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Crux of the Matter

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Voldemort stared at the young man that was supposedly prophesied to be his downfall. He ignored the appearance of the Minister and the other Ministry people as the unusual three way stand off between Harry, Dumbledore, and Voldemort continued.

"Well, this changes things," Voldemort said bluntly, breaking the pregnant silence. "Dumbledore, either we sort this all out now legally and peacefully or you will have a blood feud on your hands personally against at least three Noble houses if not more. That is to say nothing of the fact that I will have to kill a great many people to simply leave here and the war will have returned in earnest."

"Are you saying that you would be willing to avoid a return to open warfare?" a strong commanding woman's voice, which Harry recognized from his trial as Madam Bones, demanded. Harry glanced over towards the crowd from his position still on the floor and confirmed that the woman pushing through the crowd to the front was indeed Madam Bones.

"Madam, I never wanted war in the first place but I saw no other choice in keeping us alive as a people. The advances in the Muggle world have threatened our society since the London Blitz and have only gotten more dangerous as the years moved on. Either we take their increasing skill into account or we announce ourselves now and hand over our wands to the muggles, forsaking magic entirely. What I have done thus far even including everything before being reborn is nothing to what the muggles can do with a single bomb, much less a full out attack. I had to grow up watching that after all and seeing the devastation even if I was at Hogwarts during the worst of it," Voldemort said bluntly. "If I thought I could get a certain number of non-negotiable concessions met I would happily end the war between the Light and Dark factions right here and now."

"You are actually sounding sane," Harry said suspiciously as he got to his feet somewhat gingerly.

"Blame the scar I gave you. It actually holds something which helps my sanity... It also proves that I have to retrieve most of the others and reabsorb them if I want to stay sane. Damn it, the text said nothing about insanity being a side effect of that bloody ritual!" Voldemort groused with morbid amusement. "It also, incidentally, makes you my heir which in turn automatically makes me your legal guardian now that I am aware of the situation. Something that Dumbledore has obviously been desperate to hide or else you never would have been left with muggles. Don't think I didn't notice the ache of blood magic and dark magic saturating whatever mark that is on your hand or how thin you are. We will be fixing that."

"This is going to be one of those weirdly confusing wizarding things isn't it?" Harry asked in resignation.

"Since no one has seen to your wizarding education beyond what you learn in class at Hogwarts, probably," Voldemort agreed ruefully. The brief possession of the young man in front of him had been more than enough to learn about his lack of exposure to anything magic before Hogwarts and place worrying doubts on the general care he received at home. "We will have to fix your education as well but to avoid future issues I declare all marriage contracts for you that do not predate your birth are null and void under the Corrupt Guardian law."

A white glow immediately surrounded the three wizards. The ones around Harry and Voldemort turned gold in confirmation as the one around Dumbledore turned into a sickly tar-like black mist that had him choking for the thirty seconds it took to dissipate. Conveniently Dumbledore also seemed to be unable to talk after the mist went away but he also seemed otherwise unharmed. Only a proper check by a healer would be able to rule if anything else had been done to the man. He also seemed to be locked into a three foot or so wide area and was unable to move towards Harry when he tried moments later.

"Well, it seems I was right to jump the gun as it were and cancel any current contracts," Voldemort said, arching his non-existent eyebrow in Dumbledore's direction.

"You do realize that invoking the Corrupt Guardian Law and having it confirmed requires several more steps?" Madam Bones reminded him cautiously as she barely avoided glaring at Dumbledore.

"A full health work up by Gringotts, a review of any and all resources that belong to him since Dumbledore took custody, and a review of how he gained custody. Not to mention the regular check ups on his living conditions with me by the Goblins as a neutral party for no less than six months. Something which can only be ended at the discretion of the Goblin Nation or a year after his majority in both worlds. I must cover his schooling and health costs as a basic part of his presence as my ward and heir just as any parent does. I will also provide what protection I may until he can defend himself when he takes up his own titles," Voldemort agreed. "Investigation of his previous home life by both the goblins and the Ministry will be conducted in a timely manner so that it will not be lingering over his head upon reaching his majority. The goblins will be the ones in charge of teaching him about his assets and only the goblins or Harry himself can in any way access his resources from now on until after he hits his majority."

"Titles?!" Harry squeaked in low level panic as he hastily protested. "But I'm just Harry! I don't have any real titles! The weird media ones don't count!"

Voldemort and Madam Bones exchanged a long look that was a mix of concern and resignation. There was absolutely no way to hide any of this and it was very clear by his responses alone that Harry had no idea what his position in the wizarding world or his heritage even was.

"Before this goes further... will separating you from Mr. Potter for any length of time put your returned sanity at risk?" Madam Bones asked cautiously. Voldemort's wince immediately had her heart sinking.

"Possibly," Voldemort conceded. He hadn't thought of that until she brought it up. "As such I must request aid in retrieving certain things and performing several reversal rituals to avoid becoming... no, returning to being a threat to the people at large and to allow for peaceful, sane, discourse. I do not want to go back to being unable to tell friend from foe but I will also not back down on insisting that we need tighter security or to move out of the British Isles entirely as a people. I also must formally admit that I performed the first ritual at 16 and was not aware of the full effects or implications. Thankfully, as I am literally in a new body I can not be charged for misunderstanding what I had read as a student and performing the ritual that started my insanity. I would have done my best to go about things with far less bloodshed had that first ritual never been performed. I can not tell you if I would have performed the ritual or not had I fully understood it and I remind you that many a teenager makes stupid choices despite and/or because of the consequences."

Throughout all of this Harry watched with wary caution and wondered if he was either going to be expelled or killed today. He took absolutely no notice of his own injuries and tried not to think of his friends still down in the Department of Mysteries with various Order Members and Death Eaters. Bellatrix, largely unnoticed due to her intentionally quiet fade into the background finally, for the first time in more than a decade, let go of her battle persona and collapsed. Voldemort, noticing the movement instinctively cast and caught her as she fell.

"Is she alright?" Harry asked, oddly uncertain if he should be worried over the woman who had killed his godfather, her own cousin.

"I think she just ended her full immersion streak in her battle persona. Blacks are notoriously descended from Norse and Celtic Berserkers," Voldemort answered absently as he checked over his faithful follower. "I have absolutely no idea how they managed to be descended from berserkers of both the Norse and Celtic peoples but they managed it. Since she's been in a berserker state for effectively going on 16 years I have no doubt that she is going to be horrified by practically any memories she will have retained from her battle persona. She first entered her battle persona when an Auror killed her baby in front of her inside their home. The man obviously didn't survive long afterwards and I doubt that anyone with him survived either. I could never get a clear answer out of her as to what had happened beyond that."

"You mean to tell me she has been trapped reliving her baby's murder all this time?!" Madam Bones asked in horrified shock. She didn't even try to shift the blame off of one of her previous department members, the man was already dead after all, there was no point.

"Precisely," Voldemort agreed grimly, sending her a mirthless smile. "I have absolutely no doubt that one of the reasons she attacked the Longbottoms was not just to find me but because he was an Auror. I was one of the people keeping her from simply trying to slaughter anyone from the ministry or their families that she might meet. Something which I now find highly ironic as I obviously wasn't sane myself. A state I would like to fix permanently as quickly as possible if you please."

The still magically trapped and silenced Dumbledore had to watch on in helpless horror as all of his work to fight against Voldemort and control Harry unraveled in front of his very eyes. The largely silent audience of ministry workers barely registered even as they turned an increasing number of hostile looks in his direction. Hadn't he, Albus Dumbledore, been the first to advocate against this man and push for tactics that increased the number of dead on both sides while spouting peace? Hadn't young Harry been taken away by the Headmaster as well before the ministry could properly place him with a loving magical family? A fact that had been alternately cursed and lamented about by many a worker and head in multiple departments for various reasons. Had not Dumbledore denied all access to the young wizard while also speaking for him since the Potter's death? If the Dark Lord could now see something so clearly wrong with the situation and his sanity being at least temporarily fixed was there something actually wrong? Had they hurt their young hero somehow?

In the end none of it mattered as Harry started to collapse and Voldemort felt his magic pulling him to Harry's side. Laying the unconscious, but largely unharmed, Bellatrix down on the floor next to them he checked a kneeling Harry over before giving into his magic's insistent urging and drawing the younger wizard into his arms. Together their magic spiked high only to come down and cocoon the pair in wraps of golden spider silk like magic. A second ring of power fell down around them in a circle that kept Bellatrix at their side and transfigured the floor around them into dangerous crystal-rock spikes, forming a perimeter that gave clear warning not to approach. No one dared to even try to get near the magical formation as they were chivied back into motion. Dumbledore was quickly arrested on charges of Guardian neglect with pending charges of both abuse and misappropriation of resources from his charge.

Three hours later, almost everyone had been made to go about their business and the two raid parties were found and seen to - most of those involved in both parties had needing some sort of medical care. Those who hadn't needed medical care had to give some sort of explanation for their presence. None of them were released pending the outcome of the cocoon in the Atrium, whatever that might be.

The area inside the crystal-rock circle of spikes started to glow purple at the three and a half hour mark.

Chapter Text

Inside the glowing cocoon of power Harry felt safe for the first time in all of his life after his parent's death, properly and truly safe. A low teenage voice crooned near his ear as a more mature voice surrounding him hummed in counter point. The voice of the teenager gradually faded away as the mature voice grew stronger eventually blending into one voice. At that point Harry somehow just knew that whatever had been left of the diary was once more joined with Voldemort and he wasn't afraid.

"Rest, my little hatchling. Rest and know that you are safe," Tom Riddle, Voldemort, promised softly. Harry faded back into sleep, accepting the promise of safety.

Bellatrix Lestrange nee Black mentally hovered just outside the magical cocoon that held her Lord and a child she had tried to harm in her previously berserk state. She knew that when the unusual protective cocoon magic ended she would find herself accepting the young man as if he had been born from her body and of her blood. In an odd sort of detached way she was glad of it. Part of it was the magic binding her as his protector. Yet even without the influence of the magic she didn't think she would mind all that much now that her mind had snapped back to sanity. The teen was a black by blood after all through his grandmother on his father's side and should have been taken under the family wing. She knew that Dumbledore was largely to blame for that, keeping the young wizard from his magical family, keeping him isolated and ignorant. It would be a cold day in hell before she would let the crafty old bastard near her little Harry again.

Voldemort was glad for what had just happened. He had gotten the diary shard back, healing his soul back together, and knew that the young wizard who he had been trying to kill as a threat was now his charge... his son. Harry was battered and bruised in more ways than one. He could feel the deformed bones of badly healed broken ribs as well as a lack of proper nutrition allowing the ribs to be easily felt under his fingers. The quidditch born muscle tone wasn't enough to hide the fact that Harry had missed too many meals in his life. The magic had healed him but not Harry. The Dark Lord wanted to know why

"Because you needed it more, restructuring and replacing your whole body. You will also need the proof to avoid him being taken from you," the magic whispered into his mind. "Break the mind twisting enchantments on Severus Snape and force him to see the damage to his young master."

"Master?" Voldemort asked carefully.

"The only reason I have not triggered the life debt he owes Harry and the Unbreakable Vow of protection of Harry is that he is under outside influence. He is being forcibly kept from properly fulfilling his duties. I want the outside leash gone before I hand down judgement or offer to let Harry release him," the voice whispered harshly. It was clear that the magic was not happy. "Even simply making him Harry's eternal slave would be less than the full measure."

"If he harms Harry..." Voldemort threatened protectively, possessively clutching the sleeping form more tightly against his own renewed form. The magic chuckled into his mind.

"I will trust you, my Dark Lord, to punish him appropriately," the magic whispered happily, leaving behind the impression of a kiss on his forehead before disappearing. In short order the cocoon began to open like a flower as a pathway formed out of the flowing crystal spikes and shards of hard light that had made up part of the cocoon.

Voldemort stood up, a limp Harry in his arms. His eyes remained ruby red but his original human form at roughly age 30 was returned to him. Bellatrix calmly, carefully rose to her feet at his left side. Her own healing had helped her deal with the memories of 16 years in a berserker state and allowed her to accept Harry as her son. It was unknown to her if Harry actually was her own child, simply stolen away with an illusion of his death, but the magic had decided that she was to be his mother. It eased the still raw grief of her own son's murder for even if it had been only an illusion and the baby survived she still effectively saw her child executed in front of her that day.

"What happened in there?" Madam Bones asked carefully as she approached the trio.

"Magic decided to replace Harry's parents. Apparently, she took my claim of him as my Heir seriously," Voldemort chuckled, cradling Harry protectively close to his chest. "I have accepted him as my son just as Bellatrix has, or at least she has accepted him as family. We have a few other tasks as repayment for everything but Lady Magic acknowledged me as her official Dark Lord of magic. Harry's poor condition was left alone so that you could gain the evidence necessary and because Lady Magic deemed my condition in greater need of healing than Harry's for whatever reason."

"We are both quite sane," Bellatrix assured her. The now went unstated.

"I will need to ask all three of you to be examined by healers and I will need certain official statements. That said, do you still require Mr. Potter's proximity or the aid of my Aurors in correcting whatever affected your sanity?" Madam Bones asked sternly.

"Medically speaking I might not actually need Harry close or your aid any more. Legally and for safety reasons I do not believe that it is a good idea if we separate or delay in retrieving the things I need to reverse my previous poor decision. I do not relish finding out if my current state is temporary because we did not take steps to correct my previous one," Voldemort admitted with open distaste. "I will accept the medical exams as long as you understand I will not accept being separated for long from Harry. Any official statements beyond what applies to the immediate situation will have to wait. I am willing to give a public interview at some point to avoid letting the public panic... presuming you continue to be sensible about all of this."

"Your mind and soul are your own, my precious Dark Lord," magic whispered laughingly through the room as Voldemort's ruby eyes widened in shock along with everyone else.

"... Medically I no longer need your or Harry's aid," Voldemort reiterated after the voice once more disappeared.

"Then we should get you all examined and everything documented," Madam Bones insisted quickly. "Anything else, beyond your Auror escort, can wait."

"Lead on Madam," Voldemort agreed, amused at the continuing caution. Yes, he and Bella were incredibly dangerous when they chose to be but, for the moment, he did not choose to do anything except see to Harry.

They were in St. Mungoes before the hour was up.