Warnings: cuddly snake!tired!LV, DADAprof!Harry, years after Battle of Hogwarts, canon compliant (EWE though), hopeful ending, OOC? maybe, there is fluff, and cute, and character development, all that good stuff, journey of self discovery
Pairing: LV/HP (Lord Voldemort/Harry James Potter)
Summary: Harry finds an oddly cuddly pet in the Dark Lord, and Voldemort finds a sanctuary for his heart in his old nemesis. Fate had never been so strange.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter series - J.K. Rowling, you guys know this already we've been over it...
Fate worked in strange ways. Voldemort knew that, and he would've admitted to knowing it very, very well if not for the tiny fact that he didn't believe in destiny. Not anymore. Not since that blasted prophecy had only come true because he had made it come true—not that he had done it on purpose, of course.
And he was really, really tired of being the butt of the metaphorical joke that whatever beings above loved to make of him. If there was anything good about this situation—what with being in the middle of nowhere, slithering about the undergrowth, cold and hungry, the memory of his defeat a humiliating and shameful experience even though it had taken place several years ago—it was that he was alive. Somehow.
Because Lord Voldemort had truly believed that the minute his killing curse rebounded again (only for the second time, but killing curses weren't supposed to be reflected anyways, which made the achievement rather noteworthy) that he was dead. Would be. But he wasn't.
Life was a complex beast, too mysterious and sporadic for humans to understand. And because Voldemort knew that, he accepted—for the most part—the fact that he was a snake, and not dead, like he knew he should be. The Dark Lord had quite a bit of time already to ponder over the workings of the universe, and he was no closer to discovering it than he was when he had graduated Hogwarts.
For Salazar's sake, was he supposed to live? Since he had gone about fearing Death for so long, cheating it even, he had assumed that, if anything, the beings above wanted him to die… after all, the prophecy had been a rather big hint that it was his time to go. But had he? No. He hadn't. He was still alive and actually healthy, if one ignored the fact that he was, for all intents and purposes, a normal snake with no real amazing attributes other than having the brains of a wizard.
But those brains weren't exactly helping his case right now. The forest he was in seemed to go on forever and Voldemort wondered whether or not he was actually slithering around in circles. He had survived here for so long, and yet he felt there was no way out. It was just his luck that winter time was coming around again and he unfortunately had no shelter this time.
Would he die now, as a snake? Was this how the great and terrible Dark Lord Voldemort would end? To the consistency of nature? So foggy were his thoughts and so sluggish his movements that he hardly registered the light footsteps that were coming closer and closer until they were right next to him.
"Oh! Sorry there, I didn't see you," exclaimed an almost familiar male's voice. "What are you doing out here? It's going to snow soon, don't you know?"
Vaguely, Voldemort wondered if the human was actually talking to him… but who would talk to snakes?
The man crouched down, and the Dark Lord could almost taste the warmth radiating off of him. So tantalizing… Admittedly, the thought of a human's body warmth excited him and gave him hope. It had been so long, and he had taken for granted the wonders of being a human—which included producing his own body heat—that the mere chance he would be picked up was enough to make him raise his head slowly.
Vaguely he registered a hand out in front of him, almost offering, and Voldemort took the chance to slither up and coil about the man's arm. Instantly the heat hit him and he hissed in pleasure.
The last thing he registered was the soft comment of, "you're oddly cuddly for a snake…" before he slept.
When he woke up, it was to heat that he had never thought he would feel again—the warmth of a house. Along his senses he also noted the tingling of magic, telling him the man who had picked him up was, in a general sense, a wizard. That suited him just fine.
Though Voldemort might've been ambitious, perhaps even still now, he had long given up on becoming "human" again, if his old form could even be called that. No, he admittedly didn't want to go back to a life that only held frustrations and stress, where his goals were so huge they dictated his every waking moment. Now that he was a snake, he had come to like the simpler things in life, like food and water and safe shelters away from predators. And to be honest? He preferred this simplicity.
So the fact that he was living with a wizard now did not make him think upon the possibility of reverting to his old form again—it made him think how much easier it would be with magic to live here, as there would always be constant warmth and the access of magic to supply that warmth, not to mention conjured mice and, in general, better means for comfort. Muggles always overcomplicated everything.
Lazily he came back to his senses from his little nap, taking in everything to find he was still wrapped about the wizard's arm. Voldemort glanced up to see his savior's face, only to be left utterly shocked.
"Oh! So you've woken up, I see," Harry-bloody-Potter smiled down at him. "Not that I mind having a snake on my arm, but do you mind if I move you now? It's sort of hard to cook with you there."
In retrospect, he should've figured this out. Though he could understand English as well as any other British wizard one would come across, he hadn't realized that most people couldn't understand the language that the man was speaking in… because it wasn't English—which made that previous comparison sound completely out of place, but with the fog of sleep his mind worked in strange ways—no, it was Parseltongue.
Voldemort could hear it now, very keenly too. There was a certain hissy quality to Parseltongue, a certain difference in pitch and intonation when heard.
And there was, to his knowledge, only two people in Britain that spoke the snake language… himself, and Harry Potter.
Out of instinct he reared back into the S curve that snakes were known to make before striking, and he watched as Potter blinked in surprise, but did nothing more than that.
"Hey, I'm not going to hurt you," he said, "you're alright now. Something bad must've happened, right? I've never seen a snake just… out there on the brink of winter. Was your shelter destroyed?"
Potter… His old feelings about his once nemesis came rushing back to him; all of the hate and loathing and frustration over the fact that he could not kill this single boy. But he could—kill him, he meant—right here, right now. Voldemort knew that he was poisonous, not what breed he was but at least he was rather deadly if the speed his victims died at was taken into consideration, and here was his chance. He could off the Potter brat in a fit of revenge, and then—
What would he accomplish with killing him here? Wizards weren't overly fond of snakes. They would find him here eventually, and put him in some pet shop in Knockturn Alley, or maybe just toss him out in the wild to fend for himself. Voldemort would go back to being cold, lost, hungry, without a shelter and without anything he felt was familiar again.
The magic that he had first felt and was still feeling called to him, like an old friend whose melodic voice was beckoning.
Perhaps when he first became a snake, he would've offed Potter the second he had seen him, no questions asked—whether he was poisonous or not didn't count—but now?
Voldemort had never been a social creature, preferring the company of books and paper over other fellow wizards, but he had to admit—he had been lonely throughout these years.
How utterly depressing. Looks like I can't kill the brat after all. So he relaxed his stance, almost with a sulky pout upon his face if snakes could pout or sulk at all, and hissed—very cautiously—his reply. "I never had one to begin with."
Instantly, Potter's face became sympathetic. "Oh, you poor thing… must've been abandoned, right? By some wizard who was deluded by some tripe about snakes being the personification of evil?"
"How can you tell I was—had been with a wizard?" Voldemort asked curiously, slipping up momentarily.
Potter blinked. "That's easy. There's sort of a… er…. Hm. I guess you could say there's just a feel of magic around you, like you've been in contact with it for a long time. If you were a human I would've said that you were a wizard, but you're a snake, so that either means that you're magical or you were a pet to someone who possessed magic and didn't hide it."
"Oh." He felt Potter's arm resume movement, and glanced down to see him cutting some vegetables on a cutting board.
"You know, you're sort of weird for a snake. Usually when I meet one, they're all like "Oh! A speaker! What an honor to be in your presence!" It's sort of nice to have a change."
Voldemort sneered. "Do you prefer I do just that? I can say it now."
Potter laughed. "Silly, I just told you it was nice to have a change. It's sort of awkward to have a snake say that to you anyways, and it makes me feel bad too because I'm not really a natural speaker…"
He shrugged, the movement causing Voldemort to shift a bit. "Apparently not. A... another wizard who had the ability unconsciously gave it to me, I guess you could say."
A silence fell over them, broken only when Potter exclaimed loudly, "Oh! I completely forgot! You're probably hungry, aren't you? Sorry about that!"
Voldemort blinked. Oh, right… he had forgotten. His hunger hit him with a full force, and he inwardly grimaced. How had he forgotten?
"Here. A rabbit. You need something big, right? What with how hungry you probably are…" The wizard waved his hand, stopping his work for a bit to easily conjure a white rabbit. It scampered away hastily, but it had already caught Voldemort's interest and the snake easily unwound his body and lowered himself slowly to the floor, where he then took off like a dart and quickly captured his prey.
His poison did not take long to spread. The rabbit was dead within the next few seconds.
Once he had successfully taken in the whole lagomorphs, Voldemort turned back around to stare at Potter, his body forming an impromptu coil. Unexpectedly, the wizard was looking at him with not disgust, but admiration and respect.
"Snakes really are beautiful creatures," he heard Potter murmur. "It's a shame most people don't think so…"
"You think me beautiful?"Voldemort hissed without really thinking. "Me, a serpent, the personification of evil?"
Potter laughed. He abandoned his cutting board and simmering pot to walk towards him and crouch down. "Yeah," he replied softly, "I do. You know, when I actually noticed you in the forest I can't believe I didn't see you sooner. Must be blind, huh? What kind of person doesn't notice a large, albino snake on the ground? Huh… now that I look closer you've got this pretty shade of red in your scales too…"
He wondered whether he should be flattered or affronted for being called "pretty". Voldemort decided he would let the comment slide, but he didn't really know what to make of it when Potter reached out a hand and scratched his scales in exactly the right spot…
"Oh," he hissed, "hmm… that feels wonderful. Don't stop."
Potter laughed again, softer this time, and continued his indulgence. "Hey, would you like to… would you like to stay with me? I mean, I know I'm a wizard like the stupid one that threw you out, but it's sort of lonely out here in the middle of nowhere…"
"If you were like that wizard then I would've bitten you already," Voldemort found himself saying, "though arguably you're even more stupid for offering to take me in."
He smiled. "Really? I don't think so at all."
If snakes could sigh, Voldemort would've done so.
"Oh geez, I haven't even told you my name yet, have I?" Potter asked as he washed the dishes. Voldemort didn't know why he just didn't clean them with magic, but to each their own he supposed. "I'm Harry Potter. Nice to meet you."
The Dark Lord would've snorted if snakes could snort. "I know," he said before he could stop himself.
"You… know?" He looked up to find Potter looking at him with a raised eyebrow.
"The wizard I lived with… read newspapers. The Prophet, I think?" Voldemort scrambled for an excuse, "I saw a picture of you. The Boy-Who-Lived, yes?"
Potter unexpectedly grimaced. "Yeah… that's me. I hate that title though."
He shrugged dismally. "It's just not… me. But the public wants what the public wants, I guess." And that was it.
"So… uh… what's your name?"
"You presume I have one?" Snakes didn't have eyebrows to raise. "I'm a snake."
"But you had a previous owner. What'd he call you?"
Voldemort's mind raced. He needed an excuse. He needed an excuse. He needed an excuse—"I don't want to be called whatever name that foolish wizard gave me," he spat.
Potter bit his lip. He finished up the dishes, putting them back in their respective places once they were squeaky clean, and leaned against the counter before turning back to his serpentine companion. "Then… can I name you?—I mean it'd be sort of awkward just saying hey you, even if you're the only other living thing here—"
"Do what you want," muttered the snake.
"…What about 'Tom'?"
Voldemort froze, but not for long. Stuck in between the instinct to flee or check whether or not his old enemy knew who he was, the Dark Lord ended up twisting his body around, forming loops with his tail as he stared directly at him. Potter seemed to be looking at him too. "…Tom," the snake hissed slowly, trying to hide his slip.
Potter seemed to take it as "what in the name of Morgana made you think of Tom?"
He smiled sheepishly. "Yeah," he shrugged, "I—"here, he looked away,"—well, a long time ago, I knew of a boy named 'Tom'. He was a lot like you, I think, and—"silence.
It was broken when Voldemort huffed, or more like the snake equivalent of a huff. "Didn't I tell you to do what you want?" he hissed before slithering away, completely missing the soft, nostalgic look that flickered across Potter's face before it disappeared.
The days passed as quickly as they came, filled with lulling peace and a solidity Voldemort admitted he had not experience in awhile. But it wasn't lonely at all—as much as he hated to say it, Potter made good company.
He wondered how far they were away from civilization, or where they were in the first place, but he never asked. This place, he found, was Potter's sanctuary, away from the hounding reporters and away from the gawking crowd. This was the place where he didn't need to be a hero, didn't need to be a leader, and it showed.
For one, Voldemort found that the Boy-Who-Lived liked gardening.
Out back behind the cottage, which was relatively modest considering the savior of the Wizarding World owned it, was a beautiful garden filled with both magical and non-magical plants, some considered quite rare in the profession of potions. It was kept completely snow-free, charmed to be the right environment year-long. The Dark Lord could laze for hours out here, naming those around him in his mind, recognizing them with but a glance and then perhaps even thinking back on how he knew them and what they were used for. It was relaxing. He had knowledge for the sake of having knowledge, and now he knew it.
He was impressed by the amount of plants he didn't know as well, and instead of simply turning away and thinking them useless because he hadn't spent the time to learn them, like he would've long ago, he decided he needed to know all of them purely for the sake of knowing them and being satisfied with that.
It certainly wouldn't be hard. Potter knew them all by heart, and he was more than happy to share with his new roommate.
"Why didn't you become a herbologist?" Voldemort asked one day as he watched his 'owner' tend to a group of magical flowers.
Potter turned to him, looking a bit pensive and surprised. "I like gardening," he began slowly, "but I don't have a gift for it. I'm not Neville—he was a boy who attended school with me—who has a knack for tending to plants."
"You don't need a gift to become something," pointed out the snake.
"True. But… well… I'm a bit different, I guess. I mean, think about it. What would the world say if their savior, who was no older than a boy seventeen years old and didn't have a lick of pre-eleven magical training, mind you—"the bitterness showed in his tone"—grew up and said he wanted to be a herbologist? I might not fall to peer pressure as easily as some people do, but that doesn't mean I'm not affected. It was smarter to do what I do now."
"And what is it that you do?"
Potter blinked. "I haven't said? Wow. Sorry about that. I work at Hogwarts, as the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. You know Hogwarts, right?"
"School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, yes," affirmed Voldemort for the sake of keeping up his persona. "The… human who previously had me in his care had a… son who went there."
The wizard hummed in reply, turning back to his plants. "Well, yeah. I'm a professor there. Most people thought I would go on to become an Auror, but frankly I'm tired of fighting and dealing with all that Ministry crap, so I chose Hogwarts. Safe choice, media mostly can't get to me, and guess what? Free summers, which is why I can stay here."
"Who tends to your plants when you're gone?"
Potter wrinkled his nose. "House elves. I honestly have nothing against them—I'll introduce you later, they usually take care of the other Potter estates—but this is my hobby. I like doing it myself. It's just… what I do. Gardening has always been relaxing, even if it was under the beating hot sun while dehydrated."
Voldemort raised his head from the coil he had been relaxing in. "Why in the name of Merlin would you ever subject yourself to that?" he asked in slow disbelief.
"Uhh… well…" he shrugged nervously while biting his lip. "Things happen?"
"Try to lie to me again and I'll bite you," the Dark Lord lazily hissed, "or at least if it's a pathetic lie like that. At least be a bit more inventive."
He looked appropriately sheepish. "…When I was a kid," he began quietly after taking a breath, "I lived with my relatives on my mother's side. To be completely honest, they were terrible, horrid people, and I only came to accept this… after. But, to get to the point, they made me do most if not all their chores, like cooking, cleaning, weeding, whatever to keep me tired and busy, and I guess gardening was the best. Outside during the summer I was away from my screaming aunt, and my whale of a cousin couldn't harass me lest he be seen by the neighbors, since the garden I tended to was in the front of the house. My uncle was too busy watching the tele inside to bother me either. I could go at whatever pace I wanted, as long as I got it done at the appointed time…so yeah. Weeding, watering, tending to the flowers… it just felt like a break to me."
"…Did they hit you?" Voldemort asked quietly.
"Not as much as you would think," Potter admitted, "and not as direct either. My uncle would grab me and throw me into my cupboard sometimes, and that might've left some bruises. My aunt hit me with a frying pan once when she was angry that I burned the bacon. Dudley had a whole gang that bullied me, but I was a fast runner, so they usually couldn't catch me. Mostly they denied me food and water for maybe a day or two, and they screamed a lot… so it could've been worse."
"Worse…" the snake hissed, as if to test the taste of the word on the tongue.
The wizard quickly took the opportunity to change the subject. "So, yeah. Gardening's my hobby now. It's nice to watch things grow, and you saw my herbs and vegetables in the back, didn't you? It's nice to be able to eat fresh produce too. Sure, the house elves can buy the freshest off the market, but it's not the same as picking it yourself."
Voldemort settled down into his coil again. "I suppose." He looked up when he felt Potter's gaze upon him.
"…You know, you're sort of strange for a snake. You talk like you're a wizard—a human. But I guess there have been stranger things in life," Potter said, a wry smile dancing across his lips. "I know I've experienced my fair share of them."
"Sssss… indeed?" the Dark Lord tilted his triangular face to the side, almost like an expression of thoughtfulness if he weren't a snake. "Tell me," he hissed quietly, "tell me your stories, Harry."
A genuinely soft look appeared on the wizard's face and, as he sat down, put his tools to the side, took off his gloves and settled, the Wizarding World's youngest hero spun tales of his misadventures and encounters with the strangest and the most dangerous magical creatures to his old nemesis.
"Ah, geez!" Potter exclaimed as he stood up and stretched. He had been working in the garden all afternoon, the evidence of dirt covering his old shirt and jeans. A tired smile appeared on his face.
"I'm going to take a shower. Want to join me?" he asked, looking down at his lazy pet snake.
Voldemort lifted his head. He had, admittedly, been dozing off, used to the routine by now with one week and counting under his metaphorical belt of experience staying here. The days were filled with a sort of peace that made him feel utterly comfortable falling asleep just about anywhere, and he took to doing so with a fatigue that had only just been settling into his conscious. It was nice to relax, now that he had the chance. Not to mention, Potter had been surprisingly good at guessing whether or not he was napping or not, which meant he almost never woke by surprise. Life was good.
And a bath actually sounded... excellent right now. Just imagining the steam of the hot water, the lazy atmosphere, the smooth tiles and the heat that would be trapped inside… "Very well," the Dark Lord hissed, and slithered inside the house. Behind him, Potter chuckled.
The bathroom was not a room Voldemort was too acquainted with, but he knew it was rather big and spacious, with the shower on the side instead of over the bathtub. That was all well and fine with him—he was able to find a nice spot on the tiles to settle down on, which Potter generously warmed with a heating charm before undressing himself.
The water itself came out hot instantly, what with the wonders of magic and all that. True to his thoughts, the steam felt wonderful, clogging up the room and allowing the warmth to thoroughly caress the snake's scales. Voldemort unconsciously hissed in pleasure.
Potter laughed. "Maybe I'll take you with me more often," he mused.
"Perhaps you should," the snake agreed.
Luckily for him, his wizard decided to enjoy his shower too, taking the time to wash the grime of the day away but also simply standing there, relishing the spray of the water and how it was the small things that were the biggest luxuries.
Voldemort could smell the soap and shampoo, which was as neutral of a scent as it could get, and completely non-scented to a human's nose. Somehow he found it predictable that the person who had defeated him all those years ago was, in actuality, not all too special to begin with. Potter wasn't like any other person that you found across the street though, that was a fact—but he wanted to be normal, to be average, to enjoy anonymity, and that made all the difference.
The Dark Lord stared at the wizard's back thoughtfully, letting these kinds of observations swim in his mind. Yes, Potter was utterly human, only his wants were what everyone else had, and what he had were everyone else's wants. Who didn't want to be famous? To be known by name? To have fulfilled some great, honorable deed and hold influence over the crowd's every thought and view of the world? Not Harry Potter, that was for sure, but he had it anyways.
Did Harry Potter look like a hero? He hadn't, not back then when he was a scrawny teenager. Short, Voldemort remembered. He had been short in his first year, and then when he saw him next in the boy's fourth it had been after his growth spurt. Potter had been taller then, though his build was definitely still small and light, just as his father's. Thin, most definitely, but now the Dark Lord wondered whether or not that was natural… or caused by the boy's home life.
But that had been then, and this was now. Potter was still thin, but his stature was tall, in ways other than physical height. He had developed the calm, subtle aura of someone who caught everyone's eyes in the room, stole away all the attention, enraptured the crowd no matter if they knew him as the Boy-Who-Lived or not. Voldemort himself had that aura in his youth, and had used it to charm many of his first followers… but Potter did not do anything of the sort. He merely left it as it was, in its natural state, not to be used or manipulated to suit his own desires.
The boy he had known and loved to hate was no longer present. Harry Potter had grown up, his muscles defined but not overly so, in a way that could be seen as attractive. His hair was definitely still the bird's nest it had been, but now there was a charm to it that added to his flavor, where before when he was a teen it had simply looked like he had not cared about his appearance. And perhaps that had been so. Being the primary target for a rampaging Dark Lord didn't leave a lot of time for gazing vainly into a mirror.
And somehow Voldemort's thoughts began to lead him to the more… domestic views. How many girls had the Wizarding World's savior been through? Was he dating now? Or did Potter just have one-night flings? He didn't seem to be the type, in all honesty, but who knew what had changed. The wizard was still utterly unpredictable. Was he the teacher at Hogwarts who had the whole female student body after him, batting their eyelashes pettily in hope of catching his attention?
Voldemort had to admit, they would have no qualms fantasizing about what was under their professor's robes, but rarely would they ever come close to the real thing—or something like he was seeing now. The spray of the shower was strong, and Potter was standing directly in it, letting the water cascade down his back as well as his chest. Muscles and multiple scars proved to be an obstacle course for the droplets that raced down, down, down, all the way from his shoulders to his ankles.
And though Potter was not unmarred, his pale flesh looked smooth and inviting, as if begging for someone to mark him up with love bites and scratches influenced by the rushed nature of sex.
The wizard brought both of his hands to his head, lathering shampoo into his hair. Voldemort found he could not take his eyes away as the force of the water dragged the foam down with it, following the exact same paths that had been taking, taunting and teasing as it slid so effortlessly down the very male body and into the drain.
Only when Potter let out a sigh of contentment did the Dark Lord realize what he was doing and turn away.
Salazar, had he really been checking out the Boy-Who-Lived?!
A shudder wracked his body, and Voldemort tried to ignore how forced it felt, and how it could simply not be in disgust, as he had secretly enjoyed the view he had gotten and—
"Are the tiles too cold? Maybe my heating charm was too weak…"
The snake's head snapped back to the wizard that was looking at him rather questioningly. "It is adequate," he hissed slowly, tongue darting in and out of his mouth.
Potter hummed. "Maybe next time it would be better if you're around my neck," he said, still under the assumption that his new pet snake was cold, "we'll have to test it later, I guess."
Voldemort's mind did not short circuit. It really didn't.
A nonchalant flick of Potter's wrist stopped the flow of hot water, and the wizard reached out into thin air and silently summoned a towel to himself from across the bathroom.
"Hungry?" he asked obliviously as while drying his hair. "I'll conjure a nice big rat for you once dinner's ready."
This is also my official snake!LV fic. I love these so much lol
The title is meant to suck. Thanks.
Edit 6/25/14: italics weren't working, so formatting looked wacky. Now fixed! No sentences were changed, just italics.