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“You’ve made a friend!” Harry beamed when Tom tells him over the mirror. “Tommy boy is growing up so fast~!”

“Tommy boy also has an untraceable wand that knows a few little hexes.” Tom rolled his eyes, then looked contemplative. “I didn’t really expect that out of Krum, to be quite honest. He’s different than I thought.”

Harry nodded empathetically, “I wasn’t close to him the first time around, so I’m a little surprised, but at the same time it does seem to be in his character to do such a thing.”

“Could be worse, I suppose,” Tom grumbled. “He’s already invited me to the Quidditch World Cup Final next summer, regardless if Bulgaria makes it there.”

“I think Draco and Ron are going to fight over who gets to take me,” Harry says brightly, “I hope they do.”

Tom snorts. “Your mutt of a godfather is likely to take you either way.” Which was very true. The Ministry was going to be bending backwards for him for quite a long time.

“Speaking of Sirius, he’s been a little tight lipped in his last few letters. Like he has a secret that he’s trying really hard not to slip.”

“Maybe he got you a puppy. Well, an actual puppy, not one disguised as himself.”

Sirius did not get him a puppy. But close.

Harry peered up at Remus Lupin, who had greeted them at the door, Sirius and Harry having just come back from King’s Cross. The scarred man smiled unsurely at Harry and sent a worried glance at Sirius as he wrung his hands on the apron he was wearing. He looked like a step-mother worried about interloping a two-person family.

Holy shit , Sirius.

Sirius grinned, though a hint of concern showed on his face. “Harry, this is Remus.” He paused , then sheepishly said, “I don’t know if you remember, but he was one of the Marauders, too. Lily’s favorite, actually, well, other than your father, but it’s hard to tell sometimes because James and I did a lot of shit and so Remus and Lily were like two exasperated wives and uh. So. I hope you don’t mind. He’s going to be staying with us?”

When Harry just blinked at the two of them, he could see the anxiety bubble up in Remus, and aw . He missed this man.

“With the way you were trying to clearly hide something in your letters, I thought you, I dunno, got an illegal pet or something.” Harry hummed as he looked Remus up and down for show. “Not a werewolf house-husband. S’cool though. I hear they’re wild in bed.”

Remus turned red and choked while Sirius went from relieved to wailing “You’re twelve !” in point two seconds flat.

“Welcome to the family, Remus!” Harry grinned like the wicked child he was. “I hope you two soundproofed your room!”

“Aw, come on!” Harry groaned at the Daily Prophet’s headline. ‘Convicted Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange Escapes Azkaban!’ it proclaims in big bold letters, a picture of a madly cackling Bellatrix under it. “How the hell did she even manage that?!”

“How did who manage what?” Sirius yawned, shuffling blearily into the dining room.

“Your crazy cousin got out of Azkaban.”

“Which one?”

“Well, the ex-cousin, I suppose, considering you burned her out of the family tree.” Harry amended, remembering that fact. “She’s not gonna come and kill us, right?”

“She can try,” Sirius cheerily said, “Then I can say it was in self-defense when I rip her throat out.”

Remus sighed into his coffee.

“I think that’s supposed to be Remus’ job,” Harry said, and Remus promptly choked.

Sirius, immediately reaching to rub and pat the werewolf’s back, sighed, “He has a no mauling policy.”

“That didn’t sound like it last night.”

“You’re twelve!”

Remus inhaled deeply. “Next time,” He calmly said, setting down his mug before he did something regrettable with it - like throw it at Sirius’ head, “ I’ll do the silencing charms.”

He was starting to regret moving in. Just a little. (Not really.)

It worries me ,” Harry read in Neville’s latest letter, “ that my first two thoughts in reading the news about Lestrange are ‘How likely is Harry going to be caught up in this’ and ‘Do I want to encourage him.’

“Your faith in me is very flattering,” Harry replied, to which Neville sent back, “ You are, after all, the most terrifying person I have ever met.

Should Harry be offended? Probably. But he took it as a compliment anyway.

Draco, on the other hand, wrote, “ If I tell you that my Aunt Bellatrix is trying to seek sanctuary at my family manor, can you promise to give her the Lockhart treatment?

“What makes you think I know what the Lockhart treatment is?” Harry countered.

I don’t care what you do, I’d rather not have to deal with an insane Black. ” Draco furiously replied. “ You’re lucky your dogfather is fine and that he doesn’t fantasize about bearing the Dark Lord’s offspring and the motions on how that’ll be possible, and I swear to Merlin, I know you’re laughing, but it’s disgusting and more than my young ears can take--

Harry sent him a charmed letter that echoed his cackling.

“Your number one fan is looking for you,” Harry wrote to Tom, gleefully attaching the news article to the letter. “I heard from a reliable source that she’s currently looking for love.”

Harry, soulmate , ” Tom replied, “ don’t even start.

For their birthday, Harry and Neville decided to have one combined celebration rather than two separate ones back to back. Which meant the entirety of their class was invited. Yes, even the Slytherins.

Harry was frankly surprised some of the snakes even came, considering the minimal personal interactions he’s had with all of them bar Draco, but well, this was the birthday party of two very well regarded family heirs.

“It would be stupid of anyone to pass this up,” Daphne Greengrass sniffed and beside her, Tracey Davis nodded. “Parkinson and Bulstrode are too simple to understand what kind of opportunities and introductions attending this party could bring.”

And she wasn’t wrong. Sirius and Augusta Longbottom really outdid themselves. Harry and Neville may have been responsible for inviting their peers, but as this was an Heir Longbottom and Heir Potter joint birthday party, Augusta made no room for argument as too which of her acquaintances would be invited. And being a very well respected traditionalist, that meant a good number of the upper-crust. Sirius on the other hand, not to be outdone, invited former classmates and friends he’d reconnected with somehow, most of them well respected professionals in their field. Ron nearly tripped flat on his face when he recognized a first string member of the Chudley Cannons and Puddlemere United’s first reserve seeker among them.

“I’m pretty certain your party has more prestigious people than any of mine has ever had.” Draco commented, not really too bothered because after a few years such things have gotten a bit stale.

“You’ve had the Minister attend yours,” Harry pointed out.

“Some would say that would be a minus.”

“True enough.”

Neville, surprisingly, didn’t look overwhelmed. Just exasperated.

“She does this for all my birthdays,” He mourned. “‘Twas too much pressure as a kid, all these adults expecting so much from you when you couldn’t even do a lick of accidental magic.”

Harry patted his shoulder sympathetically.

Overall, the party was going quite alright. Sure there was a somber moment when someone mentioned Frank and Alice Longbottom, and then another somber moment when another someone mentioned James and Lily Potter, and then another somber moment when some of the adult guests had the uncomfortable realization that the two birthday boys were orphans from a war not their own after being directly targeted by You-Know-Who, and really, Harry thought these people were hilarious .

He hasn’t gotten this many birthday gifts since the birthday after defeating Tom the first time.

Then just as the party was winding down, one of the high ranking aurors in attendance received a very unsubtle patronus with one message.

“Bellatrix Lestrange has been sighted in Diagon Alley.”

Harry doesn’t think he’s ever seen Narcissa Malfoy look so calmly enraged.

The day after, Harry got two updates: one from the Daily Prophet, who sensationalized the event in true fashion and glossed over the two deaths in Knockturn Alley in favor for the three injured in Diagon, and one from Draco, who relayed to him that Bellatrix hasn’t come home and his mother was completely pissed. Even his father was steering clear from the angry matriarch, never mind his own upset about the matter.

Lestrange doesn’t make any other noteworthy appearances, even after the Hogwarts supplies list have gone out and Diagon was brimming with Hogwarts students and their families for the following week.

Harry was able to meet with Tom only once more, in a McDonald’s in London. Tom won’t admit it, but he’d developed a taste for the fast food in so many lifetimes that there are days that he actually missed the greasy food.

“Are they not feeding you enough at Durmstrang?” Harry squinted at the double amount of food compared to Tom’s usual portions. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you eat two large combo meals in one sitting before.”

“I’m a growing boy,” Tom deadpanned, unwrapping his first burger. “Also, I’m staying in the Durmstrang summer dorm, remember? We fend for ourselves, food wise. And the part-vampire from two doors down had the gall to leave a bloodpack in the communal chilled pantry, and guess what exploded all over everyone’s food last night?”

“Oh, ew. Can’t you just buy yourself a mini-fridge?” Harry’s nose wrinkled at the thought of unknown blood all over his food. “Or chilled pantry, whatever. God, European wizards need to get on Japan’s level and get electronics working with magic. I miss my Nintendo Switch sometimes.”

“Those won’t even exist for another two decades at the very least, sweetie.”

“Bah, humbug. I know you miss your smartphone too, darling. ” Harry shoved some fries in his mouth. “I wish fourth year would come sooner. It’s so boring right now.”

“Bellatrix wandering out and about not exciting enough for you?” Tom sipped his drink. Pumpkin juice is all nice and well, but there’s nothing quite like the muggles’ carbonated drinks. “Not to say I don’t share the sentiment. There’s only so long I can terrorize my school before it gets a little stale.”

“Eh, she’ll show up at Hogwarts, I reckon. Or get herself captured. She’s a capable witch powerwise, but not exactly the brightest tool in the shed after all that quality time with the dementors.” Harry shrugged. “Besides, we’ve been waiting so long! The Tri-Wizard tournament is what we’ve prepared for all these years!”

“You just can’t wait to marry me again, huh?” Tom smirked and Harry maturely stuck a tongue out at him. “And the courtship is the first step to it.”

“Please, I know you like that sort of thing,” he sniffed. “I remember you during life sixty-three, you were completely mad.”

Tom actually laughs, “You didn’t like the singing butterflies?”

Harry snorts, and smiles fondly at Tom. “I loved the singing butterflies. The dancing pandas, on the other hand…”

“Singing butterflies? Dancing pandas?”

Harry and Tom jumped and turned at their seats to face a completely baffled Hermione.

“Hermione?” Harry actually squeaked. “What are you doing here?”

“Harry? I was walking to a bookstore and saw you in here from the window and...” Hermione blinked, wide eyed, from him to Tom . “And.. who…?”

Tom recovered his composure quickly, and gave her a smile that was borderline a grimace. “Marvolo Thomas Gaunt, nice to meet you.”

“Hermione Granger, nice to meet you, too.” Her surprise was slowly fading from her face, increasingly being replaced by a sharp eyed squint. “Harry’s never mentioned you before. How old are you? You don’t seem to be our age.”

Harry, very much acquainted to the nuances of Hermione Granger, sputtered. “Hermione! It’s not like that!”

“It’s not like what?” Tom asked, a bit amused.

“It’s not like what, Harry?” Hermione frowned at her friend, “It definitely did look like that just a few minutes before. Honestly, Harry, I don’t mind if you’re gay, but there’s a term called jailbait , and-”

Tom coughed to cover up a laugh as Harry started to get mortified. “I assure you, Miss Granger, that despite how I present myself, that I’m only fifteen going on sixteen.”

“Oh,” Hermione faltered. “You just, you look older. Not in a physical way, but, like, the air around you. No offense.”

“None taken,” Tom waved a hand. “People have said I act and look more mature than my age dictates.”

“He’s also one of our kind, Hermione.” Harry informed her, and her eyes lit up as he expected. “He goes to another school, though.”

“Really? I haven’t heard much about the other schools! There’s a surprising lack of information about them in the Hogwarts library but there’s enough mentions to know they exist. Which one are you from? Ilvermorny? Beauxbatons?”

“Durmstrang, actually.”

Hermione let out a delighted gasp. “Durmstrang! Oh, that’s wonderful! Is it true the campus is in Siberia?”

They end up spending the day together, all three of them. Tom’s the only person Harry knew that could keep up with Hermione’s library of knowledge and it showed with how they debated about a variety of subjects without missing a beat. They accompanied her to the muggle bookstore and they all left with at least two or three books a piece, even Harry, who had no intention of even looking at anything.

After they parted ways with Hermione, and just before it was time for Tom to head back, Harry gazed at him thoughtfully and hummed.

“Don’t you ever think sometimes about how much we’ve changed?” Harry asked him. “If in my first life someone told me that Tom Riddle and Hermione Granger would get along, I would’ve laughed at their face then hexed them to oblivion.”

“A continuous cycle of death and reincarnation puts things in perspective,” Tom said simply. “I’ve learned long ago that while there are muggles who are vile and don’t deserve to live, the same could be said about the magical kind. They’re the exception, not the rule, and realizing that was… well, you know how it is. It helped that I’ve experienced both good and bad childhoods, but more importantly that I experienced it with someone. Had I not have had you with me, I would’ve gone mad lifetimes ago, for all my grand delusions of immortality as Lord Voldemort.”

“You warm my heart, darling,” Harry teased, but they both knew he was touched. “You’re right though. It’s been an experience. And I sort of wonder if this is the last one, considering we’ve gone full circle. I won’t say that I wouldn’t be relieved if it was, but at the same time, a part of me hopes it isn’t.” Harry sighed wistfully. “It’s been nice, you know?”

They walk in silence for a while, before their hands thread together and Tom says, “I know.”