A Truth Universally Acknowledged
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, it belongs to J.K. Rowling.
Pairing: Voldemort x Harry.
Summary: Lord Voldemort rules the world of wizards, and has done for three generations. Sitting on his cold throne he wonders if it is enough, when all the people around him fear him.
Just as isolated and alone as he had always been Lord Voldemort, the wizard born Tom Marvolo Riddle, sat on his pewter throne. His back rigidly straight and his face blank, as he watched the scene before him unfold. He looked like a statue carved of stone, breathed to life by his creator. He was just as cold.
"My Lord," the blond man began. A Malfoy; you could always tell. Malfoy's had their own brand of arrogance and distain, which clung to them like a bad smell. He looked nothing like his great-grandfather Lucius or his grandfather Draco. Oh, he had the striking blond hair and the icy grey eyes that all Malfoys seemed to be born with, but you could never mistake him for either of his forefathers. There was a weakness in him that they had not had; a lack of purpose. Perhaps because there was no longer any need for it? The last of the Resistance had been squashed when this Malfoy's grandfather was little more than a child.
"Yes, Caligula?" He drawled, noticing with distaste that this Malfoy shuddered just hearing him speak. It was quite frankly highly infuriating. He was from one of the purest bloodlines, and he still acted like a common cowardly Mudblood. Voldemort knew that his appearance and mannerisms were not frightening enough to invoke that response, unless he desired it so, because if it was others would react like this cowardly Malfoy and they didn't.
"My Lord," Caligula began again. Voldemort bit back a sigh. This Malfoy was certainly tiresome; he was idiotic too, by the looks of it. A perfectly bothersome and irritating combination of personality traits. Perhaps it would have been better to let the Mudblood Hermione Granger survive, and then given her to young Draco Malfoy as a "reward" for her capture. Any descendants from that union would have been interesting, not simpering sycophantic fools. Why had he not thought this far ahead?
"Get on with it," he growled. Caligula visibly paled at this; Voldemort sighed he couldn't help wondering why someone so obviously weak had made it so far within his ranks. Surely someone wanting to better their position would have destroyed the tiresome creature. Apparently not. It really was a pity. Maybe if he said the right words one of the imbeciles might take the initiative...? No, that really was too much to hope for. Pity really.
"Of course, My Lord. As I was saying…" As Caligula rambled on about something non-interesting or relevant- probably both.
Voldemort let his mind drift as Caligula droned on and on and on. Perhaps he would visit his Pet, he hadn't seen him in a while had he? The visit was long overdue, and he could always trust his Pet to be honest.
"What exactly does the fact that you think the Muggles may have come up with an interesting weapon have to do with the fact that Welsh Wizard community thinks that it can leave and no longer be a part of the British Wizard community, Caligula?" He demanded, resisting the inclination to visibly twitch; it wouldn't do him any good, and it would take forever to stop once he started.
"Erm… nothing?" Caligula offered almost hopefully. He really was going to have to do something about this Malfoy. Perhaps something interesting would present itself, or his Pet would offer a clever suggestion or two? Or perhaps he should stop overcomplicating matters and simply settle for Avada Kedavra'ing the moronic twat? Yes, that seemed like a promising solution. Simple, quick and effective. Except the moron wasn't shutting up; he was talking and talking and talking.
"Exactly," he said smiling coldly, determined to get him to shut up before a headache developed. "You can come and see me tomorrow, and we can discuss this latest development of the Muggles then. Lestrange will find an appropriate time for you." He offered even though it meant the next day was going to be hell, because if he didn't he'd end up getting stalked again. It had been irritating enough the first time. "Now, does anyone else have anything remotely useful to say? I thought not. You are dismissed." He swept out of the room, not bothering to wait for his 'loyal followers' to go. He heard the first of many pops, as they began to leave before the door swung shut behind him.
He stalked along the many corridors of Slytherin Manor towards his Pet's rooms. He was in need of companionship and he was sure his Pet wouldn't mind. Would welcome his company in fact, unlike the followers he had just left who reviled him as much as they feared him. It was tiresome. He almost missed Lucius and Bella and Rodolphus and Fenrir. Almost. They were all long gone. Nothing more than bones and dust buried in the ground, in once elegant wooden boxes. He would never have to suffer that particular indignity, nor would his Pet- not if he had anything to say, and he did: plenty.
He pushed open the door to his Pet's rooms, and found his Pet lounging contentedly in the middle of jade silk sheets that brought out the bright emerald in his eyes. From his position by the door he could not tell the state of his Pet's dress because of the sheet's positioning. He wasn't particularly bothered if his Pet was fully clothed or naked, just as long as he was the only person to see him like that. Warm eyes caught him standing in the shadows of the doorway, and brightened. "What are you doing hiding there Tom?" His Pet asked with a laugh, his eyes sparkling with good humour; a welcome change from the tension in the meeting. "Come in you fool, I was wondering when you were going to drop by for a visit." His Pet straightened sitting up in the bed, the sheet pooled in his lap allowing Voldemort to see that he was at least half-naked, and patted the bed next to him encouragingly.
Voldemort moved into the room, watching his Pet closely for any sign of disgust, and perched on the edge of the bed. His Pet raised a dark eyebrow in question, but otherwise stayed exactly where he was as if he was aware of Voldemort's discomfort. "Do you – do you think I'm ugly? Repulsive even?" Voldemort asked at length; his Pet frowned at him, whether in disgust or thought Voldemort could not tell. He could have delved into his Pet's mind, but the idea that his Pet might be repulsed by his very appearance repelled any inclination he had to do it. He turned his back to his Pet, unwilling to see his face, as he waited for his Pet to respond.
"What makes you think you're ugly?" His Pet asked his voice carefully neutral. Voldemort found his fear rising at this careful neutrality. His Pet was never neutral; never, ever. It was worrying. "Who suggested that you are repulsive?"
"No one," Voldemort responded honestly. If it were possible his Pet's frown deepened.
"Then why do you ask?" His Pet demanded. "There must be a reason. I know you Tom, your appearance doesn't usually rate highly on your daily agenda." Voldemort found himself stiffening.
"My appearance rarely matters." He snapped, suddenly defensive. "Why should it? I rule, why should it matter to anyone what I look like?" Despite his words he wasn't angry with his Pet, not really. It wasn't his Pet's fault that he had had to deal with the disdain of his followers, particularly that of Caligula Malfoy. "I'm sorry, Harry." He murmured feeling movement behind him; Harry moved up behind him, heedless of the sheets and his state of undress, and pressed himself against Voldemort's back wrapping his arms around Voldemort's torso and placing a gentle kiss just below his jaw.
Voldemort found himself relaxing in the familiar embrace. Harry was the only one who touched him; was the only one who was allowed to touch him. Partly because that was how he wanted it, he didn't want just anyone thinking that they had the right to touch him, and partly because he didn't like the fear his followers exuded when they were forced to touch him.
Harry rested his chin on Voldemort's shoulder; they stayed like that, both with their eyes closed, enjoying the moment. "Do you think I'm ugly, honestly?" He asked again, needing an answer from Harry. This close he could feel Harry's amusement at the question and he wasn't sure if the amusement was reassuring or not.
"Of course I don't," Harry answered. "What prompted such a stupid question, anyway?" Voldemort broke the embrace and turned around to face Harry. Harry sat watching him quizzically, the sheet slipping so that it barely covered anything.
"Caligula." Voldemort responded with a sigh.
"Should I be worried?" Harry enquired, his eyes sparkling with quiet amusement. "Only you do seem to think a lot about him, and hardly ever about me." He pouted. Voldemort felt his lip twitch in amusement and narrowed his eyes, taking on a posture of annoyance.
"Have you been snooping in my mind again, Pet?" He growled.
"Who me? Of course not! I'm a Gryffindor after all, and what self respecting Gryffindor would do anything so thoroughly Slytherin?" He teased, before adding seriously; "I was worried about you. You have seemed on edge for days. When you hadn't come to visit me, I was worried and thought I'd make sure everything was okay."
Harry lent forward and kissed Voldemort gently, before drawing back and looking directly into his red eyes. "Don't let Caligula make you doubt yourself. You are the most handsome man I have ever met. You might not be as striking as a Malfoy, but then I have always felt that they looked awfully female. You are, however, beautiful - at least to me." Not letting Voldemort have a chance to question him, Harry captured his lips in a hungry kiss pulling him down onto the bed with him. Opening his mouth he deepened the kiss, feeling Voldemort's hands against his bare skin, and began undoing Voldemort's robe determined to distract him from his thoughts. They broke apart so Voldemort could pull his robe off over his head. Not allowing Harry the chance to regain dominance, Voldemort twisted so that he was lying on top of Harry. Harry inwardly grinned glad his plan had succeeded. Voldemort lent down and kissed him, and he thought no more.
Afterwards they lay entwined in the sheets; sated. Harry snuggled closer to Voldemort. "Maybe it's time I ventured out of these rooms again." He said into the silence; Voldemort started in surprise. "The last time I came out of them was for Draco Malfoy's funeral, and that was years and years ago."
"What's sparked this sudden change?" Voldemort enquired lazily, stroking Harry's hair. "I thought you didn't like this world; that you felt out of place?"
Harry sighed; "I still do," he admitted. "It doesn't mean anything to me, and it should. There's no one I know who is alive any more, other that you. I don't know anyone any more. That's why I've decided to. I need to find something that brings back the excitement of life. That old vampire was right. Time moves on around us regardless, if we want to live we have to grab life and that's what I intend to do."
"Oh? Any ideas?" Harry twisted and grinned wickedly.
"I was thinking of fulfilling my duty as your consort, and attending your next gathering. Oh, and I want to meet this Caligula Malfoy, you talk so much about. It's only fair if I get a look at my competition, after all."
"Oh, I don't think you'd find that Malfoy particularly entertaining. He's more of an… inconvenience. Now his son, Julius, I think you would like him."
"Trying to distract me, are you Tom?" Harry teased. "No, I will see this Caligula Malfoy and judge him for myself. Besides, it should be entertaining. For us, at least."
"I imagine they've forgotten about you, you haven't paid attention to the outside world for so long." Tom pointed out dryly.
"And you, dearest, pay too much attention to it. Tell me, is it everything you imagined it to be?" Harry enquired lazily as he was often wont to do. Voldemort stilled thoughtfully, and mulled the question over.
"Yes. I think it is. For now, at any rate." He answered. "I think I want to see the world again, will you come with me?" He asked feeling suddenly insecure. He wanted Harry with him, he realised suddenly, not shut up in rooms doing nothing, or perhaps something. He was unsure what Harry did whilst alone in his rooms. He had never asked and Harry had never offered an explanation.
"Of course," Harry responded. "You wouldn't leave me behind, would you?" He demanded shooting a glare at Voldemort, which was ruined by the smile that tugged on his lips. "Wizard and Muggle of course. I've heard from you how the Wizard world has changed, but I'd like to see how the Muggle one has. You don't mind, do you?"
"No," Voldemort agreed. "I think you might be right, for once, seeing the Muggle world after so long would be interesting."
Harry began disentangling himself from Voldemort, who groaned in protest. Laughing he placed a kiss on his forehead, "I think I shall get up and play wife, for you dearest. Shock everyone." He grinned impishly. "Will you join me for tea, later? I'm thinking a bath first though." Voldemort smirked wickedly and scooped Harry up in his arms before heading to the bathroom. Harry threw back his head and laughed. Entering the bathroom Voldemort found himself looking into intense emerald eyes, Harry lent up, wrapped his arms around Voldemort's neck, and kissed him.
Caligula Malfoy looked around Slytherin Manor, and decided as always that it was very imposing. Something had changed since the previous day within the Manor, but he was at a loss for what. It seemed no less imposing, no less remote, and no less daunting. Still, there was something different. Something – alive. The House Elf bowed. "Master sent me to greet you, sir." It said haltingly. Even the House Elf seemed different. "If you follow Misty?" It asked turning around, and without waiting for an answer it started hurrying along the hall. Caligula was forced to walk quickly to keep up; consequently he was slightly out of breath when he reached his destination.
To begin with he had thought that the House Elf was leading him to Lord Voldemort's study, where such meetings had been held since at least his father's time, but they passed the room. Caligula began to seriously wonder about what was going on. It was unheard of for anyone who was not a member of the household to be allowed anywhere within the Manor, apart from the meeting room or Lord Voldemort's study. He could vaguely remember his grandfather talking about great balls that used to be held within the Manor; of masquerades and intimate dinners, and all kinds of other interesting activities. No such things had been held in his lifetime or his father's; apparently they had become a rarity within his grandfather's, but no one would tell him why.
"Here we is, sir." The House Elf said opening the door to a room Caligula had never seen before. "In you go. The Master is waiting." The House Elf vanished and Caligula was forced to enter the mysterious room. The first thing he noticed was that it was a large room decorated in an oriental style. The second thing he noticed was that Lord Voldemort was sitting at a table drinking tea with a second man. Caligula had no idea who this second man was, and he felt distinctly unsettled. Bruised emerald eyes focused on him through glasses.
"So this is Caligula Malfoy?" The man said with obvious amusement. "He certain looks like Lucius did." Caligula frowned slightly wondering how the man knew his great-grandfather. "And he obviously doesn't know who I am." The man smiled disarmingly in his direction. "Well, come in. Aren't you going to join My Lord and me for tea?" He asked. Voldemort and this man shared an amused glance.
"Come along Malfoy, stop standing in the doorway and staring like a common Mudblood." Voldemort chided. Caligula didn't miss the look of annoyance the man sent Voldemort, nor did he miss the amused smile that Voldemort wore once he noticed. Caligula moved into the room and took the empty place. The man filled the cup in front of him with tea, and left him to fix it to his taste. "You want to change the gardens again?" The man nodded. They were obviously ignoring him and carrying on their conversation from prior to his arrival. He was highly irritated, as the old family adage came to mind: 'no one ignores a Malfoy. No one.' Still, reason dictated caution, especially as he had no knowledge about the mysterious man, and he kept silent.
"It seems like you've let them fall into disrepair again." The man chided with an exaggerated sigh. "I might as well simply start from scratch. Besides, it will give me something to do whilst you rule from your lofty throne." The man was teasing the Dark Lord, but no one was allowed to do that!
"I'll have you know it's hard work!" Voldemort protested. Caligula poured cream into his tea, and watched the two men debate with interest.
"I think your 'loyal servant' is getting impatient," the man said at last with an amused smile. "I don't think he likes being ignored. A typical Malfoy it seems with that attitude, just like Lucius and Draco." For a moment his eyes seemed to darken, but then he blinked and Caligula was left wondering if he imagined it.
"I'm The Dark Lord," Voldemort retorted. "I'm not supposed to care what he wants."
"He does really," the man said with a grin ducking the swipe Voldemort aimed at him. Caligula was surprised that Voldemort hadn't cursed him; that he hadn't even attempted to. The man's grin widened as apparently he guessed the gist of Caligula's thoughts, "I'm Harry by the way."
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Harry." Caligula said politely, though he didn't mean a word of it.
"No, I think you'll find it's my pleasure." Harry responded mysteriously, there was something in his tone made Caligula stiffen, and the first fission of fear danced down his spine. The Dark Lord was frightening; power seemed to ooze off him in waves. This man called Harry wasn't anything like that. At first Caligula had dismissed him, now he realised with horror that Harry's normality was a cover for something equally powerful, if not more so, than the Dark Lord. "You haven't done anything to make me or My Lord angry, have you?" Harry questioned. The room's temperature seemed to drop suddenly. "I've been very bored recently as My Lord has been very busy, and when I have seen him he keeps mentioning your name and so I have to wonder why someone as insignificant as yourself demands so much of My Lord's attention; especially when it's particularly obvious that you are unworthy of this attention..." Harry moved with liquid grace towards him; watching him Caligula found himself thinking of the caged tigers in Muggle zoos: confined but dangerous. He shuddered with unease, and his eyes flickered to the Dark Lord who was watching the scene unfold with amusement. "And I thought you could provide me with some entertainment." Harry finished stopping directly in front of him. "Tell me, Caligula, do you know who I am now?"
For a moment his mind was blank, as the fear tried to consume him; then it hit him. He knew exactly who this man was; "Yes. You're The Boy Who Lived, My Lord's 'wife'." Harry smiled, showing his teeth; Caligula shrank back.
"Looks like I win," he remarked cheerfully moving back to his place at the table. Dismissing Caligula as any sort of a threat, much to Caligula's confused irritation, and began eating a scone.
"You came here for a reason, I suppose." Harry said at length his eyes narrowing. "State it and then bugger off – thought how literally you take that is up to you." He smiled sweetly. "Well?"
Caligula looked at Voldemort who had, up till this point, kept quiet; "My Lord asked to see me. We were to discuss a new Muggle technology." He began.
"What?" Harry interrupted before Caligula could get into the swing of his story: how he had come across such a thing; a story he had been looking forward to relating in the hopes of pleasing the Dark Lord.
"Oh. Erm… it's a tiny," Caligula began to gesture, as if that would make his explanation any clearer. "It erm… allows Muggles to talk over great distances and…"
"A mobile phone?" Harry uttered in disbelief. Caligula shook his head emphatically, he'd already told the Dark Lord about those.
"I believe they called it a 'nano phone'." Caligula put in helpfully. Harry waved this comment aside, with an airy gesture.
Harry raised an eyebrow but, to Caligula's surprise, instead of making some disparaging comment or praising him, Harry said; "Are you sure you can take another couple of decades of this?" Voldemort shook his head with a sigh; much more of Caligula Malfoy and he was going to scream. "Well in that case, I guess we better start getting ready."
"Getting ready?" Caligula queried, suddenly aware that he was missing something. Missing something that might be vitally important for future bribery and schemes.
Harry turned impishly to him and said the first thing that came to him; "It is a truth universally acknowledged, Mr Malfoy, that a man in charge of a small fortune is, always, in want of a wife." Paraphrasing the opening line of Pride and Prejudice and watching with glee as Caligula looked at him even more confused.
"What Harry means, Caligula," Voldemort interrupted before Caligula could voice his obvious confusion. "Is, that your presence is no longer required here. So I suggest you get going, before one of us looses our patience." He smiled at Harry. "I did promise him something to entertain him," he added looking thoughtfully at Caligula. He didn't need to add anything more because Caligula quickly fled the room at this revelation. Harry pouted watching him flee, and then turned back to Voldemort grinning.
"So where to first, Tom?" Harry asked calling an Elf to clear away their guest's now vacant place. "I was thinking somewhere warm."
"It seems like a good place to start. Besides, I heard that it's a good place to gather ingredients for rare potions and spells." Voldemort supplied; Harry groaned, his eyes sparkling with laughter. "What?"
"What, indeed." Harry responded before kissing Voldemort.