"Stun the pair." A voice hissed through the graveyard. Harry's vision was consumed by a flash of red, and then his world faded to black.
Awareness came to him slowly, the events of the day slowly fighting their way through the disorientation that was clouding his mind. It wasn't until he heard Wormtail's trembling voice that everything began to snap into place.
"Bone of the ancestor, unknowingly taken, you shall renew your progeny."
Wormtail dropped a bone into the cauldron he was tending as Harry tried to get his bearings as quickly as possible. He and Cedric had grabbed the cup together at the end of the maze, and then it portkeyed them to a graveyard, where they were ambushed. Harry tried to free himself, but he was thoroughly tied to some sort of headstone. It seemed that for all his faults as a person, Wormtail was apparently quite skilled at knotwork.
"Flesh of the servant, willingly sacrificed, you shall revive your Master."
Harry winced as Wormtail cut off his entire left hand into the boiling mixture within the cauldron. On the other hand, his usage of the term "Master" removed any remaining doubts he had about Voldemort's involvement in this fiasco.
Pettigrew wiped the knife on his robes as he shakily stumbled over to where Harry had been bound. In a last-ditch effort to do something to prevent the oncoming catastrophe, Harry tried to reason with him.
"Wormtail… Pettigrew… Peter… Please. I know that you might think that you have to do this, but you don't. Please do the right thing."
"You couldn't possibly understand, Harry." The traitor said as he dragged the knife down Harry's forearm. "I do have to do this, for more reasons than you could possibly imagine."
He held a phial under the newly created wound and collected some of the blood that was trickling down Harry's arm. Once he'd collected enough to fill it halfway, he turned around and dumped the blood into the waiting cauldron.
"Blood of the enemy, forcibly taken, you shall resurrect your foe!"
The frothing mixture within turned a blinding white that lit up the entire graveyard for an instant before the cauldron exploded. For a brief second, Harry hoped that something had gone wrong, but that hope was dashed when he saw the pale, deformed figure hunched where the cauldron had once stood. Slowly, Voldemort stood up, hands roving over the newly formed body.
"How hideous." She said with audible disappointment.
Harry's brain froze for a moment. Whatever he expected Voldemort to do upon being resurrected, it wasn't to remark on the appearance — or lack thereof — of her new body.
Voldemort held up her hand and a pale wand shot out of Wormtail's robes into her waiting palm. From there, she began waving it across her body, altering her appearance through what Harry could only assume was some form of self-transfiguration.
It took several minutes, but in the end, Voldemort had transfigured her body to resemble what Harry imagined an older version of the sixteen-year-old Riddle he'd met in the Chamber would look like. The previously bald head now had wavy black hair going down just past her shoulder blades. Her skin was still pale, but lacked the unhealthy pallor it had held moments ago. Her face now had an actual nose rather than the pair of serpentine slits it had been formed with.
There were only a few differences Harry could spot between the newly transfigured Voldemort and the spectre he had fought in the Chamber. For one, Voldemort was slightly taller — because apparently Riddle wasn't done growing even at six feet. She lacked the visible youthfulness she'd had at sixteen, with just the hint of age visible. The final difference was the one thing that Voldemort hadn't changed at all when transfiguring herself. When she was younger, her eyes had been a dark brown, but now they had an unnatural redness to them.
Voldemort was apparently satisfied with her new form, though, so she nodded to herself and conjured a plain robe over her body. Her eyes locked with Harry's, and in that moment, he was certain that he was about to die in an incredibly painful and humiliating way.
"Harry Potter." She said slowly. "It has been some time. Three years have passed, and what years they were."
Oh God, she was gloating. If she was going to kill him, couldn't she just do the humane thing and put him out of his misery?
Voldemort stared at him for a moment longer, her expression neutral the whole time. "You know, if you'd not opposed me when I was trying to obtain the Stone at our last meeting, this would have been a lot less painstaking for me."
"I wasn't about to hand you the key to your resurrection!" Harry shouted with as much righteous fury as he could muster. He may have been moments away from dying, but he was at least going to keep as much of his dignity as he could manage before that happened.
Cedric groaned from where he was lying on the ground, prompting Voldemort to shoot another stunner at him. "And yet here I am, freshly reincarnated. Your opposition three years ago merely delayed the inevitable."
"Master, should you not summon the others?" Wormtail simpered. "Surely, they will have noticed the mark's return."
"There will be time for that in a moment. In the meantime, we need to take care of our… guests." She said, sparing a glance at him. "Give me your arm. I cannot have you bleeding out while you still remain useful to me."
He held up his bloody stump, upon which she grew a strange, silvery hand that moved as though it were real. "Oh, thank you, Master. Thank you-"
"Please don't start grovelling." She said as she turned her attention back to Harry. "I'll have to deal with enough of that from the other Death Eaters."
Wormtail nodded and did his best to assume a dignified pose, which was less than successful.
"You know, it was incredibly hard to get my hands on your blood." Voldemort continued. "I could have done it eventually, of course, but Barty came up with this absolutely splendid plan of entering you in the tournament. It was convoluted, but I don't think the man has ever come up with a good plan that wasn't. I'm not sure exactly what ritual your mother used that night I tried to kill you, but it was targeted specifically at me, designed to banish me from whatever form I assume. If not for the… precautions I'd taken, I would have been killed by that protection twice over." She held up her hand between them. "But by using your blood in my resurrection ritual, by getting your blood flowing through my veins, I have nullified that protection."
She pressed her finger into Harry's cheek, and his scar was overcome with horrible pressure, like his forehead was trying to split itself open. Harry was about to abandon his dignity and start screaming when the pain suddenly stopped. As his vision slowly came back into focus and his brain continued to reel from the pain, he saw that Voldemort's gaze was fixed on his forehead.
"You know," She said quietly, "Contrary to what you might believe, I have no desire to kill you — not anymore, at least. As far as I am concerned, the prophecy between us is already fulfilled."
Prophecy? There was a prophecy? Why was this the first he was hearing about it?
"After all, you did 'vanquish' me that Halloween night thirteen years ago. Don't misunderstand me — I could very easily kill you if I desired to. I just have no desire to do so."
The rage and fear and defiance all drain from Harry in an instant. Voldemort… didn't want him dead? She had tried to kill him as a baby, in his first year, his second year, then she had forced him to participate in a deadly tournament against his will, and now that she had him bound and helpless in front of her, she was just… giving up?
As if sensing his thoughts, she pointed her wand at him. Rather than torture him or kill him, though, she instead shot a healing spell at the still-bleeding gouge on his forearm. "If anything, I'd say I have a vested interest in keeping you alive. I do hate to see potential wasted, and you are nothing if not full of potential. It would be a shame to have to kill you."
Was… was that a compliment?
Harry was still reeling slightly from the pain he'd sustained in the maze followed by that in his scar. All of the revelations Voldemort had been foisting on him were making it hard for him to believe that this was real, that anything he'd experienced was real. "What… what do you want?" Harry croaked, his voice hoarse.
Voldemort's gaze turned calculating. "I don't suppose you would be interested in an apprenticeship? I have witnessed some of your skills personally, and heard of many more testaments to your ability from Barty and Peter. I was greatly impressed by your parents, and if what I've seen and heard is true, then you have greater potential than either of them did. Under my tutelage, you could become one of the greatest mages in the world."
"I'll never join you." Harry spat with as much vehemence as he could muster, which at the moment, wasn't much.
Voldemort raised an eyebrow, but kept her face otherwise neutral. "I'm not asking you to become a Death Eater — I'm asking you to become my apprentice. Surely you can understand what an honour it is for a witch as accomplished as myself to offer you such a position."
"I refuse." Harry said, the surrealness of the whole situation continuing to wear on him. How the hell was Voldemort able to keep herself so calm and stoic? "I won't join you, I won't work with you, and I sure as hell will never let you train me!"
Voldemort pursed her lips into a small frown. "Such a pity." She raised her wand at him and immobilised his body before cutting the ropes binding him to the headstone. "Well, I'm unlikely to be taking on many apprentices any time soon, so if you change your mind, the offer will remain open. In the meantime, I'll send you back to Hogwarts before they manage to track the portkey."
She turned her wand to Cedric and cast a pure white spell that Harry recognised as an obliviate.
"You get to keep your memories. I'd like you to be able to consider my offer of an apprenticeship, and almost no one will believe you about my return, anyways."
Harry found himself dropped on top of Cedric's body.
"And if you see Barty, tell him that he did a very good job and that I am awaiting his return."
The Triwizard cup was dropped on top of him, and the world began spinning as he left the graveyard far behind.
The portkey dumped Harry and Cedric near the award podium outside the quidditch pitch. A huge crowd was already gathered around the nearby medical tent, though that attention quickly shifted to them once their presence was noted. Harry felt like he was on the verge of hyperventilating when Dumbledore forced his way through the crowd and dispelled the immobilisation spell.
"She's back." Harry said, the words feeling distant and emotionless. "Voldemort's back."
Dumbledore immediately began asking questions, each of which Harry answered, his body feeling like it was moving on autopilot the whole time. Yes, she really had returned. No, she didn't hurt him. Yes, Pettigrew was there. No, he hadn't managed to escape. Yes, Voldemort let him go on her own. No, he didn't know why.
"The boy's clearly delusional, Dumbledore." Fudge said while gesturing wildly. "You can't honestly believe this trite story about she-who-must-not-be-named returning from the dead, can you?"
"I believe that it is a serious claim that must be investigated thoroughly." Dumbledore replied calmly. At that point, Moody came over and joined the debate, which continued in hushed tones that Harry couldn't make out. Eventually, Moody gestured towards Harry and whispered something in Dumbledore's ear. Dumbledore nodded, and Moody made his way over to Harry.
"Come on, son. We'd best get you to the hospital wing." He said, patting Harry on the back. "I'll escort you there."
Harry blinked a few times. "Isn't Madam Pomfrey in the medical tent, though?"
Moody nodded. "Aye, she is, but you're clearly having some sort of shock. Right now, the best thing we can do for you is get you away from the crowds, crowds which are currently swarming all over the medical tent. Understand?"
Harry nodded back. That did make sense. Just the idea of getting away from the crowds was already helping him feel better.
Once they were inside the halls of Hogwarts, Moody spoke up. "I don't want to push you, lad, but if Voldemort really has returned, then we need to know as many details as possible as soon as possible. You said that she didn't hurt you. Did she say why?"
He did his best to remember what Voldemort had said to him — it felt like it had taken place weeks ago instead of mere minutes. "She said that… the prophecy between us had been fulfilled. That she had no reason to want me dead anymore. Sir, did you know that there was a prophecy?"
"I did, aye, but I don't think anyone but Albus knows the whole thing. He played his cards very close to his chest at the end of the war, and not without good reason. There were spies everywhere, and one never really knew who could be trusted and who might be listening." Moody's artificial eye began rotating faster, as if spurred on by his thoughts of paranoia. "So what happened then?"
Harry shrugged. "She obliviated Cedric and then she just… sent us back. She said no one would believe me, so there was no point in erasing my memories."
"This plan was right clever of her." Moody explained. "It was a kidnapping disguised as an elaborate assassination attempt, with several months to slander your reputation in the eyes of the public. I don't suppose she gave you any clues on the identity of her inside man? Voldemort didn't have a body, and there's no way Pettigrew could have managed to get you entered in the tournament on his own — the man doesn't have the right skillset."
"She mentioned… Barty? She said that the whole plan was Barty's idea, and that I should tell him that he did a good job if I see him."
Moody paused for a second. "Bah! Figures that Crouch is at the heart of this. I have never met a man who adheres so strictly to the law while bending it so freely. He suddenly starts taking sick leave for the first time in his whole career, then he just pulls that vanishing act after showing up in the forest? No, that bastard's been up to something, and I'd wager that he's at the heart of this whole mess."
Moody stopped walking as they reached the hospital wing doors.
"Listen, Potter, I have some business to take care of back in my quarters, then I'll be performing a sweep of the grounds to make sure that we don't have any unwelcome intruders. I trust you can find your own bed — Dumbledore will probably want to speak with you shortly." With that, he hobbled away, leaving Harry alone in the corridor.
"This is nonsense and I won't hear of it!" Fudge shouted before storming out of the hospital wing. He all but hurled Harry's share of the winnings at his bed before slamming the doors shut behind him.
"Well that could have gone better." Dumbledore lamented. "I fear we'll have no help from Cornelius's front."
Sirius changed back into a human as soon as the doors shut. "I can't say I'm surprised, given how he treated Harry's proclamations of my innocence last year."
"I had hoped Cornelius would see reason, under the circumstances…" Dumbledore said softly.
"Cornelius and reason don't go together." Sirius replied. "It was a fool's errand to even try."
"It's a shame Voldemort had the sense to obliviate Cedric. He may have been unconscious for most of the ordeal, but we may have been able to glean something that could help us convince Cornelius."
Whatever debate would have followed that remark was cut off as the doors were opened again, and Sirius shifted back to his canine form.
"Honestly, the nerve of those people!" Mrs. Weasley said as she bustled into the hospital wing with her family in tow. "Those boys have been through an ordeal, and yet the press is hovering around them like vultures!" She made a move towards Harry when Pomfrey stepped in her way.
"The boy is in shock, Molly! I know you mean well, but for now, he just needs to rest." With that, Madame Pomfrey waved her wand, shutting the curtains around Harry's bed and blocking out the noise from the rest of the hospital wing.
So Harry was in shock, then? He supposed that wasn't too surprising. He felt like he was controlling someone else's body while experiencing everything through a filter. It was like the end of a fight, but moreso, when the adrenaline wore off and all of the energy just drained away. It was just… everything was overwhelming. He was exhausted from the maze and the tournament in general, and then he was kidnapped on top of that… Not to mention that Voldemort herself had been fundamentally baffling. She had been after him for his whole life, and now she just… didn't seem to care.
Harry thought back on his previous experiences with her. Back in his first year, she only ordered Quirrell to attack him after Harry refused to hand over the Stone. At the time, he honestly believed she was leading him on with her offer to work together, waiting to kill him at the first chance she got, but now…? She had held him at her absolute mercy, and she just let him go. This year, she was obviously involved in entering him into the tournament, but her plan was reliant on him winning the competition. He supposed it was technically a compliment that she was willing to bank her resurrection on him winning an international tournament against several of-age people.
The only time she had honestly tried to kill him was in the Chamber back in second year, and now that he considered it, that wasn't even technically Voldemort. It was some… adolescent version of her preserved in a diary, so it stood to reason that she never got the memo that her adult self didn't have a quarrel with Harry.
This was all too strange to deal with now. He'd have more time to think it over tomorrow.
It was late when the man approached the manor, so late that it had practically looped around to being early again. The light from the rising sun was just starting to peek over the horizon as the man trudged through the dew-covered grass and barged through the doors without knocking. He'd have plenty of time to deal with pleasantries later, but for now, he was tired. He'd had an exceptionally late night and an exceptionally busy year, and he was honestly ready to just sit down and rest for a while.
He'd normally feel worse about entering without knocking, but he really did not care for the manor's owner, and he honestly didn't think anyone would be awake to answer him anyways.
Therefore, it was much to his surprise that, upon entering the kitchen for a pre-bedtime snack, the sound of someone clearing their throat interrupted him.
"I'm glad to see you made it back, Barty. I trust your mission was successful?" She asked before shoving a chocolate covered strawberry into her mouth.
Barty Crouch Jr. gave a short bow. "My Lady."
"We're in private, Barty. There is no need for such formalities here." She said as she followed the strawberry with a devilled egg.
He nodded. "As you wish. It took hours to do, but I was able to obliviate all of Moody's memories of being locked in a trunk and replace them with my own memories from throughout the year. I successfully pinned the blame of 'Barty' being your inside man onto my deceased father. No one is any the wiser to the role I played in Hogwarts this year."
She nodded in response before her attention went back to a plate of assorted foods. "Very good — you played your part well this year. What of Harry Potter? Was he doing well when you left?"
Barty shrugged. "As well as can be expected. I think the boy was suffering from some sort of psychological shock, no doubt from the revelations you foisted upon him."
Voldemort finished eating a cracker covered in some kind of paté and leisurely licked her fingers clean. "It's hardly my fault that the boy was convinced that my being out to kill him was a fundamental facet of his life. I suppose I failed to make a good impression three years ago, but I was rather desperate at the time and he did get in my way. If anything, I'd say that I'm actively invested in his survival after tonight."
Barty raised an eyebrow. "Really? I mean, sure the boy has potential and all, but…"
Voldemort tilted her head back and dropped a piece of lox into her mouth. "But nothing, Barty." She said in between chews. "I have information that you do not. The boy declined the opportunity to be my apprentice, but I am sure I can manage to convince him with a little bit of persistence and creativity on my part."
"How do you plan to find him, though? I mean, many of the Death Eaters have been trying for years, and none of them have had any luck. Sure, you're far more skilled than the average Death Eater, but…"
She stuck her right arm out as her left arm shoved a small pastry into her mouth. "Blood of the enemy, forcibly taken."
"Oh… blood trackers…" He nodded in understanding. It wouldn't be exact, since her body was made by mixing several components from different sources, conjoined with her own magical signature, but it should be enough to pin down his general location in the country.
"Exactly." She said as she tore off a chunk of dried meat and began chewing on it, at which point Barty's curiosity finally won out.
"Voldemort… is there a reason why you are currently raiding Lucius's kitchen at four in the morning?"
She swallowed the chunk of meat and sighed. "I'm indulging in a bit of hedonism, if you must know. I spent over a decade as a wraith and the better part of a year in a homunculus body that subsisted solely on snake venom. Now that I have an actual, functional body, I am realising just how much I missed food. Besides which, Lucius keeps a very well-stocked pantry. It's half the reason I decided to come to Malfoy manor as opposed to using one of my own safehouses."
Barty chuckled. "Of all the seven deadly sins I expected you to partake in, gluttony was low on the list."
Voldemort rolled her eyes. "Please. We both know that if such a list truly existed, lust would be on the very bottom."
"Much to my dismay."
She pinched the bridge of her nose. "Barty, while my ego of course appreciates your interest in me, as your friend and mentor, I feel I should discourage you from attempting to pursue a relationship with a woman who is not only thirty five years your senior, but fundamentally disinterested in romance of any kind."
Barty stuck his hands in his pockets, doing his best to look cool in the face of certain rejection. "Let a man dream, Voldie."
She took a long sip from a fruity drink instead of giving him an immediate answer. Barty didn't dare get his hopes up, of course — there wasn't a chance she would say yes. When she finally set the glass back down on the counter, her exasperated tone was all the answer he needed.
"Ensure that they stay in your dreams, Barty, and I'll let it slide."
That's about what he expected her to say.
"Besides, even if I was interested in a relationship, which I can assure you that I never will be, then I would certainly not want to pursue it now. The form that the resurrection ritual gave me was… hideous. I'm only maintaining this appearance through extensive and repeated self-transfiguration."
"That's… got to be taxing." Barty commented.
"It is. I fear that I am not prepared for a full fight just yet, as I would be forced to choose between fighting at my full power and feeling comfortable in my own skin while doing so. Finding a way to induce a permanent change to my body should be a priority."
Barty nodded pensively. "Well, Rookwood might know something, being an unspeakable, but he's in Azkaban, which I'm assuming you'd rather not raid until this is all sorted out."
She nodded in confirmation.
"Well, the only other option I can think of would be to create a ritual that turns one into a metamorph, but ritual creation is a whole other type of mess…"
"I believe that our best course of action may be to obtain a Philosopher's Stone." She said, as if she didn't realise the absurdity of what she was saying.
"Voldemort…" Barty said slowly. "The Flamels are dead and their stone was destroyed."
She laughed at that. "Oh Barty, I know you're smarter than that. The Philosopher's Stone is able to permanently change one's form through the marvel of catalysed bioalchemy, and you honestly believe that the Flamels died rather than fake their own death and assume new identities? Besides which, even if they are dead, they're far from the only alchemists in the world. They aren't the only people who created a stone — they're just the only people who advertised that they did so. Most people are smart enough not to paint a target on their back by announcing that they have a device that grants eternal youth, eternal life, and eternal wealth, among other marvels."
That… made quite a lot of sense, actually. Barty kind of felt foolish for not considering it earlier. "So… what's the plan?"
Voldemort grinned that grin that she got exclusively when she was about to jump into an intensive study of magic. "We're going to learn alchemy, Barty."
A/N (Tendra): Yes, I am starting a new fic. Don't judge me. After publishing the last DftD chapter, I couldn't motivate myself to work on either of my other two fics, especially not when the idea for this one started developing. I have no idea how often I'll be working on this one, though.
This fic's basic premise is inspired by Limpieza de Sangre, in that it is a fem!Voldemort fic starting at the graveyard in which a sane Voldemort has decided that the prophecy is no longer a factor. Things will be wildly different from there, with the entire war presented as a much more morally grey thing in which all sides have their virtues and vices. I like the idea of fem!Voldemort a lot, and while f!TMR/HP is my OTP, this fic is devoted to exploring a solely mentor/student dynamic between the two.
Also… THIS IS NOT AN AU TO DEPARTURE FROM THE DIARY. It is its own fic with its own fem!Voldemort, who is very much a separate person from Tamelyn.
E/N (Xgenje): So I am beta reading this after suffering a Heat stroke. So if there are still any major typos/issues, I'm sorry.
E/N (Felix): I'm beta-reading after getting my brain fried from studying. Ditto.
E/N (Foadar): I keep drawing parallels to Star Wars, and I will do it again. Though I do not know if Harry himself will be drawn into darkness, I kinda hope he will be, as a tragic story development. Apprentice!Harry, I support thee :P The rest of the idea is solid, if in need of further development with more writing.