Title: On This Cross

Author: Shiny Ryuichi Sakuma

Pairings: Tom Riddle/ Harry Potter

Disclaimer: Not Mine

Notes: I've updated after years of being silent. I apologize profusely for my lack of updating. But I'm going to see this baby through to the end; of which, there will be three to five more chapters, depending. Please review, your devotion to this story has made me extremely happy and would love to see you all support this story once again. Thank you!

Chapter 25

All he could see were those Muggles. Every time that he closed his eyes, they were there. It shouldn't have bothered to the extremes that it did. Besides, this would have been his path had he taken it. That meant that the killer's desires still resided in him, didn't it? Voldemort had told him just as much. That he couldn't escape his natural affinity towards killing. Was he right? Was there no escaping his fate when it had been carved in stone? And that the proof of it was standing in front of him, a master of death, an immortal being that had accomplished the impossible. But it had felt wrong. It shouldn't have if he were already a damned soul.

"You should not go against the Dark Lord's orders," Snape's voice floated through the pitch black room. The light flaring from the tip of his wanted covered the room in shadows, partially obscuring the Death Eater's face from view. "He will make your life unbearable."

"Has he done that to you?" Tom asked, raising his head from his hands to look at Severus.

Snape's face remained impassive. "I hardly think that it's necessary to tell you tales about my connection to the Dark Lord. I'm the only one that you can trust here. And I know that trust doesn't come easy for you, Riddle. But Potter would have you believe in me."

Tom laughed, "From what I've heard you were the one to kill Albus Dumbledore. Harry hates you just as much as he hates Voldemort. How can you possibly say that Harry would want me to put my faith in you?"

"Perhaps one day the true story of that day will come to light," Severus sighed, looking years older then he actually was, "And everyone will understand my involvement in this War. But I did not come here to discuss this with you. Potter's awake."

"He is?" Tom asked, cursing his voice for betraying his eagerness.

"Yes. But we do not know how badly he's injured; physically or mentally. That is why you must fight this. I fear that the repercussions, should you be drawn to his side, will be vast. That, maybe, Potter's psyche could not handle such a shock and that it might deter him in his fight against the Dark Lord."

Easier said then done. "You can guarantee me that Harry's safe?" Snape nodded. "If I…express interest in learning Voldemort's plans for me…would that provide ample time for Harry to recover and for the Order to form some sort of operation against Voldemort?"

"You cannot do that. I will not allow it," Snape snapped, disliking the utter defeat in those green eyes of Tom's. "If you give up and let yourself be seduced by his promises then you will never be yourself again. I had thought that perhaps you were a bit more intelligent then that."

"What am I supposed to do?" Tom hissed, abruptly standing on his feet. "I'm not going to just stand by and watch him torture Muggles just so he can test me! Yes, months ago I would have been more then delighted to follow Voldemort and do his bidding. But after everything that's happened…I'm not the person I once was. It makes me sick to know that I killed innocents."

So this is the what goes in your mind, Severus thought, watching the inner struggle waging battle inside the young man. "And you feel that by becoming a devil, you're repenting for that sin? That you'll be forgiven?"

"You're not even listening to me. I'm doing this for Harry, for you, for everyone! If Voldemort's occupied with me then he'll have less time to-"

"Oh I understand, you bloody fool, but you're aren't exactly considering the outcome of this. What will Potter do when he discovers that his precious Tom Riddle's nothing but a mere puppet for the Dark Lord? When he makes the realization that he must fight you? That you hardly even remember your time together because your mind will be warped with nothing but visions of death and destruction?"

Tom turned his back on Snape, signaling that their conversation was finished. But before Severus could leave, he heard a wavering voice say to him, "I do not want my life to be taken by Harry. He would never forgive himself. Should it come to pass and I must eliminated…"

Severus frowned, "Yes, it will be taken care of," he answered Tom's unspoken question, wondering exactly what was going on in Tom's mind, exactly how those cogs were turning. There must be a method to your madness. If not, I do not think that God can even save us.

"You need to eat," the last person that Harry expected to baby him was doing so-albeit with a glare and snarl that covered the other wizard's genuine intentions. "You lost a lot of your strength, moron, while you were running across Germany," Draco Malfoy rolled his eyes. "That and Remus won't allow me to hide away in a room while the Weasley's come visit you."

"If you actually talked with them and got to know them, you might actually like them," Harry snapped, wrenching the bowl of porridge from Draco's hands forcefully. "Instead of being a self righteous bastard that thinks-"

"Potter, darling, I'm so glad to see you're back to your normal self," Draco smirked, "I was beginning to wonder if you'd actually lost what little was left of your mind."

"Why do you keep calling him by his first name?" Harry interrupted, glancing at the werewolf lost in conversation with Hermione. "He…he's not someone that you can just play with, Malfoy. He's like a father to me and I won't stand by and just let you fuck with him because it's entertaining to you."

"…You wouldn't understand the exact nature of our relationship. We're common souls, you know, blackened hearts that have turned their backs on the world. It would make for a best seller if I ever wrote it down," he cheerfully winked at Lupin, laughing as the older man turned a few shades of pink before looking away, "He's fun to tease."

"So you're…you're together, then?" Harry queried, already knowing the answer but dreading it nonetheless. Ever since he'd woken from his days of rest, ever since he'd seen... Harry shook his head, trying to shake that image from his head. Voldemort had used his mind against him once, he wouldn't let that happen again. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. If only he knew that Tom was safe, that he wasn't being used by that son of a bitch, that he…that he hadn't forgotten him.

"And then I bent him over your bed while you were sleep-Ah, finally paying attention huh?"

"You did what?" Harry dead-panned, looking at Malfoy like he'd grown another head.

"I was going to answer your question but you spaced out. What's going on? Is it about that vision you had?"

Harry nodded, sitting his bowl on the table beside him. "I know that he can't say no because then Voldemort would probably just kill him. I have an unsettling doubt in my heart that's telling me that Tom's in danger. Maybe not for his life. But for his soul."

"In the end, isn't that the last, great battle everyone faces?" Draco asked rhetorically, flopping down onto the bed, staring at the ceiling. "I wonder…is it too late to save my soul?"

"You're thoughtful insights are beginning to make me suspect that you've been Imperiused by Hermione," Harry scowled, throwing the blankets off of him as he stood. He stretched the kinks in his bed ridden muscles. "Draco, will you come with me? To save him?" Harry asked, tone completely serious, fierce determination hardening his face.

Draco rolled his eyes, "As if you even had to ask me. You only have to tell me when and I'll be with you. To the very end."

Harry ignored the sudden rush of affection he felt towards the blonde, once his better enemy, now a trusted ally. Someone, that a few months ago, he wouldn't have thought twice about attacking. "I think I'm going to reason with the Order. I know that I can't do this alone."

"I hate to put a damper on your plans, Harry, but I don't think the Order's going to listen to you," Hermione said, smiling apologetically at her eavesdropping, "Apparently Remus has already tried to reason with them but they aren't interested in what he has to say."

Draco shook his head in disbelief, "Do those morons not realize that instead of one Dark Lord, there's the possibility of two? Look, I know that we don't want to think about Tom being seduced by Voldemort's promises of power but we can't turn a blind eye to it either. There's a chance that when we go to fight, Tom might be against us. And the longer we wait, the higher that chance. I say we just fuck the goddamned Order, assemble an elite task force, and take those bastards out ourselves."

"I can't believe I'm about to say this. But I agree with Draco," Hermione said, sighing, "We can't procrastinate on the issue. I'm sure that we could form a group to travel to Germany. The Death Eater's might outnumber us but I'm confident that we can overpower them."

"Then it's agreed. We leave at dawn. One of us will have to stay behind in order to contact our friends, to make sure that we're all assembled together. We'll make a port key, leaving one half of with whichever one of us remains here."

"I'm going," Draco imputed stubbornly, jaw set in defiance, "I know spells that even you don't know, Hermione."

"Ha, I doubt that," Hermione tossed her hair behind her shoulders, "I'll have you know that-"

"I'll stay," Remus's voice interrupted the beginnings of the argument, lithe frame leaning against the doorway, "I have connections that you don't. I swear, in a couple of days, you'll have an army. We'll save him, Harry. And end this war once and for all."

"Remus, I don't want you coming. You stay here. I'm not-" Draco protested, mouth covered by the werewolf's hand, muffling his words. Draco shot the older man a dangerous glare.

"I'm not meek or submissive. I can hold my own. Something, I think that you should remember."

Draco smiled wryly, "I can't stop being so over protective of you."

"Wow, you two are nauseatingly sweet," Harry made a face, "I'd much rather not imagine my father figure and ex rival bumping uglies. Back to the subject," he pointedly glowered at Draco and Remus, "It's decided that that Remus and those he can manage to convince to fight with us, will join us Friday. That gives us two days to reach the Black Forest."

"I can Apparate us as far as Berlin but we'll still have to cover a few hundred miles by foot," Hermione said, "We can use bottomless bags to pack everything we'll need."

"You think of everything, don't you?" Draco laughed.

Hermione ignored the blush mantling her cheeks, "Well someone has to."

Harry glanced at Remus, Draco, and Hermione; they'd become the closest thing to a family that he'd ever known. Funny, how war had the ability to form bonds so strong that nothing could shake them. One day, would they look back on these times of hardship? Reminisce about the ones that were lost? Would they tell their children about the hero's and the villain's? That is, if they survived.

"Why so sad, little boy blue?" Remus draped an arm across Harry's shoulders, pulling him into an embrace. "We'll make this happen, Harry. All of us are here for you. And here for Tom."

"Thank you," he meant it, hoping that the sincerity was in his voice. He couldn't imagine having to do this alone. Harry thought of Tom, knowing that Tom was by himself, odds stacked heavily against him. Tom usually held all the right cards but Harry wondered if Tom's luck was ending. And if Tom was dead, well, Voldemort would be unrecognizable when Harry was finished with him, regardless if they both died.

Tom's back slammed against the ground with a resounding crack that knocked the air from lungs. "If you disobey me again, I'll leave your body for the vultures!" Voldemort snarled, betraying a strength that should've been absent for a man of his age. At least, if he was a man, a mere mortal. Tom rose to his feet, ignoring the way his knees were shaking, the way his ribs were protesting any movement. He knew several were broken, could feel them against his skin.

"Wouldn't that do more harm then good? Essentially, you're me," Tom snapped, brushing the dirt from his shirt, making himself seem more in charge then he actually was. He knew he didn't have the upper hand in this situation, that a fight between them wouldn't bode well for him. "Which means, if I die… you die."

Voldemort's grip on his wand lightened, eyes narrowing at Tom, "I can't die. I'm immortal. You should know that. Come on, Tom, you can't fool me. This game you're playing? You won't succeed."

Tom tutted, "I'm merely saving my own ass. Unfortunately for you, the laws of nature are against you. Not even you can escape it. By coming here, I've ripped a hole in the dimensions of time. Which means, that yes, if I die here, then you don't exist."

Voldemort hissed, wand slipping into the sleeve of his robe, "Go against my wishes again, boy, and we'll put your theory to the test. Severus, I want him bound. With no food or water. We'll see how long it takes to break his spirit."

"Yes, my lord," Severus said, but Voldemort had already disappeared. "I suppose it only stands to reason that the only one with the capabilities to get inside Voldemort's head, would be Voldemort himself. What you're doing is dangerous, Tom."

"You think I don't know that?" Tom scowled, Severus clamping his hands together with shackles, the bindings numbing his magic, "I'm buying myself time. Something, I don't think I have much of."

"You've lost weight," Severus' onyx eyes roamed Tom's body, the tattered clothes hanging limply off his frame, "You don't eat. You barely touch the water I bring you, mind you, at my own expense. I can't help if you aren't wanting to help yourself."

"Look, I'm not sure what's going to happen. Honestly, I don't know two shits about dimensional distortions. But I'm willing to bet that if I die, Voldemort dies. I don't see how the both of us have been able to exist simultaneously."

"Because he's not you. Not anymore. When he split his soul into those seven Horcruxes, he…" Severus shook his head, "You've sensed it. That's what your future would have been. How could you ever have been so stupid, Tom? Why'd you do that to yourself? Even… Back when he was recruiting twenty years ago, he was still human."

One of Tom's brows arched, surprised to see sadness in Snape's eyes. He was in love with him. The revelation was one that shocked Tom. Voldemort wasn't capable of anything akin to love or compassion. This monster didn't have the capacity to feel, let alone be affectionate. "That's why you stay," Tom stated, "As much as you hate him, you love him."

Severus glared darkly at Tom, "You don't know what you're talking about."

"Perhaps not but your fealty to Voldemort can't stem from fear. I don't think you're afraid to die. I'd say you've had your soul prepared for years. So if it's not fear, then what else could possibly make you remain here?"

"I was young. Childish. Immature. I was lured in like so many others by his charm. I became his prodigy. He was the first one to pay attention to me, that showed that he cared." Severus sighed, "It was too late that I realized I was only a puppet. I don't need your pity, Tom. And this conversation goes nowhere, do you understand? I don't even want Potter to know."

"I swear."

That night, Tom gratefully accepted the bland oatmeal and tasteless flatbread from Severus, latching onto the hope that he'd made himself not only an ally, but a friend. That even in the darkest of times, the light still managed to shine.

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