Description: ¡°Harry Potter,¡± comes the soft, sibilant hiss of a voice he has heard in his dreams, in his nightmares, in his waking hours for years.
Characters: No Archive Warnings ApplyHarry Potter/Tom Riddle Harry Potter/Tom Riddle | Voldemort Harry Potter/VoldemortHarry Potter Tom Riddle | Voldemort Sirius Black Albus Dumbledore Kreacher (Harry Potter) Hermione Granger Ron Weasley Dobby (Harry Potter) Bill Weasley Severus Snape Remus LupinSlow Burn Book 5: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Alternate Universe – Canon Divergence Sirius Black Lives Albus Dumbledore Lives Road Trips Kinda Abused Harry Potter Other Additional Tags to Be Added Magically Powerful Harry Potter Horcrux Hunting Enemies to Friends to Lovers Enemies to Lovers
¡°Harry Potter,¡± comes the soft, sibilant hiss of a voice he has heard in his dreams, in his nightmares, in his waking hours for years.??Slowly, carefully, Harry twists over and pushes up onto his hands and knees.? He stays there, short breath fogging in front of his face, and his pursuer lets him.? Harry has no doubt of that; he¡¯s being allowed this respite. This small moment to catch his bearings, heart pounding in his ears, blood singing.?¡°It seems I have finally caught you.¡±
What was originally supposed to be a fun romp of catch-me-if-you-can, cat and mouse style type of story, has unfortunately turned into a monster. I’ve decided to post the first chapter anyways. Hopefully I’ll power through this story the same way I powered through “love is touching souls” and it’ll be finished within the week. Who knows if that will actually happen. I certainly don’t. Title comes from Song of Solomon.
The flash of spellfire burns past Harry as he runs, red and vicious and singing in the air.??
The peat and dirt and dead leaves are wet from the constant rain.? It makes keeping his footing more difficult. Makes dodging a slippery kind of hassle.? He grunts as he goes sliding around the trunk of a tree, vaulting quickly over the fallen mess of another as another spell is hissed and cast and tossed at his back.??
Clothes soaked, hair in his face, Harry Potter runs.? There¡¯s mud on his shoes and his jeans and he thinks maybe his face; he longs for a warm shower as the cold seeps into his bones despite the burn of his legs and his lungs.? He just has to go a little faster, for a little longer. Just has to get through to the clearing he sees ahead of him.??
It¡¯s instinct and the reflexes of years– a childhood, an adulthood– that keep him from going over the sheer drop on the other side of the treeline.? A cliff face. A
Harry slides.? Drops onto his back and claws at the wet earth to slow his momentum.? Feels the debris of the forest seep into the folds of his clothes. Feels a rock slice across his palm as he clutches it and comes to a stop with his feet hanging over the edge into nothing.??
There is a
of apparition behind him.??
Harry grunts and drops his head back.? Unaware– or perhaps uncaring– of the mud and muck that clumps into the mess of his hair.??
comes the soft, sibilant hiss of a voice he has heard in his dreams, in his nightmares, in his waking hours for years.??
Slowly, carefully, Harry twists over and pushes up onto his hands and knees.? He stays there, short breath fogging in front of his face, and his pursuer lets him.? Harry has no doubt of that; he¡¯s being allowed this respite. This small moment to catch his bearings, heart pounding in his ears, blood
¡°It seems I have finally caught you.¡±?
Harry barks out a laugh, head tilting and twisting to stare at the man standing at the edge of the forest.??
He looks untouched by the elements, but Harry knows better.? Can see the small tells– the open robe, black as pitch; the muddy boots; the faint flush of his cheeks, his ears, his knuckles as he clutches the bleached white wand at his side.? Voldemort stares him down with red eyes, hardly out of breath, and still looking completely winded from the chase.?
As Harry rocks back, sitting on his heels with his hands on his knees, he offers a smile that holds no kindness.? Voldemort¡¯s grip on his wand grows impossibly tighter.?
But Harry is already clicking his tongue.??
¡°Sorry, Tom,¡± he says.? ¡°Better luck next time.¡±?
And then he pushes himself off the edge of the cliff.?
When Harry was very young, he learned very quickly how to run fast.??
You have to learn fast when there is no one to hold your hand and teach you the ways of the world.? When it is just you, in your too large hand-me-downs, with a bruised face, and a pack of bullies at your back.? When it is just you, curled up in a cot at night, alone, under some stairs.??
Harry learned very fast, very young.?
So, when the time came, and he looked Lord Voldemort in the eye, a crystal ball glowing in his hand, he knew what to do.?
It is not the night that his parents died that this begins.? It is not in a basement, surrounded by fire, a stone burning in his pocket.? It is not in a chamber, with a girl and a diary and a snake. It is not even in a graveyard, a friend not long dead beside him.??
It is in a Headmaster¡¯s office, with sweat cooling on his skin, with his shouted plea still ringing around the room as Albus Dumbledore refuses to meet his eyes.? It is with a splitting headache and a rolling fear that he just saw someone die– that he¡¯d
— and it is with a hate so profound that it almost wrecks him.
¡°Tell me what¡¯s happening to me,¡± Harry says, again, breathless and trembling.? ¡°I can¡¯t– I don¡¯t want to
And that– that small admittance– seems to give the Headmaster pause.? The door opens, somewhere behind Harry, but Dumbledore holds up his hand to still whoever is there.? To stop them.??
Then, with a great amount of care, Dumbledore sits and sets his hands on top of his desk, tilts his head down, and peers at Harry over the edge of his glasses.? Meets his eyes. Holds his stare.?
¡°My boy,¡± he says.? ¡°Whatever do you mean?¡±?
? That¡¯s what the Dursleys always said he was.?
That boy is nothing but trouble.?
Harry hadn¡¯t wanted to believe them.? Hadn¡¯t thought he did anything particularly troublesome, not most of the time, but somehow he always ended up in the cupboard anyways.?
The trouble seemed to follow him, though, to Hogwarts.? He remembers
trouble, and even one memorable moment in first year when Snape looked down his nose at him and
Perhaps, Harry thinks, he is trouble.??
Perhaps, he thinks, that¡¯s why it always seems to find him.?
Dumbledore is no longer sitting.? He¡¯s in front of his desk, his hands folded in front of himself, staring down at Harry with a pensive expression.? Wrinkles making the folds of his worried face stand out all the more.??
Harry is still shaking.? He¡¯s not cold anymore, not with the blanket over his shoulders that Dumbledore summoned for him.? Not with the half empty cup of tea cradled in his hands. But still he trembles, his eyes burn, and he does not understand this
in his chest.? It is not his. He doesn¡¯t want it.?
¡°Tell me again, Harry, what it is that troubles you,¡± Dumbledore says, soft and coaxing, and Harry wets his lips.?
¡°I– I don¡¯t know how to explain it, sir.¡± Harry says.? ¡°I just– I just hate
I hate– I hate
And that, perhaps, is the most worrisome.? Because, while Harry has always felt
it has never been so truly and painfully
?It has settled, unsettlingly, behind his back molars.? It creeps in him like something black, like something alive, and waiting to consume him.?
Dumbledore stares at him some more, a hand coming up to stroke at his long beard, and Harry watches the movement in a daze.? ¡°And do you normally hate yourself, Harry?¡±?
Harry wants to say no.? He has the lie, right on the tip of his tongue, but he can¡¯t quite manage to spit it out.? His chest aches.
Instead, he lowers his eyes, shrugs, and says: ¡°Not like this.¡±?
Dumbledore makes a sound.? It¡¯s a terrible, sad thing, and it makes Harry look up into the face of his professor to see something so profoundly
That too makes him ache.?
¡°My boy,¡± Dumbledore breathes, and he crouches before him, hands settling over where Harry¡¯s are clutching the teacup in his lap before he can even protest.? ¡°I am so very sorry.¡±?
His eyes are burning again, and Harry tries valiantly to blink it away.? ¡°It¡¯s not your fault, sir.¡±?
¡°No, not entirely,¡± Dumbledore nods.? ¡°But the blame is on my old shoulders either way.¡±
Harry opens his mouth, to deny it, and Dumbledore holds up a hand.?
¡°Hush, now, Harry.? And listen.¡±?
So Harry does.?
It does not take much to create hate.? A bit of negligence here. A sprinkle of pain there.? Fear.
Just a bit, just enough, and the heart turns cold.??
¡°Years ago, there was a young man a lot like you who walked these halls.? A lot like you in many ways.¡±
Dumbledore is still kneeling.? Still holding Harry¡¯s hands.??
Harry shifts.? ¡°I think I¡¯ve heard this one, professor.¡±?
Dumbledore smiles.? ¡°Yes, I suppose you have, haven¡¯t you?? Tom Riddle was a brilliant young man. His potential was boundless.? Infinite. He could have done great things. He
done great things.¡±?
After all, He Who Must Not Be Named did great things– terrible, yes, but great.?
It¡¯s been years, but Ollivander¡¯s words still ring true in Harry Potter¡¯s head.? Terrible but great.?
¡°While I do not wish to bore you with a story you¡¯ve heard before, Harry, I do think it is important that I¡ confess something to you.¡± Dumbledore continues, and Harry blinks down at him and nods and is rewarded with a kind smile.? ¡°You see, Harry, Tom Riddle was so very much like you– strong, driven, brilliant–¡±?
Harry snorts at this, and feels chided when Dumbledore¡¯s face pinches with something like guilt.
¡°You are brilliant, Harry.? Perhaps not like your friend, Ms. Granger, but brilliant in all that matters– courage, kindness, and an impossible, wonderful, profound ability to
?Dumbledore says it, as if it is some kind of truth, and Harry– Harry wants to believe it.? ¡°But, it appears, very much like Tom, you also have a great deal of pain within you.¡±?
¡°You say that like Voldemort still feels this way.? That he feels
that he feels this–¡± Harry¡¯s voice breaks as he realizes how close he was to shouting, and he wets his lips and closes his eyes.? ¡°That he feels this
¡°Oh, Harry,¡± Dumbledore sighs, and long fingers brush aside the mess of his bangs, fingertips barely touching the swollen, red numbness of his scar.? ¡°Where do you think all of this self-hatred comes from?¡±?
A boy in a cupboard.? A boy in an attic. Both unwanted.? Unloved.??
Harry sits and listens.? Sits and drinks his tea and listens.? Listens as Dumbledore tells him of the orphanage Tom Riddle was found in and sent back to, over and over.? Listens as Dumbledore tells him of the way he was belittled, singled out, isolated from his peers because of his blood, his intellect, his
Listens as Dumbledore tells him how a boy without friendship, without
grew into a man without.??
¡°After all,¡± Dumbledore says, clutching at one of Harry¡¯s hands.? ¡°Who could love the monster that could not love himself?¡±?
Harry squeezes his eyes shut.?
¡°I am so very sorry, my boy.? That I did not see it all sooner.¡±?
Harry¡¯s voice breaks as he sobs.??
Shatters into tiny pieces as he curls over on himself, empty teacup forgotten for the ground, tears hot and unrelenting down his face as Dumbledore takes him into his old arms and holds him close.? Cradles him there, on the floor of his office, until Harry can cry no more.?
¡°Why–¡± Harry¡¯s breath hitches.? ¡°Why are you telling me this?¡±?
Dumbledore sighs, and Harry feels it move his hair; he clutches at the purple of Dumbledore predictably garrish robes.? ¡°Because, Harry, one of the biggest regrets in my life is not reaching out. Not helping that boy when he needed it most.? And I will not repeat that mistake twice.¡±?
¡°What do I do?¡± Harry asks, voice trembling with something a lot like fear.? ¡°How do I¡ What can I
¡°Well,¡± Dumbledore pats his shoulder.? ¡°I believe some chocolate should suffice, for now.? And perhaps a good night¡¯s rest.¡±?
Helplessly, happily, Harry laughs.?
Fear is so hard to overcome when one is alone.? It is a little easier, however, with someone to hold your hand.?
Cleaned up and drained, Harry sits across from Dumbledore.? There are chocolate wrappers all over. Harry thinks Remus would get a real kick out of this.?
Dumbledore seems to be giving Harry time to think.? To process. He is not stuck here, he knows, and thinks perhaps he should take pity on his old professor and allow them both some sleep.??
But he is on the precipice of something.? He can taste it. Can feel it in the air.
¡°What can I do?¡± Harry finally asks again, in the hush between them, the only other sounds a clock chiming somewhere and Fawks preening on his stand.? ¡°How can I¡¡±?
He almost says
?He very nearly says
fix this.? Fix him.?
Dumbledore smiles at him from behind his desk, like he already knows, and Harry thinks that he probably does.?
¡°Once again, your ability to forgive astounds me, Harry.¡± Dumbledore says.? ¡°Though, I do not believe this can be fixed.¡±?
¡°I have to try,¡± Harry says.? ¡°No one–
like that.? It¡¯s not– It¡¯s not
feeling like that.¡±?
¡°No.? No, I suppose it isn¡¯t.? And you would help him?¡± Dumbledore tilts his head, peering at him over his glasses again.? ¡°This is not a boy anymore, Harry. And he has done terrible things.¡±?
¡°He killed my parents,¡± Harry says.? ¡°He killed Cedric. I know what he¡¯s done.¡±?
¡°Yes,¡± Dumbledore nods, breathing out long, and stroking over his beard.? ¡°And you would still help him?¡±?
¡°I would try.¡±?
Dumbledore¡¯s eyes take on that eery, wondrous twinkle as he peers over at him; his mouth twitches into a crooked smile.? ¡°Yes. I suppose you would. And, I dare say, you might even be stubborn enough to succeed where I have failed.¡±?
Harry barks out a little laugh.? Dumbledore¡¯s smile broadens a bit.??
¡°So,¡± Harry breathes out, careful and slow, steeling himself.? ¡°What can I do?¡±?
Dumbledore stares at him for a little while longer.? On his desk, there is a chess board unlike Harry has ever seen– layered; with pieces, gleaming and polished, on each level.? Dumbledore waves his hand, and Harry sees the pieces begin to move.??
Then, Dumbledore leans forward.?
¡°Tell me, my boy,¡± Dumbledore says.? ¡°Have you ever heard of a horcrux?¡±?
There is no good.? There is no evil.? Only power.??