~The Time of Roses~
Summary: Harry travels back to 1942 in order to kill the 16 year old Tom Riddle. But apparently, someone else had the same idea. Who is the mysterious Arcturus Black? And why is he kissing Riddle? SLASH HP/TR and...?
Author's Note: This is a Challenge-fic, written for UbiquitousTime's amusing The Beginning of the End challenge. The line I was assigned will appear as the final line of this story. (Sorry, I couldn't make it the first. That would have given away too much!) I won't tell you yet what that line was; otherwise I would spoil the ending of the story. This fic will have ten chapters, and they will all be posted before the challenge deadline of September 5. Yes, that means very fast updates!
(For those who are following my other Tom/Harry story Surrender: The next chapter of that story will be posted soon. I also have also just posted the first chapter of an original fantasy story on FictionPress - see the link in my profile. Constructive criticism and feedback would be deeply appreciated!)
Warning: Rated M for slash (homoerotic romance) between Harry Potter and Tom Riddle, with a little interference from... Well, you will see!
It was not in the Winter
Our loving lot was cast;
It was the time of roses -
We pluck's them as we pass'd!
That churlish season never frown'd
On early lovers yet:
O no - the world was newly crown'd
With flowers when first we met!
'Twas twilight, and I bade you go,
But still you held me fast;
It was the time of roses -
We pluck's them as we pass'd!
(Thomas Hood: "Time of Roses")
"Sweet Merlin - where did you spring from?" The tall, lanky boy in Slytherin robes stared at Harry as though he were some sort of ghostly apparition. "I swear you weren't here a moment ago. Did you just apparate here? How did you do that? I didn't think people could apparate onto the Hogwarts grounds."
"Oh..." Harry slipped the golden time-turner hastily inside his robes. "I'm... I'm afraid I got lost," he muttered vaguely. "The school grounds are so vast, I lost my bearings. I'm a new student. My name is Harry Black."
"Harry Black?" A slow grin spread over the Slytherin boy's face. "Well, that's a rather nice change from all the solemn names of distant stars and constellations the Blacks usually inflict on their children. Your parents must have had a bit of common sense - a rather rare trait among the Blacks! Which branch of our family are you from?"
Our family? Harry suppressed a groan. Perhaps claiming to be a member of the Black family hadn't been such a great idea, after all. Perhaps he should have put a little more thought into his cover story. Hermione would of course have spent months doing careful research before traveling into the distant past, wouldn't she? But Harry had been so excited to find that a time-turner had mysteriously showed up in his school trunk the day Dumbledore had died that he had never stopped to draw up a detailed plan. He had thought for a few minutes about how far to spin the delicate clockwork, but the answer had seemed obvious: He had to go back to the time before Tom Riddle had committed his first murder. And then he had to kill him. It had seemed fairly simple, really.
"Which branch-? I'm not sure." Harry felt himself flush a little. "My parents were always a little vague about that part."
He held his breath, but apparently the Slytherin boy seemed to find his answer quite reasonable. "Can't say I blame them. Most Blacks are way too obsessed with the family tree. I don't think it's healthy." He smiled at Harry. "My name is Alphard, by the way. Alphard Black."
Harry grinned back and shook the boy's hand. Alphard Black - Sirius' uncle? The one who was blasted off the family tree? He seemed like a good sort, Harry decided.
"Come, I'll show you to the headmaster's office." Alphard took Harry's arm. "Professor Dippet will want to see you at once, I'm sure. You'll have to get sorted, too, I suppose, just like the other new boy."
"The other new boy?" Harry followed his guide across the familiar Hogwarts lawns towards the castle. He glanced around, trying desperately to orient himself. Spring. It feels like spring. Yes, it must be; I can smell something sweet and fragrant, like roses.
Harry hoped he had landed in the right year. He had aimed for 1941 or 1942, but those strange little marks on the time turner had been terribly confusing.
"Yes, there was another new boy who arrived here a few weeks ago. Strange, that people keep arriving so late in the year! The other new boy is a Black, too, Arcturus Black. He's in fifth year, like me." Alphard's dark eyes glittered. "He was sorted into Gryffindor, can you believe it? His parents must have been in shock when he told them."
"He was sorted into Gryffindor?" Harry stared at Alphard. Wait, how can that be right? I thought Sirius will be the first Black to be sorted into Gryffindor House?
"That's right. Too bad, actually. I would have enjoyed his company in Slytherin; he seems like such a decent chap. Most of the other Slytherin students are... Well, I suppose they are all right, mostly, but they do go on and on about their high ancestral names and the purity of their blood and things of that sort. And then this new boy from the Ancient and Noble House of Black comes and gets himself sorted into Gryffindor! It was rather funny, seeing everyone's faces when they found out. I thought old Slughorn, the potions master, would have had an apoplectic stroke when he heard." Alphard sighed. "Arcturus turned out to be a great Quidditch player, too. I swear he's even better than that Moody boy! The Gryffindor team captain, John Lupin, made Arcturus seeker as soon as he saw him on a broomstick. Slytherin House was all set to win the Quidditch Cup before, but now it looks as if all bets are off."
"Really?" Harry was feeling more and more confused. Arcturus Black, the Gryffindor seeker? Why have I never heard of him?
"Do you play Quidditch at all?" Alphard looked hopefully at Harry.
Harry couldn't help smiling. "I do, yes."
"Excellent!" Alphard lit up. "Let's play after dinner, shall we? Tom will want to see if you are any good."
"Tom-?" Harry felt a slight shiver at his spine.
"Tom Riddle. He's the Slytherin Quidditch captain, even if he's only a fifth year. Which year will you be in?"
"Fifth," said Harry quickly. Back in his own time, he had finished his sixth year at Hogwarts, but in this time, he had better get as much access to Riddle as possible. He made a quick calculation in his head. If Riddle was in fifth year, this must be... 1942? Yes, that seemed right.
"Good afternoon, gentlemen."
Harry glanced up, startled, at the sound of a familiar voice. Dumbledore - a much younger Dumbledore, whose hair was still auburn - was beaming at the two boys. Harry's heart leaped with sudden joy. He felt like bursting out: "You are alive!", but he bit his lip.
"Good afternoon, Professor Dumbledore." Alphard greeted the teacher with a smile. "This is a new student, Harry Black. He got lost out on the grounds, so I thought I'd better bring him to the headmaster."
"Another new student?" Dumbledore regarded Harry thoughtfully over the edge of his half-moon spectacles. "Well, well, well! Life seems to be full of surprises these days. Delighted to make your acquaintance, Harry Black! You can run along now, Alphard - I will bring Harry to Professor Dippet myself."
"All right. See you later, Harry!"
As soon as the Slytherin boy was out of earshot, Harry took a deep breath and turned to Dumbledore. "I'm sure this must seem terribly odd to you, sir, but I have a very strange favor to ask you. You see, I am..."
"A time-traveler from a distant future with an important mission to fulfill at this moment in time?" Dumbledore's blue eyes twinkled.
Harry sputtered. "How... How did you know-?"
"Ah. Well, it what the other new boy said... So it's true then?" Dumbledore seemed amused. "Did you bring me a note as well?"
Dumbledore nodded. "Yes, Arcturus Black brought me a note, mentioning the great importance of his mission and asking me to assist him in any way I can. It was signed by one "Albus Dumbledore". In my handwriting." He peered at Harry over his glasses. "Do you have a note like that, too, perhaps?"
Harry shook his head slowly. He could feel his mind spinning. "No, sir," he whispered. "When I left my own time, you wouldn't have been able... to write a note..." He swallowed. "You had just died. But I think it was you who left me the time-turner before... before it happened..."
"Hm." Dumbledore regarded him thoughtfully. "Did I?" He was silent for a moment. Then he smiled. "Let me ask you a question instead, then, Harry. A few weeks ago I received an early birthday present from an old friend of mine, a most delightful gift. It was a rather unusual pet. I wonder if you can tell me what sort of pet that was?"
A grin spread over Harry's face. "Fawkes? You just got Fawkes the phoenix?"
Dumbledore inclined his head gravely. "Indeed I did, Harry. I hadn't named him yet, since I was still searching for an appropriate name for the little creature, but now that you mention it, "Fawkes" does have a certain ring to it. Yes, Fawkes he is! Now, let's see... You need me to do you a favor, you say? You will need to be added to the school records, of course, and Professor Dippet will need to be convinced that he was indeed expecting you to arrive at Hogwarts. A little memory charm should do the trick, I would think. And you will need a trunk and some school books. And young Arcturus needed a broomstick as well - what about you, Harry? Are you a Quidditch player too?"
"Yes," whispered Harry. "A broomstick would be good..."
Dumbledore smiled. "I will see what I can do, my young friend. In the meantime, you need to go and see Professor Dippet and get sorted. I assume you are a Gryffindor as well?"
Harry thought for a moment. "I am, yes. I mean, I will be. But... But perhaps it would be more advantageous to be sorted into Slytherin this time. I'll talk to the hat about it."
"Talk to the hat?" Dumbledore stared at him for a moment. "You know, that's not a bad idea, Harry! That's quite... cunning. Perhaps there is a bit of Slytherin in you, after all, young Gryffindor."
"How'd it go, Harry? Which house did you get?" To Harry's surprise, Alphard was waiting for him outside the headmaster's office when he came out.
Professor Dippet peered out into the hallway. He was a tiny, bewildered little wizard with a wild nest of white hair. "Alphard? Oh, good, you can take Harry to the Slytherin common room and introduce him to the others."
Alphard lit up. "It's Slytherin, then, Harry?"
Harry nodded. If that's where Riddle is, that's where I'll be.
"Of course it's Slytherin, Alphard." Dippet chuckled. "All Blacks end up in Slytherin House. Well, except for the curious Arcturus. I have no idea how to account for him." He beamed at Harry. "Now, my dear boy, I am so sorry that there was no one to meet you at the Hogsmeade Station; I only remembered a little while ago that I was supposed to arrange for that." He sighed. "I'm not as young as I once was, unfortunately, and one does begin to forget things..."
He shook his head sadly and returned to his office.
"Look, everyone! Another new student! I found him out on the grounds. And this one's in Slytherin!" announced Alphard with an air of breathless triumph. He seemed to want to claim personal credit for Harry's arrival.
The Slytherin students who were gathered in the common room gazed up at Harry with interest.
"This is Harry Black, a distant relative of mine." Alphard sounded quite pleased with this newly discovered family bond. "He's a Quidditch player, too!"
Harry glanced curiously around the Slytherin dungeon, one of the few parts of Hogwarts that was unfamiliar to him. He had only been in the Slytherin common room once, in his own time, and he hadn't spent much time taking in his surroundings then; he has been too busy trying to find out what Malfoy knew about the Heir of Slytherin.
The Slytherin common room lacked the warm cheerfulness of Gryffindor Tower, but it had a certain sombre elegance to it. Dark green tapestries adorned with strange alchemical symbols decorated the walls, and the gleaming mahogany floors had intricate inlays in the shapes of serpents. The furniture was old, elaborately carved in sinuous curves, and upholstered in emerald velvet. Wax candles flickering in magnificent silver candelabras cast the room in a soft golden half-light. On a low table in the middle of the room stood a vase with a single dark red rose, a vivid splash of color among the green-hued shadows.
Harry glanced curiously at the Slytherin students. Alphard was making introductions now, and Harry tried hard to remember all the names. Some of the names and faces were half-familiar: The handsome Cepheus Lestrange and the simpering and insincere Adolphe Avery must be the fathers of the death eaters Harry had met in the future. And the flaxen-haired Abraxas Malfoy must be Draco's grandfather; he had an air of angelic innocence about him that Harry felt certain was quite misleading. The wistful Ambrosius Flume with the large, soulful brown eyes must be the future owner of Honeydukes; Harry remembered meeting him once in the future. And then there was a sweet, brown-haired girl named Jane Selwyn... She looked so horribly like her unborn daughter Dolores Umbridge that Harry shuddered. Next to Jane stood a pale, dark-haired girl. Her face was that of a stranger, but Harry knew her eyes at once: Black as onyx, and curiously cold and lifeless. She had to be Snape's mother, Eileen Prince, as sullen and inscrutable as her future son...
And there were others, many others. Harry could not keep track of them all. But something drew Harry's glance, irresistibly, to the shadowy corner of the room, where a boy was sitting by himself, reading. The boy glanced up for a moment. Slowly, he rose to his feet and stepped out into the flickering candlelight.
Harry felt a shiver at his spine as his glance met the boy's wide silver-grey eyes. For a moment, Tom Riddle looked at Harry as if mesmerized. An expression of wonder brushed over his pale, handsome face. Then he said, in a quiet, all too familiar voice: "Harry Black? I.. I think we have met each other before..."
Harry's mouth felt dry. Oh, Merlin! He recognizes me. Voldemort knows who I am, before we have even met. This wasn't supposed to happen... Perhaps our strange connection is more powerful than time itself... He shook his head slowly. "No," he whispered. "I don't think we have met each other yet."
The luminous silver gaze rested on Harry's face. "But you seem so terribly familiar." Suddenly, Tom reached out and brushed Harry's messy hair away from his forehead. "You... you have a scar." His voice was a whisper.
Harry flushed. "Yes. It was... an accident. When I was a baby."
"Was it?" Tom traced his scar lightly with his finger. "How very odd..." Harry half expected to feel the searing pain that had shot through him when Voldemort had touched him in the graveyard, but there was no pain, just a strange tingling sensation.
"What's odd?" Harry tried hard to keep his voice steady, and he forced himself to look into the eyes of the future Voldemort.
A sudden smile danced over Tom's pale face. "Ever since I was a small child, I used to dream of a boy with a scar like this. The boy in my dreams even looked a bit like you, Harry Black. Strange, isn't it?"
"Yes," whispered Harry. "That's very... strange... "