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Only Power Remains by Jade Sterling
Chapter 4: Chapter Four
She had seen Tom Riddle three times in the past week, but they had not stopped to speak to one another. Jade did not wish to go out of her way to purposely annoy herself. The first time she had spotted him they were in the common room during a break in classes.
Tom had managed to surround himself with four girls who she hated to admit were mildly acceptable people. Amelina Vance happened to be the only exception; she looked as if she were about to drool all over his rucksack like a hungry puppy. Tom smiled at Jade who scoffed disapprovingly before marching into her room. The second time she had seen him was during breakfast Tuesday morning, she had been looking over her essay when she heard Currier Avery’s voice.
Jade could hear the sound of soft whispers between her bites of crunching cereal. As she had always been an exceedingly nosy individual she subtly turned her head to the right to hear the conversation more clearly.
“My Lord, you really think it wise-“
“I will not hear another word about it, Avery.” She nearly dropped her spoon when she heard the voice that responded. It was Tom Riddle responding to being called Lord by his friend! Jade could have squealed in excitement at the news, she could not wait to rub in his pompous face that she’d learned this.
“But, my Lord, it’s just not safe. She doesn’t understand!” Currier had always been a bit of a crybaby. When he failed to make the Slytherin quidditch team in his second year of school he sulked about the castle for months. Alphard consistently reminding him that he could not even manage to make it on the team as broom boy did not help.
“Avery, if you make one more sound about the matter I can assure you that you will never be able to speak again.” Jade smiled widely into her bowl at those words. She turned her head further to the right and saw Tom and Currier staring back at her. Jade bit the top of her thumb at the two before sliding out of her chair and making her way into the library.
The final time she had noticed him was in the library late Thursday night. Jade had completed her defence against the dark arts essay on advanced werewolf defence techniques (a topic which Jade found extremely elementary,) when she had seen him sitting in a large sofa behind a bookcase.
His head was resting on one of the arms of the chair and his feet were swung over the other. His feet lightly bobbed in the air to a rhythm he must have been humming in his head. His large hands were stretched behind his head and his book was resting on his legs. Jade had never imagined she would find him sitting in such a vulnerable position.
He had not a care in the world beyond his book; Jade could feel blood rushing into her cheeks. His oil lamp flickered slightly as he reached to turn his page; he was half grinning at the book in front of him. Tom never looked up from the book and she quietly tiptoed past him and went to her bedroom for the night.
The week had crawled by so slowly that it was painful; each day was like a knife pressed further into Jade’s eyeball. School had become almost a chore; she had read so far ahead in her classes that it was nearly impossible for her to learn anything new. Classroom time had been spent absent mindedly swishing her wand back and forth, pretending to read, or doing her best to stay awake.
"Jade… Jade. JADE!" Instantly jumping awake, her eyes bugging, Jade attempted to take in her surroundings. The groggy scene revealed itself to be an otherwise empty Arithmancy classroom. "Are you alright?" Looking for the familiar voice Jade turned around in her chair, her eyes still trying to adjust to the light.
"Oh, Dahlia." Dahlia Alston had been one of the girls Jade had spent time with during school. She was tall, standing nearly 5 inches higher than Jade. Her blonde hair hung just above her shoulders, and her blue eyes shone bright with amusement.
"Dahlia, do not look at me like that!" Jade smacked her friends arm with her brand new peacock feather quill that her mum had owled from home.
Audrey had a habit of sending Jade gifts whenever she had been ignoring her daughter’s owls for more than a month. Their family hawk Merlin had delivered the quill this morning – with no letter attached. Jade snorted as she gave the bird her last bite of toast. Mum had a funny way of showing she was sorry.
"I'm not doing a thing, Jade!" Dahlia picked up her friend’s belongings and hastily dropped them inside her bag. "But, I'm hoping YOU do something so we aren't late to Charms!"
"Dahlia, such a hard working student. I can only hope to be as studious as you some day." She smiled and patted her friend on the cheek. Dahlia did not have the greatest track record for keeping up with studies and being on time. Had Jade not dragged her from her bed every morning Dahlia would have been shipped back to Ireland to her parents after their second year.
"Really! It took me 5 minutes to wake you! You were snoring and drooling the whole time during class and you kept saying 'Oh, Tom! OH, TOM! TOM!" Jade’s face flushed, and Dahlia burst out in a loud laughter. "I'm only joking!"
"Oh, you're an evil little bitch!" Jade stood and took her bag from Dahlia as they continued out of the classroom and into the busy hallway. "Merlin, these first years get smaller and more in the way every fucking year, it's enough to make anybody go mad!"
"Maybe you're just getting bigger!" Dahlia squeezed an inch of fat off Jade’s side. Jade cackled and pushed Dahlia’s shoulder. She adored Dahlia, she was quick and honest and Jade appreciated her sense of humour. They climbed up the third and final staircase toward the classroom.
"I don't understand why they moved charms to the sixth floor. The third floor was just fine!" Dahlia groaned loudly as she gasped for breaths of fresh air. “This exercise is hazardous for my health!” Dahlia was stick thin and the fact she found walking up stairs a rigorous exercise amused Jade greatly.
"You just don't like having to walk very far to dinner, I'm sure the 10 minute interlude between class and food is absolutely dreadful."
"I should really just stop eating so many bangers! I may have to borrow some robes from Sluggy if I'm not careful!" Jade made a gagging noise and the girls snickered as they walked into the full charms classroom.
"You're late," Professor Whittard boomed, startling the students who had just began to read the text in their book.
"Sorry, Professor. Peeves was blocking the hallway on the fifth floor to the moving staircase, so we had to walk all the way around near the Brutus the be-"
"Fine.” He threw his large hands into the air in front of his face. “Just sit and read chapter 2, and do not even consider sitting next to each other." Jade rolled her eyes as she frowned at Dahlia.
She never sat in the back. Her usual spot was in the very front, which looks to have been taken by an ugly poof of brown hair belonging to a Hufflepuff. Jade rolled her eyes and shook her head. Although the classroom did not have assigned seating, everybody should know that she sits there. She has never sat anywhere else during charms.
"Well, what a surprise. Who would have known I would be so lucky today." Her eyes flicked to the left of where she sat.
"And who would have known I would have been so unfortunate?" She stared down at her book, insistent upon not looking at the owner of the deep voice beside her. “Of course I would pick the one seat in the classroom I did not want,” she whispered.
"How rude, Sterling, how very, very rude of you." The voice was cold with annoyance.
"I am not being rude, I am being honest," she retorted hotly.
"You have to be the most miserable person I’ve ever been in the presence of.”
"I don't care at all what you've to say of me,” she hissed under her breath. Professor Whittard was staring at the young Slytherins, looking as if he could murder them on the spot. "If you get me in trouble, Abraxas, I will not hesitate curse your large nose right off of your face so you stop sniffing your way into my business.” He rolled his eyes.
"Don’t be so ignorant, you know you don’t get into trouble. You lie your way out of everything. Those boobs of yours must help, although they’re rather small if you ask me.” He leaned closer while he poked her breast with the tip of his finger. Jade turned toward him, her eyes narrow.
"Do…not…ever…" In an instant she had stabbed the end of her quill through the flesh of his hand. Abraxas, who had not been expecting any sort of retaliation, let out a short yelp. He held onto his pale hand as dark red blood had begun to trickle through his fingers and onto the table in front of him.
The whole classroom had turned around to see the commotion; however Jade did not bother to look at the shocked students as she packed her items into her bag. She quickly exited the classroom ignoring Professor Whittard’s shouts, “MISS STERLING! I WILL HAVE YOU KNOW I’LL TELL PROFESSOR DIPPET ABOUT THIS!”
Abraxas had only ever said anything to her when he knew he was within safe distance of a teacher so Jade could never have the chance to really harm him. It was highly annoying to Jade that he had taken to harassing her whenever he had the chance. It did not help that she had been feeling especially bitter after realizing Abraxas never planned on allowing her the book; the encounters with Tom last week did not calm her either.
Jade made her way into the library to bring the worthless book back, she had given up and had to admit to herself that Riddle was correct. It was a waste of time to read, and she had done so over ten times. She had managed to convince herself nine times in a row that she had just been missing a sentence that contained the vital information that she needed most.
"Finally bringing back zis book zat you took almost a week ago?" Monsieur Atherol raised his eyebrows suspiciously at the book in front of his face. "Eef you remember, girl, you did not even bother to check zis book out! I had to look through every book in ze restricted section to find out which you had taken!" Atherol's thick French accent dripped with resentment.
"Pardon moi, Monsieur. Je suis désolé. Il ne se reproduira pas." Jade’s mother had insisted that she learn French when she was a child, and it had proven to be rather useful with Atherol, as he constantly mumbled about the ugly English language under his breath. He simply rolled his eyes, which Jade accepted as opposed to a punishment. "Merci." She smiled sweetly at the old man as he snatched the book from her hands and turned his back to her.
The fact that Monsieur Atherol had not fallen over dead from a heart attack surprised students more and more every year. He had to be over 100 by now, and he had daily panic attacks that took place in front of any unsuspecting student. During Jade’s first year at Hogwarts she had been studying in the library when she had been caught in the wake of one of his fits. She had been too rough while turning the pages in her own personal journal. His face had turned puce and his eyes went wide; she had never seen anybody look so mental in her life.
Jade walked deep into the library, passing tables of students pouring over newspapers and magazines, and even the occasional book. The towering bookcase near the back wall housed what she needed, a book about advanced transfiguration. Of course, they hadn't gotten into human transfiguration in class yet, but she did not have the patience to wait for Professor Dumbledore to begin the course work.
All the way towards the back and at the top of the bookcase would hold what she needed. Atherol had a system of putting the more advanced books out of reach of most students, in hopes they would not want to put forth the effort to get to the book, and choose something more modest instead.
However, Jade was not modest, and was soon climbing up the bookcase, reaching toward the ceiling. Books of transfiguring animals and small objects were bountiful; she had found a particularly interesting book detailing large items, which could prove to be rather useful.
She gave one last great heave and pulled herself up onto another shelf. She had climbed so far up she nearly had to turn her head from hitting the ceiling. The climb had been worth it, staring back at her was a small pink book with gold block words on the spine, Theories of Transubstantial Transfiguration. Jade smiled as she grabbed the book from the shelf.
"Oi!" The noise startled Jade and she had almost lost her balance. Of all the insolent… She looked down at the floor to see a young girl staring up at her. Eileen Prince.
Such an unfortunate looking girl, she was in her second year at Hogwarts and had managed to be more ugly now than the day she started. Jade only knew the name because the hat had sorted her only seconds before the young little thing squished herself between Jade and Currier Avery in the great hall. Under normal circumstances she would have been extremely irritated at the insolence of such a little brat, but Jade had an overwhelming sense of appreciation for her gusto.
"Do you need help?" the young girl asked.
"Of course I don't need help, you stupid girl. But, if you insist, you could help by not startling me when I'm near the ceiling." Jade climbed down from the bookcase and glared at the short girl in front of her. "Eileen, what were you thinking, catching me off guard like that?"
"I'm really sorry!" She smiled, displaying her pointed yellow teeth. Jade found Eileen’s mouth to be quite offensive; ignoring the glaring faults this girl was beginning to be extremely difficult.
"Eileen, I don't know why I've taken to you the way I have, but you should be so pleased that I did," Jade noted absently. She attempted to walk past the girl but Eileen stepped in front of her.
"I heard what you did to Abraxas." Merlin, news travelled fast around this castle.
"It happened not even a half hour ago! People here and their mouths." The castle was notorious for spreading rumours in less than an hour. Something that could be rather useful when needed, and wholly aggravating when things should be best left untold.
"Oh, well, it was Abraxas who told me. He was on his way to the hospital wing; his right arm was wrapped up in a cloak all the way to his shoulder! It sounded bad!" Eileen’s brown eyes were wide and filled with fear as she stared up toward Jade. Of course Abraxas had been crying about it. Undoubtedly a howler would be awaiting Jade in the morning, freshly written by his over-protective mum.
"Hardly, it was a flesh wound, Eileen. You think I would physically harm somebody?" Eileen had the false impression that Jade was one of the kindest Slytherins at Hogwarts despite her best attempts to dissuade the young girl. “Now, Eileen, run along, I’m busy.”
Jade awkwardly patted her hand on top of Eileen's head, unsure of how to shoo the girl away. Much to her extreme displeasure, long strands of the girls greasy hair stuck to the palm of he hand. "Eileen, honestly, your hair is awful." Eileen’s eyes suddenly filled with tears, her bottom lip shook fervently.
"Tha…that was SO MEAN!" The girl did not say another word before bolting off behind a bookcase leaving Jade standing seemingly alone.
"Some people are so sensitive.” She shrugged her shoulders and looked back down toward the cover of her book.
"You know, it was rather mean." Jade’s eye twitched. That voice.
"Where do you even come from? It's like you're a fly that I just cannot get rid of." Tom Riddle stepped out the shadow of the bookcase and smiled at her.
"Now, now, Sterling, if I were a fly I would be on top of you all the time, a rather ideal situation if you ask me." He raised his eyebrows at her suggestively.
"You’re sick." she spat.
“Although we have been over this many times before, I will again reiterate that it’s all a part of my charm.” Tom crossed his hands behind his back and began to walk toward the end of the bookcase. She turned her head to watch him go but he had stopped short. “Speaking of charms, Sterling. I saw what you did to Abraxas.” He turned on his heel to face her once more.
"You're in my charms class?" Jade inquired. She wanted to deflect the conversation about the stabbing all together. Abraxas was one of Tom’s close friends and she would much rather bypass the scolding coming her way.
"Of course I am. In fact, I’m almost positive we have identical schedules.” He shook his head. “However, I prefer to lay low during classes, I don't want to get the reputation of a know-it-all."
"I've never met somebody more self absorbed," she added, attempting to sound indifferent.
"Says the girl with a guide book to human transfiguration in her hand," he quickly shot, a sick smirk crawling over his lips.
"How did yo-" Tom held his hand up to her face and pushed his index finger against her bottom lip.
"You always think I'm hiding from you, but you just tend not to pay attention. I stood in the shadow of a bookcase, hardly a disguise. I was the one that put that book so far up on the bookcase." He eyed the place the book had sat on the shelf. "Although, now I don’t regret putting it there, your white knickers are rather lovely today."
Her cheeks glowed red as she tugged down on her pleated skirt. “You think you’re so clever, don’t you?” Tom simply smirked and cocked his head to the left.
"I cannot believe you stabbed Abraxas with a quill. You have a wand, why not use it instead? You are a witch not some sort of filthy muggle warrior.” Tom shook his head at her.
"Anybody could harm Abraxas with a wand.” Jade shrugged. “I assumed it would be much more harmful to his ego if I managed to cause him pain with something other than magic."
Tom stepped close and stared unwaveringly into her eyes. "Sterling, magic is might."
Magic is might… the words tasted sweet in Jade’s mouth, and they were left for her to chew on for a few moments. Tom’s unforgiving eyes examined her face as she licked her bottom lip.
"That's right, Sterling, magic, the magic that we possess, is might." Jade stared at his dark eyes; she was breathing heavier, and her mouth became wet from the information. Tom reached toward her and grabber her hand. Their skin touching ignited Jade’s entire body, the warmth flowing through their skin overwhelmed her and a small gasp escaped her mouth. "You will see, Jade, with magic all that can be, will be." They were leaning in closer and closer, the warmth of their skin burned Jade’s fingers, her heart fluttered inside of her chest.
Jade was frozen with apprehension. Never would she have imagined they would be in this situation. Of course she found him to be evil, nasty, inappropriate, bossy, irritating, and a complete know-it-all; in this moment, however, she found him to be intriguing, intelligent, handsome, and worthy. She let out a hot breath and took a small step back while he pressed forward.
“I’ll be seeing you, Riddle.” Tom did not say a word as she passed by him.
Pardon moi, Monsieur. Je suis désolé. Il ne se reproduira pas.
Excuse me, Sir. I'm sorry. It will not happen again.