Warnings: Slash, Harry/Voldemort

Disclaimer: They don't belong to me. Entirely the property of J. K. Rowling, Warner Brothers, etc. I'm not making any money off of this.

Summary: A voice whispers to Harry in the still of the night, when he is on the verge of sleep and at his most vulnerable. Takes place during Deathly Hallows.


PART I: THE CALM BEFORE


1.

Harry couldn't sleep.

His eyes were burning with exhaustion as he struggled to make sense of the words before him. A large, dusty tome lay open in front of him on the kitchen table in Number 12, Grimmauld Place, and his head rested heavily against his hand. Every few minutes, he would feel his eyelids begin to droop, his head slowly growing heavier, until his forehead would nearly slip off of his hand and he would be jolted back to reality.

Harry dragged his gaze to the clock above the stove. It was past three in the morning. Running a hand over his face, the boy sighed and returned his attention to the book.

He knew, however, that it wasn't a passionate interest in A Magical History: 125 BC-650 AD that was keeping him from his bed tonight.

Harry wouldn't sleep.

He was already long accustomed to the dreams, snippets of Voldemort's life, desires, annoyances. He had participated in some rather disastrous Occlumency lessons during his fifth year in an attempt to stop them, but his strong dislike of Severus Snape and his immense difficulty with the subject prevented him from advancing very far in the brief course of his lessons.

And after the abrupt conclusion of his lessons with Snape, Harry had never found himself worried about his inadequacy with the skill; there was no harm in the dreams if he didn't pay them any mind …

(not like that time when he'd dreamt of Sirius and the Department of Mysteries and of screaming and blood and he had led his godfather right into Voldemort's trap and then Sirius had died and it was all his fault and)

Harry paused and shook the flood of memories out of his mind, trying to bring his concentration back to the book in front of him. It still pained him to think of it; two years had passed, but the gaping hole that his godfather had left in his heart was still achingly raw. He wouldn't let it happen again, he told himself; the dreams wouldn't matter, they couldn't hurt anyone, as long as Harry didn't foolishly act on them again.

But it wasn't only dreams that he was having have trouble with now.

Harry's eyes began to feel heavy in his head once again, and the words on the pages seemed to be squirming away from his vision. Harry blinked groggily a few times, trying to bring the words back into focus, but they wouldn't stay still long enough for him to finish the sentence he had been reading. If only he could close his eyes for just … one … minute …

"Harry …"

The boy sat up abruptly, eyes snapping open, suddenly wide awake. He looked around the kitchen, heart beating hard against his chest, and it was not for a few moments until he realized that his scar was prickling beneath his fingers.

There was no one there. And how was that possible? It had sounded as though someone had been standing directly behind him, lips at his ear, whispering his name as softly and clearly as though those two syllables held the most magic in the world.

Harry rubbed his forehead absentmindedly, as though the friction of his fingers could chase the prickling from his scar. He realized that his skin had erupted into goosebumps, and he removed his hand from his face to rub at his arms, trying to get rid of those, too.

The voice had first come to him three weeks ago, the first night after they had fled to Grimmauld Place.

He had been wrapped inside of a sleeping bag in the drawing room, eyes shut, feeling exhausted and troubled and afraid all at the same time. His mind was a mess of turmoil and fear, replaying behind his closed eyes the disastrous events of the wedding and all that had followed it over and over and over again. He knew the vast expectations that his friends had for him, the Chosen One, the Boy Who Lived, but he didn't know what he was supposed to do or how to do it, or even where to start looking. He was confused, and angry, and more scared than he had ever been in his entire life. And he had finally been drifting off to the sweet, promising escape of sleep when he'd heard a whisper, softly, from the dark, inner folds of his mind:

"Harry."

The sound of his name hadn't jarred him awake then, as it would three weeks later, but rather seemed to relax him further. He suddenly couldn't remember what it was he had been so upset about. He felt very comfortable, like he was sinking into a dark and smoky cloud …

"Yes, that's it, Harry … relax."

Wasn't there something familiar about that voice? But that should be a good thing, Harry thought to himself; if the voice was familiar to him, that meant he should trust it.

"Yes, very good, Harry. Relax. It is such a heavy burden that you bear … and you must be very tired."

He was tired, so tired. He was on the precipice of sleep now, flirting with the edge of the dark abyss that was simply dreamless, painless, fearless night. He was so close …

And then he felt it. At first, it was like a gentle itch inside his skull, barely noticeable, barely there. Harry probably wouldn't have even been able to tell that it was there at all if he had been any closer to that cliff, if he had just taken one more step off of the edge into sleep.

But then the itch began to intensify slightly, a soft, vague nudging at the back of his mind—no, not a nudging, a tugging, almost like … like

(an extraction)

a memory being removed to watch in a Pensieve. But he had never removed a memory from his mind before … how could he dream about something he had never experienced? Unless …

Harry attempted to drag himself from the seduction of sleep, of this dark cloud enveloping his consciousness.

"Harry."

There was a hint of something else to the voice now … annoyance? Anger?

"I need you to tell me something, Harry ..."

Something was wrong.

Harry began struggling now, eyes flickering madly behind his eyelids, but he was so tired, wasn't he? How was he supposed to wake up, to face his friends and their expectations and the world, when he was just so tired? It would be so much

(easier)

nicer to stay here, in bed, to step off of that cliff, to stay in this dark, warm space …

The voice seemed to come from very far away now, or was it just even closer?—muffled from the inner folds of his mind:

"Where are you, Harry Potter?"

(no no no no no no no)

The blurry image of Grimmauld Place began to rise, unbidden, before his inner eye. Harry felt himself struggling, thrashing beneath his bedcovers somewhere else, in another world, as he tried desperately to push the image of the street from his thoughts. He couldn't think of the number, he couldn't; he wasn't completely sure why, but he knew that to think of the number of the house, to picture it in his mind—it would ruin everything—

(no no no no no no NO NO)

"Tell me where you are!"

"No!"

And suddenly Harry had been thrown back into the drawing room, and he was sitting up in his sleeping bag, drenched in a cold sweat, breathing hard and fast and his heart beating even faster. He ignored Ron and Hermione's frantic questions as he fumbled quickly for his wand and his glasses—he needed to see, he needed to make sure—

"Lumos!"

He stared around the drawing room, his breathing harsh, wand raised. He realized suddenly that he was shaking, his scar burning across his forehead.

There was no one else in the room; there was only Ron and Hermione, staring fearfully at him and clutching at their sleeping bags, the frightened expressions on their faces eerie in his wandlight.

And the voice had gone.