It was a long time before Harry calmed down even the slightest. Once his breathing seemed to be returning to normal, aside from the occasional hiccup, Voldemort moved. He gently guided Harry towards the large bed and sat him down, quietly taking a seat beside him. At first he simply looked at the poor boy. Harry was very thin, verging on unhealthy looking, as if the Dursley's only gave him enough food to get him by each day. His black hair was becoming slightly shaggy, sticking up in every direction, and even for his age he was small. He looked more like a child than a boy who was about to become a teenager. Harry sat with his head hanging, hands resting on his lap, trying to take deep breaths. The two sat in quiet for a long time before Voldemort decided to break the silence.
"How do you feel?" he asked. Harry simply shrugged his shoulders, which Voldemort took as a sign that the boy didn't wish to have a conversation. Voldemort looked around the room uncomfortably… he had simply acted on instinct when Harry had panicked, but now he felt awkward sitting beside the silent boy, not sure at all what to do or say.
"Why did you do it?"
The small unexpected voice startled Voldemort. Harry sat in the same position, eyes facing the floor, and Voldemort wondered for a brief moment if he had imagined the question. Even without the boy elaborating, he knew what Harry was referring to.
"I cannot tell you that right now…" Voldemort said, regretting the fact that he had to keep repeating this answer over and over, but it was true.
"Why? Why can't you just tell me?" Harry's voice wavered, still full of emotion.
"It's in your best interest if-"
"I don't care. I want to know. Tell me."
Voldemort wanted to tell Harry everything- why he was no longer attempting to kill him, why he had visited Harry as the voice. Both were connected, both were for the same reason, but Harry just couldn't handle the truth right now. Voldemort had protected Harry physically, but now he felt the need to protect the boy physically, emotionally, mentally… he didn't have to, but maybe there was a part of him that wanted to. Harry was different than the others…
"You just found out that your enemy not only has no desire to kill you any longer, but has also gone to great lengths to protect you for the past month… how about one shock at a time? Not to mention whatever just happened…"
Harry sighed, maybe he had a point. Plus it wasn't as if he was going to convince the Dark Lord to do anything he didn't want to do. "I won't like it will I? The reason?"
"Probably not." The room was quiet as the two sat in contemplative silence. Harry's mind could hardly wrap around the fact that he had not only been rescued, er, captured by Voldemort, but was now sitting next to him on a bed having a conversation. That stupid voice, he thought. WHY did it have to be Voldemort of all people?!
"Do you trust me?" Voldemort asked, breaking into Harry's thoughts.
Harry finally looked up at the man sitting beside him. "I- I don't know." He said truthfully.
"Do you trust the voice?"
"… yes, but I thought it was Dumbledore." Harry said timidly, not trying to anger Voldemort. "He has no idea I'm here does he?"
"I doubt it. Not yet at least."
"You really make my life difficult ya know?" Harry sarcastically said. Voldemort chuckled and put his hand on the back of the boy's head.
Voldemort felt Harry stiffen under his touch and quickly brought his hand back to his lap. "I won't touch you if it makes you uncomfortable."
"It's ok... no, no it's not. I don't know, I'm so confused!" he huffed, putting his head in his hands. Voldemort felt bad for the boy, he truly did. He had taken so much away from Harry and he almost felt regret for hurting this poor boy so much… almost. Voldemort rarely felt regret for his actions.
Harry held his head in his hands, desperately trying to sort out his emotions. He didn't know up from down anymore, and he certainly didn't know who his enemies were any longer. One day, one day and everything had changed so drastically.
His mind paused for a moment when he heard something, it sounded like something sliding along the floor. He opened his eyes and peeked through his fingers. The snake was back.
Harry let out a shriek at the sight of the massive snake, slithering across the floor towards the two men. Without giving it a thought, Harry jumped up from his spot and backed further up onto the bed, getting his feet off the floor as quickly as possible. He scrambled so that he was crouching behind Voldemort on the bed, peeking over the Dark Lord's shoulder, making sure that he had a continual eye on the snake.
'Master, forgive me. Nagini is so sorry, she was just trying to protect Master. Can Nagini come back please?'
Harry stared at the snake in shock, this being the first time he had really gotten a good look at it. How the hell did Voldemort get a talking snake?!
Voldemort sighed. 'Nagini, you are more trouble than you're worth! I understand you were trying to protect me. Yes, you may stay in my rooms once again.'
'AH! Thank you Master! Thank you sweet Master!'
Voldemort felt the terrified presence of the boy behind him, obviously trying to hide from his pet.
"I guess I should introduce you two."
Harry's mouth fell open, and he gave the back of Voldemort's head a disbelieving look. Does he really want to introduce me to a snake?!
"Yes. I think it would be reasonable since you two will be spending a lot of time together." Voldemort answered Harry's unspoken thought.
Harry's face fell at the reminder that he was stuck in this room until help arrived. "I am NOT staying with that, that THING!"
"She's just a snake, Harry."
"IT'S A MONSTER!"
Again Harry wondered if he had seen the Dark Lord himself roll his eyes. "SHE is not a monster Harry, she's a snake. She's just big."
"BIG?! BIG?! SHE'S MASSIVE!" Voldemort huffed. "She could, and probably WILL, eat me whole!"
"She won't hurt you."
"She already tried to kill me! She said so herself!"
"It was a misund- wait, you can understand Parseltongue?"
"I have no bloody clue what you're talking about."
'Can you understand me?'
'Of course I can' Harry responded back in Parseltongue unconsciously. Voldemort smirked.
'Harry, this is Nagini' he said, gesturing to the snake on the floor.
'…. Well… that's nice to know….I suppose. What is this thing you're talking about though?'
' language of the snakes. You're speaking it now.'
'What?! I most definitely cannot speak to snakes.'
'Listen to yourself. Talk to Nagini.'
'I'm not talking to it.'
'It's a HER Harry… and yes, you will. Say hi and listen.'
Still crouching behind Voldemort, Harry eyed the snake warily, completely unamused by this whole ordeal.
Nagini looked to her Master. 'He's not overly polite is he?'
'I am not shy!' Harry stammered on the last word, realizing that he heard a faint hissing as he spoke. 'I sound funny…' Harry said, trying to listen to his words.
'Only to other people. There are very few wizards who have ever had the ability to speak Parseltongue, it's quite a gift.' It was difficult to hear, butHarry could hear a faint hissing as Voldemort spoke.
'Why would I want to talk to snakes all the time?' Harry said with a look of disgust towards Nagini.
'… I don't like him as much as I used to.' She said.
'You will get used to one another.'
'Hmph.' Harry mumbled.
'At least try to get along'
'I don't even want to be here in the first place!' Harry snapped, climbing off the opposite side of the bed. He felt slightly more comfortable around Nagini with Voldemort in the room, but not enough to be anywhere within striking distance.
Voldemort's red eyes watched as Harry climbed off the bed. Hesitantly he asked, "So, I take it you feel better? What happened?"
Harry instantly knew what Voldemort was referring to. "Oh, um, I don't really know. I just… didn't like the screams." He said awkwardly.
Harry hesitated, "The same thing happened with the Dementors…"
Voldemort looked curiously at the boy. "What do you mean?"
"The screams. I heard my moth- I mean, I heard someone screaming... in my head."
His mother. Voldemort knew that's what he had been about to say. "You hear her, don't you? Your mother?"
Harry looked uncomfortable, looking anywhere but at Voldemort's eyes. "Sometimes…" he mumbled quietly.
Awkwardness permeated the room and Harry desperately wanted to break the silence, to change the subject as quickly as possible. "So any idea how the Dementors got through the wards arou-" Harry quickly stopped, realizing he had just told Voldemort about the wards protecting the area around Privet Drive.
"I know about the wards Harry." Voldemort said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. "You can't imagine that I would think the Light would simply leave their Savior unguarded."
"Oh…" Harry felt extremely stupid, of course Voldemort knew about the wards… Harry looked towards the pale man who had stood from his place on the bed. "Doesn't really matter now anyway I guess…"
"I thought the Dementors were guarding Azkaban?" Harry asked.
"There was a break out last month. Almost half of the prisoners escaped, it's been chaos ever since. Most of the Dementors abandoned their posts…"
"Prisoners escaped?! How did they get out?!" Harry asked, eyes wide. He hadn't been a part of the Wizarding World for long, but he was under the impression that Azkaban was one of the most heavily guarded prisons in the world.
"The Ministry has wasted a lot of effort trying to figure that out, they assume it was me."
"And it wasn't?"
"Of course it was, who else could possibly get in? I had a few of my best followers in Azkaban, I needed them out." Harry waited for more of an explanation. "The Dementors have been on our side for a while now. I ordered them to continue to guard the prison as the Ministry had instructed and simply waited until I needed them."
Harry didn't know what to say. How much of the Wizarding World did Voldemort control?
A few moments passed. "You're quiet." Voldemort finally said.
"Oh, I'm just… thinking." Harry said. "I thought you didn't want to hurt me? Why did you send the Dementors to Little Whinging?"
"I didn't. I would never order someone to harm you…"
"Ah, yeah… so my couple of run-ins with the Death Eaters over the past year or so have just been a misunderstanding?" Voldemort frowned at the boy, feeling exasperated over the whole issue. Harry continued, the boy's normal sarcasm slipping through once more. "Ok, ok I get it, you don't have to hex me again. So how did the Dementors even get through the wards?"
"I… I had been weakening them for some time so that I myself could get to you… this was before things… changed."
"Changed." Harry said, getting tired of not understanding why Voldemort had so suddenly stopped wanting him dead.
"Yes, changed. From what I can gather, the Dementors were simply trying to feed and broke through the weakened wards. I did not foresee- I did not think…" Voldemort uncharacteristically stumbled over his words for a brief moment. "I assumed you were safe. I assumed incorrectly and I regret that greatly, which I do not often do."
"I'm safe now though right?" Harry paused, utterly shocked at what he had just said. Did he really think he was safe here? With the Death Eaters wandering about? With the giant snake continually popping up out of nowhere? With Voldemort?
Harry thought he saw the smallest of smiles on Voldemort's face if only for a moment. "Yes… yes you are safe now."
Harry felt the need to cover up his question. "So long as you promise to keep that monster away from me." Harry jumped as he heard a sharp hiss from the other side of the room.
"I won't promise anything if you two don't start at least trying getting along."
Harry rolled his eyes as Voldemort moved back towards his desk, presumably to finish what he had been working on what seemed like hours ago.
Harry moved towards one of the large armchairs by the fire, deftly avoiding the large snake on the floor giving him the stink eye. Harry collapsed into the chair, somehow feeling tired even though he had woken up a mere couple of hours ago. He glanced over to the man sitting at the desk who was now back to reading.
I hope you realize I'm going to make it my new life goal to find out what kind of 'paperwork' you do… Harry thought with a smirk.