Harry blinked, groggily, the world seeming white around him.
"Harry!" fingers closed around his hands, squeezing. "Healer, he's waking up - someone get me a healer!"
Everything slowly fuzzed and spun into focus, Sirius' face swimming into view.
"Siri.." he began, before coughing, his throat dry. He struggled to sit up, and his Godfather's arm immediately wrapped around him in support, a glass of water pressed into his hands.
"Drink slowly," Sirius advised. He took a sip, carefully, before pushing it away.
"What happened? Is Tom okay?"
"-Just tell me." Panicking, he began to swing his legs out of bed, only for Sirius to quickly acquiesce.
"-He's fine, really! Tom's fine," his godfather said, holding up his hands. "Everyone's…fine."
"Back in time with no memories, Hermione really is brilliant."
"She is," Harry smiled fondly. "And Dumbledore? What's his view on this?"
"Ah…Dumbledore," Sirius rubbed his head somewhat sheepishly, eyes turning cold. "Dumbledore's a bit preoccupied at the moment to interfere with anything to do with you."
Harry's head tilted with curiosity, a silent gesture for more information.
"Ron and Hermione are okay too, they'd be here, but I sent them home. They've been here all week, they were exhausted."
Harry nodded in acknowledgement.
"Good," he said. "Sirius…what happened to Dumbledore?" he persisted.
"He's in the middle of getting sued, with a full investigation into his affairs during the wars and interwar years and has been stripped of all his positions."
Harry's mouth opened, then shut. A smug sense of satisfaction filled him, along with a sense of sorrow. Dumbledore wasn't bad, he was just…misguided in what he thought was best. Tom was equally manipulative and cared even less about the welfare of his followers, he was just more…charismatic and open about it, in a way. He didn't know. His stomach churned.
He couldn't believe he was alive.
He'd…wow. He'd expected everything to go so differently, he'd planned so extensively on how everything would go, he hadn't expected to live…wow. He was alive.
A breathless laugh escaped past his lips. After everything, he was still alive!
Sirius was watching him, but now there was a dark tint in his eyes. Harry frowned, deflating slightly.
"What is it?" he asked softly. Sirius shot him a smile.
"You need to rest-"
"Sirius." He pressed his hand on the other's wrist, insistently. Sirius' jaw tightened.
"Tom talked to me about your plan."
"-You don't have to sacrifice yourself all the time, Harry! You could have come to me, I would have helped you find another way."
"There was no other way," Harry said, brow furrowed. "Besides, I didn't want to worry you-"
"-It's my job to worry about you," Sirius said, gripping his harm tightly. "I'm supposed to look after you, not the other way round, you're the kid-"
"-I'm not though," Harry whispered, suddenly uncomfortable. Was that what Sirius wanted him to be, a child? The baby he'd left at Godric's Hollow? "I've not been a kid for a long time, not really. I-I've never had parents, I've always looked out for myself, I'm sorry, but I can't do the whole parent thing like you want me to do."
His Godfather looked incredibly hurt. Harry felt awful. Then, Sirius' expression smoothed slightly, still sad, and the other squeezed his hands.
"I understand…you're not a child, and you're…" Sirius swallowed. "You don't need someone telling you what to do all of a sudden, but….just let me be there for you. Help if you need it, a place to stay if you have nowhere else to go…family. Would you be okay with that? Just…"
"Yes," Harry said immediately, smiling weakly with relief. "Yes."
Sirius grinned, then pulled him into a hug.
"I was so scared, I thought I'd lost you…"
They'd been at St Mungoes for about a week, and Tom had only just found and remembered the letter in his pocket. He stared at it for a moment, before slitting the envelope and reading impassively, not noticing how the envelope was slowly getting crushed in his hand. His jaw clenched, his posture growing rigid.
"Tom," Harry sauntered into his ward (they healers had initially tried to stop them from visiting each other, but they'd ended up sneaking out their individual rooms in the middle of the night and running into each other anyway, so now the nurses had just given up, and tried to make sure they were at least authorised and checked in their excursions) only to freeze.
He didn't look up.
"Tom…what's that?" the other's voice sounded oddly faint.
"Your little suicide note," he replied.
Harry approached him, carefully, eyes upon his face as if to gauge how far he'd got.
"Err…did you, erm, read it?"
"That's the point of a letter, I believe," he replied, his voice sounding strangely detached.
"Right. Yeah. Um. About what I said-" Harry began.
"Which part specifically?" he looked up. His friend's cheeks were burning red. "The bit about how I'm the most brilliant, greatest man you've ever met, or-"
"-Hey, at the time I thought I'd end up with the mind of a one year old!" Harry snapped, flushed. "Give me a break on how…er…"
"Sentimental and mushy it was?" he smirked. Harry groaned, burying his head in his hands.
"Can you just pretend it never happened and forget what I said?"
"You didn't mean it?" he queried innocently, knowing full well the other had. "Normally people are more truthful when they think the ramifications of their honesty won't get back to them."
Come on, admit it aloud.
"…Shut up, Tom."
"I'm touched you think so highly of me, darling."
"You're not shutting up…"
"No, but it's sweet, really."
"I hate you."
"Not according to this, don't let our fans get hold of it, they'll take it as proof of our romantic attachments."
"If you're just going to mock me for it-" Harry bit out, starting to look more defensive and angry than embarrassed now. He shook his head, seizing hold of Harry's arm before he could storm out back to his own room.
"Sit. Hold it. One moment."
Not really sure why he was doing this, but knowing it was bizarrely easier than trying to have a conversation because Harry would just interrupt him all the way through, he flipped the paper over and grabbing a pen from the many assortment of gifts (he was so ridiculously bored here!) off the table.
Harry watched him curiously, the flush beginning to fade from his skin.
He started to write.
Harry looked down at his hands, the room silent but for the scratching of the pen.
The remembrall burned in his pocket, it was what he'd come to see Tom about. He'd opened it and…it had been this year.
It had been the last fifty years or so of Voldemort's life, like the obliviate charm had intended…but Hermione had told him that a remembrall would just hold all the memories placed into it. There was no other memory.
Had the remembrall been empty or something? He was puzzling over this more when Tom handed him the piece of paper, an unreadable expression on his face.
Slightly nervous, Harry took it, and read.
You are amazing.
One of the most amazing things about you is how you have survived so long being such a colossal idiot!
I quote: "You'll forget me one day, I'll just be the memory of a boy you used to know, and that's okay." How on earth is that ridiculous idea still in your head, hero? No one could ever replace you in my perception as that is kind of the point on why I followed you through time.
Moreover, your claims that I'll forget you? Logically flawed.
I have a Munin band so I won't get obliviated and I can see no other reason I could possibly forget about you in anyway or form or matter considering you're the only person I've ever got close to and the only person I have any interest in being close to...not to even go into the fact that you're generally unforgettable anyway.
I've just gone to a serious amount of effort - rewriting history itself - to not forget you, so such a claim is absurd and you should put it out your head and point me in the direction of the Dursley's so I can mutilate them for making them think you're not worth it.
If you weren't, I'd have left by now. I have high standards and have commonly been called a perfectionist. Read what you like into my opinions on you from that statement.
Secondly; "that's fine. I want you to find someone else, or whatever your preference is, nobody deserves to be alone, least of all you. You deserve everything, Tom."
Going on from the previous point…if I deserve everything, then what makes you think you have the right to remove yourself from my life until I want you to? (which, just in case you're still somehow in doubt, is never.)
If I deserve everything, I deserve to get to keep you.
My preference? That would be you again. No one else could compare, and no, that does not mean I fancy you. Preference - a person, object, or course of action that is more desirable than another, or the state of being that desirable choice. Something desirable is something worth having, and not necessarily something you want sexually. That makes you my preference, so stop trying to add emotional sentiment, teenage hormones and societal expectations and interpretations on everything.
You should know by now that society doesn't really work for us, and the dictionary hardly has the lexis to describe us.
"Be happy" - in what universe are you thinking that I would be happy if you had the mind of a toddler? I'm certain I made my dislike for the idea perfectly evident, and while you may have had some notion of me 'getting over it' in combination to your rather pointed comments about preference and not being alone, I can assure you that I wouldn't.
I'd spend the next however-long finding a cure because ruling the world without you would hardly be very fun. Who would suffer through playing nice to the politicians with me?
The only agreeable aspect of your letter is your suggestion of "equal opportunities," so I'll talk about it more to you later.
I think that covers the most important errors you have made, and, in all honesty, I'm running out of space…
Love, obsessively yours, I don't really care what we're supposed to put here,
PS: "so many things I never told you" ? Consider me intrigued.
Harry swallowed, emotions bubbling his chest, feeling Tom's eyes on his face as he read. Finally, he looked up, once he was sure his features were composed.
Tom raised a brow.
"Did I miss anything?"
"No…no I don't think so." He glanced down at the paper again, the lines of Tom's neat calligraphy, and his own messy scrawl on the other side. His mouth felt dry. Tom had never been that open with emotions, not like that, and the fact that he'd mimicked his letter, essentially in a gesture to put him at ease over his writings (and he was sure Tom would have scorned it!) was...touching.
"You know, most people would class that response as sentimental or whatever," he murmured.
"We've already covered that most people are normally wrong," Tom replied, meeting his eyes. "All I gave you were facts."
Harry hid a smile. That was just so…Tomish a response.
"I presume you wanted to talk to me about something?" Tom prompted after a moment, and it took Harry a moment to catch up.
Right. The remembrall.
He pulled it out of his pocket, and Tom's eyes immediately zoned on it, before back at him.
"You opened it."
It wasn't a statement.
"It has Voldemort's last fifty years in…and not just because of the obliviate, there's no other memory, I don't understand, was it empty?"
Tom's expression had frozen.
"What?" Harry demanded, worried now. Had something gone wrong?
"A remembrall doesn't take duplicate memories."
Harry frowned. Duplicate…?
"You mean it won't take the same memory twice?"
"Exactly," Tom said quietly, studying him, waiting for him to catch up.
Harry's eyes widened after a moment.
"The time loop always happened. This was always supposed to happen like this?" he yelped.
They hadn't…beaten Fate. This had always been fate, or so it seemed. Voldemort's memories were already in the remembrall, because Voldemort had already been obliviated by him on a previous time loop.
Once upon a time, Tom Riddle had become Voldemort for real, and then Voldemort was sent back to be Tom and so that part of history kept repeating itself in a circle, whereas Tom, the spare strand, was left to continue as he wanted while Voldemort was stuck in a perpetual loop, a broken record, repeating the same fifty years or so over and over again, forgetting each time that he'd done it before.
"How long have you had that figured out?"
"Since Voldemort told me his plan. But no, this is still the same time loop, it's just that everything coalesces onto this point, so all the time loops come together while we remain linear as were not stuck in it. This is still the first time it's happened to us, but not to Voldemort if that makes sense?"
"Not really," Harry said honestly. Tom rolled his eyes.
Zevi didn't know when it was decided, maybe they knew all along.
They were staying. They were leaving their families and lives behind for the sake of Tom Riddle and Harry Potter Evans. How sickeningly Hufflepuff of them, almost.
Yet, Harry had told them all the deadly fates that awaited them back home…he was a Slytherin, self preservation.
He didn't presume to know how easy or had it was for the others, or what their motivations were, he only knew his own. He studied stories, people, and this was where the greatest story ever was.
Those two were the centre of everything.
He couldn't…leave just as everything he'd dreamed of and envisioned was about to come true. He swallowed. He'd miss his family so much, up until the end, he'd always kind of assumed that this trip was temporary.
He'd, despite his reservations on its beneficial effects upon Harry, always thought Tom would win outright. He should have known they would wear each other down to another compromise.
Of course, he didn't completely remove the thought of going back to his own time - Tom still had the time spell, if he was so inclined, Zevi was sure he'd drag Harry back at whichever point the wanted and simply murder an unsuspecting Voldemort in his sleep and replace him.
It wasn't inconceivable. He didn't know.
Before, he suspected they'd never stay with Tom like this, loyalty and fascination regardless…but he'd seen this story play out, and, somehow, found himself changed by it.
Harry and Tom had that effect on people; everyone they came into contact with were somehow changed from the experience.
He'd send a Doppleganger back, and live to watch his own children grow up.
It would be…good. Different, but good.
It would take some time to get used to, but…
Well, they had all the time of their lives now…
He looked as Harry and Tom endured the fussing of the healers (it was their release day) and regarded the clamour of the press crowded the outside of the magical entrance of St Mungoes hospital.
The newspapers had been filled with sensational stories about the two of them, regarding the defeat of the Dark Army and Dark Lord.
He knew the real story was so much more greater and more complex than anything the papers, or even he in his marginal insight, could imagine.
And this was only just the beginning...this was two years.
He could only guess at what they'd do in a lifetime.
He'd look forward to this.
One chapter closed; another begun.
He couldn't wait.
Harry felt nervous.
He'd argued that they could just use the muggle entrance to leave St Mungoes, but Tom had reminded with some amusement that, unless they were taking the Dark Lord route as opposed to that of a political campaign primarily, he was going to have to get used to the press.
It didn't make it any better. He felt nauseas.
Tom eyed him for a moment, before clapping him on the shoulder, squeezing reassuringly.
"Bring on the world domination,"he returned dryly.
They paused for one more minute, just lingering on the moment, the edge of everything.
Their eyes met. He nodded.
And, together, they strode out into the blinding flash of the cameras.
A/N: I really hope that was a good ending. Writing it, I realised just how phenomenally difficult ending was. Hope it's okay.
Thank you so, so much for all the reviews and the support through this! Words can't describe...I sincerely hope you enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed writing it. I feel like I've improved so much as a writer from my crappy beginnings to my...relatively good writing now :D
I can't believe it's over. Oh, I might actually be tearing up a bit cause I'm totally lame. Would you believe that when I first started writing I didn't have a clue or a plan in my head? It all just kind of came together as I went along...wow. This thing is probably the longest story I've ever written, and I've written a two hundred page novel!
I don't know if I'll be doing a sequel, I'll admit I don't have one planned, but I'll still be working on PP and DD so it's not completely goodbye to Tom and Harry yet. Who knows, maybe I'll even try something completely different...I can confirm that I will be doing an AU oneshot for DD of what would happen if Tom's plan had worked, or Harry's. So who knows, if some of you are interested in reading that..."
Goodbye Fate's Favourite. I have loved you deeply.
PS: It would be utterly awesome if everyone who read this and enjoyed it (why would you be on the last chapter if you
hated it?) would send a review, be it even a =) or I liked it. That would just be brilliant.
I'll see you around,
Fictionist out! x