Warnings: rot-your-teeth-out-sweet, unrealistically intelligent Tom, unrealistically noble Harry.


Divergence

Part I: Hours

One would think that, after the disastrous Sectumsempra incident, Harry James Potter would have learned not to toss around random spells he had glimpsed in books. That, apparently, was not the case.

He was dueling with Voldemort and he knew he was steadily losing. The Dark Lord seemed to know all of the spells in Harry's repertoire, and the Boy-Who-Lived was reduced to dancing around the colorful streams of light that gushed from Voldemort's wand.

During a brief reprieve from the onslaught, he sought to cast a spell highlighted in an old tome at Grimmauld Place.

With desperation, he cried, "Sanus medica!"

And a hypnotic, golden beam sailed from his wand. For a moment, the world seemed to freeze. Voldemort stood rooted to the spot as his adversary's spell flew closer and closer until—

White. Light.

Harry, along with the other witches and wizards participating in the Final Battle, threw himself onto the floor of the Great Hall. Damn it! he thought. Everyone was going to die from this, and it would be all his fault.

But no one did.

There was a grand moment of stillness, before the Chosen One looked up slowly to survey the damage he had caused.

There was no damage.

Shock graced Harry's face as he picked himself up from his crouched position. In Voldemort's stead stood an adorable little boy who could not have been older than six. He was dressed in an outdated fashion and appeared to be slightly disoriented. The boy glanced about curiously at the men and women and teenagers who were beginning to stir.

Harry cleared his voice.

"Tom...? Riddle?" he inquired hoarsely.

The boy's eyebrows furrowed as he craned his neck to meet Harry's emerald eyes. "...Yes? Can I help you?"

"How—how old are you?" the young wizard croaked.

"Five," the Heir of Slytherin replied as he held up five fingers.

Harry began a hesitant approach. "Can you tell me what year this is?"

"1931." It was clear that he found Harry's line of questioning to be odd.

The emerald-eyed wizard paused before asking, "Do you know where you are?"

Tom shook his head. "No. Should I?"

The teenager's reply was cut off by a familiar voice.

"Harry, what are you doing? Can't you see that's Voldemort? Did you forget who Tom Riddle was? Kill him!"

The occupants of the Great Hall turned in unison to see the red-haired girl who had professed such harsh demands. Her cheeks were tinged pink with outrage and her nostrils flared as she huffed.

"No, Ginny. He's just a little boy. He isn't the Dark Lord."

"Yet!" Ginny exclaimed. "He isn't the Dark Lord yet. And what if this is all a trick? What if he's just trying to lure you into a false sense of security?"

"If he wanted to kill me, he could have done so while I was on the floor," Harry asserted firmly.

Everyone was now either staring at Harry, Ginny, or Tom. Tom won the 'popularity contest' though, for most of the people were gawking blatantly at the perplexed looking boy in the center of the argument.

The silence began to fracture as whispers broke out.

"—Is that truly You-Know-Who?"

"—He looks so...human! And young!"

"—He's really...cute."

The Gryffindor paid no mind to the musings. Instead, he waved his wand to manifest a translucent, blue shield that enveloped the former Dark Lord. He hoped it would be sufficient to protect the young boy from those who wished to take advantage of his defenselessness.

Harry then rounded on his audience, poised to say something before a bang! halted his words. He turned to the source of the noise. Grim-faced ministry wizards rushed in through the double doors of the Great Hall, brandishing their wands.

The Savior of the Wizarding World chuckled dryly, "Well, if it isn't the Aurors. Late as usual."

"What—what is going on?" asked the apparent leader of the group.

"Oh, we were just having the most pleasant tea party," Harry averred, his tone saturated with sarcasm.

The older man sputtered incoherently for several moments before Harry raised his hand in the universal signal for 'Stop'.

Harry gestured at the congregation of Death Eaters. "You might want to take care of them, you know," he suggested.

The other man flushed and intimated at the Aurors. An instant later, they were fanning out amongst the weary combatants.

Harry brought his attention back to the child before him. The fright displayed by Tom struck a chord with the Boy-Who-Lived, and it motivated him to do what he did next:

"I take it that you're confused?"

Tom gave a nod.

"Well, my name is Harry Potter. You can call me Harry, though. Why don't you come with me, and I'll explain things to you."

The former Dark Lord bit his lip uncertainly; the action was not lost on the older wizard.

Harry smiled with reassurance, "I won't hurt you. Promise."

"Ok," Tom said in a small, shy voice.

He reached out to take Harry's offered hand, and the two walked out of the castle together.


The initial hours following the Final Battle were rather hectic for most of the wizarding world. However, the atmosphere within 12 Grimmauld Place remained as stately and calm as ever. The sole inhabitants inside the House of Black resided in its drawing room.

"I'll have to apologize about the condition of this house," the older one confessed. "I only recently inherited this house from my deceased godfather."

"That's all right," said the younger one as he beheld the room with wide eyes.

"Now, you undoubtedly have some questions for me, Tom—"

"—Is it magic?" Tom blurted.

Harry gaped.

"Er... Did I...say something wrong?" the dark-eyed child asked fearfully.

The Chosen One swiftly caught himself. "No, no. I was just surprised at how quickly you caught on!"

"So it's true then? Magic is real?" Tom's countenance shown with triumph.

"Yes, Tom."

"I knew it! The other kids always said I was wrong. They teased me about it and..." his voice trailed off as he glanced to the side.

Harry dropped from sitting on the couch to kneeling before Tom.

"People are scared of what they do not know. They're sometimes mean about it, but you can be above them if you don't let it affect you."

Tom bobbed his head in acknowledgement.

"There are a few things you need to know. For one, the year is actually 1998. You grew up, you see. Back in that hall, I sent a spell at you and accidentally made you like this."

"You won't be turning me back, will you?" the five-year-old queried apprehensively. "I don't want that, and I don't think a lot of people would want that either."

Harry frowned, "What makes you think that?"

"The girl from earlier—you were arguing with her about, um," Tom floundered before continuing, "and then the way some of those people looked at me in the hall. They looked scared."

"I'll be honest with you," Harry admitted with a sigh. "You didn't grow up to be a very nice person."

Tom chuckled nervously.

"But you and the grown-up version of you aren't the same. I said previously that I won't hurt you, and that's the truth. I won't hurt you, and I won't allow anyone else to do so either."

"That's awfully nice of you. I—I can be nice too..." the younger boy then asked bluntly, "are you going to be taking me to an orphanage?"

"Do you want to be taken to an orphanage?"

"No!"

Harry smiled as an idea occurred to him. "That's good, because I would like you to stay with me. I can be like your older brother if you want."

"I would like that," Tom consented with an answering grin.

Their sentimental moment was broken when the fireplace flared to life.

"Harry? Harry?" called a female voice.

The aforementioned wizard stood and walked towards the cackling flames. He heard a soft exclamation of "Whoa" from Tom.

"I'm here, Hermione."

"Oh, so you are at Grimmauld. I had thought as much," the bushy-haired girl said briskly.

Harry looked apologetic. "Sorry about abandoning you guys. I just...had to get away, you know?"

Hermione's tone softened. "I understand Harry. You will be at the funerals, though, won't you?"

"Of course! ...Er, when are they?" Harry inquired sheepishly.

"Next Friday for the Weasleys' and the Lupins' at the Burrow. I'd imagine that you would be invited to the Creeveys' funeral as well, but I'm not sure when that is. There's also a memorial service being held next Saturday."

"Ok, got that."

"Harry? Who is that behind you?"

"Oh," the teen reached around to bring Tom into the foreground. "Tom, this is my friend Hermione. And, Hermione, this is Tom."

Harry cringed as he awaited judgment, but judgment never came. Instead, his bookish friend said:

"I trust that you know what you're doing. And I also want to tell you that I'm researching the spell you used during the duel."

He responded gratefully, "Thanks 'Mione."

"No problem. I have to go now, Harry. We'll be in touch."

"Bye."

The fireplace extinguished as if doused by a bucket of water.

Tom asked inquisitively, "That was amazing! How did you do that?"

Harry smiled and began to explain...


The Chosen One was awoken on Sunday morning by the insistent knocking at his front door and the shrieking of Walburga Black's portrait. He stumbled out of bed, went to check on Tom, and then padded down the stairs. Throwing open his front door, he found himself face to face with Percy Weasley, of all people.

"Er, hey Percy. Do you want to...come in?"

"That would be appreciated. But I'm afraid that this isn't a social call," said Percy as he followed Harry into the house.

"Sorry about the portrait. She's a bit volatile," Harry muttered while waving a silencing spell in the direction of the Black matriarch.

He led the ginger-haired man into his kitchen.

"So what is it that you need?" asked the younger wizard when they sat down.

"Well, you see," Percy emitted cautiously, "the Ministry's been made aware that one Tom Marvolo Riddle is under your custody. There have been a lot of rumors floating around about him, and the Ministry would like you to bring him in tomorrow for questioning."

"Like, a trial?"

"That's...one name for it," Percy divulged timidly, fearing Harry's reaction.

"Will Veritaserum be employed?"

"...Most likely."

Harry sighed, "We'll be there, but only because I can't see a way out of this. I doubt that the interrogation's going to reveal much, though, because Tom really is just a five-year-old boy."

The older wizard sighed as well, but his was a sigh of relief, "Thank you for your cooperation Harry. I can show myself out."

For a long moment, Harry sat staring at the grains of wood described on his table. Deciding that a heavy heart would not help matters, he shook himself out of his daze and looked up.

A pair of dark eyes peered at him from the threshold of his kitchen.

"Tom," he said in mild surprise. "I thought you were still asleep."

"I was, but then I heard screaming."

"How long have you been here?"

Tom shifted uncomfortably. "Well, I, um, overheard your conversation with that man."

"Then, you know what will happen tomorrow?"

"Yes."

"Are you nervous?"

"A little," Tom glanced down at his hands, "but I won't disappoint you, Harry."

Harry beamed at those words. "I don't doubt you. Now, why don't we have some breakfast?"