January 9, 1945
Harry spent three days in the Hogwarts' Library, turning all his curiosity into intensity; he read voraciously and laid down in bed every day in an exhausted state.
Until the fourth day, close to noon, Tom smiled and returned to Hogwarts.
"I'm back, Harry." He smiled, relaxed, and sat beside Harry, who was immersed in reading. Even if he lowered his voice, it would be very clear in the large and quiet library.
Harry didn't look up, but his posture stiffened.
"I brought you some Black Forest cakes and put them on your office desk." Tom leaned up to Harry; from behind his shoulder, he looked at the book spread out in front of him through Harry's lenses. His action was intimate, but it didn't arouse Harry in the slightest; if anything, he felt mild disgust. He had long been unwittingly and sadly accustomed to this distance.
Tom's sight glided over the slightly pale skin of the youth and fell onto the title of the chapter: 'The Application and Practice of Defence Against the Dark Arts.'
"You really like Defence Against the Dark Arts!" Tom lamented.
Harry, still sitting, merely agreed sullenly.
Tom spread out a book he summoned into his hands, his fingers groping the rough binding and used its texture to help stimulate his musings.
"...Harry, when I went to deliver the cake to your office… Why was it empty?" Tom looked firmly at the young man, his gaze focused; the smile by the corner of his mouth was unable to keep its shape, unable to hold it in anymore. Needless to say, he could already vaguely guess the direction of this situation.
"Hm, it needs to be emptied." Harry's expression was as calm as stagnant water.
Tom felt a piece from the corner of his heart break.
"Tom, I've been planning on telling you about this." Harry looked up, rubbing his temples, and looked straight ahead at the bookshelves where books were constantly flying in, unwilling to even spare a glance to the teenager sitting next to him. "I quit."
The teenager's eyes were red; unfortunately, Harry didn't catch a glimpse of it.
Tom lowered his head to hide the unnatural red tint.
"That's alright. Being a professor is slightly cumbersome, you should go home and rest for a while."
Harry chuckled as if he found humor in the child's flustered words, which tried to cover up his attempt at self-comfort.
"I'm probably not coming back."
Going back and going home; only one word differentiated the two, yet their meanings were very different.
Harry's first home, Godric Valley from 1980, was, in the end, destroyed by Voldemort's Killing Curse; his home after that, Hogwarts from 1991, was annihilated by Voldemort's repressive rule; his third home after that, Godric Valley from a week ago, disappeared under Tom Riddle's disguise.
His only home now was the tent on the other side of the hourglass, ready to migrate at any time.
Harry closed the book in front of him and put the notebook he had brought into his backpack. "I won't go back, but you can still stay in that house. Stay for as long as you'd like."
"Where are you going?" Tom grabbed Harry by the wrist, his grip so strong Harry felt a little pained.
"Tom, let go." As Harry got up, the pain wrapped around his wrist increased. Harry shook his wrist in an attempt to pull it off.
"You're not allowed to go!" His voice sounded like it was rolling out from his throat like a growl.
Harry laughed. "I didn't even stop you from going to Germany, what right do you have to stop me from leaving?"
Everything seemed to slow down with this one sentence.
This matter, from beginning to end, completely exceeded his expectations; from the situation's developments to Harry's attitude towards him, nothing was how he imagined it to be.
Perhaps subconsciously, Tom Riddle had become confident in his position with Harry. Perhaps Harry's repeated concessions had given the arrogant Slytherin this view - Harry may become angry, indignant, disappointed, or (occasionally) leave, but Harry had never given up Tom completely. Like when he found out he opened the Chamber of Secrets; no matter how desperate, sad or conflicted he was, he never let go of his hands.
The reason why he dared to be so foolish was because of the security that person subconsciously brought to him. Just like a girl facing her father; the reason why she'd dare to be so headstrong and lose her temper was that she knew he'd never leave her.
But everyone's tolerance had a line; once crossed, you can't come back from it.
This time, for example.
Tom raised his head suddenly, his scarlet eyes in full view.
It wasn't the first time Harry had seen the blood-red eyes, but it was the first time he saw the colour in the eyes of his child.
His gaze was stung by that bright colour.
"If you are dissatisfied with me going to Germany..." Tom took a deep breath, playing the role of an innocent and ignorant character; his handsome and sincere expression was extremely deceptive, but those scarlet eyes were too abrupt on his face.
"Malfoy asked me to go…" He bluffed.
"How's Karkaroff?" Harry interrupted, piercing all the flaws simply and directly, "The mark on his arm no longer hurts, right?"
He couldn't do it anymore.
Tom could no longer try to play innocent. He clenched his teeth, the shape of his masseter muscles faintly outlined on both cheeks; his expression was no different from that of a beast snapping at its prey's throat - twisted, ferocious and vicious.
"Don't go." It was the first time Tom felt so panicked. Even when he stood in the Chamber of Secrets against Harry, he could analyze the gains and losses with extreme calm and take the most favourable course of action. Now, he could only hope to hold onto his wrist. "You promised me countless times you'd be around to watch me grow up!"
"And you've grown up, haven't you?" Harry reached out and grabbed at Tom's cold fingers in an attempt to pry them off. "You promised me before, you'd just be Tom Riddle."
You didn't keep your promise, so why should I?
Harry looked extremely tired, and he pushed his palm at Tom's fingers. "Let go."
"I was wrong, Harry." He looked at him, the hand on Harry's wrist refusing to lax; even the warmth of Harry's palm couldn't melt the coldness around his body. "I admit I'm wrong, so don't go, okay?"
Harry watched for the first time as the stubborn child humbled himself before him. Even during his worst moments at the orphanage, even when facing death in the London bombing, Tom never pleaded. Everything was always a demand. Always a statement. He'd never asked Harry for anything. Until now. Tom's grieving tone in his question 'okay?' rang in Harry's ears.
But Tom would never believe himself wrong, even if he said it like so. Even if he said all of this.
"You like to think that everything's survival of the fittest; that it's only natural for the strong to feast on the weak. You believe that pursuing the greatest benefit is the supreme truth; you feel that all this you have done is understandable because you want to achieve something unmatchable, right?" Harry paused, gazing sadly into Tom's eyes.
"You'll never admit you're wrong, Tom," Harry whispered brokenly, laughing at the emotions he had left, all the words he could never hope to tell Tom lodged in his throat.
Harry wanted to believe Tom in spite of himself.
Who said Harry didn't understand Tom? Tom couldn't find the words to disagree with.
Even admitting this proved to be most despicable, for Tom never believed he did anything wrong.
"I have to go. Don't worry, I'll be back for your graduation." Harry reached out his hand and brushed Tom's neat hair, his action as intimate as before. "I promised to be here as you grow. Graduating is a part of all of that."
Harry had never attended a graduation ceremony before; had it not being for Hermione and popular science, he wouldn't even have known Hogwarts had such a ceremony. Because he didn't graduate.
Harry used his hand to pry apart each of Tom's fingers; his smile was as warm as ever, but it couldn't help but make one cry. "Congratulations, Tom. You're all grown up. You got exactly what you wanted."
Congratulations; you got exactly what you wanted, Tom Riddle.
Congratulations; you got exactly what you wanted, Voldemort.
Hey guys, this is a double update cAusE i fOrGOt tO uPDaTE hERe oN tUEsDAy AKJDKAJDKAJD