A thoroughly impossible freak accident transports our favorite
attractive psychopath forward in time from 1942 to 1996. Harry
Potter/Tom Riddle slash. This chapter and the next will serve
primarily as introductory material.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, Tom Riddle, or any other people, places or objects that may appear in this humble work of fiction.
Warnings: Possible spoilers up to the fifth book. M/M, obviously. Rating is down as T for now but may, possibly, increase to M as things progress.
Author's Note: My goal is to keep this as in character as possible. I appreciate any feedback, especially if you think I've got characters – particularly Harry and Tom – acting in blatantly ridiculous ways. Reviews are appreciated, especially critical ones.
Chapter One: And Never the Twain Shall Meet
Harry had never thought he would ever want to go back to 4 Privet Drive instead of live in a place where Ron and members of the Order took up residence, but the place he was led to, five minutes past midnight on his birthday, made him think differently. The constriction he felt in his throat the moment he saw 12 Grimmauld Place again did not let up the slightest bit for days afterwards. Even with Ron there – Hermione was on holiday with her parents in Spain – he felt mostly sick every morning when he woke up.
He had thought that he was dealing well enough with Sirius' death, insofar as he had yet to break down about it, until he had entered the old house. Mrs. Weasley had done wonders to it since he had last been there; it looked more like the Burrow than like the house of an old family of Dark wizards, though perhaps a bit better constructed than the Weasley's home. Someone – Remus Lupin, he discovered, upon inquiring – had managed to find a way to get the portrait of Sirius' mother out of the entryway, and it made a great difference. Harry was told that the foul portrait was currently residing in a closet on the second floor, and he stayed well away from it. The Black family tree was gone, too, likely by the same method. None of the remarkable changes to the ambiance of Grimmauld Place, however, managed to soften the blow of Sirius' absence from the house he had so despised. Everyone present noticed Harry's sulky mood, and it tended to make things quiet when he entered a room, so he stayed to himself whenever Ron or another Weasley wasn't making a concerted attempt to get him to be sociable. That happened more often than Harry may have liked because Ron, in particular, was consistently trying to keep Harry amused, while Mrs. Weasley tried to keep him busy, and he appreciated both their efforts. Fred and George were also there quite often (though, normally, only when Mrs. Weasley wasn't, since she was still very upset with their career choice) since they were now old enough to be full members of the Order. Thanks to all of them, every day seemed a little less long and painful than the last. Percy had yet to make an appearance, not that Harry was terribly sorry about that, though he did find it a little sad that the family still hadn't reconciled, even after Percy had been proven wrong about supporting the Ministry and its stance against believing in Voldemort's return.
No one was denying his return any more, least of all the Ministry. Harry learned, upon his return to Grimmauld Place, that Fudge had been sacked as Minister for Magic. The new Minister, Zedekiah B. Zigor, was described by 'Mad-Eye' Moody as 'a hard-liner, like Crouch was when he was running the Death Eater trials in the old days' and, even though Moody didn't mean it in a very complimentary way, Harry couldn't be too unhappy about anyone replacing Fudge. As long as Zigor didn't paint Harry as a deranged attention-seeker, he was sure they'd get along just fine.
The Daily Prophet had woken up, too, and its view of Harry was now so complimentary that Ron laughed as Harry blushed just from reading it. The paper was no good for keeping track of Voldemort's movements, though; people were so paranoid that the Prophet was getting at least a dozen reports a day from those who claimed to have spotted him or a supposed Death Eater lurking in their gardens, staring through their windows at night, or kicking their cats, and the paper was printing them all, no matter how far-fetched the story was. He knew for a fact that Fred and George had written the one that was allegedly from an elderly witch who had seen He Who Must Not Be Named peeing in her neighbor's bushes at three o'clock in the afternoon last Tuesday.
On a brighter note, Harry had received the results of his O.W.L.s from the Ministry of Magic shortly before leaving for Grimmauld Place, and he figured that he had done well. The letter, printed on paper with a very official-looking letterhead, read as follows:
Your achievement on the Ordinary Wizarding Level examinations for fifth-year students is attached. Please note that a grade of at least 'A' is required by the Ministry in order to continue in any given subject in your sixth year; further requirements are left to the discretion of your learning institution. A copy of your results has been sent to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
With Best Wishes in Your Future Studies,
Wizarding Examinations Authority
Ministry of Magic
Upon tearing away the Ministry seal on his results, Harry had found a basic rundown of the O.W.L. grading scheme ('O' was for Outstanding, 'E' meant Exceeds Expectations, 'A' was Acceptable, 'P' was Poor and was considered a failing grade, D was for Dreadful and, worst of all, T was for Troll). After scanning this, Harry looked down the listing of his grades:
Care of Magical CreaturesO
Defense Against the Dark ArtsO
History of MagicP
He wasn't surprised at all about failing Divination, but he thought that Troll was a bit harsh; after all, how could he be expected to develop an all-seeing Eye with Professor Trelawney teaching the class the way she did, not to mention predicting his death weekly? His History of Magic grade wasn't too shocking, either, considering that his exam had been interrupted by –
Harry shook his head sharply. Well, he wouldn't miss Professor Binns, anyway; he was the most boring teacher in the school. Harry felt that his Astronomy grade was a little disappointing, but that exam had been interrupted, too, and it wasn't a subject he was terribly interested in, so it didn't bother him much.
He had received seven O.W.L.s in all: one Acceptable, four Exceeds Expectations, and two Outstanding. It was one of those Exceeds Expectations that bothered him more than any of his other grades, because it meant he wouldn't be taking Potions that year; Snape refused to accept anyone with less than an Outstanding grade into his N.E.W.T.-level classes. He hated Snape, but it meant that there was no way of him ever becoming an Auror, because a Potions N.E.W.T. was required for admission into Auror training. Defense Against the Dark Arts was the only thing Harry was good at (he had survived encountering Lord Voldemort, the worst Dark wizard in the world, a total of five times, and had received an Outstanding O.W.L. in the subject), except for Quidditch. I guess my only career choice now is Seeker. Not that there weren't other professions in the wizarding world, of course, but being an Auror or being a professional Quidditch player were the only things Harry felt he could ever be good at, and now one of those options was out, thanks to Snape.
Ron's grades compared pretty well with Harry's – in fact, they were even a little better. He had only gotten a Dreadful in Divination instead of a Troll ('But what does it matter?' said Ron. 'It's not like you could have dragged me up to that tower again even if I'd scraped a pass.') and he also received a passing grade in History of Magic ('And you would have, too, except for… well, anyway, I'm not taking that again, either,' Ron mumbled). That brought his total up to eight O.W.L.s, which made Mrs. Weasley go into raptures; Fred and George had only received a handful each and, compared to that, Ron was an angel, even if he didn't have the same excellent grades as Percy before him. Hermione, of course, had gotten ten Outstanding O.W.L.s and a Medal for Magical Merit, though she still wouldn't stop worrying about her answer to question Whatever on exam Thingy.
Harry himself had more important things to worry about. When he wasn't thinking mournfully about Sirius, his mind turned to the prophecy. He still hadn't told his friends about it, but he had thought about it more than he cared to admit. How could he not think about it when it spelled death for either him or Voldemort? He couldn't bear to tell anyone else. It was bad enough just having a conditional death sentence hanging over his head – he couldn't handle the thought of other people knowing about it. He was also being forced to continue Occlumency lessons with Snape over the summer while he was at Grimmauld Place, and he grudgingly admitted that, once he put some effort in, it did stop him from dreaming of Voldemort. This didn't stop Harry, however, from wishing Snape would blow himself up in his potions lab some day.
Hermione arrived two weeks before the end of summer. Harry was glad not to be the sole focus of Ron's attention anymore, even though Hermione was even more reluctant than Ron or Mrs. Weasley to leave him alone. Hermione was also more perceptive; she seemed to know Harry was hiding something beyond his grief over Sirius, but didn't press the point, limiting herself to the occasional questioning glance or leading statement that Harry supposed was meant to draw out a confession ('If Harry had something to say to us, he knows we'd be perfectly supportive, no matter what it is, so he wouldn't be hiding something, would you, Harry?' to which Harry had replied by reading off a part of his Transfiguration essay and asking her if it sounded all right). Harry found all this talk about not hiding things from friends to be a touch hypocritical of Hermione, who had never told Ron or himself about the Time-Turner she was using to get to all her classes in her third year until she used it to save Sirius.
That thought brought yet another pang of guilt and loss. Hermione had also attempted several times to speak about Sirius, but Harry had remembered the way Hagrid had turned deaf whenever his expulsion was spoken of, all those years ago before they learned the truth, and tried very hard to act like that. Hermione eventually got the message.
All in all, Harry was more than happy to say goodbye to Grimmauld Place and board the Hogwarts Express. He hoped, rather than believed, that he wouldn't have to worry about the prophecy this year. I'm only sixteen! Harry thought to himself indignantly. I have ages to worry about it… but the longer I wait to do something, the more time Voldemort has to hurt people. Realizing that he was entering into the same argument with himself that he'd been having for the past two months, Harry pushed thoughts of Voldemort and the prophecy out of his mind and attempted to enjoy the train and the company of his friends.
Little did he know that, much sooner than usual, Lord Voldemort would be making his most memorable appearance of all.