Pairing: Harry/Voldemort, Harry/Tom, Harry/Voldemort/Snape, other minor pairings (het and slash)
Warnings: manipulation, mind-fucking, dubious consent, minor character death
Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling owns Harry Potter and everyone else you recognize in this story.
Word count: ~ 62800
Summary: Voldemort is finally dead, or so the wizarding world believes. Unfortunately, Harry knows better.
A/N: Written for author #13, ziasudra_fic, who asked for Harry/Voldemort and Harry/Tom, a post-war dystopia, featuring OutForOwnGood!Voldemort and TryingToSaveWorld!Harry, coexistence becoming a battle of wills, complicated manipulation, psychological tension, fights for dominance, unwillingness to compromise, dark humor, and dubious consent. Possibly a mention of the giant squid. *g*
I'm not sure if this is what you had in mind with your request, but I tried to take everything you asked for and give a nice little spin to it. I saw in your ad that you're also a Snape fan, so I hope you don't mind me adding him to the mix.
Thanks to my beta readers, regan_v, ella_bane, snapetoy, and gmth. And thanks to the lovely Llama for being so patient with me. ♥
"Harry? Can you hear us?"
It sounded like Hermione, if Hermione were talking through a metal pipe at the other end of the room.
Wait, what room?
There was light now, filtering through the cracks his tired eyelids made. Harry wasn't sure where he was or what was going on, just that there had been darkness before. Now there was light. He supposed it was an improvement.
"Look, his eyes!" Still the strangely distorted Hermione, though now more voices echoed around him, all talking about his eyes for some reason he didn't understand.
A hand was touching his hand, he could feel that. It squeezed, and he squeezed back as hard as he could. It wasn't very hard, but still enough to trigger a squeak from whomever was touching him. It sounded like Ginny.
"Oh God, Harry. Yes, come on, open your eyes."
Hermione's words were enough to make his body obey. Harry's eyes fell open, and for a moment he was blinded. So much light. So white. Then blurry shapes came into view, and the next thing he knew was a weight leaning on him and Hermione's bushy hair tickling his face. Her weight was replaced with Ginny's, who still smelled like flowers. She placed a small kiss on the corner of Harry's mouth. It felt strangely dry.
"Harry, can you hear us now?" That was Ron, and Harry managed to turn his head and see the figure of his best friend standing at the side of his bed.
Wait, his bed?
"You're in St Mungo's," Hermione said. She kept stroking his arm, as though afraid if she stopped she might lose him again.
But she hadn't lost him, had she?
"Wha-" Harry couldn't force more than that tiny sound past his vocal chords. Everything -- his throat, his tongue, his lips -- felt useless.
"Here, drink something." Ginny pressed a glass against his lips and water trickled down Harry's throat. It was the best thing he'd ever tasted. Sweet and clear, and Harry moaned when she took the glass away. "You can't have too much at once, sorry."
"Do you remember the battle at Hogsmeade?" Hermione asked. Harry managed a crooked nod, his chin falling to his chest. "You faced Voldemort. You killed him, Harry. But he hit you with something. We're not quite sure what it was, not even the healers here were able to give you a proper diagnosis --"
"What she's trying to say," Ron interrupted. Harry could hear the grin in his voice. "You were in a coma for the last four weeks."
"Three-and-a-half," Ginny said, squeezing his hand again.
He'd been in a coma? He didn't remember any of that. He remembered the battle, he remembered facing Voldemort on the hills outside Hogsmeade in the fading light of dusk. He remembered casting a Killing Curse. And then things got a bit foggy.
A coma, apparently.
"Mr Potter. Glad to see you are finally awake." This new voice came from a woman Harry didn't recognize, but her green robes told him she was probably a healer. "If you would please give us a few moments," she said to Harry's friends. "I'll make sure he's all right."
His friends left the room, and Harry lay quietly as the healer performed spell after spell.
He'd been in a coma. But Voldemort was dead. Well, that was worth a whole lot more than sleeping for a couple of weeks.
By the time the healer was done and wrote down a list of potions he needed to take, Harry managed a smile.
"And Neville was hospitalized for a few days, but the healers here cured him completely," Hermione said. "He'll visit you soon, I'm sure."
Harry nodded at her. He was pleased to hear most of his friends had made it out of the battle alive. Only Moody had been killed, sadly. And plenty of Death Eaters, though Harry felt far less sorry for that.
He was sitting up now, after a night of real sleep. All his functions were returning to him. His eyes were all right, though he still needed his glasses, of course. His voice sounded like himself. And his eye-hand coordination had vastly improved; he could drink from a glass of water without spilling a drop.
"What about Snape?" he asked. He'd wanted to take out Snape himself that evening in Hogsmeade, but he hadn't found the man, and Voldemort had been more important.
Hermione cleared her throat. "There are some things you don't know yet," she said, and she sounded apologetic. Harry was sure he wasn't going to like whatever he didn't know. "There has been a trial, and Snape had evidence Dumbledore had given him. Pensieve memories and a written testimony."
"What happened to him?" Harry asked, getting impatient now. "Please tell me he's at least been sentenced to life in Azkaban?"
"He's been acquitted of all charges." Hermione stared down at her hands, and Harry looked at Ron and Ginny, silently pleading them to tell him Hermione was joking.
She had to be joking.
"Dumbledore made Snape kill him," Ginny said. She sounded far less apologetic, though she wouldn't meet Harry's eyes. "With an Unbreakable Vow. Snape had no choice in it."
"Oh for fuck's sake," Harry said. "I was there! He killed Dumbledore!"
"He did," Ron said with a solemn nod. "But Dumbledore was already dying. The curse that blackened his hand was slowly killing him. He wouldn't have lived past the summer."
Harry looked down. He felt drowsy all of a sudden and his head ached, as if he'd spent a day under the scorching sun instead of four weeks in a coma.
"Snape was on Dumbledore's side all along?" His voice was a whisper, but it still sounded cold. So cold a chill ran down his back.
"He was. All the information Shacklebolt had on the last two Horcruxes? It came from Snape." Hermione was rubbing her own arm now, looking uncomfortable. "Apparently Shacklebolt was the only one who knew, or rather found out, about Snape's true allegiance. Without that information you wouldn't have found those Horcruxes."
"I know that!" Harry snapped. The force behind his own voice made him recoil. "Well, fuck."
"No one's really happy about this," Ron said with a shrug. "But they couldn't convict him for doing something he was forced into. Something Dumbledore himself wanted."
"Right," Harry said unconvincingly. He was imagining Snape jerking at his feet under a Cruciatus Curse. He sagged back in the pillows.
"We should probably go," Hermione said. "You need to rest. We'll be back tomorrow."
"All right," Harry sighed. He was getting tired. His body wasn't used yet to being awake a whole day. He got a kiss on his cheek from Hermione and Ginny, Ron patted him on his shoulder, and then the room was quiet and Harry was left with his thoughts.
"Fucking Snape," he muttered, his eyes drooping shut as he made himself as comfortable as he could under the hospital sheets.
"That filthy traitor."
"Yeah. Fucking traitor."
"He deserves to die for what he did to us."
"Yeah," Harry said, again seeing Snape bloodied and broken at his feet.
"We must kill that traitor."
"Yeah – what?" Harry snapped his eyes open and looked around the room. It was empty.
Had there been a voice just now? He was sure he'd heard something. Perhaps his mind was playing tricks on him. He was awfully tired.
Sleep would help, he was sure of it.
Harry closed his eyes again. Yes, he wanted to see Snape dead. But he wasn't actually going to kill Snape if he'd been acquitted. That made Harry himself a criminal, and Harry had no desire to spend the rest of his life in Azkaban.
Besides, Voldemort was dead. That was the most important thing, Harry told himself. Voldemort was dead for good.
Rich laughter echoed through Harry's head right before sleep captured him.
A week after Harry had woken up from his coma, he stepped out of the fireplace at the Burrow. Mrs Weasley pressed him to her bosom, and Mr Weasley shook his hand so hard Harry was worried his arm would pop out of its socket.
"We're having a big dinner to celebrate. Everyone's coming," Mrs Weasley said, returning to the stove where she stirred several pots and pans.
"And Minerva sent word," Mr Weasley said, taking Harry's trunk from him. "You three are welcome to start your seventh year this September first. Hogwarts is reopening."
Hermione beamed. "That's only two more weeks."
Groaning, Ron tugged on Harry's sleeve. "Come on, you're staying in my room. Let's get you settled in."
Ron hauled Harry's trunk up the stairs, and once inside Ron's room, Harry unpacked a few clothes while Ron rattled on about something the twins had done to Bill's house a few days before.
It was good to be able to pay attention to mindless things again after a year of chasing pieces of Voldemort's soul around the country. It was more than good to know he could now finally start a life that was his own instead of having to fear Voldemort or live up to everyone else's expectations.
His life was his own now, and Harry planned on making good use of it.
"What are you smiling about?" Ron asked, giving him a dubious look.
"Nothing," Harry said, his smile morphing into a grin. "Everything."
"Meet me in my room when Ron's asleep," Ginny whispered in his ear by the time people got up from the dinner table.
Harry, who'd been listening to something Lupin was telling, knocked over his glass of pumpkin juice. Ginny giggled, and Harry grinned at her as he performed a cleaning charm.
Mrs Weasley hadn't been lying when she said everyone was coming for dinner. Lupin and Tonks were seated across from Harry, Shacklebolt was discussing something to do with the Ministry with Mr Weasley, Bill was arguing with the twins about their latest so-called prank, Fleur and Hermione were having a deep conversation about NEWTs, and Mrs Weasley started sending empty dishes and pans to the kitchen.
The only ones not there were Charlie, who was still in Romania, and Percy, who had yet to make amends with his family.
When the table was empty, Harry got up as well. Bill gave him a slap on his shoulder, the twins offered him a bag of their latest merchandise, and Tonks gave him a hug.
"Don't be a stranger, Harry," Lupin said, shaking his hand.
Shacklebolt was next. "So, can I expect you at my department at the end of this school year?"
"I'm thinking about it," Harry said, and he shook Kingsley's large hand.
"Off to bed with you." Mrs Weasley ushered Harry and his friends inside and up the stairs.
Harry followed Ron into his room, feeling sated and anxious all at once. Ron got into his pajamas and was asleep almost as soon as his head hit his pillow. Harry got into his pajamas as well, and sat on his bed with a pounding heart, waiting until the noise outside Ron's bedroom door died down.
After having counted to a hundred several times, Harry got up and tiptoed out of Ron's room, across the narrow hall, and into Ginny's room.
"Hey," Ginny said. She was sitting up in her bed, with only the small lamp on her bedside table illuminating the room.
"Hullo." Harry closed the door behind him, and Ginny gave the mattress a pat, inviting Harry to join her. He did, though he sat a small distance away from her. He was nervous, as was expected, since he and Ginny hadn't actually been together in her bedroom before like this.
Ginny was wearing a white nightgown with little yellow flowers, and she pulled it over her head to reveal skin that looked creamy even in the dim light. She took Harry's hand and placed it over her breast. Harry sighed as he touched the soft curve, and he shifted closer and closer, until Ginny leaned back and let Harry crawl half on top of her.
His mouth found Ginny's, and Harry trailed his hand down Ginny's warm belly until his fingers touched the cotton of her underwear.
"I don't like redheads."
Blinking his eyes open, Harry stared down at Ginny's flushed face. "What?"
"I don't like redheads." Harry's eyes widened when he heard his own voice speaking words he wasn't thinking.
"What?" Ginny asked with a frown.
"Nothing." Harry sat up, shifting a bit to hide his obvious erection caught in his pajama bottoms.
"Besides, I do prefer my own gender. I have no desire to sit through your pathetic attempts at intercourse with a woman, Harry."
Harry drew back as if Ginny had burned him and promptly fell off the bed.
"What's wrong?" Ginny sat up and reached for her nightgown.
"Nothing." Harry thought frantically. He was hearing voices. He was going insane.
There! There it was. Harry stared at Ginny as if hoping she had the answer, but Ginny stared right back at him as she held her nightgown in front of her naked breasts.
"I'm sorry," Harry said, fumbling to his feet. "I think...er...the coma...I'm not quite my old self yet."
"Oh." Ginny looked down, and Harry heard the disappointment in her voice. It made him wince.
"Stop being so melodramatic, Harry."
He was definitely going insane. He needed to get out of there.
"Finally, a decent decision."
"I'm sorry," Harry said again, and rushed out of Ginny's room. He walked down the stairs, even though he really wanted to run, and in the kitchen he burst out of the back door and into the night. He didn't stop but kept running and running until the Burrow was a distant shadow and he was out of breath.
The pond looked almost black against the dark-blue sky, and Harry stared at the still water as he inhaled deep breaths.
There was something in his head. Someone.
"Who are you?" Harry said. His voice sounded small in the darkness around him. "What's going on?"
"Harry, you disappoint me. Surely you have figured it out by now."
That voice wasn't coming out of his mouth this time. It was in his head.
"It's not exactly a difficult riddle."
Harry's mouth dropped open right after it had once again spoken words that weren't his own. What had it said? It wasn't a --
"No," Harry said, shaking his head.
"Come now, Harry."
"No, I killed you."
"I destroyed your Horcruxes. All of them."
Laughter tickled Harry's mind. It made him squirm. And then a sharp flare of pain burned his forehead, pain he'd thought he'd never feel again. Harry sank to his knees and clutched at his head.
"You can't be in here!"
"You can't possess me for very long. Dumbledore said so!" The pain ebbed away and Harry looked up, half expecting Voldemort to stand there. But there was only darkness.
"Ah, yes, I can see everything Dumbledore has told you about me. But you are not the same boy you were two years ago."
"Huh?" Harry blinked and let himself fall onto his arse. He was too numb to stand up.
"You are a killer now, Harry Potter. A murderer."
"How can I be a murderer when I didn't actually kill you?"
A snicker made Harry's eyes twitch. "A Killing Curse separates the soul from the body, and that constitutes murder. No matter my soul is still here, safely inside of you."
Harry's stomach turned over and over, and he threw up his dinner right there in the grass.
"Your own soul is split. Your own mind has darkness in it now. You are tainted. And perfectly suited to be my host for the time being."
He had to tell someone! Hermione, she'd know what to do.
"Don't be stupid. What do you think people will do once they find out you are Lord Voldemort? Azkaban, surely, or perhaps even the Kiss to suck both our souls out."
That was it! He could drown himself in the pond right there and then. Kill himself, and Voldemort would be --
"Harry, think! You kill yourself and I find a new host. Oh, that little girlfriend of yours is already quite familiar with my soul, isn't she?"
"Don't you fucking dare!" Harry found enough strength to jump up to this feet. "Don't you dare go anywhere near Ginny!"
"How sad that you'll have to break up with your little sweetheart then to keep me from her."
Shit. He hadn't actually considered that part yet. If he went anywhere near Ginny now, he was carrying Voldemort along for the ride. His stomach turned again, but it was empty this time.
"Let's make a deal. You don't do anything rash and stupid, and I won't go anywhere near those dear friends of yours."
"I'm not making deals with you!"
"Why don't I go visit your girlfriend right now. What will you do about it? Kill her? Tell the authorities? I'm sure she won't mind spending her life in Azkaban."
Fuck. Fuck. Harry kicked at the grass, though what he really wanted to do was throttle someone. Voldemort could possess anyone he wanted, any of Harry's friends, like he'd done Quirrell. "Fine. We'll make that deal," Harry said. Besides, he could always tell Hermione anyway and get her to find a way to exorcise Voldemort.
"Already thinking of betraying me, Harry?"
"You can hear anything I think, can't you?" Harry asked, even though he already knew the answer.
"Smart boy. I can see all your thoughts, all your memories. You have no idea how much I have enjoyed spending these past few weeks in your mind, going through each and every detail while you slept the days away."
Harry hung his head. For the first time in his life, he felt truly defeated.
As he made his way back to the Burrow, Harry knew exactly what to do. No, that wasn't quite true. He knew exactly what not to do.
He couldn't tell anyone. He had no doubt Ron and Hermione would stick by him and try to find a solution, but he wasn't so sure about everyone else. He couldn't imagine Lupin or Shacklebolt or even Mr Weasley being that patient once they found out Harry had Voldemort living in his head.
And Ginny... well, he didn't want to put Ginny through the horrid ordeal she had to live through in his second year. He wasn't sure how she was going to react once she discovered Harry was possessed.
Maybe he could tell Ron and Hermione – no, Voldemort would go after them.
A satisfied chuckle echoed through his mind as he opened the door and slipped inside the dark kitchen.
Which was also the reason he couldn't stay at the Burrow. He didn't want to put his friends in danger. He'd been dealing with Voldemort all his life. He could handle it.
"You are very sure of yourself, aren't you, Harry?"
"Shut up," Harry muttered. He walked up the stairs without a sound to Ron's room, where he packed his clothes into his trunk and shrunk it. Then he went downstairs again. He found parchment and a quill on the mantle and penned down a quick note.
Sorry to leave like this, but everything has been a bit overwhelming. I need some time to rest and think about things. I'm all right, don't worry. Owl me if you have any questions.
He left it on the kitchen table, and used the fireplace to floo to Grimmauld Place. Once the green flames died down, Harry stood in the darkness of the basement kitchen, unsure what to do next. He realized he was still in his pajamas, his shrunken trunk in his hand, and decided he might as well go to bed and try to come up with a solution tomorrow.
Voldemort was oddly quiet, and for a moment Harry thought perhaps the Fidelius Charm which was still active on the old house had kept him out.
Then again, perhaps not. A quick Lumos later, and Harry found his way upstairs, to his bedroom, the one he'd used since the previous summer, when he'd used the house as his base for hunting Horcruxes.
Inside his bedroom, Harry lit the lamp on his nightstand with a flick of his wand, and enlarged his trunk at the foot of his bed. He sighed and lay down on the cool sheets, wand still in his hand. He rested it on his belly and stared at the ceiling.
"What do you want?" he asked.
"Besides world domination?"
Despite the trouble he was in, Harry snickered. Or perhaps in spite of it. A part of him felt tight with nervousness, another part of him was angry enough to want to hurt someone, and yet another part just wanted to laugh at the complete absurdity of it all.
"Yes, besides the obvious."
"I think the answer should be obvious, Harry. I want my body back."
"Sorry, I think the last one was burned to ashes a couple of weeks ago," Harry said, and grinned. "Perhaps you should be more careful with your bodies. You keep losing them."
"Perhaps you should be more careful what you say to me, child. I can still hurt you." And to demonstrate his point, a flare of pain exploded from Harry's scar.
"Fuck! Stop that!" Harry squeezed his eyes shut and rubbed at his forehead.
"Address me with proper respect, and I'll gladly leave your scar alone."
"The day I treat you with proper respect, is the day the Chudley Cannons take home the National Quidditch Cup." More pain burned through his mind, and Harry yanked his glasses off so he could press his palms over his eyes as he gritted his teeth. "Fine! I get the point! Just tell me what you expect me to do. You need my blood? Do you want me to go to that graveyard and help perform that ritual again?"
"For now, all I need from you is to be my host."
"Great," Harry muttered. He turned on his side and placed his wand on his nightstand. "How long is 'for now'?"
"Until I think of a way to regain my body."
"And you think I'll just play along with this? You think I'll let you get your body back?"
"Certainly. Your only other choice is to live with me for the rest of your life."
Harry shuddered at the idea of being stuck with Voldemort until he was old and gray. No, he didn't want Voldemort to get his body back. But on the other hand, Harry wanted a proper life of his own, and he knew that was impossible with Voldemort possessing his body. Then again, he wouldn't have a normal life if Voldemort got his body back, either.
"There is no winning this, Harry. It is best if you just accept that."
"Right," Harry sighed, though he had no intention of ever accepting it. There had to be a way out of this without allowing Voldemort --
"I wonder what your pretty little girlfriend is doing now. She must be heartbroken after the way you ran out on her tonight. Perhaps she'd like a little company."
"Stop it!" Harry curled his fingers around his pillow, grasping so hard his hand ached. He couldn't plot a way to get rid of Voldemort. He couldn't tell anyone. He couldn't do or even think anything without Voldemort knowing each and every detail.
"Like I said, it is best to just accept it."
"Never," Harry whispered, and turned off the light. "Now shut up and let me sleep."
"Good night, Harry."
"Good night, Tom," Harry said with an inward smirk. A small spark of pain flared up around his scar, but it was nothing compared to the pain he'd felt earlier. Perhaps Voldemort was tired, too.
"I am tired. Now stop thinking so I can get some sleep."
"You sleep when you're like this?"
Harry reached for the sheets and pulled them up to his chin, nestling his face deeper into his pillow. He had Voldemort stuck inside him. It was a bizarre notion, and if he thought about it too long he wanted to go take a scalding shower and scrub himself clean, but he was too tired to move. He concentrated as best he could with his mind drifting half-way to sleep and tried to feel Voldemort inside him, like he were some parasite curling inside his brain. He sensed nothing, only his own deep breathing and his own thoughts keeping him awake.
"How come I can't feel you?"
"We can talk more tomorrow. Go to sleep."
"Maybe I'm really just going mad, and this is me imagining I have Voldemort inside of me." Harry felt the sensation of a suffering sigh breeze through him. It made him grin.
When he woke, Harry experienced one magnificent moment of peace as his mind tried to reel in all recent events. He had defeated Voldemort. He was a free man. He could finally do --
"Good morning, Harry."
Harry buried his face in his pillow and contemplated tearing it to bits with his teeth.
"Such drama first thing in the morning."
Inhaling a deep breath, Harry sat up and stared at the curtains covering the window. There was light behind them. Had he actually slept through the night? Odd. He'd expected to toss and turn for hours, knowing he had Voldemort stuck in his head.
"And let you ruin my rest? Surely not."
"What?" Harry swung his legs over the side of his bed and rubbed a hand across his face. "What's your rest got to do with anything? It's still my body."
"But of course."
Harry frowned. He didn't trust Voldemort's sudden agreement one bit. "Wait. You made me sleep through the night? And the coma? That was you as well, wasn't it?"
"I merely needed some time to sort through your mind, Harry. Put my own thoughts in order and decide how to proceed."
"You kept me in a coma for four fucking weeks because you needed time to think?" Harry jumped up and wished he could hit Voldemort. But he had no intention of hitting himself, so instead he kicked against the desk chair.
Harry released a strangled scream, and stomped inside his bathroom. He yanked off his pajamas and got into the shower, turning the water on so hot it came close to scalding his skin. He rested both hands against the tiled wall, lowering his head so he could let the water pound on his neck and back.
"Why couldn't you just die, you fucker."
No reply came, and Harry raised his head, blinking his eyes against the water running down from his forehead.
"Oh, now you keep quiet, you miserable bastard."
A nasty twinge shot through his head, but Harry ignored it. He reached for the shampoo and poured enough for a small army on his hair. God, but he needed to get clean. The idea of having Voldemort inside him, inside his head, his flesh, his bones, made his skin crawl.
"I was supposed to be done with this," he muttered, rubbing furiously at his hair, suds flying everywhere. "I was supposed to have a nice, long holiday before finally moving on with my life."
"No one is keeping you from having a holiday."
"Besides the maniac inside my head!" Another flash of pain burst from his scar, and Harry gritted his teeth.
"Go have your holiday, Harry. I certainly won't keep you from it."
"But you won't piss off, either."
"Not until I have worked everything out, no."
Sighing, Harry rinsed his hair. He reached for the soap and ran it across his chest down to his groin. Well, there went his morning wank. There was no way he was touching that part of himself with Voldemort watching.
"Such modesty. Though I certainly won't demand celibacy. Please, go right ahead."
Harry felt a little sick at the thought of sharing an orgasm with the likes of Voldemort. He quickly turned off the water and dried himself off. He refused to even look at his dick, knowing Voldemort would see it too, even when he positioned himself in front of the toilet to take a piss.
"You know what?" he said as he tried to tame his hair in front of the mirror. "I am going to have a holiday. You're not going to stop me from doing the things I planned to do."
"I wouldn't dream of it." The mock-honest tone of Voldemort's voice made Harry shiver. He brushed his teeth, and then hurried to find some clothes to cover his body.
"Might I suggest a visit to an old friend of ours to start off this holiday?"
Harry narrowed his eyes as he slipped into his trainers. "Who?"
"Snape. I'd like to have a word with him."
"No!" Harry fumbled with the laces, his hands suddenly trembling. "No, no, and no. We're not going to see Snape just so you can torture his arse."
"Ah, but doesn't our traitor deserve a spot of the Cruciatus?"
"So Aurors can throw my arse into Azkaban just because you want revenge? Again, I say no. And you can't make me."
The silence that followed confirmed that Voldemort most likely couldn't make him do anything, for which Harry was grateful. He needed to figure out how much control Voldemort did have over him. And until he did, he couldn't see any of his friends. The idea of Voldemort forcing Harry to hurt Hermione or Ron or Ginny or anyone else was enough to make his stomach turn.
Harry made his way down to the kitchen. Voldemort could control his sleep, and his scar, and sometimes, his voice. But not his body. That was something, at least.
"You didn't disagree."
"Huh?" Harry carried cornflakes and milk to the kitchen table.
"You didn't disagree that Severus deserves to be tortured." Voldemort sounded quite pleased with himself.
"No comment." Harry poured cornflakes in a bowl, and drowned them with milk.
A satisfied chuckle echoed through his mind. "Ah, but I can see here that you'd love to see dear Severus writhe in agony. What a pleasant little fantasy, Harry. I didn't know you had it in you to dream of torturing a helpless man."
"Snape's hardly helpless," Harry said in between bites of cornflakes.
"Oh, but he will be once I get my hands on him."
"I think you mean my hands."
"In your dreams."
"And yours, Harry. Such glorious, dark dreams."
Harry pushed his bowl of cornflakes away. He'd suddenly lost his appetite.
"So where is this holiday of yours taking us?
Harry shrugged. "Not sure yet. We'll see." He checked for his wallet and wand, and pulled the front door closed. "I just want to do normal things. All the things I've never been able to do because you were after me."
"And now you get to do them with me. Imagine that."
"Yeah, imagine that," Harry said. He squared his shoulders, again determined to not let Voldemort's presence ruin his plans. He'd ruined enough already. Harry was going to have his summer of doing normal things, and if Voldemort didn't like it, he could just fuck off.
Harry stopped at the first corner store he could find and bought a Muggle tourist guide to London. While he'd been to London enough times – and he even lived there now – he'd never seen much of it. Besides the trip to the London Zoo with the Dursleys when he was eleven, but Harry rather didn't think of them at all.
"Why?" Harry asked. He stood outside the shop, paging through the tourist guide.
"It saves me the trouble of shifting through your mind until I find the memory."
Sighing, Harry closed the book, and recalled how the Dursleys had dragged him along against their will. An involuntary smile tugged on his lips. "I talked to a snake that day," he said. "I didn't even know I was a wizard yet."
"And they punished you for it, didn't they? Your family?"
"So you've found my memory after all."
"No, I merely know what Muggles are like."
Harry decided not to comment on that and opened the guide again. "This looks interesting. The Natural History Museum."
"A Muggle museum? A sure way to waste your money."
"Actually, it says that the entry is free." Harry answered Voldemort's snort with a grin, and then smiled when he found a handy map of the London Underground in the back of the guide. "South Kensington station," he muttered to himself, closed the guide and slipped it into the back pocket of his jeans.
"You're taking the tube? You're a wizard. Apparate!"
"We're going to a Muggle destination. If you don't like the tube, why don't you just go find someone else to bother?"
The twinge of pain in his scar was worth it, Harry told himself, and he went looking for the nearest station.
"They are bones. Very old bones. Honestly, Harry, even Muggles must have something more interesting on display than this."
"They're dinosaurs," Harry whispered, staring up into the impressive mouth of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. "They're interesting."
"This is your idea of a holiday? Staring at bones from dead animals?"
"It's more than what you managed to leave behind." Harry was unprepared for the surge of pain that followed, and he doubled over, clutching at his head.
"Are you all right?" a woman standing some distance away asked.
"Fine, thanks. Just a migraine," Harry said, righting himself. He quickly found a secluded corner and took off his glasses to rub his eyes. "Don't bloody well do that when we're in public."
"Keep your tongue in check, and I will leave your scar alone."
"Look, this is my holiday and I want to see this museum. " Harry slid his glasses back on, heaving an exhausted sigh. Having Voldemort provide running commentary on everything he did proved very tiresome.
"Very well, if you let me choose this afternoon's entertainment."
"What part of this is my holiday didn't you understand?"
"The part where you're dragging me along to inane Muggle museums."
"Not my fault. You can bugger off whenever you want."
"Ah yes, I suppose I could spend the afternoon getting reacquainted with your pretty little girlfriend."
"Don't you fucking dare!" Harry flinched when his voice echoed around the hall and several heads turned his way. He managed an apologetic smile, and pondered the idea of getting one of those mobile phones so he could at least pretend to be talking to someone else.
"The book. Open it to where you found this Muggle monstrosity."
Harry opened the guide and found the correct page. He frowned as he tried to figure out what Voldemort wanted.
"There. The museum at the bottom. It sounds far more interesting than looking at extinct animals all day."
"The London Dungeon? Brings more than 2,000 years of gruesomely authentic history vividly back to life and death? Are you kidding me?" Harry slapped the guide shut. "I'm not going to some torture museum."
"Why ever not? They have a display on Jack the Ripper."
"What the hell do you want with Jack the Ripper?"
"I grew up in the East End, as you well know, Harry." A warmth filled Harry, as though Voldemort was remembering something exceptionally pleasant. "I used to tell bedtime stories of Jack the Ripper to the younger boys at the orphanage. It never failed to scare them witless."
"Oh, you would," Harry muttered. This whole idea of finally having his well-earned holiday had turned out to be a farce. He was stuck with Voldemort, no matter how hard he tried to pretend he wasn't. He had to find a way to get rid of Voldemort, but Voldemort was right fucking there --
Harry squeezed his eyes shut. It was suddenly hard to breathe and he itched to hold his wand, though he didn't know why.
"The only choice I am going giving you is this. Either you take me to see Severus this afternoon, or we go to this torture museum."
"We're not going to see Snape," Harry said. His voice sounded raw, as if he was bleeding on the inside. As if Voldemort's presence made his body rot and fester. Any moment now, his flesh would fall off his bones in great decaying strips --
"Pull yourself together, Harry! It won't do either of us any good for you to lose your sanity. Accept what is and stop wishing for the impossible!"
Harry sucked in a deep breath. "We'll go to that museum," he said. How could he feel so empty when Voldemort was inside him? "But we're not done here yet. I get the morning here."
It was his body. His fucking holiday. He shouldn't have to compromise with Voldemort on anything. And yet there he was, debating Muggle museums with his worst enemy. Harry shook his head and strolled back to the dinosaurs on display.
"It's got big teeth," he said, hoping to at least stir off more critique from Voldemort. He liked the Tyrannosaurus Rex. It was hard to imagine something that big and powerful had once roamed the earth. Well, if you didn't count dragons, that was. Voldemort remained silent, so Harry tried again. "I bet it was a really good killer."
"Yeah, he's wicked, isn't he?" a boy on his right said, eyes alight as he looked up at Harry with a wide grin.
"Yeah," Harry agreed with a weak smile.
Harry hated to admit it, but The London Dungeon was actually interesting. He learned a lot about the great plague and the great fire of London, and even the special display on Jack the Ripper was intriguing, in a disturbing sort of way.
Voldemort certainly seemed to be enjoying himself, which meant he was mostly quiet and left Harry to his own thoughts as he strolled through the museum.
"And people claim Muggles are all innocence," Voldemort said as they stared at a display of a caged rat eating its way through a man's belly. "I certainly never used such barbaric tactics when -- "
"You killed my parents, you fucking bastard!" Harry whispered harshly. "Don't you dare go claiming you're a godsend compared to whatever Muggles did centuries ago!"
"Your parents' deaths were unfortunate, but at least I made it quick and painless."
"Don't," Harry said through gritted teeth. "Don't go making excuses for what you did to my parents and me." He turned on his heels, bumped into a few tourists, and marched to the nearest exit. "We're done here," he said. Voldemort didn't object, but Harry knew that in this case his silence meant nothing.
Having dinner at a McDonalds hadn't gone over well with Voldemort, much to Harry's amusement. If he couldn't kick the bastard out, he could sure as hell annoy the stuffing out of him with trivial Muggle customs. Harry chomped down a Big Mac and a large serving of fries, and then took the tube to Leicester Square, taking occasional slurps from his Coke.
"What's our purpose here?"
"We're going to see a movie," Harry said. He kept his head down as he navigated his way through crowds of tourists and locals, all looking for a good time. Voldemort gave a loud snort that made Harry's lips twitch.
"Honestly. At least there is some educational value in visiting a museum, even a Muggle one, but a movie? A complete waste of our time."
"This will be educational. Based on a true story. You'll like it. Lots of people die." Harry took another sip of his coke and stopped under a tree across from the Odeon. "It's about the Titanic. It's this big ship that -- "
"I do know what the Titanic is. I'm not a complete idiot."
Harry snickered. "Well, it's a Muggle thing. I figured you might have repressed it."
"Know your enemy, Harry. Never repress them."
"Yeah, sure," Harry said without much conviction. He drank the last of his Coke and deposited the paper cup in a nearby rubbish bin. "Remember, my holiday. I was planning to see this movie with my friends – Hermione has been babbling about seeing it for a while – but since I'm now stuck with you, you'll have to suffer through it."
"And suffer I will, no doubt." Harry felt a peculiar sensation, as if Voldemort squared his shoulders inside him. "Very well. We shall go and see this movie. Seeing hundreds of Muggles die in icy waters might be entertaining after all."
Sighing, Harry got in line to buy a ticket.
"It proves nothing, other than that love will turn you into a complete imbecile and make you drop a fortune into the ocean when you're old and senile."
Harry chuckled. He'd liked the movie just fine, though the romantic bits had been lost on him. Perhaps Hermione would have appreciated them more, and maybe Ginny, too. Harry thought the whole romance had seemed a bit odd on a ship that was sinking.
"See? Even you can't help but agree with me. Love makes one weak. They could have saved themselves had they not been so strung up on saving each other."
Harry considered that as he got onto the tube. They didn't talk during the ride home, as there were too many others around them, and that gave Harry the perfect opportunity to gather his thoughts. Would Sirius have lived if he hadn't been so strung up on saving him? Probably. But Harry had loved Sirius and not saving him hadn't been an option. If he hadn't loved Sirius, wouldn't he have tried to save him?
Harry wasn't sure. He'd saved Ginny in his second year and he sure as hell hadn't loved her back then. What was it Hermione had said about him? He had a saving people thing.
"Yes, you do. And it's your biggest weakness, in case you hadn't come to that conclusion yet."
"Well, excuse me for not being a complete egotist," Harry said, exiting the tube. His legs felt like stone as he took the steps up to the street. It had been a long day, and Voldemort there as a constant companion had made it seem even longer.
"A certain amount of egotism goes a long way in keeping oneself alive."
"It was just a Muggle movie. I doubt it was meant to offer any philosophical answers."
"Then it was a waste of our time, just as I had predicted."
"Oh come on, it wasn't that bad. It's just entertainment. You wanted to know about your enemy? Now you know what their movies look like." It was a weak argument, but it was all Harry could come up with. He yawned, quickly covering his mouth with his hand.
"I have been to a cinema before, I'll have you know."
"Really?" Harry took out his wand and tapped it against the front door. "When? What movie?"
"In my youth. They took us to see Snow White."
"You mean the Disney movie?" Harry shut the door behind him and flicked on a few gas lamps with his wand. "With the singing dwarfs and everything?"
"Unfortunately, yes. The original fairy tale is far more interesting than -- "
Harry's bellowing laughter cut Voldemort off. The idea of Voldemort watching Snow White was too much for Harry, and he had to lean a hand against the wall to keep his balance.
"Harry? Is that you?"
Closing his mouth, Harry stared in the direction of the kitchen. His heart hammered in his chest. That was Hermione's voice, and hearing it made Harry want to flee. His friends couldn't see him like this. He couldn't see his friends, because if Voldemort did --
"Oh, hush, child. I'll behave myself if you will. That was our agreement, I believe"
Harry didn't trust Voldemort, but he had no time to come up with a better plan because Hermione appeared in the hallway, giving him a confused look. "Where have you been all day? We've sent two owls, and we've been here all evening."
"I was out," Harry said. He approached her, legs stiff and shoulders tense. "I needed to clear my mind."
"Well, come on. We've got tea in the kitchen. We can talk there." Hermione descended the steps to the basement kitchen. Harry followed her down, and his heart sank when he saw Ron and Ginny sitting at the kitchen table.
"Hey, Harry," Ron said. Ginny kept quiet and gave Harry an uncertain glance.
"Hi." Harry stood at the head of the table and stared at his friends while Hermione poured him a cup of tea. This was his chance! "Listen, this is important! Voldemort's not -- " Harry snapped his mouth shut when he realized his wand was in his hand, and he couldn't remember reaching for it.
"Two words, Harry. The Killing Curse has two words I can easily force from your lips."
Harry tried to loosen his fingers, but they stayed glued around his wand. If he could drop it, he'd have time to --
"The lives of your friends are in your hand. I will not hesitate to end them if you betray me."
"What about Voldemort?" Hermione asked, taking a seat beside Ron.
Swallowing, Harry stared at her. "Is not alive anymore," he whispered. "Voldemort is dead. And I was in a coma. And so I needed some time to think about things."
"Ginny said you were a right git last night," Ron said.
"He still is," Ginny said, narrowing her eyes. "Why are you aiming your wand at us?"
"Er..." Harry blinked, and then Voldemort said, "I'd like milk in my tea. Accio milk."
"You should have said so," Hermione scolded mildly. She caught the milk and poured some in Harry's cup.
So Voldemort could control Harry to a certain extent. And he could do spells with Harry's wand. Harry stood frozen. He didn't seat himself until Voldemort finally allowed him to lower his wand.
"Everything is fine, Harry. Just have a cuppa with your friends. Talk about all the wonderful things you've seen today. Talk about me, and your friends will die. Are we clear?"
Crystal, Harry thought, and reached for his cup of tea. "Thanks, Hermione."
"Are you all right?" Hermione tilted her head. "You look very pale."
"Just tired. I had a busy day." Harry sipped his tea, trying to stop his hand from trembling. His other hand, hidden in his lap under the table, still held his wand, and no matter how hard Harry tried, he couldn't get control over it.
"But where have you been all day?" Hermione asked.
"Yeah, I thought we were going to do stuff together," Ron added.
"I just wanted to be alone. I went to see the Natural History Museum, and The London Dungeon, and then I saw Titanic at the Odeon." There. He managed to sound composed and normal, not like he had a Dark Lord stuck inside of him. Harry sipped more tea.
"You saw Titanic? How was it?" Hermione almost tipped over her own cup from sheer excitement.
"It was all right."
"And you couldn't wait for us to do all these things with you?" Ginny sounded resentful, and it tugged on something in Harry's chest. "Some boyfriend you are, sneaking off to do things by yourself."
"So you two are back together?" Hermione asked with an encouraging smile. "I always knew once you killed Voldemort you two would -- "
"We're not," Harry said, and promptly downed his tea. It burned the back of his throat, but he didn't care. He liked the pain. It kept him from feeling pain in different places. "I'm sorry, Ginny, but I don't think we'll work out right now."
Ginny stared down at the table, her lips pursed in a thin line.
"Are you sure you're all right?" Hermione's concern was starting to get on Harry's nerves. He couldn't tell them a thing. He just wanted them to go away so Voldemort couldn't hurt them. "Perhaps you should go to St Mungo's. I mean, we're still not sure what you were hit with and it could -- "
"NO!" Harry slammed his hand down on the table. "I just want to be left alone. I've had Voldemort after me for as long as I can bloody well remember, and now I just want some time for myself. I'm sick and tired of people sticking their noses where they don't belong, namely, in my life!"
Hermione gaped at him.
"Harry, come on, we're just worried," Ron said with a puzzled look.
"I know, but you're wasting your time." Harry leaned back in his chair. "I'm all right. I just want some time for myself now."
"You're still coming to Hogwarts with us, aren't you?" Hermione asked.
Frowning, Harry looked at Hermione. He hadn't even thought about returning to Hogwarts now he knew Voldemort was stuck inside him.
"We are returning to Hogwarts."
"I'm not sure," Harry said honestly.
"Tell them you are returning! We will discuss it later. Otherwise they'll be here all night, trying to convince you."
"But I think so, yeah," Harry added. He smiled, though the corners of his mouth quivered. "I'm just taking some time for myself now, and then I'll be good and rested to start our seventh year."
Hermione returned his smile and got up. "It's late. Get a good night's sleep, Harry. And if there is something you want to talk to us about in the morning, you know where to find us." She tugged on Ron's shoulder, and he got up as well.
"Yeah, we'd like it if you came back to the Burrow. Play Quidditch with Bill and the twins. How does that sound?" Ron gave him a hopeful look.
It sounded really nice, but Harry shook his head. "I'm not sure yet, Ron. I'll let you know."
Ginny didn't say anything. She didn't even look at Harry as she walked out of the kitchen.
"Good night, then," Hermione said. She and Ron followed Ginny out, and when Harry heard the front door slam shut, he lowered his head to the table.
"You did well, Harry."
"Shut up," Harry muttered against the wooden table top. He finally managed to raise his hand and let his wand clatter to the table. His fingers felt stiff. "Just shut up."
"Come, let's go to bed." Something pulled on his back, as if Voldemort had a string attached to his spine. And Harry was too exhausted to protest. He got to his feet and stumbled out of the kitchen in search of his bedroom.
"Tomorrow, we can pay Severus a visit."
"No, definitely not." Harry let himself drop on his bed. He didn't even bother taking off his clothes.
Harry sat on his bed, freshly showered and dressed, tourist guide in his lap, trying to decide where to spend the day.
"Might I make a suggestion?"
"No, we're not going to see Snape," Harry said, flipping through the pages. He was getting rather tired of Voldemort's suggestions to seek out Snape only to torture the bastard.
"I never said I only wanted to -- "
"How about the Victoria and Albert Museum?" Harry blurted.
"What do they have on display?"
"Er..." Harry squinted at the page. "It boasts the greatest and most diverse collection of decorative art and design."
"You want to waste your day looking at Muggle art?"
"You're right. I don't." Harry snickered. "How about this one? The Imperial War Museum. You should like that."
"It does sound more interesting than useless art, yes."
"Fine, we'll go there." Harry jumped up from his bed. "And I get to pick the movie again for tonight."
"Preferably something with less romance, if you please."
Harry couldn't really disagree with that. "We'll see what's playing." He grabbed his wand and wallet, stuffed the guide in his back pocket, and sauntered down the stairs. He had no idea what he was going to do besides visiting another museum and seeing another movie. Somehow, as long as he did that, he didn't have to think about what would come that evening, or the day after, or even in two weeks time when Hogwarts started again.
"We should address the matter of visiting Severus soon, Harry."
Clenching his hand around the door knob, Harry stared down at his shoes. "I already told you. I won't let you go there just so you can torture him and have me arrested for it."
"It is not why I need to see him."
"Oh, so when you see him you won't torture him?"
"I didn't say that. But I do need to see him for good reasons."
"Such as that he's the only Death Eater left who's not dead or in Azkaban or completely useless."
Harry felt a small flutter of satisfaction. "He was never a Death Eater. He was never loyal to you."
"A matter easily rectified, I assure you. But he can assist me. Us."
"I'll think about it." Harry pulled the front door open. "It's still my holiday, so don't expect an answer soon."
"I'll await your reply with bated breath. The sooner we see him, the sooner you'll be rid of me."
Harry almost stumbled over his own feet. He wanted to be rid of Voldemort. But he really did not want to go see Snape. Still, would it be worth it to confront that greasy bastard if that meant getting a normal life? It probably was, but Harry wasn't quite ready to accept that yet.