NOTE: This is a translation of a Chinese HP Fanfiction by 墨玉绿
BETA: the brilliant and awesome AzulticSerpens
August 27, 1939
It was as though the world was ending.
Even though the ground trembled violently beneath his feet and deafening explosions reverberated in his eardrums, the handsome young boy paid no attention to his surroundings. His entire world condensed into that one quiet phrase — "I'm sorry." The two simple words were enough to plunge his gut into icy waters.
It felt like his world was ending.
As the house crumbled all around him, Tom remained unnaturally still. His jet-black hair tousled a mess, his normally neat clothing wrinkled and torn, sweat and dust dirtied his roundish elegant face. Yet, as the young boy stared up at Harry intently, he appeared utterly calm, impassive, without a single word of plea or accusation. His dark eyes were as unreadable as unexplored deep seas, his posture as proud as a solitary wolf.
Harry's hands trembled. He met the boy's gaze and suddenly felt like he was back in the Pensieve, watching Dumbledore's memories, observing the eleven year old orphan as he spoke, his voice ringing with anger and distrust:
"—I don't believe you."
It was as if an invisible hand was tightening around his throat. Harry gasped for breath. Dimly, he wondered if the foul smell of the air was poisoning his brain, because he couldn't think at all.
It had been so hard for this child to learn to smile and to even hug him once in a while. It had been so hard for this child to learn to love, learn to hope, and learn to believe in someone else. It had been so hard for this child to open up, to trust tentatively, then to remain desperately clinging to a home — to their home. This child was his child.
Blankly, Harry stared at the boy in front of him, at Tom Riddle.
No matter how Tom's future turned out, he was still Harry's child. Children were always the apples of their parents' eyes, no matter how mischievous they'd acted or what mistakes they've made. Suddenly, Harry was cast into a sinner repenting at the altar of church, on his knees, fingers locked in prayer; a wary traveller praying for forgiveness and guidance, begging God for the right path, asking if redemption was still possible, whether hope still endured...
Yet, no such guidance came, only more and more bombs fell. The poor, battered house couldn't remain standing much longer.
"TOM!" Harry shouted. A chandelier was knocked loose and came crashing down to where Tom stood.
There was only a split second to react, but a split second was all Tom needed. Immediately, Tom made his decision to test Harry one last time, to give him one last... chance. Tom narrowed his eyes and steeled his body, but he didn't dive out of the way. With a loud boom, the chandelier crumpled to his left and, miraculously, only grazed his arm. Tom remained utterly still as if frozen in fear, even as pain shot through him, only keeping his eyes glued on Harry's face. A dislocated steel hook left a nasty bleeding gash on his left arm.
"Tom!" Almost on instinct, Harry ran to the boy, all colour draining from his face.
Harry never wanted to see Tom's face like this — so utterly ashen like a dead man, with emotionless eyes of an creature abandoned by the world, so proud and composed and calm as if he hadn't noticed Harry's cowardly betrayal at all.
The boy squeezed his bleeding arm. Fingers tightened around his wand. Soft bangs hid the sorrow and madness ensnarled within the darkness of his eyes. In the dim lights, Tom stood still, waiting for the man's approaching steps.
This man wanted to kill him, yet couldn't help but worry about his injuries— Harry, what a maddening paradox you are! And it shall prove to be your downfall!
Tom's mouth curled into a sinister smile, exposing two rows of gleaming white teeth. His eyes were sharp like that of a trapped beast, stalking the man's every step; a pitiful beast cocooned in darkness, licking his wounds where no one could see.
Beneath that deceptive calmness, the boy's eyes hid a flash of desperation and anguish. The young Slytherin heir was smart enough to see through Harry's intentions. After all, he had obsessed over everything about the man— he knew him better than he knew himself!
He knew it!— He should've known that Tom Riddle's existence was a burden to Harry Potter. He should've known that no one was happy that he existed.
But... if Harry didn't care about him, why did he adopt him? Why did he give him a home? Why did he smile at him? Why did he try so hard to worm his way into Tom's heart, only to abandon him? Why did he give him a taste of love and hope, before ripping it away so cruelly?
It was a thousand times crueler to give a beggar a taste of extravagance and luxury, before striking him out into his old penury.
Should Tom be grateful for such a lesson?
If you are going to abandon me, dearest Harry, then I must pay you back for everything you have done—
Suddenly, Tom backed away, dark eyes capturing Harry's gaze. Dark pupils dilated as he looked into familiar green eyes, challenging the man like a snarling wolf cub. Slowly, he raised his wand.
Harry gazed back at the child, into those dark vicious eyes which held so much sorrow and grief. He couldn't breathe as he stared into the boy's blood-shot eyes. The redness in them looked oddly familiar.
"Damn it!" Harry cursed, punching the wall in frustration. He bit his lips until they bled. The boy's red eyes scorched into his mind. With shaking hands, he rushed forward and scooped up the boy into his arms. He felt Tom's body stiffen with shock, but the boy didn't resist. Tom's fingers dug into Harry's shoulder, before the boy relaxed slightly and leaned into Harry's chest. His injured arm hooked around Harry's neck very tightly.
"Tom, grab onto me! We'll make a run for it." Harry roared, although his voice seemed oddly small in the backdrop of booming explosions and sirens. He licked his cracked lips. Smoke was stinging his eyes.
He knew what this act meant — but he made his choice. This meant he was denouncing his friends and family. This meant he was personally pushing them into the path of the Dark Lord, into a future and a past filled with war and death... all for the sake of his own selfish love.
"Is it worth it?" Hermione had asked him, once.
Was it worth it to sacrifice twenty or more years of his own life to try to save a Dark Lord who cannot be saved? Was it worth it to risk the lives of his friends and family to redeem a man who became a mass murder?
Even now, Harry would give her the exact same answer: "I don't know if it's worth it... But I need to do this."
Once again, that quiet, simple phrase exploded in Tom's ears, causing his mind to go blank. Although the tip of his wand had already been pressed furtively into Harry's waist, Tom couldn't bring himself to complete the action.
"Tom, I'm... I'm so sorry."
As if his prayer had been answered, suddenly Harry's mind became clear and determined; his eyes brimmed with tears as he apologized profusely, laying gentle kisses on top of the boy's head.
Tom felt Harry's arms tightening around him. He looked up at the young man's pale face, at the taut jaw and red-rimmed eyes.
Suddenly, the young boy smiled. In the dusty, darkening room, his smile was as bright as morning sun peeking from grey nimbus, so very warm and full of life.
Harry thought the boy's smile was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.
What Harry didn't know was beneath that beautiful smile, Tom also made his choice. Slowly, the boy removed the wand pointing at Harry's midsection; its tip still glowing with a dim green light.
Maybe he was no expert on defensive charms, but he had spent a lot time studying... the killing curse.
Harry was still rather naive. He hadn't learnt to never trust a Dark Lord. Even a very young one.
Yes, Tom had grown a lot since his time at the muggle orphanage. He had learned to smile and to embrace, and he had learned to lie and to pretend. He had learned about love and hope, and he had learned about jealousy and despair. He had learned to trust and to care, but... above all, he had learned that in order to keep his obsession by his side, he would need a lot more power.
He needed to learn to kill and to take!
Too bad you are planning to abandon me, because I am planning to never let you go... Even if I have to drag you to Hell with me, I will never let you go— Tom smiled contentedly, burying his head into Harry's shirt.
With one arm wrapped firmly around Tom, Harry's hand clutched the holly wand, attempting to apparate on the spot. Yet he couldn't... his body and magic were too weak, as he was still reeling from the aftermath of time-traveling. Right now, Harry wasn't as skilled as Dumbledore all those years ago; it would be extremely dangerous for him to attempt side-along apparition under his weakened state... Never mind dragging along an injured boy.
Harry pursed his lips.
Yet, he couldn't wait. Five seconds of hesitation could prove fatal.
Finally, their luck ran out. The next round of the blitz began without warning, bombs erupted in bright flashes of heat, rising from furnaces of Hell.
Before Harry could react, the ceiling caved in on top of them.
The curse blasted the falling plaster into pieces, temporarily clearing a pathway.
"Tom, we need to get out of the house first," Harry made sure Tom was wrapped tightly in his arms. "Don't be afraid."
"Okay," Tom murmured. His face pressed into the crook of Harry's neck, fingers digging into the other's shoulder.
Since the overhead beam had already broke, the walls were slowly crumbling under their own weight. The hardwood floor trembled with every explosion; debris fell from what remained of the ceiling. Still, Harry couldn't gather enough magic for apparition. It was too dangerous to wait. They needed to get out. Now.
A tangled mess of cement and steel blocked the door. If they were muggles, certainly they would've been trapped here, then buried alive once the house collapsed.
But they had magic.
Another blasting curse was enough to clear a path. Harry could see the front door was buckling under the crushing weight of teetering walls. Harry aimed his wand. He had one shot. Once he blast the door open, no doubt the house would flatten completely.
As more debris hit his back, Harry heard crackling noises of snapping wood. They only had one minute left. Maximum!
"Hold on tight!" Harry instructed the boy in his arms. He cast armour charms on Tom and himself. His hands were cold and clammy, green eyes burning so wonderfully bright.
There was no reason to be afraid. Fate and time would protect him, and in turn, he would protect Tom with his life. His body would act as the best shield.
As soon as the door was blasted off its hinges, a corner of the house began to collapse into a cloud of dust.
Although the Protego was an extremely useful spell, magic had its limitations. As Harry ran out of the house, shielding Tom with his own body, his face and arms were cut and bruised by falling debris. Blood dripped down his arms, leading a thin trail onto the street.
But, before they could even catch their breath, a V4 bomb fell straight onto the ruin of number 15 London Street. There was no time to run. On instinct, Harry pressed the boy into his chest and spun around, intentionally steering the boy away from the brunt of the blast.
The sound was so loud that it seemed to rip through their eardrums. Even with their magical protections, they were still flesh and bone, prone to internal bleeding, burns, and grave agony. The heat wave from the explosion threw Harry into the air. He landed awkwardly, painfully, but he did remember to hold onto Tom, cushioning the boy's fall with his back. The holly wand spun through the air, fell into a pile of burning rubble and disappeared.
Harry felt like every bone in his body had broke. His ears rang, his chest heaved painfully. Maybe there was even a rib fracture or two.
He stumbled up. Still, he mustered up a smile. At least, he couldn't die.
"Harry, I can walk—" Tom's eyes darkened as he released his arms, which remained wrapped around Harry's neck.
"NO! Hold onto me!" Harry yelled, breath short and gasping. "I won't die. Trust me, Tom. I can't die!"
The anxiety in Harry's voice was very genuine, and it made Tom's heart beat very fast. Suddenly, warm blood was rushing into his head, making his cheeks burn as he clutched onto Harry.
Immediately, they heard a buzzing noise overhead. A bomber jet flew at a ridiculously low attitude. A door opened from its tail and left behind a streak of yellow gas in the air. It dispersed rapidly, a pungent sulphurous smell hitting their noses at once.
Hurriedly, Harry covered the boy's mouth and nose with his hand. Through the yellow mist, he scanned the ruined landscape for his lost wand.
The mist stung their mouth and eyes. Harry's wand... was nowhere to be seen. Harry, who was ever so good-natured, began swearing loudly as his throat tightened, purple veins popping from his temple.
Nothing was more useless than a wizard without his wand!
They had to leave! The poison gas was beginning to affect him. Quickly, Harry decided to give up the wand. He turned and ran toward the nearest bomb shelter.
His shoulder wasn't much wider than Tom's body, yet somehow he managed protect the boy. Tom was largely unharmed as he curled in Harry's arms, listening to the other's thumping heartbeat.
Harry's trainers ripped open as he weaved through burned lawns and cracked pavements. His toes and heels were exposed to rough gravel, but he didn't slow down.
Bombers still droned overhead, preparing to commence their next round of attacks, poison gas and bombs loaded and ready to go.
Without his wand, without any protection, Harry ran across London that had been turned into a war zone, with Tom wrapped tightly and safely in his arms.
Since previously he had chosen to give up on him, now... he was choosing to do everything to protect him. His own injuries and blisters were not important — for he deserved those punishments.
At least he couldn't die.
AHHH! So much angst... Now I also need something to get the angst out my system. So I wrote a little crack piece to account for all reviewers' complains.
(Whispers) Hopefully Miss Author doesn't see this... If she does, may she please please ignore me... Please. Also, you are a genius! Keep updating! ... And maybe update a little bit faster? No pressure!
Sometimes in not-so-distant future:
Tom: Ugh! By Salazar, Harry, You have more mood swings than a pendulum in a hurricane.
Harry: But... Pendulums don't have mood swings.
Tom: You are missing the point... Anyways, the readers agree with me, right?
Harry: What readers?
Tom: The ones who say you're responsible for my abandonment issue.
Harry (splutters): Well...er...well. You killed my parents!
Tom: Technically, I didn't... yet.
Harry: Oh, yes, you did.
Tom: Oh, no, I didn't.
Tom: Ye... wait a minute! I see what you are doing. Are you seriously—
Harry (interrupts): No, I'm not Sirius. Sirius is my Godfather. A real cool dude. I should introduce you to him one day, but... your crazy follower had killed him... (Sobs uncontrollably)
Harry (still sobbing): I'll admit I have issues. But, Tom... you should know that you are my only family and... I love you.
Harry: Hem-hem. I said— I LOVE YOU.
Tom (whispers): Alright, alright... I love you too... ish... sort of...
Harry (grins): What's that? I can't hear you.
Tom grabs Harry's tie and pulls him in for a rough kiss.
Harry (eyes widen): !
Tom (smirks): Hey! The cue card over there says 'to kiss and make up'.
Harry: What cue card? I don't see any cue card.
Tom (rolls his eyes): Just shut up and kiss me.
(They kiss again. Roses bloom in the background. Light beams down from the ceiling. Audience applaud.)
(Snow_owl holds up a cue card that says: 'And they lived happily ever after. THE END')
See, no conflict makes for a short and boring tale ;)