A/N: I wrote this to clear up something that had been bugging me-- why Harry seemed so complascent in 'Drowning Sorrow'. That same story contains a throwaway reference to legilimency, and the two merged.
I meant to write a fairly fluffy CP piece; I ended up writing a much angstier piece about the costs of survival and affection. I find this installment the most disturbing and sad. Title is a reference to Dylan Thomas.
This is seriously dark. Think mind rape dark.
Love to reviewers.
The Dark Lord sighed. "Harry, you simply must be reasonable about this. You need to learn--"
"No." Harry set his jaw and crossed his arms. He simply wasn't going to obey. The Dark Lord could beat him senseless and he still wouldn't give in. He inhaled, steeling himself.
" Do you honestly think you have a choice in this?" The Dark Lord was wondering why he hadn't killed the boy when he had the chance. Horcrux issue aside, it would have been so much easier. He was the most powerful dark wizard in Britain, very probably the world, being defied by a scrawny teenager determined to have his way.
" I can't. I tried with Snape and I can't. Really." Harry wasn't going to learn legilimency and that was that.
The Dark Lord wished he had a nose so he could pinch the bridge of it. The boy had been so much better lately; the threat of harming his friends was generally enough to encourage the right behaviors. He supposed this rebellion was inevitable; Harry had been through much change in the past few months and this was analogous to growing pains. At least he hadn't tried to escape or something equally hard to manage. Not that he would succeed.
" Snape asserts you made no real efforts in learning from him. Not to mention going through his pensieve. Rest assured, Mr. Potter, had that happened while you were under my guardianship, you would have spent quite some time sitting on a pillow for meals."
" Snape's always hated me. I don't know why Dumbledore even chose him."
"That's beyond the point, Harry. The point is you will learn legilimency."
Harry locked eyes with the Dark Lord. " I can't do it."
The Dark Lord was irritated and amused at once. Irritated because the boy ought to have been far too afraid to defy him, and amused because the boy was the only person he knew with the grit to tell him no. He was torn between hexing the boy and praising him. Once properly molded, this stubbornness would serve Voldemort well.
Voldemort pushed down his feelings and sat in the armless chair at his desk. He turned it to face Harry and warded the door, though he opted against silencing it. Perhaps the knowledge that everyone heard him getting punished would give Harry a little humility.
" Come here, Harry. I daresay you know what's going to happen."
Harry had been prepared for this. He didn't move. "No."
The Dark Lord wondered why he had wasted all that time killing and maiming his foes. He could have simply de-aged his followers and set them loose ( the idea of Bellatrix at, say, thirteen or fourteen was too ghastly for words). They would have done away with themselves to get away from the mouthy, insolent little brats invading their homes.
"Don't make me summon you, Harry." Voldemort raised his wand. Harry pretended not to hear.
"Imperio." The boy jerked. His muscles tensed, his eyes snapped shut and flew open. His hands locked on the under lip of the chair's seat. Voldemort could feel the boy's magic pushing back against his, fighting.
The Dark Lord ended the spell. The boy half collapsed against the seat back, triumphant. He was breathing hard, face white from the effort, but he'd done it.
Voldemort felt a mixture of pleasurable shock and upset. It was very inconvient that Harry should be able to resist the Imperius spell; it boded well for Harry's resiliency that the boy had enough mettle. Someday he would be a formidable second in command. For right now, though…
Voldemort could move like a snake striking when it suited him. He stood, seemed to move a few steps and then somehow had a hand locked firmly on the back of Harry's neck. He picked him up like a kitten and drug him the few feet to the other side of the room before the boy had time to react.
"Honestly Harry, I think you must like whippings, the way you court them." He pulled the boy to stand between his legs and reached under his shirt to get to his trouser buttons. Harry was in a mood to lash out. He actually attempted to slap the Dark Lord's hands away, determined to undo his trousers himself, to regain that little bit of control.
Voldemort was having none of it. He seized Harry's hands in one of his and used the other hand to unbutton Harry's trousers. He calmly turned the boy up, still holding him still, and then stuck him to his lap, denying him the ability to move at all. No squirming, no kicking, no twisting, arms stuck to the small of his back. He pulled the boy's pants to his knees and brought his hand back.
Harry made two very unpleasant discoveries at once. The first was that he was unable to move his body anywhere it was touching the Dark Lord. He was held fast from his stomach to most of the way down his calves, and his arms as well. The second was that the Dark Lord was apparently determined to teach Harry a memorable lesson, because he was swatting Harry hard.
" I want you to think about the behavior that earned you this spanking. We've been through this before, have we not? About defying me?" Voldemort settled back and relaxed, giving the boy slow, hard smacks that made him stiffen and suck in air with every swat.
" The fact you refuse to answer indicates to me that you needed this. Perhaps I have been remiss in not chastising you more frequently?"
Harry could feel tears threatening. He was absolutely determined not to cry, not to give in. It didn't hurt, it didn't hurt itdidnthurtitdidnthurt. He squeezed his eyes shut and tried to concentrate on something, anything else. The nine uses of dragon's blood, for example, or how one executes a Wronski feint.
He remembered a poem he'd learned in elementary school. What was it… "Remember, remember, the fifth of' SMACK! Harry was forcibly jerked out of his reverie by an especially hard whack to his sit spot. " No, no, Harry. Stay here with me, little one." He dealt the boy a few more to make sure he was paying attention and then went back to what he'd been doing, paddling the boy hard but not overly hard.
Itdidnthurtitdidnthurtitdidnthurt. Yes, it did, Harry had to admit to himself, it hurt a Dark lord gave no signs of wanting to move on; he wasn't lecturing or scolding. His hand just kept coming down on the same spots over and over again.
Voldemort smiled. His hand was having a long conversation with Harry's backside about What Happened to Little Boys who Couldn't Obey. Whatever was being said, it must have been quite embarrassing; Harry's backside was blushing a dark pink.
Harry gulped and felt his resolve breaking a little. He hated himself suddenly with a burning passion. Snape had been absolutely right; he had no discipline. He couldn't help anyone, ever, even himself, because he was always going off half cocked and mucking everything up. He wanted so much to have an outlet for the pain and humiliation he was feeling, to vent the sudden swell of emotions in his chest.
"You do have, Harry. If you calm down and let yourself cry it will help tremendously."
Harry shook his head mutely, not trusting his mouth to reply. The constant spanks were building a fire in his backside, but not the intolerable flames the brush made. More like a constant, inexorable burn that wouldn't go away.
The Dark Lord was pleased with this turn of events. The brush was a useful tool for teaching gross lessons ( namely that certain actions result in a session of horrible, embarrassing pain) but for finer lessons it was best to do it this way. The brush wasn't going to break Harry; Harry would do that himself with just a little help from the Dark Lord.
Harry couldn't bear another second. Nor could he stand to give in and cry. He knew he should be able to withstand far more than this; he had held out a long while under the brush, longer than this, and it had hurt more. He hated himself for being such a stupid little baby.
" Hush, Harry. You're supposed to be thinking about your bad behavior, not flagellating yourself. That's my job, child." The Dark Lord said nothing else, but he paused for a second to give Harry a comforting pat before he resumed spanking him
firmly but not cruelly.
That did it. Harry's pain finally broke through the wall of his defiance and he began to sob, giving vent to loud "Owww"s. Voldemort nodded to himself and carefully shifted Harry as much as possible to get to his sit spots.
" It seems you managed to obey me for once. Do you regret your actions?"
Harry nodded. Voldemort sensed they were not nearly done, but it would not do for Harry to break too early or improperly. He gave a boy half a dozen real scorchers where he sat and then a matching six on his thighs so he'd know they were done and then unstuck him.
Harry hands immediately flew back to rub. His modesty forgotten, he bounced frantically on his toes, trying to cool the sting with his hands. Oww oww owww owww!
"Stand still, Harry." That calm voice stopped him. He dropped his hands to his sides, suddenly remembered his trousers were down and felt his face trying to blush under the stiffness the tears had caused.
Voldemort had to stifle a grin. The boy looked closer to ten than eighteen, rubbing his backside and yipping as he tried to dance the pain away. He turned away while the boy quickly pulled up his pants and trousers, heard the inevitable "Ouch!" as the cotton touched Harry's thoroughly heated skin.
Once the boy was decent Voldemort approached. Harry dropped his eyes, embarrassed. The Dark Lord took his ward's chin in his hands and forced his head up.
" You handled that well, Harry. Doesn't it feel better to be held accountable for your actions, my child?"
Harry gave the matter a moment of serious thought. Harry didn't like being spanked; on the other hand, once it was done it was over. And there was a strange comfort in the fact that the rules never changed—as long as he obeyed he didn't get punished. Which didn't mean that he liked having to obey, not by a longshot. But he didn't hate it as much as he should have, either.
The Dark Lord could have guessed the boy's thought even without legilimizing him. How confusing it must be, he reflected dispassionately, to have the one source of adult stability in your life be the person who killed your parents to begin with.
" Bed, little one. I'll be in to check on you in a few moments." The Dark Lord threw a handful of Floo powder into the fireplace and Harry obediently stepped through, ending up in his own room. Voldemort's new home was ancient, austere, taken from a supporter of Dumbledore. Far from anything else, it was a fortress. Death Eaters patrolled the halls night and day, silent as monks.
He collapsed into bed, overwhelmed. It was easy to hold onto himself, easy to hate Voldemort, when he was being beaten with that brush. He could justify it, tell himself he'd only given in ( or apologized or cried) because that brush simply hurt too much to be endured. No he didn't have that. He'd cried like a little kid over something that didn't even hurt very much and couldn't bring himself to ask why. He changed into his pajamas, not daring to disobey despite the fact it wasn't even seven o'clock.
A half an hour later he was lying on his side, staring at a stain on the wall that was either a rabbit or an elk. He heard the door squeak open and rolled over as quickly as possible, avoiding contact between his sore backside and the mattress.
His guardian came and sat down beside him in a chair Voldemort had put by the bed for exactly that purpose. He watched as his ward shifted and stared at him boldly with damp, slightly red eyes.
" I hope you learned something tonight, child."
"Yes sir." Harry wanted nothing more than a good sulk by himself in a darkened room.
" Have you changed your mind about legilimency?"
"No." Harry was absolutely determined not to give in. He'd given up so much, lost so much, seen so much horror that this one small issue seemed to him to carry the weight of the world.
The Dark Lord nodded. " Then I suspect you understand the consequences, child?"
Harry felt himself pale but stayed firm. " I-I do."
"You're a brave boy, Harry. But you must learn to temper your bravery with the understanding that I make rules for your benefit, not to spite you. I don't spank you for the pleasure of it."
Voldemort reached out a hand and tangled it gently in the boy's messy, too long hair. Harry flinched instinctively and tried to move his head away. The Dark Lord shook his head. " No, Harry, lie still."
They spent a few moments like that; it was a test. Finally Harry relaxed a little against the pillow and Voldemort began to lightly stroke the boy's hair.
Harry wished the Dark Lord had slapped him. It wouldn't have hurt as much. His insides roiled and moved with emotions that confused the teenager so much he could barely put names to them. He felt strangely hurt, for one; of all the people who had claimed to love him, or should have loved him, none of them had ever done this for him. What was wrong with them, with him, that the only person ever to touch him with simple affection was his mortal enemy?"
The boy bit back a sniffle. Voldemort was smiling gently; his triumph was nearly complete. He wished Dumbledore was here to see his little savior now; an exhausted child being lulled to sleep by nothing more than a little kindness. He tucked the blankets around the boy's neck. Harry was fighting sleep but Voldemort would show him who was in control.
Harry felt himself relaxing and tried to summon a burst of self hatred to shake it off. He made himself picture his friends as he had seen them last, covered in blood, deep in despair, and found his mind would not work long enough for him to focus. It insisted that he shut up and let his eyes drift closed. Somehow they did, without his imput, and then the world, swaddled in a layer of cotton wool, went gently grey.
So it went. The Dark Lord was determined to break the boy's stubbornness, his willful pride and arrogant resolve. Harry was determined to hold onto that little spark of himself, the bit of light in a darkness that would never cease, never waver, never quit.
He clung to his rebellion, that mote of being as long as he could. He could feel himself slipping, feel his soul's hands sliding on the rock walls of the pain and kindness offered by the Dark Lord. After a few days the Dark Lord began quietly leaving salve for him on the bedside table so he could function. Every night Harry would quietly weep his pain and humiliation and the sheer frustration of things into his pillow, every night the Dark Lord sat with him until he fell asleep.
Finally, after a week, Voldemort tired of the game. He'd been smacking Harry daily, hard smackings that would have bruised the boy had he not had Severus make healing salve for him, and yet the child refused to be broken. No matter his pain he would not budge.
Voldemort felt torn; he could inflict greater pain on the boy but that wouldn't produce the desired effect. Harry mustn't fear him, which was the main thing; it's hard to manipulate someone into believing you have their best interests at heart while beating them bloody with a cat o'nine tails. Voldemort pondered on this a long while and then, mind made up, called his ward to come and claim his destiny.
Harry could sense a sea change in the Dark Lord as he reported to the study as he did every night. He had no illusions about what would happen there; he could tolerate it. The Dark Lord gestured for him to sit in the chair on the other side of the desk. He didn't say anything for long moments.
The Dark Lord thought raised his wand . "Legilimens"
Voldemort is immersed in Harry's mind, buried in its layers. He digs in the stream like a man panning for gold, finds his quarry and pulls it up to the forefront of the boy's conscious mind.
Hedwig falling in flames to the earth. Umbridge and the enchanted quill. Himself, growing from Quirell's head. Watching Greyback tearing Ollivander apart. Dementors.
Harry is suddenly aware Voldemort is in his head. He makes a cursory attempt to shove him out before his whole world is reduced to his most awful memories, the things he relegates to mental rooms into which he never ventures. The stream goes on and on, endless, agonizing, a tapestry of human suffering.
Sirius now. Bellatrix, wand raised, prepares to knock him through the veil. In real time, tears began to drip down Harry's cheeks; in his mind he watched helpless, unable to do anything as his godfather died. And again. And again.
The Dark Lord's voice cut smoothly through the vision. "If you feel ready to accept your punishment, Harry, we'll stop."
The boy nodded, unable to speak. He was curled defensively about himself, hugging his chest, rocking slowly back and forth on his chair. The memories dissipated at once, leaving them both in the little room they started in. Voldemort gave him a moment and then patted his lap in the traditional 'come here' gesture. " Can you walk, Harry?"
Harry stood and walked over to his guardian/captor. He was shaking painfully, eyes unseeing. Voldemort wondered if he'd unhinged the boy's mind.
" I'm sorry I had to do that, little one, but this disobedience can't go on."
Harry felt the edges of emotional wounds pulled taut, collapsing, rupturing. He gulped hard, trying to shut the images he knew he'd see for the next few months in his dreams.
Voldemort gently trapped the boy's hands in his and unbuttoned his trousers. The boy was staring vaguely, not caring what was about to happen. Voldemort reached out and cupped the boy's face in his hands.
" What did you see, little one?"
"You know. You were there."
Voldemort felt his pulse quicken a little. The boy was coming around, his spirit still strong at the core. Excellent, excellent.
The nightmare could never be worse than it was now. Harry felt strangely lightheaded, almost joyful. Surely the Dark Lord meant to kill him, to end it here, tonight. He felt a great wash of gratitude, of relief.
" I want to hear it from you. Say it, Harry. Tell me you watched Sirius Black die. Tell me about Ollivander, about Fletcher. They ripped him to pieces, didn't they, Harry? First his nose, then his eyes, then--"
"No. No, shut up. I don't have to remember! I don't, I don't!"
The Dark Lord could almost hear the boy's soul cracking at the edges. Tears had gathered at Harry's eyes, his hands were shaking. If Voldemort had a heart it would have cringed at the sight of his ward so close to the edge.
The Dark Lord had a strange sense of presque vu; as Harry had seen him reborn in the graveyard, he now stood with Harry on the precipice of his new life. As Hermione was reborn from the fires of her grief and the chaotic madness of Bellatrix and Rudolphus, Harry was being formed anew from the icy chill of his new master's resolve. I will sharpen him, Voldemort thought, as iron sharpens iron. I will take him unto myself and he will be my heir, my child, my right hand.
"But you do, little one. You owe them that, don't you? You couldn't save them, couldn't help them. You could only….watch them…die."
He worked the boy's trousers down and the pants followed. He paddled the boy mercilessly, sensing he needed the catharsis of being able to let go fully.
Harry broke with a near audible crack. His head dropped, totally limp, wailing. He seemed not to notice that Voldemort was smacking him; he was concentrated on the horrible pain in his chest.
The Dark Lord stopped swatting at once and righted the boy. The tail of Harry's shirt fell, protecting his modesty but he was past all caring. His grief was unstoppable, a flood, a torrent.
Voldemort reached out with his arms. The boy would purge himself, a great bloody expelling, and then the Dark Lord would begin the process of years, reshaping him, forming him. This was the dross being burned out, that was all. Fire always burns but only sometimes, with much patience, can it shape rather than destroy.
"Come here, Harry."
Harry cowered. Still sobbing he moved away, felt his back hit a wall, slid down. He drew in on himself and retreated to a deep, quiet place like his cupboard. His body seemed to be shrinking, and suddenly he was little again. He opened the door and crawled in, found his little mat and torn quilt, groped for his teddy bear with the missing leg, the one that used to be Dudley's. His hand closed on something else, something hard and cold and he tried to shrink away but it held him fast.
" No, Harry. Stay here." Voldemort walked into the open chasm of Harry's mind and found the boy, a child again, trying to bury himself in a dark little box-like cupboard. He put his arms under the boy's arms and brought him to his feet. The boy whined. The Dark Lord half walked, half carried the boy to the Floo and threw a handful of powder in.
When they stepped out Harry was still limp, still making that awful keening sound of grief and horror. Voldemort brought him to the bed and sat down. He wasn't quite certain how to do this next bit but, like Draco Malfoy, it would never be said he didn't try.
Harry felt cold all over. His outpouring had to stop soon. He was shaking all over, his throat sore, his voice hoarse. He wouldn't speak above a rasp for four days. His face hurt from crying. He felt utterly blank, washed clean by his pain.
Voldemort reminded himself that the plan hinged on the next few moments. Gingerly, uncertainly, he lifted Harry into his lap, right side up.
If he felt uncertain, Harry felt surreal. This simply was not possible. The Dark Lord was…hugging him. Or something. His whole body tried to go stiff and couldn't. He was too worn out. He felt his head being moved into position on Voldemort's shoulder, his limbs being carefully adjusted so nothing was squeezed or pressed or pinned. His guardian even had presence of mind enough to spread his knees so Harry's bottom wouldn't press anything that would make it hurt.
The Dark Lord felt as strange as Harry. Stranger, since he had never held another individual this close to his body before. He could feel the in and out of Harry's breathing, the soft thumping of his heart. His pulse was very high and his body warm and blood flushed, as though he had a fever.
He began to sway, less uncertain by the minute. He vaguely remembered watching Lucius do this with Draco when the little monster was very small. It seemed to work well enough then. It was working now, he thought.
Harry didn't want to like it. He wanted to hate it, in fact, but hate took effort he couldn't muster. The Dark Lord was cupping the nape of his neck, very lightly, and rocking him back and forth. No one had ever rocked Harry, except his parents and he couldn't remember that. His whole body felt heavy and dry, almost, like his crying had drained all the moisture in him.
The Dark Lord gently pressed into the child's mind again. He found a boy much younger than Harry, dirty and scabby and too skinny. He was curled in a fetal position, clutching a disgusting old teddy bear that looked like it had been chewed by a feral dog.
"Harry? It's all right, little one. It's all right."
"Uh uh." The child curled up tighter and Voldemort noticed that his legs had red, painful looking welts on them. Looking closer, he saw they were bug bites.
On his lap, Harry began to rake his nails over his thighs, hissing. The Dark Lord immediately grabbed hold of his hand and gently pressed it. " What are the bites from, Harry?"
Harry sniffled. " Outside."
"Yes, child, but what were you doing outside? Playing?"
"Helping Uncle Vernon pick the weeds."
The Dark Lord was beginning to see. Though they did not know it yet, the Dursleys' death warrants had just been signed. "And the cupboard, Harry? Is it your playhouse?"
Harry shook his head. " I slept there."
The Dark Lord feels anger bubbling in his chest. Those animals, those foul creatures, those muggle bastards put a wizarding child to sleep in a closet? Horrible memories of Matron locking him in the bog as punishment when he was small filtered back into his brain.
He tightened his grip on Harry and gently used his mind to coax the little one, Harry's inner child, into standing up. In real time the Dark Lord rocked again, humming. Harry opened eyes gummy with fatigue and looked around. All he could see was Voldemort's chest and his red satin robe.
" My Lord?"
"Shhh. Put your head down, Harry. Are you thirsty?"
Harry nodded. The Dark Lord accio'd a comb and transfigured it, filled it with cold water he aguamenti'd. Holding the cup he brought it to Harry's mouth. "Open, little one."
Harry opened his mouth, startled, and Voldemort gave him a sip. Then another. Then a third.. The Dark Lord gave him a final sip and set the cup down. " You'll have more once you keep that down, child."
He simply let Harry rest a few moments before he spoke again. " Have you resigned yourself to learning legilimency, Harry? Because we could easily repeat this lesson tomorrow if we had to."
Harry's eyes snapped open. He couldn't conscience—couldn't bear--- fresh tears filled his eyes. " I'll learn."
The Dark Lord smiled into the top of the dark head on shoulder. " I'm sorry. You'll what? And to whom are you speaking?"
" I said I'll learn, my Lord."
Voldemort nodded. " That's the good boy, Harry. I knew you'd see sense." His hand pressed Harry's back and rubbed the tension that had suddenly pooled there.
"Why are you weeping, Harry? You'll make yourself sick."
" I've—I—I've betrayed--"
" No." Voldemort's voice was low and clear and absolutely commanding.
" They abandoned you, Harry. They did what was easy for themselves rather than what was best for you."
" But my parents—Sirius--"
" James and Lily tried, little one. But the others—Sirius, Dumbledore, the Order—they never even attempted to ease the burden for you, did they? It was the cupboard all over again."
Harry nodded despite himself. " They never—never hugged—never--" He was too tired to sob but not too tired to press his head into Voldemort's cold, hard chest and let the tears run down his face.
"Shhhh. Shhhhh. Shhhhhh. No more cupboard, child. Hush, Harry. Close your eyes and go to sleep."
He could feel the boy growing heavy in his arms. He set him down and transfigured his clothing. He really had to get Harry to dress for bed beforehand; otherwise he'd have no clothes left.
From a far corner Nagini rustled over and clamored up. She lay down near at Harry's midsection and allowed him to hug her like…well, a child with a teddy bear. Voldemort did a quick check and saw that Harry's inner child had retreated and his mind was more or less as it should be.
Voldemort was surprised and pleased his familiar had bonded with his ward. Nagini was hissing soothingly to the boy, reassuring him that Nagini and Master would take care of him. He was warm and safe, warm and safe, warm and safe. The Dark Lord had never imagined that snakes had lullabies.
Harry's breathing was deep, slow. With a final gentle pat, the Dark Lord left the boy and his still hissing familiar and quietly left the room, dousing the light as he went.