Note: So I'm surprised at you all; you're really slacking off. Usually I get attacked about the tiniest plot holes and spelling mistakes, but I just went back to reread what I've written, and there are such glaring mistakes I'm amazed no one brought it up. Biddy's name keeps changing, Snape never made the pain potion, Harry's scar hasn't hurt him once...I have a lot to fix. I'm putting this chapter up before i go back and make some corrections, so it may be a little weird to live. Pretend for me that Harry's scar had been hurting anytime Voldemort was around and the Dark Lord had Snape create a pain illing potion for the boy. That will come into play at the end of the chapter.
The wind howled against Harry's window the next morning. He groaned as it woke him, but got up knowing he wouldn't sleep with the storm. He sighed heavily has that chime he detested so much rang midnight and shrugged into his robe. He regretted not owning slippers as the floor was freezing this late at night. He tried to read, tried to practice his wandless magic, but nothing held his interest. Eventually he took to staring out into the storm. Thunder rolled across the sky, and lightning pierced the darkness. Then there was one strangely bright flash of lightning, and there was a face in the window, bloodied with mouth open in a permanent scream.
Harry yelped and through himself away from the window. He shook his head and told himself he was just tired being up in the middle of the night. Heart pounding, he went to the bathroom to splash some cold water on his face and chase away what he know believed was surely just a nightmare. But as he stood at the sink, he looked into the mirror and behind him appeared the man he'd beheaded the day before, cradling his head and reaching out at Harry. Harry screamed and ran from the bathroom, but in his bedroom stood his other victim, clutching at her bleeding stomach. He choked back a sob as he stumbled away from the apparition and fled his bedroom, but they were in his living room too. He ran from his chambers completely and fled down the hall, but the beheaded man stood in his way, he turned and ran the other way, tripping over his feet and sprawling on the carpet. He looked back, saw the man coming closer, and dragged himself to his feet. In his way now was the woman he'd stabbed through the chest, screaming and gurgling on blood.
He saw a door next to him and threw it open, slamming it shut behind him and leaning against it with a sigh of relief. He stepped forward to examine what room he was in, but heard a sound behind him and turned. There stood the three he had killed so heartlessly, and in front of them...James and Lily Potter, bloodied and beaten. Lily held a knife. Harry found he couldn't move as she approached him, knife glittering in the darkness. He tried to cry out, but his body wouldn't obey him.
Harry was sitting in bed, screaming. He felt arms around him and he clung to the body next to his until his screams dimmed to strangled sobs. A hand smoothed his hair and held him tightly, murmuring gentle sounds and rocking him slowly.
"You're safe, Harry," a soft voice whispered and he knew his father was there. "There is only you and me here; no one will hurt you." Harry didn't move until his sobs eased to hiccups. "There now, that's right. Deep slow breaths. Would you like to tell me what happened?" Harry shook his head frantically, holding tight to the only thing he was sure was solid. "That's alright, you don't have to anything you don't to right now." Voldemort tried to detach himself from his son, but the boy clung regardless. "I promise I won't leave you, don't worry. You need to lay down now, Harry; the sun's barely risen. Daylight will chase away your fears, and I'll be hear to help. Lay down now; close your eyes." Weariness began to overcome Harry as he calmed down. Slowly he let himself be moved and his father layed him back down onto the bed and pulled the covers up to his chin. "There. Don't be afraid; I'll stay right here with you," he continued to speak in a low soothing voice until Harry's breathing slowed into an even rhythmic pattern and he knew the boy slept. He stayed sitting on the bed with him until he was sure Harry wouldn't wake again, then he went to the bookshelf and selected a book for himself. He came back and sat by Harry's bed, settling in to read until his son woke up. He sighed heavily as he watched his son's troubled expression. He hadn't anticipated this being so hard for him, but if that nightmare was any indication he would have to put any more of Harry's training on hold for a little while.
After a little while, he smiled ruefully. Funny, he thought, how all his years plagued by nightmares would come in handy. He had never had anyone to come to him in the middle of the night and put his fears to rest, but he was happy to be able to help his son. Poor Biddy had come running for him when she heard Harry screaming in his sleep, terrified of punishment for waking her master but more afraid for Harry. He would have to find some way to reward her for her good care of the boy.
Harry slept well into the morning. He woke quietly this time, though haunted by the memory of his nightmare. He breathed deeply and opened his eyes to the bright morning light.
"Ah, you're awake," Voldemort said from across the room where he was replacing his book. He returned to the bed and sat beside his son. "How do you feel? You gave me quite the scare last night."
"I'm sorry," Harry apologized. "I have a lot of nightmares. It's no big deal. You shouldn't have bothered getting up last night."
"That's my job," Voldemort said with a little smile. "You have a father now and you're going to have to get used to the special treatment." He ruffled Harry's hair, only to have his hand slapped away. "Come, let's get something to eat."
Harry felt his stomach rumbled at that thought of food and nodded. He didn't bother changing into robes as they padded out and away to the dining hall, where Voldemort called to the house elves to make them breakfast and joined his son at the table where he watched Harry sipping at a cup of tea that had been brought to him, and began to stir his own.
"If you don't mind me asking, what are these nightmares of yours about?"
Harry snickered into his tea. "Before tonight? You." Harry laughed as Voldemort choked on his drink. "What did you expect? You've only been trying to kill me my entire life. You know how terrified I was the year you shared a body with Quirrell and he crumbled at my touch? I couldn't sleep for months. I dreamed of basilisks and Ginny dying for weeks in my Second Year. And don't even start me on the terrors that haunted me after your rebirth. Oh and the whole thing with horrible veil of death. Still have nightmares about that. As much as I hated you for it, sending me fake visions was a brilliant idea."
Voldemort rolled his eyes at the boy. Only Harry would be able to compartmentalize so well as to be so aloof on these topics. "I had no idea about any of that." Harry looked at him in surprise.
"Really? I always knew when you were upset...or particularly happy, which of course made everyone else upset. Or angry, or mischievous, and especially if you were killing something. I was amazed it took you so long to figure out our link when I had splitting headaches anytime you were feeling moody. I'm really very thankful for Snape's potions. I don't think I could handle living with you if I couldn't think through the pain."
"That's very strange. I only had pain if I touched you, up until the ceremony anyway. I ought to look into this link of ours more thoroughly. Maybe we can use it to our advantage. But if it's not too painful for you now, I'd be interested to know what you dreampt of last night."
Harry stared into his tea, suddenly quiet. "I don't really want to talk about it. I have to think more about it. But I will tell you that it was a result of the raid yesterday."
"I was afraid you had pushed yourself too hard."
"I guess so. But at the time, it seemed ok. Natural, even. Now...." Harry shook his head as he let his words trail off.
"Harry," Voldemort said, slowly. "You know I'm not forcing you to stay here. I won't force you to take this life if it will cause you this much pain. If you want to return to your old life, you still can."
Harry looked at him absurdly. "And leave you? I can't do that. I can't believe I'm saying that, but it's true."
"Yes, you can," Voldemort told him. "It's not too late. I can go back to being the evil Dark Lord, and you can return to your life as the Boy-Who-Lived. You can tell Dumbledore that I held you captive here, tell Severus you were under the Imperius."
"You know that isn't true," Harry told him "Nothing will ever be the same."
"It can be, if you want it so. I won't take that comfort from you. I know you were happy. I will claim the blood on your hands if you'll let me."
Harry stared at his food and pushed his breakfast around the plate while he thought. After a few minutes, unaware of the anguish his father felt just a few feet from him, he said, "No, I will stay here. Don't even suggest we return to our old lives. I don't know what I'll do in the long run, but right now I'm happy. Happier than I ever have been with the Dursley's, or even at Hogwarts. The closest I've ever been to feeling like this was at the Weasley's, but even then...they weren't really my family. You are, and I don't want to lose that."
"Well I won't make you leave as much as I won't make you stay." He reached across the table and squeezed Harry's hand. Harry shook him off.
"Alright alright enough of this mushy lovey dovey stuff. I'm missing my lessons. I'm surprised you haven't dragged me off to the practice room yet."
"You know, I was thinking about skipping lessons for a little while. I think a little free study is in order. You haven't been working on your wandless magic recently, have you?"
"No," Harry said guiltily. "I should get on that."
"Well then why don't you work on that today? I have some things to take care of myself. Why don't you take Nagini with you? You two need some time to get to know each other, and you may be surprised to find how helpful she can be."
Harry shrugged. "Alright, that's fine with me. Where is she anyway?"
"How should I know? She's a very independent snake. Call her, see if she's around to hear." Harry kept his eyes down, embarrassed. "What's wrong?"
"I, um, never really figured out how to just speak in parseltongue without a snake to speak at."
"Well we'll just have to fix that then," Voldemort said, relieved. He mentally hit himself for always overreacting to every little worry. "Get an imagine of a snake in your mind, and try to speak to it mentally. You'll find that practicing that will enable you to think in parseltongue. A useful skill if you have people intent on getting in your head. Also useful against truth potions. They can force you to answer questions, but they can't decide what language you answer in. Once you have a decent grasp on thinking it, say it out loud."
"Um, Nagini?" Harry hissed, and jumped at his success.
"I told you it was easy. Just takes a minute to get the hang of. Call again, louder."
"Nagini!" he hissed loudly. Voldemort held up a hand to indicate to waiting, and after a few minutes she slithered through the door.
"You rang?" She hissed, annoyed.
"Don't fuss, Nagini. I'm just teaching Harry a little about speaking to you. Would you stay with him today? I'm leaving him to independent study for the day and I'd like you to keep an eye on him."
"Hey!" Harry interrupted. "I can hear you, you know."
Despite his irritation, Harry led Nagini out of the dining room and into the library, leaving Voldemort to chuckle after him. Left alone, Voldemort began to reconsider his plans as he finished his breakfast. He hadn't intended to seriously encourage Harry's wandless magic, thinking it would just be a nice little hobby to take his mind of other things, but the boy seemed genuinely interested in pursuing it. Perhaps he could help him. This would be an incredible advantage if Harry could master it.
Meanwhile, Nagini had slithered up Harry's leg and settled around his shoulders. He was sitting in the library behind a low table. He had placed three books of varying sizes on the table along with a few quills.
"What do you think, Nagini? A good set up?" He hissed at the snake who rested on him. She raised her head lazily to see what he had done.
"I suppose. What do you expect to accomplish through it?"
"I just want to practice a little. Open the books, levitate the quills, little things like that."
Nagini snorted, a peculiar sound coming from a snake. "You'll never get anywhere if you stick to levitating quills."
"Well then, all-knowing-snake, what do you suggest I do?"
Harry soon discovered that when given free rein, Nagini could be very bossy. Maybe being the companion of a man with a very strong need to control had suppressed this part of her, but Harry was a little overwhelmed when it came out. His father had been very gentle with their lessons, but as Nagini quickly took over his "independent" study, he began to liken her more to a female Snape: demanding, unsympathetic, and holding incredibly high expectations. However, Harry also found that he wasn't the wimp from years past and he didn't give in to many of her demands. Eventually she slithered, fed up with him, from the library, leaving him on his own.
He used his time more wisely than he usually did. With the afternoon to himself he felt more adventurous and enjoyed experimenting with what little he could do. He realized that he was using too much energy in random bursts, and began to figure out how to direct the magic more efficiently. The more little tricks he figured out, the easier wandless magic became. He was amazed at his progress.
Lord Voldemort decided to drop in on Harry a little while before dinner. His son had been working for nearly five hours straight, and he was interested to see what had been accomplished, or whether the boy had simply exhausted himself. He leaned against the door frame looking in, arms crossed and a faint smile playing on his lips. Harry was sitting with his back to the door and Voldemort enjoyed a moment to what his child unseen. He felt his heart swell as he saw the quill in front of him float up, a little shaky, but slowly becoming still. He nearly revealed himself there, but stopped when he saw the quill turn point down and dip into a bottle of ink off to the side. He watched Harry place a parchment out on the table, and as the quill began to scrawl slowly across the page. It started with scribbles, lines, and loops, but slowly it began to form words. It was a child's messy scratching, but they were certainly words.
He did step forward then and came to kneel beside the chair Harry sat in. Harry shot a grin at his father and the quill faltered but a stern glare brought it back into place. Staring intently, he also levitated a small square of cloth and wiped the ink of the nib of the quill. He set them both down on the table and let out a heavy breath. He looked to his father with eager eyes.
"What do you think?"
Voldemort picked up the parchment and examined the writing. "I think I need to give you a few lessons on penmanship," he said.
"Dad!" Harry rolled his eyes. Voldemort chuckled.
"I think you're doing very well, child. You have continued well behind my expectations." Harry beamed. Seeing his son's pride, he added, "But don't get too cocky, Harry. You have a long way to go if you expect any practical use from this. Have you tried to cast any spells, or are you just directing spare magic?"
Harry frowned. "I haven't tried casting any spells yet. I thought wandless magic was the ability to make magic do whatever you wanted to do, not limited to spells. That's what your books say."
"Well yes," Voldemort said and pulled up a chair of his own. "But you must understand how magic works, how it moves, how it responds. You'll be able to do incredible things if you master wandless magic, but need to be careful. What if you tried to stun someone, but didn't know how stunning magic really functions? Our wands direct magic and control it in a safe manner. If you try going wandless, what's to stop you from stopping their heart instead of just their limbs?"
"I hadn't thought of that," Harry said soberly. "But how can I learn to be safe with it?"
"I don't know, Harry. I am able to do some basic wandless magic, but I never bothered to develop the skill. There was never a need and I was never particularly interested in trying. You'll have to work that out for yourself. I'll help if I can, but there's only so much I can do."
They continued to discuss the ups and downs of wandless magic the rest of the evening through. They spent the next several days this way, putting off lessons and working instead on wandless magic. They experimented together and began to work out more and more things Harry could do. Every day Harry improved, and they were both astounded at his progress. Voldemort had begun to worry about Harry's studies, as with their standard lessons in the basic subjects he wasn't particularly gifted. He could pass his classes decently enough, but he was in no way excelling. He was happy to see that the individual attention was helping him significantly; however he worried that his son would never find something he was truly good at. Besides getting into trouble, that is, and defense magic. Defense was important, and he knew in the past the boy had considered being an Auror, but it was obvious that he wasn't very passionate about that future. Harry's future with him was still uncertain. Here, however, Harry was always focused, always excited to learn something new. He was his own teacher and he was doing well.
Voldemort was still in a good mood a few days later when he sat behind his desk, looking at Severus Snape, seated opposite him. Snape looked tired, but otherwise in good health. Voldemort liked to be sure his followers didn't suffer unnecessarily, especially valuable ones.
"Well Severus, what did you think of Harry's little show last week?" Voldemort watched Snape's face carefully. He was amused to see it was smooth as glass. Snape always had been good with his expressions.
"It was a little showy," Snape replied after a moment.
"Yes," Voldemort said with a chuckle. "He's quite the showman. A little over the top, but he had to make a good impression. How is our dear Headmaster taking it?"
Snape weighed his words carefully. "He is suspicious, of course. This progeny of yours came about rather suddenly, and only after Harry disappeared."
Voldemort frowned. This was unavoidable, but he would have to be careful. "How suspicious is he?"
"I do not believe there is anything to worry about, my Lord. Albus knows that his fear for Potter's safety is skewing his perception. I have reassured him as best I can that Potter is in no immediate danger, but there's only so much I can do without raising more suspicions."
Voldemort only stared at him for a moment then sighed. "I know this is difficult for you, Severus. You can't be truthful with me and now you can't be truthful with Dumbledore either. I know that even your original acceptance was only a half-truth, designed to take advantage of my trust and keep all options open as long as possible. However, you have been doing well for me and I am well pleased. Have you even told Dumbledore about my offer?"
"I have not," Snape responded.
"You will be rewarded for your loyalty," Voldemort decided.
"There is no need for that, my Lord. You have rewarded me greatly already. You have allowed me to see and spend time with Potter. You have not ousted me to the rest of your followers. And not once have you taken away my ability to choose for myself what to do. I am grateful for the privileges you have already bestowed on me," he said and bowed his head slightly. Voldemort smiled lightly at him.
"And it is moments like these that renew my trust in you. There is a tone in your voice that doesn't lie. But we have other things to discuss. I would like you to work on another batch of potion for Harry. He finished the test supply and I wanted too see whether the effects would last, but he has begun to complain about twinges and I worry how much it will increase."
"That should not take long. I can recreate the original potion with little trouble," said Snape as he began to go over ingredient lists in his head. Snape had a mind that worked well for potion making. He was able to make connections that others overlooked and understood well how many different variables could eventually come together, making for an efficient and quite possibly brilliant potions master. "I was thinking, if I may have your permission to use your lab, that I may be able to improve the potion. Make it last longer, taste better, simplify the process. I imagine Potter will be taking this potion for an extended period of time, and he ought to be able to make himself eventually."
Voldemort nodded approvingly. "Good ideas, Severus. I'm allowing you access to anything you need for whatever length of time you need for this project of yours. I appreciate the initiative you're taking."
"Thank you, my Lord. I will begin immediately if that would please you."
Voldemort chuckled and said, "Severus there's no need to brown nose a man who knows you're a spy."
Snape smirked in response. "It's automatic, my Lord."
Harry, meanwhile, was laying on his bed in his darkened bedroom with a wet cloth on his forehead. His head ached acutely and he was getting flashes of emotions and images from his father. He sighed heavily and groaned, trying to ignore it. He knew Snape was in the building and would be starting on his potion soon, and he hoped it would be done tonight. He was glad that his father was happy, but he didn't need to know with such certainty.
His father found him a few hours later still laying there, sleeping this time. He sat on the bed beside him, but saw how restless his sleep was, and that it got worse if he came near and worse yet if he touched him. He backed off, afraid of waking him, and left him alone. He would tell Snape to get the potion done as quickly as possible.