New Divide or Butterfly will be after this, I promise! Grins and hugs you all cause it's the New Year… fuck off 2010. You sucked!
Disclaimer: Harry Potter is property of JK Rowling, Bloomsbury, Warner Bros, et all. I make no money from this and I own nothing, so don't sue. Inspired by "Maddening", by Rai-Channi (.net/u/1706865/Rai_channi)
Summary: [LV/HP] Voldemort has never lied to him before. Why would he start now? Harry reasoned that if Voldemort wasn't lying and Voldemort really loved him, then it was ok to love him back… Even if it meant the world had to burn. First they broke the world. Then he broke my heart.
Warnings: Slash. Manipulation (kinda). LV/HP. Violence. Char Death. AU from OotP. Non-con het. Draco deserves a warning of his own.
A/N: Stress cardiomyopathy is the medical name for 'broken heart syndrome'.
Chapter 1 of 1
The echo of his name rang out behind him. Harry ignored them, and kept running. Their desperate shouts were nothing to him, their worry, their fear. None of it could touch him now. His heart hammered in his chest, his fingers clenched tight around the handle of his wand as he held it out in front of him. There was a kind of desperation within him now, more potent than what Remus was feeling, what any of them could feel. They didn't understand. There was anger inside of him, pain and rage, and horror. Sirius was gone.
She had killed him.
Harry ran, down corridors and through doors. He could hear her just ahead of him, just out of reach: mocking him.
"Come out Harry Potter," she cackled, half mad. "I thought you were here to avenge my dear cousin!"
The need for revenge burnt strong in his chest, and he breathed heavily as he called out to the darkness. "I am!" It echoed through the corridor, growing fainter and fainter until he couldn't hear it. Instead, he heard her laughing.
"Did you love him, little baby Potter?" She jeered, mocking him in her baby voice.
Harry ground his teeth together, hatred rising inside of him like a phoenix, fast, and furious and magnificent. He ran the last stretch of the corridor, sliding into the room Bellatrix must have entered.
"Crucio!" He screamed, wand sparking red.
But there was no one in the room.
Harry turned in a full circle, wand stretched out at chest level, but he couldn't see anyone. "Come out you coward!" He roared, face flushing in anger. "Come out and fight me! I'm going to kill you!"
There was a soft rustling noise, like cloth being dragged across the ground. Harry swivelled in that direction, eyes narrowed behind ugly round glasses. A soft voice hissed from the darkness, "why would you want to hurt me, Harry love?" It whispered, sibilant but inviting, and Harry found himself taking an involuntary step forward.
"You aren't Bellatrix," the boy said firmly. He raised his head, looking suspiciously at the dark corner the voice had come from. Eyes widened, mouth opened and the wand he held unceremoniously clattered to the floor, as Harry scrambled backwards, almost tripping.
The Dark Lord slid from the shadows. He was tall by the average standard, but not inhumanly so, and long, thin fingers stretched out towards Harry. Dark red eyes, the colour of drying blood, watched curiously as Harry scrambled for his wand, before raising it to point at Voldemort's pale face. Thin pink lips stretched into a line, un-amused at being threatened, but other than that he did not react.
"Why would you want to hurt me?" Voldemort whispered, almost floating across the ground towards Harry. He was wandless, and when he was before the teenager he reached out, cupping the boy's cheek lightly. "Don't you know that I'd never hurt you?"
Harry pulled away from the hand, using his wand to shove Voldemort's arm away. "Don't touch me!" He shouted.
His forehead was creased and his green eyes were narrowed, and Voldemort watched as the thoughts practically wrote themselves across the boy's tanned face. He was so easy to read, so easy to manipulate. Before Harry could speak again, Voldemort continued talking, reaching out for the child again. "Why are you fighting me, Harry love?"
"You tried to kill me!" Harry shrieked, taking more hurried steps backwards. Voldemort followed him. "You killed Cedric and Sirius and-" Harry stopped speaking as his back hit the wall. Voldemort stood before him, close enough that Harry could feel his breath on his face.
"My Death Eaters killed them. I did not make them, I did not aim my wand, and I did not utter the curses." His hand was cold as it pressed against Harry's cheek again. Voldemort splayed his fingers, stroking against Harry's blushing skin, and the boy tried to turn his head away but Voldemort's other hand came up, holding him in place. "The prophecy said that I must kill you, Harry. But that was before I knew the truth. I had only ever heard half of the prophecy, and the one that was destroyed just now is false, love. There is another prophecy, a stronger one! If I had known," he broke off, his voice quiet. "I would never have hurt you."
Harry wasn't sure what to think or do. Voldemort had never lied to him before, at least not in person. When they were after the Philosopher's Stone, he had spoken the truth. He hadn't lied in the Chamber of Secrets either, nor in the graveyard in Little Hangleton. The image Tom Riddle had shown him in the diary might have been a lie, but it was a lie aimed at Dumbledore. It had still happened, just as Harry had been shown. Harry had only asked to be shown what happened, he never asked if it was truth.
But if there had been a prophecy, two in fact, wouldn't someone have told him? No, he realised. No one had told him about the destroyed prophecy either. Voldemort had shown him images, dreams, had tried to motivate Harry into stealing the prophecy for himself. He had never outright told Harry that there was a prophecy. But at least it was something. Dumbledore had done nothing to help him that year, nothing to prevent Sirius' death, or Harry's loneliness or his confusion.
"Why were you sending me the visions?" Harry asked quietly, gazing down at his wand hand, and the wand that hung limply from his shaking fingers.
"I had assumed that you understood our connection," Voldemort told him. One hand moved to press against Harry's scar, and the child was surprised to notice for the first time since he had encountered Voldemort that his scar didn't hurt. "I can see your dreams, and you can see mine." Harry had tensed up, back stiff and head held high, though his bottom lips trembled. His dreams had not been pleasant that summer. "I wished to speak with you, but you never replied."
"I can reply?" He asked, still standing stiffly.
"Yes. We belong together, you know, so it is only right that our minds are as compatible as our souls." That was a lie. But Harry didn't know that. Voldemort wasn't sure why he could see Harry's dreams or hear Harry's thoughts; it was something that he would have to research further about, but for the time being he was content to mislead the boy into thinking that they were… soul mates. "I thought if you came searching for the false prophecy, for Albus must have told you it existed, that I could wait for you, and speak with you, and make you understand."
Harry tilted his head to one side, cute and considering. Voldemort waited patiently, fighting back the overwhelming sense of smugness that rose up within him. He was going to win, he thought. Harry was going to believe him.
It was true that Voldemort had seen Harry's dreams. He had seen into the very depths of the boy's heart since his resurrection. That summer, that school year, Harry had dreamt horrible dreams of loneliness and anguish and heartbreak. The boy was alone, Voldemort had realised after witnessing one particular dream in which everyone Harry had ever cared for turned their back on him. Harry was alone in a way that Tom Riddle had been: constantly surrounded by people, but always lonely. It didn't matter how often Tom told himself he didn't need anyone, that he didn't want anyone, the jealousy was always there simmering beneath his skin as he watched other friends' interact. He had no one like that, no one to talk to or trust or care for, except Nagini. And Harry had no one; Sirius was dead and his other friends were just children, easy to anger, quick to resent, his professors didn't care enough about him to take him from the family that abused him, his headmaster, his mentor, spent the year ignoring him. They were so alike, in ways, Voldemort had realised, and in others so different. Harry was naïve. Too innocent and sheltered and so willing to believe in the good in everyone. Tom had learnt differently. No one was inherently good. No one was completely evil. There was only power and those too weak to seek it.
Voldemort was not weak, he refused to be weak. He was willing to utilise every opportunity, every chance available no matter how abhorrent, in order to attain his goals, in order to be powerful. Whether Harry liked it or not, he was now a part of Voldemort's plan. With Harry's help, the Dark Lord would take the Wizarding World with ease.
"That I love you," he breathed, lips pressing lightly against Harry's unresponsive ones.
Harry stood still, unable to comprehend what was happening. Soft lips moved lightly against his own, a tongue flicked out to trace the seam of Harry's mouth. Harry parted his lips without conscious thought, and Voldemort pressed his tongue inside, brushing over Harry's teeth and tongue, tasting, devouring. A moan escaped his throat, and even as his arms hung limply by his sides, Harry arched up into Voldemort's kiss.
It was different to Cho's kiss. Voldemort wasn't crying, and Harry wasn't expected to be in control, but both had been unexpected, unwanted. Yet Harry hadn't pushed either away. And Voldemort's lips felt better against his mouth than Cho's did.
When Voldemort pulled back, gazing down at Harry with slit-pupilled red eyes, Harry couldn't repress a shiver. His mouth stayed open, lips wet and swollen, and his glasses were sitting askew on his nose, but he didn't fix them. He stared up at Voldemort. He didn't know if he should move, or talk, or wipe the saliva off his mouth, so instead he stayed still and waited for Voldemort to react first.
Long fingers pushed his glasses back up his nose, and Voldemort looked rather amused as Harry blinked at him in thanks. "There," the Dark Lord said, "now you look at least half way presentable."
Harry hastily rubbed at his mouth then, wiping it on the back of his sleeve, before looking up at Voldemort as if for approval. But that was a ridiculous thought: why would Harry crave Voldemort's approval, of all people?
"You love me?" He whispered voice heart breakingly small.
Voldemort paused, watching the boy curiously. Was it so easy to win Harry Potter over? Offer him false saccharine words of affection, brief moments of physical regard, and Harry offered himself up wholly. So innocent, so trusting, Voldemort thought again. It was a novelty to be believed so completely by another human being: even his Death Eaters believed that he lied at times, knew that he was untruthful but were too afraid to question him. But Harry, Harry appeared to trust him completely. The boy had even leant closer, hands against Voldemort's chest as he waited for confirmation, or rejection, and the Dark Lord could actually hear that boy's heart beating fast in anticipation.
"Yes," he lied, "I love you."
Green eyes were bright and wide as Voldemort met them again. He felt no remorse, there was no voice in his head whispering about how what he was doing was wrong, but in his chest and in his stomach tension coiled, hope unfurled, and the world was that much closer to being his for the taking.
"Oh," Harry whispered. Then he stepped back, unable to reciprocate. He could lie, he thought, to make Voldemort feel better, less rejected. But Voldemort wasn't lying to him, he reminded himself, and he should be kind enough to return the favour. "Ok then," he said instead, voice shaking.
Voices and the sounds of running footsteps interrupted Voldemort's thoughts. He had been thinking about how pretty Harry was when he was deep in thought, face relaxed and mouth parted slightly, eyes half-lidded as he contemplated. He was thinking about how he would like to kiss Harry again, to press their lips together, harder and deeper this time, and to draw the boy into his arms and hold on tightly. Voldemort had thought to himself that this plan would be less abhorrent than he had first assumed, even as he reached out to tuck a strand of Harry's hair behind his ear.
The sounds of other people came closer, and Voldemort took five steps back allowing his hand to leave Harry's face.
"You should go. Leave, before they find you with me."
"You're letting me go?" Harry was suspicious, Voldemort didn't need to be a genius to realise that. "Why?"
"Why do you still think that I'd want to hurt you? I'd never hurt you, Harry love," the Dark Lord breathed, pink lips turning down as he frowned.
Harry flinched, his chest hurting as Voldemort looked at him in hurt and disappointment. He shouldn't care how Voldemort felt, he realised. Just because Voldemort loved him didn't mean that Harry had to pander to his emotions too. That wasn't how it worked! Harry clenched his hands at his side, nails digging into soft palms until Voldemort could smell the blood welling under the surface, ready to burst through skin. "Sorry," Harry said as the elder man reached out to grab his hands.
"Don't hurt yourself. It's ok." A soft smile touched Voldemort's lips, and the Dark Lord's face hurt from the unfamiliar expression. But it did its job, and Harry relaxed, smiling back at him. "It's natural that you wouldn't trust me, after all I've put you through. But I am sorry. And you really should go; it would only cause unnecessary trouble for you if they see us together. Unless you wish for us to duel? Just so that they could watch?" Voldemort hoped he would say yes, hoped that he would have an excuse to hurt the boy who had destroyed his body and left him a wandering spirit for thirteen years. Harry would understand that he had been playing a role, upholding his position as the Dark Lord, Harry would forgive the pain and never know of the pleasure Voldemort took from it. The plan would still go ahead. "I'd have to hurt you," he added, trying to sound unwilling.
"No. It's ok," Harry said smiling. "You don't have to do anything that would upset you or anything." Voldemort frowned again, unsure what Harry meant. "I wouldn't want to hurt anyone I cared about, even if it was just pretend. I think that would be even crueller, don't you agree? Hurting someone as part of a game, you know?"
Voldemort gave a slow nod. He had a notion of where Harry was coming from, and of course Harry didn't realize that Voldemort would take great pleasure in his pain and feel no guilt from it, but as Harry turned around and began walking towards his friends, Voldemort couldn't supress the tiny sense of relief he felt.
He wouldn't have to hurt Potter, he thought.
Nor would he have to look at him.
Which was more disappointing, Voldemort didn't know.
Petunia noticed them first. She scowled at Harry, sneered out of the window while peeking between the curtains, but she never once moved to open the door when the bell rung. Harry wasn't allowed to answer the door either, even though that was usually his job. He usually opened the doors for guests, took their coats and bags, and once or twice he was made to open the car doors for them or the garden gate too. He watched Petunia with a frown; the doorbell continued to chime.
"It's his kind," Petunia told her husband softly.
Vernon's face scrunched up and turned a dark purple colour. His fists shook from anger and he turned to glare at his nephew. "I told you, boy! Those freaks aren't allowed here!" He moved towards Harry, who was hovering at the sink, and grabbed him by the shoulder. "Make them leave, boy," he shouted, shoving Harry towards the door.
"Ignore them," Petunia said, reaching out to pull Harry back into the kitchen. "They'll go away. They went away last week, and the week before, and before that when I ignored them." The doorbell stopped ringing.
"They were here before?" Harry asked. He moved towards the window, following his aunt, and peeked through the gap in the curtains. He pulled back with a gasp, his back pressed against the wall as he hoped the two Wizards hadn't seen him. They had been walking away, but Lucius Malfoy had turned his face back to glare at the house. "They're Death Eaters!" Harry hissed, his heart racing. "What do they want?"
"They leave things," Petunia said with a shrug. "I put them in the cupboard under the stairs, with the rest of your freakish stuff."
Vernon sputtered angrily, face turning a darker shade of purple and his nostrils flared as he begun to breathe heavily. Before he could speak, Harry dashed from the room. He stopped at the front door and took a deep breath.
The door slid inwards, noiselessly, and Harry took two steps forward until he was standing on the front porch. A small box sat innocently on the ground, wrapped in emerald green paper. A small silver sticker was attached to the top of the box and the words 'to Harry love' scrolled across the label over and over in a continuous loop. Harry didn't have a wand, and even if he did he wouldn't have been allowed to use it outside of School, but he was wary of picking up the box barehanded. The last item he had touched from Voldemort had been a Portkey. His aunt hadn't been kidnapped while touching the other items, but Hermione had once mentioned that there was a way to key a certain person's signature to the Portkey. What if it would only activate when Harry touched it?
Harry didn't get a chance to find out.
Piers Polkiss and Dudley came running through the gate. They brushed past him, knocking him to the ground as they entered the house. But Dudley stopped and glanced back at his cousin. "What you got there, freak?" He asked snidely, reaching out to snatch the box. He ripped off the paper, allowing it to drop carelessly to the floor, forgotten.
Harry watched, angry and curious in equal parts, as Dudley opened his gift.
The fatter teenager scowled and threw the box at Harry's head. "What kind of trash is this?" He shouted, waving the book in his cousin's face. "Who sent you a book with nothing in it, freak? Or is it a diary? Aww, does the freak want to write about his nightmares and about how much he misses his mummy and daddy and his boyfriend Cedric?" Dudley made kissing noises, and behind him, his friend joined in.
Harry watched them both, a frown on his face. He ignored the words, he'd grown pretty much used to them, but he wanted his diary back. Doubtlessly Voldemort had sent him something magical, and Harry needed to get it away from Dudley before the Muggle realised this.
It turned out not to be too difficult. Petunia announced that dinner was ready rather loudly, and Dudley eagerly ran towards the kitchen, pounding feet making the floor shake lightly. The diary was chucked to Piers as Dudley passed him. Harry stood up from the floor, brushing himself off and gathering the abandoned box and wrapping paper off of the ground. He turned around once he had closed the front door, expecting a confrontation with Piers, but apparently Piers had been invited for dinner too and had thrown the diary onto the staircase. Harry reached for it, pausing on his way to the bin to gaze longingly at the cupboard under the stairs that hid his other gifts from Voldemort, and then continued into the kitchen.
"What are you doing, boy?" Vernon asked, though it was quite obvious that Harry was putting rubbish into the bin.
"I'm going to my room, to be quiet, and pretend that I don't exist," Harry told him, knowing it was the answer that all of the Dursleys wanted to hear. Vernon gave a stiff nod and went back to his food.
Strangely, Petunia followed him out of the kitchen. She unlocked the cupboard door and hurriedly gathered the other three gifts and shoved them into Harry's waiting arms. "Don't leave your room for the rest of the week, boy. You're grounded."
Harry didn't argue with her. She was being uncommonly kind by allowing him to have his gifts, and even kinder by not punishing him back when they first started being delivered, so a half-week of being grounded wasn't too bad in Harry's opinion. He could still sneak to the bathroom and they'd give him food through his catflap and he wouldn't be made to weed the garden in the July heat. All in all, this week was looking to be the best one of the summer.
It hadn't taken Harry long to figure out that the diary worked in the same way as Tom Riddle's one from his second year. Except this time, the diary wasn't writing back. Lord Voldemort was. His earlier gifts were books and clothes and tinned food, which Harry appreciated far more than the other three gifts combined. Voldemort had since sent him a few others, one for every week that Harry would spent at Privet Drive, but Petunia hadn't let him have those ones.
The diary was shaking slightly, pages trembling as if someone was blowing on them. Harry glanced away from his Potions essay, the last of his summer homework, and towards the book. Voldemort was writing to him, Harry mused as he made his way from desk to bed and picked the diary up. Voldemort was probably still trying to convince Harry to meet with him in London before he was sent to The Burrow for the last two weeks of the holiday.
Harry love, why are you ignoring me? The entry began. Harry skimmed the rest of it, glancing twice at certain parts to make sure he had read them correctly, before flipping the page and continuing to speed-read.
Four pages of the diary were taken up by Voldemort's letter, the majority of which were declarations of love and remorse for the way in which Harry had suffered at his hands. A few sentences had been dedicated to Voldemort's intense dislike towards the Dursleys and Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix in general, and slightly more sentences concerned Voldemort's hurt at Harry's perceived slight. The lack of response to his gifts, whether thanks or the return of said gifts, was apparently rather offensive to the Dark Lord. He had demanded in bold, cursive writing that Harry meet his next gift with words of thanks to the Death Eaters acting in lieu of the postman.
Please meet with me? I swear on my magic that no harm will come to you while you are with me. You know I would never let anyone hurt you, Harry love, and so I don't understand why you will not even consider seeing me in person. Did I harm you at the Ministry? Voldemort questioned, the cursive writing turning jagged and angry. Unless you did not like my kisses? I shall refrain from touching you again in a manner you find disgusting if that is the case. Harry love… I find that I miss you.
Harry knew he could write back. He had first tested the diary by spilling ink on to one of its pages. The ink had been absorbed, and Voldemort had immediately wrote back to scold him for being so wasteful. Harry hadn't written back since, not sure what to say and unsure whether he should even want to write back. Honestly, he thought sometimes that he should give the diary to Dumbledore, but the Headmaster would probably use it to trick Voldemort and kill him. Killing him would be ok. But using his love for Harry to trick him, to hurt him, it just didn't seem fair.
There were scarce times though when Harry found himself picking up a quill and wanting to write. But he didn't know what to say. He couldn't say 'I love you' because he didn't, and he couldn't say 'I miss you', because how do you miss something you've never had? Something you didn't even want? He supposed he could say something about how pointless the war was and how abhorrent all the killing was, but he didn't want to make Voldemort angry. He didn't want to talk about his relatives, even though he agreed that they were the worst sort of Muggles in existence, as Voldemort had insisted they were. There was nothing else to say really.
He flipped the diary closed. Taking his seat at the single-wide desk again, Harry immersed himself in his potions homework. Voldemort wouldn't try to contact him again for at least a day.
Harry waited nervously outside of The Leaky Cauldron. This was where he had agreed to meet Voldemort, but the man still hadn't arrived. Harry didn't want to go inside in case he was recognized, because then there'd be no way he'd be able to sneak away unnoticed with the Dark Lord, but he didn't feel comfortable hovering in a doorway like he was. He felt like a beggar, or a whore, and the only plus side to the situation was that it was warm and dry outside.
He was going to the Weasley's house that night, being snuck away under the cover of darkness in the hopes that no one would notice. 'No one' being the Dark Lord. Harry had snorted as he read Hermione's letter, informing him of this master plan. Voldemort already knew what day he was leaving and to where. The Dark Lord had been pleading and demanding that Harry meet with him since early June, and now, mid-August, Harry had finally caved in.
You leave in two days, Voldemort had pointed out. Tomorrow will be my last chance to see you for a year. I doubt you'll even read my letters once you're back at Hogwarts, will you?
Harry had imagined his face then, sad and pale with turned down lips and slitted red eyes, perhaps watering with tears. His heart had clenched painfully at that notion. Voldemort had been nothing but kind to him that summer. He was the only one who wrote to him, or really spoke to him as the Dursleys shouts and orders didn't really count. Hermione had only written once, informing him of his imminent collection, and Remus had apparently absconded somewhere after the death of Sirius. Ron was too busy celebrating being Prefect, even though it was only by default since Harry had rejected the position and Dumbledore's letter, to talk to his best friend. Voldemort, Harry had realised, was all he had that summer. And the summer was about to end, and Harry was likely all Voldemort had either otherwise the elder man wouldn't have put so much effort into trying to gain Harry's attention.
Harry had picked up his quill, hesitantly pressing the wet tip of it to the page. Tomorrow?
Voldemort hadn't answered him. Harry supposed he was probably too shocked. Almost three months of trying, and he had finally succeeded in getting Harry to meet with him. Harry woke the next morning, the day before his departure, expecting to have to sneak away from Privet Drive to see Voldemort, or to pretend last night's conversation never happened, depending on Voldemort's response. The diary was shaking when Harry approached it, dressed in his pyjamas.
Tomorrow, Voldemort had corrected. Outside of The Leaky Cauldron. Wait for me, Harry love.
So Harry had waited one more night, and now here he was, still waiting on Lord Voldemort.
"You really came," Voldemort breathed, sliding up against him. To a passing observer they would have looked like a loving couple, having been reunited after months apart, as Voldemort pulled Harry into his arms and pressed his lips to his dark hair. Harry stood stiffly in the circle of Voldemort's arms, his face against the taller man's shoulder. "I didn't think you would have, you know. But I'm glad you came, Harry love."
"Hello Tom," Harry whispered. He didn't know what else to say or what to do, so he held still and allowed Lord Voldemort to sniff his hair as they stood pressed close together in the middle of Muggle London.
Voldemort had watched the boy through the window of the grimy pub. With as many glamour charms and notice-me-not charms as he had applied to himself, no one had even realised he was there, and Voldemort had remained unobtrusive and ignored as he spied on Harry Potter. He really hadn't thought the boy would come. Or at least alone. He had watched out for Order members, or hidden friends, or even those pathetic Muggles the boy lived with, but it was just Harry.
"Come on," Voldemort breathed, trying his hardest to look like he was pleased to see the boy. "I have our date all planned out."
"It's not a date," Harry interrupted, but Voldemort ignored him and continued to lay out their plans for the day. It wasn't that Voldemort wanted it to be a date, but that Harry didn't not want it to be a date that was the problem in the boy's mind. He should have shuddered in disgust at the word, at the thought of dating the Dark Lord, but he hadn't. He had just pointed out the fact that he hadn't been asked on a date, and so this wasn't a date. Not that Harry would have gone on a date with Voldemort even if he were asked. After all, Voldemort was the one in love with him. Not the other way around, Harry reminded himself. He didn't have to be here.
He was here just because he was kind and didn't want to cause Voldemort unnecessary suffering… even though the man had killed his parents and Cedric and been responsible for Sirius' death and so many other people were hurt by his hand, including Harry himself, and yet. Yet, when Voldemort took Harry's hand in his, entwining their fingers together, and begun leading him away from any possible help he might have screamed for, Harry went willingly. Because deep down, Harry knew he wanted to be there.
The 16-year-old wasn't sure when it had happened. It must have been over the course of the year, he supposed, because when else could it have happened? It wasn't like he had been in love with Voldemort all along and had only just realised it, because that was ridiculous and impossible. Harry hadn't hated Voldemort before the incident in the Ministry, but he had certainly disliked and feared him. He hadn't been in love with Voldemort then.
But he was now.
His sixth year had seemed to fly by, and contrary to Voldemort's belief Harry had continued to read the man's letters. And he had even replied when he found the time in between Quidditch practises and essays and exam revision and evading Dumbledore. The more he spoke with Voldemort, the more he grew to like him, and miss him, and then love him.
World-altering events were unfolding in front of him. Harry watched it all in silence, unmoving.
Loving someone meant you had to make sacrifices for them sometimes, and this was his. He was forcing himself to not interfere, because Voldemort had asked him not to, and Harry trusted him.
"Avada Kedavra," the voice hissed. A jet of green light shot from Snape's wand, hitting Dumbledore squarely in the chest. The man toppled backwards, out of the window of the Astronomy Tower where Harry had brought him minutes ago after finding him collapsed on the Hogwarts grounds. It was where Dumbledore had asked to be taken, and it was where Dumbledore had asked Draco Malfoy if he was really able to kill, and it was where Dumbledore had died while Harry watched in silence.
Harry stepped out of the shadows, green eyes fixed on Snape's pale face.
"So you are a Death Eater," Harry muttered, with narrowed eyes. "Told you so," he whispered, leaning out of the window to stare down at the Headmaster's corpse.
It wasn't that he hated Dumbledore. Harry didn't hate anyone, really. He didn't trust Dumbledore, and he trusted and loved Tom, so while he liked the old man well enough at times, Harry believed that what he had allowed to happen was for the best. It didn't matter that his heart ached as Dumbledore pleaded for his life, and it didn't matter that both Malfoy and Snape looked like they were about to cry. Voldemort had said it needed to happen. Voldemort had said it was the right thing to do, to let it happen. And Harry trusted Voldemort with his heart and his life, and with the fate of the Wizarding World.
Snape had tried to frighten Harry away, attacking him at one point. But the teenager steadfastly refused to go away. He had chased Malfoy and Snape to the edge of the wards, and to those watching with tears in their eyes it looked as if Harry was planning on attacking them. But when Snape met up with the other Death Eaters, the only one Harry attacked was Bellatrix. Just as they were about to apparate away, Bellatrix had opened her mouth and giggled, "Look, it's itty bitty baby Potter. Come to avenge your godfather, 'ave you?"
Harry had originally planned to grab onto Snape's arm. But now, as some of them began turning on their heels and disappearing with loud 'cracks', Harry launched himself forward, tackling Bellatrix Lestrange to the ground. He managed to punch her once in the face before she threw him off of her. With teeth bared, she stalked towards where he lay sprawled on the ground, shaking with rage and adrenalin and fear. Before she could reach him, Snape was there, standing between them with his wand outstretched.
"Remember what the Dark Lord said!" He warned. Harry didn't know what Voldemort had told them, and he didn't care either, but he knew Snape was about to leave him behind. If he couldn't be responsible for Bellatrix's torture and subsequent death, then the least he would do is go and see the man who loved him. Snape turned on his heel, waiting first until Bellatrix had left, and he disappeared too. He reappeared in a cold room, filled with Death Eaters trembling before the Dark Lord, with Harry Potter clinging to the sleeve of his robe.
Snape looked horrified; he even tried to shove Harry behind him out of sight. Bellatrix was cackling loudly, the hood of her cloak was down and her wild tangle of hair billowed down her back as she shook her head excitedly. The other Death Eaters took several steps backwards, wands in hands but not raised. Lord Voldemort was the only one allowed to hurt Harry Potter nowadays, and they all knew it.
The Dark Lord himself stood from his throne. His wand remained in his pocket, because while he did not know that Harry loved him, he knew Harry was too much of a Gryffindor to harm an unarmed man who loved him.
"Why are you here, Harry love?" The darkest Wizard for several centuries asked, slowly making his way across the floor to the boy he hadn't seen in person for almost a year.
"I love you," Harry told him softly, a smile curving up the edges of his pretty mouth.
Voldemort's eyes were on his lips, soft and inviting and pink, and he remembered what they had tasted like, so long ago at the Ministry when he had stolen a kiss from Harry in the dark. He came closer still, stopping when they were as close as they could get without touching one another. Voldemort looked down, and Harry looked up, and they both stayed silent in the sudden loudness of the room. The Death Eaters gasped and chuckled and nudged each other at the 'joke' happening before them. Only a select handful (those who had delivered Voldemort's presents to Harry) had any idea of what was happening, or that what was happening was not Potter's idea of a joke, but Voldemort's.
Pale hands reached out to cup Harry's face, long fingers stroking tanned cheeks lightly.
"Say it again."
It had been the first time anyone had ever said it to him. As a child, no one had loved Tom Riddle, and as an adult no one was brave enough to love Lord Voldemort. Except this boy. Harry loved him, Harry Potter, whose parents he had murdered and who even now Voldemort was lying to through his teeth.
"I love you, Voldemort," Harry whispered once more. He pressed up onto his tiptoes, clinging to Voldemort's shoulders until their mouths were level and then he brushed his lips against the other's lips, smiling softly into the kiss. Voldemort clung tightly to him, arms moving to wrap around Harry's waist, tugging the boy closer to him, to his chest, and his mouth, and his crotch which had grown impossibly hard rather quickly.
When they pulled apart, Voldemort brushed his nose against Harry's forehead, taking in the scent of the boy's hair and skin. "I love you too," he lied, eyes closed so that he could not see the peaceful expression that slipped across Harry's face.
There was no guilt. No regret. There was no longer any resentment or anger at having to play this game either. Now, Voldemort actually looked forward to their conversations, now that Harry replied to his letters. He found himself waiting for a reply, impatient and curious, happily writing back as soon as possible, ignoring his other duties and his followers for Harry Potter. He felt excitement and pleasure when he thought about the boy, when he read the written replies, when he thought back to the kiss they had shared. There was no disgust. No hatred. Voldemort could admit to himself that he even liked Harry a little, had grown fond of the teenager that lived to keep him on his toes. It was not such a chore to pretend to love the boy, and now that Harry loved him it would not be so hard to keep lying to him. Telling the boy the truth would alienate him, drive him back into the arms of Voldemort's enemies, and he would end up like his mother, abandoned, defeated… killed by one who should have loved them. He had caught the tiger by the tail, and there was no way he was letting go now.
He still had a world to conquer. Harry had to help him do that first, before Voldemort would even contemplate ending the same and abandoning his prize.
"I love you," the Dark Lord whispered, breath hot against Harry's ear. He waved his hand negligently above Harry's head, and the Death Eaters slowly disappeared from the room, some taking longer than others. Snape stayed behind the longest, glancing worriedly at Lily's son, who was once again caught within the Dark Wizard's arms.
"I love you so much," Harry cried, as Voldemort bit down on his neck possessively. Snape turned his face away, blushing pink and trembling from the sight of Lily's bright green eyes glowing with lust and pleasure. It was a look that had never been bestowed upon Severus himself, and to see her son gaze upon her murderer with such a look turned the Death Eater's stomach. He left the room. Dumbledore was dead, Lupin was gone somewhere, Sirius Black was dead: there was no one left to tell, no one who was in any position to help Harry, but him, and Snape couldn't even bare to look at him.
Minister Scrimgeour died in his sleep. He hadn't been in the position long, taking over from Cornelius Fudge, and already he had been bested by Lord Voldemort. Another Death Eater took his place by default, the competitor, the runner-up in the election, the antithesis to everything Dumbledore had once stood for. Harry didn't care to learn his name. He hadn't argued with Voldemort's plan to kill the Minister either, though they could have captured him or Obliviated him and sent him out of the country, or stripped him of his magic (which in hindsight seems crueller than death). Voldemort had insisted death was the only viable option, and so while Voldemort worked on taking over the Ministry person by person, Harry spent the most of his summer chasing after rouges and undesirables. A snatcher, that's what people like him had been termed by the Ministry and The Quibbler.
Harry wasn't a Death Eater, but he was no longer just a civilian either. But that was ok, because Voldemort had asked him to round up his old classmates because it was necessary. Voldemort had asked it of him, and Voldemort loved him and he trusted the Dark Lord. The man had never lied to him, never given him any reason to not trust him or care for him, not since the year before at least. And so Harry never saw a reason to question the new regime he was working for. Sure, a few things bothered him, and he argued sometimes with Voldemort in private, but the Dark Lord always managed to persuade Harry to his point of view… with tongues and teeth and roaming hands that stroked away anything intelligent Harry may have wanted to point out. Harry had submitted himself wholly to his new Lord, and this new world they were forging together, and so when he finally came across his old friends hiding in a forest in Wales, he didn't let them escape as he might have once done.
He brought them before Lord Voldemort.
Harry stood by silently, as they were sentenced to death or imprisonment for treason and capital crimes, and he trusted that Voldemort was doing the right thing.
And through it all, Voldemort watched his lover out of the corner of his eyes. And smirked.
Harry had been living with Voldemort for almost three months before he began to notice things that would have been obvious to anyone who wasn't as blinded by love as he was. He had heard the Death Eaters talking, but he had ignored their words, passing them off as vicious rumours. But the last time they had made love, there were scratches on Voldemort's back that Harry hadn't put there, and Voldemort had just stared at him coolly when Harry had questioned them. There was no excuse or apology, just a blank look before the man pulled out of him unsatisfied and left their bed. Voldemort had left the room, in fact, and hadn't returned all night.
Strange robes had been pulled out from under the bed twice now, and the house elves had laundered them and returned them to where they had been found, ignoring Harry who insisted they were neither his nor Voldemort's.
It might have just been paranoia, making him crazy and twisting his thoughts and sight, but sometimes Harry thought there were blonde hairs upon his side of the pillow. He certainly wasn't blonde, and Voldemort and he never partook in the 'Polyjuice fetish' that some of the Death Eaters enjoyed. He had tried to ask Voldemort about it once, but when he had pointed it out to the elder man, and held up the pillow as proof, the hairs were black. Harry was so certain that they had been blonde, but Voldemort had pointed out that they weren't, quite sarcastically in fact, and Harry had believed that it was all in his head.
"Are you cheating on me?" Harry asked, pushing open the door to the throne room.
Pants and cries filled the room, escaping the silencing charm that Harry had broken by opening the door. Inside the room, a handful of Death Eaters watched with feral grins as the Dark Lord forced himself in and out of a sobbing woman on the stone floor. They enjoyed every scream of pain and every pant of pleasure, but outside of the room Harry wouldn't have been able to hear a thing.
The brunette watched in silence, something he had grown accustomed to doing since growing to love Voldemort. He watched from the shadows, always in the background, unless he was being cajoled into attending some Ministry function in order to lower the morale of defectors. Even in bed, Voldemort preferred Harry to make as little noise as possible, as if the Death Eaters weren't perfectly aware of what they were doing within the privacy of their own rooms.
Voldemort hadn't heard him speaking. The Death Eaters who had merely grinned at him as if they knew something he didn't and then turned their attention back to the spectacle before them. So Harry did what he had been trained to do. He slipped back out of the door, and pulled it silently closed behind him. Only when he heard the familiar groan that accompanied Voldemort's orgasm, and the noises of skin against skin stopped, did Harry push open the door again.
Voldemort still lay above the woman, whose face was turned towards Harry now as she cried with great heaving sobs. When he saw Harry, the Dark Lord's face went blank, the sick smile he had been sporting was no longer there, and he pulled away from the woman slick with blood and semen and stood to face his trembling lover.
"Harry-" He began, reaching out a pale arm towards the teenager.
"I should go, I think." Harry whispered. He refused to meet Voldemort's gaze, choosing instead to watch the woman cry, curled into a pathetic ball as she sobbed. He looked up at the sound of rustling clothes. Voldemort had pulled on a robe, covering himself and his sins, and he was making his way towards Harry. They both ignored how the gathered Death Eaters descended on the woman, grabbing and petting her, making her scream and cry unheard by the two lovers.
Harry ran from the room, unwilling to face the man who was supposed to love him.
Voldemort chased him.
It was pathetic of him to worry, he told himself, Harry would not really leave him. Harry loves me, he reminded himself. It wasn't as if he really loved Harry anyway; it was all a lie and a game and 'loving' Harry was simply a part Voldemort had to play. And yet there was a pain in his heart, a hole growing larger and larger with every beat as Harry continued to flee from him.
He grabbed the boy by the arms just as he was about to enter their rooms, spinning him around and slamming him back against the wall. "Look at me!" He roared, as Harry turned his face away, eyes clenched shut. "Listen to me!"
"Are you cheating on me, Tom?" Harry could feel his heart shattering in his chest, turning to ice and melting down into his stomach until there was nothing left within him anymore. Voldemort was supposed to love him, him, not some Muggle whore or Mudblood bitch. How many others had there been? Two foreign robes so far, and that one set of scratch marks, those blonde hairs, and that sobbing woman on the floor, but there could have been more. How many times had Voldemort come into a body that wasn't Harry's?
"No!" Voldemort hissed. "I love you!"
"Don't lie to me!" Harry screamed, tears in his eyes as he tried to shove the elder man off of him.
"I'm not lying," Voldemort lied. He grabbed Harry's face, squeezing his jaw lightly until the boy stopped panting and glared up at him. "I love you. I want you. Why would you think I'd want anyone else, Harry love? When I've wanting nothing but you for years now?" He sounded so sincere and so sad, and Harry looked up at him with watery eyes, wanting so desperately to trust that he was loved.
"But you cheated on me!" Harry shook his head, trying to force Voldemort to let go of his face.
The man's grip tightened instead. "I did not. I raped that Mudblood to prove a point. I made an example out of her before our followers, and then showed them how merciful I was by allowing them to feast upon my scraps. It is politics, Harry love. I care nothing for her, nothing for them. There is only you. I thought of you while inside of her," Voldemort breathed, nose brushing affectionately against Harry's cheek. It wasn't even a lie, that last part. He had thought of Harry, compared her to Harry, and realized that he enjoyed the feel of Harry more. But that wasn't important. That didn't mean he cared for Harry: he simply enjoyed the boy's willing body more than those struggling animals. That didn't mean he cared for the boy.
Harry breathed deeply, eyes slipping closed. He asked softly, "and those scratches on your back? Who gave you those?"
Voldemort laughed deeply and loudly, honestly amused by the question.
"Oh my Harry," he chuckled, "do you honestly believe that they do not attempt to fight back? They do not just bow down before the hurts I inflict upon them, you know. Strangely, those animals feel as if they are deserving of something more… good for something other than servitude and sexual satisfaction. Unbelievable of them, don't you think, considering they are Muggles, little better than filth." His fingers stroked along Harry's neck, lightly and his touch sent tingles of warmth through Harry's skin. "They had worse than mere scratches once I was finished with them, Harry love, so if it is a question of me being marked by another worry not. You have left your mark on me many more times than they have."
Harry wanted to ask how many times they had left their mark on Voldemort, but he didn't want to know, not really. A part of him wished to know against how many ghosts he was competing, but another part of him understood that it was a pointless wish. There was no competition. Dead rape-victims were not going to steal Tom's heart away. There was no emotion involved, except hatred and lust. Voldemort's actions were not 'right', rape was wrong on so many levels and Harry shuddered as he remembered that woman's tears. But Harry had stood by and allowed his friends to be murdered because Voldemort had claimed that it was necessary.
Apparently, now, rape was a part of their political agenda. And Harry had to accept that that was for the greater good as well.
It wouldn't make Voldemort love him any less.
Looking back on the past year, Harry realized it had been pretty stupid of him to be jealous and insecure as Voldemort raped those who defied him. Rape was just another method of torture, after all: it didn't mean anything. But how could he have not seen the signs of this? He wondered, as he stood framed just inside the doorway, how long he had been blind and oblivious this time. It had taken three months to find out about the rapes, how long had it taken him to find out about Draco Malfoy?
How long had Voldemort really been cheating on him for?
It was cheating, Harry knew. As much as it hurt to admit it, the words echoed inside of his mind, loud and malicious and blonde, and it was cheating. Malfoy looked to be enjoying himself too much for it to be rape, and those smug looks he was throwing Harry over Voldemort's shoulder were like knives to the heart. His pale legs were wrapped around the Dark Lord's waist, and his arms were pinned above his head by one of Voldemort's hands, and there was a glazed look in his eyes but his mouth alternated between smirking cruelly and flopping open in pleasure. Harry wasn't sure which look he hated more.
Only he was supposed to find pleasure beneath Voldemort, only him. Voldemort had loved him, hadn't he?
Obviously not anymore, Harry thought.
He thought, also, about saying something, confronting them, and he thought about simply leaving. He had nowhere to go though; Voldemort owned the Wizarding World, and Harry had grown too accustomed to magic to go back to the relatively simple life of a Muggle. What would he say if he were to speak? Beg, and cry, and plead for Voldemort's love? Harry trembled at the thought. He wouldn't. He wouldn't act like that, like the animals that begged and cried for Voldemort's mercy. Not in front of Malfoy.
He was almost out of the room when Malfoy gasped, coming undone beneath Harry's lover. A gasp left Harry, more of a small sob than an exhalation of breath really, and Voldemort's head whirled around at the noise. Red eyes met green, and both thought back to the day Harry had found Voldemort raping that Mudblood. Those excuses would not fly this time, empty promises wouldn't win back Harry's trust, and Voldemort had the world in the palm of his hand already, he had no more reason to cling onto the boy. But Voldemort hesitated. He pulled away from Malfoy, shoving the blonde away sticky and panting, and he remained with a familiar heaviness between his legs as he waited for Harry to speak first. Depending on what Harry said, Voldemort whispered in his mind, then he'd know what to do. Perhaps… perhaps… but no, he scowled, why would he want to keep Harry anyway?
"What, Potter?" Draco chuckled, staring at Harry in a way that made the boy feel vulnerable and cold. "Did you think he looooooved you? Ha!"
Draco had taken the choice out of their hands. It was no longer about who spoke first and who replied, but about Harry turning heartbroken to face his lover, not knowing what to say. And Voldemort didn't know how to reply either, how to speak, how to understand what he was feeling as Harry choked back tears and tried to muffle the horrible gasps that were escaping his throat.
He had no need for the boy anymore, he told himself. It was easier this way, he rationalized. Malfoy had given him the excuse he needed to break things off. Harry loved him, he wouldn't leave him, and if Harry was needed again he would be there to fight for Lord Voldemort. Voldemort wouldn't have to kill him.
"You were so easy to fool, Harry Potter. So desperate to believe that someone could possibly love you. It was almost amusing how quickly you threw yourself at me, a little pathetic hmm. So trusting, and beautiful, and innocent, after everything you've done in my name you still believe that I'm capable of loving anything. Loving you?" The man gave a soft laugh, though he was unable to meet Harry's eyes again.
Harry would take the hint, would accept the rejection and move on and continue to be loyal, but leave Voldemort free to… to what though. There was no one else he desired. No one who amused him as much as Harry did no one who had kept him as interested for as long. Malfoy was a passing fancy, sex was a way to reward his successes of late, and it had been less entertaining than Voldemort assumed it would have been. Sex with Harry was better.
Everything with Harry was better.
But the words were already out of his mouth, and Malfoy had stirred the pot while he was lost in thought. By the time he looked up, ready to dismiss Draco and seriously consider apologizing to Harry, the boy was running from the room.
Voldemort considered following, and then dismissed the notion. Harry loved him. He wouldn't run far.
"Get out of my sight," he hissed, shoving Draco from the bed. They boy groaned as he hit the floor, but he dressed hurriedly avoiding meeting the angry red gaze that settled upon him and looking at the angry red cock that remained unattended. Once he had left the room, Voldemort ordered a house elf to change the sheets, and then he waited for Harry to return.
It was more than two days later when Harry finally appeared in the manor. He was pale and there were dark rings under his eyes, but Voldemort had never seen anything more beautiful.
The Dark Lord approached him slowly, as if he were afraid that Harry was nothing but an apparition that would disappear at the slightly movement. He had been worried and lonely and betrayed when Harry hadn't returned that first night. He had been angry and worried and lonely and betrayed when Harry still hadn't returned the night after. And it was only now, as Harry stood shaking before him, that Voldemort realized that he feared more than just death. He feared Harry leaving him. Almost sick with the thought of being without Harry, the Dark Lord reached out to cup the pale, sweaty face of his lover. There were tear tracks on his flushed cheeks, and his bottom lip was bitten almost raw, and Voldemort thought Harry might have been feverish since his skin was so warm. He wondered if the boy had bothered to eat or sleep the past two days.
He pulled Harry into his arms, gripping tighter as the body trembled harshly against his own. Harry was fighting back tears, he realized, and Voldemort pulled back to brush his lips reassuringly against his lover's. Whatever had hurt him, whatever had made him cry, Voldemort swore they would suffer. Though on some level he understood that his actions had caused this pain, there had to be something solid out there that he could hurt, could kill, in order to make Harry happy again.
"I have missed you, Harry love. I'm glad you came home."
Their lips brushed once more, before Harry pulled away with a sad, bittersweet smile. "You don't have to lie to me anymore, my Lord," he whispered, and turned his back on Lord Voldemort.
He would have followed, but then Nagini was there, hissing something distracting, and there were followers bowing at his feet, getting in the way and demanding things from him that he didn't have the patience to give him. Could they not see that his lover had come home? Didn't they understand that Voldemort wanted to be with Harry, and not them? A house elf came to tell him that Harry was waiting for him in their bedroom, lying on the bed, and Voldemort had kept that in mind. The knowledge of Harry's whereabouts, in the end, was enough to keep him from following.
When Voldemort finally made it back to their room, he hadn't been expecting to find Harry curled up in the bed, under the duvet. He had assumed, foolishly, that Harry would want sex. Harry had always wanted sex; he was a teenager, perpetually aroused and insatiable. But of course Voldemort had broken his heart. He had a lot of making up to do before Harry would consider relations with him, it was naïve of him to think otherwise.
"Harry love?" Voldemort whispered. He didn't want to wake the boy, but he didn't want Harry to go asleep without him and wake beside him and be surprised or upset either. Harry had nightmares when something happened to upset him, Voldemort remembered, and their fight… had been upsetting, for both parties. He didn't want to cause Harry anymore nightmares.
He leant down over the boy, frowning at the streak of blood across Harry's cheek and lower jaw. "Did you have a nosebleed again?" Voldemort asked the sleeping boy. Sometimes Harry got them when he had a particularly bad dream.
He tugged the blankets down, exposing Harry's neck, which was also faintly streaked red. Too much blood to have been just from a nosebleed, he realized clinically. There was blood on Harry's chest too, and underneath the pillow where one of Harry's hands were hidden. Voldemort slowly reached down, lifting the arm that lay curled on Harry's still chest. It too was red with blood. There was a slit across the wrist, thin and clean, made by a wand's spell rather than a make-shift weapon. The wound was ugly and bright with blood, not clean in the sense of cleanliness (simply precision), and it sickened Voldemort's mind to look at it. But he had to, had to see, had to know, had to learn what he had driven his Harry to.
He tugged the other arm out from under the pillow, creating a snail-trail of red across the cream silk sheets. There was a matching cut, though slightly more jagged, and Voldemort realized that Harry had slit this wrist last, using his left arm which was already bleeding heavily. How had he managed to even grip the wand? The cuts appeared deep enough to have severed tendons.
Voldemort tried not to think about it. Instead, he hissed loudly for Nagini. "Find someone. Make them come here." He ordered, not caring who came or how the snake got them to come.
There was nothing anyone could do.
Harry Potter was already dead.
After Harry's death, Voldemort moved out of Malfoy Manor. He took the body to Hogwarts, buried it beside Dumbledore's grave beneath the grove of trees because Harry would have liked that, and then he moved into the castle. He didn't visit the grave, not since after the burial where he had been found crying over the upturned earth and useless bouquets.
The first year was horrendous. He killed and tortured indiscriminately, caught up in anger and regret and despair like he hadn't realised he could feel. Everyone was a target for his frustrations. Crime rates soared as Voldemort mourned for the death of his lover.
But as the year passed, Voldemort allowed himself to hide from the grief, hide from the reality of it all. He forgot about the lonely grave beneath the grove of trees, and he forgot about the blood stained silk sheets that he had burned along with Lucius Malfoy's struggling son.
As the second anniversary of Harry's death creeped upon him, Lord Voldemort grabbed the arm of one of his Death Eaters, one who was a teacher in the school.
"Have you seen Harry?" He asked, looking around the stone hallway with narrowed eyes. "I can't find him. He was angry with me earlier, you know, but I'm sure he's come back by now. He can't stay mad at me long," he whispered, something tugging at his memory as he spoke, but he ignored it, pushed it back, away, along with the grief and the pain and the unhappiness.
There was only love.
And Harry. And him. There could be nothing else in his world.
The last time Harry's death had been mentioned around Lord Voldemort, the unfortunate person had been tortured into insanity and then tortured some more, and so this Death Eater knew better than to disturb Voldemort's delusion. "I think, my Lord, he went towards the Great Hall. But I could be mistaken."
Voldemort nodded in thanks, and left. Severus Snape watched him go, having been left behind unharmed, and he hadn't missed the soft smile that spread on Voldemort's thin lips at the prospect of seeing Harry again. Soon, all of the others in the castle knew that it was best to pretend that all was well when Voldemort asked after his dead lover, pointing the Dark Lord towards the kitchens or the Great Hall, to the grounds keeper's hut or the lake, or to the dormitories that Harry had lived within, or to the one's Tom Riddle had once lived in, or to the Headmaster's office, where Tom now lived.
It was no longer an unusual sight to see the Dark Lord talking to himself or laughing softly. Most knew what it was like to have loved and lost and so they did not begrudge him his imaginary happiness, and he was still a formidable foe despite sinking deeper into insanity than he had ever fallen before, and none dared challenge his reign. Harry might have, once, but he was no longer there. They all knew that. All, but him.
"Hello, Harry love," Voldemort smiled as he spoke.
He had long ago learnt to ignore the fact that Harry was slightly transparent now, and tinted blue around the edges. He could ignore the greyness of the boy's usually jet black hair and the whiteness of his tanned skin, and the blue sheen to his normally pink lips. His green eyes were as bright and beautiful as they ever were though, and they were the only part of him that did not remind Tom Riddle of a ghost.
But he chose not to be reminded of anything, he ignored the memories probing at his mind, ignored the tightening in his chest as faint silver lines on Harry's wrists glowed in the light, and he certainly ignored the way that he could no longer touch Harry, no longer cup his cheek or his chin, or brush his nose or neck with his fingers, or kiss his lips, or take him to bed. Ghosts had no need for physical pleasures, and Tom chose to ignore that he, himself, did.
Whenever he managed to find Harry, he always greeted him the same way. "Hello, Harry love." He'd start and Harry would smile softly back, raising his hand as if to touch him then letting it drop limply to his side. "Why would you leave me? I've been searching for you."
"Because you stopped loving me," Harry would whisper with sad eyes. Voldemort usually changed the subject then, and they talked about the world and life and everything but death, but on the exact day Harry had died two years earlier, Voldemort found Harry in the Astronomy Tower.
The boy had never gone there before.
"Albus fell, right from where I'm standing," Harry told him, after telling Voldemort 'because you stopped loving me', knowing by now that Voldemort would have changed the subject anyway.
"I never stopped loving you." The Dark Lord said, unexpectedly. "I didn't even know I loved you until I had lost you. I didn't know how… to say it, to feel it, or accept it, and Harry!" He gasped, surging forward to pull Harry against his chest, but couldn't. There was a wall of coldness, an invisible sheet of ice between then, and Voldemort could have pushed through the wall but he knew he would have gone through Harry as well, and Voldemort wasn't able to handle that kind of reality check. So he stopped, pulled back unwillingly, and gritted his teeth.
"I'll never lie to you again," he promised desperately, "but you have to come home to me. I need you to come home, Harry!" Sad green eyes looked up at him in silence. "Please come back."
"I can't," Harry told him sadly, softly. "But you can come to me, if you wanted?"
Voldemort thought about it, thought about his Horcruxes and his familiar and his world. But his world was standing right in front of him, blue around the edges and shimmering in the middle, and he would have given anything to make the boy flesh and blood and real again. "What do I have to do?"
"Come to me." And Harry held out a hand, waiting. Voldemort walked slowly forwards, his own arm outstretched.
He kept walking, ignoring Harry as the boy stepped to the side. Then he was falling, from the same window Dumbledore had fallen, landing with crunches and cracks on the same ground Dumbledore had landed. And Harry watched, as he had watched Dumbledore's death, from the Astronomy Tower in silence.
Two students, who had stayed at Hogwarts for the summer holidays, found Voldemort an hour later. There were tears on his pale cheeks, and a halo of blood spread out from his head. But he was smiling.
When Death Eaters attempted to use the Horcruxes to resurrect their Lord, when they went looking for them, when they found them all of the Horcruxes were destroyed, smoking and blackened with tiny lightning bolts scratched into their surfaces.
Voldemort picked himself up from the floor. He didn't look at the palms of his hand as he used them to shove himself to his feet, he didn't notice how they were almost see through, how the grass seemed brighter when looked at through what should have been skin and bone. He didn't look behind him, as he walked away from the body sprawled upon the bloody ground. He only had eyes for Harry.
Harry looked denser. Tanner. Lips pink and wet again, and skin glowing as he smiled happily at the Dark Lord. Green eyes were bright, as they always were, as Voldemort remembered them being, and they were laughing as Voldemort swept him into his arms and kissed him.
"Do you enjoy my kisses, Harry love?" He whispered, pulling back so Harry could mewl with disappointment in the circle of his arms.
"I have missed you. I love you." Harry breathed, peppering kisses to Voldemort's cold cheeks and throat.
"Say it again. You haven't said it in so long."
"Years," Harry breathed. "It's been years. And I love you, so very much."
"Always loved you," Voldemort sobbed, face pressed to the darkness of Harry's hair, memorizing the texture and scent that he had long ago forgotten. "Love you more than… more than…" He didn't know how to finish that sentence, so he stopped speaking, taking in the feel and smell and sight of Harry instead, immersing himself within those senses, losing himself in his lover once more.
"More than life. More than death," Harry said for him, looking peaceful in the arms of Lord Voldemort.
They held each other for nearly an hour, kissing lightly and stroking bare skin with unhurried movements. They had all of the time in the world now, there was no need to rush; there was plenty of time to savour each other.
"Come on," Harry said at last, spotting two children making their way around the greenhouses that led to the Tower. "We need to go move on now, Tom."
"Why? Why can't we stay here? Harry love, this is our home now. You'll like it here," he said with a chuckle, "there are no Malfoys."
Harry allowed a small smile to tug up one corner of his mouth. He had seen what had happened to Draco Malfoy, and while he hadn't particularly enjoyed it, he had felt a small measure of satisfaction from seeing the home-wrecking boy suffer. "We still have to leave though, Voldemort. We shouldn't linger any longer. We have a train to catch. After all, they've waited two years for me as it is. We've kept them waiting long enough."
"A train?" Voldemort questioned, quite obviously surprised. "Where are we going?"
Harry took his hand, their fingers lacing together. He smiled warmly at the elder Wizard, his newly dead lover, and begun leading Voldemort towards the light of the setting sun.
BOOMrobotdog, every time you 'suggest' I write something, it becomes an epic wordfest. Glare! But I did rather enjoy that one. Let me know what you think please.
And for those that will probably ask, theoretically, if some trains go somewhere and some go nowhere and others go elsewhere… one must be back to the living (as Harry chose), another any potential hell, and the last heaven/reincarnation/AU/etc. The last, in my mind, being 'nowhere': so that is where Harry and Voldemort are going.