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“Is that so… Lord Voldemort?” Riddle asked, his tone dark and dangerous and tinged with heavy sarcasm.

Harry felt a very ominous tug in his stomach.

Dark eyes gleamed knowingly down at Harry, as if drilling into his soul. But he held Riddle’s gaze, willing him to believe the lie. He was still seated in his swivel chair, his work desk behind him as he faced his boss.

Harry was well aware of the office’s emptiness. The few who had come in to work over the weekend had quickly packed up and hurried off once Riddle exited the confines of his own office, unwilling to chance facing the wrath of the Vice President.

Cowards, he thought, before facing his boss once more. Yet, with everyone gone, the lack of an unwanted audience sparked something in Harry.

A desire to rebel.

But before Harry could reply, Riddle was suddenly stalking forward and leaning down over him… looking over Harry’s shoulder as he reached towards the abandoned desktop computer with his right hand. His left arm came down to rest on the desk behind Harry’s chair, his head nearly tucking into the crook between Harry’s head and shoulder.

Harry froze.

Shock and adrenaline rushed through his limbs. His mind went on overdrive, because Riddle had trapped him against the desk, and those exposed collarbones were inches away from Harry’s nose and he was too close too close too close—

Then Riddle shifted slightly closer, the muscles in his arms and shoulders rippling as they brushed against Harry’s. He breathed a whiff of the older man’s cologne. Fresh and citrusy and so crisp , just like the way Riddle enunciated his bloody ‘t’s.

“Potter,” Riddle breathed lowly, dangerously into his ear, his British accent more pronounced than ever.

And suddenly, uninvited heat was licking down his spine, pooling in his stomach. Harry shuddered back into his seat, his hands clenching the armrests of his chair so tightly they turned pale. He could hear nothing but the rushing of his own blood, no longer aware of the furious clicks and taps dealt to his work desktop.

Riddle turned his head towards Harry’s right ear, his sharp, clenching jaw suddenly visible from Harry’s peripheral vision.

“Such lies, ” Riddle spat, his mouth barely grazing the tip of Harry’s ear. Harry swallowed dryly, biting his bottom lip.

The older man leaned back a few inches to face Harry directly, eyes spitting fire.

“I despise liars—nearly as much as I despise slackers, if not more—”

And then Riddle paused upon truly seeing him, cutting himself off.

His features grew blank.

Dark eyes lingered on Harry’s flushed cheeks and raw-bitten lower lip before roaming down his figure. And for a second, they seemed to darken, flashing with a different sort of heat altogether—

Harry finally found the strength to place a firm hand against Riddle’s chest and shove him back.

“Wh-what the fuck, Riddle,” Harry gasped, and even though his voice was embarrassingly husky and his words were horribly unprofessional, he couldn’t stop the stream of unconsciousness flowing from his tongue. “What the fuck what the fuck, no concept of personal fucking space or privacy—”

“Do you think,” Riddle began, his tone quiet and ominous, “that you deserve any?” He stood to his full height, looming above Harry like a thunderous cloud. “After such a fine display of work ethic?” His voice grew even quieter as he muttered, “Fanfiction. Reading fanfiction when the stakes are so…”

What... stakes...? 

Harry could barely focus on what the other man was saying as he stepped closer, his hand grasping Harry’s chin and roughly jerking it upwards.

“Answer me , ” Riddle uttered imperiously, his voice filled with such an overpowering sense of command that Harry had no choice but to look back.

“No,” Harry replied simply, candidly. He clenched his jaw, fighting the urge to say, ‘ but—’

Riddle’s grip tightened on his jaw once more, as if reading his mind.

 

When he remained quiet, Riddle smiled approvingly at him.

Good boy, Harry thought hysterically.

And then, disgusted by his own thoughts, he ripped himself out of Riddle’s grip.

“You— motherfucking— ” Harry spluttered, and Riddle tensed with fury. “You can’t just, physically assault people like tha—”

Buzz. Buzz. Buzz.

Harry froze instantly at the sound as Riddle leaned back, his hand slipping from Harry’s jaw and going to the vibrating Apple watch on his left wrist.

Riddle’s features seemed to revert back to their usual stoniness as he clicked the alarm off. His jaw ticked as he continued to stare at his watch, otherwise expressionless.

Then, moments later—

Ring! Ring!

Harry craned back to where his own phone had begun to ring, jarringly loud as its sound echoed over the wooden desk.

Quickly grabbing it, he swiped at his screen without a second thought, his eyes barely managing to catch the words labelling his alarm—

Oh crap.

There was a sinking feeling in Harry’s stomach as he slowly looked back up at his boss, suddenly very much aware of the reason he’d come to check on Harry.

Morsmordre’s board meeting was happening tomorrow, Sunday afternoon, and he was supposed to have finished the trend analysis report and given it to Riddle way in advance.

But instead, Harry had been reading fanfiction, completely unaware of just how important this report was, or how important the meeting Riddle needed it for was, despite having marked the date on his own calendar months ago—

“Mr. Riddle, sir,” Harry started apologetically, pleadingly. God, he was an idiot.

Riddle remained quiet and emotionless, locks of hair falling over his eyes as he continued to stare at the events on his watch.

“Mr. Ridd—”

“I had thought that surely, ” he began imperiously, “even the most scatterbrained assistant would not need to be reminded of the importance of this meeting.”

Riddle looked up, his eyes glinting unreadably.

“And despite your shortcomings, I had maintained confidence in your ability to perform when the stakes are high.”

Harry bit his lip, silently agreeing with the statement even as guilt settled in his stomach. For some reason, he’d always been able to pull off an excellent report in the nick of time… whether it was a product of luck or a few strokes of brilliance.

It was part of why he’d stuck around for so long. Hell, his colleagues had even even begun calling him the ‘Boy-Who-Lived’ due to his reputation for having stayed on as Riddle’s assistant for so long.

But now…

Riddle stared at him impassively, icy coldness wiping away the fury that had dominated his movements a mere minute earlier.

“If I had any sense, I would fire you this instant.”

Harry flinched at the statement, his hand pulsing around his phone in a rhythm that matched his internal monologue. Stupid… Stupid… Stupid…

He looked up tentatively at his boss, his eyes wide and pleading. Harry hadn’t realized how much he needed this job until the very realistic possibility of losing it had popped up. Riddle paid him so well, and however shameful it was to admit, his previous salary as Chief Editor for The Quibbler had nothing on his salary as Riddle’s personal assistant—

Eventually, Riddle exhaled harshly, his eyebrows furrowing as he pinched the bridge of his nose.

“Just leave. And finish that report.”

Harry scrambled to his feet, grabbing his backpack.

“Of course, sir, thank yo—”

“Don’t.” Riddle grabbed Harry’s wrists, the jolting motion stopping him in his tracks.

He leaned in close to Harry’s ear, his cologne washing over Harry in heady, mind-dizzying waves that nearly made him forget everything that had occurred over the past few minutes.

“Don’t mistake this for forgiveness. I will find a way to punish you for this.”

He released Harry’s wrists. “I will see you in my office at six o’clock sharp tomorrow morning with the completed report.”

And with that, Riddle turned sharply on his heel and left Harry’s cubicle. His slow, sure footsteps clicked over the hospital-white, linoleum floors, so at odds with Harry’s racing heart.

 

*          *          *

 

Tom slammed the door to his office behind him, his hand clenching tightly around the door knob as he hissed through gritted teeth.

He really should have fired Harry Potter this time. In all honesty, Tom had left his office with the intention of doing so, had his assistant not finished the report.

But then he’d witnessed something so utterly shocking.

His personal assistant had been reading fanfiction. Lord_Voldemort_’s fanfiction.

He’d had bigger concerns on his mind… multibillion-dollar deals and a certain, upcoming board meeting. And yet, Tom was instantly distracted by this sliver of impossibility, unable to restrain himself from rushing forward and ravaging the boy’s laptop. He had searched for the boy’s Ao3 username until realizing, with disappointment, that Potter hadn’t logged into his account on the work computer. Even if he did happen to have an account in the first place.

It was bad enough that anyone related to his professional life was reading his fanfiction. Under no circumstances would Tom allow his professional and personal life to mix. Even if Tom was quite proud of the name he’d made for himself in the fanfiction world.

But the fact that, of all people, it was Harry Potter who had been reading it…

Tom slammed his head back into the door, exhaling a low, breathy, slightly hysterical chuckle.

His little green-eyed monster would be the end of him.

He’d already plagued and infected Tom’s sense of creativity.

Every time Tom sat down to write after finishing his previous work, pondering the plot and theme of his next work, all he could think of was Potter… rushing into Tom’s office every morning, perpetually flushed.

Those turbulent locks, curling around his pale ears as he held out coffee to Tom. The way he licked his lips nervously, the slightest hint of sarcasm in his voice as he spoke, “Black as always, Mr. Riddle.”

And when Potter wasn’t licking his lips, or biting them nervously… he was sucking on those horrid lollipops, day in and day out, their glossy reddish-pink color bleeding out his mouth and painting his lips a maddeningly appealing blood red—

No.

Tom slammed his fist against his desk, punctuating the sentiment. Fury licked up his spine at how weak the boy had made him… how easily the boy made him feel emotions he’d so long ago resolved to pour only into fiction.

It made no sense. Harry Potter was so un-special, so extraordinarily unexceptional. He was probably the most under-qualified worker at this entire office.

To think that this boy had become his unwitting muse ? It was laughable.

And yet, there was something in him. An unnameable spark—whether of defiance or something else—that boiled Tom’s blood every time. But he couldn’t put a finger on it… couldn’t put a finger on him.

He didn’t know what to make of Harry Potter.

And that made him a threat. In fact—now, more than ever, Potter was a liability.

At least, from his earlier reaction, it seemed likely that Potter didn’t know Tom was Lord_Voldemort_.

He scoffed at the brief reminder of his assistant’s inane attempt to claim he was Lord_Voldemort_.

Tom was confident that he would be capable of keeping Potter’s mouth shut if the time came. But what if the boy had unwittingly leaked details about him? Or what if anyone else happened to have found or leaked hints about his identity?

He knew that his true identity was a source of talk amongst Jarvolo fans. But he’d never once considered the possibility of his identity being discovered. He gave so little information about his past and self that he’d never worried about covering his tracks.

But he couldn’t take any chances. Once they pieced together that Lord Voldemort was Tom Riddle, all would be lost.

 

… There was only way to check.

Tom sat at his desk and powered on his laptop. And then he did something he hadn’t done for years—he logged into the Jarvolo Discord he’d joined back when his username had been completely different, back when he’d been a completely different person altogether.

23 New Mentions of: Slytherin’s_Heir_

Tom ignored them. He wasn’t interested in viewing any personal messages or notifications from his older days. He was only curious to see if there had been any recent mentions of Lord_Voldemort_…

He typed his fanfiction username into the search bar, after which Discord immediately pulled up the most recent conversation mentioning him. His eyebrows rose as he read the date—the discussion had only occurred two weeks ago.

Tom clicked on it and proceeded to read the whole snippet.

>> SeanTheSheep: Thoughts on Lord_Voldemort_? Be honest.

>> MickeyCorner: I bet Voldie’s a real asshole IRL

He paused, frowning. The curse word didn’t bother him much, but really? ‘Voldie’?

The disrespectful little brat.

>> MickeyCorner: He doesn’t have an updating schedule and he always posts so erratically. I mean, he made us wait two years one time. Remember when we all thought The Orphan was abandoned?

>> ChoAegyo:

>> Gred: oh man

>> Forge: … HAHAHAH THE ORPHAN??? WAS ABANDONED??? Mikey I’m almost impressed

>> Gred: Right when you don’t think he has a sense of humor, he pulls something like this xD

Why was Tom reading this again? These imbeciles made him want to rip out his hair and go bald. 

He continued reading anyway, curiosity getting the better of him.

>> AngelinaBallerina: Oh shut up boys. @MickeyCorner don’t you think that’s a little harsh? Some writers DO have a life outside of fanfiction :/

>> RoonilWazlib: Mickey has a point though. He never gives a reason for updating late and he never responds to comments—even those long-ass essays @lightning_boi always posts

Tom paused. The name ‘lightning_boi’ did seem to ring a bell…

>> HeadGirl: I agree. I think Voldemort has a superiority complex. I’ve read all of his works obsessively, analyzing them vigorously… perhaps not as well as lightning_boi but—

>> RoonilWazlib: lecture time

>> HeadGirl: As you know, Voldemort grew so famous within the James Evans fandom world because of how well he writes Marvolo… even better, arguably, than J. K. Roaring herself. And the fact that he’s able to write such a convincing raging psychopath… I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s because, well, you know…

>> AngelinaBallerina: You think he’s mentally… off himself?

>> HeadGirl: I think he’s definitely mentally something. I just can’t quite figure him out. But I will, soon! He’s a very fascinating person and I’m quite the fan of his work, even if he is deranged :)

He narrowed his eyes. This HeadGirl… she was dangerous. Not to mention, very irritating and very wrong.

>> RoonilWazlib: @HeadGirl… know that I say this out of the goodness of my heart… but I really think you should change your name

>> SeanTheSheep: Yeah it’s really suggestive

>> RoonilWazlib: wtf sean I was approaching the situation DELICATELY

>> AngelinaBallerina: delicately my ass

>> HeadGirl: Oh fuck off. I’ll call myself whatever I like, perverts be damned.

Nonsense… nonsense… Tom scrolled down a bit further.

>> TheWrongBoy: Uh oh. Wait @RoonilWazlib—why’d you tag lightning_boi earlier?

>> RoonilWazlib: HUH? I DID?

>> TheWrongBoy: Yeah, when you mentioned his “long-ass comments” on Voldemort’s works

>> RoonilWazlib: Oh shit

>> SpinnetToWinIt: Ahhhh boiiii go change it! If our lightning man sees that part of the chat he’s gonna murder us

>> HeadGirl: You know how defensive he gets about Voldemort!

>> lightning_boi: … defensive?

Tom leaned in closer to the screen, a smile creeping at the corners of his mouth. This was getting interesting.

>> PossiblyRelatedToMichaelJordan: shit’s about to get reeeeeeeal

>> AngelinaBallerina: Not helping lee

>> PossiblyRelatedToMichaelJordan: what can I say? I love commentating ;)

>> SpinnetToWinIt: Jeeezus lee your name’s so obnoxiously long

>> PossiblyRelatedToMichaelJordan: All part of the charm ladies

>> HeadGirl: … lightning_boi? Are you there? Why aren’t you saying anything?

>> lightning_boi: I was reading the section of conversation I was tagged in.

>> PossiblyRelatedToMichaelJordan: ooohhh shit, he brought out the PERIOD!! Bringing out that PUNCTUATION! He mad

>> RoonilWazlib: lightning… my man… my best man, at my future wedding…

>> lightning_boi: @MickeyCorner. I find it pretty ironic that you called Lord_Voldemort_ an asshole.

>> MickeyCorner: hey whats that supposed to mean

>> lightning_boi: Nothing two brain cells can’t solve.

Tom smirked. His little savior had such a delightfully sharp tongue… and nice grammar to accompany it.

>> HeadGirl: lightning…

>> lightning_boi: “mentally something?” “deranged?” “superiority complex?”

>> HeadGirl: Now just wait

>> lightning_boi: Though be honest, I wouldn’t blame Voldemort if he had a superiority complex. He IS superior to all of us.

>> HeadGirl: excuse me?

>> lightning_boi: Yes, even you, Mione. “Deranged?” No. You have it wrong. He’s a genius. A complete and utter genius. His works are filled with plot twists that only lead to bigger ones, and every plot point is so meaningful and well-thought out. No one can craft plots the way Lord_Voldemort_ does.

>> RoonilWazlib: Mione? Wait a sec... @HeadGirl is that your real name?

>> lightning_boi: Think what you will of his personality! But Lord_Voldemort_ isn’t just the most incredible author on Ao3. He’s a mastermind. His way with words is unparalleled, and there is no doubt in my mind that he is destined for greatness… if he hasn’t reached that point already.

>> lightning_boi: Every piece of writing by Lord_Voldemort_ builds upon his legacy, immortalizing him.

>> lightning_boi: Lord_Voldemort_… is a god.

The conversation seemed to end there, timing out and starting again with a new topic hours later. But even if it hadn’t ended, Tom wouldn’t have been able to read further.

His eyes were stagnated on the paragraph from lightning_boi, reading it over and over until it was ingrained in his mind.

Tom was a selfish author. He wrote only for himself and deigned to post his work for others to read and enjoy. He rarely read comments, let alone responded to them. In fact, the few comments he’d read towards the beginning of his fanfiction career, ‘updaaate’ and ‘ I want moreee’ and ‘good story dude,’ had only incensed him.

But lightning_boi’s words of praise were magnificent. Worshipful. Eloquent and evocative.

Tom dragged his cursor over lightning_boi’s name, but the only information available about him was his gender. Male.

Not nearly enough information.

His little lawyer had mentioned Ao3, hadn’t he?

Tom pulled up the Archive Of Our Own website, searching for lightning_boi’s profile.

Yesss…

He found lightning_boi’s Ao3 account quite easily and promptly scrolled through it, absorbing it. His most recent work had a shockingly high amount of bookmarks and kudos, more than any of lightning_boi’s other works.

But…

The title of the work was boss from hell. Not a capital letter in sight, Tom noted with displeasure, so unlike the way lightning_boi had talked on the Discord. Anything less than perfect grammar usually put him off.

But it was an Office AU. Interesting… Tom narrowed his eyes competitively, eager to see how his fan’s Office AU compared to his own.

So he clicked on the work anyways, skipping past the summary and introduction to read the beginning of the first chapter.

I had no clue what I was getting myself into when I accepted the position of "personal assistant" instead of my dream job. But after meeting him for the first time time, one thing was certain—

Nnhgh. Tom grimaced, nearly exiting out of the work right there and then.

He hated first-person. It was too flawed, too personal, and he almost never related with the protagonist enough to enjoy their perspective.

But as his mouse hovered above the red X at the corner of the tab, snippets of lightning_boi’s impassioned and strangely touching words from the Jarvolo discord came floating back to him, unbidden.

He’s a mastermind…

Destined for greatness…

Lord_Voldemort_… is a god.

Tom closed his eyes for a moment, allowing the glorious praise to wash over him again and again, like a rising tide underneath the moon's influence.

And then, once more, he began to read.

... one thing was certain—I had a boss from hell…

 

Tom was drawn into the story, falling deeper and deeper into lightning_boi’s world with every sentence. He barely noticed when the sun set, when darkness fell upon the towering skyscrapers outside of his top-floor office.

The words floating on the screen before him were all that existed.

 

*          *          *

 

Harry yawned as he slipped under the covers, tapping at his phone to check the time.

Two hours past midnight. He groaned, tossing an arm over his eyes and forehead as he plopped down on the mattress.

The report had taken him forever. And Harry still wasn’t quite sure he’d gotten everything correct—he was planning on getting to the office around five o’clock to check over his work with a colleague ( someone would be there, surely) and print out the report.

Harry’s eyes were just beginning to droop when his phone buzzed with a notification.

His hand twitched against his will.

No. Don’t do this.

You have to wake up in two hou—

His phone buzzed again, and this time, Harry reached for the plugged-in phone at his bedside table.

It had just been his email, he sighed, opening up the app to check anyways.

Subject: [Ao3] Comment on boss from hell

His eyebrows raised in delighted surprise. At least it was Ao3 email.

Harry clicked on it and read.

 

He shot up in bed, wide awake. No freaking way.  His left hand came up to clutch at the material of his own shirt over his chest, his whole body buzzing with uncontainable energy.

The message itself was nothing extraordinary. It almost clinical-sounding. It could have been commented by someone who’d never even read the work.

But the name above the comment—the reader who’d left the comment—was what got Harry’s heart pounding furiously, his mind racing crazily.

 

>> Lord_Voldemort_: Kudosed, Bookmarked, Subscribed.

 

Harry screamed into his pillow.