At some point Harry's eyes had fluttered closed. He was thankful for the dreamless nap and was groggy when he first awoke. He found himself lounged across one of the armchairs in the room he had occupied for the past two days.
Harry looked around the empty room, Voldemort was nowhere to be found. The boy stood from the chair and walked towards the window to peek outside. Kneeling on the window seat, he was greeted with the same sight as before- a large lush green landscape and a forest in the distance. The sky was a mix of both orange and red as the sun was setting, and Harry felt slight guilt over his admiration of the sight before him. He shouldn't be enjoying any part of this little 'vacation'. I am away from the Dursleys though… he thought with relief. Wait a minute, the Dursleys! Dudley! What happened to him?! Why had he only thought of his cousin now? Harry tried to remember the Dementor attack in his foggy memories. The last thing he could truly remember was the screaming, but what was before that? He was running towards the other boys, he was going to save them… what had happened?
Harry made a mental note to ask Voldemort later.
With a sigh, Harry thought about his predicament, confused by the entire ordeal. How, in only a matter of days, had Harry become comfortable in Voldemort's presence? Even if only slightly? Did he trust the man? No, of course not. Or, maybe yes? He couldn't explain why, but something about Voldemort lured him in. Harry assumed it was the lure of the voice, of the thing that had healed him all those nights and had given him hope during his abuse-filled summer with the Dursleys. But was it something more than that? Was being here locked away almost… a relief? He was away from the Dursleys for one, but also away from the war. Suddenly Voldemort didn't want to kill him, claimed to not want to harm Harry at all. Harry felt strangely safe here, away from all the constant fighting, planning, and scheming. Here he was away from that, away from the constant Dark vs. Light, Good vs. Evil. Dumbledore had always told Harry that Voldemort was a supreme manipulator… was Voldemort just lying to make Harry feel safe? Was he being manipulated?
Harry was so confused…
'Master will not be pleased if snakeling tries to escape through the window'
Harry spun around at the voice. 'What the-?'
Harry looked down to the floor and locked eyes with the snake. On instinct, he jumped backwards onto the window seat behind him.
'Are you really that scared of me, human?'
'I'm not scared of you… you just- you always seem to pop up out of nowhere.' Harry lamely said, slowly easing off the ledge, trying to save some dignity. He was very wary of the creature. 'Why are you so big?'
'I don't know.' Nagini said like it was the dumbest question she'd ever heard.
Harry looked around the room awkwardly while trying to think of something to say. 'So uh…'
'Master says Nagini can't hurt you.' Harry just stared at the snake. 'Nagini will protect snakeling.'
'Snakeling? Are you talking about me?'
'Of course, what other snakeling is there?'
'Um, I don't know? Please don't call me that, I'm not a snake.'
There was a slight pause in conversation as the snake seemed to consider the request.
'Nagini will call you snakeling.'
Harry had a feeling he would not win this battle, and decided to end the conversation. He felt ridiculous talking to a snake anyway. Keeping distance between himself and Nagini, Harry made his way to the bathroom to take care of business.
As he washed his hands, Harry almost felt the need to laugh at his predicament. Here he was, hanging out in Voldemort's bedroom, talking to a snake almost three times as big as he. Harry considered for a moment if this was all just some twisted, sick dream that he would soon wake up from… he knew it wasn't.
The moment Harry opened the bathroom door he was bombarded.
'You smell like Master.'
'I- what? Excuse me?'
Nagini was on the floor, blocking his exit.
'Snakeling smells like Master.'
'Ok then… that's weird.'
'No it's not. I do not smell like him.'
'Yes you do.'
'No. I don't. That's not true.'
'YES it is!'
'NO, IT'S NOT!'
'Ah… so I see you two are getting along…'
Harry looked towards the sound of the voice. Voldemort was closing the main door behind him, trying to hide a smirk.
'Your dumb snake won't shut up!'
Nagini hissed, making Harry jump and walk further back into the large bathroom.
'Nagini, please move so Harry can stop hiding in the bathroom.'
'I'm not hiding!'
'Snakeling was hiding.'
'ENOUGH.' Voldemort hissed, growing quickly tired of their bickering. "You two are so much hassle."
"Why don't you let me leave then?" Harry said with less eagerness than usual.
Voldemort gave Harry a look before walking over to his desk. Harry started to follow him and it wasn't until Voldemort sat down and looked curiously at the boy that Harry stopped. Had he really just been following Voldemort around like a puppy? The Master gets home and suddenly Harry is at his feet begging for attention?
Harry unsuccessfully tried nonchalantly to turn and walk over to the window seat instead. He took a seat, leaned against the wall, and looked out the window. They stayed like this for a while, sitting in a strangely comfortable silence. Harry glanced over at Voldemort every few minutes to see if he was looking at him, but the man simply continued on with whatever work he had to do, completely ignoring his captive.
Harry remembered what he had to ask. "So uh, you said you were the one who rescued me from the Dementors right? Did you see other people in the playground? Other boys?"
Voldemort stopped what he was doing and looked towards the window. Harry was sitting there with his knees hugged to his chest. "I saw a group of boys, yes."
"Do you know what happened to them?"
"There was another Dementor..."
"Yeah, I remember that, but do you know what happened to them… did they get away?"
Voldemort knew what Harry was asking. "You wish to know what happened to your cousin."
Harry was surprised that Voldemort even knew of Dudley. Then again, this was Voldemort- he knew everything about Harry. "Yes, do you know if he made it?"
Voldemort paused for a moment. "He got kissed, Harry."
The room was silent for a few moments. Harry wasn't upset per se, but yet… he felt something. Whether it was sadness or guilt he did not know, but he was not indifferent over hearing the news.
"Are you sure?" he asked.
"Yes. I saw before apparating away with you."
"Oh. Ok, thanks." Harry said, not entirely sure what to say. He felt odd. He wondered what Vernon and Petunia were doing, if they even noticed that Harry had disappeared. He thought of them finding Dudley's body… Harry shook his head, he didn't want to think of such things. Harry hated Vernon, truly hated the man. But Petunia… sometimes Harry caught her looking at him with a kind of pity. In a weird way Harry felt sorry for her too.
Harry looked back out the window and caught sight of the garden. "One day I want to go outside. I want to see the garden."
Voldemort seemed surprised by this sudden change in topic. "No."
"No? It's just outside! I can see it from here- you can go with me!"
"That's a bad reason."
"Maybe in the future."
"Maybe." Voldemort said in a way that made Harry think there was a very slight chance.
Harry looked back outside towards the grand garden. "One day I wanna go see it…"
"One day? You make it sound like you're going to be here a while." Voldemort caught Harry's slip up.
"Oh. Well, you said Dumbledore probably doesn't know I'm here right? Or at least, maybe not yet…" Harry unsuccessfully tried to cover what he said. Did he really expect to be here for a long time? Did he want to be here? Away from the Dursleys and the war? Did he want to just stay in this room that was slowly becoming his safe haven?
"Hm." Voldemort simply mumbled, resuming his work.
Harry watched the sun set completely and stared out into the night sky. The sound of his stomach growling suddenly echoed in the room. Without looking up from his work, Voldemort snapped his fingers. A house elf appared.
"Harry, tell Tippy what you want for dinner."
Taking slight offence to the man's curt command, Harry turned to the elf. "Uh, what do you have?" Voldemort scoffed.
"Anything you wants sir! Tippy can gets anything you wants!"
"Uh… how about a sandwich?"
"Yes! Tippy can gets that for sir! What kind does sir wants?"
"Yes! Tippy will get any kind!" Harry watched as the elf disappeared with a pop.
"You can have anything you want and you ask for a sandwich?" Voldemort asked.
"I didn't want her to have to go to a lot of trouble for it."
"That's what they're there for Harry."
"I just… felt bad."
"Next time tell her what you want- she's not smart enough to care."
"You don't have to be mean to them!" Harry said, getting defensive.
"I'm not being mean, Harry. It's true. That's why house elves are servants."
It took all of Harry's self control not to launch into a tirade. He knew he sounded just like Hermione, always standing up for smaller creatures. Hermione. Harry's heart sank. Had he really not thought of her or Ron since the playground? Had he really been stuck in this room and not thought of them once? What was happening to him…?
A pop broke Harry's thoughts and he looked towards the house elf, standing with a plate in her small hands. "Ah, thanks Tippy."
"Sir is welcome! Sir is very welcome!" she said as she handed the plate over.
Voldemort's gruff voice spoke, "Tippy, get Harry some bread, soup, and some treacle tart."
"Yes Master sir, Tippy will get that now."
"Oh, and pumpkin juice- that's your favorite right?" Voldemort said, directing the question to Harry. The boy just sat there dumfounded. Tippy vanished with another pop.
"Are you kidding me?"
"See? She doesn't care. Next time tell her what you want."
Maybe being stuck here with Voldemort was not as pleasurable as Harry thought.
After eating his dinner, and unfortunately enjoying every bit of it, Harry made his way over to the now lit fire and took a seat on the rug.
Out of the corner of his eye Harry saw Voldemort open his mouth and before the man could say anything Harry rushed, "YES! I AM going to sit on the floor like an animal!" Harry smirked when he heard no retort.
Minutes passed as Harry stared into the fire, the flames pulling him into a trance. His eyes were heavy and he rolled over so that he was lying on his side, soaking in the warmth. His eyes closed and he vaguely registered the feel of something large begin to surround him. He opened his eyes a crack and saw the scales of the snake. He felt her wrap around his body with her head resting on his legs.
'Nagini will keep snakeling safe'
Harry smirked and was pulled into unconsciousness, 'Stupid snake….'