There are those, who would flay the skin from their flanks to grovel at the feet of divinity. There are those, who would cast off the shape of their container to bow before hellebore and mumble verses and words in cracked noises. Incense cloying, wax dripping to hiss and sear and burn again...again. There are those, who would chop the limbs that grounded them and let their spirit rise upwards into the grasp of the heavenly choir, leaving behind mutilated flesh carved by their own hand.
Then I will punish their transgression with the rod And their iniquity with stripes; Psalm 89:32
There are those who under worship saw duty instilled by other. There are those who took their love, and used it to justify hate. Under candlelight and broken stone, altars cracked by unseen strife. Water blessed by saint, given to those begging for a drink until drink turned to drunk and from there it burned like fire. Dripping, pouring, again...again.
But the next day he took the bed cloth and dipped it in water and spread it over his face, till he died. And Hazael became king in his place;2 Kings 8:15
Flashes again, heat and humility and humble forced through his blood into spirit itself. There are things more important than our own pleasures, there are things more important than the suffering of the body.
Again, again, until the wordless coos were banished with the glint of polished metal. The scarlet light tinted from the window of the Virgin Mary. The thrashing and woeful throes of creatures made from hellfire.
And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues;’Mark 16:17
The sins of the impure will be baptized with blood and worship.
There are those with faith to guide their hand and trust in actions predetermined.
There are those, who beg for less; and scream as heaven crashes down.
“Please God, let me live.”
There are those, who beg and cry over their salvation; where even the Lord turns their back in shame.
Number 12 Grimmauld Place was a dark, gloomy place. It was filled with a sort of presence hard to explain- it felt like a hundred eyes watched you no matter where you went. Although, that may have been the large wall of severed House Elves.
The stairs creaked, the walls smelled of mildew and peeling paper, even the furniture had strange teeth marks as if something had been gnawing on it for quite a while. It wasn’t pleasant under any circumstances, but it wasn’t the Dursley’s so with that logic, it was home.
Once you overlooked the large cases of potentially dangerous artifacts, the house had a sort of charm to it. It had memories from the small soot stains on the ceiling to the part of the carpet where dozens of feet had stamped it flat over decades. Harry wasn’t one to say any of this out loud, but he actually liked the house.
His godfather most certainly did not, and Harry was beginning to suspect them and had put several of the soot stains there himself.
They had been cleaning the house almost insanely so. Mrs. Weasley leaping at the couch cushions wielding a feather duster instead of a sword. She could have fit in one of the paintings where knights fought off dragons; except she used a mop to challenge a suspiciously large fur ball to a duel to the death. Harry was pretty sure the fur ball had never seen something as terrifying as that woman.
Only a few days into summer break and already Harry’s fingers felt numb and sore from scrubbing, he wasn’t sure he had ever smelled as lemony before in his life. His hair was messy, at one point he and Ginny tried to tie it back with countless hair clips but they too were consumed by the ravenous black mane. Sirius had laughed so hard at the sad attempt, he even let the disgruntled girl try to make stubby braids in his black hair.
Harry couldn’t argue that life was bad, but there were moments where he felt such overwhelming frustration he wanted to punch a wall. Moments while cleaning where he simply remembered the chaos of the Triwizard Tournament, moments where he felt the hot rotten breath of the Horntail snapping just behind his shoulder- only for him to spin around and see nothing but dust.
There were moments, when he glanced in a mirror and bright red eyes stared back at him. Moments where he swallowed water and he was convinced that he was going to drown. Small moments, but moments nonetheless.
It was better now, now that he could stay up at night leaning against Padfoot on a couch, watching a fireplace flicker without the stress of impending grades. There were times where he could walk to the kitchen and grab an apple to eat, a novelty that was embarrassing and shameful to take pride in. Times, where he breathed in and although the air was stale and molded, he was so overwhelmingly happy he couldn’t not smile.
He didn’t like to think about the graveyard. He didn’t like to think of the muted noise of someone hitting the ground. It sounded just like a dozen other times; when Dudley broke his glasses when he tripped him at the playground, when they learned Stunners for the first time and Hermione had been a little too good at it, when Ron fell out of bed in the morning forgetting that his feet needed to support his weight, when Cedric’s lifeless body collapsed onto dew coated grass.
It all sounded the same, but it left his heart stuttering just a little too frantically. Like a pocket watch wound a little too tightly. Gears grinding together- pull too quick then watch it spin itself out.
Sometimes his hands would clench into tight fists, knuckles turning white. Sometimes he wanted to turn and punch and punch until his skin split and bled. He felt like he deserved it sometimes. He didn’t kill Cedric, but he may have well done it himself.
He would never forget it, not until he stopped breathing.
“Harry!” Someone startled him, causing Harry to jolt from where he had been dozing off. Hermione was looking at him inquisitively, a small hint of concern threatening to bubble over. He had been trying his best to disguise anything that may have been not normal. She hadn’t been that close to him during the School Year (something they had already discussed and put behind them) so any new habits of his weren’t yet familiar to her.
He forced his face into a small smile, forced but not obviously so. “Yeah 'Mione? Ready to go?”
Hermione tucked one loose strand of hair behind her ear, visibly uncomfortable. “Ah, yes. Ginny finished up in the library so we’re gathering in the parlor to portkey over.”
Harry nodded, already aware of the plan. There was going to be a large discussion here at the Order headquarters, one so large that the risk of exposing other members or nonmembers (much to the Twin’s frustration) was too dangerous. They were all being moved into the Weasley household for a couple days until all discussions were finished.
“Professor Moody is escorting us!” Hermione smiled weakly, unable to hide how much the man discomforted her. The large bulging eye and uncanny habits left much to be wanted, but he was intelligent company and not someone who treated Harry like a fragile child. Harry liked his company over a few choice members.
“Harry!” Mrs. Weasley waved at him dramatically, although there wasn't any way he could possible miss her. It was an endearing action, although one that continued to baffle Harry as time went on. “Over here! Do you have everything? Don’t leave anything behind! Ginny, Dear, did you get those spare pastries in the kitchen- Fred! George! Stop that!”
Harry sighed through his nose at the familiar ruckus, sliding into the group of Red hair that crowded around him like a friendly pile of Kneazles. They were all clutching one large nondescript umbrella with one hand, the other was being held by a scowling Alastor Moody.
“Good, all set?” Moody grumbled, bulging eye rolling around jerkily, “excellent, we’re making excellent time. Alright, hang on tight, Willow.”
They vanished, then landed. Harry promptly vomited on the grass.
“Get it together, Potter!” Moody howled playfully, swatting Harry’s hunched over back with the now ordinary umbrella. “Deep breaths! Get your feet under ya!”
Harry wheezed and tried to ignore the snot that was drooling from his nose with the bold intent of Hagrid’s hound. Moody grinned when he saw Harry summon his limitless amount of stubborn willpower. He straightened jerkily, and Moody laughed a barking raspy noise.
“There you go!” Moody sneered playfully, twirling the umbrella in one hand, “off now, reckon they’ll be waiting. Albus told me to keep an eye on you, seem you’re a magnet for trouble, eh?”
Harry didn’t quite know what to say in response, so he coughed sourly into one hand and rolled his shoulders.
“Make my life exciting, Potter.” Moody grinned, starting off with a shuffling gait towards the Burrow towering in the distance, “Albus warned me of that. Told me not to let you go stumbling off.”
“I wouldn’t go stumbling off looking for trouble if I wanted to.” Harry snidely muttered, pausing before recovering with a quiet, “sir.”
Moody cackled, looking more thrilled by the lack of professionalism. He smacked one of his large hands on Harry’s back, nearly sending him flying. “You’re a lively one! Good! Keep that spirit, it’ll keep you alive!”
Harry could imagine the large bruise forming on his back. He was going to get questions about that for sure.
“Tell ya what.” Moody’s face twisted into what may have been a smile, although the missing chunk of his nose made his entire expression seem garish. “I’m workin’ on a ritual. May be good experience to see some advanced magic in practice.”
Harry instantly perked up. “A ritual? Like the-.”
Harry thought of red eyes. His arm burned. He flinched.
Moody didn’t look like he pitied Harry, which was more than most people gave him. Harry already liked Moody a lot more because of that.
“You’ve seen a ritual already, boy.” Moody grunted sharply, “You manage to get out of bed before dawn I’ll show you some real magic alright. Of course, only observational purposes.”
Harry couldn’t stop the wide breathless smile that spread across his face. “Of course, sir.”
Moody chuckled lowly, swatting him with the umbrella. “Cheeky brat! Get inside! Molly will be making a fuss if you keep your bird's nest of a head out here any more!”
Mrs. Weasley did make a racket, shushing him up the stairs to drop his bag off in Ron’s room where he’d be sharing it. He had tried to explain that he really was fine with a few blankets on the floor, but apparently the Weasley household couldn’t fathom ever a situation where that would be necessary. A bright cot was shoved in the corner, larger than the one Harry had grown up sleeping on under the stairs.
“Bloody sucks,” Ron grumbled under his breath, flopping on his own bed, “that we got kicked out for a stupid Order meeting. Why can’t we just stay in our rooms?”
Harry dug through his bag and pulled out a few of the supplies he had taken with him, particularly the snacks he had weaseled away with Sirius’ help. “Well, maybe they know Fred and George would try to sneak in.”
Ron made a small grumbling noise of agreement, fumbling on his side table for a specific magazine in the stack of Quidditch posts.
Harry occupied himself the best he could, trying not to think about what Sirius could be doing so far away.
Dinner was a wonderful home cooked meal, made with far too much fuss. Harry was perfectly content with whatever he was given, but apparently eating his meal without all the additives was somehow a crime. Ginny nearly launched herself across the table when Harry forgo the gravy and side sauces. Mrs. Weasley invaded his space herself, pouring so much gravy on his plate, Harry was sure his potato would start to float.
Feeling much more content and cozy, the house was filled with warmth and laughter. Stories and discussions about what had been going on in the world, speculation about the next year at Hogwarts even though the summer break just started. Fred and George talked to Harry in codewords that were so convoluted, Harry couldn’t figure out what on earth they meant when obviously discussing their funding for their prank shop. Maybe the idea of a Skivvering furball was some sort of cat? Or maybe they were literally talking about a fur ball.
Harry went to bed with a small alarm clock ready to jump out of his hand for dawn, with the reassurance that Ron could sleep through a tornado.
The rune circle was pretty and organic in a way the Graveyard wasn’t. An area of the field had been cleared out, a small circle surrounded by bright green sprouts that would one day turn into corn plants towering above their heads. Moody was fumbling around the edges, adjusting large mounds of turquoise stones that Harry had seen in some jewelry. He was sure Hermione had a necklace with one of the sky blue rocks.
“Potter!” Moody barked, pointing at one nondescript lump of what looked like coal, “go fetch me that rock!”
Harry hopped up from where he was sitting on the ground, grabbed the lump of coal, and handed it to the larger wizard. Moody didn’t even look up before he dropped the stone, smashing it under his heel until it was small fragments. Harry didn’t understand any of this.
He was sure he would do better in Divination than any of this weird rune creating business.
Moody finally felt satisfied with his odd little circle when he rotated a completely normal quaffle four times on a pedestal. It looked like a normal quaffle, so Harry really didn’t understand why he was so focused on it.
“Alright!” Moody almost roared, the sunrise peeking over the horizon now to chase away the dew, “stand back Potter! If I manage to do this right, we’ll have a great aid to our war!”
Harry jolted upright in interest, “we will? What are you making? A weapon?”
Moody barked out a laugh, “close! This ritual summons your signature from when its the most desperate! In almost all cases it summons you when you’re on your bloody deathbed but with war, I reckon I’d be most desperate only when we’ve somehow lost!”
Harry blinked a few times, unable to begin to understand.
“Normally this ritual is bloody useless,” Moody scoffed at the ground and the nice quaffle. Maybe he’d give it to Fred and George once they were done, they could use a new quaffle for sure. “But if I manage this right, my older self would be something that Dark Lord never expects! Hah! We’d have won!”
Harry didn’t want to argue that Moody wasn’t quite the sanest, so really a highly desperate Moody may not be the best idea.
“Okay, sir.” Harry shrugged unsure, sitting back on the dirt of obediently watch. “I’ll get help if you set yourself on fire.”
Moody sent him a stink eye although it was an affectionate one. He grinned a toothy grimace, then began to twirl and dance while shouting gibberish. No, it was a step up from that. It was gibberish, with meaning.
Harry lowered his chin to rest in his palm, already expecting the man to be struck by lightning. He should have stayed in bed.
The ritual worked, but they had overlooked a few things.
They thought that Moody would be the most desperate between them, that through the trauma and battle’s he’d seen, any stage where he truly became desperate would surely be more powerful. The ritual locked onto the nearest signatures, scanning through the dimensions unbound by time for anything that fulfilled the requirement. Moody had a few instances of desperation, where anxiety and adrenaline peaked into a concoction of potential.
Harry hadn’t thought he was really that desperate in his lifetime. Maybe he had some trauma, maybe he had nightmares nightly. It couldn’t be at all able to fulfill the specifications.
A moment, of utter despair and utmost desperation. A level of panic and unholy fear that left you unable to function on even the most instinctual level. Something so wounded and rancid, it tainted who you were down to your core.
The London Blitz was something horrible. Something bloody and cruel like a feral dog with its leg in a trap. Desperation; willing to chew its own muscle and tendons and snap its bone because it wanted to live.
‘Please God, let me live.’
‘Please God, let me live.’
War, was something unbound by time.
War rarely ever changed, really.
‘...I don’t want to die.’
The first thing that Harry thought, was that the smell of cranberries was a strange smell for a ritual. He had been preparing himself for a sharp bite of sulfur, or maybe the gagging fumes of the Divination tower. Maybe a little sparks or ominous chanting in the wind. He didn’t know much about rituals so he was genuinely expecting anything that had an unsettling feeling to it.
Instead, there was a pungent recognizable smell of cranberries, like Ron had accidentally flipped a bowl of jelly across the entire table.
There was a thin wispy line of pink smoke, opaque like a ribbon. It wiggled in the air, like a tentacle from the Giant Squid waving a friendly hello. Moody stood in the middle of it all, his thin hair rising above his head dramatically. Harry almost laughed from the ridiculousness of it all.
There was a tiny pop, Harry thought it was his jaw at first. Sometimes he yawned and it made a similar noise. His forehead itched, then burned.
“Shit!” Harry cursed, hands slapping against his forehead against the sharp burn of his scar. For some reason it was wet, although he could tell it wasn’t the same type of pain he knew. It was...something deeper and sore, but not so unbearable that he couldn’t breathe.
Moody’s arms lifted, and Harry almost laughed at how asinine everything was.
Another tiny pop, like someone a few feet away popped an especially impressive bubblegum bubble, and then there was a person.
‘Oh’ Harry thought to himself numbly, ‘that’s not Moody.’
‘Oh.’ Harry quickly thought again once his brain comprehended what exactly had happened. ‘Oh shite.’
It was a teenager, thin with long limbs. Wearing clothing Harry couldn’t imagine Dudley ever wearing or let alone fitting in even in a few sizes larger. Muted colours and fraying edges that looked itchy even from the slight distance. They looked like they belonged in a second hand store, or maybe a British archive.
The thin cuffs were too big, the pants were rolled up and hacked off with dull scissors or a knife. Harry had worn worse, so it wasn’t that bad.
The boy was splayed on the ground, adjusting slowly with a small groan so quiet Harry almost missed it. Arms moved, legs adjusted. There wasn’t any blood spewing anywhere, so already that was better than expected.
Moody sharply finished the ritual, lowing his arms and transitioning from shaman to confused auror. Obviously, the boy slowly recovering was not Moody.
Another low groan, long heavily bruised fingers curling into a low fist as whoever it was jerked up into a kneeling position. Messy greasy hair in messy clumps hid the face, although clearly male.
“Uh,” Harry wisely said.
The newcomer lifted one black and blue hand up to clutch his temple, slurring out a low but still audible, “Wot’ ‘he bleedin’ ‘ell?”
“Cockney.” Harry blurted intelligently.
Barely a second happened before the stranger was swinging his left hand to his side where something was strapped there- then a sword popped out.
Well, a sword was an exaggeration but it was larger than a knife. Ornate and antique, dirty and muddied up but held in a tight grip. A bloody dagger, and Harry was respectfully paranoid when facing suspicious individuals wielding sharp blades. His arm throbbed at the memory.
“Oi!” Moody shouted the moment he spotted the knife, kicking upwards to displace the flat of it with his prosthetic leg. The knife didn’t fly away, but it was jerked in a thin grip so it wasn’t as dangerous. “Put that away, boy!”
The stranger reeled back, predatory lunging backwards onto mismatching boots. There was a hole in the one, no socks.
“Cop the bloody hell fire from me!” They spit out sharply, nearly equaling Professor Snape in level of frigidity. Harry instantly took a step back, some sort of gut instinct telling him to back off.
Moody’s scowl sunk in and he pulled his wand, jerking it at the ready. The stranger spotted it and twisted back- his skin was sickly pale and somewhat yellow in a few spots- then made an undisguised choking noise.
“A bloody wand, i’n’it?” A choked noise, then a skittering step backwards. Moody instantly stiffened, holding his wand ready. Harry realized that pulling his wand would likely be a good idea, so he too fumbled to get it out of his back pocket.
The stranger and one hand through his disgusting hair, pushing it up out of his face although the bloodied knuckles muffled his hysterical: “ Bollocks. ”
The hand lowered, Harry made a loud “ah!” and took a step backwards. Moody looked very exasperated.
“Who are you?” Moody grumbled out.
Tom Riddle’s gaunt bruised face glared, thin lips pulling back savagely. He was a feral animal, something chained up and abandoned in a junkyard and a skeleton of instinctual drive to survive, and pure spite.
“Cockney.” Harry blurted again, although his voice was more wondering than horrified.
Tom’s face twitched, dark eyes lined with thick purple bags. Bloodied knuckles smoothed disgusting hair and brushed against a flaking stain on his left cheekbone. It fell away like a dark powder, soot, or blood.
“Ah, my apologies.” Tom Riddle spoke, hoarse and guttural and in all ways a snarl. No cockney in sight, although Harry could never forget that surreal drawl from a face he’d never forget.
Tom Riddle’s eyes flashed darkly, the waxy glimmer of his skin made him look sickly. Tom Riddle bared his teeth and said, “I stress, fuck you.”
It took awhile to wrestle him into compliance. Most of the time Harry stood there in dumb shock, Moody did most of the talking. It took nearly as long to explain what happened (which nobody could figure out), as it took to get the dagger out of Tom Riddle’s hand. Being threatened at wandpoint gave the world a special perspective. The cockney accent vanished, instead there was a smooth drawl that hitched a little at first but now sounded as natural as breathing.
“Cockney.” Harry whispered to himself almost in bliss, feeling very satisfied with the knowledge.
Tom Riddle was practically frog marched into the house with the tip of a wand pressed against the back of his neck. The other was seething, a restrained unit of violent intent that Harry felt worried would lash out at any moment. Harry had a strange sense that even without a wand or a knife, Tom Riddle could kill them if he wanted to.
Tom Riddle sat down in the chair Moody pointed at him to sit in. His leg moved, calf balancing on his knee. His head tilted just so, and suddenly Harry felt like he had seen this boy in the chamber below the castle years ago.
“So,” Moody grumbled sourly, looking composed although Harry knew he was just as bewildered. “You must be confused.”
Tom Riddle’s fingers tapped along the exposed skin of his wrist. The skin looked sickly, his nails broken and chipped into small nubs.
“Unfortunately.” Tom clipped out, yet impossibly the word drawled out patronizingly. Harry wondered how Snape never mastered an intimidating aura with a single word. Moody ran one hand down his face tiredly, magical eye rolling in its socket.
“Alright, the bag.” Moody grunted, and Tom Riddle very fluidly reached for the small side bag on his hip. It looked like canvas, nondescript. Fairly small but well secured to his side. Harry could have sworn he’d seen the clothes Tom was wearing before, although he had no idea where.
Tom placed it on the table next to him, eyes never leaving Moody.
“Leave it,” Moody demanded, slowly hobbling over to slide the bag further away using the tip of his wand. Moody mumbled something, swishing his wand. The bag glowed ever so slightly.
“Enchanted,” Moody growled, Harry felt something grow tenser. Tom blinked slowly, not bothered.
Moody unzipped the zipper, ignoring the small tear near the metal teeth. He reached inside, jerking the flap open wide so he could peer inside. Whatever his magical eye saw, it clearly wasn’t what he wanted to find.
“Fine,” Moody grunted sharply, “go clean up. Kitchen sink. Po...Harry, go let Mrs. Weasley know.”
“Right, sir.” Harry scrambled to his feet. His feet made obnoxious squeaking noises on the floor, Tom Riddle didn’t even look at him.
Mrs. Weasley took to the idea that there was a stranger in her kitchen quite well. In hindsight, with how often Harry popped by unannounced it likely wasn’t odd at all. Once Harry explained that Moody somehow summoned a boy through cranberries and ribbons, she was already ignoring him and muttering about breakfast. Harry had a strange feeling that Tom wouldn’t be that cheery for homemade toast.
“Mrs. Weasley, I really think that you should wait!” Harry scrambled after, trying to keep his voice low so he wouldn't wake the other occupants of the house. Dealing with a gaggle of Weasleys was always much more difficult than the matriarch herself.
“None of that, Harry!” Mrs. Weasley shushed him gently, hurrying into the kitchen with a fond smile. “No dearie! Leave it all to me!”
Harry couldn’t express in all the words in the English language, how much of a bad idea that was.
They entered the kitchen just as the boy in question was retreating to a corner. One of Mrs. Weasley’s bright dish towels was wiping across his face, other portions of it looked thick with grime. Other sections looked reddish and almost crusted over.
“Oh,” Mrs. Weasley looked taken aback although she recovered quickly, like a mother who had seen almost every possible monstrosity in her kitchen before. “Don’t worry, dearie! I’ll fetch you another one!”
Tom Riddle’s eyes peered out, clouded and distrusting. The dish towel was completely ruined.
“Wow,” Harry spoke without thinking as he was prone to doing when tired or overwhelmed, “that is a lot of dirt.”
Tom Riddle’s face twitched and he splashed more water on his face- a small dish that Mrs. Weasley normally used for decorative fruit. It was a smart idea, Harry didn’t know why he hadn’t ever considered having a bowl of water instead of constantly fighting with the magical taps.
He splashed and ran his broken nails over skin, clawing and leaving ever so faint red lines. Scrubbing away dirt without considering a new cloth or something else. Harry doubted he used any of the soap offered for washing dishes.
“Here dear!” Mrs. Weasley returned, holding out not only a clean full body towel, but a few washcloths made for scrubbing. Tom said nothing, he set to work scrubbing with a mindless efficiency that both startled Harry and made him uncomfortable. The water in the bowl quickly clouded over. Tom then went so far as to dunk part of his head in the water, scrubbing without care for the lack of soap.
“Ah,” Harry interrupted after a few seconds of staring at this surreal display. “There’s ah, soap.”
Tom didn’t look at him.
Tom dumped the water down the drain, flipping the bowl for drying before he used the towel to scrub his hair dry. It stuck up in weird clumps; the white towel was grey from oils. It overall was...odd.
Tom stepped away, lifting the hem of his shirt to wipe against the sharp cut of his jaw. It was dirtier than the towel, but looked like a mindless habit. Harry spotted dark purples and red, sick yellows like pus sprinkled over a sunken bony-.
“You done?” Tom Riddle spoke, voice hoarse and raspy. It wasn’t at all the smooth baritone that Harry remembered from the chamber. It sounded...rattly.
“Er, yes I ah, I-...” Harry scrambled over an excuse, unable to think, “ah…”
“You also repeated cockney earlier,” Tom echoed flatly, “not very bright, are you?”
Harry flushed, feeling the heat burn in his face. Tom ignored him, using fingers to comb through his wet black hair.
“You caught me off guard.” Harry finally managed to explain, Tom ignored him and skirted out of the kitchen and back to the table, taking a seat in the chair from earlier. He looked better, cleaner although not pristine. His face wasn’t coated in dirt, but the waxy yellowish tinge was still there.
Moody grunted once from the other chair, having been waiting.
“Alright,” Tom spoke first, taking control of the conversation. “Perhaps an agreement would benefit us both. I only want my bag and I’ll get out of your hair.”
“Oh,” Harry blurted in cold realization. “Oh you don’t know.”
“Quiet, Harry.” Moody interrupted with a low voice, squinting both his eyes across the table at Tom. “What year is it?”
Tom looked on guard, cautious and perplexed by the questions. He smiled, all soft gentle movements that hid the jaded ends of his barbed words. “How unfortunate, you must be confused.”
“Answer the question, Riddle, was it?” Moody glanced at Harry who nodded mutely.
Tom’s face flickered ever so slightly, eyes observing Harry for the first time the entire morning.
“I see,” Tom stated flatly, all pleasantries gone, “You appear to know my name yet I am unfamiliar with my captors.”
Moody reclined in his chair, his prosthetic scratched over the floor. “What year is it, Riddle.”
It wasn’t phrased like a question, maybe that was why Tom finally answered.
“September.” Tom clipped out coldly. “1942. You know this.”’
Harry inhaled so sharply he choked on his spit. He hurriedly turned away, hacking and wheezing as he nearly asphyxiated on his own saliva.
“Yeah,” Moody grimaced with a slight disgruntled noise hidden in his tone, “that’s a problem.”
Tom’s eyes flickered back and forth again, face carefully blank. “What year is it.”
Moody almost grinned. “You’re in for a big surprise. Harry, let Mrs. Weasley know her dining room is off limits for the day. Send a message to Headquarters, tell Nymphadora that I am having a broom malfunction.”
Harry almost laughed at the strange phrase, “I didn’t know you enjoyed flying, sir.”
Moody didn’t take his eyes away from the challenging stare Tom directed at him. “I don’t. It’s a code I use for when things have gone horribly wrong.”
Tom almost smiled.
“You understand the situation.” Moody finished with a blunt nod, sliding a sheaf of paper across the table.
Tom mechanically picked the paper up, not glancing at the written contents once. Tom blinked slowly, purposefully, before he started to speak.
“You say that I am in the future, although you refuse to disclose any factual evidence or information regarding how far.” Tom started accusatory. “You also state you used a form of ritual, however in my knowledge all rituals with direct affect on individuals are banned by Ministry use. You have kidnapped me, which is a...hefty criminal violation. You state that I will follow your direction based on... not providing proper evidence for your claims?”
“Well,” Moody grumbled with a small huff, “if you want to play entitled, then fine. Do you realize that since you aren’t supposed to exist, you don’t have any rights?”
“Philosophy, is an interest of mine.” Tom began sharply. “Your mistaken perceptions of legalities are not dismissable over the treatment I am receiving currently.”
“Big words for a brat screaming cockney when you weren’t off your arse yet.”
“How fortunate for you, that I had not anticipated being victim of illegal ritual magic.”
Moody huffed a little and scratched his face. “You’re a cocky one, aren’t ya?”
Tom didn’t say anything in response.
The door opened with a bang. Someone fell inside, clumsily catching themselves on the edge of the table before missing and dropping further. A yelp, a flash of purple, and then a woman was poking her head up over the edge.
“Hi!” She cheered happily, hair changing into a vibrant blue before their eyes, “My name is Tonks! Oh wow, where you find this one, Moody?’
Tom bristled, eyes flickering over her colourful hair.
“A metamorphmagus.” Tom spoke, voice a low purr that had rumbles and hitches throughout. He sounded like an alley cat. “A pleasure, I’ve never been permitted such company prior.”
Tonks’ eyebrows rose and her mouth dropped into a little ‘o’ in realization. Moody huffed quietly.
“Auror Tonks,” Moody waved towards another unoccupied seat, “we’re got a temporal disturbance. Department of Mysteries wet dream right here.”
Tom’s eyebrows twitched slightly, Tonks flung herself in the unoccupied chair.
“Wotcher!” She beamed excitedly, “a temporal disturbance! How exciting, when are you from?”
“1942,” Moody grunted, tapping the table top twice, “September. Not only a yearly displacement, but the entire summer.”
“Well that’s unusual.” Tonks confessed with a wide stare and a few quick blinks, “but time travelers are all unusual. You look horrible! Well, I mean you likely look great but right now you’re looking a bit peckish.”
Tom blinked slowly, and folded his calf on his leg again. “I request a representative from the Ministry for all further discussions.”
Tonks’ expression fell. She looked at Moody, who had an equally faltering face.
“Oh, so I was right then.” Tom continued without taking a breath. “Perhaps you are aurors, perhaps not. You’re running from an independent affiliation, which somehow accidentally targeted me. Runic magic is not permitted, yet you were experienced with the runic layout I saw before you dragged me here. I wonder, if I were to activate the trace, how quickly would Ministry officials investigate and find your little experiment?”
Moody slammed one hand on the table. Nobody jumped.
“You know damn well trace magic was removed over ages of 11 in the 40’s.” Moody growled out coldly. “Your threat may work for anyone who doesn’t know ministry operations, but you’re a goddamn brat in our experience.”’
Tom’s eyes flickered down to the table, where parts of Moody’s fingers had been blown off over the year. “Ah yes. An expert I see.”
Tonks choked audible and flushed so hard her hair turned red.
“Cheeky.” Moody grumbled low, looking more aggravated by the second.
“So,” Tonks recovered although her voice hitched slightly, “I’ve got...some, questions ya’ know just to-.”
“Full name?” Moody practically shouted.
Tom’s lower lip curled slightly. “Tom. Riddle.”
They already knew that, but it looked like Tom was going to cooperate since they were at a stalemate.
“Thank you Tom!” Tonks chirped out, fumbling with the sheet of paper Moody slid to her. She pulled her wand, twisting it to conjure a quill. Her tongue poked out the corner of her mouth as she hastily scribbled down his name. “How old are ya?”
Tom folded his fingers carefully together, face blank. “Fifteen years old.”
“Right around our problem trio’s age.” Tonks hummed to herself, writing that down too, “birthday? And year?
Tom’s face finally wrinkled slightly in distaste. “December 31st. 1927.”
Moody’s face didn’t change, but Tonks made a small noise of interest. She grinned excitedly, her hair flickering ever so slightly as her joy became visible.
“Wow!” She chattered like a small animal, scribbling something on her paper. “I mean, I knew it was real since Moody here wouldn’t make this up, but its so wild! Do you want something to eat? I can get you a drink!”
Tom’s face was flat, he didn’t look nearly as amused as Tonks was.
“Have you been treated okay?” Tonks asked with a small tilt to her head, “Mrs. Weasley can grab you a blanket if you’re cold!”
Tom’s lower lip curled downwards ever so slightly. “This is pathetic.”
Tonks made a small pshh noise and flipped her hand dismissively. “After this would you like a shower? You’re looking a bit mangled, what happened to look like that?”
Tom shifted in his chair ever so slightly, his face just as neutral as before.
“You okay, mate?” Tonks asked worriedly, her eyebrows furrowing in alarm.
“...You’re asking me closed questions, not relevant to the topic at hand. You will not answer any of my questions, lest you shift the control of this interrogation into my hands. You’re aiming to deliberately trick me into believing i’m not in any trouble.” Tom spoke flat, eyes flickering to Tonks bluntly. “This is standard interrogation practice.”
Moody huffed once again, then shifted his weight. His chair slid against the floor ever so slightly.
“Wow, you are bloody brilliant.” Tonks recovered with a small degree of awe, “I heard that I was supposed to be careful, but that's wicked. How did you ever learn this crummy stuff?”
Tonks made a small scoffing noise. He crossed his arms, tone as offended as he looked. “Free narrative questions now. Are you going to deviate from the textbook and give me a challenge or are you planning to go through your little checklist?”
Tonks blinked three times in rapid succession.
“When you were summoned here, did you notice anything odd before?” Moody grumbled sourly.
Tom smiled, his teeth were briefly exposed. “Direct questions now. Did you abandon your free narrative inquiry so soon? My, and I thought you were experienced.”
“I’ve interrogated enough brats to know when you’re not going to get anywhere,” Moody rumbled low in his throat like a large dog. “I’ve interrogated more psychopaths and murderers than you’ll ever know, boy. This is outright ignorance at its finest.”
Tom’s eyes were perceptively sharp. “Is that so? When I arrived here, where were you in direction to myself? You were close, startlingly so. You admitted to the illegal ritual which although you performed supposedly successful, you are not distressed or worried at all. Your interrogation techniques are standard but you’ve not acknowledged proper auror regulation for investigations or witnesses. I believe I’ve summarized our situation clearly, although you could certainly add to it. I’m so terribly sorry if I’ve overwhelmed you, would you like me to repeat myself at a slower speed? You do know how an investigation works, I believe?”
Moody’s face darkened in restrained rage. Tonks gaped in confusion.
Tom’s grin spread a hair’s length further. “Closed questions, free narrative questions, direct and cross-questioning. Very standard. Is there anything else that you can tell me about this?”
Tonks flushed in embarrassment as she recognized the last question, as a review question; the final standard tool for investigative interrogations.
Moody made a low crackling noise in his throat that may have been his sanity slowly draining from his missing eye socket.
“Oh dear,” Tom spoke in a mockery of anything polite. “That sounds quite ill. I have it on good assurance that Mrs. Weasley would love to provide you a drink. Isn’t that right?”
His eyes slid ever so slowly to Tonks, who recovered from her flush into something a shade more pale.
Moody’s cheek twitches. “I have half a mind to curse you, brat. But that duper’s delight will kick you enough.”
Tom’s fake pleasant smile didn’t shift. “How petty to accuse me of ever finding pleasure in deceiving others. Why, that’s such a cruel accusation. Truly, piercing.”
Tonks looked over at Moody, her discomfort nearly screaming. Her entire body posture hunkered inwards on herself, her face timid and uncertain. “Moody? Should I...ah, contact…”
Moody grimaced, even he looked unsure. “We’re saving the veritasium for more high profile suspects. I don’t want to waste it.”
Tom twitched, face blank. It was impossible to tell if the thought of the truth serum was actually that horrific, or if he took even more offense to not being a high profile suspect.
Moody sighed through his nose, the noise was broken slightly into a low whistle from the air escaping the bits of cartilage that never healed properly. “Listen, Riddle. Your situation is very delicate and you had best cooperate. We can make this very easy, or make this very difficult. Either way, you have nothing to gain and everything to lose.”
Tom Riddle sighed slightly, “I thought we were past stating obvious information, auror.”
Tonks’s hand twitched in a very clear sign of restraint.
“Then we do this how you want to,” Moody settled bluntly, “quid pro quo.”
For the first time, Tom’s eyes flared with a spark of interest.
“Quid pro quo,” he played with the words, rolling them with a strange sort of fluidity to the words. “ Do ut des. ' I give, so that you may give.’ Fascinating concept, a naked contract.”
Moody didn’t raise to the bait. “You know Latin.”
Tom resist the urge to roll his eyes. “Naked contract, nudum pactum. Context is popular in all areas, auror. Foresake the devil and all his works , along those lines.”
Tonks very carefully made sure that her confusion was not visible. Moody seemed to understand, he nodded ever so slowly and laid his hands flat on the table. The gnarled joints and slightly misaligned bones as that much more apparent. Tom eyed his hands in boredom, following suit although with a lazy curve to his wrist. Somehow, the sight of the gesture made Tonks’ skin crawl.
Moody started, asking very bluntly: What were you doing before you were summoned.
Tom smiled like he had won something highly sought. In London.
Tom spoke smoothly like the velvet feel of a flower petal: where am I.
Moody told him, and they talked.
They talked, answering and asking in turn. Tonks nearly bristled as the topics started to delve into more uncertain areas; where precisely they were located currently. Which family Moody and Tonks came from. Who the boy was that was in the room earlier. Who knew that Tom was here.
“Alright,” Tonks interrupted after Tom’s smooth words manage to unnerve even Moody. “You’ve asked enough. What are your intentions towards others?”
Tom’s eyebrows rose in surprise. Amusement masked behind a dull face. He was nearly gleeful in her hasty interruption. “ My intentions? Oh dear, you make it seem as if I’m courting.”
Tonks twitched, she hadn’t ever wanted to punch a suspect so hard in her life.
“I can see why you’re so hesitant,” Tom spoke calmly. “I understand that my conversation is generally so enthralling.”
Tonks’ heart beat quickly. She knew he couldn’t hear it.
“I imagine how wretched it would be to ever be handcuffed to myself.” His eyes were far too vibrant with amusement. “Oh dear, you look so bluenose to be upstaged.”
It took Tonks a split second to recognize that he had incorporated slang that was heavily out of date. A sentence in common English that seemed peculiar, but had an entire double meaning she had no context to understand.
“Wow,” She stated bluntly without even pretending to keep her composure. “You’re a bloody arse.”
Tom’s eyes flickered in delight having won the interrogation. “A phrase I’ve heard commonly heard directed at me after my discussions is vade retro satana. Perhaps in a few months, you’ll have a rudimentary understanding to appropriately use it.”
Aurors were required to know introductory Latin for work; it had been that way for centuries.
Tonks tilted her head, and seriously contemplated smashing Tom Riddle’s teeth out.
Harry wasn’t entirely sure what was going on, but from the muffled noises coming through the silencing ward it wasn’t anything good.
The door was closed shut but there wasn’t a standard privacy ward up, otherwise he would have heard nothing. It seemed like a good idea, if there were any shouts of alarm he’d be able to hear it.
Tonks had slipped inside not that long ago, sending him a single wink before she went in to face the lion. So far, it didn’t sound like they’d made any leeway.
Harry glanced towards the stairs as Hermione descended sleepily, yawning widely. She jolted in surprise at seeing him up so early, it was still well before breakfast.
“Harry!” She startled with a small smile, “you’re up early today!”
Harry sheepishly ran one hand through the disaster of his hair. “Yeah, I was helping Moody with something. It didn’t...work out right.”
Hermione blinked a few times in surprise, “didn’t work out? Are you hurt? What happened?”
Harry wasn’t sure how to breach the subject of Lord Voldemort having dirtied a dish towel from dirt on his now existing nose, so he simply shrugged again.
Hermione poked her head around, seeing the closed doors that artificially were muffled. Her eyebrows furrowed in confusion.
“Yeah that's, ah…” Harry trailed off badly, “that’s the bit that didn’t work out right. Moody’s fine though!”
Hermione nodded slowly, then turned and walked into the kitchen to help Mrs. Weasley with breakfast. Harry let out an internal sigh of relief.
The rest of the house started to wake up, but still Moody and Tonks didn’t come out of the room. The conversation went on longer, then Fred and George were popping around stealing bits of toast and loudly arguing about the prophets report. Ron stumbled down later, foggy eyed and exhausted.
“Hey mate,” Ron yawned loudly, “didn’t hear you get up.”
Harry grimaced and nodded slowly, “ah yeah, I was helping Moody with something.”
Ron grunted once then stumbled off for morning juice.
Everything about it was odd, he didn’t understand it at all. Why was Tom Riddle here now? Why did he suddenly appear in a ritual to summon an alternate version of Moody? What happened to Voldemort if Tom Riddle was here?
How old was he? Had he-. Had he opened the chamber yet?
The door opened ever so slightly, Tonks poked her head out- her hair a soft shade of blue. Her face lit up happily, although the small crinkle on the corner of her eye suggested she was thoroughly ticked by something. “Wotcher Harry! Could you go get a change of clothes? Reckon you're pretty close!”
“Er, sure.” Harry fumbled; Tom Riddle had seemed pretty thin when Harry saw him last. Maybe they were close in size, although the Tom he knew from the diary had been much taller. Maybe a delayed growth spurt?
Harry hurried up to Ron’s room, searching through his bag for a spare change of clothing. Nothing too bright or bold, although Harry was half tempted to drag out his Gryffindor shirt in loud red and gold. He settled for something he didn’t wear much, a dark navy and a pair of trousers that were the longest pair. He was going to see if Mrs. Weasley could hem them for him, but the length should be fine. He swiped a clean pair of other necessities, one of the small traveling sprays that magically cleaned hair. It wasn’t too ruddy for smell after a Quidditch practice either. Oliver Wood had sworn by them, and honestly during exam season they were miracles to have around.
Harry hurried back downstairs, careful not to drop any of the clothing he hoarded. Tonks lit up the moment she spotted him, moving from her reclined posture against the door. Harry wondered if her acting like a bodyguard was intentional, or truly coincidence.
“Thanks mate!” Tonks grinned, meaning in for a whisper, “think you’re up to saying hi? He’s bloody off his rocker.”
Harry blinked twice and quickly recovered, “really? I thought he would be...er...intellectual.”
“More like an ass of the finest caliber.” Tonks pouted, rolling her eyes and gesturing him to slide in the door. She closed it quickly after him, protecting his back.
Oh, it was strange.
He could see Tom Riddle from the diary in his face, in the sharp shape of his cheekbones and the point of his chin. The cold way his eyes took him in, systematically scanning over his face and body until they flickered away uninterested.
“Alright,” Moody grumbled, looking like a giant in Mrs. Weasley's small dining room chairs, “We’ve got clothes that should fit. We got through your bag, you change into new things, then we’ll let you loose.”
Tom Riddle blinked slowly, like Crookshanks when waiting for dinner. “How thoughtful.”
Harry twitched at the voice, not the smooth baritone he remembered. It was higher in pitch, hoarse and crackled although it was fairly well disguised. In fact, Tom Riddle that Harry remembered looked very different.
Moody didn’t appreciate the dry commentary, but he pulled out the bag that Tom had arrived with, and set it on the table between them. Tom made no movement forward.
Harry was suddenly very aware that Tonks was boxing off the only exit in the room.
“I’m going to pull out every single thing in this bag, and then I’m going to cast diagnostics.” Moody rumbled low in his throat, “once I have confiscated anything I think dangerous, you’ll strip and we’ll repeat. I take anything I find suspicious.”
Tom tilted his head ever so slightly to the side, “I’m waiting.”
Harry shivered and sat down in the seat provided, trying not to make too big a noise.
He was sitting across from Lord Voldemort, some of the traits already were agonizingly similar. The long shape of his fingers, the way he tilted his head ever so slightly and kept nearly a smirk on his face. It was terrifying, even with two aurors in the room with him.
“Alright.” Moody began lowly, folding his hands in front of him. “Where did you get this bag.”
Tom’s face didn’t change at all. “Would you believe me if I said I found it?”
“You don’t find bags like that.” Tonks huffed from the door in a sour voice, “you stole it from someone.”
Tom made a small cut off exhale of amusement. “I am certain, that the previous owner is not searching for it.”
The tone of voice, the suggestion; Harry shivered and averted his eyes.
Moody pulled out his wand, an old chipped thing, and tapped the bag once. Obediently, the bag unzipped itself.
“Now,” Moody grumbled, muttering quietly as he removed something from his pocket. It restored itself to proper size- revealing itself as the knife that Tom had arrived with. The look of the thing made Harry unsettled, or maybe it was the dark stains near the handle.
“Where did you get this?” Moody asked.
Tom smiled, “the same place I found my bag.”
Tonks huffed ever so quietly.
“...Alright.” Moody accepted, then he began to flick his wand with small incantations to summon all possessions out of the bag.
Harry was increasingly amazed as more and more things seemed to fly out of the small pouch. The small canvas of the bag looked normal, then cans and tins started stacking themselves neatly. Empty wrappers, papers and fliers that unwrinkled themselves and folded out neatly into a little stack on the side. Other small bits and ends started flying out of the bag magically; bits of mangled wire and brass. Small pins that were too tarnished to read. Bits of scrap cloth and hardened cotton- stained with thick blood that had dried on it. Makeshift bandages, long threads attached to shiny needles that looked a bit soot stained on the end.
The oddities gathered. Empty water bags that were flaccid like leather. More knives, some of them as long as Harry’s hand. Grimy glass bottles with screw tops, little tickets with inked print that bled on the corners.
Moody jerked his wand and growled, using a different incantation. From inside the bag, something very recognizable shot out. Moody caught it magically, placing it on the table between them like it was a live bomb.
Tom Riddle’s wand was pale, lighter than normal wands. Nearly white actually, like the skin on birch trees. Longer than Harry’s, almost proportional to Tom Riddle’s long fingers. Moody set it on the table between them- Harry would never forget the sight of that wand in his life.
‘I want to see your face when I kill you.’
Harry twitched, knowing he was making a small noise as his eyes locked to the innocent weapon. Tonks took a few steps closer, her presence a comforting warmth behind him.
“Interesting looking wand.” Moody growled flatly, bulging eye rolling around strangely. “Who you kill to make it?”
Tom huffed, a small noise that sounded so odd coming from him. “You and I both know creating wands is a near impossible task without years of training. Bone isn’t a conduit, auror.”
“Yew, right?” Harry blurted, unable to shake the coldness that gripped him so tightly. “And Phoenix feather.”
Tom’s eyes slid to him, locking on him firmly. Harry tensed his body, careful to keep from trembling.
“...Correct,” Tom spoke, voice softer than before. He tilted his head, like a raven eyeing the roadkill in front of it, “curious how you know such a thing.”
“Doesn’t matter.” Moody forcefully directed the topic back to the assortment of objects on the table. “I want to know when and where you got these things from, and why.”
“Wait!” Tonks blurted, leaning over Harry so close her side brushed his shoulder, “Is that a rubber?”
Harry choked, and much to his horror Tonks flipped her wand with a simple levitating charm and sent a few small packets floating from the table.
Moody didn’t think it was odd, but Harry could feel him blushing all the way to his ears.
Tom didn’t seem scandalized at all, in fact he looked bored with a highly uncomfortable object floating directly in front of his face.
“You’re a bit young.” Moody stated bluntly.
Tom’s mouth twitched ever so slowly. “They’re given to everyone, auror. You know as well as I that they’re used for more than original purpose.”
Moody gave a small nod of admittance, completely ignoring the single thing which made Harry want to run from the room more than Voldemort in the flesh.
The condoms (Harry still was stuttering over the idea of them) were pushed to the side, as well as the tins of food once Tonks ran some diagnostics. From there on, Moody would levitate a single object for Tom to explain, and then move to the pile of sorted objects. Metal from a destroyed building, wiring from a smashed lamp post. Cloth from clothes, dirtied bandages he hadn’t time to clean yet.
The biggest object that made Harry pale, was a single unassuming diary.
Leather, soft and scarred around the corners. Held shut by a loose cloth ribbon securing it shut. The last time Harry had seen that diary, he had heard Tom Riddle screaming and the warm gush of inky blood over his skin.
Tonks picked up on his distress and silently plucked the book, starting to unravel the cloth knot.
Tom made the smallest noise, a small sound of protest that died a second after he started.
Tonks hands kept moving, although her body tensed much further.
“What’s in it, eh?” Moody asked suspiciously.
Tom’s face looked the same, except something darker with a low seething edge was starting to be apparent. “I would prefer the contents to remain undisclosed.”
Tonks flipped the cover carefully, her eyes scanning the name written at the top, then she started to flip through the pages.
They were written in, thick ink in small script that filled both the front and back of each page. A sea of ink on the sparse expanses of white parchment. Every page, covered again and again. Tonks eyes flickered back and forth, darting from one random page to the next. Tom Riddle tensed, hunkering down ever so slightly as he stared at her unrelentingly.
Tonks hesitated at one part, finger hovering over the lettering.
“What is it?” Moody asked.
“...Nothing of concern, sir.” Tonks reported back. “It appears to be a historical war diary, personal data not private data or information of concerning content. I suggest we continue with the clothing check.”
Moody frowned, visibly annoyed hat whatever was in the book provided no harm. Tonks set it on the table, staring at the cracked leather cover for a moment before she slid it towards Tom.
Tom reached for it, slowly pulling it closer to his side. It seemed odd, that with a choice between his wand or a diary he would choose the latter.
“Harry?” Tonks prompted, startling the boy into sliding the procured clothing across the table.
“You’re to strip,” Moody began with a low rumble, jerking his chin at the clothing, “we’ve offered this which should work out fine. I’ll go through that book of yours more in depth and if there’s nothing in it that's of concern, then you can have it back. Your wand will be confiscated until a time we change our mind over it. Once you're dressed, we’re having breakfast with the rest of the house.”
Tom’s fingers tapped on the cover of his book. “A reasonable plan. Allow me a moment.”
Tom stood slowly, making his movements clear. He had no embarrassed stutter or waiver of his hand; he seemed confident or uncaring over modesty. He stripped off the outer shirt, disregarding it in a neat folded pile on the desk.
Tonks whistled, pointing her arm suddenly. “Right arm, bicep. You’ve got a rune of some sort.”
Harry couldn’t even see it, but when Tom reached over and unfastened something it flickered into sight. It looked grimy and old, something sewn into a grey stained bandage tied tightly around the diameter. Small designs or vigils or shapes were very faintly imprinted on, although staring too long made Harry’s head ache.
“Well, I’ll be damned.” Moody huffed, squinting at the nondescript magic once Tom placed it on the table. “That’s what, an avoidance rune and an awareness one? Trying to stay out of sight? Made with blood, my, that’s rather dark in nature isn’t it?”
Tom didn’t look intimidated or impressed. “Apologies, I simply hadn’t the time to skip to my nearest post shop and request ink, auror. With the bombs dropping.”
Moody didn’t seem too upset, but Harry felt his gut twist oddly.
Tom continued stripping, both Tonks and Harry looking away to keep the act private. Moody didn’t bother, although something clearly made the older wizard wheeze out a startled breath. When Tonks and Harry looked back, Tom was rolling the too wide waistband of Harry’s pants tighter, using one of the long ropes from his bag (after asking permission in the most disrespectful manner) in a makeshift belt. Harry wasn’t a big person by any means, but his clothing on Tom both dwarfed the thin flesh on his arms and thighs, while hanging inches too short on his ankles and wrists.
“Is this satisfactory?” Tom asked in the most condescendingly polite way.
Moody’s face barely twitched. “You’ve played this well brat, but you’ve overlooked something important. You think you have an upper hand and you haven’t realized you’re here under our mercy.”
Tom’s smile slipped into something irritated. “Oh? Enlighten me how your disregard for basic humanitarian measures is considered mercy? You’ve been especially rude, it would be a shame if the authorities were informed.’
Moody stood, his chair scraping loudly. He smiled, a wide grinned toothy expression that made Harry instantly take a step out of his way.
“Bold!” Moody commended, “but you’ve been thinking this wrong. You’re bloody intelligent, I’ll give you that. The thing is, Riddle.” Moody sounded nearly ready to laugh.
He walked to the main door throwing the doors open to snap the ward around them. Tom was watching him with a small expression of growing paranoia and outright frustration. He didn’t take well to the blatant insult that he had done something wrong.
“You see,” Moody began, the toothy smirk unrelenting. “You may be in the future, but you're not the first bloody one here.”
Tom’s eyes twitched, moving subconsciously as he frantically thought through all the possible things he could have done wrong. He had been so sure…
“Hello?” Someone piped up curiously, poking around the door-frame to peep in. “mum said break’ is ready if you wanted to-.”
Harry’s heart fell and shattered in icy cold realization. Ginny Weasley paled, curdling like spoiled milk. Tom stared at her blankly, not understanding.
“Welcome to the future you backstabbing murdering bastard.” Moody laughed.
Ginny Weasley blinked rapidly, swayed slightly, and began to scream.