A/N: I'm seriously blown away by the response to this story. Thank you all so much for your encouraging reviews (you amazing people) and likes/follows. I'm really not sure if I'll keep updating this story, but I keep find myself coming back to putting Harry in odd situations and amusing myself with the ensuing collateral damage. This one is kind of fluffy and a touch dark, but I get the feeling you like that if you've made it this far ;) Hope you enjoy.
Scene III: In which Harry's social worlds collide, he says something he maybe probably shouldn't have, and the universe provides.
While Harry knew that he had it pretty good, being Harry James Potter wasn't always what one would call a walk in the park. Sure, sure, Harry had a loving godfather, a girl who had basically wormed herself into being his own pseudo-sister, acquaintances that didn't expect him to call on them or visa versa but waved at him amicably on the street. He even had a pet dog, when his godfather was in the mood. So, yes. Harry did have it all.
Except on days when his – well, his… Paramour? Beau? Person. Yes, Harry's Person. Except on days when Harry's Person was behaving like a total annihilating monster from the deep sea (an image that gave him frightfully amusing images of a fabulously dressed Godzilla razing half of Tokyo), Harry really wondered if he had anything at all.
"Kill them all!" Voldemort screamed in silent rage. Or rather whispered. But the hissed words lashed through the gilded hall as if he had bellowed.
"My lord," gushed a distraught, unnamed and fully masked Death Eater. "The Order of the Phoenix has hidden the little traitors – "
"Hidden? Oh, they've hidden them!" Voldemort interrupted in sudden surprise, his expression warm and understanding in less than a heartbeat. Harry was alarmed no one suffered immediate whiplash from Voldemort's about-face. Well, a couple Death Eaters kneeling closest to him began to quake in their boots. "Well, then. I guess that's it. Shall we all go home for an early supper?"
The hall was so quiet Harry could hear a pin drop. Literally. Harry dropped a pin on the floor and watched it roll down the steps of dais, frowning as it stopped just before falling off the last step. Just a little further –
Voldemort shot Harry a fleeting look of pure annoyance. By the time he returned to the crowd of stock-still followers, however, the terrifying mask of confusing pleasantness was back in full force. Harry stifled an eye roll. Why on earth was he supposed to come to these meetings anyway?
"Didn't you hear me?" Voldemort asked, voice saccharine. "I said let us all go home early for supper."
No one moved. A rather young-looking Death Eater in the back started to turn around and was immediately stopped by another larger cloaked figure, who shook his head minutely.
"No?" Voldemort continued, tone chillier than an Arctic breeze. "Oh, well, maybe you'd all rather just stick around then and do what I tell you!"
Harry rolled his eyes and disapparated with a pop!
"He's very moody," Harry announced, dropping his heavy cloak in the entrance way of the Black Library and frowning.
"He's… Moody," Hermione answered, looking up from her book slowly. "Your boyfriend, the immortal Dark Lord with a penchant for murder, is… Moody."
"Yes," Harry sighed, dropping onto a leather chaise and crossing his arms grumpily. "It's getting annoying."
Hermione stared at Harry with flabbergasted irritation. "Your muggle murdering, psychotic boyfriend is annoying, but not nearly murder-y and psycho-y to dump?"
Harry looked at Hermione in confusion. "Yeah, that's literally what I just said."
"What the living hell is wrong with you?" Hermione asked suddenly, surprising Harry. "And don't you dare ask 'Where did that come from, Hermione?'" Hermione mimicked in a deep, dumb tone. "I've been leaving you breadcrumbs so figuratively literal that I'm surprised you didn't use them to follow your way home."
"What?" Harry asked, face twisted in confusion.
"I'm not comfortable with you dating a mass murderer and since you refuse to listen to reason or take a hint, I'm not willing to talk about him," Hermione answered smartly, turning back to her book.
Harry blinked at Hermione in surprise. He opened his mouth to answer and Hermione immediately cut him off, eyes narrowed dangerously.
"And do not compare me to Sirius. Who, by the by, does in fact have the right to ask you to not invite your murdering psycho for dinner!" Hermione didn't even look up from her book, carefully turning a page and nestling deeper into her armchair.
Harry closed his mouth with an audible click, instead choosing to frown at her.
"He's not that bad, Hermione!" Hermione said, now merely pretending read her book judging by the way her lips were scrunched. She used a rather unflattering annoying voice to mock Harry. "He's actually pretty cute when you – "
"Does he call me cute?" A cold, deep voice interrupted her tantrum.
Harry and Hermione both looked up to see a smirking Tom Riddle standing in the doorway of the library, arms crossed and expression devilishly cavalier. In the corner of his eye, Harry noticed Hermione turning a rather ashen colour.
"Seems a little… Misleading," Voldemort continued, raising a curled hand to study his nails. "I'd say I'm more handsome than cute."
Hermione's mouth had fallen open at some point and Harry resisted the urge to reach over and shut it for her. He was concerned, though, about the fact that she was still paling and she was already a translucent shade of white.
"Well," Harry announced. "This isn't exactly how I planned, but here we go. Hermione Jean Granger, meet Lord Voldemort." Harry swept his hand between his two people and neither said anything. Voldemort made a point of looking her up and down, focusing on her frizzy hair and rumpled clothing, before turning back to his nails in apparent disinterest.
Harry nearly groaned. There was nothing worse than behaving like a snotty pureblood douche around Hermione.
The colour in Hermione's face returned with force and she even began to glow with a rosy shade of rage. "Mudblood Hermione Jean Granger," Hermione corrected contemptuously, straightening in her chair. "Pleasure to meet your acquaintance," she practically snarled.
Voldemort looked up through thick eyelashes, a dangerous glint reflecting in his eyes. Harry then did actually groan. There was nothing worse than challenging Voldemort. Well, Harry did it all the time but for some reason Voldemort didn't seem to get murder-y (as Hermione called it) by Harry's behaviour. Hermione didn't enjoy the same privilege.
These two were going to loath each other.
"So, you know your place. Good to know we won't need to have the talk," Voldemort answered back with smooth charm, charisma oozing off his relaxed frame.
"On the contrary, Advisor Riddle," Hermione answered, just as cool, "I think we need to have a very long talk indeed. Perhaps straighten out a few of those misconceptions of yours."
"Harry once told me that you're the brightest witch he's ever met," Voldemort crooned. "I see now that's probably due to the fact he's not familiar with many witches."
"And Harry told me all about your adventure to the spirit realm. Doesn't seem very bright to mess with magic we can't handle, hm?" Hermione answered without skipping a beat.
The room turned deathly cold in an instant.
"How about a cup of tea?" Harry chirped, clapping his hands. Neither Voldemort or Hermione took their narrowed eyes off one another.
Until, of course, Kreacher popped into the room and promptly screamed a high-pitched wail of despair.
"You!" Kreacher wailed, mouth agape in horrified terror and falling to his knees.
"Kreacher," Voldemort breathed, looking momentarily stunned. Harry blinked in surprise. Voldemort didn't do stunned, momentarily or not. "How the – " Kreacher vanished with a shockingly loud crack and Voldmort's eyes bled red.
"Harry, dear," Voldemort said with that horrid pleasant tone he'd been using all day.
"Hm?" Harry asked, doing his best not to lose his temper. He had just wanted a bloody cup of damn tea.
"Where does that spawn of hell incarnate usually go when it's upset?" Voldemort asked with faultless politeness.
"Don't you dare touch that elf!" Hermione spat, leaping to her feet.
"There's a cupboard in the kitchen," Harry answered, waving his hand in the direction of the Black kitchens.
"Harry!" Hermione shouted, scandalised, looking torn between chasing Voldemort as the creature stomped off (rather eerily like a monster on the prowl) and staying as far away from the man as possible.
Harry shrugged. "Apparently they know each other. Sounds like a lot of drama. I'm pretty wiped. Just wanted a cup of tea. Once this is done, I might even get one."
There was a sudden crashing from the kitchens and an ear-splittingly loud scream and then it was silent once more.
"But… What if he kills Kreacher? What if he just killed Kreacher?" Hermione asked timidly, suddenly looking very afraid and sinking back into her armchair.
"Then he'll get his head on the wall. Which is literally all he talks about ever since he turned three hundred," Harry answered distractedly.
Hermione turned blazing eyes of fury onto her black-haired friend and Harry sighed in deep suffering.
"Fine," Harry answered bitterly. "I'll go see what the damn commotion is about."
Before Hermione had a chance to say anything else, Harry pulled himself to his feet and made his way to the kitchens. Once he peaked through the door, though, he wished he'd braved the library and let Hermione chew him out.
Voldemort stood over a sobbing Kreacher, glittering maroon eyes inspecting a large silver object. A long chain curled around Voldemort's lithe fingers and he was stroking the object with his thumbs, an expression akin to pleasure lighting his features.
"So," Harry announced himself a little clumsily. "Am I interrupting something?"
Voldemort's eyes snapped to Harry's and a smirk graced the tall man's face. "A long story, but I'd like you to meet someone."
"Someone," Harry repeated, pointedly looking at the object in Voldemort's hands.
Harry approached anyway without hesitation and looked at the silver ornament. It was shaped like a locket, but very gaudy and too large. An ornate S decorated the face and while it was beautiful in an overly lavish way, Harry could feel the dark energy radiating off it almost immediately.
"No way," Harry breathed, reaching out to the trinket. "Is that what I think it is?"
As soon as his fingers touched the patina, a wave of interest and fascination hit him. One that wasn't his own or from Voldemort. It came from within the locket.
"Yes," Voldemort crooned, lips lilted in a dangerous smirk and sharp canines glittering in the candle light.
"Neat," Harry answered distractedly, letting his fingers brush the surface a little longer and amazed by the reaction he received from the seemingly inanimate object. "Isn't he lonely?" Harry asked in soft consideration.
Voldemort glanced at Harry through the corner of his eye. "Lonely? I don't get lonely."
Harry sighed and gently pried the locket from Voldemort's cool hands. Voldemort allowed Harry to take the object while still retaining control of the chain, a protectiveness evident that Harry didn't expect him to relinquish. There was a sudden rush of emotion and, while largely tainted with dark magic and insidious intentions, there was a certain joy about it. A leaping of excitement that couldn't be contained.
"Humans are social animals," Harry whispered, turning the locket over in his hands and watching his breath fog the surface of the silver. "Loneliness is an instinct. To remind us to socialise. It's not only natural, it's ingrained in our very psyche."
"You speak as if you know loneliness," Voldemort answered quietly, Kreacher's soft sobs now almost entirely fading away into the background as Harry looked up. The man was so close, fingers playing with the silver chain and lips hovering just over Harry's own.
"Of course I know loneliness," Harry answered. "To be lonely is to be human."
"I thought to love is to be human," Voldemort answered with a huff of faux laughter.
"Wouldn't that be so simple?" Harry asked, feeling woozy under the onslaught of emotions exploding from his fingertips. Harry tilted his head as he studied Voldemort's bottom lip, so close to his and –
"That's enough," Voldemort practically snarled, pulling the chain harshly and ripping the locket from Harry's fingertips.
Harry blinked in surprise, feeling as if suddenly coming out of a trance.
"Did he just… Seduce me?" Harry asked, still feeling a little askew and very much flustered.
"Apparently we're all interested in Harry Potter," Voldemort drawled, eyes glinting as he tucked the locket into his pocket. "And perhaps we'll test that theory one day, but right now I have an elf to punish."
Harry nodded and allowed himself to be pushed in the directly of the library, still blinking blearily and smiling secretly to himself as he realised that he might just have all forms of Voldemort secured rather tightly around his little finger.
"What an ass," Hermione fumed.
Harry hummed, not looking up from his book. He finally got his tea and was determined to not let anything disturb the cosy relaxation that came from enjoying a steaming cup of darjeeling.
Hermione scowled at him. "Don't just agree without listening! I can't believe he can even order Kreacher around! He's not Kreacher's master. No one should be Kreacher's master! He should be a free elf, Harry!"
Harry put down his book and looked at Hermione thoughtfully. "Do you really believe that?" Harry asked.
Hermione looked affronted. "Of course I believe that!" She practically squawked.
"And you've asked Kreacher this?" Harry pressed.
"Well, he wouldn't say that he wants to be free but that's only because he doesn't know what it's like to – "
"Have you read about house elves that are freed, Hermione?" Harry cut through, not rudely but firmly still.
"Yes, I have, and there are a few minor cases that go wrong but for the most part they eventually adjust – "
"Four out of five," Harry interrupted again.
"What?" Hermione asked in surprise.
"Four out of five house elves commit suicide after being set free within five years," Harry answered.
"That's – no, there's no way," Hermione stated in disbelief.
Harry shrugged. "Witches and wizards have cultivated house elves for obedience. Bred them, really. Similar to how muggles breed dogs. We've bred total and utter submission and adoration into those little creatures. We've bred in a bond, like an imprint. The first family a house elf serves will be their family for eternity. If you truly want the abuse of house elves to end, you'll have to stop the breeding of house elves. Because there is no regulation in the world that will stop people from treating their house elves how they want to in the confines of their own home."
Hermione stared at Harry slack jawed, expression horrified as if he had said something unconscionable.
"They're – they're not dogs, Harry," Hermione protested softly. "They're people. Creatures that aren't as strong or fierce as goblins, so they're taken advantage of."
"Sure," Harry agreed instantly. "So, stop the breeding and sale of house elves."
Hermione scowled, then. It was an expression Harry knew very well. It meant that while Hermione didn't have an argument now, she would keep researching until she found away around his argument and she would spring it on him at some random interval in the future. Merlin, help him.
"I'm still writing Riddle a strongly worded letter," Hermione warned firmly, turning back to her parchment and inking her quill with ferocity.
Harry shrugged and returned to his reading.
Harry woke up the feeling of something being slipped onto his finger. He blinked blearily at Voldemort, the light of the early morning illuminating the man's defined features.
"Found this in Dumbledore's possessions," Voldemort quietly answered Harry's unspoken question, expression sharp but red eyes lacking their normal venom. "Less animated, or lonely I believe you would say, than the locket. Who I put in there is gone now, but that doesn't diminish its value."
Harry raised the large, cracked gemstone to his eyes, hovering his hand over his face and smiling softly.
"I like it," Harry responded, letting his hand fall back to the side of the bed. "Now let me sleep, you insomniac." Harry barely formed the words before falling back into a light doze.
Voldemort was Not Happy to receive Hermione's letter. It was a long, drawn out criticism of wizarding social culture with a focus on the abuse of creature rights, and a generally scathing personal attack on Voldemort's political stances. It was a good eight feet long and read like a well-researched essay on precisely how much Hermione Granger despised Lord Voldemort.
Voldemort was, to say the least, not impressed.
Harry managed to apparate directly to Hermione's building doorstep just as Voldemort personally made a house call on his friend. He raced up the stairs and listened with dread as Hermione shrieked in surprise to the sound of her front door being blasted in. Harry caught sight of Voldemort advancing on the pale, bushy haired brunette before wishing in an instant that Voldemort couldn't hurt his best friend.
Voldemort's wand flew out of his hand and clattered uselessly on the wooden floorboards.
Both Voldemort and Hermione stared at one another in surprise before the tall man turned sharply on his heel to face a panting Harry.
"No," Harry gasped. "Absolutely not."
"You just disarmed me," Voldemort stated flatly.
"You're about to kill my best friend," Harry answered in a no-nonsense tone. "We talked about this. No murdering my family. I don't care what you do, and I get that you deal with asshats that sometimes need a good murder, but for Merlin's sake murder isn't always the answer!"
"You have no idea what you have done," Voldemort hissed icily in Parseltongue.
"And you have no idea what will happen if you do this," Harry answered back firmly.
"Are you threatening me?" Voldemort asked calmly. Too calmly.
"No," Harry responded, straightening himself and scowling. "I don't have any interest in threatening you. I'm just telling you this: Hermione is my best friend, I love her. I love you. So do not make me choose."
Hermione squawked and Voldemort's eyes narrowed to slits.
"What did you say to me?" Voldemort whispered in a deathly dangerous tone.
"Don't make me choose," Harry repeated unsurely.
"Before that," Voldemort snapped, drawing closer to Harry with large steps.
"She's my best friend?" Harry chirped, suddenly realising the error of his ways. Oh, Merlin all mighty did he just say – Harry was in So Much Trouble.
"The middle part, you moron," Voldemort crooned, suddenly in his face and large hands wrapping around Harry's midriff.
"Um," Hermione butt in.
"Would you look at the time?" Harry asked suddenly, looking at Hermione for an escape, heat blossoming across his face. "It's like three. Thirty. I think. Aren't we supposed to be doing that thing right now? Don't – don't we have a thing?"
Voldemort smirked viciously and apparated them away in an instant.
Harry awoke once more to the vision of Voldemort hovering over him, strong forearms braced on either side of his head and red eyes peering down at him with sardonic amusement.
"Harry Potter," Voldemort whispered softly. "You foolish child."
"Shut up," Harry groaned, trying to roll over onto his side and frowning as the arms around him barely allowed for movement. "It's hardly morning."
"Love. You stupid, foolish, insane child," Voldemort continued.
"Yeah sure okay," Harry muttered into his pillow, ignoring Voldemort's amused laughter. Harry pointedly stared away from Voldemort's teasing (his cruel version of it, that is) expression and blinked at surprise at his bedside table.
Voldemort's wand, a fairly new addition to the man's collection, lay on his bedside table. Harry's invisibility cloak was also draped over the edge and he could not for the life of him recall placing either there. Judging by Voldemort's state of undress, neither had he at some point in the night. Harry realised with a start that he never did get around to mentioning his invisibility cloak to Voldemort. Harry liked to keep some mystery in their life, after all.
Harry reached to push the cloak over the edge of the table out of line of sight and his ring tingled in a sudden wave of anticipated magic. Harry hovered his hand close to the other objects, blinking in surprise at the magnetic feel of the three items. He experimentally waved his hand, feeling the ring drawn to the wand and cloak from any angle.
"What do you think that's about?" Harry asked, nodding towards his odd collection of trinkets.
Voldemort turned his line of sight to Harry's hand and bedside table. The man's lean frame stiffened and Harry peered up to study his expression. It was a wonderous mixture of shock, awe, and then suddenly irritation.
"The Hallows. You have all three Hallows," Voldemort whispered into the room. He sounded stunned.
"Hallows," Harry repeated dully. And he even had 'all three'. It sounded like one of those weird wizarding things that was going to bring Harry a lot of trouble, so he sighed and nestled his head back into the pillows. "Cool. Tell me about it after nine am," Harry muttered and pulled the duvet higher over their frames.
"You really are my little wild card, Harry Potter," Voldemort hissed while laughing wondrously, a noise Harry had never heard from the man. Harry rolled his eyes and smiled contently as cool lips pressed against his own.
Three Hallows, Harry thought to himself in amusement. Whatever would wizards think of next?