Harry was never one for making smart decisions. ‘Impulsive’ was practically his middle name, sanity be damned.
So, it was no surprise that he found himself very much awake at four in the morning.
Harry grinned as he stared wide-eyed at his phone screen, fist clenched in mouth to stifle an undignified scream because oh gods above, the fanfic he was reading had reached a very exciting climax.
The story in question was written by Harry's favorite author—Lord_Voldemort_. The man was a revered James/Marvolo author, capable of capturing a variety of genres and tropes like no other. Harry had obsessively read and reread all of Lord_Voldemort’s fics and knew that better than anyone else.
As a fanfiction writer himself, Harry could truly recognize and worship Lord_Voldemort_'s unparalleled knack for imagery and his nuanced characterization of James and Marvolo. In the Slytherin Wins AU that Harry was reading, Lord_Voldemort_'s writing was at its best. For the sake of Harry’s cranky roommate, Tom, he had to quell a fanboy shriek of delight more than once during this chapter. Lord_Voldemort_ was just that good.
Was James going to break out of captivity? Would Lord Slytherin finally kill James for his transgressions?
Harry was breathless with anticipation.
He finished the chapter in an embarrassingly short time before rushing to the comments section to see what other readers were saying. Predictably, they were appreciatively agonizing over the cliffhanger, and some had taken to writing thorough, essay-like comments to express their admiration. As always, Harry typed out a lengthy, emphatic rant of his own, stopping only once he reached the Ao3 character limit.
'Hi there, Lord_Voldemort_! It's your favorite lightning_boi, here to shower you with confetti and praise because Damn, this was an absolute masterpiece as always...'
Once finished, he closed the browser with a small, satisfied sigh and switched to his Discord app. He paused briefly in the Chamber of Secrets Jarvolo server to skim through what others were saying about Voldemort's latest work —" omg that chapter has me D E A D", "holy shit, Marvolo is going to be pissed as hell", "choke me please, daddy Slytherin" — before moving on to scroll through his DMs. His eyes scanned the screen hastily, searching for a specific name.
There were 21 unread messages, but most of them were from his Chamber of Secrets friends. HeadGirl, RoonilWazlib, ChoAegyo, Gred and Forge... the usual. He scrolled down until he saw the DM thread he was looking for.
That's right. Harry was Discord friends with his favorite author. Even now, months after he’d become acquainted with Lord_Voldemort_, he still got ridiculously happy inside about it.
The friendship had been an unexpected happening— Harry had been part of LV's secret Discord server for some while under the alias of Hadrian_Evans. One day, dared by Chamber of Secrets friend, RoonilWazlib, Harry had DM'd Voldemort.
Harry hadn't expected LV to actually reply. He still didn’t know whether it was out of boredom or curiosity, but either way, Lord_Voldemort_ had messaged him back. Needless to say, he’d actually screamed aloud when he had seen that LV replied.
They had struck up an unexpectedly strong friendship, largely due to the way their personalities balanced each other out. Where Harry was emotive and excited, Voldemort was reserved and thoughtful. Even Harry's pun-prone, cracky sense of humor was nicely matched by Voldemort's dry wit and reluctant amusement.
>> lightning_boi: Ok I know you're probably asleep by now, but I just wanted to drop by and say that the latest chapter of Succumb is so. good.
>> lightning_boi: It's getting late so I'll avoid spamming you with a kind-of repeat of my comment on the chapter but
>> lightning_boi: Let me just say that you really outdid yourself this chapter. Oh my lord , I was honestly at the edge of my seat reading this. I mean, I was at the edge of my bed , but that’s a technicality.
Harry was about to turn off his phone and go to sleep, but at that moment he saw a little tab pop up from the chatbox.
Lord_Voldemort_ is typing...
Suddenly, Harry was wide awake.
>> Lord_Voldemort_: Good morning. It's absolutely wonderful to see you awake at 4 am.
>> lightning_boi: Omg hi!!! I didn't think you'd still be awake!
>>Lord_Voldemort_: Neither did I. My roommate kept thrashing around all night, and I'm too much of a light sleeper to deal with that sort of ruckus in the background.
Harry grinned a little to himself. Lord_Voldemort_ had complained about his roommate numerous times to Harry – He's always on his phone, his hair is perpetually messy, I can't stand his inexhaustible cheer, I've never met anyone so unable to take care of himself, do you know how many times I've had to tuck him in because he's kicked his blankets off in his sleep?
Tuck-ins, really ? Even Harry could hear the fondness in Lord_Voldemort_'s numerous, exasperated complaints. He couldn't believe the man's roommate hadn't caught on yet; Hermione always insisted Harry was oblivious, but at least he wasn't as clueless as the mysterious roommate.
Truth be told, he always felt somewhat bittersweet when he heard about Lord_Voldemort_'s dormmate. Harry would get this little ache in his chest at the thought of Lord_Voldemort_ spending so much time with someone else.
He shook his head abruptly to clear his thoughts. Harry, snap out of it. He's not yours. Be grateful he even talks to you.
And so he plastered on a cheery smile, never mind the fact that Lord_Voldemort_ wouldn't be able to see his expression anyways.
>> lightning_boi: Ahhh, it's that roommate again. Mmmm, I think we both know exactly what you really think of him :lenny:
>> Lord_Voldemort_: I detest that emote. I don't like what your message is implying, lightning.
>> lightning_boi: I don't hear a denial, my Lord :joy: :lenny:
>> Lord_Voldemort_: Cease this nonsense at once. If you must know, I merely see my roommate as a bothersome human disaster.
>> lightning_boi: Suuuure
>> Lord_Voldemort_: I rue the day that you became comfortable enough to forsake proper courtesy and grammar in our conversations.
Harry nearly snorted aloud at that. Whenever Lord_Voldemort_ spoke like a 1920’s conservative, Harry had a hard time believing that Lord_Voldemort_ was a university student like him.
>> lightning_boi: Lmaooo why do you talk like that
>> Lord_Voldemort_: Like a coherent person, you mean? It's because someone around here has to do it, especially when you resolutely insist upon being such a millennial.
>> lightning_boi: ...aren’t we the same age??
>> lightning_boi: I've only met one person as stuffy as you, and that's my roommate.
>> Lord_Voldemort_: If so, they sound much more manageable than my own roommate. Speaking of which, he was laughing just now. What sort of crazed child giggles at this hour in the morning?
>> lightning_boi: Your repeated references to the time lead me to believe that you'd like to sleep now, oopsieee
>> lightning_boi: I'll stop distracting you, go get that rest!! Goodmornight and sweet dreams <3
>> Lord_Voldemort_: You too, lightning.
Harry turned off his phone and put it aside with a satisfied sigh. He burrowed into the sheets, filled with a happy warmth that always came with his interactions with Lord_Voldemort_. It didn't take long for him to fall asleep.
Of course, if Harry had been a little more attentive to what was happening across the room, he would've noticed that his dormmate, Tom Riddle, had been avidly messaging on Discord too.
Harry trudged into his 7 am Economics class with darker eyebags and messier hair than usual. His alarm hadn't gone off for some reason, and if it wasn't for Tom irritably shaking him awake exactly fourteen (14) minutes before class started, he would have missed it entirely.
Tom, that stupidly perfect wanker, looked just fine despite getting up unusually late as well— Harry was able to discern this from Tom’s resentful mutterings on their way to class together. His hair was handsomely coiffed, skin as flawless as ever, and his outfit more stylish than anything Harry could ever manage. Then again, only Tom would ever bother wearing full-on business casual to morning classes.
"What are you looking at me for?" Came Tom's voice, startling Harry out of his reverie. Tom was staring at him, unimpressed, but there was no real heat to his question.
"I wasn't. I was, uh, just staring into space," Harry fibbed hastily, although he knew his pinkening cheeks were a dead giveaway. "Who'd want to look at you for fun?"
Tom glanced at Harry over the rim of his coffee cup. Caffè Americano, Harry thought to himself. He knew Tom too well to not know his classic order.
"There's no need to get so defensive, Harry," Tom drawled lazily. "Keep this up and I might think you're starstruck by my presence."
"I'm just being truthful . The world doesn't revolve you, git," Harry stuttered hotly.
But oh, if only Tom knew how close his teasing was to the truth. Harry had fallen for Tom slowly and quietly over the years. Sharing a dorm and most of their classes for three years straight hadn't made things any better.
Honestly, who wouldn't like Tom? The man’s intelligence, looks, attentiveness, endearingly condescending wit and aura of power were all so attractive.
"You're staring again, darling," said Tom amusedly with a slow smirk. At this, Harry actually felt his face turn red.
This was it. This was how he was going to die. Harry wasn't sure if it would be from Tom's handsome smirk or that term of endearment or Harry's own embarrassment, but his demise was certain.
Mercifully, their professor arrived a moment later, saving Harry from having to reply. Harry spent the entire class in a mortified daze as he mentally replayed his conversation with Tom over and over. More than once, Tom had to nudge Harry to remind him to take notes.
Once class was over, Harry practically fled the lecture hall. He couldn't stand being interrogated by Tom as to why he was so spacey today—it was growing increasingly more difficult to hide his attraction to Tom, and he might cave in if Tom questioned him too closely.
After lunch, Harry ducked inside one of the university library's study rooms. Maybe reading a good fanfic or two during break would clear his mind.
He pulled out his laptop and clicked on the Ao3 tab, which was practically always open. While he loaded the comments on his latest fic – Kudosed, Bookmarked, Subscribed, a fun, meta piece he'd written about the Jarvolo fandom—he scrolled through unread messages on CoS and some of his private servers with friends.
The Chamber of Secrets: #general
>> ChoAegyo: Omg look at this cool pic I found of me in the mornings: [Gif ID: a bleary rabbit tripping headlong into its bed]
>> PseudoRabbit: Bro now you're finding sleepy rabbit gifs? Next time just @ me when you want to call me out like this
>> RedHorse: Gentle callouts are inevitable. Wait until you see the literal meme drei made of my husband and I. It's pinned in #general.
>> Zombuwu: BUNNY omg I crave bunny content... OOGA BOOGA BUNNY STANS FOLLOW ME
>> AngelinaJolie : We know, zombu. When you aren't craving Harry's cake :lenny:, you're after bunny fluff... in more ways than one :maniacal:
>> FermionCat: Speaking of which, I found a tired cat gif. That's me when I spend too long coding or writing. [Gif ID: a bunny falling asleep and tipping to the side in its exhaustion]
>> Wolven_Spirits: Change that to a badger and that's my constant mood :badgana: :hufflepuff: :badger:
>> Stuffle: Wolven, keep this up and I'll code stufflebot into adding bananalion reacts to all your messages. :gryffindor: :elmo: :maniacal:
Harry smiled fondly at the chat. Classic Chamber of Secrets behavior right there—they were all so funny and wholesome. Maybe a little thirsty too (zombu especially), but that was all right.
He chatted with Hermione (HeadGirl) over DMs for a while. They were childhood friends that had stumbled upon Ao3 and Jarvolo together. Technically, Harry was the one who had insistently recommended the James/Marvolo ship to her until she caved, but now she was as active in the fandom as he was and was a fellow mod on the Chamber of Secrets Server.
Harry was about to put his phone down and start eating his lunch when his phone pinged.
1 New Message from Lord_Voldemort_#7171
Sandwich forgotten in hand, Harry hastily swiped open his DMs. He would never tire of talking with Lord_Voldemort_.
>> Lord_Voldemort_: Good afternoon, lightning.
>> lightning_boi: My Lord!!!
>> lightning_boi: Omg I didn't think you'd be online now! Aren't you busy around this time?
>> Lord_Voldemort_: Usually, yes. I prefer to remain offline during the day, particularly during lunch. I typically dine with my roommate and his presence can be rather... consuming. Hence, I wouldn't be able to talk with him and chat on discord at the same time.
Ah. So it was the roommate again .
>> lightning_boi: But you're online now?
>> lightning_boi: Also wow, look at you sharing personal details about yourself :joy: that's unusual, isn't it?
>> Lord_Voldemort_: I'm a private person and you know that. And as for why I'm online... well . Something happened and I must ask for your advice.
Harry felt a jolt of alarm. Something happened? It really was uncharacteristic for Lord_Voldemort_ to be so frank about his roommate, let alone disclose information about his real life.
>> Lord_Voldemort_: As much as it pains me to admit this, you are surprisingly adept at understanding impulsive, infuriating persons such as my dormmate. Perhaps because you are quite brash yourself.
>> lightning_boi: Oi! I'll have you know that I'm quite sensible. Sometimes.
>> lightning_boi: Also, go for it! I'll listen to your manly woes anytime.
>> Lord_Voldemort: ...Glad to hear. I require your assistance with deciphering his recent behavior. He has been acting most peculiarly—spacing out, speaking less, staring at me without realizing it. Today, he didn't even show up for lunch.
Harry's heart gave a little twinge in sympathy. It sounded like Lord_Voldemort_ really was stumped this time— he could practically hear the man's valiantly-masked disappointment.
>> lightning_boi: Uh I hate to break this to you, but it sounds like he likes you.
>> Lord_Voldemort_: Impossible.
>> Lord_Voldemort_: I find it highly improbable that someone would deliberately avoid the object of their affections. What a nonsensical approach towards romance that would be.
>> lightning_boi: Nonsensical? To you, maybe. But to other people less logical? Less self-assured? It would be the most natural response.
>> lightning_boi: I think that he's
>> lightning_boi: I dunno
>> lightning_boi: I feel like he's into you and doesn't really know how to deal with it. Remember when the roommate got caught scrolling through your instagram? Or when he got all awkward after you got asked out last year? Everything you’ve told me so far adds up.
There was a long pause from the other end. Had Harry gone too far? Was Lord_Voldemort_ unhappy with Harry's response?
Just when Harry began to think Lord_Voldemort_ had left, his phone pinged again.
>> Lord_Voldemort_: If what you're saying is true, this would be a most... complex development. Albeit, I'm still not fully convinced of your hypothesis.
>> lightning_boi: Whew I thought you were pissed at me there for a sec.
>> Lord_Voldemort_: I could never be truly angry with you, lightning ;]
Harry almost had a heart attack when he saw that smirk. Good God. It always managed to make him feel all fluttery inside, soaring and confused and hopeful. Somehow, the man was able to evoke a thousand emotions within Harry with just a few words.
Lord_Voldemort_ really reminded him of Tom in that aspect.
>> lightning_boi: That smirk emoticon is going to be the death of me one day.
>> Lord_Voldemort_: As it should be. And before I forget—do you have any tips as to how I should approach my roommate about his supposed attraction?
>> lightning_boi: Hm
>> lightning_boi: I don't know about your roommate, but if I were them, I'd be really spooked if you suddenly brought it up.
>> lightning_boi: Maybe just talk to them like you don't know anything and watch their reaction closely?
>> lightning_boi: This might be easier to do over messages, come to think of it. When was the last time you texted them?
>> Lord_Voldemort_: Not that long ago. We keep in touch over messages when we aren't physically together.
>> lightning_boi: Aww that's so sweet omg!! Yeah for sure text them right now. It won't be too out-of-the-blue that way.
>> Lord_Voldemort_: What should I say to them?
>> lightning_boi: Idk, maybe ask them if they want to talk, but don't phrase it in a super serious way or they'll get paranoid.
>> Lord_Voldemort_: I planned to ask them out to lunch. Would that be sufficiently informal?
>> lightning_boi: Oooh yeah that defo works!!
>> Lord_Voldemort: Thank you for the advice, even if I'm not entirely certain that your interpretation of events is correct.
>> lightning_boi: Cautious as ever, eh? And aww no prob! Glad to help anytime.
>> Lord_Voldemort_: I'm going offline now to text them. Talk to you later, lightning.
>> lightning_boi: Ttyl too! And yessss go get 'em, tiger!
>> Lord_Voldemort_: I will ;]
Lord_Voldemort_ has disconnected.
Harry put down his phone with a sigh. He was strangely... conflicted over the budding romance he'd witnessed in Lord_Voldemort_'s life.
It wasn't that he was jealous or, heaven forbid, attracted to the amazing, thoughtful, talented and god-tier writer. No, not at all. Nope. Not a chance.
Maybe he was troubled since he was effectively a third-wheeler now? Harry chuckled to himself a little. Look at you, Harry. Don't be silly; hurry up and get yourself together.
Before Harry could start reciting his Happy Thoughts, his phone dinged, bringing him back to the present.
2 New Text Messages from TomTom Mcthottie 💀
TomTom Mcthottie 💀 12:31 pm: I didn't see you at lunch today, Harry. Do you want to go out to eat tomorrow to make up for it?
TomTom Mcthottie 💀 12:31 pm: To be clear, that wasn't really a question. I demand that you atone for your lunch-skipping sins.
Harry smiled amusedly at that. Classic Tom, acting with his trademark haughtiness.
Harry 12:32 pm: I'll go only if the meal's on you.
TomTom Mcthottie 💀 12:32 pm: … Deal.
Harry glanced at the clock and realized with a start that there were only 10 minutes before his next class. He hastily texted Tom goodbye and stuffed his things into his bag.
He was halfway out the library when a sudden thought struck him.
Huh . Hadn't Lord_Voldemort_ said he'd message his roommate about getting lunch too...? Harry paused for a second, mulling it over before shrugging and walking off.
The world sure was full of crazy coincidences sometimes.