Warnings: Slash, odd pairing, fluff, notably AU
Disclaimers: Harry Potter belongs to Joanne Kathleen Rowling and her associates, of which I am not one. Written for the Meme Challenge on HPFF, question 9: Is there such a thing as a 4/10 romantic fluff story? Also written for the Thunderstorm Romance Challenge on HPFF.
Featuring: Voldemort (4) and James Potter (10). Hellz yeah.
It was a normal day in the life of James Potter. Really.
Alright, so dodging spell-fire and lighting strikes wasn't normal for most people, but for James – or, indeed, anyone of Potter blood – it was all just par for the course. He had joined the Order of the Phoenix straight out of school, eight months past, and so stuff like this was pretty droll. He was a member of the Order full time.
Well, he was also the on-again-off-again boyfriend-cum-fiancé-cum-ex of Lily Evans, but that relationship had gone so flat that he didn't even count it as being part of his life anymore. He had to wonder why he'd always been so smitten with the woman, but the distraction caused a spell to go whizzing by his antlers, and he bolted on instinct before realizing that it had gone wide.
Turning oneself into a stag to remain innocuous was also very strange to most people, but again, it was rather humdrum for James. He had been an animagus for three years, and now that he was going on nineteen it wasn't too much different than when he was fifteen.
Right, so, all was normal. James was spying on a battle between aurors and Death Eaters; he had strict orders to not interfere, but if the aurors started the flag he knew he would jump in anyway. There was nothing weird at all.
Okay, so there was something a bit off. Like, for instance, that the aurors were wearing robes that James knew had been discontinued in the fifties. Also, the Death Eaters weren't... well, they weren't Death Eaters. They used Dark magic and everything, but James could tell they weren't Voldemort's.
And the icing on the cake was that James had been struck by lighting. Oh, he's done the smart thing; he directed his wand to the ground to divert the charge, and he had survived. Then the battle started – he assumed the one he was assigned to observe – and he was a stag. His leg wasn't quite right, but he was fine and okay to apparate when the time came.
James was fairly content to stand off to the side of the clearing where the battle was taking place for a good ten minutes. At that point, he was finally noticed, mostly because he'd failed to dodge a trip jinx that had missed one of the dark wizards. He slipped heavily in the mud under his hooves and rammed into a tree hard enough to shake dry needles and pinecones over the dark wizards. Not for the first time, he found himself cursing dark wizards in general as he was summoned by one to be used as a meat shield.
The last sensations he could recall were a rumble of thunder from very close and a red light careening towards his face.
When James awoke, he was surprised. And warm, which was strange since it was winter. But it wasn't the warmth that surprised him, rather that there was a definite stone ceiling above him, and a human visible in one of his eyes.
And let's not forget that he was in human form; he'd been hit by stunners before while in his animagus form, and he hadn't turned beck into himself while unconscious before. Someone, likely the man who was using basic fire-tending spells, had reversed his transformation... and given him a blanket.
James said nothing, and started to try reasoning with himself about the situation. This man must be a light wizard to have rescued him, so he was safe, especially if he hadn't been turned over to the Ministry for being an illegal animagus. It was almost guaranteed that any wizard would recognize him anyway, since he had a distinctive Potter-look about him, so any dark wizard would have killed him or given him up to Voldemort by now.
The man at the fire turned around and caught James' eye. He had an aristocratic look, not a pureblood look that came from too much inbreeding, but his high cheek bones, thin lips, and narrow features had a certain feel of old money about them. Dark hair sat atop a tall, lean body, perfectly coifed, its condition directly opposing James' perpetually messy locks. His dark brown eyes were giving James much the same once-over.
"Er, thanks," James muttered. "For not turning me in to the Ministry."
"You're hardly the first illegal animagus I've seen," the man said this flippantly, as if being an illegal animagus didn't carry a three year Azkaban sentence. "Though your form is interesting. There is a lot of symbolism behind a stag form."
"Yeah, that's true," James knew it well enough. Stags were walking contradictions; they had the humbleness of a deer, but arrogance; they were protective and violent, but disliked conflict. And it was true enough.
Stags were also alone. Many a joke had been made at the expense of James' form when it came to Hogsmeade weekends and the like.
"I'm Tom Riddle," the man said the name as if he disliked it terribly. It took a moment for James to realize he ought to introduce himself as well; the Potter look was distinctive, but apparently the wizard didn't make the connection.
"James Potter," he said finally.
"A Potter... that does explain why you were involved in a fight between Grindelwald's Knights and the aurors," Riddle paused and took a step closer to the bed that James was laid on; half the room still lay between them.
James was a bit preoccupied to think about that though. Grindelwald's Knights, the Knights of Walpurgis, had been vanquished more than thirty years ago. And yet the dark wizards had apparently been his.
"You should get some more rest," stated Riddle with a note of finality. "You may floo home when the storm has ended." He left the room in a stately manner and James slowly brought himself to sit in the bed as he likely should have done. The Ministry had stopped turning the floo off for storms a few years ago.
"Well... shit," James muttered.
Something was very off.
"So... you think you're a time traveler?" Asked Riddle the next morning over breakfast. He didn't have much of an expression on his face, though James was leaning towards calling the current configuration of his features nonplussed and intrigued, as well as vaguely amused.
"Well, yeah," James shrugged. "Grindelwald was defeated ages before I was even born, so I don't see why not." The storm still hadn't ended; the WWN on the counter, an old model from the forties that looked good as new, said the Ministry believed it to be the work of Austrian Weather Witches under the employ of Grindelwald.
"And no Dark Lord has taken his place?" Riddle sounded more intrigued than he looked. He must be looking forward to peace times.
"Well sure one did," James shrugged. "He actually rigged up a Taboo for a year before the Ministry could take it down, so most people call him You-Know-Who or He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named nowadays... er, in the future. Whatever."
"This new Dark Lord manages to put up a Taboo?" Riddle now looked as intrigued as he sounded.
"Yeah, got everyone in a tizzy since whenever someone said his name, Death Eaters – that's what he calls his followers, Death Eaters – would pop up and attack. But they never showed up for the ambushes either. So most people are afraid to his name. They even flinch whenever anyone starts to say it." This was said between bites of a blueberry muffin, so James had to pause frequently.
"Are you too afraid to say his name?"
James rolled his eyes. "'Course not. It'd be counterproductive if I flinched whenever someone said the name of the thing I'm fighting."
Riddle perked a brow. "'Thing'? You mean this Dark Lord isn't human?"
"No, he is, or he was," James furrowed his brow and contemplated his muffin. "Only, Dumbledore says he was human. But I've seen him, and he doesn't look it. He's as tall as Dumbledore, about six and a half feet I guess, and really gangly looking. Plus his skin is impossibly pale, like he never saw the sun, and his eyes are red. Lily – a girl I dated for a while – she thinks it's to make him look the muggle boogerman or something, since he's trying to kill all the muggleborns and stuff."
"Hm," Riddle seemed less interested now. "What's the name of your Dark Lord? You never said."
"Wha – oh," James swallowed the last bit of muffin and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "Voldemort. He calls himself Lord Voldemort. Kind of a stupid name if you ask me. Anyone who speaks a lick of French knows it means flight from death. Dumbledore reckons that's what he's afraid – are you okay?"
"Fine," Riddle shook his head. He had stood abruptly from the table and knocked over a glass of orange juice. "I have to get to work. You are welcome to stay here until I return and can find something to do with you."
"So you believe me about the time travel thing?" James stood up so as not to be rude. It was a late effort, but he figured cleaning the juice spill wouldn't go awry.
With that one word, Riddle fled the house and ventured out into the storm. He had made it to the end of the walk and the edge of the wards to apparate away before James had cleaned up the breakfast mess.
As he had nothing else to do, James went back to the basement bedroom he had inhabited the night before and took another nap.
Tom Riddle, he decided, was a strange man.
About a week into James' stay with Tom – he had decided that calling the man who was kind enough to give him a place to stay by his last name and so became more familiar with him – James was bored. The rain had not yet abated, the floo was still cut, and Tom was out every day between nine am and seven pm. There wasn't much to do in the modest domicile either; James wasn't allowed in the study, or Tom's room, or the potions' lab, and just about all magical board games required multiple players.
He also couldn't leave, for a variety of reasons, least of which was that Tom's neighbors would find it strange. Tom's house was in Drastik Alley, where anyone could recognize him as a Potter. And, to top it all of, James' apparating license wouldn't be valid for about thirty-five years.
On the bright side, he knew that Dumbledore would defeat Grindelwald within the year. The constant storm would have to abate long before then, too.
Tom claimed that, on his off hours, he was setting up a legal identity for James. James wasn't sure how to take that, but he was happy enough with it.
"How old are you, anyway?" James was juggling some chess pieces, something he had been practicing all day while Tom was at work. The thought had struck him, because Tom looked young, maybe not even twenty yet, but he bore himself with an age greater than his years. Sort of like Remus, only he looked older than he was, too.
"What brought this on?" Tom didn't answer, not really.
So James didn't either. "I'm eighteen, nineteen in March. I graduated Hogwarts last year – seventy-eight I mean - and I've spent a lot of time doing a lot of nothing."
Tom didn't reply for a moment. "I turned nineteen in December." He said no more and continued bustling about the living room, as though James' juggling didn't bother him, though the Marauder knew from experience that it did.
"My parents died about three months ago... I suppose they would be live now though," James pursed his lips. He hadn't really thought about that. His parents had been getting on in years; perhaps not by wizarding standards, but sixty-seven wasn't a bad age to muggles at least. They had had a slow death, they'd been sick for years, and the deaths weren't unresolved or anything. James had long since come to terms with their deaths, before he even graduated. Seeing them young and alive, while a nice idea, didn't have quite the appeal that he thought perhaps it ought to.
"My mother died in childbirth, I grew up in an orphanage in London."
James jumped slightly and dropped the stone chess pieces on his unprotected toes. He hadn't expected Tom to respond and groaned as he tried to soothe the abused phalanges.
Yet he couldn't keep his mouth from asking, "What about your father?"
Tom stood as abruptly as when James was talking about Voldemort and stalked out of the room. His response echoed in the room.
"I killed him."
For three days, Tom avoided James. James didn't have to be told why; very few people would admit to patricide. Hell, very few people committed patricide. But James also didn't care that Tom had killed his father.
By now, he knew there was a good reason for anything Tom did. And, if he grew up in an orphanage, that meant his father hadn't raised him. The man was probably a right bastard, maybe a Knight or just a cruel man who didn't deserve to have a family in the first place. There was a reason for what Tom did, and so James would not begrudge this of him.
So, after three days, James managed to corner Tom. Well, cornering was a very nice way to put it. Ambushed was a far more accurate phrase, as James was sitting on top of Tom with his wand at the other man's throat. Lightning flashed outside and rain crashed against the windows. Thunder rolled through the house, and James just sat on top of Tom, his knees digging into the bed, and a determined glint in his eyes.
"I've known you for less than two weeks," James' tone was cool and passionate, "and avoiding me doesn't change that. I don't know your history, I don't know your reasons, and I sure as hell don't know a great deal about what you believe in, Tom Riddle, but there is one thing I do know about you."
Riddle was defiant, even with James straddling his chest. James could tell he would be unseated quite soon.
"And what's that?" The words were almost hissed out, they held some much vitriol. Alright, so it was a dumb move on James' part, but he could think of no other way to deal with Tom.
"You aren't stupid," James said this quite plainly. "I don't know why you killed your father, but you have your reasons. I know that. A lot of people say blood is everything, that turning on your blood makes you a wretched excuse for a human being. Sometimes blood deserves it; I imagine your father did."
Another crash of thunder burst outside the window, illuminating the deadpan expression on Tom's face. "Is that all?"
"Er... yeah, I think so," he hadn't really thought beyond that.
Before James could blink, Tom had flipped their positions and had James on his back. He didn't dawdle and instead got out of bed; it was six am, too early for work, but too late to return to sleep.
"Get some sleep, James," Tom had an exasperated tone to his voice. James was still processing the fact that Tom wasn't mad at him for ambushing him like that and wasn't knocked from that state until he felt Tom's lips press against his cheek.
He lay in Tom's bed for a good ten minutes before two things occurred to him. The first was that the constant rumble of thunder had stopped.
The second was that something about that scene had been very interesting, and his hormones came into play.
James was out of bed and bolting downstairs to where he knew Tom was waiting for him, a grin spread across his features.
Author's Note: Um... yeah. Tom/James fluff. It exists, and the challenge was to write one... so I did :D I have several other challenges I'm writing from this challenge (including Snape/Tonks and Lucius/Luna), some of which will have individual files (like this one) and others will be part of Heliopaths. We'll see.
Anyway, I hope this wasn't wretched. It was fun to write anyway.