A/N: Well guys, there's not really a lot I can say about the absolute shambles I have left this story (all my stories) in. Life happened, people. I've had a whirlwind of a year; I graduated from uni, death and illnesses in the family, burned through two jobs before settling on the one I have now and have been working mad hours overtime. It's been a bit crazy if I'm honest. On top of that, I had a laptop malfunction and lost practically EVERYTHING. GUYS, THE PANIC THAT WENT THROUGH ME OH SWEET MAGIC ABOVE!
Anyway... I have to admit, losing my stuff and then having issues with trying to find a writing program that fit me well once again as my MS Word died on me, it sort of killed my passion for my WIP's. So, I have to be honest with you and admit that I've spent even MORE time away from this work (and all my others) because I've spiralled in to the Crossovers and in to new fandoms.
I can only say an ABSOLUTELY huge thank you to each and every one of you that has stuck by this story and I will try my utter hardest to get back in to my once a month updating now that my groove has returned. You are all amazing people and I am so sorry for leaving you all hanging
Enough with my rambling and on with the story!
A/N2: So we have quite a big chapter to come back on and I have to admit, I've been building up to this for a while. This isn't the Wizengamot, but Harry and Tom FINALLY get a clue.
Warning: Mentions of violence, language, slash – same old same old!
Discaimer: J.K Rowling is Hella blonder than I am but this plot is all on me
The first thing Tom noticed when he woke up was that Harry was not there. That in itself was a very strange occurrence because Harry was always there in the mornings. The second thing that came to mind was that he should really do something about the fact that he just assumed that he would wake up with the teen and that it felt remarkably strange that he hadn't done so. Tom frowned as he pulled himself out of bed and in to the shower, the connection between the pair wasn't exactly closed over but it definitely wasn't open either so all he was getting was muted feelings of excitement and frustration.
It was frustrating, especially given the fact that today was the one day he actively wanted Harry to himself completely. He didn't actively celebrate his birthday, in fact barely anyone knew the date, but he would have been pleased to spend the day with the brat that lived to make his life difficult. He was kind of surprised that Harry hadn't been there if only to make some sort of comment about his age. Tom actively ignored the fact that he was feeling disappointed and a bit sad over the fact that Harry wasn't there the morning of his birthday because then he would have to answer why he had automatically assumed he would be with Harry and why he cared so much anyway.
Heading down to breakfast, Tom poked at their link and got back a feeling that could only be described as not now and hissed under his breath, becoming more frustrated when Harry appeared absent for breakfast.
"Good morning, My Lord." Narcissa greeted. An action that was repeated by both male Malfoys.
"Good morning, Narcissa." He returned with a nod. Truly, it was never more apparent at how much his less than stellar mental state had affected his Death Eaters than when he was with his most loyal. Other than Theodore, and even that had been ridiculously stunted come the end of the war, he couldn't remember when he actually had a full and enjoyable conversation with his Elite. As much as he cursed Harry's influence, he was thankful for the changes that had happened the past couple of months. Which reminded him:
"Where is the menace? I thought you had him on a tight eating schedule through fear." Tom asked Narcissa, making sure to keep his voice completely even. The Lady Malfoy laughed lightly and shook her head.
"If he refuses to look after himself then someone must do it for him." She stated firmly, "However, he informed me this morning that he had extremely important business to attend to for the day so he would be eating out."
"Today? I had thought Miss Lovegood had cleared his schedule." Tom pointed out and Narcissa nodded.
"I said the same thing to him but he was insistent that it really could not wait and then rushed off."
"I see," Tom said, the food in his mouth suddenly tasting like ash.
He excused himself and moved towards Abraxas' tranquillity room, cursing Harry as he went for making him feel. But worse than that, for making him feel things he didn't understand or recognise. He hated not knowing what was going on and the fact that it was happening inside his own head made him half terrified and half furious. Everything always came back to Harry, and the fact that the teen had him in such a state simply for being elsewhere on his birthday was a serious cause for concern. What in Merlin's name was going on? He hadn't even realised until now, but the teen was always on his mind now; from important matters to trivial information. And moreover, he couldn't stop himself. Harry was like a disease; he infected one part of his life and now he was everywhere and for all his renowned intellect Tom was blind to answer how and when this had happened.
He cursed once again and forcefully removed the teen and everything surrounding him from his mind, he wanted to relax today not work himself up. He shouldn't care that Harry was missing his birthday, the last time he had had someone around for this day that wasn't work related that Theodore back in the 50's so it wasn't as if he wasn't completely used to missing his birthday. In fact, the last time he did anything it was actually Theodore's idea in the first place; he had never made the choice to actively celebrate the day himself; his own feelings were throwing him and he did not appreciate it. He would be sure to inform Harry that it was entirely his fault that he couldn't control his own thoughts and feelings when he saw him once again tomorrow. Really, it was only his excessive time spent around the teen that was changing him so it was only right the blame was placed upon the correct shoulders.
And there he was thinking of Harry once again.
It was getting a bit ridiculous and sooner or later he was going to need time to sit back and truly go over exactly what was going on. But not now, he was trying to peacefully relax and read a book. Remus had sent over a copy of the fully translated Ancient Egyptian book from Flamel and Tom had been desperately wishing to sit down and read it since it arrived but other things had to take precedence much to his displeasure. Now, however, was the perfect opportunity to read it in full as there was nothing to be done. Flamel had seen and done many things over his 665 years on the earth and each time they finished a translation not only did they gain insight into some of the greatest discoveries, feats, and miracles of magic, but it gave an exclusive picture into what Flamel was like as a wizard himself. It was intriguing and insightful and he found himself fascinated by another wizard in way that he hadn't been for a long long time.
Flamel had a rather unique way of looking at things, delving into magicial discovery in a fashion so very simple and yet it made all the difference. What made it all the more incredible was that he had barely scratched the surface of Flamel's knowledge and he knew it, they still had many books to translate and many scrolls to sort through, and yet he still hung on to the words he was reading. Frustratingly, none of his usual vigour in reading Flamel's work was with him at the moment and he found himself rereading lines as his mind drifted. Try as he might, Tom simply could not find it in him to relax and settle to read. The Dark Lord released an explosive breath and shook his head; it was no good. He left the room and headed for the duelling chambers, he needed to release some of his pent-up energy and frustration and blowing dummies to pieces sounded like a grand idea; especially given the fact that he was unable to use the real thing.
Allowing his magic to run free, it was easy to fall into the familiar motions of casting and dodging spells until the dummies were defeated and he could start again. Tom had always found magic soothing, be it light, dark or grey magic; he adored it all, but there was nothing better than throwing all of your magic into an all-out battle. The sheer rush was almost overwhelming and the Dark Lord found himself mildly disappointed that the war had taken a political front; he hadn't been in a true battle since the 70's. He didn't count fighting Dumbledore at the ministry as a battle, as much as the duel itself had been invigorating, it was one on one. He easily got lost in casting, lost in the movement, lost in the feel of his magic flowing through him like lava and exploding out of his hand or his wand. It was only when his hair was plastered to his face and his chest heaving in exertion did he finally come to a halt, examining the utterly decimated room with a pleased air.
Luckily, or perhaps not, it had taken him several hours to reach the stage where he would start to do damage to himself if he went any further so it was just approaching dinner when he left the chambers. He had wasted the day, thus keeping himself distracted, but it hadn't stopped his mind immediately drifting to the absent teen, who, no doubt, would have had a running commentary for all of his practices as soon as he was finished. It was pointless, he realised, to try and keep Harry off of his mind, it was impossible; just like the teen himself. Once again, the Dark Lord found himself reduced to cursing everything about Harry Potter and the way he made him think and feel.
He shut his bedroom door with a huff and was about to stalk in to the bathroom for a well needed shower when he spotted five things that had most definitely not been there when he had left the room that morning. The first was a stylishly cut 3-piece dinner suit hanging wrapped from the bathroom door that just by looking at it Tom knew it would fit him like a glove, a white box underneath the suit, two small, black leather boxes on his dresser and a shadowy corner that he associated with Harry's style of travel. The Dark Lord raised an eyebrow and moved over to the suit, spotting a note pinned to the wrappings that said in Harry's writing:
Don't bitch because it's not black, or that it's not robes, just put it on with the accessories and come through the shadows – I made it especially for you.
Tom raised the other eyebrow at that, an odd thrill shooting through him at the mystery and the obvious effort Harry had been through for whatever he was planning; the teen had made him a suit from scratch. He could easily admit that the suit looked great: it was cashmere, smoky grey in colour and lined with black rayon yarn, with black buttons on the waistcoat and jacket, a white shirt and an irregular checked darker grey tie. He opened one for the leather boxes and it revealed a simple but elegant set of emerald cufflinks, and then he turned to the second box and it showed a beautiful matte black wrist watch, it was completely colourless except the single tiny emerald that indicated where the twelve was. The white box, as he expected, was a pair of perfectly shined black shoes that completed the ensemble nicely.
Tom didn't hesitate to jump in the shower and clean the remainder of his training away, drying off he moved back into his room to begin dressing and he couldn't help but admire the quality of the suit; it really was impressive. He added the cufflinks, the watch and pulled on the shoes, noting that everything fitted absolutely perfectly. Sparing a second to recognise that he was pretty much following orders from an aggravating teenager, Tom threw on his jacket and stepped through the shadows into a low-lit room. It wasn't large but it wasn't small either, and it was empty except for a circular table set for two placed in front of the large bay window allowing the light of the full moon to shine through the heavy emerald drapes. On the table, there was an ice bucket holding a bottle of his favourite wine and a single black candle light in the middle, yet despite this it wasn't what gained Tom's attention.
To the side of the table almost glowing in the moonlight stood Harry and Tom found himself momentarily speechless. Harry was dressed in his own formfitting suit, tailored to hugged his body perfectly and it was entirely black: the suit, shirt, cufflinks, tie and waistcoat; he truly was gorgeous. Harry turned to face him and a bright smile lit up his features, his eyes trailed appreciatively over Tom's form and moved towards the older man.
"Good evening." He greeted, kissing Tom's cheek and leading him over to the table.
"What's this?" Tom questioned softly as he took a seat, eyes darting around before settling back on Harry.
"You didn't think I would actually forget your birthday, did you?" Harry said sweetly and Tom blinked, stunned.
"Most do not even know the date." Tom replied shocked.
"I would hope by now that you realise I am not 'most people'." Harry pointed out, to which Tom conceded he did have a point. "Besides, even Dark Lord's deserve something special on their birthdays."
Surprised pleasure shot through Tom; no one had ever made such a particular effort for his birthday or especially for him ever and he found himself smiling.
"I am very surprised." The Dark Lord admitted, accepting the wine Harry poured for him. "Though, no doubt this was your intention."
"Of course." Harry agreed with a grin, "However, I was supposed to be done much sooner, but I had a bit of an incident."
"With you, I am scared to ask."
Harry laughed at that.
"Thanks for the vote of confidence." He replied, "Besides, your suit fit and we're about to eat; I think I've done alright."
"We'll see," Tom commented jokingly.
"Oh ok, challenge accepted." Harry stated smirking. He snapped his fingers and two plates appeared. "For our started this evening we have grilled scallops with tomato chutney and roasted peppers."
The plate was presented with elegance and Tom really did have to wonder just how Harry seemed to make the utter best of situations because it smelled lovely.
"Bon apatite." Harry said, raising his glass. Tom was utterly unsurprised to note that the food was delicious. The flavours burst on to his tongue, everything complimented everything else on the plate with ease and he couldn't help but hum his approval as he cleared his plate.
"You seem to disappear and return with something great; I do not know why I expect anything else." Tom told his teen, lips curling up at the slight flush that marked Harry's pale cheeks.
"Changing your tune, aren't you?" Harry threw back and Tom chuckled.
"Will you continue to help with that?"
"You know I do so like to bypass expectations."
"Now that I do know." Tom confirmed, and Harry smirked.
"Well then, let's hope you like the main. We have sous vide fillet of beef, with pomme anna and mushroom puree." Harry told him, "And I hope you know this was an utter bastard to make."
The dish popped into existence and the Dark Lord was immediately assaulted with colour and scent. His first bite of the beef produced an audible sound of appreciation as it melted on his tongue and coupled with the puree mushroom it was absolutely incredible; he would have easily mistook this for a professional restaurant if he hadn't been familiar with Harry's cooking and hadn't seen him pull out meals like this for the Malfoy ball, though Tom was bias he thought this was better.
Harry flashed a pleased smile at Tom's enthusiasm and they started a conversation about everything and nothing as the meal progressed. Harry had Tom fully laughing as he brought up the time he had met the older Nott son in America as had tried out the bow and arrow for the first time. It hadn't ended well, and he had nearly shot himself and Ron.
"I swear, I didn't even know I could produce a sound that high; only bats could hear me." Harry told him snickering, "The arrow had to have ricocheted like nine times before bouncing back and coming so close to my head it had to have removed hair."
Tom tried to muffle his laughter at Harry's Harriness as he shook his head.
"How you managed to mess up a simple bow and arrow that badly I really do not know."
"It's not my forte." Harry returned only to receive a snort for his effort.
"I wouldn't have guessed." Tom said dryly, and Harry grinned.
"In my defence, Ron only had the smallest cut on his ear; he completely overreacted. It's not like he lost an ear."
"Somehow, I don't think that meant all that much to him."
"No, it really didn't. He likes to bring up the time I 'nearly killed him' every now and then." Harry said with a roll of his eyes.
"I believe it's the prerogative of first friends – to as irritating as humanly possible." Tom stated, "Theodore likes to nit-pick."
"The stories that man must have of you; seriously, I have to pick his brain."
"You'll never know the truth." Tom insisted, and Harry laughed.
"Challenge most definitely accepted."
"Merlin damn it!" Tom cursed, "I'll get to him first and swear him to secrecy."
"You are only making me much more interested about your school days, Tom." Harry pointed out with a smirk, "I bet you were a little shit under that perfect prefect mask."
"I was an absolute angel." Tom informed him solemnly. Harry almost snorted his wine out of his nose at that, coughing as he broke into peels of laughter.
"An angel? You? Ha!"
"I'll have you know that I was a model student."
"Yeah, ok, and I'm female." Harry threw back. Tom eyed him with a raised eyebrow.
"Wow, I've become exceptionally unobservant." He stated blandly, which set Harry laughing once again.
"You're impossible." He sighed, grinning.
"That's firmly your title." Tom said with a smirk, "Do not try and pass it off to me."
"Oh, hush up and eat your desert." Harry groaned, snapping his fingers to bring said meal forth. "For our final course tonight, we have a chocolate orange mousse, with spiced fruit brioche and yogurt sorbet."
"Now your cheating." Tom told him, "Using chocolate orange."
"Well, I never said I ever played fair." Harry shrugged.
"Spoken like a true Slytherin."
"Of course." Harry agreed, "I also knew that you would like it, which is exactly why there is more for you to take with you."
"Good, this will not last."
And wasn't that the truth, Tom had practically inhaled the desert and Harry felt a shot of pride that his food was so well received by the other man; it made him all warm and fuzzy. Harry had the table cleared with a wave of his hand once they were both finished and rose to his feet, holding out his hand for Tom to take.
"There's more?" Tom questioned, surprised.
"Of course," Harry replied as if it was obvious. "Coming?"
The Dark Lord took his hand without hesitation and Harry took a moment to relish in the utter trust of such a paranoid man before pulling them through the shadows to their intended destination. The stepped out in what appeared to be a forest, the snow covered ground crunching under their feet and yet the freezing temperatures didn't touch them.
"The suits?" Tom confirmed, and Harry nodded, "You really did plan this, didn't you?"
There was a note of disbelief in his tone that Harry could emphasis with, because he knew exactly what it felt like to have no one acknowledge his birthday.
"Like I said, even Dark Lord's deserve something special." Harry repeated, "And anyway, I happen to be rather partial to the current Dark Lord; paranoid, controlling egomaniac that he is."
He yelped when Tom jabbed him in the ribs, flashing a grin in response to the unimpressed expression directed at him. Harry led the older man through the trees until they came to a large Weeping Willow in the centre of a clearing, its branches decked out in frost and ice glistening gently under the moon and stars. He pushed through the vines and Tom was surprised to find it warmer once again as they entered the semi-enclosed space. Harry led them around the tree and to what appeared to be the beginnings of a staircase that wound around and up the thick trunk. As they moved up the stairs, fairies seemed to burst in to existence lighting their path and casting their beautiful glow against the glistening frost. They reached a platform decked out in throws and pillows and another bottle of wine for them to share and Tom raised an eyebrow.
"Come lie with me." Harry said, pulling him over and making himself comfy in what could only be described as a next. Tom was rather helpless but to join him, settling himself beside his teen, wrapping his arms around his waist and pressing a light kiss to his neck.
"This place is beautiful," Tom said softly, "But why here?"
"If gave the perfect view." Harry replied.
"Of that." Harry pointed upwards and on his word the sky burst in to colour as fireworks exploded above them. He had gotten them from the twins, so the waves of colour were interchanged with twisting serpents and soaring dragons as they light up the sky and bathed the two of them in their colours.
Harry watched Tom's as his expression turned to one of awe at the display and smiled softly, it was always rewarding to get such honest reactions out of the Dark Lord and he was glad he was able to do it on such an important day. They watched the fireworks and when they finally died off they stayed and watched the stars, enjoying the serenity around them.
"Thank you, for this." Tom spoke barely above a whisper sometime later, propping himself up on his arm and looking at the teen, Harry offered a smile in return and held out his final gift for the night; a single cherry and almond cupcake with a candle lit in the very centre.
"Happy Birthday, Tom."
"How in Circes name did all of my things get so scattered?" Harry wondered aloud, as an elf from the sanctuary popped in with a pair of his boots.
"Don't ask me, I was packed two days ago." Draco answered, looking amused from where he was sat on Harry's bed.
"Ugh, why didn't you remind me?" Harry complained, accepting yet another item from yet another elf that popped in; this time from McKinnon Manor.
"I'm not Luna, I don't run your life."
"She doesn't run my life, you don't know me." Harry muttered and Draco snorted.
"Please, we all know that she does." He waved Harry off and got to his feet. "Now, we literally have ten minutes before we have to leave. Hurry up."
"You are a shit human Draconis Lucius Malfoy." Harry shouted at him as he walked out, only to receive a loud laugh in return.
"My friends hate me." Harry sighed, tossing the last items into his trunk and slamming the lid closed. As soon as he had done so, an elf popped in to take his trunk to the school with Draco's, which had been sent hours ago. Harry threw on his school robes, pulled up his glamour and shadowed down to the entrance hall with seconds to spare. Narcissa tutted at him as soon as she spotted him, straightening out his robes before pressing a kiss to his forehead.
"Please be careful."
"I'll do my absolute best." Harry assured. "Oh, does anyone know what my story is for not being seen over the holidays?"
"Ah right, that's why I came to annoy you." Draco remembered, "Luna forged a letter to McGonagall stating you were going to be eating alone this year as it's the first year since Lord Black."
Harry grimaced but nodded.
"Well, she'd definitely buy that, and so would Dumbledore if she is acting as his eyes and ears."
"She's one of the people we really have to look into once we return." Draco noted, "We all assume that she's Dumbledore's but her reaction to the quills cannot be ignored; she was livid."
"You're right. I'm contemplating speaking to her directly once the Wizengamot has happened. Her reaction to that should be telling." Harry shrugged, "Can't really take the time before then to start a new project."
"No, we only have just over a week."
"I'm going to get straight to work on the ministry and use the time you guys are on the train to get things sorted before school starts up again. That and I want to prepare myself for my arm attachment." Harry groaned at the end, not looking forward to the prospect of Ginny even if it was only for a week now.
"How are you going to explain the lack of gift at Yule?" Draco questioned, "I mean, didn't she expect a Potter ring."
"Oh yeah, nah the Twins and Luna had that covered. Luna selected the ring and the twins created a copy to give to her. Like fuck am I putting real Potter heirlooms on her."
"Brilliant; truly one week left then."
"Yup, and it'll be the longest week of my life no doubt." Harry sighed, "Ok, I'll see you later. Narcissa, Lucius, thank you for hosting me during this Yuletide."
"It's been an utter pleasure to have you, Harry, you are welcome any time." Narcissa told him warmly. Lucius nodded from next to his wife and actually looked serious in his regard; huh, he had actually managed to change Lucius' opinion of him. Harry vanished in a swarm of shadows, he came out in to his own rooms in the castle and went to unpack.
He and Tom had pointedly not spoken this morning and Harry's entire being was on edge. Last night, when they returned to the manor after Tom's birthday celebration they had ended up having sex, but it was completely unlike anything they had done before. There was something there, something that Harry didn't want to admit but knew had been creeping in these last months, something more than their usual passion, but something unknown and something frightening. Harry also knew he hadn't been the only one to feel it as when they had awoken this morning because Tom had looked at him oh so strangely before kissing him like he was saying goodbye and vanishing into the bathroom without a word. Harry had left for his own room and they hadn't seen each other since.
It was driving Harry insane to know something had happened but not know anything that had happened at the same time. However, he had promised himself a clean break after the holidays and the circumstances as they were made it a lot easier to do. The Dark Lord had always brought out the extremes in Harry, if he limited his contact with the man he may have a better chance at actually sticking to his resolve. With that thought, Harry firmly pushed everything away and pulled out his copy of their ministry plans. If everything went as they had planned it to go, their next line of work had to be on for the campaign trail they needed to pull off in order for their selected minister to be chosen permanently.
It was such a huge task that they had divided it into the main sections to work on individually: Harry himself had the next generation, Remus had werewolves and creatures, Ron had the old traditions, Hermione had education, Draco, Blaise and Neville on national and international law and Luna worked with everyone. A lot of their things overlapped naturally, so they worked together when they could to build it up. Harry had taken over the plans in the last month due to everything that had been happening as it was something that didn't require him to move around the castle where Dumbledore could see. However, even with most of his work going towards it, a lot of the work needed for the Minister's campaign would have to be done during the trail. The timeturners were a life saver, but there was only so much they could stretch them before their bodies simply could not take it.
It was at these times where Harry felt weary down to his very bones, because it felt like it was a never-ending climb before they broke free of Dumbledore. As long as the old man still lived, as long as he could still be remembered in a good light and his influence remained in their world none of them would ever be free. It served as a good reminder as to why he continued to pick himself up and go on, because one day he and his friends will be without Dumbledore's influence even if it was the last thing he ever did. Harry shook himself from such maudlin thoughts and got to work, immersing himself in his task so completely that he lost track of the time. Thankfully, Dobby popped in to tell him when the carriages started to arrive so he packed up and made his way down to the Great Hall.
By the time he got there the crowds were pouring into the Hall so it was easy for Harry to duck away from Ginny and end up with a seat near the end of the Gryffindor table by Neville. The Hall felt completely different without the old fool stood at the head and Harry found himself smiling slightly, because Dumbledore would never again stand in these castle halls and if they had done anything that was a significant achievement. Once that wasn't going unnoticed by the student population. More and more conversation swept through the hall at the lack of aged figure, and Harry could understand. Last time Dumbledore had been removed by the board he had been allowed back quite soon after, then again when he had been pushed out by the ministry last year, Dumbledore once again returned.
This time it was not to be, and there was much speculation as to what was going to happen; especially after the Ball season – even if none could yet actually speak of what had happened. The head table had had a minor arrangement change, with Snape now sitting where McGonagall once had next to the Head seat and there was a new male teacher sat up there, too. Harry found it a touch amusing that despite the changes and the loudness of the Hall, McGonagall still had the ability to get a room silent without doing anything. Well, at least you can count on somethings not to change.
"For those returning to us, welcome back to Hogwarts. For those who stayed, welcome to the new term." She began, her voice clear and calm and loud enough to reach the back of the Hall without issue.
"Many changes have occurred over the break, but I can assure you we have done everything in our power to make the transitions easier. I am now officially succeeded Albus Dumbledore as Headmistress of Hogwarts."
There was a round of applause from the Hall, the Gryffindors' and, ironically enough, the Slytherins' showing their appreciation the most; McGonagall smiled briefly and nodded.
"Thank you. Now, Professor Severus Snape has been selected to take over the Deputy position with full approval of both the Board of Governors and Hogwarts Herself."
An explosive cheer from the House of Snakes drowned out the lacklustre applause from the rest of the school as Snape stood and nodded once before retaking his head with an expression of slight satisfaction.
"Finally, I ask that you welcome Professor Alexander Howard, who will be taking of the post of Transfiguration for the rest of the year."
There was particularly enthusiastic applause from the Ravenclaws', which was unsurprising as Howard had been making a big name for himself in the Transfig field; even Harry was surprised they had gotten such a good temporary teacher. Not to say that he thought McGonagall was subpar, on the contrary, her entire accolades in Transfiguration accumulated in a Grand Mastery – that is to say, you probably aren't going to find anyone that much better.
"It is my hope that we go into this new term refreshed and ready, despite the changes. Let the feast begin."
The new Headmistress took her seat as the tables filled with food and the volume of the hall rose instantly. Though they were sat close together, Harry and Neville didn't speak during the meal and it was with relief that the feast came to an end so Harry could make his escape before Ginny spotted him. His mind was whirling on McGonagall's words, or rather, her lack of words; specifically, on Dumbledore. He was expecting, in the very least, something along the lines of "he will be missed" or mentioning his contributions to the school.
But absolutely nothing.
Harry couldn't work out if that was exceptionally telling of McGonagall's feelings regarding the old man or a deliberate political move given that there were children of those who had gotten rid of Dumbledore in the Hall and she didn't want to seem as if she was in the fool's corner. Whatever reason, it threw him from the loop and no doubt his friends would have been thinking the same thing. When he got to his rooms, he had been beaten by Luna, Draco and the twins, whereas Blaise, Ron, Hermione and Neville drifted in after him in the space of ten minutes.
"So that was something." Hermione said as soon as they all had seats.
"Is it possible for the quills and the other papers to have had such an effect?" Ron wondered, "I mean, I know when needed McGonagall can become mildly terrifying and that she's definitely a tough woman, but she's loyal to a fault."
"Yes, but is that loyalty to the children or to Dumbledore?" Neville wondered.
"Plus, has anyone even contemplated that there may be more than a few compulsion spells on her?" Draco threw in and there was a noise of realisation throughout the room.
"That could be very plausible." Fred and George said together before turning to Harry.
"Didn't you say-,"
"That she was-,"
"The one who-."
"Brought your mother's-,"
"Yeah, what of it?"
"Well we've heard enough times how your parents were some of the teachers favourites, but literally every teacher who worked here at the time seemed to adore your mother; McGonagall especially." George pointed out.
"Why would someone who cared that much about someone, who knew her family intricately, cave so very suddenly when Dumbledore decided to leave you on the doorstep of their house." Fred finished.
"Oh I didn't even think about that." Hermione gasped, "It doesn't make sense at all."
"Plus, we all know that McGonagall does care about her students. I mean, she went all the way to the ministry to fight against my selection in the tournament in fourth year." Harry mused, "Even if she was overrun when she was working three positions so it didn't allow her much time with the House."
"Yeah, Remus has told us all about much more work she's had piled on her since she took the Deaputy position in their 6th year." Ron added.
"I believe that McGonagall had found herself compelled to many things she wouldn't normally do, but Dumbledore has also managed to hide many things from her eyes so not as much as you." Luna's voice sounded airy and light as she gave her observations and the group seemed to collectively sigh.
"It's not something we can truly sort through at the moment." Harry stated, "As soon as the Wizengamot if over us lions will go and speak with the Queen of the Pride and go from there."
"Very well, let's leave it at that and get settled for the night." Hermione decided, "And don't forget to check over all of your holiday work. We've been working on so many different things lately that if I'm getting things mixed up then who knows what you lot are doing."
She flounced away amidst their jeers and vanished out of his portrait hole. The rest of the group dispersed after that, saying their goodbyes and leaving Harry and Luna to their rest.
"To bed my Lady?" Harry questioned, offering his arm.
"To bed, my good Sir." Luna confirmed, taking his arm with a grin.
"Why do I think this is going to be an excruciatingly long week?" Harry groaned as he flopped down on to his bed and flicked his hand to change in to his pyjamas.
"Because it is?" Luna suggested.
"Thanks for that sister."
"You are most welcome."
Apparently, Harry had lost the ability to sleep without Tom completely, he sat up gently as not to disturb Luna and slipped out of his bed to the living room cursing to himself. It was pointless trying to deny it, it was the exactly the same as Malfoy Manor, only back then he had found the cure. Harry curled up in his chair resigned to the fact he would be having many sleepless nights, but he had made a resolve and he wasn't going to break it. It shook him more than he wanted to admit that something so important had been so deeply affected, as he knew there was only so long he could go without sleep before it became a big problem. For all of his fears over becoming one of the many to be desperately seeking the Dark Lord's attention, because he knew it was addictive, he had never once contemplated something such as this.
Harry knew he was missing something, he hadn't been completely blind to his friend's odd reactions when Tom was brought up but none of them had revealed anything so he was left frustrated and restless. Worse, it felt like he was missing the obvious and it was just out of reach. Harry ruthlessly crushed down the panic that had been growing since he'd left Tom this morning and pushed everything away; he would be fine. He got through making his body sleep locked away in his cupboard he could damn well do it again, it would just take a bit of time; something he did and didn't have. But for now there wasn't anything he could do but keep himself distracted so he summoned a book and sat back to read. He was tempted to go wander the castle, but that involved effort he did have right now. It was like being full of energy but so weighed down.
Harry hated the feeling, and on top off knowing he was missing something that should be obvious but was alluding him and he had the sinking suspicion it had something to do with Tom wasn't helping. He knew he needed to work it out but he was in no way fit to analyse what in Circe' name he'd managed to get himself in to. Harry hissed when he felt a sharp flare of pain from his scar; not something that tended to happen accidently anymore, usually used as Tom's petty way to show his displeasure at the things Harry did. Harry tended to laugh at him in response which probably didn't help but it was always fun for him to rile Tom up. He pushed that thought from his mind as soon as it entered, the curling in his stomach making him uneasy. He ignored his scar and refocused on the book, trying to get his mind to focus on the text rather than his whirling thoughts.
Harry was somewhat successful, reading through the first chapter before he began to wonder how many nights he would find himself in the same situation. They had so much going on and an utterly crucial movement coming up that he couldn't afford to be anything less than utterly on his game. Just another reason for his panic, something was happing and it had something to do with Tom, and it needed to either be fixed by the Wizengamot or wait until after. Merlin, the repercussions on them missing this meeting weren't pretty and nigh on every bit of groundwork they had built up during the balls would vanish. Good Merlin, why did he always manage to land himself in to situations that he had no idea what was actually going on? He thought it was Dumbledore but, while the old goat bore responsibility for uniting them against him, Harry couldn't blame him for this one. Why did he have zero self-control when it came to the Dark Lord? Surely, he couldn't be that far lost that he couldn't fix whatever this was.
"Ouch," Harry slapped his hand to said scar as it burned fiercely followed by the feelings of impatience, as if Tom was waiting for something and Harry hissed. He was not going to be dealing with this for the rest of the night, especially given the fact that he was already set to be in a terrible mood tomorrow due to it being the first day back in class on top of little sleep. He threw back a wave of agitation only to receive what he could only describe as a summoning. Harry froze for a second and then all but jumped through the shadows furious at the Dark Lord's audacity, only to become more enraged when he saw the man casually leaning on the wall next to his bedroom obviously waiting for him.
"Did you just fucking summon me?" Harry demanded incredulously, anger leaking into his tone.
"It worked." Tom stated simply.
"A – fuck you. B – stop with the Merlin damned scar you narcissistic egotistical megalomaniac. And C – I am not one of your damn minions that will come to your side at a snap command fuck you very much." Harry snarled, shooting the Dark Lord a look of disgust and then turning on his heel to leave. Before he could step through the shadows Tom grabbed his arm and halted his movement causing Harry to look back at him through narrowed eyes.
"What?" He hissed.
"I have no other means to contact you at the current time. You cannot be angry me using our connection thusly." The Dark Lord pointed out reasonably, "Besides, I have never treated you as a Death Eater."
Harry reluctantly conceded he did have a point and sighed.
"Either way, I'm here now. What do you want?"
"You here." The unsaid obviously was hanging between them and Harry fought not to roll his eyes.
"Funnily enough, Tom, I gathered that myself."
"Hm, so angry tonight." Tom murmured, pulling the teen closer and wrapping his arms around his waist, "It looks good on you."
"Don't use your damn charm to make me less angry with you; it won't work." Harry grumbled, looking down with a slight flush to his cheeks.
"Merlin forbid." Tom said mockingly, smirking when Harry slapped his chest unimpressed.
"Are you going to let me go to bed at any point tonight?" Harry questioned, eyeing the taller man dubiously and Tom raised an eyebrow.
"You were very much awake anyway."
"I could have been heading for sleep." Harry pointed out primly.
"Were you? Tom asked, his tone bland yet somewhat amused.
"No, wide away." He replied impishly, and Tom rolled his eyes with a sigh.
"Why are you like this?" He wondered rhetorically.
"Dumbledore. He's usually the answer to most things."
"He is the last person I would like to think of right now." Tom stated in distaste.
"Yeah, I'll give you that one." Harry allowed.
"Oh, how gracious of you." Tom muttered, shaking his head. "Come, let us sleep. We have to begin classes once again tomorrow and I know you'll be on edge until the Wizengamot."
"You are the worst." Harry informed him. He knew where this was going, and he also knew his resolve, as usual with Tom, crumbled almost instantly when the man started leading him towards the bedroom. He could have refused, simply walked away back to his own room and he knew that Tom would let him, but he couldn't bring himself to and that was the worst thing of them all.
"So you tell me almost daily."
"Well it's true." Harry said, "If I don't tell you who knows what would happen to the size of your ego."
Harry allowed himself to be pushed down into bed, he allowed Tom to pull him close to his chest and he easily accepted the kiss pressed to his lips as the covers were settled over them. As pissed as he was that Tom had just called him to his side like an errant puppy, Harry found himself equally pleased that Tom clearly didn't want to sleep without him. It was actually an issue now, Harry knew this, but it didn't stop him from curling further into Tom and tucking his face into his neck as he settled for sleep.
He would deal with it in the morning.
When Tom Riddle woke up he felt someone draped over him and mentally berated himself. Yet again, Harry was in his bed. And there could be no argument as to who initiated this situation. It was all on him. He had been the one to use their unique connection to bring Harry to him, he had been the one to stop Harry leaving and it was he who pulled Harry into his bed. What was worse was that there wasn't even a hint of sex that made him do so; he just wanted Harry with him. Tom had always prided himself for his control, but there was something about the teen that made his perfect control disappear. Back when this all began, when he had caught sight of the teen, without his glamour, he had wanted him.
Sue him for being vein, but he liked pretty things and Harry Potter was gorgeous. It was to be expected of course. The Potters were always good looking, but James Potter's mother had been a Black and they had always been noted for their beauty; there hadn't been a recorded ugly Black. Harry had those genes plus he also had his mothers, and Lily Evans had been notably beautiful. At first, the Dark Lord had just wanted to sleep with teen, but then he saw the teen's real personality and he wanted to talk to him, something that was a rarity for him because he got tired of most people very quickly.
Dumbledore always assumed he had never wanted friends, but that wasn't strictly true. Theodore, Abraxas and Richmond were all people that he had truly considered his friends before he went mad and in Theodore's case, through that and after. His Elite were also joining those ranks and apparently so was Harry and co. After the ball Tom was left burning, he wanted Harry Potter to be on his substantial list of conquests more than ever. Of course, what was unexpected was for Harry to begin his little game; Tom had never had to go after someone because most threw themselves at his feet, it was exciting and he had no doubt Harry knew exactly what he was doing. Spending over two weeks dancing around him making Tom want him even more, no, the Dark Lord was sure that was Harry's intention and Tom enjoyed it.
It was something new, and he had always liked a challenge. There was no way he was not going to get what he wanted simply because Harry had to go to school to keep his act up, he needed to gather correct information from inside the school anyway and who better to collect that information than himself. Especially as it enabled him to have all of his Death Eaters "in the field". Convincing Dumbledore to give him the position was ridiculously easy and he had been given private tutoring sessions with Harry, which he was only too happy to participate in. Though, that didn't stop his amusement at the fact that Dumbledore handed over his precious saviour to him for an endless number of private hours.
He was impressed with how Harry and his friends worked together effortlessly, Dumbledore was none the wiser and it only made him more interested in Harry. The teen in question was still toying with him, looks, clothes, notes, it was driving him mad. There was the little problem with the blood traitor on his arm all the time, it was then Tom realised he was possessive of someone he hadn't even slept with yet. He had always been a possessive man, what was his was solely his; if he wanted something to be his he got it, and in his mind Harry was already labelled as such. When Harry had turned up for that first "tutoring" session Tom's mind went blank, the only thing registered was he was having him there and then and nothing was going to stop him. What was strange was he had let Harry sleep in his bed. Never had he ever allowed one of his conquests to share his bed, actually, he had never shared a bed with anyone, but with Harry he did and he didn't mind. He didn't even think about it. There was also the fact that as a rule he never slept with the same person again, it would give them too much belief that they actually mattered to him, but it was different with Harry. He wanted him again, he was determined to have him again; and so, he did.
Again, without thinking he let him stay in his bed, like it was second nature something that it shouldn't be. Tom thought he would get bored, but he didn't. Everything about Harry Potter-Black threw him, he wanted to be around him, talk to him, hell he even wanted to spend time with him in a way that he had never really experienced before. Tom Riddle had never craved human company before Harry Potter-Black, he wanted to say it was because of the very accidental bond which they had, but he wouldn't lie to himself. No, it was the teen himself, he was smart, funny, gorgeous and powerful, and Tom enjoyed being around him. He had also found he enjoyed waking up with Harry in his bed, and it was at Yule when he realised just how much. The fact he had spent so much time with Harry that he couldn't sleep properly without him was alarming, he didn't even want to have sex! Not that that wasn't a massive bonus as sex with the teen was the best, no he just wanted to have him in his bed.
Warning bells went off in his head, especially because he found himself not caring, Tom shouldn't have become that comfortable around anyone, but he was and it had to stop. It had even reached the point where he did things simply to make the teen happy. He had vowed to himself that when they were back in the castle he would cut whatever was going on off, that he would take a step back and evaluate the situation as it could no longer be labelled as casual sex because it wasn't, but it had to stop. Then the first night, first night, he caved, he wanted Harry in his bed so he would have Harry in his bed and he had made the teen come to him. He didn't know what this was, he didn't know why he wanted to be around Harry all the time, he didn't know why he was so attached to the teen and he didn't know what to do about it. The source of his whirling thought stirred in his arms, Tom felt a kiss be pressed to his collar bone and smiled automatically.
"Stop thinking, it's too early," Harry muttered, "You'll hurt yourself," Tom jabbed him in the side and Harry snickered, he pushed himself into a sitting position and turning to face the older man with a quick smile before it faded. He looked at Tom's expression for a few moments silently assessing before tilting his head.
"What are you thinking so heavily on?" Harry asked and Tom returned a silent assessment of his own before sighing quietly and leaning back.
"You." He admitted making Harry quirk an eyebrow in surprise before adopting a mild expression as his thoughts whirled. If he had noticed the oddness between them then he would bet Tom had also, which also meant that there was an equally high chance that he had already worked out what was going on or he was as clueless as Harry was; neither option was appealing to the teen.
"What about me?" He wondered, instead of asking anything else. Tom's eye's trailed over him once again but this time a strange smile flickered over his face before it cleared.
"Somehow, I think you know." Tom said, that strange smile coming and going once again, "You have a habit of knowing me."
Harry closed his eyes as he took a slow breath, unresisting as Tom pulled him to sit on his lap still facing him. He opened his eyes and gave a wry tilt of his lips.
"Wondering what in the name of magic is going on? One night in and I'm already sleeping in your bed again."
He emphasised the word because it was such a distinguishing factor. This had started off as sex, it was casual, it was relief and now it was a mess of craving and confusion and uncertainty.
"Hm," Tom's hands found his waist and traced patterns over Harry's skin almost absently. "I was using you."
"You were using me."
Tom didn't speak again and Harry drew a shaky breath.
"What happened?" It came out as barely a whisper but it was apparent that Tom heard as he sighed as briefly looked away from Harry.
"I don't know."
If it was any other time Harry would not have failed to capitalise on the fact that the Dark Lord had admitted out loud that he didn't know something, and by the quick warning glance Tom shot him the other man knew it too. It was as unsurprising as it was all too suddenly terrifying that they both knew each other so well that they could predict responses without so much as a look.
"It's always things surrounding you that end up in such a mess." Harry said in frustration, getting to his feet and moving over to the wardrobe in an effort to relief his pent-up tension.
"Me?" Tom repeated incredulously, following the teen's movement with his eyes. "You are the problem. You are always the one that makes completely normal situations suddenly challenging."
"Yes, I pull off impossible feats but how do I make things challenging. That's on you. You cannot seem to ever take the simple route." Harry snipped and Tom scoffed.
"Of course, I use the killing curse and you rebound it."
"Oh, like that has anything to do it this." Harry snapped, "This is on you, you came after me."
"Do not give me that. You knew exactly what you were doing from the moment you started your little game." Tom threw back.
"And it was supposed to be casual!" Harry exclaimed, "I'm 16 and horny; your gorgeous; it was meant to be just sex! And you had to ruin that, too."
"How did I ruin it?" Tom demanded. "How is this on me?"
"Because you were supposed to be a vile, cold hearted bastard that cared nothing for anything but his own power and control!" Harry burst out, "You were never supposed to be funny, charming, caring or sweet. You weren't supposed to make me notice your sweet tooth, or your favourite colour or the fact that you are, despite Light opinion, unbelievably proud to be a Halfblood simply because you are the most powerful wizard in our known world and it's a massive fuck you to the Purebloods who believe blood matters."
"Do not stand there like you are the innocent in all this. I was known for being a cold-hearted bastard. I am the Dark Lord; people literally feared to speak my name." Tom spat, rising to his feet also. "You drew me in, you got me to notice everything from your weird addiction to strawberries to the fact that you smell like damn apples and you made it so the only thing that was on my mind was was you."
"And you made me love you!"
As soon as the words left his mouth, the implications of what he had just said punched him in the gut and Harry's face drained of colour as he suddenly understood exactly what was going on. To his utter desperation he realised that it was true. The unnamed feelings that had been steadily growing had accumulated into him falling in love Tom Riddle, and he hadn't noticed until right now. He caught sight of Tom's frozen expression and panic nearly overwhelmed him; this was the absolute opposite as to what he wanted to happen. He couldn't do this; he needed to get out of there right away.
"What did you just say?"
"I said this has to stop." Harry barked, his voice shaking despite how much he tried to stop it, "We're done here. I have to go."
He closed their connection abruptly, and this time, when he turned and called up his shadows Tom didn't stop him as he made his escape.
So I'm back and I've done this...
Please don't kill me 3