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Harry Potter and the Dangers of Horcruxes

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As Harry dropped the Half-Blood Prince’s book, he felt something tugging at his mind. It was similar to the occlumency attacks from Snape last year, but not quite the same. Harry tried to resist, but the tug became more insistent. Harry fought as hard as he could, but it was no use. Against his own internally screaming self’s will, Harry’s hand reached forward. It grabbed a dusty crown off of a bust and Harry felt a rush of magic at the contact. It became even harder to resist, and now both of his hands clutched the crown, lifting it up and putting it on his head.

There was a flash of light, and Harry’s world went black.

oOo

Harry woke up, groggy, and recognized the Hogwarts hospital wing. It smelled the same as always, and he didn’t have to open his eyes to know that the sun was streaming brightly through the windows. Harry groaned, though he knew Hermione would chide him for it. She always thought he should be more grateful to wake up in the hospital wing, instead of dying in a corridor or something.

Surprisingly, there was no tsk forthcoming, and Harry wondered if it was still class time. Hermione usually did her homework by his side when he was in the hospital wing, but of course nothing would keep her from classes. Harry finally, tentatively, opened his eyes.

“Ah, you’re awake!” Madam Pomfrey said, bustling over. She looked a little different, but Harry couldn’t quite place why. “And can you tell me your name dear?”

“Harry Potter,” Harry answered the routine question. He hadn’t hit his head, had he? She usually only asked his name when he hit his head.

She nodded. “Thank you! I’ll go let the Headmaster know.” With that, she was gone again.

Harry frowned. Why would she need to tell the Headmaster his name? For that matter, why hadn’t she given him some potion? Harry never woke up here without needing some kind of potion. It suddenly occurred to Harry that he couldn’t remember why he had woken up in the hospital wing.

The last thing he could recall was fighting with Hermione about… something. Maybe that was why she wasn’t here? But Harry couldn’t actually recall what had happened after that. Had Malfoy attacked him in the corridor? It couldn’t have been a quidditch injury, or he’d be in his uniform, instead of his school robes.

Before Harry could further ponder his past, the Headmaster swept into the infirmary. He looked the same as usual, with the exception of his shockingly neon yellow robe; Harry couldn’t quite recall seeing that particular one before.

“Ah, Harry, my boy!” the Headmaster said. He waved his wand around Harry’s bed, and suddenly the sound of potion vials clinking from Madam Pomfrey’s direction was silenced.

“Headmaster?” Harry questioned.

“So you do know me?” The Headmaster replied. “That will make this easier.”

“Of course I know you, Sir. I knew my name too. Did I hit my head? I don’t remember it. Was it Malfoy?”

“Slow down, my boy,” Dumbledore held up his hand. “I see that Madam Pomfrey didn’t explain your situation. I shall endeavor to do so. You, my boy, are under the mistaken impression that I know you. That fact, combined with your robes, tells me that you are a Hogwarts student. However, the fact that I do not know you, means that you are likely from a different - dare I say future - year than this one.”

Harry gaped at Dumbledore. He had suspected this school year that the man might be off his rocker, what with his refusal to hear a bad word about Malfoy, and with whatever had happened to his hand… his hand was perfectly fine. Harry was staring at it and it was no longer blackened and shriveled.

“You see, my boy, the current year is 1975.”

Harry continued to stare dumbly at the Headmaster.

“Yes, well, I expect that will take a little getting used to. What year were you in?”

“1996,” Harry managed to say. Finally his brain clicked into gear. And with his brain, came Harry’s anger. “Are you telling me that someone did something to me and sent me into the past?” he shouted. “Are you kidding me? This is just great! This is just typical! And you! You probably could have stopped it, or something, but you didn’t because it was all for the greater good or some rot! You probably knew it was going to happen, and you let it, because somehow it fit into your greater plan! So much for how I was feeling! So much for my friends! So much for my date! So much for caring at all how I felt!”

Harry saw Dumbledore’s serene smile and got even angrier. “I suppose this is all part of your plan somehow? Give me more time to train and fight Riddle? At least that finally makes sense! Why couldn’t you have done this last year, though, so I could have trained before the Department of Mysteries? Sirius would still be alive if you’d done this earlier!”

The beds around Harry had started to shake, but he didn’t care.

“Why should I go along with this this time, huh? Why shouldn’t I just tell you to screw yourself and leave? I could go to the Ministry! I should! They have time turners. I’m sure they could get me back. Hermione might even be talking to them now! She’ll get me back!”

Harry’s thoughts were more jumbled than usual, but Dumbledore’s serene expression just continued to fuel his rage. The shaking beds suddenly flung themselves away from Harry. Though he couldn’t hear them due to Dumbledore’s silencing spell, Harry knew they must have landed with a loud clatter, because he saw Madam Pomfrey jump. And that was another thing! Dumbledore must have known that Harry would get upset, because he had cast that silencing ward! This was just like the time he had whisked Harry back to his office after the Ministry and just sat there while Harry raged on.

His stupid, all-knowing smile was taunting Harry, and he couldn’t stand it any longer. Harry lunged for the Headmaster.

oOo

When Harry woke again, he was feeling the artificial, floating feeling he associated with heavy duty calming potions. He knew that he should be upset at something, but it was like grasping for a fish in the Black Lake, constantly slipping through his fingers. Harry knew he was in the hospital wing, as he could never forget that ceiling, but the rest escaped him.

“Are you back with us, my boy?” Dumbledore asked.

Harry turned in the direction of the voice and found the Headmaster sitting there, looking worried. “Headmaster?” Harry asked.

“Harry, I believe that we have much to discuss, but first I must clarify some things. I had no idea that you were coming back in time. I do not know much of what you are talking about, as these are things that I assume happened in the future. However, I would like to point out that, since you are in the past, none of those things have happened. Your Sirius, your Hermione, all of them are still alive right now. If, of course, they have been born yet.”

Harry tucked that information away in his mind for when it made more sense.

“However,” the Headmaster continued, “you also mentioned fighting Tom Riddle, and that is something I want to discuss with you at length when you are ready. In the meantime, we need to make some decisions. Since you are from the future, obviously, you are a bit of an anomaly in this time. We cannot just tell people that you are a time traveller, so we shall need to come up with some story that sounds plausible. Now, I take it that you are related somehow to Charlus and Dorea Potter?”

Harry frowned. He didn’t know those names. But then, he didn’t know the names of any Potters except his parents. “James,” he managed to say.

“James Potter?” Dumbledore repeated.

“And Lily,” Harry nodded. “Lily Evans.”

“I see,” Dumbledore leaned back, his eyes twinkling madly. “I have to inform you, then, that James and Lily are currently students here. They are in their fifth year.”

Harry boggled at that. His parents were students? Then the bigger meaning hit him. His parents were alive!

“Yes, well,” Dumbledore’s voice was like ice water down Harry’s back. “I don’t think it would be prudent to mention your parentage to them just yet, as they are not yet, as you might say, an item. We wouldn’t want to do anything to jeopardize your own conception, would we?”

Harry definitely didn’t want to think of his own conception, but the rest made a fuzzy kind of sense. He wished he wasn’t on such a strong calming potion! It dimmed his rage, but it also dimmed everything else and made it feel like his brain was set in jelly.

“I’m afraid that we’ll need to come up with some cover story for you, young man, and a different name.” Dumbledore continued. “You certainly look like a Potter; that hair is a dead giveaway. Perhaps a change in color?”

Harry frowned. The idea was triggering something in his brain, but he couldn’t think of it. Some memory of his aunt with scissors… suddenly the headmaster gasped.

“I did not know you were a metamorphmagus, young man! That is quite the rare talent! Well, that will certainly make things much easier.

Some of the confusion Harry felt must have shown on his face, because Dumbledore conjured a mirror. Harry saw himself lying on a familiar hospital bed. His face was the same as usual, though there was something on his forehead… and his hair was bright purple! Harry blinked, straining to see the mirror better, when he suddenly realized that he was not wearing his glasses.

With a thought, the mirror suddenly jumped closer to Harry, and he was able to see his face far more clearly. His glasses were indeed gone, and he didn’t appear to need them! His eyes looked the same as always, the green that everyone told him was his mother’s. His scar had moved, however. The lightning bolt that had been closer to his temple was now dead center, and outlined by another set of scars in the shape of a crown. Harry ran his fingers over the new scars, trying to figure out where they came from.

“As I was saying,” Dumbledore said quite loudly, and Harry got the impression it was not the first time he had said it. “I am not sure that purple is the best choice, but that is up to you. As long as you do not have black hair, you look suitably different from James that we can say you are simply a cousin, rather than an obviously close relative.”

Harry nodded mutely. He had dozens of questions, he was sure. They were floating all around the outside of his brain, unable to get through the jelly-fog of the calming potion.

“Now, so that you will not be too far behind in your classes, I suggest that we get you sorted tonight at dinner, and then you can resume classes on Monday.”

Sorted… sorted… Harry caught sight of the red tie around his throat in the mirror and tugged at it.

Thankfully, Dumbledore interpreted his motion correctly. “Yes, but we are telling everyone that you are new to Hogwarts, which means you will need to be sorted. New students don’t just pop out of nowhere, already sorted. Well, they do,” Dumbledore chuckled, “but we can’t tell everyone that, now can we?”

Harry frowned again, but Dumbledore just patted his foot in a maddeningly calm way. “Now, I shall leave you to your thoughts.”

oOo

“Pomfrey, Harry”

Harry was still feeling disgruntled, though no longer like his brain was embalmed in jelly, as he took his place on the stool and allowed the Sorting Hat to be slipped down over his eyes.

Ah, Mister Potter, the Hat said.

I take it our cover story didn’t fool you? Harry asked. Dumbledore had decided that Harry’s cover would be that he was the nephew of a faculty member, orphaned and sent to live with his relative at Hogwarts. Given his very limited options, Harry had chosen Pomfrey, as it was the closest sounding to Potter, and he was less likely to mess up that way. Though he had been in sixth year, they had also decided to place him into fifth year, so that he would have OWL scores in this timeline. Dumbledore had also cast a complex glamour over Harry’s expanded scars, but his hair was still obstinately purple. At least he no longer needed his glasses!

The Hat chuckled. I see Albus is being his usual, annoying self.

Yes, Harry growled. Did he tell you you have to Sort me again?

No, just that there was a new student to Sort. He has not yet fully grasped your situation. the Hat declared.

And you have? Harry didn’t bother to mask the snark in his mental tone.

I am more than just a simple hat, Mister Potter, the Hat snarked right back. I also have the answers you seek.

Sorry. Harry felt a soothing presence attempting to dig deeper into his mind and resisted the urge to shove it out.

With a delicate touch, the Hat teased forth Harry’s memories from the last afternoon in his own time. Harry watched himself as he hid the book, and then as the compulsion forced him to put on the crown.

Diadem the Hat corrected.

Diadem Harry agreed. He saw himself place the diadem on his forehead, and saw the flash of light it emitted before merging into his skin. When the light faded, Harry was left with his new, unusual scar as he toppled onto the floor and the memory ended. So what was that about? Harry asked the Hat.

That was the diadem of Ravenclaw, the Hat explained. Unfortunately it, like you, had been tainted by the soul of Tom Riddle. Harry felt like retching, but refrained. The diadem has unlocked your full potential, which had been bound by the presence of Riddle’s soul. Your newfound metamorphmagus ability is one such result. The breaking of your power binding is another. The diadem has also granted you the wisdom of Ravenclaw, as it was originally intended to do.

Let me see if I’ve got this straight, Harry said. His Sorting was probably taking forever, but he didn’t care. For once, someone in the Magical world was actually giving him all of the information that he needed! The diadem made me smart. I was already powerful and a metamorph like Tonks, but someone had blocked those powers, and now they’re free? I’ve also got a piece of Tom Riddle’s soul inside of me? Oh, and I’m in the past. Is that the gist of it, yeah?

It would be slightly more accurate to say that you now have two pieces of Tom Riddle’s soul within you, though they are slowly merging together into one larger piece, the Hat clarified.

Harry again manfully resisted the urge to retch. Is there any way to get back to my own time?

Yes, but you won’t like it, the Hat answered, just as the answer - supplied by the diadem, Harry assumed - came to him.

By living out the years in between he sighed.

Indeed. However, you are overlooking something, the Hat chided.

Harry thought he had done a good job of summing up his situation, but then the diadem again supplied the answer. I know about the future!

You do, the Hat agreed. You can change the future, and prevent Tom Riddle from gaining as much power the first time around. You can also ensure that his first defeat at your hands is his last.

That’s right! In this time, he hadn’t just nearly killed Malfoy. In this time, Snape wasn’t about to ream him out for the book. In this time, Harry had all the time in the world to finish Dumbledore’s special project! Possibilities began to race through Harry’s mind, but the Hat interrupted. Plot later, Sorting now, it teased.

Who got us off topic in the first place? Harry snarked.

I’m going to enjoy your reaction to this, the Hat shot back.

Finally getting me into Slytherin?

You should be, just as I told you the last time, but this time something else is overruling me. Before Harry could ask, the Hat shouted, “RAVENCLAW!”

As a bemused Harry made his way towards the Eagles’ table, changing his hair color to blue and bronze as he did so, he realized that merging with the diadem of Rowena Ravenclaw herself probably meant that he kind of had to be in her House.

oOo

In need of supplies, Harry had snuck out after curfew and returned to the Room of Requirement and sorted through a few small piles. His accio spell was much more powerful than before, and he was able to come up with a sturdy multi-compartment trunk with a large ink stain on the top, a small library of books, and a good-sized pile of clothes he could transfigure to his tastes. Harry regretted that at the moment his invisibility cloak and the marauder’s map were in the hands of his father, but a quick accio had found him with his own invisibility cloak, so Harry wasn’t entirely bereft. He also had a good sized pile of coins and old jewelry that he could take to Gringotts and set up in an account.

Dumbledore had graciously given him a forty galleon allowance and permission to go to Hogsmeade for school robes this weekend. Since he was being allowed to go alone, Harry intended to floo to Diagon Alley and visit the bank. He also intended to do a little investing, both on the magical and muggle sides. Some companies he intended to invest in didn’t exist yet (but boy was he getting in on the ground floor of computers!) but some were primed to take off in the next few years.

Once, Harry might have felt some guilt about taking from the Room of Requirements, but between the diadem’s logic, Tom Riddle’s cunning, and Harry’s own frustration, he no longer cared. Plus, the Hat had kind of encouraged him to do whatever he wanted to do to take Riddle down, and fuck the timeline, so Harry was going with it. He planned to sort through the contents of the Room a bit at a time and sell off what he didn’t personally need. After all, Harry had a Dark Lord to kill, and that didn’t come cheap.

Gathering his spoils into his new trunk, Harry snuck back to Ravenclaw, resolving to have a conversation sometime soon with Professor Flitwick about how easy a riddle was to break, compared to a password, and went to bed.

oOo

The first day of classes, Harry had to pretend that he didn’t know his way around the castle. Since several classes weren’t where they had been during his own time, that wasn’t actually hard. Defense was on a completely different floor than he was used to, and he hadn’t taken Arithmancy or Ancient Runes before. However, Harry now knew quite a bit about both of those topics, thanks to the diadem, and they sounded so much better than divination. Harry was torn on care of magical creatures, but eventually decided to take it. He would miss Hagrid, but on the other hand he actually wanted to learn about the creatures that he was supposed to, instead of monstrosities like the blast-ended skrewt.

After breakfast, Harry saw his chance, and approached a group of students that he was quite certain held his mother. “Are you lot fifth years?” he asked hopefully.

The two Gryffindors (including the one he thought was Lily), one Hufflepuff, and two Slytherins, all turned to face him. Harry was surprised to realize that one of the Slytherins was Snape, while the second Gryffindor girl looked surprisingly like Neville.

“We are,” probable-Lily replied.

“Great! I’m Harry, which you probably knew from the Sorting,” Harry smiled as charmingly as he could. Young Tom was very good at being charming, and Harry found that rubbing off on himself a bit. “And I have no idea where anything is!” he concluded. “Can I possibly tag along with you lot?”

Snape shook his head, but the Hufflepuff boy replied first. “Of course! The classes are different depending on which House you’re in, though, but I’m sure between us you’ll find someone in each class. I’m Markus McKinnon, by the way. My sister Marlene’s a prefect in your House.”

Harry shook his hand, making a mental note to look out for Marlene. She had been in the Order, according to Moody, before Riddle killed her.

The Gryffindors were indeed Lily Evans as well as Alice Bell, who Harry guessed might have become Alice Longbottom and Neville’s mum. The Slytherins were Snape, of course, who actually greeted Harry politely, and Lucinda Parkinson, who Harry assumed was an aunt to Pansy.

It turned out that fifth year Ravenclaws had Defense with the Slytherins first thing Monday morning. So while Lily, Alice, and Markus headed out to the greenhouses, Harry followed Snape - whom Harry should probably get used to calling Severus, like a normal classmate - and Lucinda. Professor Whistletoft was quite put out to have a student starting mid-year, and insisted that Harry come to the front of the room and prove that he could keep up in the class.

Harry managed not to smirk as he perfectly performed every requested spell, but it was a close thing. When the put out professor finally suggested that Harry duel the current best student, to prove that he could actually perform the spells under pressure, Snape - Severus - was the one he called. The man was capable of teaching Defense, so Harry supposed he shouldn’t be surprised that young Snape was good at the class, but it was unexpected nonetheless.

Still, it had been a while since Harry had engaged in a friendly duel - since the DA last year, actually - and he intended to enjoy himself today, trusting that Snape - Severus! - couldn’t try to kill him in front of a professor. Of course, Harry had to remind himself, Snape didn’t know he was a Potter, and so didn’t hate him. He might not even want to kill Harry right now! Oddly pleased by that revelation, Harry was smiling as he bowed to his opponent.

“Expelliarmus!” Snape shouted first, but Harry’s “Protego” was only a syllable behind, and the disarming spell bounced away.

“Rictusempra!”

Harry ducked. “Expelliarmus! Stupefy!”

“Impedimenta!”

“Petrificus Totalus!”

After trading a few easy spells, probing at each other’s defenses, both boys began shifting to more dangerous spells.

“Bombarda!”

“Relashio! Diffindo!”

“Protego! Incendio!

“Levicorpus!”

“Confrigo!”

“Protego! Reducto!”

When they could, the boys ducked or jumped out of the way, using a shield only when necessary. Harry found the duel exhilarating, and was surprised when Professor Whistletoft called time. He and Snape - Severus - both stood up, panting, and bowed to each other. Harry was smiling brightly, and to his surprise, Severus gave him a mild smile in return.

As they returned to their seats, Harry saw that Lucinda and the rest of their classmates looked suitably impressed, and his smile widened. They hadn’t seen anything yet!

oOo

“So, I hear you’re a defense expert!” Alice teased as she slid into the seat beside Harry in History. The class was as boring as it would be in Harry’s time, and having it after lunch was brutal planning, as Harry wanted nothing more than a nap. Fortunately, he thought, he could pump Alice for information to stay awake. Binns could talk over anyone, and Hermione wasn’t around to glare at him for misbehaving in a “class.” Lily was on the other side of Alice and immersed in her own book.

“A bit,” Harry shrugged. “Who told you that?”

“Severus was telling Lily at lunch!” Alice said. “He was quite impressed!”

Harry blushed. “Well, I’ve had a lot of experience.” Seeing his opportunity to get a bit of an explanation, he asked, “So Severus and Lily? Are they… you know?”

To his relief, Alice laughed. “Oh Merlin no!”

Internally, Harry cheered. At least that wouldn’t be a reason that his parents weren’t together yet. After seeing how close Lily and Severus appeared today, and how she had glared at James at breakfast, Harry had been worried that his mum might be dating Severus.

“No, they’re childhood friends,” Alice continued, unaware of Harry’s internal dilemma. “They knew each other before Hogwarts.”

That raised a few other questions, but Harry tucked those away for later. “Oh! Are you and Severus then?” he asked, smirking.

Alice gently smacked his arm. “I’m betrothed!”

At Harry’s surprised look, she shook her head. “I forgot, you’re new. I’m betrothed to Frank Longbottom; he’s a sixth year Gryffindor. It happened on my birthday just two weeks ago, and so it’s been all over the rumor mill since then.”

“I see,” Harry nodded. This was Neville’s mum, then! “Nope, I’m sadly not a part of the rumor mill yet. You’ll need to fill me in on everything.”

As Binns droned on, Alice proceeded to do just that, dropping such juicy tidbits as the fact that Markus had a crush on Lucinda, who was actually interested in Severus, who was gay and thus completely uninterested in her. Further, Lucius Malfoy, who was in his first year out of Hogwarts, had just got betrothed to Narcissa Black (fifth year Slytherin) over the winter holidays even though everyone knew that he much preferred her sister Bellatrix (seventh year Slytherin) and pretty much anyone else in a skirt.

Lucinda’s brother Nathaniel (seventh year Slytherin) was trying to court Marlene McKinnon - Marcus’ older sister, but she had turned him down and hadn’t that caused a scandal! Nathaniel was right miffed over it, but Lucinda thought he was being an idiot. And Andromeda Black was the Head Girl this year, which Harry should have known, since she was in his House, and she was being courted by a Hufflepuff in her year named Ted Tonks, and that was quite the scandal because he was a muggle-born and she was a Black! There were rumors that both Rodolphus Lestrange (seventh year Slytherin) and Marianne Perks (Fourth year Hufflepuff) were gay, but no one could confirm them. On the other hand, Oriole MacMillian (fifth year Hufflepuff) and Telemander Turtleridge (sixth year Ravenclaw) were out and proud and everyone knew it.

There were enough juicy details, and enough surnames that Harry recognized, to keep them occupied for the entire double period, and Harry quietly catalogued everything he learned in his new mind map. One blessing from the diadem - or possibly Riddle, but Harry preferred to think it was the diadem - was that occlumency was now as second nature to him as breathing. He had easily created a mind map where he could store all of his memories and catalogue information over the course of a few hours after dinner Sunday night. Now he put it to use as he tried to keep track of everything Alice told him.

It was, Harry reflected later, probably the first time he had learned anything useful in History of Magic!

oOo

A month had passed, and Harry was settling in to this new version of Hogwarts very well. The awe of his metamorph abilities, which he claimed he could really only control in relation to his hair, had finally settled as it became part of the new norm for everyone. Metamorphs were apparently quite rare, and so Harry was viewed as a bit of an anomaly. The lie that he could only really change his hair yet had kept the jealousy and staring to a minimum. Academically, Harry was excelling. Between having taking these classes before, and the newfound knowledge from the diadem, Harry was in the top five in all his classes. That Lily and Severus were also in the top five meant that the trio had a friendly competition going every time they got a mark back.

Able to claim ignorance of the traditions of Hogwarts, Harry had set out to meet all of the upper years, regardless of House. Thanks to his mind map, he was able to catalogue everything he knew about them and work out probable family trees to his former classmates. Harry also had Moody’s photo of the Order, and a list of Death Eater names from various sources, including those he had seen in the Graveyard.

Though the memory had gone fuzzy with time, the diadem’s occlumency meant that Harry could now view any of his memories as clearly as though he was living them again. Skipping over the battle, Harry had studied Voldemort’s greetings to his minions, imprinting names and faces to his DE list. He did the same for the battles at the Ministry, his trial at the Wizengamot, and a number of news articles Hermione had read to him at one time or another, building a picture of the wizarding populace from his time.

Now, Harry worked his way through the students in fourth through seventh years and tried to figure out which way they had gone in the war. Harry planned to find those of the Dark who could be redeemed and try to keep them from Voldemort’s clutches. During the summer, when he had more free time, Harry would worry about actually taking out Voldemort before he became a problem, but his long-range, multi-pronged attack also called for removing the ranks of his followers.

Harry found that his new House was really a blessing in this endeavor. Slytherins and Gryffindors, who even in this timeline were always at each other’s throats, held no built-in animosity towards Ravenclaws. Since he was pretending to be a Pomfrey, an old Pureblood family that had been neutral for several centuries, Harry was also free from the Light/Dark divisions, and he purported to be a pureblood. Families who wouldn’t think of talking to a Potter or Longbottom, such as the Lestranges, had no problem with Harry seeking them out.

James Potter, on the other hand, posed a bit of a problem for Harry. With the exception of his first connection with Lily and Severus’s group, Harry had started his befriending campaign in his own House, since they were more accessible after curfew, and it seemed like the right thing to do. He had then spread out to the other Houses somewhat haphazardly, but Harry found himself avoiding James Potter’s gang.

Part of his reticence was logical, according to the diadem, because Harry didn’t want to change the timeline for his parents so much that he himself wouldn’t be born. However, that didn’t explain Harry’s continued friendship with Lily, Alice, and Severus. Finally, a month into his endeavor, Harry had to admit that he was avoiding the Marauders.

Last year, in the ending of their failed Occlumency lessons, Harry had seen Snape’s memory from late in his fifth year. That memory was of Severus and the young Marauders, and Harry had found himself coming down on the side of the Slytherin. Now that he knew young Severus personally; now that they had become, dare he say, friends, Harry found himself even more upset by the Marauders’ behavior.

As much as Harry wanted to meet his father and Sirius, and as much as he wanted Lily to marry James so that he himself would be born, Harry wasn’t sure he actually wanted to meet young James or Sirius.

At the same time, Harry was also torn on the question of Pettigrew. Technically, young Peter right now had done nothing wrong, just like young Severus and the other future Death Eaters that Harry was trying to save. Harry had a chance to save Peter just like the others. On the other hand, Harry didn’t want to have anything to do with the rat, other than wishing that he burned in hell for betraying all of his friends.

Harry knew it was irrational - knew it even without the diadem’s interference - but he couldn’t help the way he felt. Harry supposed that he was allowed to have one foible, and if refusing to forgive a young Peter was his foible, Harry could live with that.

That didn’t, however, solve the problem of what to do about the marauders. After mulling over the problem for a few days, Harry finally decided to start with Remus. The quietest marauder was a prefect, like Lily, and he actually spent some time in the library, unlike the other two. He was a good starting point for Harry to dip his toe into the marauder water.

oOo

Exams were upon them, and Harry had made excellent progress with his goals. He had, if not befriended, at least got to be on speaking terms with every student in fourth year and above, as well as a handful of the younger years. Those were mostly the siblings of his older connections, who had been introduced to Harry by their brothers or sisters. Harry had also finally connected with the marauders, and Remus had indeed been the key to breaking that group’s bubble.

Harry was slightly disappointed, though not terribly surprised, to find that James and Sirius were as arrogant as he had feared. However, he had the assurances of future Lupin and Sirius that they had eventually grown out of it, and that Lily had been attracted to the less-childish James. Harry just had to hope that all of that would still hold true this time around.

In the meantime, Harry had been studying regularly with Severus, Lucinda, and Lily in preparation for their upcoming exams. Remus joined them occasionally, as did Alice and Markus, but the others had other distractions that kept them out of the library more often than in. Harry was confident that this time around he would get at least EEs, if not Os, in all of his OWL exams. That was saying a lot, considering that Harry was taking two new subjects, as well as Care, which might as well as well be a new class for all that very little of what Hagrid had taught him was actually covered on the proper exam. However, Harry had a reputation as one of the top five students in his year, and he was bound and determined to maintain it through OWLs.

That was how he found himself alone with Severus, studying potions late one night. Lily and Remus had prefect patrol, Lucinda was off with her latest boyfriend (she had finally given up on Severus), and the others were out and about. Though Harry had got much better at potions since his last OWL, there was a lot he had to learn. While cooking, which he had done all his life, was a very flexible field, potions was exacting. One extra pinch here, one half-turn there, and the entire thing could change.

It was, Harry now understood, the reason that Neville, Ron, and himself had never excelled in potions. Neville was too nervous, Ron too lazy, and Harry too used to the flexibility of cooking to be as disciplined as necessary in potions.

“I don’t understand how you can have a Healer for an aunt and still have so much trouble with potions!” Severus complained that night as he looked over Harry’s essay.

It took Harry a moment to recall his backstory, in which Madam Pomfrey was supposed to be his aunt. He had got into the habit of responding to “Mister Pomfrey” in class, but the rest of his background still didn’t feel real quite yet. “Being related to a healer does not convey any special prowess,” Harry pointed out. “And if it did, it would lend more towards healing than potions.”

“But potions are such an integral part of healing!” Severus replied. “You have to have an encyclopedic knowledge of them before you can become certified as a Healer. You have to know how ingredients interact with each other and with a number of curses and transfigurations…”

“I would, if I wanted to become a healer,” Harry replied.

Severus harrumphed.

“Is that what you want to be?” Harry asked. He knew very little about adult Snape, but he couldn't imagine that teaching was his first choice of career. There had to be something that young Severus wanted to do instead.

“I’m going to be the youngest Potions Master and Healer ever,” Severus declared proudly. “I’m going to invent potions that cure all kinds of diseases.”

“Wow, ambitious,” Harry teased. He had found that teasing the others about their House traits was a good way to get them to loosen up a little about the whole thing. In the future, people like Ron would define everyone solely based on the most common traits of their House, and Merlin forbid anyone deviate from that mold. As the former-Gryffindor-turned-Ravenclaw-while-secretly-Slytherin Harry could attest, people were far more than a simple two-adjective copy of some ancient dead person.

Severus snorted. “I love potions, and being inventive with my brewing.”

“See, that, right there, I don’t get,” Harry said. “Because you’re always telling me how if I stir even just a quarter stir too long, I’ll ruin the potion. So how can you be inventive with them?”

Severus launched into a long explanation of potion invention, which seemed to consist of lots of background knowledge of herbology, magical creatures, and arithmancy. Though he tried very hard to pay attention, Harry found himself doing more staring that listening.

Harry didn’t think he’d ever seen adult Snape smile. Young Severus did it often, especially in the presence of Lily, and it completely lifted his features. When he got all impassioned, as he did right now, with the light in his eyes and the way his mouth quirked up at one side, Harry found himself mesmerized. Severus’s voice wasn’t as deep as adult Snape’s, but it had a melodious quality that promised more to come. He would make an excellent singer, Harry thought.

Part of Harry’s mind thought he was insane for liking the person who would grow up to be the bane of his existence, but another part, diadem or logic-based, knew that they were two different people. Harry had some hope of changing parts of the timeline, and those were the parts that were likely to turn this Severus into the angry, callous, hate-filled Snape he had known. If Harry could stop Severus from becoming that man, then why shouldn’t he?

Harry’s own internal debate was silenced by Severus clearing his throat. “If you didn’t want to know, you shouldn’t have asked,” he said, a little upset.

“No, no, I did!” Harry protested. He knew he was blushing; he could feel the heat in his cheeks. “I just also…” Harry trailed off. He just couldn’t come out and admit that he liked the sound of Severus’s voice!

Harry had known he was bisexual since before he came back in time. He had been confused at first, as he thought that people either had to be gay or straight, with nothing in between. Certainly the Dursleys had never given him any indication that such a thing was possible! The only reason Harry had even known that gay was an option before Hogwarts was because a gay couple had moved into Privet Drive when he was seven and Aunt Petunia had had a field day gossiping about their freakishness.

But a fun, heartfelt, slightly firewhiskey-aided conversation with Seamus, Ginny, and Parvati one night had led to Harry’s dorm mate confessing that he “swung for both sides,” which had led the others to explain to a confused Harry what bisexuality was. Since then, he had been able to classify the feelings he had for both Cho Chang and Roger Davies. Harry had feared something was wrong with him, but after that he could at last explain it!

And there was no denying that Harry had a type: smart with dark hair. That nearly all of his crushes had been on Ravenclaws or Slytherins was telling, and the diadem meant that Harry couldn't avoid realizing such things. Harry had a type, and Severus fit right into it.

Severus who was staring at Harry again, but with a calculating look instead of a slightly hurt one in his eyes. Severus who was slowly leaning forwards towards Harry, who was not leaning away. Severus who was now kissing him!

Harry did his best to shove his concerns away and enjoy the kiss for what it was - his first one with a bloke. It would be too corny to say that the kiss was everything he had imagined it would be, but it was far better than his horrible kiss with Cho. It was better even than his imagination had guessed it would be.

After a moment, Severus pulled back slightly, studying Harry with his deep black eyes. Seeming to come to some kind of decision, he finally said, “You’ll need to study that too, Pomfrey.”

Harry didn’t resist the urge to let his head fall onto his books with a thunk.

oOo

As the train pulled away from Hogwarts with his friends on it, Harry waved madly. Part of him had wanted to go with them, as he had some very fond memories of the train, but since his “guardian” lived at the castle, he had no reason to leave. Still, he had several invitations for the summer, including an offer to stay with Lily for a week. Since Severus practically lived at her house as well, it would also be a chance to see his boyfriend.

Boyfriend! The word sounded so cheesy and yet it was something normal that Harry was finally able to do. No one giving him strange looks for being the supposed Heir of Slytherin, no one trying to use him for his fame as the Boy-Who-Lived, no one crying over him because he had been there when their last boyfriend died. Just plain old Harry and his boyfriend, Severus.

It gave Harry a warm feeling inside just thinking about it. Though that feeling might have also been from picturing his Aunt Petunia’s face if he told her he was staying with his boyfriend for a week. It wouldn’t happen, of course, in this timeline, but it was still fun to imagine.

Exams were done, of course, and Harry felt far more confident this time around. There had also been no interruption from Death Eaters, and even the incident with the Marauders hadn’t happened as before.

Though Sirius and James had attacked Severus with the levicorpus spell, Harry had been walking at his side and had ended it almost instantly. When Lily came storming up to the group, she took one look at Harry telling off James and she hauled off and slugged Sirius. The marauder had been so surprised that he had actually fallen backwards onto his butt. Harry was reminded of Hermione in third year, and felt a hint of longing for his own time.

That was quickly replaced, however, by concern for his boyfriend. As soon as Severus had got to his feet with an embarrassed glare, Harry had kept him from saying anything with a brief kiss. “Now, we’re taking you straight to the hospital wing and having Aunt Poppy check you out,” he had insisted, in a no-nonsense tone that he had stolen from Hermione. “And if you’re injured at all, I’m sure she’ll be happy to arrange for them to serve a detention.” Harry had finally come to terms with his supposed relationship with the healer by referring to her as Aunt Poppy, which always made her huff in exasperation. It reminded him of how she reacted whenever the Weasley twins visited Harry in the hospital wing and made him feel a little closer to his own time.

As Harry dragged him inside the castle, Severus had his expected blow up. This time, however, it was aimed at Harry and the marauders instead of Lily. “I didn’t need your help!” he snarled.

“No, you would have just cursed them back and this whole thing would never end,” Harry snarked back. “You know everyone but Sluggy and Aunt Poppy are against Slytherin. Do you want a detention from McGonagall for retaliation? I don’t feel like spending our last few nights together before summer all by myself.”

Severus fumed for another minute before softening. “You’re right. Though I was going to tell you, I’ve got a plan for revenge.”

“Do tell?” Harry was certain he knew where this was going, but in his own time he had never heard the precipitating details.

“I overheard Black talking to Pettigrew during lunch,” Severus said. “While the others had their Arithmancy exam, he was supposed to make sure the shrieking shack was fully stocked.”

“Oh really?” Harry feigned surprise. That explained a lot.

“Yes. I’ve finally figured out where they sneak away to!” Severus crowed. “I’ll get out there tonight before them and then I’ll have my revenge!”

If there was one thing Harry was certain of, it was that Snape, at any age, was unlikely to give up a chance for revenge. He had to take care of this quickly, before Severus was set on the path to the dark side. Looking around, Harry saw an empty classroom and tugged his boyfriend into it. “I have to tell you something,” he explained at Severus’ bemused expression. “Throw up one of your specialty silencing charms, will you?”

Severus did as requested, but his expression told Harry that he had better have an explanation, and quickly.

“Look, this isn’t my secret to tell, but I know it because of Aunt Poppy,” Harry said quickly, racing through the diadem’s knowledge for the right spell. An unbreakable vow was too severe, but just his word wasn’t quite enough. Ah, perfect! “I need you to swear a secrecy vow before I tell it.”

Severus looked at Harry askance, but Harry shot him a pleading expression. “Fine!” Severus huffed, pulling out his wand. “I, Severus Tobias Snape, vow not to reveal the information Harry Pomfrey is about to give me until released by his word.”

Harry had a sudden concern that the spell wouldn’t work with his fake name, but the muted blue flash around Severus confirmed that it wasn’t a problem. Harry suppressed a relieved sigh. “Okay, look, they do have access to the shrieking shack, but not for the reasons you think. And if all of them know about it and use it, then they’re breaking a very important rule, and we can get them in trouble for that,” Harry began. He wasn’t sure about getting the marauders in trouble, but he reckoned that they must have been punished for almost killing Snape in the old timeline, so it wasn’t going to totally screw things up with his parents. Hopefully.

“When Lupin was a child, he was cursed really badly,” Harry said. “It affects him once a month, and Aunt Poppy has to treat him, which is why I know,” Harry explained, thankful for the perfect excuse of his supposed relation to the healer. “He goes out to the shack at that time, but no one else should be allowed out there. If you went out there at the wrong time, you could get hurt really badly, so you can’t go ambush them there!” Harry pleaded.

Severus nodded absently, but Harry could tell that he was busy putting together the pieces from the hints Harry had dropped. After all, the boy was a defense whiz and also in care of magical creatures. He was certain to be familiar with the habits of werewolves. Suddenly, a look of shock passed his face.

“Yes, it is what you’re thinking,” Harry quickly confirmed, before Severus could lose his temper. “But the rules about the shack and all are put there exactly so that he will not pose any danger to the other students. If the other marauders are breaking those rules, then we certainly have to tell Aunt Poppy right away. But think for a moment before you react to Lupin. He didn’t ask for this. He was cursed as a small child. He takes precautions, and Headmaster Dumbledore is the one that let him here in the first place.”

Harry could see that Severus was at least considering his words. Lupin was on friendly-ish terms with Lily and the extended study group, and tended to stay quiet around Severus. He never defended the Slytherin from the other marauders, but he also didn’t attack him outright, from what Harry had seen. Severus would surely want revenge on Sirius and James, and if they were doing something dangerous, which Harry knew they were, then they deserved it. But Harry wanted to avoid a situation where Severus called for Remus’ head just because of something he couldn’t help.

After several moments of thinking, Severus nodded decisively. “I won’t hold it against Lupin… yet,” he agreed. “But if we find out that he’s going along with something stupid that Black and Potter are doing, then I reserve the right to treat him like the idiot that would make him.”

Harry allowed his relieved sigh to escape this time. “That’s all I can ask,” he said, giving Severus a small peck on the cheek. “I know that you have strong feelings about the Marauders, and rightfully so, but I didn’t want you walking into a potentially dangerous situation, thinking it was a prank. For all we know, they’re just laying out some food and water for him or something.” He knew, of course, that the Animagus trio was up to much more than that, but he couldn’t reveal such knowledge just yet.

Severus, however, was mollified, and wrapped his arms around Harry, resting his chin on the Ravenclaw’s shoulder. “Thank you for looking out for me,” he said. “And Lupin, I suppose.”

“Well, you know Lily would kill you if you got Lupin kicked out and she had to go on prefect patrol with one of the others,” Harry joked. In his mind, though, he wondered if that wasn’t what had actually happened? Had Remus been stripped of his prefect’s badge after Snape was nearly killed, leading James to become the sixth year prefect and giving him the chance to woo Lily? As soon as he thought it, Harry tucked the idea away in his mind map to focus on later. “Now, we have two reasons to visit Aunt Poppy,” he said, gently nudging Severus towards the door.

They had gone to see the healer, and found no damage to Severus beyond a few bruises. At the same time, they had shared their concern that the other marauders, at least, knew about Lupin’s safe house at the shack, and were planning on something for the night. Harry again expressed his hope that it just meant a warm blanket and some food, but his concern that, given their reputations, the boys were up to something.

Poppy was as appalled as Harry could hope, and thanked the boys for bringing it to her attention. She promised to get to the bottom of the situation once and for all. Harry hadn’t heard what had happened, but he could guess. The point counter for Gryffindor had been in the negative numbers the next morning, and the four marauders were walking around with particularly depressed expressions. Slytherin was gleeful at this turn of events, as was Ravenclaw to a lesser extent, as they were now top of the standings for the House Cup.

Harry knew that he could get the full scoop during the summer, and had promised Severus and Lily the details when he came to visit. For now, though, he intended to enjoy a week off after the rush of exams, and a chance to fly without anyone seeing him who shouldn’t. Then, he would get down to the business of killing Voldemort.

oOo

One advantage to this time traveling thing was that this version of Dumbledore had no interest in meddling in Harry’s life. He didn’t insist that Harry go back to the Dursleys’ (not that he could, yet), but simply offered to add a small suite to the same hall as the infirmary. When the school year ended, Harry had moved from the Ravenclaw dorms to his new suite, and was quite comfortable. He learned that the professors tended to spend most of the summer at their own homes, with the exception of Hagrid, who lived in his hut year-round, and Dumbledore, who only took off a week here or there.

Harry had given his promise to behave, and Dumbledore had promised that the house elves would send three meals to his room every day, and that was it! Just like that, Harry was free to roam around Hogwarts unsupervised for the entire summer. He also had permission to come and go to Hogsmeade as he wanted, and no one had said a thing about him going elsewhere, like London.

It was, quite honestly, already shaping up to be the best summer of his life, and only two days in. Harry almost didn’t know what to do first.

Once Harry got bored with flying (and wouldn’t Oliver have had a coronary if he’d heard that!) he paid another visit to the Room of Requirement. He had popped in every few weeks during the school year to do a bit of sorting and scavenging, but now he spent several days in a row just going through the Room for books.

These he brought back to his summer rooms, and began to study. The thought of doing summer homework would have given Ron a coronary too, especially as this was independent study! That thought made Harry grin for several minutes as he unpacked books onto his new bookshelves.

Harry had been putting off the problem of Voldemort until the summer, knowing that he would have more time then, and now he bent to that study with a zeal none of his old friends would have recognized. The diadem helped, of course, as it knew much more about horcruxes, and also helped Harry organize the information he learned in his mind map. To his glee, Harry also learned that Ravenclaw had been the one to develop most of the wards on the Restricted Section of the library, and as such the diadem knew how to get around them.

As soon as Madam Pince had gone home for the summer, Harry snuck into her domain. These books he could not easily return to his room with, but Harry spent many hours sitting between the stacks, taking notes, before returning to his rooms to analyze them. Without Filch skulking about, or Madam Pince glaring at anyone who even breathed too loudly, Harry found the Restricted Section actually a very pleasant place to read.

Finally, Harry found the right information for the diadem to move their plans forward. In a way, Harry was not just Harry anymore. Harry was part himself, part possession by Ravenclaw, part possession by Riddle’s human horcrux, and part possession by Riddle’s diadem horcrux. The only reason that Harry hadn’t gone mad yet was that the diadem was stronger than the horcruxes. Given that the latter also disliked each other meant that Riddle’s soul pieces hadn’t unified and created a larger threat.

The diadem had known that there were ways to get control or rid of a spirit that possessed another human, as Harry’s horcrux was attempting. There were also ways to expel a horcrux from an item without damaging it, which the diadem also had heard of. Both rituals originated in Ancient Egypt, the origin of horcruxes, but had fallen into obscurity as dark soul magic.

As soon as Harry found out that such spells existed, he wanted to get rid of Riddle’s soul then and there, but the diadem convinced him to wait. As part of these rituals, there were methods to control the invading spirit. If Harry could bring either part of Riddle’s soul under his control, he would have a number of options open to him.

The diadem’s soul piece was relatively young, having been created when Riddle was in his early thirties. However, the piece in Harry was the last one created, and as such it knew all of the details about the horcruxes that had come before it. If Harry could force that horcrux to give up its secrets, he would be able to defeat Riddle much more easily.

On his second week in the Restricted Section, Harry finally hit paydirt. The old book was titled Deconstructing the Book of the Dead: Rituals and Rites of the Soul and the diadem was so excited to see it that it almost wrenched control away from Harry.

Harry resisted, and convinced the diadem to help him smuggle the book back to his room, where they could go over it at his leisure.

Once there, Harry read through the book, memorizing it into his mind map. There were, to his surprise, several rituals to choose from when attempting to control an invading spirit, but they managed to find one that affected both objects and people. The diadem postulated that this spell could be used to control the creator of a horcrux through his creation, but it should also work for their purposes, targeting both pieces of Riddle’s soul within Harry.

To Harry, with barely a year of study in arithmancy and runes, not to mention a healthy dose of trepidation about potions, the ritual was overwhelming. To the diadem, with all of the knowledge of Ravenclaw, it was a relatively simple matter. Not as simple as the wards on the restricted section, but far easier than creating the Room of Requirement had been.

After a few hours of planning, Harry agreed to let the diadem control most of his actions in the creation of the ritual. For Harry to have the actual control of the horcruxes, he would need to perform certain parts himself, but for the complex potion brewing and exacting runic carving, he could let the diadem lead the way.

Harry had also allowed the diadem to talk him into using the Chamber of Secrets for the ritual, as Salazar already had a ritual room down there. Harry had agreed, once it taught him a parselmagic spell to bind the currently living basilisk to him. It was likely the spell that Riddle had used each time, but as it wore off after a few months without contact, Riddle would not currently have control of the beast.

Gathering the potion supplies from the school labs, greenhouses, and the forbidden forest took a few hours, but Harry was lucky that none of the components were rare. Egyptian magic was from a time before global trade connections, and so their potions and rituals tended to focus on a core group of common ingredients. Since greenhouse four was entirely full of desert flora, and since Hagrid knew of an ashwinder cave in the forest, Harry was able to get most of his ingredients fresh.

He picked up a large box of runic chalks in Hogsmeade, as well as a set of more advanced calipers, compass, and hourglass than the ones he had used in class. Once all of the supplies had been gathered, Harry and the diadem ventured down to the Chamber of Secrets. There, they found both a potions lab and the ritual room, as promised. Harry let the diadem take the lead on brewing the potion, and used the times while the potion could be left unattended to work on the ritual layout. The basilisk never reared its head, even when Harry would return to his rooms for meals. Finally, after two days of work, everything was ready.

Stepping into the center of the ritual room, careful not to smudge any of the lines, Harry poured a bit of the potion over his forehead, where the diadem scar was located. For good measure, he also smeared it around his entire head (having used his metamorph skills to get rid of his hair for the duration). Then, plugging his nose against the stench, Harry gulped down a second measure of the potion. Since he was, in essence, both a cursed object and a cursed person, he had decided to follow both paths of the ritual.

As Harry tried not to gag on the taste of burnt roadkill that filled his mouth, he pulled up his mental image of the ritual chant. Fortunately, this particular ritual was bigger on preparation than doing, and there was only a short paragraph to be spoken. Holding his hands out to the East and West, palms up, Harry spoke.

Anok apismot tot de pse, kai tot de kasi, kai tot de noyt. Apismot anok sht kai ane de iop. Anok iop sopnic. Epip ka pan Tom Marvolo Riddle nwi ka. Epip ka pan Tom Marvolo Riddle moy iop. Anok ka iop sopnic apismot. Epip ka pan Harry James Potter nem noyt!”

Harry had a little trouble with the Ancient Egyptian pronunciation, but he knew the gist of the words. He was calling upon the heaven, the earth, and the gods, and asking them to grant him control over the spirit of Tom Riddle that was within him. If successful, Harry would completely control the life, death, and power of the horcrux spirits.

When he finished chanting, a rush of wind blew through the chamber, swirling around Harry and tugging at his ritual robes. Knowing that this was part of his test, Harry stood still and refused to let the wind buffet him from his place in the ritual lines.

Finally, the wind died down, and a heavy feeling began to press down on Harry. This was accompanied by a dull brown glow which surrounded his body. He and the diadem were both gleeful as the brown glow began to slowly turn blue. Once it was entirely blue, there was a flash of light and the ritual ended.

Harry sank to his knees, wanting nothing more than a nap. The diadem was insistent, however, that he deactivate the runic plane. Harry obediently smudged the chalk lines in specific places, breaking the power of the runes, before stumbling next door and falling gratefully onto his cot in the potions lab.

oOo

Several hours later, Harry woke up feeling refreshed. He also felt lighter than ever before, which the diadem explained as the lack of dark magic from Riddle’s soul. Now that it was contained, and at Harry’s control, it could no longer attempt to corrupt Harry or take over his body, as it had been doing since he was a toddler.

Harry returned to his own room, where he found dinner waiting under warming charms, and wolfed it down. After leaving a note for the House Elves asking for an extra large breakfast, Harry fell into his own comfortable bed. The best way to restore his magical reserves was to eat and sleep, Harry knew.

The next morning, after a huge English breakfast, Harry felt much better. He made his way out to the quidditch pitch, wanting to be in the sun after having spent the last few days holed up in the dungeons. There, lying on the grass and looking up at the pale blue sky, Harry slipped through his occlumency barriers and sought out the pieces of Riddle trapped in his mind.

Gone were the dark, shadowy, black holes that they had appeared as before. Now, instead, they appeared as two snakes, each tucked into a glass terrarium. One was bigger, emerald green on his back and black on his belly, and Harry deduced that this was the diadem’s piece. His own was smaller, jet black, and hissing angrily at the glass. This was the later piece of Riddle’s soul, which had been created in 1981. Harry spent hours with the two snakes, gleaning everything he could from the captive pieces of Tom Riddle.

As he did, plans began to swirl through Harry’s mind for taking care of Riddle, his soul pieces, and the Death Eaters.

oOo

Two weeks later, a very cheerful Harry arrived in Cokeworth. He had spent the last two weeks dealing with the problem of Voldemort, and was now taking a much-deserved week off with Lily and Severus.

The best part of coming back in time, Harry had discovered, was how early he had done it. The horcrux in Harry knew the exact time that each other one had been created; the diary when Riddle was sixteen, the ring when he was nineteen, then a large gap. The diadem had been created when Riddle was in his early thirties, the cup was created in 1976, just before the war picked up in earnest, while the locket was created in 1979, after a near miss in battle. Harry’s horcrux, of course, was created in 1981. Since it was currently the summer of 1975, two of the horcruxes hadn’t even been created yet!

The ring had been right where Dumbledore had found it, though Harry was able to disable the parselmagic traps and retrieve it without a scratch. The diadem, of course, was in Hogwarts, and therefore a snap to obtain. The diary was trickier, as it had been moved several times during Riddle’s life. However, Harry found it hidden in Riddle Manor, once again protected by parselmagic that he could easily disable.

Harry had cast the Egyptian exorcism ritual to cleanse all three items without harming them, and now, with the exception of himself, Riddle had no horcruxes left! As long as Harry managed to take out the Dark Tosser before next year, he would be vanquished for good! That certainly called for a holiday in Harry’s book.

Lily and Severus had agreed to meet him at a park near Spinner’s End, which was a landmark the Knight bus could easily find. After taking a second to catch his bearings, he looked around and found them on the swings. Apparently, the loud bang the bus made wasn’t audible to those who weren’t actively seeking it.

Harry spared a thought for sneaking up on them, maybe putting his hands over Severus’ eyes and saying, “guess who,” but he cast the idea aside. Severus was the kind to curse first, ask questions later, and Harry didn’t feel like starting out his vacation with a visit from the Ministry Obliviators dealing with them performing magic in front of muggles.

Instead, he whistled as he approached, giving Lily and Severus plenty of notice that he was there. Severus heard him first, and turned, prompting Lily to do the same. A huge smile lit up Severus’ face when he saw Harry. Severus was quite affectionate, Harry had learned, but he was not very demonstrative in public. Even Lily apparently counted as semi-public, because he did not immediately rise to greet Harry. So, knowing it would slightly annoy the other boy, Harry snaked his arms around Severus, pinning him with the chains of the swing, and kissed him deeply.

Lily made a cooing sound, which Harry filed away for teasing later, but it caused Severus to pull back slightly. “Hi,” Harry said, his voice coming out barely above a whisper.

“Hi yourself,” Severus greeted back, his mild annoyance clearly outweighed by his eagerness to see Harry again.

As soon as Harry released Severus so he could stand, Lily threw herself at him for a hug. “It’s good to see you again Harry! Sev here has been moping without you!” Harry saw the teasing twinkle in her eye and grinned.

“Well we can’t have that!” He struck his best, most Lockhart-ian pose. “Never fear, fair damsel! Harry Po-mfrey is here!” Harry’s heart clenched at the way he had stumbled over his own last name. He had done almost the same thing with Ginny once or twice, and the ‘Harry Potter’ just flowed out like normal!

Lily was laughing, and Severus was scowling, and neither seemed to notice the slip. Harry tried to hide his relief by elaborately switching to a different pose.

“Oh come on you git,” Severus finally grumbled, but there was no malice in his tone. Harry was very good at detecting malice in the voice of Snape.

Relenting, Harry dropped the pose and the horrible smile that honestly made his face hurt, and just grinned at his boyfriend like normal. “So, what first?”

Since Lily’s parents weren’t home from work yet, and her sister Petunia was still living at home for now, the trio decided to avoid the house and go on a tour of Cokeworth. There wasn’t a lot to see, save for the old factory buildings. They were far less dilapidated than in Harry’s time, but still had been clearly shut down for a couple of years.

Harry learned, through subtle questioning, that Severus’ father was a muggle had worked in the factory before its closing. That filled in several blanks for Harry, who had wondered how a wizard like Severus could have grown up with a muggleborn like Lily. There was no magical community in Cokeworth - Harry had checked - so he had been curious.

Lily’s father ran a security company which, among other things, ran security for the abandoned factories. Her mother was the office manager for the company, and had taken over the running of it while her father served in the war. As they passed the building, Lily exchanged waves with several of the men who were standing outside, smoking.

After meandering around some more and seeing the rest of the (limited) sights in Cokeworth, the trio finally made their way back to the Evans house just in time for dinner. The meal was simple lasagna, salad, and bread, but it was flavorful. Harry was also secretly excited to meet his grandparents, though he was the only one to know they were such.

Violet Evans had the same auburn hair as her daughter, and the same almond-shaped eyes, though hers were a hazel in color. She was willowy, like her daughters, and immediately gave both Severus and Harry large hugs when they entered the house.

Major George Evans was tall and sturdily built, with a red highlight to his brown hair. He kept it short cropped, emphasizing the grey at his temples. He looked every inch the distinguished retired military man. He also had Harry’s nose, though his green eyes had flecks of hazel in them, instead of the pure green of his daughter and grandson. He had given Lily a hug and kiss on the cheek, ruffled Severus’s hair, and shook Harry’s hand warmly.

To Harry, the contrast between Aunt Petunia - who had no warmth for anyone except perhaps Dudley - and her parents, was staggering. Harry was slightly baffled as to how one person could grow up in a family as apparently loving as the Weasleys, but act as horrid as the Malfoys. Harry admitted he didn’t have many other families to compare to, but the couple he knew all seemed to be at extreme opposite ends of the spectrum.

After dinner, George and Severus helped Harry pitch his wizarding tent in the backyard. Lily had offered that Harry could sleep on the couch, but Harry had found a wizarding tent in the room of requirement and was eager to try it out. It had a relatively modern wizarding kitchen, so it couldn’t be too old. In addition to having four bedrooms, meaning that even Lily and Severus could camp out with him, Harry had added a number of wards to the runic array of the tent while at Hogwarts. Among other things, it hid underaged magic from the trace. That meant that the trio could finally show the Evans parents some of what Hogwarts taught.

Once the tent was up and the elder Evanses were sitting comfortably on its couch with their after-dinner drinks, the trio went wild. Lily showed her parents all kinds of charms, from making the armchair fly to making a teacup dance across the coffee table. Severus and Harry were talked into holding a friendly duel, which also gave Lily a chance to show off her protective wards as she paced out a dueling platform for them.

The duel was only for five minutes, with Lily tracking the time, and they had agreed to cast no spells above fourth year level, not wanting to freak out the Evanses. True, George had been in the army, and was unlikely to faint at the sight of blood, but neither boy thought it a good idea to delve into the really destructive side of magic.

The duel was still a draw when Lily called time, and both boys bowed to each other before returning to their hosts. Harry had a hastily applied stasis charm on his leg, where Severus had got a cutting curse past his defenses. Though he didn’t really need one, he took a blood replenisher, as Severus lectured the Muggle couple on healing potions. Lily also showed off her knowledge of healing spells to clean and heal the cut. Severus was also able to explain the potion behind bruise balm as Lily applied some to his shoulder, which Harry had got with a bludgeoning curse.

All in all, the Evans parents were thoroughly entertained by the evening, and proclaiming their wonder at the things their children had learned. Harry knew they probably meant Severus when they said “their” as he had known them almost a decade, but it still gave him a warm feeling inside, imagining that his grandparents were saying it about himself.

George had even draped his arms around Severus and Harry as they returned to the house to get their pajamas and such. The teens were going to spend the night in the tent, Lily having already demonstrated her ability to ward a bedroom to expel the opposite gender. “Of course,” she pointed out, “with both of them being gay, it isn’t my room that needs warding, but we can’t exactly exclude boys from Sev or Harry’s rooms!”

Harry was relieved at that oblique confirmation that his grandparents knew he was gay, and likely that he was in a relationship with Severus, and they didn’t seem to be upset about it. He hadn’t thought that Petunia’s homophobia originated with her parents, not with the many other ways she differed from them, but it was nice to have it confirmed nonetheless.

After changing into their pajamas, gathering their toothbrushes, and other such preparations, the trio returned to the tent and stayed up another few hours catching up before finally going to bed. Eventually, the subject turned to Lily’s love life.

“So, Lily, who do you have your eye on at Hogwarts?” Harry asked. “Alice didn’t tell me with her usual gossip report.”

Lily scowled and tossed a pillow at him, which Harry easily deflected. “No one.” she growled.

Severus grinned evilly at his best friend. “You know, most of the boys in our year are betrothed or dating,” he pointed out. “The seventh years too. You’d better get a move on, unless you intend to do a little cradle-robbing.”

“He’s right!” Harry agreed. “Let’s see. There’s Rowle and Tofty in Slytherin,” he began to count off on his fingers. “Markus and Smith in Hufflepuff-”

“Smith is betrothed,” Severus interjected.

“Really?” Harry hadn’t known that. “When did that happen?”

“Oh, as a child, but she is two years ahead of us, so she hasn’t been at Hogwarts in your time,” Severus explained.

Harry nodded. “Okay, so just Markus in Hufflepuff. I’m pretty certain that Glenn in Ravenclaw is gay,” Severus nodded agreement, “ which just leaves you with Bones, Rockwell, and Shacklebolt. And in Gryffindor you’ve got… all four Marauders?” he quirked an eyebrow at Severus, but it was Lily who answered.

“Actually, Marlene is dating Sirius,” she said begrudgingly, “and Alice set up Peter with Sarah Perks.” Harry considered that. Perks was a Hufflepuff, and quite mild and friendly. Perhaps dating her would get Peter out from under his inferiority complex with the rest of the Marauders. A good girlfriend might even save the rat from his fate.

“Okay, so only Potter and Lupin in Gryffindor are available,” Harry agreed. “Only eight eligible bachelors in Sixth and Seventh year,” he wiggled his fingers at Lily. “Who should we set you up with?”

“Don’t you dare!” Lily threatened.

“Oh, has Alice already claimed that right?” Severus teased. “We wouldn’t want to step on her toes while she’s playing matchmaker.”

Lily was bright pink with embarrassment and anger, and she was fingering her wand as though contemplating what spell to cast on the boys.

“Let’s start with Ravenclaw; I know you want someone as smart as you,” Harry said, choosing to work his way back to the Marauders. To James. “Shacklebolt is quite fit,” he said. “You know that beaters have to be in good shape, and I can confirm that he is good.” Severus tossed a pillow at his boyfriend, but couldn’t disagree. “I think he wants to be an auror,” Harry finished. “What do you think, Lily?”

“I think I should suffocate you in your sleep,” she muttered.

Harry simply stuck his tongue out at her. Severus rocked sideways and nudged her with a smile. Finally, Lily sighed and threw her hands up. “You aren’t going to give this up, are you?” she asked, resigned.

“Nope!” Harry grinned widely. “I’m going through all the options, with or without your input. And then I’m telling Alice how much you blushed for each name. You might as well help control your own fate.”

Lily huffed but uncrossed her arms. “Fine. Shacklebolt is fit, I guess, but I don’t really know him.”

Harry acknowledged that with a nod, putting a ‘maybe’ next to Kingsley on his mental list. “Rockwell strikes me as a bit stuck-up,” Harry said.

“He looks down on anyone not in Ravenclaw,” Severus explained. “He thinks that we’re all idiots.”

“Ah!” Harry crossed him off too. “Not Rockwell, then. He couldn’t handle finding out that Lily was smarter than him.”

Lily smirked at that, her grumpiness fading. “Damn right,” she muttered.

“So that leaves us with Bones!” Harry said. “He’s a good sort, and his sister is friendly too.”

Lily considered this. “Yeah, I know Amelia from Runes. Edgar wouldn’t be too bad, I suppose.”

“Okay, put him on the ‘possible’ list,” Harry said.

Severus mimed grabbing a quill and making a list on his hand.

“On to Slytherin?” Harry asked. “Tofty and Rowle?”

“Rowle’s a blood snob,” Severus interjected quickly. “Tofty isn’t as bad, but he kind of is too.”

Harry quirked an eyebrow at that. Sighing, Severus explained. “If she was a half-blood, he’d consider it.”

Harry scowled, finding that Lily was mirroring his expression. “No Slytherins, then,” he said.

“Why are there so many gits in your house?” Lily growled.

Severus shrugged, but Harry was pleased to note that he didn’t immediately throw Sirius and James back in her face.

“Lack of courageous, smart, hardworking, folk,” he said instead, successfully distracting his boyfriend. Lily burst out laughing as Severus chucked a pillow at Harry’s head. The conversation dissolved into a brief pillow fight, until all three were collapsed on the ground, laughing. Eventually they squirmed around until all three were on their backs, their heads almost touching in the center of the circle.

As they finally caught their breath again, Harry brought them back on track. “So in Hufflepuff we’ve got Markus…”

Another pillow slammed into Harry’s face, making Sev snort with laughter at his boyfriend’s predicament.

“Not Markus?” he affected confused innocence. In all honesty, Markus reminded Harry a little too much of Colin Creevey; both boys were far too excitable. He didn’t blame Lily for wanting to avoid that.

Lily didn’t bother to answer, so after a moment Harry began ticking off on his fingers. “So that leaves Gryffindor. Remus?”

To his mild surprise, Lily seemed to be considering this. Harry’s heart began to pound, but he kept his breathing as steady as possible. Could Lily actually be considering dating Remus? Finally Lily spoke, hesitantly, as though working out her feelings aloud. “Remus is smart, and kind, and quiet. Too quiet, almost. I- I know why. I’m sure you’ve guessed…”

“His… condition?” Severus asked ambiguously. Harry was pleased that Severus was calmly treating Lupin as sick, instead of a monster. Having discovered his secret through Harry instead of running into an enraged werewolf without warning had done wonders for his attitude towards Lupin.

Lily gave a relieved sigh. “Yes. That. It is obvious that he is especially cautious about that. I just… I don’t think I have that kind of feeling for him. If we dated, it would be pleasant, but I’m afraid that there wouldn’t be any excitement!”

“Which leaves you with Potter,” Severus sneered.

Lily’s sigh this time was far closer to a huff of annoyance. “Too much excitement.” She complained.

“He’s a pureblood, right? From one of the old families?” Harry checked, something having just occurred to him for the first time. “I thought they all used betrothal contracts. The Blacks do, certainly, and his mum is one.”

Surprisingly, Severus knew the answer. “He did have one, actually, to Arabella Prewett. But they discovered she was a squib when she didn’t get her Hogwarts letter. Since Potter was 10, they decided not to write a new contract until he had a chance to find someone for himself.”

Harry half rolled over to eye his boyfriend. “Really? I had no idea!” In the back of his mind, the diadem pointed out that this was probably Ron’s second cousin who was a squib accountant that ‘nobody ever talked about.’

“Is that why Black is unattached too?” Lily asked, also curious.

Severus shook his head. “No, his contract was dissolved by the girl’s family after he was sorted into Gryffindor and disowned by his mother. No point in marrying a Black if you aren’t marrying into the family. Bellatrix took great delight in telling all of Slytherin as soon as Mary Bulstrode told her.”

Harry considered that. Of course both scandals would be spread all over Slytherin. It also explained why James had been able to marry Lily originally, and why Sirius hadn’t been married. “Well, then, James is unattached,” Harry finally declared. “How about it, Lily?”

She scowled. “James Potter has the intellectual maturity of a newt!” she replied forcefully. Quietly, Hermione’s voice echoed in Harry’s mind: Just because you've got the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn't mean we all have!”

Both boys laughed, and Harry snuggled back down amongst the pillows. “Too bad you can’t play that… whadaya call it- dating game? Line up Potter, Lupin, Shacklebolt, and Bones behind a screen and mask their voices. Get to know them without their personalities getting in the way.”

Lily haphazardly flung another pillow at Harry, hitting his hip.

“You know, the idea has merit,” Severus teased. “I believe I know exactly the spells we would need.” Another pillow went flying, and the fight resumed, until several pillows had popped and down was floating around the room.

Harry let the conversation drift to other topics, but he knew he had broached the subject. And, true to his threat, he would be telling Alice about Lily’s options. From the sound of it, Severus might even help with the matchmaking. Harry could only hope that his efforts would result in Lily falling in love with James again.

It was nearly morning when the trio finally decided to go to bed. Harry and Sev went to separate rooms, but after the goodnight kiss he had received, Harry wasn’t complaining!

oOo

The week and a half (because he hadn’t wanted to leave at the end of the first week, as originally planned) that Harry spent with his grandparents, mum, and boyfriend, was just about the best week of his entire life. His favorite part was a tie between the joy of getting to know the Evans family (besides Petunia), the ability to just relax and be a teenager without worrying about a Dark Lord trying to kill him, and the fun that he and Severus had got up to when Lily left them alone one morning for a dentist’s appointment.

Unfortunately, such things could not last forever, and Harry eventually had to return to Hogwarts. After one last heated snogging session with Severus, and one last hug from the three Evanses, Harry hefted his backpack and caught the Knight Bus to London. There, he stopped in Diagon Alley for a few needed supplies before flooing from Foresque’s to the Three Broomsticks.

After picking up a few more supplies, Harry had walked back to Hogwarts, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine for the last time before he again locked himself up in Salazar’s ritual room. A house elf Harry was unfamiliar with greeted him at the door to the castle. “Master Pomfrey is back?” it asked.

“Yes, I’m back from visiting my friends,” Harry said. “Can I get a large dinner a little later than usual tonight, please?”

“Of course, Master Pomfrey,” the elf replied, popping away.

Harry spared a brief second to miss Dobby before shaking his head and heading for Myrtle’s bathroom. There, he had a ritual to prepare for, to rid himself of Riddle once and for all.

oOo

“Hello Tom,” Harry said calmly, eyeing the man in the center of the containment runes with conflicting emotions. On the one hand, this man would kill his parents, and Cedric, and try to kill Harry. This man was the reason that future Dumbledore had made Harry’s life a living hell. On the other hand, the two pieces of Riddle contained within his mind yearned to be reunited with the whole, and Harry felt their desire surge through him. Between his own occlumency shields and the diadem’s, he could resist, just barely. He could see why this ritual was so dangerous for the caster.

“How dare you call me that!” Riddle said, standing proudly, though his eyes scanned the room intensely.

“Yes yes, you’re Lord Voldemort… blah blah blah... bane of Dumbledore’s existence... blah blah blah... you’ll kill me if I don’t show the proper respect… blah blah blah. I have to tell you that those lines get pretty old, Riddle,” Harry waved a negligent hand.

This Riddle was somehow calmer and more calculating than the one Harry had met, and he wondered if being destroyed by a toddler had somehow screwed with his mind. Or maybe it was from creating so many horcruxes. Instead of immediately spitting curses, this Riddle was looking around, gathering information, not giving any away. It was a far more Slytherin approach than Harry was used to.

“Now, I have to assume that you don’t recognize the situation you find yourself in,” Harry offered. He was only able to summon Riddle because of the two horcruxes in his head. The highly complex Ancient Egyptian runic circle allowed him to summon and contain the originating soul of a horcrux that he had complete control over. It wouldn’t have worked with one of the other horcruxes, as simply having physically obtained them was not the same as having complete control over them.

However, his first ritual - the one that had converted the two pieces inside himself into confined snakes - had made Harry eligible to perform this one. Now that the ritual had succeeded, Riddle could not leave the small septagon he stood within, provided that Harry did nothing to smudge the rest of the ritual circle.

Since he had no intention of moving until his second, related ritual was complete, Harry didn’t envision that being a problem.

Harry had already sought out the basilisk (the oddly named Melissa - What had Slytherin been thinking?) and bound it to his will before collecting a quart of basilisk blood, freely given. Even if Riddle could figure out that he was in the Chamber of Secrets (and there was a chance that he had used this ritual room himself) and call for Melissa, she would not respond to him. In fact, Harry had sent her out into the forest to hunt acromantula for the day, and instructed her not to come back until tomorrow, so she wouldn’t even be nearby.

“I don’t know your face, boy,” Riddle finally said. “It is familiar, of course, but the hair…” Harry’s hair was currently sky blue with white streaks, and he was quite pleased with how closely it matched the sky above the Quidditch pitch.

“I like my hair,” he replied mildly.

“Being a metamorphmagus is a Black family trait.” Riddle replied. Harry knew that this was true, but it was also Riddle taking a shot in the dark. The hair could be a glamour, or muggle hair dye, though the former would be unlikely to hold through a ritual. The latter was also unlikely among the kind of wizards who would know this kind of ritual magic.

“So I’ve heard,” Harry gave nothing away. “I’ve also heard that being a parseltongue is a Slytherin family trait.”

Riddle’s eyes narrowed. I am the last Slytherin he hissed.

So you say, Harry hissed back, still completely calm.

Riddle, to his pleasure, looked completely gobsmacked by this revelation. Harry hoped that would last for a minute. He really needed about thirty more minutes to recharge his magical reserves before he performed the second ritual, and he didn’t want to give Riddle too much time to think about ways to screw it up.

Finally, Riddle closed his mouth and scrutinized Harry carefully. Then his eyes swept around the runes again. “I see you are using Slytherin’s chamber. I should have recognized it before,” he admitted.

Well, that confirmed one thing, Harry thought. Riddle had used this place himself, not just set Melissa on people. “She won’t wake,” he said, echoing what a much younger Tom had told him in this very chamber. Let this Riddle think that Melissa was asleep. The longer he concentrated on figuring out how to wake her, the longer Harry had.

Riddle frowned, clearly guessing who Harry meant.

Meanwhile, Harry pulled up the final ritual in his mind’s eye. The ingredients for it were within his own protective triangle, shielding them from interfering in his first working. The fact that the room had to be prepared for both rituals at the same time, without having one interfere in the other was the main reason that this pair of rituals was almost never used together. However, thanks to the diadem, Harry had the ability to plan his working down to the tiniest detail and ensure that he would be successful in both endeavors. It had taken three days to prepare, but it was his best chance to destroy Riddle completely.

With a flick of his wand, he summoned the bag of saffron threads, and carefully placed one small bundle of threads into each corner of his protective triangle. True saffron was insanely expensive, and Harry was thankful that he only needed three bunches.

Riddle eyed these motions calculatingly, but Harry ignored him for the moment. Let him wonder what ritual Harry was casting, and who he was, and where Melissa was. The longer he wondered, the better for Harry. Harry quickly flicked his wrist and cast a muffling spell upon himself so that he couldn’t hear Riddle. It would be dangerous to leave on for too long, but necessary at the moment.

Next, Harry summoned the jar of crushed scorpion carapaces. This fine brown powder flowed out at a flick from his wand and he traced out new runes with it. Each rune had to be placed carefully between the lines of the previous working, without touching or overlapping them. It was exacting work, but Harry only needed 8 runes for this step. This was also Riddle’s best chance for success, to distract him long enough for the lines to overlap, and thus ruin both workings. Hence the muffling spell.

When he finally finished laying out the last precise rune in the Southward corner, Harry rocked back and surveyed his work. Each rune was perfectly formed, and at least an inch inside the other runes on all sides. Not a fleck of scorpion had crossed the salt paths of the containment circle.

Harry set down the nearly empty jar and then quickly removed the muffling charm.

“-can’t be a SLYTHERIN,” Riddle was shouting.

Harry hummed. “Oh, I’m sorry, were you saying something, Tom? I was ignoring you.”

Riddle let out an inarticulate growl of rage, which made Harry feel all warm inside. A frustrated Riddle was a Riddle who was likely to make mistakes. And Harry only had two more preparations to go.

Carefully, he levitated the specially prepared jar of basilisk venom out of his circle and into a highly intricate septagon at the exact opposite of the working from Tom. When it set down without a jolt Harry breathed out a sigh of relief. Finally, he pulled out his small ritual knife, purchased just for this working, and unsheathed it.

“One of Dumbledore’s pets, doing illegal Blood Magic?” Riddle sneered. “I can’t believe the old man would approve of that!”

“You’ve made several errors of logic there, Tom,” Harry replied calmly. Just two more minutes, according to the hourglass at his feet, and he would be able to complete the second ritual with no risk of dangerously depleting his magical core.

“Such as?” Riddle clearly didn’t realize how close Harry was to killing him. He still believed that he could gain the upper hand somehow.

“One: You assumed I was Dumbledore’s pet.” Harry replied. He stuck one hand into his robe pocket and twitched his fingers, hoping to trick Tom into thinking that he was preparing another ingredient.

Riddle snorted. “Aren’t you? We’re in Hogwarts.”

“You went to Hogwarts,” Harry pointed out simply. “Does that make you his pet?”

Predictably, Riddle snarled.

“Two:” Harry continued. “You assume that I wanted or sought the old man’s approval.”

“He had to have given you permission to be here,” Riddle replied, eyes darting around the room again. “He must know something.”

“He knows that I am at Hogwarts,” Harry confirmed. “However, he has no idea what I am doing. Nor does he care.” He gave up on twitching his hand in his pocket and crouched down to study his hourglass. Less than a minute left.

“Interesting.” Tom stopped examining the room and studied Harry again.

Harry double checked his scorpion carapace runes again. Just a couple of grains left! “Three: you assumed I was doing Blood Magic.” Harry allowed himself to smirk as the hourglass let out a soft chime. He could begin!

Even as Riddle asked what he was actually doing, Harry made a small slice in his pointer finger. Then he carefully traced a series of runes on his face. This was tricky, as Harry couldn’t use a mirror, but the runes were simple, and the diadem wouldn’t let him get them wrong.

One on his forehead, one on each cheek, and finally one over his heart. Riddle was talking again, probably trying to figure out how Harry was using blood but not doing Blood Magic, but Harry tuned him out. Whether or not Tom guessed that it was Soul Magic, it was too late for him. Once the final rune was completed, Harry quietly chanted, ”Moy. Lac Moy.” calling death to observe his working.

The blood runes glowed a brilliant gold and immediately matching gold domes appeared around Harry, Riddle, and the jar of venom. The domes also served to block all sound, and Harry was now free from distractions.

”Eiep te eiep. Kapa te kapa. Mawyr te mawyr. Seht te seht. Me te me.” Harry raised his empty hands above his head and felt the glowing golden light begin to pool there as he offered himself to the ancient gods. “Ne apismot anok eipe. Ne apismot anok eipe. Nem mwoy po.” Harry jabbed one hand at the jar of venom, calling it into his working. “Nem iop nekpon.” He jabbed his other hand at Riddle, requesting that the venom be delivered to Riddle’s location. “Kapa te kapa. Seht te seht. Ne apismot anok eipe! NE APISMOT ANOK EIPE!

On the final shout calling for judgement, the golden lights flashed. Harry had to blink several times to clear his vision, and finally he saw that the septagon that had held the venom was now empty. Glancing at Riddle inside his golden dome, Harry saw a whirlwind of black, green, and red… ooze, for lack of a better word. As the concoction spun faster, he took a quick peek inwards through his occlumency barriers. Both snake horcruxes were gone.

Harry quickly refocused on Riddle’s former location. The whirlwind was slowing down, diminishing, and leaving an icky, gelatinous, puddle behind. A puddle that represented the final remains of one Tom Marvolo Riddle.

Harry’s cheeks suddenly hurt with the force of the wide grin he was bearing. As soon as the golden glow dissipated, which would only take about ten minutes, he would be able to simply vanish the mess; no remains hanging around for some pesky resurrection ritual this time! Then Harry could clean his runic plane and go fall upon the feast he had asked the elves for.

oOo

As the Hogwarts Express pulled into the station, Harry leaned against one of the thestrals, absently petting its mane. After destroying Riddle, he had tied up a few loose ends, in the form of vanishing some muggle bones in Little Hangleton, ensuring that a certain prophecy sphere didn’t exist yet, casting a small compulsion to make sure that a certain fake seer would never desire to become a professor, and raiding Riddle’s hidden gold stashes (the wards having fallen with his death.)

Harry had also spent more time with his friends, flying on his broom, reading, and getting to know his “Aunt Poppy” a bit better. He’d created a replica Sorting Hat and swapped it out for the real one for a few days in order to chat with it and give Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff (who was within the hat) a chance to catch up on old times. Dumbledore had also called him up for a long overdue chat, wherein Harry lied through his teeth about the future, claimed to have been all muddled from the time travel and thinking he was talking to Voldemort when he accused the headmaster of ruining his life, and generally expressed satisfaction with his current life. The old man seemed to believe in the ‘ignorance is bliss’ school of thought, and accepted all of Harry’s lies.

Harry had got Os in all of his NEWTs and picked up his supplies together with most of their study group two weeks after his birthday. That day had been spent just with his boyfriend, alone in Hogwarts, and Harry had received a truly amazing gift in his bedroom at the end of the day.

And now, finally the summer was over. Now, for the first time in his life, Harry could just be a normal young man. He could take NEWT classes with his boyfriend, decide what he wanted to do with his life, and try to figure out a way to get his parents back together. He didn’t have to worry about insane megalomaniac Dark Lords, or vicious Death Eaters (all of whom mysteriously died throughout the summer), or secretive old coots who thought they knew better than anyone else.

Harry was finally free!

As Severus, Lily, and Alice alighted from the train, Harry didn’t even try to hide his wide grin. He knew his hair was cycling through several colors, as he had seen Tonks’s do when she was happy. Severus would chide him for showing his emotions so openly, “like some kind of Gryffindor,” but Harry didn’t care. Finally, truly, Harry was completely happy.