Author's Note: I am most sorry for the delay! I am so happy with the reviews I have been getting, but Holidays are a bit hectic in my household. I've been looking after my nephews and niece from time-to-time (so their mama can go on her anniversary,) and I've been in-and-out of the doctor for regular checkups on my health. That, and Spring Classes begin on the 13th, and I've been going mad trying to find all of my books (eight in all.) So, well, I sat down and wrote this for all of you! A happy belated Yule and New Years!
Anyway; Read, Enjoy, and Review!
How could he not, he noted, when a muggle boy was standing between his follows and Dumbledore's cohorts. He knew the boy, Dursley, from the years prior when he had been trapped in the journal. Hadrian had drawn him on multiple occasions, and discussed, in length, his cousin's unwavering determination to 'provide' for his younger cousin under the guise of browbeating. Tom had scoffed the first time his ward had mentioned it, but, when it continued to happen, a grudging sense of approval had roared its nasty head.
He provided when Tom himself could not.
The boy had earned his piece, but he knew, as he tightened his grip on his ward, that something had brought the boy here. Under his calm hand, he could feel young Hadrian James Potter tense and how his magic surged to the surface. Running his hand down the boy's spine, he let his magic leak out as Nagini hissed, "Something wicked this way comes, master. The air is cold."
"It is coming. Salazar knows. I know. Nagini knows." Tom turned his gaze on the child in his arms, those green eyes staring at his cousin, and Tom hissed, "Nagini, bring me the muggle boy. Do not harm him."
The poisonous viper surged forward; Tom watched it slam into the large muggle boy moments later, and how she wound her body around the boy and then weaved across the stones to deliver her prey to his feet. Several spells followed her retreat, and Tom felt his lip twitch with a smile as the wards he spelled into her flesh repelled them. Nagini was before him in moments, unwinding the large boy before him and his chosen child. Hadrian, young Harry, dropped to his knees as a soft keening noise, sorrowful and frightened, slipped out of the back of his throat. The blond boy, face flushed, twisted around until his smaller cousin was locked in an embrace.
"Harry," The boy pulled away, and Tom watched, his hand tracing the length of his wand, as the boy murmured, "Good Lord, Harry, it's good to see you again."
"It is coming. It is here." Tom noticed how Harry's gaze snapped to the side as Salazar hissed the warning, eyes narrowing on the shadows on the far end, and then he was up on his feet as Dudley Dursley said, "What is it? What's going on?"
"Now is not the time, boy." Tom snapped out as he deflected a spell aimed at the boys. It struck the shield, and the air in front of them rippled like water disturbed by tossed stones, clear one moment and soft blues the next. Dudley blinked at him, face pale with fear, but those dark eyes flickered to the side as his cousin tugged on his arm. Draco was next to them in a moment's notice, voice low as he murmured to the boy with an air of wonder around him. No doubt the Malfoy heir was curious.
"Is it the thing that Marge brought into the house, Harry?" Tom warded the area around them, gaze scanning the horizon for the thing that had both serpents hissing with agitation. A quick glance out of the side of his eye showed Hadrian nodding, and then gesturing, his answers. As the background darkened, he knew that the creature, a wraith or spirit of some sort, closed in on both parties. Across the square, Tom heard Minerva hissing, "This is not the time, Albus! You know this! We must focus on getting the boys to safety, not tossing spells in their general direction!"
"It was cold, Harry! I remember that much, the chill that had seeped into the house. Then, when you left..." Tom's gaze turned to Narcissa, his voice steady as he told her, "Get the children, and return to the Manor. Lucius, Severus, you two will stay with me to ensure this thing does not follow them."
"I remember how it was always cold. Even in the colder months, it was cold even when...when he cranked up the heat." Dudley was still talking, and Tom glanced down at his ward, his hand running through the black lengths of the boy's hair, as Hadrian asked, "He? Vernon?"
Tom echoed the question, and Dudley nodded. He had a slightly confused look on his face, his brows furrowed, as he gazed at his cousin. Tom turned that thought away as he told the boys, "You, Draco and Hadrian will head for Malfoy Manor with Lucius and his family."
"What about you?" Tom glanced down at the black-haired youth that tugged on his hand, and he gently smoothed the hair out of the youth's face as he murmured, "I have some business to attend to, but I will return before you can miss me."
"I will miss you if you leave." Tom's brow rose as his green-eyed ward pouted, lower lip stuck out, and felt the shadow of a smile curve his mouth. "It will take but a moment. You, however, must get behind the safety of the wards surrounding the Manor."
Narcissa swept in at that moment, and took the children by the hand before vanishing with a loud crack. Tom turned, and face the shadow cutting through the stones of the buildings and the Light-devoted warriors beneath it. The wraith screamed. The world trembled, and Diagon Alley was lost to chaos as magic rendered stone buildings to kindle and debris. Tom sidestepped a jutting spear of stone that ruptured under him, and Lucius murmured a spell under his breath that spouted a blazing wall of flame behind them. Severus was running complicated enchantments, the words flowing smoothly in a incantation Tom remembered from his youth.
Tom twirled his wand in his hand as he narrowed his gaze on one Albus Dumbledore, his voice cutting through the craze as he hissed, "Take this warning, Headmaster. If you come for him, I will raise my wand against you."
The wraith came at him, billowing shadows and rage, as he felt his magic rage from his core and deliver him from danger.
Minerva leapt to the side, rolling across the stones as the creature attacked. She could see the others weaving between attacks, their spells flying across the street and bouncing off stone walls without so much as leaving a mark on the target they passed through. Eyes narrowing, hair slipping from the severe bun, she saw Tom, Tom Riddle, vanish with those he had come with. Lucius Malfoy and Severus, both deflecting a few spells aimed at them, vanished a moment later.
How long had it been since she last saw young Tom Riddle? How long has it been since she had seen such clear sanity in his eyes, and a determination that would shake the foundation of the world itself? How long has it been since she had seen a boy who could shape the world into whatever shape he wanted? How long had it been, she asked herself as she murmured a shielding spell that blocked a roaring tidal-wave of flame from consuming her. How long has it been, and how had he came back from whatever darkness that swallowed him? Was he under a glamour of some kind, or was it ritual-based magic that gaze him an appearance of youth?
Or had he, in some way, revived as a young man, brought to his prime, by magic itself?
Tom Riddle, a boy who she had known when she had been a student, had always been a mystery everyone wanted to understand. So long ago, it seemed, since she had seen the potential that slowly faded in the Darkness he had drawn into his own soul.
He truly cares for the child. It had not escaped her notice how he had caressed young Hadrian Potter's hair, how he had murmured something to him before Lady Malfoy had whisked him away with his cousin in hand. Even the young Malfoy heir had grabbed the Dursley boy's hand, a short glimpse she had seen. Dunking under yet another violent outburst of raw energy, she cursed the Fates with a venomous hatred she had not known she had possessed.
Mrs. Malfoy ushered them inside.
Dudley gaped at the sight before him, unsure if his eyes were telling him the truth or if this was some sort of dream he never wanted to wake up from. Harry still had his hand caught, those small fingers comfortable and reassuring. The blond boy on his cousin's other side, a noble surely, kept shooting quick glances over the smaller boy's head at him. Dudley was rather uncomfortable, but surely this was better than what he could offer.
Hold on, mum. I'll get you help. You'll see. Mrs. Malfoy, Narcissa if he recalled what the red-eyed man had called her, let them inside and snapped her fingers. Then, out of thin air, this large-eyed, floppy-eared thing appeared. Dudley stared. It stared back, and then turned to the woman as it said, "What cans I do for the Miss? Wills I make snakes? Shalls I make a guests room?"
"Please do. Check the wards while you're at it, and have the others ready when the Lord arrives with Lucius and Severus." Dudley stilled, and caught her hand as she took a step. She turned, those bright eyes regarding him in silence for a moment before she curled her hand around his. Her voice was light as she spoke, "Come, let us sit in the drawing room. Draco, Hadrian, come along."
Dudley stared at the hand holding his. The skin was soft, flawless, and he wondered at it. The halls were twisting, but it wasn't long before he was sitting in a large, stuffed sofa with the floor to far down for his feet to reach. Harry climbed into the seat next to him, and he swallowed as he eyed the snake pooled in his cousin's lap. The other boy, Draco, sat on his other side as he said, "That is Salazar. He is Harry's familiar. I'm Draco, by the way. You must be Dudley."
"You know my name?"
"I do. Harry told me a bit about you, you see. Spoke highly of you, he did. Isn't that right, Harry?" His cousin smiled, and stroked Salazar's diamond-shaped head. Across from them sat Mrs. Malfoy, and she was sipping tea that was sitting on the table the moment they arrived in the room. Dudley took an offered cup, and held it gingerly between his hands. He inhaled the scent, and felt himself relaxing.
A light tug on the cuff of his sleeve turned his gaze to his cousin, and the boy handed him a book. Dudley gently cradled it, and eyed the sentence written across the surface of the otherwise pristine paper. It took him a moment to notice something else in the room with them, something rather large and crawling over his cousin's shoulder. It was a spider. Dudley felt his hair stand on end as he watched it, the thing as large as his hands combined, and how his cousin reached up and petted it.
"Don't mind that thing. Harry hasn't named her yet."
Draco grimaced, but nodded. The boy eyed the spider as he said, "I still have yet to understand how he likes that thing. A snake, sure, but a spider? No. Just no."
"He's always liked them." Dudley said, but kept his gaze trained on the eight-legged beast. It merely sat on his cousin's lap, legs quivering, but moved no farther as the lady spoke up, "I am Narcissa Malfoy, and this is my son Draco. We have not been properly introduced, and customs die hard."
"Dudley Dursley, ma'am." he replied easily, and hesitated a moment before asking, "You mentioned someone named Severus. Would that person be Severus Snape, ma'am?"
"It would be." The speaker came from behind them, and his cousin was up and around the chair before he could blink. Dudley turned and watched three men, all from Diagon Alley, enter the room. His gaze fell on the black-haired man, the one who looked like the older version of the boy in the diary's picture, and swallowed. Dudley stood, careful, and crossed over the the dour-looking man. He met those dark eyes, and, carefully selecting his words, he finally said, "I came to Diagon Alley for two reasons. I wanted to find my cousin,"
He swallowed, and the man stared him down until he blurted out, "I found my aunt's diary, and it said if something bad was happening to find you!"
"Maaasssttter!" She swayed down the hallway, hair curling around her and bouncing, as she walked through the twisted waves and mist and mud. She spun around, arms held wide, and laughed as she tilted her face towards the sky so the mist would coat her side. Spinning, laughing, randomly shooting spells at trees and stone alike, she giggled and staggered to the side. Someone caught her, arms folding around her waist as a deep voice rumbled, "Come, Bella. It won't be long until the Dementors come this way."
Bella blinked up, eyes dancing as she took in the hard exterior the man named her husband. She curled her fingers into his shirt, a low smile pulling at her lips, as she asked, "Will master welcome us home? Now that he has returned, will he want us still?"
Rodolphus ran a hand down the expanse of her back, a light smile on his face as he murmured assurances to his wife late into the night. Their Lord was waiting.
Remus followed behind in silence. He felt the wolf in him growling, ready, as he walked behind Fenrir Greyback.
If he was taking him to his cub, if he had not been lying...Remus swallowed, blood boiling, and jumped when he felt Greyback lay a hand on the back of his neck. He narrowed amber eyes on the older wolf, and listened as the elder said, "The pup is with our Lord. The Mark is active. You have seen it for yourself."
He wondered if Sirius had escaped the Dementors' searching grasp, if he was still running wild as a grimm. Had he followed the Lestranges to young Hadrian, his green-eyed pup? Had he fought them? Had he been caught? Was he back in that dark prison? Was he still alive? Questions, they raced through his mind without letting up. He ignored the knowing stare Greyback was leveling on him. He ignored the scents in the air, the smell of fresh blood spilled, as they circled the outer edge of London. Soon they would be in the Wizarding world, and, from there, they would head to the Malfoys.
If they hurt him...
Remus's breath caught, and his eyes flared till they glowed in the dark....if they hurt him, I'll kill all of them.
AN: One of my reviewers had asked me a few questions, and I thought it would only be fair if I answered them. One of the questions is if there will be any pairings, and that was directed towards Tom and Harry.
First off, at the moment this is a mentor-ward relationship they have going. However, there is a chance it will develop into something deeper when Harry is older. This is the first HPFF I have ever written, and, while I do have others now, this is the one I will be focusing on the most. As for other relationships? I'm not sure, but any ideas, or suggestions, are always working. Honestly, I just love seeing pairings other people like, and see if there are any I haven't ever considered.
The horcrux question - I'm afraid I cannot answer that, but this will be brought up in one of the upcoming chapters.
Lastly, is this a dark-winning story - That solely depends on what your definition on what 'winning' entails. I have several ideas brewing, and I hope to get to them soon.
As of right now, it is nearing midnight. So I think I will post this chapter, and then bid you all goodnight. I do hope you all have enjoyed this chapter, and I cannot wait to read your reviews. Until next time, a good night and a happy belated Holiday!