Whenever you notice something like that, a wizard did it.
He took tea with the Devil on Monday morning. Seeing Riddle move within a domestic setting, carefully spooning sugar into each hot mug while the warm dawn light rose steadily over the bow of his shoulderblades, you could almost forget the boy was a psychopath.
"I only like you," said Riddle, "because you speak my language."
Harry said nothing, and reached for the cereal.
"I get tired of talking to snakes," said Riddle. "Their minds aren't half as interesting as the things you dream up, Harry. Your little homocidal urges. Oh, you're very good at pretending it doesn't happen. You sit there and smile and pour your milk -- that's right -- and pretend that everything is quite, quite normal. But deep down in the heart of you..."
He trailed off, meaningfully, slid one mug across the tabletop and into Harry's palm as if the gesture alone could validate his point. Behind him the sun slid along the edge of the world, the edge of the end of the world, gilding the trees and hills with a surreal glaze of gold. As the light touched the banks of the lake, the water seemed to boil; the gouts of steam which burst from its surface climbed upward to form clouds. Harry thought of forges, of blacksmiths, of the heat of metal and the satisfying sizzle of evaporating liquid. He sipped his tea and found the flavour somewhat sharper than he might have liked.
"I keep telling you that I'm a memory," said Riddle. "The trouble is, of course, that I'm yours."
Harry cradled the mug between his hands and blew on it.
"You could be rid of me in an instant," said Riddle. "Push your wand into your brain and tear me out. Nothing simpler. A quick, snappy magical lobotomy, and I'm gone. Kaput." He made an expansive motion with his hands. "Only I think you quite like having me here. You'd rather fight me than kill me. At least that way you can be sure where I am. Who I am."
Harry's cereal looked suddenly very unappetising. His stomach was churning. He pushed the bowl away and hunched over in his chair.
"In fact," said Riddle thoughtfully, "I think I'm the only thing that keeps you sane."
Very slowly he set aside his mug and leant his elbows on the table, extending his long fingers to swipe -- almost paternally -- at the fringe of hair that fell over Harry's eyes. Harry failed to flinch; failed to even acknowledge the motion. In the far distance he could see the trees beginning to blacken, although whether it was just a trick of shadow or not, he couldn't be sure. Right now it was difficult to be certain of anything, except that Riddle's hands were now wrapped around his wrists, and his own mug of tea was being pried from his grasp, and Riddle's mouth was unnervingly close to his own.
"We're so alike. In dignity." Riddle's lips, and Riddle's breath, which felt a little like the sun. "If I was you, and you were me, I wouldn't let you go, either. I'd use you as an example. I'd hold you down, Harry. Infront of everyone. I'd hold you down with your hands over your head. I'd sit on your chest and I'd look into your eyes, and I'd say, Tom Riddle..."
"Stop," said Harry quietly; it came out like a croak, hoarse and painful.
"I'd say, Tom Riddle. There but for the grace of god..."
Then they were on the table, Riddle's thin body wrenched through the breakfast things, milk spraying sideways, cornflakes erupting from their packet and scattering out across the cloth. Harry felt the sting of hot tea on his thigh, the jarring of his elbows as Riddle tried to regain his ground. Riddle's breathing was laboured, excited; somehow he had managed to wrest one arm clear and swing it loosely around Harry's neck. Like a noose, Harry thought, like a shackle, like a chain. He was conscious of Riddle's weight, or rather the conspicuous absence of weight as Riddle hung there, impossibly light, a shackle that wasn't a shackle, in a dream that wasn't quite a dream.
They slid closer with the tablecloth wending its way between Harry's legs, somehow catching on his belt so that he was obliged to unfasten himself to distentangle it, and then Riddle's hand was there, safe and warm and firm, and it didn't seem to matter any more. His body was soaking, with milk and hot water, and Riddle, gently raising Harry's shirt over his chest, fastened his mouth to Harry's skin and lapped it away. More cat-like than snake-like now, with the rough of his tongue like sandpaper, but tender, too.
"Really, Harry," said Riddle. "You're spoiling me..."
Harry watched Riddle's mouth as it moved downward. The sunlight moved quickly to eclipse his shadow, saturating Harry's skin in a haze of gold. Moistness prickled Harry's crotch; his legs slipped easily to straddle the edges of the table. Somewhere, out there, Riddle's lips had fitted snuggly around the head of Harry's cock as if they had been made for this very purpose, as if Riddle's mouth was meant for Harry. As if Harry had been formed from the mold of Riddle's presence. A sheltering, Harry thought absently. Protection. Because we are alike, and because he is right, and because I have been waiting...
Of course he fought it anyway. It was his duty to fight, just as it was Riddle's duty to persevere. A simple bitter victory, and afterwards Riddle withdrew, kissed him, returned, nudged his way inside of him, and Harry discovered that the molding, the sheltering -- it went both ways. With fingers locked in fingers Harry struggled through the remaining vestiges of pain, while Riddle held mercifully, mercilessly still, his breath and heartbeat measured to Harry's: an equal music made in the shudder of their chests.
And Riddle said: "Right..."
Each clenching, each cursing, each minor resistance slowly but forcefully unwound, and Harry's body shaking in his arms, smaller than he'd ever been before, and shrinking all the while. Or perhaps it wasn't a case of shrinking, but joining; in the juncture of their flesh they were gradually seeping into each other, they were wearing each other away. Harry is Riddle is Riddle is Harry, is Riddle in Harry, is Harry in Riddle... All of it in circles and a symbiotic fastening of teeth -- the bite marks on Harry's knee -- and Riddle leeching, Harry leeching, and the spilt tea was cooling now and lukewarm against the melt of their skin.
And Riddle said: "Right here, Harry, right here..."
Is Harry is Riddle is Riddle is right here now. Small simmerings of protest never gasping from Harry's lips and his hands never faltering, reaching for Riddle's neck across the bridge of his body and holding him there, killing him between kisses offered to the steamy air. The knuckles raw and seizuring somewhere, someone rocking him, saying, Harry, Harry, you're having a nightmare, and the gold flaking away even as Riddle's eyes closed, orgasm skulking around the edges of his brain while at the base of his spine it was already over, a meatiness to it and the disturbing recollection of flesh, You have to wake up, Harry, and white sheets now, and the breakfast things gone, and a freckled face peering worriedly down at him from a distance of several hundred thousand miles, a glass of water against his parched mouth, just the remnants of the dream, now, just the last taste of Riddle washed away down the back of his throat, like the tickle of a cough, Harry, Harry, you're going to be okay, you're going to be...
Then he woke up.
And it was all a dream.
The sun was still gold and the leaves on the trees were little candle-flames, flickering and wavering in the breeze.
"Honestly," said Riddle good humouredly, leaning over to refill Harry's mug, "you didn't really expect to win, did you?"
Return to Archive