The Sugar Quill
Author: R.V. Crouch  Story: Aftermaths  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

The scream of fury was followed by a rigid silence. None of the Death Eaters twitched a muscle.

They all stood patiently, quietly watching the Dark Lord, waiting to see his reaction to what had just happened...and for an explanation. No one, however, dared ask for one. A Death Eater who had been hit by Harry's Impediment Jinx was just recovering.

The silence continued for a few more seconds.

Finally, Lord Voldemort, with his wand lowered, walked toward the spot where, moments before, Harry Potter had grabbed the Portkey and disappeared instantly.

His pitiless red eyes were seething. The Dark Lord was, however, not merely dealing with rage; he was also contemplating the event that had just occurred with his wand and the boy's. At the time that it had happened he had been too astonished to make true sense of it. The regurgitation of his victim's shadows had removed that astonishment and made way for something else...something that made Voldemort momentarily sick when he now thought about it...he couldn't deny it...he had actually been...afraid.

These thoughts passed through the Dark Lord's mind in a fleeting instant. They soon made way for something else. The presence of his Death Eaters came back to him. He felt their eyes on his back.

Even though he knew that they wouldn't dare question him or raise a doubt concerning his power, he knew without a doubt himself that that indeed would be the issue coursing through their minds.

Lord Voldemort turned and blankly surveyed his servants. He walked forwards and those in front of him scattered slowly like frightened sheep. With a small wave of his wand he signaled for his Death Eaters to surround him. They obediently did so.The coldness that the air had borne when Voldemort had delivered his speech to the Death Eaters had now been replaced by an atmosphere of fear so overwhelming that it threatened to glue his servants to the ground.

Voldemort let the silence work to his advantage. He briefly weighed his position. When he finally spoke, it was but two words, "Priori Icantatem."

The Death Eaters waited for him to continue. Voldemort did. "The boy apparently possesses a wand that bears the same core as mine...a phoenix feather from the same bird. How he has such a wand is intriguing. But when two such wands duel each other the result is what you just witnessed."

"So," said Voldemort softly, "once again, Harry Potter escapes me by a lucky chance."

The undertone on the words 'lucky chance' was subtle, yet forceful. The Death Eaters didn't miss it. They nodded fervently to show that they understood and acknowledged his point.

"However, I am quite sure," hissed Voldemort in his cold sibilant voice, "that some of you seriously question the existence of my former power."

The Death Eaters shook their heads quickly.

"Perhaps a slight display of the same would be required to quash these doubts," said Voldemort, completely ignoring the uneasiness that was becoming quite apparent in the circle.

A Death Eater broke forward from the circle and knelt before Voldemort. "Master," he said, "I, for one, don't require further proofs of your immense power. My Lord, you've already proved yourself to be mightier than any wizard alive. You have conquered death and returned to us. I, at least, will follow you unswervingly in your quest for the rise of the Dark Order."

Lord Voldemort looked down at the Death Eater who had spoken.A sneer formed and maintained itself on his serpent like face.

"Of course, Nott," said Voldemort, "I could expect no less from you".

A smile formed on Nott's face, partially hidden by the mask.

"No less from a creature who abandoned me for thirteen years and says I more times in a sentence than the very incarnation of conceit."

The hidden smile on Nott's face vanished.

The Dark Lord looked up from the Death Eater and said, "Take your place Nott. Mere words will not make you a faithful servant of Lord Voldemort."

Nott stood up with all the dignity he could muster and resumed his place in the circle. It occurred to him as he did so that the Dark Lord should be the last person to criticize one for being vain.

The Dark Lord's gaze swept the circle quietly. He waited for one of his servants to say something. Finally, another figure stepped forward slightly from the circle.

Voldemort stared shrewdly at him and whispered, "Yes Lucius?"

Lucius Malfoy spoke swiftly but with a slight hesitancy betraying the lack of his usual confidence. "My Lord, forgive me for raising this issue, but it is a matter that greatly concerns me. That meddlesome fool Potter overheard you address some fellow Death Eaters and myself directly by our names. Potter will undoubtedly inform that Mudblood-loving Headmaster and the Ministry of your restoration to power and our names while doing so."

Voldemort's eyes flickered, but he gave a very thin smile. Lucius Malfoy, however, looked wary. He knew that the Dark Lord's expressions could be deceiving. Voldemort noticed that four of the Death Eaters in the circle were fidgeting uncomfortably; Avery, Nott, Crabbe, and Goyle. Clearly this had not occurred to them. Voldemort was not surprised; knowing well that they were not quick. Macnair, he observed, was still standing stolidly. The Dark Lord was aware that Walden Macnair's composure rarely cracked. He was a Death Eater who derived extreme pleasure from violence and torture; a quality that appealed to the psychopathic tendencies of Lord Voldemort himself. As for Malfoy's evident concern for his own skin; he chose to ignore it entirely.

"Indeed, Lucius," said Voldemort," it was not my desire for the wizarding world to learn of my rebirth in such a manner. I would have preferred the element of surprise. Be that as it may, it is futile to dwell on what might have been. I consider it imperative, however, that the boy be killed"

He paused.

"It is possible of course that my faithful servant at Hogwarts will take the matter into his own hands and dispose of him," he said slowly.

"Who is this servant, master?" asked Malfoy.

"That, Lucius, is hardly information that I would be willing to disclose to you yet," hissed Voldemort in a quiet tone.

Malfoy comprehended and fell silent.

"As I said", continued Voldemort, "I want repayment for your lack of loyalty before I deem it fit to place you in my inner circle again Lucius. As for your name coming to the notice of the Ministry as that of a Death Eater, I only see it as retribution for thirteen years of renouncement ...and so should you."

Malfoy bowed his head quietly. He then looked up again and said, "My Lord, I was merely pointing out that my apprehension would jeopardize putting my resources to your disposal."

Lord Voldemort threw his head back and laughed mirthlessly. "My cunning friend, you've always been able to tailor words to your advantage. I admire that. And unlike Wormtail here, you're not incessantly subservient to the point of making one retch."

Suddenly, Voldemort drew out his wand. Lucius Malfoy flinched.

"That is not altogether wise. Do not test me, Lucius."

Malfoy stepped back into the circle.

Voldemort surveyed him for a few more seconds before letting his eyes move skywards. "So Death Eaters," he said, "for the time being I suggest you return to your abodes and feign ignorance. It should not be too difficult. You already have a decade's worth of practice. I will summon you again in the near future. Be ready. Wormtail, you'll stay. Lucius, I would like a last word with you."

The Death Eaters surrounding Voldemort began Disapparating, their cloaks swishing in the stillness of the night.

Finally, only two Death Eaters remained. Lord Voldemort approached Lucius Malfoy and stood before him. Malfoy was a tall man but still quite a few inches shorter than the Dark Lord. Voldemort observed him quietly before speaking. "If my memory serves me correctly Lucius, which I am sure it does, you had a son about a year old the time I fell, did you not?"

Malfoy drew a quick breath before answering clearly, "Yes, my Lord. He's now fourteen and at Hogwarts."

"Hogwarts, Lucius?" said Voldemort, his face bearing mock puzzlement, "why place your son at a school run by a 'Mudblood-loving Headmaster'?"

"It was my wife's decision, master. I personally wanted him at Durmstrang. They are much more liberal in their curriculum and more conservative in their admissions. However, the idea of him so far away tormented her." He said the last words with a sneer.

"Durmstrang? My faithful servant at Hogwarts tells me that its Headmaster is Igor Karkaroff," said Voldemort.

"Yes, my Lord," replied Malfoy.

"A coward," said Voldemort," he will pay. "He spoke more to himself than to his minion. "As for your son, Lucius", he continued, "I would like to meet him".

"Why, my Lord?" asked Malfoy quickly. The words shot out of him before he could stop them. The Dark Lord was rarely questioned. He was usually obeyed. Lucius bit his lip behind the mask.

"Because Lucius," said Voldemort with his soft cold tone, "I would like to."

The Dark Lord did not intend to let Lucius Malfoy know just then as to why he wished to meet his son. Voldemort derived pleasure from observing discomfort or pain, be it physical or emotional, in his enemies or his servants. Even his faithful servants were at times subjected to this treatment, though less frequently. To Voldemort, Malfoy's son served as a useful link to the interior of Hogwarts. His faithful servant Bartemius had already informed him that the heirs of some of his former Death Eaters attended Hogwarts. Lucius's son was amongst them; Crabbe,Goyle,Parkinson, and Nott being a few of the others. Voldemort chose to use Malfoy because he knew that unfaithful and essentially cowardly though Lucius may be, he was cunning...and his son was more than likely to have inherited his father's cunning.

Malfoy bowed his head and said quietly, "Yes, my Lord. I shall bring him to your command."

Voldemort smiled. Even though Malfoy was nothing more than one of his servants, there was a satisfaction to be gained in seeing a man as proud as Lucius bend. "Very good. You may go, Lucius".

Malfoy Disapparated. Now, only Voldemort and Wormtail stood upon the cemetery grounds. Voldemort seemed to completely ignore Wormtail's presence. He turned and looked up, surveying the night sky with its twinkling stars set against the jet-black background. The anger that had coursed through him after Harry Potter had escaped had still not dissipated. It smouldered. He had subdued it in front of his Death Eaters. He knew that an undue display of anger was not a sign of strength...but of weakness. However, the fury behind being overpowered by a fourteen year old boy in a duel, was threatening to overwhelm him. He felt like torturing someone with the Cruciatus...killing someone with his Killing Curse.

He stared into the darkness and uttered, "You'll die Harry Potter. You and all you care for."

There was a slithering and hissing and Voldemort looked down. Nagini was twisting herself gently at his feet.

He hissed at it, "I have been away far too long Nagini."

The serpent hissed and spat as it slowly and smoothly began to climb Voldemort's tall frame.Voldemort stood unperturbed for a few moments before silently walking over to the large Yew tree.A breeze had developed and it quietly rippled through the graveyard causing a few leaves to fall upon the Dark Lord's softly billowing robes. His gaze fell upon the small church in the distance.

"This time however," he hissed, "This time I will unleash such terror that will make Grindelwald look like a choir boy."

He signaled to Wormtail. Lord Voldemort drew his wand and together with his petrified servant and slithering pet, he Disapparated.

The gentle breeze continued to blow through the yard; the dust of the late Tom Riddle's bone mingled with the blood of the Dark Lord's servant. These along with the giant cauldron were the only signs that 'He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named' had risen again...for the time being.

Disclaimer: None of its mine. It's all JKR's.

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