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Wake of Madness

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Harry struggles against the ropes tying him, and the ones on his left wrist, already ragged from Wormtail's shuddering knifework, start to pull apart under the strain. Crimson drips faster than ever from his torn flesh, but he swallows resolutely and ignores it, pulling the hand free, the snapping sounds overruled by the deafening sizzle of Voldemort's cauldron.

His legs aren't tied. All that's holding him back now is his right arm. His wand is on the floor, he won't be able to reach it until he's free.

He pulls the cloth gag from his mouth to mutter the Severing Charm, clawing his right hand to touch the ropes with his fingertips. He's surprised when they actually fray a little.

He presses his feet against Tom Riddle Sr's gravestone and braces, wrenching his right arm from the ropes.

Something snaps, and if the lightning strike of pain is anything to go by, it isn't just the binding. He hisses under his breath, unheard by the servant so focussed on his master's impending rebirth.

A roll to regain his footing and Harry's free.

He almost stoops for his wand on instinct, but it'd be useless. He can't cast left-handed, and his right couldn't hold a sheet of parchment right now, much less a wand.

Instead, he barrels on shaking, leaden legs towards the cauldron. Wormtail, caught by surprise as he nurses his bloody wrist, dodges out of the way as his self-preservation instincts kick in, leaving Harry with a clear shot towards the sparking, fizzling concoction.

It's clearly too sturdy to topple.

Harry's stride almost breaks as the hope drains from his body, but desperation rushes in to fill its place and he plants his foot into the soft earth as his mind forms an appropriately ill-thought-out plan.

There are two easy ways to ruin a potion:

Spill it.

Or contaminate it.

One option taken from him, Harry picks the other.

The graveyard explodes into brimstone and agony.


Something's different.

There's someone else there.

HaTomrry

And then something else.

Are these... tears?

He wipes them away irritably. It wouldn't do for a teendarkagerlord to be seen crying.

More tears take their place.

Unbidden, memories arise. They shouldn't. They're not importantnot his.

He buries them away, dragging a hand over his eyes again, and returns to reality: Dissipating smoke. The graveyard. And a short, pathetic man with a missing hand.

Fury splits his skull.

A curse dances on his lips, green light plays in his mind's eye - but no. That would be wrong. Wormtail owes far more than his mere life is worth. He's a traitor. An incompetent. A coward. He caused this.

He's useful. He fears, and he obeys.

Or faces the consequences.

"Wormtail," he rasps, putting as much contempt into the name as his newly-created vocal chords can possibly muster. The man cringes and curls in on himself, cradling his bleeding stump, and he finds his lips curling unpleasantly.

A memory - a relevant one this time - stirs. Voldemort promised this waste of burnable material a new hand, in the event that he regained his body.

Which did not happen.

Harry's soaking wet, too-big Triwizard outfit swamps his form. He steps from the trousers, leaving just the red and black shirt, which now goes down to his knees. The wind blows chilly despite the late month, but he doesn't care to acknowledge his human weaknesses.

Slowly, savoringly, he flexes his tiny, skinny arms. Raises one child-sized leg from the liquid pooled in the cauldron, then the other. Then, with grace that only a part of him usually possesses, he takes a gigantic yet perfectly-practiced step out of the cauldron, one foot meeting the particulate dirt below, then the other joining it a moment later.

His - Harry's - wand lays where he left it. An inexplicable warmth spreads through his chest at the sight, and he reverently reaches down and takes it into his hand.

It accepts him, warm, bright and golden as always, and he sighs in relief.

"My wand," he murmurs icily, both in acknowledgement and as a prompt. Wormtail holds out his - Tom's, Voldemort's - wand, and it's torn from his remaining hand with an Accio, with enough force to damage the rat's fingers.

Silver, serpentine, mercurial. Acceptance.

He nods in satisfaction, flicking it negligently at Wormtail's whimpering form. The wound seals itself with a solid, heavy block of stone shaped like a roughly-hewn fist. Let Wormtail deal with the consequences of his plentiful errors.

A wave of lethargy overtakes him: backlash from casting a high-level spell from such a new body, no doubt. He ignores it, refusing to show weakness to a man who only serves out of fear.

"My- My Lord," Wormtail presses, eyes flicking between him and the inanimate hand in growing dread. "You p-promised, you did-"

"You failed me, Wormtail," he cuts in softly, advancing with deliberate, unmistakable menace. Dark pleasure surges through him as Wormtail somehow contorts to make himself appear even smaller without falling over. "You left the ritual unguarded. You jeopardised my rebirth. Be thankful I don't cut you down where you stand."

He inspects his wands, holly and yew brothers, seriously considering doing just that. Unfortunately his Slytherin rationality wins out. Wormtail is an asset, and as one of two servants who know of Voldemort's return, an important one at that.

With two wands in hand and dressed in a drenched sports shirt, he gestures for the rat to follow him and begins making his way towards the Riddle house.


Small mercies, Wormtail can make the bed so he's not sleeping on sheets last used by dead people. And he can use that time alone to figure out how Harry's sabotage altered the ritual.

And shower. Being coated in potion remnant is not a particularly pleasant sensation at the best of times.

A cold feeling of alienation washes over him when he sees his face in the mirror. It isn't one he recognises. The contours are different. Too young, round, unmarred by the lightning bolt scar. Too charming, frigid Tom, yet at the same time too loyal, aggressive Harry. Even the hair is strange: short and raven-black as usual, but oxymoronically messy in a way that seems purposeful and deliberate.

Just who is he?

The ritual must have had a similar effect to its original purpose. The whole point of rituals is how deep they delve into the specifics - the further into a ritual you are, the less changes when you alter a step, and when Harry intervened the ritual was nearing completion. So theoretically, his soul was strengthened and then reborn in a body that reflected the strengthened form, as the ritual was meant to do.

He's glad that Tom took the extra caution of altering the step order. Voldemort's version defines the vague workings of a magical body first, contains the soul and magic within the body, and then constructs the actual features of the body in tandem with empowering the soul. It seems that the latter two processes were corrupted by the introduction of Harry's soul and body. Had it been the original ritual, both souls would have been irreversibly garbled, cursed to an existence that even Voldemort would find too chilling to risk.

Hence the altered ritual.

He frowns at his reflection. The eyes are wrong. They're supposed to be Avada greenStunner red. But instead, they're the green-yellow-orange of early-Autumn leaves.

He sighs, unbuttoning Harry's potion-remnant-laden shirt and letting it fall to the floor with a grimace. Might as well check his body for unforeseen flaws before his shower-

Oh.

She borrows Ron's thesaurus for the next ten minutes.


Harriet.

No, no, of course not. It's blindingly obvious. She already looks too similar to Harry. Even when disrupted, rituals leave long-lasting traces that can then be followed to determine roughly the ritual's effects, so if someone named Harriet appears from nowhere who looks near-identical to Harry Potter give or take a few years, it could be suspicious enough for people to piece things together.

It isn't likely with the current state of the Ministry, but then caution isn't for the likely.

She shivers, rolling in place under the bed's covers, and bunches them up underneath her to keep her body-heat in. A holdover from Harry's nights spent sleeping on a hard mattress in a drafty cupboard. She snorts in combined amusement and irritation at the suddenly vivid image of Lord Voldemort doing the same.

Tom. That's a better starting point. Voldemort is believed dead and has been for more than a decade now, few people know his real name, and those who do are both tight-lipped and believe (correctly) that Voldemort despised that name with every fibre of his being.

He's- She's loathe to use it. But she's also awful at naming things, Hedwig and Nagini the only flimsy testaments to the contrary, and it's uncharacteristic enough of Voldemort to make a good cover.

What variations does the name Tom have?

Tommie.

...No. Absolutely not. That's even more repugnant than Tom. Is that even a feminine name? Isn't there a muggle gun called that?

Tomantha? An unnatural bastardisation of a name that no loving and competent parent would ever curse their child with, and an homage to Voldemort's name so obviously contrived that Dumbledore would connect them in an instant. She'd be at wand's point the moment they shared a room. A little more subtlety is required.

Tamara. That's... better, actually.

It's just distant enough from Tom to avoid drawing attention to the similarity, but just close enough that Voldemort would refuse to use it out of principle.

Tamara... actually doesn't hate it. In fact, she quite enjoys how it rolls off the tongue. The emphasis on the second syllable gives an air of casual, effortless importance that Tom might have appreciated were it not for the link to his name (not that that matters with Tamara calling the shots), and it has just enough in common with Harry's name to make her feel...

Her.

Tamara.

There are certainly worse names to have.

She lets out a voiceless yawn, curling further into the warmth of her bed. The surname can come later. For now, she's just Tamara.

She doesn't dream, and it's a welcome respite.


When a glass explodes under her fingers two days later, Tamara blinks rapidly despite her sudden void of energy.

The same thing happened to Aunt Marge's glass before Third Year, when she pushed Harry just a little too far, Tamara recalls. So Tamara's angry? Stressed?

Why?

She's just lying low, biding her time until the disappearance and presumed death of the Boy Who Lived blows over. It's hardly a new experience, for Harry or for Tom.

So why is this time so difficult?

"Wormtail, clean that up," she orders dispassionately. Her voice, higher and softer than Tom's ever was now that she's listening for it, regardless cuts through the silence like sharpened steel.

She rises from her seat at the empty, water-damaged twelve-person dining table, brushing shards of glass off the robes that Wormtail poorly transfigured for her. Without a second glance she sends a mild stinging hex at her procrastinating underling, earning a surprised yelp for her troubles, and strides into the hallway, intent on returning to her bedroom.

The front door beckons.

...

She just wants to go out?! Is that why she broke the glass?

She tears her gaze away from the clouded window and growls at her own childishness. Her life is at stake here! Dumbledore is even now scouring the country for the slightest trace of either Harry or Tom, and Tamara bears far more than a mere trace. She cannot afford to leave the safety of the Riddle House. And certainly not as an act of whimsy!

Her eyes wander back to the inviting daylight, a fanciful promise of escape from this oppressive, haunting abode.

Fanciful, and deceitful.

She spins on her heel and marches for the stairs before she can convince herself to do otherwise.


Ten days.

Ten days in this Merlin-forsaken building, and seventeen shattered glasses.

She's even taken out the living-room windows four times, andon the seventh day every single window she passed became collateral damage - by the end of the day, she was almost comatose from magical exhaustion. If this keeps up, she'll probably end up dead before she can... well... figure out what she's going to do.

Wormtail is no better at the reparation charm than he was ten days ago, but it certainly isn't for lack of practice.

She needs to calm her magic, and the only way to do that is by taking her mind off the fact that she's trapped in a mansion-shaped box.

She tries to relive her memories as Voldemort and Harry, to piece them together, but she gives it up as a lost cause - as Tom's memories blend into Voldemort's, they become shattered, faded and useless, little more than gut feelings and so laden with deja vu that she can't be certain if they ever actually happened.

Harry's memories, and Tom's from before Voldemort, are... well, exactly as she remembers them. There's no great mystery surrounding them, no signs of Obliviation or a need to set everything straight in her mind. They're just there, to be called upon as needed, just as they were for Harry and Tom.

In short, they won't help with the whole exploding glass problem.

The great outdoors is off-limits. She can't afford to be discovered before the inevitable hunt for Harry dies down. Surely there's something in this house to occupy her in the meantime?

Accio. No books, not even ones on muggle subjects. If there ever were any here, they were likely taken by the mould. Hermione wouldn't last a day here, Tamara thinks with a smirk.

Accio. No brooms (at least not magical ones), not that she expected a muggle manor to have them unless Tom himself put them there. There goes Ron's sanity, if he ever visits. He'd still have his food addiction to keep him company though, so out of the trio, he'd probably take the longest to go completely mad.

Well, assuming Tamara didn't start off that way. With the Dark Lord Voldemort as one constituent, his archenemy as the other, and her current status as Bane of Glass, that isn't something she's willing to bet money on.

She could probably Imperio Wormtail for some entertainment. Make him tap-dance on the table or something. It wouldn't even be especially harmful... but she's still recovering from the ritual, and the accidental magic is not helping on that front. Overexerting her magic probably isn't the best idea for now, especially given the corruption. Otherwise she'd feel no remorse for it.

The front door beckons, and Tamara ignores it. How hard can it be to wait a few weeks more?

Tamara has a sinking feeling that she knows the answer to that.


Her resolve lasts all of three more days before her hand is forced. If willpower were her only concern she'd have probably managed another few days, but unfortunately the bodycount for the Riddle House's windows is rising exponentially, and her energy reserves are draining in kind. If she can't find a way to bring her magic back under control, not only will attention be drawn to the Riddle House, but any investigators would find her prone and vulnerable, if not posthumous.

Slowly, helplessly succumbing to magical exhaustion must be a truly awful way to go. She shudders.

If anything is right in the world, finding something to do outside will be just what she needs to reign in her magic.

But even if she's leaving the house, she will not tolerate undue risk.

Peter Pettigrew is a dead man who Dumbledore knows is in league with Voldemort, and they don't have reliable access to spells or potions to alter his appearance. Not without involving other Death Eaters, whose reactions to Tamara will be too unpredictable to face without heavy preparation. So Wormtail stays in the house.

Good. As it is, she's a constant hair's-breadth away from cursing the snivelling coward to oblivion.

Which wouldn't be an issue, if only she had other servants available to fill the vacancy.

Leaving Wormtail behind does leave Tamara entirely unguarded, but it's either that or risk someone recognising the rat. Besides, Tamara may look young, but she has almost twenty years of experience getting around as a muggle (-ish) child, and several more decades of magical experience on top of that. Even in her weakened state, she is a far cry from the easy target that any would-be assailant might envision.

And it isn't as if she'll march straight up to Hogwarts itself, or even to Hogsmead or Diagon, as tempting as the magical villages are. No, she's going where Dumbledore would never think to search for Voldemort, even if he suspected he were alive: the muggle world.

Just on a day-trip. A chance to see more than just the walls of a dilapidated, damp-marked manor, and potentially to explode with accidental magic in a location that she can afford to place under additional scrutiny. Perhaps buy a book or two to prevent an encore of the past two weeks.

After pulling on another transfigured set of clothes - this time a generic, ill-fitting school uniform (with trousers; Wormtail doesn't seem to realise she's female) to blend in, as today is a Monday - Tamara fastens an empty rucksack to her back for appearances' sake, checks her pockets for the £250 in notes that she deigned to bring along, and pushes the door-

It's a pull door.

Ow.

Forehead against the glass, Tamara listens to the clatter of pots and pans. Wormtail's in the kitchen. He didn't see that. And if he had, she'd Obliviate him. And curse him for good measure, after a short rest.

Tamara pulls the door open and breathes in the misty morning skies.


A realisation strikes her as the Little Hangleton cemetery ghosts into view through the mist:

Cedric died not a hundred feet away. Not two weeks ago.

A sudden wave of self-loathing steals the air from her lungs. Tom killed Cedric. Harry watched his senseless death. And she hadn't even thought to retrieve the body, to inform someone.

Just left him to rot.

She couldn't have done anything. She had no control over Tom's actions. Had she been herself, Cedric would never have died. She isn't to blame.

What consolation would the body be? It was just an empty cadaver, a morbid echo of the former Cedric, from the moment that the killing curse tore his soul from it.

She could get it now. Send it back for a proper burial. She could... send up sparksNobody would see them. ApparateToo dangerous. PortkeyShe can't make one-

Portkey.

The cup. The cup was supposed to Portkey the champions back to the maze's entrance. Dismantling a Portkey is near-impossible without triggering it first, so Barty must have applied a new Portus on top of the existing one.

Which would mean that the cup is a Portkey to Hogwarts.

That could be usefDON'T.

Incensed at the darkly pragmatic turn her thoughts just took, Tamara shunts the gate open with maybe a little more force than necessary, and it bounces off the stone wall it's hinged to.

The cup is still where Harry and Cedric left it, courtesy of Wormtail's continued muggle-repellant charm. And Cedric, in turn, is where Harry left him.

His death is clean, even after so long. Most witches and wizards die with their magic a writhing frenzy of fear and anguish, and their formless magic scatters into the environment. But the Killing Curse removes the soul before the magic can lose form, so Cedric's tranquil magic lingered to place his body in a sort of stasis, untouched by the elements. It hasn't even gone through rigor mortis yet.

There was a time when Tom pursued the Killing Curse as a show of mercy. He would have used it to assassinate key targets without unnecessary bloodshed; clean, painless, dignified.

She stares, and Cedric stares back, unblinking and unseeing.

Tamara sees no mercy.

She conjures a simple wooden coffin and levitates him inside. The lid slams shut with eerie finality.

She brings Harry's wand up with a swish and a flick to levitate the cup above the coffin. With Cedric's magic still clinging to the surroundings, the cup will activate the moment it touches the coffin.

Steeling herself, she murmurs a Finite, and Cedric's resting place vanishes into the mist.

In the end, Cedric won.

After all, he brought the cup home with him.

Cedric's body long since departed, she finally snaps from her melancholy trance.

The fog has thinned a little, and the cloud-covered hint of a sun is high in the sky by now, and the spellwork took a lot out of her, but that doesn't mean she's willing to waste today away.

Tamara has a bus to catch.


The bus is a whiplash of emotions. The muggles pay no heed to her. They go about their days as usual, ignorant of the corpse she sent to Hogwarts less than an hour ago. Reading the news, staring out the window or chatting amongst themselves.

"You seem pale, dear," says someone from next to her. "Is everything alright?"

Tamara turns in surprise to find a slender middle-aged lady gazing worriedly at her. She must have sat down at the previous stop.

"I-" she stumbles, fumbling with the rucksack on her knee, searching for something to say. In the end, she just nods helplessly. "I just feel a little sick, is all," she lies. Mostly. Tom never did well with muggle transport.

The lady's face radiates sympathy, eyes twinkling. Something in Tamara tenses. "Oh, I have something that should help." She rummages in her felt handbag for a moment, pulling out a long packet of something which she presents to Tamara. "I always find that sucking on a mint helps with travel sickness."

Rattled, Tamara hesitantly takes the offered mint with a murmured 'thank you'. She discreetly taps it with her wand and whispers a diagnostic charm, making a show of reading the word etched into it: 'mild'.

The charm comes up negative. Satisfied that the mint isn't poisoned, she places it gingerly on her tongue.

Tom always knew that there was something about magic which inherently repulsed muggles, drove them to shun witches and wizards, to turn up their noses at the merest hint of magic. Harry never really put the pieces together, attributing them to the slander that the Dursleys always put out, but the fact remains that there was no muggle, not a one, who ever saw either of them and then had any semblance of a positive influence on their lives.

Teachers ignored them, children bullied or feared them, caretakers spread baseless rumours about them. It's something that Tom always took as gospel: muggles fear magical people on an instinctual level. It was a founding principle of Tom's ideals, before everything went...

Dark Lord-shaped.

But as the minutes pass and Tamara's churned-up stomach begins to settle, she concludes that this kind old lady is somehow an exception.

Tamara draws her holly wand and pretends to inspect it, side-eyeing the lady. She must be a witch, yet she merely watches curiously, making no indication that she recognises the wand for what it is. The wand-tip lights up, and her face shows misplaced understanding, apparently identifying it as something that makes sense. Perhaps a toy, or an oddly-shaped flashlight.

Even a squib would recognise a wand when they see it.

She's just a muggle.

Then why is she so kind in the face of magic?

The lady leaves the bus soon after, at the edge of Great Hangleton, and Tamara spends the rest of her journey all too aware of the empty seat next to her.

Finally, the bus arrives at central Great Hangleton, and Tamara makes her way to the front and pays the fare. She could just Confund the driver, but she's already used enough magic today to make her feel somewhat sluggish and fatigued, and the Confundus is a reasonably intensive spell.

As she steps off the bus, she scans the various buildings lining Hangleton Corrugate. Most of them are shops, reminiscent of Diagon in their warmth and character - imperfect, rough around the edges and disparate, as if the street was built upon over and over again throughout the years. Many of the buildings seem to fold out onto the sidewalk which Tamara supposes is how the street got its name, and some have awnings extending far enough to even shelter the road.

There's the occasional dirty-white, overly-modern sign, and sometimes a boarded-up eyesore of a facade, but even those barely detract from the chaotic, almost free-for-all aesthetic of the Corrugate as a whole.

She certainly wouldn't be surprised if she found magicals living here.

Shaking herself from her reverie, Tamara amends her goals for the day. Of course books are a priority, but there's that little store on the corner, Wear and Care Clothing, and she does need some non-transfigured, correctly-fitted clothes. Some stationary from Clip's Paper wouldn't go amiss, either.

There's a cafe too, with seats and tables stretching across the entire road beneath one of the biggest awnings on the entire street. A car meanders past, ignorant of the blockage, and the entire setup - including an elderly man sipping his morning coffee - seems to bend impossibly out of the way.

In fact, pretty much every shop with a big enough shelter out the front causes a similar effect. Not always identical though - some trunks a few doors down simply jump over approaching cars, while the robed mannequins outside Wear and Care bend the cars out of the way.

She can't help but grin at the sight.


In the end, she's forced to buy a trunk to contain everything that she bought, and it's only when she realises how far across the sky the sun is, that she drags it over to Which Brews, the cafe she saw earler, for a meal and a drink before her departure.

She orders a small coffee, tea and cola; a frankly delicious cheese ploughman's sandwich; and a Neapolitan ice cream with three chocolate brownies to finish up. After all, she has new tastebuds to test out, and with Wormtail cooking, her meals so far have only been the bare essentials.

(Come to think of it, Harry could actually cook. She'll have to go food shopping tomorrow and see if that counterbalances Tom's hopelessness with an oven.)

Of the three ice cream flavours, Harry's favourite was the strawberry, but he also liked the vanilla and chocolate. Tom preferred chocolate, but he was extremely picky about the quality, and he usually bought higher-class ice cream (among other things) to appear more wealthy to the other Slytherins.

Tamara loves the strawberry, but she's not a fan of the vanilla, and what little (high-quality) chocolate she tries makes her feel ill. How odd.

The brownies are a surprise - Tom liked them and Harry never tried them, but to Tamara they're little cubes of warm, melty heaven. They're definitely a highlight of the day.

As for the drinks... Well, no part of Tamara ever liked fizzy drinks, and that trend continues. The coffee smells every bit as good as Tom remembers, but that's about the best thing she can say about it. The tea's nice though.

With the final bite of brownie, she's ready to leave for the day. Picking up the handled end of her new trunk, Tamara's mind drifts to her new possessions contained within.

Ironically, most of it is non-magical. For all that the Corrugate gives the distinct impression of deep magical-muggle integration, it has surprisingly few magical items for sale. Most of the magical storefronts are just additions to otherwise-muggle shops, selling versions of the shop's usual wares with minor magical enhancements. Tamara really has no use for a self-whisking mechanical egg beater, when she could accomplish the same with a wand.

She did get a few potions books and basic ingredients, since she still has a cauldron in the graveyard and doesn't have many potions memorised, but the books that someone her age might buy are too basic to actually teach her anything. Most of the books she feels are worth reading are well out of her price range and/or extremely suspicious for a preteen to buy.

No, the truly interesting books were in the muggle sections.

On a whim, she extracts a book called Modern Enchantments: Producing Magic from the Mundane from the trunk's front pocket. From the introductory chapter, it's a wizard's (witch's, she corrects) guide to electronics and how they can achieve magic-like effects using only non-magical interactions. Still in the muggle section since it frames the magical world as a sort of metaphor (and there's a magical version to read by tapping the book with a wand), but definitely aimed towards witches attempting to survive the muggle world.

Modern Enchantments is perhaps the most egregious book she bought, but it's far from the only one. All non-fiction - she thinks it's the Tom in her that considers fiction an unacceptable waste of time and money - but with topics ranging from the very-useful-if-it-does-what-it-says (Time-Up, a Guide to Productivity), to the pure-whimsy-fulfilment (Amazing Art Attack Stuff with Neil Buchanan). The latter she only relents on because she's not sure how her magic will react otherwise.

Besides the many books and ingredients, she also bought a small handheld device called a Game Boy, since there's a chapter for that in Modern Enchantments. It's a little like a tiny, interactive television, and she can't help but wonder if maybe the people who made it were secretly magical. Otherwise, how in the world could they have crammed so many functions into such a small box? The last television Harry saw, less than a year ago, was a hulking great thing that needed multiple people just to move it!

What is she forgetting... oh yes, the clothes, all from Wear and Care. A well-fit school uniform to walk around during weekdays - with a knee-length skirt this time, as uncomfortable as it makes her, since she is female now; a simple tee, shorts and trainers, for weekends; a set of indoor robes from the wizarding section; and a set of silken pyjamas, with... cute acorns(?) on them.

Satisfied that her haul will keep her (her magic) entertained for the time being, Tamara wheels her new trunk over to the bus stop.

As she realises three stops later: the wrong bus stop. It's fortunate that the driver simply chuckles and allows her to switch buses.

He's a muggle too. And he may have just impacted history more than he'll ever realise.


Well this is... Something.

The particularly fluffy barn owl - she thinks she might recognise it from Harry's limited time in the Hogwarts owlery - flies out through the window without a second glance, leaving Tamara alone in Riddle House's master bedroom with... a letter.

Wormtail is the only one who even knows of her existence.

A letter?

The name on the front is hopelessly garbled, as if somebody attempted to write several names on top of each other. Alarmingly, she thinks she can make out 'Marv' somewhere in the middle; the P and double-t of 'Potter'; and what is very clearly either 'Tom' or 'Tam' at the beginning; if she squints hard enough. But perhaps that's simply because she expects to find them.

It's addressed to 'The Master Bedroom, Riddle House, Little Hangleton'.

Shaking hands turn the letter over. And if the acid green lettering or the unreasonably specific address didn't make it clear enough, the coat of arms stamped into the wax seal certainly do.

It's a Hogwarts letter.

Her first thought is Harry's fifth year booklist. It's possible that the wards still recognise Tamara as Harry Potter, especially since she hasn't yet thought up a new surname to fully separate her identity from her previous selves. But if that were the case, if the wards think she's Harry, wouldn't the letter be addressed only to him? Surely the same identifier wards would be used for delivery and address-

Just open it!

The wax seal pops off as cleanly as it always does.

'Dear [names written on top of each other],

We are pleased to inform you that you have a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry...'

It's...

An acceptance letter?

Tamara glares at it. Claps her hands to her cheeks, hard. Waves Harry's wand over it, muttering every cancellation charm and disenchantment she can remember. Does the same with Tom's wand.

Nothing.

She holds it to a bright Lumos, and a shadow of the Hogwarts crest blocks the light shining through. It seems legitimate.

Brow creased, she reads it through again, mulling it over.

It isn't the muggle-born version of the letter, with extra information surrounding the magical world, which is intriguing. Perhaps the wards sense traces of Harry's or Tom's wizarding bloodlines; that would explain why Harry received the wizarding-relatives version despite being muggle-raised. Tom got the muggle-born version despite his ancestry, but his letter was hand-delivered from the beginning, so it was likely prepared manually, with actual thought given to his circumstances.

So the castle presumably sees Tamara as a non-muggle-born. Likely either some vague fusion of Harry's and Tom's bloodlines; or possibly as Harry and Tom's child, which is just weird.

Oh dear sweet Merlin, she just got an invitation to Hogwarts. She'd be right under Dumbledore's nose!

She could just go to another school. Hell, with Tom's memories she doesn't even need school beyond the qualifications, which she can get just by taking the OWLs.

She doesn't have much money, but it's enough to get by. And if not, well, she is part Dark Lord. Stealing food is hardly going to damage her conscience any more than the mass-murder already did.

It's tempting. Hogwarts is home, and there's so much she missed the first two times. But it isn't safe to be so close to the headmaster. Or in the school, judging by Harry's past four years. Even Tom's education wasn't that perilous, and he unleashed a basilisk!

She tosses the letter aside with a sigh, picking herself up off the bed. She needs a shower and a think, and Wormtail needs to make dinner.

"Wormtail, to me!" she calls, trying not to sigh at the somewhat melodious tone the command naturally takes. Voldemort's speech patterns don't lend themselves well to Tamara's voice, but she needs to keep up the charade.

In front of the rat, she is Lord Voldemort.

Wormtail doesn't answer.

Wormtail's gone.

Riddle House explodes into shards of shattered glass.