vendredi 7 décembre 2012

ExcentrykeMuse - [Enchantment Series -7] Ink Stained Pages



Title: Ink Stained Pages. The Enchantment Series.

Author: ExcentrykeMuse

Beta: Kamerreon

Pairing: Harry/Tom Riddle

Warnings: Slash, non-graphic lemonade, (past dub-con), chan, character death

Summary: AU. Then he did it, setting the nib carefully down and imparting his darkest secret: Perhaps I should have let the hat sort me into Slytherin like it wanted to. Gryffindor friendship is a fickle thing. Harry/Tom.

Ink Stained Pages

The Enchantment Series

Part the First

Harry hadn't noticed at first in all of the chaos. He'd fallen asleep to thoughts of Quidditch players and then awakened to screams and the sound of people running through woods. He threw his robe over his shoulders before he sprinted out of the tent. He somehow became separated from Ron and Hermione and, panting, he leaned up against a twisted yew tree. He squinted through the darkness toward the campsite where he could still hear the resounding screams and curses.

He'd shoved his hands into his robe pockets, breathing heavily, and instead of feeling the handle of his wand, his fingers brushed against a small book.

Then there had been a whisper, a flash of green in the sky, and the book was forgotten.

Harry came across it again when packing for Hogwarts, hiding up in Ron's orange bedroom from Ginny. She'd gotten worse since his quiet second year when she had sent him a singing Valentine. Now she could always be seen blushing and tripping around him with stars in her eyes. Mrs. Weasley said it was adorable. Ron said it was funny. Harry believed it was the single most terrifying experience of his young life, including encountering Voldemort his first year and the potential murderous Sirius Black in his third.

He stared at the small book, the initials T.M.R. clearly printed on the front. Flipping through it and seeing that it was blank, he hastily put it in his trunk and then went back to replaying the World Cup on his Omnioculars.

September was cold in the Scottish highlands and October brought brisk winds that caused Harry's lips to chap. Then a ship rose from the deepest depths of the Black Lake and a carriage flew through the sky, much like a Muggle fairy tale, and Harry Potter's world changed with a single name called out in the Great Hall.

He found himself in a shouting match with his best mate—former best mate—ostracized with no one listening to him, and somehow he remembered the blank book, the journal, the diary. He managed to fumble through his belongings, brushing unshed tears away from his eyes, when his fingers closed around the spine.

Harry didn't sleep in the dorm that night, but instead wandered the halls until he found himself in a deserted classroom, a quill in his hand and an inkpot balanced precariously on his knee as he allowed the ink to drip from the quill tip onto the dulled pages where it then disappeared.

He stared, thinking it was an odd quirk of magic, and then carefully wrote the date at the top of the page—31 October 1994.

The words stared back at him, unchanging, present, and then he dipped his quill into the pot of black ink again and furiously wrote, his thoughts pouring out of his mind. He didn't write of Ron, of the tournament. It was just a symptom of the overall problem, another grievance that was too fresh and raw to properly think about. So he lost himself in half thoughts and words, remembering lonely nights spent locked away, of hunger, of being called a freak before he became the greatest freak of them all—the Boy Who Lived. He wrote of Dudley, of Harry Hunting, of Piers Polkiss holding his arms behind his back while the other bullies punched him before kissing his bloodied lips when no one could see, saying he was beautiful like that.

He wrote about the night he learned he was a wizard—like his parents—of the vaults of gold his parents had thoughtfully left behind even though they had neglected to leave a Will so that he would not be left with Muggles who lied to him and hated his magic. Harry's hand began to cramp, but he continued to write furiously, ink staining his fingers and leaving smudged fingerprints.

The ink sputtered across the page as he pressed the quill too firmly to the page, ripping it slightly, and then he watched in amazement as the book drank the extra drops, leaving only his furious writing. He stroked the suddenly ink free margin in astonishment and then dipped his quill again.

He paused, the ink steadily dripping onto a clear page, wondering if he should continue. Rubbing his eyes, he looked around the classroom, at the scattered desks and long shadows, wondering what time it was.

Then he did it, setting the nib carefully down and imparting his darkest secret: Perhaps I should have let the hat sort me into Slytherin like it wanted to. Gryffindor friendship is a fickle thing.

He stared at the words for a long minute and then carefully blew on them, watching as the ink dried. He didn't sign his name—that would be too telling. Hopefully if anyone found the diary they would think he was T.M.R., whoever he was.

Carefully, he slipped the small book into his pocket, his ink stained fingers smudging the edges of the pages a bit, making the diary appear more used than it already did, and then he slipped out of the classroom, leaving no hint of his presence.

The small diary never left his pocket. He began distancing himself purposefully from his other classmates. It was easier not to argue with Ron, not to have to bear their accusing stares. Hermione tried to be helpful, but she clearly wasn't taking sides, which made Harry grind his teeth in aggravation. By not choosing she had clearly made her choice. She wouldn't believe his words; everything must come down to books and empirical facts; his name came out of the Goblet of Fire, ergo he put it in the cup for it to be chosen. Never mind that Harry never lied about anything except when trying to get out of detention—and even then he just bent the truth slightly. She would rather believe the Ron Weasleys and Professor Snapes of this world.

I only feel comfortable in closets and cupboards, he wrote in the diary a few days later. I know that when the door is closed, nothing can hurt me. Even hunger stays on the other side, waiting for me to leave, but it never enters. He curled into himself in a storage cupboard during one of his free periods, not caring that it was a little freakish to hide in a cupboard and write by wand light in an old diary that could never write back. He could hear people move outside, but Filch wouldn't come here until all the students were safely in class, if even then, and the cupboard was in far too public a place for couples to try to sneak into it for a good snog.

He'd only appear at meals at the beginning or end of them, grabbing food and stuffing it in his pocket before wandering off again. No one much cared, unless they were shouting jeers at him or trying to trip him as he walked past.

Nearly two weeks had gone by when he was startled just before Potions. He opened the diary and saw a neat, elegantly written request at the bottom of his latest entry, kindly asking him to pour a bottle of ink on a blank page, as the writer (whoever it was) didn't want to disturb Harry's entries.

He stared at his diary in confusion, remembering when he'd watched the ink stains disappear from sight the first night he had written nearly five pages worth.

Harry swallowed nervously, not really certain how to feel about handwriting appearing in his diary, especially when it never left his pocket during the day and rested under his pillow at night. That way no one could steal it, if Ron felt the urge to rifle through his trunk for whatever reason.

He barely noticed when Malfoy began to taunt him again, quickly closing the book and slipping it back into his pocket.

During the long and painful lesson, he was called away to have his wand weighed, and he found himself pausing in a closet and carefully opening to the last few pages of the diary and, after taking a deep and calming breath, pouring half a bottle of ink on it as he still needed some for school. He supposed he would pick up more on his next Hogsmeade visit. He would have nothing better to do, except hide from Ginny Weasley. She'd tried to comfort him a few days ago when he had been curled up in a corner of the common room, writing in the diary about the taunts and jeers from everyone, wishing that he had any other name than his own so he could be anonymous.

He watched with wide eyes as the ink soaked through the pages and then began to disappear until the pages were once again clean, a neatly written Thank You appearing.

The door opening suddenly caused him to slam the book shut and stuff it back into his pocket. "We are waiting for you, Mr. Potter," Dumbledore said sternly.

Harry hesitated, far more comfortable in the closet than going into a room with the other champions, but finally exited. The bright flash of the camera blinded him, and the reporter who had an acid green quill and kept on firing questions at him made him uneasy, but soon he was rushing out of the room again, his wand clasped tightly in his hand.

The next time he opened the diary he was surprised to find a new entry after his latest one in the same neat handwriting the request had been penned in. He rubbed his thumb over it, wondering absently if it would melt away again into the page like the half bottle of ink, and yet it remained, smooth, impenetrable, as if someone had snuck the diary from his pocket and written him an answer before slipping it back into his robe.

I thought I was a Muggle until I was eleven and an Albus Dumbledore came to the orphanage and told me otherwise, the words began, the handwriting almost hesitant and yet extremely confident if such were even possible. I had always known I was different, special—and when I entered Hogwarts I knew that I must have been more than a common Mudblood. . . .

Harry read the entry voraciously, drinking in the small details of living in a Muggle orphanage, where the writer was beaten and hurt until one day his magic fought back for him, to idolizing the father he had never known until he learned the truth—that his father was a Muggle who had abandoned his mother for being a witch. There was no hint of sympathy for Harry's plight, but a quiet understanding of similar trials. The words spoke of Slytherin House, of his first acquaintances, of never trusting because the wealthy purebloods could never know what it meant to be so cold he could no longer feel his toes or so hungry that he would steal candies from children out with their parents, just so he wouldn't faint and end up in a back alley, his shoes and winter's coat stolen by someone as desperate as he was.

The boy's words whispered of wanting power so that he would never suffer again, of locked doors that kept out the rest of the world and dark gazes he sent to others at the orphanage every summer just so he would be given a small meal three times a day, too afraid that his bones would be too brittle when he returned to Hogwarts every autumn. I asked the Headmaster to let me stay at Hogwarts just before each summer, begging him, offering to do anything just to have this roof over my head and never have to go back there—to the Muggles—to London—to the orphanage. Every year he refused, and Dumbledore agreed with him smugly, saying a child's place was at home . . . although I never had one.

Harry read the entry, stunned, his fingers tracing the final name. T. Marvolo Riddle. T.M.R.

It was several days before Harry thought of writing back, Marvolo's words running through his mind. He wandered through Hogsmeade, once again not paying attention to the laughing students around him, and found his way to an out of the way pub, where he ordered a Butterbeer and sank into a corner booth, away from prying eyes. Carefully, he withdrew the diary from his pocket and opened it, taking out one of many new bottles of ink. He'd specifically purchased green ink so he could differentiate his writing from Marvolo's—if he chose to write back.

He dipped his quill into the fresh bottle, and let the nib hover for a few agonizing moments, before writing the date at the top of the page. No one stares at me here in the Hog's Head, he wrote carefully, before losing himself in half-thoughts and fears from the "task" coming up, admitting he didn't want to die, that he hated attention and just wished to fade away into anonymity. He wrote of Dumbledore, the one who had left him at his aunt's, how he accused him of what he didn't do and still didn't believe him, how he saw Dumbledore watching him through his half-moon spectacles, and how he would dispense cryptic advice at the end of the year. He wrote of his godfather—how although he had never said it out loud, Harry knew that he hadn't been arrested for several days after his parents' deaths, and yet he never thought to take him in, leaving him at the mercy of strangers.

Harry waited for several long moments and briefly went up to the bar, ordering a ploughman's lunch as he didn't want to venture back out onto the busy streets. He came back to the diary, seeing that a few lines had appeared in black ink, careful, as if someone were writing. I discovered who my grandfather was when I was seventeen, a pureblood. I went to the town where he had once lived and met my uncle, Morfin Gaunt. He thought I looked like 'the Muggle'—my father. He treated me as if I were worthless, so when I had the information I needed, I left. He was arrested for my Muggle relatives' murders a few days later.

The words stopped, hesitating, almost waiting for Harry to answer.

Harry stared at the neat handwriting for several long moments before picking up the quill again. Did it make you feel better?

Satisfied, was the immediate response. Then words poured over the blank page faster and faster, and Harry watched in wonder as it became less neat, sprawling lines that descended into scribbles as if Marvolo couldn't seem to keep himself from rushing onward, pouring his soul back into Harry as Harry had done to him.

He admitted how his father had been wealthy, had never wanted for anything, and had seduced his pureblood mother and left her for dead when he discovered magic, of how he had left her, pregnant and alone with nothing, never searched for his own son. His Muggle grandparents—the Riddles—had supported his father, never thinking that their grandson was hungry somewhere, that he wanted to be loved, understood. They had taken his mother from him, whom he had lost to an early death, never knowing her face or her voice, only learning when he was sixteen that her name was Merope for one of the Pleiades that shone in the heavens. He admitted with a shaking hand that he would sometimes sneak out of the orphanage at night and turn toward the heavens, looking up at the sky and feeling that his mother was looking down at him, glad that he lived and had avenged her abandonment and death.

Harry traced the words reverently. His heart ached in his chest, and his mind turned to his own parents, whom he both loved and despised.

His lunch came, but at first he barely touched it. He picked up his quill and dipped it into emerald ink, so like the color of his eyes, and then answered on a new page in case Marvolo wasn't finished yet. I hate my mother, he wrote quietly. In the dead of night I hate her for leaving me with her Muggle sister, and I despise my father as he gave me this name that everyone recognizes. Green ink blurred in front of his vision as half-formed tears filled his eyes before he wiped them away again.

It was a lazy Saturday afternoon and he quietly wrote in the diary and ate his lunch, finding he had more of an appetite away from everyone. Hagrid somehow found him sometime after three, and he hastily shut the diary, not letting the ink dry and stuffed it back in his pocket and pretended to be happy to see his first friend.

"What are ye doin' here, Harry?" he asked, before ordering a Firewhisky loudly and sitting down across from him. Harry wondered how he managed to fit. "This is no place fer a student."

Harry shrugged and turned to look out the window, watching a few passersby as he finished the last of his cheese. Talking to real people had become too hard; they didn't listen or understand.

Dragons, Harry wrote hastily later that night as he rushed into what he thought was an empty classroom. I need to get past dragons.

There was a long pause and then Marvolo wrote back calmly as if he were reciting everything he knew of them, and Harry drank up the words greedily.

"You're playing with fire," a voice whispered from the shadows. Harry jerked around, not seeing anyone at first. "I'd recognize that handwriting anywhere."

Harry wondered how anyone would be able to see in the dim room, especially if they weren't looking directly over his shoulder. He briefly wondered if the voice was under an invisibility cloak. "He's my friend," Harry murmured, tracing the words.

"Did he tell you his name?" the voice murmured in Harry's ear, and a shiver ran down his spine.

"Marvolo," he breathed out and the voice laughed.

"Only his true friends can call him that." And then the voice was gone, leaving Harry alone with his thoughts.

Harry left the room an hour later with a smile on his face, fears of who the voice was quelled by Marvolo, who assured him if the person recognized his handwriting and knew he was called Marvolo, he was indeed a true friend, and would be looking after Harry from now on as the voice knew he was favored.

What is your name? Marvolo wrote, but Harry found he could not answer. He didn't want Marvolo's opinion of him to change, in case he had somehow heard of Harry Potter. He hadn't heard of any Muggle murders recently, but that didn't mean that Marvolo wasn't walking around the school or had rather recently. He secretly wondered if Marvolo had been at the World Cup and that was how the diary got into his pocket. Perhaps he was chosen?

Ginny began watching him more closely than ever and, even with the use of the Marauder's Map, he had difficulty avoiding her in the halls as he found that she had memorized his schedule somehow.

I prefer snakes to girls, Harry wrote petulantly the day before the First Task. Not that that's astonishing. My first friend was a boa constrictor. I set him on my cousin Dudley. He said he was going to Brazil, and called me 'Amigo.' I suppose that means we're friends of a sort.

There was a long pause, so Harry examined the supplies in the particular cupboard he had appropriated, trying to hide from Ginny. Oddly enough, she somehow also had a free period and roamed the halls with Colin Creevey looking for him.

You speak to snakes. The handwriting was exact but a little too dark, as if Marvolo were pressing his phantom quill a little too harshly.

Harry blinked at the four words. Just the once.

Another long pause. I never would have produced a Squib, was finally written, confusing Harry. As if sensing how cryptic the comment might seem, Marvolo continued. It's a family trait; only descendents of Slytherin carry the gift. I, myself, can speak to snakes. I am wondering at your heritage—it would not have come from your mother. Who is your father?

Harry hesitated several long moments before finally revealing his secret—that his father was James Potter and that's all he knew, apart from the fact that James was a pureblood. Marvolo seemed unfazed, and looking back at his earlier comment, Harry wondered how long in the past Marvolo had lived if he wondered if he was Harry's direct ancestor somehow.

Then black writing unfurled across a blank page and Harry read eagerly as Marvolo began to explain that dragons and serpents shared a common ancestor and that a dragon would understand Parseltongue, the language of snakes. All he had to do at the task the next day, instead of trying to blind the creature, was to bow to the dragon and ask in Parseltongue for what he sought. It will announce you as my distant kinsman, Slytherin's heir, Marvolo wrote proudly and Harry found himself blushing. It is a great honor and everyone will respect you instead of taunting and jeering at you in the halls.

Harry closed the diary, a slight curl of his lips indicating a pleased smile, and then he slid out of the cupboard, walking calmly to his next class.

The next morning, he placed the diary carefully in his trunk, not wanting it to be accidentally damaged during the task. He wandered around the grounds during lunch, casually snacking on the food he'd managed to nick with very few people actually seeing him, though he did notice that Professor Moody watched him unusually closely.

He saw the three other champions draw dragon figurines out of the drawstring bag, and noticed that Diggory appeared genuinely afraid and fearful when he learned what the task was, though Krum and Delacour were unsurprisingly calm at the revelation.

Diggory was third, so Harry had to listen to him mutter various curses under his breath.

Harry was calm as he waited his turn, tuning out the sounds of jeering and gasping from the crowd outside of his tent. When it was finally his turn, he took a deep breath and thought of Marvolo, wishing that he were not just handwriting in the diary, but a living, breathing boy who could squeeze his hand and whisper in his ear how much he believed in Harry.

Marvolo. He turned the name over in his head. He'd already figured out that the "T" in his initials must be some legacy from his hated Muggle father, a Muggle name not unlike Harry's. Despite his heritage, Harry's name was entirely ordinary, undistinguished—unlike Marvolo.

When his name was called, Harry walked out of the tent. Not looking up at the crowd, he focused on the beautiful dragon before him and cast a quiet Sonorus on his throat before bowing. "Beautiful dragon," he hissed, and then there were wild gasps all around him. The Horntail bowed in return much to everyone's obvious amazement.

He completed the task in less than two minutes, earning nines and tens from the entire panel, rocketing him well into first place. Diggory trailed at fourth, he later learnt. Completely unharmed, he walked away from the task and ignored Ron and Hermione when they tried to approach him. Instead, he rushed up to Gryffindor Tower and the diary, leaving the common room even when a wild party in his honor began. He wanted to be alone. He hated the hypocrites who now smiled and toasted him, though he saw their wary eyes and noticed when everyone backed away from him fearfully as he came near.

The front page of the next morning's Daily Prophet announced him as Slytherin's heir, remarking on his astonishing use of Parseltongue and how the Horntail he had faced had gladly given him the golden egg without him having to move a single inch. Dumbledore watched him carefully from the staff table, but Harry looked away from him, grabbing a quick meal before leaving the Great Hall, as was his habit.

The Slytherins stopped jeering at him and instead eyed him warily and then respectfully. He was surprised several days later when Theodore Nott approached him as he sat gathering food at the end of the Gryffindor Table and quietly offered him a seat among his housemates.

Harry stared at him for several long moments, taking in Nott's tall frame, the chocolate curls that fell into his honest blue eyes, and found himself nodding in acceptance, leaving the food in his hands on an empty plate, knowing that it would vanish at the end of the meal.

Malfoy looked at him curiously when Harry settled himself among the Slytherin fourth-years and a few Durmstrang students, before serving himself steak pie and pouring a glass of pumpkin juice. He allowed conversation to flow around him, listening, rarely speaking, his eyes watching and wary. He found himself relaxing after half an hour when no one made a snide remark or insulted his heritage. The Support Cedric Diggory badges were absent from the Slytherin students, as well.

"The last time an heir of Slytherin surfaced," Zabini remarked casually, his voice deep and smooth, "the Chamber of Secrets was opened." He glanced shrewdly at Harry. "A student died."

Harry's eyes narrowed. "One of the ghosts?"

"Moaning Myrtle," Malfoy replied, only a hint of pompousness in his voice. "She haunts the girls' toilets on the second floor."

Theodore Nott invited me to eat with the Slytherins yesterday and today, Harry wrote the next night, huddled in a storage closet on the fourth floor. They spoke of the Chamber of Secrets.

He fell into Marvolo's confessions, reading them with a hunger that surprised himself, his fingers lovingly tracing Marvolo's words as he wrote of the Slytherin dorms, how Hogwarts was his first and only home, about how he could forget the Muggles when he came here until he saw that Muggle-borns were trying to mold wizarding society to their twisted ideals. Then there were whispers of the Chamber of Secrets, of a beautiful snake who slept within, a creature that was misunderstood and could kill a human with a single glance. But even the one death that occurred was strangely beautiful, as the serpent was doing what it was meant to do.

Never look a basilisk in the eye, Marvolo ordered, and Harry found himself agreeing, promising. Muggle-borns refused to learn about our world so they didn't know—they cannot appreciate wizards' secrets or their own Muggle myths.

Over the next week Harry was always welcomed at the Slytherin table, and soon the other Gryffindor students warily gave him a wide berth. During Potions one day, when Harry was sitting next to Nott (who had decided that he and the other Slytherin boys were going to teach Harry how to properly prepare potions ingredients), Ron slammed his knife down and started whispering hateful words at Harry, about how he had betrayed them all, first for fame and then for filthy snakes.

Hermione pulled on Ron's arm, begging him quietly to stop before Professor Snape came back (he had stepped out of the room briefly), but Ron didn't listen. Soon wands were drawn and a duel broke out, some students ducking for cover under the desks as neglected potions blew up.

In the end, Gryffindor lost over one hundred points (Ron being responsible for sixty of them) when Snape returned.

Little, however, changed. Harry ate his meals with the Slytherins and snuck away into cupboards to write to Marvolo, and he was always pleased when a long entry awaited him. He began to worry that they would soon run out of pages, but then noticed that no matter how many they filled, they never used more than about a third of the book.

When McGonagall announced the Yule Ball in Transfiguration, and then privately informed him that he would have to take a date and open the ball with the other champions, he was exceedingly upset. His mind immediately turned to Marvolo, and he felt his heart constrict and his eyes harden.

Using his invisibility cloak and the Marauder's Map, he snuck out of Hogwarts on Christmas Day and into the Shrieking Shack. He had managed to pack a basket when Marvolo told him how to find the kitchens—where both Dobby and Winky were now working—and began casting household charms on the dirty and unused cottage, making it warm and clean enough to sleep in for a few nights.

Why didn't you go? Marvolo wrote to him. Why won't you tell me your name?

Is that what you want for Christmas—for Yule? Harry corrected. My name?

He began unpacking his Christmas lunch, a small game hen and a side of vegetables. There was a chilled Butterbeer for every meal, except for the breakfasts he would be away.

Yes, if you would give it to me. He then began to write, his handwriting understated, almost quiet, as Marvolo poured out his soul, speaking about his Christmases in the orphanage, how he was always alone, hated, feared, how the snakes would slither in the night and whisper secrets in his ear when he slept, how he never received gifts and found himself taking the belongings of others who would taunt and tease him. As the Yule Ball began back at the castle, Harry was still reading, his fingers again tracing Marvolo's words, before he wrote his Christmas gift to Marvolo: Harry. Just Harry.

Harry spent all of Boxing Day in bed, writing lazily to Marvolo or daydreaming, wondering what Marvolo looked like until he finally broke down and asked. That night he fell asleep to dreams of another boy's lips, dark eyes, and black hair.

He didn't tell Marvolo, was too afraid, and spent the next day staring at the closed diary, uncertain if he could sound normal after dreaming of his friend. He traced the initials on the cover reverently, and wondered how he had never noticed before how much Marvolo meant to him.

Absently, he wondered if this was what love felt like.

TBC…

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Part the Second

The castle was silent when he snuck back in the day after, but as soon as he stepped into Gryffindor tower, everyone was staring at him, disbelief on their faces. Then Ginny threw herself into his arms, whispering that she was so glad he was all right. He pushed her away and tried to escape to his dormitory.

Instead, McGonagall arrived and led him to the Headmaster's office. He shoved his hands in his pockets, feeling the diary and drawing strength and comfort from it.

"You are not in need of medical attention?" Dumbledore asked him calmly, his stern eyes assessing him.

Harry shook his head.

"You were expected at the Yule Ball. In fact, your attendance was compulsory."

"I didn't enter my name," Harry replied stoically, his mind turning to Marvolo and the little he had been able to tell him of wizarding contracts, "so the contract is not magically binding to me. I wanted a Christmas with those who are dear to me—sir," he added as an afterthought.

"Forty points from Gryffindor," was Dumbledore's only response. Harry found he didn't really care.

Mid-January, Nott gave Harry the password to the Slytherin common room at lunch, his blue eyes challenging when a few other students looked at him in question. He still took his meals with the Slytherins and then began to slip into the common room after a long day of classes, sitting at one of the tables with Nott or Zabini and doing his homework before sliding into one of the comfortable armchairs near the fire and writing long messages to Marvolo.

You need a proper wizard name, Marvolo wrote once. Even if your father gifted you with yours, it is terribly plebian.

He found himself mentioning it to Daphne Greengrass a few weeks later, at the beginning of February, and she began organizing the Slytherin upper years to come up with suggestions. When Harry snuck off to empty classrooms to try and discern the hidden meaning in the Golden Egg's incessant wailing, he knew the Slytherins were opening up Latin dictionaries and spreading out genealogy charts.

"How do you feel about the name of a star?" Malfoy asked him one day at lunch. "Your grandmother was a Black and it's a tradition in that family."

Harry looked at him, stunned, forgetting that he was holding his fork and dropping it loudly to the table.

"Sorry?"

"Your grandmother, Dorea Black," Malfoy repeated. "We're second cousins or something through my mother."

He immediately thought of his godfather and his lips thinned. "That bastard," he muttered to himself and turned back to his food.

"Er, was that a yes?" Nott questioned and Harry nodded jerkily.

That night he received a letter, Hedwig swooping in and landing on his shoulder before ruffling her feathers. The note was small and was printed in block letters so he wouldn't be able to identify the handwriting: Gold sings under water, it read, and it was signed, Marvolo's friend.

He swallowed hastily and ran from the table, stuffing the note into his pocket and grabbing his bag, not caring who was watching him. His only thoughts were of the egg.

Harry couldn't believe it when he listened to the egg after he dropped it in a full sink in the Slytherin dormitory, and his mind immediately turned to the library. He refused to let anyone steal the diary, his precious Marvolo, from him. He knew Marvolo would think of a way to breathe under water or have some idea; that was less important at the moment.

Gillyweed, Marvolo suggested. Get one of the Slytherins to ask the Potions master. It will help you breathe for an hour underwater.

Harry finally decided the Chamber of Secrets would be the safest place for the diary. No one could open it except for Marvolo, who was trapped within the diary itself, so it would be safe there. Marvolo gave him careful directions and, in the dead of night, he entered the second floor girls' toilet, listening to the crying ghost who had died here sometime before. Harry found the sink marked with glittering snakes and hissed"open" before flying down the chute on his broom.

It was dusty and dank and Harry flew far in until he found a large statue of whom he assumed was Salazar Slytherin and looked up curiously at his ancestor, seeing little resemblance between them but smiling nonetheless. "Greetings," he hissed before placing a kiss on the diary and hiding it in a crevice of the chamber wall, silent tears dripping down his face as he flew away and locked the diary in.

"You hiss," a tearful voice greeted him, and Harry stared at the ghost of a young girl—the one who was killed.

"When were you born?" Harry asked.

The ghost blushed. "1930," she answered shyly. "Why?"

Harry felt his heart sink. She would have died sometime in the early 1940s, decades before he was born. Part of him had been hoping that Marvolo wasn't that far away from him, but he swallowed his discomfort and chose not to think about it. Marvolo was sixteen, he reminded himself. Only two years older than Harry was, a year above him in school.

The morning of the Second Task was cold, but Harry barely felt it, his eyes scanning the crowd. He wasn't certain what he was searching for, but he knew he hadn't found it. At least Marvolo was safe. That was all that mattered in this farce of a tournament.

Lavinia Urquhart had slipped him Gillyweed that morning at breakfast. He swallowed it when the whistle rang, feeling himself gasp when air no longer filled his lungs and plunged into the depths of the Black Lake.

Forty minutes later he stared coldly at the four hostages, uncertain who went with which of the other champions. The small girl with silvery hair resembled Fleur Delacour, a sister or a cousin, perhaps, but he was confused why one of the other champions would miss Hermione. The other hostage was Cho Chang. Beside them floated Theodore Nott—he couldn't think of any reason for Nott to be missed by Diggory or Krum, and he certainly wasn't taking Hermione up to the surface. Making his decision, he freed his quiet friend and then he swam to the surface.

Nott didn't insinuate anything when they were wrapped in warm towels a few minutes later, staring at the lake and waiting for the other champions to appear. "Who were the others?"

"Chang, a little girl that looked like Fleur Delacour, and Hermione Granger of all people."

He nodded. "Krum took her to the Yule Ball," he admitted, and their eyes met. "How do you feel about the name Hyperion? It's one of Jupiter's moons and a Titan."

Two days later all of the Slytherins were wearing new badges, which made Harry smile to himself. Support Hyperion Potter – the Slytherin Champion.

Harry managed to sneak back down to the Chamber and retrieved the diary. He then hid in a cupboard on the fourth floor before dinner and cracked it open. You're safe, Harry wrote, desperation creeping into his handwriting. Tell me you're safe.

I'm fine and well, Marvolo wrote back and Harry was once again smiling, writing out his heart, speaking of how his plan to hide the diary in the Chamber so that it wouldn't be taken for the task had been successful, of how Nott was taken instead—a friend, a Slytherin friend—his new name, the badges.

Hyperion Black Potter, Marvolo responded, almost a laugh to the curve of the "y." And what does my Hyperion look like?

Harry blushed and then began writing again, trying to be as accurate as possible, down to his messy hair from his father, his bright green eyes, the scar on his forehead, and the fact that he no longer had knobby knees since he'd made Seeker his first year. Then he was expanding on his love of the sky, how he felt that if he could go a little higher, he could escape everything down on the earth: the wars, Dark Lords, hunger, fame, and the horrors of Ginny Weasley. She'd slapped him earlier that day because she hadn't been his hostage—as if she would be—before Greengrass and Parkinson started plotting how to ambush her so she knew never to mess with the Slytherin Champion again.

That was the first night he slept in the Slytherin dorms, curled into a window seat that Nott and Zabini had made up for him. They promised they would petition Snape for another bed the next day, and Harry fell asleep, holding the diary and dreaming of Marvolo, with eyes darker than the depths of the Black Lake, whispering that he loved him and then kissing his eyelids so that he would have sweet dreams.

Snape held him back after class the next Tuesday, his eyes raking over Harry's red and gold tie distastefully. "You used Gillyweed," he finally said, his voice cold and yet not unkind. "Gillyweed which my Prefect procured for you."

"Yes, sir."

"And my Slytherins are now wearing badges calling you Hyperion and the Slytherin Champion."

Again, Harry could only answer, "Yes, sir."

"Your hostage, furthermore, was a Slytherin, the most clever in his year, and through your cunning you've managed to have four of my students ask me just today if I could have another bed moved into the Slytherin dorms—for you. Who are you and what have you done with the insufferable brat who looks just like you?"

Harry could only stare at him. In the end, Snape arranged for another bed to be placed in the dormitory, which appeared the next day much to everyone's pleasure. Zabini snuck into Gryffindor with Harry and they moved his trunk in the middle of the night, Zabini wearing the invisibility cloak and Harry watching the Marauder's Map closely.

The dreams continued and Harry often awoke with Marvolo's name on his lips, wishing that he were there with him, kissing him, allowing Harry to push his black hair out of his eyes. He didn't think his wanting was entirely normal, but he was too afraid to ask Marvolo. Instead, he found himself waiting one night for Nott on his bed, biting his lip and looking at his friend with a question in his eyes.

"I need you to swear that you will never reveal what I'm about to ask," Harry murmured and Nott immediately put up a Silencing Spell.

In the end they left the dorm and grabbed Montague, a seventh-year, who performed an Unbreakable Oath in the common room, the magic sizzling around them. Everyone looked at the two in curiosity, Pansy Parkinson whispering to Lavinia behind her hand, but no one dared to ask Harry a single question.

"I have a friend," Harry whispered to Nott—Theo—when they were once again ensconced in the dormitory. "A boy. He's graduated," he elaborated. "I have dreams—I want—but he's a boy. Is that normal?"

Nott considered Harry for a moment. "I take it that you fancy this boy—man?"

"Yes," Harry responded, relieved.

Nott looked at him in confusion. "It's completely normal. You're fourteen. Muggle-borns don't much fancy homosexuality, but it's accepted among purebloods. As long as there's an heir somehow or other, no one cares. It's celebrated."

Breathing out a sigh of relief, Harry smiled at him a little.

"Watch Davis in Ravenclaw. He's snogging Montague—at least most of us assume he is."

Harry watched both Montague and Davis as Theo had suggested, and caught the longing looks whenever they passed each other and even noticed that they were each missing from dinner once or twice before walking in separately, Davis grinning stupidly.

Still, Harry found he couldn't quite tell Marvolo. He cared about him too much, didn't want to lose him at all. Instead, he started prying, asking about girls Marvolo knew, trying to discover who his friends were and who he spent time with.

If you want to know something, Hyperion, just ask, he finally wrote and Harry stared at the words, uncertain.

I dream of you, he finally admitted. I want to know if you dream of anyone.

The next time Harry opened the diary, which still was only a third full, he found three long pages of Marvolo's neat and perfect handwriting. He was curled up in an empty classroom near Gryffindor Tower, strangely enough, and he began to read, his hands shaking. Marvolo spoke of his earliest memories, of nightmares of the other children beating him, of hunger, then of snakes, moving, slithering, whispering secrets in the night until he thought he was going mad. He admitted that he dreamt of warm meals and dry beds, and then he wrote that since he went to Hogwarts he would imagine magic as he slept, of greatness, of how to manipulate the professors to his will. I cannot dream within these pages, he finally admitted near the end, and Harry felt his throat constrict, but I find myself imagining you, your green eyes, and what it would sound like for you to breathe out my name when I kissed you.

It was signed, for the first time, Tom Marvolo Riddle, Jr.—Tom, the elusive name of his Muggle father, and tears of happiness fell from Harry's eyes, smudging the black ink. For the first time in his life, he felt that he might be loved.

Harry wasn't surprised when he was called to Professor Dumbledore's office a few days later, though he hadn't been expecting Snape and McGonagall to be in attendance.

"I understand you are no longer sleeping in Gryffindor Tower," Dumbledore began after Harry had taken a seat. "I must confess I find this worrying, Harry, as well as the badges that all of Slytherin House and even some Ravenclaws are wearing."

"You did not seem concerned when they were wearing the 'Potter Stinks' badges, sir," Harry pointed out calmly, his fingers curling around the diary in his pocket.

"The genius of my students never ceases to amaze me," Snape commented absently. "It's a fine bit of charms work—both of the designs."

McGonagall stared at him.

"I think Malfoy was the mastermind behind them," Harry commented absently.

"Yes, well," the Headmaster said, shifting to gaze at the portraits behind him. One of them, a man with gray eyes and a pointed beard, was appraising Harry in open curiosity. He was wearing green and silver as well as a full turban. "I must confess myself ignorant as to why the entire house is addressing you as Hyperion Black Potter."

"My grandmother was a Black," Harry answered carefully.

"And Hyperion?" McGonagall asked.

"I doubt I'm here to answer questions about what my friends call me, professor," Harry answered succinctly.

The portrait looked down at him with approval.

"It is a single instance in a disturbing pattern that is emerging, Harry," Dumbledore responded.

"It's called inter-house relations," Snape answered coldly. "Almost my entire house petitioned for an extra bed so the Heir of Slytherin would feel welcome in his forefather's house. It is not an extraordinary request and it's clearly written in the charter that a direct heir has full access to the castle. This is no different."

"There isn't any actual proof," McGonagall argued.

"I speak Parseltongue."

"As did Lord Voldemort," Dumbledore pointed out.

Harry started, and Dumbledore's eyes gleamed.

"You two are irrevocably linked through your scar."

"You can only speak Parseltongue if you are descended from the Slytherin line," Harry argued, remembering Marvolo's words. "Whatever link Voldemort may or may not have with me does not account for an inherited blood ability, sir."

Dumbledore regarded him for several long minutes. "The ghost Myrtle came to me last month. She told me of a boy who hissed and then disappeared into the pipes. I trust you're aware of the legend of the Chamber of Secrets? Can you tell me anything about that, Harry?"

Harry stared directly back at him, refusing to be the first to look away.

"She said that the boy had black hair, round glasses, and green eyes. He was one of the best fliers she's ever seen."

The headmaster sighed and looked away when Harry didn't answer him.

I wish you could kiss me and make me forget, Harry wrote later that night as he was curled under the blankets in Slytherin. Dumbledore tried to interrogate me. Moaning Myrtle told him I went down into the pipes. I've never been kissed before, not really, and I want you to be my first kiss.

He fell asleep to Marvolo's sloping and elegant handwriting appearing before his tired eyes, whispers of dreams and fantasies and how Marvolo would climb into Harry's bed and hold him tightly, kissing every inch of his face and breathing against his neck until Harry was so contented he could sleep for a hundred years.

"I love you," Harry whispered, although Marvolo couldn't hear him—and then he slept.

Early March brought another Hogsmeade trip and Harry found the dormitory filled with fourth and fifth-year girls who insisted they dress the Heir of Slytherin for his first public appearance. Harry found himself laughing, knowing better than to protest.

"We need to take you shopping," Bulstrode said in resignation when she rooted through Harry's trunk before attacking the other boys' wardrobes to find something for Harry to wear.

"This summer," Lavinia Urquhart comforted her, before turning to Harry. "You simply must not go back to those Muggles I hear you live with for longer than is strictly necessary. We'll all host you—there's nothing to worry about."

Eventually Harry found himself in current pureblood teen fashion, wearing black slacks that were altered from Malfoy and a black turtleneck and jacket from Theo. Warm gloves covered his hands and an ermine lined cloak that appeared from another dormitory was thrown over his shoulders before a Slytherin scarf was wrapped around his neck.

"Rita Skeeter is meeting us after Flint," Zabini remarked. "She's interested in the new Hyperion Potter and how Granger tried to seduce you all these years before turning her sights to Viktor Krum."

"Granger tried to seduce me?" Harry squeaked, looking at Theo. "I don't like girls!"

Greengrass looked heartbroken before Davies elbowed her.

"So who do you like? Which lucky boy?" Lavinia asked.

"I hope he's in Slytherin," Zabini casually remarked. "Please tell me he's a Slytherin!"

Harry and Theo shared a look before the large group left for the Great Hall, Harry stroking the initials on the front of the diary that he slipped into his pocket.

Villagers stared at their group when they walked through Hogsmeade. Harry knew he had been in the papers constantly since the First Task. There had been a great deal of active speculation on his parentage. There had been no trace of Slytherin blood in the Potter line, so people began to wonder if Lily Evans Potter was his actual mother or some pureblood, which created a scandal, and speculation that he had been taken from his birth mother. Harry didn't read the Daily Prophet but one of the Slytherins would paraphrase articles at the breakfast table or read out important quotes and headlines.

"Granger's split from Weasley," Malfoy remarked, pointing to Hermione who was yelling at his former friend. "Word has it they've been fighting since the Yule Ball."

Harry wondered how he hadn't noticed the past few months. He still took classes with the other Gryffindor fourth-years, but he usually sat in the corner or with the Slytherins and Ravenclaws. The Hufflepuffs were all hostile toward him, especially when their buttons had been charmed overnight to read Support Hyperion Potter without their noticing at first.

The group managed to take over Honeydukes, choosing different candies and restocking on personal supplies before they made their way to the Three Broomsticks. They joined a large table where Flint was seated; a round of Butterbeers awaited them.

"The Heir of Slytherin," he greeted, offering his hand much to Harry's surprise. He slapped a pile of parchments onto the table. "Courtesy of Gringotts for the official name change. Hyperion Black Potter, right?"

"Yes," Harry answered carefully as Zabini checked the spelling for him.

Then he was signing and initialing them. Flint tucked away the finished documents, promising to drop them off before the end of the day and said that Gringotts would send a receipt.

"Who chose 'Harry,' anyway?" Millicent asked.

"My mother, I suppose."

"Mudblood," Malfoy hissed under his breath. Harry couldn't find it in himself to object.

Harry slipped away halfway through the interview with Rita Skeeter, allowing everyone else to answer questions on Hermione, though he did mention that she had thought Viktor looked grumpy at the World Cup.

He slipped into the Hog's Head again, preferring the quiet and the out-of-the-way aspect of the pub. He ordered a Butterbeer and noticed that the bartender actually properly cleaned the glass when he was recognized. Then he was writing, writing, writing, the green ink staining his fingers matching the scarf around his neck, wishing he could somehow become one with the words, that he could touch Marvolo, run his fingers along his jaw line, kiss the arch of his neck, and learn what it was to love physically.

I want to see you, I want to hear your voice, Harry wrote desperately, never having wanted anything so much. Anything. Are you even alive now?

You've never mentioned me, Marvolo carefully wrote back. Not under any name, but I'm here in the diary and you're wanted just as much.

Then there were secrets, the story of a cave hidden near the waves, of two orphans who had tormented him, having more than he had, memories of what a family should be like, loved by the cold matron who would spit on Marvolo if he said a word out of line. He had taken them into a cave, whispering into their minds, and then he had created such visions just with a simple thought that to that day, they would not speak of the horrors a young Marvolo crafted. I thought then that there was only greatness and power to be gained, but now I know that elusive emotion, the concept everyone thought that I was too depraved to realize—and all because of you.

That night Harry dreamt he went into the diary, into a memory, all sepia tones and torn edges and he watched as a tall, thin boy with black hair and dark eyes lay against the pillows of a bed much like his own, breathing harshly and running his hand up and down his chest.

"Marvolo," Harry whispered reverently, before stepping carefully forward. But the boy didn't hear him, didn't react. Instead, he gasped as his hand moved lower, touching himself through his trousers, the strokes becoming smoother and harder until he was arching from the bed, his eyes shut, and he breathed out a single name in his climax—Hyperion.

Harry woke up smiling the next morning, the diary open against his chest and black ink on his fingers, although he remembered secreting the book away the night before.

Monday morning, Draco—he was Draco now—read out the lead article of the Daily Prophet gleefully, standing on the bench and even mimicking everyone's voices. As soon as Krum entered, the papers were all put away. He was stoic, eating quietly, his eyes resting on Harry every few minutes, but he otherwise ignored everyone in the hall, Hermione included.

"How could you?" she seethed in Herbology after she soundly slapped him. "How could you do that to me? How could you let them say that I chased after you for your fame and then—after—after I made the mistake of becoming jealous went after Viktor? How, Harry, how?"

She tried to slap him again, but Sprout body bound her, taking twenty points from Gryffindor and then telling Hermione she wouldn't be welcome in the greenhouses for the rest of the week.

A week later Hermione was found stripped down to her knickers and tied to the Quidditch stands. She had been Obliviated and no trace of the perpetrators were found. Krum grunted when he heard but did nothing else. Soon Parkinson and Greengrass whispered that the two had had an argument after the article had come out and that they were no longer on speaking terms.

Hermione became withdrawn, quiet, and soon the Ravenclaws were whispering how her grades were falling and, by the end of March, everyone knew that she had withdrawn from Hogwarts formally and wouldn't be returning for her fifth year. No one was quite certain if she would transfer to one of the foreign schools or if she would return to the Muggle world.

Harry would still hide in cupboards, rarely found except a few times—most notably when Davis and Montague were snogging and fell over him when he was writing to Marvolo.

At night Harry would dream of the room in tones of brown, sometimes joining Marvolo on the bed although he was never quite seen, as if he were caught in a memory or a thought. He would run his lips against Marvolo's shoulder, shivering although, he couldn't feel the skin against his mouth, and whispered Marvolo's name when his body shook in pleasure.

I had another name, Marvolo wrote in April. One I would use, that people would respect or fear, but you've never mentioned it.

Harry's mind turned to the present and all he could think of was Voldemort.

There was a dark lord, Harry hesitantly wrote. He was insane. He—he was defeated but is trying to return. I try not to think about him—he killed my parents. I don't know why.

Marvolo paused and then changed the subject, sharing stories of his mother that he had made up when he was a child, imagining that she was the most beautiful woman on the entire earth, although he later learned she was quite plain and her own family despised her.

Harry wrote of his own mother, how he had seen photographs of her, how she was beautiful with ginger hair and green eyes, brilliant in Charms. He wrote of the Mirror of Erised from his first year, how he had seen his mum and dad and perhaps his grandparents, all smiling at him. Then he scribbled down Dumbledore taking the mirror away, how he wondered if he would see Marvolo smiling back at him now if he ever found the mirror again.

McGonagall tried to talk to him several times after class, telling him that his place was in the Gryffindor dorms, how that's what his parents would want, but he only listened politely before going to his next class.

Harry's dreams became more and more intense and sometimes he thought that Marvolo could almost sense him, would be touching himself when Harry was present because they couldn't touch each other.

"A bloody maze," Harry breathed under his breath—and the real work began. The Slytherins took it in shifts to tutor him outside of class, the seventh-years giving him the nastiest hexes and jinxes they could think of, while the younger students focused on tactics.

He saw Moody as well as Dumbledore watching him closely as he disappeared with large groups of students just after dinner.

Some of the girls began to compose a list of all the Slytherin boys and start firing off their names during training to try and throw him off, obviously hoping to discover whom Harry fancied.

"Anyone in Slytherin would be honored," Millicent remarked one night as a large group of them sat in the library, doing their work, "to be considered a potential consort."

"Consort?" Harry asked, confused.

"It's the traditional term," Theo answered him. "You have standing in society and you're heir to one of the Founders—and you're going to win this tournament. Whoever you ultimately choose would be referred to as your consort in polite society. Mudbloods wouldn't understand."

Harry bit his lip. "It wouldn't be the other way around? It must be the other way around," he murmured and turned back to his Defense essay for Moody.

"It doesn't matter if he's older," Theo protested.

"It would still be the other way around," he murmured under his breath, Urquhart looking at him with open curiosity.

The night before the Third Task, Harry sat on his bed writing in the diary, his fingers smoothing the pages. The book was still only a third full and yet was no larger. He wrote of his cupboard, of the hidden nooks and crannies where he secreted away his small childhood treasures: a broken toy that had once been Dudley's, a small scrap of blanket that had his previous initials, a half eaten candy bar from when he was seven which he couldn't bring himself to eat since it was too precious, a copy of The Merchant of Venice his primary school was going to sell for a pound and which he nicked as he'd never had his own book before.

He described lying in the small bed as he grew older, feeling his legs stretch almost painfully and wondering what would happen if he became too tall to sleep on the bed—although none of that mattered anymore as he was given Dudley's second bedroom. He admitted that Piers would sometimes sneak into his cupboard and wait for him, and then there were kisses that Harry couldn't refuse because Piers threatened to tell Dudley. I left when he did that, he wrote quietly, tears threatening to slip down his face. I would be present but I would leave my body. It wasn't happening to me. I wouldn't do that when you kissed me—my first real kiss.

And then Marvolo wrote back, at first the quill strokes scratchy and irritated as he recounted his first kiss when he was twelve—he had decided to practice on the Muggles at the orphanage, had taken the prettiest girl and made her forget later when he decided she was beneath him, then he had charmed a man who was there with his wife wanting to adopt a baby, had traced the lines of his face when his wife was cooing over infants and Marvolo had called to his mind, and had kissed the man as the Muggle stared at the ceiling, unseeing and yet so responsive. It excited me, Hyperion, that I could make him do it, that I could Imperius a Muggle without a wand. The kisses were glorious and yet empty. When I finally kiss you. . .

Then Harry fell into images, words and promises of how Marvolo would lay him on his bed and settle beside him, one hand wrapped in Harry's messy hair while the other plucked the glasses off his nose, and then Marvolo would kiss him achingly slowly until Harry was gasping, arching, wanting more. Marvolo would tease him, whisper dirty fantasies in his ear, nuzzle their noses when Harry whimpered from want.

Harry shivered his release, the words still pouring onto the page.

The diary was safely placed in his pocket for the Third Task, and Harry found himself entering the maze first, knowing that Krum would shortly follow. He wasn't certain who was in third and fourth place. Delacour hadn't completed the Second Task and Diggory had been the worst off after the first. It didn't matter. All that did was the cup.

Curses were thrown and then Delacour sent up red sparks. Harry raced forward, Acromantulas in his way. Then Krum was battling Diggory, but Harry didn't care, he was still running, whispering answers to riddles, and then fighting a Dementor who turned out to be a Boggart. He saw the cup at the center of the maze and smiled, until he noticed Diggory racing for it. Then he was running, sprinting faster than if Dudley and his gang were chasing him, and he grasped the cup, but so did Diggory. And then they were both gone.

Slamming into the ground, Harry looked around; the cup—a Portkey—dropped from his hands and he found himself in a graveyard. Broken stones with letters that Harry could not read in the darkness, the figure of an angel, a mockery in the face of the blood that pumped through Harry's veins.

There was a flash of green light and Diggory fell dead beside him. Harry's wand was no longer in his hand, but he could still feel the diary in his pocket, calming him, giving him strength as Wormtail took his blood. Then Voldemort was rising, rising, rising again and looking at him strangely, his head cocked to the side in contemplation.

"An Heir of Slytherin," he hissed in Parseltongue, startling Harry, "somehow sprung from the loins of a blood-traitor Potter and a Mudblood."

He turned away from Harry, his snakelike visage hidden in shadows. There were "pops" of Apparition and Harry realized he was in the middle of a circle of robed figures like those at the World Cup. The moon shone out from behind a cloud, illuminating them, but Harry couldn't see, couldn't recognize them—all that existed was the grass beneath his feet, the stones that seemed to whimper in the face of death, the unseeing gaze of the angel, a shadow of where Diggory was now if there were such creatures as angels that flew up in the sky.

"Lucius," Voldemort called and a figure dropped to his knees. "I find that a certain diary was somehow passed to the Heir of Slytherin. You wouldn't happen to know anything about it, would you?"

The figure opened his mouth to speak, but Voldemort Silenced him, his bare feet skating along the earth, the shadows encasing him as if he were wearing the shroud of the dead.

"What is most curious is that Hyperion Black Potter is then revealed as a natural Parselmouth and somehow, despite prolonged contact with the artifact, did not manage to die. Curious, most curious." Red eyes flashed to Harry and then he was released, his fingers instantly curling around the diary in his pocket. "Do not worry, boy," Voldemort drawled. "I would never take Marvolo away from one he finds precious enough to allow to live. You may go quietly with the cup and keep your own counsel outside of Slytherin house, or you may fight me to the death. Which do you choose?"

Harry hesitated, staring at the man who had risen again—the man who had killed his parents. "You know Marvolo?" he hissed. "Is he well?"

A smirk passed across Voldemort's features. "Yes," he responded casually. "Marvolo is a kinsman of mine; I myself am a Gaunt. He is quite well and happy in your hands, from what his friend has told me. Tell him of this meeting, Hyperion Potter. Tell him that I have risen again—I am certain he has been anxious for my health."

Harry looked around at the hooded and masked figures and then ran toward the cup, angel eyes mocking him. He stared briefly at Cedric's dead body before he was once again flung from the graveyard, landing amid cheers and applause outside of the maze.

TBC…

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A/N: Thanks to KAMERREON, who is now the beta of this fic! You're amazing!


Part the Third

The entire Slytherin dormitory somehow managed to pack itself into the Hospital Wing as Harry was treated. Madam Pomfrey looked at the gash on his arm for several long moments. "Knives in a tournament with children," she muttered before trying to heal it with magic. When that didn't work, she cleaned it and then sewed it back together. Draco stared at the process avidly while saying he had never seen anything so strange.

Several hours and potions later, he was being carried toward Slytherin to a rambunctious party. Firewhisky was passed around freely, and Harry found himself smiling, though he slipped away early in the morning to write in the diary.

Voldemort rose again. He wished for me to tell you. Then he ended with words of love, the first time that had been written between them before he was pulled back toward the party, which lasted for days upon days.

"Diggory's missing," Zabini remarked a few days later after he and a few others had gone to raid the kitchens; three days into the party that never seemed to end they had begun to run low on food. A few other students had gone to Hogsmeade to stock up on liquor.

"I know," Harry returned, swiping a pastry. "Voldemort killed him. Your father was there," Harry added to a surprised looking Draco.

Everyone was suddenly rushing to the windows, looking for owls that had been hovering for days. Letters were ripped open and then the party became even wilder than before, if that were even possible.

"What's he like?" Goyle asked, his eyes wide.

"He's a Parselmouth," was the first thing Harry said. "We're somehow related. It's a bit disturbing, actually."

Three days before the leaving feast, Snape appeared in their midst and found Harry curled up in one of the few closets in the entire dorm, writing frantically in the diary about the first time he had met Hagrid, and everything he had been told—all of it—which now seemed like nothing more than half-truths and lies.

Snape pushed a Sobriety Potion at him and told him that he had exactly half an hour to shower and make himself presentable—Dumbledore wanted to see him.

After his shower the girls descended on him (it appeared that Snape had finally arrived to break up the party and had been handing out Sobriety Potions to everyone who needed them; Harry wondered just how extensive a stock he had and whether or not these week-long parties were typical in Slytherin house). He managed to look presentable in all black again, and Urquhart made him promise that he would go shopping with her next week and that they would owl once they got home.

Dumbledore was not alone; McGonagall was once again with him.

"You're out of your school robes," Dumbledore remarked reproachfully.

Harry sighed and took his seat. "Yes, sir. Classes are over and we were celebrating back in the dorm."

McGonagall sniffed at him.

"Mr. Potter, are you aware that Mr. Diggory is missing—that he never came out of the maze?"

Harry shrugged. "Blaise might have mentioned it but we were in the middle of celebrating, and then people were checking their owls, and I forgot about it, sir." It wasn't the complete truth, but it wasn't a lie either.

Dumbledore's eyes twinkled dangerously and he held Harry's gaze for several long moments. "You watched him die," he finally said, shock in his voice. "You watched him die and then you were held prisoner while Voldemort rose again—out of a cauldron."

Harry's eyebrows rose in shock.

"You can't be serious," McGonagall gasped, but Snape kept his expression strangely blank. "It's not possible!"

"No," Dumbledore concurred, "it shouldn't be." He tried to catch Harry's gaze again, but Harry wouldn't look at him, a shiver running down his spine when he realized that somehow Dumbledore had divined the truth only when he looked within his eyes. How was that even possible? It frightened him, sent a chill through him, and his fingers clasped possessively around the diary in his pocket as he tried to keep his breathing even and steady.

"Harry," Dumbledore tried again.

"Hyperion."

In the end, they had been forced to let Harry return to the dorms, where he shakily fell into a chair. "He knew. He looked into my eyes and he knew," he said to Theo wildly. "How could Dumbledore know that Diggory died and Voldemort rose from a cauldron by just looking at me?"

No one allowed him to be alone and defenseless outside of the dungeon after that. The day after Dumbledore had interrogated him, Crabbe showed him the front page of the Daily Prophet.

Harry's jaw clenched. "How dare he," he murmured. Montague and Lavinia snuck him out of the dorms and into Hogsmeade, where he was pushed into a booth in the Hog's Head; Rita Skeeter sat opposite him with her acid green quill. It was time for damage control.

It was relatively simple. Harry simply said that he had gone into the maze, fought various creatures, and then raced Diggory for the cup. Next thing he knew, he was in front of the maze and he knew he had won. He had never told anyone that Voldemort had returned or that Diggory was dead, and he would prefer not to be slandered, especially when his legal name wasn't even being used properly.

"I hope we work with each other again, Mr. Potter," she said, slipping him her card. He put it inside the diary, knowing he wouldn't lose it there.

The next day there was another party in Slytherin house when the article was published and Harry found himself laughingly signing copies on a lark. Skeeter had somehow managed to get hold of a picture someone had taken of him in the dormitory, dressed completely in black, his legs curled underneath him as he sat in an armchair and wrote in the diary, the initials TMR just visible above his knees.

"You look rather handsome," Daphne remarked, sighing wistfully. "The strong, silent type. You look like a pureblood heir."

The final leaving feast was subdued, with hangings of black in memory of Diggory. Dumbledore stood at the head of the hall, his eyes boring into Harry, who refused to look back, as he announced that despite recent denials in the Prophet, Voldemort had returned and he had killed Cedric. The entire Hufflepuff table was crying and Harry noticed that Lavender looked almost gaunt as she sat beside Ginny Weasley, whose eyes sought him out obsessively.

I love you, Marvolo wrote the night before Harry was to leave for the summer, back to the Dursleys. Luckily, he had several invitations lined up and some of his friends promised to visit and terrorize the Muggles. Little Astoria Greengrass had even promised to come round the first week and redo his room. She claimed she wanted to be an interior decorator and that doing the Heir of Slytherin's room would help jumpstart her career—even though she was only thirteen.

I'm in love with you. Now, for the first time in my life, I realize why my mother wouldn't have cared that my father was a Muggle if she felt a fraction of what I feel for you. Before the summer is out, I swear on my magic that you will lie beneath me as I make love to you for the first time. I will make you gasp my name until you forget every other word you've ever spoken.

Harry shivered at the thought, his mind imagining the event, knowing that if Marvolo promised, it would come to pass.

The Dursleys were absolutely terrified when Theo first turned up and opened their locked door, looking into the kitchen and telling Harry he had to eat more than part of a melon, he was thin enough already. His older brother was with him, who strangely bowed when he met Harry, and then they told him he was coming with them to Diagon Alley for breakfast "as Muggles just make you lose your appetite."

Harry didn't complain.

Days later, he was at the Malfoys' during an unexpected raid, locked in the closet of his bedroom, writing to Marvolo, imagining Marvolo's lips against his, his hands roaming over him, the sensation of tongue against tongue, the feel of crotch against crotch, and the sound of a voice he had only heard in dreams whispering words of love and eternity.

Harry hadn't heard them. There must have been spells up so he didn't, but then the closet door swung open and a light shined on his face and he was being pulled up by his arm. He tried to push the diary into his pocket, to keep it safe, but one of the men in bright purple robes grabbed it and flipped through the pages, looking at the handwriting that was appearing.

"A potential dark artifact," he said in a deep voice. Then Harry was led away, Draco reaching out for him, but his father holding him back, whispering in his ear as his eyes followed Harry, promising that he would get him out.

Harry later realized that they had taken him to the Ministry for Magic. Lucius Malfoy got to him just after Dumbledore, who was now holding the diary in his hands.

"Tom Marvolo Riddle," he intoned. "I am Lord Voldemort."

Harry's heart clenched.

Lucius Malfoy threw around his name and money and in the end no one read the diary, just gave it back to Harry with strange looks on their faces, as if they wished they had clearance to flip through the pages. Dumbledore had him escorted back to Privet Drive, maintaining some of his authority, and within a few hours the guards arrived, taking him in the night to London, to Grimmauld Place.

"I need to see that diary," Dumbledore said the next evening. He and Harry were in the dark kitchen. "You are in possession of a dark artifact—using it. It once belonged to Voldemort."

"I don't care," Harry hissed back, anger flashing through his eyes. "You have no right to demand it of me."

The Weasleys were there—as was Sirius—but Harry locked himself into cupboards. The house-elf was surprisingly helpful in that, and he wrote to Marvolo, whispering Dumbledore's accusations, but Marvolo never refuted them, instead writing words of love, words of thanks, and then promising that soon—soon they would become one.

It happened just after midnight a few days after Harry's fifteenth birthday. Harry snuck up to the attic, bowing to Buckbeak, and crawled into a cubbyhole with the diary. He opened the diary and rested his quill against the first page, when the words that would change his life appeared in black ink: Let me make love to you.

With a simple, shakily written yes, the world dissolved around Harry and he found himself back in the Slytherin dormitory, the colors dulled and brown and yet utterly perfect. Marvolo was there, his robes thrown casually over a chair, braces half undone and utterly mouth watering, and then they were kissing, gently, wantonly, trapped within the diary.

The sun set through the window, a warm brown light that faded into beige, as Marvolo first slid into him, their mouths hovering just inches apart, wanting, needing, but too painful before the pleasure came.

"You're so beautiful," Marvolo hissed afterward, drawing lazy patterns on Harry's chest as he held him close.

"I never want to leave," Harry murmured in response.

Marvolo kissed him again, reverently, and Harry knew that Marvolo wanted that as well—he just wouldn't say it.

Harry wasn't certain how long he remained within the diary, watching as the sun rose and set in this otherworld, the smudge of ink against the furnishings and the rough tone of paper where walls should be. Marvolo would kiss him repeatedly, teaching Harry, whispering secrets of how he had practiced on Muggles, hoping, yet never believing that he would find someone to teach, to share this love with, and glad that he had waited in the dairy for his Hyperion, as he could no longer imagine an existence without him.

They finally parted with tear-filled sighs and gentle caresses, and when Harry found himself once again in the cubbyhole, a warm meal was waiting for him. The pads of his fingers brushed against his kiss-swollen lips. As he shifted briefly, he could feel the new, but familiar ache shoot through his spine, causing him to smile.

"Who's the lucky girl?" Sirius crassly teased the next morning at the breakfast table, where Harry had grudgingly come down when he couldn't find Kreacher who was sometimes forced to help clean or ordered to go somewhere or do something. He had gotten rather hungry, especially after the moments—hours—days of lovemaking. "You have that look about you."

Harry had barely spoken to Sirius throughout the past year and spoke even less to him now that they were residing under the same roof—as well as the Weasleys.

Ginny looked up, her eyes wide and hopeful.

The diary was safely within his pocket, and he stroked the spine lovingly, imagining that Marvolo could somehow sense the action, know that Harry was thinking about him, wanting him, loving him from afar.

Eventually the Order had to allow him to go to Diagon Alley, especially when Harry had made Prefect, much to Ron's displeasure. He heard Mrs. Weasley muttering to Ron about pressure from the Ministry and how the student with the highest grades held the honor. Ginny congratulated him sweetly, the twins briefly teasing him until he hissed at them to stop, their faces showing their shock.

Harry had written to most of his friends. The Order guard found Harry quickly surrounded by various Slytherin students, all wanting to show him a different shop, or help him pick out his books or new robes so that he wouldn't have to borrow everyone else's.

"How's your consort-to-be?" Lavinia teased when they all sat down at Florean Fortescue's, ordering ice creams and ignoring Moody's scowls and the reporters that were taking photographs indiscreetly. It had turned out that Moody hadn't been Moody at all the year before, and had been found alive on his office floor a few days after the Third Task without his eye, leg, and a great deal of his hair. Theo had suggested at the time that it was easily a case of Polyjuice Potion.

"Have you seen him?" Theo asked, his blue eyes glittering, and Harry blushed slightly.

"You have!" Blaise remarked cheerfully. "Please tell me he's a Slytherin—or at least a Ravenclaw."

Harry found himself laughing happily for the first time outside of the diary's pages since he had been taken to the Ministry.

In second year I first discovered that girls, especially ones with red hair, were frightening, Harry wrote the night before he was to go to Hogwarts. After a vehement argument with Sirius about sharing a room with Ron, saying that they clearly both hated each other and that there was more than enough room in the pile of bricks, he had been given his own, one which had once belonged to Sirius's younger brother Regulus. It all started on Valentine's Day. Hermione had a crush on Lockhart and wouldn't stop staring at him when it arrived.

They made love that night within the pages of the diary. Marvolo's presence gave him strength as he taught Harry how to touch him, how to prepare him, how to make love. Harry's gentle thrusts were unsure at first and then stronger, more even as he leaned down and kissed Marvolo's waiting lips, brushing his tongue across the bottom one gently, begging for entrance.

Sirius looked at him perceptively, too perceptively the next morning as he walked slightly differently. He felt as if he, perhaps, was now grown up a little more after Marvolo had whispered quiet assurances to him, of the pleasure, of the pain, how he wanted whatever Harry could give him.

Kingsley Shacklebolt, a member of the Order, soon came down the stairs. Sirius shouted at him, saying that there was no one in the house that Harry was speaking to, that Harry had clearly taken someone the night before and the only difference was that Kingsley was there. Wands were drawn, the table upended, and the Weasleys looked on incredulously before a few more Order members arrived and broke up the fight.

Harry never uttered a word and Tonks—whom he disliked when she mentioned that her mother was Andromeda Black—had rushed him away with Moody, taking him to King's Cross where he boarded the train.

"Sirius thought that I slept with Kingsley Shacklebolt," he admitted to Draco as they made their way to the prefects' carriage. "They started a duel before I left."

"And did you sleep with this—who? Kingsley?"

"No. My consort," he admitted quietly. "I don't know how Sirius knew. I just came downstairs—"

"Adults can somehow tell. You might have looked too happy or held yourself differently," Pansy suggested. Harry still didn't like her but he offered her a small smile.

His mood dampened when the Head Boy announced that prefects were expected and required to sleep in their assigned dorms. Harry's heart sank. He had wondered why Dumbledore had bowed to pressure and now he knew. He wanted Harry away from the Slytherins, and this was the way to do it.

"Slytherin," Ron hissed angrily that night when Harry climbed into bed in Gryffindor Tower. He closed the drapes and then opened the diary, tracing Marvolo's words, memories of his first Arithmancy class when he started learning that numbers and magic were intricately linked, looking in the future, and later realizing that the diary he wrote his notes in was somehow important, that the numbers all pointed to it. Now, so many decades later, it has fallen into your hands, and the numbers were finally right.

Harry wasn't certain how he felt about the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor—a woman who favored pink and kittens named Umbridge—but Draco assured him that his father said she was relatively harmless.

There was some grumbling about him being awarded his position back on the Gryffindor Quidditch team given the fact that he rarely spoke to other Gryffindors and spent most of his free time in the dungeons, but Angelina wouldn't hear anything else. "We want to win this, don't we?" she stated angrily during practice before warning Ron that he would be off the team if he couldn't work better with the established team.

The other Gryffindor prefect, Rosa Vane, sometimes sat with him in class when they were sharing with Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws, and Harry found he didn't mind her. She was a little self-absorbed and perhaps vapid whenever she was speaking about anything other than classes, but she wasn't like Ginny who followed him around as much as possible.

Sometimes Harry would dream that Marvolo came from the diary and would hold him as he slept, reigning kisses upon him and stroking his face and thighs gently, before kissing him while Harry continued to dream on. He would wake up with his heart fluttering, and notice that there were ink stains wherever Marvolo had touched him. He refused to scrub or glamour them away, and occasionally a classmate would remark on them or McGonagall would charm the ink stains away, stating calmly that she expected more of her prefect.

I remember the first times I saw the Thestrals that pull the carriages, Marvolo confessed in the diary. I never saw Myrtle die so it wasn't until the beginning of my sixth year. It was the deaths of my father and grandparents. They were so terrified when I walked into the room, looking like a scion of their pathetic Muggle house. My father started screeching about the spawn of the seductress—my mother—lies pouring out of his mouth until the very end. Thestrals are an ample reward for the deed, so beautiful, so unearthly, invisible like I once was.

That night Harry fell into the pages of the diary and held Marvolo as he sobbed against him, tears never quite falling from his beautiful dark eyes. Harry whispered words of love, of forever, of a way to somehow be together in the light of day or forever within these pages, safe so that no one would ever find them. Marvolo kissed him, laying him against the brown-toned sheets, the edges curled like an aged photograph.

As Marvolo ran his hands across Harry's naked ribs, across the bridge of Harry's nose, Harry whispered the story of his parents' death—of Voldemort, their kinsman—of the Killing Curse that he saw when the Dementors came close—of the legacy of being the Boy-Who-Lived. Then there were lust-filled kisses and Marvolo made him forget as Harry's hands were pinned above his head, his hips bucking upward, wanting any contact with his beloved Marvolo.

Harry awoke the next morning, the diary held tightly against his naked chest. He was bare and still aching for Marvolo.

After acting up one too many times, Ron was kicked off of the Quidditch team and promptly blamed Harry. He wouldn't stop hurling insults during practice and Angelina finally had enough. They had to hold tryouts again just before their game with Slytherin, but Harry didn't really care.

Umbridge wreaked havoc at Hogwarts, but Harry was mostly unaffected. She would simper at him and constantly compliment him on his well done copying, which frightened Harry quite a bit.

They lay under the stars when Harry fell into the diary, Marvolo's back against an old tree as he pointed up at the sky. He held Harry possessively in his arms, his breath against his ear, and traced the constellations and reviewed Harry's Astronomy lessons. "You must get as many O.W.L.s as possible," he explained quietly when Harry arched against him, presenting his waiting lips to be kissed. "I would have all doors open to you when you graduate."

Still, Marvolo's hand crept up Harry's pale throat, caressing, brushing against Harry's pulse point, and then holding the line of his jaw. Dark eyes looked into green ones paled to brown in the world within the ink stained pages, and then tongues caressed each other, love expressed and whispered. The stars were momentarily forgotten, before Marvolo drew away with a sigh and once again began his lesson; Harry forced himself to listen attentively.

Just before Halloween, Harry was called to Dumbledore's office, and wasn't certain if he was pleased or not that no one else had been invited—unlike last time. "I need to see that diary," he said solemnly. "You've had it long enough."

Harry grimaced, thankful that he had left it with Blaise at the last minute under threat of feeding him to the creature in the Chamber of Secrets if anything happened to it.

"It's private property," Harry responded. "It's a book I write in. Unless you're in the habit of reading students' personal thoughts." His eyes flickered to Dumbledore, refusing to look him in the eye. "I thought not."

Shortly after that, Harry began to notice that Cho Chang would appear when he least expected it, and it became a well-established joke in the Slytherin common room that she had switched from one Triwizard Champion to another and appeared to be a second Granger. Harry tried to avoid her as much as possible, but she kept on finding him when he was all alone, sometimes in the evenings when he would climb to the top of the Astronomy Tower to review what Marvolo had taught him or the owlery.

Cho is almost worse than Ginny Weasley, he confided one day when he managed to commandeer a cupboard between his O.W.L.-level classes. Doesn't she have studying to do?

This was followed by dirty fantasies spilling out onto the page, Marvolo's promises for what he would do to Harry the next time they were together, how he would tie him up and then use his mouth to erase all other thoughts until Harry was begging him to be properly touched.

Harry never quite made it to class, his eyes never leaving the diary's pages. He longed for Marvolo.

"Someone called Sturgis Podmore was caught trying to break into the Ministry," Draco read out at breakfast the next morning. He'd become the Slytherin trumpeter, as Millicent liked to call him, reading through the paper and summarizing everything Harry might be interested in as he refused to read it himself. "Oh, and Krum is dating a Scottish witch."

Harry looked up. "Krum's dating someone?"

"Yes, Iona MacDonald. I think she was in Ravenclaw last year and graduated."

He paused. "Anyone know what happened to Granger?"

Everyone around him looked perplexed. No news then.

In early December when he fell into the diary, he could feel time shift, but thought nothing of it. Marvolo was there, as usual, but this time they weren't in the Slytherin dorms or even at Hogwarts.

"I wanted to show it to you," Marvolo whispered into his ear as they climbed a hill. Harry knew the grass under his feet should be green instead of the beige it was in this strange half-memory, but he could still see the beauty of it. "I've been working on this since summer," Marvolo confessed. They crested the hill and looked at a grand manor house, gardens sprawling elegantly in front of it.

Harry began to run forward, and then twirled, looking down the hill into a sleepy little village, the sky clear and the sun shining in brilliant yellows and whites.

"My Muggle grandfather is—was—the local squire. Not titled, or anything, but still. Wealthy. Been on the land since before the Norman invasion. If things had been different—" He sounded wistful, looking at the beautiful house. "But now, I can share it here—with you."

Marvolo had planned everything, showing Harry the various rooms and then taking him upstairs to the grandest bedroom.

"Love you," Harry whispered as he let Marvolo undress him carefully. It was sweet, tender, loving and, as they made love, Marvolo whispered that he would lay this house and everything else in the world at Harry's feet—and Harry believed him. The sunlight never changed, Harry never got tired, never got cold or hungry. Instead, there was only Marvolo and his sweet lips, the press of his hands, his gentle thrusts and infectious groans.

He hadn't thought anything of how many times they made love, how Marvolo would take him into the adjoining room and bathe him, kissing every inch of his skin before they began again. Occasionally they would dress in nothing more than their trousers and explore the house or go outside, where Harry would sit among the flowers and then kiss the smug grin off Marvolo's face.

"I have a question," he murmured in the unchanging sunlight, looking into Marvolo's handsome face, his dark eyes, the even darker hair that made him resemble Harry so much. He wondered if he hadn't received his looks from the Potters as he had often thought, but from the Slytherin line . . . considering.

"Anything," Marvolo whispered beneath him, turning his head to the side so that Harry could nibble a path down his beautifully white neck.

"Something Voldemort said—about the diary—" he murmured before he whispered his fears in Marvolo's ears, of how Voldemort had said he must have been precious to be permitted to live. He didn't understand—how Dumbledore had said that the diary had once been in Voldemort's possession, and Harry wondered if he had walked among these pages, if he had experienced what Harry had, if he had loved Marvolo as Harry now loved him—

There were kisses and solemn promises and oaths, and Harry once again lost himself in Marvolo, forgetting his questions, succumbing only to the love and pleasure that washed over him until, finally, he walked back down the past, the brown flowers blooming at his feet, and then awoke into a world of color.

A throat cleared and Harry looked up, surprised to see that the diary was in his lap and that he—Harry—was seated in a corner of Dumbledore's office.

"It is Tuesday afternoon," the headmaster said sternly. Harry shivered. He'd been in the diary all weekend, had even missed two days of classes.

"I—" Harry began, looking down at himself and seeing that fortunately he was in his uniform. "It was a simple—miscalculation," he hedged, trying to figure out how he hadn't realized so much time was passing. He didn't expect Marvolo to. He lived within a diary, after all, among its ink stained pages. "It will not happen again."

"See that it doesn't. As it is, forty points from Gryffindor, Mr. Potter."

Everyone stared at him when he reappeared in class, but he said nothing, the diary safe in his pocket. That night he didn't bother to return to Gryffindor Tower, instead finding a warm comfy chair in Slytherin and opening the small book, looking at the words that had filled the page since he had returned.

This diary holds a piece of myself, it began hesitantly. If I were to wish it, I could feed off of your secrets and choose to live again in your world. It's to ensure my survival. But with your first words, I began to fall in love with you, although I didn't know that's what it was. I thought I was just intrigued . . . but when I felt your life strengthening mine, I knew I couldn't bear to lose you—so I asked for ink and poured my secrets back into you, giving you my strength and ensuring your life. Forgive me for not telling you sooner.

"I would give my life for yours," Harry murmured, though no one heard him.

That night as he went to sleep, he didn't dream of Marvolo, but instead of winding corridors, of a door that he wanted to open, and when he awoke he wondered at it before briefly penning his reply. It was simple, but said everything he knew Marvolo needed to hear: I love you.

TBC…

Please Review!


A/N: Sorry for the delay! RL interfered so it's a few days late, but the final installment will be up on Wednesday barring my computer's unfortunate demise (which I don't expect). Also, Octavian also appears briefly in this chapter, for fans of Of Princes and Fireflies.


Part the Fourth

The strange dreams continued throughout December, and Harry found that he recognized it as the place he had been taken after the raid at Malfoy Manor. When he climbed into the diary's pages at night, he would only stay long enough to make love three times and then, pressing a lingering kiss to Marvolo's lips, would leave with tears in his eyes, to awake in an empty bed.

"Is love supposed to be painful?" he mused to Theo one morning in Potions.

"I've never been in love," was his response before he squeezed Harry's hand.

Just before Christmas break, Harry woke in a dead sweat, his scar splitting open and bleeding painfully. He couldn't believe what he had just witnessed, and quickly leaned over the side of his bed and vomited. The diary was held in his hand and, not caring for the consequences, he rushed out of the room and out the portrait hole, ignoring that it was after curfew or that he could receive detention. He ran through the castle, his lungs heaving painfully as pain split open his head until he reached the Slytherin dungeons.

He wasn't as silent as he might have hoped for as soon as he entered the fifth-year boys' dormitory. Everyone was awake and coming toward him, pressing damp cloths against his bleeding forehead, or fetching him potions or glasses of water to help calm him, pushing him onto Goyle's bed, which was the closest.

"I saw—again—I saw," he told his friends desperately. "I was the snake and I attacked—the snake attacked Mr. Weasley and he's bleeding to death. What do I do? I—Voldemort—kinsman—Marvolo—" He was at a loss for words.

Theo came up beside him and ran a cool cloth across his forehead. "Who is Marvolo?"

Harry sighed. "My consort—a kinsman to Voldemort. We're all heirs of Slytherin."

His hand pressed against the pages of the diary. He knew he could open it, write in it, but his hands were shaking too much and he needed words, he needed to be in the present when he decided, as much as he loved his Marvolo.

"And are Marvolo and the Dark Lord," Draco reasoned, "affectionate?"

Harry nodded, remembering how Voldemort wanted Marvolo to know he was well, how Marvolo had been relieved to hear it. He had his answer.

As a child he hadn't been neutral but ever since Voldemort had taken his blood and offered him a choice, he had been essentially separated from the brewing war. He said nothing for or against either side, only corrected what they said about him in the case of Albus Dumbledore and his assertions about what he had seen within Harry's mind.

"I—" he opened his mouth to speak just as Snape swept into the room, somehow alerted to the disturbance in the middle of the night.

He was brought before the Headmaster after Snape had taken one glance at his bleeding scar, and he held the diary firmly as he sat in a chair and repeated over and over again that he had simply had a nightmare and wanted to talk to his friends.

He thought of Arthur Weasley, bleeding, full of poison, but turned his mind away. It was out of his hands. He was only an observer, he reminded himself.

I killed a man yesterday, Harry wrote when he found himself at Grimmauld Place, everyone's faces long and full of grief from the recent news. I saw it happen within my mind, and told no one when I was questioned. I only thought of you and how the one who had done it—or I suspect to have done it—was your kinsman.

He barely spent any time in his room, disturbed by the cries and wails of the Weasleys who were in residence. Without Mr. Weasley's small income, they could not afford to keep the Burrow and it was being sold so that the children could finish their schooling properly. Sirius had offered Grimmauld Place to them as their new home.

When Harry opened the diary later, he saw the short reply. Our kinsman, Hyperion.

Harry had a smile on his face the rest of the day, much to Ginny's ire. He found that despite her father's recent death, distance hadn't grown between them in her mind. Instead, she sought him out for comfort and, a few times, he found himself with her in the drawing room, trying to talk about heaven and how all good people go there, crossing himself mentally from the list of good people given his recent actions.

"It would cheer me up," Ginny remarked one day casually over a somber dinner when both Tonks and Emmeline Vance were present (Kingsley was no longer allowed apart from meetings concerning Sirius's suspicions about him, even though Kingsley flatly denied them; Harry refused to speak on the matter), "if I had a boyfriend to help me through it. . . ." She looked pointedly at Harry, who stared at her.

"I'm taken," he responded casually.

Ginny was in tears for the rest of the holiday.

One girl's dreams of being Mrs. Potter ruined, far too many to go, Harry wrote jokingly just before the end of the holiday. He had tucked himself into a nook in the attic after properly greeting Buckbeak. He was writing again, this time of the little girl Susie with pigtails who asked him if he wanted to kiss her when they were eight before Dudley frightened her away. Then of the boy he had met his third year with golden hair and black, soulful eyes on the train, of fancying Cho Chang his third year before Marvolo had erased thoughts of any other.

Then Marvolo was writing back about a Slytherin girl named Lucretia, his fellow prefect. She was most indiscrete, he admitted, almost a laugh to his writing. She would wear her skirts high, showing her knees and turning out her ankle, and do up her corset too tightly to emphasize her womanly hips. Just before Christmas his fifth year, she had snuck into his dorm and kissed him awake. He had promptly thrown her out of the dorm, and had been considered unapproachable ever since, which apparently had pleased him.

"You have a—boyfriend?" Sirius broached the subject carefully when Harry finally emerged downstairs. A spattering of Weasleys were at the table, but Sirius spoke quietly enough.

Harry only nodded and offered his godfather a smile, the first one he had gifted him since he had first found the diary.

"He makes you happy?"

They stared at each other for several long moments, and Sirius seemed satisfied.

"At least it's not Kingsley," he murmured, much to Harry's amusement.

He told Marvolo all about the short conversation when he lay once again in Marvolo's arms, brown and white light playing across their bare shoulders as they rested in the grass in front of the manor house.

Marvolo's soft lips caught his in a half-sigh, and Harry rolled on top of him, supporting himself on his elbows, drinking in everything Marvolo could give him. He never wanted this to end, never wanted to leave, and he despaired that while he grew older, Marvolo never would, not within these pages. He would never stop loving Marvolo; he was everything—Harry only feared that as he grew older, Marvolo would never care for him in the same way. He could happily come here still when he was old and gray, but he couldn't imagine Marvolo would be as happy, then.

Something would have to be done—he only had to decide what, as he would never willingly give up the press of Marvolo's body against his, the sweet and passionate kisses, the feeling that he was cherished and would be loved until eternity called him in death.

"Unbreakable oaths," were his first words to his friends when they met up in a private compartment on the Hogwarts Express. "I need something done, and I have no idea how to go about it."

"We need Montague," Lavinia was the first to suggest and then she was out of the compartment, presumably to seek him out.

Harry carefully took out the diary and caressed the initials on it. TMR—his heart.

When the oaths were finally made, he held up the small book and began to whisper the truth of it. "I found this in my pocket during the World Cup. It's a diary, obviously. If you write your secrets in it, it's supposed to give life to the person trapped within it."

Tracey gasped and leaned forward, staring at it perceptively. "You've been writing in it for years."

"Yes, and my consort has written back to me—so he has not been able to leave these pages. I need to find a way to release him without sacrificing my life. He wouldn't allow it, even if I would gladly pay that price."

Blaise held out his hand and Harry carefully placed the book in it. He flipped it open and his eyes widened as the many pages covered in writing fell open. "You realize this is full of blackmail material?"

"On both of us, yes."

His eyes skimmed down a page. "He's killed at least three people."

Harry snatched the book back and shoved it in his pocket. "Muggles," he corrected.

"Do we know how he was put into the diary?" Millicent asked. "Did he do it himself? Are you certain he's in it and it's not just some gimmick?"

Harry nodded tightly. "I've gone into the diary. He's definitely in there, he just can't get out without having some form of life force, I suppose."

Theo's blue eyes widened. "You've been inside the diary?"

"Yes. Marvolo found a way this summer. That's where I was last month when we—lost track of time." He blushed lightly.

"So you can touch each other and interact when you're there—?" Draco asked, his eyes focused on Harry's pocket.

"Yes. Could you ask your father, Draco? Something the Dark Lord said made me think that he knows something."

The Slytherins took to watching the diary whenever Harry disappeared. They never spoke about it, but he would sometimes come in before classes or on the weekends and choose someone's bed to sit on before leaving one reality for another, only to find himself reappearing with the watchful eyes of one of his friends upon him.

"That was strange," Blaise stated after the third time. "One minute you're there, and the next you become pen strokes before you disappear."

Lavinia, wanting to know more, managed to steal Colin Creevey's camera and soon there were photographs of the process, and Harry was surprised to see that he would first become a colored drawing, and then just a sketch as if someone had taken a photograph and drawn a picture of him on the photographed bed.

"The Ministry thought it was a dark artifact," Draco mused over lunch when all of the photos had been spread out, their finished plates pushed away. "Father had to spread a lot of gold for them to dismiss it. It helped that you were the Boy-Who-Lived; otherwise the charges never would have been dismissed."

Harry swallowed nervously.

"You become a drawing but you're essentially a person," Montague suggested. "Perhaps Marvolo has been in there so long that he is more of a drawing than flesh and blood, and that's why he needs life force of some kind."

"Now we just need a life force."

The younger students were soon drafted into research on Marvolo after Harry had agreed to tell them the full name. A third-year uncovered that he had won a special award for services rendered to the school, and Harry had laughed when he heard, knowing the truth of the Chamber of Secrets.

You were the most brilliant student Hogwarts has ever seen, Harry wrote in early January. You were offered positions at the Ministry but you worked at Borgin and Burkes before disappearing from public life. There your trail runs cold.

He waited several long moments and then Marvolo's writing uncurled before him. I know what happened after that, or I can guess. I am alive, but we are no longer the same person with the same interests. I have you now. He—my other self—understands this, I am certain.

The second week of January, Harry was unwillingly brought before the Headmaster and informed that he "strongly suspected" that Harry had had some foretelling that something was to occur given that Arthur Weasley was later found dead, before he was taken firmly down to the Potions laboratory where Snape was to teach him Occlumency.

"No," Harry whispered obstinately, looking Snape directly in the eyes. "I will not let you into my mind."

"The point, child, is to expel me from it."

"I would have no one in my mind even for a moment except for my kinsman. He can keep his counsel."

Snape regarded him levelly, tension in his shoulders. "You regard the Dark Lord as kin?"

When Harry didn't answer, he continued sneeringly, "You think he will keep your secrets if he somehow gains access to your mind, child? This is folly, not Slytherin cunning!"

"He keeps my counsel," he responded quietly, before leaving again.

He sat later on Theo's bed and tapped the spine of the diary as he watched Marvolo's comforting words appear. A flash startled him and he saw Crabbe grinning at him. "We need full evidence of all stages," he said importantly, causing Harry to grin.

"Where's Draco? I need to ask him something."

He was dragged back to Dumbledore later that week, McGonagall also present. He listened quietly to Dumbledore's arguments before he was informed that if he did not submit to Occlumency lessons, his prefect's badge would be rescinded.

He didn't return to Gryffindor that night, instead curling up in the Slytherin dormitory, uncertain what to tell Marvolo, knowing that he wanted his badge as Marvolo had been a Slytherin prefect and it brought them just a little closer.

Taking out a scrap of paper, he wrote a short letter: Snape may not be true if he is yours. He signed it with Marvolo's initials, hoping that their kinsman would understand.

"I need the Dark Lord to receive this," he murmured in Draco's ears before passing over the sealed note, so small it could easily be lost.

"It will not harm him?"

Harry shook his head.

That night he fell into Marvolo's waiting arms and just cried, knowing that he had now made his choice, knowing that Marvolo was worth it, that he couldn't have Marvolo's secrets known. His lover held him, kissing the tears that fell down his cheeks, breathing a quiet life back into him as they rocked together among the brown and yellow sheets in the diary world.

At first Harry noticed that nothing had changed, but soon Snape stopped calling him to lessons and he seemed paler, more agitated, and he knew that the note had been received.

On Valentine's Day, he was surprised when Cho approached him in the Great Hall and, before he realized what was happening, kissed him in front of everyone. She smiled sweetly up at him as he gently pushed her away and walked promptly to the Slytherin table.

"I thought—" Daphne said in confusion, but one sharp look from Harry silenced her.

Harry had foolishly believed that was the end of it, but a few days later he noticed that Cho was following him everywhere with her friend Marietta Edgecombe. "I wish Umbridge would just give her detention," he complained to Theo and Draco by the end of the week and was surprised when Draco had told him the next day that it was done.

"My father has much influence at the Ministry," he shrugged casually in response to Harry's unasked question. Harry grinned at him.

Sadly, Cho sought Harry out for comfort. It ended rather badly when she tried to kiss him and Harry hexed her in full view of Professor McGonagall. He almost had his prefect's badge taken until he told her that Cho was sexually harassing him and wouldn't take a hint.

His friends immediately came to his defense, stating that Harry had been dating someone since last year. McGonagall had been forced to tersely agree, though she did remove points from Gryffindor. Harry didn't care.

Ron had been livid and had been rude during class over the whole affair, but Harry had promptly ignored him.

The first time I flew in the Ford Anglia it was nighttime, he confided to Marvolo, recalling his early friendship with Ron. The twins had stolen it from their father—Mr. Weasley loved everything Muggle.

Marvolo, it seemed, despised flying, and told Harry of his first broom lesson and how he had tried to seem unaffected although he was glad to finally have his feet on the ground. I would watch the owls fly in at breakfast, but I rarely received mail. I couldn't afford a pet with my small scholarship, but still the snakes found me, even here at Hogwarts.

Harry had smiled gently at the shared memory. I'll teach you one day—outside of the diary, he promised.

Marvolo hadn't written a response.

The dreams of the long corridor continued, haunting Harry, and he wondered why he would see them, why he would dream of the corridor, if they were his dreams or perhaps Voldemort's.

"The only solution," Lavinia offered a few days later at the breakfast table, "to the problem—is to give the diary to someone who you wouldn't mind seeing gone. Let it do what it's supposed to."

Harry swallowed convulsively. "You want me to give my consort to someone I dislike?" he whispered incredulously.

Lavinia immediately paled. "Well—"

"Even if I could ward the pages that we've already written on, it could take months—years even—and we'd have to choose carefully. What if the person—whoever it is—tried to get rid of the diary or didn't write in it and we couldn't get it back? So much could go wrong."

"There must be another way," Blaise mused as he buttered a scone. "Life forces are different from life itself. We just have to find the way to harness it, or find something that already does."

"Shh," Theo warned and they all began talking of Quidditch as soon as Dumbledore walked by, his blue eyes glinting warningly at the unconventional group.

TBC…

Please Review!


Part the Fifth

Harry was once again called to Occlumency lessons, but was relegated to a corner and given an old tome in Latin. "Translate," Snape ordered viciously. Soon, Harry was bringing a Latin grammar to the Potions room twice a week along with a simple dictionary, and found that he was translating the instructions on how to become an Occlumens. He wondered if Snape was trying to punish him, and realized that he was when Crabbe of all people managed to get a copy of an English translation from the early seventeenth century, purportedly from his father's library.

When Harry had appeared during the next lesson with the book, Snape's black eyes narrowed before dismissing him and telling him that he was too lazy for Snape to try to teach him for the rest of the week.

Harry had a lift to his step for several days after.

Just after Valentine's Day he once again fell into the diary to find that Marvolo was no longer waiting for him in front of the manor, but instead in front of a dingy building with a high fence around it. It was clean, although rundown, and had an air of unpleasantness that made Harry's skin crawl.

"This is where I grew up," Marvolo whispered in his ear, and Harry nodded slightly, his eyes never leaving the building. "I thought it needed some happy memories, if you do not object."

Harry made love to Marvolo in a small room upstairs, the sheets threadbare but clean and pressed, and kissed all of Marvolo's pain away achingly slowly, taking great care with his lover. "You're everything," he murmured when he arched off the bed, pleasure coursing through him. "There's nothing else but you."

Marvolo kissed him deeply, their tongues moving slowly and languidly, and Harry wondered if this was what heaven felt like.

All too soon, he was returning from the diary, and cried for the first time in years. Theo held him as Harry whispered how it was torture to leave his consort—his Marvolo—how he couldn't bear to leave him behind, how it was cruel knowing that he was trapped in his memories, just memories, never aging, never changing, just his Marvolo.

He finally pulled himself together and found Draco sitting on his bed, a contemplative look on his face. "Memories," he murmured and then went off to write a letter.

Harry first heard of Hermione partway through March when he spent a rare evening in Gryffindor tower. It was after a long Quidditch practice, and his shoulders ached too much for him to want to trek through the entire cold castle until he reached the warmth of the dungeon fires. He'd slumped down in one of the armchairs in front of the fire, the diary in his hands, and he noticed Ginny sitting across from him, a letter in her hand.

She glanced at him, her large brown eyes wide and imploring. "You hexed Chang," she murmured.

There was no reason to answer.

He opened the diary, his eyes drifting over a long letter from Marvolo, when Ginny began speaking again. "I wrote Hermione about it and she was unhappy. She said you'd fancied her a few years ago."

"That was then," Harry replied carefully. "This is now."

Ginny looked at him pointedly. "Hermione's doing well," she responded after a long, deliberate pause. "She says she keeps her wand on her dresser to remind herself that with the good comes the bad. You know who did it, don't you?"

"Did what?" Harry murmured mostly to himself, his eyes straying back to the diary.

If Ginny spoke again, he didn't hear her and eventually she left, the letter clutched in her hand.

The first time I did magic and knew that it wasn't just an odd coincidence, Harry confessed one day, was when I was ten. Before strange things had happened, but my uncle had been so adamant that magic didn't exist that I believed him. I was running from Dudley and his gang. Piers had broken off from them and had grabbed my hand and tried to kiss me. I didn't want him to. I never did—and then I wasn't there anymore but on the roof, looking down at the playground. I told everyone it must have been the wind—but I always knew it couldn't have been. I thought it was my parents looking down from heaven.

His writing was scratchy; he was once again pressed inside a cupboard in between classes, and he hadn't been able to position his wand well enough for the Lumos spell to cast enough light on the pages.

Black ink began to blossom across the bottom of the page, and Harry had only time to read Well, I'm glad I don't evoke that particular response when I kiss you before he was closing the diary and rushing toward Defense, not wanting to be late.

Divination was strange now that Trelawney had been sacked. He unfortunately shared it with Ron, who would send him long glares every ten minutes or so as they lay on their backs, looking up at the night sky.

"The Pleiades as you mortals call them," Firenze said one lesson, catching Harry's attention as he remembered that Marvolo's mother had been named for one of the Pleiades, Merope, "have been shining brightly for more than a year. Great change is upon us, but even we Centaurs can only hope to speculate as to the cause; the future is so uncertain."

Harry smiled, hoping that soon he would find a way to release Marvolo from the diary.

I know you're planning something, Marvolo wrote in early April. I can tell when you look me in the eye, and yet you never speak of it. The handwriting was precise, calculated, almost too formal, and it made Harry's heart bleed.

It's for you, he quickly scribbled back. I want to free you—I'm trying to find out how.

There was a long pause before Marvolo wrote just one sentence in reply: Perhaps I am not meant to be.

The diary was silent for weeks later no matter what Harry wrote in its pages. When he tried to enter the diary, he found he could not, and stared dejectedly down at it. Still, Harry always carried it in his pocket and, at night when he wasn't dreaming of the long corridor, he dreamt of being back in Marvolo's arms. He would wake up with ink stained kisses against his shoulders or gentle handprints against his thighs. He would smile quietly to himself, knowing that Marvolo hadn't abandoned him.

"A prophecy," Draco finally declared as he sat down in front of Harry at lunch one day. "It sees the future."

"Yes, dear, we know," Pansy responded absently.

Daphne tried to hold in a laugh.

"It sees the future before it happens," Draco responded pompously. "It holds the future in an orb. If a memory of a person and their future were to unite—"

"The present would take form," Harry breathed out, a smile tinting his lips.

"It's all theory, of course," Draco responded absently, "but if Marvolo has a prophecy written about him then you just need to steal it from the Department of Mysteries."

Daphne laughed elegantly. "Easier said than done." Her eyes lingered momentarily on Harry, wistful.

Harry looked away from her.

A prophecy, Harry wrote later that night. If there's a prophecy about you, then we can free you from the diary.

There was a long pause and Harry feared that Marvolo wouldn't respond. Then, finally, carefully, words emerged.

Tom Marvolo Riddle. Lines descended from the various letters. The I coming first, then the A in Marvolo followed by the M. Two words. I am. Harry watched in horror as the letters were rearranged carefully, meticulously, until the sentence was complete.

His stomach clenched painfully and he stuffed the diary back into his pocket, tears streaming down his face.

He barely made it to Charms and sat in the back, not looking up once from his notes. His mind sped onward, painfully, and he wondered how he had never guessed.

That night he didn't return to the Gryffindor dorms, instead he locked himself away in the dungeons, telling everyone that if they disturbed him he would set snakes on them, before opening the diary once again. The same words were still etched painfully on the page.

Let me in, he wrote carefully, his breath hitching in his chest, almost as if it were too painful to take the fire of the air into his lungs.

Then there was darkness and brown and waves, and he was standing in a cave, looking into Marvolo's dark and haunted eyes. They didn't speak. Instead, Harry kissed Marvolo quietly, the sound of the sea soothing the ache in his chest, and he lost himself in Marvolo's arms.

"I'm not him," Marvolo finally whispered as they lay against the rough, cold stone. "In another life I would become him, but I'm not him."

Harry couldn't answer. He entwined their fingers carefully and pulled Marvolo closer. Nothing, he realized, had changed.

For Easter Holidays, Harry escaped from Hogwarts, needing time away from his friends to properly think. He couldn't quite look into their faces—knowing who Marvolo would have become, who he did become in reality—knowing that his lover and the Dark Lord were once the same person. He couldn't think. His loyalties, already shifting because Voldemort was Marvolo's kinsman, now halted in indecision, frightening him.

He knew he would always love Marvolo. Murder and death and Dark Magic hadn't changed it before, a title wouldn't alter it now.

The Weasleys were all still in residence at Grimmauld Place, but Harry rarely spoke to them. He found himself drifting almost, locking himself in his room and entering the brown pages of the diary. He spent hours just staring into Marvolo's eyes, looking for any hint of Voldemort and finding nothing.

They made love quietly in the dead of night, neither speaking, holding in their gasps and moans, hands lighting across skin and lips shivering in the half-light. It was surreal like the rest of Harry's world, and he embraced it calmly as he felt himself floating adrift.

Do you still love me? Marvolo wrote one day and Harry traced the letters carefully with the pad of his thumb, the ink blurring slightly as it was not yet dry.

Always—and it was true. Nothing had changed but a name and not even that.

He smiled for the first time in weeks.

People came in and out of Grimmauld Place. Instead of hiding in the gallery with the rest of the children, Harry would sometimes sit in front of Walburga Black's portrait, his green eyes bright and questioning. She never screamed at him, not since he hissed at her the previous summer, but they didn't speak.

He was surprised when, during the many meetings, Mrs. Weasley came out and ushered him inside the kitchen along with the rest of the Weasley Clan. The kitchen was full, faces staring back at him (no one noticed the gaggle of redheads it seemed) with Professor Dumbledore sitting at the head of the table.

"We seem to have a spy—an informant," Dumbledore said solemnly, and Harry's hand instantly wrapped around the diary in his pocket, knowing that Snape had informed the Headmaster of Voldemort's suspicions. "We suspect it is a student." His eyes bore into Harry's head, but he had turned away, refusing to meet his gaze head on.

He knew it looked guilty, but Harry refused to allow the Headmaster access to his mind. Eye contact was the key, he remembered from his translations.

"Harry," he continued, and Harry glanced up at the lined faces looking back at him.

"Hyperion," he corrected, swallowing thickly. "My name is Hyperion Potter, Headmaster, as you know."

"The diary in your pocket," he continued. "It once belonged to Voldemort."

"And now it belongs to me," he responded, ice brittle in his voice. "The Ministry released it to me and if you think a diary can go inform Voldemort—"

"It could be two-way," Moody suggested. "You could write in it and he could see."

Harry rolled his eyes. "Yes, that's all well and good, but I assure you that I've never written down anything about the Order."

"We should check it, just in case," Kingsley suggested.

"Not without a warrant," Harry responded. "You can't take anything from me without a warrant, and then it would be property of the Ministry and not the Order. I don't know who your spy is," he calmly lied. "I suggest you look for him elsewhere than in a teenager's diary."

They know there's a spy, he wrote later that night, in full view of those left for dinner. He didn't really care. He knew they couldn't do anything—that they wouldn't go so far as to take the diary, or they would have done it already. They were too frightened to alienate him any more than they already had. They think this book is somehow a two-way diary with Voldemort. I doubt he'd have the patience to read my thoughts, or write back to me.

He waited several moments, angling the diary slightly so that no one would be able to see the words that appeared. Are you?

Harry nibbled the end of his quill. To be a spy, one has to have chosen an established side. I've chosen you—and only you. Everything else is secondary. I suppose I am usually just watching. He, Harry paused uncertain how to admit this, let me go because I was dear to you. I say nothing because you are dear to me.

Mrs. Weasley set down a bowl of soup in front of him with a sniff, but Harry hardly noticed.

You're not admitting everything. The words weren't accusing, simply observant, gentle, barely probing or seeking answers, just stating a simple fact.

I noticed a discrepancy in someone's behavior, that is all.

At Sirius clearing his throat, Harry blew on the ink and put the diary safely within his pocket, ink covering his fingers.

Educational Decree after Educational Decree was posted, but Harry rarely noticed. In addition to Prefect duty, Harry revised for his O.W.L.s, often with the other Slytherins or within the diary with Marvolo. He'd managed to Conjure the memories of his notes as well as his own exams, which he made Harry take several times, usually when they were lying in the garden of Riddle Manor. Their clothes lay strewn around them with Marvolo's lips lingering against Harry's back or neck, his hands anchoring him to the ground so that he couldn't turn around and had to focus on his exams.

Harry thought it was a rather unorthodox way to study, but when he finished an exam, Marvolo would silently look it over before making love to Harry beneath the brown, burnt heavens.

When the examinations finally came, Harry sat among his friends, the Gryffindors on the opposite side of the hall. His mind was focused, alert, and they were all uncomplicated and easy compared to trying to take them when Marvolo was gently teasing him. He didn't bother going back to Gryffindor, instead celebrating in the Slytherin common room and spending each night in the diary, entrusting the diary to Theo who would write in it when it was time for Harry to leave so that he wouldn't be late.

"Love you," Harry murmured against Marvolo's lips before pulling his shirt over his head, leaving reluctantly to finish his examinations.

He was surprised when Daphne linked arms with him at lunch and whispered in his ear about the dramatics the night before. "She chased Hagrid, actually chased him, out the gates," she murmured and Harry looked at her askance before glancing at Umbridge at the Head Table.

"I thought—I thought she wasn't allowed to force people to leave. Where was Dumbledore?"

Daphne shrugged. "No one knows, to be honest," she admitted. "But Hagrid's gone."

"Strange," Harry murmured, before turning back to his History of Magic notes.

"You're going down, Potter," Draco said good-naturedly. Ever since Hermione had left, they had been quietly competing against each other, determined to block a Ravenclaw from taking any of the top places.

Harry threw a strawberry at him, a smirk on his face.

He started fighting off a headache halfway through the examination and ended up having to rub his eyes several times before the exam was finally over.

"Get me out of here," he whispered to Theo, who immediately helped him onto his feet.

"What's wrong?" Millicent asked worriedly, and Harry rubbed his scar.

"Something—vision—again—I think," he mumbled and let his friends lead him down to the dungeons. He was laid out on one of the couches and someone ran in with a compress.

"—like Christmas?" he heard Draco ask. "Weasley died last time."

Then there was nothing but images, a long corridor, a door, walking through it and yet he was not there and then there were rows upon rows of shelves with small brilliant orbs neatly lined up. He was walking along the whispering corridors; Harry could feel the coldness of the marble against his bare feet, and then there was Marvolo, his Marvolo, leaning against the wall—and he was the most beautiful thing Harry had ever seen. Dark hair, midnight black, fell smoothly into dark, brooding eyes. Pink lips pouted slightly, beguilingly, as if Marvolo wanted Harry to lean forward and kiss him passionately after a long separation. He was tall, strong, elegant, and slim, and Harry wanted to move forward, but he found himself rooted to the spot.

Their eyes met and then Marvolo glanced toward the small glass orbs, a long, smooth hand pointing to one in particular.

Harry awoke, gasping for breath.

"It's there—at the ministry. A prophecy. Marvolo's prophecy."

Whispered words fell from lips and then Lavinia suggested that they sneak out of the school. "The Floo is watched," she murmured. "Normally I would have Draco flout his father's political power to get us there—but stealth is required."

They waited until the dead of night and then snuck from their beds, running out to the forest. Harry and Theo led the others to Thestrals so that they could fly to London.

"No record this way," Daphne remarked with a smirk on her face before stifling a scream when the Thestral beneath her shifted.

They flew through the sky, a smile on Harry's lips as they escaped under the watchful gaze of Dumbledore.

It was easy to sneak into the Ministry. Blaise knew the guest entrance; he said his aunt had brought him through once as she had been afraid of traveling through the Floo as a child, and then they were running across the atrium.

"I didn't know you had an aunt," Draco murmured, looking slightly offended.

"Step-aunt," Blaise qualified. "It's easier to just call them 'aunt' or 'uncle.'"

All was silent within the Ministry, as if covered with a shroud. They rushed down long corridors, past winding doors, until they finally found the hall from Harry's vision. "It's here, somewhere," he murmured as they wandered down the main aisle.

They passed through doors, marking them, leaving a trail so they could find their way out again, whispering to each other and listening as their hushed voices echoed from the black marble. Lavinia was the one who found it, the Hall of Prophecies. Glass orbs stacked high on shelves, futures of so many people catalogued and studied barbarically as if they were nothing more than lab experiments.

There were footsteps following them and Draco flashed his wand toward it before shadows emerged from the darkness, silver masks standing out against the wand-light, wands at the side of silent soldiers.

"Father?" Draco murmured and the figure at the front nodded in recognition. Draco smiling fleetingly at him.

The masked Death Eaters slithered through the darkness, surrounding Harry and the other students as they continued to search, looking at the small tags, wanting the prophecy.

"How is Marvolo?" one masked Death Eater asked Harry as they squinted at the small, handwritten tags. The voice was deep, familiar, and Harry looked up in shock when he recognized it as the invisible friend of Marvolo's from the previous year at Hogwarts.

"It's you," Harry murmured before shifting closer, his eyes never leaving the glowing prophecy orbs. "Who are you?"

The masked stranger laughed deeply. "A friend of Marvolo's."

"A friend of Voldemort," Harry countered, his eyes flashing in defiance.

"A friend of Voldemort," the stranger agreed, and then they moved away again, though the masked stranger kept close to him.

"It's here!" Theo called out. Harry rushed past everyone, through the masked figures and the ordered lines of glowing prophecies, until he was standing in front of a shelf, staring at the small, neatly printed words.

"Only you can take it," a female voice murmured, and he looked back to see a Death Eater by his shoulder. "Anyone else would go insane. We found that out the hard way."

He reached out, his hand shaking, and then his fingers slowly closed around the orb.

"What do we do with it now?" he asked, staring intently at it. "How do we give it to Marvolo?"

But there was rushing—sounds of more footsteps hurrying towards them—and the Death Eaters closed in around them, their backs turned to them and their wands pointed outward menacingly, protecting Harry and the others. Daphne pressed close to him, eyes wide and blue as she searched the darkness, and Draco raised his chin arrogantly, though Harry could see that his lips were slightly paler than normal.

There were curses being cast and the line was broken, and Blaise had shouted out "Run!" So Harry was running, running, unsure from whom until he found himself in a quiet room, whispers hanging around an arch. The fight had followed him and he watched as curses hit Death Eaters, as they struck Order Members, and he watched as Kingsley dueled fiercely, a glint in his eyes.

He was herded into a corner with the other students, a blank mask telling them to remain safe and quiet. Harry just watched as the battle continued.

Then a flash of a Stunning Spell, a cry, and he watched as Sirius fell behind the veil, but all he could focus on was the diary in his pocket and the glowing, pulsing orb in his hand.

A shriek sounded throughout the hall and Harry looked up to see Professor Lupin, his eyes vacant and filling with tears, sending curses everywhere he could see movement, including at the huddled group of students. Harry pulled Theo away with a gasp as he recognized the green light of the Killing Curse. Then they were running and dodging away, trying to get away from Lupin and the vacant fury in his gaze. From the corner of his eyes Harry could see masked figures running alongside them, deflecting curses as they ran. He saw Lavinia with her wand out at the ready, but he just focused on keeping the prophecy safe, keeping it whole until he could somehow feed it to the diary and finally kiss his consort's lips in the colors of reality.

They rushed into an elevator and headed up, away, but as soon as the doors opened there were more curses, streaks of green and blue and red, and all Harry wanted was brown, sheets that felt like parchment, and ink-filled kisses in an old manor house where once his Marvolo had committed murder.

He wasn't certain who had arrived first—Dumbledore or Voldemort—but he only had eyes for the Dark Lord, looking for any similarity between him and his beautiful, loving Marvolo and seeing none. He knew they had been the same, once so very long ago.

Everyone watched the duel in awe, light flashing as silent magic tore through the air, beautiful and perfect and yet so utterly deadly.

The prophecy throbbed in his protective hand, anchoring Harry to the present and to his hopes for the future.

There was a whoosh from the fireplaces and then the atrium was swarming with ministry personnel, all staring at the duel. A large hand gripped his shoulder and he was turned to face an angry Moody.

"The prophecy, boy," he demanded, and when Harry held it out of reach, spells flying near them, he lost his balance. The prophecy orb fell from his grasp, smashing on the floor.

A hush spread across the atrium and a shadowy figure rose from the splintering crystal, intoning deeply, "The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches."

Everyone watched in awe, even Dumbledore and Voldemort stopping to gaze at the shade of Professor Trelawney.

"No," Harry whispered desperately, struggling in Moody's tight grasp.

"Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies—"

He rummaged through his pocket, his fingers fumbling at the spine of the diary, his beautiful Marvolo, and then he pulled it out and tossed it toward the shadowy figure, praying that it would be enough.

"—and the Dark Lord," the shadow-Trelawney breathed, but then the diary landed in the shards of the prophecy, dispersing the shade.

A wide grin crossed Dumbledore's aged face, but Harry barely noticed, his eyes trained on the diary, hoping, praying.

"Please," he murmured, tears gathering in his eyes. "Please."

Then the air shimmered, only slightly, and Harry sucked in a breath. He watched in wonder as shadows rose from the diary and then lines of ink as if someone were painting on an invisible canvas. Marvolo slowly took form in front of him.

Dumbledore quaked in anger and swiped his wand toward the apparition but nothing happened, and then Voldemort was dueling him again and a line of Death Eaters surrounded the solidifying figure of a young sixteen-year-old boy. Moody's grasp on Harry tightened, but with a whispered curse and a flash of green, the grip loosened and Moody fell to the floor—lifeless.

Harry rushed forward, pushing through the masked figures. Tears slipped from his eyes as he saw the nearly solidified Marvolo. The edges of him were blurry, as if someone had painted him in watercolors, and then Harry found himself in Marvolo's arms and lips pressed urgently against his.

There were shouts and then the Death Eaters rushed away from them and into green flames. Flurries of color swirled around them and Marvolo held him tightly as Voldemort hurried them away, a shield of shattered glass from somewhere surrounding and protecting them. Harry briefly saw Tonks' shocked expression, the fear in Dumbledore's eyes as he was pressed into a fireplace, Marvolo's arms still holding him securely. With a burst of green, the Ministry disappeared.

He fell out of the fireplace into Malfoy Manor and looked up at Marvolo, who was smiling brilliantly down at him, tears of ink dripping down his face.

"It's broken," he murmured, his eyes briefly leaving Harry's to meet Voldemort's dark gaze. "The prophecy. I consumed it. It's broken." He turned his eyes back to Harry, and smiled gently down to him. "You're safe."

Harry reached up with trembling fingers and brushed them against Marvolo's cheeks, staining them black and green, the two colors of their ink stained love.

The End

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