A/N: *touches this fic like a walkie-talkie from the past century*

H-hello? Is this still working?

Enjoy :)



Chapter 47

Harry flopped down on his couch, determined to not move a finger within the next couple of hours. His face was buried in the pillow, but he could still clearly hear the portrait creaking open behind him. And there was really only one person who wouldn't bother knocking.

"Go away," Harry groaned, not even lifting his head.

"Well those stairs would exhaust anyone," Riddle said cheerfully.

"My legs are fine," Harry pressed out, as he finally rolled into a sitting position. "I can't feel my face anymore," he said, massaging his cheeks. "How do you smile so goddamn much?"

Riddle flashed him a perfectly charming smile - just because he could, the bastard – and shrugged nonchalantly. "I didn't actually evade human contact for most of my life, unlike a certain someone?"

"I just smiled for like… three hours straight," Harry said dazed. "At least."

"Two hours," Riddle corrected. "The last hour was more of a grimace, really."

Harry shot him a dark look.

"But," Riddle continued and sat down on the couch himself, "I'm sure everyone appreciated the effort."

"Very funny."

"Oh it was."

Harry flopped down again, though his legs didn't fit anymore with Riddle sitting there as well.

"You worry too much," Riddle said more seriously. "It went well. They wanted to meet you, now they did and they like you, so everyone is happy to pull this through."

Harry sighed internally. That was the problem wasn't it? Everyone was happy to go die for him. Like it was some sort of honour. And he had listened to them and smiled. Like he knew what would happen. Like he knew what he was doing.

He felt sick.

"What are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to be with the lords? It's not like you are exhausted from this."

"I prefer your company."

"I'm tired."

Riddle raised an eyebrow at him. "You disappear for days and now you deprive me of company?"

"We can talk as long as you want while we travel on the train. All across the country. To our doom," Harry said gloomily.


"Accurate," Harry corrected.

"In any case, the train lacks privacy."

"Why d-…"

Harry began and turned his head slightly, but by then Riddle was already right there and Harry would forever deny that he was the one to close the distance, but shit he actually missed this.

The position was awkward at best, with his legs still dangling from the sofa, and yet perfect in a way that was hard to explain. He wanted to close his eyes and sit back – or lay back or whatever and just…breathe. But his heart seized up and he jumped up suddenly, tasting bile.

"What is it now?" Riddle asked and Harry just hated how patient he sounded, how he seemed to understand his jumpiness and accepted it. And when the fuck did that happen anyways?

Without realizing it, Harry had begun to pace in front of the couch agitatedly, while Riddle straightened back up and followed him with his eyes.

"Look it's just-…" Harry began, fatigue gone completely as he paced. "You can be pretty fucking intimidating sometimes okay?"

Riddle just blinked at him. "Complete change of subject but alright."

"I know that's your whole game or whatever but I just…-" He forced himself to take a breath. "Look, it's hard for me to trust trustworthy people okay? But you were always, well, decidedly untrustworthy. Which kinda made you trustworthy again, because I knew I couldn't trust you? So I knew what I was getting into?"

"You are making no sense," Riddle sighed. "Once again."

"You don't have to do this," Harry said, almost beseechingly. "Spend time with me. Give me extra attention. I'm not here to bask in the attention of the almighty lord many others would kill to just talk to. You don't have to charm me. I get that I'm useful. But I'll do my part anyways so…"

Riddle's forehead furrowed. "I'm here because I want to be."

"You could have anyone!" Harry burst out. "They'd want you!"

Don't waste your time on me.

"Would they?"

"Yeah isn't that what people usually want?" Harry asked distracted. "Sleep with hot people?"

"So now I'm hot?" Riddle smirked.

"Oh my god, get out of here!" Harry hissed embarrassed.

Riddle let out a long-suffering sigh. "Do you actually still believe I'm just doing this to manipulate you?"

No. Which made it worse. So much worse.

"How would I know?! You certainly wouldn't tell me."

"How much clearer could I possibly make it?" Riddle asked irritated.

Harry frowned at him. "Your stupid corny remarks don't count, you're just teasing."

"Oh am I?" Riddle remarked drily and stood up. "Has it ever occurred to you that you're the stoic one?"

Harry couldn't help but laugh. "Excuse me? I'm an emotional mess!"

"Yes," Riddle agreed easily. "But you're that all the time, so it's hard to distinguish."

"What does that mean?"

"You get equally, or more, excited about a chemical formula than about having dinner with friends," Riddle pointed out.

Harry folded his arms in front of him defensively. "I'm not a people person."

"No kidding."

"Neither are you!" Harry accused. "You just toy with them, you basically despise them."

"They don't interest me," Riddle said dismissively.

"Then why do I?" Harry exclaimed frustrated.

Riddle paused for a long time, giving the question a lot more thought than Harry had anticipated. He'd expected a quick, scathing quip, or a flippant, teasing remark. It was what they did after all. They teased, hinted, guessed and read between the lines. They didn't openly, seriously talk about…it.

Harry would have never even thought about pushing at Riddle like that, for he had been absolutely sure it would only lead to another convoluted deflection.

From the beginning Riddle had made it perfectly clear how he wanted to be seen. Invincible, callous, untethered. Whenever Harry had challenged his authority, Riddle merely seemed amused. But every time Harry had so much as made a dent in that self-perception, Riddle exploded.

So that long, silent pause shocked him. For Riddle seemed perfectly composed, downright earnest, as he considered the question.

And suddenly Harry was terrified of his answer. He was trying to push him away, knowing it to be best for both of them. But now it seemed he'd pulled him closer than ever.

Eventually, Riddle shrugged. "I don't know."

Harry let out a breath he hadn't known he was holding. "Well jeez. Aren't you supposed to.. I dunno, at least try make something up? Like I'm charming and smart or whatever?" He tried to say it lightly, steering the conversation away to more familiar territory.

"You're a mess."

"I cannot believe I found someone who sucks more at comforting than I do," Harry muttered.

"People bore me because they are so predictable," Riddle continued, still much more serious than Harry expected. "They always want the same things, always react the same way… For all the time I've known you, I haven't been able to fully predict a single thing you do."

"So. Wait. Your compliment to me is… that I'm irrational? An anomaly?"

"Isn't that how it's supposed to be?" Riddle asked unperturbed. "The odd one who sticks out from the crowd in your life. Isn't that who we are drawn to?"

By now Harry was feeling distinctly uncomfortable. "I don't know okay? I don't know any of these things!"

"It's not something you know, intellectually," Riddle said, tapping his head. "It's something you feel."

Harry gaped at him. "Are you talking about feelings?"

"Weren't we doing that this whole time?" Riddle asked, sounding slightly confused.

"No," Harry stressed, hoping he sounded more certain than he felt. "I asked you a completely rational-… There are a lot of people out there." He gestured towards the dorm's exit, indicating Hogwarts.


"And, well, probably a whole lot more out there." He made a wider gesture to the window, as if encompassing the entire world.


"I just-…" Harry broke of, slumping back down on the coach frustrated. "It doesn't have to be me okay? I'm fine with that."

Riddle's eyes narrowed dangerously. "Well I'm decidedly not fine with it not being me."

"That's not what I-… Look you don't know what will happen tomorrow. Or in a week. Or in a year."

"No one does." Riddle responded.

I do. But Harry bit down hard on his lips lest it slipped out.

Riddle kept studying him closely, as if he was trying to figure something out. Finally the familiar smug smirk returned, apparently having arrived at some sort of conclusion.

"I suppose I'll just have you for as long as possible."

Harry flushed so suddenly and so hot, his brain drew an abrupt blank.

"Don't say that," he eventually managed to press out. "It's not fair," he whined.

"Do you remember when I told you that you had trouble with intimacy?" Riddle asked amused. "Well, your pitiful attempt at a conversation just confirmed it."

"Fuck you," Harry hissed, still feeling hot all over and his face burning bright red.

Riddle's smirk only widened. "I never said it bothered me."

He came closer again and Harry had little choice but to lean back until he was trapped with Riddle above him.

"You're making it worse. How do you always make things worse?" Harry scowled. "And why do you look so fucking happy about it?"

Riddle chuckled. "Because it means I'm distracting enough for you to be unable to think straight."

"I hate things that hinder my thinking," Harry shot back.

"Hate is such a passionate feeling," Riddle mused. "Can make your blood rush to unexpected places."

His touch was far from subtle and somehow managed to make Harry tense and melt at the same time.

"I hat-… feel completely indifferent towards you," Harry snapped, though he knew everything about his body currently betrayed his words.

Riddle gave him an unimpressed look, though his hand stilled, barely hovering over Harry's pants.

Harry fought a short, fruitless internal war with himself, which he seemed to have lost long ago.

"Don't stop," he grumbled, hoping that his irritation would at least cover some of the hopeless desperation he felt.

Riddle looked satisfied. "Never even crossed my mind."

"I hate you."




The following days were a test of Harry's skill to evade any and all human beings. It was true he'd been happy spending most of his time alone in his workshop in London, but he'd always thought of it as necessity and not purposeful seclusion. He didn't actually hate people or felt particularly unnerved in their presence but this…this was something else.

Everyone knew him. Everyone wanted to talk to him. Or at least see him. Touch him. Hell- at least three people had tried to smell him.

Despite Hogwarts' vastness, the castle suddenly seemed very small, filled with so many strangers.

It got to a point where Harry exclusively used Hogwarts' hidden doorways, shortcuts and broken stairways and the sound of footsteps was enough to make him feel anxious.

He was particularly annoyed because he had been looking forward to spend as much time as possible with his old friends. But they had important group matters to attend and were usually surrounded by a bunch of people Harry didn't know.

He only ever attended meals if Riddle personally came to drag him down. The lord seemed convinced that Harry just needed to get used to it and that it would get easier.

From Harry's point of view it got worse every time he stepped into the great hall.

"A wonderful good morning, lodling!" Bellatrix chirped as she pulled his blanket away.

"No I am not hungry," Harry grumbled before even being fully awake. "And no I won't be hungry for lunch or dinner either."

Bellatrix opened her mouth but Harry continued. "And no, I do not care what his orders are, and no I don't give a single flying fuck about-"

Bellatrix whacked him on the head with his pillow. "We're leaving, lordling. Gather your things."

Harry was immediately fully awake.

"Unless you'd like to miss that too?"

"And leave all the fun to you? I could never," Harry said sarcastically. In truth, he was dreading the confrontation. He hated every plan that risked more than his own life.

"That's the spirit!" Bella cackled. "Need any help carrying?"

From anyone else it would have been a kind offer. But Harry knew that none of his inventions he'd handed over to Bella ever made it back in one piece.

"Don't even think about touching my things," Harry warned.

"Pff, boring." She turned around and made to leave. "You have half an hour. After that I'm permitted to drag you out by any means necessary."

"Not even dead or alive?" Harry asked. "You're growing soft."

Bella grinned. "I'm not the one making the orders."

Harry rolled his eyes. "I'll be down in a few minutes."

She looked disappointed.


The assembled crowd looked, strangely enough, even larger outdoors than inside. It probably had something to do with all the baggage, tools and random methods of transportation that clustered around them.

Harry knew the journey wasn't too long, but he'd made it in the train. Voldemort's group alone was enough to completely fill it out and as far as he could tell, Voldemort was still the only one to have gotten a hand on one. The rest mostly had horses, some worn-out carriages, but many were there with nothing more than their feet.

They would be slow and many of the rebels were anxious to miss their chance to fight the guild. But Harry knew Slytherin wasn't actually interested in Gryffindor, or the guild for that matter, and was using the whole siege merely as bait for him. He wouldn't leave without getting what he wanted. Whether the guild or the rebels won and how many died was of no concern for him anyways, as long as he got the secret to immortality.

Snape was nowhere in sight. Thankfully, Riddle hadn't addressed the issue again and Snape would be able to stay behind with no further consequences.

Trust me.

Harry sighed. When he returned - if he returned - Snape might be waiting either with a cure or the remnants of his last hope. No pressure.

"Had a…ahem…stimulating night?" Rosier asked as he approached him, not even trying to make it sound innocent.

When Harry didn't deign to reply, Rosier followed his gaze up to Hogwarts' impressive towers. With the sun glistering in its many windows, it made for a truly majestic view. But it didn't feel intimidating to Harry. It felt like home.

"Man," Rosier mused, "I do wish we'll see that again."

Harry realized that Hogwarts was home to many, strange and odd people.

"How long have you been here?" he asked, suddenly curious.

"Why lordling!" Rosier cried delighted. "I didn't know you cared!"

Harry was already half regretting his question, when Rosier sobered up.

"I've been with Voldemort for as long as he was a lord," he said proudly. "One of the very first. I mean, there was Bella and her husband and Snape obviously, a couple of others… But I'm definitely one of the oldies!"

"What happened to the husband anyways?"

"Rumour has it he spoke badly about lord Voldemort in private and she killed him."

Harry gaped at him horrified. "Are you serious?"

Rosier shrugged. "She never confessed to it – not that anyone outright asked mind you – but she never denied it either."

"Thanks, I'd almost forgotten I'm surrounded by madmen," Harry said drily.

"Honestly I think she never liked the bloke in the first place."

"That's still quite a step from murder."

"The new world brought certain…liberties with it," Rosier grinned.

"That's what I don't understand." He gestured around them to the crowd. "Sure these people chose a new world order and are loyal to their groups. Sometimes they fight, sometimes some die. But they fight over resources, food, space… They only fight to survive." He paused. "So why join the guild? Why all this hate towards humanity? Why the need to destroy everything with nothing but blind faith that it would turn out better if they ruled?"

"Of course you wouldn't understand, you're a lost-generation! You didn't live back then."

Harry pressed his lips together, unsatisfied. Too many times in his life people dismissed his opinion completely because of his age.

Rosier threw him an odd look. "Did you hear that everything was better before? Cars and medicine and bustling cities? Comfortable beds? Running water?"

Harry nodded cautiously.

"Most veterans would tell you that. Most people grieve for the lives they lost. But not all of us, y'know. For some of us…for some of us it was bad back then and it is better now. We didn't fit into society. We do now. An entirely different set of skills is useful now."

"Killing people?" Harry asked sceptically.

"Surviving," Rosier corrected. "Some of us have been fighting to survive way before the chaos started, so we've gotten good at it."

"Okay…" Harry said slowly. "I guess I can understand that, but… It just means everyone has to fight to survive now. It's not like it actually got better for those that had it bad before. It just got worse for those that had it good."

Rosier laughed. "You really don't understand humans, do you? Many complain how they have nothing now. But do you know what's worse than having nothing? Having nothing when everyone else has everything. There's your hate."

"So it's…vindictiveness?"

"Nah," Rosier shook his head. "It's a bunch of assholes exploiting poor idiots who never learned how to think for themselves."

"That seems very simple, considering the mess our world is in."

Rosier shrugged. "It usually is."

Harry stood there, considering, while watching the busy crowd pack up their last bits and pieces. He wondered if each of their lives had been very different, or if they all came from roughly the same background. How many had known each other before the chaos? How many remembered travelling around the world and found crossing a single country challenging now?

"Still…" he said, eventually. "So many people died. So few were born. Was it worth it? My generation has no idea what the fuck is going on most of the times-"

"Are you sure that's not just you?" Rosier interrupted grinning.

Harry scowled at him.

Rosier shrugged. "I'm just saying your girlfriend seems to have it all figured out."

Harry followed his gaze and his eyes landed on Luna, her fair hair almost shining amongst all the dirt. "She's special."

"You misspelled 'scary'," Rosier said helpfully.

"Why are we fighting?" Harry whispered to himself.

"The usual," Rosier answered, apparently having mistook his musings for an actual question. "Greed, survival, different believes…" he trailed of, cocking his head in concentration. "You know… So many wars were justified with religion. I was honestly surprised at how little it mattered in this new world. But now – immortality? That's the core of all religions right there."

He smirked down at Harry. "Looking at it like that, your existence explains a lot."

"For other people apparently," Harry replied darkly. "Just not for me."

The first wisps of black smoke rose from the train. People hurriedly finished packing and checking their things.

Rosier's grin widened. "Time to go, lordling."

"And why on earth," Harry sighed, "does everyone seem so excited about all of this?"

"Because those are the people that survived! The lame ones died out during the chaos."

Rosier's own step seemed bouncy too, as he skipped ahead of Harry and soon was lost in the crowd.

"You misspelled 'sane'!" Harry shouted after him.

There were no fancy speeches from any of the lords, there didn't even seem to be a clear signal – but suddenly everyone and everything started to move. Far from coherent, in different groups and tempos, and probably with different personal goals, fears and hopes, but in the same direction nonetheless.

"Lordling!" Bellatrix cried, her head sticking out form one of the train's windows, black smoke thickening now as the engine was ready. "Our lord commands-"

"Yes, yes," Harry interrupted. "I can imagine."

He tried to quickly make his way through the now marching crowd, but was slowed down considerably as everyone tried to talk to him. Every face lit up when they recognized him and Harry felt bile rise again.

He had planned to spend as much time as possible with Remus' group on the journey, Riddle's commands be damned, but he realized now that would mean marching and riding with the crowd.

With all the hopeful faces. Smiling and talking to him.

He was going to be sick.

"Excuse me!" Harry interrupted whoever was babbling at him excitedly and dashed away.

Instead of going further inside the crowd where he'd last seen Sirius, he made a sharp turn towards the train. It was going at a small fraction of its capable speed, barely faster than normal walking speed. A lot of people trailed behind it, as it was comfortable walking on the relatively even ground of the tracks.

Harry hauled himself up the first set of stairs he found and slammed the door behind him.

"Well consider me surprised," Riddle drawled. "I'd have thought you would ignore-"

Harry grabbed the next best thing that was vaguely shaped like a bucket and retched.

"…Actually, consider me surprised and disgusted," Riddle added after a beat, standing up from his chair and warily coming closer. "I'm beginning to think train-rides don't agree with your stomach."

Harry stayed silent until the heaving stopped, then he spat for good measure.

"That's my suitcase you know."

Harry glanced down at the thing he was holding and noticed relieved that it had been empty. He didn't want to find out what Riddle would have done if he'd puked all over his personal things.

Harry snapped it shut with the mess inside and picked himself up from the floor. "I'll clean it," he promised and turned to leave through the connecting door.

"Of course you will," Riddle agreed with a strained pleasantness.

Harry grabbed the door's handle and almost made himself believe he would be able to walk out of there.

The lord slammed a hand on the door.

"After explaining," Riddle continued.

Harry took a deep breath and reluctantly let go of the handle.

"I felt sick. I puked. Do you want me to explain the biological mechanisms behind it?"

"I'd be more interested in the cause," Riddle countered, still with that fake pleasantness.

Harry looked at him blankly. "I suspect the flu."

"Child…" Riddle hissed.

"Look, I have a suitcase full of vomit in my hands, do you really want to pick a fight with me right now?" Harry asked irritated.

Riddle snatched the suitcase from him, kicked the door leading outside open and threw the thing out without even looking.

"I said I'd clean it," Harry muttered.

"Explain," Riddle demanded.

Harry passed a shaking hand through his hair, which would have messed it up if it wasn't pointing in all directions already.

"I don't know how you do it."

"Do what?"

"This. All of this. Everyone here is…is bloody excited. As if we're marching towards rainbow and sunshine."

Riddle blinked. "You're nervous."

"Of course I'm fucking nervous! I don't know if any of these people will come back alive and when they die they'll probably still have that stupid smile on their face! I can't stand it! If one more person comes up to me and tells me how honoured they are to be here to help me, I'll-... I'll-…"

"Throw up?"

Harry glared at him. "Next time I'll puke on your stupid carpet."

Of course Riddle couldn't understand. The lord barely spared a thought for his own followers, let alone complete strangers.

Riddle ignored him. "I think I see the problem."

He went to look outside the window and Harry briefly considered escaping again. He opted against it – Riddle would be unbearable afterwards.

"You still don't grasp just how important you and this cause is to these people," Riddle continued. "Yes they are happy, even if it means they might die. And I think I can even understand why that would make someone like you uncomfortable."

Harry rolled his eyes. Someone like you. Surely any sane person would have enough empathy to be bothered by that.

"But don't you see? You've given them purpose. They didn't have that for a very long time. Something to fight for that's bigger than their own survival."

They were fighting for a dying man, Harry thought bitterly. Even if they somehow won and completely destroyed the guild, the idea of Harry uniting them and return to civilisation would never be reality. They would die for a lie.

He forced himself to take another deep breath. Not if Riddle could lead them. They might have come here because of Harry, but Riddle would have very little trouble taking over. He still didn't know if any regime with Riddle on top could be an improvement, but the world didn't have a lot to lose. If anyone could do it, it would be him.

Except, he's fighting for a lie too.

You have to tell him, Potter. Snape's insistent advice echoed in his mind.

He glanced at the lord, who was surveying the crowd outside pensively.


"I should do something," Harry mumbled. "Build something, prepare-…I don't know. Anything except this useless waiting around."

"You want to give them the best chance?" Riddle asked. "Help them? Keep up their spirits?"

Harry blinked, taken aback by the sudden seriousness in his voice. "Yes."

"Even if you have to suffer for it?"

They both knew the answer to that.

"Of course."

"Next time they smile at you," Riddle said, looking at him intently. "You smile back."



A/N: I missed those idiots.

And I missed you too! (Heck yeah I'm so smooth *puts on sunglasses* )

Happy {insert every single holiday over the past year here} and have a wonderful new year!