batsutousai: (HP-motherseyes-Harry)
[personal profile] batsutousai
Title: Déguiser
Author: [livejournal.com profile] batsutousai
Beta: [livejournal.com profile] magickmaker17
Rating: PG-13 for now
Pairings: HP/LV, SB/RL, Possible - HP/DM, Possible - NL/HG
Warnings: AU, an attempt to not copy the book, bit of Ron-bashing and some definite Dumbles-hate going on
Summary: When Albus Dumbledore leaves Harry Potter on the doorstep of the Dursleys, the last thing he expected was for an unknown relative to disappear with the boy for ten years. Enter Thomas Potter, a man who intends to change the past, the present, and the future.

A/N: I had questions about what Thomas looks like now. He really looks like how about you'd expect, oh, Daniel Radcliffe will look when he's in his late twenties – assuming the poor kid ages well – but he's got some streaks of grey in his hair and his eyes are hazel. No scar, no glasses.

This chapter's title had me giggling for a bit, I must admit. Think about it: 'pots and pans' – 'plots and plans'. And, yes, I know. I have issues. (But you all love me anyway, don't you? XD)

Also, forgive the beginning of this chapter. I was having a hard time finding some other way to explain what Dumbles was up to...



-0-0-0-
Chapter Twelve – Plots and Plans
-0-0-0-


Albus Dumbledore was not a stupid man. Extravagant, yes. Flamboyant, rather. Likely to stand out in a crowd, you better believe it.

But he wasn't stupid.

Albus Dumbledore also wasn't a suspicious man by nature. Necessity, however, had made him prone to distrust people unless he had enough power over them to keep them in line. With Severus, it was his freedom from Azkaban. Minerva tended to talk too much when drunk. Fudge needed him for advice. And so on. The only people in the entire world outside his direct control were Tom Riddle and some of his more influential Death Eaters – not even Fudge would listen to him about Lucius Malfoy. But even those fools had, at some point, listened to him and had a certain amount of respect or fear for his abilities.

Then came Thomas Leland-Potter.

The mysterious and secretive bastard son of Thomas Potter. Thrown into France with a disgraced mother from a slightly fanatical, Dark pureblood family. Friend of Lucius Malfoy, Augusta Longbottom, the werewolf Remus Lupin, Sirius Black and two Muggles. Master Legilimens. Owner of a custom wand from Africa. Fluent in French and English. Able to take a dragon at a moment's notice. Lays claim to an uncanny sense of when things are wrong or about to turn wrong.

And the damn man didn't trust nor appear to like Albus at all, never mind his lack of respect. To make matters worse, he'd dragged young Harry Potter, Remus, Sirius and the Granger family over with him. Minerva actually seemed to like the man – which was odd, considering she rarely got on with people she didn't work with or had known while she was in school – and Severus had an eerie mix of respect and disgust for Thomas. Albus really wished he knew why Severus reacted to Thomas like he did, but he doubted he'd ever find out.

Honestly, Albus considered he'd been very calm about the whole Thomas-problem up to this point. He hadn't bothered to bring Thomas to trial over taking Harry from the Dursleys and he'd even pushed for Sirius to have a trial. He'd also let it go when Thomas and Lucius came for the TriWizard Tournament – never mind all the other times the man had showed up at the school for Quidditch or checking on Harry.

The Third Task was the final straw.

Albus didn't know what Harry had faced on the other end of what was apparently a portkey. He didn't know why the boy had seemed to expect that something would happen. Or why the boy and his friends had so steadfastly avoided him for the end of term. (Although, Minerva's tirade about using Legilimency on the students gave him a fairly good reason for the last.) He also didn't know why Alastor couldn't remember anything about the past school year, and while he didn't think it had anything to do with the end of the Third Task, Alastor seemed to believe it did.

Albus had a feeling. He had a feeling that what had happened at the end of the Final Task was important. He had a feeling that he really needed to know what had happened so he could move to protect their future. He also had the sinking suspicion that the child of prophecy lived with a Death Eater. And, really, the last was the most troubling of all.

But Albus also had no proof. And, like with Lucius Malfoy, he needed solid proof before he could get Thomas Leland-Potter thrown into Azkaban and Harry back with his Muggle relatives and, by extension, under Albus' thumb.

Albus' annoyed musings were broken by a sharp knock on his door. He smiled – perhaps now he would get some answers. "Come in, Severus."

Severus Snape stalked in and sneered. "No."

"Why, I haven't even asked you anything yet, dear boy," Albus said cheerfully. "Have a seat. Sherbet lemon? T–"

"Albus, no," Severus said sharply. "No, the Dark Lord isn't back. I don't know why my Mark burned during the Final Task. Unless he tried something and it failed. Perhaps that's why Potter didn't see the need to inform you about what happened."

Albus seethed inside. "You're certain?" he asked.

"Completely, Headmaster," Severus replied dryly.

"If you're lying–"

"I'm quite aware of the power you hold over my continued freedom from Azkaban, sir," Severus said stiffly. "If that's all?"

Albus settled back in his chair. "Yes. You're free to go."

Severus left with a grimace. He really hated being between two equally powerful and dangerous men. Though, truth be told, he was more concerned about the Dark Lord's threat than Dumbledore's. Until Voldemort's threat became less worrisome than Albus', he wouldn't say a damn thing to the Headmaster. No matter Albus' cost.

-0-0-0-0-0-


Thomas spent the day with Sirius, Remus and Harry. They didn't do anything spectacular, just played a couple of board games, but it was a nice chance to pretend that there wasn't a war just around the corner and they were likely to be right in the middle of it.

After dinner, Thomas left Remus in charge of making sure Harry got to bed – and would be given a headache potion if he needed it suddenly – then left for Slytherin Manor.

The guards at the main doors were clearly new, as Thomas was able to slip past them without any detection – they were too busy arguing over Quidditch. Voices were coming from the main hall, which had a door partially open, so Thomas poked his head in, certain that no one would recognize him beneath the magical shadows he'd filled his hood with.

There was a Death Eater meeting in process. Voldemort noticed the shadowed hood as soon as it looked in and made an educated guess on who could get to his manor without using the Mark, :Thomas?: About half the hall glanced around in confusion. Their Lord had just looked like he might kill someone, but suddenly he looked much calmer.

Thomas smiled beneath his hood and inclined his head.

:My room. I will be there shortly,: Voldemort said, then turned back to his Death Eaters, many of whom were staring at the unknown figure in the back of the room. "How odd that you fools seem to find me suddenly less important," he commented dryly, then turned his wand on a Death Eater who didn't turn back around fast enough, "Crucio!"

Thomas rolled his eyes and left his mate to his fun. And it was fun, for Voldemort. Thomas never could understand why the man felt like he had to torture his people, but he knew it gave Voldemort some control over his temper when it really counted, so didn't bother telling the man to stop anymore. Honestly, one intense duel over that topic was more than enough.

Then again, any idiot who thought it was a grand thing to kneel before another deserved a little bit of being knocked around.

Thomas hissed his way through Voldemort's ward – set in Parseltongue so Voldemort's snakes could come and go as they pleased – and almost stepped on a fat brown tail.

:Who are you?: Nagini hissed suspiciously.

Thomas closed the door of the room behind him and pulled down his hood. :Thomas. I'm your human's mate.:

Nagini scented him with her tongue, then flipped her tail. :I don't like you. Get out,: she ordered.

:Don't you tell my human what to do, you fat old hag,: Kaz cut in.

Thomas groaned.

:What did you call me, you pathetic little pissant?!:

:You're a fat old hag. And the only creature other than me in this house who can tell Thomas what to do is your stupid snake-man.:

:Kaz...:

:You will not insult the master!: And Nagini reared to strike.

Thomas pulled out his wand. "Petrificus Totalus," he intoned, then gave his snake a dry look. :You have a death wish.:

Kaz huffed. :I don't. I just don't like others insulting you. Or telling you what to do. That's my job.:

:Since when have I ever listened to you?:

:Never,: Kaz admitted cheerfully. :But you don't listen to the stupid snake-man, either.:

:Maybe I should just feed you to Nagini,: Thomas muttered, settling himself in the chair he'd occupied the night before with Harry.

:What fun would that be?: Kaz asked with the air of one who knows that the threat is an empty one.

:Blessed silence,: Thomas deadpanned.

:The stupid mutt,: Kaz shot back.

:Sirius and I get on just fine, thank you.:

:Now that Remus is there.:

:Sirius and I got on just fine before Remus moved in.:

:Ah, and how many times did you hex him silent?:

:As I said, just fine. Perhaps I should hex you silent. Then I won't be concerned that I might have to duck another Killing Curse or a set of fangs.:

:You don't have to duck the Killing Curse,: Kaz replied cheerfully. :It can't hurt you. And the fat hag can't move fast enough to get me, anyway.:

:Ah, shall I end the curse on Nagini and let you prove your claim?: Thomas suggested, aiming his wand at the other snake.

:I'm comfortable where I am, thanks,: Kaz replied, and Thomas detected a hint of worry.

Thomas snorted and levitated Nagini's frozen form away from the door. :I suppose I'll leave her frozen until Voldemort gets back, then.:

:Whatever you think is best.:

:I also think it's best that you remain silent for the rest of our time here,: Thomas suggested.

:Annoying the stupid snake-man is my favourite past-time, though! You wouldn't ruin my fun, would you?:

:Right. Silencing Charm it is...:

:I'll shut up!: Kaz hissed loudly, then dived back under Thomas' robe.

Thomas chuckled. :That's what I thought. I might also remind you that the angrier Voldemort is, the more pain Harry will feel. No matter the distance.:

Kaz poked his head back out. :You're trying to guilt me into silence, aren't you?:

:Caught on to that, have you?:

:You can't get anything past me!:

:Ah, of course. Did it work?: Thomas inquired politely.

Kaz gave him an irritated look. :Yes,: he hissed darkly and disappeared back under Thomas' robe again.

Thomas smiled, then turned his attention to the other snake, who was glaring at him for all she was worth. :Nagini, let me make something clear. I don't care if you like me. I don't particularly care if you like Kaz, either. But your master invited me here and I have no intention of leaving. I also have no intention of allowing you to attack Kaz–:

:I knew it!:

: –though it's quite tempting right now.: Kaz huffed. :Nagini, you have two choices. You can either get over it and accept me, or I can start casting a general spell that petrifies all snakes every time I visit the manor. Not a particularly pleasant thing to happen during a Death Eater meeting, is it?:

If looks could kill, Thomas would have been six feet under already. As it was, he took Nagini's furious look to mean she chose the latter option and settled back into his chair with a sigh. :So be it.:

:...Thomas?:

:Yes, Kaz?:

:This spell–:

:Would affect you as well, yes.:

:Ah, bugger.:

Thomas snickered. :Yes, you might find it easier to just start staying at home.:

:How can I threaten the stupid mutt if you're not there to translate for me?!:

:Kaz, I think you get your threats across to Sirius rather well without my help,: Thomas replied dryly.

:But then you'd miss out on all the fun!:

:I'm sure I'd hear all about it when I got home.:

Kaz tried a different tactic, :But, how will I protect you if you leave me behind?:

:You're here to protect me? Since when?:

:Since you found me,: Kaz replied with a huff. :Duh.:

Thomas' lips twitched. :And here I was, thinking you were only around to drive me insane.:

:He's certainly here to drive me insane,: Voldemort offered as he stepped into the room and closed the door behind himself. :Did you have to bring him?:

:It's not as easy as you might think to leave him at home,: Thomas replied dryly. :You can defend yourself against him. Sirius I'm not so sure about.:

Voldemort smirked. :Of course.: Then he caught sight of Nagini and frowned. :You bound Nagini?:

Thomas winced. :Yes. She wasn't fond of my presence to begin with, and then Kaz started calling her names...:

Voldemort shot the albino snake a cold look. :I know curses that only affect snakes,: he threatened.

:She was being rude to Thomas!: Kaz replied, half-whinging.

:Of course she was!: Thomas said. :This is her home!:

:You introduced yourself as the stupid snake-man's mate!:

Voldemort ended the argument by shooting a quick Silencing Charm at Kaz, which earned him an amused and slightly grateful smile from Thomas. Then he turned to Nagini and got rid of Thomas' spell on her. :This is Thomas. He has free-range of the manor. I don't care if his little snake calls you something offensive, you will not attack either of them. Am I clear?:

Nagini inclined her head. :Yes, Master,: she said, though she didn't sound too happy about it.

:Good.: Voldemort turned back to Thomas. :Nagini, my familiar. You knew her from before?:

:Yes. And I knew how much she meant to you, or I wouldn't have simply bound her.: Thomas shrugged.

:I figured as much.: Voldemort settled into the chair across from Thomas. "Now then–"

"Ouch! Kaz!" Thomas expertly grabbed Kaz's head and forced the little snake to let go of his neck, then gave him a sharp look. :That bloody well hurt.:

Kaz hissed silently at him.

:No, I'm not taking the charm off. Behave.: Thomas settled the snake back around his neck. :And don't bite me again or I'll stuff you in a box for a week.: Then he glanced up to find Voldemort...gone...

A gentle touch with a wet towel against his neck made Thomas tense in surprise, then turn slightly to see Voldemort with a concerned look on his face. "Please tell me you had his venom sacks removed," the Dark Lord murmured.

"I'm immune," Thomas said and offered the other a faint smile. "His poison doesn't do anything to me."

"Immune?" Voldemort repeated, surprised.

Thomas nodded. "Yes. I got bit by the basilisk in the Chamber. Dumbledore's phoenix cried on the wound to heal me, but enough of the poison ended up in my blood marrow that it started changing the property of my blood. I've yet to find a poison that actually affects me."

Voldemort pulled the towel away and gave the fang wounds a critical look. Nodding, he turned to return the towel to the bathroom. Thomas had just turned back around when the man offered, "Don't scare me like that again."

Thomas turned back to watch Voldemort disappear into the bathroom. He closed his eyes. "No."

Voldemort swept back into the room and returned to his chair, looking for all the world like he hadn't just felt his heart stop. And, yes, he had a heart; no matter what everyone else said. He felt it beating every day. "So, we're here so you can mock me and I can yell without your nephew having to pretend his head doesn't hurt. Correct?"

"I have no intention of mocking you."

"Ah. And what was yesterday?" Voldemort sneered.

"Both of us losing our tempers," Thomas replied calmly.

"So I'm a grumpy prick when you lose your temper?" Voldemort asked coldly.

Thomas huffed. "You're always a grumpy prick, Voldemort, and you wouldn't be yourself if you weren't. I understand that. Your Death Eaters understand that. Hell, even Harry understands that. But not everyone accepts that."

Voldemort sneered again. "And your point is?"

"That you're not going to win more people over to your side unless you stop torturing everyone in sight."

"Of course. How stupid of me to have missed that part," Voldemort said sarcastically. "Do forgive me my moment of idiocy."

"Now you're being ridiculous."

"I'm what?"

"You're be– Damnit! Why are we bickering like a couple of children?"

Voldemort narrowed his eyes and leaned back in his chair

Thomas rubbed at the bridge of his nose. "Look, will you just hear me out?"

"Fine."

Thomas sighed. "There are a lot of magical families out there who don't like Dumbledore or the Ministry. There are even more that already hate the Ministry and would begin to dislike Dumbledore if given enough reason. However, none of those people are okay with being tortured every time they don't bow low enough, so they stay silent. Or they just don't believe in killing all the muggles to solve the problem with the weakening of magic. Those are all the neutral families; the McLaggens, Zabinis, Cornfoots and others.

"You'll find I also count myself among that list. I'd love to see the Ministry fall, and Albus Dumbledore's one of the last people I want near children, but I don't believe in killing all the muggles. For one, there's too many of them out there. Second, the incoming muggle-borns are a boon to our gene-pool. Their only real problem is that they often can't find good jobs, so they go back out to the muggle world and marry there. Which makes half-bloods who tend to be magically weaker."

"Muggles dilute our magic," Voldemort agreed. "That's why we need to kill them all."

"You're not listening."

"I've been listening! I've heard every bloody Gryffindor word out of your mouth!" Voldemort snapped.

"You've heard them, but do you understand them? No! Because you're a bloody prick," Thomas snapped back.

Voldemort snapped his wand out. "Crucio!"

Thomas gave him a faintly irritated look.

Voldemort sneered and crossed his arms over his chest.

"What I said, is that there's too many muggles to kill them all. And the occasional muggle-born is good for our world. It's when muggle-born witches and wizards marry muggles that we have fading magic. For goodness' sake, Voldemort, look at your own background. Your mother was little better than a squib, but she had you with Tom Riddle and you're one of the most powerful wizards around. We need fresh blood, or we'll eventually end up with a world of squibs."

"You want me to change everything I stand for," Voldemort surmised coldly.

Thomas huffed and shook his head. "I'm not so naïve as to think it would actually happen. Especially not any time soon. I'm just giving you the facts and hoping you actually think about them. Last time, you died before I could lay out these facts. This time, we're not even really at war yet because only your people and my family know you're back. We have time on our side." Unless Snape reports that Voldemort's back, Thomas added mentally. Then again, if that happened, he'd probably hear about the Order re-starting again and that would be that. At least they would have warning. Sort of.

Voldemort stood and walked over to the window. Thomas watched his silent form for a good three minutes before the Dark Lord murmured, "Harry's in pain."

Thomas closed his eyes. "Yes."

"You knew," Voldemort hissed, turning to give Thomas a sharp look.

"I did," Thomas admitted. "I also had Remus supply him with a headache potion. They help, though they don't get rid of the pain completely."

"You would know," Voldemort commented, glancing back out the window.

"Your anger hurts him. When you cast the Killing Curse, he'll always know. Occasionally, when you're angry and torturing someone, he'll see what's happening."

"...I'm sorry..."

Thomas sighed. "Occlumency helps, but he's not yet old enough to learn it. I can start teaching him when he's sixteen."

"And until then?"

"Keep the house stocked with headache potions," Thomas offered dryly. "Unless you can suddenly control your temper. Which we both know you can't – and don't give me that look."

Voldemort snorted. "What of amusement?"

"He'll know you're happy. Or amused. Whichever. If he's not feeling so great, it'll lift his mood." Thomas shrugged. "Your moods affect his. As far as I know, however, his moods won't bother you."

"It's nice to know that I won't suddenly start laughing in the middle of a meeting," Voldemort commented dryly.

Thomas smiled. "I don't know. If you're generally calm and he's having fun pranking someone, you might feel some of his amusement. Stronger emotions tend to override weaker ones. But, for some reason, your emotions are stronger than Harry's. At least, that's what we figured."

"If he starts pranking Dumbledore, I'll gladly start laughing every time I sense his amusement," Voldemort offered with a faintly evil smile.

Thomas chuckled. "I'll let him know. He'll probably start a game among his friends to see who can get Dumbledore the most times without getting caught."

Voldemort joined Thomas' quiet laughter. "I hope that makes the papers."

Thomas snickered. "I hope someone takes pictures, personally."

They traded amused looks and Voldemort returned to his chair. After a long moment of quiet amusement, Voldemort sighed and said, "You should probably return home."

Thomas blinked and cocked his head to one side. "Do you want me to?"

Voldemort blinked a few times. "Why?"

"Because I can stay."

The Dark Lord's lips twitched and he nodded. "Stay, then."

"As my Lord commands," Thomas replied, eyes bright.

Voldemort laughed.

-0-0-0-0-0-


The rest of the summer fell into a sort of pattern. Thomas worked during the week in his bookstore with Sirius and Remus. The children often came by for a visit, sometimes with their parents, sometimes without. The often all had lunch together, then the kids would run off into the city or return to one of their houses to do homework or play.

Fridays everyone showed up at Malfoy Manor for dinner and general good cheer. Thomas and Lucius came to a silent agreement to not talk about the Dark Lord, if only so Augusta could join them in Lucius' study while the others played or planned pranks.

On Saturdays, Thomas went to Slytherin Manor and stayed overnight. Occasionally, Lucius would run into him there, though he didn't always know it. Kaz was often left at home, much to the snake's irritation and Voldemort's relief, and Nagini took to avoiding Thomas completely.

On Sundays, Thomas spent time with Harry, Sirius and Remus. They played games or had minor prank wars. No one ever brought up Voldemort beyond Thomas making sure Harry was feeling okay when he got back in the morning. Thomas had also yet to tell Sirius or Remus about who he was, though he found time to mention the prophecy to all three of the others living in the house.

Dumbledore didn't reorganize the Order, though Remus commented one evening a couple of weeks into the summer that the Headmaster had asked Sirius and himself to report back to Dumbledore if Thomas started doing anything odd. When Thomas had cocked an amused eyebrow at him, Remus had said, "Visiting your mate isn't odd. We've nothing to report." Thomas had laughed and they'd left it at that.

Perhaps the most notable happening of the summer was when Hermione ran into Lucius' study one Friday in mid-August with a large book open in her hands and Harry, Neville and Draco following her with worried looks. Augusta gave the children stern questioning looks while Lucius groaned at the interruption of their political argument – the three had to find something to talk about, and it was often what was happening at the Ministry and how Fudge was fucking things up this time. Thomas just smiled at the children and said, "What is it, Hermione?"

Hermione handed the heavy book to Thomas. "We found this book in the Malfoy library. Is it true?"

Thomas blinked and glanced down at the page, vaguely aware of Lucius and Augusta both moving to read over his shoulders. The page the book was open to had a moving wood-cut of a figure casting magic over what appeared to be decades and the power slowly diminishing. Thomas glanced at the inscription beneath the wood-cut and found that the picture was trying to show the diminishing of magic due to muggle blood entering their world. "Yes and no," Thomas said after a moment.

"Of course it's true," Lucius argued.

"It's not," Augusta snapped, shooting the blond a chilled look.

Thomas rolled his eyes and offered the four worried children a smile. "The children of muggles who marry muggle-borns or half-bloods tend to be magically weaker than other magical children, yes. But a muggle-born who marries another who can use magic will have children just as magically capable as the child of two purebloods. Perhaps more magically powerful, if that pureblood family has only been marrying first or second cousins for centuries. If a pureblood who is from a family that constantly intermarries, marries a muggle, however, their child will often be extremely powerful. It's complicated."

"That's ridiculous!" Lucius spat.

Thomas gave his friend a dry look. "Four years ago, you would have said the same thing about side-along apparating more than one person at a time."

Lucius lips thinned. "Where's your study? Why haven't you published it?"

"Because there are too many idiots like yourself in high places that wouldn't let him!" Augusta said.

Thomas snorted. "Merlin, you two. There isn't a study."

Lucius and Augusta gave Thomas disbelieving looks while the children traded faint smiles. It was rare for them to catch Lucius and Augusta fighting without restraint.

"Thomas," Hermione said, "If there isn't a study, how do you know that book isn't right?"

Thomas smiled knowingly. "Because Voldemort is one of the most powerful wizards in our world and his father was a muggle."

"That's a lie!" Lucius snapped at the same time as the children said various forms of, "What?" while Augusta gave Thomas a disbelieving look.

Thomas glanced down at the book in his lap and glanced through it while Lucius completely flipped his lid. Augusta and the children moved back a bit as Lucius turned on Thomas with some rather colourful language and Thomas completely ignored him.

As soon as Lucius reached for his wand, Thomas pointed his own at his friend and offered him a warning look. "Don't even think about it."

Lucius sneered. "You dare to tell lies about the Dark Lord?"

Thomas cocked an eyebrow. "You're doing a damn good job of reminding everyone whose side you're on, Lucius."

Lucius' head shot up and he stared in horrified surprise at the four children, Augusta and the other five adults in the house who had all come to see what all the yelling was about.

Sirius huffed and leaned against the wall. "Because we didn't already know."

"Some of us were well on our way to forgetting," John said stiffly

"Yes, Mr Malfoy," Augusta cut in coldly. "You were a marvellous actor."

Thomas stood with a faint groan and set the book down in his chair. "Muggle-borns only weaken magic when they marry muggles, which tends to happen when they can't find jobs in our world because purebloods shun them. It's just like the hatred Remus faces for being a werewolf. I don't need to do a study on something that any idiot can track by looking through the public records in the Ministry. And the British records aren't the only ones I've looked at."

"Okay," Harry said with a smile, then turned to his friends. "Let's go back to the library."

"It's time for Neville and myself to return home," Augusta said.

Harry huffed. "I never forgot Lucius works for Voldemort, but I still trust him. So does Uncle Thomas. And I'm the person Voldemort most wants dead." He grabbed the book from Thomas' chair and headed for the door. Right before he exited the room, he turned and looked back at Augusta. "When Lucius turns me in, then you can turn on him all you want. Until then, I'd appreciate it if you'd keep in mind that you've all been friends for three years." Then he left.

Everyone stared after the fifteen-year-old for a long moment before they turned to Augusta, who had a stunned look on her face.

Thomas broke the silence by settling himself back into his chair and saying, "You're welcome to leave, Augusta."

Augusta cleared her throat and shot Lucius a sharp look. "Did Harry mean what I think he meant?"

"Depends on what you think he meant," Lucius replied coolly.

"That Voldemort has returned like Albus seems to think he has."

"Ah, so the old coot does think he's returned," Thomas mused.

Lucius glanced at Thomas with a flicker of concern and Augusta, catching the look, turned to Thomas. "Well?"

"Mmm. Yes, Voldemort's back," Thomas agreed.

"Oh, god..." Elizabeth whispered from near the door and leaned against her husband.

"Thomas?" Hermione whispered, eyes wide. Next to her, Neville looked like he might faint while Draco was pale.

"Voldemort and Thomas made a deal," Sirius offered with a bored look. "The ugly bastard won't harm any of us or the kids so long as we don't start anything with Voldemort or his people."

Thomas shot Sirius an amused look. "How do you know he's ugly?"

"Because he was ugly before," Sirius replied, then offered a grin.

"How many of you knew Voldemort was back?" Augusta demanded angrily.

Sirius, Remus, Thomas and Lucius raised their hands. When Augusta looked at Narcissa, she shook her head. Lucius hadn't informed his family.

"Why did you keep silent?" Augusta demanded, looking at Sirius and Remus, then glancing at Thomas. "And what could you offer an insane Dark wizard that would keep him away from Harry?"

"He's my mate," Thomas said simply.

Augusta drew in a sharp breath. Narcissa's eyes widened in understanding while Draco and Neville traded surprised looks. Hermione bit her lip, then said, "That's not fool-proof."

"No," Thomas agreed, eyes sad, "it's not."

"It doesn't need to be," Remus murmured. "The prophecy that originally had Voldemort wanting to kill Harry is largely void, so Harry's no longer a target. Which means Voldemort has no reason to attack Harry or any of us."

"Except those who choose to bow down to ugly," Sirius added with a grin in Lucius' direction.

Lucius sneered at the animagus. "Be careful, Black. A number of people still think you're a Death Eater."

Sirius bared his left arm. "Here's my proof. Where's yours?"

"Grow up," Thomas complained, covering his face with his hand. "Must you two always act like first years?"

"Yup," Sirius said while Lucius curled his lips in disgust.

Hermione cleared her throat and gave Thomas a worried look. "I'm a muggle-born," she reminded him, bringing them all back to the topic at hand.

"You're family," Thomas replied calmly. "And eventually, Voldemort will get his head out of his arse and believe me when I say that it's muggles marrying muggle-borns, not muggle-borns in general that weakens magic."

"You're trying to feed the Dark Lord the same junk you just tried feeding us?" Lucius asked dully.

Thomas huffed. "It's not junk, you prat. It's the truth. And he doesn't call me a liar when I say he's a half-blood." He shot Lucius a bored look.

"That's 'cause he is a half-blood," Harry interrupted as he walked back into the room. "He told me so before you lot started appearing in the graveyard," he added, looking at Lucius. Then he turned to Augusta. "Look. Lucius saved my life in the graveyard at the end of the Third Task, and I've spoken to Voldemort face-to-face since then. He's not going to hurt anyone here unless they start it, and even then he says he gets to decide whether we've 'started it' or not. It's not like he's out there killing people right now, is it? Uncle Thomas is talking some sense into him. Can we go back to the library now?"

"It's getting late," Remus slipped in. "Perhaps we should all head home and cool our heads a bit? Have lunch tomorrow?"

"We will have lunch tomorrow at our home," Augusta announced. "Neville, we're leaving."

"Alright, Gran," Neville whispered. He took a moment to hug Hermione, offer Draco a faint smile and squeeze Harry's shoulder before following his grandmother from the room.

Thomas sighed. "Sirius, Remus? Will you two help Elizabeth and John home?"

The two men traded looks, then nodded. "Sure. Let's get you lot home," Sirius said, motioning for Hermione to come with while herding Elizabeth and John out at the same time. Remus waited until Hermione had reached the door, then took her hand and led her out.

Harry settled himself on Thomas' lap while Draco took a hold of his mother's hand. "Is it true?" the blond boy asked his father and Thomas.

"That the Dark Lord is back?" Lucius inquired, dropping back into his chair. When Draco nodded, Lucius sighed. "Yes."

Draco bit his lip. "Hermione's my friend," he whispered.

"Mine too," Harry said softly. "I won't let him hurt her. Or John and Elizabeth. Right, Uncle Thomas?" Harry glanced back at Thomas.

Thomas nodded. "I won't let him hurt any of you," he offered firmly.

Lucius closed his eyes. "Thomas, please tell me the Dark Lord isn't a half-blood?"

"Do you want me to lie?" Thomas replied.

"No."

"Then I cannot."

"I see."

The five remained as they were for another few minutes before Harry sighed and stood. "Come on, Uncle Thomas. It's your bedtime."

"Is it, now?" Thomas asked with a faint smile as he, too, stood.

"Yup!"

"Ah, very well." Thomas nodded to Lucius. "Good night."

"Good night," Lucius replied quietly.

"It's not the end of the world," Thomas added.

"Isn't it?"

"We're still breathing, aren't we?"

Lucius' lips twitched. "Go home."

Thomas smiled and paused next to Draco and Narcissa to ruffle the boy's hair and kiss Narcissa's cheek. "Good night."

"Good night," Narcissa replied tightly. Draco nodded faintly, still pale.

Sadly, Harry and Thomas left the Manor together.

-0-0-0-0-0-


Saturday lunch was a tense affair. After a good hour of talking, Augusta agreed to not tell Dumbledore that Voldemort was back. It probably helped that Thomas commented that Dumbledore had been trying to use Legilimency on Harry. (Of course, that announcement – and the subsequent explanation for the benefit of the elder Grangers – set everyone off, since none of the children had told their parents about the incident at the end of the year.)

The truce among the group was a brittle thing, however, as shown by none of them being willing to go out for ice cream after dropping the children off at the platform. While the four children had just brushed the whole thing off and gone right back to being great friends and treating each of the adults the same as always, the eight adults had started treating each other as if they could explode at any moment, especially Augusta.

So, instead of ice cream, the Grangers, Malfoys, Augusta, Sirius and Remus all went home. Thomas apparated to Slytherin Manor to, hopefully, find comfort in the arms of his mate. (And if Voldemort wasn't willing to give comfort, Thomas was always open to a good old-fashioned duel.)

-0-

-0-


A/N: The end of this chapter was being a bother, so I bloody-well made it end. Don't particularly like it, but.... Meh.

The votes for Voldie ended up dividing themselves into three categories, instead of the original two. No, we're not re-voting. Votes largely tied for either making Voldie 'pretty' or finding some sort of middle-ground between 'pretty' and as he is now. I'm leaning more towards finding a middle-ground at this point, myself – my lovely Sevvie Snape is quite demanding, if you must know – so that's how it'll probably turn out. You all might like what I've got planned. I hope you like it, at any rate.

I think that's it. I still haven't scanned in the timeline. I'll get around to it eventually. XD

~Bats

Chapters:
Pro - To Face the Unknown / 1 - Two Potters
2 - Diagon Alley ||| 3 - Summer's End and Letters ||| 4 - The Trial
5 - Letters and Christmas ||| 6 - Dragons and Stones ||| 7 - The First Summer
8 - The Second Year ||| 9 - The Third Year ||| 10 - Fight For What You Believe In
11 - Thomas Potter ||| 12 - Plots and Plans ||| 13 - The Children's Hand
14 - ???
Incomplete

.

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