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Chapter 24: All But Perfect
I was bound, again, as always. I could never get, or even look away. Grindelwald never stopped laughing, my mother never stopped sobbing that I was a traitor, and Tom never came to rescue me like I always hoped he would.
Grindelwald had me, and even though I knew it was a dream, it still chilled me to my very bones. Flashes of the aunt I never knew haunted me, the idea of a muggle girl that looked like me lying mutilated on the porch of my mother’s home.
Grindelwald was laughing, tossing spells at me that only nearly missed. Then he melted away and I was falling, screaming. It was dark then, but I wasn’t alone. A snake coiled beside me, though it was much larger than Nagini, and much more deadly. I closed my eyes and wished it away, and I felt it slip past me and into a tunnel, like a pipe.
I opened my eyes, thinking it was gone. And I died.
I jerked awake, unable to breathe. The only sound was my own gasping for a few moments as I realized I was alive, that I hadn’t been captured, that I hadn’t died thanks to the snake. The basilisk. Slytherin’s monster.
Tom had decided a few weeks ago that the monster he was to control was a basilisk. An ancient snake of fifty feet, with deadly venom and a stare that dealt instant death.
I had thought it was a joke when he told me.
Surely such a creature was the stuff of nightmares, of fantasy. Nothing like this snake could exist, especially not in the safe haven of Hogwarts. It was impossible, and yet, I found no way to disprove it. The more Tom studied it, the more the chamber became reality, the closer he came to unveiling it. He was going to find it. I knew he wouldn’t stop now, not now that he knew such a magnificent creature was waiting for him.
But where? Where would Slytherin be able to hide a snake like that? Where could it live so that it wouldn’t escape, or hurt anyone accidentally? How would it even get around without killing everyone in the school with its deadly stare? I shuddered, my dream filling my mind again, the horror of feeling the scales of a monster on your skin, of opening your eyes only to die for it. Thinking you were safe and being wrong, thinking a monster had left you alone only to find that it had not burrowed away into the wall but was right in front of you.
I gasped, a shock of surprise strangling me momentarily. The walls.
That was it.
How would a snake live in Hogwarts, other than underground, unseen? Beneath the halls, under the dungeons, and inside the walls. Only a snake could fit inside the smallest passages of the school, able to reach every floor, every area, and every student. The walls. The pipes.
My body rose on its own, it seemed. I couldn’t keep this to myself. I had to tell Tom. My heart was beating dangerously fast with my realization. This was it. The chamber was underground, a place of walls and pipes and access to the entire school.
As if carried by something larger than myself, I flew out of bed in nothing but my nightgown, hair tangled and loose around over my shoulders. My bare feet made no sound as I slid up the stairs to the boys’ dormitories, stopping at the one marked with a five.
The room was bathed in silver light from the moon. Tom’s curtains were closed of course, so different than the other boys; they were all splayed openly across their beds, heads lolling off the sides, exposed and vulnerable. I pushed the heavy velvet curtain aside and had to stop myself from throwing my arms around the beautiful boy it revealed.
But I had more important things to do than dwell on my secret, unrequited love. And this would be worth so much more to Tom than if I fell upon him with kisses and words of affection.
“Tom,” I whispered, climbing up next to him. I gently—well, as gently as I could manage through my excited trembling—shook his shoulder. “Tom, wake up—”
He woke with a startled shudder, his arms flying up instinctively and grasping me around the shoulders, as if to push an attacker away.
“It’s me!” I whisper yelled, covering his mouth before he could speak and wake everyone up. “Listen to me, it’s about the chamber. The basilisk.”
At these words, his grip on me loosened somewhat, and I moved my hands to his shoulders as if to brace him for what I was going to say.
“Anna, what on Earth—”
“It’s the pipes, Tom. That’s it. The basilisk could use the pipes to get around the school. The chamber has to be underground; somewhere the basilisk could reach the plumbing system. It has to be, it’s the only thing that makes sense!”
There was a moment when we were quiet, our breathing so similarly quick, my body rigid with anticipation of what he would say to me.
I couldn’t see his face very well, but by the sliver of moonlight that had invaded his bed, I saw his dark eyes widen. They never left my face, and he said:
I found it hard to form words now that I realized his hands were still on my shoulders, and that I could feel the warmth of his body all along my side.
I couldn’t help the little laugh of pure joy that escaped my lips. I could think of nothing to say that could possibly convey how happy I was that he thought so, but it didn’t seem I had to.
Tom pulled me down by my shoulders, wrapping his arms around me and forcing out an involuntary gasp. I couldn’t think, I didn’t know what I could do or how I should act. So I let myself respond impulsively for once, resting my head on his chest and allowing my own hands to slide up into his thick hair.
I could hear my heart beating in my chest and throat, feel every particle of me tingling. I wasn’t sure if I was feeling love or desire or triumph at first. I found I didn’t care. As long as I was lying in Tom Riddle’s arms, it didn’t really matter.
But I think it might have been happiness.
I woke up alone. At first, I thought that Tom had somehow gotten me back to my own bed, but after pulling back the curtains by the bed I discovered I was still in his dormitory. After a moment of pure confusion, I leapt up and ran, realizing how important it was no one found out I spent the night there. I had almost made it to the common room and was privately thinking I was incredibly lucky it was no one had seen me when:
And there I was, on the threshold of the boy’s dormitories in nothing but my nightgown, probably looking very guilty indeed. And the person who had caught me was none other than Rachel.
I watched her mouth drop in surprise, then curl up in understanding. Or what she thought she understood.
“Wow Anne, I didn’t know you were sleeping up there,” she said casually, pulling an envelope out of her robes.
“No, of course I didn’t sleep up there! Don’t be ridicu—”
“Professor Slughorn wanted me to give you this,” Rachel interrupted, handing me the envelope. “I thought I’d never find you this morning…but here you are.”
She flashed me a smile and swept away, leaving me at the foot of the boys’ dormitories in my nightgown. My stomach seemed to have turned to lead. I knew how bad this must look. I spent the night in Tom’s bed. Rachel, of all people, saw me trying to leave unseen.
There was no doubt in my mind that by the end of today, a sizeable amount of people would know about this, and misinterpret it just like Rachel had.
Great, all I needed was for the whole school to think I was a tramp.
I found Tom in our dungeon, sitting with the rest of the club, his new prefects badge silver and glimmering on his chest. Tom had been right, of course. Headmaster Dippet had named him as Will’s replacement only moments after he found out Will would not be returning anytime soon.
Just the sight of that stupid little badge made me slightly sick; I couldn’t help but think this was the first small step towards Tom getting everything he wanted; I felt like now that he had this, he’d stop at nothing until he opened the chamber, and when he had that (it was becoming almost inevitable thanks to my realization), he’d find some other great and terrible goal to pursue. I couldn’t stop it, and even worse, I couldn’t find it in myself to want to.
“Thank you for gracing us with your presence, my Anna,” Tom said carelessly, throwing a disapproving glance in my direction. “In your lateness you’ve missed the latest shifts. You and I will be taking the top floor and working our way down while everyone else starts on the ground floor. This way we will cover the entire castle twice and be sure nothing is missed.”
I sat down in the chair to Tom’s right, purposefully left open for me. Tom spared me no extra attention, nor did he give the slightest signal that he recognized I had spent the night in his bed.
Spent the night inhis bed. God, it sounded so much more scandalous than it really was. But still.
“We begin shifts at seven this evening, and if your shift falls after hours come to me to be disillusioned. Remember what to look for. Don’t disappoint me. You are all dismissed…except you, Anna.”
I watched as Nott, Avery and Lestrange filed out of the room, then turned back to Tom. This had to be it. He was going to say something, anything about last night.
“Have you been thinking about what I showed you in the forest the night we took care of O’Rielly?” Tom asked, vanishing the rolls of parchment on the table.
“A bit,” I lied; in reality I had thought of little else. It seemed everything occupying my thoughts had something to do with Tom, and the indescribable beauty of the Kiling Curse was most certainly one of them.
“I’ve time this afternoon before we begin our search for the chamber. If you want to learn now would be an opportune time. It would be best if we both master the curse before France this Spring.”
Tom stood up, giving me a somewhat condescending look. “Not that I expect you to fully embrace it. I remember the trouble you had with the Cruciatus Curse.”
A ripple of annoyance ran through me. First, he was going to ignore that I had brought him possibly the most useful idea concerning the chamber that existed, then he was going to insult me? I glared at him. “You may find I’ve changed a bit since then. Let’s go.”
They say the Killing Curse requires a great deal of magic behind it. They say you have to have great concentration, great talent, great desire. I’m not sure if I had any of those things, but I do know that the blinding green light and that exhilarating wind came much, much too easily to me. I had always been a talented witch, but this was far too great a feat to blame on mere skill. It was something about Tom’s hand on my own, something about the low hum of his voice that guided me to it. In only one afternoon I accomplished what many could not in their entire lives.
I could take life away in the blink of an eye. It was not because I had studied, and not because I had some burning passion to murder the animals in front of me.
I’m not sure what it was, even now. All I know is that whispering those words and watching as I sucked the life out of something so alive…it was beautiful. I had always had a weakness for that which was beautiful. Now I could create beauty as well as admire it. There would be no more messy murders to cry over.
Silly. Silly to think that learning to kill would solve everything. But there is the testament to the power behind such magic; and the power behind the deep love I had developed for Tom. This curse could make me feel as if it solved everything, and Tom was by my side, always helping me become a better, more deadly human being.
I couldn’t stop shivering. It wasn’t from the cold, since it didn’t stop when Tom and I entered the warm great hall, shaking the light snow from our cloaks. I couldn’t stop thinking about that wonderful pull I felt in my arm, the smooth way Avada Kedavra rolled from my lips, the simple way in which I could make a living thing drop dead to the ground. I hated it. But I loved it. It was impossible to stop thinking about.
I needed more, but I couldn’t get it now. We were back in the world of warmth and students and silly little incantations, of Christmas parties and feasts. I would have gladly turned back and reentered the forest, frozen to the bone but invigorated by the wonder induced by this new, beautiful curse.
Tom had other plans though, and I vaguely recalled that we were supposed to start another round of searching tonight, searching for the chamber that I may have discovered the key to. But Slughorn had plans too. I remembered his stupid party with a pang. Tom always said we had to go to them. We couldn’t spend all my time sneaking around at night, or people would begin to get suspicious. It was bad enough Dumbledore already knew we were up to something.
And so it was with great reluctance that Tom and I slipped into hand-me-down dress robes and a shimmering silver dress, respectively, to go mingle with the other chosen students in Slughorn’s office.
“Ah! The top two in the 5th year! How wonderful it is that you’ve joined us, Tom, Anne,” Slughorn exclaimed, tottering over to us the moment we entered the room. “Feel free to help yourself to refreshments, the Pepper Imps were imported from India, divine…”
Tom and I exchanged one irritable look, then he leaned into me and whispered, “Make your rounds. I want to be out of here by ten.”
I nodded, watching Tom transform himself. He straightened up, letting my favorite half-smile tug on the corner of his perfectly formed lips. There was even a little more light in his eyes somehow…I watched him shake hands with a seventh year and start to talk, appearing completely amicable and interested. He still astounded me with the way he could change so completely from himself into the shining, model student he showed the world.
I followed his lead, greeting everyone with my most dazzling smile and an easy laugh. No one seemed to find anything amiss—I chatted away about how lovely Hogwarts was in wintertime, how Christmas break was such a relief…the dullness nearly had me dozing off. But I faked it, wondering if the silly students I was speaking with had even the slightest inkling that anything was amiss.
Could they tell I was going to spend the night scouring the castle for a secret chamber of death? Was there any way they could sense I had been murdering animals in the forest for hours before this quaint little party? Could everyone see that there was something wrong with me?
No. They couldn’t. I was safe.
I turned to see Olive Hornby, that bratty little third year I had saved from the wrath of Minerva McGonagall. She all but worshiped me, and the attention was hard to resist.
“Hey Olive,” I said, bracing myself for another painfully boring conversation about Christmas, or Slytherin’s chances in the quidditch cup.
“Okay, not to be terribly forward,” she said, scooting up closer to me, “but I simply have to ask you if it’s true.”
“If what’s true?” I asked, perking up. No rumor she could have heard about me at this point could be good news.
“Are you going with Tom Riddle?”
“What? Who told you that? No!”
“Really?” Olive looked deeply disappointed. “I always thought you liked each other, I mean you’re always together…”
“Yes, but…we’re friends, Olive. Where did you hear that?”
She pointed across the party to a very familiar looking red-haired girl, who smiled and waved when she saw me staring. Rachel. I felt the shame bubble up inside me when I remembered how she had found me this morning, disheveled and very obviously leaving the boys’ dorms. She couldn’t have…
“She was just talking about you two. About how she was so happy you finally got together, and that….well…”
“What? Tell me, Olive!” I demanded, a bit too hastily, for the girl in front of me looked startled.
“Well, she was saying something about you, er…” Olive looked uncomfortable for a moment, but inched closer to me, obviously anticipating some juicy information. “She said you spent the night there. Oh, Anne, tell me how was it?”
It took all my self-control not to drop my glass of punch, stride over to Rachel and smack her across her smug, freckled face. How dare she make such a nasty rumor about me? That jealous little bitch.
“Hogwarts does come up with the most incredible gossip sometimes,” I said coolly, realizing that my fingers were clenched tightly into fists and immediately releasing them. “I don’t know where Rachel got such a fantastic idea but I can assure you that it is very simply not true.”
Olive looked deeply disappointed. “Oh.”
“And I’d appreciate it it, as my friend—” Her face lit up again, “you would let me know if you hear anyone else spreading such nonsense.”
“Of course, Anne! I can’t believe someone would say that about you!”
I held back from commenting that she had been eager enough to believe my bad behavior a few moments ago.
I faked a smile. “What would I do without you?”
“God, that was horrible,” I said, a few hours later when Tom finally decided it was time to leave. “Remind me why we can’t just tell Slughorn to shove his parties up his—”
“Because he could be useful,” Tom said, tugging loose the tie at his neck. “Stop complaining.”
“It wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the other kids,” I continued, somewhat ignoring Tom’s demand. “Rachel, ugh I hate her.”
“Don’t you dare break off ties with her,” Tom warned me, as we made our way down the stairs to the dungeons.
“Why? She’s just a stupid—”
“It doesn’t matter,” Tom snapped. “You never know who we’ll need in the future so at this point you will remain friends with everyone you can, and continue to appear involved and clueless as you ever have.”
“I was never clueless,” I said, stung.
“Well you were doing a great impression of it. And that’s exactly what we need. We need to pretend, to be all but perfect when I open the chamber. If we give Dumbledore or anyone the slightest reason to suspect any of us, everything could be ruined.”
“I…I understand,” I muttered, the idea of actually opening the chamber jerking terror through me. I wondered how long I could wrestle with the idea and still be shocked every time I realized it could really happen, and that I was helping it happen.
I couldn’t help but think of the Muggles, of how that man was still trying to take over the world. The British Muggles had just discovered he was killing people…killing people for no reason other than that they were different from him. I didn’t really understand the details, but I couldn’t help but feel that Tom was on the brink of doing the very same, and if it was enough to have a war over in the Muggle world, who says it couldn’t have just as disastrous consequences here?
“Change quickly,” Tom said, pulling me out of my thoughts. “We’ve the seventh floor bathrooms to cover tonight.”
“Bathrooms…” I trailed off. Bathrooms. Of course. Pipes.
“Be prepared to work.”
I always was, when it came to Tom.
The next few days were among the most exhausting I’d ever lived. We had final exams of the term to complete before break, and then after dinner, when all I wanted to do was sleep, Tom would whisk me upstairs and we would search, search, search until we could barely stand. I believe we became more familiar with the castle than anyone did, examining it inch by inch by the cover of night.
Every bathroom we entered was a whole new challenge, another place that could possibly hold the answer to what we were looking for. Tom had me inspecting ridiculously closely, tugging on faucets, sticking my fingers in drains, looking for something, anything, to signal the existence of the chamber’s entrance. He would walk around, muttering to himself, poking things with his wand, occasionally getting excited only to become livid and curse parts of the bathroom to pieces in his anger.
We would stay out until the early hours of the morning, dragging our exhausted bodies back to the dungeons, always empty of any new breakthroughs. The longer we failed, the more irritable Tom got, and consequently, the more dangerous. I found myself purposefully walking a few feet away from him on our way back from an unproductive night, afraid he’d turn on me next instead of shattering another unfortunate sink or mirror.
I’d be exhausted every day, but somehow, between class and our fruitless searching, I made time to nurse my new obsession. Whenever I was free from Tom I found myself outside, finding animals no one would miss and watching with a relieved sigh as I killed them in a wonderful flash of green. I was careful, but I always got the nervous feeling that someone was watching me…so I oftentimes took to the dungeon, searching for anything, rats mostly, that I could catch and kill.
I nearly drowned in my own shame—I felt worse than some sort of drug addict, even though I technically wasn’t breaking any laws. I felt sick because I couldn’t stop. I didn’t know what it was about this particular curse, about the intoxicating rush I got from watching something die so beautifully, but it frightened me more than even the idea of finding the chamber.
There was nothing I could do though. Nothing I could say to myself was powerful enough to stop my drive. I could only hope that someday soon this magic would let go of me, let me go back to normal.
Normal wasn’t even normal though, since even my mundane classmates were fascinated with a rumor that was quite out of the ordinary. Ever since Slughorn’s Christmas party, the idea that I was going out with Tom seemed to follow me around. It didn’t help that we were always together. Honestly, I was most worried about Tom hearing what people were saying, but whether he had heard the rumor or not, he showed no change in attitude towards me.
How ironic it was to have everyone calling me Tom’s girlfriend. That was all I ever wanted, to be his girlfriend, to have a boy who adores me and buys me roses on Valentine ’s Day, who takes me to London for romantic dinners out. But no, I had to fall for the boy who’s set his sights on mastering the Dark Arts and ruling over all of wizardkind. And he had somehow tangled me up in his fantastic ambitions. Tom had no intentions of buying me anything for Valentine’s Day, I’m sure.
“Bye, Anne, see you after New Years,” Marcella said, hugging me. “Hopefully we’ll see each other a little more next term!”
“Of course,” I said vaguely. This was extremely unlikely. I was growing away from everyone but Tom, and I couldn’t find the desire to bring myself back to them.
“Same here, Anne. I’ve missed you terribly,” Rachel chimed in, making me want to hit her. It seemed everything she said made me want to do that now. Actually, just seeing her face elicited that response in me.
“I know,” I said, smiling as cheesily as possible, remembering what Tom said about staying friends with her. Kill me now.
Finally they left though, and it was just me alone in the dorm. I didn’t get to enjoy the peace and quiet for long though, since it was nearly time to begin rounds with Tom. We were going to the fifth floor today, most likely for another night of pointless searching.
Apparently, the Prefects have their own bathroom.
Tom gave the password to a portrait of Boris the Bewildered and we entered the most magnificent bathroom I’d ever seen. A great stone pool was cut into white marble, an enormous stained glass window framing the stars outside. There were dozens of little taps around the bath, at first appearing luxurious, but then I remembered I’d have to examine every single one, and they lost their charm a bit.
I started working without comment, running my fingers over every inch of the pool, looking at every tap, looking for anything out of the ordinary. The bathroom’s vastness became a burden—Tom and I must have spent an hour at least looking for something. I could sense somehow that he was becoming more and more agitated, but I simply couldn’t concentrate anymore. I found myself wondering how a hot bath would feel, and nearly passed out.
After another quarter of an hour, Tom grumbled.
“It’s not here,” he said finally, cold disappointment clear in his words.
“We’ll find it,” I assured him with a yawn, “We don’t have many other places it could be. You’re the heir of Slytherin, you’re meant to find it.”
He nodded, but looked into the mirror, his face sunfathomable.
“While we’re here, though,” I said, hoping to cheer him up, “Might as well go swimming. I can’t believe you haven’t shown this to me before. This place is great!”
Tom didn’t answer, but I proceeded to turn on all the taps. So happy just to have stopped searching, I laughed as some of them caused giant purple bubbles to float around the room, others spraying thick white foam into the huge bathtub. They were so thick I couldn’t see through them to the bottom.
“Anna, what are you doing?” Tom asked, watching as I shook the robe from my shoulders.
“I want to try the bath.”
“We haven’t time for this,” he said, his eyes lingering curiously on me as I unbuttoned my blouse and kicked off my shoes. I pretended to be nonchalant, but I couldn’t help the blush creeping towards my face as I noticed he was still looking at me.
“You shouldn’t be so serious all the time. Relax for a moment,” I said, finally pulling off my skirt and sitting at the edge of the water in nothing but my undergarments.
“Relax?” he hissed, “The chamber hasn’t been found yet, and you want to relax? I thought you knew the importance of this!”
I hung my feet off the edge so they could touch the bubbling, nearly scalding water. I turned to look at Tom, who was now decently annoyed.
“Tom, we’re not going to get anything else done tonight and you know it. We’re both exhausted. We have all day tomorrow to search until we both pass out.”
He just stood, looking as if he was holding his breath. I thought for a moment he was going to knock me into the water and drown me. Then his shoulders dropped from his tense stance.
“Do whatever you wish, Anna. But I am only allowing this because you help me so much …”
“Thank you, Tom,” I said, my voice sickeningly sweet. He rolled his eyes.
I smiled and slid my entire body into the water, gasping at the heat. My toes barely reached the bottom of the magnificent pool, the bubbles tickling my chin. I could feel my muscles relaxing with the steaming water against them, so I swam over to a cutout seat in the stone.
“I believe I’ll tell Avery to search the first floor bathrooms again, perhaps something was missed,” Tom was muttering, now seated in one of the plush sofas, twirling his wand. “Or we have to go back to the seventh? I don’t think I could have been mistaken, searching them…”
“You weren’t,” I said, my head tilted back against the bathroom floor. “We were very thorough.”
“But will it all avail me? What if the chamber isn’t entered through the pipes?”
A small sear of fear ripped at my otherwise blissfully relaxed body. If the chamber wasn’t found, it would be my fault, convincing Tom of my theory…if I was wrong; I didn’t want to think about the consequences…
“I’m sure,” I told him. “There can be no other way. Clearly, you were right about it being a Basilisk, and Slytherin was no fool. He wouldn’t have it slithering about the schools in broad daylight! There would be no better way for such a great bloody snake to get around. The chamber is underground and there’s no better way to get underground than through the plumbing.”
“Your logic is—as always, impeccable,” Tom commented, rising and looking out the stained glass window into the night. The mermaid in the picture next to him flapped her tail and shook her hair out, desperately trying to get his attention.
I glowed at his compliment. Tom never said a good word about anyone unless he meant it. Or if he was trying to get something out of them. But he knew that anything I possessed, I would give him, anything I knew I would tell him. There was no point in denying it anymore. At least, not to myself.
Tom was murmuring to himself. “I could even enlist that Malfoy to search…it wouldn’t matter. I can’t rely on those fools, we have to search every inch of this place ourselves.”
“Malfoy?” I asked sharply. “What’s he got to do with anything?”
Tom moved is attention from the window back to me. “Haven’t you noticed he could be of use to us, Anna? I expected you of all people to know…I hear you accompanied him to Hogsmeade about a week ago.”
I nearly inhaled some of the suds too close to me. How did Tom know about that? The idea of he and Malfoy meeting in secret and talking about me made me extremely uncomfortable.
“Only because he was blackmailing me,” I said irritably, half hoping Tom would come to my defense and punish Malfoy for being such a snake. Fat chance.
“Either way, he’s intriguing,” Tom went on, clearly uninterested in my dating habits.
I had to agree. Malfoy most certainly was intelligent, and he made no effort to hide how rich and powerful his family was. Throw in his Durmstrang knowledge and he would be a great addition to the club. I didn’t want him to join us though. I didn’t need someone stealing my spot as Tom’s favorite, most certainly not someone with as much selfish ambition as I sensed in Malfoy.
“I think he’s an idiot,” I declared, causing Tom to snort. “If we need anything from him why can’t we just Imperius him or something?”
“I didn’t ask what you thought,” Tom said, his eyes still laughing at me. “If I decide to let him in on our quests, you will welcome him with all the charm I know you to have, Anna.”
I clenched my jaw. He wanted me to welcome Malfoy? He liked him? Fine, Id charm the shit out of him, and Tom could watch the stupid boy fall in love with me. How’s that? I should keep going out with Malfoy, then Tom would be sorry he let him in.
…Right, as if he’d care. Dammit.
It was quiet for a long time, the only sound the light splashing I caused by moving in th great pool.
“Tom,” I began, hesitant. He switched his stare from the window to me. I was quiet, and he grew expectant.
“Why…why do you think Slytherin built the chamber? I mean, I know it’s to get rid of the Muggle-borns, but…why?”
“Why wouldn’t he?” Tom asked haughtily, “They’re a disgrace to the name of wizard, and Hogwarts should be kept pure, not touched by dirt Muggle blood.”
“Yes, I know all of this. You taught us everything, but…” I swallowed. “Don’t you think that even those with Muggle blood in them could be, well…do you really think they should all be killed?”
Tom frowned, his hand clenching on his wand.
“What, exactly, are you insinuating?”
“Nothing,” I said quickly. He continued to eye me until I had to look away from his dark gaze. I decided to cover up my momentary waywardness. I ignored the part of me crying out in protest of his hypocrisy, and his cruelty. I pushed the thought away.
Biting my lip in a coy expression of worry, I said, “Are you going to send the monster after me, Tom? I am a half-blood; I can’t assume you’ve forgotten…”
“You’re the first I plan to kill,” he said dryly.
I pouted, splashing a bit as I let myself fall off my seat and into the bath, up to my neck in bubbles. “Is there nothing I can do to save myself?”
Tom shrugged. “Perhaps if you beg, Slytherin’s Heir will show mercy and spare your life in return for something.”
I propped my elbow up on the side of the bath, setting my head in my hand. “Oh, anything. What could he want from me?”
Tom pretended to ponder this, uncharacteristically going along with my facetiousness. He knelt next to the bath and leaned over so his face was only inches from mine.
“Slytherin’s heir won’t toss your life away for nothing,” he warned me quietly. “He’ll need to receive something great in order to spare you.”
“Of course,” I breathed, my chest tight because of his closeness.
“Would you be willing to give up…Scarlett?”
I laughed. “It would break my heart, but I suppose I would have to sacrifice her.”
“What if he let you go on the condition you could never speak again?” Tom asked.
“That one would be difficult,” I said, causing Tom to smirk slightly. “But yes, yes. I’d do it to save my life.”
“What about that red cloak you wear absolutely everywhere?”
“If I had to, yes… I would try to bargain my way out of it though.”
“Would you give him your freedom?” he asked, so quietly I could barely hear him.
“How do you mean?”
“If he were to let you live, but only if you lived as his. Would you be able to give him your life in another way to stay alive… stay with him, never leave his side?”
Tom had gotten so serious so suddenly. He was watching me intently, and I got the funny feeling we weren’t being hypothetical anymore. I had to choke back some powerful emotion that had risen in my throat. I couldn’t tell what it was.
“Oh, Tom,” I whispered, “He already has me.”
A/N I'm SOO sorry for making you wait (again)!! I suck. Its been insane at school and I barely have time to finish my work, let alone write. But thankfully I'll be out soon and during the summer I get chapters out every two weeks or so! Thank you so, so much if you're still reading...I might have given up by now haha. As always, pleaseeee leave a review, I love hearing what you guys think! We're getting into my favorite part of the story now, so I'll do my best to keep writing! There will be more Grindelwald in the next one, and some major dramaaaa! I love you all, thanks again :)