Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: One Winged Angel :: 19 :: Tempting

19 • Tempting

Harry marked his page as Tom arrived again and closed the book.

“Severus had a very interesting accusation,” Tom said casually.

Harry raised his brows in a show of interest and drew his head back slightly.

“He thinks I’m falling for you.”

Harry’s brows dropped as he straightened. “Why would he think that?”

Tom blinked slowly and said, “He accused me of—how did he put it?—prattling on like a swain about his beloved.”

“Are you?” A fairly important question in Harry’s mind, all things considered. He had been thinking about what Tom had said the night before, and was inclined to agree to the extent that he could understand. Having several strong friendships to serve as a comparison helped, as well, though he admitted, even if only to himself, that the existence of bond itself really was a huge factor in how he was . . . handling things. Did it make things . . . safe? He was beginning to think it did.

And, there was definitely no question that Tom could play him into a drunken stupor. That part was great. But did it have anything to do with love? He supposed it must. But then again, he had developed a crush on Cho for a while and he sure as hell didn’t love her. On the other hand, he had spent time getting to know Tom before sexuality ever really came into the picture. So, did that matter so much?

Harry was snapped out of his thoughts when Tom said, “Yes, I believe I am.”

That made him think again about what Tom had said. Could he say that Tom’s death would have a profound effect on him? Well, aside from the part where he would also die. Harry smiled softly; it brought a whole new meaning to the phrase, ‘it would kill me’. He focused on Tom again and looked at him intently, running a list of attributes through his mind, then sidestepping mentally into the idea of how he would feel should something horrible befall his bonded. He shuddered almost immediately; Tom made him feel free and unfettered.

:Harry?:

Harry blinked slowly and focused on Tom again. “Huh? Oh.” He tapped his temple, not realizing his eyes were already drifting off to one side again as he thought about things. Then he remembered his research and gave a slight sigh of relief. The bond did not in any way compel him. He had a very good idea, though, that if he just sat back, he would slide right into it even before he actually understood what he was feeling.

He blinked again and smiled. “That makes me happy, Tom. I’d say more about that, but I have no idea how to articulate some things.”

Tom nodded and stepped closer.

“Is there any business we need to discuss?” Harry asked, head tilted to one side.

“Not that I can think of.”

Harry laid his book on the bedside table. “That also makes me happy. Can I tempt you into a kiss now?”

Tom took another step, arched his brow, then placed one hand on his hip. “Tempt me?”

That had not exactly been what Harry had meant—that is, if he was reading things right. He could, of course, put on a little show. If he was brave enough. But would that come across as being too tempting? Or rather, cruel.

“Maybe I should tempt you,” Tom said, lifting his other hand to finger the top button of his shirt. After a moment it slipped free and Tom’s hand lowered to the next.

Harry watched silently as each button was undone, as more and more of Tom’s skin was exposed. It wasn’t until Harry licked his lips that he realized he was becoming aroused, at which point he stood and approached his bonded, reaching out to tentatively touch his fingers to Tom’s chest. The differences were interesting. Harry knew, objectively, that he had little to complain about when it came to his own physique. Yes, he could stand to put on more weight, and perhaps now he would be able to and keep it given that his family had been taken care of, but Tom. . . .

Tom’s chest and stomach were finely muscled and absolutely hairless. It made him think, briefly, of serpents. As he pushed the shirt from Tom’s shoulders he noticed that his bonded’s were broader then his own, making Tom’s waist and hips seem that much more narrow in comparison. Again he noticed that scent that seemed to be uniquely Tom’s, prompting him to press his lips to the skin before him, then flick his tongue out to taste.

The barest hint of salt. He reached around and began to un-tuck Tom’s shirt as he tentatively feasted on his bonded’s chest, then removed it entirely and tossed it to one side. Tom’s back was also hairless; his questing hands found only silken warmth. When his mouth latched on to one of Tom’s nipples, though, Harry found himself being pushed backward toward the bed.

Tom slipped from his embrace and laid down, toeing off his shoes, then brought one arm back to rest on the bed above his head while the other—long fingers trailed over his chest and stomach.

Harry let out a ragged sigh. “Yes, tempting,” he said, then crawled onto the bed, letting his lips and tongue follow the trail left behind by those fingers. He simply could not imagine doing this with a female. They were too soft, shaped wrongly. Tom’s own breathing was becoming less even and the movement of his hand jerky, and that aroused Harry even more, prompting him to sink his teeth into the junction of Tom’s neck and shoulder, foregoing the game of follow the leader.

That brought forth a distinct moan, but rather than cover Tom’s body with his own, Harry worked his way up Tom’s neck even as he let one hand trail down his chest to tease at the waist of his bonded’s trousers. An arch of hips greeted his actions and Harry snarled, biting savagely before moving his mouth to capture Tom’s and slide his tongue inside to dance. His fingers slipped beneath the waistband and teased, then slipped back out so he could ghost lower over the fabric.

Tom arched again and moaned into his mouth, making Harry feel a heady sense of accomplishment that he could cause such a reaction. He pulled his head away, breathing heavily, and waited until Tom opened his eyes. “Take these off,” he whispered, stroking more firmly, watching as his bonded’s eyes half closed in pleasure. “Show me?”

Tom hesitated, looking at him closely, though Harry rather thought that his continued stroking was interfering quite handily with actual cognition. After a minute Tom said, “Yes,” so Harry moved to the side and sat. Tom hauled himself up, then stood and faced him, placing one hand where his trousers were buttoned. “Are you certain?” he asked softly.

“Yes.”

Tom nodded and proceeded to undress, never taking his eyes from Harry’s, and with no signs of embarrassment. Once he was naked he waited, one hand coming to rest on his hip again. “And you?”

Harry blinked, then blushed, though not because of where his eyes were drawn. He was, in fact, fascinated. Still, fair was fair, so Harry slipped off the bed and shrugged off his robes, them fumbled with the hem of his shirt as he toed off his shoes.

Tom stepped forward with a soft chuckle and said, “May I help?” Harry gave a faint nod so Tom dealt with the shirt himself, taking care not to snag Harry’s glasses, then reached down to unbutton his jeans and slide the zipper open. After that he stepped back and stretched out on the bed again, ostensibly not paying attention as Harry removed the remainder of his clothing.

Harry had almost crawled back onto the bed when he remembered his wand holster and promptly blushed again. He rolled his eyes as Tom sat up and removed it for him, then placed it onto the bedside table. When he had crawled onto the bed Tom said quietly, “What is it that you want, Harry?”

“You aren’t peeking, are you.”

Tom shook his head lazily. “I need you to tell me.”

“I—” What was it he wanted? “Not . . . everything.” Did that even make sense?

Tom nodded and pushed him down, onto his back. “That’s fine, Harry,” he said as he half covered Harry’s body with his own and slipped one thigh between Harry’s carefully. “I’ll show you something new, though, and if you find you don’t like it, you be sure to tell me so I can stop.” He licked Harry’s lower lip, then said, “Or would you prefer that I did peek, so you needn’t find the words?”

Harry groaned as Tom’s teeth found his neck and a hand found his arousal, then closed his eyes. “Peek,” he managed to say, gritting his teeth against the urge to arch.

“Ah, Harry, let it go,” Tom whispered. “You have no idea how much it pleases me to hear and feel you respond. But, I think, you have no need for these.”

Harry felt his glasses being slipped from his face, then that hand was back, stroking him and making his head spin. Why didn’t it feel this good when he was alone?

Tom chuckled and nipped his neck, then whispered, “It’s like food, Harry. It always tastes better when someone else cooks it. And, there’s always the excitement of not knowing what I might do, especially when you aren’t looking, or can’t. Like . . . this.”

Harry felt fingers caress the junction between his torso and thigh, and sucked in his breath with a hiss as he arched without thought.

“I think my Harry likes that,” Tom commented, then proceeded to kiss Harry until he was breathless and dazed, all the while stroking and caressing softly. Tom then changed his attack, slowly working his way down Harry’s chest and stomach, shifting position until he was kneeling between Harry’s legs. By then, Harry wouldn’t have known what embarrassment was even had he looked it up in the dictionary. All he knew was that he was aching with an intensity he had never felt before.

“You are exquisite, Harry,” Tom murmured.

Harry opened his eyes to see a blurry, lowering dark mass, then closed them and arched at the feeling of Tom’s lips brushing against him, another moan torn from his lips at the contact. He could feel those same lips stretch to a smile against his heated flesh, then a very wet tongue lash out, making his eyes squeeze shut even tighter momentarily. He lost track after that, feeling as he did almost as though he was lying in the surf, the water like waves of pleasure cresting over his body, to recede and come back stronger the next time.

He barely even noticed a finger invading him, though he did notice what it was doing to him in conjunction with Tom’s mouth. There was a pause then, enough to make Harry squirm, and the murmur, “Would my Harry like more?”

Harry didn’t speak; he didn’t need to. A second finger joined the first and Tom used his mouth for better things than talking, gradually increasing his pace and the aggressiveness of his actions. As before, Harry lost control, but unlike the last time, Tom didn’t pamper him with hushed words and gentle hands. Tom finished him off, then crawled up his body to capture his mouth again, and Harry tasted himself for the first time.

Salty, slightly bitter, and unlike anything he had ever tasted before. He almost giggled, causing Tom to pull away with a patently fake look of annoyance. The only reason Harry could decipher it was Tom’s nearness. “That was. . . .”

“Yes, it was. Don’t fall asleep on me just yet, Harry,” Tom whispered.

“Mm, no,” he breathed. His mind was more than a little hazy. He knew that. But he also knew that Tom must be aching based on the hard length pressed against him. “Never. . . .”

“I know. It’s your choice,” Tom whispered back, then kissed him again, sharing the taste of what he’d worked for.

And then, some few minutes later when Harry had regained his equilibrium, Tom was the one pressed against the yielding surface of the bed as Harry once again tried to mimic what he had been shown.

*

Harry went to breakfast feeling very relaxed and somewhat preoccupied. He was midway through his meal when he turned and said quietly, “If the DA did start up again, would you want to join?”

Blaise gave him a vaguely startled look, then replied, “Would they even allow that?”

“They? Granted, I wasn’t the one who dreamed it up, but I was the one teaching. Besides, I told Ginny to talk to the original members to see who was still interested. If they can swallow me being in Slytherin, then why should it be that much more of a step to not worry over you?”

Blaise smiled, rather indulgently. “Harry, the first thing out of most people’s mouths would be to ask if I’d put some sort of spell on you, or made you drink some potion to get you to talk to me in the first place.”

“As Ginny put it, ‘sod them’. I know I don’t always make the best decisions, but honestly. If they don’t trust me, they don’t. Otherwise. . . . Besides, think about it. Ron is one of the people you would expect to be screaming bloody murder, and he’s not. While he hasn’t exactly been friendly, he also hasn’t accused you of anything. If it meant the group got a hell of a lot smaller, so be it.”

“You sound like the sorting hat.”

Harry flashed a quick grin. “What, together we stand?”

Blaise shrugged.

“Personally, I’m not going to get bent if it ends up being a very small group. I got more than a little tired of people giving me grief about my methods. If the new guy turns out to be as bad as I’ve heard, though. . . .”

“Well, we’ll find out soon enough.”

“That reminds me. I have tutoring sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so you probably won’t see me tonight.”

Blaise arched a brow. “All right.”

“No idea how long they’ll last,” Harry said with a grimace. “Didn’t want you to worry or anything.” He piled the last of his eggs onto a slice of buttered toast and took a bite.

“Malfoy was made quidditch captain.”

Harry glanced over quickly, using a hand to prevent his quasi-sandwich from falling apart mid-bite. After swallowing he said, “Bully for him. Even if I wasn’t still banned, that would be a sure thing for me never making the team. Not that I would have bothered trying out.”

“I think it’s a shame. You might have made a good captain.”

Harry shrugged. “I’ll never know. I just like to fly. Not so sure being a captain is in me, you know?”

“What about . . . after?”

Harry set down his toast. “You mean if I should live so long? No, I don’t think so. I have a hard time believing that a team would hire me on strictly for talent. I’d rather do something where my name couldn’t get in the way.”

“People have you pegged as becoming an auror.”

“I already gave up that idea. It’s ironic, actually, considering it was a Death Eater who suggested in the first place. But no. I get the feeling I’d either be expected to be some weird super auror, or pushed around by superiors who thought I needed to be taken down a few pegs for my swelled head.”

Blaise tilted his head to the side and smiled. “Interesting. Well, we should get going.”

Harry hefted his bag over one shoulder and pushed away from the table.

*

“And so, class, you can see why it is very, very important to know these things while dealing with a troll,” said Professor Flaxweld with a knowing smile.

Harry glanced at Ron, huffed slightly, then turned back to face the front of the class. A second later he could hear snickering, but ignored it and kept a straight face.

“Was there something you wanted to say, Mr Weasley?”

“Er, there aren’t any simpler ways to deal with one, sir?”

Flaxweld flashed a mildly condescending smile and shook his head almost regretfully. “Now, now. I understand the need for a bit of derring do in a young man’s life, but I’m afraid not. It takes a fully qualified wizard to handle one.”

Harry bit his lip, hard, and glanced over at Ron again, trying desperately not to laugh. By the looks of it, Ron wasn’t doing much better. Harry quickly brought up a hand to rub his face, not so incidentally hiding his nearly escaped smile, then looked down at his desk.

“Now, for homework, I’d like a three feet of parchment on mountain trolls!”

A collective groan ran through the class as they gathered up their belongings, and Harry, Ron, and Blaise escaped out the door as soon as they could. Hermione arrived a few moments later.

“What was so damn funny?” hissed Blaise.

Harry and Ron exchanged a glance, looked at Hermione, then at Blaise. “Not here,” said Harry. “Actually, I was thinking of heading to the library to get this, er, terribly difficult assignment out of the way.”

Hermione gave him a sharp look, then nodded. “An excellent idea, Harry.”

Ron scowled, but also nodded.

“Come on,” Harry said, tugging briefly on Blaise’s sleeve.

*

“So, do you think he’d get upset if we mentioned our method?” Harry asked with a smirk.

Ron sniggered.

“Harry, I thought you were going to take this assignment seriously,” Hermione said.

“I am, but that’s sort of the point. All three of us know another way, unorthodox as it is. I find it rather insulting that the man treats us like idiots. Don’t you?”

Blaise cleared his throat softly, then quirked an eyebrow.

“Right, sorry. What we’re referring to is a mountain troll we defeated first year.” Harry went on to give a brief explanation, glad that they were sitting in one of the more secluded places in the library. “I’m beginning to think that Ginny is right. The DA ought to start up again,” he concluded.

“And the people who can’t handle your re-sort?” asked Ron.

Harry shrugged. “I’m not sure what to think. I’d like to believe that people can see past all of this. But, too many people believed all that rot from fourth year. Certainly last year. I mean, come on. It would be practically incestuous for Hermione and I to have been a couple.” Harry paused to wink at his friend. “And I know even though they joined that there were people in the DA who didn’t want to trust me. If it’s smaller, it’s smaller.”

Ron glanced at Blaise, then at Harry. “Those who decide not to would still have their galleons.”

“So we use something else.”

“Have you mentioned this to Professor Dumbledore?” Hermione asked, a rather closed expression on her face.

Harry shook his head. “But then, I don’t think he would mind. Do you? He knew about us. He even helped us.” He had decided that he was going to treat Hermione as normally as possible and see what came of it.

“That is true,” she said slowly, tapping one finger on the table.

Harry turned to Ron. “By the way, Malfoy was made captain.”

Ron was caught between horror and pride. “So was I.”

“That’s brilliant!” Harry enthused, then lowered his voice to a whisper. “If you don’t win this year I’ll make you pay another forfeit.”

“You wouldn’t.”

“I would,” Harry said, nodding. “I can see it now. Yes, it would be horrible. Even worse than last time.” He knew quite well that Ron would have a hard time imagining anything more horrible than being forced to do his homework. Except, perhaps, spiders. The slow drain of colour from his friend’s face made him smile and arch a brow. “Do you think Ginny will stay on as seeker?”

“Huh? Oh, I don’t know.”

They were both startled by the sound of something hitting the table. Harry looked over to see that Hermione had opened a rather thick tome. “I suppose we’d best get started on this assignment, then,” he said, then reached into his bag for supplies.

*

Harry knocked on the door and waited until he heard a muffled voice give permission to enter. Taking a deep breath, he opened the door and stepped in, then closed it quietly behind him and gave a nod to Snape.

“Your supplies, Potter,” Snape said, indicating a bag resting on the floor next to the desk. “For the next two hours, do as you wish, so long as it does not involve disturbing me.”

“Yes, sir.” Harry stepped toward the desk long enough to get his new things, then took a seat at the nearest table. After taking out his new Potions textbook he settled in to read.

:Do you actually plan on trying?:

Harry blinked and flipped the page. :Yes, of course. I have some hope that I might even be fairly marked this time around. Though that wasn’t my choice, this is.:

:All right. I’ll help if you like, though I admit that Potions is not my forte.:

Harry suppressed a smile just in case Snape was looking. :Why else have a Potions Master at your beck and call? Then again, since when do dark lords do their own brewing?:

:Two points, Harry. I would ask if the master portrait has said anything, but considering I’ve been there the past two nights. . . .:

:Somehow I doubt the snake was too embarrassed to speak. I am surprised, though. Blaise told me that Malfoy has been ranting about me since first year. I would have expected to have heard something by now.:

:I cannot decide if I should be concerned yet.:

:Tom, what happens to. . . .: Harry sighed quietly and flipped the page again, despite not having read anything.

:To?:

:Take Malfoy. Let’s say he wishes to join Voldemort. What if his two hulking goons don’t?:

:I’m—ah, I see. Which is better? Certain exceptions, marks included, or the risk that they will be outcast?:

:Well, that’s just it. Slytherin rules say you can’t attack your housemates. Frankly, I don’t even know if Crabbe and Goyle have any brains, if they have an actual opinion. Are they just faking it or are they really that thick?:

:Their fathers are not known for their intelligence, I admit.:

:So they could just up and say okay? Would veritaserum bring out anything of substance?:

:I’m beginning to understand the Hero Complex references.:

:That is so uncalled for.: Harry snorted.

:Two points to me! Assuming they are lacking, veritaserum would make that plain, Harry. However, I made an agreement with you, so it is your choice how to handle the situation. Or, at least, it is up for discussion.:

Harry sighed. :Why does this persist in getting more complicated every time I turn around? Well, whatever. It isn’t like that decision has been made anyway, right?:

:No, it hasn’t. And if we find out that only a handful of students have such an intent, it may not be worth the effort. On a related note, since I will have to question each Death Eater, I may as well adjust their marks at that time rather than setting up something like you suggested. New followers I would manage as they were inducted.:

:I admit I wonder. So many people are convinced that all Slytherins are just slavering over the idea of hitching up. Some of them must have an opinion that isn’t programmed into them. Blaise doesn’t seem to. How many of them are just scared nigh well to death that their parents will force them or kill them if they try to refuse?:

:If we haven’t heard anything by the time the week is over, we’ll try something a little different.:

:Such as?:

:How would you feel about a Christmas party with Voldemort as the host?:

Harry snickered softly. :Now that’s precious. Definitely points there. Five at least. Once word of that got out I can just imagine all the hushed conversations that would provoke.: Then he frowned. :I wonder if I’ll be dragged back to HQ this year.:

:Knowing Dumbledore? Very likely. I know, cooped up for weeks with no chance of getting away, or even outside. Harry, do you truly hate him?:

Harry sighed and ruffled his hair. :No, not exactly. I mean, he’s only doing what he thinks is best. In the grander scheme of things, that’s fine. I mean, which is better? A madman bent on obliterating most of the world’s population, or a man bent on the death of two individuals for the greater good? It doesn’t mean I like him. I hope you have one hell of a fortune, Tom, because I still haven’t figured out how I’m supposed to find work as the new me.:

Amusement filled him, then, :Don’t worry about it, Harry. Even now the Ministry is surprisingly lax as far as security goes. I’m sure we can work out minor details such as test scores for the both of us. Another option would be to do so in another country. At any rate, how did you think home schooled children managed?:

:No idea. The thought never occurred to me. Maybe I should brush up on my French.:

:You realize, of course, that a Slytherin Harry Potter defeating Voldemort might actually erase some of the stain on the house.:

:That hadn’t crossed my mind either. That might be nice, actually. Though, I guess that depends on how many in Slytherin are, er, innocent. But do I really care at this point? This whole house system is really annoying. Even the sorting hat knows that to some extent.:

:Sorry?:

:Sorting hat. It’s been going on about unity among the houses for two years now I think. I don’t remember what it said this year, actually. I was a bit preoccupied at the time. Like any good system, it’s become corrupt.:

Harry felt something rather odd, then a slight sense of pride. :One of these days we need to sit down and discuss your ideas on the downfall of man, Harry.:

Harry grinned, then blanked his face and looked up when he heard, “Mr Potter, what are you doing?”

“Sorry, sir. Just, er, thoughts.”

Snape stared at him, one brow arched, eyes unblinking. “I see.” After a moment he dipped his quill in his inkstand and went back to writing.

:How interesting.:

:I didn’t think he’d be paying attention.:

:That reminds me. I told him to find you if there was something he needed to pass on to me urgently.:

:You should have told me last night.:

:Yes, I should have. I had other things on my mind, though.:

:Oh? Pray tell.:

:Stop fishing for compliments, Harry.:

:Do you . . . think I ought to raise the issue of the DA with Dumbledore?:

:Would official sanction mean anything? Or would this be a pretense to show that you need his opinion on matters? After all, as a sanctioned group, you may well be stuck with a staff overseer.:

:Oh, yes, that would be just lovely. Flaxweld would be an incredible addition to the Defense Association.:

:Not Severus?:

:No. Or do I mean yes?: Harry shook his head. :Anyway, I know he’s wanted the Defense position for years and Dumbledore has always refused. I suppose to either keep his cover safe or—well, I don’t know, really. The only reason I could see Snape is because he’s my head of house. I suppose people might believe he would be there to slow us down or terrorize us, but. . . . No, I’m not going to say anything. If the DA reforms, fine. I’m just going to work on the assumption that since Dumbledore didn’t interfere before, he won’t now. He might appreciate my initiative, or something.:

When Tom did not reply Harry continued. :I think it would be difficult either way. Flaxweld isn’t necessarily much better than Lockhart was, and Snape doesn’t need that kind of pressure.:

:All right. Would you be offended if I searched through my library for books you might like to reference for meetings?:

:Of course not. You said you would share anyway.: He paused as a thought occurred to him.

:No, Harry, he has not. Though I am unsure as to whether you re-entering the Chamber would clue him in.:

:Is it inside or outside the wards?:

:Neither and both, I would expect. I will check when I go down there with Severus. But if it makes you feel any better, I will check before we go to see if the headmaster has placed any tracking or monitoring charms.:

Harry breathed a sigh of relief. :Tom, is it possible to write in Parseltongue?:

:Now that’s an odd question. Why?:

:I just feel uncomfortable. Exposed. I never thought I’d say that about being in Hogwarts, but I do. I want to be able to do some of the things you were talking about. You know, expanding my awareness? But, even though I know it’s unlikely that anyone would be able to discover anything odd in my room, it still worries me.:

:And having books in Parseltongue wouldn’t be odd? I understand, yes, that no one but you and I could realize what it was, but still. Perhaps it would make more sense to further this after I’ve seen the Chamber again, Harry. If it is safe, I can transport copies of suitable books from my library down there so you can access them freely. And, of course, I will help you through any of it you wish to employ.:

Harry fidgeted and fussed with his hair for a moment. :Okay. I still can’t believe the old man put me into Potions. If I didn’t know any better I’d say he was tryi—ha, never mind. He is trying to get me killed, after all.:

:Now, Harry. Severus has been behaving himself. Even you have seen that.:

Harry glanced up from beneath his fringe to look at Snape, then lowered his eyes quickly when he realized he was being watched again. :I know, and I’m sorry. You probably threatened him, though.: He smiled when he felt Tom’s amusement.

:Only a little, Harry. How about we talk of something less grave, hmm? Tell me, did you enjoy our evening together last night?:

Harry nearly groaned as the sensation of warmth flooded his cheeks. :As if you need ask!:

:Ah, but you know I like to make you blush. Though, hearing you practically scream my name was incredibly satisfying, not to mention arousing.:

:I did no such thing.: Harry let his indignation flare across the link.

:Oh, but you did. You have no idea how you look in those moments. Your face becomes quite flushed, Harry, for one thing, not to mention that it bleeds down your neck to your chest. And your hands—clutching at whatever is within reach as though searching for a lifeline. You are incredibly responsive.:

Harry slowly lowered his head until his forehead was resting on his forgotten book.

:You make such interesting mewling noises, did you know that? Seeing you arch beneath me wantonly sets me on fire, Harry.:

“Merlin,” he whispered, absently thinking that the book was nice and cool against his skin.

:Is there something wrong, Harry?: Tom’s tone was sickeningly innocent.

:Bastard. You know exactly what’s wrong.:

:I have no idea what you’re talking about. But to get back to the subject, I’m glad you enjoyed yourself. We need to be careful, though.:

:Hm?:

:It’s easy to get carried away, and I don’t want to break your trust.:

:And bringing to mind how you can make me feel is helping how? You’re such a tease.:

:Well, I can’t very well have you forgetting about me, now can I?:

:I don’t think that’s possible, Tom.:

:By the way, Umbridge has retired to a quiet cottage in the country, scared out of her mind that the part breeds are going to come after her if she so much as looks at one of them.:

Harry sat up and blinked, then smiled. :That’s very good news. How did you find out?:

:Oh, various ways. Ears in the Ministry are always a plus. That and I had a few of my pets investigate. She doesn’t like snakes, either, but they kept out of sight.:

:If I were the type I’d suggest entertaining her with illusions of centaurs, but I don’t really want to be responsible if it drove her to madness.:

:You know, Harry, it’s probably a very good thing I never had a chance to really talk to you as Voldemort. If I had been able to convince you. . . .:

Harry smirked. :You make it sound like I’m easy.:

:Never easy, Harry. Stubborn, willful, determined, yes.:

*

The remainder of the week went by more or less smoothly if you discounted such things as the Daily Prophet screaming out headlines regarding Harry’s re-sorting. Thankfully, it was not Rita Skeeter doing the reporting, but that was only a small victory considering that the paper had once again managed to imply that Harry was leaning dangerously toward following in Voldemort’s footsteps.

By the time Friday dinner rolled around Harry had once again resigned himself to being the object of much discussion and speculation, and by the time he made it to his room he was grateful beyond words to be out of everyone’s sight. The previous evening’s session with Snape had seen him far more concentrated on his homework rather than spending the entire time talking to Tom. It was almost a relief to be in there without anyone to pester him, either with distractions or with comments about his level of studiousness.

Having successfully completed his pending homework during those two hours, Harry had been thrilled when nothing was assigned the following day. Thus it was that he had an entire weekend to do nothing more than amuse himself.