THIS IS REAL - oneshot

Tags: FLUFF, Angst, Pining, Tom/Voldemort's POV

So I saw this prompt on Tumblr AGES ago and so decided to write it. Why? Why am I writing this when I have like 200,000 words to get through for my other fic? Whyy?

I hope you enjoy it :)

He hadn't expected Potter's reaction; it was as if he'd seen a ghost. Voldemort glanced down at himself, only to affirm what he already knew. He looked every bit the handsome Slytherin heir that Tom Riddle had been at age sixteen. Of course, Potter didn't know this. Potter should have been honoured to have such an obviously significant individual talk to him, let alone look at him.

Voldemort's pride felt a little wounded.

He ignored this. He smiled the way he remembered, the coy twitch of the lips Voldemort had been so familiar with as a teenager.

"Hello," he said. "I'm Tom. Tom Gaunt. Pleased to make your acquaintance."

He saw Harry swallow, still a ghostly white. "Hi," the boy croaked. "I'm sorry… you look like someone I once knew. You gave me quite the scare." Harry attempted a wry smile. It looked more a grimace than anything else.

Voldemort bit back a sudden fear. Surely the boy hadn't recognized him? He'd used a complicated set of enchantments on this form, making it so that no one who had actually known him at sixteen would recognize him. So why did Harry Potter look so very… disturbed?

It mattered not. Voldemort easily managed to become Potter's potions partner for the next class, softly giving tips and pointers. If he remained at this distance, Voldemort knew, Potter would soon collapse and come to him.

And it did work. Just… slowly. The boy's tension was not helped any by Severus, the scoundrel, who was doing his very best to make Potter miserable. Which would have been fine, even wonderful any other day, but now, when Voldemort was so very carefully trying to get into Potter's good graces… It was irritating. He saw something flash in Potter's bright, green eyes, something dark and empty, at another of the Professor's disparaging comments. Voldemort glared. Really, there was no possible way he could charm the boy in this state. What was Severus even achieving with this?

At the end of the class, Voldemort raced after Potter, trapping him in the corridor as his annoying friends looked back warily.

"I'm so sorry about Professor Snape," he babbled, pasting on an apprehensive expression. "As a Slytherin, I feel almost… embarrassed. I'm new here, so I didn't realize how bad the house rivalry was. No wonder you were uncomfortable when I introduced myself before." A small smile, eyes upturned hopefully.

Ah yes. Voldemort had always been good at charming people.

And then it was. Potter was smiling uncertainly back at him. But Voldemort was surprised at how lonely it looked on the boy's face. He promptly crushed the thought.

"That's quite alright," Potter responded. "I'm used to it. He's always been like that; my dad was really cruel to him back at school…." At this the boy looked away, seemingly deep in thought. "I can understand it."

Well. That was a little surprising. He knew that Potter was supposed to be 'good' and everything, but he'd never quite been able to part with his image of the brash, immature Gryffindor he remembered at age eleven. Voldemort hadn't been prepared for the boy's forgiving nature.

"I see," he said, almost stiffly before remembering himself. "Still, I doubt you got much done in that atmosphere. I can help you out if you want. I take very good Potions notes." Voldemort shifted his head to the side slightly with a subtle smirk, still staring at Potter; he knew that this angle brought out his high cheekbones. Beauty was so helpful in getting what he wanted. For a moment, Voldemort wondered why he hadn't used it for so long.

Oh, that's right. The Cruciatus Curse was much more fun.

Not that this wasn't entertaining however. He was unprepared for Potter's bright smile. "Really? That would be wonderful. Are you free after dinner? I'll meet you in the library.

He nodded absently, dimly aware of his open mouth, blinded by the Potter boy's shining green eyes. Dammit.

As he waited in the library for Potter, Voldemort relooked at his plan. He had to charm Potter, and become privy to the Order's Plans. He trusted no one but himself in this. Who else had the skills of the Great Lord Voldemort?

The said boy arrived, smiling at him. But this time, he refused to react to the expression, getting out his class notes and handing them over.

"Thank you so much for this," Potter said as he took the notes. "I really appreciate it." Again, that smile.

Voldemort nodded, looking down at the table. "It's perfectly fine, I assure you. Now, I looked at your potion, I hope you don't mind, during class today, and I think you added too much flaxweed. That unbalances the potion, turning it into a solvent. At least, that would have occurred if your other measurements for the Salamander blood were correct. Three ounces, yes? Any less, and it would have-" Voldemort continued to speak, and when an hour had passed, was suddenly made aware of the fact that there was nothing whatsoever to talk about. He'd finished speaking about Potions, and was quite unexpectedly tongue-tied.

He should have practiced in the mirror more.

"Wow. You must be a potions genius. You'd give Hermione a run for her money, I bet," Potter exclaimed.

Voldemort felt himself smirk, glancing at Potter's face out of the corner of his eye. Perhaps the mirror work was unnecessary then. "I do enjoy a good brewing, yes. But thank you for the compliment." Modesty, and confidence. Who would refuse that?

He latched onto something to say. "Still, Professor Snape shouldn't be treating you like that because of your father. You're your own person." He heard Potter's intake of breath. Ah, struck gold.

"It's… more than that," Potter admitted to him. "He was in love with my mum, but she chose my dad over him. The one man he hated most of all, the one woman whom he most adored… Whenever he looks at me, he sees that betrayal. I look just like him, you know, my dad. Except I have my mother's eyes. It must hurt every time he looks at me; no wonder he can't bear the sight of me."

Voldemort thought dimly that Lily Potter's eyes were extraordinarily lovely. He remembered how they had looked as he killed her.

"You are very aware," he replied. "It is… difficult to look past your hatred for someone, and see what motivates them. To understand the one who burns you is… difficult."

Potter didn't respond in that moment. He glanced down at the library desk, littered with pages of potions work, unseeingly. But then, finally, he glanced back up at him, eyes bright and lonely. "You have a way with words, Tom. Really. I do appreciate you listening to me rant about my life."

Voldemort meanwhile, had gone still. No one had called him Tom in… well, it was decades, wasn't it? The name surely didn't fit him anymore. He had grown beyond it, snatched at power, and now had been rebirthed as Lord Voldemort, the Dark Lord. Immortality in his grasp. But now, hearing that name on Potter's lips… it sent him back, so very far back, and he suddenly remembered being a boy again, the weight of both past and present on his shoulders, the feeling of being so very, very alone.

"Tom?" he heard again, and glanced up, heart beating loudly in his ears, to see Potter's concerned expression.

"I'll listen any time," he managed. His face felt strange and wooden, it was difficult to meld it into a smile. "Harry."

Potter's answering smile made it a little easier.

Over the next week, he met Harry frequently in the library. They did their potions homework together, read each other's essays. All in all, it was more socializing than Voldemort had ever done in his schooldays. With anyone.

But Voldemort was also wondering about the actions of Dumbledore, and his annoying organization of chickens. So far Harry had let nothing slip and although he wasn't impatient, he sometimes feared the teen knew nothing. And that meant all of this, all of it, was all for nothing.

Still. Harry's company wasn't too bad. The boy didn't pry, and was relatively bright, plus quick to smile. Voldemort had been surprised at how easy the boy found it to laugh at himself. From the Savior of the Wizarding World… he'd expected more pride perhaps. More arrogant bluster. Yet Harry never boasted about his successes, and Voldemort knew, much to his chagrin, that there were quite a lot of them. In fact… Harry seemed more apt to put himself down. Often at these times, a faint haunted look would appear in his eyes, before he'd laugh and change the subject.

Voldemort was not stupid; he was a genius. He knew that he probably had something to do with these expressions. Survivor's guilt probably, and all the rest of it. It was expected from the Savior. And in a way, it was nice to have this much influence over someone. But… although he hardly admitted it to himself, could barely even allow the thought….

He didn't like that haunted expression. Voldemort preferred Harry's eyes brighter than empty.

Not that Voldemort knew this of course.

In an attempt to better facilitate friendship, Voldemort had chosen the same subjects as Harry, and as such, they were partnered in almost everything. Harry wasn't suspicious it seemed, but there were times when he caught Harry staring at him, a strange look in his eyes. As if he didn't know what to make of him. But that was all right, he supposed. Voldemort didn't quite know what to make of Harry.

He was soon forced to meet the bloodtraitor and mudblood; It came with the territory. And hadn't that encounter been… unpleasant. They'd been working in the library when the two appeared. The girl had beamed at him so very brightly, Voldemort had thought he'd catch a disease. He'd glanced at Harry who was looking bemusedly at her.

"This is Tom Gaunt, Hermione, Ron. He's been helping me out in Potions."

"A pleasure," Tom smiled widely, showing his teeth. It was anything but.

"I'm Hermione Granger," the mudblood introduced herself. "I'm so glad that you've been helping Harry. It's so much better in Potions with you there." Voldemort wondered if Harry would mind if he cast a silencio on her. Judging from the small twitching of his lips at the exchange, probably.

Voldemort looked at the freckled whelp Weasley then. The boy was staring at Granger rather dreamily.

Well. That was rather disgusting. But it explained why Harry was so prepared to spend time with him, so it was tolerable.

"Yeah, nice to meet you," the boy shook Voldemort's hand.

Voldemort removed his hand, and subtly wiped it on his robe, smirking. "Yes, I'm sure. Harry's told me much about you." Which was the truth. Voldemort had not been pleased with the amount of conversation that included Harry's immediate friendships. It made him feel tetchy. Yes. The perfect word to describe it.

Weasley had then gone to the Gryffindor tower to go be childish with the other Gryffindors, but Granger unfortunately remained to with work on Charms with them.

It made Voldemort feel caged, the genius he was; going to school was pure torture. But Harry managed to sooth the wound a little. Voldemort had subtly taken the role of tutor in their sessions, and had found it much more stimulating. But the mudblood… She was annoying. The girl was moderately intelligent, but treated Harry as if he were a small child! Voldemort had to struggle not to glare at her, not sure if he succeeded. Harry occasionally glanced at him with an amused look in his green eyes.

So of course he spent the session casually showing Granger up without seeming to. He'd show Harry who was superior. Then he'd realize how annoying the girl was, cast her (and the Weasley) aside and spend time only with him.

The plan suited Voldemort just fine. Then he'd have Harry all to himself, until the boy trusted him completely. Then he'd have the boy's secrets.

Voldemort looked at Harry's face, slightly shadowed in the dim library lighting. But those eyes were as bright as he'd ever seen them.

Yes. That plan suited him just fine.

Nothing much occurred in the next few weeks. Voldemort ingratiated himself ever further into Harry's trust, subtly taking more and more of his time away from his fellow Gryffindors. Although Voldemort occasionally worried about the lost opportunities for muggle raids and torturing Wormtail, his concerns seemed to slowly vanish as time went on. Indeed, Voldemort was reminded constantly of how enjoyable Harry's company was. Which was foolish. Mind-blowingly foolish. The boy would soon die, and then… well. He'd be dead. There was no point in enjoying Hrry's company.

But he looked forward to Harry's death less and less every day.

One evening, Voldemort met with Harry after dinner on a Friday as usual, and was surprised to see Harry looking drawn and tired. The boy normally had boundless energy that was only broken by occasional reflective silences. Yet this… this was different.

"What's the matter?" he asked immediately, standing up from the library desk he'd been sitting at.

Harry smiled faintly at his concern, but it didn't hide the deep bags under his eyes. "Oh, nothing too drastic Tom," he replied, slipping into the seat opposite him. As usual, Voldemort started a little at the name 'Tom'. He'd never quite got used to Harry calling him by his former name. Even now, everyone else at the school called him 'Gaunt'.

He returned to his seat slowly, watching Harry carefully. "Are you sure?" he asked. "You know you can tell me anything. I'm your friend, Harry."

Harry chuckled, yet the sound was dry and sour. "I know Tom. But really, I've just had a long day. I'm fine."

Voldemort felt almost offended at Harry's disregard for his concern. The Dark Lord did not ask of one's wellbeing too often after all. Obviously, Harry didn't trust him enough. The thought made him clench his jaw tightly.

The rest of the evening was slightly stilted, but Voldemort was still not desirous of leaving when they'd finished all their work. They fell into an awkward silence, neither wanting to leave, but not knowing what to say to continue the conversation.

Maybe mirror work was required.

Suddenly Harry said to him, "Do you want to go on a walk? I'm not too anxious to sleep yet."

Voldemort glanced at him, surprised but pleased. "Now? I'd be happy to, but my only worry is Filch."

Harry grinned wickedly, the sight making Voldemort swallow. "Don't worry about that. I have just the thing. Let's return our books to our dormitory, and I'll met you at the entrance to the Slytherin Common Room."

Voldemort raised an eyebrow. "You know where the Slytherin Common Room is?"

Harry smirked at him. The expression was… very aesthetically pleasing on him. Voldemort stood quickly, picking up his books. "I'll see you very soon then," he said, clearing his suddenly dry throat. He returned to the dungeon floor, the image of Harry's smile never leaving him.

He'd only been waiting at the common room entrance for several minutes when Harry's head appeared in front of him, making him squeak in surprise.

How embarrassing. A Dark Lord didn't squeak. Neither were they supposed to blush.

"Come on," Harry said, and a disembodied hand grabbed Voldemort's upper arm, dragging him closer.

Staring at the castle walls through the folds of an Invisibility Cloak was a new experience for Voldemort.

"This is a very good cloak," he murmured to Harry. The entire left side of his body, the side pressed against Harry, was beginning to warm up.

"Yes I know," said Harry. "It was my dad's. A Potter heirloom this. Dumbledore gave it to me. My dad would've given it to me himself but… you know."

Voldemort did know. His mouth went dry.

Harry stopped suddenly, bringing their slow ambling to a halt. He had turned and grabbed Voldemort's hand with his own warm ones; Voldemort thought they would practically burn through his skin, they were so warm.

"Merlin," whispered Harry, who was uncomfortably close now. "Your hands are freezing, Tom. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have dragged you out at this hour."

Voldemort gulped, feeling slightly claustrophobic. Harry's entire body was pressed against his side, and his eyes, which were too bloody green for Salazar's sake, were staring searchingly into his own. Which, Voldemort then realized, weren't his own. His own eyes were red, a shocking scarlet, with slitted pupils like a snake's. And his hands... Of course they would be icy cold next to Harry's very human warmth. Voldemort was almost cold blooded by now.

He took a step back abruptly, and immediately missed the contact. He took a deep breath.

Harry was looking at him with furrowed brows. "Tom?"

"Harry." Voldemort started, feeling very small and angry with himself. "What do you… what do you think about him?"

By Salazar, why was he doing this? What was wrong with him! He didn't need to know this.

"About whom?" If anything Harry looked more worried. And of course, he should be worried, Voldemort yelled at himself. He was acting bloody insane.

"Him. He Who Must Not Be Named."

Harry's face seemed to pale at the question, and his eyes widened, face turning stiff and wooden. Voldemort cursed himself and felt rather abjectly terrified.

"Why do you ask?" Harry's tone was too casual, too flat.

"You must despise him, surely," he responded.

Harry turned away, looking at the grey stone walls of the castle corridor. The dim light cast flickers of golden onto his face, his eyes in shadow, and Voldemort was floored at how beautiful he looked.

"You know… I really should," Harry stated then, still not looking at him. "I do in a way. I hate how much pain he's caused. How many families have been ruined for the selfish desires of just one man."

Voldemort stood very, very still.

"But… you know, I was raised by muggles, right? Just like him. And just like him, I didn't receive any love or care. The Dursleys hated magic. They tried to stamp it out of me. And I can remember, staring at the cobwebs on the ceiling of my little cupboard, hating them, and wishing they would all just disappear, so that they couldn't call me a freak anymore. And I think about Voldemort, who was once just a kid too, abused my muggles for being amazing, for having magic, and I can't hate him. I really can't." Harry smiled at him then, a caring smile that reached right up into his eyes, which were too dizzyingly bright. "I just… I just want to go save that young Tom Riddle from the world. It's just as evil, it seems to me."

How does he know? Voldemort wondered dazedly. How?

"Tom… Riddle?" He managed through barely parted lips.

Harry grinned at him again, too frighteningly lovely for words. "That's Voldemort's real name, you know. He made an anagram of it, Tom Marvalo Riddle, as a teenager. He told me himself when I was in second year."

Voldemort gaped at him. "He told you himself?"

"Not Voldemort," Harry said quietly, now looking away. "A shadow of himself. The memory of Tom Riddle, trapped in a diary for fifty years."

Voldemort felt himself beginning to pale.

"You know," said Harry conversationally. "The name Marvalo comes from his mother's brother, from the Gaunt family. Descendants of Slytherin actually, but all gone mad. So I have to ask, Tom. Did you really think that was subtle enough? I mean Tom Gaunt? Seriously? You must have thought it was hilarious. I had a few laughs myself, after the shock wore off."

"You know," whispered Voldemort, lips closed. He couldn't move, couldn't breathe. "The whole time, you knew."

Harry looked at him, then. "I recognized you, Tom Riddle. Dumbledore didn't. McGonagall didn't, but I did. So did Ginny actually."

"The Weasley's sister?" asked Voldemort now, gaping in disbelief.

"Yep. The diary possessed her before I destroyed it. She knew it very well. Much better than I did."

Voldemort's thoughts were now racing at a million miles a minute, but he still didn't move. He was frozen in a strange world, staring at a Harry Potter who knew everything at him, had known from the start, everything he had wished to hide away.

"I'm sure you cast some wicked spell so that no one could recognize you. But we never actually knew you so…" he shrugged, almost light-heartedly. "What I don't understand is why. I assumed you wanted Order secrets or whatnot, but you should know by now that I know nothing."

Finally Voldemort said something. "Why are you telling me this?"

A strange expression crossed Harry's face, so briefly he almost missed it. "I didn't understand," he answered after a moment. "I still don't. You could just kill me. You've had plenty of chances. And… you've been so kind to me. Really. I know it was all just acting but…" Harry turned back to the wall, his face pained. "I've never actually been able to talk to someone. I mean, my friends listen to me because they care about the emotional health of the Boy Who Lived. But you're the Dark Lord. You don't care. But I'm sure you actually understand a lot of what I say to you. But maybe that's just acting too." Harry turned back to face him. "It's your turn now. Kill me if you want. Answer my questions. I honestly don't mind. Just don't… Don't hurt anyone."

Voldemort stared at the exquisite boy in front of him, who had seen right through him, who had actually wanted to save him from the world, and knew that despite everything, he could never harm him.

"I won't kill you," he echoed. "I swear it. But… I can't answer your questions." Not when I don't understand myself.

Harry nodded, looking away. "I should go," he said "I'll walk you back so Mrs Norris doesn't catch you."

Despite the fact he knew. Despite the fact they both knew. Voldemort could easily get back to the Slytherin Common Room unseen; he was the Dark Lord for goodness sake. But Harry escorted him under the cloak regardless. They walked in silence, much like before, and just like before, Voldemort feared that he'd burst into flames with how warm Harry was.

Finally, they arrived and Voldemort stepped out from under the cloak. He was left with a sudden fear that Harry would ever speak to him again, but of course, when he looked back, he could not see anyone. He heard a softly murmured "Goodnight Tom," and he knew he was alone.

Voldemort didn't sleep. He leaned against the castle wall, heedless of the school rules, and sunk to the ground, bone-weary. Harry's visage refused to leave him, his words on replay. "I just want to save that young Tom Riddle from the world. It's just as evil, it seems to me."

"But not you," he murmured into the darkness. "Not you, Harry." You're perfect.

He pictured dizzying green eyes and pink cheeks, that white shining smile. He didn't know anything anymore.

At breakfast the next day, Voldemort sat on the side facing the Gryffindor table. Nobody spoke to him. Voldemort, or really, Tom Gaunt, had become something of an outcast in Slytherin House. He was friends with Potter after all. Voldemort wondered how they'd react if they knew the truth. The truth didn't cheer him up as much as it usually did.

Harry and his friends hadn't arrived yet. The expectation of it caused nerves to flutter in Voldemort's stomach. He was impatient for it. These various feelings were unfamiliar to the Dark Lord; he couldn't so much as eat. He glanced moodily at the gleaming plate in front of him. Tom Riddle's blurred countenance gazed back. Voldemort looked at himself for a time. He was conscious of a twisting, burning pain inside him. He recognized it quite distinctly. It had been very familiar to Tom Riddle as a boy.


Voldemort, at that moment, could not recall a time when he had hated himself as much as he did then.

He was startled from his reverie when a familiar voice called out. "Tom!"

Voldemort jumped a mile from his seat, causing the Slytherins near him to snigger. Not that he paid any attention to them. He was gazing at Harry Potter, whose hair was even messier today than it normally was. The teen was walking towards the Slytherin table, looking expectantly up at him.

"Harry?" asked Voldemort, disbelievingly. He glanced at the Slytherins beside him, who was glaring at the Chosen One threateningly. He ignored the urge inside him, the one that wanted to protect Harry from their glares and cut them all up into millions of little pieces. He rose, and walked around the long table to meet Harry in between the Ravenclaws and the Slytherins. He couldn't seem to speak, so he only gestured wordlessly to the entrance to the Great Hall.

Voldemort felt entirely too aware of Harry. He could hear every footstep, every breath, could not prevent himself from glancing at the boy repeatedly. His robes had been thrown on haphazardly, as if in a rush, his hair too seemed to defy gravity in its every lock.

Voldemort had the sudden urge to touch it. At the realization of this, he had the sudden urge to strangle himself.

What are you doing? He hissed at himself mentally. You're being an idiot! This is Harry Potter! Don't you remember who that is?

They came to a stop outside an unused classroom. "Tom," Harry said. He turned to him at once. "Tom, how are you?"

The Tom-in-question stared at Harry in disbelief. "What?" he asked

Harry ran a hand through his messy hair. Voldemort tried not to feel so envious of the hand. Merlin, he wanted to touch so much.

"I imagine you were rather shocked last night. I was really worried about you, you know," the teen said, eyes wide and just as worried as he said.

Voldemort blinked, wondering if this was actually happening. "Do you even remember who I am?" I am the Dark Lord, he said to himself. I am Lord Voldemort.

Harry looked downcast for a moment, and the expression made Voldemort's heart squeeze. "Yes, I know. I know. But…" at this Harry looked even more uncomfortable. "You're my friend. Even if it was all a lie. Even if you dream about murdering me in my sleep. I can't… I can't just give that up, you know?"

Voldemort's heart was starting to beat uncontrollably fast. He simply couldn't comprehend the situation. "I won't kill you," is what he said. "And it wasn't."

Harry glanced up at him questioningly.

"It wasn't a lie."

Harry's answering smile made his mouth dry up. "I'm very glad to hear it."

Over the next few weeks, they spent just as much time together. Harry didn't mention his true self again, and Voldemort had to continually remind himself that this was all real.

This is real, he told himself, when Harry smiled at him in Transfiguration. This is real, he said again, when Harry spent time with him instead of his Gryffindor friends. This is real, he told himself when Harry's shoulder brushed his in the hallway, and he had to look at the floor to hide how much it affected him.

He was sitting in the front of the common room fireplace, replaying a conversation with Harry, when a hand tapped his shoulder. Voldemort turned with surprise to see that it was Pansy Parkinson.

"Gaunt," she greeted him. "Voldemort only waited for her purpose. "I've come to represent the Slytherin House." He furrowed an eyebrow, realizing that everyone was watching them from the corner of their eyes.

Voldemort turned back to the girl, keeping his face smooth. "Yes?"

Hesitation flickered on her face only for a moment. "We don't approve of your choice. I mean, Potter? Really?" Disgust floated on her features for a second. "But, if you're really so inclined, we'd all much rather you get it over with. Perhaps this might even raise our reputation."

Voldemort's face twisted in confusion. "I'm sorry but… what?"

Pansy rolled her eyes. "You know. Your infatuation with him. Act on it. Make him your boyfriend. Snog him, screw him. I don't care. Just hurry up and make it public. Your mooning at the breakfast table is driving us all insane."

There was a brief silence in which Voldemort wondered what would occur if he revealed himself as the Dark Lord. This thought passed, and he next wished to kill himself. Perhaps jump off the Astronomy Tower. He'd need to destroy his horcruxes though.

No, that wouldn't work. He didn't want to die. Harry was still alive.

"Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom," he finally replied, voice sounding tinny and strange to his ears. Staring into the crackling fire, he wasn't surprised to feel the burning feeling reappear within him again. It made its appearance regularly since Harry had confronted him.

He avoided Harry the next morning, and only snagged an apple from the kitchens before hiding in an empty classroom. Voldemort stared sightlessly through a window at the castle grounds; it wasn't to last long however. Within half an hour he heard footsteps, and turned to see the Chosen One standing at the doorway, his face concerned. The expression made Voldemort's heart ache, but it seemed everything Harry did lately achieved that same result.

"Tom? You weren't at breakfast," Harry began. Voldemort avoided looking at him. "Tom?" Harry moved closer to him, but he still looked at the floor, at the wall, through the window. Anything but Harry. The teen scooted even closer, close enough that Voldemort could feel his warm breath on his cheek. It tickled.

"Tell me what's wrong?" Harry murmured to him, intimately, and Voldemort had to close his eyes at the sudden yearning that flowed through him. "Tom?" A hint of alarm now in that voice. Voldemort looked up then, at the most gorgeous person in the universe he was quite sure, and despised himself.

At last he responded. "I am very angry."

Harry's brow furrowed. "At whom?"

Voldemort chuckled. "Only myself." The laugh was bitter and cold.

If anything, Harry looked more alarmed, and his face was still too bloody close. He looked at the wide green eyes, felt their breaths mingle, and suddenly couldn't do anything. He pounced.

There was a muffled gasp of surprise from Harry, but Voldemort ignored it, threading his fingers through Harry's silky hair finally and devouring him. The thick locks were even softer than he'd imagined, and the taste… Merlin, Harry tasted of sweetness and vanilla and everything he'd ever wanted.

He felt his hands slip down Harry's head to his shoulders, and felt his stomach flip as he felt Harry's tongue touch his own uncertainly. He almost moaned at the dizzying pleasure, couldn't bear to pull back to breathe. But he did for Harry, his heart beating so rapidly he wondered if it could be heard.

Harry's eyes were wide, pupils dilated, cheeks a gorgeous rosy pink. Voldemort could barely stop himself from attacking Harry's lips again with similar fervor. It was everything he'd imagined, everything he'd dreamed about and yet…

Harry was motionless, standing stiffly in Voldemort's arms like a statue. He turned to ice.

Voldemort stood back abruptly, only to see Harry's shocked face, eyes wide, jaw dropped, cheeks still pink.

"I'm sorry," he gasped, still breathless. But the world was slowly righting itself and coming back into focus, and with every passing second he hated himself even more. "Forgive me. Please," he attempted. "You were just so close I…"

Voldemort had to close his eyes with the sudden humiliation, the pain of his unrequited affection, the intense desire to both embrace Harry and to sink into the floor.

"Tom," a surprised exhale, very faint. It was only then that Voldemort realized that Harry had stopped breathing. "Tom, do you care for me?" An incredulous tone, Harry asked almost disbelievingly. As if he didn't know.

It made Voldemort want to lash out. He took a deep breath. "How can you not know?" He glanced at the floor, unseeingly. "Can't you see how I… how I… crave your attention? Your… your touch? You… how can you not know?"

He felt more than heard Harry's sudden intake of breath. Voldemort stiffened then, as he felt a soft touch on his head, threading slowly through his hair.

This is real, he told himself. This is real.

"I can't believe this is real," he heard Harry whisper. He glanced up, to see Harry's face lit with awe and wonder. As if he couldn't believe that this was reality. As if he was afraid it would vanish with every passing second.

Voldemort recognized it easily. It's how he felt.

Harry laughed then, a small thing, but… it filled his chest until he felt he would burst. "I never imagined," he whispered, "that you would feel the same as me."

Voldemort felt his eyes widen, felt his jaw drop slightly. Something in his stomach dropped, and filled with butterflies and "What?"

A small, intimate smile that struck him like a hammer on the head. "You're the Dark Lord. He Who Must Not Be Named. How could… How could you ever actually… feel the same? It was impossible, I thought. You were probably dreaming about killing me whereas I…" Harry's cheeks flushed a violent red.

Voldemort, so slowly, brought his hand up to stroke Harry's right cheek. "Never."

This is real, he told himself. This is real.

He couldn't believe it. But he wanted to.