Aidan hadn't removed his cloak, even after Dumbledore left the manor with a promise to inform everyone else of Aidan's renewed health, and after his previous body disintegrated into dust at a brush of his fingers. In fact, he hadn't even remained within the manor for the entire night; Voldemort was only able to notice that because he had become familiar with the odd feeling of Aidan within the wards, and had felt its absence in the early morning. Aidan never answered his questions on where he went, and Voldemort had soon given up asking.
It wasn't the same magic and presence that Aidan had held before; he was calmer, but less present now. It was as if he wasn't involved in anything; a mere observer to everything he had once been in the middle of. Voldemort knew that because he still had his Death Eater meetings, and Aidan occasionally stumbled upon them; not looking distressed in the slightest as he simply closed the door and moved on to find whatever he had been looking for—the nonchalance was unnerving, and Voldemort found himself holding fewer and fewer Death Eater meetings as a result. The meetings only served to make him uncomfortable, and guilty.
Dumbledore's Order only fought to protect, rarely engaging any of his Death Eaters in proper duels, and their lack of fight had become dull. Any skirmish was brief, a distraction while the Order got everyone in the area to protection. The Death Eaters didn't enjoy pillaging and bring ruin when there were no people to be horrified and angry at their actions. Voldemort couldn't quite understand it, but somehow, without saying a word to dissuade him or anyone else, Aidan had managed to bring the war between the Order of the Phoenix and his Death Eaters to a stalemate. Or perhaps a dead end.
The entire situation was a tornado of confusion, with the eye of the storm being Aidan himself. The idea of it puzzled Voldemort to no end, but something like this was expected when Aidan was involved, even if it had been completely unknowingly.
Startled out of his reverie, Voldemort glanced up and into the green-black heterochronic eyes that looked at him in mild amusement. His skin was a deathly pale that rivalled his own chalky colour. His green eye was exactly the same as Voldemort remembered it to be, but his other eye rivalled a neverending tunnel into the darkness that held no destination known to mortals. Beyond those changes, Aidan would have looked precisely the same as he had, or as his previous body had.
"Your horcruxes," he stated, dropping the precious items haphazardly on his table. "You know where the last one is."
Nagini had avoided Aidan ever since his other body had disappeared. Aidan had explained, briefly, that the reason was her instincts to avoid death, and that Voldemort himself should also feel its effects. In fact, the only times Voldemort so much as spotted Nagini, it was only when he could feel Aidan's presence leave, and all she did was complain about Aidan smelling different and being 'scary'.
"I don't understand." Seeing all the objects housing his soul so carelessly handled, and easily retrieved by Aidan, caused Voldemort's frustration to suddenly become a boiling cauldron within him; the combination of not knowing and being utterly defeated in a way he had never even dreamed of, creating a slowly simmering bubble of resentment. "What am I supposed to do with them?"
"You'll know eventually," Aidan said, without the slightest note of uncertainty in his voice. The uncertain but persistent Gryffindor had been replaced with cold and unyielding certainty that surpassed even the most dedicated Ravenclaw. There was only the vaguest of impressions of the person Aidan had been, all that was left was this omniscient presence that had overtaken everything Voldemort had once known as Aidan.
"We've both changed, Tom, far more than either of us would ever have imagined. I don't understand it all myself. Not yet, at least. I do know, though, that it will all make sense eventually."
The black eye regarded him with infinite knowledge, seeing through him and his past, his present; everything that had been and could have been him, while judging his soul. While that eye was disturbing, it was the green eye that distressed him more: Aidan looked so lost, filled with a confusion that rivalled his own and a struggle that he would never begin to understand—one that, at this rate, he would never be privy to either. Despite Aidan's words, he didn't think he would know everything that had resulted in this very moment.
And he wanted to help. Salazar, did he want to help, but he had no idea where to start. He had feared and avoided death for so long that even the thought of attempting to understand something so entwined with death brought him the unsettling feeling of his own demise looming over him, despite his Horcruxes or perhaps because of them. Because of what had happened to the Horcrux that had nearly defeated him and had temporarily become the main soul piece. Voldemort wondered if he could do it, if he could put aside the fears that had become a part of his very existence, to help Aidan.
(A little voice at the back of his mind reminded him that Aidan would have done such a thing for him with barely a second thought.)
Perhaps it was the fleeting desire, with a healthy dose of bravery, to know if there was anything left that made him do it, but as Aidan turned to leave, Voldemort tugged him back, wrapping his arms around him like he had in a time that was so very long ago. Aidan was stiff in his arms, whether from surprise or discomfort, Voldemort couldn't tell anymore.
His body was colder, Voldemort could feel that much even through both their robes, and Aidan felt shorter than Voldemort remembered him to be. He could vaguely remember one of Aidan's many visitors commenting on something similar, but he hadn't taken note of it at the time, being more bothered by the thoroughfare his home had become as everyone who had ever known Aidan came to check on his welfare. As if he would harm Aidan when he had only gotten him back.
Voldemort hadn't been able to be as free around Aidan as the Order and his young friends were, joking and teasing and causing Aidan to look more alive than he did otherwise. Even the remaining members of their Court were in high spirits ever since Aidan had awoken, forgetting their etiquette as adults to go back to those days just after Hogwarts. It was impossible to mistake the fondness Aidan held for all of them, even his Hogwarts schoolmates whom Voldemort had believed would be too childish for Aidan now.
But the realisation of what he had done, of what Aidan had known he had done as Voldemort before even befriending him, had created a haunting barrier between them because Voldemort couldn't bring himself to regret it since his actions had carved the path to him meeting Aidan. He couldn't apologise for something like that; he also couldn't hold on to both Aidan and the regret at the same time, but that didn't stop the guilt that lay somewhere deep within his chest. He wanted Aidan back, he wanted Aidan to stay, he wanted to learn everything about Aidan once again, but he couldn't simply forget everything else either.
The Death Eaters were still there, lying low for now, but they were still very much a group that followed his every word. Their views and belief in the cause he had created hadn't changed; most of them never knew of Aidan, they never knew his more personal reasons. The fear that kept them in check would not last if he simply let them all disperse: something like that would only make the situation in the Wizarding World worse. Weeding out the more violent prone members would take time and careful planning on his part. Even then, he couldn't abandon all his plans so suddenly and for little reason other than the hope of everything getting better. Even Aidan had always known better than that.
Just as he was about to release Aidan with a strange sort of bitterness at the entire situation, Aidan's arms slowly rose to awkwardly return the embrace. His body was no less stiff, but the attempt was welcome, and Voldemort forced himself to smother his smile into Aidan's shoulder. His relief was probably palpable, but Aidan didn't comment.
As they stood there, Voldemort thought that maybe, just maybe, they could become what they were once before: Tom and Aidan, just two wizards who cared for each other more than anything else in this world.
It wouldn't be easy; they had both changed too much for that—just their appearances would say enough of the changes they'd been through individually—but it would definitely be worth it. Of that, Voldemort had no doubt.
AN: So, yeah, that's it. I was going to go on for a bit longer, but this became the perfect ending: it doesn't tie everything up, but I've got to leave some to your imagination, right? :)
I'll eventually go back and edit/correct the mistakes everyone has pointed out and generally make this fic a little easier on the eye, but I've nothing left for this, so thank you for sticking around with me for as long as you have :D
Also, a little bit of a fun fact: the actual plotbunny I adopted from Somewhere's Sword had a particular chapter that never ended up in this fic, even though it inspired the whole thing. About halfway through the fic I realised that chapter was never going to work ^^"