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A Whisper

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Harry’s fingers trembled around the familiar smooth warmth of his holly and phoenix feather wand, humming readily in his hand. He watched Voldemort stalk around the tall pillars - but it wasn’t Voldemort, was it? It was Tom Riddle, the way Harry had seen him as an apparition in second year, only now. . .

Tom twirled his bone-white wand in his long fingers and smirked at Harry, his sea-green eyes catching Harry’s gaze. This Tom wasn’t an apparition, he was alive and very real, and Harry didn’t know how, but-

“Why-” Harry’s voice cracked as he tore his gaze away and looked at the blood washing the floor and splattering the walls. Shredded black robes and shattered masks surrounded most of the bodies . . . but not all of them. He swallowed down bile as he saw familiar red hair on one of the crumpled bodies behind Tom.

He couldn’t tell which of the Weasleys it was, could only see red hair, a patch of pale, freckled skin, and a blood-soaked blue robe.

“Why did you. . ?” Harry gestured weakly. Tom hadn’t killed everyone around them - a few of the Death Eaters had even fallen to Harry’s wand, and while once he would have felt guilt for that, now it only sparked a kind of hot, angry satisfaction - but most of them had died at his hand. Even his own followers, and that- that was strange; Tom might not exactly value his followers, but to kill them during a battle?

Tom’s smirk slipped into a smile, almost soft on his sharp, thin face. “Because they became a hindrance to my goal.” he murmured as he paced closer, only a few soft sibilants lingering in his tone, unlike the voice of the red-eyed, inhuman version of himself Harry had fought so often.

“Your goal?” Harry repeated, no less confused. Tom’s goal had always been power, immortality, respect - there was no reason his grovelling Death Eaters would hinder that.

“You.” Tom said, and Harry raised his wand again, belatedly realising he had dropped his hand. That, too - kill Harry Potter had been a goal for Tom for many years, but again, that was not served by-

Tom disappeared, and Harry spun to look for him, wary, nerves jangling.

“Because I love you.” Tom hissed into his ear, and Harry’s eyes went wide as he turned again, meeting sea-green eyes and a bizarrely soft smile.

“Wha- No!” Harry protested, backing away and nearly stumbling as his heels hit a body. He didn’t know whose and he didn’t want to look.

Tom caught his arms and pulled him closer, steadying him. “My older self, his vision had narrowed too far . . . we never found anyone who could be our match . . . and then you. . .” Tom nearly purred the words, his fingers stroking Harry’s wrists, and Harry realised Tom had put his wand away. “I couldn’t let him, or our followers, kill you.”

Harry swallowed convulsively, looking away, only for Tom to catch his chin and tilt his head back. Gently, not forcing him.

“I am not him.” Tom said, eyes narrowed slightly and thoughtful. “And I know patience,” his lips curled, “you do not want me now . . . but I can wait. You will come to me.” He dragged a finger along the underside of Harry’s chin.

Harry stared, reeling. “You think that I- You’re insane, Riddle!” he shouted, glaring.

Tom only chuckled. He tilted his head slightly and hummed, consideringly. Then he leaned close, catching Harry by the nape of the neck as he reared back, keeping him close instead, and pressed a firm, cool kiss to his lips. Harry’s stomach knotted.

“I always get what I want.” Tom said as he opened his eyes again, meeting Harry’s own from far too close. “In the end. I am . . . very good at plans.”

Harry shook off his shock and suppressed the shiver running up his spine. “I’ve always been able to ruin your plans, even when I didn’t know them!” he countered, setting his jaw. Tom was pulling away, his wand still not in his hands.

“I do not think this time, you will want to resist . . . Harry.” Tom purred, with a final smirk, and Disapparated.