“Tea?” Remus very calmly, too calmly , offered to Tom. The werewolf smiled. “Do you like sugar or cream with it?”
“Sugar, please. Just two.” Tom stiffly replied and didn’t take his eyes off the cup Lupin was preparing for him. Either they used a different, less sweeter kind of sugar cubes or Lupin purposely put six in instead. “I’m not about to get poisoned, am I?” He muttered to Harry, who sat beside him around the kitchen table. Remus and Sirius sat across them, unabashedly staring at the two.
(So maybe Tom was a little wary. But he very distinctly remembered the last time Harry’s parent-figure caught the two of them in bed, and it ended with him being chased out of the house. Half-naked. In January. With a very angry father with a shotgun on his tail.)
“Don’t be stupid, they haven’t had time to brew one.” Harry whispered back and snorted when Tom grimaced at the too sweet tea.
“So,” Sirius cheerfully started, “Harry. Now, I know you’re a teenager now and Merlin knows the kind of company I kept during my younger years,” at this Remus coughed, “but wouldn’t it have been more polite if you told us you had a friend over?”
“You snuck around with girls and boys all the time when you were a teenager,” Harry rebutted, “you bragged to me about it. Hypocrite.”
“Which is why I’m the best person to tell you off about having strange boys in your bed,” Sirius easily said. Remus rolled his eyes.
“It wasn’t like that!” Harry insisted. “It was just cuddling . We had clothes on.” Tom, wisely, didn’t add anything and just braved through his cup of tea. Because that’s what you do when you have the werewolf who prepared it staring you down.
“I believe we haven’t caught your name,” Remus pleasantly said to Tom, who carefully met his eyes. “And how you know Harry. I had thought we’d met all his friends.”
“My name is Marvolo Gaunt,” Tom stiffly replied. “I attend Durmstrang, and Harry and I have known each other since before he started Hogwarts.”
“ Gaunt ,” Sirius grinned toothily. “That old family? I thought they inbred themselves into extinction decades ago. Which wasn’t the biggest loss in the world.”
Harry choked but Tom wasn’t one to cower or be offended. Even if he was getting a little ticked off. “No one knew my father was of their family. He himself didn’t know until before he died, just long enough to reinstate himself and name me heir. That was the story according to my late mother at least.”
“Durmstrang, you say? Interesting. Why not Hogwarts, considering you sound like a native Brit.” Sirius peered thoughtfully at him. “And it would’ve allowed you to be closer to Harry, and wouldn’t that have been nice, since you two are friends .”
“My mother thought it would be better for me to go to Durmstrang,” Tom’s smile was strained, “I wasn’t about to go against her wishes. I was a bit of a mother’s boy, you see.”
‘Mother’s boy ,’ Harry mouthed disbelievingly at Tom. Harry knew very well Tom’s feelings towards Merope, and even lifetimes still haven’t eased the bitterness or contempt towards some of her life decisions.
“You’re a pureblood then, I presume?” Sirius casually asked as he started twirling his wand with his fingers. Harry twitched.
“Not quite. My father was a halfblood. He had a muggle father.”
“Oh?” Sirius hummed. “What was your father’s name? Perhaps he attended Hogwarts the same time as we did, we might know him.”
Harry tried to remember if Voldemort’s real name was common knowledge between the Order of the Phoenix or if it was one of those things Dumbledore kept close to his chest. He didn’t think Sirius and Remus were familiar with the name Tom Riddle, but considering how things have changed in this lifetime, Harry couldn’t be too certain.
“I highly doubt it, unless you’re actually over sixty years old.” Tom dryly replied, and god, that tone was bordering on disrespect if Sirius actually cared about pureblood niceties. “He had me rather late in his life.”
“Fair enough,” Sirius shrugged. “I don’t really care that much, anyways, since I know very well from experience lineages sometimes mean jack shit. I mean, my mother had always been a downright bit-”
“What we’re more concerned about,” Remus firmly interrupted, “is the nature of your’s and Harry’s relationship. You’re what? Fifteen or sixteen? Harry is thirteen and while the age gap is only three years, we cannot in good conscience allow a too intimate of a relationship before he’s fourteen at the least.”
“Remus, it’s too soon to have this- this courting talk!” Sirius whined. “Harry’s not allowed to get married until he’s thirty!”
“Oh my god,” Harry groaned into his hands.
“Harry and I are very much in love,” Tom, the absolute asshole, said very seriously. “But I can assure you that his purity is very much safe until we entangle ourselves in the bonds of holy matrimony.”
There was an incredulous pause.
“You goddamn troll!” Harry screeched as something in Sirius snapped and the ex-convict leapt across the table and lunged for Tom’s neck. Remus, with his very impressive reflexes, managed to get the teapot and cups out of harm’s way, only reprimanding Sirius to “ Watch the fine china! That was my mother’s! ”
How in Merlin’s name did Harry end up the straight man in this situation?
“I still think you were an idiot,” Harry pointedly told Tom the moment he opened the door. He squinted at the older teenager’s presents. “Are those flowers for me?”
Tom sniffed imperiously, holding the bouquet closer to his chest. “Not anymore.” He stepped through the threshold of the house warily, and only when he wasn’t hexed within the next minute did he finally give Harry the bouquet of flowers. “But I guess I can’t keep them myself.”
“How sweet,” Harry rolled his eyes, “and knowing you, the flowers mean something. What is it this time?”
“Shouldn’t you know?” Tom smirked, “Didn’t you date a florist once?”
“Yeah, you .”
“It means love, purity, and innocence,” the teenage Dark Lord said with a straight face. “A very appropriate bouquet for my darling .”
“Sirius is going to kill you in your sleep.” Harry unsympathetically declared. Tom bared a vicious smile.
“He can try.” Tom then turned to Hermione, who was watching the exchange with wide eyes and raised eyebrows. “Merry Yule, Hermione.”
“You two are the most bewildering couple I have ever met,” Hermione said. “Merry, er, Yule, Marvolo. You were a florist?”
“A summer job,” Tom easily lied. “I got everyone presents. I promise none of them are particularly harmful. Except maybe your Longbottom friend’s.”
Harry squinted at Tom as he took some of the bagged presents from his hands. “Have you been cursed? Poisoned? Taken any questionable edibles? You’re being strangely nice and a decent human being.”
“I am of sound body and mind,” Tom said as they walk towards the sitting room where the rest of the party was gathered. “I wouldn’t drug myself to make this gathering easier on me, Harry dear.”
“Ah, Marvolo!” Sirius, coming out of nowhere and wearing an obnoxiously red santa hat, cheerfully greeted. “Nice of you to make it!” He clapped Tom’s back jovially, as if he hadn’t attempted to strangle the teen two days before.
“Thank you for having me,” Tom smiled politely, if a bit strained. Harry snorted and even Hermione looked a little knowing.
Yule was technically yesterday, but Harry had wanted a small gathering for he and his friends to exchange presents face to face for once. The Malfoy gala was always on the 24th, so the 26th was a good day for it. Harry and Sirius had been invited to the Malfoy’s as the current Head Black and heir, but considering the events of the morning, they weren’t able to make it. (Harry knew Sirius didn’t consider it much of a loss, though it did disappoint his dear cousin Narcissa.)
Neville was the first of his friends to rise from his seat and greet Tom. “It’s nice to finally meet you, Gaunt.” Neville offered his hand, which Tom shook politely. “We’ve heard about you from Harry and Hermione often.”
“A pleasure, Longbottom. And please, call me Marvolo.”
“Then call me Neville.”
Ron didn’t look too pleased at his presence, considering Hermione looked very eager to talk academics with Tom, but wasn’t too rude about it. Draco, of course, assessed the new arrival, found him adequate despite his association with the disgraced Gaunt family, and properly shared introductions. Then of course there was Luna.
“You two do make a striking couple,” the blond girl beamed, oblivious to Sirius sharply honing in on those words, “When’s the wedding?”
Sirius sputtered, “ Never !” while Harry gently patted Luna’s head and Tom’s lips quirked into a smirk.
“He still needs to court me properly,” Harry explained to the Ravenclaw. Tom rolled his eyes, an eyebrow raised at the bouquet still in Harry’s hand. “The wizard way.” They ignored Sirius wailing in the kitchen, telling Remus to “ Make them stop talking about young love! Remus! They’re not listening to me! ”
“Huh,” Neville blinked at them, while Draco and Ron also looked quite surprised. Hermione, on the other hand, grinned knowingly. “I thought Sirius was just overreacting.”
“Did he really catch you two in bed?” Draco whispered scandalously. Everyone knew he had inherited his mother’s love for gossip. “How improper , Harry.” He gleefully admonished.
“Wait,” Ron squeaked, “you’re dating ?!”
“Wow,” Tom remarked. “You were right. Your friends are actually more amusing than Viktor and the other Durmstrang students.”
After a hearty lunch prepared by Remus and Harry, they went back to the sitting room to exchange presents.
Harry gratefully accepted all his friends’ presents. Ron had given him some homemade treats and a handknit Weasley sweater, made lovingly by his mother. Draco and the Malfoys had given him quite a nice pair of matching winter cloak and gloves. Hermione got him a classy leather journal, his name embossed on the corner of the back cover (Harry and Tom shared a private moment of amusement, as it matched Tom’s own boyhood journal). Luna, of course, then gave he and Tom actual matching handcrafted necklaces.
Neville presented him with some plant-based potions materials in vials, no doubt from the boy’s greenhouse. Additionally, he shyly gave Harry, Sirius, and Remus a shared present - an old framed picture of Frank, Alice, James, and Lily. He admitted he had found it when looking back at old photo albums of his parents over the summer. Lily and Alice were both visibly and joyously pregnant in the picture, and Harry wasn’t ashamed to admit that the image filled him with a feeling of sadness and regret. Sirius and Remus looked quite teary eyed as well, and the three of them overwhelmed Neville with a group hug.
Sirius and Remus had given him a new broom, the Firebolt, to Harry’s nostalgia. In return, Harry, the joker that he was, gave them a His and His set of collars and handcuffs for a specific kind of play. Sirius’s wail of “ You’re thirteen! ” and Remus looking up at an imaginary god with such a red face was worth it.
Harry gleefully gave all his friends, bar Tom, matching wand holsters. Very high quality ones, near indestructible, and charmed to the very thread. And also in absolutely ridiculous colors that they simply could not glamour differently or change, so “ Yes, Draco, you will have to deal with the neon green despite it clashing with everything you own. ”
“It feels rather Power Rangers, doesn’t it,” Hermione muttered as she inspected her hot pink holster. From beside her, Ron didn’t know what Power Rangers was, but he did know that neon orange didn’t look any better with his red hair. Neville, thankfully, had the least offensive bright scarlet, though Luna was delighted over her eyesore of a neon yellow one.
Tom eyed his gift from Harry warily. “I do hope mine is different.”
Harry scoffed, “You’re just jealous I didn’t get you a holster as well.”
“Not if it’s in the same color spectrum as theirs are,” Tom dryly said as he opened the gift. Then squinted when the box revealed another wrapped box. “You’re kidding me.”
Five boxes later, which had everyone very amused, Tom revealed an envelope with a giftcard to McDonald’s. Sirius, Remus, and even Hermione (the three who knew what the yellow M meant in the first place) barked a laugh or giggled. The other three wizard boys were simply confused and Luna had started stacking the boxes into a tower two minutes earlier, but still saw some humor at the gift.
“You’re a terrible imp,” Tom grumbled, but kept the giftcard anyway. “I shouldn’t give you your present at all.”
And despite Harry making “gimme” motions the entire time, Tom, to the surprise and delight of everyone else, gave them all even just a little something.
“Oh my god,” Neville, the first one to open his, whispered in awe. His eyes had that gleam that it took when he got particularly passionate about Herbology, which was both terrifying and endearing. “This plant is illegal in thirty-two European countries.”
Everyone looked up from their own gifts in bewilderment.
“Not in the United Kingdom.” Tom breezily said. “I checked all the laws to make sure. Perfectly legal to own a Nightmare Cobra Vine, and no laws against breeding it.”
“Isn’t that poisonous?” Draco apprehensively eyed the plant, which was safely enclosed in a bubble charm, but still. He scooted a few inches away from Neville.
“And carnivorous,” Neville grinned, and maybe Harry had rubbed off on Neville a bit. Or possibly encouraged some aspects of his personality. (Or possibly it was the years of friendship with him that hit the final nail on the coffin of Neville’s sanity towards plants.) “I’m going to need a new greenhouse. And lots of mice. Thank you, Marvolo. Marry me if Harry doesn’t.”
None of the other presents were as exciting or exotic as Neville’s, though they were still very much pleasantly surprised. Combined with the revelation that Marvolo had no romantic interest in Hermione, and the exclusive autographed picture of Viktor Krum, who had rapidly grown in popularity in the Quidditch scene after his professional debut this past summer, well, Ron’s attitude towards Marvolo had greatly improved. Draco was also impressed with the two potion’s books he had gotten, both of which were not available for purchase anywhere in Britain. Hermione got a rather simple yet very well made box case for personal items such as jewelry and the like. Luna, too, received a book, though in her case it was a second edition publication of Newt Scamander’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Even Remus and Sirius were grateful for their gifts, Remus’s being a box of magical Swiss chocolate truffles that boasted being one of the best, and Sirius’s being a bottle of quality whiskey, which Harry had told him his godfather preferred.
Then there was Tom’s gift to Harry.
Harry poked the wrapped box. It had some weight on it, but not a lot considering the size of it. “I hope it’s Hufflepuff’s Cup,” he joked and was about to begin unwrapping it when he caught the carefully straight face Tom was making.
“You didn’t,” He accused, and when Tom tilted his head to look away, he kicked him on the shin. The last time Harry’d seen the Cup was at their little cottage with all the other former Horcruxes. “You didn’t!”
“How could it be Hufflepuff’s Cup?” Remus asked, baffled. “It’s been lost for decades!”
Harry opened the box and revealed that it was, in fact, Hufflepuff’s Cup.
“I found it in the family vault,” Tom said blandly, the liar that he was, “gathering dust. I thought, well, might as well give it to the one Hufflepuff I know.”
Everyone stared at him, and then at the cup.
“I’m bringing it to dinner the first night we’re back,” Harry’s eyes gleamed. “It’s going to be like Ravenclaw’s Diadem again. People are going to lose their shit. Zacharias Smith is going to lose his shit. It’ll be great.” Tom, fully expecting that to be the outcome, didn’t even blink.
“Well,” Draco started, “what’s next after that then, Harry? Slytherin’s Locket?”
“Maybe for his birthday,” Tom replied. “Or an engagement gift.”
Sirius, in a move befitting of an adult, threw one of the empty gift boxes straight at Tom’s face.