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47 Days to Change (a translation) @snow_owl01
A Real Illusion

September 12, 1942

As the relationship between Tom and Harry grew more complex the rest of the school was captivated by the tournament. The day the Champions were to be announced had arrived and all eyes were on the Goblet of Fire. Everyone was sitting in the Great Hall for the ceremony, watching the blue flames with bated breath. After two weeks, the students were more than ready to know who among them would be called a Champion.

Harry and Alphonse were sitting at the end of the Ravenclaw table along with some of the foreign guests. Joan, as their leader, was sitting with the professors and the headmaster.

Harry watched the Goblet of Fire attentively, knowing what would happen next. Of course, it brought to mind the tournament of the future where it was his name resounding through the Great hall.

"Do you think I qualified for the Triwizard Tournament, Mr. Potter?" A Beauxbatons girl asked with sparkling eyes and a shy smile. The Ravenclaw and Beauxbatons students nearby turned to hear his answer.

Something about the girl was familiar to Harry but he couldn't for the life of him figure out where he'd seen her before. The only Beauxbatons student he really knew was Fleur. Maybe this girl was her grandmother? Harry smiled at the thought, but found it a bit unlikely.

"I'm afraid only the Goblet of Fire knows." Harry said, politely.

The Beauxbatons girl smiled as he turned his attention back to the Goblet of Fire. His eyes burned with a power and confidence that she found charming.

Harry might not remember her but she certainly remembered him.

One day, by chance, she caught sight of a Patronus, something she had never been able to cast herself. In fact, she'd never even had the opportunity to see a corporeal Patronus before and was surprised by the calm and peace the creature exuded. Out of curiosity, she followed the silvery stag, watched its leisurely stroll, and enjoyed the feeling of the soothing power that flowed from it. She'd always wanted to cast such a powerful spell; one that few could cast. Who in the castle could have so much power, she had wondered.

Then, she saw Harry.

Romance blossomed in her heart at the sight of someone so powerful, despite never having had a conversation with him. Perhaps if she could prove herself strong enough or produce her own Patronus he would see the witch she was and be equally as enamored with her as she was with him!

The naïve girl let her romantic imagination run wild, confident in her abilities.

Unfortunately for her, Harry had more important things on his mind.

Tom quietly watched Harry over the Goblet of Fire. The teenager's dark eyes glared daggers at the oblivious man.

The Goblet of Fire spit out the first parchment – "The Durmstrang Champion is Dieter Charlov."

Tom's gaze swept along the Hufflepuff table where the Durmstrang students had chosen to sit. Of course, the face that interested him the most was not Dieter's childishly ecstatic one but that of another student whose face was twisted with resentment, anger, and sinister jealousy.

Those terrible emotions were the gateway to the Dark Arts.

To Tom, there was nothing more fascinating than watching others fall so far that they could no longer escape from their own darkness. After all, he'd fallen quite far himself.

What was the name of that boy with the crooked nose? Karkaroff?

The cheers of the students died down as the Goblet of Fire spit out the second slip. Adjusting his glasses Armando Dippit declared: "The Beauxbatons Champion is Mylene Lance."

Harry leaned forward and spoke to the girl being congratulated as her classmates sighed with envy. There was an extraordinary calm amongst the students, though, so it seemed like the girl had been expected to be chosen.

Tom looked the girl up and down. What a bland thing, Tom thought with disdain.

With two of the school Champions announced, the Hogwarts students were on the edge of their seats as those who entered their names hoped to get called and their friends and housemates supported them. The Goblet of Fire shot the last piece of paper and the Gryffindors went wild. The last Champion left the room to join the others as the whole room watched.

Harry didn't know the Champion and his name hadn't left an impression on him. Harry watched the seventh year Minerva McGonagall try to hide her excitement behind her usual reserved façade though her lips kept twitching into a smile. He could also see Hagrid, already big enough to be noticeable in a crowd, dance with excitement.

With the all the Champions announced, and with their subsequent exit, the evening excitement started to subside.

Harry asked Alphonse if he wanted to head back to their room but Alphonse firmly shook his head. The man was starving and wanted to enjoy the feast and the excited atmosphere. Harry shrugged but got up with the intention of leaving the noisy room anyway.

Once the hunter saw his prey move, he smirked and set out with a trap in mind.

There had been a wide variety of others who had gotten in the way of his prey lately, much to the displeasure of the jealous hunter. Time had been wasted but now one of the biggest problems had been left behind.

He knew part of the reason Harry was often in a group was to escape Tom when all Tom wanted was to talk to him alone.

"Harry." Tom greeted Harry softly.

Harry froze for a few seconds when the tall handsome boy suddenly appeared from around the corner.

"I wanted to wish you a good night, Harry. I hope you didn't take offense to me calling you my father." Tom said, laying the foundation of the trap.

At Tom's last word, Harry relaxed; letting some of his discomfort go.

"I thought you were just ..." Harry trailed off, biting his lip. After the day's excitement had worn off, he had come to the realization that Tom had purposely called him that in front of his fellow Slytherins. It had only been a way to conceal his heritage and the thought had hurt.

"Father?" His child called to him again, with a question in his voice, and with a flash Harry felt that warmness again. Hearing himself called that was very rewarding and maybe it wasn't just a way Tom was using him.

Harry was surprised by how dearly he wanted that to be true.

He wanted to reach out and ruffle Tom's hair but decided it would be too awkward with Tom just half a head shorter than him. He didn't know how else he could express his affection to Tom.

"I'm very happy you call me that." Harry said to try to get the message across.

Tom deliberately softened his face and smiled gently to further soften Harry's defenses.

It seemed strange to Harry that Voldemort hadn't changed even though he'd watched over the child who would become him. All he could see was the good in him and not a speck of the man he could become had appeared. Harry was even beginning to question the accuracy of history.

"By the way, Harry, I was moved to a new room only I have access to." Tom said.

Harry was completely baffled, thrown off by the non sequitur. Why had Tom brought that up?

"I was given a Prefects bedroom where we could talk in private." The young man stubbornly went on when Harry didn't get the hint.

Tom pouted which was something Harry hadn't seen since Tom was five years old. When Harry still hesitated, Tom continued, "I feel like we haven't spent much time together lately."

"I guess I can go see your new room," Harry smiled.

The teenager nodded and turned to lead the way in silence.

Harry followed behind Tom as they walked to the Prefect's bedroom. They didn't speak but there was a peaceful air between them, almost like his Patronus was walking with them.

Tom Riddle had grown from a child into a teenager. Harry stared at the back of his head. He'd had close to a decade with the child and could compare the Tom Riddle he had known in the future to the one in front of him. He tried to measure the differences between them.

Unfortunately, because he thought the child familiar to him he couldn't look without bias, and that created an illusion.

The hunter's cage was slowly closing around him but Harry was blind to it.

Tom was happy as he walked along, though Harry didn't know that it was a mask to hide Tom's true mood. A decade spent raising Tom had degraded Harry's vigilance.

The Prefect's bedroom was larger than the normal dorm, despite being meant for just one person. Harry looked around curiously but Tom was impatient.

"Harry, have you been avoiding me?" The young man sat on the bed, face as still as marble, and his voice distant.

Harry's heart twinged. He knew his actions weren't fair to Tom.

He wanted to say that it wasn't true, that he had no reason to do so but he couldn't deny it.

The teenager didn't speak when Harry kept his silence. Instead, he lowered his eyes. Sitting there with his downcast face, he looked absolutely dejected.

To Harry, Voldemort was arrogant, the Pensieve Tom Riddle was cunning and hypocritical, and the Tom Riddle trapped in the orphanage was bitter and hostile. The Tom Riddle before him was none of those things, just a lonely child.

Harry went to stand beside him. With the teenager sitting on the bed, Harry was finally tall enough to comfortably lay his hand on Tom's head.

"I'm sorry, Tom. As long as you are a good person, I won't do that again." Harry said, running his fingers through Tom's hair.

Tom's bowed head hid his cold eyes. Harry wanted him to be good? Harry definitely had some idea of what Tom was doing.

"Of course, I'll be good." He put on a warm smile as he enjoyed the gentle touch on his head.

A lie but Harry didn't have to know that. And if Harry ever found out, he'd find a way to force him to stay. Never again would Harry be out of his reach.

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