Embracing His True Self

Chapter 106

Voldemort and Harry made their way through the manor, making their way towards the lower cells. Harry barely reacting to the bowing of the others as their Lords approached. Lord Voldemort however, was very pleased by their obedience and desire to please his life partner. Voldemort idly wondered, as they passed through towards the lower cells, whether Harry would ever get used to his new way of life. It was a new way of life for him, and it would remain so. Harry was his now, and he would not allow him to conceive leaving, never mind doing so. Absently flicking his wand, and a large ball of light burst forth from his wand, lighting up the spiral staircase. Harry went first, which did disappoint Voldemort, he did so relish the thought of seeing his face when he realized where he was.

"Harry!" Ron said, the stark relief on his face was almost comical. "Why am I here…I'm…me?" his decent robes were going to be destroyed by the dirty and grimy floors. "Get me out of here, mate." His voice filled with eager comradery, as if they were still the best of friends. Already standing, anticipating the door to the cell being opened, gaze expectant.

Voldemort eyed the ginger haired boy dubiously, "You endured that for four years? Without going insane?" without diverting from the path he had chosen for himself, to keep himself safe? He was in awe that Harry had succeeded, truly. He wanted to kill the brat and he'd only spoken a few sentences.

Harry pursed his lips as they curled, amusement swallowing him almost whole. The look on Tom's face truly was comical really. Almost as comical as the look on Ron's face, but he'd always been funny. It had taken everything in him not to belly laugh that time where they were in the forbidden forest. Where they'd been attacked by the spiders, oh, Merlin, once he had been in the safety of his four-poster bed, he'd laughed so much his ribs had hurt for days afterwards.

"Mate?" Ron said, gesturing for Harry to let him out.

"I am visible, aren't I?" Voldemort asked, utterly bewildered, it was like the wizard was playing a game of 'if I can't see him, he isn't there' it was ludicrous really.

Harry's muffled laughter did not help improve Lord Voldemort's mood at all.

"Crucio!" annoyance thrumming through him, as he watched with an impassive boredom as Ronald Weasley writhed under the power of his spell. Watching him gouge pieces of his own skin as he clawed at his face. Whether he was attempting to peel it off, or just stop the pain nobody knew. Everyone reacted to the spell differently.

Harry tapped his arm, wordlessly asking him to let up, as he claimed the Veritaserum. The bottle was small and clear – like most of Severus' vials – as was the liquid inside. Once Tom had let up the spell, Harry unlocked the cell door, never fearing anything with his partner watching his back – or front as the case may be – crouching down beside him. Snatching his chin, he dropped three drops of the translucent liquid onto Weasley's tongue.

Harry stood when Tom nudged his leg with his foot lightly, wordlessly telling him to budge along. Once his bonded was up, the Dark Lord flicked his wand yet again, and Weasley was flailing – Screaming at the shock of it – as he was propelled against the wall. Invisible ropes tying him in place, keeping him bound and in position.

"What do you even want to ask him?" Harry asked dubiously, Ron wasn't very bright, the chance of him knowing anything of value was slim to nothing. "He won't know anything we're not already familiar with." which was true he reckoned, but despite his words…there was no way either him or Tom would allow Ronald to live or worse, not make sure he didn't know anything before they took care of the problem. They could not let any threat to the new world they wanted to build live.

Sadly, Harry doubted, that Ronald would be the last of the Weasley's to perish before this was done.

"Likely not," Voldemort nodded his agreement, eyeing Ronald Weasley as if he were an inanimate object – like a portrait – and looking as if he was pondering on whether it as the right place for it.

"What's your name?" Harry asked, standing with his hands on his hips thoughtfully.

"Ronald Bilius Weasley," came the blasé reply, voice a little croaked due to the screaming he'd previously done under the Cruciatus curse, mere moments earlier.

"Why did you get Colin Creevy to write out that article?" Harry then asked, annoyance seeping into his voice. It was as advertised, an annoyance, nothing more. The public would believe whatever they were told, and bury their heads in the sand…or actually believe it. Approval purred through the unique and permanent bond they shared, Tom was still at heart very impatient, he was glad that they were getting to the root of all things instead of edging in.

"To drive Potter into returning, he has a job to do."

Harry froze, staring at Weasley feeling stunned, he was stunned despite himself. It was like Dumbledore talking out of Ron's mouth like a ventriloquist dummy. Or would have been, if it hadn't been uttered in Ron's voice. It had Dumbledore's words written all over it, a job to do. He huffed incredulously, muttering 'Bloody idiot' under his breath.

"Is there any truth to the article?" Voldemort asked, eyes narrowing in displeasure, flashing red in his irritation. There was no way the idiotic brat had managed to stumble on the truth by accident.

Harry turned back to face Weasley, his brow furrowing deeply as he waited on an answer.

"Yes," Ron Blasély uttered.

"How many have you told?" Voldemort's tone became curt, demanding.

Ron predictably didn't answer, for the question was too broad, it could mean anything.

"You knew that Tom Riddle is Lord Voldemort?" Harry interjected, whispering quietly, "I never actually told anyone…but maybe Ginny did?" she had been possessed by Tom after all. Tom knew this too, so it wouldn't surprise him.


"Was he ever in my…other presence?" Voldemort asked, ignoring the fact that Weasley had answered for the moment.

"No," Harry vehemently declared, that definitely didn't happen, "He got stuck at the entrance of the Chamber and he didn't venture further. By the time it was over, the diary was destroyed, there's no way he saw you." it went without saying that surely if Ron had seen him…he would have made sure his sister was safe and not just ignored an entity following his sister around.

"When did you find out that Tom Riddle was Lord Voldemort? What age were you?" Voldemort questioned Weasley, grimacing a little, he'd never get used to using the name Tom Riddle. He'd gone so long hating it and referring to himself as Lord Voldemort that it took him too long to realize someone was talking to him when they called out Tom.

"I was twelve, the summer holidays before my third year."

"Who told you?" Harry asked, worry sinking into his gut, how many of the Weasley's know about Tom's identity? His heart pounded erratically in his ribcage, fearing possible answers. "Who else was there when you were told?!" relaxing a little when he felt Tom's hand grasping his neck, squeezing in comfort, trying to calm him down. The lack of worry filtered through his mind, making him realize that everything was going to be fine.

The thought of anything happening to Tom…was terrifying, and quite possibly the only thing that could elicited such an emotion from him. Even at the thought of his own death…had him merely blinking and carrying on. Breathing out, he allowed his bondeds' own calm ease his own sudden spike of anxiety.

"Albus Dumbledore explained everything to us, to mum, dad, Ginny and me." Even under the drug, the idiot puffed out a little as if it was something to be proud of.

"How do you know what Tom Riddle looks like?" Harry asked, continuing to quiz his so called 'ex' best friend. Truth was, he'd never considered himself to have had friends, regardless of what the world thought. If he had to pick, it certainly wouldn't be Weasley…and until recently Granger either.

Voldemort's eyes flickered to Harry before returning to Weasley, it was a very good question but logically answerable.

"Mum and dad wanted to know how he'd managed to hoodwink Ginny," Ron intoned, "Professor Dumbledore showed us a picture of him, even mum got flustered."

Voldemort grimaced, almost resorting to a shudder in order to make himself feel marginally better about an old woman (who's daughter probably walked right out of her she'd had that many) being attracted to him. A woman who had to drug a respectable wizard in order to make herself feel better.

Harry wasn't quite so composed, he choked out a laugh, almost cackling, and ending up doing so when Tom glared at him. "Sorry, sorry, sorry," he choked out, shaking his head, "I need brain bleach, bleurgh." Sticking his tongue out as if to physically express how sick he felt.

"Did you tell anyone that Tom Riddle was Lord Voldemort's name?" Voldemort continued to interrogate Weasley while his bonded regained his composure.

Harry sobered up hearing that, almost immediately.

"Colin Creevy," Ron answered.

"Did you show the picture to anyone?" Voldemort demanded, relieved that at least, he hadn't gone around informing everyone. Neither the public or the press believed it, which was a relief, they believed the story they'd told at the conference that he and Harry had held.

"No," Ron answered, why the hell would he show anyone a picture of the evil wizard? Especially when he was very attractive, it shouldn't be allowed. Plus, all he'd been told said that he didn't look like that anymore.

"What were you hoping to accomplish by drawing Harry Potter out?" Harry asked, finding it odd to refer to himself by his name instead of saying, 'me' but needs a must.

"He has a job to do," Ron told them blandly.

"So, you've said," Harry grunted, glaring at the red head in disgruntlement, "What had been your plans when Harry showed up?"

"Give him a potion," Ron declared.

Harry reached out blindly, grasping a hold of his bonded, his grip tight and bruising as fear consumed him.

"Who gave you the potion?" Voldemort curtly demanded.

"Professor Dumbledore," referring to him respectfully despite the fact the old fool was no longer a professor – or headmaster come to that – he was not thought of kindly at all anywhere. In fact, he was no longer anything, after all the old fool was now dead, gone for good.

Voldemort winced at the feeling of Harry digging his nails – blunt as they may be – into his arm. Harry was most definitely the only one who would and could get away with such actions. Anyone else would have been swiftly cursed and not long after a drooling mess. "It might not be the potion we think it is." An empty attempt at soothing him, since Harry just him a 'who the hell are you kidding' look. "There's no way he'd give it to…" glancing at Weasley there were too many adjectives he could use to describe him…and he was struggling to choose which one.

"Why didn't you go through with it?" Voldemort questioned, tense and alert. Perhaps Harry was right, they needed to find out if there were any more of those potions out there. Clearly Dumbledore hadn't thought anything of Obliviating himself. Perhaps a slither of conscience lives in the boy? He'd had an opportunity, well, not really, he'd had the appearance of one, but hadn't shown, not even for a second.

"I didn't hear about the conference until Fred and George put the radio on while we were moving," Ron intoned. Then in his excitement he sort of forgot his plan.

Arthur's and Anthea's relationship – despite decades gone by – had been so easily picked back up. The Weasley and Dolohov mixed family was a big one. Antonin wasn't about to let his sister live in a hovel, that the Weasleys called the burrow. Bless his sister she had said she didn't care where she lived, she was just happy. So, Antonin had, had a property built – with more than enough room for all children to have a room each – and a few guest bedrooms. Naturally, Ron and Ginny were the most excited, for the first time in their lives they felt like they were actually winning. New clothes, new house, new room, Ron honestly forgot about his mum.

"You would have given Harry the potion?" Voldemort asked, Harry snorted beside him, clearly already knowing the answer. He did as well, he was just curious, morbidly so, this was supposed to be the light side after all. Even he wouldn't contemplate using such a potion on someone. He'd rather kill them; it was a much nicer fate that entirely scrubbing someone of their personality until all that remained was the one provided for them.

"It's for the greater good," Ron intoned.

Harry snorted, shaking his head in disbelief, "Where is the potion?" he wanted to disappear, for good. Forever, just disappear, who knew how many others had been given a damn vial of that potion? Was he forever going to have to watch his back in fear of being drugged? With someone so utterly irreversible? He, Tom and Severus had tried to make an antidote, but it just wasn't possible, the only one they had done, caused death to the drinker and it had been made by design.

"In my bedroom," Ron blankly revealed.

Voldemort made a move to step out, to get it retrieved by someone he trusted.

"Which bedroom?" Harry asked, causing Tom to pause, as he waited on a reply.

"My bedroom at the Burrow," Ron answered.

"Where?" Harry demanded.

"Wedged in the secret compartment behind the wall," Ron revealed. He couldn't risk the twins getting a hold of it, or anyone in his family for that matter.

Voldemort having the answer he sought, stepped out, swiftly making his way towards the dungeons where Severus was currently situated. It didn't take him long, thankfully close enough that it took all but a minute. He silently entered the dungeon Severus was using, remaining quiet until he was sure not to startle Severus – and interrupt the potions brewing – it was dangerous business after all.

"My Lord?" Severus murmured, letting the Dark Lord know it was safe, as he stepped away from the cauldrons.

"How long do you have?" he commanded, eyeing the cauldrons that were bubbling away.

Severus refrained from narrowing his eyes, not in displeasure, no. He knew something was wrong, the Dark Lord was worried, also angry. He knew he wasn't going to like what he was going to find out. Albeit if they even revealed whatever that was upsetting them. "Forty-five minutes if I banish this potion," Severus gestured towards the one he was talking about. It was a simple pepper-up potion. Simple but did need near constant supervision. "Or I could get Lucius to continue it."

"Do it." Voldemort declared, "Then I need you and Antonin to go to the Burrow and retrieve a potion from Ronald Weasley's room." His lips pursed, nostrils flaring, furious with himself.

Severus' stomach sank, closing his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose resignedly, "The potion?"

"Indeed," Voldemort said seething with fury, he didn't trust anyone else to retrieve it, he knew he could trust Antonin and Severus explicitly. They would bring back the potion and it would be destroyed. "It's hidden in a secret hole in the wall," they had to find out just how many other vials were out there. Damn his bonded for being right, he wished Harry wasn't, but he had, had his own suspicions.

"I'll retrieve it at once," Severus agreed, flicking his wand out, murmuring quietly to his Patronus, before it took off, Severus stirred the potion three times clockwise, before counting to ten and then stirring five times anti-clockwise.

Voldemort didn't wait, he turned and left, presumably to return to his interrogation of the youngest Weasley boy.

"Severus? What's going on? Your Patronus was very cryptic," Lucius said, narrowing his eyes on the movements Severus did with the potion, and knew immediately where exactly he was. The Pepper-up potion was a distinctive colour and you only stirred anti-clockwise ten times once and it was near the half way stage.

"There was a reason for that, the Dark Lord was present," Severus informed him, "And extremely pissed." He might not have looked it but his entire body had radiated a tension, he was just glad not to have been cursed. Which is exactly what would have happened before he returned saner for it too.

Lucius looked worried, "What's happening?"

"Another vial of that potion has been found," Severus explained, watching Lucius' worry, whether it was for himself, the situation or his family it wasn't known. "I've been tasked with retrieving it…but I do not believe that is all that's wrong." He said, refusing to speculate further, they would find out sooner or later.

"What do you need from me?" Lucius asked, stepping forward, noting that Severus was marking where he was, magically, in three different books. Good, nothing experimental that was a relief, he didn't do well with anything experimental. "I've got it," he said before Severus could give a sarcastic retort.

Severus swiftly made his way out of the dungeons, wand already out, locating charm for Antonin leading him towards the wizard. He wasn't exactly surprised to see him in the library, a cup of coffee on the table next to it. Antonin nodded in greeting before going back to his book. Severus and Antonin didn't often work together. "The Dark Lord has a task for us."

Antonin sighed, placing the book down almost regretfully, and even more regretfully at the full mug of coffee. Ah, well, duty calls, he'd been up all night seeing to things he'd neglected in he estate while enjoying having his sister in his life once more and getting to know his niblings as his sister fondly called them teasingly to him.

Severus chuckled, "It's a quick task," it wasn't as if they were going to be away for hours.

Antonin nodded, leaving behind the book and coffee, he followed Severus, both of them briskly making a beeline outside of the manor. "What's the task?" Antonin queried.

"Weasley has a potion hidden in his old bedroom at the Burrow, we're to retrieve it." Severus explained.

"A Potion?" Antonin asked doubtfully, why the hell were they being tasked to take a potion off a kid? "What the heck is so dangerous about the potion?" the Weasley's had always been poorer than dirt, what kind of potion could be worrying the Dark Lord?

"Dumbledore gave him it, it's the potion he used on Grindelwald, that he created," Severus replied curtly, the gravel under his feet the only sound for a few minutes as Dolohov digested what he'd just been told.

"Great, just great," Antonin muttered, grimacing a little, "How many other clueless kids did he give that potion to?" it was bloody dangerous, especially if they didn't know exactly what it did. It was terrifying so it was, Dumbledore was…there wasn't a word grave enough to describe it really.

Severus bit his tongue harshly, "Likely going to be on all our minds."

"You don't seem surprised…" Antonin mused thoughtfully, his voice a little breathless trying to keep up with Severus' swift strides.

Severus shook his head as he stopped outside the wards, "I'm not, nobody is, it's something we speculated but gave little real thought to when it was originally found." And months thereafter, when they attempted to create some sort of antidote for it. He wasn't used to failing, and that's exactly what the antidote was…a failure. It didn't help anyone, if anything it was detrimental to them.

Giving a nod to each other, then with sharp cracks the pair of them disappeared.

They swiftly and simultaneously reappeared outside the old Burrow. There were no wards on the property anymore. The entire plot of land was worth more than the home was itself. If you could call the property home, which Antonin definitely didn't, it was a hovel.

Severus didn't really have an opinion on it, for he'd grown up somewhere just as run down. Probably worse, actually, if one thought about it. There was a place for everything, yet cramped, clean but definitely looked untidy. If he didn't have magic though, the property would have been beyond saving. He was lucky he could banish away mould, water damage and the like. Grunting, wrapping his robes around him, he began walking towards the Weasley's former abode.

"Can't believe my sister wanted to live here," Antonin grouched, the pens were gone, leaving an area of immensely muddy space. The only thing that was still there – even the shed was gone – was the trees at the bottom of the garden, where fruit grew in abundance to keep the family well fed.

"After the life she's had, Antonin, the thought of freedom and the ability to live anywhere must have been enticing." Severus informed him, and yes, he was aware of what happened. He and Harry spoke often, mostly at night or while brewing potions. It was rather enlightening how Harry felt about abuse – not just of women or children but men too – part of him still had that hero complex. He wanted to fix everyone's life, but knows he can't, instead he does what he can.

Antonin glanced at Severus in surprise, clearly thrown that he knew as much as he did, "Harry," he sighed, realization dawning, of course, he should have guessed.

"Do not worry about him revealing it to everyone, he just needed to vent," Severus murmured as they moved, "He isn't one for revealing everyone's past, or their lives, you can trust that he'd keep your secrets unless it posed a danger to life."

"He told you," Antonin pointed out dryly. "Hmm, a trusted confidante of Harry Potter, I didn't see that one coming." He was just teasing Severus.

"No, a few years ago…I wouldn't have seen it either," Severus replied, his cheeks flushing a very pale red, "I…he's Lily's son." He confessed, of course, he was always going to have some sort of relationship with him. Back then he thought it would just be saving his ungrateful hide. He'd never imagined this sort of relationship but he was glad for it.

Antonin glanced at Severus very briefly, "Huh, you consider him a son," he never thought he'd see the day, yes, he looked as if he could tolerate kids, but he'd never really seen Severus as a father kind of guy. Then again, not a lot of them looked like they'd make good fathers but actually are the best.

"Yes," Severus agreed, there was no shame in the agreement, he did consider Harry a son. "Let's get this done." entering the Burrow, Severus glanced at the kitchen and living room. He knew this was where the Order members had died, that the last hope for the 'light side' diminished. Foolish idiots, they'd followed Dumbledore to death.

He was fervently glad he had seen the error of his ways, and had been forgiven for his folly of following Dumbledore. A visible shudder wracked his frame, wondering…if he had declined all Dumbledore's 'suggestions' whether he too would have been imbibed with the very potion they were retrieving.

"Where to now?" Antonin asked, whether he saw Severus' reaction and ignored it or just didn't pay enough attention nobody knew.

"One of the bedrooms," Severus replied, lip curling, he'd never been here so didn't have a clue where to start.

The two began checking each room, but some became obvious it wasn't that, an office, and rooms with peeling paint and furniture that was falling to pieces even with magic. One Severus knew to be the Weasley twins room, and Ginevra. The moment they stepped into a room covered entirely in Orange and posters with the Quidditch team, Chudley Cannons still hung up on the wall, threadbare as they were. "And we have a winner." Severus stated, as he opened the door further.

"He had better not turn the new place into a replica of this eyesore," Antonin grimaced, wondering when the last time this place was decorated.

Severus snorted, "Considering his location…I doubt very much he'll survive the night." which was true enough.

Antonin shrugged indifferently, he honestly couldn't care, he'd only heard what his sister had to say about them. Which wasn't exactly a shining example. The elder children were all so polite and happy, while Ronald and Ginny were pushing it, rude, intolerable children, but she did admit, they'd just lost their mother, they were grieving, it was difficult to see their father moving on. She was spoiling them, in a bid to make them 'like her' so to speak. Which had worked wonders, Antonin had told her it would bite her in the ass. The ungrateful brats would revert to their childish ways to get what they wanted.

Looks like there would only be one of them.

Wands out, they brushed their magic over their own section of the room, helped along by the fact it was empty. Not even a bed was left behind in this room. It had either been new enough to go with them, or taken apart before the move. "Severus," Antonin murmured, feeling the vial behind the wall, even his magic recoiled as if it knew what the potion was capable of. "My magic is recoiling from it." some spells could do that, but he'd never heard of it happening with a potion.

"Yes, Harry felt the same especially once he was consciously aware of what it was." Severus murmured, it was more of an unconscious thing, knowing it was meant for him. It had broken yet hardened something in Harry, that knowledge, hurt too, as much as he hated Dumbledore…that potion was a whole new low. The four outline pegs denoted the fact that Weasley's bed had once sat in this corner. Often pulled out, and they didn't even need magic, the panel fell with a thud.

Antonin, who was closer, checked for any spells or traps – as unlikely as they were to be any – they found nothing. He nodded to Severus, who plucked it out and opened it. Inside was the vial, encased in a black velvet bed keeping it secure. There was a thick piece of parchment, which Antonin used his index finger to pluck out of the box. It wasn't difficult, for it had been removed dozens of times, going by its wrinkled state.

"Just as I thought, instructions," Antonin said, grimacing as he showed Severus the writing.

"Dumbledore's cursive." Severus murmured, giving it a quick read, "He didn't even attempt to hide it." utterly bewildered, was so he confident that he'd never be found out? Figured out that he'd just been bordering on idiotic? Too filled with confidence to think anyone would see him as anything else other than a hero.

Antonin just snorted derisively. "Don't suppose you'd let me set fire to the place?" it was falling down anyway.

"No, we best not leave any evidence we've been," Severus murmured, standing up, their task almost complete. The moment he spoke, Antonin was quick to wipe away their magical signature, which wasn't as easy as one thought. Only a handful of wizards in the Dark Lord's service had the powers to do so entirely. Sure, most could perform the spell, and it could wipe their magic, but not entirely.

Once they were done, they took the box and its contents, Weasley wouldn't have a use for them now. As an afterthought, he cast the spell again, aiming for all around the property, but there was nothing. "I'm surprised the Aurors didn't find this," he confessed, but it just proved what he had always known.

That they were useless.

They had just stepped out of the Burrow when they felt their marks burn, glancing at each other, they Apparated back to Slytherin Manor.

They weren't the only ones called.

"It's going down tonight," Antonin realized, rubbing his hands gleefully, "Good, I've been bored too long."

"Says the wizard who hated he was interrupted half an hour ago?" Severus said sarcastically.

"Coffee can wait," Antonin waved away the concern. "Finally!" they might never be able to use their original identities – for the most part – but after winning they'd have a lot less to be concerned with and things would soon go back to how it was meant to be.

They could openly practice paganism, without being arrested.

They could perform magic without it being deemed 'dark' and being imprisoned for 'blood magic' and the like.

By the time they found the Dark Lord and Harry, it was with the dead body of Ronald Weasley dangling in the invisible bonds of magic.

A/N – Do you want to see the focus of the story being on un-banning banned magic? I mean it's already going to be in The Contract and My Time…I don't want my stories to all end up similar so I'm trying to make it all different even if it' just a little bit 😊 or will we see it just written about before the epilogue? What celebration would you like to see (pagan one) in the epilogue? To round up the story? Which won't be the next chapter but it will be coming soon…😊 I've done a few Pagan celebrations in Lord Of Time but it's fun to continue with it 😊 I think this is the first story I'm going to have where Harry doesn't have a child lol it feels weird but a good weird you don't need children to be happy and I do want to make that more known I guess 😊 R&R please