Authors Note: Something's come up, and I basically have a deadline to finish this story by. So you might be noticing I am updating much more regularly than usual (which isn't saying much, considering I tend to go like ten years between updates). Even if I don't finish this on time, I'll be posting what I planned to have happen. But fingers crossed, I'll finish it! Thanks for the reviews and subs, you guys are the best.
Warning: Disturbing sexual scenes, torture of children.
Harry was slowly becoming accustomed to life in the Malfoy Manor. Much like the growing acquaintanceship he was feeling towards Voldemort, this sought to scare him. He knew he should not feel comfortable in the confines of the manor, that his every waking moment should be trained on finding a way to escape, or at least get information about the outside world, but he couldn't deny what was happening. If Harry had learnt anything during these weeks, it was that he alone should be honest with himself, because it was not guaranteed anyone else would be. If he had to be stuck in his head, he'd do no more damage to it by being mistrustful - and heavens knows how much damage had already been done.
A lot had changed since he was forced to be the torturer of that man and woman. It seemed, in Voldemort's eyes, it had been a test that Harry had passed. No, he had to be honest - he knew it was a test that he had passed because he had garnered that fact from Voldemort's mind itself. He still could not penetrate it fully but he could not ignore that he knew how it worked nowadays. That, coupled with the way Voldemort had been treating him, gave him the knowledge that Voldemort was becoming less of his enemy and more of a…of a what? Harry didn't know yet.
Harry was allowed to wander around the manor freely now, not being confined to his room or his wardrobe. Most doors would not open to him and anything leading to the outside world was guarded by at least two hooded people. However, this still gave him more freedom than he had had in - how long now? Thinking Like Hermione, he had taken it upon himself to find a quill, ink and some parchment in one of the rooms and to map a basic overview of the manor that he could access. He could now make his way through the manor without getting lost; had even traced his route from the day he got captured, as if to remind himself how close freedom had once been. He would sometimes stand in the foyer and stare at the front doors, willing with his mind that the guards would fall unconscious and the doors would burst open. This, of course, never happened. However, loitering in the foyer often gave him the privilege of seeing all the foot traffic that the manor held. It was a mirror of the Order Headquarters, with all his friends and comrades replaced with some of the people he hated the most in the world.
He would see the Death Eaters who had tortured him. Most would walk by him without a glance and Harry knew they were scared of him, even if they would never admit it. Any person who could win over Voldemort's confidence was someone to be feared. Greyback would still offer to rip open the throats of his loved ones, but his threats seemed empty. Bellatrix grabbed him by the throat one day and promised that, "should you slip up on this act you've given the Dark Lord, I'll be the first to know," but her voice was dripping with jealousy and contempt. Snape was rarely seen, assumingly busy at the school, but he would sometimes flit in and regard Harry with an odd look. Harry, taking the hint from their last conversation, did not try to goad Snape into another argument but he had no intention of ever becoming allies.
Continuing with the promise to be honest with himself, Harry could recall three incidents that made himself fear for his own state of mind. No, he was not scared of becoming insane - he had already been on that ledge, already looked down into that abyss - and if that could not send him over the edge surely nothing ever could. What he feared was the change he felt he was undergoing, a change that felt as biological as any other process happening in his body. He would reflect upon these situations quite often, given that he spent most of his time alone, and he was still unsure as to how he felt about them. Along with everything else happening, this confused him greatly.
After he had been made to torture the man and the woman in the drawing room, Voldemort had taken it upon himself to make Harry the person to deal with all their prisoners. Voldemort had reasoned that surely, that Harry did not want the captured people to deal with the wrath of Bellatrix or any of the other Death Eaters, that it would be now his responsibility to deal with the rest of them.
Harry refused exactly two times.
The first was the torture the day after his initial one. Snape, once again, lead him to the drawing room and brought him to the table full of Death Eaters and Voldemort. Wormtail, once again, was sent to the cellar and brought up a person. This time - it was a young boy, surely no older than ten years old, whose face was as pale as his blonde hair. He looked up at Harry with wide eyes, shaking on the spot and crying noisily. Voldemort said the boy was the son of a 'muggle lover' and therefore, to teach the man a lesson, it would be prudent to do it through the boy. Harry refused point blank - he told Voldemort there was no way in hell he'd lay a hand (or lack thereof) on a kid. Voldemort told him that was his choice, ordered him to stay in the room and offered the boy up to Bellatrix.
It was an interesting experience, watching how Bellatrix worked from the other perspective. Harry noted how fluidly she moved around the boy, almost dancing. Her spells came out easily, her voice raising an octave when she got especially excited. As he had already figured out, it seemed as if Bellatrix was most at home when she had someone at her mercy.
Have you ever seen a ten year old begging for death? Harry has. He was forced to watch as the child writhed on the floor, bleeding from the nose and the mouth, limbs jerking wildly. It seemed to go on for hours and hours before Voldemort softly ordered Bellatrix to stop, and she did, lowering her wand with the most satisfied expression on her face. Harry couldn't see the boy's face as it was buried in his hands, but he could see the blood seeping through the tightly closed fingers. The boy was taken away and Harry promised himself to never, ever again let Bellatrix raise a wand to another person in his presence.
So Harry took over the role of Head Torturer. Some times he would go days without seeing any prisoner and for this he was grateful, but other times he was called down to the drawing room twice or more a day. Sometimes the table would be full of Death Eaters, sometimes it would merely just be Voldemort watching. There was a parade of people brought to his feet; men, women, children, wizards, witches, muggles, but always innocent and always helpless. Harry now knew what pain and fear was expressed through a variety of subjects. Every time he was made to raise his hand to another, he felt a part of his heart break.
Here's the problem: Harry enjoyed torturing people.
Keeping with his new rule of not lying to himself, he knew this to be wholly true. Here's what he knew for sure: whenever he entered the drawing room and was presented with a new victim, the red curtain would fall behind his eyes and a new part of Harry would take over. The majority of his mind would disassociate, falling back and letting the minority run the show. This minority, while only taking up a little bit of space in his body, had the ability to do what Harry could not.
Voldemort was right; nothing in his life could compare to how he felt during these times. The closest he could come was those rare times he and Ginny could escape at Hogwarts. If they could find a place far away from prying eyes, they would find themselves wrapped around each other, closer than he had been with anyone before. He would feel a rising surge of pleasure, building and building, overtaking his mind and body until he could think of nothing else. It would drown him and he would happily let it overcome him - and then, when it finally came to a climax, he would feel a sense of release and satisfaction. That's how he felt torturing people - but tenfold.
At first, when he had not been honest with himself, he kept to the idea that he was helping these people rather than harming them. That he was the better option. That the Chosen One was sacrificing his own sanity to protect others. That when they were brought out, and they expressed shock at seeing the famous Harry Potter standing - looking well and unconcerned - in front of them, that they would seek comfort from his kind face and his healing words. That they would realise that his blows and his cuts were much softer than that of someone else and they would be taken away with the knowledge that he was still, and would always be, the 'good guy'.
This was not the case.
Maybe he had comforted, at first, maybe he had smiled and maybe he had tried to be as light as he could. But for how long that lasted, he couldn't remember. Now - now he would start to feel the pleasure as soon as they were placed below him, shivering at his feet, begging for mercy, please sir, have mercy. He would show them none. He couldn't help it; trying to stop the surge of power he had was like trying to gum up a dam with one finger. He could either let it all out gradually or have it burst out at once anyway. When it was just him and Voldemort in the room, the man would come up behind him, whispering words of encouragement and joy - this only sought to egg him on to do better, to get more accolades, to sate the redness that overtook his mind. As of late, Voldemort would rest a hand on the back of his neck and the touch would increase the satisfaction; sending waves of gratification down his spine and out through his fingers, where his magic would become stronger and more dangerous. When he was done, he could be found breathing heavily but smiling with a satisfied expression. Then he would go back to his room and cry, wishing for death.
The second time he refused to act was merely because the person who was brought in was someone he knew; a fellow student from Hogwarts, Hannah Abbott. When she was brought in and she exclaimed, "Harry! What's going on?!" he simply turned his back and left the room. He did not even stick around to hear Bellatrix do her dirty work and to be quite frank, a big part of him didn't care. He did not bother to follow up with what Hannah's fate was and just tried to push it out of his mind. Hannah did not return, and Harry returned to his role as if nothing had happened.
One night he had a dream.
He was in the drawing room; it was the same as always, lit by the guttering fireplace and mysterious in its shadowy corners. There was a masked figure kneeling in front of him and he assumed his stance; legs open and hands crossed behind his back - he looked like a soldier at ease. He was looking down at the figure when he felt two hands encircle his waist. He was not surprised, he knew those hands, and he fell back into the warmth behind him. There was a mouth on his neck and the hands at his waist moved steadily downwards.
"Do it, Harry," that cold voice said.
Harry knew what to do; he raised his hands and landed the first blow on the figure, causing it to scream and thrash wildly. The mouth continued to attack his skin and the hands worked more faster. They continued this, steadily building up and up, Harry increasing his attacks and Voldemort increasing his own.
"Please," Harry begged.
Voldemort quickly made work of Harry's clothes until he was standing there naked. Without preamble, he felt a force enter him but this time it was not unwanted or hurtful in any way; Harry immediately felt the pleasure inside of him rise to a crescendo and worked with the body behind him, thrusting backwards as he thrust his hands forward mercilessly. The figure screamed and the man behind him moaned and Harry cried out "My Lord!" and then -
He was awake, sitting bolt upright in his bed. Sweat was pouring down his body and he felt as if he had run twenty marathons in a matter of seconds. Most disturbingly, he noted, was that he had an erection. He did not sleep for the rest of that night, and merely sat with his arms wrapped around his legs, staring at the doorway. If he was honest with himself? He half-wished Voldemort would walk through the door and find him. The other half of him? That part was oddly quiet.
As he was allowed to wander the mansion, sometimes he felt himself seeking company of any other human being and found himself joining in on the meetings of the Death Eaters and Voldemort. At first he had merely stood in a shadowy corner, straining to listen to their quiet voices and trying to pick up on what was happening in the outside world. Soon, there was a chair set aside for him and eventually, he took Snape's space beside Voldemort at the head of the table. He never talked, only listened and never joined in on the jeering and laughter that would often occur.
One day he wandered down at the same time as the other Death Eaters were taking their seats. He quietly moved to his and sat down, deliberately avoiding Voldemort's eyes but staring brazenly at the others there. They all sat in silence and waited for the meeting to start.
"Where are we on finding the Headquarters of this rebel group?" Voldemort asked the table at large. It was Rowle who answered.
"My Lord, we have been attempting to gather information but apart from the man and woman that were brought here earlier," he said, eyes flicking to Harry momentarily, "we have not been able to find out much more. Their members are apparently good at staying undetected."
Voldemort silently regarded him.
"We have, however, been able to find information on Henry Davis, the leader," Rowle offered.
"Do tell," Voldemort said.
"He worked at the bookshop in Diagon Alley for five years and was nothing of particular importance, but he always had muggle and mudblood leanings," Rowle said. Here, the table muttered darkly to one another and Rowle waited for it to subside before continuing. "which we expected. It seemed, from one witness we were able to find, that on the last day that we released the pictures of the Potter boy, he expressed a desire to fight and sought others to join him. That was, we believe, the start of this rebel group."
"I was informed that releasing those pictures would create dissent, not a cohesion of fighters," Voldemort said softly and the table turned their eyes to Rookwood.
"My Lord," Rookwood said pleadingly, "I have studied the psychological effects of situations such as this and the pictures would have broken any rebellious spirit - however we did not, uh, manage to implement the final photograph that we had planned."
"Yes," Voldemort said, and he looked down at Harry beside him, "yes, there was a problem we did not foresee. Potter's death would have been a fitting epilogue, but here we are. Have you thought of any other methods?"
"No, My Lord, I haven't," Rookwood said, "but I will. Perhaps we could, um, set up scenes of the boy's body and -"
"No, that will not do," Voldemort said simply, "the world will know Potter is alive when I choose it. Until then, I want this Henry Davis found and I want this group broken."
When Harry left the meeting, he ruminated on what he had heard. The world did not know he was dead, but according to Voldemort, they would soon know he was alive. When? Under what pretences? Why was Voldemort not willing to stage a photo of his body, when lying was right up his alley? He did not know the answers to these questions. But he did know that some man, a man he had never met, was out there fighting for him still. People still had hope in the Chosen One. He didn't know how he felt about this.
The final incident that ate at his thoughts happened in the manor's library. Continuing to Think Like Hermione, Harry sought the comfort of this room, engrossing himself in the volumes he could find on the dusty shelves. There was no happy bedtime stories in the Malfoy house or light reading; much of the shelves were taken up by books that detailed pureblood ancestry or the rise of the Dark Arts throughout history. Though he had never been much of a reader, he found himself coming to the library often and reading for hours on end. The books were not particularly interesting but they were an escape.
As he sat on a red velvet lounge, reading a book about the life of Grindelwald, the door opened. Voldemort walked in as if he had done it many times before and quietly sat beside Harry on the lounge. Harry did not acknowledge him and attempted to continue reading, but so distracting was the man that he could not comprehend any of the words in front of him. They sat like this for half an hour before Voldemort finally spoke.
"Have you perused the books on Horcruxes?" He asked.
Harry thought about his answer for a while. "No, I didn't think there would be any here."
"I have brought some from my personal collection," Voldemort explained, "there is not a lot in the world on the subject but I have managed to amass most of them. Would you like to read one?"
"Can't I just ask you about them?" Harry asked bitterly.
"Yes, you may," Voldemort said softly, "what would you like to ask?"
Harry found an answer came straight to his lips; he had been pondering this subject during his times alone and often came to the same question. One that worried him the most. He finally spoke it out loud to the man beside him.
"Am I immortal?"
Unlike Harry, Voldemort did not answer straight away. He sat staring at Harry while the boy waited, still trying to avoid his gaze. It wasn't until Harry decided that he wasn't going to answer that he descanted.
"Ever since I have made Nagini a Horcrux, I have attempted to find an answer to that question," he said, "no one else has written about the subject, and I am certain that no one else in history has ever made a living being a Horcrux - let alone two. However, if one was to assume that a human vessel acts the same way as an object, then yes - if you were to come to no harm that would destroy the piece of myself in you, I do think you could live forever, as I can."
Harry mulled on this; he had spent his whole life trying to avoid death and if nothing disastrous ever happened to him then he would get his wish. Living forever was the biggest irony in his life, surely. Hadn't he only wished to be reunited with his dead family and friends for his whole existence? And now, he wouldn't even be granted that. The only way to die would be to destroy Voldemort's soul inside of him - but how? Would the man ever let that happen to him anyway?
"When I split myself into Nagini, I created a deeper bond between animal and human," Voldemort continued, "she does what I bid her to do, without me even speaking a word. Even you, a parselmouth, would not have the same method of control over her as I do. I see the same happening with yourself."
"What?" Harry blanched. "You don't have control over me, I don't do what you tell me to do, that's ridiculous."
"You are changing before your own eyes - and, I will admit, as am I. You have surely noticed, Harry?"
"Don't call me that," Harry hissed. "And I don't know what you're talking about."
"My eyes," Voldemort said patiently.
Harry did not understand what this meant. He had been ignoring eye contact with the man ever since he had entered the room so he had no idea what was wrong with his eyes. Suddenly, he felt a hand under his chin and his face was forced up. Grudgingly, Harry raised his eyes and let them fall upon Voldemort's. It took him a second to realise what was different, but when he did, he felt a huge jolt of shock.
Those eyes - the eyes he had seen in his dreams for years, that had stood out upon the back of pale Quirrell's head, the ones that had opened for the first time in years in a dark cemetery, the eyes he felt inside his mind at the Ministry of Magic - they were not the same. Once, they had been dark and handsome as Tom Riddle. Then they had been red and slitted, like a snake's. Now - amongst the piercing red were flickers of a startling green, as if paint had been splattered into the irises. Harry knew that green, he had seen that green whenever he looked into a mirror.
Voldemort waved his wand and within seconds, a small handheld mirror zoomed into his palm from the darkness. He held it out to Harry, who took it and stared desperately at his reflection, hoping against hope to not see what he feared. His prayers went unanswered. The eyes that once reminded everyone of Lily Potter were now sullied, speckled with brilliant red. Even as he looked, he could note even more changes. His pupils were thinner. His cheekbones were more prominent. His nose a little flattened. He looked over at Voldemort and saw the opposite had happened. The man's pupils were wider, he had more colour in his face and it had grown less gaunt than it had once been. There was a dark shadow on the top of the man's head, as if hair had been shaved off and it was now starting to grow back.
"How can this happen?" Harry asked, desperately, on the verge of tears again. "I don't know what this means!"
"The part inside of you recognises its master," Voldemort said softly, not breaking eye contact with Harry even though its intensity caused Harry to fidget uncomfortably on the chair. "It knows it once belonged to me, inside of me, and its reaching out. You're becoming like me, taking on my physical qualities along with…other qualities. I would have not believed it, had I not been experiencing the exact same thing."
"Since the day I understood our connection, I have been experiencing…emotions I had left behind years ago. Emotions that I hoped had died when I became Lord Voldemort. Being around you has brought around changes to me…but I feel stronger. More powerful. Like a cloth has been cleared from my mind. It is much easier to think when you are in the room, the same as it felt whenever Nagini was with me, but with you - its much, much stronger. I have never had a connection to a person before, Harry Potter, did you know that? Never did I want to associate myself with weaker beings, there's no point, you see. What would it grant me? But you - you have, not on purpose, become something of an equal."
Harry merely cried. He could not deny what Voldemort was saying, which made it all that more heartbreaking. Hadn't Harry been mulling on the same thoughts recently? That Voldemort was becoming something less of an enemy? Harry also felt stronger when he was around the man; he also felt more dangerous, less like his normal self - and of course, that red curtain would fall over his eyes and he would become the alternate Harry. But that alternate Harry was becoming more and more commonplace nowadays; sometimes that was the only Harry who would come out during a day. If his eyes proved anything, it was that he was right - he was undergoing a change he could not control.
Voldemort stayed for a little while longer and tried to goad Harry into talking some more, but Harry continued to cry into his hands. So, the man stood up and made his leave. He stopped in the doorway and turned back briefly.
"Get some sleep," he said. It was a command.
"Yes, my Lord," Harry said without thinking.
There was a pause - where Voldemort said nothing and stood silently, and Harry's teared stopped for a moment. The weight of the words just said was suffocating them; echoing around the room. Then Harry burst into tears, howling miserably and Voldemort left the room - not without Harry glancing the satisfied smirk that was upon his changed face.
At some point he could not cry any longer and he left the library, making his way back to his bedroom. It did not surprise him to see Voldemort in the room, sitting on one of the chairs and reading a pile of papers in front of him. Harry did not acknowledge the man and went straight to the wardrobe, plopping himself down on the mattress. An hour passed, Harry could tell by the sun setting from his small window, and Voldemort stood up and walked to the bed. The man turned and locked eyes with Harry, holding out a single pale hand. It was an invitation. Harry used his magic to swing his door closed with a loud bang and he was not bothered again.
He was grappling in his head as to why he had felt an urge to accept that invitation. He wondered if Voldemort could read his mind and see the battle he was undertaking. He also wondered if maybe, for once, Voldemort did not have an ulterior motive. And finally, he wondered whether he was strong enough to fight anymore.
He had no answers and he did not sleep that night.