Title: The Bonds of the Heart
Rating: NC-17(of course)
Pairings: Tom/Harry(mentions of various others including but not limited to Neville/Draco, Ginny/Harry, Remus/Severus)
Warnings/Kinks: Angst, mentions of character death, post-war fic, slash/yaoi, mentioned het, dirty mouths, sappy/fluffy romance(-gags-)
Summary: CHALLENGE FIC: When Harry Potter and Tom Riddle say they can't live without each other, they really aren't joking. Obligation and affection are two very different things.
Disclaim Her: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. Challenge handed forth by Naked!Tom Whore.
A/N: Took me long enough to get my arse in gear and write this bloody thing... -.-
I tried to keep them as IC as I could. Please let me know if I managed that?. -puppy eyes-
I don't write romance. I hate writing fluff and sap. I'm sorry. -bursts into tears and begs for forgiveness-
THIS IS A ONE-SHOT.
A ONE-SHOT, DAMNIT.
I'M NOT WRITING ANYMORE.
I'LL THROW THINGS AT YOU, LIKE DEAD PENS AND MY BROKEN DVD DRIVE IF YOU PESTER ME, DAMNIT.
ONLY ONE CHAPTER.
glares knowingly and stocks up on dead pens and sharp rocks
Harry Potter faced his opponent with a grim smile. The battlefield around them sounded with curses and hexes of varying degrees of seriousness. Only he and his opponent had no words.
Both men raised their extra wands - their originals wouldn't work, after all - and silently mouthed a curse.
Their curses raced at one another and, too late, both wizards realized that this would not work. Indeed, the curses rebounded, turning on their creators in a glorious explosion of lights and a void of silence.
Then, all went dark.
He woke to pain. It was so intense, he couldn't even scream. Was this hell? Is that why it hurt?
How was it that he could think, but not speak?
His movement - that of one in pain - warned the watching nurse that something was wrong. She ran for the doctor, only to find him worrying over the other man they found among a sea of bodies. Only these two had survived. It had looked like a war ground.
The doctor ordered that the two men be moved back together as they had been originally. At least then they could watch them together.
His pain, it had stopped. Why? He opened his eyes.
Emerald green met ruby red. "You," they spoke as one.
There was a cough and both pairs of eyes - each unique in their own way - turned to a man in a white Muggle doctor's uniform. "Good afternoon, gentlemen," the Muggle said evenly, not allowing his nervousness at those strange eyes to show on his face. "How are you feeling?"
"I'd feel much better if he weren't here," the man with green eyes muttered, looking away.
"I'd feel better if you were dead, Potter," the red-eyed man spat.
The doctor sighed. Great, old rivalries. Just what I need, he thought, trying not to scream. "Gentlemen, might I enquire about your names?"
"I'm Harry Potter, he's Tom Riddle," the green-eyed one said evenly.
"That is not my name, you half-wit."
"What would you rather I call you? Mother-fuck-"
"He's no gentleman!" both shouted, pointing their fingers at each other.
The doctor felt like he was in primary school again. "I need the phone numbers of your closest family-"
"Dead," Mr Riddle said sharply.
"Same," Mr Potter agreed, shooting his room mate a furious look.
Screaming was sounding better and better every other moment. The doctor pursed his lips. "You two are stuck in this room, together, until we see fit to let you out. Learn to get along, gentlemen," he stated coldly, then spun on his heels and stalked from the room. He slammed the door behind him, then leaned against it.
"This is all your fault!" Riddle shouted.
"My fault?! Excuse me?! Who tried to kill who first, you fucking arse-wipe?" Potter shot back.
The doctor left with a groan. As long as they're still alive tomorrow...
One Month Later
The doctor walked into the room to find the two men staring at each other sullenly. They'd been like that since Riddle had gotten fed up one day and stalked from the room. They had dragged him back after he'd collapsed in pain three rooms down and neither had spoken a word since then.
"Look, gentlemen..." The doctor let out an aggravated sound when neither looked away from the other. "BOYS!"
Green and red turned around to glare at their shared doctor.
"The hospital and I agree that you are both well enough to go back out into the real world. You said, Mr Potter, that you had a house in London?"
Potter nodded silently.
"Your clothing is right here," he held up a pile of clothing, "and there will be a van out front in five minutes that will take you to where ever in London it is that you need to go."
"What about pay?" Riddle asked suddenly.
"We billed your banks." The doctor set down the pile of clothing on a chair, then turn and left.
Riddle and Potter stared at each other for a long moment, then Potter spoke, "Look, you fucker. I'm stuck with you and you're stuck with me. We're going to Diagon Alley and finding out what happened after we both got knocked out, then we'll go to my house. We'll figure out what to do after that. Agreed?"
"Fine," Riddle spat, then got up, grabbed his clothing, and slammed into the bathroom.
Potter sighed and dressed in the main room without complaint.
The Leaky Cauldron was empty. When they got into Diagon Alley through the open portal, they found that it, too, was empty. A sheet of newspaper blew over and struck Potter in the face. The two men looked down at it and let out similar exclamations of horror:
Witches and Wizards Everywhere Complain of Lack of Magic
"Nonsense!" Riddle asked, grabbing the paper from Potter's hands and ripping it in half.
Potter grabbed the paper before Riddle could finish ripping it to shreds and dropped it on the ground, then pointed at it. "Wingardium Leviosa!"
Both stared at the unmoving paper for a long moment, then Riddle stepped forward and tried.
Again, the paper was still.
"Nonsense?" Potter said, turning on his horrified enemy. "What spell did you use?"
"The same as yourself," Riddle replied. "The Magic-Less Curse."
"The worst future a wizard will ever face-" Potter started.
"-is one in which he has no magic," Riddle finished.
They stared at one another in horror for a long moment.
"What have we done?" Potter whispered, then fell to his knees and cried.
Riddle just stared down the empty street. What have we done? his mind echoed his sworn enemy.
After a night's sleep at the freakishly silent home Potter had inherited from his godfather, the two enemies went together to find the bank that Gringotts must have become.
They found Gringotts in what had once been St Mungo's. They'd finally re-made the Muggle inside and created a bank out of it. Goblins no longer ran the bank. Rather, small humans with bad attitudes ran it.
"I think we can guess what happened to the other magical creatures now," Potter murmured as they got in a line before one of the windows.
"I can't believe I'm stuck as a Muggle," came Riddle's aggravated response. It was the only thing he'd really said since they'd learned that they were just as barren as the rest of their world.
Potter rolled his eyes, but didn't comment. Both men stayed silent until they got to the head of the line.
"Names?" asked the once-goblin.
"Harry Potter and Tom Riddle," Potter murmured, leaning forward secretively.
The once-goblin's eyes widened. "Come through here, then follow me," he ordered, opening a small swinging gate next to his window.
Potter grabbed Riddle's arm and half-dragged the elder man after him. Even though magic was gone, distance between himself and Riddle hurt like hell. Potter thought it might be left from their original bond. Riddle had no thoughts on the matter. Or, at least, none he was sharing.
The once-goblin led them down a hall to a tall door. He knocked on it firmly, then motioned for them to enter when someone on the other side called, "Come in!"
Potter led the way in to the office, smirking when Riddle hurried to follow him; the ex-Dark Lord certainly hadn't forgotten the time he'd collapsed back at the hospital. The two took the empty chairs in front of the desk and remained calm and silent as the once-goblin on the other side of the desk looked them over with a sneer.
"How the mighty have fallen," the now-man finally spat, his dark eyes glinting with hatred. "What do you fools think of the world you fought over now?"
Riddle's face turned nasty and he opened his mouth to speak, but Potter managed first, "We wouldn't know - we haven't seen much. We just got out of the hospital ourselves."
"And is that supposed to make me feel better?"
"Don't you tal-"
"Would you keep your mouth shut for once, you moron?!" Potter hissed furiously at his companion.
"You're dead, Potter," Riddle replied with a cold look.
"I dare you," Potter hissed back, meeting cold look with cold look.
The once-goblin cleared his throat after a few minutes worth of staring contest, feeling much better knowing that the two who had caused their world's plight were having just as much, if not more, trouble dealing as his people were. "What is it that you fools came here for?" he growled, determined to not let his pleasure at the two's fighting show.
"I need money out of my vault," Potter offered after shooting Riddle one last look of pure loathing. "Food is key to living after all, despite what this fool may say to the contrary." A self-satisfied smirk bloomed on his face when Riddle growled.
"I will not be needing anything today," the ex-Dark Lord said in a high-and-mighty voice.
"So you're going to starve," Potter replied, standing.
"What?" Riddle gave Potter a strange look.
Potter smiled innocently. "You can't seriously think that I'll be wasting my money to feed your lazy ass, you fucker. If you want to eat, you need to get your own money."
Riddle growled again, but stood. "Fine." He looked at their audience with a disgusted look. "We'll both be getting money from our vaults."
The once-goblin snorted. "Sit down, you fools. We do things the Muggle way now, which means that you have paperwork to fill out and then we'll give you ATM cards."
"Of course..." Potter sat again calmly.
Riddle looked lost. "What?"
Potter snickered. "ATM cards, you moron, are what Muggles use to get their money from designated machines - it draws the money from your account. If you get the right sort of card, you can also use your card to make purchases at stores without ever actually touching the money."
"Finally. A wizard I don't have to explain this to," the once-goblin whispered, relieved. "Mr Potter, you can have a wonderful time explaining the wonders - or horrors, considering who this is - of the Muggle world to Mr Riddle later. Right now, I need both of you to sign these papers." He slid two small piles of paper across the desk to them, a pen on top of each stack.
Potter quickly started through his papers, signing away with calm ease - it obviously wasn't the first time he'd dealt with money in the Muggle world. Riddle, on the other hand, was still stuck on making the pen write. "Merlin...damn..."
Potter reached over, clicked the top of the pen, then went back to his papers without a word. Riddle glared at him. "Sign your fucking papers, you bastard," Potter muttered under his breath, not looking up.
Riddle let out another growl, but did as he was told. It took him an extra moment to adapt to the Muggle pen, but he didn't end up needing any more help from Potter.
Once the two had finished their stacks of papers, they were traded for bank cards. "We'll have this information keyed in by the end of the day, until then, you can't use any ATMs. Expect check books later this week in the mail. For now, how much would each of you like to withdraw?"
"Two hundred pounds should do it for today, I think," Potter spoke. When Riddle opened his mouth to speak, Potter shot him a sharp look, then added, "Two hundred for each of us."
"Excuse you, Potter," Riddle spat. "But I don't remember saying that you could decide my finances for me."
Potter just gave him a bored look. "When was the last time you used Muggle money?"
Riddle sneered, but didn't respond.
The once-goblin snickered, then passed four hundred pounds across the desk from the locked money drawer in his desk. "I'll have this debited from both of your accounts immediately. Make sure you have the appliances needed to keep things cool," he suggested as Potter took his two hundred and held the rest out to Riddle.
Potter nodded. "I think I'm good, but thank you for the suggestion," he said calmly, then stood. "Come on, you moron. We need to get some food and a change of clothing. Then we need to go back to the house and make sure everything is working right - some of the things were using magic to keep them running."
"Don't order me around," Riddle snapped.
Potter shrugged. "Unless you'd rather remain here, of course." He had the door opened before Riddle reacted.
"Wait, damnit! You can't leave without me!!" Riddle hurried from his seat and dashed after Potter, who was acting as if he hadn't heard him. "I hate you," he spat, grabbing Potter's shoulder in a painful grip.
Potter frowned at him. "Next time I say 'come on', why don't you just follow me, instead of fighting with me about it?"
"I don't let people order me-"
"Tom, you're not Voldemort anymore. Grow up," Potter muttered tiredly before jerking his shoulder from the other's grip. "Let's go." He started towards the exit of the bank.
Riddle bared his teeth at Potter's back, but followed him anyway, taking care to remain within a few metres of him at all times. It wouldn't do to collapse in front of all these people, now would it?
One Month Later
Potter felt ill. It was the third day in a row, and he was sick of it. He wanted to go to a doctor and see if someone could figure out what was wrong with him this time, but he didn't want Riddle finding out. While they had gotten to the point that being on opposite levels of the house or opposite sides of a department store no longer left them feeling dizzy or caused one of them to faint, they still had to remain in a same building together. Outside, it was as it had been when they woke in the hospital - more than five metres of distance between them was liable to leave them both screaming and one of the two were certain to faint if they pushed it too much. The two had tested the hell out of their bond to see if they had any freedom at all; they hadn't been particularly pleased with the results.
Potter sighed and shifted restlessly on the couch in the lounge. Despite his illness, he hadn't found any real problems when it came to living with Riddle. The elder man spent his every free waking moment in the Black Family library. Both Potter and Riddle did their best to stay out of the other's way as much as possible and they only forced themselves upon each other on Fridays to go out to any stores they needed to go to. Meals were generally taken at different times, though there had been the rare evening meal that both Potter and Riddle ended up in the kitchen at the same time for. On those occasions, however, they would remain silently polite and make their food quickly before returning to their respective hiding holes.
Potter's train of thought was broken when he heard someone at the doorway of the lounge. Riddle was leaning against the door frame, looking as crappy as Potter felt.
"You too, then?" Riddle commented in a quiet voice.
Potter closed his eyes and nodded, not feeling like exerting the effort needed to pull together an actual response to that.
Riddle stepped unsteadily over to the couch and Potter moved his legs so the other could sit. Riddle did, then held out a book to Potter, his finger marking a page. "I think I may have figured out why we're sick," he offered.
Potter shrugged, ignoring the book offer. He wasn't fond of reading on the best of days, let alone when he wasn't feeling well. "Let's hear it, then," he muttered, but the words had no bite to them, as they might have a few days ago.
Riddle sighed and leaned back against the couch, hugging the book to his chest. "The bond we had as wizards was unique, as you know, and when we were forced into this Muggle lifestyle, that bond had to become Mug-"
"We've already discussed this," Potter said tiredly.
"Would you just shut up and listen for once?" Riddle grumbled. This illness was really making it hard to put any real feeling in his words.
"Just don't beat around the brush for once - I'm too tired for it right now," Potter sighed.
"Fine." Riddle flipped open the book to the page he'd been holding, unintentionally resting his arm against Potter's leg. "The Muggles, of course, have their own forms of non-magical bonding - like marriage, family, and blood siblings. I found a reference to an older Muggle practise that appears to have been created when the Muggle and magical worlds had been melded together millennia ago and somehow survived. It was a bonding that was based around arranged marriages."
"Sounds cruel," Potter commented thoughtfully.
Riddle smirked. "Basically, the two who are bonded cannot do much of anything without each other. Ignoring the bond will make both ill and may even kill them if taken too far."
Potter's eyes had widened comically. "You think that's the bond that's been created between us?!"
Riddle stared at the younger wizard. "Are you feeling any better?"
Potter paused and thought about it, then nodded fearfully.
Riddle nodded down to where his arm and Potter's leg were touching. "Physical contact lessens the symptoms."
Potter looked like he might actually be ill and he drew his legs away from his housemate. "I'm going to hate myself for asking this, but did you find a way to end this thing?"
Riddle felt rather ill himself as he recalled what he'd read. "Consummate the bond," he stated in as even a voice as he could.
Potter rubbed at the bridge of his nose. "That's what I was afraid of." He let out a little laugh that sounded almost like a sob. "The worst luck."
Riddle stood with a groan. "I don't like this any more than you do, Potter," he pointed out darkly.
Potter let out another laugh-sob. "You're the genius here; what do you suggest for now?"
Riddle stared down at the book in his hands. "We'll just have to stop avoiding each other so much."
Potter glanced up at Riddle and the elder wasn't surprised to see tears in the jade eyes. "Well, we'll just have to start eating together, I guess."
Riddle sighed. "You're aware that the bond will, eventually, force us to consummate it or it will kill us?"
"I know. I'm just...just..."
"Not ready for this right now?" Riddle supplied.
Riddle glanced up at the clock above the fireplace. "I'll see you at five for dinner, then?"
"That should be fine," Potter agreed wearily.
Riddle nodded sharply, then walked from the room to return to the library. Each step farther away from the lounge made him feel a little worse, but it was nothing like the illness of earlier. Their brief contact hadn't been enough to appease the bond, but there was no way they would be able to stand one another's presence for long enough at this point to do so. They would just have to feel ill for a while.
By the time Friday came around, the two sworn enemies had yelled at each other twelve times and come to blows three times. Neither felt like they were about to die of some unknown illness anymore, but they were so sick of each other that they almost agreed to not go out shopping and be forced to spend the whole day together.
Breakfast showed them that they had no choice but to go out, however, as they were both low on food and Potter needed some new dishes - their last fight had included flying plates and a number of them had broken.
Potter took a deep breath at the door of the house and turned to look Riddle in the eyes. He held out a hand. "Let us agree to keep our comments to ourselves and at least try and act civil to each other while we're out of the house," he suggested.
Riddle was tempted to sneer and refuse, but he was acutely aware of both how much of a blow Potter's pride must have taken for him to say that and how much of a blow his own pride would take if they started a fight out in public. So he took Potter's hand and they shook on it.
"Right, then. Le-" Potter paused and glanced at Riddle out of the corner of his eyes. "Sorry. Shall we head out?"
Riddle nodded. "Let's," he agreed, impressed at Potter's attempt to not order him around for once. Not that Potter ordering him around wasn't needed sometimes - Riddle just didn't understand some things about the modern Muggle world and he probably would have already caused a number of faux pas if the Muggle-bred ex-wizard hadn't been there to stop him from making an ass out of himself.
The two remained silent during the walk to the nearby grocery. Instead of splitting up as soon as they entered the building - as they usually did - Potter and Riddle each grabbed a hand basket and walked up and down the aisles together. They remained mostly silent for the trip, only speaking to point out a deal on something that didn't look too bad - they were still eating together, after all, and a meal for two would be easier than each making their own meals. After checking out, they walked their purchases home and put them away without shouting at one another.
Done re-stocking their food, the two walked out to the nearest bus stop, then took the bus into the city. There was a small shop that Potter had gotten his first set of dishware at during the war that they went to.
Once inside, Riddle immediately noticed a pattern that he liked better than the swirling brown and tan dishes that Potter had. He pointed them out to Potter. "How about those ones?"
Potter cocked his head at the floral pattern. The green flower stalks looked surprisingly like snakes while the red and blue flowers looked suspiciously like lion and eagle heads respectfully. The background was a soothing yellow and the flowers were arranged in such a way that it looked as if a badger was taking up the centre of the image. Potter picked up one of the plates with sad eyes. "It's the Houses," he said softly to his companion.
Riddle picked up a bowl and inspected it. On the bottom, he found what he'd been looking for. "Here, see?"
Potter blinked back tears at the name scrawled on the back. "Do you think he's here?"
Riddle pursed his lips and scowled at the name for a long moment before stating, "We can certainly ask."
Potter sighed and shook his head, a small smile tugging at his lips. "Nah. We don't have to visit with him."
"I can put up with the coot for five minutes, you know," Riddle grumbled, setting the bowl down carefully.
Potter let out a gentle laugh and Riddle was surprised at how free it sounded - he certainly hadn't ever heard the younger man laugh like that before. "Do you really like these dishes, Tom?"
Riddle blinked in surprise a few times. Potter had only used his given name a few times before, and usually it was filled with venom. This time, he just sounded curious. Riddle fought back the happiness that threatened to suffocate him and cursed the bond angrily.
"I-" Riddle glanced down at the careless hand on his arm. "Yeah, I do."
Potter smiled and made a note of the make number. "Let's go order them, then," he suggested cheerfully.
"You don't mind?" Riddle asked, curious. They would, technically, be Potter's dishes, not his.
Potter shrugged. "They remind me of what we lost," he explained simply. "And, anyway, if you like them, you're less likely to start throwing them at me."
Riddle rolled his eyes at the playful banter. "You always could have caught them, you know."
Potter laughed his free laugh again, then walked up to the counter to talk to the young woman there about ordering a set of the dishes. Riddle followed him after taking a moment longer to stare at the dishes. He wondered if Dumbledore was near by, perhaps in the shop? A part of him was glad that Potter had decided that trying to find the old man wasn't worth it, but another part of him wanted to know how Dumbledore was coping with the loss of his magic. Knowing the eccentric old man, he was probably just fine.
"Bookstore next, then?" Potter inquire as he walked back over to Riddle.
Riddle blinked. "Are they delivering the dishes to the house or something?"
Potter shook his head with a smile. "No, she's going to pack a set up for us. We'll have to drop back by on our way home, but that shouldn't be a problem."
Riddle nodded. "Okay, then. Shall we?"
"Let's," Potter replied.
The two walked out of the store and across the street in a peaceful silence.
Blue eyes smiled down at the two unusual men from a workshop above the store they'd just been in. Sure that his two once-students wouldn't be killing one another any time soon, Dumbledore went back to his dishware.
The week after their trip to town followed in much the same way that their daily life had been before that Friday. The two were back to fighting constantly, though they were careful to not break the new dishes.
It was Wednesday when Riddle finally decided he'd had enough. He left the safety of the library an hour before dinner and stalked over to the lounge. As expected, Potter was stretched out on the couch, a book of word searches on one hand and a pen in the other.
Riddle cleared his throat.
"Either start talking, or go away. I'm not in the mood to put up with you today," Potter snapped, not looking up.
"What changed?" Riddle inquired, fighting to keep his voice even. "We were getting along smashingly on Friday, but come Saturday we were back at each others' throats again."
"Our truce was over," Potter replied coldly. "Why, bastard? Did you like that day without being snapped at?" The younger man looked up at his housemate, ready to throw out another insult, but he froze when he saw the open pain in the ruby eyes.
The two stared at one another for a long moment before Riddle turned away. "I'm going to bed early. Have dinner without me."
Potter started to rise from his seat, puzzle book and pen forgotten. "To-!"
"Shut the fuck up," Riddle snapped before spinning on the balls of his feet and stalking towards the stairs to the upper levels.
Potter jumped over the back of the couch and hurried after the ex-Dark Lord. "I'm sorry!"
Riddle's door slamming was the only answer he got.
Potter hurried up the rest of the stairs and came to stand in front of Riddle's door. "Tom, please!" he cried.
Something hit the door and shattered, making Potter flinch. "Go to hell, you hypocrite!" Riddle screamed.
Potter dropped to the ground and hunched over, feeling horrible. He'd been so happy on Friday. He and Riddle had been getting along wonderfully and he'd almost felt like a real person again. But Friday night he'd had a vivid nightmare about the war and so the first thing he'd done Saturday morning was snap at his housemate. Things had just gone downhill from there, helped along by a string of nightmares that left him snappy in the morning, which would, inevitably, start another fight that would just escalate during the day.
In the silence, Potter heard sobs and it took him a moment to realize it was him. He clutched his knees to his chest, then started speaking, careful to keep his voice even, "I had a nightmare Friday night. It was about that night when Lucius Malfoy snuck into the school so he could drag me back to you. When he killed Neville, remember? And then Draco cursed his father with some nasty dark curse. Lucius managed to get out the Killing Curse one last time to kill Draco before he died."
The hallway remained silent.
"On Saturday night, I dreamed of your attack on Hogsmeade right before Christmas. I saw Ginny falling to Wormtail's wand right before Hermione killed him with a well-aimed Slashing Hex; she was so broken up after that, after having killed someone. It was like we'd lost Hermione along with Ginny, and Ron wasn't doing much better."
Riddle's door creaked open and his head poked out, but Potter didn't seem to notice.
"On Sunday, I watched as Bellatrix cursed Sirius back into the Veil. The memory kept playing over and over again and each time I was too slow to save him."
Riddle stepped out into the hall proper, eyes downcast and wet, just as Potter's own eyes were.
"On Monday night, I saw Ron jump in the way of a Killing Curse that was meant for me. And while I was distracted by killing his killer, Hermione was behind me, killing again and then getting killed herself. Falling to Bellatrix before I could kill her."
Riddle knelt before Potter on the ground, unsure whether or not he should touch the younger man.
"And last night..." Potter glanced up and the broken look in those jade eyes made Riddle gasp. "...I dreamed of the Final Battle. I remembered seeing Remus fighting Greyback and Snape fighting Dolohov nearby. And then we both cast and everything went black." Two tears made their ways from each of Potter's eyes, down his already damp cheeks. "And I was so angry at you and at myself and so I started snapping at you about every stupid little thing and you got hurt for it and I'm so sorry-"
Riddle leaned forward and pulled Potter against his chest, eyes closed tightly. He understood now why Potter had been such an ass the whole week. The war had been hard on both sides, though it was, no doubt, worse on the 'light' side, as so many of them were children who had never seen war before and who lost their friends before their very eyes. Riddle had been careful to not let himself care about anyone on his side more than the short grief over the loss of a good fighter. Cruel, but effective.
"I'm sorry too, Harry," Riddle whispered to the younger man. "I'm sorry..."
Potter wrapped his arms around Riddle and buried his face in the elder man's shirt before breaking out into sobs. Riddle just held him, feeling tears on his own face. Why did it have to hurt to care about someone?
Potter had ended up crying himself to sleep outside Riddle's room, and the elder man hadn't been able to muster the strength to take the sleeping man any farther than his own room. So he set Potter in the bed, then crawled in with him. It felt good to be holding the younger man, and Riddle cursed the bond until he fell asleep.
Potter woke, for the first time since before the Final Battle, feeling safe and warm. Rather than open his eyes and figure out why he felt so good, he just snuggled closer to the person holding him.
Potter opened his eyes and swallowed hard at the sight of the sleeping ex-Dark Lord. It scared him a little that he wasn't as bothered as he thought he should be by the knowledge that he was in the same bed as Riddle. Given, they were, at least, both still dressed, but still...
Riddle let out a strange sigh and his eyes blinked open slowly. When he recognized the green eyes watching him, he choked. "H-Harry?!"
Potter blinked, hadn't Riddle called him Harry last night? Riddle never used his first name. "Morning," he responded softly.
Realization coloured ruby eyes and Riddle groaned. "I'm sorry. I didn't feel up to carrying you to your room last night, so I just brought you in here and..."
Potter shook his head, then rested it on Riddle's chest, smiling when he heard his frantic heartbeat. "It's okay, Tom. It's..." He paused, realizing how sappy that was going to sound.
"What?" Riddle inquired, wrapping his arms around the younger man.
Potter swallowed. "It's nice. I-I don't remember the last time I woke feeling..."
"Safe?" Riddle supplied softly.
"I know." Riddle bowed his head so he was breathing in the scent of the other's hair. "It's the bond."
"I know. I just...can't bring myself to care right now."
One Month Later
Riddle felt a little ill when he woke that morning and groaned.
A head of messy hair on the pillow next to him turned over and jade eyes blinked open tiredly. "What is it?"
Riddle drew his housemate closer and closed his eyes. He felt a little better, but the illness was still there. Just what he needed. He and Potter were finally to the point where they weren't ready to tear each others' hair out over the slightest thing, but their stupid bond seemed to think they should be farther along.
A gentle hand slipped under Riddle's shirt and caressed his stomach. He bit back a moan and shot Potter a sharp look. "The bond," the younger man deduced.
"Stop it," Riddle managed to get out, pushing the soothing hand away. He could handle being a little ill, but he wasn't ready for-
Potter leaned up and kissed Riddle gently. "You can't fight it, Tom."
"Watch me," Riddle growled, trying not to think about how much better he felt after that kiss.
"Stubborn," Potter whispered before kissing him again.
Riddle groaned out his acceptance and kissed back. Damn the bond and damn Potter for not letting him suffer in silence. Though, when Riddle thought about it, it was possible that Potter had been feeling just as ill.
Potter's hands danced up under Riddle's shirt and he couldn't make himself push them away. Rather, his own hands slipped under Potter's shirt and brushed over smooth skin. It felt so good...
When Potter's hands touched the top of Riddle's pants, however, Riddle pulled away and grabbed the younger's hands in an iron grip. "No," he growled.
Potter just blinked at him.
Riddle let Potter go and got out of the bed quickly, trying to calm his racing heart.
"You're a virgin," Potter realized, knowing he was right when Riddle stiffened. "There's nothing wrong with that, Tom."
"And I take it you're not?" Riddle snapped back sharply.
Potter slipped from the bed and stretched. "On our side, we found comfort from each other in bed. I haven't been a virgin for years," he said calmly before walking to the door of the bedroom. "I'm going to make breakfast. Come down whenever you're ready," he offered over his shoulder before leaving.
Riddle groaned in the silence that came after Potter had closed the door. Why did the brat have to be so damn perceptive?!
Potter started to get worried when it had been an hour and Riddle still hadn't made an appearance. Ignoring the promise he'd made to himself not to push his housemate, the young man wandered up to the bedroom he and Riddle shared. He waited outside the closed door for a few minutes, listening. Hearing nothing within, he knocked. "Tom?"
There was no answer.
Potter frowned and stepped into the room. Riddle's clothing had been left in the middle of the room floor and the door to the adjoining bathroom was closed. Walking to the door, Potter heard the shower running and breathed a sigh of relief. He took a seat on the bed to wait for his housemate - just to be certain Riddle was okay.
If someone had told Potter, even a month ago, that he would be sitting on the bed, worried about Riddle, he probably would have told them to go see a psychiatrist. If someone had told him such a thing during the war, Potter probably would have dragged them to a medi-witch himself.
Potter sighed and let himself fall back onto the bed. So much had changed in three and a half months. It was mind-boggling, really.
The shower went off and Potter glanced away from the bathroom door. He'd been amused to find that Riddle was body-shy, but he made a point of always respecting the other's need for privacy on that account. He, himself, could care less. Sharing a dorm room with four other boys for seven years and then sharing a tent with any number of different people - many of whom he'd slept with - for two and a half years had cured him of any bouts of shyness he may have once suffered from.
Riddle stepped into the room in a towel, then froze when he saw Potter on the bed. He coughed after a moment and said, "Did you need something?"
Potter shrugged, not turning to face Riddle. "I just got worried when you didn't show up, so I came up to check on you. You can get dressed - I promise not to look."
Riddle blinked at Potter for a moment then moved forward to sit next to the younger man on the bed, still clutching the towel around himself tightly. "You were worried about me?" he inquired softly, a touch surprised. No one had ever actually worried about him before.
Potter sighed. "Yes, Tom. I was worried about you," he told the bedroom door.
Riddle touched the side of Potter's face with a faint smile. "Thank you," he whispered before getting up to get himself some clothing.
Potter glanced over and smiled at the other's back. "You're welcome," he murmured, looking back towards the door. He silently amused himself with the glance he'd gotten of the body-shy ex-Dark Lord while he listened to said man getting dressed.
When Riddle was dressed, he came to stand in front of Potter and extended a hand. "Shall we?" he inquired as Potter took the offered hand and allowed himself to be pulled to his feet.
Potter nodded with a smile. "Let's," he agreed before tugging the other man from the room.
Riddle had no clue how he was going to manage to get his housemate a present. It's not like he could say, 'Harry, would you go stand in that corner over there for me while I get something for you?' And, of course, leaving the house without Potter wasn't possible at that point.
Without any better ideas, Riddle returned to his favourite past time - he researched a way to get around the small amount of distance that could separate them. What he came up with was not helpful. The only ways to get past that part of the bond was to consummate it, as he'd feared.
Riddle was in the process of throwing a couple of books at the wall when Potter stepped into the library. "That's not the way I was taught to treat books, you know," he offered with a faint smile.
Riddle shot him a glare. "Shut up," he snapped.
Potter's smile widened. "What did you read that pissed you off so much?" he inquired as he started picking up books.
"None of your business," Riddle shot back, crossing his arms over his chest.
Potter shook his head, obviously still amused. "Trying to find a way to get rid of me?" he teased, having noted the titles Riddle had been throwing about.
Riddle stiffened minutely, then stood and stalked from the room without a word.
Potter blinked after him, confused. "Was it something I said?"
Riddle remained stiffly silent for the rest of the day. Potter ignored him, pretending that the angry silence didn't bother him.
When Riddle continued his silence the next day, Friday, Potter finally got fed up with it. He waited until dinner to bring it up, not wanting to push it while they were out in public.
"Tom, what the fuck is wrong this time?"
Riddle scowled and stabbed his fork at the noodles on his plate.
Potter set his own fork down. "What have I done that's pissed you off?"
"Nothing," Riddle muttered.
There was a loud crash and Riddle's head shot up, eyes wide in surprise. Potter had stood suddenly and his chair had fallen over backwards onto the stone floor. A bit scared, Riddle glanced up and met his furious housemate's eyes.
"Until you get your head out of your arse, I will be sleeping in my own room. I refuse to put up with your childish fits," Potter said coldly, then stalked from the kitchen.
Riddle dropped his head into his hands and groaned. Potter's birthday was tomorrow.
Potter felt horrible. It was the sort of horrible that came from being away from Riddle for too long. He buried his face in his pillow, fighting tears. It wasn't supposed to happen like this. Voldemort was supposed to be dead and he was supposed to be resting comfortably in a small cottage somewhere away from the prying eyes of the wizarding public. He wished his friends were alive. Hermione would have found a way out of this nonsense and Ron would have kept him laughing. If stupid Draco were there, he'd be complaining about his hair or going on about Neville or telling Potter what an idiot he was. And Neville would be telling Draco to stop teasing Potter. Ginny would be flirting with him playfully or joking with him about what a lovely bed mate so-and-so was. Seamus would be trying to talk him into getting drunk with him while Dean kept telling him to, "Leave poor Harry alone for once, you dunce." Fred and George would be trying to prank him, or asking him for suggestions on some new product.
Even Snape would have been welcome in Potter's ruined world. At least his harsh words would never change, never stop coming, never stop cutting only so deep. And Remus would always tell him off, hug Potter. Promise the greasy git a screw if he'd be nice to his cub for once.
Potter let out a choked sob, no longer able to hold it back. If only Riddle was there, he could hug him and make it all better...
...or at least stop being an arse...
Riddle buried his face in his hands and bit back a string of curses. He was standing outside Potter's room and he could hear his housemate crying. Potter never cried. Except for that one time, when he'd been having all those nightmares and Riddle had yelled at him for being an arse.
And Riddle wasn't feeling well, which was his own fault. Damn the bond.
He reached over and tried the door. It opened, so he poked his head in and felt something in his chest - his heart? - cry out in pain at the sight of Potter sobbing. "Harry?" he whispered, stepping more fully into the room.
"Go away!" Potter screamed, throwing his pillow blindly.
Riddle ducked the pillow and stepped up to the bed. "I'm sorry..."
Potter turned and waved his fists at Riddle angrily. "Away, damn you!"
Riddle grabbed the younger man's wrists and drew him into a hug. "No. I'm not going anywhere." He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "I was being an arse and I'm sorry. I shouldn't have stopped talking to you because I was mad at the bond."
Potter sniffled and relaxed into Riddle's hold. "Why are you mad at it?" he whispered.
Riddle rested his cheek on the top of other's head. "I wanted to get you a birthday present and I couldn't..."
Potter let out a weak laugh and elbowed his housemate in the ribs. "Idiot."
"I know." Riddle sighed. "We could go out now, I suppose..."
"Can we just go to bed early? I'm kind of tired now..." Potter mumbled, a touch of embarrassment colouring his voice when he mentioned that he was tired.
"Of course." Riddle pulled away to stand, then helped Potter to his feet.
The two walked across the hall to the room they shared and got ready for bed in silence. They climbed into the bed and Riddle drew Potter close, then kissed the top of his head. "Pleasant dreams, Harry."
"You too, Tom," the younger man replied, wrapping his arms around the other.
Riddle was staring at the contents of the fridge the next afternoon while Potter was getting the mail. He still didn't have anything for Potter's birthday. Every time he mentioned it to Potter, the bloody brat would smile knowingly, then change the subject. He was so aggravating sometimes!
"Tom, look! Look!"
Riddle turned away from the fridge and blinked at the letter Potter was waving around. "Yes?"
"It's from Albus! He's inviting us over for a small party!" Potter said happily. "Can we go?!"
Riddle sighed and let the fridge close. It was Potter's birthday, he should let him have fun. But did that mean he had to put up with the old coot? "I...guess..." he muttered, feeling like he was giving his soul away or something.
Potter jumped over, kissed him on the cheek, then scampered up the stairs.
Riddle rubbed at his nose. "Bloody hell," he groaned to himself before wandering up the stairs after his housemate.
Potter was waiting by the door, smiling and looking much calmer. He waited until Riddle had come to a stop next to him before hugging the elder man and saying, "Thanks, Tom. I know you really don't want to have to put up with Albus."
Riddle shrugged. "It's your birthday, and I was such a bastard yesterday. Anyway, I still haven't gotten you a present." He narrowed his eyes at Potter. "What do you want, anyway?"
Potter laughed and grabbed Riddle's hand. "Come on, Tom! Let's go see what sort of trouble Albus is causing this time!"
Riddle rolled his eyes and allowed Potter to drag him from the house.
"Hi, Albus!" Potter chirped when Dumbledore opened the door to his flat.
"Happy birthday, my dear boy!" Dumbledore pulled Potter into a hug, then smiled at Riddle. "It's good to see you, Tom."
Riddle snorted. "The pleasure is all mine, Dumbledore," he replied sarcastically.
"Harry's here, then?" a new voice said.
"Remus!" Potter squeaked, then snuck past Dumbledore and threw himself at the grey-haired ex-werewolf. "You're alive!"
"Regretfully," yet another voice said dryly.
"Hello to you too, Snape," Potter shot back in the same tone.
Snape looked like he was about to shoot back a sharp comment when he caught sight of Riddle, whom Dumbledore was half dragging into the house. "What's he doing here?!" the greasy man screeched.
Potter snickered. "He lives with me, Snape."
Snape just gaped at Potter while Lupin sighed. "Why?"
Potter and Riddle traded looks, then chorused, "Bond."
Dumbledore was the only one who had any inkling as to what they meant and he sighed. "Oh, dear..."
Potter smiled. "It's fine, Albus. We haven't killed each other yet, as you can see."
Dumbledore didn't look reassured. "What sort of bond formed?"
"The old arranged marriage bond," Riddle offered in a voice that was far too cheerful, as far as everyone else in the room was concerned.
"Tom!" Potter hissed, giving his housemate a sharp look. Riddle smiled innocently.
Dumbledore sighed. "I'm so sorry, my dear boys..."
"What does that mean, the 'old arranged marriage bond'?" Lupin growled, eyes flashing dangerously. Snape stood behind him, looking a little ill.
Potter got between Lupin and Riddle. "It means he's my mate, Remus. Drop it," the young man said coldly.
Riddle let out the breath he hadn't known he was holding when Lupin crossed his arms over his chest and muttered, "Fine."
"Shall we move into the dining room? There's some sandwiches and chips and cake," Dumbledore broke in, voice too cheerful.
"Let's," Potter agreed softly, not moving his eyes from Lupin's.
Lupin let out a sniff and spun on his heels. "Come on, Sev. I'm hungry," he said, grabbing Snape's arm and pulling him through the doorway they'd been standing in front of.
"Thanks," Riddle whispered to Potter and gave him a quick hug.
Potter smiled at Riddle. "I'll talk Remus around. Don't worry about it," he promised, then hurried after the ex-werewolf.
Riddle turned to Dumbledore when the man cleared his throat. "Yes?"
"How are you faring with this bond, Tom?" the old man asked seriously.
Riddle shrugged. "Smashing."
"Tom." Dumbledore sighed.
"Look," Riddle gave his old professor a dull look, "Harry and I have had our problems, but we're past them and we're doing just fine. Keep your great nose out." He turned to follow Potter.
"So you've already consummated the bond?"
Riddle stiffened. "Didn't I just tell you to keep your gr-"
"You haven't." Dumbledore settled a hand on Riddle's shoulder and wouldn't let the younger man shake him off. "Tom, don't be scared of love. This bond is giving you a chance to start over-"
Riddle snarled and jerked away from Dumbledore sharply. "Leave me the fuck alone, Dumbledore. I may have settled things with Harry, but I have no need to put up with you and your meddling." He spun on his heels and stalked after Potter.
Potter, Lupin, and Snape all looked up when Riddle stalked into the dining room. "Tom-" Potter started, rising from his seat at the table.
"Harry, he's not worth-" Lupin broke in before his 'cub' silenced him with a cold look.
Potter walked over to where Riddle had stopped to give Lupin and Snape hate-filled looks. "Did Albus say something?" he asked quietly.
Riddle shrugged. "Maybe."
"Do you want to go home?" Potter asked, eyes worried.
Riddle blinked, then forced himself to relax and shook his head. "No, it's fine."
Riddle actually smiled. "Yes, Harry. I'm sure."
Potter gave him his infamous disbelieving look. "You're going to tell me what Albus said later," he ordered sternly.
Potter snorted and smiled himself. "You're an idiot," he informed his housemate.
"I know," Riddle agreed.
Potter rolled his eyes and gave Riddle a quick kiss, then walked back over to the table, where Lupin and Snape were gaping at him. "Come on, Albus. No need to hide," he added over his shoulder.
Riddle glanced behind him and shot the older man in the doorway a look filled with venom, then walked over to the open seat next to Potter.
Riddle was sitting in the corner of the room while Potter was sitting in the middle with Lupin and Snape, opening the small pile of gifts that had been waiting for him. Dumbledore came out of the dining room and started towards Riddle's corner, making the ex-Dark Lord tense.
Potter didn't bother glancing up from the book he'd just been exclaiming over happily. "Albus, you need to leave Tom alone," he said coldly.
Dumbledore frowned, but walked over to sit with Potter and the other two. Riddle let out a sigh of relief and smiled at where Potter was watching him from the corner of his eye. Potter smiled back, then took the gift that Snape was holding out to him with a slightly annoyed look. Riddle figured the greasy man wasn't pleased with having to get his dead rival's son a gift, but the ex-werewolf had made him.
Potter laughed at the Muggle-made model of a human brain and said, "I think this is too big to be yours, sir," in an almost-respectful voice.
Snape narrowed his eyes. "One might say the same about it being yours, Potter."
"Sev," Lupin whispered.
Potter grinned and set the brain to one side. "It's fine, Remus. He wouldn't be himself if he weren't a bastard." He turned to Dumbledore while Lupin chuckled and Snape scowled. "And what did you get me, Albus?"
"Why, I got the cake, my dear boy," Dumbledore replied with a benign smile.
"I know. What else did you get me?" Potter replied, eyes laughing.
Dumbledore chuckled and pulled a small candy out of his pocket. "Sherbet lemon?"
"Albus," Snape hissed, "just give the monster his present."
"So impatient," Dumbledore and Potter chorused, shaking their heads sadly.
Snape let out a strangled sound while Lupin laughed. Riddle covered a smile - now he knew where Potter had learned the ability to handle his little fits so calmly.
Potter took the candy from Dumbledore and popped it into his mouth with a smile. "Lemony, as always."
"I find that they taste better now than they did during the war," Dumbledore offered cheerfully.
Riddle caught the sudden twitch of Potter's eye that was the only outside show of his distress and frowned. He hadn't thought that the war still bothered his housemate.
"No blood," Potter suggested in a cheerful voice.
"Albus," Lupin finally stepped in. He, too, was frowning at Potter, Riddle saw. Maybe he hadn't been the only one to recognize the minute sign of distress.
Dumbledore shot the ex-werewolf a questioning look and Lupin narrowed his eyes at the old man. Dumbledore sighed and pulled a smallish box out from behind him and held it out to Potter while Lupin glanced at Riddle. The two shared a knowing look and Lupin inclined his head to Riddle, eyes silently saying that he would let the blooming relationship between the ex-Dark Lord and his 'cub' alone. Riddle nodded his thanks.
Potter was too busy laughing over the candy bowl that Dumbledore had thrown and the gift card to a nearby candy store to notice the silent conversation, and Dumbledore was laughing with him. Snape had his face scrunched up in disgust at the two ex-war leaders.
"Let's play a game!" Dumbledore suggested excitedly.
"What sort of game," Potter responded with a knowing look.
"I have a Chemistry set upstairs..."
"Perfect!" Potter jumped to his feet, eyes shining with mischief. "Come on, Snapey, let's go play with Muggle potions!"
"Not. A. Chance," Snape growled, glaring at the two.
"Come along, Severus. Don't be a spoil sport on Harry's special day!" Dumbledore threw in, getting to his feet.
"All the more reason to stay here-"
"UP!" Dumbledore and Potter each took and arm and dragged the unwilling ex-professor up.
"Remus? Tom?" Potter inquired, pausing and looking between the two.
"I'd like to talk with Tom for a moment alone, Harry. We'll be right up," Lupin said kindly.
Potter narrowed his eyes and glanced over at Riddle. "If he bugs you, come get me." He glanced back at Lupin. "Don't bug him." Then he continued to help Dumbledore drag Snape off.
Lupin chuckled softly as he moved over to where Riddle still sat in his corner. "I was wondering what, exactly, your bond did?" he inquired in an even voice.
Riddle sighed. "It was created to the two people in an arranged marriage able to not only stand one another, but actually love one another. And fighting the bond, kills the participants."
Lupin made a face. "Wonderful. Any way to get rid of it?"
Riddle shook his head. "I've read every book I can find on the damn thing, and everything says that it has to be consummated."
Lupin's eyes widened comically. "I'm going to sound like a hypocrite here, but, have you-?"
"No." Riddle shook his head sharply.
Lupin blinked at few times, then smirked. "Scared?"
Riddle narrowed his eyes at the ex-werewolf. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"I know all about how Harry used sex as his stress outlet during the war. My cub could care less what your sex is or, at this point, who you were. The only person who could be stopping you two from consummating your bond at this point would be you, Mr Riddle," Lupin responded in a sure voice.
Riddle scowled. "Your point?"
Lupin leaned back in his seat and offered the elder man a kind smile. "Do you care for him? Love him, even?"
Riddle glanced away and fought down a sudden blush. "Yes," he hissed lowly.
Lupin stood, still smiling. "Then trust him. Harry loves you too; I see it in his eyes every time he looks at you." He rested his hand on Riddle's shoulder gently. "He fights so hard to protect you from Albus and myself, I don't think he'd ever hurt you." He left Riddle to think, walking off in search of his 'cub', mate, and old friend.
"Thanks for the party, Albus!" Potter said. He and Riddle were in the entrance way of the flat with the other three, getting ready to leave.
"Of course, my dear boy. Feel free to drop by any time," Dumbledore replied with a smile. "You too, Tom."
"Not bloody likely," Riddle muttered, earning him a knowing smile from Potter.
Lupin chuckled. "Well, you have my phone number, cub. Call me, okay?"
Potter nodded. "Sure thing. You'll have to give me your work schedule, too." He smirked at Snape.
"What was that Muggle add-on that you got, Remus? The caller-thing?" Snape asked, eyes wide.
"Caller id, Sev."
"That, yes. Could you show me how to use it when we get home?"
Potter cover his mouth with one hand and snickered. "Tom, isn't there a coin telephone outside the house?"
"Two," Riddle replied, playing along with a straight face. "One on each corner of the block."
"What's a coin telephone?" Snape whispered to Lupin.
Lupin was obviously trying not to laugh. Both Potter and Riddle burst out laughing, however. Dumbledore just smiled at all of them. "A pay phone, Severus," the old man offered.
Snape glared at Potter. "I'm never answering the phone," he declared.
Lupin didn't bother fighting his laughter, nor did Riddle. Potter winked at the greasy man with glittering eyes. "I bet you will if I keep calling every minute."
"I'm going to kill you, Potter," Snape promised in a low voice.
Potter laughed. "Tom, save me!" he cried in a high-pitched voice.
"Come on, brat," Riddle snickered, grabbing Potter's sleeve and tugging while Lupin and Dumbledore laughed helplessly.
Potter winked at Snape and held his hand next to his ear with his thumb and pinkie extended in the basic sign language for telephone, then let Riddle drag him from the flat, waving cheerfully at his laughing or cursing friends.
While Potter and Riddle were waiting for the bus, Potter glanced at Riddle and said, "You've been really quiet since Remus talked to you. He didn't say anything, did he?"
Riddle blinked at his housemate for a long moment, then smiled brightly and drew Potter into a tight hug. "Nothing that I didn't need to hear anyway."
"Oh." Potter glanced up at the darkening sky and hugged the plastic bag that Dumbledore had given him for his gifts to his chest. "Did you have fun, at least? I know you didn't really like anyone there..."
"It was fine, Harry." Riddle chuckled and gave Potter a fond look. "Did you enjoy yourself? It was your birthday party, after all."
Potter shrugged. "I suppose. It was a little too exciting for my tastes..."
Riddle rolled his eyes. "If you think that was exciting, you must not have had enough birthdays."
"Not really, no," Potter agreed. "The Dursleys didn't really care, and I was always there during my birthday because it's in the summer. And, you know, then there was the war..."
Riddle frowned, wrapped an arm around Potter's waist, and drew the smaller man against him. "Then you need more birthdays like this one, that's all. We'll have to tell the coot to find more people to invite next year."
"Tom!" Potter gave him a wide-eyed look.
Riddle smiled and kissed the top of Potter's head, then his lips. "Here's the bus," he pointed out, drawing away.
Potter snatched Riddle's hand and held it tightly in his own, then followed the elder man onto the bus. Riddle put in the change for both of them and let Potter pick where to sit. They ended up on the upper level, near the front. Potter cracked a window open so both of their hair went everywhere before resting his head on Riddle's shoulder. Riddle slipped an arm around Potter's waist again and rested his head back on top Potter's.
"You haven't pestered me about what I want for my birthday since we left the house," Potter pointed out after a few moments.
"I asked your godfather," was all Riddle said.
Potter frowned thoughtfully. "But-"
"You'll see what it is when we get home, brat."
Potter smiled and rolled his eyes at the fond insult. "This had better be good."
"You'll like it," Riddle assured him. "Now hush."
Potter's smile deepened and he closed his eyes with a happy sigh.
Riddle was up in their room, doing Merlin only knew what, while Potter was downstairs putting his new things away. The candy bowl was set in the centre of the kitchen table with the gift card inside to serve as a reminder to go later in the week. The brain found it's home as a bookend in the library. The cookbook Lupin had gotten him Potter left next to the stove after flipping through it and seeing if they had enough food in the kitchen for him to try any of the recipes the next day. They didn't, so he made a mental note to try and talk Riddle into going out with him to the grocery as well as the candy store before Friday.
Potter flipped off the house lights as he made his way up to the bedroom - his aunt had always been very strict about that. He shook his head and shoved all thoughts of his relatives from his mind. Riddle said he'd get his gift in their room, thinking about his aggravating family wasn't the way to prepare himself for his housemate's unknown gift.
When Potter entered the room, he found that the main light had been turned off and a number of candles lit the room from the bedside tables and the dresser. Riddle was nowhere in sight and the bathroom door was closed.
Curiously, Potter stepped around the bed and knocked on the bathroom door. "Tom?" he inquired, amused curiosity colouring his voice.
The door popped open and Riddle stuck his head out, toothbrush hanging loosely from his mouth. "Did you need the loo?" he asked through a mouthful of toothpaste.
Potter hid his smile behind one hand. "No, just wondering why you lit all these candles."
Riddle's eyes sparkled with mischief. "You'll see," he informed his housemate before slipping back into the bathroom and closing the door gently.
Potter decided the room looked like a scene from one of his aunt's romance movies and went to get his bed clothing on.
Riddle came out of the loo and Potter took his place. He brushed his teeth and took a leak, then flipped off the bathroom light and stepped back into the bedroom.
The place looked darker after a few minutes under the florescent lights of the bathroom, so it took Potter a moment to spot Riddle's slight form. The elder man was standing by the window, turned towards Potter, in a bathrobe that was tied loosely. Potter read the nervousness in his housemate's stance and frowned. "What is it?"
Riddle moved away from the window to stand in front of Potter, scarlet eyes bright in the flickering candlelight. He took a deep breath, then started speaking softly, "I was talking with Remus about the bond and he figured out it was me that was stopping us from consummating it." He held up a finger to Potter's lips when the younger man opened his mouth to speak, then continued, "Remus asked me if I loved you and, though I'd never even admitted it to myself, I realized that I did. I don't know if it's because of this stupid bond or what, but I've grown to love you, Harry."
Potter bit his lip and nodded. He didn't speak, however, since he sensed that his housemate had something else to say.
Riddle took another deep breath, then smiled shakily. "I sound so sappy and un-Dark Lordish." He let out a nervous laugh and Potter hugged him tightly. He pulled away and smiled, fighting to keep his voice steady. "Your godfather also suggested I trust you, and he pointed out that I had no reason to not. So..." Riddle paused and met Potter's eyes nervously. "I trust you to not hurt me or...or anything..."
Potter bit his lower lip and hugged Riddle again. "I love you, too," he whispered into the other's bathrobe when he felt arms surround him in return. "I love you so very much, Tom." He pulled back slightly and searched the scared ruby eyes. "You're sure?"
Riddle managed a true smile at that - there was clear evidence of all that Lupin had told him - and nodded. "Yes," he said in a quiet, but strong, voice.
Potter nodded and pulled out of his housemate's embrace before leading him over to the bed. He pressed Riddle back onto the bed, then pulled open the bathrobe. Riddle wasn't wearing anything underneath, so Potter leaned down and kissed his navel before sliding up to kiss Riddle's mouth gently.
Riddle only replied to the kiss after a moment, frozen in a moment of unexpected terror. Only Potter's unending patience thawed the terror, and then he was kissing back; desperate to find a safety in the only romantic act he was familiar with.
Potter soothed him, touch slow and careful. He brushed his fingers over warming flesh as Riddle's discomfort fell away, more concerned with getting his bonded - his mate, as he'd told Lupin - relaxed than he was with enjoying himself. Not that he wasn't enjoying himself. Merely touching Riddle caused a pool of warmth to form in his belly - it had since he'd admitted to himself that he was no longer tormented by the idea of the bond between them.
When Riddle let out a soft moan, Potter's hands moved to play with his partner's cock and balls, still being as gentle as he could. Riddle's hands moved up, tugging on the light shirt Potter wore to bed. Potter smiled and tugged it off quickly before returning to his gentle teasing. Riddle's fingers - long and thin - slid along Potter's sides and chest, making him shiver with excitement.
After Riddle felt that he'd mapped the entirety of Potter's chest - and he felt as though he was going to come in the other's hands - he grabbed Potter's hands and shook his head, feeling a little desperate. "No."
Potter blinked, eyes glittering with love, lust, and concern. "What's wrong?" he whispered, tugging a hand from Riddle's grip to brush against Riddle's cheek.
"I want-" Riddle bit his lip, not sure how to say what he wanted. "I want to come with... with you..." He fidgeted slightly.
Potter smiled at that and leaned down to give Riddle a slow, love-filled kiss. Then he got up, off the bed, and pulled off his pyjama pants quickly before returning to his position straddling Riddle's legs. Both ex-wizards moaned at the bond's pleasure-filled reaction to the skin-on-skin contact.
Making a split-second decision, Potter leaned forward to kiss Riddle again, one hand going back to gently stretch his own hole. He didn't want to hurt his mate if at all possible, and it wouldn't be his first time 'bottoming', as it were, so he figured it would be fine. He'd be sore in the morning, but it shouldn't be too bad.
Both men moaned when their erections brushed as Potter prepared himself. Riddle bucked up, hissing nonsense against Potter's mouth and the younger man decided he was as good as he was going to get and sat back up carefully.
"Harry..." Riddle said, voice breathless, yet whining.
Potter's lips twitched with the beginnings of a smile. "Don't move," he warned, then moved forward and carefully positioned Riddle's straining erection at his entrance.
Meaningless hisses and moans filled the room as Potter slid slowly down Riddle's shaft. The two silenced once Potter had settled himself as well as he could. After a few moments, Riddle gasped as Potter moved up, then back down again.
The two grasped at one another; hands on hands, arms, shoulders, torsos; blunt nails making marks like claws on sweat-covered skin. Ruby-red and jade-green locked and lust and love simmered in the air between them.
Their orgasms hit, sudden and hard, and the two threw their heads back, crying out their pleasure in quiet screams.
A glow surrounded the two - though neither noticed - for a brief moment, before it blasted outwards, shooting through the walls and around the globe.
Elevens Years Later
Seven men and women sat at the head of a large room, smiling towards a door where their eighth member led in a line of awed children.
"Only twelve," Riddle commented to his fellows as Tonks settled the children at their table.
Next to his mate, Potter smiled. "Twelve is more than none, Tom. At least our world can begin again."
"And perhaps," Lupin offered from Potter's other side, "they can overcome our own faults."
"To fault is to be human," Snape muttered from next to Lupin, not looking very pleased.
"Ah, but this time, Severus, they'll have someone to learn from," Sprout said from next to Snape.
"And we will teach them all we can and show them our mistakes so they won't create them again," Pomfrey said from Riddle's free side.
"You actually believe we can do this?" Kingsley asked from Pomfrey's other side as Tonks sat down next to him. He was just as sceptical about the teaching the beginning of the new Wizarding World as Snape was. If Dumbledore hadn't asked the group before his death four years previous, none of them would have been there.
"Albus thought we could," Potter replied, smiling at the group of children, all of whom were greeting one another and making friends and enemies. "Albus believed in us enough that he left us to teach these children that have what we have lost."
"Yeah, about that..." Tonks cut in, her laughing eyes giving away her joking manner.
Together the group of eight laughed, then, as one, lifted their glasses and clinked them together. "For the future," they chorused before drinking. When they caught the children looking at them, they just smiled.
A/N: Took me long enough to finish this - a little under a year, truly. -laughs nervously- I got stuck on a number of places and had to fight with it. Oops?
Not quite sure I like the ending, but I needed to wrap it up a bit, you know? Maybe I should have done a scene of Albus' funeral instead?
Oh well. Too late now.
To answer any questions now - I hope - Tom, Harry, and them didn't get their magic back. The light that followed Tom and Harry's fulfilment of the bond was the magic they'd kind of...ended, I suppose...going out to unborn children that could have been born witches and wizards if the Wizarding World hadn't been brought to a rather sudden halt. Albus got some indication that magic had returned to the world and asked those he could gather to restart Hogwarts for those children that would need to learn to use magic, even though they would never use it again themselves. They agreed, obviously.
Slowly but surely, magic should return to the world, though those who had lost it at the end of the war will never be able to perform magic again, though they might be more aware of it than the Muggles.
This is mostly beta'd by magickmaker17. Only the lemon and the last scene are un-beta'd.
Special thanks to Shivani, who read this over when I was stuck on the lemon and gave me some suggestions. I think she also corrected a few of my mistakes, but I can't really remember. -sweatdrop-
Now, I shall post this in my normal places, then get some sleep. It's almost three in the morning here and I could probably use it, 'specially since I have class tomorrow...
Your tired author,
PS: Fuck you, FFN. I'm too tired to censor this.