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Seventeen Years

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Voldemort is a day old when he realizes those blasted muggles had named him “Tom.” And he’s a day old when it fully sinks in that yes, being reborn, legitimately, instead of from an experimental ritual, sucked. Because he has no idea where he is, what time he is in, who these people are… and he can’t control who he is born with. Namely, some other brat who would take the title of his twin… his brother.

Voldemort wonders how old he’ll have to be to kill these people, or at least do away with them. Familial sentimentalities were for the weak, and he, certainly is not weak. But for now, he’ll have to settle for being a babe, a newly born child, who will need nurturing and care because his body is utterly useless. How annoying.

And he wonders what the great beings above are playing at, having him reborn with all his memories. Of course, he isn’t complaining—hell, who knows how much time in the depths of purgatory is enough for him… the experience was too horrifying to describe in words. So this, whatever it is, is a relief, but he’s sure that these things just don’t happen by coincidence, or chance, and definitely not with the Dark Lord Voldemort, considering all the careful guards placed at the entrance of purgatory. Even though it was a huge, endless ditch with no walls to climb up from.

But fine. If this is really happening to him, fine. He’ll work with it. Because anywhere is better than back there.

Voldemort is a day old when he begins making plans. And no muggle will ever stop him.


 

He is a year old when it sinks in who his twin could possibly be. It hits him, just a sudden realization instead of the slow, gradual understanding that more often than not happens. It’s impossible, considering his experience is probably impossible already, but it makes so much sense he wonders why he had missed it.

Because his twin might, possibly, probably be Harry Potter.

He hasn’t really paid attention to his twin beforehand. His parents dote on both of them equally, and of course, they are constantly around the other, but he has no affection or time for affection to be bothering with a sibling, so Voldemort ignores him. It is this, this realization that he was so, so dreadfully wrong to do so, that slaps him in the face when he is about to present his master plan. Because if his twin really is Harry Potter, many, many things will need to be changed.

So Voldemort sucks it up and does away with his old plan in the blink of an eye.

His parents had christened him “Thomas” on official documents, but had immediately shorted it to “Tom” at the time of his birth. On the other hand, his twin was “Harrison,” a dignified, similarly common name, which was enough to irritate Voldemort. Couldn’t humans be creative for once?

And that had been his sole thought on the matter.

But then, slowly, his Parents had adopted a nickname for his brother too. They called him “Harry.”

Harry…”

And Voldemort is not too stubborn or too blind to pick up on the implications of this seemingly simplistic occurrence. He knows he has to find out more. Find out if, by another strike of chance, Harry Potter had the memories that he did. And, of course, if it would be suitable to eliminate him early on. Because with this new life given to him, as it truly sunk in that he is, for all intents and purposes, alive again, his old fear of death had began to fester, and all Voldemort knows is that he has to live.

So he makes plans for that too.


He is three when he realizes Harrison is Harry Potter, without any memory of their past life.

“Tom,” the boy whispers, peeking out around the corner of the doorway. “Tom.”

Voldemort glares at him. “What?”

Harry flinches away. “Mum and Dad are late. The nanny’s sleeping.”

So?”

“I just—I just—“a pause, “why are you so mean to me, Tom?”

Voldemort snorts, because that’s a foolish question that he shouldn’t answer because he’s a Dark Lord, and no one questions the Dark Lord, especially not a three year old could-be-maybe-probably Harry Potter.

You,” he drawls out, turning around and walking towards his twin menacingly, “are the bane of my existence. You are the reason I failed. You are the reason I suffered. You are the very thing I loathe, a ghost to haunt me from the past. You should not be here, and yet you are. And the only reason you are still alive is because I have yet to find out the reason of our rebirth, and should you be some vital chess piece, you shall be mine to use.”

The way the child shrinks back, eyes wide and innocent and confused, but definitely scared, tells Voldemort that Harry has no idea what he is talking about. He wonders if Harry will tell their parents of this. He’s sure he’ll find out later tonight, so he lets Harry turn tail and dart away, back to the relative safety of the living room.

Because it is Harry Potter. No other child would have the gall to ask him such a question.

Children are pests. He’s never liked them, and it’ll stay that way.


 

Voldemort is five when he is plucked out from his world of making plans for the future. He is without magic in this lonely world—fifty years after his and Harry Potter’s simultaneous demise—the very thing he has hated without restraint. A muggle. But he does not consider himself powerless.

His body may be small, but his mind is the same—battle honed in more ways than magical dueling. So really, the schoolyard bullies—older, brutish, petty—would be no challenge at all. Voldemort slips his hand into his pocket, and feels the thin needle he always makes a point to keep on him. It may be small, may be brittle, but it can be a weapon, small enough to keep on his person and brittle enough to be easily discarded if need be.

Besides, one can do many unpleasant things with a needle.

And just as they are about to descend upon him, it is Harry who stops them.

“No!”

And there he is, defiant, arms spread, defending him, in an ironic twist of fate. If anything, Voldemort is bewildered—and maybe, maybe, just a little amused. He has not been a loving brother. Has not been a kind brother. And yet Harry is here, even smaller than he, body even more useless than he, defending him.

“Oh? Come to stand up for your brother, eh?” a bully mocks. “Think you can do anything? Ha!”

“Little Harrison should just go back to his nanny!”

“Haha!”

Children are cruel. Voldemort knows that. In their innocence, their cruelty is even more profound, a cruelty for the sake of cruelty instead of vengeance or rage. Harry is foolish, even in this life, and it would be a pleasure to see him fall now. Because in the end, his twin brother, with no memories, no courage, no bravery—though this could arguably count, the qualities will not last for long; taking a beating would dissuade any further sense of heroism—would not win.

So he does nothing. He does not see himself as a brother, so he does nothing as he watches a fist come flying from the left, not aimed at him but the small body in front of him.

But the fist never lands.

“I said no,” Harry speaks up. “You can’t pick on my brother! Tom is amazing. Just because you’re jealous doesn’t mean you can pick on him!”

The bullies are quiet. Voldemort can see it, reflected in their eyes—confusion, fear. He can see what they are seeing, he knows what they are seeing. Because this Harry was his Harry Potter, and would then certainly have the same ability to stare, defiantly, with the power of an army behind him and confidence from confidence, a single pressuring weight in his eyes that could fell a great man.

It had not pushed him to his knees, but he had seen many of his Death Eaters back away from that gaze.

The bullies faltered.

But then a kick flew in from the right, sending Harry flying, and the spell was broken.

“Trying to play hero, eh? You should know your place! You’re weak. You can’t do anything. Who are you to try and tell us what to do? Baby Harry trying to protect his brother! Ha! What a joke!”

Voldemort watched impassively as their target victim changed to Harry, mercilessly pelting the boy with rough blows as he curled up in an effort to protect his head.

But… there was something off about that position. Voldemort narrowed his eyes. Perhaps… perhaps it’s the way the boy took it without hesitation. It was practiced, almost, which is ridiculous because Harry had never been bullied before. Voldemort would know. The boy is well liked by the teachers and his peers, kind and sweet, the type of person that attracts others like bees to flowers. He’s sociable, amiable, his exact opposite, someone you would never think to know how to take that pose, how to blunt those blows.

And yet…

And then he sees Harry’s eyes, when one of the boys had gotten tired of being unable to land a good hit and decided to toss the small body in hopes of disturbing his position.

Defiant, still. Unwavering. Strong.

Voldemort wonders.

He takes the needle out of his pocket, looks at the metal gleaming from the sun in the palm of his hand, and then, very carefully, lets it roll to a foot or so away from Harry. He knows the boy would see it. He knows.

Because there is something animalistic in Harry Potter’s eyes, something so dreadfully familiar Voldemort does not want to put a name on it. He imagines that his twin should’ve been named Tom instead, because in that brief second, he remembers what it was like, being hit and not feeling it, forgetting what the names of his bullies are, feeling threatened, and waiting, waiting ever so patiently, for the perfect moment to strike out.

Harry sees the needle out of the corner of his eye, leaps for it, and in a move no one ever expected—except, perhaps, Voldemort—he swings around and slashes his bullies across the face. It’s not a wild swing, a weak, hesitant counterattack—no, the slice draws blood, and Voldemort knows to get that out of a thin needle proves just how little Harry hesitated in striking out to harm another human.

Frankly, it surprises him. Harry Potter, to him, had always been a person who was weak. Who never had the guts to strike a deadly blow. Even in their final “duel,” as it were, Harry Potter had stuck to using a simple disarming spell. Harry Potter was not supposed to be strong. His life was supposed to be dangling from a thread of luck.

But here he is now, Voldemort muses, a survivor in the making.

Later that day, Voldemort finds out the bullies hadn’t tattled on what had happened, a wise choice considering Harry himself was sporting bruises. Compared to the large gash across their faces, it could be inferred, if they spoke a word, what had happened and who, really, was the victim there.

His parents, a Felicia and Jasper Nye, fret over the bruising marks with all the concern of a fitting parent. Voldemort watches on as, with the stubborn streak at least a kilometer wide, Harry refuses to name his bullies, or whether there had been bullies at all.

“I fell,” he says with conviction.

They obviously don’t believe him.

But then Voldemort makes a decision, a decision that perhaps, influences a lot more than this single moment. Because he guesses, because he sees, because he knows, that Harry, his twin brother, has been reborn for a purpose, just like him. And whatever this purpose is, its cause knew exactly what it was doing when it chose these two specific archenemies. And Voldemort thinks he doesn’t know enough about Harry Potter anymore, and certainly not enough about this incarnation, to chance changing him all too much. Yet.

“It’ll be fine, Mum, Dad,” he interrupts, voice both sweet and unwavering at the same time.

They look at him and frown. “Tom—“they start, but never finish.

“I’ll protect him,” Voldemort says, swears. It is ironic, because Harry had been the one ‘protecting’ him earlier. But it doesn’t matter, because Harry is looking at him with eyes full of hope and surprise, and he thinks, yes, he thinks, that he can work with this. To make it all the more convincing, he reaches out with a hand to pat Harry on the head affectionately, something they had never seen him do before.

Their parents still doubt, and doubt themselves even more for considering to take the statement as truth, but it’s hard not to. The stone cold lead behind their son’s eyes makes it ridiculously hard not to.

“Trust me,” he says—commands. Because Lord Voldemort does not lie.


 

Voldemort is ten when Harry confesses that he is having strange dreams.

“It’s an amazing place,” he whispers in the dead of night, cuddled into his brother’s side in their shared bed, “with amazing people. They have wands, and wear strange clothes, and use magic…”

“Fascinating,” Tom murmurs back, gauging his reaction.

“But sometimes, it scares me,” Harry admits. “There is a very fat man in my dreams, and a very angry woman too. Sometimes, I see a very chubby boy our age—their son, I think—and they’re all mean to me. They say strange things, like my parents are dead, died in a car crash, but I know Mum and Dad are sleeping in the room next to us…”

“Who are they, Harry?”

“They say they’re my Aunt and Uncle, but that can’t be right. Aunt Lilian and Uncle Mario don’t look like that,” continues Harry, agitated and somewhat fearful. He moves closer to his brother, holding onto him desperately, and Voldemort allows it. “They’re not from the magical place, but somehow I know it’s the same type of dream. Sometimes, sometimes they lock me up, and it’s scary and dark in there Tom—“

Where?”

Harry doesn’t notice the slightly hissy quality to the question. “A cupboard. Under the stairs.”

Voldemort turns onto his side, pulling Harry closer to his adjusted position. He keeps his brother in this warm embrace for a moment more, feeling him relax, and then allows for his own eyes to flutter closed. “I’m here,” he soothes, “Don’t fear. They’re only dreams.”


 

They are eleven a year later, when a group of foolish children decide once again to try and bully the twins.

It does not end well.

Harry, as the shorter twin, and also the more sociable one, is their perfect victim. The bullies are scared of Tom—something is off about him, they think, something strange. Something scary—so they don’t dare try and pick him off first. They figure, since Harry and Tom are inseparable, it only stands to reason that once they have Harry, Tom would easily fall to them. Maybe they’d make him do their homework, or demand to get their lunch every day. The food they ate always looked good anyway.

While they certainly must be given credit for catching Harry alone, it is their mistake in underestimating him.

Harry dodges the first swipe. He’d heard them coming a hall away, really, so the attempted blow came as no surprise. The next attack he counters, sliding under the fist and slipping a leg between the bully’s to aim a kick behind the knee. The oaf stumbles, and Harry slips away again to trip up another bully while dodging the falling body. There is a man in his dream who fights, with strong eyes and unshakable confidence—the type of person Harry wants to be.

How else would he be able to protect Tom?

He sees an oncoming blow too late. The large block of wood hits him in the head hard, and he’s knocked out cold.

This is a mistake, because the only one with the right to hurt Harry is Voldemort.

And even against children, Voldemort does not show mercy. Not if they overstep their boundaries.

It is unfortunate that a teacher walks by, sees the scene and the path of groaning bodies left in the older twin’s wake, and immediately calls for backup while demanding Thomas Nye report to the office now, because he would be in an absurd amount of trouble for what he’s done to the other students, and a whole slew of other scoldings.

Voldemort is not bothered by this. He is, however, bothered that the damned woman would not even let him go find Harry. Harry was priority, not some foolish muggle playing responsible adult. In the end, he is roughly grabbed and manhandled to the headmaster, and Felicia and Jasper Nye are called.

Voldemort is angry. Harry is not with him, he does not know where he is, and that is unacceptable.

“Tom, I don’t understand,” his mother whispers, furrowing her eyebrows, “what’s going on? You’re not the type to do something like this!”

Because she is, unexpectedly, a good caring mother, who never neglects him, Voldemort feels obliged to at least give her some courtesy of respect. Unlike most women in his life, Felicia Nye is a kindhearted soul, a loving wife, a doting mother, someone who he never had before and, if things were different, would’ve quite liked, even though she is a muggle.

“I’m doing as I promised you,” he says, leveling her with a gaze no child could possibly possess, “I’m protecting Harry. Or I was, but as I was so kindly dragged here by these professors—“he motioned to the three other adults standing guard at the door,”—I have absolutely no idea where he is right now. Which is a problem. You’ll have to ask them.”

The Headmaster, his father, and his mother turn their gazes to the bullies who had also been pulled along.

Jasper Nye is not a stupid man. “What?” he shouts, whipping around to glare at the Headmaster, “Am I seeing this correctly? Is my son being bullied?!”

“Now now, Mr. Nye, I’m sure he’s not. Your son—younger son—is a good lad. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to—“

Voldemort snorts. Loudly. “They won’t,” he interrupts sharply, “as long as I’m with him. But, as you can see, I’m not now. So, if you would kindly let me go look for my brother, all of us would be in a much better position than we are now, hmm?”

“Tom, manners,” Felicia stresses.

His lips twitch, but he says nothing more. The Headmaster has done nothing to earn his respect, and is actually approaching negative points as far as he’s concerned, for every second Voldemort is not with Harry.

“Now, the fact still remains that Everett clearly saw young Thomas here bullying those poor children—“

“It was five on one,” Jasper deadpans. “That is not a bullying situation, with all due respect Headmaster.”

“Mr. Nye our teacher saw—“

“The fact still remains that my youngest son is missing,” Felicia cuts in, feeling indignant. “Where is he? Where is my Harry?”

“In class, most likely,” the Headmaster tries to pacify. “The bell for break rang three minutes ago—“

“He’s not in class,” Voldemort drawls. “If you want to know where he is, allow me to continue interrogation of those brats over there.”

Enough Thomas! I’ll not have you continue interrupting in a conversation meant for your parents and I!”

It is the wrong thing to say. Voldemort loses all interest in the proceedings, finding them useless because Harry is still missing and nothing is getting done, and really, when you want something done right, you’ll have to do it yourself—so he turns towards the door, makes a move towards it, is blocked by the three other teachers, but levels them with a glare so cold it burns and they part like melting butter.

He walks out the door. He needs to find Harry, which does happen, but in no way does it cause any sort of elation or relief to cross his face, because he finds him locked in a cleaning closet, scared and shivering and muttering, “Tom, Tom, Tom…” under his breath.

Voldemort makes it a point to bring Harry back to the office, clinging to his older twin, where the ‘adults’ are still conversing angrily.

Their parents take one look at Harry, one look at their other son’s unimpressed and scolding glare, and then another back at the Headmaster.

Harrison and Thomas Nye are withdrawn from their school and relocated to a new one. A week later, someone is fired at their old school.


 

They are twelve when Harry does protect Tom—like he’s always wished.

They’re at a family reunion. Harry and Tom are in the corner, next to some of the other children, but they’re so obviously apart from them that it gains the concerned glance of several adults. They pay it no heed—Harry always prefers to be with his brother, and there was no way in hell Voldemort would willingly choose to consort with children.

So they sit close, but never close enough, despite the frowns and small pushes their parents give them. In the end, Felicia gives up, and they’re both allowed to do as they please.

Voldemort contents himself with this. He sits on an arm chair, right next to the bookshelf, with Harry curled into his side. They’re small, so it’s easy to fit the both of them without someone being on the other’s lap, but Voldemort figures he wouldn’t mind either way. Harry takes the usual courteous physical boundaries and breaks them with a sledgehammer, if it concerns his brother.

His arm is casually swung around Harry’s shoulder, wordlessly giving the boy his acceptance with their position, which only makes Harry relax. The boisterous sounds of their family are not kind on their ears, but as long as he is with Tom—

Honestly, Felicia,” an aunt murmurs, throwing a suspicious glance behind her shoulder at the two boys, “Don’t you ever think… don’t you ever wonder if your eldest is a bad influence on Harry? He’s such a sweet boy… I’m sure he’d get along well with my Richard, but your eldest keeps everyone away—“

“Tom is a good boy,” Jasper interrupts. “He’s… a bit anti-social, rather standoffish I admit, but he’s a good boy. Takes good care of Harry. I wouldn’t trust my youngest with anyone else!”

“That’s right,” Felicia nods. “Both our sons are darlings.”

“Bah!” an uncle exclaims. He throws a nasty look toward the corner. “They’re too clingy. Just look at ‘em! No boy of mine would ever do something so… pansy. They need to learn independence! Why, put ‘em in a fight, and—!”

Shh! Harold, they’ll hear you!”

Let ‘em hear!” Harold shouts. Some of the children curiously in their direction at the noise. “With all due respect Jasper, your two sons wouldn’t hold a lick to mine! They’re too soft! Felicia’s influence, I bet!”

“My wife is a perfect mother,” Jasper hisses sharply. “And just because my sons don’t get into fights every other day, doesn’t mean they’re any less—“

“Mine get into fights and win,” the uncle interrupts indignantly. He waves over his two sons, about the same age as Harry and Tom, though they are much bigger and muscular. Their faces hold the innocence of all children, but there is something… rougher to it. Something that makes Voldemort tense, alerting Harry, who had also been eavesdropping.

“Now look here, this is what sons should be. How would you expect them to help you with any work at all if they’re as thin as a stick? No girly nonsense here, no sir! Just admit it Jasper, and I’m open to help. Your eldest is a bad seed, and your youngest is a pansy.”

Both Jasper and Felicia open their mouths to speak, but it is not their voice that comes out.

It’s Harry’s.

“You can insult me all you like,” he says, eyes spitting fire and back straight as he stands, “but you don’t. Insult. My brother.

“Hah! What do you think you can do, boy? If you think you can speak that way to your elders, you’ll be asking for a lesson! James, Charles—“the uncle’s two sons stand to attention,”—these two know what I’m talking about! Tough, like their old man! But still know respect!”

“Respect is given when it is deserved,” Harry states slowly. His eyes never leave Harold’s, and the room is silent. “You cross the line when you insult my mother. You cross the line when you insult my father. You’re halfway to hell when you insult Tom.”

Harold stops laughing. His gaze is nasty as his eyes narrow in on Harry across the room, and wordlessly he waves to his sons. “Teach that boy a lesson, sons.”

Felicia and Jasper leap up. “You can’t do that! He’s a boy!

“Jasper, brother, you were always the softest of us,” Harold says, standing. “You were strong, but your heart was always too big. I knew your sons would be the same. Now, let your big brother teach your sons a lesson, all in good intent I assure you. Afterwards they’ll be tough as nails! You’ll see. James, Charles, go—“

His two sons turn to Harry, confused at their father’s orders but unwilling to obey. As they make their move, they stumble in their steps.

Harry’s eyes are furious.

“You don’t seem to understand the situation here, Uncle,” he says, deceptively calm. “Nor do any of you, I think. You can say whatever you like about me. You can do whatever you like to me. You can call me names, whisper behind my back, shame me, tell me I’m worthless and no-good… that’s all fine. You can tell me I’m weak. You can say my parents deserve better than me. But, when you think you can get away saying Tom is weak—saying Tom is worthless, or bad, or can’t hold a flame to anyone else…

“See, that’s where you’re wrong. And that’s when I get angry. When you insult their children, you insult the parents—that’s already a foot pass the line. But… my brother—he doesn’t deserve any of the things you say about him! Frankly, he doesn’t deserve the shit you throw at him! He’s so much stronger than you, it’s laughable that you try anyway! So try it—try insulting him one more time, if you really want to see what’ll happen.”

Harold still doesn’t get it. He frowns at his sons instead, shouting, “Hey! What are you waiting for? Go teach those two a lesson in how this family is run! This is the Nye family, not a bunch of sissies! Kid talks big but he knows nothing—just like that coward in the corner!”

The last syllable barely leaves the man’s lips when a window shatters. One of the children scream, and Charles and James are still frozen.

Harry is past furious. He is past anger, past rage—he is calm, balancing the burning of his blood and the pounding in his temples, the lock of his jaw and the pressure as his teeth clench together. There is a fire at the base of his throat, and if he utters a sound Harry knows it will explode, knows it will destroy, because no one, especially not some low life with an inferiority complex, gets away badmouthing Tom.

No one.

The lights flicker on and off for a good five seconds before they go out completely, and one of the adults stands up and turns to run to the generator. They don’t go anywhere though when a wine glass at the table explodes, and everyone shrieks this time. There is the sound of wind rushing at the window, throwing itself against the door, despite the fact that it was supposed to be a hot summer day with zero breezes at all.

Voldemort is positively delighted with this development. He throws his head back and laughs, and when the sound reaches Harry’s ears everything settles again. The lights turn back on, the wind is silent, and everyone still feels the sting of fear in the bottom of their stomachs. There is something wrong here—

“Like a kitten,” Voldemort says, tone light and affectionate. It is ominous, to say the least—even their parents recognize that. “Like a kitten, who’s finally bared his claws.”

His glance is, surprisingly, rather mild when he looks at his uncle. So is his tone. But not his words. “Go jump out the window,” he says as if they were discussing the weather.

Harold doesn’t know why, but his body won’t listen to him and the next thing he knows he’s throwing himself out the window, crashing through the glass and landing roughly on his shoulder. It is only the first floor, but the damage to his head is unmistakable—there is blood, and if anyone is stupid enough, Voldemort wants more of it.

“Anyone else?” he asks pleasantly. None of the adults move. Their faces are horrified, their bodies are stiff, and the fear that leaks off their expressions simply makes Voldemort smirk. “No? Well then. Somewhat disappointing, but I expected nothing else. Let you all take this warning to heart—if Harry is angry, I am sincerely vicious.”

Harry, who has eased with Tom’s presence, merely loops his arms through Tom’s, clinging to it, and nuzzles into his brother’s shoulder. Tom is here...

In my dreams there is a man who stands tall, never backs down, and doesn’t understand what it means to ‘give up.’ His steps, first nervous and hesitant, stumbling, not quite sure but unwilling to go back, transform into confident strides. He is strong.

He fights for what he believes, but most of all, he fights to protect.

In my dreams, the creature he fights against is a strange serpent man, dressed in black and tall as a mountain. This figure too never gives up, but the way his red eyes always seem to glare sends shivers down my spine. I fear this creature, but all the same I stand in awe.

And they fight. And they fight. And they fight.

Somewhere in my heart I know who this creature is, for he is strong, unnervingly brilliant, and bounds and leaps ahead of the other man. They are caught in a never-ending battle, sometimes having an edge and sometimes not. When it seems one will win, the other pulls out a trump card, and the cycle repeats.

I know who these people are, in my heart. The protected, the protector, and the person he protects them from.

It’s all in my heart. But even knowing that, I trust him all the same. This man I see in my dreams, as well as that cloaked, bare footed figure who walks his own lonely road.

I will protect him this time, I think. Because out of everyone, he never fails to come back.

We fight a never-ending battle, only because he never fails to come back.

Some may call this stubborn. Others may see it with thinly-veiled horror. But I—I call this loyalty. And I will certainly return it, ten-fold if I must, for we fight, and fight, and fight, losing the very reason we began with.

All that binds us, is this unbreakable loyalty. And just as I wish to be that man in my dreams, I wish that he also wishes to be me.

“Shall we go home now, mother? Father?”

Felicia and Jasper look at each other. Their children—their children were something else. It scares them, what was happening now. If it wasn’t for the fear that also festered within their hearts, they would’ve thought this was a dream… no, a nightmare. Harry was—and Tom was—he’d just—they

But this family isn’t right either, Felicia decides. For herself and her children to stay here and be insulted… that was the coward’s way. She’d never really liked her husband’s family. Her sister Lilian and her brother-in-law Mario are much friendlier and open, welcoming in a way Jasper’s is not. And she thinks back to her youngest, to how he stood up, didn’t want to take it, couldn’t stand

Felicia stands herself. This isn’t the proper environment for her sons. “Yes. We should go home now. Excuse us, if you’d please.”

And her husband follows suit.

Once they get to the car, Felicia bites her lip and spins around to embrace both of her sons tightly. It isn’t hard—they always are very close to each other—and with her arms clutching her two precious treasures, who she herself remembers vividly bringing into this world, she buries her face into Tom’s shoulder and cries.

Harry doesn’t understand, but all the same he hugs her back. On the other hand, Voldemort very well understands what their mother means—but he is reluctant to do anything. For this woman—

Jasper pat them on their shoulders. They both glance up.

My sons.”

At the age of twelve, Voldemort discovers that they’re both a bit less muggle than he formerly expected. But that’s fine. He’ll learn how to fit this in as well, when everything’s said and done.


 

They are thirteen when their parents give them separate rooms.

It isn’t like nothing changed because of what happened previous; Felicia and Jasper do their best to show their love, even if their children aren’t exactly normal. And in return, Harry ignores the fear he sees flash in their eyes from time to time, and Voldemort doesn’t plot their… elimination. In some ways, it brings them all closer together, and in others, the gap is wider than ever.

But that is to be expected. Voldemort resigns himself to this truth, and allows the small pleasure of having parents that care enough not to send them to an asylum. Because Harry and Tom so clearly have a degree of control, their parents believe it is best to go slow with these things. Not to suppress it, but not to let it control their life either.

Harry smiles innocently and Voldemort restrains from snorting.

That odd part of their life aside, they are thirteen year old boys. Twins. And though their parents know there is something strange about twins, something close, something secret about their existence and relationship, as all twins seem to have, the fact remains. Having them in the same room is odd, to say the least—they certainly have enough space for each to have their own living arrangements, and that they sleep in the same bed is even stranger.

They are growing up. It is that time in their life where they deserve their own piece of privacy. So, this in mind, Jasper firmly tells them it is time. They have their own rooms now—their own beds. No sleeping together anymore.

Harry looks heartbroken. “I can’t… I can’t stay with Tom anymore?”

Jasper sighs because he knows his wife will fall for that look in a heartbeat. “No,” he answers, gentle but firm, “You can’t. But it’s just for the night, you know. Sleep in your own rooms for the night, and spend as much time together as you like during the day. Don’t think of it as separation, Harry.”

Voldemort watches on as Harry bites his lip, still frowning. “I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep,” the younger boy protests.

“You’ll learn,” Jasper replies patiently. “Don’t you think it’s time you give your brother some space? Give yourself some space? Having a new room means you won’t have to share closets—“

“I don’t mind.”

“But Tom might—“His father turns to his eldest beseechingly, as even he can only stand up to Harry’s adorably confused look for so long. Felicia is already a goner—she stands a bit behind, burying her face in her hand to muffle her laughter.

Voldemort takes a fake moment to think about it. “I don’t mind,” he repeats after his twin.

See, Dad?” Harry emphasizes, tugging on his sleeve. “It’s okay if we share.”

Jasper groans. “No Harry, it really isn’t…” He sighs, not wanting to do this but knowing he has to, to avoid future awkward situations. They’d already put this off long enough. “Go to your room, Harry.”

The boy makes a move towards his old one.

“Your new room.”

Harry pouts. “But Dad—“

Harry,” Jasper interrupts sternly. “Your mother and I prepared it just for you. Don’t you want to go see it, at least? We’ve worked hard on it you know. You wouldn’t want to upset your mother, would you?”

It is at this time that Felicia makes her way over to the door closest to them and opens it. In a way, the room itself is a compromise—right next door to Tom’s, they know it is the farthest away Harry would ever stand to move.

Harry looks at Tom, and Voldemort knows if he doesn’t say anything, the argument would go on until well into the night, when their father would probably have to drag him away. “Go on Harry, I’ll be here in the morning. We’ll eat breakfast together as usual.”

Both Felicia and Jasper look on with fond exasperation as Harry immediately walks over to his new room with no questions asked, and slips in through the doorway.

“You couldn’t have said that earlier Tom?” the man grouses. “I can’t believe he listens to you more than his own father!”

Voldemort shrugs. “Consider it his rebellious stage—you’re lucky he’s listening to anyone at all if you look at it that way.”

Felicia laughs. “He’s got you there darling!”

Later that night, as Voldemort expects, his bedroom door opens just wide enough for a slim body to slip through. In the blackness, he can make out the vague figure of his brother, clutching something to his chest—probably a pillow—and, having previously predicted this would happen with absolutely zero doubt, Voldemort moves over to allow Harry some space.

“It’s lonely in that room,” Harry whispers. “It makes me feel like the nightmares will come back.”

“I’m here,” Voldemort replies. His arms curl around Harry’s torso, pulling them closer until they’re spooning. “I’ll always be here.”

“…I know,” Harry mumbles into the dark, “I know, because you’ve always been, haven’t you?”

All that is missing is the lightning bolt scar.

About two hours later, the door creaks open again, and Voldemort, who had awoken instantly, feigns sleep. He can hear a forced exhale, a stirring of the air along with a muffled giggle, but he remains relaxed and straight-faced all the while. Harry’s heartbeat and slow breaths make it easy.

“Let them have a transition period,” Felicia suggests in a quiet murmur to her husband.

“I fear that transition period will never end,” Jasper remarks dryly.

“Well… I wouldn’t mind…”

“Felicia!”

“I can’t help it! They’re adorable! You’d think it wouldn’t be so cute as they grow up, but…”

“Fine. We’ll leave them be, but you’re dealing with the incoming awkward situations we’ll get—“

The door closes. Voldemort opens his eyes, glances around, and then presses closer to Harry still. There is a charm in this life that he’d never have expected, and it is so, so easy to get caught up in the pace. Perhaps there is merit in this type of peace after all. Perhaps he doesn’t need a proactive plan, but rather a reactive one. Because protecting this lifestyle is beginning to look more appealing as time goes on.


 

They are fourteen when Harry wonders what it would be like to kiss his brother.

In all honesty, he is a bit young—but perhaps that’s why, Voldemort muses as Harry changes to awkward teenager. He is curious in these years, and Tom’s the most likely choice for his attentions to turn to. They are already affectionate, after all, and Tom isn’t exactly ugly. It is slightly surprising though—Voldemort remembers there being a red headed chit in their past life, a girl who had oddly looked like Lily Potter…

But it’s no real matter. Voldemort admits he’d grown a bit more than rather attached to Harry, and if Harry’s attention is on him instead of some frivolous little girl, well that just worked out for the best.

It never has been a question of whether or not he wants his brother. It’s simply been a question of how—and now the answer has fallen gracefully into his lap, like a beautiful gift.

Besides, Voldemort knew if he had Harry’s affection both platonically and romantically, it’d be all the easier to control him. Love could give strength—he’d at least concede that, that damned old coot—but could just as well serve as a weakness. And his brother would be the perfect choice to experiment that on. And certainly it would be an… enjoyable venture. He’d teach Harry from point A to point B.

In all matters.

“T—Tom?” Harry asks, ducking his head to hide his furiously red blush. He’d never blushed like that before, Voldemort muses, and if it’d be a more common occurrence, it would be all the more welcome.

“Mm?”

Harry mumbles something. Voldemort raises an eyebrow to get him to repeat it.

“You’ve been starring at me for the last five minutes,” repeats his younger brother. He refused to meet his eyes.

Oh. “Ah. Does it bother you?” Certainly never has before.

“You had a weird look on your face!” says Harry in an attempt to defend himself against the unspoken remark.

Voldemort chuckles. “Oh? What did I look like?”

“Like you wanted to hunt me, or something!”

…Well, isn’t that rather specific. And accurate.

“You’d make interesting prey—“I would know, of course

“Tom!”

“—but the hunt would be over too soon if we don’t start training.”

Harry blinks. “We? Training?”

“To control our will,” explains Voldemort. He stands up from his spot on the bed, makes his way to his brother, and grabs him by the chin. “Our abilities complement each other. You, who can affect the environment, and I, who can affect people.  But we can do nothing if our wills are weak. However, we can do everything if we are strong…”

Harry tilts his head to the side, despite the majority of his head movement being restrained by Tom’s hand. “Would you… like that?”

Instead of a yes or no, Voldemort merely smirks. “I have plans, Harry,” he says slowly, drawing out each word, “and you will be part of them, yes?”

He doesn’t hesitate. “I go where you go.”

“And I go where you go,” Voldemort confirms. Because that’s how it’s always been.

And he is rewarded with a kiss, the first in this life.


 

They are sixteen when their parents find out.

Felicia and Jasper catch their sons in a corner, locked in some sort of private embrace, and Harry is surprised when they don’t start shouting. Voldemort, however, is not—their parents are warm people, generally accepting, always wishing for the best. Their social views are liberal, their pride in their sons unshakeable. Or… perhaps not the latter.

Their faces are horrified. Harry knows, with a tightness in his throat, that this is the end.

“What is the meaning of this?” Jasper demands, volume quiet and tone restrained.

Voldemort pushes away from the wall, keeping Harry behind him defensively as he faces his parents. It really is a shame, he muses, because these people were… good people. They’d been good parents. If things had been different, if perhaps their sons were able to see each other as brothers instead of more, instead of partners, then maybe things could’ve been a lot different. And they could’ve gone on as being good people.

He wondered if they’d be dying today.

“Dad—“Harry begins, not knowing what to say after. He just knows that his father needs to be addressed, to show he was heard. What comes after, or an actual answer, he doesn’t know.

“I can’t believe this,” Felicia mutters, shaking her head. Her hands are trembling. “I thought we were good parents… I thought we raised you well…”

“You did!” Harry shouts, stepping forward. Voldemort restrains him from moving any further. “You did teach us well… You’re the best mother anyone could wish for—“

“Then what’s this?” Jasper cuts in sharply. “From the looks of it, this has been going on for awhile, hasn’t it? Behind our backs?”

“It has,” replies Voldemort, “For two years.”

Felicia looks like she’s going to cry. “We’ll take you to therapy… Therapists will help you, and then everything can go back to normal. Why didn’t you say something when this started happening? We could’ve fixed you so much earlier!”

“There’s nothing to fix,” Voldemort says, again the epitome of calm. “There’s no problem at all.”

“Of course there’s a problem!” Jasper shouts. “You were kissing your brother! Your twin—“

“Dad—“

“Tell me, whose idea was this to begin with? Was it Tom’s, Harry? Did Tom make you do this—“

“No—“

“I didn’t listen!” Jasper continues, “I didn’t listen to everyone who told me my eldest was a bad seed—“

And it all goes downhill from there. Voldemort watches with casual interest as two windows break, a plug spits electricity, and their father takes a step back in surprise at the display of power.

Harry moves around his brother’s arm. “Tom is not a bad seed. I won’t let you insult him, even when it’s you, Dad.”

“That’s no way to talk to your father, Harry,” Felicia cuts in. Her voice shakes. “Apologize.”

“Not until he apologizes to Tom.”

“So what, don’t tell me you’re in love, Harry—“their father’s tone is close to hysterical—“don’t tell me that every night, when you sneak into his bedroom, that you’ve been—“

Harry flinches at the accusation. Voldemort sighs, and presumes their parents are as good as dead now. Because Harry belongs to him. He chooses when Harry is happy, or sad, or hurt, or killed—Voldemort rules Harry’s life, as he always has.

And no one can get in the way. “Silence,” Voldemort interrupts, and with the enforcement of his will, both their parents fall unwillingly quiet. “You’re upsetting Harry.”

At the sound of his name, his brother slips his hand into his and squeezes tightly. Voldemort squeezes back.

“Living with you… has been enjoyable, I have to admit,” he begins slowly, “And I’ve even considered you true parents—unlike Merope, unlike that pathetic Tom Riddle… Yes, you two are good people, and even good parents. If things had been different, if Harry and I were not your sons, that would’ve been best. But you got the short end of the stick—“

Voldemort can’t help but smile.

“Harry, close your eyes.”

Felicia and Jasper’s expressions melt into a horrified silent mess. Their minds fly back to Harold, their sons’ Uncle on Jasper’s side, jumping out the window head first from a single order. Voldemort’s will is undeniable, absolute. No one is strong enough to resist.

…Unless it’s Harry.

“No! Tom, please, don’t kill them,” the younger twin blurts out. “They’re Mum and Dad! Even if… even if they don’t love us anymore—“

“Love is weak,” Voldemort says, “Mercy is weak. When you make a decision, you cannot hesitate. Your decision, whatever it may be, that has gone through rigorous consideration and careful research, must be followed through. Mercy is weak, Harry.”

“I’ve never made the decision to kill them anyway,” Harry says defiantly. He moves around to stand in front of Felicia and Jasper. “They’re Mum and Dad. You know them.”

Voldemort sighs. “You know I could still kill them, don’t you? Even if you stand in front of them.”

“It’s symbolic,” replies his brother, lifting his chin and spreading his arms. “I won’t go against you, but I won’t like it if you kill them either.”

“…In most cases, you can’t get both.”

“Then this isn’t most cases. Don’t kill them Tom, for me at least!”

Voldemort gently pushes Harry to the side. He looks down at his defenseless parents, both on their knees, both terrified and still horrified—and Voldemort knows there would be no recovery for the situation. It is impossible to go back to what had been, and they are only sixteen…

Harry still deserves good parents.

But he is strong enough to live without them.

“You’ll live,” he tells them, and then repeats it a second time with a push of willpower, “You’ll live. Preferrably to an old age, and die that way. But you won’t see us again, because I’m taking Harry away. For what it’s worth, I appreciate your hospitality. It served me well to grow in a safe environment, and you allowed so. And I reward those who deserve it, so you’ll live…

But that’s all.”

Lord Voldemort does not lie.

When they are sixteen, they leave home. They take with them the clothes on their back, some cash quickly stuffed into their pockets, and Harry burns the rest. There would be no trace of them, no pictures to remember them by.

Harrison and Thomas Nye die that day. The cause of death is a house fire.

Felicia and Jasper Nye make it out alive, though they never say how.


 

 They are seventeen when they first go the whole way with each other. It’s honestly surprising that it took this long, that they were able to hold out this long, but Voldemort’s self control has always been astounding, and he wants Harry to make sure he knows what he’s doing. Because Harry was precious to him, and the only one who could break him would be Voldemort.

Not even Harry himself could cross that line; that, Voldemort swore to himself.

It’s a bit awkward at first, since they both know what they want but Harry has always been so careful around his brother, so hyper sensitive to every need and desire, that it makes it harder than it should be. But Voldemort doesn’t mind.

He indulges, he tastes, he samples. They work slowly to go over each and every body part of the other, things they’ve done a million times but for some reason find different this time. Because they know that they’ll go all the way, tonight.

The situation honestly isn’t the best. They’re at a cheap, family motel, something you find on the side of the road or in the empty part of town, trying to be quiet but it’s so, so hard because they really don’t want to be.

They’re not here because they’re poor—surprisingly enough, but the money isn’t exactly clean—but rather because the family took them under their wings as two unknown runaways, who happened to be adept workers. It’s rather easy with Harry’s exertion of will—a bit of focus, and everything’s clean—and Voldemort’s own persuasion left them completely oblivious. It’s easy to settle down, attend a school nearby, and pretend everything’s okay. But Harry knows never to get too close.

The only one he can trust is Tom.

So Harry falls and falls and falls, in love all over again with his brother, his twin, the very person he knows he shouldn’t. But by now what he knows and what he knows—that is, what is morally acceptable and what instead he and Tom choose to do—are two things that hardly cross paths. The one thing they’ve yet to do is commit murder, which Voldemort is obviously capable of, but Harry refuses to allow.

But this sort of thing is fine. They don’t have to agree with each other to work.

Voldemort admits that it’s frightening, truly terrifying how well they work with each other. In this life their abilities complement each other like they were supposed to be one in the first place. In this life moving together at the same or even varying paces is like breathing. In this life, having Harry as his world is easy. Protecting Harry is simple. Satisfying him, keeping him happy is just part of daily routine. Perhaps, had they been wizards, they would’ve conquered it all.

And he admits that, if there was one person that should exist to make him feel, like he never believed or wanted, that it’s only proper that it’s Harry. And he’d prefer no one else.

Voldemort wonders if this is what it’s like, if he chooses to love someone. And he finds that he wants it to be. Because loving Harry—loving Harry would make sense. Loving Harry, as ironic as it would seem, would be right. Loving Harry is what Harry deserves, and is what Harry, with his too-big heart and his ancient soul, wants.

When did life stop being about his plans, he thinks. When did life stop resting in the palm of his hands. When did life, something he thought he knew with all his memories of his past, become so vague. So new. So… strange.

Taking Harry, feeling him around him, tasting and sating his hunger, is more than the fulfillment of his lust and yearning. It is more than satisfaction, more than contentment, more than a simple step to the top. For Voldemort, it is an affirmation. An affirmation of a promise he made long ago, to a woman he has long stopped thinking of.

I’ll protect him.

Because Voldemort does not protect. Because now that he does, now that he has sworn, he is a bit less of the Dark Lord of his past. Because he confirms, repeatedly, the truth of the present as well as its continuation, it’s okay to begin again. It’s okay for Harry to stop being Harry Potter, Boy-Who-Lived, the prophecy child. It’s okay, not because he doesn’t fully have his memories, not because he makes no move to name who his brother was, not because a number of things!

It’s okay now, because things—their environment, their beliefs, their natures, their loyalties—are different. They were given this life for a reason.

Voldemort knows Harry will protect him just as much as he will protect Harry. It is a truth that they both feel indebted and free with each other. Their loyalty is both unconditional and bound. They walk the paths of not dark and light, not of grey, but rather of any manner, as long as it’s together.

This is the life Voldemort wants to live. No Death Eaters, no cowardly politicians, no iron-fist rule by terror, no Dark Marks, and God forbid there be any Dumbledore. He is tired, he has been tried, and for some reason, seen fit to be given this life. A life tied to Harry.

And there is nowhere else he’d rather be.

“Love you, Tom,” Harry sobs into his shoulder, “love you…”

“I know,” he breathes, pressing hot and wet and eternity, because they’ll need this boundless hope, this promise and this determination, to brave what will come.


 

My big brother is the best! There’s no one out there that can beat him!

Why do you say that? What has he done, to be the best?

He… He just is! Big brother knows so many things—he’s smart, and he’s strong, and—

What has he done to prove that?

…I…

Don’t know?

No! I know big brother is the best. Even if he’s mean to me, even if he’s nice to me. No matter what, I’ll follow him.

Why do you feel like this?

Can you not say?

Why?

…There is a person, in my dreams. He’s always fighting with someone. They do weird things, that make lights appear. It’s almost like… magic. And in this dream, that person who I admire, always stops and holds his hand out. He’s waiting for the other man to take it, I’m sure. But that man never does. And it… it makes me feel sad, for some reason. I can’t say why.

Is that man your brother? The person you admire?

…No! He isn’t! My brother isn’t either of those people—

Then why does it matter?

Because I see that person, who always laughs at that hand! I see him, and I cry for him. He is alone, unlike that man I admire, who has an army of friends and family behind him. I cry, because I think it’s wrong. I cry, because I know he should take that hand, even when he doesn’t. That he can’t take that hand, because life had never given him a gift like that before, and he can’t recognize it as it is.

And what’s that got to do with your brother?

There’s a connection there, that I don’t quite know…

My brother is smart, because he solves all the problems Mum and Dad argue about. My brother is strong, because he never backs down. My brother is mean, because he always ignores me and pushes me away. My brother is nice, because he’s always been there for me.

He’s… always there. No matter what. Even if we’re in different parts of the house, he’s always there for me. Just like those two people who are fighting.

Inside my heart, I know it’s wrong. It’s wrong of me, to give and give and give but to never take back, but I believe I owe it to him. Because the one who left him… the one who left him first, was me. I was the one who pushed him away, and I paid the price. We were supposed to be separated forever because of it, but he was so stubborn and followed me anyway.

He’ll always be there for me, I know.

Who are you talking about, the people in your dreams, or you and your brother?

…My brother is the best. He never loses. That’s why he can’t possibly be that person in my dreams.


 

“But even if… even if you are… that person—no, Voldemort, I don’t mind anymore. I’m hopelessly in love with you either way.”

Harry smiles, a sigh leaving through his nose instead of his closed lips. There is a softness in the way he tangles his fingers in his brother’s hair, only to pull them away effortlessly. It is a tender motion, one full of affection and playfulness unlike their previous passion, but just as well, it fits.

His brother stirs. Harry, from his upright position, leans down to press his lips against the crook of his neck.

“You’re not asleep,” Voldemort says, his words somewhat sloppy as the shade of sleep begins to disappear.

“I will be. I kicked the blankets off and got cold…”

“Come here then,” Voldemort sighs. There is a brief moment of rustling as he turns in the sheets, instantly moving to pull Harry down and to his bare chest. “What am I going to do with you…”

“Sorry Tom. I’ll do better next time.” It’s an unfitting thing to say, hiding an obvious secret, but Harry is utterly shameless about it.

“Do better this time.”

“…Yeah. I will.”


 

“It’s alright, Mr. and Mrs. Nye. We won’t judge you. Could you please tell us what happened to your sons…?” a woman in her late twenties asks. There is a sort of charm to her, something mysterious and otherworldly that only Felicia and Jasper can identify, as it resembles that of their son’s. For all intents and purposes she looks like a white-collar worker, with her pencil skirt and tucked in blouse, her normally bushy hair tucked into a bun, but for some reason still, there is… something else. Something magical.

An older man, with red hair and blue eyes like the moon, nods his head beside her. One hand rises to stroke his beard, the other grips his cane. “It is, I’m afraid, a matter of great importance. We don’t wish to bring back any of your bad memories, but…”

“They were good boys,” Felicia whispers. “Good sons. If only—“

“If only?” Another man with a hook nose and jet black hair prompts. There is something magical about all these people, Felicia swears. In this case, with black slacks and a black blazer, black tie and black button-up, the man seems to meld with the shadows of her new home, eyes sharp and all-knowing.

A bat, she thinks for but a second, but the thought is out-of-place and easily forgotten.

“I wish I’d encouraged them to play with others more when they were younger. Maybe then, it wouldn’t have turned out the way it did…”

Jasper put his arm around his wife, comforting her in his presence and show of gentle affection. It is all he can do, because he doesn’t have the heart to deny the words he too had thought again and again.

“What happened?” the woman asks carefully.

“…Together… they were...”

“Are they still alive?” the man dressed in black chooses to say instead.

Felicia bites her lip. Jasper is the one who nods. “I don’t know where they are, where Tom took them, but—“

“We understand,” the ginger smiles genially. “It’s fine, you’ve been very strong up until now. Not to worry, we’ll find them and make sure they’re alright. That boy, your Harry, is a very strong lad. I daresay he’ll have changed Tom for the better… and if not, well… Those matters aside, would either of you care to have a lemon drop?”