Harry yelled in frustration as the blankets were yanked away from his body and he was exposed to the cold.
"What-" the boy yawned, "What time is it?"
"Past the time you should be up, so let's go."
Voldemort shoved a set of robes into Harry's arms as the boy slowly pulled himself from the warmth of the bed.
"I have much to do today and I cannot spend hours waiting for you to awaken."
At that statement Harry's mind finally caught up and he looked towards the snake that had been lying beside him throughout the night. She looked to be sleeping as she lay unmoving, but still breathing. Her green scales lacked their usual healthy color.
"Do you think- HEY! STOP!" The boy was pulled from his reverie as he felt his shirt being pulled upwards. "Stop trying to undress me! I can do it myself!"
Voldemort dropped the hem of the thin t-shirt, "Well then hurry up!"
Harry unhappily took the small dark green robes and made his way to the bathroom to change- in private.
The Dark Lord was standing impatiently when the boy finally returned, his arms crossed and wand tapping against the skin of his arm. "Finally."
Harry ran after the man who was already out the door.
They ended up once more in the training room as they had most days. Voldemort had ordered Tibby the house elf not to leave his chambers and to alert him immediately if anything changed regarding the snake. At first the Dark Lord was going to postpone Harry's training so that the boy could stay with the snake, but after further consideration he chose to continue with their regular schedule. It would do Harry no good to stay in the room. Knowing him he would begin to blame himself once again for Nagini's condition, and a guilt-laden whining Harry Potter was the last thing The Dark Lord wanted to deal with.
"You really must learn to loosen your wrist Harry."
"Ugg, I'm trying!"
"I'm surprised you haven't broken your wand yet with how hard you hold it."
Harry sighed and rolled his eyes.
"Don't give me that look. That is one of your biggest issues, you are simply too tense! You need to relax, dueling needs to become second nature, it needs to be fluid."
"Well pardon me for not being fluid, oh smart one." Harry didn't even have to look to know a stinging hex was flying his way before he dodged it.
"I will say you are much quicker on your feet than when we began. A few stinging hexes have done you good."
"See? My sarcasm has come in handy."
"I wouldn't go that far."
"Hmph. So do you have a meeting today?"
"Yes, which is why we are here so early. My inner circle is meeting to discuss what we are to do about Dumbledore. Things need to happen much quicker than expected as I don't know how much time Nagini has left."
"Quicker? As in how much quicker?"
"A matter of days. I have requested Draco attend, for he is our best link inside Hogwarts. I need him and the others to be ready as soon as possible." Harry nodded his head. "You are welcome to join again if you would like."
"Yes, but I need you to understand something." Voldemort put his wand away and walked over to the boy, "I know you said you wanted to help stop Dumbledore. You understand what that means don't you?"
"I- what do you mean?"
"I mean, I want you to understand that if you are willing to help us defeat him then that means you're going to be working alongside my Death Eaters, doing and seeing things you probably won't agree with. It means you're going to be working for the Dark."
"I…" Harry hadn't thought about it that way. The first Death Eater meeting he attended had just been well, not for fun, but just for some bloody excitement. He had known he wouldn't have to actually be a part of anything that happened, but now… could he really work with the Dark? He had been neutral for so long, could he switch sides so easily? The idea of Light vs Dark and Good vs Evil had become so grey within the past few months. To him, nothing was good or bad, there was no Light and Dark, it was just Voldemort and Dumbledore. He could never condone the murders that the Dark had so easily committed over the years, but at the same time he so desperately wanted Dumbledore out of power. The Order seemed blind to his manipulations and tricks, but now that Harry was away from it all he could see what the man was doing. Sure, he was trying to stop a Dark Lord, but at what cost?
Things had changed so much for Harry within a few short months, and even he knew he was different. He was more mature, more intelligent and able to think for himself. Could he work with people who murdered for fun? If it meant fighting against Dumbledore could he do it? Harry chuckled lightly to himself, oh how things had changed. Never before would he have even considered helping Voldemort, but he knew so much of the Order and how they thought, how they planned. He really could be the piece that the Dark needed to succeed. He could bring down Dumbledore.
"I want to help. I don't care whose side I'm on, to me there are no sides."
"You told me you wanted to get away from the war, which was why you enjoyed being here."
Harry shrugged, "Things changed. I mean, it's still true, but the more I learn about Dumbledore the more I want him gone. Dead even." Harry surprised even himself with that last sentence. Could he ever wish someone dead? Guess he could now.
He wasn't the Harry Potter the Wizarding World knew him as, not anymore. He could feel that he was different. He refused to be The Boy Who Lived or their Savior any longer. He would get his revenge on Dumbledore, the man who never allowed him a choice, who pushed him into the spotlight, who never once told him the truth, who condemned him to die. He and Voldemort would both get their revenge on the man. Harry would do it for both himself and Voldemort.
"You're certain about this? You understand that you can say no." The Dark Lord asked, giving Harry every opportunity to back out.
Deep down Harry always knew what he would choose, for he had chosen it long ago. Denying The Order when they tried to rescue him, recognizing what Dumbledore had been doing for years, understanding where Voldemort was coming from, even if only slightly… it had been a slow process, but he knew where he stood. He stood with Voldemort and the Death Eaters in this fight.
He spoke up again, "But- but can you promise something? Or can I at least ask it?"
"I know it's not my place to ask this, but can you try not to hurt the Order? I mean, I know they're your enemies but…"
Voldemort wanted to roll his eyes. "They're your friends."
"Yeah. They took care of me. They're important to me."
"This is war Harry, I cannot guarantee that there will be no casualties."
The Dark Lord looked down at the frustrating boy and knew he couldn't give Harry what he was asking. "I'll consider it."
Harry's eyes lit up a bit, "Okay. Well then it's a deal, I'll help."
"I said I would consider it."
"Yeah I know, I know."
Shaking his head, Voldemort took Harry by the shoulder, turned him around, and shoved him forward, "Go, we have work to do."
He held back a smirk as he pushed the boy along. The greatest weapon in the Wizarding War was now fully his to command.
An hour and a half later they were walking into the grand room the last meeting had been held in. They reached the same large doors as before and once again Harry's insides tingled with the rush of Dark magic Voldemort emitted. He didn't feel quite so out of place this time, but he certainly still felt small and unwelcomed as he took the same seat as before. Voldemort wasted no time in beginning, both he and Harry were anxious to get things moving. Time was now of the essence.
Death Eaters clad in black once again stood as The Dark Lord took his seat.
"Sit." Some of his followers hesitated for a moment, unused to Voldemort not reveling in his power over them. "SIT!"
Harry smirked as the Death Eaters dropped into their seats almost comically.
Voldemort began, "Certain events have forced us to move with much more haste than previously anticipated. I am no longer going to be as lenient with you, I expect your current duties and the ones I am about to assign to be completed within four days. There is no time for failure, and anyone who does not perform will be executed immediately, I do not care who you are. Understood?"
Voldemort was extremely matter of fact in his orders as his followers nodded their heads or stammered out "Yes, My Lord". Some looked excited, their eyes dancing with the promise of action to come, others looked solemn, almost scared.
Harry sat in silence as he listened to Voldemort give the Death Eaters their individual duties. Most were going to be group leaders of the other less important followers that Harry had yet to see, others were being sent to give warning to allies such as the Dementors to prepare for battle. Harry's skin tingled with the thought of what was to come and he wasn't sure if it was out of excitement or terror. Maybe a little of both. He felt much like he had in the past when The Order would begin strategizing and the nervous excitement and energy filled the air.
"Lucius, you need to get Draco here by tonight."
"Tonight, My Lord?"
"I'm most certain you heard me, Lucius!"
"I- forgive me, My Lord. I apol-"
"Don't apologize, just do it! Get him here!"
"Yes, My Lord!" The corners of Harry's lips turned up as he desperately tried not to laugh. Oh how he loved watching the Death Eaters cower before Voldemort.
"Everyone out, now. Do as you are told and do it immediately. We have four days."
Not one Death Eater now looked eager. Each of their faces shined with terror as they hurried to disapparate. The Dark Lord was not happy.
"Sweet Merlin…" Voldemort muttered as he rubbed his temple.
"So uh… that went well." Harry yelped as a stinging hex hit him in the chest.
"I am not in the mood right now, boy."
Harry's eyes narrowed as he rolled his eyes. There was no rest for the weary as Voldemort stood to his feet, "Come Harry, you need to eat breakfast. You have work to do."
The boy jumped to his feet, "Work?"
"Of course. Certainly you didn't think you would get out of your own duties?"
"Well, I… I don't know. So what do I have to do?" he asked as they marched through the manor.
"You will be working with Draco to-"
"Must you yell?"
"Draco?! There is no way!"
Voldemort stopped in his tracks and spun around to look at the boy. "Excuse me?"
"I am not going to do anything with him! I refuse!"
The Dark Lord's eyes seemed to shine a brighter red as he grabbed Harry by the back of the neck and hauled him up the steps to their quarters. With a wave of his hand the door flew open and he threw the boy inside.
"I thought you said you were going to assist me?"
"I am! But not with him!"
"You will do exactly as I say, Harry Potter, just as the others must."
"But I'm not like them! I'm your horcrux for crying out loud! I'm different! Don't I get special privileges or something?"
If he wasn't so consistently dignified Voldemort would have let his jaw drop. He kept his anger in check as he stared at the boy. "You have been with The Order for far too long. The Boy Who Lived has no special privileges here."
Harry crossed his arms, "I didn't mean it like that."
"Well what exactly did you mean?"
"I just don't like Draco. Please don't make me help him."
"Every other time you have requested something from me Harry I have given it to you without exception."
"But this is different." Harry whined.
"I- I don't know it just is!"
"I assumed making sure you were clothed, fed, schooled, and taken care of were privileges enough, apparently I was incorrect."
Harry stopped talking, suddenly feeling the smallest bit guilty. Voldemort had taken care of him and really had given him everything he had asked for. "Please. I'll do anything else."
"No. And that's final."
Harry huffed and let his head drop to his chest in defeat. He could do this one thing for Voldemort, he could. He just didn't want to. "Fine."
"Good. If I hear one more complaint from you about anything I will lock you in this room again, do you understand? I've had enough."
"Yes." He grumbled.
Tibby brought Harry his breakfast, which he ate sitting on the bed next to an exhausted looking Nagini. Voldemort was at his desk pulling what looked to be maps out from the numerous drawers. Harry was curious, but didn't want to push his luck by interrupting the man and ask what he was doing.
Once Harry finished eating he asked, "So what do I have to do? I mean, what is Draco working on that's so important?"
Voldemort stopped writing and looked to the boy, "To make a tiresome story short, Draco has been working on repairing something that will gain us access into Hogwarts undetected, at least for a short while. You know as much about the school in its current state as he, which is why I have delegated you to assist him in moving things along quicker."
Harry had to keep from groaning in disapproval at the constant reminder that he had to work with a Malfoy. "So what is it? The thing he's fixing?"
"Have you ever heard of a vanishing cabinet?"
"Um, no? But I assume it's used to vanish things?"
Voldemort's face fell, "Your deduction astounds me, Harry Potter."
"Well am I wrong?!"
"Anyway, we have acquired a set of these cabinets. One is here in the manor and one is in the Room of Requirement at Hogwarts. Both were quite old and needed repairs, and Draco was the only one who could safely work on the one which is at the school."
"Is he even smart enough to do that?"
"Sorry." Not really, he thought.
I can still hear you you know.
"Would you stop!"
Ignoring the comment, Voldemort continued, "According to Draco the cabinet at Hogwarts is completed. I am bringing him here to finish the cabinet in the manor as he has already had experience in repairing the other. You will help him do this as quickly as possible."
The boy held back another sarcastic comment as Tibby popped into the room once more. "Master, Tibby was sent to tell you that Master Malfoy has returned!"
Voldemort looked to Harry, "You're finished eating?"
"Well let's go."
Harry gave Nagini one last gentle pat on the head before following The Dark Lord out the door. He took his time as he walked behind the man, lagging a bit as he dreaded being forced to interact with Draco.
They turned down a corridor Harry had never been to before and entered through a set of doors. Harry peeked around Voldemort and saw Lucius and Draco standing by a large dark wooden cabinet. As they neared, Harry saw just how decrepit the piece of furniture looked, Voldemort wasn't joking when he said it was 'old and needed repairs'.
"Lucius, you were very timely."
"Thank you, My Lord. Draco was more than willing to come when called." By the paleness of the younger Maloy's features Harry guessed that wasn't exactly the case.
"Draco, Harry will be assisting you in completion of the repairs. You said the other cabinet was finished, correct?"
"Yes, My Lord." He said quietly.
"Good. I need this task completely quickly, so instruct Harry on what to do and he will do it willingly, won't you Harry?"
The boy almost rolled his eyes but thought better of it, "Yes."
"Excellent. You have impressed me thus far Draco, do not disappoint. Lucius, come with me." With a flourish Voldemort turned and made his way to exit the room. That goes for you too, Harry. Be good.
The boy really did roll his eyes this time.
Draco and Harry were left in the room alone and immediately an awkward tense silence filled the air.
Not being able to control himself, Harry said, "You look like you're going to throw up every time he's around."
"It's true. Why are you so afraid of him?"
"I'm not afraid of him you twat."
"Looks that way to me. So how did you even get picked for this stupid job anyway?"
"The Dark Lord thought I was the best suited for the task."
Harry gave Draco a knowing look. "Your father volunteered you didn't he?"
"Shut up, Potter."
"You are pitiful you know that?"
"What about you? I thought you were The Dark Lord's little pet? Why have you been sent to help me?"
"I am not his pet!"
"That's not what it looks like." Draco countered with a smirk.
"I offered to help, I didn't know it would involve working with you though!"
"Whatever. We need to start this."
"Fine." Harry said as he looked to the cabinet. "How the bloody hell did you even know how to fix the other one?"
"I figured it out obviously."
"Well you didn't expect me to ask The Dark Lord for help did you?!"
"Well then stop asking stupid questions! There are books in the library at school about this stuff you dimwit."
Draco walked over to a black bag on the floor, "Cast Tergeo on it."
"What? What the hell does that do?"
"It cleans it off you moron! Just do it!"
Harry pulled his wand out and gripped it tightly, oh how he wanted to hex Draco into another lifetime. He turned to the cabinet and cast the cleaning charm as Draco pulled a large book from the bag and plopped it onto a table.
The next few hours involved much of the same- sarcastic biting comments were thrown back and forth and with each one the irritation and dislike between the two grew. The cabinet did look slightly better though, but it was slow moving between the arguments.
The two boys were shouting at one another when Voldemort reentered the room. He sighed and with a quick flick of his wand separated them, sending both flying backwards and falling to the floor.
"I certainly hope that is not what has occurred since I have been gone. Surely you two have not been fighting the entire time."
Harry jumped to his feet and almost launched into a tirade about Draco before stopping himself. Anything he said would only incriminate him as well, so he just stood silently fuming.
"No, My Lord. Of course not." Draco said submissively.
"Hm. I hope not. Harry, come with me. Draco, continue until your father comes to get you. You will be staying here in my manor until you finish. Be grateful that I am not forcing you to work through the night."
"Yes, My Lord. Thank you."
Harry shot the blonde boy one last glance before following The Dark Lord out of the room.
"Well I see that was a productive evening. You two did what exactly? It looked as though you simply got the dust off of a piece of furniture."
"Well that's about it since Malfoy wouldn't shut up the entire time."
"I told you before! He hates me and I hate him. It's that simple."
"Harry," Voldemort stopped and firmly grasped the boy's shoulders. "I need you to get over whatever issues you have with Draco and do this. Immediately. Do you understand why we have to rush?"
Harry felt like a little boy being chastised, "Because Nagini is probably going to die if we don't get to Dumbledore quickly..."
"Exactly. You need to get along with Draco long enough to fix that bloody cabinet so that nothing happens to her. I don't care how you do it, just get it done."
Harry was silent for a moment, "Well shite, now I feel guilty."
"Good. That was my intent. And watch your mouth."
END OF DAY ONE