I realised I never gave Undersecretary Gaunt a first name, and I do not think he would have used Tom or Marvolo or a variation of these. So, he is now: Cadmus Gaunt, named for his ancestor Cadmus Peverell.

There will be some time skips coming up, and as a result some of the interactions might not seem as realistic as they would if I spent 10-15 chapters evolving the relationships, but I'll do my best to avoid anything to OTT or OOC from happening in any event. Fanfiction, served with a pinch of salt and some rose tinted glasses, am I right?

Chapter warnings: At the bottom in case you want to check them first.

Words: 6,800

Chapter 12

3 August 1995. Godric's Hollow.

Time passed slowly.

It had only been 2 days since Lord Voldemort had discovered that his true mate was Harry Potter, and not Tarrant, and yet it felt like an eternity had passed him by at a snail's pace. The Dark Lord did not receive Harry in his dreams during those nights, not since the boy had looked at him in horror and disgust as Peter was tortured: he had wrenched himself out of Voldemort's mind with a gasp and silence had engulfed the space where he had stood before. Severus had cautioned patience, advising the Dark Lord against rushing forward without care, about pressuring the boy into accepting his suit and for once the Dark Lord listened. He had done enough to send Harry running in to the opposite direction (Merlin the boy used to hunch his shoulders almost to his ears whenever Undersecretary Gaunt touched him, how Harry must despise him). He swore he would do his best to give Harry no further reasons to regret their bond.

Voldemort touched the slightly pointed tip of one ear, softly stroking his index finger along the curve as he thought about how life might be different if he had been purely human. He would have had no mate, no need for a mate. He would be free of this burden – but did he want to be, he wondered. He thought of Harry's eyes, green and bright and narrowed in suspicion, and his lips bitten red and plump so that he wouldn't say all of the terrible things he was thinking, his cheeks flushed from the cold and wind during a Quidditch match, his laugh on the handful of occasions Lord Voldemort had managed to startle him enough to show his amusement, how he smelt and felt and looked and sounded and-

Yes, it would be worth it. It was worth it, Lord Voldemort conceded, hands moving to lie along the arm rests, fingers tapping restlessly along the wood. Nagini curled at his feet, silent and still; a family shape to keep him company in the darkness of his bedroom.

A dream had woken him, and he had gotten as far as dressing himself before remembering he had promised Severus he would not startle or frighten the Potters. Apparating to their home at 5am without warning would surely frighten them, he had thought to himself, removing his cloak and throwing himself quite ungracefully into his favourite reading chair. Using every ounce of self-control he possessed, he had kept himself in that chair until 11am; he read for a while, then completed some paperwork from the Ministry, had a look over the mission reports his followers had provided him relating to not so legal activities that no one at the Ministry needed to know about, and then closed his eyes to relive his dream until it was a reasonable time to ring someone's doorbell uninvited.

The dream was not really Harry, but it was the Harry that Voldemort used to dream about when the boy was still a boy. Twins, dressed in matching red dungarees and yellow shirts, waited for him at the edge of a forest that stretched on for miles and miles and yet grew pink and fuzzy around the edges when Lord Voldemort glanced at anywhere but the twins. Their eyes were blindfolded, eye colour hidden like always, and Lord Voldemort glanced back and forth between them both trying to pick out the differences – like a muggle game, he noted one's lips were a tad redder than the other one, one's hair looked thicker and heavier sitting nearly atop his head while the other had hair sticking up like a he has just taken a very long nap (Voldemort desperately wanted to run his fingers through it and check if it felt as soft as it looked), one was a little broader on the shoulders, a little taller, yet a little less than the other. Lord Voldemort took two unhurried steps towards the other twin, the twin that he knew was his. Harry took seven fumbling steps back and ended up sprawled across the ground, legs spread invitingly and mouth open in shock. Voldemort accepted the invitation gratefully, moving to kneel between his spread thighs.

The path which wove around them and through the forest began to disappear, brick by brick swept into obscurity until it was just Voldemort and Harry (still blindfolded). Voldemort's left hand reaching up to remove the blindfold, but before he could remove it an evenly tanned hand grabbed his own, pulling until Voldemort sat up properly to look over his should. Now that he had noticed the subtle differences between the twins they were easy to spot: Voldemort's eyes narrowed as he gazed at his twin standing behind him – a moment ago the other had been between his thighs but now when the Dark Lord looked down the boy was taller, broader, paler, his hair less tousled, his lips too pink, and when the boy pulled off his own blindfold his eyes were not green enough. From behind him, Harry said: "you should have known he wasn't me" and Lord Voldemort had woken up.

The adrenaline from the dream had forced him out of the bed without rational thought, the fear that Harry would be taken from or lost to him in the days that had passed since his birthday had him rushing to dress and robe himself, shoes on and hair hurriedly combed before Nagini's sleeping hissing had stopped him in his tracked. "Where are you going?" She had asked. "It's early," she had added and the Dark Lord had forced himself to calm and be reasonable, to be smart. He had promised not to frighten Harry or his parents, and a dream which had (though he would never admit it) frightened him was not a good excuse to break his promise. So he sat in his chair, and he waited, and now – now it was time to see his mate.

XXX

The door slammed shut in his face and instead of rage, as he would have expected, the Dark Lord felt amused, hopelessly fond of his mate who like a simpleton yelled, "no one's home!" as if Lord Voldemort had not just seen him - as if anyone could possibly believe that childish lie. He could have teased, he could have cajoled, but he could feel Harry's panic through their bond and he tried instead to send back gentle emotions, tried to calm his mate and make him understand that this was a joyous occasion, that this was good, but Harry's panic only increased. The Dark Lord heard footsteps on the other side of the door, even as he laughed out loud at Harry's words and actions almost drowning out the noise the Dark Lord still heard the movement. He calmed himself, fixed his facial expression into a mock polite smile, false and aching – nothing like the smile he had greeted Harry with – and he allowed the corners of his eyes to crinkle as the door swung open again to reveal James Potter with his wand in hand.

"There's no need for that, Lord Potter," Lord Voldemort assured, hands at his sides with palms up (Potter did not need to know that the Dark Lord could kill him as easily with wandless magic as with his wand; it would not set a productive tone for this meeting if Voldemort informed him of his folly or punished him for daring to threaten He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named). Wide green eyes staring at him from behind the father's back stayed his hand as readily as a Petrificus Totalus . The Dark Lord allowed the corners of his mouth to tick up a little at each end, trying to reassure his mate that he had only friendly intentions (unlike the last time he had visited Godric's Hollow 14 years ago).

"Undersecretary Gaunt," James said slowly, looking over Voldemort's shoulder as if waiting for a second visitor, "what can I do for you?"

Voldemort's eyes narrowed – surely Potter knew who he was, surely Dumbledore would have told him? Or perhaps Potter had been told but didn't believe it: Lord Voldemort had gone to great pains to hide his true identity and weave a believable background supported by fraudulently obtained school and work records of ? Maybe he knew, Voldemort thought almost furiously, and hoped if he pretended not to know he too could slam the door shut in Lord Voldemort's face. "Dad," Harry almost whispered, "that's Voldemort."

James' eyes nearly popped out of his head, they grew so wide. He glanced over his shoulder at his son, back at Voldemort, back at Harry, looking almost dizzy at the motion. "Albus was right," James muttered under his breath. Lord Voldemort heard him and had to force himself not to react: fools, the lot of them, he thought uncharitably. "Uh, come in then, I guess? We weren't expecting you until tomorrow, Snape said that, uh, you wanted to speak to us, uh, tomorrow?"

He stepped out of the doorframe and allowed the Dark Lord into his home. Voldemort nodded gracefully at him in thanks as he passed, and made his way directly to where Harry was slowly inching his way backwards down the hallway (reminiscent of the dream only Harry didn't trip and land wantonly on the ground, ready and willing to be ravished, nor did Harry disappear only to be replaced by Tarrant). Lily appeared from the kitchen. "Who's at the door?" she asked causing enough of a distraction for Harry to slip past her and close the kitchen door behind him. The Dark Lord snorted, almost embarrassed at himself for making that noise, and he covered his mouth and smile with his left hand while both parents looked at one another and shrugged helplessly. "He's angry with us currently," Lily explained tiredly. She looked completely unsurprised and unconcerned to see a Dark Lord in her home (unlike her husband who had lowered his wand but gripped it with white knuckled shaking fingers at his side). "You'll have to make some allowances for Harry, I'm afraid, this has come as rather a large shock to him."

"Of course," Lord Voldemort magnanimously agreed. "Anything for Harry."

Lily's mouth curved up into a soft smile, recognising the sincerity behind the words – he might not keep his promise but in that particular moment the Dark Lord intended to. She opened the kitchen door and invited him through before her.

At the table, Harry sat stiffly, clutching a mug between his hands. He did a good job of pretending to read the future in the drifting debris left behind by his tea bag, but what he was actually thinking about was the "anything" Lord Voldemort had said. Anything for me, Harry thought wistfully. The Dark Lord would raze the world to make me happy, Harry remembered Lucius saying two nights ago. He thought again of the fantasy he had had of Undersecretary Gaunt voting in the Wizengamot to stop people from calling his mother a Mudblood. He thought of his future, one at the side of a Dark Lord or one at the side of a politician – who would he prefer to be with, who did he want to be? Harry had promised Lucius that he would hear the Dark Lord out, and if Voldemort could promise 'anything' Harry could promise to try. Harry swallowed the last mouthful of his tea and slowly set the mug down, just as his father joined them at the table: Lily and Voldemort had already taken their seat and mum's magic was whirling mugs and saucers through the air while the kettle whistled by the stove.

"Undersecretary Gaunt," Harry greeted without hesitation, raising his head to meet the Dark Lord's gaze dead on. Do not blink, Harry thought, do not show weakness. "Welcome to our home, how may we be of assistance to you today?"

XXX

16 August 1995. Malfoy Manor.

Draco and Harry's betrothal was formally terminated at 17:00 just before the Ministry closed on 8 August 1995. In its place, slipped into the Department of Family Affairs by one of Lord Voldemort's followers under a disillusionment charm in the middle of the night, was the official betrothal contract signed by Tom Marvolo Riddle and Lily and James Potter on behalf of their son.

No one would see the contract as no one could know that Cadmus Gaunt was really Tom Marvolo Riddle, but to sign it under a fake name would mean that their relationship would never be considered official or recognised and Voldemort would not wish any dishonour upon his mate. Their marriage would be legal, once it finally happened, and any children they would have would be legitimate. The Dark Lord had plans (honestly he had 100s of plans, rotating through them at different times of different days, trying to fine tune the best ones to perfection) that would eventually mean there was no need to hide his name within the bowels of the Ministry, no need to hide his relationship with Harry (once they actually had one) – one day he hoped for the world to know that Lord Voldemort owned Harry Potter heart, body and soul but for now secrecy was paramount. The betrothal contract was slipped onto a shelf without anyone noticing, and a small article was published in the society pages of the Daily Prophet first thing that morning announcing Draco Malfoy's betrothal to Astoria Greengrass. (At the very bottom of the newspaper page in tiny writing, it read: "***the Malfoy and Potter families remain on good terms and this reporter could not verify any rumours that Harry Potter was planning a suicide-murder revenge plot despite several anonymous letters received last night stating otherwise…" - Severus just knew Tarrant had something to do with that rumour). Two short sentences on the second page of the society section announced the accidental death of Peter Pettigrew, employee of the Daily Prophet, and his closed casket funeral on the 10th.

There was no announcement for Harry's new contract, no party, no socialites gossiping and pretending to wish him well. Most of the Death Eaters were not even privy to the news either. The Inner Circle sat around the long dining table in the Malfoy's ballroom and gossiped almost as much as the witches who read Gladrags and frequented Madame Pudifoot's café did. Lucius did not bother to hide his eyeroll as one of them started talking about the possible colours for wedding robes and another interrupted to wonder rather loudly what kind of wedding cake the Dark Lord would have. Honestly, he would have been better off visiting Narcissa's garrulous book-club friends with her for the afternoon (if only the Dark Lord had not specifically requested his presence before he could make himself scarce).

Draco was with Harry for the day – their parents had thought it best to ensure the public believed them to be the best of friends (they were but public opinion was everything nowadays and rumours were already running rampant). Lucius had been hesitant when he heard what Harry was actually planning to do that day but short of forbidding Draco to see Harry, which was the opposite of what the families wanted to happen, he could not stop Harry from flooing to Alastor Moody's home and taking Draco with him. Elphaba (Harry's boa constrictor) had been carefully introduced to Nagini last night and had then refused to go home: apparently she was sizing up the competition and making sure Nagini could be trusted around her master – Harry said Elphaba just had a crush but was in denial. Voldemort said nothing but the smirk that curved his lips up every now and then when the hissed conversation got particularly volatile led Lucius to believe that Harry was correct. When the Dark Lord had arrived at Malfoy Manor that morning he had two snakes trailing along behind him like wriggling shadows. He did not ask where Harry was but Lucius had informed his Lord anyway. "Good," Voldemort had replied quietly. "Harry had promised to keep him out of the way," the Dark Lord explained when Lucius' eyebrows furrowed together and Severus turned in his chair to face the Dark Lord, the judgmental scowl almost impossible to hide.

Voldemort noticed the scowl and allowed amusement to cover him, almost seeping out of every pore, the emotion blatant across his face and in his body language, and the Legilemens that Severus was felt it like a punch in the gut when the Dark Lord met his eyes. "There are more reasonable members of the Order to treat with after all," Lord Voldemort noted, still amused, but no longer forcing the emotion onto his follower-friend-acquaintance?

They discussed several matters of importance, missions the Dark Lord had sent some on, tasks he had entrusted to others, Barty's booklist for the upcoming Hogwarts term and NEWT level students (the Dark Arts syllabus needed the approval of Undersecretary Gaunt after all), who the new Defence professor would be – the last was taking a research sabbatical and once again the Board of Governor's had rejected Lily Potter's petition to be considered for a placement other than Muggle Studies professor. Antonin Dolohov, a Death Eater who worked in the Department of Mysteries, had put his name and CV forward, but during that meeting he confirmed that he had yet to hear back from the Board. Lucius was no wiser, despite being one of the members. Voldemort wondered briefly if Dumbledore was doing something to undermine his plans for Hogwarts and then brushed the thought away, because of course Dumbledore was – Dumbledore had always been suspicious of him and pretending to be his own illegitimate son had not changed a habit of a lifetime. Only Dumbledore believed that Cadmus Gaunt was not what he portrayed himself to be, well Dumbledore and Harry but Lord Voldemort could hardly have expected to hide himself from his soulmate forever. Not even the members of his precious Order had believed him, according to Severus, and James Potter Head Auror himself had seemed bowled over when Harry had announced his true identity. A vow of secrecy took care of that before Lord Voldemort left Godric's Hollow. The negotiation had gone well, in his opinion, Harry had been reasonable and open to the possibility of a long term relationship in the future; his mother had been exactly what Voldemort had hoped for all Mudbloods to be, poised and gentile but with a spine of steel, knowing when to interrupt and when to agree, towing the line between respectful and ready to kill him with a fork if Harry so much as flinched, not an inch of her was unfit for their world; James Potter raised as a Pureblood Heir but left to run wild for much of his teenage years was all of a sudden serious and steadfast, he read every line of the contract three times, double checked each word for hidden meanings, met each of Voldemort's demands with one of his own and somehow made the Dark Lord concede several more unreasonable (to the Potters) requests.

The only request Lord Voldemort refused to concede was the one where James and Lily Potter would bring him and some of his followers to the Order of the Phoenix headquarters and parle on his behalf. He had approached Dumbledore, through letters, about the possibility of arranging a meeting to bring a complete end to the war in return for Tarrant Potter who had wanted to be a Death Eater anyway; Lord Voldemort had little to lose and a lot to gain by making demands and crushing any resistance beneath his heel as he took Tarrant and betrayed them all.

But now, now Dumbledore knew it was Harry, had known it was Harry all along and he had made his own plans – Voldemort could parle but stick to the terms of the Treaty and the Light side would raise no hand or wand when he came to take Harry away, but that was not the way to keep Harry with him. Severus had made that clear when Voldemort had summoned him after returning from Godric's Hollow and boldly declared that James Potter could take his requests and shove them in several unpleasant places because Lord Voldemort would take his mate even if he had to drag him screaming through the streets. In hindsight, it was not the best plan Lord Voldemort had ever thought up and Severus' overexaggerated sigh of disappointment was well deserved. Harry would most certainly have had a problem with that plan and if he didn't hate the Dark Lord now, he certainly would if Voldemort kidnapped and held him hostage.

So instead, the Dark Lord would do this properly, carefully. Harry's parents had already signed the betrothal contract, so until Harry turned 17 he was legally bound to honour that contract – including maintaining regularly correspondence and visits with his potential spouse, no intimate contact with another party, and no action or inaction that would cause the other injury, death or incarceration. Harry could not tell anyone who did not already know of Lord Voldemort's true identity, he was required to send 3 letters a week, and visit at least once a month in person during school term (during the holidays this was amended to every Sunday) but never overnight unless there was an appropriate chaperone present. The Order could not force Harry to breach the terms of the contract without losing his magic as a consequence and Harry could not terminate the contract without the agreement of all of the signing parties (and Voldemort would never, ever agree to let Harry go). Any concession Voldemort made in respect of the [cold] war was over and above anything he needed to do to claim Harry as his mate, though he recognised that taking pains to be civil and civilised would go further to convincing Harry to stay with him than letters and supervised visits every could.

Harry had agreed to keep Moody busy that day and Voldemort had agreed to leave Bellatrix and the Lestranges behind, each side's least level-headed members. A handful of Voldemort's most trusted rose silently from their seats as the Dark Lord did at the end of the meeting. The Order headquarters were still under the Fidelius Charm but the Potters had… happily offered up the use of Potter Manor for the duration of the peace talks. Lord Voldemort had not wanted to disclose his continued use of Riddle Manor nor the Azkaban escapees hidden inside, nor had he wanted to risk any of the influential followers who had managed to stay out of Azkaban by appropriating their homes for the meetings. But the Potters were well known Light magic users, open supporters of Dumbledore and members of the Order; using their ancestral home would not put any of them at risk from the Ministry if these negotiations went south.

"Tom," Dumbledore greeted him warmly when they apparated en masse onto the greenery that bordered the edge of the Potter property. He held his arms out in front of him, half welcoming the Death Eaters towards him and half – almost – like he was going to hug Lord Voldemort.

The Dark Lord's lips curled down, his red eyes narrowed, and a forked tongue slipped passed where his lips would have been if he had any. Unnaturally long, pale fingers formed fists at his side as he strode briskly by Dumbledore without a greeting. "James," the voice said, high and chilling, like the sound of nails on a blackboard, "I thank you for welcoming us into your home."

"Uh," James Potter attempted to say, running one hand through his hair as the other came forward to offer a handshake. He seemed almost struck dumb by the sight of the Lord Voldemort he had expected to see on his doorstep earlier that week, the way the Dark Lord had looked before his defeat in 1981, body twisted and malformed from delving deeper into the Dark Arts than anyone before him had dared. He looked nothing at all like the handsome Cadmus Gaunt. James briefly wondered how the hell Harry had managed to guess his real identity when they looked so very different, but then Lily was at his side, hand replacing James' own in Voldemort's hold (and when did Voldemort actually shake his hand? James had completely zoned out during the rest of their greeting and had no idea what he had actually said).

"The pleasure is all ours," Lily told him, almost honestly, as Lord Voldemort kissed the back of her hand softly. Behind them, standing with most of the Order members still living (and functional), Sirius Black snorted inelegantly. There was Remus Lupin, Nymphandora Tonks (also an Auror and a member of the infamous Black family, un-disowned once Sirius formally claimed the title of Lord Black after his grandfather's passing), another Auror Shacklebolt someone, the adult Weasleys including their two oldest sons, and Severus Snape.

The Death Eaters who filed passed them and into the house kept their masks on, and though Dumbledore made one request for them to be removed in the spirit of taking these negotiations seriously and displaying trust in one another not one Death Eater moved until the Dark Lord nodded his agreement. Even then, of the five who had accompanied him, only two removed their masks – the two whose Dark Marks had been activated windlessly when Lord Voldemort had nodded, giving the impression that he controlled these men without words and actions, with only his thoughts because their loyalty ran so deep, their conviction so strong that they simply knew what their Lord required of them. Severus had to force himself to appear relaxed even though he wanted to disappear from the second-hand embarrassment he felt when half of the Order audibly gasped as Lucius Malfoy was revealed. Honestly, who actually believed Malfoy when he said he was under the Imperius? No one. Other than those whose pockets he lined to look the other way. Draco's friendship and betrothal to Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, had kept most eyes turned away from him in the interim years even after their Lord returned for who would believed a loyal Death Eater would marry his son to his Lord's enemy? But Severus had expected that people who spent most of their time with Albus Dumbledore would have at least guessed that Lucius continued to believe in the Dark Lord's cause; he was ashamed to be seated on this side of the table, even as the other Death Eaters opposite him snickered meanly. Arthur Weasley looked like he was having a heart attack merely from being vindicated but Bill was half over the table, ready to brawl like a common muggle before the others could pull him back. Lily's Incarcerous had him dropping like a felled tree, right across the table he had been throwing himself over a moment before.

Like the calm in the centre of a hurricane, she turned clear green eyes at the second revealed Death Eater and slowly raised one eyebrow, "reports of your death have been greatly exaggerated, I see."

Barty Couch Jr. gave her a wide grin in return, tongue poking out the left side corner making him look childish and almost harmless.

"Well," she said, taking her seat again and putting her wand up her sleeve, "if we could all remain calm for at least 10 minutes we might actually put this meeting to good use, hmm?" Just like at Hogwarts with a classroom full of unruly children, butts met seats and mouths snapped shut; everyone, even the Death Eaters, stared at her seated to the right of the head of the table where Lord Voldemort waited in silence tapping his right fingers on the armrest of his chair. "Good," she declared once everyone was paying attention. Beneath the table, James reached over to squeeze her knee comfortingly. She slid a piece of parchment onto the table, waited until Voldemort reached out to pull it towards himself and then said, "I prepared a list of non-negotiable demands and a list of those which we would be willing to negotiate if necessary." A second list landed on the table. Opposite her, Lucius slid for his own list of demands and expectations the Dark Side had. On the other end of the table, facing Lord Voldemort, Albus Dumbledore steepled his fingers in front of his chin and watched Lily's eyes widened as she read Lucius' list, then her eyes widened further, and then her mouth dropped open – looking left-footed for the first time since everyone had arrived that morning to prepare.

She had been expecting an array of cruel and inhumane requests, the things Lord Voldemort would have demanded before his defeat. She had prepared herself for that. She had practiced her facial expressions in the mirror, thought of the times she had been called a Mudblood and had to force her eyes not to water and her lip not to tremble, imagined every horrible scenario she could envisage including Voldemort taking Harry away from them by force and then told herself nothing Voldemort said at this meeting could be as bad as what she had imagined. Her hands trembled as she read over the list again, unable to believe her own eyes. She handed it to James beside her, staring at Voldemort while her husband read the list and almost choked on a surprised gasp he couldn't help. Voldemort's face did not change, his gaze did not waver, but once again the corners of his lips curved up in a familiar way and Lily let out a soft "oh" as she realised that what they had been given was not a list of You-Know-Who's demands but instead Undersecretary Gaunt's unpublished policy ideas. Except no one but James and Lily knew for sure that they were the same person, and they could not break their vows of secrecy (nor would they want to if Voldemort was truly serious about leaving that part of his life in the past). She reached under the table to squeeze James' knee until he dropped one hand down to entwine their fingers and he waved his wand with the other hand to float the list down the table to Albus who plucked it silently out of the air.

Two thirds of Voldemort's list were reasonable and honestly similar to some of the legal policies she had discussed with Harry (learning from James and Sirius about the Wizengamot had driven Harry to devour book after book about law and policies and the separation of powers in the Wizarding World and while he was not sure he wanted to be a politician himself he certainly had enough opinions about their current leaders and was awfully fond of someone from the 60s named Tom Riddle). Maybe this wouldn't be too bad, she thought hopefully.

And at that very moment the spell on Bill wore off, and he continued what he had been in the midst of doing – namely, hurling himself at Lucius Malfoy. The two of them toppled to the floor together with a crash, the chair crashing down beneath their combined weight and shattering. Two house-elves popped into the room to fix the damage but were unable to because the two Wizards continued to roll across the floor in their way, kicking and punching at one another (well Bill was kicking and punching and Lucius was trying to get him the fuck off, you barbarian!) before their stunned audience.

XXX

That was the scene Harry walked in on.

He had taken Draco to Mad-Eye's – Moody continued to tutor him, sometimes with Albus, sometimes without, on and off through the year and over the summer. Tarrant used to join them, but he was a little too curse happy when it came to the Unforgivables and it made Mad-Eye hesitant to add to the boy's arsenal. So, understandably, when Malfoy stepped out of the floo after Harry, Moody sent the boy right back into it with a flick of his wand. Choking and sputtering on the floo powder that had gone into his mouth and up his nose during the unexpected action, Draco hunched over in the fireplace trying to remember how to breathe again.

"Surprise?" Harry spread his arms out at his sides, before pointing at Draco like he was some extraordinary gift being offered up in penance. Alastor raised one very unimpressed eyebrow and kept his wand on Malfoy. 15 minutes later, Moody agreed Draco could watch, but only watch mind you, he wouldn't be teaching baby Death Eaters jackshit thank you very much. Four hours of what felt like pure torture later (Mad-Eye had gone extra hard on Harry in revenge from bringing a Malfoy into his home without warning), they flooed back to Godric's Hollow and Harry limped his way into a chair. Less than 5 minutes later, he realised that no one else was home – well, Tarrant was hiding in his room, the door had slammed shut purposely loudly when the floo activated, but Harry did not want to speak to his brother at all right now. To say Tarrant had reacted badly when he came back from the Burrow and found out Lord Voldemort had not even tried to visit him after he turned 15 would be the understatement of the millennium. Followed by Draco and Harry breaking their betrothal, which Tarrant (correctly though no one had confirmed his suspicions yet) thought was because of Voldemort. Followed by the announcement in the paper that Peter had died (which Harry knew about but hadn't mentioned, overlooked in the face of all of the other shit the universe had thrown at him lately), one of Tarrant's only true supporters, his friend who never put Harry first. Yeah, Tarrant did not take any of this well. And Harry did not want to be around his brother without his parents to mediate for them.

Not to say Harry wasn't still angry at his parents for lying to him for years and enabling Tarrant's crappy behaviour, because he was, but at least they were trying to make it up to him. Harry had to give them credit for that. Uncle Sev was sucking up recently too, which was a weird and uncomfortable experience so Harry kind of hoped that Severus would stop soon. In the two weeks Harry had been negotiating a betrothal and then formally betrothed, he and Voldemort had exchanged 7 letters and had 2 mandatory visits, which if Harry were being honest were actually kind of nice? Sue him, but if he had to be stuck with the guy for the rest of his life, Harry hoped their courtship would go well and then he could at least be happy in the future. If Voldemort could try then so could he, and part of trying was ensuring that the almost war that Voldemort was waging from the shadows whenever the Ministry debates did not go his way came to a permanent end.

"Come on," Harry declared with a world-weary sigh as he pushed himself back up onto his shaking legs, "let's go make sure no one has tried to kill or curse anyone."

Flossy led the boys into the formal dining room, where Death Eaters traded insults across the table at equally enraged Order members, James and Lily stared in horrified fascination, Albus hid his smile behind steepled fingers and the Dark Lord rubbed at his temples to stave off a migraine. Lucius still had not been able to pull his wand out of his robe pocket, too busy fending off Bill's punches, and so they still rolled across the floor neither getting the upper hand. Draco gasped and ran forward. Unable to use magic at Potter Manor as it was not registered at the Ministry as a magical household so the underage trace would activate, Draco tried instead to pull Weasley off of his father long enough for Lucius to curse him unconscious. Harry glanced back and forth from that sight, to the table where his parents looked distressed at how wrong everything had suddenly gone, to Albus who was seconds away from cackling, to Voldemort who mentally cursed his propensity to be surrounded by idiots, threw up his own hands in surrender. He turned sharply on his heel and made his way quickly to the floo; he figured even Tarrant had to be less trouble that staying a second longer in that room!

Voldemort caught up to him before he could throw the powder, a hand on Harry's arm to tug him back but he was closer than he had realised. Harry moved back at Voldemort's touch, back bumping into his chest swaying, and Voldemort stepped forward to steady him – into the fireplace. The powder dropped out of Harry's slack hand and the flames turned green. The fireplace was set up only to go to one place, and so when the fire went out, Harry and Voldemort were standing – the Dark Lord pressed indecently up against Harry's back, one arm around his chest and the other still holding the hand that had dropped the floo powder – in the fireplace at Godric's Hollow.

In typical Potter-luck fashion, the universe decided to kick Harry while he was down, so of-fucking-course Tarrant was sitting on the sofa directly opposite them. He looked up at the noise, ready to whine to his parents about the Weasleys sending him home early, when wide hazel eyes moved from Harry's blushing face to the waxy, noseless face whose chin rested on the top of Harry's head, casually, comfortably, like a lover would. Tarrant's glass that he was holding shattered at his feet, the book he was reading fell, pages crumpling and soaking up his spilt pumpkin juice without notice. His cheeks flushed with anger, as he sprang up from his chair, wand in hand – angry, angry, furious, soangryhatehateangerhATE - he couldn't think – he couldn't breathe – he was blinded by anger. He couldn't see the way the Dark Lord pushed Harry behind himself automatically. He couldn't hear the way Harry tried to carefully get his attention while trying to peer around Lord Voldemort's much taller and broader form. He couldn't feel Voldemort's hand on his own, gently pushing his wand down and away from his brother. All he could see was them together, wrapped around each other in the fireplace, Voldemort's lipless mouth stretched into a wide sharklike grin and Harry's face bright red from embarrassment (and a little arousal), the crinkle at the corner of Harry's eyes that he did whenever he was trying to pretend he wasn't pleased about something – the way Voldemort looked down at Harry like he hung the moon in the sky, like he was the most important thing in Voldemort's life even though Tarrant was his mate. He was so sick of Harry stealing everything and everyone from him, so sick of being second every moment of his life – Lucius and Undersecretary Gaunt had rescued Harry from his forced rat-transfiguration, but there was no one here to rescue him this time. Not again. And once Harry was finally out of Tarrant's way, Lord Voldemort would finally claim him as his mate.

"CRUCIO!" Red light struck like lightening, and Tarrant forced every hateful thought he had ever had behind the Cruciatus, just like Peter had taught him, in a way that he had been promised would impress the Dark Lord.

Harry screamed – but it wasn't a scream of pain. "Stop!" He cried. He chucked himself at Tarrant, easily avoiding Voldemort's grasp as the man bit through his tongue to keep himself from screaming. Tarrant hit the ground even as he managed to shove Harry off of him: Tarrant's wand went flying to the left, and Harry got winded by the coffee table for his trouble.

The curse ended.

The Dark Lord raised himself to his full height, so plainly enraged that it hovered over him like a thundercloud in a cartoon. Harry felt the room grew colder and turn darker, like when there are Dementors around, but the thought vanished faster than a flash of lightning when pain lanced up his right arm as he tried to sit up. The radial bone poked up through the skin of his forearm, blood spilling around the wound and skin flapping obscenely as he tried to move an arm that did not want to move. Somehow, he had broken his arm landing on the coffee table. The pain of it had Harry's eyes rolling back in his head.

The last thing he saw before he passed out was Lord Voldemort pointing his wand at his twin brother and hissing something unintelligible.

XXX

Poor Harry - he had two relatively easy weeks, so he should have been expecting something to go wrong. *shrug emoji* *sideeye emoji*

Chapter warnings: Harry is a little shit, Voldemort is a mess, mentions of the possibility of mpreg but no actual mpreg planned, Voldemort's A+ guide to dating a teenager, Dark Arts references, canon typical violence, torture, reference to suicide in a newspaper.