Chapter 22:

Harry had done his absolute best to be careful with Riddle's mind - he'd taken away the knowledge of the future and of his being a parseltongue. It hadn't been too hard, as he was pretty sure he'd only slipped up around Tom once or twice.

He could hope that he hadn't messed it up.
He assumed he hadn't, because there was no immediate lash back or reaction. Riddle's expression just went very distant and Harry slipped away to bed.

When Tom entered, the other Slytherin had just calmly slipped into bed to sleep without so much of a glance in his direction.

He considered the plan a success, even if he spent all night awake out of sheer paranoia and the fact he didn't like sleeping nowadays anyway. He toyed with the vial of Dreamless Sleep potion instead, insides churning uneasily.

It was stupid to second-guess the memory wipe just because Riddle was capable of acting like he wasn't a complete bastard some of the time. That didn't make him a nice person, and he was certainly not a good one.

Even if it was, it was irrelevant! Even good people shouldn't know the future. If he wasn't determined that he wasn't going to change anything and was just going to soon get back to his rightful time period, in which case he needed to be able to slip back into his life.

If he knew he was going to be stuck here, he would happily obliviate the knowledge out of his head for safe keeping and because ignorance really was bliss regarding this. It was...freezing to know people's fates, exhausting to have to be so careful and keep everything straight in his head so he didn't accidently screw anything up.

He couldn't even get close to anyone at this stage, not really, because he didn't know if he was just going to disappear, because he was never really supposed to be in their lives to begin with.

Obliviating himself on this matter would have been a kindness, if it was his personal choice. It would certainly be less...burdensome.

The next morning, he felt bone-tired from little to no sleep and irrationally twitchy. Or perhaps not so irrationally - this was Riddle he was dealing with, after all. It was like poking a viper, liable to strike at any given second.

Riddle was eyeing him, but, of course, Harry couldn't delete everything, so he would be. He figured it was normal. He hoped it was normal.

It seemed to be normal. Things settled over the next few days. Riddle still pestered him of course, and the Death Eaters would still watch him...but Riddle didn't speak in parseltongue to him, or specifically hound him with questions about the future.

It was...a relief, that he hadn't screwed anything up, as much as it was...when Tom had known, he hadn't had to pretend in the same way, where he had to pretend and lie almost constantly around everyone else.

It was exhausting, and only in having the bonds of silence and secrets temporarily broken, did he even realise how crushing the weight of it all was.

Imogen and Roger were great, they really were - he'd been absolutely terrified that he wouldn't make any friends whatsoever, and, even with them, there were times when he just felt so...lonely.

They were his friends, yeah, but they didn't quite understand. They couldn't, it really wasn't their fault, they just couldn't. They hadn't been through the same things as he had, they weren't Ron and Hermione. To them, he was Harrison Evans, a somewhat quiet, strange Slytherin transfer student, who had been homeschooled. His guardians had recently died in the Grindelwaldian attack, and he supposed that, at least, was somewhat honest.

It didn't matter if he missed somebody knowing the truth though, especially when it was the young Dark Lord. This was for the best, and it wasn't like Tom was his friend. Tom didn't have friends, and nor did the boy want any either.

He was in Potion's Class, working with Roger - in this time period, houses were so much more mixed up in classes, rather than in his own time when a large majority of them seemed to be Gryffindor/Slytherin lumped together.

He had Potion with Hufflepuffs, Charms with Ravenclaws, DADA with Gryffindors, it all varied.
He didn't see that much of anyone to be honest, he spent so much time training, whenever he could, or studying books not strictly on the curriculum.

He wondered if his lessons with Tom were still on, because, as reluctant as he was to admit it, they were actually really useful. He felt like he learnt more and accomplished more than he had in whole years with some of his previous, official Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers.
He normally worked with Roger in Potions - seeing as Riddle and Prince were no longer occasionally hassling him into partnering them with him, or some other Slytherin more 'suitable' for his colours.

Today was no exception.
They were making an Erumpet Potion. It was delicate work, the exact type that Harry hated in potions, because a wrong move could make it...well, erupt, before its time.

He should have known that was like Chekov's gun, and that something was thus bound to go horribly wrong.

One second, they were just working on it - Harry doing the dicing and cutting whilst Roger tendered to the potion itself and making sure everything was done on time, informing Harry's methods too.

The next second, there was a flash of something and their cauldron had just exploded and a hand was on the scruff of his neck, dragging him down to the floor and sending him tumbling beneath the table.

There was heat and smoke, an acrid stench, fingers digging into his flesh and breath on his ear and screams and a babble of panic.


Harry automatically tried to scramble up, as the air began to clear, but the weight of someone else kept him firmly in place, with fingers biting against his shoulder and the back of his neck. He could feel burns all along his arms from where the explosion had made contact with him, which would have shred him apart from having been so close - blinded him at least if the volatile liquid burst into his eyes.

"Stay down."
The words, the order, had him freezing instinctively, more because he recognised the icy, sibilant hiss than anything else, and more because he recognised the significance even.

He felt sick.

It didn't stop him from shoving Riddle off him the second he could, and struggling to reach Roger. That didn't stop him from seeing the shadow of death and the reflection of Lord Voldemort glaring back at him in the dark glint in Tom's eyes. A shudder ran down his spine, though he refused to cower.

"Oh-oh my-" Slughorn's voice sounded faint, and a thick, suffocating silence had fallen on the room.

That cauldron shouldn't have exploded. Rogers was decent at potions, and Harry knew that while it hadn't been going flawlessly, it shouldn't have gone this bad either.

Riddle had done it. Done something. He just didn't know /what/.

And now Roger was whimpering on the floor, horribly burnt all over, swollen, bleeding from numerous cuts with his...shit his chest. It was a mangled wreck, with part of the rib cage protruding. His leg wasn't much better.

And it was because of him.

He was scrambling immediately, Rogers' eyes filled with pain and fear, somehow knowing what was going on here as his eyes flicked past Riddle's shoulders.

"He needs the hospital wing. Madame Wilson may still be able to save his life."
"Y-yes, hospital wing - if somebody could-" Slughorn began, ashen.

Harry wasted no time, gently scooping the boy up, buckling beneath the weight for a few seconds, before cradling the other close to his own chest, mindless of the blood seeping into his robes.

"I'll make sure they get there, sir. You should clean the classroom and check for further injuries."
The next second a hand was gripping his elbow painfully tight, nails digging into the burns and tugging him out of the classroom.

Harry had a bad taste in his mouth, and he was proved right when Riddle promptly shoved him into an empty classroom and warded the door, a few corridors away.

He met the other's eyes immediately.
"Do whatever you want to do to me just let me get him to the hospital wing, please."

"I find this a far more fitting punishment, actually," Riddle hissed. "I'm not sure whether or not to be more impressed with you, Potter." The young Dark Lord sauntered forwards, caressing a hand down his cheek, mockingly. "Or just disappointed and angry. Really, a memory charm? Aren't you just so much more ruthless and like me then you'd love to pretend, my dear." The mocking, petting stroke turned to a sharp, contained, slap and Harry held Roger even more protectively against his chest as his eyes flashed and his cheek stung. It didn't hurt so much as it was degrading, and his arms were pinned in holding Roger up.

"I hope you die," Harry snarled, refusing to get caught up in it. He couldn't, not now. "Don't involve other people in this, your quarrel is with me."

"Aren't you just the precious hero," Riddle scoffed. There was no amusement in his voice anymore with the nickname, just ice and death. A hand closed around his throat, tightening. "I should kill you right here, right now. Then I'll kill all your friends for your sheer fucking audacity."

Roger moaned and whimpered against his torso, and Harry jerked back as best as he could.
For the first time since he'd come here and started playing his games against Tom Riddle he felt honestly, truly, scared out of his mind.

His mind raced desperately, heart pounding.

"You can't do this. Roger doesn't die here and now, I know, I'm from the future," he said quickly. "So you have to let me help him."

"Such say that like I'd believe a single word that comes out your mouth."
Riddle drew his wand, and unease twisted in his guts.

Harry didn't believe begging would help, it never did, and Lord Voldemort was hardly the type to show mercy. He could drop Roger and fight Tom, and get the boy to the hospital wing in time...except it wouldn't be on time. They needed to go now, there wasn't time.

"Slughorn and people will be suspicious if we don't turn up at the Hospital Wing!"

"The effects of the unfinished Erumpet Potion were simply too strong and your friend's insides melted and he died," Riddle returned, without missing a beat. "Tragic accident. You promptly broke down and sobbed and clung over him and how much you failed to save him and how this is all your fault. I, prefect that I am, stayed with you and comforted you in the immediate aftermath of your grief."

"Tom, please, I'll do anything-"

"Anything?" Riddle purred. Harry was going to be sick, Roger looked dead already, aside from the faintest up and down movement of his chest. But...could he risk the future and everything for the boy? His head hurt, fragmented thoughts everywhere.

"-You'd have done the same thing in my place. I'm just trying to protect the future, myself, you'd do exactly the same," Harry added quickly.

"On your knees."
Harry stared at the response, with a mounting horror, hesitated, glanced at Roger, then dropped without a second's thought, bowing his head, shoulders stiff.

"Good boy." It was utterly mocking and he hated it, gritting his teeth. He did his best to reassure himself that this wasn't real submission. It was only submitting if it was done willingly, this was done simply for the sake of saving a friend and furthering his own aims.

"Please," he repeated, glaring furiously at the floor.

"You make such a pretty picture begging like this. It suits you, being on your knees at my feet."
Was he imagining it, or was there something off in Tom's tone?

"Such a pity it's not willing and thus isn't what you want," Harry mumbled. "You know I'm not doing this for you, don't you? It's driving you mad. That's why you always act nice and charming with your prey first, make them love you, want to serve you. It's a greater power than blunt force, because blunt force still leaves people open to turn against you the second something better comes along."

It was a guess more than anything, but Riddle's breath stopped from the briefest moment. He'd hit bullseye. He wetted his lips, glancing up.

"Our game has no rules. Obliviating you was a bloody great move and you know it...aside from the fact it didn't work." Why hadn't it worked?

He could feel Tom's eyes burning into his skin.

"Go and take him to the Hospital Wing. Be in the common room in the evening, I will deal with you then. Try a stunt like this again and you will find me not to be so forgiving."

Harry surged up onto his feet in seconds, rushing out of the room with Roger, nearly stumbling.
He got to the Hospital wing.

Roger's chest was fixable.
He'd have breathing difficulties for the rest of his life, but he would live.

He wouldn't walk.

This wasn't over.

A/N: Short, I know, but it's something? Hope you liked it. Thanks for the reviews! :) Happy (belated) New Year!