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The Fall

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There was a moment, only a moment, in which Harry wished to turn around and abandon his plans in the forest, but if he stayed he’d be damning everyone he loved. This was the right thing. He kept telling himself that over and over as he made his way deeper into the Forbidden Forest.

Only after he had spoken to the ghosts of his past did his faltering resolve return with vigor. This was absolutely the right thing. He had to believe that Ron and Hermione would kill the snake, that they would tell everyone why Voldemort would soon be easy enough to kill. He had to believe that their determination would not waver in mourning for Harry.

He wanted to turn back so badly.

A noise to his left startled Harry from his thoughts. He stopped dead and held his wand, ready to attack. The disarming charm was barely on his lips before Draco came crashing through some brush, disheveled and covered in twigs and dirt. Harry lowered his wand, confused and then suddenly worried.  “What are you doing here?”

Draco looked Harry up and down and grimaced. “You can’t do this.” He exhaled, moving to grab Harry’s wrist. He was prepared to drag the Chosen One back to the castle if he had to.

Harry wrenched his arm away and scowled. “Go back to the castle, Malfoy. Go…where it’ll be safe.”

“No.” Draco stood resolute. “You can’t do this.” He repeated, something in his voice wavering. “He’ll kill you.”

Rolling his eyes, Harry wanted to scream ‘No duh’ but kept it to himself. Instead he sighed. "I know." Could he tell Draco then, what his friends already knew? Or had saving his life from the Fiendfyre just been a one act show?

Draco didn’t understand. Of course he couldn’t understand. He wanted to smack the stupid prat because how could he? How could he want to die and leave everything behind?

"There's no other way." Harry mumbled as he resumed his walking.

Draco followed behind, trying to think of anything to stop him. "There’s got to be."

Harry kept walking but he looked sidelong at Draco over his shoulder. "Why do you care? Your family will be back in his good graces soon enough." He hadn't meant to sound so cruel but the words spilled forth unstopping. He could feel Draco's resolve get colder, more defensive but Harry kept on walking. It wasn’t as if the past few years hadn’t happened, that their hatred towards each other was a figment of their imagination. "Go Draco, if they see you with me they'll think it’s a trick."

"That's it!" Draco exclaimed. If there were any forest animals around them surely a few would have jumped and bolted at the sudden noise. Harry shushed Draco immediately as they both stopped in their tracks.

"What's it?" He asked, grabbing Draco’s arm to pull him closer so he could talk quieter.

Draco would have smiled at his brilliance but he couldn't quite bring the corners of his mouth up. "We could trick them."

Harry stared, a bit baffled at the suggestion, for a few seconds before actually rolling his eyes. "Malfoy..."

"No listen. I'll hide myself...somewhere...and then distract everyone. Then you can get your shot in."

Again, Harry seemed baffled, almost confused as to what Draco was saying. "My shot in?"

Draco stared, a bit frustrated that Harry wasn't on the same wavelength as him. "To kill the Dark Lord."

Harry stared dead pan back at Draco. Sure killing Voldemort would have essentially been the inevitable plan enacted in his name from those that meant the most to him but he needed Draco to get far far away. He couldn’t be seen working on the side of good. "I-I can't do that. Do you know what you’re asking to do?"

"What?!"

Again, Harry tried to shush Draco.

"What do you mean you can't do that? What is the point of this war if not to end it by killing you or him?" Draco seemed incredulous. How could this have been the conversation they were having when he was envisioning the righteous Harry Potter to agree at once to end his mortal enemy?

“I have to try.”

“Try. What.” Draco was almost seething at the ineptitude that was Harry James Potter.

Harry took a deep breath. He was so tired. Tired and grimy and worn out and in the end he just wanted it to end. Talking to his loved ones solidified his desire to be with them. He couldn't disappoint them now. He looked away for a moment at his feet, his shoes covered in as much dirt and grime as the rest of him was. “I have to see if he can stop all of this. I have to at least give him a chance.” Though some of that may have been true, he couldn’t quite bring himself to tell Draco that he knew he must die for the war to end. “If he could feel remorseful-”

A sickening crack resonated the forest around them as Draco reeled back and punched Harry square in the jaw. Harry staggered back but was caught by a nearby tree. He was stunned for sure, if only surprised at what Draco had done. He stared wordlessly at the blonde who was now huffing and puffing with rage.

“Are you so stupid as to think the Dark Lord capable of feeling anything but destruction? He doesn't care for your stupid feelings or your desire for a better world because to him a better world is one where you aren't in it.” Harry continued to stare, dumbstruck at the words, the emotion spilling from the youngest Malloy. “He doesn't care what you want and he doesn't care that you'll try.”

Harry knew it, knew what Draco and everyone else back at the castle would want. For him to come back, to be safe, to win. Isn't that what he wanted a long time ago? He rubbed his sore jaw and stood, resolved to tell Draco the truth.

“He can’t die while I live.”

Draco stopped his raving, all color draining from his face. He had a lot more to say and felt a certain loss at the words Harry had spoken. “What do you mean?”

“I have a part of his soul inside me, just as the snake does in it. While we both live he can’t die. I have to die if only to lessen his odds.”

The silence between them was a bit deafening and went on for what seemed like too long. When Draco spoke, it was barely above a whisper.

“I’ll kill Nagini.”

Harry stared, a feeling like he had never known to grow for Malfoy did in that moment. Draco’s rebellion against the dark side, against a life he may be giving up, was enough to solidify Harry’s trust.

“I hope so.”

Then they began to walk.

At some point, Harry hadn't known when, Draco silently hung back and moved about the trees to get into position. Harry kept going, his feet hit the solid dirt with heavy thumping. His heart beat in his chest. Draco had made his decision and Harry wouldn’t deny him of it.

He made it to the clearing where Voldemort and his followers stood waiting for him. Hagrid shouted something but Harry couldn’t quite hear him. His heart pounded loudly in his chest as his eyes caught those of the Dark Lord before him.

Harry tried to calm his nerves. His hands balled into fists, nails digging deep into his palms. He breathed in and out and Voldemort smiled.

“Harry Potter.” Voldemort spoke, the air chilling around the clearing. “The Boy Who Lived…come to d-“

A bright light flashed green between the two and hit the ground opposite where it had come from.

Draco had shot too soon, but he had struck his target. Nagini crumpled to the ground and died.

Chaos erupted just as the ground had when the spell had struck. Harry turned to see Draco just as Voldemort hissed and raised his wand in defense. Bellatrix gasped loudly before she too raised her wand. She spent no second of delay however before shooting a hex towards Draco.

Narcissa cried out somewhere behind the group as Draco narrowly dodged the attack.

With everyone looking at the distraction, Harry raised the wand in his hand and pointed it at Voldemort. The time span of two seconds seemed to pass by in minutes. Red eyes shifted from the tiny battle to see Harry and the wand. Harry could feel the spell on his lips, the most forbidden of the forbidden, and sense the rise in his magic as it started at his feet and crept up along his body. He could feel it in his chest and gripped the wand tight as it moved down his arms into his hands. If he could coax Voldemort to use the same curse on Harry then he could end this swiftly and justly.

He wasn’t sure what look passed by on Voldemort’s face for if it had been a normal human face it could surely have been shock, surprise even, and a flash of fear. His mouth seemed to open as if to be ready to counterattack.

Harry could do it, he could say the curse.

The Killing Curse.

The words began to force their way past his lips before something suddenly struck him from behind, hard. Harry stumbled and felt the grip on the wand loosen. He tried to look over his shoulder as he heard a sickening cry come from somewhere near him. One of the Death Eaters had flown behind him and cracked him over the head with a heavy rock. It continued to levitate in the air before coming down on Harry’s head a second time.

Though Harry would have immediately have passed out from the pain as he fell, he lay there, vision suddenly blurry and a sickening hollow feeling formed in the pit of his stomach. He looked up, watching a fuzzy version of the Dark Lord glide towards him and just as long fingers ran themselves through his hair and grabbed a good chunk, he heard Voldemort laugh and then darkness enveloped him.

Chapter Text

The sound of a heavy door closing woke Harry.

For a few disorienting seconds he just laid where he was, opening his eyes and half expecting to see anything familiar in front of him. Only when his eyes focused behind his glasses and his proper vision returned did Harry bolt upright. He immediately regretted this decision just as a shooting pain struck him, not at his scar, but throughout his entire head.

He remembered the rock coming down on him once, twice, and felt in the back for the wound. A substantial amount of blood had matted his unruly hair but it was cracked and dry. How long had he been out?

When his head eventually formed some semblance of steadiness, Harry stood and looked around the room. It was made of nothing but stone; the floor, the walls. Harry shuffled towards a small window, just big enough to fit his arm through. He could hear the ocean and feel the sunlight on his hand. For a moment he thought they were on a beach somewhere but when he stood on his toes to peer out through the hole in the wall he saw only water, no land in sight.

Something stirred and groaned to the left of Harry and he turned swiftly to see a very dazed Draco waking up. There was silence for a moment before Draco whipped around. His eyes caught Harry’s and all color drained him from his already pale face.

“Where are we?” Draco’s voice sounded gruff, unused, but he cleared his throat and tried to speak again and failed.

Harry moved away from the window and sat down next to Draco. “I don’t know. Somewhere far away. I think the middle of the ocean.”

If there had been a hint of color left in Draco’s face it would have disappeared instantly. Instead he sat up and stared at the iron door opposite the window. Harry followed his gaze and noted that this must be the heavy door he heard upon waking up. It was iron and old with a flap at the bottom and a tiny door at the top. There were no bars or gates on either side of the door, only stone.

Harry wanted to apologize to Draco, to vow that he’d find a way out of this prison cell but just then the iron door swung up, groaning loudly.

Voldemort emerged over the threshold and grinned.

Draco scrambled back as far as he could get which startled Harry. He would have moved but he felt glued to his spot on the floor.

Harry looked up at the Dark Lord as he glided into the room. Anger instantly rose in his chest and his hands began to shake, in fact the rest of him was beginning to shake as his anxiety grew. “Wh-“

“Crucio.”

Screams erupted behind Harry as Draco was hit with the curse neither were prepared for. He’d been thrown to the floor, his back arching unnaturally high, and his limbs jutting in odd directions. His screaming intensified as they bounced off the walls around them.

Harry was so shocked it took him a second to get to his feet. He yelled at Voldemort but couldn’t tear his attention away from Draco. “Stop! Stop!” And Voldemort complied. He ended the curse and Draco fell to the ground.

Tears that came instantly with the pain fell down the blonde’s face as he lay seemingly broken on the floor. He whimpered, his eyes wide like two silver orbs as he turned to look at Harry and then at Voldemort.

They had no time to take a breath before Voldemort again simply muttered. “Crucio.”

Draco’s body contorted in ways almost inhumanly possible. His screams continued to echo around them all, piercing Harry’s ears and drowning out any other noise. He turned then to face Voldemort. “Stop! You’ll kill him!”

Voldemort’s gaze shifted from the delightful sight of Draco twisting in agony, to Harry, and his expression halted in the stare. Green so vibrant, so bright, so clearly distressed stared back him, horror stricken. The Dark Lord ceased his torture on Draco immediately but he continued to stare back at Harry with an almost contemplative look on his face.

Then without a word, Voldemort turned and swiftly left the cell, slamming the iron door shut behind him.

Harry stood there, confused and strangely heart broken, not sure if his hearing had failed him or if Draco had stopped screaming. He turned and hurried to other’s side, kneeling and trying to examine what he could. Draco stared up at him, too weak to move at the moment.

They both waited for Draco’s rapid breathing to calm before Harry helped him up, sitting him back against the wall. Harry’s eyes found Draco’s again and at the sight of the other’s tear stained face his own began to well up.

“Draco, I’m so sorry.” The words came out cracked and half wilted as Harry’s resolve began to slowly drain away.

The small patch of sunlight the tiny window afforded the room had gone out, alerting Harr that time had passed and it was night. Both had not moved since the Dark Lord had left. Draco had eventually passed out, slumped against the wall, his head resting forward and his messy blonde hair obscuring a bit of his face. Harry stayed awake though, adrenaline still pumping through his veins, thoughts running wild in his mind. He watched Draco’s even breathing, in and out, in and out, and it became a calming rhythmic thing to watch.

A chill had set in and caused Harry to finally stir. He walked to the small window and stuck his hand out to feel the outside air, a shaky sigh escaping his lips. He couldn’t stay there forever though and moved to sit down beside Draco, wondering if the blonde would mind if Harry sat as close as possible. For now that meant arm against arm, shoulder against shoulder. Draco made a small noise but never woke and eventually Harry felt sleep crawl into his bones. He leaned his head against Draco’s and sighed again, heavy eyelids finally closing.

Again, the sound of a door closing jolted Harry awake and as he sat up he bumped Draco awake in the process. He looked around to see if anyone had come in but all he saw was a tray with plates of food sitting by the bottom flap of the door.

Harry didn’t have much of an appetite but he shuffled to stand and walked over to the tray anyway. Draco yawned and watched Harry bring the tray back to them. He too didn’t have an appetite but Harry offered him first pick.

“I’m not hungry.” Draco mumbled, trying to stretch and failing as he grimaced from a pulled muscle.

“I don’t care. You need to eat.” Harry’s word were resolute. Not wanting to start a fight, Draco begrudgingly grabbed a roll and took a bite out of it. As he chewed his eyebrows raised and he nodded towards the food as if to silently tell Harry he needed to eat too.

They sat there together and ate the food off the tray, eyeing each other. The shift between them had been sudden and though Draco had offered to sacrifice himself by helping Harry in the forest, the shift only now seemed to be a big effect between the two.

A quiet understanding that neither was the enemy towards the other anymore.

They were in this together.

After a few silent minutes, Harry finished off the last of their divided food and sighed. “Why are we still alive?” He felt the words he’d spoken wash over him, a final realization that he should be dead. Why else had he gone to the forest if not to die by Voldemort’s hands?

Draco shrugged and slid the tray away with his foot. “Beats me.”

Harry eyed Draco, watching his demeanor shift, harden a little. “Are you okay?” He tried to sound concerned but it came off accusatory.

His demeanor shifted a lot, a bit defensive even. “I’m fine.” Draco jutted his chin out, determined to have it be true.

A ghost of a smile passed by Harry’s lips but vanished as fast as it appeared. He didn’t want to say it out loud, the thought that kept repeatedly crossing his mind. He wanted to stay optimistic but he could see the pain inflicted on Draco from just the day before and knew it would be impossible to keep any semblance of hope alive.

They were doomed.

“Harry?”

It was quiet, almost too quiet that Harry thought it was just the wind and that he was hearing his name carried on it from somewhere far off. Instead he looked up to see Draco watching him, eyes soft and upset. Had his name come from Draco’s mouth? Sure he’d started calling Malfoy by his first name awhile ago but for some reason hearing his name come out of the blonde’s mouth so gently startled him a bit.

Whether it be a chill in the air or a chill in his bones, Harry shuddered, goosebumps rising on his skin, as their gaze lay unbroken.

“D-don’t give up.”

Draco suddenly felt small and inwardly cringed but he meant what he said. “You can’t give up now.”

If only Draco had known how little those words meant to Harry, but he smiled back reassuringly all the same. “I won’t.”

Chapter Text

If it hadn't been for the small window in their cell, Harry wouldn't have been able to tell how many days passed by. By his count it had been five days since him and Draco had been brought there. No one had come inside the cell, not since Voldemort had cursed Draco. No, the only thing constant was the food delivered twice a day through the small flap at the bottom of the heavy iron door.

Not much was spoken between the two. They'd spent the first few days talking nonstop about what the Dark Lord could possibly be planning but eventually their assumptions died along with their voices. What more could be said? Theorized? They wouldn't know anything for sure until someone spoke to them.

At one point Harry wondered if this was it from now on. Condemned in this prison for the rest of their lives, questions unanswered.

Were Ron and Hermione still alive? Was anyone left still fighting the good fight?

It was on that fifth evening when the sun was setting just outside the window, that the door finally creaked open. Harry had been staring out at the ocean water, lost in thought, while Draco lay on the floor, watching the ceiling. Both instantly reacted and withdrew to the back wall, pressing their backs against it as close as they could.

A feeling fluttered inside Harry's chest as his heart skipped a beat. He could practically feel the dark magic dripping off of Voldemort before he even entered the room. He'd been so scared that first night that he'd had forgotten that he’d always been able to feel the other before actually seeing him. He watched as Voldemort walked silently into the cell, his dark robes rustling around him, giving the illusion of walking on air. Harry's eyes instantly found the deep dark red of his adversary and saw them looking back at him as well.

Draco and Harry stood there watching the Dark Lord walk towards them. When he'd made it barely half way Harry could feel Draco's arm press up against his, shaking. Harry wanted to say something but he felt his voice catch in his throat. He was too scared to do anything.

Both of them tensed when Voldemort extended his hand towards them but it fell on Draco's trembling shoulder and gripped it hard. Harry tore his gaze away from those red eyes to see Draco had closed his, anticipating another curse. None came though.

Instead, Voldemort guided Draco away from the wall and steered him towards the iron door.

Something snapped in Harry and he rushed towards them, his hand outstretched to grab Draco's arm, to pull him back to the safety of the cell, but he felt a tugging in his stomach and before he knew it he was slammed back against the stone wall.

Harry fell over at the sudden onslaught of force weighing him down and watched as Draco was taken away. When the heavy door shut behind him, Harry felt the force leave him but he didn't bother to move. Instead he shut his eyes, a choked sob breaking from somewhere deep inside.

Was he doomed to be alone now?

 

 

Some hours passed as Harry lay on the floor. He'd fallen asleep at some point but when the door creaked open he sat upright, instantly fearful of who was coming through. Had Voldemort disposed of Draco and come back to torture Harry?

His heart fluttered when Draco walked back inside. The door shut loudly behind them causing Draco to jump a little. Harry ran to him, stopping short of grabbing him by the shoulders. "Are you okay?" He blurted out. "What did he want? Did he hurt you more?"

Draco shook his head, not sure which question he was answering. He folded his arm across his chest and hunched over. "H-he didn't say anything. Nothing. He just brought me to get cleaned up."

In fact, now that Harry had a minute to take in the sight of a freshly washed Draco, he noticed that he had on different clothes as well. They were raggedy and old but cleaner then what he'd been wearing for five days straight. They were simple too, a white button down, tan slacks complete with suspenders. His skin was scrubbed clean of the dirt and sweat and no longer gave off a grayish tint. His hair lay forward, wavy and a bit disheveled, but clean and bright.

"That's it?" The words came out more harshly then intended but Harry was a bit angry at still being kept in the dark. "Do you have any idea where we are?" He couldn’t very do anything or comprise any sort of plan without having anything to go off of.

Again Draco shook his head, a bit offended at the barrage of questions. "No, I don’t recognize this place at all." He walked away from the door and took a seat on the floor nearest the back wall. Suddenly he felt very tired. Cleaning up seemed to settle his nerves a little, he wasn’t so high strung or tense.

Harry decided to wait by the door, too stubborn to move. Would his turn be next?

When a couple hours passed by Harry finally stopped waiting and turned tail on the door. He took his spot next to Draco and sighed, peeking from the corner of his eye as Draco slept peacefully and clean next to him.

Was a wash really the only thing Draco had done? He had been gone for a really long time and why hadn't anyone come for Harry to clean up? Why was Draco so calm? How could he sleep with such a relaxed look on his face?

Harry shook his head and sighed again. What good was asking these questions if only to churn his own stomach into knots? He resigned to wait, wait for his chance to find out what was going on. In the meantime, he made a mental note of the curious case of jealousy that had suddenly erupted within him. He pushed it down and closed his eyes and slept.

 


 

In the morning after both Draco and Harry had finished their food, the door to the cell opened. Before either one could do or say anything a man came stomping in to the room.

A man they did not recognize but knew all the same was a follower of Lord Voldemort.

He held himself the way a death eater might, happy to be assigned a task directly from the Dark Lord himself but annoyed at it being such a menial one. He wore dark robes and a permanent scowl on his face.

“You.” He pointed to Harry. “Come with me.” Even his voice held the sincerity of being utterly displeased at having to be the one to handle the prisoners, but he stood firm all the same.

A look passed by the two cellmates as Harry slowly got to his feet. They were equally confused at the strange man’s presence but neither felt like putting up a fight. Instead Harry turned and followed the man out.

When he heard the door close behind him Harry took a deep breath, pausing for a moment to relish the fact that he was on the other side of the door.

The man in front of him turned and scoffed, nodding his head in the direction they were supposed to be walking in. Harry complied and kept going, his muscles tense and his mind a jumbled mess of anxiety.

It didn’t take long before they stopped though, only walking a short distance down the hallway. The death eater showed Harry to a large door some ways down past his cell. It was iron too.

Harry’s heart leapt up into his chest.

Was this another cell? Had he been moved? Were Draco and he no longer allowed in the same room?

Harry’s eyes widened as he looked from the door to the strange man.

Without a word the man rolled his eyes and shoved Harry towards the door. “Go, I don’t have all day.”

Perplexed and despaired, his hands shakily pressing up against the door, Harry pushed it open.

A sudden heat blasted him and the sound of rushing water hit his ears. Inside was a bathroom so lavish it bordered on brand new. It seemed so out of place that Harry wondered if it was a trick but again, the man behind him shoved Harry into the bathroom impatiently, not waiting to see what Harry would do.

The room was warm and muggy and quiet except for the running water. Harry looked about and saw a giant tub that sat in the middle of the room, the silver spout spilling water into it. Across the room was a small bench. Harry made his way towards it, slowly removing his clothing. After placing the discarded items on the bench he turned to get into the tub. His stomach felt tense, all the anxiety he’d felt at the door still very present, but the thought of scrubbing off all this dirt and grime made it easier to ignore.

A mirror stopped him short, hanging on the wall to his left. Harry panicked, thinking there was another person in the room with him but he realized it was only his reflection. It still gave him pause though for beneath the caked on blood and dirt from the past week Harry could see that he was very pale and had lost a bit of weight. His eyes though, those sharp green spheres, pierced through the filth just as they always had except now something else lay underneath that heavy gaze. Whatever it was though Harry couldn’t recognize it and for the moment he didn’t seem to care.

The water in the tub beckoned him, steam rising to hit him in the face. He sighed and climbed in, instantly melting against the porcelain. Even before being kidnapped Harry hadn’t had a proper shower in so long he’d almost forgotten what it felt like to be truly clean.

He tossed his glasses over to his clothes and slowly immersed his head under water. Glad of the warmth, he stayed under for as long as he could before resurfacing. Harry smiled a genuinely happy smile. He began to scrub away the muck and blood when a sharp pain cracked him in the back of the head. It felt as though another rock had come flying down on him but when he reached back to feel the spot he only felt an open wound, hidden deep within his hair.

It stung sharply from the soap he had applied and Harry guessed it may have become infected. They hadn’t really done much to heal him after stashing him away in the cell. He dunked his head underwater once more to wash away the soap and was at least able to make it a dull throb.

He broke the surface of the water once more and shut his eyes, appreciating what the water afforded him. He felt so relaxed, all of his worries temporarily floating away. He hadn’t even noticed when hands gently made contact with his shoulders but when they languidly moved upwards along his neck Harry stopped dead, all anxiety rushing back as if the water had suddenly turned cold.

Fingers softly brushed against his face, over his ears and spread into his hair. He could feel each digit comb his wet strands and stop suddenly at the wound in the back. Harry felt like he couldn’t move, paralyzed in the tub. The sound of the rushing water from the faucet seemed much farther away now.

Harry could feel the dark aura surround him in the water. The hands felt icy to the touch and they seemed to linger far too long on the wound. No one said a word but Harry didn’t have to hear him to know that Voldemort was there.

Every fiber of his being told him to move, to get as far away as possible, and to do something…anything, but his body didn’t want to listen to him. Instead he felt himself being pulled backwards in the tub, the hands guiding him to lay against the porcelain. He wanted to lean back and see those cold red eyes but his limbs and eyelids began to feel heavy as he drifted into a half awareness state.

The hands began a slow dissent from this head, trailing lightly along his face and neck. Harry shivered in the water as he felt the hands place themselves back on his shoulders. They only pressed lightly for a moment but Harry could feel a pit form in his stomach and his body began to warm to the water once more.

When he realized that he started to feel hotter than the temperature of the water, his eyes flew open and he bolted upright. Harry swung around to see no one and nothing behind him but the feeling of hands on him remained for a moment longer before ebbing away to nothingness.

Had Voldemort really been in the room with him or was he just imagining it? And that feeling…that warm feeling that stayed fresh in his mind and on his skin, it had felt almost relaxing, almost delightful. Harry shook his head and got out of the tub to dry off. New clothes had been placed where his old ones had been, his glasses sitting neatly on top. Harry felt the back of his head once more for the open wound but it had gone along with the dull painful throb and his dirty clothes.

Harry took a deep, shaky breath and looked around the wash room once more. The only person to stare back him was his reflection and he didn’t quite like what he saw.

Chapter Text

With Harry keeping track of the days and nights passing by outside, he noted that they had now been trapped in this cell, with no word about the outside world, for five weeks. Time seemed to pass slower than normal, for Harry and Draco had absolutely nothing to base more assumptions on.

They'd fallen into a silent routine of waking up, eating their food and taking turns staring out the window at the endless ocean. They'd wash up when the death eater, now known as Peters, would bring them every other day to the quiet lavatory and at night after eating their second meal they'd lean up against the wall, arm touching arm, shoulder touching shoulder, and fall asleep together.

There was no trace of hatred left for one another. Their lives at Hogwarts seemed so distant, as if someone else had lived them. All they had was this understanding that each were all they had left.

One evening as Harry stared out of the small window watching the stars twinkle freely in the sky, he heard Draco come up from behind him and sigh quite audibly. Breaking his gaze away from the window he watched as Draco leaned against the wall. He was watching Harry too.

"Do you think we'll die here?"

Harry shrugged and imitated Draco, turning to lean against the wall. He felt a chill from the window at his back and shivered. Instantly Draco shifted over, pressing his arm against Harry's, a tiny gesture of warmth. Harry looked over and peered up at Draco. "I don't know."

They stared at each other for what seemed way too long and an unwelcomed heat started to rise in Harry's face. Draco's unwavering gaze was piercing right through him. Was it the wind or Draco that made him shiver now?

Draco barely moved an inch but it was enough for Harry to react. He backed away in what looked like a fluid manner but he in fact was a bit panicky. His heart started to throb in his chest and lodge in his throat all at the same time. Draco made no move from his spot against the wall. He just watched as Harry moved to the middle of the cell.

"Harry, I-"

The door to the cell burst open with such force it banged against the stone wall behind it. Harry and Draco jumped nearly out of their skin from the sound but upon seeing the Dark Lord standing in the doorway they quickly scrambled against the back wall. They watched silently as Voldemort entered the room just as he had the night he took Draco to wash up. When he reached out for the two, each expected Draco to be picked once more but instead he gripped Harry's shirt by the neck and swung him around.

Harry lost his balance and fell to the floor but with Voldemort advancing on him he quickly found his footing. Again Voldemort grasped Harry by the neck of his shirt and dragged him out of the cell.

There was only time for Harry to quickly glance over his shoulder, eyes wide with fear, at Draco, before the door swung shut behind them with a resounding boom.

The hallway was instantly colder than it had ever been before but Harry didn't have much time to think on trivial things like temperature as he was being shoved along.

Voldemort still said nothing and a sudden anger at the constant shoving and constant silence was starting to rise up inside of Harry.

At one point he tripped and lost his footing again but instead of falling to the hard ground, a hand gripped his arm to steady him. Harry ripped himself away and glared at the other. "Don't touch me." He spat.

Voldemort smirked but bowed his head in mock acquiescence before they each continued down the hallway.

They passed by the familiar door to the wash room and when Harry stopped to go in, Voldemort kept up his stride and walked on by. Perplexed and confused Harry watch Voldemort continue on, not pausing to even wait for the other to follow.

He could turn back, back to the cell and the safety that was Draco, but something much stronger than his anger bubbled its way to the surface.

That damn curiosity would be the death of Harry Potter some day and he thought equally so before cursing under his breath and taking off to follow his mortal enemy.

They seemed to walk for quite some time, the silence a bit unnerving to Harry, but eventually they came to another iron door. Harry hardly had a moment to wonder what lay beyond it before the door swung open on its own, light and warmth hitting him like a brick.

It was, again, another room that was oddly misplaced and didn't seem to belong in this dreary stone castle atmosphere.

The walls were lined in a deep red, ancient wallpaper, peering out from between bookshelves that lined three fourths of the room. Harry knew at once this was a bedroom but the bed was not the centerpiece. Instead it was a pair of cozy chairs, a small table between them, and a rug lying underneath. They were positioned next to a large fireplace and the fire inside burned brightly.

Harry watched the fire for a moment, a bit hesitant to move away from the door. The memory of the cold stone floor however pushed him forwards. Instead of choosing to sit in one of the chairs, he took a seat on the floor by the fire, trying to get as close as possible without getting burned.

It felt as if the fire was warming not only his skin but his bones. If he had felt like ice before, it was a distant memory as color rose in his face, blood circulating back into every corner of his body. He shut his eyes and drenched himself in this warmth.

As quickly as the inviting feeling had come though, it fleeted when Voldemort came into the room. Harry felt his darkness coil around him and destroy whatever happy thoughts the fire had allotted him. He turned to watch that darkness glide to one of the chairs and sit.

"Where am I?" Harry blurted out, unable to stop himself. He exploded from his spot on the floor. "Why aren't I dead?" The questions came tumbling out and Harry didn't care how crass he was, yelling like a spoiled brat demanding something from a parent. What was the point in waiting when he had the direct source right in front of him? He opened his mouth to yell some more when Voldemort held up one, steady hand.

"Enough." It was steady and gentle but all the same effective.

Something akin to shivers unexpectedly trickled down Harry's spine. More, undefined feelings were starting to cloud his anger. Repulsion? Disgust? For a moment Harry realized he had briefly forgotten what Voldemort sounded like. He'd spent so long in that cell, so alone with his thoughts, that trivial things tucked themselves away.

A tiny flutter of horror crossed Harry's mind.

Had he simply missed that voice? Was this strange pinprick he was feeling in his chest relief at finally hearing Voldemort speak? Or relief that he’d finally be getting some answers?

Shaking his head, Harry stood and began to pace back and forth in front of the fireplace.

"You've been keeping me in the dark.”

“A most astute observation.”

Harry could practically feel the mocking tone dripping from Voldemort’s mouth. He tried to ignore it.

“Tell me something Harry, how are things fairing in your cell?”

It didn't work.

“Shut up!” It burst forth so suddenly it scared even himself but he kept going, unwinding all the hurt, all the hatred, all the confusion he had pent up. “Why didn’t you just kill me? You had the perfect chance!”

Voldemort made no move to shift in his seat, he just stared back at the young man in front him, watching rage flow from him like the waves from the ocean outside.

Harry’s hands had balled into fists and he huffed by the fire. “Why?” He asked, his voice breaking softly.

Effortlessly, Voldemort’s mouth curved to one side, entertained by this ball of mess staring daggers at him. “It was my plan to kill you, Harry.”

“So why didn’t you? I was there, I-“

“Draco.”

His name fell from Voldemort’s lips, standing alone as an explanation.

Harry’s shoulders fell as a bit of his resolve ebbed away. “But even if he killed Nagini, why not just kill us there?”

Voldemort gestured for Harry to join him in sitting down in the comfy chairs. Harry obliged but sat on the edge, tense and trying his best to be ready for anything.

Red eyes slithered away from Harry’s stare to the fire in front of them. Silence hung in the air between the two for a good minute before Voldemort spoke again.

“I didn’t know what I know now.” The words were spoken softly, thoughtfully. “I know what you are.”

Harry felt like someone had knocked the air from his lungs. He watched as the Dark Lord turned to him again and smile. His body began to shake and dread filled every fiber of his being. “W-what am I?” He asked, already knowing the answer.

Voldemort chuckled, a deep rumbling laugh that sent shivers throughout Harry. “You’re my last remaining Horcrux.”

Harry was so shocked he couldn't bring himself to speak. He continued to watch the Dark Lord, utterly beside himself.

“I have you to thank for that actually, you and that wretched mistake Lucius Malfoy.”

Something sparked inside Harry at the mention of Malfoy Sr. and Voldemort took notice, tearing his gaze away from the fire to Harry.

“When you came to me, to die, I was overjoyed. Thrilled that I would have what I'd been working towards these few long years.” Voldemort smirked. “But when you betrayed me, when you let that boy kill my precious Nagini…” Silence passed between them, an echo of loss, of anger. “I knew that you couldn’t die until I'd had my revenge. The killing curse would have been too easy on you, no I needed you squirming, begging, pleading that the sweet release of death was your only salvation.”

Harry's heart hammered in his chest. He was listening so intensely, too scared to move or say anything. His body felt like it might break from the rising tension.

“I resigned to take you and Draco, because he too deserved punishment and while Lucius was away, I played.” Voldemort’s mouth contorted in the sickest of grins as he watched Harry stiff as stone in the chair across from him. Could those green eyes get any bigger?

“Lucius couldn’t run for long however, and within a couple of days I found him and I extracted all the information I needed. For in those days he’d been on the run, he’d heard far and wide from the mouth of every witch and wizard that you were meant to die in that forest, that when you died I would be nothing more than a mere mortal man. I couldn’t quite let you go after that bit of news, now could I?”

Though Harry had been dying to have Voldemort speak to him, he suddenly wished for the silence. He watched as Voldemort leaned forward in his seat, his long grey fingers clutching at the arm rests. Harry hatred for the Dark Lord multiplied against himself tenfold.

It wasn’t as if he saw this scenario playing out when he’d left his friends to die, but the utter stupidity of telling Ron and Hermione to let everyone know showed on his face. How could he be so blind as to let that information out there where Voldemort could potentially hear it? Harry wanted to kick himself.

“So-so I’m to live here? Forever?” Harry’s voice quivered in his throat and at that moment he wished he would die, just float up and out of his body away from all this mess.

Voldemort chuckled again. “I have big plans for you, boy.”

Chapter Text

Draco watched silently as Harry finished telling him everything that had transpired. It was early morning by the time Harry was led back to his cell by Peters, but Draco was wide awake and waiting for him when he opened the door. 

When Harry finished talking he sat back and sighed, exhausted. 

Draco eyed him warily. “So he knows.”

Harry nodded. “Yeah.”

“My father told him.” It wasn’t a question. Draco knew that his father had been spiraling downwards ever since the rise of the Dark Lord. The action was almost expected but Draco felt guilty all the same.

Harry, who’d been staring at his knees for the past few minutes, looked up and stared at Draco. There was no malice there but Draco shied away all the same, embarrassed.

“He was bound to find out, Voldemort, I just figured it’d be after I was long gone.”

Harry had always called the Dark Lord by his name, unafraid and unwilling to give in to the hype and fear Voldemort’s name produced. He hadn’t stopped saying it and though Draco was more use to it now than ever, he no longer flinched at hearing the name. He still couldn’t bring himself to say it though. Draco nodded, looking away as more guilt piled on.

Harry reached out, attempting to place his hand gently on Draco’s but the moment his fingers brushed against the other, Draco retracted and stood. Harry quickly followed and grabbed Draco by the elbow. He looked up at those grey eyes to see pain and loss hidden underneath.

“Draco, I’m so sorry. I-I should have tried harder to get you to turn back.”

Their gaze seemed unbreakable and neither spoke for a good minute until Draco cleared his throat, his brows furrowing. “I shouldn’t have been stupid enough to think we’d win, but I had to try.” His voice cracked and tears started to fall down his face. “I just- you saved my life and I wanted to repay the favor.” A laugh bubbled to the surface then. It surprised Harry and Draco couldn’t seem to stop.

He doubled over in laughter. “My father is more than likely dead. He ran away and now he’s dead.” The laughter rose in volume and Draco had to sit back down on the floor, his tears continuing to fall down his face.

Harry wasn’t sure what to do. He watched as Draco crumbled into himself. He wanted to do something, say something but watching Draco sobbing on the floor was shocking and heartbreaking.

“My mother’s probably dead too.”

The laughter instantly stopped but the tears continued to fall.

Harry fell to his knees and grabbed his cell mate by the shoulders. “He never mentioned her, she may well still be alive. Draco, maybe she’s fighting the good fight.”

Sniffling, the blond smiled. “Y-yeah. Maybe Granger and Weasley let her join them.” It was meant to be a joke really, but at the mention of Ron and Hermione, Harry cringed. It was a minor twitch but Draco felt it all the same.

Harry shook his head, trying to play it off. He forced a small laugh and smiled. “Yeah. They probably did.” He hoped to come off as confident but neither could feign the loss they both suddenly felt. For all they knew, Hermione and Ron and probably everyone else fighting on the side of good were dead.

A look passed between each other once more before they respectfully parted. Harry resumed his usual spot at the window while Draco moved to sit against the back wall.

Both were tired and exhausted from being up the night before but while depression set in inside Draco, fire burned inside Harry. He watched the waves outside move rhythmically, felt the ocean spray carry on the wind and all the while his anger and hatred grew.

Harry had meant to meet his death that night in the forest, at the battle of the only place he’d ever truly called home. He’d gone, head held high, to do what was right, because that was what he always did.

As the rage built inside Harry, he knew now that the right thing to do was live. Live and find a way to destroy Voldemort.

He could do that.

He had to do that.

Harry heard no word from Voldemort over the next week, though he hadn’t really known what to expect from his enemy. He and Draco fell back into their familiar routine once more. Harry spent all his time brooding and thinking back to his friends. He wondered if life went on for them.

Had anyone found any semblance of happiness? He wished they did, that even if they kept on fighting that they had somehow found a way to be happy.

One morning Peters came for Harry and took him to the washroom just as he had many times before. Harry followed after him but halfway down the hallway he stopped. “Where is he?” Harry asked, watching Peters turn to face him. He didn’t need to specify who he was asking about.

With his permanent scowl in place, Peters sneered and rolled his eyes. “He's busy.” Was all he gruffed out before he turned and continued onward.

Harry washed in silence, no longer caring to look in the mirror nearby. He hadn't liked the way he looked now. Sure he'd kept his lithe physique and unkempt hair, he'd never be rid of those attributes; but now he looked almost gaunt in the face, broken on the outside, a perfect picture of the Boy Who Lived as a prisoner.

Sighing, Harry leaned over the porcelain rim of the tub. He rested his head on one arm while the other dangled towards the floor. He felt so utterly alone, so annoyed that this was it.

If he had known he'd be spending the rest of his life with Draco, he'd have thought differently about sacrificing himself in the forest.

No.

No he wouldn't.

Where that thought had come from was just as a surprise to Harry as the sudden feeling of anger that surged through him like a bolt of electricity.

He hadn't meant it, he was sure, but the sickening feeling of guilt remained when the anger left.

Harry sighed and made to move, his muscles starting to ache at the odd angle he chose. He let his body slide down in the tub, his head submerging under the water. Under here he could forget for a moment who and where he was. There was no sound here, no thought. Only simple nothingness.

He stayed for as long as he could but his throat began to burn and he sat up. It was suddenly colder in the wash room now. Harry looked around but he saw nothing.

Harry was always one to trust his gut feelings, and one to sometimes ignore them, but he wasn’t prepared when someone cleared their throat from somewhere inside the room.

His foot slipped on the floor and though he tried his best to catch himself on the side of the tub, he came crashing down, audibly exclaiming an “Ouch!” as his elbow cracked against the tile.

That same voice chuckled.

Spinning around on the floor, Harry squinted to where the voice from coming from. He still couldn’t seem to see anything but he could feel that dark, familiar dread starting to fill up the room.

Harry grunted, trying his best not to look like a baby deer standing for the first time. He gripped the tub’s edge and hoisted himself shakily to his feet. “You’re hiding in the corners now are you?” He boldly asked, suddenly very aware how very nude he was. The chill of the room caused goosebumps to rise on his wet skin.

Voldemort stepped out into the dim light a few candles nearby afforded. He smirked at the sight of Harry and for a brief second his eyes flickered downward and then back up.

Warmth rushed to Harry’s face and he slowly made his way over to his clothes and the towel that hung off the bench. “What do you want?” He asked, trying his best not to look the other in the face.

Voldemort moved across the room, his dark aura slithering and sliding with him. Harry could feel the air around him tightening. He suddenly felt like he couldn’t breathe. Though the feeling in his stomach grew, warning Harry not to do anything stupid, he spun around despite it to see the Dark Lord about half an arm’s length away.

Harry backed up, his legs buckling beneath him as they hit the edge of the bench. He fell onto it as Voldemort stepped closer.

“Harry.”

His voice was low but it echoed around them and sent shivers down Harry’s spine. Those red eyes stared firmly at him with that smirk still planted steadily on his face.

For a moment Harry thought he could hear his own heart hammering in his chest. He watched Voldemort stand there doing nothing but simply watching him in return and yet something hung between them, a tenseness in the air.

Harry swallowed hard before he spoke. “W-what do you want from me?” It was small, barely above a whisper.

A loud chuckle echoed around them but it didn’t seem to come from Voldemort. Harry’s breath hitched in his throat as Voldemort lifted a hand, his fingers gently brushing Harry’s cheek.

Unbearable heat flushed Harry’s skin. He wanted to shut his eyes but he couldn’t move.

Suddenly, before he could react, wild laughter erupted from Voldemort and he rushed forward. Harry recoiled, ready for the blow of the other’s body but instead billows of smoke replaced Voldemort as if the Dark Lord had passed right through him, leaving only his aura behind.

Harry’s head snapped up from his arm. It took him a second to get his bearings. He was still laying on the edge of the tub, one arm resting for his head, and the other dangling to the floor. When he realized it had been a dream, Harry made a mad dash out of the tub to his clothes. It took no time at all for him to dress and meet Peters outside, his heart thrumming a deafening beat in his chest.

He tried to calm his nerves but every time he shut his eyes he felt Voldemort’s fingers on his skin and though goosebumps rose each time, a sickening feeling formed inside as well, coiling around him just as the smoke had in his dream.

Chapter Text

Harry desperately wanted to tell Draco about his dream but the shame he felt for the feelings he’d had in it kept his mouth shut. The next day, when Draco was brought to wash up, Harry briefly wondered if Draco were having dreams like those as well and if he too were keeping them from Harry out of embarrassment, but Draco never let on.

It was only two days after that dream did Peters come to collect Harry on orders of the Dark Lord. He brought Harry to the washroom but this time warned him not to take too long.

“You have somewhere you’re supposed to be.” Peters grumbled as Harry walked into the washroom.

Harry didn’t particularly want to stay in the room any longer then he had to so he quickly disrobed, bathed and dressed in no less than twenty minutes. His clothes were different today, clearly better stitched together then his previous raggedy button down shirt and pants. They fit him more tightly too, instead of hanging off of him, but they were still simple. A dark grey, plain shirt, a pair of blue jeans and even a nice deep blue robe. Chancing a quick glance in the mirror, Harry minutely enjoyed what he saw.

The robe seemed to make him look like how he always had, as a wizard, but then sadness set in. He missed his magic.

It was one of the first things Draco and Harry noticed after Draco regained a bit of his strength from the cruciatus curse. Sure the wand had always been a strong conduit, helpful in manifesting the magic that naturally coursed through them, but for some reason they seemed completely lost without it. They couldn’t conjure any wandless magic or any accidental magic that they had done in their younger years. It felt as if they weren’t magical anymore, just two lonely, ordinary, men.

Peters was waiting for him outside the washroom like always but instead of leading Harry back to his cell, he brought him to the bedroom with the fireplace.

This time, Harry took a seat in one of the chairs and waited. He watched the fire crackling around the chopped wood and for a moment he seemed to get lost in it. When the door clicked closed Harry spun around to see Voldemort standing at the door.

The smirk he wore was very reminiscent of Harry’s dream version of Voldemort and he tried to hold steadfast when a shudder course through him. He watched as the Dark Lord crossed the room to sit across from him in the other chair, seemingly taking notice of how very tense Harry had just become.

The smirk slid into a genuine smile. It worried Harry more when Voldemort smiled like that. He was only truly happy when he was about to put Harry through something uncomfortable or terrible and right now Harry was feeling very uncomfortable and terrible.

It was a moment before anyone said anything. Harry opened his mouth to speak but Voldemort beat him to it.

“I have something important that I need you to do today Harry.”

“What?” It was short, to the point.

“My plans for you begin with a speech.” Voldemort chuckled. He sat up and reached on to the table where a roll of parchment sat. He tossed it to Harry who embarrassingly wasn’t expecting it and almost smacked it into the fireplace.

Voldemort watched, amused, as Harry opened the roll. He watched as those green eyes scanned the page from top to bottom, as the color drained from his skin once he’d reached the last paragraph.

Harry looked up, his hands a bit shaky. “You want me to say this? To who? Why?”

“Well because the people deserve to know how well you are getting along under this new regime. You will read this in front a dozen or so reporters and you will be convincing as if you wrote this yourself.”

Swallowing thickly, Harry felt like he was going to be sick. “-But why?”

Voldemort considered him for a moment before letting out a long sigh. “You still have a mass of followers, those friends of yours and all those they’ve turned against me, and they haven’t stopped looking for you.”

Harry’s heart fluttered, a sliver of hope sparking somewhere in the distance. “And you want me to say this so they’ll stop?” A laugh almost escaped. “Why would I want to do that?”

A moment passed between the two, silent except for the fire crackling in front of them. Voldemort continued to watch Harry, amused but also slightly annoyed. “I should tell you now, before you think you can disagree with me any further. You are to stand in front of those reporters, read that parchment so convincingly it gives them all chills, and return to me as if you want to, or I will kill young Mr. Malfoy.”

If Harry had any happy thoughts roaming around inside, they were snuffed out immediately. Voldemort’s words cut through Harry like ice, those deep red eyes piercing through him once more.

Harry looked back down at the parchment in his hands, grimacing. “I-”

“If you think it’s worth killing Draco-”

“No!” Harry hadn’t meant to stand and yell so loud but he did and he stood firm, trying to find any sort of strength.

Voldemort stood gracefully, slowly closing the gap between him and Harry. He stared down at the defiant and confused man before him. “Harry I know it’s a hard decision to make.” He laid a hand on Harry’s shoulder, smirking when he felt the other twitch beneath him. “Believe me, I understand, but think of it this way. What’s a speech compared to someone’s life? Words are harmless, but the pain Draco will feel before the life is crushed out of him...well…”

Cold fingers dug into Harry’s shoulder and he winced. Suddenly his heart was thumping loudly in his chest. Voldemort had started to make sense.

“No.” Harry shook his head, defiant against this train of thought, but then something clicked. He straightened up and looked firmly at Voldemort. “Not unless you let Draco go.”

A sneer broke the tender facade Voldemort was trying to play. “Let him go? Do you think I’m an idiot? Why would I ever let him go?”

Harry stared at Voldemort for a good moment, wishing he’d take his hand off his shoulder which had started to go numb from the grip. “If you want people to believe me then you need to give me a reason to be believable. If you kill Draco I won’t ever do or say these things.”

Voldemort released his grip on Harry and backed away, smiling. “Deal.”

“Let him go somewhere safe.” Harry blurted out, not liking the way Voldemort so easily agreed. “I mean it, let him go where he can be found or-”

“Or what?” And just like that Voldemort was back closing the gap between their bodies, even closer now. “Tell me Harry, what would you do to me if I left poor Mister Malfoy for dead?”

Harry wanted to backup, wanted to get as far away from this towering form in front of him. He could feel the coldness that constantly accompanied Voldemort wrapping around him as well. His chest tightened and his heart was pounding even louder than ever. Their faces were inches apart and quite suddenly the memory of his dream reared its ugly head.

He felt a flush rush to his face, the heat a barrier against the cold of Voldemort, but at the same time not helpful. He watched as Voldemort took notice, a small smirk forming on his face.

Harry took a step back and Voldemort followed until Harry’s back hit against a nearby wall. It spooked him, the sudden contact with a solid thing. He watched as Voldemort placed both hands on the wall on either side of his head. All the while his face burned and his heart continued to thrum away in a steady beat akin to a hummingbird's.

Voldemort was absolutely loving every bit of this. He watched as Harry squirmed underneath his presence and wanted to push him more, wanted to...wanted to get closer? For a split second a thought crossed his mind. At first it was nothing more than a game, to make Harry feel as awkward as he was, simply because he was being an annoying little brat.

But…

Suddenly Voldemort wanted to get closer for another reason. Harry’s face was a delicious shade of red and all he wanted to do was taste those lips the other was nervously chewing on.

Instead, he slowly removed himself from the vicinity of Harry. He looked down at the other, a stern and cautious look covering his face like a mask. “I will release Draco somewhere safe. You will owe me at a time of my choosing. Peters will take you in one hour, prepare.”

Before Harry could get a word out to question further, Voldemort was gone, leaving the room in a hurried but steady pace. He left Harry standing there, still leaning against the wall.

A sudden feeling of loss overcame him. His body felt hotter now, every part of him anxious and pining for the almost contact he had with Voldemort. The parchment was still clutched in his hand, wrinkled from the tight grip he hadn’t known he’d been holding.

Harry sank to his knees for they had become weak. He covered his eyes with his hand before running it back over his head and through his hair. One good thing from this was that Malfoy, who shouldn’t have been there in the first place, was to be set free, but that meant that Harry was confining his life to be here alone. Alone with Voldemort.

A shudder racked Harry’s body as he sat there, his mind a jumble of feelings ranging from stress to happiness. A tiny part of him felt something else then too but he couldn’t quite figure out what it was. Had he wanted Voldemort to get even closer? He was pretty close before, body and face almost touching Harry’s, but had he wanted to be touched by the other as in his dream? Those fingers gracefully brushing his face...maybe even pulling him in, nearer and nearer until-

Harry shook his head and dropped the parchment. He felt like he was going crazy. This man, Voldemort, was his mortal enemy, the man who tried to kill him as an innocent baby, the man who’d mercilessly killed others before and after regaining his form in that graveyard. This was no man, this was a monster.

He’d locked Harry away, tortured Draco, probably had more torture planned for Draco and god knows what for Harry. This was no person to be lusting after, but it hung there in Harry’s chest, in the back of his mind and he felt sick.

He would be alone in the lion’s den with nothing to protect him.

Chapter Text

Flashes of light seemed to hypnotize Harry as he walked into the main hall of The Ministry. It was very reminiscent of the time he'd last been here, when Sirius had been murdered and the people had finally seen for themselves that Voldemort had indeed returned to power.

There were just as many cameras and reporters then as were now and his insides squirmed uneasily.

He'd gone over the speech in his head what seemed like a thousand times. He practiced during the hour Voldemort left him and around the last few times he’d read it he’d been able to hold his emotions together.

The only thing that kept him going was the thought that at least Draco would get out safely, that he’d be able to save at least someone with this second sacrifice.

The podium that had been set up for him stood towering over the reporters who all held their quills at the ready. On either side stood some very stoic men, very clearly under the influence of the new regime Voldemort had been busy setting up. It was no question as to who was behind the Ministry these days.

No one said much of anything against it though, intimidated by the power Voldemort held. He’d placed his people where they needed to be and stood in the shadows, playing to this new life in the wizarding world behind the scenes. People were more afraid of him for it.

Harry took the few steps towards the podium, his legs shaky and his nerves practically shot. When he reached the podium, he clutched it hard, his knuckles turning white. The reporters converged on him, all vying for a spot as close as possible to Harry.

Thicknesse had been standing by, seemingly bored or rather unaware by all the attention the Ministry was getting on this particular day. He smiled lazily at the reporters before nodding to Harry who nodded, albeit reluctantly, in return.

It was time now, time to lay it all out and see which assumptions would play out.

Would they be outraged?

Would they be acquiescent and move on?

Harry watched as a particularly large gentleman shuffled past all the rest of the reporters and set up a short range microphone, a large wire dangling from it to a small box in the man’s hand. This would be transmitted all over the wizarding world’s radio networks too.

Harry took a deep breath in and slowly let it out. People were waiting with baited breath for what he had to say.

For Draco, he thought, as he cleared his throat.

“I'm standing here before you today to tell you I, Harry James Potter, son of Lily Evans and James Potter, am in good health, and contrary to popular belief, in any sort of trouble.”

Already his voice started to shake. He cleared his throat again and pushed on.

“There are those out there spreading the rumor that I have been kidnapped by Lord Voldemort, but that is not true.

When I walked into the Forbidden Forest on the night of May 2nd, I was complying with the demands the Dark Lord had set, that I come to him and no one else would be harmed.

While I walked to meet my death at the hands of Lord Voldemort, sure that my life would be in exchange for those I love, I instead received a warm welcome and a choice.”

Harry could feel the hatred starting to bubble up inside. He felt like he might be sick but he kept his eyes forward, focusing on everything and nothing all at the same time. He tried to engage the captivated audience but if he looked any of them in the eye he was afraid might falter.

“If I left with him willingly, he would ensure the safety of everyone at Hogwarts. While I surely doubted his words, he promised no more harm than mere stunning would fall on anyone who chose not to lay down arms.

He promised me freedom from this fight. A fight that has been waging on since I was born, even long before that.

I am tired.”

And he suddenly was. All the anxiety, all the nervousness inside was slowly ebbing out of him, leaving him almost zombie like, numb. Saying these words aloud were heavy and final.

“Tired of fighting and of not realizing my true potential. I have sacrificed a lot in my life and I've now come to understand that things can only get better with unity.

Please, I ask of those who keep resisting Lord Voldemort and his followers to stop. Lay down your wands and understand as I have that if we keep fighting, we will only lose more of those we love.

I am safe, of my own mind, and purposely out of the public eye to train exclusively under Lord Voldemort’s teachings.

Please do not keep looking for me.

Thank you.”

Silence filled the hall, deafening and cold, but before Harry knew it, the crowd of reporters exploded into questions and demands for answers.

Why had he made everyone think he was missing or worse, dead?

He stood for so much against Lord Voldemort, why now was he agreeing with him?

Was he under the Imperius curse?

Should he be tested with Veritaserum?

Harry didn’t make a move to answer these questions, as he’d been told. Instead he gathered himself up and started his long walk back down the steps and through the hall, all the while his heart beating wildly in his chest. He felt close to tears but he kept his head high and ignoring all the people behind him still lobbing question after question, Harry made his way to Peter’s side.

Green flames and then he was back inside the lonely tower, back in the warm bedroom.

Peters swiftly left him with no more than a grunt. Harry waited, for what seemed like twenty minutes, for anyone to come into the room. When no one came in, he ventured to the door and opened it a bit.

Harry peeked outside and when he didn't see Peters standing by, he opened it enough to stick his head out. Still no one stood in the hallway outside the room, so Harry took a step, then another, out into the hall.

It was eerily quiet but Harry didn’t care. When he figured no one was coming to shoo him back into the room he set off down the hallway towards his familiar cell. The door was locked and of course he didn’t have the key, but the small door at the top was open.

The small iron flap made a tiny metal screech but it was loud enough to make Draco stir from inside the cell. The blonde hurried to the door upon seeing Harry staring at him from the other side.

“What’s wrong? Where have you been?”

It had only been about half of the day since they’d seen each other but Draco was clearly worried.

Harry guessed that Voldemort hadn’t told Draco the plan, the deal, or the speech Harry had to give. His heart sank a little. “I’m fine.” He said, trying his best to smile. “Draco, I made a deal with Voldemort. He’s going to let you go.”

Draco froze. “You what?” At first he thought he misheard Harry.

“I made a deal with him, I had to- it doesn't matter. I made the deal in exchange for him to let you go.”

“Are you insane!” Draco yelled so loud that it made Harry jump back in surprise. “Why would you make such an idiotic decision about me without talking to me?”

“I didn’t think-”

“Of course you didn’t! You never think, you just dive in ready to give up.”

Harry felt a spark of anger flare inside him. “Give up? I didn’t give up! I did it so you wouldn’t have to rot in this cell!” How could Draco not be grateful?

Draco glared, wanting to smack Harry and he was very frustrated at the fact that there was an iron door between them. “Who told you it was okay to make my choices for me?”

“So you want to live here like this for the rest of your life?”

“If I go that means you’re alone with him .”

Harry stopped short, ready to hurl more angered words but he could see the pain on Draco’s face, the realization that he couldn’t leave Harry alone here. Harry sighed and ran a hand through his constantly unkempt hair. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I didn’t talk to you first but after I made the deal I couldn’t break away to talk to you. He’s going to let you go soon and you’ll be able to find Hermione and Ron and all of them, maybe even your Mother.”

Anger left the two, seeping out like wisps of smoke. Draco stood close to the door, resting his fingers through the small opening. “What’s going to happen to you?” His voice seemed smaller now.

Unthinkingly, Harry pressed his fingers to Draco’s as much as he could. “I don’t know. Maybe you’ll come up with a genius plan to save me.” He smirked, a little bit of his old self poking through.

Draco smiled but he wasn’t happy. “I wish you hadn’t done this, Harry. I can’t survive Granger and Weasley on my own.”

Small but genuine laughter bubbled from them then, but as always, their happiness in this horrible place never lasted for long.

Harry felt cool hands grasp his shoulders and a chillness spread throughout his body. Draco quickly retracted his hands and backed away from the door but Harry took his time in turning around to face the owner of the icy presence. Voldemort stared down at him, his face as still as ever.

“You have your deal, Harry. Say goodbye. Draco needs his rest for his journey home tomorrow.”

Wordlessly, Harry turned back around to see that Draco retreated to the back wall of the cell. He wanted to say more, they both did, but time wouldn’t allow. Instead, Harry stared at Draco hard and hoped beyond hope that the other could randomly read his mind.

Don’t worry about me. Live.

Chapter Text

It had been a couple days since Harry had seen Draco off. He was no longer wearing raggedy clothing and was given the bedroom to sleep in instead of the prison cell. He had everything he needed in that room, books to read, and a fire to stay warm, even a bathroom attached. He rarely saw Peters now that he no longer left the room but occasionally he’d see him enter with fresh clothes or toiletries. 

Despite the reasons it took to get him here, Harry enjoyed having the big bed to sleep in instead of the cold, stone floor. At first it was a reprieve, having all this space to be ‘free’ in. Voldemort hadn’t visited since the day Draco left. Harry was glad he hadn’t come to gloat, for he’d once again won, but he was growing bored being by himself. At least sharing the cell with Draco, albeit silently at times, was better than this constant loneliness.

On the fourth lonely day, Harry heard the door creak open and expecting it to be Peters, he didn't look up from the book he was reading.

It wasn't even until he felt the cold presence that was Lord Voldemort that he moved at all, turning around in his chair to peek over the side.

The Dark Lord strode into the room. He made for the other chair and sat contently, watching as Harry closed his book and placed it on the table between them. “Harry, you've done well.”

It didn't take much these days to make Harry angry, but then again he always had a temper problem. Just though few short words and his stomach was already in a twist of hatred and disgust.

“Did Draco make it alright?” He asked, holding back any resentment for his current situation.

Voldemort tapped his fingers on the arm of his chair, his face still and passive. “You don't need to worry about Mr. Malfoy any longer.”

Harry wanted to push it, to question him further but he knew he shouldn’t. He looked away then, to stare at the fireplace, chewing frustratingly on the inside of his cheek.

Voldemort took notice of the desperation Harry was trying to quell. “Why do you care so much?”

It was such a genuine question that it surprised Harry. He heard no malice in it, only curiosity. Turning back to face Voldemort, Harry straightened in his chair. “What do you mean why do I care so much? Care so much about what?”

“Anything.” It was quiet but straightforward.

Harry was a bit confused, wondering mainly why he was having such a light conversation with his arch enemy. “Why wouldn’t I? Aren’t there things you care about anymore?” Harry wanted to mention Nagini but thought better at not bringing Draco specifically back into the conversation.

Voldemort looked around the room, but kept Harry in his peripheral. “There were people, pets,” he shot a look at Harry from the corner of his eye before continuing. “But that was a long time ago.” He turned to watch Harry again, as the other’s face seemed to fall from confusion to pity. Something inside swirled around in defensiveness. “I only care about myself, about what I can accomplish now that I have you.”

Harry didn’t want it to happen but his cheeks flushed with heat and suddenly he felt embarrassed. “Yeah well there’s still people I care about, their wellbeing and the like. I can’t just forget about them just because I’m trapped here with you.” Anger flared again, the feeling of embarrassment turning into defiance. He made a move to get up from the chair but it only took a second for him to fly away from it to a wall on the opposite side of the room.

His head hit the wall rather hard, a sickening crack sounded and his vision suddenly became blurry. His glasses had fallen to the ground at his feet. He made to crouch down to grab them but he felt a force hold him firmly against the wall, his feet barely resting on the floor. Voldemort walked over, showing off once again the power he held over Harry. It took no great strength to keep him up against the wall, it a simple action performed by a skilled wizard. When he closed in, his body only a few inches from Harry’s, Voldemort smiled that stupid smile that drove Harry crazy.

All he wanted to do was smack that smile off Voldemort’s face but beyond a struggle he couldn’t detach himself from the wall.

“You should be worrying about yourself, Harry.”

Harry stopped struggling and stared heavily at the other. “Why. What’s the point anymore?” He picked up trying to wriggle free again but he couldn’t no matter how hard he tried. “You sealed my fate today, what more do I have to worry about? I’m already in Hell.”

This did not sit well with Lord Voldemort who had agreed to the deal Harry had set, expecting some sort of gratefulness. He seamlessly raised a hand and brought it down against Harry’s face, slapping him with such a force that it caused him to fall from the invisible binding to the ground.

Voldemort’s magical grasp had wavered in his sudden anger. Harry could move his limbs again but half of his face practically stung with pain. He looked up at Voldemort from the floor, glaring behind his already reddening cheek.

He felt so helpless without his magic, so weak.

“What do you want with me?” He felt like he’d asked this question too many times to count and still he never received an answer. With Voldemort leering over him, Harry stood and placed his glasses back on his face. “You obviously need me here because of what I am, but is this it? Shutting me away in this room with half conversations and beat downs?” He pushed himself closer, the hatred in him rising. He could feel it bubbling up and out of his body in a wave of heat, matching that of the icy aura of Voldemort, and he couldn’t stop himself. He threw his arms out, gesturing to himself and the room. “Well you have me! Congratulations! What exactly are you going to do with me, huh?” He yelled.

In a manner of seconds Voldemort grasped Harry by the front of his shirt and without warning, pulled Harry towards him. Harry had only a millisecond to panic before Voldemort smirked and crashed his lips against his own in a searing hot, passionate kiss.

In what seemed like forever, Harry stood, frozen in time as he felt surprisingly warm lips against his.

Voldemort’s lips.

Harry’s heart sank and his skin became clammy in anxiety but the anger was there, the hatred and the vile disgust for the other. It was there and it was tipping over him in waves. Harry tore himself away, pushing Voldemort back as far as he could, his shirt still grasped by the other’s fingers. “W-what are you-”

“I want to take your light, Harry.” Voldemort’s voice was low, almost a purr. His lips split into a wide grin, showcasing what could only be beyond insanity.

Harry could do nothing but stare. All the feelings inside of him, what was spilling out of him, were morphing, twisting and grasping to be something else, something more. His heart beat loudly in his chest and his mouth had suddenly run dry.

“Why?” He choked out. “It won’t change you.”

A deep, rumbling chuckle broke forth from deep down inside of Voldemort. He pulled Harry close again and watched as the awe struck man before him couldn’t seem to tell his brain to move away or push back again. “No Harry, I want to change you.”

When Voldemort leaned forward and pressed his lips to Harry’s, gentler and chaste this time, Harry had another still moment, one where he just couldn’t make sense of anything. He grabbed at Voldemort, trying to push him away but his limbs felt heavy and he couldn’t push for long. His own fingers tangled themselves in Voldemort’s clothes and his eyelids, just as heavy as his arms, slowly fell closed.

Whatever lay inside him had clearly crossed the line between hate and...what? He could feel himself pressing up against Voldemort, their kiss deepening. He could feel his body relaxing and all his anxiety slipping slowly away from him. It was him doing these things and yet not at the same time. It was as if he was watching from the other side of the room as the two held each other, completely stricken with surprise.

Voldemort smirked, his mouth parting as his tongue ran along Harry’s bottom lip. He wanted those lips to part, to accept him, accept his fate. What at first appeared to Voldemort as a selfish desire to have Harry close, to further his plans for immortality, was now clearly something more.

When Voldemort had found out what Harry was, what Harry had inside of him, he was finally able to define why it was he felt so strongly towards him. It wasn’t just that Harry held a piece of his soul, no it was more than that and always had been. The light to Voldemort’s darkness.

It had always been Harry. Of course it was always Harry. From the moment Voldemort lost his corporeal form to that tiny baby, he knew that one day they’d be head to head in battle. He looked forward to it, to clash with the other who was in some ways his equal and some his rival.

It was a constant mix of seeing himself in Harry, in seeing the struggles he had to live through, but at times he saw the difference between them. Harry’s fight for justice was stronger than his own fight for a world in which he reigned supreme.

He knew he would lose the war, as time and time again it had been proven that love always outweighed destruction and chaos.

Voldemort wanted to ruin that, to ruin Harry. Killing Harry would only fuel the fire under the rebels so the only logical way of winning would be to crush Harry in a different way, to mold him and change him and breed insanity into him as it had been done to himself.

What was currently happening between them was just an added bonus.

Voldemort pushed forward, his own thoughts twisting the desire to have him forming into something more. When Harry allowed entrance past his lips, their tongues danced and tasted each other with every kiss. Voldemort couldn’t seem to hold back, not now that Harry seemed willing to continue. All at once he wanted to hurt Harry, hurt him and kiss him, and hurt him and ravish him.

Harry was just as a mess as Voldemort.

He couldn’t believe what he was doing, what he was allowing Voldemort to do. So long had he spent hating this man, hating and wanting revenge. He wanted to hurt him, to keep kissing him, to hurt him and never come up for air. His brain kept going around and around in confusing circles and Harry just wanted it to stop, to just be silent so he could be here, enjoying this.

He just wanted to enjoy something for himself for once.

The thought snapped Harry back to his senses. How could enjoy something like this? He pushed Voldemort away, his own face along with the rest of him, flush with color. He felt disgusted, more with himself than anything. Voldemort just stood there, straightening himself, as if he too weren’t feeling the effects of what had passed between them.

“Get out.” The demand came boldly from Harry, for he didn’t care what happened to him now. This was something new he didn’t know how to deal with and he wasn’t sure he wanted to deal with it at all. He just knew he wanted to be alone.

For once, instead of acting out his aggression, Voldemort complied. He too needed to sort through some things. His eyes, red and swirling with desire, stared back at Harry momentarily before he seemingly glided out of the room.

When he heard the door click shut, Harry didn’t even bother to move to a chair. He sat, or more likely flopped on the floor beneath him.

What had happened?

What had happened?

Harry felt like vomiting. His stomach was a jumble of feelings and the only one to keep butting its ugly head was the feeling of arousal.  He couldn't get the mental image nor the feeling of Voldemort kissing him out of his head, no matter how hard he tried to distract himself.

It happened because he was confused.

It happened because he was here, alone, with no one to help him gauge what was right or wrong anymore.

It happened...it happened…

He wanted it to happen again.

He felt like he was losing his mind.


 

At some point in the middle of the night, Harry had picked himself up off the floor and trudged towards the bed, his head filled with nothing but anxiety. There were tiny pockets of pain poking his insides and he felt like he was constantly going to be sick. Above all though, he felt tired. He hadn’t done much since Voldemort left, just sat on the floor trying and failing to make sense of his feelings, but when his head hit the pillow, he willed his thoughts to stop and eventually they did, allowing Harry to fall asleep.

Harry was simply sitting on a park bench, beneath a giant tree that allotted him shade from the bright sun. The air was cool and crisp and the wind carried smells of sweet food. He’d missed that smell. It reminded him of being in the Burrow with his friends, his family, eating the delicious food Mrs. Weasley so skillfully made for them. He sat there on the bench, happily reminiscing of times when he truly felt happy.

He didn’t want it to end, the bright gloriousness of a sun he hadn’t seen in such a long time, and the memories of his childhood, but Harry knew it was a dream. It had taken only seconds for him to realize he was dreaming such a wonderful day, and he wanted it to last as long as it could.

Down the ways along a light brown dirt path that ran in front of his tree and his bench, were a couple of a people. A man and a woman Harry didn’t recognize. He didn’t care though. He just simply continued to watch them as they walked down the path, holding hands and delighting in each other’s company. When they reached Harry, they stopped suddenly, and shot horrible, horrifying looks his way.

Harry’s brows knitted together in confusion as the couple continued to silently stare at him. He instantly felt uncomfortable.

“What?” He blurted out at them.

Cackling laughter burst forth from the man and woman and they continued on down the path, leaving Harry to watch them in confusion. He suddenly wanted to get up and chase after them, make them tell him why they’d even bother to stop in front of him, but a finger tapped him on his shoulder.

Harry turned to see who touched him but no one was there. Again he felt someone tap his other shoulder but when he turned around, still no one was there. It was starting to drive him crazy. He stood up from the bench and took a sweeping look around him, the tree and the pathway.

The couple who’d come by were too far gone now for him to chase after. Harry sighed, frustrated by this confusing dream.

The wind had picked up, whipping around him now in waves. Suddenly the sweet smell of food changed to that of the ocean. He felt the spray of the water on his neck and when he turned to look, the sunshine suddenly dimmed.

He was no longer under the tree or beneath the warmth of the sun. Instead he was standing on a cold stone floor, a small patch of light breaking in from a tiny window on a stone covered wall. An iron door clanged shut behind him and he knew he was back in the prison cell.

Suddenly he wished to wake up, to at least be back in the familiar room with the familiar fireplace.

“Harry.” His name was spoken in a bodiless whisper, enveloping him in cold. It was Voldemort’s voice that spoke his name, which clouded his thoughts, and wiped away the happiness he had when this crazy dream began.

He wanted to scream, kick, throw anything anywhere but arms wound around his waist from behind. They grasped him in a hug, a body pressing up against his back. Harry was freezing and shivering as Voldemort leaned close to whisper in his ear.

“You intrigue me Harry. Your unbridled rage and constant tenacity is what pulls me in every time. I see myself in you, a lost lonely little boy with no one to turn to, no one to explain why you were left in the cold, why you and no one else. You may have a part of me inside you Harry, but when people look at you and think of me, it’s not my soul they see.”

Harry struggled to find his voice. “You’re killing me.” It was small, spoken just above a whisper, but true nonetheless. “I can feel myself slipping away.” And he could. His body was shaking and the tips of his toes and fingers began to feel numb. It was as if he was floating away, far away from here and this madness, escaping the building frustration that were his new feelings towards the Dark Lord.

Voldemort’s arm unwrapped themselves slowly, his hands pulling Harry around to face him. He looked the same, his skin inhumanly grey, eyes red as blood, but his face seemed softer, kinder almost. It didn’t hold the same marks and scars it normally did. Instead Voldemort stared back at him with patience and understanding.

“You’re trapped Harry, trapped with me, with your insanity.” The words seemed spoken from a distance, airily and light. Voldemort pulled Harry towards him, his arms rewinding themselves around his body. Suddenly Harry didn’t feel so cold at all. Instead warmth passed through him in dull waves, his entire body flush with heat. “There’s nowhere for you to run...so embrace it.”

Light shown between them, bright and calming and as Voldemort leaned close to press his lips against Harry’s forehead, against his scar, his arms found their way around the other’s neck, trustingly holding tight. His eyes shut closed as thinking melted away. What thoughts? What worries? Only now, here, with this light and warmth and pleasant feeling.

Yes.

“NO!” Harry sat up in bed, his entire body drenched in sweat. The sheets pooled around him and his clothes stuck uncomfortably to his skin. He tried to slow his breathing as hot tears ran down his face but he couldn’t stop the mini panic attack he was having. He swung his feet over the side of the bed and tried to ground himself.

It was just a dream.

You can fight this.

You have to.

Chapter Text

Harry hadn’t bothered to go back to sleep. All his nerves were shot and his mind was going a mile a minute. Sleep seemed the farthest from what he wanted to do. Instead he sat down in front of the ever burning fireplace and picked up the book he had been reading earlier.

It wasn't an interesting book really, he couldn’t even concentrate on what it was he was reading anyway, but the simple act of roaming over words and flipping through pages seemed enough to calm him down. He wondered briefly how late it had become but being trapped in a windowless room messed with his sense of time and of day or night.

Three meals a day were the only way to help him tell when it was morning and night but no food had been brought that evening. He remembered eating lunch and then Voldemort had come in, but he’d been sitting on the floor after their encounter and Peters hadn’t shown up with dinner at all.

Harry’s stomach growled as he tried to distract himself but when it started grumbling louder he put down the book and sighed. Maybe Voldemort was punishing him for interrupting their…interaction.

No. He couldn’t have. Voldemort had been just as confused as Harry about what had happened, right?

Harry sat up straight in the chair and wondered at that mental image. Voldemort had backed off pretty easily and left just as quickly. Was it possible that what was happening between them was a blossoming attraction? A mutual attraction?

Shaking his head, Harry stood up from the chair and paced in front of the fireplace. No, that wasn’t possible. The Dark Lord lived to hurt Harry. This was just another way to play to his weakness. Harry could admit to himself that the role of Hero came naturally to him, more so because he believed there had to be good in almost everyone.

Was there good in Voldemort?

Flashes of memories that weren’t his own came to Harry then, memories of Voldemort when he had been Tom Riddle, the troubled child at the orphanage, trying to find his way through life with no answers. He must have had some good in him then, before he knew who he was, who he’d want to become, even if he was already showcasing the ideals of his future self.

Harry could remember feeling the same way when he was younger, before his true life began at the age of eleven, but the difference was he chose the light every time whereas Tom chose the dark, the easier way out of difficult situations.

His dream, what Voldemort had told him, came back to him while he let his mind wonder. Harry reached towards his scar, feeling the skin around it raised slightly. Voldemort’s kiss had been so soft, so sweet. In his dream it had comforted him, calmed him, but now it only brought forth a sickening drop in his stomach and his fingers began to tingle as anxiety set in.

His stomach growled loudly again and Harry resigned to go looking for food. He left the room, peeking once again around the hallway to find no one outside. He set off in the opposite direction of the prison cell down a flight of stairs. Harry figured he had gone down two levels before finally seeing another door. He stopped to make sure no one was around before opening it.

He winced as the iron door made a loud noise, stopping again to check if anyone was coming. When no one ran up or down the stairs, he opened the door a little more, just enough to slip through.

The room was dark but for one candle on a small table next to the door. Harry grabbed the tin plate the candle sat on and brought it with him as he ventured further into the room. He thought for a moment that maybe he’d found the pantry but when he came across a few unlit candles on the wall next to him and lit them, he was sorely mistaken.

As more light illuminated the room, Harry saw at once that this was far from a pantry. It was just as dark and cold and made of stone as the cell he’d spent so much time in, but this room did not have any windows. In the center of the room stood a chair, occupied by a crumpled mess of what appeared as a body. Harry thought of turning back, of just forgetting his quest for food entirely and running back to whatever safety his room provided, but the curiosity in him poked at him, forcing him to walk towards the person in the chair.

The candle on the wall hadn’t provided much light towards the center of the room but when Harry crouched down by the chair and brought his candle up towards their face, he could see clearly who sat in it.

Squat body, mousey brown hair, and a familiar black velvet bow.

Dolores Umbridge sat, or rather, slumped in the chair. She’d been bound by rope, her even breathing indicating that she was simply asleep. She was also dirty, her clothes rustled and her hair askew. Harry could only assume she was passed out, having not easily woke when Harry entered the room.

He stared down at Umbridge, confused, surprised, but also angry. Anger flared quite suddenly as it always did when seeing this woman, but confusion won out on top. Harry reached out to touch her shoulder, wanting to jostle her awake and find out what she was doing here. Before he could do any of that though, he felt a cold hand on his own shoulder.

Harry whipped around to find Voldemort looming over him, annoyance apparent on his face. He grabbed a fist full of Harry’s shirt and dragged him out of the room. Voldemort slammed the door closed and rounded on Harry who was too stunned to make a break for it. He’d lost his footing and fell back on a couple of steps.

Voldemort peered down at him for a moment, the silence between them growing uncomfortable. Harry felt his insides squirming as he tried to stand, a flurry of emotions running wild inside his head. He opened his mouth to begin his barrage of questions when Voldemort grabbed his arm and began dragging him down the stairs.

Harry wanted to rip his arm away but he had a sickening problem with curiosity. It was only a few more flights down from the room where Umbridge was being held but they stopped suddenly in front of another door.

The Dark Lord wasted no time in swinging it open to reveal the moonlight, or more importantly a balcony which currently sat under a night sky, and tossing Harry out onto it.

Sudden cold hit Harry as he collided with the floor of the balcony. Outside was cool and much different than the fireplace he was used to. It instantly set into his bones as he stood and looked around.

It was a small space that jutted out on the side of the tower, small but open. The night sky spread out above Harry, the moon and stars were bright and shining down on him. For a moment, Harry forgot where he was. The sheer brilliance of seeing such an open space instantly made him feel better, calmer.

He walked to the edge of the balcony and placed his hands on the railing. He looked down below and saw nothing but ocean waves crashing up against the tower. There was no land in site, not at the base of the tower or outward into the vast sea.

Harry was very much alone.

“I had planned for you to get a good night’s rest before we started in the morning.” Voldemort had come up next to him at some point, standing about an arm’s length away. Harry didn’t want him to be here, not now when he could feel the air whip around him and a subtle spray from the water below.

“Does it have something to do with Umbridge?”

Voldemort didn’t answer at once, instead staring off into the vast illuminated darkness. “Yes.” He turned to Harry then, that wicked smile playing on his face. “Call it a gift.”

Harry backed away from the railing. “A gift?”

“I’m going to teach you a very important lesson, Harry.”

“What, patience?”

Voldemort chuckled. “No.” He gestured for Harry to come back towards the railing.

Harry didn’t want to but he also didn’t want to run back to the room just yet. He was enjoying this small break of fresh air. He stubbornly went back to the railing, flinching as Voldemort wrapped an arm around his shoulders. He absolutely hated this, hated the normalcy of this situation. He instead focused on the night sky.

“Look where we are Harry, look out and see that there is no one around to hear you scream.” Harry shuddered, extremely aware of the obvious isolation. “Go ahead. Scream, yell. Rant and rave if you must.” Voldemort gestured outwardly, removing his arm from around Harry’s shoulder.

Harry stared back at him, perplexed. “You want me to yell?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

Voldemort shrugged. “To prove a point, or several. Go on.”

Wondering briefly if he’d somehow slipped into another dream, Harry looked outward yet again. He opened his mouth to yell but all that came out was a tiny ahhhh. His face suddenly flushed.

Voldemort scoffed and grabbed Harry by the shoulders, holding him a good distance away. “Come on, that was pathetic. Really, let it out Harry! Like this.”

And he did just that. Voldemort let go of Harry, throwing his arms up into the air and shouted so loud out towards the sea Harry had to suddenly cover his ears, if only because he was suddenly startled at the sight of the Dark Lord yelling at nothing.

When Voldemort finished and looked at Harry he had a different look about him. Harry was unsure of all of this. It was just too strange, but when Voldemort gestured again for Harry to let loose and yell, he turned to face the ocean water and prepared himself.

He took a deep breath, let it out and took another one in. Balling his hands into fists, he opened his mouth and out came the loudest yell he had ever done in his life.

“AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

It kept going until he could no longer breathe and ended up with a tiny laugh. It suddenly felt freeing, yelling at nothing. He could feel his anxiety levels become non-existent as he opened his mouth to yell again.

Voldemort stood back, watching Harry with his wicked smile plastered on his face. He watched as Harry took three more times to yell. When Harry didn’t have any more in him, Voldemort took a step toward him, placing a hand firmly on the other’s shoulder. “How did that feel?”

Harry stared up at him, a bit out of breath. His face was flush and reddening the longer he looked at Voldemort. “Better.” And he did. If he had to be honest with himself, he felt better than he had in a long time.

“Good.” Voldemort smiled. “After our little appointment tomorrow, you may have free reign of the tower, including this space. Don’t make me regret my decision.”

“What are we doing tomorrow?”

Voldemort’s smile grew, twisting into an unpleasant grin. “You’ll have to wait and see.”


 

Harry had completely forgotten that he was hungry. He was already so tired by the time he was came back to his room. He climbed into the bed and within seconds he’d fallen into a dreamless sleep.

The next morning Harry woke to a big breakfast spread sitting on the table by the fireplace. He hopped out of bed, feeling a little lighter than he had the night before. Eating up the food as quickly as he could, he ducked into the bathroom to wash up.

When he remembered that Voldemort had something planned for him that morning, a sickening feeling formed in his stomach. He wondered all throughout washing and dressing what exactly it was that he had in store for Harry. It couldn’t be good, not with the way Voldemort was talking about it.

Harry didn’t have too long to think about it as he exited the bathroom. Voldemort was waiting patiently by the door of the bedroom. Harry silently and quickly followed him out of the room and down the stairs. When they reached the door to the room Umbridge was being held in, Harry could feel the pit in his stomach growing. He tried to watch Voldemort’s face for any telltale signs of what he was getting into but as always it was passive and unexpressive when the Dark Lord didn’t want to give away his next move.

Harry watched, his breath hitching in his throat, as the iron door opened and the candles inside lit up. He could see more of the room now but it was practically empty. Inside sat Umbridge, who had woken up at some point, in the chair in the middle of the room.

She held a look of wonder and fear on her face, different from the smug look Harry had been used to. When he entered the room behind Voldemort, she suddenly looked bewildered and utterly confused.

Her eyes danced between Harry and the Dark Lord before finally settling on Harry. The last time he’d seen her was at the ministry under the guise of Albert Runcorn when he had needed the locket Horcrux.

The last he had heard she was in good standing at the Ministry and even though she sat before him, bound by rope, the thought that she’d never been thoroughly punished caused his anger to flare.

Voldemort could feel the tide of Harry’s emotions breaking off of him in waves. He smiled at his captive, one that made her flinch when she chanced another glance at him.

“My dear Dolores. I apologize for the poor commendations.” He spoke, walking around to stand behind her.

Dolores Umbridge wasn’t a stupid woman. Closed-minded and absolutely horrible, but not stupid. However, she was uncomfortably tied to a chair in a dark room and she was mad. “Where am I?” She asked, a bit of an edge to her voice. She knew who she spoke to but she was too upset to care. Her eyes never left Harry.

Voldemort rounded on her to walk behind Harry, surveying them both. “It’s no matter where you are. You won’t be around long enough to care.”

Harry turned to him then, brows knitted together in consternation. “What do you mean?”

“You are going to kill her, Harry.”

“What?” It came from both Harry and Umbridge at the exact same time. Umbridge of course more concerned about this piece of news then Harry, but both were equally surprised.

Harry took a few steps away from Voldemort. “What do you mean, kill her? I’m not killing anybody.”

“You can’t kill me, I’m Senior Undersecr-”

“Silence!” Voldemort’s voice boomed from him as he crossed the room towards Harry. He had directed it at Umbridge but he kept his gaze on Harry. He grasped the other’s shoulders, at first hard but then he softened his grip. “Hasn’t there always been a part of you that wanted to rip her throat out?” He asked, grinning wickedly.

The smallest part of Harry spoke up in the back in his mind. Maybe the thought had crossed his mind once or twice in a fit of rage after those damnable detentions, but all he had to do was rant and rave to Hermione until all the steam had left him. The back of his hand suddenly itched, the memory of those words carved into his skin bringing back some of that anger. Harry set his jaw hard and stared back at Voldemort. “No.”

Keeping his composure, Voldemort squeezed gently on Harry’s shoulders. “Come now, not even a little? There’s no reason to lie to me, Harry. She did terrible things to innocent children, to you. She may have had a place under my new regime but she is more useful here to you now.”

“I’m not lying.” He said, brushing the other’s hands off of him. He made his way towards the door, ready to leave and receive any punishment Voldemort would give.

“Mr. Po- Harry?” It was so small, Umbridge’s voice, but it was enough to make Harry turn around. Her eyes were wide and suddenly fearful. “I-I’ve always thought you we-were a good student, that you just needed a push in the ri-right direction.” Harry watched as she fumbled over her words. “If only you hadn’t aligned yourself with those children, you-”

“What?” Harry asked, taking a step closer to her. “With those children? You mean my friends?”

“Yes!” She nodded. “If you had left them to their rebellious ways, you could have been great under my teachings. I really think so.”

Harry couldn’t believe what she was saying. She should have been begging him for help or pity, or something, but instead she was busy digging her grave even deeper.

Anger boiled over in Harry as he made his way back towards the center of the room, towards her and a patient, watchful Voldemort. “Excuse me?”

Umbridge struggled briefly against her bindings. “You could have been so much better than them! You could have stopped this war before it began!”

She was blaming him. She was tied up and possibly saying her last words and she was blaming him!

Harry felt like he couldn’t take it anymore. The contempt he had for this woman, this disgusting piece of trash, was showing on his face, showing in his balled up fists, in the way he glared down at her. He was shaking with such rage that he felt like he might burst.

Before he knew it, Voldemort had come up behind him. Harry could feel the coldness creeping into him, into his bones, melding into his anger and making it so much more. He could feel his arm raising in front of him, Voldemort’s hand guiding him. What had suddenly appeared as if coming straight from his hand, was a small dagger.

Harry knew he had no magic so he logically assumed that the Dark Lord had made it appear. He wanted to throw it out of his hand, to remove himself from the vicinity of this icy aura but the pain and anger inside him was holding on too tightly.

“Harry…” His name rumbled from Voldemort’s throat, rolling and floating around him as it had in his dreams. He tried to suppress a shudder at the sound but he failed and felt himself slipping, his body relaxing against the other’s. He didn’t seem to care that he was about to commit a horrible act. Underneath his hate and anger was a resting calm, a guiding force that whispered words of encouragement. From where they came, Harry had no idea but now it seemed the right thing to do.

Umbridge stared up at the both of them, bewildered and disgusted. She couldn’t help a tiny whimper from escaping her lips as she trembled in the chair. “Harry...please…”

Voldemort pressed up against Harry, as close as he could get. Leaning over, he whispered in his ear. “She says your name as if she cares.”

“She doesn’t.” It was his own voice now, distant and different. Where skepticism once stood it had been replaced with certainty. Unfazed by her pleas and cries for help and uncaring for the tears that had begun to well in her tiny little eyes, Harry brought his hand upwards on his own. He turned the dagger around in his hand and as Voldemort’s hand slipped away from guiding him, Harry brought it down in one downward thrust.

It surely found its’ mark as it landed with a sickening thud in the chest of Dolores Umbridge.

The look of horror streaking across her face snapped Harry back from where ever he had gone. He stared down at her and watched as the light instantly left her eyes. She slumped forward in her bindings, blood already starting to run down her signature pink suit.

Harry’s heartbeat quickened and suddenly he was very much aware of he had just done. He looked at his own hands and then back to the dagger that lay in Umbridge’s chest. Panic set in and he couldn’t seem to focus on anything around him. He tried to slow his breathing but it was out of control. He looked around the room and saw Voldemort walking towards him.

“Get away from me!” He yelled, flailing his hands at the other. “What have you done to me?” Harry doubled over, practically falling to the floor.

The Dark Lord grinned as he kept moving towards Harry. He loomed over the other and watched as Harry scrambled on the floor beneath him, trying to get as much distance from the Dark Lord as possible.

“All I provided was the push you needed.”

“I killed her!” Harry yelled.

Voldemort chuckled. “You did. You took that poor woman’s life. Look at her Harry, look at what your hatred has made.” He gestured to the deceased body in the middle of the room. “Isn’t it beautiful?” He added, genuinely in awe of Harry’s work.

Tears started to fall down Harry’s face as he couldn’t hold back his anxiety any longer. He wanted out of this room, out of this tower. Hell, he wanted to find the balcony and jump off from the railing because oh god, what had he done?

Voldemort crooked a finger and in one motion Harry’s body lifted on its own. He found himself floating a few inches off the floor. “Let me go!” He yelled, his limbs flying all about as he felt his body floated towards the other, just out of arm's’ reach.

“You are an adult Harry, act like one.”

“Screw you!”

Harry slammed against the ground at Voldemort’s feet. Pain flared throughout his body at the collision against stone. Voldemort laughed again but when he crouched down to lift Harry’s head by the chin, his expression held anything but glee. His red eyes burned into Harry, a flurry of emotions. “Someday you will thank me, beg me even for my gratitude. Now stand.”

Jerking his head out of Voldemort’s grasp, Harry reluctantly stood. He made sure to keep his gaze away from Umbridge’s body, looking anywhere else in the room. Luckily he didn’t have to do so for long as Voldemort grabbed Harry’s arm and dragged him out of the room.

The iron door shut behind them so loudly, Harry flinched, but neither stopped walking as he was led back up the stairs. Voldemort didn’t let go until they’d reached the bedroom, in which he threw Harry into it.

Harry caught himself on one of the chairs and held on for support. His knees felt weak but he had to keep standing, had to try and be ready for whatever else the Dark Lord had planned. How much worse could it get?

Voldemort procured a quill from one of the pockets from his robes. He held it up and watched as Harry watched him. “Do you remember this at all?”

When Harry didn’t answer, Voldemort let loose an agonizing sigh. “This belonged to her.”

Her. Umbridge.

“It's the quill that gave you the scars on your hand.” Harry knew but he still couldn’t bring himself to speak. He watched as Voldemort came closer, the quill held between two fingers. “I want to give you another small gift.” Before Harry could react, Voldemort reached out his empty hand and clasped one of Harry’s in his grasp.

The feeling upon contact was instant. Suddenly Harry felt light, brighter and more joyous than the situation called for. There was tiny buzzy feeling enveloping him, warming him.

Voldemort had given Harry back his magic.

Harry stared at the other, wonder and amazement crossing his face. It felt unbelievable, as if he hadn’t felt this way in so long. And he hadn’t. The feeling of his magic coursing through him again lifted his spirits and provided a small comfort.

It was all too overwhelming.

“How?”

“I put many wards around this place, including one for your magic. Couldn’t have you trying anything before I set my plans into motion.”

For a moment Harry felt more like himself then he had in a long time, but the feeling left as quickly as it came. Voldemort held out the quill for Harry to take with his free hand. Apparently Voldemort couldn’t let go of the hand he was holding. This was only meant to be temporary. Harry took the quill hesitantly. “I-”

Harry gasped out loud, for when he touched the quill his body became rigid and he’d lost all control of himself again.

It burned deep down inside. Burned and scratched, clawing its way to the surface. The light within him burst forth, pain and warmth and loss spreading throughout him all at the same time.

He could feel it within every vein, the unending brilliance that was this light. How could one feel such emotions ripping and tearing their way through him, battling it out inside, and not scream?

For he did scream. He screamed so loud and so long it became pure energy in the room, pure power from deep down inside.

The warmth enfolded him then and he instantly knew that this was his magic, coiling around him as a blanket in the cold. It provided comfort and protection as his very soul split down the middle.

An underlying, terrifying feeling poked at the bottom of this transformation, like a fingernail scratching at the back of his brain.

Feed me.’ It whispered.

Feed me until I burst.’

Then the light flickered out and Harry slumped to the floor. Voldemort let go of his hand and took back the gift of magic. He watched as Harry lay in a crumpled mess, his breathing even as if he were asleep.

He took the quill from Harry’s other hand and stuffed it back into his pocket before leaning down to help Harry. He picked him up and carried him to the bed, laying him down rather gently. As Harry lay there, asleep and unaware, Voldemort ran a finger over the lightning bolt scar.

Harry had done so well, taking to the quill as quickly as Voldemort had planned. He cursed the object prior so that upon contact with Harry’s skin it would enact the curse he knew so well. The curse he had set upon his soul many times before. A curse requiring a murder before it could come to fruition.

Voldemort had just made Harry create a Horcrux of his own.

Harry stirred slowly, opening his eyes to stare up at the wicked grin splayed across Voldemort’s face. He suddenly felt very tired, his body screaming at him to rest. He no longer felt the weightlessness of his magic and knew it had been taken away. He saw the grin slip slowly from the other’s face.

“Your eyes.” Voldemort whispered, completely taken aback by what he was looking at.

“What about my eyes?” Harry croaked out, too exhausted to move.

Voldemort leaned closer, his hand moving from touching Harry’s scar to gently gliding down along his eyebrow to his cheek and across to the bottom of the other eye. The simple touch sent shivers across Harry’s skin but still he watched the other’s face move in a flurry of emotions. “They’re not your Mother’s any longer.”

Chapter Text

Shattered glass lay in piles around Harry’s feet. The mirror they had come from stood almost barren of its reflected surface. Harry stood in front of it, his hands shaking, his heart hammering and his fists bleeding. The sight he had just seen rendered him speechless, his legs immobile. The only thing he thought to do was destroy the mirror, destroy the image in front of him.

He heard the door to the wash room being opened and instantly rounded on whoever had the nerve to come inside. “Get out!” He barked, throwing a large piece of glass that sat in the sink before him. It shattered on the wall next to Peters’ head but the man made no move to flinch away. Instead he stared at Harry, watching him fume in anger. Peters suddenly couldn’t bring himself to look away once his eyes had reached Harry’s.

No, he was genuinely surprised at what he saw. When normally he found hard green eyes glaring back at him, instead were now a red hue, a red hue just like the Dark Lord’s, but with a minor difference. Flakes of gold stood out, dotting Harry’s eyes with a bright contrast against the dark red. Peters had never seen eyes like these before and found himself staring intensely at them.

Harry stood there, annoyed, heartbroken, and embarrassed. He yelled for Peters to leave again and when he didn’t, Harry grabbed another piece of glass and chucked it towards him.

When the second shard hit Peters in the cheek, he snapped out of his daze. His eyes narrowed on the man before him and he was once again back to his old self. He thrust clean towels at Harry and with a grunt, departed both the washroom and the bedroom in one swift movement.

Harry stood there, mad beyond belief. He didn’t think he could get much angrier but it pulsed nonstop through his veins. His eyes, his bloody eyes. It was a cruel joke. A punishment for letting Voldemort use him as he did.

It hadn’t been Voldemort’s hand that brought down the dagger into Umbridge’s chest. No, that had been all Harry. If he was to be honest with himself, the moment the weapon was in his hand, he no longer needed whispered guidance to murder her.

And now fate had become cruel, had taken away the one thing Harry had left to ground him.

When he’d woken the night before and felt Voldemort touch him so tenderly, he hadn’t taken in what the Dark Lord had said. He figured it had all been some bad nightmare, that Voldemort could have made Harry do these horrendous things and still be so gentle with him. He hadn’t expected to see what stared back at him moments before.

He hadn’t expected to break the mirror either, but he was far from caring now. What more could he do to seal his unfortunate fate to this tower? To this monster?

Harry seemed to deflate at this thought. All the anger was still there, twisting and swirling around inside, ready to burst, but something else peeked through.

Harry was sad.

He was unbelievably sad.

Another opening of the bedroom door alerted Harry. He swung out of the wash room ready to yell at Peters to just leave him alone but instead he was greeted with a very somber looking Voldemort.

Voldemort made no sound as he crossed the room towards Harry, who stood watching the other reach out a hand to gingerly touch his face. His fingers felt like they always did, like ice. Harry flinched back and ducked around Voldemort towards the fireplace. His hands continued to bleed, leaving a droplet trail from the wash room to where he now sat.

“I can heal those for you.” Voldemort said, following to the other chair. The air between them was stiff and strained, unsurprisingly unfriendly.

Harry looked down at his knuckles. He flexed both hands and winced at the sudden prickly pain. “I’m fine.” He lied. He was far from fine.

Voldemort stared at Harry, not saying much more. The tense silence between them was growing and Harry was starting to feel squirmy under the other’s gaze.

“What?” Harry asked, annoyed and frustrated. He knew Voldemort was staring at his eyes, at his horrible deformity. He looked away, eyes downcast so that the world wouldn’t see them.

In one motion, Voldemort was out of his chair, his hand gently grasping Harry’s chin, turning it up to face him. He continued to stare down at the marvel that were these eyes and Harry couldn’t seem to look away either.

“Don’t be ashamed, Harry. I can see the real you peeking through.”

Heat flushed Harry’s face as he smacked Voldemort’s hand away. He wanted to get out of the chair but he was blocked from doing so, trapped. He tried to look away again but failed when Voldemort grasped him by his shirt and yanked him upwards.

Harry struggled in his grasp. “Let me go.” He tried to pry the other’s hands off the fabric but Voldemort’s fingers wouldn’t budge. “Get away from me.” Harry demanded.

Voldemort chuckled and tossed Harry to the floor. Blood from Harry’s knuckles streaked against the stone as he tried to steady himself. Before he could find some footing, Voldemort knocked him to the floor once again. The second time, he made no point of moving other than to shift so he laid on his back. He watched Voldemort loom over him, watched his red eyes burn brightly.

“You seem to forget who is in charge here. Get up.”

Harry hesitated but eventually pushed himself off the floor. Voldemort grabbed Harry’s hands, holding them in his own. The prickly pain was unending as the fresh wounds pressed against the other’s skin. All the habitual feelings of wanting to get as far away from the Dark Lord as possible lay on the surface of his mind, but he knew there’d be no point. There was nowhere to run.

Voldemort sighed as he turned Harry’s hands over in his own. He pulled his wand out from a pocket in his robes and pointed it at Harry’s knuckles. Muttering a spell, bandages flew out of the tip of the wand and wrapped themselves around the injured knuckles and fingers. Instant relief followed.

Harry’s shoulders, which he hadn’t realized he’d been tensing, slacked, as some of his anger ebbed away. The relief from the bandages seemed to curb his bad mood but the feeling of being incomplete still remained.

“What have you done to me?” Harry asked, knowing the other knew he wasn’t talking about the bandages.

Quietly, Voldemort put his wand back into his pocket and stared down at Harry’s eyes once more. “I have made you more then you could ever possibly be. I’m unlocking your true potential.”

Harry turned away. “You’re turning me into a monster. I-” He hesitated, unsure if he should finish saying anything. His anger was constantly running deep within him, but he didn’t want to be flung to the floor again. Voldemort waited though, waited for what he had to say. Harry cleared his throat. “I feel like I’m going crazy, being trapped in here.”

“You’re not ready.”  Voldemort moved across the room again, back to his chair by the fireplace. 

Harry followed, unfortunately curious. “What do you mean?”

Voldemort eyed Harry for a moment before speaking. His eyes kept flicking back up towards Harry’s which caused Harry to look away again. “You’re not ready to be let out of your cage.” The words were simply said, no inflection, no malice. He was purely stating a fact that Harry was indeed trapped in a stone cage.

“So, you’re saying someday I’ll be able to leave?” Harry looked back at him then, hopefulness spread on his face.

Resisting the urge to crush said look, Voldemort rolled his eyes. “Someday, yes, but you are far from that. We still have a lot of work to do.”

Harry stiffened from where he stood. “I’m not killing anyone else.”

Voldemort chuckled. “Don’t you get it? You don’t have a choice now, Harry. And honestly,” He said, rising once again from the chair. He used to be able to tower over the other with great ease but the gap between their height differences weren’t as large anymore. Voldemort didn’t have to crane his neck as much anymore to look at Harry. “Didn’t it feel good to rid the world of such a vile woman?”

Anger reared its ugly head again, like a burst of energy coursing through Harry’s veins. He watched as Voldemort came closer to him and instead of trying to retreat, he stood his ground, the warmth of the fire behind him giving some support. “Nobody deserves to die.”

Smirking, Voldemort closed the gap between them. He reached a hand up to gingerly grip Harry’s chin. “You should keep that in mind with our next guest. I love proving you wrong.” 

Harry tried to move his head away but Voldemort only tightened his once gentle grip, drawing Harry’s face towards his own. Hands gripped Voldemort’s robes, trying to push him away but Harry’s body started to once again feel heavy.

He hated this man beyond all reason but Harry couldn’t bring himself to struggle any longer.

When Voldemort’s lips brushed his own, the pit in his stomach that had been stirring since he’d woken up, grew larger and sank deeper. This dramatic mixture of feelings was provocative and seemingly magnetic. While Harry felt the tiniest urge to pull away, to get away from this toxic man, he just as equally wanted to stay right where he was.

Shame brought Harry back and he pulled away. “I can’t, this is-” His voice began to waiver as tears came to his eyes. No. Not his eyes, those were not his eyes. Those were someone else’s and Harry was still Harry. He grabbed at the folds in Voldemort’s robes and shoved him away, trying to put as much distance between them as he could. “You’re obsessed.”

“With you? Of course.” Voldemort stood where Harry had shoved him. He spoke so matter-of-factly that it pushed Harry over the edge.

“Why? Because I have a piece of your soul inside me? That doesn’t make me like you!” Harry was yelling now, raging mad. “I never asked for this!” His voice broke and the tears that had been welling up now began to fall. He felt like he was crying much more than he ever usually did but Harry wasn’t ever one to shy away from expressing his emotions.

Voldemort moved then, forward to reach out and grip Harry by the shoulders. Though Harry struggled to brush him aside, Voldemort held on firmly. “You’re right!” He matched Harry’s volume. “You’re so right, you never asked to my downfall, or to be the chosen one, or even the hero everyone wanted you to be. Your choices were made for you since the day you were born and have always been made for you and will continue to be made for you until the day you die!”

Harry tried to push him away again. “Get off me!”

“I can give you your freedom, Harry.”

“You’re crazy!”

A force pushed Harry away, out of Voldemort’s hands, up against the iron door to the room. His back hit hard and his breath caught in his throat. Voldemort quickly rushed him then, hoisting him up by the scruff of his shirt. He was no longer yelling, no, he was quite calm now, solid, and deeply calm as he spoke. “I am liberated. I am free from the ties that bound me when I was younger. I’ve been where you are, Harry. Everyone made my choices for me and in the end I freed myself from their rules, their restrictions.”

For a moment, Harry struggled to breath, to even speak. He watched as Voldemort’s eyes scanned his face. He wasn’t sure what the Dark Lord was looking for but he felt as if Voldemort could see into his soul. He swallowed hard. “So, you’d make me like you then? You’d take everything away so that I could be just like you, alone and insane?”

Silence passed between them then, a silence that caused Voldemort to remove himself from Harry’s space. He took a few steps back. “In the beginning, all I wanted to do was hurt you. I wanted to make you suffer because you were my enemy, but you’re not. I’ve seen that for a while now. You are not my enemy, nor I yours.”

Harry leaned up against the door, anything to give his shaky knees support. He wiped his face with the back of his hand, the bandages helping to remove the traces of his tears. It felt as if all the fight in him had gone out. He only felt tired now. “Why do you talk to me like this?”

“Like what?” Voldemort asked, watching as Harry ran a hand through his hair.

“Normal. You tell me these things like we’re talking about the weather.”

“I’m only being honest with you.”

Harry sighed and ran that same hand down the side of his face. “But why?”

Voldemort turned and walked back to the fireplace. He sat down in the chair he normally did and gestured for Harry to do the same.

Hesitantly, Harry did just that. He couldn’t relax in the chair, no, now he felt like he must be guard and wondered briefly when he stopped thinking he had to be.

Both sat in silence, watching each other. Some time had passed before Voldemort spoke. “I don’t know how else I’m going to get you to understand that we are more alike than you think. I didn’t think for a moment that it would be easy, especially for you, because it wasn’t easy for me to see what my future held. The uneasiness of what lies ahead of us, the unknown. Everyone else around me had my future planned. At first, that’s what I thought I wanted, the security of knowing I belonged with others like me.” Voldemort shifted a bit in his chair, becoming more relaxed as he continued to talk openly. “But even under the guise of safety, I was still unlike those around me. I chose to make my own fate, my own future, and look where that’s gotten me.”

Red eyes locked with gold flecked ones. “I won’t ever lie to you, Harry.”

Harry’s face flushed with color. Hearing those words stirred something inside, confusion being among them. If Harry were to be honest with himself again, he’d know that Voldemort was telling the truth, he had been since Harry arrived at this stone prison. He’d even offered up truths about himself unprovoked and unasked like he was doing now.

He was trying to get Harry to trust him, to truly trust him.

Could he?

Looking away, Harry stared at the only constant thing in his life, the unending flames in the fireplace. He watched as they danced around the logs, expanding and cracking in a chorus. The thoughts in his head danced just as freely. They changed, rearranged, and morphed into unexpected thoughts. Voldemort spoke of freedom, freedom from rules and restrictions, and while it all sounded like an easier way out of all this muddle mess of his life, Harry just couldn’t bring himself to give up, to give in to a description of a perfectly self-controlled life.

Not on the deaths of others.

How could anyone trust someone over that?

Harry was so lost in his thoughts he hadn’t heard Voldemort stand, but when he placed a hand on Harry’s shoulder, he stopped thinking altogether. He looked up at the face of the man he hated, because he still hated him didn’t he?

“We had a deal, Harry.” The words weren’t harsh, or loud. Instead they were spoken softly, a reminder.

A twinge in his chest caught his breath in his throat. He felt as if his heart physically hurt.

It was ironic that Voldemort spoke of freedom when he kept Harry locked up in this tower, but Harry had made the deal that saved Draco’s life, willingly. Deep down inside he knew that if he wanted to continue keeping everyone he loved safe, he would have to start playing along.

His life wasn’t his any longer and though the Dark Lord spoke about becoming his own person, Harry wasn’t sure he’d ever see himself again. It had begun when he looked in the mirror that morning. His eyes were not his own and he would never be free.


 

It was late at night when Harry awoke from yet another horrifying nightmare. Just like all the others, it never made sense in his dream, only in his waking life did he grasp what was going on.

Harry sighed and swung his feet over the edge of the bed. His skin was clammy, new sweat piling on top of the old and his hair lay far more disheveled than it normally did. The final realization he had to come earlier that day in the presence of Voldemort was like a shock to the system. He had shut down after their conversation and hadn’t eaten anything Peters had delivered. All he wanted to do was sleep so he crawled into bed and shut his eyes, wanting to shut the world out as well.

This was his life now but he didn’t have to enjoy it. It felt as if Voldemort expected Harry to just suddenly be okay with the fact that he was alone and changing into something he hated. He wanted to keep fighting, keep pushing back as far he could, to avoid the inevitability of what he would become. He wanted to be Harry just a little while longer.

Standing up to pace the room, Harry’s thoughts wandered to guessing who would be the next person he’d had to face, to kill. Umbridge had been somebody in Voldemort’s new regime inner circle at The Ministry, yet he took her as easily as plucking a flower from the ground. She would be the first because she would be the easiest for Harry to hate.

Whoever this next person was, it wouldn’t anyone that Harry considered a friend or family. No, Voldemort had made good on his side of the deal and hadn’t harmed them or would harm them by making them his next victim.

So who could it be?

Harry thought of all the people he disliked, all the people who had done him wrong on a colossal scale. He realized the list was small and wondered if it would grow the more he became less like his old self.

Would he eventually begin to like killing? Or was it even about killing for the sole purpose of pleasure? Voldemort murdered people but never without a reason to. He left the chaos of mindless killing for his followers to revel in, like rabid dogs without leashes.

Harry felt sick to his stomach. He stopped pacing and sat down in one of the chairs by the fire. It took him a moment to realize he had sat in the chair Voldemort usually occupied. He made a move to get up, to propel from the seat when a scent caught him. He leaned back in the chair and pressed his nose to a cushioned side. It smelled of Voldemort, a scent Harry often noticed when in close proximity of the Dark Lord.

Voldemort smelled of fire on a summer night, so contrast to that of his person and his touch. Harry closed his eyes and pictured crunchy fallen leaves upon the ground, the moon full and shining brightly from the purple sky above. The fire from the fireplace crackled in his thoughts as a bonfire, large boisterous flames reaching just as high as the trees that stood in the distance. All of this he could see, as if dreaming while awake.

Harry’s eyes snapped open and he launched himself from the chair. His heart was hammering in his chest and his mind was a jumble of thoughts and emotions. He could feel himself slipping away.

Chapter Text

It had been almost a week since Harry saw Voldemort again. When he asked Peters, he got the same reply as he always did, Voldemort was away and busy.

Remembering he was allowed to roam the tower freely, Harry spent the majority of his time out of the bedroom, coming upon locked and unlocked doors alike. The ones he could open held only other dark and dank rooms much as the same as Umbridge had been held in.

Beyond the door to the balcony, of which he often frequented, the only other room Harry found worth going into was the kitchen.

Harry had assumed that all the food he’d been brought had come from somewhere outside the tower, conjured there by Peters, but he was wrong.

It wasn’t anything like the one at the Burrow. It was bereft of any homey feeling and held only the essentials with which to cook with. A squared wooden table sat in the center. It more closely resembled Grimmauld Place and the thought left Harry missing practically everyone.

From time to time, Harry found himself on the balcony, watching the unending waves that surrounded him. His favorite time to sit and lean against the railing was at dusk. He’d shut his eyes and imagine being far away, and when he opened them it’d be pitch dark. The sky would light up with the moon and the stars. Sometimes it gave him hope, others it only reminded him of how far away he was from everything he knew.

The morning Voldemort has returned to the tower, Harry had been roaming the stairway, making his way towards the kitchen. Whoever was making the food had started to leave his meals there instead of in his room. Harry had opened the door to the kitchen, his stomach growling for food, when he stopped dead.

The Dark Lord seemed out of place in this room, sitting at the wooden table. Frankly he seemed out of place anywhere in the tower, but sitting at the table during the light of day, across from Harry’s placed breakfast was far more off than normal.

Harry wasn’t exactly sure what to do. He thought for a moment about turning on his heel and running back to the room, but he knew that Voldemort would just follow him there. His stomach growled loudly again as the smell of food reached him by the door and decided he might as well have an awkward breakfast then an awkward time while starving.

He walked slowly to his chair, watching Voldemort watch him. He took a seat and pulled up to the table, his face suddenly flush as he continued inwardly debating whether or not to eat.

Voldemort chuckled and gestured to Harry’s food. “Eat, please. I wouldn’t want you to starve.”

Harry was still unsure but when his stomach growled a third time with an added painful squeeze, he picked up the fork and started in. A few more uncomfortable moments of silence passed between them and Harry couldn’t stand it. He knew logically there was nowhere to hide in this tower but the week Voldemort had been gone Harry had started to feel a bit like his old self again.

When the silence stretched too long, Harry slammed his fork down on the table. “Where were you?” While Harry really wanted to ask ‘why are you here?’ or ‘can’t you leave me alone?’, his curiosity won out again.

Voldemort shifted in his chair, leaning back to sit casually. “I was busy getting things prepared.”

“Prepared?” A pit dropped in Harry’s stomach, but he kept his voice even.

“Yes, murder shouldn’t be so reckless.”

Suddenly Harry didn’t feel so hungry anymore. He felt sick to his stomach almost instantly, recoiling as he pushed his food across the table, glaring heavily at Voldemort. “No.”

Tsking, Voldemort stood from his chair. When he made to move towards the other, Harry jumped up from his own chair and started backing away. “Harry-”

“Shut up.” It burst forth from Harry’s mouth before he could stop himself. Already he could see Voldemort straining to throw him across the room, if only because he was caught off guard by the sudden command. Harry hesitated but he stood his ground. “I’m not murdering anyone anymore.”

“We had a de-”

“I don’t care!” It was loud and boisterous and though it came from Harry, it reminded him of his Uncle Dursley when he would yell at the top of his lungs. Harry grabbed hold of the chair he had been sitting in and chucked it towards the Dark Lord.

It exploded without even touching Voldemort, shards of wood splattering across the room. A few big pieces hit Harry in the shins and shoulders but the smaller pieces cut him wherever skin was exposed. He tried his best to cover his face with his arms but it didn’t help much.

When the last of the wood fell to the floor, Harry lowered his arms and watched as Voldemort sauntered over to him. They were furious with each other but neither chose to spoke. Harry would have chosen to do more reckless things but without his magic he didn’t see the point. Every move he made, Voldemort was one step ahead, and that infuriated him even more.

“You can do what you want with me, I’m not killing anyone.”

Voldemort’s face was tense, his eyes boring down upon Harry, but then suddenly it relaxed and a smirk found its way to his lips. Without saying a word, he grabbed Harry by the arm and dragged him along, out of the kitchen and back up the spiraling stone stairway.

Harry’s anger quickly turned to fear but he tried his best not to let it show. He followed along, tripping here and there over a few steps as Voldemort pulled him onwards. When they passed by the familiar door that housed Harry’s bedroom, he started to panic. The only other rooms beyond that one were the wash room and the cell at the top of the tower and he seriously doubted that he was in need of a good wash.

When they passed the washroom, Harry’s heart began to hammer heavily in his chest. He started to pull back, trying to pull his arm out from the vulture like grip Voldemort had on him. “W-wait.” He stammered. “Wait, please-”

The iron door that led to the cell stood ominously in view, waiting, almost taunting Harry as they reached it. Voldemort swung it open with ease and tossed Harry inside. He stood in the doorway, watching as Harry frantically scrambled to his feet. He waited as Harry looked around the room, anxious and scared.

Nervously, Harry stared back at Voldemort. He didn’t want to be in here, not by himself. This was one room he made sure he never revisited when exploring the castle. It was tucked away and out of sight, out of mind, but now he was back here and he was scared.

“I think a little time out is in order. I hate to do this to you Harry, but you need to know that to be free is to first follow me. Blindly.”

Voldemort raised his hand and the small window Harry had spent so many days looking out of, vanished before his eyes. Harry looked back towards the door and watched as the light from the room disappeared. All he could see now was an outline, a viscous black silhouette of Voldemort. Only red eyes stared back at him, fury and pain coiled within them.

Harry wanted to speak, to say anything but he couldn’t find his voice. He watched as the door began to close and the light that poured out from the hallway getting smaller and smaller. Voldemort disappeared from the threshold and shut the iron door.

The door shut loudly and the sound vibrated through the walls. With no more light in the room, Harry couldn’t see. It was so dark he couldn’t even see his own hand in front of his face.

He’d been left here, in this cell, in the dark, with nothing but the clothes on his back.

Harry looked to where he imagined the door might be and reached out. As he shuffled forward he felt the rough metal beneath his fingertips and collapsed against the door.

His heart thumped loudly in his ears and his breathing quickened. He felt like he was going to be sick. Tears began to fall down his face as he pressed against the door. With his head resting against it, anger and everything that came with it rumbled deeply within him.

Harry wasn’t sure how long he’d been standing there, crying from frustration and fear, but at some point he pushed off from the door, balled his hand into a fist and promptly punched the unbending, sturdy, metal slab.

Pain was no stranger to Harry. There had been so many times in his life where he thought he might die from the pain inflicted on him and there were times that the pain was bearable. This was not that time. No, now his entire hand felt like it was on fire. The pain had been instant, electric, and caused him to fall back on the floor with a few choice words spilling from him.

He rolled from side to side as he tried his best to cradle what he could only guess were a few broken fingers and maybe some knuckles. When the initial, white hot pain passed, Harry sat up and laid his broken hand on his lap. “Idiot…” He mumbled to himself. Some of the anger was gone, replaced now by shame. He wasn’t thinking straight, clearly, and deep inside he was busy yelling at himself for his stupidity.


 

The pain in Harry’s hand dissipated to a dull throb, bearable enough that he could fall asleep on the stone floor with no problem. He wasn’t sure how long he’d been asleep but he assumed a good chunk of the day had come and gone.

If he could, Harry would have stared up at the ceiling but all he could see was a black void. He wondered how long he could endure this darkness. He had boldly told the Dark Lord to do whatever he wanted with him, consigning his life to possible torture and the like, but even being in this room for only a few hours was already starting to drive him crazy.

Harry rolled over to his side and tried to occupy his mind but it began to play tricks on him. For a moment he thought he saw Draco lying on the floor next to him, but the bright vision vanished as quickly as it came. He rolled over onto his other side and again, the impractical sight of Draco stared him right in the face.

“I told you not to give up.” Draco’s voice sounded distant and small, as if he were talking to Harry over the phone. It began to eerily fade in and out. “You can’t give in to him, you have to fight back.”

Harry sat up and ran his non-broken hand through his hair. He tried to think of anything else but his mind drew a blank. All he could see was Draco who had seemingly moved from the floor to crouch in front of Harry.

“Go away.” Harry said, not sure if he was actually meaning the vision or Draco.

“Harry…”

“Stop it!” Harry jumped from the floor and began pacing the room. Draco was still crouching down on the floor but he was watching Harry trying to make sense of it all. “I can’t fight back, don’t you understand?” He yelled at the vision. “I have nothing to win this fight. He’s taken everything from me. My magic, friends, my...eyes.” He choked up then, a thought flashing through his mind of what his friends would say if they ever actually saw him again.

Vision Draco stood then, causing Harry to stop his pacing. “You have knowledge.”

Harry snorted sardonically. “Fat lotta luck knowledge is doing me. What exactly are you on about?” He’d stopped his yelling now, falling into having a normal conversation with Draco.

Draco didn’t sigh, didn’t roll his eyes as he had been known to do. No, the vision stood in the middle of the dark room, staring at Harry unblinkingly. “You’ve noticed the changes within you. These changes come from tearing your soul, as they did with him. As you slowly rot away, he grows in power. His fragmented soul that lays within you claims more of you as your own soul is shattered.”

“T-that’s easy then.” Harry stammered. “I just won’t kill anyone. I don’t care if he hides me away in this room for the rest of my life, he won’t be able to make me create another horcrux!”

Silence hung in the air between them, stale as the air in the room. Vision Draco stepped toward Harry, reaching out a hand to take one of his own. “There is another way and I’m sorry, but to achieve this, you’ll have to kill one more.”

Harry snapped his hand away. “No. Why is no one listening to me?” He yelled. “I may have disliked Umbridge, but the memory of killing her makes me sick night and day. I can’t get it out of my head!”

Draco backed away from Harry to the center of the room once more. The bright light that surrounded him began to fade away. “Eventually he will force you to complete seven horcruxes of your own and when he does you won’t have time to change the game.” Draco too began to fade now, his voice sounding even further away.

Harry took a step forward. “Wait!”

“You’ll have to weaken him if you want a chance of getting out of here.” And just like that, Draco was gone and Harry was left standing in the dark, alone.


 

Harry had been left in the cell for a full day without food and water. He’d spent the majority of it asleep because what else could he do? His stomach had begun to cramp something awful and his mouth felt dry and numb.

When the vision of Draco left, Harry had spent some time pacing from wall to opposite wall thinking about the imaginary conversation he’d had. He was going crazy for sure and maybe the fake Draco had a point, maybe his mind would start to decay as Tom Riddle’s had. Maybe now was the only time he’d have to weaken Voldemort.

He’d have to kill someone again, that’s what Draco had said and that’s what Harry knew he’d have to do.

When the iron door opened for his release, Harry sat up with a clear mind and clear beginning to his plan.

What he hadn’t expected was someone else standing next to Voldemort upon opening the door.

Beside the Dark Lord stood the one person in the world Harry never wanted to see again.

At least alive….

Bellatrix Lestrange stood tall and proud, her curly hair covering one half of her face. She had a smirk plastered on her lips as she looked down her nose at Harry Potter.

“What a surprise.” She drawled, her eyes instantly noting the red flecked with gold staring back at her.

Voldemort watched Harry. He saw the stiff jaw line, the hard set eyes, and the straight demeanor of a man on a mission. He chuckled to himself. “Yes. Quite.”

 

Chapter Text

Harry huffed for the third time as he waited impatiently for his damaged hand to be bandaged. On the table next to his bed sat a glass of the most dreadful thing Harry hated having to put in his mouth. His discomfort showed on his face in a sour expression as he eyed the drink from the other side of the room. He would eventually have to drink it, if he wanted his hand to heal properly.

Peters, who had be dressing Harry’s fingers and knuckles with the bandages, noticed Harry’s state of annoyance. He cleared his throat upon finishing his task and stood to leave. Harry turned and caught him by the wrist. “Wait.”

“What?” Peters too was annoyed but he turned and stared down at the other, waiting.

Harry’s eyes narrowed as he watched Peters practically dancing to get out of the room. “What’s in it for you? For helping him, what do you get out of it?”

The question had come out of nowhere and Peters wasn’t exactly inclined to answer to it. He wrenched his arm away from Harry and made for the door. He’d opened it and took half a step outside before he uttered, “The less you know about me, the better.”

The door shut behind him and Harry was left alone in the room. Left alone with the Skele-gro in the glass next to his bed. He turned back briefly to glare at the liquid and its container before he sighed and accepted his stormy fate of healing the bones in his hand. He only hoped it would be drastically less painful than when he had to regrow his entire arm.

Harry smiled at the memory, when at the time it was one of the most painful things he experienced, and remembered the game he’d played beforehand. He’d caught the snitch and won the game and it seemed like such a long time ago.

Everything that happened at Hogwarts felt eons away. So much time had passed since he had simply been worried about his grades and whether or not Hermione would help him with his next essay.

Suddenly the words vision Draco had said to him flashed through his mind. ‘You’ll have to weaken him if you want a chance of getting out of here.

It was true. To break the wards Voldemort placed around the tower, Harry would have to weaken him.

He’d had time to think in the dark cell, lying on his back and waiting to be released, about what his next move would be. So far all he’d been doing was wallowing in self-pity which in turn only clouded his mind with more impossibilities. Somewhere deep down, his own self was forcing him to stop whining and start thinking.

Voldemort had mentioned that he was planning for Harry’s latest victim. It wouldn’t be too long before Harry was confronted with another person to kill and though it was loathsome, he’d come to the conclusion that it would just be another Umbridge.

Umbridge didn’t necessarily matter.

Harry didn’t like thinking this way but it was logical. Voldemort would pick people who other’s wouldn’t care if they were dead or alive, that no one would necessarily miss, and if the formula was the same that meant whoever the next person was, it was someone who had affected Harry on some level. Someone Harry would ultimately not care about murdering.

While contemplating on whether or not to take the Skele-gro, the door to the room opened. Harry stood and watched as Voldemort came striding into the room. He stopped short, noticing Harry’s newly bandaged hand and the full glass on the table beyond him. Voldemort quietly shut the door behind him and walked slowly towards Harry.

“You don’t want to take the potion?”

Harry shrugged, standing where he was. “I haven’t decided.”

Voldemort stopped short in front of Harry. He left space between them but he reached out to gently grasp Harry’s broken hand.

Harry winced but he didn’t pull away. All the contempt he felt for this man was starting to bubble up inside him but he kept it from showing. He just watched as Voldemort took his hand into both of his own.

“I am sure you are itching for another fight, Harry, but you can’t exactly do that with one hand.”

A small chuckle burst from Harry as he slipped his hand out from Voldemort’s. “I could if I had my wand.”

Voldemort stared at Harry, watching as the other moved across the room towards the bed. Technically he wasn’t wrong. Voldemort nodded to that fact as he followed after him. “You’re right, but there’s a reason you don’t have your magic.”

“I know.” It was short, dismissive. Harry wanted Voldemort to leave but at the same time he wanted to push the subject. He sighed and ran his good hand through his messy hair. “I just want to get it over with.”

It surprised the Dark Lord a bit. Sure he knew that somewhere down the line Harry would assumedly want to willingly finish the plan he set in motion, and though he saw the look of determination in Harry’s eyes when he released him from the cell, it was still a bit unexpected to hear so soon.

Voldemort took a step closer to Harry then. They were as close as friends could be, not caring about boundaries or personal space. Voldemort didn’t really care about Harry’s personal space, or rather he seemed to care too much for it and wanted to invade it as much as possible.

He detested the fact that he could barely loom over the other now but he continued to stand ominously towards Harry. “Why?” He asked, his hand tilting Harry’s chin upwards. He noted how Harry tensed up, his jaw set hard, and his eyes, those wondrous new eyes, stared heavily back at him.

Harry didn’t move, didn’t try to leave the proximity of this dangerous situation. He stood his ground. “Why what?” He asked as innocently as he could.

Voldemort’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Why are you so eager to create another horcrux? Don’t get me wrong, I commend eagerness in a student, but it's you we are talking about here.”

“What is the point in fighting you when it only brings me pain?” The words left his mouth as easily as water flowed through a stream. There was no hesitation, no hitch in his breath or angry note in his voice.

Taking a step closer, Voldemort closed the gap between them. Their faces were only mere inches apart and Harry could feel the other’s breath on his face. That pit in his stomach had returned, the one that told him time and time again that where he ventured, being this close to the Dark Lord, was far from where he should be. Turn back now, it repeated. Turn back from this dark road.

“I don’t believe you.” Voldemort whispered. “Be honest with me Harry, I at least afforded you that.”

Harry stared up at Voldemort, watching him and waiting, for what he wasn’t sure, but waiting for something to happen. “I want my magic back. I thought that was clear enough.”

Harry could feel the air around them become heavy. Voldemort had become tense but he hadn’t let go of Harry’s chin. “Do you think I’m stupid, Harry?”

“I think you’re honorable.”

This above all else made Voldemort retract his hand from Harry. He stood straight, staring down at the other who continued to look up at him. Before Voldemort could think of anything to say, Harry sat back on the edge of the bed.

“I know you at least try to be honorable, is what I should say.” Harry spoke, a tiny smirk playing on the edges of his lips. It wasn’t often that he surprised the Dark Lord and he was enjoying it as much as he could.

Voldemort decided to go down this avenue of thought. “And why exactly would I do this for you?”

Sighing, Harry leaned back on his good hand, his bandaged one laying in his lap. “I want to do it my way. My magic is a part of me and if I’m going to continue doing these horrible things, I need to do it my way.”

“Once again I must say this is a surprising turn of events, Harry, but giving you back your magic too soon wouldn’t award me much. You could so easily turn against me and my honor.” Voldemort watched Harry as he always did, curiously and suspiciously.

“I won’t.” It was simple and short but Harry didn’t back down. He was hoping that all Voldemort heard was certainty in his voice, and not a growing anxiety. “I know who I’m supposed to kill next, and I want my magic to do it. I can’t do another dagger into a tied up victim. I want a fair fight.”

Voldemort’s curiosity was starting to win out over his suspicions. “If you truly knew who’d be next, you’d give her a chance to fight back?”

Harry’s breath hitched in his throat. He had known from the moment he saw her that she’d be next and even while he figured it all out, he knew it was her. “It’s Bellatrix isn’t it?”

Chuckling, Voldemort smiled. “Darling Bellatrix. I believe she killed your godfather, yes?” His smile grew as he watched Harry sit up straighter from his relaxed position. “And you want to give her a chance when she didn’t give one to Sirius?”

Anger started to bubble inside of Harry. Just hearing that name roll from Voldemort’s mouth put a fire inside his stomach. Harry grit his teeth, pushed down the ever swirling anger, and nodded. “Yes. Everyone deserves a chance.” He hated saying this, hated feeling that it was somewhat true and yet all he really wanted to do was tear Bellatrix to pieces. He had to keep his cool.

Silence passed between them and with every second Harry’s resolve seemed to be waning. He watched Voldemort looking down on him, contemplating over this new and interesting idea.

Voldemort held out his hand, a single finger wagging slowly back and forth in front of Harry’s face. “One day. You will have one day of your magic and in that time you must kill Bellatrix and create a second horcrux.”

Harry let slip a breath he hadn’t known he’d been holding. He glanced at the finger in his face and then back up to the man it was attached to. Harry nodded in agreement.

He had wanted to gain access to the spell Voldemort had to enchant the items Harry would be putting his soul into, but a verbal contract had been made and fairly easy at that. He would wait until the time was right before asking for it.

“Now,” Voldemort spoke again, turning to grab the cup on the bedside table. He brought it towards Harry. “You must drink and be well.”

Harry took the cup, his fingers brushing up against Voldemort’s. He downed the Skele-gro in one swift gulp and tried his hardest to suppress a disgusted shiver.

For a moment they stared at each other, neither moving nor saying anything. Harry let the cup dangle from his hand onto his lap. He could already start to feel a tingling sensation in his bandaged hand and knew pain was sure to follow.

Voldemort let slip a small audible sigh. “Do not disappoint me, Harry.”


 

Harry wasn’t exactly sure how long he’d been asleep. If he had had time to gain his bearings he would’ve been able to take an educated guess, but a rude awakening came for him instead. He’d started to hear the sounds of rustling furniture and muttering, but before Harry could sit up and see who had come into his room, he felt a spell fly right past his head and straight into the headboard of the bed.

Wood exploded around Harry as he scrambled, still half asleep, out of bed. He’d become tangled in the sheets and fallen to the floor but luckily it had saved him a headache.

“What is going on here?!” The voice yelled, which Harry could now clearly hear was Bellatrix’s. “What are you doing in this room?” A chair had been shoved over, almost upsetting the fireplace.

Bellatrix continued to brash about, tossing things left and right. Again she shot off another nameless spell in the direction of Harry, who’d by now had time to get to his feet.

He ripped the sheet away from him, ready to become a moving target but something inside of him stirred. A familiar tug that he hadn’t felt in such a long while. The tips of his fingers began to tingle, buzzing with magic. For a moment he forgot that his room was currently being torn to shreds but when another blast of another unnamed spell hit him in the shoulder, he was quickly knocked out from his reverie.  

Harry fell back onto the floor, caught off guard and wounded slightly. His shoulder burned where the spell had hit him, but he could still move it. He made a mad dash from his spot on the floor but stopped short again at the small sound of something falling from the folds of the sheet he’d untangled from.

Grabbing at the sheet, Harry lifted it to find a wand lying just underneath. It wasn’t his wand, but it was a wand nonetheless. Wasting no time, Harry snatched the wand from the floor and rolled away from the side of the bed.

Bellatrix stood in the center of the room, still tossing around the contents of it every which way. Harry dodged a vase and the small table that usually sat between the twin armchairs. When he finally stood before her, everything went still.

Glaring behind her curly black hair, Bellatrix sneered and scoffed.

Harry stood tall, the wand held firmly in his hand. It pointed at Bellatrix, unwavering, and his magic flowed through him happily, dancing about and greeting him like an old friend.

“You little-”

Harry fired off a disarming spell but it missed as Bellatrix rushed to one side. He readied himself to throw another one but was caught off guard when she bellowed, “Avada Kedavra!”

He quickly ducked, the green sparks from the spell exploding behind him on the footboard of the bed. With no time to think or ponder on the inner workings of his gut feelings, Harry righted himself again and yelled, “Crucio!”

The spell hit Bellatrix instantly. She fell to the ground, her wand falling from her crippling hand. She writhed on the floor as pain coursed through her entire being. She didn’t scream or make much of a sound, as she’d had to deal with pain far worse than this, but it was pain nonetheless and she was visibly agonizing.

It took a moment for Harry to realize that it worked at all. When Bellatrix began to writhe around on the floor, Harry snapped out of his daze and walked over to her.

He remembered uttering that spell so long ago in the ministry after the attacks, after Sirius…

He remembered the pain he wanted to inflict on Bellatrix, that the Cruciatus curse would have been the least of her worries.

He remembered how she had gotten away, sliding into that damn fireplace as Harry became distracted with bigger, badder things.

“Crucio.” He muttered, ending the curse on Bellatrix. She fell still but her eyes locked onto Harry’s. He wasn’t exactly sure why he stopped the electrifying pain he knew all too well, either out of mercy or something else, but he had, and she stared up at him with a confusion that was slowly clouding Harry’s judgement.

He bent down to pick up her wand and with a swift movement, snapped it clean in half. He could see Bellatrix flinch at the sound, see her bottom lip trembling with instant mourning. Tossing the wand away, he stood next to her, looming over her.

For a moment she seemed so much smaller, so frail and tired, but as Harry watched her facade change from that of a victim to that of a monster, any reserve he had held onto broke.

Bellatrix lunged from the floor, her hands coming to fit nicely around Harry’s neck, her boney fingers beginning to crush his windpipe. Harry, who’d been caught off guard, was trying his hardest to breathe as he jabbed his wand into Bellatrix’s side. When she let go briefly to grasp at herself in reflex, Harry took his opportunity to shove her away from him.

He tried to catch his breath before she lunged again but he had managed to sidestep her. Bellatrix stumbled but caught herself.

She spun around, tears flowing freely down her face in anger and rage and utter confusion. Harry advanced towards her, pointed his wand straight at Bellatrix and tried with all his might to find the words he thought would be so easy to say.

He’d been so ready to say them that night in the Forbidden Forest, even if it was a reckless thought. He’d come close to letting loose the ultimate of ultimate spells without thinking twice. Surely, he could do it now when the person, who’d taken practically his second chance at a happier life away so soon, was standing right in front of him.

Harry could see the pain on her face, the lack of understanding as to why she was here, why she was in this room, why Harry seemed to have the upper hand so easily. It was as if the entire situation was dawning on her now, slowly creeping into the forefront of her mind and bringing sense to the matter at hand.

She was a lamb brought to slaughter but she wasn’t going down without a fight.

Harry opened his mouth to speak, but before he could get the spell out, Bellatrix lunged at him again. She tackled Harry to the ground, knocking his wand out of his hand. She reeled back and punched him square in the nose.

When Harry heard a sickening crunch, he knew the pain wasn't far behind. She’d broken his nose and blood was starting to flow freely down his face. He let loose a surprised gargle, balling his hand into a fist.

With one swift movement, Harry jabbed Bellatrix in the side. She faulted and Harry took the pause to flip her over. He straddled her hips and continued to fight her off, her hands swinging wildly.

“Accio wand!” Harry screamed, his hand open and ready for the wand flying towards him. He snatched it out of the air and pointed its tip right in Bellatrix’s face. She stopped clawing at Harry immediately, watching him and waiting for his next move.

Suddenly, she smiled and let loose a small chuckle which climbed in intensity. “You may kill me, filthy little halfblood, but you’ll always remember Sirius’s face the moment I killed him.” Her laughter became uncontained. She was now heaving a fit of purest joy and it was throwing Harry right over the edge.

One hand enclosed around her neck as Harry leaned closer. He pressed his wand into Bellatrix’s cheek and whispered.

“Avada Kedavra.”

Chapter Text

The room was a mess. Furniture had been overturned, the bed was merely a pile of broken wood. There were bits of the wall on fire from far flung spells that had missed their targets. The ever burning fire in the fireplace burned on and in the middle of all the destruction were Harry and Bellatrix.  

Moments that passed felt like hours as Harry stared down at the corpse of Bellatrix Lestrange. Only a short while ago was she laughing uncontrollably, but now she lay still, her eyes glossed over with a faraway look.

Harry rolled off from her but didn’t stray too far from the floor. He instead continued rolling until he lay flat on his back, staring up at the ceiling. It was distant and fuzzy and suddenly Harry realized he hadn’t been wearing his glasses.

He’d been jolted awake and without thinking, done what he’d always done and relied on his instincts. It made Harry smile a little, knowing that at his core he was still a bit like his old self, but darker thoughts clouded his tiny parade shortly after.

This had to be done, he told himself. This was the plan and if it had been anyone else Harry might not have gone through with it. Not on his own anyway.

His magic stirred inside him now, reaching from the tips of his toes to the ends of his hair. It coiled within him but instead of feeling like he was on top of the world, his magic felt sick, uneasy and different.

Harry sat up, crunching debris around him. His shoulder was starting to really hurt, now that the adrenaline was leaving his body. He peeled back his singed shirt sleeve and caught sight of a nasty burn left behind from the spell that had hit him.

Along with his bloody, broken nose, every muscle in his body felt sore. Harry was exhausted beyond belief. Even though he’d spent the entire night before sleeping soundly, he felt like he hadn’t slept at all. He stood, slowly, and made his way towards the bed to find his glasses.

They lay askew on the floor next to the demolished night stand, snapped in half with one lens smashed to a tiny thousand shards. Harry sighed and picked up the pieces. Holding them in his hands he muttered, “Great.”

“You’ve done well, Harry.” The familiar voice by the door made Harry jump a little. He was expecting Voldemort to join him but not so soon. Harry turned, his gaze sliding over Bellatrix’s body on the floor, to the figure standing in the doorway.

Voldemort smiled at the scene before him.

Beautiful, utter destruction.

Harry held his broken glasses in one hand and the wand in the other. Slowly, he raised his wand hand, pointing it directly at Voldemort. A tense few seconds passed between them before Harry swiveled the wand around in his fingers, the butt end now pointing away from Harry. “It’s done.”

Gliding into the room and over the debris, Voldemort stretched out his fingers to take the wand. He stopped suddenly and let his hand dropped to his side. He smirked. “I said you could have your magic for one day. The day is not yet over with.”

Something clicked inside Harry. He wasn’t sure if it was mounting anxiety or excitement. His hand twitched, faltering to hold the wand up any longer. His eyes roamed Voldemort’s face, unsure if this was a joke. He lowered his hand, tucking the wand into the back pocket of his pajama pants.

Voldemort nodded. “This room needs to be cleaned up. Take the wand. The tower is yours to explore.”

Instantly, and mainly because he didn’t want to be in this room any longer, Harry moved a little quicker towards the door. Before he could leave however, Voldemort caught his arm to momentarily stop him. Harry looked up at the other, watching and waiting. “You have your magic until the sun sets. It is limited.”


 

Harry would have liked to get washed up in his own wash room but he’d made the choice to leave the vicinity of the disaster in his room, to leave the presence of death and destruction.

It had been too long since he visited the washroom down the hall. It was still as large and vacant and cold as it had been before. The ominous tub stood in the middle of the room but Harry made straight for the large mirror that hung on the wall. Beneath it stood three sinks lined up as they would be in the bathroom at Hogwarts.

He didn’t want to waste too much time indoors, eager to escape to the balcony, but he had to wash the blood from his face and fix his broken nose. Again, Harry had to confront his likeness in the mirror. He still hadn’t gotten use to the change and he nearly flinched upon seeing his reflection.

Harry briefly wondered if his eyes could ever be changed back. Surely there was a cosmetic spell he could use but he was fearful that the long term effects he’d gain from creating horcruxes would be permanent, just as Voldemort had changed with each one he had made.

It took no time at all for Harry to clean the majority of the blood away. After repairing his glasses and silently thanking Hermione for the spell as he had a hundred times before, he raised the wand upwards and pointed at his broken nose. Muttering, “Episkey.” his nose reshaped and healed before his eyes.

The burn on his shoulder throbbed a little less and Harry decided he would fix that later, even if at all. He was dirty and grimy and the sweat on his skin had dried but Harry didn’t care. Inside he could feel the thrill of victory, closely followed by regret.

And anger, though oddly enough not anger directed toward Voldemort. No, this was pointed at himself, telling him not to feel so bad, that he accomplished what was meant to be done. He’d done the good deed of ridding the world of a horrible woman. Why should he feel bad for any of it? He was only defending himself.

Harry shook his head, pushing the thoughts away. He sighed again and took one last glance at himself in the mirror before he left, making his way towards the balcony, the only place he felt like he had any solace left in.


 

It wasn’t until the sun made its touchdown on the horizon that Harry’s heart began to sink in his chest.

He’d spent the better portion of the day outside, doing any small spell he could think to do. At one point, when the wind picked up and brought a chill with it, he’d made a small fire and left it floating in front of him. Fond memories flooded his mind, good ones with his friends, of simple things like this.

He wondered for the umpteenth time when he would see them again. He wondered if Draco was safe and with people who cared about him.

He wondered how he would feel about them once he escaped.

Harry missed his friends, his family, for sure, but a nagging crave sat at the bottom of his stomach. It was a tiny, penetrable feeling of wanting to find out who was lined up for him to kill, that if he stayed, what evil could he eliminate?

The thought struck him cold and suddenly the tiny ball of fire in front of him couldn’t warm him up. He felt the wind pass through and wrap around him and when the sun fell below the line of the unending ocean, the flames in front of him died and the ash was carried away.

Harry suddenly felt heavy and tired and sad and knew that his time was up. He took his time standing, the exhaustion settling in his bones. He could feel pain where he hadn’t before and knew that the wand in his hand was nothing more than a well-crafted stick now.

The stars were starting to wake up, twinkling high in the sky above him, but Harry didn’t stay to enjoy them. He slowly made his way back to his room, back to the heartache and turmoil that permeated every corner of it. He’d probably fill up every room in this tower with death, until there was no more running from it.

His room looked as if untouched by the fight that ensued earlier that day. Everything was back in its place, just the way it always was. Harry thought of turning around, once opening the door, but he knew what came next and he had to be ready.

Voldemort sat in his usual chair by the fireplace, already watching Harry by the door. He waited patiently as Harry crossed the room and sat in his own chair before saying anything. “Bellatrix was one of my most dutiful followers. She would do anything I asked with no questions and though her unwavering loyalty most certainly became her greatest downfall, I expect she wouldn’t have wanted to die in any other way.”

Harry stared in disbelief as Voldemort spoke. How could he speak of her in such a fond way and then assume that this was something she wanted? He hadn’t been there to see the confusion on her face, or the madness that consumed her in the end. How could Voldemort think that anyone, including Bellatrix Lestrange would gladly die for him?

“You’re mad.” Harry blurted out.

Voldemort’s lips curled up in a smirk. “Yes. Your wand, please.” He said, holding out his hand expectantly, not bothering to pause.

Harry slowly but surely brought the wand out, holding it for the other to take. For a brief moment their fingers touched and this time Harry couldn’t suppress the shudder of revulsion he felt moving throughout his body. He could feel every hair on his arms and neck stand on end as disgust and anger flared up inside of him.

He snatched his hand away quickly and sat glaring at the other man, wishing he still had his magic, wishing he could hurl a hex or two Voldemort’s way.

Voldemort brushed the look aside and pocketed the wand in his robes. “Now,” he began again, pulling out another item. It was a long cylindrical tube made of glass, a few strands of something swirling around inside. He held it up so that the light from the fire made the cylinder and its contents glow. “This is your next item.”

Just like that, Harry suddenly forgot that he was angry. Instead, watching the strands inside the tube swirl around each other had become a bit hypnotic. “What is it?” He asked, inching forward in his seat to get a closer look.

Grinning, Voldemort held the item out towards Harry. “The strands from Bellatrix’s wand. I must admit I struggled a bit with what to put the spell on but when I saw the broken wand on the ground I knew right away.”

Harry could feel his stomach drop and flip all at once. He had wanted to get the spell before Voldemort picked the next item. He shook his head, trying to push the disappointment down and out of the way.

“I didn’t mean to snap it really.” Harry almost sounded apologetic but he felt firmer in the right that he’d done only what he had to. It was a weapon poised to kill him.

“Well,” Voldemort stood, still offering Harry the glass cylinder. “I believe it is time for the second one to be made.”

Harry looked at the Dark Lord, then at the tube, and hesitantly reached for it. His fingers were so close to grasping it but he stopped and pulled back. “Can I choose the next item? Could you teach me the spell?” He might as well ask for it, in case he wouldn’t get another chance.

Harry’s heart sank as the questions that fell from his mouth though.  He hadn’t been able to achieve the next part of his plan so this would mean another death, another horrific thing he’d have to do. Was it really all worth it for him to escape? What exactly would be waiting for him on the other side? Encircling arms from his friends or judgment? The doubt plagued Harry so much he forgot for a moment that he was in the middle of the conversation with the Dark Lord.

Voldemort looked down at Harry, curiosity getting the better of him. “Why?” His eyes narrowed in suspicion, his voice breaking Harry from his thoughts. Could it be that the great Boy Who Lived was actually very cunning and ruthless after all? Voldemort scoffed inwardly at his own question and pressed again upon Harry. “Why would you want to do that?”

Standing, Harry shrugged and sighed. Of course this was all worth it. He was ridding the world of horrible people, all so he could get back to fighting the good fight. He needed a way to weaken Voldemort and nothing was going to stand in his way, not even himself.

“I can only say that you chose your items as something meaningful to you and while you have a knack at choosing mine,” he sighed again. “I should be the one to pick them.” Brazenly, Harry reached out but instead of grasping the cylinder, he placed a tentative hand on Voldemort’s arm. “You let me have my magic today. I owe you my complacency.” He fought all urge to pull back but he had to keep his hand in its place. He had to be believable.

Trying to ignore the hand on his arm, and the sudden burning sensation he felt in his chest, Voldemort watched Harry hesitantly, looking for any sign of uncertainty. Harry stared back, standing strong and tall and different. For a moment Voldemort seemed to see Harry in a different light. Only seconds ago was he second guessing his assumption that Harry had changed, but...

It was a small change, that’s for sure, small but noticeable.

“I can’t trust you yet.” Voldemort spoke softly, a part of him wanting to further this touching interaction. “You haven’t been through enough to understand that what I am showing you is what’s best for you.”

Harry could see Voldemort’s features ease, could feel the buzzing desire to become closer come off from him in waves. He hoped he could prove himself before it was too late.

Nodding, Harry slipped his hand from Voldemort’s arm and held it palm upward. He watched as Voldemort placed the cylinder in his hand. While Harry expected an explosion of magic at the merest touch, he didn’t feel the familiar pull until his entire hand grasped the cylinder whole.

Harry shut his eyes as pain reached into the depths of his body and pulled out seemingly through every pore in his skin. He could feel the burning sensation begin from his toes and travel painfully upwards. Every hair stood on end and every nerve in his body screamed.

He tried not to join in and scream outwardly but his body curled on its own volition and Harry had no choice but to let loose a horrific noise. It was the pain and the sorrow and the utter loss escaping from him in this sound. Escaping and traveling ever outwards, falling apart in the air.

Collapsing to the floor this time, Harry felt weighted down with all the wrong things he’d done. He could feel Bellatrix laughing and crying and he could feel her confusion and hatred. It all became so much, Harry wondered if he’d survive this time and somewhere distantly he desperately wished he wouldn't.

Light burst from him, coiled around him and instead of providing comfort and warmth amidst the pain, it left Harry feeling only shame. It coiled around him like snakes and stung his arms, his face. Any magic he had laying deep inside was punishing him now, no longer understanding of his plight. It swirled around him, traveling from him down his arm and into the cylinder, into the strands swirling around inside.

Before he knew it, the light disappeared and though the initial pain had left along with it, the throbbing exhaustion stayed. Harry lay on the floor, his body shivering as every part of his body screamed at him for what he’d done.

Voldemort leaned down, plucking the horcrux from Harry’s tight grip. He stashed it in his robes and moved to scoop Harry up as he had the first time. Instead, Harry smacked his hand away and tried to stand on his own.

He hadn’t passed out this time, regaining his consciousness faster than the time before, but he still needed help. Harry leaned on Voldemort’s helping arm, pulled himself up off the floor, and stood staggering in his place. He wanted to stand steadily but he couldn’t find the strength. Instead he took hold of Voldemort’s arm gratefully and let himself be led towards his bed.

Settling him gently on the bed, Voldemort retracted his arm but kept a close watch on Harry.

Weakness settled into every fiber of his body but Harry sat up as straight as he could, albeit shakily. He stared up silently at Voldemort, waiting for something to happen. He could read on the other’s face that something had happened, something concerning Harry’s own face.

Voldemort seemed perplexed, curious, at whatever it was he was looking at.

“What?” Harry croaked, his throat raw from all the screaming.

Without a thought, Voldemort reached out, gently cupping the side of Harry’s face. He felt Harry stiffened and resist only slightly, but he was able to tilt Harry’s chin upwards so he could get a better look. “Your eyes have changed again, Harry.” There was a deep rumble in Voldemort’s voice, filled with fearful desire, and Harry could hear it, feel it in Voldemort’s hand.

“Have they become fully red, like yours?” Only fear laced Harry’s question, fear that he was changing into a monster faster than he would have liked.

Voldemort shook his head. “Gold. Pure gold.” It was a sight to behold, Harry with golden eyes, sparkling like never before. They pierced through Voldemort and he couldn’t seem to tear himself away.  

Harry lazily pushed Voldemort’s hand away. He made a move to stand but his legs wobbled beneath him. “Let me see.” He demanded, his voice small and faded as the exhaustion continued to settle within him.

Voldemort left him for a moment in the direction of the washroom but returned shortly with a small hand held mirror. He held it up so that Harry could see his own reflection.

His eyes were indeed golden. Gone was any trace that they had been green once, only the memory remained and that too was slowly fading away. No red was left, only wholly golden, bright and magnetic.

Harry felt sick to his stomach as he watched his altered appearance in the mirror. Beyond the scar that lay etched in his forehead, Harry was slowly becoming unrecognizable, even to himself. Though it was primarily his eyes that pulled focus for Harry, he noticed other subtle changes. His hair, which he hadn’t really bothered to pay attention to had grown quite some length during his stay here in the tower.

It curled in every which way down passed his ears, down passed the scar that was so visible before that now lay hidden beneath the raven locks. His face, which had seemed so innocent still, no matter the horrible things he’d seen and done, was now nothing short of worn and tired. He hadn’t questioned why no facial hair had grown, chalking it up to Voldemort keeping him clean shaven, but he could see the five o’clock shadow peeking through now.

He was older now, if only realizing this by his reflection alone. He’d been here too long. How much more would change before he found a way out?

“Harry.” Voldemort placed a hand on the mirror, pushing it away from Harry’s gaze. “Be grateful for this gift.” Again, his placed a hand gently on Harry’s face.

This time, Harry did not resist, did not flinch or struggle. He leaned into Voldemort’s hand for that was the only comfort he could feel. “I’m becoming someone else.” He was so tired that he could feel the pull of sleep actively taking him away.

“Be welcoming for this transition, or it will kill you.”


 

Cold bit at Harry’s nose and ears. It settled into him with the scent of frost and winter. It brought forth a memory of his room in Gryffindor Tower, of his cozy four poster bed and heavy blankets. For a moment Harry felt as if he were merely waking up from an odd dream, that he was in fact back in his bed at Hogwarts, waking up to a crisp, cold morning. He half wanted to jump out of bed, ready to rouse Ron so they could get to breakfast early, but reality hit when Harry opened his eyes.

He wasn’t in his room at Hogwarts, nor his room in the oceanic tower. No, he was in new room, a much brighter room.

Harry sat up slowly and looked around. All around him was light shining in from the windows. This room wasn’t large, only big enough to house a bed, a small fireplace and a walnut dresser. On top lay a mirror fixated so that Harry could see a blurry version of himself from his bed.

He reached over to the small nightstand for his glasses and wondered where he was. Wherever he was, it was nice so far. Standing, Harry took note of the comfortable pajamas he wore that he didn’t remember falling asleep in. He curled his toes on the rug beneath his feet and smiled. It was peaceful, waking up here. So peaceful that something in the bottom of his stomach told him to be wary.

Making his way out of the room, Harry took note of the living space he walked in to. It was a little larger than the bedroom, more open space and more furniture. He debated further investigating but the fireplace immediately caught his eye.

Harry thumbed through the books that stood on top the mantelpiece. These were different than the ones he had back in his room in the tower. These laid out simple spells, history, books he would have seen in the Library of Hogwarts.

This entire place had such a different feeling than the room he’d become accustomed to. Though it was cold outside, the interior held warmth and a brightness that reminded Harry of the Burrow.

It was daylight and the sun shone through the many windows that lined this cabin. Outside the snow was falling to the already padded earth and tree tops. Harry followed along the line of books to the end of the mantel and turned to take a peek outside the window.

Where he was, he wasn’t sure. He’d merely woken up here. The night before had become a muddled memory of a place far away. He’d come to be suspicious of everything he saw, for no good thing ever came for free for him nowadays.

Harry wondered briefly, as he stared outside at a few bright red cardinals, if this was a dream and what would happen next.

What Harry hadn’t expected was the Dark Lord coming out from another room, dressed in a fine black suit and tie. Harry admittedly stared as Voldemort walked into the room, and noticed by the light of day how much more detailed his features were.

When Voldemort spoke, it sent a smaller shiver down Harry’s spine. “I figured a change of scenery would be good for you.”

Voldemort was almost handsome in this place, almost a different person. Harry continued to watch in awe as the other man walked over to him, standing tall and proud in his new attire. He looked Harry up and down, amused by the choice of pajamas. They were simply flannel plaid but all the same, Voldemort smirked at Harry’s surprised expression.

“Am I dreaming?” Harry asked. His newly golden eyes searched Voldemort’s face, not sure exactly what he was looking for.

Chuckling, Voldemort shook his head. “No.”

Finally able to tear himself away, Harry looked around once more at the interior of the cabin. “Then where are we? Whose cabin is this?”

“It’s mine.” Voldemort swept the room, taking careful steps around the furniture, his arms settling themselves behind his back. “One of the few places I own. I need some time before I choose the next person and I figured you wouldn’t mind spending time here whilst I do so.”

“So you’re leaving then?” The thought of having this entire place to himself made Harry feel anxious and a bit elated.

“Not for long. I will come and go as I please. You have free range of the cabin and the grounds surrounding it, but,”

Harry waited, his nerves tensing as his anxiety grew.

“There is an area surrounding the grounds that helps protect this place, and you. It is not wise to try and cross it.”

“It sounds more like a gate to keep me in then to keep other things out.” Harry scoffed, making his way through the living space towards the door he hoped led into the kitchen.

Voldemort followed behind, continuing to take careful, calculated steps. “Whichever way you’d like to see it, it still doesn’t change the fact that you should stay within its bounds. Peters will not be joining you. I have need for him elsewhere.”

Harry stopped walking then, but didn’t turn around. “So you’re letting me stay here alone?”

The air around Harry suddenly became colder, the light becoming just a shade darker. He could feel Voldemort directly behind him before the other had even walked up to him. Again he felt the buzzing in the air between them, could feel it crackling as Voldemort lifted a hand and placed it gently on Harry’s shoulder.

“Do not displace the trust I am putting in you.” Voldemort’s hand squeezed lightly on Harry’s shoulder but it was enough to make Harry buzz on his own.

Chapter Text

The morning was quiet throughout the cabin, so quiet that the birds outside in the trees were loud enough to wake Harry from an uncomfortable sleep. He irritably wrapped his pillow around his head to deafen the noise but when the birds kept up their morning song, Harry eventually relented, tossing the pillow on the floor as a toddler would throwing a toy that didn’t agree with them.

Grunting, Harry sat up and reached for his glasses. The room was so bright it was a bit blinding first thing in the morning. This too aggravated Harry. It had been beautiful, different and a bit exciting waking up here for the first time but now he only noticed it wasn’t the dimly lit, silent room in the tower he had grown accustomed to.

Scratching his jaw where his budding facial hair itched the most, Harry stood and made his way to the washroom. It was a large room, lined with tiled walls and flooring. On one side stood a tub large enough to fit more than one person, a shower just as large in space stood next to it. On the other side, near the door was a large mirror fixated just above a spacious, white, porcelain sink.

Harry had only been at the cabin for three days but this was by far one of his most favourite rooms. He was never one for taking long, luxurious, baths. Having to take minute showers in the Dursley household or having to share a bathroom at Hogwarts with others who didn’t really want to share a bathroom made him appreciate the solitude. Since he’d been in the bedroom at the tower, Harry finally had time to enjoy a good bath and even more so now at the cabin.

It was quiet in here, as he disrobed and stepped into the welcoming water he’d drawn moments before. Harry shivered from the instant sensation of warmth as it traveled from his toes to his shoulders. Steam was steadily building in the room as he laid his head back against the rim of the tub, his body completely relaxed under the water.

Here, he could let his mind wander, farther than it normally did. Though he’d only been here for three days, all he’d been able to do was think and think and wonder and worry. Voldemort hadn’t been here as often as it seemed he would be and a part of Harry liked it that way.

It wasn’t as if he was expecting, nay, hoping that Voldemort would stay here round the clock, but another part of Harry was starting to feel a little lonesome. The location was the same as the tower, separated from the outside world, desperately isolated, and just as withdrawn as Harry had become.

Harry wasn’t sure how long he would be here, in the middle of the snowy wonderland, and if anything would happen beyond him just taking a vacation, if he could even call it that.

This place seemed so peaceful, so untouched by evil, that Harry hoped it wouldn’t be tainted by death.

Harry sometimes wondered about his own death, how it would happen and when. Would another trio of brave kids fight against him when he was older and evil? Would they quest to find his own hidden objects and destroy them so they could destroy him? How much of his old self would still be there when he finished making all the desired horcruxes?

Harry had missed his window to get himself killed back in the Forbidden Forest, had missed any chance to foil Voldemort’s plans before killing Umbridge. He was so stubborn that it even infuriated himself every now and then.

Leaving the bath before the water could turn cold, Harry trudged on out to dress for the day. It was a bit nippy in the bedroom and Harry quickly bounced from foot to foot keep himself warm as he dug through the walnut dresser for clothes.

He was so busy trying to concentrate on not freezing that he hadn’t heard the door open behind him, nor noticed that anyone else was in the room with him until a blanket landed on and around him.

Harry quickly spun around, caught off guard, and jolted into sudden embarrassment.

Voldemort stood in the doorway, a look of amusement on his face. Harry wrapped the blanket around himself clumsily, staggering back against the dresser. His face was burning as the heat he had been slowly losing only seconds before quickly returned.

“My apologies, I knocked and heard no answer. I assumed you were still asleep.”

“I wasn’t.” It was short, curt.

Voldemort nodded, taking note of Harry’s tone. “Well, when you are dressed, please join me in the kitchen.”

When the door closed behind the Dark Lord, Harry tossed the blanket off himself, heaving it towards where the other had stood. He would have stood there, somewhat pouty, if it hadn’t been chilly. Instead he quickly dressed and headed out of the room.

The kitchen was the largest room in the house, spilling out into the main living area. Harry had spent some time in it his first day. It was nice and neat with pots and pans hanging above the center table, with counters filled with various small appliances. There was a small fridge and a reasonable size oven that sat next to a sink with a window above it, looking out into the vast snowy landscape.

Voldemort simply sat at the table, waiting patiently for Harry to take a seat across from him before speaking. Even then, he let a moment of silence pass between them before opening his mouth to speak.

“There is news of your friends.”

Harry instantly perked up, almost ready to lunge out of his chair. “What?” He asked, surprised.

Noticing this small spark of happiness and trying his best to avoid showing the revulsion on his face, Voldemort shifted in his hair. “Yes, it seems as if they didn’t take your speech to heart and have been working on a plan to rescue you.”

Harry wanted to scream ‘no duh’ but held his tongue, watching and waiting for any more information.  

“It would seem I have a mole in my midst...again.” Then did Voldemort show the disgust in his face at the words he spoke, for both knew quite well who he was referencing. Snape had almost been Voldemort’s downfall. “I am always overly suspicious of my constituents, but it would seem that one has turned on me and given them information as to where I’ve been keeping you.”

“The tower?” Harry’s mouth felt suddenly dry. He licked his lips and waited on bated breath.

Voldemort nodded. “It would seem I placed you here at the right time. They don’t know where I’ve taken you.”

Though Harry clearly heard that last part, there was still a flutter of hope rising within him, distracting him. If they had found the tower in the middle of the ocean, surely they could find him in the cabin in the middle of nowhere.

“While I hoped we would only spend a little time here before our return, it would seem that this place must become our new haven.”

Harry’s heart sank a little in his chest. “I’m to continue making horcruxes here?”

Voldemort silently nodded and watch as Harry sat back in his chair, seeming to deflate with the bad news. A sudden jealousy overtook Voldemort then, watching Harry’s sorrow unfold at the news of continuing. Someday, he felt that Harry would flip and that the hope in his eyes for his friends would turn to hope of making just one more horcrux.

Brazenly, Voldemort lifted one hand from his lap to take hold of one of Harry’s that lay limp on the table between them. He honestly had no idea why he had done it, but he gripped the other’s hand and watched as Harry’s body stiffened beneath the touch.

Harry’s eyes wandered from his hand up to Voldemort’s face, surprised by the gesture and unsure of what to do. He sat, unmoving and rigid and scared.

“They won’t ever find you, until it’s too late.”

Cruel words.

True words.

Words that cut Harry to the core. It was so sudden that it took a moment for him to process what exactly Voldemort was saying, contrast with what looked to be a kind gesture.

Harry tore his hand away and lept out of his chair. It fell to the hard wooden floor with a loud crack and although Harry jumped at the sudden noise, he kept backing away from the table, his face scrunched in a horrible, disgusted look. He could still feel the cool touch on his hand and it made him sick with anger.

“No, they will find me. They will find me and we will find a way to destroy you!” He yelled, choking back a lump rising in his throat. He was so angry, so mad at the truth, at the sudden loss of hope, at the feelings that had started to risen while his hand had been held so gently.

Harry turned to head back to his room in a huff but in two seconds time, Voldemort had left his own chair and had grabbed Harry by the arm. He was jerked back and spun around to face the Dark Lord. He didn’t want to look at that face, he didn’t want to be anywhere near it. “Get off me.” He said quietly and coldly.

“No.” It was deep, rumbling from somewhere deep down inside of Voldemort's chest. Harry could practically hear it rising from within which made him struggle all the more. “Haven’t you come so far, Harry? Surely there is no fight left.” A small smirk nudged at the corners of his lips. “This drama has to stop at some point, no? I thought you had learned that there is no way out.”

Harry came to an abrupt halt. He stopped fighting and struggling and though he was rigid with anger, he instead stared up at Voldemort, his golden eyes hard and unforgiving. “Why even bother to tell me anything?” That lump in his throat was steadily rising and Harry was trying his best to hold back whatever it was that was behind his metaphorical dam.

Voldemort leaned closer to Harry then, his face merely inches from the other’s. “I told you,” He began quietly, “I will never lie to you Harry.”

The truth to that flooded Harry with more loss. Loss of anger, loss to be mourned. He could feel himself becoming steadily softer in Voldemort’s arms, practically empty, as if he was a balloon steadily losing air. He’d been so brash to believe that the news was anything but a shovel with which to continue to dig his horrible grave.

As if a switch in his brain clicked, Harry realized how stupid he was for thinking there’d be an escape so late in the game. How foolish of him to think that this wasn’t his life from now on.

His thoughts had betrayed him, turning tide on hope that they’d be able to locate him now. If Voldemort found out who was betraying him, he was sure to put a stop to it before his friends found any lead to his current whereabouts.

He was trapped still, stuck continuing down this horrible path to an ending Harry saw quite well now. His future had been shaped long before this moment, this repeating realization, and there was no backing out of it now.

He suddenly became very aware of how close he was to Voldemort, how hard of a grip the other had on his arms, how close their lips were to each other’s. Harry’s eyes flicked down to Voldemort’s mouth for a mere second before flashing back to meet dark, red eyes. Eyes that were saying more than what Voldemort’s face was saying.

How bad could this new life be? An uninhibited life, free to make his own choices, to feel what he was starting to feel now in this close proximity. Voldemort’s touch may be cool and at times a bit of a freezing shock, but Harry could feel heat coming off the Dark Lord in waves, heat of longing, of stuttering patience, of a desire so great held on so loosely by a struggling, thin string.

Harry could feel what Voldemort wanted to do to him and a part of him was starting to want it too. His head was clouded with thoughts of heated kisses, of deep desires unlocking at a single touch, from a simple look. He’d spent so long hanging on to the ideals of freedom, of escaping, that it had created a wall. Cracks had begun to form and before Harry knew it, he was looking to the future, one where he could be his own man, follow his own rules, make his own happiness.

He’d finally found the easy way out he’d been told his entire life never existed. Where had all his hard work gotten him, for he was now in the belly of the beast anyway, staring down at a familiar crossroads, at a familiar choice he’d fought so hard not to make.

Goodness had brought him here. Sacrifice had brought him here.

What would Draco think of him now?

Amidst this train of thought, one protective sliver remained. Harry had one last plan he was patiently waiting to deliver. Just hold on a little more, it won’t be long now, he told himself. You only have to endure so much before you are free.

From where that thought came from frightened Harry, for he wasn’t sure which part of him was speaking this line of truth. The part that wanted freedom from this man or the part that wanted freedom built on the backs of those murdered for power?

Harry couldn’t think about this anymore, for the closeness between the two was significant enough to distract Harry from all his inner turmoil, just long enough so that he could be reckless.

Harry’s hands found folds of Voldemort’s suit and gripped them tight. He pulled himself as close as he could get and whispered, “You’re right.”

All at once there was a flurry of emotion between the two. Voldemort captured Harry’s lips in a rough kiss, hard enough to instantly bruise the both of them. Harry barely had time to gasp for breath before Voldemort briefly pulled away and crashed down upon him again.

Those two simple words had Voldemort’s mind in an instant jumble. He wasn’t thinking properly anymore, only feeling, only wanting. He hadn’t meant to be where he was standing, nor thinking what he was thinking. He’d simply come to deliver news to Harry, news he knew that would affect Harry, but now he couldn’t think of his reason to leave.

They were desperately grabbing at bits of clothing as they made their way throughout the cabin. They hadn’t even passed the threshold into Harry’s room before they were tossing shirts and jackets to the floor.

If Harry had any thought in his mind it was simply to enjoy this comfort while he could, for soon he doubted he’d feel anything like this again for a long time. Best to enjoy the moment while it lasted, no matter why he sought comfort in the first place.

The backs of Harry’s legs hit the edge of his bed causing him to fall backward unsteadily onto the thick duvet cover. Voldemort too fell and landed atop Harry, clumsily. For a moment, both stared at each other, but it passed quickly as both continued their aspirations to disrobe as quickly as possible.

They had managed to clamber onto the bed successfully and only when both were completely nude did Voldemort stop. He felt the instant loss of Harry’s lips on his own, but clarity hit him for the first time since they’d begun. He was acting like a fool, becoming so frantic and desperate. He wasn’t himself, no, now it was as if he’d time traveled back to his awkward days of foolhardy trysts, as if every kiss were the last, every touch the only thing he’d ever feel.

The Dark Lord tried to rise, to lift himself away from Harry, trying his best to remain stoic even though his face was flushed with heat and desire. Harry reached up, gripping Voldemort’s arm. “Wait.” His voice was raw and filled with the same intense want that the other was holding onto. His fingers dug into the cool flesh of Voldemort’s arm.

“As I have said many times before, I will never lie to you, Harry. Do me the same courtesy.”

For a moment, Harry was silent and contemplating. He could easily let go of Voldemort’s arm, let go of him and of the situation. Voldemort could leave and they could pretend it never happened even though it would always be between them.

How could he have such feelings for such a horrible person, the man who ruined his life?

No, he’d been down this road before, this thought process. He could feel his old self wavering on the line between sanity and delusion. Did he really want this? Or was this only a means to an end, a way to weaken the resolve of the Dark Lord? He wasn’t exactly sure of it himself, all he knew was that he didn’t want to stop.

Harry cleared his throat and spoke unwavering. “I am struggling, I’ll admit, but don’t go. Please.”

It was as if the last word broke something within Voldemort. He grabbed Harry’s hand from his arm and used it to yank Harry’s entire body over onto his stomach. He planted both legs on either side of Harry and leaned over low to whisper in his ear, “Last chance, Harry.”

His arm was starting to hurt, as Voldemort kept his grip on it, holding it in an uncomfortable position. Harry’s breath was starting to labor, hot and thick within his throat at the sudden pain, and of the feeling of Voldemort’s hot breath on his ear. He shook his head. “Please.” He begged, consenting to the pain.

A smirk curled on Voldemort’s face as he released Harry’s arm. He ran his fingers down the middle of Harry’s back, his nails trailing agonizingly slow along his skin. Voldemort could see that Harry’s body was older then he had remembered, that it held in every joint, in every awkward movement, years of weathered pain. Pain mostly inflicted by him no doubt, but pain nonetheless.

Pain only Voldemort could understand. A sorrow so deep, it etched itself in the bones, a coldness only death and despair could create. Voldemort understood.

Tiny spasms shook Harry from head to toe. He could feel his own skin burning under the touch, yearning for more. He didn’t have to wait long as Voldemort’s hands followed their path around to Harry’s front, one settling on one very taut nipple and the other on Harry’s ever growing erection. Harry wasn’t sure when he’d risen up, but somehow he’d found his legs propped up, his head laying on his folded arms.

Harry could feel Voldemort’s own arousal pressing up against him and though he was slowly losing himself underneath the Dark Lords movements, there was a moment where he sat back mentally, taking a good hard look at what exactly he was getting himself into.

He wanted to be rid of all this thinking, to just forget for a little while what it meant to be good, but the thought stream stuck in his mind and wouldn’t leave until rectified.

Harry turned to peer over his shoulder, catching sight of a very amused Dark Lord, very much consumed by what his own hands were doing. “Have you done this before?”

The moment the words left his lips, Harry could feel his face double in heat and wanted only to retreat from what sounded like a really dumb question. He heard the deep chuckle, felt it through Voldemort’s chest vibrating against his back, and kept his face covered from embarrassment.

“While I have never done such things with another man, I have indeed ‘done this before’.” It sounded so strange to hear the copied words fall from Voldemort’s lips, almost as if the Dark Lord weren’t speaking them, but that the man he use to be was.

Harry choked back more rising contempt for himself and muttered, “I’ve never.”

Without skipping a beat, Voldemort’s hand extracted itself from around Harry’s arousal and found its way down past Harry’s buttocks. He could feel Harry’s body suddenly stiffen and he chuckled again. “There are times when I want to be mean to you, Harry.” Voldemort shifted along Harry’s body, feeling the length of matching heights as his own body fit against the other’s. “Even now, I’m holding it all back, all the mean, nasty things I want to do to you.”

Harry felt the Dark Lord’s lips on his ear, could feel a wandering tongue trace his lobe. He shivered against Voldemort, closing his eyes to just listen, relaxing into his body.

“There will be times when I want to throw you to the wall, to push your knees apart so I can feel that heat between your legs.” While he talked, slow and low, his fingers slipped between Harry’s buttocks, finding that perfect entrance waiting for him to enter. He could feel Harry stiffen and relax, and twitch beneath him and it was all he could do from turning tide on these gentle touches.

“You and I are one in the same, slow to trust, slow to acknowledge truth, but once we learn, once we let our guard down,” Harry moaned beneath him, small but deep from somewhere inside of him. “There is no turning back.” Voldemort paused, conveniently materializing a small bottle. He spread gel along his fingers and chose then to slip a single finger inside of Harry.

Harry gasped at the odd sensation, wriggling beneath Voldemort. He could feel more heat, more impossible warmth rise within himself. At first he wasn’t sure what he was feeling, more of a tug from the bottom of his stomach then actual pleasure, but then he felt Voldemort’s hand begin to move, could feel the pull and push from the maneuverings and suddenly it was pleasure. Sweet, rising pleasure.

It was only a matter of seconds before he felt a second finger penetrate him, could feel the pressure within him build. He rocked back against Voldemort’s hand, wanting, finding it hard to think of anything but. No second guessing, no doubting, no rushing tides of conflicting emotions. Only desire.

Harry stilled for a moment, surprised and caught off guard, as he came quickly onto the bed sheets before him. He hadn’t known how close he truly was until it was happening. For a moment, neither made a move. Harry pressed his face against his folded arms, panting and red from the ever present embarrassment.

Voldemort chuckled behind him and removed himself from Harry and the bed entirely. Harry groaned at the sudden loss of pressure but he peeked out from his arms and watched as Voldemort stood in all his naked glory before him. “To be expected.” Voldemort smirked.

Instantly, Harry sat up, embarrassment giving way to stubbornness. “I-” It only lasted a moment before his lips were scooped up into an ever-developing kiss. It was intoxicating, this feeling of being wanted. He could forget for a little while who he was and what he had done, for this moment in time was private and his alone. Surprisingly, Harry let loose a small laugh of his own as Voldemort joined him back on the bed, this time nestling himself between Harry’s thighs.

Harry laid back on the few pillows stacked behind him and watched the Dark Lord loom above him. The air shifted slightly as magic clung in the air around them. Harry could practically taste it on Voldemort’s lips as more chaste kisses were planted on his own. Voldemort gripped his own aching erection and planted the head up against Harry.

If Harry thought he had spent his entire arousal for the night, or knew uncomfortable pain, he’d be proven wrong as Voldemort placed both hands on his hips. His fingers dug into Harry’s flesh, hard, as he slowly but surely entered Harry fully.

It hurt. It hurt worse than Harry imagined, but it was a different kind of pain, one that stung at first but then ebbed away in waves as both bodies stilled. Harry lay shaking a little bit, his skin on fire with the small shock. It broke away to a dull pulsing as his heart beat heavily in his chest. When Voldemort pulled out only slightly and thrust back, the pain returned but lesser by a bit.

There was no time at all before the pain eased away to pleasure, engulfing Harry entirely. He no longer felt the stinging pain or the dull throb of weighted pressure. Now he only felt good things, wonderful things, fantastic things.

At first he had hissed at the pain but now he was moaning at the absolute bliss. He could feel himself harden once more and the pressure from deep within return with such force he wasn’t sure how much longer he’d last this time as well.

Voldemort too felt the marvelous heat rising within him. His grip on Harry’s waist only tightened as he drove a vigorous rhythm into Harry. He could feel Harry’s own heat rivaling his own and when Harry began to moan at each perfect thrust, Voldemort could feel himself losing almost all resolve. He leaned down over Harry, hands settling on the bed on either side of his body, and picked up the pace.

Harry moaned and breathed so heavily it seemed to set off fireworks inside Voldemort. His head dipped low, his forehead hovering mere inches from Harry’s chest. He was there, right on the verge, ready to lose himself completely inside Harry. He wanted to bury himself deeper, wanted this moment to last longer, but when Harry’s arms wound around him, his hands gripping tightly to his shoulders, Voldemort couldn’t hold on anymore.

The heat inside doubled in intensity as Voldemort spent himself inside of Harry. He could feel Harry tighten around him in tiny spasms as they orgasmed together, wave after wave hitting them in sync.

They held onto each other then, trembling on the side of satisfaction. Neither wanted to move in the afterglow of their rendezvous but Voldemort wasn’t looking to collapse on Harry. He reluctantly peeled himself off from Harry but didn’t stray too far.

Climbing up next to him, Voldemort surprisingly and gently, wound an arm around Harry’s waist, drawing him near. Propping himself on one arm, he watched as Harry tried to control his harried breathing. His glasses were askew on his face but Harry quickly righted them as he turned his head to look at the other.

Something hung in the air between them then, neither knowing what to say or what to do.

Harry’s lower back was beginning to throb but at the moment he didn’t care. The body heat between them lay thick, much like a blanket, that Harry suddenly grew tired, exhaustion hitting him like a brick. He relaxed in Voldemort’s arm and closed his eyes, quickly drifting off to sleep.

 


 

“Harry. Harry get up.”

Harry felt a small jab to his side, just hard enough to nudge him awake. He opened his eyes, instantly realizing that he wasn’t in his bed in the cabin. He was somewhere else, somewhere he’d never been before.

It was a simple room with wooden floors and cobblestone walls. A chair sat in the middle of it.

Harry moved from his spot on the floor, looking around for who had spoken to him. “Hello?” He called out, his voice hoarse as though he’d been screaming for a long time.

When no one answered he walked to the chair and sat down, feeling that he might as well sit properly while he waited.

A figure appeared at his shoulder. Harry jumped slightly, but upon seeing who it was instantly relaxed. He could have chosen to jump up, that’s what he felt like doing inside, but instead he sat upright and watched as his deceased God Father walked out from behind him.

Sirius shook his head, his wild, unkempt mane flowing over his shoulders. He held a look of deep sorrow and stood in front of Harry with his arms held behind his back. “Harry, my boy, what have you gotten yourself into?” His voice sounded farther away then it should have, almost muffled.

Harry took one last look around him. “I’m dreaming aren’t I? You’re not really here.”

Sirius shrugged. “That depends on what you think dreams are made of. I could easily be a figment of your imagination but I could also easily be coming from the other side of the veil. Either way, I’m here to talk to you.”

“About what?” Harry sat rigid in the chair, the pain he remembered in his lower back gone and slightly forgotten.

Taking a step forward, Sirius’s hands left his backside to gently cup Harry’s face. He stared down at his godchild and sighed deeply. “It isn’t only your eyes that are changing, Harry. I’m worried.”

Harry could feel a familiar tug in his stomach, a want to reach up and latch on to Sirius, to say how much he missed him and that he hoped this wasn’t just a dream, but he also felt that he didn’t need to do those things. He just simply stared up at the other, watching, noticing how cool the other’s hands were against his growing facial hair. “I’m fine. I’m trying to get out.”

Sirius shook his head and smiled. It was sad, much like the rest of his features. “No you’re not. Maybe that was the plan at first but-”

Harry smacked the hands away and slowly stood up. He was taller now, roughly the same height as Sirius and his own hair seemed to be growing just a bit as well. It didn’t quite reach below his ears but its tousled appearance rivaled that of Sirius’. “I have one more thing I have to try.”

“And you’ll kill another to achieve it?”  The question hung between them for a few good seconds before Harry nodded.

“It’s the only way it’ll work.” He was sure, clear of what he had to do and though somewhere inside a younger version of himself was screaming at him, telling him what a right bastard he’d become, Harry knew for a fact that to accomplish his goal he’d have to do what was necessary.

Sirius sighed again. “I think you love him.”

The words struck Harry suddenly and then the world shifted.

He saw nothing, no chair, no room, no Sirius. It was as if he was just floating in the middle of nowhere when it all shifted again.

It was like another dream, another endless void of nothingness. Harry could feel the wind ripping through him, tearing at his hair, his clothes, his face, but he couldn’t feel the cold. This place had no cold, no warmth. The air was stagnant and worn.

Where was he if not awake or dreaming? This darkness reminded him of his time in the cell, where he talked to a ghostly Draco who told him how to escape.

There was no Draco now, no, all that was around him was nothingness.

“Harry…” A voice spoke with no body. Harry could hear it wrap all around him, could hear it everywhere at once. It wasn’t Sirius’s but it was familiar all the same.

The sensation of fingers running through his hair sent shivers down his spine. The feeling of arms wrapping around him spread joy throughout his body.

He suddenly felt as he were upside down, plummeting ever downwards, but safe and held by lovely, protecting arms. Just when he thought he’d reached the bottom of this dark pit, Harry’s eyes snapped open.

All at once his senses returned. He could feel the sudden warmth of the room, could hear the crackle of the fireplace, could smell fire in the summer air.

Harry turned over in his place in bed, a bit restricted by the arms that lay around him. He peered over as far as he could to see a sight he’d never thought he’d see.

Voldemort seemed peaceful when he was asleep.

Chapter Text

Harry couldn’t seem to fall back asleep. Instead, after waking to a surprising picture of a domesticated villain sleeping soundly next to him, he sat up and let his mind wander.  He wondered if it really had been Sirius that visited him or if it was just a silly dream. Sirius had been disappointed in him and Harry wondered if his parents felt the same.

Ultimately he decided it was best not to think about the inner workings of dreams. If it had really been Sirius, Harry would have been too busy and distracted with what if’s and questions with no real answers.

No, his attention was needed elsewhere.

Time had passed greatly during their slumber. It was nightfall, bright moonlight illuminating the snow outside the windows. Harry climbed out of bed and walked over to one. He leaned against the cool glass, and peered upward towards the sky. It was littered with stars, blinking and twinkling without a care in the world.

Harry closed his eyes, wishing he could be up there with them, away from here and all the thoughts running through his head. His hips throbbed as a reminder of past events and he was immediately playing the recent memories over and over in his mind.

He was sure, so sure before that he had his plan and that he was almost ready to enact it, but now...now he wasn’t exactly sure that that was what he wanted anymore.

Harry glanced away from the window towards the bed where a sleeping Voldemort lay. He was peacefully breathing slow and gentle, a sight that almost seemed out of place. Yet at the same time, Harry couldn’t tear his eyes away from the wondrous view of the sleeping man.

Things had shifted during his dreams, feelings and thoughts all crammed themselves in his head, fighting for a chance to argue their piece. His mind was becoming a confusing mess and just maybe, dream Sirius had been right.

Voldemort began to stir so Harry tore himself away from the window and slipped back underneath the bed sheets to greet him. The ever burning fireplace crackled loudly in their silence but neither said a word as they stared at one another. Voldemort sat up, the orange glow from the fireplace luminous on his pale skin, dancing across his shoulders and chest.

Harry waited, unsure of what to do or say. In this bed, they were equals, neither one greater than the other. Both had traversed unknown territory and unsure where the next step lay, but the silence was growing increasingly uncomfortable and Harry couldn’t stand it.

He cleared his throat, readying to speak, to say anything, but Voldemort beat him to it.

“I can teach you the spell, Harry.”

For a moment, Harry wasn’t sure what the other was talking about, but then it clicked and his mind sprang into action. “To make my own Horcruxes? Why?”

Voldemort studied Harry for a moment, his deep red eyes gliding over Harry’s face. “You asked me to teach you.” It was so matter of fact, simple and logical.

“You trust me?”

Again, Voldemort was silent a moment before he spoke. “Enough to entrust that you’ll do right by me. I only ask for one thing.”

Trying not to sound as eager as he felt, Harry kept his heart from racing as he spoke. “What do you want?” It wasn’t malicious, only genuinely curious.

A smirk ghosted on Voldemort’s lips. “I want you say my name.” At Harry’s perplexed expression, he continued. “Since you’ve been with me, you have yet to call me by name. You use to do so brazenly and without pause.”

It wasn’t as if Harry hadn’t realized this. He’d made it a point not to call Voldemort by name. The only time he’d said it was during his time in front of the reporters at the ministry. “I know.” He said, cautiously but firm.

Patiently, Voldemort waited, reaching out to thread his fingers through some unruly locks of Harry’s ever-messy hair. “Why is that?”

The cooling touch of Voldemort’s fingers caused a small shiver to run through Harry, goosebumps rising on his warm skin. He looked up at the other, his golden eyes reflecting that orange glow from the fireplace. They practically burned with their own fire back at Voldemort. “Because you wanted me to say it.”

Fingers trailed down the side of Harry’s face, down his chin, down to his collarbone. “And now? Why not say it now that we’ve become so intimately acquainted?”

Harry tried not to shiver this time but he failed and fresh goosebumps arose where Voldemort touched him. “I don’t know which one is the right one to call you.”

For a moment, this stumped Voldemort. He faltered in his light touches and stared heavily back at Harry. “What do you mean?”

Harry reached up and took hold of Voldemort’s wandering hand. He held it loosely within in his own. “Sometimes you’re Lord Voldemort, swift and just in your desire to see me go mad. And sometimes you’re Tom Riddle, kind and gentle and I can see the old you in there peeking through.”

Voldemort stiffened but he left his hand where it lay inside of Harry’s. “You didn’t know me then.”

“But I did. Dumbledore let me see you a few times within his memories. I saw you when you were a lonely orphan, when you were the steadfast student, when you were the man brimming with questions and making your own answers as you went. I saw you as Tom after I met the monster behind the man, as Voldemort.”

“You think I’m a monster?” Familiar feelings were starting to bubble to the surface as Voldemort suppressed his anger for the sake of curiosity.

Harry could feel the air thickening between the two. He’d felt Voldemort’s wall practically rise up. “I think you try to be, because it's easier to have others fear you then to trust you.”

Voldemort stared at Harry, quiet and reserved. If his face had retained its stoic, solid nature, it was only to serve as a thoughtful expression, one that held an immense amount of thinking behind it.

He reached up with boths hands to cup Harry’s face. The stubble was starting to feel coarse and thick and it was so different then the face he had known for so long. It had once been a face he hated, one he couldn’t think about without the feeling of wanting to destroy it following closely behind. Now, it was one he’d grown accustomed to, one he’d grown to associate with greatness and power. All he wanted for Harry now were good things, things that could make Harry the best he could be.

“How is it that you’ve grown so much? I don’t see that frightened boy embarking on a hero’s quest anymore.”

Slowly, Harry slipped out from under the sheets. He broke away from Voldemort and the warmth of the bed and found his way back to the window, to the gaze of the moon just right outside. “I think you really are obsessed with me.” He smirked, placing his head against the cool glass once more.

His mind was a jumbled mess again, clouded by the heat from the fireplace and the heat his own body was giving off.

“There’s that word again, obsession. How can I not be obsessed with you, Harry? What once was an obsession of desire for your demise has only twisted now to an obsession of desire for you.”

“For me, what?” Harry asked, wondering if there was another part to that declaration.

Voldemort left the comfort of the bed and took a step forward, close enough that Harry could see the fireplace reflecting in his glowing red eyes. “No. Just you. The stars are out tonight, showering you with beauty and praise.”

“What beauty is there in the things I’ve done?” Harry swallowed hard, watching as the other man moved even closer. “Why praise me for murder and treat me like I’ve done nothing wrong?”

“You are taking people's’ lives, yes, but in the process birthing a new you, a stronger you.”

“I don’t feel stronger. If anything, I feel weaker.”

“In time, you’ll be stronger than you ever thought you could be. For now, lean on me, Harry.” Voldemort brought a hand up to gently cup the side of Harry’s face. His touch was as cold as ever and it, among other things, sent shivers down Harry’s spine. “I am your only support through this journey. I know where you’ve been and where you're going. Trust me Harry, if only because you have no other option.”

Harry leaned into Voldemort’s touch, his eyes closing as he concentrated on the knowledge that Voldemort was right. He was the support Harry needed now. Arms wound around each other’s bodies, each taking respite in their shared hug.

Even though they were the only people in that cabin, in that room, Voldemort leaned down to whisper in Harry’s ear nonetheless. “What shall you call me then?”

Harry looked up, his golden eyes searching for an answer on Voldemort’s face. He tightened his arms around the other and sighed quietly. “Would it be so wrong if I called you Tom?”

Voldemort’s brow knitted together in thought. Tom had died so many years ago, far longer then when he’d met his end trying to kill Harry. He’d tried so hard to be someone else because for so long he felt like someone else.

Tom was nothing but a lonely child in search of greatness so that his name could mean something better then what his family had done with it. In the end it didn’t matter what his name would mean to the world, for Voldemort held a much stronger significance Becoming immortal, being immortal and doing what he thought was right was far more important.

Here in this room however, he realized he didn’t want Harry to be afraid of him. Sure Harry could argue that he’d never been afraid of Voldemort, that he’d fought tooth and nail to prove that he was the hero and that the bad guy had to be stopped at all costs, but the fear was there. Piled under youthful arrogance, but there nonetheless.

Voldemort was accustomed to underlying fear.

He didn’t want that for Harry any longer. No, now he wanted what he’d always been saying. He wanted Harry and if he wanted Harry to want him just as much, he couldn’t be Voldemort to him. Being powerful meant nothing if he had to spend it alone.

“No. It wouldn’t be wrong at all.”


 

By morning, Harry woke up alone. The bed seemed so big now, and Harry felt so small inside of it. He clambered out of the bed and made his way to the bathroom like he always did.

He decided to forgo a luxurious bath this morning, instead opting for a quick shower. He hadn’t eaten in a full day and his stomach was vocally retaliating as he washed up. Normally he’d enjoy waking up on his own but now it felt a little weird, as if the mere short hours Voldemort had been with him was enough to make him suddenly attached to the idea of waking up next to someone.

Toweling off and grabbing a pair of pajama pants, Harry made his way to the kitchen. It was so quiet, as most of the mornings were, that Harry began to hum if only to create noise to break the silence. It wasn’t quite a song but it melded together to a pleasant tune, and he carried it with him into the kitchen.

What he was hungry for, he wasn’t sure but he spent a good amount of time searching cabinets for anything reasonable to cook. Sometimes he missed having his meals brought to him or at least prepared for him, but Harry just chuckled to himself at the thought of missing such a strange thing.

He grabbed a frying pan and got to work.

“Smells delicious.”

Harry spun around, the pan gripped tightly in his hand and ready to attack.

Voldemort smirked at the sight of a frazzled Harry. “Honestly, who else would you expect to be here other than yourself?”

Sighing, Harry placed the pan on the stove, some of the contents that were inside of it now lay on the floor. “Don’t you ever knock? Or use a door?”

“I did yesterday.”

The words hung in the air between them. Harry was glad that he was busy facing the pan and the stove, his face burning from the sudden memory of the previous day. “You were gone when I woke up.”

Voldemort’s arms were suddenly wrapped around Harry’s waist, his body pressed up against Harry’s firm back. “My apologies. I had some things to tend to.”

Harry peeked over his shoulder. “What things?” He could feel Voldemort’s breath on his bare shoulders and the warmth of their bodies was starting to stir a need inside of him.

“Eat first.” He uncharacteristically placed a chaste kiss on Harry’s shoulder before leaving him for the table in the center of the room, goosebumps rising at the coolness of his lips.

Harry wanted to stop what he was doing immediately. The anxiety of what was to come was steadily building, but his empty stomach won out. It grumbled as a loudly reminder that he needed something in his stomach before he could metaphorically stomach what it was that Voldemort had been up to.

He sat down with his breakfast across the table from the Dark Lord. Harry watched him read a newspaper quietly and calmly, patiently waiting for Harry to finish eating. He only made it to two fork-fulls before giving up. “Alright, what things?” He repeated.

There was a moment of silence as Voldemort finished the paragraph he was on. He slowly folded the paper back up and laid it gently on the table. “Since your friends decided to storm the tower, I had to replenish my stock and while doing so find a hiding spot to place Peters.”

It suddenly clicked in Harry’s mind that the reason he hadn’t seen Peters around or why Voldemort had told him not to worry about where Peters was after the move, was because he was the mole. Harry put his fork down, much to the disapproval of his empty stomach, and stared heavily across the table. “He’s the next person isn’t he?”

Smiling curtly, Voldemort nodded. “Yes. I’ll be bringing him by later today. Be prepared.”

Leaning back in his chair and folding his arms across his chest, Harry sighed. “And how am I to prepare? Is he going to come at me with a weapon? Magic?”

A small part of himself tapped on the notion that this conversation may have been the weirdest he’d ever had. He was blatantly discussing a fighting strategy on a person who didn’t deserve it and what was the weirdest of it all was the fact that only a small part of him felt this was that odd.

Voldemort stood and came around the table to Harry. He leaned up against the table top near the other, the small, proud smile still on his face. “I’ve left that up to him really, but if it will make you feel safe, I can give you back your magic. You are going to need it for the spell afterward anyway.”

Harry perked up. “Really?” He pushed back the thought of sounding childish, excited to have his magic back again.

“Yes. Now eat your breakfast.” Voldemort leaned down, close to Harry. His hand gripped Harry’s chin lightly but with enough force to pull it upwards. He was so close he could feel sudden heat coming off of Harry’s face as it reddened. Voldemort smirked. “Say it.” He whispered, commanding.

Harry shivered underneath him, his face becoming hotter by the second. He knew somewhere deep inside what it was he was suppose to say, as if the universe was also whispering in his ear. He leaned into Voldemort’s grip. “Thank you, Tom.” He mumbled against Voldemort’s lips.

Sweet, but passionately, the kiss reminded Harry of all the things from the day before. He could feel himself melt away under Voldemort’s lips, locked together as a missing piece to a puzzle that was slowly coming together.

Voldemort pulled away from Harry slowly, a smile plastered on his face. “I’m so proud of how far you’ve come.”

Those words hung in the air between them and suddenly Harry felt his heart drop in his chest. An old familiar feeling of a heavy pit in his stomach returned with such force that it caused the smile Harry had been wearing to falter. Something small was beginning to crack to the surface, a feeling of hatred from deep down inside. It had been pushed down for so long that Harry had almost forgotten it was there.

He stood from his chair and moved out of the lustful vicinity of Voldemort. He needed air, he needed to be outside to clear his head from this bubble of insanity that had encapsulated them in this cabin. “Just go get him.” He muttered, not caring to grab a coat as he made his way out the front door.

Voldemort watched him go, his face a blank, expressionless wall. Had he simply let his guard down too soon? Surely he had read the signs that Harry was beginning to understand what they were doing. He hadn’t fought back this time, but merely seemed serious, as if he just wanted to get it over with. Voldemort could live with that for now. The more horcruxes Harry made, the more of one mind they would be, Voldemort just had be patient.


It was some time before Harry came back in from the cold. The sun had provided a bit of warmth but the chill in the air was still too much to take with no shirt on. He trudged back inside to warm himself by the living area fireplace.

He felt like a part of him was ripping away, not like how it was when his soul split, just a version of himself peeling off of him like a second skin. Underneath the constant budding of logical thinking and contrast of emotions encircling him, Harry wondered when exactly he had lost his old self.

He thought he had traded fighting outwardly to patiently planning for a way out, for the inevitable demise of Voldemort. Now it all seemed so distant. Dangerous thoughts leapt in places of emptiness inside him.

Harry wanted to be happy, truly happy. Sometimes when he thought he felt himself letting it go to smile, it was only just an act his mind decided to play. He wasn’t happy here, how could he be? In the beginning he was a prisoner, someone so frightened and determined to prove how good he still was.

Now, now he was merely a guest. A heavily guarded guest, but one nonetheless. Voldemort came and went with ease and Harry didn’t think much of it. He’d slipped into a part of Harry’s heart he didn’t even know he had, or could have when it came to the Dark Lord.

He’d been fighting for so long that now he only felt tired.

Tired and alone with dangerous thoughts, weighed down with burdens upon burdens.

A muffled thump from a nearby room set Harry to jolt. It was quiet but sudden and Harry’s instinct to act had him bolting from his spot by the fire towards the closed door. He waited for a moment, wanting to hear if there were any other noises. When another thump bounced against the door, Harry reached for the knob and threw it open.

He was bombarded with a heavy body that promptly fell on him, sending both to the hard wooden floor. Harry scrambled out from under Peters, trying his best to put some distance between what he thought was an attack.

When he’d shuffled a pretty good feet back, he halted and waited.

Peters lay on the floor, his breathing labored, his clothes wrinkled and askew. He wasn’t bound by anything but he seemed in a great deal of pain. Harry looked up at the room from where Peters had fallen from but beyond a bit of dark shadows, nobody else had come out of it.

“Where’s T-Voldemort?” Harry asked, staring as Peters continued to be a rumpled mess on the floor. When he didn’t move or answer, Harry stood and lightly tapped him with his foot. “Peters. What’s going on?”

A hand grasped Harry by the ankle and pulled his feet out from under him. His arms, back, head, all bounced off the ground as he landed hard. For a moment he thought he lost his glasses, for his vision swam before him. Peters began to pull Harry towards him but Harry kicked against Peters’ head to free himself.

“What are you doing?” Harry yelled, scrambling away from the other again.

“Harry,” Peters spoke, his voice raspy and worn. “You’ve got to let me go. You-“ He dissolved into a coughing fit. “We’ve got to go now.”

The words hung in the air between them, tense and poignant. It took Harry a minute to realize what exactly was going on but when Peters began coughing again, he stood and helped the other up off the floor.

“Hold on, settle down first.” Harry mumbled as he guided Peters towards a chair in the dining area. “What are you going on about?”

Peters fell into the chair, hunched over and ready to fall out of it. “We have to go now, I’ve done what I can to hold Voldemort off but we have to go now.”

Something struck Harry inside, a worried notion of what exactly Peters meant. What had he done to hold Voldemort off?

“Harry!” Peters yelled, startling Harry from his thoughts. “Are you listening to me boy? We have to go-“

He was cut short, his voice struggling to leave his throat. Peters’ eyes widened as he looked behind Harry.

Voldemort had just arrived.

Harry turned to look behind him, instantly noting the bright red gash he had in his side. Voldemort was clutching it, pain hidden beneath shaking rage. “My apologies for the late arrival.” He gritted out behind closed teeth. “I ran into a problem.”

Harry watched Voldemort move as swiftly as he could towards him., watched as Voldemort stopped short, eyeing Peters with a deathly glare. He raised a bloodied hand, fingers outstretched and ready to grab hold of a wide eyed Peters, but Harry cleared his throat. “Wait.” He said, stopping Voldemort from doing anything else.

“Go wash up. I’ll keep an eye on Peters.”

Voldemort eyed Harry for a moment, his face a bundle of emotions ranging from rage to suspicion. When Harry rose his eyebrows to wordlessly reiterate his suggestion, Voldemort obliged and headed into Harry’s room, ultimately to his washroom to clean and repair his wound.

Harry turned then to face Peters but before he could get a word out, the other man grabbed his hand, roughly. “Harry, you’ve got to let me leave, to tell the others where you are.”

A familiar pang hit Harry in the chest, like a bolt of electricity. He knew who Peters meant by ‘others’, but his mind turned to that of Voldemort as well, wondering how deep the wound was.

Harry pulled his hand gently from Peters’ grip. He smiled down at the frightened man, watching him breath heavily and twitch at the slightest of sounds the cabin made. “Let me get you some water.” He walked into the kitchen to search for a cup.

Peters sat, wringing his hands, watching the door to Harry’s room like a hawk. He spoke, not breaking gaze, to Harry over his shoulder.  “I don’t need water, just get me out of the cabin and I can make it past the out of bounds.”

“If I let you go, Voldemort will find you. He’ll most likely kill you and then come back to me and well... do horrible things to me.” Harry spoke calmly, the range of his voice growing steadily up from behind Peters.

When Harry rounded on the other, hand barren of a glass of water, Peters looked up at Harry, confusion on his face. “Harry-”

“I’m sorry, but it’s just not logical for me to let you leave.”

“What are-”

“I have need for you elsewhere.”

As quickly as he brought his hand up, it was down by his side just as fast. Peters stared up at Harry, his eyes still wide with fear and now flooded with the realization of what Harry had done. He could feel his skin split apart at his neck, blood breaking over the fresh cut and slowly pouring its way downward. Peters grabbed at the wound, trying to staunch it with his hand but the amount of blood only doubled as the pressure built.

Harry stood by and watched as Peters frantically tried to stop his impending death. There was no emotion on his face, only faint curiosity about how long it would take for the other to die. The meat cleaver he held in his hand had a thin layer of blood on the edges of the blade. He’d made a clean, swift cut.

Peters grabbed at Harry, his blood splattering about on the both of them. He tried to speak but no words came out, only another bout of blood and a slight gurgling noise. Harry calmly watched as Peters slid to the floor, life leaving him ever so slowly. “I’m so sorry.” Harry muttered as he continued to stay and watch the last breath of life leave Peters.

Who was Peters to the world anyway? Did he have a family that he left behind to save Harry? Would his friends mourn this man that Harry had come be familiar with? Harry wondered all of this as he stepped away from the body of his former caretaker.

He could feel Voldemort’s presence behind him, looming and cold. Voldemort seemed to hang back, ever quietly patient and observant.

Harry turned, the blood on him already becoming cold and sticky. For the first time, Voldemort was at a loss for words. The many deaths that were surrounding Harry had warped him. He hadn’t needed to create Horcruxes to become this cold, this shell of the person he use to be.

It was sad and interesting all at the same time and Voldemort found a small part of him whispering in the back of his mind to stop this, for he wasn’t sure how much more Harry had left in him. A bigger part was screaming, as it always had, that what he was doing was right, that this is what Harry had to become in order to understand that Voldemort was right and just in his decision to burn the world.

Voldemort opened his arms, welcoming Harry into them. He watched as Harry willing took those few steps towards him, watched as Harry drop the meat cleaver to the floor with an audible thud. He wrapped his arms around the other in a hug and smiled as Harry’s arms wound themselves around him in return.

Sudden warmth filled Harry then, and the space between them. His magic had been returned to him but Harry didn’t feel the familiar lightness that usually accompanied it. He felt a slight tug and then the warmth was gone. His skin felt electrified, the only indicator that his magic hadn’t left him, but beyond that, Harry felt as if he were mute, dull to the rest of the world. His magic didn’t make him feel like himself, no, now it was only another burden weighing on his shoulders.

“You’re nearly there, Harry. Only a few more to go.”

 

Chapter Text

The water ran hot against Harry’s skin as he stood underneath the shower head. He felt it run down his shoulders, his chest, his legs. It pooled lightly around his feet as it found its way towards the drain. It ran red but then dulled to a faded pink as the blood from Peters ran off from him. He watched it disappear beneath him, curious as to how they would clean up the rest of the blood splattered all over the cabin floor.

With magic probably.

Harry felt his own magic inside him, dull and faded as the pink water in the drain. The initial warmth he’d felt upon its return drifted softly away, replacing now only a feeling of dread, of death and despair.

Harry had done what he needed to do but that didn’t make it any less right. He grieved for the death of Peters, for all the others he had killed. No matter who they were to him or anyone else, no matter what they had done, he had taken their lives and twisted his soul with each one.

If he could feel anything at this moment, it was grief beyond measure.

The glass door to the shower creaked open behind Harry. He felt Voldemort enter, heard the soft click of the glass door shutting. He didn’t want to turn around but the heat of the water was beginning to irritate his skin, so he turned, shoulders slumped and eyes heavy with unshed tears. He didn’t want to look at Voldemort but his body couldn’t help but flutter as gentle hands cupped his face, Voldemort’s fingers softly caressing his jaw.

“Why was it so easy for you?” Harry asked, his voice soft and weak.

Voldemort stared down at Harry, his expression just as tender as his grip on Harry. “While I logically know right from wrong, you grew up burdened with morality. I am selfish Harry, and I don’t want to be alone anymore.”

Harry shut his eyes, feeling the water spray his backside. He leaned into Voldemort’s hands and sighed. Would it ever get any easier for him?

Soft lips pressed against Harry’s eyelids then, gentle and loving. He felt something inside break, tiny cracks crumbling away, as a tidal wave of emotion left him. His arms wound themselves around Voldemort, burying his face in the other’s chest. When he felt Voldemort’s arms wrap around him, hugging him close, Harry couldn’t hold back any longer and let loose a sharp cry. Shorter bursts followed, rumbling throughout his body and leaving through tears and gasps and loud exclamations.

Voldemort just stood there, patiently waiting as Harry shook in his arms. He could feel a dull throb within himself, one that grew steadily louder all the time. He wondered if it would ever over shadow the voice that constantly shouted in his ear, the voice that had been there since the moment he could think on his own. He felt sorrow for Harry, something more than generic pity. The crying would be good for Harry, it would cleanse him of his moral obedience and he would come to see that Voldemort was right, had been right, about so many things.

Running a hand through Harry’s wet hair, Voldemort held him close and whispered lowly. “Feeling this way is not weakness Harry. You’re passion is what makes you great. I am trying to show you where to channel that greatness. Don’t you see it now? All I want is the best for you.”

Harry’s sobs began to ebb away as the grief left his body. He sniffled, turning around to wash his face off in the water. He suddenly felt so tired and heavy but he turned back around to face Voldemort. “All I see now is death.”

Voldemort leaned forward, watching Harry tilt his head, expecting and waiting for the other to come closer. “I can help you forget for a while.”

“Please.”

It was said so quietly, so full of pain that Voldemort couldn’t resist closing the gap between them. He pressed his lips against Harrys’ and felt him melt against his own.

This time was slower than the first time. Before there had been unexplained feelings, each trying to wrap around their heads what exactly was happening between them. It was different now, no heated, rushed kisses, no hands grasping to hold on to each and every part of the other. No, now they moved slowly, languidly, under the shower spray.

Harry’s hands ran up Voldemort’s arms, winding their way back around his shoulders and Voldemort couldn’t stop his hands from gripping Harry by the waist. His fingers dug into the flesh, nails indenting themselves along his skin.

The tiled wall of the shower felt cool along Harry’s back as they found their way up against it. He loved the sharp pain he felt under Voldemort’s indentations. He wriggled his hips, a groan escaping from behind their kiss.

A deep rumble rose from within Voldemort. He pulled away from Harry’s lips then. Looking down at Harry’s golden eyes, clouded instantly with pleasure, Voldemort dug his fingers in even more. It elicited more groans from Harry and Voldemort knew he had to do more, had to hear more of that perfect voice making those perfect noises.

Voldemort spun Harry around then, pressing himself and his arousal up against Harry. He leaned close to Harry’s ear, his tongue running along the cuff that ended in a nibble near the bottom of the lobe. Harry moved against him, stirring more fires within Voldemort. He reached up, fingers running through Harry’s wet hair. They gripped a good amount and pulled Harry’s head back, exposing more of his neck.

The gasping noise Harry made caused a guttural growl to leave Voldemort as he rained sweet kisses up and down Harry’s neck and shoulder. He wanted to taste all of him, wanted to plant a kiss on every inch of Harry’s body, the body that responded to him, that belonged to him. A primal urge began to fill Voldemort. He wanted more and when Harry’s hips moved against him, when Harry moaned softly underneath him and his tight grip, Voldemort couldn’t hold back any longer.

His teeth broke through the soft flesh quicker than expected. He’d bitten down so hard, Harry hadn’t had much time to gasp from the sudden surprise, before he was writhing beneath the other. The pain hit every part of his brain, electrical shocks sparking throughout his body. For a second he saw white and then he saw red, raw pain, and pleasure rolled into one. He wasn’t sure how much more he could handle before completely losing himself.

Voldemort licked at the small wound, blood pooling lightly in the indents that his teeth made. Water from the shower spray mingled with it, forcing the tiny beads of blood to run down Harry’s body. Voldemort could taste the magic within it. At first it was sweet, like a memory of honey from his childhood, but it began to fade, replaced with how blood always tasted, metallic and sour.

He wanted to tear Harry apart just as much as he wanted to hold him close.

Harry pushed back against him, his hands coming around to pull on Voldemort’s free hand, guiding him towards his own erection. He needed more, wanted more. He shuddered under Voldemort, goosebumps rising everywhere on his skin.

The water was starting to cool down, having been on for so long before all this started. The spray was hitting them both as tiny icicles but neither one cared. The heat from between them was enough to keep them warm as they moved against each other.

Voldemort planted more kisses around his bite mark but when Harry moaned underneath him, he stopped trying to place nice. He spun Harry around again, pushed him up against the wall and hoisted his legs up onto his hips. Harry lay snug between Voldemort and the wall, his arms wrapped around the other’s neck for support.

Flesh upon flesh, heated words exchanged between sweet kisses.

Passion drove them both, to feel more, to grasp at something that would help distract them. Together in a protective bubble, they bathed in moans and laughter and pleasure that brought only good things.

Harry could feel Voldemort’s arousal budding up against him. Throwing caution to the wind and urging Voldemort to go on without proper prep, he braced for the oncoming pain he’d felt the night before and then some.

Voldemort refused however, chuckling at Harry’s resilience. “Trust me, with nothing to help it’ll be too much.”

“Too bad you didn’t bring your wand in with you.” Harry groaned as Voldemort chuckled once again, his chest rumbling against Harry’s. “Why can’t it be as easy as saying accio lube!” he gasped, both of them dissolving into laughter.

Laughter that abruptly came to a halt when something hit the door to the shower. Voldemort peered over his shoulder, his body suddenly rigid and still. Harry shifted to look around at the glass behind them. On the floor lay a bottle.

Slowly, Harry and Voldemort removed themselves from each other. In silence, Voldemort opened the door and picked up the bottle. He turned to look back at Harry who stood, looking puzzled back at him. “Did I-?”

Voldemort smirked. “Well, it seems as if your weakness has turned to strength. You called for this without a wand, Harry.” Voldemort reached out his empty hand and waited patiently for Harry to take it. He led them both out of the bathroom and into the bedroom.

The fireplace was going as it always did, burning brightly and warming the room enough that neither felt the cold sting of the shower any longer. Voldemort brought them to the bed and smiled at Harry. “Think of what more you could do without a wand, with just that voice of yours.” Harry sat down on the bed, watching Voldemort stand above him. His skin prickled as Voldemort’s fingers trailed lightly up from his shoulder to his cheek.

Goosebumps rose as Voldemort’s finger traced his jawline, his lips. “Imagine what spells that tongue could call.”

Harry’s face flushed and his eyes grew heavy with a sudden rush of lust. “Teach me.” He whispered.

Voldemort smirked as he guided Harry to lay the bed. He climbed atop him and looked down into those golden eyes. Eyes that stared back at him, weighed down by passion. “Certainly.” He growled, catching Harry’s lips in a swift, languorous kiss.


Night had spread around the cabin.

Outside it was cold enough to freeze the snow onto the trees and their leaves.

Inside, it was warm, the fireplaces burning proudly under their mantels.

Harry emerged from his room, clad in a comfortable, clean pair of pajama pants. He'd felt relaxed before stepping over the threshold. By the time he made his way into the center of the room he was so tense his shoulders were starting to hurt.

No one had cleaned up the mess that was Peters’ blood and body. It still lay on the floor, crumpled and stiff and pale. The pool of blood around him had soaked into the wood, creating a mass of darkness, a void.

Harry couldn't tear his eyes away from the ungodly sight. He watched as it changed in front of him, morphing from Peters’ death into a dark monster. The light from the fireplace painted orange pastels across his ghostly skin and his eyes, so full of fear when he realized what Harry had done, were glossed over and shadowed with death.

Voldemort had come up beside him at some point. Harry wasn't sure how long he'd been staring at the floor, but when he felt the ever cooling presence of Voldemort, he snapped back to reality. “My apologies.” Voldemort muttered as he walked around Harry and Peters.

Harry eventually moved, even though his legs felt stiff and heavy. He walked over to small table that sat against the wall. He made a move to grasp hold of it but before he picked it up he stopped short.

Above the small table was a mirror sitting prettily on the wall. It was a small mirror, a nice wooden frame adorning it's edges. Harry saw his reflection in the mirror and almost started at his appearance.

Beneath the glow the fireplace provided, Harry could see the dark circles that surrounded his eyes. His golden eyes. His skin was no more it's ivory color then Peters’ sickening pallor. He'd lost some muscle in his face and his shoulders and from what he could see, he'd lost a bit of weight overall.

His rugged appearance only helped drive home how much he had truly changed. Though he'd come to appreciate their uniqueness, the color of his eyes haunted him. He could feel his old self with his old green eyes, disappear behind the golden glow.

His face was rough with patchy hair and over time a beard might look good. It would certainly cover the hollows of his cheeks.

What really momentarily shocked Harry was his hair. It had grown over a short amount of time, curling its’ unruly self down past his ears to rest ever so lightly upon his shoulders. For a moment, Harry saw Sirius looking back at him. He saw the shallow shell of a man who’d lost his humanity, trapped in a prison that was constantly surrounded by death and decay.

Harry saw this and more, all the anxiety, all the stress, all the grief layered on top of him as masks to hide the true horror underneath.

The true horror that Harry didn’t mind seeing himself this way. He didn’t mind the many masks, the gaunt appearance, the different man staring back at him. No, instead of worrying about any of it, Harry simply picked up the small tablet and brought it over to where Voldemort stood.

He placed it between them and watched as Voldemort placed a few items on top of it. One was a wand. One was a coat, neatly folded but stained with dried, caked-on blood. Harry took a glance over his shoulder to see that Peters’ was in fact missing the coat he had been wearing earlier.

The next was a small scroll, a rolled up dirty piece of parchment. Voldemort laid it on the table with care, making sure to keep it away from the other two items. Voldemort looked up and over at Harry.

“Are you ready?”

Those words held so much behind them. Harry could hear the concern and the carefulness in them and from Voldemort. He nodded. “I am.”

The words were final, verbally binding him to this deal. All at once he felt sure. Sure enough that he was ready to go through with this, sure enough that his plan was going to work, no matter if he knew what would really happen in the end.

Harry was sure.

“What do I need to do?” He asked, nodding towards the rolled up scroll that sat looking bigger than it really was.

Voldemort hovered a hand over the scroll. “You will read the spell from here. There are spaces in which you fill out. In the past when I made my own horcruxes, I said my name and the name of the item. When I made yours, I said your name. You will use my wand.” He paused to hover his hand over his wand on the table. “You will say your name. The item is Peters’ coat.” And once again he paused to hover his hand over the dirty coat. “When you have finished reading this spell, you will touch the cursed item and seal the magic.”

Harry watched and nodded when Voldemort finished.

Everything was and would be finalized. No going back. No, only moving forward and dealing with what comes when it comes.

Harry stepped closer to the table. He took hold of Voldemort’s wand, at first gently, but then he grasped it firmly. He took the small scroll in both hands and uncurled it. The words were scratched into the parchment, as if indented into whatever hide of animal this came from. It was in latin and scribbled in haste.

Harry took a deep breath, he could feel what little he had left of his old self starting to fade. He licked his lips and let loose the breath he’d been holding.

The spell fell from his lips as naturally as he spoke English. He followed the instructions given to him and said his name but though he started with a surety, Harry faltered when it came time to say the name of the item he was to curse. His voice caught in his throat and he chanced a glance at Voldemort who watched him. He could see Voldemort’s face slowly change from pride to suspicion.

Harry’s heart started beating loudly in his ears. He could feel his blood pumping and his hands began to shake. He’d started so strong but doubt started to creep inside. He licked his lips again and stared back down at the parchment.

It was now or never.

“Voldemort.”

The word rang from his lips, his voice low but clear nonetheless. The parchment in his hands ignited and burned from the middle out. Harry dropped it before the tiny flames made their way to his fingertips. He rounded on Voldemort, kicking the table out from between them.

What happened, happened quickly, but to Harry it seemed as if he moved in slow motion.

The table and the contents atop it burst to the floor. Harry had already reached Voldemort before he could make a move to turn away. Harry reached out his hand and grasped Voldemort’s arm.

Voldemort tugged as hard as he could but Harry pulled himself to the other. He wrapped his other arm around the Dark Lord’s waist and held him firmly against his body.

All the air seemed to be knocked from Voldemort’s lungs for he was too stunned to say anything at all. He opened his mouth to yell, but the only sound to escape was a small gasp.

Light was bursting forth between the two, spilling out from their eyes, their mouths, light bright enough to illuminate the entire cabin and thensome outside.

Voldemort tried to break away but Harry kept him close.

“I’m sorry.” Harry whispered as he felt another sliver of his soul detach from him and his magic. He could feel it flow from the tips of his toes to the tips of his hair. He felt the magic expand inside him and then deplete, following a distinct path from his body and into Voldemort's. He could feel the sudden warmth of his soul beat off of Voldemort’s skin in waves of heartbeats.

Then it became all too much.

Harry couldn’t hang on much longer. He felt his magic push back against him, pulling him from the other. He tried to hold on but in swell burst of energy, Harry flew backward and landed hard enough on the wooden floor to crack it beneath him.

He held an arm over his face as he tried to watch for as long as he could. The light emanating from Voldemort was becoming too much to bare. Harry felt his heart drop within his chest. A gasp fell from his lips before he could pull any strength to yell.

“TOM!”

The light enveloped Voldemort, a cocoon of power and energy swallowing him up. Harry could hear Voldemort screaming from with it. He opened his mouth to yell again but the light disappeared in the blink of an eye, only a second passing before the magic flew backward at Harry.

Sharp cuts like tiny knives flew over Harry. It him in every spot that his skin was exposed. His chest, his arms, cut with shards of magic hitting him like shards of glass. The pain grew with each little knick but Harry didn’t care. He tried his hardest to fight back, to move from the floor but the magic rebounding on him was a force not to be reckoned with.

When the light and the magic and the cuts ceased, the room was silent. The light had gone with the ending of the spell and Harry’s magic settled within him yet again. He could feel his stomach turning knots and he could feel each tiny cut bleed. All strength within him was gone. He felt incredibly weak but he still managed to push himself up off the floor.

His legs shook beneath him but Harry made his way to the crumpled mass on the floor one step at a time.

“...Tom?” Harry called, worried and exhausted. He slowly but surely made his way to the other, ready to spend the last of his energy on helping Voldemort up. He’d only been a few steps from him but he stopped short, his breath catching in his throat.

Voldemort lifted his head, his bones and joints creaking beneath his skin. He looked out at Harry who stood staring unbelieving back at him.

A loud cracking noise alerted both of them but neither had time to react.

Harry felt arms come around him from behind. His eyes grew wide as he watched Voldemort reach out to him, but in a second he was gone and Harry’s vision twisted before him.

He landed hard on tiled flooring, so hard that it forced a yelp from him. Sickening bright light swam all around him and the arms around him were still gripping him tightly.

All Harry could do was gasp for air, as if he were drowning.

He was no longer in the cabin. He was no longer with Tom.

No, now was surrounded by familiar faces. Familiar, grim faces.

Harry struggled against his captors’ grip and shoved them away. He turned around on the ground, kneeling and scrambling to get away from everyone, scrambling to get back, to get back to Tom and the cabin.

“Harry! Harry calm down, it’s okay!” Someone yelled at him, but Harry couldn’t really hear them. All he felt was panic, panic and sudden loss, as if his heart had been wrenched from his chest.

“No...no..” He was crazed, turning every which way but not really getting anywhere. The room he was in spun around him and he felt sick.

“No.”

“NO.”

“NO!”

Chapter Text

Harry wasn't sure how long he'd been sitting on the floor.

Long enough that the staring and mild whispering in the opposite corner of the room was starting to annoy him. He couldn't move from his spot however, glued to the floor by an unseeable force of instantaneous mourning of loss.

He'd been staring off into space, mentally kicking himself, going over every little thing that had happened. It felt like it was only moments into the present but he knew that time had passed exponentially longer then that.

It'd been Harry’s fault.

If he hadn’t pulled his idiotic stunt, none of this would have happened. He'd still be in the cabin, he'd still be there.

With Tom.

Harry wondered if Tom were still there, alive and waiting for Harry to come back.

A familiar popping sound cracked loudly in the room and it broke Harry from his daze. He made sure not to move his gaze from the spot he’d fixed them to but his attention and his peripheral was solely placed on the individual who had apparated next to him.

He listened intently, focusing on their voices, on their inflicts and declines. He needed as much information as he could gather beyond normal means.

“What happened?”

“He was gone by the time I got back there.”

“He must have run to hide then. Coward.”

“There's something else. Eddie is dead.”

Suddenly Harry felt a sadness wash over him. He'd never known Peters’ first name.

“We'll have to wait to go back and collect him.”

“Hermione, we can't just leave him there.”

“We have no choice. Voldemort may have run but we don't know if he'll come back to collect anything. Ron, can you set up a watch? If he doesn't come back in 48 hours then we'll take Eddie’s body home.”

“Alright, I'll take George with me.”

Bodies shuffled out but the air had become a lot more tense. Harry could feel someone coming up beside him, kneeling down to his height.

“...Harry?” Hermione never sounded so gentle in her life. “I can show you a place to get cleaned up if you'd like.” Her voice was small, worried.

Harry chanced a glance at her and noticed how different she looked from the last time he'd seen her. She still had the face of her youth but her hair, which was just in the same disarray as always, had a few grey strands streaking through it.

Harry also noticed her reaction at seeing his eyes. He could see the tiniest of twitches her nose made, and the subtle widening of her eyes. She was staring unblinkingly at those golden orbs, unsure of what to do or say.

Harry simply nodded then, breaking whatever eye contact they had. He knew logically that he was cold and covered in a thin layer of his own blood. Instead of speaking he just nodded again and picked himself up off the floor.

Hermione quietly and slowly took her time escorting Harry out of the room and into a hallway. He half guessed he was in an empty cellar for they had to climb a bit of stairs once exiting the room.

Everything around him was made of old but polished wood. The stairs creaked heavily beneath their feet with each step and it was so quiet Harry could hear every noise that happened around them.

The stairs ended at a door that stood open a crack. Light poured in and dimly illuminated the top steps. When Hermione opened the door all the way Harry could see that the light was coming from a fireplace.

One that looked like the one back at the cabin, old but polished and tidy.

No one else was there, just Hermione and Harry and the fire crackling on its merry way.

Harry thought for a moment how easy it would be to try to escape now but a tiny tug at the bottom of his stomach stopped him, reminded him of who he was walking behind. It scolded him for thinking he could do something to harm Hermione.

He continued following her through what he assumed was a sitting room and down another hallway. He wasn't sure how many turns they took but he came to the conclusion that wherever he was, it was big, made up off old architecture, but it had been taken very well care of.

Eventually Hermione stopped in front of a dark brown, wooden door. “You can wash up in there. I'll bring you some towels and clean clothes.”

Harry stared down at her and noticed the massive height he had on her now. Without saying a word he ducked into the room and shut the door behind him.

The room was dull, laden in the same dark brown color as the hallway. It wasn't his washroom with the tiled floors and eggshell walls. The tub, which sat against the far wall, was not his tub. The shower that stood next to the sink was not his either.

Running a hand along the door to the shower sparked the recent memories of when he was last in his. It had been a safe place to shed himself of his weaker feelings. Tom had made him feel so much better.

Now Harry was here and Tom had disappeared.

Harry wasn't angry with him, but he missed him immensely. He felt a switch click off inside him and the world seemed so much duller now.

The shower was warm but Harry didn't delight in it. He didn't spend much time under the water, just enough to wash any blood off and away from the tiny cuts that had sprayed over his chest and arms.

He'd managed to save most of his face from the blast of light but when he stepped out of the shower and took a look in the mirror above the sink, he noticed a few cuts along his chin. He could barely make them out however, for his stubble was a bit more prominent now, casting a shadow over his jaw and upper lip.

For a moment Harry saw a mixture of his father and Sirius staring back at him, but then his eyes found their golden reflection and the memory of the two gradually faded until he only saw himself.

His hair lay messily atop his head, longer now than it had ever been. It’s curls reached to just above his shoulders. He hadn’t been aware of the growth before and realized it was actually quite annoying. Harry turned, seeing a small cabinet behind him in the reflection of the mirror. He opened the doors and rummaged through the items that sat inside. He stopped when he saw the tiny grooming scissors and slowly reached for them.

He held them up before the mirror and before he could talk himself out of it, he grabbed a chunk of hair and snipped away with the scissors.

Each sound the tiny blades made matched a thumping in his chest. He watched his hair fall from his head and his hands into the sink and floor beneath him.

Harry only stopped when there was no more hair to cut.

Now all he saw in the mirror was a ghostly image of himself. He was pale, his normal ivory pallor fading away. His cheeks were gaunt and the bags under his eyes were deeply purple.

He looked so much different now, without his curls. Beyond the scar that scattered along his temple, Harry didn’t look like much of Harry any longer.

The Harry he knew was still back at the cabin. Only a stranger stood here now.

A soft knock on the door startled Harry and he dropped the scissors. He bent down to pick them up and when he rose back up, he stopped short at his reflection once again.

All of his hair had grown back, not a strand out of place.

Harry gripped the scissors in his hand, his fingers curling hard around the brass metal. White hot anger flooded his entire body and before he could stop himself he reeled his hand back and punched the glass, shattering it to a million tiny pieces.

“Harry?” Hermione called from the otherside of the door. There was a heavy pause behind it, for she had just heard the loud sound of glass breaking apart. “I’ve brought you some towels. There’s a room across the hall with some fresh clothes.” She paused again, one Harry could feel through the air. He rested his bloodied hand against it, dropping the scissors to the floor. He’d missed that voice. “Harry?” She called again, sounding a bit more worried.

Harry looked at his knuckles bleeding freely down the door and onto the floor. The only towels there were were on the other side and Harry quietly cursed to himself.

A thought passed over his mind though, a familiar reminder that he had used magic without a wand before. He brought his hand closer to himself and whispered, “Episkey.”

After a few seconds when nothing happened, he cleared his throat and spoke a little louder. “Episkey.”

The skin on his knuckles closed the gashes on their own, sealing any cuts and future bleeding. He’d done it successfully and for the first time since he’d been ripped away, Harry smiled.

Clearing his throat again and reaching for the door knob, Harry slowly opened the door to see Hermione standing there with the towels she’d mentioned. A moment passed between the two before Harry said anything. A small part of him was happy to see her, to hear her, but it was so small that it became a nagging sensation in the back of his mind.

“Thank you.” Harry said quietly, his voice rough from lack of use. He cleared his throat once again. “I won’t be needing them.” He’d meant it to sound a nicer, lighter, but his voice fell gruffly from his lips. He could see Hermione noticed this and chose to ignore it. He also watch as her eyes dipped down towards his bloodied hand and back upwards to his face.

When neither said a word, she turned on her heel and gestured for him to follow the short distance to his room. “Alright, your room is this way.” She gestured to a door right across from them.

Those words hung heavy with Harry, for whatever room she called his was not his. His room was in the cabin with his bed and his fireplace. He nodded all the same though and followed her anyway as she led him inside.

This room was also simple and old, laden with one small bed, a small nightstand and a simple patterned rug on the floor. There was no fireplace, no grand chairs situated nicely around a small table. Though the wood furnishings were just as beautiful as the rest of the manor, this space felt cold, dull and a little bit sad to Harry.

He saw the clothes laid out on the bed and moved towards them. “Thank you, Hermione.” He said, staring down at the dull fabric.

Harry heard the ruffle of her hair that denoted a simple nod and the footsteps she’d taken to leave the room. When he heard the small click of the door closing, Harry quickly pulled the shirt on over his head. It didn’t seem to fit exactly right, as if it were just a size too big. He could see the hem of it reach a little longer then he’d like and for a moment felt like his eleven year old self underneath the stairs, wearing clothes that were much too big for him.

He shook off the memory and changed into the jeans laid out for him. These too felt a little baggier then he’d like and briefly wondered if he’d lost a bit of weight over the past few months. The pants he’d been wearing lay on the floor, crumpled and forgotten.

Harry’s mind couldn’t help but rush back to those last few minutes he had with Tom.

When the bright light had started to dissipate, all Harry could see was a crumpled mess on the floor. He’d been worried he’d simply killed Tom and he was surprised at what he saw before being taken away. It had stopped him cold and all thought seemed to fly out the window.

If he had been able to stay, he would have snapped out of the daze eventually and gathered the other in his arms, but now the absence of the action felt like a void inside his chest. He felt like he was mourning the death of a loved one.

More so than ever he wanted to be in Tom’s arms. At one point his mind had tricked him into thinking he was but the ghostly memory faded away and Harry was left alone in this tiny room.


 

Time for Harry seemed an unimportant thing. No where he'd been so far had any windows or clocks so his only way of telling what time it was, was a rough calculation of a time to eat. His stomach had begun to grumble loudly in protest of his tiny hunger strike, but beyond that he wasn’t sure which meal he’d be eating.

He'd been sitting on the edge of his bed for what seemed like hours, not really wanting to leave the room and face anyone outside of it. His stomach grumbled lightly again and this time he couldn't ignore it.

The hallway outside his room was just as quiet as before, quiet enough that he could hear the rest of the structures around him groan. A ways back down the hallway he’d come, he heard voices coming from a room that lay off to the right of the stairs he climbed earlier.

Whatever conversation the people behind the door were having couldn't have been a good one. Harry heard a few raised voices and a couple shushes to keep the noise down. He was certain that they were arguing over Harry.

Debating briefly if he should just return to his room and ride out the mild hunger pains, Harry tried to shake off the inevitable feeling of anxiety. It rose with every second he stood outside the door.

What would staying in his room really accomplish though? If anything, they were just worried about him. Maybe if showing them he was fine then they would understand. Understand what, Harry wasn’t sure, but he couldn’t just keep standing out in the hallway. Eventually someone was going to see him being strange by himself.

Clearing his throat, Harry reached for the doorknob. He turned it gently and immediately the voices inside the room stopped. There was no going back now, they knew who was opening the door. Even if he ran back to his room they’d come and see him just to check on him.

He pushed open the door and was instantly greeted with the most grim looking faces he’d ever seen.

Inside the room were familiar people, Ron, Hermione, George and Molly. There were a few unfamiliar faces as well, ranging from young to middle aged. All of them were facing Harry, stunned into silence by his presence.

A small part of Harry was a bit impressed with himself. He’d always been able to cast a shadow of awe over others, especially in his younger years when people were excited to meet the boy-who-lived, but now different. Now, they were afraid. Maybe not quite so afraid of Harry, more as to what happened to him, but timid around him nonetheless.

No one really knew what to say, they just continued to stare at Harry, their eyes flicking from his eyes to the rest of his body.

Molly was the first of anyone in the room to do anything. She crossed the room in a few wide strides, her arms coming to wrap themselves around Harry. The hug was strained, halfway between a full body hug and a shoulder pat. It was awkward and Harry couldn't help but shrug himself out of her grip. She felt strange to him, foreign. Once he could have called her Mother, but now she was just Mrs. Weasley.

He tried to smile at her, but he folded in on himself and stood back away from the crowd. He wasn’t sure what to say as well. He tucked his hands into his jean’s pockets and sighed. “Is there anything to eat around here?”

Molly, who'd been just as quick as anyone else to notice the way Harry was acting, pulled herself up and nodded, plastering a tiny smile on her face. “I can whip you something up, Harry, if you’d like.”

Nodding, Harry watched as she exited the room, he assumed, to the kitchen. George decided to leave, not making eye contact with Harry, as he passed right on by him out the door. The other unknown people followed suit, all except Ron and Hermione.

Harry sighed, knowing something was about to come up between them. He watched as Hermione took a seat on a small sofa. It sat across from a much wider sofa with a small table between them. Ron followed Hermione and Harry sat across from them.

The tension in the room was rigid and Harry suddenly felt like running back to his room. He cleared his throat, his fingers absentmindedly tapping the arm of the sofa.

Hermione spoke up, quiet and constrained. “How is your room?”

Harry fought the urge to correct her. He nodded, trying his best to fake a smile. “It’s okay. Small.”

“And your hand?” It seemed as if the question were bursting from her and Harry knew she’d been patiently holding on to that.

He nodded again. “It’s okay, healed. I’m sorry about the mess.”

Ron snorted unexpectedly. “Guess we couldn’t get you the cabin suite.” It was filled with sarcasm and mild contentment. “George and I went back there to-” The sentence died on his tongue but Harry knew what he was going to say.

“Were you able to get Peters’ body back?”

Hermione straightened up. “Yes. He’s already been brought to his family for burial.”

The words hung in the air between them. Harry hadn’t been sure if Peters had a family or not, but now he knew and somewhere inside he felt a small pang of guilt.

‘Did you-” Harry bit his bottom lip. “Did you find anyone-”

“No.” Ron’s voice was flat and stern. “The place was empty.”

Harry felt a sudden joy of relief. Before he could hide the look on his face, he’d already allowed himself a tiny smile, a tiny window inside the self he was trying to keep buried.

He couldn’t hide it any faster from them but before they could speak up, Molly came back into the room, George and one other in tow with her. She was smiling but not really smiling at Harry, and set down a tray of food on the table.

George and the figure behind him shuffled on in, helping put a few more trays down before taking their places by the door. Harry stared at the figure next to George and quickly realized it was Neville, of all people.

“Hello Neville.” Harry spoke, nodding towards him.

Neville, who by now had eclipsed George’s height, stood up straight and awkwardly smiled at Harry. “Hullo Harry. You alright?” He too was trying not to look Harry in the eye but was failing. He kept shuffling his feet, seemingly itchy to get out of the room.

Harry looked at the food laid out in front of him. There was enough there to satisfy his hunger but suddenly the feeling was gone. He wasn’t hungry anymore. He could feel his stomach turning to stone, a pit of familiar anxieties forming, and a sadness wash over him.

“When can I leave?” He asked, watching as everyone in the room shared a common string of looks. He already knew the answer but he’d wait for an explanation anyway.

Hermione cleared her throat. “Why would you want to leave Harry? We just rescued you.” She was trying her hardest not to let her voice waiver but Harry could hear it from deep down within her. She was always good at worrying over Harry like a mother bird.

Harry felt tired. His shoulders felt heavy and burdened with the knowledge that he wasn’t going to like what they had to say. “I don’t belong here.”

George let loose a snort from his spot by the door. Molly chided him but everyone still looked at him all the same. When he saw Harry staring hard at him, he rolled his shoulders and crossed his arms. “Figures that we save you and your not even grateful.”

“George.” Molly chided again. “Harry, I’m sorry, we can’t-”

Harry watched George, watched him squirm under his stare, watched him shuffle his feet just as awkwardly as Neville had done. “What do you mean?” All pleasantries gone, Harry stood, aware that Ron and Hermione followed and stood as well.

“Mum please. I saw the cabin, as did Ron.” He nodded to his brother. “Did he keep you chained up in another room or were you too busy sharing that one bedroom?”

Heat flushed Harry’s face. How dare he speak of things he didn’t understand? He could feel his magic swirl around himself. It was just as uncomfortable as he felt, moving around inside not quite as smoothly as it once did. It seemed to agree with him, pushing him to take a step forward towards George. “Excuse me?”

“What really happened Harry? Why did it take so long for us to find you?”

Eyes moved between George to Harry and back again, everyone pretty much waiting on an answer. Harry couldn’t stand feeling this embarrassed. His face couldn't feel any warmer and his stomach couldn’t feel any heavier, but his words seemed lost on him. He shouldn’t have to explain himself. He should feel happy to see these people, but now he only felt anger.

Anger for ripping him away, anger for tiptoeing around him, anger for accusing him of being deceitful.

Harry scoffed and smiled. He ran a hand through the mess that was his hair and actually let loose a small laugh. He was still nervous and embarrassed beyond belief but why should they see it?

“You screamed no. When we apparated back here, you yelled no I don’t know how many times.”

“George, enough.”

“No.”

It was Harry who spoke and broke up the potential for sibling bickering. He wasn’t sure if he was just repeating George or actually saying no. “What do you want from me?”

George took a defiant step forward. “The truth. We rescued you and you’re acting like we’re the aunts and uncles you have to get along with at awkward family gatherings.”

Hermione cleared her throat and spoke up. “George, it’s alright. It’s only natural that Harry act differently around us.”

“No it’s not.” Ron chimed in. “It’d be natural if he hugged us until we couldn’t breath, if he’d look at us like he was grateful for being pulled out of the fire.”

Harry was only getting more angrier by the second. “Excuse me.” He said, his voice cold and hard. “I don’t appreciate being spoken about like I’m not even in the room.”

Everyone looked at him again.

“George is right, Harry.” Neville sounded as nervous as he always did but he stood straight and tall. “It only took a matter of seconds for us to see that you're different.”

“Did my eyes give it away?” Harry’s smile grew wider and a short, curt laugh bubbled up from below. He shook his head and looked around at everyone. “You’re absolutely right. I am different and I'd like to leave now please.” There was a hard edge to his words, his voice stiff and peppered with a hint of absolute rage.

He needed to get out of this place, out of this room, away from all these people who didn't matter to him.

Just like that, Harry suddenly just stopped.

Even his own thoughts seemed to surprise him enough to catch him truly off guard.

They spoke to him as if from another person sharing his brain. It whispered these negative things, masked as assurance and confidence. For a moment, Harry could tell this was a separate part of him.

How could he hate these people, the ones he called family, so easily? How could he be disgusted just by their mere presence?

He'd stopped talking as these thoughts rolled around in his head and forgot, briefly, where he was. He felt a hand on his shoulder and he looked over to see Hermione standing by his side, a place she had quite often frequented. It was a gesture Harry had missed and quite suddenly something filled inside of him, something opposite of rage. He watched as Hermione's brows knitted together from concern and he wondered why.

“Harry? Are you alright? You're...you're crying.”

Chapter Text

Harry could hear his blood pounding in his ears. He could feel the tips of his fingers rush ice cold. His heart hammered away in his chest, wildly and without a steady beat. He’d heard Hermione tell him he was crying, could feel the tickling wetness roll down his cheeks, could see how everyone in the room was staring at him. They were confused, concerned, scared.

He noticed Neville and George move instinctively towards the door, becoming a barrier for Harry, silently telling him he couldn’t leave the room. George looked angry, Neville looked sad.

All at once, Harry lunged at George, ready to strike him, when Neville stepped forward and shouldered the blow of Harry’s fist. Someone screamed in the background but Harry didn’t care. He lunged at whoever he could because he needed them to get out of his way. Neville shoved him backwards but when he came clashing back, he caught Neville off guard and they toppled to the ground.

He could feel George trying to rip him off of Neville but Harry shoved him away. He was so mad, so annoyed, so terrified that they wouldn’t let him leave. He was manic and didn’t care that his hands had now wrapped around Neville’s throat. All Harry could see was red.

Red and for some reason, Bellatrix’s face.

A tiny sliver of thought shot through Harry’s brain, bringing to light that he’d been in this position before. He’d been on top of another body, fighting another fight with someone else and how ironic that it had been Bellatrix.

How humorous and sickening that it had been Bellatrix he was seeing now, a ghosted memory fading over Neville’s face, of all people.

Somewhere inside, Harry felt laughter claw to the surface. His thumbs dug into the flesh of Neville’s neck, intent on crushing his windpipe. He felt Neville’s fingers clawing at his hands, could see the purple hue in Neville’s face. He could see the terrified look in those green eyes and Harry hated him, he hated seeing those green eyes that had once been the color of his own. He wanted to end this, to be done with this incessant annoying situation.

Harry could feel his magic tangle inside him, slithering around and getting ready to break loose.

Goosebumps rose on Harry’s skin as he tasted the words on his tongue.

All he had to do was say them, say the words.

Say them!

Multiple hands wrapped around his arms and body, pulling him away from Neville. Harry tried to hold on but he felt a painful force jab him in the side and he released Neville, falling backward into the crowd of people.

Neville gasped for breath as George helped him up off the floor. Harry could feel Ron and Hermione trying to hold him back.

At some point he’d found himself on the floor, Ron using all his body weight to keep Harry down and under control.

This nagging feeling of mourning and loss wracked Harry harder then he ever felt he could. He’d known loss in his life, sure, but this was different. He felt it on a deeper level, the pain practically etched into his bones to remind him that he was far, far away from what made him feel whole.

They couldn’t have known how far down the rabbit hole he was.

He wasn’t even sure himself but the torn feeling of ice in his heart and fire in his blood was enough to make him go mad. He’d grabbed the first thing his hand had found on the hard floor, a simple dust pan. He chucked it across the room, narrowly missing everyone and hitting a glass cabinet in the process.

While someone screamed at the sudden noise of glass shattering, Harry tried to stand and make a run for it but two arms caught him around the waist from behind. Harry thrashed around, screaming, kicking, scratching at whoever had the nerve to hold him like a child, all the while feeling the impulse to mutter those deafening words and the impulse to stop himself wrap around him like an old friend.

Harry felt like he was going to burst and as tears started to fall, he tried one last time to shake off his captor’s arms. When the stronger of the two won, Harry fell forward, slack in their grasp. He felt like he was dying but he couldn’t stop himself from crying and pleading to be let go between sobs that tore his soul in half.

Suddenly, soft, cool hands came up to gently cup his face, thumbs moving in tiny rhythmic circles along his temples.

It sent a shiver down Harry’s spine, one filled with peace instead of anxiety. He realized at some point he’d shut his eyes so when he opened them to see a familiar face, he was pleasantly surprised.

“Luna…” Harry whispered hoarsely, his body feeling suddenly heavy and useless. All the fighting, all the crying removed whatever strength he had and the peaceful emotion bursting off from Luna in waves kept his mind quiet and his thoughts tucked away.

Luna smiled that gloriously, infectious smile, tilting her head to one side. “Hello Harry.” She spoke softly, as if her voice itself was a lullaby.

Harry smiled and shut his eyes again, his head falling forward as exhaustion overtook him.


 

It would be some time before Harry woke. While he slept, he dreamt of other things.

He was no longer in the stuffy house with people from his past, no, now he was back in the stone tower, listening calmly to the sounds of the waves crashing up against it.

The balcony was the same as he remembered, only when once it was an escape for Harry from the horrors of his new life, now it played as an escape from the unfamiliarity of a life he once lived.

Here Harry sat, arms resting lightly on his drawn up knees. The wind blew his hair to and fro and he could feel a bit of the ocean spray on his face. It was morning here, the sun rising behind the tower. The part of the sky he could see still held a bit of its purple nightly hue.

It was peaceful here and Harry wished he could stay forever. It had been so long since he’d had a dream that didn’t provoke dangerous thoughts or lead to seeing things that spoke the terrible truth.

There were no mirrors here to remind him of the man he was becoming, far from the man he thought he’d be by now. Though he felt a sense of shame, he felt a longing much stronger overthrow it.

He couldn’t have been away for more than a year but in that time he’d learned to pine for things he never thought he’d want, for a person he never thought he could feel this way towards.

Harry felt so much older than he was, tired and exhausted and very very sad.

Maybe in time he’d get over the separation, maybe even learn to love those familiar people again. Could he be so shallow as to be molded purely by who he surrounded himself with?

Harry wondered how Tom was fairing, if he was safe and unharmed.

Harry wondered if he’d ever see Tom again.


 

Draco watched as Harry’s chest rose and fell while he slept. He hadn’t noticed that Draco sat down next to him, or took his hand into his own, lacing their fingers together.

No, he was far away in a deep, calming sleep.

Draco sighed and ran a hand through his hair. He should have been sleeping too, but he couldn’t bring himself to leave Harry. All the time he’d spent away from him, worrying about him, trying to find him, and now he had him right in front of him. How many nights had he stayed awake, anxiety blanketed over him, fear constantly reminding him that he’d left Harry, left him alone.

It felt like a dream he didn’t want to wake up from. He worried the smoke would clear and Harry would disappear as if he wasn’t even there.

A small noise broke his thoughts. The door to the small reading room opened and Hermione poked her head through, only slightly, and whispered. “Draco? Would you like me to sit with him while you rest?”

Draco shook his head. “No, I want to be here when he wakes up.”

Pale fingers trailed along the darkened pallor, the tips falling over bumps of freshly grown skin. How many scars were scattered along Harry, deep and shallow and wide and small?

Goosebumps rose in the wake of these curious fingers, following a path from neck to navel. The muscles beneath moved as Harry stirred from his slumber.

Draco stopped what he was doing, looking up from where his fingers lay, to the man who had awoken before him.

Harry stared, no words bubbling to the surface, just a quiet and curious look on his face.

They weren’t sure how long they looked at one another or how long it had been since either had moved another muscle. It wasn’t until another knock at the door did Draco finally remove himself from the vicinity of Harry.

He opened the door just a crack and mumbled briefly to whoever stood on the other side. When they had left, Draco quietly shut the door and turned to face Harry.

“You’ve changed.” He whispered, his voice feeble and weak beneath his thin, paling lips. Not only could Draco see the apparent new scars freshly strewn about on Harry’s skin, but he noted the gruffness of his stubble, his hair which had grown, and his golden eyes surrounded by a thick darkness of despair.

Harry, who’d been watching Draco carefully, grunted softly in agreement. It wasn’t hard to notice the thinning figure of Draco, nor the longer blonde hair flowing just above his shoulders in tiny curls. “So have you.” His voice was thick, unused while he slept.

What more words could there be between the two, who had one point were tied together under the blanket of eminent death, but were now galaxies apart?

Draco let loose a shaky sigh, one of a million burdens crumbling off his shoulders. They had found Harry and he was safe, different but alive and safe and right now he greatly needed this small victory.

“Where have you been?” Harry asked, sitting up and rearranging himself.

Draco continued to watch Harry, to notice the sheer difference in how he moved from one simple position to another. “I was out getting supplies. I didn’t even know you were here until I got back.”

The conversation was tense, neither knowing how to speak to one another. The air between them was stale and thick with unused words and concerns.

Harry sighed and ran a hand through his unruly hair. “I won’t be here much longer.”

The words struck a chord within Draco. In one second flat his demeanor changed from strained and meek to curious and defiant. “What? What does that mean?” He pushed himself away from the wall, arms crossing over his chest as he took a few brave steps forward. “You’re leaving?”

Harry’s golden eyes locked with Draco’s, an unwavering gaze to cold grey. “I have to find him Draco. Before I was taken...something happened.”

“Taken? What?” Draco’s voice was steadily climbing in volume. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing and for a moment he forgot that he was dealing with a different person. He crossed the room to Harry and stood maybe half a foot away. Looking down at the other, Draco repeated himself. “Taken? Is that what you’re calling our rescue? We took you? Well what about when he stole you? Us?!” He was loud now but Draco didn’t care.

How long had he been wishing to save Harry, worrying and wondering about so many unpleasant things? How many nights had he been going over and over their time spent in the stone tower?

Draco was so upset that Harry couldn’t deny seeing it. Harry stood, not knowing what to say or do to calm the other down. Strangely he felt like he were being chastised at school again. The thought almost made Harry smile but instead he moved around Draco towards the door of the room. “I’m sorry.” He muttered, reaching towards the knob.

Draco hadn’t bothered to turn around. He kept his shoulders tight and eyes plastered on the couch where Harry had sat. “You won’t be able to leave Harry. No one is going to let you leave while Voldemort is still out there.”

Harry’s hand wavered in the air. “I’ll just apparate then.”

“They’ve put up wards around the house.”

“Where have I heard those words before?”

Harry’s voice sounded hollow, strange to Draco’s ears. He hadn’t known how different Harry had truly been until he heard his voice. It caused his shoulders to sag and his eyes to shut in pain. Draco turned then and watched as Harry stood, staring at the door he’d been reaching for. His hand lay at his side.

“Don’t you understand that this is what’s best for you?” Draco came up behind Harry, reaching out to his shoulder to gently turn him around.

He was surprised to see tears falling gently down Harry’s face, his golden eyes shining behind unshed ones.

“I-“ Harry’s voice caught on a lump in his throat. How was it that he could feel this instantly vulnerable around Draco when at one time they were nothing but enemies? Why could he show Draco this side and not Hermione or Ron? There was nothing he could say to make Draco or anyone else understand.

“I can’t stay here.” His voice faulted briefly but Harry cleared his throat and stood straight, his eyes beginning to dry up. Harry wiped his face with one hand and sighed. “And if you make me stay here, I’ll kill every last one of you.”


 

Harry sat alone in the same room he’d woken up in. Draco had left a while ago but Harry couldn’t bring himself to wander the rest of the house. Instead he sat back on the couch and let his mind drift, his body suddenly heavy, the room around him suddenly gray. It was after some time that Harry realized his magic had been bound. He could feel it coil around inside him but any time he tried to muster a spell, the feeling seemed to fizzle and die.

He reflected on when he’d first been taken by Voldemort, all those months before. He’d been so angry, so ready to fight back until his dying breath. He’d been scared, for sure, if he’d ever make it out alive, if he’d ever see his friends again, if Draco would survive after he was gone.

Harry had been in the deep before, but when confusion set in and his curiosity had been peaked, Harry knew it would be a while before he lift himself out of it. He hadn’t expected to keep digging his own grave however. He thought at some point he would break and his demise would come swiftly, but Voldemort had shown him things, spoke to him of past paths and different endings to the same stories.

It all started to make sense and the further Harry fell into Voldemort’s world, the rest of his dwindled to nothing. The normal was uncomfortable, clunky and Harry didn’t understand a bit of it.

His life had done a complete one-eighty but the similarities were strikingly obvious. How long would it take him to become himself again, under the careful and watchful eyes of the others?

The doorknob squeaked quietly though loud enough to alert Harry and instantly the trip his mind had taken stopped. He watched as the door open, wondering who he’d see walk through this time.

“Harry? Sorry to intrude, you’ve been in here a while and I just figured you might be hungry.”

Hermione’s curls bounced around her shoulders as she walked into the room, a tray of tea and finger foods sitting atop it. Ron followed right behind her but his demeanor was as stiff as ever, more as a protective watchdog then as a friend.

How could Harry expect much else from the one he used to called a brother?

Harry stood, watching as Hermione placed the tray down on a nearby table. He hadn’t been aware of any hunger until just now when his stomach grumbled loudly enough to alert anyone in the nearby hallway outside. “Thank you, Hermione.”

He’d be polite, he’d keep his inner thoughts and feelings to himself. They didn’t know this part of him, not really. They may have seen a bit of the crazy earlier but he would try to be civil. Pretending to be normal would be his only way out.

Hermione smiled gently as she backed away towards Ron, back to the safety Harry became instantly jealous of. His left hand clenched with the rush of emotion, nails digging into the skin of his palm.

He noticed Hermione and Ron notice too. Harry didn’t know how to break this awkward tension. He was staring at strangers, unsure of how to act or how to speak. He could be cordial but beyond that he felt as if he had nothing in common with them anymore.

Harry cleared his throat and moved toward the tray of food and tea. He looked over his shoulder, about to offer them some when he saw they’d turn to go. “W-wait.” The word seemed to escape from behind his lips, a bittersweet memory of a feeling of fondness pushed it outwards.

Both Hermione and Ron stopped and turned around. Hermione seemed puzzled and curious but Ron only seemed angry.

“Yes, Harry?” Hermione asked, the sound of hope hanging on her words.

Harry straightened, unsure of what his hands should be doing. He tucked them in the pockets of his pants and sighed. “I, I’m trying to understand everything that’s happened. I want to be better, I do, but it’s hard.”

A snort escaped Ron as he folded his arms across his chest. Hermione only half rolled her eyes before stepping forward. “It’s understandable.”

“Is it?” Harry asked, genuinely curious to her response. He nodded towards Ron, choosing to ignore the look of betrayal. “You said earlier it would be normal to hug you, but even thinking of doing that makes me feel uncomfortable.”

He could see the hurt written on their faces and though a small part of him wanted to erase those emotions, an even larger part encouraged his charade. It wriggled inside of him, whispering words of deception.

Hermione made to move closer towards Harry but Ron gently took hold of her arm. “Don’t Hermione.”

“Ron, I think I’ll be -“ Hermione started in protest.

“No, just don’t. He isn’t the Harry we knew.” Ron tried to be stern, tried to be the voice of reason but he couldn’t stop staring at the person his best friend was supposed to be.

Harry watched them closely, could see in the subtle glances from Hermione and the protective stance from Ron that things between them were intimate but strained.

“Ron,” Harry started, noticing the subtle shift in Ron’s demeanor upon hearing his name aloud. “I can assure you,” he paused, shaking his head and reminding himself to be solace and pitiful looking as possible. He couldn’t stop himself from feeling entertained by the absurdity of his situation, though. “I may look a bit different, but, but I’m still the same Harry inside.”

“No you’re not.” Ron said defiantly. “You’re someone completely different.”

“I know I feel like a stranger to you. You feel like one to me.” Harry’s voice began to deepen slightly, his annoyance suddenly spiking. He thought he could at least act normal for a little while longer but this tedious conversation and these tedious people were just too much to stomach. He tried to smile gently but it came out as an awkward grin.

“I think in time you’ll come to understand that I’m exactly the same Harry as I was before.” It could be true, Harry thought. He could be the same Harry he was before, just more confident and outspoken about what he wanted for his life.

Ron wrinkled his nose in annoyance. “You’re not the same, mate. Don’t you-” Ron’s anger began to rise. He wanted to smack that smug look off Harry’s face because it didn’t belong there, it didn’t belong with those golden eyes and that creepy grin. “Don’t you see? He’s changed you to his liking. He’s taken everything you were, away, as if it didn’t matter!” Ron was yelling now, exhausted and frustrated and done with it all.

Things hasn’t panned out exactly how he saw it in his head and it angered Ron so much. How could it have gotten this bad this quickly? How could they not save Harry earlier?

Harry sighed. His shoulders tightened and his back straightened and quite frankly, he was tired of trying. If he couldn’t sell it to Hermione and Ron then he wouldn’t be able to with anyone else.

The grin reappeared, and a small laugh bubbled up from deep inside.

“You’re right!” Harry yelled, bursting loudly from where he stood and startling Ron and Hermione. “I’m done. I guess I’m not the same anymore. I’m no longer blind to the beauty of insanity.” Harry chuckled. “I’ve been shown a better way to be,” He shrugged, his smile widening. “I’ve surpassed you.”

The words hung in the air between the trio, heavy and horrible. Hermione had started to cry. Ron was furious, anger rising as heat through his skin.

“How could this have gone so wrong?”Hermione cleared her throat but her voice still came out two sizes too small. “We risked so much to rescue you.”

Harry could hear the pain, the anger in her feeble voice. He could see it their eyes, eyes of those he grew up knowing and loving. He felt as if he were being torn apart, a dull feeling of heartbreak poking him in the ribs.

The insanity trickled away, if only for a moment. They didn’t know any better, he told himself. They didn’t know what they were walking in to.

He sighed. “I told you not to save me. I read that letter to the press and told you not to save me.”

Ron scoffed. “You expected us to listen to that trash, to not try everything in our power to save you?”

“I prayed every day,” Harry started, his voice a little wary with emotion. “Every day, that you’d come for me. Then one day I didn’t anymore. I’m not sure when it was exactly, but I stopped believing a long time ago. Any small spark of hope that remained was tiny and insignificant.”

Hermione took a step forward, her hand coming to gently rest on Harry’s arm. Harry noticed the tiniest of flinches Ron had behind her and he suppressed the urge to smirk.

Staring up at Harry, Hermione cleared her throat once more and spoke. “We tried anything we could think of. I’m sorry it took us so long, but you’re here now, safe and with us.”

Harry nodded. “Yes, I am. I’m here with you, locked in these invisible chains you’ve put on me.” Every bit of malice and contempt he had for them dripped with his words, the disdain for them falling from his mouth with ease as his voice tumbled carelessly outwards.

Hermione could feel the underlying anger behind the softness of Harry’s features, the simple contrast executed beautifully so much so that it terrified her. She felt her throat tighten and her pulse begin to race. “I-“

“Those are for your safety.” Ron spoke up. “We don’t need you getting yourself killed for being a git, just because you like to choke people.”

Harry smiled down at Hermione, a toothy grin of utter horrifying anger. When he spoke, it was gentle and soft, but his tone was heavy and his voice was deep. “Get away from me.” He rumbled from behind it.

She followed suit and retreated to the strength of Ron who was busy standing on guard. “I know you’re still in there, Harry. Come back to us before we’re all gone.” Ron took hold of Hermione’s and led her out of the room.

Harry was left standing, annoyed and utterly displeased.

Chapter Text

Five days.

It had been about a week since Harry saw another person in the house. After a timid Molly showed Harry how to navigate back to the room he was to stay in, Harry barely left the proximity of it. He’d spend his days in a sort of meditative fog, sitting in various places of the room or laying on the floor with his arms behind his head.

He’d become accustomed to finding strange patterns in the wood of the ceiling above him, working out shapes as if they were the clouds outside. He never made a move to engage anyone else and they didn’t bother with him. His food was always laid outside his door and the few trips he did take beyond the room were to the bathroom down the hall.

Harry would spend a lot of time in there too, either dissolving in a bathtub or facing the shower head and wondering if he could drown standing up.

He avoided the mirrors at all cost, not needing a reminder of how he looked and why it was that he looked that way. He let the stubble on his face grow and surprisingly in such a short amount of time, something akin to the beginnings of an unruly beard were forming.

It never seemed to bother Harry, all this space and quiet. When once filled with warm fuzzy family feelings and hope, he couldn’t stand to be alone. Now, the solace was like a blanket. It was easier to hate everyone from afar then chance another violent reaction because they misunderstood him.

It had been about a week and Harry was only halfway into his morning meditation. He was sitting at the foot of his bed, his back straight and facing the door. His eyes were shut and his breathing calm. For a moment he heard nothing in the house around him.

No creak of a floorboard, no muffled voices passing by his room. Nothing but complete, peaceful silence.

Harry knew who it was before they even entered the room. He could hear the light padded footsteps, the simple twist of the doorknob, the quiet hum of their presence. Everything about them was calm and collective and simple.

Harry waited until he heard the soft click of the door closing shut before turning around. “Hello Luna.” He said, smiling genuinely at her.

A smile she returned with only minuscule traces of caution. “Hello Harry, how have you been?”

Harry shrugged and swung his legs over off the side of the bed. “I’ve been better, if I’m being honest.”

Luna nodded. “It’s been a couple of days, I wanted to make sure you were still alive. The others figured you would be since the trays come back empty but I thought I’d make sure it was you and not rats.”

“Nope, no rats. Just me.”

Luna stared at Harry for a moment, her head titling ever so slightly. Harry never really minded when she did so, knowing it was just her mind piecing ideas together to make the world make sense. This time though, Harry felt awkward and when he felt she’d been staring too long, he made a move and hopped off the bed.

“Did you need anything Luna? Other then to check on me?”

“Is there a reason you want to be alone Harry?”

“I would just prefer it is all. I don’t exactly feel welcomed here.”

Again, Luna took a little too long to stare and contemplate Harry. It felt as if she were crawling along his skin, burrowing into deep crevices for information.

“L-Luna please, I’d rather be by myself. You can tell the others I’m still alive.” Harry looked around the room and sighed. “Though I doubt they’d care much.”

Another uncomfortable silence stood between them like a thick wall. Luna reached out for Harry’s hand but it startled Harry and he back up a few steps  in surprise.

Luna continued to stare at Harry but this time she moved slowly, holding out her hand and turning it upwards, giving him the chance to choose what to do next.

“Come on,” She nodded towards the bedroom door. “I want to show you something.”

Harry was constantly noting the similarities between his time here and the beginnings of his downward spiral with Voldemort. Harry had wanted to be alone at first then too and the Dark Lord had done the same thing.

Luna was asking for trust and Harry just couldn’t say no to her.

He gingerly took her hand and followed her out of the bedroom, dashing glances down the hallways surrounding him for any sign of anyone else. He could feel his heart hammering in his chest and wondered where all this anxiety was coming from.

They only walked for a little bit but Luna stopped and opened a nearby doorway. Instantly Harry could smell the outside wind. It burst inward, clouding them with a familiar aroma of cars and freshly wet grass.

It was dark outside and the wind brought a chill along with it but Harry didn’t care. Luna was taking him outside and for a moment that was all that mattered.

There were small lights dangling from tree branches and lining tall brick walls that surrounded a small garden and stone patio. Harry could hear cars passing by somewhere and when he turned to look behind him to place it, he realized he was looking at a very small, more standard house then he knew it was.

The inside was way bigger than the outside would have anyone believe. It brought a smile to his face then, of memories of the tent they’d used at the Quidditch World Cup and then again while he was on the run.

Harry breathed in the air around him and even though he’d been meditating for a few days, he felt more calm and at peace in this moment then he had in a long time. He realized that he was far away from the ocean fortress and the snow covered trees and it made him a little sad.

“Sometimes all you need is fresh air.” Luna smiled at Harry as he walked past her towards the small garden. It didn’t hold much but the few plots of flowers it did were a beautiful array of multicolored petals. Harry reached out to touch one but he stopped short and retracted.

He couldn’t bring himself to touch something so beautiful, not while he felt so much less than that. He felt only half a person, half of someone who mattered. Luna waited patiently from her spot behind Harry, craning her head to hear the noises of suburban nature.

Suddenly Harry felt a coldness all around him. If seeing the beautiful flowers made him feel out of place, then he truly felt like he didn't belong here. He couldn't find the strength within himself to say he was right the way he was. No, being amongst this setting only allotted him to think negatively towards himself.

Harry made to move back inside the impossible house when a familiar figure stepped out in front of him.

Harry could see the shadows from the tiny twinkling lights play off Draco’s face and hair. They gave off a yellowing glow around his head as if to say he were an angel but the scowl upon his face belied any indication that Draco was going to be angelic.

“Luna, Molly is looking for you.” Was all he said before turning sharply on his heel.

“Wait.” Harry blurted out. Draco stopped but nothing else was said until Luna walked back inside, shutting the door behind her. “Draco I-”Harry wasn’t really sure what to say. Maybe there was an apology somewhere deep down inside but logically he knew that it wouldn't matter.

At one time they relied solely on each other but Harry tossed it all away with his threats and cold demeanor. Harry knew Draco meant something to him but he couldn’t find the strength to truly care.

“What happened to you Harry?” Draco sounded tired, exhausted from merely asking the heavy handed question. “I don’t see you when I look at you.” Draco couldn’t bring himself to turn around, to face Harry. He kept his gaze downward at his own shoes but his shoulders were straight and tense.

Pain like a tiny pin prick struck Harry in the chest. He could hear familiar words echo from a dream he’d had such a long time ago.

“You may have a piece of me inside of you Harry, but when people look at you and think of me, it’s not my soul they see.”

Harry’s chest tightened and suddenly he felt like he was gasping for air. He bent over, taking strained breaths, trying to fill his lungs as his vision began to swim before him.

He was on his knees and instantly Draco was by his side, fretting over what to do while Harry slipped out of control and into chaos. Draco tried to calm Harry down, tried to get the other to steady his breathing but Harry was only getting worse.

Gasps for air, tears falling down his face, his hands wildly grabbing about to hold on to anything, anything to keep him from floating away. No one heard the door to the house open or the hurried footsteps that stomped along the ground.

Harry only felt hands on and around him, tugging him upwards off the ground, tugging him forward away from the garden. He felt something solid against his back and bum as whoever was around him sat him down in what felt like a chair.

“Harry, Harry breathe. Come on, mate.” Ron spoke loudly. His voice wavered but he tried to speak slowly. “It’s okay, Harry, just slow down, we’ve got you. Breathe slowly.” He repeated, watching as Harry seem to sway back and forth, his face red and his eyes wild and wide. Ron took hold of both Harry’s hands and held them within his own, watching as Harry’s eyes focused on that simple gesture.

The small distraction seemed to work and Harry heaved only a few more times before forcing himself to breathe in deeply and breathe out slowly. The rhythm of his heart began to dissipate to a normal beat and Harry’s head rolled about from side to side.

He was severely light headed but his breathing was somewhat back to normal. All that was left were the tears flowing freely down his face. Harry hiccoughed and let loose a small cry. He felt so ashamed for showing such weakness in front of them all, for now he could see that beyond Ron, Hermione and Draco stood back to give them room and Molly and Luna stood even further back towards a doorway.

“I’m so tired.” Harry said, voice small and raw from all the wheezing. His eyes felt heavy and his head continued to swim. Before he knew what hit him, Harry fell forward into Ron’s unsteady catch, a darkness overtaking everything around him.


 

Harry dreamed of phoenixes and fire, of gravestones and churches. He dreamed of oceanic towers and of a heather-covered mountainside. He dreamed of many places and of many things but when he awoke he remembered none of it. He only felt a sense of unease and longing.

Sitting up slowly, Harry realized he was back in his bed. He was still wearing the clothes he’d been wearing earlier but his glasses were placed neatly on the bedside table next to him. He stretched, languidly reaching across his mattress to retrieve them.

He put the lenses on and instantly his stomach turned to knots. He remembered what had happened in the garden, how strangely soft Ron’s hands were, and quite suddenly the familiar rush of blood flooded his face with embarrassment.

Harry looked to his door, taking note that he was alone in his room, and wondered how long he could remain on his bed without needing food or water. Only when he had resigned to maybe testing his theory did a knock at the door dash his decision.

“Y-yes?” Harry called, his voice cracking from being unused for some time.

The door open a bit, Hermione’s familiar bouncy hair making an appearance a second before the rest of her. “Oh Harry, you’re awake, that’s wonderful.” She smiled but it wasn’t a real smile, just a shadow of happiness hiding behind caution and politeness. “I came to check on you.”

Clearing his throat, Harry stayed sitting on the bed. “How long was I out?” He asked, watching Hermione move from the small crack of the door to enter fully.

There was a moment’s pause as she stared at Harry, stared at the strangeness that was him. “Only a few hours. You had a panic attack and then you passed out.”

As if he needed reminding, Harry rolled his eyes and sighed. “My apologies, I didn’t mean to make a fuss.”

Hermione moved closer then, only a few steps at first. When Harry made no move to shove her out, she kept walking until she reached the bed. Sitting down next to Harry felt awkward, as if she were sitting next to a stranger. She was silent, her eyes moving around to capture Harry’s entire face, his hair, his scar. They landed on his eyes and spent too long staring at them.

Harry looked away then, his face still a bit heated. He could feel a familiar warmth radiating from Hermione, one that felt like safety, like family. It had been so long since he’d felt anything remotely resembling true happiness and it made his skin absolutely crawl.

“I feel like a prisoner.” The words came unbidden, falling from his lips as though they waited on the tip of his tongue. Harry stared heavily at his feet, his hands laying in his lap.

Hermione seemed to relax a little, scrunching away from Harry abit to prop her leg up on the bed in a sort of half cross-legged position. Her other foot tapped lightly on the floor beneath them. “Harry-” She began and noticed that merely saying his name made him seem to shudder inwardly. “Keeping you here, hidden, it’s for your own good. For your safety.”

Before he could stop himself, Harry snorted and chuckled. “That’s what he said. He kept me hidden to keep me safe.”

There was another pause, one where Hermione was trying desperately not to explode. Harry could feel the buzz circulate around her. “That wasn’t safety.”

“Not at first.” It was a whisper, sadness dripping from it. Harry’s eyes slid from the floor to Hermione. “At first I was a prisoner.”

“Yes. With Draco.” It wasn’t a question. It was a statement, a fact, one that Hermione wanted to remind Harry of.

Harry stared at her for merely half a second before he hopped off of the bed. He let loose a frustrated sigh and ran a hand through his unruly mass of hair. “You don’t understand.”

Hermione remained where she was, watching Harry walk in circles around his room. He paced back and forth and zigged and zagged, mumbling about how to start what it was he really wanted to say. She could see the madness settling inside of him and sighed. “Harry.” She spoke, standing, watching as he continued on, seemingly unable to notice that she’d said his name.

She took a few steps toward him. “Harry.” She spoke again, watching as Harry spoke more to himself then to the air around him. She cautiously reached out towards him, laying her hand on his forearm. Harry jumped at her touch but he was able to focus clearly on her now. She stood tall but he stood even taller, towering over her as a dark shadow would behind a building. “Harry, please.” She wasn’t sure what she was requesting. Maybe it was information, or maybe it purely because it broke her heart to watch her best friend, her brother, smash into a million crazy pieces.

Harry had calmed now, staring down at Hermione’s perplexed and hurting face. “I miss him Hermione. I miss him so much that my heart hurts. I can’t explain why I do just as I can’t explain beyond the science that we need oxygen to live. We just do and I just do.”  

Hermione couldn’t piece together this puzzle and it angered her. She hoped upon hope that eventually she’d see the old Harry under this guise of a stranger but every time she looked at him she saw someone else standing there, someone else speaking with Harry’s voice. It brought tears to her eyes and something caught in her throat. She tried to open her mouth to speak but nothing came out.

Harry slipped his arm out from under her hand and moved towards the door, opening it. “Either let me out or get out.” His words were harsh, no longer a whisper but a full bravado command. He watched as Hermione straightened her shoulders, her bottom lip quivering as tears began to silently fall down her face. She walked towards the door but stopped just short of the threshold.

She cleared her throat, her voice squeaking behind her words as she tried her hardest to hold back the dam of her emotions. “He killed your parents. He killed countless others. We cannot forget nor forgive, Harry. Remember that.”

Anger bubbled up from deep down inside, it flashed through Harry like lightning, from the tips of his toes to the tips of his hair.

He grabbed Hermione by the arm, squeezed until he heard her yelp in pain. Without saying a word he swung her out of the room, slamming the door behind him so hard the wooden walls, the wooden fixtures, hell even a bit of the high vaulted ceiling shook a little. Harry was filled with so much hate, hate towards Hermione, hate towards himself, hate towards Tom who although was out there on his own, was at least out there.

Harry growled in frustration, balling his hand into a tight fist. Suddenly and without warning, he reeled his arm back and thrust it full force against the wooden door. For a split second it flashed to that of a metal door, of a dark stone room with no tiny window. It flashed before his eyes as his knuckles collided against the hard surface.

The pain ripped through his arm, traveling at fast speeds from broken bones to his elbow to his shoulder joint, to his neck. He even felt the pain somewhat behind his ear and along his jaw and for a moment Harry thought he tasted electricity on his tongue.

He realized then that he’d done this before, in that dark cell in the oceanic tower. He’d been angry then too and in pain almost just as much as he was now. Before, he was too angry to notice too much, but now he just didn’t care. Harry fell over on to the floor, his hand shooting tiny painful spasms up his arm. Any tiny movement set it off so Harry resigned to laying flat on the floor, feeling pain yes but something else as well.

A fire burned in the pit of his stomach, turning the knots into tiny rolls of pleasure. It felt good to hurt, to lay on the floor and feel what felt like magic but wasn’t magic flow through him. It sent shivers down his spine and his toes began to curl. Soon the pain would dull and ebb annoyingly from his hand but for now he would revel in the firey feeling of anger.

Chapter Text

Harry assumed it was the early hours of the morning when he decided to pick himself up off the floor of his room. He’d done nothing but think of things that hurt, primarily his broken hand, and things he missed. He may have been angry at Tom, jealous even that he’d been able to flee, but soon the anger dissipated and Harry was only left with longing. He was the only person in the world, beyond Tom, who knew what truly happened the last night he saw the Dark Lord.

Harry hoped that meant Tom was safe.

His broken hand dangled at his side, already starting to bruise. He’d broken a bit of skin on his knuckles but not enough to bleed profusely. Before crawling into bed, Harry grabbed hold of his top sheet, wrapping a bit of it around his good hand. He pressed his knee into the excess sheet and jerked his hand backward. He heard it tear only a little so he rewound it around his hand again and tugged a second time.

The sheet came apart, the fabric ripping unevenly. Harry took it to wrap around his broken hand, taking careful measures not to distress it too much. The pain was still there but with his makeshift binding Harry was able to contain much of the pressure.

Feeling accomplished, Harry crawled into bed, pulling the torn sheet and woven blanket a top himself. He couldn’t bring himself to sleep just yet for he was running on adrenaline and not yet tired. Instead he continued to think of Tom and wondered if he was truly safe, if he was scared or not, if he was happy. If there was ever a way he could escape, Harry would try his damndest to find Tom, to make sure that what he saw was actual or if it was just a trick his mind played on him in the bright, bursting light.

Until then, until Harry could try to be successful, he’d quit trying to turn everyone against him. Initially he thought he could toughen it out, pretend to be a hollowed out form of himself to gain sympathy, but he knew he couldn’t fake it forever. No, he would just be himself, unafraid and unapologetic to the people who he once called family.

He’d used people before, he could do it again.


 

Harry’s stomach grumbled loudly for the third time. It bordered on painful cramping so he decided he should get out of bed and grab something to eat.

He wasn’t sure what time it actually was but upon opening his door he saw no food sitting for him. Either it wasn’t breakfast time or they were extremely cross enough to stop bringing his food to him.

Sighing at this minor inconvenience, Harry shut the door behind him as he stepped out into the hall. He immediately regretted it only because he wasn’t exactly sure where the kitchen was and that meant he’d had to find someone to help him. That too proved a problem since he wasn’t sure where anyone actually was.

He passed by thick closed doors on either side of him. The hall turned this way and that, seemingly endless. He was too nervous to knock on any of the doors so he continued to walk down the hall, hoping he’d run into someone soon.

Harry had been walking for a straight five minutes before he finally exited the small hallway into a large, open room. It held a staircase and three more hallways branching off it. Sighing, Harry took a seat on the stairway, trying to decide which hallway he was going to take. Everything looked the same to him, dark brown wood, polished and shiny all around him. All the doors held the same intricate designs and the walls lay almost barren, give or take a few portraits or landscaped artwork, and all along the floor and stairs lay an olive green rug.

To his luck, Harry heard footsteps approaching from the left hallway. He waited, a bit nervous as to who was walking towards him, but relieved nonetheless that he’d found someone who could help him out.

Grey eyes met gold in an instant and Harry suddenly sighed.

“I’m sorry,” Draco snarked, walking anxiously into the larger room. “Have I interrupted you being lost?”

Standing, Harry rose a brow. “Who said I was lost?”

Draco scoffed and rolled his eyes. “It’s not hard to hear someone slinking about the hallways here. Where exactly are you trying to get to?”

As if on cue, Harry’s stomach grumbled loudly enough for Draco to hear all the way across the room. “...The kitchen.” Harry answered and without thinking, brought his bound hand up to lay lightly on his stomach, as if that would make the pit growing inside go away.

Draco noticed Harry’s hand right away. He took a few steps forward, reaching out in a moment of forgetfulness and grasped Harry’s wrist, tugging on the hand slightly. Harry hissed and winced as a small amount of pain flashed through him like lightning.

“What happened to your hand, Harry?” Draco asked, turning it this way and that, trying to be as gentle as he could. A bruise had started to form underneath the binding, oozing out to the visible parts of skin.

“I broke it.”

“I can see that.” Looking up to catch Harry’s gaze again, Draco’s own face was showing mostly concern and maybe a little bit of sass beneath it. He waited patiently for Harry to continue speaking.

When Harry couldn’t take the staredown, he looked away and retracted his hand. “I got angry.”

“Harry.” Draco’s voice was stern, his patience beginning to wane.

Sighing, Harry ran his good hand through his messy hair. “I was angry so I punched the door. It’s not a big deal, I’ve broken it before. Well, that time I was allowed to fix it with magic.”

“I can fix it for you.”

“Don’t.”

Draco looked incredulously at Harry. “Wh-”

“I don’t need you to fix me Draco. Not my hand, not me. Just leave it alone.”

For a moment, Draco forgot how to speak but in an instant nothing but words flooded his brain. Some were questions, accusations, some vulgar; they spiraled around wanting to get out. “I’m not trying to fix you Harry, why do you think everyone is against you?”

“It’s simple.” Harry began, moving around Draco. “I want to leave and no one will let me. ‘Let me’, can you believe it?”

“It’s for your protection.”

“No. Don’t do that. Don’t tell me it's for my benefit that I have to be confined here, given limitations, given chains for my magic. Don’t tell me that you are doing this for me and then blaming him for doing the same thing.”

“What he did-”

“What he did was necessary.”

If Draco could stare at Harry like he were an alien any harder he would have. “Do you think it was necessary to torture me?” His voice felt small but only because he had a hard time getting it out. “Do you think it was necessary to keep me, keep us locked away for all that time with no word, no news if anyone we cared about were alive or dead?” His voice began to waver. “Do you-”

“We shared a cell, Draco, that was all. I did what was necessary and got you out. In the end I sacrificed myself yet again. How is it that everyone has forgotten that?”

Anger flooded Draco then. He took a step towards Harry. “You made a decision, a selfish decision and let me rot out here wondering if you were okay, if you were even still alive! The only way I knew anything at all was when rumors surfaced that Voldemort had stopped pretty much delegating any sort of order amongst his ranks. He’d left them to run the world while he stayed behind to play with you.”

“I am done trying to explain myself to you, or the others. I am not the same person.”

Draco let loose a loud sardonic laugh. “Oh please, you are still exactly the same, Harry James Potter. You and your stubbornness, your impossible duty to be loyal, your eagerness to jump first into the fire. The only thing that’s changed about you is that you’re doing it on the wrong side.”

Throwing his hands up, Harry let loose a loud guttural frustrated sigh. “This is stupid! I am trying to be calm, trying to take this, this punishment with pride and you keep rearing your stupid head and ruining it and I-” He sighed, a little of the flame leaving him with it. “I can’t be me when you’re around. I can’t try to be me when you are around.”

“Don’t you think that means something?”

“It means nothing, Draco. Nothing at all.”

“How can you say that?” Draco took another step towards Harry, close enough that there wasn’t much distance between them.

Harry quieted down, watching Draco watch him. He could feel the quiet anger ebbing off Draco’s body. “We shared a cell, Draco. We were nothing but bunk mates, that’s it. Prisoners of war.”

Harry could feel the wind from Draco’s hand before it collided with his face. It made a noise, a sickening crack in the silence of the hall. Heat rushed to Harry’s cheek and for a moment he was caught off guard at the shaking form before him.

Draco’s face flushed, rage running throughout his body. “Don’t you dare presume to tell me what we were in that horrible place. You are riding a very defining line, Potter. If you are not careful, you will end up alone.”

A small scoff escaped Harry then as he righted himself, bringing his good hand to feel his face. “Is that a threat?”

“It’s a warning. If we let you go, we will all disappear.”

It seemed that Draco was making a point, one that he hoped Harry had taken to heart. When the silence between them hung for too long, Harry sighed.

“Just show me to the kitchen, Draco. Please.”


 

Food didn’t seem to have a taste anymore. The food Harry’s stomach so desperately wanted to consume sat looking bland and boring. When Harry tried to take a bite, he felt it roll around his mouth with no taste. Soon enough Harry just sat at the table, pushing his food around with a fork, his mind a million miles away.

He was so busy into a memory of the wooded cabin that he didn’t hear the door to the kitchen open, nor feel the breeze of a person walking behind him. He wasn’t even aware that anyone else but him and Draco were in the room until someone else cleared their throat.

Harry looked up and saw Molly standing near a counter, her hands held neatly in front of her. She had a small smile on her face, one she carried from looking at Draco to Harry. “I’m glad you’ve left your room Harry.” She spoke softly, awkwardly. “I had hoped to stop bringing you your meals at some point. I think the others will be delighted to eat with you.”

How could he tell her that this meeting was not olive branch, that he was there simply because he hadn’t been provided a meal at his door? Harry pushed the thoughts away and smiled meekly back at her. He sat a little straighter and placed his fork down next to his place. “Thank you Mrs. Weasley. I appreciate the kind gesture.”

Something seemed to ease within Molly Weasley, if only by a bit. She didn’t rush to gather Harry up into her arms as she had in the past, but she didn’t shy away from walking over and placing a gentle hand on his shoulder. She garnered a soft squeeze before noticing Harry’s wrapped hand. “What’s happened?” She asked, resisting the urge to mother the boy she’d grown to love as much as her own children.

Harry slipped his hand beneath the table and shook his head. “It’s nothing, a simple accident is all. It’ll heal soon.” For a split second Harry’s eyes slid to the side to catch a glimpse of Draco watching him before he fixated his gaze downwards. He could feel both of them watching him intently, causing his cheeks to flush.

Looking back up towards Molly, Harry placed his good hand on Molly’s and smiled. “Thank you for your concern Mrs. Weasley.”

Scoffing and pulling away to make her way across the room towards a counter, Molly smiled. “Nonsense my dear boy.” She spoke a little more loudly, with a little more confidence, this time. She rummaged around the cabinets for foodstuffs and cookware. “Now, how about I make you a proper meal? Hm?”

Harry looked down at what looked to be rotted food on his plate. His shoulders sagged a little at the horrid site and wondered if he’d ever be hungry again. He looked to Draco again and noticed the other’s eyes still watching him unblinkingly. “Yes, thank you, that would be great.” Harry spoke softly opposite the hard gaze he gave to Draco. His smile was just a little too wide but Molly would never see it, busy with something to do for Harry. “Thank you Mrs. Weasley, for your hospitality.”

Draco squirmed beneath Harry’s gaze but stared back just as firmly, anxiety swirling behind grey eyes.

Harry and Molly sat for a while there in that small kitchen. She went on and on about all that had happened since Harry left for the forest to die. Soon he practically knew everything right up until the point where they’d finally located him.


 

“Once we knew where he had kept you we were sitting ducks. We weren’t sure how to get into that tower, it was surrounded by so much water.” If Molly was speaking quickly, it was only because she was nervous that she had said too much. When she had started speaking she didn’t think much of it, just catching Harry up on things but once she’d reached this part, her words began to curl up on her, her tongue began to dry out and her lips formed more permanent lines. She watched as Harry looked from her to Draco, who had taken up in a chair against a nearby wall, his feet propped up on a small table near him, and then back to her again.

“I think he was using a private floo network.” Harry spoke, his voice dry from non-use all the while he was listening. “I don’t think he could apparate with the wards up.”

Molly nodded. “Yes, Peters used that private network too. He had another secret one to get back to us.”

“Molly.” Draco started, shifting in his seat. Harry looked his way but Draco was busy looking solely at Molly.

“What could it hurt Draco?” Harry asked. “I’m being honest with you, be honest with me. Who am I going to tell?”

Draco caught the slightest of smirks on the corner of Harry’s mouth as Molly looked away. It was gone once she turned back. “You don’t exactly have a reason for us to trust you either. Things are better left unsaid.”

The door to the hall outside opened, heavy and loud. Ron and Hermione walked through it, stopping short at the site of the three occupants. “Mom.” Ron spoke, his voice flat as he looked to Harry. “What are you doing?”

Hermione stepped out around him and came to sit on the opposite side of the table. “Honestly Ron, it looks like they’re talking.” She smiled a little towards Molly’s way but when her eyes caught Harry’s she looked away and back to Ron. “The kitchen is open to everyone here, please sit.”

Molly stood then, walking to a counter that held a small plate of food. She brought it back and gestured for Ron to sit. She resumed her seat next to Harry and watched as Ron rounded the table and took his seat next to Hermione. “We were just catching up on things.” Molly spoke, smiling awkwardly from person to person.

Draco cleared his throat from his position by the nearby wall. “Yes, I was just informing Molly that its best to not talk too much though.”

Harry looked to everyone, unable to stop a small, quiet snort from escaping. When all eyes were on him, he straightened a bit. “I’m an open book.”

“Are you now.” Ron spoke, his jaw set hard. “Go on then, tell us everything.”

Harry’s eyebrows rose a little. “Are you sure you want to hear it?”

“I’d like to know how this transformation happened. Did you will fully change your appearance or does stress really take its toll on you?”

The air between the two was strained.

Molly looked between Harry and Ron, wondering if they’d ever consider each other brothers or even friends once again.

Harry sat still, staring at Ron a little longer then he should before he smiled and scoffed a tiny laugh. “Stress. Yes I experienced that daily, even more so in the beginning. You remember, right Draco?” He asked, leaning slightly to his left to peek at Draco still sitting by the wall. When Draco didn’t answer, Harry cleared his throat and smiled again.  

“The first few weeks were rough.”

Draco snorted behind them all.

Harry waited and watched and began again.  “The first few weeks were horrible. Draco and I had been locked in a cell-“

Ron put his hand up, halting Harry. “We’ve already heard this part. What happened after he let Draco go?”

Harry looked at Draco again, this time not breaking his gaze to continue.

As if on silent cue, Draco stood from his chair and joined the others at the table. Molly removed herself to allow more room and stood nearby a countertop to listen.

“I was given a room within the tower, free reign when-“ Harry had to stop himself from saying Tom. They knew too much already, were going to know a ton more, but that belonged to him and him alone. “Voldemort was not there. For a while it was a reprieve, but then I found a guest earlier then I should have and he’d returned.”

Hermione cleared her throat. “We had heard that Umbridge had gone missing. No one on their side would say much but rumors spread that she’d been taken.”

Nodding, Harry continued. “Yes, she was the first presented to me.”

“Presented to you?” Ron chimed in.

“Yes. She was the first and not the last.”

The silence was heavy around the table. Molly shifted uncomfortably near the counter top, anxious like all the rest to hear Harry continue.

“No one had seen her since Harry. What happened to Umbridge?”

Harry knew there was no going back now. He wanted to keep as much to himself as he could but being there among them all at the table was making him feel different, he felt like he had to get this off his chest. The worlds swirled themselves around in his stomach, a familiar feeling of stone sinking to the bottom. He’d felt anxiety among them before but now he could feel like he did back in the stone tower, nervous and worried and a bundle of explainable emotions ready to burst.

Harry’s smile slowly fell and instead of enjoying himself, enjoying the looks of small horror on their faces, he instead felt resigned to continue. He suddenly felt like he didn’t want them to be disappointed in him.

Harry felt like he wanted to cry.

Opening his mouth to speak and failing, he cleared his throat and tried again. “It all happened so fast really, I-” His fingers started to feel cold, his broken hand buzzing. “I tried to leave but she kept talking and suddenly I had something in my hand.” When no one else spoke Harry continued, his heart hammering so loudly he thought everyone could hear. “She gave me this look, like how could I have done this to her. How could someone do this to her, her!” His voice started to rise in volume. “It didn’t matter that she just couldn’t shut up. I-” Harry’s voice broke and for the first time since he’d been talking and without realizing it, he looked up to see everyone looking at him with such mixed emotions.

Hermione looked worried beyond belief. Ron still looked angry, but Harry could see the old concern sitting behind it. Draco was just silent, his face stoic and still and to the untrained eye a little bored. Harry knew better though and suddenly he didn’t want to be in this room anymore, with these people who were not his people. No, they had once been but now they were the enemy, keeping him locked up, trying to gain information out of him.

Harry’s breathing quickened and he hopped up from the table. “I’m sorry.” He whispered, trying to back away from the table.

The others followed suit and stood as well. While Ron didn’t know what to do or say, Hermione slowly rounded the table towards Harry. Anything that had happened between them earlier was in the past. “Harry, it’s okay. Really, we’re here to listen.”

“Stop.” Harry spoke, his voice wavering. “This isn’t - I can’t -” Hermione kept coming closer to him and Harry could only backup so far. “Don’t Hermione, I can’t do this. I thought I could but I can’t relive the things I’ve done.”

“You have to Harry, you have to so that you can forgive yourself. It wasn’t you who did those things, it was him. Voldemort trapped you there, warped your mind. He doesn’t care about your Harry.”

Harry stared at her then, his demeanor shifting ever so slightly. Hermione noticed it though and backed away. Harry let the silence in the room linger a little longer than he should have. He waited until they all seemed uncomfortable. “I was stupid to think I could trust you, any of you.” He said, looking from Hermione to Ron and then to Draco. “All you want to do is poison me and tell me that you care and then turn around and tell me that I have no responsibility for the things I’ve done. How can you ask me to forgive myself when not too long ago you told me that you never forget and could never forgive.”

Hermione stepped up. “That was about Voldemort, Harry. I said those things about him because he is a monster.”

“If he is a monster then I am one as well. Don’t you get it? Don’t you understand why they never saw Umbridge again after she’d been abducted? It’s because I killed her!” Harry yelled, his voice cracking as a tiny chuckle escaped him. “I drove that dagger into her chest because she wouldn’t shut up! I made sure she’d never hurt anyone else again! I did that for you! For all of you! I did that so that YOU wouldn’t have to suffer! Again!”

If Harry had gotten any louder surely the walls would shake and the ceiling would groan but even though his breathing was labored and he was angry, so angry he could tear out his hair, he quieted down and watched as their faces changed from pity to horror.

“How many more did you kill?” Draco’s voice was small but firm. He drew himself up, tall and all shoulders, his face a mixture of emotion behind the straight facade. “How many?” He asked again.

Harry looked down at his feet and sighed, suddenly very tired. “Only two. After Umbridge it was only two.”

“Who?”

“Bellatrix, and Peters.”

Molly, who’d been in the back of the room holding her hands to keep them from shaking, marched between Ron and Hermione right on up to Harry. She was angry, so angry she could have burst with a mighty roar, but instead she pursed her lips and moved around Harry to exit the room.

Hermione and Ron and Draco stayed put. Harry wished they would have stomped off, would have left him alone but no, they stayed right where they were. Annoyed and ashamed, Harry looked up at them.

“Why did you do this Harry?” Ron asked.

“I had a plan.”

Chapter Text

Harry would have liked to have been left alone after his little outburst, he would have liked to be able to leave the room and run back to his torn sheets and not so comfy mattress. Harry would have liked to shut up because the things he were to speak of were things no one should hear, but no.

Draco, who had managed to snake around Ron and Hermione, finding himself close to Harry. He shivered at the cold words coming from the other but instead of leaving, which everyone in the room had wanted to do, he instead gently took hold of Harry’s good arm and lightly tugged him back towards the table.

“Everyone, sit, please.” Draco said, his eyes flicking from Ron to Hermione as he and Harry took a seat next to each other at the table. When the other two finally followed suit, Draco turned to Harry and sighed. “Tell us everything.”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“You wouldn’t like me if I told you everything.”

“We already don’t like you.” 

“Ron.” Hermione chided, brows knit in frustration. “Harry, that’s not true. If we are going to be honest, then-” She paused, unsure of what to say and how to say it. “We are just scared. We’re scared because we don’t know how to be around you now. We want to believe that you will get better but, in all honesty, we feel like your slipping away.”

Ron cleared his throat and shifted awkwardly in his seat. Sometimes he didn’t like it when Hermione spoke for him but he knew that it was easier for her to find the words then him. “You’re a right git, you know?” He asked Harry. “Yeah, I’m scared, but I’m also angry. We spent months looking for you, close to a year, and when we finally do you’re-” He gestured towards Harry in general. “This.” Hermione made a move to interject but Ron spoke up faster. “You’re different, we all know it, we all expected something different then the Harry we left back at Hogwarts. We, I, just didn’t know the extent.”

Harry squirmed under Ron’s gaze now, anxiety crashing against him in waves. He felt his body want to twitch and spring upwards. He wanted to pace the room, hell, leave the room, but he stayed because this was the most Ron had spoken to him since he arrived.

“When Draco came to us and told us you were being held in a prison, we assumed we’d find you in one but that cabin-” Ron shook his head, something catching in his throat. “We saw the blood in the living room and Peters’ body, we saw the one bedroom, and the one bed, and the one washroom and the disheveled sheets-” 

“Stop.” Harry spoke up. His voice had broken, hauling Ron from speaking further. “Please, please stop.” He was suddenly so exhausted, exhausted and ashamed and utterly anxious to leave the room. He remembered feeling so vulnerable to them once before and not caring because they too felt the same. Now he only felt weak. “I can’t, not that, please.”

Hermione cleared her throat. “We don’t have to talk about that, Harry but please, we need to know what happened to you since Draco was let go? We have to try and understand if we are ever going to be able to make you better.”

Better.

The word hung in the air between them all. It made Harry twitch and scooch away from Draco as far as he could without falling out of his seat. He brought his broken hand to lay on the table between them all, forgetting about any pain. This embarrassment was already taking up too much space. 

He could tell them some things, not everything. No, some things were still his, some secrets were still meant to be kept.

Harry sighed, letting loose a shaky breath. “I found her by accident, Umbridge. I was trying to find food and I stumbled across the room she was held in. Voldemort told me she was a surprise, a present for me. I think I was forcing myself to be oblivious. I was still surprised the next day when he brought me to her.” Harry paused, keeping his eyes locked on his broken hand, his mind suddenly miles away in a tower surrounded by water. 

“She looked so small tied up in that chair.” His voice faded and for a moment Harry forgot to speak. When no one said anything he continued. “I didn’t want to do anything. I was so angry, angry that Voldemort was talking about insane things. Things that were logical at the same time. She was the enemy. She had done so many horrible things, things I couldn’t just forgive her for. I wanted to leave, I- but he let Umbridge speak. She had that same trembling, meek voice that made my skin crawl.” 

Harry bit his lip and sighed again. He already bursted moments ago with the story of what happened to Umbridge but he was calm now. Heat flushed his cheeks but his hands didn’t shake, nor did his voice.

“She couldn’t just beg for her life, she had to rub it in that I was wrong and that you guys were a bad influence and I just couldn’t take it anymore. The knife appeared in my hand and I felt Voldemort behind me. At first I thought he was controlling me, pushing me towards her, holding the knife and my hand together, but he wasn’t really there. In the end she was quiet, as if she had fallen asleep in the chair.”

The silence around them was deafening but Harry pushed on. “I freaked out and I tried to get away but Voldemort threw me to the ground, yelled at me. I thought he was going to punish me but instead he-” Harry stopped suddenly. If he continued onward he would let slip the one thing he hadn’t wanted Ron and Hermione and Draco to know.

Harry shook his head. “He just threw me in my room and said I could have free reign of the tower from then on.”

He felt for a moment, that the ending seemed rushed, too unbelievable. But no one made a move to comment on it. Instead, Harry looked up to see everyone staring back at him. Hermione cleared her throat, emotion stuck in her voice. “Keep going.” 

Time had seemed to pass without any sense as Harry continued to tell them everything. It could have been ten minutes or three hours but by the time Harry had reached Peters’ death, his voice was scratchy and his throat raw. His knee began to nervously bounce beneath the table and goosebumps had begun to rise on is skin. 

Harry wasn't sure how long he’d been staring at the table again. He’d found a distracting void, his eyes not quite staring at the table. He was too nervous to look up but the silence was too much to bear.

Anger. Sadness. Pity.

Draco, Hermione and Ron showed all of these emotions on their faces, in the way they slumped their shoulders, in the way Draco looked utterly defeated. Somewhere inside Harry’s heart was breaking.

He opened his mouth to speak again but he stumbled to find the words. He took a deep breath and tried to steady himself.

“Voldemort was a bad man. He killed ruthlessly and commanded an army to destroy the world.”

Harry could see Hermione perk up, could see from the corner of his eye that her shoulders shook and her posture straightened. He watched as she turned and laid a hand on Harry’s. “Yes, Harry. Yes he is a bad man and did so many wrong things. He-”

“Wait.” It came out almost as a whisper but Harry shifted in his seat. “He may have had the wrong views about everyone. I’ve always believed that everyone should have a chance to be a witch or wizard or whatever they’d like, and to live equally amongst us all and muggles.”

They were all watching him now so intently, so interested in what he was going to say next. He liked that they were attentive, that they were giving him a chance to speak. 

“Beyond that, he was right about so many things. So many things about me, about him. It all made so much sense.”

“Harry, he brainwashed you, he told you what you wanted to hear, he made you do things you shouldn’t have had to do.” Hermione sounded panicked now, her words spilling from her mouth before she could stop herself.

Harry shot up from the table, ripping his hand away from Hermione’s touch. “Why shouldn’t I have done what I did?” He swung his legs away from the bench and started pacing the room as a pit formed in the bottom of his stomach. “I was given the chance to set things right, to get the revenge Bellatrix and Umbridge deserved!” 

As all the rest stood, Ron rounded the table, getting closer to Harry. “What about Peters? Did he deserve to have his throat slit?”

Harry stopped momentarily to stare at Ron. It seemed as if Harry were trying to find the right words to say. Underneath the eerie glow of the kitchen lights, Harry’s golden eyes glowed behind graying skin and dark circles. Harry had seemingly changed before their eyes from someone too nervous to speak to one who was a little bent sideways. 

“Peters was a coincidental accident.”

Ron and Hermione were at a loss for words. It seemed every day that Harry was slipping further and further away, as if he weren’t in the same room with them anymore.

Draco moved quietly around them towards Harry. His eyes narrowed in suspicion, as if something in his wheelhouse clicked into place. “You needed revenge. I get that, but why Peters?”

Harry sighed and ran his good hand through his hair. “I just told you.”

“Yes, you said coincidental. You needed him, or someone for something. What was it that you needed someone for?”

Suddenly Harry realized Draco was thinking too much. He backed away, trying his best to be as close to the door as possible. “It was - no nothing, I - he just showed up and I -” He couldn’t figure out what to say, how to say it or even how to hide his slip up with a gesture. “Voldemort just wanted me to kill.” 

Draco pressed onward, shortening the distance between them. “No he didn’t.”

“Draco-” Harry began.

“No. Voldemort doesn’t just kill anyone for nothing. If he’s going to murder, he has a reason for it. Even if it is a twisted and morally wrong one, he has to have a reason to kill someone.” 

Harry’s back hit the door and he grunted, his broken hand bumping into his own leg. 

“It’s been driving me mad, wondering why your have eyes changed, why you’ve become so unhinged. You’re losing your mind and while brainwashing can do that do a person, I don’t think that’s completely it.”

Hermione suddenly gasped in her spot next to Ron, who jumped at the sudden sound. Draco was too adamant to stare Harry down to turn around but he knew, he knew that Hermione had worked out the same thing at the same time that Draco had. Ron would eventually find out and all hell would break loose but for now while Draco had Harry literally backed against a wall, he was going to get some answers.

“He needed him dead because he found out Peters was working for the other side, for you.” Anger and fear hit Harry like a ton of bricks. “You sent him into a dangerous situation and what did you expect?” He tried so hard to start a fight, to distract them, but Draco was having none of it. 

“All I’ve heard is that you killed two people because someone told you it was okay, for your reasons of revenge, not Voldemort’s. Peters was nothing to you. He was just a grunt doing his job.” Draco paused, trying to catch every last ounce of shaky breath.“Harry, what did you-“

“No, stop!” Harry was ashamed, ashamed and prideful all at the same time. The emotions swirled around in his head until nothing made sense and all that was left was the anger. “I did everything that was asked of me! That’s all I’ve ever done! What has that gotten me until now?”

No one had said anything, Harry’s words ringing in the silence. Draco was stalling, trying anything to not say what he knew he should. Hermione was standing utterly shocked into silence. But Ron. Ron had stepped forward.

He was calm, too calm for any of this, but he walked towards Draco, then to Harry. “We fought for freedom, we all fought against evil so that no one would have to go through what we did with Voldemort. We fought for you, Harry. We fought so that you could live, because you deserved to live.”

Tears had begun to fall on Harry’s face, on Hermione’s. The high energy in the room had deflated to a dull roar, an echo of heartbreak reverberating along the walls. 

“I used to believe I was no different than any other person.” Harry began. His voice was rough from yelling. “All I wanted was to be able to make my own decisions, to live the way I wanted. Before meeting you all I was less than nothing, less than every other person. I wanted freedom and choice and friends. Making that deal with Voldemort didn’t mean you all meant less to me. It only meant that I was willing to save you all again. I just want to save people,” Harry paused, watching as the others watched him in return. “But sometimes I wanted to hurt them, because bad people deserve to feel like less than nothing.”

“What does Voldemort feel like to you? Truly? Without the insanity.” Ron was careful, he was sound and quiet and patient. Draco stood behind him, shocked and a little proud of the redhead. 

Harry looked down to his broken hand, feeling the throbbing pain get just a little bit worse as time went on. “I thought hating him could be easier. I thought that by hating him, I was just and right and good. But I only hated him because-” Harry paused again, moments and memories running through his head. Memories of seeing his parents in the mirror of Erised. Moments he had with Sirius listening to his school day stories. “I hated him because he took everything away, but then he took away the hate and all that was left was love.”

He looked back towards the others, tears falling heavily down his face, at the shame, at the looks on their own faces. “I had a plan to save him. At first it was to weaken him so that I could get away. But things changed, I felt freer around him, around the tower and the cabin. You can call it brainwashing all you like, but everything started to make sense. If I had to kill a few to squash a larger threat, I could do that. I could shoulder the pain and I did.”

Everyone waited on baited breath, for they had all figured what Harry was going to say next and wondered if he would actually say the words.

Harry sighed, his breath shaky and his voice unstable. “Eventually, he took away parts of my soul and created a few horcruxes of my own.”

“Harry, Harry.” Hermione was shaking her head, furious and utterly sad. She crossed the room in two strides, rushing Harry. She grabbed what she could of his shirt and shook him, shook him hard enough to push him up against the door. “How could you? How could you do this?” Words came quicker than she could think but she didn’t care. She was just so angry with Harry. Her voice rose with each question until she was yelling so loud that Ron had to take action.

Harry felt like he couldn’t move on his own. His body had fallen weak and he let Hermione push him, let her shake him because he deserved it. He made no move to push her off, no, he just let her yell and push and grab until Ron pulled her away.

“Hermione it’s okay, shh it’s okay.” Ron said, trying to calm Hermione down as he pulled her away to the farthest corner of the room. Eventually she stopped yelling and talking altogether, wracked by sobs that echoed along the walls of the small room.

Draco couldn’t seem to find the words to say. He hated Harry then, probably the first time in his life he held genuine hatred towards him instead of misplaced jealousy. He had grown to like him once but now all he felt was sorrow, pity and anger. 

“I’m sorry.” Harry whispered.

“Don’t.” Ron’s voice as hard. Hard and full of heartbreak. He gently left Hermione and walked back to Harry. “Don’t you say that. Don’t you say that you’re sorry when you’re not.”

“But-”

“Shut up!” He yelled, cracking his fist against Harry’s jaw. It was hard enough to split skin. “Don’t you understand? There’s only one way this has to end, you stupid git.” Ron was shaking with rage but he held his hands back from anymore pummeling. “We can’t save you now.” 

Harry wiped at his face, smearing blood across his chin. “Yes you can,” he started, eyes stained red from crying, face flushed and jaw already starting to swell. “You can let me go.” His knees gave out and he slid to the floor.

“No.” Draco placed a hand on Ron’s shoulder, quietly moving between the two. He knelt down to Harry. “No. We worked too hard and lost too much.”

Ron sighed from behind them. “It’s over Draco. Even if we find his horcruxes he can’t ever get those parts of his soul back. He’ll only get worse. Hermione wait-”

Hermione had joined Draco and Harry down on the floor. She had stopped crying but tears still brimmed along her reddened lids. “Why couldn’t you just believe in us Harry?”

For a moment, Harry was lost in their faces, eyes darting from Hermione to Draco. “I did all of this to protect you.”

“Maybe, maybe in the beginning. But we did so much to protect you too. Even now. Even though we are all so angry with you, we-” She brought her hand up to take Ron’s and pull him downward. At first he fought against it but when Hermione tugged again he knelt down next to her. “We are all still here with you.”

Harry wasn’t sure how many more tears he had left in his body but they continued to fall down his face as he looked at all three of them. No matter how hard he had tried to push them away, they kept him close, stayed nearby and continued to try. His body started to feel so heavy and his eyes began to droop. The tips of his fingers began to tingle and his lips felt fuzzy.

“Harry?”


He felt a tug and darkness overtook him as he fell over, all consciousness leaving him. 

It was a dream, nothing more, but it felt as real as if Harry were actually standing on the beach. He could feel the sand between his toes and the ocean spray hit his face. A small breeze tossed his messy hair about in no one particular direction.

It was peaceful here.

Harry moved along the shore, listening to the waves crash against each other. He wasn’t sure why he was dreaming of being here on this beach but he welcomed it all the same.

It wasn’t a windowless room with people that made his skin crawl.

No, here he felt as if he could breathe better.

He moved to sit along the shoreline but before he could hit solid ground he was suddenly falling through the air. He felt the wind spin him this way and that, knocking any breath from his lungs.

He’d landed in a field, in a rough patch of brittle grass and weeds and felt each scratch as he tumbled.

This place was quiet but it wasn’t calm. The grass and trees that surrounded him buzzed with an eerie hum and Harry was suddenly cold.

He thought at first he had been clothed but now he lay naked in the dropping temperature, goosebumps rising on his shivering skin.

He didn’t much like this place, the trees crowding in on him, reminding him of the ever present suffocation of people.

Harry remembered what it felt like being with Tom. There was no throng of people, no crowds of fans or people looking to him to save the day. No, with Tom he had been alone in a welcoming solitude.

A feeling he remembered having once upon a time with Ron and Hermione.

A sudden onslaught of emotion hit Harry like a wave. His throat felt as if it were on fire, words and cries waiting to explode from deep down inside. He could feel the tears begin to water his eyes, could see a blurry field of dry grass.

Again Harry asked himself, who was he if not something to someone? He felt as if his entire identity could only be tethered to another person. Who could he be if he were by himself? Would he be good or evil? Would he go crazy or plateau at mediocrity?

What kind of someone did he want to be to others? To Ron and Hermione? To Tom? Could he be himself or a version, a mask or a good lie?

The buzz surrounding Harry increased in volume, trying its best to drown out the noise within Harry’s own head.

He sat up, shivering as an icy cold chill dripped down his spine, and grabbed his head and lay it in his hands.

“I am alone.” His voice sounded foreign, strained and frustrated.

“You don’t have to be.”

Harry looked up, intrigued by the sudden melodious voice and stopped cold at the sight of the other person.

“Mother.”