The Riddle House
Welcome to the epic start of half way through the series! Here we go guys!
Harry and Lily were the only ones to wake at the normal time the next morning. In fact they were the only ones awake all day. Both stayed quiet and in the kitchen, chatting about everything and nothing. Harry was particularly interested in asking his mother about her cases she’d had at work, trying to avoid as much talk of school as possible. Though he longed for as much detail of their time at Hogwarts, he now realized he may have gotten all the information he was going to get for a time as memories of that place would be particularly painful for everyone now.
Harry still couldn’t help but edge in at one point “so, what did they do about days like this back in school?”
Lily kept her eyes focused on her infant, trying to ignore the frown line this brought up but she knew she was the best person to answer, as none of the boys could have gotten this out properly. “Remus normally slept through the day hidden in the hospital wing, the other three often went around making jokes that he was just skiving class. They put some numbing charms and the like to hide the worst of their injuries.”
Harry was frowning in thoughtful concern, trying to picture what he’d seen of them last night actually pushing through a whole day of classes, and his respect for them grew tenfold. Thankfully it wasn’t a problem today, and Harry could tell how much it was bothering his mum to talk about. He put it all down to moments when he was sure she was remembering the rat making a crack or two that she’d just brushed off at the time, to her old friend Severus trying to make something more of it and her ignoring that to, and how now she was the one making defenses for him while she’d rather never see those two again.
Then there were other things, a topic that couldn’t be avoided but they both knew would be brought up, at least by Sirius, so Harry voiced the concern now “are you guys going to try and convince him to come back over again?” He knew for a fact he did not want that confrontation to happen, let alone somehow be a part of it when he knew he would somehow step in and protect someone, though he had no ideas of who anymore. Would he still try and protect Pettigrew? He doubted this, as he no longer held the key to Sirius’ freedom in this timeline. Would he still be okay with watching his dad and Uncles become murders though? That he had no answer to.
Lily saved him by saying “no,” with absolute force, clearly leaving no room for discussion even as she explained “it’s too dangerous. Clearly we can’t leave here for a reason, at least until these books are done. If nothing’s changed and we still can’t leave after that, then we’ll concern ourselves with it, but for now it’s too dangerous. Merlin knows what could have happened if we had convinced, that rat, to stay and read with us, something might have gone very wrong adding someone into the group when clearly there’s something going on around us. I’ll tell Sirius and anyone else it is not worth the danger.” Then she finished in much softer tones “besides, he’s hardly come around so much lately, it would probably take Merlin himself to get him to come back over.”
Over a dozen times Lily had to squash down the urge to go and wake her boys, to at least get some food in them while they slept, but instead she only occasionally peaked in on each of them, repeated a few of the healing charms she knew and left them to sleep the day away.
The first thing James found the next morning was Sirius and Harry sitting on the couch, laughing about something. Pressing down on the vile green urge that was trying to come back up, he made to go back up the stairs and pretend like he hadn’t noticed, trying to give them some space and bonding time he knew Harry would want now, when Harry caught sight of him and said “Hey Dad, come here and look at this.”
Forcing a smile onto his face, he came over and ignored the fact that Sirius was giving him an odd look to glance over and see what Harry was looking at, and burst into real laughter at finding them holding a photo album he and Lily had been making recently.
“What are you doing with this?” He snickered, lunging over the sofa and landing with a whump on Harry’s other side, offering his hand out for it.
“I wanted to show it to him” Sirius said like that was obvious, now smiling lightly as well when he realized whatever had been bothering James had clearly passed for now. “Thought it would be worth a laugh for him.”
James began flicking back through the pages they’d already passed stopping at a few and laughing in remembrance of when they’d been taken. There was the one of the first night Harry had been brought home, Lily being so exhausted in the photo she was constantly yawning, but the glowing smile so bright it dimmed the rest of the background. There was the day James brought Hickory home as an anniversary gift for Lily, and the very first thing the cat did was walk up to two week old Harry and curl around him to fall asleep.
Harry recognized quite a few from his own Hagrid had gifted him, and couldn’t help but wonder if they were in fact the exact same photos. Could this have possibly survived whatever had happened to his parents on that Halloween, had Remus somehow fallen into possession of this and he’d been the one to send some of these pictures to Harry? Hagrid had mentioned some of his parent’s old school friends had supplied the photos, it made sense at least. He found even more photos from his parents wedding then the one from his, plus a few others of what were probably his parents first, like them standing in the empty living room when they’d first gotten this house.
There were some that were even older, scattered around before Harry was born of James, Sirius, and Remus all doing random things such as Sirius’ last birthday, and the cake that had exploded onto the ceiling, leaving all of them with icing in their hair. Remus, with a hairbrush where his nose should have been, done in retaliation by Sirius for who knew what at the time. James a week before his wedding acting like a loon and bouncing around every inch of the frame, his constant worries about everything that was going to go wrong long since forgotten. The rat was conspicuously lacking, and there were some empty spots where a few pictures had clearly been removed, and James couldn’t help but wonder if Lily had spent the day they’d all been resting to pull them out. He supposed that’s how Harry and Sirius had come across it.
They spent the rest of the morning going over every picture, Harry still able to come up with endless questions for the both of them about every second the pictures were reenacting, until finally Remus and Lily arrived as well. Sadly they ran out of pictures about that same time. Remus had the baby playing happily in his arms and curled up into the recliner with him, leaving Lily to lounge out on the other sofa by herself for now. All three of the boys still looked terrible, James still had a vivid black eye and kept wincing whenever he shifted around too much and Sirius wasn’t twitching as much as he normally did, leaning a little more heavily than was usual into the couch to keep himself upright. Remus still somehow looked the worst, an unnatural white with vivid dark circles under his eyes and he was moving the least of all, though that’s probably why he wanted the baby, to help him remain as still as possible.
Silence rung in the room, Harry got the feeling they were trying to avoid talking about something and he had a very good idea of what. They decided they’d waited long enough anyways, and Lily went to fetch the largest book of the stack stamped with a 4, a worry line already creasing into her as she asked “Merlin Harry, what happened this year, it’s thick as a tomb.”
Harry just gave her an exasperated look, she knew he wouldn’t be able to answer. At any rate she wasn’t even that worried, maybe this year would finally be filled with happy and memorable times, with actually more than one chapter in a row where she didn’t get sick from stress. As she rummaged for the first page, she at least comforted herself nothing could be as bad as last year.
Narrative starts by speaking of the villagers in Little Hangleton, who all refer to it as ‘the Riddle House,’
“Riddle?” Sirius frowned, what an odd way to start. “Wasn’t that Voldemort’s real last name?”
“Pretty sure, yeah” James grumbled, he wasn’t likely to forget that Chamber any time soon.
Lily was already getting a tingling feeling up her spine, asking “okay, but so what? Where’s Little Hangleton, and what’s this have to do with Harry?”
“Maybe it’s like those odd moments in the first book,” Remus offered, “and this book’s going to show us some things that aren’t from Harry’s point of view.” After all, Harry wasn’t likely on vacation anywhere, nor did he see a place like Private Drives occupants being referred to as villagers.
“Does it have to start with information about Voldemort though?” Harry sighed with distaste, completely with his mother on this one in hoping this wouldn’t amount to anything, and already getting an insistent feeling trying to tell him otherwise.
even though the Riddles hadn’t occupied the house for many years. It sat on a hill above the local village, dilapidated and forgotten.
“So one of those places where you wonder why it hasn’t just been torn down at some point,” Sirius muttered with disinterest. He wanted to hear about Harry, not Voldemort’s childhood home or some nonsense. He really didn’t like this was how Harry’s next year was getting started.
It had taken a hard fall from grace with its years of emptiness,
“Great, so no more of his bloodline is hanging around, good to know,” Remus huffed.
leading most of the locals to refer to the place as haunted. This came about because of what happened fifty years ago, something the villagers still enjoyed discussing when there was nothing else to do.
Lily still couldn’t get rid of this nasty little feeling, like she really didn’t want to know about what these people gossiped around in relation to anything to do with Voldemort’s namesake, but she’d never gotten a say with these books before of what she was reading.
Like most stories it had been exaggerated and skewed over time,
“Sounds about right of any tale,” James agreed, his own time at Hogwarts giving him plenty of experience with how wild a tale could spin, though it also caused a more terrible wince in his memory then any physical injury could do to him at one person who was entangled in every single one of those moments.
though everyone agreed on the beginning. On the day the Riddle House ended, it all started with the maid of the house running into the local pub to announce the family dead.
“Huh,” they all muttered, finally feeling a small spike of curiosity. Sure they didn’t really want to know anything about Voldemort except possibly where his self-destruct button was, but they also couldn’t help the vaguest of interests starting up at what could have possibly caused this nut job to turn into the way he was.
Screaming about how they’d all been found with their eyes wide open and still dressed for dinner, but each without a pulse.
“Wow,” Sirius couldn’t help the curiosity in his voice now. “Wonder what did them in?”
Lily felt he was actually showing too much interest now, it was still gross, but didn’t rebuke him either, she couldn’t deny her own shared feeling.
The authorities arrived, and while the bodies were taken away no one bothered with sorrows, as the Riddles weren’t well liked.
“Why am I not surprised?” Remus scoffed, “apparently the whole line was rubbish?”
Lily still couldn’t help but think that was kind of sad, not one person mourned the passing of an entire family? But they were possibly the parents or in some way connected to Voldemort, so she couldn’t muster up much herself either.
The narrative going on to say how unlikable the two parents were, and their boy Tom being worse.
“Oh, wait,” James said, ruffling up his brow as he struggled to remember details back from that chamber. “Is this Voldemort’s Dad and grandparents? He did say he was named after his father, unless you just said Voldemort was dead, in which chase I am okay with this.”
“I doubt we’re that lucky,” Sirius sighed dramatically, “and it’s likely the first.” He knew James had been kidding anyways, the timelines didn’t match up for this to be the description of the death of the Dark Lord, but it was still nice to think about.
“But this could be what started Voldemort on being, well Voldemort.” Lily was frowning as she thought this over, “Over half a century ago, that’s before Voldemort took over. Maybe the death of his family caused him to be the way he is.”
“The way he went on about his own dad being a muggle?” Remus reminded, “Honestly I wouldn’t be surprised if he did this himself.”
Harry only got the briefest flash of something, like he wanted to agree with Remus, before Sirius laughed it off.
“Gee thanks Moony.” Sirius shuddered, “I really wanted to think about Voldemort doing his own parents in, though,” he added on curiously, “guess I can’t say I haven’t envisioned doing it myself.” There was no real enthusiasm to his joke, after the last book, even knowing he hadn’t committed all those murders, he just couldn’t find the same sense of humor about killing anyone else. He still did it out of obligation, he’d never missed a chance to ridicule and show off how much he hated his namesakes, it was just a shock to the others to hear such a different tone while speaking of it.
What the villagers couldn’t stop talking about was who had committed the murder, for obviously all three wouldn’t have died like that otherwise.
“Though it most likely does seem magical at this point,” Lily muttered to herself, as she quite agreed, it would be odd for this to be explained otherwise.
Names were tossed around until one woman entered with a real answer, the family cook, who had been down at the police station and came back to announce the arrest of Frank Bryce.
Harry felt something twitch inside of him at this name being mentioned, though he had no real connection to it. If it wasn’t someone he should care about, then why did he feel sorry for him? Why would he feel anything for a name he was positive he probably had never even met?
He was the Riddle’s gardener, a war veteran who lived on the property and was well known for not liking to be around others.
“And that just automatically makes you a murderer now does it?” Remus grumbled, he didn’t particularly like going over to stranger’s houses either.
One nameless woman tried to defend the old man, saying he just wanted his privacy, but then the cook pointed out how everyone knew he kept a key to the main house in his own home.
“How would she know that?” James demanded. “If she’s never been over like it’s implied, how would anyone but the Riddle’s know that?”
“It was said he was arrested,” Sirius shrugged, “maybe this cook overheard the police saying that while it was happening.”
The police had told how the house was not broken into, it would have been easy for Frank to have done this.
“Does he have a motive?” Lily frowned. “Sounds to me like he just wants to be left alone, I can’t see why he would go doing this, as I highly doubt this wealthy family would even leave anything to their gardener, plus he’d also be out of a job.”
“Well let’s see if the police scrounge up something,” Remus offered.
This seemed to turn the mood of most other people, as many agreed that war had turned him funny.
“War turns a lot of people funny," James muttered bitterly, thinking that no one should have a right to judge those who hadn’t actually been in one. He’d seen what war had done to one of his best friends, changed him into a radically different person, and he didn’t appreciate any little reminder.
They continued exchanging stories about Frank, and by morning there wasn’t a doubt in anyone’s mind the police had got their man.
They all sighed heavily, already having lived through one book of a wrongly convicted person. They didn’t even know this man, but it wasn’t any friendlier of a reminder that it could be happening all over again to some random stranger.
But over in the neighboring town of Great Hangleton,
“Original,” Sirius snorted.
the police were having trouble coming to the same conclusion. Frank was denying any such claim, saying the only person he’d seen around the house that night was some dark haired boy, who nobody else had caught sight of, leading the cops to think he was just making that up.
“Maybe not,” James muttered, thinking back to Voldemort’s more human description, and that wasn’t a bad likeness.
Before a conviction could be had though, the medical reports came in, and not a thing could be found wrong with the bodies. They hadn’t been strangled, poisoned, suffocated, or by any means hurt, except for the fact that they were dead.
“Oh yes, just that tiny little detail,” Remus rolled his eyes, not really able to find it as funny as he once might have.
There was a note at the bottom, the only thing to explain away these deaths, they’d all been found with looks of fear on their faces. That wasn’t the answer anyone wanted though, because who’d ever actually died of fright?
“I’m sure if they took a look at Voldemort’s face they would have,” Harry sighed, wondering why he’d said that at all. Had Voldemort been the person to kill his own family? He only got a sharp poke from his memories for trying to remember.
Without proof, Frank was released, and he returned to his simple life and continued his tending of the manner gardens, to no one’s pleasure. All of the villagers were in agreement he should leave town, since everyone knew he was the man who’d done it.
They all had a bite of distaste in their mouth, beyond displeased at this continued topic, perhaps taking it to personally due to what they’d recently learned would happen to Sirius, but not finding it any less foul happening to someone else.
Frank did not move away though, and instead continued his job even as the house changed ownership. The new occupant did not move in, but the man who’d purchased it had claimed tax reasons, though no one was clear what that meant.
Lily actually looked like she was going to interrupt herself and explain, but James cut her off, “let it go Lily, they’re not here to explain it to, and not even I wanted to ask.”
The wealthy owner continued to pay Frank to do the gardening however.
“Well that’s, nice,” Remus said, unable to help breaking off at the end uncertainly. He still had no idea what any of this had to do with Harry, what was the point of this book showing all of this, and not even through Harry’s point of view?
Frank was about to hit his seventy-seventh birthday by this point, his damaged leg paining him more than ever in his old age, though this never stopped him from tending to his beloved plants.
Lily couldn’t suppress a happy smile though. She dearly wanted a garden, and she suddenly found herself very fond of Frank for even in his old age sticking to something that he clearly loved.
Weeds weren’t his biggest problem though, but the children of the locals. The boys were well known for chucking rocks and further breaking apart windows,
James made a little scoff. He had no problems with giving cranky elders some fun in their life, but vandalizing was never one thing he did intentionally.
on their bikes as they tore through the grassy lawn.
Making Lily give a heated scowl of outrage, finding these some pretty despicable kids for tormenting this old man’s hard work.
A few times they would even break into the house on a dare, finding great amusement when they saw the elder man come hobbling towards them, screaming with his cane about how they were wrecking the property.
Sirius, couldn’t say anything. He could make no claims whatsoever that he wouldn’t be right along with those kids, this town sounded boring to him and seeing how far they could push this guy sounded like the only source of amusement some rowdy boys could get up to. So long as they didn’t do anything too crazy like actually burn the place down.
Frank knew why they did it, because the parents had told these boys of how Frank was the supposed murderer.
“I’m pretty sure they’d be at it no matter what their parents or anyone said,” Remus said with an eye roll, most boys in the age he was thinking wouldn’t listen to Merlin himself if he told them to stop.
So when Frank awoke one night in August and saw a small flickering fire in one of the windows, he first assumed it was those kids again.
Harry was getting a very hair raising feeling, instincts going haywire as he wanted to blurt out a warning to this old man, that he was way off the mark on that one and he should just go back up to bed. The problem, he knew, was that if he even started to try he’d receive a very sharp pain for his troubles, and considering how much his family freaked out whenever that happened he couldn’t bring himself to dig into the feeling despite how much he felt he should.
Frank did not own a phone, and he wouldn’t have called the police if he did, having a deep mistrust for the police since they’d arrested him.
“Can’t honestly blame him,” Lily sighed with a deep shake of her head, wanting to give those kids a good telling off for this. Not that she’d admit she probably would have been one of the first to go in that place on a dare.
Frank began shuffling around his house, getting dressed to head up there, and taking his key as he left. He circled the place first, but found the front door nor any of the windows showed sign of forced entry.
That wasn’t so odd though, even the two purebloods knew how to jimmy a lock so that it didn’t look forced the Muggle way, or possibly the kids had gone in through one of the broken windows previously mentioned. This all seemed perfectly harmless and meaningless to Harry, that’s what all four of them kept telling themselves, and yet they were starting to get a prickling feeling. One glance at Harry and they could see he was struggling, his face clearly showing that he was trying his hardest to repress a memory, and if his rubbing at his temple was any indication by now, they knew it was going to be a bad one.
Frank went around back instead and let himself in. Though it had been many years since he’d come in here, he still had no problems from memory navigating his way to the stairs, thankful for the thick layer of dust everywhere as it muffled his feet and cane.
“I can see the fun of trying to sneak up on them” Sirius nodded, trying to put some mischief into his voice, trying to force the lighthearted tone he so craved from just one stinking chapter, but it sounded false even to his ears.
Once on the top floor, it was easy to spot the occupied room, there was only one door cracked open with the lights flickering out.
Remus couldn’t help but picture this place like the Shrieking Shack, and the comparison wasn’t making him feel any better considering the last time any mention of Harry had been in there, and now he was having to fight back a combination of vile and hatred all over again and it was in no way reassuring to what was going on now.
Frank made his way to the door in time to hear a man’s voice, low and scared whisper that there was still some drink left in the bottle for his Lord.
Lily couldn’t help finishing that with a little rasping noise, like she wanted to scream and gasp all at the same time but the two strangled themselves off because this just couldn’t be happening! Not to her son, not again! There was only one person who could be referred to as My Lord, and despite how much she so desperately wanted it to not be true she couldn’t come up with any other alternatives. She’d had a bad feeling since the first line of the book with Voldemort’s namesake, now here he was in the house! Where was Harry? That one question just kept flitting across her mind now with more force than ever before, because she really wanted to hear that this was taking place on a different continent then near her son.
She came back to herself to find James with his arm wrapped tight around her, he’d clearly hopped seats and was now muttering reassurances in her ear that at least this was like that beginning of the first book, Harry really wasn’t there now around that monster.
The shock still hadn’t completely worn off when Remus blurted out “who’s talking to him? Is it like another Quirrell thing, because otherwise I really don’t see how an answers coming.”
“You just have this magical ability to ask exactly the wrong questions” Sirius scowled at him, he didn’t want to be thinking of things like that. He wanted to hear the possibilities of who else it could be! He’d only gotten one year of reprieve of fearing a Voldemort come back so far and that had been the worst one of all for him!
Remus didn’t look very repentant, his mind was scattering in too many different directions at once trying to understand this. At least he wasn’t asking anymore what this had to do with Harry, he had a very nasty feeling why they were learning this in comparison with his cub’s life now.
No one answered him though, because no one had any answers. They had no idea how Voldemort even still existed! They weren’t even sure why he’d disappeared the night James and Lily had died, what could have happened to turn him into the vapor like creature that had been able to share a body with Quirrell. Voldemort no longer resembled anything they could wrap their mind around, so any questions regarding him couldn’t even be speculated he dwelled so far outside the realm of their knowledge.
Lily did not look happy about it, but when the silence continued to drag on she realized she was expected to keep going no matter how much she’d rather do anything else. At least now she had her husband at her hip for some reassurance that everything was going to be okay.
The voice that responded was like pure ice, declaring he would finish it later, and even as he spoke it made the hairs on Frank stand on end.
Sirius couldn’t help a shudder of disgust, recognizing this was most likely what Voldemort’s voice sounded like now, and getting a creeping chill up his spine at the thought.
Then that same voice requested he be moved closer to the fire, referring to the first man as Wormtail.
The old nickname of one of the people she would have claimed as a dear friend up until a few days ago slipped out of her mouth almost without realizing what she’d said. Once she did register that the rest of the boys in the room had tensed up and she recognized why, she couldn’t decide what surprised her more; that he’d really gone back to Voldemort, or that he was even still alive and had escaped the combined might of Sirius, Remus, and Dumbledore. Really though, it shouldn’t have come out as such a surprise, she really should have realized it would lead to this. That rat really didn’t have anywhere else to go back but to Voldemort’s side, but she hadn’t expected it to come up so soon. What she did happen to linger on in confusion is why Voldemort would use that childhood nickname? Clearly the rat had told Voldemort everything, but why would Voldemort call him that? Had the rat even requested it? It was such an odd detail she almost didn’t take notice of what the others were doing.
What Sirius proceeded to call him would have made anyone with the foulest of mouths do a double take, not that anyone in this room could blame him. His rage and anger at being denied his revenge on that treasonous worst excuse for an Order Member he’d ever met left him a broiling mess at even the slightest hint of his being mentioned. Now Lily had just said that he was the one catering to Voldemort himself! That putrid little rat was actually helping him, being his right hand and, and he couldn’t even think straight he was cursing so much in his mind as well!
James had no qualms about agreeing with every word, but it didn’t change what he was really feeling, which was hurt. Why couldn’t he be hearing about Sirius and Remus hunting this soulless critter down? Why couldn’t he go on hearing about Harry having a good time with his friends over the summer? Why was it at every turn of the page he felt something else being ripped from him and it just kept leaving him emptier the longer this dragged on?
Remus still couldn’t help but wince in shame at the mere mention of that name. Yes his family had convinced him that it wasn’t entirely his fault, that the little backstabber’s actions belonged only to him, but Remus still replayed those nights’ events over and over and he still wanted to strangle the life out of himself for being a hand in his escape. He should have been paying for his crimes in Azkaban by now, for what he’d done to Sirius, James, Harry, and Lily and most likely Remus himself if given the barest of a chance.
Harry recognized hearing this name would still be a terrible blow to everyone in here, it really didn’t make him feel much better at the resurfacing reminder that this name was the reason he was interacting with his parents for the first time. This wasn’t going to go away though, not for some time, his gut was confident of that. So though he’d rather not, he managed to catch his mom’s eye and silently asked her to keep going, knowing this wasn’t something to get better with time so hoping moving past it for now would still be a better option.
There was the sound of a chair being dragged across the floor, and once that had stopped Frank could hear that icy voice speak up again asking where Nagini was.
Sirius couldn’t help it, he heard an unfamiliar female name and he automatically wanted to make a crack about someone getting a new girlfriend, but he restrained himself by only adding in a few more phrases of malcontent.
Wormtail responded by saying she’d gone to explore the house, and the second voice instructed when she returned she was to be milked again.
Milk her? Well this clearly wasn’t a person then. Were these two really dragging a cow around with them in this old abandoned house? As unlikely as that seemed, this one random mental image finally gave the lot of them something funny to focus on, even if it was for the shortest amount of time.
Going on to say how he would need the feeding again, the journey to this place had worn him.
“Wish it had just killed you” Sirius muttered, still intermittent with words he never would have dreamed of using if the baby could understand what he was saying.
Frank continued listening all the harder as Wormtail asked how long they would be at this place, and he was answered with at least until the Quidditch World Cup was over.
James couldn’t help but frown, feeling fidgety all over again as his favorite sport was mentioned during such a trying time and he wanted to feel happy just at the mention of it but also still wanted to curse something into smithereens the longer this conversation dragged on.
Frank began trying to clean out his ear in confusion, as he was sure he’d just heard the word Quidditch, which wasn’t actually a word at all.
“Ah the innocent” Remus forced an amused look he didn’t really feel.
Wormtail began asking about this, saying he didn’t understand,
“Of that we can agree on, as I doubt you understand anything” Lily snarled under her breath.
why they had to wait. The cold voice returned that it was to unsafe to continue moving around, the Ministry of Magic was on high alert and he didn’t want to catch the attention of the Muggles either.
“I don’t want to know, I do not want to know” Lily moaned, glaring down at the print and unbelievably wanting this book to be over already even though she’d just started. It was just so tiring between hearing about Voldemort and the rat, now working together, plotting anything!
Frank stopped trying to clear out his ear.
“I keep forgetting the Muggles hearing this” Sirius frowned, for the first time his attention drawn elsewhere besides the two speakers and realizing how bad this could get fast. That old man had better stop picking his ear alright and get out of there as fast as his bum leg would allow, or they were going to be hearing about something far worse.
He had plainly heard the words Ministry of Magic, and Muggles. As those weren’t actual words, they were clearly a code for something, and only two types of people used codes, criminals and spies.
“Well he’s not wrong” Remus sighed, rubbing furiously at his temple to stave away an already growing headache.
Still he did not move as Wormtail spoke up about how his Lordship was still determined to go through with his plan? When the cold voice responded of course he was, there was a slight pause before the first man spoke up again, exclaiming how this could all be done without Harry Potter.
That part, actually wasn’t surprising. They were all well aware that of course Voldemort would seek the boy who had been his downfall, it was why they were all so tensed and stressed at the mere mention of Voldemort’s name. Of course that didn’t make them hate it any less, it just wasn’t a shock. What did get to them, was that Wormtail had suggested otherwise. Even Sirius, who had every intention of trying to lop off his head with a duller axe then what had been used on Nearly Headless Nick, registered that this little vermin had actually made an attempt at trying to protect Harry. This in no way excused what he’d done to them by any means, but it was the first glimpse for the first time that maybe their old friend was still somewhere buried in there. Too little too late.
A surprised pause where the second considered the option, and Wormtail quickly added on he had no care for the actual boy,
Sirius made a guttural noise, his brief flare drowned at once as he began picturing all over again every torture he’d ever heard of and making up a few on the spot.
James on the other hand flinched like Lily had just cracked him over the head with this book, which would probably give him head trauma, but even that would be easier to deal with then what he was feeling now. He kept flashing back and forth between anger and betrayal like a coin toss, never sure which one he was going to get next but still feeling as raw as the first time. This time it was betrayal, and he wanted that denial back all over again before he’d admit one of his friends had just said that about his baby.
no consideration for him at all!
Lily was planning on pulling out her own tongue if she really had to say that again, still on the more murderous side like everyone else at this sniveling coward covering his tail, probably just trying to make his job easier or some nonsense considering how well protected her son was, but it didn’t make the words any easier to say.
He had only suggested this because any witch or wizard could be used for the thing.
‘The thing?’ James quickly latched onto that, unbelievably finding that whatever Voldemort was up to was actually easier to hear then his friend tossing his son’s life away like that.
If he could just be given permission to step out for some time, he could be back with another person in no time.
Remus was grinding his teeth together so hard his jaw was starting to ache, the only reason he wasn’t being as vocal as Sirius was because of the baby in his arms and he didn’t want to start yelling with him so close. His restraints were starting to wane out though, as he realized that whatever that rat was suggesting wouldn’t be any more beneficial to this random person then to Harry, which was most likely murder or something worse. He still could hardly picture it, that same person who’d been to this house less than a week ago casually speaking to the Dark Lord about these matters!
The cold voice agreed it could be done, and Wormtail sounded adamant now that trying to get at Harry Potter would just be so hard, he was the most well protected.
Harry couldn’t help but frown in agitation at that, wondering what protections those were, and wondering all the more why he’d never been informed of these. Shouldn’t he know if say his house was being watched, or some other monitoring was taking place that stopped any old Death Eater like Malfoy from showing up at his door and killing him? He was having a mental argument with himself whether to bring these things up, see if his family could know anything about them, or if he would sound petty griping about being protected from people he knew he did need shielding from. Judging by the slight confusion on the rest of them, Harry decided he’d have to let it go for now.
The icy voice shot back though that this could just be a double cross on Wormtail’s part, a plan for him to be running again?
“I still can’t imagine what made him go get him in the first place” Lily grumbled. Sure the rat was outed now, nowhere was safe for him so long as Sirius’ name was still criminal number one, but to Voldemort? He could have just lived out the rest of his life as a rat in shame, he could have moved to another country and started a new life, why was this still his decision? His reasons, or lack thereof in this case, were more than baffling, and not something she wanted to linger on.
He tried to protest, but the other voice snapped back that he could tell he was being lied to. How Wormtail had been regretting coming to his aid since the beginning.
James looked like he was trying to release all of the air from his body at once he sighed so loudly, because the reason he wanted to hear for this to be true never would be, and it still wouldn’t make up for what he did.
The iced voice declared that he revolted his servant.
Sirius never in his life would have thought he’d have something to agree with Voldemort on...but he still thought that was too mild so he didn’t think it really counted either.
He could see the flinch every time he came near him, the disgust as he was being watched over. Wormtail tried to protest, but his Lord cut him off by stating calmly that his service was only being carried out of fear, because he had nowhere else to run.
Lily couldn’t help but reflect back on what she’d been thinking, how the rat had other continents to get to if he really wanted to. He must have some other reason for being there, but she had not an inkling of what, so she still couldn’t bring herself to say anything.
Then the iced voice reflected that he still took it, because he couldn’t survive otherwise.
“I still want to know what the bloody hell he even is” Remus grumbled, thinking that if they could just find this weak little thing that was being described now they could be done with all of their problems. Then he had to correct himself, that this hadn’t happened yet, thankfully, but they were still dealing with an all-powerful Voldemort so they’d have to find another weakness of his.
Wormtail tried to console his master already looked so much stronger, but again he was cut off and being told that was a lie, then he silenced him. Whatever protests the servant had been trying to make died off.
“Least someone shut him up” Sirius huffed, thinking he’d die happy if he never had to think about that sniveling voice again.
The unnamed voice got back on track, saying he had his reasons for using Harry Potter and they would be carried out. His plan would work, all he needed was some courage from Wormtail.
Remus scathed under his breath, thinking that was the last trait in the world that rat could claim, ashamed he’d wound up in Gryffindor all those years ago with the rest of them and caused the rest of them so much.
Which he would do, unless he wanted to feel the wrath of Voldemort again.
James leg gave a spastic twitch, an old feeling wanting to rear up when he realized that Peter was being tortured, but that was easily smothered by a terrible glee that he deserved every last second of it and more.
Wormtail still tried, saying how he’d been going over the plan as well, how the disappearance of Bertha Jorkins would be noticed soon,
Lily gave a little ooh under her breath. It may not have been a name she was familiar with, but that didn’t make the legitimate claim that the rat really had already gone out and killed even more no less painful. She was still having problems coming to terms with the fact that he’d killed twelve people and seemed to feel nothing for it.
Remus’ face went even more sour though, as he snapped “she didn’t deserve that.”
“You know her” Lily asked in surprise.
“Not well” James shrugged “she was a few years above us, but a horrid little snitch. She made up stories all the time to get people she didn’t like in trouble, all talk but no brains whatsoever. We once paid her off to tell Dumbledore someone else had hexed her and she completely fell for it.”
“I’m just trying to figure out how she got involved in this” Sirius frowned “how did she even run across this?”
Harry felt a little stirring, the normal place where he should have felt a memory but of course there was still nothing. Still it was at least a little comforting he would get an answer for this, but for now none of them had the faintest idea.
that if he murdered more- but he was cut off by the self-declared Voldemort that there would be no if. Wormtail would follow through on the plan, and the Ministry would be none the wiser, though he did wish he could do this himself.
“Poor thing, I’ll make sure to leave the next murder for you” Sirius snarled.
Sadly he was incapable in his current state.
Remus couldn’t help but frown, still torn between curiosity and disgust at what he was hearing. This thing, this form of Voldemort, was clearly more substantial then what they’d last seen in Quirrell. He must have some kind of body now if he needed feeding as he said, but it sounded useless, like an infant to die if not tended to. That still didn’t explain what he even was. Had he somehow taken over the body of an actual baby? Why not, if he could have just taken another body, even take the rats. On top of all these questions was the assured desire he did not want the answers, he’d much rather hear about whatever this thing was dying and the rat betraying him and leaving him behind like he had to them and no Voldemort would ever be a problem again.
Then he told Wormtail that all they needed was one more death and Harry Potter would be theirs. Besides, it wouldn’t be long before he had a real faithful servant at his side.
“Oh?” Lily couldn’t help but frown. At least two names coming to mind of who this could refer to, Snape and Malfoy. Both were known Death Eaters, even that executioner that had been supposed to kill Buckbeak, Macnair, could be a candidate, and Merlin knew how many others there still were out there. Now that Voldemort had any follower he was already back in business of killings and disappearances, with an incompetent fool at his side. She didn’t want to think what he could do with even more followers, which he would probably get with the rat quietly spreading the word around the Dark Lord was back.
Wormtail respond with some sulk to his voice that he was faithful.
James couldn’t help but press the heels of his hands into his eyes until he saw bright spots, nearly knocking his glasses off, just trying to give himself something else to concentrate on, but even that didn’t help the cruel noise he made upon hearing that. It just wasn’t getting any easier to hear these kinds of things over and over again.
The icy voice shot back that he needed someone with brains and competence, both of which he lacked.
Sirius couldn’t stop a strangled like noise, like he wanted to give a harsh laugh at how much he agreed with that statement, but it would once again be agreeing with anything Voldemort ever said or did.
Wormtail argued back that he’d been the one to find him, a definite pout to his voice now.
Remus could vividly hear that voice in his head, because it was the same one he always used whenever he had to tell the others he couldn’t come over for the summer because of his mother. For the first time he remembered that she’d supposedly been given an Order of Merlin because of what everyone thought Peter had done, and he couldn’t help but wonder if she was even still alive. Most likely not, or he’d like to think he would have gone groveling back to her even before Voldemort, then again that was most likely a place where he would be looked for so maybe not. Either way it didn’t make him feel one tiny bit better that he could perfectly hear the tone and picture the face of someone who was once a brother now acting like this around Voldemort.
He’d brought Bertha Jorkins in the first place. The second voice agreed this was true, though that was still more a blunder as he’d had no idea how useful she could be. Wormtail tried to protest, but again he was cut off and told he was lying. That same blistering tone saying how he was still grateful for the ineptitude, her information had concocted his plan, and Wormtail would be rewarded for this. It would be an honor, as any of his servants would give up their right hand for this.
Harry couldn’t help but blink, hard, wondering what on earth that could mean. Why did he get yet another feeling that this was something important he should remember? It involved Pettigrew though, so he really didn’t want to know.
Wormtail went back to sounding terrified as he asked what that could be.
“Not terrified enough” Sirius grumbled.
The other gave an amused laugh back, saying he didn’t want to spoil the surprise, but it would be as good as what Bertha had given to him.
James couldn’t help but frown as he realized, selfishly, he would almost feel a sense of relief if he found out Voldemort killed the rat. It would make matters more complicated for Sirius, he’d still much rather find out the rat was dragged forward and his real brothers name was cleared, but some tiny little part of him couldn’t help but want that the very being the rat had thrown his life away for had also been his undoing.
Wormtail sounded close to panicking as he asked if he was going to be killed?! The second voice was surprised, saying it wasn’t like that. Bertha had to be killed, she was no longer of any use after his questioning.
Lily got a terrible taste in her mouth, not even wanting to consider what kind of questioning had been going on to make that girl seemingly useless.
Besides that, she could hardly have been let to leave when she’d discovered Wormtail.
“Oh but it would have made our life so much better” Remus growled.
After all, Ministry employees couldn’t be wandering into supposedly dead men now could they.
Sirius grumbled something inarticulate about how this would be the least of that rats problems when he was done with him.
Wormtail still said he’d have rather just changed her memory, but the ice like voice said back that he had just proven Memory Charms could be broken.
“She had a memory charm placed on her?” Lily muttered, finding this more and more confusing as time wore on. Who had that rat run across that was so important it had seemed to help Voldemort in every way possible?
“That can’t be good” Harry agreed while the boys remained in stony faced silence, and both Harry and Lily knew they weren’t going to be managing much else until this conversation ended.
Frank had been listening to all of this, and he hadn’t realized his hand was shaking until now. He’d just heard both of these voices speaking of murder, with amusement. These two were clearly mad men.
“You know it’s true when even a Muggle who hasn’t understood a portion of this conversation realizes that” Sirius agreed grimly.
And he was planning more death, this Harry Potter boy, whoever he was -
Harry really couldn’t help the smallest of smiles, he always appreciated when his name was a question rather than the celebrity.
was in danger. Frank knew what he must do. He would go to the police at once.
“Oh please do hurry” Lily couldn’t help but agree. She knew those Muggle cops wouldn’t have a clue as to what Frank would be telling them, but she also knew the Ministry kept an ear in almost all branches of the Muggle world to help stray away any magical problems, surely something like this would crop up on their radar and something would be done about this long before it reached the level of hurting her son.
He shouldn’t have a problem getting back to the local telephone box back in town.
“Wish he’d get on with it” James muttered, his leg beginning to bounce around in unease, this man was in mortal danger and he needed to get out of that house now!
But then he heard the cold voice start speaking again, and Frank was frozen in his spot as he heard that they just needed one more murder to be done, and then his faithful servant at Hogwarts.
Lily couldn’t help a little keening noise, at Hogwarts! This could not be good, because one name clearly came to mind of who that could be referring to! She hoped desperately she was wrong, even if she hated Severus more now than ever after the way he’d treated Remus last year she still liked to think he wouldn’t go so far as to help Voldemort murder Harry! She held no confidence in the idea though, and she knew without a doubt the boys wouldn’t even give him this benefit of the doubt. She held to her promise she’d made James give though, twisting away at herself that it wouldn’t come to the worst.
He then declared he would not hear any more arguments to the matter, and then silenced Wormtail again anyways as he heard Nagini approaching. Then the ice clipped tones changed, not into words, but hissing noises.
“Hissing?” Remus mumbled.
“Isn’t that what parseltongue sounds like to other people?” Harry asked with a frown.
“Yep” Sirius muttered, feeling a cold chill run up his spine as he thought he now understood who Nagini might be.
Frank wondered if a seizure was taking place in that room,
“I wish” James huffed.
but then he sensed something from behind and turned only to find himself frozen with shock.
‘Oh this can’t be good’ Remus realized before he reminded himself it was already at that level.
There was a snake slithering right towards him, a twelve foot long beast with a diamond pattern.
Lily let out a breathy whistle, then frowned with puzzled confusion. She realized this was clearly Nagini, but how could you milk a snake? The only thing that could be referring to was the venom, but snake’s that big didn’t produce venom. They were either strangling size or poisonous, she’d never heard of one that could do both. What else could they have meant earlier though? Even if this was some hybrid creation she’d never heard of, why would Voldemort be drinking snake venom to make himself better? What the bloody hell was he that this would do any good?
Frank couldn’t even twitch as he watched the reptile come closer, its thick body cutting through a dusty trail.
“Why did it have to be a snake” James groaned, he’d had more than enough terror from those beasts from the basilisk!
“What kind of snake is that?” Lily asked Remus, hoping he’d have a better idea then her.
He just shrugged though, admitting the same thing she had, venomous snakes that big didn’t exist. Unless it was some rare or undiscovered species, he had no clue, which agitated him to no end.
Frank had no chance, either he stay where he was and be killed by this serpent, or go into the room where the two murderers were.
“Never mind, I’ll take the snake” James winced, now wishing he could lend this poor man Gryffindor’s sword or pretty much anything to get him out of this mess, which he was quickly coming to realize wasn’t possible.
He lost his moment and it was upon him, but then to his astounded life the snake kept going past him, right into the room. Before he could finish blinking the tip of the tail vanished and was instead curling around the chair where the hissing was still taking place by the man, and a ludicrous idea cropped up in Frank’s mind, this man could talk to snakes.
“That’s not so insane” Sirius sighed “muggles have people who claim to talk to animals all the time.”
“Was that really relevant right now” Remus demanded.
“Why does it have to be relevant” Sirius demanded right back, a smile finally showing again at any loose and friendly conversation again.
“Why would you say it if it wasn’t?” James happily jumped in.
“For the hell of it” Sirius smirked with a shrug, and looked likely to even carry on except Lily cut him off to keep going. She fully recognized what her boys were trying to do, delay the inevitable at this point because they were all well aware that this poor man was not going to get out of that house, plus they would find any reason to smile again after the already horrid morning they had been having, but she didn’t think pushing it off would make it any better to hear.
There was no time for his mind to settle before the Lord’s voice spoke in a human tongue again, and to Frank’s horror he spoke to Wormtail, telling him that Nagini had just said there was a Muggle in the hallway, listening in on them.
Lily couldn’t help a tiny little whimper. She didn’t even know this man, she hadn’t known Bertha either, but the fact that this book was starting off with yet more murders and all of these unspeakable things happening just felt so sad and foreboding. It was the worst kind of omen for when they finally did get back to what she wanted to hear, Harry.
Frank had not a second to consider anything as the door was flung open, and Frank was looking upon a squat man with a bald patch not quite taking away all of his gray hair, and a thin unhealthy face.
James was actually quite happy he couldn’t really picture that. His physical description wasn’t nearly so radically changed like Sirius, nor had he reached the level of unhealthy Remus often did, but this was still different enough to what he’d seen days ago that it was no more pleasant a reminder.
When the two just stood there, the cold voice spoke up from the chair, demanding to know where Wormtail’s manners were? He was to be invited inside. Wormtail shuffled out of the way and Frank could see the full view of the chair of the speaker, but still not the man himself, meaning he must be incredibly short.
All five of them couldn’t help but frown at that. Only Lily and James had ever seen Voldemort at his full power, and they could attest that he was by no means short. It only reinforced all the more that whatever he was now, it wasn’t human.
He began addressing him, confirming that he’d heard everything, as well as calling him a Muggle. Frank bolstered himself, demanding to know what that word meant. Now that he was in the room his hand was no longer shaking, in fact he felt quite brave.
‘Can we replace that little rat with him?’ Sirius couldn’t help but think, liking this man more and more as time went on and feeling all the more terrible he was fixing to hear his end come too soon.
Now that the time for action had come, he felt much more assured, it had always been so in the war. The voice explained that he had called him a Muggle, which was someone who was not a wizard. Frank bristled, saying he didn’t know what that had to do with anything, but what he did know was that he’d heard more than enough to get the police’s attention.
“Why would you say that?” Lily couldn’t help but moan. “He should have played dumb, said he hadn’t understood a word! I still wouldn’t put it past Voldemort to have him killed, but throwing that in their face was a terrible idea!”
“Like he said though” James offered with a sad smile “bravery took hold of him. I think he knew quite well what was fixing to happen to him, so he set his backbone and wasn’t going to back down.”
Lily sighed, but acquitted it was the same thing she might have done in that circumstance.
Stating that he knew these men had committed murders and were planning more, than adding on that his wife knew he was here so if he didn’t come back-
“Credit to him, that was a truly inspirational on the spot, but honestly he’d probably just go murder that wife so it’s just as well,” Remus huffed with pity.
but was cut off by the cold voice saying that Frank was lying, he always knew when people were lying. Frank had no wife, no one could lie to Lord Voldemort.
“Stupid, f’ing, legilimency” Sirius kept saying under his breath, thinking that was one of the worst and most violating things any wizard had ever created.
Frank growled back he didn’t think much of the title, and told him if he was a real man he’d turn and face him.
Truly it was sad what they all knew without a doubt what was fixing to happen to this man, and yet they still couldn’t help but smile when they saw how he was acting. He had some spunk and iron to him, something all of them knew well.
Voldemort responded he was no man,
“I’ll give you that one” Sirius nodded “you are far less than that.”
James couldn’t help a muffled snort, just picturing Sirius saying that to his flattened face and what kind of reaction he’d receive.
but agreed this would be done, then instructed Wormtail to turn his chair around. His servant gave a whimper of protest
Lily couldn’t bring herself to sound very upset at those lines, thinking that little rat deserved any displeasure he was feeling, this was his rotten choice and she’d happily find him regretting it to his soon dying breath.
but did as told as he came forward and began moving the chair around, almost hitting the snake in the process causing the beast to hiss in protest.
“He’ll wish that was the worst thing he has to deal with” Remus snapped.
Then the chair was facing Frank, and he had no time to scream, no time to realize what was being shouted at him as a flash of green light overtook the room, and Frank Bryce was dead before his body hit the floor.
Lily couldn’t help but pause. Even if she never met this man and wouldn’t have known any better about this before reading that, she still felt a moment of silence was called for. None of the boys said anything either, there was a pitying frown on every face for this having happened, or was going to happen, which ever.
Two hundred miles away, the boy called Harry Potter woke with a start.
None of them could help it, they were far past the point of writing off anything as a coincidence, and the fact that Harry had awoken at that exact moment was truly mind blowing and terrifying. After all, they never had found out why Harry’s scar had been hurting him in his first year, but they had realized it had something to do with Voldemort. Now here Harry was, reacting to something else Voldemort had just done!
They didn’t actually think it was possible, but that had been the worst way this chapter could have ended! They’d long since realized that Harry’s scar had been paining him through the whole of his first year because Voldemort had been around Harry, though not truly there because of his shared body with Quirrell which is why it hadn’t been a literal constant pain unless he was practically right on top of Harry. Of course none of them even knew why that happened, but for the book to be saying something like that gave all of them chills they did not want at the implications this meant that Voldemort was near Harry again! Of course it had also just said this happened many miles away, so since that clearly wasn’t the case, what the blood hell was going on now? Why would Harry’s scar be hurting, because Voldemort had used that spell? Why though, none of this was adding up.
“Lily keep going” James demanded, trying to peek down at the pages when she kept throwing worried looks at her son.
“That was the end of the chapter” Lily sighed, passing the book to James for his turn.
To anyone keeping up with my Proper Life story, sorry I haven’t posted the last two chapters yet, I’ve been so dang busy I feel lucky to have gotten this up today. Not a great omen, but I do still promise at least another chapter for this fic this week.