~Wizards Who Meddle With Time~
Summary: Three years after Voldemort's death, a depressed Harry is still obsessed with Tom Riddle. But neither death nor time can stand in Hermione's way when she wants to help. She drags Ron back to 1943 to kidnap an unsuspecting 17 year old Tom and bring him to Harry in the future. HP/TR slash. Two-shot.
Rating: M for slash (same-sex relationship) between Harry and Tom Riddle. If that's not the sort of story you want to read, please grab your time turner and go back in time to before you clicked on this story.
Author's Note: This story is written for Gamma Orionis' Boot Camp Challenge (prompt: "fascinated"), and Silver Owl Malfoy's Roses&Confessions Challenge (Harry/Tom pairing, prompts "Chamber of Secrets" and "wand case")
This will be the last thing I post for about a month, since I will be traveling to enchanted and unplottable places without Internet access. I will be writing, though, so expect updates to all my stories (including the last half of this one) when I get back.
Warning: Somewhat far-fetched plot and headache-inducing time paradoxes up ahead. Hey, it's summer!
The assassins were swift and soundless. Tom didn't have time to react before two Immobilus spells hit him squarely in the back. He felt his body freeze, and he fell helplessly down onto the flagged stone floor with a thud. A sharp jolt of pain seared through him, and dark red blood pooled on the floor near his face. He had a horrible feeling it must have come from his broken nose. Behind him, someone cast a silencing spell on him, just for good measure. Not that there were many people around to hear him cry for help at this hour of the night anyway.
A small boot kicked him roughly over onto his back, and his two assassins peered down into his face.
Stupefy, thought Tom, still dazed, and looked up at the two blurry faces above him. He had been practicing wordless and wandless spells for a while now, and he was getting pretty good at them. But to his surprise, he felt his wordless spell stall and hover; it semed to have hit an invisible obstacle of sorts.
One of the dark-clad assassins laughed, a surprisingly feminine laugh. "Oh, please, Tom! We are not schoolchildren. We know how to block wordless spells, so you can save yourself the trouble. Levicorpus!"
To his alarm, Tom suddenly found himself floating upside-down in the air, drifting in front of the two assassins, who proceeded rapidly down one of the torchlit passages. Tom tried desperately to think. What in Merlin's name was happening to him? The two assassins appeared to know the layout of the school perfectly, for there was no hesitation in their steps. Who were they? And what did they want with him? This was clearly no ordinary school prank, since these were powerful wizards with skills far beyond even Tom's. What sort of spell was this they had used on him? Levicorpus? He had never heard of that spell before.
"Someone's coming!" hissed the taller of the two assassins. Tom could see him out of the corner of his eye from his strange upside-down position; he caught a fleeting glimpse of a pale, grim face and red hair.
"Use the cloak," said the female assassin calmly, and Tom felt something feather-light descend over him. An invisibility cloak? In spite of himself, Tom was impressed; these assassins were good.
But what in Salazar's name did they want with him?
For perhaps the first time in his life, Tom was relieved to see Horace Slughorn's corpulent form rounding the corner.
"Hello?" whispered the potions master, holding up a lantern and gazing around. "Who is walking around the castle at this hour? Good evening, ma'am. May I ask what you are-"
The female assassin - who appeared to be the more powerful wizard of the two - hit him rapidly with a well-cast Confundus spell, and Slughorn just stood there with his mouth half-open, looking oddly lost, and blinked slowly while Tom and his two assassins disappeared around the corner.
They were heading up the winding staircases towards the seventh floor now. Tom hoped desperately that his attackers would trip over the trick steps or be confunded by the moving staircases, but the two of them leaped easily over the gaping chasms that opened before them in the stairwell without even looking down. They appeared to know Hogwarts like the back of their own hands. By Salazar, these were professionals! Tom's mind was hovering between fear, curiosity, and admiration.
Halfway up the last flight of stairs, they encountered the insubstantial figure of the eccentric Gryffindor house ghost, but to Tom's great dismay, Sir Nicholas didn't rush to alert the headmaster that one of the seventh year students was being kidnapped; he merely stared at the three of them for a long moment while an expression of wonder passed over his insubstantial features. Tom groaned inwardly. He knew that the Gryffindor ghost didn't exactly care for him, but he was certain that the spectre could see his rigid form perfectly well, even through the invisibility cloak. Wasn't he going to come to Tom's aid at all?
"Hello, Sir Nicholas!" said the female assassin brightly. "What a pleasure to see you."
"Likewise, my dear," said the Gryffindor ghost and gave a gallant, ephemeral bow. "What a lovely surprise, seeing the two of you here. I was wondering when someone would have the good sense to travel back and set things right. I should have guessed that it would be you, of course. You are the cleverest student Hogwarts has ever had. Even cleverer than Tom, I see! Best of luck to you both!" And the spectral nobleman drifted off, humming softly to himself.
"Wait... what?" The red-haired assassin paused and stared after the vanishing ghost. "How does Nearly Headless Nick know who we are? He hasn't even met us yet! This.. is not possible, is it?"
"Of course it is." The female assassin sounded unperturbed. "Ghosts exist outside of time altogether; they can see both the future and the past. So of course Nearly Headless Nick recognized us. Ghosts are, however, unable to speak of what they know of the future to the living. It's one of the ancient Laws of their existence."
The red-haired assassin gave a low whistle. "You really do know everyting, don't you, honey? I really hope the baby takes after you, rather than me."
Baby? What baby? Tom was growing more and more puzzled now.
"Be quiet," said the woman softly. "We are almost there." Tom felt himself floating up the remaining stairs to the seventh floor and down a corridor. They paused outside a particularly bizarre and tasteless tapestry depicting dancing trolls.
"I'll open it," said the red-haired assassin in a whisper.
What in Salazar's name? They even knew about the Hidden Room? Tom had only discovered it himself a few months ago, this enchanted room that could turn into whatever he wanted, and had been so certain that he was the only one who knew of its existence. But apparently, he had been wrong; his two attackers appeared to know precisely where it was and what it was. And it seemed that the male assassin was no novice wizard either, for he managed to open the portal on his first attempt. It had taken Tom weeks to be able to do it consistently.
The female assassin's spell flung Tom into the room, and she and her companion stepped in after him and closed the portal. Then the woman yanked the invisibility cloak off her captive, fished his wand out of his pocket, and cast a quick Incarcerous spell on him, followed by an Ennervate.
Ooof! For the second time that night, Tom fell to the floor with a crash. He cursed silently, struggled hopelessly against the tight ropes that had wound themselves around him now, and glanced quickly up at his assassins. There had to be some way of outwitting them.
"Forget it, Tom." The female assassin stepped into his field of vision, and he could see that she was quite young, perhaps no more than twenty. There was a small but noticable bump on her stomach, in spite of her slender figure. A pregnant assassin? The very idea struck Tom as absurd. But judging by the firm set of her mouth, she was not a young witch to mess with. "You can't run away from us, Tom," she said coldly, "and you can't outsmart us. You will sit right here..." She shoved him into a nearby armchair, "and listen to our proposal." She cast a quick spell on him, allowing him to speak again.
"A... a proposal?" Tom blinked slowly. These two assassins had a proposal for him? All right, he was intrigued. He liked power, and this witch was far more powerful than anyone he had met so far in the wizarding world. He would listen to what she had to say before attempting to outwit her, just in case it turned out to be something interesting. He nodded briefly.
"All right." The young witch sat down opposite him, her wand still pointed straight at his chest. His own yew wand was nowhere in sight. "Are you familiar with time turners, Tom?"
"Time turners?" Tom wished he could wipe off the blood that was trickling from his nose. "I have heard rumors of them, yes, but I don't know if they actually exist, or if they are just fantasy."
The red-haired man smiled grimly. "Oh, they exist, Tom. We have one." He pulled something small and golden out of the pocket of his robes, and Tom leaned forward in fascination. A time turner? A device to allow you to travel through time? Oh, Merlin, the possibilities! Surely, a wizard who possessed power over time itself could become the most powerful man in existence! Yes, Tom was definitely interested now.
"Time turners were invented about five years ago, in 1938," said the young witch. "But the Ministry of Magic has kept their existence a secret, since they feared that they could cause great harm in the wrong hands."
"How far... how far can you travel in time with one of these?" Tom glanced at the delicate clockwork with interest. Oh, yes, he would make sure this wondrous little mechanism would fall into the wrong hands as soon as possible!
"Normally only a few hours," said the red-haired man. "One of your fellow students has one, actually, and she has been using it to turn back time just enough to allow her to study twice as much as anyone else."
Tom stared at him for a moment, baffled. A Hogwarts student possessed an instrument that could potentially make her into the most powerful witch in the world? But that was impossible! Surely, he would have known about that. Well, unless... Tom groaned. "Seriously? Minerva? You don't mean that she has a time turner? Well, that explains a lot! I was wondering why she suddenly began to score better than me on all the tests. It's been terribly annoying, actually." He shook his head, and a small laugh escaped him. "Trust Minerva to use this magnificent device for something as absurd and mundane as that! She has a time turner, and she uses it for class work?"
The female assassin suddenly looked very annoyed. "Excuse me? There is absolutely nothing absurd about... Oh, never mind. Let's not go there. The point, Tom, is that time turners do exist. And whereas it is generally believed that time turners only allow you to travel backwards or forwards in time a few hours at a time, it turns out that this is not quite correct. After some tinkering, I was recently able to build a modified version with a far greater range. It involved some powerful magic, half of it strictly speaking illegal, but..."
"She is the cleverest person there ever was, you see." The red-haired man beamed. "Which is why we were able to travel more than fifty years back in time."
Tom blinked rapidly. "More than... You are from the future?" All right, he was very impressed.
"That's right," said the woman calmly. "We are wizards from the year 2000, and we have come here to bring you back with us. To the future."
Tom stared at her. Was he dreaming? "Bring me back with you? To the future? But why?"
The young woman sighed. "It's a very long story, Tom. And it involves you. We know that you have already committed two murders - ah, you are looking pale now, Tom! - and that you have created two horcruxes in order to ensure your own immortality."
"You... know...? I really don't know what you are talking about..." Tom's voice faltered. They knew about the murders? And the horcruxes? This was definitely not good. Unless they wanted him to help them make horcruxes?
"After this," continued the witch calmly, "you will go on to become a powerful dark wizard. You will gather followers, and you will commit horriible murders and acts of violence. You will create more and more horcruxes, until your soul is so fragmented that you will lose your very humanity. You will become a monster. You will no longer call yourself "Tom Riddle", but "Voldemort", and your followers will call you "The Dark Lord." But in the end, fifty years from now, you will be defeated by a young wizard, a mere boy. He will destroy all your horcruxes, one by one. You will try to kill him, but he will live. What you won't know is that part of your shattered soul took refuge in the boy; without meaning to, you made him your living horcrux. And in the end, when you fire the killing curse at him, you will not kill him, but the shard of your own soul that lived in him. You will die, and he will live. And that is how your story ends, Tom, fifty years into the future. With a miserable, pitiful death, and a humiliating defeat."
"Why... Why are you telling me this?" Tom's voice didn't seem to be working properly. This couldn't be true... could it? But he knew in his heart that it was true, every word of it. Of course he would have followers. Of course he would make more horcruxes. To become so powerful, only to lose it all and die at the hands of a boy!
The woman looked right at him now, and it felt as if her brown eyes were staring into his very soul. "We are telling you this," she said softly, "because, absurd as it may seem, the boy who defeated you still grieves over you."
"He grieves over me?" Tom stared at her. "Why?"
The red-haired wizard sighed. "Beats me. But the point is that he does. He can't stop thinking about you, apparently. He seemed to be doing so well at first, after you died. He got a job at the Ministry, and he got engaged to my sister, and everything seemed to be going perfectly well. And then... Well, then he began falling apart. He couldn't sleep, didn't eat properly... It took a long time before he would tell anyone what was wrong, but finally he admitted to us, right after he broke off his engangement, that he couldn't stop thinking about you. I guess it has something to do with all those years you shared a soul without anyone knowing about it. He cried and cried, and he said something was terribly wrong with him and that he didn't deserve to live. And then he told us that he had realized that he had actually been sort of in love with you all along, and that it hadn't even stopped when you died."
The young witch swallowed. "He loves you, Tom," she whispered. "Even if, Merlin knows, you don't deserve it. And that is why we have come here, to offer you a second chance. Come with us right now, to the future, and make him happy."
"What?" Tom felt dizzy. "But this... This is insane... You want me to go and find this boy who defeated me, this strange soulmate, and... and what? Be his friend?"
"His friend. And maybe his lover." She blushed a little. "It's an absurd idea, I know, but I don't know how else to save Harry from this terrible grief that has taken hold of him."
Tom felt himself flush. "His lover? But he is a boy! I would never indulge in... unnatural things like... like that."
"Yes, you would." The witch didn't even hesitate. "Perhaps you don't realize that I know everything about you, Tom. I have researched every detail of your miserable life before I traveled back here to find you. I know about your disastrous dates with Walburga Black. I know about your little experiments with Abraxas Malfoy, and I know that you were caught peeking at Lestrange in the shower. More than once."
Tom's cheeks were burning now. He really didn't think that anyone would ever find out about that... "How on earth did you know about-"
She shrugged. "Abraxas Malfoy's portrait was quite informative. He gave me more details than I ever wanted to hear, quite frankly. You are attracted to men, even if you don't want to admit it, Tom." A sudden smile passed over her face. "And Harry really is quite adorable."
Tom sank back in his chair. "Harry? That's his name, is it? This boy from the future who will become my horcrux?" What an odd thought - a human horcrux! A part of his soul, embedded in this young powerful wizard... Tom had already, at the age of seventeen, resigned himself to remaining alone for the rest of his life. True, his experiments with Malfoy had been physically satisfying, but he knew that he would never find someone here at Hogwarts, and perhaps not even in the larger wizardig world, that he would want as a companion, for more than a few hours at a time. There was simply no one who was his equal. Tom would occasionally fantasize about meeting someone who would be a true friend and companion, someone both alluring and powerful... And yes, he had had occasional wet dreams about Salazar himself, but no magic that Tom knew of could bring the great founder back from the dead. But this boy from another age, with magic strong enough to defeat him... A Salazar from the future, who still yearned for Tom... It would be worth traveling with these two wizards, just to see what he was like.
Tom though for a moment. "But what would happen, if I were to come with you to the future? What would happen to time itself? If I were to leave the year 1943 and arrive in the year 2000, what would happen to the time in between? Would all the actions I would have taken between 1943 and 2000 cease to exist?"
The two assassins were silent for a long moment. Then the woman said: "I don't think so, Tom. I can't be quite certain, of course, since this is the first time, to the best of my knowledge, that someone has done anything like this. But I believe that what we are about to do - to carry you into the future - would simply create two different Toms. One would stay here and become Voldemort, and the other will come with us and remain Tom."
The red-haired assassin glanced at Tom. He seemed to shudder a little. "Of course it would be a lot simpler just to kill you right now. A swift Avada curse at this moment would put an end to Tom Riddle and undo all your vile acts of murder and torture in the future. If I were to murder you right now, it will be as if the Dark Lord Voldemort never even existed. Perhaps it would even bring back my brother, who died fighting one of your followers."
Tom swallowed, hard. He glanced at the trembling wand in the wizard's hand. "Then... Then why don't you kill me? I don't understand..."
The red-haired man sighed. "Oh, trust me. Normally, I would, without a moment's hesitation. But... Well, it's a funny thing, changing history, even for the better. A while after my brother Fred died, his girlfriend began going out with my other brother George. And then they got married, and now they have this little boy called Fred. He's the most adorable thing you ever saw, and everyone is crazy about him. I'm completely nuts about the little fellow myself. I'm his uncle, you know, and he calls me "Won", which isn't nearly as annoying when he says it as when... Oh, never mind. And the thing is, much as I want my brother Fred back, I can't help thinking that if Fred were back, Angelina would have married him instead of George, and there wouldn't be a Little Fred. No one would even remember the little tyke, with his wild black curls and blue eyes. And..." The wizard sighed deeply. "I just can't do that. Make Little Fred not exist, I mean. Even to bring my brother back. I know, I know: my brother Fred and Angelina could get married and have another baby instead, but it's not the same. Their kid is just hypothetical, but Little Fred is real, and he is my nephew, and he laughs so hard when I give him piggy-back rides..." He glanced moodily at Tom. "So I guess I'm going to let you live, just for Little Fred. It's funny, now that I am about to become a father myself, I seem to care more about the future than about the past, all of a sudden. And who knows, if you died before becoming Voldemort, maybe Harry would have been so different that he never became friends with Hermione and me. And if it hadn't been for Harry and the friendship between the three of us, maybe I would never have fallen in love with Hermione. And our baby won't ever be born. And that is... simply unacceptable. I don't want to mess with any of that. Ever."
The young woman smiled ever so slightly. "Enough talking, Ron. What do you say, Tom? How about... one dinner with Harry in the future? A date of sorts, just for the two of you? Just to see how it goes? His birthday is coming up, and this would make a lovely present, wouldn't it?"
"He'll be surprised, all right," muttered the red-haired man.
Tom pretended to think about it. "I suppose I can have one dinner with him. Old Slughorn gave me a silver wand case a while back - perhaps I can give it to this boy from the future for his birthday." He actually did want to meet this boy. And if their encounter didn't work out well, he could always grab a wand, kill his future killer, and begin a new life in the year 2000. He couldn't believe the young witch hadn't thought of that.
The witch nodded. "All right then. The year 2000 it is. After you complete a series of Unbreakable Vows, of course, Tom." She smiled sweetly at him. "Just for Harry's safety, and that of the Wizarding World... We weren't born yesterday, you know."