Warnings: future SLASH (boy x boy), MAJOR NO-MAGIC!AU (Alternate Universe), possible BLOOD and FAMILY SITUATIONS in future chapters, AGE-GAP RELATIONSHIP(S)
Pairings: TMR/HP, pre-established HG/RW and LL/NL and LE/JP, open to suggestions for other characters
Standard disclaimer applies: I do not own Harry Potter or any brand you recognize in this story. J.K. Rowling is credited with the creation of these characters (I'm not fond of using OCs in my own fanfiction)
At first, Lily didn't know why she was awake. She remembered going to bed, maybe an hour or two ago it was hard to say, and also falling asleep after fifteen minutes of light reading, but now she wasn't—asleep, that is—and it was so quick and her awareness so sharp that it left her confused for a minute or two.
Her husband's deep breathing beside her let her ground herself, and slowly as to not disturb him, she sat up. Certainly there was a reason why she woke up. Lily was a light sleeper, so there must've been some type of sound, or something—
And there it was. A light, clash of metal, like a… like a pot was being moved, or something, and set down on the kitchen counter. The bedroom door was closed, so she didn't register the sound immediately, but when she heard it again, Lily decided it was time to go and investigate. So, with that decided, she slipped out of bed—just because she wasn't the police officer in the house didn't mean she lacked grace or finesse—put on a robe that was draped over the desk chair, and silently made her way downstairs.
A delicious, comforting smell of chicken soup drifted from the kitchen, and following her nose, Lily slid her feet into her slippers and padded forward, eventually seeing the light on. The sounds got louder, and she saw the distinct shadow of her son as he moved about, clearly trying to make the least amount of noise possible as he cleaned up.
Bemused, Lily peeked her head in, watching as her son cleaned the pot and utensils he used by hand. Clearly he didn't want anyone to know about this in the morning. She wondered why… Something that smelled so good should taste just as great.
"…Harry?" she whispered, and hid a smile as her son startled from tightening the lid on one of their larger thermos.
"M—Mum! What are you doing up?"
"I should be asking you the same," she replied. "It's almost midnight, and you have school tomorrow."
"Err… I'm making, well, was making, soup…" he nervously scratched his cheek, "sorry for waking you."
"Not a problem dear," Lily grinned, "and if you wanted soup for lunch tomorrow, I could've woke up early to make some… but don't you think that's quite a bit for only yourself in there?" She pointed at the thermos.
"Uh," Harry paused, looking down at the table top as his cheeks grew a rosy pink, "it's… it's not for me."
"Uhm… I guess I should warn you that I'm sneaking out tonight?"
Lily didn't quite know what to say to that. Harry was a good kid, almost a man, and she knew he was growing up wonderfully. Her friends at work who had sons usually complained about them being troublesome, having messy rooms or getting lackluster grades. It was sort of novel, to her, since she never had to go through that. Harry kept his room nice and neat, and always brought back high percentages with a shrug and a smile.
And then there was the whole sneaking out at night matter. One of her coworkers mentioned that her son, just a year younger than Harry, often snuck out to meet with his friends, and maybe even a girl. Her son didn't know that she knew, of course, but one of these days she was going to catch him in the act, and then he better be prepared for a lecture!
Or something like that.
Lily didn't have to go through that either, the so-called "rebellious stage" that sons apparently went through. Of course, there had been that one time when Harry snuck out, but he had been so clearly troubled before then and came back so happy that it wasn't possible he was out doing mischief. Her boy just wasn't like that.
And now there was this.
Harry was possibly the only boy she would ever know to forewarn his mother that he was going to sneak out… with what looked to be a delicious meal of chicken soup, no less.
Oh. Woops. Looks like she had said that last part aloud. Lily couldn't help but giggle. The situation was so ridiculous that she felt warranted to do so. "Harry, what are you doing…"
He looked down again and bit his lip. "Uh… I think my friend is getting sick, or at least it sure looked like it, so I thought to bring him some soup…"
"It's almost midnight," she looked at him incredulously, "who would be awake?"
Harry held up his phone. "He's having a bout of insomnia, apparently, and we've been texting for the last hour. I mean, I know I have school tomorrow, but he was so out of it that I just couldn't—"
Lily held up her hand to stop his spew of explanations. "You're a good kid, Harry. Alright, should I drive you there?"
"It's… it's not far—"
Suddenly, she got the distinct feeling that this wasn't for the Weasley or Longbottom boy. In fact, there was a sense of déjà vu to the situation which made Lily pause in her original train of thought. "This… this is for you friend who you saw when you snuck out to see last time, right? And the friend you gave the tiramisu to."
Harry looked baffled. He probably didn't think she would connect the dots. "Uh—"
Lily's mind raced. And, she added inside her head, this is for the man you met at the park, isn't it? The one you're dating…
On one hand, the mother hen side, probably, she was worried about her son. Here he was, planning on going out into the cold, late night, alone… but then the other side of her thought Harry was an absolute sweetheart, and it was a shame that he had a preference to the same gender because she was sure he would make the best boyfriend ever—though technically she supposed he still could be, just that he wouldn't be the only boyfriend in the relationship—and whoever got him as a husband would probably be spoiled rotten by his kind disposition.
"Sorry." His apology snapped her out of her thoughts.
"Now, why are you apologizing?" asked Lily softly.
"Well, no mother would want her son to go out at about midnight, walking in the streets…" Harry muttered as he shuffled his feet.
"Take a flashlight," she said instead of whatever he was expecting, "and that handheld taser Sirius got you as a gag gift. And make sure that friend of yours knows you're coming—and that he better drive you back home afterwards. I know you're smart enough to come home before 4AM. Text me when you get there."
His surprise would be comical if Lily wasn't feeling a sense of resigned defeat. Harry was growing up, and he wasn't telling her some things, but in the future she knew he would, and it probably would revolve all around this mystery man—there was a deep well of trepidation in the pit of her stomach; what would he be like? Did he love Harry? Would he like them?—and, well, it was up to her to take the leap of faith first, because she sure as hell knew none of the men in the family would, because even though Sirius was all for freedom and James was right beside him, with Remus the calm voice of reason behind as an advocate, they were also terribly protective when things got down to it, and…
It was a shame that she couldn't be as overprotective as she liked, locking up her cute son in the house so she could coo over him as they cooked together, but someone had to be the sensible, level-headed adult first.
Lily sighed. She walked over and pulled her only son into a tight hug, ruing the fact that she was shorter than him now and couldn't nuzzle her nose into his soft, fluffy hair.
"You're making your own choices now," she murmured, "and I know I'll eventually be completely against one of them, if only because I'm a mother and you're my son and I love you so very much, but I know I'm going to have to let you make those choices. I grew up with good parents too, parents who I'm happy to say knew when to let go of my hand and let me walk on my own two feet and fall on those same two feet to get up again, and I'm going to use those same parenting methods now, since you know what's right from wrong, and because they worked. I've raised you well, and you've turned out well, and that's all I've ever hoped for, Harry. You're a good child, and not because you get good grades or because you clean your room without being told. You're a good child because you care."
"Mum…" Lily felt him hug her back just as tight, "Thanks."
They parted, and she smiled, reaching up to gently pinch his cheek. The expression he made only caused her smile to grow bigger. "Now, when I'm old and helpless and sick in bed, I expect my tall, handsome son to make me the same chicken soup that you've made your friend, okay? And bring it to me in bed on a breakfast tray so your father can sit there and feed me while you get a warm heater blanket for my feet."
Harry blinked, and then laughed softly. "Sure Mum, but how about I make some for you tomorrow first?"
Lily pouted. "Was I that obvious?"
"If you want some, I'll make you some. No need to go the roundabout route."
Harry finished up the quick text to his mother before moving swiftly up the small pathway to Tom's house. He had already told the man that he was coming over, and, though slightly surprised, Tom had not reacted negatively, so he took it as permission.
But he had been slightly out of it in general, so maybe instead of permission it was a plea. Not that Tom would ever beg—that would be degrading—but Harry had always wondered if the man got lonely in his big house. It was plenty spacious for but one person and Harry wondered further if, at times like this, the silence was frustrating. Suddenly he felt more thankful than ever to his mother for letting him go out without a fight… as well as through the front door. His original plan had included both the window and a bit of tree climbing or opening the squeaky back door. Knowing himself as he did, Harry probably would've gone the former route.
Lily Potter was, as previously seen, a light sleeper. The back door would've woke her up immediately.
His heart beat a little faster when Tom opened the door, and though the man looked tired, he also looked a bit grateful for Harry's presence. His pale skin made the slightly pink tinge of his nose more visible, and by the general look of his expression, the symptoms of a coming cold or flu had not gone away after they had logged off for the night.
"I brought you some soup," he said upon entering and taking off his shoes like any good guest would, "thought you'd appreciate it."
Tom sighed. "I do," he murmured, and then after a small pause, "I forgot how terrible being sick is."
"You were in denial," Harry agreed. "At least you're over it now. Did you take any medicine?"
"I don't have any at the moment—I'll get it tomorrow, so don't look at me like that."
Harry noted that the normal couches they occupied in the sitting room looked, well, occupied. A blanket was slung over the arm rest, and a book rested closed on the coffee table. Always reading, Harry mused affectionately. Tom had probably sat here to wait for him once he had said he was coming over.
Before he could say anything, Tom had already pulled him onto the couch with the blanket fully wrapped about them. Harry could feel his arms come around his waist, keeping a firm grip as the man sighed into his shoulder, relieved at the comfort of another's warmth.
"If you get me sick, I'm telling Severus," he teased.
"At least you can cook yourself some soup. I can't. And speaking of that soup, give me some, I know it's probably the best thing I'll ever taste right now and the longer you keep it from me the angrier I'll be at you later."
"Sort of hard when I'm stuck," Harry reminded softly.
Tom grumbled, but loosened his grip when his companion snuggled into his side in reassurance, or at least enough for Harry to reach over and grab the thermos out of his sack from the table. He fetched the spoon as well, handing it to Tom, and unscrewed the cap while he was at it.
"I just made it, so it might still be hot. Careful. Oh, and there's enough to last you for breakfast tomorrow."
"The warmer the better," Tom mumbled before closing his eyes and taking a sip.
A few minutes passed as Harry waited until Tom finished a portion. He didn't need to feel the man's forehead to know his temperature was higher than the norm, but Tom probably didn't feel that way anyway, judging from how greedily he took in Harry's warmth.
I feel like I'm a teddy bear, the younger of the two thought in passing as his companion set the thermos back on the table.
"Don't think I don't know what you're thinking," Tom said threateningly, but regardless of his words he buried his face in the crook of Harry's neck, his ragged breathing the only sign of his health. It was enough for the younger to gently play with his hair, worried and hoping to give them both some solace and peace.
He hated seeing Tom in distress—not that it happened often anyway, which stood as a reason in itself to hate it all the more. Tom was always confident and strong, and seeing him as the complete opposite was as humbling as it was a cause for concern, playing on Harry's heartstrings like a wailing violin. But he was glad he came, because though his last memory of Tom had been earlier that night and the man had seemed fine, if not a bit annoyed at some sniffles, the text afterward gave him a sense of foreboding that would've had him running to see the man even if he hadn't made any soup to begin with.
So just being here, though personally Harry thought he was rather useless other than being a personal heater, which in retrospect might just be the only thing Tom wanted, calmed his nerves and reassured him greatly. It was just a simple cold, nothing to truly worry about, but he knew Tom would probably feel horrible throughout the next week or two, since for the entire time they had known each other the older had never gotten sick, and Harry suspected that he was one of those types to have it hit hard when he did.
"The soup was good. Really good," Tom mumbled. "You should just live here. My own personal chef."
Harry resisted the urge to laugh despite the race of his heart. Now he knew Tom was out of it, and he hadn't even taken any medicine yet! "Mum would be angry at you for stealing me away then. I think she's planning to make me live in the kitchen one of these days. Apparently Remus has too many obligations to bake at the bakery instead of at home."
"How did you sneak out?"
He paused. "I got caught, I think, while cooking your soup."
Tom paused too. "…And she let you come here?"
"…Your mother is a woman I would like to meet someday," Tom finally said after some thought, "but I suppose I'll meet her soon enough."
"I think she wants to meet you too," his companion murmured. "She knows more than she lets on, I think. I never did ask her how she knew you could drive—"
"Oh, she asks if you can drive me home. But, if you're really out of it, I don't think you should drive anyway—"
"I can drive," Tom mumbled. "I'm not on drugs or drinking, just sick. Driving is a small sacrifice for having you with me right now."
Harry fought down his blush. Tom was sort of adorable like this, not that he'd ever reveal that aloud. "I wouldn't want you to get worse though—"
"And I agree with your mother. I'm not going to let you walk home alone at God knows what hour I'll let you leave."
"I have a taser."
"If, for some absurd reason, I do let you walk home, you'll need to take a picture of whoever you stunned, preferably of whatever ID they're carrying on them, but if you only get a face shot that's fine too."
"What? Wait, why?" Harry shifted at an awkward angle to look at his companion.
"Because I need to know what fool tried to attack you, obviously. Then it'll be simple work to dispose of them."
Normally Harry took this as a joke. But with Tom in this state, and the rather serious tone… he wasn't so sure.
"You can drive me home," he quickly offered.
"That's what I thought."
"I'm so going to get sick," Harry muttered as he tried to catch his breath. Tom had decided to pounce on him, which had been strange to experience considering that they had already been so close to begin with, but it had somehow worked and… well.
"It won't be that bad," the older replied, looking rather smug. His eyes had regained some of life to them, but his personality was still a bit…
"But don't expect me to make you soup. It might kill you."
Out of it.
At least Tom was happier. Harry snorted from his place beneath the man. "Dully noted; never accepting food that comes out of your kitchen."
"It's not my kitchen. Just me."
"Tom, out of honest curiosity, how long have you been awake?"
"Sixty hours maybe? Or something near there, give or take five. I don't care much for counting the hours," Tom answered as he nipped Harry's nose rather playfully, which somehow became quick pecks, which somehow turned into…
Well. He hadn't exactly predicted this, but Harry felt he sort of had this coming, all things considered—
"Wait, you haven't had any sleep for two days?!"
"Insomnia," Tom grumbled when Harry broke their kiss to scold him, "why else do you think?"
"What kind of insomnia will keep you awake for two and a half days?" Harry spluttered.
"No, get off damn it! You're going to sleep!"
"Tom, you are not going three days without sleep if I can do something about it!"
Tom sighed, but pulled himself up anyways, though he did tug Harry back onto his lap in a sign of petulance. "There's nothing I can do about it without taking sleeping pills, and I abhor those things."
"…Do you have any?"
This time, Harry was the one to sigh. "Look, let me check your kitchen. Maybe I can find something for you, okay? But seriously, three days without sleep for no reason is bad! Don't do that!"
"I have to drive you home first," Tom murmured.
"I don't think it's safe for you to drive—"
"Harry, I'm fine," he cut in, "I've driven to work and back these past two days just fine, and I am not walking you home in the cold, 2AM air, and you are not walking home alone either."
Harry sighed. "Fair enough," he conceded, but only because he figured that there would be little to no people out on the road at this time anyway. "Let me fix you something beforehand though?"
They made their way to the kitchen, Tom patiently sitting down at the dinner table to wait. Harry knew what he was looking for going into the pantry, and could only hope that his companion had at least some of it.
Though he didn't have chamomile, jasmine, or lemon balm tea (all of which his mother always kept stocked in case of her own bout of insomnia, or anyone else's in their household, but he wasn't really expecting a caffeine addict to keep such in his cabinets), Tom did have some honey and milk, and Harry supposed that would have to do.
He popped the honey and a mug of milk into the microwave for thirty seconds, took them out and put only a dash of honey into the milk, as Tom wasn't fond of overly sweet things, and put in the mug again until it was very warm—not scorching hot, but just before. Since it was milk instead of a herbal tea, Harry considered it safe enough to drink at the moment. It wouldn't knock his companion out just yet, and a five minute drive (ten, here and back) wouldn't be too long.
"Drink this," he instructed as he placed the mug down in front of Tom. "If you still don't feel sleepy when you get back, take a hot bath before you try. That should knock you out. Dry your hair before you go to bed though. Tomorrow when you go to buy medicine, buy some lemon balm tea, or chamomile if that suits you. It'll help your insomnia if you still can't sleep afterwards."
"Yes, mother," he chuckled as he drank deeply from the cup.
Harry frowned. "I'm worried," he admitted.
"I know. Thank you," quietly answered Tom in turn, "it's been awhile since I've had anyone worry about me."
"That's no excuse to not sleep in two days!" the younger huffed, though he pressed a kiss against Tom's cheek bone in silent understanding. "And so help me, you're sleeping tonight. I don't care if I have to keep you on a call to make sure you sleep, but—"
It was so silent that one could hear a feather drop.
When they broke, Tom stood up, looking more relaxed and certainly less fatigued than he had a couple hours ago. "Come. I'll take you home imp."
Harry figured it was a good thing that both his parents were asleep in their room when he came back. It meant his mother trusted him, and to an extent, Tom, to be back safely. It didn't mean she didn't worry, rather, she believed him to be well and out of trouble. For her, Harry tried to make his entrance as quiet as possible.
It was around 2:40AM when he finally collapsed onto his bed with a sigh. Harry wondered for the nth time in the last half hour what could have caused Tom's strange insomnia.
He glanced at his lit up phone and checked the new text.
They died 10 years ago.
You're too easy to read, imp. But I suppose that's fine.
Going to sleep now. Thanks.
Mostly, it was Tom taking care of him, of that there was no question, but sometimes, Harry knew he had to take care of Tom too.
Happy Valentines Day! Haha. I know I haven't updated in like, a month... so here you go! CAVITY-INDUCING FLUFF! And utterly shameless about it, yeahhhhh.
For all those gamers out there, I'm planning a Valentines Day special for The Game-it'll be late, I know, but whatever-as another cutscene :P. It'll be on the Valentines Day event in-game! It's more like a flashback though-so no Severus. Just Harry and VolDeMort.
In other news, we're almost at 500 reviews! Wow! Half of a thousand! I'd never thought The Game would ever get this popular... warms my heart :love:.
If you're on Ao3 (Archive of our Own), or know of the website, I've just recently begun posting another drabble series called Nature versus Nurture over there. It's basically child!Harry raised by all of the horcruxes, excluding Nagini. Cute times, but also drama times ahead over there! Possibly future slash depending on how far we get. Come check it out :D I'll be posting it on once it's completed (like Living in the Moment)! Again, I'm under the same username there (RenderedReversed), and you can find Nature versus Nurture by scrolling down in the Harry Potter/Tom Riddle pairing. I'll go back to daily updates for that sometime after today.
In OTHER OTHER news... wait, I don't think I have any.
Thanks for all the support you've given to The Game! Each positive review makes my heart wiggle in excitement! ^o^