47 Days to Change (a translation)
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Harry Potter/Tom Riddle, Harry Potter/Voldemort
Harry Potter and Tom Riddle are enemies, born adversaries, prophesied leaders of opposite factions.
2001 to 1932, forty-seven days to change the fate of the Dark Lord.
This is a 'Harry travels back in time to raise Tom' story. An unfortunate tale of one man's failed attempt to mold young Tom into a decent, law-abiding citizen. Instead, as Fate will have it, young Tom grows up to become the same twisted psychopath, who is hell-bent on winning the love of his adoptive father. Harry's consent be damned.
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NOTE: This is a translation of a Chinese HP Fanfiction by 墨玉绿
BETA: the brilliant and awesome AzulticSerpens
Two years had passed in a blink of an eye. Fate sped up the dial of time. It grinned silently as, everywhere, destinies were being fulfilled according to its plans, without the knowledge of the busy folks of the wizarding world. They were blissfully ignorant, only after a long day of work, occasionally lamenting to themselves that 'time sure flies!'
But for the muggles, the last two years had been hell. War raged on and on; their lives and cities had been blown apart.
August sun glared down on London with a stifling heat. Under its obscenely cheerful light, this ancient city only seemed more desolate, tragic, riddled with bomb craters and crumbled houses — this was purgatory on earth.
At the East End of London, a tall and handsome youth strode down a dirty road. Jet-black hair, pale skin, and expensive waistcoat, he seemed thoroughly out of place in the slums.
The fourteen-year-old had long since grown out of his childish features. His neck was long and elegant, his dark eyes narrow and sharp, his face as exquisite as the most perfect marble statue. He carried an air that made all the famous muggle celebrities seem shallow and inferior in comparison.
From time to time, orphans in rags would approach him, begging for scraps or kindness. For amidst the poverty and devastation of war, the boy's elegance and cleanliness stuck out like a sore thumb.
The youth just walked on, utterly indifferent to their plights.
In one street corner, there was a little girl coughing out blood, one of her legs twisted in an awkward angle. Next to her, a little boy was digging through a trash can; he pulled out a piece of leather and chewed on it desperately, even though it was too tough to swallow. A woman was wailing inside the ruins of a destroyed house, cuddling a dead baby in her arms, her voice hoarse and ear-splitting.
Yet Tom just went on his way, as if he was oblivious to all their suffering.
Who was to blame for his apathy?... Nature, nurture, or the muggles from Tom's own past who had ignored his cries for help?
Tom sneered as he passed through the dirty streets. The scenery in front of him seemed awfully familiar, like the scene from two years ago when Harry lay dying in his arms. He would never forget the faces of the muggles who ran past them— their empty, fearful, apathetic eyes sweeping pass the fallen boy and man, blind to Tom's desperate pleas. He would never forget the feeling of hot blood seeping through his fingers as he begged the bystanders for help, yet none of them had even slowed or spared them another glance.
Tom halted as he surveyed the ruined muggle street around him. Suddenly, he smiled, savouring the sweet taste of vengeance on his lips.
Help muggles?... Hmph... Hidden on the outskirts of London, there was a desolate beach near a dark, jagged cave, where no amount of sunlight could reach into its grim, chilling, cavernous depths.
Tom narrowed his eyes and stepped into the cave. He, however, quite enjoyed its dark, damp air.
A large body of black water was found at the end of the tunnel. As Tom knelt next to the deathly calm waters, something icy-cold slithered up his arm.
"Tom! How could you leave me for ssssso long!" It whined loudly.
The serpent, which had been ordered by Tom to stay behind and guard the cave, had grown quite large in his absence. Its scaled body, once only the size of a grown-man's thumb, was now as thick as a child's arm.
The snake was very excited to see her master again after a whole year. She wrapped herself around his neck snugly, hissing into his ears, "Tom! Tom! I found myself a name— Nagini! Do you like it?"
Tom patted her triangular head. "Calm down, Nagini."
The large snake quite liked the sound of its new name coming from the boy's lips. She swished her tail around like a satisfied house cat, then settled down.
Tom turned his attention toward the deceptively still water, "How was that mission I gave you?"
Nagini flicked her tail and pushed a pebble into the dark waters. It splashed loudly, and the resulting ripples disrupted the calm, mirror-like surface, revealing the danger lurking just beneath, as endless, ghastly white limbs could be glimpsed through the dark waves. The whole reservoir was filling up with Tom's undead army.
Tom stood on the banks, observing these greyish white creatures of the sea with mild fascination. His dark eyes glinted with a terrifying glee.
Although no light could penetrate the inside of the cave, the boy could see just fine. He basked in the presence of his Inferi army, dark eyes savouring their pale, decayed bodies like displays of priceless artwork.
Finally, he seemed satisfied and rewarded his pet with a smile. Even in the dim lights, he recognized the half-eroded uniforms still clinging onto their undead bodies— metal badges in the shape of a spread-winged eagle, black-and-white ranking strips, and narrow-flank crosses; these were the proud emblems of the German Air Force.
"Tom! Can Nagini keep these?" With her tail, Nagini swept out a glinting pile of golden and silver pieces from underneath a quartz crystal; no doubt they once belonged to her victims. It seemed that, in her boredom, the serpent had racked up an extensive collection of medals and insignias.
Tom examined a few of the badges. Some were even from ranks as high as colonel or captain.
A beautiful smile curled on the boy's lips as he stroked her head in approval, nodding, "Impressive... Very, very nice."
Yes, his pet had done her task well. And... now he had a nice collection of athletic, strong German muggle soldiers under his command.
Very nice indeed.
"Ah! One more thing, Nagini—" Tom hissed softly, the inhuman sound dispersing through the dark cave like whispers of the wind. "Do you know anything of ...the Chamber of Secrets?"
"Nay...Never heard of it," Nagini tilted her head and thought hard, then shook her head again.
Tom nodded. His eyes narrowed, dark and brooding.By the time Tom returned to Godric's Hollow, it was night time and Harry had already returned from a long day of work at the Ministry.
"Tom, it's late. Where have you been?" The young man questioned sternly.
Tom stripped his shoes and looked up. Fringes of soft, black hair settled into his eyes in a casual but perfect style. "Ah, Abraxas invited me over... Sorry, Harry, I must've lost track of the time."
"Oh," Harry's eyes grew wide at the familiar name, but he quickly recovered. He grabbed an old newspaper and pretended to read it, hiding his worried expression behind its grey pages.
How many lies were in the boy's words? Harry needed to know. He wanted to trust him, but... he was also afraid to find out the truth. What if all the answers only pointed toward one irreversible path? What if, in the end, no matter what he did, time was still irreversible?
Time sure flew... And he was not prepared to face the future that followed.
Maybe Harry was over-thinking it again... but he thought he had sensed the tide of time turning against him as Fate plotted away in the shadows. Before Harry had formulated a plan, Tom had already grown up so fast— the boy was entering his fourth year — and Harry knew how this specific year was a turning point in Voldemort's life.
Fourteen was an interesting age for European males. It was a time when their hormones had transformed them from scrawny bean sprouts to strapping, confident young men. Their faces were maturing, and becoming well-defined, straddling a perfect balance between feminine beauty and masculine power. Fuzzy stubble grew on their chins, their voices deepened, their grins brimmed with charm and youthful energy.
And, out of all of his fellow year-mates, Tom was always the best. The boy had inherited his father's handsome features and tall stature, as well as his mother's noble bloodline and powerful magic. And, more impressively, the boy never let his privilege go to his head, as he had always acted courteous and polite to everyone.
Of course, Harry was armed with the knowledge of the future, so he knew the boy's kind actions were a sham. He had paid close attention to this boy, and to his future, enough to recognize the power and ambition concealed within those beautiful black eyes.
History was set in stone. And so...in his fourth year, Tom Riddle would begin researching horcruxes. In his fifth year, he would murder his only living relatives and create his first— but not his last— horcrux. In his sixth year, he would open the chamber of secrets, unleash the basilisk and murder an innocent classmate, then frame everything on Hagrid.
Looking ahead, his and Tom's future seemed rather hopeless...All tangled up in tragic, horrible darkness. The very inevitability of fate. Suddenly, Harry felt helpless in front of all the potential problems of the future, weighted down by responsibilities and the lives he must save.
He was overwhelmed. He needed some...help.
Harry did not want to act rashly. He did not want to disrupt the tentative bond that he shared with Tom. He couldn't bring himself to confront the boy— so he looked the other way. All he had accomplished was to lock himself in his study as he worked on plans for Dumbledore's Army, trying his best to be a good father who constantly worried about his child. Harry did everything he could to maintain a normal home. And at times, in those moments when Tom smiled up at him with bright eyes, Harry felt that everything was worth it.
Voldemort had always been a great actor. He could seduce people's hearts and minds so easily... especially when he wanted something from them. Like the serpent in the Garden of Eden, his charming smile fooled everyone around him— Professor Slughorn, who unwittingly told him about the Horcruxes; Helena Ravenclaw, who unwillingly gave him the diadem; and even Harry, who knew his true nature, could not refuse the boy's smiles.
"Tom, I'm going away for three months... after you have left for Hogwarts, of course." Harry set the newspaper down. His pinched his nose, feeling rather exhausted.
He couldn't continue on his own. He needed some advice.
He needed to talk to Hermione.
Tom's head jerked up. He met Harry's tired eyes. Suddenly, the boy's pupils constricted into thin lines like the hungry eyes of a snake, predatory and focused, folding the young man's image into their fathomless darkness.
From 1932 to 1941, nine years had passed, and yet Harry looked exactly the same as when Tom had first met him. The young man's skin was pale and smooth, as if time could leave no mark on his anatomy; his hair was lush, jet-black, and as messy as a bird's nest, as if it couldn't grow or grey in any way. Time seemed frozen on his body.
Tom smoothed out his expression carefully. He nodded and answered sweetly, "I see... Harry, have a safe trip."
Harry pursed his lips. He held the boy's respectful gaze for a moment, then lowered his eyes.Tom stayed as calm as he could until he retreated into the safety of his own room, away from Harry's eyes. Then his expression changed abruptly, baring his teeth like a snarling wolf cub.
"Nagini," Tom pulled up the leg of his pants to reveal the miniaturized snake wrapped around his ankle. "I need you to do something for me—"
He paused. "I need you to... look after Harry for me."
Yes, look after Harry... He needed her to monitor what Harry was doing, where Harry was going and why... Why did the man insist on leaving Tom behind? In all honesty, he just needed her to spy on Harry.
Tom's expression turned bitter and chilling.
There was too much he didn't know about Harry.
In the past nine years, the man's appearance never changed, at all. Even though wizards tended to live longer than muggles, they were not immortal. Although fine wrinkles had crawled onto Joan's face, Harry still looked exactly the same. If he was a muggle scientist, Tom might've theorized that this man experienced abnormally slow cell division. All in all, Harry was a mystery — from his wounds that healed so slowly; to his wand which had a carbon-copy; to this trip that he took every three years to God-knows-where; to his odd attitude toward Tom, sometimes affectionate and other times... wary.
Harry Potter... what a very suspicious man. September first. Platform 9 and 3/4.
"Tom..." Harry turned toward the boy who was now as tall as himself. He opened his mouth, but wasn't sure what to say.
What could he say?... He wanted to tell the boy to never seek out the Chamber of Secrets, to never read up on Horcruxes, to never indulge in Dark Arts, to never —ever — change his name from Tom Marvolo Riddle to... Lord Voldemort.
But he couldn't.
If he'd been a Christian, he would have prayed to God to keep his son on the righteous path. He would've press a kiss on the boy's forehead, whispering, "God bless you, my child."
But he was a wizard.
"Take care of yourself," that was all he said as Tom stepped onto the train. Harry's face pale and grim as he watched the red steam-engine train rumble away into the distance.Tom sat by himself in a compartment near the tail of the train. He peered out the window until he couldn't see Harry's rapidly shrinking form anymore.
Maybe... it was beneficial for his plans for Harry to be away on his trip. Tom contemplated as he rested his chin on his arms.
At least, now he had nothing to care for... nothing to fear. He could devote all his time to search for the Chamber of Secrets... and to dig up information on the Horcrux.
After all, in the past two years, he had grown so much. He had learned so much, including patience. Tom's eyes swirled darkly, and then he smiled.Fate clasped its hands in satisfaction. It observed the two men heading down opposite directions— one sitting contently on the Hogwarts Express, while the other walked home with heavy and troubled steps.
Perhaps the young saviour would still come up an air-tight plan; and perhaps he only had the best intentions in mind... yet the events, which he had worried about the most, were already set in motion.
His fate could be summed up in two words— too late.
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