"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."
Lord Acton, 1887
Draco paced back and forth, coveting his front door with his arms crossed and a livid look on his face. Each time Harry attempted to stand, the Minister's arms would unfold and a wand would be pointed at his heart. "Sit down!" Each time Harry sat back into his chair the motions would repeat.
"It's probably not true anyway. Why can't I just see for myself?" It was like talking to a brick wall. Harry nibbled at the dry skin on his bottom lip, eager to check out a very solid tip the Ministry had been given about an apparent Voldemort sighting. "You'd think you'd want to know if it were true. You, being the leader and all, if you even care about anyone else but yourself - but you don't - I'll just sit in misery while you guard the door, I guess."
A loud noise beside him startled Draco. A glass vase on the mantle cracked. Ignoring it, he kept his wits. Harry would never be allowed to look for Voldemort. "Yeah, you will. And shut up while you're at it!" The urge to leap onto his chair and beat the ever-loving piss out of him had become harder to resist. Draco knew his mind had snapped at some point the night before, shortly after Harry's first attempt at leaving his home. The thought of him running back to Voldemort, if he was indeed alive, was literally tearing him apart.
Harry fished for a smile, hoping to lighten the mood a notch. Draco pointed his wand at him. The smiled faded quickly. "Can I at least see the memos about it?'
Draco gawked at him. "No!"
The indescribably inconsiderable lack of compassion over Draco's broken heart finally pushed him over the line. He charged in and kicked out, planting his foot between Harry's thighs and connecting with the seat of the chair, toppling it backwards. "Because I said so!"
Harry plummeted backwards. His head bounced off the brick hearth behind him. "You wouldn't be so fucking brave without that wand. Toss it away and let me smash your god damn face in!" He fumbled around on the floor to stand despite the sudden fog hazing his vision. He rubbed the back of his aching head and looked at his hand. It was liberally coated with fresh blood. "Lovely, thanks for that."
Guilt withstanding, Draco continued his threats. "That's the least of your worries. You make one move for the door you won't walk for a month. Just try me." He wanted to be gentle, wishing he could hold Harry in his arms and kiss his wound better but the ex-hero had turned on him weeks before. Instead, he let the aggravation simmer over Harry's obsession with finding Voldemort and the seriously small amount of sexual contact between them.
Harry walked over and wiped his hand off on Draco's sleeve. "That makes a mess, eh? Hope that shirt's not terribly expensive. Looks expensive. Hm."
He ignored the taunt. The amount of blood seeping down along Harry's neck drew his attention. Draco leaned around to take a closer look, cringing. "We should have that looked at, I guess."
"No, Draco, I'm sorry," cried Harry, flinching and covering his wound. The colour drained from his face. He couldn't bear the thought of going back to St. Mungo's again so soon. He recoiled. "It's a small cut. I'll just put some ice on it."
Draco shook his head. "No. It's deep, bleeding too much. Change your shirt."
Harry felt his hands begin to tremble. He slowly began to realise how deathly afraid he was becoming of the hospital - and of Draco. As he pulled his shirt over his head, he swallowed hard. "And we're just going to get this looked at. You're not still angry, are you?"
He was. He was so angry and hurt that no amount of pleading would change his mind. After throwing him a clean shirt, Draco popped the bones in his neck and averted his eyes. "I think you need some more time to heal. Get your thoughts together about what's most important to you," he said blankly, staring off at the floor.
"Are you serious? Don't send me back. Come on, I'm really sorry."
Draco took his arm and walked him to the door. "I don't care if you're sorry," he said, holding his wand up the moment they crossed the wards. "Get this stupid idea out of your head. He's not coming back. If he were alive he would have made an appearance by now. I'm the only one who's willing to take you in and I do my damnedest to make you happy. Do you even care?"
Harry looked at the ground, finding the words to calm Draco's fears absent from his vocabulary.
"Okay, fine," he snapped. Gripping Harry's arm as hard as he could, he apparated them both to the boundaries of the hospital. Another round of Shock Spells would eventually quell this behaviour; the medi-wizards had assured him of that.
A new month brought two more arrests and another stay at the hospital. Draco added the numbers up in his head. Twelve stays at St. Mungo's, sixteen nights in Azkaban, and three court hearings. This did not bode well for his career.
Harry just couldn't keep his temper in check. Wherever he went he was barraged with questions about the Dark Lord and the events of the period where he was presumed dead. No one could understand how their saviour could live alone with his enemy for nearly two and a half years without one another unless, of course, they were not really enemies in the first place. There was nothing Draco could do to stop the verbal attacks, and believe that he really tried.
He was watched constantly by all factions, any strings he attempted to pull for Harry were immediately published in the Daily Prophet for all to see. His hands were tied. And for this reason alone, two of the four factions (The Order of the Phoenix and the Ministry) had taken advantage of this weakness and exploited him and Harry for all it was worth. Certain Harry was hiding critical information; they set out to retrieve it. A pity.
Sitting on a small chair, fidgeting with his tie, Harry felt like a complete fool. Forced to recount the past once more in front of the same two relentless judges on trumped up charges, he had come to the decision that living in this world without a purpose was definitely not for him.
Nudging him in the ribs, Draco jerked his head toward the courtroom. "They're calling you," he whispered.
Harry stood up and walked out into the open space, glaring at the Ministry personnel and ignoring the gossiping audience that had filled all of the seats. "Yeah, get this over with. I haven't done anything wrong," he growled. Percy Weasley and Marietta Edgecombe were sitting behind the bench, swaying their heads in sadness.
"I'm aware that you believe that, Mr. Potter, but there are some questions we'd like to ask you." She shuffled through her paperwork for a moment until Percy handed her the list she'd been searching for. "Ah, yes, thanks. Anyway, a case had been filed by a man who claimed you unjustly hexed him just outside of the Holy Ground on December the eighth, at approximately seven in the morning. There is another here who asserts you terrorised his family on March the twelfth, late into the evening, with a broomstick and your wand.
"Mr. Potter, these are just two of many crimes you are being accused of. We're seriously considering reopening the war crimes file if you cannot control yourself. I know this seems pointless and unfounded to you, The Chosen One, but we need answers. Lord… You-Know-Who had many underground spies. Let's start with that. We need those names!"
Harry looked back in befuddlement at Draco, who cringed and shrugged at his friend in helplessness. "Some Minister of Magic you are," he grumbled. He looked back at the judges in anger. "I don't have the pleasure of owning a broomstick or a wand. You two have made sure of that. And I have no idea who his spies were. I've told you this before."
Percy stood from his seat and began to walk around the bench. In his hand was a small potion bottle. He twirled it between his finger and thumb as he and two very intimidating-looking Aurors encircled the Boy-Who-Lived. Harry looked at each one before returning his eyes to the familiar looking phial. "We are prepared to get this information out of you by any means necessary, Mr. Potter, and that includes Veritaserum." The men on each side of him grabbed one of Harry's arms. Percy pointed to the chair behind them, the arms covered in chains. "Put him in the chair."
Craning to look again at his friend, Harry found both men he struggled with to be about as strong as any man could possibly be. He was easily shoved into the chair without any effort on their part. The now animated chains began to glow gold, winding around Harry's arms.
The glass of the framed diplomas lining the walls shattered, blanketing the room with dust. The crowd gasped.
"I don't see why this is necessary!" shouted Draco. He clamoured over the rows of seats to reach them.
Percy snapped his fingers and Marietta scrambled over the papers in front of her again. She jumped up - holding one of them in her hand - and raced it over to the enlarging group. "Minister, this is your signature, is it not?"
"Oh, no," he groaned, reading the parchment he'd signed back at the hospital over very carefully. He rested his hand on Harry's shoulder and cringed. "I'm so sorry. I haven't had any sleep and these things all start to look alike after a while…"
Harry gasped in horror. "You signed my fucking rights away?!" A podium in the centre of the room imploded and collapsed. One of the guards grabbed up a handful of jet-black hair. Harry's head was jerked back at an awkward angle, forcing him to watch the bottle being dangled over his face.
The whispering crowd's voices grew louder. No matter how nasty their government claimed him to be, no matter how many times he'd been arrested or locked up in St. Mungo's, he would always be a celebrity to them. A handful of hooded men and women sat quietly in the back of the room, unwilling to join in on the excitement of the spectacle they were witnessing. Some were shouting in protest while others cheered them on.
Yanking at the magical chains holding him in the chair, Harry groaned as Percy pried his jaws apart. Marietta waved her wand to muffle the ears of the crowd, so that they were unable to hear anything else being said on the courtroom floor. The three men and two women in the back row got up from their seats and left as quietly as they'd come, without anyone noticing them at all.
Draco attempted to close the window the moment he saw the owls hovering around outside. "Too many owls to be good news. No, go away now, come back later!" he shouted, shooing the aggressive birds back. Within a minute or so, the owls began to fly off, giving the man a scant moment of peace.
"They're getting in through the kitchen."
Draco snapped his attention over to Harry. It was the first time he'd heard him speak since the courtroom incident. He sat down on the edge of the bed. A cigarette dangled from his lips and a glass of rum balanced on his knee. His eyes were cast down over a piece of parchment he was reading.
Four owls managed to breach the small opening of the kitchen window and land on the perch in the nook. "I guess I'll see what the others say," murmured Draco.
"Don't bother," said Harry, looking up from the bed toward the kitchen. Although his face held no emotion his words seemed pained. "I'm going to be arrested again today. The Order of the Phoenix has taken liberties of that loophole you burned me with."
Draco sighed. "I'm so sorry. What's it say?"
"Get me another, will you?" Harry jiggled his glass in Draco's direction, but continued to refuse him eye contact. He took it and headed to the kitchen. Three owls remained. All held their messages out as Draco passed by. Casually, he relieved them of their deliveries and moved on to the cupboard.
Do not allow Harry Potter to leave your premises until further notice. His escort will arrive this afternoon at two. Thank you for your understanding and non-interference.
The Order of the Phoenix
He grabbed a bottle and refilled the glass as he read the second and third letter over. Both were similar to the first. Harry would be placed under the Imperious Curse and have his memories extracted. All of them. This procedure would continue until complete.
Looking at the clock, Draco began to worry. Harry's escort would be arriving shortly. As badly as he felt about putting him through another unpleasant experience, he felt worse over the love lost because of it. Whatever future he and Harry might have shared, he had single-handedly destroyed in less than seven months.
Harry was no longer on the bed when Draco returned. He heard the shower running in the adjacent room. "Come on, Harry," he said, entering the bathroom and staring at the oversized shower. He opened the door slowly and cringed. Harry, fully clothed, was on the floor hugging his knees into his chest, sitting under fat steams of ice-cold water. He shivered uncontrollably but refused to stand up despite several of Draco's prodding endeavours.
"I can try to fight off the curse… but even if I manage it, how long can I hold out? They'll know everything that happened between him and me." Draco turned off the taps and draped a towel around his shoulders. Harry's head dropped over his knees.
Draco sat down next to him. "I know this is my fault. You don't deserve any of this. For what it's worth, I'm sorry."
Harry leaned on his shoulder and smiled. "I'm tough. It'll be all right," he said, not even believing it himself. He hadn't felt as weak as he did since he was a small child. Draco wrapped an arm around his shoulders and Harry moulded into him. "And I'm sorry for being such a pain in the arse."
"Yeah, but you're a really gorgeous pain in the arse, so all is forgiven," He kissed the top of Harry's head and then helped him stand, hearing a persistent pounding coming from the front of the house. "I love you, Harry. I know you don't love me back. I'm okay with that now… I just wanted you to know."
He turned to leave, but Harry grabbed his arm. "Hey," he said, his voice hoarse and cracked, "Come on, you know I love you back."
Draco dropped his head on Harry's shoulder and they embraced, standing silent in the middle of the bathroom as three Aurors broke down their front door.
Draco eased into the small room, closing the door behind him as quietly as he could. He hadn't been allowed to visit until today. Harry had been in the Order's custody for over a week. Draco was finally given a short amount of time only after threatening to start another war. "Hey, how are you?" The lights were dimmed. When he focused in on The-Boy-Who-Lived his hand flew up to his mouth.
Harry's vacant expression startled him. His ashen skin was littered with deep bruises, burn marks and scrapes. His cheeks were hollow. It was troubling to witness. "What the fuck did they do to you? Who did this?"
Draco fretted, looking at the cutting leather straps that kept the young man's scabby arms stretched taut over his head and fastened to the corners of the hospital bed. His legs were unshackled. There were visible burn marks and bloody gauze wrapped around each thin ankle. There was a strap pulled taut across his legs just above the knee to keep them somewhat in place. He had been in that position for nearly a week for assaulting an official from the Order of the Phoenix. Spitting on Severus Snape while he was attempted to extract memories from him was a definite no-no, it seemed. Retained by the Order's Aurors once more, he was shipped back to St. Mungo's so soften him up.
"Look, I've only got a few minutes before they try throwing me out. I had that contract burned this morning. As soon as I can get you out of here I'm going to take you to Ronald and Hermione Weasley's home for a seriously long vacation."
Harry felt the very last of his will to live crumble. Losing all self control after such a long battle, he began to cry. "Why are they doing this to me?"
"Oh god." Draco climbed on the bed and curled into him. His heart had split in two. He had never seen Harry cry before. He had cursed the young man with the Cruciatus Curse three times in a row once. It hadn't come close to ripping the emotion from him then - as being in the hospital was now.
A rough-looking medi-witch entered the room. Ignoring the man on top of her patient, she set about her business of lining up all of the instruments needed for Harry's treatment. She held up a long wire and taped it to his temple. She repeated the action on the other temple, and then lodged a thick strip of rubber between his teeth. She jerked his head to the side, cinching it snugly at the nape of his neck to keep it in place.
Draco looked up at her in disgust. "Have you no decency, woman? Can't you see that he's upset?"
"Minister, these orders must be followed," she drawled, reading over the clipboard lying next to the bed. "Shock Spells every day for one solid month. He's not making this easy on himself. If he'd just do what they want these treatments would be cut in half."
Draco blinked several times, feeling dizzy. He dropped off the bed to jab his finger in her chest. "In no bloody way is he getting Shock Spells for a month! Get his doctor in here right now!" Harry began weeping openly; muted wails of guttural agony filled the small room, hitting the walls and dying off like the remnants of his shredded dignity.
"Dr Dovermollot will be in shortly. Good day, Minister," the medi-witch said and left the room. Draco adjusted Harry's flimsy hospital gown over his torso, smoothing out the wrinkles. There was a rap at the door and it opened again. An elderly man with white hair entered the room carrying a chart under his arm. Two orderlies entered behind him.
"Good afternoon, Mr. Potter. Minister," He bowed slightly to Draco before turning his eyes on the man strapped to the bed. "I'll be performing your Shock Spells today."
Harry moved his eyes away from him back to Draco, hoping he'd have this stopped. Draco hadn't noticed, he was far too busy practising the speech in his head he was about to deliver to this new doctor, when his attention was skewed by the panicked whimpering his friend was suddenly emitting beside him.
The clock on the wall burst into flame. The walls surrounding them began to warp. The doctor cinched the bit in Harry's teeth tighter, forcing the rubber restraint to sink brutally into the corners of his mouth. He could make no sound after that.
"Hey- Not so rough!" cried Draco. "I can't allow this to happen, he's far too emotional right now." He reached out to yank the bit out of Harry's mouth but one of the orderlies shoved him back. "What do you think you're doing? I won't allow shocks today. Release him."
"You have no say in that." The doctor prodded Harry a few times with a pointy instrument, watching him flinch at the pain but no sound could be emitted. Satisfied with the perfect silence, the doctor began observing Harry's physical condition and compliance, jotting notes on his clipboard. The young man's once tight fists were now limp, open hands. His eyes had glazed over. It appeared he barely registered anyone's presence in the room. There was no fight left in him that could be seen. He cupped Harry's jaw, roughly twisting the young man's head from side to side, smirking at the lack of any retaliation. "Yes, he's so close to being broken. I'd venture to guess one or two more sessions will give the Order of the Phoenix their desired results."
Draco stood frozen in awe. "I gave you an order, sir. You hard of hearing?"
The doctor scoffed. "Currently, no. And I'm not about to have my eardrums burst when he starts screaming after the first shock hits him if I take that bit out, either. Awful thing to hear-really unpleasant. The treatment goes forth unless you can provide a written document from the Order saying differently. You can do that, no?"
Draco slumped. His mouth opened and closed as the words escaped him. Harry was certainly not ready for this either. He was trapped in this red-tape bureaucratic nightmare and had no way of getting him released from this hospital until the next day at the very least.
Harry was spacey and motionless as the doctor taped numerous electrodes to his body. Draco fumbled for words, merely whimpering as Harry looked up at him one last time. A tear leaked and disappeared into hair above his ear. His eyes closed, no longer wanting to see the Minister's face.
"Harry, please, look at me. I'm so sorry."
Without looking up from his patient, the doctor clucked his tongue at the dithering man on the other side of the bed. "Perhaps this is too emotional for you, Minister. I'll have to ask you to leave."
"No, I'm not leaving," he said weakly.
"I insist," he replied through a sneer. He gripped Harry's chin again and thrust his head back. The orderly next to him fired up his wand, sending a spray of threatening sparks ablaze to rain down over the room. Harry appeared lifeless on the table, despite their painful actions. "And I have authority over your government here. I cannot have you disrupting this session. Minister, will you kindly step outside? It will only take a few minutes."
Draco gave off a shaky breath as he ran his fingers over Harry's temples, wiping the tear streaks away. "I'll be right back, love. I promise this will be the very last time. I'll have everyone's heads for this." He glared at the doctor as he backed away. The other orderly held the door for him as he walked out, leaving Harry to deal with his torture alone.
The moment the door closed, everyone dropped what they were doing. Harry felt the mood of the room twist into a mysterious air. He looked up at the doctor, who loomed over him, ripping the electrical wires away. He trembled involuntarily. Something was different. These three men were not going about the normal procedure of Shock Spells, that was for damn sure.
Gnarled fingers carded through Harry's hair, plucking out several strands. He tensed up fully, balling his hands back into fists. "Here you go, dear." The doctor held out the hair towards a vacant part of the room. Suddenly, a very feminine hand appeared out of thin air and grasped them. Harry flinched.
Wicked laughter filled the room. "Now, now, we haven't forgotten about you. Don't try anything funny." The tip of a wand was jabbed into Harry's neck as both of the orderlies moved to the head and middle of the bed, unbuckling the straps restraining him. The doctor traced his finger lightly over the rubber gagging bit, mesmerized at how effectively it silenced his captive. "Magic is such a magnificent thing, isn't it? It can give so much - and take away so easily. I don't know how badly they've damaged you, but it's over. You're mine now, I'm taking you from here." He pointed his wand at both orderlies, his face set in stone. "Get him up quickly, we're leaving before that idiot figures this out."
An invisibility cloak pooled on the floor around Narcissa Malfoy's feet. She was wearing a hospital gown just like Harry's. She grinned at the confused young man while sprinkling his hairs over a glass of Polyjuice Potion. "Be a good lad, do as he says," she said and swallowed the drink whole.
Harry's hands were released and bound with conjured rope. He looked on helplessly as the doctor nodded to the men before looping the young man's wrists over his head and lifting him into his arms. "Stay completely still. I don't know if you yet trust me. I can't take that chance here. We've got to be as quiet as possible until we make it past the wards." As the two large men draped the invisibility cloak over them, the doctor's scent enshrouded him. It was so familiar, filling him with a joy he had not felt in nearly a year. It restarted his frazzled mind as he suddenly realized the old doctor cradling him in his embrace was Lord Voldemort.
The door opened slowly. Draco stood up from his waiting chair and watched the two orderlies exit. "I'm afraid the doctor had to leave on an emergency but the session was completed. You may go in now."
"How…" He remembered then that medi-witches and wizards were the only ones able to apparate and disapparate within the boundaries of St. Mungo's. Eagerly, he walked inside of the room, not noticing the the sweeping wind and rustle of clothing to his side as he entered.
"I hope it wasn't too awful. I'm so sorry, Harry."
"You should be, you sodding prick," he replied, turning his head to the side to avoid Draco's gaze. "Go away. I don't want you here."
"Gods, don't talk like that!" he cried. Again, he threw his weight over the young man, cuddling him, caressing his face. "I just love you so much. I, maybe I thought I could break these feelings you have. I just want you to love me the way you loved him."
"Get off!" he shrieked. "You stole Remus and don't deny it, you little bastard! You took him from me and threw him away when you're little trophy was returned to you. He was mine! Oh god, you are too much like your father."
"No, no, no- I don't believe it!" Draco backed away slowly. Harry flung the leather straps off and sat up, pointing a wand at the man. "Mum, don't start up with me again. Where is Harry? I have to get him back!"
"You're not going anywhere! He's gone, Draco," she said. "My master lives once more and has taken back what was rightfully his."
The door behind him burst open. The scraggly medi-witch returned and snapped it shut behind her. Her body was changing before their eyes. The nurses uniform sagged down off of her shoulder, her black hair grew out in long, ratty strands. "I made it just in time! Oh, Draco, it's been too long," she said in a scratchy titter, sauntering up to his side. "Come give your auntie a big kiss."
"You, too?" He threw his arms up in defeat. "You both knew Voldemort was alive this whole time?"
"Come on, Minister, don't you miss it, even a little bit?" Bellatrix Lestrange cackled maniacally at her little nephew as she stroked his hair. "The power you had. You've lost that with the position you're in now. They're always watching you."
Narcissa, still looking very much like Harry, changed out of her gown. "He's a louse. We should wipe his memory and make him move back in with his wife."
Draco felt the space between close in on him. His mother and aunt backed him into a wall. Both of them brandished wands and wicked grins.
Harry was aware they had disapparated at some point after sneaking out of the hospital ward. Other than that, he had no idea what was going on. He dug his nails into the starched lab coat covering Voldemort's neck and buried his face in his chest. The dreadful thought of being tortured again turned his stomach. Not one word had been uttered since their escape. For all he knew, he was falling out of one sadistic bastard's grip right into another.
Voldemort had not attempted to remove the restraints or console him. He moved stiffly through the unyielding area they had appeared. Tree branches and overgrown thatch sliced into Harry's bare limbs as the Dark Lord pressed on through the heavy forest.
After what seemed like forever, a light began to surface through the darkness. "There it is," he breathed heavily, finally stopping to catch his breath. He set Harry on his feet as he let his heartbeat calm. He held him close. Harry's arms were still secured around his neck. He dropped his head on the young man's shoulder, chuckling. "We're home, Harry."
Re-energised, he hauled the young man back into his arms and pushed forward. As they reached the door, he shoved it open with his shoulder and crossed the threshold. Magical light shimmered around the frame. It washed over Harry, clinging to his skin, igniting a spark within him. The power was undeniably intense, uplifting his dreary sense of hopelessness as he glanced around. They were passing through the sitting room he'd become so familiar with. He was carried into the bedroom and laid out on the bed. His bedroom. This was his.
Lord Voldemort sat beside him, sweeping his hair from his face as Harry dared to look up at him. Uncertainty clouded his eyes, but a reassuring smile grew on the handsome man's lips, soothing any thoughts of being punished any longer.
"You're not going to give me a problem, are you?" His Polyjuice'd form had long since reverted. Harry awed at how youthful he appeared. As if time turned, bringing them back here to their world the very first day they had fallen. He shook his head quickly. "I didn't think so." Lord Voldemort pulled his wand out and waved it over the young man, dissipating his bonds.
Harry took a deep, much-needed breath. Trepidation kept him docile. He thought he could trust him, but he thought he could trust Draco, too.
Voldemort was fawning all over him, touching his bruised face, looking overly concerned. "Would you like to sleep? I could run a warm healing-bath and clear up these cuts and bruises." His words lessened the young man's cold comfort wariness.
Harry shrugged, unsure of what he really wanted. He was so confused. This couldn't be the same house. The odd magical essence it held over them was missing from the other. The air was very crisp. Lord Voldemort was freely using magic. This wasn't really his room, but he didn't care.
Massaging his own sore muscles, Voldemort chuckled. "I think the bath. You're not as light as I remembered." Harry gave him a weak laugh as Voldemort helped him stand.
There was comfort during the days in their home, a life with this special magic had raised his hopes. Harry Potter was finally free from torment. Back in the arms of the long, lost dead and away from the beasts who only meant for the best. His guise was solid, no guilt was felt. It was effortless to love the man, truly effortless now.
His nights, however, were filled with horror.
A shrill scream filled the room, almost masking the sound of something very large cracking in two. Lord Voldemort sat up quickly, his wand clutched in his hand. Next to him, Harry covered his face with his pillow and rolled against his lover's side. "Oh, I'm sorry," he said in a hoarse drawl, "that won't happen again." The Dark Lord looked at the bedroom door. It was split down the middle. Harry pressed his hand against his chest and eased him back into bed.
"I should have left him in there," Voldemort murmured. He wrapped his arm around Harry.
"I'm fine. Just a stupid nightmare."
"I can take them away, make you forget what happened."
It really wasn't a question of whether Harry wanted the memories to remain or not. Voldemort had contemplated this for a while, only stopping short of casting the memory-altering charm because Harry, for some stupid reason, felt he deserved what had happened to him and needed to remember. Months of freedom and relaxation had accomplished nothing. He was once a powerful killer of evil, now he was a twitchy ball of nerves who couldn't keep his nightmares at bay.
"Stop being so god damn stubborn. Let me help you."
"Calm down, Tom. Go back to sleep."
A year had passed and life together was good. It was good when Lord Voldemort could stay, that is, but that wasn't always in the cards. Business needed attending to. As much as he hated it, he had to leave again. "Hey, I've got to go out for a while. I might not be back tonight." He stepped into the hall from the bath, wrapping a towel around his hips. He had waited until the last minute to tell him. It was easier that way, less worry, less arguing.
Harry poked his head out from the den and sighed. As much as he adored being back in the house, he hated when he was left alone. Their little enchanted cottage was unplottable and tightly secured, but that wouldn't stop the impending anxiety of someone finding him.
They were out there. They were looking for him. They would never stop until they found him.
"Do.. do you know for certain you won't, Tom?" Voldemort walked into his bedroom to dress. Harry felt his blood go cold at the thought of him leaving. "You won't be back tonight?"
"You're always calling me that now. Such a common name." Voldemort adjusted the cuffs of his sleeves and straightened his tie out before peeling his gaze from the mirror to look at his lover. "But, I digress. I'll really try and be back. You're perfectly safe here, you know that."
"I could go with you," he suggested, knowing that request would be immediately denied. "Stay under the invisibility cloak."
"You remember what happened last time you stepped over the threshold."
Harry snorted hot air and slammed his book closed. "I feel stronger now." He stood up, wanting to try and walk outside again. He wouldn't panic this time. He wouldn't set the house on fire this time or blow a large chunk of the forest away.
Voldemort stepped in front of him and clapped his hands on his shoulders. "If you're missing St. Mungo's that much, I'll tie you to the bed myself and shock you."
Harry's eyes narrowed. "You still think I'm weak. I've been working really hard at this." He backed up a few paces, out of the room and returned to the den for another drink.
"We'll try again soon, just not tonight," Voldemort said, looking away. "Everyone will be out tonight. Look, I'll try my hardest to skip out and be home. Don't forget to take you dreamless sleep draught."
"You're still here?"
There were several reasons why he would never allow Harry to leave in his condition, and it had little to do with his inability to contain his wild magic. For one, Draco had joined Gellert Grindelwald's army. Now both were completely obsessed with finding him.
And, the fact that the war had resumed might bring back trauma to the former Auror. Lord Voldemort had taken Draco's vacant position as Minister of Magic. He hadn't originally wanted it, but the waves it stirred when it was first suggested, well, he couldn't pass that up. And god damn it he loved war.
His army was larger than ever. The Death Eaters combined with the Ministry, to be added to this new form of power he'd recently gained. It was a gift he learned from the one man he now kept hidden from the world. It was a dominant force and worked like no other threat or spell; the magical power of love. Harry and he were the only two wizards who could wield it. With Harry being so fragile, it would be easy to manipulate him or catch him off guard, or even kidnap or murder him. Lord Voldemort would never risk losing him for any reason.
The Dark Lord would rule the world manipulating this precious gift. Wizards and witches switched sides day by day faster than he could count. This great wizard was now truly a great wizard.
"This house is protected by magic no other can touch. No one will ever be able to penetrate it."
"So you say."
"Look, I'll add additional protections in the front of the house. That way there's no chance of someone seeing you when we try."
"I'm over it. Just go."
"Please, don't be angry. I want you to be confident before we try again."
"I know. I'm fine, Tom. I'll see you tonight."
Lord Voldemort returned that evening, although it was late into the night. He entered his home and knew immediately something was very wrong. Desperate cries rang out, calling his name. His heart began to pound as he rushed through the house and dove onto the bed.
Grabbing the hysterical young man up into his lap, he shook him awake and crushed him into his embrace. It took several minutes of wild magic exploding almost every object in the room, confused struggling and screaming terror before the fog of the nightmare released its grip and Harry collapsed sobbing in his lover's arms.
A line of blood leaked down and disappeared under Voldemort's collar from the cut along his cheekbone sustained by the shattered mirror on the wall.
"I'm so glad you're home, Tom." Harry dug his nails into his shoulders, holding on for dear life. His skin was so pale, his eyes wide and vacant. "I had this dream you'd gotten upset with me and sent me to hospital. There were owls everywhere."
The common name sounded so lovely spoken from his lover's lips. "It's my fault. I should have come back for you immediately when we left the portal. I thought you'd be all right while I healed up and gathered my forces. I thought he'd take care of you." Voldemort stroked Harry's hair as he coughed and hiccuped against his shoulder. "Let me fix you, baby."
"No, I'm fine," Harry said between his uncontrollable sobbing. "It was just a stupid nightmare."
"I'll kill him. I'll kill them all."
Harry was pathetic, useless, a waste of such precious life - turned to nothingness in the wrong hands. And yet, he loved him now more than ever. He would not ask him again.
"No, it's my fault. I should have played along, done what they asked of me. I was so bloody stubborn."
Voldemort ran his fingers over the wand lying next to him. "And you still are." He adjusted himself on the bed, giving Harry a gentle nudge back against the mattress. He ran his thumb over the boy's lips, silencing his questioning look. He lifted his chin and kissed him chastely as he straddled his hips and pinned his hands under his knees. "I love you," he whispered, lifting his wand and pointing it down with a shaky hand. "Now sleep."
A soft, pinkish glow ignites and buzzes above the bed, illuminating the room and alerting the Dark Lord of his stirring. He quickly enters and approaches the bed to touch him. The gentle caress of his hand brushes over cool, pale skin. His lover curls his fingers around it, bringing it to his lips.
"Mmm. How long have I been asleep?"
Thick, black eyelashes flutter open. Green eyes adjust to the light. The dark prince awakens. Harry kisses the hand and sits up in bed. Innocently, he stretches his arms in a yawn. "I feel so refreshed, like I've been asleep forever." He closes his eyes as his fingers reach out to touch his lover's lips. He leans into his shoulder.
Lord Voldemort captures his fingers between his teeth and sucks them into his mouth. Harry blushes so prettily for him. The Dark Lord drums his fingers on the mattress. "I think it's time you got up then. You wouldn't believe how long I've waited for you to arrive." He pulls the young man into his lap and wraps his arms around him, no longer able to contain his want to spoil him. "I've got a surprise for you in the kitchen. Guess who's learned to cook?"
Harry's eyes light up so playfully, as they had before a long time ago. "You promised me you'd never try that again." He wiggles around in his lap, meticulously taunting the man's long neglected sex-drive into blissful torment. His head tips back, his cherry-stained tongue rests sweetly trapped between his teeth. He reaches back to touch his lover's face. "You haven't set another fire, have you? Do I need to give you a spanking?"
"Forget the kitchen." Voldemort snarls like a beast and throws his lover on the bed. Kneeling over him, he rips open his own shirt as Harry pushes his trousers down.
"Oh my, Minister Voldemort, I am impressed," remarks Harry, eyeing his swelling cock presented just for him. Eagerly, he pulls his lover to him and wraps his long legs around his hips, trapping the delicious phallus in the crook of his thigh. He grinds into it, his eyes narrowed, his breath urgent.
"I've got a tip on a location that might turn out to be Nurmengard's headquarters." Lord Voldemort's husky voice slowly whispers against his lips. The room dims black as night. The heat between them smoulders and burns. "Unfortunately, the tip said the former Minister might not be there."
Languid fingers slide along the Dark Lord's firm torso. "Don't worry, you'll get him." A sharp intake of breath fills Harry's lungs as Lord Voldemort rightfully claims him. Their passion soars. Rushed cries, glistening flesh, a shiver of panic in his gasp. Something explodes in the back of the dark room while Harry writhes, trembling within the clutches of this monster. He claws at his sides, throwing his head back against the pillow in primal splendour.
Lord Voldemort's voice now deadly low, he stops all movement on his will and takes his lover's face in his hands. "Are you now ready to return to our world and take your place by my side?"
Harry relaxes with a cat-like stretch and arches up on his elbows to meet his gaze as his swollen lips part. "I thought you'd never ask."