A/N: Please do not repost, recreate or translate.
Running Up That Hill
‘You don't wanna hurt me, but see how deep that bullet lies. Unaware that I'm tearing you asunder, there's a thunder in our hearts, baby.'
Depending on how you look at it, strangers really are just friends we don’t know yet.
Just think about it – when you first laid eyes on your current friends, did you instantly know their names and their favorite colors, what they had in common with you? The answer should be no, unless you’re a psychic, which Harry didn’t really believe in anyway.
With this in mind, Harry found it odd that people always had their judgment ready about strangers and avoided them like the plague when strangers could mean so much to you, and then was overwhelmed by the profound hypocrisy behind that statement. Although he truly felt this way, he tended to try and distance himself from others as much as possible too. What was the cause of that? Harry was uncertain. He wasn’t a philosophical person yet he knew that it was because of what society had implanted in his head. Like all those hipster Facebook users said – society’s a bitch and life fucks you up the ass whenever it can.
Or perhaps they’re less crude when posting this on their Facebook wall, whatever. Harry wasn’t sure. He only used the computer when he did his homework or was in need for some porn when his fantasies didn’t suffice.
Normalcy is determined by the masses yet Harry wondered – who was it to decide that strangers are always dangerous? Was it fear that made people instinctively hate everything they couldn’t instantly grasp with their peanut sized brains in an odd way of self-defense? The questions were dizzying and entirely confusing and something a teenage boy shouldn’t be thinking of on a perfectly fine Tuesday afternoon.
Harry did know one thing for sure.
The tall boy being pushed around by fellow members of Harry’s football team didn’t deserve it, even if he was a stranger to Harry.
‘Hey! Knock it off!’ Harry yelled. The tall boy looked around in shock, his body frigid, his books falling to the ground in a way that made Harry wince. His fellow team members had always been assholes, but it wasn’t until now that Harry realized they were cruel too.
And just because this boy was another nameless stranger. A stranger who was someone’s son, maybe someone’s brother, someone’s friend or boyfriend. The unfairness of the situation struck Harry in the wrong way. Just because no one around had ties with this boy, it didn’t make his emotions of any less value. He was still a person.
Harry shoved Draco off the boy and sneered at him, standing defensively in front of the stranger. ‘You asshole! What did he ever do to you?!’ Harry demanded.
‘He’s a fucking freak, Potter, always walking around like he’s hot shit when he’s just a handicapped retard!’ Draco exclaimed. Harry’s eyes widened and he turned his head to look at the boy. The boy was staring intently at his face but he wasn’t saying a thing, and Harry could see the little hearing aids in his ears. The reason why Harry hadn’t seen this boy before was suddenly so obvious that Harry felt flustered for not having come up with it. As class president, Harry knew pretty much everyone who attended his school.
This boy most likely attended the other high school down the street, the one for all hearing impaired children.
He kept staring into the boy’s discomforted blue eyes and it pulled at Harry’s heartstrings. He looked angry, his fists shaking by his sides and his books sprawled across the ground. No one deserved to feel like that.
Harry turned back to Draco again. ‘You leave him the hell alone, Malfoy. Don’t think I don’t know about you and Pansy. What would your girlfriend think about that?’
Draco’s eyes widened and Crabbe and Goyle looked at him with confused expressions on their dumb faces. Draco sneered. ‘Whatever. Have fun with your boyfriend, Potter.’
Draco shoved him in the shoulder and Harry stumbled backwards, right into the deaf boy’s chest. He didn’t look at the boy, though. He just kept glaring at Draco’s retreating form and Harry had never felt like quitting the football team so badly before. It wasn’t like he needed the extra credit anyway.
He realized a small crowd had gathered around himself and the boy behind him and he flushed, angrily dropping to his knees and gathering the books in his arms.
Why did people always stare without doing a damn thing? Sometimes Harry wondered if they would’ve been okay with watching a public murder too, and then realized that humanity was savage and destructive. It was entirely unfair people like this boy had to suffer because of it.
There was a leatherbound notebook lying on the ground too, and it had opened on its first page. Property of Tom Marvolo Riddle, it read, and Harry’s fingers lingered on it for a moment. It looked very expensive and he didn’t even know people still made notebooks like this.
Tom. The deaf boy was named Tom Marvolo Riddle.
Harry smiled when Tom bent down and took his books from Harry’s hands, a strange expression in his eyes. He looked confused and hurt, angry. Harry didn’t blame him.
‘I’m sorry,’ he mumbled before he realized Tom couldn’t hear him. Tom’s eyes were staring at his lips, though, and Harry kept blushing because of that. Much to his surprise Tom replied in a thick voice, the words a bit uncertain and hesitant.
‘It’s not your fault,’ Tom replied. He wrapped his arms around his books and stood up again – Harry followed.
‘You… understand me? I thought you were deaf.’ Harry winced, hoping he hadn’t insulted the boy. Tom shrugged.
‘I am, but I have learned to read lips and my parents got me speech therapy when I was young. I can understand what you say if you don’t speak fast. I’m sorry that boy called you my boyfriend, I didn’t know he knew I’m gay and I hope it didn’t cause you any trouble.’ Tom was saying all these polite things but it seemed to come out strained, like he was forcing himself to be calm. His hands were shaking around his books and his frown didn’t seem to go away either.
There was a certain undertone to Tom’s words that made it apparent there was something physically wrong with him, but it wasn’t as obvious as Harry had expected. He could understand Tom just fine even if he paused a bit too long between every word.
Harry couldn’t explain why he was so intrigued by this boy. Instead, he simply held out his hand.
‘I’m Harry,’ he said. Tom narrowed his eyes, a frown on his lips like he didn’t understand.
‘Larry?’ he asked in an uncertain tone. Harry smiled and mimicked an H, not at all offended. He was actually shocked by his own patience.
‘Harry,’ Harry repeated. Tom took Harry’s hand and Harry blinked – he had big hands. His hand swallowed up Harry’s completely and his long fingers were warm and soft. Harry could imagine Tom signing with those large hands of his and then was surprised by the feeling of disappointment for not knowing sign language too.
‘Harry,’ Tom parroted then, stressing the H. Harry nodded. ‘My name is Tom.’
‘Nice to meet you, Tom,’ Harry murmured. Tom smiled.
‘Nice to meet you too, Harry.’
Things changed drastically for the both of them after this day.
The day after Harry met Tom, he got himself a book on how to learn sign language and grew frustrated when he couldn’t instantly memorize the most important signs.
He found out his new friend lived nearby his own house in a big manor on top of the hill, and Harry liked walking Tom home before heading home himself. It quickly became a daily routine and Harry wisely kept his mouth shut about being gay as well. Tom didn’t need to know that quickly, Harry grew obsessed with him.
Tom was funny and intelligent, and he was actually great at helping Harry with his homework. Sometimes after a particular stressful day, Tom would write to Harry instead of talking to him because talking took a lot of effort and concentration which Tom sometimes didn’t have the patience for.
Harry didn’t mind. In fact, he cherished the notebooks Tom had written in, often just flipping through and grinning at their stupid discussions about who the better superhero was, which movie they should watch together and stories about their days in general.
Harry liked the contrast between Tom’s handwriting and his own. He liked the fact that Tom’s handwriting was elegant, just as his house and lifestyle was, while Harry’s was messy and shouty.
Tom’s parents were rich but they didn’t pay much attention to Tom and sometimes Harry wondered to himself if they tried to compensate for that by buying Tom things that he didn’t need at all. Tom had merely shrugged when he had traded his iPod for one of Harry’s books. He was deaf – what use could such a device be to him anyway?
Sometimes Tom could be entirely bitter and quite quiet, and Harry knew that those were the moments in which Tom was most vulnerable.
And Harry wondered to himself what it’d be like – to slide his glasses off, become deviously attractive and reserved like Tom Riddle. Harry wondered what it’d be like to resign himself to a life of loneliness and if he would notice the difference when his life was already exceedingly dull without anyone around (except for Tom) who cared enough to come talk to him.
In a way, loneliness was just as brutal as cancer. It ate away at a person until they became a shell of the person they used to be. Harry wondered if Tom still ached because of this, or if he simply grew numb and let himself believe that he did not care anymore. This was frightening and disarming. Harry never thought about Tom having feelings.
Maybe that’s the reason why Tom slept so much. Harry had noticed that Tom had been falling asleep when they were doing homework more and more often, and he was losing weight too.
When one is asleep, they slip into their own world. It’s a lot like dying, only less permanent and painless. And as Harry stared at his ceiling with a thoughtful look in his eyes, his mind full of Tom and the things he didn’t manage to do today, he thought to himself – another day wasted. At least you’re a champion in your dreams.
Harry feared what would happen to a person once they’d stop dreaming.
It didn't even occur to Harry that Tom's parents spoiled him because they feared Tom.
‘Are you going to Tom’s again?’ his mom asked Harry three weeks later. Harry paused from where he’d been attempting to tame his hair, glancing at her through their combined reflections on the mirror. He smiled.
‘Yeah, I am. That’s okay isn’t it?’
‘Fine.’ There was a certain tone to her voice that made Harry pause from where he’d been trying to smooth down one of his messy strands, and he looked at her again.
‘What is it?’ he asked. Lily shrugged and smoothed a crease on the back of Harry’s shirt, her fingers gentle on his back. They didn’t send pleasant tingles down his spine in the way Tom’s touch did.
‘Nothing, sweetheart. It’s just that you spend a lot of time with him…’ she meaningfully trailed off, her eyebrows quirking up, and it wasn’t until Harry caught up with her that he flushed and spun around.
‘Mom!’ he exclaimed, staring her in the eye with a mortified expression in her eyes. Surely she didn’t mean that?! Lily just smiled and brushed her hand over his shoulder, pressing a kiss against his cheek.
‘He’s a good boy, Harry. Just please don’t do anything to hurt his feelings, from what you’ve told us he’s been through a lot.’
‘I’m supposed to be your son, you know,’ Harry mumbled. He couldn’t help but feel strangely touched by this, though, because normally people would just pity Tom or ridicule him for being deaf, but his mom genuinely cared about Tom's feelings. He could feel his shoulders relax somewhat and thought to himself that he’d always protect Tom even if Tom didn’t think he needed it. Harry didn’t see Tom as a defenseless person, it was just that when you’re different, people always found ways to turn that difference into a reason for violence.
‘Keep it up like this and he’ll be my son-in-law in a few years,’ Lily instantly replied in a sing song voice. Harry gaped at her and she was out before he could say anything in return. She might as well had punched him in the stomach because the realization hit him so hard that it left him breathless.
Tom being her son in law sounded amazing, and him being Harry’s boyfriend, fiancé, husband sounded… It sounded beautiful.
As Harry stared into the reflection of his own wide eyes and felt the blood rushing through his ears and his heart pounding in his chest, he came to realize he wasn’t just obsessed with Tom and the way he was coping with things.
Harry was in love with Tom.
After this, Harry avoided Tom for a few days until he managed to keep a straight face when merely thinking about the fact that he was actually in love with his best friend.
He sent Tom emails every day, stating that he was sick and he even feigned a fever so that his mom would let him stay home from school. It wasn’t that hard to do – he just pressed a cup of hot tea against his ear (and burnt himself but whatever, it was worth it) right before his mom put a thermometer into it.
Being away from Tom didn’t help. It was like Harry’s every thought evolved around him, like Tom had taken his mind and made it his own. Harry thought about what Tom was like and the way he sometimes smiled when he thought Harry wasn’t looking, and how sad life was for Tom.
Tom possessed a type of intelligence that people underestimated and it had rendered him bitter. Harry understood that and in a way, Tom was vindicated to be bitter too. Harry didn’t know what it was like to be trapped inside his mind with no sound from outside to reach him. He didn’t know what it was like to be vulnerable and strong at the same time, but he did know that Tom could love. It wasn’t too late for him and if Tom’s world was inside his head then Harry would have to worm his way into it. Tom wasn’t deaf, not to Harry. It was more complicated than that.
Harry wrapped his arms around himself as he watched Tom from across the room. It was the first time in days that he was in Tom’s room again, but it was okay. Tom didn’t seem to be suspicious and Harry shamelessly studied the teen.
He was still gorgeous and there was still nothing wrong with him. He was still more smart, attractive and kindhearted than anyone Harry had ever met. It was like this was Tom’s body’s way of compensating for Tom’s initial perfection. It was only truly visible for those willing to turn a deaf ear, no pun intended.
Tom looked up from his book and Harry smiled at him. Tom seemed to hesitate, confused, before he slowly nodded to Harry to acknowledge him.
Harry paused and licked his lips, his brows furrowing as he tried to remember the new word he had learned in sign language. Tom was still staring at Harry as Harry signed only one word to him.
He didn’t know how Tom would respond, didn’t even know if Tom was aware of the fact that Harry was learning sign language just for him. He didn’t want to freak Tom out and for a brief moment Harry panicked.
But then Tom smiled. He signed one word back.
For the longest time Harry wondered to himself what being brave meant.
Did it mean having a lack of fear or feeling fear but being willing to push through regardless? Did it mean just not giving a fuck about what other people thought and just soldiering on? Harry thought about what significance that word may hold to Tom, and what the word meant to himself. He decided that it didn’t matter.
Tom thought he was brave so that was what Harry was. He decided to stop being afraid of voicing his own emotions before it would be too late and confessed to Tom how he felt about him.
And just like that, they went from best friends to boyfriends.
Bravery, Harry found out after that, was a fickle thing. It could influence a lot of things for the better or worse whereas beauty was timeless. He still was uncertain of what was better but Harry figured that it didn’t matter either. He was the happiest boy in the world right now and nothing could stop it.
He didn’t know that he was brave for simply acquainting himself with someone as dangerous as Tom.
It was the 76th day of being Tom’s boyfriend (not that Harry actually counted the days, because that’d be weird and definitely not something he would do… obviously) when Harry finally felt courageous enough to take it to the next level. Tom was amazing to him – they still argued and they weren’t perfect, but Harry felt complete when he was around Tom. Things were great.
They were sitting in Harry’s living room together, Harry’s parents still at work and the tv only a vague background noise. There was a special news report on, something about boys who went missing. Harry only had eyes for Tom.
‘How do you sign I love you?’ Harry asked, by now already used to talking a bit calmer and articulating better. The way Tom stared at his mouth sometimes still made him feel hot and achy, though, because Tom would sometimes randomly lean forward while Harry was still talking to kiss him.
A look of bewilderment overcame Tom before he slowly lifted his hands and showed him. Harry grinned and lifted his hands as well.
I love you too, he signed, and he watched as Tom’s eyes grew comically wide before he started laughing. On the tv, the faces of Draco, Crabbe and Goyle and a phone number for those who may want to tip the police anonymously came on.
‘You little shit!’ Tom exclaimed with an amused tone in his voice. Harry was by now used to the way Tom spoke. It was like he had an accent rather than that he was incapable of hearing himself speak. Harry admired Tom for not only this but the way he was coping with everyone’s ignorance as well. He really did love his boyfriend and everything that Tom was and stood for. Harry may be brave, but Tom was intelligent and strong, and that counted a lot more.
Harry shrugged and leaned forward to press a kiss against Tom’s lips.
You love me, Harry signed. Tom shrugged.
I signed it, so it must be true.
On the tv, Draco’s crying mother was being interviewed by a zealous reporter.
For as much as Harry loved the innocence of their relationship, he was forced to acknowledge that there were much darker parts of himself and Tom that he loved to explore.
When he was making out with Tom and heard the noises Tom released when he thought Harry didn’t hear (or maybe Tom wasn’t even aware of it?), when he felt Tom’s hard cock rub along his own through the fabrics of their pants as they rocked their hips together, Harry wanted nothing more but to go further.
Harry told himself to give it time, to try to fight it off but this was proving to be more difficult than he had hoped it would be because Tom was sexy. He could tell Tom’s desire for him was growing too with each passing day if the way Tom gripped his ass and kissed him hungrily was any indication.
Harry wanted to give his virginity to Tom. He just wondered when would be the right time, because he didn’t want his parents walking in on them and he wasn’t sure if Tom’s parents were okay with Harry staying over. He didn’t really want to bring it up, either.
Tom’s fingers were tracing circles on his thighs and Harry felt his cock twitch in his pants, his back to Tom’s chest. Tom hummed and kissed the back of his head. I want you to fuck me seemed too crude, and I want you inside of me seemed just… weird. Harry didn’t know how to bring it up but he did know he was ready.
So for now Harry just settled into Tom’s chest and sighed, bringing up Tom’s hand and kissing all of his knuckles.
‘Harry?’ Tom asked softly. Harry paused before he turned around, looking Tom in the eye. The way Tom said his name was precious because no one had ever said it like Tom did – every word Tom said was thought through, meaningful. He added profound depth to something as insignificant as Harry’s first name and it often made Harry’s head spin.
There was an odd sort of expression in Tom’s eyes, the same he had worn when Draco had been pushing him around and been calling him names. Harry’s brows drew together and he sat up a bit straighter.
‘Yeah?’ he asked hesitantly, in a worried tone. Tom’s lips moved but there was no sound and Tom kept frowning to himself the way he always did when he thought Harry wasn’t aware. He stayed like that for a couple of heartbeats before he sighed.
‘…Never mind,’ Tom finally said.
Harry blinked a bit, frowning. He didn’t like the way Tom was looking right now but he didn’t want to push his boyfriend. He knew how angry Tom could get if he’d do that.
Harry sighed as well and cupped Tom’s cheeks in his hands before kissing him. He smiled against Tom’s lips as he brushed their noses together.
‘Love you,’ Harry mumbled even though Tom couldn’t read his lips like this. For a moment it felt like Tom could hear properly when Tom mumbled a soft ‘I love you’ as well. Inwardly, it made Harry happy to know that their minds were so much alike.
One day, when he’d look back on this, he’d realize he’s been entirely delusional to think this.
There was not a single part of their bodies that wasn’t in contact with another body part, their lips parted while they panted and kissed, their eyes solely focused on each other, if they were open at all. Harry felt aglow – he felt alive and well. Life was perfect.
Life was beautiful and worth it and every minute they spent apart, was a minute wasted.
That was Harry’s philosophy, anyway. That was what he lived by and that was what he firmly believed as he lied there on his bed, naked, making out with his beautiful boyfriend who was still inside of him, pressing him down deeper into the mountain of pillows and sheets they were lying on.
They needn’t say a thing to make it clear to one another how good this was. How beautiful it was to be able to taste and touch and learn each other’s bodies inside out without having a care in the world because they were still young and they had all the time in the world.
There was something deeply poetic about the look in Tom’s eyes. Maybe if Harry had possessed the ability to eloquently describe things or maybe if he had known fancier words, he would’ve found better ways to say that there was an odd kind of beauty that resided in Tom’s blue eyes, something otherworldy and unbelievably sexy in its own intimacy. Intimacy, Harry learned, was what they both lived for. It was what helped them create this own little space in this world in which they fit right in.
Harry ran his fingers over Tom’s bicep before pulling away, as if afraid the touch was too bold, and hungrily kissed Tom’s lips, straining his neck up and feeling Tom’s fingers wrapped around the back of it to support him. God knew how long they’d been rolling around the sheets like this, smiling in each other’s mouths and the silence occasionally broken by gasps and moans only Harry could hear. It was good. It was good to not be fighting for once, it was good to be a couple. They were at their best like this when they were not occupied with school or family or other stupid little things that didn’t matter.
Harry could feel Tom’s heart beating against his chest and he paused from where he’d been pressing another kiss to Tom’s mouth – would he ever get enough of kissing Tom, Harry wondered? – to sneak a glance between their bodies. There was come splattered all over Harry’s stomach, some having rubbed off on Tom’s skin. Somehow Harry had expected to actually see Tom’s heart no matter how silly that thought was.
Tom liked Harry’s random musings most of the time. They amused him. Harry just didn’t feel like speaking because it felt like words would be a betrayal of how true and genuine this moment was. Words were insignificant when it came to communicating with Tom Riddle. Words had been used over and over for centuries and Harry was convinced that no one had ever felt the way Harry felt right now. It just couldn’t be. This happiness was too good to be human.
Harry kind of felt like Superman.
Harry sighed, pressing his forehead against Tom’s and closing his eyes. There was a strain in his arms from where he was keeping himself propped up over Harry and Harry wanted to tell Tom that it was okay, that Tom could lie on top of Harry completely without having to worry about crushing him. Harry just didn’t know how to say that Tom’s weight on top of his own smaller body was nice and comforting, without coming over creepy.
‘Hmm,’ Harry hummed happily, finally, incapable of keeping his mouth shut even though Tom couldn’t hear. ‘That was good.’
Tom’s head had dropped into the crook of Harry’s neck by now and Tom paused from pressing kisses against Harry’s skin, as if feeling the vibrations of Harry’s voice startled him. Harry kissed Tom’s temple sweetly. He remembered the day he ran into Tom, he remembered how thin and unhappy Tom had looked and never had he been more grateful for sticking up for Tom the way he did now. Tom had enriched his life in ways Harry had not even thought possible.
‘Tom,’ Harry whispered and Tom hummed as if he could hear, seeming to be fascinated by Harry’s collarbones if the way he was tracing them was anything to come by. The way Tom paid attention to Harry’s body, like it was a precious jewel or a secret space he couldn’t wait to map out every time he visited it, made Harry feel beautiful and justified in all the right ways.
Harry didn’t even feel worried about the fact that he had to go home later tonight, alone, with that serial killer still walking the streets. He’s slaughtered five people by now, and Draco had yet to be found.
Harry found it hard to believe such stories when he was surrounded with so much goodness, all at once.
There was a hint of a smile tugging at Tom’s lips – Harry could feel the corners of his mouth turn up before Tom sucked an undoubtedly impressive hickey into his skin. Harry relaxed his spine and focused on how full he felt for a moment. He never wanted Tom to pull out again and he vaguely wondered to himself why they hadn’t done this before, why Harry had been so keen on waiting. He pushed a bit at Tom’s chest to ensure Tom would understand that Harry wanted to talk to him. Their eyes locked and Harry petted Tom’s hair for a brief moment before he asked a question that he had been trying to ask for months now, but never had gotten a reply to.
‘Tom why did you take all of your books from your locker that day?’
Tom paused again, but this time, he didn’t continue. This time, Tom pushed himself up again on his elbows and stared at Harry. Harry blinked at him and smiled, but it faded instantly when he noticed the look on Tom’s face. He buried his face into Tom’s neck again and mumbled something that sounded a lot like I was going to kill myself.
Harry’s eyes widened in shock. He didn’t know what to say at all and his fingers halted from where they’d been buried in Tom’s hair. Tom kissed his collarbone again and then nipped his way up to Harry’s mouth, nuzzling their noses together.
His boyfriend had been a suicidal stranger once and everyone had ignored him. No one had noticed that Tom had suffered in silence because of this. No one had cared enough, in fact, they had only added to his suffering. The thought of Tom dying was terrifying to Harry all of a sudden, because he had already (mentally anyway) built his life around Tom.
Essentially, Harry had nothing to worry about.
Tom didn’t say he was going to kill himself. He said he was going to kill everyone else.