"Well, Mr. Potter," said the Minister of Magic to The Boy Who Lived, "you seem to be living up to your epithet as usual."
The tears on his face now dried in stiff lines, the boy glared at Fudge. He huddled further into the blanket and brought the teacup, held in both hands, closer to his face, as if the steam could warm him where nothing else could.
"I am sorry for your loss." Fudge shifted in his chair behind his desk. "Particularly for that of your godfather. But there are still questions I have to ask you."
"Then get on with it."
Hearing that coldness, Fudge had to keep reminding himself that the boy was only seventeen.
On the other hand, the circumstances at hand were highly suspicious.
"You tell me that none of you were working for You-Know-Who. That it was all a ruse to get close enough to kill him."
"That's right. How many more times do you want me to tell it?"
"I don't want you to tell it, Harry. I want some sort of confirmation."
"I don't have proof, you miserable motherfucker. I have four dead friends, that's what I have. Do you think I care if you believe me?"
Fudge took a sip from his own teacup, trying to calm himself. Only a boy. Keep telling himself that.
"All right, then. You haven't told us this: what reason did You-Know-Who have for believing you had come over to his side?"
Potter's _expression changed from a glare to a narrow-eyed smile. "Still can't say his name, can you, you petty bureaucrat?"
Now Fudge glared. "I have every reason not to want to attract his attention. I would think you'd feel the same."
Potter's stare challenged him for a moment. Then he turned his gaze down to the teacup. "We all had different reasons."
Harry stared into the teacup for a few moments before he began to speak. "Snape... Severus Snape had the simplest excuse. He was a Death Eater once, though he had left the Dark Lord's side years ago. He told Voldemort..."
Fudge shifted in his chair again, this time uncomfortably, at the boy's audacity in using the name. The brat smiled.
"...that he wanted back into the fold."
"And You-Know-Who was willing to believe him?"
"We'd thought so." He sipped tea.
"Remus Lupin was a werewolf. A dark creature. He told Voldemort he was tired of being persecuted by the wizarding world at large. Wanted to be on the winning side. And... Sirius..." The boy swallowed before he could go on. "Well. All those years in Azkaban. Does something to a man's mind, you know?"
He fell silent. Fudge wondered how much of that had been exaggerated for the Dark Lord's benefit...and how much of that was true. Azkaban. He suppressed a shudder. "And Dumbledore? Surely you didn't expect the Dark Lord to believe that Albus Dumbledore would go to his side?"
The boy gave another of those smiles. "Actually I thought he was extremely clever about that. His line was that he remembered the boy that Voldemort had been. That he believed if Voldemort would allow him to be by his side, he would not interfere with his plans, but could reach that hurt and traumatized boy, bring him back. Voldemort could do with him as he liked, if only he'd let Albus be by his side. Trying with nothing more than his love to reach him."
"You don't know Voldemort. It's just the sort of thing he'd eat up."
Harry stopped smiling.
At last: "I told him I just wanted to live."
He turned his face away, said bitterly, "It was easy to lie with the truth."
"But your plans went wrong."
Harry glared again. "What amazing powers of fucking observation you have, Fudge."
"You say it was Malfoy."
"Lucius Malfoy. Oh, such a loyal Death Eater. Yeah. He knew. Something tipped him off. I don't know what it was but it hardly matters now, does it?" Harry set the teacup down on Fudge's desk. "I saw his face, the way he smiled when Voldemort made his move and Albus was the first to die."
"And You-Know-Who is still alive."
"Yeah. That's right. We failed. All four of them are dead, and Voldemort's still alive. Voldemort's out there somewhere, still gunning for me. And all the rest of us who won't follow him. Voldemort's--"
"Would you please stop saying his NAME!" Fudge shouted.
Silence. Then a thin, steady chuckle.
"You think he's some bogeyman, don't you? Say his name, and watch him come out of the shadows. Oh, you give him so much power, you little terrified ferrets. Like he's a myth, not just a wizard. He loves that. That was his greatest trick, you know. Convincing the world he was dead for all those years. Now that he's back, it's like he's unstoppable, uncatchable. Swoops in to do his black work, and like that, he's gone."
The boy stood. Shrugged off the blanket. "I'm going now."
"No. Harry, don't. We can keep you safe. You could tell us so much about Vol-- You-Know-Who's methods..." Damn, the boy almost had him doing it. "If you work with us--"
"Bullshit. I have no chance if I stay here. My only chance is to disappear. I may just be a kid, but I'm not stupid. You can't protect me, Fudge."
"What chance do you have on your own?" Fudge almost spluttered.
"I'll manage. Like I have all these years. I'm The Boy Who Lived, remember? And that's all I want now. If you don't hear about my death at Voldemort's hands... then my guess is you're never going to hear from me again."
The door closed behind the boy.
Fudge reached into his desk, uncapped the flask of red currant rum and poured a sizeable shot into his teacup with shaking hands. Hearing You-Know-Who's name so many times in one day was almost as unnerving as the flat look that had been in the boy's eyes.
He rose, picked up the discarded blanket.
Something was under it. A book.
Fudge picked it up, turned it over in his hand. The boy must have left it. Why hadn't he taken it with him?
Fudge looked at the name on the cover: T. M. Riddle. Now, why did that seem somehow familiar?
He turned to look at the wall behind him. Pictures and certificates hung there, framed behind glass. Fudge found himself drawn to his Hogwarts's class picture, which he was used to looking at solely to remind himself of what a good looking young man he'd been once.
There, under the R's in Slytherin: Tom Marvolo Riddle. A dark-haired young man whose face did not seem all that remarkable to him.
He stood very still, looking at the structure of that unusual middle name.
And then the teacup dropped out of his hand and shattered on the floor.
"Potter! Did he come this way?"
"The boy with the scar! Did he come this way?!"
"Why-- I think he's gone, Minister Fudge, out that door..."
Cornelius Fudge let out an expletive he was not accustomed to using as he bolted out the door.
Harry Potter, hands in the pockets of his leather jacket, quickened his step as he turned down the street that would lead him away from the Ministry and into London proper.
Emerging onto Regent Street, he paused to light a cigarette. Inhaling the smoke, he rubbed at the scar on his forehead with his other hand. The lightning-bolt shaped mark faded into nothingness.
A Lexus two-door, black as sin, pulled up next to him. Harry grinned and flicked the cigarette into the gutter as the darkened window descended just far enough to let him see the driver.
He approached on the driver's side. "Shove over. I want to drive."
Sliding behind the wheel as Lucius Malfoy obediently crawled into the passenger side, Harry pulled the door shut and dropped the car into first. Lucius smiled, leaned over as the car pulled away from the curb, and let his hand move over Harry's denim-clad crotch.
"Go on," said The Boy Who Lived. "You know you want to."
Needing no further urging, Lucius unzipped the boy's jeans and drew out his master's already-rising cock, bending down to take that girth into his mouth as he began to do what he did best.
Harry smiled and accelerated the car, hoping Lucius wouldn't hit his head on the fucking steering wheel.
Oh, yeah, he thought as Lucius's tongue pressed against the underside of his cock. Some forms of muggle transport just beat portkeys all for shite.
The rising window briefly reflected the pudgy minister's bewildered face as Fudge stared around the crowded roundabout that was Piccadilly Circus.
And like that, he was gone.
(with apologies to Keyser Soze)