Fanfic: If Paths Diverge by handsonmyheart (Free to read, 564,411Clicks)


During the Battle of Hogwarts, Harry goes into the Forbidden Forest to surrender his life to Voldemort. When the Dark Lord tries to kill him, they both get knocked unconscious. Harry wakes up first and, owing to Dumbledore’s Pensieve trips showing Harry Tom Riddle’s miserable childhood, Harry instead decides to Apparate away and deliver Voldemort to the Ministry to be imprisoned, like Dumbledore did with Grindelwald. The Ministry, however, chooses to execute the Dark Lord.


Graphic Depictions Of Violence Rape/Non-ConHarry Potter/Voldemort Hermione Granger/Ron Weasley Harry Potter/Ginny WeasleyHermione Granger Ron Weasley Kingsley Shacklebolt Voldemort (Harry Potter) Tom Riddle | Voldemort Harry Potter Percy Weasley Ginny Weasley Gawain Robards Bellatrix Black Lestrange Neville Longbottom Luna LovegoodRape Rape Recovery Torture Aftermath of Torture Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD Blood and Gore Graphic Description Panic Attacks Suicidal Thoughts BDSM Master of Death Harry Potter Immortal Voldemort Immortal Harry Obsessive Voldemort (Harry Potter) Sane Voldemort (Harry Potter) Powerful Voldemort (Harry Potter) Angst Hallucinations Knifeplay Whipping Blood and Violence Captivity Drowning Strangulation Rough Sex Master/Pet Dubious Consent Extremely Dubious Consent Dark Prisoner Voldemort Canon Compliant Canon Divergence – Post-Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Canon Compliant until Deathly Hallows Chapter 34: The Forest Again Sounding Psychological Trauma Trauma Possessive Voldemort (Harry Potter) Top Voldemort (Harry Potter) Bottom Voldemort (Harry Potter) Homophobia Internalized Homophobia Flashbacks Infidelity Infidelity between Harry and Voldemort Auror Harry Potter Non-Consensual Touching Anal Sex Oral Sex Gay Sex Smut Porn With Plot Non Main Paring Death Minor Character Death Bottom Harry Top Harry Dom/sub Undertones Snakeface Voldemort



During the Battle of Hogwarts, Harry goes into the Forbidden Forest to surrender his life to Voldemort. When the Dark Lord tries to kill him, they both get knocked unconscious. Harry wakes up first and, owing to Dumbledore’s Pensieve trips showing Harry Tom Riddle’s miserable childhood, Harry instead decides to Apparate away and deliver Voldemort to the Ministry to be imprisoned, like Dumbledore did with Grindelwald. The Ministry, however, chooses to execute the Dark Lord. Twelve years later, Harry is suffering. His magic is unhinged and he doesn’t feel right, but when he stumbles upon a horrific scene in a cell at the Ministry, suddenly he comes back to himself. Voldemort is being tortured by the Ministry of Magic and no one but his three guards and the Minister knows about his existence. They are keeping his life a secret because they are unable to kill him and his power is such that they know he will not be able to be contained forever. Harry is left struggling with the many shifting ways to do the right thing and the changing question of: right thing by whom?


This is a DARK STORY in four parts with many triggers. Please read the tags and warnings. It starts dark, the middle is dark, and there are many dark bits near the end— but there IS a happy ending, I promise. This work is COMPLETE, coming in at around 240,000 words, and I will be posting a new chapter every few days. With 44 Chapters, it will likely be all out in a month or so. It is done, edited and ready, I’m just releasing it slowly. I have spent almost two years writing, reading, and editing this, but I had no beta so I apologize for any mistakes you might find. This is a story written mostly for myself, giving me exactly what I wanted to read. I wanted to see Voldemort victimized. I wanted to play with angst and trauma and impossible choices. I fully expect to get flamed for this. Heed the tags. Thanks for reading.

Chapter 1: PART I

Chapter Text
 Harry closed the door to the document storage room, tucking the brown folder under his arm. At least he’d found that damn death certificate. Now Robards could get off his back. See, I’m not just an expensive waste of an office. As he walked back towards the lift, he thought about skiving off an hour early. He had to see Ginny tonight and he needed a few hours to lay down on his sofa before he’d be ready to face her. Merlin, dinner. He wasn’t even hungry. Sighing, he pressed the silver button and leaned against the wall, allowing his eyes to close for a moment. A stifled sound coming from the nearby holding cells caught his attention. That area was supposed to be vacant, there weren’t even any guards outside at their station. He pushed off from the wall and absentmindedly dropped his folder onto the desk. Hermione’s voice in his head teased him about his saving people thing, but when he heard what could have been a shout, Harry was instantly following his ravenous curiosity through that heavy metal door.The unmistakable sounds of flesh slapping and rough, muffled voices from the last cell in the line immediately stilled him. Surely, he had the wrong end of it. 
No bloody way. 
He forced his legs to continue and prepared himself to be appalled.The first, and only thought that registered when he saw the scene was: Alive. He was alive. Beyond this impossible, incomprehensible fact, Harry numbly saw three men in the cell with him, crowded around his supine form on the table. One had two white-knuckled hands around his throat, strangling him; one was sitting in a chair watching and stroking himself; and the third was thrusting between his thin, naked legs, leaning forward and twisting his nipples.The last man in the room’s red, agonized eyes caught and held Harry. He was the only one who’d noticed Harry’s entrance and for a moment, the horror of reality disappeared as Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort were reunited for the first time in twelve years. Hatred rushed through Harry, licking awake the adrenaline that clenched his fists and accelerated his heartbeat. With his eyes locked onto Voldemort’s, he was lost momentarily in the memory of this man torturing and taunting him in the graveyard. Killing Snape with his snake. Striking him down in the Forest. He remembered that gloating, inhuman face, always breaking through into his thoughts, warping his reality. Forcing him to experience the Dark Lord’s actions as if they were his own. Harry stared at the helpless, splayed out figure, trying to catch up, to make sense of what he was seeing. Not only was the Dark Lord still alive, but he was being violently raped in the heart of the Ministry of Magic. Before Harry could figure out how he felt about that, Voldemort’s eyes slid closed and he was rendered unconscious from apparent lack of oxygen. The man strangling him didn’t seem to notice. For long moments Harry was caught, contemplating the slender, exposed arc of the man’s throat. The way his face had relaxed, the pained creases between his hairless brows smoothing out. His colourless lips parting.He had never seen the man so vulnerable. 
Do something! 
Harry shook himself.“Oi!” he shouted, ripping his gaze away. All three sets of eyes snapped to him and each man stopped what they were doing, which caused the man strangling the former Dark Lord to release his hold. Voldemort slumped heavily back onto the table and did not move, did not open his eyes. “Is he dead?” Harry asked, but the men were too stunned to answer so Harry opened the cell door and strode forwards to look down at the strange creature that lay before him. Pale-white skin, emaciated, long body, bald, noseless… the Dark Lord Voldemort was alive.Or, maybe dead.How? Why had no one told him? A strip of black cut across the man’s neck and Harry felt a surge of shock go through him at seeing this man— this man— wearing a collar. It was seamless, heavy-looking, and about an inch thick. Harry doubted it was a fashion choice. It looked like the magic-inhibiting bands he’d seen in old Ministry punitive books, but never had they looked this… solid. This menacing. Harry found himself leaning closer, his finger extending to touch. Was it cool like metal or warm with the man’s body heat? Before he could do anything foolish, Harry pulled back. He forced himself to move on, making his eyes travel down from that distracting collar. Voldemort looked dreadful. Naked, Harry could see every broken bone, crushed capillary, and twisting knife wound. Pink, red, and white scars slashed across his skin, some raised and knotted, others flat and smooth. On his left cheek there was a deep, fresh-looking scrape still wet with blood and plasma. Harry paused, arrested by the purple shadows under the nearly transparent, closed eyelids and was hit by how… broken the man suddenly was. To see the infamous Lord Voldemort laid bare and ravaged by three nobodies… 
Indignation and sorrow were not the right emotions for this. Reaching out two fingers, Harry slowly brought them against the man’s fragile neck, careful not to touch that sodding black collar, yet no sign of a pulse pushed against his fingers.“You killed him,” Harry whispered.Before he could name the emotions running through him, one of the men came towards him with an odd smile.  “No, Mr Potter, he’s fine. Give it a minute.” The man just watched the former Dark Lord, not elaborating. Harry looked from him to the seemingly dead man and back, about to protest, but then suddenly— a fierce surge of blood through the vein Harry was touching, a deep gasp, and those red eyes snapped open wide to seize him.Harry gasped too and then felt a flash of shame at the reaction. It wasn’t pure fear, though he was honest enough to admit that being pierced with the eyes of his nemesis did scare him. It was so many things: relief, confusion, the hum of… connection. Of… Harry refused to translate his feelings further. Later, while safely at home, he would berate himself for his weakness, for still being so frustratingly susceptible to the man. For now, he had to figure out what the hell was happening. He tore his eyes away from Voldemort and swept his angry glare across the three men.“What’s going on here? Who are you?”The one who had been seated— and now thankfully had put himself away— answered. “We’re the guards for… well, for You Know Who.”Harry would have snorted if he had been less rattled. They still feared to say his name and yet they had somehow managed to rape and abuse him? “Guards,” Harry said flatly. “Who put you in charge of guarding him?”“Kingsley Shacklebolt,” the man replied. 
Mother fucker. 
Harry met those crimson, haunted eyes one more time. His breath ceased as they stared at each other and everything else fell away. Absurdly, he wanted to apologize, but he stopped himself by remembering that Voldemort surely deserved this. 
Doesn’t he?
He turned away.“Get out of the cell,” Harry spat in disgust. “Leave your prisoner alone. I’m going to speak to the Minister.”  ~*~  Harry’s shoes slammed onto the stone steps just outside of Kingsley’s home. The man had not been in his office, nor anywhere else at the Ministry. One of his secretaries had finally mentioned that he may be at home, so here Harry was, dropping by unannounced, late at night— shit, he had to send a message to Ginny to tell her he was running behind!— but he didn’t care. He knocked, sweat clinging to his shirt under his robes. He counted five seconds and then raised his hand to pound again. He was just about to start shouting when the older man opened the door an inch and, recognizing him, stepped back. “Harry, what—?”But Harry didn’t trust those damn guards. “He’s alive. Why didn’t you tell me? He’s alive.”Catching on fast, Kingsley cursed, his eyes becoming hard, and pulled Harry inside his home. Harry was dragged through the dining room where Kingsley’s shocked wife and children were seated, and then pushed into an office. Harry faced the Minister, shaking with adrenaline. The older man closed the door and met his gaze.“How did you find out?”Harry laughed derisively. “That’s hardly the damn concern, is it? Voldemort is alive! You told me he was executed.”The Minister sighed and seated himself behind his desk. “Sit, Harry.”Harry was breathing heavily and just managed to raise an incredulous eyebrow, ignoring the ridiculous request. Kingsley drummed his fingers on his desk, his face grim. “We tried. We tried everything. The Killing Curse, the Veil, Dementors, burning him alive, drowning him. We tried…” he looked guiltily at Harry, “pulling out all his organs, smashing his heart. Beheading. Poison. Terrible Dark curses. We even tried feeding him to a dragon. And more things in between.”Harry sat. His mind was wiped clean. 
“He can’t be killed, Harry.”Harry took some time to breathe. “What happened? When you… did all those things?” How could anyone recover from any of that?“Magic. His magic. It just seemed to interfere. To put him back together or heal him, or… rip him out of a dragon. Harry, he cannot be killed.”Harry didn’t know what to think. The man he had seen had certainly been beaten. He was weak, powerless, vulnerable… and yet, he could not die. How broken could a man be who could not be threatened with death? What fear could they ever have? 
He finally got his wish to be immortal. 
“It wasn’t just the Horcruxes,” Harry breathed. “No,” Kingsley replied, answering the non-question. “He is more powerful than any wizard I’ve ever known. You saw the collar he wore?”Harry tried to blank his expression. You could say that.“Yes,” Harry replied. “Magic inhibiting? Does it work?”“It seems to be the only thing that does. He can’t access any of his magic with that. No healing at all, unless we try and kill him, then it supersedes the collar and saves him. If he ever somehow manages to break down the enchantments on it, I will be able to render him unconscious so we can repair it, but it’s just a stopgap for emergencies built into the collar— if we are lucky and he is still wearing it. The man will eventually wake and then we’ll be right back to where we were. With nothing.”Harry nodded because he didn’t know what else to say. He was sure that, in the pounding silence that followed, Kingsley, like him, was fretfully musing about a truly immortal, unstoppable Lord Voldemort. Harry sighed. “Why didn’t you tell me, Kingsley?” The older man considered him for a moment. “I suppose I thought you had done enough. You got him to us. No, he’s not defeated, but he’s at least manageable. You don’t need to be involved in this mess anymore.”Harry chuckled darkly at that. Then he laughed, unable to stop. Of bloody course the fucking Dark Lord was back. Harry hadn’t had an easy twelve years, but it had been much less eventful than the prior eighteen. He and Ginny weren’t great, but they were making a go of it. Hermione and Ron were married with two young kids, happy as can be. Harry was an Auror and if he chose to spend most nights drinking alone at home and his weekends alternately pretending to be the Saviour everyone wanted him to be in public or letting himself be fucked by any Muggle man that could offer him some pain to control his panic, then what of it? It was funny, why was Kingsley looking at him like that? Didn’t he see? “Harry, are you alright?”But Harry kept laughing, head thrown back, tears streaming down his cheeks. He distantly heard Kingsley get up and retrieve something. A glass was pressed against his hand where it was clutching painfully onto his leg. Harry could smell the alcohol, but he pushed it away, he was choking, he couldn’t breathe—“Harry,” Kingsley said with concern, coming to kneel beside Harry’s chair. Harry leaned forwards, putting his head between his legs, and assuming the position he’d become so used to over the last decade. He closed his eyes, heart slamming against his ribs, as his vision began to narrow and darken. 
Breathe. So Voldemort is back. That’s fine. No worries. He’s locked up and he can’t hurt anyone. You have to calm down. Get your shit together. Breathe. Breathe. 

This was bad. Kingsley was not supposed to see this. He had to act normal or the Minister would tell Robards and he would be kicked out of the Aurors. Then Ginny would leave him again. Fuck fuck fuck. Okay. He was fine. It was already getting better. Okay. Harry slowly sat up, opening his eyes and, when the world didn’t start to tilt, he took another deep breath. He wiped his face. Nope, too wet. Lifting the material at the neck of his robes, he cleaned himself off. Right. Now on to damage control. “I’m sorry, sir,” Harry whispered. “I don’t know what came over me.”Kingsley was kneeling right beside him, his face full of concern. “This is a lot to take in. Forgive me, I should have known you would be affected like this. You more than anyone know the danger here. You must be scared.”Scared? That wasn’t even in the top five. “I’m okay. I feel like a fool.”Kingsley picked up the glass of Firewhisky and placed it into Harry’s hand. “Don’t be so hard on yourself. Though I do want you to take tomorrow off work. Come to my office in the morning and we can talk some more.”Harry looked down at the alcohol and then necked it back in one. “Okay, sir.”“Enough, Harry. Call me Kingsley. It unnerves me when you start calling me sir.”Harry chuckled, but quickly reined it in lest it spiral out of control again. He stood up and placed the empty glass onto the desk. “Sorry for interrupting your dinner,” Harry said, meeting the man’s eyes. “Let’s talk some more tomorrow.” “Don’t worry about it. I’ll see you later.”Harry started to walk towards the door, but paused before he opened it. He turned to face the Minister. “I’m not happy to have been kept in the dark about this, Kingsley.”The older man, nodded. “I know.”Harry held his gaze for a few moments and then took his leave.   ~*~  “Ginny, I am so sorry.”Harry was at some restaurant, holding his fiancée’s hand as she looked away. He focused on behaving like he was remorseful, and he was, yet all he wanted to do was be back at the Ministry. Were the guards still hurting Voldemort? Had he recognized Harry? What was the man thinking?“You work too much,” Ginny groused, pulling her hand back. She turned her head to look down at Harry, who was almost laying across the table, trying to grab back her hand. “You need to learn how to say no to people.”Harry was nodding. Voldemort probably said no constantly, for all the good it did him. “I know, I’m sorry—”“Harry, come on! You have to fight for the people that matter to you!” 
Does Voldemort matter to me? Am I setting myself up to save the bastard? 
“Tell Robards that you want a normal nine to five like everyone else,” she said, the exasperation clear in her voice.“I know, I’m sorry,” Harry muttered, knowing it was better to just crawl for a bit until her anger died down. What was she even still doing with him? She deserved so much better.   ~*~  He’d tried. He really had. He’d gone home after dinner with Ginny and put on his pyjamas, the whole process. Brushed his teeth. He’d even laid in bed, unmoving, with the lights out.But those sinister red eyes had found him. And, like a jolt of electricity, they’d gotten him up and brought him to the door. He’d managed to pull on his cloak swiftly before the wood slammed behind him and he’d Apparated to the Ministry.Harry peered around himself, finding the deserted halls somewhat ominous. Luckily, he was Harry Potter and therefore had no trouble getting through security at this hour. With no intended prisoners in the cells he was trying to access, there would hopefully be no one in the area. 
Except those guards.  
Harry didn’t know how he would react if they were still… occupied. Voldemort deserved punishment, he knew that. He was evil. The man had killed Harry’s parents— killed his own father and grandparents!— had lead a Totalitarian government that subjugated Muggle-borns, he had murdered innocent people, tortured and abused his own followers, slaughtered Muggles indifferently, and had even hired two vicious Death Eaters to torture children at Hogwarts. He deserved to suffer. Harry knew. But he still couldn’t keep away. It wasn’t like he wanted to rescue the man. He didn’t really want anything in particular. It was just that it had been twelve long years of feeling nothing. Of his magic being dangerously off-balance. Of pretending. He’d tried to confide in his friends, but they just kept telling him to give it more time. Like it was normal to feel wrong for over a decade. And then in one horrifying, enlightening moment when their eyes had connected— Harry had felt. It wasn’t hate and it certainly wasn’t love, but it was something, which was a whole lot better than the nothing he’d been treading water in for years. Part of him wanted to punish the man, sure. Wanted to join in with those guards and throttle him, give him a few more rippling scars. But seeing what he had been reduced to, watching him be raped, brutalized, and rendered completely powerless, which was something Harry thought he’d never see… Well, it all felt a bit redundant. He was already suffering, clearly. And no, he couldn’t die, but didn’t that just make the whole thing worse? There was no escape for him. He could live in pain forever, which was a concept Harry couldn’t even conceive. Pain had to have an ending. Either you got better or you didn’t. But if you couldn’t die nor escape to heal, you just… kept suffering. And if Voldemort was truly immortal… Harry approached the door to the cells and saw one of the guards reading a book of some sort. Harry nodded, intending to walk past him, but the guard sat up straighter and spoke. “You’re not allowed to go in there, Mr Potter.”Harry stopped in front of his desk and looked down at him. “I’m not asking,” Harry said coldly. As much as he thought Voldemort might deserve his treatment, he still felt resentment towards the guards. Who were they to deliver punishment? If anyone had that right, it was Harry. “I’ll have to tell the Minister, I’m sorry.”Harry tapped the desk with his fingers as he walked away and opened the door towards the cells. “You do that.”He strode down the corridor and paused when he reached his destination. The cell was empty. The table was clear, the rickety cot unoccupied, and so he crouched down and peered underneath it.There lay Lord Voldemort; naked, curled up, and apparently sleeping. Shivering. Merlin. Lord Voldemort was cowering under his bed.Harry didn’t want to disturb the man, but he’d come all this way, after all. He stood and pushed open the door. The grating of metal on metal instantly shocked Voldemort awake and he pushed back against the ground, scooting further towards the wall. Harry lost sight of him. “Hey, it’s okay.” Shutting the door, he crouched down again.A vivid red stare met his and Harry’s muscles cramped in shock. The light in the cell was low and it was shadowed under the cot, which made Voldemort look like the monster Harry had always feared lived under the camp bed in the cupboard where he’d slept as a child. With fingers like long, pale spiders as well. Maybe he had just been picturing Lord Voldemort.“I won’t hurt you,” Harry said, though knowing how very powerful the Dark Lord was, it was difficult to imagine that he could. “Do you know who I am?” Harry lowered himself to the dirty ground to get more comfortable. It suddenly occurred to him that he should be cautious. This was the man who had called Cedric a spare and then ended him without a thought. Perhaps he had only been pretending to be overpowered by those guards to gain Harry’s sympathy. If so, it had worked.After a while, Harry gave up expecting the man to talk— but then, that familiar high, cold susurration broke the silence.“I have not been Obliviated, Potter.”That voice!It had been twelve years since he had heard it, the last time being when the man had uttered that fateful curse, knocking them both unconscious. The sound of it now raised the hairs on his arms. Shaking himself, he wiped his palms on his trouser legs.“Sorry,” Harry muttered. “I’m glad to hear that.” Christ, what to say now? He hadn’t actually made a plan. He just knew he had to see him again. “I… I thought you were dead.”Silence. Harry continued. “Are you okay?” 
Ugh, stupid question.  
“I mean, you’re obviously not okay, I saw what they were doing to you….” 
Great, remind him of his humiliation. 
“I’m sorry. Look, there’s no way what they’re doing is legal. I’m going to talk to Kingsley tomorrow. Or, huh. Today, I guess. I’ll sort this out.”Harry bent down, trying to read the man’s expression in the shadows, but he couldn’t see a damn thing. “Can I cast a Lumos?” Silence, and then that icy voice spoke once more. “I would rather you did not, but obviously I cannot stop you.”Harry considered that. “Can you come out then, so we can talk?”“We are managing to talk as we are.”Harry pursed his lips and frowned. So. He could cast Lumos and upset the other man or he could just trudge on.“I know why you are here,” Voldemort said abruptly, and Harry froze. “You do?” 
“Yes. They have failed to kill me. They now bring you, backed by the prophecy.”“You think I’m here to kill you?” A pause. “Yes.”Harry tilted his head. “Would it work?”Silence. Harry got onto his knees and elbows, resting his cheek against his arms. “I can’t see you,” Harry complained, just able to make out the moisture reflecting off those freaky eyes. “I want to see you. I need to understand.”He slowly tilted his body and rolled over onto his side. He took a startled moment to acknowledge that he was willingly laying on the floor, facing the menacing Dark Lord Voldemort. “I didn’t know you were alive,” Harry whispered. “They told me they killed you, years ago. I wouldn’t have allowed… this. This is wrong.” Silence, and then a cold, quiet voice breathed, “Understand.”Harry frowned. “Huh?”“Your word. You need to understand.”“Oh.” Was he really going to open up to the Dark Lord? Why would Voldemort want to hear this? Harry wrapped his arms around his chest and answered in a whisper, his eyes closed. “Things have been difficult for me. I have felt… wrong for the twelve years that you’ve been gone. It’s like I’m pretending to be Harry Potter and all the things I used to care about just don’t matter to me anymore.” Harry breathed for a few seconds, slowly, trying to calm himself. It was easier than he’d thought to speak those words. Maybe that was because his audience had no one to tell. Had no stakes in Harry’s success or failure. The Dark Lord wouldn’t give a shit that Harry was a fraud. Harry pulled on his arm hair, focusing on the sting.  “I hate you. I know I have to hate you. You’re evil and you deserve to suffer.” He opened his eyes. “You would have happily tortured me like they are torturing you. You would have done worse.”“There is not worse.”Harry snapped his mouth shut and stared into the darkness. “Please,” Harry said, clenching his fists. “Talk to me. I don’t know why, but for some fucked up reason I feel something again. Is that you? Have you done something to me? Some curse or spell or—”“I can do nothing anymore. They have taken…”Voldemort trailed off and Harry waited. “Your magic,” he finished, when the other man remained silent. “Yeah. It’s that collar, I’m sure you know. It’s not gone, just… locked away, I suppose.” Harry stared into the darkness. “Look— can I kill you? Do you want to die? This whole situation seems like worse than hell and if you’re immortal, you’re likely going to suffer for… Well, forever. You can’t want that.” Silence, and then Voldemort whispered, “I do not wish to die.”Harry felt a clench in his chest and he nodded solemnly. “Okay, then. I won’t ask about that anymore. Just so you know, I never wanted to kill you. I brought you to the Ministry so you could serve a sentence like Grindelwald did. I never wanted you dead.” Harry paused and remembered that little boy at the orphanage who had learned that power over others was better than them having power over him. The baby who had been unwanted at birth, superfluous and ignored during childhood, and even at school, as a half-blooded nobody in a house of pure-blooded brats, he had always been set apart. Different. At first because he’d been deemed worthless and later because he’d been believed superior. You either embraced that otherness, or bowed to it, and Lord Voldemort bowed for no one.  “Dumbledore showed me some memories of you as a child,” Harry whispered, compelled to confess as he stared into the darkness. “At the orphanage. Then as a young man. He… mocked me for feeling bad for you. Because I did. Feel bad.”Harry tightened his arms around himself. The cell was cold. He wondered if what he was saying offended the Dark Lord, musing on the man’s past, but he pressed on. “It’s not pity,” Harry said, needing Voldemort to understand. “He wanted me to learn about what drove you, what you valued so I could hunt your Horcruxes.”Harry shot a guilty look into the shadows. It wasn’t that he regretted killing all those pieces of Voldemort’s soul. It had needed to be done. But he didn’t want to rub it in the man’s face as he hid under a cot. In his prison cell. “But he messed up,” Harry went on, voice still quiet. “He showed me how, at the orphanage, you had grown up in an environment where you had to… weigh your worth against your peers as a means to survive. It’s no surprise that you’d found it so important to be the very best, to stand out. To long to prove yourself.” He felt a smile tug at his lips. “And to hate Muggles, I guess.”He waited for Voldemort to react to his blasphemously audacious attempt to understand him, but nothing came. He resumed. “Dumbledore showed me the memory of when you two first met and he immediately vilified you— an eleven year old, because you’d taken a few toys to make your life a little less bleak. How your first introduction to magic had been him setting everything you had in the whole world on fire.”Harry felt guilty for bringing that up. That had to suck. His feelings towards Dumbledore were complicated. Harry didn’t blame the Headmaster at all for what he had done to him personally, but what about how he’d treated Snape? Tom? His own siblings? He bit his lip, tasting blood, which calmed his pulse.“I saw how your mother…” Harry hesitated. How much should he admit to knowing? Incurably reckless, he continued. “How she… chose to die instead of living for you. That one hit me hardest.”Harry took a breath and peered into the shadows, trying to gauge how his words were affecting the other man, but he could see nothing. He had never shared with Ron or Hermione how these memories had tortured him because he had been ashamed. He absently picked up a small piece of debris off of the floor. It looked like a rock or a part of the concrete wall. Pushing it up under his nail hurt and it worked as a minor distraction.He kept talking. “He showed me how, even as a baby, you’d known that crying wouldn’t help you and so you stopped. How all the adults in your life had feared your magic. They’d thought you were a little demon. A freak.” That word hurt. Merlin, was he still talking about Voldemort?“No one had ever protected you or… showed you loyalty. Affection. Not like how Bellatrix falls over for you, that creepy bitch. But just… devotion that is uncomplicated. Unconditional. He showed me how you’d been set up to fail from the very start.”Harry cautiously paused, expecting an outburst at that. To dare say that the man had failed in any capacity was surely too much for him to bear— yet still, no arguments were made. Harry rolled onto his back. Merlin, laying on the floor in the middle of the night with the Dark Lord sure made him introspective. And chatty. It felt good to relieve himself of the burden of these thoughts that had haunted him since delivering Voldemort to the Ministry all those years ago. “It changed everything for me,” Harry whispered, his voice barely audible, even to his own ears. “He’d meant to show me a monster, doomed at birth, but instead he’d showed me… complexities.”
You’ve come this far, just say it. 
“Familiarities.” Harry laughed, staring up at the ceiling.“He’s the reason why I couldn’t kill you. Which is the opposite of what he had intended, I assure you. Like I said, he chastised me about my sympathy for you. But… For what it’s worth… I get it. I’ve been there.”Harry knew what it was like to grow up invisible. Feared. Despised. The difference between them was that Harry had developed gratitude for the smallest kindness and Voldemort had grown to despise ever having wanted it. Harry sighed, turning over and facing the other man again. “How’re you doing?” Harry’s mouth curved into a disbelieving grin. He must be out of his fucking mind— smiling around the Dark Lord. Feeling anything but hatred. Silence lay between them, but it was somehow not tense. He was only able to make out the man’s outline under his cot and the glint of his eyes. Harry sat up, stretching out his cramped muscles. Time to leave. “Anyways, I should—”“You have not yet clarified what you needed to understand,” Voldemort interrupted, his voice even and unaffected. “You said you were feeling unwell and now you are not. Explain.”Harry exhaled a long breath and rubbed his eyes. This was so bizarre. They were having an actual conversation. “I guess, ever since you killed me…” Harry began, his mind going back, remembering walking into the forest and surrendering to the terrifying, inhuman form all alone. “Or, you know, not killed me but your Horcrux in me, I’ve just—” There was a sudden loud thumping noise from under the cot, like the man had slammed his head on the metal frame. Harry paused. “You okay?”Silence met his question and he waited, considering moving closer.“Hey, are you alright? Just say something.” No answer. Harry slid forward, moving into the shadows that blocked him. Lord Voldemort was laying naked with his back pressed against the wall, his skeletal arms wrapped around his thin chest, and that bleeding collar gleaming in the low light. The man looked floored, terrified. His sunken red eyes were wide, his mouth slightly parted. “Hey,” Harry said, daring to reach out a hand towards him, but not quite brave enough to make contact. “Are you okay? What’s happening?”Harry tried to figure out what was wrong. Was it something he’d said? He’d babbled a lot and yet it wasn’t until he’d mentioned their last encounter, the—Understanding left him breathless. “You didn’t know about the Horcrux,” Harry whispered. “Of course you didn’t, how could you.” Voldemort was slowly getting his expression under control. He pressed his lips together and closed his eyes, a deep frown overtaking his face.“Yeah,” Harry said. “That was my reaction too. When I came to you in the forest, I was prepared to die, to kill the piece of your soul in me. And I did, it worked. I can’t speak Parseltongue anymore and I sure as hell have not been getting twelve year’s worth of nightmares from you in here.”Voldemort kept his eyes clamped tightly shut, his breathing deep and measured. “There was so much you didn’t know, Voldemort,” Harry said quietly into the silence, unable to stop himself. He didn’t even mean to taunt the man, it was just a statement of fact. “Just like me. We fought a war against each other and neither of us knew a damn thing.”

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