Author's Notes: This was written for Lady Woot.
Thanks to my beta, the patient, hobtheknife.
My lover's eyes are nothing like the sun;
My hunger for him explains everything I've done.
– lyrics from "Sister Moon"
"Everything's ready for this evening," Harry announced as he dropped onto the sofa, affecting a pretence of careless ease that failed to entirely conceal his apprehension.
The Dark Lord looked up from his desk with curiosity. There was to be a reception that evening for visiting Ministers from the Pacific region, and he had already dressed for the occasion in magnificently embroidered robes that befitted the ruler of the Wizarding world.
Harry had been gone for most of the day but he had been aware, through the special bond between them, of an unusual indecisiveness in the younger man's thoughts. Harry tried not to fidget as Voldemort's dark eyes swept over him appraisingly and finally rested on his countenance. The apparent cause of Harry's discomfiture became evident to him now, as plain as...we...
"Your new glasses suit you," Lord Voldemort spoke at last, a smile settling on his lips.
Harry visibly relaxed and released his breath. "D'you think so? They're so different that I wondered."
He sat up straighter as Voldemort stood and swept around the desk to settle next to him with a serpentine grace. He leaned close to study the bright gold nosepiece, the thin, rimless lenses, and the embossed gold temples.
"Quite handsome," he pronounced. "They lend maturity to your appearance." It was true, and he knew the young wizard would appreciate the compliment.
"The optician wondered why I don't get my vision corrected," Harry blurted. "She said that they could use a laser, and I wouldn't have to wear glasses anymore."
"I've wondered that as well," the other wizard replied. "There are spells which would accomplish it, of course. I would have thought…" His voice trailed off as he silently disparaged the singular lack of foresight with which the Order of the Phoenix had prepared their young champion.
"It would be nice to see without them," Harry ventured. "What do you think I should do?"
Voldemort considered him for a moment, and then gently removed his glasses. As always, the startled and blinking response brought him an inordinate delight.
"You like doing that!" Harry squirmed as much at the scrutiny as at the close proximity of the man who had recently become his lover.
"Yes," Voldemort admitted, setting the eyewear aside to admire the younger man's eyes which were a brilliant green. "And it pleases me that I am the only one to have the privilege of seeing you like this." He carefully set his hand upon Harry's thigh and leaned closer. "Truly splendid," he murmured.
Harry's lashes fluttered down, dark smudges against his cheek, and he remained breathlessly still as a kiss was placed beneath each arching brow. Reaching out instinctively, Harry slid his arms around the other wizard's neck, sought and found his mouth. He sank back into the cushions as they kissed, pulling Voldemort down with him.
It still required a deliberate effort to participate in this physical intimacy which the younger man so easily accepted – indeed, demanded – from their relationship. Voldemort had been painfully aware that his first efforts had been tentative and lacking in originality, but it had been, after all, a number of years since he had exercised those particular skills. He considered it fortunate that Harry had been nervous and relatively inexperienced himself. Weeks later, he still had to remind himself to respond appropriately, but Harry seemed not to notice, and the time and effort involved was a price he was willing to pay for the influential young man's cooperation and support in the creation of a new regime.
Voldemort was exacting and tolerated nothing less from himself than excellent performance. While it was irritating to take time away from building alliances and drafting proposals, he occasionally found it necessary to turn such matters over to Harry to have time to pursue research into the sensual and erotic arts in order to satisfy his partner's desires. Which wasn't to say that the endeavor was without salutary rewards; quite the opposite was true. Harry was good-looking and energetic, and his outgoing personality and generous nature made him an engaging partner. Harry, however, found a deeper meaning in sex, and derived an emotional satisfaction from the act that Voldemort found frankly puzzling.
Instead, Voldemort concentrated on savouring sensations at moments like this: the blood that could be felt beneath his lips as it thundered and pulsed below the surface of the younger man's skin, the gentle warmth of Harry's breath against his cheek, the small movements that allowed their bodies to slip closer together...
A deep chime reverberated through the mansion, announcing the arrival of the first of the politicians. Voldemort ignored it as Harry made a purring sound and shifted to rest a knee against his hip.
"Too many robes," Harry complained indistinctly.
"Has it never occurred to you why wizards and witches dress as they do?" he asked with amusement. "We're not meant to be distracted by physical attributes."
"It's worked a little too well, then, hasn't it?"
"There's a bit more to the-" Voldemort began, but whatever his thoughts had been about the problem of the decline in the Wizarding population were lost as insistent lips claimed his attention. He slipped his tongue against Harry's, musing that he had assimilated the younger man's preferences in foreplay.
A second peal resounded, and Harry swore in disappointment.
"We'll have time for this later," Voldemort mildly admonished, making a vain attempt to smooth back the perpetually unruly hair from Harry's face. He helped him sit up, handed him his glasses, and watched as he carefully put them back on.
"You haven't answered my question."
Voldemort tried to retrace the conversation.
"Should I have my eyesight corrected, or not?"
He sighed. "That decision is deeply personal, and I couldn't possibly make it for you. Your comfort and safety are, of course, of paramount concern to me. You know that I have not hesitated to accept magical means of correcting bodily weakness."
"But if you like me wearing them so much-"
"We will look into those spells tomorrow. You'll be able to make an informed decision once you've had the opportunity to examine the benefits and disadvantages of the procedure."
Harry nodded gratefully, and they shared a final kiss before adjusting their attire. Having assumed the dignity mandated by their exalted political status, they descended to greet their guests.
A few days later, the Ametropist left the Dark Lord's manor beaming at a job well done - and generously rewarded.
Harry's elation at being able to see the world in focus for the first time without the assistance of corrective lenses turned into a detailed reconnaissance of the mansion and grounds. Voldemort soon tired of watching him, and ensconced himself on the veranda with a calming draught and a bemused expression as Harry ran about with all the energy of a puppy exploring a new dwelling.
The delighted young man would periodically alight on the chair next to him, his complexion rosy and his grin irrepressible. It was, Voldemort thought, definitely going to take time to become accustomed to seeing him like this, his eyes unveiled for all the world to see. For the present, he could only urge cool drinks upon him, whereupon Harry reiterated his gratitude between gulps and then hurried off to view a different sight. When he appeared with his Firebolt and announced that he was going up for an aerial vantage, Voldemort politely wished him well and went indoors with a vague sense of disquiet.
He was glad, he told himself, that the spells had been successful and Harry was obviously delighted with the outcome. He supposed that it was Harry's reaction that disturbed him, and that was because it emphasized the single, glaring disparity in their relationship: Harry was an emotional being. Voldemort realized that it was the nature of the bond between them, the similarities in their lives and personalities, which attracted Harry to him. But he foresaw a time when that wouldn't be enough for the younger man. Eventually, Harry would notice the lack of emotional connection in the relationship. Being Harry, he would try to remedy the problem, but would eventually become disheartened. Voldemort could not help but wonder how their alliance would change when Harry sought satisfaction elsewhere. The fragile truce that held their world together depended on that outcome.
He felt the onset of a headache, and the sky grew dark as if mirroring his gloomy thoughts. He went upstairs to their bedroom, pulled off his outer robes, and rested on top of the duvet with an arm over his eyes. In the distance, he heard the growl of thunder.
Harry was back inside by the time the storm broke, but the rain failed to dampen his spirits.
"That was brilliant!" he proclaimed. The slamming of the bedroom door combined with the volume of his voice to evoke a wince from Voldemort. "You should take something for that headache; it's starting to make my head hurt."
"It will probably subside after the storm passes. If not, I'll take a potion before dinner."
Harry hesitated with an expression of concern, then nodded and went to take a shower.
The storm continued, seeming to focus its ferocity on the area around about the mansion and Voldemort went to the window to cast Protego totalum over the premises. Within moments, the storm began to abate, but his thoughts continued in a dismal spiral as he looked out through a curtain of rain. How had he permitted Harry to become such a vital and very public part of the new regime? He had learned throughout his life that he could ultimately depend upon no one but himself, yet he'd shared power and confidences with Harry, made himself vulnerable to someone who had been a threat. Voldemort could only blame his own weakness for allowing this to happen.
The door burst open again. "No wonder your head hurts! Why are you doing this to yourself?" Harry strode into the room. He was wearing canvas trousers and a t-shirt, his hair still damp from the shower.
Lightening flickered as Voldemort turned toward him. "We must talk."
"No. First, you need to go over and lie on the bed," Harry told him, pulling off his shirt.
Voldemort's eyes narrowed but, impelled by curiosity, he did as he was told.
"Undo your robes, and turn over on your stomach."
His simmering anger was finally about to boil over, but before he could form a scornful response Harry added, "I can't give you a proper massage through your clothes."
With just the slightest twinge of remorse, he unfastened the knots of his garment and turned over. He tensed as Harry straddled his hips and pulled his robes down over his shoulders. Strong fingers began to knead the muscles at the base of his neck, and he bit back a yelp of pain.
"I don't know why you'd think I'd ever leave you," Harry grated. "Do you think I'm such a shallow person?" His hands moved down to concentrate on his lover's upper back. "I've never been happier in my entire life!"
He didn't sound particularly happy, Voldemort thought. He tried to say something, but the pressure being applied to his knotted muscles took away his breath. It was impossible to tell whether Harry was intentionally hurting him, or if he was sincerely trying to help.
"Do you think you're the only one making concessions? Do you think you're the only one who doesn't feel appreciated?"
Voldemort's eyes bulged as Harry dropped his weight on first one hand and then the other as he worked at the deep tissues.
"But it doesn't matter, because we're creating something really beautiful together," Harry continued, sharp squeezes punctuating his words. "We're making the world a better place. You have no idea how much that means to me!"
Voldemort had no idea how much more of this he could take. He told himself sternly that he would not succumb to the indignity of biting the pillow, and finally permitted himself a low groan as Harry began to work on his shoulders.
"Don't you feel the same way?"
It took a moment for Voldemort to realize that a reply was expected of him but, when he opened his mouth, the sound that emerged was, "Agggh."
Harry sighed heavily, and moved away. "Turn over so I can finish."
As he did so, Voldemort noticed that he couldn't feel his headache any more, but he wasn't sure if that was because it had actually gone, or if it merely paled in comparison to the pain Harry had just inflicted.
Harry knelt astride him and massaged the front of his shoulders. "I guess this is partially my fault. I haven't ever really told you how I feel about you." He paused and looked down into Voldemort's eyes.
"Wait – let me show you." Harry climbed down from the bed, and retrieved a small parcel from the dresser.
By the time he returned, Voldemort had straightened his robes and was reclining, not entirely comfortably, against the pillows. Harry sat down next to him, and pushed a small package into his hands.
It was an inexpertly wrapped bundle of colourful paper, and he took his time opening it. He considered the contents for a moment, and turned to Harry with a bewildered expression. "Your glasses?"
"Well, not exactly. I had the lenses remade with plain glass. I know how much you like looking at my eyes when we're alone and I thought I would just keep wearing these in public."
Voldemort was completely taken aback by the nature of Harry's gift. It was absurd, like vowing to never wash a garment or tattooing a name on an arm. It was a demonstration of devotion such as he had never been able to inspire or compel from his followers. And this was Harry, who was anything but silly. He was serious, capable, trustworthy. What could possibly have prompted him to make such an inane offer?
In that awkwardly speechless moment, he sensed that whatever motivated Harry was an emotion deeper than gratitude, a sentiment more profound than loyalty. Voldemort found that he was touched in an indefinable manner, in a place he had not known existed inside himself. The realisation struck him with a sharp pang that took away his breath: Harry loved him. The very notion was inexplicable, absolutely pointless, and yet…it was flattering. And he had somehow brought this about, so he should feel a profound satisfaction. But the most peculiar thing of all was that he only felt…undeserving.
He looked at Harry, who was waiting expectantly.
The world suddenly seemed to tilt, and he felt his sense of identity began to crumble.
His vision blurred as a crushing agony stole away his breath but, somehow, through the pain, he dimly understood what must be happening to him.
The only stable object in his universe was Harry, and he instinctively reached out to him.
Harry threw his arms around him with a cry. "Are you-?" he began but before he could finish, the spasm had passed.
Voldemort drew a ragged breath, and looked up at Harry. It was as if he were seeing the younger man clearly for the first time.
"What just happened?" Harry asked in alarm. "Did I cause your back to cramp?"
Under other circumstances, Voldemort might have ridiculed Harry's innocent question. Now, though, he needed to be certain that his own understanding of what had just happened was accurate. "Wait," he hissed in Parsel. Harry nodded anxiously, evidence the bond between them still held. He closed his eyes and sought Nagini's presence. For a moment, he looked through her eyes, tasted the scent of some warm-blooded creature passing beyond the doors to the garden, and felt a profound sense of relief.
"I believe," he said carefully, "that something I sacrificed years ago has unexpectedly returned."
Harry's eyes widened as he understood. "What? But how-? Oh, Merlin, it's my fault! I'm so sorry!"
He appeared so contrite that Voldemort began to laugh in spite of himself.
"What about Nagini! Is she-?"
"She's fine. My connection with her is still strong."
"But that means you have only two Horcruxes left, and all because of whatever I did!"
"There may be some benefit to having recovered a portion of my soul," he acknowledged, still a bit light-headed from the experience.
Harry was studying him in fascination. "Your eyes," he breathed. "They've changed colour. They're sort of amber now...I wonder..." He bent closer, allowing a portion of his mind to touch Voldemort's. "I wonder what else has changed..."
He noticed that Harry's pupils had changed as well, the pupils dark circles bordered in green. He was acutely aware of the scent of his skin beneath the fragrances from his shower, and the heat of his body. And then they were kissing.
For the first time, Voldemort found their coupling to be spontaneous and effortless. Touch followed touch in an arcane sequence that was too subtle and and illogical for his conscious mind to apprehend. He perceived that more than flesh was being revealed as they removed their clothing, and gradually he became aware of a faculty he had never known he possessed, one that somehow recognized the hidden meanings that he had always before found unintelligible.
The thirst for knowledge had always been his dominant motivation and, as their bodies moved together, he sensed that this field of inquiry might be one to absorb his intellect indefinitely. He supposed that it was no different than handling the cool facets of a carved gemstone, or breathing the faint vapours emanating from a painted canvas: another way to experience something fine, an insight into the mind of the creator of a beautiful object. Unbidden words arose in his mind, something he'd once been made to memorise: iDid He who made the Lamb make thee?/i
He dismissed that particular avenue of enquiry as profitless. But should there be some divine entity who would one day demand from him remorse for his supposed transgressions, Voldemort knew he would stridently defy that being on the grounds that every step he had taken had brought him to this…He struggled for a word, settled on fortuity, though someone else might have called it a state of grace.
"I don't care if it doesn't matter to you," Harry said suddenly. "I love you."
Voldemort looked into his lover's eyes, for the first time feeling perfectly contented. "I don't pretend to understand it, Harry, but I accept that you do – and I'm grateful."
The next morning, Harry hurried into the library where Voldemort was already preparing the Portkey.
"Do I look all right?" he asked anxiously.
Voldemort's gaze swept over him. "You changed robes again?"
"I've never done anything like this before! It's my first Order of Merlin presentation, and I don't want to embarrass us."
"You've forgotten something, I think."
"I have?" Harry puzzled over this for a moment, then his face brightened. "Accio glasses!" He skilfully caught his spectacles as they appeared, and put them on.
"Perfect," Voldemort said with an affectionate smile.
Harry grinned and hugged him as he reached to activate the Portkey. "Think so? Tell you what, when we get there, I'll..."
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