Obviously, Harry had to escape.

The thought - the desperate graspings for a plan - throbbed through his head in the hours he was left alone.

He was an Auror! An ex Veteran! He couldn't just lay on the sinfully soft bed and surrender, or wait for rescue.

Unfortunately, however much he struggled against his carefully warded restraints, he couldn't budge them. His attempts to unravel the complex magic failed too, his spells sliding off LV's enchantments like oil slick on water. Bloody useless!

How good was the bastard?!
Clearly, the only way he would escape was if he the Dark Lord to take the padded shackles off first.

Harry wetted his lips and tried to think, straining for the sound of footsteps or any clue to his surroundings. Unfortunately, nothing he focused on was of any use.

Ginny's face persisted in his memory, twisted by fear and absence. Hermione - Ron - all the people hurt in the Diagon Alley attack.

Tom. His throat thickened.

What if he never escaped? What if he never saw any of them again? LV was hardly the sharing type. Harry did his best to shove the thought away, shuddering.

His stalker was even less pleasant a topic to consider. Especially when Harry remained bound essentially helpless and largely naked on the bastard's bed. A bed.

Harry swallowed hard.

His thoughts circled; around the cool and sibilant voice like the touch of frost against his cheek, to Ginny warm and fiercely encouraging, to Tom. Tom, Tom, Tom and the unreadable tempest locked behind his expression when he saw Harry with Ginny at the Ministry Cafeteria.

It would be a lie to claim the look had seared a simple realization. Tom wasn't everything. Harry wasn't struck with the knowledge that the other man was the only he wanted to share lunch with, let alone be with.

But he was something.

Harry yanked at his restraints once more, cheeks flushed.

Whatever Tom was or wasn't, he and Harry definitely wouldn't be anything if Harry didn't get out of this bloody mess. He needed to focus.

The door clicked open.

"I need to use the bathroom," Harry said. Oldest trick in the book, really, and not entirely a lie.

"Good morning to you too."His stalker sounded more amused than he had any right to sound. Calmer than before, at any rate - whether that meant something good or bad for Harry, he wasn't sure.

"Did you sleep well?" LV continued.

"As shocking as this may be to you," Harry said. "Being kidnapped by a genocidal Dark Lord is not actually the best atmosphere for a relaxed and restful recovery."

"Oh you've been in worse situations that this and survived, do not be so overdramatic." Chilled fingers took his pulse as the Dark Lord spoke, before a hand dipped trailing down Harry's exposed skin. Ghosting over various cuts and bruises - some new, mostly the old. "Where did you get this?"

Voldemort had paused on one of the particularly nasty ones. One of the ones that Harry actually remembered. The scar covered the expanse of Harry's left side, around the torso, splintering along his skin like the spider-webbing cracks on baked sand.

Grindelwald had left that one personally.

Harry's throat tightened, heart hammering even in memory. "Not your fucking business."

"I brought breakfast."

"Still not your fucking bus-"

Fingers pinched Harry's tongue mid-sentence, catching a sound in his throat as he gagged for a second, words silenced.

"Did Dumbledore's Army teach you such language? I'm not sure it suits such a pretty mouth."

Harry had some very choice foul language in mind as a response to that. As it was, he jerked forwards to bite.

LV's fingers must have shot back, because Harry only snapped air. "Fucking creep." Maybe it wasn't particularly wise to go out of his way to rile his captor up more.

His stalker sighed. A few moments passed in silence.

Harry could smell coffee. He figured, at least, that he would have to be untied to eat.

The warmth of a spell lit up his chest, and he jolted.

"Your wounds seem to be healing well," Voldemort said before Harry could open his mouth. "If you behave and do not attempt anything foolish, I will release you the day after tomorrow. Have you thought anymore about what I said last night?"

For someone who believed in ideas as archaic as Blood Purity, the supposed Dark Lord's tone sounded shockingly reasonable.

Harry would have glared if not for the blindfold still resting over his eyes. Maybe it was just as well. While he would never quietly step down and let Voldemort take over and implement such awful bigotry into larger practice, maybe he shouldn't act like a Gryffindor and tell the Dark Lord that either. Not if he wanted to escape.

Tom certainly wouldn't approve of such pointless defiance, especially when Harry would simply continue fighting against Voldemort when he was released anyway. If Voldemort couldn't realize that, that was his fault. Still.

"You mean about not making you my enemy?" he asked, to stall and give himself time. The first inklings of a proper plan, however dubious, began to form. "Backing off?"


Harry wetted his lips, heart racing triple the speed. "If I wasn't your enemy, what would I be?"

"...excuse me?"

"If I wasn't your enemy," Harry slowed his voice down to a mockery of over-pronunciation, unable to quite help himself. "What would I be?"

"As charming a Death Eater as you would undoubtedly make, I would hardly expect you to actively fight for Lord Voldemort. Your lack of involvement would be enough."

Harry set that aside to examine later, a strange feeling in his gut. Why would the Dark Lord, even in his obsession, be so indulgent? So lenient? How had LV's obsession even started?

"Would that really satisfy you?" Harry ventured, instead, mouth dry. "Is that really what you want with me?"

Voldemort's breathing sounded very measured - suspiciously so.

"You don't want me as your enemy," Harry said. "But I don't think you quite want just friends either." The bastard sent him roses for crying out loud! Attacked his lovers, not his friends. "You definitely don't want me uninvolved with you, do you?" He dropped his voice low, and struggled not to feel stupid and clumsy doing it.

He really wished he could see LV's face, all conveniences of criminal identification aside.

Fingers found his racing pulse once more. "How much would you be willing to offer then, Harry?"

Now Voldemort was concerned with what Harry wanted? He couldn't figure the man out.
Harry exhaled a breath. "Untie me and find out," he dared.

The silence stretched, cold and...something.

The Dark Lord's fingers spread over his throat. "You have the makings of a fine Slytherin." His voice seemed impossibly soft. "Do you even care about the hearts you play with?"

Harry's stomach dropped, not expecting the comment.
"I don't play with people!" he protested, automatically. But...hadn't that been his plan now? Take advantage of LV's longstanding feelings in order to make an escape?

That didn't bloody well count! He was a Dark Lord and a stalker who kidnapped him! And this was war.

Harry remembered the rain, all those years ago. The mint of Tom's toothpaste against his lips. His shoulders tensed, ears ringing even as Voldemort spoke again, tone shifted from whatever it had been. More business like, more distant. Dark Lord, over his stalker, perhaps.

"Bear in mind, of course, Potter, that you are still injured and in no condition to fight - and that my hospitality would not be as kind if you attempted it."

Harry didn't recognize Voldemort's voice, but something about it still nagged at him. A familiar mannerism of speech, something! But if Voldemort was LV, as he had concluded, Harry had known him at Hogwarts, hadn't he?

He wracked his mind and tried to think of any suspicious classmates, again.

God, Voldemort was young to be a rising Dark Lord.

Harry braced himself as he felt the lock on his wrists release, and pushed himself up. Abruptly dizzy with adrenaline, considering the dare he'd made before his restraints were undone.

Fingers caught and circled his healing wrists before he could reach for the blindfold.

Harry's breath stuttered, despite himself.

He could do this. He could still distract Voldemort, and then bolt. Follow through on his plan, regardless of the Dark Lord's words and tone before. The man had probably only been trying to manipulate him into being compliant anyway.

Harry parted his lips a little, a cold weight in his stomach. His muscles coiled tight.

Should he attack now? Voldemort would expect it now.

A mouth closed on his own, surprisingly warm despite the ice of the Dark Lord's hands.

Harry's heart stopped. All sound stopped.

The kiss remained chaste - a fleeting promise, or maybe a threat. Voldemort's lips vanished as quickly as they'd pressed against him.

"The bathroom is the first door, on the left," his stalker whispered.

Harry tugged the blindfold off the second his hands were free, meeting bloody, inhuman eyes. His own widened.

Voldemort looked skeletal. Hideous.

...why would he choose to glamour himself like that?

Goosebumps rose on his arm at LV's expression. He resisted the childish urge to hand a finger to his tingling lips.

...He didn't quite flee to the bathroom.

Tom closed his eyes as Harry disappeared into the bathroom, looking more like a deer in headlights than a man of his threat had any right to look.

In other circumstances, he might be thrilled that Harry looked that way after Tom kissed him.

Right now, a headache throbbed beneath his temples. Saving Harry might just have been a horrible mistake - certainly, talking to him for any length of time was.

Harry had an uncanny ability to get under his skin.

And that rather reptilian manipulation...he wasn't sure if he wanted to applaud him and be proud, or give him a taster of what exactly Lord Voldemort was capable of. Hold him down and watch him writhe and plead, so he didn't have to remember all of those years ago and the strangely hollow feeling in the pit of his stomach.

Pitiful. He wasn't that boy anymore, and nor would he want to be.

He heard the tap run in the other room, before Harry returned.

"Genuinely though," his prisoner launched into his latest attack. "If you're trying to make sure I heal up, keeping me locked up isn't helping."

He skimmed his gaze over Harry's body in an unashamed appraisal - knowing what Harry would assume of the origin of his attention, even as Tom himself focused on those scars again.

It would be irrational to be jealous of those who had taken Harry prisoner before him. Maybe his skin was supposed to crawl, knowing what had been done to someone that most people would likely call his friend.

Harry was probably traumatized.

The jealousy burned, dismissive of all logic or rationality. The only scars Harry had should have been because of him.

"I could release you to your safe house-" his lip twitched, thinking of that. The Ministry's idea of a safe house was a joke, hardly safe from him at all. Harry snorted at the same time. Their gazes met, Potter's a little startled, as he continued without pause. "-if you take a vow that you will no longer investigate the Lord Voldemort case."

He didn't need Harry involved with Lord Voldemort. He could have him as Tom Riddle, until the auror was no longer a threat to him.

"The Auror department does not negotiate with criminals," Harry said.

Tom's lips curled for a different reason, almost pitying. "Oh, Harry Potter. You're not on a soldier's battlefield anymore, you have no idea what your Ministry does."

Harry's fists clenched, even as he swayed on the spot, obviously still exhausted from the battle. Stubborn bastard. "Unless your negotiations involve minimizing bloodshed and the lives of those I care about, I have nothing to say to you."

Harry's voice and expression was cold.

It was disappointing, really. He wondered if things would be different if he talked to him as Tom Riddle, instead of Lord Voldemort. Was not naive or optimistic enough to bank on the thought, either way.

He gestured at the breakfast platter, squashing the increasing urge to crucio his guest. Sometimes, it was hard to remember why he ever enjoyed the fool's company.

"Do not overestimate your importance to me," he said.

He could practically see Harry's mind racing, as he picked at some toast, a strange blush of colour on his cheek. Still, the other man jutted his chin up. "Obsession's a funny thing."

Voldemort soothed his fingers over his wand in his pocket.
"My offer of leniency has a short life. I trust you are not so arrogant as to assume differently."

"I gathered that by your claim that you won't save my life again," Harry said - not sounding like he believed it.

He should have let his followers crucio Potter for longer. His eyes narrowed. Of course, maybe he'd been optimistic to assume Harry would be smart enough to grasp the full severity of this situation. Maybe he'd simply had too many expectations again.

He always expected too much of Harry.

(He knew better what Harry could be, from the child he'd once known.)

"You would not consider accepting my mercy for even a moment."

Harry was a fool of pigheaded recklessness and idiocy. He deserved any torment that came to him. Tom certainly wouldn't waste the energy to spare him again! Voldemort's blood boiled, however much he liked to think himself above such emotions.

"Turn yourself in, and accept mine," Harry snapped at him, eyes aflame. Bright and beautiful and fierce. "Because if Grindelwald didn't break me, you sure as hell won't."

And yet, the stubbornness doubled-eged the same unyielding strength, the power, that he'd grown up craving for himself.

Harry fought him with the same conviction that he'd taught Tom. The same conviction that inspired Lord Voldemort to change the world if he didn't like it.

Challenges, challenges.

He supposed Lucifer loved God even as he betrayed him too.

Harry didn't see Voldemort for the next two days.

He woke up disorientated in his bed, lips tingling with the memory of a kiss.

It bloody infuriated him.