Harry was dragging his feet, and he knew it. He was dreading this, but it was a conversation they couldn't keep tabling for later. He arrived at the dark lord's study, staring at the doors with confliction. Harry pursed his lips into a thin line, before raising his hand to knock on the door.
"It's open," said a toneless voice from the other side.
Harry's hand lowered before it could even make contact, a slight flush of embarrassment tinging his cheeks. How long had Voldemort known he was out here, deliberating how to proceed?
Finally he just said to hell with it, and walked inside.
For a belated moment, Harry wondered if this was the most painful moment of his life. Oddly enough it somehow managed to hurt even more then when Voldemort had put him under the Cruciatus Curse in his fourth year, and the dark lord wasn't even doing anything right now but looking at him.
His gaze was so intense and all-consuming it may as well have been the Cruciatus Curse; it was the same unyielding crimson color.
Meanwhile, Voldemort studied the uncomfortable young man in front of him with an appraising eye, completely unaware of the intensity of his stare, and what it was doing to the boy in question.
He was still at a loss as to how this… unassumingly average creature in front of him could be the same awe-inspiring Master of Death Saiph spoke of in the future. For all Voldemort could see, he was a remarkably lackluster teenager. He tilted his head pensively; well, that wasn't entirely true. He was a rather good looking boy, truthfully, and he'd somehow managed to stay alive all this time despite Voldemort's best efforts, so clearly there must be something there.
"Um," Harry's voice stirred him out of his thoughts. "C - Could you stop doing that?"
Voldemort blinked, confused. "Doing what?"
The boy blushed. "Uh, nevermind." He replied, quickly. "Anyway, I figured we should… probably… talk about this, or something." By the time he had finished his face was as red as a tomato, and he'd suddenly found the office carpet worthy of intense study.
"I fail to see what there is to talk about." He dismissed, not even looking remotely as uncomfortable over the situation as Harry was.
Harry stared at him. "Is that a joke…?" He wondered aloud, before shaking his head and continuing; "You hate me. On that note, I hate you too. We're enemies - a couple months ago you were trying to kill me! You don't think we should talk about that?"
"Circumstances have changed." Voldemort answered, as if that actually answered anything.
"Circumstances rarely change that drastically." Harry retorted. "How do I know you're not just going to kill me now?"
"Why would I go through the effort of bring you here, feeding you and providing housing for you if I was going to kill you?" He returned, perplexed.
That was a good point.
"That's the thing - I have no idea why you would go through the effort. I don't even know what's really going on here."
"Due to an unforeseen chain of events, a boy claiming to be our son accidentally time-travelled over two decades into the past. Upon confirming his claim was the truth, it was clear I needed to re-evaluate my current plans." Voldemort explained simply.
Something in his explanation caught Harry's attention. "Hold on - you confirmed it?"
"Of course." The man looked somewhat offended Harry could have possibly thought otherwise.
Voldemort looked at him sharply. "Are you still in a state of disbelief? Judging from your actions earlier, you accepted the situation easily enough."
"It's not that," Harry was quick to say. "It's just - how do you know for sure? From his memories, he certainly believes it to be true. But there's a possibility that he might be wrong, right? He could be adopted." To be fair, Harry didn't think that was possible either. The boy looked far too much like both of them to be anything but authentic.
"Doubtful." Voldemort retorted. "I went through the trouble of confirming the blood relation myself. Not to mention, he speaks Parseltongue. That alone confirms he is my heir."
Harry sighed. "I suppose that could confirm my relation as well."
Voldemort looked at him questioningly.
"I speak Parseltongue too." Harry revealed. And then, when the Dark Lord's expression turned into one of surprise, "You didn't know that?" Harry balked, equally as surprised.
"Why would I know something like that?" Voldemort retorted, waspishly.
"I - I don't know." Harry said, when he recovered from his surprise. "I just assumed someone told you. It's not exactly a secret."
To Harry's belated shock, he realized they were actually holding a working conversation right now. Apparently that was possible. It probably had a lot to do with the fact that Voldemort wasn't actively trying to kill him right now. But on the subject of that…
"Anyway, back to what I was saying before - I still don't understand what your motivations are in bringing me here."
"Did we not just confirm that in the future, we share an heir? Multiple of them, on that note." Voldemort pointed out, looking somewhat annoyed. "Whatever personal… differences we may have at present, you are still the mother of my - future - children. That alone makes you invaluable."
Harry scowled deeply. For some reason, it was completely fine whenever Saiph said it, but Voldemort pointing it out was almost unbearable.
"Don't call me that," he snapped. "I'm not anyone's parent - "
"Yet." Voldemort countered.
" Yet ." Harry agreed, narrowing his eyes. "So at present, I would prefer if you didn't refer to me as that."
Voldemort looked like he wanted to point out the logical fallacy in that, but something seemed to make him refrain. Harry knew he was being rather obstinate about it, but it still threw him off that he actually had children like that at all. He knew it was possible and all (that had been a shock) and that in same-sex couples capable of producing children, like centaurs or manticores, whoever carried the child was technically the 'mother', but it still felt uncomfortable to hear other people refer to him like that. He was definitely being dogmatic about it, but sue him, he had a time-travelling kid who just told him he would get married and have kids with his worst enemy, he was allowed to be in a state of denial.
He would just have to get used to it, though. He supposed it was just another one of those weird Wizarding customs he'd have to come to accept.
"We're arguing irrelevant semantics," Voldemort pointed out, conclusively ending the conversation. "You're here because your continued existence is now imperative to me, and I have far too many political enemies that would see you dead because of it."
"They wouldn't kill me." Harry retorted, affronted. "They wouldn't do that! I'm - "
On their side , he wanted to say. But he wasn't sure if that was even true anymore.
"In the future, you will play an instrumental role in my victory." Voldemort interrupted coolly. Harry blanched. He still didn't know how he felt about that , either. "To those who would see me lose, your death would therefore be instrumental to my downfall. Either you are overestimating your worth to them, or underestimating their hatred for me. Either way, the best way to ensure you safety is by keeping you close."
"Keeping?" Harry repeated, annoyed. "Listen, you're not keeping me anywhere. And are you expecting me to stay here for the rest of my life?"
"Stop being so melodramatic." Voldemort sneered. "It's better than your prior accommodations, is it not?"
Harry grimaced. "That's besides the point." He protested quickly. "Staying for the rest of the summer, I could understand. But do you expect me not to attend school in the fall? And what about after? By your logic, I'd be stuck here for the rest of my life!"
"It is not for eternity - you are completely overreacting." Although if Voldemort had his way, that would be exactly what would happen. However, it was clear keeping Harry locked up safe somewhere would be a horrible idea. "However, while you are still unable to defend yourself, it's better if you are under my protection -
"Unable to defend myself?" He echoed with disbelief. "I'm perfectly capable of defending myself -
"Really? So my memory of this summer is wrong? I distinctly recall you having to be rescued by your precious headmaster."
Harry's expression darkened. " Don't talk about the Ministry." He bit out, voice low, but even.
Voldemort looked surprised by the level of fury in his tone. He didn't comment on it though; for once he showed some tact, and simply continued smoothly; "At any rate, we can discuss this further in the future. At present, we have more important things to worry about. Namely the time-travelling boy down the hall."
Harry took a breath, putting aside his anger with great effort. "Right." He agreed, once he'd regained some semblance of composure. "Do you have any idea how he managed to do it? It's impossible to time travel more than twenty-four hours, right?"
"Impossible? Hardly." Voldemort snorted, leaning back in his chair. "Difficult? Exceedingly so. All the same to say it's impossible is a bit of a stretch. He has more than enough magic to be able to pull it off - and that's to say nothing about his control."
Harry blinked. "His control?"
"Or lackthereof." Voldemort added. "With a magical core as large as his it's no surprise a child of his age would have so much difficulty controlling it - most grown wizards would find it difficult."
Harry looked thoughtful. Then he sighed. "So you're saying it's possible, in theory - but there's no precedent for it?"
"So we have no idea how it could have happened?"
"Unless the boy decides to remember how he got here, no." Voldemort returned, crossly.
"That's not really his fault." Harry pointed out, testily. "He can't help his own memory loss."
If anything, that just made Voldemort look even more cross.
He ran a wary hand through his hair. "And you really don't have any ideas either?" Now that was surprising. Wasn't he supposed to be the genius here?
Voldemort sneered. "I don't see you contributing anything."
Harry didn't even bother to take offense, rolling his eyes. "Yes, because the sixteen year old Hogwarts student would definitely have the answers."
"Don't blame your inadequacies on your age." Voldemort snapped in response. "I was more than capable of pursuing a higher level of intelligence at that age, even with the handicap of the severely lacking Hogwarts library."
Harry scoffed. "That is totally beside the point right now. And anyway, why would I compare myself to you ? Comparing you to anyone doesn't work - mainly because no one else could ever be as egotistical, homicidal, or generally insane as you -
Harry wasn't entirely sure what it was about Voldemort that brought out the worst in him, or what it was about him that brought out the worst in Voldemort, but before long the Dark Lord had risen from his seat, slamming his hand on the table as he glared at Harry with a gaze that could melt lesser men.
"Do you have a death wish, Potter?" He hissed dangerously. "If so, I'd be happy to oblige you -
"You're proving my point you know," Harry interrupted, talking over him. "Who the hell thinks homicidal threats are an appropriate response to insults? And I don't even know if it's still an insult to your character when it's absolutely true -
"It's a perfectly appropriate response when it comes to you, Potter." He retorted. "I doubt anyone would blame me for a few homicidal urges after having to put up with your fatuitous impudence for more than a minute -
"Put up with me ?" Harry echoed in disbelief. "Have you even met yourself? I don't even know how people can stand to be in the same room as you without contemplating suicide!"
Quite honestly, Harry was surprised it had taken him this long to start threatening him with a wand. His hand shot out to pin Harry at the end of a particularly infamous white wand, looking as deadly as he had been in the graveyard.
"One more word, Potter." He warned, lowly.
It was more than enough to remind Harry just who, exactly, he was shouting at.
Inwardly he decided he probably should stop pushing his luck. Outwardly he just folded his arms, looking deeply unimpressed.
"Are you going to kill me, Tom?" He rose a cool brow, unphased.
"The thought is certainly appealing, yes." Voldemort returns, coldly.
To Saiph's disappointment, he was unsurprised to hear his parents arguing, once again. It seemed it didn't matter if he was twenty years in the past or twenty years in the future, Harry and Voldemort would forever be butting heads against each other.
He hesitated at the doorway of his father's study - the scene so different and yet so similar to the dream he'd only just woke up from. Harry and Voldemort at odds with each other; the dark lord leaning over his desk with an irritated expression, one hand planted on the surface, the other directing his wand at Harry. Harry with his arms folded and a nonplussed look on his face, holding the dark lord's gaze without flinching. It was not the office he remembered, but the furnishings were obsolete.
"Is there ever a time when you two aren't arguing?" He asked, drawing their attention.
Finally they both look up from their staring match, the heated moment dissolving as Harry turns around to smile at him.
"Sai," Harry said, surprised, dropping his arms. "What are you doing up still?"
Saiph shrugged half-heartedly. "I couldn't sleep." He didn't want to admit to having unsettling dreams - they certainly weren't nightmares, but all the same they kept him up at night.
Harry's gaze softened. "Did you have a bad dream?" He asked, gently.
"No," he lied, evenly. "I just woke up and heard you two shouting at each other." As usual.
Harry's look turned sheepish. "We were pretty loud, huh?"
Saiph said nothing, watching them with uncanny, glowing eyes.
Harry shook his head. "Well, at any rate, I doubt getting into arguments at one in the morning is really going to be helpful," he sighed, running a hand through his hair. "I suppose it can wait until morning."
He shot Voldemort a meaningful look at that. The dark lord returned it stoically, neither agreeing nor denying.
Harry moved towards him, holding out his hand. "Let's go to bed, huh? No more arguing, promise."
Don't make promises you can't keep, Harry , Saiph thought somberly, but took his hand anyway.
Harry blinked his way into wakefulness in slow increments, gazing up at an unfamiliar ceiling. It took him a while to realize he wasn't at the Dursley's, and even longer to remember where he was and how he came to be here.
He bolted upright, horrified, accidentally jarring the sleeping form next to him.
Saiph made a sleepy noise, but didn't wake. Harry sighed in relief, keeping a distance from the boy as he quietly freaked out. That was his son, next to him.
He collapsed back onto the bed, suddenly unable to deal with any of this. He flung an arm over his eyes, wondering if he could shut them so hard this whole mess would sort itself out, and he would return to the Dursley's, and a world where he and Voldemort had no future together, he was not destined to be with his worst enemy, and all was well with the world.
But as he lay there staring blankly up at the ceiling, he came to realize he didn't want that at all.
As much as these past twenty-four hours horrified him, in a weird way, he also didn't want to wake up to find it all was just a dream. He didn't want to wake up to the reassuring but miserable sounds of the Dursley's puttering about downstairs; he didn't want to wake up to an endless summer of lassitude, locked up and so, so alone. It was no small thing, waking up next to another warm, breathing body. Even more so when he turned to look at the sleeping boy by his side, the wispy hair strewn about his pillow, the flutter of his lashes as he dreamed, his even breathing.
Although he saw a lot of Tom Riddle in him, if he looked hard enough Harry could see himself, too.
He pushed himself upwards on his elbows, directing his gaze out towards the room, washed in muted morning sunlight. Without casting a tempus it was impossible to tell what time it was. He wondered what Voldemort was doing.
After retiring from the dark lord's study, he found himself laying in bed with Saiph, waiting for the boy to fall asleep. Instead of sleeping they ended up taking the night away, Harry finding himself too unwillingly curious to hold the questions at bay.
It wasn't as if he was asking anything serious - Voldemort had surely drilled the boy thoroughly in that regard. Harry didn't want to know about things like the fate of the Wizarding world, workings in the Ministry, or foreign affairs; he wanted to know where Saiph grew up, what his favorite childhood memory was, his favorite toys and the one pet he always wanted to have but was never allowed.
Saiph's favorite memories are all centered around the holidays. Harry was surprised to hear that their family was very big on holiday tradition. He was happy to hear it, since Christmas time was always his favorite time of the year as well, warm fires and hot chocolate and long nights playing games with the Weasley's. It sounded like their family Christmas's weren't quite the same, but carried that quiet warmth nonetheless. Still, he wouldn't have expected that from Voldemort; the man seemed the type to despise festivities. Saiph revealed Harry was correct; his father was certainly the Scrooge in their yearly holidays, doubly so when it came to his birthday, New Year's Eve.
Harry couldn't help but laugh at that - apparently Voldemort went out of his way to make himself scarce on his birthday, as to not be ambushed by any member of his family courageous enough to brave through his bad mood (which was apparently all of them, as it turned out) so instead they would just celebrate his birthday without him. He found the idea of it particularly amusing; Voldemort cross and unhappy over his own birthday, sulking all day long only to return for the cake when he thought they were all asleep.
Saiph didn't really have a favorite toy, although he had a lot of them. Obviously as far as animals went they had Nagini, but she wasn't really a pet. In his youth they'd gone through the gamut of pet dogs, none of them had ever made it past the six month mark, either too terrified or not terrified enough. They'd come to care for Crookshanks for a time, to Harry's bewilderment. Really though the cat spent most of its time roaming the yard, yowling and hissing whenever someone got too close.
Despite himself, Harry found himself completely enamored with the idea of it.
This was Voldemort he was talking about, after all, and if last night proved anything it was that they would forever be at each other's throats. And yet, Harry couldn't help but fall further in love with their future the more he heard about it. It… didn't sound bad at all. Actually, it sounded like everything Harry had ever wanted. Love, affection, family, comfort, a sense of belonging… It was still so surreal to think that he and Voldemort could have that kind of future.
He found himself smiling slightly.
For once in his miserable, short existence, the future didn't seem all that bad.
Saiph hadn't exactly lied to Harry, or anything, but he certainly hadn't told the whole truth.
When he recounted all the happier times, he couldn't help but wonder what happened to them. Nothing had really changed, when he thought about it. Last year, they had still had their yule time festivities. Harry had selected the most outrageously tall fir tree he could find - this year it was so tall it actually leaned crooked, careening precariously to the right. Ceph and Aster decorated it hideously - well this time they actually managed to make it look coordinated, to the surprise of everyone. And the amount of presents they managed to stuff under it was truly mind boggling. They still celebrated his father's birthday while his father made up some ridiculous excuse to get out of it, and when he had crept past the kitchen late at night he had seen Harry and his father sitting close; his father sullenly eating his cake, Harry by his side teasing him about being such a brat about his own birthday. The scene wasn't unusual for them at all, Voldemort long-suffering and stoic, Harry prodding him and laughing at his expense.
Saiph paused, frowning.
Usually when that happened his father either shut him up with a solid kiss to the mouth or a particularly snarky response of his own.
He didn't know when it had changed, but at some point Harry's remarks had stopped being good-natured and had turned bitter; Voldemort's response had stopped being snarky and had turned into real anger.
To be honest, he'd been worrying himself into knots all semester over the thought of this year's holidays.
Would Harry even be there? He was sure Harry could get away from his work for at least a few days, but he knew that even someone as busy as Harry couldn't be that busy all the time - Harry was definitely avoiding them. Well no, not them, but Voldemort. Over the summer the two of them had somehow managed to work out some convoluted schedule where they were never at home at the same time unless for some significant event.
He knew being Master of Death was hard. Even harder than being the Dark Lord Voldemort, Supreme Chancellor of the Wizarding World (not that he would ever tell his father that). But Harry had always made time for his father, in the same way he continued to make time for his children.
A part of him wanted to scream in frustration; why couldn't they just get along and set aside their differences and compromise? Why did they always have to fight? Another part of him felt helpless and resigned to it all, caught in the middle with nowhere to go. They were adults, and he was just a kid. Why would they even listen to anything he had to say?
"You alright Sai?" Harry asked with concern, causing the boy to blink out of his somber thoughts.
"Fine," he lied smoothly, picking up his fork again. "I was just thinking."
Harry watched him push around his eggs for a moment, before asking, "Have you remembered anything else yet?"
Saiph paused, hand stilling over his plate. He had totally forgotten about that, actually, so lost in his thoughts about his parents of the future that he'd forgotten all about the fact that he was with his parents now, decades in the past.
He shook his head. "Nothing." He admitted, defeated. "I can remember the days leading up to it perfectly well - but for some reason I can't seem to remember anything else."
Harry frowned in thought, taking a sip of his orange juice. "What's the last thing you remember?"
Saiph scrunched his brow. "I remember going to sleep the night of the thirteenth. I know it was the fourteenth when I left, but I can't remember anything about the day."
"Nothing at all, huh?" Harry let out a weary breath, before smiling at him. "Well, hopefully you'll start remembering things soon. In the meantime, we should try to find other solutions."
"Other solutions?" His father finally spoke, repeating Harry's words with a tone of incredulity. He lowered his copy of the Prophet, "Finding a solution will be impossible without know what event caused the time travel in the first place." He pointed out, acerbically. "Until we can deduce what made the rip in time, we won't be able to reverse the process to find a solution."
Harry frowned, saying nothing.
"Unless, of course, you'd like to come up with your own spell that could send someone decades into the future?" He added, drily.
"That wasn't what I meant." Harry snapped back, looking as if he'd been on edge all morning and was just waiting for his irritation to bubble over. "I was referring to his memories. Sometimes you just need something to jar it, although in this case, I'm not entirely sure what would be helpful."
"His memories?" His father repeated, a curious look on his face.
"Well, yes. If his cognitive abilities are fine, and the rest of his memories are there, then it doesn't appear to be a huge, unfixable problem. It just seems like there's a block on his most recent ones. Maybe if he sees something that could remind him of something that happened on that day, then he'll remember the rest of it too?"
But Voldemort didn't appear to be listening to him.
He snapped his fingers, and the breakfast table cleared. Harry spared him an annoyed look; he'd wasn't finished with that blueberry muffin.
"Come," he said, as if he fully expected them to just get up and follow him.
Saiph didn't even bother to protest, expression long-suffering as he jumped out of his chair. Harry let out a breath, before moving to follow them both.
The rest of the morning found them in some sort of lab. They hadn't wandered too far down Malfoy Manor, still well within the dark lord's wards, but it could have been an entirely different house for all the differences in decor. Where their rooms were all plush and ornate, this looked like a cross between a dungeon and a mad scientist's lab.
Voldemort steered Saiph to sit at a nearby table. Curious, Harry followed them, hopping onto the opposite edge of it, careful not to jostle any of the glass beakers on its surface.
"Um, what are we doing?" Saiph asked with a look of blank confusion, even as Voldemort took out his wand.
Instinctually Harry seized up at the sight of it, smothering down the intense urge to haul Saiph closer to him and draw out his own wand. Evil bastard he may be, but Voldemort would never hurt his own flesh and blood… right?
"I'm going to look into your mind." He announced, much to their unified horror.
Harry remembered full well how it felt to have Voldemort in his mind. "Don't do that to him!" He retorted, deeply disturbed. "Why would you put him through that?"
"As long as he doesn't fight me, he shouldn't feel any pain." Voldemort returned.
Saiph still looked horrified, but unafraid. Harry frowned at the boy, before turning back to Voldemort. "It's okay, Harry." Saiph said, cutting him off. Harry looked back at him. "It only hurts if he wants it to." He revealed, which did nothing to allay Harry's fears.
Harry looked absolutely livid. "Does he do that to you?" He asked, voice deceptively calm despite the dangerous undertone. "Make it hurt?"
Saiph blinked. "Huh? Oh, no. He doesn't use legilimency on us at all." He scowled. "Or at least, he says he doesn't. Sometimes I wonder, though."
Harry's expression softened; he looked surprised, but in a good way. "Oh."
"Enough of this," Voldemort interrupted, even though Harry noticed he was equally as interested in hearing what Saiph had to say about his future counterpart as Harry was. "Look into my eyes."
Saiph made a grimace, but moved to do as he was told. There was a long moment of heavy, anticipatory silence.
The dark lord made a noise of intrigue. Harry's eyes drifted over toward him, finding an interested expression on the normally impassive man's face.
"Saiph, are you an occlumens?" Voldemort questioned.
Saiph blinks, before staring up at his father with incredulity. "...No?"
He'd love to be, but despite what everyone expected of him he wasn't actually a genius. He was certainly gifted with an extraordinary level of intelligence, but he had to practice and work through things just like everyone else - he couldn't even begin to imagine how difficult mastering something like occlumency would be.
His father made a noncommittal noise of curiosity, swishing his wand a few more times. Saiph followed the wand movement with interest.
Finally he stopped whatever he was doing, lowering his wand. "I cannot read your mind."
Well that's a first, he groused silently.
It was a real tragedy, living with a father who could always read your mind. His father insisted he had never used legilimency on him though, pointing out that Saiph's expressions were telling enough. Saiph refused to believe that. Sometimes his father's ability to catch him went beyond uncanny to just plain convenient.
Harry crossed his arms, leaning back. "Is it because of the time traveling?"
"Possibly," Voldemort replied, distracted. He was looking at Saiph as he would an interesting magical phenomenon; it was alarming, to say the least. "But that would give rise to a magnitude of paradoxical questions…"
And unfortunately, the dark lord didn't know enough about time travel to make an educated guess.
"But if that is truly the case, then there is only one other alternative."
"Which is?" Harry asked.
"Saiph will simply have to show me his memories." Voldemort revealed.
Harry blinked, nonplussed. "How is he supposed to show you memories he can't remember?"
"Obviously not those," Voldemort snapped back. "But any other relevant memories that may provide further information on his current predicament."
And then, to Saiph and Harry's equally blank gazes. "Time travel of this magnitude does not just happen . No magic this powerful appears out of nowhere - there are a set of events that trigger it. Some intentional, others not."
"So you're saying there might be something from before that day that could give us a clue as to what happened?" Harry realized.
"Yes," Voldemort agreed, moving further into the room to disappear behind a shelf full of skulls.
Harry grimaced at them, as he heard something clinking from wherever Voldemort was behind it. "Unfortunately this method will not be as precise as a legilimens combing through a person's mind, but it is also far more detailed."
"What is?" Harry asked, confused, as the man returned with a glass jar.
He spared Harry a suffering look. "I suppose you are not acquainted with a pensieve then, are you?"
Saiph glowered. "This is awful." He groused. "I don't want you snooping through my memories."
Voldemort spared him a deeply unimpressed look. "Do you think I want to waste my time going through whole days worth of memories?" He countered.
Saiph had nothing to say to that, continuing to sit still with only a huff of annoyance. Voldemort stood behind him, a glass jar in his hand.
"Concentrate, and clear your mind," he commanded, yew wand pointed to Saiph's temple. "And stop fidgeting, it won't hurt."
Saiph stopped wiggling about in his chair, a deeply aggrieved scowl on his face. Standing above him, his father wore an equally aggrieved expression, much to Harry's private amusement. It was almost bewildering, how remarkably similar the two were, and with them posed like that it only further highlighted all their shared features.
Voldemort scowled. "You're not concentrating."
"I am concentrating!" Saiph insisted, eyes scrunched close.
"This is a pitiful excuse for concentration -
"And how are you supposed to concentrate on not thinking?" Saiph all but whined.
"By clearing your mind." Voldemort returned, waspishly.
"You do realize that advice never works, you know." Harry tactfully decided to join the conversation, making Voldemort cast him an annoyed glare for interrupting.
Harry ignored him. "Count backwards from one-hundred." He advised, because 'clearing your mind' was advice doomed to fail from the start for anyone who didn't already know how to do it.
Voldemort narrowed his eyes at him, but said nothing, returning his attention to extracting Saiph's memories. When it appeared the boy was concentrating enough, a silvery white smoke drew out of his hair, pulled by the tip of Voldemort's wand. Harry watched with fascination as the dark lord then directed it into the jar, where it gathered at the bottom as if it had actual substance and weight.
"Are we done?" Saiph asked, looking up at his father.
Voldemort did not reply for a moment, swishing his wand one last time before he stepped away with the half full jar, moving to reseal it. "Yes, we are done."
Saiph hopped out of his chair. "So what now?"
"Now, I have to comb through all of these and search for anything that might explain your current situation." He snapped, causing Saiph to rear back as if struck.
Since dark lords are never wrong and never apologize, he did not take back his words. He did however give a sigh of exasperation. "There is a high probability I will be able to find the answer." He continued, in a gentler tone. "Although this method will take some time."
"But you said there were some benefits to doing it this way, right?" Harry prodded.
"Yes. As opposed to entering someone's mind and searching through their memories, pensieve's provide a broader and more detailed accounting of events. Instead of seeing through a person's mind, one is able to enter into the memory as if entering into another world."
Harry looked perplexed. "A different world?"
Voldemort made a disgruntled noise. "You would have to see it for yourself to truly understand."
He snapped his fingers again, summoning a house elf. He commanded it to fetch him his pensieve; the terrified little thing popped away and back in the space of a second, looking as if it feared for its life.
He poured a liquid memory out of the glass jar, the mist draping across the still water in the basin of the pensieve.
"What now?" Harry asked, apprehensively.
"This is how you enter the memory." He explained impatiently. "Now, do you want to try it or not?"
Harry looked at him in surprise. Voldemort was actually offering to let him try it? "I wouldn't know what to look for." Harry pointed out, after a beat.
"I would be going with you, obviously." He snapped. "Now, hurry up. I don't have all day."
Harry rolled his eyes. As if Voldemort had anything better to do today than figuring out a massive time travel debacle involving his eleven year old son from the future. Still he followed the man's command and walked over to the basin, peering into it curiously.
Harry looked back up at Voldemort. "What do I -
But Voldemort had already unceremoniously placed a hand on the back of his head, and shoved him straight into the water.
What an asshole , Harry thought.
Harry's second thought after diving into the memories was one of terror. Why in Merlin's name did he think being inside Saiph's memories with Voldemort would be a good idea? These were Saiph's memories of the future - a future he and Voldemort shared together . The last place he wanted to be was here, with Voldemort. What if they encountered their future selves? Sweet Merlin, what if they encountered their future selves in a compromising position? Harry couldn't even bear the thought.
He swallowed thickly, as the murky images coalesced together, sight and sound and fragments of light drifting about until it made an unfocused world. He had half a mind to resurface, but hell if he backed out now. Of course his Gryffindor courage would choose now to abandon him.
To his absolute horror, the watery memory came together like ink seeping onto a page; he could somehow recognize the house as the same house from Saiph's other memories. He suddenly understood what Voldemort meant by 'another world'. Unlike the memories the man had planted into Harry's head, this memory seemed complete and coherent, instead of snippets of sound and image, colored with emotions. Seeing a memory through someone's head was quite personal, whereas seeing it through a pensieve provided a bigger picture. At any rate, 'house' may be a bit of an underestimation - sprawling, palatial mansion may be a more fitting description. It was exactly what Harry would have expected of Voldemort, incidentally. He found himself absently wondering if his future self had any say in picking the house - did Voldemort just ignore all his opinions? Or perhaps future Harry cared as much as current Harry did about home designs - which was to say, not at all.
The memory ripples - the small, familiar figure of his young son coming to the forefront as he portkeyed to the front gate.
Harry felt his stomach clench when he caught sight of the boy's expression. He'd never seen something look so lost and alone. It tugged at his heart, and he had to swallow thickly before he was overcome with emotion.
For a long moment, Saiph simply stared at the manor before him, sorrowful gaze somehow sightless, as if a part of him had drifted off somewhere. His duffel bag fell limp off his shoulder, and he released his suitcase to stand beside him - it looked as if he had no intention of actually making it inside. Harry finally looked at the rest of him; he was dressed in a Slytherin uniform, he noticed with surprise. It shouldn't be so surprising - he'd known the boy was in Slytherin, and that he went to Hogwarts. But seeing confirmation for himself somehow made it all feel real .
He'd actually completely forgotten about Voldemort next to him. "What is he doing?" The dark lord asked, and although there was no one else he could possibly be talking to Harry wasn't sure if it was actually directed towards him. "Why is he just standing there?"
Harry turned back to Saiph in the memory - he still hadn't moved, although he was no rubbing his forehead with a forlorn expression, looking as if he was trying his best to remain stoic under overwhelming emotions.
Harry couldn't help but feel for him - he wanted to know what was wrong. He wanted to make it all better, somehow.
The front door slammed open, and they both turned around in muted shock as a wholly unfamiliar girl leaned against the door.
Harry drank in the sight of her. This must be his eldest daughter, then.
She was… exceptionally pretty, was his first thought. She looked like the kind of girl that would turn him into a stuttering mess just by mere existence in near proximity to him. Incidentally, she also looked nothing like he or Voldemort, which was surprising but also rather relieving. It would have been far stranger if she looked like a female version of himself, or Merlin forbid, Voldemort.
"Sai!" She cried, darting out the door and down the massive and imposing front steps. Harry was stunned to see she was dressed like a muggle. "How long have you been standing out there?" When did you get back?"
"Just now," Saiph replied with a lie, looking like he'd recovered himself enough to mask what he was feeling behind a pleasant expression.
She ran past Harry and Voldemort to give Saiph a big hug, before taking her little brother's head in both hands to vigorously mess up his hair. "Stop it!" Saiph's outraged protest was muffled, as his elder sister laughed good-naturedly at him.
She was still laughing as she released him, sauntering over to haul his bag over her shoulder. Saiph glowered at her adorably, running his hands through his hair in a futile effort to tame it. "I hate you, Aster." He scowled.
"What? No one can hate me," she replied breezily without missing a beat. "What blasphemy do you speak of?"
Saiph gave her an unimpressed look, as he moved to grab his suitcase. He blinked. "What's on your face?"
"Huh?" Her hand went to her cheek, returning with some dark residue. She rolled her eyes. "Oh, yeah. Cepheus blew up half the house -
" Again ?" Saiph said, pained.
"And despite my innocence, I have been made to assist him in putting it back together." She shook her head with a dramatic sigh. She gave him an apologetic smile. "I'm sorry we couldn't pick you up, Sai. We got stuck cleaning it up. Blame your brother."
Saiph smiled brightly, but somehow Harry could tell it was completely facetious. "Oh no, it's fine." He shrugged it off. "I'm old enough to portkey by myself, you know." Which was true, it wasn't as if portkeys were inherently that difficult, but it was clear that wasn't the issue here.
"It's the principle of the thing." His sister insisted, voicing Harry's own thoughts, as they made their way up the front steps.
After a beat, he and Voldemort followed, and the memory collapsed behind them.
The front entryway grew into focus little by little, revealing a large space that was spacious and luxurious, but in Harry's eyes it just looked grand and empty. He wondered if he and Voldemort regularly hosted galas or something. The idea made him shrivel his nose in distaste, and he was sure Voldemort would feel the same, but he wasn't sure why else they would have such a large and illustrious house.
They followed the two in silence, as Asterope peppered Saiph with questions about his semester while they walked. Harry learned that she had been a Slytherin as well, when she conspiratorily asked Saiph if he'd found all the secret corridors in the dungeons yet. He also learned that Saiph's least favorite subject was Potions (not surprising) and his favorite was Transfiguration (also not surprising), but he was of course absolutely brilliant in all his studies, and was at the top of his class in all his subjects ( definitely not surprising). Through their conversation Aster also revealed that Cepheus had been in Ravenclaw, and despite outward appearances he was both the more bookish and more adventurous of the two. That would probably explain why he'd blown up part of the house with his experiments.
They finally followed the two to a fully charred corridor, with the roof blown off fully in some places. Aster had clearly been exaggerating when she said he'd blown half the house off (it was an incredibly large house) but all the same it was an impressive amount of damage.
"Ceph! Where are you?" The girl called as she strolled casually through the remains. "Sai is home!"
If Saiph was Voldemort's body double, then Cepheus was Harry's. His hair was far tamer, and in general he somehow managed to look more put together than Harry ever could, but the resemblance was still obvious - he too was also dressed in muggle clothes. The similarities were so striking it was like looking through a warped mirror of some kind. However, he flashed bright sapphire eyes in their direction, grinning sheepishly at his siblings. Harry wondered where he'd gotten those. He found himself sneaking a glance at his memory-perusing companion - did Voldemort actually have blue eyes? The thought was so weird Harry had to focus on the memory around him to distract himself.
Saiph's mood practically did a one-eighty when he caught sight of his older brother. "Ceph!" He shouted, dropping his bags to rush over to the older boy.
"Why didn't I get a greeting like that?" Aster called drily from behind them as she sauntered over, but didn't seem all that concerned.
"Hey Sai," the older boy laughed as he looked down at the young Slytherin wrapped around him. He ruffled his hair affectionately. "When did you get back?"
"A few seconds ago," Saiph lied, pressed into his brother's side.
He pulled away after a moment, looking around with a nonplussed expression. "What did you do this time?"
Cepheus laughed sheepishly. "Ah - I was trying out a new alchemic bonding ritual… clearly I should have set up stronger wards before I started though."
At this, Voldemort's interest piqued. The man walked past Harry, bypassing the three memory-people to scrutinize the rest of the hall closely. He spared a long glance at the blackened parts, and it was then that Harry noticed it wasn't actually full black; there was something almost pattern-like to it. Voldemort followed it into the room Cepheus presumably had been using, as the memory continued on. Harry found himself at a loss, unsure if he should follow.
" - and this is going to take us ages to clean, because it's apparently reactive with magic so we have to scrub it all down by hand before we can start repairing things." Aster was in the middle of lamenting dramatically, to the nonplussed expressions of her siblings.
"No one asked you to be here, Aster." Cepheus retorted with a scowl, causing his sister to stare at him in incredulity. "You don't have to help me."
"Trust me, I don't want to." She retorted, matching his scowl with one of her own. "But Harry practically bit my head off earlier and he said, and I quote, it's my fault because I, 'wasn't keeping a leash on you'!" She folded her arms. "When the hell did I become your keeper, huh?"
Surprisingly, Cepheus laughed. "Harry has clearly given up on trying to drill some sense of responsibility in me." Cepheus noted cheerfully. "So obviously, as the default responsible one, it's your fault for not stopping me."
Aster looked affronted. "I didn't ask to be the responsible one." She hissed, leaning closer and narrowing her eyes at her twin.
It felt so odd to hear himself referred to in casual conversation, even though he'd experienced Saiph's memories of his older self already. He was completely unable to connect his future self with his current self - it felt as if this person they were referring to was a completely different person.
"And anyway," she continued offhandedly, "The old man said we have to have this cleaned up before dinner, so you need all the help you can get."
Harry covered his mouth to muffle his snicker, sneaking a glance towards where Voldemort disappeared to. He wondered if the dark lord had heard himself being referred to as 'the old man'.
Saiph eventually excused himself to go put his things away, leaving Aster and Ceph to bicker away. The only twins Harry had ever known intimately were Fred and George, and in a lot of ways these two reminded him of the identical red-heads. Clearly they weren't identical, but they still had this uncanny symbiosis between them, like something intangible but unmistakably powerful connected them together. Harry found himself simply watching them for a moment, before the memory began to grow dark as Saiph moved further and further away from him.
Harry looked around, but couldn't see Voldemort anywhere.
"Tom?" He called, as everything around him began to fade and crumble away. "Where are you?"
"Do not call me that." A deadly voice returned, and Harry followed it into the preserved remains of Cepheus' experimentation room.
He was surprised to find Voldemort had somehow managed to freeze this section of Saiph's memory even as the memory continued on without them. Perhaps he shouldn't be so surprised though - he was not considered a genius without reason, after all. And he knew Voldemort was exceptionally talented in all mind arts.
The man in question was crouched in the center of the room, where the elaborate pattern was far more distinct than it had been in the hall.
"What is it?" He asked, looking over the man's shoulder. "Did you find something?"
"Fascinating…" The man murmured, either ignoring or completely oblivious to Harry's presence.
Harry found himself smiling slightly despite himself. With such a contrary expression of thought on his face as he intensely studied the ritual remains, Harry could clearly see the young school-aged Tom Riddle in him, so focused and fixated on knowledge.
"This is an incredibly difficult and complicated ritual." Voldemort announced, standing up to his full height fluidly. "It is no surprise the boy messed it up."
The dark lord titled his head thoughtfully, gaze still focused on that same spot. "However, to get so far into such a long and difficult ritual is impressive." He added, not begrudging exactly, but it still looked as if the praise had come out unwillingly.
"What kind of ritual is it, exactly?" Harry found himself asking curiously.
"It is of Hindu origins, I believe." He gestured towards an intricate and oddly hypnotic pattern of burns in the remains of the carpet. "Judging from these runes in particular. It's base appeared to be some sort of Platinum group metal, Iridium most likely… sturdy, but therefore difficult to work with…" It appeared he had descended back into his own thoughts again. "But then why add the Xenon? To use both a transition metal and a noble gas during the primary transmutation stages is considered sacrilegious by modern alchemists…"
He's not making any sense again , Harry noted silently.
"I have no idea what you're saying, but I assume it's important somehow." He said aloud.
Harry half expected the man to retort with some sort of scathing remark about his level of intelligence, but Voldemort only nodded. "Alchemy in general is a difficult practice - this ritual exceedingly so."
Voldemort frowned thoughtfully. "What do the older two do, exactly?"
Harry blinked. "They're in university." He recalled from his dreams, and what Saiph had already told him.
"I see." Voldemort replied inscrutably. "This level of spellwork is beyond the grasp of most experienced alchemists, let alone most wizards."
Harry blinked again. Was that some sort of roundabout way of complimenting Cepheus? If this was how Voldemort offered praise, it was no wonder he made Saiph feel so inadequate all the time, Harry thought with exasperation.
"You can just say he's talented, you know." Harry offered with amusement.
The dark lord scowled. "Of course he's talented." He retorted crossly. "He is my progeny - obviously he should succeed in everything he applies himself to."
Harry managed to keep it together for a couple seconds, before he erupted into laughter. Voldemort looked at him furiously, but it did nothing to deter Harry's amusement.
"Well I certainly don't disagree. I suppose that's one way of putting it, though." Harry said with a smile. He had a sinking suspicion that the Voldemort of the future was actually quite proud of all his children, and if he was the type of parent who went around boasting about their kids he would do it. Since Voldemort would probably be caught dead before he voluntarily praised anyone, he had to disguise it as a backhanded insult instead.
"Do you think this has anything to do with Sai's time travel?" Harry decided a tactful change of subject might be best.
Fortunately, the dark lord took his peace offering, turning away from him dismissively. "It's very possible." He offered, vaguely. "The residual magic in this room would certainly provide a volatile environment - but there would need to be some other kind of catalyst."
Harry sighed. "So it's not the answer."
"No. But it could have been a key factor." Voldemort agreed, looking up where the remains of the ceiling had begun to shake. It was then Harry noticed the edges of the room had begun to blur, large spots of it fading into darkness.
"That's enough for this memory." Voldemort decided, and before Harry knew it they were somehow resurfacing back into reality.
When they returned, Saiph was watching them anxiously, fidgeting in his seat.
"So?" He jumped on them immediately, before Harry could even get over his disorientation. "Did you find anything? What memory was it?"
Voldemort didn't seem in the mood to reply, so the task fell onto Harry. "Well, we might have, but it's hard to say." He replied, holding a steadying hand to his head. "And as for the memory, I think it was your first trip home since starting Hogwarts."
"Oh." Saiph seemed to deflate in relief, which was odd. Harry was still too dizzy to truly pay attention, however, and Voldemort was already pulling another memory out of the jar.
Harry took a breath, the slight vertigo fading away with a rush of oxygen into his lungs. He turned to Saiph with a small smile. "Does Cepheus blow things up often?"
"Once a fortnight, if he's home." Saiph revealed without missing a beat.
Voldemort stilled, turning to them with a mildly horrified look. Harry's face split into a grin. "He's quite the experimenter, isn't he?"
"He's always been like that." Saiph confirmed, a fond smile growing on his face. "He's more curious than a cat."
"I guess that's why he was in Ravenclaw, huh?" Harry noted with good humor, as Voldemort returned to his work.
He tapped his chin. "But Asterope was in Slytherin," he continued aloud, thoughtfully. "On the one hand, she didn't really strike me as a Slytherin, but on the other, I don't think any of the other Houses fit her any better."
Saiph blinked in surprise. "Oh. Huh. That's kind of true, She - Well, the hat tried to put her in Gryffindor, actually." Saiph admitted, causing Voldemort to almost drop his jar behind them. "But she all but strangled it into saying Slytherin instead. How did you know?"
Harry looked just as surprised, before he shook his head with amusement. "Intuition, I guess." He answered sheepishly. Then he laughed. "She didn't want to be in Gryffindor either, I see. Why did she refuse?"
Saiph snorted. "She said there was no way she could put up with the other Gryffindors without growing homicidal." He quoted, sarcastically, before adding; "Although now that I know what she's talking about, and finally met some Gryffindors for myself, I can't help but agree. I think she has a lot of Gryffindor qualities, but not enough to actually be a part of the House."
Harry thought back to the girl in the memory - he could certainly see how that girl could be in Gryffindor. She seemed bizarrely relaxed and friendly for a child of Voldemort, and she had that Gryffindor charm that easily won people over. But still, Harry would be the first to admit Gryffindor's tended to be shallow and vapid, and she didn't strike him as the type to be so unaware.
"What about Cepheus? How did his sorting go? He seems like a total shoo in for Ravenclaw." Harry commented lightly, as they waited for Voldemort to set up the pensieve again.
"Oh definitely," Saiph enthused, swinging his legs underneath his chair as he beamed up at Harry with a silly grin Harry was beginning to realize was exclusively used when talking about his older brother. "I didn't really hear much about his, though. He's not the type to make a big fuss out of things - not like Aster. She just went on and on about it."
"You know for twins, they don't seem very similar." Harry noted wryly - in both appearance and personality.
"You're not the only one who thinks that." Saiph concurred dryly.
"Enough chitchat." Voldemort interrupted coolly. "If we take any longer this will take months, not weeks."
Saiph looked alarmed at the very prospect. Just how many memories did Voldemort plan on viewing, anyhow? When Harry voiced that question aloud the only answer he got was, "as many as it takes".
At any rate, he refused to let Voldemort go alone - and, if he was being honest, his curiosity wouldn't let him pass the opportunity up. He was in equal parts disturbed and fascinated by this strange future he shared with Voldemort. Despite his apprehension, it was constantly - pleasantly - surprising him.
This time, he didn't miss the somewhat unnerved and disconcerted expression on Saiph's face as he watched them disappear down the rabbit hole.
When Harry's vision clears he's in the center of what is undoubtedly a girl's room. All he has to go on is whatever brief glimpses he's had of the Gryffindor girl's dormitory and Ginny's room, but it's enough to give him the strange sensation of being somewhere familiar and yet altogether foreign.
All the teenage girl's rooms he's seen all share a lot of similarities with teenage boys; clothing haphazard and sprawled over every available surface, bed messy, photos and posters plastered on the wall.
Well, he supposes Aster and Ceph aren't quite teenagers any more, if they're in Uni and all, but it doesn't look like Aster is the type to redecorate all that often.
Aster is sprawled out on her bed - utterly unmade, with a few pillows alreading succumbing to the floor - engrossed in some kind of device he's never seen before. It looks muggle; so does her current outfit, and all the clothing on the floor. Fashionably muggle, at that.
Voldemort makes a strangled noise of distaste; Harry isn't sure if he's disgusted by the mess or the outfit.
Saiph isn't wearing robes either, but his outfit is decidedly more sedated. His young son has made himself comfortable on an armchair at the far side of the room by the windows, the only piece of furniture spared from the clothing invasion.
As Harry and Voldemort stand there in the center of the memory, Saiph and Aster continue on in silence, both engrossed in their current activities.
Or maybe Aster isn't as engrossed as she appears, for she calls, wryly, without looking up; "So, does poptimus prime know you have that book, or is that why you're hiding out in my room?"
Voldemort chokes, just as Harry loses it and starts snickering under his breath. He's sure his future self loves all his children - but Asterope probably has a particularly special place in his heart.
Aster finally looks up, head lolling backwards on her pillow to glance at the boy by her window. "I'll take that as a, 'no'?" She hazards dryly, putting down her little device.
Saiph still responds.
"He'll probably just congratulate you for getting past his wards," she points out, blinking upside down at him. "Y'know, after he's finished chewing you out. And my wards aren't gonna hide you forever, buddy."
Saiph slumps a little further in his chair, finally snapping the book shut. "I don't get why I'm not allowed to read them anyway," he complains with a whine. "He treats me like a little kid."
"You are a little kid." Aster reminds him unhelpfully.
Saiph sends her a baleful glance.
"What are you looking up, anyway?" She rolls over to swing her legs on the ground, stifling a yawn. "You've done nothing but read ever since you got back."
"And you've done nothing but play neko atsume ." Saiph retorts, annoyed. "Anyway, I want to know more about necromancy." Saiph says, stubbornly, causing Aster to guffaw loudly.
"Merlin, what is with this family and necromancy? Is it like, a curse or something?" She throws her hands up in the air. "If you want to know that badly, why don't you just ask Harry?"
"He won't tell me either." Saiph pouts.
She stands, giving a long stretch as she yawns again. "Well then maybe you should just let it go. You'll learn it eventually."
Saiph's head whips up, as he stares at his sister in a whole new light. Asterope doesn't notice, rubbing at her eyes as she pulls a jumper over her head and examines herself in the mirror. She makes an expression of horror when she catches sight of her hair, moving to fix it.
"Aster, why don't you just teach me?" He says, looking excited.
"Teach you what?" She doesn't pay him a lick of attention, running her hands through her hair.
"I'm not a necromancer." She deadpans.
"Yeah, but you can make portals and summon demons, right?" Saiph looks far too delighted, given the subject matter at hand.
Saiph puts down his book, bounding up to her. He tugs at her sleeve, looking up at her with wide, beguiling eyes and a hopeful look. Harry is impressed with his manipulativeness; Aster is not.
"Can you teach me? Please?"
"I'm not going to teach you how to summon monsters from different dimensions, Sai." She scoffs.
"Not that!" He insists. "I just want to learn how to open portals. No monsters. Promise."
"Why don't you ask Ceph?"
Saiph gives her a withering, nonplussed look.
"Okay, fair." The girl concedes.
"Please, Aster? Please?" He continues to nag, tugging on the fabric of her jumper.
Asterope looks as if she's about to tell him off again, before she thinks better of it, closing her mouth. An odd expression crosses her face - not quite regret, and not quite sorrow. Her face softens, before she sighs.
"Don't expect to learn it over the break." She warns. "These sort of things take time."
"I know." He all but beams at her.
Voldemort looks like he's just about fed up with all the feelings going around, briskly walking to the seat Saiph vacated. He peers down curiously at the book the boy had been reading, bending down to read the title written scrawled across the spine.
Meanwhile, Aster has began to complain of extreme hunger, telling Saiph they can start his impromptu foray into Necromancy after she's eaten something. Saiph promptly points out she could just get a house elf to fetch them food, but she waves him off, insisting she'd prefer to just get it herself.
As the two leave her room, Harry wanders closer to Voldemort.
"What is it?" He asks curiously, looking over the man's shoulder to get a better look at it. It looks rather unremarkable, but then again, it's just a book.
"I'm not certain," the dark lord says, looking as if it pains him to say it. "However, if the boy is truly attempting to learn how to rip apart the fabric of spacetime I can only conclude that - despite its location in my library - this book came from you."
"From me?" Harry echoes, perplexed. "What do I have to do with spacetime?"
Voldemort spares him a withering look, somehow managing to look envious and menacing at the same time. "Because you are the one who deals with other dimensions."
Harry blinks rapidly. "I do?"
"You are the Master of Death. Or at least, you will be." Voldemort explains impatiently.
"Yes, I know, but I don't know what that means. " Harry retorts with annoyance.
Harry thinks he'll berate him for that too, but a pensive expression clouds Voldemort's face. "I am unsure of what the title means myself." He reveals, begrudging. "All I know comes from the boy. Ask him yourself if you're so interested."
Why wouldn't I be interested? Harry thinks, annoyed. Outwardly he only nods.
Voldemort whirls back around. "We're done here." He decides, before he disappears in front of Harry's eyes.
Harry blinks, staring at the slightly shimmering spot he'd just been standing in. Now that he's surfaced from a memory before he knows how to do it; a bit like forcing yourself awake after a nap.
But for some reason, he doesn't follow the dark lord.
Instead, he runs out of the room, catching Saiph and Aster in the hallway as they walk to the kitchens.
It's not all that hard to catch up to them.
He gets a nice tour of his future house as he follows them, and he has to admit he is privately very impressed. Sixteen year old Harry could never decorate a house tastefully, but adult Harry was clearly capable of it. They pass rooms that are clearly only used for show or for company; pretty but empty and void of personal effects. Then there are the family rooms that are clearly lived in, with pictures and books and little ornaments decorating every surface - those all disappeared as they moved farther away from the bedrooms.
It's not until the two are seated at the kitchen island - Aster demolishing her way through a plate of crisps, Saiph halfway through a bagel - that they finally start talking again.
Harry is an invisible addition, wandering about the kitchen with a curious eye, inspecting everything from the furniture to the appliances. He wishes he could open up the cupboards and see what lay inside, but unfortunately he couldn't touch anything in the memory.
He's not paying much attention to the low murmurs behind him; not until he hears his name.
"I'm assuming he's the reason you want to learn," Aster is in the middle of saying.
Saiph looks down at his plate, nudging it back and forth with his finger. "I guess." He admits, sullen.
Aster lets out a long breath, smoothing out light hair from her eyes. "It's not going to change anything, you know." She says, quietly.
"I know." Saiph agrees, deflating. "But I just - I hate that I can't see him. I hate that he's gone sometimes and there's nothing I can do but wait." He bites his lip fiercely, blinking rapidly. "I feel so helpless."
"You're not the only one." She reveals with a mournful smile. "But there's nothing we can do."
Saiph shakes his head, head lowered until his expression is obscured by his hair. Asterope sighs, reaching over to ruffle his hair. When he finally looks up, his eyes are shining. "What if he leaves, and then never comes back?" He asks, voice thick with emotion.
"Harry would never do that." She soothes, sounding absolutely sure of herself.
"How can I believe that?" Saiph returns, voice cracking. "What if the next time it happens, he finally gets so fed up he just leaves? And leaves for good?"
Aster completely gives up the pretense of eating, turning in her chair to grasp Saiph's hands in hers. "Sai, listen to me," she says, looking him in the eye. "If he leaves for good, then he leaves for good, but no matter what happens he's not leaving you , okay? This is not about you, or me, or Ceph, or Cassi. Whatever the outcome, Harry will still be there for you."
Saiph nods, even though he doesn't look encouraged in the least. If anything, he looks even more disparate. "But it won't be the same." He whispers.
Aster smiles sadly. "No," she agrees, voice just as quiet. "No it won't."