"I thought I knew what it felt to hate."

Oh Lord, not another philosophical spiel on why Voldemort was the greatest man alive. Harry had found the man was full of them, an angry speech prepared for every slight, from a politician's cutting insult to the strawberry jam expiring before he got to use it all. Really, Harry appreciated Voldemort's rants when they were put to good use. Dirty talk, for example. Or when it flexed the Dark Lord's mental muscles in all the sexiest ways- Harry loved it when he was reminded of how much of a dark genius Voldemort was. But most of the time, and especially when, it all began with how much Voldemort hated something- they were all in for a bad time.

Harry looked up in the mirror, having been straightening his collar and wild fringe, and caught the Dark Lord completing the last bit of his work, pressing the Ministry of Magic wax seal on the folded parchment for a polished finish before his crimson gaze flickered to the reflecting surface. Harry shot a glance to where Ron was standing in the doorway to his large Undersecretary office (My office, he thought to himself, and I'll never get used to it, no matter how many gray hairs crop up from the stress of it). They were already over thirty minutes late to Lestrange's summer Gala, delayed because "No, Potter, this bill cannot wait- and if you don't read over it and sign it, I will do it for you."

Voldemort was such a controlling man when they were about to go socialize.

"Please, tell me what you hate," Harry finally replied absently, pivoting on his heel and making way towards Ron who was holding out his heavier outer cloak for him- Lucius insisted that even if it was in the middle of a boiling summer, the respectable Wizard always wore his formal outer cloak in public, and through various humiliating debacles, Harry had learned that what Lucius said about social moores was best left silently obeyed.

"Quite. My father. That wretched orphanage. Dumbledore. But you, Harry Potter," the Dark Lord paused as he too stood (out of Harry's chair, from behind Harry's desk- Merlin, he was so invasive). "I did not know what it was to hate until I met you."

Harry wished he could have pretended to blush but closed his eyes instead so he wouldn't be caught rolling them.

"Oh, darling, do you really mean it?" Harry cooed in a sweet voice. "I hate you too. So, so much. Forever."

Voldemort just continued to glare off into space- so moody- and took Harry's arm so he could be lead to the fireplace to Floo.

"Now stop moping; you've got Death Eaters to put in place, and I've got that politician from Communications to woo. Ron lock the do- oh thanks, mate. Watch your head once you get to Lestrage's; their hearth is a lot shorter. And anyway," Harry rambled on, smoothing out the wrinkles in Voldemort's sleeve, "I really don't want to see Narcissa if she catches us late again. Do you know what she did to me last time? Cursed me cross-eyed, that's what-"

"Lestrange Foyer," the Dark Lord snapped and a bursting of green flames cut Harry off.

Voldemort immediately left Harry's side once they emerged in the midnight black foyer- black marble, black hard wood, black banisters. Bloody morbid was what it was. He'd only ever had to endure one business visit to this lovely establishment so far, and he would have preferred to have kept it that way.

Augh, it reeked of Lestranges, and Bellatrix was bound to be skulking around somewhere, waiting for the moment Harry turned his back so she could torture him until his intestines fell out his back, the vindictive demon that she was. She probably spent her free time strategically plotting up different ways to melt his brain out his eye sockets without picking up her wand. (Her personality alone succeeded in this pretty well already.) And maybe Harry was being a bit paranoid, but the price on his head was getting fairly hefty in the black market and one must always be prepared.

There was a warm roar behind Harry that made him jump away from the hearth for fear of catching fire as Ron came through, dusting his shoulders free of power.

"I'll never understand it," he said buffing the buttons on his robe so they'd regain their shine.

"What, Britain Underground?" Harry asked, still caught up in the bounty for his dead body, then, thinking about that delegate who had quite the load invested in a Gringotts vault and what it could pay for (another secretary for him, part of him thought, because it should be a crime to have the amount of paperwork he had sitting at home) that he had tried to explain to Ron earlier and failed because he was never very good at explaining much- "Or Bulgarian politics?"

"No- neither, I mean... You. You and... him," Ron made a face that reminded Harry of when the poor boy had pulled his wand out of that ogre's nostril all those years ago.

Harry sighed, bumping a gentle fist into Ron's shoulder to try to appear casual and buddy-like. He didn't think he quite hit the mark when his friend raised his eyebrows in a condescending way.

"Listen, Ron. It isn't something that can be explained. Well, actually, it probably can be, but, one- I'm the wrong person for it, and two, I won't try because I am trying to spare you the migraine."

They made their way closer to the front where the foyer split into the dining room and the ball room. Music and conversation filtered around them in comfortable waves. Sure, they were in Rodolphus and Rabastan's house, and sure, Mr. and Mrs. Longbottom had been tortured on the very carpet and floor boards they walked, but as Harry had learned from his European travels, all balls were the same no matter the location.

"He hasn't got a face, Harry."

"What?" Harry balked at his friend. "Of course he's got a face. There's a big difference between not having a nose and not having a face. No nose-" Harry gestured to Voldemort's general vicinity in the ball with a lofty hand, "No face was Dolohov once Bill got done fucking him up in that last Death Eater v. Order brawl."

Harry couldn't keep from letting out a snicker, a little sad that Ron wouldn't get his high brow joke- paralleling Wizard bloodshed with Muggle court systems. He thought it sounded better than The Second Great War.

"That's another thing- you refer to all of this so lightly: the war, the gore, the deaths. Hermione really thinks you've gone mental. Have you stopped seeing your shrink?"

Harry wisely decided not to answer.

His redheaded friend did his best to imitate Hermione's scrutinizing look, but he only succeeded in looking confused. They came upon the ball, now in full swing, and easily stepped and weaved around dancers, each having much practice in these parties to be well adept at Wizard dodgeball. Both Ron and Harry had been smacked in the face by illustrious curls or the occasional elbow to learn quickly. The dance floor was a battlefield all on its own.

He was lucky Ron still didn't think Hermione would be safe coming to these galas- as the only Muggle Born in a sea of mostly Purebloods, it wasn't exactly her scene; sure, she was plenty strong enough to handle anything these days, but she tended to go easy on Ron when his masculinity was in question. It made him feel good when he thought he was protecting her. And Harry never liked for her to see the more ruthless side of himself when he was working anyway (the side that had all of the little ministry sheep walking circles for him or the side that took over when he snuck off to have a snog with Voldemort before dessert).

"And it's not like the nose is one of the major facial features for making expressions. Just jook at him-" Again, Harry made a general gesture to where Voldemort was listening to Bellatrix Lestrange crow about something or another (probably some innocent child she'd eaten the head off of or something). "He's having no trouble at all looking completely bored out of his mind. And you know that saying about men with large noses? You should hear the one I've got about men with no noses at all."

Ron suddenly looked rather green when Harry proceeded to wink at him.

"I thought you weren't going to try to explain," he muttered with a grimace.

They circled the perimeter of the ball chamber in reflective silence, thoughts erotic in nature, though the feelings attached quite different for each of them.

"Aah- there's Mr. Krastev bravely enduring Thicknesse. Want to watch me work?"

Ron was quite relieved that his friend's attention was pulled elsewhere- a thick looking man with a severely thin nose and heavy brows staring over the ever-snob faced Thicknesse's shoulder at the window opposite. Obviously whatever the Minister was saying wasn't very captivating.

"I'd rather not."

Harry couldn't blame him; "Very well. I'll see you later Ron. Don't forget to try to convince Abbot to donate to the Ministry's research project and get her vote. Luna should get here any minute with one of the Greengrass sisters, so you won't have to bear being the awkward guy for very long."

"That's so thoughtful of you, mate," Ron rolled his eyes, watching Harry grimace over his shoulder as he made his way over to the pair, but his friend didn't pity him a bit. It's what he got for thrusting information about Voldemort's cock in his direction when he hadn't wanted it.

Harry huffed inaudibly; business on the weekends should be outlawed.

"Minister," he greeted with a bow of his head as he approached Thicknesse. It was all pretense though- they knew who called the shots out of the two of them, who put the hours in.

"Potter," he replied out of sheer obligation- he wasn't well liked, and Thicknesse wasn't above making it obvious. Harry gave him a purposefully polite smile before turning his attention to Krastev.

"Ah, you must be our special guest from Bulgaria. I am-"

"Harry Potter, yes, Britain's esteemed Under Secretary," the man interrupted with a thick accent, extending his strong hand for a swift shake. "Even where I am from, you are not unheard of,"

Harry allowed his grip to linger on the politician's knuckles a second.

"And here I thought I'd finally be able to introduce myself," he mock-lamented with a winning smile. "Tell me, has my country been pleasing to you?"

Thicknesse looked scandalized; "Your country, Mr. Potter?"

"Semantics, Thicknesse; it's all semantics- I meant nothing by it," Harry's smile didn't slip as his gaze remained level on Krastev.

"This is not my first time in the United Kingdom, but it is my first social event here in many years. I admit, it has not disappointed me yet," the man graciously flattered in a deep voice that reminded Harry of the young Victor Krum. Foreigners, such a charming lot.

"I am relieved to hear it."

Another round of instrumental music rolled into existence, coming from the overhanging balcony at the front of the ball room where a just visible conductor was waving his wand in graceful arcs. It was almost as compelling as a duel.

"Perhaps we should take our conversation to a more quiet room?"

"Speculation before dinner? Are all of the delegates from Bulgaria so… rough?" Harry asked breathlessly.

Thicknesse gagged.

Krastev grinned. "Oh, yes, Mr. Potter. Shall we?"

Harry rested a friendly hand on Krastev's extended arm, led him away from both the dance floor and an indignant Minister. The poor man couldn't even squeeze a parting word in edgeways. They made their way past the Dining Hall and into a side room where sun would usually be glowing it a warm orange, but night had long since settled, so the House Elves had already lit the oil lamps, casting a golden glow of a different sort.

"How long will you be in the country, Mr. Krastev?" Harry asked as he took a seat on a short love couch, trying to look as regal and approachable as possible.

The man closed the door behind them, the noise of the party sealed away mid-song, their solitude decided.

"Please, call me Bojidar. And I will stay until my estate here in Britain is refurbished. I plan to make suitable living arrangements for my little sister, who has decided to come to your Wizarding school here when she is of age for attendance."

Krastev stalked like a tiger, sliding into the couch beside Harry.

"I have recently inherited a large sum from my late aunt, as I'm sure you're aware. I would be willing to pay quite a bit to ensure her comfort and safety, Mr. Potter."

Harry didn't have it in him anymore to blush. Instead he armed himself with his infallible boyish smile. "I am aware. And please, just Harry is fine. We are willing to provide what you need to feel confident your dear sister is protected, Bojidar. But I'm not after your money."

The man raised his eyebrows in mild disbelief, apparently thinking about his position now that Harry had given him a twist.

This was going so smoothly- so cleanly. If all the man wanted was some extra warding around his estate, hell, Harry could arrange that himself in a matter of hours. And as far as Hogwarts- how much safer could you get? True, Harry could attest to the contrary, what with all the breaches in security over the seven years he was at Hogwarts, but that was when Voldemort was trying to break in. And the Dark Lord wouldn't be doing that anymore because he practically owned the place now. Harry's personal experience was an outlier in the dataset and should be discounted. Probably.

Bojidar cleared his throat, and Harry immediately drew out of his scheming. "It is obvious there is some internal tension in Britain affairs at present. I am aware my invitation to this ball was extended to me in your hand writing, but by the will of a different man. Tell me, why has a Dark Lord grown interested in my small fortune? I am not the most blessed in my country- he must know that if he will not even grant me his presence. And I am not comfortable with my sister becoming a possible target for her connections with me."

"I can assure you that will never happen. I am not so underhanded that I would allow a mark be placed on a child," Harry said earnestly.

He was lying through his teeth, and Krastev knew it.

"Harry," he said lowly, deliberately. "My grandfather was in the era of Grindelwald, and he made it his duty to educate my family on Dark Lords and their machinations. In the interest of transparency and diplomacy, I would ask you to stop your games. What does your Lord want from me?"

And Harry always liked to play around with his jobs before the fun got spoiled. So much for that.

He sighed, before dropping the act. In place of his smile grew a darker smirk, eyes narrowing. This facial expression came straight from Voldemort himself, and was very handy when things got down to business.

"You have a small farm back at home for Dragon breeding, do you not? I find myself in possession of a Basilisk den and I need a terrain for them to be raised."

"You find yourself with a Basilisk den?"

Harry leaned forward trying to look a smidgen irritated, a little impatient. Just to make him think he was cracking.

"Bojiddar, I am housing a Dark Lord. And My Lord happens to be a King of Serpents, and is quite proud of it. Of course he has Basilisks; but there is not enough room in Britain to harness them. I shall like your farm."

"And my dragons? Besides, how can I breed and raise Basilisks if I cannot even look upon them?"

"We shall make arrangements in Romania with another Dragon breeder. And I will lend you a band of our blind Basilisk Keepers. As for your dear sister, we offer the full extent of our capabilities for protection. We do not involve children in our politics for the most part."

Bojidar looked stricken and ready to defend the ownership of his farm until morning; "You have already decided all of this and will bully me until I agree."

Harry reveled in his victory, gave a dashing sneer. "Does that surprise you?"

"You cannot just seize my property, Undersecretary!"

"Perhaps you should have considered this before accepting my invitation?"

"You cannot do this!"

"I think," Harry hissed, placing a tight hand on the man's knee and letting some raw magic static around them, "you will find that I can."

The door opened, and a very irate looking Hermione stood in its frame. Harry's sinister face melted away, and he backed out of Bojidar's personal space.

"Harry, sorry to interrupt. Have you seen Ron? I can't find him anywhere."

Harry looked his friend up and down, surprised to see her- dressed in shimmering dress robes that hugged her neck and waist finely, her hair pinned up in a high bun that rather reminded him of a young McGonagall. In her hand was a thick file, a quill tucked behind her ear. It seemed she was finished with staying behind.

"Probably in the lounge playing chess with people he pretends he doesn't like. If not there, I'd ask a House Elf to check the lower levels," Harry didn't say the Torture Chambers, because that was extremely morbid and off-putting, but one never knew when old grudges would stir up between Death Eater and Honorary Order Member. There was a rule that the old adversaries could fight it out one on one in certain designated dungeons until they worked it out or killed each other. You'd be surprised how many fought until they simply stopped and went out for a pint together after, tattered and bloodied and seemingly at peace.

Hermione huffed affectionately, a curl at her cheekbone floating upward before she smiled weakly.

"Thank you."

She shut the door behind her, and a silence settled. When Harry turned his gaze back to the man beside him, he had to clear his throat to get his attention again.

"Who was that?" Krastev asked. His voice sounded strained, impatient.

"An old friend," Harry answered carefully. "Now, about your farm-"

"You can have it," Bojidar jumped in, taking both of Harry's hands in his own, and staring into his eyes intently. "If you give me that young woman."

Harry blinked, trying to mask his surprise. He wanted Hermione in exchange for his acres upon acres of land that was probably worth hundreds of thousands? Well. It wasn't up to Harry to put a price on his friend's head. He did feel irrationally slighted, however. What did Hermione have that Harry's seduction had obviously lacked? But Bojidar's cheeks were flushed and his dark eyes wide. Ah, men.

So easy to sway with the scent of sweet flesh.

Harry smiled reassuringly.

"Done."

When Harry got back to the party, the majority of the guests had moved on to the feast. The musicians had moved to the other side of the balcony, where it nested over the large table people were already sitting at and digging in.

"Ah, there's Lady Malfoy looking absolutely ravishing," Harry hummed, bidding Krastev farewell (not that the man minded at all; he was already sniffing around for the fair lady who had captured the cockles of his heart and loins so easily).

Harry wound off to where Narcissa and Draco stood by the last windows overlooking a dreary garden (they were still in Lestrange territory after all, and none of them could claim to be master foresters). He got their attention with a light smile and a smooth hand on Narcissa's upper arm.

"My dear Lady Malfoy, you look positively stunning."

Narcissa gave a cold smile, appreciating the compliment.

"Get away from my mother, Potter! Get your hands off of her," Draco all but shrieked- quietly, mind, because he was in public, and if appearances didn't come first for a Malfoy, then Harry was sure the universe would fall out of balance (too much rich bitch on one side, and not enough class on the other).

"Are you playing white knight, Draco?" Harry teased, watching for that vein that would appear on Draco's forehead, his favorite feature of Draco's. It pulsed so satisfyingly when Harry irritated him enough. "Does that make me the impudent rogue?"

"I'm warning you, Potter!"

"I've told you I'm legal, haven't I?" Harry pretended to whisper, "If only you weren't married to that beast, Lucius."

Narcissa placed a hand on her own cheek, turning away from his face so that she looked offended despite the corners of her mouth showing otherwise; "Such a vulgar mouth! From a Halfblood, no less- it's downright shameful."

"You like my vulgar mouth, m'Lady; don't deny it. Especially because I'm a dirty Halfblood."

"Potter!" Draco exploded.

"Draco, why don't you go find Blaise? I do need to speak with the Undersecretary for a moment," Narcissa assuaged, brushing Draco's silky blonde hair away from his forehead with a gentle, calming gesture.

Draco huffed, probably upset that Harry got treated more like an adult than he did, despite him being a few months his senior. He wandered off obediently with a pout.

Narcissa scoffed; "You had better be more mindful of your mouth before you get in trouble, boy."

Harry looked off innocently; "Whatever could you mean?"

Narcissa looked extremely incredulous with her raised eyebrows and deadpan look- an expression rather inelegant of her. He decided not to try convincing her, instead placing her arm in the crook of his (despite her being quite a bit taller than him), and leading her with the flow of people headed towards the dining room.

"Though perhaps I could do with a little less penalty," he told the Mistress, thinking about the way Voldemort's face twisted into gleeful bloodlust whenever he was making Harry pay for flirting. But the Malfoys were so bloody gorgeous. He laughed quietly under his breath.

"Speaking of which, I believe you are being summoned," Narcissa murmured, looking on to where both the Dark Lord and Lucius stood near the archways at the head of the main table (there were smaller tables arranged around it, for the lesser ranks of Voldemort's company). They were looking right at the pair, and Voldemort had his hand raised, his fingers crooked and beckoning.

"It looks as though your punishments will not be lessening tonight, Mr. Potter."

Indeed, Voldemort was looking sour—something to be expected since he almost always looked sour- but there was something particularly enraged going on in that exotic face.

"Perhaps it was because you took your time with the Bulgarian delegate? Hasn't the Dark Lord warned you to never mix your work life with your play? I hear he's given you grief over your personal matters."

"Please. Krastev was more concerned with other pretty thing than he was with me. I am but an ornamental satellite to the Dark Lord's orbit in his opinion," Harry replied easily, sounding bitter even though Krastev's perspective was practically right on the mark. And besides, in Voldemort's words, Dark Lords do not get jealous. He knew no one else did it for Harry- he's been ruined by Voldemort's incomparable prowess.

He couldn't help but wonder how it was that Narcissa was still unaware of just how much Voldemort was involved in Harry's personal matters. He figured those in the know would have spouted off by now.

Harry didn't stall any further, weaving between Death Eaters and used-to-be-enemies with used-to-be-Orders- one big, happy, dysfunctional family, members of which occassionally beat one another bloody. He waved at Ron and Luna and Hermione as he passed them (and he was so proud of Hermione for stepping out and into the snake's pit tonight; she was so brave. He was sure she could handle Krastev's advances), and finally reached Voldemort's side.

"Having a good evening so far?" he asked pleasantly, "You look a little stiff."

Harry was referring to the angry wrinkles in Voldemort's forehead from his hard scowling and the vein protruding from his neck. He wanted to prod at the pulsing menace and eventually soothe it with his antagonistic, flirtatious jabs, but didn't want to press his luck.

"Mr. Potter, a word please," his voice was extremely strained, and Harry looked to Lucius with a questioning look only to find the little weasel had disappeared in the crowd. He held in a growl and turned back to the Dark Lord.

"I'll have you know, I've got Bojidar Krastev right where we want him. Fell in my lap within five minutes- all according to my" and here, Harry crossed his fingers, "carefully laid plans of course. The farm is ours when his sister starts Hogwarts next month-"

"Potter."

The Dark Lord's voice was more intense than the first time he said his name, and Harry finally looked up at the man directly, his forced smile slipping once he saw the fire burning behind the blood-crimson slits aimed at him.

"...Yes?"

"Come. Now," Voldemort said, and gripped the back of Harry's neck tightly.

He winced (skin to skin contact still reduced him into a shivering puddle because of that weird static burn that passed between them), and allowed Voldemort to swiftly lead him out of the Hall through a side door, not looking over his shoulder to see what his friends' faces might look like at the obvious aggression in Voldemort's nails. And really, what a terrible example it was for the children to see their parents in a tiff!

Voldemort should know better.

He was led down a dark hallway until they reached a stair well. The Dark Lord stopped, let his grip fall as he began to pace. Harry crossed his arms over his chest and tried his best to not look as incredulous as he was feeling. He could feel his wand tucked in the harness at his waist, warm and ready should he need it. It wouldn't be the first time Voldemort had initiated a random duel to relieve stress. When nothing was said- just the constant scraping of Voldemort's heavy footfalls on stone- Harry rolled his eyes.

"What's happened to piss you off, now?"

"I do not know why I agreed to humor your little peace stunt when I can hardly stand you and your company."

"Because I give amazing blow jobs?" he ventured a guess, trying to lighten the mood before things got deadly.

The taller man rounded on him, and suddenly, there was an iron grip around his neck and a rough wall in his shoulder blades; "Not everything revolves around you, Golden Boy. You are lucky your little Mudblood girl is still breathing-"

His voice was quite, high and biting, and had Harry been able to breathe, he would have replied with something equally as scathing. He hoped the sentiment could be read in his eyes. He wanted to demand what Hermione had done, and what the Dark Lord had done to Hermione, but he had seen her not thirty seconds ago alive and well and not bleeding anywhere at all- maybe a bit harried but she was surrounded by people who kept glaring down at her from their ridiculously high-pointed noses (and from the footnotes of history, inbreeding says to anatomy, you are welcome). What had Hermione done to turn Voldemort into (more of) a raging madman?

By now, Harry's lips were beginning to tingle, and the pressure behind his eyes was forcing them to water viciously. His lungs burned.

Hurriedly, Voldemort's other hand worked through Harry's first robe and began yanking roughly at his trousers.

"Yerrghvv kkghgh!" (You've got to be kidding me!) Harry choked out.

He managed to slip a few breaths in as Voldemort was too occupied with ridding him of his lower garments, as he couldn't work on choking him any longer. Harry's pants pooled at his ankles, one of his legs pulled up to Voldemort's waist so forcefully, his shoe fell off to hit the stone floor with a dull thump.

"Not everything is about you," Voldemort hissed again, almost sounding like he was talking to himself instead of to Harry, and, making sure that Harry's leg was securely hooked in place, grabbed Harry around the throat again, lined himself up, and muscled his way through Harry's clenching entrance dry the same time he cut off his airway.

They stood like that, Harry wishing he'd had the forethought to stop going commando everywhere he went but quite unable to think coherently anyway with the excruciating burn he was trying to cope with. Voldemort breathed harshly into Harry's mess of hair, as if rubbing it in his asphyxiated face that he could breathe in the first place. There was a crackle of pure, wandless magic that made Harry's fingertips burn, made the air heavy with the scent of simmering ashes. It was terrifying.

Voldemort leaned back, his other hand coming to join the first, leaving Harry completely suffocated- to admire, Harry realized through his hardly opened eyes. Admire how the blood rushed to pool in the natural dips in his face and the white around his green gaze, as if Voldemort's own irises were invading Harry (So invasive, he had said earlier).

The Dark Lord moved and Harry let out a muffled shout of alarmed pain, using his death grip as leverage to keep Harry's body suspended in place, and finally, with the shock of tearing and ripping going from Harry's arse to his back and beyond, he brought his hands up to fumble against his frenzied partner's. Their gazes locked, and Harry's struggling and gurgles made Voldemort's eyes burn brighter.

It's a turn on for him, Harry realized, gnashing his teeth desperately when he gave a harder thrust that had Harry's entrance involuntarily clenching- the very last thing Harry wanted to do, and the resulting pain was so blinding he thought it might actually make him pass out.

Voldemort grinned in reply, his hands wrapping tighter until his fingers could thread together at the base of Harry's hair line.

The attack was relentless, the penetration brutal at best. Harry's vision became blurry, and it wasn't just because of his glasses getting knocked off. He grit his teeth and finally let his eyes close, the pressure in his head almost comparable to the burning he used to tolerate from his scar. His arms grew warm and weak, unable to push anymore and resorting to just gripping scaly wrists for the sake of it. The burning in his lungs shadowed the cold feel of Voldemort's kiss, the ache in his throat muffling any stimulation that the dry fucking hadn't abolished. His head would have lulled forward if not for his neck being unable to move.

He passed out before Voldemort finished, but the first thing he said when he came-to was a hoarse "Guhgh!" getting a taste of the stone floor as his face was pressed against it. His breathing was wheezy, and he couldn't blink the black spots in his sight away.

"What the fuck-"

He winced as a searing pain throbbed at his tonsils, and a pair of hands pulled him up by his shoulders until he was leaning into robes he knew by the smell, by the feel. He leaned against the Dark Lord and closed his eyes, just focused on breathing, and how thankful he was that he could. Voldemort stroked Harry's hair, petted him, as if he was trying to soothe him, and licked long stripes up the tender length of his neck, collar to jaw and again. He placed kisses to the tear streaks that Harry hadn't been aware of previously down his hot face, rubbed his sides.

He felt cloudy, dizzy, but not enough to curb his anger; "A lubricating charm," he forced out, on a voice that cracked and gargled, and pinched Voldemort's arm as hard as he could, "At the very least, you bastard, a lubricating charm."

Needless to say, Harry went home after blasting Voldemort with a bout of his own Wandless magic through the wall he'd been violated against.

Not bothering to go to a healer for his injuries, Harry had rubbed some salve in the worst of it and left it all to heal on its own (because mad or not, there was something fucking hot about having purple hand prints around his neck. Not so much scabs in the lining of his rectum, but nothing an Episkey couldn't handle.)

He spent his Sunday wearing a turtleneck.

"Harry!"

He jerked violently at the sound of a door bursting open and the furious call of his name, spilling hot tea in his lap. Harry groaned, trying to sop the mess up with a napkin before it stained as Ron appeared around the corner of Harry's front foyer and into the kitchen.

"You could have knocked," he deadpanned, showing the wet patches on his crotch as he set his cup down dejectedly, "Or used an inside voice. Either one would have been preferable."

"I don't give a shit!" Ron shouted, still advancing. He grabbed Harry's shirt at the shoulder, forcing him to stand up, and Harry put his hands up in an asking for peace sort of way, "Give me one reason why I shouldn't hex you!"

"I bought you that raunchy mag for your birthday and promised to never tell anyone about it?"

Ron's face went blank for a second; "You did?"

Harry gave a hesitant slow nod, relieved, but Ron scowled again.

"Never mind that! What the hell do you mean by telling some guy from Bulgaria twice our age a thumbs up to having a go with Hermione? You gave a stranger permission to pursue your best mate's fiance!"

"She said yes then? To your proposal, I mean,"

Ron took a step back and threw his hands up.

"Of course she bloody well said yes! Harry, what the fuck is wrong with you?"

He resisted the urge to roll his eyes; "You're exaggerating. Hermione can handle Krastev. It's not like she would have agreed to any of his courtship anyway," Harry narrowed a stare at Ron's flushed face. "You haven't beaten up Krastev, have you? Threatened him in any way?"

"And why shouldn't I? You should have seen him trying to make a pass at her every few seconds last night, as if she were some object you can pass off to the first bidder! And on top of Hermione threatening Voldemort- if he so much as touches her, I'll sic Fred and George on him."

Harry paled. "You're bluffing."

"Then, if he's still alive, I'll tell Bellatrix he's planning to assassinate your precious Dark Lord," he insisted.

"I have business with him, Ron-"

"Your business with your best friends is supposed to come before your business with cradle snatching politicians!"

"Okay," Harry sat at his table again, placating his friend, "I'll make another deal with him. I'm sorry."

Ron looked at him for a long time before shaking his head.

"That's just it. You're not sorry at all. You don't care that you used Hermione- practically your sister, Harry- as a bargaining chip for a raise or because your Lord said so. You spend more time up Lucius Malfoy's arse than you do at the Burrow. We're your family; not them,"

Ron looked at him imploringly, and he looked away some-what guiltily.

"I visited last Sunday for Ginny's birthday,"

"A twenty minute cup of coffee before you went off to go see him!"

Harry cut a glance at him; "I have a pretty demanding job... And he has a name, you know"

Ron swatted at the air with a hand, as though swatting Harry's words like a bug.

"And what do you mean Hermione threatened Voldemort? Does she have a death wish or something?"

Ron just narrowed his gaze at him, not bothering to be diverted.

"Hermione said she's seen those nasty books lying around your study: Merlin's Guide through the Darkness, Parselmagicks, Perry's Book of Illegal Poisons; you've been using the Dark Arts... liberally! You're... you're dark, Harry."

He sucked on the inside of his cheek and glanced around the room in a slow circling path, gesturing vaguely.

"Not liberally."

Ron heaved a breath, his shoulders relaxing in defeat, Harry hoped.

"Anyway, Hermione told him to stop infecting you with his negative energy and told him that it was his job to take care of you and-" Ron made a face like he was going to be sick, and Harry reached for his garbage bin with his foot and nudged it towards his friend pointedly, "And that if he was going to monopolize your affections, he had better start making this country a safer place for you or she'd be taking you away."

"She said what?"

Well, no wonder Voldemort was pissed. Harry didn't feel guilty at all for putting Hermione in the jaws of a perverted old man- it was her fault he got mauled!

"She's crazy, I know. But I kind of think she has a point- we agreed to rule with him because it was the most balanced way to end the war. You're not supposed to be converted!"

Harry waved him off. What a bunch of hippogriff shit- he wasn't being converted.

There was a beat of silence.

"What the hell happened to your neck by the way?"

Harry fixed his turtleneck, from where it had been pulled down by Ron's earlier roughing-up, before shooting his friend a saucy smile.

"Something kinky."

Perhaps Ron was right, Harry reflected later that week. He was being a bit self-centered, a little callused, getting so wrapped up in the icky-sticky personalities at the Ministry and in Voldemort's ranks. But that was to be expected- one couldn't advance without first assimilating. He wasn't dark... He was just. Not light. And it wasn't like Ron and Hermione were beacons of innocence. Hermione had played just as big a part in building the current Wizarding Britain as Harry, and Ron had been right there beside them. Why wasn't Ron complaining about Neville going off on missions with Avery and Mulciber at the end of every other month? Or that Luna had been infiltrating the Unspeakables? When in Rome, and all that.

Harry frowned, staring down at the papers in his hand without actually seeing them.

"This is why one should never go to bed without first making up," he muttered to himself, casting the papers on his desk and leaning back in his chair.

He looked across the room where the portrait of his parents hang, and Dumbledore beside it. He looked very interested in what Harry was thinking. I bet you are, he mentally snarled.

"I don't suppose you have anything to say about this?"

Dumbledore smiled benignly; "My boy, I never thought I'd see you go into government affairs. I must admit seeing you like this and what happens in this office-"

Harry winced. He might have gone down on Voldemort in here more than once when his youthful lust got the better of him. It made looking his at parents in their painted faces a little difficult.

Dumbledore gave a meaningful cough.

"I am proud of you, Harry. While I might have preferred you make different decisions on a few certain issues, I cannot deny that you have become quite the remarkable young man."

Dumbledore's most recent theory was that with Harry's slow influence on Voldemort's heart, this would be a loophole to fulfilling the prophecy: the Dark Lord was technically just a set of ideas Tom Riddle placed himself behind. If Harry's influence killed those ideas, the Dark Lord would die as well. What Dumbledore seemed to not realize was that in reality, it was the other way around. The Golden Boy was being tarnished, one virtue at a time. Slowly. Thoroughly.

Harry shivered.

"Oh shut up, you old goat," Voldemort snapped. "We know exactly how you would have liked all of this to end."

And speaking of the Dark Lord, he happened to be seated by the window, doing nothing but sulking about his office because Harry had been giving him the cold shoulder ever since that last encounter.

"I'm sorry dear, did you say something? I can't hear you around the enormous size of your ego."

Voldemort glared at him.

"I don't wish to be the bringer of bad news, my boy," Dumbledore was saying, stroking his beard, "But you deserve better."

Harry clicked his nails on the surface of his armchair and glanced back at his work without having the intention of doing anything with it; "Preposterous. Voldemort is the strongest and smartest wizard alive. If I deserved better, I'd have to start fucking myself."

Dumbledore and Harry's parents made faces at his crassness.

"Are you suggesting you are a better match for yourself than I am?" Voldemort asked, his head tilted upward in a peevish manner.

"Did I hurt your feelings or something?" Harry snorted rudely, rotating his chair so that more of his body was turned away from the Dark Lord.

"I can't help but feel you are mad at Tom for some reason, Harry," Dumbledore hinted.

"That artist really captured your intuitiveness, Professor."

The old man smiled obliviously.

"Weren't you the one who claimed to love me?" Voldemort purred, standing up, and prowling around the desk, ignoring the late Headmaster.

"Love you?" he shouted in alarm, looking up at him.

"Is it so impossible?" Voldemort whispered, crouching so that he was caging Harry in his chair. He put his white hands over his smaller ones on the arm rests.

"In fact- it is!"

Dumbledore sniffed.

"It is!" Harry insisted at the old man, "And shut up- snake-face is right; it's got nothing to do with you."

"Snake face?"

"I hate to break it to you love, but you looked better under that turban."

"I would suggest couples counseling."

"That's it!" Harry snapped, pointing his finger and craning his neck to glare at Dumbledore from behind Voldemort's broad shoulders, "You're getting removed! Severus Snape has just inherited a Dumbledore portrait."

A hand grasped his chin to bring him back to the Dark Lord's looming face; "Who is it crooning and sighing about how much he loves my scales all day?"

"I can like your scales and hate you! I'm a brilliant multi-tasker. And what are you doing in here all the time anyway? Haven't you got your own office? Your own half of the country to rule?"

"And who gave you the half you rule, hm?"

"Just get out of my office!"

"Now you're being evasive."

"You're being invasive."

"Come here, Harry," his voice was low, gruff, and even though the man was already in Harry's personal space, there was still half a foot between their faces. He wanted Harry to close the gap. Lazy. Coward. Arse!

"The last time you said that it was so you could strangle me- over something Hermione said!"

"Is that was happened to your neck?"

This time, they ignored Dumbledore altogether.

"I think everyone in this room can safely say they're not buying your injured lover act. I'd like to remind you that it was you who assaulted me first. On the Malfoy dinner table. In front of my Death Eaters."

"You sent them out before anything happened!"

"Just admit that you're a kinky wretch and you liked getting strangled," Voldemort was almost purring now, his fingers caressing Harry's face delicately.

"How about you admit that you were in the wrong for damaging my precious insides? I need those, you know- like for the rest of my life! I am this close- this. Close... to testing out that new Belgian curse on you if you don-"

"Shall I be gentle tonight then, child? Touch you softly where no has before?"

He fought Voldemort's hands off of him and rolled his desk chair to the other side of the room in a tactical retreat.

"There is no tonight, you wanker."

"Right now, then?"

"Piss. Off! You're just pouting because you got scolded by Hermione."

Voldemort hissed, took four large steps until he was hovering over Harry again, and grabbed him up by the front of his robes.

"Your little Mudblood walked away unscathed. I can remedy that at any-"

"I will raze you and all of your Wizarding Britain to the ground if a hand is laid on her," Harry snarled as he was shoved onto his own desk, legs sprawled apart.

He whipped his wand out and pressed it into the man's neck.

Voldemort made a guttural snorting noise, and with the barest of effort, yanked the holly right out of his hand and turned it so that he was the holder.

"Thank you," with a flick, Harry's robes were banished, and to be honest, at this point he wasn't really putting up much of a fight.

"Is sex really all you can think about?" he asked up at the man as he pushed his robes up so that his bare groin could rest solidly on top of Harry's balls.

"It works infallibly when I need to assert my dominance over you," he agreed smugly, digging his long nails into the smooth flesh of Harry's backside. "What was it you said the other night? Ah, a lubricating charm at the very least, and me, being the merciful Lord that I am, shall grant the very least to you."

Voldemort waved Harry's wand and he narrowed his eyes as a foreign warmth oozed in deep places it didn't belong. Still, Harry shuddered, and the movement caused Voldemort to grin evilly. He pushed all the way in, in one go, and while it did still burn, Harry clenched his teeth and hummed, the force of the thrust knocking him forward until his head hung off the back of it. He saw the picture of Dumbledore and- was the man blushing?

"Now, look into the eyes of your precious headmaster while Lord Voldemort forces you to submit."

Technically he'd already submitted, but that didn't mean Harry couldn't pretend.

"Never!" he snapped, playing the role, but the anger in his face quickly drained away as the Dark Lord began a slow, sure rhythm that had his toes curling around the wood of his desk and the whites of his eyes showing. The rest of his protest dwindled off into a series of keening moans- he'd never get used to this. Never.

Like last time, white hands trailed up to Harry's throat, but instead of gripping like he feared (anticipated, hoped) they would, Voldemort cupped the back of his neck and leaned down until Harry had to cross his eyes in order to see him in focus.

"You will never be satisfied with any other, Harry Potter."

Oh yeah, it was Harry who would never be satisfied with any other. He hadn't ever seen Voldemort looking at the bunch lined up and ready to jump into the Dark Lord's sheets in any consideration. But it was Harry who would never find sexual solace in another.

Maybe, Harry considered as the rest of their tryst dissolved into grunts and clawing and kisses that might have had a hint of tenderness in them; maybe there was a slight chance- a very slim, minuscule chance- that Harry held some form of twisted, unhealthy and definitely damaging love for this man.

"Just... just shut up," he finally gasped in a spectacular and oh-so creative parry, completely resistant and not at all happy at this new, secret admission.

Voldemort smiled- an out of practice almost grotesque hybrid of cringe and smirk before settling into a charming, very real smile.

Harry felt his stomach do that pesky flipping thing that happened whenever the Dark Lord did something especially cute.

No- never. Harry groaned in embarrassment and pushed Voldemort away by pressing his palm into the man's chin who took pleasure in the resurgence of resistance, mistaking the red flush on his chest from Dumbledore's presence (but the man had at some point long left his portrait, so the point was moot).

What was Harry thinking- love? Voldemort?

Impossible!