Just what I need
By Veritas Lilly
First, some things you should know about this fic. It's AU. Meaning alternate universe. Meaning it follows none of the rules of the original Harry Potter fics. The characters are still magic and some things you may find are simillar to the actual events of the book. Also, this is a challenge from Falconwings14. It was set a while ago in response to my slash pairing dare I gave her which was Lucius/Arthur. Feel free to go and read that to discover the extent of our pervertedness. This is a K+/T fic because of the relationship between Harry and Ginny. He is sixteen, she fifteen so no, nothing sordid will happen there. Sorry to disappoint. Warnings? Slash. If you don't like it, feel free to read it, flame it and have your pitiful excuse for a review laughed back in your face. I could do with a giggle to be perfectly honest. Can I also remind everyone to sign in to review because otherwise I can't reply. Thank you guys. Now all that is left for me is to dedicate this to Falconwings14 or Sammy; my partner in all things slashy and a wonderful wonderful friend. Thanks Sam, happy sixteenth!
Harry Potter was bored. It wasn't for lack of distraction; Christmas at Hogwarts was always a busy and excitable time and there were plentiful events to occupy one so tired with monotony. The only flaw in his attempts to enjoy the festivities of Hogwarts was the fact that Harry wasn't staying at Hogwarts. He had, once again been roped into having Christmas with the Weasleys. It wasn't as if he hated them, quite the contrary, the Weasleys were very much his family. The only thing was that staying with his 'family' for Christmas meant that his burgeoning relationship with the only girl and youngest member of the family Ginny felt slightly more, well…incestuous.
"It's like snogging my sister. Every bloody time Ron brings up Christmas dinner I'm right in the middle of something with Ginny and the moment he mentions it I always feel as if I'm doing things I shouldn't be doing with a family member!" he had exclaimed incredulously to Hermione that very morning. Not that she was much help as she gazed over at Harry whilst knitting as if she were a granny in half-moon spectacles.
"Well in a sense you are doing something you're not meant to do." Came the clipped response, followed almost immediately by an almost shouted curse as she dropped a stitch and lost the knitting rhythm she worked so hard to effortlessly attain.
"Yeah not helping Hermione" Harry grumbled, resting his head on his hands and reading his potions book, trying to make sense of what was in front of him.
"If it's any consolation" Hermione began again once she'd found her rhythm once more, "It's only a week. I'm sure you'll be able to keep your hands off each other for at least that short while at least. It's not like you're both on heat or anything is it?" Harry stared incredulously at her as she sat knitting again.
"Hermione Granger I never knew you could talk in such a crass manner."
She peered through her non-existent spectacles again. In a very mocking fashion she said "Harry Potter I never thought you'd be even capable of thinking of Ginny Weasley, fifteen year old Ginny Weasley I might add, in such a manner."
Harry promptly shut up and began to read again, grumbling as he did so.
The last lesson of the term was Transfiguration and really, Harry mused as he pulled his books into his bag hap-hazardly and made for the door, it couldn't end on a drearier note. 'Must be a sign of things to come' he thought gloomily as he backtracked and waited for Ron to catch up. He was waiting for a while until Ron finally extricated himself from the grasp of his latest squeeze.
"She's the one, Harry mate!" He all but shouted as he and Harry made their way slowly through the grounds. Well, Harry made his way slowly; Ron was leaping and bounding all over the shop.
"Is she?" Came the disinterested response. "Did we have any potions homework?"
"I don't care about bloody potions! Merlin I've never felt so good. You know something?"
Harry smiled slightly.
"I know a lot of things, many of which then turn out to be total bollox."
"No I mean…oh sod it…look if I tell you something will you promise not to laugh?"
Harry sobered immediately at the serious tone in his best friend's voice. 'Oh God' he thought 'What now?'
"Well…" Ron began uneasily "I think I'm in love."
There was a nano second's pause before Harry burst out laughing and strode on leaving an almost bemused Ron behind him who bustled after him ranting and raving about 'broken promises' and 'making a mockery of a very sensitive situation' not that Harry was paying much attention. Harry wasn't paying much attention at all to anything but the book in his hand. The book he'd just stubbed his toe on and reached down to uncover from the arctic white. The book that for some reason meant so much more to Harry than a juvenile declaration of love.
As soon as he was able, Harry left Ron to Hermione and bounded upstairs, tore off his cloak and uncovered the book. He didn't know why he felt as he did about this rugged old thing in the palm of his hand held any power or leverage over him whatsoever. Old instincts seemed to have taken him over and for some reason he was consumed but the most frightening aspect about it was that Harry really had no idea what was in store for him but his gut was telling him that maybe, just maybe, this could be interesting. Slowly, painstakingly, he undid the cover from around the book and opened it. Completely blank. The ruddy parchment pages were stark and bare.
Harry mentally slapped himself before closing the thing again and shoving it to one side, almost to embarrassed to look at the thing which had cause him such personal humiliation. What made it worse was that Harry didn't even know why he felt that way. There was just something about this book. Almost immediately however, something indescribable happened. The book sprung back open as if on hinges and on the first page was written the words: 'Who are you?' in emerald ink.
Harry didn't move. He couldn't. 'Is it just me' he thought shakily, 'or did that book just talk to me?' He stared longer and longer at the words still freshly glimmering on the page and began to tremble completely uncharacteristically when the words written were erased and replaced with 'I know who you are. You're Harry Potter. Why so shy Harry?' Harry gasped. This time his tremblings were in anticipation. Reason left him and a small fumble took place whilst Harry located a quill and pot of scarlet ink under the crumpled remains of a Transfiguration essay he should have handed in that day. He thought for a moment before writing his response.
'Oh you know' he wrote quickly, his pace increasing as he wrote, 'it's not everyday a book talks to me.'
'No I can imagine it isn't' came the reply almost as quickly as Harry had written. 'But then again it's not everyday that someone opens this thing up so I could say that it's not everyday anybody talks to me at all.'
Harry almost laughed. The wit of the 'person' was undeniable. He began to imagine who or what could possibly be writing this.
'So, who are you?' he wrote after some time.
There was a long pause after this. Harry began to think he had been abandoned by a book. Patheticness reaching new heights etcetera etcetera. The reply came.
'I am Tom. I'm sixteen, just like you Harry.' This vanished and was soon replaced with the words;
'You have lovely eyes Harry.'
Harry sat stunned for a moment. 'Hang on' his somewhat irritating head voice cut in 'Is this thing coming on to me?' No shit, Sherlock said the more rational and slightly droller part of his psyche. Harry sat incredulous for a moment, scarlet ink dripping from his quill and splashing onto the parchment before being absorbed and calculated.
'Would you mind dripping elsewhere' came the witty response to Harry's silence 'It's wet as it is here without blood substitute dripping through my ceiling.'
'Sorry' Harry hurriedly wrote back. 'Thanks for the thing about my eyes by the way. You have lovely,'
Harry had to stop to think for a moment. What could he say to this stranger that he already admired but could not see?
'…penmanship' he finished. Bugger. Genius Potter, real, pure unequivocal genius.
A moment's pause before Tom wrote back,
'Thank you Harry. I do try.'
Harry mentally slapped himself then felt his stomach churn as he heard footsteps from underneath him. He hurriedly scribbled,
'Look I've got to go. This was…nice and all.'
The response was as quick as ever
'Shame, I was starting to enjoy this. Goodbye Harry. Perhaps I will speak with you again tomorrow.'
'Yeah sure why not.' Harry replied before slamming the book shut, binding it once again and placing it under his pillow literally a second before Seamus and Dean burst in doing what they did best. Harry edged himself out slowly trying not to be disturbed by yet another one of their famous public displays of affection and made his way down the back stairs. He couldn't help the grin as he sprung slightly from step to step. Yes he would speak to Tom again tomorrow. And the next day, and the next day…
In the following days, Harry became more and more absorbed with talking with the phantom Tom. He knew he shouldn't, even without the warning sirens currently wailing like the proverbial baby in his head he knew that something was wrong; it was all too convenient. He also knew that there were other things worth worrying about. Why he was starting to feel less for Ginny for example and why, unexplainably, he was starting to feel more for Tom. The day after that first encounter, Harry waited patiently for the opportunity to talk to the person who had suddenly become the only person who understood him in the world and when that opportunity arose, Harry took full advantage. You realise, Harry's droller psyche dropped in to casual taunting as Harry undid the leather binding and pulled the 'sacred' book closer to him that you're starting to sound an awful lot like Dean. "oh, Seamus did this, and Seamus did that and Oh my God, Seamus said he'd do this that and the other" I mean seriously Potter, you've got some serious bloody mental problems here mate".
'No shit' Harry thought, shaking the thought that the fact he actually had a droller part of his psyche from his brain. 'I'm hearing voices telling me that I have mental problems, oh the irony'. Despite this, Harry pressed on, dragging a crumpled and slightly dazed looking quill from his backpack and scratching away at a blank page with his trademark scarlet ink.
'Hey Tom' he wrote simply, awaiting the response with incredibly bated breath.
'Afternoon, Harry.' Came the steady reply 'what took you so long?'
'Minor disruption with a friend's love life' Harry wrote carefully, pondering slightly the very public way in which Ron's girlfriend had dumped the red-head and gone off with Malfoy all in the first ten minutes of breakfast.
'Ah,' came Tom's swift reply 'I see. How kind of you to put me on hold whilst you tend to him. I'm quite impressed.'
'Oh?' Harry wrote back, ever so slightly puzzled whilst revelling in the delight of Tom's compliments.
'Yes. You're not just a pretty face it seems. You show compassion. Not many do that, myself included.'
'Oh I'm sure you would' Harry replied, scratching furiously with his quill, revelling in Tom's attentions 'If given half the chance.'
'No. I wouldn't. I'm a very selfish person Harry, perhaps you shouldn't write to me anymore, I may rub off on you.'
The self defeating attitude that the phantom Tom seemed to impress upon Harry disturbed the teenager immensely. If he had any control over who he was at that time he would have taken Tom up on the offer and closed the book and backed away from this whole wonderful nightmare. The fact was however that Harry was now property of the droller voice in his head and the less rational version which told him to 'get in there'. Try as he might to convince himself that Ginny was the one, he just couldn't do it. The more he failed, the more he realised; Tom was perfect for him. It frightened the shit out of him.
Don't do it you prat, it's a book!!
'Stuff you' Harry thought as he began to write again.
'I'd much prefer writing to you actually' Harry replied 'If you don't mind.'
There was an extremely long pause. Minutes went by and still no remark or hint of reply. Harry began to wonder, thought about whether he'd perhaps scared Tom off in some way. The reply he got though, when he finally did receive one, was not what he had been expecting, nor half-dreading.
'No I wouldn't mind.' Tom wrote back slowly, letter appearing painstakingly after another, 'Please stay with me Harry'.
Harry sat stock still. His heart pounded, racing a mile a minute. He was writing before he'd begun to think,
'Gladly Tom' he put 'gladly'.
Once all was said and done, Harry slept very soundly indeed that night, a smile curling his lips as he thought of the stranger who'd captured his heart.
Days turned to weeks and it was one day at the Weasley's home whilst Harry walked lazily around the garden hand in hand with Ginny that Harry finally realised why this didn't feel right. It hit him so hard it almost knocked him out. Quite literally as it turned out for whilst Harry became entangled in his thoughts, he lamented to notice the rogue garden gnome below him that grabbed hold of his skinny ankle and pulled him down with such force that Ginny fell with him, landing on top of him heavily. Whilst she lay there, staring into his eyes and him into hers, just as lovers did, Harry neared for a kiss and as soon as they began, Harry was screaming for himself to stop.
'Ginny' he whispered as soon as she pulled away.
'Yes Harry?' she asked. She was so beautiful So wonderful. But not what Harry wanted.
'I've got to sort something out, I'll be right back.' He said hurriedly as he pulled himself from underneath her and all but sprinted back to the house and up to his room where he pulled the book out and hurriedly wrote,
'Tom? Are you there?'
He waited. A second seemed like an eternity whilst he lay there in anticipation, trembling on his bed.
'Where else would I be Harry?' came the wry response.
Harry waited a while, thinking about how to word this. How to put into words just how he felt about this person, this phantom really who he had never met but seen so many times in his dreams.
'Look Tom' he wrote 'I have to say this because if I don't do it now, knowing me I won't so here it is. I love you. I love you and I know that this is impossible. I know that I can't be there and you can't be here but I just need to know that you feel the same. I know it's only been a week, well, barely that but I need to know that, I don't know, you feel something I do or anything at all. I need to understand what this is and whether it's just me or if it's you as well. So erm, yeah…'
Harry waited. He didn't know how long. Time snailed along as it always did annoyingly in these situations and when Tom did finally reply, it wasn't exactly what Harry had steeled himself for.
'Harry' Tom wrote almost painstakingly it seemed 'This isn't right.'
Harry jolted. He froze. He didn't know if he was even brave enough but he asked the pertinent question anyway,
'What isn't right, Tom?'
'This' came the immediate reply. 'I know this may be a different kind of attention for you but in all seriousness look at yourself, you're telling a book you love it. It's quite pathetic if I'm brutally truthful.'
'You can't mean that' Harry wrote back, cursing himself for sounding like a lovelorn cliché-ridden one half of a teenage forbidden love story.
'Oh but I do' Tom wrote back sharply. 'I'm an image Harry. A phantom. I make people believe what they want to believe at tremendous amusement to myself. Yes it may hurt but, oh well, I'm sure you'll move on as you always do my darling Potter. After all, you are the boy who lived. What's stopping you from getting someone else? You can have anyone you want but I can't. I'm stuck listening to the ranting and raving of the lovestruck teenage whining pussies that claw their way into my, shall we call it a realm? On a day to day basis. You're just one in a long line of many. But don't worry; I'm sure your loved one, the darling Ginny who you seem sooo besotted with will be able to tend to your needs. Just like I did in fact.'
Harry was too stunned to anything. He drank all this in, willing it not to be true but the harsh truth was Tom was right. It was a joke, a phantom, an image in his head that had appeared so relentlessly every day and every night and he had fallen for it. In the worst possible way. And what's more, he had professed love to something he could easily store on his bedroom shelf.
'No 'buts' Harry. This is what I do. You should have known that by now. Goodbye my darling Harry. Oh and before I forget, could you discard me somewhere warmer than the last person? The snow and damp reeked havoc with my ceiling.'
With that last vanished passage, Tom was gone. Harry was mortified. He couldn't believe his gullibility, especially when it came down to it, he should have known all along. A ready made friend, interested in what he was, going through what he was. I mean seriously how could a book be interested in quidditch it just wasn't even conceivable!
In something akin to a moment's clarity, the first it seemed to Harry, in a number of weeks, he tore the book from the bedclothes, stormed into the bathroom, magically shrunk the Merlin forsaken object and shoved the vile thing down the toilet before mercilessly flushing it. Chuckling slightly (and also ever so slightly insanely) through his grief-ridden tears he noticed were now streaming down his cheeks he thought to himself 'well, at least it's warmer than the snow.'
After a fair while of shaking, crying, mopping and mental slapping, Harry made his way downstairs into the dining room where everyone was enjoying a lavish Christmas pudding (the second the family had devoured in a matter of an hour and a half) and chatting heartily. Ginny was amongst them but upon seeing Harry she leapt from the table, flung her arms around him and kissed him, despite indignant cries of 'Eww Ginny' and 'Guys, can you not do that while I'm eating.' And the couple's personal favourite 'Get in there Harry!' of course from the ubiquitous Weasley twins.
'Did you sort whatever it was out then?' Ginny asked after she had pulled away for the second time that night.
Harry stared at her for a moment. He looked deep into her sapphire twinkling eyes and felt content for the first time that night. Maybe for now, this was all he needed.
'Yeah' he said, pulling her closer and holding her tightly to him, 'yeah I did.'
Please R+R, many thanks!
Veritas Lilly x