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Dearly Beloved

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As he sits in his seat in the grand hall of the Dark Manor, Harry thinks about life, death, and everything in between. Death, especially that of someone he knew, has left him feeling thoughtful and strange. Only a few days ago had Tom Marvolo Riddle III been alive and well, and now he lies motionless in a black coffin only two meters away. Harry hadn't wanted a seat in the first row of mourners, but he hadn't been able to avoid it. According to Tom, Harry is—was—the love of his life. According to Harry, Tom should have died last week instead of this one, in order for Harry to have successfully been able to avoid going on a date with him. He'd suffered through seven years of Tom's unwanted attentions at Hogwarts, two years in the DMLE, and it had only been days ago that Harry had given in. One date, he'd said, and it had been the worst date of his life. Tom may have been the Dark Lord's grandson, but he couldn't charm his way out of a paper bag. Harry had kissed him once to see if the date could be salvaged that way at least. The answer turned out to be no. Tom was only handsome if he kept his mouth shut. It had been terrible.

“We are gathered here on this solemn occasion to mourn the too-short life of Tom Marvolo Riddle the Third,” Lucius says from the platform, his voice solemn as he looks out into the room. Half the wizarding world must be here. "Tom was a beloved son, grandson, and friend. He was an excellent student," because no professor would give their lord's descendant a failing grade, Harry thought, "a talented quidditch player," who'd whined his way onto the field, "a hardworking employee," who'd passed his work onto Harry's desk with a wink and the assumption that Harry would do it because Harry was supposedly in love with him (Harry burned it to ashes), "and his contributions to our world were innumerable. We all grieve the man he could have been in five, ten, twenty years, a fine heir to the Dark Lord and successor to our dark kingdom of wizarding Britain."

At Lucius' words, Voldemort audibly scoffs. Lucius quickly continues on. Harry privately rejoices at not even Voldemort considering the asshole a proper heir. Take that, Tom.

Harry casts his gaze away from Lucius and toward the Dark Lord, who sits in his throne on the raised platform beyond the coffin. His face is a study in hard lines, his thin lips curled as he looks down at the the open casket that bears his descendant. They do not resemble each other much in looks. Tom had been handsome, while Voldemort's true features have been lost to the darkest of magic. Nearly everyone who remembered Voldemort as a young man remarked that Tom resembled his grandfather quite a bit. Harry could only imagine that their memories had been shredded by nostalgia; if the young Voldemort had been anything like Tom in personality, he would never have grown to rule their country.

Voldemort may not be traditionally handsome, but Harry cannot look away. He's seen the Dark Lord at rallies, at his graduation ceremony, even once in Diagon Alley. Each time, no matter how long he had been able to look, he hadn't been able to look his fill. It won't be any different now. His parents, who had sympathized with Dumbledore's cause before the Dark Lord's victory during their fifth year, never understood Harry's fascination. Even Harry doesn't quite understand it. His father had been the same way as a young man, obsessed with his Gryffindor yearmate, but Harry doesn't have a soulmate bond he can cast the blame on. He couldn't be so lucky.

At least he hadn't been so unlucky as to have Tom as his soulmate. It would be Harry's body in that casket if that were the case. Or, nah. It would still be Tom's, just more deliberately planted there rather than the embarrassing accident that had killed Tom in reality. Harry's glad it hadn't come to that. He wouldn't want to make a bad first impression on Tom's grandfather.

In life, Tom had spent a lot of time despairing over Harry not being his soulmate. Harry had hoped that Tom would stumble upon his soulmate and become obsessed with them instead, but it wasn’t to be; sometimes another man would distract Tom for a few weeks, but never permanently. Most of the time, Harry got the impression that Tom had been trying to make him jealous, which is laughable.

"Would you like to say a few words, my lord?" Lucius says as he ends his speech.


"Of course." Lucius bows. "It is a cruel fate, to leave our lord so stricken with grief. Before anyone else receives the chance to speak, I would like to invite someone else who had a major presence in Tom's life." Lucius' gaze falls on Harry, whose eyes widen. No, don't you dare, holy shit no— Lucius does not hear Harry's mental pleading. "The love of Tom's life, Harry James Potter. I remember when Tom first mentioned the young man he'd met on the Hogwarts Express his first year, and Tom hardly went a day without speaking of him again. They were so happy together, as lovers, friends, and students of the dark. Come on up, Harry."

Harry whimpers very quietly. Lucius has to be taking the piss. He isn't an unintelligent man. He would've known Tom's feelings were entirely one-sided; Draco, boot-licker to the grandson as Lucius is to the grandfather, had been privy to every single one of Tom's attempted seductions. Between Lucius not saying another word, simply expecting Harry to rise, and person in the row behind him pushing him out of his seat, Harry has no choice. He forces his way to the podium, which is angled so that both the audience and Voldemort can clearly see his face.

Harry tries to force his expression into something properly mournful, but all he manages is vaguely constipated, which isn't hot. Which, dammit, his lack of hotness shouldn't matter at a funeral, but the Dark Lord is so close. Tom's body is close, too. At the peak of Harry's inappropriate thoughts that evening, Harry decides Tom looks better as a corpse, even if he's wearing that creepy smile of his in death as well as life. Someone should've changed his expression a little.

Taking a deep breath, Harry searches inside himself for something nice to say. Between the Dark Lord, the body, and the sea of mourners in their best black robes, Harry has nowhere to look. When he opens his mouth, what comes out is, "We weren't lovers. For the record. We only went out once." Of all the many faces in the crowd, Harry can suddenly identify Hermione, thirty rows back and her hand covering her face. On his other side, for the first time during the ceremony Voldemort looks more interested than bored. Or at least Harry hopes that's it; what if he's seconds away from being cursed for disrespect? "Tom will be missed. By people. I'm sure." Beside Hermione, Ron's shoulders are shaking. Harry is positive it isn't because his eulogy has brought his friend to tears. "Thanks for coming."

The silence after his failure of a speech is deafening. Harry prepares to slink back, ashamed and embarrassed and maybe going to be assassinated, when Ron stands from his seat and claps. Ron is a loud clapper, and the sound reverberates across the hall until others join in, Hermione the first of the lot though she's sighing deeply as she does. Harry bows to prevent the audience from seeing his smirk and returns to his seat in the front row.

Draco is the next to speak, standing without his father having to prompt him. He takes a breath before he speaks, meets Harry's eyes briefly, and begins. "My fondest memory of Tom is when he tried to out-prank the Weasley twins for a full year, culminating with the release of the basilisk he couldn't properly control."

It is a tale of stupidity, pride, and tears.

Harry gapes the entire time, riveted. He knows some of the story, but not from the angle of Tom's closest confidant. This is the proudest he's ever been of Draco. No longer is he a boot-licker; with this confidence, maybe he'll have others licking his boots one day. Amazing. Harry will laugh at whoever it is, but with less scorn than he would've otherwise. As each classmate and professor of Tom's takes their turn in a fabulous roasting session, Harry decides this is the best day of his entire life. Tom's entire annoying existence was almost worth this moment. Harry might've felt bad about it had Tom's family complained. But Tom's existence is a mystery that has never been explained; one day Voldemort had simply announced that he had a grandson, and that was that. Voldemort obviously doesn't care that the eulogies aren't kind-spirited. Instead, he looks more entertained than ever. Not even one of Tom's exes who references a night they spent together gets cursed.

Afterwards, a line forms to view the body. Harry rejoins Ron and Hermione, standing beside them as the three of them look down at their former classmate. Tom is dressed in Slytherin-green robes, as was his preference in life because he was an overly proud dick, and the color does nothing for his death-pale complexion.

“I can’t believe he managed to get me to go on a pity date with him before he died,” Harry says under his breath, glaring at the body. “I could’ve had a long and beautiful life without seeing his awful table manners from two feet away.”

"At least he died happy," Hermione replies, sounding like she's prying the words out of herself. Of the three of them, she might be closest one to being a proper responsible adult, but in Hogwarts she'd gotten so fed up with Tom looking down at her for her blood that she'd cursed his hair to become a mass of snakes. With the way they were still attached to his scalp, Tom had nowhere to run when they'd started attacking him. It's one of Harry's favorite memories of Tom.

Ron isn't nearly so charitable. "Happy at Harry's expense, fuck that."

"Exactly," Harry agrees. "Better that he'd died miserable."

He still can't believe himself for relenting to Tom's unending demands for a date. Harry had no idea why Tom professed to love him; they'd never been particularly nice to each other. Or rather, Tom considered himself nice, deigning to have feelings for Harry while trying to change Harry. Tom hadn't liked Harry's friends, always telling him he could do better than blood traitors and mudbloods, even though his grandfather allowed both into Hogwarts and publicly spoke of first generation purebloods. Tom had been both appreciative and wildly jealous of Harry's prodigious quidditch talent, as it was Harry's fault that Slytherin hadn't won the house cup in all his seven years at Hogwarts. Even at the DMLE, which Harry still thinks Tom stalked him into, Tom couldn't seem to understand why Harry cared about the lives and rights of those Tom considered far beneath himself. To Tom, there was only one person above him: the Dark Lord, whose name he invoked often and over the smallest of slights, not that Voldemort ever seemed to care about schoolyard squabbles.

The crowd begins to disperse as people finish paying their respects or just gawking at the body. Harry lingers, letting Ron and Hermione leave for the funeral reception without him. He casts the occasional glance toward Voldemort, knowing it will be his last chance to catch sight of him for a long while. He alternates between glaring down at Tom's body and looking up at Voldemort's throne. Harry startles as the next time he looks up, Voldemort is gone.

"A heartfelt eulogy, Mr. Potter, was it?" says the smooth voice of the Dark Lord, standing closer to Harry than Harry had realized.

Harry tries not to show his panic. Maybe Voldemort really is angry. Oh Morganna, this is how he is going to die. It's all Tom's fault. Harry had always thought Tom would be the death of him, but he'd assumed it would be because Tom would force him to snap one day and try to murder the arrogant bastard in public with a hundred witnesses to his crime.

"My lord," Harry begins, thinking frantically. "I’m sorry for your loss. He was a—” selfish, conniving, irritating “—person, your grandson, who I’m sure you were fond of somehow."

“And will you miss him?” Voldemort ask, taking a step closer.

His closeness sends all rational thought fleeing from Harry's brain. He's never stood so close to the Dark Lord, never been so thoroughly captivated. Whatever it is that Harry feels, it's powerful, obsessive, amazing. He's spoken with people who work closely with the Dark Lord, who frequently spend time surrounded in the dark miasma of his magic, but not even they seem to be as enthralled as Harry. Harry feels a strong urge to touch him, to reach for his pale skin. In that moment, he can't remember how to lie, and he looks into Voldemort's red eyes as he says, "No. I won’t miss him.”

If this is Voldemort's trap, he'll enter it willingly. But Voldemort only curls his lips into a faint smirk. "Neither will I." He spares a glance for the body. "His existence was a mistake on my part. I should have taken better care of my belongings, especially that diary of mine. A pity." Voldemort's tone is weary, but he doesn't seem to grieve the end of his experiment. Instead, he turns his red eyes to Harry, a strange sort of curiosity flickering through his expression. "I regret not being more interested in just one aspect of his life."

"Why?" Harry asks, understanding dawning slowly. It can't be true. It can't. He's just Harry Potter, and Harry Potter cannot be the soulmate the Dark Lord has spent decades searching for. The other half of his soul, the match to his power, the person who will help bring the dark empire to unimaginable heights.

"You feel it, too," Voldemort only says. He reaches for Harry, and Harry can't deny it. He tilts his head closer as Voldemort reaches for him, his breath hitching in his throat in the moments before the tips of Voldemort's fingers touch Harry's skin. Voldemort doesn't give off an aura of warmth by any measure, but his skin is warm to the touch, spreading sparks of magic and fire across Harry's jawline. There's something satisfied in Voldemort's expression as he murmurs, "I've found you."

Harry isn't bold enough to touch Voldemort's face, but he reaches for Voldemort's hand, his eyes wide as the soulmate magic flickers between them. It wasn't one-sided obsession that had stricken him, nor unduly fascination for his leader. It is a bond as old as time, running down to their very souls. "I shouldn't have wasted even a second on Tom." Not when Harry could've had this soul-deep perfection, this feeling of finally found his other half. His parents had spoken of it, and so had Ron and Hermione, but Harry realized now that he could have never understood it until he felt it for himself.

"You shouldn't have," Voldemort agrees, though he sounds too smug about the situation to be angry.

Harry's smile widens to a grin. "I kissed him, too, you know. I could use some help forgetting his kiss."

"Could you," Voldemort says, tilting Harry's head back, each second of touch more perfect than the last.

Voldemort doesn't disappoint him, pressing his lips against Harry's in a kiss that doesn't so much as hesitate before deepening. Harry steps as close as he dares, then closer, forgetting where he is until Voldemort presses him against the closed half of the casket. The casket is smooth and firm behind him, and Harry wraps his arms around Voldemort's neck, only too happy with the new position.

I'm going to go to hell, Harry thinks with amusement, and he can't wait. Voldemort could send him to hell himself and Harry wouldn't complain as long as he could have a few moments more of this. He may be going to hell, but the ride there is a delicious press of bodies.

There's a gasp from somewhere across the hall, but Harry doesn't give a shit. He's won the soulmate lottery. Voldemort may not be traditionally handsome, but Harry doesn't think he'll ever not want to have him like this. He's not a Slytherin—power, while alluring, doesn't interest him on its own—but the kind of power Voldemort represents, the pull of his magic, the warmth of his skin, that's enough for Harry to pull Voldemort even closer. Harry hopes Tom can see every bit of this from hell or wherever he'd ended up. He moans once just for Tom, then forgets Tom entirely as Voldemort makes him moan for real.

"You'll have only me from now on," Voldemort says when they part for a moment. It's a promise, an order, a vision of the future. His grip on Harry tightens, causing a shiver of pleasure to run through Harry.

Harry should work on being offended instead of really turned on at his soulmate's possessiveness. He really should, but he elects to leave it for the future. Today, he only tightens his grip around Voldemort's neck, kissing him deeply in reply. By the time he gives a verbal reply, Harry's lips tingle from the kiss, and he says, "You're mine, too." Whatever else he is, ruler of Britain and Harry's lord, Voldemort is also simply Harry's. "No more Toms."

"Never," Voldemort promises before kissing him again.

Harry smiles into the kiss, feeling utterly content. Maybe he owes Tom one after all. That unfortunate little accident of Tom's has brought him so much more than he could have ever dreamed of.