There was silence in the room… but he was sure he had heard…
Still breathing heavily from fear and crying, he pushed himself up onto his side and quickly looked around the strange place. He had heard the voice, he was sure of it. It had saved him… again.
Harry? He heard the voice louder and clearer than ever, even felt its presence… as if right behind him.
Harry Potter turned over, half raised onto his elbows. Emerald eyes locked with crimson.
Harry could've sworn he felt his heart stop. He wasn't even sure how it was possible for a human brain and body to move so quickly, but one second he was lying in the floor and the next he was on his feet running for the door, absolutely terrified. Harry wasn't thinking about what he was doing, his body knew it was in danger and his reflexes kicked into overdrive.
When he reached the door Harry paused for just a moment, his mind finally catching up with his body. Had that really been...? He turned around quickly and looked behind him, almost expecting the man to have been a delusion. The Dark Lord was getting to his feet, startled by the boy's sudden outburst. OH BLOODY HELL! Harry's mind screamed.
Harry spun back around and grabbed the doorknob and yanked, desperate to get out of the room. The door didn't budge. Harry yanked again. And again. And again. He put his foot onto the wall beside the door and pulled. Why is the door not OPENING?!
A voice broke through his panic. "Harry." The boy's heart leapt. No, no, no, no, no, no, OPEN! He mentally screamed at the door.
Giving up on his first route of escape, Harry whirled around. His eyes frantically scanned the room, looking for another way out. Voldemort stood in the center of the bedroom with a slightly confused expression, not sure if he should try to stop the boy or just let him wear himself out on his own. Harry saw another door on the opposite side of the bedroom; he knew he had to go for it.
The only thing standing between Harry and his escape was The Dark Lord himself. Harry panicked, and before he even knew what he was doing he took off running towards the other side of the room. He sprinted towards the bed, jumped on top of it and ran across. As he was about to jump off to the floor on the other side he saw it. There on the ground laid a snake larger than Harry could have ever imagined. The shock made Harry's body instinctually freeze for a moment, his feet tried to stop but the inertia sent his body forward. His legs caught on the sheets of the bed, causing his feet to fly out from under him. He landed on the very edge of the bed, only to flop down onto the floor with a thud. His body froze, eyes wide as he came face to face with the monster. Time seemed to stop as he stared. Harry couldn't believe what he was seeing, how could a snake be THAT big?!
He knew he had to move. Slowly, so as to not entice the creature to eat him whole, Harry stood, gripping the bed for support. Not making any sudden movements, he slowly sat down on the bed and crawled backwards, trying to put any distance he could between him and the snake.
His eyes never left the animal, which was still lying in the same place on the floor, simply watching the boy. Harry eventually reached the other side of the bed and as he placed one foot on the floor he felt arms wrap around him. He let out a scream. Somehow he had completely forgotten anyone else was in the room.
The strong arms wrapped around his torso and dragged him backwards. Harry struggled, wiggling his body this way and that in an attempt to free himself. Instinct took over and Harry kicked his left leg backwards into the shin of the man behind him. Voldemort let out a startled yell as pain radiated up his leg. The man's grip faltered for a second before tightening even further. Harry kept fighting, using what little movement he had in his arms to punch backwards into Voldemort's body as he kicked with his legs.
"OW! Harry STOP! STOP!"
Harry continued, realizing that it was working. He saw something out of the corner of his eye rising into the air. He lifted his head and saw the huge snake in front of him, raising itself so that its head was level with Harry's. Harry froze.
'You hurt Master! Nagini will kill you!' The snake spit into the air. Harry could see venom dripping from the snake's exposed fangs. Voldemort stopped fighting, noticing the boy had gone stiff. He looked up in time to see Nagini rearing back; he had not heard her threat in the commotion.
'NAGINI, NO!' He shouted in Parseltongue, reaching one of his hands out towards the snake. Harry felt his body being ripped backwards, and suddenly he was facing the opposite side of the room. Voldemort still clung to him with one arm, holding him in place behind him. Was Voldemort protecting him?
'Move Master! I will take care of him! I will kill him!'
'He hurt Master!'
'No. He is fine. He is fine. He did not hurt me.'
Harry turned his head and peeked around Voldemort's black robes. The snake stood, still raised in the air, looking from Voldemort to Harry. Harry thought he could see confusion in her eyes- fighting between obeying her Master and attempting to kill the boy who hurt him.
The pause in the action gave Harry his chance. He ripped himself from Voldemort's grasp and ran towards the door at the other side of the room. Without looking behind him to see if the other two occupants of the room were coming after him, he yanked the door open and threw himself inside. He slammed the door behind him, immediately turning the lock on the doorknob.
He quickly spun around, ready to sprint down a hallway. Harry's heart dropped as he stared at a toilet and a shower- he just locked himself in a bathroom. Harry could hear his heart pounding in his ears, his breaths coming in harsh pants as the adrenaline raced through his body.
He could hear commotion from the other side of the door.
'NAGINI! GET OUT!' Voldemort snapped, sounding extremely angry.
'Sorry Master! Nagini is sorry! The snakeling attacked you Master!'
Harry heard Voldemort roar. Panicked rushed through the boy- an angry Voldemort was the last thing he needed, and his 'escape' probably didn't help anything. He looked around to see if there was anything in the large bathroom he could push in front of the door. He knew it was useless, as Voldemort could blast through the wooden door with simply a thought. Harry searched, but there was nothing in the bathroom of substantial weight that even had a chance of keeping anyone out.
"Harry," Voldemort's voice came through the door. Harry froze, waiting for the door to be blasted off its hinges. A few moments passed.
"Harry. Open the door." There was nowhere for Harry to go, nowhere to hide, so he just silently waited. There was no way he was leaving this bathroom willingly, Voldemort would have to come in and drag him out.
Harry knew Voldemort was growing angrier by the second, but he just couldn't help himself… blame it on the inner Gryffindor. "I'm not coming out! You're going to have to come in and get me!" Ok, maybe not the best choice of words, Harry thought.
"Come out now, Harry! I won't hurt you I promise. Just come out."
Harry could hear Voldemort mumbling about something-cruxes being more trouble than they were worth. A what-crux?
Harry jumped as Voldemort's fist banged once against the door. "COME OUT NOW!"
Harry wondered why Voldemort had yet to barge his way into the room. He hadn't even uttered a curse in Harry's direction yet…. or even brought his wand out for that matter. Harry had no doubt that Voldemort now stood in the bedroom with the white bone wand in his hand, waiting for Harry to take just one step out of the bathroom so that he could curse him into oblivion.
A few minutes passed in silence before Voldemort calmly said, "You will come out eventually. You aren't stupid enough to let yourself starve and waste away in a bathroom." Harry heard nothing else for a few minutes and decided he was safe for now. He took the opportunity to search the bathroom, looking for anything that could be used as a weapon. He silently cursed the Dursley's for locking his wand away.
The Dursley's. Dudley. The memories immediately flooded back. He suddenly remembered how he got here in the first place- the Dementors. They must be on Voldemort's side, working for the Dark. Harry remembered the voice though… it said it was there, that he was safe. He desperately tried to remember what happened through his foggy memories. He thought he had felt someone pick him up, someone who felt safe, warm. Was that the voice? No, it couldn't have been because Harry had ended up right in Voldemort's hands. The voice would have taken him back to Dumbledore, back to safety. Harry shook his head, he couldn't remember much. Harry wondered what happened to Dudley and the other boys… fearing the worse. Maybe they got out alright... It felt odd being worried for the boy who had tortured Harry so much over the years…
Harry went back to searching the bathroom, he didn't have a wand but he had every intention of going down with a fight.
A few hours passed and Harry had heard nothing from the other side of the door. He contemplated opening the door a crack and peeking into the room… just to see. He quickly thought better of it, picturing Voldemort standing there silently with an Avada Kedavra waiting for him. Voldemort was not the kind of man to hunt someone down for years and then let him get away easily.
Once the adrenaline had passed Harry had almost immediately felt the effects of the Dementor. He was tired and weak, and all he wanted to do was crawl up into a ball on the floor and go to sleep. He knew that wasn't an option though with Voldemort on the other side of the door. Honestly? He really needed some chocolate.
Harry was starting to get bored. There was almost nothing in the bathroom, not even the things you would expect like towels and soap. It was empty aside from a toilet, sink, mirror, glass shower, and a very large bathtub. Harry was currently sitting on the edge of the tub, contemplating his next move. He couldn't leave the bathroom in fear of Voldemort having been waiting for him all this time, so for now he simply had to sit and wait. Harry almost hoped that Voldemort would try to bust down the door, too egotistical to allow Harry to starve to death. Maybe then he'd had some kind of chance to make a break for it. Harry knew that Voldemort cherished the boy's murder more than any other and would never allow something as simple as starvation to take the boy's life.
Harry decided to lie down in the tub; his bottom was starting to hurt from sitting. As he settled down into the tub he heard something in his mind. Harry…
Harry froze, a smirk forming on his lips. He was going to be rescued. He knew it this time. The voice had always promised to keep him safe, that it was coming. He was sure it was here, he could feel its presence. His time at the Dursley's had been different, Vernon would hurt him, but never came close to actually killing him. Every time Vernon seriously injured the boy the voice would always come and comfort him, heal him. This time was different. This time he was going to die without help, his life was truly in danger. He knew Dumbledore wouldn't let him down. Harry felt hope.
Little snake… Why are you hiding from me?
Hiding? Harry thought, momentarily confused.
Why did the voice think he was hiding from it? It didn't matter, if he could communicate with Dumbledore through it maybe the wizened wizard could help him.
I need help, he thought. I've been kidnapped by Voldemort and I don't know where I am.
I know... Now come out, please.
So Dumbledore knew he was hiding in the Dark Lord's bathroom… very Gryffindor.
I am here… I will keep you safe… the voice whispered. Thank Merlin it had finally come for him.
What about Voldemort? And the snake?
They are gone… I will keep you safe… Harry felt unexpectedly hesitant. The voice had always promised to keep him safe in the past, but that was when he was with the Dursleys. It was different now that the man who wanted to murder him was quite possibly standing on the other side of the door. Harry took a deep breath. He should trust the voice. He had known since the beginning that it had come from Dumbledore, and therefore he should trust it. Why hadn't it saved him from the Dementors though? He thought he had heard it? If anything was life threatening it was a Dementor… but yet he had ended up with Voldemort.
Harry took a deep breath. He didn't have time to waste pondering over the why's. He would just pray that the voice was right and Voldemort and the snake were gone.
Harry walked to the door and unlocked it silently. He slowly and carefully opened it a crack, just enough to peek through. He couldn't see much, but there was no sign of snakeman yet. He opened the door a bit more and stuck his head out. He looked around the room- it was empty. He felt slightly disappointed that there was no one waiting for him on the other side ready to take him away from this place. What had he been expecting? Some kind of physical manifestation of the voice, wand at the ready to fight their way out? The voice just felt so real to him, especially in the past few hours, like its presence had been right beside him. Harry had to remind himself that the voice was just that- a voice. It wasn't a real person, it wasn't his rescuer. It was just a way for Dumbledore to communicate with him.
He stepped out of the safety of the bathroom and searched the floor- there was no man-eating snake in sight. Harry let out a breath he hadn't realized he had been holding. He tip-toed to the door that hopefully led to a hallway of some kind, he would find his way out of this place somehow- the voice would guide him.
He opened the door and was just about to take a peek when the door slammed shut in his face on its own. He grabbed the doorknob and shook it- it was locked.
"Harry, don't panic." He heard from behind him. He spun around just as Voldemort took the disillusionment charm off of himself. "I'm not going to hurt you." Harry just stood and stared for a moment. The man was standing in front of the door to the bathroom, blocking his only escape. "Just listen to me."
"Like hell if I'm going to listen to you!" Harry said, the sentence coming out much stronger than he felt.
"Harry, I have no need to hurt you any longer."
"No need to hurt me?!"
Voldemort finally pulled his bone wand out from his robes and Harry tensed, fully ready to dodge whatever spell Voldemort threw at him. Instead, Voldemort pointed the wand behind him and the bathroom door slammed, Harry didn't have to hear a verbal spell to know that it was now locked. Harry was now trapped.
Ignoring the boy's last comment Voldemort said, "Harry, I need you to sit and listen-"
"I am NOT going to just sit here and wait for you to kill me. They're coming for me. I know it."
"Who? Who's coming for you Harry?"
"…. someone. Dumbledore. He knows I'm here…"
"Dumbledore is not coming for you, he has no knowledge that you are here."
"You don't know that. He told me he's here, or, well…" Harry's voice trailed off. The voice had said it was here… but wasn't that the same as Dumbledore? Maybe no one was actually here yet… but they had to be on their way to rescue him. They had to be. The voice would somehow protect him until they got here.
"Are you talking about the voice in your head?" Voldemort said surprisingly gently. Harry froze, shocked. How did Voldemort know about that?
"W-what are you talking about?" he stuttered.
"You know what I'm talking about Harry…" Voldemort took a few steps towards the boy, which only made Harry back up into the door.
"No. No I don't."
"The voice Harry… I know you keep hearing a voice in your head. It told you it was here, that it would protect you from me. I know-"
"I don't know what you're talking about!" Harry screamed, suddenly overcome with anger. It was scaring him… the fact that Voldemort knew his secret, knew what he had clung to for so many weeks. The one thing that let him know he wasn't alone, that gave him hope. But he could be lying right? Maybe Voldemort was just trying to scare him. If so, it was working.
Voldemort sighed in what almost seemed a sad way. His face showed that he was seemingly trying to make a decision. He knew Harry was not going to like nor accept what he was about to do, but it was necessary. Harry would accept it… eventually.
I'm not trying to scare you…
Harry jolted. Was that-? He tried to keep his face passive, as if he hadn't just heard the voice.
It's me Harry, it's been me all along.