Summary: Harry writes a letter of surrender to Voldemort. The Dark Lord is intrigued. Slash HP/LV (TR).
Rating: M for slash (homoerotic relationship) in later chapters.
Warning: This is a Harry Potter/Voldemort romance set during Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts. Read at your own risk.
A Letter to the Dark Lord
The rain sighed softly against the windowpanes. Small silver drops burst against the glass and became translucent streaks of water. Harry reached out and traced the swirls of rain from the inside of the glass. His fingers left grimy smudges against the window, blurring his view of the outside world.
Harry sighed and tore his glance away from the rain. He read over the letter he had written one last time:
To the Dark Lord,
I am tired of fighting you. I can't do this anymore. I am writing to inform you of my unconditional surrender. You will find me walking down Wisteria Lane in Little Whinging at noon tomorrow, away from the magical wards that surround my aunt and uncle's house. I will be alone and unarmed. Please kill me swiftly and mercifully.
Harry swallowed, hard. Then he glanced up at the snow-white owl that perched on the windowsill. He stroked the soft white feathers, then rolled up the letter and tied it to the bird's leg with an unsteady hand. "Please... please take the letter to Lord Voldemort, Hedwig."
The owl stirred, reluctantly. She pushed her beak gently against Harry's temple, and her beak turned crimson.
Harry wiped the crusted blood off the bird's beak with his sleeve. "Oh. Sorry about that. Uncle Vernon has been worse than usual lately... Please, Hedwig." Harry stroked the feathers again. "Go now. It will be the last thing I ever ask of you. I... I just can't take it any more. Not after what happened to Sirius..."
He opened the window and pushed the reluctant bird firmly out into the rain. For a moment he stood silently, watching her as she disappeared into the misty distance. Then he sat down on his bed and waited.
Wisteria Lane was silent. The rain had turned to a light drizzle by now, and the rows of tidy houses were wreathed in a fine mist that lent a strange otherworldly air to the otherwise ordinary suburban lane. The sweet fragrance of lavender and hollyhock mingled with the scent of earth and rain. The deep silence of the deserted street, the profusion of pale violet wisteria cascading over garden walls, and the gossamer swirls of mist suddenly made the familiar street seem oddly enchanted. It was five minutes to noon, but the Dark Lord was nowhere to be seen. Harry glanced up and down the street. A Muggle man was sitting on a bench, reading the newspaper, and a grey and white cat was sauntering jauntily along the sidewalk, but no one else was about.
Harry waited. The seconds ticked away, endlessly.
Five minutes after noon. Why wasn't Voldemort coming?
Harry's glance flickered uncertainly to the man on the bench. He was a very ordinary sort of man in a grey business suit. His hair was dark, and he had a pleasant, rather nondescript face. The man looked up from his newspaper and smiled slightly at Harry.
Harry walked slowly over to the bench and sat down next to the stranger. They sat in silence for a few minutes. Harry noticed that the newspaper was not even slightly damp, in spite of the fact that the man had been sitting on a bench in the rain for a while.
He glanced up at the stranger and whispered: "It's you, isn't it?"
The man folded his newspaper up carefully and put it down on the bench next to him. Then he said softly: "Yes, Harry. It's me."
Harry nodded. His heart felt curiously light. "I'm ready."
"Ready for what?" The man's voice was pleasant, and try as he might, Harry could not see a trace of Voldemort in his features.
Harry swallowed. "I'm ready to die."
"I see." The stranger studied him intently for a moment. Harry was waiting for him to draw his yew wand, but he didn't. "May I ask why?"
Harry gazed up at him, puzzled. "Why what?"
"Why you wish to die. I must admit that I had not expected a letter like the one you sent me, and I am curious to learn what brought about your sudden change of heart."
Harry looked down. "I'm just... tired, okay? Really tired. Tired of everything."
"I see. What happened to your head?" The stranger's voice was soft. "That's a rather bad cut you've got there."
"My uncle." Harry wiped at his temple with his sleeve. Still bleeding. He frowned. "I don't mean to be rude, but would you mind getting this over with?"
The stranger's brown eyes lingered on his face. "Your uncle did this to you?" He put a hand under Harry's chin and turned the boy's face towards him. "You have other bruises, too, older ones. Why didn't you tell Dumbledore about this?"
Harry stared at him, warily. Why was Voldemort dragging things out like this? He shrugged. "I wrote to Dumbledore about it years ago. He never responded."
"Didn't he?" The stranger sat in silence for a few moments, gazing into the mist. Then he whispered, so softly that Harry almost couldn't hear him: "No, of course he didn't. Dumbledore never responds to letters like that..."
"Are you... are you going to kill me now?" It felt terribly odd, to ask a question like that of this pleasant-looking stranger.
The stranger put his hand on Harry's arm. "Kill you? All in good time, Harry. All in good time."
The next moment, everything went black, and Harry felt the air leaving his lungs. He squeezed his eyes shut and gasped for breath as he felt the world pressing against him. Apparating. We are apparating somewhere.
When he opened his eyes, Harry was standing in a vast, gloomy sitting room next to the man in the grey suit. The room still bore traces of former grandeur; candles were flickering in a tarnished silver candelabra, marble seraphs surrounded the cold fireplace, and the furniture was old and tattered, but not without a certain somber elegance. Harry recognized the room from his dreams: This was the sitting room of the Riddle House, Voldemort's ancestral home. This is where the old caretaker had been murdered.
Harry swallowed. Of course. Of course death wasn't going to come as swiftly and painlessly as he had imagined. There would probably be torture involved. His glance flickered uncertainly to the unfamiliar form of the Dark Lord.
"Have a seat, Harry." The stranger indicated a dust-covered chair upholstered in faded silk.
Harry sat, obediently, and waited. Then the stranger began to change; the gentle face was slowly transformed into the pale familiar features of the Dark Lord. The Muggle suit darkened and billowed into a cloak. Scarlet eyes studied Harry's face intently.
"Dumbledore does not know about the letter you wrote me, I take it?" Voldemort's voice was still as gentle as that of the man on the bench.
Harry shook his head. "Nobody does. You can go ahead and kill me."
"So eager to die... How very curious." Voldemort didn't move; he merely regarded Harry with his crimson glance. It felt rather unnerving.
A door creaked open, and a small pudgy figure scurried in. "You are back, my Lord. Is there anything you require? Oh..." Peter Pettigrew caught sight of Harry. His eyes widened. "Oh. You caught Harry Potter, my Lord."
"Yes," said Lord Voldemort quietly. "It appears that I did, Wormtail. With rather less effort than I had imagined."
Something else was stirring by the door. Harry turned his head and saw a looming dark green shape in the shadows. Nagini.
He swallowed. Perhaps it had been naive to assume that the Dark Lord would finish him off with a simple, painless killing curse. Whatever. It would be over soon, anyway.
The serpent slithered towards Harry, hissing softly: *Where did you come from, my green-eyed child? He is beautiful, master. His eyes are lovely. Will you let me have him, master?*
Harry met the serpent's yellow gaze. He sighed in Parseltongue: *I'm not a child. And I'm not yours.*
The serpent froze. Its yellow eyes were fixed on Harry's face.
"What... What did you just say, Harry?" Voldemort's voice was a whisper.
Harry just shrugged.
*Leave him, Nagini.* At Voldemort's command, the serpent slithered reluctantly away. Harry felt the Dark Lord's glance linger on his face.
Voldemort spoke again, sharply: "Leave us alone, Wormtail. Close the door."
As soon as Pettigrew and the serpent were gone, the Dark Lord knelt down by Harry's chair.
*Speak again, Harry.*
Harry blinked, dazed. This was taking much longer than he had expected. Why didn't the Dark Lord just go ahead and kill him? *You want me to speak Parseltongue?* he whispered.
The scarlet eyes widened. Then the Dark Lord nodded. *Yes, Harry. Yes, I want you to speak Parseltongue. Tell me... Tell me, child, how you come to speak the ancient serpent tongue. It shouldn't be possible. When did you learn to speak like this?*
Harry thought for a moment, then shook his head. *I don't know. I have always been able to speak to snakes. Can you kill me now?*
"Kill you?" Voldemort said quietly. "Not until I understand this, Harry. You, Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, are a Parselmouth? How is that possible? You must be a descendant of Slytherin himself. I thought I was the only one left. How very, very odd..."
Harry was beginning to feel tired. "No. I'm not a descendant of Slytherin. Dumbledore said... He said that I got the ability to speak to snakes from you. I don't know how it works exactly, but he thinks that you accidentally transferred some of your own powers to me when you failed to kill me when I was a baby. He said that's why I've got this." He touched his scar.
"He said what?" Voldemort's voice sank to a whisper. "But that's absurd! I transferred some of my powers to you when I gave you the scar? That's nonsense. Magic is not transferable; even a child should know that."
A long, pale hand brushed Harry's scar lightly. Voldemort's hand was curiously cold to the touch. Harry could sense the Dark Lord's confusion now. A trick. He thinks this is all a trick devised by Dumbledore, part of some grand plan.
Harry sighed. "No, it's not a trick. And if Dumbledore has a plan, I don't know what it is."
"How... how do you know what I was thinking?" Voldemort's voice was barely audible. "Are you a legilimens as well? If so, you must be an immensely powerful one; I am an occlumens of considerable skill. How can a mere child know my thoughts?"
"I'm not a child." Harry was beginning to feel impatient. "Look, it's not important. I've always been able to sense your thoughts and your emotions; it's got something to do with my scar. Your magic misfired that night you killed my parents. You made me a Parselmouth, and you accidentally created a bond between us that night, that's all."
"That's all?" Voldemort sank down in a chair opposite Harry, staring at him. "You don't understand, child. That's not how magic works! If magic could be transferred from one person to another, then any Muggle could become a wizard. What an absurd thought! It is impossible to transfer magical abilities to another."
"Then how did I suddenly get your ability to speak Parseltongue that night you fired the curse?" Harry felt confused. "And why am I able to read your mind? You must have transferred something of yourself to me."
"Something of myself?" Voldemort's pale features were whiter than death now. "I transferred something of myself -?" He sat transfixed, staring at Harry. "But then... Is it possible? Merlin, it can't be... And yet it must. It is the only explanation possible. You are... You must be..."
Harry cleared his throat. "I'm sorry, but.. Are you going to kill me soon? It's rather unnerving, the waiting..."
"Kill you?" The Dark Lord's voice was suddenly hoarse. "Kill you? No, no, Harry. I will never kill you. I need to keep you safe from harm, always."
Harry blinked. "What?"
An icy hand brushed his face, gently. "This must be difficult for you to understand, Harry. But I see it now, finally. Yes, it all makes sense. You are my horcrux, my precious child."
"Horcrux?" Harry rubbed his forehead wearily. What on earth was Voldemort talking about?
Voldemort leaned forward. "You are my soul, Harry," he breathed. "My horcrux. When a murder is committed, it fragments the soul, you see. And it is possible to capture one of those shards of soul and embed it in an object after a murder. That way, the murderer can use his acts of violence to become immortal. I have used this magic several times to ensure my own immortality; I have hidden fragments of my soul in objects that are precious to me."
Harry stared at him. "Like... like your diary?"
Voldemort frowned slightly. "You know about my diary?"
Harry nodded. "I destroyed it when I was in my second year."
"You destroyed a horcrux?" Voldemort looked startled. "That's not possible, Harry. How could a mere child destroy a horcrux? They are almost indestructible."
"I destroyed it with a basilisk fang. In the Chamber of Secrets, after I killed the basilisk. Er.. Sorry about that."
Harry held his breath, waiting for the Dark Lord's deathly fury. Instead, there was a soft laugh.
"You killed the ancient basilisk and destroyed the horcrux? What an extraordinary child you are, Harry! But of course you are extraordinary; how could you not be, seeing what you are?" A hand brushed lightly through his hair now. There was a glitter in the scarlet eyes. "Who cares about the diary, the tedious ramblings of a schoolboy, imbued with darkness? This horcrux is infinitely more wondrous... A living horcrux! To think that I almost killed you, Harry!" The white hand trembled. "My horcrux..."
Harry felt dizzy. "You made me a horcrux? There is a piece of your soul in me?"
Voldemort nodded. "So it would seem, Harry. It was an accident - I had no idea... But it all makes sense now... Oh, don't look so worried, child. You don't need to fear me any more. I will protect you and keep you safe for ever. No harm will ever come to you."
Harry glanced at the white face of the Dark Lord. "You are not going to kill me?"
"Of course not." Voldemort's voice was soft. "That bastard Dumbledore probably planned for us to kill each other in the end... Oh, don't look so shocked Harry; I've known him longer than you have, and that is precisely the sort of thing he would do, "for the greater good". But you don't need to worry about him any more. I will watch over you for ever, my precious child."
"I'm... not a child."
Voldemort looked slightly taken aback. "That's right. Of course not. How old are you now? Fourteen?"
The Dark Lord frowned. "Really? You look younger. It must be those clothes you are wearing; they are much too big for you."
Harry looked down at his worn, baggy clothes. "They used to be my cousin's."
"They are impoverished then, the Muggles who look after you?"
Harry had to smile. "No, they do quite well for themselves. They just don't like me much. They think that even these hand-me-downs are a bit too good for me, actually."
"Really?" Voldemort studied Harry intently for a moment. "I will send for new clothes for you at once. You must tell me what else you want."
"What I want?" Harry looked at Voldemort, puzzled. Was he dreaming? Did the Dark Lord just offer to buy him new clothes?
Voldemort smiled slightly. "It has been a long time since I was sixteen, my dear; you must remind me of what things a sixteen year old boy will want. Rare books of magic, perhaps? Precious objects? Jewels? Musicians? Girls?"
"Girls?" It took Harry a moment to understand, but when he did, he blushed deeply. "Er... no, thank you. I don't need anything."
Voldemort looked a little disappointed. "Nothing? But surely, there must be things you want? Just name them, Harry! Magical artifacts? Flying carpets? Servants? Goblin-made weapons? Elf-made wine?"
"Er..." Harry shook his head. All he really wanted was for Sirius to come back from the dead, but he didn't think even Voldemort could arrange for that. "Perhaps.. a little food?"
"Food! Yes, of course!" Voldemort looked delighted. "Why didn't I think of that? You must be famished. I will have a house-elf bring you some right away. What sorts of food do you like?"
Harry thought about it. "I... I have no idea. They were always starving me at the Dursleys, so I just ate whatever I could get my hands on. And at Hogwarts there was always a lot of food, and I ate everything. I have never really thought about what I like."
"Hmm." Voldemort looked at him thoughtfully. "Well, I'll just have the house elf bring you a little of everything, then, until we can sort our what your preferences are." He glanced around the dilapidated sitting room with a frown. "And I really must have the house elf do something about this house as well; this place looks disgraceful."
When Harry woke up the next day, the Riddle House had undergone a miraculous transformation; the marble floors were gleaming, the furniture was dusted and repaired, and the table was set with delicate china, crystal goblets and glittering silver. Peter Pettigrew was summarily dismissed when Voldemort noticed that Harry winced at the sight of him, and five new house elves appeared out of nowhere.
Harry, still half convinced that this was all just some terribly strange dream, did rather enjoy the next few weeks at the Riddle House. He was given a soft bed and lots of food, and the Dark Lord seemed to have developed an odd new obsession with keeping him happy.
Upon seeing that Harry was still rather startled at times by his monstrous appearance, Voldemort offered to assume the form of the suit-clad Muggle again, but this idea struck Harry as too bizarre. His life had become surreal enough already; sipping elf-made wine with a Dark Lord who looked like a London stock broker would probably make him lose what little was left of his mind. In the end, they settled on the form of Tom Riddle, the handsome schoolboy Harry had seen in the diary, and the Dark Lord had been a boy with dark curls ever since.
One day, Harry accidentally called Dark Lord "Tom", and Tom he was from then on. Tom was always by Harry's side, anxious to indulge his slightest whim, but after weeks of indulgence, Harry had no more whims left. Tom seemed so absurdly happy when he asked for things, so Harry tried his hardest to think of something, but he was beginning to run out of ideas. Hedwig had showed up at his bedroom window, and Tom had bought her a magnificent gold cage and large boxes of owl nuts. Tom had retrieved Harry's school trunk and his wand from the Dursleys, "accidentally" setting their house on fire in the process, but much to Tom's regret and Harry's relief, the Dursleys had escaped unharmed. Harry had beautiful clothes, soft pillows, golden snitches and splendid broomsticks, chocolate frog cards and cake, and he couldn't for the life of him think of any other things he wanted.
"You look sad," whispered Tom one afternoon as they sat in front of the fireplace together. "You don't still want to die, do you?"
Harry shook his head slowly.
"Then what do you want, Harry? Come on, tell me."
Harry looked into the flickering flames. "I am beginning to miss my friends, Tom."
"Your friends?" Tom got up. "I will get them for you. Which ones do you want? Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger? They are your favorites, right?"
Harry had to laugh. "You can't just bring me the world on a silver platter forever, Tom. I miss Ron and Hermione, but I also miss Hogwarts. It's almost September; the new school year will begin in a few days. I want to go to Hogwarts, Tom."
"To Hogwarts?" There was a sudden note of anxiousness in Tom's voice. "No, Harry, that's not safe. I don't trust Dumbledore at all, and if your friends had been capable of looking after you properly, you wouldn't have begged the Dark Lord to kill you a few weeks ago. I have been trying to make you happy; I can't have you go away and get all unhappy again. I absolutely cannot allow you to go back to Hogwarts."
"But it's what I want, Tom. I miss Hogwarts, and I miss my friends."
Tom sighed deeply and ran his fingers through his dark curls, messing them up completely. "Oh, come now, Harry, that's not fair! You know I'll do whatever you want when your lovely emerald eyes get all moist like that. But I need to know that you are safe, Harry..." He stood for a moment, irresolute. Then he lit up. "Ah! I know what to do now! Why didn't I think of that before?"
"Think of what?" Harry had to smile when he saw how pleased Tom looked.
"I'll come with you, of course!" Tom sat down on the floor next to him again. "That way I can watch over you and keep you safe, and you can go to school and see your friends. It will be rather nice to be at Hogwarts again, after all these years. You must admit that it's a wonderful idea, Harry!"
Harry laughed. "You can't get into Hogwarts, Tom; there are all sorts of wards and spells to keep you out. And even if you could enter the castle somehow, people would recognize you."
Tom's silver eyes glittered. "Of course they won't. I have thought of an ingenious plan, Harry. I will come with you, and no one will have any idea who I am."