Triumph running through his new veins, Voldemort glides up the quaint, narrow road through Godric’s Hollow. Death could not hold him, of course, it had only been a matter of time. Three years was nothing.
It’s almost nostalgic, following the same path that he did all those years ago, at the same time of night. Harry Potter should be… twenty or twenty-one, now. Voldemort is eager to finally end him. This time it will be a death worthy of such a nuisance, as well, because Voldemort has had three years to think about how to go about the execution. He’s still angry about it, but the fire of it has cooled into a glacial inevitability.
He picks at Potter’s wards, and then he gets impatient and just tears through them directly. He’s never known Potter to run, anyhow. He continues up the little cobblestone path and blasts down the front door.
Voldemort has his wand and cloak. He has his plan. There should be no reason to be nervous, even if he will be particularly careful, because Potter is now living in his late parents’ house and that brings up unpleasant memories. The faint tremble of his fingers is excitement. So he continues up the stairs, towards the sound of rustling in the same room where he had confronted Lily Potter and her son so many years ago.
He blows the door open with a wave of sheer power.
“Voldemort,” Harry Potter spits. His stance is defensive: his left arm is flung out to the side, and his right is levelling his wand at Voldemort’s chest.
Voldemort is pleased that Potter remembers. “Hello, Harry Potter,” he says, and flicks up a quick shield. Potter doesn’t attack straight away. “It’s been very good of you to stay alive all this time for me. I have been looking forward to--”
Potter attacks right as Voldemort gets into the swing of his monologue. It’s irritating.
“I was planning on a neat, swift affair, but you always did have to make things difficult,” Voldemort comments. He had certainly never planned on making it quick, but Potter doesn’t have to know that.
“You should have retired a long time ago, old man!” Potter taunts in between spells. They exchange a few more barbs, and then, unexpectedly, Potter tackles him.
Voldemort grunts as he takes the brunt of the fall to the ground. He can’t believe he’s tussling. Fed up, he wrenches himself bodily out of Potter’s hold and leaps for the center of the room.
“No!” Potter roars, and he flings himself lightning-fast in front of Voldemort to block his path. Something about his entire posture is eerily familiar. For a moment, Voldemort sees Lily Potter imposed upon her son, and he realizes that there’s even a child in the crib behind Potter. He’d been so narrowly focused on Potter that he had not even noticed.
“Is that a child? ” Voldemort says, incredulous, abruptly yanked out of his murderous mood.
“His name is Teddy, ” Harry Potter near-growls. “He’s mine. You’re not touching him.”
Voldemort eyes Teddy, who’s sitting up in his crib and staring at Voldemort with wide, curious eyes. Then he eyes Harry Potter in front of Teddy, and weighs the risk of a repeat of Harry Potter’s circumstances. Something in him shudders at the thought of Albania, again.
“I don’t care about your spawn,” Voldemort says. “I just want to kill you.”
“Oh,” Harry Potter says, and deflates. “Oh, okay. Thank Merlin.” Voldemort stares at him as he straightens out of his defensive stance. “Can we take this outside the house, then? I don’t want him to be hit by accident.”
“Yes,” Voldemort agrees, restraining himself from adding, I would prefer that Teddy be far, far away from me and Harry Potter’s death.
Potter raises a skeptical brow at the easy agreement. “... Great. Let’s--” and then Teddy lets out a high, wavering cry.
Potter is immediately lifting the baby into his arms to soothe it. Voldemort would wrinkle his nose in disgust if he had one.
“I think he’s hungry,” Potter tells Voldemort, hurrying past him to get downstairs. Voldemort follows out of curiosity. “Raincheck? Just a moment.”
Voldemort watches Potter pull a pre-prepared snack out of his icebox, wondering why he’s humoring the man. Well, it’s not like he has that much to do, at the moment-- only killing Potter, really, and as impatient as he is to do that, he won’t risk doing it with the child in the vicinity and ending up with a second Harry Potter. So he just watches.
“It’s loud,” Voldemort observes. Harry returns with a bib and pushes Voldemort bodily away from Teddy, who’s already occupied with smashing carrots against each other like tiny, stubby swords.
“ Stay away from him, ” Potter hisses. Voldemort shrugs; it doesn’t matter to him either way. Potter feeds the child, and then when Teddy’s satisfied and back in Potter’s arms, Potter adds, pointedly, “Also, Teddy is not an it. ”
“Potter, it’s half-werewolf,” Voldemort says in surprise, because in the moment of Teddy’s yawn his canines elongate, and then he snuffles into Potter’s neck.
“Teddy is not an it,” Potter repeats. “ He is half-werewolf. Problem?” He glares at Voldemort.
“I said I don’t care about it,” Voldemort points out, placidly. “Only you.”
“You are strangely mellow and it’s freaking me out,” Potter says, and he stomps up the stairs to put Teddy back in his crib. Teddy glares at Voldemort over Potter’s shoulder, his hair changing from red to black.
“It’s a metamorphmagus?” Voldemort says, to empty air.
Voldemort ends up in the Potter home for a while, because whenever he and Potter agree to leave Teddy to battle each other, Teddy clings, or has soiled his nappy, or is craving something or other, or wants to play, or has to be put to bed, or has to be bathed, or bares his teeth and growls in a threatening manner when Potter tries to leave him, or has to scent, or it’s the full moon, or any number of things that are driving Voldemort insane .
“Just put it down in the bloody crib and come to the living room,” Voldemort snaps.
“I’m trying, ” Potter hisses back. “Be quiet, he’s never going to fall asleep and let me go if you keep yelling like that.”
“I am not yelling!” Voldemort yells.
Teddy scrunches up his face and bawls.
“Now look what you’ve done,” Potter says, exasperated. “I’ll never get a chance to get rid of you at this rate.”
“If you weren’t so fucking softhearted--”
“I am not leaving Teddy alone!”
“ Now who’s yelling,” Voldemort points out.
“You are a petty, mean-spirited prick,” Potter says in a lower tone. “You don’t have to stay here, you know.”
“It would be just your luck that the moment I leave, the baby finally doesn’t need anything else,” Voldemort says. “I’m not leaving.”
“Fine,” Potter spits. “But back the hell off. You don’t have to stand so close.”
“You can’t tell me what to do. I’m a Dark Lord.”
“With what followers, idiot?”
Voldemort seethes, but he has nothing to say to that. He needs a show of strength before contacting his followers, because none of the ones left know any concept of loyalty, so he must kill Harry Potter first. Harry Potter is infuriating.
“If you’re going to brood or something, go do it in the kitchen and get something to eat or whatever,” Potter says.
“Stop trying to feed me,” Voldemort fumes, but Potter would be more trouble than he’s worth to argue with. Voldemort knows this from experience; the other day Potter forced him to carry the things while shopping since he was carrying Teddy, and Voldemort had never felt more like a humiliated mule. Potter hadn’t even let him attack anything.
“Still here?” Potter raises an aggravating brow. “You could de-gnome the garden too. Let off some steam.”
Voldemort lets out a noise like a boiling teakettle and seriously considers a few more years in Albania as a wraith.
… No. Fine. He storms outside.
Potter is called in as a consultant for the Aurors by fire-call.
“ Finally, ” Voldemort hisses. Finally they will have a chance to duel. Finally, they will leave the bloody demon-child behind.
Potter picks Teddy up.
“What are you doing?” Voldemort demands. “Let’s duel now.”
“I have a case,” Potter says. “That means the Aurors are getting in over their heads on something, so I’ve got to go help.”
Voldemort considers. “I’m going too.”
“No, you’re not. Did you want to be killed by me, or by the Aurors there?”
“They’re too pathetic to kill me,” Voldemort says. “I’m going.” He’s not going to miss a chance to end Potter if it shows up while Potter’s away.
“Well, keep your potshots to yourself, Teddy’s coming too.”
“No, he’s not,” Voldemort states, following Potter into the bedroom, where Potter puts Teddy down on the bed and then starts changing out of his casual pajamas, into more combat-ready gear. Neither of them care about Potter’s brief nudity, though Voldemort glances over Potter’s new scars and is annoyed that some other wannabe villain put them on him. “You can’t bring Teddy. He’s a baby.”
“What, and babies can’t go to crime scenes?” Potter retorts. He seems to reconsider the words as soon as they’re out of his mouth. “Er… I mean, I’m not going to change our habits just because you think something or other! Teddy’s been to almost every crime scene I’ve consulted at since he was born.”
“Be it what it may, the second you put him down…”
“Sure.” Potter snaps a wand-holster onto each forearm. After a moment, he takes another one out of his closet and offers it to Voldemort, who takes it automatically. “You want a wand?”
Voldemort blinks. “Are you suicidal?”
“No, just fair,” Potter says, like that’s reassuring. “I figured that since you’ve been wandless all this time, you might want one. I still have your old yew around here somewhere.”
Voldemort is not sure whether to be flattered that Potter had kept it, or insulted that Potter thinks he’s reliant on a wand to any degree. Anyhow, it’s Potter’s decision and he can die with the consequences. “Give it to me.”
“Rude,” Potter says, already fetching Voldemort’s yew wand from the closet. It’s in a box, and it welcomes Voldemort with a rush of warmth.
“Great,” Potter says after a pause. “Now, glamour yourself and let’s get going. I’ll Side-Along you.” He picks Teddy up.
“ Glamour myself?” Voldemort scowls. “No. I have nothing to hide. I may not look conventionally beautiful, but still have self-respect enough to have accepted that this form is inhuman in nature and it has beauty in its own right--”
“You look fine. You’re wearing a glamour because I don’t want to lose my job,” Potter interrupts. “I’ll glamour you if you don’t do it yourself.”
Teddy frowns at Voldemort. “Bah,” he says, prompting a round of cooing from Potter.
“I think he was trying to say your name!” Potter says excitedly. “Say this, Teddy, Vol-de-mort!”
“Bah bah boh. Dah.”
“My son is so smart!” Potter praises. “Who’s a smart treacle tart? Teddy!”
“You are ridiculous,” Voldemort says, having glamoured himself into Tom Riddle’s younger form. “You don’t want to be late, do you?”
“The murder victim isn’t getting any more dead. They can wait a few minutes for me.” Potter settles Teddy back on his hip and then double-takes at Voldemort. “Interesting choice.”
Voldemort can’t tell what Potter’s thinking. Potter shrugs and holds out his arm for Side-Along.
They land in Hogsmeade. Potter is immediately accosted by a harried Auror, who tells them that the body has disappeared from the scene.
“The sheer incompetence of the Auror department astounds me,” Voldemort comments.
The Auror sputters, offended. “What-- we-- who the fuck are you, anyway? … You aren’t supposed to be wearing glamours at the crime scene!”
“Watch your language around the baby,” Voldemort says. He’s treated to both the Auror’s guilt and Potter’s incredulity.
“Tom here is with me, Proudfoot. The glamour is fine,” Potter says eventually. Voldemort bites back his ill-timed comment about the name, and settles for glaring. “You were saying something about the body… disappearing? Was it stolen?”
“Well,” Proudfoot says, sheepishly. “Just a few seconds ago, it just up and vanished. And the dark magical residue that had been clinging to it--”
“Dawlish didn’t say anything about an aura,” Potter frowns. “Why don’t you give us a rundown while we take a look at the scene?”
Proudfoot leads them to the Hog’s Head. “We got the call from Aberforth Dumbledore yesterday evening. He said that Mundungus Fletcher was meeting with some shady character and then just dropped dead out of nowhere, and the body had such a miasma around it that he didn’t want to risk getting too close. Aberforth’s our only witness, though, and some of the townsfolk are suspecting him… ”
Teddy says something mangled around the fingers in his mouth.
“That’s the idea, Teddy. There’s just not enough information, since the shady character covered their tracks well and nobody knows what exactly the miasma is. And then, right after Dawlish Floo-called you, the body just up and dissolved into some sort of acid. It’s still eating through the ground, we have a proper crater in there.” Proudfoot sighs explosively. “Ron will be happy to see you.”
Against his will, Voldemort is slightly interested.
“I thought Dung was banned from the Hog’s Head,” Potter remarks, as they file into the dingy pub.
“Yeah, he was,” Proudfoot confirms. “Aberforth said something about special circumstances and… satyr horns. Savage and some of the townsfolk think he’s going senile.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised,” Voldemort says.
“Harry!” Ron Weasley greets, sweeping Potter up in a hug. “Long time no see! About time you got here, mate, it’s been nearly half an hour. How’s this little stranger doing?”
Teddy’s hair changes from a messy black to Weasley’s red. “Wah,” he says, peaceably.
“Your child is barely excited to see me,” Weasley mourns to Potter. “Oi, Teddy, aren’t you excited to see Uncle Ron?”
“Bwuh.” Teddy is unimpressed.
“What about...” Weasley rummages around in his pockets and produces a chocolate frog. “Uncle Ron’s candy?”
Teddy lights up with an enthusiastic “Ah!” and squirms in Potter’s arms.
Potter grimaces. “The crime scene, Ron…”
“Teddy’s curing my headache,” Weasley says. “Actually, just give him here. You go look at the hole over there, that’s where Dung used to be.”
“Don’t make him fat,” Harry warns.
“I wouldn’t,” Ron says, wounded. “Hey, who’s this?”
“Tom,” Harry answers. Instead of elaborating, he grabs Voldemort by the elbow and marches over to the hole in the floor. Voldemort notices that this is a chance to kill Potter, since Teddy is with the Weasley; however, he wants to know what this supposed dark magic is, so he starts casting diagnostic spells to find out.
That’s the only reason why he doesn’t take the chance. The only reason.
“You’re helping?” Potter asks, skeptical. Voldemort notes that Potter also has not made a move towards murder.
“If this is magic I don’t know, then I want it.”
Potter goggles at him. “You’re… I should have known… all the clues were there…”
“What,” Voldemort snaps.
“You’re a nerd!”
“I value knowledge, ” Voldemort corrects him. He frowns as his diagnostic spells return their results. “This is disappointing.”
“You know what it is?”
“Unfortunately,” Voldemort sighs, wondering why he hasn’t killed Potter yet and feeling little inclination to do so.
“Well?” Potter says, after a few minutes. “Are you going to tell us, or…?”
“I’m going to go ask Mundungus Fletcher where he acquired golem mud.”
“Wait, Vo-- Tom!” Harry hurries after Voldemort. “What do you mean, golem mud? And Dung’s not dead? Will you wait up a second!”
“No, I’m tracking your fake murder victim,” Voldemort says.
“You are so annoying, ” Harry hisses, and he gets a hand on Voldemort as they apparate, leaving behind several very confused Aurors. If Voldemort were a lesser wizard, he might have splinched them both. As it is, he’s still not sure why he automatically reached out with his magic to bring Potter along in one piece.
They arrive in a nice, normal-looking house. Voldemort strides up the stairs and blasts open a bedroom door just in time to see Fletcher disappear with a Portkey in his hand.
If Fletcher had been chased by lesser wizards, then he’d have gotten away. However, Potter and Voldemort combined are strong enough to track him and apparate the distance to his portkey’s destination: a summer home on the coast of France.
“Piss off!” Fletcher cries, sprinting up the beach to get behind his wards. Voldemort flicks his wand to raise a wall of sand to block his path. Desperate, Fletcher dodges Voldemort’s next deadly curse and lunges in Harry’s direction.
“Scum,” Voldemort says, enraged all of a sudden. “I will kill you myself. You don’t touch my -- Ah, Harry.”
Harry had contained Fletcher while Voldemort was working himself up, and now he’s holding Voldemort back with a hand to Voldemort’s chest. His expression is… strange. “Okay… let’s not kill our suspect. I thought you wanted to know where he got golem mud from? Presumably, he faked his death?”
“Likely to escape debt,” Voldemort says, calming down. “Let me go. I won’t kill him.”
Harry squints at him, then drops his arm.
“ Legilimens. ”
“Harry!” Ron Weasley shouts, relieved. “Mate, you’re alive!”
“Sorry about that,” Harry says sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck. He and Weasley clap each other on the back. “Where’s Teddy?”
“Around somewhere, being spoiled,” Weasley grins. “So, what did you find out? Who exactly is Tom, here?”
“Apparently Dung faked his death with golem mud, which Tom recognized because he’s…”
“An academic,” Voldemort picks up, smoothly, with a German accent. He flashes a charming smile. “Pleasure, Mr Weasley. Harry’s told me good things about you; your solve rate and anti-corruption campaigns in the department are commendable.”
Harry stares, because he hadn’t mentioned what Ron was doing to Voldemort at all. Ron, for his part, seems flattered, and he and Voldemort start talking about the underground market and getting along.
Harry backs away from the burgeoning surreality and tracks down a sugar-filled Teddy.
“Teddy’s crying,” Voldemort remarks.
“So he is,” Harry says, his attention on the bottles of formula he’s making up to send to Longbottom for his newborn. He gives Voldemort a heavy, judging side-long glance, and then, “Go pick him up.”
Voldemort narrows his eyes at him.
“Well? Don’t just stand there and be useless. Unless you like his crying.”
“I don’t,” Voldemort says through gritted teeth. Harry ignores his bad temper entirely, waiting until… “ Fine! ” Voldemort shouts, and he goes to the living room couch where Teddy’s progressed to gnawing on the armrest in a pathetic manner.
“You’re pathetic,” Voldemort tells Teddy. “Stop.”
Teddy’s wail into the spit- and tear- stained armrest is muffled.
“Do you have no respect for yourself?” Voldemort demands. “Your father has killed me-- me!-- before, and united Wizarding Britain. You are his son. You are the only reason I’m not killing him right now. You cannot be chewing on the couch!”
Teddy’s cries slowly peter off. Voldemort strongly suspects that he just did it for the attention, the brat. He studies Teddy carefully to make sure he isn’t crying again, and makes to leave.
Teddy is quiet.
Voldemort takes a step away.
Teddy whines, and his breath hitches in preparation.
“Fucking hellion,” Voldemort gripes, but he turns back before Teddy can start sobbing again. “I am not doing this for you ,” he disclaims, and then he sits on the couch a safe meter away from the slobbering creature.
Teddy lights up, babbling something incoherent with “Bah-Bah” in the mix. He promptly crawls towards Voldemort on the couch.
Hell no. Voldemort leaps off of the couch and stands in the far corner of the living room. Predictably, Teddy howls with displeasure.
“I told you to pick him up!” Harry says from the doorway. He doesn’t even bother to repress his laughter at Voldemort’s expression of utter revulsion.
“Hand that camera the fuck over,” Voldemort yells, outraged.
Harry grins until Voldemort tackles him to wrench it out of his hands, unwilling to risk magic in the vicinity of Teddy. Let it be known that Voldemort can use his opponents’ moves against them. He ends up victorious, straddling Harry , and holding the camera aloft, taking it apart and then smooshing the debris of what used to be a camera into the carpet beside Harry’s head. He leans down.
“No pictures,” he commands.
Harry rolls his eyes. This close, Voldemort can see that they’re purely green, with no flecks of any other color in them. “You’re so dramatic. Get the bloody hell off of me, I need to feed Teddy.”
“No pictures, Harry .”
“Whatever,” Harry says, thinking to himself about the roll of film he’s stashed in his old Hogwarts trunk beneath his memorabilia. “No pictures. Hurry up.”
“I can tell when you lie, you’re a horrible liar,” Voldemort says. “Where’s the hidden roll of film?”
Harry is saved from answering by Teddy having tumbled from the couch and toddled over to them. Voldemort is quick to distance himself from Teddy’s sticky, grabby hands.
“I will find out!” Voldemort swears, but the intimidation factor is ruined by the fact that he’s edging out of the doorway to get away from a child.
“I just don’t know what to do, or if I should do anything,” Harry says. He’s laying sideways on the couch, a thin baby-milestone pamphlet on his stomach; if he turns his head slightly he can watch Voldemort and Teddy having a stare-off on the floor. “He started talking late… he still doesn’t say full sentences. We both talk to him a lot, don’t we? He’s three, now… I wish there was more information on half-were babies, I had no idea what to do when he was clawing everything up when he was younger and I just got him a kneazle’s scratching post. I must be such a terrible parent-- I let Dark Lords near him, he still chews on everything, he doesn’t talk properly--”
“Shut up,” Voldemort says. “I’m winning.”
Teddy says, “Vah!” and something indistinct that might include mangled versions of “loser” and “pathetic” somewhere in it.
“And the Dark Lord is teaching him dreadful language,” Harry sighs, slumping into the couch-cushions. “The couch is lumpy from Teddy’s chewing, I’m basically a house-husband but not because yesterday my wife told me she wants to divorce through a fucking letter because she’s on a world Quidditch tour, I haven’t seen my friends in person in forever, and my son is a sore loser.”
“ You’re a sore loser. He gets it from you,” Voldemort says. “Hah! Take that!” And Teddy scrunches up his face with determination, demanding a rematch.
Harry has no idea how the game works. Somehow this hits harder than everything else. He puts the pamphlet on the back of the couch, throws an arm over his eyes, and fights back frustrated tears. Eventually, the noises of Teddy and Voldemort playing around fade too, as they go outside.
Figures that my son likes a Dark Lord better than me, Harry thinks, wishing he could be spiteful but mostly just tired.
It might be two hours later that Teddy lands on Harry’s stomach from above. Harry grunts, the wind knocked out of him, but he doesn’t move.
“Da,” Teddy says. “Da? Da?” He and Voldemort have a whispered conversation over Harry’s head, and then Harry feels Teddy’s little hands pat his chest. “Da.”
Harry keeps his arm over his eyes.
“Daddy play with Teddy, please,” Teddy says, clearly.
Harry bolts upright, automatically holding Teddy so he doesn’t tumble off from the sudden movement. “What?” he says, a little desperate. “Teddy, could you say that again?”
“Again,” Teddy frowns. He looks supremely disapproving that Harry hadn’t gotten it the first time, but he pats Harry’s chest again and says, obligingly, “Daddy, play with Teddy, please. Now. Vah has blocks. You come hit them down.”
Harry’s vaguely aware that he’s crying, peppering Teddy’s face with kisses and then scenting him, which Teddy takes with long-suffering aplomb.
“Stop that,” Voldemort says eventually, his patience running out. “Hitting the blocks is the best part of blocks, Teddy’s never let me, so hurry the hell up.”
Harry pulls Voldemort into the hug too. Voldemort takes his sniffling with the same attitude as Teddy-- he’s clearly where Teddy learned it from-- but he doesn’t mention the tear stains or push Harry away.
“‘Daddy’ is undignified ,” Voldemort presses, following Teddy, who’s following Harry through the shed.
Harry picks three pairs of sturdy, soil-stained gloves in varying sizes from the shelf on the side wall, and gives the appropriate ones to Voldemort and Teddy. “Grab the shovel,” he tells Voldemort, and slips his feet into his rubber gardening shoes.
“You deserve a better moniker,” Voldemort insists. He bends down to help the Teddy with his gloves and boots. “Like ‘Father.’ Father is a respectable form of address for a strong parental figure.”
“You care way too much about this,” Harry laughs, kicking the door open. “Get the seeds. It’s time to plant!”
“Plant!” Teddy echoes, excitedly, and runs out after Harry, forgetting the little trowel that Harry had entrusted to him. Voldemort rolls his eyes.
He ends up trying to teach Teddy the word ‘Father’ more than he helps with the gardening, and Harry doesn’t seem to mind until Teddy starts trying to dig for worms to eat them, because Voldemort had told him that they were nutritious.
“What were you thinking?” Harry corners Voldemort in the hall, after Teddy’s freshly bathed and zooming around in the house on his toy broomstick.
“I didn’t lie to him,” Voldemort defends himself. “I was educating him. Worms are high in protein and have nutrients to help break down food and repair body tissue. They even--”
“They’re not sanitary. Teddy can’t eat dirt.”
“I didn’t tell him to eat the worms!”
“You made it sound like fun and then you didn’t stop him!”
“I ate dirt when I was a child--”
“Well you shouldn’t have!”
“And I’m still alive.”
“Not for my lack of trying,” Harry says.
Having run out of steam, they both fall silent, listening to Teddy make explosion noises in the living room.
“Why aren’t you trying to kill me?” Voldemort asks, at the same time that Harry says, “Why aren’t you trying anymore?” They look at each other. Somewhere during their worm argument, the distance between them had shrunk to the extent that Voldemort can feel Harry’s body heat.
“You know what, I’m just not going to question it,” Harry says.
“Let’s not speak of it again,” Voldemort agrees, and they both trek into the living room to make sure Teddy isn’t chewing on the couch again.
“Father eat,” Teddy orders, at noon the next day.
Voldemort shrugs. “Why don’t we go find him, then,” he says, and he strides towards the bedroom where Harry has been sleeping off a late night consultation. Teddy looks frustrated as he toddles after as fast as he can; Voldemort finds his worry for Harry… appropriate.
Harry is wrapped in a cocoon of blankets in the center of the bed, only a tuft of hair visible. Voldemort mercilessly rips the blankets away and stands back with Teddy behind him so that they’re both out of range when Harry flips out of the bed, ready to attack, his wand appearing in his hand.
“Teddy wants you to eat,” Voldemort says, bland, resisting the urge to fix Harry’s disheveled state. No real equal of his should be so… untidy.
Harry deflates and drops his wand onto his nightstand. “What time’s it?” he slurs, flopping back onto the bed and making an attempt to burrow into the mattress.
“Time for you to get up,” Voldemort answers, sending a few hexes his way. Harry yelps and tumbles out of the bed again, this time much less gracefully in the absence of an adrenaline-fueled mindset. “Put your glasses on.” Voldemort floats them over to poke Harry in the face.
“Ow, ow, ” Harry squawks. “Calm the fuck down, I’ll be there in a hot second.”
“No,” Teddy says, and they both turn to look at him. His face is scrunched up and red. “No, no! Daddy sleep. Father eat."
“He can’t do both at once, idiot,” Voldemort says.
“Don’t call Teddy an idiot,” Harry hisses.
“Daddy sleep!” Teddy yells, tugging at Voldemort’s leg. Voldemort winces at the prick of his little claws unsheathing. “Father eat! Father eat!”
“Your son is unreasonable,” Voldemort tells Harry.
Harry doesn’t respond, studying Teddy with a thoughtful look. “Hmm… Teddy?”
“Daddy, no talk.” Teddy points to the bed. “Sleep now.”
“Teddy, who’s Father?”
“Father,” Teddy says, looking as if he can’t believe Harry’s stupidity. Voldemort agrees with him-- obviously, Father is Harry-- and then Teddy latches onto Voldemort’s leg and says again, “Father here.”
“Voldemort’s Father?” Harry asks, since Voldemort’s voice has stopped working.
“Don’t be idiot,” Teddy confirms.
“ An idiot,” Voldemort corrects, faintly, feeling his face do strange things. “It’s ‘don’t be an idiot.’ Don’t forget the article.”
Harry snaps a picture of Voldemort’s face, and Voldemort doesn’t react. Harry starts laughing wildly, clutching at his stomach. Voldemort stares blankly at the nightstand long enough that Teddy gets impatient and tries to drag him back back to the kitchen, giving Harry a stern “You’re no sleep so you also eat now.”
Voldemort’s plan to have Teddy call Harry ‘Father’ has backfired.
The morning of Teddy’s first group playdate is… trying.
“You said you wanted him to make friends,” Voldemort says, wrestling Teddy’s shirt into some semblance of unwrinkled. “That stupid lunchbox is not how he makes friends.”
“ You conjure a cool lunchbox, then!” Harry throws up his hands. Voldemort bites back a sharp retort-- only because Harry had officially finalized his divorce papers yesterday, and Voldemort isn’t willing to cross his resulting ill-humor.
Voldemort holds Teddy by his shoulders and says, seriously, “What’s cool in kiddie land right now?”
Teddy thinks about it. “Firebolt broom, snitches,” Teddy lists. “Chocolate frogs.”
“Typical. What color do you want?”
“That’s the color yellow, idiot.” Voldemort conjures a lunchbox to Teddy’s discerning specifications. “This will serve you well,” he says, placing it into Teddy’s awestruck hands.
“Thank you!” Teddy says, throwing his arms around Voldemort’s neck. Voldemort endures the scenting because Harry would be mad at him otherwise-- not because he is fond of Teddy, or anything.
“Now you go say thank you to Daddy because Daddy’s in a horrid mood,” Voldemort says.
“I did Daddy duty last time,” Teddy pouts. “It’s Father’s turn.”
“Daddy doesn’t want to talk to Father right now,” Voldemort explains.
“Teddy doesn’t want to talk to Daddy right now,” Teddy says, loudly enough that there’s a gasp of hurt from the kitchen. Voldemort closes his eyes for a second to collect himself.
“Teddy, go apologize to Daddy.”
Teddy remains unaware of the rarity of the word leaving Voldemort’s mouth, and starts riling himself up into a rare, full-blown tantrum. “No! No! No!”
“Fuck no!” Teddy yells.
Voldemort massages his temples and lets out a long, slow breath.
“Cease this nonsense,” he commands, leaking some of his magic into the air around him. Teddy falls silent, wide-eyed. The fear in his expression has never been directed at Voldemort before; it is unexpectedly arresting. “Go apologize to Daddy, and then you are going to be on your best behavior for the rest of the day. Am I clear?”
Teddy whimpers and runs to the kitchen, clutching his lunchbox. Voldemort wonders when he signed up for this.
Voldemort doesn’t join Harry in going to drop Teddy off at the Weasley’s Burrow. He could take this chance to curse the house, or some everyday objects that Potter uses. He could put poison in the food or the water. He could trash the house. He could dismantle the wards. He could find some deadly creature and let it loose here. He could trample the garden. He could ambush Harry as soon as he arrives home without Teddy; Harry certainly wouldn’t expect it, foolishly trusting as he has become.
Voldemort sits on the mangled couch with his head in his hands and thinks about all the ways he could murder Harry Potter, but when Harry comes home and joins him, he just says, “You didn’t stay to mingle with your friends.”
“Ginny was there.”
Voldemort shifts. He’s not sure why he says, “I know you told that Weasley chit about me.”
“She said you were the last straw.”
“You read my letters,” Harry says, but with a resigned air instead of an accusatory one.
They sit for a while.
“We should get a new couch,” Harry says. “Since Teddy’s stopped chewing on everything.”
“I’ll look into it.”
They sit a little more.
“McGonagall invited me to lecture for DADA,” Harry says.
“I can handle Teddy.”
“I know…” Harry pauses. “This is weird, isn’t it? It doesn’t feel weird, but it should.”
“We said we weren’t going to talk about it.” Voldemort finally faces him. He’s disheveled from travel and presumably being hugged by Molly Weasley. There are small rips in his collar and pant legs from Teddy’s little claws. Teddy will probably have red hair when they go to pick him up, since there are so many Weasleys.
Harry is… disturbingly familiar. He seems to be studying Voldemort back with the same mild puzzlement. Through some unspoken agreement, they both stand up, look away, and pass the empty day on opposite sides of the house.
When they go to the Burrow-- Voldemort glamoured, of course-- they find Teddy grumbling to himself in a corner. Several other children are scattered in time-out in other places, all in stormy moods, sporting small injuries: split lips and darkening bruises and scratch marks.
“What happened?” Harry asks, after Molly Weasley releases him from a crushing hug. Molly doesn’t get a chance to explain before Bill and Fleur arrive, followed by the other parents.
“Best let the children explain,” Molly says, so they gather the children. As soon as Teddy catches sight of several of them he snarls and lunges; Voldemort snags him by the collar and hauls him back. Some of the other parents are doing the same.
A red-haired one taunts Teddy about how childish blocks are; Teddy yells something along the lines of “No, you!” The adults share an exasperated look.
“What did we say about swearing, Teddy,” Voldemort warns.
Teddy, evidently remembering the events of the morning, subsides quickly. “Only do it if they deserve it,” he mumbles, his hair turning from red to match Voldemort’s current brown. There are a few stifled snickers from the adults.
“And does she deserve it?”
“No, she’s scum!” Teddy shouts.
“Vicky is not scum!” the girl retorts, face as red as her hair, referring to herself. The other children chime in, taking sides.
“I think we get the idea of what happened,” Harry says to his fellow parents, wryly, while Voldemort and Bill Weasley step up to explain to the children what to do about differences of opinion. “I’m so sorry about all the trouble. I really had hoped they’d get along easier.”
“Eet eez no trouble,” Fleur assures him, backed by Molly’s firm nod. “Zey are already making up. Ze best relationships are born of conflict, no? You and Granger and Weasley, Bill and I, ze list eez long.” She follows Harry’s automatic glance towards Voldemort. “Eh, who eez zat?”
Harry fidgets, caught. “He’s a-- a friend?”
“A friend?” Molly says. “Oh, you’ve made a friend and you haven’t brought him around yet? This is the first we’ve heard of him!”
“You sound unsure,” Fleur notes.
“Er,” Harry flushes, wracking his brain for a cover-up. He can’t let them know that he’s been living with Voldemort for months now. “Tom is… private…”
“Right,” Molly says, clearly not buying it. “Well, Tom’s a handsome fellow, isn’t he? Very good with Teddy. I’d been worried about you and Teddy being all alone in that house.” She winks.
“What?” Harry is bewildered. This isn’t exactly where he’d thought she was going.
“Ginny’s been talking to me about a lad with her Holyhead Harpies, so you don’t go feeling guilty, now,” Molly smiles warmly. “I’m glad you’ve found someone to make you happy.”
“You’ve gotten all turned around,” Harry protests. “Tom and I aren’t… we aren’t like that. We just… he just…”
“It’s okay, dear,” Molly pats his back in an understanding manner. “Teddy even calls him Father, it’s very cute. I understand, and I’m sure everyone else will too.”
“No, wait,” Harry insists, but Molly won’t be persuaded, and Fleur raises a disbelieving brow, so it’s a lost cause. The one consolation is that Voldemort doesn’t ask Harry what’s bothering him when they get home, being preoccupied with wrangling Teddy into the bath.
That same night, a screech of “ HARRY JAMES POTTER ” interrupts Voldemort’s ablutions. The Howler-- for that’s what it must be-- goes on about how Harry’s kept Hermione Granger out of the loop on his relationships, to the point that she had to hear from Molly that some man has already moved in with him. There’s also a few long paragraphs about how her being out of the country, on tour for some advocacy campaign with the Ministry, is no excuse for Harry to leave her out of his personal life.
Voldemort stretches and goes from his guest room to the nursery, to check on Teddy.
“Daddy’s in trouble,” Teddy whispers as soon as he sees Voldemort, his eyes wide. He yawns, showing his canines and blowing strawberry toothpaste breath in Voldemort’s face.
“Daddy’s friends are ridiculous because like attracts like,” Voldemort explains. “The Howler will stop soon. Go to sleep.”
“ You sleep,” Teddy retorts. “I’m wake now.” He stands up in his crib.
Voldemort lifts him out and sets him on the ground. “We need to get you a toddler bed.”
“We need bedtime story,” Teddy says.
“ A bedtime story. I’m not giving you a bedtime story if you don’t include the article.”
“Father, tell me a bedtime story,” Teddy tries again.
“Fine,” Voldemort says, as if he’s put-upon, but by the time Harry finally checks the guest room for them, Voldemort’s gotten into the swing of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales and will not be interrupted.
“Don’t you think Hansel and Gretel was too gory for him?” Harry hisses, as soon as Voldemort’s come out of his room and shut the door because Teddy’s asleep on his bed. “I don’t want to give him nightmares. I was telling him about his parents, last time.”
“Better that he gets used to harsh reality early, than have it forced upon his naive mind later,” Voldemort says. “Also, aren’t you and the Weasley chit his parents?”
“I’m his godfather. He’s Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks’ child… or he was.” Harry raises a brow. “Your fault, by the way.” There’s old grief in his voice, but also enough wry acceptance that Voldemort doesn’t bother to care.
Voldemort pushes past him to get to Harry’s bedroom. “That makes more sense. I’d been wondering how I missed that Ginny was a werewolf and a metamorphmagus.”
“You could have asked.”
“I didn’t care enough.”
“Anyhow… wait, where are you going?”
“Your bed,” Voldemort answers, and Harry’s moment of surprise is long enough for him to get under the covers. He looks up at Harry in the dark. “Well?” He pauses. “Did you want the left side?”
“Er,” Harry says. His cheeks seem darker in the faint moonlight from the window. “What are you doing in my bed?”
“Teddy’s in mine, so I’m sleeping here,” Voldemort says. “What else would I be doing?”
“Nothing…” Harry sets his glasses on the nightstand. “I guess some of the things people were saying today just got to me.”
“Don’t be an idiot.”
“I know… I just forget sometimes.” The rustling from Harry’s side of the bed jostles Voldemort. Harry settles down, but his breathing doesn’t even out. “D’you think there are… implications?”
“To… well, Teddy calls me Daddy and he calls you Father, don’t you think that… implies… something?”
“It’s not implied that you’re his parent,” Voldemort says with finality. “Sleep.”
“That’s not what I-- oh, whatever.”
“Sleep,” Voldemort says again, because he needs to have the last word.
Early the next morning, when Ron Weasley’s Howler arrives, Voldemort’s plastered against Harry’s back, leeching his body heat. It’s nice to wake up cuddling. They say good morning, separate, and dress; they don't mention Harry's brief nightmare from the middle of the night. It’s not at all awkward-- just normal, like they do this every day, so Harry figures that this is a rare instance where Molly Weasley’s opinion is wrong. There’s nothing worth overthinking about between him and Voldemort.
“It says we need to decide what word to use for the… bodily fluids,” Harry says, furrowing his brow at the potty-training pamphlet he’d gotten at St. Mungo’s during Teddy’s annual check-up. “But avoid negative ones like ‘dirty’ and ‘stinky.’ How many words are there for piss, anyway?”
“Many,” Voldemort says. “Just use ‘urine.’”
“What kind of kid calls piss ‘urine’?”
“An educated one.”
“Alright,” Harry agrees. “Urine it is. Now we need times for bathroom breaks… and to set up the potty chair.”
Voldemort looks at him steadily, having already spelled its parts together and put it on the toilet.
“Oh, you’ve already set it up! Great. Er… we need to keep him in loose clothing… teach him about hygiene… trade the diapers for underwear in a couple weeks, we need to buy toddler underwear… have some games to play while he’s sitting there trying… er..” Harry seems a little overwhelmed.
“Teddy, come to the bathroom,” Voldemort calls, tired of waiting. The pitter-patter of Teddy’s footsteps approaches, and a moment later he peeks his head in.
“Are Daddy and Father busy kissing?”
“No,” Voldemort says, while Harry splutters. “Come in. It’s time for you to relieve yourself like an adult.”
Teddy frowns, processing this. “I don’t wanna be old and wrinkly.”
"I’m an adult. Am I old and wrinkly?”
Teddy gasps, his hands flying to cover the top of his head. “I don’t wanna be adult and lose all my hair! And my nose!”
Voldemort breathes out, slowly. “Come here, Teddy. Now, your Daddy still has his nose and his hair, and he’s an adult. You’re going to become an adult like him and keep your nose and hair, because I won’t let you make my mistakes. Even if you did, though, losing your nose and hair is nothing to be afraid of. Are we clear?”
Teddy slowly lifts his hands from his head, and when his hair doesn’t suddenly disappear on him, he brightens. “Okay! Teddy is adult now.”
“That’s not how being an adult works,” Voldemort says. “You need to do adult things, you can’t just say you are one.”
Teddy looks confused.
“The first step of being an adult is relieving yourself on the toilet,” Voldemort says. “Go on. Sit.”
Utterly bewildered, Teddy sits on the potty chair that Voldemort indicates.
“Sweet Salazar,” Voldemort exhales. “Stop laughing, Harry, he’s your child.”
“Right, because whenever he’s not a genius, he’s my child,” Harry guffaws.
“Daddy, no laugh,” Teddy says, sitting very seriously on the toilet with his pants and diaper still up. “Relieving myself now.”
Harry laughs harder, to Voldemort and Teddy’s consternation.
Several years later, Teddy is fourteen, old enough to have decided that his hair should stay turquoise at all times because that’s his favorite color.
“I like Vicky,” Teddy interrupts Harry’s bedtime read-aloud of The Tales of Beedle the Bard. “I reckon I’m in love with her.”
“That’s nice, pup,” Harry smiles, setting the book aside. Teddy smiles too; Voldemort doesn’t like it when Teddy interrupts. “I’m glad you’ve found someone who makes you happy.”
“Actually, she makes me mad a lot,” Teddy says, with the wise air of a child who thinks they’ve seen the world. “How did you know you loved Father?”
Taken aback, Harry stammers, “W- What?”
“How did you know you loved Father?” Teddy repeats, with Remus’ patience.
“... I don’t…”
“I’m not an idiot.” Teddy frowns. “Everybody says you do. You sleep together, you do stuff together like cook dinner and clean the house and solve cases and lecture at Hogwarts, and Vicky says you argue worse than her parents but still live together, so you have to love each other even though you’re not married. Was it your first kiss? That’d be nice.”
“... We’ve never…”
Teddy shakes his head and sighs, loudly. “I’m old enough, Daddy, you can kiss in front of me now.”
“You’re so easily embarrassed about these things,” Teddy says. “Whatever, I’ll just ask Father. He’ll probably give me a straight answer.”
“ Er… ” Harry manages, but he doesn’t know how to stop Teddy, so he doesn’t.
Voldemort doesn’t give Teddy a straight answer. In fact, he seems to ignore the question entirely, because when Teddy’s finished pointing out all the ways that he and Harry are clearly in love, he just abandons his book on the lumpy couch and goes to Harry’s bedroom.
Teddy fetches the Extendable Ear that Uncle George gave him, and follows.
“Teddy asked you?” Teddy hears Voldemort ask Harry.
“Yeah…” Harry says. “Er, I didn’t know how to tell him. He didn’t believe me.”
“I wonder why.” Voldemort’s voice has dropped to a low purr.
Harry squeaks, and then, quickly, “W- What are you doing? You’re acting really strange-- mmph--” There’s a crash of something falling, a thump, and then rustling and lots of breathing and a slick sound.
“Ew,” Teddy whispers to himself, retracting the Extendable Ear.