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August 14, 1943
It was raining early in the morning; not too heavily, just enough to slightly soothe the August heat. It'd been a long time since London was this hot. By the time Harry woke up, the road before their front door had been thoroughly dried, and only the humid air proved that it rained.
Harry was slightly uncomfortable; he'd always slept alone, or at least, alone on a bed, so for the child to suddenly share a bed with him he naturally felt unaccustomed. Especially when that child was already half a head taller than him.
Tom was sleeping deeply, half of his handsome face buried in the pillow, jawline gradually becoming more defined throughout the years, developing his child-like appearance into something mature. Although the teenage Slytherin was sleeping, he still resembled a creeping panther.
Harry scratched his sore, tousled head; lifting the quilt, he got off the bed and went downstairs to prepare breakfast.
Tom was acting strangely last night. Though he had feigned elusiveness, Harry could still detect the child's uneasy and agitated temperament, making Tom seem particularly fragile. His heart couldn't help but soften. What made him sit alone on the couch without even turning on the lights? What moved Tom so much, he couldn't bear to let Harry go?
Tom had hugged him tightly, using all his strength to hold onto him; his efforts made Harry's waist feel a little sore. Harry brought the eggs and bacon to the table before he lifted his cotton shirt, trying to twist his neck to check the source of his pain.
"It's bruised," someone said from behind him. Fingers came up to touch the skin of his lower back, fluttering next to his protruding spine. They weren't cold, but Harry had to fight a shiver.
Harry turned his head.
Tom stood behind him, looking down, silently pressed close. Harry couldn't help but say, "it's all right, it'll get better soon." It was Tom who hurt him, yet Harry still comforted him.
The Slytherin retracted his fingers, the tips still feeling the soft and smooth texture. Tom didn't verbalize his hidden thoughts. His lowered eyes, which should've been filled with guilt, were horribly bright instead - far too beautiful. Any dark marks that appeared on the pale skin were particularly impactful, and the significant colour contrast brought a sort of enchanting and seductive beauty.
Tom withdrew his gaze and sat down next to Harry, enjoying the tastes he had long been accustomed to.
"Did you sleep well yesterday? I hope my shifting didn't disturb you." Harry spoke easily, without a single sense of detachment. For Harry, they hadn't seen each for a day and a half, but for Tom, it had been half a year.
The silver fork Tom was about to deliver into his mouth paused, and a smile was unconsciously provoked. "No, it was good." How could the sense of satisfaction by having his prey right by his mouth not be pleasant?
Harry looked at the expression on the child's face. After he confirmed that Tom was no longer as restless as last night, he bowed his head back to his breakfast.
Harry's first breakfast back seemed so quiet and pleasant, you could almost call it peaceful.
But tenuous peace couldn't hide everything. It couldn't be used as a cloak to drown their reality. At the end of the day, truth and turmoil will always find a way to rise to the surface.
The Daily Prophet was the first to catch wind of the wizarding world's changing dynamics, which naturally didn't exclude the nearby wizarding homicide. But it seemed something more significant had happened that day, so the report that should've taken up a large portion of the newspaper's front pages was divided into small parts - three muggles were killed, and the murderer claimed to be a descendant of Slytherin.
Harry sat near the window in his study room, his eyes lifted to the dead bushes and arrogant weeds. Even magic couldn't restore them, as it couldn't create life; only imitate it. He relaxed his tense back and leaned his weight against his chair; laid out on his table was the brand-new edition of the Daily Prophet.
From just the title, without even looking through the detailed report, he knew what had happened.
Tom had gone to old Gaunt's Shack.
Harry couldn't even muster an ounce of anger.
He tried to imagine the encounter. What did Tom find? Naturally, it was his uncle's roars and his father's indifference.
In a sense, Harry was much happier than Tom - at least he wasn't abandoned and left behind. At least he had people who returned his love.
In his fourth year, standing on the bones of Tom Sr., he watched the newly resurrected and chalk-like Voldemort point to the gloomy Riddle House. He'd said hoarsely, "My father resided there... My mother... Fell in love with him, but when my mother revealed her identity as a witch, he abandoned her. He hated magic..."
Tom Riddle Sr. didn't like magic? Of course. He didn't even like Merope before the revelation, much less the existence of the unexpected 'hybrid'.
A father plays a crucial role in the life of a child, so rejection from one's father could be detrimental.
Tom had already spliced his soul and stripped himself of all weaknesses and cowardice, but the heartless villain had still whispered through gritted teeth the most primitive words from parents who knowingly deceived themselves - ' he just didn't like magic '.
And he said ' I vow to avenge him'.
How could anyone hate their parents? Individuals who had no other ties outside of those blood-relations.
The more expectations placed on their parents, the more profound their pain becomes when these expectations are never met. Disappointment would fester into resentment, which would then turn into hatred and become burrowed deep into the child's heart. Spite and loathing, when accumulated to a certain level, would be all-consuming.
That's why the usually calm child had held him and refused to let go. That's why the typically self-restrained Slytherin stubbornly insisted on sleeping with him.
Harry felt his heart temper.
He sighed and folded the newspaper, occluding that particular section of the report, before throwing it into the bin.
For the first time, Harry didn't condemn the act of annihilating another life, didn't feel morose for the deceased "innocents", and wasn't angered at Tom for being a murderer. Just like how he condoned Myrtle's death, Harry once again chose to be passive, silent.
On the one hand, these victims were strangers Harry didn't know or have any particular opinions of. On the other was the child he raised and nurtured into early adulthood. Who was more important?
Tom's father had despised Tom's existence, and his mother failed to do right by him. Tom needed someone to sympathize.
Harry didn't know if a woman would be willing to feel sympathetic towards Tom and his plight after he turned twenty, but before then, at least Tom would have him.
Harry returned. Tom's chaotic mind had cleared again, and the long-overlooked problems were back on the table.
Tom sat by his bedroom desk and turned his head. His gaze fell straight on Harry, who was weeding their yard. Tom watched him grab at the dirt before whirling it to the opposite wall, even patting his hands together in quiet satisfaction.
Tom tilted his chin as he watched, and couldn't help but find it amusing - he could've been a Gryffindor, for only they would enjoy such childish gestures in such pastimes.
The Slytherin's eyes suddenly turned gloomy. Maybe, in the future, he was a Gryffindor.
Right. Harry... He's from the future.
A deliberately ignored, but unavoidable problem once again emerged - he jumped a hundred years before his time, and for what purpose?
To take care of a measly orphan?
What kind of charity was this? Tom laughed to himself in disbelief.
There could only be one reason for anyone from the future to return to the past - to change the trajectory of history by either killing a villain or saving a hero.
Then could it be that Tom Riddle was a hero? Hah. Don't be ridiculous.
"Hey, Tom, come down and help!" Harry gestured to his audience lying by the window and waved him down.
"I got it." Tom stood up and watched Harry pensively raise his head and smile, his eyes deep; beckoning.
Where did he come from, and what was his purpose?
Tom didn't know.
Either way, he couldn't leave anymore.
Who told you to smile at the Devil?