"Why is Nagini with us today?" Harry said as he glanced over at the snake. They were in the training room once again.
"Because she is going to stay with you once I leave."
"I don't want to hear it, Harry Potter. Whatever complaints you have I don't want to hear them."
Harry gripped the wand at his side tightly in agitation. "I was fine the other day. Nothing bad happened."
"I understand this. But nonetheless I want her with you should anything happen."
"You do realize she hardly shuts up right? That she talks all day?"
"That she's a complete pest?"
"Annoying because she complains all the time? Is incredibly stubborn? Refuses to do as you say?"
"I know someone else like that as well…"
Harry's mouth fell in annoyance. "I am not stubborn."
"Sweet Circe, strike him down now because that is the biggest load of rubbish I have ever heard uttered."
"Just- just shut up… OW!"
"Watch yourself, it'll be more than a slight stinging hex the next time you tell me to 'shut up'."
"You know I miss the days when you were just a voice that haunted my bedroom."
"I didn't haunt your bedroom, I was not a ghost."
"Whatever." Harry mumbled.
"On that note I am leaving, I have heard enough from you for today. Nagini is staying whether you like it or not."
Harry crossed his arms as Voldemort walked over to Nagini and kneeled down, patting her fondly on the head. 'Nagini you're my favorite horcrux you know that?'
"Oh for Merlin's sake!" Harry threw his hands into the air, why was the man so childish at times?!
After Voldemort disapparated Harry did as he was instructed and set up for his practice. Slightly satisfied with Harry's ability to defend himself, Voldemort had moved onto offensive spells. Harry was honestly surprised Voldemort had yet to ask him to practice on a living person as it seemed to be something the man would readily do. So far the Dark Lord had behaved himself though, sticking to spells that seemed useful but not overly violent or gory. When Harry asked if this was what Voldemort had learned in his third year at Hogwarts the man had laughed as he apparently believed Hogwarts' curriculum to be childish and impractical. The memory of Voldemort's voice rang in his head, 'Do you honestly believe a spell involving tickling a wizard or making their legs dance uncontrollably is effective in battle?'
"Noceo Morsus", Harry repeated more confidently, finally getting the desired effect as he watched the practice dummy twist in pain. He had been practicing for only about an hour when he noticed the unfamiliar silence in the room. His eyes scanned the floor until he saw the large creature.
'Nagini, are you asleep?'
It was a few seconds before a tired answer came, 'No, snakeling.'
Harry looked confused for a moment, unused to the snake's lack of interest. 'Nagini? Are you ok?'
'Okay…' the boy eyed the snake for a few more moments before turning and resuming his practice. Something felt off as he went through the next few spells, his concentration gone. It wasn't like Nagini to act so sluggish. Sure, she took more naps throughout the day than Harry had ever seen, but something was different, something wasn't quite right. He turned and walked over to the snake.
As he neared Nagini he noticed the usually dark forest green of her scales was paler, almost as if the color were vanishing little by little. Had she looked like this last night? Was that really the last time Harry had paid attention to her? She had been awfully quiet…
He kneeled down to the floor. 'Nagini?'
'Nagini are you okay?'
'Nagini doesn't feel well.'
Harry breathed a sigh of relief, she was sick, nothing more. Nothing to panic about.
'Oh, um, can I get you something? I can call Tibby in if you want?'
'No, it's ok.'
Harry stood. She said she just didn't feel well, maybe snakes lost their coloring when they were sick. Didn't humans become pale when ill? Maybe it was the same with snakes.
'Ok well, let me know if you feel worse okay?'
Nagini simply nodded her head before slowly placing it back upon the floor. Harry couldn't deny that she looked weak.
Harry went back to casting, sneaking peeks over towards the snake every few minutes. There was a part of him deep down that knew something was wrong, that he should get help.
It wasn't until an hour later that Harry stopped once more. His chest had begun to hurt, almost burn. He rubbed at his torso as he tried to ease the slight pain. It had been hours since he had eaten breakfast and he had yet to have lunch, so it couldn't have been something he ate not settling well. Strange coughing interrupted his thoughts and he spun around in time to see Nagini become ill across the hardwood flooring. Her long body was wracked with spasms.
'Nagini!' he shouted as he ran to her.
The tremors weren't slowing… strange noises echoed from the snake's mouth.
'What's wrong?! What's happening?'
Harry kneeled down on the floor, afraid to touch the snake in fear of hurting her even more. He felt adrenaline fill his veins, why was she acting like this?! What was happening?
'Nagini, please…' He begged, not entirely sure what he was asking for.
'What? I'm here, what is it?' But that was all she said.
'Ok, don't worry. I'm going to call Voldemort. Don't worry!' Harry stood to his feet and looked frantically around, the pain in his chest still present. How was he supposed to get in contact with Voldemort? He couldn't just run through the manor- it was huge, it would take him forever, and he didn't know if the man was even here. Oh shit.
Harry remembered what it was like, remembered how Voldemort had communicated to him through his mind, how he could read Harry's thoughts.
Voldemort? He thought and then waited for an answer.
Voldemort! He tried harder, thinking louder and feeling quite stupid for doing so.
You don't have to scream, little one. I can hear you.
Oh thank Merlin!
Suddenly Voldemort's voice was serious, more intense. He could feel Harry's panic through their connection. Harry, what's wrong?
Something is happening with Nagini.
What do you mean?
I don't know! Something bad is happening! Please come back!
Is she okay?
Voldemort I don't know! I don't know what to do! Just come back!
Alright, I'm coming now. Just wait.
Thirty seconds must have passed, but it felt like an hour to Harry. He was standing over Nagini, thankful that her fits had stopped, when he heard a pop behind him. He hardly had a chance to turn before Voldemort was beside him.
The man kneeled down, "What happened?"
"I don't know, I was just practicing and she said she didn't feel well and so I kept going, but suddenly she was coughing or something and got sick. She was twisting like she was having a seizure."
"How long did it last?" Voldemort said from his place on the floor, kneeled beside his horcrux.
"A long time, I don't know really…"
Voldemort looked at his sickly snake who was silent as she rested on the floor, the occasional slight tremor coursing through her.
"Was she that pale last night?" Harry asked, rubbing absentmindedly at his ribcage.
"No. She was fine, maybe a little quiet."
"She hasn't spoken almost all day, she said she felt sick."
Voldemort's long fingers moved across the back of his own neck, he looked stressed.
A few moments passed before Harry asked quietly, "What's wrong with her?"
"I think it's Dumbledore."
Voldemort stood, "Dumbledore must have found another of my horcruxes. I think he's using the connection to get to and weaken her- to weaken me."
Suddenly Harry felt a lump forming in his throat, "I should have gotten help sooner. I wasn't sure if I should get someone, I didn't know what to do I'm so sorry I really didn't know what to do. Merlin I'm so stupid I should have-"
"Harry shush…" Voldemort's hand was on the boy's shoulder.
"I'm so sorry."
"Enough." The grip on his shoulder tightened, no longer comforting, and Harry went quiet. He wanted to ask a million questions- what was going to happen, what were they going to do, was Nagini going to die?
The Dark Lord pointed his wand at the snake and began speaking in Latin. A blue haze circled Nagini and wrapped around her not unlike a much smaller snake. Harry couldn't understand a word of what the man was saying, but assumed it was some sort of healing spell or maybe even a way to identify what was wrong with the snake. After a few moments, Voldemort silenced. Harry looked to the man and could tell whatever he had just done had not worked.
The Dark Lord crouched down and lifted Nagini, wrapping her long pale body around his shoulders.
"Grab on" he said shortly to Harry, who quickly took hold of Voldemort's arm as they prepared to apparate away.