, but I’ve only been in there once, so how would I know?”

Tom quirked up a corner of his mouth.

“It’s a long story. Dobby, do you know of the more popular hiding places in Hogwarts?”

“Of course, master.”

“Then perhaps we could spare some for those instead.”

“I’ll need to get more, then,” Tom commented. “I can do that tomorrow.”

“Okay. Dobby, can you take this lot to Hogwarts and start hiding them for us? Then come back here when you’re done.”

“Dobby is being happy to, master.” He began snapping his fingers, causing the portraits to shrink and leap into his hand. A minute later he was gone.

Harry turned to Tom and frowned. “Why did you almost choke earlier?”

“Because you called Dobby an independent little sod.”

“I never said that out loud, Tom.”