It had been a long and tiring day. Most of the days of late had been long and tiring what with the war and everything, and Lord Voldemort felt his patience with those under him wane with every hour.
So when Rabastan approached him with news of yet another supplicant for the day, he had half a mind to Crucio the intruder on principle.
Instead, he waved a hand and allowed Rabastan to lead in his visitor.
It was a welcome surprise to see young Regulus Black approach his throne-like armchair in the Lestranges' library.
"Regulus," Voldemort addressed him coldly. "I hope you know the hour and are sure that your business is pressing. You have not yet given me reason to chastise you but today I would have little mercy even on you."
"My Lord," Regulus greeted and bowed low. "My matters are indeed pressing for I bring a new initiate who has little time—only in the evenings, at the moment, lest his absence be noted."
Voldemort deigned to acknowledge the other presence standing beside Regulus. It was little more than a shadowy figure, hidden behind cleverly applied glamours and notice-me-not charms.
"And you vouch for them?" He allowed his voice to show a little of how intrigued he was.
"He's a friend," Regulus confirmed, voice confident. "It's just better if no one knew he was here, that's why we decided to hide his identity."
"Very well." Voldemort got up from his throne and approached the two men standing a respectful distance away. "You may leave, Regulus."
A last short eye contact between the two, both nodding, and then Regulus left after another low bow.
Voldemort examined the shrouded figure with interest and started walking around him.
"You wish to follow me?"
"Yes, my lord. Please don't expect to have a big moment of revelation when you see my face—you wouldn't know me," the initiate was quick to add. "I was hidden for, well, political purposes."
"A defector from the Light then," Voldemort deduced.
He liked that the young man, for even with his voice garbled by magic he sounded young, was clearly nervous but not afraid.
"You could say that, my lord," the young man agreed. "I come from a Light family but I have… never quite fit in."
With a flick of his wand, the glamours and charms fell and Voldemort stopped his pacing to study the new face reverently looking up at him.
Young man seemed far-fetched now, he was looking at little more than a boy. He was scrawny, with straw-blond hair and warm blue eyes returning his piercing gaze with no hint of fear—only a nervous sort of energy.
"I'm afraid you are right, boy," Voldemort agreed after he'd catalogued the boy's features. "I don't know your face."
The boy heaved a sigh.
"But you will know my name." He took another big breath and seemed to steel himself for a revelation Voldemort found himself anticipating as well. "My name is Bartemius Crouch."
Voldemort couldn't quite stop his brow from inching up his face.
"Is that so?" He felt his lip curl up into a smirk. "Named after your father, I suppose?"
"Unfortunately so, my lord," the boy answered with disdain. "I wish to sever what ties I have left with the Light and to serve you truly!"
Here, the boy dropped to his knees and bowed low to kiss the hem of Voldemort's robes.
"If you let me, I will be your most loyal servant and I will never disappoint you if I can help it."
He allowed the boy to hold on to his robes yet regarded him with coldness.
"Older men and stronger men have spoken these words to me, yet all of them have disappointed me eventually, one way or another," Voldemort replied and felt a pang of irritation settle in his bones at such lofty promises. "Why would you be any different?"
Instead of answering, the boy let go of his robes, raised his wand, kneeling as he was, and held it high over his head.
Voldemort actually found himself taking a step back as the cursed flames of fiendfyre started swirling around them. Fortunately, it took him only a second to realise that the boy had the spell under his complete control.
With vague interest, he noted the griffins and oxen and horses contained in the fire's shadowy depths trying to come close to him but retreating when hitting what seemed like an invisible domed wall around them.
After about half a minute, the spell gradually wore down and the whispers from hell stopped calling for them.
The boy hadn't even broken a sweat.
"Colour me fascinated, Bartemius Crouch Junior," Voldemort complimented him. "But rest assured—should you surprise me like that again, you will not see the morrow."
"Forgive me, my Lord," the boy whispered, eyes downcast. "But I had to make sure you know of the truth in my words. I am a Dark wizard and a powerful one, too. Please, give me your Mark!"
Voldemort had given the Dark Mark to many followers. Many had believed in his cause, others in his power and yet others had taken it because it had been expected of them.
But few, if any, had stared up at him like this, with open admiration in their eyes.
"And what can you do for Lord Voldemort, boy? Will you kill my enemies with fire and brimstone?" He put amusement in his voice but the boy's stare stayed solemn. Earnest.
"I will do whatever you command of me, my lord. Be it to spy upon my father or do research in occult and forgotten magic—or even kill your enemies with fire and brimstone."
"So devoted," Voldemort praised, reaching out with a hand to tangle his fingers in the soft blonde hair. "And if you do disappoint me after all? What then, boy?"
The slightest tug. A warning. The boy's pupils dilated.
"Then I shall accept whatever punishment you see fit for me."
"I see," Voldemort replied with the second smirk for today. Quite a feat. "You have persuaded me, Bartemius Crouch Junior. Give me your arm."
There it was again. A flicker, a shadow, passing over the boy's face when called by his name.
As he took the warm, slender forearm into his long fingers, Voldemort decided to get to the bottom of it.
"Do you not like your name, boy?"
"I… I do not, my lord," the boy answered haltingly. His first blunder of the evening. "I'm… It is my father's name and it's never suited me."
"I once knew someone who shared his father's name," Voldemort told the boy after a moment's hesitation. "He changed it the moment he could. I wonder what it is with these fathers."
"It's probably the fact that fathers who name their sons after themselves are seldom worth striving after." It was delivered in such a bitter tone that Voldemort felt himself reminded of his own father.
"Indeed." He looked back at the pale arm dwarfed by his long fingers and traced along the underside of it with a finely manicured nail. "You do realise there's no going back, of course."
"Yes, my lord." There was a shudder running through the boy's body as Voldemort touched him and that knowledge was safely catalogued away.
About two months after he'd Marked young Barty, Voldemort found himself in need of the boy's services.
"You called for me, my lord?"
Barty's steps were confident and fearless as he walked up to Voldemort's throne and when he got on his knees, he did so elegantly and with reverence instead of fear.
He kissed not only the hems of Voldemort's robes but also the backs of his bare feet which was as unexpected as it was, again, intriguing.
"Indeed. I have need of your services, Bartemius" Voldemort disclosed. "I have heard good things about your academic prowess. 12 O.W.L.s, 7 N.E.W.T.s—nothing to scoff at, even at a school run by Albus Dumbledore. You will research something for me, Bartemius. You will find out what you can about ancient rituals involving blood magic."
The boy's eyes widened with delight.
"I can do that, my lord! When would you like me to be done? Is there anything in particular you would like me to focus on? I could do it twofold—first the normal stuff everyone knows and then–"
"Bartemius." One word and the boy shut up. Pleasant. "I suppose you were a Ravenclaw?"
The boy's answering grin was a cheeky, bashful little thing.
"Ah, yes my lord. Professor Flitwick used to call me as stubborn as Rowena Ravenclaw herself."
Voldemort nodded his head in acknowledgement, trying to fight down the growing fondness behind his navel. "There are no guidelines. I merely expect your best work."
The boy looked affronted, almost, at the notion that he might ever not do his best but swallowed the retort down.
"I won't let you down, my lord."
About a week after that, there was a knock on the door to the Rosier Estate library where Voldemort was currently holding court and Evan Rosier let him know with a dubious expression that he had a visitor shrouded in glamours.
Voldemort merely waved Evan off and had him let Barty in.
The moment the door shut, the boy wordlessly let his glamours fall and came striding up to him once more.
"My Lord!" he greeted enthusiastically, bowing low and letting a thick stack of parchment float next to him while he kissed the hems of Voldemort's robes and the backs of his feet.
This time, the boy's gaze stayed down until he was addressed.
"I see you have completed your research already, Bartemius?"
"I have, my lord," Barty answered and let the parchment fly over with a lazy movement of his wrist.
Voldemort decided then and there to find out how good an idea it had been to put some stock into the boy.
While he read through the thesis, Barty stayed kneeling before him, head bowed. He was doing some fingerplay or other and moving his mouth without speaking, wordlessly singing along to the movements of his fingers.
Absent-mindedly, Voldemort stretched out a little on his grand armchair which brought his bare feet so close to Barty's dancing hands that skin met skin.
He felt the boy freeze and looked up from the parchment to see Barty's young, open face shine with an unasked question.
An almost imperceptible nod later, and Voldemort enjoyed an unexpected foot massage while reading through the second half of the thorough, well-crafted abstract.
Finally, when he was done reading, Barty changed to his other foot and looked up expectantly.
"This was well-researched, well-written and had just the right amount of information to be neither too short nor too mind-numbing," Voldemort confessed and saw the boy's formerly passive expression turn into a bright, adoring (and relieved) grin. "I find myself wondering why I don't have more Ravenclaws in my service."
He leaned forward and put one hand on Barty's head. As expected, the boy leaned up into his touch.
"I knew you would appreciate it so I was very conscientious."
Voldemort considered something then, and let his hand wander from Barty's hair to his cheek.
"Will you fight me if I look into your mind?"
The boy shivered against his hand, pale flesh so warm against Voldemort's cool fingers.
"I have passed your test," Barty replied in lieu of answering and again, his pupils dilated. "I won't fight you. In fact, I shall invite you in."
Immediately, Voldemort felt himself bombarded with thoughts and whispers and feelings and he forced his own shields up to defend against the mess.
Young Barty's thoughts were in disarray, memories practically fighting against each other to be viewed first.
Voldemort broke the connection.
"I appreciate the enthusiasm, but this is not going to work, Bartemius. At least not without me hurting you." A pause. "Would you like me to hurt you? Your pitiful father's sworn enemy, willingly invited into your mind?"
"Yes," Barty breathed, trusting puppy dog eyes wide with wonder. "I'd like that."
"Show me why you hate him so, boy."
This time, the memories were more orderly. A brief overview of a younger Bartemius Crouch Sr barely making it home in time for dinner while a matching duo of blonde, blue-eyed mother and young son were waiting in a dreary living room.
Pretty soon, they ate alone every evening.
When Barty went off to Hogwarts, his mother was the only one to say goodbye at King's Cross.
All the letters he received were penned solely by his mother.
During breaks, his father asked after his grades shortly before Barty's bedtime and either simply nodded when they were O's or looked disappointed when it was anything less.
It went on like this for a while and soon enough, Voldemort emerged back.
"Ah yes, paternal neglect." he summarised and watched Barty sit back on his haunches. "Show me why you decided to come to me."
Again, he entered Barty's mind without the least bit of resistance, and again, he bore witness to the boy's feelings.
The first thing he noticed this time around was the pervasive submissive sense of adoration permeating the outer layer of Barty's mind.
He flicked through strands of trying-to-belong-somewhere and someone-please-appreciate-my-hard-work and finally settled on a memory of a younger Barty, alone in a snowy Hogwarts courtyard, reading a book and taking notes with cold fingers.
He exited the boy's mind again.
"You function best in the quiet?"
"Yes, my lord," Barty answered, shaking his head a little as if to get rid of some cobwebs. "There are few people I can tolerate, to be honest. I prefer watching over interacting. Quiet over noise. You get the idea."
Voldemort leaned back again in his chair and steepled his fingertips together in front of his face.
"I am interested in you, Bartemius," Voldemort admitted. "I don't say that often, much less to anyone's face. I wish to look into your mind some more, but for today, I shall retire. I will have a bedroom prepared for you."
The next day found Voldemort perusing his servant's mind again. Just because he could, maybe? It was fascinating to watch a quiet, brilliant boy become a quiet, brilliant man and he couldn't help but see himself in some aspects of the boy's tale.
Voldemort was lounging on a low settee like the Roman conquerors of old while Barty sat cross-legged on a cushion by his head, face carefully blank.
"You feel these things for me, Bartemius? Desire?"
"I'm, I'm sorry my Lord," Barty was quick to stutter. "I, I know it's not appropriate but you are a very desirable man and—and I've never been good at staying away from what's forbidden."
"You would have stolen the apple from the tree in Eden without a glance back if given the chance," Lord Voldemort found himself chuckle and Barty's eyes went wide with the unfamiliar sound.
Voldemort supposed he was beautiful like this, all wide-eyed innocence and boyish good looks belying a dark soul snarling beneath.
It had been very long.
Before he could talk himself out of the idea, he had sat up on the low couch, extending a hand to his servant.
"Come here," he commanded, indicating the space between his legs and Barty came crawling over with trepidation.
"Is this not what you had in mind?"
In a flash, Barty's face grew white as chalk before instantly turning a very fetching shade of cinnober.
"I just—I never thought you'd–"
Instead of waiting for the boy to find an end for his sentence, Voldemort parted his robes to reveal simple black trousers and a grey, light shirt.
Barty did a most peculiar kind of keening sound and surged forward to slot himself into the space between his master's legs.
He seemed to know to be quiet and simply busied himself with nosing into Voldemort's crotch, breathing deeply. His hands, hesitant at first, found their way to Voldemort's thighs, carefully kneading the firm muscles.
Voldemort found himself relax back into the backrest, enjoying the simple sensations more than he'd anticipated.
An experimental tug at his fly and Voldemort nodded sharply, raising his hips when Barty pushed his trousers down over them.
There was a sudden intake of breath and Voldemort looked down into Barty's delighted face, halved by the hard curve of his master's cock.
Again foregoing words for actions, Barty reached out to grip the base of Voldemort's cock and proceeded to lick along the underside of it. When he reached the tip, he swallowed the head like he was born for it and sucked on it, making Voldemort's toes unexpectedly curl.
From deep in his gut, a hunger for more roared its head and his hips bucked forward almost of their own accord.
Barty simply hummed at the intrusion, licking and sucking and massaging with his mouth. Voldemort fisted a lazy hand into Barty's fair hair and dictated the rhythm with which his servant's head bobbed up and down on his cock.
It couldn't have been long at all but his hips suddenly found their own rhythm and pushed up up up into the wet heat. His second hand joined the first and held tight onto Barty's hair, stroking and petting it while his mouth whispered profanities and his hips began to stutter.
When he came deep into his servant's throat, he saw stars and crumbled against the backrest after he was spent.
Like a good boy, Barty had swallowed it all down and was still kneeling between his legs, lips slightly parted. His eyes were glossed over and the blush on his cheeks was exquisite.
"You did well," Voldemort practically purred, smoothing the blonde hair down where it was sticking up from him holding onto it. "It's been a long time for me and it's, it's never been as easy as this."
Voldemort was half afraid the boy might explode with that praise but fortunately, he got a grip on himself.
"I will have you touch yourself," Voldemort commanded and watched the boy take a shivering breath.
"Yes, my lord," he whispered obediently, voice raspy from having his throat fucked and really, the debauchery suited his young face very well.
Voldemort watched with interest as Barty opened his own robes to free his erection from his dove grey trousers.
He would have liked to watch his hand movement but the boy sagged forward, forehead resting against Voldemort's thigh—ever so careful at first but when no complaint stopped him, he practically buried his face against the rich fabric hugging Voldemort's legs.
When he felt the turmoil beginning to brim over in the boy, Voldemort grabbed his shoulder. "Look at me," he commanded and as always, Barty obeyed immediately.
His cheeks were flushed, his lips slightly parted and the little puffs of air escaping through them were warm against Voldemort's arm.
The boy came not seconds later, screwing his eyes shut in abject pleasure and biting his lip harshly. Voldemort deigned to card a hand through the boy's hair again and was rewarded with a whine and a warm head pressing into the contact.
He looked into the boy's mind again and found relief, adoration, lust, wonder, adoration adoration adoration.
He'd never felt it this pure and free from expectations towards him.
"Thank you, my lord," Barty whispered, daring to press a soft kiss to the inside of Voldemort's wrist—a barest hint of lips.
Voldemort was surprised to find himself shudder in response and he realised that he was going to kiss these lips eventually.