He locked the door behind him and hung his robe on the hook waiting for him. A simple hand motion set the hot tap pouring into the basin. He didn't use the plug. A wasteful use of the hot water, but who was going to tell him otherwise.
A soft cloth rested to the side, a dark green, the colour of the leaves of the forbidden forest at dusk in summer, his favourite colour, it reminded him of the freedom Hogwarts had originally offered him, a time of innocence. The soap was simple in its fragrance, he nodded in approval.
Steam rose from the basin before him, long pale fingers took the cloth and wet it, using the soap he quickly washed his face and upper body. He would have a proper shower later, this was to just remove the dust and ash from travelling.
A flicker of faint words from his early memories, Freaks don't deserve to be clean. A snarl rippled across his face, it had been a long time since that thought had bothered him. No more, he was beyond them now, mere muggles had no hold on him any longer, especially those animals.
The pouring water was refreshingly hot and clean, the steam rising and filling the room with a faint mist. The heat burning away the last of his darker thoughts from his childhood and before Hogwarts, his first true home.
The mirror shone in the room, its frame regal and proud, golden filigree on black wood. Expensive and regal, an antique. He hated it already.
He dropped the cloth back into the basin and the tap stopped with another motion of his hand.
He looked deep into the reflection of his eyes. A cold and harsh glare focused back on himself.
When had things gotten so out of control? He had been so careful, every move planned and measured. Every move of his enemies examined and dissected the same of his allies. In one night everything had fallen from his grasp, now he had to plan again and prevent any more disruptions from spoiling the end game.
He raised his hand and carefully wiped away the steam condensing on the mirror before him, only enough to show his eyes, no more, never more than that.
His features so like his fathers, anger began to writhe in his belly before he could calm himself. His eyes those of his mother, the only thing of worth in his face, their shape and colour calming him, restoring equilibrium in his mind.
He took a deep breath, letting the vapour collect in his lungs for a moment before expelling it. His occlumency barriers returning strong and inviolate once more.
He glanced to the side, an old newspaper damp with the moisture declared the fall of Dumbledore. The old fool who had controlled him for as long as it mattered. A smirk broke across the emotionless face, he was truly free now, he had no need to include him in his plans any more.
It would have been satisfying to at least have cast the spell himself, to take the light from his eyes by his own hand, years of suffering and pain repaid, never listening, always knowing best for him, sending him back to that place year after year even when he begged not to. He had begged, he begged to no-one and he would have fallen to his knees just to be safe from there. He shook his head to clear those thoughts.
His eyes returned to their reflection, coloured now by his emotions. He had dreamed of the look on dumbledores face when the light left him. Such a pity Snape of all people had performed the act, no matter, his punishment for stealing such an important event from him would be exquisite and subtle. He wondered if he would even realise until it was too late.
No. Snape would recognise it, he was too sharp not to.
Draco was simply a way to punish his father for his failures, a pawn on the chess board. He had done well though; he could at least admit that.
The Order of the Phoenix. No longer a threat to his plans, Dumbledore's militia of old men and women, fools and thieves. Only a few remained who were of consequence. Who would lead them now? McGonagall would not, she was a follower and administrator. She would not be the best for them to follow, too rigid in her attitudes, they needed strength and versatility. Take Hogwarts hostage and she would fold to protect the children. Someone who would do what was necessary to win, no matter the cost.
Shacklebolt. He was an experienced auror, good connections, a skilled fighter. People spoke of him with respect. Yes, without Mad Eye Moody, they would follow him.
A frown creased the reflections forehead.
Mad Eye Moody. Such a disappointing end to a legend, to fall in battle from a spell aimed at another. Mundungus Fletcher would pay for his cowardice. To have fought Moody would have been something to savour, the strongest wand of the Order behind Dumbledore. A master of combat and a war hero having captured so many without having to resort to killing them. A true paragon of combat.
He tapped his lips for a moment in thought, yes there would be no dishonour in respecting such a fallen hero, his remains would have to be recovered and lain to rest in honour. A warriors rest, wand in hand.
Images of a Viking funeral flashed through his mind bringing a smile to his face. Appropriate but the others wouldn't understand.
The smile faded at that, the frown returned.
His inner circle was fractured, damaged. Out of all of them, he could only trust her, none of the others were as worthy as her in their loyalty.
He smiled at the thought of her, her hair wild and untamed, just like her personality. She was attractive, in the right attire she caught even his attention. Her mind though, such sharp intellect focused around her burning faith in him. She was truly his right hand in this war, his sword, his wrath.
To counter her, his left hand, a pureblood of ancient lineage, it was such a pity that he could never be trusted, jealous and ambitious, hungry for glory, wealth and power. Forever standing in the shadows of others, desirous of more but without the drive to do more with his own hands. The greatest gain with the least effort.
He leant forward his hand on the edge of the basin, he stared deep into his reflection as he pondered how things would unfold from here.
The Wedding at the Burrow.
That would be the moment to strike, the Weasley Patriarch ran a department, he was a member of Dumbledore's Order. There would be many of the Order and Auror's present either as guests or guarding the Weasley Heirs wedding to the Veela. Her father was an official in the French government, that was how he had managed to retain his families position even having married a Veela. He would have guards, the British Minister would have to surpass those numbers to show strength, or match them for trust. So surpass it would be, Scrimgeour would not allow himself to appear in any form weak.
Take the ministry whilst most forces are distracted, a secondary force to take St Mungos. Slow infiltration of the Wedding site with a third force. Slow and careful.
The minister will need to show his face, his guards on alert for attack. Whilst they are away from the ministry, strike. Close off the floo network, allow only access I desire. Contain the Auror's and Imperio those directors not already loyal to the cause.
Second team strikes through the floo at St Mungo's. Use the confusion and secure the site. Take those within the wards as hostage, ensure silence and capture aurors as they retreat with the injured to the hospital.
The Minister will return either to his estate or to the ministry itself. Anti portkey and apparition on his arrival at the estate, force him to retreat to the ministry, he'd go directly to his office. That needs to be held as a priority. Slaughter him and his guard.
Presume a warning will be sent to the Order. Strike during the reception, drink, food and the festivities will distract people. It would need to be timed correctly. Snape would be best to lead that force, he has the most experience with the Order, a test of his loyalty to see if he would strike appropriately or not.
Malfoy should lead the assault on the ministry; he is the most aware of the loyalties within their ranks. He is also experienced in the minister's chambers.
Who to lead the St Mungos assault? Not Bellatrix, she'd get distracted and that is not acceptable.
He splashed his face a final time with the now lukewarm water, a towel jumped into his hand, careful drying his face off he stopped. Rookwood, yes, he would likely be best for that role at least to begin with. Once the hospital is secure shift him to the ministry to deal with the unspeakables.
After that the rest of the wizarding world would be easy to contain and secure. The Goblins were of no importance, they would maintain business and remain within their walls, they did not have the advantage to rebel right at this moment. Perhaps an envoy to request that they stay out of internal matters that do not concern them.
Diagon Alley and Hogsmead were irrelevant at that time, possibly a small attack to draw forces away from more vital locations. The aurors were badly trained and led mostly by idiots. They would fall for the feint.
Hogwarts would be problematic, but no-one had been chosen to become the new head of the school, he closed his eyes in thought, the post required having served as a tutor for more than a year, usually they would be head of a house and of suitable lineage to hold such a respected position in society. Snape would be best, he would of course be supported by a few additions to the teaching staff, it would not do to have only one man loyal within its halls. Hogwarts would rebel in less than a day. No a few deatheaters to fill the DA position, muggle studies, maybe history, perhaps a few guards to ensure peace and order is maintained.
Of course all children of age must attend, it would not be suitable for anyone to think they had other options. His fingers tapped the basin as he pondered the next move. Those of unsuitable lineage would need to be secured elsewhere, no need to damage the education of the next generation. Azkaban. It was no longer really needed and it would keep the dementors in a useful location to deploy them later if needed.
He stopped the flow of thought for a moment as the light caught his eyes. A pale finger rose and he pulled on his lower eyelid to look deeper at his eyes.
They say the eyes are the mirrors of the soul.
What did that really mean?
Especially to him?
A banging at the door grabbed his attention.
"Are you okay in there?"
He carefully brought his mask back into play, "Of course Hermione, everything is fine."