Chapter I

"Harry, mate, had you knocked your head on something? That's definitely a woman there. She sure can't be a bloody V-Vol-You Know Who!"

"Harry James Potter! Muggle drugs are even more dangerous for a wizard!"

His friends exclaimed together, Ron positively shocked at the thought, and Hermione — absolutely furious.

Harry shook his head desperately.

"Can't you see him? That's him, Riddle, and not some Muggle-loving witch!" he spat, stumbling on the last word's first letter for emphasis.

"Now, now, Mr. Potter. No need to be so hostile. I'm sure you and Ms. Ross would make fast friends pretty soon," said Dumbledore, passing by Griffindor table on his way to the exit.

Harry glanced at "the newest addition to Hogwarts", who was smiling sweetly, while looking him directly in the eye. Harry quickly averted the gaze, remembering about Voldemort being the Master of Legilimency, but it was too late. Dark Lord's brows raised in obvious shock, which he (she?) tried to cover quickly with another angelic smile, albeit not quite reaching his eyes.

"Oh, but of course! It would be the greatest pleasure—" he all but purred, smiling even wider than before. "I think, we will be very close friends with Harry here."

Harry, silently fuming, stormed out of the Great Hall and rushed to the Griffindor Tower. He will show them! And what was wrong with Dumbledore?! At least he should see through any glamor or polyjuice potion, shouldn't he?

Harry, at last reaching the sixth year dormitory, went for his trunk and began to throw everything out in the furious search of the Maradeurs Map. Surely, the Map should show true name of their new "professor"—

Harry stopped in mid-motion abruptly, remembering something: just the previous evening Ron told him, that he accidentally lent the Map to Seamus, who'd happened to find out about it similarly accidentally earlier, and then Seamus had lost it on his way back from his date with some Slytherin, but had seen it in the hands of Snape, who stumbled upon it, but had no real insight in what it was.

Shaking his head, Harry plopped onto his bed, with all of his staff strewn on the blanket, desperately going through it all in search of anything at least partially useful for his cause. But to no effect. The only thing which could have been helpful to him was not in his possession at the moment, but in the hands of his most hated professor. The other somewhat handy item was, of course, the Invisibility Cloak, but without the Map it was utterly pointless—

He desperately needed his Map!

He would wait till the night and hoping for the best will go to Snape's quarters and retrieve the Map, Harry decided.

Harry was hardly able to wait till midnight that day. Even Ron, never mind Hermione, had noticed his jittery skittishness during the day. They tried to talk to him, but he was sure that without evidence there's no point in "telling nonsense" about the newest staff-member.

Voldemort even before the actual classes had managed to make everyone love him, it seemed!

Of course, Harry could not see past his too-familiar features of the man who almost killed his friend's sister, but, according to Ron and other Griffindor sixth-years, the new Professor was young blond girl with "boobs", as Seamus put it, "so large, that one could put a mug of butterbeer there, and it won't topple". Of course, nobody could see beyond that, not even to describe "her" face properly, saying just that "she" had huge beautiful eyes of indefinite color and seemingly soft plump lips.

Harry impatiently waited till the last of Griffindors retired for the night before quietly slipping out of the Tower under the Invisibility Cloak and rushing to the Slytherin part of the castle.

Later on Harry could not tell how he managed to slip into Snape's rooms and out of them without Potion Master's notice, after retrieving the Map, which was simply lying on Snape's desk, showing nothing. And after that his luck had finally ran out.

"Mr. Potter, might I inquire as to what you could be possibly doing in this particular corridor at this time of the night?" Snape was looming over him just a step away from the entrance to his rooms, Cloak tightly held in his two fingers as if it was something mildly disgusting, and with the same expression on his gloomy face.

Harry gulped audibly, this time quickly remembering about the danger of the eye-contact with a mind-reader, and averting his gaze immediately, after locking it with Snape for a brief moment. Only to catch the eye of another person, appearing behind Snape's back.

Of course, there just wasn't anyone else in the castle! Only mind-reading Slytherins! Harry shut his eyes in annoyance and just to be sure, that no more people could look into his head without invitation.

"Isn't it our most famous student, Mr. Snape?" Voldemort — no, Riddle, this way he looked just too human to be called that pompous pseudonym — sent his saccharine smile at Harry, even winking to him, like one would to the partner in crime. "Mind, if I borrow him for a second, my friend? If I remember correctly, Mr. Potter here is very closely acquainted with Muggle lives, in which I myself find a great interest. It would be very useful to get a first-hand experience account in order to be able to tell something interest-inducing to my students on Monday, as they will be my first students ever." Riddle batted his lashes at Snape and severe Potions Master melted under the gaze. With a strange lightly tingling sensation and a small whisper at the back of his mind pushing at him and just shy of willing him to obey the unspoken order, Harry gaped at seeing Snape release the Cloak as if burnt by it and, turning on his heels, retire to his rooms at once.

"My-my, Mr. Potter, aren't I a lucky one?" Riddle murmured seductively. "It's only my first night here and already I met with you in such an intimate way, don't you agree? Join me in my rooms, will you?" The last bit was definitely not-so-veiled command. Riddle, too, turned away and, being absolutely sure, it seemed, that Harry will follow him, strode towards a door, which Harry hadn't noticed before. The door was located a little deeper into dungeons' corridor, almost opposite to the entrance of Snape's rooms.

Rolling his eyes, Harry followed suit.

"So, Harry, tell me, why is it, that you seem to see through my camouflage? It is, by the way, the very powerful glamor spell of my own invention and cast in Parseltongue for good measure. So no one should be able to get through it, not even Dumbledore or Snape should learn about my identity, even despite their ability for mind-reading as, I have you know, I am very skilled and powerful master of both Legilimency and Occlumency myself. So tell me, how it is possible, that mere boy, even you, could achieve that, which I thoroughly protected myself against?" Riddle, narrowing his eyes suspiciously, leaned forward, almost crawling into him, successfully pinning the boy to the wall beside the door they had just entered. He had not even bothered to close that door behind them.

Harry, refusing to be intimidated by the man with invisible, but very real to the touch breasts of impressive size, slithered under Riddle's hand like a snake, successfully escaping him for the moment, at least. He was surprised not to feel anything being this close to his nemesis. Before they needn't even touch for Harry to squirm and writhe on the floor with pain. But now it was almost as if the person in front of him was a mere human without the touch of insanity in red eyes and without the knack for torture and maiming as the favorite hobbies. Although, if Snape's pink robes and daisies in Hagrid's beard during breakfast was anything to go by, that last bit was not so true, with Riddle being his usual cruel self, if only for Harry to see.

"Better you tell me, how you've manged it all," Harry tried for intimidation himself, but to no effect. Riddle just scoffed indignantly and once again tried to pin him to the wall with his invisible breasts. "Oi, stop it already, will you! And what's with the name?" Once more slithering away, Harry was stepping away, untill he managed to put a low coffee-table between them, in the process accidentally getting himself cornered behind the said table.

"That's just random name from the top of my head. Pretty suitable for a 'Muggle-loving witch', don't you think, Harry?" Riddle raised an eyebrow suggestively. "As for how I 'managed it all', as you've put it, that should be no concern of yours. Right this minute, I suppose, you should be interested only in getting away alive, no?" Even while saying this Riddle tried for angelic expression, though Harry wasn't deceived.

"Shouldn't you be concerned about how to get away alive, Riddle?" Harry bravely took his wand out. "You remember what happened last time we dueled, I think. Are you sure it won't be repeated again?"

Riddle shook his head in disbelief.

"Hadn't you get it yet, Potter? I am not going to duel you." A quick flick of his hand later Harry's wand flew into his firm grip, leaving the Griffindor gaping in surprise. "That's wandless magic, Harry. Very advanced skill. Don't they teach you at least the basics here?" Another wave of his hand — and Harry was roughly yanked from his semi-safe position in the corner and brought right before Riddle. "I will eventually get everything from your mind, sweetheart, so do try not to resist and save yourself from suffering," Riddle purred almost in his ear, putting his right palm on Harry's hip for leverage and jerking him closer in the parody of embrace. One accidental gaze right into his eyes — and Harry was falling into deep fathomless darkness of the richly blue, hardly noticing the discomfort of the other's mind taking apart his own, bit by bit and thought by stray thought.

Harry gave a loud sob upon being released from the grasp of Riddle's mind. His head was throbbing with dull pain, which was slowly receding to the back of his mind. Harry blinked his eyes several times, trying to focus his vision: the person in front of him simultaneously had two faces, being both male and female at once, as if his right eye had been already seeing the mysterious Muggle Studies Professor, while his left eye had still been successfully piercing the complex glamour of the Dark Lord, seeing his true form. Harry gaped at that thought, suddenly realizing something, which he oversaw earlier. If this is really Voldemort, then surely he, Harry, should not see a somewhat older version of Tom Riddle from the diary — of sixteen year old and still pretty harmless handsome young man — with clear-blue, if a bit dark eyes of a normal human, a tad white-ish but still also very human skin, pale but totally not-snaky lips, with a mop of dark hair atop of it all, instead of bald skull-like style of Lord Voldemort. And yet, this man had certain Voldemort-ish air to him, which Harry could not put his finger upon, but still felt: undeniable presence, and power, and might, which he had usually felt whenever he faced the snake-like man haunting his nightmares and waking days.

"Well, that was certainly unexpected," drawled Riddle, still holding Harry around the waist with one hand, while firmly grasping his chin, lifting it upwards, so that they were looking each other in the eye.

Harry hardly managed to finish this thought though, when he felt something strange pulling him right into the eyes before him, but now he did not drawn in them, like the first time, but instead felt the familiar tug, like the one would feel when going into the memories inside the Pensive. Harry had only got to hear a very loud surprised intake of air, and then, all went black for a split second, before turning into a scene with a tint of sepia to its edges.

Harry saw a dark and somewhat familiar room with empty and cold hearth, dusty bookshelves and huge and uncomfortable-looking chair with high back, like one would expect of the royal throne, standing at the head of long and roughly made table, with other chairs along its sides, looking even less comfortable to sit upon. At first, it seemed for Harry, that the room was empty, but than he caught a glimpse of someone standing by the dirty window, looking out through only half transparent glass, covered in cobwebs and mold so thick, that it was surprising, that anybody could see anything on the outside.

A person by the window turned away from it, looking straight into Harry's eyes, but certainly not seeing anyone, as Harry was not from this memory. Nevertheless, the man had spoken, at last.

"I had tried everything, it seems, to end this stupid rivalry. Intimidation and fear had never worked on Griffindors, I should have realized that earlier. Cunning? Although they proud themselves as being from the House of Lion, their sneaky behaviour sometimes can put even Salazar himself to shame, never mind all this spies and mind-games, which the Old Fool is so fond of. Maybe the time had come when we, too, should resort to the methods of our opponents to successfully win this argument of wills? If they can be sneaky as Slytherins, why can we not be brave and brash like Griffs? What d'you think, my friend, should I peruse this tactics of Trojan horse brought to the enemy's lair? Muggles can be dense sometimes, but once in a while even they invent some useful warfare strategies. So, my dear Nagini, could you help me in successful infiltration of Dumbledore's troops?"

Finally the man had stepped to the side from the window, the dark contour of his face against the light from the unseen source outside becoming more detailed, allowing Harry to recognize him — Tom Riddle. Although, he still sported red snake-like slits for the eyes and his skin was ghostly white, almost translucent, with a purply-blue vein here and there, this Riddle was definitely more human, than Harry had seen him before — both, at the Department of Mysteries several months earlier, and in his nightmarish visions, when he was accidentally pulled into his mind by their strange connection, just a couple of weeks ago.

Right at the moment when Harry heard the all the too familiar hissing whisper of the giant snake in response to her Master's question, something forcefully pushed at him, brutally throwing him out of the scene, obscuring the vision and turning the sounds into incomprehensible slur.

Harry swayed on his feet, once again returning to the real world with a start, feeling nausea and pain slowly building behind his eyes, which he managed to close at some point. He was still held around the waist, firmly pushed to the other's chest, too close, for it to be comfortable. This time there was no feeling of invisible flesh between them, although Harry would have really appreciated it now if there were more of just anything between him and Riddle, or between him and anyone of male sex, at that matter, though the other male being his ultimate enemy had certainly added to the thrill. A lot.

Harry blushed furiously at the thought and at the feeling of warm hardness against his thigh, though it definitely was unexpected for Riddle himself, too, as he quickly pushed Harry away upon realizing what was happening. Scowling and with a low growl in his throat Riddle suddenly pushed Harry's wand into his hand, simultaneously pulling him to the still open door.

"Get out, you—" he barked. The door was shut in Harry's face, successfully cutting off anything Riddle had to say on the matter.

Harry gaped in surprise at the closed door, before hearing somebody's steps getting closer.

He managed to hid himself at the last moment, quickly covering his head and shoulders with the Cloak, which had still been in one of his hands even after all this time. He just barely managed to step away from the hidden door to Riddle's chambers and into the darker shadow, when a tall figure rounded the corner, turning into Dumbledore under the uncertain light of the moon from the nearest window. Harry bit on his fist to effectively shut himself, as he still hadn't completely overcome the excitement of the events, which had transpired during this past quarter of an hour. Although, unbeknownst to him, much more time had past from the moment he met Snape in the beginning of the night.