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Harry sighed, his breath misting up the window which he was sat beside.

It was almost midnight, and the New Year’s Eve party in the eighth year dorm was in full swing, with pounding music and loud laughter. Harry hadn’t wanted to join his friends; they were all going as couples, and he hated feeling like a spare wheel. Not to mention that he also felt a bit jealous.

After Voldemort, Harry and Ginny found that they just weren’t suited to each other romantically any more, and Ginny was happy with Neville now. Following Ginny, Harry had started an angry, hate-snogging fuelled semi-relationship with Draco Malfoy after Harry came to terms with the fact that he was bisexual. Harry’s fling with Draco failed, too, because Draco wanted sex but nothing more substantial, while Harry craved a bond or proper connection between them.

Since then, Harry had been moping around. He had been acting so miserably that Luna had even bought him a book for Christmas entitled, ‘Finding True Love’, which had been written by a great-aunt of hers, who - ironically - never married.

Harry had thanked Luna when he opened it in front of her, then rolled his eyes behind her back, but somehow he found himself flicking through it as his friends celebrated New Year’s without him. Most of the book was pretty strange, citing which herbs would make someone smell attractive to potential lovers, or spells to stop a person’s soulmate finding love until they met their ‘destined’.

There was one thing that Harry couldn’t help but find intriguing, however - it was an incantation that claimed to show the reader who their soulmate was.

The clock was ticking ever closer to midnight, and as Harry heard the music dim and the laughter die down, he knew that the couples were getting ready to share a kiss as the clock chimed twelve. His stomach clenched uncomfortably, even though he knew he should be glad that his friends were happy.

There wasn’t much to the incantation, and what harm would it do giving it a try? If it was nonsense, Harry would just have to make more of an effort in finding somebody, but if the spell ended up being true, at least he’d know there was someone out there who could make him as happy as his friends were.

There was a minute to go until midnight, and Harry had made his mind up. Pulling out his wand, Harry pushed the window open and breathed in the fresh, cold air.

Siroma murev ihim ad,” Harry cast, not sure what to expect next. Perhaps an image of his soulmate would appear, or their name would become clear in Harry’s mind. Or maybe the incantation was just bull and nothing at all would come of it.

Harry could hear his friends counting down now, and he couldn’t help but feel a stab of disappointment that nothing had happened.

There was eight seconds til midnight, and Harry wondered whether he should go down and show his face so that he didn’t seem a complete misery.

Harry took a step forwards with five seconds to go, and almost stumbled as a strange jolt shot through his stomach. He gasped, clutching his middle as his head felt fuzzy all of a sudden, leaving him only aware of his friends shouting the last few numbers in the countdown.

At the word ‘one’, the room started spinning, dragging Harry with it. He was lost in a blur of colours, and then he was falling - falling for hours, it seemed, though it was probably only seconds - until he landed roughly on something soft and warm.

Everything had stopped spinning now, but Harry still had to bury his head in his hands as he tried to wait out the nausea and the headache that had come on.

Then someone cleared their throat - someone very close by - and all sense of disorientation vanished as Harry realised just what he had landed on. He moved his hands away from his face and turned his head to apologise to the person whose lap he had landed on - and when he saw who it was, he quickly jumped away from him and drew his wand.

“What the fuck?” Harry hissed, staring with wide eyes at Tom Riddle, of all people. “You’re dead! You’re supposed to be dead!”

“Strange that,” Tom murmured, his dark green eyes trailing up and down Harry’s form. “I was under the impression that I was very much alive.”

“How did you do it?” Harry demanded, his wand shaking in his unsteady grip. He wasn’t sure why he hadn’t tried hexing Tom yet, but there was something strong urging him not to. “Was there one we missed? How are you alive?”

They had all been so sure that all the Horcruxes were destroyed, but there had to have been one that none of them knew about. Yet rather than the monstrous snake-like form of Voldemort, why had he been returned into the youthful form of Tom Riddle? He couldn’t be older than twenty, still as devilishly handsome as he had been in the Pensieve memories.

“Living is greatly possible if you haven’t yet died,” Tom drawled, finally drawing his own wand but not yet making a move to cast against Harry. “It’s a pity; a boy somehow manages to break past all of my Wards to land in my very lap, yet he ends up insane. I had rather hoped you were intelligent.”

Harry’s cheeks burned, despite his confusion. Tom was acting like he had never seen Harry before, but perhaps that was just a trick to try and lower Harry’s guard.

“I’m not insane,” Harry insisted, his gaze not leaving Tom’s face.

“You’ve given me no reason to believe otherwise,” Tom stated plainly, and before Harry could even realise what was happening he had been disarmed, his wand flying straight into Tom’s grip.

None of what was happening made any sense. Voldemort had always been creepily obsessed with Harry, and would never have missed a chance to humiliate or torture him. Even if Voldemort had regained his youthful looks, surely he wouldn’t have regained his old personality and a tad more sanity. But then, how was Harry here with him?

Then he remembered - the soulmate reveal incantation. But surely - surely - something had gone horrifically wrong with the spell; that it had become confused, perhaps by lingering traces of Tom’s soul that had clung to Harry’s.

Knowing he was wandless and helpless, and with no way for things to get any worse, Harry finally drew his gaze away from Tom’s face to study his surroundings. He was in a small study, with a wall lined with bookshelves, a red, velvet armchair, and a desk - and on that desk was a newspaper.

Tom still hadn’t hexed Harry, so Harry had no qualms in running to the desk and grabbing the newspaper.

There was a photo of a much younger looking Dumbledore on the front cover - another dead man - and there in the corner was what Harry had been looking for. The newspaper slipped from his fingers and dropped back onto the desk as the date 31st December, 1945 swam in Harry’s mind.

“Is that today’s date?” Harry asked softly, not looking back as he heard Tom approaching him.

Tom pressed up close behind Harry, one arm leaning past Harry’s side to splay his hand across the newspaper. Harry had to shut his eyes for a moment, suddenly finding it hard to breathe.

“As of five minutes ago, it was yesterday’s,” Tom answered, his nails drawing a sharp line down the newspaper-Dumbledore’s face. “What reason does a boy have for not knowing the date?”

“My name is Harry,” Harry said through gritted teeth, “and my business is my own.”

“Your business became mine as soon as you broke through my Wards and landed in my lap,” Tom retorted sharply, but his form softened behind Harry. “I’ve a spare room you can use; I doubt someone as confused as you has somewhere to go.”

Harry spun around, and immediately wished he hadn’t; he was now trapped between the desk and Tom, with Tom’s imposing height making Harry feel very small indeed.

“I,” Harry started, swallowing to make sure he sounded confident. “I don’t need to stay here. I’m going to find Dumbledore and he’ll see me home.”

“There’s no going home for someone in your situation, dear Harry,” Tom said, one corner of his mouth lifting slightly.

“And what situation is that?” Harry retorted, holding himself as tall as he could.

“You tell me,” Tom said, raising a brow and fixing Harry with a knowing look which had Harry tugging at his collar.

“Besides,” Tom continued when Harry refused to answer him. “The man just defeated Grindelwald and thus has a lot of enemies. How do you propose to get close to him - wandless, might I add - without being admitted to an asylum for madness? You’d be wise to stay here.”

“Why? So you can kill me?” Harry mustered up the sharpest glare he could, but Tom didn’t seem deterred.

“Wherever would you get the idea that I’m a killer?” Tom enquired, sounding entirely innocent even though they both knew he was anything but. If it was 1946, then Tom had just turned nineteen, and had already murdered at least four people. “How about you stay with me, and if I deem you trustworthy enough I’ll return your wand? In the meantime, you can get over your - what I’m sure is only temporary - insanity, and then you can see Dumbledore if you still believe he can fix everything.”

Harry hated to admit that Tom had him trapped. Without a wand Harry would get nowhere, and he didn’t even have money on him to buy a new one. And Harry could hardly just go waltzing into Hogwarts; if he broke in somehow he’d just make himself seem untrustworthy.

Harry knew full well that Tom had ulterior motives, but he was offering Harry board, and if was planning to kill Harry he’d have probably done it already. Tom obviously had suspicions about Harry’s time-travel issue, but he didn’t know what Harry knew; that gave Harry a budding advantage.

Perhaps staying in the past with Tom would give Harry a chance to stop him before he ever became Voldemort.

So Harry accepted Tom’s offer of residence, and spent the rest of the night wide awake and trying not to think about what it meant that he had searched for his soulmate and ended up in the past with Tom Riddle.

***

Life in the 1940s wasn’t all that different to the 1990s.

People still bustled about in the streets, women chatted, and children played; couples sat in cafes, and Gringotts stood tall and gleaming - well maybe that part was different seeing as Harry hadn’t broken in and escaped by dragon yet. Obviously fashions had changed, and the brooms and cauldrons were simpler, but Diagon Alley appeared to be otherwise timeless.

Tom had woken Harry in the morning and told him that he’d have to accompany him to work at Borgin and Burkes. Though Harry wasn’t thrilled about the prospect of spending the day in the dreary shop, it at least meant that Tom hadn’t murdered Hepzibah Smith yet - he had quit his job only after killing her, which meant Tom only had two Horcruxes currently.

Nobody spared them a second glance as they turned into Knockturn Alley, the stigma of the place apparently not an issue in their current time period. It was strange considering how Grindelwald had been so very prominent, but perhaps Voldemort being so British-focused had led to the greater stigma growing later in time.

Tom stopped abruptly, prompting Harry to walk into him. “Stay close to me,” Tom hissed. “A pretty boy like you is gold dust to the hags down here.”

“How do you avoid them every day, then?” Harry muttered bitterly, unamused at being called a ‘pretty boy’, until Tom smirked and he realised what he had just said. “Er, I mean-”

“Just don’t stray, dear,” Tom said firmly, putting a scowl on Harry’s face.

Somehow Tom made the word ‘dear’ endearing and patronising all at once.

The hags and the beggars did indeed leer at him as he followed Tom down Knockturn Alley, but they seemed to give Tom - and thus Harry - a wide berth. Indeed, the lowlifes of Knockturn Alley seemed more afraid of Tom than the innocent public who frequented Diagon Alley.

A bell above the door of Borgin and Burkes chimed as Tom pushed the door open, and an old, short man with lank grey hair appeared.

“Good morning, Caractacus,” Tom greeted, willfully ignoring the sharp glare that his employer was giving Harry.

“Who’s this?” Caractacus wheezed, wiping dusty hands on his shirt. “A friend of yours, Tom?”

“A cousin of Alphard Black,” Tom nodded. “A bastard son of a mistress, you must understand, but his blood still stands.”

“Oh?” Caractacus murmured, his glare softening but his body still tense with suspicion. “My brother Herbert married one of yours. Would that make you Odin’s half-brother, then?”

Orion’s brother, yes,” Harry corrected easily. “I hear he’s to be engaged to Walburga soon.”

“Forgive me,” Caractacus simpered. “I’m an old man; names slip from my mind.”

“He’s to remain with me today,” Tom said, his tone more demanding than any employees should ever be, but he seemed to hold the ability to get away with it. “He’ll be no bother, Caractacus, I assure you.”

Caractacus seemed to consider that for a moment. “Just don’t touch anything, boy,” he said with a nod. “All breakages will be paid for, regardless of the state of your health. I’ll be in the office, Tom; watch the floor for me.”

“Of course,” Tom answered with a cool smile, his role as a dutiful employee played once more. When Caractacus retreated to his office, Tom gestured for Harry to join him behind the front desk. “You’re aware of the Black Family Tree, I see. Was my portrayal of you as an illegitimate bastard far from the truth?”

Harry should know the Black Family Tree - he had spent a long time in Grimmauld Place staring at it, running his finger over the burnt out hole where Sirius’s name had been.

“My parents were married - to each other, that is,” Harry answered curtly.

“Dead or divorced?” Tom pressed, picking up on Harry’s use of the word ‘were’. Tom never missed anything, it seemed.

“Dead,” Harry said, the words ‘because of you’ on the tip of his tongue. His parents wouldn’t have to die if Harry kept on Tom’s good side, though, to give him a chance to defeat him early.

“As are mine,” Tom replied, and he and Tom had it in common that their fathers were dead because Tom had killed them.

The bell chimed as a customer entered, and Harry kept himself to himself as Tom talked animatedly with the customer. Tom was quite fascinating to watch, really, how at ease he made people - people other than Harry - feel comfortable around him, how he seemed to charm people, and make them do what he wanted - in this case buying a piece of jewellery which neither Tom nor the customer would handle without magic.

The shop was surprisingly busy, and while Tom flitted from customer to customer, Harry kept himself occupied with a quill and parchment he had found.

Luna’s great-aunt would be a young woman in this time, and she would hopefully be able to tell Harry more about the soulmate thing. The blurb had said that all spells and ideas were her own, which meant that there was a chance she might be able to undo it.

Dear Ms Lovegood,’ he wrote.

I recently came across an incantation of yours which promised to reveal to me my soulmate. However, I ended up many years away from my own time, and with a supposed soulmate who I have no interest in romantically. What does a soulmate really mean, and can this be undone?

He knew he was revealing a lot, but judging from her book, Luna’s great-aunt was as equally open-minded as Luna. He didn’t sign his name, but knew the reply would be able to find him so long as she used the same owl.

Harry glanced up as the bell above the door chimed again, and almost started at the sight of a large, red-headed woman walking through the door; a woman he had only seen in memories before - Hepzibah Smith.

“Tom!” she declared loudly, striding over to Tom and pulling him into a one-armed hug. Tom seemed to go with it, smiling down at the woman brightly.

“Hepzibah, what a pleasant surprise,” Tom said, sounding very much like a sweet boy visiting his beloved grandmother. “This day was beginning to drag until you appeared.”

“Oh, stop it, Tom,” Hepzibah said fondly. “You’ll make an old woman blush.”

“Old? Hardly,” Tom scoffed, and Hepzibah giggled.

Even though he knew that Tom was only charming the woman so he could later kill her and steal her belongings, Harry still felt a strange surge of jealousy surge through him. His fingers clenched in response, so hard that the quill he was holding snapped in his grasp.

Tom and Hepzibah both looked towards him, and Harry smiled at them politely despite the pain in his hand.

“A work experience boy?” Hepzibah queried.

“A friend of a friend,” Tom answered. “He had a nasty head injury yesterday and I offered to keep an eye on him.”

“You’re very kind, Tom,” Hepzibah said, clapping Tom on the shoulder.

Harry rolled his eyes, brushing splintered bits of quill away from his palms.

“Well, I only popped in to say hello, Tom,” Hepzibah continued. “I’ll be back tomorrow for a browse, but I must meet with my sister soon. Take this, and buy yourself something nice for your hard work.”

She handed Tom over a sack of coins before heading off on her way to meet her sister.

Hepzibah was clearly a fool, drawn in by a smile and kind words, but she didn’t deserve to die. Harry had looked her in the eyes now, and he wouldn’t allow it to happen.

***

“You’re to stay in your room tonight,” Tom told him one night. “I have friends coming over soon and I don’t believe they’ll appreciate your company.”

It was like being with the Dursleys all over again.

Harry had been living with Tom for three days now, but this was the first time he had done something that suggested he was something other than a young man who had a knack for retail work and customer service. Harry suspected these ‘friends’ of Tom’s were actually part of the Knights of Walpurgis - the earliest form of Death Eaters.

“I wasn’t aware my presence was offensive, Tom,” Harry commented. He’d often found himself trying to mimic the way that Tom spoke to him, but Harry just didn’t have the natural charisma to pull it off.

Tom’s lips curled, and he hunched over to lean close to Harry’s face. Harry hated how tall Tom was - Harry had finally grown to a respectable height that could be considered tall, but Tom still had about five or six inches on him.

“You refuse to tell me your surname or your blood status, my dear,” Tom purred, always one to out-charm Harry - not that it was hard. “My friends aren’t particularly inclined towards Muggle-borns, and if they have any reason to suspect you are one…”

“I’m not Muggle-born,” Harry said. He could recognise a threat - or perhaps a warning - when he heard one, though. He doubted Tom would let them kill him - Tom would have done that himself by now if he wanted Harry dead - but he was sure that Tom’s friends could torture him while Tom made it look like he was helpless to stop them.

“Surname?” Tom pressed, but Harry just pressed his lips together and shook his head.

The name Harry was common enough for Tom to not think anything of it, but the name ‘Potter’ might be too risky to give away. Choosing a random family name would be no good either, in case Tom quizzed him on it; he obviously knew Harry wasn’t part of the Black family considering he had many friends who actually were.

The fireplace flared green, and Tom gave Harry a pointed look as the Floo roared to life. Two men stepped out; one with long blond hair and pointed features, who must have been Lucius Malfoy’s father; and a tall man with jet black hair and cool grey eyes which reminded Harry strongly of Sirius.

“Abraxas, Alphard,” Tom greeted, opening his arms. “This is Harry, my current house guest. He’ll be staying in his room tonight.”

Abraxas and Alphard shared a knowing look, and Abraxas smirked in a very Draco--like way.

Tom turned back to Harry, placing his hand on Harry’s shoulder and giving him a light shove. “To your room, Harry, dear.”

Harry rolled his eyes but complied, feeling the gaze of all three men on his back as he retreated to his room. He was still wandless, and he’d probably be better off away from Tom and his friends. He hated not having a wand; he felt so vulnerable and open to attack, and if Tom wasn’t in a hurry to return his wand, Harry would have to go about getting a new one.

There were shops around Borgin and Burkes which Harry wondered about trying to get a job in. That way he could get some money to buy himself a new wand, and would also maybe give him an opportunity to spy on Tom without Tom realising. Though Tom was probably aware that Harry knew he was into the Dark Arts, he hadn’t yet acted like a budding Dark Lord in front of him, and Harry couldn’t stop what he couldn’t see.

Harry could hear more people coming through the Floo into Tom’s home, and the sound of voices talking grew until it stopped suddenly - no doubt Tom had thrown up a Silencing charm. Suspecting Tom had also locked him in, Harry twisted the door handle and turned it, and indeed found himself unable to open the door.

With a sigh, Harry sunk down onto his bed, burying his face in his hands.

This was the right thing to do, he kept telling himself. Running to Dumbledore would make Harry’s living situation a bit less precarious, and he might be able to get himself back to his own time, but then Harry would be throwing away an opportunity to save things before it was too late.

Harry couldn’t even begin to fathom Tom’s reasoning for letting Harry live with him, but it presented Harry with a chance to stop Tom before he became Voldemort. Harry could watch Tom, stop him committing bad deeds, and even try to get close to him and gain his trust. Running away just because he wasn’t comfortable with the situation would just allow history’s deadly course to run again.

And then there was the pesky soulmate business. As if on cue an owl appeared at the window, a letter clutched firmly between its beak. Harry hurried to the window before it could peck on it and potentially gain Tom’s attention, and grabbed the letter from the bird.

The response was written in swirling, cursive writing, and Harry had to squint to try and decipher what it said. It read:

How exciting! A time traveller! Soulmates are incredibly rare, and my spell was only meant to give you a glimpse of your soulmate, but the fact it brought you through time to yours must prove it truly is destiny! Give love a chance - you are here for a reason!

Harry sighed, crumpling the letter between his fingers.

Somehow, having someone actually confirm he was stuck in the past wasn’t so bad as being told that he had defied the laws of time to be with his soulmate - his soulmate being the man who had murdered Harry’s parents and became the most feared Dark Lord of all time.

Admittedly, Tom was a very attractive man, but that didn’t change the fact that he was a sociopath who craved immortality no matter the cost, and would eventually end up psychotic and deranged. The problem was, though, that Harry wasn’t living with the bloodthirsty Voldemort, but rather the charming, charismatic Tom who could be far too easy to fall in love with.

***

When Harry woke the following morning, he was instantly aware of another person in the room. He instinctively reached for his wand under his pillow, but of course it wasn’t there.

“Why are you so frightened?” came Tom’s voice, and Harry turned his head to see Tom sat in a chair in the corner of the room. “What could you think was possibly in here with you that you had to fight without even thinking?”

“You,” Harry answered honestly. Tom’s eyes flashed over, and he gave Harry a sly smile.

“You still don’t trust me,” Tom said - it wasn’t a question.

“Do you trust me?” Harry retorted. “You promised I’d get my wand back when that happens.”

“And how much faith, exactly, do you put in promises?” Tom rose from the chair, crossing the room in two long strides and settling on the edge of the bed. He leaned forwards, supporting himself with his arm, with his hand only inches away from Harry’s. “If you’re wise it won’t be much.”

“I try to see the good in people,” Harry said, suddenly aware of the way Tom’s Adam’s apple moved whenever he swallowed, and how there were specks of blue in the murky green of his eyes.

“In everyone but me.” Again, it wasn’t a question.

How was Harry supposed to see the good in Tom when he knew what he would become?

“Give me a reason to see it,” Harry said, not even sure if that side could exist in Tom.

Tom didn’t reply straight away, but allowed his eyes to rake over Harry’s body. “If you want to see it you’ll have to look closer.”

Harry hastily drew his hand back to himself,their conversation turning far too flirtatious for him to handle.

“I’m going to get a job,” he announced, hurriedly changing the subject. “I’m going to ask around Knockturn, see what I can find.”

Harry’s first stop was at The Coffin House. It was directly opposite Borgin and Burkes, and Harry was pleased to find that from inside he could make out the inside of the other store, even if his view was somewhat obscured by the shop displays.

The Coffin House itself sold items which mainly involved necromancy and tools for contacting the dead. Harry knew full well that necromancy couldn’t raise the dead to be who they once were - though Inferi were proof that it was possibly to some degree - but in general, magic involving the deceased was some of the Darkest of all.

Someone cleared their throat behind Harry. “May I help you?”

Harry turned around and found himself face-to-face with a man who may as well have been a skeleton himself. He was all bones, with sunken cheekbones and thinning hair, and he was taller than even Tom. He didn’t seem too old, maybe in his late thirties, but his clothes seemed even older than even the 1940’s fashion, appearing somewhat Victorian.

“Forgive my appearance,” the man said, parting his lips and revealing two fangs in the process. “I haven’t drank for quite some time.”

A vampire working in a shop about death magic did make a lot of sense, admittedly, but Harry still wasn’t sure how he felt about being confronted with a hungry vampire.

“Don’t worry,” the man continued, obviously sensing Harry’s unease. “It would be a shame to kill a pretty boy like you, and if I started on you I wouldn’t be able to stop. My name is Serafino.”

He held out a bony hand, and Harry hesitated only for a split second before shaking it.

“Brave boy,” Serafino purred, letting go of Harry’s hand and moving his fingers up to Harry’s forehead. “What an intriguing scar; you’ve been marked by death.”

“I survived death,” Harry said. “I’d like a job here.”

Serafino drew his hand back from Harry, and fixed Harry with a pointed look.

“Young men don’t walk into a store like this and ask vampires for a job,” Serafino stated, running a nail over his lips and lapping up the blood that spilled from the cut. “What are your motives?”

“Nothing that affects you,” Harry answered, knowing pretending that he was simply a plucky graduate desperate for a job would fool nobody. “I have experience with this kind of magic; I’ve faced Inferi and Horcruxes, and I know the Hallows are real. I’ve seen the Veil of Death and heard the voices from inside it.”

“Talk like that will send you to an asylum, child,” Serafino drawled, but he had a smile on his face. “How fortunate for you that I’m just as insane enough to believe it, too. If I’m to give you a job, I wish to know your name.”

“It’s Harry,” he replied.

Serafino went to the back office to retrieve some paperwork, and Harry chanced a look at Borgin and Burkes. Tom was with a customer, but he looked up and locked eyes with Harry; Harry could feel the intensity even from across the street.

“He’s a strange boy,” Serafino said - Harry had never even heard him return. “You may know death, but that doesn’t mean you know evil.”

“Oh, don’t worry,” Harry said. “I know evil.”

***

“I didn’t take you for a necromancer,” Tom commented upon their return to Tom’s home.

Tom insisted on journeying to and from work with Harry, though he hadn’t said a word until now.

“Nobody’s really a necromancer, though, are they?” Harry corrected. “It’s impossible to raise the dead - all you can really do is bring their body back. Even the Resurrection Stone couldn’t bring a completed soul back from the dead.”

“You’re a believer in the Hallows?” Tom asked, pushing Harry onto the sofa before taking a seat beside him.

Tom had seemed to have gotten more physical around Harry lately, using any excuse to touch him.

“We live in a world of magic that would seem insane to some, so why should we let boundaries restrict what we believe in,” Harry answered, wincing inwardly as he realised that he had just voiced Luna’s mindset.

“Boundaries only restrict you if you let them, my dear,” Tom purred, leaning closer to Harry until there was no room between them.

Harry swallowed, the warmth radiating from Tom unexpected. But why should it be unexpected? Tom was still rather human at this point, his soul split but perhaps not irreparably.

“You should be careful around the store owner,” Tom pressed on. “Vampires should not be trusted.”

“Would you miss me if he killed me, dear?” Harry raised a brow, idly trailing his fingers down his neck. Tom’s gaze followed the movement, and he licked his lips hungrily.

“It would be a waste for you to meet your demise at the hands of such a creature,” Tom said, and Harry froze when Tom’s fingers ghosted over the edge of his face. “I saw he was intrigued by that scar you bear. What curse is it from?”

Harry let out a gasp of shock as Tom’s fingers traced the mark on his forehead and a wave of warm pleasure rushed through him in response. He had expected it to burn and sting like it did when Voldemort touched it, but instead it felt like every nerve ending in him was reacting with desire.

Even Tom drew his hand back hastily, staring down at his fingers with a frown on his face. “Curious,” he muttered softly, mainly to himself. When he took his hand back to Harry’s scar, he only allowed his fingers to hover above it. “The shape of it looks like the wand movement required for the Killing Curse.”

Harry hoped Tom didn’t notice his sharp intake of breath. “Nobody can survive that, yet here I am.”

“Nobody was supposed to be able to break through my Wards, yet here you are,” Tom pointed out, his eyes wide and unblinking as he stared at Harry. “Boundaries of magic are meant to be broken by those deserving of it.”

“And boundaries of death?” Harry asked, knowing he was maybe pushing this a bit too far.

Tom paused for a moment, and Harry had to avert his gaze from the intense look Tom was giving him. “There are ways to defeat death,” Tom stated, “but only by those willing to break life in the process.”

“How?” Harry pressed, knowing he had finally gone too far when Tom stood abruptly.

“Your mind wouldn’t be able to handle the brutality of it,” Tom hissed, his eyes flashing over red for a moment. “But as you said, you try to see the good in everyone so perhaps nobody is truly capable of it - that is, if you believe truly everybody has good to them.”

“I believe everyone has the potential to have good in them,” Harry corrected firmly, standing as well. He had, after all, even offered Voldemort a chance to try for remorse in the end, and if he could allow Voldemort that opportunity then he could offer it to Tom as well.

“Good is hard to define,” Tom said, tilting his head. “Some do things they believe to be good but others view as bad. Life isn’t something that can be split into good and bad.”

“There’s only the powerful and the weak,” Harry finished, paraphrasing some of the first words Voldemort had ever said to him.

“Indeed,” Tom nodded. “And I, dearest Harry, intend to be powerful.”

***

Somehow, Harry found himself settling into an easy routine.

He would wake up in a morning, usually with Tom watching him, and though he still found it a bit creepy he had got used to it now. They would walk to work together, talking idly on their way. Tom hadn’t let anything slip about his Darker side since that night where Tom had almost lost his collected demeanor, and he easily changed the subject any time Harry tried to dig.

Sometimes Tom would have friends over, and Harry would be locked in his room, unable to hear anything that was going on. They always left him alone, though, and he pretended like they weren’t there.

Serafino, meanwhile had practically become a different person, having found a way to indulge his thirst. Harry didn’t want to know how, but Serafino was no longer skeletal, and now his pale skin and silver eyes seemed to glow.

Harry didn’t even know why Serafino had hired him, because most work days consisted of sitting around and studying the displays, and warning occasional customers that The Coffin House wouldn’t be help liable in case of demonic possession or death. Harry reckoned that Serafino just liked his company.

And while Harry had little to do, he would look across the street into Borgin and Burkes, watching Tom as he played the role of shop assistant incredibly well. Hepzibah Smith seemed to come into the shop almost every day, usually with a gift for Tom. She seemed to be very taken by him, which would ultimately lead to her demise unless Harry could save her.

Unknown to Tom, Harry had bought himself a wand with his first paycheck. It wasn’t as good as his own, but it did the job and made him feel a lot safer and prepared. So when he saw Hepzibah leaving late one afternoon from Borgin and Burkes, laden with bags, Harry shouted to Serafino that he was taking a lunch break and hurried after her.

A well aimed jinx tore through one of her bags, spilling all her goods to the ground.

“Oh!” Harry exclaimed, hurrying over to her under the guise of trying to help. “Let me get that for you.”

He waved his wand, bringing the spilled goods slowly into the air and guiding them into one of the other bags.

“You,” Hepzibah said. “You’re Tom’s friend, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” Harry replied with a nod. “Actually, I was hoping I’d run into you. I, er, need to talk to you about Tom.”

“Why?” Hepzibah questioned sharply. “Is he alright? Is he in any kind of trouble?”

“Sort of, yes,” Harry said. “Look, can we talk somewhere private?”

Hepzibah shook her head. “I’m not going anywhere with you; you can tell me what’s wrong with Tom right now or I’m leaving.”

Harry paused, unsure quite how to tell Hepzibah to watch herself without making himself sound paranoid or deranged. He didn’t want to freak Hepzibah out, but rather just have her aware that Tom wasn’t what he seemed.

“Tom is,” Harry started, frowning as he thought how to finish his sentence. “Tom is, er, after your artefacts. Burke likes to make a good deal and he knows how much your stuff is worth, so he’s ordered Tom to try and charm you so you sell far cheaper than you should.”

Hepzibah stared at him for a moment, and Harry remembered how in the memory there was a split-second where she saw the greed on Tom’s face and the red in his eyes and doubted him because of it. But then a scowl crossed her face, and she slapped Harry’s arm hard.

“Liar!” she hissed, lowering her voice when several people looked their way. “Tom is a kind, thoughtful young man. That poor boy’s an orphan, you know, and he’s told me I’m like the grandmother he always wanted. How dare you make up such filth about him!”

“Hepzibah,” Harry tried, but the woman cut him off with a snarl.

“It’s Ms Smith to you!”

“Hepzibah?” came Tom’s voice, and Harry wanted to vanish there and then. “Is everything alright?”

“No, no it’s not,” she answered hotly. “This boy’s trying to spread lies about you.”

“I’m really not,” Harry protested, wincing when Hepzibah slapped his arm again.

“Liar!” she hissed again. “He said you were a conman, manipulating me, he said.”

“Hepzibah,” Tom said gently. “I’m not manipulating you, you know that. But like I told you before, Harry suffered a head injury and he tends to be somewhat delusional at times. He doesn’t mean any harm by it.”

Tom sent Harry a sharp glare over Hepzibah’s head as she turned to clap Tom’s shoulder gently.

“How good of you to take care of such a boy,” she said. “If he’d been in my life he’d have been locked in an asylum.”

“He just needs a bit of patience,” Tom replied, stepping away from Hepzibah to stand by Harry. He threw an arm around Harry’s shoulders, the grip of his hand too hard for it to just be a friendly gesture. “I shall see you tomorrow, Hepzibah.”

With that said, Tom steered Harry down one of the side-streets, taking them away from the main Alley until Harry finally managed to shrug Tom off.

“Let’s not play games, Tom,” Harry said furiously. “We both know you’re not a nice man, and Hepzibah deserves to know that you don’t have her best interest at heart.”

“So what if I don’t?” Tom retorted, stepping closer to Harry until Harry was trapped between Tom and the wall of the building. “I keep a lonely old woman happy and in return I get what I want. Why does Hepzibah matter to you so much?”

It was true that if Tom didn’t kill Hepzibah he could easily find another customer with precious heirlooms to target, but history had a spotlight on Hepzibah. Harry was also coming to terms with the fact it wasn’t just Hepzibah he was trying to save, but Tom as well.

Tom had created two Horcruxes already, but he was still relatively normal and human. But after the murder of Hepzibah, Tom vanished and travelled the world, sinking deeper into the Dark Arts until he returned on the brink of becoming a monster. Hepzibah was the catalyst which would turn Tom into Voldemort.

He could handle Tom as his soulmate, Harry realised, but not Voldemort. He didn’t have to defeat Tom himself, but just the path that would lead him to becoming Voldemort.

“Hepzibah doesn’t matter to me,” Harry said, because that was all he could really say; it wasn’t like he could tell Tom the truth.

Tom’s hand reached for Harry’s chest, spreading his fingers across him. Tom’s hand was warm and heavy, reassuring somehow, but with an ache for more. Harry wanted more; he wanted Tom’s warmth and his touches, and he wanted Tom to stay Tom.

“You’re very odd, Harry,” Tom said gently, though there was a fire in his eyes. “You infuriate yet intrigue me. You’re naive and foolish yet somehow you seem to be more aware than anyone. You know me, while I know so little about you. You’re an enigma, my dear, but I’ve always been gifted when it comes to solving puzzles.”

“Let me know once you solve me,” Harry breathed. “I still haven’t figured it out.”

***

Harry sat in the middle of the sitting room floor in Tom’s home, his fingers hovering over a thick board which was covered with various rune markings. It looked like - and basically was - the wizarding version of a Ouija Board, but there were no letters on it.

Rather than contacting the Realm of the Dead which could potentially allow dangerous spirits through, the board simply allowed nearby spirits enough power to reveal themselves for a short period of time. It was incredibly Dark magic, Serafino had said, but could allow people contact with any spirits that were lurking around them.

The boards were sold as display only because it was illegal to actually use one, but Serafino swore the Ministry wouldn’t be able to trace usage. He had emphasised that after asking Harry if he would have a go at using it. Serafino had been a bit shady about it, though he claimed he just wanted Harry to experience what it was like, but Harry couldn’t see any reason for an ulterior motive.

Doing as Serafino had instructed him, Harry ran his fingers over the runes in a precise order, before tapping the middle of the board with his wand.

At first, it seemed like nothing was happening, but then Harry felt the temperature in the room get considerably colder. Harry glanced around but saw nothing, and slowly got to his feet.

As he stood, Harry caught sight of himself in the large mirror that Tom kept on the wall. Harry wasn’t alone.

He turned around quickly, wand drawn, but the girl standing there didn’t flinch. Instead she smiled sadly at him, her face flickering every so often.

“You can’t do me any more harm than they already did,” she said, her voice distant yet somehow able to reach Harry’s very core.

“There’s so much pain,” a new voice said, and Harry spun around to see an old man clutching his head. “What did I do to them to deserve this?”

“Filth. Filth. That’s what they called me,” came the voice of yet another new spirit.

“Wanted to see my dirty blood,” hissed another, this one covered in blood. “Mud, they said. Undeserving.”

Harry didn’t know where to look next, as more and more spirits appeared in the room. There were men and women, old and young, but all of them looked sad, and none of them lingered long enough to say much. They were all saying the same things, though, referencing pain and fear. None of the spirits said ‘he’, though, always ‘they’.

It wasn’t like Harry was an idiot; he knew that when Tom had friends over they wouldn’t idly sit around chatting, playing board games and drinking beer. Harry knew that they weren’t really Tom’s friends, but the Knights of Walpurgis, and he knew that they killed people.

It was just that seeing their victims, so many of them, drove a stake of fear into Harry’s heart. What if Tom was too late to be saved? Because knowing was one thing, but seeing was another. All these people were dead because of Tom and his cause, but somehow Harry still wanted to save him.

In some ways, that made Harry worse than Tom.

The board was beginning to shake, the runes lighting up and flashing in sporadic patterns. The air felt thick and heavy with magic, the Darkness of it sinking through Harry’s skin and making him feel alive. Though Harry had used Dark magic before, it had been nothing like this. The closest he had come was when he had cast the Cruciatus Curse on Amycus Carrow.

The magic seemed to spark suddenly, and Harry knew that Tom was home.

“What are you doing?” Tom asked sharply, and when Harry turned to look at him he saw that Tom was surrounded by the spirits of the people he watched die.

Tom didn’t seem to be able to see them, but he could obviously feel the Dark magic in the air. His eyes were wide, a red glint to them, and he was watching Harry with a hungry look.

Harry knew he should scream and shout at Tom, call him out for all the killing and the monstrous deeds. He should hex Tom and leave, and go the overt route by finding Dumbledore and asking for his help. Forget going undercover - there was no helping a monster like Tom.

But seeing Tom there, lost in Darkness and haunted by the dead, Harry realised that he didn’t want to leave Tom. To leave Tom now wouldn’t stop the killings, and it would only drive Tom to lose his humanity further. Tom was his soulmate, regardless if he was a killer or not - Harry had wanted to find his soulmate, so surely he had a duty to help him.

Tom was in front of him suddenly, while the spirits encircled them both. Tom’s fingers reached for Harry’s chin, tilting his head up and forcing Harry to look into Tom’s eyes. Even with the red gleam, they were still human.

“Stop this,” Harry breathed, reaching his hands up to cup Tom’s face. “I shouldn’t want you but I do. You’re not a good man; you’re bad, and full of sin.”

Tom’s lips curled, and he lowered his head until it was only inches away from Harry’s.

The magic in the room seemed even heavier now, pulsing and leaving Harry’s skin tingling.

“Don’t fight it,” Tom murmured, moving his hands to Harry’s waist as Harry lifted up on his toes. “Sin with me. Be my sin.”

And then Tom’s lips were on Harry’s, and the world seemed to explode around them, leaving Harry only aware of Tom and nothing else. The spirits seemed to fade away as Tom pulled Harry closer, pressing their bodies firmly together.

Every inch of Harry felt like there was electricity coursing through him, making him more aware of his body then he had ever been before. He felt so alive, so warm, so complete, and behind that an ache, a desperation, for more.

Tom bit down on Harry’s lower lip, tugging with his teeth before pulling away. Harry closed his eyes, resting his forehead against Tom’s chest as Tom held him tightly.

There was too much to think about, too much confusion in Harry’s head. The lines between right and wrong were blurred, but none of that mattered with Tom holding him, and for once, Harry needed to rest and forget the world.

Just for a moment.

***

Harry sighed, resting his cheek on the clerk’s desk as he watched Tom through the window.

His mind had been abuzz all night. Tom had left him not long after their kiss, saying he needed to ‘think’, and Harry had been stuck in a cycle of emotions ever since. He just couldn’t decide if he was doing the right thing or not, or if there even was a right choice.

“Do you believe in soulmates?” Harry asked Serafino as he came back into the store from running an errand.

“I believe they are rare,” Serafino answered, tilting his head as he looked at Harry. “I do believe they exist - but they are created, not born. Something that binds two people together in a particular way can confuse the soul, and make it part of one half rather than a whole.”

Attempted murder and accidental Horcrux making probably counted as a soul-confusing bond.

“What would you do if you had a soulmate?” Harry queried, chancing another look at Tom who was talking to Hepzibah again. “Only you used to hate them, but then they died and you got taken to a time when they were still alive? Would you stop hating them just because they were your soulmate?”

“The Riddle boy is not easy to hate, despite his wickedness,” Serafino purred, and Harry snapped his head up in shock.

“What? I’m not-”

“That was a very specific question you asked me, Harry,” Serafino interrupted, fixing Harry with an amused smile. “I myself am not from this time; I died in 1792, and I’ve learnt very well to mimic speech and behaviour from whatever the current time period is. As such, I can recognise when someone else doesn’t follow those patterns. Also, you stare at Riddle far too much for it to be anything innocent.”

Harry felt his cheeks flush; he had been unaware how obvious he had been. Serafino had probably known these things about Harry right from the very beginning, and there was no point denying them.

“I can understand your concerns,” Serafino pressed on. “You and I both know he’s abusing the ability to create a Horcrux.”

“How do you know that?” Harry asked, surprised at how much Serafino actually seemed to know.

“The same way I can tell if a person is a werewolf or Veela - his scent isn’t entirely human. It’s weak and fading, but without the bitter taste that another magical creature would have.” Serafino paused, turning to look at Tom. “How did he die if he has Horcruxes?”

“I destroyed them,” Harry answered quietly. “And then I became the Master of Death; when he tried to kill me his curse backfired and got him instead. He wasn’t Tom at that point, though, he was called Voldemort. He had seven Horcruxes, and he was no longer human. He looked and acted like a monster, he was delusional and psychotic, and he was responsible for so much death and destruction.”

“Did he give you the curse scar?” Serafino asked.

Harry nodded. “The first time he tried to kill me I was a baby. My mother sacrificed herself which gave me protection so his curse backfired but his Horcruxes allowed him to cling onto life. But as his soul was so weak, part of it latched onto me in desperation. He tried to kill me later on, though, which destroyed the Horcrux in me.”

Serafino’s eyes widened. “A human Horcrux? I’ve never heard of such a thing happening; no wonder he’s your soulmate - you were literally bound together.”

“But you see why it’s not a good thing?” Harry said. “Tom is going to kill a woman soon and make two more Horcruxes, before disappearing for years until he returns fully immersed in the Dark Arts, and obsessed with becoming immortal. I know he’s a killer now, but he’s still more-or-less human. I just don’t know what I’m doing.”

He looked at Tom and Hepzibah again, who were still chatting animatedly.

“I wanted to save her, or so I thought,” Harry continued. “But I realised it’s Tom I want to save. I’ve told him I try to see the good in everyone, but I still can’t see it with him. He’s a killer, and I don’t know if there’s anything in him to save - I don’t know if it’s worth trying. But at the same time, I can’t make myself turn away from him either. Beside, he’s never hurt me or raised his wand against me; I know there’s been times I’ve made him angry, but he’s never been cruel to me.”

It felt good to get all this off his chest, and regardless of whether or not Serafino could advise him on what to do, he at least had a bit more clarity now.

“Well,” Serafino said slowly. “You don’t necessarily have to love your soulmate to recognise your connection. And you say you came through time to be with him? So think - why would you be brought to the time before he becomes completely unsaveable? Maybe you’re destined to save him.”

“I don’t even know if I can!” Harry cried, pressing his hands to his forehead. “What if he kills Hepzibah no matter what I do?”

“Then be with him afterwards,” Serafino suggested, his tone strong and forceful. “You don’t think Riddle has good in him? You’re probably right. But you are good, and you are his soulmate. Perhaps the good in him isn’t actually in him, but in you. Together you make a whole, and maybe you just being with him is enough to save him.”

Just to be with Tom, rather than actively trying to stop him killing, sounded difficult; but then again, maybe that was just part of Harry’s ‘saving people’ thing. If it saved more people in the long run, maybe the sacrifice of standing by on some occasions was worth it.

“Do you have a soulmate?” Harry couldn’t stop himself from asking. “It’s just, you seem to know a lot.”

“I did,” Serafino said sadly, and Harry instantly regretted asking. “She stood by me even after I became a vampire...I killed her by mistake when she tried to stop me draining a child. I’ve never killed anyone since.”

“I’m sorry,” Harry breathed, moving round the counter to place his hand on Serafino’s arm.

“She saved me from being a monster, despite the fact I was designed to be a killer,” Serafino said, giving Harry a sad smile. “I believe there is hope for your Riddle boy.”

***

“Where are you going?” Harry asked, watching with wide eyes as Tom pulled a long overcoat on above the sharp suit he was dressed in. The clothes looked eerily familiar, and Harry had a bad feeling that he knew exactly where they were from.

“To visit a friend,” Tom answered simply. “Don’t fret, dear; I shan’t be long.”

Harry would fret all he wanted. This was - quite possibly - the day Harry had been dreading, and he was struck with a sudden awareness of how unprepared he was for this.

“Do you have to go?” Harry tried, reaching out to touch Tom’s wrists. “I was hoping we could spend the night together.”

“It’s for work, Harry,” Tom drawled. “Feel free to wait up for my return.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Harry muttered bitterly. “You know, I’m sure some of your customers must lie about their supposed valuables. In fact, the more valuable they say something is, the less it probably actually is. So just watch what you believe.”

“I know my job well,” Tom countered, raising a brow. “And I know the authentic from the non-authentic. Don’t worry your pretty little head about it, dear.”

Patronising sod.

“Besides,” Tom continued. “The lady I’m visiting is very trustworthy, and the items she’s shown me are unmistakably real.”

Harry froze, staring at Tom with wide eyes. “She’s already shown you them?” he asked faintly, horror striking him as he realised he was too late.

Tom gave Harry a quizzical look. “Yes. Now if you’ll excuse me…”

Harry shouted, “wait!” but Tom Disapparated without another look at Harry.

The next two hours passed horrifically slowly for Harry. He tried calling Hepzibah on the Floo several times, but each time there had been no answer.

Harry had briefly wondered about calling the authorities, but even if they believed Harry’s claim despite lack of evidence, Tom would easily be able to flee. And if Tom fled, Harry would have no clue where he was, and Tom would just murder someone else to make his next Horcrux. No matter what, somebody was going to die, and at least Hepzibah’s death gave Harry a chance to save more people in the future.

Harry was so wrapped up in his thoughts that he didn’t even notice Tom’s return until he stood right in front of Harry. Tom’s face was covered in blood, most of it concentrated around his mouth, yet he didn’t seem to be injured himself.

“Oh, Tom,” Harry breathed. “What have you done?”

Tom said nothing, taking a seat beside Harry and staring at a random patch on the wall. The red gleam in his eyes was stronger than it had ever been, and even his face looked more pinched than usual.

Harry stood, walking to the bathroom to run a piece of cloth under the tap. When he returned, he knelt on the floor in front of Tom, and wiped Tom’s face with the wet cloth. The blood struggled to come off, the layer of if thicker than Harry had thought. Tom didn’t flinch when Harry scrubbed too hard at his face, and even after Harry’s best attempts, traces of blood still lingered on his lips and cheeks.

Harry cupped Tom’s face with fingers that were stained red. Tom seemed to stare right through him, not even moving when Harry pressed his lips gently against Tom’s.

“You can’t make any more,” Harry whispered, the silence suddenly oppressive, and too fragile for sound. “Look what it’s done to you; how much more do you think your soul can take?”

Tom’s eyes darkened, and his hand shot out to grab Harry’s shirt, hauling him towards him.

“The more I make, the more powerful I become,” Tom hissed, resting his forehead against Harry’s in a gesture too tender for the situation.

“You can’t trick death,” Harry breathed, closing his eyes. “Have you not heard the Tale of the Three Brothers? You might think you’re thwarting death, but death will find a way.”

Tom didn’t reply, getting to his feet and pulling Harry with him.

“I’m leaving for Crete,” Tom said after a moment. “Will you come with me?”

Harry nodded without even thinking about the question, and Tom grasped his hand. The Apparition Tom took them through seemed to last far longer than Harry was used to, and when they arrived somewhere in rural Crete, it took a while for the world to stop spinning.

Harry looked around when he was able to, seeing sparkling blue waters on one side, and large, rugged mountains on the other.

“Where are we?” he asked, turning back to Tom to see a wand pointed at him. “Tom?”

Tom’s eyes looked mad, and the tip of his wand was glowing red.

“How do you know all this about me?” Tom demanded. “You appear in my life, knowing all my past deeds, what I’ve done, and what I plan to do. You’ve made no move to turn me in, yet my cruelty to others hurts you. Are you some kind of guardian spirit, or simply insane?”

“I’m tempted to say the latter,” Harry admitted with a sigh, shrugging. Tom had asked him for the truth, though, and Harry would give him it - within reason; he wasn’t sure how Tom would react to the soulmate situation.

“I’m from another time,” Harry said, watching Tom carefully but seeing no reaction. “I’m from a time where you created seven Horcruxes and lost your humanity and your sanity. You became delusional and psychotic, obsessive and deranged. Your quest for immortality became your downfall, because your Horcruxes were destroyed and your attempt to kill your biggest threat backfired and killed you instead. You died young, Tom; just over the age of seventy - trying to become immune from death ending up killing you at an age that than even most Muggles live past.”

“And you returned to stop me before I get started,” Tom guessed, but Harry shook his head.

“I considered going to Dumbledore,” Harry confessed, “but we couldn’t have stopped you before you became a monster - I don’t want you to ever turn out like that this time, Tom.”

Tom tutted, lowering his wand. “You’re a fool, Harry. Emotions like that will destroy you; they’ve tricked you into thinking that I could be something good, but we both know there’s no good in me.”

I’m the good in you,” Harry said, mirroring Serafino’s words. “I can balance you out.”

Tom chuckled darkly, holding Harry’s chin between his fingers. “Your devotion is idiotic but admirable, my dear. Will you allow me to show my devotion to you?”

Harry nodded weakly as Tom lowered his head to kiss Harry. He allowed Tom to take control as he stripped them of their clothes and lowered Harry to the rocks.

There was kissing, and touching, and when Tom was finally inside Harry, Harry felt like he’d regained a part of him that he hadn’t even known was missing. The pleasure was almost unbearable, leaving Harry dazed, lost in the electricity and the heat.

Harry was Tom’s, and Tom was his.

***

Harry woke up the following morning, sore and stiff.

His head was resting on Tom’s chest, and he could feel the steady heartbeat beneath Tom’s skin. Harry closed his eyes again, listening to the drumming of Tom’s heart.

Yesterday was not how Harry imagined things turning out. He had failed to save Hepzibah, but Tom had invited Harry to come with him when he travelled. In the past, without Harry, Tom had travelled alone and had nobody to draw him away from the Darkness. Maybe Harry’s destiny had never been to save Hepzibah, but to save Tom by showing him the mistake he had made from killing her. Hepzibah had always been destined to be nothing but a pawn, but who was she to Harry anyway? Tom was the one who mattered.

And sex with Tom - well that had been the most exhilarating experience of Harry’s life. It had been intense and electrifying, full of passion and need and desire. Harry had never felt more complete than in that moment, and he knew Tom had felt it, too.

There was, of course, the minor detail that the sex had taken place after a murder and Horcrux creation, but Harry had always known that Tom was a killer. If Harry could bring Tom away from the Darkness he was rapidly falling into, perhaps Tom’s past sins could be forgiven.

Or maybe Harry was just being selfish, denying Tom’s wickedness because he couldn’t bear to leave him. No matter the reason, however, Harry had fallen in love with Tom without meaning to. He deserved to be happy and loved for once in his life, and if Tom was the person to make Harry feel complete, then so be it.

A bird hooted nearby, and Harry sat up as he felt Tom stirring. The owl had dropped a package by their side, and Harry could see his own name scrawled across the packaging.

Harry reached for it, tearing the packaging away to find an ornate knife, blade gleaming in the bright sun. The handle was adorned with black jewels, and embedded lines were stained with red, creating a pattern. There was a note with the knife, reading:

Stay safe, my friend. Be the good for him. Serafino.’

“A vampire blade?” Tom murmured, pressing his bare chest to Harry’s back, and resting his chin on Harry’s shoulder. “Is that to kill me with, my dear?”

Harry shook his head as Tom pressed a soft kiss to his neck.

“Of course you wouldn’t,” Tom agreed, breathing against Harry’s neck. He reached for the knife, turning Harry’s hand over and pressing the tip of the blade against his palm. “To kill your soulmate could destroy a person.”

“You know,” Harry stated, wincing only slightly as Tom pressed down on the blade and drew a marking into Harry’s palm, with sharp lines that crossed over each other.

“Of course I know,” Tom purred, stretching his other arm over Harry so he could bring the knife to his own palm, copying the marking on his own skin. “There is a connection between us that even our magic feels; your wand has the same core as mine - from the exact same phoenix - and you make me feel in such a way that no other person has. I do not know how to love, or even if I can, but you’re the one person I wish to have by my side for all time. Your vampire friend only confirmed my theory when he came to me and told me not to make the same mistake that he made. You should know, my dear, that I never intend to hurt you.”

Tom dropped the bloodied knife onto the rock beside them, and reached for Harry’s hand. Tom pressed their palms tightly together, the cuts on Harry’s palm stinging, albeit not entirely uncomfortably.

“The soul runes,” Tom explained. “We’re both two parts of one.”

Harry nodded, turning his head to kiss Tom.

The kiss grew more needy, more passionate, and Harry only pulled away when he needed air.

“If you truly believe we’re soulmates then you’ll stop creating Horcruxes,” Harry said, knowing he needed to get this out. “You have plenty, and I meant what I said yesterday - I don’t want you to become a monster.”

“Would you create a Horcrux for me?” Tom countered, trailing his fingers gently across Harry’s scar.

Harry shivered at the pleasant tingling that shot through his body, but still managed to shake his head.

“I’m not a killer,” he said, keeping his gaze locked on Tom’s face.

“But if you die, dear,” Tom murmured, dropping his fingers to trace Harry’s lips, before moving down to his neck. “I think I’d go entirely insane without you.”

If that was a promise that Tom would try to keep his just-there-sanity provided Harry stayed with him, then Harry didn’t mind that the bond between them was based upon an unhealthy premise. Harry remaining alive would hopefully keep Tom from killing, but Harry wasn’t prepared to do his own killing to ensure that. There was one thing he knew could work, however.

“I’ll collect the Hallows,” Harry said. “You can have your Horcruxes, and I’ll be the Master of Death. We can be immortal together; travel the world together.” Anything to keep Tom away from the Dark Arts. “‘I’ve found them once before; I can find them again.”

Tom’s lips curled in a cold smile, and he brought his bloodied hand to Harry’s mouth, smearing the blood across his lips before leaning in to kiss him, sealing the bond between them for good.