September 1995, Tuesday 12:00 PM, A Day Increasingly Statistically Unlikely Given the Many Other Things Which Didn't Happen
For the first time in her life, Lily would rather be in class right now.
Even though class on this fine September morning in her fifth year was Defense Against the Dark Arts with their latest and greatest professor: Delores Jane Umbridge.
Now, Lily wouldn't say that Umbridge was worse than every other professor she'd had. Squirrel had been secretly evil as well as incompetent, Lockhart had gotten himself possessed, Lupin had tried to eat her, and Moody had turned out to be an imposter who was very confused about which Tom Riddle he was supposed to be serving today. There was something grievously wrong with each of them, and if they happened to be competent then that grievous flaw was two times more likely to end in Lily being hunted down and murdered.
Lily hadn't expected Umbridge to be any different, and she wasn't. Umbridge stuck to their ministry approved textbook and curriculum like glue and insisted they would never be raising their wands in class. Lily got to learn all about the dangers of obscure dark creatures no human being was ever likely to come across unless they felt a dying need to go backpacking in Siberia.
Umbridge did have an extra… something to her. Call it malevolence, but there was something in the woman's dark beady eyes that hungered for pain and suffering. She made a point of singling out Lily every lecture, goading her into saying something about how the dark lord had returned or else simply insulting her and watching to see if she'd dare to twitch.
So far, Lily had kept her mouth firmly shut, but Lily could feel that detention coming and, whatever was in it, Lily knew she wouldn't like it.
This would probably get her detention if nothing else, Lily thought grimly. Skipping class would land her straight into either Umbridge's or Snape's open arms. If Lily was lucky, it'd be Snape, and god wasn't that saying something?
Still, as much as Lily might honestly prefer to be in class right now listening to Goyle try and fail to read a paragraph aloud, she really had no choice this time.
Only a few weeks into the school year and Wizard Trotsky had called in his favor. Hogsmeade, tomorrow, eight o' clock, his anonymous and overdramatic letter had read.
She thought it was bold of him to assume that she had an easy means to escape the castle. She did, technically, but she was pretty sure any other student would have a devil of a time getting out. She also thought it was bold of him that he assumed she had nothing going on for his last-minute date. That he was unfortunately right about that didn't make Lily happy. It really didn't make her happy that he could assume that she'd immediately recognize his handwriting but then maybe he knew he was the only person to send her something this goddamn ridiculous.
But Lily was a man of her word. A date she'd promised Wizard Trotsky in return for finding a pants less, cowardly, Wizard Lenin hiding in a cave and a date he'd get.
She just really wished he could have been inconsistent for once and asked for something else.
They could have gone to the movies! Lily loved movies. Some weird religious horror film with Christopher Walken and angels perched on lamp posts had come out. There was another National Lampoon film out (though it'd all sort of been downhill since Christmas Vacation). There were… other things that didn't look half as interesting.
The movies would have been great. They'd sit in a dark room, Lily didn't have to look at his face, and they wouldn't talk at all.
… Which was probably the reason he hadn't taken her to the movies.
No, instead, Wizard Trotsky had decided to make the most of this opportunity, as any Tom Riddle worth his salt would. This was his one, brilliant, chance to win Lily back from Hogwarts, Wizard Lenin, and whatever competition he imagined existed.
He'd decided to go the traditional romantic route.
There was candlelight, some imperioed muggle musician serenading the pair of them with a violin, roses in a vase, and a gourmet Italian dinner that would have cost him a fortune had he actually paid for it.
That dinner was at eight in the morning was also something that Lily was sure hadn't crossed Wizard Trotsky's mind.
Or the fact that while romance was nice it'd also be nice if she could have a meal in less than four hours. Lily wouldn't claim to be the expert of romance, but at least her ideas involving cars and bands didn't take much time.
So, now Lily was hungry, and Wizard Trotsky was still staring at her face.
Lily reached for the wine.
"Don't you think you've had enough?" Wizard Trotsky asked with a small frown.
"No," Lily said, though she hesitated, she was far from drunk (not even really tipsy) but she had not so fond memories of the last time she'd been near alcohol and a willing Tom Riddle.
"Do you not like it? The date, I mean." Wizard Trotsky continued, which would have been nice, if he'd asked that three hours ago.
"It's very nice," Lily said, her smile tight, and just to make sure he didn't get the wrong idea added, "I'm not going home with you, we're not having sex, and I'm not leaving Hogwarts."
He rolled his eyes, dragging a hand through his hair, and asked, "Hogwarts? Really? You hate Hogwarts, you're always dying to leave each year."
"Yes, but I hate this more," Lily said, "Hogwarts has never brainwashed me into trying to bang my first cousin."
"For the last time, I wasn't—"
"You were," Lily interjected, "Because I distinctly remember a brothel being involved. A brothel, when I was only twelve."
"It was," Lily said shortly, "And I will never forgive you for it. Tolerate you? Sure. Forgive you? No."
They fell into awkward silence, the violinist, of course, still playing.
"Lily," Wizard Trotsky started again, taking a deep breath to calm himself, "I am—I'm sorry. It was a rash, stupid, panicked action that I deeply regret."
Lily scoffed, "You regret it because it didn't work out for you."
"That's not it," he said, "I understand I… took something from you. I thought it was just as you had taken something from me, or I believed you had but—were I to turn back time I would not do the same thing again."
"That's nice," Lily said, grabbing the bread from the table to munch on it.
How much longer was this supposed to be anyway? Was she allowed to just stand up and leave before desert? She'd promised only a date, not even a full one, and as it'd been four hours she felt they'd had a pretty full date already.
"So dismissive," Wizard Trotsky sniffed, "You're very critical of me but unnaturally forgiving of your precious Lenin."
Oh, here they went, how had Lily seen it coming?
"He didn't make me his incestuous, underage, cousin," Lily responded easily.
"He has used you," Wizard Trotsky said, "Time and again, and he shows no indication of stopping anytime soon."
And he had, there was no denying that. Lily's being the girl who lived, her hosting his spirit and performing actions for him, and her limitless power were all essential tools for Wizard Lenin and always had been.
"He was very up front about that," Lily responded, "It never bothered me."
Wizard Trotsky's eyebrows furrowed with growing anger, "He has committed more than one grievous betrayal against you. He murdered your parents, intended to murder you, over a half-heard prophecy and jealousy. I never did that."
"And then he exploded," Lily said calmly, "He learned that lesson."
"When you went to the past he shunned you for almost an entire year," Wizard Trotsky added, "He sent you back to the school you hated, still had you do his dirty work for him, and even now rather than ask for your forgiveness prefers to pretend the whole thing never happened."
That was… true.
Wizard Lenin had never really gotten over Lily's trip to 1937.
When she'd returned he'd been very angry and very cold. He'd barely spoken with her in the weeks before Hogwarts, made no secret of his contempt and rage towards her. As 1993 had bled into 1994 he'd started calming down a little. It was the Triwizard Tournament, of all things, that had finally broken the tension between them and gotten them back to where they used to be.
He never had apologized though and he wouldn't listen to her attempts to apologize either. Now, they simply never discussed it, and it was as if it had never happened despite the devastating impact it'd had on Tom Riddle's life.
"He had his reasons," Lily finally said quietly.
"You are a tool to him," Wizard Trotsky hissed, "You are nothing more than a clever means to an end. Something he dare not use in public lest he be forced to admit that you're more powerful than any of us can ever hope to be."
"I am not a means to an end," Lily said quietly.
"Oh, has he told you that?" Wizard Trotsky asked, "Has he actually tried to charm you for once in his life? Is he even bothering to try now?"
No, not like Wizard Trotsky meant, but he didn't have to.
Wizard Lenin wasn't like that. He wasn't open with his affections or even his feelings in general. He'd carefully crafted the persona of Voldemort, had now lived with it so long he sometimes believed it himself, and it took a lot for anything vulnerable to leak through.
It wasn't in his words.
It was in his smiles, his laughter, the way he looked at her and…
And it was in his decisions he made while utterly intoxicated or else desperately panicking.
Though Wizard Trotsky didn't know it, though Wizard Lenin hadn't sent her any letters in the weeks since, technically Lily and Wizard Lenin were engaged to be married.
Lily didn't think he would do something like that for a pawn. He certainly hadn't married Bellatrix for all that he had taken sexual advantage of her.
"He'll do it again," Wizard Trotsky said with a sigh, "Just like he always does and maybe next time you'll actually let me pick up the pieces."
Lily snorted, "Right, sure, that'll be the day."
She was sure there was a self-written romance novel somewhere in Wizard Trotsky's apartment all about the time he nurses Lily out of hopelessness, despair, and heartbreak when Wizard Lenin commits some unspeakable evil against her.
She stood, "Well, with that, this has been fun but—"
"The date's not over!" Wizard Trotsky blurted, standing from his seat.
"It's been four bloody hours!" Lily blurted in turn, "Look, I may skive class now and then, but even I can't miss the entire day. With the Ministry the way it is they'll call a manhunt."
"No they won't," Wizard Trotsky scoffed, "They'll say you choked on a peanut and died or something. You being missing means it's that much more likely You-Know-Who had you kidnapped or assassinated and we can't have that."
"Regardless," Lily said, "I'm going back, I have O.W.L's."
"You could pass those blindfolded—"
"Not the theoretical portions," Lily noted, "And if you don't want me living on Lenin's couch and sobbing then I need good O.W.L scores."
"You need good N.E.W.T. scores, no one cares about the O.W.L.s except your professors," Wizard Trotsky corrected and then, looking her up and down, noted, "I can take them for you, you'll get perfect scores."
And with that, Lily was off, disapparating on the spot and leaving him alone in the restaurant with the bill. She landed right in the middle of a Hogwarts corridor, blessedly empty thanks to the students and staff already being at lunch.
She let out a long sigh, closing her eyes and leaning against the wall. It was over now. If luck held then she wouldn't have to see Wizard Trotsky until… Well, until he forced his way back into her life again as he surely would. The man was nothing if not persistent.
She then started walking, making her way to the Great Hall where she was sure she'd be told what detention she had with who by Hermione, only to stop just when she got inside.
There, hovering over the Default Table like a vulture, was none other than Severus Snape. By the way his head turned, by the way the entire room's heads turned, he had been looking for her. Probably looking for her very loudly and for a very long time.
"Snape," Lily said with a wave and a smile as she sauntered towards the Default table, "Lovely to see you, I'm afraid I overslept my alarm and—"
"Potter," he hissed out, "You were summoned to the Headmaster's Office three hours ago."
"I was?" Lily asked in confusion.
The Headmaster's Office? When was the last time she'd even spoken directly with Dumbledore? When was the last time he'd summoned her instead of her ambushing his office for that matter? She didn't think they'd talked since… Maybe her second year when he made her quidditch captain.
And during class?
"You're late to an extremely important meeting," Snape continued, looking as if he was barely keeping a lid on it, "And have been keeping very important people, who have much better uses of their time, waiting."
Lily blinked at him, blinked again, and then asked, "You mean Dumbledore?"
Before Lily could say anything else Snape grabbed her by her collar and started physically dragging her out of the room.
"Hey!" Lily protested, "Knock it off, I can walk, I'm walking!"
He let go of her, really kind of threw her aside, and didn't even wait for her to get her footing.
Ever since Wizard Lenin had called back his Death Eaters, Snape apparently included, he'd gotten even more abrasive towards her than usual. Well, no, he also went out of his way to avoid her these days. Before, he'd just deduct house points by the thousand, now he could hardly stand to look at her.
Him coming to get her like this was highly unusual and made her think that Dumbledore had requested he do it specifically. Snape, of course, being something akin to Dumbledore's right-hand man (which made him an invaluable, if not under constant suspicion by both sides, spy for Wizard Lenin).
Which meant that whatever this meeting was, it actually was important. Whatever the meeting was about though, and who it was with if not just Dumbledore, Snape didn't say.
When Snape spoke the password to reveal the stairs to the headmaster's office he then turned without a word, leaving Lily to climb up the steps alone.
Lily hesitated only a moment at the door, bracing herself for whatever was inside, then pushed it open to reveal a surprising combination.
There was Albus Dumbledore, sitting at his desk consumed by thought, no hint of his normal overly jolly cheer about him. On a transfigured couch, sipping at a cup of tea nervously, leg bouncing up and down, was none other than the current Minister of Magic: Cornelius Fudge.
Perhaps, in years past, this wouldn't be so odd. Except that Fudge had been spending the entire summer slandering Dumbledore left and right and accusing him of attempting to overthrow the government. Why would he ever, willingly, step foot in Dumbledore's office? More, why would he ask to meet with Lily?
At her entrance they both looked up. Fudge reacted first, standing, and moving his arms to motion to the other transfigured couch across from him.
"Ah, Miss Potter, you're here, splendid," he blathered as Lily slowly moved to take her seat.
"You're late, Miss Potter," Dumbledore noted, "Cornelius arrived several hours ago, we've been searching the castle for you for quite some time now."
"Overslept my alarm," Lily said evenly.
"I decided to spend the night in a crawlspace," Lily interrupted.
It was a bald-faced lie and they both knew it. However, in recent years Dumbledore had decided to let Lily keep her secrets. They both knew Lily had been off campus, neither of them was going to acknowledge it out loud or ask just what Lily had been up to.
Instead they just smiled pleasantly at each other.
"That's al—" Fudge stopped and stared at her, "In a crawlspace?"
"It seemed like a good idea at the time," Lily said.
Fudge looked like he wanted to say something to that, to either her or Dumbledore, but apparently, he decided to let it go. Instead, he sat back down and drank his tea.
Dumbledore turned his attention back to Lily, "Regardless of where you sleep, my girl, it's important not to miss your classes. Remember, your O.W.L. examinations are only a few short months away."
Lily offered a small hum of agreement.
"More, remember we live in dangerous times," Dumbledore added with a meaningful look, "The dark lord has been resurrected, I am sure he would jump at any chance to find you were you to leave school grounds unattended."
"Well, we can't have that," Lily agreed pleasantly, "Which is why it's a great thing that I didn't leave school grounds."
"Quite," Dumbledore said with his own pleasant smile.
"Now, Dumbledore, none of that," Fudge said sharply, "You-Know-Who has not returned, and I'll have none of your delusional propaganda here, thank you very much."
"Forgive me, Cornelius," Dumbledore said with a sigh, turning his attention back to the minister, "But I was under the impression that this was exactly what you had come for."
Fudge glared back, his lips pursed in distaste, and ground out, "It's in poor taste, Dumbledore, to manipulate the fear of the public for your own favor. Men fifteen years dead stay dead."
"I wish that it were so," Dumbledore said wistfully, causing Fudge to scowl that much harder.
Lily decided to interject before things could become heated, "Is there a reason I'm here right now?"
They both turned to look at her, their expressions equally grave, but neither said a word. Instead, they both looked her up and down, eyes raking over her body, examining her and searching for something in her face.
"Yes?" Lily queried, beginning to feel more than a little uneasy.
It was Fudge, shifting awkwardly, who spoke first. He cleared his throat, looked at her, looked at Dumbledore, then looked back at her.
"My girl, I first must say that despite Albus Dumbledore's belief, despite your own brief testimony, the dark lord has decidedly not returned."
Lily nodded as if this was very insightful and important information that she had to be called into a meeting with Fudge personally to hear.
However, it appeared that this wasn't a complete waste of her time, as he continued, "However, it has come to the ministry's attention that someone is using his name. Someone broke his Death Eaters out of Azkaban, someone has been instructing attacks such as that on the Tri-Wizard Tournament. This is not You-Know-Who but—intelligence informs us that it is his son."
Lily blinked, blinked again, "His what?"
Fudge looked serious.
Lily looked at Dumbledore who—also looked serious but didn't look as if he was on board the Tom Riddle's illegitimate son train.
"Yes, we were surprised as well," Fudge said, "The idea that any woman would consent or—"
He cut himself off, clearing his throat awkwardly, "Regardless, we strongly believe he has a son, and that this son has pledged to carry on You-Know-Who's work."
"I just—" Lily held up a hand, "Wait, no, he—What? Why do you believe this? What possible intelligence can you have?"
Wizard Lenin had certainly never mentioned a son. True, the man had his secrets, but Lily was damn sure that one would have come up. Not to mention that Wizard Lenin took great pride in being the sole heir of Slytherin, couldn't exactly do that with biological children.
"I'm afraid that's top secret," Fudge said.
Ministry intelligence, right, Wizard Lenin joked about that garbage all the time. No, this meant that Wizard Lenin had leaked this to Fudge. Except, Wizard Lenin had been pretty adamant about staying on the down low. More, the Ministry was desperate he not actually exist, for something like this it'd probably have to be Lucius Malfoy who convinced Fudge.
But why the hell would Wizard Lenin want to pretend he had some illegitimate Nazi son running around?
And why hadn't he warned her?
Then another thought struck Lily.
"Wait a minute," Lily said, "If you admit that there is a dark lord running around, then why isn't this in the papers? Why is today's latest headline talking about how I'm a delusional narcissist?"
"Well," Fudge said, flushing violently, "We, um, would not like for the people to panic. You see, there's a subtle distinction between—"
"Oh, come off it," Lily said.
"You-Know-Who is not back, Miss Potter!" Fudge said, "And your insisting he is does not help our investigation of the true culprit."
Lily forced herself not to sigh, not to give any outward sign of her exasperation, as Fudge watched her like a hawk for any dissent. Apparently satisfied, Fudge nodded to himself and continued.
"The Ministry is actively working to find him, of course, our top men are on the case but—he made direct contact with us first."
Here Fudge paused to look at Dumbledore, his expression a cross between smug and nervous, "You see, it appears the son is not as intelligent as his father was. Or, rather, he has become obsessed with the thing that stopped his father in his tracks."
He then looked back at Lily, motioning to her, "You, my dear, the girl who lived."
"What?" Lily asked again, a horrible suspicion dawning inside her.
Oh. Oh no.
What looked like Tom Riddle, but younger, sounded like him, but dumber, and was obsessed with Eleanor Potter? In other words, who had just asked her on a date this morning and would make direct contact with the ministry claiming to be Voldemort's long-lost son: Vladimort.
Lily was going to kill him.
She was going to find Wizard Trotsky and murder him.
Except, no, a simple letter or even showing up at the Ministry wouldn't be enough.
Wizard Trotsky would have had to convince one of Fudge's advisors, probably Lucius, who was Wizard Lenin's man. Wizard Trotsky would have been dismissed as a hoax, in extremely poor taste.
This couldn't be him.
This screamed Wizard Lenin's influence, and Wizard Lenin had been damningly quiet these past few weeks even with the pair of them supposedly engaged or whatever, but—
What the hell?
"Yes, quite a shock, I'm sure," Fudge said consolingly, "But you see he has—"
Fudge stopped, cleared his throat again, and tried to think of a way to say whatever it was he wanted to say. Lily wasn't sure she liked where this was going.
"Are you aware of medieval wizarding wars?" Fudge asked, then he turned to look at Dumbledore, "Do they teach that, Dumbledore?"
"I'm afraid not," Dumbledore said with a small smile, "Professor Binns focuses exclusively on the Goblin Wars."
"Right, yes, of course," Fudge said awkwardly, "Well, I can't say it's my area of expertise either. We had to bring in Bathilda Bagshot to help verify but, well—"
He stopped again, and turned to look back at her, "A thousand years ago, when the Saxon wizards were often at war with the Normans and the Vikings, there were several different kinds of magically binding peace treaties."
"The unbreakable vow is older than even that, clearly, and is still often in use today," Fudge said with a grimace, "But parties didn't always agree to that. There were other, less binding, but still very respected pacts that could be made between warring wizards. One specifically involves marriage."
Fudge stared directly at her as he said, "You-Know-Who's… son, has proposed that in exchange for your hand in marriage, he and his men will attack no muggle settlements or muggle born families."
Lily said nothing.
She sat there, waiting for Fudge to take it back, or to realize what he'd just said.
He didn't take it back.
Finally, no expression on her face, Lily asked, "What?"
"It's not a complete surrender, of course," Fudge acknowledged with some hesitation, "He made no guarantees for the Ministry or the pureblood population. However, this pact, this will save the lives of millions—"
"We don't have a population of a million," Lily found herself saying dully.
"Well, then thousands," Fudge dismissed, "Certainly dozens of muggleborns who do make the wizarding world their home and not to mention all those poor muggles."
Wizard Lenin had no plans to attack the muggleborn or muggle population though. Bellatrix was a loose canon who might go ahead and do it for kicks, but his efforts were against Dumbledore's underground resistance movement. He didn't even bother with the Ministry, given they adamantly believed he didn't exist.
Lily didn't attend all of Wizard Lenin's meetings, but she knew that much.
There was nothing to gain from attacking muggleborns and muggles directly. They had no power in this world. Attacking them would not get him closer to the throne.
But why would he do this? Why would he ever do any of this?
"Is this a joke?" Lily finally asked.
Fudge shook his head grimly, "No, Miss Potter, it is no joke."
They were going to sell her off to the dark lord.
And that's when it clicked.
Wizard Lenin had told her that they'd get engaged. Lily had thought he'd gone positively mad. First, they'd gone from zero to one hundred in sixty seconds. Second, though, was that there was no way he could publicly rise from the dead, engage himself to Eleanor Potter, without disrupting all of his own schemes.
She hadn't heard anything about any of this for weeks but now…
Now he could publicly marry the girl-who-lived while saving his own face, sacrificing none of the schemes he'd already had, assuring the public that he could be a reasonable man who wouldn't burn down their homes even as he attacked the government, and best of all have the incompetent Ministry agree to it.
That two-faced bastard.
Fudge drew her attention as he shifted again, a wary and almost guilty look on his face, "In fact, as you are a ward of the state with no legal guardian, I signed the pact in place of your father."
"What?" Lily asked, a little louder this time.
"This meeting is… simply to inform you," Fudge said carefully, wincing at her expression, "The wedding will be held in a month's time."
Then, hastily, he added, "October's a lovely month for weddings. It will be done at the Ministry's expense, no less, I'm told a wonderful venue has been selected."
"I'm fifteen," Lily said numbly.
"Yes, well," Fudge said, now sweating, "The age of majority is not in fact the age of consent in our country. And in these times—you do understand, my girl—it is a noble sacrifice you make."
Lily turned slowly to Dumbledore, and she was sure her eyes were burning with an eerie, internal, light, "Is this a joke?"
Dumbledore shook his head, "I am afraid it is not, my girl. I have done my own research into the contract Voldemort used, and it is legitimate. You are engaged to be wed to the dark lord."
Fudge winced at Voldemort, opened his mouth, but Dumbledore spoke over him, "However, this could be the end of the domestic terrorism against muggles and muggleborns that once fueled Voldemort's movement. Without that pervasive fear, without terrifying the population into acceptance of his tyranny, perhaps we now stand a chance to defeat him."
"Must you say that name, Dumbledore?" Fudge asked, "And for the last time, it's his deranged son, not the dark lord—"
"Quite," Dumbledore said dismissively.
Fudge stared at Dumbledore for a moment, as if he could will the man into obedience, then turned back to Lily.
Fudge sighed and said, "After the… wedding, your education will be—well, whatever your husband allows, I suppose. We honestly haven't given much thought to that. But think of the good you'll be doing for your countrymen! Thanks to your noble sacrifice, our people can live in peace!"
"Was my blowing up the dark lord as a toddler and being orphaned not sacrifice enough?" Lily asked in turn.
Fudge blanched, and then attempted to recover, "Well, sometimes, new sacrifices are called for."
And that was when Lily's rage hit such proportions that it exploded violently and took half of Dumbledore's office with it.
Author's Note: Written because people reminded me that this deserved another chapter. And convoluted ridiculous schemes amuse me.
Thanks for reading and reviewing, reviews are much appreciated.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter