Chapter 16 – Escape
Disclaimer: Don't own Harry Potter and etc.
Warning: This chapter contains stuff and stuff…
Author's Note: Alright, I'm still alive people and am SUPER sorry for not having updated in a very long time. I know I know, I'm a bitch. I could give you a bunch of excuses like how it was my senior year, I was applying to colleges, my computer crashed and destroy everything I wrote so I had to start this chapter from scratch, I came out to my parents and got kicked out for a few months, and I had to get a job as a phlebotomist to survive….but I won't give you those excuses because I know you guys don't want to hear them. Without further ado here's this chapter that I hope you all enjoy!
Nagini slithered around Tom's legs, circling herself around the young Dark Lord. His body was warm for her cold blood, circulating heat throughout her body, giving her the energy to climb around his neck. She could feel his pulse coming from his neck in slow beats. He was thinking.
What thoughts were going through her master's head, Nagini had no clue. She was born to follow and obey Tom without question; much like the people he called his "friends." It amused her to see her master abuse the power he held over people; the natural beauty and raw power that had been bestowed upon him since birth was used as a weapon against everyone. Nagini hissed affectionately, loving her master.
"How did you get out?" Tom asked, remaining hidden deep in the library. Xavier had been sent away to perform his task and Tom needed to outcast himself from everyone until it was complete.
"The blond boy freed me," Nagini wrapped her slender body around Tom's neck, careful not to strangle him. "He sensed what you were going to do with the Australian boy and didn't want you to feel lonely."
Tom scoffed and crossed his arms. It was both amusing and annoying how people misunderstood his needs. Now why would Xavier think he would feel lonely? Tom chuckled to himself. He preferred being left alone in solitude. The company of others was troublesome and forced him to keep up a façade that Tom was growing bored of. But after this ordeal, if everyone knew that he was behind the Chamber's opening, he wouldn't need to keep up that façade. People would see him as an evil being. They don't understand, he thought, glaring accusingly at nothing in particular.
No one understands, he repeated. His mind flashed a quick image of Harry, What about Harry? He understands you.
Then why did he lie? If he knew me at all, he'd know I hate being lied to.
You lie to him all the time.
Tom was fighting against the remnants of a conscience. Already he could feel his mind being split into two conflicting sides.
That's different! I never lied about being from a different time!
Why should that matter? He helped you find the Chamber…
I know…but it does matter. If he's lying about where he's from, what else could he be hiding?
"I don't like secrets."
Nagini turned to her master, unsure of why the comment had suddenly been said. "I would never keep anything from you, my Lord."
Tom gazed at the serpent around his neck, having forgotten her presence there. He caressed Nagini's body affectionately, content with another follower.
The fireplace flickered dimly, its flames retreating back into smoldering ashes. As the last flames died away, the room was filled with nothing more than a beam of moonlight. There was a draft coming from the open window which Harry stared pensively out of. His shadow was cast on the carpeted floor, nothing more than a silhouette of his thoughts. It was rare for Harry to see a night as clear as this. The chance to just gaze out into the distance had never approached Harry before, but he was making up for it now.
Harry had resisted his insomnia at first before finally accepting it. Too much was swirling in his mind that sleep seemed more like a necessity than a desire. Now that Harry had given in to his awakening, he could think clearly.
Carefully propping himself on the window sill, Harry held a crystal ball in his hands. He thought about who he wanted to see and whispered the name, "Tom Riddle."
Enigmatically, the crystal ball filled with dark clouds that twirled and danced before softening. As the clouds cleared, Harry could see the distorted image of his supposed boyfriend. The many protective spells recently placed upon the castle were interfering with Harry's crystal ball, making Tom's image vague and blurred. Despite the fuzziness, Harry could still recognize the handsome beauty Tom was known for.
There was a blacked out figure wrapped around Tom's neck; a result of the limitations of the crystal ball. Recalling Nagini's absence, he deduced that it was she who embraced Tom so possessively.
It was difficult to tell where Tom was. His surroundings were even more distorted than his figure, appearing as a warped mixture of colors. Wherever Tom was, Harry was just relieved to see he was safe. No one seemed to have found him yet so there was still a chance to reach him and tell him about Hagrid's framing.
Harry stared at Tom's blurred image awhile longer, nostalgic for the wizard's presence. He thought about their first kiss which made him blush beneath the moonlight. There were many times when Tom made Harry feel like he wasn't out of place in this time and Harry tried to remember them. But those thoughts didn't come quite as easily. Whenever the memory of an embrace or touch filled Harry with a sense of longing, the memory would shift to Tom standing over Sebastian's limp body.
Harry must have said the Australian wizard's name aloud because the crystal ball began to fog up again. Tom's image disappeared behind the thick clouds, his look of anxiousness vanishing with him. The crystal ball clearing, Sebastian's transfigured body became clear and haunting. A blacked out arm was holding Sebastian's book-form, swaying as the person walked hastily. Harry didn't see Tom holding a book before, so then Harry quickly called out another person's name, "Xavier Malfoy."
The picture spread out and the blacked-out arm holding Sebastian became pale. Harry could see Xavier in a distorted area, his blond hair flowing behind him. Though Harry had no idea where the blond was, he was just glad that he was safe. Xavier's sudden disappearance since the Chamber had been open was actually more disturbing than Harry thought. If all the students were confined to their Houses, then Xavier wasn't safe roaming around Hogwarts. Someone would surely find him soon as well as the book he carried. Harry didn't know what he'd do if he lost another friend.
Two days had passed since the Chamber's opening, and two days had passed since Harry was first confined to his room with Hermione and Draco.
Things had changed between Harry and Hermione, but how could he blame her? She was brought to this time without any intention of coming because of Harry. She fought all morals to do what was logical in order to keep the timeline in check. And she did this right after Ron died at the hands of the person Harry was now romantically involved with. No wonder she didn't want to hear about his relationship with Tom. She probably hated Tom and everything about him even if she didn't show it openly. Even the plan they made for Harry to still be with Tom must have been a struggle for Hermione to go along with. He couldn't see it before, but Hermione was doing everything in her power to not breakdown.
When she was sleeping, it was different.
Harry left the window sill and loomed over Hermione's sleeping figure. She lay on her side, clutching her pillow tightly and whispering Ron's name with urgency. Her eyes clenched shut and her forehead shined with sweat. There was no more control and all the emotions that were kept bottled up were being released. She tossed in her bed, her cheeks unknowingly wet. Harry couldn't watch anymore; it was troubling and filled Harry with incredible guilt.
This was all his fault. If only he hadn't cast the Tempus Inconcessus. If only he hadn't fallen under Tom's spell. If only he had never allowed Ron and Hermione to help him destroy the horcruxes. There were too many 'ifs' that could have prevented any of this from happening. But thinking about what could have happened wouldn't help anyone.
Harry sat on the floor, basking in the moonlight and rolling the crystal ball back and forth. He could hear Hermione's soft whimpers, tugging at his conscience. Her cries were unbearable so Harry cast a Silence Charm on her, masking the sounds but not her shaking.
On the other side of room, Draco was breathing softly. The sound wasn't annoying; it was actually quite comforting; a white noise that calmed Harry. He closed his eyes, still rolling the crystal ball, and just listened. The sound of night was soothing, a sound that was almost silence. There was an owl hooting off in the distance; he could hear the wind blowing the trees from the Forbidden Forest; and there were Draco's quiet breaths. Together they created a euphonious wave of relief.
Harry slowly fell on his back, outstretching his legs and letting the ball roll away. The mixture of sounds was pulling Harry into a sleep he desperately needed until the ball made a thump as it hit the foot of Draco's bed. Harry was on the edge of sleep when he heard stirring coming from Draco's bed.
"Harry? Is that you?" called Draco, half-asleep. He was sitting in his bed, rubbing his eyes, his head inclined to Harry's fallen figure on the floor.
There was no point in lying or feigning sleep, so Harry half-sat up, "Yeah. Can't sleep."
Harry could hear Draco shuffling out of bed, tossing the covers to the side. Draco's bare feet made soft sounds on the floor as he came closer to Harry. He knelt beside the young wizard, tense. "I know the feeling. I had horrible insomnia when I first came here." Harry relaxed a little, still unable to be completely unstressed with Draco beside him. "Whenever I tried to sleep, I would just stare up at the ceiling for hours, thinking."
Harry could see Draco's outline staring up at ceiling, staring at the "Lost Trust" despite the darkness.
Draco shrugged, "School, my parents…Voldemort." The air around them seemed to tense at the mention of the Dark Lord's name. "How Voldemort is still rampaging in the future and I'm stuck here unable to do anything. How he kills for the mere thrill of it. How he can expel his followers without a care. How he could just send me back in time to do his dirty work, knowing that I have no way of going back," he paused, "How anyone could possibly love him," he added bitterly.
Harry knew that the question was directed at him. "In all honesty, I really don't know. He's different here." Draco scoffed but Harry ignored it, "You wouldn't understand. Even I don't fully understand how all this happened. I came here because I wanted to save Ron and—"
"Weasly?" Draco tilted his head towards Harry, watching him out of the corner of his eye. "Where is he? Both you and Granger talk of saving him, but neither of you have said from what. Actually, I don't even know why you two are even here."
So much had happened that Draco didn't have time to consider anything before. But now that things had eased down, thoughts and questions were pouring in. The severity of everything was sinking in and he demanded answers.
So for the rest of the night, Harry told the tale of Ron's death. He told Draco about the horcruxes and what happened at Spinner's End. He had to pause for a bit, struggling with telling about Ron's courageous risk to touch the horcrux only to find a piece of Voldemort come to life. He relived the horrible event which was imprinted into his mind. Harry wanted to forget it, but at the same time, he didn't. Although it was a tragic memory of the loss of his best friend, it was also his final memory of Ron.
Draco had listened to Harry, not saying anything even when the other wizard didn't want to go on. But Harry eventually did go on with his story and spoke of his arrival at Hogwarts and meeting with Sebastian, Xavier, and Tom. It was nice hearing Harry talk so fondly of Sebastian. It seemed to Draco that Harry had a lot of respect for the young, Tom-like prodigy. Draco held back comments and grimaces when Harry talked about Tom.
As the story continued, Draco noticed that the two of them had moved quite close. Harry wasn't paying much attention, telling his story at the painting above. But Draco realized that he was using Harry's arm as a pillow and Harry was unknowingly stroking Draco's back, tracing the boy's spine with his fingers. The platinum-blond could feel the pulse in Harry's arm and feel the breath come out of his mouth with each word.
Their position became more intimate when Harry began talking about Xavier. He found himself laughing many times at the crazy antics the blond had done.
Hearing about an unknown ancestor in such a fond way broke whatever barrier separated the two. Draco placed his arm across Harry's chest, fully aware of what he was doing. Harry seemed to pause and tense a bit, finally noticing just how close they were, but he went on anyway.
Before either of them realized, the pale moonlight was disappearing and the first red rays of the sunrise were streaming through the window glass. Neither made any attempt at pulling apart. The night was done and Harry felt a weight lift off his shoulders after telling someone everything, even if that someone was Draco Malfoy. No, before that would have seemed like a horrible mistake; an impossibility. But now, Harry was grateful for having Draco there and for having him listen.
In one night it seemed as if the feud they had in their past had been overcome. No longer were they the Boy-Who-Lived and a Malfoy pure-blood. They were Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy—two people in a time when neither is known. They didn't have to live up to any expectations or fulfill any roles. Harry and Draco shared that in common and understood one another more because of it. Both silently acknowledged that, but there was still a bit of confusion lingering between them.
"I didn't know you were into guys," said Harry.
"I could say the same for you."
"I'm not, well, I don't think I am, I think." Harry scrunched his nose.
Draco laughed at him, "You sound very sure," he teased.
"Well, what about you?"
"Never fancied girls. Too clingy," he said simply.
"Really? What about Pansy?" asked Harry, a bit surprised to know this unknown tidbit about the blond.
Draco made a face of utter disgust that made Harry laugh, "She was the worst of the lot! Honestly, could you really see someone like me with her? I could do much better if I wanted."
"Did anyone know?"
Draco shook his head, "It wasn't anyone's business really. But it wasn't as if I was ashamed of it. I was just tagged as a lady's man and never really denied it. Worked to my advantage I suppose; it kept Lucius at bay when he was worried about me finding a bride in order to produce an heir. I would always reject suitors, which probably made him suspicious, but he heard tales of my faux sexual escapades at Hogwarts. Honestly, the rubbish people made up. Did you know that I'm apparently the best lover at Hogwarts, because I sure didn't, though I must admit it wasn't a bad reputation to have."
Harry gave a soft laugh at that, noticing the teasing smile Draco was giving him. His chest vibrated with another chuckle, giving Draco chills. The two were dangerously close now. Draco could feel Harry's heartbeat rapidly increasing as his was. They were quiet, just looking at each other. Neither would have ever thought themselves to be in this situation with each other. It felt like an almost twisted act of fate.
Draco carefully tilted his head upwards, his lips just a breath apart from Harry's. He just stared at Harry's mouth, remembering every detail about them: how wet they suddenly seemed to be, how they were barely parted as if asking someone to seal them.
He leaned forward, taking in the moment. Harry showed no attempt of backing away. So close—they were so close now. Just to have a taste of Harry Potter…
An unseen force hurled Harry as far from Draco as possible and into the opposite wall. There was a loud thud as Harry's body hit the wall hard and fell to the floor. After recovering and adjusting his glasses, Harry searched for the cause, wand at the ready.
Hermione sat on her bad, wand still pointing at where Harry had been. Draco scowled at her, resenting her for ruining the moment he had almost shared with Harry. His glare was returned tenfold and he backed away from her, checking to see if Harry was alright.
"What'd you do that for?" said Harry. He was rubbing his back, able to feel where a bruise would later form on his shoulder.
Hermione made an attempt to speak but no sound came out of her. She gave Harry a knowing look and crossed her arms.
Having completely forgotten about the Silence Charm he had put on her earlier, Harry quickly lifted the spell.
"What are you two thinking?" scolded Hermione, "I told you not to do anything. You both must understand that everything relies on Harry's relationship with Tom." The look of disappointment she was giving Harry was enough to make him apologize and sit beside her, away from Draco.
The platinum-blond wizard sat crossed arm against the wall that Harry had hit, annoyed at having been so close to a kiss with Harry only to be interrupted. Just thinking about what had almost happened tinted his pale skin with rouge flush. Excusing himself, Draco went into the bathroom to take a shower—a cold shower.
Once he was out of the room Hermione gave Harry a stern look.
"What?" said Harry.
"I think you're finally entering puberty."
"What?" Harry repeated. "That began years ago! Look, I have some facial hair." He pointed at his chin where a few hairs were growing, but it took Hermione awhile before she could actually see them.
"That's not what I meant. I was referring to your hormones."
"Have you and Tom…?" Hermione couldn't finish her question; she was just too shy.
Harry stared dumbly at her before it dawned on him what she was implying, "Hermione! That's kind of personal…" All of sudden, Harry Potter felt embarrassed and his cheeks were burning. Then, he shook his head, thinking words not suitable for this sort of conversation.
Hermione was relieved that the relationship hadn't been taken as far as she thought. She leaned forward and reached for something from under the bed.
"What're you doing?"
She grunted as she leaned farther over the bed without falling off and pulled out one of her textbooks. "If we're going to be stuck in here might as well do something productive, right?"
Harry chuckled and Hermione beamed at him before opening up the book.
"You haven't changed a bit," said Harry, watching her study.
Meanwhile, Draco was running his hands through his hair, eyes closed and water beating against his face and body. He lathered his body with soap, covering his pale skin with suds. The cold water did little to soothe him, but it did rid him of the ache between his legs.
He had been so close! Just a few more centimeters and he would have been kissing Harry, a feat that he hadn't thought possible in his time period. Without everyone who controlled Draco's mind, he was free to express and fulfill a deep desire. He would no longer act as his father's puppet and would think for himself. Years of being told what to do, how to act, how to dress, who to like—it was just too much! Draco had had enough and was finally going to do what he wanted.
No more Death Eaters, no more Lucius, no more Slytherins! Draco felt—dare he think it—free.
Turning off the water, Draco reached for a towel and dried his self thoroughly. His dried his hair with warm air from his wand and wrapped the towel around his waist. Despite Hermione's efforts to keep them separated, Draco was determined to at least get a taste of Harry. Tom and Harry could continue their odd relationship and Draco would be satisfied…for the time being at least.
Outside he saw Hermione flipping through pages of some book and scribbling something on a length of parchment. Harry was sitting on his bed trying to do the same, but he just seemed to be staring blankly at the book in front of him. Draco's lips curled into a smirk and he took this chance to strike. Tip-toeing towards the green-eyed wizard, Draco was able to sit beside him without being noticed by Hermione. Harry nearly squeaked when Draco suddenly appeared beside him though.
"Shush, Potter!" Draco scolded, checking over to see if Hermione had heard.
"You're in a towel," Harry couldn't help pointing out.
"Yes, most people use a towel after getting out of the shower. I believe it's to dry their bodies, but I'm not quite sure how the mechanics work," mocked Draco.
"I know that! I meant why are you still wearing a towel?"
"Oh, I'm sorry, Potter, I didn't know that it was bothering you. I'll just take it off then," Draco slowly began to remove his towel, enjoying how Harry's eyes were widening with surprise. But before he could completely expose himself Harry grabbed his towel, stopping Draco's advance.
"What're you doing?" Harry whispered harshly, glancing over to Hermione to see if she was watching them. Thankfully, she still seemed in deep concentration. He turned back to Draco and said, "You know that I'm with Tom. Nothing can happen between us."
Draco scoffed and turned away, "Honestly, I still don't understand what you see in him."
Harry sighed, "I told you already. It's complicated."
"He killed his best friend!" Draco suddenly yelled causing Harry to flinch and for Hermione to put her book down.
Harry stared at the floor, his hair falling over his eyes. For awhile, nobody said a word but Harry finally said, "I know. And I could've stopped him," Draco raised a brow, "If only I had seen the signs. They were so obvious now that I look back. I knew all of this was going to happen but I did nothing to prevent it!"
"Harry, this was supposed to happen. There was nothing you could have done," said Hermione softly.
"I could've changed him! He doesn't have to turn into Lord Voldemort!"
"He doesn't have to. We couldn't stop the Chamber of Secrets from being opened, but you've already changed some courses of the future. Your relationship with Tom never occurred in history until now. It can be the key to solving all of this." Hermione was doing her best to sound reassuring. As an afterthought she added, "I wonder how long they're going to keep us locked up in here."
Harry shrugged. "I hope they haven't found Tom," he added.
Draco rolled his eyes and went back into the bathroom to change. It truly was irritating how Harry could only think about Tom and Draco was getting sick of it. He changed back into his clothes and fixed his hair before going back outside. He avoided Harry, angry with him at the moment, and took a seat on Xavier's bed.
He let out a groan before falling on his back onto the soft cushions. Hands behind his head, Draco let out a long sigh and just stared at the fading mural above.
Harry tried to go back to studying, but kept on peeking over to Draco and eyeing the skin that was exposed on his midriff. When Draco raised his hands behind his head, Harry could see the pale skin that lay beneath the boy's shirt, looking completely untouched and flawless. He half-hoped that Draco would stretch his arms farther so that his shirt could move higher and expose more skin. But he blinked the thought away once he realized what he was thinking. His nostalgia for Tom was getting the better of him.
He turned back to his book, the words going right past him. When he read the same sentence five times, Harry gave up and shut the book. Instead, he pulled out his wand to distract himself. With a light flick, Harry practiced nonverbal spells, trying to levitate his book. Hermione glanced over at him approvingly before deciding to do the same.
Harry's book hovered a few feet from the bed and moved on to Summoning Charms. He silently called for his shoes, the book, and then for the crystal ball. When the ball came to him it was impossible to resist using it. He needed to see Tom, to make sure that he hadn't been found yet and was alright. He whispered the wizard's name and waited.
The clouded crystal ball cleared and Harry found himself staring at Tom. Nagini's blacked out body was around his neck still, but was shifting with Tom's shoulders. Tom was walking—no, running—somewhere with a distracted look on his face. His lips were moving rapidly in what Harry guessed to be Parseltongue. Nagini's head lifted as she responded and Tom stopped moving.
Worried, Harry watched intensely as Tom glanced to his left and then to his right before moving into a jog. There was no way of telling where Tom was going or where he even was, but Harry desperately wanted to know.
Staying cramped up in this room wasn't accomplishing anything. Harry was growing restless and worried. Pointing his wand at the door he said, "Alohomora!"
Of course, nothing happened. The door was magically sealed with a strange magic—either Dippet or Dumbledore's doing. Still, that didn't stop Harry.
Getting up, he stepped right in front of the door and continued to say, "Alohomora!" until he angrily kicked the door. Hermione and Draco were now watching Harry, confused to the boy's sudden outburst. But then Hermione was right beside Harry, wand at the ready. With a reassuring smile and a nod she chanted, "Alohomora!"
Draco scoffed at their attempts at first, but begrudgingly pulled his wand out. The three wizards aimed their wands at the sealed door and chanted in unison.
There was an unlocking sound and the three wizards stared at each other in disbelief, neither believing that their attempt had actually worked. Hermione made a quizzical look, not really sure if their magic could really be combined like that. Harry was celebrating inside and hurriedly went for the knob, stopping abruptly when the knob began turning on its own.
With a panicked heart, Harry quickly backed away and pushed the others away. They all jumped onto their beds and pulled out a random book, shoving their faces into its pages. They all looked up when they saw Professor Slughorn enter with a solemn face.
It was obvious the wizard hadn't gotten any sleep. Another crease seemed to be added to his brow and the bags under his eyes were heavy with weariness. His robes were the same from when they last saw him but they were more wrinkled now. The belly that had made him seem almost jolly was now growling out, making it apparent that Professor Slughorn hadn't eaten as well. The three wizards could only assume that the other professors were in the same state if not worse.
Slughorn motioned for the wizards to come forward. The three abandoned their books and stood before the older wizard. Their was no way to describe the immense curiosity they all had, wondering what was being done while they were trapped in their little room.
Professor Slughorn let out a sigh and rubbed his eyes in a vain attempt to appear more awake, "This is surely Hogwarts' darkest time. No one seems to be able to find Rubeus Hagrid or Tom Riddle," Harry let out a sigh of relief at hearing that Tom hadn't been found yet, "and Sebastian Chaud is also missing as well as Xavier Malfoy. Other students have been found roaming the halls out of confusion and curiosity, but they have all been sent back to their rooms. But we just cannot find those four. Do either of you know where they may be?" The look Slughorn gave them was desperate. He was pleading with them, just wanting for this nightmarish chapter in Hogwarts to end.
But how could they answer? They wanted this to end just as much as Slughorn, but neither of them knew the whereabouts of anyone. They merely shook their heads and Slughorn dabbed his forehead with a handkerchief in disappointment.
"Very well, then the other professors and I shall continue our search." Slughorn turned his back to them and began walking out.
"Professor, wait!" He turned back and faced Hermione who had called his name. "I believe I know a way to find Tom. Please, follow me."
Harry lifted an eyebrow, unsure of where Hermione was going with this. She led Professor Slughorn to the empty aquarium that used to house Nagini. As she was explaining some strange method of tracking the snake that may lead them to Tom, she looked back and Harry and then at the door that was no longer guarded.
Understanding immediately, Harry crept towards the door. Draco made a movement as if he wanted to follow, but Harry stopped him with a look. He needed to go alone. It was easier to get around the castle by his self and the chances of being found were less likely. Draco glared at Harry but conceded, instead going to give Hermione aid in distracting the Professor.
Harry dawned on the Invisibility Cloak and slipped outside, going through the first secret passage he saw in search of Tom Riddle.
Hogwarts was like a graveyard. The feeling of death was in the air and it wasn't caused by the ghosts who had vanished mysteriously. Even the portraits were gone, leaving behind empty frames and backdrops. It was as if Hogwarts was abandoned, and Tom was the only person left. But he knew that that wasn't true thus fueling his paranoia at every corner. It wasn't enough that Sebastian was dead, but now everyone was looking for him. A couple times did a professor tread to close to his hiding place. It was after Tom saw Professor Slughorn pass him did Tom decide that his hiding spot was not safe. Whispering in Parseltongue, he told Nagini to slither along the floor.
Being the obedient serpent she was, she slithered down from her place around Tom's neck. The floor was cold against her scales, but her blood adjusted to the change in temperature allowing her to focus on a different sensation.
Sudden vibrations pierced her body, giving her more insight on her surroundings than any eye could. Tom followed a few feet behind her, the echoes of his footsteps flowing through her. She led him to a fork and paused. Footsteps; at least fifty feet to the right. She led him on the left path, slithering faster knowing that Tom would keep up.
Without Tom having to tell her, Nagini knew where he wanted to go. Obviously not back to the Slytherin dungeons; that'd be the first place where people would look. Leaving Hogwarts wasn't an option either. Not only would he look guilty leaving Hogwarts, but the chances that he'd be able to get past all the wards Dippet and the other professors surely put up around the castle were slim. Remaining hidden was no longer safe either. No, Tom would be safer if they left now and reached that invisible room.
Though the Silence Charm Tom placed on his feet rid them of any noise, Nagini could still feel him following. She could also sense how anxious Tom was, so she hurried up the flight of stairs and led him down another corridor when she felt footsteps too close for comfort. She could still feel them behind her, so she turned at the next corner. Another turn followed and another.
"Where are you going?" Tom demanded after realizing that Nagini was leading him in a circle.
"Someone...I don't know if they're following us or coincidentally going in the same direction, but—"
"There are no coincidences," Tom cut her off, lowering his head in an attempt to see an followers, "Hurry to the room," ordered Tom, casually putting his hands in his pockets where his wand was. He tried not to seem too rushed, but it was difficult to keep a cool persona when Nagini would flinch every few seconds from the second pair of footsteps.
Even when they reached the floor where the Room of Requirement was, Nagini could feel the other person following. The other person was close enough now that they would be able to hear Tom and Nagini, so neither dared to hiss a word. Even Tom could feel the other person's presence now, but then why couldn't he see them?
Just then, Nagini froze in place causing Tom to do the same. The presence was right beside Tom for the smallest of moments but it might as well have been an eternity. The magic that past him was so familiar that it would have been impossible not to have recognized it. The door to the Room of Requirement appeared and opened on its own, calling to Tom. Knowing what lay on the other side, Tom entered.
It was different than the last time he had been inside. The massive hourglasses filled with black sand weren't there and neither was the Pensieve that had shown him how to open the Chamber. Instead, Tom found a little room, similar to the Common room. There were two plush chairs with Cushioning charms and a lit fireplace that gave off no smoke. The room looked incredibly ordinary, not what Tom had expected, though that was what shocked him the least.
There was a stab in Tom's chest; an incredibly new sensation for him that wasn't caused by any spell but by the sight of Harry James Potter. Having those green eyes look at him like that, Tom didn't know what to feel. Harry's face showed nothing, his expression hidden under a mask that Tom could see he struggled with. But the eyes gave everything away: fear, desperation, urgency, relief, nostalgia…and hatred. Another emotion accompanied the hatred too; not love, but something fighting the contempt that Harry was forcing himself to feel.
The Invisibility Cloak Sebastian had give Harry for Christmas dangled over the armrest. Tom connected the invisible presence he felt before and the cloak. The other chair looked inviting, but Tom couldn't seem to force his legs to move. To anyone else, Tom would have looked intimidating just standing there, as if he refused to sit down. And though his face didn't betray what he really felt, he knew his eyes did.
Whoever spoke up first would be in charge of what would happen next. They would have control over the conversation and be able to direct it. If Tom had any hope of convincing Harry that opening the Chamber was necessary, then he would have to speak first.
"It's nice to see you again, Tom."
Bollocks. Harry beat him to it. If Tom wanted to turn this around then he'd have to not beat around the bushes. "What are you doing here?"
If Harry was offended by the blatant, upfront response, he didn't show it. "I know that you opened the Chamber of Secrets." Tom didn't flinch nor did he deny the accusation, but he did remain silent. "I'm here to help you."
It was at this that Tom allowed the faintest traces of confusion to appear. This wasn't what he had expected at all. He had expected Harry to yell, to scream, to tell him that what he had done was an abomination and that he should turn him in. Yes, help from Harry was the last thing he had expected.
Harry couldn't say that it was a convoluted plan made by his best friend and ex-rival in order to keep the time line in check, so Harry just ignored the question. He swallowed, "There's a boy, Rubeus Hagrid, who was keeping an Acromantula as a pet. He lost it around the same time you opened the Chamber…"
Tom caught on to what Harry was saying. "You want me to accuse this Rubeus of opening the Chamber. You want me to say that the beast from the Chamber of Secrets is an Acromantula."
Though Tom didn't say it, Harry knew what he was really feeling. Tom didn't want to go into hiding, to let everyone fail to know that he was the heir of Slytherin. This wasn't what he had in mind when he first opened the Chamber.
"All the teachers respect you and will believe you over him. You will be seen as the hero, as the person who saved Hogwarts."
"You don't care?"
Again, Harry ignored Tom. "You just need to say that you've been following Hagrid because he seemed shady, always disappearing for moments on end. It was through that suspicion that you uncovered what Hagrid's plan was and tried to stop him before he could release the monster from the Chamber of Secrets but you couldn't reach him in time. Now with one student already dead, you've come to realize that you can no longer do this on your own and just want him to be stopped before the monster attacks another fellow student."
Tom couldn't believe what Harry was saying. It was very unlike Harry. Was there more to the wizard from the future that Tom didn't know about? It was never difficult to figure people out, to pick up on the body language that told when they were lying or telling the truth. He could usually read a person like a book and even read between the lines, the words, or even the ink. What Tom had expected of Harry to say was just the opposite of what the wizard was telling him to do. Not that Tom had a problem with framing some unknown wizard, but getting the idea from Harry was what unsettled him.
The thought occurred to Tom that this was a trap. What if Harry was just saying all these things so Tom could come of hiding only to be caught by Dippet or Dumbledore? Would Harry do that to him?
Tom wasn't so sure what Harry would do anymore. Harry was a wizard from the future and had gotten away with that lie for so long without Tom even realizing it. For all Tom knew, Harry could have been sent back in time to kill him. Tom had no way of finding out. He had destroyed the room with Harry's Pensieve in a fit of rage, leaving the place in flames. Tom would have to figure out Harry's motives another way.
To gain more knowledge, Tom would have to remain close to Harry. He consented to the plan with the slightest of nods and finally found the strength to move his legs. Without a word, for fear that he would say something regrettable, Tom leaned forward to where Harry sat and kissed him.
I will unmask you, Harry Potter, Tom thought as his tongue slipped past Harry's lips.
Harry shuddered, but not from Tom's tongue. His scar prickled with the awful sensation he always feels whenever he hears Voldemort's voice in his head.
This story is getting harder for me to write because I know where I want to go with it, but it's just really hard. People still reviewing this story is really what got me to feel guilty and actually continue writing it, so I hope you enjoyed it and to continue reviewing so that I am more inspired to write because I honestly just write for you guys 'cause you guys just totally rock!