June 23rd, 2367
The world has been at war for over a century, and these days no one knows what peace feels like. Peace is so far removed from the scopes of reality that it has long since become a forgotten concept, not even whispered to the scared babes at night.
No, regrettably peace has not held reign over the world for far too many years. Instead, it has been ruled by conflict, hostility, and fear, creating an age of war the likes of which has never been seen before.
One hundred and thirty-eight years ago muggles found out about the wizarding world, a discovery which led to worldwide panic and chaos.
Muggles around the whole world became terrified and untrusting, caging themselves inside their homes for fear of their own shadows, but they didn't hide forever. No, it didn't take long for their paranoia to fester and grow. Terrified animals that they were, they quickly turned around to strike, too afraid that the wizarding world would be the first to destroy them.
No amount of diplomacy could get the muggle masses to understand the fact that they had been living in co-existence for centuries, even if they had been largely ignorant of it. And so, war broke out and hasn't stopped since.
The muggles were afraid, and they never stopped being afraid. That fear fueled their hatred and their agenda to destroy anything magical in the world - anything they didn't understand and couldn't control.
The first to go was the laughter and joy from all the adults because they knew how severely the world was going to change, but it didn't take long for the children to learn that there was nothing left to laugh about. Then all the children were gone.
Hope for peace was the next to vanish. After decades of never-ending battles, bloodshed, and loss there seemed to be no escaping the nightmare that has become everyone's life. There was no peace, not even amongst allies, because the hunger took over, that unquenchable and blood searing hunger to survive. The hunger took over, and there was nothing left but a need to devour.
The world as it was known stopped existing.
With each advancement the muggles made, they managed to break the world some more, forever incapable of learning to share the world as they were meant to, never understanding that magic was the sole reason they existed.
For over a century, absolute destruction and incomprehensible mayhem plagued the world, with no cure for the deeply rooted malady that brought the world to its shattered knees.
One hundred and thirty-eight years of war and it is all coming to a painful and deadly end because they found a way to destroy her, the mother of all that walks the earth. They managed to create an abomination that was going to destroy them all and Britain was the first the feel its wrath.
Two hours ago, London was fatally struck, leaving it to bleed out and drive the whole country into decay. No witch, wizard, muggle, or creature that had stayed was left alive. A pungent smell of death and toxins was all that remained of them.
A thick cloud of smoke and dirt covered the ruins of the city, and it was still growing larger, fueled by every last building that was still collapsing and burning.
Among the chaos and rubble, there was a lone surviving tower, atop which a raven-haired man silently appeared out of thin air. He stood completely still while wary and saddened eyes roamed over the debris, deep emerald cloak billowing wildly behind him in the wind. His broad looking shoulders quickly sagged as he took in the destruction that spread out in each direction.
To the raven-haired man's left, another figure appeared. A dark hooded man who stumbled in his step and almost collapsed to his knees, but the raven-haired man was quick to grab him by his shoulder for support.
"Too ma-many souls," the dark cloaked man managed to rasp out. "Too many at once," he said before crying out in unbearable pain.
"This is the end, isn't it?" the raven-haired man asked his longtime companion, voice raw with disuse and his rising distress.
The dark hooded man pushed himself up and tried to ignore the pain and anguish of all the passing souls. "They have chosen,'' he confirmed, not bothered to feign the same surprise his friend was feeling. He had more pressing matters to deal with than his companion’s somewhat delicate sensibilities.
''I didn't think... I honestly thought,'' the raven-haired man mumbled, trying to find words. ''I never imagined they would be so...''
''Ignorant and blind?'' supplied his companion unhelpfully as he curiously peeked at the fiery pits below them.
''Cruel and barbaric,'' he corrected unsteadily as he felt another anguished pulse vibrating up his limbs. These pulses were his mothers dying cries, drenched in her heartache and disappointment. ''How could they do this to her?'' he questioned, desperate to understand how it could all have gone so wrong. ''I can hear her tortured screams. Magic is dying, poisoned by these ungrateful creatures. How dare they!'' he roared into the raging storm.
Fed by his anger, the fires burning around them blazed higher, dancing ferociously to the beat of his broken heart. His green eyes were glinting dangerously bright amidst the encompassing darkness, making the earth beneath them shake violently.
"Calm yourself," snapped the dark hooded man commandingly, warily eyeing the burning buildings surrounding them. "It would do no good for you to exhaust or injure yourself right now."
"Could I have prevented this?'' he asked him in a whisper, his rage quickly extinguished by the fresh wave of guilt that came over him.
"It wasn't your responsibility to prevent this,'' he told him evasively, purposefully looking away from him.
"That's not what I asked you,'' the raven-haired man shot back viciously, momentarily unable to see past the haze of guilt that clouded his mind.
"Nothing is set in stone. Maybe you could have, or perhaps you couldn't. You, beyond anyone else traipsing the mortal world, should know this by now,'' he told him calmly, seemingly unbothered by his friend's temper.
"I swore to myself that I would never meddle with the affairs of humans again,'' the green-eyed man whispered brokenly to himself, trying to block the onslaught of nightmarish memories. "I've tried changing things before and that… well, that didn't work out.''
'No, it didn't,' his dark cloaked companion silently agreed. It had been a complete fiasco that had left his heart and world in shambles. It is also the reason his friend had never time-jumped again, preferring not to meddle with time or the human populous in general.
"I can't do nothing," he heard him mumble, and the dark cloaked man had to refrain himself from rolling his eyes.
Well, the world they are bound to is about to be destroyed. Yes, they are going to have to do something about it. If they didn't, it would be a terrible mess to fix.
"We're going back,'' the raven-haired man stated, voice flat and void of any emotion. "I cannot allow this to be the end. There must be a way to prevent this. You said yourself that nothing is set in stone."
"What are your plans?'' he asked him amusedly, shoving away the tortured screams of the passing souls.
"Save the bloody world, what else?''
"When exactly would you like to go?'' he asked curiously, still shoving away the tortured screams of the recently deceased.
"I don't know, could you pinpoint a few moments in history where I could have prevented this mess?'' he asked, gesturing towards the currently burning and crumbling building below them.
"I can only guess,'' his companion shrugged, but a plan was already taking shape in his mind.
Some one hundred and sixty-seven years ago his friend played a prank on him, one he didn't find particularly amusing. The end of the world seems to be the perfect opportunity for him to retaliate. He had always known that his patience would one day be handsomely rewarded.
There are about a few hundred possible time periods which they could go to, but there is one specific time period which his friend would preferably not visit. Thinking about it, he would probably want to skip that century altogether. While it might seem a bit harsh of him, in the end, after his friend has sufficiently suffered, he might finally get to have the happiness that he deserves.
During the heartwarming process of his happily ever after, this whole mess they were currently living in could be prevented, and the world and mother Magic saved.
Truly a win-win scenario.
Hopefully, his friend had learned something over their centuries together, enough not to repeat the same mistakes, and everything would work out as it should be. If it didn't, well if he didn't then at least he would have gotten his revenge. Besides, they could always go back again, maybe a bit further this time, far enough to prevent the existence of humans altogether. Magical and non-magical alike.
"Then give it your best guess. Anywhere is going to be better than here,'' the dark cloaked man heard his friend tell him.
"My utmost best,'' he agreed, trying to conceal his glee. Utmost best, indeed.
"See you at the veil,'' was all the green-eyed man said before he vanished into thin air.
A wicked smirk quickly appeared on the dark cloaked man's handsome face.
They were headed into a particularly exciting couple of decades.
June 23rd, 1941
Ministry of Magic
Harry Potter stumbled out of the of the other side of the veil, just barely able to keep his face from greeting the floor.
"There was no need to push me,'' he grumbled as he straightened out his black silk shirt and emerald cloak. "Wouldn't have taken so long if you had just told me when you were going to send me to.''
As he said this, Harry looked around the familiar room with a foreboding feeling rising in his chest.
He subtly sniffed the air and frowned.
"Did you sniff the air just now?'' his intimidating companion asked in a flat tone, appearing behind him with his dark hood still in place.
Harry ignored him and stepped off the dais and away from the veil, once again sniffing the air.
It smelled like ashes, dirt, pollution, and death.
It stank like the war they had just come from, only less toxic.
"You took me away from one war zone into another war zone?'' he questioned him with complete incredulity because he couldn't possibly have-
"You never specified that it was a time of peace you wanted to travel to,'' his friend shrugged nonchalantly, successfully hiding his devious glee.
"I would assume that since we were fleeing Doomsday , it was bloody well implied! Tell me we didn't land in the middle of Riddle's uprising,'' he pleaded with him, acidic panic already rising within his chest.
"We didn't,'' he said. But before Harry could take in a relieved breath he continued, "not exactly…'' he trailed off mysteriously.
Harry groaned and ran a hand through his hair. "What's that supposed to mean?'' he questioned, irritated by his friend's antics.
"We are not technically during his uprising in the way that you mean," came another cryptic answer.
Instead of asking his companion to clarify and risk another one of those cryptic answers , he mulled over his words a bit , because no one reaches his ancient age without learning to crack a few riddles.
'Not in the way that you mean', he said, which can only translate to 'another one of Riddle's uprisings that you were not thinking of at the time', but he couldn't possibly...
Death is his friend, his comrade, his best mate forever—literally.
He wouldn't do this to him, not after the last time they came back around this time period.
But there was that prank, what was it? One hundred and fifty-something years ago. He's over it, isn't he? He wouldn't think of getting back at him now. Death didn't hold grudges that long.
As soon as he finished that last thought he blinked and was gone.
The next second, he silently appeared in an ally a few blocks away from the Ministry of Magic.
Harry quickly took in his surroundings and immediately felt like crying.
So maybe Death wasn't over it.
He saw a newspaper flying his way and quickly reached out to snatch it. Flipping it around he noticed that it was a pretty clean copy, must have recently flown out of someone's hands.
He searched the corner for a date and cursed. 23rd June 1941. Bugger.
"This is for that prank I pulled on you some hundred and fifty years ago, isn't it?" he asked his friend morosely as his situation started to sink in.
"Hundred sixty-seven if we are going to throw around numbers,'' smirked his very smug companion. At least it sounded like he was smirking. Wretched hood. Bastard.
"We've been here before, Death. I have already tried this and failed, or do you not recall?" he asked in a dangerously calm tone.
His body was rigid as he tried to contain his absolute rage and fear, but his shining emerald eyes gave him away, unable to hide the multitude of emotions that were rising havoc inside him.
"You're older now. You will not repeat the same mistakes as before," he tried to reassure his friend as much as himself.
"Older does not necessarily mean wiser! Especially not when it comes to him and me," he implored his friend to understand. This couldn't end in anything but disaster.
"He's younger this time," Death tried to convince him, but Harry just shook his head.
"He's fourteen! He's already been through every horror imaginable, and committed atrocities no child his age should be capable of. He's already him," Harry insisted.
"He has yet to spill any blood,'' Death reminded him, but Harry just glared and quickly protested.
"You seem to forget that I value each life, however insignificant to you. Creatures have already bled under his hands. Minds have been tortured, and souls seduced,'' he said, trying to make his friend see what a horrible mistake this is.
"You know that he is not yet the devil you paint him to be," Death persisted, growing increasingly irate with his friend. Why did he have to choose someone so stubborn as a companion?
"Why not send me back to when he was a babe? Why not let me try to raise him to be better? Instead, you chose to torture me."
The air around them chilled as Death tried and failed to contain his irritation. "And what of the balance? He might not have committed his crimes in this time, but his soul is tainted by the heinous act of its defiling. Tearing your soul in such a grotesque manner, such magic isn't reversed and ignored, and you know that. He held no remorse, so he had to suffer. Magic demands balance, however grateful she may be for your intervention."
Fearing an oncoming snowstorm, Harry decided not to argue.
"So, I’m to go to Hogwarts." It wasn't a question. He could try and avoid Hogwarts and Riddle all he liked, Death would find a way to shove them together.
"You think that by saving Riddle, I'll save the world." Again, not a question and he agreed. If Riddle had been slightly less unhinged, he might have led the world into greatness. If Riddle wasn't such a psychopathic, treacherous, genocidal, cheating, megalomaniac… Erm, yes, but he was- is.
"It might be a step in the right direction," Death agreed, sounding more joyous than he had in decades.
"Right,'' Harry sighed and slumped against the wall behind him, unbothered by the dirt and grime that covered every inch of the alley he was hidden in.
"If I have to kill him again, it's over. I want them all gone. Each and every single undeserving human on this earth. We'll wipe it clean and start over."
"Sounds like we have a plan B, my friend,'' he readily agreed, already knowing what their next course of action would have to be.
"I can't allow them to hurt her again, she won't survive,'' Harry muttered sadly, kneeling down to place his hand on the ground.
"So you feel it?'' Death asked him, sounding uncharacteristically concerned and sad.
Harry gave him a curt nod and sighed. "She's still in unbearable pain. Mother will need to recuperate her energy, and it's going to take her a long time. Sending us here in the state she was in took a lot out of her."
"The echo will never leave her, but fear not, she will thrive again," he consoled him as best as he could but refrained from patting his shoulder.
"I am undeserving of being her son. Look what I allowed to happen to her," he mumbled, voice full of self-loathing, dragging his nails across the dirt and clenching them into his fist.
"It is not our place to meddle in the choices of men. Every soul must be tested. We are here now, that is all that matters," Death reminded him gently but firmly.
"Am I not here to meddle in the choices of men?" he asked him sarcastically, misdirected venom dripping from his words.
"Yes, you are," he said naturally, ignoring his friend's acidity. "Because we have clearly seen what leaving them to their own devices will lead to. They will need all the help they can get if we are to decide not to obliterate their species."
Harry chuckled humorlessly. "And I am to start with Riddle? Obviously, the easiest person to turn to our side."
"Indeed, we are going to have to start small, and young Riddle is just the perfect place to start."
Harry decided to not say anything at all and just closed his eyes. This was all a very bad dream. He would soon wake up in his comfortable bed and beautiful view atop a mountain, deep in the African continent.
"Don't fret, young Harry,'' Death encouraged, pinching him and therefore ruining his last shred of hope.
He groaned as he rubbed his upper left arm. "Not dreaming then,'' he said as he opened his eyes again.
"We have two months to get your affairs in order after all."
"Priorities, Death. Priorities," he deadpanned. "I'll go ahead and assume that you won't be so kind as to pick another point in history where I can start stopping the world from being burned to ashes? You know, for instance, any point before Riddle's existence."
Death didn't think that he needed to dignify that with an answer. There was a prank. There were female demons involved, and that is all he would add to that.
"Well if that is settled,'' Harry grumbled sarcastically. "Welcome to the 1940s, Potter," he said, waving his right hand dramatically.
"You're going to have to change your name."
"Will you please not start acting like this is my first trip through time! I'll have you know that I was-"
"-only thirteen when I took my first trip into the past. I know. I was witness to the fiasco that was you helping your godfather escape."
"It was not a fiasco," he cried, vehemently defending his early adventures in the wizarding world.
"It could have gone more smoothly,'' teased Death.
"I was thirteen."
"Closer to fourteen, really."
"You mentioned something about getting my affairs in order?"
October 3rd, 1941
Somewhere behind heavy wards in Scotland
Tom Marvolo Riddle understood the concept of distractions, even if he himself had never before suffered from such nugatory disturbances.
His purpose and aspirations always stood unrelenting in the very forefront of his mind, and there had been nothing in existence that could deter him from his endeavours, and for such he had been admired and praised by everyone that knew him. In the magical world at least.
Nothing could ever distract him, and yet here he found himself again, with bright emerald green breaking through all of his mental shields.
The colour invaded his clear mind and muddled it with resentment and a newly acquired ability he thought himself incapable of.
Of course, Tom understood the burning sensation of desire, knew intimately the torrid pulses that seared the body in desperate need. He wasn't above desire, and he desired numerous things, like power, control, immortality, and respect. He craved to achieve greatness, be the most talented, most recognized. He sought his name to be known among all men, women, children, and creatures, but never before had he desired another witch or wizard.
He'd desired to control them for his own means, undoubtedly, but he had never lusted for anyone based on their attraction and appeal alone.
Such a thing was incomprehensible to him.
Yes, he understood what society as a general whole categorized as beautiful and attractive. He, himself could admit that he found certain features more attractive than others, but it had never provoked more than natural arousal and a need to satisfy himself.
He had experienced sexual pleasure and the obvious calming release that ensued. Just as any other boy his age, he was undergoing the process of puberty, however trivial he found it.
But sexual pleasure was not what truly satisfied him and got his blood boiling. What did was to gain whatever he coveted, be it connections, special artefacts, knowledge, or simply the control and complete submission from a follower.
He understood how a 'normal' person would react to a person they find attractive, he had, after all, more than enough experience with how people reacted to him. They looked at him with such obscene hunger, hardly able to curb their need to catch his attention at every turn.
Throughout the years he had observed and used people's desires against them. He'd never completely understood their lust for him, the need to belong to someone, but he accepted it and found out that it was yet another weapon to use in his favour, another way to control.
He had long since accepted that he wasn’t normal, that he was different—better, unchained by such fruitless emotions such as lust and infatuation. He didn't want to be like everyone else—average. Average people do not achieve the greatness he desired.
Even so, for the past month, his blood had been boiling, and his stomach clenching and twisting in uncomfortable knots at even the slightest thought of emerald green and raven black.
Tom Marvolo Riddle had been degraded to an accelerated heart rate, vein pulsating in his neck with rushing blood, like some… some… pubescent girl.
He could almost taste the adrenalin as it urged him to do something, anything to quell this intolerable and salacious hunger.
He now understood perfectly and preferred he didn't.
He had been right, it was a weakness, but he wasn't going to let it control him.
That was why he hadn't stopped Abraxas Malfoy and Caius Avery when they had hinted that they were going out to find their newest classmate and teach him a lesson on the Slytherin hierarchy, which he seemed so disinclined to accept and follow.
The raven-haired new student seemed to be quiet and very reserved. He tried his best to stay out of everyone's way, preferring solitude to the company of others and quite unwilling to socialize with his peers for even a moment. In fact, the only people Tom had seen him speak with at length were the seventh-year Slytherin Prefect, Alphard Black, and his cousin Orion.
Tom had to admit that he admired the cunning and aesthetic way the boy had managed to rebuff the attention he had gotten in the first few days of his arrival, when it was first revealed that he was heir to house Peverell. He had done it so perfectly that until that morning he had been forgotten by most, just not by Tom.
He didn’t personally share any classes with the boy, with him being a fourth-year and Peverell being a seventh-year student, but he was told that he didn't speak in class unless called upon and seemed to be averagely powerful. Nothing that would draw anyone's attention and very easily forgotten.
So why hadn't Tom forgotten about him?
His beauty and Lordship status that had initially garnered their peers’ attention held no real value to him, so why was he bothered by the fact that no one managed to get more information on the mysterious new seventh-year student?
Hadrian James Peverell, Lord of his house as proven by the signet ring that he wore, was previously homeschooled by his traveller parents. Because he’d been recently orphaned due to the war raging outside of Hogwarts, he'd decided to attend Hogwarts as per his parents' last request - for him to properly finish his education and further his chances at an apprenticeship within the castle. That was all anyone knew about the boy.
Hadrian Peverell spent most of his time in the library and was rarely ever seen at any of the meals, and it was an even rarer sight to catch him in the common room.
Because of the gap in their ages, he wasn't privy to Peverell's sleeping patterns, but from what he had been told, his curtains were always drawn and when they weren't, he wouldn't get back before they'd all slept and would be out before anyone woke up.
Because of this, one could understand why, when said new Slytherin classmate was seen walking and laughing in the corridors between classes with seventh-year Gryffindor Golden Boy Fleamont Potter, the consensus was shock, indignation, disapproval, rage, and lastly, revolt.
The house of Slytherin was not going to stand for such an insult.
Tom had said nothing when he had seen the effortless camaraderie they seemed to share. He hadn't allowed his feet to stop moving and he hadn't allowed his hand to tremble. He hadn't allowed himself to show the rage he felt at the nauseating scene he had had the misfortune to witness.
He hadn't uttered a word about it, unlike the rest of the Hogwarts population and had tried, in vain, to push the situation out of his mind. He would not succumb to this weakness.
For the rest of the day, he hid behind his perfected mask of cool indifference and ignored a situation he would usually have a hand in rectifying. Why? Because he couldn't allow himself to speak, lest his jealousy manages to take control of his actions and sways him to act upon this urge to dispose of both men. He could imagine how beautiful it would be to watch the life drain out of Potter's eyes before he collapsed limply in his own pool of blood. Yes, the satisfaction would taste all too sweet, topped only by Peverell's own demise.
Tom shook himself out of these fantasies and shot a quick glance at the clock hanging atop the fireplace, noticing that it had already been over an hour since Malfoy and Avery had taken their leave from the common room. Another ten minutes and they would miss curfew.
No one had left to their rooms yet. Everyone was still about, waiting for Malfoy and Avery's return so they would find out the damage that had been inflicted and wanting to collect on their bets. Maybe even vindictively waiting to catch a glimpse of the victim.
How long would he be unconscious for? Two days or maybe a month? Had they severed a limb?
No one doubted that retribution would be dealt, not even himself.
No one cared for Peverell's wellbeing, so why was he so anxious? What was this uncomfortable aching pang in his heart when he thought of Peverell being hurt? Had he not just fantasized about taking the boy's life himself?
This was all too foreign to him. He didn't understand. It was unclear, and things had always been clear to him. He didn't like this new development, and he wouldn’t tolerate it. He would get himself under control. Things would be clear again. Hadrian Peverell was no one, and this beating he was being served would extinguish any appeal Tom had towards him. He was sure of it, because he hated weak and pathetic people and that is what Abraxas and Caius would render him to.
Excited chattering, giggling, and mocking laughter was quickly stolen by the ear-shattering bang of the entrance door slamming open.
Each and every head in the common room turned towards the entrance and watched the imposing figure of Hadrian Peverell emerge from the shadows of the alcoves with two beaten and bloodied bodies levitating behind him.
The silence that followed was out-measured only by the suffocating presence of Hadrian Peverell's magic. It was wild and uncontained, lashing out and filling the room.
Power. So much raw power. How had he managed to conceal this amount of magic?
As soon as he’d felt it, it was gone.
No one uttered a single word, and it was as if everyone had simultaneously stopped breathing, including Tom. No one moved when Peverell dropped the rope-bound bodies to the ground, this incomprehensible situation seemingly having rendered the whole of Slytherin house immobile.
Tom marvelled at the complete nonchalance in which he disposed of the two bodies, and once again his stomach knotted and the skin at the back of his neck felt fevered. Had he not been distracted by the sudden surge of arousal, he would have noticed that there was no wand in sight.
Peverell's face was impassive as he let his eyes trail over the whole room, completely unscathed from the duel that must have taken place just a few minutes before.
''I'm not quite sure if you all understand the meaning of this display,'' he started with a deep, velvety voice that carried dangerously over the ringing silence, gesturing towards the unmoving bodies. Tom was unable to suppress his shiver at the darkness that caressed him.
''But as I would like to not have to resort to these measures again, I shall indulge you with an explanation,'' he continued, inspecting his nails in an act of easy indifference. It was as amusing as it was insulting, but Tom managed to bite back his smirk.
''These two fools,'' Peverell sighed exasperatedly, ''bound at my feet, had the audacity to believe they were allowed to dictate who I am to spend my time with. Furthermore, they tried to hurt an acquaintance of mine. Not to worry,'' he smiled wickedly, making some of the younger students whimper, “they quickly learned the consequences of such uncouth actions. Rest assured that the next time anyone presumes they are able to control me or tries to hurt anyone I decide to associate with, they will not be dealt with as generously, and such people should be wary of my retaliation.''
Once he was sure his threat had set in, Peverell's eyes snapped towards Tom. His expression was still stoic and impassive, but his eyes had narrowed slightly, flashing in a warning that, no, he was not exempt from this threat.
Rage struck his every nerve, clashing wildly with lust for this boy who dared challenge him.
Peverell suddenly took three steps in his direction and came to a stop just two feet away from his sitting position in his armchair. He tilted his head to the side, hair falling into his eyes as he assessed him.
Tom cocked an inquisitive eyebrow at him but dared to do no more, curious to hear what the boy had to say to him.
''Now, we wouldn't want our house's reputation to suffer because of a couple of imbeciles, so I shan't speak with Slughorn, just this once. Please do try and keep a tighter hold on that leash of yours,'' was all he said before he turned around and left, seemingly unbothered by the fact that it was now well past curfew.
Once the portrait hole shut behind Peverell, Tom turned to the two bound fools still lying helplessly on the floor.
''I want to speak with the sixth-year boys in their dorm room immediately.'' He didn't have to raise his voice; it carried through the room in dangerous waves filled with the promise of punishment, should anyone refuse his orders. He stood and made his way to the stairs, leaving his other associates to deal with the bound boys.
His mind was reeling. How was this possible? How had he managed to best Malfoy and Avery?
Peverell hadn't shown any spectacular abilities in class, his work mediocre at best. He shouldn’t have been able to hold a candle against Avery, yet the dark, enraged power that had been pulsating and radiating around Peverell had been real. The promise to hurt had been real, as was the deep seething malice that had taken his breath away.
The door swung open and Nott walked in, his shoulder loaned to Malfoy, whilst Lestrange and Rosier had to carry Avery's trembling body inside.
Avery was shaking uncontrollably, and his face was devoid of any colour besides the fresh blood that was running down his cheeks from the open wound in his head. His hair was matted to his tear and sweat slickened face, and his eyes were shut in pain. He was a complete mess and unable to use any of his limbs, whimpering and groaning with each step he took.
From the state Avery was in, Tom gathered that he hadn't been the only one to throw around a few dark curses.
Lestrange and Rosier looked at him for permission to set him down, which he gave.
Once they placed Avery onto the bed, they all turned to him, waiting for him to speak.
Tom’s eyes snapped to Abraxas, whose face was lowered in shame and fear, but his body was locked, presumably because of the shock he was going through.
He was in much better shape than Avery, but still had a red streak of blood tainting his dishevelled platinum blond hair, and his robes were torn in several places.
''Explain to me how Hadrian Peverell managed to get the best of you,'' he requested calmly, but the threat in his voice was obvious.
''We f-found him with P-Potter, b-but P-Peverell, it was Peverell. Fleamont didn't have to l-lift a finger,'' Abraxas stuttered, clenching his jaw whilst shaking his head. His hands were clenched at his side, trying unsuccessfully to keep them from trembling. His face was hidden away by his long blond hair, an indication that he had lost control over his emotions and was unable to reign in his obvious terror. ''I-I'm not s-sure...'' he trailed of shuddering, unable to finish his thought.
What had Hadrian Peverell done to them exactly?
''What do you mean, you're unsure? Were you not conscious when he attacked you and Avery?'' Tom hissed at him.
''I was,'' he whispered in a way that spoke loudly of how he wished he hadn't been. ''I don't understand. It's impossible,'' he mumbled, locking his stormy blue eyes with Tom's grey ones for the first time since his arrival.
What Tom saw had him almost stumbling back. Abraxas was terrified, completely panic-stricken and frantic, flighty. He wanted to escape. Not Tom, but the memories of Hadrian Peverell.
''They were disarmed,'' he continued, voice pitched with hysterical incredulity.
This caught their attention; everyone's heads snapping to Abraxas, and Avery released a whimper from his bed.
''Do you mean to insinuate that Hadrian Peverell bested you both wandlessly?'' Impossible. Wandless casting was nearly impossible to master, almost unheard of. Wizards and witches needed their wands for a reason—that reason being the need to focus and channel their magic. One didn’t just go around performing complex wandless magic.
Of course, Tom was able to cast a select few spells wandlessly, but not any dark spells like the kind that seem to have been inflicted on his housemates.
''See for yourself,'' Abraxas offered, his eyes never leaving him. ''Because I have no words,'' he confessed, completely disturbed by what he had been witness to that night.
Tom took the invitation and without a second thought invaded his mind. Abraxas’s mental walls were down and the memory he wanted was offered freely for his viewing.
Abraxas and Avery rounded the corner of an abandoned hallway close to the library when they had finally found the subject of their ire leaning against the wall, smiling gently at the Gryffindor boy who seemed to be rambling and gesturing wildly with his hands, presumably talking about Quidditch.
''Peverell, so glad we've run into you,'' Avery called out to them, instantly halting their conversation.
Potter spun around, glare instantly falling onto his face, whilst Peverell just tilted his head to the side. The smile was gone from his face but there was no outwardly sign of hostility, just slight irritation at being interrupted.
''Malfoy, Avery,'' he acknowledged but didn't move from his position, whilst Potter already had his wand in his hand, ready for the attack.
''We would like to have a few words with you, Peverell,'' Abraxas requested, and the command didn't go unheard.
''That so,'' Peverell commented bemused. ''Why don't you go on and head to your tower, Fleamont, I'll speak to you tomorrow,'' he told Potter without moving his eyes away from the two Slytherins in front of him.
''I think I'll stay a while,'' Potter told him resolutely, probably knowing what they had planned for their housemate.
''You better listen to him, Potter,'' Avery spat, taking another step forward. ''You don't want to find yourself in an uncomfortable situation,'' he warned but, obviously, the Gryffindor wasn't about to move and leave his friend behind to be attacked. He was a Gryffindor and therefore had no sense of self-preservation.
''How about you watch yourself, Avery. I may not be Head Boy, but I am still a prefect,'' Potter threatened, causing both Malfoy and Avery to chuckle.
''Gentlemen,'' Peverell intervened. ''Must there be such hostility in the air?'' he questioned, wrinkling his nose as if disgusted with the display.
''You seem to need a reminder of your place, Peverell,'' Abraxas said, none too pleased with Peverell’s nonchalant behaviour.
''And you wish to be the one to remind me, Malfoy?'' Peverell asked him with a raised brow.
''Your insolence will be punished,'' Avery promised, smiling cruelly at Peverell, but the boy wasn't shaken.
''My insolence? What have I done to offend your delicate sensibilities?'' Peverell asked with a tone of genuine curiosity, which Tom knew to be completely ingenuine. Potter chuckled lightly, drawing Avery's attention once again back to him.
''Slytherins do not associate with Gryffindors, especially not when they don't have the common courtesy to associate with their own house,'' Abraxas told Peverell airily. ''What have we done to offend you so that you would shun us so publicly?'' he asked, and Tom could feel the genuine curiosity behind his question. It had been running through everyone's mind for the whole day, so he couldn't be blamed for asking.
''I see,'' Peverell mumbled, licking his lower lip. ''So, you wish to decide with whom I keep company based on the sole reason that I was sorted into Slytherin house. I also seem to have overstepped some form of boundaries that the Slytherin hierarchy has set up, and because I have overstepped said boundaries, by associating with a blood traitor, you now wish to teach me a lesson in the name of Slytherin house for my ghastly betrayal. You wish to assert dominance over me and show me that I am at the very bottom of this hierarchy, meaning that my freedom is yours to do with as you please; this based on the account of my unknown blood-status, and presumably powerless state, as opposed to the obvious superiority of outstanding pure-bloods such as yourselves. Have I left anything out?''
His question was left unanswered as hexes and curses started flying.
Peverell didn't attack, just shielded and dodged the spells effortlessly, and Potter was holding his own until Abraxas managed to finally disarm him.
Avery took the opportunity and sent a bone-breaker at Potter, which Peverell managed to shield him from at the last second, but the distraction was enough to allow Avery to disarm Peverell, wand flying towards him and caught with acute reflexes.
The duel should have been over; Malfoy and Avery had won. They now had the upper hand, but it was only Potter that looked marginally nervous at having no wand to defend himself with.
''I guess pretty words are all you're worth, Peverell,'' Avery mocked as he twirled the newly won wand in his hand.
Peverell nodded, but neither noticed the small smirk that twitched at the edges of his lips. ''That's right Avery. Now give Potter back his wand and let him leave. It is, after all, I that has slighted you,'' Peverell tried to bargain.
''I don't think so, Peverell. Potter needs to be taught a lesson of his own,'' Abraxas mentioned lightly. ''Don't you think so, Avery? It seems like too good an opportunity to miss.''
Had they been paying attention to Peverell they would have noticed the fire that flashed in his eyes. They would have noticed his subdued back straightening and his jaw setting in determination.
He had allowed his housemates their fun, but threatening his friend seemed to have crossed some line for Peverell.
''I wouldn't do that if I were you, Avery,'' Peverell warned, all pretences dropping. His voice gained a dangerous edge to it and his eyes flashed brightly in warning.
''Have you forgotten that you're wandless, Peverell?'' Avery reminded him, face contorted in fury when he noticed that the boy wasn't cowering in fear and submission.
''Last warning,'' Peverell threatened, garnering an incredulous look even from Potter.
Without warning, Avery aimed a Crucio towards Potter, but once again Peverell saved him, and Tom had to wonder if the boy had been sorted into the correct house.
Peverell stepped in front of the torture curse for Potter and Tom could feel Abraxas's incredulity mixing with his own. Why on earth would anyone step in front of such a curse for anyone, let alone a boy whom you've known for less than a month?
Incredulity made way for shock and sheer amazement at the fact that the man under the torture curse had yet to release a single scream. His body was convulsing with the agony that he was under, but his eyes held strong as steel as he fell to one knee under the pressure of absolute pain.
Abraxas turned to a now wide-eyed Avery, whose grip on his wand had slackened in shock. Avery gasped, and his jaw dropped. The reaction urged Abraxas to turn his head back to Peverell, and he too lost his composure, eyes wide open and jaw firmly unhinged.
Horror, that was the only emotion cursing through Abraxas as he watched Peverell stand up whilst still under the Cruciatus.
Tom watched fascinated as the raven-haired man flicked his wrist and disarmed them both at once, all four wands flying to the other end of the corridor and out of reach.
The next second Peverell had Abraxas thrown into the wall with a sickening crunch and as soon as his fallen body touched the ground, it was bound in tight black ropes. Horror increased to panicked terror at being bound and helpless against the man whose magic was suffocating him.
Tom felt the memory of the darkness that had wrapped around Abraxas like a blanket, and it took all his self-control not to moan aloud.
''Leave, Potter,'' Peverell commanded, his attention focused solely on Avery, who was now kneeling at his feet, unable to move. When a few seconds of silence went by Peverell forcefully ordered again. ''Now, Potter! Not a word about this to anyone,'' he warned without sparing him a glance.
''R-right. Okay,'' Potter stuttered, looking at him with awe-filled eyes. ''Not a word,'' he promised, and with one last glance at the man that had just saved him, he scurried off.
Once Potter was out of sight Peverell lifted his hand, and with it Avery rose into the air, his eyes widening in fear when he started choking and gasping for breath, struggling against the invisible force that held him in place.
''Don't worry,'' Peverell said soothingly. ''You're allowed to scream. No one will hear you,'' he promised sadistically.
Then the screaming started, agonized screams telling of pain and a wish to die. Tom watched as Avery convulsed, his body snapping in all odd directions as Peverell held him up in mid-air.
Tears started streaming down his face, and his lungs were starting to give out, choked sobs mixing into the screams.
Tom could feel Abraxas's need to look away from the scene, but he found himself unable to move his head or even close his eyes. So he was helplessly stuck watching his friend getting tortured with just a few gestures and clenching of Peverell's fingers.
Peverell held whatever spell he had cast for over a minute before Avery found himself slammed down to the ground, surely breaking a few of his ribs, before he bound him with the same ropes Abraxas was bound in, struck immobile and soundless.
''I warned you,'' he told them. ''I shall go ahead and assume that you now know better than to try another attack on my person, or on any other one of my acquaintances,'' he told them drolly, completely unaffected by what he had just done to his housemates.
Having seen enough, Tom retreated from Abraxas's mind. Abraxas was the first to look away, staggering against Nott who had gone to his side when he started shaking mid-memory.
Tom had no words for what he had just seen because it was impossible. He could now understand Abraxas's stuttering and inability to explain what happened. He could now understand his terror and panic. They had gone to teach the boy a lesson and, instead, they had found a master that dealt them enlightenment they wouldn't soon forget.
The show of uninhibited power and complete control had been both glorious and alarming.
His eyes had flashed so viciously it had Tom almost gasping for air as he ached with need.
His defiance under torture had been alluring, sending a rush of heated shivers down his spine before turning his blood to ice.
His sadistic retribution had been delicious and terrifying.
Who is this boy that wielded so much power that rivalled and surpassed his own? How had no one noticed this before? How had he not noticed such a threat?
Why would he hide such talent and prowess, seemingly uninterested in politics? What cards exactly was he holding up his sleeves?
He stood corrected. Hadrian's sorting had by no means been a mistake. No, Hadrian Peverell seemed to be the embodiment of Slytherin qualities.
Harry Peverell was perfection, and Tom wanted him. He wanted his loyalty, devotion, and protection as Potter seemed to have it. Wanted to own his mind and learn each one of his dark secrets. Wanted him begging on his knees, vying for his attention, unable to live without him.
He couldn't oppose such power, and he didn't want to.
Peverell may have been powerful, but he was ruled by his emotions just like everyone else. He had seen it when Avery started threatening Potter; gone had been the cool indifference, replaced by immeasurable fury.
Hadrian Peverell could be controlled, and Tom would take immense pleasure in breaking him and making him his.
I would like to thank my beta KingOMalley for all the edits done to deliver the best possible version of this chapter to the readers! I honestly doubt that I would have been able to attract as many readers without your help.
I would also like to thank all the readers that took an interest in my story, and an extra special thanks to those that took the time to leave a comment. I'm glad that you're finding the plot somewhat original ^_^ I'm going to try my best to keep you on your toes.
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.
November 12th, 1941
There were several reasons why Harry had initially argued so vehemently against going back to Hogwarts, besides wanting to avoid Tom that is. For starters, he hadn’t particularly fancied the thought of keeping up the charade of being a normal seventeen-year-old boy and having to go through the seventh-year curriculum for the third time. Then there was the fact that he was once again going to be surrounded by severely personality-lacking, prejudiced children . From experience, Harry knew that mortals around that age weren’t exactly stimulating company.
There were a million other reasons why he’d been so set against going back to Hogwarts, reasons that saw him avoiding Hogwarts grounds for 389 years. Yet there he was, back to face all the ghosts and memories he’d run away from.
It is true that Hogwarts used to be a place of comfort and a symbol of hope. It is also true that he’d made some memories there that he was rather fond of, but unfortunately they were all tainted by the steady pain of loss. Such was the curse of being an Immortal—outliving everyone that had ever touched your heart.
Over the past few centuries, Harry thought that he’d managed to sever any ties and responsibilities he felt he had towards the mortals roaming the earth, even if he’d never quite mastered the absolute indifference Death felt towards everyone that wasn’t Harry. In any case, he’d done a fine job of keeping out of everyone’s business and pretending that he didn’t care two wits about anything, but that’s all he’d done, pretend and deceive himself.
While Harry had known that being back at Hogwarts would be painful and make him feel uncomfortable, he hadn’t known that it was going to be like this—haunted at every corner by a multitude of memories from different timelines, all of them evoking several complex emotions he didn’t much care to dwell on. No, he didn’t care to dwell on them at all, but it was becoming increasingly hard for him to simply ignore the mess of emotions building inside him.
The nights spent within the castle walls were by far the worst. When everyone’s gone to sleep, leaving the castle deadly quiet and without any distractions for him to cling to, his subconscious tended to stir in directions he wasn’t at all comfortable with. Even in his sleep, he found no respite, not when his dreams were plagued by vivid scenes he’d rather not relive.
Unfortunately, tonight was no different. Harry was in his bed, limbs tangled distressfully around black, Egyptian silk sheets. His features were twisted into a glare, and his eyes were fluttering restlessly behind his eyelids. His skin looked fevered, a sheen of sweat had already gathered around his brows. His shoulders were tense and he was clutching a fistful of his sheets as he agitatedly turned his head from side to side.
He was haunted by memories tonight, just as he was any other night.
Loud footsteps could be heard resonating around the dark and empty corridor, sounding rushed in their purposeful strides and eager to reach their destination. Quickly, one after the other the steps fell in place, and if you listened closely enough, you could hear the faint but telling tune of a heartbroken man in flight, desperate for escape. Then, if you cared enough, you might find yourself wondering about the possible circumstances that led such a powerful man, one able to produce such heavy steps, to flee.
On that ordinary winter day, Hogwarts castle found Harry walking briskly down its cold hallways, trying his very best to earn his mastery in evading one Tom Marvolo Riddle.
Over the past week, he had been gracefully successful in avoiding him, but he was willing to bet that it was only so because Tom hadn't bothered to seek him out. He had actually acted as if he didn't exist which was fine with Harry, he very much preferred it that way. It didn't sting at all. It truly didn't.
Now though, now he had this foreboding feeling building inside him, telling him that his luck was about to run out on him. Probably because Tom had unfortunately managed to catch Harry’s gaze before he was able to exit their shared Runes class.
Sure enough, just a few short steps away from being able to cleanly make his way through one of the secret passages, he heard his name being called out from behind him, freezing him in place. He stopped walking but didn't turn around. No, looking at Riddle would be a grave mistake, mostly because if he did he was liable to hex him to oblivion, but also because he didn't trust himself to look into those beautiful, deceiving grey eyes of his.
"Harry James Stevenson, is it me or have you been avoiding me?" Tom asked him when he was close enough to use a civilised volume, always so well mannered in public. Harry was surprised that he’d actually called his name from halfway up the corridor. It was so very unlike him and so very uncouth. He must have really wanted to talk to him. Tough.
Harry sighed and kept on walking, past the secret passageway and towards what promised to be a vexing conversation.
Tom glared at the back of his head but gave him an inch and decided to follow after him. "You're acting completely irrational," he informed him in that arrogant tone of his. Harry felt like punching him in the face, but instead, he picked up his pace and continued walking, focusing on his breathing.
Tom quickly caught up to him and growled impatiently next to him.
Not about to be pushed around, Harry instantly snapped at him. "No one asked you to run after me, Riddle," he told him, trying his best to sound callous. "If my attitude is bothering you, you can turn right back around to where you came from," he said, still not sparing him a glance.
It appeared that Tom was done being polite because he grabbed Harry by his arm and turned him around, bringing them both to an abrupt stop. Green crashed violently and stubbornly with grey, neither willing to submit to the other, and so they were stuck in battle.
"Will you stop acting like a child?" Tom snarled at him before roughly pushing Harry back into the cold stone wall.
Harry narrowed his eyes and shoved him away, not about to let Tom haul him around as he saw fit. "You've got some fucking nerve," he raged, still trying very hard not to punch in his perfect face. "You're unbelievable, calling me a child when you're the one that can't handle a mature relationship," he growled, no longer sounding unaffected.
Tom’s shoulders immediately tensed as he tried to hold back a flinch at the cutting truth of that accusation.
Tom took in a deep breath and composed himself before things could get any further out of hand. He didn't need to make Harry any angrier with him than he already was. No, that would defeat the whole purpose of going through all this gruelling trouble in the first place.
What he needed was for Harry to cave and be compliant because, for some unknown reason, this man was able to hold his interest, as proven to him over the past week of his and Harry's mutual avoidance.
It wasn't as if he hadn't tried to forget about him and move on just as he’d done so many times before. The possibility that it would be difficult or, rather, impossible for him to do so had never even crossed his mind.
Once he and Harry parted ways he had honestly tried to force Harry out of his thoughts but found himself completely... incapable of doing so. He had tried everything his brilliant mind could think of, but nothing was able to entertain or keep him occupied long enough for thoughts of Harry to leave his mind. Even in his dreams, his presence tortured him, leaving him restless and troubled.
Unfathomable as it was, he found himself missing Harry's company, a notion which was entirely foreign to him. The worst thing was that he didn't only miss the intimate touches that seared his skin because, if he did, he could quickly dismiss those feelings as lust, which at least would be reasonable considering what a talented lover Harry was.
Except no, regrettably for Tom, as he took his time to examine and dissect his feelings, he discerned that he also missed his wit and honesty. How charming. Yes, and he also yearned for his refreshing perspective that disagreed with everything he believed in. Devastatingly charming, indeed.
It was irrational to him. He couldn't surmise why or how this man managed to provoke these… emotions from him. He only knew that he did, and yes, he was sure he did, but only because he took the whole week to research the matter thoroughly or he wouldn't be there, pathetically begging for Harry's attention.
So, he missed Harry. He could almost accept the truth and move on if it weren't for the simple matter that he couldn't think about anything besides that he was missing Harry. He couldn't sleep, he couldn't focus, and his appetite had completely left him. His perfectly built routine completely shattered because he missed Harry Stevenson.
He'd then decided that things couldn't go on as they were and that if he wanted the boy's company, he would go out and get it. He always took what he wanted, so why should that time be any different?
"Why do you have to be so difficult, Harry?" he asked him exasperatedly, defensively crossing his arms over his chest. "Why can’t you simply accept my conditions so that we can go back to the way things were?" he almost pleaded, but it came out sounding more like an unsure demand, making Harry grind his teeth at the petulance of the statement.
"Fuck you and your conditions, Riddle," he exclaimed in a hushed tone. "You've given me an ultimatum, and I've chosen. Deal with it," he spat, his eyes glowing with barely contained rage. If Tom thought that he would just fall at his feet because he requested it, he was severely mistaken.
Tom allowed his hands to fall back to his side and stepped forward, pressing their chests together. "Are you telling me that you didn't enjoy our time together?" he asked him dubiously, knowing very well that Harry had enjoyed their time together, especially behind closed doors. He knew this as well as he knew that Harry cared for him. Even after everything Tom had revealed to him, Harry cared. That was also a new experience. Harry never held any judgment in his eyes for him, only ever understanding. Not that day, though. That day they burned with anger and hurt, yet surprisingly still no hatred.
With his face set in an indignant scowl, Harry angrily stepped away, ignoring the rush the contact between their chests sent through his body. "That doesn't mean that I'll let you turn me into one of your little puppets," he scoffed, rolling his eyes. "I'm not one of your little chess pieces to manipulate into position. So fuck your conditions and your rules because I don't need you, Riddle," he shrugged, eyes glinting brightly with vengeance. "If what we have isn't important enough to you, I'm not about to bother. I'm more than capable of looking elsewhere for what you can't give me," Harry smirked, taunting him with a raised brow.
Tom's grey eyes instantly filled with jealousy, swirling violently with a dark need to destroy. He was unable to restrain himself when faced with such a suggestion, and a second later, Tom had Harry shoved to the wall by his throat, with his wand pointing dangerously at his vulnerable, pulsating artery. "You forget who you're talking to, Harry," he warned in a threatening whisper.
Harry smiled evilly before he sent the arrogant boy flying back into the opposing wall. The impact sounded painful, as did the scraping sounds his back produced as he slid down the rough bricks, disarmed and conscious because Harry wanted him to be.
"It's you who forgets, Tom," he sang huskily, probably enjoying the little power play more than he should.
Tom decided that even though moving sounded like the worst idea, lying unresponsive on the ground wasn't an option. He groaned silently in his head as he rubbed his tender shoulder and got back up on unsteady legs. He pushed up his head, wincing at the discomfort in his neck, and turned to face a smirking Harry, who had his head tilted to the side while twisting around Tom's wand between his long fingers.
While Tom knew that he should feel afraid of the man standing before him, all he could feel was lust at the alluring sight of Harry exhibiting such power and confidence. The lust instantly swelled in the pit of his stomach, heating up his entire body until he felt like he was about to burst with unbridled need.
Yes, he should definitely feel terrified of standing in front of this man disarmed and exposed, but all he wanted to do was reach out to him and pull their bodies flush together. He wanted to feel Harry's lips battling with his own, fighting him for dominance. He wanted to explore the passion and confidence he saw in his eyes. He wanted to be bent under his rough touches and gentle whispers.
He wanted to own him, all of him. All that passion and power, he wanted it all to himself.
"Fine," he said on the verge of being breathless. "I'll agree to be monogamous with you," he said, sounding convinced with his decision even as his heart clenched fearfully within his chest.
Harry's smirk quickly dropped off his face. "Excuse me?" he sputtered, blinking repeatedly in disbelief, because he hadn't just heard what he thought he just heard.
Tom took a step forward, once again closing the space between them and pressing their chests together, but this time Harry was too shocked to move away from him. "I will not repeat myself," Tom told him curtly, looking intently into his green eyes, enjoying the surprise and hope he saw growing inside those brilliant jewels. "Do we have an agreement?" he asked him with a small grin on his face, softly dropping his forehead down to Harry's.
"What about your conditions?" he asked him warily, not ready to accept what Tom had just said to him. Not yet.
"Fuck my conditions," he said, chuckling at the way Harry's eyes widened in surprise. Tom never swore.
Harry gulped, feeling his chest rising and falling rapidly. "First you have to say it," he told him shakily, but the seriousness in his voice couldn't be mistaken as he pleaded gently with his eyes for him not to reject his request.
Tom's whole body tensed, knowing very well what Harry was asking him to say. It was how their argument had started, his unwillingness to admit that he had somehow managed to develop… an attachment towards Harry. But it was undeniable now, wasn't it?
Harry didn't know how long Tom kept on staring into his eyes before he finally felt him give a small nod. "I care for you, Harry," he whispered hoarsely, clearing his throat.
Harry gave him a brilliant smile and reached up to cup his blushing cheek. "If I find out that you've stepped out on me, Riddle, you're a dead man,” he joked, but only somewhat, with a playful glare on his face.
Tom chuckled and shook his head. "I don’t need anyone else now that I have you," he said, using the gentlest tone Harry has ever heard him use, and not a moment later he was leaning down to capture his lips in a heated kiss.
Before their lips could meet, Harry woke up with a start, drenched in sweat and trembling, an open book sprawled over his chest.
"Fuck," he swore, closing his eyes and running a shaky hand through his messy hair. "Fuck," he repeated, louder this time and more distressed.
"Buggering, fucking, fuck!" he screamed, throwing his book at the curtains surrounding his bed. He pushed away his sheets, not bothered by the chilled air that hit his skin, and climbed out of bed, pacing back and forth, forcing himself to calm down.
"Fucking bastard," he mumbled viciously under his breath before he pushed aside his curtains and got out, only to find Alphard up and awake, looking out at the Black Lake.
Alphard, having heard the slight commotion, turned around with a confused look on his weary face. "Is everything alright, Harry?" he asked him, tiredly rubbing his eyes.
Harry was stuck, unable to make up an excuse in his confused and sleep-deprived state of mind.
"Harry," he repeated, getting up from the perch next to the window. "What happened?"
"Nothing, I'm fine," he answered automatically, and it was true, nothing had really happened. His only problem was that his memories just wouldn't leave him alone, especially not in his dreams.
"Then why are you crying?" he asked, stepping forward to wipe away said tears. Harry hadn't even noticed them. He blushed and looked away, clearing his throat.
"I'd rather not talk about it," he said instead of lying. It didn't feel right to lie to Alphard.
"Where were you going at this hour? Half naked no less," he chuckled trying to lighten the mood, placing his open palm against Harry's chest.
Harry shrugged but didn't move away from him, too disorientated to notice Alphard’s not so subtle advances on him. "Nowhere, I just needed to clear my head a bit," he said sounding as tired as he felt.
Alphard gave him a worried look. "Go back to bed, Harry. You look like you’re about to collapse. If you'd rather, my bed is big enough for both of us," he teased him with a wink.
Harry's heart picked up, suddenly noticing the admiring way Alphard was glancing at his naked chest. Harry took a hesitant step back and tried to stop his body from reacting to his proximity.
Alphard rolled his eyes, "I'll be a perfect gentleman," he informed him. "Just thought you might like some company," he explained trying to contain his amusement, misinterpreting Harry's actions for modesty and shyness.
Harry smiled sadly and sighed. Thinking about it, yes, he would like some company, even the type of company he knew Alphard would offer if only he asked. But, he couldn't.
Harry summoned his shirt to him and shook his head. "I really need to go clear my head," he insisted, hoping his friend didn't feel rejected. "I won't be long," he reassured when he saw him about to protest.
"Suit yourself, Harry," he shrugged, fortunately not looking insulted as he made his way back to his bed. "Night," he said before closing his curtains.
"Night," Harry sighed, before pulling on his shirt.
Quidditch, of course.
Why wouldn't he be a star athlete as well?
Hadrian Peverell, the rich, smart, powerful, handsome, nice, and athletic seventh-year Slytherin student.
He won them their first game. Of course he did.
Now everyone seemed to flock to him. Everyone. Moths, the lot of them.
After thinking back on Hadrian's first month of seclusion, it could very much have been due to the fact that he had still been grieving and adjusting. He had just lost his parents a few months ago, had he not? And wasn’t it common for certain individuals to seclude themselves because of some all-consuming sadness they felt over losing a loved one? At least that was what he'd read and observed for himself.
Peverell didn't seem to be grieving any longer. Oh no, the little caterpillar had transformed into a social butterfly. He spoke and joked around with everyone, not caring about their house or blood-status.
'A person is a person, regardless of their heritage or species,' Tom had heard Harry explain to the wench Lucretia in a firm but kind tone when she had heatedly glared at him for helping a Muggle-born Hufflepuff.
'They eat, sleep, feel pain and joy, just as you do. An insult to any creature is an insult to mother Magic, for she has created us all. Do you not think that mother Magic wants harmony amongst her children? We forget all too often the wisdom and beauty of our mother. Should we not all trust in her and her reasons for creating each one of us? Should we not feel privileged to behold all wonders offered to us so generously?'
Lucretia had tears misting her grey eyes by the end of that hippy comment while Tom had tried very hard not to gag as he imagined rainbows and unicorns sprouting out Peverell's arse.
Dumbledore had also conveniently heard that hippy tripe, because of course he did. 'Take twenty points to Slytherin, Mr Peverell, for that heartwarming but very astute explanation. Maybe you would like to lead a thanks offering on Samhain, to thank our Lady mother for her generosity.'
Tom had gotten up and walked away before he could hear the rest.
Everyone loved him, even Dumbledore. Maybe especially Dumbledore.
They all loved him.
Tom could now very well imagine Peverell involved in their politics. He could also see him going very far, very quickly, what with his charm and love for everyone. Worst of all Tom didn't even think that it was faked, not even a smidgen. Peverell seemed to genuinely care.
Now Tom didn't know what had him more bewildered, the thought that he actually cared or the thought that he was that good of an actor. He had seen first hand the darkness that resided somewhere deep inside of Hadrian, all of Slytherin had, but since then Peverell had been nothing but an exemplary student.
How he hated him. Hated how he so effortlessly seemed to be everything Tom wanted to be. Hated how he smiled and laughed. Hated those dimples that appeared on his cheeks whenever he was particularly amused. Hated the way he scolded bullies and he especially hated that hero complex he seemed to have. Hated him absolutely and thoroughly.
Yet how he wanted him, craved him more desperately with each passing day. How could he want a person he has never spoken to before? How could he feel so drawn to a person that even with all their darkness, they seemed to burn brighter than any star in the sky?
No, he doesn't understand how or why, but he has become tired of questioning himself.
He would have Hadrian Peverell. Yes, he would have him soon enough. After all, he'd already set his plan in motion.
Soon enough Tom would no longer be just another fourth-year to Peverell. He'd pique his curiosity, charm his heart, and seduce his senses. He'd make sure that he won’t wake or go to sleep without thoughts of him on his mind. That no aspect of his life would be left free of the need to be shared with Tom.
He'd made peace with his obsession, hoping that its intensity would fade once he finally got what he so desperately desired, which would be soon enough.
It was Friday and the last class of the day had just let out. Harry was packing his things away, getting ready to leave the Potions classroom, when Professor Slughorn called out and asked him to stay behind.
Alphard gave him a curious tilt of his head, but Harry just shrugged and pointed his head towards the door, silently telling him that he would catch up later.
Without another word, he left the classroom and Harry alone with the Professor.
"Am I in trouble, Professor?" he asked the weary-looking man. He tried his very best to keep the man happy with his work, knowing that while he was annoying, at some point his connections could be very useful to him. So because of his vigilant work and attendance, he couldn't see what he could have possibly done to upset the man.
"Nothing like that, my boy!" he assured quickly, giving him a large smile.
Harry stopped himself from raising his eyebrows and smiled politely back instead. "Then how can I be of assistance, Sir?" he asked him, curious to see what the man could possibly want from him.
"You see, I was hoping to ask you for a favour," he started, and Harry already didn't like where this was going.
"Yes?" he prompted ever politely, trying very hard to keep his impatience locked away and unseen.
He didn't see Death around, but he was pretty sure he heard him sniggering somewhere in the distance. It was the kind of sniggering that indicated that an evil plan was about to unfold. It made Harry feel uneasy, to say the least.
"One of my Slytherin fourth-year students has requested a tutor for the Defense Against the Dark Arts class. He's a brilliant student, and in my personal opinion doesn't need any tutoring, but the boy is in complete devastation over his first ever Exceeded Expectations," he said, widening his eyes as he remembered how lost and helpless the boy had looked. It had been heartbreaking, really.
That conniving little rat. Both those conniving little rats!
Harry already knew who this brilliant student was, and so did Death. Death was probably the one that planted the idea in the boy's head to begin with.
"I've spoken to Professor Merrythought, and she mentioned that you are by far her best student, even if you seem to be hiding your true potential. Now, I wasn't very happy to hear about this tidbit of information, but I will let it slide if I hear that you are involving yourself more in your lessons. I won't have any wasted potential in my house," he reprimanded, and Harry could almost imagine him wagging a disappointed finger at him.
Before Harry could say anything in his defence, Slughorn went on. "Right, now that is settled, back to the primary matter at hand. Tom Riddle has requested a few tutoring lessons, and I think that you will be the perfect candidate to reassure him that this one EE is simply a fluke and that he will be back to his usual O standards in no time."
That didn't sound much like a request to Harry.
"While I could ask a number of other students to do this, you've shown so much school spirit over the past month that I thought you would jump at the opportunity to help out a fellow Slytherin student." In other words, no one else was as friendly or approachable as him. Brilliant.
"Splendid, Mr Peverell. I am so very grateful for your help. Take ten points to Slytherin for house unity! Yes, yes. I have a feeling that you will be going very far, Mr Peverell, very far indeed."
Not a request, then.
"Thank you, Sir. I shall endeavour to make our house proud," he said, not quite able to keep out the sarcasm from the statement. But, Merlin bless him, Slughorn was as oblivious as always, nodding and smiling away happily.
So, it would seem that Tom Riddle was done being ignored by him, meaning that the first part of his plan was working perfectly, and it took a lot less time than he thought it would.
The only drawback he saw was that he wasn't going to be able to avoid Tom anymore. Bullocks.
November 13th, 1941
The next day Harry was lounging around on the fresh grass in front of the Black Lake with Fleamont and Alphard. Curiously enough they both got along... maybe not well, but they were civil enough, even if he suspected it was more to set his mind at ease than any actual camaraderie forming between them.
It was well past midday when a figure came and blocked their sun, clearing their throat behind them. Instantly, Harry had to stop himself from outwardly reacting to the new arrival, knowing exactly who it was that was unashamedly blocking their sun.
All three seventh-years turned around to see who came to disturb their peace, the other two surprised to see that it was Tom Riddle interrupting their relaxing Saturday afternoon.
Fleamont frowned at the little Slytherin but said nothing. Alphard, on the other hand, looked about ready to insult him or curse him.
"Riddle, right?" Harry decided to ask him with a cautious smile, hoping Alphard would get the message to shut up.
"Yes," Tom agreed, not looking the least bit intimidated by the upper-years he faced. "Do you think it is possible for us to talk in private for a moment, Peverell?" he asked him politely with a charming smile in place, not showing at all how much it hurt for him to request instead of demand. But Harry knew, knew that it hurt him a great deal. He also knew that it was particularly difficult for Tom to admit his shortcomings, which is why he was still very surprised that Tom decided to take this route to introduce himself into his life.
"It's getting rather chilly out here, might as well head back to the castle," he said, brushing off the dirt from his knees. "We can have your chat on our way in," he agreed reluctantly as he got up, heart beating erratically in his chest. "I'll see you after dinner Fleamont. Library?" he asked, proud that he didn't stumble his way through his words with the way his nerves were all jumbled.
"Yeah, we'll walk together," Fleamont agreed with a winning smile, which quickly turned into a frown when his eyes landed on Riddle. His eyes seemed to warn Tom not to try any funny business. How cute, Harry's grandfather was still looking out for him, even after he’d seen that he was perfectly capable of handling himself.
"Alphard?" Harry asked, knowing that the other boy would understand. It was truly a wonder how their friendship had developed over the past few months.
"Dinner," he agreed, not taking his hostile and calculating eyes off Riddle. That might be a problem in future, but Harry decided to deal with one issue at a time.
With one last nod, he turned and started following after Tom, waiting for him to break the ice between them, curiously wondering what it was that he would say to him first.
It took a while, but eventually, Tom spoke. "Professor Slughorn has informed me that he has assigned you as my tutor," he started in a natural tone, giving him a short side glance as they walked towards the castle entrance.
Harry raised his eyebrows but kept his face impassive. No pleasantries, then, and right to the point. It was so very typical of him that Harry felt an almost unstoppable urge to smile wildly at the boy walking by his side. It has been so long, so very long since they had spoken so casually together. Even in their last weeks together, the tension had grown so much that it extinguished any playfulness and ease that had developed between them.
It had been so long, and he missed him, missed him too much to put to words. He longed to rush this all along and hold him in his arms. That's what he wanted, it's what he'd wanted long before they came back here. But that didn’t mean that he was going to throw away all of his plans and make it easy for Tom. No, it needed to be a slow but sure process. The world depended on that.
Tom waited patiently for a good few minutes in silence before breaking it. "I assure you that I am a fast learner, and that I will not take up a lot of your time. This was the first EE that I've ever received, and I intend to make sure that it is my last. I think that a month should suffice to ensure such results," he said, keeping a tight leash on his frustration. He turned around and gave Harry his most charming smile while on the inside he was raving and screaming.
How was it that Hadrian Peverell seemed utterly unaffected by him? In fact, he looked positively peeved with him, and his silence wasn't exactly convincing him otherwise.
Was it something Alphard said to him, or maybe Dumbledore? It was possible, also probable, but Peverell wasn't the type to let other people's opinion affect his judgment.
Tom himself had never acted anything but exemplary in public, which meant it couldn't have been anything he had done. Yet here Peverell was, acting as if he would rather be anywhere else but there with him. He would dismiss it as annoyance at having to tutor a fourth-year, but it felt deeper than that. It was the way he wouldn't look directly into his eyes and that unusual tension in his shoulders.
Harry's heart didn't skip a beat when he saw that beautiful smile, however insincere he knew it was—it didn't.
He gulped silently and threw Tom a small grin. "Slughorn mentioned as much," he decided to finally say, running an agitated hand through his hair. "I need to warn you, I can't have this clashing with any quidditch practice. Thursday evening after classes is about the only time I have available. Would that be agreeable with you?"
He wasn't really asking, not when he had already clearly stated that it was the only time he was free to help him. He wasn't exactly being impolite, but something about his tone rubbed Tom the wrong way. It was so… not reluctant, even if it was obvious that he was. He couldn't put his finger on it, but there was something off with the way Peverell was acting with him. The best he could describe it would be strained.
"I should manage," Tom managed to say without letting on how confused he felt.
This wasn't at all how he’d imagined this would go. There were no piqued interests or charmed hearts, and he’d definitely not been given the chance to seduce him. No, it wasn't going at all as he'd imagined.
"Right," Harry nodded, once again running a hand through his hair. "I'll see you in the library at five on Thursday," he said and, without another word, turned the other direction and took his leave from Tom’s company.
Tom stood at the castle entrance completely dumbfounded and lost at the turn of events.
Something just didn't fit.
Hadrian Peverell liked everyone in the castle, in the whole damned world, except, it seemed, Tom Riddle. There was no other or more gentle way to put it. Hadrian Peverell just didn't like him.
Harry was usually more than excited to socialise, friendly smirk always on his lips. There should have been no reason for him not to act in the same friendly manner with Tom, and the prospect that he might not hadn't even crossed his mind. But somehow, for some reason Tom couldn't see, Harry didn't like him. Period. Instead, he seemed agitated and uncomfortable, almost irritated by his presence. Leaving as soon as the opportunity presented itself.
For some reason, Peverell didn't like him, and that thought settled a heavy rock in the pit of his stomach.
Tom clenched his jaw and made his way to the dungeons, his eyes alight with fury.
Hadrian Peverell may not like him at this present time, but that would change.
One day soon he'd have him on his back, begging to be touched by him—begging to take him.
One day soon he wouldn’t be able to live without him.
Thanks once again to KingOMalley for your patience and brilliant editing!
Hope you guys enjoyed the new chapter ^_^
November 18th, 1941
As hard as it had been, over the past few days, Harry had successfully managed to push aside all thoughts of his impending tutoring session with Tom. He resolutely refused to be bent into a frantic state of nervousness over something as simple and innocent as a tutoring session.
So Harry had neatly tucked away any and all thoughts of Tom into a box that was stored on a shelf at the very back of his consciousness. He then proceeded to build an impenetrable barrier around the box in addition to the ones that had already been set in place.
But now—with only forty minutes left on the clock for him to get to the library—all the emotions and thoughts he’d been so desperately trying to box away tore out of their confines, unleashing onto him a violent storm.
Merlin, it was just so embarrassing for him to feel such trepidation towards spending time with a fourteen-year-old. Yet all his anxiety and nervousness weren’t able to quench the unjustifiable exuberance he felt towards the prospect of spending time with Tom .
It was precisely because of this exultant feeling that was dominating his emotions that he’d tried so hard to lock away all thoughts of Tom. He didn’t want to feel triumphant and exhilarated at the mere notion of spending time with the boy that had broken him so many times, in so many different ways.
It was too easy to ignore, to disregard and overlook the potential the boy had to destroy him. So very easy to forget that this beautiful boy had the potential to grow into a grotesque monster driven by fear and bloodlust.
It was a delicate matter, dancing on the edge as he was. Balancing between loving and loathing him.
He could never allow himself to tip to either side.
Could never allow himself to love him more than he despised him.
Could never allow his desire for him to overpower the repulsion he felt.
If he did, he would inevitably forget. He would lose himself in Tom and there would be nothing left of himself.
He’d forgive him and he’d forget, allowing Tom the opening he needed to once again destroy his world… and whatever was left of his heart.
He could never allow that to happen.
So he danced and pushed and pulled—always and forevermore pushing himself, then reeling himself back in.
Yes, it was a delicate matter indeed. Delicate and deadly.
He knew very well that he couldn’t permit his emotions to cloud his judgment, and he was also perfectly aware that he couldn’t afford any slips in his composure.
There was no room for him to err. He needed to be calm and collected; poised and in absolute control of his actions and emotions.
Yet he was helpless to the onslaught of emotional waves crashing against each other, each a contradiction to the other, rolling roughly and fighting to dominate.
He was a slave to the storm, pushed and dragged to the powerful whims of the rough currents.
Dragged down, down, down—always deeper and steeper—further down and onwards into the heart of the storm.
All his training and all his centuries of experience were no match against the raw and inexplicable emotions that were tightly woven into his heart.
True love is held back by no logic and is restrained by no barrier. True love is unshakable, its sting embedded into your very being and thus changing you forever. You cannot outrun it, nor can you protect yourself from its venom.
And it was because of all those reasons that Harry found himself fretting over something as trivial as his choice in wardrobe.
He was utterly pathetic .
Right now, Harry, with a green towel wrapped around his waist and still dripping wet from the shower, was agitatedly rummaging through his closet trying to find something suitable to wear to impress Tom. Impress Tom.
He was utterly wracked with nerves and the state in which his corner of the shared dorm room found itself in reflected as much.
Several articles of clothing were scattered on the floor and on his bed, and more were still following as Harry irrationally felt that none of them were appropriate.
"I highly doubt that your choice in clothing is going to make much of a difference to Riddle," Death drawled as he watched yet another pair of pants be carelessly discarded to the side.
"I didn’t ask you to come and watch me get ready, so just bugger off and go do some soul collecting, or whatever it is you do when you’re not around to make me miserable," Harry snarked back, head still buried in his closet.
Death scoffed and shook his head. "And miss you bumbling about like a fool? I think not, friend."
Harry grumbled something unintelligible under his breath then straightened his back and emerged from the depths of his closet with a pile of clothes in his hands. He slammed his closet door shut and turned to face Death with a dark glare fixed on his face and a warning glinting dangerously behind his eyes.
"I can’t possibly begin to guess what you've got planned, but whatever it is isn’t going to happen,” he told him, forcefully punctuating each word to make sure that his friend understood that he wasn’t playing around. “I don't want to see or hear you anywhere near us this evening. Is that understood?" he demanded, taking a threatening forward and looking straight into the abyss of Death’s hood, unafraid of the void he saw.
"Where’s the fun in that, Harry, darling?" Death crooned sinisterly, not at all intimidated by Harry’s threatening presence.
"I'm not fucking joking,” Harry growled through clenched teeth. “You've meddled enough as it is. Don't think for a second that I don't know that you're the one that planted this idiotic idea in his head."
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Death said in a faux perplexed tone that grated at Harry’s fraying nerves.
Harry groaned and turned his back to Death, deciding that an argument was a waste of his time.
“Just don’t bother me tonight. You got what you wanted, now let me handle the rest,” he said before allowing the towel to drop from his waist so that he could change
“As well as you’re handling your choice in attire?” Death couldn’t help but quip back, dodging the heavy belt Harry threw his way.
“As well as I’ll skin your hide if you don’t shut the hell up,” he threatened as he pulled up his pants.
Death’s lack of response almost made Harry turn around, but as soon as Harry fastened his black trousers Alphard barged into their dorm room looking puzzled.
“Harry? Who were you talking to?” he asked, looking around the room and clearly searching for someone.
“Myself,” Harry was quick to supply, sending Death a glare that could rival his own.
“I could swear I heard you say something about skinning someone’s hide... and what in Morgana’s name happened in here!” he exclaimed, utterly bewildered by the mess Harry had made on his side of the room.
Harry never allowed his area to get into this state of disarray. He was rather neurotic in his tendency to keep everything neat and in order. So it was quite the shock to Alphard’s system to witness this when just this morning Harry had scolded him about a set of school robes he’d forgotten to put away the night before.
“Nothing, just couldn’t find this shirt,” Harry admitted sheepishly, innocently holding up said shirt he’d apparently been searching for.
“What's all this fuss about then? Where are you going?” Alphard asked him curiously, immediately narrowing his eyes when he noticed the nice looking dark green shirt Harry was buttoning up.
“Nowhere, really. Right now I’m probably late for my first tutoring session with Riddle,” he sighed, casting a quick tempus and cringing when his suspicions were confirmed.
Alphard frowned and threw his bag onto his bed with a touch too much force. “I forgot about that. I still don’t understand why you didn’t just tell Riddle to bugger off.”
The fact that Tom Riddle was somewhat of a prodigy was no secret. The thought that he might need tutoring was laughable. So really, when Tom Riddle was suddenly asking for tutoring you simply knew that it was part of some ploy.
Tom Riddle was the worst kind of bad news, and Alphard didn’t want to see his friend falling in with the likes of him .
It was far too easy to fall for Tom Riddle’s charm. He’d seen many of his housemates and peers fall for the younger boy’s charismatic presence, which was unfortunately only aided by the angelic face he was blessed with. He’d always been a beautiful child, and as he grew older his striking features became even more pronounced, captivating almost everyone that had the pleasure of laying their eyes on him.
He was beautiful, much too beautiful.
His face made you forget the monster that lurks beneath the mask. Made you forget about the venom that flowed through the boy’s blood. Made you forget just exactly why Tom Riddle was the unopposed Serpent King of Slytherin.
Harry threw Alphard an exasperated look, having already had this argument with him before.
“Slughorn approached me first. I could hardly say no to Slughorn,” he reminded Alphard as he slipped on his dark grey waistcoat.
“I don’t know what game he’s playing, but that boy doesn’t need any tutoring, Hadrian,” Alphard warned him once again, frustrated by the fact that even after he’d specifically warned him away from the Riddle, Harry was still going go along and play right into his hand.
“Slughorn mentioned as much,” he shrugged, turning around to face his mirror, “and I’m perfectly aware that Riddle has an agenda. I’m not as ignorant to inter-house politics as you might think, Alphard. But I’m fairly confident that I can handle myself against a fourth-year, even if he is a prodigy. Besides, I’m curious about the little Slytherin King whose name is on everyone’s lips. Now, I would really appreciate it if we could drop this argument,” he finished with a clipped tone, prepared to ignore any further protests from his friend.
Alphard sighed but relented, knowing that he wasn’t going to be able to talk him out of it. Instead, he watched his friend as he fixed and tidied his shirt, then gave himself a once over in the mirror before a small approving smile graced his lips.
He untied his hair and ran his hand through the shoulder-length waves, trying to comb out any knots that might have formed through the day.
Harry was the type of person that always made sure to look his best, but he didn’t primp . He never put too much care into his appearance. His perfection was always casually and effortlessly attained since he was much too handsome to look anything other than perfect, and he knew that.
So Alphard couldn’t help but notice the extra care Harry was investing in himself this evening.
“Is there a specific reason why you’re primping yourself before a tutoring session with Riddle?” he asked crisply, unable to effectively mask the jealousy he felt stirring in his heart.
Hadrian couldn’t possibly be... interested in Tom Riddle, could he?
Harry paused his fingers mid-comb and locked his eyes onto his friend’s through the mirror.
Harry wasn’t blind to Alphard’s feelings for him, so he couldn’t help but feel guilty when he caught the hurt and jealous glint in his eyes.
He would need to find a way to gently dissuade his feelings because the last thing he wanted was for Alphard to get hurt.
Alphard narrowed his grey eyes at Harry, but before he could utter another word Orion burst into their room with his bag swinging casually behind him.
“Har-ry,” he sang. “Are you done yet? Woah, looking particularly fancy this evening, Peverell,” he complimented him with a small but sincere smile, blissfully ignorant to the fact that his innocent compliment had just raised the tension in the room tenfold.
With one last glance at Alphard, Harry quickly tied his hair into a low and elegant ponytail, then he turned to face his friends.
“Thanks, Orion,” he mumbled, giving the oblivious boy a tense smile.
Alphard just glared at both of them before he gave a resigned sigh and threw himself onto his bed with a groan.
Orion looked between the two, confused with the exchange. When Alphard buried his face in his pillow he turned his questioning gaze onto Harry. “What’s wrong with him?”
Harry forced a grin and shrugged, cupping the side of his mouth with his palm as if to share a secret. “It’s probably that time of the month,” he whispered loud enough for Alphard to hear, hoping that it would diffuse this awkward tension in the room.
Alphard was quick to send a pillow flying Harry’s way while Orion rolled his eyes at them. ‘And people dared call him immature,’ he thought, crossing his arms over his chest.
“If you two are quite done, Harry and I have places to be and things to do. Don’t we, Harry?”
Harry hummed and nodded his head in agreement. “Right you are, Orion,” he said and went to grab his bag from under a pile of his clothes.
On their way out, Alphard called out one last warning to Harry. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you when you find yourself being fed to a snake in the Forbidden Forest!” he exclaimed before Harry slammed the door shut on him.
Orion looked at Harry and back at the firmly shut door. “What was that about?”
“Dunno,” Harry shrugged, keeping his eyes set firmly in front of him as they made their way out of the Slytherin common room.
Orion opened his mouth to press the issue, but he seemed to notice Harry’s reluctance to share and decided against it.
Harry gave him an appreciative smile and went back to mentally preparing himself for the upcoming dance.
Let the music begin , he thought wearily as the common room door slammed ominously behind them.
Tom was comfortably seated at one of the more secluded tables in the library, working on the thirteen-inch Arithmancy essay he’d been assigned that day while trying not to think about Peverell, who was already running five minutes late.
Over the past few days, he had done his best not to allow his thoughts to linger on the indifference Peverell had shown him, but it had been impossible to ignore. It nagged at him at all hours of the day, unrelenting in its persistence.
He wouldn’t have felt this unease or concern if there wasn’t such a stark difference in Hadrian’s attitude towards everyone else in the school.
After their small exchange, Tom had watched the man’s interactions even more closely, wanting to determine if he really was the only one treated with this type of open disregard.
Unfortunately, his observations concluded that he was indeed the only person in the castle Hadrian Peverell acted towards with such apathetic dismissal.
What had he done to deserve such treatment? Over and over again he asked himself that one question, never coming closer to a feasible explanation.
Before he could continue distracting himself from his unfinished essay with more troubling and vexing thoughts on why Peverell disliked him, he caught sight of the man himself entering the library... with Orion Black just a step behind him.
Tom’s mood darkened at the sight of the fifth-year Slytherin, and he hoped that the boy wouldn’t be staying with them throughout the whole duration of their tutoring session. If Peverell did invite Black to stay with them, there was nothing Tom could do about it. He couldn’t risk seeming rude when this was his chance to charm the older boy and redeem himself from whatever opinion he had already formed.
Once Peverell was close enough for Tom to notice exactly what he was wearing, he was sharply robbed of all the breath in his lungs and any coherent thought.
The dark green shirt he wore hugged his arms and torso in a way that showed off the strong muscle one could find under his skin. His black pants fit low on his waist while the grey button-up waistcoat fit him snugly, allowing him to look deliciously sinful and absolutely ravishing.
Tom had to look away from him and actively think of something absolutely repulsive to battle off the flush he could feel rising up his neck.
“Riddle,” Harry nodded in friendly greeting, dropping his bag on one of the available chairs around Tom’s chosen table.
“Peverell,” Tom acknowledged with a small, innocent smile, rolling up the essay he had been working on to buy himself some more time to compose himself. “Black,” he inclined his head, having decided that it was in his best interest to act completely cordial with the fifth-year in Peverell’s presence.
“Riddle,” Orion grumbled, narrowing his eyes suspiciously at Tom’s unusually civil demeanour towards him. It was, after all, no secret that Tom despised all the Blacks residing within the castle, with Cygnus being the only exception.
“My sincerest apologies for running late, Riddle,” Peverell apologised as he took a seat, but gave no excuse for his tardiness.
Tom simply shrugged. “None needed,” he waved off. While he wasn’t exactly thrilled about being left waiting, he was more concerned about the fact that Orion Black was sitting at his table, but he didn’t say anything about that either.
Hadrian must have caught Tom’s eyes flickering towards Orion because he turned to Tom with a rueful grin on his face and explained.
“Right, Orion is here because he’s helping me with a side project I’m working on. He’s going to be drowning in books in about ten minutes, so don’t worry, you’ll have my undivided attention,” he reassured him.
Tom gave a nod and felt himself relax. At least Black would be too occupied to interfere.
Harry swiftly pulled out a folded piece of parchment from his bag and handed it over to Black.
“These are the books we need to find. Just compile a list with all the relevant instances you find, including the reference so that it’ll be easier to integrate later,” Peverell instructed him, pushing him towards the towering aisles of books. “Just remember that you’re the one that signed up to help when you get a headache from all the tiny script, okay?”
Without another word, Orion strutted away, more than content to leave Riddle’s company.
“What is it that you’re working on?” Tom asked genuinely curious, and then hastily added, “If you don’t mind me asking, that is,” not wanting to somehow offend the older boy simply because he wasn’t able to curb his curiosity.
Harry stopped taking out his things from his bag and turned his green eyes to look at Tom.
So polite and, in a way, completely unrecognisable. Even his eyes were a brighter shade of grey, lacking the madness of a torn soul.
“I don’t mind, but it’s all very boring stuff. Over the past summer, I took my rightful seat in the Wizengamot, and I’m currently working on a few legislations I wish to introduce in the near future. Orion has generously offered to help me with some of the tedious research that needs to be done before I’m able to introduce them to the Wizengamot,” he explained without really giving an answer.
Tom wasn’t fooled by the non-answer, and it only served to increase his curiosity.
“What kind of legislation?” Tom asked before he could restrain himself, earning himself a sharp look from Peverell.
“Aren’t I meant to be tutoring you in DADA?” Harry asked a touch too sternly.
Tom lowered his eyes and gave him a reluctant nod, clearly disappointed at having been denied an answer but unwilling to further upset the man with more probing.
Harry was as eager to discuss his plans with Tom as Tom was to hear them.
But he couldn’t do that, not yet. It wasn’t the time to discuss all the ways he wanted to change the world.
Once he was sure that all the pieces were falling into place and he successfully secured Tom’s loyalty, he’d include him, but only then.
He would, however, give him a small crumb to sate some of his curiosity.
Harry allowed an apologetic smile to grace his lips. “I’m sorry for being so abrupt with you, Riddle. I know what it’s like to have an overly curious mind. Knowledge is power after all, and I can appreciate that in sharp mind such as yours.”
Tom tried not to let the small compliment get to him, but it did. He was pleased to know that at the very least Peverell had heard about his abilities.
“I’m young still, but I’ve got a few changes I wish to make that I believe will serve for the betterment of our world. I find that we have lost our ways amidst all the prejudice and conflict. Fear and injustice rule our laws and as the years pass us by we descend further into self-destruction. The public is blind and unaware, content with being oblivious to all the problems and dangers that surround us. We are so weak that we allowed an individual wizard with a vision reap chaos across several nations. Changes must be made if we want to survive.”
Tom couldn’t help but hang onto every word that Peverell said, carefully filing away every word that slipped from between his lips. It was clear to anyone who dared to take a closer look that this was a subject Peverell was very passionate about.
While Tom agreed with everything he’d said so far, he noticed that Peverell hadn’t really said much at all. He’d revealed nothing of his beliefs. One had to admire Peverell’s skill.
Anyone else would have probably mindlessly nodded their head, swiftly agreeing without really knowing what they were agreeing with, but Tom was no such fool.
“That’s all very well put, but it doesn’t reveal any of your intentions,” he pointed out. “Everyone has a different opinion on what actions define progress. For all I know your ideas for a better world align directly with Grindelwald's vision.”
Harry took his time to look thoroughly insulted. “Do I really look like someone who would condone mindless slaughter?”
“You don’t,” Tom was quick to agree, “but that wasn’t the argument I was trying to make.”
Harry chuckled, “Point taken, Riddle. I simply strive for equality and justice. For a world that judges you for your own merits, and where tradition and progress need not be enemies.”
“Some might say that those are idealistic goals to have,” Tom said before he could bite his tongue.
Harry gave a small, sardonic laugh at that and leaned back into his chair. “There’s no need to be so kind, Riddle. Unrealistic is what most people would call it, but I believe that I can prove them wrong. I won’t allow general opinion to stand in the way of my ambitions.”
Tom nodded his head, able to respect and empathise with such sentiment.
He took a moment to mull over Peverell’s previous statement and frowned. “Does your pursuit for equality draw a line at magical people and creatures or does it also extend towards the muggles?”
Harry hesitated for a moment before coming to the conclusion that sharing his beliefs with Tom could hardly be construed as involving him in his plans.
“I believe that the muggles are invaluable to us,” he admitted, not looking away from Tom as he said this, “But I also believe that it is imperative that we ensure that the Statute of Secrecy is upheld.”
“You do?” Tom asked him dubiously. “Aren’t you somewhat contradicting yourself? You don’t want them to know about us yet you claim to find them invaluable to our existence.”
“Precisely,” Harry agreed, earning himself an irritated scowl from the younger boy.
“I see that our tutoring session is going to go brilliantly,” came Tom’s sarcastic reply.
“It’s simple, really,” Peverell said, and while Tom wanted desperately to comment otherwise, he kept his mouth shut and listened. “Sure, it took the muggles about two hundred thousand years, but they finally managed to invent electricity. In 1879, Thomas Edison continued exploring Franklin’s research and managed to make the first ever light bulb. Since then, their evolution has been rapidly picking up. Just look at the firearms they use. In 1892 they introduced automatic handguns. Now they have nuclear weapons, bombs that could destroy whole countries. These are not threats to joke about or take lightly,” he explained solemnly.
Tom tried to hide away the haunting look that crept over his face, but Harry saw the shadows that crossed over his beautiful grey eyes.
“I know,” Tom whispered, still looking away from him. His mind was back at the orphanage, with sirens blaring loudly in his ears, warning everyone of the impending bombing and the devastating destruction they brought along with them.
“Then you can understand why they must never find out that we exist. While I do believe that we need muggles, we simply cannot trust them not to turn on us should they ever find out about our existence. The number of muggles willing to understand and accept us would be far outweighed by those too afraid of what they cannot understand. The unknown breeds fear, and fear leads to addled minds and unnecessary violence.”
Peverell was right. Muggles could never be given the chance to break war against them. They would destroy too much with their abominable inventions.
“Yet you say we need them,” Tom said, hoping that he would elaborate and move on from the subject of muggle war.
“What we need is fresh blood to be combined into our bloodlines. Since the witch hunts, wizards and witches have been wary of mingling with the muggles, not that they can be blamed. But because of our separation from them, our numbers have been steadily dwindling," he explained. "Talents that used to be the reason for a house’s pride no longer appeared. The number of squibs has been increasing, and I don’t even want to start discussing the general population in terms of magical strength,” Harry scoffed, wrinkling his nose in disgust.
“What you’re saying is that because the majority of the wizarding world is inbred, we’ve become stagnant.” It wasn’t that Tom disagreed with him, on the contrary. It was simply highly unusual for a pureblood of his standing to openly comment about such things. But then again, none of the other purebloods strived for equality.
“Precisely,” Harry agreed with a self-satisfied grin. It was sort of adorable. “Do you disagree?” he asked him, leaning forward in his chair.
“I don’t,” he admitted reluctantly. “But we now come full circle back to your contradiction,” Tom noted with a smirk on his face.
Harry shook his head still grinning.
Tom perked a questioning eyebrow and waited patiently for the reveal.
“Just because we need to enforce the Statute of Secrecy, doesn’t mean that wizards and witches shouldn’t integrate themselves into the muggle world. It’s our ignorance of the muggle world that puts us in danger. If we are better educated and able to blend in with them, it wouldn’t be so hard to go out into their world and meet a beautiful and supportive muggle woman or man to settle down with and have a family. Those willing to enter our world simply need to be ready to abide by our laws and learn our traditions. It’s not all that different from following the customs of your host country while being a guest on foreign land. Why shouldn’t those accepting of us be given the opportunity to behold all the wonders of our magical world? Those unaccepting are easily dealt with if the regulations concerning such matters are revised and better enforced.”
Tom’s face remained cool and impassive while he catalogued all the new information that was being offered to him.
“You are essentially planning to alter twelve generations’ worth of conditioned thinking.” Tom sounded moderately impressed.
Harry hummed and chuckled. “Yes, that sums it up neatly, Riddle.”
“That also sounds like more than just one legislation you’ll be working on.”
Harry blinked at that statement and cursed himself internally, realising that he might have said more than he had initially intended to.
Deciding that they had discussed enough of his views, Harry quickly changed the subject. “You’re right, and it’s all so very boring. Tell me about that EE you got. Do you have the essay with you?”
Tom didn’t understand what had prompted Peverell to suddenly retreat back into himself and change the subject but decided to let it slide, having gotten more than enough information to dissect later on.
Tom couldn’t help but notice that, as Peverell settled into his company, he seemed far friendlier than their previous interaction.
Maybe all of Tom’s worries had been for naught.
Tom handed Peverell his purposely inadequately written essay, trying to contain the distasteful sneer that fought against his thin-pressed lips. He really hated having to show even the slightest bit of incompetence, yet here he was, asking for tutoring lessons from the man he was trying to woo.
He honestly had no idea what he had been thinking when he decided to go along with this plan his sleep-deprived mind had come up with.
The following hour was spent with Peverell explaining the many different shielding charms and spells used to defend oneself in various situations. He hated to admit it, but there had been a few facts that he hadn’t thought about and found that he was actually learning some things from Peverell.
Hadrian Peverell was a complete enigma. He believed in freedom and evolution, yet had a healthy respect for the muggles, enough to not let it blind him from the threat that they could pose.
He spoke with passion and conviction, but his words weren’t just beautiful and empty. He presented arguments that had several valid points to them, backed by undeniable truths that would drive even the most hard-headed wizard to deep contemplation.
These goals Peverell has set out for himself seem to be intimately entwined with his own. But what about his views on the Dark Arts? Were they also of similar mind on the matter? Could it be possible that they were more alike than he could have ever hoped for?
“I think we can wrap it up for today, Riddle. Did Professor Merrythought give you a date when to hand in the essay?” He asked him, shuffling through the parchment he had used to scribble his explanation on.
“Yes, she did,” he said absent-minded, still lost in thought.
“And?” Peverell prompted him with a poke to his arm, jarring him from his thoughts.
“Tomorrow. I have to give it in tomorrow,” he said, drawing a wide-eyed look from Peverell.
“Tomorrow? Why didn’t you say anything when we agreed to meet today?”
“It didn’t sound like you had much time for me otherwise,” Tom reminded him, nodding in thanks when Peverell handed him his notes for referral.
“Right, I apologise if I was rude or anything,” Harry winced, looking away from the beautiful boy.
“You weren’t,” he reassured him with a charming smile. He was more than willing to forget about their disastrous first meeting.
Then suddenly Black appeared from behind the towering shelves.
“I’m famished,” Orion groaned, dropping ungracefully into the available chair next to Hadrian while pushing a large pile of parchment towards him. “And I still need to go to the owlery before dinner,” he moaned, dropping his forehead onto the table.
“That, my dear friend, is called tough luck,” Harry teased him with a friendly pat on his back. He took the offered parchment and browsed through the list Orion had so generously made for him.
“Does that mean you’re not going to escort me?” he asked him with a wobbly pout. “After all this hard work I did for you?”
“Apologies, Orion. But I already promised young Riddle here that I would escort him to the great hall for dinner,” he told him with a noticeably fake apologetic smile.
Peverell had done no such thing, but Tom wasn’t about to complain about his extended company.
“You’re a rotten friend, Peverell,” Orion informed him nasally.
“I hold deep affection towards you, as well, Orion dear,” Harry mumbled distractedly, his eyes still looking through the long list Orion compiled for him. “Good work,” he looked up to say but noticed that Orion was already walking away in a huff.
“Your friend seems to already have taken his leave,” Tom pointed out uselessly with an amused smirk tugging on his lips.
“Yes, he gets that way when he’s hungry,” Harry explained with a shrug while gathering his belongings. “Speaking of, shall we head to dinner? I’m starting to feel famished myself,” he admitted, rubbing his growling stomach.
“Is that why you lied to Black?” Tom asked as he got up and followed after him.
“No, that was because I didn’t feel like spending the next half-hour listening to him moon over his betrothed,” he confessed sheepishly, a boyish grin gracing his lips while he rubbed the back of his neck.
Tom felt somewhat disappointed at the confession but didn’t let it show. So what if Peverell hadn’t lied just to spend more time with him? The result was the same, so he would enjoy it as such.
After a few moments of comfortable silence passing between them, Tom turned to look at him with that angelic face of his. “Thank you, Peverell. For taking the time to tutor me this evening. Your help has been greatly appreciated,” he told him, daring to reach out and touch the older boy’s arm.
Warmth spread along his fingers where he touched him, and Tom had to restrain himself from reacting to the soothing feeling.
Harry, much the same, was trying to ignore the warm shivers he got from Tom’s gentle touch.
Trying very hard not to look down and stare at the appendage that was touching him, Harry gulped silently before answering. “It was no problem,” he smiled before quickly looking away from the tempting boy, because that’s what he still was - a boy.
As mature and grown-up as he liked to think he was, Tom was nothing but a lost boy in dire need of some guidance.
He wouldn’t allow his physical attraction towards him to derail any improvement he managed to make with him.
This time it couldn’t be about how good they made each other feel in bed. Before Harry was anywhere near ready to venture down that road he needed to feel secure in their relationship—whatever type of relationship they may have.
Also, the fact that Tom was still only fourteen made him feel like a dirty paedophile, even if he knew very well that he’d never think about any other young adolescents that way.
Tom… damn it. Tom was just Tom. He’d always be able to make Harry’s heart beat frantically in his chest. It was the curse of love.
“I think that next time we should focus more on the practical side of the shields. Knowing about them is all well and good, but when it matters you need to be able to produce the shield you want to protect yourself with.”
Tom bristle slightly at the implication that he wasn’t able to produce a simple shield charm and dropped his hand from Peverell’s shoulder as if burned.
“I already know how to cast a Protego,” thank you very much , he continued silently with his eyes and the way he pulled on the strap of his bag.
Harry threw him a disappointed frown. “And that’s the only shield we’ve discussed today?” he asked expectantly.
“No, but all the others aren’t taught until our fifth or sixth year. Not to mention the Patronus has been completely removed from our curriculum,” Tom pointed out.
“Do you remember me mentioning that most of the inhabitants of the wizarding world are powerless buffoons?” Harry asked him.
Well, he hadn’t said it in those words exactly, but something along those lines. He couldn’t see how that was relevant to-
“Do you consider yourself to be one of those powerless buffoons, Riddle?” he asked him with a raised brow.
Right. That’s how it was relevant.
“I don’t,” he told him firmly, turning hard grey eyes to glare at him.
“I didn’t think so,” Harry agreed. “So why should you hold yourself to a timetable set for those less capable?” he asked him rhetorically, not expecting him to answer. But when did Tom ever do as he expected?
“I don’t. I’m further ahead than any of my classmates in all of my subjects. Just because I said that they aren’t taught until our fifth or sixth year doesn’t mean that I haven’t already mastered them,” Tom couldn’t help but brag, needing the older boy to see that he wasn’t just some fourth-year imbecile that couldn’t keep up with him.
Harry bit his cheek to keep from grinning foolishly at the adorable boy that was trying to impress him. “Does the Patronus Charm make the list of your accomplishments?” Harry asked, stopping to lean against the wall. Once they rounded the corner they would arrive at their destination and Harry didn’t fancy being stuck talking to one of Tom’s lackeys, especially not Abraxas Malfoy. Harry had to forcibly stop himself from shuddering at the thought.
Tom’s self-assured smile dimmed at Harry’s question, but he didn’t look away from his challenging emerald eyes.
“No, but that’s hardly something to be ashamed of. Most grown wizards aren’t able to produce a corporeal Patronus,” he argued, defensively crossing his arms over his chest.
“Now wait a moment. I never said anything about feeling ashamed. There is no shame in not being able to do something—anything. All I’m offering is my help, if you want it, feel free to take it,” he told the cross looking boy that looked about ready to hex him.
“Of course, you can produce a corporeal Patronus,” Tom mumbled enviously under his breath.
He would pay a pretty penny for someone to find something the wizard wasn’t good at. “I have this nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach telling me that I don’t want to know how old you were when you first managed to produce one,” he grumbled, but for some reason found himself unable to stay upset with the man and gave him a hesitant smile.
“Follow that gut feeling, Riddle. It will take you places,” he joked with a huge smile on his face.
Harry couldn’t believe it! This was all turning out better than he expected. They were actually joking around. Joking around! And teasing each other!
Merlin, how much he’d missed Tom.
“I’ll take it then; your help, that is,” he clarified when Harry gave him a confused look. Harry’s face instantly lit up, and Tom thought that there was no way such an expression could be faked.
Butterflies started fluttering in his chest, and the longer he looked at the beautiful dark-haired wizard, the larger the butterflies grew.
Before they could exchange any more words Peverell’s eyes wandered over his shoulder and suddenly grew large and dismayed.
“Abraxas,” he breathed in a horrified whisper.
“Excuse me?” Tom asked, not sure he’d hear right, but then he heard Malfoy call his name from a short distance away. “I take it you’re not very friendly with our resident Malfoy,” Tom chuckled, more relieved than he cared to admit to seeing that Peverell wasn’t in the least bit interested in Malfoy.
“He’s an alright bloke, you know… when you’re not his current love interest,” he whispered before straightening out with a friendly smile forced onto his face. Now that Tom had something to compare to that smile, he could easily see how forced it was. Nothing at all like the beaming smile he had not two minutes before.
“Malfoy, a pleasure to see you this evening,” Peverell greeted charmingly, gaining himself a small, inconspicuous glare from Tom.
‘Well, if one doesn’t want to be found attractive, they shouldn’t act so damned charming,’ thought Tom.
“The pleasure is all mine, Peverell,” ‘Braxas smirked in what he probably thought was a seductive and appealing way. Tom thought that he failed terribly, and looking at Harry’s pinched face, he’d have to say that the man agreed with him. “Evening, Tom,” Malfoy nodded vaguely in his direction, barely acknowledging him and never taking his eyes off Peverell.
After a moment of awkward silence, Harry decided that it was time to extract himself from the situation.
“Right then, gentlemen,” Harry said, pushing himself off the wall. “I’ve got some roast pork and sweet potatoes calling my name. Same time next week, Riddle?” he asked as he straightened out the strap of his bag.
“Tom. Call me Tom,” he repeated shyly when Peverell turned around to give him an infectious grin. “We’re friends now, are we not?” he asked, almost hesitantly.
“Sure we’re friends,” Harry smiled. “You call me Hadrian then,” he insisted. “See you later, Tom ,” he smirked, sending him a mischievous wink. Tom almost sighed at the way his deep velvety voice sounded his name. “Malfoy,” he said in parting, before turning the corner and moving out of sight.
“I thought you didn’t need friends, Tom,” Malfoy said to him, sounding perplexed and jealous all at the same time. If he was jealous of him or Peverell, Tom wasn’t entirely sure.
“I don’t, but I am willing to make an exception for Peverell,” he admitted, mostly to see what Abraxas would say.
He wasn’t disappointed. Abraxas opened and closed his mouth several times, his face growing redder each time he repeated the action. It was very comical, Tom thought. At least it would be if he were able to draw amusement from such matters.
“Does that-” he started but thought to reword his question. “Do you want...” he struggled again, finally drawing out the last bit of Tom’s patience.
“Will you just spit it out already, ‘Braxas?” he snapped, having grown more than irritated with him.
“Do you fancy Peverell?” he practically spat before he could stop himself.
Tom sneered at his lack of restraint but decided that this was the best opportunity to shut down Malfoy’s advances on Peverell. “Not that it would be any of your business, but no, I don’t currently have an interest in Hadrian beyond friendship. But I wouldn’t be entirely opposed to the idea if such an opportunity were to present itself,” he said, before making his own way towards the great hall.
Roast pork and sweet potatoes did sound very good. It didn’t matter that he didn’t usually like sweet potatoes, he was sure that some gravy would solve the small issue nicely.
Harry was lounging in his usual spot on top of the roof of the Astronomy tower, unable to tear the stupid grin from his face. Even Dumbledore had commented on his unusually upbeat mood during their meeting that evening.
“Today turned out to be quite productive,” came Death’s neutral voice from next to him, scaring him seven ways into the next century.
Well, maybe not quite, but he had startled him.
“I really need to put a fucking bell on you,” he growled, his good mood instantly diminishing.
“Don’t act like such a pussy, Potter.”
“It’s Peverell, now,” Harry reminded him. It was better not to mix these things around too much.
“To me, you’ll never stop being that lost little shit that couldn’t figure out why he’d stopped aging,” Death shrugged, sitting down in the open space next to Harry.
“Need I remind you that you took your sweet time introducing yourself to me?” Harry smirked, enjoying this little trip down memory lane. “How was I supposed to know that simply using all three objects in the same evening would automatically make me immortal?”
Those were the simple days. Back when had just defeated the Darkest wizard of all time and thought that he finally had a chance at a normal life.
Life had been going really well. He was married, thinking about having children and building a future. The only worry he had back then was the fact that he didn’t look a day over seventeen. He’d convinced himself that it was nothing, wizards aged differently, right? Completely disregarding the fact that everyone around him seemed to be ageing normally.
He’d been very wrong indeed.
But he only realised that when Death came swooping into his life. Harry was not ashamed to admit that he fainted when Death visited him for the first time.
“Five years, if memory serves,” Death commented lightly.
“Five years,” Harry agreed.
Yes, Death had allowed him five years of peace before letting him know that life would never be the same for him again.
And it wasn’t. His wife and friends grew older while he stayed the same, growing only more powerful with each passing year.
He had left Ginny when he was twenty-six years old, allowing her to find someone she could grow old with. At that point in his life, it had been the hardest thing he’d ever had to do, but he had done it.
He had watched his friends have families, live their lives, and grow old. He had gone to each one of their funerals with tears streaming down his cheeks, until the last one.
His Teddy’s funeral was the last he could take before he and Death started wandering through different time periods, educating himself in whatever branch of magic caught his fancy. He had even dabbled in various different trades, ever expanding his set of skills.
Over the centuries there was no subject he’d left untouched, and it would seem as if the world had nothing new to offer him, yet funnily enough, each day he seemed to be learning something new anyway.
“All joking aside, it did seem like a most productive day,” Death repeated, and Harry knew that he was smiling softly under that dark hood of his. That big old teddy bear.
“It was,” he nodded, leaning back and stretching his hands under his head so that he could comfortably look up at the stars. “Orion is a surprisingly good researcher, you know, for being a total spaz. It also seems like I’m finally getting through to Dumbledore.”
“Yes, and last, but not least important; Tom Riddle is absolutely smitten with Hadrian Peverell,” Death teased, bumping his knee into Harry’s.
“Shuddup,” he mumbled, blushing, but couldn’t help but smile goofily up at the stars. “He is, isn’t he?” he asked him, glancing at him bashfully from the side of his eye.
Death snorted and rolled his eyes.
“He was different. I don’t know how to explain it,” Harry told him dreamily.
“Three years do make a difference, Harry. And remember that you’ve never met a Tom that hadn’t already made a Horcrux,” Death pointed out.
And this time around Tom wouldn’t get to make his first one, not if Harry had anything to say about it.
Immortality was a gift that he would gladly give him. Alchemy was one of his best subjects, not that there were any subjects that he was particularly bad at. Immortality was something he could give him, but only if Tom chose the right path for himself.
“If this all goes south I’m still blaming you,” Harry warned him.
“What happened to the positive little boy that I took under my wing?”
“He spent way too much time with you,” Harry deadpanned before turning around to grin at his friend.
It was about two in the morning when Harry made his way back to the dungeons. “Boomslang,” he said through a yawn, tiredly stretching his hands over his head.
The portrait hole opened for him and he quickly made his way in, enjoying the immediate change in temperature he felt. He was going to head straight to his dorm room when he noticed that there was a figure hunched over on the plush black loveseat next to the fireplace, furiously scribbling away on a roll of parchment.
It didn’t take him long to realise that it was Tom sitting there, his beautiful face being lit up by the warm light of the fireplace.
“Riddle?” he called out gently as to not startle him. Tom looked up at him with tired and blurred eyes, cutely rubbing away the sleep from his eyes. “What are you doing up at this late hour?” he asked him, moving closer.
“Peverell? I could ask you the same thing. And didn’t we already agree that it’s Tom?” he asked him with a small, tired smirk.
“We did,” he agreed. “And I’m awake because I’m a bit of an insomniac. Wandering around the castle halls at night helps me clear my mind enough to fall asleep for a few hours,” he admitted. “Do you mind?” he asked gesturing towards the empty place next to him.
Tom shook his head. “Not at all,” he said, shuffling to the side to make some more space for him.
“Cheers, Tom,” he said before lowering himself to the loveseat. “So, what are you doing up?” he asked again, giving the parchment in Tom’s hands a curious look.
“I was working on my DADA essay, but it’s almost done. I’ve just got to finish it up,” he said, dipping his quill into the ink bottle that was resting on top of the coffee table.
“I’m beginning to see that you don’t mess about when it comes to your education, do you, Tom?” he chuckled amusedly.
Tom threw him a look that let him know how stupid he thought that question was, before lowering his head back to his essay with a concentrated look on his face.
“Well, since I’m here I might as well have a look at it before you hand it in tomorrow,” Harry offered.
“In a minute,” he told him distractedly, and Harry just allowed himself to watch the younger boy as he worked.
True enough, one minute later Tom put his quill down and started looking over his finished work, looking pleased with the end result. “Here,” he said, handing him the still drying parchment.
Harry took the offered essay and carefully read over each elegantly written word. He couldn’t help but feel astonished at the way the fourteen-year-old was able to articulate himself. He was also surprised that he had actually bothered to use the notes he had made for him earlier. Tidbits of information he had offered him, voluntarily twined with Tom’s own words. For some reason that had his throat drying and his chest constricting.
He cleared his throat and gave him an impressed tilt of the head. “If Professor Merrythought doesn’t give you an O, I’ll go file a complaint myself,” he told him in a small show of praise.
“Thanks, again, for helping me,” Tom told him, for once not finding it hard to say the words and actually mean them.
“Don’t mention it, kid,” Harry waved off only to recoil at the venomous glare Tom send his way.
“Is that really what you see me as? Some little kid?” Tom asked him before he could stop the words from spilling from his mouth.
“I’m sorry,” Harry rushed to apologise, stretching out both of his open palms in a show of peace. “I should have known that you would find such a term of endearment derogatory.”
“So you do see me as a kid,” Tom mumbled, closing off his expression.
“Tom, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a kid. You’re fourteen! You have your whole life ahead of you. Enjoy your last few years of adolescence, because you’ll have more than plenty of time to be an adult,” he promised, trying to rectify the damage he had done with one obtuse comment.
“What if I don’t? What if I don’t have my whole life ahead of me? You said it yourself, the bombs the muggles are using in their war are horrible. Being a parentless child means that I’m stuck in that awful muggle orphanage right in the middle of the war zone. What if next summer I don’t make it out? Or the summer after that? What if right now is all I have?” he asked him, desperate for answers he knew that Hadrian couldn’t give him.
‘Merlin, he must be really tired if he’s sharing this with me,’ thought Harry wearily.
“Would you believe me if I said I know otherwise?” Harry asked him quietly, not looking away from those frightened grey eyes. Wanting desperately to reach out and comfort him, but he couldn’t. Not yet.
Tom frowned at his question, searching his bright green eyes for any sign of deceit, but found none.
“Are you a seer?” he asked him, clearly wary of his own theory.
Hadrian chuckled and shook his head.
“Then how would you know something like that if you can’t predict the future?” Tom challenged.
“Magic,” he told him simply with a wicked smirk, drawing a small smile out of Tom.
“That hardly explains anything at all,”
“Or maybe it explains everything,” Harry countered with a shrug. “I promise that one day you’ll know what I’m talking about, but for now you’re just going to have to take my word for it.”
“Take your word for it?” Tom repeated incredulously.
“Yes, you know. Trust me,” Harry said cheekily.
Tom sighed and rolled his eyes. “You’re really something else, Peverell.”
“Hadrian,” he corrected. “We’re friends now, remember?” he teased.
“As a friend, can I ask you something, Hadrian?” he asked, testing how the name sounded on his lips. He had to admit that it sent a very pleasant and warm feeling through him.
When Hadrian nodded his consent, he bit the corner of his lips, wondering if maybe he should have left well enough alone, but decided to brave the question that had been plaguing him since the last Saturday.
“Why didn’t you like me when we first met?”
“Excuse me?” Harry squeaked a pitch too high, taken aback by this turn in questioning.
“I got the impression that you felt uncomfortable in my company,” Tom explained, not beating around the bush.
Harry blinked at him, completely at a loss at what to tell him. He hadn’t realised that he had failed so miserably at concealing what he felt. He’d been aiming for mild indifference, not dislike.
“You reminded me of someone I knew a long time ago,” he found himself admitting, and that was the truth. This Tom standing in front of him was two Horcruxes away from his Tom. They weren’t the same person.
“Oh?” Tom asked him surprised, not expecting that answer.
“Yes,” Harry replied giving him a weary smile. “In some ways, you two are exactly the same, and at the same time completely different.”
“He hurt you.” It wasn’t a question. Tom could easily see it in the way his beautiful eyes had dimmed. It was as if a bright star had been extinguished, leaving them to drown in darkness. He hadn’t realised how drawn he was to that light until it was gone.
“He did,” choked Harry. “But where he is he won’t ever hurt me again,” he reassured him, trying to muster the best smile he could while faced with the image of his nightmares.
Tom’s features were too soft, gentle in a way that he had never seen before. It was too much for him and he had to look away.
Tom wanted to ask him more about this person. Wanted to find out his location and destroy him with his bare hands. This sudden surge of protectiveness took him by surprise, but he was too far gone to question it.
He opened his mouth to ask his questions, but one look at Hadrian's stoic face made him change his mind. Another time. There would be time for such questions.
“I think I’m going to head up and have a little kip,” Harry said, rubbing his knees before getting up. “Goodnight, Tom,” he waved.
“Night, Hadrian,” he called after his retreating back, slumping back into the loveseat.
There was only one thing Tom knew for sure, and that was that Hadrian Peverell was going to turn his whole world around.
Yes, he felt a healthy amount of anxiety towards the oncoming change, yet he couldn’t find it in himself to do anything about it.
Hello lovely readers. I'd like to apologise for taking a while to upload the chapter, but it's finally here ^^ I hope you've enjoyed it.
I also wanted to thank everyone who has taken an interest in the story, and for all the comments and kudos. You're all really amazing!
November 20th, 1941
Harry hadn’t always loved Tom, despite what a certain celestial being might suggest to the contrary. There had indeed been a time when all he felt for Tom Riddle was a well-deserved amount of hatred and contempt, completely devoid of any warm and illogical feelings, besides, perhaps, an almost minuscule yet still uncomfortable prick of pity.
Things had been simple then, when he’d hated Tom and had been able to unflinchingly plot his demise. Because that had been Harry’s ultimate objective when he’d travelled to 1944 over four centuries ago— dispose of Tom Marvolo Riddle.
Harry hadn’t done it out of any sense of righteousness as he might have first led himself to believe. Had his intentions really been so noble , he’d have simply removed Merope from the equation and spared Tom Sr all the months of rape and years of trauma he’d had to endure .
No, the spontaneous trip through time had been prompted by the fact that he’d been feeling hollow and so inexplicably bored with everything .
He’d been going through an existential crisis of sorts for quite a few years. He’d even given up the magical world for a while there and met a young muggle man he fancied himself in love with.
Merlin , he’d been a right fool.
It’s almost unnecessary to mention that the relationship hadn’t lasted very long. The man died, as all living things besides himself tend ed to do, and he’d felt nothing .
But that wasn’t quite true, because Harry had felt relief—sweet relief at the knowledge that he could finally drop the charade.
And wasn’t he just the cruellest of monsters?
He’d felt no grief over the death of the man he’d spent the previous couple of years pretend ing to love, and he couldn’t even muster any sincere amount of guilt regarding his lack of… lamentation. The truth had left him thoroughly shaken and feeling more lost than ever before.
He hadn’t mentioned any of this to Death, of course. Harry couldn’t possibly give him the satisfaction of knowing that he’d been right all along. The gloating that would have followed would have been unbearable.
Once Harry had accepted the situation for what it was, he’d been desperate, so utterly desperate to feel something —anything at all.
He’d wanted out of the monotony he was trapped in—out of the cage he’d foolishly lured himself into.
Then, the solution to his plight had come to him in the form of a stray image in his head—the disfigured visage of Lord Voldemort. It had truly sprung onto him out of nowhere, as he hadn’t spared the monster a single thought in some decades. But in hindsight, it was obvious that his subconscious would feed him that specific image when he’d been so dolorous and filled to the brim with the need to feel .
The hatred he’d felt for the snake-faced beast that had tormented him throughout his early youth had remained unmatched, even after all those years. None had ever come close to making his blood boil in the same way the Dark Lord had .
He’d never been proud of it, but even after he vanquished Lord Voldemort, he hadn’t been able to quench his loathing and need for vengeance. He’d always thought that once Voldemort was dead, he’d be free, but instead, he felt unsatisfied and filled with unresolved rage.
His loathing for the man was so powerful and violent that , if left unchecked, outmeasured any and all other emotions he’s ever felt. Yes, feeling hatred was much better than the senseless cycle of numbness he’d found himself stuck in. And so the game had begun, and off in search of Tom Marvolo Riddle he went.
Not that, at the time, he’d allowed himself to realise his true intentions. Back then, this unwavering truth had been masked under a heavy layer of denial.
True intentions aside, what Harry had failed to take into account was the fact that he’d actually have it in himself to feel attracted towards the heinous monster.
Harry had forgotten just how twisted he’d become. Forgotten that he was aeons old and a jaded, immortal soul removed from the Gryffindor Golden Boy he once was. Forgotten that the face he donned and the memories he carried with him were all that remained of that boy.
Sure, when the seed had first been planted in the form of a wicked dream, he’d fought against it and retreated into himself, hiding like a coward behind his mental shields. It had taken him a while to break through the numbness and denial, but when he did, he’d welcomed the wrongness that washed over him with open arms.
It had been such a profane concept, bedding the murderer of his parents—bedding the man he’d once murdered himself. So wrong, wrong, wrong . But, oh Merlin , the way his body had responded to the dream... He hadn’t been able to remember the last time he’d felt so aroused.
‘ Sweet Mordred and Morgana, save my soul ’, he thought when the delicious shame had seared through him, leaving him breathless and craving for more . It had been even more exhilarating than the anger and hatred he’d felt towards Voldemort, and for the first time in decades, Harry had felt truly alive.
It was around the second week of October, six weeks into the new school term, that found Harry Stevenson standing in the empty clearing where he’d once sat with Sirius Black after the whole ordeal in the Shrieking Shack.
The whomping willow was years away from being planted, but when Harry wasn’t lost in his own mind, he could vividly picture its thick branches and strong roots. Could almost feel the rough bark under his touch.
He stood with his back to the castle, his emerald eyes bright amidst the absolute darkness of the night—watchful but unseeing. Thick rain was pelting down heavily around him, but he just stood still, allowing the rain to soak through all of his clothes. He didn’t feel cold, didn't even notice his soaked clothes or the frosty wind that was billowing around him. He felt numb to the world, his mind swallowed by a never-ending dark tunnel.
He had no motivation to leave the soothing darkness, didn’t wish to escape its secure confines because it was simple here behind his defences. No feelings, no thoughts, and no complications . There was only protective darkness keeping away all his unwanted demons.
Lightning struck not far from where he stood, for a brief moment flashing light upon his surroundings, but his open emerald eyes were left unseeing. Seconds later thunder roared loudly as if vying for his attention, but he didn’t even flinch or register the ringing in his ears.
He was still in the tunnel, feeling unafraid and unconcerned with his whereabouts. He was contentedly standing amidst the darkness when the faintest of whispers reached his ears. At first, it was unintelligible and easy to ignore, but as the whispering kept on persisting it began to grow louder.
“Harry,” it said, but he walked away from the intrusion, deeper into the tunnel, trying to escape the incessant whispering breaking his peace. But it didn’t matter how far he walked, the whispering followed him until it grew too loud to ignore.
“Harry!” the voice boomed one last time with such ferocity that it shattered the tunnel walls around him. Then Harry felt a presence behind him, felt it tug him out of the depths of his mind, and suddenly he was left standing in the empty clearing where nothing was simple anymore.
“It took you long enough,” Death seethed next to him, but Harry didn’t notice, too lost in the onslaught of horrifying images and thoughts he’d been trying to escape from.
“Do you know how long I’ve been trying to break through your defences?” Death asked him, voice tight , alight with worry and fury. “What were you thinking? Were you purposefully trying to get lost in there?” Honestly, the man never learned!
Harry just looked at him blankly and simply stood there, unresponsive.
Death invaded Harry’s personal space, his intimidating form almost pressed up against him and stared him down, but his friend’s striking eyes remained detached.
“Damn it, Harry,” he bit out. “Would you be so kind and snap out of whatever the fuck this is long enough to explain to me what the hell happened?” Death demanded, inches away from Harry’s face.
When Harry remained unresponsive Death ’s worry grew, and if there was one thing he absolutely abhorred it was the pesky constricting feeling in his chest that the worry brought along with it. Unfortunately, since his acquaintanceship with Harry started, worry ha d been a steady companion of his; along with exasperation, exhaustion , and fury.
Sighing, Death tilted his hooded head to the side and started seriously debating with himself whether a punch to the face would jar Harry out of whatever stupor he was in. As he was about to come to a decision, Harry finally cocked his head back and faced Death with a vacant expression fixed on his face, his eyes all but dead.
For a few moments, Harry stared at him with those lifeless eyes of his saying nothing at all, and if Death hadn’t known any better he would have thought that his soul had vacated his body. But he did know better and the alternative didn’t look very pleasing.
Death noticed Harry’s lips twitch as if he were trying to suppress a grin, then he pressed them tightly together into a thin line. His dead eyes became alive, gaining a crazed glint to them that sent a foreboding shiver down Death’s spine. In that split second he knew that something had changed… something irreversible.
He watched as Harry’s chest heaved with a few shuddering breaths and then his face twisted in a way that he wasn’t sure meant that Harry was trying to contain his laughter, or trying not to spill the contents of his stomach, so he took a few cautious steps back just in case it was the latter.
Needless to say, Death was beyond confused at this intense display of uncontrolled human emotion. He assumed that Harry might be going through what the mortals liked to label as a ‘mental breakdown’ and he wasn’t quite sure how to help his friend with his newly acquired mental affliction.
His attention was drawn back to Harry when some cackles managed to pass through his tightly pressed lips, which were then quickly followed by a long, pained, whine that would have broken a demon’s heart. Then, to Death’s complete horror, Harry’s shoulders started shaking! He thought that he’d been about to start sobbing, that is, until he heard Harry burst into loud, insane, mirthless laughter.
Death stared at his friend , completely bewildered , then took another two instinctive steps away from him.
Harry was clutching his sides, his back hunched over and gasping for breath, unable to control his mad laughter. Death couldn’t be sure, what with the heavy rain, but he thought he saw tears running down Harry’s cheeks before being washed away by the deluge .
“M-Morgana, I’ve lost m-my mind,” Harry managed to gasp out through bouts of cackles, sounding entirely too pleased with that conclusion. Not that Death could say he disagreed, especially not when his friend was still shaking with uncontrollable mirth and sobs.
Suddenly, Harry straightened his back and tried to shake his head clear. “You will never-” he tried to say before he broke off snickering again, the kind of snickering that sent a shiver of ice-cold dread through Death.
Death raised a brow behind his hood and waited patiently while Harry attempted to compose himself. Hopefully, it would happen before he started growing roots.
Harry closed his eyes and pushed his wet hair away from his face, finally noticing the storm he was standing in. He cleared his throat before he exhaustedly dropped to the muddy ground with his elbows resting on his bent knees, and his face shamefully buried in his hands.
“Merlin,” he croaked, inhaling a deep breath of much-needed air. “I think I’ve lost my mind,” he announced once again, in time with another dramatic strike of lightning.
Death waited for the ear-splitting roar of thunder to pass before repeating his earlier question, only in a more gentle manner this time.
“What happened, Harry?”
Harry sighed despondently and tilted his head back, allowing the rain to hit his face. His eyes were searching for the stars which always managed to ground him. But there were no stars in the sky that night , only clouds and rain.
“I had a dream,” he confessed. “Nightmare, really,” he amended with a self-deprecating sneer.
When Harry didn’t seem like he was going to elaborate any further, Death was quick to press, “Do you want to tell me what it was about?” he asked cautiously, afraid that he would burst out in another bout of craziness.
“Not really,” Harry admitted , his lips twisting into a humourless smirk. “We need to find me a good mind healer, yeah? First thing in the morning I’m going to go get permission from Slughorn to make a quick trip to St. Mungo ’s, because I’m telling you, Death, there is something seriously wrong with me,” he insisted, his green eyes wild and desperate.
A mind healer wasn’t the only healer he’d be needing if he stayed out in the cold and rain for much longer. Death was about to say as much, but Harry decided that he wasn’t quite done talking yet.
“I mean, it’s sick. No way around it. I’m fucking sick,” he spat. “Why the fuck else would I dream about…?” he trailed off questioningly, sounding unbelievably confused and lost.
Death truly didn’t want to press his friend if he didn’t want to talk about it, but a half-assed explanation like that wasn’t exactly enlightening or comforting and aroused his curiosity to an almost unbearable measure. He was tempted to reach through their mental link, but he’d learned his lesson about privacy a long time ago. He shuddered at the unpleasant memory and shook his head. No, trying to read his friend’s mind was a very bad idea.
“I’ve managed to betray the memory of everyone I’ve ever loved,” Harry moaned guiltily, putting his head in his hands again. This quickly caught Death’s attention. What on earth had the boy done this time?
“Why? Why the bloody fuck would I dream about….” he trailed off miserably.
Death was not losing his patience. He really wasn’t. His right eye was twitching because of other, unrelated, reasons.
“Why would I dream about shagging Riddle?” Harry finally managed to choke out, his complexion turning a sickly shade of green as he did so.
Death blinked, not quite sure that he’d heard him correctly—hoping that he hadn’t—but one look at Harry’s green eyes swimming in disgust and self-loathing washed away any doubts he could try to delude himself with.
Okay. That… It was… unexpected, he allowed himself to think, not wanting to dwell on the numerous other words he could use to describe such an… unexpected situation.
To say that Death was stumped speechless would be the understatement of the millennia, and to be honest, he didn’t think there were any words in existence that would be able to offer Harry any comfort.
“I know , right?” Harry chuckled. “Merlin, coming here was a mistake. I should never have tried to change shit. If- Fuck!” he screamed before throwing himself back onto the cold, muddy ground, limbs spread-eagle .
Death wasn’t sure what Harry was trying to accomplish. Did he think he would get hypothermia and die? He should know better, he c ouldn’t die.
Well, it wasn’t as if Harry was exactly thinking clearly, not that Death blamed him. A mind healer didn’t sound like a bad idea. You know, just to be sure.
Death opened his mouth to say something—anything, but Harry cut him off before he could voice the first syllable.
“Don’t . There is absolutely nothing you can say to me right now,” he growled , unknowingly echoing Death’s earlier thoughts. “This situation is horrible enough without your smart-ass quips and sarcasm.”
Death glared indignantly. He wasn’t that insensitive!
“I should head back to the castle. I don’t fancy seeing what happens when I’m struck by lightning,” Harry murmured. He got to his feet and frowned down at his mud-caked robes. With a flick of his wrist, his clothes were once again clean and dry, impervious to the storm. He pulled up the hood of his robes and started making his way back to the castle.
“Don’t follow me,” he warned Death with his back turned.
“Insolent brat,” Death grumbled under his breath. “See if I try pulling you out of that stupid tunnel the next time you decide to take your conscience on a walkabout.”
Harry ignored him and kept at his leisurely pace back to the castle, allowing the cold wind to clear his mind. Nothing was as sobering as the cutting winds of winter.
So what if he had an erotic dream featuring Riddle in it? A dream was still just that, a dream. There was no deeper meaning behind it. Seventeen-year-old Riddle was very attractive . Harry would have to be positively blind not to notice. He’d known that about Riddle before he came here. He’d known that he was beautiful, impossibly and unfairly so, but that did not mean his angelic face didn’t hide a demon beneath it.
It was only a dream, he tried to comfort himself again, and again, forcing himself deeper into denial.
Only a dream. No cause for panic, only some good therapy.
Harry was walking on auto-pilot as his thoughts ran rampant in his mind. He hadn’t even noticed that he’d entered the shelter and warmth of the castle walls. Had he noticed, he might have tried to sneak around better.
“Would you like to explain what you’re doing out at this hour, Stevenson?” The voice immediately stopped Harry in his tracks and made his eyes widen in horror at his devastating ly bad luck. “I know it’s you, Stevenson. Might as well drop the hood and face me,” Riddle challenged.
For a moment, Harry debated on running. Riddle wouldn’t run after him, just inform Slughorn and give him a few extra detentions. But then he would seem like a coward, and that was simply unacceptable.
“Just out for a midnight stroll, Riddle,” he said as he turned around and pushed back the hood, thankfully sounding much more confident and aloof than he actually felt.
“It’s past three in the morning, Stevenson,” Riddle corrected him oh-so-kindly.
So literal, Harry thought with a scoff , but then his eyebrows raised curiously. Patrolling didn’t go until this late, not even for the Head Boy.
“That just means you can’t give me detention, Riddle. Not without letting Slughorn know about your own rule-breaking,” Harry smirked triumphantly before turning around to continue on his merry way, thinking that the crisis had been averted. There was no need for any further contact with Riddle, that is until he heard his graceful footsteps following him.
Why was Riddle following him?
As if he’d read his thoughts, Riddle explained , “Head Boy quarters are in the same direction, Stevenson.”
Right. That luck of his again. Dodge a bullet just to be faced with Fiendfyre kind of luck.
The silence between them was tense, and after the events of that night, Riddle’s proximity was unsettling and unwelcome. But what could he do short of apparating into his dorm room? Now that wouldn’t arouse any unwanted questions at all.
Harry had been content to bear the distance back to their respective dorms in silence, but Riddle had other plans , it seemed .
“What is it about me that you find so insulting, Stevenson?”
The question caught Harry by surprise and almost made him stumble in his steps, but he managed to regain his balance just in time not to make a fool of himself.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Riddle,” he shrugged.
Tom rolled his eyes and tutted reprovingly. “It’s rather obvious, what with the way your lips always twist into a frown at the sight of me. Not to mention the way your eyes burn with judgment for just a moment before they dull back into a forced indifference.”
The accusing tone he used didn’t go unnoticed by Harry, nor did it manage to hide Riddle’s genuine curiosity and frustration.
“I think you’ve been reading too much into all of this. Just because I don’t mindlessly bow to your supposed greatness doesn’t mean that I find anything about you ‘insulting’, as you’ve put it.”
To Harry’s surprise, Tom’s didn’t descend into a fit of madness for daring to question his greatness. Instead, he kept on smirking, grey eyes glinting with amusement.
“You hide it very well, I’ll allow you that. But what you fail to notice is that when I’m in your line of sight your whole demeanour changes, Stevenson. The meek act you’ve so carefully constructed crumbles helplessly around you. Your slightly hunched shoulders straighten, your back arches defiantly, and your chin juts out proudly. And in place of the meek little mudblood you’ve been trying so hard to portray stands a beautiful warrior.”
At those last two complimenting words Harry stopped walking, not quite believing his ears.
Was Riddle- was he coming on to him? He couldn’t possibly.
Unfortunately, that moment of confounded daze gave Riddle the opportunity to further invade his personal space.
“Are you going to lie to me again, or will you tell the truth?” Tom breathed, inches away from Harry’s face.
‘Are you going to lie to me again, or will you tell the truth?’ Those words… those exact words would be whispered to him again in much the same manner, but by a different man, in a different time.
The scene morphed, and Harry was no longer standing in the middle of the cold dungeon corridors. Instead, he found himself in the Gryffindor dorm room surrounded by red and gold, roughly backed into the door by none other than Sirius Black.
“Sirius,” he sighed irritatedly , but allowed the shorter boy to pin his hands above his head.
“Well? What’s it going to be, Harry?” he pressed as he teasingly ground their hips together in a way he knew drove his lover mad.
Seeing the honey trap for what it was, Harry bit back a moan and stopped himself from grinding back into Sirius.
“I don’t understand why you have to keep pressing the issue, Black,” he hissed through clenched teeth. “I thought we agreed that this wasn’t up for discussion.”
“Don’t be cross, darlin’,” Sirius pleaded softly, dropping a featherlight kiss onto his neck. “But you know perfectly well that I only agreed to drop it for the time being. I’ve been an amazingly attentive, understanding, and supportive boyfriend-”
“There’s no need to be so modest, love,” Harry interrupted with an incredulous scoff.
Sirius rolled his eyes at Harry’s transparent attempt at changing the subject and ignored the comment.
“I think that I’ve been very patient with you, Harry. I’ve allowed you your secrets for a very long time now,” he whispered into his ear, sending a delicate shiver down Harry’s spine. “But by now we’ve shagged often enough to earn me the right to some answers,” Sirius teased lightly before gently nibbling on Harry’s earlobe. “And until I get my answers I’ll be keeping my talented mouth and hands to myself.”
And with that, Sirius dropped Harry’s wrists and stepped away from him, giving him time to process the ultimatum he’d hidden behind his crass and teasing words.
Harry ran a hand through his hair and sighed.
“You don’t play fair, Black,” he murmured gingerly.
“Never said I did, darlin’,” he joked, shooting Harry one of his beautiful mischievous smiles, but Harry wasn’t fooled. Carefully concealed behind the smile and playfulness laid a deep hurt which stemmed from Harry’s lack of trust in him.
Harry had known that this moment would come—had anticipated and dreaded it—but had also foolishly held out hope that things would remain uncomplicated between them. But as fate would have it, the circumstances weren’t so, and Sirius was finally making him choose.
Trust him with his secrets, or lose him entirely.
There was no more room between them for any more lies or half-truths.
Suddenly, Sirius's smile faltered and twisted into a pained grimace as he internally battled with himself, but then his he pressed his soft lips into a decisive line, eyes shining resolutely with whatever silent decision he’d just come to .
“I know that there isn’t much I take seriously, but I am very serious about us, Harry,” he said earnestly, stunning grey eyes begging Harry to believe him. “I- I need you to understand that I’m not playing around,” he added fervently. “Merlin, I- I-” he stuttered, releasing a strangled chuckle. He nervously licked his bottom lip and sighed, “I don’t know how or when it happened since you kinda snuck up on me, but you’re it for me now, Harry. I know that I haven’t made my intentions towards you very clear, because I’ve got layers upon layers of fucked up insecurities and I completely suck at explaining and showing my feelings. But know that if you’ll have me, I intend to spend the rest of my life with you .” Sirius ended with a croaked whisper.
Harry’s eyes widened at the admission and he sucked in a sharp, startled gasp, feeling completely astonished. Sirius had, in his own endearing way, just proclaimed his love and devotion towards him and it sent his heart racing uncontrollably in his chest.
For a moment he was struck speechless, feeling completely dazed as he tried to sort out his conflicting thoughts.
Harry loved Sirius. Merlin, he loved him so much, for so many years and in so many different ways. He represented so much for him; hope, strength, loss, grief, family, and a sense of belonging he’d never felt with anyone else besides Tom ; and that was the crux of the matter, wasn’t it? Thirty-three years later and he still wasn’t over him, no matter how much he’d like to believe otherwise. His heart still undeniably belonged to Tom, but it had been Sirius that had miraculously been able to heal his festering misery and broken spirit. It had been with Sirius’s help that he had finally begun feeling anything other than betrayal and heart-ache.
Allowing himself to get to know his parents and Sirius had been the best thing he had ever done for himself.
“Sirius, I-” he started to say, but what could he possibly say? How could he word what he felt without hurting the young man who was responsible for his renewed ability to see colour and beauty in the world?
Something in his eyes must have given away just how conflicted he felt because Sirius gave him a sad but reassuring smile.
“I know you’re still healing, Harry. That you’re still not over Tom.” Harry’s eyes immediately narrowed at the name, filling with a cold fury that sent a shudder through Sirius.
“How do you know that name?” Harry demanded through clenched teeth as he fought against the stinging agony and panic that threatened to overtake his senses.
Sirius steeled himself and gave him a small shrug. “You sometimes mumble his name in your sleep,” he admitted sheepishly. At Harry’s guilty expression he was quick to reassure him, “Mind, you don’t do it very often, but whenever you do it’s always followed by the most painful and heart-breaking whimper I’ve ever heard. It’s obvious that he’s caused you a lot of pain, and I’m not asking you to tell me about him. I don’t need to know about your past romantic relationships. I just want you to know that I’m not this Tom fellow. I’d never do anything to hurt you or betray your trust, Harry , because you’re the most precious and important person in my life, and whenever you’re ready to open up to me about yourself , I’ll be waiting for you.”
Harry shot up in his bed, head spinning in dazed disorientation as he heard Sirius’s heartfelt words echoing in his ears. It took him a few moments to gather his bearings, not quite sure where or when he was. He hesitantly opened his eyes and took in his blurred surroundings, waiting patiently for his memory to come back to him.
‘November 1941’, and with that one thought all the other facts fell into place.
His name was Hadrian Peverell.
It was the 20th of November , 1941.
He was on a mission to save Tom from himself and save the world from total annihilation.
Sirius was dead—had been dead for almost four centuries.
Harry sighed and dropped back onto his bed, feeling less rested than when he’d gone to sleep.
It had been a long time since he’d dreamt of Sirius, and he couldn’t help the fresh sting of grief it brought him, reminding him of the life he’d long lost.
The Sirius that would be born in a few years would never know him that way—would never grow to love him unconditionally.
Harry would play the role of beloved uncle to him. He’d watch him grow and create a life without him. He’d no longer be the most precious and important person to Sirius .
H e rationally knew that the path he’d chosen was for the best, realised that following this path meant that Sirius would never grow up in a hateful and malicious environment and that it gave him the opportunity to find someone who loved him as he deserved, but it didn’t stop him from hurting and missing what was never going to be.
With those thoughts clinging to him like a filthy, skin-rooted odour, Harry buried his head in his pillows and tried unsuccessfully to banish the memories of all the people he’ d ever loved and lost.
Harry was sitting at the Slytherin table , distractedly picking at his breakfast, not having much of an appetite after the restless night he’s had, and feeling beyond glad that it was Saturday and thus he had no classes to attend to.
Stupid dreams. He didn’t need his dreams to rehash old times with him. He remembered everything well enough on his own.
“Harry? You’ve not heard a word of what I just said, have you? Hello? Hadrian!”
Harry finally tuned into his surroundings when Orion started frantically waving his hand dangerously close to his face. Harry blinked himself back into the present and tilted his upper body away from the hazardous hand which had been close to poking out one of his eyes.
He threw Orion a bemused smile and gave him a small apologetic shrug. “Apologies, Orion. I’m feeling a bit out of it this morning,” he said, throwing in his irresistible grin for good measure.
Orion rolled his eyes at his friend and sighed in that overly dramatic way of his that reminded him painfully of Sirius. “I was inviting you, on behalf of my father, to join us at the Black manor for Yule. The invitation extends towards the whole duration of our break. I’d suggest accepting the invitation, Harry. Mother’s already prepared a room for you on father’s behest. He would be mighty upset should you decide to stay at Hogwarts, and insulted should you take up any other offer,” he warned him cheekily.
“I’ll be there too,” Alphard said from next to him but didn’t look up from his breakfast. “Anything to get away from Walburga,” he shuddered.
“I’ll just pretend I didn’t hear that, Cousin,” growled Orion from Harry’s other side before he turned to face him once again. “So?” he asked expectantly. “Can I tell father you’ve accepted his most generous offer?”
“Yule with the Blacks? Sure,” Harry agreed, trying his best not to glance down the table where he knew Tom was sitting, and trying not to think about how alone he’ll be over the holidays.
Maybe next year they would be able to spend Yule together.
“Brilliant! That’s settled then,” Orion beamed, then dug back into his bacon and eggs with un- P ureblood - like gusto. It was a good thing that his sister wasn’t around or he’d be receiving the scolding of the century.
Harry was about to reach for the last cinnamon roll when it was snatched from the plate by Fleamont who casually slid in beside Harry, pushing Orion to the side.
“Oy, that was my bun,” growled Harry at the same time that Orion snapped, “Watch it, Potter.”
“Lovely morning to you , too, Harry,” Fleamont said in between mouthfuls of the delicious cinnamon roll he’d stolen, completely ignoring Orion.
“We spend enough time with you as it is, Potter. Must you sully our breakfast with your presence as well?” Alphard grumbled as he bit into his apple. Harry shot him a glare, but Alphard just shrugged. “He’s the one stealing your cinnamon roll,” he pointed out.
True, Harry thought , and turned his glare back onto Fleamont.
“It’s Saturday. You owe me a rematch, remember?” Fleamont quickly redirected the conversation as he innocently continued munching away.
Oh, yeah. Harry had promised him a rematch the last Sunday when he’d won yet another game of seekers.
“I thought we were going to continue the chess game we started yesterday?” pouted Orion, sending him one of his puppy-eyed looks.
Yes, he’d promised that too, he thought and bit his lip.
“Would you be free this evening, Orion?” he asked him, hoping that it would put a stop the tantrum he was sure the younger Black was about to throw.
Orion narrowed his eyes at Fleamont but slowly started nodding his head in reluctant agreement. “That’s fine, Harry. We’ll play tonight,” he waved off, then directed a mocking smirk towards the Gryffindor boy. “I don’t know why you bother, Potter. Harry will beat you every single time you go up against him. He’s the best flier that’s ever been born !”
Had Harry forgotten to mention that Orion was his number one fan? Well , yeah, he really was.
Harry chuckled and reached around Monty to ruffle Orion’s hair, drawing an annoyed scowl from the little Black.
“It’s the Potter ego, Orion. He can’t take the fact that someone’s a better flier than him,” he explained playfully as he sat up, giving his grandfather a friendly pat on the back.
“You’re not a better flier, Peverell!” Fleamont insisted, pushing himself up with an indignant huff.
“I see you’ve spent a lot of time in Egypt recently, haven’t you?” Alphard said, joining in on the teasing jeers, which earned him a scathing glare from Fleamont.
Harry loved his friends. He really did.
“Let’s go settle this , then, Potter,” challenged Harry.
“Yes, let’s,” Fleamont agreed with a resolved nod. Poor lad didn’t stand a chance and didn’t even know it.
It hadn’t even been an official school match or anything of the sort, but all the Slytherins had been able to talk about all day was the trashing Potter received from Peverell in their small and friendly game of seekers. Well, it would be more accurate to say that the whole school was talking about it, but the Slytherins bragged relentlessly .
Earlier that morning at breakfast, Tom had seen Potter rudely invite himself over to the Slytherin table and help himself to the last cinnamon roll Hadrian had been about to reach for. A few minutes later , Potter whisked him away, and most of the school followed, seemingly having nothing better to do with their Saturday morning other than watching two boys repeatedly try to catch a small golden ball.
For some unfathomable reason, Tom had found himself amidst the crowd that had nothing better to do with their Saturday, gasping and cheering alongside them with each dive and turn Peverell made. His heart had stopped a beat or two when he’d watched him feign a dive, his broom mere inches away from the hard ground, before he’d skillfully pulled up in time to avoid a life-threatening collision. Unable to control his relief, Tom had embarrassingly stumbled backwards while clutching a hand to his chest. He had the exciting match to thank for the fact that no one noticed his momentary slip in composure.
He’d never felt partial to quidditch or any sort of flying, finding it a complete waste of time. He thought that about any sport or game really, but watching Hadrian Peverell fly was nothing short of poetry.
Tom had always thought that Hadrian was graceful, envying the way he was able to move around almost silently. But Hadrian flying? It was honestly the finest art he’d ever witnessed.
So much talent. So perfect in every way. He’d have to be blind and a complete brainless fool not to want him, not to wonder what it would be like to take and be taken by such a powerful man.
At that moment, Tom was making his way back to the Slytherin common room, having just spent several unproductive hours in the library pouring over various books for any sign of his possible heritage, and once again failing to find anything useful.
His lack of progress was beyond agitating, and the lack of contact he’s had with Hadrian over the past couple of days didn’t do anything to improve his foul mood.
Salazar, there was something seriously wrong with him. There must be for him to act so irrationally. Hadrian had all but consumed his thoughts and it was such a maddening experience, yet he couldn’t find it within himself to resent him for it, not really.
Had Tom not been so lost in thought , he might have been watching where he was going, and thus avoided the collision that sent him sprawling onto his back, only barely escaping what was sure to have been a severe concussion.
But he wasn’t—watching where he was going, that is—and that’s why Tom was currently groaning and rubbing his slowly bruising elbow.
A cutting insult was on the tip of his tongue, but it quickly died away when he heard the frantic and apologetic voice of Peverell.
“Tom? Fuck. I’m so sorry, Tom. I should’ve been watching where I was going. Here, let me help you up,” he said and bent down to offer his hand.
Usually—had it been anyone else, really—Tom would have slapped away the offered hand before growling out some choice words. He might have even thrown in a hex or three, depending on his mood. Now? Now he just took the offered hand with a small , gentle smile on his face and apologised. Apologised!
“No, it’s my fault. I was lost in thought and wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings. My sincerest apologies, Hadrian.” Morgana help him! He’d actually meant it.
Harry chuckled and grinned at him. “Let’s just agree that we both need to be more careful,” he said, then quickly dropped Tom’s hand, belatedly realising that he was still holding onto it. Ignoring the small disappoint ed pang at the fact that he was no longer touching him, Tom tried and failed to control his blush under Hadrian’s intense gaze and nodded his head dazedly.
He completely missed Hadrian’s next words and blinked in confusion. “Pardon?” he said, trying to focus less on Hadrian’s eyes and more on the words his soft-looking lips were forming.
“Is something the matter, Tom? Are you hurt?” he asked him, and Tom’s heart swelled uncomfortably at the genuine concern he heard in his voice.
“No, not at all. I’m fine,” he quickly reassured him, ignoring the painful throbbing he felt in his right elbow.
“Are you sure? Do you want me to escort you to the hospital wing?” he asked worriedly.
“Oh, no. That won’t be necessary,” Tom assured him, shaking his head.
“Alright , then,” Harry smiled.
Tom averted his gaze and forcefully stopped himself from fidgeting nervously. “You weren’t headed towards the dungeons, were you?” he asked before he could bite his tongue.
“No, I wasn’t. I’ve actually been wandering around for a while trying to escape the congratulating crowd. Who would have thought that Slytherin house could be so supportive?” he said sardonically, and it was easy to understand what he was alluding to. Peverell hadn’t forgotten about his encounter with Malfoy and Nott a month or so back, and Tom had seen both boys shake his hand earlier. It would seem that Hadrian didn’t tolerate hypocrisy.
“Quidditch seems to send the best of men into a lunatic frenzy,” Tom offered in mild defence of his sycophants.
“You don’t like quidditch, do you?” Hadrian asked him, but it sounded more like a statement to Tom’s ears.
“I don’t necessarily dislike the sport. I simply find that I have better things to spend my time on,” he told him diplomatically, not wanting to offend the man that quite clearly enjoyed the sport.
“And that’s not a crime,” Harry assured, noticing that the little guy looked a bit nervous about critiquing something that obviously meant a lot to him, which was rather astounding considering that his Tom wasn’t capable of even that small amount of genuine consideration and empathy.
“Some people might state otherwise,” grumbled Tom, thinking about the many arguments he’d had on the subject in his earlier years at Hogwarts.
“Mostly incompetent wannabees that live vicariously through witches and wizards that actually have the talent for flying,” Harry shrugged, wrinkling his nose in disgust. Tom smirked at Harry’s retort, appreciating the devil - may - care attitude that surfaced from time to time.
Peverell seem ed so caring and understanding all the time, that sometimes it was hard for Tom to remember that he was the same person that beat Malfoy and Nott wandlessly after taking a Crucio to the chest. Beautiful , that was, truly, but still hard to connect with the man standing in front of him.
“Don’t hold back, Peverell. Tell me what you really think about these— incompetent ‘wannabees’, was it? Not quite sure I’ve ever heard that term before, but I think that I get the gist of it.”
Hadrian rubbed his neck and grinned impishly . “Picked up the slang in America,” he fibbed quickly. “They’ve got this habit of butchering the queen's English.”
“You’ve spent time in America?” Tom asked him curiously. It must have been nice to travel the world. Tom had never been anywhere but London and Hogwarts. Orphans didn’t get to go on vacation. Not that anyone was going on vacation at the moment, what with the massive wars going on in both worlds.
“Some,” Hadrian hummed , but wasn’t forthcoming with any more information.
Not wanting their time together to end just yet, Tom, with his eyes averted shyly, timidly asked if Harry would like some company wherever it was he was heading to.
As soon as the words left his lips he wanted to hex himself for acting like a fool, but then Hadrian reached out and placed two fingers under his chin and tilted his face towards him, meeting his nervous gaze head-on.
The gentle touch took Tom by surprise, but the most disconcerting thing about it wasn’t the inappropriate familiarity of the action, but the fact that he didn’t mind the touch. It was widely known that Tom didn’t like to be touched—no exceptions. But the delicate fingers lightly touching his chin did not send his stomach churning in disgust ; instead, a different sensation gripped at his stomach. It was a burning clench that spread a tingling heat through his whole body.
“I was heading down to the kitchens. You’re welcome to join me if you like,” Hadrian offered, before abruptly snatching his fingers away from his chin and taking a small step away from him, leaving him cold.
“I’d love to. I missed dinner and I’m feeling rather peckish,” Tom managed to say through his disappointment.
“You shouldn’t be missing meals, Tom,” Hadrian scolded and started pulling the boy along towards the kitchens.
The next hour was spent talking about their interests. It was an inconsequential conversation that served no other purpose than to get to know one another better. It wasn’t something Tom usually engaged in or encouraged, but , as he’d begun to accept, Hadrian was the exception.
He didn’t care what they spoke about, or if they spoke at all. Hadrian’s presence alone was enough to warm his heart and immerse him in a state of contentedness.
They were now rounding the last corner that leads to the Slytherin dungeons, settling a heavy disappointment in Tom’s chest, knowing that they would now be going their separate ways.
It was once again irrational of him. He shouldn’t feel disappointed. He hadn’t even planned to speak to him until their next tutoring session, but it seem ed that logical thinking didn’t stop irrational feelings. It was a learning experience he truly could have done without.
“Could I tempt you for a game of chess? I’ve just finished a game with Orion, but somehow I think you’ll be a more worthy opponent. J ust don’t tell him that I said that,” he added quickly, looking over his shoulder to make sure said boy wasn’t anywhere within ear-shot.
Tom’s ears went pink at the compliment, and he tried not to preen. “I’d like that,” he agreed maybe a touch too enthusiastically.
He felt much too elated at the fact that Peverell has chosen to spend more time with him. It should terrify him, and he knew that he shouldn’t allow this. Peverell was a weakness he couldn’t allow himself the luxury to have. But in his presence, he lost all sense of self-preservation.
“Great!” Harian beamed, sounding very much like he meant it. “Should we make it interesting and involve a timer?”
Tom grinned his approval. He worked better under pressure anyway.
Death had been watching Harry and Tom from a short distance behind them, obscured from everyone, even Harry, and rolled his eyes. Humans and their attachments , he huffed silently inside his mind. Did Harry really have to act so undignifying ly buoyant in Tom’s company?
It irritated him. He knew that he had no right to feel this way, especially since he masterminded this whole situation—but he did.
Tom Riddle had always rubbed him the wrong way. The bastard had, after all, created seven Horcruxes just to avoid him, and those actions didn’t exactly endear him to Death. Then he had gone and hurt his Harry, which had turned his mild dislike to pure disdain.
He had hoped that with enough time Harry would forget about him, but , to Death’s utter surprise, it never came to pass.
Tom Riddle had managed to bury himself too deeply in Harry’s heart. Not to say that Harry hadn’t grown to be contented with his life, because surprisingly enough he had. Before the last war had peaked, Harry had reached a sense of tranquillity he’d never possessed before. But even so, Death had to admit that Harry had lost his fire—that exhausting passion for life that had always defined who he was.
The true reason Death had sent them back to this time—the reason he’d never dare confess to Harry—was that he wanted to offer Harry another chance with the one person he’d ever truly fallen in love with.
He hadn’t thought that watching them together would bother him so much.
But Harry was happy, so Death would try and be happy for him. Maybe.
Apologies for the long wait you guys. I hope you think it was worth it.
Thanks so much to everyone following this story and to any new readers that have taken an interest in it! I'd love to read any comments you'd like to share ^_^
Thanks to my beta for helping me make this story more enjoyable to read, as always!!
Till next time xxx