Title: Altering the Parameters
Author: [personal profile] eaivalefay
Pairing/Characters: Voldemort, Harry, preslash
Rating: PG
Warnings: None.
Words: ~5,000
Summary: Voldemort develops a new plan to get Potter out of his way. He may have more help at it than he thinks.
Disclaimer: The Harry Potter books, characters, world, what-have-you all belong to J. K. Rowling. No infringement is intended, and no money is being made off of this story.
Author's Notes: This is.... inspired by a whole lot, actually, and because of that it has had so many beginnings and patterns. Inspiration-wise, this is dedicated to Bells and Meda as well as the [profile] riddle_gifts fest itself and all of fandom in general. ♥
Based on the 2009 fest prompt #33: Voldemort manages to catch Harry. Instead of killing Harry, Voldemort offers Harry the chance to learn from him. Harry accepts. (AU, obviously) - can be gen, slashy goodness welcome.


Voldemort frowned at the blank face of the scrying mirror. It showed nothing; only his reflection peering back at him. It had never done this before, always working as it should when he gave it a command. It figured the time it stopped working would be for one of the most important searches. His fingers twitched with the desire to smash the mirror against the floor.

No. That wouldn’t do. To shatter the nearly priceless artifact would be as good as admitting defeat. He was not one to be defeated, not one to fail. He did not accept failure from his followers. He would most certainly not accept it from himself. It was possible he hadn’t refined his search enough, despite the fact that he’d been altering the parameters again and again--

An irritated sigh escaped his lips. Nothing seemed to go right where Harry Potter was concerned.

Well, no. That wasn’t entirely true. Everything always went perfectly--exactly according to plan--until the time came to kill the boy.

Potter was amazingly resistant to Death. Exactly what Voldemort had aimed to achieve over the years. The irony didn’t escape him; Potter managing what he, a far more learned scholar than the boy by far, could not.

Voldemort felt his frustration grow. The feeling was irksome to him. And Potter caused far too much of it in his life.

As the darkened mirror continued to show nothing Voldemort thought perhaps he was going about things the wrong way.

There was one option left unexplored. One option Voldemort considered a last resort. As time went on it seemed more and more likely he had little choice but to look into it.

He recalled how Potter reacted the first, and last, time Voldemort had broached the subject with him. Of course Potter had only been eleven at the time. He himself hadn’t exactly been at his most charming either. Voldemort scowled at that thought. As Quirrell once pointed out--only once--living as a parasitic spirit for years on end had not improved his people skills.

Still, he had little choice.

Lord Voldemort threw open the double doors of his study, storming from the room. “Wormtail.” The name was spoken barely above a whisper but the wretch was already scurrying toward him. “I’ll be in my private rooms. If anyone should need me they will wait.”

If he was going to do this he would have to do it properly. Time needed to be spent considering how best to approach his target.

Now. What the hell did Potter desire?

***

Harry rubbed his scar as it twinged with pain before returning his concentration to meditating. It wasn’t easy. Despite all the lessons he had had with Snape, despite the heartbreaking incentive he’d been given to master it, Harry was still only mediocre at Occlumency.

But Harry felt he didn’t have much choice. Harry knew he didn’t have much choice. He had to learn how to protect his mind.

He blamed himself. He blamed himself and the others, so many others, for the chaos tumbling around all of them, trampling their world beneath its feet. But somehow he was still living his life. He did his homework, toiled around the house for his relatives and pretended Mundungus wasn’t hiding in the bushes. He pretended he was a normal teenager with nothing more important to do than simply exist.

Everyone else did the same, he was only following their cue. ...if that was any excuse.

Harry huffed out a sigh of frustration, uncrossing his legs from their meditative position. He wanted to throw himself across his bed in a fit of rage, the way Dudley did when he was five and didn’t get the candy he wanted. Hell, like Dudley did last week when he didn’t get the latest computer game he wanted.

Why shouldn’t he through a tantrum anyway? He was mad, no matter how hard he tried to ignore it. He was bloody furious, and it wasn’t Voldemort’s influence either.

He did his everyday work and tried not to think of the dead faces, the violence and terror his hidden bodyguards muttered about when they forgot he could hear them. He tried desperately to forget all the articles from The Prophet, the ones that were so artificial it was easy to see what was really happening behind the lies. So he thought normal, everyday thoughts, like: how was he going to sneak a late dinner from the kitchens when Dudley seemed to have permanently placed himself at the kitchen table? And: how would he get Aunt Petunia to buy some extra daisy seeds for the garden, since the Order forbade him from leaving the house, making it impossible for Harry to walk to the grocery twelve blocks away?

He tried not to think about his anger toward the Order, for tying him to number four Privet Drive for the summer. For guarding him, to keep him in as much as them out, like he was some precious world wonder.

Didn’t they understand they couldn’t protect him? He should be out there. Fighting, doing.... Doing anything. Anything to stop the plague of murder and madness from creeping over the wizarding world.

He owed it to Dumbledore.

He owed it to Sirius.

He owed it to everyone.

Harry pulled himself up from the floor of his bedroom, giving up on ever being able to clear his mind before lunch. He consoled himself with the fact that he knew he’d do anything to stop the madness around him, if only he knew what it was he could do.

***

Voldemort smirked as he came back to himself before carefully moving and stretching stiff muscles. Sifting around in Potter’s mind took time and was inevitably exhausting, but in this instance it had been more than worth it.

Potter was waxing pathetically over the numerous dead. Voldemort wasn’t surprised. Potter had no stomach for death, undoubtedly due to his Gryffindor tendencies. That, or his age, though Voldemort had found no trouble in extinguishing life when he had been young. Yes, it must be the Gryffindor qualities, and Dumbledore’s near constant drivel about morality. It was a shame Dumbledore had gotten his hands on Potter at such a young age. With better influences in his life, Potter may have been suitable for Slytherin.

But clearly the brat wasn’t Slytherin, and he had provided Voldemort with a near perfect opportunity to finally win.

Potter wanted, with amusing desperation, to end the war in the wizarding world. Voldemort could arrange that. He could end the war with ease, quite simply and bloodlessly. There was, naturally, a catch. To engender such a quiet end Voldemort would require Potter’s aid. The brat would have to join him.

Potter’s mind was riddled with the sentiment that he would do anything to stop the death. If the only way to do so was by joining him, then Potter would. Presumably. However the boy was far from logical, and Voldemort would not allow anything to go wrong with his plans this time. He flicked his wand. Parchment fluttered onto the desk before him and a quill smoked into existence beside it. He would have to outline a suitable plan and various arguments to ensure Potter’s agreement.

It would take some weeks, but Voldemort could begin implementing a peaceful end to the war immediately, to further persuade the boy. Evidence of his actions was always useful after all, and if Potter should somehow refuse he could simply reverse his orders.

***

The garden was immaculate, if Harry did say so himself. There were a few empty patches in the flower beds, but there was nothing he could do about that. He needed seeds and bulbs, and his aunt was in no hurry to get them.

He brushed off some of the soil imbedded into his jeans as he headed for the house. Halfway across the garden he stopped and turned back as Mundungus waved him over toward the far bushes. The wizard didn’t say much as Harry approached, only stuffed a small bundle of letters into his hands.

“Letters from friends.” He was already pushing Harry back toward the house. “Had to check them over for curses.”

“Typical.” Harry muttered. “Because the Death Eaters, figuring since they couldn’t come by for a cup of tea, will have decided to hex me by mail. If they could, they would have done it by now!”

Harry was sure they only wanted to spy on his correspondence. So he was disappointed to find out that the letters all appeared trivial, but he wasn’t surprised. The members of the Order were all under the, admittedly correct, impression that Harry had a tendency toward rebellion and jumping head first into things. He tried not to smirk as he thought to himself. He would run into any situation right now, if only he knew how to get there. Anything was better than eternal waiting!

Slowly he read one letter after another. Ginny and Ron both wrote about the Burrow, and both had post scripts from Mrs. Weasley. Remus told him to keep his head down and that everything would be sorted soon enough. Neville’s letter was a surprise, because Neville never wrote him. And Harry couldn’t fathom why he was writing now, about plants of all things. The only letter that caught his attention was Hermione’s, and he nearly burst into laughter as he read it. She went on for four pages about her holiday, how her parents decided not to go to Japan this year, their summer homework, and her parents’ work as dentists. It was the most absurdly boring letter Harry had ever received and he could have kissed Hermione. She had sent a letter in code.

Harry never would have known it, except Hermione had given him a book on encryptions last Christmas with a pointed monologue on the importance of reading it. He’d tuned her out, as was the natural order of things, but he hadn’t had much to do this summer except brood and work. He’d ended up reading a lot more of his school books than he cared to consider, and that included the encryption book.

Hermione was officially Harry’s favorite person. The book was officially his favorite text.

The real letter was much more interesting than the apparent one. It started out, much to Harry’s embarrassment, like this:

Harry,

I am sorry I haven’t written you sooner, but I assumed you would only have just recently read 1000 Codes for 1000 Uses. I had hoped you would write me in code, but I am sure you have been busy, considering everything that is happening!

Oh, I do hope they have been telling you anyway. I am not sure they have, hence the coded letter. I’ll start from the beginning, in case they haven’t....


The news in the letter wasn’t a surprise to him. Voldemort’s followers were causing death and terror across the wizarding world. Nothing seemed to be stopping this new reign. The ministry was waffling between ignoring the situation and actually attempting to be useful. The Order, without the aid of the ministry, was quickly running out of options.

It really wasn’t a surprise, but it did fuel Harry’s anger toward the Order, and everyone else who continued to keep secrets from him.

The best part of the letter scared the hell out of Harry. Hermione had given Harry the option of doing something. Finally! And now that he could, he wasn’t sure he wanted to.

Hermione had reminded him, in her usual fashion, that they were all missing the most obvious thing in the world. Or Harry was, at least, and everyone else was pretending it didn’t exist because they didn’t want to put Harry in undue danger. But it was obvious, wasn’t it? Harry had a direct link into Voldemort’s mind.

Hermione’s letter continued:

Harry, if you have managed to block Him from your mind, then you must ignore this letter. But there isn’t much else to do, not from what I’ve heard the Order members arguing about lately. Professors Snape and Lupin especially, but Bones and Kingsley and even Professor McGonagall too.

Of course I do not want you to put yourself in undue danger. But if you can take advantage of your connection to, well, you know. If you can do it without his noticing, it might be worth a try. We might finally find out something useful. It’s been awful here, sitting and waiting for the next nightmare to unfold without being able to do much about it.


So that was it. Harry had to try to take a look into Voldemort’s mind.

***

One week later to the day Harry sent off a short letter to each of his friends. He didn’t say much, nothing important at all, except to Hermione.

She had to come visit him as soon as possible, and bring a few things with her.

***

“Do you know how hard it was to convince Professor Lupin to let me come see you?” Hermione asked indignantly after releasing Harry from a suffocating hug. She whipped out her wand and muttered a spell. “There. Now no one will hear us, just some insignificant murmuring.”

“Nice,” Harry grinned appreciatively. “Where did you learn that?”

“From the twins, as amazing as that sounds.” Hermione returned his grin before her smile vanished, “What do you mean in that letter, Harry? You want me to help you do what exactly?”

Harry’s smile turned sheepish. “Leave, Hermione. I need help to get out of here. They watch me constantly!”

“Harry,” Hermione said slowly, “if you leave You-Know-Who will certainly catch you. The only thing keeping you off his radar is your blood connection to your relatives!”

“I know--”

“Of course you know that. I know you know that.” Hermione frowned. “That can only mean you want him to find you.” A shiver went down her back. “Was I wrong to ask you what I did?”

Harry shook his head quickly, “No, Hermione, you were right, like usual.” He grabbed her hand and tugged her over to his bed so they could sit. “Get comfortable because I think this will take awhile.”

Hermione settled herself and after awhile looked over to Harry, who sat leaning against the head of the bed. “Well?”

He picked at his nails nervously, but met her eyes squarely. “I did try seeing into his mind. I’m sure I did, and I’m sure he didn’t notice me there. He was... Really distracted with this one issue on his mind.” Harry stopped.

Hermione leaned forward. “One issue? Something that will help us stop another attack?”

“...Hermione, have the attacks slowed down this last week? Has anything happened? Or not happened?” Harry asked, a note of uncertainty filling his voice.

“I guess. Well,” Hermione began. “Nothing has happened this week. It is kind of odd, because Kingsley said word had come of a fairly big attack. It hasn’t come yet, and it should have happened two nights ago.”

Harry’s stomach flipped. The evidence was exciting. It meant that what he saw had been real. “I don’t know, Hermione. It seems like it all adds up. I’m sure he didn’t notice my presence in his mind, but what if he did? What if it’s all another mind game, like with Si--Sirius?” He nearly choked on his godfather’s name. Voldemort had taken him from Harry. How could he even be considering..?

“Harry,” Hermione’s tone was patient. “Could you please fill me in?”

“Oh. Right.” Harry said, flushing. “I did as you asked. I wasn’t sure I wanted to. I mean, I’ve been going mad here, Hermione. I haven’t been able to do a thing. And then you offered me a way to help out, but actually trying to connect to his mind?”

“I know. I’m sorry--”

“No, you were right.” Harry interrupted quickly. “I could do it, and I did, and I’m almost positive he didn’t notice. I...it’s unbelievable, Hermione. You won’t believe it. I am not sure I do.”

“For Merlin’s sake, Harry, spit it out.” Hermione said.

Harry grinned weakly at her. “He wants me to join him. He’s planning it all out; it’s all he can think about. He’s got tons of things in his mind about convincing me to side with him.”

Hermione stared, horrified. “That’s.... That’s.... My god, Harry, stop smiling!”

“Sorry.” Harry looked down at his lap. “I’m not thrilled with the idea, you know. But you haven’t seen or felt what I have. It’s real, Hermione, and he’s got all these thoughts.... They’re not nice thoughts, he’s obviously not nice, but they are thoughts about how he will stop killing and--and maiming, if I join him. He’ll do it for my loyalty, end things peacefully that is.

“You can’t know that, Harry. He’s done unspeakable things.” Hermione looked away. “He could be fooling you, just like he did with Sirius! Remember, Harry? Merlin, I should never have mentioned the idea. Can you really believe he would stop doing what he is doing? He could be fooling you, and probably is!”

“I know.” Harry said. “That’s why I asked you to come here. I knew you of all people would be able to prove one way or another if this is all real. I can hardly believe it myself, you know.”

“And if it is real?” Hermione probed.

“What if we could end the war with little or no more bloodshed? And make sure that things aren’t bad after, that there’s actually some sort of real justice? If we can get that, then what choice do I have?”

“Harry....” Hermione said. She wasn’t sure what she wanted to say. There was too much to cover, too much to ask and argue.

Harry smiled, “Can’t we just figure out if it’s real first?”

Hermione deflated. “Oh, all right.”

Harry’s smile turned mischievous. “I did say it would take awhile, didn’t I?”

***

“Fine. It appears to be legitimate as far as either of us can tell. I think we should consult someone with more experience though.” Hermione said for the seventh time.

“No, Hermione. They would never in a million years let me do what I think I should do.” Harry said.

“Maybe that’s not a bad thing.” Hermione pointed out. At Harry’s glare she rolled her eyes. “Can you blame me for worrying? No? I didn’t think so!”

“Hermione,” Harry started.

“I want you to know there is only one way I will agree to this plan.” Hermione said.

“What’s that?” Harry asked pensively.

“He will have to agree to an Unbreakable Vow.” Hermione said decisively. “And a further bond between the two of you--”

“A bond--”

“--there are a few to choose from.” Hermione finished.

“A bond! Aren’t we connected enough?” Harry asked.

“It’s insurance, Harry.” Hermione said, a stubborn look in her eyes. “To make sure he keeps his word. Otherwise you could do this all for nothing.”

“I may still be doing it for nothing.” Harry pointed out. “We don’t even know if it will work out yet.”

“If it does, I mean.” Hermione said. “An unbreakable vow and bond.”

“...fine.” Harry said.

“Good! Now, to get you out of here... That’s going to be tricky, Harry.”

“I have complete faith in your creativity, Hermione.”

***

Voldemort frowned in irritation as the sound of an alert filled the room and interrupted his orders to three members of his inner circle. His priceless scrying mirror was whistling softly, as though it were a teapot that had finally reached boiling point.

He summoned the artifact to him. If he were prone to expressions of amazement he might have sworn in disbelief. As it was, one recently reacquired eyebrow arched up delicately.

“Go away.” He ordered his followers. He didn’t bother to look up as they silently obeyed his command.

He smiled darkly as the door clicked shut, leaving him alone in the room. Potter was finally visible to him. The boy was out in the open, without the protection of Dumbledore’s resistance. What perfect timing.

***

Hermione really was superb in, well, just about everything. Harry would have smiled at the thought, but he was far too tense as he walked as quickly and quietly down the street as he could, invisibility cloak carefully draped across his form.

He was already five blocks away. He imagined Voldemort would be popping up at any moment.

He was stunned, therefore, when a feeling akin to a fishhook caught in his navel caused him to hunch over as the world began spinning out of control.

A few moments later he landed with a thump in a dark room. It was mostly empty, except there were massive amounts of furniture collected along the walls and covered by dusty sheets. Harry’s stomach sank. How the hell had Voldemort gotten a portkey on him?

“Potter,” Voldemort spoke softly, “how kind of you to join me. You realize, I hope, that your cloak is useless here.”

Harry whirled around. Voldemort stood silhouetted in front of a starlit window. Harry forced his body into stillness. It was all he could do to keep from grabbing his wand and diving for cover. “I didn’t expect to need it anyway.”

A smirk curled the corners of Voldemort’s mouth, though Harry couldn’t see it. “Why wear it at all, if not for some illusion of protection?”

“To get past my so-called protectors, obviously.” Harry said. He shifted impatiently. “Are we going to get on with things then? Only I want to know whether we’re going to make a pact or if I should be running for the hills right now.”

“You purposely came out to see me, Potter? I’m touched, or I would be if such things weren’t beneath me.” Voldemort moved forward out of the dim light of the window to circle Harry slowly. “And you know why I brought you here. Tell me, how did you puzzle that out?”

“We’re connected. That’s kind of hard to deny after all these years.” Harry said. “You don’t think it’s a one way link, do you? I can get to you as easily as you can get to me.” He moved in time with Voldemort, careful to keep him in sight at all times. Not that it really mattered. Harry wasn’t sure his luck would save him from any danger this time.

“You haven’t the training to enter my mind without my knowledge.” Voldemort denied.

“Then tonight you should have been expecting me.” Harry snapped back.

“Hmm, yes.” Much to Harry’s amazement, Voldemort paused thoughtfully. “This may turn out to be better than even I expected. That is, if your intentions tonight are to align with me. I’m afraid if you have come in some foolish attempt to kill me you will have little success.”

“Yeah, I’ve worked that one out for myself, thanks.” Harry said, not without irony. “You haven’t had much luck killing me and I figure, like our link, that’s also a two way street. Actually, that’s Hermione’s idea, but she’s usually right.”

Voldemort stared for a minute. “And, Potter?” He asked impatiently.

“Oh, right. That’d be a yes then, to joining up. After all, darkness is hero territory, right?” Harry said.

“I believe that you are supposed to defeat it, Potter, not join it.” Voldemort couldn’t keep the edge of amusement out of his voice. “And that’s it? You agree?”

“You’re surprised?”

“I expected arguments and childish railing.” Voldemort said.

“There are one or two things, but you’re expecting them.” Harry said, almost smiling. It wasn’t often he got the upper hand. “No more violence, nothing unnecessary, that is. No muggle persecution, or wizard segregation, no more fighting. And when you do take over, thing still have to be balanced and fair. Preferably more balanced than they currently are.”

“You’re correct; I was expecting all of that. Things have already been arranged.” Voldemort informed him.

Harry couldn’t stop his grin, “I know. But there are two other things. We’re going to be equals. I’m not submitting to you. I’ve been led around enough by most everyone else.” Harry could tell by Voldemort’s irritated frown that he wasn’t pleased with that, but he didn’t argue. Harry continued. “The other part is that we have to seal this with an unbreakable vow. Um.”

“A sensible precaution for the both of us. However I take it by your prolonged silence and ridiculously red face there is something else you wish to add?”

“Um.” Harry groaned. “Hermione suggested instigating some type of bond between us as well. But I think we can get around that....”

Voldemort didn’t respond immediately. After a few minutes he spoke up, “On the contrary, it has merit. It is a pragmatic solution to any future problems. With a bond we are perpetually forced to work through our differences whether said differences fall within the parameters of the unbreakable vow or not. We will not be able to ‘cheat,’ as it were.”

“You like the idea?” Harry said incredulously.

“As I said, it is quite pragmatic.” Voldemort said.

“...so we have a deal.”

“Apparently.”

Neither were entirely sure whether they were pleased or disappointed.

“What now?”

Voldemort smirked.

***

He had sent the boy back to his relatives’ house--number four on Privet Drive, he now knew--to continue his existence as the boy-who-lived until it was time for their, how had Potter phrased it, big reveal.

They had agreed to cast the unbreakable vow immediately. It meant that neither could back out. The bond would take longer. There was research to be done in regard to it, and then getting Potter to agree to what bond Voldemort deemed best. He had the unpleasant suspicion that Potter’s muggleborn friend would be involved with that process.

It mattered little. Indeed, Granger had helped Voldemort get closer to his goals. She helped more than she would care to know. Bonds, after all, were delicate things, difficult to form but with the right casting quite easy to manipulate. Voldemort should know, after all he had formed more than a few. The dark mark was far more than a brand, after all.

He stood over one of his many work tables and peered down into the fragile scrying mirror. It had once more darkened into confusion, searching for a boy it could no longer locate. Voldemort may know where Potter was being kept, but the magical protection surrounding the muggle residence continued to block all forms of seeking magic.

He whispered a command and smiled lazily as the mirror’s surface faded back into a normal, reflective surface. The search was over. He had Potter.

He won.
.

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eaivalefay

dreaming memories

What you can do with your life has little to do with what's going on in the world and everything to do with what you see as possible.

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