Pairings: None at present
Story Summary: Voldemort is dead, but in his place is an eleven year old Tom Riddle pulled out of time, with no idea what is going on.
Setting: Harry's sixth year. AU. Conforms to books 1-5, pretty much. Borrows some stuff from #6, but mostly ignores HBP canon.
Right, well. A couple of years ago now I wrote a story, The Riddle of Existence, where a young Tom Riddle was pulled into the present. Some of it was good, apart from typos, careless errors, and a hideous Mary Sue. shrugs apologetically
Anyway, apart from that, the basic idea wasn't too bad. So I'm taking the prologue from it and rewriting it for this story. This one, however, won't be too much about Harry – it's more about the anachronistic young Tom, and how he deals with the world it is the way it is now, and the person his past self became.
Substantially inspired by Who We Are and its sequels by PersephoneKore and Alan Sauer. It too deals with an anachronistic young Tom. Apart from that though, I'm writing this to be quite different.
Harry Potter limped away from the body of the white, red-eyed creature that had caused him so much grief over the last fifteen years. His leg was bleeding, and one arm dangled uselessly, but Harry still had things to take care of before he could finally rest. He stared down at the unconscious boy on the floor in bewilderment. Harry had absolutely no idea what to do with him.
He stared down into the white, unconscious face of Tom Riddle. He had slightly messy black hair and a symmetrical, faintly-cherubic face that promised to become handsome as he matured. He was rather thin, and looked slightly malnourished, in a way that reminded Harry of how he looked at that age. The boy couldn't be any older than twelve.
A shudder went down Harry's spine at the thought of what Voldemort had been willing to do to his own, younger self. "The ultimate measure to insure immortality," Voldemort had sneered at him. Killing Harry would have sealed the ritual he had planned to perform. Harry sighed and pointed his wand with his good arm.
Riddle's eyes opened and widened in fear. He tried to scramble backwards, but was too weak and disoriented to do more than move a foot or so away. Harry gave him a tired, twisted smile.
"It's alright," he rasped at the frightened boy. Now that he was awake, Riddle looked even younger than Harry had taken him to be. "I'm not going to hurt you. I'm guessing that you're from Hogwarts, too. How old are you?"
Riddle tried to speak but coughed instead. He was dehydrated and his tongue was dry and swollen. So was his throat. It made speaking difficult.
"Eleven," he finally managed to croak. He was almost in as bad a shape as Harry was. "Is that horrible wizard-thing gone?" So Voldemort hadn't even bothered to tell the kid who he was. Probably he didn't want to admit that he had once been this frightened boy. Harry wondered if even the Death Eaters knew.
"He's gone," Harry confirmed. "Come on. We need to get out of here before the Death Eaters come back."
He limped to the door and looked cautiously out into the hallway. Tom joined him as he began to descend the stairs.
"Who are you?" Riddle asked after a few minutes.
"Harry," Harry replied shortly, looking for the door and heading towards it. "Harry Potter."
"I'm Tom Riddle," Tom offered. "Thomas, really."
He received no reply as Harry was already walking outside. He followed him out and was in time to see the Knight Bus appear out of nowhere with a loud bang.
"Welcome to the Knight Bus, the – "
"We know," Harry interrupted tersely. The conductor got a good look at him.
One of the prospective passengers was dishevelled and looked half-starved, while the older one was not only extremely dirty and bleeding profusely, but also happened to be Harry Potter.
Harry ignored this.
"Here." He shoved a handful of coins at him and boarded the bus. "Make sure Tom gets some hot chocolate. We want to go to … the Ministry."
Harry had almost said Hogwarts when he remembered that the site was hidden to most people. Grimmauld Place was out, too; Riddle hadn't been given its location. Harry decided to try and Floo to Hogwarts from the Ministry. He limped heavily down the aisle and sank onto a bed, exhausted.
Tom watched timidly, unsure of what was going to happen now, before deciding to do the same. He was handed a mug of hot chocolate by the conductor and was about to take a sip – it smelled wonderful and he hadn't had a drink since this morning, and no food since the day before yesterday – when the bus took off. He was almost catapulted into the aisle but grabbed onto the bed in time. Hot chocolate sloshed out onto the mattress.
As the bus turned corners the bed slid across the floor with him on it. Tom watched their progress apprehensively.
"Time Square, Mrs Hambleton!" the conductor announced suddenly. The bus jerked to an abrupt stop. Tom's bed slammed into the one in front of it while the empty bed behind him slammed into his own. Tom leaned over to look at Harry, who was in the bed he'd crashed into, only to find him fast asleep. He shook his head and wondered how Harry'd managed it. Perhaps he'd been knocked out.
As the bus travelled, Tom learnt the trick of holding onto the bed and drinking the hot chocolate at the same time. It was difficult, because if you took a mouthful at the wrong moment then hot chocolate could slosh out of the mug onto your face, but he managed it eventually.
He was just taking the last sip when the bus jolted to a stop.
"Ministry for Magic, Mr Potter!"
Gingerly Riddle shook Harry's shoulder. Harry groaned.
"We're here," he told Harry.
"Alright, Harry said, his eyes still shut. He was weak from the amount of blood he'd lost. "Give me a minute."
Riddle did so, glad of a moment's rest himself. The bus had thrown him about a lot, and like Harry, he wasn't in very good condition right now.
"Oi!" It was the conductor, impatient with the delay. "Look 'ere, wot's taking so long?"
"I think he's really hurt," Tom said nervously, looking at Harry's white face and the large wound in his leg. "Help me get him up."
The conductor was nervous too, now; it had obviously occurred to him that there was some, admittedly remote, chance of the hero of the wizarding world dying on his bus. That was the kind of incident his superiors would take badly.
Harry groaned as they helped him to his feet.
"Hey!" said the conductor, alarmed. "You need an 'ealer, you do!"
Harry shook his head. He had to get to Hogwarts so that something could be sorted out about Tom.
"Tom," he said faintly, "help me out."
Rather unsteady himself, Tom supported Harry out onto the footpath as the bus took off with a rattle and a sputter of exhaust. They were standing in a dingy street decorated with incomprehensible graffiti and a pub further down. Close by was a cheerfully-red telephone box that Harry began walking towards. To Tom's surprise he ignored the 'Out of Order' sign and dialled.
Tom jumped violently as a disembodied voice greeted them and asked their business.
"Harry Potter and Tom Riddle," Harry said wearily. He was swaying. "We're trying to get to Hogwarts."
After a moment two silver badges popped out. Harry stuck one through Tom's collar; squinting and trying to read it upside down, Tom realised it said 'Tom Riddle' and underneath that 'Transportation Arrangements.'
With a judder the telephone box began to descend. Tom yelped in surprise, and an instantly later had to slow Harry's fall as the elder boy's legs gave out under him. The lift doors opened onto an enormous hall with fireplaces running the length of it, the floor made of polished marble and the ceiling peacock blue. Tom didn't take more than a moment to glance at it though; he was helping Harry to his feet and to the nearest fireplace.
Harry took a pinch of Floo powder and turned to Tom.
"Make sure you speak clearly," he instructed, turned to the fireplace and announced, "Headmaster's office, Hogwarts!"
Tom watched worriedly as Harry vanished in a roar of green flames. He scooped out his own handful of powder, dropping it all over his shoes, and obediently repeated,
"Headmaster's office, Hogwarts!"
Green flared around him and he shot out of the fireplace, immediately falling face-first over the body sprawled in front of it. Apparently Harry had finally lost the fight for consciousness.
Tom rolled off Harry and glanced around. Yes, it looked like it was probably the headmaster's office.
"Harry?" He shook the older boy's shoulder. Harry's head lolled, but he didn't look anywhere near conscious. Tom stood up and looked around helplessly.
His eyes came to rest on the portraits that covered the walls. He spoke to the nearest.
"Erm, do you know when the headmaster'll be back?"
There was a sound behind him. Tom turned, to see himself looking at a tall, thin old man with a white beard that stretched nearly to the floor.
The piercing blue eyes were instantly recognisable, even after fifty years.