Title: The Magical Way of Life, Writ Large.
Author: Eaiva le Fay
Summary: Harry and Voldemort are magically thrown together as they get sent from one time to another. Will they ever end up back where they started and finally be rid of each other?
Warnings: Possibly filled with a little crack. Okay, definitely. Some cussing.
Word Count: 15,800 words
Disclaimer: This is based on characters and situations owned by J.K. Rowling. No money is being made and no copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Notes: This fic was written for lj user"riddlegifts" , with the two prompts:
81. Riddle-Voldemort takes a dose of Felix Felicis. Gen, slash, or het.
148. Something goes terribly wrong at the final battle, and Voldemort and Harry are both hurled into a Quantum Leap-like state. They hop around recent wizard history trying to change events so they can break the curse... only they can't agree on which way things should be changed. Voldemort/Harry (while wearing other characters' bodies), with a slow-building relationship.
Huge hugs and thank-yous and milkshakes to my beta, Pixystick, who managed to help me out in more ways than I can count, and who had complete confidence in me even when I didn't.
Prologue: The End
"Are you sure it works that way?"
"How could this go wrong, mate?"
Harry gave Ron his best "Do you really want to test that theory?" look. He had it perfected after eight years of schemes gone wrong.
"It's coming from Hermione, Harry," Ron shrugged the look off. "I don't think she knows how to be wrong."
"Yeah..." Harry agreed. He glanced at Hermione out of the corner of his eye as he pretended to look out across the rather bleak landscape. "You're sure, Hermione?"
Ron huffed. Hermione just smiled, much to Harry's relief--she was scary when she was angry.
"I'm sure, Harry." She told him. "The only way is if... But that would never happen, I'm sure."
"If what?" Harry asked suspiciously.
"Trust me, Harry. You know I would never put your life at risk."
"Harry!" Ron said.
"You have to do something for a little extra protection, Harry." Hermione pointed out.
"I know, I know. It just seems impossible that it could work that way. There's always drawbacks to these things," Harry said.
"The only way it wouldn't work is if Voldemort took it too, in which case he would show up here somehow. At that point both your and his dose of the potion would cancel out, obviously." Hermione said.
"Obviously." Harry and Ron chorused, rolling their eyes.
"Honestly, the odds of that ever happening are astronomical."
The three looked around uneasily as Hermione's words sank in. Harry tended to attract impossible situations.
"What it comes down to is," Ron finally spoke, "we have to go in one way or the other. Are we going to go in with a little luck or without?"
Harry sighed. "There's only enough for one, so I'm going in alone."
"You know I'm right. We can hardly do this without the potion, you've been saying as much yourselves. That last horcrux almost killed all of us, and this is the last one. Probably the worst one." They looked toward the crumbling house.
"Give me the potion, Hermione."
Hermione glanced at Ron, holding an entire conversation with him in one second of eye contact. She handed the small crystal bottle to Harry.
Harry looked over the gold potion. It sparkled in the sunlight. Flipping the top off, he downed the small amount of liquid.
Voldemort glared at the blonde seated across from him. "How do you know that?"
"A trusted source, my lord." Narcissa winced. That answer would never go over well.
Voldemort leaned forward. "You do not feel you can confide who your source is to me, Narcissa?"
Narcissa tried to quell the brief thought of--
"Severus?" Voldemort positively purred the name. "He's been branded a traitor, Narcissa, but you are protecting him? From me?"
"My lord," Narcissa tried desperately to think of a way to logically defend Severus. Unfortunately, there wasn't one. "He's not a traitor, my lord. I know he isn't."
"How is that? Did he tell you so?"
The amusement in the powerful wizard's voice was not comforting. What Voldemort found funny most other people didn't. Except for Macnair and Nott, which was why Severus killed them and was currently on the run from the dark lord. That, and the... little fire he'd started. Narcissa sighed inaudibly.
"He didn't say, my lord, but I know." Narcissa dared to meet Voldemort's ruby red eyes. "You can go through all of my memories, if it pleases you. I am sure."
Voldemort accepted her offer. Two hours later, sprawled limply against her seat from the exhaustion of having him sort through her memories of the last three months, she still wasn't sure he believed her. She wasn't sure she would believe herself in his place.
"You trust your half-blood Auror niece as well, Narcissa?"
"Yes." She muttered, pulling herself up slowly to lean against the wooden table. She was beginning to doubt that this had been a good idea.
"And your plan is for me to take Felix Felicis?"
Perhaps there was a light at the end of the tunnel after all. Narcissa hoped. "It is good luck, my lord. Even if my trust in them is wrong, it will do you no harm to take it."
"You of course think Severus has not poisoned the dose you're currently carrying in your pocket."
"You could check." Narcissa insisted. "You're a master with potions, my lord. Severus learned half of what he knows from you."
"I dislike the Felicis potion." Voldemort said casually.
"Give me the bottle."
Narcissa did. She wondered what he would do with it.
Harry began the final lines of the spell that would destroy Voldemort's last Horcrux. He stood in the middle of the dining room of the Riddle mansion. An elaborate golden frame holding a portrait of Voldemort's father and grandparents, once hanging above the dining room's fireplace, lay on the floor before him. Harry knew the frame used to sit around a portrait of Rowena Ravenclaw and her children.
Harry could feel the power building in the room, concentrating around him and the frame. The spell was almost complete, only needing a few more minutes.
There was a rustling of cloth and the creak of a floorboard. Ron and Hermione promised they would wait for him outside! Harry cursed as his concentration broke, the magic slipping away from him.
At the same moment he heard a voice begin to speak,
Later Harry couldn't say whether he dropped to the ground in self-defense against the uncontrolled magic or the curse being cast in his direction. All he knew was that he was suddenly on the floor, belly crawling toward the door opposite the interloper.
And of course the interloper was bloody Voldemort himself, Harry griped silently. Why couldn't things ever go smoothly for once? Not even that, why couldn't his plans ever go only slightly awry, instead of speeding eagerly toward utter disaster?
The magic set loose by Harry rushed through the room, acting like a storm. The furniture shook and clattered under the force. The heat of wild magic pressed into his body. A crack filled the air, followed by a disturbing thump just in front of him. Harry dared to look up. Maybe his luck was changing for the better, he thought as he watched in horrified fascination as Voldemort's body fell down from the wall to hit the floor. There was a sickening crack as he landed. Harry knew from experience that at least one bone was broken.
Perhaps he's dead, Harry thought. Hope flooded him. It was crushed a moment later.
An arm shifted unerringly toward him, wand clutched tightly in hand. Red eyes slit open.
Harry hurriedly grabbed for his own wand, shouting the first curse that came to mind.
Harry wasn't sure if he'd managed to hit his intended target. He wasn't sure if Voldemort had either. The sudden dizziness that swam behind his eyes did nothing to comfort him.
Chapter 1: Reviving Prosperity
The queasy feeling subsided and Harry looked down to see what had happened. He found he was holding... "What am I supposed to do with these?!" A vague sense of worry washed over him only to be replaced by a spike of alarm as he heard the one voice he had hoped he wouldn't be hearing ever again.
"You? What am I supposed to do with these?"
Harry looked up. Professor Trelawney was staring in horror down at her chest, gripping her breasts as if they were wild monsters that needed to be restrained. But that couldn't be possible, Harry thought. The voice he had heard was... Not Trelawney. Not even female! He stared as another image slowly became superimposed over Trelawney's form. Harry's stomach sank. That couldn't possibly be good.
Trelawney--or Voldemort, Harry acknowledged with a fresh pang of worry--finally pulled her eyes from her chest, looking up to glare at him. "What fool thing have you done now, wretch?"
"--me!" Harry gaped, then fumed. "Wretch this, you corpse--"
"You damn near killed me!"
"I?" Voldemort groped for his wand. "You are the one who could not control a simple spell, while I was the one tossed against a wall--"
"Maybe if you didn't go around trying to murder innocent--"
"Albus Dumbledore, Sybill Trelawney, BE SILENT!"
The furious voice shot straight through to the core of his brain and Harry reacted on the instinct of seven years' experience. "Professor, I can explain!" was out of his mouth before it occurred to him she hadn't used his name.
Voldemort appeared to have a similar reaction. He turned to stare at McGonagall in surprise. "Minerva?"
McGonagall ignored him, or rather her, glaring at Harry instead. "I've come to expect this from Sybill, but you, Albus? This is a staff meeting, Headmaster. Playacting should be left out of the matter!"
Harry looked around at the various expressions of the teachers surrounding their spectacle. Then McGonagall's words hit him for a second time. "Albus?" He muttered weakly, looking down at himself. He no longer concentrated on the intricately carved nunchucks in his hands but noted the long white beard with an auburn strand sticking out here and there. His vision slowly slid past the blinding white mass to the hideously patterned robes beneath it. He never would have guessed Dumbledore's style of dress had improved over the decades. Harry realized dazedly he could see the outline of half-moon shaped spectacles out of the corners of his eyes. Juggling the nunchucks into one hand, he patted at his head. Yes, there was even a pointy hat. "Fuck me." Even his voice sounded like Dumbledore's.
McGonagall didn't seem impressed by his display.
"It is bad enough you are acting a buffoon without letting your tongue run loose." She informed him. "I believe you should leave. Both of you."
"I'm not leaving with him!" Harry objected flat out.
Voldemort snorted in disdain.
Minerva's eyes narrowed. "Immediately. Out. Do not come back until you have both stopped your foolish games, or do not come back at all."
A wave of magic nudged both of them toward the door. Voldemort didn't fight it, striding out of the room with an air of haughtiness that looked ridiculous on Trelawney. Harry gave up the struggle after a minute and followed him out.
Voldemort was already out of sight. Harry briefly wondered if he should be left alone, or if Harry should track him down. He decided to go to Dumbledore's office instead. If there was any place to start looking for answers, it was probably there.
Voldemort slipped into a secret corridor halfway down the hall. It was clear something was going on, and he wanted to get away from the damn Potter boy so he could work the matter out. Preferably before Potter did, which admittedly wouldn't be that difficult.
He contemplated attacking Potter, but he currently looked like Dumbledore. Others thought he was Dumbledore. And he himself looked like... Voldemort cringed in distaste. Trelawney of all people?
Voldemort rushed down a flight of stairs to the dungeons, lost in thought. He could tell his magic was affected. He felt weaker. That was the second reason he didn't bother with killing Potter. Presumably his magic levels were on par with Trelawney's, which meant Potter's currently matched Dumbledore's. It was a small blessing Potter would never figure that out.
Voldemort scowled. He did not like being identified as that damn woman. "What?"
The student looked surprised to see Trelawney down here.
"I... You hate the dungeons!" The boy seemed flabbergasted.
"I am following a vision." It was all he could do to keep from rolling his eyes. "What's that in your hand?"
"Er, this?" The boy looked down. "It's just today's newspaper, professor."
"Give it to me." He ordered. The boy handed it over, confusion written across his face. Voldemort ignored him, giving his attention to the paper. His first thought was that it simply wasn't possible, but he dismissed the disbelief as trite and moved on. The date on the newspaper indicated that he and Potter had somehow time traveled.
The headlines indicated the same thing. "Minister Millicent Bagnold to run for third term?" He muttered.
"Yes, professor. Mum thinks she's a washout."
Voldemort glared at the boy over the paper. "Go away." The student squeaked and edged out of Voldemort's view. "Bloody kids."
If he and Potter had time traveled... Voldemort frowned thoughtfully. Yet they were in different bodies. Trelawney's and Dumbledore's, to be precise. A Trelawney and Dumbledore of twenty years ago. What had Potter cast at him in the Riddle mansion? He had cast a madness curse, which clearly had not worked. Unless it had. . ?
No, this isn't madness, Voldemort thought to himself.
Voldemort sighed. But he would inevitably need Potter to get out of whatever the boy had gotten them into. Magic wasn't easily undone without the original caster. He braced himself and went to find the boy. It wouldn't be easy to temporarily make amends, but one did what one had to.
"Why are you telling me all this?" Harry demanded.
"I told you, because we need each other to fix this, boy." Voldemort said.
"You could be lying. You might have done all this as another ridiculous plot to kill me."
"Potter, my plans are better than this."
"Usually not, actually."
"Boy--" Voldemort was losing his temper. How could Potter be constantly irritating?
"We're in the past then?" Harry muttered for the sixth time as they walked down the halls of Hogwarts, heading to Dumbledore's office. It did make sense, but time travel made Harry more than a little edgy. He'd had enough experiences dealing with it.
"As far as I can surmise, yes." Voldemort sighed, tired of going through the same conversation.
"And we're in Dumbledore's and Trelawney's bodies."
"Where have they gone then?" Harry asked worriedly.
"Why should I care? My survival is more important than theirs." Voldemort said.
"They are still in these bodies, along with us." Voldemort sneered, "How you cannot feel their presence is unfathomable, unless you're truly that simple."
Harry ignored the jibe. He had ignored far worse from Snape. And honestly, what did it say about Voldemort that a school teacher was more scathing than him? "They're with us? Can they see what we're doing? How come they're not the ones in control?"
Voldemort sighed, "Your education is severely lacking, boy. They do not necessarily supersede us simply because they are the original owners of these bodies. Nor are they aware; you may think of them as sleeping."
"This isn't permanent, is it?"
"How should I know?" Voldemort snapped. "Why bother asking at all, boy? You cannot trust me!"
Harry smiled at him. "As far as I can see, we may want to kill each other, but we're in this together. So long as we're stuck here, who else can we depend on?"
"I cannot depend on you." Voldemort said flatly.
Harry ignored him. "Anyway, you should know if it's permanent. You've possessed people and things lots of times." He looked thoughtful, "Though since you're not possessing them anymore, I guess this possession stuff isn't permanent, huh?"
"Or Potter, if you prefer." Harry smiled.
"What are you on about?"
"Aren't you supposed to be a genius?" Voldemort's eye twitched. Or was that Trelawney's eye? Harry frowned.
"Harry. Harry bloody Potter. It's not that difficult. I'm not "boy" or "wretch" or "imbecile," Tom." Harry said.
Voldemort stared at him. "If you wish to be technical, you are currently Albus Dumbledore."
It was Harry's turn to stare. "Damn. We have to play along, don't we?"
"What did you think we would have to do, boy?"
"It didn't occur to me, arse!" Harry scowled. "I can't believe we have to work together."
"What makes you so sure we must?"
"Everything I've read that's even remotely like this... There wasn't much, but it was all along the lines of, we got into this together, we can only get out of this together." Harry told him.
"This was all conveniently found in Dumbledore's office?" Voldemort asked, sounding more than a little disbelieving.
Harry just shook his head. "No, not in his office, in his library." At the surprised look he grudgingly admitted, "I didn't know he had one either. It just appeared out of no where when I was in his office earlier."
"Shut up, Potter."
Harry ground his teeth. At least the bastard was using his name.
"We are going to have to improve your language, Potter. You are entirely too crude." Voldemort said.
Harry started. "Hey, get out of my head!"
"I'm not in it."
"It isn't my fault your thought processes are obvious, Potter." Voldemort waited impatiently for Harry to open the passageway to the office. He hurried up the stairs as soon as the gargoyle moved aside.
"I'm not obvious," Harry informed him, following him up, "I'm crazy. This is all crazy. But look--"
"I want to look at those books. Where is the library?"
"Potter, I have work to do, so kindly shut up and show me the library." Voldemort said coldly.
Reminded of the hostile lifestyle they would be returning to, Harry gave in. After showing Voldemort the library and specific books he had perused, Harry settled back with a cup of tea to watch the wizard. He tried to organize his thoughts, as Hermione was always trying to urge him to do.
How was this... partnership ever going to work? Harry wasn't even sure he wanted it to work.
A few hours later a knock roused Harry from his drowsy contemplation. He realized it wasn't coming from the library door, but from out in the main office. Glancing at Voldemort to see the man was still fully entrenched in his pile of books, Harry left to see who it was.
It was McGonagall, still looking unimpressed with Harry. Or rather, Albus.
"Don't bother arguing with me, Albus." She told him.
"I know we've discussed this, and you "put your foot down," but this is not an opportunity you can choose to ignore. We are going."
Minerva gave him a peculiar look, but interrupted him before he could say anything more. "No, Albus. I know you hate the woman. I do too, when it comes down to it, but you have to do what is best for the school."
"And of course he will, Minerva."
"I will?" Harry asked. He turned around to glare at Voldemort, who was standing in the doorway of the library, looking entirely innocent and overly bugged-eyed as Trelawney.
"Sybill?" McGonagall looked surprised. She glanced at Harry in question.
"Er, yes." Harry turned red. "Vo--Tr--Sybill is researching a small matter. What I mean to say is, I am assisting Sybill with some research."
"Small matter." Voldemort and Harry chorused. Voldemort sent Harry a disgusted look.
McGonagall had that peculiar expression on her face once again, Harry noticed.
"Yes, fine. As long as you're attending the meeting with the minister, Albus, I am happy."
"We." Harry said abruptly as McGonagall turned to go.
She turned back. "Pardon?"
"We, Minerva." Harry said more confidently then he felt. "As in, Trelawney and I. We shall both be attending the meeting with the minister."
"I, but Albus!" McGonagall stared.
"Brat!" Voldemort snapped at the same moment.
Harry beamed at Voldemort over his shoulder.
"Albus, you have been acting most unusually lately." McGonagall said. "Are you sure you're feeling quite right?"
"Never better, Minerva." Harry said. "Never better. Now, I am sure you have some duties to attend to? Good, good. We'll see you at dinner then." He ushered her out the door, closing it quickly behind her. Leaning against it, a strange feeling washed over him. Had he really just. . ?
"What, Tom?" Harry looked up to see the expression on Voldemort's face. "What?"
Voldemort shook his head, "You were acting just like that barmy, old coot."
Harry started, "I was, wasn't I?"
They shared an equally concerned look. It had to be the first time they felt like partners facing the same problem.
"Potter," Voldemort paused for a minute. "If I start acting like the featherbrain I am currently inhabiting, kill me. Death would be a better fate."
Harry snorted, "If I had known that is all it would take for you to bite the dust--"
"Shut up, boy."
"Now who's being crude?"
Voldemort glared before whirling back into the library. He called over his shoulder, "If we're going to some meeting with a fool minister, you better figure out when it is, Potter."
Harry groaned. "Right." He glanced over at Dumbledore's desk. It seemed the logical place to start. If he was lucky, Dumbledore kept a schedule book.
"Do you know, I don't even know what year it is," Harry said as they strolled through the main building of the Ministry of Magic.
Voldemort sneered. "It is 1982, Potter."
"What?" Harry frowned, "How do you know that?"
"Because I, unlike you, know how to pick up a newspaper, twit." Voldemort said. "It is the ninth of March, 1982."
"Oh. Then I must be with my relatives already? And you're... And Sirius!" Harry bit his lip. "It's good that we're seeing the minister then--ow! Hey!"
Voldemort dragged Harry into a closet. Harry briefly wondered what an odd picture that had to be for passersby: Dumbledore being dragged into a closet by the frail-looking Trelawney.
"What are you doing, Tom?" Harry bit back his smirk as Voldemort's eye twitched at his name.
"Boy, whatever stupid thing you want to do, don't. Quell the urge." Voldemort snapped, still gripping Harry's arm firmly.
"Why? Because you're an evil arse who enjoys seeing people suffer?"
"Because if you mess around with matters you will change the future!"
"That's sort of the idea."
"It's a bad idea."
"You cannot go around altering timelines, brat." Voldemort said patiently. "Even I won't risk what that could do."
"Even if you could keep from dying the first time around?" Harry asked, wanting to prove a point and curious despite himself.
"No." Voldemort said.
"It does not change the fact that you should not change the future."
"You can't stop me, Tom." Harry said. "I can make things better."
"People call me selfish?" Voldemort snorted.
"Even if things improve for you, have you considered what you would end up changing for everyone else?"
"One small thing--"
"Everything is one small thing to start with, Potter. Small things grow." Voldemort said. "My diary, for example. It was small thing to slip it into that girl's belongings, but by the end it caused a year of mayhem."
"That's different." Harry said.
"That was with evil intent!"
"What of Dumbledore hiring Quirrel? That was with good intent. Intent means nothing in matters such as these."
Harry glared at him. "We're running late."
"We're not going if you cannot promise to keep your big mouth shut, Potter."
"I mean it."
Harry stared. He grinned a minute later, "This is ridiculous."
"Your word, boy."
Harry sighed, "Fine. You have my word."
"Good. Start hustling, boy. We're late."
"Well?" McGonagall glared at them both over the tops of her glasses.
"It went smoothly, Minerva." Voldemort said.
"How smoothly?" Minerva asked. She moved aside as Harry and Voldemort walked up the steps to the castle doors.
"Very." Harry smiled. "There seems little point in going now, when all we could have done was given her a list of demands."
McGonagall raised an eyebrow. "She didn't sound nearly so flexible in her letters."
"Yeah, I thought so too." Harry said.
"When we showed we were willing to accommodate her, she proved to be more than willing to meet us halfway."
"More than halfway." Harry objected.
"That was lucky." McGonagall commented.
"Very lucky." Harry said, ignoring the odd look Voldemort sent him.
"Why don't the two of you tell me all that was agreed upon?" McGonagall said. "I have tea set up in your office, Albus."
"Excellent, Minerva." Harry beamed, leading the way into the castle.
It was easy enough to explain. In return for Hogwarts--particularly Albus'--endorsement during the next election, Minister Millicent Bagnold was willing to help Hogwarts get certain test projects off of the ground. Along with several new optional classes, projects to increase the efficiency of the school were going to be implemented. Harry was particularly interested in the Muggle-to-magical tour that was now going to be offered to Muggleborn children and their parents. Voldemort, Harry noticed, seemed pleased about the new attention being paid to abused children. Remembering his past, Harry found he wasn't surprised.
Harry set the letter he was working on to the side, leaning back into the comfortable chair Dumbledore employed behind his desk. Sighing and picking up the letter once more, he looked over the words for what he was sure was the hundredth time. But this is important, he reminded himself. A minute later, Harry's head thumped against the desk. He crumpled the letter.
Was Voldemort right? He wondered vaguely. Dumbledore and Hermione had both warned him about the dangers of playing with time at one point or another. He sat up straight, pulling a fresh piece of parchment toward him. No, they had to be wrong. He was sure of it. He began again,
This is going to be somewhat confusing, I think. It confuses me completely. I'm you, but I'm someone else too.
I had to warn you, you must look into Sirius Black's conviction..."
Harry groaned and crumpled the letter up. He grabbed another piece of parchment. He wrote one line: "Look after Sirius Black. His godson needs him."
"Merlin, that's going to have to do." Harry said to himself. "Please, figure it out, Dumbledore. I'm counting on your genius." He folded the piece of paper and slid it under Dumbledore's bag of lemon drops, untouched since he'd fallen into the Headmaster's body.
"Time to go see if dear Tom is sick of his books yet." Harry doubted he was.
Sure enough, when he entered the library he spotted Tom slouched over some book, nose only centimeters from the page.
"Aren't you tired of that yet?" He asked.
"Aren't you the least be interested in finding a way out of this yet?" Voldemort returned.
"'Course I am, but you're better at this research thing than I am."
"You are placing a lot of trust in me, Potter."
Harry shrugged, unwilling to admit he had been up to his own tricks over the last few hours. "Find anything?"
"I think I may have." Voldemort stood, picking up a book as he stepped away from the table. "We need to cause something to happen."
"What, you mean change the future?" Harry asked innocently.
Voldemort frowned, "I mean bring about something that would not have happened without our presence here. For all either of us know, what we do causes the future to remain on track."
"Any idea what that something is?"
"I would have thought it was the meeting with the minister." Voldemort said.
"That's right!" Harry brightened. "Dumbledore didn't want to go to that meeting for some reason. So when do we go home then?"
Voldemort rolled his eyes, "Idiot, if that had been the 'something,' we would be back in our time now. It should be near instantaneous."
"But if that wasn't the thing..."
"Yes, I'm aware: then what is? According to these notes, we should have been brought to the general time the incident we are supposed to affect happens."
"We couldn't have missed it."
"Oh." Harry looked around the room, feeling a little dizzy. "Perhaps the meeting was one of the incidents?" He groped for a chair. "What if we're meant to do two things?"
"Potter, what have you done now?"
Harry frowned, "I haven't done--"
Chapter 2: P is for Playmate
"--anything." Harry looked around. Why was Dumbledore's office suddenly filled with grass?
It may have been filled with grass because it wasn't Dumbledore's office anymore. It was a park. "...Tom? Um, Trelawney?" Harry called. Then he heard his own voice. He looked down at himself. Or herself, if the powder-pink shirt, matching shoes, and denim skirt was anything to go by. Then there were the two candy bracelets he was wearing, and--he patted his head--and the long, curly hair. "Oh, crap."
It was odd to hear cussing coming from a girl that couldn't be more than nine or ten.
"Potter, have you no sense of decorum?"
Harry looked toward where the young voice came from. A blonde girl of eight was looking at him reproachfully. It was Voldemort. Harry almost felt relief. "You've got pigtails, Tom."
Voldemort's expression turned into a glare. It would have been scarier if he wasn't a four-and-something foot girl wearing a tie-dye shirt and grass-stained skirt.
Harry started, "Luna?"
Voldemort stared. "What?"
"You're in Luna!"
"Lovegood. A friend of mine from Hogwarts. She married George Weasley. Or Fred. No one is quite sure which."
"Of course. How foolish of me to not notice." Voldemort said dryly.
"Luna? Where are you? You promised you wouldn't run off this time." The feminine voice was calling from behind a row of trees.
"What should we do?" Harry asked.
Voldemort raised an eyebrow, "We are currently residing in two children who do not have enough years between them to make an adult. Stay here if you like, but I'm going to go look for that voice."
"Why aren't be back in our own bloody bodies?" Harry followed as Voldemort headed for the trees. He paused to look at his traveling companion. For some reason he saw the young Luna more than the form of Voldemort. That worried him. Was this becoming permanent? "Tom, you said we would end up back home when we did whatever we had to do!"
"Then logic tells us what, Potter?"
"That we should be home, but we're not, so you're wrong." Harry scowled.
"No. It tells us that we have not done everything we are supposed to." Voldemort gave an impatient sigh. Harry made a rude gesture at his back. "Stop acting your current age, Potter."
"Hey, how did you..." Harry ran to catch up. "All right, Tom, can you see me or the girl I'm residing in?"
Harry looked around for the woman as he said. "Well, I see a little girl more often than not. What if it means we're starting to get stuck like this?"
Voldemort gave him a surprised look. "That's almost intelligent of you, boy."
"Hermione, language!" A shocked voice said.
They turned around to see two worried women. One was a blonde who was clearly Luna's mother, if the dreamy eyes and carrot earrings were anything to go by. The second woman was a slightly younger brunette, wearing Muggle clothing meant for a casual outing. She had to be the second girl's mother.
"Oh. Hermione?" Harry asked weakly.
The brunette frowned in disappointment at him. "You know better than to curse like that, Hermione."
"Sorry." He muttered. He glanced at Voldemort. "Luna, you think..."
"No." Voldemort said curtly. "Ah... can Hermione and I, er, play for a bit longer?"
The pair of mothers exchanged looks. "I'm not sure," Hermione's mother said slowly, eyeing her daughter reproachfully.
"Oh, let them, Helen." Luna's mother smiled. "They get to meet so rarely, and this is Luna's birthday."
"It is? Her eighth?" Harry muttered. Tom grabbed his hand and dragged him away before either woman could comment.
"You must be the most idiotic--"
"Why'd you want to play with me then?" Harry said, not really paying attention. He was too preoccupied with something he couldn't put his finger on.
Harry looked up. "What?"
Voldemort actually looked uncomfortable. Harry supposed it wasn't difficult to do with a kid's face. "I do not..." He scowled. "Children are not my area of expertise."
"So?" Harry frowned. "You are a child, you're not studying one."
"Don't be an idiot, Potter. I'm telling you I do not know how to act like one!"
"What do I do?" Voldemort asked.
Harry stared at him. "I don't know. Every time I picture you acting like a kid I get the urge to giggle. Look, were you saying earlier that we might actually get stuck here?"
"What? No. Now, we are talking about me now, boy." Voldemort snapped. "I am fairly positive I cannot giggle."
Harry giggled. "Please don't try. I won't be able to recover from it."
"Hermione, Luna, it's time to go!" Helen called from a bench she and Luna's mother were sitting on. Luna's mother appeared to be working a piece of metal wire with a pair of pliers.
"Look..." Harry said, heading toward the bench. "Just, um, wing it? How are we going to figure out what we have to do here, Tom?"
Voldemort looked put out. "Wing it, Potter."
"We're spending the night?" Harry asked in surprise.
"You're spending the weekend, honey." Helen corrected. "But you've known that all week. It's all you've been able to talk about." She ran a hand over her daughter's forehead. "You're sure you are feeling well, Hermione?"
"Yes, mum." Harry said quickly. "I was kidding!" Helen gave Harry a studious look. Harry finally understood where Hermione got it from. "I promise, mum."
"Good." She pulled Harry into a hug. "I'll see you Monday afternoon, dear."
Harry hugged back, "I love you, mum."
"I love you too, Hermione."
As Helen drove down the dirt road, heading away from Luna's house, Tom turned to Harry, shooting him a dirty look. "Clearly a person must be of low intelligence to be able to act like a child."
"You're just upset I can do something better than you, Tom."
"Are you two playing a new game?" Luna's father walked out onto the porch, a plate of cookies balanced in one hand and two glasses of milk in the other. He nodded at the food and winked, "Just don't tell your mother."
"Thanks, dad." Tom looked distinctly uncomfortable. Harry tried not to snigger.
Mr. Lovegood patted his daughter on the head. "Dinner in a few hours, kids. Now, Hermione, "Tom," don't get into too much trouble around the house. Angela is working on her secret project again."
Harry frowned, "Secret project, Mr. Lovegood?"
"Call me Calib, Hermione." Mr. Lovegood beamed at him. "Luna--oh, I'm sorry, I mean Tom's mum is always creating new spells. It's to help unlock the hidden secrets of magic. She is a firm believer that we could all see kubble sneck walkers if we only had the right spell for it." He headed back into the house.
"...Kubble sneck walkers?" Tom asked. He looked more than a little disoriented.
"Oh, you get used to that." Harry once again had the niggling feeling he should be remembering something. "Luna's like that too. Tom, is this her eighth birthday or her ninth?"
"How the hell should I know, Potter?" Tom demanded.
"You're the one in her body. Can't you tell?"
"I suppose you know how old Hermione is?"
"Ah, you're playing a game of body snatchers!" Mr. Lovegood said excitedly.
"Yes, dad." Tom said hurriedly.
At the same time Harry said, "Er. Yes, Mr--Calib." They both grinned and hoped he bought it.
They really didn't have anything to worry about. "This sounds like fun. For the rest of the night I am not Calib Lovegood. I am Richie Walker from the planet Bozar."
Harry blinked. Tom stared at his cookies.
"Mr--Richie." Harry nudged Tom, "we're both, um, playing body snatchers all week, if you want to play too."
"Splendid! Angela will love this game too. Now, I came out to see how chicken sounded for dinner." Calib beamed down at them.
"Sounds great!" Tom smiled up at Calib. "Thanks, dad!"
Calib nodded, "and by the way, Tom, ah..." He glanced at Harry.
"It's Harry." Harry grinned.
"Ah, yes, Tom and Harry. Hermione is ten now, and Luna has just turned nine." Calib smiled. "Call when you're done with your snack."
After he had gone Harry looked over at Tom. "You smiled! It was very convincing."
Tom waved him off, "Calib knows, Potter."
"He doesn't know exactly."
"You gave him your bloody name."
"He thinks it's a game!"
Tom huffed, "Why are our bodies' ages so important it was worth revealing us for?"
"I don't know." Harry said.
Harry shrugged. "I don't. There's something about Luna and the age nine... I feel like I'm not remembering something I should."
"Well, try not to reveal everything else about us while you try to recall it." Tom snapped, standing.
"Where are you--"
"None of your bloody business!"
"Good morning, my little body snatchers!" Calib called from the bottom of the stairs. "Time to rise and shine."
"I wish he would stop waking us that way." Voldemort hissed from under his daisy covered comforter.
"Better than the ground shaking and little bits of plaster falling on your head." Harry offered from his side of the bed.
"...it's too early for your random bits of idiocy, Potter." Voldemort informed him.
"Come on, the both of you! We must celebrate Luna's fourth day of being nine!" Calib called. "There is toast! Bacon! Eggs! Freshly squeezed juice!"
"It better not be squash juice again." Voldemort kicked off the covers.
"You look ridiculous as a little girl." Harry said.
Voldemort paused in what Harry was learning was his morning ritual of testiness to stare at Harry in disbelief. "Idiot."
"It's an improvement at least." Harry sat up.
A loud rumble filled the air and a moment later the house shook gently.
"Angela does get an early start, doesn't she." Voldemort said waspishly.
Harry frowned. "Tom... I think I remember what I'd forgotten."
Harry jumped out of bed, yanking on his purple bathrobe. "Sorry! I meant, I remember what I'd forgotten about Luna's mum! We have to get upstairs!" He grabbed Voldemort's arm, yanking him toward the door.
Voldemort dug his heels in. "What exactly do you remember?"
"Tom--" Harry stopped himself. The longer they argued, the longer it would take to get moving. "Luna's mother died when she was little; when she was nine. We must be here to stop that from happening!"
"A likely assumption." Tom frowned. "Though why that is such an important event--"
"Does your lack of interest in human life matter this instance?" Harry demanded.
"One, we have no idea when she dies. Two, we have no idea how, do we?"
"You said yourself that we should be arriving around the general time of when something occurs, and she dies in an experiment gone wrong. An explosion." Harry said impatiently.
Voldemort frowned, "I still do not know what we did to get transported out of the last experience, so I can't say--"
"Shut up and come on. Or stay. I'm going up." Harry snapped, dashing out of the room.
Voldemort sighed and followed. If Harry had been paying the least attention he would have heard the wizard muttering about being dragged into "do-gooder affairs."
"She won't answer the door." Harry said when Voldemort arrived on the scene. He pounded on the wood once more. "Mrs. Lovegood, please open the door!"
"For the love of--stand aside, would you?" Voldemort ordered.
Harry, much to his surprise, found he did without a thought.
Voldemort pointed his hand at the door, " Alohomora!" The door flung itself open, slamming into the wall with a bang.
"...did I know you could do that?" Harry asked.
"Wandless magic is not that difficult." Voldemort said, stalking past him into the room. Harry rushed in after him. "Mrs. Loveg-- mum, we need to go outside right now."
"Luna, go downstairs and eat your breakfast. This is no place--Hermione, let go of my arm!" Angela looked at the children in shock.
"Harry," Voldemort nodded toward the cauldron that was smoking and throwing off sparks. "I believe we should leave."
"Yes, you should!" Angela sounded exasperated. "I have work I would like to finish before lunch."
"Tom," Harry found himself pleading as he dragged on Mrs. Lovegood's arm. There was definitely a downside to being ten years old.
"Er, mum, I need to show you something in my room. Right away. It doesn't look at all right." Voldemort said, pulling on Mrs. Lovegood's other arm. After a long minute he added, "Please?"
"You'll both let me get back to work if I go look at this thing?"
"YES!" They chorused.
Angela gave in, heading to the door briskly. Harry stumbled. Voldemort glanced at the cauldron that was now bubbling so harshly it was slopping over onto the countertop. He moved faster.
They were halfway down the hall when the attic potions lab exploded. The force slammed into them from behind. All three of them went flying.
"You know, I'm beginning to think I could actually like you." Harry groaned ten minutes later from where he was sprawled on the floor. Plaster rained gently down on him. "And that's what I meant about waking to plaster."
Chapter 3: Every Goddam Sunday
Voldemort would never admit that he found himself--even only if ever so slightly--enjoying Potter's company. Potter, loath as he was to admit it, was probably the only person who knew almost everything about him, which made him semi-decent company by default.
He was just settling on a snappish comeback to Potter's soppy blathering when it occurred to him that the wooden floor the explosion had thrown him against now felt a great deal softer. The light was much dimmer. And Potter hadn't said anything for the past several minutes. Voldemort frowned.
Pushing himself up onto his elbows, he looked around the dimly lit room. He was not at the Lovegoods' residence anymore. In fact, the walls suggested he was currently residing in Hogwarts. Looking down, he saw he was no longer in a little girl's body, but a adult, male, and very familiar form. "The best body yet, which still leaves much to be desired." Voldemort said to himself, in the low voice he was expecting, but was still shocked to hear.
The bedroom was empty except for himself. That did not surprise him in the least. Snape never struck him as man who kept much company in his bedroom. The fact that he was alone did make him wonder where Potter was. So far they never ended up very far from each other when they jumped. Voldemort sighed, he'd better go find the damn boy. Who knew what Potter would get up to without supervision.
He strode to the door and flung it open. It was the door to the bathroom. He stormed over to the only other door, walked halfway across Snape's living room, and realized he was wearing nightclothes.
A knock came at his door. Voldemort cursed, finished his walk across the room, and opened the door. "What do you want?" A blond dressed in frilly, bright blue robes blinked at him.
"I was just standing here..." The blond looked completely confused. "...Snape?"
"Who the hell are you?"
"Er. I don't know." He looked down at himself. "Oh god, no."
"Potter." Voldemort finally identified him. He couldn't see the image of Potter superimposed over the pompously dressed man at all.
Harry looked up at him through baby-blue eyes. "Tom!" He sounded relieved. "You look like Snape."
"Still keenly observant, I see." Voldemort said waspishly.
"Do I really look like who I think I am?" Harry asked.
Voldemort rubbed his temples. "I have a splitting headache. I am without doubt that you are the cause of said headache. Stop speaking nonsense, Potter!"
Harry started. "Lockhart, Tom! I think I'm Lockhart! Please, just. Kill. Me. Now."
Voldemort grinned evilly. "Is that an invitation?"
Harry paused uncertainly. Voldemort realized Potter was actually considering the question. "Your current host is that dreadful?" He looked him up and down. "He does look as though he would be extremely obnoxious."
"Stop doing that." Harry felt ill. "It's bad enough I'm stuck in... this, but I don't need you to look and talk like Snape on his happy pills!"
Voldemort raised an eyebrow.
"Don't ask." Harry said. "And why can't I see you? I could barely see you in Luna, and now I can't see you at all! Can you see me? So help me, if I'm stuck in Lockhart, you better kill me!"
"Clearly, what we were meant to do was save Angela Lovegood." Voldemort said. "We came here immediately after the explosion."
"My ears are still ringing. I wish the, er, jumps, wouldn't be so abrupt," Harry sighed. "It's the most awful sensation."
"You haven't experienced much, Potter." Voldemort said. "I assure you, there are many worse sensations you could experience."
Harry wrinkled his nose, "And I'm sure you've experienced most of them." He looked around Snape's room, fingering the cup of tea Voldemort had offered him earlier as they sat in two armchairs placed in front of the fireplace.
"Not what you expected?" When Harry looked at him, Voldemort nodded at the room. "The decor."
"Oh, not really. I expected chains hanging from the ceiling, I suppose, and the heads of mysteriously vanished Gryffindors mounted on the walls." Harry grinned, flushing with embarrassment.
Voldemort stared at him.
He shook his head slightly, "Why are you always so damn honest with me, Potter?"
Harry looked genuinely surprised. "I, uh, don't know?" When all Voldemort did was continue to stare with that inscrutable look, Harry continued, "There's never been much point in lying to you. You always know when I try. So it's... just become habit to tell you the truth."
"Typical Gryffindor." Voldemort said, ignoring the uncomfortable feeling of understanding exactly what Potter meant.
Harry ignored the jibe. "What do you think we have to change this time?"
"Why should I have any idea?"
"Just asking." Harry frowned. "I would like to be in this body for as short a time as possible."
"This Lockhart is that awful?"
Harry smirked, "He would hate to think you have never heard of him, Tom."
"I haven't." Voldemort shrugged, "But I do not usually keep up on trivial matters."
Harry's smirk broadened, "I almost wish Lockhart could hear you."
Voldemort rolled his eyes. Could Lockhart be that much of a twit? "Thus far, one of us have ended up in people who have a direct involvement of what we are supposed to change. Dumbledore went to the meeting as opposed to not; Luna's mother's life was at stake. Presumably, one or both of our hosts has some involvement on what we're meant to change. The first thing we must do is find out the date. There may be important issues going on."
Harry looked uneasy. "Lockhart taught Defense my second year. This must be 1992. It's also the year Ginny had your diary and the Chamber of Secrets was opened again."
"Must everything surrounding you be eventful?" Voldemort demanded.
"What do you mean?" Harry said indignantly. "This is not my fault!"
"Every year a variety of unbelievable scenarios fall into your lap--"
"Ha! That's as much due to you as anything or anyone else." Harry glared at him. "I'm inclined to let you deal with this event by yourself. Besides, I don't fancy running into my twelve-year-old self."
"It would go just as well, if not better." He muttered. "And has it occurred to you, Potter, that you can't not teach? Lockhart has a job to do here."
Harry cringed. "I don't think I could fake being as bad a teacher he was."
Voldemort frowned, "Perhaps teaching has something to do with this 'jump'?"
"You keep saying, anything could be the event we're supposed to alter." Harry said.
"It would help to have an exact date."
"Snape gets the Prophet, doesn't he?" Harry looked around. "There's one on his desk, I think."
Voldemort summoned it to him. He tossed it to Harry. "It seems pretty clear what we are here to do."
The headline read in bold print:
Staff Can't Handle Prank
Harry blinked, "Prank?"
"That's better than informing the population their children have been attending a school where monsters reside." Voldemort said. "I imagine the minister killed the original article and had them put this out."
"What do you mean, the minister killed the story? The ministry's never been a fan of Dumbledore's way of managing Hogwarts. And you mean monster, as in singular." Harry said. When Voldemort remained silent Harry added, "...right? Tom? Singular. One monster, right?"
"Fudge was never a fan of Dumbledore, but he was no fool either. He would never let anything into the press that would harm his image." Voldemort said. "We had better get to it, Potter."
"TOM! Singular, for the love of--just say the word singular, and I will be happy."
Voldemort looked him in the eye. "Surely you know better than to believe that, Potter. You are not that ignorant."
"I was until a minute ago!" Harry cried. "You know, sometimes I think wizards are the stupidest--"
He glared at Voldemort as if he was somehow to blame for all this. It wasn't, Voldemort had to admit, an unreasonable assumption, however incorrect.
"What is it exactly?"
"Rowena Ravenclaw's," Voldemort said. "And theoretically immortal. Or long-living enough for a human to consider it immortal, similar to the basilisk. That is all I know, Potter. Oh, and speaking of," Voldemort waved at the newspaper. "Shouldn't we get to it?"
"Fine." Harry snapped. "Assuming you have a plan, because what we can do about a newspaper article--"
"Don't be a twit, boy. We are not doing anything about the article. We are going to go restrain the basilisk." Voldemort said.
"How does that affect anything." Harry asked. "Oh, stop looking at me like that! I know it changes parts of the future a great deal, but it hardly keeps the current article in the paper from existing, and it doesn't change what has already happened. Aren't we supposed do something to keep the school from closing?"
"Stopping Brynmor will keep the school from closing. Stop the attacks, save Hogwarts."
"That thing has a name?" Harry said indignantly.
"What, did you expect Slytherin called him 'it' all of the time?" Voldemort snapped.
"Great. Look, I lived through this, if you'll recall. You didn't. You were currently a thing floating about Brazil, or wherever--" Harry's voice disappeared. He tried to continue. When nothing came out, he glared at Voldemort.
Voldemort looked smug. He felt smug. He finally shut the brat up. "We are doing this my way, Potter."
Harry was fuming quietly to himself as he waited for Voldemort outside Snape's office. He really didn't have any other choice. For whatever reason, he couldn't undo the spell Voldemort had muted him with.
He rifled through the newspaper article they had brought with them. Harry felt determined to find some proof that he was right, and Voldemort was wrong. Reading through the paper, he frowned, blinked, and frowned harder.
He groped in his pocket, searching for the handkerchief he had noticed earlier. A piece of paper fluttered out instead. It was just as well. Concentrating on the peculiar newspaper was beginning to give him a headache. Picking up the note off the floor, he looked it over, feeling confused.
Every Goddam Sunday, by Gilderoy "Lovesick" Lockhart? Harry felt ill as he read through the note, which wasn't actually a note. It was a love poem. For Snape.
"Your poison-tipped tongue drips words of music to mine ears?" Harry mouthed. His stomach churned.
A voice read over his shoulder, "'Every goddam Sunday, you gripe at me.' If only you knew what your sweetly sour words--"
Harry jumped so high he was surprised he didn't hit the ceiling. He shoved the note back into his pocket, whirling to stare in horror at Voldemort's amused face. Or rather, Snape's amused face. It only made the entire thing worse.
"--did to me." Voldemort finished, grinning evilly. "A love poem, Potter? For me?"
"Shut up." Harry was beet red. "Lockhart wrote it. For someone. Who isn't you." Then he remembered Voldemort couldn't hear him.
"I am surprised you don't have Lockhart loves Snape tattooed on your forehead." Voldemort was still grinning evilly. His smile was so wide Harry was inclined to call it a beam. An evil beam.
"Shut. Up." He mouthed slowly and clearly.
Voldemort chuckled, casually wrapping an arm around Harry's shoulders. "One of us has to talk, Potter, and since you're inclined to silence..."
Harry elbowed him in the side and decided to keep his odd newspaper experience to himself. Not that he had any other choice.
Voldemort led the way to the Chamber of Secrets. From what he could gather from Potter's silent, sullen gestures, he was only aware of the bathroom entrance, which made Voldemort the resident expert on the Chamber. It still amazed him the things Potter had accomplished by sheer luck alone.
Glancing back at the subject that was currently on his mind, he saw Potter eyeing the newspaper article. Again. "What is so damn fascinating about that article, Potter?"
Harry glanced up at him, motioned at his throat, shrugged, and smirked.
"Twit." He muttered. He glared at Potter, who had returned to his paper. The need to know was stronger than his amusement at Potter's forced silence, so he quietly reversed the spell. "Well?"
Harry raised an eyebrow.
"You are able to talk, or have you become so enthralled with the Prophet that you haven't noticed?" He said irritably.
Harry narrowed his eyes, but attempted talking. "It's peculiar. I would have mentioned it earlier, but you were too busy having a chuckle over that damn poem to pay any attention."
"You never implied anything was 'peculiar,' Potter." Voldemort tapped the wall they arrived at with Snape's wand. The wall disappeared to show a small, dark corridor. Lighting his wand, Voldemort walked forward. "And why you can't find any amusement in the note is beyond me. Snape being wooed by a man like Lockhart is hysterical."
"It is not hysterical; it's horrifying." Harry corrected. "My name is not Potter, it's Harry. I would have told you about the paper if you weren't such a bloody arse."
"What is the problem with the paper?"
Harry waved it at him. "Look at it! It... slides out of focus. Every time I try to read it, I find I can't see what it says!"
Voldemort frowned in puzzlement, halting in his trek down the hidden corridor. "The words skitter out of place."
"That's what I said."
Voldemort muttered a charm over the article. Nothing happened. His frown deepened. "I'm not sure it's a spell at all."
"What else could it be?" Harry said. "Papers don't usually act like that."
"We are essentially time traveling." Voldemort said. "We have been purposely altering the future. We appear to be meant to, for whatever that's worth."
"I don't see what our traveling has to do with this paper. Or why we can't read the article when the headline is perfectly clear." Harry scooted past Voldemort--it was a tight corridor--to look at the article again.
Voldemort gave him a supremely irritated look. "The possibilities to what magic can affect are endless. Your education is lacking, it is a wonder you managed to pass your exams. Unless Hogwarts' curriculum has gone that downhill."
Harry sighed, "It may come as a surprise, but not everyone is born a genius, or whatever it is you and Hermione were born as."
Voldemort shook his head, muttering under his breath. "It is not a matter of intelligence, Potter, and do not dare to tell me otherwise. I already know you have a perfectly capable brain, you simply refuse to exercise it."
"Was that a compliment?" Harry stared at him.
"It was an insult. Pay attention."
"It sounded like a compliment to me."
"Which is only more evidence that you do not use your head." Voldemort pushed him forward. "Do we or do we not have some problems to take care of?"
"We're not killing it?"
"No, Potter." Voldemort said for the seventh time. "Brynmor is an ancient and noble creature. You do not simply decide to off it."
"You are not one to talk--"
Voldemort interrupted. "I shouldn't think that counts."
"You murdered--" Harry started again.
"I wasn't in control of my senses." Voldemort said easily.
"Oh, well that's all right then!" Harry glared. "You can't just--and do not interrupt me--"
"You're fully aware of the... circumstances--"
"Being a stupid genius does not clear you of responsibility for your actions." Harry said.
"This argument may well be a moot point in any case." Voldemort pointed out.
"What, why?" Harry asked.
Voldemort shot him an impatient look. "When will the term 'time travel' sink in with you?"
"Oh. Right." Harry flushed. "We're changing that much?"
"You don't want to?"
"Well, no, that's not what I meant. We don't seem to be changing very big things. A few classes for Hogwarts, a mother's second chance..."
"We don't need to change big things, Potter." Voldemort said. "Little things have the tendency to turn into big things."
They sloshed into the Chamber of Secrets. Voldemort grimaced. "It never used to be so damp."
"It connects to the pipe system--"
"There are charms to keep the water out. I hadn't realized the spells were so eroded. Dumbledore should be taking care of the castle's magical system." Voldemort said.
"So now that we're here, you sure we're not going to kill it?"
"No, you're not sure--"
"No, we're not going to kill him!"
Harry held up his hands. "I was only wondering what we're going to do then! There doesn't seem to be another choice for a barmy basilisk."
"He's not crazy, he is under the control of my memory." Voldemort said.
"Why don't we kill your memory then?" Harry said. He sounded a little too cheerful for Voldemort's liking.
"Potter." Voldemort asked, frowning at something in the distance. "Is there a redhead standing up ahead, or have you finally driven me mad?"
Harry looked ahead. "That's Ginny!" He glanced over at Voldemort. "The girl your memory is possessing."
"Of course this couldn't be easy." Voldemort said. "Typical."
"If you're agreed your diary is a problem, this is probably the easiest way to handle everything." Harry pointed out.
"Unless she sends Brynmor after us."
"Can't you control it?" Harry demanded.
"He can be a little one-minded." Voldemort said.
"Great." Harry said. "A quick and dirty plan B then."
"I can't wait to hear this." Voldemort said dryly.
"You don't get to have an opinion." Harry informed him. "Plan B: We sneak up on her."
"Brilliant, Potter." Voldemort said. "I thought we might hit her with an immobilizing curse, but trying to sneak up on her in a large, echoing chamber inches deep in water is the better plan."
Harry blushed, "That could work too, I suppose."
Voldemort rolled his eyes. With a flick of his wand, the girl, Ginny, was falling to the floor. "After you, Potter."
It wasn't difficult after that point. Potter checked the girl's pulse before digging out his diary from her pocket. Voldemort destroyed the book himself. It was bad enough to hear the shrieks of his memory dying without watching Potter do it.
Taking care of the basilisk, much to Harry's disbelief, was the easiest part. Voldemort spoke to the statue, which locked itself shut. He would have preferred convincing the king of snakes to stop the killings, but Voldemort knew he couldn't guarantee Brynmor would trust or listen to him. After all, his body, Snape's body, would have been completely unfamiliar. He silently promised himself he would return after all of this was over to talk with him.
Harry, of course, muttered about Brynmor still being a risk. Voldemort tuned him out as they walked back the way they had come until Potter commented on the fact that they hadn't jumped out of this time yet. The brat had a point.
"Doesn't that mean that we are supposed to do something else?" Harry asked innocently.
"Obviously." Voldemort turned to frown at him, but the girl's body hovered in the way.
Harry continued on, oblivious. "Such as, oh... keeping people from closing the school?"
They exited the hidden corridor and turned right, heading in the direction of the infirmary.
"What we must change now could be anything." Voldemort said. They turned the corner only to run into McGonagall and Flitwick.
"Ah, Minerva!" Voldemort said
"Severus? Professor Lockhart? Ms. Weasley!" She rushed to the girl's side. "What on earth has happened?"
Voldemort smiled widely, "The monster has been taken care of, and whatever Lockhart may say in the future, it was all my doing."
Harry glared at him, "Hey--"
Chapter 4: The Magical Way of Life Writ Large
This time, Voldemort noted, the jump felt much more jarring, as though he had been speeding toward his destination and couldn't slow down fast enough.
He was sitting down here, at a dining table with a plate of half-eaten food before him. He was occupying the body of a well-bred man, if his masculine, but manicured hands were anything to go by. He looked across at his dining companion. It was Narcissa--that would make him Lucius, he was sure--and she looked about as disoriented as he felt.
Narcissa looked up at him, "Tom, I hope?"
Voldemort mentally smirked. "Who is Tom, darling?"
Narcissa froze for half a second. "It's not important... Lucius. If you will excuse me." She stood. The look of pure shock that crossed her face made him grin. He suppressed the grin into an innocent smile.
"Is something the matter, Narcissa?"
"No." She squeaked. She cleared her voice, "Ah, no. No. You know what . .dear, I believe I--I'm still hungry." She sat.
"Narcissa does enjoy unusually high-heeled shoes, doesn't she?" Voldemort said casually.
Narcissa, or Harry, started. "Wha--Tom! You bastard!"
"You were unable to tell it was me at all?" Voldemort asked.
"Well, at first I thought I... I thought you were, well, you. Then you pretended not to be." Harry said. "You can tell it's me?"
"Yes." Voldemort said. "But only because I know Narcissa well, and you act nothing like her."
"I'm taking that as a compliment."
"She's a good woman." Voldemort gave Harry a surprised look.
"She's cold." Harry said.
"To you, perhaps, and you could hardly expect her to act otherwise." Voldemort said.
Before Harry had the chance to respond, the door to the dining room slid open. A young woman hurried in, carrying a toddler. The child was tugging at her neatly pinned back hair, pulling it out in strands. She set him down on the table as they watched her in silence.
"I quit." She informed them, looking toward Narcissa and avoiding Lucius. "No offense, ma'am, but your son..." She grimaced as the four-year-old Draco poked at her with a fork. "There is nothing--nothing--either of you can do to me that is worse than dealing with him a minute longer." She looked back and forth between the two.
Voldemort looked to Harry, who looked back at him. Harry turned back to the girl, "Okay." He said. Voldemort coughed to suppress his laughter; the nanny looked utterly stunned.
Harry nodded, "Okay."
"You're not..." She trailed off.
"Dear Draco can be a handful." Harry said, perfectly cheerful. "If that's all you wished to say..?"
"Oh!" She squeaked, muttered something that sounded like 'goodbye,' and dashed out.
Much to Voldemort's surprise, Harry quickly got up to pick up Draco. He noticed Harry had kicked off the high heels.
"She doesn't seem to have been a very good nanny." Harry said.
"What makes you say that?"
"She just left him sitting on the table! He could have fallen. She let him play with sharp utensils. She didn't stop him from tugging out her hairpins, which he could have choked on." Harry frowned. "If that is the sort of help the Malfoys have--!"
"How do you know about children, Potter?" Voldemort asked. He was impressed despite himself. Children were not his area of expertise.
Harry shrugged. "I used to look after some little kids when I was growing up, before Hogwarts."
"You wouldn't have been--never mind." He stood. "I'm going to attempt to locate a newspaper, or anything that may indicate what we must do here. You can take care of that." He motioned toward Draco.
"You're awful with names." Harry observed.
"'That' is Draco, who currently happens to be your son. I am Harry, not 'Potter.' Or Narcissa, if you must, since--god help me--I'm currently your wife."
"That has a horrible ring to it." Voldemort muttered.
"You're telling me."
Voldemort really didn't care to find a newspaper, or any other object that would tell them what they were supposed to change. Falling into Lucius' body had been a blessing, and not to take advantage would have been wasting the perfect opportunity.
But Potter didn't need to know any of that.
Voldemort navigated the Malfoy mansion with ease. He'd visited the home more times than he could recount and knew the layout of the building almost as well as he knew the design of Hogwarts. It was no trouble at all to locate Lucius' private office--the one most people didn't know about and the one even Narcissa never entered--and settle at his large, mahogany desk.
Voldemort rummaged around for some paper. He was going to need a lot of it, because he had a fair amount of instructions for Lucius to follow. And Lucius would follow them, Voldemort knew, if he wrote just the right things to convince the man.
"Isn't this the magical way of life." Harry muttered as he raided Draco's toy chest.
"Writ large." Voldemort said dryly from the doorway.
Harry glanced up at him before returning to his task. "Where did you go? You've been away for half the day."
"I was exploring the house." Voldemort said. "I understand Lucius has several pockets of hidden rooms, for those illegal artifacts he is so fond of."
"That's just what you should be looking for." Harry snorted. "Because surely those toys of his are what we're supposed to deal with."
"Sarcasm, Potter? Have you had a bad day?"
Harry turned to glare at him, "I've been taking care of a four-year-old who apparently has an unlimited amount of energy and the curiosity to match. You, on the other hand, have wandered all day, and I can't help but notice you seem oddly cheerful. Find anything interesting, Tom?"
Voldemort looked around the room. "Where is Draco?"
"His crib. He's sleeping, finally." Harry shook his head. "What did you do?"
"Nothing, Potter." Voldemort said. "Nor did I find any indication of what we're meant to change."
"Neither did I, not that I had much opportunity." Harry shrugged. "The situations tend to fall in our laps though, don't they?"
"Indeed." Voldemort offered Harry a hand up. "Are you hungry? I believe it's well past dinnertime."
"God, yes." Harry groaned, grabbing a stuffed animal off of the floor. "Does this look like a "Pippy" to you?"
Voldemort looked at him like he was mad. "Pippy, Potter?"
Harry nodded. "Draco wanted his toy Pippy. I think he doesn't sleep well without it."
"But he's sleeping now."
"Kids like their security toys," He looked over into the crib, where Draco was sleeping with his arms wrapped around a balled up blanket. "He's cute when he's not driving you nuts." Harry commented softly. He tucked the stuffed cat he held carefully into the crib.
"If you like children, I suppose he is." Voldemort admitted, looking over Harry's shoulder.
Harry let out a sigh before turning to face him. "We can get wine with dinner, right? Or firewhiskey? I need a drink after today."
"Naturally. But who will keep an eye on..." Voldemort nodded toward Draco.
"Oh, I've got that all worked out." Harry whistled. A little pop filled the air.
"Yes, Lady Narcissa?" A voice squeaked at knee-level.
Harry beamed down at the little house-elf. "Remember what we discussed, Tandy? Keep an eye on Draco tonight, please. Let me know if anything happens."
"Yes, Lady Narcissa!" It beamed and bowed to them both.
Harry led the way out of the nursery. "Lead the way to some dinner and drinks. I haven't met a kid so exhausting since this little boy I knew from Surrey. His name was Sammy, and could he go on like he was running on batteries."
"Oh, right. They're these little things Muggles use to power machines..."
"Potter, I think you had too much wine." Voldemort commented as he half-carried Harry to Narcissa's bedroom.
"Me?" Harry asked. "You had more than I did!"
"Yes, but I can hold my liquor, and you, apparently, cannot." Voldemort said. He magicked the door to Narcissa's room open.
"Their bedroom is kind of girlie." Harry noted.
"It's Narcissa's room." Voldemort replied.
"They've got separate bedrooms? Typical."
"Love comes in all forms, brat."
"You know about love?"
"Are you surprised?"
"Rather, yeah." Harry pulled away from Voldemort to drop onto the bed. When Voldemort turned to leave, he asked. "Where are you going?"
"To Lucius' bedroom, obviously." Voldemort said.
"I don't think that's a good idea." Harry said. "You're liable to vanish and leave me alone with Draco all day again."
"What do you propose to do then?"
"You can sleep in here, with me." Harry informed him.
"Isn't that risky, Potter?" Voldemort asked.
"I don't kick, I promise." Harry grinned.
"I meant for you." Voldemort muttered, sitting beside Harry on the bed. He felt a little lightheaded himself, which worried him. He didn't think he'd gotten drunk in decades, but there had never been much opportunity to. He vaguely recalled he was a... hands-on drunk, in that he couldn't keep his hands off people.
Harry dropped his, her, head onto his lap. "You look good as a blond, you know?"
Chapter 5: A Benign World Order
Harry blinked down at himself. One second he had been draped across their bed and now he was sitting on the grass, legs spread out, a bunch of flowers piled before him. A half-finished daisy chain hung from his limp fingers.
It was the most awful, disconcerting feeling to be lying in bed after some great, if somewhat gender-confused sex and suddenly... not be.
But he was still a woman, he noted with some disappointment. Harry looked around at his surroundings. He recognized it almost instantly. It was the field not far from the Weasleys' home, where he and the other children had often played Quidditch.
Not too farm from where he was two blankets were laid out on the grass, a few picnic baskets and games set out on them.
"Ginny, you're not too pregnant to help out!" A familiar voice called. "Besides, I think Ron's losing his stride, and we need a replacement carrier!"
Harry looked up to see a twenty-something Fred floating a picnic table in front of him. Ron was just behind him, a stack of lawn chairs following behind him.
After not hearing Ginny respond, Harry realized he must be Ginny. "What's with Ron?" He called, already suspecting what it was. After all, he and Tom never ended up far apart. This time, Harry didn't want to end up far apart. "He looks perfectly fine to me, and as you know, mum doesn't want me running around doing things I don't have to." Harry was sure that was it. Molly Weasley had acted the same way when Fleur conceived.
"Mum doesn't need to know." Fred winked.
"Stuff it, Fred, and let Ron sit with me this round." Harry said. "I need someone to assist with my daisies."
Fred rolled his eyes. "Womenfolk!"
"Don't let mum hear you." Harry smirked. Fred actually looked behind him in worry, which nearly sent Harry into hysterics.
Ron dropped down beside him, and in that instant Harry knew it was Tom. Ron never sat so carefully as he did now, unless he was severely injured.
They waited until Fred left for more equipment.
"Tom." Harry felt relieved. "How long do you think this can continue?"
Voldemort shook his head, "Who knows? It could go on indefinitely."
"That was the first question that came to your mind?"
"No, but most of my other thoughts are highly inappropriate no matter how you look at it." Harry admitted.
"There's that honesty trait of yours." Voldemort noted.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Harry demanded.
"It means we're supposed to be enemies." Voldemort said.
Harry narrowed his eyes. "Your point?"
"I do not feel like enemies."
"Good." Harry said. "Neither do I."
"It does not simply change like that, Potter!" Voldemort snapped.
"No, it doesn't." Harry glanced at him. "And it's Harry."
Voldemort paused, "Harry."
George asked out of the blue. They both jumped.
"Nothing!" Harry scowled, "Bugger off, George."
"That's nice!" George said. "Mum will be thrilled your hormones are already going nuts!" He bounced off before either of them could say anything.
"How you enjoy the company of such an obnoxious group of--"
"They're fun. We're going to have to teach you how to have fun." Harry said.
"I have plenty of fun, P--Harry." Voldemort said. He ignored Harry's disbelieving snort.
They sat in silence as George and Fred continued to haul up pieces of furniture.
"The guests are arriving, Gin." Fred informed her after the third round.
"Your git of a husband's here, Gin." George declared on the fifth round.
"Mum wants you both back at the house, pronto." They said in unison on the sixth round.
After they left, Voldemort commented, "Do you find it odd that we were supposed to have sex the last round?"
"You noticed that too, huh?" Harry said. "What the hell could that have accomplished?"
"GIN!" Fred yelled. "Go see Cepheus!"
"Cepheus?" Harry muttered, then called, "Who, Fred?"
Fred groaned, "If only you meant that, dear sister, I would die a happy man. Go greet your damn husband before he thinks we tied you to a tree as a sacrifice to the squirrel god."
Harry blinked, "Fine, fine." He waved them away. "I'll be down in a minute." As soon as Fred was out of earshot, she grabbed Tom's hand. "You're coming with. Fuck, Ginny's married?"
"Heartbroken?" Voldemort sneered.
"Of course not. But Ginny never married as far as I remember."
"How old is she in our time?" Voldemort inquired, helping Harry to his feet.
"Twenty-two, a year younger than me. Why?"
Voldemort studied him. "She's older now, at least twenty-five, maybe a little older."
Harry stared at him. "We've gone into the future?" He studied Voldemort, who resided in Ron. Ron did look older than Harry remembered. "Is that possible?"
"Going into the future isn't much different than going into the past." Voldemort said. "Tell me you know the way to their house?" He nodded toward the thicket of trees.
"Oh, of course." Harry led the way. "But I thought there was a whole rule against knowing the future? Because people who know the future might do things to accidentally change it."
"At this point, Harry, I don't think we have to worry about whether things change or not." Voldemort commented.
"We've been having good luck on all our endeavors, haven't you noticed, P--Harry?"
"We've been lucky this entire time?" Harry asked in disbelief. "When that magical storm beat the shit out of us? When we ended up in Dumbledore and Trelawney? When we got thrown about by a potion explosion? When--"
"I get your point. What I am saying is, yes, we've been damn lucky. We should both be dead. History and the very fabric of the universe should be in shreds at our feet. Everything is whole, even us, for the most part. I suspect we've been hauling around the luck of my dose of Felix Felicis this entire time."
"I took it too, that day." Harry admitted. "I'd forgotten. But Hermione did say the only way you would end up at Riddle mansion that day is if you'd taken the potion too."
"That's an interesting... coincidence."
Harry shook his head.
"It's all such a mess of sheer madness." Harry said.
"You should be used to it by now."
"Funny thing is, I never am."
"We've been influenced by Felix Felicis this entire time?" Harry asked.
"Neither of us is that lucky, when it comes right down to it." Voldemort said. "We must have been affected by something."
"Right." Harry said. "I hate to think what would have happened if we hadn't taken the potion."
Harry looked toward the voice. He and Voldemort had only just left the clearing, but the blond rushing toward them had spotted them right away.
"Tom," Harry whispered hurriedly. "Doesn't he look just like a--"
"Malfoy." Voldemort finished, amazed. "Cepheus."
Cepheus nodded at him, "Ron. Ginny!" He pulled her into a hug. "Are you feeling well? I got held up at work, or I would have been here earlier."
Harry smiled a bit dazedly at him. "I'm feeling quite well." He ignored Fred's indignant grunt as he passed by. "How was work?"
"Oh, the same. The minister is inundated with mail. It's mostly about his upcoming wedding, I'm sure you can guess, which makes sussing out the important letters all the more difficult." Cepheus kissed Ginny's cheek, one arm wrapped firmly around her waist. "Unfortunately, with Percy on his own honeymoon, dealing with all of this has fallen on me."
Voldemort shook his head, "I think I shall go mingle, hmm?" He was off before Harry could say anything, much to Harry's dismay. He wasn't at all sure how he was supposed to handle a husband.
Harry's mind was whirling by the time he managed to even see Tom again. He had spent the entire day bouncing from one guest to another, every person determined to congratulate Ginny on one thing or another.
He did manage to figure out a few things. Cepheus was indeed a Malfoy; he was Lucius and Narcissa's second son. Harry would bet he was four years younger than Draco. It explained why sex had been what Harry and Tom changed when in Narcissa and Lucius' bodies.
That had been the least of his discoveries.
Harry sat next to Tom in the Burrow's living room. "Try to leave me again and I will set your robe on fire." He muttered quietly.
Voldemort glanced at him out of the corners of his eyes. "You will not believe what I have been hearing. I can't believe it."
"What, you mean who the current minister is?" Harry said. "I've already heard all about it. For the last three elections, apparently. He's quite popular."
"I don't understand it." Voldemort said.
"Even Dumbledore wholeheartedly approves of him." Harry added. "He's collaborated with Dumbledore to broaden Hogwarts' class electives, and opened up a variety of doors for the school, including summer classes, out-of-school projects, and exchange student programs."
"Potter?" Voldemort hissed. "Shut up."
"I thought you would have enjoyed hearing about it." Harry said.
"I don't. It's simply not possible."
"Is it so damn awful?" Harry glared, "You know there are better ways to rule the world than--"
"Of course it's not." Voldemort said. "That's not what I meant. I meant, how could it have ever happened in the first place?"
"Something about Lucius restoring his--your--body ages ago, oddly enough with the help of one Angela Lovegood." Harry eyed him. "Are you sure you didn't leave any descriptive notes lying about Malfoy mansion when we were there last? Because from what I gathered, you regained a body less than a year after we visited there."
Voldemort met his gaze squarely. "Did you leave any cryptic notes for Dumbledore when we last used his office? I was just wondering, because I heard the most interesting tale of how Sirius Black gained his freedom from his false imprisonment."
"Fine, fine." Harry smiled. "So we both did something we probably shouldn't have. Look how great it turned out. I, for one, did not know you could be restored fully to a healthy body. Is it really that the first time around Pettigrew just did a shit job?"
"His unskilled performance was half of the problem, yes." Voldemort said. "I also knew more on the subject when I left instructions for Lucius. I did create the ritual from scratch. There were bound to be some rough patches the first time around."
Harry snorted, "You did not expect to have a second chance at it, surely."
"Did you learn anything else of interest?" Voldemort inquired, ignoring him.
"Bits and pieces." Harry nodded. "Angela Lovegood has become the ministry's top potions expert. A mistress in the field, apparently, though not as gifted as Snape. Luna's taken over the Mysterious Unmentionables and Other Unidentified Miscellaneous department at the ministry."
"Speaking of, Calib Lovegood has become extremely interested in angels. I saw his book over on the bookshelf. It relates the story of the angelic possession his daughter and her friend experienced." Voldemort chuckled. "He's particularly interested in locating the two angels, one Tom and Harry, who came to them to save his wife."
Harry stared in amazement. "Oh my. Does that mean he's not running The Quibbler anymore?"
"I didn't hear anything on that."
They exchanged smiles.
"Do you think this is real?" Harry finally asked.
"I did, until this." Harry flushed. "I mean, can things actually turn out this well? For both us and the wizarding world?"
"Gin," Cepheus came over, smiling down at his wife. "I know it's still early yet, but we really should go, what with your appointment in the morning."
"All right." Harry smiled.
He and Tom both stood, and Tom hugged him, much to Harry's surprise. "Of course it can work out so well, brat." He murmured in Harry's ear. "And if I can believe that, there's no reason you can't."
Harry smiled at him before the world dissolved around him.
Epilogue: The Beginning
Voldemort suspected he would never get used to being in once position only to find himself in another one a split second later.
He had been standing beside Harry, who looked like Ginny Malfoy, in the middle of a dwindling party. Now he found himself seated in a wing backed chair, a book propped open on his lap, and a glass of brandy dangling in one hand.
At least he was in an adult male body. Being both female and a child was disturbing.
Voldemort glanced at the book, surprised to see it was familiar to him. He thought he was the only person existing to have a copy of The Extensive Works of Lydia Blackbane. It was a tome of dark magic dating back to the seventeenth century, and the only other two copies were destroyed decades ago.
Voldemort frowned. Something wasn't right. Where the hell was Harry? The brat should have ended up somewhere near him.
Then there was the little matter of who he currently was. Some man with a book he shouldn't have had.
Voldemort conjured a hand mirror without a thought. Lifting it, he looked into it, and stared. Slowly, he lifted a hand to his face. It felt real.
"Fuck me." Voldemort said. Except he wasn't Voldemort anymore. He was a forty-something Tom Marvolo Riddle.
Harry glanced around the suddenly different, empty room. He was still at the burrow, but now he was in the kitchen, standing over the sink, peeling potatoes.
He was also male again, much to his relief.
"Harry!" Ron charged into the room. "Where is Bill? I'm gonna hex that bastard--"
Ron froze and winced. "Mum, when I said bastard I really meant--"
"Ronald Weasley, you go set the tables outside this instant. Is this how we behave during a family reunion?" Molly shouted at him. "It was difficult enough getting the entire family together without you starting fights all over the house." She glared Ron out of the room before turning to Harry. "Harry, dear, you shouldn't be in here cooking! Leave that to me, and go outside and chat with the boys."
Harry shook his head, feeling dazed. People were calling him Harry. "I, er, just need to run upstairs a moment." He told her. Before she objected, he added, "Then I'll head outside."
Harry practically ran up the stairs, diving into the bathroom right before Ginny had the chance to. "Sorry, Gin!" He called from the other side of the door. Harry rushed over to the mirror and nearly jumped out of his skin.
Staring in the mirror, he found himself looking back at the twenty-three year old version of himself he'd left what felt like a lifetime ago. Or five lifetimes to go.
Except, Harry noticed, he wasn't quite the same. His glasses were silver-rimmed and oval. He looked taller, and his hair was longer and, much to his amazement, lying relatively flat. This definitely wasn't the Harry Potter he'd left however long ago.
So I'm home? He wondered. "But then why aren't I at Riddle Mansion?" He asked out loud.
At that moment, Ginny magicked the door open. "Are you still on about that, Harry?" Ginny sighed. "You can't sulk around just because you leave for a few days!"
Harry gave her a startled look in the mirror. "What, Gin?"
Ginny rolled her eyes. "Stop pouting and try to have fun! You'll be back there in a matter of days now." She shoved him toward the door. "Now get out! I need to freshen up. Prat."
Harry walked back down the stairs, more confused than before.
Tom waited impatiently for Lucius to arrive. It was clear Lucius had followed the instructions Tom had left him years ago, even if it only felt like a week ago. He just hadn't expected it to work so well, or for things to work out at all.
Time and history weren't supposed to be that flexible.
There was a knock at the door.
"About damn time." Tom muttered, flinging the door open. "Lucius!"
Lucius stared in surprise, "...Tom?"
"Is something the matter?"
Tom stared at him. "What is going on?" At Lucius' baffled look, Tom shook his head. "Never mind. Forget that question. Why am I..." He sighed. "All right. Forget that too. Where's Potter?"
"Potter?" Lucius blinked. "You mean Harry?"
"Of course I mean Harry! Who bloody else would I mean, Lucius?"
Lucius paused for a long time. "Harry Black is with the Weasleys at their family reunion, I'm sure you remember."
Voldemort frowned, "What... No, not that question either. Lucius... dammit."
"Should I summon Harry? I know you don't wish to intrude on his time with his family, but I am quite sure he wouldn't mind." Lucius said.
Tom couldn't quite figure out what questions he should ask to avoid sounding like a lunatic, and it was clear Lucius wouldn't be able to answer Tom's questions without thinking him mad. In his position, he would think he had lost it too. He sighed. "Yes, Lucius, I would like to speak with Harry as soon as possible."
Lucius nodded and excused himself.
He really wasn't the Harry Potter he had left before. Harry shook his head as the Weasleys and various assorted others chatted around him.
Molly Weasley was shouting things from the kitchen window to Arthur, who was barbecuing on a Muggle grill; his latest Muggle contraption.
Ginny had flounced down to be greeted by a flirtatious Cepheus Malfoy. Fred and George kept hauling Hermione away from Charlie, who kept going off to find her five minutes after. Ron was engaging Harry, Blaise Zabini, and Bill in Quidditch arguments. The three were so caught up in their fight that none of them seemed to notice Harry wasn't contributing to the conversation.
His mind was still on his short run-in with Sirius and Remus. He shook his head. Harry had run into them on his way downstairs. Sirius had looked amazing. And he'd acted completely adult, until Remus had gone off to offer Molly assistance. Then Harry noticed the twinkle as Sirius herded him into the living room.
"I know you won't be a Black much longer, so I thought it was best to give this to you now--"
"What on earth are you talking about, Sirius?" Harry blurted out before he thought about it.
Sirius just rolled his eyes. "Don't play dumb, Harry. I'm not blind. All the signs are there, and it's just a matter of time." He pulled Harry into a hug. "I still think the man's a git, but he makes you happy for some reason I can't fathom--"
"Sirus!" Harry sighed.
"Yes, yes, 'be nice,' I know." Sirius said. "You know you'll always be my son, no matter whoever you choose to," Sirius made a face, "marry."
"No, don't argue. The signs are there, Harry!"
Harry just shook his head and remained silent.
"Since it is most likely not far off in the future anymore, I wanted you to have this." Sirius offered him a small box.
"What is it?" Harry asked.
"Open it," Sirius suggested with a grin.
Harry did. It was a signet ring. The Black signet ring. "Sirius, this is--"
"Yours." Sirius interrupted. "It's yours. You'll always be a Black first, Harry." He paused for a long moment. "A Potter first, technically, then a Black, and then... you know."
Harry looked up from the ring, "Sirius--"
"Don't argue, Harry."
"So you gave it to him?" Remus beamed from the doorway. "He's right, Harry. Don't argue. Go outside and visit with the rest of your family. If you don't, Molly will accuse us of taking up all of your time."
Harry nodded dumbly. He gave them both a hug before he left, more because he was so happy to see them both. He needed time to process everything he was hearing.
"Harry!" Ron shouted, snapping his fingers in front of Harry's face.
Harry snapped back to the present. "What, Ron?"
"You were off in your head again." Ron informed him.
"I was just thinking!"
"You were sulking." Three voices chorused.
Harry glared at the amused group. "I have nothing to sulk over, dammit."
"Harry!" Molly called. "Harry, you have a firecall."
Harry jumped up and headed toward the kitchen, eager to get away from the suddenly knowing grins and snickers. He was surprised to see Lucius Malfoy's head sticking out of the fire when he arrived in the kitchen. "Er." He said.
"Harry," Lucius nodded at him. "I do hate to interrupt your reunion, but I believe it's of the utmost importance you return home tonight. Tom seems quite... ah, distracted by something."
Molly snorted and coughed. They both glanced at her. She looked back at them with an innocent expression. "I breathed in a little pepper."
"Right." Harry said. He turned back to Lucius. "Um, right, yes. I'll return immediately. I just need to say good-bye to everyone."
Lucius nodded and disappeared. Harry turned to Molly.
"Don't worry, dear. You don't need to say good-bye, I am sure everyone understands." Molly said.
That wasn't what Harry wanted to say. He wanted to ask where the hell he was supposed to go to, but it occurred to him that might be a strange question. Thankfully, he didn't have to ask after all. Molly thought he was hesitating.
"Really, Harry!" She came over and tossed some floo powder into the fireplace. "Riddle Mansion!" She called. "Go, Harry. I'll let the others know."
Harry smiled gratefully at her before stepping into the fireplace.
Harry stepped into Tom's library, shutting the doors behind him.
"You live in Riddle Mansion?" Harry said, surprised.
"It's nice to know I am not the only confused one." Tom commented. "Are you aware your name is Harry Black?"
"Er, yes, I was informed of that earlier today." Harry shook his head, walking over to sit on the edge of Tom's chair. "You look different."
"So do you."
"Not as much as you."
"What, is this a competition, Harry?"
"No-oo. Are we... back, Tom?" Harry asked.
"It would appear so." Tom said.
Harry fiddled with the button on his shirtsleeve. "Have we really changed so much?"
"Would you care to recap on what we know we changed?"
"Uh, no, let's not." Harry said.
They sat in silence for awhile. Being around each other was the only place the world seemed sane. At least there was another person who could verify the other wasn't crazy.
"So if our old timeline never existed..." Harry frowned. "Then there was never a final battle, and we wouldn't have taken Felix Felicis either, right? How come we remember everything that happened if everything we remember happening didn't really happen--"
"Harry," Tom sighed, looking what Harry correctly labeled as exasperated bordering on blatantly irritated. "Don't analyze it too closely."
"...right." Harry made a face, "But--"
"Right." They sat in silence for awhile longer before Harry said, "How are we supposed to function if we don't even know our own past? We remember things that didn't happen!"
"I've been thinking about that, actually." Tom said. "Lucius informed me you were Harry Black, and since then, I've been getting the feeling that I already knew that. You grew up with Sirius Black, and later with both Black and... Remus Lupin?"
Harry nodded, surprised. "You're remembering things we didn't experience?"
"More or less." Tom said.
"I have been recalling that you're the minister of magic, but I thought that was because we heard about it in the future." Harry admitted.
"I believe we're beginning to remember everything we should know. We will have to play it by ear for now, but I imagine after awhile we will have remembered everything from our... new pasts." Tom said thoughtfully.
"Do you think we'll forget the way things used to be?" Harry asked quietly.
"I'm not sure, to be honest."
Harry shook his head, "At least things are happy here." He nudged Tom with his shoulder. "I believe we're dating, if everyone's smirking comments at the reunion were anything to go by."
"I got the same sense from Lucius." Tom said. "Everyone seems to believe we're quite dependent on each other."
"Well, it could be worse." Harry said casually.
"Yes, it could."
"This is sort of like a new beginning for us."
"I suppose it is."