He didn’t know what else to do. Uncle Vernon would be back in an hour, probably less given Harry’s luck. He was scared, terrified really, huddled in a tiny ball in his cupboard, the door firmly shut and his wand clenched tightly in his fist. The house was locked down tight, he had tried every window and door but none would open. He couldn’t use magic because the Ministry had decided he was clearly deranged after the Tournament and would snap his wand without hesitation. So he sat in his cupboard crying silently and tried to think. There had to be something he could do, some way he could escape. He would do anything, accept help from the devil himself if it saved him from this. He wasn’t sure he could survive it, he was quite weak really. He didn’t like being in charge and rushing headlong into danger, he didn’t like being the one people looked to or made fun of. He just wanted a quiet life were he could be himself instead of this Gryffindor persona he tried so desperately to be ten months of the year.
It wasn’t worth this though, nothing was worth this and certainly not the witches and wizards who abused him daily in the Prophet. They had done nothing to earn his loyalty. The minutes were ticking away quickly now and He would be back shortly. It was only fifteen minutes to Piers’ house, another thirty to the train station and another twenty five back. He needed to do something now before it was too late. A creaking noise outside the door forced him into perfect stillness, his breathing harsh and loud in the silence. It was this that pushed him to try, he had to at least try. Tentatively he pushed his thoughts away from terror and towards something more familiar, the warm ball at the back of his mind that somehow smelled like Cedar and mint. Hesitantly he pushed his way through that door and into Voldemort’s mind. It seemed far less aggressive than the last time he was here, the anger seemed to be muted somehow and overall it seemed less chaotic and to Harry’s terrified mind, inviting. Speaking softly, he called out “Please, I I need you.”
He could feel the shock ripple through Voldemort’s thoughts as well as the curiosity, so he wasn’t surprised by the polite voice questioning, “Oh? I must say this is a surprise. How may I be of assistance?”
Tom felt the fear before the intrusion and could not understand it. Potter for all of his many faults, had never been afraid of him, not like this. This unadulterated terror soaked through the child’s mind piquing his interest. Patiently he coaxed the child into speaking, some part of him forcing him to listen. This his magic screamed was important. Tom had long ago made it a priority to listen to his instincts, now that his horcruxes were all united bar Nagini, he made doubly sure to follow his magic. It would not lead him astray. With halting words and stuttered sentences the boy finally spoke. “He’ll be back soon and I’m trapped. They’ll snap my wand if I try and he’s too big to fight. I don’t know what else to do.”
“Who is coming?”
A quiet almost silent voice answered, “Uncle Vernon”, Tom received an image of a fat walrus like man bearing down on the younger boy before it disappeared. Now that the boy had started speaking he seemed unable to stop, so Tom listened “Dudley’s staying with Piers all week and Aunt Petunia is going on holidays to Hampshire with her bridge group. He’s coming back and I know I’m supposed to be grateful, that’s what Dumbledore and Snape say, I should do as I’m told and behave, but I don’t want to. I don’t want him to touch me, not like that, not ever! The beatings and the starving and foul names, I can take, they’re normal. But he’s been looking at me, t-t-touching me, soft like, his hands lingering too far, and I”
The boy was brokenly crying now, sobbing wildly and Tom felt something within him snap. This child was his, his to kill, his to torture, his to destroy. He would not let some strangers hands roam over what was his. The boy was a child, desperate and scared and unquestionably his. He would not let him be abused. Cutting through his rage and the boy’s sobs, he asked firmly “Where are you now?”
“In my cupboard, I can’t leave the house. It’s all locked up and Dumbledore has people watching it.”
That was curious, why would the boy come to him if there was help outside the door? Potter seemed to understand the question without it being spoken, “They don’t believe me, I told them about the beatings and the hunger and they said I was making it up for attention. They’re part of the Order, supposed to be on my side, but no-one ever seems to be on my side, not really. I don’t know how they expect me to fight for them if they don’t fight for me first.”
His words cracked into bitter laughter towards the end, touching something inside Tom, something he had thought fixed. The child kept babbling on, crying sporadically, but Tom tuned out, instead focusing on his connection to the child. With some concentration and effort he could follow it back to its source, a burning ball of energy living within the boy, his unwitting horcrux. He couldn’t help the burst of laughter that bubbled out, it was only then that he fully processed what the boy had said “tied to the chair, made me watch while he pull-pulled himself off, saying things, filthy things, then he - he smeared it all over my mouth. Wouldn’t let me wash for days, watched while I pissed so I couldn’t wash it off in private.”
His cackled laughter had shocked the boy into a silent terrified retreat. Tom could feel the boy escaping his mind, returning to the cupboard under the stairs, mortified that he’d told his worst enemy all of his secrets. This time it was Tom who broke into the other’s mind, barging in with barely constrained rage, his power ice cold with anger. “We are connected Harry, part of you holds part of me. I will not let you be fouled by that creature. We will discuss terms later, but for now, tell me where you are and I will come to you.”
The response was hesitant and cautious, but really, what did the boy have to lose? Anything was better than the fate awaiting him and he could already hear the car pulling into the drive. “4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging. It’s under blood wards, but this is not my home. It has never been my home and I renounce all connection to the Dursleys.”
Well, it seemed the child was smarter than he’d thought. “Good boy Harry.”
The door opened loudly, hitting against the wall with a habitual bang. Vernon often forgot his own strength, that’s why Harry had so many finger shaped bruises all over his body. He couldn’t stop the small whimper when Vernon called his name, each time louder and more aggravated. The cupboard doors flung open, blinding Harry with the light. Strong fingers dug into his collarbone and shoulders forcibly dragging him from his place of safety. A shove had Harry stumbling forward and up the stairs, his wand clutched in Vernon’s meaty grasp so tightly Harry feared it would break. They were in Vernon’s bedroom, Harry’s shirt ripped off and his pants swaddling his ankles when he felt it. He had lived with this presence all his life, knew it intimately, but had never fully associated it with Voldemort before this.
Instead of snake eyes and a flattened nose that still made Harry shudder, Voldemort was handsome, beautiful even, his youthful looks restored and matured so he seemed to be in his mid thirties. Harry took in the aquiline nose, red eyes and muggle suit within a heartbeat before he was rolling off the bed and hiding behind the Dark Lord like a frightened child. Vernon’s face was beetroot red at the interruption, immediately crying out a denial and laying the blame at Harry’s feet. The fat man staggered to his feet, pulling up his pants and trying desperately to muster up some dignity.
Before he could make any further accusations Voldemort had him frozen mid-air, his huge stomach heaving as the crucio ripped through him. The screams were silent, captured by some spell before they could alert anyone to Vernon’s predicament. Harry’s hands had found themselves clutching tightly to Voldemort’s belt-loops, his fingers clenching sporadically against the older man. After what felt like forever, once Vernon was dangling barely concious, Voldemort turned to his young charge, “Take my wand, yours still has the trace on it and I simply don’t have the time to fix it right now.”
Shaking fingers took it from nimble hands, but honestly Harry had no idea what he was supposed to do with it.
He had no clue what was supposed to happen now, he was cold, semi-naked and his head was starting to swim unpleasantly. “Crucio him Harry. You need to take control of this or you will spend the rest of your life fearing him. It will haunt you and I will not allow that. You are a part of me Harry and that makes you better than some filthy muggle who dared to touch you. It makes you better than everyone do you understand me? You must overcome this now while it is most immediate. You cannot let him win.”
There was something about that voice, it held a power that Harry couldn’t help but listen to. He knew on some level that the crucio was an Unforgivable and he should not be using it, but he was angry and scared and no-one else ever seemed to care about him. No-one else had ever come to his rescue like this, so why shouldn’t he, just this once listen to a responsible adult and do as he was told? He didn’t have it in him right then to make decisions, he wasn’t capable of it, not after the day he’d had, so he did what every adult had always told him to do, he did as he was told.
The power of the crucio pulled something dark and hidden out of him, feeding the anger and rage and fear that he was practically choking on. A dark glee filled him up until he was bursting with it, laughing uncontrollably as Voldemort watched on silently amused. Eventually the laughter stopped and he felt empty again, like he’d been all used up and there was nothing left. The older man must have sensed the change in him because he took his wand back and cast a silent Avada Kedavra, Harry thought the green lights looked very pretty.
Things blurred together after that, Voldemort snatched Harry’s wand from the nightstand, summoned all of Harry’s meagre possessions, managed Hedwig and apparated them out of there. Wherever they landed was quiet and barely lit, the long corridors were warm though, the underfloor heating soaked into his bones with every step forward. Once they reached the final door at the end, Voldemort led him into the room and clinically stripped him down. He didn’t even have time to protest as he was mostly naked anyway before Voldemort was manhandling him into a shower and scrubbing his hair clean with shampoo. Harry let himself be swept away on sensation, focusing on the physical instead of what had already happened. At some point he realised he was being spoken to, but couldn’t seem to make out the words.
Then it was morning and he was dry, wearing pyjamas and cuddling up to Voldemort under crisp sheets. His head was finally clear enough to realise that this was probably very bad, but he wasn’t sure what to do about it, since Voldemort had saved him and this honestly felt quite nice. He was saved from making any decisions by Voldemort smirking down at him, “Awake I see. Would you like a summary first or breakfast?”
Definitely a summary first, best not to eat anything until he knew it wasn’t going to be poisoned. “I suspect you were too far in shock yesterday to remember or even understand what we discussed. I should like an Unbreakable vow from you swearing not to kill me. I would prefer that you stay out of this war entirely, but this should at least forestall the prophesy. In return I will not try to harm you in any way, as my horcrux I would only be harming myself so I assure you this is a promise I can stick to. No-one from my side will ever harm you again. Given the circumstances I would like you to extend a hand of friendship to young Malfoy.”
Harry’s not sure if he paused for dramatic effect or to give Harry’s sluggish brain time to catch up, but he continued on regardless of Harry’s continued confusion. “Draco has an eye for things, he knew Gregory Goyle was being badly beaten by his father and made Lucius aware of the issue. He will keep an eye on you and make sure you are safe.”
That was absurd, he couldn’t be friends with Malfoy, Ron would never speak to him again! He must have said this last bit aloud because strong fingers were tilting his chin up so he could look directly into those red eyes, “The sexual abuse is new I admit, he only started touching you this summer and merely looked last summer, correct?”
Harry nodded as best he could, “However, the physical abuse, the starvation and the mental abuse, all of that has been a long standing fact. Your friends never even noticed when it is clear to anyone that you are malnourished and flinch at loud noises. If they were truly your friends then they would have said something, done something, to help. Even Draco noted how thin and quiet you are at the start of every school year. I want you to give him a chance, if this causes problems with your so called friends, then they are not your friends.”
He found himself nodding along without realising it, after all surely they must have noticed something? He was far too short for his age and it usually took him a few weeks before he could manage a full plate at dinner. Why hadn’t they ever said anything then? Why hadn’t anyone ever helped?
Soft fingers brushed through his hair bringing him back to reality. “Why do you keep touching me like that?”
He wasn’t used to being touched, not casually and certainly not propreotarily the way that Voldemort touched him. “You have been abused and assaulted, I imagine you don’t get touched very often outside those situations. That is not normal or healthy. Besides, I quite like touching you, so why shouldn’t I?”
“But you won’t, that is, I’m grateful but I don’t…”
He didn’t know how to say it, how to make him understand, not like this when he was cuddled close to the older man, holding onto him so tightly. Voldemort seemed to understand anyway, “I will never touch you sexually without your full and complete consent. And if anyone else ever tries to touch you like that or makes you feel like you have to touch them then you must do everything in your power to stop them. You are not obligated to service someone sexually no matter what they do or say. It is your body and your choice, if you choose to be intimate with someone then that is acceptable, but anything against your will is not. I will kill anyone who touches you Harry, but I would rather it never happen again. I will keep you safe.”
For the first time in his entire life, Harry found himself believing that an adult could help him and would keep him safe. He felt protected and cared for despite the million reasons he had not to be. “Do you know what a horcrux is Harry? When I was much younger I feared death very much, so much so that I was willing to mutilate my soul to avoid it. I imbued items with parts of my soul to stave off death. I did this several times, not understanding that each one I created left me more unbalanced. By the time I met you, I was rather unhinged and my soul was in shreds, it broke one more time embedding itself in your scar. So long as you live so can I. You are my living horcrux so I will cherish you and protect you from harm. I will make you my heir and teach you to harness your magic properly.”
Clever fingers brushed along his scar, chasing the pathway like it was something special, like he was special. “Breakfast, then I will summon Lucius and re-introduce you to his son. Together I expect the two of you to do your summer homework. I will examine it once you’re done and assign more if I feel it necessary. You will be spending the rest of the summer with me. No doubt the body has been discovered by now, the Order will be looking for you. In September you will board the train to Hogwarts with Draco and everyone else. You will lie about where you’ve been and will then return to me for the Christmas holidays. We are family now you and I and I will not allow us to be separated. Now come, the house elves are dying to meet you.”
One Unbreakable Vow later and Harry had a whole new family, one that cared about him, not the Boy Who Lived. Turned out, Draco wasn’t even that bad once you got to know him.