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And in the Darkness

Chapter Text

 

“Harry,” Healer Victor Owen sighed as he smoothed out a sheet of parchment stamped with the official ministry seal. He sat behind his large desk, lips slightly downturned and a wrinkle furrowing his brow. A few white patches were beginning to grow amongst the dark brown hair upon his head, but his face looked incredibly youthful, for all that he was pushing seventy.

Harry sat and clenched his hands together, a nervous flutter in his stomach at the tone of his mind healer. The man was always so patient with Harry. To hear him sound so disappointed was… painful.

“We have talked many times about the dangers of mixing dreams with reality.”

Harry nodded hesitantly.

Victor picked up the letter and handed it to him. “I received this today. Harry, I thought we were making progress. You told me that you wanted to get better.”

Harry swallowed heavily and took the letter with a sinking feeling. The ministry seal gleamed a stark, foreboding black above the words that would damn him. His hands trembled a little as he read, his face paling as the words sank in.

“Th—they can’t do this,” he stammered, knuckles white as he clenched the paper. “This isn’t fair.”

“They can,” Victor said, his dark eyes set in a frown. “In fact, they already have. It was approved this morning. I was lucky to be in the ministry myself otherwise it would have been even worse.”

“Worse?” Harry asked, his voice going high. “What’s worse than house arrest and constant surveillance? I’m — just a glorified prisoner!” He rubbed his face, holding back a sob. 

“It could be worse,” Victor said sharply. “The Malfoys, ever seeking the minister’s favour, volunteered their home for the duration of this… watch period,” his lip curled slightly and Harry froze, horrified. Dread settled in his stomach. Merlin and Morgana, if he had to live with Draco Malfoy — 

“But,” Victor continued, “I managed to step in in time.”

Harry sagged in relief, closing his eyes for a moment before the implications registered in his mind. He looked up at Victor feeling both guilty and hopeful. The man had done so much for him already, and yet he couldn’t help but wish… “Did you — “

Victor nodded, watching Harry carefully, as if worried about his reaction. “You will be staying with me instead. I am aware that it is not an ideal situation — that you have already had your freedom greatly restricted. This will feel incredibly invasive in your life, but I hope that we will be able to work together to make this a livable solution for you.”

Harry bowed his head. He should be furious about the situation right now. Should be storming to the ministry and demanding that they retract his sentence. But all he could feel was guilty happiness that he would be spending so much time with Victor. “Thank you,” he said, his voice a little choked. 

His mind healer sighed and leaned back in his chair. “Of course I do still need to know why you felt the need to bring up Voldemort, of all people, at an interview for a position as auror.”

Harry cringed at the disappointed look in Victor’s eyes, his hands wringing where they were resting upon Victor’s desk. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I — I just, old habits, I guess. They asked me about my history of mental instability, and I told them that the whole experience had just seemed so real. Too real to be a nightmare curse. I know it was just a dream, it’s just — it’s hard sometimes, still, to reconcile the fact that I survived the curse and C—Cedric didn’t…”

Victor stood and walked around his desk. He placed a warm, comforting hand on Harry’s shoulder and looked him in the eye. “I know, Harry. I apologize if I sounded accusatory. That was not my intent. I am aware that they overreacted to your comments, but you must also understand that you are navigating a complicated political situation, as well as risking social unrest with baseless declarations of Voldemort’s return.”

Harry nodded glumly. Things just always seemed to be so much more complicated than he realized. “I know,” he sighed, leaning into the warmth of Victor’s touch. “I’m trying, I really am. I just — I think I wish that I had never trusted Dumbledore so much. Because,” Harry’s mouth twisted bitterly, “it really hurts to know that he lied about so many things. And that I foolishly believed him. I think sometimes I feel like it would almost be easier if it were all true. I just — I feel like sometimes I’m going crazy, torn between lies and the truth and dreams and reality and — “ Harry tugged at his hair until Victor squeezed his arm, bringing him back to the present.

“This sentence is grossly unfair,” the mind healer said sympathetically. “But perhaps being under my constant care will be a good opportunity to make some big improvements. A silver lining, one might say.”

“Yeah,” Harry said, still upset over the fact that the ministry continued to control his life, but somewhat relieved that it was Victor who was going to be in charge of him for the next little while. Or long while, depending. “Thanks,” he said, a small genuine smile relieving his lips of their frown. Because when he thought about it, there was no one else he’d trust enough to look out for him. No one he’d feel safer with. He blushed a little at the gentle look he received in return.

Victor was smiling, his deep brown eyes wrinkling slightly at the corners. “You are most welcome, Harry. Most welcome indeed.”

“Oh Harry, you didn’t think that this was over, did you?” Voldemort’s voice was cold and high, just as it had been in the graveyard. He leaned over Harry’s prone form, his eyes gleaming red, his skin pale, his features as snake-like as they had been all those years ago. “Sweet, naive child.” A long-fingered hand stroked his hair gently. Blood welled as Voldemort’s nails caught on his skin.

Harry wanted to tell him to stop, to leave him alone, for Merlin’s sake. But he couldn’t move, couldn’t open his mouth, couldn’t even blink. All he could do was watch as slowly Voldemort smiled, thin lips stretching upwards in a mockery of joy.

“Oh Harry, my Harry,” he crooned, his cold breath fanning across Harry’s cheeks as he leaned closer to whisper in his ear. “It is only just beginning.”

Harry woke up screaming.

He sat up, his breath coming in hiccupping pants as he whipped his head around, staring into the shadows with wide eyes. They stretched, snake-like and reaching up the walls and along the floor, fangs bared in a dark parody of a smile. 

No, no, no, no, it couldn’t be real. There was no way. 

There was a shuffling noise on the other side of the door that joined his room to the healer’s, and Harry jerked back with a whimper. The door swished opened moments later, a harried Victor hurrying over to his side.

“Harry? Is everything alright?” The mind healer waved his wand, the wards flickering in response, untouched, unbroken. Still frowning, the healer sat on the edge of Harry’s bed and slowly raised his hand to Harry’s chin, ignoring his flinch and turning his head to meet his gaze. “Harry?” He said again, watching concernedly as Harry’s eyes darted around the room still, barely able to keep still.

Harry’s heart stuttered in his chest. “He was here, in this room, right — right where you’re sitting. He was talking to me. He said — he said it’s not over. But it is over, right? It’s over, he’s gone, he’s not real, it’s just a dream — “ his voice caught, his eyes blurring with an edge of tears.

Concern clouded Victor’s face. “Yes, Harry, he’s gone.” The mind healer spoke slowly and carefully. “He’s been gone for over twenty years now. It was just a dream.” His thumb traced Harry’s cheek soothingly, the repetitive motion working to bring Harry back to reality. “You know that you’re more susceptible to nightmares now. A remnant of the curse. We have worked together on differentiating between dreams and reality. Focus, Harry. On me, on my touch. You’re safe here. You’re confused because it’s a new room, but you’re in my house. You’ve been here many times. You know it’s safe. You know that I would never let anything happen to you. Breathe, Harry. In, and out. That’s it.”

With deep, shuddering gasps, Harry began to calm, his eyes finally focused, staring desperately at Victor. “Safe,” he said, voice hoarse, “I’m safe. I’m here, with you, in your home. And you — won’t let anything happen to me.”

“That’s right, Harry,” Victor smiled. “Very good. You’re doing well, Harry. Just keep breathing. Remember where you are. Remember what the truth is.”

“The truth,” Harry nodded shakily. “I know the truth. Dumbledore lied. There is no Voldemort. He died when I was a baby. I’m safe, and I’ve always been safe.”

“Good,” Victor encouraged. “Good, Harry. Very good. You feel calmer now, don’t you? Keep talking, if you need. Talking helps you think rationally.”

“Yes,” Harry said, exhaling heavily. “Yes, I’m feeling better. Because it was just a dream. Just a curse. There was no ritual, no rebirth. No threat upon my life. It was all in my mind.”

Victor was stroking his arm soothingly with one hand, the other still cupping his cheek. The healer’s hands were warm and his face kind.

In the darkness of his room, lit only by a candle, Victor’s eyes looked faintly red, but Harry pushed the thought away. It was a remnant of his nightmare, he knew. It was not the first time he’d seen an image of Voldemort flicker to life upon Victor’s visage, and it wouldn’t be the last. His mind liked to play tricks on him, after all. It was something he had to learn to control.

“Victor…” Harry pressed into the man’s palm, his eyes fluttering as his heart calmed, his mind soothed by the man’s words and gentle touches. “I’m… okay now. I’m okay. I know I’m safe, because you’re here.” He sighed as exhaustion rushed upon him. “Thank you,” he murmured, allowing the healer to lower him back to his pillow. 

He should have felt more embarrassed — he was almost twenty-three, for Merlin’s sake! But still, he could not stop himself from reaching out as the man made to stand. “Will you…” he started as the healer paused, “will you stay until I fall asleep?” He asked. 

The mind healer smiled. “Of course,” he assured. “It is no problem. That’s why I’m here, Harry. To help you heal.”

“Thank you,” Harry repeated, his mind already drifting. “For keeping me safe.”

Victor’s smile widened, white teeth flashing. “Always,” he promised.

Breakfast was a quiet affair, as the both of them were too tired to make much conversation. The sound Harry’s banana made as he cracked open the skin and peeled it was almost obscenely loud, and he wondered if he should ask the house elves to deliver it to him peeled as Victor did. He hated the thought of disturbing the healer yet again.

“Have you thought about my proposal?” Victor asked later as he folded his newspaper and placed it next to his empty plate.

Harry fidgeted with his napkin. “I have,” he said. “It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just — “

Victor smiled understandingly. “I know. And I understand. Dark magic has been labelled as dangerous and foul here for so many years that most have forgotten how important it is to society.”

Harry dropped his eyes. “Yeah,” he said, a little halfheartedly.

“Honestly,” Victor sighed, “I despair for future generations of British witches and wizards. Hogwarts education is sorely lacking in this department. Durmstrang has been teaching the dark arts for hundreds of years. And you don’t see any of us being ‘corrupted’ or turning ‘evil’.”

Harry flushed. He hadn’t meant to imply such a thing. It was just that — well, Dumbledore had always said — 

No.

No, he reminded himself. He couldn’t think about Dumbledore and what the man had said. Because the old headmaster had lied to Harry. Had lied to everyone. Only Victor had allowed Harry to see the truth. And Victor never lied to Harry.

“What about Grindelwald?” He asked a little curiously. “Didn’t he attend Durmstrang?”

“Yes,” Victor frowned in mild disgust. “And he was kicked out the moment he revealed his intentions with his dark magic. Durmstrang does not tolerate the abuse of magic.”

“Right,” Harry said. 

“Miss Granger published a paper recently on dark magic. Did you read it?” Victor folded his hands and peered at Harry.

At the mention of his once-friend, Harry dropped his eyes. It still hurt, the way they had turned their backs on him — Hermione, Ron, Ginny… he had trusted them. Needed them. And yet they had stared at him with pale faces and wide eyes as they had told him that perhaps… perhaps it was best if they were no longer friends…

Still, Harry couldn’t help but care, keeping tabs on them in whatever way he could. Ron worked at his brothers’ joke shop. Ginny was a professional quidditch player. And Hermione worked for the ministry, researching magic.Harry was proud of them, despite the hurt he still felt. They had been his first friends, after all. Especially Ron and Hermione.

So, of course he had read the essay. He had scoured it, savouring the familiar tone that accompanied all of Hermione’s writing. Her words had matured, but her tone remained the same — strong, knowledgeable, thoughtful.

“I did read it,” he admitted. “And it all makes sense. Balance is — well, it’s crucial to life. I know that. I just have such a hard time adjusting to the idea of practicing the magic that — that killed my parents… that should have killed me…”

Victor’s hand was warm and dry where it came to rest upon Harry’s arm. “I know. It’s a big step. It’s normal to feel nervous about this. Normal to be scared. But you can’t let your fear control you.” He studied Harry for a moment. “How about this. You let me guide you through a few basic spells. Try them, just once, and see how you feel. If you are truly uncomfortable afterwards, I will not push the matter. But I think you are ready. I know you can do this, Harry. You’re strong. Unbelievably so.”

Harry could do nothing but nod under the earnest gaze of his mind healer. And he could not help but flush, pleasantly warm when the healer’s handsome face broke out in a smile, proud and approving. 

Feeling better about his decision, he followed the healer to the duelling room. It was set up with wooden targets at the far end, humanoid in shape.

“Now,” Victor paced to the middle of the room and drew his wand. “First, a demonstration.”

Harry watched with only mild trepidation as Victor twisted his wrist and then flicked his wand upwards almost casually. 

Dissilio,” he said, his voice oddly casual for such magic. A dark yellow light flew from the tip and burst against the targets, sending pieces flying in all directions. And from the healer came a rush of magic, deep and powerful, all-encompassing as it flared, eagerly obeying the wizard’s command. 

It rushed across Harry’s skin, hot and potent, and he shivered, frissons traveling up his arms and down his spine. He swallowed heavily and forced himself to focus on the targets. They had been obliterated, leaving barely anything larger than a splinter behind. 

“It’s a step up from bombarda maxima. It hits harder, and targets a larger area.” The mind healer’s face was solemn as he turned back to look at Harry. “In defence of your life, or the lives of your loved ones, you cannot hesitate to use even the more dangerous spells. It might seem like overkill, but in a duel, it could easily mean the difference between victory and defeat.”

Harry nodded slowly. He’d read about the importance of learning dark magic for defensive purposes in Hermione’s essay. They were more difficult to block, and even a misaimed spell could result in a blast or backlash that could take out an enemy.

His eyes lingered on the destruction the spell had wrought and he gripped his wand tightly, palms a little sweaty. Because it was one thing to see it used on targets, but used on a person

With a flick of his wand, Victor repaired the targets. Then he gestured at Harry. “Now, the trick is the initial twist. It needs to be a tight semi-circle before the flick. Come, try it.”

Forcing his grip to relax, Harry raised his wand and practiced the motion until the healer nodded in approval.

“Good, now repeat after me: Dissilio.”

Dissilio,” Harry repeated dutifully, then twice more until Victor was satisfied with his pronunciation.

“I think you’re ready,” the mind healer said with an encouraging smile. He maneuvered Harry and raised his arm to the correct position. “Go ahead,” he said, stepping back.

Harry’s hand trembled minutely, but he forced himself to breathe — one of the first calming techniques Victor had ever taught him. Across the room the targets loomed, tall and wide.

He closed his eyes for a moment, then firmed himself and twisted his wrist, then flicked his wand. “Dissilio,” he said, and watched as a small jet of yellow light fizzled from the end of his wand before dying a mere foot away. He lowered his arm, torn between embarrassment and relief. He glanced at the healer, who nodded encouragingly.

“It was a good start, Harry. Most don’t get more than a couple sparks on their first try. Go ahead, give it another go. And don’t forget — you have to want it. You have to mean it. That target is your enemy. Someone who has hurt you, or threatened someone you love. And if you don’t destroy them, they will continue to hurt all those you care about. This is about protecting the ones you love, Harry. Never forget that.”

Nodding, Harry turned back to the target. It blurred for a moment, suddenly purple—faced and morbidly obese, fists clenching and ready to swing. Harry felt a cold sweat break out and his breath hitched. For a moment he remembered — being weak, helpless, at the mercy of people who hated him, who wanted nothing more than to lock him away forever. His hand trembled and he took a deep breath. Because he was no longer that child, no longer naive, no longer haplessly following along to someone else’s tune. He was stronger than that now.

Dissilio,” he said, more firmly this time, eyes narrowed as he glared at the target. This time the light shot forward, swift and deadly. There was a flash, a rush of sweet magic, and the target exploded. It was not as impressive as Victor’s spell, but there was still a fist—sized hole in the target’s centre where Harry’s spell had hit.

Letting out a loud breath, Harry lowered his arm, his eyes wide as he turned to look at his mind healer, his arm was still tingling. He had felt his magic before, when casting higher level spells such as the patronus charm, but never had it been so intense. Never had it felt so beautiful, the feel of his magic coursing through him. For a moment he thought he felt his scar prickle, but he was distracted as Victor clapped his hands delightedly. Then Harry was filled with a completely different type of warmth, a blush rising to his cheeks at the beaming smile on the man’s face.

“Well done, Harry. Well done. I knew you could do it. And on your second try, too. Most impressive.”

“Not as good as yours, though,” Harry mumbled, looking down.

“I’ve had years of practice, Harry. You mustn’t compare such levels of skill. Given enough practice, you, too, will be able to cast as I do.”

“You think so?” Harry asked a little hopefully. 

“I do,” Victor nodded. “You are a powerful wizard, and intelligent as well. You will go far.”

Harry flushed again, but smiled, warm and pleased.

“Now, that was an excellent start. But a start only. Shall we keep practicing?”

Harry nodded determinedly. He would practice as much as he needed, until he was sure he was strong enough to protect. And if he tried even harder to earn Victor’s approving smile, well, that was his own private business.

“So sweet, Harry. So precious. And such power that lies beneath your skin. If I stripped your flesh, would I taste it in your blood?”

Harry had gotten used to waking up from nightmares. By this point Victor no longer bothered closing the door between their rooms when they slept, and it was an almost nightly occurrence for Harry to be woken up partway through a nightmare, so keen was the man at noticing when Harry began to thrash and whimper in his sleep.

Unable to drink too much dreamless sleep potion for fear of addiction, Harry had turned to meditation, trying to clear his mind before bed every night. Victor, of course, was an expert legilimens and occlumens, and was able to guide Harry through the steps.

If this did not help him sleep any better, then Victor had promised that he would take more aggressive steps with legilimency to help him sort through his thoughts and fears. But it was a last resort, with how invasive it was.

Harry lamented the fact that he seemed so utterly terrible at clearing his mind. Especially since the only thing he seemed to be able to focus on through guided meditation was how beautiful Victor’s voice sounded and how nice it felt to be sitting so close to him.

Honestly, he doubted he’d ever be able to learn occlumency either at this rate. Not that it was necessary for him to do so, but it would be nice to be able to guard his mind. Perhaps then he would be even less susceptible to manipulation.

He blinked sleepily into his tea that morning. Two weeks into his sentencing and he had yet to manage a night’s sleep uninterrupted by nightmares. It was slowly wearing him down and his emotions felt particularly raw and sensitive.

Practicing magic with Victor was his best outlet. He always felt light and pleasantly tingly after a session, his skin warm where Victor had touched him and guided his wand arm through the motions. But he had yet to build up his endurance. He tired quickly and had to stop and then, inevitably, an hour or two later his mood plummeted once more.

He’d caught Victor giving him concerned glances, and hadn’t quite realized why until he had truly looked at himself in the mirror that morning. He was pale, a little too thin, and he had worryingly dark circles under his eyes. He couldn’t quite keep his eyes open all the way, either, except when practicing magic.

He tried to smile reassuringly at the healer, but his attempts tended to fall flat, his expressions more grimaces than anything else.

“Harry.”

He looked up from where he’d been staring at his tea. It was starting to get cold.

“I worry about you,” Victor sighed. “Being under house arrest is difficult enough for you. But with your nightmares, the lack of sleep, with only myself here for company…”

Harry ducked his head, guilt working its way through his system. He hadn’t meant to worry Victor. The man was already doing so much for him — truly, Harry couldn’t even begin to imagine how horrible his life would be right now if he’d had to stay with the Malfoys. Honestly, house arrest wasn’t so bad with Victor. Sure, he wished he could leave whenever he wanted, but he knew he had to make the best of his situation. And if it meant living in close quarters with a man who had been nothing but kind and caring, well, he could certainly make do.

He looked back up, his mouth opened to respond, but Victor was striding to the door that led into the sitting room. Harry watched curiously as the healer opened the door, glanced around, then took a few steps in and bent down. Then he turned, a small bundle of something dark and furry in his arms. 

Stopping just in front of Harry, Victor held it out, and Harry’s eyes widened as he was presented with a small cat, all black with yellow eyes that peered at him a little sleepily. 

He took the animal gently, his gaze instantly softening as he brought it close, cradling it with careful hands. “Hello,” he said softly. It blinked at him. Then its tongue darted out and licked at its nose, and it began to purr. Harry couldn’t help but smile, and he beamed up at the healer. “Is he here to stay?” He asked eagerly.

Victor nodded, a pleased look upon his face. “Yes, I thought that an animal companion for you would help reduce your stress, and would be good company for you on the occasions that I do need to leave.”

Harry looked down and blinked back tears, so touched by the healer’s gesture. He stroked the cat’s head gently and was rewarded with a nuzzle against his fingers.

His heart felt tight as he stared down at his newest friend. Honestly, Harry didn’t think he deserved the healer’s kindness, his compassion. Harry had been nothing but a burden to the man. He wondered, then, if Victor would be just as kind if it wasn’t his job. Would he still like Harry, if they had just met on the street? Would he sit next to him as he fell back asleep, still teary-eyed from his nightmare? Would he smile at Harry when he learned to cast new spells? Would he ever…

He flushed at the thought. The selfish, unreasonable thought. Just because Harry — 

His thoughts stumbled to a halt. Just because Harry… 

His heart thumped in his chest. He — 

“He likes you.”

Harry’s eyes widened, and for a moment, he wished that those words were just a little different, just — 

“He’s wonderful,” Harry managed to say.

Victor’s hand came to rest on Harry’s shoulder, and he resisted the urge to lean into it. 

“I’m glad,” the man said, a smile gentling his distinguished features. His deep set eyes, his high cheekbones, his strong jaw...

Harry glanced away, trying not to stare. “Thank you,” he said instead, looking back at his new companion. It licked its nose again, and Harry smiled. “Thank you.”

“I’m always watching you, Harry. Don’t think I ever leave. You are not alone — you will never be alone. I will always be here.” Cold nails dig into his skin as they trace his scar. “There’s no point in running. I’ll always find you.”  

“Neo-Death Eaters?” Harry said uncertainly as he read the Daily Prophet. 

Across the table, Victor looked up with a frown. 

“It says that there is speculation that the recent attack on muggles is the work of Neo-Death Eaters,” Harry said, as the healer stood and walked around behind Harry and began reading over his shoulder. The man’s presence was warm and distracting and Harry tried to ignore the way his blood started rushing south. He shifted slightly. “Death Eaters were… followers of Voldemort, right? I thought they had all been caught after the last war? Besides the few who weaselled their way out, I mean.”

Victor nodded absently, his hand warm where he had placed it on Harry’s shoulder for balance. “Neo-Death Eaters, though, seem to be a new group. A resurgence of old purist beliefs.” His eyes scanned the newspaper. “Perhaps a young group of witches and wizards who dislike the current set of laws in place to protect muggles. Or perhaps merely some who wish to stir up trouble.”

Harry read further, a scowl growing on his face. “And the ministry is just… doing nothing? Obliviating the muggles and calling it case closed?” His brows furrowed further. “Thicknesse was supposed to be better than Fudge. Not worse!”

Victor grimaced. “Fudge was the one who condemned you and dragged your name through the mud. Thicknesse, at least, resisted approving your sentence until he had no other option.”

Harry pursed his lips. “Yeah, but he isn’t doing anything about the muggles.”

Victor sighed. “Yes,” he said calmly, “but with no evidence or any traces left behind, there is nothing they can do. What I worry about is whether the attacks will continue, and if they do, whether they will move from muggles to wizards. It would not be the first time we have seen such a trend.”

Harry glanced up worriedly, this time only slightly distracted by how close Victor’s face was to his. “Do you think it would?”

“I am not sure, but to be safe, I think we should increase your training.” Victor straightened and stroked his chin in thought, his long fingers catching Harry’s eyes as he did so. “Perhaps it is paranoid of me, but I wish for you to be prepared, just in case. British wizarding society has been on the cusp of social unrest for half a decade now. The tension between muggleborns and purebloods is only increasing. It is best to be prepared.”

Harry nodded hesitantly, fists clenching as he thought of the danger Hermione could be in as a muggleborn if this escalated drastically. Or the Weasleys, who were considered blood traitors. He wished he could just pop in and see them, just to make sure that they were okay. Even if they wanted nothing to do with him, he just wished he could leave…

“Now, I know you are frustrated, but I promise, I know people in the ministry who are working hard to improve our society. I might not have gone to Hogwarts, but I care very much for the country of my birth. I wish for it to be transformed into a better place.” He smiled then, his face unusually sharp. Perhaps it was the way the light cast shadows across his eyes, or the way they gleamed a little redder in the morning light. Because for a moment Harry swore he’d seen the same expression on a face far more sinister.

Then Harry blinked and Victor was looking placid as always, and motioning for Harry to accompany him to the duelling room.

He shook his head and followed, both nervous and excited at the thought of learning more powerful spells. The one he had learned were already quite destructive, and he was a bit apprehensive of learning how to deal even more devastation. But at the same time, Victor seemed to think it important, and the man had never led him astray before.

His eyes lingered on the mind healer as he walked behind him, admiring the way his muscles flexed through his white shirt, the way his trousers stretched around his thighs and his ass with each step.

Then he flushed, eyes falling to his feet. Really, he shouldn’t be having such inappropriate thoughts about his mind healer. About the man who was giving everything to help Harry.

He stepped up next to Victor as the man conjured the dummies. Only this time, Harry noted with a twist to his stomach, they weren’t the usual wooden dolls. They were… rather realistic, in fact. Three of them: two men, morbidly obese and a woman, thin and horse-like.

Harry glanced at the mind healer, heart thumping in his chest. 

“This session,” the healer said, seeming to have anticipated Harry’s hesitance, “is twofold in purpose. One is to practice dark spells in a more realistic setting, and to understand the true consequence of the stronger magic that you will be learning. The second is to help you move forward from your childhood trauma. To move beyond what you were taught as a child, and to come into your own as an adult. To do that, you must face your fears.” Victor’s expression gentled. “I know that you wish to simply forget them, but you will never be as strong as you could be if you do not overcome these ingrained fears.”

Harry’s grip on his wand trembled as he glanced back at the dummies. They were immobile but for their wide eyes darting around in an imitation of fear. It was a little robotic, the motions, but certainly enough to make them feel almost real.

“Do that have to be so realistic?” He asked. “I feel like I’m — I dunno, shooting fish in a barrel or something. It feels… unfair.”

Victor’s hand came to rest on Harry’s shoulder, a warm comfort. His fingers stroked his shirt idly. “I know it’s disconcerting, but if you do not see a realistic effect of the spell, you may use it without thinking. It is best to properly understand. This is the best way I can think of, without involving… innocent bystanders.”

Nodding slowly, Harry steeled himself. He had come this far — Victor had told him how well he was doing. He didn’t want to disappoint the man now. 

“This curse,” Victor murmured, his head lowered so that his lips were close to brushing Harry’s ear. He positioned Harry’s wand arm. “Was invented to be silent and virtually unnoticeable until it’s too late. It hits a single target, but jumps from one to the next, as directed by the caster. It travels from the point of entry to its target, then splits off to jump to its next victim. It triggers when the caster wills it to, which means that it can travel from victim to victim without being noticed.”

Harry felt a shiver run down his spine at the explanation. It felt… underhanded, and… horrible, really. But he forced himself not to think of such things as he stared at the targets, Victor’s deep voice almost meditative as he murmured instructions into his ear. 

“Absolute control is necessary. We’ve worked on that for many years now, and I trust you to be able to focus and handle this spell. It will rebound upon you if your attention wavers even for a moment.”

Harry swallowed heavily and steeled himself, moving his arm as directed, practicing a few times first. Then he repeated the incantation until the healer was satisfied.

Eudico,” he said, giving the subtle twist of his wand. 

Nothing.

No rush of magic, no spell.

He flushed a little and glanced back. 

Victor smiled kindly, though he seemed a little disappointed. Harry hunched his shoulders guiltily. “I’m sorry,” he said quietly. “I’ll — I’ll try it again…”

“Don’t forget, Harry,” Victor said, “you have to mean it.”

Nodding, Harry looked once more at the targets. There were dark stains upon their clothes and Harry found the sight rather off-putting. Still, he found himself thinking of how similar to his relatives they appeared. The ones who had put him down, starved him, and locked him away. Who had told him time and time again how worthless he was.

But he wasn’t worthless. He wasn’t. And he would prove it. 

His scar tingled and for a moment, as he stared at the dummies, he felt a surge of hatred run through him, fierce and hot, urging him onwards. He raised his arm. “Eudico,” he said coldly.

And — oh, what a rush it was as the spell flared. It was visible as barely more than a disturbance of air, but Harry could trace it nonetheless as it hit the woman first with the barest hint of a spark, spreading throughout her body. Then upon Harry’s command, it jumped to the next victim, then the next.

“Now,” Victor said, a little breathless, his pupils dilated as he watched the dummies alongside Harry. “Release it, Harry, and see what great destruction it can bring.”

Resisting the urge to simply sink to the floor and bask in the rush of giddiness that ran through him, Harry flicked his wand and watched in a strange mixture of horror and triumph as the bodies split all at once in a spray of blood.

Wide eyes rolled upwards and then went dim as blood gushed from horrid wounds that wrenched the bodies apart. They slumped in their bindings, bits of flesh falling to the ground with squelching thumps.

Harry stared, frozen, knowing he should feel such disgust, such horror, but his scar was humming from all of the magic and all he could feel was a rushing sense of elation — a sense of pride for all that he had accomplished. He didn’t quite know where it was coming from. It felt almost foreign, and yet it could not be anything but his own true feelings, right?

“Well done, Harry,” Victor said, a hand reaching out to cup Harry’s cheek and turn his head to face the healer’s. “You did so well.” The healer a little breathlessly, something hungry in his gaze. “I knew you could do it. I’m very proud of you, my Harry.”

Harry felt another rush, then. Not of magic, but of emotion. A pure, unadulterated want as he stared up at the man. The man who was giving everything to help him, to teach him. Harry wanted to give back — wanted the man to know just how much Harry — 

He licked his lips, his head light and airy from the magic, from this flood of sensation that seemed to be coming from within himself.

“Victor, I…” He paused, his tongue coming out to wet his lips. The healer’s eyes traced the motion before flicking back up to meet Harry’s own,

“Yes, Harry?” The mind healer leaned forward, just a touch, until their faces were mere inches apart, and Harry found that he could not think. 

But he did not need to think, not for this. Not for something so… simple.

So he didn’t. He simply moved, raising himself to his toes to press his lips against his healer’s. 

It was soft at first as Harry, with little experience, could do nothing but wait for the other to respond, his own lips lightly parting in anticipation.

A heartbeat passed and their eyes connected. Victor seemed to be warring with something, if only for a moment, before his eyes lidded, hiding a gleaming emotion before Harry could quite identify it. Then their lips met again, only this time at the behest of Victor.

Hot.

Victor’s tongue was hot as it swept along Harry’s lips, then surged into his mouth, claiming Harry’s own. 

Harry moaned, his hands reaching up to grip at the healer’s shoulders as he was pressed back, his steps stumbling until he met the wall behind him. Victor stepped closer, then pressed the length of his body against Harry’s. 

Their lips moved and Harry couldn’t help the whimper that escaped his lips as the man traced his hands down his sides and gripped his hips, pulling them flush, the heat of their bodies mingling. 

Harry felt his cock twitch and he tried to jerk back in embarrassment, but he barely got the chance to move when Victor pressed his hips forward, delivering sweet friction as their bodies slid together. 

Harry’s hips rolled upwards in response, a groan spilling from his lips as his cock swelled until it was painfully hard, restricted in the tight confines of his trousers.

Victor’s grip on his hips was tight and unyielding, and he pressed his own cock against Harry’s. Even through their clothes it felt hot and hard, and Harry wished that he could touch it, take it in his hands, and explore it until he knew every inch.

But his arms were gripping Victor’s shoulders so tightly that he wasn’t sure he could let go at this point, and all he could do was thrust his hips in time with Victor’s, seeking friction as heat began to pool in his loins, growing swiftly with each roll of their hips.

Harry wished, then, that they were naked. That he could trace his hands along Victor’s bare skin. That Victor would pierce places never before touched. 

One day, he promised himself. One day he would know Victor’s body as well as he knew his own.

“Harry,” Victor groaned as he moved his face into the crook of Harry’s neck, tongue brushing against Harry’s skin before being replaced by teeth. “Merlin, I’ve been wanting to do this for so long.”

Harry opened his mouth to respond, but could only whimper, a wordless plea for more. More, please, more.

“I thought I could wait,” the healer grunted as he used one of his hands to pull Harry’s leg up and around his waist, slotting himself into the space that opened up. He rolled his hips faster, his breaths increasing against Harry’s neck. “I thought I would wait until you were released from my care. It would be the professional thing to do.” 

Sweat began to drip from Harry’s brow as he whined, his head dropping back against the wall, his body pliant in the healer’s hands.

“But I couldn’t wait, not when you looked at me like that.” Victor growled, his teeth biting down on Harry’s neck, and he sucked at the skin possessively, hips moving faster and faster. 

“Ah,” Harry gasped as the friction increased, heat rushing through his veins as pleasure began to build higher and higher. So close, he was so close… “Please,” he gasped out. “I need — “

“I know, sweet Harry,” Victor said, his words broken by pants. “I know what you need. And I’ll give it to you. You’ve been so good, Harry. You deserve a reward.”

Then he moved his head and brought their lips together, one of his hands tight on Harry’s hip, the other gripping his thigh. And they moved, their bodies surging in sync as they both chased their desires. 

Harry came first with a keen, pleasure exploding through him, his eyes rolling as his hips stuttered, his body tensing in ecstasy. He sobbed as Victor kept thrusting, the pleasure almost too much now as his cock, slowly softening, felt so sensitive — too sensitive now, rubbing against the cloth of his underwear.

Still, he held on as the man thrust again — once, twice, then a third time before coming, his breath catching, then releasing in a low groan, his hips jerking against Harry’s as he rode out his orgasms in sharp, quick thrusts.

Then he slumped against Harry, and they both panted in the aftermath of their pleasure. Harry managed to unclench his hands and bring them down to cling to the front of Victor’s shirt. He peered upwards, feeling shy now that his mind was clearing. He couldn’t believe that he’d had the audacity to kiss the man. Sure, he’d wanted to for a while now, but — to actually do it —

The healer was watching him with lidded eyes, a pleased expression upon his face. “You’re so good, Harry. So good.”

Flushing, Harry averted his gaze. “You — you don’t mind that I — “ that I kissed you? That I’m risking your status as a professional?

“Mind?” Victor chuckled. “Harry, I had planned on seducing you once our professional relationship came to an end, but I was only going to wait for propriety’s sake. Now that I have you, I intend to keep you.” He smiled, low and dark in promise. “I am very possessive of what is mine. I hope you are prepared for that.”

Eyes wide, Harry could but nod, so relieved that he had not been rejected, so thrilled that Victor wanted him. Wanted him as no one ever had before.

Trapped in Victor’s gaze, Harry could only smile, giddy, his scar tingling, the mutilated dummies forgotten.

“Don’t worry, my sweet Harry. When you fall, I’ll be there to catch you.

Chapter Text

There was something about Victor that drew Harry in. Had always drawn Harry in. Which was probably why most nights found Harry just as he was right now: on his knees, with Victor’s cock as far down his throat as he could manage. 

He swallowed and hummed, pleased, when Victor’s hips stuttered forward, the grip in his hair tightening as the muscles in Harry’s throat contracted around the man’s length. 

Harry wasn’t quite sure why, but he’d become rather obsessed with Victor’s touch. He thought constantly about the way the man would stroke his hair as he fell asleep. The way he would rest his hand on Harry’s shoulder while teaching him new spells. The way he would fuck Harry’s mouth long and hard, his own lips slightly parted and eyes gleaming.

The hand in his hair pushed him forward again, and Victor ground his hips against Harry’s face, breath stuttering as Harry’s tongue slid along his length. “Merlin, Harry,” the mind healer breathed. “You were made for this, weren’t you.”

Harry wondered if maybe he was, considering how much he enjoyed it. Considering how, a couple weeks ago, he had never touched anyone’s cock but his own, and now he couldn’t get enough of Victor’s. He moaned his agreement and was rewarded by Victor’s quickening thrusts. His eyes watered as his mouth was used solely for Victor’s pleasure and he gripped the man’s thighs tightly to keep himself grounded, to keep himself from being swept away.

He was hard, but he did not dare touch himself. Not yet. Not until Victor gave him permission. Control yourself, Harry, the man always told him. And so Harry forced himself to keep his hands on Victor instead. To focus on the man’s pleasure instead of his own. To take everything the man gave him. 

“Very good, Harry,” Victor praised, and Harry flushed in pride, unable to help but preen under the man’s approving gaze. He swallowed around the man’s length as he ground his hips against Harry’s face and was rewarded with a deep, rumbling groan. “Again,” the man commanded.

And so Harry did. Again, and again, until Victor’s hips stuttered and he came down Harry’s throat with a hiss of pleasure, looking almost triumphant.

Harry swallowed once more and waited until the man’s member had softened before pulling back. He longed to reach down to his own cock but resisted once more, instead watching Victor with a hopeful expression upon his face.

Victor smiled. “Come here, Harry,” he said, moving back to lean against the headboard of his bed. He patted the space between his legs.

Harry scrambled to obey, kneeling in front of the man. Then Victor turned him around and pulled him back to lean against the man’s chest. Large hands trailed up his thighs and Harry’s length strained, pulsing in his eagerness.

Victor took Harry’s hand in his own and placed them around the younger man’’s cock. Harry’s breath hitched at the contact. It wasn’t the first time he’d done it this way; sometimes, Victor had Harry stroke himself to completion. Sometimes, the man took him in his mouth until he came. And sometimes, it was like this: the two of them together, touching, stroking — 

“Now, Harry,” Victor murmured in his ear. “Control.”

And Harry nodded, even though he wanted to protest. Of all the times to work on his restraint, this was the most difficult. It was during the height of pleasure that Harry wanted to let go and just feel. 

He hated having to learn control, but he could not deny the fact that he needed it. Victor had pointed it out time and time again: just how often Harry’s impulsive actions had gotten him — and others — into such dangerous situations. In all honesty, he thought that Hermione and Ron were better off without him. Victor had not agreed, per se, but he had acknowledged that their lives were certainly safer, now, outside of the influence of Harry’s impulses.

“Good boy,” Victor murmured, his hand moving slowly up and down. “If you continue to be good, I’ll let you come. You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

Harry nodded, his response warped by the gasp that escaped his lips as a finger dipped into his slit, sending pleasure through his veins. His head dropped back onto Victor’ shoulder and he fought to not thrust his hips too far, to not move his own hand any faster. To not interrupt the man who brought him to the heights of ecstasy.

He fisted the sheets with his free hand and tried desperately to not move — to be still, to be perfect for Victor. To obey the man — and please him.

Heat simmered low in his gut and his breath laboured, small noises escaping as he fought to keep still. Victor’s motions were skilled, bringing him close, so close, and leaving him desperate and panting, all but begging as he waited, wondering whether this time he had been good enough — whether this time he would be granted release.

“You’re doing so well, Harry. Just a little longer.” Victor’s hand moved infuriatingly slowly. 

Oh, how Harry wanted to move. He wanted to beg, wanted more — please, always more. He wanted Victor to fuck him. Wanted to feel the man’s cock as deep as it could go. Wanted to be filled. Wanted to be as close to the man as physically possible. 

But Victor always refused. ‘You’re not ready,’ he would say. ‘Patience, my dear Harry. You’ve been good, but… not so good as to deserve that.

And so Harry held still, his muscles clenched, his head pressed against Victor’ shoulder, his mouth open and panting as the man stroked him, their hands moving in tandem.

He was not quite sure why he craved the man so. Why he felt so complete when touched. Why he yearned for the man’s praise.

Love, he thought, though it was an emotion that he was not overly familiar with. He had never received any love as a child after his parents died, and while Ron and Hermione had been good friends, it was different from this all-consuming desire. This need.

Harry couldn’t say for sure what love felt like, but he was pretty sure this was it. Because if this wasn’t love, then what was it?

Harry’s hand twitched around himself, longing to squeeze tighter, to move just a little faster, but he held back even as he looked up, locking eyes with Victor. 

The man must have seen just how desperate Harry was, for he chuckled. “You’re doing very well, Harry. You’ve lasted twice as long as you did two weeks ago.”

Harry flushed, both embarrassed at how easily the man made him come undone and proud of how far he’d come under Victor’s tutelage.

He shuddered as Victor’s hand squeezed as if to test his control, and his eyes rolled back when the man’s other hand reached down to squeeze his balls, rolling them gently. His muscles tensed and he let out a small sob. “Please,” he said, little more than a whisper as he was stimulated and denied all at once, the dual sensations making his head spin and his thoughts jumble until all he could focus on was the feel of the man behind him. The touch of skin against skin. And the unfettered pleasure that was rushing through him.

He heard Victor sigh, a warm exhale against his ear, and then the man finally acquiesced. “Very well, Harry. Perhaps next time…”

And Harry sobbed, ecstatic in his release and the white hot pleasure that threaded through his body and his mind. He arched his back, his head pressing into Victor’s shoulder, his cock spurting white against his chest and against their hands. 

And then finally: he began to come down from his high while looking up into Victor’s indulgent expression. Harry smiled, grateful and also a little disappointed in himself. Perhaps, if he had waited just a little longer, if he’d had the discipline and willpower to resist, he might have pleased Victor enough for him to finally… 

Harry lowered his gaze, promising himself that next time. Next time he would be better.

Sharp nails pierced his scar. Pain, pain, pain — “I have an eternity. I can wait. I am not a patient man, but for you, my dear Harry, I can wait. Sooner or later, you will fall.”

Harry was screaming. Red eyes. Red eyes were all he could see. They haunted him in his dreams and chased him into reality. 

He opened his eyes, but there was no escape. Voldemort was everywhere. He haunted the shadows and climbed from the crevices along the floor. He scraped his nails along Harry’s scalp and whispered in his ear when no one else was looking.

A hand reached out, thin and skeletal and pale as moonlight and Harry scrambled back, reaching for his wand. He struck out without thinking — he didn’t have time to think. He could only act, could only strike against his enemy, against the darkness that haunted him.

Someone was shouting. Panicked, Harry struck out again, a vicious yellow curse shooting from his wand. 

“—ry!”

He sobbed as he moved further back, away, away.

“Harry!”

He paused. His heart was thudding so loudly that he could barely hear anything else. But he recognized that voice. Knew it intimately. His eyes flicked up and there was no skeletal hand, no Voldemort reaching for him, no monster trying to drag him into the darkness.

There was only Victor, clutching at his arm as blood dripped down and soaked his sleeve red. Only Victor, staring at him worriedly, without even a wand in hand.

Harry trembled, his wand dropping from his fingers and clattering to the floor. He hunched in on himself. “Oh, Merlin,” he sobbed. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to, I swear. I thought, I thought — “

Victor approached slowly and sat next to Harry as he normally did whenever he had a nightmare. “You’re alright, Harry. It’s just me. It’s Victor. You’re safe in my house. I would never let anyone get to you. You know that, don’t you?”

Harry nodded into his hands, unable to look at the man: the man he had hurt, had hurled curses at. “I’m sorry. I thought — you were Voldemort — “

He heard Victor sigh. “Oh, Harry,” the man said, a hand reaching out to brush through his hair. Harry barely managed not to flinch at a gesture he normally loved. “Sweet one,” the man murmured, undaunted by Harry’s lack of response. “They’re getting worse, your nightmares.”

Harry nodded.

“I wish you had told me. For them to merge with the waking world… Harry. It is dangerous for you to have hallucinations like this.”

Finally, Harry worked up the courage to glance up. Victor was watching him with a frown, face set in thought. His hand was still gripping his arm, but it didn’t look like it was bleeding anymore.

“I hurt you,” Harry said, his heart clenching at the sight of blood that he had spilled. It seemed far more visceral seeing blood on a real human — especially one he cared for. Far more powerful than it had been to see the dummies explode in false gore.

“It’s not important right now,” Victor dismissed his wound with a glance. “We need to focus on the root of the problem — namely, your hallucinations.”

Harry nodded, his eyes still riveted by the blood. How could he have thrown a spell like that at Victor? How could he have been so far gone that he couldn’t even recognize the one person to care for him more than anyone else had? Harry did not know much about love, but he was pretty sure that he loved this man. And yet, because of a stupid dream, he had — 

“I think it might be time,” Victor said, sounding reluctant, “to try Legilimency again. Before, I used it only briefly to see what damage we were dealing with, but now I may need to take a more aggressive approach.” His hand drifted down to cup Harry’s cheek. “I know it’s invasive, but these hallucinations…”

Harry nodded. “I know,” he said, his voice still hoarse from screaming. “I know it needs to be done. I can’t — I can’t keep living like this, strung along by some imaginary foe, risking you in the process…”

Victor’s relieved smile was beautiful to Harry’s eyes, and he leaned forward into the man’s hand.

“Thank you, Harry,” Victor said. “I will heal you. One day, I will help you be completely rid of the nightmare curse’s effects.”

Harry smiled back, small and shy, but genuine. His heart fluttered like a flurry of wings. “I know. I trust you. Thank you, Victor.”

Victor’s smile widened, white teeth gleaming, and his hand tightened its grip. “For you, precious one, anything.”

Harry nervously stroked Baden’s fur as he stared at Victor. He shifted in his chair. “I — I guess I’m ready,” he said at last. He placed the cat down and it curled up under his chair.

Victor peered at him. “Are you sure, Harry? I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable in any way. In fact, I want this to be as painless as possible for you.”

Harry nodded. “I’m sure.” He didn’t have any reason to be worried about Victor seeing into his mind. He trusted this man with his life.

He took a deep breath and and looked his lover in the eye. “I’m ready.”

For a moment, Harry could swear that Victor’s eyes had flashed red, but — no, those were the hallucinations playing with his mind again, he reminded himself. And they were what Victor was here to help him with.

Victor’s Legilimency was the gentlest of touches. Harry would not even have noticed it but for the soothing feeling of Victor’s magic against his, sliding into his mind and slithering through his thoughts.

He could sense the different memories that Victor flashed through, quick as a snake, but he found that he did not overly mind whether the man saw him running from Dudley or shoved into his cupboard. He knew the man would not mock him for his past. 

Harry sighed and let his head fall against the back of his chair as the session continued, the seconds turning to minutes. Scene after scene flashed across his mind — Hagrid barging into the hut, meeting Ron on the train, stabbing the diary, the resurrection — a jolt of pain ran through his scar, but Victor’s magic soothed him back down until it had faded to a mere tingle.

There were more flashes, then, as his mind healer continued onwards, deeper into the depths of Harry’s mind. Dumbledore, asking him what happened after he’d touched the cup; Umbridge, asking if he perhaps needed a mind healer to help him deal with his trauma; Ron and Hermione, looking torn as they stared at him — 

Then, all those thoughts and memories fled as a feeling of pure joy flooded Harry from his scar. A feeling of reunion: of coming home, of reuniting with the one he valued most — his everything — the one he could not survive without — 

Harry came to with a gasp — his vision clearing, his gaze focusing on Victor — who was watching him contemplatively — 

“I — that felt —“ Harry sat up, trembling slightly in the aftermath of such strong emotion, such desire . His lover was watching him with concern. He rested hands on his desk in front of him. One of his fingers twitched, but the man seemed otherwise unfazed.

“Are you alright, Harry? Dizzy? Nauseated?”

Harry shook his head. He wondered if Victor had felt any of what he had — such an intense longing, a soul-deep urge to be — to be one with the man…

“I’m okay,” he said, feeling oddly breathless. “I feel fine.” Better than fine, really. He felt… like he had found a part of himself that had been lost for a very long time. He found himself unable to look away from Victor, and he watched as the man made some notes in the thick notebook he reserved for Harry’s treatment. “Did you find anything?” He asked, a little timidly. He wanted to know, of course, but it also scared him: what the man might have found. What if Voldemort was still alive and—

“The nightmare curse,” Victor said, a frown playing across his face, “has latched on in a way that I have never heard of before.”

Something cold slithered into Harry’s stomach. “What do you mean?” He asked. 

“Harry — “ Victor broke off, then let out a deep sigh. “You know I would never judge you. That is not why I am here. I am here to help you, not to criticize you for aspects of yourself that you cannot control.”

Harry’s hands trembled and he clasped them together as dread worked its way up to his heart. “What — “ he swallowed. “What’s wrong with me?”

“Oh Harry, nothing is wrong with you. What you are experiencing is perhaps a little unusual, but certainly not unheard of.” Victor paused and waited until Harry nodded before continuing. “The nightmare curse has latched onto an unconscious desire within you. It is using that desire to manifest itself within your dreams and, as we have seen, in the waking world as well — in the form of hallucinations.”

“A desire.” Harry echoed faintly, unable to quite acknowledge what Victor was trying to say. “You — you don’t mean…”

Victor’s smile was kind and painfully understanding and Harry both loved it and hated it. How could Victor stand to be in the same room as him? How could the man even bear to look at him?

“It’s alright, Harry. Remember, I am not here to judge.”

“But — how could I — “ Harry broke off with a choke, his disgust welling up within him. Merlin, he was sick. 

“Harry, your desire is a product of Dumbledore’s manipulation. He played upon your vulnerable state as a child. Made you feel like you had to be a hero. Had to save people, when in truth: there was no danger.”

Feeling frustrated and ashamed, Harry lowered his eyes. “There was never a Voldemort,” Harry said, as he had said time and time again. “It wasn’t real.”

“It wasn’t,” Victor confirmed.

“But I — I’m so fucked up that I want it to be real.” Harry laughed hollowly, wiping at his eyes. “What does that say about me, then?”

“It says,” Victor said, sounding stern, “that you are coping as best as you can. The impressions that were made when you were young are not so easily forgotten. Your mind has done what it can to allow you to cope with the reshaping of your reality.”

Harry closed his eyes and breathed deeply. “Why don’t I see something that I fear? My boggart was a dementor. Wouldn’t that be a better nightmare for me?”

“A nightmare can be based on fear, yes, but also on other strong emotions: hatred, guilt, and so on. I believe that the curse is latching onto the negative emotions you subconsciously feel when you think of the Dark Lord.”

“How do I — what do I do, Victor?” Harry looked at his mind healer pleadingly. He needed this gone. He needed to feel sane again.

Victor sighed. “You won’t like it,” he warned. 

“I need to know.”

Victor nodded. “The curse has been contained within your negative emotions associated with the Dark Lord. As such, you must learn to let them go. So long as you hold onto them, the curse will have a hold over you.”

Harry breathed in sharply. “I have to — you can’t be serious. How am I supposed to — to like him? Oh, Merlin, don’t tell me I need to love him.”

Victor gave him a small, wry smile. “Let’s not go that far right now. The curse should, theoretically, disappear if you are able to forgive the Dark Lord. Only if that does not work, would we have to look into a more serious treatment.”

“Forgive him,” Harry said, slumping back. “How am I supposed to forgive him? He killed my parents. Tried to kill me. If it hadn’t been for him, I wouldn’t have had to grow up with the Durs — “ his mouth snapped shut and he looked away, face pale. It wasn’t that Victor didn’t know about his treatment at the hands of his dear relatives. It was something they were also working through. But Merlin, did he hate remembering how helpless he had been. How the Muggles had treated him as if he were worthless. 

A warm, gentle hand landed on his, and he looked up to see Victor crouching before him. Harry’s breath hitched at the intense look in the man’s eyes. At just how close he was. At the feel of his skin against Harry’s. A memory of pleasure and longing flashed through him and he couldn’t help but lean slightly forward. Anything, to be closer to the man.

“What those Muggles did was wrong. They had no right to touch you, to starve you, to lock you up. To enslave you. You are better than they are, Harry. Never forget this. You are a wizard, and a powerful one. You have always been superior to them, and always will be.” 

“They’re humans, though, just like us. We’re not — not better than they are, just different,” Harry protested. He knew that Victor was not overly fond of Muggles, but he seemed to particularly hate the Dursleys, and his rhetoric became rather vicious whenever they were brought up. Not that Harry truly minded hearing them insulted, of course, but really: “not all Muggles are like them,” he insisted.

The smile he received was indulgent. Victor’s hand reached up and ran through his hair. Harry’s eyes lidded again as he sighed into the touch.

“We’re better off without them. The Statute of Secrecy was created for a reason. They fear what they do not understand. You experienced this firsthand, and yet you still defend them. Truly, you are far too kind, my precious Harry.”

Flushing, Harry buried his face in Victor’s shoulder. They stayed there for a moment, neither quite willing to give up this moment. Protests swirled through Harry’s head, but he couldn’t quite bring himself to speak them aloud. Not when he was so comfortable.

Still, he couldn’t help but tilt his head up to ask: “When you were looking in my mind, did you…?”

Victor’s head tilted slightly. “Did I?” He prompted, his voice a deep rumble in Harry’s ears.

Longing. Desire. Home.

“Never mind,” Harry said, flushing and burying his head back down. Merlin, he would probably sound so needy and clingy. Asking if Victor had felt the same? He was such a sap. 

“I know your deepest desires. I have seen everything, Harry. I know what you want.” Where once Voldemort was harsh, now he was gentle, his voice crooning as he whispered into Harry’s ear. “I can give you everything, if you submit to me.”

Harry loved practicing magic with Victor, even if it was dark magic. It still scared him a little, what with how destructive it was, how close he had come to truly hurting Victor those few weeks ago. But it was thrilling to use such powerful magic, and it made his scar tingle pleasantly. The remnant of dark magic reacting to his spells, or so Victor had told him.

He always felt more relaxed after their sessions. It was therapeutic, in a way. Not to mention the fact that he was getting more skilled. He hoped he’d never need to use it, but the Neo-Death Eaters were growing bolder and bolder. Every morning, it seemed he was reading about some new attack. So far it had mostly been on Muggles, but this morning a Muggleborn witch had been attacked and barely escaped with her life.

An unfortunate accident, the Ministry was saying. But it couldn’t have been — not with the Dark Mark that they had burned onto her neck.

Harry’s spell fizzled out: halfway to the targets that stood at terrified attention. He heard Victor sigh next to him.

“Is it the targets again?” The man asked.

Victor seemed to feel that having a more realistic target would help Harry if he needed to use the spell in a real fight. Harry had started getting used to it, though it was still unsettling to stare into their eyes and watch the fear grow as he shot spells at them. He knew it wasn’t real, but it certainly looked incredibly realistic.

Harry shook his head. “No,” he said. “I’m used to it by now.” A few times, the targets had looked oddly similar to the Dursleys, and Harry had been horrified at the strange urge he’d had to hurt them. It was a foreign emotion, as he would much rather simply forget about them altogether, but it had rattled him so much that he’d been unable to properly cast the spell until the next session, when Victor had conjured up different-looking targets.

“You seem distracted,” Victor tilted his head, his words more encouragement than question.

Harry shifted, feeling a little guilty. He treasured the time Victor spent teaching him. Truly, he did. But he just couldn’t focus. “It’s the attacks,” he finally admitted. “I just — I’m worried. They keep targeting Muggleborns. And… I know we had a falling out, but…” Harry looked down at his hands, twisting them together nervously until a large, warm hand touched his to halt the nervous habit.

“But you still care. It’s alright, Harry. I understand.” Victor’s eyes flashed oddly, but his smile was steady and his words warm. “You are far too kind for this cruel world, my sweet one. If you are not careful, there are many who will take advantage of that.”

Harry gave a weak smile. He didn’t really see himself as particularly kind, but — “That’s why I have you, right?” He said, staring up at his lover.

Victor laughed, open-mouthed and full of teeth. “It is,” he agreed. “I always protect what’s mine.”

Harry ducked his head, feeling his face flushing lightly. Victor was odd with his words sometimes, but Harry appreciated the sentiment. It made him feel warm inside: to be wanted. To be desired. To be loved.

Victor was silent for a moment before letting out a deep sigh. “I will visit the Ministry to see if any of my contacts know anything more. But, Harry. I am not supposed to leave you unattended, unless in an emergency. The house elf will be here, but she is far too busy to be watching you the whole time. Promise me you will stay safe? Don’t practice any dark magic without me, and certainly do not leave the house before I return.”

Harry nodded, his eyes wide. “You mean — you’ll go now?”

Victor gave him a wry smile. “It’s Friday afternoon. If I go now, I can still catch whoever is there. If I wait, you will mope all weekend and we will get nothing done at all.”

Harry flushed, knowing that Victor was right. “Thank you,” he said, gripping Victor’s hand with his own. His heart swelled at just how kind the man was: always caring for him, always indulging his whims. 

“For you,” Victor said, bending down to brush his lips across Harry’s forehead, just next to his scar. “Anything.”

Harry paced as Victor donned his cloak. The man had changed into more formal robes, and he looked particularly handsome as he flattened his collar. Harry paused for a moment to admire his lover. He was, not for the first time, amazed that the man had chosen him. Simple, plain Harry. 

He managed a smile as Victor turned to him. 

“Stay safe,” he said, pressing a kiss to the man’s face.

Victor nodded. “Of course,” he replied, reaching up to stroke Harry’s cheek with his hand. Then he stepped back and Disapparated with a crack, leaving the room feeling particularly empty.

Harry glanced at Baden and smiled as the cat flicked its tongue out to lick its nose. Then it stretched and meandered over, rubbing along Harry’s leg and purring before trotting off to the study where he tended to nap most afternoons.

Harry ambled after it, since he really had nothing else to do. He was not sure how long Victor would be gone, but he couldn’t wait at the front door until the man came back. Even if that was really all he wanted to do.

He sat in his favourite chair and picked up the book that Victor had assigned. It was on dark curses and their effects, and it was both horrifying and fascinating. He still wasn’t the best at studying — he had issues focusing for such long periods of time, but he’d gotten better over the years. Not as good as Hermione, but certainly better than Ron had been.

His heart clenched slightly at the thought of his old friends. There was a strange mixture of anger and loss that pervaded him whenever he thought of them. For had they not stood by his side for so many years, following him into danger — and so very needlessly, at that?

He wondered, sometimes, what the breaking point had been. Perhaps the fact that he had become mentally unstable from all of Dumbledore’s manipulations? So unstable that even Umbridge had looked at him in concern?

He fiddled with the edge of his current page, not quite daring to fold it, as Victor was rather strict about his treatment of the books. He tried to focus on the words, but he found himself rereading the same paragraph three times. Finally, he gave up and closed the book with a sigh, instead glancing at Baden, who was curled up on the chair next to him and basking in the sun. It was fall and the leaves were turning. The air was crisp but the sun was warm, and Harry rather wished he could nap, but he was far too restless to properly sit still.

He stared out the window. It was beautiful out, and Harry felt caged inside this room, inside this house. He’d dealt with his house arrest rather well so far, he thought. But every once in a while, he found himself pacing, struggling with the feeling of being so very trapped. As if chained and muzzled, no longer free.

And freedom, Harry thought, had been short and sweet when he’d had it. How he wished it hadn’t been under the machinations of Dumbledore. How he wished the man had not chosen him to manipulate. Had just — left him alone.

Harry clenched his fists, then forced himself to breathe deeply as Victor had taught him. Dumbledore was locked away in Azkaban, where he could never hurt Harry again. Could never twist his mind and force him to believe things that were not real.

Then again, Harry mused as he traced the cover of the book in his lap, were it not for Dumbledore’s meddling, he would never have met Victor. And truly, Harry could not imagine himself without the other man. 

Harry wondered sometimes if he was, perhaps, obsessed. But he had always pushed the thought aside, feeling certain that his love was not unhealthy. It was simply that… he felt whole when he was with Victor. As if he had found something that he had been missing. Had been longing for.

And what was that, if not a pure love?

He placed his book upon the table and stretched, wondering if perhaps he should take a walk around the yard. Victor had told him not to leave the house and had always accompanied him even for walks in the garden, but surely he should be able to go by himself, so long as he did not leave the property?

He glanced at Baden, but the cat was curled up, eyes firmly shut in stubborn sleep.

Harry smiled a little as he moved closer to the window, watching longingly as a pair of birds took flight from the nearby branches, as if scared by his sudden presence. It was then that he saw the owl winging its way over to the house, looking rather harried even for an overworked post owl.

Opening the window, Harry accepted the parchment. It was crumpled and barely folded, the words scribbled hastily. Harry took a few steps towards Victor’s desk to drop it off when one of the words made him stop short, his heart leaping into his throat.

Attack.

Harry hesitated only for a moment.

Attack on the Ministry

Harry clenched the parchment in his hands, his eyes widening as he scanned it, his heart pounding. Victor. Victor was at the Ministry. And Hermione— 

Muggleborns targeted, he read. Aurors currently hunting for the culprit. For your safety, please remain home until further notice.

Harry ran a hand through his hair. Did they not know that Victor was already at the Ministry? That he had been there for almost an hour at this point? 

There was no signature or name on the note, so Harry could only assume that it was one of Victor’s associates hoping to ensure the man’s safety. More than once, he had seen Victor receive short notes much like this one. His informant, Victor always said upon seeing Harry’s curious gaze. Harry appreciated it, but Merlin, did he wish he knew whether his lover was safe.

His eyes scanned the note again and his lips pursed. Muggleborns targeted. What if — 

Harry paused mid-step. What if Hermione had been attacked? He had not spoken to her in years, but he still cared. Still remembered the reluctant look in her eyes as she turned away. The way she had turned back, twice, to look at him as Ron had led her away. 

Harry wrung his hands as he paced in small, quick circles. From his chair, Baden glanced at him, ears twitching and tail flicking. 

“I promised I wouldn’t leave the house,” Harry said. The words rang hollowly. What good was his promise if those he cared about were in danger? He glanced at the cat. “What do you think? Should I go?”

Baden gave him a slow blink, then a sweet meow. 

Harry smiled, tremulous and fleeting. “Yeah,” he said. “I think so too.” He ran a hand through his hair. “Fispy,” he called. There was a crack and a wrinkled house elf bowed in front of him. “I spilled some tea in the dining room. If you wouldn’t mind cleaning it…”

The house elf, still silent, merely bowed again before disappearing. There was no spill, of course, but the search for any stains should occupy her for long enough that he could leave unhindered.

He turned and ran up the stairs to his trunk. He rooted through it until he had found his Invisibility Cloak. He swept it over his shoulders and raised the hood over his head, then paused, his wand clenched tightly in his hand. Indecision warred for a moment. If he disappointed Victor, the man would surely turn away from him, just as everyone else had.

He shook his head. He was not a saviour. Not a soldier for Dumbledore. But he was still Harry, and he would never leave his friends in danger if he could do something to help. His heart lurched at the thought of being spurned by the one he loved, but... to ensure Victor’s safety, as well as Hermione’s…

It was worth it.

Baden, perched upon the bannister, watched him with bright eyes. The cat blinked and licked its nose.

Harry gave it a crooked smile. “Don’t burn the place down while I’m gone.”

Then he took a deep breath, spun on his heel, and Disapparated.

Chapter Text

It was surprisingly easy to sneak into the ministry despite the added security. There were twice as many aurors as there had been the last time Harry had been here, but most of them were simply milling about looking bored. Harry clenched his fists, hating that there was so little care given regarding these attacks. It’s just a muggleborn seemed to be the sentiment Harry had read in the papers, and certainly what he could see based on their expressions.

He stuck to the walls of the atrium as he crept through, making sure to cast a muffling charm on his shoes. He moved slowly, not wanting to risk his cloak billowing and exposing any parts of himself. A few times he had to pause and duck down as an auror walked past, but no one seemed to be on high alert except for a few witches and wizards who scurried through the atrium looking harried. Muggleborns, most likely, worried that they might be the next victims of an attack.

Harry pursed his lips, wishing he could catch the perpetrator himself, but — 

You’re not a soldier, Harry

Victor’s voice rang in his head and Harry forced himself to take a deep breath and focus on the reason he was here — to make sure that Victor and Hermione were alright. The rest he would have to leave up to the aurors. 

Not that he wouldn’t fight if he saw someone attacked right in front of him, but — 

Focus, Harry! He scolded himself, even as his hand clenched around his wand. Such meandering thoughts were the reason he had always gotten into trouble at Hogwarts. He needed to move past that instinctive desire to jump straight into trouble. Victor had been working with him for years on this very subject. You can’t save everyone , Victor had told him so many times. Words that Harry repeated to himself over and over as he crept past a few worried-looking witches.

He paused as he neared the elevators, then shook his head. It was far too risky to try and sneak in, so he would have to go the long way around and up the stairwell that climbed the back section of the building. Luckily there were enough people using the stairs that he was able to slip through the doors just before they closed. He made his way up to the first floor where Victor normally met his contacts. 

The man knew some very important people, which hopefully meant that he was well protected, but Harry had to be sure. His stomach churned at the thought of Victor injured. His scar tingled and he did his best to push the thought away. 

He was panting by the time he reached the first floor, and he took a moment to calm his breathing before stepping through the door after a surly looking auror. He waited a few more breaths before following, his steps slower as he drifted invisibly down the hall. He peered into any open door he could find and saw a few familiar faces — Lucius Malfoy and — eurgh, Umbridge, but it wasn’t until he was almost at the minister’s office that he finally saw Victor.

His heart swelled with relief as he saw the man walking, a deep frown set upon his face. He was surrounded by four aurors, each looking burlier than the last, and Harry sagged as he stepped back into an empty doorway and watched them pass. 

He wanted to reach out, to touch Victor and feel him. His scar tingled and he took a step forward as if entranced before catching himself and shrinking down into a crouch, just as Victor turned his head to the side, looking just where Harry had been standing a moment before.

Harry trembled. He wanted, he needed — 

No!

He pushed himself up and to the side, ducking past the aurors surrounding Victor, and booked it for the door. But as he did so he moved just a little too far and brushed against the arm of one of the aurors. He cursed silently, instinctively hunching down to make himself a smaller target. He heard a shout followed by the red of a spell that fizzled out on the wall next to him as he ducked to the right and down the stairs.

Stupid, stupid. He should have just stayed still. But his scar had been thrumming, and his thoughts overwhelmed by just how close Victor was and he’d wanted nothing more than to bury himself in the man’s arms.

He shook away the thoughts, dodging ahead of a startled witch then through the door to level five, where Hermione worked. Her office was at the end of the hall, forcing Harry to duck into more than one door to avoid being felt by any of the patrolling aurors.

A shout came from behind him and Harry cursed as wands were drawn.

“ — Seen anyone?” he heard as the door was propped up by an auror who looked slightly out of breath. 

“No one here ‘cept us,” said the one nearest to the door waved a hand.

“Well, come help us look then,” the other said, looking a little annoyed. There was a bit of grumbling but eventually the hall cleared except for one guard at each end.

Harry grinned at his good luck, quickly making his way to the doorway now free of any aurors. He paused just outside, licking his lips nervously. How would she react to him? Would she reveal him to the aurors? Would she turn him away? Would she… would she be glad to see him? What if she was injured?

The door opened with only a gentle sigh, too quiet to alert anyone to his presence. He ducked inside, relaxing when he saw her, looking frazzled as ever as she scribbled furiously upon her parchment while referencing a large tome. As Hermione as Hermione could get, Harry thought rather fondly. 

It was only as he looked closer that he lost his smile. 

She looked exhausted. Her eyes were red with dark bags beneath them. Her skin was too pale and there was a slight tremble to her hands. He wondered if she had been targeted, but had simply gone straight back to work afterwards, despite the terrible shock? It would certainly explain why she looked so traumatized.

Harry debated with himself for a moment. He stuck his head out and checked for anyone coming near, before sidling back in and coming to stand next to her desk.

“Psst,” he hissed quietly.

She paused, a frown marring her brow, before resuming her scribbling with a slight shake of her head.

Harry tried again.

“Hermione,” he said in a loud whisper.

She paused again, this time looking a little worried. She looked up, her eyes flicking around her office, before pursing her lips and glancing down again.

“Hermione,” Harry said, just a little louder this time. “It’s me. It’s Harry.”

She froze, her eyes widening and her face paling even more. She opened her mouth, then closed it. She gently lowered her quill and closed her eyes, running a hand over her face. She turned then, an odd look upon her face as she looked in his direction.

“Harry,” she said, her voice a soft whisper.

He hesitated for a moment and then lowered his hood, watching her hopefully. Something like pain and fear flashed across her features and Harry felt guilt stir in his stomach. Had he truly damaged her so much in the past that her such was her instinctive reaction to him?

“I — “ he bit his lip nervously. “I heard about the attacks. I just wanted to make sure that you were okay. And just — you know, say hi…” 

She stared at him silently for a moment, her eyes glistening a little as she took him in. The silence stretched and Harry wondered if he’d made a mistake in revealing himself. He shuffled his feet and glanced at the doorway, though there didn’t seem to be anyone other than the two guards in the hall.

“You shouldn’t have come, Harry,” she said finally, sounding so very tired. 

“I’m sorry,” Harry said immediately, looking down. “I’m sorry. I know you probably don’t want to see me. And I’m sorry you suffered because of me. But I do care about you. Truly. I didn’t mean for you to get dragged into my messes. So — I’m sorry. And thank you. I’ll — um, I’ll leave, since you’re alright and all.” He shuffled backwards, reluctant, but not willing to force his presence upon her.

“Harry,” she said then before he got too far, uncertainty filling her voice. “He — are you alright?”

Harry blinked in confusion. “Of course I’m alright,” he said. “I mean, house arrest sucks and all, but I’m fine. I’ve got Victor.” He smiled a little crookedly. “I don’t deserve him, but I have him.”

Hermione looked pained, her knuckles white as she clenched her fists. Her eyes darted to the door behind him, then back to Harry. “You have to be careful,” she said finally, her voice trembling with a fear that Harry wasn’t used to hearing. Not in Hermione, such a brave and intelligent witch. “You have no idea what he’ll do — “  she broke off with an aborted noise that sounded worryingly close to a sob.

Something anxious wormed its way into his stomach upon seeing her like this. Harry frowned and stepped forward, disliking the way her eyes filled with tears. The way she held herself so stiffly, her lips trembling. “Hermione — “ he broke off as he heard voices in the corridor. An incredibly familiar voice. An odd mixture of guilt and anticipation chased all else from his mind and he quickly donned the hood of his cloak and stepped back against the bookshelf behind him.

“It’s a matter of business, if you don’t mind,” the man was saying. “Private in nature, you understand. I would be most pleased if you stayed out here while I talked with Miss Granger. I assure you, I will be in no danger.”

There was a sound of affirmation from the aurors and then Victor stepped into the room. His sharp eyes roved, pausing on Hermione, before finally resting on Harry. He closed the door behind him, his lips downturned. 

“Harry,” he said, sounding so disappointed that Harry’s heart lurched.

He thought about staying hidden. About pretending that he was not there. But his scar tingled and he could not bear to refuse the man. So he reached up and lowered his hood, nibbling on his lip as he stared down at the floor.

He heard a loud sigh. “Harry,” Victor said more sternly this time. “Look at me, Harry.” 

His eyes snapped up to meet the older man’s. For a moment he swore they flashed red, but Harry pushed the hallucination away. Control, control, he chanted in his mind. “Hi,” he said weakly. “I’m sorry, I — “

But Victor shook his head slowly, each movement like a knife to his heart as disappointment flooded the man’s features. “Harry, you promised me,” he said. 

Harry cringed.

Hermione made a small sound in the back of her throat, and Harry glanced at her, only to find her staring in horror at Victor. He frowned, about to reassure her that even if he was angry, Victor wouldn’t hurt him, but the mind healer was faster, stepping forward and clasping Harry’s arm.

“Now that you have seen for yourself that Miss Granger is indeed unhurt,” he turned a sharp eye on Hermione, who nodded frantically, looking pale, “it’s time to go home. If they find you here, they’ll know that I wasn’t with you the whole time. Not that anything will slip on your part, isn’t that right, Miss Granger?” He smiled affably, a stark contrast to the cold look in his eyes.

Harry shivered. “Hermione had nothing to do with this,” he defended, not wanting to see his friend threatened, even if it was for his own safety.

“And let’s keep it that way, shall we?” Victor said sharply.

Harry nodded slowly, in contrast to Hermione’s quick bobbing.

“Your hood, Harry,” Victor said. Harry raised it until he was once again fully invisible. “Now, you will stay next to me at all times. Your hand against mine so that I can feel that you are there. Understood?”

Harry nodded, before remembering that no one could see him. “Yes,” he said. 

“I do hope you will keep your word this time,” Victor said, and Harry felt the words pierce him like daggers.

“I will,” he said quietly, subdued. 

Victor turned back to Hermione. “Good day, Miss Granger.”

She wobbled a small bow, her lips pressed so tightly that Harry doubted any sounds could escape her.

Then Victor was turning and striding out the doorway and Harry hurried to keep pace, ensuring that his hand brushed Victor’s at all times. He stuck close to the man as the aurors fell into place around them. The trip was made uninterrupted until they reached the atrium.

“Victor,” Lucius Malfoy’s silky drawl reached their ears. 

Victor paused and Harry froze at his side, shrinking down behind the taller man. 

“Lucius,” Victor greeted, coolly but cordially. “I see you also have your own set of guards.” He gestured at the aurors accompanying the Malfoy lord.

Lucius’ lip curled. “Indeed. All for the death of a few mere — “ he paused, then smoothed his features to a cool smile. “Well, I suppose I simply hope that all of this is… taken care of soon. I’m sure you agree?”

Harry wanted nothing more than to curse Lucius’ smug face, but he knew he couldn’t do anything to put Victor at risk so he clamped his mouth shut and dug his fingers into his palms instead. 

“Of course,” Victor said smoothly. “I am sure that all of this will blow over very soon. In fact, I would not be surprised if they were apprehending the criminal as we speak.”

Something flashed across Lucius’ face and he dipped his head in acknowledgement. “Of course. You are absolutely correct.” His eyes flicked behind Victor and onto Harry’s hidden form for just a moment. Then he smiled. “I am glad to see that you are well and unaffected by all of the chaos. I bid you good evening then.” He gave a small bow, and upon receiving a nod from Victor in return, strode off.

Harry sagged as the man left them in peace, and almost missed his cue as Victor continued walking to the apparition zone. He hurried after him, and it was only due to the fact that his hand was pressed against Victor’s that he felt the small signal — the small flick of his hand — to stand in front of the man and against the wall. He did so immediately, not wishing to disappoint the man any further.

Victor stepped into the small circle after him and nodded to his guards. He turned slightly to hide his hand before grabbing Harry’s wrist and apparating them both home.

Harry thought that Victor might yell at him the minute they arrived home, but instead the man stayed silent, turning away from Harry to remove his cloak. He did not speak as he walked to his study and poured himself a glass of whisky. Nor did he look at Harry.

And Harry lingered miserably in the doorway, flinching as Victor’s glass clicked loudly upon his desk. He hunched as he heard the man sigh, a deep and tired sound.

“I’m sorry,” he said, little more than a whisper. He was sorry. But he’d had to know if they were alright. He couldn’t just sit still when those he loved were in danger…

The silence stretched, and until even Harry’s breathing sounded too loud to his own ears. Guilt curled, warring with his certainty that while he had broken his word, he hadn’t done anything wrong.

So why, then, did he feel so terrible?

“Harry,” Victor said finally, the name holding none of the usual warmth. It was steel laced with disappointment. “You gave me your word.”

Harry clenched his hands together, his fingers lacing and wringing. “I know,” he said, unable to look at Victor.

“I went to the ministry for your sake. To ease your worries. To check on your little friend. One who, I might add, turned her back on you years ago. And then you — you turn around and break your promise, compromising not only yourself, but myself as well — “ The man began to pace, a hand running through his hair. 

“I had to make sure you were okay,” Harry said, keeping his eyes on Victor’s feet, rather than his face. “I couldn’t stand the thought of you injured or — or worse — “ Harry’s voice cracked with the force of his emotions, his eyes welling at the mere idea that someone might catch Victor unawares. Might have the chance to curse him while his back was turned. And Harry would be trapped at home, unable to help him, not even aware that anything was wrong…

Harry’s scar tingled and he closed his eyes.

Victor paused, then sighed again. “Harry,” he said again, but gentler this time. Enough so that Harry opened his eyes and glanced up. Victor was watching him, a strange emotion on his face. And his eyes — red, red, red — 

Harry blinked away the hallucinations. Control, Harry.

“I know you meant well, Harry, but have I not taught you that all actions have consequences? What if you had been discovered? Harry, you’re under house arrest now, but if you break the rules, things could get much, much worse. And not only that. Hermione might be accused of aiding and abetting. And I — “ Victor shook his head. “I am the one in charge of you. They would think that I simply allowed you to leave. That I cannot be trusted. Or perhaps that I was a part of this terrible plan to set you loose upon wizarding Britain.”

Harry cringed more with each word. Of course he had known that the ministry was against him, but he hadn’t thought about it at all when he’d decided to leave.

“I took guardianship of you so that I could keep you safe. Not so that you could go gallivanting into a ministry full of aurors.”

“I know,” Harry said, his gaze lowering again. 

“Do you not trust me, Harry?”

“Of course I do!” Harry exclaimed, eyes snapping up, wide and shocked at the question. There was no one he trusted more.

“And am I not the one teaching you such dangerous and powerful magic?”

“You are,” Harry said.

“Then do you not trust that I can defend myself?”

“I — “ Harry broke off. He cleared his throat and tried again. “I do,” he whispered.

“Then why, in Merlin’s name, did you risk everything like that?”

And Harry couldn’t answer. He stared down at his feet, his vision blurred with tears of guilt and shame. He really hadn’t thought before leaping. Just like his days in Hogwarts. Had he learned nothing all these years?

A set of polished leather shoes entered his vision and a large hand cupped his cheek, bringing his face up to look into deep brown eyes. Harry trembled with the intensity that burned behind Victor’s gaze.

“You broke my faith in you, Harry. I hope you understand. There are consequences to all actions.”

Harry’s heart thudded, dull and heavy and painful in his chest. He reached up and grasped at Victor’s wrist, pressing his hand closer as he leaned into the touch. “I’m sorry,” he said, tears slipping down his cheeks. “I’m sorry.”

“I know, Harry,” Victor said, unmoving. “I know.”

And that night, Harry begged and pleaded, but there was no release for him, no satisfaction. No warm approval in Victor’s eyes. 

And Harry wished he’d never left home. 

“Such a sweet, foolish little boy you are,” Voldemort crooned, a skeletal finger tracing down Harry’s cheek. “Don’t worry, my sweet soul. Just when you think you’re safe,” he laughed, high and cold, “I’ll be there.”

Harry woke up screaming the next morning. He sobbed as Victor stroked his hair, curling into the man and shaking. 

“You’re safe, Harry. Just trust in me. You’re safe.”

And slowly Harry unfurled, his eyes red and swollen, his cheeks stained with tears. Victor urged him to the bathroom where he freshened himself up. Then he changed into the soft robes that Victor held out for him, relishing the sweet touches and gentle pampering. He didn’t deserve it. Truly, he did not. But he could not help but press into the man’s touch, a pleasant tingle running from his scar to his heart. 

“Hermione said something strange,” Harry said as they sat down for breakfast. “She said something about having to be careful. About not knowing what ‘he’ will do. I don’t know who she meant by ‘he’, but she was trying to warn me…”

“Was she?” Victor’s eyes narrowed, and for a moment, the man looked cold, distant in his anger. 

Harry shivered, and drew back slightly.

Immediately the doctor’s gaze softened. “I hope she did not frighten you,” he said.

Harry shook his head. “No, I’m just — worried, you know? What if she’s being threatened, or — is in some kind of dangerous situation — “

Victor shook his head. “No, I do not believe such to be the case. I had not wished to bring this up, as it is a rather unpleasant topic, but I believe it best if you know.”

Harry nodded, leaning closer.

“I believe there is someone in the ministry who is looking to have you locked up. This situation,” he gestured between the two of them, ”is just the precursor. I believe that they are simply waiting for an opportunity to label you as dangerous and unsafe, that they might commit you without any repercussions.”

Harry’s eyes widened, horror sprouting within him. “What?”

“Harry, they’re worried about the influence you have. As the boy-who-lived, you wield quite a bit of power, you know. The ministry is worried that you’ll use it against them. Thus, they wish to curb your potential.”

“But — “ Harry protested. “I haven’t even done anything!”

“Whispers of the dark lord was enough to make them nervous. Don’t underestimate the power of fear, Harry.”

Harry slumped back. “So it really is a good thing you found me before anyone else did.” He glanced up hesitantly, wondering if he’d see the same distance in Victor’s eyes as he had yesterday. But the man was simply nodding. “How did you find me, anyway?” He asked, rather curious. “I was wearing my invisibility cloak.”

Victor took a sip of his tea and set the cup down with a gentle clink. “There is a tracking charm on all of your possessions,” he said finally, a slight grimace marring his features for a moment.

Harry straightened in indignant surprise. “What?”

“As ordered by the ministry,” Victor continued, “in order for you to be able to keep all of your possessions under your own care, each one had to include a tracking charm. Luckily,” he said, raising his hand to forestall Harry’s questions, “I was able to place them myself. Thus, when I saw a flash of your sneakers in the ministry yesterday, I knew exactly how to find you. You are lucky that I was the one in charge of your tracking charms.” He eyed Harry with a stern look.

Harry wilted just a little. “Yeah,” he admitted just a little sullenly. “Thanks,” he said after a moment, forcing away his ire. It wasn’t Victor he was angry at, after all. It was the ministry. He hated the thought that they could control so much of his life. Could invade his privacy like that. The thought of them putting their hands on the photo album of his parents made his skin crawl. 

So he forced the thoughts away. “You still have to interact with Malfoy much?” He wrinkled his nose.

Victor eyed him amusedly. “Indeed I do. And while a little on the pompous side, he was the one who recommended my services when Umbridge brought her concerns regarding your wellbeing to the ministry’s attention.”

Harry flushed a little but nodded. He should be grateful, really, he just couldn’t help but think of how Draco Malfoy had belittled him his whole time at Hogwarts. How Lucius had slipped the diary — 

No. Harry cut that thought short. Lucius had done nothing, because there was no Voldemort. He glanced up into Victor’s dark eyes. Brown, not red. A handsome nose and a head full of hair. Nothing like the monster of his nightmares.

Harry smiled a little ruefully. “Sorry,” he said. He really needed to think before speaking. And hadn’t he just sworn that he would do better? 

Victor’s lips curled, his eyes glinting in amusement. “I know.”

Harry placed his fork down after finishing his last bite. He looked up hopefully. “Will we be practicing magic today?” He was prepared for Victor to tell him no, that he didn’t deserve such teachings, and was delighted when the man nodded.

“I shall be pushing you more than usual,” he said, his eyes gleaming. “Perhaps keeping you mentally occupied will curb your lack of self control.”

Harry winced but nodded, obediently following the man as he led them to the practice room. He stretched his shoulders and flexed his fingers before grabbing his wand from his pocket. He watched Victor move about the room, flicking his wand and activating the safety spells. Then he pointed his wand at the end of the room and conjured three targets.

Three… rather familiar looking targets.

Harry glanced from the three horrendous figures to Victor, then back again. “Victor,” he said a little uncertainly. “I’m not sure…”

“I had hoped that you would be ready for this by now,” Victor said, frowning disappointedly at Harry.

He winced, shame flashing through him like the stab of a cold dagger. “I can do it,” he said hurriedly, not wanting to see such an expression upon the man’s face. “I was just… surprised, is all. I didn’t expect you to make the targets look like… them…”

Victor’s face gentled approvingly, and Harry basked in the look. “You never know who your enemy might be. Family. Old friends. Or even someone masquerading as someone you knew. If you are not ready to strike them down, they will take you down first.”

Harry nodded, though he couldn’t help but glance uncertainly once more at the targets. They looked so very realistic, from the way they struggled, their eyes darting around, then moving back to glare at him, as if it was his fault that they were in this position. Victor had somehow even managed to have Uncle Vernon’s face turn that mottled purple colour it always did when something ‘unnatural’ happened.

“But they’re muggles,” Harry said finally.

“Yes,” Victor said, something cold in his voice. “And we must not forget just how dangerous they can be. Just how much they can hurt us, given the chance.” His gaze pierced Harry, who finally nodded once more, pushing down his hesitance.

“Alright,” he said. “But I would only ever defend myself against them.”

And Victor smiled, something akin to amusement flashing across his features. “Of course, Harry. I know that.”

And Harry felt like he was missing something, but nonetheless he positioned himself across from the targets — the Dursleys. They looked a little older now. Aunt Petunia had some streaks of silver in her hair, and Dudley looked as if he might have lost a little bit of weight. But the fear and the anger in their eyes was all too familiar and Harry found himself clenching his fist around his wand as he thought of his cupboard and his broken toy soldiers and the longing he had felt his whole life for someone who cared for him. Someone like — 

“Are you ready, then?” Victor asked, a warm hand coming to rest on Harry’s shoulder.

He steeled himself and nodded. “What spell?” He asked, eyeing the Dursleys. He was still a little disturbed by the whole thing, but Victor knew what he was doing and he trusted the man explicitly. 

“This spell,” Victor said as he positioned Harry’s arm, “causes instant death.”

Harry’s eyes widened, horror forming as he jerked his head to look up at the mind healer. “But — “

Victor held up a hand, silencing him. “Not,” he said with a quirk of his lips, “the killing curse.”

Harry sagged, exhaling in relief. Then he frowned. “Then…”

“This curse can be blocked by a strong enough shield, or countered mid-air if the wizard is strong enough,” Victor explained as he moved Harry’s arm through the motions of the spell. “This spell is less popular in part because of that, and in part because it is more complicated to cast. However, should you succeed, you will be rewarded with a… hm. A boost to your powers, I suppose one could say. Less so when it is a muggle, however, that bit of power might be enough to see you through your next duel.”

Harry nibbled his lip, his stomach roiling slightly at the thought. “So this spell… steals power?”

“Not exactly,” Victor said. “Whenever someone is killed, it releases energy. This spell simply collects that energy and sends it back to you. Don’t worry. You are not desecrating the sanctity of the dead.”

Harry flushed slightly, but nodded, feeling relieved. It was still a little strange, and he wasn’t sure that he could even properly cast the spell, but he supposed he could give it a try, if only to ensure that he was able to protect those he loved. 

“The name of the spell,” Victor said, “is vitafurtum.”

Vitafurtum,” Harry repeated obediently. Even without any intent behind his words, he felt a surge of magic — a heady rush that left him slightly breathless. His scar tingled, sending shivers of pleasure down his spine, and making his thoughts a little fuzzy. The end of his wand sparked dark purple and black. 

It took a few moments before he could catch his breath. He glanced up at Victor, who was watching him with a strange expression. Greed, perhaps. Or hunger. It made him flush and glance down. 

“So very good, my sweet soul. You weren’t even trying. Do it again, but mean it this time.” Victor’s lips brushed Harry’s ear as he leaned down to murmur his encouragement, the press of his body hot against Harry’s back. 

Harry pointed his wand at Uncle Vernon. He opened his mouth to speak the words, then hesitated. Because the primal fear in the man’s eyes seemed all too real. There was saliva running down the man’s mouth from under the gag, and sweat stained his clothes, almost as if he was real.

“They hurt you,” Victor reminded him. “They would do more if they could. Weren’t their actions proof enough? Locking you up, starving you, encouraging their son to beat you up. They would do far worse now if given the chance. They hate you. You can see it in their eyes. They loathe your very existence. These are the type of people who would eliminate you without a second thought. And thus, you must act first. Do it, Harry. Cast the spell. Just say the words.”

And Harry did, his scar tingling. The words slipped so easily from his lips because Victor’s encouragement resonated in his mind, digging deep into the pain and resentment that had simmered all these years, building into a hate that he could not quite deny, even if he tried to ignore it. He hated them. Hated them for what they had done. For hurting him. For never loving him. 

Vitafurtum,” he said, his voice quiet and yet resonating with the immensity of the magic he was casting. Power rolled through him, dark and hungry, surging through his wand and across the room to sink into Uncle Vernon with a screech of delight. One moment the man was thrashing, straining to escape, and the next he was slumped, eyes vacant but for a dark purple that flashed within them. 

Then the spell cried out in triumph, as if alive, and darted back to Harry. He jerked back instinctively, but Victor kept him in place, his wand still outstretched. And the magic leapt back through the wood, and into Harry.

And — oh.

Oh.

Ah,” Harry gasped, his eyelids fluttering as power rolled through him, dark and heavy and eager to be used. His scar thrummed in pleasure and his thoughts muddled and Harry wondered if this was normal. It was just a target, right? How could he experience such a thing if there was no life taken?

“Do it again, Harry,” Victor said, and Harry’s scar pulsed in agreement and his magic writhed, begging to be free, to be used.

And Harry could barely think. Could only look into Aunt Petunia’s hateful eyes and whisper the words once more. Could only watch as her life was plucked away by his spell and brought back to him, giving him a high such as he had never felt before. And then his wand was pointed at Dudley. And Dudley… was crying. He was sobbing, fat tears leaking from his piggy eyes, and Harry faltered, his brows furrowing as something niggled at the back of his mind. 

“Harry,” Victor reminded him of his task. His duty. To grow stronger. To protect.

And all other thought fled and his scar hummed and Harry cast. His cousin slumped, as dead as his aunt and his uncle and Harry wanted to laugh and cry and throw up and Merlin but he felt drunk on all the power currently racing through him. And why, why did he feel such pleasure from his scar? 

“Well done, Harry,” Victor said, a hand cupping his cheek. The man was grinning, a fierce look. Not happy, no. Pleased, though, and Harry preened. 

“I feel…” Harry swayed, collapsing into the man. The world was spinning and Harry thought he might have giggled as Victor guided him to a chair. He collapsed into it, his head lolling to the side. 

“Perhaps three was too many,” the man murmured, lips quirked. “But no matter. It is done.” He swept Harry’s hair from his eyes. “Can you feel it, Harry? The power just waiting to be used.”

Harry nodded it, then groaned as the world swum before him. “Is it… s’posed to be like this?” 

“Until you’re used to it,” Victor said as he pulled Harry’s arm onto his lap, his wand still clenched tightly. 

“I might — “ Harry protested as his wand was left pointed straight at the man. Flashes of waking up and cursing Victor made him flinch.

“Have no fear, my precious soul. All will be well. You’re feeling dizzy, yes? Light headed? Having a hard time focusing?”

Harry nodded slowly, staring at the man a little dazedly. Victor’s eyes flashed red just for a moment, and Harry forced himself to close his eyes before his hallucination could worsen. Before he could compare just how Victor’s expression mirrored Voldemort’s when he’d touched Harry’s scar in the graveyard. No — in his nightmare.

“‘M not thinking straight,” Harry said, his words a little slurred.

“That’s alright, Harry. I know a spell that will make it better. It will use up the excess power. Make it go away. And then, when it’s all done, you will feel better. Much, much better.”

“Okay,” Harry agreed. Because Victor always knew best. Victor, who was smiling, his eyes dark and his gaze intent. Predatory. Harry felt rather like a little bird trapped against the glass, watching as something larger, something powerful, came his way.

“Focus, Harry,” Victor said, pulling Harry’s attention back to him. “Repeat the words I speak. Do you understand me?”

And Harry nodded. Because he’d done so well so far. He’d pleased Victor. And he wished to continue doing so. He liked it best when Victor was smiling at him.

Scindere, laniavi, abrumpere, vincio,” said Victor, his eyes gleaming, dark and delighted as he watched Harry obey him.

Harry spoke the words, the power within him stilling for a moment, the hair on his arms raising. And with each word he spoke, Victor’s grin widened, until, as the last syllable fell from his lips, then man began to laugh.

And Harry screamed.

Pain, pain, pain.

Oh Merlin, it hurt. It was agony. As if someone had reached in and torn him in two, ripping apart his very being. It burned, a hot and fierce pain that dug its claws into him and then pulled, shredding as they moved up and up until he thought they might claw through his brain and leave him little more than a mess of blood and gore.

He was crying, he thought. Something warm dripped down his cheeks, and he felt a hand in his hair. Could hear the sound of laughter not his own.

And his scar pulsed in time with the claws, that one small spot of relief to the never-ending pain. And Merlin, if only it would stop. If only it would leave, or kill him, and relieve him of this misery. What had he done. What had he done to deserve this? He’d been good. He’d done everything Victor had told him to.

So why?

And perhaps he had spoken out loud, for he felt lips brush against his forehead, sweet and cool in the heat of his agony. 

“Almost there, sweet soul of mine. Almost there.”

And Harry was drowning, anchored only by the hands that held him, by the lips that brushed against his ear and the voice that murmured. All else was agony. A hellish torment that crashed through him, wave upon wave. 

Then finally, finally it began to fade, and Harry was left, panting and sobbing. The final remnants of pain lingered, and Harry felt… hollow. As if he was missing something vital. But he didn’t know what. All he knew was that something inside him mourned.

“Why,” he moaned as he looked up at the man from his position on the floor. Had he fallen? Been placed? He could not remember.

“You did so well, Harry,” Victor crooned. “The final hurdle. The last test. You have proven yourself worthy. Ah, precious soul. You are mine now, and I am yours. Forever.”

Harry could see, as the man bent over him, a small rip in his shirt, still steaming faintly, and underneath it a strange scar that looked oddly similar to the one on his forehead. He was not sure why, but he felt oddly pleased at the sight. He wanted to look closer. Wanted to touch it. But as he moved his arm, Victor grabbed his hand and leaned forward, his leg swinging over to straddle Harry’s chest.

Their lips met, and Harry thought that perhaps he should be angry with Victor. Had the man not made him cast a spell that brought him such pain?

But his scar was tingling so pleasantly, and it was as if his soul yearned to be closer to the man, for he arched up into his touch, moaning as the man pulled at his shirt, buttons ripping in his haste to reveal the skin underneath, and slid his hand down his torso, his touch electrifying. 

And Harry wrapped his tired arms around Victor’s neck, wanting — needing — to be closer. Because the closer they were, the less empty he felt. The less he felt like there was something missing. Like there was something wrong with him.

Victor… Victor made the pain go away. He replaced it with pleasure, sinfully sweet, as his fingers trailed up, pinching Harry’s nipples until he whined and writhed away from the pain and yet needing more. Then Victor’s hand circled Harry’s neck, his thumb tracing the adam’s apple, before pushing downwards, forcing Harry flat, forcing him to gasp as pressure was placed in such a delicate place, and suddenly it was hard to breathe.

Victor kept his hand there, grinning the whole while as he used his other hand to flick his wand, banishing Harry’s clothes to a pile next to them. 

And then Harry was exposed, vulnerable, his pulse fluttering, his breaths stuttering as as Victor’s hand squeezed as if wanting to feel Harry’s life beat through his veins, and Harry’s mouth opened in a desperate attempt for more air. 

His thoughts felt oddly warped. He could just barely suck in enough air. He tugged at Victor’s wrist, but the man felt immovable. Harry whined, a rasping sound, as Victor’s other hand wrapped around his cock and began to stroke him.

His hips thrust upwards, his body twisting in pleasure, and he couldn’t bring himself to care that every time he moved, he pressed himself further into Victor’s grip, choking himself in his desire.

Victor’s touch was electric, sending jolts of pleasure through his body. His hand felt rough against his sensitive skin and Harry whined as it squeezed him almost painfully tight. But he couldn’t think of words of protest. His scar tingled and his mind was filled with such desperate need to closer. To be touched. To be filled. To be complete.

“You’ve been so good, my precious soul. I’m going to make you come, again and again.” He leaned forward until their lips are brushing. He kissed Harry so sweetly, a soft touch as if to soothe Harry’s rasping breaths. “I’m going to fuck you, my soul. Make you scream for me. Make you beg and plead.”

The words shot straight to Harry’s cock, and it took only two more strokes for him to come, his cry a gurgle as he arched, his eyes falling shut as he pressed further into Victor’s hold, his body shuddering in fiery heat. 

He felt Victor lick the tears that escaped his eyes. Felt him run his fingers through the seed that lay cooling on his stomach. Felt him smear it across his skin, then bring it up and trace Harry’s lips until his tongue darted out and he took Victor’s fingers into his mouth, revelling in the feeling of having Victor inside him.

Harry opened his mouth as Victor leaned back, his hand releasing Harry’s throat. He coughed a little, inhaling greedily even as he immediately missed the touch. He was bruised, he was sure, but somehow he didn’t mind. A distant part of him knew that there was something wrong, but it was overshadowed as the rest of him preened at the fact that Victor had marked him so clearly. Marked what was his. Because he had done well. He had pleased Victor. Had proven himself worthy.

So short was the distance that parted them now, and yet to Harry it felt far too wide. He reached  out and Victor chuckled. 

“You have been patient, haven’t you, Harry,” he said, ignoring Harry’s grasping hand as he parted Harry’s legs, slipping between them and sliding his hands down his inner thighs. Then he pushed them up against Harry’s chest to reveal his hole, tight and waiting. 

Victor released Harry’s legs but Harry held them in place with his arms, well attuned to the man’s expectations.

With a flick of his wand, Victor’s fingers were slick with lube and he traced along Harry’s hole, pressing gently until Harry squirmed, impatient. So long he had waited. And oh, how he needed.

“Victor,” he rasped. “Please.”

And Victor’s eyes flashed red for a moment as he smiled. “You sound so good when you beg for me,” he said, pushing his finger forward until it slipped inside. And Harry let out a sigh of pleasure at the new sensation. It was a little strange, but it was Victor, and Harry loved everything Victor gave him.

Harry’s cock began to twitch once more. It was sensitive still, and he shivered as Victor traced up the length of it, dipping his finger into the slit. His body jerked and he tossed his head to the side where he could see the forms of the Dursleys, slumped in death. 

His eyes slipped shut as another finger slipped into him, stretching him. His mouth dropped open as Victor’s fingers pressed against his prostate and he released a breathy gasp at the deep pleasure that began to form, curling his toes and turning his knuckles white as he gripped at his legs. 

He was hard again, and he cried out as Victor flicked the tip of his cock, the pain a sharp jolt that made him clench around Victor’s fingers, his eyes flying open as he turned his head to meet Victor’s heated gaze. And Harry felt so very pleased that he had this man’s attention so focused upon him. That it was he who received this man’s touches.

Another finger was added and Harry panted as Victor curled them just so, brushing against his prostate again and again. Slowly, slowly, the man moved his fingers, and Harry moaned as heat built, so close, so close, he just…

“Please,” he said, his tongue darting out to moisten his lips. “Please, more.”

Victor laughed delightedly. “Lovely,” he said as he sped up the thrusting of his fingers. “So lovely.”

And Harry gasped as the sensations built, warm and slow, until he felt like he was going to overflow and be swept away by the rhythmic motions and the feel of Victor’s skin against his. The sensation of finally, finally being filled. The feeling of being whole.

“Come for me, Harry,” Victor murmured, eyes dark, so dark. Lips parted as he stared avidly at the young man writhing beneath him.

And Harry did. He came with a keen, his whole body seizing in pleasure, deep and slow, as it curled through him in a heated caress. It moved, ever outwards, licking at his every nerve until he was shuddering from the sensations of Victor’s fingers moving still, more, more, more. 

Unable to handle it, Harry released his legs and twisted his body, a small sob escaping as he tried to escape the sensation. And for a moment he hated himself, because how could he wish to be parted from Victor? How could he move away from that which made him feel whole?

But Victor was crooning, unusually patient with Harry as he removed his fingers and stilled his motions with gentle touches. He did not touch Harry’s cock, soft and spent as it was. He did not place his fingers back. Instead he massaged the muscles of Harry’s things. He dug his fingers into the divots of Harry’s hips. And he moved forward, his hands moving under Harry’s legs and pushing them back up as he placed himself above the younger man and bent down to kiss him.

Harry sighed into the kiss, their lips moving, breaths mingling. And Victor’s tongue slipped into his mouth, a mockery of what had just occurred. Of what had yet to come. 

Victor drew back slightly and Harry strained to keep him, whimpering when he could not.

“My trousers, Harry,” Victor commanded.

Moving almost before his brain could quite catch the order, Harry unbuttoned and unzipped them and freed Victor’s cock. It was hot and heavy, already so hard as he took it in his hands, squeezing gently and tracing it almost reverently. 

Victor shifted until his hips were lined up with Harry’s. “Guide me,” he said, sounding a little breathless under Harry’s ministrations.

Harry’s eyes darted up to Victor’s face. The man looked fierce in his lust, greedy as he looked at Harry’s body. And Harry wanted. He wanted this man to fill him completely. Yet as he shifted, he could feel just how tender he was. Could he really… again?

Victor’s eyes flashed red. “You would deny me?” He whispered, his voice dark and cold. “After everything I have given you?”

And Harry shook his head immediately, fervently. “No,” he said. “Never.” And he guided the man’s cock to his hole, lining it up so that all that Victor had to do was push.

And he did. He pierced Harry with one sharp thrust, sheathing himself fully. Harry’s head fell back and he cried out as he was stretched upon Victor’s cock, far more, far deeper than a few fingers. 

It was so much. He was so full. His walls were so sensitive and he squirmed as Victor began to thrust, setting a quick pace as if he just could not wait. Could not resist the lure that was Harry’s open, pliant body. 

And Harry groaned as Victor pressed against his prostate with each pass, nudging the sensitive nerves again and again. He writhed, wanting to get away from the stimulation, and yet wanting to be closer and closer. For he did not think he could bear to be parted from the man ever again. Could not bear to be separated from the one who completed him.

“My soul,” Victor groaned above him as he thrust in quick, precise motions, his shirt wrinkling against the strain of his shoulders. “You’re mine. Forever, now. Death shall never touch us.” And he laughed, high and cold.

And as Harry stared up at him with wide eyes, he saw the man’s features flicker. Red eyes, mere slits where he should have a nose. Skin pale as moonlight. Just illusions, he told himself as he moved in time with the man’s thrusts. But even if it wasn’t, he knew to his everlasting shame that such would be alright as well. Anything. Anything to feel whole.

Pleasure tingled from his scar and through his body and for the third time his cock twitched. He winced at the raw feeling. Overstimulated, spent, it almost hurt to feel such pleasure. And as Victor leaned closer, the soft material of his shirt felt rough and he whimpered as it rubbed painfully. 

It shouldn’t have felt good. His body should not have responded like this. But even so, he could feel his cock swelling with each thrust. He sobbed, the pain and pleasure mixing until he couldn’t quite tell which was which and all of it was ecstasy. 

“Ah,” he gasped as Victor pressed lower yet, the heat of his skin traveling through his shirt and blending with the painful friction on his cock. He reached up and pulled the man closer, his muscles clenching as cold tendrils of pain mixed with the heat of pleasure, culminating in a beautiful sensation that had him crying out. “Victor,” he panted, eyes half lidded as his muscles trembled from exhaustion. “It — ah — it hurts.”

Victor did not pause or even slow down as he moved his head down, their foreheads touching. Harry’s scar tingled. 

“I can feel how much you like it, Harry. So eager for me still. Ah, how perfect, my soul.” Victor bared his teeth. It was almost a smile but for the greed and lust that tainted its edges.

And Harry could but sob in response, unable to deny it as he felt another orgasm build, thrust by thrust. It was so raw, so sharp this time. It clawed at him, slicing through his veins like so many daggers. 

Harry’s body moved to Victor’s thrusts — to his will. He was encompassed by the man, inside and out. Filled with a darkness that was so very familiar. In his mind he could hear cold, high laughter. Could feel the phantom pain as a finger traced his scar. And he shivered, disgusted and aroused by the mere memory. By the mere thought of such pain, such a touch. 

His cock twitched painfully and he grasped desperately at Victor’s arms as the man sped up, his thrusts wilder now, but no less powerful, rendering Harry almost incapable of thought, of speech. All he knew was that like this — like this he felt whole.

The sensations scraped their way up his spine, to the ends of his limbs, radiating from where they were joined. And above him Victor growled, his body flush against Harry’s as he moved, his lips brushing against Harry’s neck before biting down fiercely until Harry cried out, his body tensing as, for the third impossible time, he came. 

His body protested, each spurt weak as he was already so drained, but the pleasure could not be denied and he shuddered, feeling perhaps more pain than anything else as his muscles seized once more, clamping down upon Victor until the man groaned, his thrusts turning erratic. 

And Harry’s vision blurred with tears as his body was overstimulated. He wanted it to stop, and he never wanted it to end. Could not bear to think of Victor leaving him empty and hollow. He clung to the man as he felt him stiffen, felt something hot released inside him. And he cried out in dismay as the man pulled out from him, even as his body felt such relief as he was given reprieve. 

“Victor,” he rasped, his fingers digging desperately into the man’s arms. “Please, I need…”

“Oh, my soul,” Victor crooned, propping himself up and wiping away Harry’s tears, triumph in his smile.

He was so close, but Harry was spent. His energy gone. He could not bring himself to move. Could not raise himself up. Could not press himself any closer. 

Harry’s eyes fluttered shut as the man placed his hand upon his cheek. The contact felt good and his scar tingled pleasantly and like this he began to relax. He wanted more. Wanted to be filled one more time. But he was so very tired and his body so very sore. 

“I will always give you what you need, sweet Harry. Never fear. I will be here with you. Always.”

Harry smiled as sleep began to claim him, Victor’s name falling from his lips one last time. Then he fell into the darkness of sleep.