Bellatrix watched gleefully as Potter lurched violently in the other boy's grip, probably in an effort to put his heroic self between the memory charm and his friend's head.
It didn't work, his friend - Riddle, Tom Riddle? - was holding him extremely tightly, they were practically melding into each other in a tangle of shifting grip and tussling, and so the curse hit dead on.
Potter looked absolutely terrified, his eyes aglow with a flame, and then the grip Riddle had on him slackened.
Her Lord shone with triumph and dark, seductive satisfaction…and then just the tiniest bit of something else, that she couldn't read.
"No," Potter shook his head. "Shit, no - Tom?"
Riddle's gaze cast to the Chosen One in a slight frown, icy, after a while.
"Do I know you?"
Potter's face seemed to crumple totally, but the fire didn't vanish from his devastated, anguished features.
A rustle was growing among the Death Eaters, murmurings that hushed as the Dark Lord circled the two boys in a predatory fashion, directing his wand at Potter.
Her insides bubbled with anticipation - finally, they would see the Boy Who Lived destroyed, and the world would be theirs for the taking.
Oh, her Lord would be so happy!
The Dark Lord inclined his head for someone to drag the struggling saviour back roughly, away from the other boy, and her husband immediately stepped forward, lunging.
Potter was slight of frame, but wiry it seemed, stronger and more powerful than he looked, for in the end it took both Rodolphus and Lucius to tug him backwards, holding him in between them.
Another Death Eater…she cared not for the pathetic man's name, had fallen in the ensuing scuffle.
Riddle watched Potter's movements with sharp, careful eyes, but looked back to the Dark Lord when her Lord crouched before him.
She struggled to remember why she would know the name Riddle…it wasn't a pureblood name, but this Riddle was clearly important to her Lord. Her lord was hissing something, and Potter was obviously reacting to it, but didn't speak for the silencing charm that had been placed on him, his wand and wand hand pinned to his chest in a manner that it could break with the slightest pressure from Lucius.
After a moment, Riddle rose to his feet, regarding them all intently, suspiciously.
He walked over to Potter, grabbing the boy's jaw harshly, before moving his fringe aside with the tip of his…yew wand.
Yew, like the Dark Lord, but that was surely a coincidence.
When he next spoke, it was in English…and oh, this Riddle was a parseltongue? What did all of this mean?
Fury struck her gut at the thought that the Dark Lord had an heir, with someone that wasn't her.
"If what you say is true," Riddle said softly, staring into emerald eyes. "Then I will kill him myself."
Voldemort crouched before the boy, knowing he had to do this perfectly, and studying the eyes of his younger self intently.
He knew Tom had a Munin Band, but he also remembered being him, and so had guessed the combination accordingly, and added the power to overwhelm it simultaneously.
He indicated for someone to drag Potter back, not wanting the prophecy child unwatched and close to him when he was dealing with Tom, and ignoring the ensuing fight aside from an inward sneer as Selwynn collapsed under Potter's wand.
Potter…he'd never hated anyone so much. The boy was the epitome of everything that he wanted to forget, a constant reminder of his failures and his past.
He wanted Tom Riddle gone.
This whole situation was a nightmare.
He clasped a hand on the shoulder of his younger self, slipping into Parseltongue because it was more private, and more likely to inspire a level of trust, comradeship or respect in Tom.
He knew the boy must have really forgotten, otherwise he was sure he would have been reacting to Potter more, to the hiss of his pain and the grind of abused bones and muscles.
There was nothing, but a detached curiosity secondary to a fervent desire to know what was going on.
He kept his wand drawn, recognising the danger of putting Tom in a position in which he would feel remember - his younger self wouldn't remember how he got here.
"Tom," he hissed. "I know this is confusing for you, but you have to listen to me very carefully. My name is Lord Voldemort."
"Voldemort…" violet eyes pierced him, like something out of his worst imaginings, a memory too vivid, a ghost that haunted him incessantly. "You're me…but that's impossible…unless…time travel…I…"
"The boy, over there, his name is Harry Potter. He doesn't look like much, but he manipulated you with knowledge of the future, then drugged and took control of you. He's Dumbledore's right hand man, he's got the man's lightning bolt mark on his forehead, he seeks to take us down and our legacy, and so brought you to the future in hopes of using you against me."
"I'm attached to him…I've attached my life to him," Tom returne warily, glancing once more at Potter, eyes narrowed. "How do I know you're not deceiving me?"
"I swear upon my magic that Harry Potter is not your friend," he felt their magic crackle at the oath, and Riddle went rigid.
He suppressed his smile.
He almost felt sorry for the child…Tom was brilliant, but a teenager ultimately, and no match for his greater experience and knowledge.
"He used a love potion to make you care for him."
Tom stood abruptly, venom in his eyes, and for a moment he was disappointed that this hadn't been more of a challenge.
Still, he watched cautiously as Riddle stalked over to Potter, grabbing him harshly (and he supposed some things didn't, unfortunately change,) speaking in low, menacing tones.
He almost laughed. Tom must have forgotten, otherwise he'd know Potter could speak Parseltongue too.
The amusement drained slightly at the words.
Damn. Perhaps they could do it together…?
Nonetheless, he surveyed Evans icily…maybe….
It would hurt Harry more coming from Tom.
"I wouldn't deny you the chance to torture him," he returned indulgently.
Zevi raced through the corridors of the ministry, Abraxas at his side.
They came to a a halt at the sound of voices…screams.
They continued more slowly, and he rejected the Gryffindorish impulse to rush forwards, and they peered cautiously around the column, wearing notice-me-nots.
It took him a minute to believe what he was seeing.
Harry was being held on his knees between two Death Eaters, one who possessed a remarkable likeness to Abraxas…so his son? While Tom held him under what looked to be the cruciatus.
It took him another minute to process the desperate thoughts that this was mistake, and another second to realise that even if it wasn't, there was nothing he could do about it.
His stomach twisted, nausea rising.
Tom was torturing Harry.
It didn't seem…right, it just didn't! Why would Tom be?
They annoyed each other all the time, fought and yes, hurt each other, but this was different.
Harry wasn't being given the opportunity to fight back.
Tom always let Harry fight back, even if he cheated (according to Harry) to stack the odds more heavily in his favour…he still have Harry the chance if they were fighting.
Sure, he omitted frequently, especially in regards to his plan, but he didn't stop Harry from playing. It was just…wrong to see this.
The agony made him want to cover his ears, and he glanced at Abraxas in horror and desperation. The Malfoy mask was locked in place, and that in itself warned him of his friend's and rival's own response.
"I'll handle my son," Abraxas said tightly, "you cause a diversion…you have the exploding potion on you, right?
""Yes," he said, silently warning Malfoy not to get used to trying to give him orders. "We just need to get Harry free, he'll help us…and Granger should have got back up by now."
"At least the mud blood can do something right then," Abraxas sneered, before shaking the thought away. "Okay, on the count of three…"
Lucius Malfoy had barely a moment to react, the explosion coming out of nowhere, sending them all to their feet.
Many of the lessers were injured, not having the skills of a veteran to shield quickly against such a surprise attack. He looked wildly around for Potter, who was thrown out of their grip - the Dark Lord would have his head if the Boy-Who-Lived escaped - only to freeze as a wand came around his throat.
The teenager behind him was as tall as him and…Merlin.
"Hello father," Abraxas greeted coldly. "We haven't been formally introduced yet, but I've heard so much about you from my grandson. Sweet kid. Harry saved his life, did you know that?"
He paled. No he hadn't.
Potter had saved his son's life? But they were enemies! Draco had assured him so, rivals…they…he felt lost. Did he owe Potter a life-debt?
He'd feel it if he did, unless…he was so confused.
"Let go of me," he gasped, trying to maintain composure as smoke cleared around them.
He looked around sharply to notice Potter clutched Riddle in a similarly hostage like position, preventing the irate Dark Lord from cursing him.
"This is treason - our Lord wouldn't like-"
"Your Lord and mine are two very different people," his father hissed. "And I don't know what's going on here, but my Lord would destroy you for allowing Harry to be tortured like that. What did you do to him?"
Lucius swallowed, having seen for himself just how talented that boy was with torture, and having felt it too under the older variant, a prickle of fear chilled his spine.
"Riddle's obliviated. What do you want from me?" he demanded. "You won't kill me - I'm your son!"
He hated how his voice cracked at the last. It was odd to parallel this teenager with his father, and yet the traces were there, and they were unmistakeably related.
He felt the abject dread radiating off his father, to strong an emotion to truly mask from another of their creed, at the mention of the memory charm.
His question was, however, ignored, and he, along with Bella in the arms of someone who looked disturbingly like Severus, but less greasy (and he was guessing the source of the multitude of explosives) were dragged backwards, shielding their capturers from attack.
"I've got a Portkey-hold on!" Potter breathed, masking his torture well, and for that, Lucius felt a reluctant admiration.
The Dark Lord was charging towards them, features lit with rage, only to be distracted by a sudden flood of Light Side members.
He almost gaped - his son was working with Dumbledore! - and they were gone.
Harry landed on the grounds of Hogwarts with a sickening thud, only thirty seconds later.
They'd dropped Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange at little Hangleton (and Voldemort was sure to investigate his Horcruxes now, wasn't he!) before grabbing the Portkey again quickly while Abraxas assured his son he'd be in contact soon...
He barely had a moment to gather himself, before slender fingers were gripping his face fiercely, examining him.
"Harry - Salazar -are you alright?" Tom. He felt dazed. "Oh, you brilliant, brilliant man, I knew you'd get it-"
He grabbed at Tom's hands, pulling them away, anger dulling the pain all over his body.
"What the hell were you thinking Tom?" he growled. "Are you okay? - You couldn't have possibly known that would work-"
"What's going on?" Abraxas asked, faintly. "I-I thought you were obliviated Tom - you were-"
The Malfoy Lord trailed off. Harry winced at the thought of what Tom had been doing, and those demanding hands moved to his shoulders, manoeuvring him surprisingly gently into a sitting position.
He felt fingers dancing across his injured ribs, skimming across mottled skin, knowing exactly where to look for the wounds.
Harry flinched at the coldness, still unnerved, everything happening so fast.
Realising Tom wasn't going to bother answering questions or explaining himself, Harry cleared his throat awkwardly.
"Tom has a Munin Band, but Voldemort knows the combination, or at least, we need him to think he does - I'm not sure if it's because he can solve it, or because we need him to think he does, I'm guessing the first one - ouch - stop prodding me, Tom! - but anyway, I gave him my Munin Band when we were…when were on the floor and he was stopping me from getting in the way of the spell-"
Tom's grip flexed against him, violently, in response to that particular idea.
"And so yeah, Tom wasn't obliviated….but we needed Voldemort to think he was, so we faked it. We needed time to get to the Portkey, and…then you guys came…" he trailed off, looking at them questioningly.
"I summoned them," Tom told him, seizing his jaw again, pulling his attention back, and apparently looking for something in his eyes, before returning his hold too Harry's shoulders. "You didn't answer, are you alright? Stupid question, of course you're not-"
"T-Tom," he gasped, when the other's arm slid under his knees, apparently about to pick him up bloody bridal style or something. "I'm fine! Well, fine enough…and I can walk, and - give me my band."
Everything was jumbling, too many thoughts and too many reactions. His voice was greatly restrained. He was still pissed off.
Tom had no way of knowing that reckless plan would work - he could have lost his memory for real!
Tom's eyes cut to him, and he seemed to pick up on Harry's emotions well enough. He held the gaze, his heart pounding. He was able to make a rough estimate to what the other was thinking.
"Tom," he repeated, very softly, dangerously. "Give me my freaking Munin Band. Now."
There was a moment of utter tenseness, and then, to his wariness, Tom reached for another band - his own.
"I daresay it makes more sense if we swap, then Voldemort's more likely to get it wrong, and I don't know if my memories tied up in yours…I need to do some tests…you can change the combination."
Harry seized it, hoping his hands weren't shaking too much, changing the combination to override it immediately, before sliding it on his wrist, an immense relief coming over him.
He was safe.
Tom was studying him, that gaze missing absolutely nothing, way over even the normal levels of intentness. They were both somewhat manic, it seemed. It was the adrenaline.
Zevi made a somewhat awkward sound.
"We'll, er, go and tell people that you're alive…like Granger. She'll be relieved."
Tom didn't reply, and that in itself seemed to have been enough of a dismissal, for Abraxas and Zevi quickly strode up towards the castle, clearly having their own mental struggles to contend with.
A sudden silence fell on them.
"What were you thinking?" he demanded, incredibly uncomfortable with how hoarse his voice had grown.
"I'm pretty sure that's my question," Tom said quietly, though his composure did nothing to hide the vehemence that underlined his tone.
Harry opened his mouth to rant, beyond angry at Tom, and he wasn't even sure why, only for his words to turn into a bitten-back groan as the Slytherin Heir hauled him to his feet.
"I won't bother asking if you're injured, I know you are. So come on."
"I'm not going to the Hospital Wing," Harry snapped, trying to pull back, his muscles taut with tension.
It was a good thing, on hindsight, that Voldemort-Tom had tortured him so extensively, otherwise he was certain he'd be freaking out more at this close proximity.
His stomach knotted.
Tom had cast a Cruciatus at him…an unforgivable…the torture curse…the one you couldn't use unless you meant it…but it hadn't been as bad as Voldemort's…almost muted.
Either way he had too many questions.
Damn it all, his head was spinning.
Tom wasn't as injured as he, none of their enemies being allowed to harm him, but at this moment Harry couldn't help but resent that just slightly.
He didn't want to see Tom hurt, ever, but that didn't take away from the fact that it was horrible that he was once more the vulnerable one.
It was unfair - as if some Fate enjoyed seeing him wounded, and Tom acting psychotically overprotective, and Merlin, that was an odd description. He'd never really attributed Tom to even be a protective person. He didn't even know why the thought had entered his head.
"It wasn't a question," Tom replied, somewhat tightly. "I, of all people, know exactly how much pain you are in, so don't even try and tell me you are not in severe need of healing. We'll talk after."
He couldn't decide which was more ominous: facing Pomfrey in this state, or Talking To Tom. Yes, it required mental capitals.
"My answer wasn't asking permission-" Harry began, mutinously, the stubbornness somehow a compensation for the other scaring the crap out of him with his memory game stunt.
Tom cut him off, favouring him with that shark smile.
"You're injured and about to collapse, darling, and I'm responsible for it. Start walking to the Hospital Wing or I will pick you up and carry you, and there will be nothing you can do about it as the suddenness upwards motion would probably cause you to faint."
"I'm not a girl, I don't faint! And you're not car-"
Beyond frustrated, Harry glared, but when Tom took a step even closer, he decided that maybe walking was the best option after all…
Sirius marched down the halls of Hogwarts, portraits having said Harry and Riddle had passed that way not half a minute ago.
They were, it seemed, on their way to the hospital wing, and didn't that just chill his blood. He hoped it was Riddle who was injured, not his godson, but the sinking feeling in his heart told him differently.
He'd been at St Mungos, helping out with his old Auror Training, when Alphard Black had shown up. Then he'd promptly come here, to demand what was happening, and then to the Ministry…and now back here with the knowledge this was where his kid would be.
His kid…when had that happened? It was James' kid, but, but…in a way, Harry felt like his too. He damn well loved the boy like a son, that was for sure.
He froze for a second upon seeing the two, then hurried forwards.
He had barely reached them when Riddle whipped around, eyes filled with a terrifying fervour.
"Don't touch him, he's got broken ribs, if you hug him you'll probably cause him to puncture a lung."
The words were clipped, deadly.
Harry turned, pain in his gaze, but nowhere else.
He was hiding it…
"Sirius, thank God you're alright, I was worried-"
"What do you mean he's got broken ribs?" he demanded. What had happened? "Come on, kiddo, let's get you to Pomfrey."
He took another step forward, faltering at the murderous expression on Riddle's face.
Terror flooded him at that look, which was ridiculous, he had been trained as an Auror and this was a teenager! Still, he barely refrained from taking a step back, and he was supposed to be a Gryffindor.
It screamed possessiveness, something primal, dark and territorial that didn't quite look right on a human face. He swallowed, but held up his hands.
"I won't hurt him," he promised, wondering with horror on when and why he had to plead with this Psychopath to get near Harry.
"How would you know, you have no clue as to what his injuries are," Riddle returned coldly.
"Guys…" Harry started, appearing annoyed.
"And you do?" he meant it sarcastically, but the Slytherin Heir's expression hardened to stone.
He noticed his godson go tense at the words, the flat way they were stated, and was starting to get an awful feeling…
"I trust Sirius," Harry sighed heavily. "He won't hurt me. Now let's either get this hospital stuff over and done with, or let go of me so I can do something useful."
The grip Riddle maintained on Harry's arm tightened fractionally, and the two of them exchanged a look.
He suddenly couldn't help but think, irrationally, that he was intruding or had walked in on them or something with the sheer unresolved tension and emotions and issues that hung between them like a dead weight.
Riddle surveyed him, with a warning expression, before outside of Harry's vision Tom's head inclined almost imperceptibly, before he turned.
Feeling bizarrely like he'd passed a really hard NEWT, Sirius stepped forwards.
A/N: Thank you so much for all your kind words, they are very much appreciated :) You guys are the best. I've figured out that I average about twenty reviews per chapter. :)
I wanted to get this chapter up quickly for you, hope it's not disappointing.
Next chapter is a "character" chapter, so it should be in my forte and therefore good! Haha.
PS: Read Krysania's "Fate Changed, now What?" story, it's a Fate's Favourite Future AU, and absolutely amazing and deserving of comments if you love this variant of JK's world :) Links on my profile...
PPS: If any of you guys have Tumblr! Follow me :D If you want, of course. The link is on my profile...