I see Harry’s relationship to Tom as his most important on the ship. Period. He is close to others, especially B’Elanna, but Tom is special, and has been since their meet cute in Quark’s bar. Fresh out of the Academy, on his first assignment, on his first ship, on his first day – and he chooses to stand up to two of the most senior officers on the ship on behalf of the questionably charming criminal he just met. It reminds me of another Harry, Potter, when he chooses Ron over Draco their first day. And if Voyager wasn’t lost, and Tom went back to finish his sentence, Harry would be stuck on the ship working under people he’d disrespected on day one. That’s very interesting to me. Another example of Harry’s quiet bravery.
So, best friends, who love each other, is canon in my viewing. Best friends who are in love with each other – yes and no. Certainly I read Harry as closer to and more attracted to Tom (and fwiw also B’Elanna) than any of his canonical love interests. And I read Tom as a little in love with basically everyone because he considers himself so unlovable. Harry is special to Tom, absolutely, but not exactly the way Tom is special to Harry. I think Tom (and fwiw also B’Elanna) considers Harry to be too good for them, the best of them. He thinks Harry deserves better – and he’d feel a lot of guilt about it. Tom is really good at guilt, almost as good at guilt as Kathryn is – and B’Elanna, and Chakotay, there’s a lot of guilt on that ship. Harry’s different because he doesn’t carry around all that guilt. He’s healthier.
Season 1: Harry and Tom become close right away. Of everyone, Harry is the most upset about being lost in the DQ. His life had a plan – everything we learn about his family and past suggests he lived a charmed, sheltered life (also: I think he’s engaged to Libby because he’s supposed to be, not because he’s particularly attached. She’s pretty and kind and fits into his bubble, but I don’t see a lot of passion in what we get of their relationship.) and getting trapped 70+ years away from home and family is nothing he imagined. Tom was his first friend on the ship, they even met before the ship, by minutes but still, and he clings to that familiarity because it’s the best he’s got out here. Add the second person he gets close to, B’Elanna, who he goes through a traumatic experience with, and then works most closely with, and it makes sense the three of them end up a trio (and for sure I can see it as a romantic triad, though not this early).
And Tom – Tom needs friends, right off, that’s the number one thing we learn about Tom. He’s actually terrible at being the loner he thinks he has to be/deserves to be. He glomps on to Harry, Kathryn, B’Elanna, Kes, even Neelix and Chakotay. Tom tries to be a bad boy, heartbreaker, buried feelings, laugh it off, basic jerk but he’s TERRIBLE at it. And Harry chooses to be Tom’s friend, eyes open.
Season 2: So “Non Sequitur” and “Twisted” happen back to back and make it clear that Tom and Harry are each other’s most important person. As I say in my photocap, Harry pretty much explicitly chooses Tom over Libby so that’s a thing. And during the montage of people choosing who to spend their possible last minutes with in “Twisted”, Tom chooses Harry. If I were to insert a P/K romance into canon this is where I’d do it.
Season 3: S3 brings us “The Chute” which is probably the shippiest Paris/Kim episode, but also an ode to friendship, and both interpretations are pretty great. Tom and Harry spend the entire episode sweaty and share a bed, and then Harry risks his life for Tom and Tom acknowledges it for the declaration of love it was. All GREAT. And if they’d lived the rest of their lives in that prison, at least they’d have been together (and together, I’m sure of it).
But S3 also brings Paris and Torres closer together (I love them, but do feel for Harry) and an alternate timeline where Harry marries Tom and Kes’s daughter (yikes).
Season 4-series end: Seven arrives, Paris/Torres are a couple, and Harry fades into the background. He’s still Tom’s bestie, he still has a crush, and if the P/K romance I mentioned earlier happened I can easily imagine P/T and P/K evolving into P/T/K. But it’s all a bit back burnered.
S5′s “Timeless” is another one of those ‘Harry throws away his whole life to get back to Tom’ episodes but other than that the best we get are scenes of fun in the holodeck and a conversation here and there.
SO: I think Harry loves Tom and Tom loves Harry. I think Tom might initiate a physical relationship that he would instantly regret (because he thinks he’s using Harry). I think Harry half resigns himself to being in unrequited love with Tom. I think Harry, Tom, and B’Elanna could have a great threeway relationship if they could get over their collective individual hang ups about being worthy of it. And I hope Harry found love when he got home.
Finally, I think this has been in my inbox for at least 6 months so thank you for your incredible patience, I hope it is worth the wait.