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Times of Peace

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Harry James Evans Potter-Black woke up slowly, blinking away the fog that had taken residence in his mind. Coughing as he rolled to his side trying to get his bearings, Harry reviewed his memories of the last few hours.

The last thing he remembered was sitting uncomfortably in his house on Grimmauld place nursing a firewhiskey while trying once again to figure out when everything went to shit. As was his tradition on Halloween.

See, Harry was a war Veteran. At the tender age of 22, Harry had already lead armies in two of the most vicious wars to ever ravage wizard kind. For the longest time it had been Light vs Dark, muggleborn vs pureblood. One side claimed they were fighting for the good of all wizards.

The other side said the same.

It seemed as though both sides had long since forgotten what they were fighting for and were just stubbornly going through the motions.

At least Voldemort had a goal,’ Harry would think. But Voldemort was long dead by his hand. And for that crime the universe would not let Harry know rest. Even during the tentative times of peace, the people looked to Harry for guidance.

Harry snorted at the irony and cradled his sore ribs. The Boy-Who-Lived had been raised for war, a soldier from the day Voldemort had adorned his forehead with the infamous lightning bolt. Perhaps even before then. Yet, again and again, the masses begged him for guidance. What did he know about peace?

Harry stopped and really took a look around. The surroundings were familiar. Thinking maybe he had apparated in his drunken stupor he shakily climbed to his feet and wandered back towards civilization.

Civilization, as it turns out, was Hogsmeade, though it was oddly quiet and completely deserted. Shrugging off any discomfort Harry stumbled into the Hog's Head Inn looking half crazed, but totally apathetic to his surroundings. He blundered towards the bar planning to renew his Halloween ‘spirit’ with a few more rounds.

He froze. Standing before him was unmistakably Aberforth Dumbledore, but he was maybe 50 years younger than he was mere weeks ago. Or maybe it was months? Harry wasn’t very good at keeping track of time these days. He spent almost all his time inside the Black family home on Grimmauld Place wallowing, and was only even vaguely aware of the date. Regardless, even with his alcohol flooded brain, Harry knew this wasn’t natural.

While Harry was standing there gawking Aberforth looked up from the glass he was cleaning and sighed. ‘Great, another crazy, hope this one tips well,’ he thought. ‘Maybe if I can distract him he’ll leave me alone and go away after a few drinks.

“You interested in a Prophet sir?” Aberforth asked hopefully, silently praying the weirdo would take the paper and keep to himself.

“Oh? Uh, yes, please. Thanks.” Harry grabbed the copy of the Daily Prophet and his eyes immediately went to the date July 31, 1943. ‘Huh, Happy Birthday Harry.

“What the hell!”

Chapter Text

Overcoming his initial confusion and eventually sobering up, Harry spent a couple hours studying the newspaper and deciding his next course of action.

Upon further study Harry noticed that Grindelwald was still alive and well, explaining the deserted appearance of the once lively town of Hogsmeade. ‘That’s right, Dumbledore duels him in ’45.

Either way this was a tremendous opportunity for Harry Potter, The-Boy-Who-Failed-To-Die-But-Not-For-Lack-Of-Trying. A new start, he thought. Grinning to himself, Harry failed to realize the downright sinister vibes he was emitting, as he thoroughly convinced Aberforth that running a bar was the worst idea he ever had.

Briefly, he wrestled with the thought that he was abandoning everyone he ever knew, but he quickly swept that thought aside. ‘I’ve given them everything including my life. I don’t owe anyone anything,’ he thought fiercely.

Shaking his head to banish the bitter thoughts Harry stood abruptly and turned towards Aberforth who flinched at the sudden attention.

“I need a room for a few weeks,” Harry said, silently grateful he kept a few thousand galleons and his most valuable belongings in an expandable, undetectable pouch, on his person at all times.

Aberforth looked like he would rather eat glass than give this creepy stranger a room. Unfortunately, money was money and business wasn’t exactly booming thanks to Grindelwald and his raids.

Grudgingly, Aberforth handed Harry a room key and gave him directions to his new temporary residence. Harry on the other hand was ecstatically trying to decide what to do first with his newfound freedom.

As he lay down on his new temporary bed and absentmindedly warded room with every privacy ward he knew (half out of necessity and half out of habit) he thought about his plans for the future.

“I wonder if I could start a café,” he though aloud. “I’ve always loved cooking. Maybe after I save up enough I’ll go traveling and see what’s beyond Britain.”

Excited for the first time in years, Harry yawned and prepared himself for another fitful sleep.

-break-

Days later another tired soul entered the Hog's Head Inn. Unlike Harry and his world weary resignation, Professor Merrythought was old. She had taught Defense against the Dark Arts for the last 50 years and she was tired. As much as she loved her job it was hard to ignore the ache in her bones and the stiffness in her limbs.

She was ready to retire years ago, but Headmaster Dippet had begged her to stay until he could find a 'proper replacement'. As coveted as the Hogwarts DADA position was, not just anyone could teach it and with Grindelwald leading armies across the continent, Dippet thought it was their responsibility as educators to prepare the next generation.

And while she agreed, Galatea Merrythought didn’t think she could handle another year of children. She sneered inwardly at the thought of another batch of sheltered, incompetent, first years and took a sip of her drink relishing the burn as it slithered down her throat.

The foolish eleven year olds never seemed to be able to see even the most obvious dangers around them. Even with Grindelwald practically knocking at the border a lot of pureblood families continued to suffer under the delusion that they’ll be safe holed up inside their ancestral homes or some such. The tragedy was that this naïve belief was passed onto their children and carried on until they graduated. Galatea did not have the patience to try and open their eyes.

Galatea sighed as the nursed her drink. There was a war coming. She could feel it. God help them if this newest batch of graduates comes across a Reaper. It was the same problem that many of the applicants for the job had. None of them had ever seen a war before and a lot of them barely knew how to fight. Galatea may be old, but never let it be said that she didn’t know the value of practicality. She and Dippet agreed that it would do nothing but harm to hire a professor that only knew enough to teach theory.

No, what she needed was someone well versed in the Art of War, or at least battle. Unfortunately, the few surviving veterans were either tied up in the ministry or stark raving mad. As interesting as it would be to have someone like that teach her class, she knew the Board wouldn’t have it. Galatea chuckled bitterly at the image that conjured, taking another swig of her now refilled drink.

As fate would have it, Harry James Evans Potter-Black, now Harrison Evans, was doing much the same thing a few seats away in a much brighter mood. He’d spoken to the goblins at Gringotts and they were very willing to help finance his future café; for a price, of course. Harry wondered when it was that he had become more comfortable around creatures than humans. He figured it was because of their now obvious similarities. Both had been manipulated during the war. Their reputations directly corresponding to their usefulness at the time, and when all was said and done, and the threat had finally been eliminated, both were tossed aside in favor of the status quo.

Harry grimaced at the old memories and mentally slapped himself. ‘You promised to leave that life behind, so leave it behind Harry.’ He admonished himself a few more times before finally giving in to the sudden craving for a drink and made his way to the bar. Yes, there was no need to dwell on the past because things were finally looking up for Harry.

And that was when everything went to shit.

The sudden shaking of the building rattled the bottles and glasses all neatly arranged on the shelf. While Aberforth went to limit the damage, Harry immediately readied himself for an attack. Fighting in two wars left Harry slightly paranoid, but had gifted him with something most people don’t gain their entire lives. Experience.

As his magic whipped around him, happy to be released and searching out the enemy, Harry had unknowingly caught the attention of one Professor Merrythought.

Harry tensed in anticipation as the three men finally broke through the wards surrounding the Hog's Head Inn and casually stalked into the building with all the quiet confidence of highly trained soldiers.

And that was when he struck. Harry dashed forward; his small lithe body propelled by his own magic, and met his first opponent’s neck with his elbow. Shaken by the sudden attack the other two hesitated. Not giving his enemies a chance to recover, Harry immediately began casting stunners.

Guy A, holding his damaged trachea, went down, while Guy B managed to erect a shield in time to deflect the blows. Not willing to play fair when the odds were still 2 against 1, Harry conjured smoke and disillusioned himself, preparing to dispatch the two remaining opponents. A couple more stunning spells later, the air cleared and Guys A, B, and C all lay on the floor out cold. With another lazy flick of his trusted holly and Phoenix feather wand they were bound and gagged as well. The whole encounter took about a minute.

Harry casually turned towards Aberforth, eliciting another flinch, eyes still glowing with power and magic gleefully swimming around him. Unbeknownst to Harry, he had been smiling the whole time.

“Quickly, call the Aurors,” said Harry, not looking all that concerned. “I doubt these three came alone and sooner or later someone’s going to come looking for them.” Picking up his fallen jaw and gathering his wits, Aberforth scurried towards the fireplace to call the Ministry.

Meanwhile, Professor Merrythought was having a similar reaction to Harry’s impromptu performance, except she was seeing it for what it really was, an opportunity. “What’s your name boy?” She called out.

Surprised and suddenly seeing the old woman for the first time he did the only thing he could do. He answered. “Harrison Evans, ma’am.”

Evans’ she thought. The gears were turning inside the wily old woman’s head. ‘Not a Pureblood then. The boy looked like he was born fighting though.’ The aged Professor considered what she had just seen and decided she needed more information.

“Where are you from? Who taught you to fight like that?”

Not really appreciating the sudden interrogation, Harry quickly came up with a backstory for himself. “I just arrived here recently. I left home to get away from all the fighting, but I guess it followed me here.” He grinned sheepishly, a little depressed at how true that was. “As for who taught me, I mostly taught myself out of necessity. I didn’t have the best Defense Professors.” There, not a lie and hopefully enough to stop any more questions.

Galatea narrowed her eyes at the boy. She knew he wasn’t telling the whole story, but also knew that she had no right to his secrets. ‘Self-taught, that explains it.’ The boy didn’t fight like an Auror, he was too vicious. ‘Not bloodthirsty’ she thought, ‘but definitely merciless.’ One thing was certain, though, the boy had the experience she was looking for. Brushing off her suspicion, Galatea plastered on the biggest smile she could manage.

“Well Harrison, you just saved my life. I doubt those Reapers would have let me leave here alive once they found out I work at Hogwarts. I’ll have to find a way to repay you.”

“What? No, I didn’t save anyone, I didn’t even know you were there.” Harry inwardly cursed himself for getting involved, especially with a Hogwarts professor. “There’s no time for this, we should focus on getting the wards back up before someone else decides to investigate these three disappearing.” Harry tried to reason with the strangely intimidating woman, but somehow he knew nothing he said would sway her. Which meant his only choice was to vanish before the Aurors arrived and left.

Eventually the Aurors did arrive, but unfortunately they weren’t nearly as well trained as Harry remembered and ended up being pushed back by the dozen Reapers that were still conscious.

Harry sighed at the predicament. The wards were back up and the Reapers were too busy with the Aurors to try breaking in again. He knew eventually reinforcements would arrive and the Reapers would be forced to retreat. ‘But the whole unit of Aurors could be dead by then.’ Harry scowled at his own traitorous thoughts. Damned hero complex, he just wanted to be left alone.

It was in this astoundingly bad mood that Harry joined the fight and single-handedly began to push back the Reapers with his own brutal attack. The enemy had been surprised by the sudden appearance of this strange newcomer, but even more so when he started transfiguring their shoes into bear traps and conjuring fire around them.

The Aurors watched, daunted as this strange man fatally injured the Reapers with what should have been harmless charms and jinxes. None of them had seen anyone use their magic like that before, and everyone felt the force of this man’s magic bearing down on them.

The Reapers retreated with much heavier injuries than they expected just as the reinforcements arrived. Harry’s scowl deepened as thankful Aurors approached him with no shortage of awe on their faces.

This was not what he wanted. He didn’t want to be a hero again. The angry green-eyed man shook off their praise and questions, retreating from the sudden influx of Aurors, only to find himself once again at the mercy of one Galatea Merrythought.

“Well that settles it. You’re coming with me, so I can thank you properly."

-break-

Harry resisted strongly as he was half dragged through the nostalgic halls of Hogwarts Castle. Somewhere, in his panic, he remembered bitterly that the castle was nothing but ruins in the future. The only place he had ever called home was reduced to pile of rubble; it was one of his greatest regrets.

Professor Merrythought jolted him out of his memories and Harry once again began to panic. Dumbledore was here. Even worse, Tom Riddle would be here in a few weeks. This was the last place Harry wanted to be. This was his new life! Curse this infernal woman for being so damn insistent!

Harry continued to struggle even as Galatea began to speak. “Welcome to Hogwarts. It’s a lovely school yes, but you strike me as a prudent sort of man so I’ll get to the interesting bits. The castle has approximately 184 staircases, 315 classrooms, 56 entrances, and half a dozen towers. I say approximately because really no one knows for sure. They’ve never been able to count properly on account of the castle shifting and moving about and—“

“I don’t care!” Harry yelled, trying to pry his arm from the old woman’s steel grip. “I mean—really I appreciate the thought, but I really don’t want anything—“

“Nonsense! Please, indulge an old woman in her gratitude. I owe you a life-debt boy, that’s not something I take lightly.” She admonished Harry as finally they arrived in her office, towing the unwilling man behind her. “Now the least you could do is sit still and let me thank my savior—“

“I’m not anybody’s savior!” Harry had screamed the words before he knew what he was doing. Galatea paused, staring at him openly shocked. Now he flushed and sheepishly looked at his feet as he tried to come up with a way to get out of this mess.

“I’m sorry, it’s just—I don’t want people to think I’m some sort of hero. I’ve had bad experiences with it.” Harry bit his lip and tried to stop the influx of emotions he felt. He always was pants at Occlumency. “I just don’t want anyone to get the wrong impression of me. I’m not a savior.” That last part was half whispered. Harry himself was unsure if he had meant for the woman to hear it.

Galatea watched Harry without speaking for a moment longer before she sighed herself and gave the boy a knowing look.

“Don’t worry boy. No one wants to deal with the burden of another’s life, that’s what makes leading so hard. Less would even be worthy of such a burden, but something tells me you know all about that” she said shrewdly.

Harry felt a dam inside of him breaking, but he held it back with sheer stubbornness. This was his new life, his second chance. He still didn’t know how it happened, but he’d be damned if he wasted it on guilt!

Galatea watched the boy war internally with himself. She wondered what had happened that forced this child into the role of a leader. From what she could tell the kid hadn’t left his twenties and yet he was already familiar with war. She wanted to give the boy some peace and whether or not he knew it Hogwarts was the best place for that. Either way she wasn’t about to leave Harrison to drift about aimlessly like he was before she had arrived. This way they both got something.

“Well, as you’ve noticed by now I’m the Defense Professor here at Hogwarts. You said you’d never been formally taught before, but I can tell you know enough to fight.” Harry already didn’t like where this discussion was heading. His eyes searched the room desperately for some other exit.

“You can tell just by looking that I’m old, I’m tired, and I’ve been looking for a replacement” she finished. Harry’s eyes widened, still surprised by what he already knew was coming. ‘Why dammnit?! why can’t I be left alone?!

“No,” he cried. “No, thank you for the offer, but I’m really not cut out for teaching—“

“Let me do you a favor and tell you what a terrible liar you are. Now calm down and hear me out for a moment.” Harry actually found himself stilling at the authority in the woman’s voice. His eyes narrowed as anger started to replace that indignation from before. The only thing holding his magic back was the fact that this woman had shown him nothing but kindness.

“I’m not asking you take my place” she continued. “The Board of Governors would never let a mysterious newcomer teach the class and the Ministry requires that you at least take the NEWT level exam. Though,” she eyed him critically for a moment “I have a feeling you’d pass with flying colors.

“No, I’m asking you to become my assistant. No matter how much Dippet wants me to keep teaching, I can’t. I just can’t handle it anymore.” Galatea sighed, sounding a lot bitterer than before. He supposed that she could probably relate somewhat to what he felt. “If you sign on as my assistant I’ll have you teaching the NEWT level classes, sixth and seventh years.

“Mind you, I’m not just asking you to make my life easier. I’m asking because the war is coming here. I can feel it.” She pursed her lips and seemed as though by telling Harry she was relieving herself of a great burden.

“These kids aren’t half as prepared as they need to be. You saw those Reapers, Grindelwald’s forces will tear them apart.” Harry nodded in solemn agreement. The times changed, but the people stayed the same. He’d read the papers and seen how the Ministry was once again trying to reassure people that the war would never reach Britain. ‘They don’t stop lying until they can’t anymore and by then it’s too late.

“Why me,” Harry questioned. He raised his impossibly green eyes to look into the woman’s own. “You don’t know anything about me. How could you possibly entrust these children to me.”

He waited patiently for her answer. He knew that it would determine whether or not he stayed. As much as he wanted another chance at a normal life, Harry could never resist a call to arms. War was in his blood and as much as he wanted to deny it, he knew what he looked like when he fought. Everyone in his old time had told him.

Scary. Bloodthirsty. It was like you couldn’t even see us. You like fighting too much. It’s terrifying to watch. Monster.

Harry clenched his hands enough to draw blood and focused on the red liquid as it squeezed out of his skin and slid down his knuckles.

“You looked lost,” Galatea finally admitted. “I’ve got pretty good instincts, I always have.” She pursed her lips and finally came to a decision.

“You’re not a cold blooded killer. You could have killed those Reapers from before and no one would have begrudged you. You fight to survive, but just because it’s all you’ve ever known doesn’t mean it’s all you’re capable of.”

Harry’s eye’s welled up with held back tears. He wasn’t going to cry, but this woman who knew nothing about him had somehow known exactly what to say. Better than Hermione or Ron or even Ginny. He felt some of the numbness that had been present for so long leave him and found himself desperately wanting to believe this person. He didn’t want to make the mistake of trusting someone again. He trusted Dumbledore and look where it got him.

Maybe I can. One more time Harry. Let someone try and help you just one more time.

Harry nodded his head, not entirely sure what he was agreeing to but somehow glad he was doing it.

Galatea smiled fondly and promised herself she’d do what she can to give the boy a chance to heal.

Two weeks till classes start.

Chapter Text

“Hello, my name is Harrison Evans and I’ve been roped into teaching you lot Defense this year. I’m not a Professor, I’m an assistant, so you can call me Harrison or Evans. I don’t really care. I’ll be teaching the NEWT level classes and although I’m merely an assistant I can take points and will be mostly responsible for your grades. Before we get started I’ll answer any questions you have.” A few of the Slytherins had sneered upon hearing his name and already dismissed him as a Mudblood.

Tom Riddle sat in the first Defense class of the year. It was NEWT level now and predictably somewhat fuller, thanks to the war. ‘Well this is certainly unexpected’ Tom thought. ‘I wonder if he’s any good.

Tom had been considering applying for the DADA position after he graduated. The presence of this newcomer as the new assistant Professor was unexpected, but not unworkable. What was strange was that he looked almost the same age as the students he was teaching, but somehow infinitely more experienced.

Tom was more observant than most and as a natural predator himself, he could see the way the man walked. His gait was steady and smooth, and his feet made almost no sound when they hit the floor. His eyes were so green they almost glowed with power, sharp and aware. Despite how he casually leaned against his desk his wand remained inside a holster in his sleeve, ready to be used at any second. There was also the fact that he had said “roped in.” Did he not want to teach the class? Tom decided to ask.

Professor Evans stared at Tom’s raised hand, incredulous for just half a moment, before concealing the emotion and gesturing for Tom to speak. ‘Interesting.’ He was definitely going to have to play a little with this one. He was too amusing to pass up.

“I was wondering what you meant by ‘roped in.’ Do you not want to teach this class?” Tom watched as the assistant professor’s mouth tightened before he answered.

“Professor Merrythought and I met over the summer. Due to some unusual circumstances I managed to catch her attention and she used some ruthless negotiation tactics to ensure that I’d be teaching here. When I said that, I was mostly referring to the unexpectedness of my presence here.”

Tom nodded, but he wasn’t at all satisfied. Now he was curious about the things the man had left out of the story. What had he done exactly that managed to attract Merrythought’s attention and convince her to all but force him into the position? And what were these “unusual circumstances?” He noticed that a few of the other Slytherins had picked up on this as well. This year might not be so boring after all.

“Well if there are no more questions, let’s get started.” Evans flicked his wand and all the desks moved to the side of the room. “If you would all stand and move your chairs, this class will be focusing on practical dueling and battle magic.” He moved towards the now visible dueling areas.

“I’m sure all of you are aware of basic dueling etiquette, but as NEWT level students and future graduates it’s my job to teach you how to properly defend yourselves. During these times especially, we don’t need any fancy rubbish.” Translation: there’s a war coming and sheltered purebloods will be the first to die. Tom narrowed his eyes at the man’s insinuation. It was rather bold, especially as the pureblood students were likely the only ones with formal dueling experience. Abraxas outright scoffed and Tom watched as the man zeroed in on him, smiling at some private joke.

“Malfoy, would you like to join me in a demonstration.” Evans smiled all too pleasantly and gestured for him to enter the stage. Tom watched the proceedings critically. Abraxas was one of the better duelers in his circle, so the outcome of this match would show the capabilities of this newcomer. At the same time, if Evans lost this match he would lose the respect of the entire class. It was a gamble on his part.

“Well Malfoy, you are aware of how this works.” They each took their places and turned around in the customary dueling stance. Then the match began.

Stupefy Stupefy” Abraxas began his volley with a few stunners. Evans side stepped them both and had the gall to put away his wand. Abraxas grit his teeth at the direct insult and began casting with much more careless intensity.

Stupefy Incendio Reducto” Abraxas roared in frustration as Evans casually dodged all of his spells without retaliating. Tom could tell now that he was slowly moving towards his opponent, still ducking and rolling over the shorter distance.

Reducto Confrigo Serpensortia” Abraxas was starting to use darker spells in his desperation. Tom prepared to step in and end the fight, but paused when he noticed Evans’ expression.

The maniac was grinning broadly as he dodged the latest volley of spells. Tom almost gaped as he charged towards the snake leaping over it entirely and grabbed Malfoy by his wand arm and flipped him over his shoulder and onto the floor. Malfoy stared at the ceiling in shock as Evans gently slid his wand out of his grip, banished the snake, and turned towards the class.

“That, was an example of practical dueling. Thank you Mr. Malfoy.” The professor handed the wand back to the still stunned Abraxas and continued his speech.

“So many of you rely so much on your magic, while that may work in other circumstances, when you’re outnumbered and overwhelmed defending using magic will just guarantee you’ll get magic exhaustion.“ He made a pointed glance at Malfoy, who was indeed panting from exhaustion. Evans, on the other hand, wasn’t even sweating. Tom realized that the man was once again making a jab towards purebloods.

“If you actually move you’ll be a much harder target and if you’re good enough you can even disarm your opponent without magic. That’s why this year we’ll be focusing on using your environment when fighting.” Suddenly Evans gaze sharpened and swept over the students, who were hanging on his every word.

“I won’t be teaching you many new spells. Instead, we’ll be augmenting the spells you’ve already learned in your Charms and Transfiguration classes into your dueling repertoire. My dueling is about creativity, and if anyone else is uncertain of my qualifications, then by all means take the stage.”

The man has charisma.’ Tom found himself in a similar position as the rest of the class. He was floored by the demonstration and even with the pointed remarks towards purebloods, the Slytherins certainly knew how to recognize power.

Aside from the fact that this man had just defied everything he knew about dueling, he was also startled by the man’s sudden change in demeanor. The way he spoke made it seem as though he had actually lead armies.

That’s impossible. I would have heard of him.’ Tom resolved to learn everything he could about Harrison Evans. He was too powerful to remain unaffiliated. Unlike everyone else, Tom knew that the last burst of speed was aided by magic. For that brief moment Tom could feel an almost endless well of magic snapping and dancing about Evans’ body. It almost seemed to call to him. Now though, it was tightly restrained.

For the first time in Tom’s life, he was stunned, but it quickly resolved itself into fascination, and by the time he left the class it had settled into something akin to obsession. Tom smirked as he hungrily thought of all the ways Evans would fit into his plans, because Tom would have him. Any other outcome would be unacceptable and after that show of skill Tom had no intentions of letting him get away.

Whether or not he wanted to be here he was here now, and Tom would never let him leave.

 

-break-

 

The Slytherins sat inside their common room. It was a safe haven of sorts. A place to take off some of the masks they wore every day. Not all of them of course. There were still enemies to be made even amongst friends.

Tom delighted in the in-House politics. As tedious as it could be, he always enjoyed in those rare occasions to crush any upstarts that had decided they were above him. It would often be some foolishly entitled pureblood that would think they were too good to serve a half-blood.

Tom took extra care to dissuade them of that notion.

Now though, he sat comfortably in front of the fireplace, surrounded by his followers as they had long since claimed the spot as their own.

“What did you think of the new Professor?” Avery was the first to speak up about the event that had been Defense class. It was definitely interesting though. Tom decided to fish for opinions and information.

“Assistant,” Prince corrected without looking up from his book. “He’s not a Professor.”

“He sure beat Abraxas well enough. No shame in a little extra practice, the summer holidays were long for all of us.” Orion said snidely.

“For some perhaps, but the rest of us know enough to stay in shape. Is there something you aren’t telling us Black?” Abraxas shot back irritatedly. The duel had been a harsh blow, especially to one as prideful as Malfoy. Tom suspected that Evans knew that when he picked him.

“There’s no need to fight, but seriously has anyone heard of this Harrison Evan person before?” Nott asked.

“I’ve already contacted my father requesting more information, but as far as I know, he’s an unknown.” Lestrange frowned at the idea that he didn’t know someone.

Tom opened his mouth and immediately his fellow Slytherins went silent to allow him to speak. “Despite his age the man has experience. You probably couldn’t tell, but he was using wandless magic to augment his body during his duel with Abraxas.” Malfoy scowled in annoyance, while the others gained varying expressions of disbelief and thoughtfulness.

“He is powerful as well. If he truly was unknown until now it was not due to a lack of ability. I suspect it was intentional on his part.” He paused for a moment, considering his next course of action. “He cannot be allowed to remain neutral. Nott, find out where he stands, and be courteous, we don’t want to alienate him. Lestrange, continue looking for information on his sudden employment.”

Orion snorted derisively, “I think it’s already obvious where he stands. The mudblood has no respect for tradition,” he muttered the last part, probably remembering the duel that disproved most of the pureblood dueling etiquette.

Tom smirked knowingly at his followers expressions. He may have insulted them in the process, but Harrison Evans had the Slytherins sufficiently cowed. Tom was pretty sure he had done the former on purpose as well. Somehow, he had experience with purebloods and was unimpressed, much like Tom himself.

He liked the idea that he had something in common with the man, but he was still eager to learn more about him. It was unusual, Tom had never taken such an interest in anyone before, but something about Evans intrigued him. Whether it was the overwhelming magnitude of his magic, or his secret filled eyes, the exact shade of the killing curse, Tom intended to find out.

 

-break-

 

Headmaster Dippet had been difficult, but Galatea had been nothing if not persistent. Eventually she had gotten Harry the job as her assistant with the excuse that she was training him to one day take over for her. He’d been provided with a nice room with enough space for his few belongings.

But Harry wasn’t there right now. Right now, Harry stood inside the Room of Requirement thoroughly decimating the dummies Hogwarts had provided for his temper tantrum.

“Damned Merrythought getting me into this…goddamned Dumbledore, meddling old man…goddamned Tom Riddle!” At the name of his arch nemesis he set the sliced up dummies on fire.

Turning away with a huff, Harry paced away from his makeshift training ground. He absentmindedly asked the room for a chair and ungracefully flopped into it.

“I can handle this,” he said. “I swore I wouldn’t interfere. I absolutely refuse to get caught up in another war.” The green eyed man growled restlessly, running a hand through his already messy hair.

But are you really going to teach those baby Death Eaters how to fight even better?

Harry groaned in despair and threw his head back. That was the crux of the matter wasn’t it. He knew what would become of those students and was essentially teaching them how to correct their few weaknesses. But they hadn’t done anything yet. They were still just students living during one of the most dangerous times in history. Who was he to deny them the right to defend themselves?

And really was the light side so much better?

Harry scowled angrily at the flood of memories. The ministry, in all its wisdom, had decided to use the death of Voldemort as an excuse to carry out mass arrests of anyone deemed ‘dark.’ Entire families, children, were locked away. Families that had never fought on either side were treated the same.

He had hated that ‘us against them’ mentality that some of his former best friends had used to defend their actions.

He couldn’t do that. He had taken the job and had a responsibility to teach his students no matter what they would become.

Even Tom Riddle?

Harry held back another groan and finally decided that he needed a drink.

Chapter Text

Tom had decided to do a little investigating of his own. In between remaining the undisputed top student, running Slytherin house, and searching for the Chamber of Secrets, he still had plenty of time. So, he chose to spend that time on his new pet project.

Harrison Evans

He had thought that after enough time the obsession would fade, that he’d lose interest like he had with everything else. But not so, if anything their new assistant had become even more fascinating.

It had soon become very obvious to the Slytherins that although the man had incredible restraint, holding back and essential storm of magic, he was terrible at concealing his emotions.

Malfoy had seized upon this with unsurprising enthusiasm and went out of his way to provoke Evans whenever possible. The green eyed man had just raised a single eyebrow, as though viewing his attempts as nothing more than childish antics, and offered the blond and the entire class a standing invitation to duel him whenever they liked.

The Gryffindors definitely enjoyed that. They had somehow decided that the small age difference was proof that they were close enough to Evans’ level to present a challenge. How wrong they were.

Tom could tell that the man had enjoyed annihilating his opponents. He still wore that manic grin that only appeared when he fought. Tom had noticed that for someone so disgusted by the idea of war he seemed to only find enjoyment in fighting.

He was like a totally different person when he dueled. Evans had deigned to use his wand against the latest batch of challengers, who he had decided to face all at once. Tom could tell at a glance that the wood was Holly, but beyond that it pulsed with a concentrated form of the power that constantly hung about the man. Evans had transfigured their robes into ropes and trussed them up to end the match.

Classes were certainly informative. True to his word, Evans had not taught them a single new spell since the first day. Instead, he showed them how to use transfigurations in combat, how to use their environment to their advantage. The man’s ‘creative dueling’ consisted of things such as summoning curtains to blind his foes or softening the ground to make them lose their footing.

‘A single opening is all it takes,’ he would say. He was constantly moving the class to new locations as well ‘to force them to adapt to the new environment.’ The now dwindling criticism was proof that the man’s methods were effective. There was already a marked improvement in those in his Inner Circle.

And Tom was finding him more fascinating by the day. After Lestrange’s sources had returned empty handed, he had decided to take matters into his own hands.

No one had seen the man anywhere but in classes. He didn’t participate during Hogsmead weekends and rarely even showed up to meals. Evans didn’t even assign homework, so it wasn’t as if he was always working. Tom for one was highly curious where he spend his off time, so he chose to follow him after his last class under a disillusionment charm.

The first time he had only gotten about 20 feet before losing the man. The second time he had added a silencing charm to himself and got about 40 feet before being given the slip. Tom suspected the man could sense him despite being silent and mostly invisible.

So Tom had researched ways to hide one’s presence. As a prefect he had unlimited access to the restricted section and had made a point of taking advantage of it.

Finally, on attempt number five, Tom had managed to follow Evans as he half ran down the hall, up two flights of stairs, and into an unused corridor. He watched curiously as Evans stopped in front of a candle holder on the wall, then, without any ceremony, pulled it to reveal a secret passageway.

Tom gaped in shock under his heavy disillusionment charms and watched as the man disappeared into the new tunnel. So that was how the man had remained unseen within the school.

Tom was mortified that someone else knew more about the castle than him. Him, who had spent the better part of the last four years exploring every inch of the building searching for the Chamber of Secrets. It was as upsetting as it was enthralling.

How much more did Evans know? Were there secret rooms that he used? Could the corridors be used to get around faster? Tom paused in his thought process.

Does Harrison Evans know where the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets is?

The Heir of Slytherin grinned maliciously as he thought about the potential of his new toy.

I think it’s time to get to know the assistant better.

 

-break-

 

Harry watched as the class trailed out the door. The last few weeks of Defense had gone by without incident. He was both amused and distressed by the Gryffindors’ continual challenges. He had hoped that the duels would give them a sense of scale, thus alerting them to how horribly inadequate their own skills were. They had somehow managed to turn it into a game, coming back to challenge him without even considering the advice he had given.

The Slytherins on the other hand, were absorbing the information with surprising vigor. None of them had challenged him since that first day, instead they watched him and the Gryffindors duels with shrewd eyes. Harry could see them absorbing every piece of information he dropped hoping to improve the performance of his challengers. They were a calculative bunch, but it would keep them alive.

Harry packed up his things preparing for another evening in the Room of Requirement. He had taken to summoning a house elf for meals simply to avoid all the attention of being in a crowded hall. He smiled bitterly. One would think after all these years he'd be used to it by now. Expecting to see an empty classroom, he looked up to see none other than Tom Riddle leaning against the wall, waiting patiently for him.

His entire body tensed unconsciously as he noticed Riddle was between him and the only exit. ‘He hasn’t killed anyone yet Harry. He’s just a student. Relax.’ He tried to calm his wildly twisting magic and speak in the most even voice possible.

“Can I help you Riddle?”

 

-break-

 

Tom Riddle watched as Evans immediately tensed upon seeing him. He had seen the man do it before, but had overlooked the fact that the man only had that reaction to him.

Interesting, I can use this.

“Mr. Evans, I was hoping you could help me with a small matter,” he drawled. “It has come to my attention that you seem to know your way around the castle rather well.” Tom almost smirked when he saw Evans tense further and narrow his eyes. He looked highly suspicious, but also possessed a healthy dose of curiosity. ‘Good.

Tom stepped further into Evans’ personal space, relishing as the man stepped back until he hit the wall. His magic then proceeded to lash about him wildly like a cornered animal. Tom ignored it for the moment.

“I was merely hoping you could show me some of what you’ve found. You see, I know Hogwarts very well, but even I haven’t discovered some of the secrets you have. I would appreciate your assistance.”

Harrison seemed to realize something, because upon his words an unidentifiable emotion flickered across his face. He relaxed slightly and appeared to gain control over his magic. “Apologies Tom, but I’ve always been of the opinion that part of the Hogwarts experience was discovering its secrets. I wouldn’t want to ruin that for you.”

Tom’s gentle smile disappeared, disliking the mocking tone. He placed his arm on the wall beside Harrison in a way that would be casual if it wasn’t currently being used to prevent his much desired escape. Harrison stood with his back straight, eyes glaring directly into his own steely blue-gray pools. He knew the easy route wouldn’t work, which was why he had prepared a back-up plan. Holding the assistant’s gaze, Tom spoke lowly.

“I noticed you’ve taking a liking to that half-breed. Hagrid, was his name?” This time the emotion was clear, pure, unadulterated rage. How Tom loved that expression. It seemed as though the emotions running this man would pierce his very core. He almost shivered at the thought that all that passion was directed at him. It was empowering.

He did not stop the smirk this time. “The Slytherins are quite prejudiced. I worry about his school life, especially, around so many purebloods. Of course, as a prefect, I shall do everything I can—“

“You can drop the model student act Riddle. It never worked on me.” Tom’s jaw tightened at the interruption, but otherwise he showed no reaction. ‘Is that so?

He shifted his shoulders and took on an altogether more predatory stance. Tom stepped even closer, so there were only a few meager inches separating their chests, emphasizing his advantage in height. The hand that had been hovering just over Evans’ shoulder gently repositioned itself on his neck.

The reaction was instant.

A blast of magic found Tom flying across the room. He recovered from the not completely unexpected response and stood, relaxed, across the room.

“Back off Riddle, I’m not interested in any of your games. I’ve had enough of it to last a lifetime. Now either you call off your followers, or I kill you.”

Tom knew in that moment that he wasn’t kidding. Evans’ magic took on a sharp quality that even he hadn’t noticed before. At the same time he wasn’t really willing to back down at this point in the confrontation.

“Death threats Mr. Evans? How forward of you. I can’t possibly control every Slytherin student, I—“

“You and I both know it would only take a word from you,” Evans spoke the statement with such certainty, that Tom narrowed his eyes. How much did he know? Tom released his control on his own magic, dark and seductive. He watched as Evans tried and failed to repress a shiver as his magic mingled with his own. It was glorious.

“You seem to have some incorrect preconceptions of my character,” Tom began to slowly close the distance between them once again, allowing his magic to fend off Evans’ own. “Please allow me a chance to correct them. There is a standing invitation to duel you, yes? Come to the unused classroom at the end of the third corridor on the second floor after you finish your classes tomorrow. You will be there or I cannot guarantee the safety of the halfbreed.”

With that Tom backed off, leaving before Evans could respond. He stalked down the halls of the school looking quite pleased.

That confrontation had been… informative. Evans appeared to know much about him, while he still knew nothing at all about his new favorite. Unacceptable. The man was fascinating. The way his magic lashed out to protect him, and even more interestingly, the way his own magic had reacted to Evans.

They had danced around each other, tentatively melding together. Tom shivered in remembrance.

Evans would show up. He had seen how the man made his best efforts to educate and prepare even the bottom of the barrel in classes. He truly believed that there was a war coming, probably because he had seen it firsthand. More importantly, he cared about the students far too much, especially that half breed.

Tom frowned at that. He didn’t want Evans’ attention on anyone but himself, but he wasn’t entirely sure why he felt that way. He was amazed by the depth of Evans’ power and wanted it for himself, but it was more than that. It was the way his shadowed green eyes glowed when he fought or that carefree grin that appeared on his face on occasion. Tom always watched the way his muscles shifted and rolled under his skin during a duel, but most of all, he was captivated by the man’s magic.

It was… strange. Obsessed or not, he shouldn’t care about those things, so perhaps it was something more. Despite how adept he was at manipulating emotions, Tom was never very good at genuinely producing them within himself, so this sudden influx had him very confused.

Unfortunately for Harry, things that confused Tom tended to hold his attention, and with all the secrets he held he would have Tom’s attention for a very long time.

 

-break-

 

Harry sat in his chambers. Obviously his mind dwelt on the previous confrontation, but the thoughts weren’t quite lining themselves up in his head.

Harry’s first instinct was to pull out his wand and kill the kid before he could cause any trouble. On some level he still wanted to do that. Sitting in the plush armchair, his hand was constantly clenching and unclenching, as though it was used to holding something more often than not.

Tom Riddle was a problem, he thought. Killing him would solve that problem, while at the same time creating so many more.

Harry had seen firsthand what happened when the Light ran unopposed. They may have dressed it up in the guise of righteousness, but it was just as bad as what the Dark would do.

He had long since come to the conclusion that Magic had probably created the two opposing factions for a reason. As long as the two fought to keep the other in check, there would be some semblance of balance.

The hand gripping a glass of firewhiskey tensed until the glass shattered into dozens of pieces. Shards flew everywhere, cutting his non-reacting fingers. This level of pain wouldn’t even make him flinch.

One thing was for sure, Harry would be damned if he let himself be manipulated again, be that by Magic or Death or even Tom fucking Riddle!

If he wants a duel he can have one!

 

-break- 

 

Classes the next day came and went. Tom Riddle maintained a façade of nonchalance and not even his closest followers could have noticed his anticipation. If he split off from the group looking decidedly eager, they didn’t say anything. Knowing their Lord to be an extremely private person, it was in their best interests not to pry.

Tom approached the empty classroom on the second floor with an unusual sense of giddiness. On one hand he was interested in what Evans knew, but on the other he was just looking forward to feeling his magic again. The sheer force of his emotions was enough to make his skin prickle and Tom knew for a fact that he had a similar effect on the man as well.

The room was one Tom had used before. The desks were already cleared leaving the floor open. There were several wards on the walls that would ensure the surroundings would not be overly damaged and that there would be no interruptions.

It was the perfect place for a duel.

Harrison Evans entered the room a few minutes later. Tom looked up from his position on the opposite wall of the room. They were both quite serious looking, but Evans had gone the extra mile and came wearing some sort of dueling armor. He wasn’t going to give up anything without a fight.

Tom uncrossed his arms and casually pushed away from the wall. Everything about his relaxed posture indicated that he was in control of the situation. He held back a grin and sauntered towards his prey.

Let the games begin.

 

-break-

 

“How do you know so much about the castle? I can’t find your name in any of the school records, so unless you attended under a different name you couldn’t have been a student.” Riddle gazed sharply at Harry, who stood poised to attack or escape if at any moment things escalated.

The two circled around each other for a moment. Neither had drawn their wand. Harry held back a sigh. He knew he would have to give Riddle something and there was no way he was revealing the time travel. He wasn’t much of a liar, but that didn’t mean he had to tell the whole truth.

“What do you know about house elves?” Harry questioned suddenly, reveling in the confused look on Riddle’s face.

“They are little creatures that enjoy servitude and live inside Hogwarts. Why?” Harry smirked slyly. It was incredible how much wizards underestimated magical creatures, especially house elves.

“House elves are some of the most powerful creatures in existence. Unfortunately, because they are classified as Light we don’t cover them in Defense, but consider this a lesson. House elves are unaffected by most wards, can apparate almost anywhere, and are capable wandless, what the most powerful of wizards would struggle to do with a wand.” Harry continued to barrel through Tom’s baffled looks.

“It is true they need a serving bond in order to survive, however, a willing house elf will do far more than an unwilling one. Befriending house elves, specifically Hogwart’s house elves, is one of the most useful things a person can do. And all it takes is an occasional thank you.”

 

-break-

 

Tom watched as that bastard of an assistant grinned unabashedly. House elves! Tom had seen them about during his own explorations of the school, but like the foolish and complacent purebloods he never gave them much thought.

And everything the man said made sense. For the few hundred elves to be able to clean, cook, and launder everything around the school they must be highly capable, but he had never even considered what this man had just suggested.

That was why he never bothered to eat in the Great Hall. If the elves liked him as much as he suggested they were probably completely willing to bring him food wherever.

All this time he had spent searching for the Chamber when he could have just asked one of the creatures where the entrance was!

Evans seemed to have an affinity for magical creatures. The way he interacted with them indicated a sort of mutual respect that even the Care Professor hadn’t achieved. One thing was certain. Tom would never again underestimate a magical creature. It was clear that the purebloods did so, the fools. But Tom was much too farsighted to allow it.

They were so heavily oppressed by the ministry that most weren’t even allowed to possess wands. They would make valuable allies in the future. He would have to research this further.

Tom turned his attention back towards Evans, who was smugly enjoying his rare moment of utter ignorance. He noticed that the man had never explicitly said that his knowledge of the school came from the house elves, but he chose to save that discussion for later. There were more important matters.

“Do you know where the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets is?” There was a reason he was being so direct with his questioning. His skill in Legilimency ensured that he could not be lied to, but Evans’ immediate reactions were telling as well.

His face closed off. He pursed his lips and his eyes flashed in anger for a single moment before he got his emotions under control. It was interesting, because it indicated that the man knew exactly what Tom was asking about, but was enraged by it for some reason. Another mystery.

“I do,” was all he said before trying to leave. Tom, of course, made to stop him, an undeniable hunger in his eyes. He needed to know.

“I am Slytherin’s heir. It is mine by right.” He didn’t know why he told him that. Somehow, he had the feeling the man already knew, but Tom had searched for so long. He was practically desperate to know.

Evans paused in his escape and turned that angry glare on Tom once more. There was a dangerously contained violence barely hidden in his eyes.

“Then of course you know the legends about the beast that lives in the Chamber. What do you think that is?” Tom was momentarily taken aback by the sudden question and patronizing tone, but he recovered quickly enough.

“I had always assumed that the beast was just a legend—“

“Well then you’d be wrong.” Tom, once again, resisted the urge to curse Evans for interrupting him. “It’s a basilisk,” he continued, not even noticing Tom’s reaction all the while.

“There is a thousand year old, 100 foot long, snake that can kill with a look in that Chamber, and it will only respond to you. I know better than anyone what you would do with that kind of power.”

Tom grit his teeth at the insinuation, but knew that the man was probably right. Something like that would be infinitely useful to have under his control, particularly for reaffirming his own superiority within the school. Yet this man sought to deny him his heritage, and for what, a few pathetic mudbloods?

Tom abruptly eased his stance, drawing his wand slowly enough to force Evans to do the same.

“It seems we have reached an impasse. No matter Harrison, we are here to duel and duel we shall.”

They lifted their wands and took their positions.

 

-break-

 

Albus Dumbledore was a busy man. Between monitoring the workings at the ministry, keeping an eye on Gellert, and teaching classes, he barely had any time to himself. This was one of those few rare moments of peace, in which he had chosen to prop himself up with a recently acquired alchemy text and a bag of Sherbet Lemons.

Even during these peaceful times he found himself worrying. He had only recently discovered that Galatea had chosen a new assistant. While that was fine in and of itself, Merlin knows the woman deserved a break, he couldn’t find any information on this Harrison Evans.

Albus didn’t like not knowing things. And a person with no previous records whatsoever came off as suspicious to even the most dense of people. The whole thing reeked of one of Gellert’s plots to infiltrate Hogwarts.

So he had taken to watching the boy along with keeping track of Tom Riddle. He had noticed the gatherings that the top student held in secret. In his mind the two were equally dangerous.

Albus sighed and choked back another Sherbet Lemon. There were few things that couldn’t be solved with sugar.

That was when he felt a rush of magic. The magic was of such magnitude and force that it ripped his own magic out from behind the many layered walls he used to keep it constantly hidden. The auburn haired man found himself gasping from the intensity as his bag of candy spilled to floor.

He forced himself to stand, legs shaking. ‘This is impossible,’ he thought. ‘How could someone this powerful have breached the wards.

His first assumption was that Gellert had finally broken his promise and laid siege to the castle. He rejected that theory, there is no possible way he could have entered Hogwarts without giving any indication that the wards were under attack.

So where had that magic come from?

It was over almost as quickly as it began. Suddenly the pressure that was keeping Albus from moving was released and he quickly exited the room in search of explanation.

Albus knew that the students were probably affected on some level. Not everyone was as sensitive to magic as he, but even those without any magic sensitivity whatsoever would have felt the effects. The weaker students had likely even passed out.

He entered the main corridor to find it in utter chaos. Students littered the floors, the few that had remained conscious were pale and shaking in cold sweats, eyes blank and unseeing. The young medi-witch in training, Miss Pomfrey, had already begun emergency treatment and soon the halls would be flooded with healers from Saint Mungos.

Dumbledore gathered himself together. There was work to be done.

 

-break-

 

The duel was intense. Harry had known that it would be but this wasn’t the sort of thing one could prepare for.

He dodged another spell blast and returned it threefold. Harry noticed that at some point Tom had started using Dark spells, the kind that would earn someone a lifetime in Azkaban. He had suspected that it would come to that and had added his own wards to the room to prevent their detection the moment he had entered.

And on it went. Tom dove out of the way of Harry conjured fire and sent a few curses back on his way down. Harry danced out the path of the spells and summoned a desk from behind Tom. Riddle managed to destroy the desk before it hit him, but still got hit by a rain of splinters.

Harry was winning the fight. He knew he would, he had far more experience than Tom at this point, but the boy was vicious and wouldn’t admit defeat so easily.

Their magic swirled about the room in a maelstrom of power. The lights in the room flickered and the air grew heavy. Tom paused his onslaught of attacks and Harry stopped as well, cocking his head in curiosity.

The boy was sweating profusely and had rested his hands on his knees in an effort to stay standing as he bled from many open wounds. The difference between them was clear, but Tom still intended to continue the fight.

After regaining his breath, Tom threw his head back, eyes intent,

And began casting in parseltongue.

Harry was thrown off guard by the suddenness of the attack. He knew that parseltongue spells could only be blocked and countered by other parseltongue spells, but he had no desire to reveal that ability.

He had never lost the ability. Even after Voldemort was dead and gone, the language of snakes had stayed with him. It had caused harry a lot of trouble after the first war when he was seen using the ‘Dark ability.’ But even when they accused him of being the next Dark Lord, Harry didn’t stop.

Tom conjured a set of snakes and commanded them to attack while he continued casting hexes and curses to limit Harry’s movement. Harry’s manic grin turned into a smirk briefly as he realized that the boy had taken his lessons to heart. He may not have been as experienced as his future counterpart, but he made up for it with sheer power and ingenuity.

Harry sent a few cutting hexes towards the snakes and vaulted over them in the same way he had on the first day of class. His magic propelled him forwards as he bounded towards his foe, planning to end the fight.

Unfortunately, Tom had read the move and sidestepped the grab, throwing Harry off balance. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Tom used his momentum to force him to the floor and pinned him down with both legs, straddling the man.

Tom lowered his wand to the man’s throat, hand shaking slightly, but blue-gray eyes still clear.

Harry rested in his position on the ground. They both knew that he could easily get out from the hold, but the gesture was more symbolic and Harry conceded to his opponent with a small nod.

Tom relaxed slightly at the nod, but kept his wand leveled at Evans neck. He felt the power rushing through the room, the impact of what they had achieved together was immeasurable. Feeling a strange sense of satisfaction at the final product, Tom knew what he had to do.

“I swear on magic that I will not use the basilisk within the Chamber of Secrets to harm any of the students or professors within Hogwarts. So I have sworn it so mote it be.”

Harry’s eyes widened as he saw the magic snap into place at the vow. Tom was serious.

“Now,” he breathed, eyes still boring into Harry. “Take me to the Chamber.”

Chapter Text

Tom cast several spells on himself to remove any signs that the battle had taken place. He was irritated to see that Evans merely had to straighten out his clothes.

It was mortifying that he hadn’t even managed to injure the assistant. The fight had given him some insight into the man’s true abilities and the conclusion that he had reached was that he needed to have him. The power that he exuded normally was addicting enough, but what he had felt during the duel had been intoxicating.

He closed the worst of his wounds and removed the blood from this person, turning toward the man, no warrior, who was waiting for him patiently by the door.

Evans turned stiffly and made his way down the hall at a brisk pace, Tom following closely behind him. There was no illusion in his mind; he was aware that the only reason the man had conceded was because of the oath he had made. While it set back some of his plans, Tom was determined to make it worth it.

They arrived, inside a girl’s bathroom.

Tom turned a questioning glace towards Evans who stood in front of one of the sinks, staring back challengingly.

Raising his eyebrows, he turned back to the sink and studied it more closely, quickly finding the snake engraving on the faucet.

~Open~ the hissed words fell from his mouth and at once the floor shifted and moaned as the sink moved back to reveal a hole in the floor.

Tom couldn’t suppress the excitement that welled up in his chest. After all these years of searching, all these years of jeers and insults, being called a mudblood unworthy for the halls of Hogwarts, he had finally found his inheritance. His right as Slytherin’s heir was finally his and his alone.

He suddenly remembered the one accompanying him, but for some reason that only amplified the excitement, this man that provided so many new opportunities would be alone in the Chamber with him.

It took all his self-control to resist the urge to smirk. It was too early to reveal his cards.

“Well then, after you,” Tom gestured with a flourish towards the darkness.

Evans raised a single eyebrow, then snorted and jumped feet first into the pit landing in a nimble crouch outside the sight of Tom. He silently waited for Riddle to take the plunge. It would bring a small amount of amusement even under the current circumstances.

Minutes later Tom finally took the risk and entered the hole. He levitated himself to reduce the impact, but still wobbled unsteadily at his less than graceful landing.

Shaking off the effects of the fall, Tom proceeded deeper into the cavern, Evans following a few paces back, until they arrived at the second entrance.

It was circular with ornate snakes engraved on the edges that exuded old magic and powerful wards likely made by Salazar himself.

Tom placed a single hand on the cold stone, his anticipation nearly palpable.

~Open~ he hissed and the stone snakes slowly moved around the perimeter of the door as the stone rolled away revealing the main chamber.

 

-break-

 

Harry watched Tom with mild interest as he tried to contain his obviously strong reaction. He knew that Tom had been anticipating this since the day he discovered his true heritage. For that reason and that reason alone, Harry had allowed the boy to enter the Chamber. That, and the oath he had surprisingly taken.

To be honest, Harry hadn’t expected him to swear such a thing even on pain of death. The Voldemort he was familiar with certainly wouldn’t have. It threw him off guard, but it also served to widen the gap between the two individuals.

This person was still Tom Marvolo Riddle—brilliant and ambitious Hogwarts student with a bright future. He had not yet become the hollow monster that Voldemort was. Especially now that he was in the past, Harry couldn’t help but feel that it would be a waste for the boy to go down that path once more. He had no desire to interfere in the events that would take place; what he’d already done was plenty. Still, Tom had so much potential. Had he been sane during the war, Harry had no doubt that the Light wouldn’t have stood a chance.

Tom was exploring the expansive Chamber, the wonderment on his face making him appear years younger. He stared in awe at the massive statue of Salazar Slytherin that adorned the wall, a testament to the man's massive ego. The room was exactly as he had remembered it. Damp and dark, but filled with a subtle aura of power that made his skin prickle.

“Where is the basilisk?” Harry leveled Tom with an appraising look. He was still feeling reluctant.

“I have already given you my vow,” he said seriously. “Besides, I can think of many other uses for a 1000 year old basilisk. The knowledge it must possess…” he trailed off quietly.

Harry sighed in resignation. This was his birth right after all. As long as he wasn’t planning to attack anyone Harry had no right to deny him.

“Say ‘Speak to me Slytherin, greatest of the Hogwarts four.’”

Tom turned towards Harry in shock, eyes narrowing in suspicion. He was probably wondering how he knew that… damn. He could explain knowing where the entrance was, but this was enough to make him start thinking.

Harry inwardly cursed himself. Tom bloody Riddle was a genius. If he kept dropping hints like this the boy was bound to figure it out eventually. He shuddered to think what would happen then.

No, it was better for all parties if Tom never discovered his origins. If it came down to that, he would have to disappear. Maybe he should check out Asia…

~Speak to me Slytherin, greatest of the Hogwarts four~ the words rolled off the teen’s tongue with a sibilant hiss.

The room rumbled as the statue’s mouth opened with a groan and the massive snake slithered out and onto the floor.

Harry had already spelled his eyes to deflect the gaze of the serpent. It was almost depressing how much experience he had fighting the creatures.

The basilisk coiled onto the floor softly, presenting its head to the heir, its master.

Tom approached the beast with a contained sense of glee. He lifted his hand and gently stroked the oddly soft hide of the basilisk.

Harry stood back, allowing Tom the moment, not hearing the quiet whispered exchange.

 

-break-

 

~Greetings. My name is Tom Marvolo Riddle and I am currently the sole heir to Slytherin’s great legacy. You are a magnificent snake~ the creature preened at the praise, not unlike an ordinary snake.

~Greetings heir. Slytherin named me Anassa. You are impressive as well.~ Tom enjoyed a few more moments with the incredible creature before snapping back to reality. He still needed answers.

~Anassa I need you to restrain that man over there, but do not kill him~ the creature reared back at the order.

~It will be done heir~

For a 100 foot long animal, it certainly moved fast. In less than a second it had moved between Evans and the exit, hissing aggressively.

“Enough of this Riddle,” Evans had drawn his wand, sensing the hostility from the basilisk. “Call it off unless you want to lose your magic.”

Tom watched the exchange smugly, shaking his head at the man’s naiveté. “I swore not to use the basilisk to harm any of the students or professors. You, are neither a student nor a professor.” He finished the last line with an air satisfaction. It was obvious that the man was unprepared for the sudden revelation, but his next statement surprised Tom.

“This is not the first basilisk I have fought Tom,” he hissed. If Tom didn’t know any better he would say that Evans was close to slipping into parseltongue. “Don’t make me kill this one as well.”

The last phrase was a clear threat, one which Tom believed to a certain extent. But even this man couldn’t fight off an ancient basilisk and Tom at the same time.

The basilisk began to encircle Evans, closing in. In response, he allowed his magic to come free of its constant restraints and flow about freely. Tom still wasn’t sure if he did this consciously or whenever he was in danger.

~I know you~ the creature hissed, its great yellow eyes narrowing in contemplation. It neared Evans as though to get a better look at him, before rearing back.

~You! Future enemy of my master, vanquisher of myself! How have you come to this time? Salazar himself was not capable of such a feat!~

Tom’s eyes narrowed in suspicion once more, while Evans eyes widened in… shock, disbelief, fear?

He appeared to be trying to cast a silencing spell on the beast, but it merely shook of the attacks.

~How have you come to this time? This should not be possible—~

~SILENCE!~ Harrison Evans’ eyes were wild. He was desperately looking between the basilisk and Tom, who had moved passed his confusion and looked on with an eerie sense of understanding. It was likely the man wasn’t even aware he had spoken parseltongue.

Evans had long since lost his composure and his magic was now dangerously whipping about his person. He took one last look in Tom’s direction, hoping to will away the last few minutes, then dashed away for a quick escape.

~Stop him!~ He was using his textbook move of augmenting his body with magic. This time the effects allowed him to dodge past Anassa and sprint back towards the entrance. He was so distracted by the sudden revelations that he didn’t notice the simple stunner that Tom sent directly at his turned back.

Evans fell to the ground hard, his magic protecting him from most of the impact, but still unmistakably unconscious. Tom took his time approaching the prone form of the man, questions still running through his head.

~Anassa, tell me everything you know about this man.~

 

-break-

 

Harry was jarred awake by a spell. Like always he became instantly alert upon waking, reaching for his wand only to discover that he was bound quite thoroughly and seated in a conjured chair.

“Didn’t know you were into this sort of thing,” he said dully to his captor, while trying to gather his magic. Whatever material the ropes were made of it was somehow managing to disperse his magic before he could gather enough to escape.

“I’m not usually, but I think these would be considered extenuating circumstances. Wouldn’t you agree Mr. Evans? Or would you prefer if I called you Harry?” The words were spoken lightly with a touch of amusement. Through the haze of waking Harry could finally see the intense gaze upon him that burned with a hunger that made him squirm before he could stop himself.

“Evans is fine,” he grumbled.

“No I think Evans would be far too impersonal at this point. After all we know each other so well Harry.” Green eyes flashed in anger and Harry tried to burn Riddle where he stood with merely the heat of his glare.

“How much do you know,” he gritted the words out through painfully clenched teeth, still flexing in his bonds in an attempt to find a weakness.

“I know enough. I know you, Harry James Potter, defeated of the Dark Lord Voldemort as a mere infant and became the Boy-Who-Lived, the savior of the wizarding world—“

“Don’t call me that!” Harry thrashed wildly against the ropes until eventually calming down. “I’m not anyone’s savior,” he muttered almost petulantly.

Tom appraised the man with a glance, standing up to circle his prey.

“I can see you don’t like the title you were bestowed. Why?” The question was blunt. Unusually blunt. Harry looked up at his captor and realized that Tom was just as unsettled by the revelations as he. Well it was no wonder. Harry knew he had already been using the name Voldemort, so he must have connected the dots and realized that he was killed by the person before him.

Tom Riddle aka Lord Voldemort feared nothing as much as he feared death. He spend the entirety of his life trying to escape his death and even fashioned the moniker Vol-de-mort, flight from death.

When Harry was finally forced to kill his nemesis he could feel his fear. Voldemort’s pride wouldn’t allow him to outright beg, but his fear and his eyes communicated it just as well. Voldemort became the first person he had ever killed and his soul had never fully recovered. For the cowardly masses, Harry had given up his innocence and Voldemort his life.

“Because it’s pathetic,” he spat. The bitterness clung to his tongue even as the words left his mouth. “The entire wizarding world was so spineless and weak that they needed a child to fight their battles for them.”

Tom deliberately stopped behind him and stared, contemplative. He had the same habit as Voldemort of stroking his wand when he was lost in thought. The infamous yew wand held a lot of memories for Harry.

“From what I can tell,” Riddle began, speaking almost cautiously. “I used the name Lord Voldemort to spread fear and nearly succeeded in taking over the wizarding world. You somehow managed to defeat me at the height of my conquest as a mere infant and were hailed a hero.” Tom smiled at Harry’s enraged expression and continued. “So when I inevitably returned they called on you, who were barely a teenager, to defeat me once more. How am I doing so far?”

Harry ignored the taunt. He was busy trying to gain access to the hidden knife that he always kept in his sleeve. Tom had learned much from his classes, but not enough, it seemed, to remember to disarm him of more than just his wand.

“After my first defeat they probably thought I was dead.” The words were said lightly, but Harry could see Tom scowling through the darkness as he began to pace once more. “How is it then that I survived?” He almost muttered the last words. They were half spoken to himself and Harry was beginning to feel a terrible chill when a massive and smug grin broke out on Tom’s face.

“I succeeded, then. I figured out how to defeat even death.” Tom ceased musing and turned his full attention back to Harry. He leaned over the man, crowding his space until they were only inches apart. ~How did I do it?~ He hissed.

Harry answered the question by tilting back his head and slamming it into Tom’s with enough force to send his captor sprawling across the floor as he tried to recover. Harry took the opportunity to slip out the silver knife and cut through his bindings.

Tom scrambled to his feet clutching his bleeding head and drawing his wand at the same time. Harry didn't give him a chance to cast any spells. In less than a second he was on him, pitching him forwards and grappling him to the floor. Tom tried to hiss out a command to the Basilisk, but Harry was quicker, grabbing the yew wand and casting a silencing charm on the teen.

~I will not harm your heir for now great Basilisk, but attack me and that will change.~ Harry kept his eyes on Tom as he pressed his knee into his back and bent his arms at a painful angle eliciting a soundless cry from the boy.

The Basilisk looked reluctant to leave her heir at the mercy of Harry, but somehow it could remember the battle that had taken place in the future and knew not to test him.

~Understood vanquisher,~ the Basilisk complied. ~But know this, if Salazar’s heir is harmed my life will be a small price to pay for my vengeance.~ The snake hissed the threat menacingly. Harry nodded his agreement, careful not to make eye contact, and turned his attention back to Tom.

“Now, Tom Marvolo Riddle, I have come to an agreement with your Basilisk. It’s time you know exactly who you’re dealing with so that you and I can do the same.

Tom struggled violently against Harry for a moment. Harry calmly waited him out, tightening his hold until Tom slumped onto the floor once more in pain. He could tell that it was only the teen’s pride that kept him from crying out once more.

“Yes, my name is Harry James Potter. Who my parents are is of no consequence.” He gritted out the words. It still hurt, on some level, that he was able to dismiss his parents so easily.

“You attacked my family on the night of Samhain with the intention of killing me. Due to a nearly impossible quirk of magic, the killing curse you cast was reflected and you were blasted from your body. You spent the next 13 years as a bodiless wraith, only able to possess small animals and weak minded fools.” Tom tensed at the barbed words. Harry knew the words stung, but he needed to know. Tom Riddle had the potential to be far more than Lord Voldemort ever was, but only if he was knocked down a peg or two.

“You regained a physical form in my 4th year and went on to terrorize the entire population in what was called the second wizarding war.” He continued, bracing himself for the next part. “I, a mere child, was called to fight against you and by the time I had graduated I was already leading armies against your Death Eaters.” Harry fought to keep his voice even, to prevent the memories from overtaking him.

“The war was long,” he said, voice barely a whisper. “We managed to destroy your means of immortality, even the one bound to me, and still the war didn’t end.” Harry didn’t notice that he had begun to loosen his hold. His hands had gone numb. Tom remained still.

“People died. Children died. And when it finally ended, when I finally managed to kill you, another war, twice as gruesome, began.” Tom slowly pulled away from under Harry, careful not to disturb the man whose eyes had gone wide and unseeing as he started to relive the memories.

“What are you doing Rufus? The Bennetts never supported Voldemort during the war.”

“I gave them an opportunity to swear their allegiance to the new Ministry and to the Light. They refused, so now I’m arresting them for treason.”

“They’re a Dark family! They always have been! They couldn’t swear allegiance to the Light if they wanted to!”

“Exactly Harry. We’re just getting over the last Dark Lord, I’ll not have another one appearing from the woodwork.

“There are children in that family! The youngest is only five! What crime is she guilty of!”

“Being born to stubborn parents! If she’s been raised Dark then there’s no saving her.”

“This is ridiculous! You can’t do this!”

“It’s already done Harry! There’s nothing you can do!”

 

-break-

 

Tom watched as Evans, no Harry, fell into a memory of the past. His magic was going wild, seeking out a threat where there was none.

“Harry, Harry, snap out of it!” It was no use, Tom could tell that Harry wasn’t even seeing him right now. He had backed away to avoid the onslaught of magic, but now he couldn’t even attempt to get close without being burned by Harry’s magic, which had settled around him like a protective cloak.

Tom didn’t know why he was even bothering to try and help the man. He was free, he could just call the Basilisk and have it kill him. Her hide was resistant to magic and Harry was practically comatose; there was no way he could defend himself. Instead, Tom found himself wrapping his magic around himself in a similar manner and forcing his way through the rampaging storm of magic.

Harry’s magic seemed to have a mind of its own. It acted more according to his subconscious wishes than anything else. Tom had noticed that it was also highly compatible with his own magic. So, what happened next really shouldn’t have been a surprise.

Their magic was mixing. It was melting together and combining in a whirlwind of power. Tom staggered from the sheer force of the combination; it was somehow far stronger than anything they could have managed alone. The air sparked and flashed, heavy with the scent of ozone. Tom could feel Harry’s magic pressing against his own, then passing through it to fill him up. It was amazing.

Through the haze of power Tom was able to approach the still kneeling man. Harry’s eyes were glowing a dim and murky green instead of the powerful and rich killing curse color he had come to know.

Tom grabbed Harry’s shoulders and leaned in to press his lips against the man’s ear.

~Calm down~ he hissed. It was said with all the silent gentleness of a promise. ~Calm down and come back to me. You are safe here. You are safe.~

Harry shuddered at the voice. Tom pressed his fingers more firmly into his shoulders, tight enough to leave bruises. ~Return to me.~

It seemed the final phrase was enough. Harry followed the pain in his shoulders, magic slowly calming once more. His eyes slowly began to drift close as he succumbed to sleep. Tom heard him say one last thing before his consciousness flowed away entirely.

“I never… wanted… to kill.”

Chapter Text

The floor rumbled at the impact of the secret entrance being forced open behind them. The younger members of the group were sent careening forwards into the damp concrete of the underground passage.

“Get up and keep moving!” Harry yelled as he yanked the boy to his feet. “We don’t have time to wait for anyone that falls behind!”

Harry could feel the ground shift once more as dust kicked up and scattered into their path. A quick spell cut across the fog creating an escape for the kids that were looking to him for guidance. Once again, despite all his efforts, people were looking to him for help, for salvation.

It was crippling. But he couldn’t bring himself to leave them, to ignore the plight of innocents.

"Go, I'll hold them off." Harry sent the group of adolescents down the passage and prepared himself for the inevitable confrontation. He recalled with an undesirable clarity that the youngest in the group was 10 years old. The boy hadn’t even received his Hogwarts letter and already he was being hunted by Aurors. All because he was born into a Dark family.

“Halt! You are under arrest for aiding and abetting Dark side supporters and enemies of the Light.” Harry recognized the Auror. It was someone he had fought alongside against Death Eaters before Voldemort had finally died. “Don’t do this Harry. Hand over the Death Eater scum and everything can go back to normal.”

Harry laughed bitterly as he destroyed the tunnel with a well-aimed Sectumsempra. He placed himself between the Aurors and the now collapsed tunnel.

“Things were never normal. I know that now.” The grim smile had returned to his face and it was the last thing those Aurors saw as their screams echoed throughout the tunnel.

Harry gasped as he woke up, admittedly a lot more comfortably this time. He hadn't been awakened by a spell this time, but his instant awareness kicked in anyways and allowed him to see that he was still in the bowels of Hogwarts, and even more disturbingly, resting on a couch beside Tom Riddle.

The teen’s hand was resting in the messy locks of his hair, occasionally moving through them and making it more difficult for Harry to fully move past sleep. With the other hand, Tom was reading a book, presumably from the small library behind him.

He assumed, despite the welcoming decor and cozy atmosphere of the furniture and fireplace, he was still inside the Chamber of Secrets. The unfortunate thing was that Harry had no idea where inside the Chamber of Secrets he currently was, and for some reason his magic was not registering his defenseless state as a threat and was content to laze about in around him.

“You’re awake I see.” Harry stiffened at the accusation, but didn’t pull away from the hand that still carded through his tresses. He looked up to see Tom Riddle, smirking like the cat that got the canary.

“So are you.” It wasn’t his best retort but he could roll with it. “Are you planning to tell me where we are?”

Tom wrinkled his nose at Harry dismissive response, but otherwise showed no reaction. He continued to remain silent for a few moments before finally answering with a put upon sigh.

“We are still in the Chamber of Secrets. This happened to be Salazar’s personal library.” The answer he was given did almost nothing to improve his ignorance. Harry sensed that it was at least partially on purpose and probably some sort of payback. Either way, he had no desire to remain at the mercy of Tom Riddle. Child he may be, but harmless he was not.

“Thank you, for your hospitality. I really appreciate it. Please return my wand so that I may take my leave—“ Harry was cut off when he was forced to cry out in pain when Tom pulled his hair back. He turned towards the boy and snarled ferally, daring him to try it again. Tom lifted his hands in surrender and allowed Harry to sit up on the couch.

“You have been unconscious for approximately 4 hours, presumably due to magic exhaustion. You used quite a bit when you threw that little tantrum earlier.” Harry couldn’t help flushing at that. He remembered most of what happened, even the parts he would rather forget, but mostly he remembered Tom Riddle stepping in to calm his magic.

And now the kid was getting cocky again.

“Accio,” Harry’s wand flew into his hand from under a shocked Tom’s robes. “I am grateful for your assistance, now I will be leaving.” His tone left no room for debate, yet Tom apparently felt the need to even as he was already walking away.

 

-break-

 

Tom grit his teeth as he watched the retreating back of Harry. He wanted the man, for what he wasn’t entirely sure, but he’d be damned if he begged him to come back. Instead Tom hissed a parseltongue spell that he had just learned about from the book he was reading.

He drank in Harry’s reactions as the room sealed completely and the door was unable to be opened even with magic. Harry muscles tightened once more in prepare for battle, Tom noticed that he was slightly less tense than last time. Perhaps, subconsciously the man was beginning to trust him. His magic remaining nonreactive would certainly indicate that. Excellent.

“Please, have a seat Harry. We have much to discuss.” Harry finally turned to face Tom. His face lacked the rage from earlier, but was somehow far more unsettling this way. He looked at Tom as though he knew exactly what he was thinking, exactly what he was going to say, and was not at all amused by his antics.

“No Tom, we don’t have anything to discuss. In fact I would be quite content to leave and never see you again for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, I gave Professor Merrythought my word, so I am stuck here for at least the rest of the year.” Harry continued even when Tom opened his mouth to speak, cutting him off once more. Now that the teen knew the man was from the future, he was quite certain that Harry had been interrupting him knowing he hated it.

“During that time if you pull another stunt like the one before I will cripple you, consequences be damned.” Tom narrowed his eyes at the threat. He didn’t like being threatened, but this was more of a promise. Still, Tom needed to find some way to regain the upper hand. The man was far too good at throwing off his rhythm.

“Harry, the threats are unnecessary. I have no desire to harm you and I think you can understand the reasons for my previous actions. I apologize nonetheless.” He needed to concede something.

“I know you felt the reaction our magics had. I know it affected you just as much as it did me.” Tom rose from his seat to once again crowd Harry’s space. He had noticed that the man was more unsteady when in close proximity to him and Tom needed every advantage he could get.

“We are connected more intimately than anyone else. Imagine what we could do together if we tried.” Tom’s voice was breathy and filled with poorly concealed awe, but he could see that his words were affecting Harry as well. All he needed was one more push…

“We could do so much Harry. Change so much. The wizarding world would bow before us—“

“Enough, Enough! If you want to go and start a crusade for blood purity, be my guest. I can guarantee you will fail. If you want to start a war,” Harry paused gritting his teeth till it looked like they would bleed. “Then I want no part of it.”

Tom started at the reaction and realized that he had said the wrong thing. He had thought that Harry would be easier to convince after what had just happened, that the effects of their magics mixing together would lull him into trusting him somewhat. Harry sneered at the shocked expression.

“The war you start will not be glorious. It will not be a fanciful battle of ideals that will end with your victory. You will lose everything that you have ever cared about,” Harry broke eye contact with the teen, staring down at the floor with clenched fists. “And eventually everyone else will as well.”

Tom appeared to get over his initial shock and replace it with a childish indignation. “What would you have me do then? The wizarding world is even more stubborn than it is stagnant. You really think they would simply accept the things I am suggesting, that they wouldn’t immediately vilify me and my followers?”

Harry bared his teeth at Tom in a mockery of a smile. His eyes were hard and the bitterness of the expression was strong enough to taste. “You're a smart kid Tom. If you are truly incapable of convincing the gullible masses of something so simple than perhaps you are not great as you would have people believe.”

Harry turned away from the youth, effectively dismissing him and proceeded towards the exit. “If you do not give up your sanity out of fear of death, there is no doubt in my mind that you can succeed.” Harry called out behind him, still not looking at the boy.

Tom was left with much to contemplate. First, Harry would not be as easy to convince as he had first thought. Even with all his problems he was still far stronger and more experienced than himself. Tom knew that Harry would not take well to being marked or forced into servitude. The chinks in his armor were not weaknesses, rather symbols of the hardships he had endured and survived.

He was incredible.

Secondly, Tom would have to get started on deciphering the many hints he had dropped. He still wasn’t sure if Harry did those things consciously. His first impression would lead him to believe that the man was far too transparent to do anything so subtle, now he wasn’t so sure.

One thing was certain though. The man had once again succeeded in capturing Tom’s attention. His power was one thing, but Harry was capable of so much more.

He wasn’t intelligent in the traditional sense, but his instincts were absurdly sharp and the man had also managed to be an endless well of information. He may hate war, but it was obvious that Harry Potter could only thrive in the midst of battle. That rictus-like expression he wore when fighting was only one indication.

Tom shivered once more. He scowled at the idea of the man having such a dramatic effect on him. Still, he couldn’t help but feel that Harry was somehow worth it.

 

-break-

 

“Today you’ll begin learning what I believe to be one of the most useful charms a wizard can know. First, I’ll need two volunteers. McGonagall and Black, you’ll do nicely. The two stepped forward uneasily. Orion masked it better, but after the previous demonstrations no one had any intention of underestimating the unassuming assistant.

The weekend had passed somewhat anticlimactically. The Ministry was still investigating the magical power surge that happened before. Apparently a large number of the student body being rendered unconscious was enough for the Ministry to acknowledge that the problem was something worth addressing.

Officially, it was the ancient wards of Hogwarts malfunctioning due to age, but Harry had already guessed that it was a result of his duel and Tom had likely come to a similar conclusion. It had been a long time since the sheer force of his magic had dropped his enemies to their knees. He had pulled out a bit too much power when he dueled the teen. He still blamed Riddle though; the boy had been testing his limits, straining against the edges, and trying to see just how deep his power was. Harry had gotten away with showing a little more power than usual, but he knew that he would have to deal with Dumbledore investigating now.

Harry pushed those thoughts aside for now. He had children to mess with.

“Expecto Patronum” he cried. Grinning childishly at the looks of disbelief as a massive stag composed of white wisps materialized. “Go on,” he taunted, “give it your best shot.”

The two needed no other motivation and began rattling off spells at the creature. The nearly 8 foot tall beast just shook off the spells as though they were minor annoyances, before it stampeded at the unsuspecting pair. Harry waited until the animal was nearly upon them as they cried out in fear, before stopping and calling it back.

The stag trotted back and lowered its head to be pet as Harry praised its naughty behavior; he tended to spoil the conjuration. The entire time, Tom watched as the man’s eyes glowed even brighter than normal as his magic swirled around him haphazardly. Even the thicker students sucked in a breath at this casual display of power.

Tom studied his interaction with the beast closely, eyes following every subtle movement the man made. Finally, Harry remembered the rest of the class and turned away from the animal.

“I don’t expect you to get it by the end of the class. The Patronus charm is so notoriously difficult that only a small fraction of Aurors can cast it. It’s not required for your NEWTs, however, I do want you to be able to produce at least an indistinct animal by the time you graduate. Who can tell me the characteristics and uses of the Patronus. Yes McGonagall.”

Tom inwardly rolled his eyes at the overly studious girl, who had recovered from her terror of the stag to raise her hand.

“A Patronus takes the form of an animal. Its main use is to repel Dementors, but it can also be used to repel most other dark creatures as well.” Harry was struck by the similarity to Hermione, someone he would rather not think about. Even so, he couldn’t help but frown at the incompleteness of the answer.

“Correct, but unfortunately you left out a lot. A Patronus will always be an animal, but you forgot to mention that the form your Patronus takes will always be symbolic of what makes the caster feel safe and secure.” Harry noticed that Tom soaked up this new information and probably connected it back to the appearance of the stag.

“Also, a Patronus can do a lot more than just repel dark creatures. As the embodiment of positive emotions it can assist the injured, send messages, and as that last demonstration was meant to show, fight alongside you. Can anyone tell me how to cast the spell?”

This time Tom raised his hand. Harry’s eyes followed the movement before settling on Tom’s own and allowing him to speak. “The Patronus is cast by focusing on a memory of pure and intense happiness. That is also what makes it so hard to cast, as few possess such a memory.” Tom finished. Harry knew that Tom would probably be unable to cast the spell. Out of all the spells in the curriculum, this was likely the only one the great Tom Riddle had ever had a problem with. Harry found himself filled with a petty sense of satisfaction.

Harry’s eyes were emotionless as he spoke evenly. “Correct Riddle, 5 points to Slytherin.” He turned so that he was addressing the rest of the class.

“The general rule is that those with more bad memories in general will have an easier time creating a Patronus, because their happy memories will be better by comparison. That also makes them more vulnerable to Dementors. I myself had that problem until I finally decided to learn the charm.” Harry revealed the information unthinkingly and immediately hoped that Tom didn’t pick up on the implications of that statement. It was just wishful thinking though, the genius, of course, honed in on his words and narrowed his eyes.

“Keep this in mind class. The intensity of the memory you use is entirely subjective. Even if you do not possess a memory strong enough, one can still produce a Patronus by focusing all their emotions on that memory. That is actually how I succeeded.” He looked wistfully at the stag once more.

“That’s all for today, but I want you to begin thinking about what memory you should use when we start practicing the charm. It’s important that you know every aspect of that memory intimately so that you can pull out the strongest possible emotions from it. I suggest meditation.”

The students began to file out the door, gibbering excitedly about the charm and speculations on what their animal might be. Harry noticed that Tom had sent his Slytherin peers ahead, while he lingered inside the room. He glared at the boy, indicating that talking to him was the last thing he wanted to do.

Then Dumbledore entered the room.

Harry changed his mind, talking to Tom was the second last thing he wanted to do.

Chapter Text

Dumbledore was smiling genially while also barring the exit in an annoyingly insistent manor. Harry finally looked up from his things and allowed his eyes to land on the future Headmaster’s own.

“Harrison, I don’t believe we’ve had the pleasure of formally meeting. I was wondering if you’d be willing to talk, perhaps over tea.”

Tom openly sneered from behind the Professor, uncaring if Harry saw his expression. He felt no need to mask his aversion to the auburn haired man. He was irritatingly persistent and even after five years of perfect behavior, still felt the need to watch his every step. Dumbledore had made certain aspects of his school life especially difficult.

“Unfortunately, Professor Dumbledore, I find myself with too little time to allow for such frivolities.” Harry spoke through gritted teeth making Dumbledore frown. Tom forced himself not to laugh at the display. Perhaps Dumbledore had been just as irritating in the distant future.

“Yes, of course my boy. I noticed you don’t attend meals very often, is there any reason why? It really is part of the experience and I would hate for you to miss out.” The Professor's tone sounded patronizing. He spoke as though he was scolding a small child. Tom hated it, and if the sudden twitch in his eye was any indication, Harry despised it as well.

Tom watched with no small amount of caution. He could feel Harry’s magic roiling beneath the surface, bubbling forth as the man barely held it back. Dumbledore was poking a sleeping dragon and Tom wasn’t sure if even knowledge of the future would hold the man back from lashing out.

Dumbledore was continuing with his thinly veiled interrogation as Harry was becoming more and more antsy. He had to step in lest the man get himself arrested.

“I’m sorry Professor,” Tom spoke, savoring the surprise Dumbledore showed at his sudden appearance. “Mr. Evans had promised several of the students that he would host a dueling club of sorts.” Tom just barely stopped himself from smirking at Harry’s change in demeanor. In less than a second the man had gone from intense irritation to badly disguised suspicion.

‘Good. His attention should always be on me.’

“The students have been talking about his unique dueling skills and even those not taking his class have expressed an interest in learning from him, so I’m afraid we’ll be occupying most of his time.”

Dumbledore pressed his lips together. It was obvious that he did not like the idea Tom was describing, but at this point he had no excuse to hinder them. Tom intended to ensure that the meddling Professor would be unable to interfere.

“Of course Mr. Riddle.” Dumbledore visibly gathered his composure and turned back towards Harry. “Perhaps we can speak another time Harrison, my boy.”

“Perhaps,” Harry choked out the word, eyes narrowed. “Goodbye Professor.” Dumbledore smiled at Harry’s hostility and finally left the room.

Tom hadn’t planned the events, but they certainly worked to his advantage. Now Harry would be obligated to actually form a dueling club, one with students that Tom would personally hand pick.

He knew he couldn’t match Harry in a head on match, but Tom was a Slytherin, the ultimate Slytherin. He would slowly tighten the noose around the man, carefully moving his pieces about until Harry had no choice but to come to him. No choice but to be his.

 

-break-

 

Harry remained silent for another moment. Riddle was studying him carefully.

He knew that he had just been forced to participate in one of the boy’s schemes. Harry wasn’t sure if he would have rather dealt with Dumbledore now. He was still trying to relax his clenched fists. Harry had been close to ripping out the throat of his former mentor, that certainly would have put a crimp in his plans, but hell would sooner freeze over before he thanked Riddle, and the worst part was that the boy knew exactly how to take advantage of that.

Harry turned sharply back towards his desk, picked up his things, and exited the classroom knowing the teen would follow him.

“I’ll send you a list of attending students and meeting times.” His face was neutral but Harry could hear the smirk in his voice.

“What makes you think I’ll just go along with this plan of yours?” Harry could tell that Riddle had been anticipating that question.

“Because Harry, if you don’t I shall personally tell Dumbledore of my great disappointment in the sudden cancellation of the club.”

Harry noticed the strange way Riddle would say his name. It was like he was tasting the syllables. It gave him chills.

Without even realizing it Harry ended up on the seventh floor in the corridor of the Room of Requirement. He would always train in the room after class, but he wasn’t willing to reveal such a useful secret to Riddle. Not yet anyways, maybe when he was desperate. His knowledge of the school seemed to be his only useful bargaining chip. He stopped abruptly and turned towards his tag-along.

“Where exactly would this club be?”

Riddle dropped the pretense and grinned maliciously. “Harry, you of all people should know that Hogwarts has a multitude of empty classrooms. I’m certain I can find one to host our new club.”

Harry breathed in deeply as he tried to reign in his quickly disappearing patience. “Mr. Riddle,” he spat out the name. “What exactly do you expect me to teach you that cannot be learned in my regularly scheduled classes?”

Riddle merely raised an eyebrow at the question, apparently not willing to dignify it with a response. Harry could already guess the type of people that would populate the ‘club.’ If he let the teen chose what students attended he would probably end up hosting Death Eater meetings, Knights of Walpurgis, whatever they were called!

'Wouldn't that be fun? I could bring little snacks and everything! Before every training session we could even trade stories about our latest kills!' Harry resisted the urge to bang his head on a nearby wall.

Suddenly, he was struck with the most brilliant solution to the budding problem. Obviously Tom had something planned for the club, but he was a fool if he believed Harry would just go along with it quietly.

“Fine, I’ll host your club. I’ll even teach your Slytherins how to be even better killers.” Tom’s face remained neutral at the accusation, but he seemed intrigued by Harry’s sudden willingness. “You have three days to find a suitable room. It must have several heavy enchantments that will dampen the effects of what goes on inside as well as conceals it from outsiders.”

Harry could tell that Riddle had already caught on to why this would be necessary. The teen even smirked at what he perceived to be a small victory.

Still too cocky.

“However,” Harry leveled the boy with a glare. “If you are unable to find such a room within the time limit, one that could withstand even the likes of me, then I will choose the room. After all, I of all people know of such rooms.” The last phrase was said venomously and unfortunately piqued the boys interest yet again.

“Yes, and I am looking forward to you sharing your knowledge of said rooms.” Harry frowned. He was not looking forward to that confrontation and he knew the Slytherin was nothing if not persistent, especially in the future.

“Curiosity killed the cat Tom.”

“But satisfaction brought it back Harry.”

Harry grit his teeth savagely, at this rate they would be down to nothing by the end of the year. He generally had more composure, but Tom Riddle was able to irritate him in a way even Dumbledore could never hope to achieve.

“The first meeting will be at the end of the week. Spread the word.” With that firm dismissal Harry left. There would be no training in the Room of Requirement today. In fact, after everything that happened, Harry thought he deserved a drink.

 

-break-

 

Tom returned to the Slytherin dorms with a smug sense of satisfaction. He could use this. There was no doubt that the stubborn man would bring his own form of resistance later, but Tom was confident he could use the situation to his advantage.

“Avery,” the name was softly spoken but still the student's head snapped to attention. “Gather the others.”

The order was succinct and contained no unnecessary detail. He could see Avery’s burning curiosity even as he rushed to do his Lord’s bidding.

He was at the top of the Slytherin hierarchy. Tom had fought tooth and nail to establish himself as the leader of the snakes. He had displayed his power, his cunning, his ruthlessness to anyone that questioned him and it had paid off. Despite his heritage, Tom was on his way to becoming a force in the political scene as well. Everything was as it should be.

Harry had said that Tom would fail in his goals, that he would lose everything he held dear and die by his hand.

The very thought made him flush with rage.

The students in the common room felt his angry magic and stiffened. Tom immediately reigned in his emotions and continued to stare into the fireplace.

The man knew many things, including a means of becoming immortal. Tom quickly analyzed the memory of their previous confrontations in his head, swiftly going over all the clues Harry had dropped. He was particularly interested in one phrase.

“If you do not give up your sanity out of fear of death, there is no doubt in my mind that you can succeed.”

Tom deduced that whatever means of immortality he ended up using had the unintended side effect of making him lose his sanity. Harry had heavily implied that it would be his downfall and even he couldn't lie to Tom.

He watched silently as his Knights took their seats around him. His stare was apparently unnerving even to those who knew him fairly well. So of course he used it often.

“There has been a new development,” he said. His voice was always calm and detached when amongst his snakes. They were loyal to him, he had made sure of it, but they could also scent weakness. “You will all be attending the dueling club this Friday after class.” His tone allowed for no argument. They would have to make time.

They remained silent to process what he had just said. It was amusing to watch the gears turn in their heads as they tried to pick apart all the parts of the statement.

“But—there is no dueling club.” Ah Orion, so careless with that mouth of his, and the rest were content to watch him flounder as Tom leveled him with a penetrating gaze.

“There is now,” he said with a smirk. “And it is hosted by none other than our dear Assistant Professor, so I expect everyone to be on their best behavior.” Tom glared at each of them individually to ensure that he had made his point clear. He didn’t want anyone getting any ideas. He knew Harry would use any excuse to weasel out of teaching them and Tom would not let his Knights give him that excuse.

Now all he needed was the perfect room.

 

-break-

 

A man sat regally upon a throne. He was charming. His wavy blonde hair had a disarming appearance, but his eyes were sharp and intense, betraying his barely controlled temper. There were three men before him currently suffering under the after effects of the Crutiatus curse.

“Tell me again. What exactly went wrong?” The middle aged man crossed his legs as he waited for the answer.

“We—we encountered resistance, my Lord.” The man watched as his follower braced himself for another curse. As much as he wanted to indulge, he needed answers. He had expected resistance, that was why he had sent his most elite followers, and still they had returned with critical injuries, scuttling back home with their tails between their legs. Pathetic. Some of them had yet to awaken.

“He was m-more than we could have anticipated, my Lord.” He narrowed his eyes at that. He had received the same story from the others as well. Apparently, the mission had been going well until a ‘strange young man’ had interfered and made his Reapers look like children.

One person had bested some of his most elite Reapers. He could understand a group, perhaps even the Aurors. But no, it was one person that had disgraced his entire force.

He grumbled under his breath. There should not be anyone that powerful besides Albus. It would not have surprised him if they had encountered the Professor, he had even given them instructions for that outcome, but instead they had been defeated by one who was practically a child.

An unknown.

“Find out everything you can about this boy. I want to know everything there is to know about him, and make sure he remains under surveillance. Now, get out of my sight!”

He sneered as the supposedly elite Reapers scurried away. He did not like dealing with unknowns, but soon this newcomer would no longer be such.

Gellert Grindelwald’s plans were quickly coming together.

Chapter Text

Harry was flying.

It had been months since he had flown. If he had tried in the future, wizards, both Light and Dark, would have descended upon him like a pack of bloody vultures.

But now he was unknown. And if anyone happened to spot the shimmer of his Disillusionment spell as he rocketed through the sky, they were more likely to ask questions before shooting.

It was the most freedom he had experienced in a long time, possibly his entire life.

Harry swooped down on his Firebolt, conveniently brought forth from the pouch he always carried, letting the chilly air bite his skin mercilessly before leveling off and circling the towers in a graceful loop. He took a deep breath and sighed. It was odd, but somehow he had always felt safest hundreds of feet above the ground.

It had been two days since he had issued his challenge to young Tom Riddle. He had until midnight tomorrow to present a suitable room.

Harry snickered. He had been a little cruel in his demands, but Riddle had underestimated him again and hopefully now he would learn not to do that. Harry had told him that the room must be able to withstand his magic, but also prevent those on the outside from being effected. Essentially he was asking for a room with wards strong enough to contain every trace of his magic.

Harry knew for a fact that there were only a few such rooms in Hogwarts, all of which were extremely difficult to find without help. Maybe, Tom would take his advice and ask a house elf, but somehow Harry doubted it. The boy was still a long way from openly accepting help.

‘Wait, what am I doing? It’s not my job to reform Tom Riddle.’

Harry shuddered at that thought and flew towards the Quidditch pitch. It was such a simple thing, Quidditch. There was conflict yes, people always managed to get into fights over the pettiest of things, but even now Harry loved the sport. The rivalries derived from Quidditch always pushed the players to become better, to practice harder.

He smiled sadly. It was a pity so many people had to learn that sort of motivation through the war instead. It wasn’t nearly as forgiving as the sport. He and Draco were the perfect examples.

Harry wondered briefly how the young blonde was doing. He looked almost identical to his grandfather Abraxas, but their personalities were wildly different. Draco had been just as pompous, just as annoyingly entitled, but the difference was that Draco had grown out of it.

It was during the war that Draco had finally matured; he had been forced to. When confronted with a choice, Draco Malfoy had chosen the winning side, unlike his father. Voldemort was tearing apart the Malfoy family and Draco had done what almost no one else had the guts to do. He had defied the Dark Lord.

Harry smiled genuinely at the memory. Draco was probably one of the only people he would truly miss. He hoped that the boy would be better off now.

But enough reminiscing, Harry had enough of living for ghosts. No matter what schemes Riddle planned to suck him into, Harry would live for no one but himself.

 

-break-

 

Tom was angry. The Slytherins could feel it simmering beneath the surface of his skin. Even his Knights were giving him a wide berth.

Tom had spent the last two days searching every nook and cranny of the castle for a room with wards powerful enough for that cursed man.

He had underestimated him. Tom was willing to admit it within the privacy of his own mind, but it still made his blood boil.

The man knew. When he had given his innocent sounding conditions, Tom had seen the barest hint of a smirk on his face, like the man was enjoying a secret joke.

Tom had become that joke, and he was not happy.

It wasn’t that there weren’t any empty classrooms suitable for a dueling club, it was that none of them had wards powerful enough to prevent another incident like before.

When Tom’s magic had mixed with Harry’s it had created something wholly different from the mundane forms of magic practiced within the school. It had been fierce, volatile, and had knocked out most of the student body.

Dumbledore had already begun investigating. Even if he had no proof, Tom knew he suspected him and possibly Harry as well. Tom absolutely refused to give him extra ammo.

And that meant the room must be all but impenetrable. The only place he had found that fit that man’s conditions was the Chamber of Secrets and it was not an option. That place was his and he would not share it with anyone, even his Knights.

Tom studied the ancient wards protecting the Chamber, they were a fascinating combination of ingenious runes and complex arithmantic arrangements. He knew he could replicate them if he had enough time, but unfortunately there was none. The deadline was tomorrow and he could almost hear that wretched man laughing.

The young Dark Lord halted his thought process as Lestrange walked into direct view and stood before him, blocking the light from the fireplace. It made his face look gaunt as his eyes bulged in fear. He had hoped that the boy would follow his better instincts and leave, but there he stood, stubbornly waiting to be acknowledged.

Tom had felt his presence ages ago when he was apparently lingering on the edges of his eyesight, trying to get his attention while at the same time being unobtrusive enough to avoid his wrath. It didn’t work.

“Yes Lestrange, you have of course brought me news of great import because otherwise you would not dare to approach me this evening when I am so obviously adverse to company. Speak Lestrange I am waiting.” Tom’s voice was deceptively calm, sweet even.

Lestrange paled further and broke into a cold sweat. He cast a silencing spell watching as the other flinched at the sight of the wand. While Tom was mildly amused by his antics, there would be serious consequences if the boy did not begin soon.

“M-my Lord, me—and the others as well, would like to express our… concern.” The boy tripped over the words, his jaw flapping like a fish out of water.

“Concern,” Tom spoke lowly, narrowing his eyes, daring his follower to continue.

“Yes my Lord,” Lestrange bobbed his head foolishly, mistaking the warning for encouragement. “The assistant—Evans—you are obsessed. Please my Lord, he may be above average in terms of power, but he is a mere mudblood. No one worthy of influencing your mood in such a way.”

Lestrange finished his speech and awaited his Lord’s answer. He had been nervous when he approached, but as his Lord’s unofficial right-hand man he was expected to voice the concerns of the others, lest he lose his position amongst them. Luckily, Tom appeared to be receptive.

Then something unexpected happened. Tom threw back his head and laughed.

It was not a warm laugh, or even a happy laugh. It was cold and malicious and it gave Lestrange chills.

He lifted his gaze from the floor and got caught in the unfathomable depths of Tom Riddle’s eyes. They were stormy grey now, and sharp as a blade. Lestrange realized his mistake too late.

“Above average, Lestrange? Is that what you believe? That the man that was noticed by your Lord is merely above average?” Tom laughed because it was funny, truly. He had noticed his growing obsession, but he did not realize how pathetically thick even those in his Inner Circle could be.

‘It is laughable how many resources are wasted just because these foolish purebloods can’t fathom their value.’

Harry’s behavior concerning pureblood tradition was suddenly far more empathetic. The man had likely spent his entire life jumping through hoops to appease fools. Then again, that man was far more likely to simply ignore them and provoke retaliation.

The whole situation only reminded Tom of just how important his work was. The wizarding world could not be allowed to remain this way. They would not stoop to the level of muggles with their foolish prejudice. No, in Tom’s world the strong would rule. The power of one’s magic would rule, not be ridiculed for nonsensical reasons.

Tom finally looked back at Lestrange, who looked practically petrified with fear. As delightful as that was, a point needed to be made.

“Follow me Lestrange.”

Tom stood, tearing down the silencing charm, and headed to the dorms. He did not look back. Lestrange would follow him even knowing, dreading what was to happen.

The door was closed and sealed with additional charms. Those on the outside knew not to enter while Tom was… disciplining his followers.

Lestrange kneeled without prompting. He had stopped shaking and instead looked solemn and resigned.

“You are aware of why you are being punished?” The question was asked lightly, while Tom absentmindedly twirled his yew wand between his fingers. Lestrange followed the movement and readied himself.

“For questioning the judgment of my Lord,” Lestrange hung his head in shame. He was loyal this one, for that alone he would show mercy.

“Correct, Igni Cruor.”

 

-break-

 

The next day of classes came and went as usual. They had been outside for Defense today. Harry had taken the liberty of transfiguring the ground into a wide plot of sand. Even standing still was twice as hard, it made for some interesting spars.

Harry dismissed the class and waited for Tom to remain behind, as usual, but what wasn’t usual was the foul mood that Tom had been in for the entire day. Seeing Harry standing there smugly, knowingly, only made him scowl further.

Harry smirked at the unspoken admission. Tom had lost this one. He would not have the benefit of a home field advantage. Harry would be surrounded by his people but his people would be surrounded by Harry’s room.

“Tell anyone who’s participating to come to the end of the fourth corridor on the fifth floor at exactly 5pm.” The confusion Tom felt only barely dented his rage.

“That's a dead end. There’s nothing there.”

“There will be at precisely 5pm this Friday.”

Harry could tell that it was taking all of Tom’s self-control not to curse him where he stood. For his sake, Harry resisted smirking again. But Tom would have to get used to the idea of losing because Harry wasn’t nearly done yet.

Tom had assumed that Harry was merely a highly experienced Gryffindor. Strong, lethal when necessary, but lacking the subtlety needed to deal with the heir of Slytherin. What he didn’t know was that Harry had almost been a Slytherin, and during the war he had been forced to accept it.

Wars were no longer two armies standing on either side of a battle field, slowly advancing forwards. No, during this time period especially, things had changed. And as a leader, Harry had changed with them.

He hated it, but it was true and he had learned to accept it. It was about time Tom Riddle accepted it too or he was in for a lot more disappointments.

 

-break-

 

Tom was thoroughly irritated. Harry Potter seemed to have that effect on him. Admitting that he had underestimated the man had been like sucking a lemon, but admitting that Harry might be able to play with him on equal ground was another thing entirely.

Harry could easily kill him. That was easy enough to acknowledge, but so could Dumbledore if he tried hard enough. Tom had simply made sure killing him would bring about unpleasant consequences that neither would want to deal with. In the meantime though, he studied relentlessly, training his magic until he would not be so easily killed.

Harry had thrown a wrench in his whole system.

It was unsettling. Harry was quickly becoming an uncertainty, something he should want to be rid of, but instead he found himself even more drawn to the man.

Tom would be worried if he hadn’t noticed that Harry was reacting the same way to his presence, perhaps even unknowingly.

Tom wondered if it was their magics that were pushing them together. He had been aware of the compatibility, but he hadn’t really taken the time to consider what the effects would be. And Harry was such an unknown that even Tom had trouble predicting him.

Tom curled his lips in a sneer. He would not allow for such weakness. If Harry derailed his plans he would just make more. If Harry resisted and lashed out then he would as well. Each time Harry displayed some of his true power, the real core of him as a person, Tom would be waiting, ready to soak up the knowledge and store it away. Eventually he would know everything about him. Everything.

And by then Harry would be his.

Tom stood from the chair in the common room and motioned for his Knights to follow behind him. It was only them that were coming this time; depending on how things went he would consider inviting others. They arrived at a bare wall at 4:57.

While his snakes shifted uncomfortably, wondering why their Lord had stopped inside an empty corridor, Tom fought the urge to tap his foot impatiently as the seconds ticked by.

At exactly 5 o’clock a door did indeed appear, startling the Slytherins out of their reverie. It was not a particularly interesting door, in fact, it looked like all the other doors in the castle. What made it interesting was the fact that it had appeared exactly when and where Harry had said it would. That made it worth further study.

For now though, Tom reached forward and turned the iron handle of the wooden door revealing a room that even he could not have anticipated.

“Welcome to the Come and Go Room.”

 

-break-

 

Harry snickered at their reactions. He could tell Tom was struggling to keep several questions to himself. If it were not so condescending, Harry would have applauded his restraint for it was far better than his own.

The Slytherins were exploring the Room of Requirement, what they knew as the Come and Go Room. Harry had made it look similar to the Room he would normally train in.

There was a large dueling platform dominating the center of the room. Around it, though, were several training dummies, all of which were capable of very high levels of combat. There was also a small weight training area with a few muggle contraptions that surely baffled the sheltered purebloods. What was the highlight of the room though, was the large panels of enchanted glass completely covering the south wall, giving the room access to natural light while also providing a perfect one-way view of the Quidditch pitch.

Add to that the extensive warding system that hid all inside activity and it was the perfect room.

Harry had wrestled with the decision to reveal the Room of Requirement. It was a place he spent a lot of his time in and he didn’t want to give Riddle access to that. But he had discovered long ago that one could open entrances to the Room almost anywhere in the castle. The difference was that these entrances could only be opened from the inside and anyone entering the Room from one of those entrances could not change its appearance.

It was brilliant and to be honest Harry was quite proud of himself for having come up with it. This way the dueling club would have access to the Room while he retained full control of it.

Tom would probably realize that pretty soon.

“Welcome Slytherins. This is just a little place I discovered, but it will suit our purposes. So, I am assuming that Mr. Riddle informed you that this is a dueling club.” The group finally snapped to attention and nodded firmly at varying speeds. It really was terrifying, Tom’s ability to break down his followers and create a hive mind of sorts. Even in the future, Voldemort’s Death Eaters seemed to lose a fair bit of their individuality when they joined him.

Harry held back a shudder. He would never let that happen to himself.

“What he probably didn’t tell you is that I am going to be attempting to go beyond what I teach in class. Seeing as I already teach it there, there’s not much sense in me teaching it here as well. Instead, we’ll focus on things outside of the curriculum.”

Tom’s eyes narrowed. He was probably starting to suspect that Harry was planning something, which he was. He may be hosting a meeting of baby Death Eaters, but he was going to do it his way.

“Why don’t you all introduce yourselves to me.” They looked around hesitantly before one stepped forward.

“Silvus Lestrange. Pureblood heir of the Ancient and Noble house of Lestrange.”

“Abraxas Malfoy, pureblood heir of the Ancient and Noble house of Malfoy.”

“Orion Black, pureblood heir of the Ancient and Noble house of Black.”

“Elias Nott, of the Ancient and Noble house of Nott. Pureblood as well.”

“Maen Prince, of the Ancient and Noble house of Prince, pleasure.”

“Kanus Avery. Pureblood heir of the Ancient and Noble house of Avery.”

Harry turned towards Tom expectantly, who in response stared back coldly. Harry knew Tom would never freely admit his own blood status just as well as he would not reveal his relationship to Slytherin this early either. Harry was more interested in how he would react.

“And Mr. Evans knows me well enough. Now that we’re through with introductions, what will we be learning first?” And just like that the matter was swept under the rug. Harry was truly impressed with Tom’s ability to simply deny half his heritage.

“Well, Mr. Riddle,” somehow the others had been forgotten, because Harry and Tom were facing each other off. “When you first approached me with the idea of a dueling club, I struggled to think of material that is beyond the curriculum, but also useful for real world application. As far as I know, every member of this group is competent in their spellwork, the only real areas that need improving are your stamina and experience.

“My first idea was to just have all of you duel me constantly until the proper muscle memory was carved into your bodies, but I decided to use another method.” The Slytherins all breathed quiet sighs of relief. Tom merely raised an eyebrow.

“Since this group is still rather small I thought it would be beneficial if you all dueled me one on one at first so that we can iron out the weaknesses in your individual styles. So, with that in mind, who would like to go first?”

 

-break-

 

Less than an hour later everyone was laid out on the ground, secretly, overwhelmingly grateful to the Room which could somehow provide towels and beds at Evans' command. Everyone except Harry of course, who remained on his feet ginning cheekily at the exhausted club members.

Tom knew he was powerful, but the extended spars also had the benefit of showcasing his strategic flexibility as well.

Abraxas had gone first, eager of prove their previous duel had been a mere fluke. Unlike the first time, Harry actually took him seriously, drawing out the fight to teach rather than to humiliate.

He did the same for the others, shouting out suggestions and corrections, until finally it was Tom’s turn to duel. He could feel that it was not a fluke that Harry had allowed him to go last. All logic dictated that Harry should be tired by that point, his tactics revealed and studied. Instead, Harry had proved that he was more than capable of changing up his fighting style, changing his repertoire entirely.

Tom had tentatively used some Dark spells knowing the room would prevent their detection, and Harry had countered them all with the brutal efficiency of one that was intimately familiar with such Dark magics.

That time the man had been careful not to show his true strength. Instead of their allowing his magic to flare out and mingle with Tom’s own, Harry had kept it tightly restrained even as Tom began pushing his limits, prodding the man's magic with his own. Tom could tell that the strain of doing so had tired him more than any of the other duels combined. Harry’s magic clearly did not like being restrained.

Much like the man himself.

“I hope this experience has made it clear that I will not coddle you.” Tom looked up from his less than elegant position on the floor. The other Slytherins listened as well, sucked into the unconscious charisma that the man exuded without even trying.

“If I give you a correction I expect you to use it. Do not come back and make the same mistakes you made last time. If you can’t handle that then don’t come back at all.” Tom inwardly smirked at all the feathers Harry had ruffled with that statement. Of course, the purebloods were still reluctant to implement a style that ran directly counter to everything they had learned their entire lives, doing so would be like admitting their own family practices were obsolete.

But Tom saw it for what it really was. Harry was thinning the ranks. He had agreed to teaching his Inner Circle, but obviously he was not going to make it easy for them, and if they happened to give up somewhere along the way then it was no fault of his.

It was cunning, but more importantly it was subtle.

Harry had been fair in his critique, making it so that if anyone left it was due to their own obstinacy and inability to learn. Tom could not accuse him of bullying the others into leaving.

As brilliant as it was, it was still an open challenge. That fact was what had Tom remain even as his Knights trailed out the now reappearing door.

He stood before Harry, his muscles taught, eyes coldly meeting the challenge. Harry smiled as innocently as possible, but Tom could still detect the mischief dancing in his green eyes.

“Oh, by the way Tom, I mentioned this club to a few Gryffindors and they all sounded very interested. I’m sure you and your Slytherins wouldn’t mind some additional company, and the room can certainly accommodate it.”

And there it was. The final blow, the verbal equivalent of a slap to the face. Tom clenched his hands, his emotions were whirling.

Then he abruptly calmed and sent Harry a smile so serenely disarming that he couldn’t help but be suspicious.

“Indeed. I always look forward to any opportunities to gain new companions. I’m sure we will all benefit from the introduction.”

Translation: You are just giving me more pawns to convert to my cause and your training will ensure their usefulness.

Harry’s smile stayed defiantly in place, now slightly strained.

It seemed their game was not over yet.

Chapter Text

Abraxas entered the Great Hall with his usual Malfoy flourish: a bold, yet casual strut that both assumed and implied superiority. His expression was schooled into one of indifference even as he lowered himself into the seat across from Tom’s own.

He had once been seated to his Lord’s left, a seat bestowed only to his most trusted and reliable, but that farce of a match with that filthy mudblood Evans had been enough to make him lose his implicit standing amongst the circle. The honor of the seat that had once been his had been carelessly bestowed upon the fool Orion Black, while the right remained Lestrange’s.

Abraxas would have screamed in frustration had it not been beneath him. Lately, the entire power structure had been unbalanced and it was entirely the fault of Harrison Evans.

He could see the man’s skills in dueling. It was no secret he was decently powerful, but that was it. What he could not understand was the sudden interest Tom had taken in the mudblood.

As much as he respected his Lord and would never speak this aloud, it was frankly ridiculous the way he chased around the new assistant. He left the common room to follow him, stayed after class to speak with him almost every day, inquired about him at every turn. It was madness.

The worst part was that Tom himself seemed to be unaware of some of his behavior.

The Knights of Walpurgis had gathered to speak of their Lord’s recent… distraction, and they had decided that as his right hand, Silvus should be the one to speak to him.

It hadn’t gone well.

When they had seen Silvus being taken to the dorms by their Lord, they knew not to follow, and when he returned he had been unwilling to tell anyone what happened.

So they were back to the original problem and it only seemed to be getting worse.

Now they were forced to attend some ‘dueling club,’ if one could call it that, with the man. Abraxas didn’t feel like he learned anything from that last session, in which Evans had taken great pleasure in blowing through his Lord’s entire Inner Circle as well as the few Gryffindors that had decided to tag along.

"Style over substance may look better Malfoy, but the extra time you take to make yourself look good will be the death of you." It was at that point that Abraxas was seriously considering disobeying the direct order of his Lord. If it meant spending another second in the presence of that man then the consequences might be worth it.

But of course, he didn't, because above all else a Malfoy has a keen sense of self preservation and as much as he hated it Harrison Evans currently had Tom's favor.

He supposed that alone should be indicative of the man’s ability, but Abraxas stood by the belief that Evans could be felled by anyone given proper preparation. He really wasn’t someone worth worrying about.

Especially, not their Lord.

Regardless, the man had somehow gotten Tom’s attention, which meant that Abraxas was aware of his presence by default, and apparently the man had finally decided to end his isolation within the castle and eat dinner inside the Hall alongside everyone else.

Abraxas had also noticed that Tom’s eyes had locked onto Evans’ form when he entered. Even now he was sending him discreet glances, while Evans himself seemed to be trying to look anywhere but the Slytherin table.

Abraxas wanted to tear out his pristine hair, he wasn’t sure how much more of this he could take.

 

-break-

 

The Great Hall was just as ‘great’ as he remembered it.

On some level, Harry was glad he was finally replacing the images of destruction,

tables strewn about and bodies mangled beneath piles of rubble

with something more positive. He had done a great job avoiding the Slytherins in general so far, there was no way to be sure just how far Tom’s influence reached, but Slughorn was not one to be deterred.

Despite numerous attempts to redirect the conversation, the bumbling potions Master was persistent in speaking about his own House, and inevitably Tom Riddle.

“Yes I’ve heard great things about you Harrison. From my own Slytherins especially, and they’re quite discerning. In fact, even young Tom Riddle had some praise to give. You know Tom of course, brilliant student, yes, he’s destined for great things.”

Harry was suddenly reminded of his first conversation with Ollivander, when the strange old man had given him the brother wand of his parents’ murderer. “I think we must expect great things from you Mr. Potter…after all, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did great things — terrible, yes, but great.”

Harry didn’t want to think about that. He didn’t want to think about how close he came to becoming Voldemort, but most of all he did not want to think about Tom Riddle.

“I think your students are over exaggerating. I haven’t done anything other than teach them a few dueling tricks I know. Professor Merrythought was the basis for their entire Defense education so I really can’t take credit for that.” Harry hoped beyond hope that he would leave it there, but Horace Slughorn was not one to be deterred.

“Nonsense,” he waved his hand, as if to dispel Harry attempts at modesty. “You’re selling yourself short Harrison. If there’s one thing my Slytherins don’t do, it’s exaggerate. Particularly young Tom, if he says you’re the most brilliant Defense Professor Hogwarts has ever seen, then I’m inclined to believe him.”

‘That bastard said what!?’

Tom was evidently still angry about the dueling club debacle because he had taken Harry’s sincere wish for anonymity and stomped it into the floor. What exactly, has he been telling the Professors? Or worse, the students?

“Yes, Tom’s got quite a sharp eye,” Harry wanted to bang his head against the table. “Always surrounds himself with the best and brightest, much like myself. If he’s taken notice of you then you must be something worth noticing.

“Speaking of which, I host a small gathering of some of the more impressive students. Young Tom is a member, of course, and he suggested I should invite you to my little Slug Club.”

‘Oh hell no!’

“Apologies Professor, but my schedule is rather hectic—“

“Oh yes, Tom had mentioned you were rather shy. Don’t worry Harrison, I’ve taken the liberty of scheduling the next Slug Club meeting around Hogwarts new dueling club, so there’s no reason for you not to go!”

Slughorn laughed merrily, while Harry focused on drinking his pumpkin juice so as to avoid strangling the blowhard.

‘Damn that child, damn him’

Harry had underestimated just how much influence Tom Riddle had. A few words here and there and suddenly he was invited to a gathering of some of the most influential members of wizarding society. Him, someone with no reputation to speak of!

And he couldn’t just skip it either. He knew from experience how badly that would come across and Slughorn was practically a blood hound when it came to these things.

When Harry had made the decision to eat dinner the Great Hall he had been expecting a few whispers, some obvious glances, before the novelty faded and the incident blew over after a few days. Unfortunately, it seemed Tom was not content to let him remain in obscurity.

It wasn’t like he could lower the quality of his classes. For Merlin’s sake, he had barely done anything at all and people were still noticing him.

Harry grit his teeth and stabbed his fork in the food on his plate, slicing it up with vicious and pointed movements. He had to find relief somewhere.

 

-break-

 

Tom wanted to burst out laughing when he saw Slughorn descend upon the illusive Mr. Evans. Instead, he settled for smirking with an obvious air of satisfaction.

It was absurd how much he could make people do with just a few phrases, and Slughorn in particular seemed to hang on his every word. As annoying as the man was, he was also incredibly useful.

Slughorn’s habit of collecting the most impressive and influential students had allowed him to rapidly expand his network of contacts within his Slug Club meetings. The man himself, although he didn’t advertise it, also had a rather vast knowledge of certain Dark magics.

Yes, the rather foolish Potions Master had his uses, and for now that consisted of dragging Harry out of the shadows.

Tom’s gaze strayed back towards the staff table, as it had been all evening, to notice Harry trying to make a quick escape.

He turned over the benefits of following him in his head, but then Harry actually allowed their eyes to meet for the first time in days and Tom found that decision made for him. He was just too curious of what the man would do this time.

At some point, Tom had begun to enjoy their dance. His moves were far more subtle, holding a cunning that could only come from a genius such as himself, but Harry had proven himself more than capable of subtlety. Harry could return Tom’s moves with just as much finesse.

At first it had disturbed him, that someone, who had apparently killed him, could possibly be his equal in every sense of the word. Now though, Tom reveled in it, and Harry had yet to do anything to turn away this interest, so Tom had settled for pulling everything he could out of the man.

And that meant following him out of the Great Hall.

Tom managed to slip out the exit just in time to cut off Harry’s desperate attempt at escape. He was expecting a murderous look, maybe even an annoyed one, instead he was graced with an indifferent dismissal.

Harry glanced at him emotionlessly before walking past without another thought.

If that man knew Tom in the future as well as he suspected then he knew that ignoring him was an even greater infraction than interrupting him. Tom would have been impressed that someone who usually wore his emotions on his sleeve managed to school his face so well. That is, if he wasn’t so irritated.

On impulse, Tom allowed his skin to brush against the bare arm of Harry’s.

The reaction was instant. Harry tripped over his own feet, flinching violently but still desperately, deliciously trying to remain nonchalant.

Tom held back a predatory grin. He had just found his edge.

He then proceed to walk alongside Harry, prattling about all manner of inane topics, while Harry did his absolute best to remain stoic and uninvested. During their one-sided conversation Tom had ‘accidentally’ brushed up against Harry another three times, once even casually grabbing his shoulder. Each time Harry’s reaction had been priceless.

It was amazing how easily flustered the former war veteran was. Each time Tom had eagerly watched, studying the way his breath would hitch and the man would lose his train of thought, allowing Tom to direct the conversation.

All in all, it had been his most successful means of powerplay so far, especially because Harry seemed to remain oblivious to the reason for his sudden discomfort.

Tom generally refrained from touching people. He found it a sickening means of comfort for the weaker members of society. Harry apparently had a similar aversion, likely for different reasons then his own.

Abuse, perhaps? He would have to find a way make Harry spill his secrets. The man was probably just as bad at shielding his mind as he was his emotions, thus all it would take is a few moments of eye contact.

Unfortunately, Harry seemed to be aware of his status as a master Legilimens and stubbornly avoided eye contact. The only times Tom had successfully managed to force the connection was when the man was angry and even then it only lasted for a second.

Harry’s emotions seemed to be the key to unraveling him. Tom just needed to know which strings to pluck. So far he had done a good job of rattling him, distracting his thoughts long enough for him to let his guard down, but what he really needed was to drag Harry out into the open.

The conversation with Lestrange, as annoying as it was, also informed him of a certain fact.

Harry came off as average to everyone but him.

He knew it was on purpose, but even knowing some of the man’s past he couldn’t fathom why anyone would hide their power.

Harry was afraid of being perceived as a hero, of the expectations the lazy and desperate masses would heap on him.

Tom needed to show him that he was capable of much more than being a scapegoat. He needed Harry to see him as an ally, one that he couldn’t part from.

Tom smiled at the sudden rush of possessiveness he felt. He didn’t care anymore. Harry was powerful and cunning enough to be his equal. He was even a Parseltongue, that alone was proof. Harry was his.

Now he just needed him to accept it.

 

-break-

 

Harry knew that Tom Riddle would follow him the second he allowed their eyes to meet. It was unsettling how much hunger he could see in the teen’s eyes, plenty of smug glee and amusement, but it was the hunger that had him on edge.

In the future their roles had always been clear, easily defined by the sides they had taken. Harry was the hero, people said, and every hero needs a villain. Voldemort had been set up to play that part long before he had ever had a choice the matter.

He knew that he was changing things just by existing in this time, even more so by being directly involved with some of the key figures of some major future events. Honestly, he was okay with that. The future he had come from hadn’t exactly been a happy one and after the things he had seen, been forced to participate in, Harry was more than happy to watch that future burn.

No, he wasn’t worried about the future changing. What he was worried about was Tom Riddle’s insistence on interfering in his new life.

Harry had been hoping that after showing that he wasn’t someone that could be pushed around, the little Dark Lord would back off, but no. If anything that had only increased his annoyingly persistent attempts to approach.

Even if Harry retreated into the Room of Requirement after classes, Tom would be right there waiting for him when he left. He had started spreading rumors about the mysterious and painfully shy Assistant that had led to several students offering to accompany him on Hogsmead outings and other petty affairs that he had no interest in.

He had finally reached his limit of badgering students and reluctantly agreed to eat dinner inside the Great Hall and somehow Tom had managed to get him on bloody Slughorn’s radar of all people.

It all served to remind him how much influence Tom had within the school. How the popular and well liked prefect could make just about anyone dance to his tune, and now he was doggedly trying to draw him into whatever conversation he was having with himself.

Harry was at his limit.

“What do you want Riddle?” The teen only hesitated for a single beat before flippantly answering the sudden question.

“Well like I was saying, I am absolutely fascinated with Patelli’s current work inside the Ministry and I think you would find some of the legislation interesting as well-“ was that what he had been talking about?

“No!” He clenched his fists in annoyance at having been made to lose his composure. It seemed that was exactly what Tom had been hoping for.

“Well then, whatever do you mean Mr. Evans?” Tom’s expression was the epitome of innocence. It made him gag.

“Enough with the pretenses Riddle. I already told you they don’t work on me.” Harry sighed resignedly and tried to gather his self. “What do you want from me? You already know more about me than literally anyone else in current existence, so why are you still bothering me? I’ve already told you that I want to live my life in peace? What about that offends you?!”

Harry was practically yelling by the end of his speech and it was only thanks to the fact that almost everyone was currently in the Great Hall that no one had decided to investigate the racket. But Harry was at the end of his rope and honestly couldn’t care less about social niceties.

Tom’s expression turned serious, like flipping a switch. It was an indication of his abundance in the self-control which Harry unfortunately lacked.

“I want you Harry.” Well didn’t that just creep him out, but before he could make the very obvious objections, Tom continued.

“I may know more about you than anyone else, but that isn’t enough for me. I want to know everything there is to know about you because your personality, your power, fascinates me. I want you to stop hiding under the guise of mediocrity because you’re so much more than that. I want you with me when I finally tear apart this pathetic and stagnant government and make it into something worthwhile.” Tom paused, grinning in a distinctly predatory manner. “Does that answer your question?”

Harry was floored. He had been backed into the wall behind him and was now facing the full force of Tom’s twisted desire. The teen’s magic was around him, caressing his skin soothingly, just enough to scatter his thoughts before they could properly align themselves.

What could he do? There were a lot of implications to what Tom had just said and Harry wasn’t sure he wanted to confront any of them. He was caught between what he wanted to believe and what was more likely to be true.

‘He likes my power. He’s never made a secret of that, but does that mean he considers me a tool?’

Harry didn’t know and it was driving him crazy. Tom remained a constant presence, intrusive enough to always remind him that he was there. Meanwhile, Harry had given up any hope of regaining his composure. It was gone forever now and Tom was still there.

Tom wanted him, for what, he wasn’t sure, but history would indicate that it probably wasn’t good. All Harry wanted was peace. He had somehow been miraculously transported into the past and yet the events of his life were repeating themselves.

How many times had he been beholden to someone that needed him? They needed him to defeat Voldemort, they needed him to defeat Dark wizards, they needed him to fix the world and all its problems, to save them.

Harry went rigid, eyes burning with a fire he had thought extinguished long ago. He straightened his back and looked at Riddle dead on, allowing their eyes to meet and linger.

“That’s nice Tom. Is there anything else you wanted to tell me?” Harry’s voice was amazingly natural. All previous conflicts had fled him and he was filled with a singular purpose, to never allow himself to be used again.

Tom smirked, as though he knew exactly what thoughts had been running through his head for the past few minutes and was amused by his sudden epiphany. The teen finally leaned back enough to allow Harry to breathe his own air and some of the tension dissipated.

“No Mr. Evans, that was all. I look forward to seeing you at Slughorn’s Halloween party.”

Harry felt the floor fall from underneath him.

Chapter Text

“Professor, could I speak with you for a moment?” Galatea lifted her gaze to see an unusually nervous Tom Riddle standing at the entrance to her office.

“Of course Tom. Come in, come in, have a seat.” She had to admit she was curious. Tom had always been the most talented student in any of her classes, but she had never seen him look this, dare she say it, shy. It was a strange hallmark to be sure.

“Professor, I don’t usually do this, but I couldn’t help but notice that our new assistant, Mr. Evans, is about the same age as us.”

Galatea narrowed her eyes. Was this another gibe at Harrison’s competence? There had been a few complaints from some of the parents, but Galatea had even less patience for the foolish adults than she had for their kids. The kicker was that not one of them could provide even one substantial reason for their complaints.

She knew Harrison was more unorthodox than they were used to, she had known that when she hired him, but he was effective, and to her that was all that mattered. She had even taken the liberty of watching a few of his outdoor classes and was honestly stunned by what an effective teacher he was.

“Is there something wrong with Mr. Evans?” Tom finally blurted out. Galatea blinked and had to catch up on some of what he said. She hadn’t been expecting that.

“Harrison may be young, but I can see for myself that he is a very effective teacher.”

Tom shook his head, he still looked painfully awkward. “That’s not what I meant Professor.” He smiled sheepishly and took her silence as a cue to continue.

“You see, I’m sure you’ve heard about the new dueling club that he’s hosting. I managed to convince him after a while,” he laughed embarrassedly at that. This whole situation was out of Galatea’s depth, she had no idea how to deal with the normally confident and occasionally cocky Tom Riddle when he was like this.

“The point is that I noticed that he seems… lost, sometimes even downright depressed and it’s been getting worse lately.” Tom shifted uncomfortably as he finally breached the actual topic he wanted to talk about. “He talks about war as though he’s actually fought in one, possibly even as a leader of some kind, and he has…” Tom gulped, “scars, bad ones. I accidentally saw them. I think he usually hides them under glamours.”

Galatea was beginning to feel just as uncomfortable as Tom even as she finally realized why he was here.

“I just wanted to know what happened to him. He’s been rather close lipped about his past, but I can tell that it’s bothering him more and more, especially this last week.” Tom finally looked up and made direct eye contact with Galatea. “I would like to help him Professor.”

Galatea couldn’t help but notice how similar Tom’s gaze was to Harrison’s. They were both piercing, striking, but held firm, drawing you in. You couldn’t fight off a gaze like that if you tried.

At the same time she was a little suspicious. She’d have to be blind to not notice the little gatherings Tom hosted, the way he tended to draw in Hogwart’s best and brightest. They gathered around him like moths to a flame and at this point all she could do was hope they didn’t get burned.

But could she do that to Harrison? As far as she could tell he had already been betrayed before, probably by someone he really trusted by the looks of it. Galatea loved Tom, she, like everyone else, believed he had a bright future ahead of him, but would he really be good for someone as damaged as Harrison?

Galatea decided she would have to take that chance.

“To be honest Tom I don’t know all that much about him either.” She sighed, leaning back, time to take the plunge. “I met him over the summer, early August I believe. I had been drinking inside the Hog’s Head Inn contemplating the terrible future of Magical Britain’s youth, the usual, when the town was attacked by Reapers.”

Tom visibly tensed, his eyes narrowing and becoming altogether much sharper. “Reapers? In Britain? Are you sure Professor?” Tom seemed to have a moment of realization when he noticed what he had just asked. He smiled a little shakily, “I’m sorry Professor, it’s just—I haven’t heard anything about Grindelwald’s forces entering the country.

Galtea smiled more grimly this time. “Of course not,” her tone was as exasperated as it was exhausted. “The Ministry is desperate to reassure everyone that nothing is happening and the public is eager to believe them. I’m telling you right now that I know for a fact that there were Reapers in Hogsmeade that day, and if not for Harrison we’d have lost half the town and an entire unit of Aurors.”

She sneered, “they were pathetic,” suddenly she wanted a drink. “The best the Ministry had to offer was being decimated by barely a dozen Reapers.

“Harrison had just finished taking down three of them that had managed to break through the wards on the Hog’s Head. It took less than a minute.” She smiled fondly at that memory, it had been fine work.

“The Aurors arrived soon after, but a lot of good they did. By the time Harrison got outside they were just barely holding their defensive line, another few moments and we’d have had a lot of dead Aurors.” She snorted.

It was exactly what she’d been warning them about. The Auror forces were barely trained children, just out of school. Their budget had been cut multiple times to the point that they could hardly afford what few members they had. They were all so innocent too, coddled by the same peace that the Ministry was content to pretend was still there.

But it wasn’t, and now that fact was being bandied about their faces while the Ministry hid its head in the sand and covered up the truth.

“He walked outside and immediately drew the attention of both sides. His magic was flaring you see, not many people are sensitive to that sort of thing anymore, but everyone could feel it. They all knew he was someone special the moment he showed his face.”

Tom looked completely engrossed in the tale she was telling. Galatea herself was getting caught up in the memory, so much so that she missed a flash of desperate hunger in young Tom’s eyes.

“Everything was frozen for a few seconds, but then he raised his wand and set off the fighting again. Only it was less of a fight and more of a massacre.” Galatea grinned, a little maliciousness in her expression, but it had been vindicating.

“He took down a dozen of them and sent them running almost single handedly, saving my life in the process.” She finally turned back towards Tom, eyeing him with a sober expression. “And that’s how I met Harrison Evans.”

Tom was at a loss for words, and why shouldn’t he be, she thought, Harrison was an incredible boy and probably more powerful than anyone in the school.

He cleared his throat, visibly gathering his wits “thank you Professor—for telling me about that. I think there’s a lot more to Mr. Evans than he lets on. I just hope I can help him somehow.”

Galatea nodded her head solemnly. She could only hope as well.

 

-break-

 

Tom left Professor Merrythought’s office in a better mood than he had been in for weeks.

It had been informative, to say the least. He hadn’t expected that to be the explanation behind the ‘certain circumstances’ that had landed Harry the job.

On some level it wasn’t that surprising. Grindelwald had shown that he had no qualms about attacking a civilian population, and if he wanted to get a foothold in Britain it was obviously best to start with Hogwarts. Had he been successful in his attack on Hogsmeade he would have dealt a massive blow to the Ministry’s reputation as well as gained a strategic stronghold close enough to influence Hogwarts Castle as well.

And Harry had stopped that.

There was no doubt in Tom’s mind that Harry was now known to the Reapers, they had probably yet to discover that he was now inside Hogwarts, but they would soon enough, and what would happen then?

Tom was getting giddy from the anticipation of what would happen next.

Then he recalled what had first prompted him to go to Professor Merrythought. Although most of his attitude during the conversation was an act, Tom hadn’t lied, Harry’s health was spiraling.

The last few classes had been notably less enthusiastic and Harry himself looked tired constantly. Tom wanted to be annoyed with his behavior, he wanted to be angry at the man for lowering people’s expectations of him, but he was worried.

It was a nauseating feeling.

During one of his regular jaunts down to the Chamber of Secrets he had gleaned from Anassa that the night that had granted him the title of the ‘Boy-Who-Lived’ had been Samhain.

It didn’t take much more deduction to realize that Harry’s declining wellbeing had begun the day he reminded him of the closeness of Halloween. Perhaps he had forgotten?

As adorable as that was, people were beginning to take notice of Harry and not in the way Tom had hoped. Before, his magic had been free, strong and untamable, now it was cold, sharp, and pushed away anyone that approached him. Harry suddenly came off as overtly threatening.

Most of the students hadn’t connected their sudden unease back to the Assistant, but Tom could tell that some the Professors had noticed.

Irritatingly enough, Dumbledore was one of those Professors.

Now Tom was stuck with the decision of covering for Harry and possibly making himself a larger target, or merely allowing things to go as they were and let the chips fall where they may.

It was a difficult decision, for many reasons, not least of which was Grindelwald’s interest in the man as well.

Tom was nothing if not possessive. He knew he was a Dark Lord in the making, and according to Harry, he was on the right track. Thus, Grindelwald could only be considered competition, because there was no way Tom was willing to share the title.

He had some planning to do.

 

-break-

 

Albus was suspicious. Gellert had been unusually quiet as of late. He would normally refrain from appearing alongside his Reapers, but even they had been unnervingly scarce.

There was still a war happening, of course. The German and French Ministries were still busy fighting off the faceless forces of Gellert’s troops, but the man himself had all but disappeared.

Albus was usually very good at predicting Gellert’s next move. After all, he had been there when the man made most of his early plans. When he had been making plans to subdue the muggles, Albus had been at his side, as much an active participant as he.

And didn’t that just burn.

He could still feel the ache in his chest, but at this point he couldn’t tell if it was regret, guilt, fear, or some monstrous combination of the three. Because despite everything that happened, Albus couldn’t deny that he was still fond of the man. No matter his shortcomings, Albus had his own, and together they made quite the pair.

But if it came down to it, Albus was prepared to fight him with everything he had.

It felt like it had been ages since Albus first took his position as Transfiguration Professor of Hogwarts. It had been then when Gellert had promised not to attack the school.

In hindsight Albus probably should have demanded an oath.

But that was long past and Albus had enough regrets already, there was no room for more. Gellert’s scarcity was cause for concern, and if Albus knew the man as well as he thought he did, then it was likely he was preparing for something.

For what, though?

Somehow he couldn’t shake the feeling it had something to do with his beloved school. Perhaps Gellert had something insidious planned, something involving the children.

Albus would bet anything that the newcomer Harrison Evans had something to do with it.

His eyes around the school had reported the man’s recent reclusiveness and strange behavior. If he didn’t know any better, Albus would have thought the boy was showing symptoms of Dark withdrawal. The wards around Hogwarts prevented most Dark magics, so anyone that was normally used to casting such magics would be feeling particularly snappish by this point.

He didn’t want to accuse the boy of being lost to the Dark, not yet anyways, but Albus couldn’t help but see the nature of the boy’s magic. It wasn’t as Dark as Gellert’s, but it wasn’t light as any child’s should be.

It was tainted and if that wasn’t a sign he didn’t know what was.

Something was coming, he could feel it, and Albus intended to be prepared.

 

-break-

 

The walls were closing around him. He couldn’t tell up from down. Harry wondered if the alcohol had something to do with that, but at the same time he couldn’t bring himself to care.

Halloween was tomorrow.

Harry wanted to laugh just as much as he wanted to cry, but he didn’t. The emotions stayed bottled up, scars hidden like always under layers and layers of powerful glamours. He had no intentions of showing off his wounds.

His impromptu trip into the past was supposed to be a new start, a clean slate. The funniest part was that he had almost forgotten about Halloween entirely. The day that was historically the worst in his entire life had almost slipped his mind. If it hadn’t been for Tom it probably would have passed by without incident.

But it didn’t, and now Harry was too busy dealing with his own personal demons to even muster enough emotion to care about everyone else.

They were worried of course; he could see it in their eyes. Dozens of students watched him bumble through the last few classes with the utmost concern upon their faces.

Harry wanted to hurt them.

NO! No, he didn’t want to hurt the kids, he didn’t!

But he did want to hurt someone.

Harry was beginning to remember why he avoided people on Halloween day.

 

-break-

 

“Have the preparations been made?”

“Yes, my Lord. We have confirmed that the boy’s name is Harrison Evans and he is currently an Assistant Professor inside Hogwarts.”

Gellert grinned sadistically. ‘Sorry Albus, but some promises were made to be broken.’

Chapter Text

The Halloween feast was a lavish affair. Colorful and festive decorations wove their way up the walls, the tables had been pushed aside to allow for mingling in the middle of the floor. Meanwhile, the staff table remained occupied by the stricter Professors who watched with hawk-like precision, prepared to step in if anyone’s behavior crossed into inappropriate territory.

Tom was there. As much as he hated it, to the school he was a social butterfly. Besides, the webs he wove now were liable to stay in place for decades if he was careful.

He flitted between conversations with a genuine, albeit a touch disturbing, smile upon his face, all the while he remained hyperaware of Harry’s presence in the darkest corner of the room.

If one couldn’t feel the maelstrom of power that was his magic they would probably say he was brooding. He could feel it though. In fact, everyone could feel it, and instinctively knew to steer clear of that part of the room.

Tom kept his irritation from appearing on his face. As ironic as it was, he wanted to drag the man out of the shadows, to peel off the subconscious barriers that he threw up.

It was tragic that someone of Harry’s level had been relegated to teaching fools such as the one’s inside his classes. And now he was… could he call it mourning?

He had already figured out that something bad had happened to Harry on Samhain, likely something far worse than the death of his parents. Tom had yet to find out exactly what that event was, but he intended to dig deeper.

As it was now, the atmosphere surrounding the Assistant was thick enough to cut with a knife and twice as uninviting. Tom took it as a personal challenge.

 

-break-

 

Abraxas watched as his Lord commanded attention in the crowded Hall. It was times like these that reminded him why he had sworn fealty.

He was like a force of nature, the way he delivered compliments and insults in equal measures, always with a condescending undertone that was just subtle enough to slip by anyone’s notice. After a few minutes Tom had even the most reluctant eating out of his hands.

This was a true Lord, and if Tom hadn’t been concealing his magic everyone else would know it as well. For now, Abraxas had to be satisfied with the way the pathetic stock of the school gathered around his Lord.

Then he glanced over at the only imperfection in the otherwise flawless scene. Harrison Evans, who Tom was still giving an irritatingly large amount of attention, was skulking about in the shadows.

The man was in shambles. Even before he held himself with a certain confidence, there was an unspoken strength in his posture. Now though, the man was like broken glass, dangerous and unapproachable but otherwise useless.

Abraxas could see his Lord’s disdain at the man’s appearance. Disdain which was warranted, Evans looked like he had just rolled out of bed. His face was messy and unshaven, his hair even more untamable than usual, and no thought whatsoever was put into his outfit.

Beyond his disgust, Abraxas noticed something. This was an opportunity, he thought, a chance to show his Lord just how useless the Assistant truly was.

With a quick glance he communicated his thoughts to Silvus and Orion as well, gesturing towards the dark corner that the man occupied. Black was wholly unlikeable, but even he had to admit his prowess at riling up just about anyone. The two nodded their heads in confirmation, Orion sporting smirk that was all too sadistic.

Abraxas spared a glance in the direction of Tom seeing that he was currently conversing with a few of the seventh year prefects.

‘Good,’ he thought, ‘they should at least keep him occupied for the few minutes this will take.’

Abraxas took a final swig of his drink and strode towards the corner of the room.

 

-break-

 

Albus was enjoying the annual feast as usual. Even during the harsh times they lived in he firmly believed it was important they make time for celebration.

He skimmed the crowd of students, sneaking a glance at the corner where young Harrison stood. Poor boy, Gellert had gotten his claws into him and now the child was paying the price of using Dark magics.

As the night progressed, he made sure to stay aware of Harrison and his progressively darkening demeanor. He was prepared to step in if something happened.

He took another bite out of the delicious lemon custard pies the house elves made, he would have to remember to thank them later, when a stark black crow entered the Hall discreetly and landed right in front of him.

Albus received a few questioning glances from his colleagues, bless them, but he waved them off with his usual genial expression.

On the inside though, his thoughts were racing. His strongest defense, his composure, was crumbling even as he removed the letter from the foreboding animal.

Just barely managing to hold his hands steady, he opened the letter and read.

My Dearest Albus,

It has been so long since we have last spoken. I find myself craving your company. It is certainly better than that of my recent associates.

Do you remember, old friend, the vow we made that started all of this?

Perhaps not, still I am curious as to how you have been doing. There are many things to be discussed should we meet. Such a rendezvous could happen on no better day, Samhain night.

My life has been rather dull without your company, so many things I have done to pass the time. So many more I shall do should you refuse. I believe I would even move my plans forwards.

I know you are curious Albus, about my behavior as of late. Come and you shall know the truth. You know the place.

Best Wishes,

GG

Albus’ face paled more with each line. Even before the final threat was made he knew what he had to do.

He had been dreading this confrontation for years. Even as people begged him to end the war, stop the slaughters, he was hoping to put off the meeting for a few years longer.

Now Gellert had taken the choice from him. Hogwarts was being threatened, the Reapers were probably ready to attack the school upon their Master’s signal. He had no idea how large their numbers, or even of their capabilities, but Gellert was the key to all of this.

If he died, then all this would end.

Albus stood stiffly and left before anyone could say otherwise.

 

-break-

 

Harry was on edge.

He was always miserable around this time of year, but this time he felt more uneasy than usual. His instincts were ringing sharply inside his head, warning him something was about to happen, and Harry was caught wondering if that something would be because of him.

With every drink he finished the room blurred a little more, his restraints loosened slightly revealing the true nature of his magic. A small voice in the back of his head screeched that he shouldn’t be letting himself go so much, especially not in a place this populated, but he was beyond caring.

“Quite the feast isn’t it?” Harry looked up from his drink to see a pompous blonde ass. He glared.

“Leave off, I haven’t had nearly enough to deal with a Malfoy.” For a second Abraxas morphed into a younger Draco, his cheeks coloring before the inevitable line of ‘my father will hear about this.’ Then Harry blinked and he was gone.

“It seems like alcohol loosens the lips of this one,” Harry was struck with the appearance of Sirius, no Orion. He was having trouble distinguishing between the cruel lilt in his lips and the mischievous one of his Godfather’s whenever he would be planning a particularly complex prank.

“Perhaps, but judging by the way he’s looking at you it has loosened a few other things as well.” Bellatrix… no! This was a different Lestrange, a different one altogether.

“Enough,” he hissed through clenched teeth. “I’m not in the mood for your games and tonight especially I lack the patience to deal with them.” The Malfoy stepped forwards once more.

“Be that as it may there are several things we need to make clear about your position as you seem to be getting… audacious.” Harry twitched and the glass in his hand shattered in his fist.

He narrowed his eyes on the boys and plastered on a disgustingly fake smile. It was clear that the boys were smart enough to read the danger beneath his expression. Too bad they weren’t smart enough to cut their losses.

“Oh? And exactly what is my position Mr. Malfoy?” His face was still deceptively welcoming. The young Lestrange subtly pushed Malfoy back and took charge of the situation.

“Abraxas was just referring to your relationship with Tom. It’s obvious to us that you are more acquainted with him than anyone else, but we do worry. Assistant you may be, you are still responsible for our grades, and perhaps it is inappropriate for one in your position to be alone with a student so often. Some people may misunderstand,” he trailed off suggestively even as Harry’s magic coiled around him dangerously.

“I don’t think our lovely Assistant is getting it. I’ll have to be blunt then,” Orion ignored his friends’ warning looks. “Find someone else to whore yourself out to, or else.”

There was a massive boom as the floor cracked and fissured, every candle in the room went out leaving only the pale light of the moon to filter through the window.

The panic was delayed for a moment as people looked around questioningly, but then everyone turned their attention to the three sixth year Slytherins who were collapsed on the floor, desperately clawing at their throats, gasping for breath.

Harry looked into the crowd, his eyes an unearthly green and his magic oppressive. It parted for him as he moved, even instinctively they knew not to get in his way has he walked out the door.

 

-break-

 

Tom was furious. Harry’s behavior at the feast had been one thing. It was disgraceful, but Tom had been expecting Harry to put up at least token rebellion. It was an understandably unhappy day for him.

He had remained even after his abrupt exit, taking the time to calm and misdirect the students, while Harry cooled his head. He took one look at the three of his Knights that had to be carried to the Hospital Wing before dismissing them entirely.

He had warned them.

But now it was time for the after party, Slughorn revitalized the dying enthusiasm by beginning his own annual party early. The guests had already arrived and begun mingling, and Harry was nowhere to be seen.

Tom had even gone through the trouble of inviting a few other groups to Slughorn’s party. After all, if more people understood Harry’s superiority then they would automatically hold him in higher regard for taming him.

But that couldn’t happen if Harry didn’t show up.

So Tom did something he had been putting off for a while now. He didn’t particularly want to do it, but Harry had forced his hand.

He asked a house elf.

He tickled the pear on the tapestry and stepped into the kitchen, only briefly glancing at the elves that were currently cleaning the dishes that were used during the feast. He stood in the middle of the room as the little creatures fussed about.

“Excuse me,” there was a rapid shift in the atmosphere. Tom felt slightly uncomfortable until one of the elves came forward.

“What can Missy be doing for Master Tom?” Tom wrinkled his nose at the rags the creature wore, but at the same time knew that they could be worse.

“Do you know who Harrison Evans is?” The little thing bobbed its head enthusiastically.

“Oh yes, Master Harry spends lots of time in the kitchen, he does. He’s very kind to the house elves.” Tom smiled reassuringly.

“I’m sure he is. Do you know where he is? He was supposed to come to the party with me, but he’s disappeared. I can’t help but be worried.” Tom put on a suitably worried expression. Thankfully, the elves were far less discerning than the goblins.

“Yes of course Master Tom! Master Harry is being inside his room. He is ordering the house elves not to come,” the creature looked down sadly before perking up once more, “but Missy can bring Master Tom to Master Harry’s room.”

The little elf held out its hand hesitantly, as though the mere suggestion was liable to earn it punishment. He shook his head a little exasperatedly and took its hand. The man was right, easily won and powerful allies.

The sensation of Apparating was much smoother than usual, quieter as well. Another thing to look into.

“Is this his room?” Tom gestured towards the nondescript door in the unremarkable hallway.

“Yes, this is being his room. Master Harry is locking the door with his magics. Only Master Harry’s magic can open it, but Missy knows Master Tom can get inside.”

Didn’t that just set off alarms in his head. Another one of his secrets? The reason why their magics were so compatible, perhaps? He could ponder it later. Tom grabbed the handle and was surprised when the magic around the entrance parted with almost no resistance.

He scanned the room, searching for the object of his interest, and he found him sprawled on an armchair, head lolling back. Harry’s magic was practically setting the air around him on fire.

“You—Harry? Are you drunk?” Harry grinned at Tom’s incredulous expression.

“Of course, it’s Halloween after all, the most… eventful day of the year!” He giggled manically, body swaying as he struggled to his feet. Tom sneered at this lack of decorum, the pathetic appearance of the man.

“What were you expecting Tom? Did you think I would dress up and play your stupid politics game on the anniversary of my parents’ death?” Tom didn’t wince at the accusation. “Or maybe you forgot. Forgot the way you came after me and everyone around me, every year. On. This. Day.”

Tom suddenly found the air knocked out of him as he was thrown against the wall, the unquestionable weight of Harry’s forearm under his chin, cutting off his oxygen. He tried to regain his bearings and was caught in the cold gaze of Harry’s eyes, which were currently doing an excellent job of imitating the Killing Curse.

“Remember Tom, you asked for this.” He could smell the alcohol on the man’s breath, but even that didn’t distract from the obvious threat of death in his eyes. “What happens next will be on your head.”

And just like that, Harry swept from the room, leaving Tom to slide down to the ground in shock. It was possible that he had just barely escaped with his life. His hands started shaking.

Tom was getting the distinct impression that he had just poked a sleeping dragon.

And that dragon was now drunk, bitter, and heading to Slughorn’s Halloween party.

Chapter Text

Harry was in it completely now. They stood in the remains of the once regal and aptly named Great Hall.

It was in ruins now, and Voldemort was entirely to thank for it.

Harry wanted to be angry, but he couldn’t muster the strength. He had just returned from the dead and it was only a renewed sense of purpose that kept him standing, moving, dodging the furious spells of his longtime adversary.

Today would be the end. Nagini was his last horcrux and she would soon be killed with the sword of Gryffindor.

Harry was tucking and rolling, dodging the onslaught from the Elder wand, the wand he knew would never kill him. He kept himself low and gave as good as he got, just enough resistance to keep Voldemort from wondering.

Just another few seconds and—there. There it was.

Voldemort abruptly faltered, sensing the sudden wrongness of the situation. Harry only hesitated for a moment, but it was enough.

Voldemort stared down his enemy, eyes narrowing as he took in something he had always known but never acknowledged.

Harry saw the moment when all their plans fell apart.

With a swift desperation he cast his spell. Expelliarmus.

He wasn’t sure what made him believe that such a simple spell would be enough to stop Voldemort, but it was too late now and the Dark Lord was gone.

The battle had ended with Harry kneeling in the dirt and ruins of Hogwarts, the corpses of students and peers callously strewn about. The Death Eaters had all retreated with their Master, returning to lick their wounds and regroup.

Meanwhile, Harry could only cry pitifully. Wonder what kind of difference it would have made if he had just cast the Killing Curse.

Because the battle had ended, but the war was only beginning.

 

-break-

 

Tom arrived just in time to see Harry wander into the over decorated suite Slughorn had chosen. The party had begun earlier than expected, but the number of people indicated that most of the guests had already arrived.

Which made it all the more important to prevent Harry from going on a rampage.

Tom schooled his face into an appropriately relaxed expression. It wouldn’t do to break into hysterical laughter at this point, no matter how shaken he still was.

There was nothing that angered him more than having his life threatened. Even as a child he loathed such threats, and Harry had been beyond reasoning. Had he wanted it, Tom would be a cold corpse on the floor and no amount of talking could have changed that.

It was embarrassing. Disgusting. Pathetic.

But he pushed all of that away, difficult as it was, he would deal with it later. For now, he had to prevent Harry from massacring the upper echelons of British wizarding society.

He watched as Harry walked across the room, signs of intoxication barely perceptible. Tom followed him as quickly as socially acceptable.

At that moment Minerva McGonagall appeared from the crowd to intercept the young Assistant, bombarding him with an entirely one-sided conversation.

Tom would have laughed at the spectacle had he not noticed the way the man’s eyes widened and his hands began to shake. Whatever was happening it was not, regular drunken behavior. Harry’s reactions had an even shorter fuse than usual, his magic less discerning.

He should had expected it, that someone with such rigid self-control would be more prone to acting on instinct while under the influence, but even he could not have predicted this fantastic disaster.

Thus, the most he could do was diffuse the already ticking bomb.

 

-break-

 

Hermione had never been the same since that day at Malfoy Manor, especially not since Bellatrix made a habit of reminding her of the incident every time they encountered each other.

They all had their scars, but Hermione carried hers right on the surface of her skin. It was carved into her body for all to see, a constant reminder so that she could never forget.

MUDBLOOD

And she never did forget. She woke up every morning screaming for a while, biting and clawing at her phantom attacker.

Bellatrix had broken something that day. She had killed some of the life that always used to buzz through the girl, a nervous energy, a contained excitement.

Whatever it was, it was gone now.

Harry noticed it the most. Ron mourned a little, but he was mostly just glad that she was alive. As long as he could see her standing, eyes open, smiling, even laughing on occasion, he could convince himself everything was fine.

But Harry could see it. Hermione may have been moving, but she was dead inside.

 

-break-

 

Tom stepped between the interaction, taking extra care to only touch Harry with his magic, allowing it to sooth the man somewhat. He took the way the man began to blink confusedly, as an indication of his success.

“Evening Miss McGonagall, I did not expect to see you here, certainly not with our dear Assistant.” The Gryffindor blushed bright red.

“Well Tom, I simply enjoy Mr. Evans’ classes so much I had to take the opportunity to speak with him. We both know how entrancing he can be during the dueling club.” Tom smiled charmingly, disarmingly, and Minerva visibly relaxed.

‘Ah, Gryffindors. So sweet in their attempts to play the game.’

“Of course Minnie. I’m sure the two of you were having a very rousing debate before I arrived.” Minerva huffed in disapproval, both at the nickname and the statement.

“You as well Tom. Normally, you are the last one to linger around any one place at Professor Slughorn’s gatherings. What has you so interested in Mr. Evans?” She asked pointedly, direct in a way only a Gryffindor could.

Tom maintained his genial façade even as he prepared to deliver another scathing remark.

The atmosphere shifted.

Tom immediately turned towards Harry, who had been standing silently during the discussion about him. Now though, he was disturbingly still, not even breathing as his eyes locked onto the form of one Ignus Weasley.

Tom couldn’t fathom why he would be interested in him, regardless everyone had felt the sudden change. Minerva looked accusingly at Tom before her eyes landed on Harry and widened in realization.

‘Damn’

 

-break-

 

Ron was hotheaded. He always had been, but at some point he had decided that Voldemort’s existence was a personal affront to his pride.

So he fought, like everybody else, but he wasn’t built for it like Harry was. Harry could go on fighting for days, even weeks. The only reason he didn’t was because people expected him to come back to lead them.

But Ron was different. All the fighting wasn’t good for him, and everyday Harry could see him lose more and more of himself to the war, until all that was left was a tightly wound ball of anger.

“What the hell are you doing Ron?” The redhead just shrugged off the accusation and kept moving, leaving the trail of destruction behind him.

“What does it matter Harry? The Death Eater scum had it coming.” Harry squared his shoulders and eyed down his longtime friend. This was an old argument, but Harry was a general and he couldn’t allow Ron to put the others in danger just to satisfy his vendetta.

“It matters Ron. It matters because you almost got your entire unit killed when you went off on your own again. It matters because these people need to be able to trust you with their lives, but obviously they can’t because you have much more important issues to deal with!”

The sarcasm was a biting vitriol that hit Ron with more force than he had intended. But the words needed to be said.

“Screw you Harry, and to hell with this war!”

Ron shouldered his way past Harry, who, in that second, was using every ounce of his control to maintain his role as a general.

Their relationship began falling apart that day. Every exchange was a little more clipped, just a bit colder. The next time Ron returned from a mission his unit had lost six soldiers. Kids their age had decided to follow their unit leader when he went against orders and never came back.

Harry stripped him of his rank and Ron never forgave him.

 

-break-

 

It had been an hour since Harry had arrived at the party, an hour he spent carefully playing mediator to the almost catatonic Assistant.

Tom was beginning to get concerned, as strange as the sensation was to him. Harry was in some sort of perpetual flashback that only seemed to be getting more intense as time went by. That in and of itself would be okay had he not been reacting rather violently to things that weren’t there.

It was drawing attention. The purebloods especially knew how to recognize a powerful wizard, and the amount of magic Harry was exuding now made it impossible to categorize him as anything but.

Fortunately, as he wandered through the gathering with his mostly unresponsive companion, it allowed Tom to form the exact relationships that he had been hoping for. To establish that, yes Harry is indeed worth attention, and yes he is with Tom.

Even then there was a constant sense of unease that followed the man throughout the room. The more wary of the guests avoided him entirely, while others felt the need to puff out their chests and project an aura of indifference. The fact of the matter was that Harry was dangerous, and Tom could only attempt to control how people reacted to the revelation.

As long as things did not escalate further, Tom could call it a successful night.

 

-break-

 

It had been two years since what they called ‘The Battle at Hogwarts.’ Two years since Harry failed to kill Voldemort and set off the true beginning of the Second Wizarding War, and finally, he was being given a second chance.

One of their scouts had spotted the Dark Lord making camp in an old abandoned building with only a few of his Death Eater guards.

They had to move quickly. This was the mission that could end the war and everyone wanted to be a part of it.

Harry chose a group of 15 people, including himself, to come. It was just enough people to overwhelm the enemy with numbers without being a large enough group to hinder their stealth.

Among those 15 was Ginny Weasley. Harry had argued and screamed and fought, but Ginny always had a way of convincing him and she was a damn good fighter. As much as he hated it, he couldn’t justify leaving her behind.

They left. It was a two day trek to the location. In order to stay undetected they made the journey on foot, no brooms, no Apparation.

Harry looked onto the dilapidated cottage that Voldemort was staying in from inside the dense foliage of the forest. They had found it and everyone trembled with relief when they saw that the Dark Lord had only brought three guards with him.

Bellatrix Lestrange, Lucius Malfoy, and Barty Crouch Jr.

He ordered everyone to surround the cottage as they waited for the cover of night to strike. These were their best people, their best soldiers. If ever they were going to kill Voldemort for good, it would be now.

The air was still, no one was moving, Harry couldn’t even hear any animals in the forest as he gave the signal and everyone charged.

The windows to the little cottage all broke at once as it was suddenly filled with 15 new bodies. Bellatrix and Lucius fought viciously while Barty fell back to his Master’s side, but something was missing. Voldemort didn’t look right. He didn’t look like his life was about to end.

Harry knew the Dark Lord better than anyone and he knew something wasn’t right.

The walls came down.

The entire building began to collapse around them as Voldemort laughed horribly, eyes glittering with the glee of his fallen enemies as he disappeared from the room.

They had surrounded Voldemort, but the Death Eaters had surrounded them.

Seven of them were down already as Harry screamed for them to take back to back formation. Anti-Apparation wards were being thrown up, locking them into place as masked figures began to close in around them.

Harry kept Ginny close even as the adrenaline rushed through his ears and his life flashed before his eyes.

And suddenly, there was nothing.

 

-break-

 

The room was shaking, like there was some sort of earthquake. Tom instantly began to squash thoughts of bombs and fire which suddenly filled him. They couldn’t follow him here, the muggles couldn’t follow them here.

In a few moments he had worked through his own panic enough to notice that the room was being shaken by a very unstable and volatile magic.

The young assistant had apparently reached the end of his rope.

Tom sent out waves of his own magic, cloaking and caressing the form of the man, massaging his muscles as it twisted and curled until only the furniture was moving.

He took the reprieve as an opportunity to make a quick getaway and swiftly herded the still unseeing Harry from the room.

 

-break-

 

Harry walked through the charred remains, searching for any sign of what happened, some indication of how much time had passed.

Harry couldn’t remember anything.

After the moment they had been corralled and rounded up for execution, Harry’s memory suddenly when blank. There was nothing in his head, nothing but death on both sides.

The bodies were nothing more than charcoaled remains, an aftermath of some sort of fire. He looked down to see a wand in his hand, but it wasn’t his normal holly and Phoenix feather wand.

The Elder wand.

Harry dropped it and scrambled away, right onto another indistinguishable body, which crumbled beneath him. He recoiled, attempting to gather his wits even as everything he knew was being torn from underneath him. Taking a deep breath, he organized what few Occlumency walls he had in an effort to order his thoughts.

Ginny

The name pierced his mind, even as the syllables fell from his lips unbidden.

He rushed back to the center of the scene, to the place he had been standing when he had first awoken, searching desperately for at least the remains of the once vibrant girl.

Whose ashes were whose?

Chapter Text

“Where the hell am I?” The body Tom had been moving without much effort suddenly stopped.

“Ah, you are awake,” he said curtly, with no small hint of pleasure. Drunk or not, the man was just so much more interesting when he was conscious.

Harry gave Tom a dirty look before looking around briefly to answer his own question.

“How much do you remember?” Tom could tell how much Harry didn’t want to think about that, but even without his response Tom suspected that the man hadn’t been fully aware since their ‘conversation’ inside his room.

“It doesn’t matter. Either way, you are thoroughly drunk and it is my responsibility as a prefect to take you back to your room to sleep off the affliction.” He could also use the opportunity to pump the man for information. While he was this inebriated he would be less likely to notice signs of manipulation and hopefully have a looser tongue.

Harry laughed sharply. “Hell no, I’m not going back there.” The man suddenly started moving once more, taking a sudden turn in the opposite direction of his room. Tom followed, annoyed but curious.

“Then where do you plan on going? Your self-control isn’t exactly up to par right now.” Harry grinned. There were so many emotions in that expression that Tom didn’t even want to contemplate right now.

“The Room of Requirement”

They stood in a familiar empty hallway, one which Tom had followed Harry to once but was never able to decipher. For all intents and purposes it looked like a dead end—no candle holders to pull on, no statues to move. The only feature of the otherwise unremarkable corridor was an ill-fitting painting of some trolls being taught ballet.

Tom raised a single eyebrow. “Are you going to continue posturing or are you going to show me this miraculous room.” Whatever inner conflict Harry had been going through about revealing the room, was washed away with that statement and Tom had to force himself not to smirk.

“Fine,” he grumbled. The man walked back and forth three times, Tom following his every move with the utmost care and a nondescript door appeared on the bare wall in a very familiar way.

The inside of the room was also familiar and Tom was beginning to suspect certain things.

“This is just like the Come and Go Room.” He mused aloud, hoping to draw Harry into revealing his hand.

The man grinned and flopped onto a couch in the green and gold themed room. It was similar to the room they held the dueling club in, minus the massive wall of windows. This room had a fireplace and an all-around cozier atmosphere.

“That’s because it is the Come and Go Room.” Tom sat next to him, expression inquisitive enough to hopefully keep the man talking.

Harry rolled his eyes. “The entrance you guys use for the club can only be made by someone already inside. I had you guys use that entrance because you can only manipulate the Room if you enter through the true entrance.”

Tom widened his eyes slightly, turning away quickly before Harry’s annoyingly sharp instincts could pick up on his glee.

‘This is it,’ he thought, ‘this is the room he spends most of his time in.’ Tom formed several plans in his head using the new information. Ways to trap Harry inside and force him to confront the reality of their situation.

There were so many ways he could use the Room and Tom intended to take full advantage of all of them.

 

-break-

 

While they casually lounged inside the Room that was once Harry’s only solace, he couldn’t help but wonder about the bigger picture.

This was the World War II era, the middle of the London Blitz. The magicals may be in a certain kind of danger, but the muggles were even worse off, and Tom had to live right in the middle of it.

Even Harry’s alcohol addled mind knew that Tom would go crazy at the thought of being pitied. Maybe it was time for some tough love.

“What exactly do you hate about muggles so much?” Harry questioned Tom, knowing he was opening up a much larger discussion, but he was so damn curious. What had happened to turn Tom Riddle, brilliant student, into Dark Lord Voldemort, psychotic mass murderer?

“They are beneath us,” he started haughtily. “They are without magic and yet think themselves above us—“

“Yes yes, I’m sure you give that spiel to every gullible new recruit.” Harry dismissed that answer immediately. There was far more to it than that textbook answer that any bigoted pureblood could recite. “You forget Tom, I know more about your past, present, and future than even you.”

“Then why don’t you tell me?” Tom was suddenly incensed by Harry’s backhanded insinuation. Harry could easily understand his anger; he had lived his entire life at the mercy of people that claimed they ‘knew better.’ The idea that something was done ‘for you own good’ did nothing to lessen the blow in the long run.

“I think you were scared of them at some point.” He ignored Tom’s dangerously narrowing eyes and continued. “I think they made you despise yourself for a long time, that until you discovered your magic you felt helpless, and perhaps even after.”

Tom had begun trembling almost imperceptibly, but Harry caught it anyways. He wondered briefly if he should stop there, but decided that he had never been one to do things halfway.

“I know for a fact that you grew up in an orphanage surrounded by people that hated you for something you never completely understood, that even now, you’re forced to endure the terror of the airstrikes, wondering if you’ll even survive the night.”

Tom’s magic was moving threateningly, coiling around him in an attempt to choke the air out of him. Harry’s magic was doing a great job of combating the blows, casually flicking them away.

“That was probably what drove you to try and become immortal.” Tom had left his seated position and moved to loom threateningly over Harry’s complacent form, arms trapping him on the couch. “I always wondered why someone as brilliant as you decided to use something as unreliable as Horcruxes.”

Harry paused for a brief moment, realizing that he had just given up one of the biggest secrets. Damn, he really needed to stop drinking so much.

“Horcruxes,” the teen breathed, eyes widening. “That’s what I used.” Harry could see a million ideas moving though the teen’s head. He had to move quickly otherwise the kid would make the same mistakes as Voldemort.

“Don’t,” Tom’s attention snapped back to him. “I told you before, they’re a terrible idea. And you, wanting to be better than anyone else, decided to make seven of them!” Harry was ranting now, original purpose entirely forgotten.

 

-break-

 

“You fear death. You fear it more than anything else, so much so that you are willing to go to ridiculous and frankly stupid lengths to avoid it.” Harry let out a laugh at Tom’s hardening expression. His laugh would have sounded taunting to anyone else, but Tom could hear the sharp undertone of depression in the sound.

“Somewhere along the line, in the middle of all the war and pain, I started to fear life.” The previous laughter dried up in the air leaving it barren. When Harry turned back to Tom his face so serious it made him flinch imperceptibly. His piercing green eyes swept over the essence of his very being, searching for any signs of weakness.

“When I throw myself into battle, when I skate that line between life and death, I can feel.” Harry took on an all too desperate expression. “Fighting takes the edge off the numbness,” Harry finished quietly, his face wearing a playful smirk.

And he was flippant once more. Tom hated the way he would brush off his concerns like that. Harry would use shocking revelations to redirect attention from the original issue and then write them off as a lot less serious than they actually were. Tom was the ultimate Slytherin, the heir of cunning and manipulation. He would not be distracted by this man’s clumsy attempts.

“What happened to make you feel so hollow?” Tom was impressively close to Harry right now, close enough to taste the alcohol on his breath. Later he would wonder why he had been allowed to get that close, by the man’s magic and the man himself, but for now he could only think about getting even closer.

“How did this become about me, Tom? I thought we were talking about your childhood traumas.” Harry’s expression was indulging once again, but it was a farce, a paper thin mask used to redirect the conversation with baited remarks designed to enrage. Tom wouldn’t be fooled again.

He smirked, enjoying the man’s expression when he did the opposite of what he expected. Tom vowed to do it more often.

“You are correct,” he admitted. “My time in the orphanage definitely had an impact on what I think of muggles. Just based on that I can say they are a pathetic and fearful lot that would take the wizarding world and tear it to pieces should it ever be discovered.”

Tom took a chance and moved his hands inward just enough to be in contact with the man’s shoulders. Something in him compelled him to feel the man’s skin beneath his hands. He kept his body a looming presence, and leaned forward to whisper in his ear.

“I’ve seen your scars Harry,” he purred, enjoying the way Harry heated up below him. “You wear glamours, but I can see through them.” Tom slowly moved his knee, pushing apart the man’s legs as he leaned forwards.

“The ones on your arms could have been from your magical adventures, but the ones on your back,” he paused, taking a moment to subdue his own anger. “Those ones are all muggle. It was a belt wasn’t it? Buckle side down?

“So, the better question is why don’t you hate muggles?” He was close enough to feel Harry’s body heat now. Their magic was mixing once more, making the air heady with the scent of ozone, almost encouraging them.

“What a pair we make,” Harry finally spoke, his terrifyingly green eyes narrowing. “You’ve made your point. I know your secrets, but you know mine. So Tom, what happens now?”

The scary thing was that Tom didn’t even know. He was usually so focused, so task oriented, goal always in sight. Harry had a way of derailing his plans before they could even start and Tom found himself improvising more often than he would normally be comfortable with, but all he could feel was the rush, the thrill of the chase. Tom wanted to get even closer to Harry, to get under his skin and into his head, to know him so well that the man could never leave.

Then the castle shook beneath them.

 

-break-

 

‘Fuck,’ he thought. Harry knew that sound, he could never get it out of his head; it followed him wherever he went.

The sound of battle.

He pushed Tom off of him in one smooth motion and exited the room not looking back to see if the boy was following him.

“What is that?” The teen’s voice was tight, a controlled sort of panic. “What’s happening?”

Harry spun on one heel, ignoring the way Tom almost collided into him due to the sudden stop. “Shut up.” It was blunt, effective, and left no room for discussion.

“We don’t have time for this, so either you stay quiet and follow my lead or get the hell out of my way.” A scream had Harry cursing as he once again set off of the obvious destination.

When the school is under attack Hogwarts’ wards go into lockdown, containing the students inside their dormitories. If the towers have been compromised then the Headmaster will lead the student body into the Great Hall which has enough additional wards to be used as a sort of shelter. Considering the screams were coming from the Great Hall, Harry assumed the latter option was in effect.

He slammed open the doors and walked down the narrow aisle, ignoring the renewed panic of the students.

“Quiet”

Harry didn’t yell. His voice was barely above a whisper, and yet the force of his magic gave the word power, silencing the Hall and calming its inhabitants.

Harry walked directly to the staff table, stopping in front of the Headmaster’s chair where Dippet had been furiously whispering with his colleges before Harry had arrived. Tom stayed in the back of the Hall, content to watch how the situation would unfold.

“We are under attack, that much is obvious. I assume you have already tapped into the wards to discover the identity of this threat.” Dippet’s eyes bulged as he suddenly realized that, yes, he could in fact do that.

The aged Headmaster closed his eyes for a moment, connecting his senses to the wards of the ancient castle. What he saw must not have been good because suddenly he paled and began shaking.

“Reapers,” he rasped, poor old Dippet looked like he was about to throw up.

And then… pandemonium.

Chapter Text

Albus was swiftly making his way to a little abandoned building on the outskirts of Hogsmeade. Gellert had been vague about where they would meet, but he was almost certain that this was the place.

After all, it was in this building that they had last met.

It was over 40 years ago, just after Arianna, but Albus remembered it like it was yesterday. Gellert had come out of hiding to speak to him one final time, to try and convince him to aid him in his subjugation of Europe. It was only grief and guilt that had prevented Albus from leaving with him.

Hogwarts focused him, distracted him from the temptations of power that he would otherwise constantly come face to face with.

It was as much his redemption as it was his prison.

He pushed open the loosely hanging door, cringing as it squealed and strained against ancient hinges. The room was dark, plain. He could only vaguely feel the presence of another person inside the structure.

There was the possibility of an ambush, that this whole thing was a trap to allow Gellert to fell his only major remaining opposition, but that was a risk he had to take. Albus had run from his responsibility for far too long. He had created the Dark Lord Grindelwald, now he had to end him as well.

He walked into the center of the room, rotting wood creaking beneath his feet, the steady light of a Lumos guiding his path.

This was it.

“I’m here Gellert. What is it you wanted to talk about,” he spat, the words were sour in his mouth.

An echoing laughter filled the room, bouncing off the walls and making it impossible to discern the source. Gellert always did like his entrances.

“Dear Albus, it’s so good to see you again. Why don’t you have a seat and make yourself comfortable. We’ll be here a while.” As he spoke the words the room lit up revealing a comfortable interior.

A dark wood chair was before him, along with a small table on which there was a tea set. Gellert sat in a second chair, seated across from what was presumably his own. The whole building was still a ramshackle hovel, but Gellert had somehow managed to dress it up enough to seem unnervingly welcoming.

Albus paused before taking his chair, going over what was just said once more. Something clicked in the mind of the middle aged man and he bolted back towards the entrance, hoping beyond hope that he was wrong.

He tried opening the door only to find it was sealed shut. Immediately drawing his wand he fired off a medley of spells that should have reduced the entire wall to ash only for the door to remain stubbornly closed.

“Enough Albus,” he turned around firing a wild spell at the blonde only to have it fizzle and dissipate before reaching him. Gellert looked at him with fond amusement. "Have a seat. Neither of us can harm the other through magical means or otherwise and no one can get in or out until dawn.”

Albus trod over and slumped into his chair, defeated. “What have you done Gellert?” His voice was soft, the anger had dried up inside him and was replaced with a growing horror.

The Dark Lord smirked at him. “Nothing yet. I just needed to get you away from the school for a bit.”

The horror sharply became panic. “What have you done Gellert?” He said it a little more loudly this time, unable to control his emotions nearly enough.

“Would you like to see, dear Albus?” He reached under the table and brought forth a beautiful and ornate golden mirror, small enough to be held, but large enough to take up most of the table’s surface. Gellert then pulled out his wand, and with a single tap Albus was staring at the outside of Hogwarts castle.

“I took it upon myself to provide some entertainment for as long as we are here.” Albus felt a horrible gnawing despair inside him at the sight of his beloved school, a terrible desperation at seeing the school but being unable to affect it in any way.

“The show is about to begin, dear Albus. Perhaps you can appreciate the effort that went into it.”

 

-break-

 

Harry pinched the bridge of his nose as he watched the Great Hall descend into chaos once more. Even the teachers were running around like chickens without heads. It was ridiculous.

He had to remind himself that these people didn’t grow up in the same time period as him. There was a war going on, but most of them had been isolated from it, deluded into believing that it would never affect them, and just like Fudge, the Minister was all too happy to perpetuate that belief.

“Enough,” Harry didn’t even consciously add any power to his voice, his magic just did it for him, ensuring that everyone was quiet enough for him to speak above them.

“Headmaster Dippet, the wards on the castle may be strong, but they can’t hold out against a continuous attack like this. Have you contacted the Aurors?” The Headmaster visibly gathered himself. He looked like he was completely unaccustomed to the circumstances, but Harry was happy to see that the man toughed it out anyways.

“We’ve already flooed them, but apparently there’s been an attack on Diagon Alley as well and almost all of the Aurors have already been dispatched there.”

Harry scowled, that meant this was coordinated. A smaller group probably went to attack Diagon as a distraction, making just enough noise and chaos to warrant a large group of Aurors, and while they were busy playing tag the much larger force attacked the more important target. Meanwhile, Hogwarts was completely defenseless except for a few ancient wards that hadn’t been repowered in centuries.

Even then, something wasn’t right. Harry’s gaze swept over the staff table, noticing the conspicuous absence of a certain wizard. He turned around and looked piercingly at the four tables.

Dumbledore was gone. The one person that could reasonably fight against Grindelwald disappeared just before a major attack.

Harry allowed his gaze to linger on the students, taking in their fear, denial, some were even throwing up a smokescreen, drowning out their worries with sheer perseverance. They all had one thing in common, though.

They were all looking at him.

It was a sobering thought, one which he’d had before. When everything was falling apart, when armies were literally knocking at the door, someone had to lead.

What Harry could never figure out was why people chose him. Time and time again.

“Professors, how many of you have dueling experience?” A few of the Professors had the audacity to look offended, as though the present circumstances still allowed for the normal posturing.

“We are Professors of Hogwarts, young man, the most prestigious magical school in Europe. Of course we know how to duel.” Harry’s glare was withering. The man, who Harry didn’t recognize, probably one of the elective Professors, shrunk back.

“Thank you Professor, however, that is not what I asked. I don’t care if you know how to duel, what I want to know is if you have any dueling experience, because if you don’t and you go out there you’ll end up as cannon fodder.” The indignant expression was back and Harry drowned out the man’s floundering attempts to defend himself.

“What exactly is your plan?” Galatea stood up at the end of the table, giving Harry a measuring look, which he returned.

“We can’t just wait here for the Aurors to arrive. If this is a coordinated attack then we could be on our own until dawn. We need to organize some sort of counter attack to, at the very least, buy ourselves some time, and to do that I need experienced duelists.”

“We can’t!” This time it was Slughorn that spoke out. “Even if we were to go outside and fight we can’t just leave the students here to fend for themselves!” Harry nodded and turned around.

“Prefects,” several students all stood at attention, flinching as the ground shook and the windows rattled from another impact. “As of now you are responsible for your Houses. Go through and make sure every single one of the students is present and accounted for. No one leaves this room, if anyone gets past us you must defend the students.”

 

-break-

 

Maen Prince prided himself on his practicality, the way he could compartmentalize his emotions enough to logically deal with almost any situation. It was a bit of a Prince family trait.

Now though, he was scared.

His Lord had been keeping track of the movements of Grindelwald and his Reapers, even when the Slytherins knew he was fighting for pureblood supremacy and wouldn’t possibly attack them, it had happened.

And he found himself woefully underprepared.

When the explosions had started he had been inside the common room. Apparently the Hufflepuff quidditch team had been practicing on the field only to be chased inside by dozens of assailants.

Who was attacking? How were they getting through the wards? These were the questions Maen was asking himself as he was herded into the Great Hall along with all the other students.

“When an emergency situation arises chances are you won’t have access to all the facts. Who is attacking? How many people are there? In the case of a surprise attack, these things will almost always be unknowns. In that situation you must remain calm. Losing yourself to panic will only guarantee the success of the ambush. Don’t make any assumptions, take a step back, evaluate the threat, and come up with the most effective means of combating it.”

Evans’ words rang through his head. A lot of good they did now, he thought bitterly, but at the very least they helped him keep his composure.

With each second the panic continued to rise. Once seated at the tables the students looked to the Professors only to realize that they had no idea what to do as well. Meanwhile the floor shook every minute or so to remind everyone of the continuous brutal assault. Even Occlumency had its limits and Maen was beginning to reach his.

Then Mr. Evans walked in.

A good chuck of the students flinched violently at the sound of the Great Hall doors opening, all turning to look as Harrison Evans strode down the aisle without a care.

Maen unconsciously breathed in the taste of his magic as it swirled chaotically around him. It was cool and refreshing, wild and empowering. It made him want to listen.

Then his Lord entered.

When the whole incident first began the Knights immediately noticed the absence of Tom. His lack of presence was somehow more terrifying than the mystery attackers. Now that Maen saw him, alive and well, he and the other Knights let out a small breath of relief. Perhaps there was hope after all.

Evans gave his speech, magic all but compelling them to listen quietly even as they confirmed that yes, they were being attacked by Reapers. Eventually Maen started to understand a very important concept that Malfoy, Black, and Lestrange never seemed to get.

Harrison Evans was powerful.

But it wasn’t just that, his Lord was powerful as well, but Evans was… different.

Tom’s magic was Dark and seductive. It drew you in and made you want to give everything to please him. Evans' magic was untamable. It wasn’t quite Light or Dark, it was… Gray, and it made you want to be better.

He had wondered why he was such an effective teacher, even when he was antagonizing them Evans was still encouraging improvement. It was irritating.

Maen’s eyes flickered over to Tom as he approached him at the Slytherin table.

“Prince, you will be taking my place as prefect for tonight.” Tom whispered.

Maen blinked. Then he blinked again, but no this was not a joke and it was not a dream.

‘What! Didn’t you hear what he just said? The prefects have to defend everyone in the House. If the Professors can’t hold off the Reapers then the prefects will have to. Tom wants me to do that job?’

But instead of voicing all of this he took a deep breath, reinforced his Occlumency walls and nodded silently.

Maen suddenly remembered something else Evans had said during dueling club.

“You guys are fighters. I’ve made sure of it, but not everyone is. Sometimes you will be called upon to defend civilians, people that can’t defend themselves. That is the moment that determines your true worth. You cannot allow yourself to panic, for the sake of the people behind you.”

He knew what he needed to do now.

 

-break-

 

Tom hung back unobtrusively, using a Listening charm to hear the quiet strategizing session that was happening at the staff table even as another rumble shook the Hall.

Things were moving much faster than he had originally anticipated. He had not expected Harry’s true debut to happen for another few months. It wasn’t unwelcome, but Tom suspected that he would have to deal with the aftermath.

Harry, it seemed, had the ability to block out any useless thoughts when dealing with crisis situations. Tom hadn’t seen any apprehension at taking the stage when the man burst into the Great Hall, delicious magic wafting around him.

But once the threat passed Harry would likely flee in the wake of gratitude and hero worship. Tom would have to make sure he was there to stop him.

He followed as the Professors and Harry finished their discussion on how best to proceed, casting a small Notice-Me-Not Charm to ensure the already distracted staff would not notice his presence.

Harry led them to the main entrance of the castle, where the massive wooden doors were shaking under the force of the outside assault.

“Headmaster Dippet, you need to stay back.” The old Headmaster looked quite put out at that and made to protest. Harry raised a single hand and continued to speak.

“Headmaster, the wards on the castle are tied to you. You are the only one that will be aware of what is happening both inside and outside the castle.”

“Then isn’t that all the more reason for me to come with you. I’ll still know what is happening inside the Great Hall!” Harry smiled sadly.

“No Headmaster, because the wards are tied to you, if you die or are mortally injured then Hogwarts will be practically defenseless. It is imperative that you stay alive.” Dippet paled, giving a shaky nod and returning the way they came.

This was real. All the painfully sheltered Professors were finally realizing the gravity of the situation. Most of them reacted exactly the way Dippet did even as Harry barreled through.

“As soon as this door is opened it will draw all the Reapers to our location. We must hold the line through any means necessary.” Harry’s voice was as commanding as it was enthralling. Tom had already been thinking of the many possible scenarios that could unfold.

He wouldn’t put himself in the line of fire. Harry was more than capable of handling the Reapers so there was no reason for him to get involved.

“The Ministry still classifies the nation as at peace. Britain has never officially declared itself as part of the war, so the Unforgivables are still exactly that.” Harry watched the nervous Professors as they shifted uncomfortably. They knew what was coming next. “I won’t ask you to use those spells, but keep in mind our enemies will have no such restraint, and more importantly there are children behind us that we are sworn to protect.”

And just like that he had them hooked. Even those that had been skeptical about the Assistant looked like they would be willing to kill for him, or at least for his cause.

‘This is Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, the general who led hundreds, if not thousands, of witches and wizards into battle.’

Tom shivered, unable to stop himself from smirking as he eyed the incredible man before him.

He would have him.

“Alright then, you know what to do. Let’s get started!”

And with that, Harry blasted the doors away.

 

-break-

 

Harry cast a quick Fumo, throwing up a smokescreen immediately after destroying the doors. At the very least it would prevent the Reapers from overwhelming them with sheer numbers for now.

According to Dippet there were approximately 50 Reapers, all of them were probably highly trained, compared to his dozen or so ragtag group of Professors.

Harry was happy to see that half of the Professors followed the plan and threw up a Protego while the other half covered them with powerful blasting curses and severing charms.

In the meantime Harry threw himself into the fray, downing the closest few Reapers with a couple well placed Sectumsempras.

They were outnumbered. If he just knocked them out any one of their friends could have them up and about with a simple Ennervate. He had learned that the hard way; thus, Harry was not taking any chances.

He pulled his Firebolt out of the extendable pouch on his person, magic humming in anticipation. It had been so long. He had run from it, but it had found him, so now he was meeting it head on.

Harry sucked in a breath and took to the air, flying out of the smokescreen he had created. Almost immediately, a group of Reapers on brooms flew to cut him off. Harry wondered briefly if any of them recognized him from that time in Hogsmeade.

Expecto Patronum” the shimmering silver form of Prongs appeared and rocketed off, antlers butting people off of brooms. Harry let out a carefree laugh at the sight.

Five Reapers had managed to avoid the stag and began casting spells that looked suspiciously like the Killing Curse. He dropped in altitude, pressing his body against the surface of his Firebolt as he executed a series of barrel rolls and just barely managed to dodge all five beams.

Harry didn’t give them a chance for a second volley, doubling back in one sharp movement until he was face to face with his targets.

There were no spells, he just plowed into them with the full force of his body and magic, knocking two off their brooms and heading for a third.

He saw, as he was charging towards the wizard, a spark of fear. Unlike Voldemort’s Death Eaters, the Reapers wore no masks, displaying their faces proudly to even their enemies. Their only distinguishing feature was the stark white symbol of the Deathly Hallows on the back of each of their cloaks and the mad glint in their eyes.

Harry watched as the man’s blue eyes widened with fear as his hands slipped from the handle of his broom and he plummeted more than a hundred feet.

Harry saw it, and he laughed.

His magic was fully released now, outright overwhelming the weaker of the group and causing them to pass out and fall. His magic was free, it was unrestrained and crackling gloriously in the crisp night air, Samhain air.

He was surrounded now. The remaining Reapers had regrouped and gathered around him. Harry finally drew his wand, allowing his magic to spread to the surrounding area, affecting everyone around him.

With one smooth downward swipe the Reapers suddenly found their brooms dragging them down. It wasn’t an uncontrolled fall, so most of them made it down relatively unharmed, but it fulfilled its purpose.

The rest of the fight would take place on the ground.

Harry swooped down, smoothly discarding his broom and casting another Severing Charm in the same breath.

The decapitation of their friend seemed to shock the Reapers out of their stupor, and so the battle continued. Harry drew the attention of most of the Reapers, keeping the few still attacking the castle to a manageable level, but Harry wasn’t thinking about that.

In fact, Harry was barely thinking at all. He was almost exclusively acting on instinct now as the ducked and dodged out of the way of several elite wizards.

His laughter rang out in the chaos, giving the Reapers chills, magic ensuring they knew exactly how powerful he was.

Harry hadn’t felt this light in years.

 

-break-

 

Tom had followed Harry out of the castle even as the Professors bottlenecked the entrance, picking off the few straggling Reapers that came by. He watched as Harry took to the skies, creating havoc alongside his stag Patronus. He was there when Harry forced them to the ground and began cutting through their ranks. He saw when the terrifying grin that always graced the man’s features when fighting transformed into full blown laughter.

Hysterical and uncontrolled laughter.

Tom was at an impasse. On one hand he wanted to revel in Harry’s enjoyment; the man’s unrestrained power was literally intoxicating and Tom was happy to get drunk off of Harry’s very presence.

But on the other hand the Reapers were falling fast. Well trained as they were, nothing could have prepared them for the full wrath of Harry’s magic. Grindelwald likely suspected he was powerful after the incident in Hogsmeade, but powerful just wasn’t a strong enough term.

Harry was dominating, absolutely eviscerating his opposition, occasionally with nothing but raw magic. Even if some of them made it out alive, they were guaranteed to never raise their wands again.

At the speed they were going down, the battle would be over soon. It looked like Grindelwald wasn’t planning on making an appearance, otherwise he would have ordered a retreat the second this disaster began.

As Tom was entranced by the display, he forced himself to focus. He couldn’t afford to get lost in the man’s magic, not yet.

Tom needed to make plans for after the battle.

The Reapers were down to just a dozen remaining members. They had completely given up on their assault of the castle and were instead focused on getting out alive. The professional duelists were cowering, some had already fled entirely.

He watched, entranced as they fell one by one… 5.

Harry whipped his wand around, pinning one to the ground as the Patronus stag stomped him flat… 4.

The light of the moon was shining on Harry. It was just shy of a full moon, and its glow, along with his magic made him look absolutely ethereal… 3.

Terrifying and beautiful green eyes flashed through the night, becoming the last thing the Reapers saw… 2.

Harry moved, swift as the air itself and just as merciless, dispatching his foe… 1.

The final Reaper was begging. She was a woman, with long black hair that was wildly tangled and matted with blood. She dropped to her knees, desperate cries for mercy filling the otherwise silent, night air.

A few of the Professors had ventured away from the safe confines of the castle to see if the threat had truly ended, coming face to face with Harry holding a surrendering witch at wand point, covered in the blood of fallen foes.

Tom snapped out of his trance and rushed to his side.

 

-break-

 

Harry was in ecstasy, his magic fueling him like a drug, washing away all signs of exhaustion.

Everything was a blur, he couldn’t see the faces as they flashed by him, or hear the voices as they screamed and begged. All he knew was that he had to defeat the enemy.

All of them.

Harry raised his wand, taking aim at a nameless, faceless Reaper, magic thrumming happily through the holly and Phoenix feather as he prepared to end it. Everything.

He was only vaguely aware of a hand on his forearm. Harry could barely feel the echoes of the physical sensation, like it was happening to a different person.

But his magic, though, it shivered at the contact and curled submissively at the touch of a much Darker magic.

Harry’s eyes came into focus and he saw the pitifully begging woman on her knees in front of him.

He turned his head sharply and saw the Professors staring at him, eyes filled with something he recognized, something he knew well.

He looked at Galatea and something inside of him clicked at the unmistakable appearance of fear in her eyes.

So, Harry disappeared.