"Your wand, Lucius. I require your wand."
Malfoy glanced sideways at his wife. She was staring straight ahead, quite as pale as he was, her long blonde hair hanging down her back, but beneath the table her slim fingers closed briefly on his wrist. At her touch, Malfoy put his hand into his robes, withdrew a wand, and passed it along to Voldemort, who held it up in front of his red eyes, examining it closely.
"What is it?"
"Elm, my Lord," whispered Malfoy.
"And the core?"
"Dragon - dragon heartstring."
"Good," said Voldemort. He drew out his wand and compared the lengths. Lucius Malfoy made an involuntary movement; for a fraction of a second, it seemed he expected to receive Voldemort's wand in exchange for his own. The gesture was not missed by Voldemort, whose eyes widened maliciously.
"Give you my wand, Lucius? \iMy\i wand?"
Some of the throng sniggered.
"I have given you your liberty, Lucius, is that not enough for you? But I have noticed that you and your family seem less than happy of late \a133 What is it about my presence in your home that displaces you, Lucius?"
"Nothing - nothing, my Lord!"
"Such \ilies\i Lucius \a133 "
The soft voice seemed to hiss on even after the cruel mouth had stopped moving. One or two of the wizards barely repressed a shudder as the hissing grew louder; something heavy could be heard sliding across the floor beneath the table.
The huge snake emerged to climb slowly up Voldemort's chair. It rose, seemingly endlessly, and came to rest across Voldemort's shoulders: its neck the thickness of a man's thigh; its eyes, with their vertical slits for pupils, unblinking. Voldemort stroked the creature absently with long thin fingers, still looking at Lucius Malfoy.
"Why do the Malfoys look so unhappy with their lot? Is my return, my rise to power, not the very thing they professed to desire for so many years?"
"Of course, my Lord," said Lucius Malfoy. His hand shook as he wiped sweat from his upper lip. "We did desire it - we do."
To Malfoy's left, his wife made an odd, stiff nod, her eyes averted from Voldemort and the snake. To his right, his son, Draco, who had been gazing up at the inert body overhead, glanced quickly at Voldemort and away again, terrified to make eye contact.
"My Lord," said a dark woman halfway down the table, her voice constricted with emotion, "it is an honor to have you here, in our family's house. There can be no higher pleasure."
She sat beside her sister, as unlike her in looks, with her dark hair and heavily lidded eyes, as she was in bearing and demeanor; where Narcissa sat rigid and impassive, Bellatrix leaned toward Voldemort, for mere words could not demonstrate her longing for closeness.
"No higher pleasure," repeated Voldemort, his head tilted a little to one side as he considered Bellatrix. "That means a great deal, Bellatrix, from you."
Her face flooded with color; her eyes welled with tears of delight.
Harry led them all back into the kitchen where wow gold, laughing and chattering, they settled on chairs, buy cheap wow dold, sat themselves upon Aunt Petunia's gleaming work surfaces, or leaned up against her spotless appliances; Ron, long and lanky; Hermione wow gold, her bushy hair tied back in a long plait lord of the rings gold; Fred and George, grinning identically; Bill, badly scarred and long-haired; Mr. Weasley, kind-faced, balding, his spectacles a little awry; Mad-Eye, battle-worn, one-legged, his bright blue magical eye whizzing in its socket; Tonks, whose short hair was her favorite shade of bright pink; Lupin, grayer, more lined; Fleur, slender and beautiful, with her long silvery blonde hair; Kingsley, bald and broad-shouldered; Hagrid, with his wild hair and beard WOW Power leveling, standing hunchbacked to avoid hitting his head on the ceiling; and Mundungus Fletcher, small, dirty, and hangdog, with his droopy beady hound's eyes and matted hair. Harry's heart seemed to expand and glow at the sight: He
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