Harry stumbled into his flat, blood oozing out of the puncture wounds in his neck. Reckless triumph seared through his veins. He fished the first aid kit out from beneath the kitchen sink, set it down, and nearly jumped out of his skin when cool fingers trailed along his throat.

He whipped around in an instant. Lashing out.

Tom grabbed his wrists and narrowly dodged a broken nose.

"You have got to stop doing that!" Harry snapped and sagged.

"Why exactly have you been chasing vampires?" He snatched the gauze out of Harry's hand to do it himself, tilting Harry's head to the side.

Harry's pulse leapt dizzily into his head and he gripped the edge of the counter.
"It's my job," he said.

"I believe you're a private investigator, not a supernatural investigator."

"I'm a 'whatever needs to be investigated to help people' investigator." But, recently, that had been the petrification – the vampires only a side note really – in his search for answers. But considering Tom actually thought Harry would sit quietly by after the confrontation with Salazar and not look into the whole affair more, he was going to neglect to go into too much detail on the matter.

Tom shot him an unamused look, his eyes burning.

Harry swallowed. He was abruptly aware of how close they were standing; Tom loomed over him. One step and Tom would be crowding him flush against the kitchen counter, and could press lips against Harry's own, or trail hands down his neck and along his ribs. He didn't know if it was the blood loss or the close proximity that left him dizzy, but blood loss seemed the more flattering possibility. His breath caught.

Tom froze at the audible hitch. They stared at each other for a beat as the same realization, the same memories, clicked in both of their heads.

Harry cleared his throat. Friends. Friends. He looked away, glad that there wasn't enough blood in his body for his cheeks to heat at least. He hoped.

"What if I pay you to stop investigating? To help my peace of mind?" Tom murmured.

"It's fine."

"Clearly not, you're bleeding."

Harry wasn't sure he could stand Tom watching him with such concern, when they were still standing so close and god when had they started standing that close? "Why are you here?" he asked instead.

It had been a week.

Tom's jaw clenched and he finally let his hand drop from Harry's neck with the gauze firmly in place. "You are causing quite the scene with your investigating - keep it up and the wrong people will notice."

So it wasn't altruistic concern or anything else that had summoned Tom to his apartment, then. Not really anyway.

"Slytherin, you mean." It was a relief, in a way, to finally talk about it.

Tom said nothing. The look on his face answered the question.

"So he sent you to stop me?" Harry raised his brows and edged away from the counter, trying rather hard not to think about the time he had Tom bent over it.

"I sent myself."

Harry studied Tom carefully, trying to figure him out before he turned and headed for the living room. Tom had let him live, protected him and saved him even. But he was also a demon with no issue whatsoever with trapping unsuspecting mortals into thrall bonds.

"And how are you planning to stop me?"
Slightly woozy though he was, Harry prepared himself for the possibility of a fight.

"By asking you nicely," Tom said. "As your friend."
When Harry turned again, Tom wasn't looking at him like one looked at a friend. His heart pounded.

(No, Tom looked at him like an Incubus looked at a walking dinner, so stop it Potter!)

Still, the response surprised him and guilt prickled in the pit of his belly. It wasn't, after all, that he was trying to make Tom's life difficult or cause trouble for him with his superiors.

Tom stepped closer again, following him into the familiar space. Hungry, but earnest too. If Harry wanted to be fair, devouring intensity was probably just Tom's normal expression especially if he was just feeling a bit peckish. It was the way Tom had always looked at him before.

It didn't mean anything. He didn't want to be fair.

They were doing a good job as friends, over the last week. They visited churches and grand cathedrals and Tom told him stories about every devil and saint carved or painted in the wall that he pointed at. It had been nice. Interesting. Ironically enough, Tom adored churches, Harry had discovered.

"Harry." Tom snatched his attention back, coming to a stop before him. "You must promise me you'll leave it alone, yes? I know you want to help, but there are plenty of cases for you that don't include the supernatural."

"Perhaps, but most people know nothing of the supernatural. If people come to me for help I won't turn them away."

Tom's eyes narrowed. "This is exactly why you lost your last accommodation - you can't help everyone."

"I can try."

"You can get yourself killed and be no good to anyone."

Harry understood the concern, truly he did, but the irritation stabbed through him all the same. "I survived you," he said. "I'm not bloody helpless."

Tom's expression shifted less entreating now, and more icy.
"No." By contrast, his voice seemed lighter and a smile spread over his lips. "But you are a human. The affairs of the supernatural have never been your concern, as much as you seem to think they are. Do you not remember what happened last time?"

Last time seemed a low blow. Harry grinned back, more a baring of teeth. "Last time, I won."

"Won?" Tom laughed. "Is that what we're calling being tortured and left to rot in Basilisk venom now? I should have left you there to petrify, you ungrateful brat!"

Harry's stomach twisted and his throat lodged tight. His fists clenched at his sides.
Petrify. So this was Slytherin and the basilisk then – but why? What for?

The air around Tom seemed abruptly darker and he could see the shadow of wings spread across his off-white walls.

"I'm not doing this to spite you, you must know that!"

"Must I?" Tom's voice too, had changed, to a silky danger with no pretences otherwise.

Harry felt the weight of the wings next - realised it wasn't the cliche of a darkening room, but literally Tom's wings blocking out the sinking sun from reaching them as they coiled possessively around him. Not touching, at first, but brushing now.

Recklessly, Harry took a step forward in turn. "I just want to help. You know that, don't be a git."

"But not to help me."

"It's not about you!"

"Of course it's about me," Tom said. "Who do you imagine is keeping Lord Slytherin from finishing what he started?"

The guilt exploded and Harry looked down at their feet, his shoulders squaring defensively. "I didn't ask you to. I didn't start that. You're the one who thralled me! You could have fobbed me off with anything if people stopped dying!"

"You are being unreasonable, Potter." His voice sounded stiff and curt, in a way utterly at odds with the way they normally spoke to each other. He wasn't sure he'd ever even heard Tom call him Potter before. "If you want to make me the villain here, I can by all means accommodate you, but I assure you that you would find it a far less pleasant experience than being my friend or my thrall."

"If less supernatural creatures hurt people I wouldn't have to investigate them. I'm not doing this to hurt you, or anything like that, but I can't - I can't -" How could Tom not understand that he couldn't do nothing? Not when he knew what it was like. "I'm not trying to turn you into a villain!" he burst out. "But you can't seriously expect me to be quietly blind when I can help. I'm not you. Why can't you just accept that?"

They knew each other better than that, after everything. Or so Harry had thought.

"Because being my thrall was such a horrible and traumatic experience. Friends, Harry? You still can't even look at me without feeling your heart race." Tom's voice dipped low. There was, once again, nothing human left to his handsome features. Only that terrible, striking beauty and those hellfire eyes. Tom's hand settled on his chest like a firebrand. "Without wanting me."

Considering Tom was a bloody Incubus that was hardly a fair comment.

"That means nothing." His voice had gone damningly hoarse all the same. He stepped back, only to find a wing blocking his escape. As if they, like Tom's words, attention and prowling steps, were closing in on him.

Heat plunged through him.

Before, they'd never really got around to arguing - their mouths had always been a bit too busy for even talking, and the crackles of tension tended to be resolved in gasping breaths and limbs hitting the nearest available surface.

"Nothing?" Tom purred. "Just look at yourself." He shook his head and dug his nails in, as if he could pluck Harry's heart right out from beneath his ribs if he tried hard enough. He probably could, at that. "I'm not asking you to harden that bleeding heart of yours against all of your causes, I know you better than that. But leave the supernaturals, or I will make you. Worse, Slytherin will. He is not a man for second chances and you are on your third."

Harry watched Tom's mouth as he spoke, remembered their softness and all of the kisses they were capable of with a visceral clarity. All he'd have to do was crane up on his toes to reach…

"Will you promise, Harry?" Tom asked again. His other hand slipped forward, caressing the top of the gauze, guiding Harry's gaze back up to his eyes. The hand over his heart moved down, stroking Harry's hip. "For my sake?"

"I-" This was cheating. Harry couldn't think straight, all he could think about was the brush of fingers along his skin lighting up his nerve endings. "Stop it."

Not quite to his credit, but perhaps for any semblance of actual friendship or affection between them, Tom stopped moving his hands immediately.

Harry released a shaky breath. Squeezed his eyes shut.
"I'll - I'll think about it," he said. "That's all I can promise." When he opened his eyes, he couldn't read Tom's expression. Only feel the force of it. "Because we're friends," he added.

"Good." Tom's hand snapped up with preternatural speed, cupping the uninjured side of his neck too. "Because I won't watch you get hurt because you can't kick the habit of saving the world, and I certainly have no intention of getting dragged in the middle of it if I can help it. I owe you nothing this time. I paid for bringing you to Salazar's attention when I rescued you from him."

"You can step back now. Prick." Part of him was disappointed when Tom actually did. Still, his gaze raked over the wings, watching the scarlet eyes fade back to their customary darkness. "Wait." Harry stepped forward, distracted and more dazed than he cared to admit. He reached out to touch one of Tom's wings, entranced. "Can you actually fly with these?"

"Of course."

The wings should not be his priority, he knew that, but he'd always ached to fly. To kick off and leave the earth and all of its problems behind for a little while.

When he glanced up, Tom's expression had softened.
"Keep your promise, Harry," he said. "A cage wouldn't suit you."

He left as quickly as he arrived.


Tom Riddle strode through the streets of Little Hangleton and up the winding road up the hill, trailing his fingers along the cold, rough headstones in the graveyard. In the evening, the lights of the Riddle House shone like beacons.

He'd been waiting, hungering, for this night for sixteen years. Now he would have all of it and more.

Still, he lingered in the graveyard and despised his own – it wasn't nervousness, he didn't get nervous. But perhaps it was as close to nerves as he was ever going to get. He smoothed his fingers over the handle of the knife, letting it soothe the battle drums racing in his veins.

What did he care what the man thought of him? His father had still abandoned him and there couldn't be any proper excuse for that. There was no forgiveness to be had or deserved. And yet, he waited in the graveyard, feeling the culmination of his life pounding in his chest and the cold seeping in through his worn clothes.

Eventually, he knocked on the door. He made small talk. He watched the disgust and the fear crawling on his father's face as he talked of the devil's whore he'd been tricked into marrying. He watched as his father looked at him like he wished he'd never been conceived.

Tom slit his palms and felt his eyes burn, like his father should burn, and his blood burned into a ritual circle as his father crumpled screaming and Tom could practically taste the power of life and death in his mouth. He would have what was his one way or another.

The next second the demons flooded the room.

They shouldn't have been able to do that.

He barely had time to fight before they'd torn his grandparents to pieces, snatching up the power of their souls before Tom could even to steal them for his own purposes.


The demons turned towards him. Hungry, ready to tear him to pieces. They took a step forward and Tom readied himself for a fight.

A dark shadow moved between them. Fast, deadly, utterly mesmerizing. Not a shadow at all, but a man.

Tom stared, wide-eyed, at the man once he came to a stop.

The demons lay crumbled and smoked out on the floor, vacant.

His shoulders squared and he stared - hungrily, resentfully, entranced.

"And you are?"

The demon didn't reply. He circled Tom slowly, picking his way across the mess of bodies, seeming unbothered by then.

"Handsome boy," the stranger murmured. "Vicious child."

Tom's eyes narrowed, uncertain of what to make of the words.

"Tell me, boy -" the demon gestured at his father's corpse, "-why did you do it? What were you hoping to steal their souls for?"

Because he wanted to.

"Because he took what was mine, and what I rightfully deserved away from me. Who are you? Are you here to make a deal?"

He tracked the demon's movements, wanted what the other had with a ravenous need.

"Do you know why your ritual failed?"

It should have worked, and irritation clenched hard in Tom's throat. He hated anyone thinking he failed and his fingers balled into fists.

For the first time, something like a smile crossed the demon's face. "Sit down," he ordered. "You are starving - eat." The demon swept his father's body carelessly to the floor and sat down himself. He poured a glass of red wine and watched Tom hesitate over golden potatoes and glistening gravy topping thick slices of pork belly.

Tom's mouth watered. He sat down.

"Eat, boy."

Tom devoured the food, refusing to feel self-conscious as the demon watched him across the dining table. He swallowed around a piece of meat.
"Why did my ritual fail? Why were you all here at all if it failed?"

The question seemed to please the other, as much as he seemed pleased about anything.
"Demons cannot summon other demons."

"I'm not a demon."

"It is in your blood, among quite an impure breeding of men and witches."

The blood that Tom had used in the ritual - his own, though he was certain his father had never been so awe-inspiring as to be born of demons. Maybe when his father spoke of the devil's whore he'd meant it literally – a succubus. Still, it seemed a bitter thing to have the blood of a demon with so few of the perks. His scant illusions and magic tricks were nothing compared to a demons power, the paltry parlour trick of tatty street magicians barely above the magical level of a street artist.

Witches and men summoned demons when they weren't strong enough to do something themselves.

"Are you Marvolo?" he asked. That would explain the demon's presence.

The demon looked faintly disgusted.

"I am much more ancient than that wreck of a warlock," he said. A dark, sumptuous sort of power radiated from the demon, and Tom could easily believe it. This was the type of creature that could raze worlds if it pleased him. The type that Tom wanted to be more than anything. He'd always had a sensitivity to power...perhaps that was the demon in him. "But, you are of my bloodline," the demon admitted. Albeit with some reluctance it seemed. "And you appear a different sort than your useless mother. My name is Salazar Slytherin. Have you heard of me, boy?"

Of course he had.

"I can use you, perhaps," Slytherin said, like he was granting a gift.

"I want to claim my rightful bloodline," Tom said. "I want to be like you." His heart throbbed too big in his chest. His family coming for him was something he'd always wondered about, fantasised about, like perhaps every orphan alone in the world did. And here was a powerful demon sitting like a king in his father's seat at the head of the table.

Slytherin took a sip of his wine. "Perhaps you can …if you prove yourself worth the honour."

I can. Anything, I'll do anything. But anything was a foolish thing to promise a devil.

"What tasks would you have me complete for you?"

"I require souls and secrecy." Salazar's dark eyes surveyed him across the table, cool and measured. "No human can know about demons until it is too late, the consequences of our exposure would be...unpleasant. There are statutes against such things. You are drawing far too much attention to yourself with all of this nonsense. I have considered simply killing you."

"I can be discreet."

"Do not disappoint me and I will give you power beyond imagining. Give me your soul, and I will make you into a demon."

Tom hungered. He lusted.

The deal was struck. What use had he for a human's soul anyway?

Becoming an Incubus seemed a petty jab, to make him hunger rather than ever be satisfied. An Incubus was not his bloodline.

Salazar told him he still had a long way to prove himself before he could possibly be anything else.

The petrification was, on first glance, a coma. There were no medical explanations for what caused it, but any brain scans were abnormal. Too active, too pained, when the physical body was completely and utterly unresponsive.

He wanted on record that he'd considered stopping – but he couldn't. Not when there was a possibility he could help. Even when he suspected Tom might be involved. Especially when he suspected Tom and Slytherin might be involved.

He'd immersed himself in research since, trying to figure it out even when the best medical experts in the field didn't know. Some people claimed death by Incubi, but Harry knew better than to think that this was withdrawal by now. At least, not of the usual kind.

Petrification was, after all, a term supernaturally most tied to basilisks. If basilisk's venom could cripple a powerful demon, and Harry knew first-hand the level of agony it inflicted on humans, he could only imagine what a stronger or more lasting dose might do to a mortal.

He kept hitting that point, bashing into Riddle's edges, over and over again. Maybe Voldemort's clubs didn't get people killed, but this was worse.

They petrified them for the souls – like a spider wrapping up its prey. Harvested them, cocooned them in venom, and left the body screaming as the soul was devoured bit by bit still conscious utterly unable to escape into death.

Harry wondered how the hell he was still alive.

Tom didn't wait for Harry to reach his apartment, blood pounding ice cold in his veins. Despite the recklessness of revealing this form with the possibility of being spotted he couldn't wait.

His recent against the Order of the Phoenix did little to soothe his rage.

He plucked Harry straight off the streets of the dimly lit alleyways he insisted on walking down and relished his surprised cry. Relished, too, the way Harry's desperate flail turned to Harry clutching hold of him, completely dependent on him to keep him from plummeting to a mangled death on the pavement.

In the crisp, cloudy night high above the roar of traffic and the buzz of life, he could practically taste the racing of Harry's heart. His grip tightened.

"You promised me."
He hated the fact that it hurt.

"I promised to consider it - I considered and-"

Tom snarled and nearly dropped Harry out of pure spite. Why, of all the humans in the world, did it have to be this one? Tom could have had his pick of anyone else!

There were a dozen words he could said:

Do you truly care so little about about our lives?

I wish I never met you.

I should have let him have you.

Do you really feel so little towards me?

He probably did feel so little. Want, want, want, but that was all anyone ever had for an Incubus. A kiss, a compromise, an apology for his nature. Harry had a demon's appetite for wanting things from him, for always needing something more to be satisfied. Some new lost cause to hitch his banners to as if saving people paid the debt of his daring to exist – it enraged Tom.

Maybe it was ironic for an Incubus to wonder why he could never be enough.

"Tom." Harry stared at him with such earnestness. "You could help me, no one needs to get hurt. The basilisk venom-"

The basilisk venom? "- you're investigating Slytherin now!?"

It was worse than he'd thought - this had already gone too far. Salazar could barely tolerate Harry being alive and investigating supernatural phenomenon, messing with their systems, let alone if he began to investigate Slytherin himself.

He could destroy all angels and all of the Order of the Phoenix and bring down heaven itself but it wouldn't save Harry if he truly was investigating Slytherin.

He should drop him. Let Harry splatter against the pavement. It might even be kinder.

"You could help," Harry said again, winding his fingers into Tom's shirt. Utterly trusting now that Tom wouldn't let him fall – as if demons ever did anything else. "You saved me, you could save them. You must know the cure to basilisk's venom. You must know why he's doing this."

"I have bigger problems then your silly little saving people obsession, you stupid boy. Why can you never leave anything alone?"

He should enthral him again, cuff into a silk bedspread where he couldn't meddle and no one would ever find him or hurt him and where Harry couldn't get himself in trouble.

Harry reared from the words as if he'd been slapped, his whole body freezing up.
"Put me down, Tom."

"No, really." He wasn't about to stop now, not until Harry finally saw sense. "How stupid are you, Potter? Perhaps you would like to end up petrified yourself, seeing as last time clearly wasn't enough for you!" he hissed. "I hope you're not expecting me to keep protecting you."

"Right, yeah, forgive me. For a second I forgot you were a heartless demon who doesn't give a shit about people.

The urge to rip Harry's heart out had never felt so strong, to sink his teeth into the very essence of him and chew on Harry's soul and spit him back out again. Of course, Harry would blindly ignore the danger, he wouldn't see the effort Tom was going to for him.

Tom put him down, if only because he suddenly wasn't quite feeling the mercy of a quick death.

Harry staggered a few steps back from him as if Tom was contagious, still having the audacity to look somehow wounded.

Maybe, considering how they met, Harry would never see. Never accept, certainly, when he stood with such a stubborn brand of righteousness against everything Tom was.

He knew there was a reason he didn't do friends.

Harry swallowed hard.

"Tom, please-"

"I'm done with you. I warned you. I wouldn't suggest trying to come after me again in your investigations, detective Potter." His voice turned icy. "I won't make the mistake of letting you and your awkward questions survive. Just keep me out of it and don't you dare come to me for help."

He left before he did something even more stupid.

A little over a week ago

Albus Dumbledore stared in astonishment as Lord Voldemort appeared in his office in a flurry of wings – an unconscious, pale, Harry Potter shivering violently in his arms.

Of course, there were only a limited amount of powerful Incubi in the world so he had drawn his guesses on who Harry had been thralled to, but proof had been a very different matter. The look on Tom Riddle's face was a very different matter.

"He's in the process of being petrified. Help him," the demon ordered.

Albus leaned back in his chair, his fingers a steeple beneath his chin.
"There is no cure for a human infected by basilisk venom, you know this, Tom."

"Then turn him into someone like you – save him. You're an angel, aren't you? Isn't that what the lot of you do?" It came out a hiss, with the incubus looking ready to tear him limb from limb.

He looked down at Harry. With his eyes closed, the resemblance to his father was utterly uncanny.

"What is the point of an angel if you cannot save him!?" Tom's voice grew louder. "You can find no fault in his soul – I would know."

"I never imagined I would see you care so much about the fate of anyone other than yourself, Tom."

"I didn't come here for a lecture. He refused to betray you – he – please."

Please? Now, that was very interesting wasn't it?

Albus looked down at Harry. A small smile crossed his lips.

Harry wasn't being petrified. In agony, unfortunately and without doubt, but not dying. He would awake when the venom passed through his system. A basilisk couldn't destroy an angel's bloodline so easily, even a diluted bloodline. Still, it might just burn all of the angel right out of it, use it up like fuel and he could not see that happen in this war between all that was light in the world against the dark.

Lord Voldemort was a threat that the Order had long since needed neutralized.

Voldemort, in his panic, didn't even seem to notice. But Tom had never been as all-knowing of souls and emotions as he liked to pretend he was, even as a demon.

Fawkes fluttered to Harry's side.

Harry's chest ached with memories as he moved through the streets of Paris.

Maybe he'd been foolish to think he could be friends with a demon, with someone who had willingly thralled him. But he couldn't help but notice Tom hadn't done it again. The incubus was capable of such an act, he was sure, which meant, which meant…

Which meant that once again Harry's brain was being slowly consumed by Tom Riddle when he should have been concentrating on a case. When he had to focus now.

"Do you have a room booked, sir?" the receptionist asked. It was the same hotel he'd stayed at with Tom, what felt like lifetimes ago.

Tom had taken him out for noodles. Tom had kissed him in the rather large and magnificent shower cubicle, his icy skin growing hot under the spray of water as steam clouded the whole world away from them.

"I'm here to see Salazar Slytherin."

Her expression stayed implacable. "Is he expecting you?"

"He'll want to see me," Harry said, with a smile. "Trust me. Call him."

Five minutes later he was taking the lift all the way up to the top.

Salazar stood waiting by the large glass windows when he arrived, stiff backed and not turning to acknowledge Harry's presence. Despite his confidence to the receptionist, Harry was a little amazed he was allowed up.

Slytherin's basilisk lounged on the sofa, wearing shades. No doubt tracking Harry's every movement as the serpent on his skin shifted and stirred with a restless unease. Harry looked away before their eyes could meet, even through sunglasses.

Harry made his way over to the window and stared down at the city. The lights of Paris glistened beneath them, the Eiffel Tower golden in the distance.

He had dragged Tom to the tower even as the demon grumbled about it being a horrendous tourist trap, that wasn't even as pretty as the Arc de Triumph.

"I am assuming Riddle is unaware of your presence here."

"You would assume correctly," Harry said. His mouth went unbearably dry, as he snuck a glance at Slytherin's profile. "He has nothing to do with any of this."

"That is rather the disturbing part," Slytherin said. "But I will handle him." He glanced at his basilisk. "Finish the boy."

"Wait – wait!" Harry held up his hands. "I'm not here to pick a fight with you, I just want to negotiate with you about no longer petrifying people. It's for the souls, right?"

"I don't negotiate with humans." Cold, point blank. Funny, he'd grown used to Tom who at least listened to Harry before dismissing him. Who indulged where he could.


The basilisk shifted, impossibly, before his eyes. He grew tall, and then taller, skin shedding until he rather more resembled the creature the venom was named after. Demon's familiar, Harry's mind supplied with a growing dread.

He didn't know if it had the same deadly eyes as the name-sake, but he sure didn't dare look to find out. He tracked the shift of scales instead, the sound of hisses, the monstrous shadow rearing on the wall and felt his insides flood cold.

Oh god, that was big. When did this become his life? Demons and monsters, it was insane!

Harry threw himself aside to dodge a lunge. The breath knocked out of his lungs and he rolled quickly, fumbling for his knife. Because who would come entirely unprepared?

Gryffindor's sword – what bullshit! He wanted a proper sword, not this needle, however imbued it apparently was with magical power.

The next second that great tail had knocked him crashing into the wall. Harry groaned in pain, head throbbing as he slid to the ground.

Slytherin had already turned away them dismissively. To go after Tom?

Harry's teeth gritted and he shoved himself to his feet, holding the knife in front of him warningly. If there were devils and demons, should there not be angels?

Someone, anyone, god help me please.

"Oi – Slytherin. He has no part in this, he's one of yours, trust me-" he had no doubt that Slytherin 'handling' Tom meant absolutely nothing good for Riddle. The irony here being that Riddle had chosen Slytherin's side and the other was too blinded to even see it. He'd kill Tom. Harry had to end this fight quickly. He took a few steps after the demon, only to find himself knocked back by the goddamn snake.

Nausea climbed up his throat. Coming here wasn't supposed to damn Tom too.

He stayed near the wall, terror coiling cold in his spine, watching the shadow rear and readying himself to dodge again. But not yet, not yet. He couldn't waste time.

Those scales were tough, from his research on basilisks he wouldn't be able to pierce it in a million years. And, in even the most luxurious Parisian hotel room, there wasn't enough space to run.

Maybe this had been a horrible idea – but so long as he stopped the basilisk, what did it matter?

(It mattered, because Tom would be dead. Because of Harry. Because Tom had taken responsibility for his life once, because Tom saved him, because Tom spared his life and offered him freedom instead of forcing him to stop investigating.)

The basilisk reared high above him, a goliath of a creature. David beat Goliath and Harry readied his knife, heart pounding. His knees had turned to jelly but he stood his ground, and watched the shadow.

He lunged the same time the basilisk did.

His last thought was of Tom.

The screams pierced through the pounding music, right before the music cut to a damning silence.

Tom straightened, exchanging a glance with Bellatrix and Lucius. He'd barely stepped out of the VIP room before he was tossed crumbled into the opposite wall. The shadow moved, with speed and deadly grace and for a moment Tom was mesmerized.

The second after that the hunger turned to a cold dread. He lunged to attack, letting the façade of humanity drop within an instant. Claws shred through the air, wings flared, and within instants he'd been tossed aside like he was nothing

Tom panted for breath, staring as Salazar stood above him. Every inch of his true nature revealed, much taller and larger than anything human born could ever be. Angel-sized.

"I gave you your powers, Riddle," Slytherin said. "On conditions. I can also take them away." He raised a hand and something in Tom's chest tugged.

His mind raced and he jerked to his feet – trying to think what was bringing this on? There was nothing except-

"What did Harry do?"

"I have given you ample opportunity to handle the situation, to keep your little pet, and at every turn you have disappointed me and failed to control him."

Tom's jaw clenched, wings bristling. He could guess where this was going. Slytherin always threatened to strip away Tom's heritage, his power, his very right of blood, whenever he displeased the older demon.

For years, and years, Tom had paid his debts and paid for a power that should have been his from birth. He'd re-fashioned himself, he'd given himself a new name and freed himself from his humanity – and yet with a few words Slytherin put him back into being a teenager desperate for power and belonging.

And he was never enough, was he? Not for Harry, not for Slytherin. But god damn it this was his right, it always had been! And he didn't intend to give up his rightful claims so easily – what right did Slytherin have to deny his own bloodline? For all his power, for all of his hypnotic power, in the end Salazar seemed as great a disappointment now as Tom's father had ever been. Another false idol that would refuse him what was always Tom's.

He'd killed the last one.
Harry had, for all of his flaws, never asked Tom to stop being a demon even if he disapproved at times. He'd only ever fought for his own freedom and the freedom of others. Cared too damningly much.

"I assume the boy is dead."

His throat tightened at the thought, something cold plunging into the pit of his stomach even despite his dismissal last time they talked. He wondered if Harry would have survived if Tom stepped in.

Of course, if he stepped in, Harry would have hated him – but he would have had him. Alive, defiant, dizzyingly strong in his sense of self and really a very good kisser.

"Of course," Slytherin said. "And now you can follow him."

They fought, again. He crashed into the wall, again. He could taste blood in his mouth.

His last thought was for Harry.

The pain seared through Harry.

He would have thought basilisk venom hurt less the second time, but it simply wasn't true.

He blinked blearily back into consciousness. The basilisk lay on the floor, a husked wreck of scales with a throat lodged out of its throat. Consciousness grew brighter, brighter, brighter until every atom inside felt like it was shining. Then it faded and he was simply, bewilderingly, alive.

He had a feel he should be suspicious. He could only find it in himself to be relieved, before it soured.


He took the next train back to England.

He arrived to the newspapers plastered with images of The Devil's Playground burning.

Harry had barely set his bag down before he heard the familiar voice.

"Rumour has it, you killed Slytherin's basilisk."

Harry turned, heart pounding more than he cared to admit.

Tom sprawled on his sofa

He wondered, again, if he should be expecting a fight and part of him whispered that in some way being Tom's thrall had been much easier. Their relationship, and what he felt about Tom, used to be so simple didn't it?

Not quite 'no strings attached' considering the invisible noose that was the withdrawal effect, but simpler.

And yet, the relief of him seeing him alive overwhelmed almost everything else.
Tom's face was bruised, his body battered, his eyes a bloody scarlet that he couldn't currently seem to control as he looked at Harry. His beautiful wings were in tatters, as if a fox had ravaged him.

Harry's stomach dropped.

"Well," Harry managed. "You should know better than to listen to rumours."
He probably didn't look much better.

He was kneeling by Tom's side in an instant.

Tom studied him, intently, and the observation still felt so familiar to him that it left Harry breathless.

"Did Slytherin send you instead seeing as his other pet is now dead?" He'd been so sure Slytherin would try and kill Tom, but Lord Voldemort had always been slippery, hadn't he? And yet, The Devil's Playground was destroyed.

"Actually, I sent myself," Tom said. He didn't take his eyes off Harry as if he was something mesmerising. "Did you really kill the basilisk?"

"What's it to you?"

"I don't know anyone powerful enough to match Slytherin in a fight. I have...following, but even then I could overwhelm him potentially only with numbers."

"Yes. I did."

"You're a miracle."

Tom said it like a revelation, like a prayer. His voice caught around the word, breathless, and the expression on his face…oh the expression on his face. It wasn't a hunger Harry had seen before, he wasn't sure if it could even be classified as a hunger, but it burned through him all the same with the intensity of it.

"You're hurt," Harry managed. His hands hovered from touching the wings. "Did Slytherin-"

"-I feared you were dead."

They stared at each other, and Harry released a shaky breath.
Tom's hand trailed over the hole in his shirt, where the basilisk fang had pierced him. "You're hurt."

"Not dead though."

A million different things swelled in Harry's mouth – I'm sorry, I never meant for this to happen to you, I never thought he would go for you, I never thought he could hurt you. I'm so sorry. Forgive me.

"He meant to turn me human again," Tom said it like humanity was the ultimate punishment. "It didn't work. It backfired, hurt him. It should have worked, I traded him my soul and everything that I once was. His to do as he pleased with."

He'd been so sure, when he saw The Devil's Playground burnt to the ground, that Tom was dead. "What happened to Slytherin? Is he…"

"Dead? No. Just recovering, he'll be back at full strength soon."

He'd find out that his basilisk was dead, that Tom was still alive, that Harry was still alive. He'd come for them. "How long do we have?"

"A few days, at most."

Tom still had a slightly enthralled look on his face, as he traced his fingers up along Harry's arm, along his pulse, lips, cheek, temples, before he dipped to cup the back of Harry's neck more firmly. "You didn't ask me why it didn't work."

"Why didn't it work?" Harry felt dizzy.

"A demon cannot feel love, and every thought I had was for you. Curious, don't you think? It seems you have quite the demon's powers for enthralling the unwitting yourself. If I thought I still had a soul, I would accuse you of stealing it."

Harry's pulse raced into his mouth.

Tom's mere touch seemed to leave a physical imprint across his skin, a heat.

Harry kissed him then, thrall bonds me damned. How could he not with a comment like that? Tom moaned into his mouth, kissing back eagerly. His arm wound around Harry's back, wings shifting too as they curled around them both.

Tom's fingers tangled into his hair and really it was like nothing had changed except everything had.

"And I thought we were just friends, Harry?" Tom teased when they broke for air. "Not concerned I'll enthral you?"

"Not if we only do it once. We can go back to being friends tomorrow. Besides…" Harry shrugged. "There's a good chance we'll both die within the next week anyway."

"Fuck it quite literally then." Tom sounded amused, Tom's voice sounded like velvet, and his eyes had darkened. "Though considering I am in rather desperate need of healing before a fight to the death, and it is all entirely your fault, I was going to ask anyway."

Harry blinked – feeling foolish that it hadn't occurred to him. Still an incubus, probably ravenous too. "You're kind of ruining the romance of the moment, Riddle."

Tom laughed and the next second his lips were pressed against Harry's again. Then against his ear as he pulled Harry close, with a nip of teeth. "Don't worry, if I only get once before we die, I'll have you begging for mercy for hours."

"That's still not romantic, you prick." But Harry couldn't stop grinning and he couldn't believe he'd missed this. But, oh god, he'd missed this. The heat seared through him, as he traced the sharp lines of Tom's true form, kissed his bloodied knuckles, ran his hands over every inch of Tom that he could reach.

One time couldn't hurt, he didn't think it was possible to forget Tom at this point anyway.
He dragged him to bed.

He introduced Tom to Ron and Hermione, told them everything. Planned. Contacted the Order of the Phoenix – found out what the hell the Order of the Phoenix was.

Lord Voldemort contacted his smouldering empire, his tongue a flash of silver and gold that could convince even the faithless to believe. Nobody liked a king that would strip them of their power.

When Slytherin arrived, the world turned dark.
When Slytherin arrived, he didn't dismiss Harry with a glance this time.
When Slytherin arrived, he found himself completely and utterly outnumbered.

When Slytherin arrived, he didn't walk away.

It felt strange to be back in Tom's bedroom. Harry hadn't been there since he stopped being Tom's thrall, and the memories rushed back instantly.

Muffled moans, hitched breaths, fingers grasping at silken sheets as he arched eagerly into every teasing touch. He studied Tom out of the corner of his eyes. The demon looked more radiant than ever, more powerful than ever. He supposed Tom wasn't just an Incubus any longer. Did that mean, did it mean...Harry dared not hope or think too hard on it.

Once was safe, and he'd used once up already. And, even for Tom, he refused to be anybody's thrall.

"Are you okay?" he asked softly.

"He was my sire."

Harry's throat thickened at the simple sentence, at the fact Tom admitted feeling anything but triumph at defeating Slytherin at all. But, in the end, it had felt rather like an anti-climax – just went to show, didn't it? No one creature could stand against heaven and hell combined.

Another question hovered in his mouth, but he wasn't sure if he should ask. But when had he ever watched his tongue too carefully around Riddle?

"If he wasn't planning to kill you, would you ever have actually tried to stop him?"

"Not for all the morality or justice in the world." For the first time, when Tom reached out he did so with a breath-taking tentativeness that had never been there before when he touched Harry. He'd always been confident. The need, the hunger, blazed in Tom's eyes more than ever before, but he simply brushed Harry's hair back from his forehead. Nothing more. "Only for you." Something like a smile twisted his lips.

"God, you romantic," Harry teased.

"I don't like people touching my things and telling me what to do with them, that's just rude." The possessiveness flared on Tom's face, more devouring than ever, but his touch remained feather-light. Waiting for Harry to step closer – to choose.

Harry faltered, biting on his lip. "Once unforgettable, two and the withdrawal begins, three times a thrall. I – I won't be your thrall, Tom. I don't want to be dinner, damn it, I-"

"- I'm not an Incubus anymore," Tom said. "Do you know where the name 'Incubus' comes from? It is from the old Latin, Incubo, meaning a nightmare induced by a demon. I always had demonic blood, which accounts for much of my power, but I was still turned into an Incubus by Slytherin."

"Slytherin created you, and now he's dead."

"Normally, that wouldn't make much of a difference, even if an incubus somehow managed to destroy their more powerful creator, but…" Tom's eyes gleamed.

"You had demonic blood," Harry said. "Slytherin's blood?"

"Yes. The blood of a once fallen angel, specifically, the blood of a fallen angel turned deadly sin. He didn't have enough of a heart to stay an angel."

"Lust," Harry murmured, thinking ahead, thinking of sins. "Lust for power, lust for others, in all senses of the word." It would explain how Slytherin could create incubi, the epitome of that sin. "Does that make you…"

"A deadly sin? Perhaps."

"What do you mean perhaps?"

"I told you, a demon cannot love. It should be impossible for an Incubi to fall in love too."

Did that mean…was Tom saying...

"You said the blood of a once fallen angel."

"I imagine angels, being angels however rotten, are capable of such sentimental feelings, yes."

Harry wet his lips. "So I'm not going to die if I kiss you right now?" His gaze dipping to Tom's lips. So tantalisingly close that he could feel breath on his skin, could crush their mouths together in a heartbeat. He smoothed his hands over Tom's chest, mind racing - trying to figure out the implications. He should probably really be worrying about what a 'deadly sin' or even a 'fallen angel' did, what Salazar did, with the whole dealing and stealing souls, sign your name in blood on the dotted line part of the job description.

"No." Tom's lip curled. "Honestly, I am not sure what it would do. Damn you to be mine for all eternity no doubt."

"Aren't you supposed to be on one knee if you're offering forever as the next step in our relationship?" Harry said, raising a brow. "So we're going up against Lucifer next then, right?"

Tom laughed, low and velvet. His finger caressed over Harry's lower lip.

"You shouldn't say the Devil's name in vain, Harry. Even you must have had enough trouble for one day."

"Actually, I think," Harry wound his fingers into the tops of Tom's trousers to tug him a little closer so they pressed flush against each other. "I could use just a little bit more trouble with demons. One in particular."

Tom's breath hitched.

He didn't know which one of them moved to kiss first, but in the next heartbeat everything was Tom. Not cold anymore, like he used to be, he seemed to burn beneath Harry's hands like his skin could barely contain the heat of him.

Tom laughed and kissed him again, and promptly shoved him up against the nearest wall.

Then he got to his knees, fingers deftly unzipping Harry's trousers.

And Harry thought he might have fallen too, just a little bit.

A/N: I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this chapter, but I hope you enjoyed it and that the Tom and Harry dynamic feels more resolved. I felt it needed resolving. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts if you liked reading my work. Even if it's just 'this was my favourite bit or favourite sentence' or whatnot. Or, you know, hit me if it was terrible too - shorter stories are still a challenge for me so I could use constructive criticism. Anyway. Yay, it's done! And somehow I wrote a happy ending? Maybe I'm possessed.