"- so as you can see our effort to control the Ministry is going well, My Lord."
Voldemort had stopped listening long ago to Rabastan's ramblings… sweet Salazar that man could talk. With his elbow propped upon the arm rest of his chair, Voldemort rubbed his temple. Sometimes he wondered if he could have finished this war long ago if he had not had to rely on his Death Eaters.
The room was silent, everyone present waiting for Voldemort to respond. "My Lord?" Rabastan spoke timidly, afraid to anger the Dark Lord.
"Rabastan," Voldemort spoke with an exasperated sigh, not looking up, "was it truly necessary to take that long to inform me that things are going well?"
The room full of Death Eaters was silent for a moment. "I- I'm sorry My Lord. I just-"
"Crucio" Voldemort said almost uninterested, wand pointed at the cowering man. Eyes closed, still rubbing his head, Voldemort listened to the cries of the man. Nothing could relieve stress like a good Crucio.
Then something in him changed. He felt panicked. But it wasn't him exactly, it felt detached, but deep down he knew something was wrong. Voldemort's head shot up and he broke the curse. That feeling… he knew who it came from.
An echo of concerned 'My Lord?'s filled the room at his sudden change in behavior. Voldemort's inner circle was all present, sitting on either side of a long dark table in Voldemort's manor. Each person looked alarmed, some even grabbing their wands, they knew something was wrong.
The feeling inside Voldemort increased, quickly turning into terror. He stood quickly, almost knocking his chair over in the process. "Everyone out. Now." He said, and without looking to see if they obeyed, he turned on the spot and apparated.
When the world returned to normal Voldemort looked around him quickly. He was standing on the sidewalk of a slightly familiar muggle town. He quickly cast an invisibility charm on himself, chastising himself for not doing it before he had apparated. The boy makes me do stupid things! He saw a panicked boy running in the opposite direction, looking over his shoulder, seemingly desperate to get away from the area.
The air was icy around him and instinctually he knew what foul creature was lurking nearby. He turned quickly and was looking at a playground. He saw a group of boys standing frozen, staring up into the unforgiving mouth of a dementor. He saw someone else, another young boy, standing from his place on the swing set. Harry. His Harry.
Harry started searching his pockets for something but came up empty. His wand, Voldemort thought. Even without his wand, Harry took off running towards the other boys.
"HARRY!" Voldemort shouted without thinking. Bloody Gryffindor!
He kept running. Voldemort prepared himself to apparate in front of the boy when he saw it. Another dementor, going straight towards Harry. Harry must have heard it coming, for he stopped running and immediately turned… he started screaming.
He fell to his knees, hands covering his ears, the dementor closing in. It had all happened so fast that Voldemort still stood on the road, watching it all unfold. He quickly apparated to the boy's side, wand pointed at the beast. He hadn't casted a patronus in decades…
The Dark Lord didn't fail at anything, he was much too arrogant. He closed his eyes, deep down knowing this was likely impossible, but tried to conjure up happy thoughts anyway.
Voldemort looked into his past. The orphanage, no no no. Hogwarts… bloody Dumbledore. Killing, torture… not happy enough. Murdering my muggle father… turning Marvolo's ring into a horcrux.
A small spot of light lit at the end of Voldemort's bone wand.
Horcruxes. Immortality. Killing Harry's parents… losing power.
The light died.
The wand lit again.
Being with Harry. Healing him, protecting him… protecting Harry.
The light grew stronger.
Ruling the Wizard and Muggle worlds…
Voldemort pictured himself, filled with power, people bowing before him, Harry standing at his side. With the slightest of smiles, Voldemort shouted, "Expecto Patronum!"
A ghostly white light flew from the end of his wand straight into the dementor. Voldemort opened his eyes and watched as the light and dark fought. He was slightly pleased that his patronus was now a baskilisk, but Harry's scream broke through his thoughts.
He turned and looked to the weak boy on the ground who was still holding his head in his hands, shaking. Voldemort knelt down and touched him gently, hoping not to scare him even more. The boy seemed to not even feel it, so Voldemort put his hands under the small body and lifted him into his arms.
"Harry…" he said, trying to let the boy know he was safe. "Hush little one, I am here."
Voldemort took a quick look behind him, back to where the other group of boys had been attacked. Not caring about the others, he sought out Harry's piggish cousin. He saw the body lying on the ground lifeless, the other dementor sucking the last bit of life and soul Dudley Dursley had from his body.
Voldemort smirked, silently rejoicing that the boy who had tortured his Harry for so long had met a violent end. Oh how Voldemort longed for the day he could unleash his retaliation on Harry's uncle and aunt.
Voldemort looked to the limp boy in his arms and turned on the spot.
They were standing outside of his manor now, safely away from anything that could harm the fragile boy in his arms. Voldemort started walking towards the large grey mansion. He heard Harry whimper and held him closer, tighter. The young boy froze for only a moment before snuggling deeper into Voldemort's chest, hiding his face in the black robes.
Voldemort walked through the halls, heading towards his rooms. There were many guest rooms that, when needed, the Death Eaters stayed in at times, but Voldemort passed them and made his way up a flight of stairs.
He looked to the dark haired boy again, relishing in the fact that he finally had Harry with him, that he had finally gotten him away from both the Dursley's and Dumbledore. He knew it would take a long time for Harry to accept this new way of life though, but whether the boy came willingly or not, Voldemort would never allow Harry to be taken from him again… he was too important.
Voldemort walked into a large bedroom, heading straight for the bed.
'Master! Is that the snakeling?'
Voldemort smirked at the phrase as he laid Harry gently onto the large bed.
'Yes Nagini, this is him.'
Voldemort spied his familiar making her way to the bed from where she had been resting near the warm fireplace. The large snake slithered up the bedpost and onto the green silk sheets.
'Be careful Nagini, he is weak. You know he is not to be harmed.'
'Yes Master', the snake hissed as she neared the limp body. Her master had spoken so long of this boy! She could feel the pleasure radiating off the tall man. She reached Harry's face and, heeding her Master's orders to be gentle, softly stuck her tongue out and brushed against the boy's skin. He tasted of fear… great fear…. and, and something else, something that shocked the snake.
'He, he tastes of you Master!'
Voldemort looked curiously down towards the snake. 'What?'
'He tastes like you! Is he your snakeling?'
'No Nagini… I think-' Voldemort stopped speaking. Could Nagini possibly be sensing the horcrux? 'What else does he taste like?'
'Fear, Master. He was very frightened… I, I think he still is.'
At that, Harry moaned, slightly moving his weak body.
"Shhh…." Voldemort said, knowing the boy was nowhere near ready to awaken. His body needed rest, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.
Voldemort snapped his fingers and a house elf appeared.
"Tippy, get me some chocolate. The best you can find, and lots of it."
"Yes Master! Tippy will get that right away for Master!" the female elf said hastily before disappearing.
Sitting himself down upon the edge of the bed, Voldemort looked back to the now sleeping boy.
'He is small Master…' Nagini said, slithering up and around on the pillow Harry's head was lying on.
'Yes, very small. You need to be very careful with him Nagini, he is not strong like me, you can easily hurt him.' Voldemort said, trying to emphasize that the massive snake could easily kill Harry, even by accident. There had been a few times, often when she was either very excited or angry, that Nagini had even wrapped around Voldemort too tightly, close to injuring him. She was an animal after all and had a tendency to not think before she acted.
Nagini had slithered all the way around Harry, so that her body encompassed his. Voldemort grew worried. Did I not just tell her to be careful? Sometimes having the snake around was like taking care of a child- she was completely stubborn and Voldemort often found him repeating himself.
'Nagini what did I say? I don't think you should-'
'I will protect him, not hurt him'. She interrupted with slight annoyance, bothered that her Master had no faith in her. 'I want to keep him safe,' she added as she curled in on the boy, 'Smells like Master…'
Voldemort shook his head, knowing that while the snake was a hassle, he could trust her. She knew how important Harry was. Voldemort wondered if it was her loyalty to him, her female instincts, or the connection between her horcrux and Harry's that made her want to protect him so.
It was then that Tippy popped back into the room, arms full of small boxes. "I have chocolates for Master sir. Lots of chocolate."
"Put them on the bedside table and leave." Voldemort said without paying the creature much mind, she was a house elf after all. He heard the elf setting the boxes down behind him and then leaving the room with a pop.
Voldemort could hear Nagini, whose body completely surrounded Harrys, talking to the boy.
'Little snakeling will be ok. He will sleep. Nagini will keep him safe…. keep him safe.'
Voldemort fought a smile. It seemed his familiar had found a new best friend, although Harry would probably not be as welcoming when he finally awoke.
Almost an entire day had passed and Harry had still not awoken. He was restless in his sleep and Voldemort considered waking him a few times. For the most part, Voldemort had not left the room where the boy slept, leaving once only to attend a short meeting with his Death Eaters. While he was gone, Nagini stayed with Harry, still wrapped securely around him.
Voldemort was sitting at his desk in the room that evening when he heard Harry stir. Voldemort could feel something deep inside him… something that told him his youngest horcrux was in danger.
'Master, I think something is wrong with the snakeling…' Nagini said from her spot on the bed. Voldemort stood from his desk, quickly making his way to Harry. The boy was still asleep, but he was moving, twitching as if in a dream. According to the small whimper and quick breaths coming from the boy Voldemort knew it was not a pleasant dream.
The snake quickly unwrapped herself from around Harry, moving to the side of the bed.
"Harry…" Voldemort said, trying to wake the boy. Harry's eyes remained closed, his breathing becoming faster, more labored. The boy was shaking and began moving his arms, gripping the sheets under him. His legs were repeatedly pushing against the bed, obviously trying to run from something. It was definitely time to wake him.
"HARRY!" Voldemort said, louder, reaching out to touch the panicking boy. As soon as his hand made contact with Harry's arm, the boy's eyes shot open and he lurched forward.
"NNOOOOOO!" Harry screamed as he fell from the bed with a thud. He quickly stood, trying to run, but only made it a few steps before collapsing onto the floor. Harry lay on the ground sobbing, covering his head with his hands, trying to shield himself. "P-please don't hurt me… ple-ease. I'm sorry, please d-don't hurt me!"
'Master… what's wrong with him?'
'I- I don't know, Nagini.'
Voldemort stood from the bed, walking towards the small body shaking on the floor of his bedroom, before kneeling down behind him. "H-Harry…" he said timidly, truly not understanding what was happening to the child.
"Help… me…." Harry whimpered, more to himself than to anyone around him.
A thought occurred to Voldemort. Harry… he said to the boy, little one… Voldemort used the mind link that had been so useful to him over the past few months. It seemed to work as Harry stopped shaking, if only for a moment. Hush… Shhh…
Voldemort watched as Harry's eyes opened, looking around the room. The boy was still crying, tears running down his face. Voldemort knelt behind him, frozen, afraid that if he moved he would destroy what little calm had found its way into Harry. The boy looked around the room, almost as if he were searching for something.
Voldemort nervously used the mind link again. Harry?
Voldemort watched as the boy, still lying upon the floor, slowly turned and locked eyes with him.