Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter and co. J.K. Rowling does. That is all.
A.N. Thanks everyone for your wonderful reviews :D they make me sooooo happy-wappy and all giddy inside :3 hopefully this chapter will be up to ur expectations :D and one more thing... some of u guys mentioned u've seen tom-raised-by-harry b4? Do u remember the name and author? I would really like to read one :) for research purposes even lol anywayz THANKS AGAIN FOR YOUR REVIEWS IM SO HAPPY AND SORRY FOR NOT REPLYING EACH AND EVERYONE INDIVIDUALLY – the reply system on reeeeally annoys me... I don't noe y we can't reply straight from the site... having to check my emails is such a nuisance since its filled with spam lol...
Two updates in one day... another result of Ultimate Procrastination.
Harry stared at the stars winking down at him and smiled wryly. Somehow he had gone in and come back out of the orphanage without alerting anyone of his presence. Never had his plans ever gone so smoothly; which had the unfortunate effect of making him feel extremely paranoid. In fact, he half expected Moody to jump out from whatever hiding place he had chosen this time and clobber him one.
And I'd deserve it, he thought with slight amusement as he glanced at the small boy standing beside him. Though as he continued to watch little Tom Riddle, he couldn't really bring himself to feel any remorse.
He'd done the right thing.
A cold night breeze whistled past them as they made their way down the street. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Tom shiver slightly but trying stubbornly not to show his momentary weakness. In one swift move, he shrugged off his thick coat and draped it without warning around the boy's shoulders.
"Hey!" Tom protested, "What do you think you're doing!"
Harry ignored him as he crouched down slightly to button the overly large coat around the small frame tightly, "Wouldn't do to bring you out here only to have to turn into a popsicle," he said nonchalantly, knowing Tom hated to ask for any help. Buttoning the last button, Harry observed his handy work and had to restrain the smile threatening to appear at how cute Tom looked all bundled up in his coat – laughing at the boy would definitely not go over well. So instead, he straightened back up again and started to walk down the street once more.
He didn't need to hear any words of gratitude from Tom; despite trying to hide it, the boy's face said it all.
They walked together side by side, neither of them saying anything, both lost in their thoughts. It wasn't surprising though; both had never been in a situation like this before. Both wary but curious at what this change would bring. What roles they had to play. What the future would bring.
"Aren't you cold?" Tom suddenly spoke up.
Harry glanced at him in surprise; is he worried about me? He mused. Pulling one of his hands out of his pocket, he rubbed his right cheek, realising it had gotten slightly numb from the cold. Another gust of wind whipped past them, sending a shiver down his spine, "A little," he conceded eventually, "But I'll be fine. Don't worry."
Tom huffed, "Whatever." Harry smiled indulgently, heart warming for some reason.
"So where are we going?" Tom continued, refusing to look at Harry.
Harry suddenly paused halfway through his step, forcing Tom turn to look at him in confusion when he stopped.
"That's... a very good question," Harry said, a grin tugging at his lips.
Tom stared at him incredulously, "You mean, we've been walking all this time going nowhere? Are you mental? Y- I might freeze to death out here!"
"Does it really matter?" Harry replied before giving Tom another wide smile, feeling strangely giddy for some reason.
"Does it really-" Tom started to protest angrily but Harry cut him off.
"Does it really matter as long as you don't have to go back?" he said, eyes shining.
Tom fell silent; no, it didn't matter at all.
In the end they had walked to the only place still aglow at his time of the night. It was a quaint little inn, the kind that, Harry expected, was nearing extinction in the modernising muggle world yet would remain forever a part of the stagnant wizarding world. The small bar, though mostly empty by now except for the few truly die-hard drunkards slobbering at one of the tables, gave the same feeling though the air was musty here as if it hadn't been aired out properly in a long time.
Harry paid it no heed however, as he made his way to the barkeeper who he assumed was also the innkeeper if the lack of any proper counter said anything about it.
"We need a twin bedroom," Harry said softly.
The barkeeper looked at him suspiciously before turning his gaze at the boy that followed close behind him without any complaint. Harry, seeing that look, felt strangely protective as he slid over to his right slightly, blocking Tom from the calculating look on the man's face. Usually, Harry would have left without another word but he knew Tom was cold, tired and hungry, though he would deny being so if asked. They needed to stay here, if only for the night.
"Well it ain't free you know," the barkeeper sneered, eyeing Harry's clothing disdainfully.
Harry had to admit though, he probably would look a bit ragged and poor but he'd just came from the middle of a war and dressing well really hadn't been his highest priority. So instead, Harry stuck his hand into his pocket and drew out a wad of muggle notes he had kept there for convenience and dropped them in front of the man, "I believe this should more than suffice for a week let alone one night," he drawled. Money had never been a problem for him.
The barkeeper swept up the cash eagerly, though the suspicious glint did not disappear. Obviously, now the man thought him a thief as well as a beggar but Harry was beyond caring at the moment. All he wanted now was a nice hot shower and nice warm bed. Some hot food would be an added bonus however he really didn't want to risk the potential food poisoning if the personal hygiene of its owner was anything to go by.
Meanwhile Tom had backed away from the Harry a little, trying to go back to hiding in the background, cursing slightly in his mind. He had seen the look the barkeeper had sent him and knew instantly that the man had recognised him. He was a regular visitor at the orphanage; either flirting with the matron or drinking the rest of the night away with the male manager. As such, he knew most of the children by sight, particularly the one's who got in the most trouble as the manager had a habit of complaining about them endlessly when drunk.
Unfortunately, Tom had been one of them.
Thoughts ran through his mind, thinking furiously of what to do in the chance the man decided to out his supposed delinquent, violent side and the dark-haired male decided to send him back. As much as he tried to deny it, there was something so very fascinating about the man that made Tom want to actually get to know him.
And as much as he tried to deny it, Tom wanted to stay with him.
But if he tries to send me back... then he'd be just like the rest of them, he thought furiously, pushing away at the bubble of hurt at having his hope crushed once more.
So caught up in his thoughts however, Tom didn't realise he was still backing away until he crashed into one of the tables. An unbidden yelp sprung up from his throat as a large, grubby hand grabbed his arm. Unfocused eyes glared down at him, obviously very displeased at having been woken from his alcohol-induced slumber.
"Look what you done, Boy!" he man growled, gesturing towards the broken bottles of booze on the ground. Tom remained silent, staring stonily back at him. Taking the look on his face as a challenge, the man tightened the grip on Tom's arm, "You..."
"Let him go," a soft voice said behind them.
Big, fat and ugly spun around, glaring at Harry for daring to interrupt him, "What you say?" he threatened.
"I said, let him go," Harry repeated, this time a little louder as he stared down at the man as if he was a worthless bit of filth that was hardly worth his time.
Despite being incoherent, the drunk seemed to get that message loud and clear, "Why, you..." he growled, this time throwing out his fist to smash Harry in the face.
For a split second, Tom felt a smattering a fear for the dark-haired man's safety. All the thoughts he had tried to deny came springing into his mind. This man had taken him away from the orphanage. This man had given him his coat when he was cold. This man had stuck up for him. And now this man was going to get hurt because of him.
His fear was completely unfounded however, as in the next second, Harry easily caught the fist in his right hand as if he were playing catch with a small child. The drunk stared in confusion, trying his tug his hand out of Harry's experimentally at first but soon with vigour. He wasn't able to budge it however, as he tried to sneer menacingly at the unamused Harry.
Then with his left, Harry clasped onto the wrist of the arm still holding onto Tom and with a sharp twitch, twisted it toward him. The drunk yelled out in pain, letting Tom go immediately, and before he could recover, Harry flicked his wrist once more, though this time it was the hand still holding the fat man's fist and the circle he drew in mid-air was far greater as if he were turning a wheel. Tom watched in barely concealed amazement at how that simple action sent the fat man spinning into the air before crashing onto the hard, wooden ground not a moment later. He was out cold instantly.
Behind the bar counter, the barkeeper gaped openly at that display of power from such a frail looking man, too much in awe to reprimand them for harming a regular customer of his. The money was still clasped in his fingers; obviously, he'd been half-way through greedily counting them when they had heard the crash.
Harry ignored him however, instead turning another small smile at Tom, this time almost reassuringly to Tom's bafflement. Harry wondered about it a bit himself; he'd smiled more tonight than the last few years put to together. He decided to let it go however; he had more important things to think about.
And to worry about, he thought as he offered a hand to the small boy staring up at him from the ground where he had fallen.
And to Tom... suddenly, it didn't seem so wrong to take it.
Tom remained strangely quiet as Harry inspected the newly acquired bruise. The older male frowned at himself at the thought that Tom had still gotten hurt when he should have been looking out for him, "I'm sorry," he suddenly murmured softly.
Tom's head shot up at that, staring at him intensely for a moment before turning away instantly. Harry pretended not to notice.
Magic can easily fix this, was the first thought that sprang to Harry's mind as he studied the bruise further. However, did he really want to introduce Tom to magic so soon? Magic... the one thing that had given Tom so much power in the first place? He hated himself for thinking that way but he knew it was necessary. No matter how he felt about this Tom, he would never forget what the other one had done...
Too soon, he finally decided. So instead of reaching for his shrunken chest, "I'm sorry there's nothing I can do at the moment," he said, pushing back his regret when Tom winced in pain as Harry gently pulled his sleeve back down, "But tomorrow we'll pay a visit to the nearest apothecary."
Tom gave him a strange look then and Harry wondered if he had said something wrong, "Apothecary?" the boy raised an eyebrow.
Harry mentally kicked himself, "Pharmacy," he corrected.
Tom nodded, seemingly no longer phased by Harry's strange quirks and completely lost in his thoughts.
"Well, time for bed," Harry piped up when it became obvious Tom wasn't about to say anything soon. He helped the, Harry had to admit, eerily quiet boy into bed.
Harry watched in amusement as the boy turned his back on him in unmistakable move of dismissal but he didn't move to his bed behind him immediately. Without thinking, he leaned forward, his body moving of its own will as he began to systematically tuck the blankets tightly around the boy.
Tom squirmed at the unexpected action, head turning to scowl at him, "What the hell are you doing?" he said.
Harry merely ignored him as he continued, not pausing until he was completely satisfied. And when he was done, he leaned forward even more, and to Tom's wide-eyed shock, Harry placed a chaste kiss to his forehead.
"Sweet dreams, Tom," he said simply.
Tom's scowl deepened, turning his head away again, "Totally mental," he grouched.
But inside, he was secretly pleased.
And Harry just smiled.
hopefully they didn't seem too OOC... though I suppose they're bound to be... and this chapter's a little short too but it seemed right to stop there... sowwy? D: hope you still liked it though :3 review and reassure me that another chapter is a good idea? :D