Title: Pen Pals
Summery: What if Harry had a pen pal as a child another boy who was all alone. Harry makes friends with the young Tom Riddle as their letters bounce through time to the one they needed the most.
DISCLAIMER!: I own nothing or Harry never would have ended up with Ginny.
Harry hauled himself up off his bed carefully. Yet again the Dursleys seemed to believe that while he was protected by a 'mass murderer' that did not include getting any sort of regular meals. The same thing happened every year, he came back with a decent weight and muscle from school only for his body to go through withdrawals from the lack of food. Really Hogwarts spoiled him too much, he knew he should be able to last much longer without food than he did. But it was still nice to have grown some because of it. He had finally hit a growth spurt near the end of term. He doubted he would ever get any respectable height but he could hope.
He sat up from his bed as his aunt entered his room.
"We are leaving for a few hours. We are going to receive an award." The horse like woman sneered at him.
Harry didn't even bother trying to say anything on his behalf. It would only make things worse.
"You will stay right where you are and don't even think of sneaking out. And don't you lie and say you don't, I know you sneak out and steal our food when you think we don't know."
"…" Harry sat silently on his bed never raising his eyes to meet his aunt's even if they hadn't struck him for fear of Sirius he didn't want to test how deep that fear went. With one last sneer passing her face she turned and left the room. After the door closed it was followed by a long series of clicks indicating that he had been locked in… again.
Hours slipped by with only the ticking of his clock and the setting of the sun to mark them. After what seemed like ages he heard a loud thunk from downstairs.
'I guess they're back now.' Harry thought offhandedly. He didn't bother getting up from his bed as it really didn't matter if the Dursleys had returned or not he wasn't getting out of his room tonight. Anything he could have used for picking numerous locks on his door had been worn out from use.
It wasn't until the handle of his door jiggled that he sat up. What in Merlin's name could they want with him now? He already finished all of his chores.
"Hi there Harry." A woman with short purple hair opened his door
"Dumbledore sent us. We are supposed to take you away from the muggles."
"Got enough locks there, Harry?" Tonks asked smiling cheekily. She didn't catch Harry freeze at their mention.
"Oh them. Yeah I suppose so. My uncle is kind of paranoid you know it used to be a storage room before I moved into it." It wasn't a lie. Uncle Vernon was a paranoid man and the room had stored Dudley's old toys before he moved into it.
"Oh I guess that explains it then must not feel like getting rid of anything my old man is a muggleborn and he's the same way. He's a bit more of a slob though. Mum can't stand it." Times like this were when Harry was most happy that he was a Gryffindor, he didn't think he could bare the shame that would come if they knew what really happened. He was ashamed of himself. He had to protect the people he cared for, he had to protect everyone, but he couldn't even better his own treatment from his family. At least with Gryffindors they would never think about delving deeper into all of his half-truths and omitted words. A Slytherin would have questioned it, Tom always did. Tom would have made a great Slytherin. When he was a naïve first year he thought he would be able to keep all his new friends and he wouldn't be seen as evil. The only thing that his choice had done was to make it easier to hide his shame.
Tonks was defiantly a Gryffindor through on through. She only saw what she wanted. She never noticed his sheets that had been rendered threadbare from being bleached of his blood so many times. She paid no mind to the cat flap on his door nor the fact that most of the things in his room were broken. No, none of that was seen.
As he began to pack his things he wondered what would have happened if he had met Tom a few years latter. Would he have been broken beyond repair? Would he have tried to hide his shame from his friend? Somehow he didn't think it would matter, Tom always knew.
"Come on Harry this is taking a little long don't ya think." Tonks winked at him before pulling out her wand. Terror seized his heart as he watched her cast a spell that began to pack his trunk for them. After a few moments with no owls arriving he breathed easy. He only had two strikes left before he would be expelled. Thank every star above that the minister forgave him for the 'Large Marge' incident.
Soon all his belongings were haphazardly packed into his trunk via Tonks' wand. The pair of them went down the stairs to join the others in the kitchen.
"Harry." Remus turned and smiled warmly at his cub.
"There's no need to call me that anymore, Harry."
"Who are all these people?"
"Ah yes I don't suppose you would know them would you. "
"The young woman who went up to get you is Nymphadora."
"Don't call me that. My name is Tonks."
"She prefers to go by her surname."
"You would too if your mother named you something as horrible as Nymphadora."
"Anyway, the others are Kingsly Shaklebolt, Alister Moody, Mundungus Fletcher, and…" Remus went on further but Harry was more focused on what these people looked like. It was a little amusing that such crowd of wizards as these were occupying his aunt's perfectly normal kitchen.
Moody directed them outside where the street was darkened, not even the street lamps shown any light upon Privit Drive that night. As Harry listened to the others around him he learned that they would be flying to 'Headquarters' wherever that was. He for a moment wondered why they were taking something that would take as long as brooms but considering his experiences with magical travel he didn't say anything about it.
After what seemed like ages their ragtag little group arrived on an empty street and Moody handed him a little slip of paper.
"Read it. Remember it." The man said gruffly
As Harry did what the battle worn ex-Auror said a house began to appear where that wasn't before. Without a word between them Mad Eye burned the letter he had handed Harry and the rest stepped through the threshold.
After walking in and having his eyes adjust Harry found himself inside a dreary old house with ancient looking décor. But that wasn't what caught his attention. In the hallway Ron and Hermione stood arguing, an argument that ended as they turned and looked at the entryway.
"Harry!" Hermione through her arms around her friend
"What have you been doing all summer?"
"Nothing really just my chores and writing Tom." For all her cleverness Hermione was still a Gryffindor and Harry would always treat her as such. It kept his secrets safe like that. If everyone thought he was one thing then no one would ever suspect that he wasn't.
"Is that one of his letters there?" she gestured to his pocketed hand that was still curled around Tom's letter from the end of term.
"Yeah. He was just telling me to sit tight."
"Can I read it?"
"Sure, why not." Harry handed over the letter without a thought to the matter at all. That letter had made him keep going through the motions of living on some days. It wouldn't seem like much to anyone else but it really was.
Calm yourself my friend. I am not going anywhere.
I am not a good person I know this. You are right, I don't trust easy but for you I will always act as your knight. You may forget it but I care for you. I always have.
Most women I know are not as kind as you my friend. You deserve someone caring for you for once. You look after everyone even if they have no significance at all.
I am sorry I upset you so; I believe I got jealous of the dead for holding your attention.
Hermione read the letter Harry had handed her. It seemed to her that Tom was under the impression that Harry was a girl, and her dear oblivious friend had no idea.
"Its good that he cares for you." Hermione smiled as she handed back the letter. It really was good for her friend that Tom apparently cared so much for him. Harry always seemed to go through life as if trying not to get too attached to people, even before the tournament. She really didn't understand it, he treasured his friends and he talked to people but it was like he was… not afraid… no that was one thing that he wasn't. It was like he thought everyone was going to leave if he blinked so he only let a few people in. He hid it well but it showed sometimes worse than others. Quite honestly she wondered if she had been the only one to ever notice.
Mrs. Weasley interrupted her thoughts with a loud exclamation as she rushed over and checked Harry over as if she didn't expect him to be fine. As she looked Harry over she scolded Moody for being so careless.
"Harry dear you are much too skinny. But don't you worry your just in time for supper." Mrs. Weasley smiled motherly
After they were all ushered into the kitchen the plates were filled and their bellies were fed. All too soon they were sent to bed.
Harry and Ron both trudged to the room they were going to share and turned in for the night.
After waking the next morning he crept down the stairs to the kitchen where he found the Weasley clan, Remus, and Sirius sitting for breakfast.
"What have you been doing here?" Harry asked Ron carefully. There had to be a reason that Tom was the only one to talk to him over the summer.
"Cleaning mostly. This place isn't exactly livable you know. "
"Now that you're here you can help us."
"If you like." Harry offered offhandedly. He was still rather upset that they had been together for most of the summer and hadn't told him. But anywhere was better than the Dursleys.
After breakfast finished they all marched up stairs and began Mrs. Weasley's war on dirt. Ancient heirlooms and dark objects were tossed and buckets and rags were brought in and the Dursley's upbringing was put to use. Each of their task force grabbed a rag and a bucket and began to wash away decades of grime.
As they sifted through dirt and artifacts there was one than caught Harry's eye. It sparkled through the dust and drew him to it.
"Mrs. Weasley can I keep this?" Harry asked gently holding up the locket. He had learned long ago making it seem like a want was not particularly important would be less likely to be denied out of spite. Rationally he knew Mrs. Weasley wouldn't do that but his upbringing ran too deep sometimes to go against.
"I suppose so dear. It certainly seems to be all right but it's locked tight. If it starts acting strange don't hesitate to bring it to someone to destroy."
Harry laid on his bed in Grimauld Place that night staring at the handsome gold locket that he had acquired. It had a silver and emerald snake inlaid in it that formed a 'S'. With a spark of inspiration he hissed to it "open up."
Surprisingly the locket did as he asked and clicked open.
"Tom!" Harry yelped, surprised to see that the portrait was of his friend.
"Harry." The portrait whispered. The poor thing seemed to be shocked to see him. But then again with a parseltounge password it was likely he was shocked to see anyone. Harry smiled as he looked at his friend.
"Its really you then."
"Yes my friend, I am me."
"How old where you when you had this picture taken."
"Nineteen." Tom smirked at his friend
"But how? You are the same age as me."
"How old are you right now?" Tom was curiously, his Harry looked so young. He was carefully ignoring the fact that his friend was male. It didn't particularly change anything in his mind. Harry was his that was all there was to it. He was of course less than pleased about being wrong about his friend but being the way he was it didn't seem very likely that the deception was intentional, at least on Harry's part.
"I know you are clever enough to figure out a way."
"Well I know about timeturners but I don't think those would take you back far enough to lose a locket four or more years in the past."
"You are correct. A Timeturner would not do such a thing. When you finally figure out how I am here I am sure that you and I will have a long talk about it. Until that time please don't tell my younger self about this."
"Why can't I tell you I found your locket?"
"Harry, at this point I don't have a locket. Therefore telling me that will create confusion. Besides my locket hopped through five years into the past if not more. Its better that I don't know."
"I suppose so."
A/N: How many of you are happy or mad at me now? I'm sorry it took so long as usual to update.