A/N: This story comes with some warnings... the fic starts out kind of serious, but it quickly turns into a light-hearted romantic comedy with dark themes. And considering the main pairing, that makes this (in my opinion) a crakish fic. If you are looking for a lot of drama and angst and something that borders on realistic actions from these characters as you would usually find with this pairing, then this is NOT the fic for you. The following story is full of crazyness. I just wanted to do something with this pairing that wasn't angst ridden. Things may not make sense in this story, but that's the way I want it. Please no flames about the things I've just said, since you have been warned.
The Black Bunny
Diagon Alley was more crowded than expected. Due to Lord Voldemort still being at large, the two wizards standing in the shadows expected wizards and witches to be hiding in their homes, afraid of Death Eater raids. It had been so only a few short months before. However, the crowds suited the purpose of the two disillusioned wizards watching the bustling crowds where they kept a watch standing in a darkened narrowed side alley. Both wizards straightened up upon catching sight of their objective, walking through the crowds, eyes straight ahead, seemingly ignorant of the whispers and stares.
"And we are sure our information is correct, Lucius?"
"Yes, my Lord. The boy has been betrayed. He has stopped training. He makes an easy target now. Purposely throwing himself into danger time and time again. One would think he wants to die."
"Or he simply no longer cares about the cause."
"Why should he care about any of the causes when they've both brought him nothing but death and betrayal? Draco reported Potter's involvement with the Slytherins. Even then, before the massacre, he'd pulled back from the fight. Draco says Potter doesn't concern himself anymore."
Voldemort nodded and he and Lucius continued to watch the eighteen year old wizard casually walk through the crowds, chin to the ground but his vibrant green eyes bore straight ahead, neither looking here nor there.
"We could take him now, my Lord. I see no one from the blasted Order."
"Spoken too soon. Really, Lucius. Why can't you hold your tongue?" Voldemort hissed. He pointed towards a group of wizards scurrying after Harry Potter.
Voldemort and Lucius Malfoy watched intrigued as several members of the Order surrounded Potter, all of them looking hostile. The moment Potter saw them his blank face morphed into a scowl and his wand was suddenly in hand.
"So it is official," Voldemort murmured. Potter's countenance once faced with five wizards was also interesting to study. Where once before he'd been walking down the road looking lost but alert, now the boy had straightened up and it seemed his power had wrapped around himself. He looked strong and well equipped to deal with the fools surrounding him. But… there was also something infinitely off about Potter's defensive stance. After a moment, Potter winced. And he did it more than once.
"He's injured," the Dark Lord whispered and Lucius' eyes narrowed for further study.
"Come along, Harry. We must get you back," Arthur Weasley's voice reached them. Lucius shifted and sneered.
"Um… no. We've had this discussion before."
"You cannot simply pop off to wherever you want, Potter!" barked Alastor Moody.
"I'll do as I please. I am no longer your weapon," Harry stated firmly before trying to brush passed Moody and Weasley. Moody grabbed Potter's arm, and even from where they were standing, Voldemort and Lucius could see the grip was meant to be painful.
"Please, Harry. Let's return to Headquarters and we'll talk about it," Weasley pleaded.
"How many times do I have to tell you, Arthur? I'm through with the Order! I'm through with all of you," Potter snarled and twisted his arm out of Moody's grip. "Maybe I want to do Voldemort a favor by getting myself killed. You deserve to lose!"
"Harry! What are you saying?"
"I don't know how I can be any clearer. You all showed your worth when you tried killing all the Slyth-"
Several stunners were thrown at Potter at once and he was unable to dodge all of them. Before he could hit the ground one of the Order grabbed him and quickly Apparated away before the crowds could understand what had just happened.
Lucius cleared his throat, noticing a tame fury entering his Lord's eyes. "Correct me if I'm wrong, my Lord. But did the Order just kidnap Harry Potter?"
"Yes, Lucius. I believe that's exactly what we've just seen," Voldemort replied softly.
They were keeping him prisoner in the attic of Grimmauld Place. The attic! Laughable as that was. Had they forgotten? He was Sirius' heir. Everything inside Grimmauld Place, including the house itself was his. The house would protect him. The house would follow his orders. Including the House elf. "Kreacher!"
"Master called?" the house elf asked with a disdainful ear twitch. Harry, who was sitting cross-legged in the center of the empty attic, raised his hands out in front of him. His wrists were in manacles which had been chained to the floor and spelled so that he couldn't pull the chains free.
"Release me. Then go and find my wand. I'm sure it's still in the house. Return it to me and help me out of here. And don't say anything about any of this until after you've helped me go."
Kreacher crept forward and eyed the chains before sneering and snapping his fingers. The manacles fell away with a loud clatter. It wasn't long before the elf returned with his wand and the elf handed over a Portkey Harry had hidden away in his bedroom downstairs.
"Thanks," he told the sour elf before activating the untraceable Portkey. Harry landed on his back inside his furnished flat located in London and shouted out as the contact with the floor caused shocks of pain throughout his back. He twisted onto his stomach and lay there on the wood floor; trembling and pulling in deep breaths until the pain receded.
"Bloody bastards," he hissed after standing and going into his bedroom. He supposed it had been stupid of him to go into Diagon Ally but he never thought the Order would go after him like that. He ought to have known better though. After Dumbledore's death, the Order had changed. They became more ruthless in how they accomplished things. Trying to kill off the entire Slytherin House for example and then blaming it on Death Eaters. What the hell? Harry couldn't believe it when he realized what was happening. And many students had died. His boyfriend, for one.
With that thought came the inevitable bout of pain and sadness, though he wasn't permitted to soak in it this time when a pop sounded in the living room. "Harry!" And suddenly he had a whole face full of bushy brown hair.
"I'm fine, Hermione."
"I was so scared when I heard what happened! And the papers were saying it was an imposter! They wouldn't even let me see you when I went to Headquarters! Denied that you were there. Honestly, Moody and the others seemed to have gone insane." She took a deep breath and suddenly looked enraged. "What were you thinking, going to Diagon Alley by yourself?"
Harry shrugged, though he looked mildly ashamed. "Going to meet Neville… suppose it was naive to believe at least one Gryffindor besides us thought the whole Slytherin plot to have been horrid."
Hermione's eyes widened into saucers. "Neville set you up?"
"Seems that way to me. Anyway, I don't want to talk about me being an idiot and believing the best in people…. You can see I'm okay. But I'd really like to be left alone right now."
Sensing the somber mood, she nodded. Knowing Harry's brooding did more good than bad for him. "You'll be careful if you go out."
"Sticking to the muggle areas. Just going to pop out to the park down the road. Won't be long."
"Alright. I'll be back later to apply the lotion onto your back."
He'd been in the park for about an hour, sitting at the edge of a small duck pond and staring morosely out at the ducks that all seemed to have little happy blissful pain free lives, when suddenly the hairs on the back of his neck began to stand on end and he knew someone was staring at him.
Casually, Harry looked over his shoulder, but found no one really around him. And no one in the distance paying the least bit of attention to him. That is to say... no humans paying him any attention. But strangely he caught sight of an animal that looked completely out of place. There was a black bunny sitting under the tree a few yards away. Just sitting there staring at him. Immediately Harry knew it was magical. No regular animal could have a stare like that to make the hair on the back of his neck stand on end.
Either it was an Animagus or someone's familiar. Fearing the first- and that it was someone sent by the Order- Harry stood from the patch of grass he'd been lounging on, turned away from the bunny, and began to walk towards the sidewalk. A few yards away he glanced over his shoulder again, only to stop and stare. The bunny was hopping after him and Harry had the distinct impression that the animal was scowling at him.
Just as he was about to walk on, his scar started throbbing. So much that he doubled over and had to press the heel of his palm against the jagged mark on his forehead. Harry cursed lowly until the pain receded. After a moment he was able to straighten and took a deep breath. Then he turned to fully face the animal, which was now only a foot away. "I get it," he hissed before minutely flicking his hand at the animal. "Petrificus Totalus."
Harry picked the bunny up by the scruff of its neck and as soon as he found somewhere private, Apparated to the muggle flat Hermione had set up for him months ago. Harry grabbed an empty cardboard box, dropped the bunny inside, and set it on the coffee table. He didn't release the animal from the wandless spell and because it couldn't release itself, Harry assumed he'd gotten the message wrong about the creature currently lying frozen in the box. The brunet frowned as he glanced at the clock. He had a few hours before Hermione would visit after work so he lay down on the couch for a nap.
Two black paws appeared at the edge of the cardboard box. The careless young wizard had fallen asleep on his stomach. Fallen asleep when he knew the animal before him was not normal. The bunny suspected Potter knew or suspected it was an Animagus, and not a friendly either. And yet he fell asleep? The bunny twitched its nose in annoyance.
What is the point of this ridiculous box? the bunny thought with a sneer as it leaned forward, tipping the box over a bit so that it could hop out and onto the hard wood floor beside the couch. Potter shifted as the rabbit hopped closer. The wizard groaned softly in his sleep and moved again so that his t-shirt moved, revealing a strip of skin at the base of his back. The rabbit's eyes narrowed in curiosity when it caught sight of the inflamed mark. A nasty thick wound that began under the boy's waistband to disappear up past his shirt.
He was injured. How? No one with a Dark Mark reported any injury to the boy-who-lived, but obviously the young wizard had been injured. And brutally. The bunny could all but feel the magic used for such a wound. Could smell it. And the wound was festering. Wanting a better look, the bunny hopped onto the couch, waiting until Potter settled down before slowly hopping little hops along the boy's side, careful not to fall off the edge. The bunny moved until he could see the wound clearly and leaned forward until its dark nose nearly touched Potter's skin. This was done by dark magic. Perhaps a Death Eater has done this. No one from the Order would. Not to their precious 'savior'… then again, they did attack Potter in broad daylight and in the middle of a crowded street, even if they covered it up in the Prophet by stating they were after a Potter impostor.
"Your nose is cold. Mind backing the hell away from me?"
Potter sounded fully awake and unconcerned that the animal was free, but despite his tone, there was an underlying current of wariness and the boy had his wand gripped firmly in hand.
Harry moved before the bunny did; crawling off the couch and circling around to stand behind it. Again he had the distinct impression that the bunny rolled its eyes as him. "Alright. I brought you here. Show yourself. And if you're here to kill me… I'm not exactly helpless. Know my fair share of curses."
The bunny hopped off the couch and turned to face the young wizard before transforming. Harry's eyes widened and lifted as the figure returned to his normal height. The newly transformed wizard studied the young man before him with red eyes void of emotion. "Didn't you tell the Order you wanted to do me a favor by getting yourself killed?"
"I said maybe," Harry responded after recovering. "Fuck. This is… shite," he hissed, realizing he was screwed. He might know of some dark and light curses that could help him out, but he was so not ready to duel Voldemort inside the living room of his flat. That aside, Harry felt a bubble of laughter trying to make its escape. Tom Riddle, aka Lord Voldemort had been hopping around London as a little cute black bunny. It was too funny to not find humor in despite the situation.
A dark brown eyebrow rose when Harry released a snort of amusement… hold on. Eyebrow? "What the hell happened to your face?"
Voldemort's eyes narrowed. "How do you mean?"
"You have one!"
The slight twinge from his scar surprised Harry. The small pain only amounted to Voldemort being slightly annoyed and that was all. Harry had expected a lot of rage for his boldness. But the dark wizard wasn't sneering or smirking evilly. Didn't look ready to raise his wand and cast Avada Kedavra. Instead the wizard, who somehow had his human face back, was watching Harry with unblinking eyes.
"Have you come here to murder me or is this a simple tea time visit?" Harry asked boldly.
"If my plan was to murder you, I would have done it already. Stupid child."
"I'm not stupid!"
"You are. You brought me here, despite knowing I was dangerous."
"Didn't know it was you exactly," Harry mumbled.
"You're taking my presence here fairly well, I must say."
Harry shrugged. "I'd rather be murdered by you than controlled by the Order and everyone else for the rest of my life," he spat darkly. "Why are you here? Come to create havoc and mass hysteria? Intend to kill all my muggle neighbors? The bloke down the hall is a real arsehole. Start with him." Harry grinned when his scar twinged painfully.
"I was witness to that display of kidnapping in Diagon Alley," Voldemort bit out, annoyed by the boy's insistence on being so bold with him.
"I'm not joining you."
Voldemort pinched the bridge of his nose. A nose that was surprisingly straight and handsome, Harry noted. The Dark Lord pulled in his frustrations and prepared to respond when there was a knock on the door.
"Harry? Are you in?"
Harry looked at the door with wide frightened eyes. Hermione was early. The Gryffindor hurried and put himself in between the door and Voldemort.
"Let her in."
"No," he hissed and pressed back against the door. "She's all I have left. I won't let you do anything to her."
"Surely that's wrong. You've several," Voldemort sneered, "friends."
"No. Not anymore," Harry turned and pressed lips against the door. "Hermione, come back later."
"No, Harry! I need to put the salve on your back! Let me in!"
"Let her in."
"Harry, who's that with you?" Hermione called pensively. Harry heard her pull out her set of the flat keys. "I'm coming in!"
"No, Hermione. Go away!"
"Are you okay?" the doorknob started to rattle. Harry pressed all his weight against the door. Praying she'd go away. "HARRY JAMES POTTER! YOU LET ME IN RIGHT NOW!"
Voldemort smirked when Harry cringed in fear. "I will not hurt her. Even if she is a muggle born. Rather like to see what kind of witch could make you fear so."
Harry was prepared to tell him to piss off when suddenly he was thrown forward onto his face as his front door was blasted open by a worried and enraged witch.
Hermione burst in, wand at the ready and prepared to battle. Voldemort raised a brow, seeing the snarl on her face. He then smiled blackly when she caught sight of him and all the blood from her face drained. But instead of freezing in fear, as he thought she would, instead the witch lunged forward, grabbed Potter under the arms from where he lay on the floor in a daze, and dragged him back behind the couch, ducking out of sight.
"Hermione, my door!"
"Your door? Your door?" she shrieked hysterically. "Forget the bloody door! We need to get out of here!"
Voldemort raised his wand and repaired the door. And then went to sit down and wait for Potter to explain things. Though he wasn't sure how that would go as he hadn't really explained the reason for this visit.
"Tea is required, Potter," he announced before Granger managed to convince Potter to Apparate out of the apartment. Not that that would do them any good now that he'd put up an anti-Apparition up. "Now," he elaborated.
"Harry, what's going on?" she asked when Harry refused to leave.
"Apparently he wants tea," was the murmured reply.
"I'll assume you know how to make a decent cup?" Voldemort went on. There was silence. Figures. "Miss Granger… perhaps you are better at it than he is?"
"You do usually make my tea," Harry whispered.
"He said he hasn't come here to murder me!"
"And you believe him?"
"Honestly, I don't care. But you should leave."
"I'm not leaving you!"
"Check it out. He's got a face now… there's no snake scales," Harry quipped as he squirmed away from Hermione's tight embrace and moved into the kitchen.
"When this is over, I'm checking you into St. Mungo's psych ward!" she hissed at his back.
"He is taking my presence very well," Voldemort agreed with her. A head of bushy brown hair slowly came into view from the side, her brown eyes narrowed on him.
Harry walked into the kitchen in a sort of daze, certain his current state of mind reflected acute shock. All he could do at the moment was stand in the kitchen, place hands flat on the counter and stare unseeingly at the closed cupboard in front of him. Maybe he was crazy. Any sane person would be afraid right now. Anyone with a right mind would be trying to get as far away from Voldemort as possible. Especially someone who was marked for death by said Dark wizard. And yet he wasn't afraid and he didn't even want to run away. Why should he? If Voldemort had been able to find him in a relatively muggle neighborhood, when even the Order couldn't find him, then the Dark Lord would probably be able to find him anywhere. The only reason why he'd not been visited by Voldemort before was because he'd always been protected either by the Order or at Hogwarts. But now he didn't want that sort of protection, which meant this visitation should have been anticipated. Voldemort was right. He really was stupid. And then there was the other huge matter that had caused him lose fear… but that was a subject he tried not dwelling on unless absolutely necessary.
Voldemort sat back in his chair, ignored the girl watching him closely from behind the couch, and instead focused on the still wizard within the kitchen. The boy stood there staring at the cabinet door in front of him with a small frown on his face. His eyes were glassy in thought. Potter looked the same as he had in Diagon Alley, maybe a little more helpless though. If not helpless than more vulnerable than he had been walking down Diagon Alley. It was unlike any other time he'd come in contact with Potter. The young wizard look defeated but Voldemort was sure it had nothing to do with his presence.
"Tea, Potter." When the young wizard didn't move, Voldemort lifted his wand to Potter. "Crucio."
Voldemort's gaze drifted to Granger who'd quickly cast a shield around her friend before the Crucio could hit. Neither noticed the pain crossing Harry's face when Hermione's spell surrounded him. "I am not used to being ignored, Miss Granger. This civility I'm showing is quickly expiring."
The witch's scowl melted away to surprise and then comprehension. She bustled over to the kitchen and pushed Potter out of the way to begin making the tea. Voldemort chuckled darkly to himself and resettled back against the chair. Potter was shaken out of his daze by his friend, saw what she was doing, and removed himself from the kitchen to return to standing behind the couch.
"What ritual did you use this time to get your body back?" Harry blurted out.
"Potion. Severus, as you know, is a very accomplished Potioneer."
Potter looked surprised at the quick and easy reply. The boy flushed and rubbed the back of his neck. "Fucking Snape," he muttered. "You don't look much passed thirty. Not even that, actually. You look..." he trailed off and flushed an even darker red.
A slow smirk curled Voldemort's lips. "Why so focused on my looks, Potter?"
In the kitchen, Granger fumbled with the kettle as she stared at Potter's flushed neck incredulously. "No reason," he replied. "It's just a surprise…" Harry quickly dashed back into the kitchen. Leaving Voldemort alone to finally study the meager surroundings.
As was habit, Voldemort's lip curled into a sneer of disgust for the muggle quarters. But it suited someone like Potter. A young wizard barely passed the age of adult hood. Surprisingly tidy too. A long upholstered couch, two sitting chairs, and a coffee table in the living room. In the small kitchen sat a small round table. To his left was a bedroom he could see into from the open door. The bed was in clear view. Surprisingly that was big. The bedroom also looked tidy.
Finally the two returned and Granger set a tray down on the coffee table before taking a seat beside Potter. He raised a brow at Potter, who caught his look and sighed.
"This is all fucked up," he murmured, scooting forward to pour the darkest wizard alive a cup of tea and hand it to him. Serving the murderer of his parents fucking tea. "Why've you come here?"
"To invite you to my home."
"Is it a burrow?" Harry asked with a snicker. Voldemort's wand hand twitched.
Hermione dropped her spoon. "Harry!" she hissed.
Harry sobered and shook his head. "I've already said I will not join you."
"Have I asked you to join me, Potter?"
"I don't see why else you haven't killed me, if not for that. Why would you invite me to your home if not to try and recruit me?"
"My reasons are my own, Potter."
"I don't think so. You came to me. If you want me there, it can't be for anything good. Probably torture, yes?"
"I could do that here easily enough."
Harry blinked. That was true. "Look," he finally said, meeting red eyes that were more mesmerizing than scary. "I want nothing else to do with the war. I want to live in relative peace for as long as I have left. Is that so much to ask? I couldn't give a rat's arse about what happens to the Wizarding World without me. I think it's pathetic the way they lay all their hopes and dreams on one boy. Personally with the attitude they have, the wizarding world probably deserves to be defeated by you. Then maybe it would teach them to look out for themselves instead of looking to a little boy to do their dirty work for them. I just want to be left alone, Voldemort. I won't get in your way."
Voldemort had remained silent and still through this small declaration. He'd already known Potter had been thinking along those lines. The Dark Lord was more surprised to see Granger nodding her head along with him though. She froze, however, when noticing his gaze on her. "You'd let them be defeated even when you know who I'm after?" he asked without looking away from Miss Granger.
"It's not just muggleborns you're after. That's an excuse. You simply want power. And purebloods have a lot of that. What better way to garnish that power, have them side with you, then by praying on their own discriminations. Did you really start off hating muggleborns? I know who you were born to, Tom. I know where you grew up. We grew up similar I think… but I don't think your childhood made much of a difference in the way you've molded yourself. You are much too strong of a person for that. If not you wouldn't have the strength you have today… even if it is a bit misguided. Personally I think you should give up killing muggles and muggleborns and find something else to hate them for… stupidity for instance. Hermione has more talent in her little finger than all the wizards and witches in Wizarding Britain put together. You should be trying to recruit her, not trying to kill her. She could win this war for you single handedly."
"Have you gone insane?" Hermione hissed in his ear.
"You do so amuse me, Potter."
"I wasn't trying to be funny," Harry replied with a frown.
A small smile touched Voldemort's lips. "No, you weren't." He set his tea down and stood. "I'll be taking my leave. Think upon what I've said. The offer still stands."
"You haven't really said anything."
"Put healing salve on your wound now. Expect to hear from me soon, Potter." And with that Voldemort Apparated away.
There was a long moment of silence until Harry broke it. "That was strangely exhilarating."
Hermione shook her head. "Sometimes I worry about you. Truly."
Mione thought he was insane. It had been three days since the odd encounter with Voldemort. Three days in which Harry had thought of nothing else. Frankly Harry was happy with the distraction. What exactly had been Voldemort's purpose of being there anyway? Harry didn't believe for an instant Voldemort had turned over a new leaf. There were still Death Eater attacks going on every day. Though no senseless muggleborn killings and Harry wondered what that was about.
An annoying pain in his back pulled him from his musings. Harry's relatively light mood vanished as he stood from his sofa to go to the bathroom located off of his bedroom. The wound on his back seemed to be getting worse. No matter what he did, no matter what potions Hermione found for him or spells she researched... The curse he'd been hit with was a slow working one.
Shifting and pulling off his shirt to see part of the wound, Harry felt the despondency he always felt when looking upon it. He and Hermione hadn't come right out and spoken about it, but this curse would be the death of him. This festering wound was slowly poisoning his blood. Harry narrowed his eyes on the wound as he reached for the container of healing balm. This would be the second time today the cut needed to be covered in the pain relieving lotion. Usually it was only once a day. But the pain had been increasing the past few days, and Harry never said anything to Hermione about it. She'd been making it a point to leave work everyday in order to help him since the wound ran the length of his back where he couldn't reach certain areas. And if he told her the curse was expanding, she'd only worry more. Why do that when he knew the outcome? He wanted to save her as much grief as possible. Hermione believed a cure was out there somewhere, but they had both been researching for months and hadn't found anything. They didn't even know what spell had been used. And if Hermione couldn't find anything, Harry was sure no one would.
As he slathered the milky green substance onto the base of his spine where he could reach the gash, he figured this was one reason why Voldemort's visit hadn't sent him screaming in fear. Not that he would have ever done that anyway. But back to the point. He was dying. He was dead, really. Harry had nothing to lose. And he'd meant what he told Voldemort. All he wanted to do was live out the rest of his life in peace. And the visit had been… different.
Harry gritted his teeth. Yep, the pain was intensifying. Instead of being only where the wound was, it felt like fire was spreading throughout his back. He figured in a few weeks not even the balm would help with that. The Gryffindor paused in his ministrations when he heard a knock on the door. Hoping it was Hermione because he needed that balm on every inch of that wound now, he stopped what he was doing and hurried to the door and opened it.
"Oh, it's you."
Voldemort cocked an eyebrow at him. "Indeed," he drawled before sweeping passed the younger wizard. "Tell me, Potter. Do you always answer the door without being appropriately attired?" the dark wizard asked, eyeing the topless young man.
"Sure. Sometimes even in the nude," Harry snapped back. "Not that it's any of your business. If you want tea this time make it yourself," he ended as he walked by to return to his bedroom.
Voldemort eyed the eighteen year old's back as he departed and took immediate notice of the long gash, which had changed color and more than the immediate area was now inflamed. After a moment he followed after the impudent wizard, only to stop short at seeing Potter holding a container over his shoulder at the back of his neck and tipping it. "What are you doing?"
Potter gritted his teeth. "Can't cover the whole thing by myself, but I need it really badly."
"And you thought doing it this way would work? Did you hope it would miraculously fall upon the areas you needed it to cover?"
Harry rolled his eyes. "Oh I am not in the mood for this snarky business, Voldemort. Have you a better idea?"
The Dark Lord actually blinked in real surprise at the snarky jab. "Surely," he replied lowly and took the container before the brat could spill the lotion all over the floor. He then took the surprised wizard's arm and led him into the bedroom. "Lay."
Harry blinked stupidly at the dark wizard and was suddenly horrified when his mind instantly jumped into the gutter. But it wasn't his fault. This Voldemort wasn't half bad looking (that was a gross understatement) and the dark wizard's magic fairly wrapped him in a blanket. It was hard not feeling drunk off it.
"Lay on your stomach, Potter," the wizard drawled with ill concealed impatience.
"Mind not saying it like that!" Harry bit out in embarrassment. His body was being treacherous. He wished Hermione were there to slap some sense into him.
Voldemort then looked amused. "And how would you like me to say it? Potter," he purred, causing Harry's sharp green eyes to widen, "climb onto the bed and lay on your stomach for me like a good little boy… was that more to your liking?"
Harry scowled. "Whatever." He hurried to lay on his stomach before embarrassing himself further.
Without making a snide comment as Harry thought he would, Voldemort sat on the edge of the bed beside him and lifted the container of lotion to his nose. "And what exactly is this?"
"Hermione made it."
"Another way of saying you don't know."
"Hey! I know what it does at least."
"You are not convincing me of your intelligence," Voldemort countered as he scooped out some lotion and rubbed it onto his palms.
Harry rolled his eyes before burying his face in the pillow, trying to ignore the part of his mind that was screaming to him, telling him this was completely insane and weird. Just when he would have rolled away, caving in to the sane part of his mind, Voldemort touched him. The hands suddenly touching the top of his back were firm but not rough, and Volde- no, Tom. It would be Tom now because he couldn't call someone massaging lotion onto his back Voldemort. Tom must have warmed the lotion before applying it because it wasn't cold as he slathered it on and it felt too good for this situation to be alright.
The Dark Lord stared at the back of Potter's head as he gingerly applied the lotion to the horrid gash marring Potter's otherwise perfect back. Potter's hair was shorter then he remembered it being in the youth's fourth year. It was short but no less unruly. Black locks stuck up everywhere, as if it had been caught in a brisk wind. A storm that held no mercy. It was also darker than his own hair. Where his was a dark brown, Potter's hair was black like midnight, which did well to bring out the striking color of the young wizard's eyes. An arresting green Voldemort had never seen on another human being before.
He narrowed his eyes on the gash after a moment and his hands stilled. Now that he was touching it in his human form, he could feel the magic better. "This is a very dark spell."
Potter stiffened then which brought Voldemort's attention to the fact the youth had been relaxed under his ministrations. "Yeah, we've been over this… probably invented it yourself."
"Possibly," he replied seriously, leaning down to have a better look. "How did you receive this, Potter?" he asked after a moment.
Potter took some time before answering. "Course you know what happened. The Slytherins-" Harry cut off when his voice cracked. After a moment he cleared his voice and started over. "They were just kids. Like me. I don't care who their parents were, or what they may or may not have done in the future. They didn't deserve to be slaughtered like animals. And Theo… they took him out just to gain back control over me. They were afraid of his influence… but he was fucking neutral when it came to me!"
"The young Malfoy said you tried to save his friend."
"Should have been me who died. Not Theo..."
"You threw yourself in front of a dark curse," Voldemort surmised as he returned administering the salve. "Did you hear the incantation?"
"No. Mione and I have been trying to find out what it is but we haven't found anything… All I know is the pain is getting worse. And instead of once a day, now I have to put that shit on twice a day."
"Swearing is unnecessary, Potter."
"You know where the door is if you don't like it."
Harry sucked in a breath when a rough hand dropped to the curve of his hip, opposite side of where the gash was. That hand squeezed lightly as the other hand continued to rub in the lotion. Harry was fully expecting some sort of punishment for his cheek; but instead only received silence. And that was something that seemed worse than pain. Especially when that warm hand remained on his back where there was no need for it to be resting. Harry found he didn't quite mind it. Something is seriously wrong with me.
"So… a bunny?" Harry snickered against his arm when that hand twitched. "A cute black bunny?"
"I could cause you great injury right now, Potter."
"Nothing more that hasn't already been done," Harry murmured.
They lapsed into more silence and it lasted until Voldemort finished applying the lotion. The Dark Lord was pleased to see the inflammation receded slightly, though not all together. And once again, he found that Potter had fallen asleep in his presence.
Once he'd cleaned his hands, the Dark Lord whipped out his wand and muttered a few diagnostic incantations over the wound. He recognized some properties of the curse used and he was almost positive the curse was one he had created. By the time he was done with the diagnostics, one thing was clear. Potter was dying. And the boy probably knew it. Explained the ease with which Potter handled his presence this time around. The brat really had nothing to lose. Was Potter just going to lie there and take it?
The dark wizard supposed Potter had no choice. This curse was undocumented and the version he had created came with no cure. And once upon a time, he would have been ecstatic with the circumstances. But no longer. And now Voldemort inwardly seethed from knowing someone had tried to take this young powerful wizard's life and in such a slow painful way.
Potter shifted then, groaning in pain, and Voldemort realized the boy was feeling his rage through the link of the scar. The dark wizard turned and Apparated. He had a lot of work to do.
"Are you kidding me?" Harry yelled upon leaving his bedroom two mornings later and finding four unwelcome wizards in his living room. "Can't I be left alone to die in peace? What? Is this the new Death Eater hideout? What the hell, Tom? Might as well write a letter to the Order and give away my location! You brought Snape here! What the fuck?"
"Die?" Draco Malfoy inquired, raising a perfectly sculpted eyebrow.
Harry groaned. Draco's question made him realize he'd gone and spilled his secret without even meaning to. And then he'd gone and implicated Snape as being a double agent… though Harry wasn't too troubled for having done that. He hated Snape with a bloody passion.
"Are you quite finished?" Voldemort snapped. Harry sneered, turned right back into the bedroom, and slammed the door shut.
"Die? He's really dying?" Draco asked again.
"We did discuss this, son," Lucius Malfoy intoned.
"But- but I thought you were jesting. Potter can't die! He's a constant source of amusement for me!"
Voldemort turned to face the younger Malfoy. "Good to finally learn your true feelings on the Potter matter. Explains your inability to hand him over to me at every possible turn."
Draco paled and backed away, shifting so that he was partially hiding behind his father. As usual. "It's just… and he tried to save Theodore…"
"Did you see it?" Voldemort asked his Potions Master. Harry had of course left his bedroom without his shirt on again and Voldemort noticed the wound seemed worse than two days prior.
"I'd say a month at the least. He'll be feeling pain all over his body soon."
Harry flopped back onto the bed. At this rate the Order would find him. Not only had Tom brought Malfoy and Draco, but he'd also brought Snape… and Merlin! Hermione was due any moment. Just as he jumped off the bed, Voldemort entered the room.
"You four need to leave. Now. Hermione will be here any minute."
"I'm sure she would like to be included for what we plan to do," Voldemort drawled.
"Plan to kill me off faster?"
"Do you never shut up?"
"Potter's mouth has a tendency to go off on its own with very little prompting," Draco said from the doorway.
"Shut the hell up, Drake! No one asked you!"
Voldemort turned to the smirking blond. "Draco, return to the kitchen and make tea."
Harry snickered at the horrified look appearing on his friend's face and watched the young aristocrat go out, mumbling about doing plebeian work.
"I was unaware you two were friends."
"It was Theo's fault…"
"You said Granger was the only one you had left."
"I meant people who consider me friend. I'm not too sure Malfoy considers me a friend… anyway, will you please explain the sudden appearance of four Slytherins within my flat."
Voldemort approached until Harry had to tilt his head back to look into the older wizard's face. He didn't particularly mind Voldemort was so close… he could feel the other man's body heat. It was nice. "Did you want to die, Potter?"
"It was a joke. I'm not really dying," Harry murmured, turning away to go rummage in his dresser for a shirt.
Red eyes narrowed dangerously on the teen. "You are. Did you think I wouldn't notice what a curse of that magnitude could do to a person?"
"What does it matter, anyway?" Harry growled slamming the dresser drawer shut before pulling a dark blue shirt on. "You should be happy! I'm finally out of your hair… now that you have some."
"You also told me you were having nothing to do with the war anymore."
"And that's still true. So I don't understand why you're here!"
Outside in the living room, Severus and Lucius stood together, attentions on the slightly opened door, listening to every word. "Why are we here?" Lucius inquired.
"Saving the brat's life, I suppose. Again," Severus hissed under his breath.
Lucius frowned. "And I suppose this has something to do with why our Lord called a cease fire on Potter?"
"Your guess is as good as mine."
"Father, I don't want to make the tea! This is servants work!"
"And you are the Dark Lord's servant," Lucius hissed as he turned cold eyes to his spoiled son. "Do as you're told."
"Severus, Lucius. Let us begin," Voldemort announced from the open door.
"I'm not going to be an experiment!" Potter yelled from somewhere inside the room. The two elder Death Eaters watched their Lord look up and pinch the bridge of his nose before returning to the room.
"You'll do as I say, Potter!"
"I'm not one of your fucking boot licking Death Eat-"
Within the kitchen, Draco started to snicker and watched his father and godfather enter Harry's bedroom; Severus carrying with him the heavy black leather bag he'd been holding the entire time. A few minutes later, Draco was still in the kitchen staring defiantly at the teakettle and listening to the low murmuring coming from Harry's room when the door knob of the front door rattled and then began to turn. Moments later he was staring at the end of Granger's wand.
"Father," he whined loudly while standing still, knowing full well the mudblood would curse him in an instant should he move.
"What are you doing here, Malfoy? Where's Harry?"
Draco waved towards the bedroom. Instead of going off to the bedroom like he thought and hoped she would, Granger approached him until her wand pressed firmly into his chest. "Father!" he cried again.
"Still whining, Malfoy? Always expecting your father to come and save you. How typical."
"I'll have you know I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself. It just so happens my father is here. FATHER!"
Realization finally dawned on the usual quick thinking Gryffindor. "Stupefy!" she hissed and then turned away before Draco could even hit the floor and rushed to Harry's bedroom Throwing open the door, she took one look and started firing out curses. "Stupefy!" Hitting Lucius Malfoy in the back where he had been waving his wand over Harry's back in an intricate pattern. And then on to Snape who looked to be drawing Harry's blood. "Stup-"
"Silencio. Incarcerous," Voldemort drawled, watching with acute satisfaction as the witch went down, surrounded by thick tight ropes. "Severus, if you please."
The Potions Master scowled as he turned to retrieve Miss Granger from the floor and then unceremoniously dumped her into the nearby chair sitting beside the bedside table. Voldemort revived Lucius, whom sent a quelling sneer at the Gryffindor before the three Slytherins completely ignored her and continued on with the tests.
Hermione growled low in her throat, though no one could hear it, and had to watch the three wizards hover over her best friend. What were they doing to Harry?
"It's become worse within the span of minutes, my Lord," Severus murmured.
"Do you suppose it's the magic? The Stun perhaps? And the tests I'm running?" Lucius inquired.
"It is possible." Voldemort turned to the girl who looked both livid and terribly frightened for her friend. "Miss Granger, do you recall the wound becoming worse after Potter's kidnapping from the Order?"
Hermione waited until he lifted the Silencio spell. "It did," she bit out.
Voldemort's jaw tightened. "Seems we've all accelerated the deterioration. Severus, have you all the samples you need?"
"For the time being, yes."
"Return to the labs then and start working on it immediately."
"Very well, my Lord." Severus turned on the spot and Apparated away. Now that Snape no longer blocked her view of Harry, she was able to see that the gash was nearly black and there were blue veins creeping out from it to spread across the rest of his back.
"He needs the salve!" she cried. "He'll be in so much pain. Let me go!"
"Someone would have to be particularly vicious in order to cast a curse of this magnitude," Lucius said thoughtfully.
"Harry never saw who cast the curse."
Voldemort studied the girl, who only had eyes for the boy laying face down on the bed. Worry clear in her eyes. "You realize he's dying."
She nodded, biting back a sob. "Explains the recent bout of insanity," she said with a watery chuckle. "He thought he was keeping it from me. He's got a whole cabinet full of pepper-up potion in the bathroom…"
Voldemort turned to Lucius. "Start your research, Lucius. I'll join you soon."
"Of course, my Lord." Lucius bowed his head before striding out of the room, one last parting glare to the girl still bound in the chair. A moment later they heard Draco's whining voice.
"Father, that mudblood stunned me!"
"Cease the whining, Draco!"
Voldemort barely refrained from smirking. Both Malfoys being stunned by a mudblood. Must hurt the pride terribly.
"Are you trying to save him?" the witch inquired. "Why would you do that?" she went on without an answer.
Voldemort said nothing at first. Simply stood at the end of the bed, staring at Harry for a few moments before flicking a hand at her and the ropes fell away. "Put the salve on his back and make sure he comes into no contact with any more magic."
And with that said, the Dark Lord vanished from the flat. By this time Hermione was no longer worried that Voldemort was trying to kill Harry. It was apparent the leader of the Dark was trying to save him. No, what really bothered Hermione was the way Voldemort had been eyeing up her best friend.
A/N: Edited 10/5/2011