The Boy King Who Lived keeps his pet on a quite unnecessary chain.

Symbolic, really. A golden thread, a shining flimsy she could break with a yawn and a stretch were she so inclined. And he gets what he wants from her with Imperio, not because she rebels but because he can. Still, she kneels unclothed at his side, on a quite unnecessary chain, until told to position herself before him - in full view of his advisers - and pleasure him.

A nervous flicker across her eyes at that moment might betray her, but she keeps her eyes dull and gaze downward, and slips gracefully in front of him to open his robes, eyelids fluttering as her lips part to accept him. She does not suck him like a whore; her movements are careful, gentle, even affectionate, the only defense she has. The small sounds coming from her throat would devastate the world economy if they could be paid for.

And he will continue his conversation or council as if a lithe young woman were not fellating him as if her very life depended upon it, his gaze hard and cool. His advisers invariably break first.

There is the smallest tightening of his face when he comes. Not enough to be construed as any kind of weakness - the Forbidden Forest is strewn with the dangling bones of those who fancied themselves assassins of opportunity. And if his advisers have not made their point by that time, he declares the meeting over, wraps his pet's chain around his left hand - his wand is always in his right - and, walking and crawling alike, the two of them vanish into his private chambers, those that once belonged to old Albus himself.

His advisers always mutter nervously after he's left. Despite the few who believe that he was driven hopelessly mad and corrupted beyond redemption by his final conflict, most remain convinced that his soul was destroyed, his body inhabited by the Dark Lord, his childhood sweetheart broken on a rack of incantation and loss and now kept as an amusing reminder of the totality of victory.

Neither view withstands scrutiny beyond his inscrutable door.

Her pace quickens as she crawls to the bed, rolling onto her back and opening her arms for him. His robes drop to the floor more loudly than one would expect, and he falls into her, almost choking back a sob at her beauty, and then they kiss forever.

Her hips rise as he penetrates her. She's wet for him - has been wet for him since he orgasmed, since he cast the Imperio and made her crawl before the others, since he put the chain around her throat that morning, since they were twelve.

They whisper endearments as their bodies fall into an easy yet insistent rhythm. His hands pin her forearms to the bed, and she struggles without effect, although not without hope.

And after they scream together, after their limbs uncoil, as the sweat cools on their skins, she cradles him to her breast, stroking his hair just above the scar as he cries himself to sleep, and reflects on the horrible chance they take every single day.

They would tear him apart like wolverines, were they not so afraid of him. Even more savagely, if they knew where he was leading them.

When he discovered that he was somebody, indeed a very important somebody, the newness and wonder of the Wizarding World overwhelmed him every minute of every day. But, as he grew to live in that world, he saw more and more the futility of it. All that power, passion, creativity, magic - wasted. Squandered on pettiness and spite and stupid games of one-upsmanship, not even for power's sake but for show, like dozens of peacocks all preening at once. No grand feats of heroics or creation or destruction, no epic quests for the hearts of men or the souls of monsters or the treasures of empire... just juvenile anger, unrestrained violence, and - paradoxically - hiding from the poor, naive Muggles, who lived with magic every day but never saw it.

Stagnation, heading towards extinction.

And Harry could not bear the thought that all he had done, all his friends and allies had done, all they had lost, would be for nothing.

So this is their great secret: He is still the same - harder, perhaps, deadlier of a certainty. But still the very same lad who slept under a cupboard and misses his parents and weeps in the night for his lost godfather and doesn't want to see anyone else hurt or killed on account of him.

As far as his minions are concerned, he is indeed a Dark Lord. Cruel, dangerous, mercurial, and most of all heartless. After all, no matter who he is, Potter or Voldemort, he slew his only rival. And Hermione Granger is a shattered thing at his feet.

She is, of course, his most important adviser, and the one least noticed. The others have long gotten used to her showing no reaction, no change of expression or attitude or posture or anything, at whatever they say in her presence. She has become a background fixture to them, furniture, oddment, decoration. They believe he has destroyed her mind, when she's merely a good actress.

The greatest improvisation of all time, above a valley of razors.

He plays at evil, you see. Ordering secret executions which don't actually take place, the victims spirited to Durmstrang or Beauxbaton. Exiling dozens at a time to Azkaban, where no one knows what Snape and Lupin are really doing. Training his new generation of protectors and healers and teachers. Keeping his known enemies too busy to stop his real work.

And she plays at submission. Except it's not play at all.

The boldest thing she ever did was done in secret, years ago, when she came to his bed and knelt before him, offering herself to him, because she would never love another and if he would not have her she was lost. And the boldest thing he ever did was to accept.

That was only the start. Not long after that, they had a spat about something, a silly quarrel, a trifle. But she made to leave and he grabbed her arm and said Don't go - stay and she glared defiantly and said Make me, and he shoved her against the wall and sealed his mouth against hers and fucked her right there with all their clothes on, and after she pouted You don't own me and he snapped I think I do, and he tied his school uniform tie around her neck as a leash, set her face-down over the side of the bed, raised her skirt, and took her from behind, slowly and very deliberately, and she cried and tightened around him and ripped the coverlet with her fingernails and left his tie around her throat for two whole days, finally coming to his room once more, crawling to where he sat and placing the loose end in his hand.

The first time he slipped his hand under her robes in Potions Class, she came, very quietly. Snape still knew; besides the scent of arousal which must have permeated the room, she didn't have her hand raised for two questions. He looked probingly at her, and then disapprovingly at him... but didn't say anything. Maybe he was too surprised and bemused by the thought of Harry being a man, or something.

And so things might've gone on, except for the War.

When the final conflict approached, they plotted for long hours every night about how they would make the world better if they could, how they would enjoy life without the constant threat of savage murder by a mad and discorporate wizard, how they would avenge each other and then commit suicide if things went for the worst.

And, when she and he were trapped together, their foe laughing over the steaming corpse of their best friend, they both saw the desperate chance to harness the darkness in their hearts and to make their mad scheme work, if only they survived.

So now, to rebuild the world, to gradually fool both Wizard and Muggle into reaching beyond the fear and darkness, they pretend to be dark master and broken slave. In private, their love is a glowing thing, pleasing to whatever gods might care to look.

But, even in private, he uses Imperio, not because she rebels but because he can.

And she wears the quite unnecessary chain.