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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September 10, 1942
Naturally, Slughorn's evening party was in his office.
Slughorn's office was not small, at least compared Dumbledore's office, because he had to entertain a great many students. He had a large dining table which could seat up to fifteen people with soft cushioned chairs.
The office door stood open but everyone invariably stood outside. No one wanted to make a bad impression in front of Professor Slughorn by going in without invitation.
Tom stood with the others near the office doorway, his face masked by the shadows, quietly taking in the other people who were invited to Slughorn’s little club.
There were students from every house but Slytherins accounted for more than half of the attendees.
"You’re up to something." Malfoy suddenly appeared beside him, uttering the words. He threw a vial of golden liquid, "It took a lot of effort to get this." The older boy sighed.
Tom looked down, uncorked the little bottle, and drank the contents. In doing so he hid the way his eyes were filled with contempt. A lot of effort? Considering the things hidden away in the Malfoy family property, let alone how wealthy they were, obtaining a vial would hardly be difficult. Moreover, thousands of years ago the Malfoys became vassals for Slytherin after the line fell. How much of what was rightfully Tom’s had been devoured by them in their greed? Anything they owned was his and one day he would get it all back.
Tom suddenly became aware of a problem with his plan and narrowed his eyes. His dark look was a terrible sight to behold. There were no other descendants of Slytherin, right?
As he was considering the matter, Felix Felicis began to set into action, and Tom’s thoughts were interrupted.
Felix Felicis brought a feeling of boldness, a self-confidence that Tom hated because he disliked any emotions beyond his control. But he could not resist the potion’s efficacy.
Felix Felicis started working almost immediately, just as that fat walrus Slughorn came smiling from the corridor around the corner.
"Sorry, I was just picking up the cake I ordered. My apologies for my tardiness."
"Have you heard the latest report about that new potion? The creator has decided to get a patent; he has a total monopoly of it!"
"I heard that the Ministry’s negotiations with the German side haven’t been very successful so far."
"They have a similar rule in Germany so why does the United Kingdom want to make a fuss?"
A wide variety of information passed over the table. The students acted like a network, the room an intelligence base as they gossiped about world events candidly.
Tom put his hand on the table, the dark wood contrasted perfectly against his skeletal hand, his fingers pale but powerful. While Felix Felicis was playing a role, it did not affect Tom’s estimated value of everyone around him.
One of the best ways to obtain information truly was through the school’s students. The Ravenclaw sitting opposite of him had a father working at the Potions Institute. The most proud sixth year Slytherin was the son of the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The girl wearing a headband had a brother who was currently studying in Germany. The information they could obtain covered much of the UK and Europe!
He didn’t even need to spend the time and effort to build an elaborate intelligence network of his own. As long as someone pretended to be even slightly attentive to them, those foolish young girls and boys would say everything they could, as they looked for the admiration and approval of their peers.
On the surface, Tom maintained an expression of absent-minded pondering but his sinister and cold eyes fell on those around him as he listened to their conversations. The viper, masquerading as an agent of light but truly a minion of darkness, in pursuit of expansion, greedily drained every drop of moisture from the hay.
"Tom, what are you thinking about?" Slughorn picked up a dish of fruit and held it out to him, "You should try the pineapple; it’s delicious."
Tom nodded in thanks and asked, “Professor, is it true that Professor Merrythought is considering retirement?”
Slughorn dropped the piece of fruit he had been about to eat. “How did you know about that?”
Tom smiled. The way that Felix Felicis superimposed on his own antagonistic emotions left him far more pleasant as a person. He knew about Merrythought’s retirement because he never shied away from a restricted area and had seen some of the half-written resignation letters in the man’s office. “I guessed, really. I have to admit, he hasn’t been my favorite teacher."
"Oh, well perhaps by next semester you’ll have professors that you like.”
"That would be nice." Pale knuckles tapped on the ebony table. The potion was making Tom very relaxed and confident, guiding him along a path he didn’t yet understand.
Tom watched the hourglass from the corner of his eye. The sand was falling faster now. He could hear the crisp sound of the sand hitting the glass. The party officially ended close to the start of curfew.
Students were slowly leaving but Tom had no plans to do so yet and lingered behind.
"Not leaving, yet, Tom?” Slughorn poured himself a glass of red wine, "If you’re caught out after curfew, don’t say I didn’t warn you."
Tom held his hands behind his back, his gaze downcast, presenting himself as a modest student. "I just have a few questions I’d like to ask you, Professor."
Slughorn paused a moment, just as he was bringing the glass to his mouth. Questions?
The conversation he’d had with Harry sprung to mind.
Slughorn’s green eyes narrowed, shrewdly.
"What do you wish to know about?” Slughorn slowly took a sip of his wine.
The teenager’s handsome face deliberately softened to look even more courteous and studious. “It’s about beauty potions.”
While he desperately wanted to know more about Harry’s secrets, Tom wanted more to know about Horcruxes. Everything else could wait. But Felix Felicis was driving him and he spit out one thing instead of the other as the potion pushed him along an ideal situation.
"Why would you need to know more about those?" Slughorn blinked in surprise. Was this what Harry wanted him to discourage Tom from?
With keen insight, the extraordinary boy immediately caught Slughorn's expression.
"I suspect that Harry has been using a beauty potion." Tom said.
Oh, no wonder the man wanted him to discourage Tom’s interest. Slughorn glanced at Tom. Most people tended to be secretive when it came to their attempts at preserving their looks. Doubtless, Harry was too embarrassed to ask Tom, a curious young man by nature, to stop investigating.
"I'm sorry, Tom, but I think Harry would prefer I not speak with you about it. In fact, I think he’d prefer you to stop looking into the matter altogether.”
Harry? The teenager was particularly sensitive to that name. From the age of five, when he’d only known him as Mr. Potter, he’d drawn the curved arc of each letter of that name over and over, thousands of times, deep in his heart. Tom raised his eyes, suppressing the clamor that was occurring inside of him. The smiling young man let his question hang silently in the air.
"We spoke just the other day. I‘m going to respect his wishes and won’t explain beyond what can be found in the textbook. I’ll be honest; when he said you were looking into something questionable I did not expect this.” Slughorn laughed heartily, amused by the whole affair.
The sentence resounded like a clap of thunder in Tom, the confidence he felt from the potion dissipating. It felt like his body was falling up and every corner of his mind was rapidly thinking.
Harry knew he was looking into something and had asked Slughorn specifically not to tell him. Tom doubted it would be about beauty potions. Slughorn had seemed relieved when Tom asked. Harry’s timing was also more than a little suspicious.
An impossible terrible thought came to mind — did Harry know he was trying to make a Horcrux?
Tom’s jaw clenched.
No, he couldn’t possibly know that. The teenager’s eyes watched the hourglass, followed the sand trickling away. His dark eyes began to cloud as his repressed inner darkness started to emerge.
Harry might have been able to figure out that Tom Riddle was a selfish sinister person, could even know about the Slytherin blood in his veins, but he couldn’t possibly know about the existence of Horcruxes!
He didn’t find the idea of making Horcruxes terrible but Harry would see them as evil and truly see Tom’s nature. What would his reaction be if he knew what Tom was doing? Would Tom be abandoned, would Harry be disappointed or disgusted by him?
But Harry hadn’t shown those emotions. Perhaps he still didn’t know and if he did know about Tom’s plans then perhaps Tom could move forward without Harry knowing.
The young man fiercely bit the inside of his cheek. He could still do this.
In the fairy tale “Bluebeard", the man approaches his wife step by step with a ferocious axe just because she knows his despicable secret. He didn’t hate his wife. No, he cared too much for her and was afraid she’d hate him and leave him. So when his carefully hidden secret was exposed, he reacted to it with extreme desperation.
Thousands of thoughts turned into millions in the blink of an eye as Tom considered the implications of what he’d learned.
"Tom, do you have any other questions?"
"Yes," Tom immediately set aside all superfluous emotions, though an unnoticeable eye tic remained, "there was something else I was curious about.”
"Ah, is that so?" The old man beckoned him to go on.
Tom paused, feeling that previously repressed sense of self-confidence rising up, and furrowed his brow. "Yesterday, I saw a word in the library and I didn’t really understand it. I believe it was called a Horcrux.”
The professor didn’t know that the student had used a potion that tamed the ugly greed in his eyes. Because he could not see it, he didn’t think of any dark purpose behind the enquiry. So without a reason not to tell Tom, Slughorn did.
"Thank you, Professor, for explaining it to me." Tom perfectly imitated an honest and grateful student. "I knew only you would be so knowledgeable about such an obscure subject.”
Fate moved behind the scenes, guiding events to their inevitable conclusion. Destiny cannot be changed; history, already written, cannot be erased.
This was the truth behind the game Harry was playing; the beginning had already determined the outcome. The ignorant time traveler just didn’t want to see that.
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