AN: I have almost finished the third chapter so I thought it would be nice giving you the next chapter to get the story a little more forward.
I most likely cannot keep this pace, but the number of people following this story made me wish to give you more to read :D
Any ideas, questions, speculations or wishes you may write in reviews can still influence where this story goes. I have a plot line in mind, but which parts I will write and details along the way are not set in stone, yet. Have fun!
Worries and Plans
Alongside happiness about the fast approaching long holidays, worry was one of the dominant emotions in Hogwarts this last week before the end of the school year.
The Headmaster was worrying about the safety of all the students of his school, both those that were muggle-borns and those who had parents who were servants of Voldemort. He was concerned for the first for being targeted by Death Eaters, and the last because it was likely that they would be pressured to become Death Eaters themselves, or would be witnesses to some horrible actions over the summer holidays. He was worrying about how many would die or become orphans, how many would suffer. But he distanced himself from those worries. He had learned a long time ago that he could not worry over individuals, so he did not lose sight of what needed to be done, so that in the end the best outcome for the whole could be achieved.
And so he focused on contacting old friends and allies and everyone he could think of who might be convinced that Voldemort was indeed back once more. On getting the Order back on track to hinder the Death Eaters and their master in every way possible.
Severus was worrying too. As the Head of House Slytherin he worried about his students. The bullying they would be subjected to from the other Houses once the return of the Dark Lord became public knowledge. The political pressure those belonging to more neutral or light families would experience over the next weeks and months. How he could get those not wishing to participate in their parents' actions, out of the pinch they were sure to land in. Shortly said, how he could keep the children in his care safe.
He was worrying about his own future too. Would he live to see the next school year? If he did not, who would protect his students? Could he live as a man on the run? He did not know the answers to those questions and tried not to linger too long on them. It would do him no good, after all. And so he focused on going through all his books in the search for anything that might be useful in the task to give a resurrected wizard a human body once more. Often he could be seen on the way to or from the restricted section of the library, and the collection of books in his quarters grew with each trip into Madam Pince's domain.
Harry was worrying mostly about the future. The immediate future, and his stay at the Dursleys' this summer especially. He thought that they probably would be more unpleasant than in previous years after the fiasco with the fireplace the last summer. And the memorable tongue toffee incident. But as this was quite normal by now and something Harry could plan for – the Dursleys were not known for being creative – these worries were not the most prominent in Harry's thoughts.
No, his imagination was running wild on the possibilities, now that Voldemort was back. As the Ministry did not believe Harry, did not want to believe, he worried how many people would be hurt or killed before they realized that they needed to be careful. How many of his fellow students, how many of his friends would get between him and Voldemort? He was afraid that more of them would get in the way and killed.
And so he stayed away from most of the other students, only spending time with Ron and Hermione, and Hagrid once in a while. Everyone tried to tell him that Dumbledore would find a solution, that he would be safe. But Harry did not really believe them.
Hermione and Ron worried, mostly for their friend Harry, but Hermione was also worrying about the exams and her parents – she was not sure what to tell them, or if she should tell them anything at all – and Ron about his brothers and Ginny.
And so everyone had his or her own worries as the last days of term passed by.
The cosy seating area in Lucius Malfoy's study was prepared for a meeting. Tea was ready and placed with fine bone china on the low table with inlays that showed a field of flowers. There were little sandwiches and pastries, and one cup and plate for each of the expected guests. One of the chairs around the oval table had been transfigured into a more extravagant version. It had green silk cushions, instead of the dark brown velvet ones, and was carved in a way that reminded of scales and snakes in places along the armrests.
Narcissa was checking for a last time that all was perfect. She did not dare to risk angering the Dark Lord residing in their home, so shortly before the school year ended and her only child would return for the summer holidays. She was rearranging the biscuits, again, as she heard the door to the study opening behind her. She turned and bowed low as she saw the Dark Lord entering the study, followed by her husband and some of the other Death Eaters.
"Thank you, Narcissa," spoke the Dark Lord, nodding his head in her direction. "Do not let us keep you from preparing for Draco's return." At this clearly dismissive statement Narcissa curtsied to her Lord trying and failing to not seem to be hurrying out of the room. Marvolo, as he had come to think of himself in the last week, tried not to limp on the way to his seat at the table. While the others followed and found seats for themselves, the Dark Lord lowered himself cautiously. He had punished Peter more than once in the last few days for his mistakes with the potion. And while the rat's screams were something he did like to hear, they did nothing to alleviate the pains caused by the incorrectly brewed potion. He still needed pain potions to be able to sleep at night. He really hoped that Severus would be able to find a cure and that he would be able to gain his loyalty once again.
They settled down, taking pastries or sandwiches and preparing their tea as each of them liked it. The Dark Lord let his eyes wander over his followers. Lucius had recovered from his punishment for losing his Lord's diary. In hindsight, Marvolo thought it was rather fortunate that Lucius had tried to get rid of it and tried to take a nuisance down at the same time. Had the blond not given the diary to the youngest Weasley, it would not have been destroyed, in the process freeing the largest part of his soul. And without this he might still be insane and bent on destruction, straying farther from his goals.
Benjamin Nott, the only son of his … maybe he should start calling those that had gone to school with him friends … old friend, took another pastry and tried to appear relaxed, even though he was quite tense. The same went for Avery, Macnair, and the older Lestrange... well, maybe not him. As one of his … friends, he was better at reading him and knowing that there was no real danger at the moment.
Marvolo took a bite from a sandwich – and it was a very good one – and settled a little more into his chair. Setting the remaining portion of the sandwich down, he looked to Benjamin and Lucius "What have you two found?"
Lucius started talking as Benjamin just took a sip from his cup. "We did indeed find an old law that could be beneficial in the current circumstances." He picked up a piece of parchment he had laid down on the table and reached across to hand it to his Lord.
"In the early 1300's there was a Potions Master that tricked several witches to drink a potion that made them lose their bodies. He then proceeded to force their spirits into bodies he created for them," here he made a face of distaste "Bodies sewn together from animal parts, or so the sources claim." Lucius' display of disgust was shared by all the others assembled around the table.
"However, what is of interest for us is the law made in the aftermath of these occurrences. To help the victims of this madman, a law was created stating that everyone that was forced from their bodies and regained a body of their own once more, should not be hold accountable for what they did before gaining the new body."
Marvolo's brow rose at this explanation. That seemed indeed to be usable. He glanced at the copy of the law and its translation on the parchment.
"Originally it was to help the witches after they were freed and restored to human bodies again, so they would not be held responsible for the things done while in the fabricated bodies and under the influence of that wizard. But it is worded vaguely enough to be adaptable to your situation, my Lord."
After a questioning look from the Dark Lord in the direction of Benjamin Nott, the brown haired man in dark brownish robes nodded. "I have read all we could find of all cases in which this law was used, and checked for possible problems. Everyone that was a bodiless spirit for any length of time and got a new human body after that can call on this law, to start fresh. The witches were considered to be newborns, free of everything they had or had not done before being reborn." He looked at his hands and back up again. "They will probably change the law once you use it, my Lord, but they will not be able to hinder you in starting fresh, if you gain a human body again."
Amusement flittered over the Dark Lord's face. "I see where my current body might not be counted as human at the moment. I have Severus working on that." He laid the parchment with the law gently on the table and took the time to take a good sip from his tea. "So, there is a way to get me back into the world without anyone of the Ministry or Dumbledore's men being able to do anything about it." Nodding all around the table was his silent answer. "Good." He shifted his gaze to Xerxes Lestrange, whose hair was getting decidedly grey with age. "I will have to change residence. You or Benjamin are obvious choices for me to reside with after being reborn anew."
That declaration shocked Lucius, who started to protest and rise from his chair but was interrupted by Voldemort with a sharp gesture with his hand "Say, Lucius, and be honest. Would you let someone reside in your house that placed you under the Imperius curse and forced you to commit numerous crimes?"
Lucius sank back in his chair after jumping to his feet to protest. He was thinking fast, trying to find the right answer to escape a round under the Cruciatus curse. The last aches from his punishment for the lost diary had just left him the day before. "No, I would not risk the safety of my son or wife." he stiffened in anticipation and looked up, surprised when no curse hit him.
"So I cannot stay in your manor if we are to keep up the stories many of you told after my unlucky encounter with the Potter child." A pointed look from Marvolo had them all cringing in their chairs for a few seconds.
"We will have to wait on this for Severus to find a way to make my appearance human once more. But tell me, what did you find on the state of our population?"
As he had suspected, the classes at Hogwarts had been smaller since the war, and the ratio of pure-blooded children to those with only one magical parent or even muggles as parents was shifting more and more to the latter. And the trend for the future was not looking up. Most of the pureblood families had only one, at the most two children. And the reasons were varied. The Malfoys had decided not to try for a second child because their standing was unstable at best. Benjamin Nott had only this one son, because his wife died shortly after Theodore was born, and he did not want to search for another wife... if one suitable could even be found. Others were not capable of getting more children, like the Longbottoms, or were simply dead like the Potters and many others. A lot of the people that should be parents right now were dead, fallen on both sides in the last war.
"It seems that getting me to be a respected part of the law abiding population is the best way forward." He was growing tired again. Time to wrap this meeting up and send his followers out on another mission.
"Excuse me, my Lord, but why do you want to place so many restrictions upon yourself? Why can't we continue as we were doing?" Macnair seemed truly confused, and he had to be to question his Lord in so blunt a way.
The Dark Lord looked rather pensive for a moment, toying with his wand, and Macnair paled to an ashen colour. "It is quite simple. We cannot afford to lose any more witches and wizards. Another outright war, and we may succeed in removing ourselves from the face of earth."
Macnair gulped audibly and got white as a sheet at his Lord's next words. "If you think this to be a good plan, we can always start with you, Walden."
That of course had not been Macnair's intention and he hurriedly assured the Dark Lord that he knew best, and Macnair would never dare question him.
The rest of the meeting was quite productive, and after a few more hours the Death Eaters left, each of them with a new mission. It seemed that for once Marvolo's plans were going to work out.
First published: 5th of October 2015
last edited: 22nd of April 2017
Thanks to Jordre and Jake for helping to improve my spelling!