Title: Quiet Holiday
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairings: Harry Potter/Lord Voldemort
Summary: Voldemort responded to holidays one of two ways: A massive attack, or shutting himself away. When it becomes clear this will be one of the latter, Harry steps in to ensure 'alone' won't mean 'lonely'.
A/N: Every winter season, I send out cards to anyone willing to give me their address, and I decided this past year to send out winter-themed ficlets to slip in with them, one for each ship that people on tumblr and LJ voted for. I asked if people thought I should post them all in the new year, and most people agreed I should, so this is one of them. Save for one, which is against FFN's rules, all of them will be posted on the major, multi-fandom sites I usually post on; links to those can be found in my profile/about me page of whichever site you're reading this on. ;)
I'd originally thought to post these next month, for my birthday, and then decided I might appreciate the reviews while I'm stuck in video rooms all this weekend, lol. (I staff at Katsucon. If you're attending, feel free to drop me a line! I promise I don't bite, and I've a bag of valentines to hand out. ;)
Voldemort responded to holidays in one of two ways: He either planned attack after attack and kept his Death Eaters running around at all hours, or he put up wards to keep everyone away. (The latter had resulted in trouble twice, that Harry was aware of, when someone had desperately needed to get in contact with Voldemort. The Death Eaters involved had no idea that Harry, after hearing about the problem, had been the one to drag the Dark Lord away from his solitude, because Voldemort couldn't, actually, ward against his horcruxes.)
Harry had honestly expected Christmas and New Years to be rather attack-heavy, as they had been during previous years, as well as the Halloween just passed. Not that he'd know for certain until things started exploding – Voldemort had something against letting Harry near his people, either because of his complicated history with the lot of them, or so he could claim innocence if things ever went pear-shaped – but he saw enough of Voldemort's people over the course of his average week, he didn't have trouble noticing the rather extreme change in schedule that the Dark Lord's attack plans usually resulted in.
So Harry was admittedly rather surprised when he hadn't noticed any of the usual signs of an impending attack by the twentieth. (People would say what they wanted, but Harry knew Voldemort's particular brand of insanity didn't tend to lend itself to last minute plans, only last minute changes to plans that were already underway, usually in response to some intelligence about an opponent preparing to get in his way.)
In fact, not a one of the Death Eaters he kept track of – through his own observations, or the observations of others – had even a slight deviation to their usual schedule, beyond a bit of gift shopping. A number of them even appeared unusually chipper, and Harry could only assume they were delighted at the chance to spend the coming holidays with their families, rather than knee-deep in corpses.
Still, if Voldemort wasn't planning an attack, that meant he was probably wallowing alone, so Harry put in for some holiday time, suffered some gentle ribbing at his last-minute changes, and apparated to the imposing manor Voldemort called his home, rather than his own tiny flat overlooking Diagon Alley.
The wards washed over him as he stepped through them, tugging at him slightly, like they didn't really want to let him pass, but knew they couldn't actually stop him, on account of the piece of their creator residing within him.
He found Voldemort in the kitchen, terrorising the house-elves by making his own food, and he couldn't resist a grin at the sight, which turned into a laugh when the head house-elf turned to him with wide, pleading eyes.
Voldemort turned, hairless brows raising in an uncharacteristic display of surprise. "What are you doing here?" he asked, his voice not quite as hostile as Harry was used to; either someone – and by that, he meant one of the house-elves – had spiked his tea with calming potion again, or the holiday from his Death Eaters had mellowed him.
Harry shrugged. "So long as I don't have to dodge Death Eaters to manage so much as a walk down the hall, I'd very much like to spend the holiday here."
Voldemort blinked, his expression so blank, Harry was nearly certain he was hiding his reaction. "You have friends," he pointed out a bit flatly.
Harry nodded. "And they'll still be there in the new year, but the empty manor won't be. Is it all right?"
Voldemort turned away from him. "Do as you please."
Harry cast the head house-elf a long-suffering look – she responded by ducking her head, but not before Harry saw the amusement lighting her eyes – and stepped forward to lightly touch Voldemort's elbow. "Come on," he coaxed as Voldemort turned a murderous look on him in response to the surprise touch. "Why don't you leave the house-elves to their job?"
Voldemort muttered some uncomplimentary things under his breath, but he didn't resist Harry's light touch, letting himself be led out of the kitchen and up to the library, where they both settled in with books until the house-elves brought them dinner.
Voldemort ate about two bites, before loudly clicking his fork against the edge of his plate to set it down, and glaring at Harry until he looked up at him. "Why are you here?" he demanded, his tone far closer to his usual.
Harry shrugged and, before Voldemort could yank out his wand and curse him for being irritating, he said, "You won't let anyone else through the wards, and no one deserves to celebrate the holidays alone, especially not after such an accomplished year." He raised an eyebrow at Voldemort, whose scowl had softened into something that didn't quite look confused, but was clearly related to it. "Do us both the favour of not lying to me about why you decided not to have an attack; I've never seen your people look so cheerful about their normal duties."
"Are you implying I've gone soft, you–?!"
"I'm saying," Harry interrupted before Voldemort could decide he was pissed off enough to pull out his wand, "that this has been a fantastic year for you, and you're not so heartless as to deny your people a few days off to spend with their families. Which isn't implying softness, or even, Merlin forbid, kindness. Just...fairness. Awareness, perhaps; they've done a good job, so they deserve a reward, and this is exactly the reward most of them would ask for. If you didn't terrify the piss out of them."
Voldemort's smile was far from nice, but it also wasn't murderous, so Harry knew he wouldn't have to worry about dodging any spellfire for at least another half hour, barring him putting his foot in his mouth. (He'd got a lot better at avoiding that, once he'd dug himself out of the pit of stupidity puberty had dropped him into.)
"And what about," Voldemort asked, an edge to his voice that Harry had, maybe, been hoping to hear, "my reward?"
Harry made a show of patting down his robes, then tossed Voldemort an uncertain frown. "I'm afraid I forgot to bring anything. Will I suffice?"
Voldemort's smile probably would have sent even the most steadfast among his Death Eaters hurrying back the way they'd come, but Harry just smiled back as the Dark Lord decided, "Oh, I think I can find a use for you."
Harry looked forward to it.