A/N: Love to reviewers.
This isn't the last we'll see of Harry in terms of his fate. I just didn't want him getting cocky :p
Tuesday, March 11, 2003- Five Years Post War
Harry Potter, sitting at his desk in the ministry, sighed. His head, which he had been keeping upright only with greatest effort, flopped to his ink stained blotter. He moaned. The light was burning his retinas with the force of a million fiery suns. At the breakfast table, his wife's shrill voice had felt like the drilling of a team of especially skilled and vicious demons.
He was, in a single word, hung over. He had a vague memory of trying to fly his broom the night before, and spilling off of it. Lucky he'd caught it and held on. Luckier he had the skill to guide it safely down, even pissed. It was a miracle that he'd Apparated home without splinching himself. Home. He laughed bitterly.
He wanted to hate Pansy but found he did not care enough. She'd given him a son, that was true. A good boy, a sweet boy. Harry loved Jamie more than life itself. He was going to be three soon. Where does the time go?
The Pureblood bitch he had been shackled to was a wholly different matter. She was spoiled, demanding, whiny. She was hateful to other women, especially Hermione. Why he had no idea, because it wasn't as though he could cheat on her. She treated their house elves terribly.
It beat death. Whatever else happened, he was alive. And in Jamie, he had something to live for, which was what made him suspect that Snape had been dosing Pansy with fertility drugs. She'd fallen pregnant almost at once, even faster than Hermione had. The labor had been easy, uncomplicated. The boy was fair skinned, with Lily's big green eyes in Pansy's pinched little face.
Harry smiled blearily, thinking on Jamie. His depression had never really receded. He felt it dragging him down each and every day. The baby helped, helped a lot, but even Jamie's first smile, his first word, his laugh and his brightness couldn't cancel the sucking darkness within.
A knock at the door. He put his head up and called for the annoyance to enter. Harry really didn't do much. The Dark Lord, after all, was immortal. He really didn't need a successor, any more than he needed food or drink or love. He was as immovable, as permanent, as unchanging as a stone idol.
It was Foster. Foster was shaking like a leaf in a storm. Speaking to the Dark Lord did that to him. It was the worst good luck of his life that he was the Dark Lord's apprentice's assistant.
" My lord, the Supreme Wizard would have a word with you."
He nodded. "Very good, Foster. Show his Lordship in. Please."
Voldemort looked much like he ever had. In his velvet green robe he cut a splendid figure. Magic could not restore his face to him, but the glamours he used for all but his closet allies helped immeasurably.
" Good morning, Harry. How is little Jamie?"
" Good morning, my Lord. Jamie is fine. He loves to ride that practice broom your lordship gave him."
Voldemort nodded. "Excellent. I heard tell you had a bit of an adventure last night, Harry. Why would one of your friends believe that of you?"
Harry's face remained impassive but inside he winced and vowed to use that little bastard Ellery as his own personal scratching post the next time it was convenient. He had just known the little arse kisser was up to no good.
" One could say that, my Lord. I had a little too much to drink, was all."
Voldemort sat down in the chair on the opposite side of the desk. " When I owled Pansy, she seemed to believe you hadn't come to bed. Is that true?"
"Yes, my Lord." Harry's insides twisted even more. The Dark Lord's voice was calm and interested, compassionate. Harry had heard that tone of voice before. He sat up straighter, resisted an urge to pull at his collar.
"Did you perhaps choose to sleep elsewhere?"
"Yes, my Lord. The guest chamber."
"Your elf heard you being sick. Is it safe to say you drank far too much?"
"Yes, my Lord." Harry wondered where this was going. The Dark Lord rarely castigated him for his drinking anymore.
" And pieces of your broom were found. Looked as though you'd taken a rather nasty fall. I assume you Apperated home."
" Yes, my Lord."
" Fortunate you didn't splinch yourself."
Harry couldn't look at him. He had a sense the Dark Lord was building up to something. He was suddenly curious about the swirl of ink blots on his desk.
" Look at me, Harry." He couldn't. Harry felt like a child being scolded which was, naturally, the point. The Dark Lord reached out and seized his chin, pulled it up.
" I seem to remember, Mr. Potter, a conversation we once had about self harm. In Malfoy manor while you were a guest there. Is that correct?" He let go.
Harry's stomach plummeted. Oh Merlin no.
"Yes, my Lord. If I may ask---"
"You may not. Let me finish. In sum, you stayed late at work, upsetting your wife and denying your son his father, so you could drink yourself sick. Then, rather than Flooing home like a sensible person, you chose to risk flight in your inebriated state. When you feel, you somehow guided the broom to the ground and Apparated home, potentially splinching yourself in the process, all so you could avoid sharing a bed with your wife, who assures me you have not exercised your marital debt in close to two months. Is that an accurate summation of what happened?"
Harry nodded. He found he could not speak even if he had wanted to. He wanted to cry without knowing the reason. Suppose the Dark Lord should make an example of Luna or Ginny. Or Jamie. Oh God.
The Dark Lord clamped his shoulder in a quick squeeze. " Don't be absurd, Harry. I would never hurt Jamie." The younger man noticed he didn't promise not to hurt his friend and the woman he still loved.
" However, I seem to remember we discussed consequences, did we not? You promised never to hurt yourself again."
" I didn't. My Lord."
Voldemort sighed. "That you did not was due mainly to your own good luck and skill as a flyer. Had you been hurt, or killed, it would not have been only yourself who was wounded. Your family would be hurt. I would have been hurt. Did you think of any of that?"
Whispering. "No, my Lord."
Voldemort stood and warded the door. Silenced it. Transfigured the desk into a sofa. A paperweight into a….
Harry stood, startled. " My Lord cannot mean to--"
" No? And why would that be, Mr. Potter?"
Harry flushed. He felt seventeen again. " I'm too old, my Lord."
Voldemort shook his head resolutely. " I'm afraid not. My guardianship over you is done, but I will always be your Paterfamilias."
" The head of the family, Harry. And as such, I have the right to punish you however I see fit. And since you acted in such a juvenile manner, Harry, I feel it fitting steps be taken to make the punishment fit the crime. Now come here at once."
He knew he had no choice. When he was younger he would have protested, fought, cursed. Harry was not vulnerable to the Imperius curse but Voldemort had found a way around that early on; using legilimency, he would rip the boy's worst memories out of his mind and replay them, over and over, until Harry complied.
Harry crossed to his side. Without being told he stripped his robes and set them on the chair. He began to bend over the Dark Lord's lap but a hand stopped him.
" You know better than that, do you not?"
The Dark Lord unbuttoned his trousers and carefully slid them to his knees, then gently guided Harry over his lap. The man was not much taller than the boy had been, still thin and light boned. He knew Harry would not fight him; he could feel the boy sniffling slightly even before they started. He hooked his fingers into the waistband of Harry's boxer shorts and yanked them down to meet the trousers. He locked his legs over Harry's to stop him kicking., picked up the brush and began.
He hadn't expected the brush, not right away. The first stroke took his breath away, the second brought tears to his eyes, the third made those tears start to course down his cheeks. By five he was sobbing and by ten he couldn't contain his yells.
Voldemort ignored him. The boy was bouncing wildly in place, howling. He couldn't be blamed, really. He was used to a thorough warm up and then a short, intense session with the brush. He hadn't been smacked in forever anyway. Out of practice, Voldemort thought smiling. He'd change that soon enough. The time was coming for Harry to assume his mantle, his rightful place at his Lord's side.
" It has been a while ( CRACK), hasn't it, Harry? Not since the time you tried to defy me about legilimency, I think( CRACK CRACK CRACK). That was a good three or four years ago, I daresay ( CRACK CRACK CRACK). I had thought you'd outgrown your need for this kind of punishment. ( CRACK CRACK CRACK CRACK CRACK) but it seemed I was mistaken ( CRACK CRACK CRACK CRACK ).
I imagine it hurts ( CRACK CRACK) quite a bit more than you recalled. Isn't that how these things go ( CRACK)? I regret that it came to this ( CRACK CRACK CRACK), but you will not hurt yourself while I have any say in the matter. And Harry (CRACK CRACK CRACK CRACK), I will always have a say.'
CRACK CRACK CRACK CRACK CRACK CRACK CRACK CRACK
CRACK CRACKCRACK CRACK CRACK CRACK CRACK CRACK
" Do you have anything you'd like to add? Before we talk about this?"
" That was implied, child. I take it that's a 'no'." The Dark Lord put the brush down and let Harry cry it out for a few moments.
" Do I have to express the depths of my dissatisfaction with your behavior, Harry?" ( He picked up the brush to impress his point on Harry's sit spots)
" NOOO MILORD!"
Voldemort nodded. " Very good. And how disappointed I am with you?" ( And then the crease between bottom and thigh).
The boy was sobbing so hard he would make himself sick unless he stopped. As was his custom, the Dark Lord began to rub circles on the boy's back, hissing to help him calm down.
Harry's breathing turned first to gasping pants and then to breathless shudders before either of them spoke. " Do you feel any better, little one?"
The obscene thing was that he did feel better. He hated having to be in control all the time. He hated being lied to and manipulated. He hated his friends lives hung on his words and gestures, on his very thoughts. He hated he'd gotten them caught. He hated that he was stupid and got the people who loved him killed.
CRACK! Harry hadn't expected it. He squirmed frantically while the Dark Lord scorched the backs of his thighs, holding him more tightly than ever.
"What nonsense, Harry. Perhaps you need more time to contemplate the inevitable rewards of hurting yourself."
The whole expanse of flesh from the middle of Harry's backside to half way to his knees was on fire. His sobs renewed themselves and didn't stop for a long time. Voldemort never hesitated. He stood, holding the slight boy around the shoulder as he transfigured the couch into a little daybed, likewise transfiguring Harry's clothes into a nightshirt just as he always did. He carefully lay the weeping bane of his immortal existence face down, careful that he was well tucked in. Then he began to hiss and rub again, this time carding his fingers through the boy's damp hair.
" Ssshhh, Harry. Shhhhh. It's all over now, little one. Forgiven and forgotten, just like always. Ssssshhhh. Try to sleep, child, we'll talk when you wake up."
"N-no. Please, I don't want to sleep."
"Defying me already, my child? Whatever shall I do with you?" He hissed it lightly, gently. He wouldn't smack Harry any more unless he deserved it egregiously. The boy was worn out, tired, heart sick. He needed rest and care.
Voldemort shook his head. He still thought of Harry as a child, despite the fact the boy was twenty two. Being essentially soulless, Voldemort did not love Harry or anyone else. He wondered, as he watched the boy whose life he had destroyed not once but twice crying himself to sleep, whether, had he been capable, he would have loved Harry.
"Why don't you want to sleep, little one? Do you have bad dreams?"
Harry nodded. He always fell asleep after he got his arse warmed. It felt so good, having all those awful feelings drained away for a while.
" It wasn't your fault, Harry. We both did what we felt we must."
Harry tried to sit up and was pressed down again and held for a moment to remind him of his place. "I was the one who said your name that night. They wouldn't have found us if I hadn't--"
The Dark Lord gave his blanketed bottom a firm swat. " I thought I told you not to talk nonsense. Must we continue this conversation over my knee?"
Harry shook his head vigorously. " N-no sir!"
Voldemort smiled. " Good boy. You never had a chance, you know. Not against me, not after Snape killed Dumbledore."
Harry swallowed a sob. He hated to think about that night. " All my friends."
" It was war. Your friends chose the wrong side and paid the price. You could not make their choices for them. All you can do now is live and live well. Sleep peacefully at night. Let that be your revenge to those who blame you for their own short sightedness and arrogance."
Harry was feeling the lightheaded onset of sleep. " I've made reservations for Pansy and yourself at the Unicorn Inn for nine o'clock. Narcissa will watch Jamie. Make sure you apologize for your behavior. Something shiny should do admirably."
Harry whined a little. "I know it will hurt, Harry. We've also had that conversation, remember?"
Harry nodded. " Actions have consequences."
"Good boy. I'll wake you in a few hours. Your appointments are cancelled for today."
He transfigured the chair into an armchair and pulled a book from his robes. He would stay with the boy while he slept.
" Oh, and Harry?' Barely awake, Harry grunted. "Ummmm?"
"Delores Umbridge has displeased me. You shall decide her fate. Have it in writing on my desk by Thursday."
The last thing Harry was aware of was the smile that broke like a sapling through the soil as he drifted off, content.