T-tom," Harry stutters into the phone, trying to quell the panic rising in him. "C-can you come get me, please? I'm in town, still."
Harry hates bothering Tom. Ever since Tom found Harry that day while he was in little mode, things had been different. And while he appreciates that Tom never tells him that he's a bother, Harry knows he is. It's almost midnight and Tom is with his friends. He must have been having such a great time and Harry is so pathetic that he has to interrupt him.
Harry doesn't know where he is. His friends left him at a car park and he saw some strange looking people so he left. Now, he's standing under a lit street lamp next to an empty A-road. With no cars and no people; it feels safe. A comforting kind of emptiness that only comes after tears have been wept and there is nothing left to say. The cloudless sky looms above Harry as he shivers and clutches his coat tighter to himself.
"I thought your friends were gonna give you a lift back," Tom says. He's already grabbing his wallet and keys and waving a quick goodbye to everyone.
Harry feels the kick in his gut. He is interrupting Tom's night. He can't even do one thing right. He tried hard to be independent tonight.
Tom had been watching a football match with his friends at Barty's apartment. He thought it would be good to do while Harry was out with his friends in town. Harry mentioned something about messing around and going out for dinner.
"They-they were b-but they... it turns out they had already taken up all the seats in the— in the car," Harry explains, tears welling in his eyes. "So I said I would get the bus but they're all out of service." His voice wavers and tears cascade down his cheeks. "I didn't know what else to do."
Tom pauses. "Are you alone right now?" He asks. His voice is dangerous.
His baby is all on his own in the middle of town with no way of getting home. Everything is shut apart from nightclubs; meaning. there will be drunks wandering around. The town at this time of night is not a safe place to be. Especially not for Harry.
"Uh... yeah." He admits. "I know you said to never be alone at night and I tried to stay with them. I thought I had it all figured out but I— but I—," Harry bursts into tears.
Tom sighs; his heart breaking at the sound of Harry crying. "Okay, honey, I'm coming to get you. Where are you right now?"
"I... I don't know. I'm really scared, daddy."
Tom's care giver instincts are initiated. He sprints down the steps of his Barty's apartment building. It's a special kind of fear that fills him; it starts as numb extremities. He can't feel as his feet pound the pavement or how his fingers fumble for his keys. In turn, that turns to a fiery power that transcends protectiveness.
"You're okay, gorgeous." Tom assures him. "What can you see?"
"There's a carpark. And there's a music instrument shop. And— and there's a bus stop next to me and there's a building with red shutters over the doors and... and the windows are lined with red, too." Harry explains, trying to see through his tears. He's all alone on the street and it worries him. Anything could happen.
"Okay, baby I think I know where you are. Turn the corner to your left and there should be Tesco." Tom instructs. He runs through the car park and jumps in his car.
Harry follows the instructions and tries to control his breathing. "I-okay... yeah. There is."
"Okay, good boy, you're doing so well for me. Tell me exactly where you are stood." Tom puts his seatbelt on one handed and starts the car.
"Standing outside the big Tesco. Next to the shutters." Harry remembers Tom saying something about standing at entrances. Something about being seen by many people.. He assumes it's the same even if the shop is closed.
"Okay, gorgeous, I'll be there in ten minutes. Don't talk to anyone, don't make eye contact with anyone and if anyone approaches you then run." Tom has to calm his own heart before driving so he doesn't accidentally run anyone off the road.
"Okay." Harry says, sniffling.
Tom pulls up outside of Tesco (in a bus lane but let's not talk about that). Then he calls Harry into the car through the open window. Harry opens the door and looks at Tom before sitting inside. Tom once told him to do that just to be safe and Harry wants to make his daddy proud.
Tom undoes his seat belt and pulls Harry onto his lap. He doesn't say anything for a while, squeezing Harry with his face buried in his neck. He needs to ground himself and know that Harry is safe in his arms. After a little while, he lets go and taps Harry's bum to tell him to move back over. He does and they both belt up.
Safe inside Tom's car with smooth, leather seats and the smell of his daddy - Harry can kind of relax. Harry knows enough about his daddy to know that a set jaw is a bad sign. If that's not clue enough, then the way he careers around corners is. Daddy is mad at him so he curls up into a ball - knees to chest - and keeps his eyes low so he won't look at Tom and start sobbing.
Harry's night had been going so well. He had met up with Hermione and Ron with a few other common friends. No one told him that some friends of those friends that Harry didn't know would be coming so that was a surprise. They shopped for a bit, he waited outside of the changing room Hermione was in and helped her decide what to buy. It was inevitable that got dragged into the changing room to help her into some clothes. He didn't mind but he kinda wished the cute guy in the next changing room would smirk at him. (Not that it matters as he's only got eyes for a certain care giver). Harry saw Hermione's bralette and said how pretty it was. She obviously saw through him and promised that they would go buy some together another time. She's his closest friend (along with Tom) as they went to school together. So there's not a single thing she doesn't know about him; this includes his fondness for feminine clothes.
Then they'd gone to dinner at some Italian place and Harry sat with Hermione and Ron. They had to leave early due to a flight the next morning. That left Merlin with his close friends and some strangers. He endeavoured to make friends with the new comers but they didn't try to hide that they didn't like him. His friends couldn't pick up on it. But that's because most of them were gruff men who don't pick up on the passive aggressive compliments. One of the new people hadn't brought her purse and - because he was tired and a little regressed - he paid for her dinner.
That same woman was the one who took his seat in the car , convincing Neville that she had messaged him to say she needed a lift. Neville scanned his messages, gave Harry a whispered apology and accepted her lies. Neville had a crush on her. Typical. Harry knew then that he'd have to lie to Hermione or she'd commit homicide. Nev doesn't exactly know about Harry's age regression so it wasn't his fault. To be fair, Harry wouldn't feel right about leaving this girl out in the dark and cold. She'd be even more vulnerable than he was.
"Daddy... are you mad at me?" Merlin whispers. He really doesn't want Arthur to be angry; Merlin really tried to be good tonight.
Tom relaxes at the quiet words, taking a tense hand off the steering wheel to place it on Harry's knee. "No, baby. It's not your fault and you did so well for me tonight." He rubs his thumb in circles until he has to move it to change gear as they merge onto the motorway. "In fact," Tom smiles as he returns his hand to Harry's knee. " I think you deserve a treat for being such a good little boy."
At this, Harry gasps. "Really? Thank you, daddy!"
Tom takes his hand back so he can actually use it for driving. He's comforted by the knowledge that Harry is distracted by the promise of a treat. It's definitely not Harry's fault that his friends are assholes. It's not safe for such a pretty little boy to be out on his own so late.
"Of course, kitten, what would you like? You can pick anything from the list." Tom promises.
Harry widens his eyes and claps in joy; already falling into his headspace. "Anything?" He repeats, hardly believing his ears.
"Anything." Tom confirms.
Harry rememberers everything on the list - the punishments but the treats especially. He flicks through the rolladex of good things and picks one. It's one that he's not tried to redeem yet seeing as normally daddy picks the reward. And tonight seems like a good night for it but... but it is almost eleven at night and if he chooses 'spend the night with daddy' then he's missing out on a few hours of cuddles. He bites his lip. But he wants cuddles right now. It's worth it.
"Uh, daddy?" Harry asks, voice quiet and wavering.
Tom glances over to the diffident boy with a curious frown. "Yes, sweetheart?"
"Can I..." Harry struggles with the words to ask. He's overcome with shyness. "I know what I want... Can I sleep in your bed tonight? With you?"
Tom's eyebrows shoot up in surprise. He didn't think Harry would ever want that. They only put it on the list because Harry found it online and thought it would look good on the page. For structure, of course, Harry insisted.
"You sure? You don't want to wait until we get home so you can look at the list?" He asks, as a precaution. He wouldn't mind sleeping with Harry, it would be quite nice to have someone else to make his bed warm.
Harrh looks over with big eyes and bitten lips. "I don't have to sleep in your bed if you don't want to. I can pick another one." He says, reading between the lines.
Tom realises his mistake. "No, no, baby. That's not what I meant. Of course you can sleep with me tonight." He reaches over and squeezes his knee to solidify his reassurance.
"Can I has apple juice?" Harry asks. He's sitting on the kitchen floor and leaning against his daddy's leg while Tom grabs a mug from the cupboard.
Tom cards his fingers through Harry's hair. "No, gorgeous, it's too late for that much sugar." His voice is soft with the light chastise; careful not to upset the poor little. He's been through enough today.
Harry pouts so Tom uses his first finger and thumb to squeeze his lips gently into a horizontal line. Harry tries not to laugh but can't keep a lid on his giggles. His lips escape Tom's grasp as they move to let the sound out. Tom smiles and gets the milk out of the fridge. He fills up the mug and puts it in the microwave - set for a two minutes.
"Okay, baby, we're gonna go get you into some comfy pjs and get your teeth brushed. Then we're gonna get into bed and you'll drink your warm milk and we'll cuddle and go to sleep. That sound good to you?" Tom says, watching the boy rub his face against his thigh.
Tom only gets a mumbled affirmative as an answer. If it was any other time then Tom would coax the words out of him. But, looking at the clock, it's almost midnight so he can't blame Harry for not talking.
He helps Harry off the floor and takes his hand, guiding him to Harry's bedroom. He helps Harry into his cow onesie; zipping it up even though the boy said he could do it himself. They walk into the bathroom so Tom can brush Harry's teeth for him - another little thing that keeps him little. On a normal day, from here, he would put Harry to bed and read him a story.
"I'm going to go get your milk, you go into my bedroom and pick a side of the bed." Tom says, placing his hand on the small of Harry's back to encourage him towards the room.
Tom's phone vibrates in his his pocket: Barty. Tom assumes this is to check up on Harry. He's the only one of Tom's friends who knows about Harry's little tendencies. He couldn't have been nicer about it when Harry told him. He had merely inquired about the glitter he'd seen on Harry's face and the boy had admitted that he was crafting. The truth unraveled itself out of Harry's mouth and before he knew it Barty was promising not to tell anyone. He wasn't the best with keeping himself out of trouble but keeping Harry safe and happy is his top priority. If Barty hadn't seen the way Tom's eyes always linger a little too long on Harry, then he would have asked Harry out. He quite fancied this whole 'daddy' thing.
"Hey, Barty." Tom greets, continuing towards the kitchen.
"How's Harry?" Is the immediate response. Tom rolls his eyes and, even though he can't see it, Barty knows that he does it.
Tom lets out a chuckle, "Wow, Barty! I'm great, thank you for asking. It's always a pleasure to receive your call and know you care about me." Sometimes people call Tom dramatic. Quite frankly , he doesn't see it.
"Shut up. How's my little prince?" Barty sighs but Tom can hear the smirk.
The well intentioned joke makes Tom twist his mouth as he replies. "My little prince is just fine. His friends left him alone in town, though, so I'm trying to quell my homicidal thoughts."
Barty is definitely smirking now. "Yeah? And how's that going?"
Tom grimaces. "Not well. If Harry ever invites them around, I'm not sure I'll manage to keep the knives in the draws."
Barty laughs and he hears some rustling on the line. Crisps. Typical. He always eats salty food when he drinks. Once, they went clubbing with Harry and he ended up licking Harry and telling him he was delicious. This put Harry straight into little space so they had to leave. The poor boy apologised profusely for it in the morning, saying that he'd ruined Tom's night as he always does. That day had included a lot of reassurances.
"Well, if you ever need a partner in crime - you know you only have to say." Barty then gasps. "We should come up with a code word in case you do actually want to kill them and we have to be subtle!"
Tom smiles at his enthusiasm. "How about 'operation: kill all of Harry's friends apart from Granger and Weasley because they are nice and I like them'." He suggests. "It has a nice ring to it."
"Yeah, yeah, but I was thinking more along the lines of 'tranquillise Harry's wolves'." Barty suggests.
Tom isn't quite sure if he's being serious or not so decides to laugh and end the conversation. He's much too tired to deal with Barty. "Whatever you want, mate. Thanks for calling but I'll speak to you more tomorrow. I have a reward to give him."
"No problem, Tom. Glad Harry's okay. Send him my love. Goodnight!" Barty says.
Tom hears the crunch of a crisp then the line shuts off.
After pocketing his phone his phone, he tests the temperature of Harry's milk. It's gone a little cold so he decides to put it back in for another thirty seconds. This gives him time to prepare himself. He's never slept in the same bed as someone else in a platonic way. It's going to be a somewhat new experience. He knows Harry will want to cuddle up and Tom wants that more than anything tonight. He needs to have his baby boy in his arms so he knows he's safe.
He stops the microwave at one second; a force of habit he's picked up since living with Harry. He doesn't like the loud noise. He carries the milk into his bedroom to see Harry on the right side of the bed, leaving Tom with his normal side. He's thankful. Harry probably did that on purpose - the thoughtful little sod.
The room is lit up by the bedside lamp on Tom's side. It baths Harry in a gorgeous soft light and, as he's all snuggled into the duvet, he looks like he could actually be a child.
"Here you go, my little puppy." He smiles, putting Harry's milk on the bedside table next to the boy.
Harry giggles at the nickname - it's one of his favourites. Tom only calls him that when he's wearing the wolf onesie so he makes it a priority to wear it as much as possible.
"Thank you, daddy." Harry whispers. He sits up and waits for Tom to get settled so the bed doesn't shake while he's trying to drink.
Harry struggles to drink, as it is, in his headspace let alone with the battle against a moving floor.
"Do you need help, little one?" Tom asks and, even though he's not sure he does, Harry nods. "Okay, give it to me then."
Harry hands the mug over and settles against Tom's chest as they lean against the headboard. Tom wraps his arm around Harry and puts the mug to his lips letting him take sips.
As Harry drinks, Tom praises him gently. "Good boy, such a good little pup. You did so well for me today. I'm really proud of you."
Harry breaks to lick some milk that has trickled down his chin. "You we're gone for a long time." He points out. So long that Harry thought he was regretting his decision of sleeping with him.
"Oh, I'm sorry, baby." Tom says, petting Harry's hair.. "Barty called to check up on you."
Harry gasps and looks up to Tom with a milk moustache. "Really?"
Tom chuckles and wipes it off with his sleeve. A tiny, estranged part of his brain says to do it with his lips so he quashes that immediately.
"Yeah. You know how he is. So protective over you." Tom says, trying not to notice how his heart pangs with hurt.
Harry giggles. "Yeah! I love Barty!." He laughs into his milk which causes bubbles to form and it distracts him as he tries to make more.
"And Barty loves you, too." Tom watches Harry almost wistfully for a second before he goes back into daddy mode. "Come on, pup, drink it sensibly."
Harry giggles as Tom wipes off the mess he's made with the popping bubbles all over his face. His sleeve carefully brushes his face so as not to harm the wonderfully soft skin there.
Harry catches Tom off guard, just as he's booping his nose. "I love you more, though. You're my favourite."
Tom frantically wants to ask him 'favourite what!' but he doesn't let that through his lips. Instead, he revels in the new found information.
"You're my favourite, too." He admits. It's completely true. It doesn't have to be specific. Harry is probably his favourite person in the world. His favourite collection of cells in the solar system. Harry finishes and puts the mug back on the bedside table. They get settled with their heads on the pillows and Harry snuggles into Tom's chest. He's so happy here. This is definitely his favourite reward.
"You did so well today, baby." Tom praises. "I'm so proud of you."
Harry looks up to him with wide eyes. "Really?"
" Really. I'm so happy you called me. That was really smart of you." Tom cards his fingers through Harry's soft locks.
Harry pushes his head into Tom's hands like a cat and purrs, "Thank you, daddy. For picking me up and not being mad."
"I'll never be mad at you for something that happens through no fault of your own." Tom promises. "I will be having strong words with Longbottom tomorrow."
Harry's eyes blow wide. "Please don't, daddy!" He begs. "There was a girl who didn't have a way of getting home so he took her. Daddy, she was even more vulnerable than I was - she didn't even have her purse!"
Tom frowns. "Then how did she pay for dinner?"
Harry blushes and it reaches his ears in the way it always does when he's caught red-handed. "I paid, daddy."
Tom sighs and laments Harry's good heart. "That was very nice of you, but you're not to do it again. She left her purse on purpose and assumed someone would pick up after her."
Harry nods into Tom's chest. "I know, daddy, but I didn't know what else to do. I... she was looking at me like... Like..."
"Like a dog at a shelter?" Tom offers. Harry gives him to exact same look when he wants something.
"Yeah! But like... after I bought her she'd bite me." Harry mumbles dejectedly.
Tom gives a deep sigh which moves Harry's head up and down with his chest. "Okay, pup. I don't want you to spend any more time with her."
"Me neither." Harry admits with a glint in his eye.
"Anyway, we should go to sleep now. You've had a tiring day." Tom says, only getting a hum of agreement.
Tom turns the lamp off and feels Harry cling to him a little tighter. He pulls him close and lets the boy snuggle up to him even more. This might be Tom's favourite reward.