October 4th, 1941
Over the following night, something changed within the Slytherin house, and every soul residing in the castle noticed. Not one pupil wearing green and silver murmured a single word of what happened the night before, and Potter seemed to have kept his mouth shut as promised because everyone else was kept guessing as to why on earth all of the Slytherins were acting so subdued.
Not that Tom blamed them; he was still quite confused at the turn of events himself.
The Slytherin fourth-years were currently sharing Defense Against the Dark Arts with the Gryffindors, and Tom was cursing the fact that he was three years Peverell's junior and unable to share classes with him.
They didn’t share any classes, but for the first time in days Peverell had actually shown up to breakfast, sitting and chatting amiably with Orion and Alphard Black, who didn't seem averse to the attention they were receiving from their new housemate.
That morning Tom allowed himself to stare inconspicuously at the boy, taking in every detail he was offered. For the first time since the second day of term, he allowed himself to really look at the raven-haired boy that was able to send his heart racing.
Peverell was by no means a short man, about six feet if he had to hazard a guess. His stature looked lean, muscular and athletic, goading Tom to have one too many dreams wondering about what Peverell had concealed beneath those expensive school robes he wore.
His long raven hair, as always, was pulled back elegantly away from his face with a velvety, dark emerald ribbon, but his fringe was left to carelessly cover his eyes.
One could speculate all they wanted about his blood-status, but his chiselled features spoke loudly and obviously of pureblood ancestry. Peverell had the sharp Black cheekbones which accentuated his hallowed cheeks handsomely, and a Potter nose which he wore delicately. Striking pureblood features were complimented perfectly by his strong jaw and the bright emerald jewels that shaped his eyes.
Tom had never seen such eyes before, so unbelievably green and vibrant that they called to you from the other side of the room; old eyes that told of unimaginable tales and insufferable grief, ones that didn't belong upon the angelic face of the seventeen-year-old.
What could he possibly have been through? What suffering had led him here?
Hadrian Peverell had gone from an insignificant new Slytherin student to the most mysterious enigma he had ever had the pleasure of encountering.
How could they have all been so blind as not see what was hiding in front of their very own eyes?
Why was Peverell hiding in the shadows when he had, it seemed, immeasurable power at his disposal to wield with the very tips of his fingers?
Tom, immersed as he was in his musing, didn't notice that class had let out and that students were now rushing out, excited that classes were done for the day.
Lestrange tapped him on his shoulder to get his attention and Tom snapped his head in his direction.
''Coming?'' he asked wearily.
Tom just gave a curt nod and started gathering his things from the table.
''Are we to meet with Abraxas?'' Tom asked no one in particular.
''I don't think so. If I were to take a guess, I'd say he's off looking for Peverell,'' Lestrange drawled lazily with a smirk in place.
Dolohov snorted at this, drawing Tom's attention. He chuckled and Tom arch a brow at him in question. ''Abraxas has been mooning over Peverell since his arrival,'' he explained rolling his eyes.
''He has?'' Tom asked indifferently, but his gut was suddenly twisting and burning.
Dolohov and Lestrange turned to look at him with identical disbelieving expressions.
''Peverell is all Abraxas has been talking about since the start of term,'' Lestrange blinked, not quite understanding how Tom had managed to miss that piece of information.
It probably had to do with the fact that he had been trying to block out anything and everything that was remotely related to Hadrian Peverell.
''I hadn't noticed,'' Tom murmured distractedly, trying to put out the fire that ignited inside him at the news.
''He's interested, but I didn't think he'd actually try and pursue him, especially not after last night,'' commented Lestrange.
''I'd rather think that he would try because of last night,'' Dolohov chuckled darkly.
''He was terrified, or have you forgotten the state he was in last night or the fact that Avery is still lying in bed shaking?'' Lestrange rebuffed, not seeing what Dolohov could possibly be insinuating.
''Think about it for a second, Gustus. Objectively speaking, Peverell is quite handsome as we've repeatedly been reminded over the past month. Add the fact that he seems more than decently powerful to the package, with the added bonus of being a Peverell, and you have Abraxas's wet dream come to life,'' Dolohov explained as if it were obvious. ''Yes, now that Abraxas knows that Peverell isn't some mediocre wizard, he'd definitely want to try.''
''So, you think Abraxas will try to start up a relationship with Peverell?'' Tom asked them calmly, tone as uninterested as he could manage to make it sound with the sudden wave of possessiveness that immersed him in indignant rage.
''I'd say he's begging on his knees right about now,'' Dolohov smirked, wagging his eyebrows suggestively, unintentionally fueling Tom's rage.
Tom clenched his jaw and took a deep breath through his nose, trying to keep his poised mask in place.
Lestrange shrugged. "It seems that if anyone has a chance of bagging Peverell, it's one of the Blacks. They seemed rather cosy this morning."
"Orion is already in a marriage contract with Walburga," Cygnus reminded them indignantly, finally pulling his nose out of his book to join their conversation.
Dolohov smirked lecherously at his year mate and swung an arm over his shoulder. "Doesn't mean that he can't enjoy him before or even after."
"Orion would never betray my sister and our family name in such a way," Cygnus defended his cousin vehemently.
Not in the mood to deal with their bantering, Tom abruptly stopped walking. ''I need to head to the library. I'll meet you in the common room later,'' and without another word, he turned around and left them to their gossiping.
Peverell would not be his weakness—he couldn't allow it—but at the same time the thought of Abraxas' hands running over the skin he desperately wanted to touch made him burn and turned his vision green with envy.
The thought of Orion or Alphard fucking Black getting to him first was even worse.
While Cygnus quite readily obeyed his every word and complied with his rule over Slytherin house, the other Blacks didn't feel inclined to do the same, not even the wench Lucretia who never seemed to have forgotten about his blood-status. They might not defy him outright, moderately respectful of his prowess, but resistance burned brightly in their eyes. "Blacks do not bow to anyone," he had once heard Alphard whisper to him warningly, out of ear-shot from their other housemates.
He had wanted to shred him to pieces where he stood for his audacity, but unfortunately, his name protected him, but only for so long.
No, Alphard Black and his cousins would not be touching Peverell, he would make sure of it.
As he walked into the library, his eyes were immediately drawn to a raven-haired head, sitting next to an equally dark-haired Orion.
Before he could make up his mind, his feet were already carrying him to the table slightly to their right, curious to find out what they were discussing.
Quickly he got out his assignments and relevant notes, pretending not to be eavesdropping on the pair next to him.
"... forget to send my father an owl this week. He's been eagerly and somewhat impatiently waiting for your reply."
Peverell was acquainted with Arcturus Black?
"I apologise for leaving him waiting, but I needed to conduct some research before I was able to get back to him with an adequate reply. Didn't want to disappoint him," Peverell said sheepishly, rubbing at the back of his neck.
"Not possible," Black deadpanned, probably rolling his eyes. "Since he met you at the Ministry this summer you're all he's been talking about. Even mother was a little jealous of the attention he was showing you, though her jealousy quelled when he mentioned a contract between you and Lucretia."
"It took me a week to think about a nice way to tell him that it was likely not going to happen," Peverell said, sounding pained at the memory of it.
"He was unusually quiet that evening, giving Lucretia these heartbroken looks. I honestly thought he was going to cry," Black laughed loudly, earning him a glare from the elderly librarian.
"Tell me honestly though," suddenly Black's tone had lost all its amusement. "You don't strike me as the kind of man that wants to get into politics, Harry. Why do it? Don't misunderstand!" he hastened to exclaim, eyes wide at his silent implication and Peverell's raised brow.
"I believe that you are more than capable of accomplishing what you set your mind to," he was quick to reassure, probably having last night's events playing in front of his eyes.
Tom did his best to overlook the fact that Orion fucking Black was allowed to refer to Peverell in such a familiar way, and managed because of a new fact that has just been revealed to him.
Peverell was interested in politics. Surely impossible, not with his antisocial nature.
Peverell stayed silent for a few seconds, looking closely at his friend with a sad smile on his lips.
"We live in the same world, Orion. A world ruled by discrimination and hatred. Surely you see that we need to change?" he asked him rhetorically with hardening eyes. "I see where the world is headed, and I fear the arrival of our complete annihilation," he said with terrifying conviction, and then he hesitated for a moment, staring through Orion and into a terrible future only he seemed able to see.
"So I'll do it," he continued with more confidence than before. "I'll do it because no one else will do it simply for the sake of our community. I'll do it because I'm probably the only person that wishes to do it for nothing else but to achieve peace and prosperity. I'll do it because to waste my resources would be to be selfish and undeserving of my title. I'll do it because if I don't, who will?"
How nauseatingly egotistical and noble of him.
So Hadrian Peverell wanted to change the wizarding world? He would need to get in line or fight him for the privilege.
"I don't know if that made you sound conceited or Gryfindorishly noble."
"I know you mean that in the nicest ways possible, Orion dear," Peverell joked.
"Are you sure you don't want to marry my sister? If you did father would probably name you as heir, and you'll have all the influence that comes with the Black name."
"I don't need to marry into the family because I already have your father's support and that's all the Black influence I need."
Orion groaned, barely restraining himself from dropping his head onto the table. "Do you ever," he mumbled grumpily under his breath. "Orion my boy," he started, in what Tom Riddle assumed was a bad impression of his father. "You stick with Harry, Orion, I tell you. You stick with him, and it will be the best decision you will ever make. Could learn a lot of things from him, going places he is. You stick with him, and we'll see the Black name restored to its former glory!"
Orion had always been one for theatrics. Tom could only thank whatever deity resided at the very top that he wasn't in the same year as him because sharing a dorm would have been a horror.
To his surprise, Hadrian Peverell didn't seem to find the younger boy annoying, not if that beautiful laugh ringing in his ear was anything to go by.
How could a man such as him be amused by Orion Black? He was as dull as a first year's Lumos, barely tolerated by his own house. Orion, if not for the lordship he was to inherit, would be a nobody, yet Peverell enjoyed his company.
"We will, you know," Peverell told him, his tone once again turning grave.
"We will do what?" Orion asked him, taken aback by his friend's sudden mood shift.
"Restore your house to its former glory, what else?" he said, smiling wildly at the younger boy.
Orion tilted his head to the side, giving him a curious and confused look. Tom was confused himself. Why was Peverell so interested in the Blacks?
"I just don't understand you, Peverell," Orion told him shyly, his cheeks tinting slightly with the tiniest hint of a blush.
"Don't break your head over it. Most of the time I don't understand myself," he smirked, sending his friend a wink.
Before he could continue listening in into their conversation he heard Malfoy call his name from behind him, it took all his control not to let slip how startled he was. How had he not noticed him approaching?
"How was your day?" the blond-haired boy asked him, giving him a small smile before taking the available seat next to him, looking none the worse for wear, considering last night's…duel, if one could call it that.
As Malfoy settled himself next to him, the conversation he had with his year mates after class immediately slid into his mind. Now that Tom was paying attention to Abraxas he could easily tell that he was visibly restraining himself from looking over to where Peverell was sitting with Black.
So Lestrange and Dolohov had been right. How unfortunate.
Malfoy was a valuable ally to have. Tom couldn't very well handle him as he really wished to, preferably over a cliff. No, he would have to tread carefully but make it abundantly clear that Peverell was off-limits.
All he had to do was figure out a way to do that without revealing his unusual… desires towards the seventh-year. He would never allow anyone to know that he had such a weakness.
"Uneventful," he finally replied, going back to his Charms essay.
From the corner of his eyes, he glanced at the duo that had been sitting next to them and to his dismay noticed that they were packing to leave.
As they retreated he waited to see if Peverell would spare him a glace, even a quick flicker, but none came as he walked out, completely ignoring him as though he didn't even exist. No one ignored him. Soon enough Peverell would be no less ensnared by him than the rest of Hogwarts.
"I thought you would like to know that Avery finally managed to get up this afternoon. Nott went to check on him," Abraxas explained when he was able to tear his own eyes away from the retreating duo.
Tom raised a delicate eyebrow, surprised. With the state he was in last night he figured that he would need another couple of days to recover.
"Is that so," he murmured gently. "Is he fit enough to discuss last night's events?" he asked him, hardly caring if Avery was indeed fit, or rather, sane enough to do so.
Abraxas shifted in his seat uncomfortably. "He wasn't exactly in a sociable mood, but I am sure that he would make an exception for you," he quickly reassured when Tom narrowed his eyes at him.
"We leave now," he all but ordered, gathering his things.
Abraxas blinked and looked at the empty parchment and Runes book he had just gotten out of his bag, and back at Tom, who was now impatiently waiting for him.
"Of course," he nodded and swiftly got his things before Tom vocalised his irritation. Nothing good ever happened when he did.
His Runes essay would have to wait until after dinner.
"Do you really think that ignoring him is the best course of action?"
Harry was sitting on the roof of the astronomy tower, enjoying a clear night sky and the delightful company of his immortal friend.
"I'm not discussing this with you again," he sighed, not bothering to look away from what captivated his eyes.
"Yes, you repeatedly mention a plan. A plan which you've decided not to share with me. But I am starting to believe that Tom Riddle has no part in this plan. I think you're going to try and avoid him for long as you can," Death said, not bothering to hide his disapproval. This wasn't how things were meant to go.
Harry turned and gave his friend a menacing grin, making his friend's left eye twitch behind his dark hood.
"Tom Riddle is very much part of the plan," he reassured him with a dangerous glint in his eyes. "By the time I am done with him this time around, he won't dream of so much as looking at another witch or wizard. If he does? I'll exterminate him," he said frankly, his frightening smirk growing even larger, and at that moment he looked very much the insane wizard that he was.
For some reason, Death thought that his friend was hoping for the latter result.
"Here I was thinking that Alphard Black caught your attention," he mocked dryly. Harry's cheeks gained a hint of a blush as he looked away from his friend, deciding that it was better not to comment, which only led to Death cackling in dark amusement.
The last time they were there he hadn't had much interaction with the Black family, and Alphard had already graduated. This time Alphard was around to lavish him with mischievous smirks and blood boiling innuendos that ended up leaving him very distracted.
He may have been immortal and, in retrospect, very old, but he was a man. An insane, ancient man, but a man nonetheless, one with a youthful libido to boot.
But as much as he would like to think that he could start something with Alphard, he knew that those were delusional thoughts. He would never be able to do that, not with Tom being in the same time period.
Not when he looked as handsome as he ever had.
Not when he felt those possessive eyes on him every time they were in the same room.
Not when old memories of both of them together burned his mind every time he caught sight of him.
Not when he is still so undeniably in love with him.
Harry chuckled humorlessly, running a hand through his hair. Yes, he was indeed an insane fool.
"On another note, our other plans seem to be coming along nicely. Arcturus, in particular, is being admirably cooperative."
Harry chuckled and shrugged. "He does seem to like me more this time around," he said, grinning cheekily in that self-satisfied manner of his.
"You know that he's always had an unhealthy appreciation for you, don't try and play at being humble. It doesn't suit you," he scolded. "I just hadn't thought he would be willing to so openly listen to your suggestions."
"I've repeatedly warned you not to underestimate my charm. How many more centuries until you learn?" he asked Death, shaking his head in mock disappointment.
"At times like these you make it very hard for me to remember why we chose you," he sighed before silently vanishing.
"How rude," Harry muttered when he was left blinking at thin air.
Harry turned his eyes back to stars and sighed, clasping his hands together around his bent knees.
Everything was going as planned and coming along easier than expected, maybe a bit too easily, which left him very wary of the whole situation because nothing was ever easy for him. Yet there he was, once again trying to win Tom Riddle's heart.
During his original time he would have never thought that he would find himself trying to connect with Tom, he hadn't ever wanted to see him again, and he didn't, not for a very long time. He and Death spent the next few decades travelling through different time periods before nostalgia had hit him. It made him decide to try and stop Voldemort from existing to save the people he still carried with him in his heart.
He had come close, so very close, but in the end, it was a failure because he fell in love with the man Tom Marvolo Riddle and he, in turn, was in love with Harry, but it hadn't been enough—Harry hadn't been enough. So, Harry fled and events played out as they had done before because he had been unable to stop the man he had come to love.
Harry was on the roof of the astronomy tower, a place where he came to think or maybe to not think at all. He felt numb as he sat there looking at the stars, searching and memorising the ones he could no longer find.
He heard someone climbing up to join him, but he didn't turn around. Only one person knew to find him here.
"One of these days you're going to slip off this tower and die," he said as he settled next to him. Harry ignored him and continued searching the sky.
They sat in silence for the longest time before Tom sighed and ran an agitated hand through his hair. "I don't know what you want me to say, Harry," he hissed, grinding his teeth together.
An expressionless face and dead green eyes turned to look at him. "I don't think there is anything left to be said between us, Riddle," he said before turning his attention away from him and back to the stars.
Tom didn't say anything for a few moments, just watching the person sitting next to him and not recognising him.
"So you know," he said, sounding completely unapologetic but Harry didn't react to the insensitivity of his tone. "If that's settled," he sighed, annoyed. "I'll see you around. Best of luck with exams next week," he nodded before getting up and leaving.
As he started climbing back down Harry called out to him. Tom closed his eyes for a second before he turned to him, heart pounding within his chest.
"I know why you did it, Tom," he chuckled humorlessly and cleared his throat. "I want you to know that I know why you did it. You were afraid of the shift you felt inside you. So scared that your priorities were suddenly changing, isn't that right, Tom? You went to bed each night thinking of me and ways to keep me close rather than world domination," he chuckled again, darker this time and he shook his head. "Congratulations, you've managed to make the only person in the world that could ever love you, hate you. Embrace Voldemort, Tom, because he's all you'll ever have."
Harry quickly tore himself away from his memories and groaned, dropping his forehead to his knees, willing his unshed tears away.
He had given him everything, every last piece of his soul and it hadn't been enough. Why should this time be any different? Could he survive another heartbreak like that? It wasn't really a matter of surviving, no he didn't have the luxury of the afterlife or rebirth. His mind was another matter altogether because there was no doubt left inside him that another such rejection would push him over the brink of insanity he'd been balancing over for so very long.
He feared the person he would become and dreaded the consequences should his plan fail.
He would rather skip this whole process, but if humanity got another chance, than so did Tom Marvolo Riddle.