Harry felt like an absolute fool. He was tearing through the Department of Mysteries with Hermione and Neville at his side, with no idea where Ron, Luna, and Ginny were, much less where they themselves were located.
He'd been too prideful. He hadn't even thought of the two-way mirror, he hadn't doubted the sanctity of visions which came from a mind-link with Voldemort! And now he – and much worse – his friends, were going to pay the price.
"Where to now?" Hermione asked, chest heaving for breath. She wasn't very athletic, Harry knew, noticing with dismay that she would not be able to run much longer. Her speed was flagging fast as they turned the corner. They were back in the circular room with way too many doors.
"Just pick one!" Harry said, spinning around as the door behind them opened, a flood of Death Eaters pouring out. Harry shot off a few hurried Stunning spells before turning and following Neville into the next room.
This room was more bizarre than the others they had seen. For one, the whole entire thing was lined with shelves. Rows and rows of shelves that formed square under square on the walls of the room. Each shelf held something strange. One wall seemed to be dedicated to strange things that at first looked dead, but definitely were alive and wriggling. Bulbous bodies with spikes and webs and skin and organ-like things on the outside...all contained in tanks with a strange blue liquid. The wall of the doorway held what looked like jagged, twisted metal that had survived a bomb. The right wall had large boxes with labels like 'Right Index Fingers' and 'Left Kidneys.' Harry noticed with horror that he could see pale bloodless fingers peeking out of the top of one of the boxes.
But by far the most odd – and perhaps the most terrifying – was the last wall, the wall directly across from the stunned trio.
The shelves were covered in thousands of vials in holders with what appeared to be potions in them, but the shelves were connected by visible strands of white magic that lazily moved from vial to vial in a strange dance. The substances in the vials flickered in an unnerving way, the magic around them seeming to twist in vicious motions, despite being a pure white.
Scanning the room for escape routes, they had forgot about the Death Eaters.
Harry heard a Death Eater say an unintelligible curse behind him so he threw himself sideways into his friends, knocking them all down with his hands clutching the prophecy to his chest. To Harry's relief, the curse missed them entirely.
However, he could not relax. The curse flew on, brilliant purple and making the very air around it haze with the crackle of energy becoming visible, until it impacted the white magic.
The room exploded in white. The white magic had flared up, and the vials on the shelves seemed to blinking so quickly that Harry absently thought that it looked like some sort of light show. What idiots, Harry thought as he lifted an arm to his face. What kind of idiot throws around spells of such power in a room filled with likely-volatile contents?
Next to him, Hermione staggered to her feet, wand pointed at the Death Eaters frozen in the doorway. Harry also scrambled to his feet, grabbing Neville's arm and yanking him up while lifting his wand to join Hermione's.
"Now, Potter, this isn't really the time to be playing, is it?" drawled a familiar voice. "It looks like that curse Jugson cast irritated that experiment over there. Might explode."
"I thought you wanted the prophecy intact?" Harry said with a hint of a question, lifting an eyebrow at Malfoy. "Not broken, surely."
"Well, I admit, that was a bad idea," Malfoy said, glaring at one of the Death Eaters next to him. "But no harm done, correct? Hand it over and maybe we'll spare you."
"Not a chance!" Neville blustered, shaking like a leaf. Harry nodded in agreement.
"Well then," Malfoy said. "Accio prophecy!"
"Protego!" Harry yelled, silvery shield forming in the air just in time to abort the leap the prophecy was about make. What kind of idiot was Malfoy? What if it smashed into something or hit a wayward spell? "'Mione, Neville, attack! We have to get out of here!"
To Harry's regret, they were cornered; they had to make it out before they could do anything or find the others. Of course, it was just their luck that they had at least one top-tier Death Eater fighting them. Top-tier stupid, Harry added in his head. It was a miracle Voldemort had progressed this far if his best Death Eaters lacked common sense.
A furious exchange of spells and curses commenced. Hermione was yelling spells that Harry had never heard of at a furious pace while Harry and Neville stuck to Stunning Spells and the Disarming Spell for the most part. Occasionally, a spell would fly past them as they ducked and it would strike the roiling sheet of white magic behind them, flooding the room with a bright flash.
Harry smirked as a properly-applied Expelliarmus threw him one of the Death Eater's wands. Neville had managed to snatch a wand too. Harry felt a glimmer of pride in how far Neville had advanced. He was holding up quite well. Meanwhile, Hermione had left at least three Death Eaters looking for the most part incapacitated, one gasping for breath, the others not moving.
"What spells are you casting?" Harry asked after casting a particularly strong Immobilus.
"Rare spells I've only read about," Hermione said, yelling out something unintelligible. "I thought this way they wouldn't be able to undo my spells," she said before yelling out a shield charm. "I read them in a few books in the back of the library that were so dusty they hadn't been touched in decades."
"Good job!" Harry said, flicking his wand and letting loose three stunning hexes that knocked a Death Eater to the floor. "It only looks like a few of them work, though."
Hermione shot off three spells in a row before replying. "I've never actually tried any of these."
"Oh," Harry said, casting a Shield charm right in front of Hermione as a nasty orange curse sped her way. "Maybe now's not the best time to try new spells?" Harry offered.
"Do you have any better ideas? Everyone you're stunning is revived moments later!"
Harry had to agree that Hermione was right. The Death Eater he'd just stunned was leaping back to his feet. Harry listened to Hermione spit out spells that sounded more like gibberish than anything before he tried copying a few of the spells that she succeeded with. He discovered two that he could manage on the first try, and threw himself into the fray with them falling out of his lips.
The Death Eaters were getting slowly picked off, and the tide of the battle changed completely. Harry felt a surge of relief suffuse his being when Neville called out, noticing familiar people coming up behind the Death Eaters.
"It's the Order!" Harry said with a sigh.
"Harry!" yelled Kingsley. "Get out of there! That room is particularly dangerous!" Harry snorted in response. He rather thought that they'd realized that, with the room being filled with monsters and severed body parts and all, not to mention the white magic which looked a bit too furious to be benevolent. Perhaps Kingsley knew more about it. As an Auror, he probably had been in the Department of Mysteries at some time or another.
"Trying!" Hermione shrieked as a curse blew right through her shield. Harry watched, horrified, as Hermione fell to the ground, screaming. He leapt forward to check on her but in his moment of inattention, he didn't notice the Disarming spell that hit him.
His wand flew right out of his grip toward the smug eyes of Malfoy, the prophecy jumping free of his other hand. Huh. Prophecies counted as weapons? Harry thought as he felt himself be blown backwards...right into the white magic.
In an instant, his scar flared up in a terrible pain. The magic was confused. Two fell into it, but it seemed only like one. How strange…the first being had half of the second inside it. What a curious phenomenon… The second was in pieces. That wouldn't do; it was the magic's job to tear things into pieces to protect the vials behind it. But how could it accomplish its job when the second wasn't even properly there? Already in pieces too? The magic latched on to the whole one's magic, following an invisible tether to the other part of the second being that it felt.
Harry felt a terrible wrench that went deep into his bones. A great crack split the air and Lord Voldemort popped into existence in front of him, red eyes blown wide in shock. Before either of them could move, they were surrounded by a pure white vortex which began spinning faster and faster and began heating up.
The white magic let go of the first being as it began investigating the second. Oh dear, the second was even less than the first part that the magic had sensed! The magic cast itself outward, grabbing onto the second being's prodigious magic reserves just in case. How strange. A mere splinter having so much magic? The white magic hummed. Success! The white magic found the rest of the pieces, and began to reel them in with vicious relish.
Harry watched dumbfounded as a plain looking gold cup, a locket that seemed vaguely familiar, an ugly ring, and Nagini popped into existence right next to Voldemort.
"What is this?" Voldemort said, looking around. "Potter!"
Harry flinched and Voldemort whipped out his wand as white-blue lights of various sizes floated out of the objects and Nagini, who suddenly began writhing on the ground, hissing in pain. Then, the pieces all flew at Voldemort...and disappeared into him. At least, that was what it looked like to Harry. Harry felt a sharp pain in his scar and clamped his hand over it. Those lights looked a lot like what Sirius's soul had looked like when the Dementors had attacked them by the lake.
Voldemort fell onto the ground, and Harry watched, wincing through the pain in his scar, as Voldemort started looking like a man in his late twenties instead of a pale, skeletal snake-hybrid. Harry could almost believe that this was some sort of ritual Voldemort was going through so that he could look normal again if not for the fact that Voldemort had looked confused and…dare he say frightened?
The magic from the vortex, reached out and felt the second being...and was angered when the second was still incomplete! The magic reached out for the longest connection and hummed with strange glee as a tiara appeared, emitting a rather large piece that also rejoined the second being. Now, one more piece left…
Harry watched as a writhing Voldemort turned visibly younger, looking as if he was only a few years older than Harry himself. It was strange, seeing Voldemort looking more and more like the handsome, dangerous entity from second year. Was it possible that the lights were…souls? No, Harry decided. Parts, from the look of the size differences.
Harry made a confused sound. He couldn't take it anymore. The situation was ridiculous. Some malevolent magic was turning Voldemort back into a kid! But why would it go after Voldemort if Harry had been the one to fall into it in the first place…?
The magic moved and Harry collapsed to the ground as the pain in his scar grew beyond any pain he had ever felt. The Cruciatus curse held nothing to the pain – like someone was pulling on something deep inside him, something integral – that burned like Harry himself was about to die. It was as if there was something inside him with claws and it was being yanked, sharp claws shredding… As Harry moaned, clutching at his forehead, he watched as if from a distance deep within himself as Voldemort – or was it Tom now? – picked himself up and pointed a shaking wand directly at Harry.
The magic was displeased. Only it had the ability to destroy things to protect the vials. That was why it was there, that was why it was left! Not the second being. The magic blew the wand – how quaint, a wand! – out of existence.
Voldemort cried out as the wand in his hand shimmered and ceased to exist. Harry watched through a white haze as Voldemort stumbled toward Harry, fist pulled back. It almost seemed as if Voldemort wanted to kill Harry using Muggle methods… Harry burst out into uncontrollable giggling at the hilarity of the situation as he felt another hook detach from deep within him. It hurt so much! Harry scrambled with his magic, trying to hold onto the thing that was being ripped away – it hurt so bad; it was being stolen – with protective viciousness. Another sharp yank ripped into Harry and he felt something detach.
The second being took a shaking step closer to the first being...and then another step… and then tripped, puny hands flying out as it fell on top of the first being, smashing a hand – not puny but dangerous! – into the shelves above. The half of the second being's soul in the first was now somewhere in between the two, confused at their proximity. The vessel that it had joined with a few years ago and the original vessel. A vial fell on the first being's face, and the magic watched in horror as it spilled a shimmering silver liquid right onto the first being's skin. Another vial teetered within the twisted remains of the rack that held it, and splashed across both trespassing beings. Several more vials fell on them both. The magic keened in anger. That was not allowed! It was all because the second was cut up into tiny pieces. It should have just destroyed the magical sliver as soon as it arrived and then dealt with the first being's half of the second later.
The magic referred to the second set of instructions that was coded deep within its being. It should never have come to this. It never had, before. But if Merlin's vials were disturbed, the effects could not stay in this world. Merlin had deemed it a risk too large. Merlin had left a bit of magic behind to watch over and protect and destroy because those creations were too dangerous to keep around. The magic knew Merlin, dear Merlin, should have gotten rid of them, but it was too late now.
So, the magic picked a world at random and flung both mistakes into it, hoping that Merlin would forgive it, wherever he was. The magic had been around for over a thousand years. Surely two mistakes in such a long time weren't quite so bad?
Harry awoke to a lingering pain deep within him. A memory flashed into his mind; he had seemed to be compressed, while his mind had seemed to expand. And all of that had happened surrounded by a pure white and the feeling of traveling an immeasurably long distance.
The pain seemed to be less, fading every second. As Harry lay on a cold, hard surface, he took shallow breaths and waited until the pain faded into a dull throbbing. After it had settled down some, Harry opened his eyes.
The first clue that something wasn't quite right was the fact that his vision clearer than it had ever been. It was so defined and crisp that Harry suspected that even glasses with a proper prescription couldn't replicate the things he could now see. He was someplace dark, but his eyes weren't impaired at all. He could see an infinite number of shades in that inky blackness, making out the details of the ceiling. It looked old; the wooden beams had definitely seen better days, splintered and strained as they were. An intricate tracing of spiderwebs hung between them like unicorn hair, glittering like stars in the faint light.
The second clue that something was wrong was that he smelled...someone. Someone human. For some reason, the fact that this distinction was made without his conscious awareness – as if it was normal to be able to identify a species by smell – was unnerving.
The third clue that something was off – and probably the most important clue of all – was the fact that when Harry moved to sit up, his body moved in a completely different way from how he was used to it moving. Instead of sitting up, he instead lurched upward at angle that bent his spine in an unnatural conformation. The brief flash of pain, however dull, made Harry relax all of his muscles until he flopped back to the ground, feeling shaky as a fish out of water. A human in the wrong body. Harry lay there, trying not to panic for a few moments. Once he was sure that he had regained his composure, he lifted a neck that seemed way too long, and craned it down. When he saw talons, he keened in horror as his suspicions were confirmed.
He heard a grunt from behind him, and realized that the smell of human was coming from behind him. He lunged to the side on shaky legs, skidding on the ground as he stared at what could only be a young Voldemort, who was rubbing at his eyes.
Voldemort opened his eyes, and then gave a small yelp. He threw himself backwards across the ground, staring at Harry in shock.
"Voldemort?" Harry asked tentatively.
"Potter?!" Voldemort said, sprawled on the floor. "What the hell happened?"
"I was hoping you knew the answer to that question! Weren't you supposed to be a genius or something?" Harry said, moving his legs underneath his body before standing up with a wobble.
"Considering the fact that I got transported to you against my will, along with my horcruxes, wouldn't you think it highly unlikely? This smells like a plan that Dumbledore would have cooked up," Voldemort said, sibilant hisses bleeding into his words. He scrambled to his feet, looking absolutely ridiculous in robes that were now several sizes too big.
"You look ridiculous," Harry noted, finding that his strange body was quite capable of producing a decent cheeky grin. "Why are you suddenly my age?" Harry examined Voldemort further. "You need new robes."
"As if I know!" Voldemort said, looking around with a scoff. After scanning the surrounding area with increasing panic, Harry simply watching, Voldemort turned and looked at Harry. "Have you seen my wand?" Voldemort asked in a soft voice.
"Do you think I'm that stupid? That I'd tell you if I knew?" Harry asked. "But no, didn't it disappear in that big white tornado thing?"
"You need a better vocabulary," Voldemort said, staring at his hands before fixing a piercing look at Harry. "So you don't know anything about what happened?"
"Not really," Harry said. "Speaking of that, by the way. What the hell happened to me?"
Voldemort stared at him for a few seconds before bursting into hissing laughter. "Potter!" he wheezed. "You're a bloody dragon!" After a few cackles, Voldemort settled on the ground. "It's fitting, I think."
"No way," Harry said, craning his long neck to look at himself again. The talons were still there. Almost fearful of what he would find, Harry turned his neck around as far as he could and was met with the sight of tiny black scales spotted with white spots, crumpled black wings, some other strange membranes and a very long, thin tail. With that, Harry collapsed on the ground, weak legs unable to withhold his despairing lapse of concentration.
"Where are we?" Harry asked, sticking out his long tongue and eyeing it. "It seems like we're stuck here."
"You don't have your wand either?" Voldemort asked, looking up at the ceiling.
"No. Got hit with an Expelliarmus. That's what threw me into that freaky white magic."
"Gone. Would've been nice to know what it said."
"Yeah," Voldemort agreed, sitting on the ground a few feet away from Harry. "I do not believe it is valid any longer, though."
"You felt it too?" Harry asked, remembering the feeling of endless travel compressed into mere seconds. Endless travel that ripped them both free of everything they were before putting them back together. Voldemort gave a hum of assent.
They sat in contemplative silence for a few minutes.
"Say, Voldemort," Harry said after some time, "how about a truce? Until we can find out what the hell happened and how to get back. For all we know, both of us need to be alive for that to happen."
"That doesn't sound like a good idea," Voldemort sighed, "but for now, yes. But the second we get back from wherever we are and I find my wand, I'll kill you."
"Alright," Harry said. "Can I call you Tom?"
"Absolutely not!" Voldemort snapped, glaring at Harry. Harry twitched his tail in irritation, freezing when he realized how instinctive that felt, a far cry from the wobbling, out-of-control mess he had been earlier.
"But wouldn't it be strange for people to call you something as ridiculous as Voldemort, though? We don't know where we are."
"It's not ridiculous," Voldemort sniffed. "It's a powerful name."
"Sounds a bit cowardly to me, though," Harry said. "I mean, Flight from Death? Really? When Hermione told me about it, I didn't believe it at first. Might as well have just called yourself Lord Chicken. Also, as you're a teenager right now, it doesn't have the same…oomph, you know?"
"You!" Voldemort snarled, throwing himself at Harry. "Hey, remember the truce!" Harry yelled, snapping at Voldemort's hands. When his fangs connected with the skin of Voldemort's arm, he thought he felt a tingle run through his bones. The dull pain that had been lingering in the background faded. Harry resumed snapping at Voldemort with new enthusiasm. However, Voldemort was still bigger than him and had the advantage. It seemed that he was a baby dragon, of all things!
Voldemort froze after Harry's fangs dug into his wrist instead of just skimming the flesh, whipping a hand away from Harry's jaws. "I see your point," he said, giving Harry an appraising look. "You can call me Tom, then."
"Okay…Tom. So, what do we do first?" Harry scrambled to his feet, feeling surer of his balance following his tentative victory over Voldemort…Tom. He stretched out both wings, one at a time, shivering at the feeling of a slight breeze on the leathery stretches. The muscles were unfamiliar, as were the movements, but they moved with the smallest thought. He then folded them as close to his body as he could. Next, he carefully lifted his tail and curled it around his back leg. Until he gained better control over this new body – or if he was able to regain his old one – any extra appendages were a nuisance that he would strive to avoid.
"Scope out the area," Tom said.
"I propose you carry me," Harry said, giving Tom an appraising look before scanning over the large, empty building. "This place looks muggle."
Tom stared at him. "Dark Lords do not carry schoolchildren."
"I'm not a schoolchild anymore though, remember? I'm a dragon. Rawr," Harry said, snickering. "You do have to admit that it makes sense. You can't exactly obliviate anyone if they see a dragon wandering the streets."
"Since when have idiot schoolchildren become the voice of reason?" Tom muttered, stooping and grabbing onto something above Harry's head, and reaching with another hand underneath Harry's stomach. Harry realized that perhaps he had horns of some sort. Wicked. That explained the unusual weight of his head.
Tom arranged Harry in his arms, fumbling with Harry's wings until Harry snapped at him. Harry gave a serpentine smile. While inconvenient, the extra fangs were quite handy. By comparing his relative size to Tom's teenage form, Harry deduced that he was the size of a fairly large dog, although more snake-like and slender.
"I am going to put you underneath my robes. Seems like there is room to spare," Tom muttered, looking Harry straight in the eye. "I find it difficult to believe that I am a teenager again."
"A lot less uglier too," piped up Harry. He couldn't resist poking fun at Tom. With the distinct lack of true danger due to their mysterious circumstances, it was an opportunity too golden to pass up. It wasn't as if Tom could possibly hate him any more than he already did, anyway.
"What do you mean?" Tom asked, tightening his grip on Harry's front legs.
"You look like you did when you were in the diary," Harry said. "Didn't you notice how you're not as white as a corpse?"
"I'm not?" Tom said, relaxing his grip on Harry. "That's good news. Now, let's go," Tom said, stuffing Harry into his robes. "Dig your claws into my shirt so I can have my hands free."
Harry did just that, hooking his talons into Tom's shirt at regular intervals. It was dark inside the robes, but once again, the darkness seemed irrelevant. As Tom began walking, Harry began swinging from side to side with his movement. There was the sound of a creaking door and the area inside Tom's robes lightened. Deciding that talking coming from someone's oversize robes was a little suspicious, Harry began to whisper in Parseltongue.
"What do you see?"
"I...do not know," Tom said. "Our surroundings appear as something from a history textbook."
"What do you mean? Elaborate," Harry demanded impatiently. He could hear the sounds of people moving, breathing, smell animals and something that stunk of waste."I can't see shit from inside your robes, remember."
"It does not appear as if we are in 1995 anymore," Tom whispered. "Based on what I am seeing, it looks as if we are in the late eighteenth century. Perhaps the early nineteenth."
"So…maybe a time turner accident?"
"Wrong room," Tom muttered. Harry's swinging increased and he realized that Tom must be speeding up. "I am attracting quite a few looks."
"I can't imagine why," Harry snarked, freezing when a loud rumble echoed from his midcenter. "This isn't good news. Oh, Tom! I'm really, really terribly hungry right now. Can you please get me something to eat?"
"This is not the time for food," Tom said. "I am trying to find out exactly where we are. "
"I'm so hungry though," Harry whined. His stomach had woken with a vicious snarl a few moments ago, demanding food with greater violence than ever before even while living with the Dursleys. "I won't insult you anymore if you get me food. I promise."
"You sound like Nagini," Tom said. "Whiny."
"For good reason!" Harry complained, pulling himself closer to his talons despite the discomfort the unfamiliar move caused. A few seconds later, a tantalizing coppery scent drifted into Harry's awareness. "Oh, that smells so good! Coming from the left. Is that blood?"
"Based on your incessant whining, I am assuming you have the appetite of a dragon. Similar tastes too?" Tom inquired, giving a sigh. .
"Yes. Please. Food."
"It seems like your already pathetic skills in the English language are deteriorating as we speak. I will get you some of your blasted food, if only to shut you up. Where is my wand when I need it?"
Harry remained silent, twitching his tail at irregular intervals around his leg in anticipation. The hunger was a deep monster gnawing at his insides. Eating Tom didn't sound too bad right now. They were supposed to be prophesized mortal enemies, after all. But that was off limits. No eating humans. That was cannibalism. Or was it? Harry wasn't human at the moment…
He felt Tom turn, his shirt swinging and flinging Harry into Tom's side. Harry felt Tom's footsteps slow. A few tense minutes went by as Tom creeped closer to that wonderful, tantalizing, succulent, absolutely bloody smell. Harry was quivering in excitement. Food!
Harry felt Tom lean down and snatch something, stuffing it into his robes. Harry latched onto what appeared to be a ginormous hunk of meat with his teeth, tearing into it. He was glad for his fangs once again. They made eating the meat so much easier. Harry curled his talons further into Tom's shirt, hoping it wouldn't rip. The blood gushing into his mouth made time slow down and Harry felt as the monster inside his stomach calmed. Then, as Tom turned around, muttering "Happy?" Harry heard a yell.
With that, Tom burst into a run. Harry clung on for dear life to both his meat and Tom's shirt. Right now, the meat felt a little bit more important, but Harry didn't fancy the thought of making his way through a crowd of Muggles by himself, so he didn't let go of the shirt, instead compromising by biting down harder on his meat.
"You're bloodying my robes… savage little thing," Tom gasped. Harry rumbled deep in his throat in amusement. Tom sounded as if he hadn't run in ages. Figures. Dark Lords mostly sat and gave orders, after all.
A dizzying set of twists and turns ensued, flinging around Harry from side to side at a ridiculous speed. Harry was starting to fear whiplash, as holding onto a chunk of meat only a little smaller than his body was making his neck feel rather heavy. Tom darted to one side, almost causing Harry to lose his grip on his shirt, before slowing down.
Tom stood still for a few minutes, still heaving for breath. Harry made use of that time to detach a foreleg from Tom's shirt and use it to better his grip. In no time at all, he had devoured more than half of his meat. Tom sighed in relief. "I do not see any law enforcement officers anymore," Tom said. "Now finish your bloody meat - excuse the pun - so we can be off. I am sure I saw the river Thames just now."
Harry chirped in reply before digging into his meat. Within a minute, he was finished. The monster in his stomach was sated and happy. Harry realized after a few moments of pleased silence that he was also drenched with blood, something that he felt was quite embarrassing.
"Sorry about making a mess," Harry said. "I was just really hungry all of a sudden. Is that normal?"
"We will figure it out," Tom said. "Let's go."
With that, Harry reattached both sets of talons to Tom's shirt, and they were off.
Tom was beyond irritated. Potter - the bloody dragon - had fallen asleep, so he didn't even have Potter's conversation to entertain himself with. He could actually be quite amusing when he wasn't irritating Tom to death. Instead, Tom had to explore this strange London with only his thoughts for company, if one discounted the multitudes of Muggles populating the filthy streets.
It, for all intents and purposes, looked like London. Except London from the early 1800s, or perhaps the late 1700s. Tom didn't spend too much time studying muggle history after entering Hogwarts so he couldn't be sure.
Everyone was dressed in a peculiar fashion that reminded Tom of some of the more eccentric pureblood styles. His large, dirty and oversize robes stood out so much that most of the Muggles he passed stared at him. It didn't help that Potter had smeared blood everywhere, making his robes glisten damply around his chest. Not only did he look right fright, but he likely smelled like one too.
Tom needed to figure out a way to at least look inconspicuous. He tried casting a glamour charm wandlessly, but to his frustration, he couldn't even feel his magic rising up to his call. He tried again and again but was met with no success. Tom began to panic. Wandless magic had always been natural to him; the magic had flowed the way he willed it even when Tom had been nothing but a child. But now...he felt nothing. That made him feel colder and more scared than he had ever been within his long life. He had always had his magic...but without it, who was he?
Not Lord Voldemort, of course.
Tom began hyperventilating, his hands shaking without his express permission. He needed to find a place to calm down. His magic had to be there. Perhaps just hiding somewhere deep inside him? He was sure of it. It couldn't be gone. Casting his eyes about him, Tom noticed a large series of buildings surrounded by numerous treetops. A park, perhaps? He could not remember a park in that location from his memories of London, but it would have to do.
Tom walked up to a stone archway, wooden doors standing open, trying to stop his shaking. He couldn't wake Potter now, in this moment of weakness. He glanced inside, and saw an empty entrance hall with a rather Spartan feel to it. Looking across the polished floors, he saw an open door and beyond it he saw a large clearing surrounded by several very large trees. That would do for now.
Tom stepped inside after throwing a few cautious glances at the empty street behind him, rushing to the other door. He strode across the grass quickly, sinking to the ground behind one of the large trees, out of sight. There, he tried to calm his breathing. His magic would be back. It was just exhausted from the strain of appearing wherever they were. Or something. Deciding to distract himself from thoughts he did not want to confront…could not confront, Tom opened his robes and stared at the sleeping dragonet. It looked elegant; more elegant than Potter ever had.
Potter was black, with fairly large scales. He had a few irregular white splotches scattered across his body that shimmered as if they were covered in glitter. He had a crown of horns on top of its head that were silvery in color, matching a neat set of five silver talons on each leg. His neck was long and serpentine, as was the whole body and tail. The wings, Tom noted, didn't look much like the dragon wings he remembered studying. The wings had six spines, but the leading edge of the wing actually consisted of two spines almost fused together, much like bat wings. It made sense, Tom noted. Extra support. They were not open right now but he remembered those ridiculous, huge green eyes. They looked a little too big for Potter's face, actually, making him look somewhat like a bug. They were still the same Avada Kedavra green, though, despite Potter's perplexing change in species. One of the white splotches on his forehead, between his eyes, looked much like that accursed scar. How ironic.
How did this happen? It must have been those vials that he knocked into when he tripped. Potter turned into a dragon. He...seemed to have lost his magic. Also, based on Potter's words and the way that his robes dragged behind his body, he looked the age he was when he made his first horcrux. While the youth was marvelous, it was not worth the price of his magic, if that was what it cost. Without magic, he was naught but a muggle, doomed to live maybe seventy more years without magic. Even at his advanced age, he could have lived for another seventy years with magic, without using his horcruxes.
Tom was snapped out of his thoughts when he heard a peculiar sound coming from behind him. It reminded him of something snapping in the wind, like fabric. He sat up straighter, plucking Potter off of his shirt, ready to sprint away from the source of that noise. He wasn't sure that Potter would be able to hold on properly during a good run when he was asleep. Potter twitched in his sleep, letting out a loud sneeze. Tom froze as a familiar tingle raced through his fingertips. Magic. But not enough to do anything with. Tom pressed Potter closer, noticing with shock that the amount of magic was increasing…flowing into him with increased speed. But it was still too little.
The flapping sound was nearer, now. Too near. Tom felt a gust of wind hit him in the back, and he staggered, turning around. What he saw almost made him drop Potter. The tree wasn't big enough to cover the sight of a huge yellow dragon landing, banded with white and covered in what appeared to be an extensive harness. What was worse was that the dragon whirled around upon impact with the ground, golden eyes staring.
The final shock was when it opened its mouth and asked, in a distinctly female voice, "Why do you have a dragon in your arms?"
Tom did the only thing he could think of while being low on magic. He ran, casting a weak Notice-Me-Not charm wandlessly, almost yelling in frustration when that was enough to wipe out the magic he had collected from Potter.
"What is it?" a male voice called.
"Stop!" the female voice screeched. "Hatchling-thief!"
"What? Where?" yelled the male voice. "I don't see anyone."
"He's running away! Right in front of us!" the dragon cried, leaping after Tom.
Tom ran as fast as he could, trying not to jostle Potter too much. Waking him wasn't a good idea. Not now. Why were there dragons amongst muggles? Harnessed? Speaking like intelligent creatures? It made sense for Potter to speak, being originally a human, but why did the dragons here speak? Nothing made sense anymore. Tom could hear the dragon leaping behind him, a great series of male voices yelling "What is it, Messoria?" The dragon – Messoria – was drawing nearer. Despite his head start, Tom couldn't compete with what appeared to be a dragon only a little shorter than Ssilvi, his dear, departed basilisk.
Tom wriggled like a mad pixie when a large clawed hand grabbed him around the middle, squeezing Potter into his chest. "Let go!" Tom said.
"What is it?" Potter muttered, jerking in Tom's arms. "What's going on?"
"There is a bit of a problem, if you have not noticed!" Tom said, angry when his voice cracked.
"Who are you? Why can't my men see you?" Messoria asked, lifting Tom off the ground. "Why are you holding a hatchling?"
"He's mine," Tom said, clinging to Potter, who was stirring. Potter had magic. Tom could collect it. He couldn't let Potter go until he figured out what was happening.
"No I'm not," Potter said, squinting. "Why is it so bright outside?" His large green eyes were just slits. "Wait...is that another dragon?"
"Yes, you idiot, and we're in a bit of a situation here, so if you can, wake up a little faster and help me!" Tom yelled. Potter writhed in Tom's hands and hissed at the other dragon. "Let him go!"
"Why should I?" asked Messoria. "Who is he, and from where did he steal you?"
"He didn't steal me from anywhere!" Potter said, baring his fangs. "Now let us go!"
"Only if he promises not to run," Messoria said, bringing them closer to one large golden eye.
"Fine," Potter said, opening one eye a sliver more to give a more effective glare. "Don't do anything; it's obvious she trusts my word above yours." Tom hissed under his breath in irritation but stayed quiet, feeling the weak Notice-Me-Not charm break.
Messoria set Tom down and took half a step back, which turned out to be a sizeable amount of paces. A man slid off the back of her neck and dropped to the ground. "Wait...you weren't here before!" the man said. "What just happened?"
"A Notice-Me-Not charm, Tom? Really? Are you trying to break the Statute of Secrecy?"
"Nothing happened. Your dragon attacked me and accused me of being a thief," Tom said. "This is my dragon."
"Does said dragon have a name?" the man asked.
"I'm Harry," Potter said. "It's in your best interest to call me that, now. Ha, first names. We could be best friends."
"Why do you keep hissing?" Messoria asked, lowering her massive head.
"A habit?" Potter said in a tone which basically screamed 'liar!'
"I think," the man said, "that you should wait here while Messoria is unharnessed. Then we can discuss how you happen to be in possession of a foreign dragon in the middle of London."
Tom exchanged looks with Potter - no, Harry. It was best to get used to calling him that now to prevent slips. What had they gotten themselves into?
AN: I know this isn't an update to The Magicweaver but I really wanted to get this out there. This will likely have sporadic updates as I focus on MW but I thought I might put it up anyway. I've long been a fan of Temeraire and my sister endorsed this... It will be a bit cracky but hey, if any of you are regular readers of MW, you know my tendency to throw random comedy into a serious fic.
The reason that the diary horcrux never appeared was because its destruction in second year knocked the soul fragment free of its container and it latched onto Harry, another horcrux container. That's why the weird magic called him a person and a half. The idea of basilisk venom, while being a potent poison, being able to destroy something as intangible as a soul is somewhat ridiculous, in my opinion. When Voldemort's body died, he became a free-floating spirit, didn't he?