Disclaimer: I will like Avada Kedavra someone just to okay. Don't keep reminding me.

"Tom." The Matron's voice was strained. Tom hummed noncommittedly.

"Tom," she said again, "did you take an injured baby, without telling anyone, outside for almost the entire day, yesterday?"

Tom closed the book he was reading and lifted up his head to stare at the Matron who barged into his peace and quiet. Harry was sleeping soundly next to him, a content smile fixed on his face. He had been exhausted from yesterday's adventures. A small smile grew on Tom's face as he recalled the spell he cast on the incompetent Healer they had the misfortune to meet.

The Matron cleared her throat loudly, distracting Tom from his amusement.

"So what if I did?" Tom asked dangerously, to her question.

"He's a child!" the Matron yelled at him. "For God's sake, Tom, anything could have happened. And I had no way of contacting you. Do you know how worried sick I was?"

Tom sneered. "You have tons of other children in here to care for. Don't worry about Harry. In fact, show him the same amount of care and concern you showed me, Matron."

The Matron was livid. "You are endangering the child. It was a mistake to ever put him here with you. Your past experiences say enough."

Brown eyes bled to crimson. "How dare you?" he hissed. "Look at the children here. They are starving because of the war and you are telling me Harry would be safer with you? I experienced your wonderful protection Matron. And look at how I turned out."

"Give Harry to me, Tom."

"Over my dead body," he snarled, ignoring the small, dismayed voice shouting in his head about his blatant display of possessiveness.

"I'll tell Professor Dumbledore," she informed him coldly.

"Oh, go ahead," Tom sneered. "Let's see what he can do," He hoped she would not see through his bluff. He blinked when she just smiled, her ire vanishing.

"Oh, Tom. I won't contact him. I've seen you with Harry and it's only been five days and you are already enamored with him. But he's not yours to keep, Tom. The child needs to socialize with children his own age. He can't be dependent on you forever. What will happen when you go back to that school of yours?"

Tom was thrown off balance by the Matron's change of tactics and was reluctantly impressed by her attempt of the good cop and bad cop. Though, he wondered if it was an act at all or just her crazy personality.

"I'll burn that bridge when I get to it. For now, it's none of your concern," Tom said stiffly. "And," he swallowed painfully, "Harry may play with the children, if it will get him to talk."

Hopefully, that would make her pause to stop and rethink her decision to contact the barmy old coot.

"Wonderful!" the Matron smiled. "I will get Miss Ellie to bring in the little ones who are done with their feeding time to your room." She left the room, humming happily.

Tom stared at the spot she left in horror. Children. Muggle children. Filthy Muggle children in his room. Tom wondered if while he was reading he died and had somehow descended into hell without him noticing. Harry, of course, decided it was the perfect time to wake up. He yawned adorably (?) and stared sleepily at Tom with his wide, enchanting eyes.

Tom whimpered. "You're the cause of all my suffering," he whispered accusingly. Harry just blinked at him, and Tom was sure his expression was saying, 'you're so dramatic Tom.'

"It's true," he insisted. "You have no idea how many horrible things are happening to me because of you." Harry eeped and just fell on Tom's lap and stared up at him with a smile. Tom leaned closer towards him, but before he could speak, the child grabbed his cheeks with his small little fists and started patting them. Tom closed his eyes, breathing in mingling baby breath and warm milk.

There was a knock on his door. Tom quickly assumed a more dignified position, or as dignified as one could be with a baby on your lap that was patting your cheek and drawled, "come in."

The annoying girl, Eldie or whatever, walked in, holding a child who looked much bigger than Harry and two other children on her tow. Tom hid a shudder as he watched drool drip from the larger boy's mouth. The other two children, a girl, and a boy, who looked to be around three or four looked hesitantly at the older girl. They looked alike, so Tom presumed they were twins.

"Go on," the Missus said encouragingly, giving Tom a nervous look. She set the revolting boy she was holding on his bed and Tom had to bite back a snarl just as he did the last time the Matron sat on his bed. The girl gestured the twins to get on the bed as well. They did so, albeit reluctantly, the twin nearest to him giving Tom a wary look.

Harry watched all of this with a blank expression, though Tom could have sworn the child curled his lip at the bigger boy who was now making a slobbering mess of Tom's bed. Tom smirked, ignoring his own disdain. He pushed Harry towards the boy.

"Why don't you play, Harry," he said generously, giving Harry his widest smile. Harry gave him such a betrayed and dismayed look that Tom had to chuckle. The childminder watched their interaction with wide eyes.

"I hope you can occupy them for a while?" Tom inquired the girl, looking down at her even though he was on the bed and she was towering over all of them with her lanky limbs.

"Oh, yes," she gulped.

Tom smiled blandly. "Excellent." He picked up his Transfiguration book, which was spelled to show something else to Muggles, and resumed reading, blatantly ignoring Harry's looks of despair.

"T'im," was Harry's first word. Tom tried not to wallow himself in misery.

"Harry," he said very patiently. "I can handle Tom. Even Riddle his fine. Better yet, Marvolo. But for the love of Gallopin' Gorgons, please do not call me that monstrosity, Harry."

"T'im," Harry repeated, sucking on his thumb. Tom had long given up on forcing him out of the habit. And people accused him of being stubborn.

"T'im. T'im-"

"Oh for Merlin's sake!" Tom snarled and slapped a hand on the baby's mouth. The child stared at him with large, guileless eyes.

"I am not falling for that look," Tom warned. "I am a master at all types of deception, so I am absolutely immune to your power, no matter how wide you stretch those pretty little eyes of yours. In fact, I find your attempts to manipulating me pathetic."

Harry stared for another two seconds with big, adorable eyes, before laughing loudly and clapping his hands. His little pink feet quivered as his body trembled in excitement. Tom immediately let go of the child's mouth when he blew a large raspberry.

"Ack!" Tom shrieked (in an extremely manly way), staring at his sticky hand in horror. He turned accusing eyes towards Harry, who was giggling merrily, his left thumb firmly secured in his mouth.

"Disgusting brat," Tom muttered, rushing to the washroom so he could wash his hands of the slime. When he returned, the child was on his back, kicking its legs in the air. Harry, seeing Tom, tried to sit up, making nonsense sounds. Tom immediately helped him up and Harry's eyes lit up as he stared at Tom adoringly. As Tom leaned closer to the baby's face, the child took his thumb out of his mouth and placed his wet hand on Tom's cheeks.

"T'im!" Harry screamed, wildly patting Tom's face and the teenager closed his eyes resignedly, cursing his fate.

He could not sleep. Harry was breathing softly, fast asleep, curled near him. Tom could not put the child on the fraying crib without a good conscience, not if the blasted thing looked like it was going to fall apart any second even without any extra weight burdened on top of it.

Tom laid on his back, his brown eyes dull as he thought deeply. He was in love with Harry. He couldn't fool himself any longer.

Tom had never felt like this before. He was almost sure that what he was feeling was the same weak emotion that he had glimpsed in his classmates' eyes when they gazed at their partners or family members. The useless emotion that rendered every wizard and muggle alike to useless and pathetic beings. The emotion that Tom, himself had used to his advantage to hold leverage over his followers, ahem, acquaintances, whenever they held his ire. He had found it amusing when his classmates and even some children in the orphanage fell in its trap and always had seen them as pitiful for letting their emotions rule them.

Now, Tom had also fallen trapped. And for the first time in a long while, Tom felt unsure. He didn't like the feeling- no he wasn't sure about that either. The feeling had made him worried sick, his thoughts spirling in a frenzy when he imagined Harry in grave danger. But the feeling also made his chest warm and cause his lips to upturn naturally. Love made him feel needed and extremely possessive of Harry. And Merlin, he had tried. He had tried to distance himself from the child who wormed into his heart deeper every day, but one wobegone look from Harry, had him melting right into the baby's small hands.

And if he couldn't make himself distant and cold to Harry, if he couldn't even let the boy out of his sight for a mere ten minutes, how in Merlin's name was he going to leave his child all alone in this cold, dreadful orphanage while he went to Hogwarts. And for the first time since he learned of magic, Tom contemplated of not going to Hogwarts. Because though Hogwarts was his home and he drank its walls and magic like a starving man every time he saw the castle again after his long summers, he had never felt this happiness- this love- he felt when he was with Harry.

Tom rolled over on to his side to stare at the sleeping child, who looked so tiny and innocent as his little fingers clutched Tom's muggle shirt tightly, and he felt his chest clutch something fierce that knocked his breath out.

He reached out to caress Harry's soft, dark locks of hair and whispered in the dark. "What are we going to do?"

The only answer that came was Harry's soft breathing as his tiny chest rhythmically rose and fell in deep sleep.