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47 Days to Change (a translation) @snow_owl01
Confusion and Hope

Chapter 9

NOTE: This is a translation of a Chinese HP Fanfiction by 墨玉绿


December 20, 1932

Harry sat in front of the fire-place, cross-legged, and stroked the fire with an iron poker.

They lived in a large house in the suburb of London. His name — Harry Potter — painted neatly on the mailbox. Although the Weasley twins were well-known jokesters, their abilities were equally unquestionable. In eleven short days, they managed to get Harry everything he needed— from a birth certificate to a bank account large enough to buy a house.

The two children were in bed. The empty silence made the large house seem rather lonely.

Harry inspected the Slytherin's Lockets. Its smooth, golden curvatures reflected orange glow of the fire, and redirected lights into Harry's green eyes. He was deep in thoughts. The Horcrux couldn't have vanished without a cause... Harry was sure Tom's presence had something to do with it.

Harry sighed. Magical theory was not his speciality... better leave it for Hermione. He tucked the Locket away and rubbed his temple.

He waited until the fire extinguished, until coals went dead as their burning redness receded. Then, Harry dragged himself to bed.

Even the softest feather bed was not enough to comfort his exhausted body. Harry stared at the ceiling in the darkness; his versions blurred.

He felt so tired, like he was lost in a maze, a gigantic, endless maze more dangerous than the one in the Triwizard Tournament. He ran; he screamed; he searched for an exit, but there were none. He was all alone in the dark— a trapped lab rat in a maze— as Fate watched him from above, omniscient as it built more and more walls around him.

So Harry had managed to adopt Tom successfully. Yet, Fate hadn't made its move.

Harry turned over in bed. He couldn't get these terrible thoughts out of his head.

Hermione had said, Fate allowed certain changes to happen, because it believed those changes were minor in the grand scheme of history. If Fate didn't care that Harry adopted Tom... then... did that mean that no matter what Harry did, Tom would always end up as Voldemort?

The Dark Lord. You-know-who. Mass murderer. Voldemort.

Harry covered his eyes. He laughed bitterly. Then, lying alone in the darkness, for the briefest moment, Harry regretted his decision. The thought spread through his mind like a virus, latching onto his weakness, poisoning his resolve.

Harry sprung up in bed, shaking with cold sweat. He mustn't think these thoughts. One moment of weakness and he would lose the war. He would lose everything. There was no going back.

Harry was scared— scared of the unknown, of the future. He wanted to go home.

Suddenly, Harry realized what he needed to do— right now, he needed to go see the boy.

Tom lied on his bed, eyes-shut, but he wasn't asleep.

His new room wasn't very big, just enough for two twin-sized beds, but it was warm and his duvet was soft. Tom should be sleeping. After the long, exciting day he had, Tom needed to rest and preserve his energy.

But he couldn't sleep. Anger only made his mind clearer, sharper.

Billy Stubbs was scrawled on the bed next to Tom's, snoring loudly. Tom sneered. The boy needed to thank Mr. Potter for putting them in separate beds, or Tom would have strangled him in his sleep... Come to think of it, Tom still might.

The little snake was still wrapped around Tom's wrist. Unlike most reptiles, its magical body required no hibernation. Tom contemplated on ordering his pet to use its deadly poison on the boy and his disgusting rabbit. Tomorrow, the headlines would lament how a foolish boy had accidently disturbed the nest of a hibernating viper, and, sadly, he passed away shortly after being bitten.

In the darkness, the child's face twisted with a savage satisfaction.

Suddenly, door hinges squeaked, the sound very clear in the night. Tom withdrew his thoughts, one hand on his wrist, prepared to wake his pet at a moment's notice. He listened carefully, readying to attack.

Fire continued to crackle in the furnace. There were sounds of muffed footsteps. Tom opened his eyes to a slit and watched as, from shadows reflected on the window pane, an intruder approaching them on tip-toes. It was Mr. Potter, who stopped in front of Billy's bed.

The reflection betrayed Mr. Potter's movements clearly. Gently, he pulled up the half-fallen duvet and tucked it under Billy's chin, wrapping the boy tightly, as if he thought a mere new furnace was not enough for his precious charge. A rustling of fabrics, almost inaudible as fire crackled.

Tom lied on his side, his back toward Mr. Potter, but his eyes were glued on the young man's reflection. On the window pane, the blurry shapes somehow looked perfectly clear to Tom. He could see the smile that lingered on those red lips. A smile that wasn't meant for Tom... Tom bit his lips.

He didn't care for Mr. Potter's smile! It was so fake, the smile of a disgustingly hypocritical man. Tom didn't care... so why does he feel like choking at sight of those lips?

Tom glared at the glass pane, dark eyes unwavering, perhaps hoping he could shatter it with his mind.

The face on the window pane turned away from Billy. Tom watched as the shape moved toward his bed. Then, he hurriedly closed his eyes and gritted his teeth. His fists tightened, as if readying for battle.

Tom always took care of himself. He tucked himself in, and he never kicked his duvet off the bed. If you were dumb enough to sleep like Billy, within the cold walls of the orphanage, then you deserved to die of hypothermia. Tom's duvet remained wrapped tightly around him, fitting perfectly. So there was no reason for Mr. Potter to tuck in his sheets...

Besides, judging by the man's attitude toward Tom, he wouldn't lift a finger even if Tom was lying— dying —in the snow.

The boy squeezed his eyes shut, feigning asleep. His mind mocked him with terrible and wonderful thoughts. Tom's fingernails bit into his flesh, almost drawing blood, yet no clue on the boy's face betrayed his inner turmoil. Again and again, Tom stabbed his own heart with cruel words that borderline on masochism... He wanted to keep a clear head, no false hopes, yet he couldn't kill the yearning blossoming within his heart.

No matter how hard Tom tried to act mature and rational, he was still a four years old boy. Although Tom never knew love, he still hoped for it... even just for a little bit.

So, eyes-closed, Tom waited.

He waited. One second passed, then two, then three— even if Tom thought such hopes were childish and beneath him — He waited.


See, he doesn't like you, a sharp voice penetrated his mind. No one was coming, nothing but fire crackling and wind howling outside. Tom's pretence fell away. Such a stupid tactic, pretending to be asleep waiting for Mr. Potter, it was a mockery to Tom's intelligence. So stupid of him.

He had left already, while you were waiting like an idiot.

Tom exhaled deeply, ignoring the strange sadness spreading in his chest. He opened his eyes.

"Sorry, did I wake you?"

Harry's green orbs locked with Tom's surprised ones. The black-haired young man sat on the floor by Tom's bed, in silence, eyes fixed on the child's sleeping face. Their eyes met. The sight of those crystal-clear emerald eyes struck Tom to the core. His normally fast-paced brain froze and, slowly and unintentionally, the tension uncoiled.

"I'm leaving now... Go back to sleep." The man soothed in his quiet voice, a little embarrassed at being caught. He got up to leave.

Tom looked up at him in a daze. He didn't know what to say.

The boy's large eyes followed Harry, a flash of vulnerability in those deep, ebony orbs, brief like extinguishing flames.

Harry hesitated. He pursed his lips and laid a hand carefully on the boy's forehead.

"Go to sleep."

Tom wrapped himself tightly in the duvet. His forehead tickled; the man's warm touch lingered on his skin.

That one simple gesture was almost enough to tear down the walls of hatred that the boy built around himself.

Tom was never soft, tender, or caring. He wouldn't hesitate to rob a staving man of his last piece of bread. But... when the dark-haired young man had sat next to his bed, breathing quietly, watching Tom with clear, caring green-eyes that were unmarked by scorn or rejection— those eyes made Tom feel like the most important person in the world. Tom thought he could look into those eyes forever.

Suddenly, unexplainable emotions washed over Tom. His chest hurt and something lumped in his throat. These unfamiliar bursts scared him.

He closed his eyes. Mr. Potter's images filled his head.

Tom cocooned himself into the duvet. He felt weird.

But... he didn't dislike those feelings.

Next day, the sky was clear. Warm sunlight dispersed all of winter's gloominess, and brought life back to London.

Tom woke as soon as he felt warm sunshine on his face. He tended to be sensitive to lights.

Billy was still asleep. His pet rabbit was awake, though, red-eyes turning toward Tom, pink lips trembling.

Tom glared at the dumb animal.

"Can I eat him, Tom?" The little snake climbed up Tom's arm, drooling at the sight of the fat creature.

Tom's eyes zoomed toward a brand-new set of clothes on his bed. Billy had a similar set on his bed too. Tom's thin lips twitched, his smile not entirely genuine.

"Of course... You can eat the human too, for that matter... But... wait until it and its idiotic owner are sent back to the Orphanage."

The viper seemed surprised. It hissed in Tom's ears. "Then, are you staying here? And are you planning to chase him out?"

Tom buttoned up his shirt. The fresh, black cashmere sweater fitted snugly on his body. With his new, expensive clothes, he looked very handsome. Soft hair tucked neatly behind his ears, lustrous as the best black pearls. The four-years-old sat on his bed and glared at Billy's face, pink flesh poking out from under the duvet.

He chuckled darkly.

"Here—this — all is rightfully mine, so why should I leave? All is rightfully mine... And he will not enjoy any of it!"

Cheerfully, Tom bounced over to Billy's bed. His hands wrapped around the Muggle boy's exposed throat, then tightened.

The pain startled the boy awake.

He coughed. "TOM!... Ugh—Ugh— What are you doing?!"

Tom watched as Billy clawed at the hands around his throat; he grinned brightly.

On the future of this fic:

1) Note that this story progress very slowly... The author published 60ish chapters already and those two are still not together. Tom/Harry's relationship gets pretty dark and twisted. You have been warned.

2) Tom is a psychopath ( or high-functioning sociopath, whichever you prefer...) and Harry is a bit of bleeding-heart. That's not going to change.

3) However, the author DID promise a happy ending. So Tom/Harry will end up together. Let's hold her to that.

Thanks for reading

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