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The Emperor and the Star

Chapter Text

“Glory in deceit,” Harry said easily, the door to the Slytherin common room sliding open for him. He looked around for Tom, the dim light and shades of green everywhere making it hard to see anything in the room, but he didn’t have far to look when a blond head turned around scowled at Harry.

“Is nothing sacred to you, Potter?” Draco groaned as he walked closer to Harry. “You could at least pretend to care about long-held traditions like not visiting rival dormitories.”

“But I have need of the Head Boy,” Harry replied, grinning. “How else am I supposed to find him?”

Draco sighed.

Harry waved a hand imperiously. “Lead on, peon.”

Draco sighed more deeply. “The only thing holding my wand back is the fact that for whatever reason, Tom enjoys your company.”

“It bothers you terribly, I know.” Harry didn’t even attempt to hide his amusement, which was growing by the second as Draco stomped his way toward the seventh year Slytherin dorm room. Draco stopped to knock on the door, but Harry stepped around him and walked inside without waiting for an answer. Grinning, he greeted, “Tom,” and waved at the rest of Tom’s minions.

Tom was holding court in the room, sitting on Draco’s bed while the others were gathered around him. He looked good, all prideful and intent on whatever he was talking about, and the sight of him calmed Harry like it always did.

“Harry,” Tom said, his tone much less pleased. “I’m busy.”

“The universe waits for no one,” Harry told him happily. He walked around the minions until he came to the bed and with a sigh, Tom held out a hand to pull him onto it. “I have a very serious Divination assignment that I have to complete before tomorrow’s class and I need five guinea pigs. You five will do nicely.”

“What exactly is a guinea pig?” Draco asked suspiciously. “Should I be offended?”

“You’re always offended,” Harry replied, shaking his head. “Shame, shame.” He turned his attention back to Tom.

“You could’ve just made everything up,” Tom said, rolling his eyes. “You don’t actually need to be here.”

“How dare you, I’m doing a NEWT in Divination. I obviously take this class with the utmost seriousness.” Out of his pocket, Harry pulled out a tarot deck with pictures of kittens on the back side. He spread them onto the covers in two lines, frowning when he realized he’d lost one of the cards somewhere. “Now, choose the four cards that make your heart flutter most.”

With a small grumble, Tom did as directed.

“Good.” Harry pushed the four cards off the bed, leaving seventeen on the bed.

“Really?”

“You can’t choose your own fate,” Harry told him, solemnly clucking his tongue at his best friend. “Now, choose a card at random.”

Tom chose, and Harry shoved the cards to the left of the chosen card off the bed.

“Pick a half,” he said, and when Tom did, Harry requested him to pick a number between one and five. At Tom’s choice of four, Harry chose four at random to discard. And then he realized he needed to end up with three cards, so he bent over the side of the bed to pick one up and add it to the remainder left on his bed.

“Your powers of Divination are really astounding,” Tom said, dryly.

“They really are,” Harry sniffed at him. He flipped the first card over. “The Emperor. Have you been especially unyielding lately?”

“Every day.”

“I don’t know why people put up with you.” Harry chose the next card, staring at it for a moment. “Temperance. You shouldn’t drink anything people hand you over the next week.”

“Truly?”

“Everything I say is true,” Harry said, lightly. He picked up the last card, the one he’d pushed onto the floor at first, but he knew what it would be even before he saw Death on its cover. Fate really did have a way of amusing itself. “Death, in reverse. Something is going to begin very soon. An important something.” Harry met Tom’s brown eyes. They weren’t as warm as Hermione’s browns, but they gazed at him with so much meaning and intent. “A good something, I hope.”

“If it isn’t, I’ll find a way to turn it in my favor,” Tom replied, his smirk lazy and satisfied.

Harry almost wanted to flip the card over and give him a papercut, but he refrained. The kitten images wouldn’t look very good when covered in blood. He turned to the others, who had gone to the other end of the room to chat quietly. It was almost as though they didn’t find Divination fascinating. Honestly.

“Who’s next?” Harry called out to them.

One after another, they turned to Tom. Harry glanced at him to see if Tom was doing anything interesting, but Tom was still sitting where he was, raising a very evocative eyebrow at the group.

“I’ll go,” Draco said, sounding as though he was walking off a plank.

“Good man,” Harry replied, cheerfully. Even though he didn’t approve of Tom having them, Harry had no problem with taking shameless advantage of Tom’s minions. Especially when his Gryffindor friends were sick of him doing their readings and testing out all of Trelawney’s theories on them. Professor Trelawney was loopy, alcoholic, and a total hack, but she was definitely Harry’s favorite professor.

Harry didn’t really need the tarot deck to make up pretty lies, but he enjoyed using it to tease out people’s secrets. There was always a bit of give when they looked down to see their cards. Just enough for Harry to work with, for him to make sure he was mostly wrong but a little right, the nugget of truth scary but hidden in the lies. He didn’t choose the Lovers for Draco this time, since Draco had been nice enough to volunteer, but the World still found its way in his hands. Draco was as conflicted about his future as always. Not his loyalties—those were amusingly set straight at Tom—but at the fact that he had turned seventeen and still couldn’t imagine marrying a woman. Oh, Draco wished so hard to carry the family name, but when it came to passing down Wizengamot seats and the lordship, his heir would have to be biologically his and from inside a legitimate union. He’d been angsting about it all year. Harry almost wanted to point him in the way of some old and not very legal rituals two men could do, but he knew Draco would find them eventually. Harry hoped it would be soon; he was really looking forward to meeting Scorpius.

Avery was secretly attending the nerdy Gobstones club, although Harry didn’t need his cards to know that. Didn’t need his cards to know anything, really. The only thing this brought him was amusement, of which Harry had been having a dire lack of lately. Nott’s family was struggling financially more than usual. Lestrange needed to get his cold checked out by Madam Pomfrey. He’d make sure Tom let him know that soon, since Harry wasn’t in the habit of blurting things out. That way led kidnapping and torture for information, as the previous proper seer in Britain had found.

Tom just leaned back on Draco’s bed and watched him do his thing, huffing occasionally at Harry’s more outrageous claims. When he finished, Harry raised both eyebrows and asked, “So, are you coming to bed with me?”

He didn’t even get a shocked whimper out of anyone. They were all much too used to him.

Tom’s glare was lazy as he said, “I have to finish here.”

“You were mostly finished anyway.”

Still, Harry stuck around for the next ten minutes while Tom pretended he actually had important things to say to his minions. Tom really did love being contrary. But, pot, kettle, best friends. Harry was on the second level of his house of cards, only somewhat cheating with magic, when Tom flicked the nearest card. It didn’t fall; Harry was used to all his terrible tricks. But there was the beginning of a pressure in his forehead that Harry knew well by now, so with a wave of his wand the cards flew into one of his robes pockets. He was halfway out the door on the way to the Head Boy suite when Tom joined him. It was in the dungeons but on the other end from the Slytherin dormitory and and the bed was big enough to flop onto. Harry did so immediately, sighing contentedly.

The door closed and with it Harry’s own deceit. It wasn’t glorious—it was simply necessary. But here behind these walls, he had no need to keep it up. With Tom, Harry was as real as he could be, as real as he wished to be. Years ago, he’d made Tom promise the same thing, though he knew it wasn’t in Tom’s nature to always keep that promise.

“That was fun,” he told Tom, his eyes closed. “I love torturing your minions.”

“If you want to torture them more efficiently, I’d be happy to teach you.” Tom stepped toward the bed but didn’t get onto it. His hand came to rest on Harry’s forehead. “You seem better today.”

“Madam Pomfrey gave me the good stuff,” Harry hummed.

“What exactly?”

“Can’t remember the name. You’ll have to ask her.” Their consent forms had been signed for ages to allow each other to check. This mostly benefited Tom, but the fact that he cared this much benefited Harry anyway.

His body rose into the air without his permission, but Harry was in no way surprised. His robes and shoes slipped off him, leaving him just in his casual wear. When his body floated down, it was onto the sheets, the covers floating over him afterward. After a few minutes, Tom joined him. It was a good end to a shit day. He loved this, Harry could admit with no reservations. He was the only one Tom indulged in such a way, the only one who’d shared a bed with him all night. Harry remembered being eight and so terrified of his visions and holding Tom close so that he wouldn’t leave like the figures in his head, twelve and so pissed off at the world and clutching Tom’s hand while Tom slept, sixteen and in pain and Tom watching over him. Seventeen, now, and his heart was beating fast despite it being late, but only because of the new potion he was trying out. (And maybe for other reasons, but it was pointless to think about that.)

Harry was shameless in snuggling up next to Tom, having done it nearly every day for ten years. Most of the time, he had been at least somewhat subtle about it, entering the Slytherin dorms under his cloak so as not to offend anyone’s delicate sensibilities. Tom ruled Slytherin with a crack of his wand, but Harry tried not to antagonize Tom’s poor minions too much. Now that Tom was Head Boy, Harry didn’t even have to sneak.

“It’s nice, this potion I’m trying out, but I’m crashing,” Harry said with a sigh. He pressed his head against Tom’s chest, trying to not let a headache form. He could feel the way its effects left his body; he just wished he could unload the thoughts running through his head just as easily. Just for one beautiful day, maybe a week. It was better in the mornings, when he was energized with the help of sleep and a variant of the Pepper Up, and better at ignoring the void in his mind, but sometimes at the end of the day he could barely think straight. Usually after a whole day of trying to concentrate on the here and now instead of seeing alternate futures everywhere, Harry was wiped. He’d felt better than usual today, but now he just felt worse than usual. Madam Pomfrey was a fantastic human being, with the way she kept hoping to fix him or at least alleviate the effects of his visions, but Harry was going to avoid her for a couple days. “Don’t think I’ll drink it again.”

“I want you to think about something,” Tom said, his voice strangely careful.

“I don’t think I can think of anything at all right now.” Harry had proper visions sometimes, the ones with an extended stay in someone’s head. Usually in dreams, but on a rare occasion during the day. Usually while he was busy doing something important, because the universe enjoyed fucking with him. But the most common thing, the continuous, never ending thing, was just glimpses and thoughts and feelings from possible futures and pasts. It was as though there was a machine running in the back of his head. It took work to keep himself out of it. He couldn’t shut it down. It was almost easier to distract himself with other people, but now, on the edge of sleep, it was hard to concentrate.

“Try.” There was the imperiousness Harry knew and put up with (and loved, sometimes).

With a groan, Harry pulled himself up on his elbows and met Tom’s eyes. “What is it?”

“We’re both seventeen and able to partake in any bonding ritual in the books. There are a few that will focus your sight and likely minimize its effects on you, especially if you’re bonding to a powerful wizard.” Tom’s hand was resting on Harry’s shoulder, the touch warm and sure.

“You’re talking about a marriage bond,” Harry said, because he’d read those same books ages ago. Or maybe not him—maybe it was a memory of another him in another world. Things got fuzzy sometimes in his head, especially when he viewed a vision from his own point of view. “That’s the only type of bond strong enough. Are you trying to take over every part of my life?” Harry asked with forced amusement.

“I’m trying to keep you from dying before you reach your third decade of life,” Tom said, his voice heated. “Your visions are getting out of hand. Your bad days are getting worse in scope and number.”

“I’ll think about it.” Harry said it mostly to shut Tom up. Then he pointedly turned away from Tom and tried to go to sleep, his back facing his friend.

“Why must you make things so difficult?” Tom murmured as the lights went out. Still he shifted behind Harry’s back, and strong arms wrapped around him, holding him close.

“Are you really blaming me?”

“Always.”

Harry reached back to pinch him, but Tom’s hand enveloped his own before his fingers could grasp at Tom’s skin.

 

*

 

Harry poked at the mouse entrails on the table in front of him with marked disinterest. “I don’t think my inner eye is able to open fully to haruspicy.”

It wasn’t as though he was squeamish—that had long ago been trained out of him by his visions—but Harry just didn’t respond well to the aesthetics of it. It was a messy sort of divination. Blood had managed to eek onto the sleeves of his robes despite Harry trying his best to avoid it, and the pink and purple entrails sparked nothing but revulsion in him. Even Trelawney looked queasy, her eyes not glancing down at the triangular table the NEWT-level Divination class met at once a week. On the third side of the triangle, to Harry’s right, Lavender was poking at a particularly fat intestine with her wand.

At his words, Lavender passed the pipe she was holding in her other hand. “Here, have some more of my herbal augury supplement. It might jog your inner eye.”

Harry took a long drag. The taste was almost too sweet, like the rest of Lavender’s creations, but Harry knew he’d get used to it after a minute. The smoke he released from his mouth formed into a pinkish phoenix that flew around the room once and pecked at Harry’s parts of the entrails before fading away.

“Showoff,” Lavender sniffed. “How do you like it? I added some mandrake leaves this time.”

“Is that the bit of tang I’m tasting?”

Lavender hummed in agreement.

“It’s good. Wouldn’t mind adding it to my own recipes.” The eighth goblin war threatened to break into Harry’s head, but Harry took another drag and let himself fall into the artificial calm the pipe provided. After a few minutes, the vision subsided and Harry passed the pipe to Trelawney, who also had good things to say about Lavender’s experimenting.

To be honest, Harry couldn’t actually say whether Trelawney knew anything about his talents. She was a hack in the sense that she greatly exaggerated her power, but she was still a Seer in her own right. It was a different type of talent than Harry’s. She dealt with prophecies rather than possibilities. Hers were always certain to come true, while Harry’s centered on other realities and had so much uncertainty around them. Still, nothing in any of her actions, reality or vision, had led him to believe she thought him any more talented than Lavender, who was as talented as any regular witch or wizard could get at the field. Her magic augmented her training and guided her towards the right answers on occasion, but she could lay no claim to the Sight.

“What is it that is clouding your Sight, my student?” Trelawney asked, breezily. “I can sense too much hesitancy in your third eye this morning. It isn’t only the subject matter, I See.”

Harry sighed, giving the entrails one last poke. Most forms of divination responded well to him, but maybe the entrails realized he didn’t actually want to see anything in them. Or maybe his third eye really was clouded today. “I’ve been thinking about something that might change the course of my life completely. It’s making it hard to focus properly.”

“Our energies must be aligned,” Lavender said, glancing over at him from the formation she was arranging her entrails into. “I’ve been on the verge of another path in my life lately, too. I’ve fallen in love with Firenze and have been trying to find a way to tell him so.”

“Seriously?”

“Yes, seriously.”

“I didn’t realize you two, uh, had a lot in common.”

“That’s so speciest of you, Harry.”

Harry reached for the pipe, needing something to take some of the shock. A few drags later, he asked, “Does he feel the same way?”

“I don’t know,” Lavender said, looking dramatically anguished. The accidental blood streak on her chin gave a certain gravity to the look. “Do you think he does? You know him a little.”

“Maybe,” Harry replied, shrugging. Beings of Sight were mostly hidden from his visions, so for all he knew Firenze had been nursing warm feelings for Lavender in each and every one of the futures he saw. It wasn’t probable, but the probability of Firenze being interested was still a non-zero number. “He’s rather attractive, for a centaur.”

“For any man,” Lavender corrected. “But he is, isn’t he? Last week, he wove a flower into my hair just like the one he wears…”

Lavender continued on, with Harry adding the occasional hum of agreement or a word or two to the harmony. His friend really could talk forever, but Harry could admit that there was something lovely about Lavender when she was in love. She was always so energetic about the concept of love, her eyes shining with happiness as she described the minute details of her crush’s life, the crimson glow across her cheekbones just barely visible under her dark skin. Lavender had gone through the cycle of love and heartbreak around eight times in the six and a quarter years Harry had known her. If things didn’t work out with Firenze, Harry had no doubt that her heartbreak, while deep, wouldn’t last long. Lavender found happiness easily, a quality Harry appreciated in people quite a bit.

A comment from Trelawney about the dangers of two individuals talented in the Sight coming together like that, which none at the table took as anything other than Trelawney’s dislike of centaurs, had Lavender begin going on about how her mentor could try to be happy for her instead, please. Harry rather thought Trelawney felt threatened by the centaurs’ talents, but he said nothing. There was another woman in love and she felt it so deeply, so horribly, that she would do anything to make sure her love chose no other. The love potion she had in mind was permanent and would rob her love of most of the things that made him the man she loved, but she saw no other way. Not with the way he kept looking at her sister—

“Harry, are you with us?”

Harry came to with Lavender holding a twig of mint under his nose.

“What did you See?” Trelawney asked, leaning in with eagerness.

“Mostly that I need to get more sleep. Sorry, professor.”

“Don’t worry yourself, dear. Everyone needs the occasional day of rest for their inner eye. Just don’t make it a habit. Especially not next week, since we’ll be crafting our own prophecies. I’ve asked the ministry yet again to loan us their prophecy orbs, but they are overly cautious and have denied me. I’ll see if I can fashion a few myself…” Trelawney made her way out of the room, still muttering to herself.

Harry and Lavender stayed behind to vanish the entrails. The room still smelled like an emergency room, iron heavy in the air, but Harry didn’t know what to do about that. The last time he’d opened the windows, Trelawney had scolded him for overloading her inner eye.

Lavender took the stairs down the narrow tower with him. “I couldn’t say it in front of Trelawney, you know how she gets, but Firenze invited me to the fall equinox celebration his tribe is having tonight.”

“He was really allowed to invite you?”

“He told the elders it would be a learning opportunity for humans to learn to appreciate their superior ways,” Lavender said with a grin. “Want to come with me?”

“Sure, sounds like a riot,” Harry said. Centaur parties always were. “I’ll see if Tom wants to go.”

“My inner eye tells me his answer will be no with a side of no,” Lavender said, giggling. “But do invite him.”

Lavender was correct; Tom had little interest in wasting his time with beings he barely considered beings at all. Harry sighed at him a lot during lunch and batted his eyelashes, but Tom didn’t seem to find it convincing. Still, when Harry met Lavender at the edge of the Forbidden Forest that night, he found that Ron, Hermione, and Draco had spontaneously decided to join them.

“Are you our chaperons?” Harry asked, holding out an arm for Lavender with a, “My lady.”

“Tom’s just being a busybody as usual,” Hermione replied. “But I did agree since I’d love to have the opportunity to learn more about centaur culture.” Mournfully, she added, “There’s only so much I can learn from books.”

“Speak for yourself,” Draco muttered under his breath. “I’m actually a bloody chaperon.”

Poor Draco, Harry thought, thinking of all the things Tom didn’t approve of that Harry planned to get into tonight. He offered his other elbow to Ron, who took it with a grandiose bow.

“My lord,” Ron said, all haughtily.

“My favorite subject,” Harry replied, copying his tone. “You will cover for your Great and Honorable Ruler against this betrayer in our midst, won’t you?”

“Of course,” Ron immediately agreed.

While Hermione consoled Draco in that very un-consoling way of hers, Harry marched on into the darkness, the distant sounds of celebration their only guide. The centaurs’ partying had begun two days ago. Only now, on the day after the equinox, would they allow wizards to join them in their celebrating. The previous two days were devoted to the centaurs’ religious practices and cultural practices that they wouldn’t share with the outside world, but on this day Harry caught sight of a few more humans other than their little group. Firenze waved them over to his clan’s section of the field, where high tables boasted a feast as grand as the leaving feasts at Hogwarts, though different in its composition. Harry ate heartily, half because the food was fantastic and half because he’d never be allowed to smoke from the centaurs’ pipes without a full stomach to offset the high.

He could barely hear his friends’ words over the sounds of the music all around them, so eventually Harry just gave in and joined in. He danced with Hermione, twirling her around the bonfire at the center of the field, then let her loose into Ron’s arms for them to make eyes at each other. Next he pulled Draco in. Draco allowed it for a time, but he pushed Harry in the direction of two centaurs with whom Harry was vaguely familiar with. Harry couldn’t copy their dances without another pair of legs, but he still made an attempt and laughed with them at his fumbles. Lavender and Firenze had disappeared somewhere already.

When he was too tired to dance, Harry grabbed two mugs of mead and took a seat against a tree at the edge of the field. For a while, he watched the fire, until he began to see images inside it as well as the stream of things running through his head. Out of all the outward divination practices, fire-reading came most easily to him. Harry closed his eyes, leaning his head against the bark, and only opened them when he heard the thump of a centaur lying down next to him.

Even lying down, Magorian was two heads taller than Harry as well a great deal older than him. The leader of the Forbidden Forest’s centaur colony had never told Harry how old he was, but Harry pinned him at two hundred at the very least.

“I have been volunteered by the circle of our elders to speak with you,” Magorian said, smiling ruefully at Harry. “You look well, child. I’m happy to see the wizarding world hasn’t stomped the spark out of you.”

“I’m stubborn like that.” Harry placed his mugs down onto the ground, ignoring them as one immediately fell over on the uneven ground, and walked into Magorian’s open arms. Once released from the hug, he sat down against his friend’s warm back and met his unnervingly blue eyes. “They’ve seen it, huh?”

“Now that your decision has settled, our predictions for the world outside our borders have begun to shift. The younger ones are quite excited, but the elders worry over the loss of the future we had always seen coming. We know one path—but the path will rewrite itself on the night of your bonding. It is inevitable when two great powers meet.”

“I haven’t actually said I’ll do it,” Harry said, just to be contrary. With a day to think about it, he knew his answer.

Magorian flicked him with his tail. “You are as stubborn as the day I met you, even if you have grown into a man now.”

“And you have more gray hairs,” Harry shot back. When he’d sought out the centaurs a month into his first year at Hogwarts, Harry had hoped to find a way to control his powers. He’d found friendship and understanding with the herd, but nothing that could truly help him. The centaurs had asked him to leave the world of men and live with them. Harry couldn’t easily See his own future, but he had a feeling it would’ve been the safest of all possible choices, to be protected here. But it was safety at the expense of a life full of living, excitement, adventure, perhaps even love. Harry hadn’t been able to choose the centaurs then and he certainly wouldn’t now, no matter how much the elders complained. He had too much to do in the human sphere. Besides, who else would Tom worry over with Harry gone? “What do you think? Not the rest of the elders, just you.”

Magorian said nothing for a long moment. “I would advise you to weigh your freedom against everything he has promised you.”

Coming from anyone else, Harry might have been annoyed, but this was Magorian. Harry patted the highest part of the centaur that he could reach and Magorian’s wrinkled hand found his, squeezing it gently.

“I’ve never been able to take advisement to heart,” Harry said, though not unkindly.

“The greatest tragedy of humankind is their inability to heed our warnings,” Magorian said with a shake of his head, though there was a huff of laughter in his voice. “Let your arrows break through the wind as you run against the storm, Harry Potter.”

“Thanks, Magorian,” Harry said, feeling touched despite not knowing what exactly Magorian meant.

“Now, I think it’s time you rejoined your friends. Firenze in particular looks as though he has something for you.”

Harry peered over at the other side of the field, where Firenze had suddenly pulled something behind his broad back upon the realization that his leader had noticed him. Laughing, Harry bounded over.

Chapter Text

It was hours later that Harry found himself stumbling back to the dungeons with four other giggly and stumbling people fighting to fit under Harry’s invisibility cloak with him. Every few meters, Hermione would hiss at them to be quieter, then giggle in a high-pitched tone that Harry would have to tease her about later. Ron and Lavender were whispering something about the evil spiders they thought they’d caught sight of in the forest, while Draco looked dead on his feet. It was a miracle they’d made it back to the Head Boy and Girl’s rooms. They opened the door to the Head Girl’s suite first and Harry finally untangled all of his friends from his cloak. Ron and Hermione immediately went for the bed, tugging Lavender along with them since the bed was big enough for three. Draco collapsed onto the living room couch and began snoring immediately. Harry transfigured him a more comfortable pillow and a blanket before he left for the Head Boy’s rooms just across the hall.

Tom was motionless when Harry tiptoed into the bedroom and quietly slipped into the bed, but it looked like he was more awake than not. He must’ve stayed up late studying. 

“Off, you smell like a campfire,” Tom said as Harry curled close. He didn’t push Harry too far away, just down enough so that Harry’s head rested against Tom’s lower chest rather than the crook of his shoulder. Harry considered complaining, but he didn’t mind the way this position allowed Tom’s fingers to card through his hair more easily. “You should take a shower.”

“I did. Firenze opened up the clouds for us.”

“And I suppose you and Lavender frolicked under the rain. Did you have a good evening?” Tom’s touch was gentle, but Harry didn’t have the energy to try to figure out the undercurrents in his voice.

“We did,” Harry replied, happily. “She’s in love with Firenze, did you know? It’s nothing like her usual crushes. I thought it would be, but it’s not.”

“That’s ridiculous.”

“I think he might be in love with her, too.”

“They’ll cast him out for it.”

“I think if it’s not this, then it’ll be something else. You know how Firenze is.” Tom’s agreeing grunt felt so far above him, even though they were so close. “I think I might be higher than I thought.”

“You usually are. What did you take? I’ll have Severus make you an antidote if it hasn’t worn off by morning. I’ve told you not to take the centaurs’ drugs. Their physiologies are a lot sturdier than ours.”

“I’m sure Draco will tell you all about it later. It wasn’t much. Firenze looked after us,” Harry said, and listed the three variants and how long he’d smoked for. It wasn’t all that much, in the greater sense of things. Not enough for Tom to get worried over, though Tom still tended to worry over everything. Harry felt nice, all floaty and dreamy. “And Mag. He says I should shoot for the wind.”

“Mm. As long as he doesn’t say to aim for me.”

“One of them did suggest that.”

“Which one?” Tom asked, completely inflectionless.

“Don’t be mean, they’re just nervous. They hate it when the future changes on them in such a big way.” The centaurs were already too worried over Tom’s future, the one he’d have separate from Harry, and a future of the two of theirs intertwined meant nothing but more worrying for the elders. In all honesty, it meant a lot of worrying for Harry, too. His own future was hazy no matter how Harry tried to look into it. The bond would affect him, but Harry couldn’t say how.

“Is this you saying yes?” Tom asked, his thumb stroking against Harry’s scalp.

“Provisional yes. Or conditional yes. Whichever one of those it is. I have questions and you have answers, but we can wait until morning.”

“Midday, you mean,” Tom said, sounding amused.

“I always mean midday when it’s a weekend coming up,” Harry said through a yawn. “But Tom, do you really want to marry me?”

“It’s only a bonding.”

“It’s a marriage bonding.”

Harry waited for a while until it looked as though Tom had either decided not to answer or had fallen asleep on him. He told himself that he’d have to get the answer from his best friend tomorrow, but knew he’d probably forget to ask. It was only when Harry was on the verge of falling asleep himself that he heard Tom’s words, though things were so cloudy that it could’ve just been the Tom in his imagination who said, “Yes, Harry. I do.”

 

*

 

The dream began and ended with Harry’s death at Voldemort’s hands. It wasn’t a new dream by any measure. Voldemort was handsome in this one, somewhere in his thirties, his eyes bright and beautiful as he impaled Harry onto a ritual stake in the middle of a dark forest. Harry’s head lolled backward, catching the sight of an acromantula web before everything went dark.

Harry woke up abruptly and reached for his chest to steady himself. There was no gaping wound. There was no Voldemort, either. There was only himself in an empty bedroom.

Voldemort was an idea that took root in the souls of some Tom Riddles. Harry held no delusions that his own Tom lacked the capacity to become Voldemort. It was true that his Tom hadn’t experimented with anagrams of his full name, but that was not what Voldemort was. Voldemort was fear at its most basic, and it was the world-ending rage with which Tom responded to his fear. But his own Tom lacked the circumstances to truly develop that rage and fear. Maybe if Harry and Tom hadn’t met at such a young age, or just hadn’t met at all, Tom wouldn’t have learned control.

Harry sighed deeply. It was always a bad sign when he woke up needing to sigh about his life. With a yawn, Harry took the potion by the bed and took a shower, then draped an underrobe over himself lazily. He wasn’t planning to leave Tom’s rooms today. Actually, Harry was considering getting right back into Tom’s needlessly large bed when the man himself opened the bedroom door.

For a moment, Harry saw Tom’s dream-self superimposed over his best friend. With a pleading look, he asked, “We can talk after breakfast, right?”

Tom tilted his head. “Of course. Dobby already came by.”

“Dobby doesn’t like you,” Harry said suspiciously, walking toward him. Tom wouldn’t lie, but, well. Dobby had never had any problem turning down Tom’s demands, even though the free elf knew Tom was Harry’s friend best.

A flash of smugness, and Tom said, “We’ve come to an accord now that I’m your soon-to-be husband.” He opened the door further and Harry ducked under his arm to get into the living room, where a breakfast for half a Quidditch team could be found on the table. “He’s very happy for us.”

With a wordless grumble, Harry took a seat at the table. “He still likes me better than you.”

“You can keep him,” Tom replied, handing him the platter of eggs. “But he does have his uses.”

“Like spreading gossip around?” Harry asked through a mouthful of eggs. Because Tom deserved a lot more revenge than Harry’s terrible manners for, “I’m sure half the school will know in days.”

“As he’s told me many times, I can’t control him,” Tom said with a very calculated shrug.

It wasn’t as though Harry was planning to go back on his agreement to bond with Tom, but it would be a lot more complicated when word got out that they were going to get married. That more than anything made him come to terms with the fact that Tom wanted this a lot. He bet the jerk had acted all smitten in front of Dobby, too, just to really get the message across. He grabbed a grapefruit slice as he thought about the whole thing. “You’re going to have a counterpoint to every argument I bring up, aren’t you?”

Tom took a moment to finish his bite of quiche before saying, “Probably. I’m sure you’re going to go through all of them anyway.”

Harry considered throwing the grapefruit slice at him, but decided to eat it instead.

“What bothers you the most?” Tom prompted.

Harry couldn’t force himself to look at him. “If this fails and doesn’t help me control my powers like it’s supposed to, then I’ve bound you to me for the rest of our natural lives. It’s such a long time, Tom, and it’s long enough for you to grow to regret it.”

“But not long enough for you to regret it?” Tom asked, his words quiet.

“I’m already planning on spending my life with you. You’re my best friend,” Harry said, and when he finally turned to look at him, Tom’s expression was softer than he’d seen in a long time. But it just reminded Harry of who Tom could really look at with that expression. “You won’t be able to get married to anyone yourself. I know you think everyone everywhere is stupid and beneath you, but what if one day you want to and you can’t? A true marriage bond will preclude us from having sex outside it. And I might never be able to have sex with you.”

“Do you want to?” Tom asked, leaning forward a bit. “All other things aside, would you want to?”

“Those ‘all other things’ are visions of my partner’s future assaulting me worse than they usually do when I even kiss someone,” Harry explained yet again. It wasn’t the first time the topic had been brought up. Tom had always been of the opinion that Harry should risk it and find out how sex felt, usually with some lewd language thrown in. But in addition to the visions, there was also the fact that Harry was uncomfortable being with someone he knew so intimately when the intimacy wasn’t reciprocated. His power granted him more access into the private lives of the people around him than anyone would ever know. It felt deceitful to not let his partner know, but Harry also had no plans to let a casual partner know of his abilities. It was only his secret to keep, his and anyone he truly trusted. “Can you live without sex for the rest of our lives? A hundred years without anything?”

“Longer, if I can help it,” Tom interjected. “I don’t like the idea, but there has to be a workaround. Clones, golems, complicated sex toys. It’s not as though I’m ruled by my hormones. And…” He paused, a strange look entering his eyes. “If your control gets better with a bond, who’s to say we wouldn’t be able to have sex? It’s true that this bond is an option of convenience, but it doesn’t have to be limited to helping you with your visions.”

“You just don’t want to spend your life abstinent,” Harry said with a huff. He tried to push away Tom’s words, but he couldn’t. This wasn’t a game. Or if it was, it was a game they’d play for the rest of their lives.

“And you’re under the impression that I’ll be losing out on love if we do this. Harry, that’s insane,” Tom said, sighing. “I’ve cared about two people during the course of my life and I’m counting myself as one of them.”

“The other being your reflection?”

“Well, you do follow me around quite a bit, if less than you used to.”

“Hermione will really disapprove of us falling into our old habits.”

“It was inevitable, especially when we graduate and I don’t have to put up with Severus and McGonagall trying to keep us out of each other’s dormitories. Did you know Dumbledore took me aside the other week and mentioned that he’d seen you coming out of my rooms one morning and said that even though I was Head Boy, I had to keep up a spotless reputation for the younger kids? The fucking nerve. At least he won’t have any room to interfere when we’re married.” At Harry’s look, he corrected it to, “If we’re married, but it’s going to happen. Tell me, do you foresee our futures being worse because we do this?”

Harry grimaced at him. “You know that’s not how it works. Sure, I’ve seen futures where we got married, but I never know if that’s our future or a completely different one. And I know I’ve never seen a future where we got married because of my Sight. I don’t know if getting married will make things worse.”

“You’ve seen futures of us getting married?” Tom asked, a strange cadence to his voice.

Harry tried to look unconcerned and hoped he wasn’t failing as badly as he thought. It wasn’t as though it was a secret, but he hadn’t really mentioned those futures to Tom. Of course, Tom had never asked. “Yeah. But Tom, in those other worlds, you’ve killed me and kissed me and everything in between. We’ve never been strangers in any future I’ve seen.” He’d seen what felt like every version of Tom that could be imagined. The good, the bad, the truly terrible. And maybe he was a fool for it, but Harry loved Tom in every way possible to love someone, in every terrifying and pitiful form he’d seen Tom take. Eyes wide open to every shade of Tom’s eyes. It probably wasn’t conventional to have such unconditional love for his best friend, but Harry couldn’t imagine it differently. “Even when we hate each other, we’re still the most important people in each others’ lives.”

“It’s not any different here,” Tom said, his words barely audible.

Harry knew how much it took out of him to even say that much. Tom wasn’t fond of emotions as a whole, even if he occasionally admitted to having some. “No, it’s not. But you’re no less ambitious here than in any future I’ve seen.”

Less violent than so many futures, but one could never find a lack of ruthless ambition in Tom Riddle. The corner of Tom’s lips quirked upward and Harry couldn’t help but be amused. Tom Riddle, future ruler of the universe. In one world, at least.

“If I wanted you for your visions, I’d marry you to Draco. Forever is a long time. I wouldn’t spend it with someone I hated.”

“I know,” Harry agreed. And he did. He knew Tom valued him for more than his visions. Ever since their first fight about it, which had resulted in them not speaking to each other for four months, the longest time they’d ever gone without speaking, Tom had only asked Harry what he knew of possible futures when the situation was especially serious. Harry would gift him with tidbits on occasion, would give him a free pass on Tom’s birthday, but his mind was his own, as was the void that his mind kept getting lost in, the one that spit out so many futures that Harry didn’t even try to keep track of them at all.

Tom wanted him for more than his visions, but the incentive was incredibly enticing to a man such as him. Tom could say all he wanted about never using Harry for his visions, but if they bonded, their fates would be tied. Tom’s future would be Harry’s; Harry’s death would be Tom’s; their lives and souls and magics would be utterly entwined. They could kid themselves all they wanted, but a bond wasn’t something one could take lightly.

“But sometimes ambition still wins out,” Harry said, though not unkindly.

Tom was too brilliant to not know where Harry was heading. “You want a vow.”

Harry nodded. “I know you to your core. I won’t leave you a way to coerce me into revealing something I don’t want to.”

Tom’s expression was tight before he caved. “I know. I value you, but there are occasions when I… forget myself.”

“I’ll remind you,” Harry told him. “I just… I need this.”

“I won’t blame you for it,” Tom said, and reached for Harry across the table.

Harry took his hand, holding it tightly. “What do you want in exchange?” For the vow, for the fact that Harry needed a bond so much more than Tom needed it.

“I want you to tell me how to become immortal,” Tom said, his eyes dark and certain. “You made me promise to not make a horcrux, but you would never tell me what I should do instead.”

“We’d be bound for a very long time in that case,” Harry said, though it wasn’t exactly a denial. Even if he didn’t tell Tom what to do, he knew Tom would not give up until he found immortality, and Harry knew the bond would drag him in as well, keeping them both on his earth for as long as Tom needed to feel secure. He didn’t yearn for a long life—it was hard enough to deal with the effects of his sight now—but if the bond truly helped him learn control, Harry wouldn’t mind standing at Tom’s side for as long as they would have each other.

“If you want out,” Tom looked disgusted at the very concept, “We’ll find a way. If we live long enough, I’m sure someone will discover a way to dissolve a bond,” Tom told him.

“Liar.”

“Yes,” Tom admitted. Marriage bonds were a millennium old. If someone was going to find a way to break them, it would’ve happened by now. “But are you positive you don’t like the concept of immortality? Endless amounts of time to devote to your projects and irritate the people you hate?”

“Stop playing toward my baser impulses,” Harry grumbled. “Death comes for everyone.” Being a seer, he was honestly unable to be sad at the concept. Losing Tom would break him, but in his mind death was such a natural thing. It happened to all, good and bad alike. “There is no true way to live forever. But there are many options of conditional immortality, some better than others.” Strands of something formed in the back of his head. A vision he’d already had, a vision he would have in the future. The image of a garden of golden apples growing inside a snowy mountain range. “One we can reevaluate every hundred years.” He leaned in and whispered in Tom’s ear a story of gods of old, men who’d found that garden and walked the earth for centuries. One apple, one hundred years of youth and life. Still… “Not now, though.”

“But soon?” Tom asked, accepting of Harry dragging his feet now that his goal was in sight. “The summer after graduation. I don’t want to wait any longer.”

“Fine,” Harry said, rolling his eyes at Tom’s still slightly disgruntled look. “It doesn’t need to be any sooner. Come on, Tom, you’ve never even come close to death at Hogwarts.”

“You have,” Tom grumbled. He looked rather cute when he was all grumbly.

Harry couldn’t help but smile. “You had a cuter pout when you were six.”

“I’ve exchanged it for a dashing one since,” Tom replied, but his smirk broke through the pout. “Do you feel seduced yet?”

“Very,” Harry huffed. He’d seen Tom seduce so many people over the years, to the point where he’d gotten flirting down to an art form. The more innocent version of Tom’s charm had been developed early. He’d charmed their case managers into placing them into the same home, then he’d charmed their foster parents into thinking the two of them were utter angels. It never worked permanently—they’d been through four placements between when they’d met at age six and more when they’d gotten their Hogwarts letters—but Tom only got better and better. And when they discovered Harry’s parents had left him a small inheritance, they hadn’t needed much charm at all to find a flat off Diagon Alley whose landlord didn’t care much who she rented to. The wizarding world really was rather lax about childcare, though it wasn’t like the muggle world was all that great.

Tom had never truly turned his charms on Harry. Although, Harry supposed he hadn’t needed him to. Tom was the most important person in his life; labels seemed silly by this point.

“Let’s invite our friends to the ceremony,” Harry said. Before Tom could open his mouth, he added, “You have no friends, yeah, yeah. Friends, minions, favorite professors, anyone. This is going to bind our life paths more than almost any other decision we’ve made. I want people there to celebrate it with us.”

“I’ll have my minions clear their schedules,” Tom agreed. With a rather devious look, he said, “Someone does have to do the setting up.”

“Poor Draco,” Harry said, snickering. Harry slipped his hand out of Tom’s, belatedly realizing that he’d held it for longer than he’d realized. It was so easy to get comfort from Tom. Half the time Harry didn’t even realize it happening. “Tell your minions not to do everything in Slytherin colors.”

“As a devoted soon-to-be husband, I’ll just ask for everything in the color of your eyes,” Tom replied. “I’ve always been partial to the green of the killing curse.” With a wave of his wand, he gathered the extra food in the air. “Give these to Weasley. It’ll soften the blow.”

“You’re being thoughtful,” Harry said, suspiciously. He wouldn’t put it past Tom to lightly poison the food so that Ron wouldn’t come to the ceremony. When Tom just smirked at him, Harry levitated the rest of their breakfast and turned to leave. And then he remembered, “And tell you minions that they have to make enough room for Magorian to walk me down the aisle!”

Tom shot an unimpressed look at him. “This isn’t a muggle ceremony. There won’t be any aisles to walk down.”

Harry continued walking toward the door as though he hadn’t heard him. “I suppose you could ask Snape to walk you, I mean he’s your oldest minion and our parents’ age, which is close enough to a father figure.”

“I’m going to murder you and solve our problems that way,” Tom replied, looking disturbed at the very thought of Snape as a father figure. Which, good—Harry didn’t want the man as a father in law.

Still, Harry shook his head at him. “That’s really uncivilized of you, Tom. You could at least wait until after the honeymoon to get rid of me.”

“We’re not having a honeymoon either!” Tom yelled as Harry closed the door behind himself with a laugh.

He knocked on the doors to the Head Girl’s rooms. When no one answered, Harry considered a table of pros and cons of just barging in. Pro: levitating all this food was a pain. Con: walking in on Ron and Hermione having sex was a pain. Hermione got all irritated, Ron claimed Harry was throwing him off his groove, and Harry always had to escape before he got pulled into one of their weird sex-driven arguments. Even worse, what if they were having a threesome with Lavender? Harry would he scarred for life.

For a Seer, he was rather bad at avoiding his best friends’ sex lives. But if anyone had to be sacrificed…

“Dobby!” Harry called.

A pop and his favorite house elf appeared. Dobby glanced between Harry and the Hermione’s door and glared in a way that most of the wizarding world’s population probably thought house elves were incapable of.

“Harry is being cruel to the poor, poor house elf in his service,” Dobby said, crossing his arms.

Harry was pretty sure he was at least somewhat less cruel than Draco’s dad, from whom Harry had managed to steal Dobby five years ago, but he and Dobby had a very strict policy of not talking about Dobby’s crappy former owner. So instead he just said, “Please? Pretty please? I’ll buy you some new socks.”

“Dobby’s sanity is not being bought off by new socks,” Dobby replied. His long ears shifted.

“I’ll read your fortune?”

“Dobby isn’t believing in divination.”

“That hurts—” Harry whipped his head around at the sound of Hermione’s door opening to show the woman herself. “’Mione! Thank Merlin, I was too scared to come inside.”

He slipped inside her rooms. Hermione asked Dobby to stay for breakfast, but Dobby said something about having to get back to his duties at the castle. Harry sat down on the couch next to Ron, who resembled a very hung-over zombie.

“Are you going to throw up at the smell of food?” Harry checked.

“Never,” Ron said, not opening his eyes.

Harry scooted an inch away from him and levitated the food onto the table. The floor plans of Tom and Hermione’s rooms were identical, and Harry’s spot was basically the same one he’d been sitting in ten minutes ago. But instead of sitting across from him, Hermione joined him on the couch, sitting down on his other side.

“You’re the best mate of all best mates,” Ron exclaimed as he dug into the food.

Hermione picked up an apple and gave Harry a more discerning look. “What’s all this about, Harry?”

“Don’t look a hippogriff in the mouth,” came from Ron.

“I won’t have much care for your mouth if you don’t stop attacking your food like you’ve just gotten back from Quidditch practice,” Hermione sniffed.

“Oh yeah? What—”

“I have an announcement,” Harry said, because he knew that look in Ron’s eyes. And, unfortunately, because Hermione couldn’t gossip with Ginny about her brother and Harry was her only other good friend, he’d heard a lot about how Ron was really good with his mouth. “Tom and I are bonding soon.”

“As in marriage bonding?” Ron asked.

“As in before you’ve even graduated?” Hermione cut in, which really did say a lot about her priorities.

Harry hid his smile. “Well, yeah, it’ll probably be tomorrow. Maybe the day after. Depends on how soon we can get everything we need.”

“You’re eloping?” Hermione shrieked.

“When you know, you know,” Harry said through a contented sigh, mostly just to see their expressions. Ron seemed to be still in shock, but before Hermione could reach the peak of her horror, Harry continued with, “I really want to do this. We both do.”

Hermione took a deep breath, then another, then another, and then another. “You’re sure?”

“I am,” Harry said. Maybe it would prove to be the wrong decision, but… He didn’t think so. And even if it was, he and Tom would figure it out. They’d been in so many tight spots over the years.

Hermione took another steadying breath. “Okay. Your lack of planning is utterly horrifying, but it’s your life. Did you two get together in the past twelve hours?”

“Nope,” Harry said.

“Of course not, what was I thinking?” Hermione said, rolling her eyes.

Ron seemed to finally break out of his shocked stupor. His freckles stood out more on his paling face as he gave Harry an appalled look. “If you want to marry a bloke, there are so many options, mate. Neville likes guys. Neville has never and will never commit murder or any other serious crime that could bring you down with him.”

“Tom has never murdered anyone,” Harry said, huffing. Tom’s horrid remaining blood relatives probably would’ve preferred to have been murdered, but they were still in the living. “I don’t know why you keep accusing him of that.”

“He just has that look about him,” Ron said with a groan. “Also, you didn’t deny him committing any other crimes.”

“Well, no one’s perfect,” Harry demurred. “But he’s Tom.”

Ron and Hermione shared a look that Harry knew well.

“We don’t have to like it but we do have to put up with it,” Ron and Hermione quoted in one voice, as they usually did when they didn’t approve of something about Tom but knew they’d find no foothold with Harry. If Ginny was there, she’d add music. Swap the we’s to you’s, and words had been said to them by Tom during their first year after a fight between Ron, Hermione, and Tom had gotten out of hand. It was something about Harry—it always was—though he couldn’t remember what it had even been about. He’d locked all three of them in a third floor corridor together until they found a way to get along. For the most part, he had succeeded.

“Will it make things better for you?” Hermione asked, her voice softer.

Harry rested his head against her shoulder. It was a nice shoulder. Ron’s was too bony, but Hermione’s was a good one. She responded by reaching her arm around his shoulders and Ron shifted closer to Harry’s side.

“You’re too smart, you know that, right?” Harry murmured. He hadn’t actually told his friends about the way his visions were getting worse, but he knew they’d been friends for more than six years; Ron and Hermione knew him down to his Gryffindor core.

“I’m brilliant, I know.” Hermione squeezed his arm, gently.

“It’s my best shot. I can’t continue the way I have been,” Harry said, swallowing.

“Then we’ll be there for you,” Hermione promised.

Ron agreed, but he added, “Even though he’s an arse and you deserve better.”

“I think I’m rather happy deserving him,” Harry replied, but there was no censure in his voice. Just the steady knowledge that Tom was the only one he would do this with. His friends would offer themselves up in a second if they thought Harry would go for it, but Harry knew he would still pick Tom. He’d pick danger and possible destruction and a warm body wrapped around him, so tightly that Harry was never able to sneak out in the mornings without waking him.

Hermione’s eyes gleamed a little as she said, “You’re going to break Ginny’s heart.”

“No-o, stop that,” Harry quickly said. “Ginny’s heart was broken last year,” when she’d finally worked up the courage to ask him out and Harry carefully, nicely, in a way that wouldn’t get him beat up by her brothers, turned her down, “and she’s healed just fine since. I heard she’s dating Michael.”

“Nah, she’s moved on to Blaise now,” Ron said. “Please don’t ask me how I know that.”

Harry grinned. “Well, if the rumors about his mum are true, he’s certainly used to powerful women doing their thing around him.”

“He does look smitten,” Hermione agreed.

And when Harry unsubtly moved the conversation on to easier topics, his friends let him.

You’d find greatness in Slytherin, the hat had told him, but Harry could never regret having chosen Gryffindor. He’d been ready to meet Ron and Hermione for years before they were physically in the same place and his visions hadn’t steered him wrong. Tom would always be in the futures he chose, but Harry had wanted them, too.

Chapter Text

Of all of Harry’s friends, Lavender and Draco were the most enthusiastic about the ceremony. Lavender did her share of the preparation with a dreamy look on her face that Harry took to mean she was imagining herself and Firenze in these same circumstances. Draco, on the other hand…

“I need to make this perfect for Tom,” Draco moaned, clutching at a bouquet of flowers. It was the morning of the day after Harry and Tom agreed to marry. They’d done the vow Harry had asked for that very evening, and now it was the morning of the ceremony. Tom’s minions had taken over Hermione’s set of rooms in an attempt to get everything done in the less than forty-eight hours of warning they’d had. Draco, as Tom’s head minion, was taking things worse than most.

Harry took the bouquet from Draco, patting the stems to make sure Draco hadn’t crushed the poor things. They were lilies, which made Harry smile. Consolingly, Harry said, “Draco, he really doesn’t care.”

Draco’s eyes were wide and frantic as he turned to Harry. “He will if I ruin everything!”

That’s probably true, Harry thought, and refrained from saying it. He walked behind Draco and took him by the shoulders, steering him toward Theo, who was frowning at a scrap of paper.

“Theo, your new duty is to make sure Draco doesn’t collapse from stress,” Harry said, taking the paper out of Theo’s hands. “What’s this?”

“The people still left to invite,” Theo said, wincing.

“You mean the people who should’ve been notified yesterday?” Harry said, raising an eyebrow. He shook his head at the Slytherin. “Shame, shame.”

“Do you know how many other things I needed to do? I had to find high quality bonding ribbons in a day. A day!”

“If you think that’s hard,” Draco began, and that was the point when Harry decided to slip away. The two would let off some steam better with one half of the duo behind their stress out of the room.

Glancing down at the list, he was happy to find that the list was short. Tom’s favorite minions would already know they were invited, Harry’s friends would’ve murdered him if he hadn’t already invited him, and the miscellaneous invitees were easy enough to track down. Dobby wasn’t on the list, but Harry called his name to make sure the house elf knew he was definitely invited to the ceremony and patted him on the back when the house elf burst into tears of joy. Hagrid also burst into tears and hugged him, but Harry couldn’t reach the half giant’s back, so he settled for patting the man’s arm.

There was no one outside of Hogwarts to invite save for Fred and George, who Ron had already owled, and Bella, who always knew everything about Tom. Other than those three, Tom kept in touch with a network of older Slytherins, but none were especially close friends (or allies, as Tom preferred to say), and Harry’s friends were mostly in his year or the year below. Harry didn’t have any family to invite; Tom didn’t have any family he wanted to invite. It struck a melancholy cord in Harry. He liked Ron’s parents well enough, but they weren’t truly Harry’s. He was seventeen years old and an adult in the eyes of wizarding society, but a part of him was still that orphaned boy wishing the James and Lily he saw in his visions could exist in his reality.

Snape scowled at him when Harry visited his dungeons, but he didn’t say a single insulting thing. Harry would’ve liked to accredit it to Snape having learned to like him over the years, but he knew Snape’s lack of vocal dislike in the past two years had more to do with Tom than anything else.

Still, Harry offered him a lily from his bouquet as he had the other invitees.

Snape took it, a flicker of something in his dark eyes. “You’re sure, Potter? I’ve spoken with Riddle. The bond you’re choosing is the strongest of the marriage bonds available to two magical humans. It doesn’t have to be that way.”

“It doesn’t have to be, but that’s the way we want it,” Harry replied, fighting the urge to shuffle his feet. Everything Snape said always made him feel like an unruly first year, but Harry stood his ground. “You’ll attend?”

“I will,” Snape promised. “Your mother… she would have loved to be there.”

Harry nodded, unable to say anything through the tight feeling in his throat. He’d been so young when Peter Pettigrew had turned on his closest friends out of jealousy and madness, too young to even make sense of his visions, let alone warn his parents. He’d been placed into the care of his Aunt Petunia, who he’d never met before his parents’ death and who’d preferred it had stayed that way. Within a year, Harry had been placed into the foster care system. And he’d met Tom.

Harry’s own head of house was of a similar mind, although she voiced her doubts while she hugged Harry tightly.

“You two couldn’t have waited until graduation?” McGonagall asked, patting Harry’s messy hair before she let go. “I’ve never approved of my students getting bonded before leaving Hogwarts. You’re so young.”

Harry smiled at her. “Does this mean you won’t come?”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” McGonagall said. “Where are you having the ceremony?”

“In the forbidden forest,” Harry replied. “Uh, not too far in.” Probably. He wasn’t quite sure of what location the others had decided on. He’d been trying to track down his nicest pair of robes at the time.

“You’ll have to get permission from the headmaster to host the event there, but there’s no reason for him to deny you,” Minerva said. “You and Mr. Riddle are both of age and familiar with the forest. The password is blood pops.”

Of course Tom hadn’t considered bothering to get the headmaster’s permission, Harry thought with a sigh. It wouldn’t have mattered if they were only inviting students, but with three professors on the list, they really couldn’t get away with just sneaking in and out of the castle as they usually did when they visited the forest. Neither of them were very partial to following the rules, but it couldn’t be helped. Harry procrastinated by delivering an invitation to Trelawney, who claimed to have Seen him coming. Harry thought she might’ve put away the brandy had that been true, but what did he know. It was a day for optimism in the face of his nerves; maybe Trelawney really was a talented true Seer and Harry had just never realized it.

Harry gave the password to the gargoyle guarding Dumbledore’s office and headed up the stairs, where Dumbledore greeted him from behind his desk with, “Mr. Potter, what can I do for you? It has been a very long time since you’ve visited my office.”

“I think it’s a positive that I haven’t been on the verge of expulsion in three years,” Harry said with a grin. He sat down in the plushy chair across from Dumbledore’s desk. “Although I still say that it was all Alecto’s fault.”

“Officially, I would of course say the two of you shared your fault equally,” Dumbledore said. His blue eyes twinkled. Whenever Tom wasn’t around, Dumbledore was actually pretty alright. Especially when he agreed with Harry’s side of the Carrow-Weasley prank war. “Would you like a lemon drop?”

Harry took one, popping it into his mouth. “I keep meaning to buy a container of these, mm. Sir, I’m here to ask if a group of about fifteen of us can meet in the forest tonight for a bonding ceremony. Professors Trelawney, McGonagall, and Snape will be there with us, so it’ll be very safe.”

Dumbledore stilled, the twinkle in his eyes much less evident. “A bonding ceremony, Mr. Potter?”

“Mine and Tom’s,” Harry explained, although he doubted it needed to be said. There were few students who would induce that kind of look in the headmaster.

“My dear boy,” Dumbledore said, and he stopped there for a long moment. “What have you done?”

Dumbledore had never approved of Tom. Perhaps in another universe, he would have had good reason, but in this one Tom wasn’t even a murderer yet. Harry couldn’t imagine what case Dumbledore had made in his head against Tom. While it was true that Dumbledore’s visit to their foster family hadn’t gone well—I can make people do things, I can speak to snakes, and it was as though a door slammed shut behind Dumbledore’s eyes—Tom had been a model student in the just over six years since. Publicly, anyway.

Harry smiled at him, and it was an expression he’d borrowed from Tom, cool and adamant. “Tom and I are eloping. Sorry, headmaster. We just can’t contain our love any longer.”

“Were it anyone else you chose, I would congratulate you,” Dumbledore said. He sounded tired. “But you of all people know Mr. Riddle best. You know his… deficiencies.”

“Tom can feel love,” Harry replied, rolling his eyes. It was mostly for show, but something dawned on Harry in that moment. “Of course he can feel love.” Harry stood from his seat before Dumbledore said any more. “We don’t need your approval. Just your permission to use the location we’d like.”

“And if you don’t get it, I have no doubt you would carry out the ceremony on Hogwarts grounds,” Dumbledore said, wryly.

Harry shrugged. “You’re not wrong, sir.”

“You have my permission if not my approval,” Dumbledore finally said, his blue eyes gazing into Harry’s. Harry wondered what he saw. He doubted Dumbledore had the gall to use Legilimency on a student, but it wasn’t as though Dumbledore would get much from him. The portion of his mind that made him a Seer was blocked from reach by any magical means. His thoughts about his visions, or the fact that he even had visions, was shielded completely by his talents. The rest of his secrets were so minuscule in comparison. To Dumbledore, Harry was just another student. A Gryffindor, an avid Quidditch fan, a high achiever despite the issues his Sight brought on. “You remind me of myself when I was young, Mr. Potter.”

“I take it it’s not a good comparison,” Harry said, smiling despite himself. He’d seen some vintage photos of a young Dumbledore and Grindelwald during Tom’s fanboy phase (research, Tom had claimed). “I won’t be like you, sir.” I won’t leave. And Tom wouldn’t ever cast him aside like Grindelwald had Dumbledore. It was a different time, a different goal.

“My efforts would be easier if you were.” But he didn’t sound very hopeful.

“Maybe,” Harry said. He’d seen futures where a version of himself and Dumbledore worked closely together, but those futures were the worst of the lot. They were the ones where Voldemort had burned out any bit of Tom that remained inside himself. “But I’d rather be happy than righteous.”

Dumbledore sighed and stood up to match him, and to Harry’s surprise, he held out his hand. “Then I wish you happiness, Mr. Potter.”

“Thanks, headmaster,” Harry said, returning the handshake.

It would have been polite to invite the headmaster of his school to the ceremony, but despite Dumbledore’s attempts to make nice, Harry didn’t want him there and Tom would never tolerate Dumbledore’s intrusion. Instead, Harry left the rest of the bouquet of lilies with Fawkes, who chirped at him before taking a bite out of the biggest flower.

As he headed back to Tom’s rooms, Harry thought about happiness. He thought about love, too, an emotion that he’d never let his thoughts linger on for too long. He loved Tom and Ron and Hermione and Lavender, but it took so much energy to just let himself care for them. To do it in spite of every vision that came crashing down around him where they all did terrible things to a version of him, or worse, them doing terrible things to themselves. Sometimes he looked at Ron and hated him because he hadn’t believed him about the Triwizard Tournament, but they’d never had one of those. Hermione once stole all of another him’s lifetime of research and destroyed it. Lavender once poisoned another him out of jealousy and laughed at the funeral. And Tom… His best friend was on a whole different level. Still, he adored them, all of them, whoever they chose to become in this world.

Absently, Harry slipped his tarot deck out of his pocket and indulged in the comforting, repetitive motion of flipping through his cards. He didn’t try telling his own future often, but maybe the fates would indulge him. It was his wedding day, after all.

Harry through the cards up into the air and let them fall onto Hogwarts’ stone floors. Three cards landed face up, the rest face down. The emperor, the star, the wheel of fortune.

“Shut up,” Harry told them. “I know it’s going to be unpredictable. That’s just what life is about.” He could’ve sworn the wheel spun as the cards appeared in his hands again.

“Talking to yourself?” called a familiar voice. The most familiar one.

Harry turned around and flashed a grin at Tom. “I was talking to my deck.”

“Did it talk back?”

“Only to tell me what I already knew,” Harry replied, waiting for Tom to reach him before they headed toward the dungeons. “Are you ready?”

“Yes,” Tom said, simply, although it wasn’t a simple thing at all.

Harry turned to look at him. For the first time, he wondered if maybe it was.

“Are you?”

“I’m always ready,” Harry replied, but he didn’t try to hide the anticipation he felt. He saw the same thing reflected in Tom’s eyes. Opening the door to Hermione’s rooms, Harry said, “I should go. I need to change and you can’t see my robes before the ceremony.”

Tom smiled at him, fond and exasperated at the same time. “That’s an utterly pointless muggle tradition. And you’re wearing the ones you wore to the Malfoys’ Yule ball last year.”

“You’re wearing your favorite dark green ones,” Harry argued. He wasn’t sure how exactly it was an argument, but that didn’t matter.

“I look even more handsome than usual in them,” Tom replied.

Harry considered whacking him with his deck of cards, but instead he just said, “You do,” and caught the pleased surprise in Tom’s eyes before he shut the door behind himself.

 

*

 

Hours later, Harry was wearing those dress robes as he slipped out of the castle. The moon was full and high among the stars, bright enough that Harry didn’t need a Lumos to guide his way. With how many times he’d snuck out of the castle throughout the years, the path was familiar anyway. He was going to miss this once he’d graduated, the way Hogwarts was the first place he’d felt he’d truly belonged. Tom was his home in a metaphorical sense and the flat they shared in Knockturn Alley was his home in a literal sense, but Hogwarts had always shined so brightly in his heart. It felt fitting to bond here instead of some other open field in Britain, with the ambient magics of Hogwarts lending to their union.

At the edge of the forest stood Magorian, idly weaving a vine into one of his long braids. Once Harry was within reach, Magorian’s tail shot out, flicking Harry’s arm. “You are late, my friend.”

“I can’t possibly be late to something that can’t start without me,” Harry said, not feeling all that guilty. He’d glanced at the clock before leaving and he was only fashionably late, and not even enough for Tom to glare at him. He’d meant to leave earlier, maybe get together with the others beforehand, but instead he’d let himself drift through his visions for longer than he’d meant to. He hadn’t expected to see anything relating to his own future, nor had he ended up seeing anything relevant toward what the future held in store for him, but it had been nice to see glimpses of his parents in some fashion on this day. “Although I still don’t know where exactly the ceremony is.”

“You’re in luck,” Magorian replied. “I can hear them all the way from here.”

Centaur hearing was amazing, Harry thought not for the first time. “You waited for me?” Harry asked, warmth building in his chest. Because he hadn’t asked, which meant—

“Your intended told me about your plans,” Magorian said. “You’re not irredeemably late, yet.”

But Tom would wait for him, as Tom always did.

“Usually people tell me I already am irredeemable,” Harry replied with a grin. The first time he’d done this, he’d been a lost little first year out where he shouldn’t have been, and he’d been allowed onto Magorian’s back a handful of times since then. It was only a matter of Magorian twisting to the side to grasp Harry under the shoulders and pull him up to a height where Harry could swing his leg over Magorian’s flank. From there, Harry scooted up toward the small of his back and wrapped his hands around Magorian’s waist. “Now that I think about it, this will be a lot less majestic than in my mind. Even with my growth spurt, I still can’t even look over your shoulder.”

“You’re only human,” Magorian said, reaching back to pat Harry on the shoulder. He began to stride forward, running through the woods at a steady pace.

Harry rested his head against his friend’s back, his heart beating fast. This was it, the culmination of his and Tom’s decisions thus far. It felt like utter insanity, and like destiny, too. “This is actually happening, right?”

(I don’t know what’s real, Harry had said to Tom so many times, back when he was still young and learning to tell the difference between visions and reality. He’d bury himself into the crook of Tom’s arm and Tom would say, talk it through with me, and Harry would ask him if Tom was sure he’d never been in an orphanage and had they definitely never met a boy named Billy? Had Tom ever had red eyes? Could he talk to snakes? Yes to the last one. Always yes, in every world.)

“It is,” Magorian agreed. To his credit, he didn’t ask Harry if he was sure.

After a few minutes, Harry began to see the twinkling lights of fairies twirling in the air, the lights multiplying until they reached one of the forest’s larger clearings, though not one that belonged to the centaurs. Off to one side was a large table with heaps of deliciously smelling food, but Harry only had eyes for the people gathered at the center of the clearing.

“Not a runaway groom!” Harry called out as Magorian approached, hanging to one side so that he could see his friends. Once they were only a few feet away, he jumped off of Magorian’s back.

“May you See your happiness through, Harry Potter,” Magorian said, picking a stray leaf out of Harry’s hair.

“I already see it,” Harry said, not being able to hide his grin as he saw Tom in the midst of his friends.

Younglings.”

Magorian pushed him forward and Harry went, walking into Hermione’s arms as she hugged him tightly and whispered congratulations into his ear. From her, he got passed to Ron, to Fred, to George, and on, and Harry couldn’t remember the last time he’d been hugged by so many people all at once. Lavender stuck a lily into his robes pocket and Dobby cried into his robes, while Snape even managed to sound pleasant. Harry was too high on excitement to find it properly creepy. And then he spun around and there was only Tom left, the others taking their seats cross-legged on the ground in two circles around them.

The first circle was a meter away and made up of the four people closest to them: Hermione at the north end, Draco at the south, Ron at the west, Bella at the east. It was said to be incredibly lucky to be a part of an inner circle, especially at a bonding rite as old as this one, and Harry hoped all four of them found all the luck they needed. Even Bella, even if Harry had always found the older girl a bit creepy. She’d arrived from outside Hogwarts, though judging by McGonagall’s stern looks from the outer circle, she hadn’t bothered getting the proper permissions.  The outer circle was more populated, filled with everyone else who’d come to add their magic to their bonding. People who they’d invited, and Colin with a camera, who hadn’t been invited but who Harry had expected anyway.

But the person who really mattered, that person joined him at the very center of the circle, having been well-wished by all of his own guests.

“Tom,” Harry said, the fairy lights suddenly a little too bright in his peripheral vision. The others had quieted upon taking their seats, leaving the two of them to begin as they wished. Harry realized he’d never even attended a wizarding bonding or muggle marriage; he had no frame of reference except for a musty old book. But that didn’t matter; he and Tom would pave their own ways. Harry reached for him, taking Tom’s hand in his. “You know, the first time I said we were going to spend forever together, you laughed at me.”

Tom huffed, his lips curling up into a tiny, helpless little smile. “In my defense, it was the first thing you’d ever said to me. I hadn’t had the time to grow used to you being right far too often.”

“I’m always right,” Harry said, even if it wasn’t completely true. His visions did lead him astray on occasion. Maybe it was better that he hadn’t Seen anything about their bonding; it would only have caused confusion.

“That, I’ll contest,” Tom replied, taking Harry’s other hand. “Later. Sometime over the course of the rest of our lives.”

“Yeah. That sounds…” Harry would dare anyone to be able to have a coherent thought when Tom was looking at them like they were his whole world. “It sounds really good.”

“Harry James Potter,” Tom began, his voice quiet, the words seemingly just between them. “I bind myself to you in marriage.” Tom’s eyes didn’t flicker away from Harry’s even when a white, silken ribbon shot out from Hermione’s wand and wrapped around him, binding the wrist of Tom’s wand arm to Harry’s. “Under the light of the moon, under the wands of our witnesses, I am yours. I will protect you and I will honor you. I will seek your counsel without expectation.” A pause, and then, his voice rough, “I will love you as I have loved no one else.”

All around them, the wandtips of their invitees glowed white, but Harry couldn’t look away from Tom. His heart felt so full, and he wanted to give Tom countries and planets and universes, but Harry only had himself. “Tom Marvolo Riddle, I bind myself to you in marriage.” This time, it was Draco’s wand that shot forth a ribbon, tying Harry’s right hand to Tom’s left. Harry’s hands felt so warm, his fingers threaded through Tom’s, the ribbon strong but soft around both of his wrists. “Under the light of the moon, under the wands of our witnesses, I am yours. I will love you the way I always have, without limit or direction. I will allow you to protect me, and I will be your sword, your shield, your armor in turn. I will find you when you lose yourself.”

Bella and Ron’s glowing ribbons flew through the air, twirling around them in a whirlwind of white until Harry couldn’t see outside of their little cocoon. The magic’s frenzied pace made Harry wish for his wand, tucked into his pocket, but he couldn’t reach for it without breaking his hold of Tom. Little by little, Harry’s magic began to be drawn out, the color the blue of the night sky. It joined Tom’s, whose Slytherin green color didn’t surprise Harry at all. Their magic twisted, turned, joined, until there was no Harry’s magic or Tom’s, only a shared well of it as deep as the ocean.

Harry didn’t know how long he stood there, breathing in the magic—petrichor, that was the only way to describe it—when a ripple flowed through the cocoon. A wand rested on the outside of the ribbons, ready to guide their return to the world from their little island. Another wand, and another, and an arrow and a silver rod. Harry felt so raw inside, so fundamentally changed, but he wasn’t the only one.

Tom looked so awed, so adrift in emotion as he raised their tied hands to look at the bindings.

Harry leaned in, the scant few centimeters between them vanishing as he kissed Tom. It had been so long since he’d kissed anyone, not since his fumbling attempts with two fellow Gryffindors during his fourth year. He’d been anguished at discovering he couldn’t kiss someone without his Sight using the intimacy to learn more about the person Harry was kissing, often so much more than Harry wanted to know. He’d wanted so much to simply be normal. He’d wanted—well, he’d wanted Tom, and not just to curl into Tom’s side as he whined about the world—but he hadn’t wanted to do it at the price of being assaulted by visions so hard that he would be barely conscious of kissing Tom.

Harry sighed in relief as he realized it was different now, that he could feel the soft touch of Tom’s lips without the press of another’s magic. He wasn’t battered by visions of Tom’s possible futures. It was only them in the here and now, two men bound together by magic and words and feeling.

“Alright?” Tom murmured, pulling back just a little.

“Better than,” Harry replied, and this time it was Tom who kissed him as the bindings fell from their wrists. When they pulled away, Harry’s head was light, his skin warm where Tom had touched him. A little smugly, he said, “Your hair is such a mess now.”

“I’m sure I’ll find the will to care later,” Tom replied.

They pressed their hands against the cocoon of ribbons and watched as it fell apart, their friends cheering as they finally saw them as a couple for the very first time. A married couple, Harry thought again, still so shocked that he was able to apply the words to himself and Tom. It had happened so fast—and yet it had been happening their entire lives, too.

“Finally,” Ron said, accepting Harry’s elbow to his ribs with some laughter. “How do you feel?”

“Amazing,” Harry replied, but he didn’t join Ron in heading to the feast that was set up nearby. He found Tom’s hand, squeezing it gently and letting the awe sink into his voice. “It’s so quiet in my head.”

He could feel his powers just on the edge of his awareness, but the visions weren’t trying to break through to his conscious mind. Fuck, he and Tom should’ve done this the second Harry turned seventeen. Later, Harry would have to see how the bond had impacted his power otherwise, but it was enough that his head could actually be clear. He would figure out the rest later.

“Then it was worth it,” Tom said in reply. He glanced at the table of their friends, then back at Harry. “We could stay for a few hours of being congratulated and asked too many questions.”

“Or?” Harry raised an eyebrow. “Are you offering to abscond with me, Tom Riddle?”

“You’ve gone seventeen years without having sex,” Tom said with a grin. “Don’t you want to know how it feels?”

“Fuck, I do,” Harry replied. He raised a hand in goodbye toward their friends as he let Tom lead him deeper into the forest. “Have fun without us! We’ll be back, maybe!”

He received some cheering, jeering, a Mr. Riddle, and a Harry in Hermione’s scandalized voice, but Harry just laughed and hurried along.

The forest was dark and beautiful around them as Tom led him to wherever he was leading him, and Harry was having trouble feeling anything but elated. There was no pounding in his head to signify a vision deciding to cram itself where it wasn’t wanted, no tension in his shoulders at whatever he’d just seen. It was so calm that Harry in turn was the one energized, not to mention finally able to let himself feel everything he wanted to feel for the man walking next to him. It felt like no time at all had passed until he and Tom were back at the castle, stepping through the castle’s main doors without a care for anyone but each other.

As they approached the Head Boy’s rooms, Harry said, “I bet I could bridal-carry you through the threshold.”

Tom raised an eyebrow at him. It was a very expressive eyebrow.

“I could,” Harry protested. “I did so much heavy lifting for Trelawney when she was redecorating her tower last month.”

Tom opened the door, but he didn’t step through it. Instead, he turned to Harry and said, “If you drop me, my revenge will be quick and bloody.”

But Harry couldn’t take him seriously when he saw that smile at the edge of Tom’s lips. Harry grinned himself as he kissed that smile and felt around for Tom’s shapely butt. Tom’s arms wrapped around Harry’s neck, holding on tightly as Harry broke their kiss to thrust Tom into the air, one arm supporting Tom’s back the the other Tom’s thighs. Harry quite nearly dropped him—whatever he’d said, Harry wasn’t actually a body-builder, and he wasn’t even a quidditch player due to his Sight—but sheer perseverance kept him walking those three steps through the threshold. Tom would make fun of him for all of his days if Harry dropped him. Also, it might hurt the chances of Harry getting laid tonight, and Harry wasn’t planning on losing his wedding night.

“Oof,” Harry grunted, letting Tom’s feet settle down onto the ground. “When we tell people I carried you through the threshold, we’re saying it was a very romantic, muscly thing where I carried you down the whole hallway, too.”

“I think my nose might grow a yard if I tried,” Tom huffed, very unsubtly pulling Harry along toward their bedroom. Harry’s heart beat faster with every step, and it wasn’t because of the moment of exertion. The Head Boy’s bedroom was one he’d spent nearly every night in since the beginning of seventh year, but now it was all different, the energy in the room buzzing between them instead of calming. Maybe Tom picked up on it, because he said, “If you’ve changed your mind—or change your mind later—tell me. I won’t die of blue balls.”

“Worried about your technique?” Harry asked.

“Not at all,” Tom drawled.

Harry huffed at him, but also blurted out, “I am. I’ve never done this before. I might fuck up.”

“You haven’t seen sex during your visions?”

“’Course I have, but there’s a difference between knowing and doing.”

“You’re not going to fuck up,” Tom said, his words undeniably fond. “Whatever you do—even if you tell me to fuck off to the couch—the thing that matters is it’s you who’s doing it.” He ran his hands over Harry’s shoulders. “You, my husband.”

Harry hoped his ears weren’t as red as they felt. “I don’t want you on the couch.” He dipped his hand into his pocket to get out his wand, then waved it with an incantation he’d found in one of the sex ed books Hermione had discreetly shoved onto Harry during the last few days. One word, and there wasn’t a stitch of clothing on Harry, his dress robes folded and resting on the bedside table. Harry threw his wand onto the table as well. Harry stepped back, his blush deepening without his permission all due to the heat in Tom’s eyes. It had already been there all night, but it was molten now, and a part of Harry adored it, and a part of him wanted to hide under the covers forever. Harry climbed onto the bed. “I want you on the bed. With me. You’re lagging behind, husband.”

To Harry’s disappointment, Tom didn’t spell off his own robes immediately after, but he did stride over to the bed and kiss Harry deeply, which was nearly good enough.

“You are,” Tom said, and didn’t finish between kisses.

Harry pulled away enough to ask, “Amazing?” but immediately kissed Tom before he could answer. Another chance to take a breath, and “Spectacular?” As they kissed, Harry pulled at Tom’s buttons, detaching at least one as he threw Tom’s robes onto the ground. Rudely enough, Tom was actually dressed under his robes. “Breathtaking?”

“Yes,” Tom said, grabbing Harry’s wand off the table as his own had probably been in his robes. One spell and Tom’s clothes were in a pile on top of Harry’s. “Infuriating, too.”

“I’m taking that as a compliment.”

Tom pushed gently against Harry’s chest as he got onto the bed, until Harry was on his back, propped up only by his elbows. “You should.”

Tom bit at softly Harry’s lips and trailed downward, kissing Harry’s chin, the side of his throat, his chest. Harry was reduced to moaning, to grasping at Tom’s hair as Tom nipped at his skin. He strained against Tom, arching up to gain some friction for his hard cock. Tom’s mouth was teasing and light, not nearly enough for what Harry wanted. By the time Tom kissed the head of Harry’s cock, Harry’d had enough. “Come on, Tom, please.”

Tom stroked Harry just once, then turned his attention down to Harry’s hole, rubbing his thumb over Harry’s entrance. Harry had never realized he could feel this much. He was never going to roll his eyes at Ron and Hermione having sex all over the place again; as far as Harry was concerned, he was never going to leave this bed.

“Tell me you want this,” Tom said, dipping just the tip of his index finger inside. He sounded much too smug.

Harry knew Tom’s ‘praise me, peon’ tone, but frankly, he was sure Tom deserved to be worshiped as a sex god. Why the hell did Tom need to want to be minister when he could do this instead? “I do, but I’m topping tomorrow.”

“I’ll let you know what I like,” Tom replied, and a spell rolled off his lips as his finger pressed inside Harry’s hole.

“Did you do that wandlessly?” Harry asked, amused even when every part of his body was straining in arousal. “How much did you have to practice to— oh.” That was— that was good, whatever Tom’s fingers were doing. The lube was warm as it coated Harry’s hole, and Tom’s fingers were long and skilled. “Just keep doing that.”

Harry reached for his cock, stroking it a few times, but Tom’s other hand wrapped around his own before long.

“Not yet,” Tom said, kissing Harry’s thigh.

“Dictator,” Harry muttered, rocking into both of Tom’s hands to very little effect.

When Tom’s hand finally left Harry’s cock, it was to position himself against Harry’s hole, the tip of his cock heady against Harry’s skin. Harry wrapped his legs around the small of Tom’s back in an unsubtle request for more, now, please. He wasn’t sure he could speak, his heart in his throat and his cock harder than it had ever been. Tom began to push into him, the pressure enough for Harry to let out a soft little sound. He didn’t know if it was too much, but then Tom was there, his body above and against Harry’s as he kissed his jaw and whispered something Harry’s ears didn’t catch. Harry groaned as the sensation of being opened so thoroughly reached its peak, Tom inside him completely. Tom rocked into him, his thrusts reaching something deep and tight inside Harry, and Harry thought he might just fall apart if Tom weren’t so warm against him.

“You’re mine,” Tom said, just scant millimeters away from a kiss.

Harry didn’t feel any different, catching Tom’s lips in a meeting that wasn’t deep enough for a kiss. “Of course I am. I always was.”

“Not in this way,” Tom replied. “You’d think that every other way would’ve been enough for me, but it wasn’t.”

“Well, you’ve always been kinda greedy. But you’re in luck—I love you that way.” Love was so very difficult, but Harry loved this man as he loved his own self, for he’d seen as many versions of him as he’d seen Harry Potters. Their fates were wrapped around each others, but Harry could say with utter certainty that this was the very best version of him and Tom. This, right now.

Tom kissed him deep enough that Harry’s lips ached and the rest of him just wanted more. He stroked himself, moaning into Tom’s mouth as Tom’s thrusts increased in speed. Harry couldn’t think, his mind existing only in planes of pleasure, but it registered somewhere deep inside him that Tom was coming. Warm, hard, wet, and Tom moaned into Harry’s neck, any control long gone. A stroke, and then another, and Harry was just as far gone, his come wet against their chests.

When Tom relaxed onto his side, he tugged Harry with him, and Harry settled against him, his eyes closed. He felt utterly sated. Except…

“It would be even more impressive if you know a wandless cleaning charm,” Harry said through a yawn.

Tom huffed, but he murmured something and Harry’s come vanished from his chest. “Good?”

“Perfect,” Harry said, kissing the closest inch of Tom’s skin to his lips. “You’re mine too, you know.”

“That hasn’t been in question for a very long time,” Tom replied, and Harry just had to open his eyes to see the expression on Tom’s face. It was rather perfect, really.