Title: Yew and Holly
Disclaimer: We do not own Harry Potter, nor are we making any money by doing this.
Authors: ladyoflilacs and What-Ansketil-Did-Next
Summary: Harry brings his lover back to Britain to spend Christmas at the Weasleys. But things never go to plan when your name is Harry Potter – or your lover is Lord Voldemort. Takes place five years after the events of 'In Somno Veritas.' LV/HP.
Warnings: Angst, graphic violence, and scenes of a sexual nature.
Authors' Notes: Yes, we promised we'd write something for Christmas and here it is. We have most of it written already, so updates should be regular throughout December. We'd like to stress that this isn't a full, novel-length sequel to 'In Somno Veritas' and - though it's set in the same universe - you don't need to have read our other story to enjoy 'Yew and Holly'.
threshold - noun
1. a strip of wood or stone forming the bottom of a doorway and crossed in entering a house or room
[in singular] a point of entry or beginning
2. the magnitude or intensity that must be exceeded for a certain reaction, phenomenon, result, or condition to occur or be manifested
[as modifier] a threshold level
Shadows spilt across the room, slithering against the weak fingers of light that reached through the half-closed blinds. Crimson eyes blinked in slow self-regard, tilting toward their livid, curious reflection. Lord Voldemort sat in a pool of dark silk, spidery fingers stroking the glass. He toyed with the idea of illusionary charms, but his pride protested against any such measures, as he tapped a nail idly against the mirror. He had no desire to offer false comfort to anyone, let alone them.
Gaunt. Hairless. Pale. Inhuman. Perfect - according to Harry. His flat nostrils flared and he stood in a rustling hiss of fabric, restless with anticipation, gathering a cloak about himself. Thick with felt, heating charms, and sable lining, its black swathe enveloped him in warmth. The deep hood was left about his narrow shoulders. Voldemort sighed, gave the great snake who lay sleeping at his feet a final caress, and pulled on the pair of soft leather gloves he'd acquired in Peru, crafted especially to fit his thin, long hands. He had hoped never to return to England in December. The chill made him want to curl up by the fire with his Horcruxes and never emerge until spring. Or, better yet, remove them all to the antipodes and avoid winter altogether. The years had only worsened his reptilian intolerance of cold weather.
Harry, however, had other ideas. And – for reasons which Voldemort did not like to think of – he was obliged to indulge him.
London. He had never cared for it and now he was here once more, in winter, and under obligation to suffer a great many fools. A chime sounded. Foul language stuck in his throat and he hissed; Voldemort was unwilling to sully his mouth with obscenities as he glided toward the source of the sound. He was a lord and he would remain dignified. For the sake of his dear one, he could afford to be gracious even to a Mudblood and a blood traitor. He shuddered to imagine the get of Hermione Granger and Ronald Weasley – straightened to his full height – and opened the door with a disconsolate flick of his wrist, squinting in the brightness of the rare December sun.
It felt like no time at all since Harry had last walked down a snowy street with his two closest friends, and yet somehow, in the blink of an eye, they had grown up without him. Ron was - impossibly - taller and lankier. The spots on his face he had so agonized over as a teenager had vanished, and he now moved with an easy, loping grace he had never quite been able to master at the age of sixteen. And Hermione had grown into a beautiful, self-possessed young woman. They both smiled more easily, and they seemed to carry themselves with less weight. A world without Lord Voldemort, without darkness or fear - they had been living in it for years now, and they had blossomed.
Harry wondered what they saw, looking at him. What had his years with Voldemort done to his face, his mannerisms? How much could they see?
"Fred and George have been having great fun with him," Ron was saying as they walked. "Last time they came round for a visit, Tonks said his eyebrows were green and bushy for the next three weeks! He refused to turn them back."
"Yes, well, it's all good fun until he can't figure out how to get back to normal," said Hermione, but her mouth was twitching with a smile.
"Aw, c'mon, Hermione! Tonks can do it, too! And Lupin thinks it's a riot!"
They caught a bus near the cafe where they'd spent the better part of the morning. Hermione paid the driver with Muggle money, and Ron was utterly fascinated by the middle-aged woman sitting in front of them who was jabbering away on a mobile phone. Hermione spent most of the ride prying Harry with questions about all the places he'd travelled since he'd been away.
"You're incredibly lucky, you know," she told him breathlessly. "To see so much of the world and its magic, and with someone who knows so much about it!"
Ron tore his attention away from the mobile to give Hermione a sour look. "Yeah, except that it's You-Know-Who."
They got off the bus on a residential street on the outskirts of town. The tall city buildings had given way to flats and small houses. It was a quiet neighbourhood, with friendly people who mostly kept to themselves. Harry liked it very much.
"You're sure it's all right to simply… pop in on him like this?" Hermione asked. Though they were clearly trying to hide it from him, both his friends looked distinctly more and more uncomfortable the nearer they drew to their destination.
"It's hardly popping in when he knows that you're coming," said Harry, smiling. "And if he can't handle the two of you on your own, I'm not sure how we can expect him to spend Christmas at the Burrow."
Ron had gone rather pale. "And how will we know if he can't - er - handle us?"
He'll let you know, Harry thought dryly. "Relax, Ron. It'll be fine."
They turned down an icy path lined with bushes heavy with snow, leading to a small, unassuming house. Powerful magic rippled over them as they crossed through the wards keeping it hidden from their Muggle neighbours. Out of habit, Harry almost walked straight through the front door - but he caught himself with his hand on the knob. It would be good to at least give him a bit of warning.
The bell sounded faintly from inside. Then the door clicked and swung open into thick darkness.