Harry was lying in front of the lit fireplace on his stomach, marveling at the pictures in his new Quidditch book that Voldemort had given him for his birthday. He watched as Avery Hawksworth soared around the pitch, dodging a flying bludger as he scored. His wand lay on the floor beside him, resting after Harry had gone through every spell he could remember learning over the past two years at Hogwarts, plus the few he had managed to teach himself with the book Voldemort had allowed him to borrow. Nagini was curled up next to him, hissing quietly on each breath as she slept contentedly.
According to Harry's sketchy calculations, he had been with Voldemort over a month now. His birthday had come and gone and the new Hogwarts year was about to start in a couple weeks. He thought of his friends on occasion, wondering what they were up to, but primarily wondering if they were worried about him. He had no idea what was going on in the Wizarding World outside of this manor, hell, outside of this room really, but Harry could imagine that the disappearance of The-Boy-Who-Lived had caused quite an uproar. In the end he was supposed to save them all wasn't he? His eyes rolled at the thought.
He thought of Dumbledore often, his disappointment over the man knowing about the horcrux inside Harry was vanishing. Disappointment was quickly turning to anger. How could Dumbledore have sent a child to war simply in hopes that he would be killed? Why had the man never told Harry about the horcrux? The entire thing made Harry's blood boil.
As he turned the page the floor beneath him shook violently.
'GAH! What was that?! What are you doing snakeling?! Nagini is trying to sleep!'
'It wasn't me! I don't know what that was…' Harry stayed in his spot on the floor, waiting to see if it would happen again. With a house full of Death Eaters strange things were bound to happen, or explode, as that shaking seemed to indicate. Nagini stretched herself out and closed her eyes, trying to resume her nap.
The floor shook again, only this time the windows began to rattle.
"What the-!" Harry said as he jumped to his feet while Hedwig hooted angrily from her spot on the bedpost. This was no ordinary Death Eater fight gone wrong. 'Nagini wake up.'
'No snakeling Nagini is sleeping…'
'WAKE UP. Something is wrong and you need to WAKE UP!'
'You don't have to yell at Nagini!'
Harry could hear frantic shouting in the manor, something was definitely wrong. He ran for the window and ripped the curtains back. His mouth dropped. It was chaos outside.
The ground was multicolored as spells flew back and forth across the grounds. The Death Eaters were scattered, their black clashing with the other wizards. Harry looked closer at the intruders who were very obviously not welcomed. Even though he was at a distance he knew who they were… the Order of the Phoenix.
'Snakeling what is going on?'
'The Order has come.'
'Have they come for snakeling?'
'… I think so.'
'Well they cannot have him!' Nagini hissed as she slithered around Harry's heels, gripping the boy's ankles tightly.
'Ow, no Nagini get off.'
'They cannot have snakeling!'
'Nagini get off I need to be able to move! I need to be able to protect myself if they get in here!'
'Nagini will protect you.' Harry looked down at the snake who was uncoiling herself from Harry's legs. She spoke with such conviction…
'I know you will.'
But did he really think he needed protection from The Order of all people? He watched as the battle between Light and Dark raged below, there were already bodies on the ground… Harry wondered where Voldemort was, if he was safe. The windows rattled again.
'Do you think Voldemort is safe? Do you think he's ok?'
'HA! Of course Master is ok! He is a great wizard! Nagini can feel him… he is safe.'
Harry wondered only for a moment what the snake meant, but then he knew. He focused on whatever part of Voldemort's soul was inside of him and could feel it, he too knew Voldemort was still alive.
Harry heard footsteps in the hallway growing nearer, growing louder. He spun around towards the door, wand extended. Nagini hissed and coiled back, ready to strike.
The door exploded open and a woman stepped through. She had pink hair.
"Tonks…" Harry gasped.
"Harry! Finally! Come, come with-"
'You cannot have snakeling!'
Harry screamed as he heard her, knowing instantly what the snake was about to do. 'NAGINI! NO WAIT!'
He was too late, the massive snake lunged forward, fangs exposed, a truly terrifying sight. Tonks was quick though and cast the fastest Protego Harry had ever seen. Nagini ricocheted off the shield, looking as if she had run straight into a wall.
The snake coiled again, ready to strike once more.
'NAGINI!' Harry shouted, throwing his body between Tonks and Nagini. The snake froze only for a moment before quickly shifting, trying to find a clear strike.
'No, no. You cannot hurt her.'
'She is trying to take you! I will not let her!'
'She's not, she's not. Well, she is but- just stop. She won't hurt me.'
Nagini looked at the boy. 'Will snakeling go with her?' She asked, almost sadly.
'… I- I don't know.'
"Bloody hell that's a big snake…" Tonks said in awe from her place behind Harry.
"Tonks you need to leave, now."
The woman was pulled from her reverie, "Oh no Harry, I'm here for you."
"You don't underst-"
"We're all here for you!" Tonks interrupted, the urgency back in her voice. "You need to come with me now."
"Harry let's go! I'm not leaving without you." The woman said, already at the door.
"I don't know if I can…"
"What are you-" Tonks stopped mid sentence, eyes going wide. Harry's mind vaguely registered the flash of green light before her body fell to the ground with a horrid reverberating thump.
Harry stood looking at the woman, completely in shock. Tonks had been one of the main people who had trained him when he was working with the Order, along with so many other people, all who quite possibly were dead right now.
Voldemort stepped through the door and Harry was broken from his shock in an instant, forgetting about the bodies of those he considered friends lying around the manor.
"Voldemort!" He yelled in relief. He ran towards the man and gripped the front of his black robes, not putting any thought into what he was doing.
"Harry…" Voldemort said with a relieved sigh.
"What's going on? I saw the Order outside, why are they here? Who's winning? What is-"
"Shhh…" Voldemort shushed, running his hand through the boy's black hair.
Harry was thankful he was with Voldemort, he knew he would be safe with the man near. He wasn't afraid of the Order, but he still felt better with Voldemort nearby, even if he knew he wasn't in danger.
"You came for me."
"Of course I did, little one."
Voldemort moved both he and the boy still clinging to his robes further into the room, blocking the view of the woman lying lifeless in the doorway. Harry could still hear people shouting from the floors below, the voices becoming louder each minute.
Without warning Voldemort tensed, whirling around in a swirl of black robes. Harry could feel the sudden anger radiating off the man, or maybe he felt it deep inside him, deep where the horcrux lay. Voldemort raised his white wand towards the door.
Albus Dumbledore walked calmly into the room, giving Tonks a quick but sad look before gracefully stepping over her body. Harry's emotions battled between relief and hatred… hatred by far had the upper hand.
"Harry, Tom." Dumbledore greeted with a smile as if he were visiting for tea. Harry heard a rumble emit deep in Voldemort's chest at the use of his Muggle name.
The room was silent as the three men took one another in. 'Harry, get behind me.' Voldemort hissed in Parseltongue to the boy. Harry realized he had already been clinging tightly onto the back of Voldemort's robes as the man ushered the boy further behind him with his free hand.
Ignoring the Dark Lord, Dumbledore looked at the boy peeking out from behind Voldemort. "Harry, I'm glad to see you look well."
Harry inwardly scoffed at the comment… ironic coming from the man who had sent him to die. Dumbledore now looked to Voldemort. "You've taken good care of him, Tom."
"What do you want, Dumbledore?" Voldemort snapped, obviously not willing to play along with Dumbledore's insincere pleasantries.
"I think you know what I want, Tom. I've come for Harry."
"I find it amusing that you believe you can simply come in here with a few of your brainwashed followers and expect me to just let the boy go."
"Oh no, I did not expect you to give him up easily. I know what he means to you…" Dumbledore gave Voldemort a knowing look. He has to know of the horcrux… he just has to. Harry thought. "I do not wish for this to come to a fight Tom, but I will do what I must…"
Voldemort laughed, "Do you really believe that you intimidate me old man? You are mad if you think you could defeat me in a duel."
Dumbledore looked to the boy. "Harry, come with me."
Harry felt Voldemort's grip on him tighten, pushing him further behind the dark wizard. Harry knew Dumbledore wasn't stupid enough to try anything with Voldemort in the room, so he pulled himself away from the man's grip, stepping a bit out from behind his human shield.
"You knew didn't you? You knew about the horcrux."
Dumbledore's eyes widened for only a moment before returning to their usual lightness. "I'm not sure I know what you mean. Why don't you just-"
"You know exactly what I mean. You knew that I was a horcrux didn't you?" Dumbledore's eyes narrowed, his lighthearted attitude vanishing. When the man didn't respond Harry shouted, "Answer me! Did you know?!"
"What has he told you?" Dumbledore asked, speaking of Voldemort.
"He hasn't told me anything. I may be young but I'm not stupid, I can figure things out for myself. I also know that you aren't stupid… you knew. You sent me out to fight hoping I'd be killed!"
"Harry you don't know what you are talking about."
"You coward! You knew I would have to die for Voldemort to be destroyed! Why didn't you tell me?" Harry took a few steps forward towards the man, only to be brought back by a firm pale hand on his shoulder. Again, Dumbledore stood in silence. "You are a coward…" Harry said angrily.
"Harry, we obviously have much to discuss. You have been led astray I assure you. You cannot trust what Voldemort says, you must know this."
"I trust him more than I trust you. At least he tells me the truth; at least he tries to protect me, which I can no longer say for you."
"Come now Harry, this is becoming ridiculous. Come with me and come home."
"I am home." The other two wizards both froze in shock, neither believing what they had just heard.
"You will no longer use me Dumbledore. I can't believe I was naïve enough to not see it before."
It was then that they heard someone running down the corridor. "Albus!" Harry recognized the voice and his heart ached. "Albus we need to leave!" Remus Lupin ran into the room and froze when he saw the Dark Lord. He raised his wand instantly but Dumbledore quickly grasped his wrist.
"No… this, this did not go as planned. Let us go." In an instant Dumbledore had vanished, leaving his companion behind. He knew better than to press his luck with the Dark Lord.
Lupin was left for a few short moments, casting a quick look at The Boy Who Lived who was now pulled tightly against the chest of the Dark Lord… how things do change.
"Hi Harry…" Lupin said quietly. The two exchanged a long look, both full of apologies.
Voldemort raised his wand towards Lupin, "Get out." He said in a tone that would have terrified Harry to the bone were he on the other side of the wand. Harry grabbed Voldemort's arm and gently pulled it downwards, not wanting Lupin to get hurt by accident.
In an instant, the last of the Order was gone.
Harry let out a sigh as Lupin vanished. He had made his decision, he had left those who raised him and cared for him. It was a horrible feeling, but somehow he knew he wouldn't regret it. Somehow he knew he had done the right thing… even if it hurt.
The room was silent for a few moments before Voldemort released Harry and turned the downcast boy around. "Are you alright?"
Harry looked up, "Yeah…"
"You don't look it."
"I just feel kinda bad."
Voldemort looked thoughtful for a moment, not wanting to ask the next question. "Why did you do it then?"
"… because I don't trust Dumbledore, and I certainly don't want to fight for him. The others…" Harry looked to the ground. "It's not their fault."
Voldemort ignored the part of him that was slightly disappointed at the response.
"You had the chance to go back to your friends."
"Yeah, I know."
"But you didn't leave. You chose to stay. You chose to stay… with me."
"Yeah, I know." Harry said, the sadness leaving his voice.
"You puzzle me Harry."
"I just… I can't explain it. I like being here…" It was the first time Harry had said it out loud. But it was true.
"You like being here?"
"Yeah. I don't know, I'm away from the war, away from the Durlseys, I'm not The Boy Who Lived here… I'm just Harry."
"And you like that?"
"It's all I've really ever wanted."