It starts with a searing pain and a flash of bright light.
Lord Voldemort had made Horcruxes before. He made six previously, each whittling away at his remaining soul. When he decided to initiate the process, using the death of Myrtle Warren to pour half his soul into an old diary, he could never have imagined the pain.
He had done his research, of course, but while the textbooks had spoke of the excruciating cost of creating a Horcrux, Lord Voldemort had been more focused on other matters.
He would have paid any price. He had paid the ultimate price. Still, he went on, creating more Horcruxes than anyone else would have dared to. He alone would be superior in this endeavor, just like any other feat he set his mind to.
Lord Voldemort did not fail.
Still, he must have forgotten the true pain of it all. The last Horcrux he remembers making was... Nagini. Yes, he remembers having the idea of creating a living vessel to harbor his soul, thought her natural intuition would protect him even further than that of an inanimate object.
A searing pain and a flash of light are all he remembers. And this, he muses, pacing the confines of the dark prison he finds himself in.
Lord Voldemort does not make mistakes.
But he must have, to end up wherever he has. He has no magic, no idea where he is, and no clue how he ended up here. He feels more clear-headed than he has in years and with nothing to do, sets his mind towards figuring out this puzzle.
Eventually, he comes to the realization that he, himself, is a Horcrux. Which is both worrying and pleasing, in a way. Lord Voldemort never would have guessed his Horcruxes were sentient. Could think for themselves. Seeing as he is sentient, and fairly certain he has become a Horcrux, he decides this must be the case.
Secondly, Lord Voldemort realizes he is clear of mind because he is no longer linked to his physical form. Without the cloud of insanity and paranoia over his mind, he is able to think through the actual mechanics of tearing one’s soul apart.
If half his soul went into the diary, his first creation, he would have already become unstable by half afterwards. Instead of pausing to think through the consequences of such dark magic, he had proceeded to use more, high on the effects of the potent magic.
Gradually, his whole soul was whittled down, half by half by half until barely a fragment of his true soul remained.
Lord Voldemort guesses this would be hard for anyone to remain sane through. Now that he’s been carved away from the main portion of his soul, he feels more stable, as counterintuitive as that is.
He would spend more time on that train of thought, but before he can, the area around him begins to come to life, lighting up in a series of brilliant arcs. He is bathed in gold light, and he seems remarkably similar to how he appeared the night he was created.
He snaps his fingers, attempting to cast a wordless Lumos, pleasantly surprised with the gold sparks that glitter across his hand. He must be in a magical vessel for him to retain some of his magic.
Lord Voldemort is then taken by (rare) surprise when the space in front of his eyes opens up, like a window into the real world. He is, or they are, he supposes, laying on the ground, staring up at a dark ceiling.
He tries to exert power over his new form, something he assumes is similar to a type of possession, but he is unable to lift a pinky. He feels like a tiny consciousness in the sea of someone else’s mind.
A noise startles him out of his concentration. It sounds... like crying. A crying baby. It is a sound Lord Voldemort unfortunately remembers from his time at the Muggle orphanage but had thought he had put behind him.
It is a frightening realization that he is trapped in the head of a child. They are in what looks like a broom cupboard of some sort, as Lord Voldemort can see cleaning supplies at the periphery of the child’s vision.
His mood darkens further when there is a banging on either the wall or the door. “Quiet down in there, girl,” a nasal female voice screeches.
This only serves to upset the child more, and she raises her crying to a screech in return. The girl rolls over onto her stomach, and Lord Voldemort can feel the full-body sobs starting to wrack their way through her, their, body.
His suspicions were correct, because with the new position, he can see buckets and a mop in front of them, as well as the crack of light that marks the door. There are thunderous footsteps coming down from above them (they’re under the stairs, he assumes), followed by the sound of a latch being unlocked.
Light floods into the small cupboard, followed by the shadow of a massive figure. Before Lord Voldemort can prepare himself, they are lifted up into the air and turned so they are face to face with a pudgy, red face with a trembling walrus mustache.
The man, looking furious, takes them out of the cupboard and drops them unceremoniously into a high chair. The girl is still screaming at the top of her lungs, pausing only to heave great breaths.
“I thought Petunia told you to be quiet,” he hollers, over her screaming. Lord Voldemort is morbidly fascinated by this, emotion mingling with a slowly burning fury at the way he is indirectly being treated.
The fat man slams a hand down on the table, close to the girl’s head, and he feels a tremor of fear run through the child. She freezes, quiets, a more vulnerable kind of crying beginning, slow and silent.
“Mama,” the girl chokes out, and Lord Voldemort can feel the fat tears run their way down her cheeks. “Papa,” she says again, working herself back up to a sob.
The fat man slams his hand against the wall again, turning beady eyes onto them. Lord Voldemort recognizes the glint in his eyes as one that promises violence and hopes that this is not the kind of man who would strike a child. A baby, no less.
He points a thick, sausage-like finger at them, mustache quivering. “Those freaks got what they deserved,” he snarls. A strange absence of feeling swells over Lord Voldemort and he wonders if the girl can understand what this man is telling her.
She falls silent, not even sniffling. Something that feels like confusion billows in her chest. “Mama? Papa?” She asks again, and Lord Voldemort has to commend her for her bravery in the sight of this fat oaf. Muggles, he’s already reasoned, but there is a niggling thought at the back of his mind which has caused dread to pool within him.
The fat man comes even closer, eyes narrowed. “They’re dead!” He’s shouting now, and Lord Voldemort can see the shape of a thin woman in the doorway behind him, but she makes no move to intervene. “Just what their freakishness got them, and just what it’ll get you unless we can beat it out of you.”
Lord Voldemort frowns. The truth and the blackness of his memories are coming into shape. The fat man finally turns away from them. “Honestly,” he says, to the woman who is fully in the light. “She’s lucky we didn’t drop her off at an orphanage, like we should have.”
The woman makes a noise of agreement, although she looks faint. “Here,” she says, showing her husband something Lord Voldemort can’t see. “The funeral is next week.”
She sounds oddly hushed and apprehensive. “Petunia,” he says. “You want to go? All of those people will be there.”
The woman sighs heavily. “I know, Vernon.” Lord Voldemort preens at the names. Finally, a start to plotting their demise. “But Lily was my sister before she started consorting with those freaks.”
And, in the way waves crash on the shore, realization crashes into Lord Voldemort. A dead witch named Lily with Muggle relatives and an orphaned daughter. He hopes it isn’t true, hopes that even Fate wouldn’t be so cruel as to make his last and final Horcrux Harry Potter.
As if she could hear his thoughts, the girl let out a scream and kicked her legs fiercly, little hands balled into fists. Both of the Muggles turned towards her, the fat one with a look of mingled disgust and fury and the woman with warring pain and hatred. Maybe, Lord Voldemort mused, she hated her niece for the living reminder of her dead sister.
The fat one, Vernon, as the woman had called him, moved towards the girl with his fist raised. Petunia seemed to war with herself, before she moved forward and grabbed Vernon by the arm. “Stop,” she hisses. “She’s just a baby, what will the neighbors say?”
Lord Voldemort’s fury was fanned by the comment, bursting into flames. He wasn’t sure if his emotions were seeping into the girl’s, but she seemed especially reactive to his anger. The pitch of her scream increased, her fists clenched harder, and before anyone in the room could react, all the lightbulbs in the kitchen shattered.
He wasn’t easily impressed, but there was something about the intensity of her accidental magic outburst that had him second guessing himself. The girl might be worth his attention, on her own accord rather than based in her status as one of his Horcruxes.
The Muggles had jumped with the sudden noise, and they both froze for a moment, as if judging the room. Almost faster than he could see, Petunia moved forward. There was a loud smack, and the girl’s head whipped to the side.
A dull pain radiated through Lord Voldemort’s awareness and he knew the child must be feeling a stinging pain where she’d been struck, no stranger to this kind of punishment. For the first time in years, he felt empathy for another person, could see the way her childhood was shaping up to be like his. He tried to calm the child before she was beaten any worse, but couldn’t tell if it had any impact.
She started to cry again, silently this time, and he found himself cursing whatever entity had let him be stuck in the body of a baby.
Roughly grabbing her around the middle, Vernon carted the girl out of the highchair. He deposited her roughly back on the ground of the cupboard, without food or a new diaper, and slammed the door shut. As he walked away, Lord Voldemort could hear him mumble under his breath. “Filthy fucking Potters,” he said, unaware of listeners.
As the darkness settles back in around them, he resigns himself to spending a longer time than he’d like in the mind of his prophesied rival.
At least until he can figure out a way out of her.
The one thing Lord Voldemort hadn’t counted on was just how vile Muggles could be. He remembers, in a vague sense, the cruelty of Muggles towards what they didn’t understand. The years apart from them has dulled the sting of their actions and turned it into something that could have happened to another child.
If it weren’t for the fact the Dursleys loathe their niece. Harry seems to do well as a baby, unable to talk or walk or generally infuriate her relatives. It isn’t until she hits toddler age, two and a half, when everything really hits the fan.
Part of the problem, Lord Voldemort muses as they lick their wounds, is Harry’s cousin. Dudley, when not begging for attention from his mother, actively attempts to torture her. He wasn’t sure at first, whether the boy’s actions were intentional or not, but at this point, he thinks they are far, far past that.
Harry is long past crying at her family’s actions. For one so young, she has learned eerily quick that tears have no effect on their actions. Instead, they only seem to make the repercussions more severe. Harry learned this particular lesson when, a few months ago, Petunia had slammed the cupboard door shut on Harry’s foot, causing the child to scream in pain and anger. Instead of ignoring Harry, her aunt opened the door, slapped her across the face, and told her to quiet down, before relocking the door.
At least her aunt and uncle have stopped physically beating her, across the face, unable to hide Harry away in the house away from the neighbors’ prying eyes all the time. Lord Voldemort thinks the girl is too young to appreciate this, but he does, for the both of them.
The cousin on the other hand... Lord Voldemort has had time to think about which of Harry’s miserable relatives he’s going to kill first in the past year and a half he’s been stuck in her mind with no one to talk to. At first, he was going to kill the uncle, seeing as the fat man hated Harry with a vengeance and was particularly awful to them.
Dudley’s actions today may have saved his father from that gruesome fate, he thinks, feeling the way pain is shooting up their arm.
Harry’s sitting on the floor of her, their, cupboard, cradling her arm. It’s broken at the wrist, and he can feel the way she takes in deep, shuddering breaths to control herself. He can also feel her emotions, although they’re muted like he’s underwater. Anger and pain are most prevalent. Every movement of her arm jostles the wrist and sends her into a new bout of agony.
Dudley, in his quest to make his cousin’s life a living hell, had decided it would be enjoyable to push her when she was coming down the stairs. Not only had she landed wrongly on her arm, leading to her broken bones, she had also crashed into an old table that, apparently, Petunia adored, and broke a vase.
Which led to them being locked under the cupboard, injuries ignored in favor of Dudley, who had started wailing, crocodile tears leaking out of the corner of his eyes when the vase broke. He remembers being bullied at the orphanage, but Harry’s life is shaping up to be much worse.
Lord Voldemort would feel bad for her, but he’s mostly concerned with his own safety, at this point. He’s not sure what having a human Horcrux entails, but he’s fairly certain if she dies, he dies. And, just based on the way her Muggle family is treating her, they’re headed towards an early grave.
The girl, still holding onto her wrist, moves to get onto the rickety bed her relatives were so gracious to grant her, and tries to get comfortable. Lord Voldemort can tell the exact moment she drifts off into an uneasy sleep, and does his best to soothe her with the little magic he’s managed to recover. He’s unfortunately discovered that sleep is impossible in this state, and his resentment towards his original soul deepens.
He wonders absently, in the hazy hours between Harry’s sleep and consciousness, if this is how the rest of his Horcruxes feel. If so, he thinks his main soul is lucky they essentially have no power of their own, otherwise he’d have an uprising on his hands. It amuses Lord Voldemort to think of seven separate versions of himself, from young Tom Riddles, to budding Dark Lords and himself, set loose on the world.
He’s daydreaming about a world in which he won his war and got the honor of personally eviscerating Albus Dumbledore and therefore misses Harry waking up. She’s moving now, he realizes, and there’s a surprising lack of pain emanating from her side of the mind. The girl is sitting up, flexing her hand, and a sliver of delight shoots through his awareness.
Her emotions are much more potent when she’s happy, he discovers. It must have taken him this long to discover since she’s so rarely given a reason to be happy, what with her miserable living situation. The source of her joy, he realizes, is her unbroken wrist. While she slept, her magic must have compensated for her pain and healed her.
They’re left locked in the cupboard for half the day, but Harry is so delighted she doesn’t even notice. Lord Voldemort goes back to imagining ways he’ll kill Dumbledore, a warm pleased feeling inside of him at the idea of his host’s resilience.
It turns out, forcing a young child into almost total isolation, turns them silent and somber, later on in life. Lord Voldemort remembers himself as a quiet child, but he thinks it was mainly because his company was so lacking. Still, the primary teacher leaning down in front of Harry looks skeptical. He guesses Harry must not look the way she expected.
She stands up straight, turns to look at the aunt, who’s standing behind Harry with a sharply taloned hand on her shoulder. “When you came to enroll Harry Potter, I thought she would be... well, a boy.” He feels a strand of irritation run down Harry’s spine, but she stays silent. Petunia’s hand tightens minutely on their shoulder.
“Her parents named her Harry,” Petunia says, in lieu of an explanation. “Horrid name, if you ask me. At least she looks girl enough.” The teacher is nodding along in understanding, and they both look down at Harry at those words.
“Just Harry?” The teacher asks, and Petunia makes a noise of agreement. “Well, it won’t be a problem. The kids will probably need some time to get used to her, but it won’t be a big deal.” She bends down in front of them again. “Ready for your first day, Harry?”
Harry must smile, and he feels them nod, because the teacher’s face brightens. She stands back up, and replaces Petunia’s claw-like grip with her own. “I’ll see you on Sunday for tea, Petunia,” she calls over her shoulder. “Tell Vernon hello from me,” and she leads Harry into the classroom.
About thirty minutes into the school day, Lord Voldemort realizes he would rather lose to Albus Dumbledore than sit through the first year of primary school again, and promptly tunes out of Harry’s actions.
When he starts paying attention again, Harry’s on the run from Dudley and the small band of goons he’s managed to collect. She’s panting, and he can feel a stitch in her side, but there’s a blossom of something that feels like happiness radiating off her. Curious, he tries to pinpoint where the feeling is coming from, and in return, receives flashes of the wind blowing through her hair, the sun on her skin, the screams of other children.
Harry’s been so deprived, shoved away in the cupboard for so long, even being chased by her monster of a cousin, she’s happy. Lord Voldemort would feel pity for her, if he weren’t so thrilled with finally being able to start communicating with his host.
Of course, the girl goes on to promptly ignore his subtle prodding at her mind, and goes about her day. She has such menial thoughts, but he can’t deny the spark of brilliance he sees in her. He wonders, off-hand, if it’s not a spark of himself in her. She’s got a steel in her spine that he suspects is all hers, however. No matter what life has thrown at her so far, she just grits her jaw and keeps going.
He would be impressed, if it didn’t mean the probability of her giving his main soul hell, later on.
It’s his fault, really, that they’ve ended up in this situation. Frankly, he’d just grown tired of the way the fat man treated them. Ever since Harry started school, he was much more physically rough with her, especially in places they assumed wouldn’t be seen in public.
Bruises in the shape of his fingerprints lined her forearms, shoulders, back. Harry couldn’t fall asleep at night because she ached everywhere, and therefore her thoughts kept him focused on her the whole night as well. The wall between them was steadily deteriorating, and he was close to being able to speak with her directly.
He did have the ability to plant thoughts in her mind, and was able to hear her thoughts as well, especially if she was really worried about something. So, he simply suggested she wear loose sleeves to school the day after Vernon got particularly rough with them. He’d shaken Harry so hard, after some minor slight, that the bruises had started to form that night.
From there, it was easy to convince her to push her sleeves up at school, in front of her teacher. The woman, horrid as she was, was at least smart enough to realize something was wrong. “Harry?” She’d asked, in a hushed voice, pulling her aside at recess. “Where did these come from?” She’d gently touched the dark marks on her arms, and Harry had flinched back, instinctual.
Lord Voldemort had urged her to tell the truth, his plan coming to fruition. So she did. “My uncle,” she had said hesitantly. The teacher’s face had immediately shuttered, eyes closing and mouth pulling with what he guessed was regret, or reluctance.
He should have known, when Petunia came to pick them up half-way through the school day, that something was wrong. Really, Lord Voldemort muses, he hadn’t counted on the teacher to contact the Dursleys first. And now, they’re on day two of lockdown, and he’s growing bored.
They had been horrified to find out their abused niece had told someone about the abuse. He thinks they should have expected something like this, especially now that Harry was at school. A dark anger rises up in him, a vengeful feeling, at the idea that his host was being punished for daring to reveal the bruises she hadn’t asked for.
Harry seems extra receptive of his emotions, because he can feel her conflict at the anger within her. She doesn’t remember ever feeling like this before, which he knows, but also doesn’t understand.
Whyever not? He asks her, curious to see if she can hear him.
By the way she jumps and looks around the small space, and the chaotic thoughts racing through her mind, too fast for him to understand, he would guess she did. “Who’s there?” There’s a steel in her voice that reminds him of the iron he’s noticed in her spine.
He reaches out to her mind, bright and open, comforting and curious. You may call me– he pauses, uncertain. Lord Voldemort is his name, but he’s unsure of the route to take with the child. He doesn’t want her to be scared of him. No, he’d much rather befriend his host, make her depend on him. The more she trusts him, the more he’ll be able to influence her. They’ll have five years together before she goes to Hogwarts. Plenty of time to sway her to his side.
Tom he finally decides, answering her. You may call me Tom.
Lord Voldemort smiles, as she introduces herself. Yes, this could prove to be just what he needed.