Title: Between the Lines
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Tom thought he knew how things were going to turn out. Voldemort thought he knew how things had turned out.
He remembered doing it, and so he did it.
Warnings: Mild Voldemort/self. Tom is sixteen.
Beta-reader: bootstrapbetti
Contains HBP spoilers!

October 30th, 1943

Transfiguration class always managed to irritate Tom, whether Professor Dumbledore asked him repeatedly to concentrate on his task or simply ignored him.

Actually, it wasn't Transfiguration class what irritated him, but Dumbledore himself. The man always knew everything, and often kept it all to himself. It was no secret that Dumbledore had assiduously attempted to prevent the Headmaster from expelling that oaf Hagrid, and yet Dippet had never summoned Tom to talk to him about it, so Dumbledore couldn't have told him the whole truth. And Tom was certain he was aware of everything that had happened in June, or at least had accurate suspicions.

"Hey, Voldemort," whispered the boy sitting next to him, elbowing him slightly in the ribs.

"Don't call me that in class, Fabius," Tom hissed back, keeping his voice low but not making any effort to conceal the fact that he was talking.

"Sorry, Tom."

"Well, what is it?"

Fabius leant in closer to him. "I've got the Venomous Tentacula seeds you asked me to get."

"You do? How did you get them?"

"Professor Levenworth didn't want me to go around telling that I had seen him with a student in a compromising situation."

Tom raised his eyebrows slightly, interested in this bit of information. "You saw him with a student in a compromising situation?"

"No, but I told him that's what I would say if he didn't get the seeds for me."

"Just like that, without any proof?"

"I told him Albertina would confirm my story, saying she was that student. Levenworth knows she is hopelessly in love with me and would do anything if I held her hand or kissed her a couple of times."

"Artful," commented Tom with a smirk.

"Thank you." Fabius smirked back, his eyes gleaming with pride.

"Where do you have them?"

"The seeds? In my trunk. I've placed a cooling charm on the bottle."

"Boys," interrupted Dumbledore's deep but quiet voice, "if you are uninterested in Conjuring Charms, you are welcome to continue your conversation outside the classroom."

Tom and Fabius straightened up in their seats and picked up their quills, but neither of them apologised.

- - -

October 30th, 1981

"You wanted to see me, my Lord?" Lucius Malfoy squinted into the near-darkness that stretched in front of him.

"Come with me, Lucius."

A cold hand took hold of Lucius' wrist, a ring pressing softly into his skin. The young Death Eater jumped at the touch; his Master had never touched him before. The unfamiliar feeling was entirely too distressing, but he forced himself not to yank his hand away. He was led through a door into another room, this one lit with a dim, greyish light that seemed to be irradiated by everything -- walls, floor, ceiling, furniture.

The Dark Lord let go of him and sat down in a leather armchair. "Please," he invited in a charming tone, gesturing to another comfortable seat in from of him. Lucius obediently sat down. "Do you know why I sent for you, Lucius?"

A shudder found its way up Lucius' back. He knew several Death Eaters were spreading the rumour that he was going to desert the group, like Snape had done. Taking a slow, deep breath, he replied half-honestly, "No, my Lord."

The Dark Lord observed his face through narrowed eyes, and Lucius squirmed inwardly under the appraising gaze, but waited silently. "You are a promising young man, Lucius," he said at last.

"Thank you, my Lord," Lucius replied, not knowing what else to say. He waited for the threat that was to come.

"You are aware, I'm sure, of my plans for tomorrow. This -- ah -- Prophecy didn't hold good news for us. Any of us."

"No, my Lord," Lucius agreed, feeling the need to fill the silence in Voldemort's pause.

"As you must also be aware of, Wormtail has finally revealed to me the location of the Potters. I have to get rid of their baby before he becomes a threat to our cause," the Dark Lord explained in a calm, indifferent voice, as if reciting the ingredients of a potion. "And of his father, naturally. He's been pestering us for quite some time, now, wouldn't you say?"

"Yes, my Lord," Lucius replied mechanically, trying to ignore the little voice in his head that kept chanting the real reason why he was here, and what was certain to happen next.

"I am going back to Hogwarts tonight."

"Hogwarts, my Lord?" That was definitely not what he had been expecting to be told.

"Hogwarts, Lucius," repeated the Dark Lord. "Forty-years-ago Hogwarts. Thirty-eight, to be more precise. I am going to give my younger self...this." He reached inside his robes and took out something small and black that looked like a book.

Lucius wondered briefly what kind of information was contained in the book and why his Master had to deliver it to his younger self, but didn't ask. The Dark Lord knew he wondered, and would tell him if he deemed it necessary.

"I am confident everything will go well tomorrow night," he continued, offering Lucius the book. Lucius took it with a bow of his head. "I intend to finish a little...project, shall we say, on my visit to the Potters. However, some precautions must always be taken. I have to think ahead, consider the 'what ifs'. Go on, have a look at it."

Lucius obediently took hold of the edges of both covers and parted them. The book was old and rather tattered, but all the pages were blank except for the first one, where 'T. M. Riddle' could be read. He closed it and inspected the covers more closely; 'Vauxhall Road' was imprinted on the back, and '1942' was carved into the front, the fissures on the leather filled with golden ink. He ran his thumb over the numbers.

"It's a diary," explained the Dark Lord unnecessarily. "I used to have one when I was at Hogwarts. I never wrote in it until I was sixteen. The one you are holding is an exact copy, except this one has a certain...attribute." He leant back into his armchair, letting his gaze rest on the ceiling. "My non-magical diary was destroyed by a man who told me that on the thirtieth of October of the year nineteen hundred and eighty-one I had to come back to that day and change my non-magical diary for the one you are holding in your hands, Lucius. It must be done now, to preserve myself in case something goes wrong tomorrow."

Lucius' eyes widened slightly. "Nothing will go wrong, my Lord," he said, getting the feeling that his Master was expecting a reply from him.

"I know that, of course. However, Lucius, one is never too careful. Always think ahead, and take all the precautions that can be taken." He leant forwards and gently took the diary from Lucius' hands, then stood up and spoke in a more commanding voice. "I've got instructions for you."

Lucius wasn't certain if he should stand up as well or not. "Yes, my Lord?"

"If something goes wrong, anything-- if something happens to me, I want you to go to this place," he thrust a piece of paper into Lucius' hand, "and fetch the diary. When circumstances are safe enough to do it, find a child that is attending Hogwarts and give it to them. Any child, as long as he or she is very young. The diary will do the rest on its own, you'll see," he said, and an ugly smile stretched his lips.

- - -

October 30th, 1943

Tom Riddle ran his thumb over the surface of the glass bottle in his hands, holding it close to his face to examine its contents closely.

"They are fresh," was his verdict.

"Just as you wanted them, Voldemort," Fabius replied.

"Indeed." Tom didn't seem to be listening to the other boy; his eyes were fixed on the seeds in the bottle.

"What will you be using them for?"

"What?" Tom's head snapped up, and he put the bottle down on his bed. "Oh, just a little project of mine. Listen, I need to go to Hogsmeade for a couple of hours."

Fabius' eyebrows rose. "Hogsmeade?"

"That's what I said, Fabius." The hint of irritation in Tom's voice made the other boy's face straighten. "I need you to cover up for me."

"Of course, Tom."

- - -

A pleasant breeze ruffled Tom's hair as he made his way along the streets of Hogsmeade. No one looked at him, no one seemed to acknowledge his presence. He checked his pocket to make sure everything was still safe in it, and quickened his pace.

The Hog's Head was not nearly as crowded as it was on weekends, and Tom was grateful for that. A tall man with auburn hair stood behind the counter, as usual. There was something about his appearance that unsettled Tom, but nevertheless the man didn't ask any questions when he requested a quiet room away from the staircase. He gave the man a golden coin (and an extra silver one for not having asked his name) before making his way upstairs.

The room was not large, but it was not cramped either. The desk under the only window was wide and solid. Emptying the contents of his pocket on it, he waved his wand and returned the items to their original size -- a couple of books, several phials and bottles, ink and quill, some parchment, various utensils and an empty diary where he could take down notes. Another wave of his wand and a fire was started in the fireplace; it was not cold, but he'd be needing it later.

He sat down and brought one of the books closer to him, opening it on a page with a folded corner. The handwriting on the mouldy pages had faded, but it was still readable. The unmoving drawings on them seemed to have been inked by hand. Tom ran a finger over one of them, barely touching the paper, but smearing it nonetheless.

A loud crack from behind him almost made him jump out of his skin, but his quick reflexes made him grab his wand and turn around in less than a second. The sight in front of him wrenched a gasp from his lips.

A pale man stood before him, dressed in elegant, black robes. His eyes were reddish, as if he had been crying, but they were not swollen. His hair was the darkest of blacks, like Tom's, and his face looked slightly familiar but one bit too distorted for Tom to recognise him. He wondered if his uninvited guest had been the victim of a terrible fire when he was younger.

"Voldemort," the man greeted in a cold, high-pitched voice that Tom was certain he had heard before.

"Have we met?" He didn't lower his wand; on the contrary, his grip on it tightened. How come the man knew his secret nickname?

The mysterious man's lips stretched in a smile that could have very well been a smirk. "Something like that, yes."

"Why are you here? You didn't ask for my permission to enter this room." He reached out his left hand and closed the book on the desk without looking.

"You will not throw me out."

"How do you know?"

"Oh, I just...do."

The man's eyes flashed with something akin to greed, and without warning the room swam in front of Tom's eyes. Memories raced through his mind faster than he would have thought possible. He knew what was happening, tried with all his might to stop it, but the memories were going by too fast and he was quickly loosing control of his mind...

When Tom awoke, it was to find himself lying on the floor of an empty room. Where had the man gone?

"You are awake, at last. I didn't think it'd take you so long."

Tom sat up and spun around, all in one movement, but when he reached for his wand, it was not there. His eyes searched the room frantically, finally stopping on the two wands in the man's right hand.

"Give me that," Tom demanded, more to show he was unafraid than because he expected the man to obey. He was quite surprised, therefore, when his wand was tossed back at him.

"Your Occlumency powers are improving."

Tom frowned, but did not point his wand at the man again. So they had met before, then. Why could he not remember it? "You took me by surprise, that's all. No need to be sarcastic, Mr..."

"My name is not of importance at the moment. And no, I am not being sarcastic."

Tom straightened up. "Why are you here?"

"I've come to bring you this." The man produced a book from inside his robes; the covers were dark and shiny, new.

Tom's eyes widened. He looked behind him, trying not to turn around, and found that his own diary was still on the desk. Without warning, the book flew across the room towards the other man, who caught it deftly before lowering his wand.

"That's mine," Tom said in a threatening tone.

The other man walked towards the fireplace, seemingly undaunted by Tom's words, and with a smirk threw the diary into the flames. "You won't be needing it any longer."

It did not matter to Tom what happened to his empty, cheap diary, but the dominating attitude of the other man was making his blood boil with cold fury. "I should be the one to decide that."

"Oh, yes, and you did." He did not give Tom enough time to think about those words before continuing. "You are excellent at Legilimency as well as Occlumency."

It took Tom a moment to realise that the man had taken the conversation back to where it had been a few minutes ago. "And?"

"Show me, Voldemort." The man's eyes gleamed once again as he tucked his wand into his robes and took a few slow, deliberate steps forwards. "Show me."

Uncertain of why he was obeying a stranger, Tom raised his wand. He was aware this could be a trap, but the need to find out was irresistible. "Legilimes!"

The word had barely left his lips when memories started racing through his mind. A dark-haired boy writing the letters of his name on a piece of parchment; two young, terrified kids inside a cave; Professor Slughorn's horrified expression; Dumbledore's searching eyes; the statue of Salazar Slytherin towering over a wet, slippery floor...

Tom yanked his wand arm away to break the charm and opened his eyes, which he hadn't realised he had closed. The pale man stood calmly before him, watching his gasp for air and struggle to remain upright.

"How...how did you do that?" Tom said, his voice a mere whisper.

"I only let you see my memories, Voldemort." The man extended his arm and held the new diary for Tom to take it. "Here. The sixth Horcrux."

Tom's wand dropped from his hand. "What?"

"The seventh will be made tomorrow-- that is, almost forty years from now." He took Tom's hand and thrust the diary into it. "Write on it, Voldemort, pour your soul into it. When you are ready to make the sixth Horcrux, find a diary just like this one for it, and in thirty eight years come back to this day to give it to yourself."

Tom wanted to reply, to ask countless questions, to say something, but his voice would not cooperate. He merely nodded.

The man, whose identity was not so mysterious now but nonetheless entrancing, smiled. "Good. Good."

One long, cold finger sneaked beneath Tom's chin, lifting it up. He gasped, frozen to the spot, as he realised the distance between his face and the other man's was getting smaller and smaller. Thin, waxy lips touched his own, a rough tongue slipping out to slide between his teeth, coaxing his mouth open. Tom's eyelids slid closed as he gave in to the kiss, feeling a surge of tingling power stir between the bodies, spreading through his skin and his veins. He had never been kissed like this, never kissed anyone like this, with such intimacy, such...trust.

They parted in no hurry, Tom panting slightly, Voldemort cool and composed.

"Do not forget my instructions."

Tom rummaged through his recent memories and found the instructions there, still perfectly clear. "I won't."

"Until forty years from now, then."

"Forty years," Tom echoed. "Yes."

And with a soft crack, Tom was left alone in the room.

The End