"Harry. Harry wake up."
Face shoved into a pillow, Harry unsuccessfully tried to open his eyes. He turned his head to the side, "Wha?"
"Wake up, it may be your birthday but I refuse to allow you to sleep past noon."
Harry turned his head back into the pillow, mumbling something unintelligible.
"No, no no no. Get up." Voldemort said as he grabbed the boy by the shoulders and flipped him over. He wandlessly opened the curtains on the other side of the room, allowing the bright light to enter.
"AHH!" Harry shouted as he shielded his eyes from the light.
"I must leave but I will be back shortly. Get up, get dressed, take a shower, and eat. I will be back by the time you are done."
"Harry, Nagini is here and knows that you must be out of bed in five minutes. I have told her to bother you as much as possible until you get up."
Harry opened one eye and finally looked at the man, "That's cruel."
"Yes well, I am a Dark Lord."
'Nagini, help him wake up.'
'Yes Master! Little snakeling wake up!' Nagini hissed as she climbed onto the bed. 'You can pet me again! You are good at it! Yes, Nagini likes when you pet her!'
'You two have fun…'
Harry could hear Voldemort chuckling as the door closed.
After only ten minutes of Nagini's constant chatter, Harry couldn't take any more. He pulled himself from the bed and made his way to the bathroom- slamming the door in the still-talking snake's face. He turned the water on, still quite groggy, and climbed into the large glass shower.
Several minutes later he exited the bathroom, water from his wet hair dripping onto his shirt. Tippy was a quick learner, as she had his favorite breakfast of porridge and egg on toast waiting for him. He sighed contentedly as he took the first delicious bite.
As he was finishing the last bit the door opened and Voldemort walked through holding packages in his hands.
"Wha ah thos?" Harry said, mouth full.
"Harry, for Merlin's sake do not speak while eating."
Harry swallowed. "Sorry. What are those?" He said, gesturing to the packages.
"They're for you."
"What?!" The boy said, jumping from his seat.
"It's your birthday so I thought you'd appreciate something to open."
Harry ran over to the man, "Seriously?"
"Yes, of course."
He looked at the gifts in awe, a bit of sadness crossing his features. "I've… I've never gotten a birthday present before…"
Voldemort just looked at the boy. Of course he hadn't gotten a birthday gift, he was always at the Dursleys in July. Anger boiled inside of Voldemort, soon he himself would pay a little visit to Harry's 'family'…
"Well, you have them now."
Harry face lit up once more and he grabbed the first box. He tore into it without hesitation, throwing the wrapping onto the floor.
"Whoa…." He said as he looked at the bright red book entitled Chasing Destiny.
"By Avery Hawksworth, Captain of the En-"
"Captain and Chaser for the English National Quidditch team…"
"Ah," Voldemort said with a smirk, "so you've heard of him."
"He's brilliant. Thanks!"
Before long Harry was sitting happily on the floor with wrappings, boxes, and gifts surrounding him. He looked like a child on Christmas morning. Aside from the Quidditch book Voldemort had gotten him three new sets of robes- "Don't think I don't realize this is Slytherin green," Harry said after opening the last set. They were spectacular robes, each made of the finest materials and embellishments of which he knew only the richest of wizards and witches were able to own. There were also piles of candy around the boy, enough to certainly last him a few months- everything from fizzing whizbees, to chocolate frogs, to pepper imps.
"Waw, dis is aw so amaling!" Harry said through a mouthful of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans.
Voldemort wanted to scold the boy for talking with his mouth full, again, but he decided to let it slide this once. Harry looked extremely happy.
"I have something else for you." Voldemort said, pulling out a rectangular box from somewhere behind him.
Harry took it from the man's hands, pulled the ribbon from the top, opened the box, and gasped.
"MY WAND!" His mouth hung open as he pulled his holly and phoenix feather wand out of the box. A tingling sensation immediately traveled up the length of his arm bringing a smile to his face. "How did you get it?!"
"Do you doubt me, Harry Potter?" Voldemort replied with a smirk.
"I thought it was gone! I figured the Dursleys had destroyed it!" He gave it a swish and red sparks flew from the end.
"Now before you start getting any ideas, let me inform you that I have placed security spells on it."
Harry looked to the man, face falling slightly. "I can't do certain magic with it?"
"You can do most magic, but you will be unable to harm myself or any of my followers. You also cannot perform any unlocking spells… we wouldn't want a repeat of the library incident now would we?"
Harry looked back to his wand, stroking the wood softly. "No, I guess not."
"Good. Now, I have one last thing for you…"
"Another present?! I already have so much!"
"Yes well, I think you'll like this one best." Voldemort snapped his fingers and the door flew open. Harry jumped when a bright white owl soared into the room.
"HEDWIG!" he shouted as he jumped to his feet. The snowy white owl flew straight towards him and landed on his outstretched arm. She quickly jumped up to his shoulder and began nibbling playfully at the boy's ear. Harry burst into a fit of laughter. "AH! I know I know I missed you too!" he said as he ran his hand over the bird's soft feathers.
"I bought food for her. Oh and some treats, thought you and her would both appreciate that."
After she was finished loving on her master, Hedwig hooted her approval and flew to rest upon a bedpost "Thank you so much!" Harry turned and said to Voldemort. "I just- thank you!"
"You're very welcome."
"No really, this is a lot of stuff! Too much! You didn't have to get me all this!"
"Just take it and stop thinking about it."
Harry looked around him at all that was scattered across the floor. To a normal Muggle or Wizard child it may not seem like a whole lot, just some candy, a book, and clothes, but to Harry it meant everything. It meant someone cared enough to buy him presents on his birthday, something he had never experienced. It made him feel a bit overwhelmed.
"Wow…" Voldemort watched as the emotions passed across Harry's face, from pure joy to sadness and everything in between. "Really, thank you so much." the boy said, struggling to keep the emotion from his voice.
"You're welcome" Voldemort said quietly. The room was silent for a few moments as Voldemort let Harry be, knowing that the boy was not used to this.
'Happy Hatch Day snakeling!' Nagini said as she finally slithered her way over.
Harry smiled down upon the animal who he was slowly starting to grow attached to. 'Thank you Nagini'
'How old is snakeling now?'
'HA! Snakeling is a baby… Nagini is much older than that!'
'Nagini, come here and let the poor boy be.' Voldemort said, reaching a hand out towards the snake.
She slithered over to the man and allowed herself to be picked up enough so that she could wrap her long body around his shoulders.
'You better not eat my owl' Harry said suddenly, realizing having the two animals in the same area could lead quickly to trouble.
'Nagini knows better. I've spoken with her about it. Plus, I put a protection charm around the owl just in case… I don't trust this one.' Voldemort said as he gently plucked Nagini on the nose. Harry chuckled as he heard the snake begin to grumble in Parseltongue.
The trio sat in quiet for a while, Harry flipping through his new book while Voldemort stroked Nagini.
"Well, Harry, I have a meeting to attend shortly." Voldemort spoke suddenly, breaking the contented silence.
Voldemort took note of the boy's slight disappointment. "I will be back around dinner, so I will see you later tonight. When I return I suggest you try on your new set of summer robes, I want to take you somewhere."
"What?! We're going somewhere?"
"Not far- don't get your hopes up. We won't be leaving the grounds, but nevertheless it would be a good time to try on your robes."
Voldemort lifted Nagini from his shoulders and placed her on the ground. Standing, he said, "I will be back shortly. Enjoy your gifts, don't eat too many sweets please. I do not wish to deal with a sick child again…"
"I won't…" and Voldemort was gone in an instant.
Harry spent the next few hours enjoying his presents- particularly his wand. Oh how he had missed it! He practiced a few minor spells, trying to get back into the correct mindset for magic after being away from Hogwarts for a few months. Hedwig hooted happily as she watched Harry play around, quite content on his birthday.
Shortly after dinner he decided to change into his new robes as Voldemort had asked. He looked at the three sets that were laid out upon the bed- two for summer and one obviously for winter.
Voldemort must expect me to be here for a while… Harry thought idly. He looked down at the two lightweight sets- one navy and the other Slytherin green. Harry stared at the robes for a moment trying to determine which ones to wear.
"Hedwig? What do you think?" The owl simply looked at the boy and hooted. "Yeah… you're not much help. I think I'm going to go with the green ones… Voldemort will like those best." As Harry reached for the robes he realized what he had said- Why was he even bothering to think about what Voldemort would like? Was he trying to please the man?
Slightly frustrated with himself (but not changing his decision), Harry shook his head and took a deep breath, quickly changing his clothes.
When Voldemort returned he found the boy sprawled across the floor on his stomach reading his new book.
"I just bought you those robes and here you are lying on the floor while wearing them."
Harry closed the book quickly and jumped to his feet. "Sorry, I wasn't thinking. I like them though, thank you."
"Yes, me too. You look good in Slytherin green." Voldemort said absentmindedly.
"I thought you would say that.' Harry said, unamused. "So where are we going?"
"Oh, sorry…" Harry's control over his curiosity only last a few seconds. "But really where?!"
Voldemort chuckled, "You will see. Now follow me."
"Is Nagini coming?"
"Do you want her to come? Now that you two seem to be best friends and all?"
Harry frowned, why did the man have to rub it in his face that he was right? "She's not my 'friend'. No, I don't want her to come, let's go." He stomped past the man and into the hallway for only the second time.
"Do you even know where you're going?" Voldemort called out to the boy who was stubbornly marching himself down the corridor.
Harry stopped; as a matter of fact he had no idea where he was headed. He spun around and Voldemort gestured with his head to the opposite direction. He huffed and marched after the man, feigning great displeasure. Voldemort knew better, he knew the boy was bursting with excitement, dying to get out of the room.
As they walked down the grand halls Harry took in his surroundings, marveling at the impressive manor. He thought of the last time he was in these halls and quickly stole a glance over his shoulder, subconsciously moving closer towards Voldemort. "So um, are there any Death Eaters here?"
Voldemort took notice of the boy's actions and was glad he had learned his lesson from his last and hopefully only escapade. "Not at the moment, no."
"Oh, good." Harry said as they made their way down a flight of stairs. "Do they know I'm here? The Death Eaters that is?"
"No, they do not. I obliviated the particular memories of the ones who went after you in the library- not including the one I killed. I think it's best for the moment if they do not know of your presence."
"You killed one of them?!"
"Yes. I was… particularly angry that day."
"No thanks to a certain nosy, wandering boy."
"Well I feel touched." Harry said sarcastically.
They turned the corner and came upon two magnificent doors, which opened before Harry and Voldemort reached them and allowed a spectacular view of the outdoors. Harry couldn't believe they were actually going outside. He felt a hand on his shoulder, gently pulling him backwards. He looked behind him and noticed that he had sped up as soon as the doors had opened.
They exited the manor and walked around the side of the huge house along a stone walkway. Harry looked around him with wide eyes trying to take everything in. He turned his head and saw the grand garden he had often admired from the window of the room.
"Whoa…" He said as he gazed upon the bright vegetation.
"I see you have figured out where we are going."
Harry gasped. "The garden?! We're going to the garden?" He didn't care this time- he broke into a run, the feeling slightly foreign after being cooped up for so long. He slowed as he came upon the garden, looking above him as two grand willow trees marked the entrance with their hanging leaves. He walked forward onto one of the many pathways that wound through the garden, admiring the neon flowers surrounding him. Harry had never seen flowers with such bright and vibrant petals, they had to be magical in some form. He turned down another path and ran his hands over the mysterious green plants that were on either side of him now. In some areas trees made a canopy over him of their wispy leaves and flowers, in other areas you could see the large green fields that surrounded the house, and then there were places in which tall green hedges loomed on either side of the pathway. He heard someone come up behind him.
"The gardens at Hogwarts don't even compare to this…" he said.
"No, they don't." Voldemort agreed.
The men continued to walk in silence for many more minutes, Harry completely mesmerized by the colors. Every time he turned down a new pathway he was astounded to see that the garden simply continued… it seemed never ending, it was huge. They wandered into a section with tall hedges that blocked their view of the area around them.
"So how big is this place? Does it ever end?"
"Only if you want it to." Harry turned to look at Voldemort, confused.
"What do you mean?"
"It's magic, Harry. If you want it to continue it will, if you wish to return back to the manor then you simply turn around and you're back at the entrance."
"So if I wanted to go back right now we'd just have to walk a few steps back the way we came?"
Harry shook his head. "Magic is amazing…"
They continued their way, Harry asking questions every once in a while, his amazement of the garden hardly wearing off.
"Harry, it's getting late, it's about time we head back."
"Oh… yeah I guess you're right. Can we walk back though? I mean, do we have to do the magic thing?"
"It's up to you, the garden will do as you wish."
Harry turned around and walked a few steps forward, delighted when the garden stayed as it was. The first time through the garden Harry had walked in front of Voldemort, stopping and looking every once in a while, but now as they made their way back the two men walked closely side by side.
For once Harry had no more questions, so they made small talk for the majority of the way back, but after a while Harry felt a pressing need to say something more.
"So um, I really do want to thank you for today… it was the best birthday I've ever had."
"I'm glad to hear that."
Harry stopped walking and waited until Voldemort stopped as well and turned to face him. "Really though, I want you to know how important it was to me… how much it meant."
Voldemort studied the boy for a moment, "I understand Harry. Not that I enjoy recalling it, but as a young boy I was in a similar situation as you, I understand."
He didn't know why but Harry felt tears prickling in his eyes.
"Why are you upset?" Voldemort asked, stepping forward to the boy.
"I- I don't know. I really don't. Just… thank you." Harry stepped forward quickly and pushed his head to the man's chest. He wrapped his arms around Voldemort, gripping him tightly for only a moment before letting go. It was a quick hug, but a hug nonetheless.
Voldemort just stood shocked for a moment. The only time Harry had purposefully touched the man was when he had heard the woman scream and began to panic as the scream changed to the voice of his mother. Even then Voldemort wasn't sure Harry really knew what he was doing.
"We should be going…" he said, and Harry quickly blinked away the few tears in his eyes as the two continued on their way.
As they made their way back home Harry had a smile on his face. His thoughts were of his 'first birthday' and of the man walking beside him, but what he hadn't thought of, what he didn't realize, was that this was the first day since he had been rescued by Voldemort that he had not once thought of his old life. Not once during the day had Harry thought about his friends, Hogwarts, his professors. He had not thought of Dumbledore, not even of the rescuers both he and Voldemort knew were coming for him…
Happy birthday, little one.