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Impenetrable by NaidatheRavenclaw

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Format: Novel
Chapters: 11
Word Count: 34,342
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Mild Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Horror/Dark, Mystery, Action/Adventure
Characters: Dumbledore, Hagrid, Voldemort, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: Other Pairing

First Published: 03/16/2011
Last Chapter: 07/07/2012
Last Updated: 07/07/2012

Summary:



Amazing banner by !obsessed @ TDA

One with a heart surrounded by stone and another hoping to break in.

A mystery dwelling in the bowels of Hogwarts. One controls it. The other can only watch.

Who will be victorious in the end?

 


Chapter 1: The Mission
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Chapter image by littlemissy @ TDA




The sky was still streaked with pink and orange as Tom Marvolo Riddle made his way into the small train station. The train wasn’t due to leave for four hours still, but he wasn’t going to spend a minute more than he had to in his loathsome Muggle orphanage. Running his hand through his silky black hair, Tom loaded his tattered, second-hand trunk onto a trolley and maneuvered his way through the relatively empty station.

After spending a summer amongst whining, underfed children, Tom relished the utter silence of the station. He had been cramped in a small room he shared with nineteen other boys, all of them terrified of Tom. They were told he went to a “special school” and they had decided he was some kind of psychopath who went to an asylum. Together with the stories the children told of him when he was younger (most of them fake) he had been portrayed as an insane criminal. All he had to do was look at someone for them to cower in fear. At first, it had been entertaining, but he was sick of receiving terrified looks wherever he went.

Tom’s eyes darted around the station as he approached platforms nine and ten. With so few people, there was a greater chance of someone spotting him as he disappeared, slipping into the Wizard World for the first time in months. Tom felt strangely deprived of magic and he longed to use his wand of yew once more. Leaning casually against the barrier,

Tom fell through easily and found himself on a completely deserted platform. Even the scarlet train engine that was to take him to Hogwarts was not to be found. It didn’t matter to
Tom, however. He had plenty to do to pass the time.

From the top of his trunk, Tom extracted his school robes. A silver piece of metal fell from their folds and clattered onto the floor. Tom picked it up, a small smile playing at the corner of his lips. He had almost forgotten. He had been made a prefect this year. Tom changed into his robes; the sooner he could be rid of his filthy Muggle clothes, the better, and pinned his silver and green badge onto his robes, where it contrasted nicely with the black. He picked up a small mirror from his trunk and surveyed his appearance. Hair as black as a bat’s wing curling neatly over pale, almost white skin, dark, cold eyes and an altogether charming appearance when he smiled. Not that the smiles were ever real, but nobody had ever been able to see the contempt behind them.

Tom also took a small, black diary he had purchased recently in London and a quill and ink from his trunk. He had better plan for the diary, but for now it would serve a different, more mundane purpose. Neatly written and covering the first five pages was a compilation of everything he knew about the legend of the Chamber of Secrets. How a hidden chamber lay concealed in the depths of the school. How Slytherin had created it without the knowledge of the other three founders. And how he had hidden a monster inside, which only the heir of Slytherin would be able to control. How the monster would purge the school of all its Muggle-borns, would finally erase them from existence in Hogwarts’ esteemed halls.

Tom would never admit it, but he had begun to feel a stronger connection to Slytherin than just house loyalty. Aside from being a Parselmouth, a gift the great Salazar Slytherin himself had possessed, Tom harbored an almost obsessive need to discover all he could about Slytherin, and his own ancestry. And with Slytherin came the ever infamous Chamber of Secrets. This year, Tom was determined to find its entrance and release the monster within, whatever it may be. Tom was beginning to suspect it was a kind of snake; it would only be fitting.

As the hours passed, Tom plotted. He had been over his notes countless times, trying to find something he had missed, but he never came up with anything. But Tom was nothing if not persistent and he would continue to try. In just two or so hours, the scarlet steam engine had screeched to a stop at the platform. Tom barely batted an eyelid as it blew its whistle, but continued to pour over his notes, becoming increasingly more frustrated as he found nothing.

*

Amaya Fitz combed her long blonde hair in front of the large mirror in her bedroom.

Ninety-nine. One hundred.

She let the comb drop to the floor disdainfully, knowing a house-elf would be by to clean afterwards as her nimble fingers weaved her hair into a braid, pulling it away from her pale, heart-shaped face, her pale blue eyes complimented by the green tie she wore for her House at Hogwarts.

“Amaya, are you all packed?” A tall woman with graying hair stood in the doorway.

Amaya rolled her eyes, not turning around to face her mother. “Yes, I’m ready.”

“Did you pack your dress robes? I don’t want to have to send them later like I did last year.”

“I packed everything.”

“Are you sure? Maybe I’d better check.”

Amaya finally spun her chair around and glared at her mother. “Mother! I’m fifteen. I am perfectly capable of packing my own trunk!”

“I’m sure you are, dear, I’m sorry.” She swept forward and kissed

Amaya on the cheek, who turned her face away, but not quickly enough.

“It’s all right,” she muttered.

“We’re leaving in an hour.”

“Still that much time?”

“Yes. You’re ready unusually early today.”

Amaya shrugged. “I think I woke up earlier today.”

“You look very pretty today, darling.”

Amaya rolled her eyes, letting out a small groan in the hopes her mother would soon leave. Luckily, she took the hint and started out of the room.

“Okay, okay, I’m going,” She bustled out of the room and out of sight.

Amaya sighed, hiding her face from the mirror. I still have an hour. Plenty of time to go over my plans once more.

Amaya stretched out onto her bed, the silk of her duvet soft under her back. This year, she had only one goal. She was going to seduce the ever elusive Tom Riddle. So popular, even amongst the staff and non-Slytherins. So friendly, easy-going. But somehow, so distant, so secretive. He never fell for a girl, had never even kissed a girl, but Amaya was determined to change that. She had already earned a spot in Tom’s closest circle of friends, if you could call it that. It was more like a group of elite followers, fated to act as faithful inferiors by Tom’s side. Amaya had a plan worked out, and she was determined to succeed. By the end of the year, Tom would have a lover.

Amaya’s mind began to wander. From Tom’s face, to the silhouette of the castle, to the Slytherin common room. Amaya had dated before, and there were plenty of boys who would go out with her if she wanted, but last year, she had begun to think of Tom in a different way. Plenty of girls followed him, giggling and flirting, but he ignored them.

Amaya knew that getting Tom to love her wasn’t going to be easy. She had to get him to notice her, for a start. She had to spend time alone with him. And then she had to get over the hurdle of her family.

Tom was a half-blood, but Amaya didn’t care about blood status. As long as you were a wizard, who cares how you got there.

Her family was a different story. They thought only those with “pure blood” were good enough to be wizards. They had always expected her to marry one from a pure-blood family, though Amaya thought the lot of those boys were snobby and dim. It hadn’t always been that way. At one time, she had agreed with their ideals. Not anymore, though. Now, she was disgusted by them. She kept her thoughts hidden from her family, knowing it would only lead to trouble if she voiced her opinion, but she was determined to make them accept Tom. It wasn’t his fault his mum decided to marry a Muggle.

As her thoughts drifted, Amaya’s eyelids drooped farther and farther until they closed completely and she fell into slumber. A memory replayed through her mind as a dream.

Her legs felt like ice as she walked into the cavern of the Great Hall. The older students were all looking at her, right at her, even though she was surrounded by first years. It took her a while to realize it was her nerves, and that they were simply looking at their group as a whole.

A wizard with the long red hair led them to a hat sitting upon a rickety wooden stool. Amaya wondered why such a tattered looking hat would be sitting there. Then it opened its mouth and burst into song, telling the students of the four houses of Hogwarts. Amaya knew about those, of course. It was the cause for her nerves. Her family would accept nothing but Slytherin, and Amaya knew her views were drastically different from those of her parents. If she was anything other than a Slytherin, there would be nothing but trouble, but if she was in Slytherin, she would have to pretend to share her parents’ opinions for another seven years, and god only knew what they would make her do. Amaya herself wasn’t sure which option would be better, but she hated trouble of all sorts.

She looked at the students around her, most of them at least as clammy and nervous as she was, but one boy stood out in particular. He was looking haughty, not gazing about the hall in wonderment or staring at the hat with apprehension, but looking straight ahead with a confident expression. Three boys already flanked his sides, and she heard him whisper Slytherin to the other two. Suddenly, Slytherin didn’t seem like such a bad choice for a house. But Amaya thought of all the pure-blood mania she would have to endure and she was once again stuck, far from a decision of any kind.

The hat stopped singing, leading to bout of applause from the students. Amaya brought her hands together instinctively, her mind still focused on what was to come. She distinctly heard the red-haired wizard call a name from a long list, and she realized they simply had to try the hat on. Amaya still wasn’t exactly sure whether or not she wanted to be in Slytherin. Another student went up, then two, then three, and then it was her turn.

Amaya’s entire body trembled as she placed the hat on her head. To her surprise, it began whispering to her in her head.

“Ah, yes, a Fitz. Coming from a long line of Slytherins. But what’s this? Do I detect some courage? Do I detect dissent in her family’s way of life? I even detect some intelligence. This is a hard choice, a very hard choice indeed.”

“Please, don’t make me go into Slytherin.”

“Is that what you really want?”

Amaya pictured her family’s disappointed faces. “N-no.”

“Then make up your mind, Fitz. I haven’t got all day.”

“J-just put me in Slytherin.”

The hat sighed. “And I thought you may have been a Gryffindor. Goes to show that family habits really don’t change. Alright then, SLYTHERIN!”

And Amaya had smiled in spite of the shame she felt broiling in her heart.


“Amaya, wake up!”

Amaya’s eyes fluttered open. “Did I f-fall asleep?”

“Yes! We have to go!”

“S-sorry.” She rubbed her eyes, suddenly disoriented by her nap. She sat up, shaking her head to clear it of the dream and followed her mother out of the room.

Tom Riddle, here I come.

*

The first family slipped through the barrier and onto platform Nine and Three Quarters. Tom hastily stood from his spot on a bench and shoved the diary into his pocket. Soon, his classmates would be almost jumping on top of him, determined to out-do each other with tales of malice and mischief from the holidays. Tom put up with it, knowing these people would be useful someday, but it really was annoying. Couldn’t they see that he simply didn’t care what they had done. He stretched his cramped limbs and started watching the barrier intently, more and more students filing onto the platform. Soon, the air was filled with excited squeals and hugs and friends greeted each other once more. Tom hated the pure happiness that filled the air, but even he could not stop himself from anticipating the return to Hogwarts. It was the only place that had ever been home to him.

“Tom!” Tom turned to face a burly boy walking towards him.

“Orion Black, how are you?” Tom kept his face purposefully neutral, knowing it was prudent to have sympathies with the Black family.

“You won’t believe what I did this summer!”

Tom refrained from rolling his eyes. He effectively tuned out from Orion’s story, almost hoping another student would come and lay his own story on top. At least there was some comedic effect in that.
As the students continued to make their way onto the now crowded platform, and Tom listened to the wildest stories yet, he didn’t notice a slim blonde girl standing slightly behind his gaggle of admirers. He didn’t see her laugh out loud at the stories. He didn’t see her make her way around their circle until she laid a cool hand on his shoulder.

Tom jumped.

“Oh, Tom, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you!” Amaya said nervously. She played with the end of her braid, a nervous habit she had always hated.

Tom smoothed his tie. “That’s alright, Amaya, I wasn’t really paying attention.” Tom barely recognized the girl. She was a quiet Slytherin who never really participated in their conversations. Tom was glad for his excellent memory, as he needed to keep a good image with all the Slytherins.

Amaya tried to stop the blush from creeping onto her cheeks at the sound of his voice. It had deepened over the summer. “No, it was me. I just wanted to say hello.”

“Hello then.” Tom stopped himself from adding a sarcastic tone to his voice. Here came the idiotic story.

“Did you have a good summer?”

Tom was utterly taken aback. No one had ever cared to ask about him before. Not that his summer was ever any good, but still. “I was at the damn orphanage. My summers are never good.”

Amaya smiled sympathetically. “You should come and stay with my family next time. Parties, freedom, magic.”

“You use magic?” Tom perked up slightly. He had longed to use magic over the summer, but he had already received two minor warnings and didn’t want to push his luck.

“In the house. My parents don’t really care.”

“You’re pure-blood, right?” Tom felt slightly excited, but he tried to quash it. As much as he hated the orphanage, it wouldn’t be good to get too close to anyone.

“Yes.” Amaya blushed, wondering if Tom was just as prejudiced as the rest of the pure-bloods. But no, he couldn’t be, he was half-blood. The scary part was that she didn’t know if he was prejudiced. It struck her then how little she really did know about him.

Well there was no going back now. Tom would have to play it well, but there was no way he was going to stay anywhere but Hogwarts. “I might accept that offer.” After this, he tuned out, done with the little conversation.

Amaya smiled. “That would be really nice.” She sensed that the conversation was over and she sighed, squeezing her way in between the Lestranges and trying to focus on the conversation, but her mind was fixed on Tom’s words.

He talked to me! He talked to me! Relax. You’re not going to get anywhere if you scream at his every word, even if he did agree to stay with you over the summer. Well, he said might, but that has a damn good chance of meaning a yes. Of course, with Tom, nothing’s ever guaranteed to be what it seems, but it’s a thread to hold on to. It’s going to work, it has to work.

Tom’s ears suddenly perked up at a three spoken words three feet from him.

“What was that?” he asked Cygnus Black. “What did you just say about the Chamber of Secrets?”

“A bunch of family friends were trying to find out where it might be when they were drunk at one point during the summer. It was mostly a load of dragon dung, I think someone suggested the monster within would be a pixie, but they did come up with one point. They decided it would be located under the school. I mean Slytherin loved dungeons and such, so his Chamber would be even farther down.”

Tom felt a rush of disappointment. He had deduced that several years ago. He feigned a smile. “Oh, that’s…interesting.” A master of his emotions, even Tom could not mask his disappointment this time.

Cygnus looked a little disheartened, but he continued anyway. “Well they also figured the entrance to the chamber would be marked by a snake. You know, being Slytherin’s mark and everything. And it would have to be in a really common part of the castle. Everyone would think to look in hidden passageways and stuff, but no one would think to look, say in the Slytherin dormitories.”

“I’ve actually never thought of that.” Tom’s spirits brightened considerably. He had always known the entrance would be marked by a snake, but he had never thought to look in common places.

“Wait, why do you spend time thinking about the Chamber of Secrets?”

Tom realized his mistake too late. “Er, no, I don’t, not really. I just found the legend a few years ago and made a list of everything I could think of about it, but I never came up with that. It was just for fun when I did it though.”

Cygnus looked satisfied by the answer. “Would be interesting to find it though. They say only the heir of Slytherin can, but I bet I could.”

This was the signal for the other students to begin piping in, arguing why they’d be most likely to find the Chamber. Tom stepped back, considering this new piece of information. This year, he’d comb every floorboard to find the entrance. But for now, it was time to play the popular, charming Tom Riddle everyone adored.

He gestured to the others. “Let’s find a compartment, shall we?”

There was a rush to follow Tom as he walked onto the train. They all wanted to be in Tom’s compartment, and there just wasn’t enough room. Tom seemed oblivious to the minor fights behind him, and instead continued to duck into various compartments until he found an empty one.

He slid the door open, barely making it inside before a stampede of feet followed as everybody tried to earn a spot in Tom’s compartment. Amaya pushed past several giggling girls and managed to gain a spot on a bench just before the door closed. To her surprise and delight, she was directly next to Tom, their elbows almost touching in the cramped compartment. But he turned away from her and began to talk to Eustace Lestrange. Amaya knew she would be lucky to get a few words in to Tom. He was much too popular for his own good, and hers as well.

She looked at the inhabitants of the compartment. She recognized most of them by face, not name, until she spotted one familiar face in the opposite corner.

Standing, her spot filled almost immediately, Amaya walked over to a bright freckled face and squeezed herself in next to her.

“Amaya! I thought you had abandoned me!”

Amaya grinned. She was used to her overly dramatic friend. “Well it’s nice to see you too, Anabel.”

“I haven’t seen you all summer. I thought I was going to DIE of boredom.”

“What, you actually had time between flirting with every boy in London?” Anabel was also known for moving through boys faster than you could name them.

“I needed to talk to a girl. Like, you know, about chocolate. Boys don’t understand chocolate.”

“They don’t know what they’re missing out on,” Amaya replied with a grin.

“I’ve missed you so much!” Anabel embraced Amaya in a tight hug, which she returned gratefully.

“I really hate saying it, but I missed you too.”

“Knew it!”

“I have SO much to tell you.”

“Start now?”

“Not now!”

“Why not?”

“In case you haven’t noticed, we’re not alone.”

Anabel rolled her eyes dramatically. “Fine, fine, I guess I’ll just have to wait for tonight. You can’t escape me that easily in the dorms.”

“Yes, fine, but let’s get there quickly. Before everyone else comes in.”

“It’s a plan,” Anabel said with a smirk. “I have quite a bit to tell you, too.”

“Talk quickly then. I refuse to say a word when the other girls are around.”

Anabel’s eyes sparkled. “This must be a pretty big secret, then.”

Amaya grinned. In spite of everything, she loved Anabel to death.

Amaya’s eyes flitted towards Tom, taking a second too long to gaze at his obsidian eyes. Anabel noticed her immediately.

“So Tom has a part in this, eh?”

Amaya blushed. “Maybe,” she sang.

"Do I get to know anything before tonight?”

“Not a word!”

Anabel sighed. “It was worth a try…”

But Amaya was no longer paying attention. Her eyes were fixed on Tom’s luminescent face. No matter what, she wanted him.

A/N: Hello, and thanks for checking out this story! It's my first novel, and I'm really excited about it. There's a lot coming...promise. I'd love to know what you think of it, so reviews would be amazing! Thank you again!

Edit March 2012; The first few chapters of this are now undergoing edits, so feedback would be especially great.

-Naida 
 

Chapter 2: The Prefects
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Chapter image by trésor @ TDA 
 


When the train finally rolled to a stop, the sound of rain hitting the pavement was evident. Students wrapped their cloaks tightly around themselves and hurried into the dry carriages waiting to take them to the school while the first years looked on jealously.

Amaya had never paid attention to the sorting hat’s song. It was always almost the same, simply comparing the houses and listing the traits of each. She almost wished it would do something really different for a change. She clapped listlessly with the others of her house as the first years each tried on the hat, not really paying

attention to the new students.

Anabel nudged her in the side. “Oi, Amaya, food’s here.”

Amaya jumped. “What? Oh, right.” She ran her hands through her hair and picked up her fork, dropping it promptly. It landed with a sharp thunk!

Anabel smirked. “Thinking about a certain someone?”

“Be quiet, he’s right here!”

“So it was him then.”

“Will you be quiet!”

“I really can’t wait for tonight now…”

“Well can you please hold it in for another hour?”

“I’ll try.”

The two sat in silence for a few minutes, eating listlessly. The entire hall sounded like a buzz, punctuated every now and then by a high pitched shriek or the sound of metal hitting metal as utensils were frequently dropped onto the polished plates.

After Amaya had nearly finished eating all of her potatoes, Anabel spoke again.

“So who’s the other Slytherin prefect?”

“Well, Tom, of course.” There had been no doubt in any of the minds of the Slytherins that Tom would become a prefect. There was scarcely a person in the school who didn’t like him.

“I know that! It’s why I said other!” As for the female prefect, all the fifth year girls were vying to get the spot. It would mean many evenings patrolling the corridors alone with Tom. Amaya had been disappointed when her Hogwarts letter had arrived without a badge signaling she had been made prefect, and she had been only slightly mollified to hear that Anabel hadn’t received the honor either.

“Oh, er, I have no clue.” Amaya looked at the girls sitting around her. “Ella McLiddel, maybe?”

“Nah, she’s had too many detentions.” Anabel waved the suggestion away. Ella was famous for talking back to teachers. She was just as intelligent as Tom in many ways, but she didn’t have his quiet charm and instead spoke out much too often in class. She frequently spent her Friday night in detention.

“But she’s top of the class.” When Anabel still didn’t look impressed, Amaya continued. “Who do you think it is, then?

“Er, it’s more likely to be Justine Roberts.”

“Her? She’s an idiot! Too thick to tell a troll from a banshee!” Justine was just about the opposite of Ella. Though she had never once been in detention, teachers were frequently telling her to try harder in class. The students, on the other hand, knew that she tried hard enough, but she simply wasn’t good at doing spells.

“But she’s a little goody-two-shoes,” Anabel said after a moment’s consideration. “Dippet likes that.”

“So? Who knows how she passed her exams! Dippet would never pick her!”

Anabel bowed her head slightly in agreement. “Well it definitely won’t be Lidya Scamander. All the teachers hate her.”

Anabel nodded. Lidya had never been one of the contenders. She had neither Ella’s intelligence nor Justine’s ability to stay out of trouble. “I still think it’s Ella.”

“Let’s just ask her then!”

Amaya sighed. “Fine, you ask.”

Anabel flipped her hair. “Fine. Oi, Ella!”

Ella turned her head impatiently. “What?”

“You the other Slytherin prefect?”

Ella blushed. “Yeah, it’s me.” She leaned across the table and dropped her voice to a whisper. “Only reason I didn’t ask Dippet to let me resign is I get to patrol with Tom twice a week!” She squealed excitedly.

Amaya flushed, suddenly hating Ella with every pore of her being. It was no secret that she liked Tom, of course. Who didn’t? But something about the way she had said the last sentence made Amaya want to hex her. She took a deep breath, forcing herself to cool down. She couldn’t afford to be rude to the one person who would be close to Tom. Better to become friends with her, and get to know Tom through her.

So instead, Amaya smiled sweetly. “That’s great. Hey, would you mind giving us the password?”

Ella returned her smile. “Sure. It’s Rat’s Tail. Are you leaving already?”

Amaya gave Anabel a meaningful look before answering. “Yes, I’m getting tired. And Dippet’s speeches are never worth listening to.”

Ella chuckled, turning back to her other friends. Glad to be rid of her, the flush finally subsiding in her cheeks, Amaya pulled Anabel up from the table and out of the Great Hall.

As soon as they were out of sight, Anabel stopped.

“What, do you really hate her or something?” she asked quietly.

Amaya looked surprised. “Who? Ella? Why do you say that?”

“Because you were bright red the entire time you were talking to her and your fist was clenched under the table,” she said simply.

Amaya sighed. “Was it really that obvious?”

Anabel nodded.

“I don’t know, something about the way she was talking about Tom just got to me.”

At this, Anabel laughed. “Wow, you really fell for this guy. Come on, hurry back to the dorms and tell me everything.”

Amaya grinned, turning to follow her friend.

*

Tom lounged back in his chair, listening to the conversation, but not really hearing a word that was said. He couldn’t help but smile at this old castle. From the twinkling lights from the candles above to the long wooden tables set with silver plates heaping with the finest food prepared by the house-elves, this felt like home to him. It was so close to being perfect, and he intended to take the final step to accomplish what Salazar Slytherin had started.

Feeling full for the first time in ages, Tom sipped pumpkin juice from a silver goblet as his classmates discussed the most superficial of things. They quite honestly bored him to tears most of the time. He glanced at the High Table, wondering if Dippet would make a speech this year. He yearned to get away from the hall and get back to his dorm where he would be able to do some planning in quiet.

Being back here is the only slight happiness in my life right now. I need to find the Chamber. Once the mudbloods die, this school will be clean and I will have fulfilled Salazar Slytherin’s purpose. And this is only the start. But one step at a time. I mustn’t get ahead of myself. Think about right now, Tom. What am I supposed to be doing right now? I’m a prefect. I have to take the first years to the common room.

Once it was clear that Dippet was not going to make a speech, and the first few students had left the hall, Tom stood up and clapped his hands.

“First years! Over here, please. First years, gather around me!”

There was the sound of scraping of benches as the first years stood from their seats and approached Tom timidly. He smiled at them. Ella, too, stood and joined him at the front of the line.

“Right then, if you’ll all follow me, the common room is right this way.”

Tom led the way out of the Great Hall and down the flight of stairs that would take them to the dungeons. He turned along a narrow corridor and stopped at an empty stretch of wall.

“Now then, the password is rat’s tail. You’ll all have to remember it.”

At the sound of the password, the stones in the wall split, revealing a narrow archway and the first years flooded into the common room, looking about their surroundings with awe. Tom nearly gave them a real smile, thinking about when he first stepped into the room.
Tom thought that no other common room could hope to be as nice as the Slytherin one. As they were under the lake, the stone walls were tinged with an eerie green light and shadows danced along the walls. Even though they were in the dungeons, the room was always the warmest part of the castle. Several black leather couches and armchairs were scattered artistically around the room, and deep mahogany tables sat by them for the students to do homework. The plush rugs lining the floor completed the effect.

Taking one look at the crowded common room, Tom realized this was his last chance to be alone in his dorm for the night. He took the stairs two at a time, through open his dormitory door, and breathed a sigh of relief when he was it was empty. He cast a look about the room, glancing at his trunk at the foot of his bed. Then he stepped into the center of the room and closed his eyes, envisioning a snake.

“Hiss-ah-shah…” A terrible, strangled, hissing noise erupted from Tom’s throat. Only he would be able to understand what it meant: open.
Nothing happened. Tom wasn’t really expecting anything to come out of it, but he thought he might as well try. Nevertheless, he would continue to search until his pleas were answered.

Tom flopped onto his bed, thinking he might as well have an early night so he could get an early start in the morning and have some time before classes started. He drew the green hangings around his bed closed and closed his eyes, falling into an easy slumber after his previous early morning.

Tom strode onto the Hogwarts Express. Already, students had formed groups to sit with. Finally, he was receiving the chance to use his power, his gift. He would finally be able to interact with people like him. He would never feel strange, or out of place again.

Tom walked into a compartment filled with quiet first years.

“Excuse me, is it alright if I sit here?”

“Sure thing,” said a burly boy in the back corner. Tom eased himself onto the only remaining seat.

“You already changed?” asked a girl with dark hair and freckles.

Tom glanced at his black school robes. “Yes. I wasn’t sure when we had to be in uniform.”

“Muggle-born?” the girl asked.

“What’s a Muggle?” Tom asked sharply.

“Non-magic folk. And if you don’t know what a Muggle is, you definitely have them as parents.” She turned up her nose slightly at the last bit, and Tom suddenly felt a bit panicked.

“I-I don’t know what I am. I’m an orphan. But I think my dad was a wizard. My mum couldn’t have been; she died while giving birth to me. A witch would have been able to save herself, right?”

“Yes, probably. You might be able to find a record of your father at Hogwarts. Do you know anything about him?”

“His name. We share the same name.”

“And that would be?”

“Tom. Last name, Riddle.”

“Nice to meet you, Tom Riddle. I’m Justine Roberts.”

Tom found the students to be perfectly amiable on the train ride. It was much longer than he expected it to be, and it was dark when the train finally rolled to a stop. He made to grab his trunk, but Justine stopped him.

“The house-elves will bring it in. Don’t worry about it.”

“What’s a house-elf?”

“They’re like the servants of the wizard world.”

Tom nodded. He stepped onto the platform outside and gazed at his surroundings. He seemed to be on the outskirts of a village. Tom wondered how they could exist so closely to a school of magic. Or maybe the school was father away, and they were simply changing trains or something of that sort.

“First years! First years over here please!” came a shout from Tom’s left. He followed the sound of the voice uncertainly, ending up beside a stout man and a lake full of boats. “Four to a boat, please! Come on, everybody in!”

Tom was shunted into a boat with the burly boy from the train, who his name he had learned was Eustace, and two girls he didn’t recognize. Tom looked around for a sail, or oars, but he found none. He realized the boat must move with magic. Just as he thought it, the boat lurched forward and started speeding into the darkness.

“Alright, you’ll be seeing Hogwarts here in a minute. Just around this bend.”

And then a brilliant silhouette of a castle appeared over the horizon. The windows were alive with bright, yellow light and it was clearly enormous. Tom oohed with the rest of the students as the boats pulled into a dock. They all clambered out and followed the man up a winding path to the castle where they were greeted by a man with long auburn hair and an even longer auburn beard.

“Welcome to Hogwarts,” he said. “In just a moment, you’ll be sorted into one of four houses. You will stay in this house for the seven years you are at Hogwarts. Good behavior will earn points for your house while misdemeanors will cause your house to loose points. I hope you will all be an asset to the house you are in. Now…follow me please.”

He led the way through a giant set of doors and into a colossal hall, lit with candles. The ceiling looked like the night sky outside, and four long tables were filled with students. The man brought a stool into the middle of the hall and laid a tattered, shabby hat on top. The students were confused until the hat began to sing.

The hat told of the four houses in Hogwarts: Ravenclaw, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, and Gryffindor. After its song was over, the hall burst into applause and the students were called one by one to try on the hat.

By the time it was Tom’s turn, only four students remained unsorted.

Tom walked forward to the stool. He wasn’t exactly confident, but he wasn’t nervous either. He lifted the hat from its stool and brought it down upon his head, but right as it touched his hair, it screamed, “SLYTHERIN!” The table on the far left exploded into applause and Tom set the hat down, feeling rather cocky. The hat hadn’t been that quick with anyone else. And as he sat down, he knew he was going to make his house proud.


*

“Tell me everything.”

Anabel looked at Amaya eagerly, waiting for her to spill.

Amaya, however, looked away and sighed, biting her lip. “Well…” she began, “there’s not much to tell, to be honest. I mean, it’s Tom. Who doesn’t like Tom?”

Anabel looked slightly disappointed. “Yes, but you seem to be a bit more than just infatuated.”

Amaya looked away again, buying time for herself. To tell the truth, she didn’t really know when her feelings had gone from infatuation to something more. She didn’t even know what she felt for Tom.

“I suppose…I suppose I just want to prove that I can get him to like me. I want him to lo-like me as much as I like him.”

“Wait…so all you want to do is prove a point?” Anabel asked curiously.

“No!” Amaya said quickly, then paused. “Well, partly, I suppose. I want people to know that the famous Tom Riddle fell for me. But I like him, I really do. It’s not just that I want to prove a point. I really do want to, well, I want to have a future with him.”

Anabel sighed. “Do you really, Amaya? Think about that. Your parents are going to expect you to marry some rich pure blood for status and money. They’re not going to like the idea of you marrying a half blood with no status, no wealth, no nothing. You have a brilliant future, all planned out for you. A schoolgirl crush is fine, but a future with him. Think about that.”

Amaya’s mouth hung open slightly, not knowing how to respond. She knew that her parents wouldn’t really approve, but she had been determined to make them see sense. The way Anabel had said it though, like she was resigned to her fate, like she was happy with her fate. It didn’t make sense. But she wanted to have a future with Tom. She wanted to grow up and get married and have children.

She wondered, though, if that was even possible with Tom. He was so ambitious, yet he had never talked about the future. He had never said anything about what he wanted to be when he grew up. Amaya had always imagined he would be a top ranking Ministry official, or even the Minister of Magic, but now that she thought about it, Tom had never said that he would want to go into the Ministry. For all she knew, his life’s dream was to work in a shop in Diagon Alley.

The thought unsettled her.

Before she could say anything, Anabel spoke again.

“Anyways, there’s nothing that should stop you from pursuing your love now,” she said with a smile. “And enough about you, I have some news too!”

Amaya grinned, letting the previous thoughts leave her mind. “And…?”

“So you know Cygnus Black, right?”

Amaya nodded.

“Well, we went to the Blacks’ house over the summer once for some business deal of Daddy’s, and I ended up talking to Cygnus a lot, and well, he’s actually really nice,” Anabel said, all in one breath.

“Does someone else have a little love interest?” Amaya asked with a smirk.

It was Anabel’s turn to blush. “He’s really handsome and strong and I really do like him. I can only hope that everything will work out, though. Couldn’t you see us together?”

Amaya smiled. “I could. I really could.”

Edit March 2012; This chapter's author's note was originally very short, so I just got rid of it :P Thank you for reading, however. Out of all the chapters, this has changed most from the original so I hope you enjoy!

Chapter 3: The Bathroom
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“Alright class, have a seat please,” Professor Galatea Merrythought said upon entering the classroom. She was a stout woman, with a cloud of grey hair mixed with white and a pointed chin. It was a warm afternoon in late September, and the class wanted to spend one of their last days of summer outside, instead of sitting in desks and copying notes. The fifth year Slytherins took their seats grudgingly, still gossiping with each other and trying to sneak in a few extra words.

“Quiet now!” She waited again for the students to fall silent. “I was very pleased with your essays on mermaids. It seems as though you’ve understood them quite well. So today, we’re moving on to serpents. This class especially should find them quite interesting.” She paused for another moment, but the class stayed quiet.

Merrythought walked to the front of the room, turning at the end to face the class. She flicked her wand, causing the lights to dim. The shades closed over the brightly colored trees in the windows, leaving the room in an eerie half-darkness. An illuminated picture of a snake popped up on the front wall. She paused again, as if she expected the class to say something, but once again, they remained quiet.

“There are three different types of serpents we will be studying in particular. The sea serpent-” She flicked her wand again and the picture changed to that of a sea serpent “the runespoor,” once again, the picture changed, now depicting the three-headed runespoor, “and the basilisk.” The picture changed once more. “Does anyone know something about any of these serpents?” She crossed her arms and looked at the class disapprovingly. “Tut, tut. These were all in your books, too, which I was under the impression you had actually read.”

Anabel raised her hand.

“Yes, Davies.”

“Well, I’m guessing the sea serpent lives in the sea.” The room broke out into laughter.

Merrythought’s eyes flashed menacingly. “I don’t appreciate your cheek, Ms. Davies. Five points from Slytherin.” The room silenced immediately. “Now does anyone know something real about them?”

She glared at the class, daring them all to respond.

Lidya Scamander glanced at the picture of the basilisk still on the wall
and raised her hand slowly.

“Scamander?” Merrythought said with an air of surprise. Lidya was usually the last person to answer questions, and she had never raised her hand, except to say that the bell had rung in History of Magic when Binns ignored it. She was the only student Binns knew by name in that class, and the others teased her about it to no end. “All right, go ahead.”

“Erm, well, there’s an engraving on one of the taps in one of the girl’s bathrooms that looks kind of like that.”

Merrythought eyed her suspiciously. “I doubt that, Scamander. The basilisk is a very rare and dangerous snake. The Founders would not have engraved it onto a tap.”

“Maybe a student did it,” Orion Black piped in.

“Mr. Black, you didn’t raise your hand.” Merrythought said angrily. “Speak out of turn again and I’ll take another five points.”
 

“It didn’t look like a student did it,” Lidya said calmly. “It was really lifelike.”

“I doubt it’s a basilisk then. It could be just any snake,” Merrythought said with a tone of finality. “Now can we please get back to the lesson?”

“But professor, it looks exactly li-”

“Enough! I will not hear another word about this so called basilisk on a tap in my classroom. Now get out your quills and parchment. You clearly have a lot of note-taking to do, as you can’t even tell me one simple thing about any of these! Have none of you opened your books all year?” Her hair puffed up as it usually did when she was angry. The students knew to shut up when her hair puffed up, because she was very prone to taking away points. They kept their heads down as they rummaged in their bags for quills.

All except Tom, who raised his hand tentatively.

“What?” Merrythought nearly yelled at him.

“I believe that the sea serpent has never killed a wizard,” he said. “And one of the more common places where it’s found is the Mediterranean.”

Merrythought put a hand to her temple and took a deep breath. “Thank you, Riddle. At least somebody reads in this class. Take five points for Slytherin. As for the rest of you, why aren’t you copying that down?”

There was a hurried scratching of quills on parchment as the students scribbled down what he had said, not wanting to anger their teacher any farther. When Merrythought turned her back, each and every one of them turned to smile at Tom. He returned it, though if anyone had cared to notice, it didn’t reach his eyes. By the time Merrythought had turned back around, the students were bent low to their desks, taking notes. Her hair flattened out and the rest of the class passed without incident.

*

“I’ll see you later,” Tom told his classmates as they left the last lesson of the day. “I’ve, er, just got to check the library for a book.” Knowing they would just offer to come with him, he quickly said, “It’s in the Restricted Section and I’ve got a note from Professor Slughorn, but unfortunately, you lot can’t come with me. I’ll meet you in the common room as soon as I’m done.” He forced a smile before scurrying off.

Tom finally let the thoughts that had been bothering him ever since their Defense Against the Dark Arts class come to the forefront of his mind. A mark of a basilisk in the girl’s bathroom? It couldn’t just be a coincidence. Of course, he had no evidence that the supposed monster in the Chamber of Secrets was even a snake, let alone a basilisk, but the mark didn’t have to correspond with the monster within. Slytherin was known for snakes. He was a Parselmouth, loved snakes, and even the symbol of his house was a snake for crying out loud. Of course the mark to the entrance would be a snake. He had puzzled that out ages ago. And there were few places more mundane than the girl’s bathroom.

He wondered what the monster he would find would be. With as much time as he had spent mulling over the idea of the Chamber of Secrets, he had spent precious little thinking about the inside. The monster within would be strong enough to rid the school of Mudbloods, and that was good enough for him. He didn’t need to think about what it would be. But now that he was so close to his goal, the monster fascinated him.

The obvious answer was still a snake. It was Salazar Slytherin. He could control snakes, force them to do his bidding. But a small snake wiping out all the Mudbloods in the school? No, it was too subtle. It wouldn’t strike fear into the hearts of all those who harbored Mudbloods through the years. Slytherin would have wanted to be more dramatic.

So then there were the big snakes. A big snake would be too conspicuous though. How was that thing supposed to get around the school unnoticed? Well, there was always the option of traveling underground, and maybe Slytherin had also built some secret passageway system. But the method of killing would be conspicuous as well. Bloody deaths caused screaming and too much mess. It had to be something quick and painless.

And then it hit him. Tom couldn’t believe it hadn’t been obvious earlier. The snake would have to be a basilisk. The king of serpents, the monster of all monsters, there was no denying that it was simply perfect for the monster Slytherin hide in his Chamber. And even more, only Slytherin would be able to control it. His face brightened as he realized that a basilisk had to be the answer. Now that he had thought about it, there was simply nothing else that would work for him. He was positive that a basilisk lay in wait for him in the Chamber.

Of course, he would have to be careful around a basilisk. Yes, he could speak to it, but that didn’t make him immune to it. If he looked into the basilisk’s eyes, even by accident, that would be the end. But he didn’t plan to let that happen. He would control it. Slytherin would have made sure that he could. He certainly hoped he could control it, in any case. Without control, his game would be over before it started. If he could control it, of course, the basilisk would keep its head down at just a few spoken words from him.

He quickened his pace, the excitement flooding through his body. After years of constant searching, he was finally going to be able to open the chamber and complete his noble ancestor’s mission. He was finally going to be able to cleanse the school, thus fulfilling his purpose here. This had to be the answer to everything. He was sure of it.

Tom stopped short in the corridor. He was far enough away from the others now that he could backtrack away from the library. He needed to look at the snake in the girl’s bathroom next. He had spent the better part of last year, when he had finally realized that the Chamber would be marked with a snake looking for such a marker, but had found virtually nothing. Yes, he had found some snakes on paintings and such, but none of them yielded the answer. He felt almost feverish with anticipation. A snake on a tap was simply ingenious. No one would think to look there. And if it was a basilisk too, it had to be what he was looking for. He stopped on the sixth floor, about to walk into the girl’s bathroom when his senses returned to him and he came to an abrupt halt, two feet away from the door, his hand already stretched out to turn the knob.

What the hell are you doing? He chastised himself angrily. He had nearly walked into a girl’s bathroom. That would have, at the very least, cost him points, and his reputation as well. What was more, he didn’t even know which girl’s bathroom Lidya had been talking about. It wasn’t necessarily this one at all. And while he was willing to risk examining one girl’s bathroom, he couldn’t possibly hope to do every one. He was bound to get caught at some point of time if he did that. The adrenaline rush he had just experienced left his body suddenly, taking the eager feeling with it and Tom slouched, feeling both let down and mad at himself.

Tom backed up several steps and leaned against a wall, trying to regain his composure. He couldn’t let the excitement get to him like that again. He was going to have to be more careful if he wanted to pull this off. He took several deep breaths before deciding he was okay to go back to the other Slytherins. If he didn’t go back soon, one of them would surely come looking for him.

Tom found his classmates nothing more than bothers most of the time, but they had their uses. And there were no Mudblood Slytherins. So them, he could deal with.

Tom straightened his shoulders and began to walk again, slower, but still with purpose. He hid for a moment in a hidden passage next to the library and summoned a book that looked like it could have been in the restricted section. Now they would have no reason to ask questions, and if they did, he could just say that he hadn’t been able to find it. They would eat up anything he said. That was the advantage of never getting too close to anyone. Other than the fact that he didn’t have a desire to make friends, as soon as you made one friend, you alienated the rest of the students, and he didn’t want to do that. Someone would end up with a grudge and come looking for him. Someday, that would be okay with him, when he had power and strength. But for now, he needed to do things away from the spotlight. It was the best way to survive.

*

Amaya groaned. She was sitting at a table in the Slytherin common room, trying to concentrate on a Herbology essay when all she really wanted to do was sleep. She didn’t really care if it was only five o’clock, she was exhausted. She threw her quill down and looked next to her. Anabel was doodling in the margins of her Potions book while staring out the window. So she wasn’t the only one having trouble concentrating.

“Oi,” Amaya said sharply, poking her friend on the arm. Anabel’s head jerked back as she snapped out of her reverie. “What, did I just interrupt a life changing revelation or something?

“Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention.” She shook her head, the misty look in her eyes disappearing.

“I can see that. But you ruined your potions book.” Amaya pointed to the doodles of hearts she had been drawing.

Anabel glanced down. “It’s just in the margins.”

“You were supposed to be doing homework.”

“Yeah, because you were doing an amazing job.”

Amaya looked down at the one sentence on her parchment. “Touché.” She leaned back in her chair, sighing. “I wonder where Tom is. He’s been gone for a while now.”

“Honestly, Amaya, is that all you think about these days?”

“N-No.”

“It’s all you talk about. Do you fancy him, or obsess over him?”

“Everyone in the school fancies him!”

“Yes, but you aren’t everyone. Do you fancy him?”

Amaya sighed. She had been hoping to avoid this question when she answered, but Anabel had seen right through it. She had been thinking about her feelings for Tom ever since her first night at Hogwarts, and she still hadn’t been able to come to a conclusion. She knew that she liked him. She knew that she wanted him to like her. But she didn’t know why.

The simple answer to Anabel’s question, however, was yes, so Amaya opened her mouth and forced herself to utter the word. “Yes. Yes, of course I do.”

Anabel didn’t look entirely convinced, but she didn’t push Amaya farther. “You’re wrong, by the way. Not everyone fancies him.”

Amaya looked surprised. “Well, can you name someone who doesn’t?”

“Me,” Anabel said simply, ignoring Amaya’s expression of surprise. “I don’t fancy him one bit. Anymore, at least.”

Amaya resisted the urge to gape, and instead shrugged. “Whatever. You’ve just given up on him, that’s all, and I don’t intend to do that. I will get to know him.”

Anabel smirked. “And how do you plan to do that?”

“Erm…I’ll think of that part later?”

“Well, you can start by going over and saying hello to him.”

“What? Is he here?” Amaya whipped around in her chair to see Tom clambering into the common room. He walked over to the chair closest to the fire, the most coveted spot, but Tom had gotten it since third year, a feat yet unmatched. He sat down casually, a smile breaking out on his face. Amaya stood up, knocking the chair and hitting her knee before wobbling over to sit on an empty spot on the couch.

The room felt silent for a moment, as if Tom was the king and the rest of the students his subjects, and they were waiting for him to issue a decree. Finally, Ella spoke.

“Thanks for saving our necks in Defense Against the Dark Arts today, Tom,” she said with a sickly sweet tone in her voice, but if Tom noticed, he didn’t say anything.

“No problem. That was a strange class, anyways.”

“I thought Merrythought had gone mental,” Orion Black added.

“She got so annoyed at me,” Lidya whined. “I was telling the truth.”

She looked around at the other girls for support.

“I haven’t seen any snake engravings, but I don’t spend my time in the loo looking at taps,” Amaya said quickly, wanting to get a word in.
“Neither have I. Which bathroom is it in, anyway?” Ella asked her.

“The one on the second floor.”

“Eurgh, I hate that bathroom,” Amaya cut in. “There’s something weird about it. And there’s that one faucet that doesn’t work.”

Lidya nodded her agreement. “Yeah, I try to avoid it too. But the faucet that doesn’t work, that’s the one with the basilisk on it.”

Ella raised her eyebrows. “I’ll have a look next time I’m there,” she said.

And if anyone had cared to notice, they could have seen a sinister look of triumph in Tom’s eyes for the briefest of seconds before it disappeared.

Edit March 2012; This chapter didn't change all that much, but it didn't have an author's note to begin with. Thanks to everyone who's been reading and reviews are lovely :)

-Naida

 
 

 
 
 
 


Chapter 4: The Slug Club
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Chapter Image by RoxiMalfoy@TDA

 


“Tom? Tom?”

Tom jerked up, looking around to identify the voice. “Sorry, what?” he said to no one in particular.

“You were staring off into space,” Ella said gently.

“Oh, er, sorry,” Tom said again, rubbing the back of his neck self-consciously. Pull it together, he thought to himself. You promised yourself that you wouldn’t let this get to you. It had been more than a week since Tom had found the clue to what he was positive was the entrance to the Chamber. Since then, he had been spending his breaks hovering around the girl’s bathroom, waiting for it to be empty, but there always seemed to be either someone in the bathroom itself, or in the corridor. He was becoming increasingly frustrated, drawing back and losing some of his presence. The fire and determination that was in his eyes a week ago was gone, replaced with a dull sheen.

“What were you thinking about?” she asked in a sugary sweet voice.

“Nothing important.”

“Has Tom got a girl on his mind?” Orion Black said with a smirk.

Tom smiled good-naturedly. “Not this time.”

Ella flipped her hair over her shoulder. “This time? When have you had a girl on you mind?”

Tom’s smile widened, but he said nothing.

“I hate her,” Amaya whispered. She and Anabel were sitting a few feet away from the main group, farther from the fire. She didn’t care much for the spot, as it was far away from Tom, but the one thing she liked about the it was that she could talk without being overheard. It was worth it, in the end, to have some privacy “Why does she have to be so bloody perfect?”

“Tom obviously isn’t interested,” Anabel said distantly, curling a strand of hair around her quill.

“I know, but still.”

Anabel shrugged and glanced down at her watch. “Hey, I need to go. I promised Ellie I’d meet her in the library today.” Ellie was Anabel’s younger sister, but she had been sorted into Hufflepuff, much to the distaste of her family. Ellie herself had not liked the choice of her House, and she spent the majority of her time trying to get away from the Hufflepuffs. She considered herself a Slytherin, and everybody knew that, but Anabel and her didn’t talk often, mostly because they didn’t see each other. They tried to make it a point to meet every now and then, so Amaya figured it was just one of those times.

“Oh, all right. If you must.”

“I’ll see you tonight, then.”

“Okay,” Amaya said dully, expecting an uneventful evening. She supposed it would be a good enough reason to actually get some homework done, but it was more likely that she’d end up doodling on a scrap piece of paper while letting her mind wander. Resigning herself to a thoroughly boring evening, she picked up her Transfiguration book and began to stare at the pages, reading the words, but not taking in any of the meanings.

“Amaya!” came a deep voice behind her. “We need to talk.”

*

Tom inwardly sighed. They were getting to be so bloody annoying. He wished they would leave him alone. He couldn’t even think anymore, without them swarming on him, demanding to know what was on his mind. Still, what could he do? He couldn’t just demand that they all leave him alone. If anything, that would make them more eager to learn what he was going to do. And he had learned that lesson the hard way.

Several years ago, at the orphanage, when he had first discovered how to use his powers, a small boy and girl had come across him practicing moving things without touching them. He now knew that to be a less sophisticated version of locomotor mortis, of course, but at the time, he didn’t know what to think of it. At first, he researched his powers, but soon gave up on it. It didn’t really matter what it was, he realized. It only mattered that he could do it.

The boy and girl had seen him moving a marble. Just a marble, rolling across the floor, like it was being pushed by a gentle breeze. But there was no breeze, and Tom was the only one in the room. He had made the mistake of telling them it was his own special power that they couldn’t know about. To go away and leave him alone. They had followed him for days, demanding to know what he was talking about. He had eventually scared them into being quiet, but in the process, he had learned his lesson. If he had simply told them that he was trying to figure it out, too, he would have never had the problem. From it, he had learned how to tell half-truths and partial lies. From it, he had learned how to act.


“I have a letter to give to Mr. Tom Riddle,” a tiny voice squeaked by Tom’s ear, shaking him out of his reverie. He looked down to see a small boy, no more than eleven (and a short eleven too), looking up in awe at him.

Tom plastered his kindest smile onto his face. “Thank you.” He took the letter from the boy’s hand and shook it open in one motion, scanning it briefly.

“What is it?” Ella asked breathlessly.

“We have a Slug Club meeting tonight,” Tom answered, speaking over the top of his letter to the other boys gathered around that were also in Slughorn’s private group of prized students. “The first one of the year. It’s rather later than usual, don’t you think?”

“Definitely,” Cygnus Black said quickly.

“It’s at seven. Sluggy says he has dinner prepared, so we shouldn’t bother eating before.”

“As boring as his dinners are, no one can argue that he has the best food,” Orion Black said with a laugh.

“Well, look at the size of him! What else do you expect?” Cygnus added, laughing harder.

Tom laughed quietly. “It’s always something to look forward to. I’d better go and dig out a box of something sweet in that case.”

“Blimey, you always have something for him,” Orion said, his eyes widening.

“Always nice to get into his good books,” Tom said softly. He glanced at his watch. “Twenty minutes. You go on ahead. I’ll meet you there.” He rose swiftly, waving his wand so his books and papers neatly stacked themselves and hovered behind him, following him as he walked up the stairs. The remaining boys watched his retreating back almost longingly, as if they wished to be him, but no one moved. Even if Tom wasn’t there, no one dared to sit in his seat. Incoming first years soon learned that lesson. Tom had never been out rightly rude to anyone who did so, but one who did would find himself ostracized from Tom’s group of friends. It simply wasn’t done.

*

Amaya whirled around, finding herself face to face with Demitriov Avery, a Slytherin seventh year boy who was already expected to rise to the top of the Ministry once he graduated. She wrinkled her nose in disgust.

Avery was a typical pure blood. Prejudiced, hateful, rude. More than that, he seemed to be cruel. He seemed to like being cruel.

Unfortunately, the Avery and Fitz families had been close for centuries, so Amaya was forced to spend time with him. She tried to avoid him the best she could at school, as their dislike was mutual.

“What do you want, Avery? And I wasn’t aware that we were on a first name basis.”

“There’s no need to be so rude, Fitz. I just have a message from your Mummy.”

“Why would she give it to you? Why not send it to me directly?”

“Don’t ask me. I’m just the messenger.”

“Fine. Tell me what you need and go.”

He tossed her a letter. “In there. Basically, it’s saying that you’re getting a huge surprise when you come home for Christmas.”

“You read my mail?”

“I had to make sure it was safe for a pretty girl like you.”

Amaya swung out at him with her free arm, but he dodged it easily. “Shut up, and leave me alone.”

Avery stepped back and mocked fear. “Wouldn’t want me to tell Mummy you were so rude to me, would you?”

“What do you want from me?”

“Nothing. I already said that.”

“Then why aren’t you going?”

He laughed. “You have to read the letter first.”

Amaya held in the urge to hit him again and opened the envelope. It had been resealed, but clumsily, and Amaya could easily tell that it had been broken before. She shook the letter open and immediately recognized her Mother’s thin script.

Dearest Amaya,

You, my darling, are growing up so fast. Just think: in a month, you will be sixteen. This is now a time to begin thinking about your future.
We, that is, your father and I, are very proud of our one and only daughter. We only want your happiness. But at the same time, we have to do what is best for you, and for our family, and for this reason, we have been searching or a suitable husband for you for some time. After much negotiation, we have three boys in mind for you, all of which will help you rise to a position of wealth and power. There is still much to be done before we can arrange the match, but we hope to have the name of the boy we have chosen by Christmas. We are certain that you will be just as happy as we are, though we will of course let you approve the match.

I have sent this letter to Demitriov Avery as you don’t seem to receive my letters at times. I trust that he will deliver it to you in confidence. We look forward to seeing you at Christmas and giving you the name of the boy we have selected for your approval.

Love always,
Mummy

Amaya read the letter through twice before its meaning registered in her brain. She glanced up to see Avery smirking at her.

“There. I’ve read it. Now go.”

He shrugged, and turned to leave. “Ickle Amaya is growing up!”

“Don’t you dare tell anyone!” She yelled, suddenly realizing that he would love to embarrass her in any way possible.

He simply smirked again, and left, leaving Amaya to focus on the letter.

She had always known that her parents would expect her to marry a respectable pureblood, but never had she fathomed that they would find someone when she was fifteen. She hadn’t even taken her O.W.L.’s yet, let alone thought about marriage. And once she had become fixated with Tom, the idea of an arranged marriage had been pushed to the back of her mind. If anything, though, the letter had made her more determined to get Tom before Christmas. Then she could always tell her parents she didn’t like their choice, and introduce them to Tom. She was positive that they would love him as soon as they met him. She didn’t see how they couldn’t.

*

Tom straightened his tie and checked that his collar was creased neatly. He had to look his best for Slughorn. He was the one teacher Tom could wrap around his finger. He was almost positive that Slughorn would kill someone for him if he asked him nicely enough. Tom needed to keep that favor. He rummaged through his trunk until he found a box of Honeydukes chocolate. That would do for today. Tom stocked up on Honeydukes sweets at every Hogsmeade visit, for this reason alone.

Tom hurried down the stairs and back into the common room, glancing at his watch. It was ten minutes to seven. He quickened his pace, not wanting to be late. Pushing past several first years impatiently with a blunt “excuse me”, he walked out of the common room and down the hall. Thankfully, Slughorn’s office was in the dungeons, so it didn’t take long.

He caught up with the other boys just as the clock began to strike seven and Slughorn’s office door opened.

“Tom, m’boy!” Slughorn said happily, slapping Tom’s back and motioning for him to come in. “Lestrange, Black, nice to see you both,” he said after a pause, ushering the other five or six boys into the room. “Mulciber’s been here all day, asking for help with his homework, bless his soul, so I decided to let him stay for dinner with us.”

The scrawny, fourth year boy shot the others a proud smirk before resuming his quiet grin.

“Thank you,” he said politely.

“We were working on the Sticking Solution. He was determined to make it perfectly, so we made a good four batches of the thing together. It’s almost as if he wanted to pull a prank on someone!” Slughorn laughed loudly at his own joke.

The boys chuckled politely.

“Al lright then, sit down, sit down.”

“Sir,” Tom started, moving toward him. “I brought a box of Honeydukes’ finest chocolate for you. As a welcome back present.”

Slughorn laughed. “You always know how to make an old man happy, Tom! Thank you, m’boy. Do have a seat now. How about here, to my right. Sorry, Lestrange, but you’ll have to move over one. Thank you.”

Tom took his seat, still smiling, though his mind was elsewhere.

A Sticking Solution would fix his problem immediately. It was a potion that, when touched, would attach whatever had touched it to the potion. He honestly couldn’t believe that he hadn’t thought of it before.

There were still problems with it, of course. He would have to maneuver through the potion. And he needed a reason for why he had the potion in the first place. He couldn’t just walk through Hogwarts with a Sticking Solution and expect the teachers to not be suspicious.

As he spooned mashed potatoes into his mouth, Tom reasoned through his options. He could either carry it himself, or ask a student to do it for him. The latter would probably be easier. He could be very convincing when needed, and that way, the spilled potion wouldn’t be his fault. A younger student would work best, as they would be less likely to question him.

But then he had to work out how to make the kid fall. It couldn’t seem intentional, of course. The kid, whoever it might be, had to believe that he accidentally tripped and fell. So scaring the kid was out, but he could always hit him with a jinx from behind. A trip jinx would do it.

And then there was the problem of getting through the potion himself. There was an antidote to the Sticking Solution, of course, a sort of counter potion. If he could get his hands on that, he could get through the potion, but no one else would be able to. Slughorn would probably have some of the counter potion, come to think of it. It would be easy to get it from him.

Tom ran through the plan once again in his mind. He would ask a younger student to carry the Sticking Solution somewhere for him, and then hit the kid with a trip jinx from behind so the potion would fall. Then he would put the counter on his own shoes, and go into the bathroom while everyone was trying to figure out what had happened. No one would be able to get in though, so he was safe.

Unless, of course, they had the counter. He’d have to make sure he took Slughorn’s entire stock of it. It was a complicated potion to brew, taking over a week to simmer before it could be completed, so there was no danger of him being visited. If anyone saw him coming out of the bathroom, he could say that he was in the corridor when it spilled, and then jumped inside the bathroom to stop himself from being drenched by the potion. Altogether, it really was the perfect plan.

“Pheasant, Tom?” Slughorn asked. Tom looked up, focusing on the table once more.

“Yes, thank you, Sir.”

“Take as much as you like. Gravy?”

“Sure, thanks.”

“So, Black. Orion. Tell me, did you go to the Minister’s Summer Ball this year?”

He swallowed hastily and took a sip of water before answering. “Oh yes, of course Sir. We have very close ties with the Ministry, of course. It was brilliant.”

“Meet anyone special?”

“The Minister himself, actually.”

Tom effectively tuned out the rest of the conversation. It was the same as any other dinner party; Slughorn questioned the boys about who they had met, and bragged about the people he had taught. Luckily, being orphaned, Tom was excused from this part of the conversation, and he could eat in peace. Afterwards, he would have to talk to Slughorn and get the potion, if he had any. If not…Then Tom would have to rethink, and fast.

*

“Alright, boys, goodnight. We’ll have another little get together soon. Look out for my message, alright?” Slughorn grinned as he waved them out the door, then turned to face Tom. “Now why am I not surprised to see you still standing here?”

Tom smiled patiently. “It seems as though I always have something to ask of you, Sir. This time, pertaining to a specific potion.”

“Indeed. And what would that be?”

Tom let his expression slide into a slightly sheepish grin. “Actually, Sir, it’s a simple Sticking Solution. You see, I wanted to examine it and see why the unicorn hair is needed. It seems like such an unnecessary ingredient.”

“Well, you’re quite right about that. Though it does help to give it that sheen, I can’t think of much else it would do.”

“What I really wanted, was to study a potion that was already made. Of course, I could do it myself, but I thought, if you already had one readymade…”

“Nonsense! Mulciber made a perfect batch today; I’ll just give you that. How much do you want?”

“I think I better just take the whole thing, Sir, just in case. Thank you.”

“Let me just put that in a bottle for you, then.”

“And if I can just bother you for one more thing. Terribly sorry, Sir, but just to be precautious, I might need some of the counter. Do you, by any chance, have some of that?”

“I did keep a little on hand. I’ll give you what I have if that’s okay.”

“Perfect. Thank you again.”

“No problem at all, m’boy.” He handed Tom two bottles, one considerably larger than the other, and held open the door.

“You best be going then.”

“I suppose you’re right. Thank you for the evening, Professor.”

“And thank you for the chocolates. I do love them.”

Tom smiled. “Bye, Sir.”

“Bye, Tom.”
 

So... I wanted to add a new element in for Amaya. What did you think? And thanks for all the lovely people who have been reading and reviewing this, and to everyone who favorited this. I was shocked when I saw that, but you all make me grin. As always, I love reviews :) Even if it's as simple as, this was great or horrible, let me know!

Edit April 2012; This chapter has been close to rewritten in some parts. I hope it makes a lot more sense now.

-Naida

 
 
 
 
 


Chapter 5: The Entrance
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Tom gritted his teeth and tried to tune out the meaningless conversation swamping him from all sides. He was done. He was frustrated, tired, and he needed to start carrying out his plan, but he was instead swarmed with a gaggle of students. He didn’t even know what would come next. They’d be begging to kiss his arse literally instead of doing it in the metaphorical sense. But power came with a price, and he would not be one of those too weak to seek it.

Still, it had only become worse over the years.

He had become a favorite of the staff within his first month at Hogwarts. His willingness to learn and his natural charm, coupled with his skill had enabled him to rise to the top of his class. He was so friendly, always offering to help another student or clean up after a class. It still surprised him that no one saw through it. Why would he, a wizard prodigy, ever bother with the less talented? In a world like this, they’d only drag him down.

The students had taken longer to warm to him. They resented him for being in Slytherin when he wasn’t a pureblood. At first, they called him out as a Muggle born. He now knew he was a Half-Blood, of course, but he chose not to emphasize that. He wasn’t proud of having a Muggle for a father. On top of that, he had to share his filthy, common place name. But the Slytherins knew he wasn’t the usual mold of a Slytherin, so they became icy towards him. Eventually, once they had seen the extent of his skill and learned of his magical parent, they had begun to warm to him. The girls seemed to be attracted to his looks and his ease, while the boys were attracted to his easy power. He had enjoyed the attention, after never getting any in the orphanage. No positive attention, in any case. But he soon found himself a group of admirers.

Over the course of a few months, they had become fiercely loyal to him. But he used them, put up with them, only for the power they gave him. They were nothing more than tools, weapons, to use at his disposal. He kept them close.

It had been nice at first. They would have done anything for him, but they respected his privacy and his space. As time passed, he got no such luxuries, unfortunately enough. He was constantly surrounded. He put up with them for the benefits alone.

But it was hard when they were so bloody annoying. He stood up finally, unable to take the constant chatter anymore. The group around him fell silent.

“Just one second. I have to return something to Slughorn.” He left before they could ask any more questions, touching the vial of potion in the pocket of his robes. His looked straight ahead, avoiding the gaze of anyone else in the room. Stepping through the wall and into the hallway of the dungeons, Tom took a deep breath, glad to let his guard down. Now he just had to find a first year.

*

Amaya watched Tom from a distance, as usual. Always from a distance. Never closer. She sighed, gazing at the soft grey of his eyes. They weren’t bright and alive as they usually were, for some reason. Instead they were dull, reserved, exhausted. Her eyebrows wrinkled, creasing her forehead. Something wasn’t right. Tom never looked exhausted.

But the people around him didn’t notice. Just kept on with their petty affections.

Amaya’s heart began to flutter. Now was her chance. Now she could finally show him that she wasn’t like the others. That she really cared about him as a person.

She laid down her quill, hands shaking slightly as a thousand fantasies played through her head. She would walk up to him and ask him what was wrong. If he was tired. If she could do anything for him. And then he’d smile his adorable smile and thank her for noticing. And then maybe he’d ask her to go for a walk around the grounds, just to clear his head, and of course, she would say yes. And everything would spiral from there.

A slow grin spreading across her face, Amaya tried to hold in her excitement as she stood up, just as Tom did. She took a step forward, but Tom was already moving across the room. For a brief moment, her eyes lit up as she saw him coming towards her, but then he walked right past her without so much as a glance in her direction.

She slumped back into her seat, sighing and putting her face in her hands. There went that plan. Now she had no hope of convincing him.

Nothing ever went right when it came to Tom. She glanced behind her, hoping to see that Tom was still in the room, but he was gone. A piece of blank parchment and a quill caught her attention, and slowly, an idea began to form.

If she could never find him alone, she would have to talk to him in other ways. He couldn’t ignore more concrete forms of communication, like a letter. She grinned, wondering why she had never thought of it before. She could quite easily slip him a letter, and he would have to pay attention to it.

Even more, she wouldn’t make a fool of herself in a letter. She could draft it out thirty times if she wanted. And she wouldn’t become red faced and sweaty and start stuttering.

But a letter was so boring. Would he think that she didn’t care enough to talk to him in person? A letter was impersonal, in a lot of ways. She had to find a way to make it different.

And then it hit her.

She would write to him anonymously, leaving little hints as to what her identity was. She would make him guess as to who she was. And eventually, when she was ready and when she was sure that he had a good idea as to who she was, she would tell him to meet her somewhere.

Amaya was certain that this plan would work.

Eleven crumpled sheets of parchment later, Amaya decided that her note would suffice.

I love the way your eyes gleam when you are happy. I love the way your hair lies perfectly flat on your head. I see you. But you do not see me.

She grinned, admiring her handiwork. He would never know it was her, and thus he would have no problem falling in love with this anonymous girl. What could possibly go wrong?

Feeling slightly queasy, Amaya stood up and headed for the stairs. She almost turned to the left before realizing she was going into the boy’s dormitory this time.

Not bothering to stop and think what people would assume if they saw her, Amaya started up the stairs for the boys’ dorms. She passed doors labeled first, second, third, and fourth years before coming to a large mahogany door labeled fifth years.

She pushed it open tentatively, not knowing what to expect when she looked inside.

The boys’ dorm actually looked more or less the same as her own. There were six beds instead of five lining the walls, but other than that, the structure of the dormitory was identical. The room was cluttered, but with different things.

In the girls’ dorm, makeup, shoes, and hair products littered the floor. Clothes, on the other hand, were always folded and stored neatly in trunks. Here, shirts and shorts were strewn across the floor, and half empty trunks lay beside the beds, in many cases, turned on their side. Amaya studied the room for a moment before realizing that all six areas looked more or less the same. She had no idea which bed was Tom’s.

Sighing once more, she walked over to the first bed on her left. A half written essay lay on the bedside table, but the handwriting was a scrawl instead of Tom’s neat script. She moved on, glancing for some form of identification and then moving to the next bed. Finally, on the fifth bed she checked, she found a completed essay with Tom Riddle written on the top.

Amaya grinned, glad to have found his things at last. She laid the roll of parchment on top of his essay,. But it wasn’t bold. No, she had to make sure that he saw it. Smiling, an idea sparking in her mind, Amaya took a ribbon from her own hair and tied it around the scroll. That should help it stand out.

Deciding it was all she could do and that she better leave before someone walked in, Amaya darted through the door and down the stairs. Tom still hadn’t returned. She slipped back into her seat from before, pulled out her Charms textbook, and began her essay, glancing towards the entrance to the common room every few minutes, her eyes seeking a dark haired, pale face.

*

Tom leaned against a wall in an upstairs corridor. It was empty at the time being, but he was confident that someone would walk past soon. It wasn’t the most visited of places, but it was important in different ways. From here, Tom could see the corridor that the girl’s bathroom was in. He would easily be able to hit someone with a trip jinx if he just took two steps forward.

The simplicity of his plan was almost beautiful. He didn’t need any complicated spells, nor did he risk much danger of being caught. There was very little that could go wrong.

Except, of course, if no one turned up.

Just as he thought it, he saw a small boy wearing a green tie and looking extremely nervous walking towards him. He seemed to be in a hurry, but he was a Slytherin, and therefore easy to exploit. Everyone in Slytherin knew that you never refused Tom Riddle.

Tom began walking towards the boy. When he was only a few feet away, he bent down as if he had dropped something. As he expected, the boy bumped right into him, scuttling backwards as quickly as he could.

Tom got to his feet and opened his mouth to speak, but the boy was already talking.

“I’m so sorry, Mr. Riddle,” he said nervously.

Tom smiled kindly. “That’s quite all right.”

The boy returned his smile tentatively.

“But you know, I was just looking for someone to do me a huge favor,” Tom continued. “Would you mind?”

The boy glanced at his watch, and then back up at Tom. Tom could sense the internal battle in his mind. Refuse Tom but be on time for whatever he was doing? Or agree and be late? Which was more important?

“S-Sure,” the boy stuttered after a moment’s pause. He spoke again quickly, though, before Tom could get a word in. “As long as it won’t take too long. I have an appointment with…” he trailed off, blushing.

Tom inwardly smirked, but he said nothing about the boy’s blush out loud. Obviously, he had some sort of meeting with a girl. Why did people make themselves so easy to read? From his pocket, he took the vial of Sticking Solution and handed it to the boy.

“It won’t take very long at all. Would you give this back to Professor Slughorn for me? Tell him thank you and that it’s from Tom.”

“All right,” the boy said, glancing at Tom quickly before looking away. It was evident that he wanted to get on his way.

“Thank you.” Tom smiled again, turning away slightly so the boy knew he was free to go. He left quickly, though not as quickly as he had come. Tom watched him leave, taking a few steps so he would have a clear aim at the corridor. To his utter disgust, however, the boy did not turn into the corridor with the girl’s bathroom in it. Instead, he walked right past it.

After a second’s confusion, Tom realized that the boy was, in fact, putting his date before the potion. He obviously intended to return the potion after he met up with his little friend.

Damn.

Thinking quickly, Tom cast a dillusionment charm on himself. He darted into the corridor with the girl’s bathroom. He knew he was almost out of time. In another thirty seconds, the boy would be out of earshot. And his new plan was even riskier. It could attract the attention of the entire school.

But he had no other choice.

Tom jabbed his wand sharply into the air, and it let off a high pitched wail that could easily be mistaken as a scream. He could only hope, now, that the boy would hear it and return.

To his utter relief, he heard the pounding of footsteps from around the corner, and the boy rushed to help whoever it was that had “screamed.”

Tom had no time to waste. “Trinius,” he muttered.

Instantly, the boy fell, as if he had tripped over an invisible foot. The potion vial fell from his hands and clattered onto the floor, shattering and spilling its contents. The boy was lucky. The potion shattered behind him, so he was able to get up and run away from it, never looking back.

“Confundo,” Tom said quickly. It was best to be sure the boy remembered nothing of this. Just in case.

Snickering, he waited a few moments, putting his wand back inside the pocket of his robes and watching the potion spread across the floor. It inched closer to him, covering the hallway until entering the girl’s bathroom would be impossible. Well, for anyone except him.

Eager to start the next part of his plan, Tom took another vial from his robes. He unstoppered it, wrinkling his nose at the putrid smell, and dabbed the potion onto the soles of his shoes before proceeding to walk gingerly towards the sticking solution. He touched one toe to it first, just testing to see that the counter worked, and his foot came free easily.

Tom opened the door to the bathroom, shutting it carefully behind him. An almost manic grin spread across his face. This was it. The moment he had been waiting for since first year, almost.

He strode confidently towards the sinks, inspecting each faucet for the sign of Salazar Slytherin. The tarnished silver bore no marks, however, until he reached the very last one. Immediately, he felt a strange tug, pulling him towards the faucet.

His fingers reached for the metal, stroking it, almost lovingly, until he came across a rough patch. His eyes locked on the perfect image of a basilisk. It was almost real looking in the dim light of the bathroom.
Tom closed his eyes, his grin becoming wider as he spoke the words, determined they would work this time.

A strangled, hissing noise erupted from his mouth, combing with a low, grinding noise as he finished. His eyelids fluttered open. There, directly in front of him was a narrow shoot, descending into the darkness.
Tom’s eyes flashed red, before cooling, and he laughed in triumph. He had done it. He had found the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets.


A/N: Some action from Amaya. Thought it was about time. And my attempt at a cliff hanger. How did I do? The little box at the bottom of the page lets you tell me :) Even a one word review is great!

Edit June 2012; fixed it up a bit and added a new CI

-Naida

 
 

 
 
 
 


Chapter 6: The Basilisk
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Tom extracted his wand from his robes and lit it, holding it so the light extended into the chute. Still, it looked like it would never end.

Pausing for only a moment, Tom’s eyes fell on a bar of soap on the sink. Taking it, he quickly transfigured it into a rock.

He then proceeded to throw the rock into the chute, listening carefully for the telltale crash that would signal it had reached the bottom. But it took much longer, and came much fainter, than he expected.

Swallowing his fear, Tom took a deep breath, lowered himself into the chute, and pushed off. Instantly, he felt as though he had been punched in the stomach. His breath left him and he tumbled down the chute at a breakneck speed. He slowed towards the end, but just barely.

Tom landed in a heap at the bottom. He winced, sitting up gingerly and checking his arms and ribs for injuries, but he found nothing.

Realizing he was no longer holding his wand, Tom fumbled for it, finally seeing it lying two feet away from him. He scrambled for it, but just as his fingers touched the smooth wood, a shadowy figure rose up in front of him.

“What is your name,” it asked. It had a low voice, a sleek hiss, but it spoke in English. It’s tongue was unnaturally long and protruded from its mouth, but other than that, it resembled a human face.

Something told Tom that fear and weakness would only annoy the apparition. “Tom Marvolo Riddle,” he said clearly and as loudly as he could. He still felt weak and could not muster much strength, so it came softer than he would have liked. He hid his grimace and tried to look confident.

The apparition’s face contorted into something quite like a grin. If a grin was twisted and manic. “Ah, a Riddle. With the first name of “Tom”. Such a nasty, common name. But as you do have Slytherin’s blood running through your veins, I shall let you pass. But be warned, young Riddle, many trials await you. Only the strongest can succeed.”

It began to laugh, echoing in the chamber as it became louder and louder, until it disappeared in a puff of smoke.

Tom stayed still for a moment, completely shell-shocked. Then he flinched, realizing he suddenly felt much stronger. It seemed as though the apparition had helped him. He quickly stood and took a tentative step forward. When nothing happened, he began walking faster and faster until he broke into an all-out run.

Tom whipped around corners, his wand light extending only a few feet in front of him. His breathing quickened, but he just increased his pace. He could fee his heart thumping against the bones of his rib cage. It, too, quickened with each passing second.

Until he ran face first into a solid rock wall.

With a sickening crunch, Tom’s head jerked backwards. He stumbled, regaining his balance and immediately collapsing as his head started to spin.

He carefully placed two fingers on his nose. When he removed them, they were wet with blood.

“Damn it,” Tom muttered. He siphoned away the blood from his face, then inspected his nose again.

It ached, and it was extremely tender, but as far as he could tell, it wasn’t broken.

Sighing with relief, Tom got to his feet and placed both hands against the wall. He pushed with all his strength, but it would not move.

Moving methodically, Tom pressed against the entire wall, but he still found himself trapped behind it.

Okay…just…just take a step back, he told himself. The voice of the apparition still rung in his ears.

Many trials await you.

Looked like he had just come across his first.

Tom thought for several seconds. This was Slytherin’s chamber. What would Slytherin expect him to do? He tried speaking in Parseltongue first, but to no avail. The wall remained standing in all its perfection. He then tried “reducto,” but the curse simply rebounded off the wall and ricocheted about the Chamber.

Getting frustrated, Tom punched the wall with all his strength.

To his surprise, the stone began to crumble away, falling and disappearing until an archway stood in his place.

Tom gaped at it before he realized his hand was bleeding.

“Blood price,” he murmured. “I’ll remember that.” He walked forward, more cautiously this time. Instead of feeling triumphant over his victory, however, he felt strangely worried. If this was just the first obstacle, what would be coming next?

And the next came almost right away.

A wall of golden mist emerged around a corner not ten minutes after the previous. He skidded to a stop, eyes narrowing as he studied the substance. Taking a stone from the ground, he tossed it into the mist, but was surprised to find that it came out unscathed on the other side.

Was it just an illusion? Designed to test his reasoning?

Taking a deep breath, Tom walked into the mist. As soon as his toe touched it, the world spun until it appeared as though he was standing on the ceiling. He felt dizzy. But of all the spells he knew, there was none that could help him in this situation.

He stayed frozen, afraid he would fall if he took a step. His muscles clenched, but he still did not move, even as his legs began to shake. He gritted his teeth, rooted to the spot by pure uncertainty. Knowing that he would have to move sooner or later, Tom decided just to jump. And before he could change his mind, he pushed off hard, flipped in midair, and landed face down on what was now the floor.

He was going to be very very sore in the morning.

He was exhausted, and in some ways defeated. But he pushed on. Surprisingly, however, Tom encountered nothing for what felt like ages. Instead of being lulled into a sense of security he knew would be false, Tom became more alert with every heavy footfall.

Finally, he came to another dead end. This one, however, was adorned with a stone statue of a giant snake. And it was giant. Tom gazed at it in awe. Every detail was perfectly captured, and in his wandlight, it looked real.

Tom knew exactly what to do for once. He spoke to the snake in parseltongue. Its ruby red eyes began to glow with an eerie light as it moved to one side, twisting and writhing as it did so. It gazed at Tom when it finished, as if challenging him.

Enter if you dare, it seemed to say.

Tom dared. He took a step forward.

And then everything went black. Pitch black. Tom’s wand light was extinguished. There was nothing. Nothing except the darkness.

“Lumos,” Tom said hurriedly. But nothing happened. “Lumos,” he said again, more panicked this time. But it was still black as the twisted strands of licorice.

Cursing loudly, Tom tried a different approach. “Incendio!” A blazing ball of fire erupted from the end of his wand and disappeared promptly in midair.

“Does any magic work?” he thought aloud. Pointing his wand straight up, Tom shouted, “Reducto!”

A loud, cracking noise resounded through the thick black air. Tom felt momentarily relieved before he realized what he had just done.

“Bloody hell!”

Tom sprinted in the direction he believed the opening was, slamming into a rock wall (this time with his shoulder) and turning to his left. He scampered through the opening in the wall, going a few more feet before stopping, panting, and putting a hand to his chest in an attempt to catch his breath. He could now hear the pounding of falling rocks as they crashed into the ground.

He groaned, kicking himself for being so stupid. Why the hell did he use that spell? He could have transfigured a rock or something. Something that wouldn’t have put him in more danger. God knew he already had enough of that right now.

Finally, the shuddering stopped. Tom inched towards the entrance, praying it wouldn’t be blocked. He extended his hand, feeling for an opening and… he found one. It wasn’t huge, but it was large enough for him to be able to get out. Of course, he still had to get up the chute, but that was later.

For now, he had to explore this cavern. Thinking for a minute, Tom conjured a candle and with a wave of his wand, lit it.

It caught fire and flickered slowly, shedding a small bit of light on the enormous room. It was only enough light to see a few feet in front of him, but to Tom it was more than enough. As he took a step, however, the candle flickered out.

So it wasn’t going to be that simple. Tom lit the candle again, this time setting it on the floor. He took a tentative step, smiling softly as the glow continued to dance, illuminating his path. He took another step, and then another, and the candle continued. He let out a long breath.

Tom returned to the candle and positioned himself so he was facing in the opposite direction of the entrance. The he paced normally, counting his steps.

One…Two…Three…Four…

He continued until he got to ten, when he stopped and lit another candle. Then he started over, lighting a candle every ten paces. A light sheen of sweat coated the back of his neck. Whether it was from exertion or fear, he couldn’t tell.

He made a trail of candles, marking where he had been, all the while continuing in a straight line. Or so he hoped. He lit so many candles that he lost count of how far he had come. Only the continuous one…two…three… registered in his brain. He almost collapsed with relief when his fingers touched a wall once more. But his relief was short lived.

As he pulled back from the wall, each and every candle burned out.
But he didn’t even have time to panic before torches began to illuminate the walls. The room filled with a warm golden glow, providing an almost ethereal light. If he squinted, Tom could just barely make out the other side of the room, where he had come in. But that was not why he was here.

Tom turned, and all thoughts left his mind as he looked upon the face of Salazar Slytherin, carved perfectly in stone. If he had thought the snake statue was big, he was mistaken. This was easily five times the size of that, and five times as alluring. Tom took an unconscious step forward, drawn towards the statue. He stared into its eyes, eyes like molten gold, and a cool, calm voice filled his mind.

Welcome, my heir. You have reached the end of your journey. Rejoice, for your perils are over. You have proven yourself to be strong, intelligent, cunning. A true descendant of mine. Behind this wall lies a basilisk. He is your tool. Use him at your disposal to complete what I could not. Rid the school of Mudblood filth, thieves of magic. And then Hogwarts will truly be perfect. Good luck, my heir. Now call the basilisk to you. Call him to you… Call him to you… Call him to you…

The voice faded gradually, though Tom could still hear it lurking in the corner of his mind. His eyes flashed red again, feral with longing to please his ancestor. He would do what others had only dreamed of. He was the most powerful Wizard ever to be alive. Pausing only to breathe, Tom began chanting in Parseltongue. He closed his eyes, just to be safe, and kept up his rhythm.

“Come. Come. Come. Come.”

He could hear the all too familiar sound of grinding stone, and then a slinking slither that only meant one thing.

“Come to me. Bow to me.”

He opened his eyes, just barely. Just enough to see green scales under his gaze. He opened his eyes fully, now looking upon the biggest snake he had ever seen. Its body wrapped around the entire cavern. But its head was bowed so that its eyes were invisible to Tom. It knew its master.

“I act in the noble name of Salazar Slytherin. You will serve me.” Tom could feel his mouth moving, but he did not realize what he was saying. The words flowed through him, an ancient gift of honor. His noble ancestor had left him all he needed, and now, their power was combined.

“I will serve you,” the snake answered, also in Parseltongue. It’s voice was chilling, cold, yet toneless at the same time.

As if some sort of ritual had just taken place, Tom felt as though he was now bound to the snake. He knew that the basilisk was loyal to him. He paused a moment, inspecting its thick body. Just to be sure of the snake’s loyalty, Tom spoke again.

“You will rid the school of Mudbloods. You will attack only Mudbloods, and only when I tell you to.”

“I will.”

Breathing a small sigh of relief, Tom asked the question that had been plaguing him.

“And what if you are seen?”

“I will not be seen. I will use the pipes to make my way around the school, Master.”

“Very well. Let us go now, and I will provide you with your first kill.”

“I thirst for blood. Master, thank you.”

Tom turned to exit the room, but the basilisk nudged him gently with part of its body.

“It will be quicker if you just hold on to me.” It waited patiently. Even without being able to see its face, Tom could tell that it was expectant.

He sighed, deciding to give in. He was tired, hungry, weak, and it was a long walk back. He swung his leg over the basilisk unsteadily, sliding until he found a position. Its scales were slippery, but not impossible to hold on to.

And then the basilisk shot off. It was out the chamber door in a matter of seconds and around the first bend. It covered what had taken Tom hours in only three minutes. Before he could blink, the basilisk was slithering up the chute, acting as if it was defying gravity itself, and into the stark white, brightly lit bathroom. He instinctively threw a hand up to shield his eyes. After spending a night in the chamber, the room felt strange and much too brightly lit for him. He blinked several times, trying to grow accustomed to the light.

The basilisk waited, most of its body still in the chute. Tom waved a hand at it, signaling it to go, and it slipped into the pipe next to the entrance, which closed as Tom took a step away from it.

There was no sign that it had ever been open.

Tom made his way to the dusty mirror that hung over one of the even dustier sinks. Did anyone even use this bathroom? He wiped some of the dust away with his sleeve and took in his appearance.

He had several cuts on his face and hands, his robes were torn, and his hair had never looked so messy or matted. But those, luckily enough, were easily fixable.

He waved his wand over his various cuts, causing them to scab and then mostly heal. They were unnoticeable, in any case. It was a simple enough healing spell. He used his fingers to comb through his hair, making it lie as flat as possible. And then he turned his robes inside out. They looked the same both ways, and he didn’t have any tears on the hem, thankfully.

He then moved on to the more pressing problem. A spectacular black and blue bruise was smack dab in the middle of his face. Very visible. And he wasn’t quite advanced enough yet to heal that. He couldn’t think of a story, either. A bruise like that was hard to get.

Finally, Tom thought of the Blemish Vanisher he saw girls use sometimes. This was a girl’s bathroom. There had to be a bottle somewhere. He checked the cupboards under the sink, the cupboards over the sink, but it was not until he resorted to checking behind potted plants that he found it.

A yellow bottle, small, but with plenty of the potion left. He dabbed some onto his bruise, and the colors faded. It was only noticeable now if you knew where to look. It didn’t hurt any less, but he could deal with that. It would heal by tomorrow.

He looked in the mirror once more. By no means was he perfect, but he was as close as he could hope to get.

Tom fixed a sheepish, slightly shell shocked expression onto his face, took out his vial of the Counter potion, and slipped out of the bathroom.

*

“What the hell?”

Amaya gaped at a large crowd of people surrounding the hallway outside the girl’s bathroom. She squeezed her way through throngs of students and teachers alike, ignoring rude comments and standing on her tiptoes until she could see past them.

A strange yellow substance coated the stones. Three or four panicked students stood in it, seemingly unable to move One students was laying down in it, and the other was stuck in a permanent yoga pose, as both her hands were glued to the floor just in front of her feet. A yard to her left, Headmaster Armando Dippet was speaking urgently with Professor Slughorn. Amaya leaned closer to hear what they were saying.

“-was saying, Tom Riddle has my last bottle.”

“Well, where is Tom?”

“I don’t know, Sir. Sleeping, maybe. It is only nine in the morning.”

“Avery said he wasn’t in the dorm.”

“Tom’s a great boy, if that’s what you’re suggesting. Wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

“I know. Just looks suspicious.”

“He didn’t do this.”

“I trust him. And you. How long will it take to make a new batch?”

“A week at the least. It takes that long to stew.”

“A week! That isn’t fast enough!”

“It’s the be- Tom!”

All of a sudden, the group of people fell silent. A slightly disheveled Tom Riddle had just opened the bathroom door, clutching a vial of a clear liquid and looking extremely sheepish.

“Tom?” Professor Dippet said weakly. “What- What were you doing in there?”

“It’s kind of a long story,” he answered, his expression unchanging. “Professor Slughorn most kindly gave me some Sticking Solution to study. I was just passing through here to return it when I tripped and fell, and the bottle shattered. I jumped back into the bathroom to avoid it. Stayed in there all night before I remembered I had the counter with me. I’m such an idiot,” he concluded, shaking his head.

Silence.

Finally, Slughorn spoke. “Well for god’s sake, get out of there now.”
Tom nodded, dabbing the potion onto his shoes. He crossed the floor gingerly before handing the vial to Slughorn.

“Sorry about that, Sir,” he said again.

Dippet smiled at him. “It’s quite all right. We have enough potion to free the students now, so no harm done.”

Tom looked relieved. “I’m so glad.”

“But Tom, what did you do all this time?” Slughorn asked, his mustache quivering.

At this, Tom smiled. “Nothing, Sir. Absolutely nothing.”

So, a quicker update this time. I had a lot of fun writing this chapter! It's definitely a milestone. I want to give a shoutout to my amazing beta, Megs. She's a lifesaver! And I also want to thank everyone who's being reading and reviewing this. You guys really give me the motivation to keep writing this. When I get reviews saying "this was great", I literally dance around my room. And when I get constructive crit, I take it to heart. Promise. And really, thanks to anyone who reads this story. I thought it was going to get no support, so those of you who read it really make me happy. I love you all! My beta, my readers, and my reviewers! (P.S. Wanna make me happy again? You can do it with a review!)

Edit June 2012; switched the order, will hopefully be less confusing now :D

-Naida

 
 
 


Chapter 7: An Attack
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When Tom returned to his room later that morning, he was surprised to see a flash of bright red on his bed, where it stood out in stark contrast with the green and black of the sheets. Wondering what it could be, he walked to his bed and was slightly amused to see that it was just a ribbon, tied to a roll of parchment. In that case, it would just be an invitation from Slughorn. They were always tied with ribbons, though usually in black. Maybe it was a special occasion of some sort.
 

He pulled the ribbon off and cast it aside disdainfully, then opened the scroll and scanned the contents. He had to read it twice before he realized what it was saying.
But why on earth was Amaya Fitz writing to him? And that too, why a letter like this? He had gotten love notes before, of course, slipped into his books or sent by an owl. But never before had someone sent him a letter to ask how he was. If she had wanted so ask such a mundane question, why not just ask it in person? Why take the time and effort to write a letter and leave it on his bed? It didn’t make sense.
 

From what he knew of Amaya, she was quieter than the others, preferring to sit on the side with that friend of hers. Anabel, that was her name. Really, that was all he knew about her, surprisingly. He supposed she was shy, but she had spoken to him in the past, so he didn’t see why she couldn’t ask him the most mundane of questions in person.
 

Tom wrinkled his brow in confusion, then unfurled it. He hated not knowing something, anything. Tossing the letter into the rubbish bin, he resolved not to think of it any longer. Amaya Fitz could come talk to him in person if she cared that much, and he had more important things to do anyway.
 

He had to decide on his first victim.
 

*
 

“Hold on. You wrote him a letter and didn’t see fit to tell me until now!”
 

Amaya and Anabel sat at the back of Charms class, Amaya filling Anabel in on what she had done the previous evening amidst the croaks of toads. The class was learning silencing charms today, which was in fact the perfect cover for a conversation.
 

“Well, you got back to the dorm late last night, and with the corridor incident this morning, I didn’t really think of it until now,” Amaya replied.
 

“That’s no excuse. And you wrote him a letter?”
 

“Yes, I just said that,” Amaya said impatiently. “Do you think he found it though?”
 

“You’re failing to understand my point. Why did you write him a letter?”
 

“Because it’s impossible to get a word in when he’s surrounded by his little posse. I had to stand out from the crowd somehow. I answered your question, now answer mine.”
 

“He may have. I daresay it’s been a busy morning for him as well. Has he looked at you strangely?”
 

“He hasn’t looked at me at all.”
 

“Then maybe he’s avoiding your gaze.”
 

“But he never looks at me.”
 

“We-”
 

“Fitz! Davies! Do you two think your conversation is more important than mastering a silencing charm?” Professor Sherry said angrily, looming over their table.
 

“No, not at all, Professor. We’re sorry.” Amaya said politely.
 

“Are you really? Let’s see your silencing charm then!”
 

“Er, okay.” Amaya turned to the croaking toad in front of her, concentrated, and jabbed it with her wand. “Silencio!” The toad responded by leaping onto her shoulder and croaking even louder.
 

Amaya flinched instinctively and let out a small scream, causing Professor Sherry to jump.
 

“Goodness, Fitz, there was no need to let out such a yell. It’s just a toad, and it wouldn’t have done that if you knew the charm. Five points from Slytherin,” she finished, storming off to another table.
 

Amaya and Anabel looked at each other for a moment, then burst out laughing simultaneously.
 

“Just don’t worry about Tom,” Anabel said finally. “If he doesn’t say anything to you, you can start again. If he does, the worst he can say is that it was a stupid gesture.”
 

“I suppose you’re right. I suppose I better master this charm so I can use it on him if he tells me that,” she said with a giggle. “Silencio!”
 

And to her utter surprise, the toad fell silent mid croak.
 

*
 

Tom Riddle was in a broom closet. It was hot. It was congested. He couldn’t understand why he found students in here so often while he was on patrols. There must be some other place they could snog.
 

But unfortunately for him, it was about the most private place he could get to talk to the basilisk.
 

Tom pressed his ear up against the wall and tried to reach out to the basilisk with his mind. He wasn’t sure they had a telepathic connection, but he felt like they did. It would make sense, in any case, that they’d have a mental link of some sort. He waited for a few minutes, but he heard nothing, so he resorted to plan B.
 

“Come to me,” he hissed, speaking in Parseltongue. He waited again, but this time, he began to hear a slithering noise, followed by soft words.
 

“So hungry. So hungry. Rip, tear, kill…”
 

“Right then,” Tom muttered, realizing that it appeared as though he was talking to a wall and beginning to speak faster. “I have your first victim. Her name is Christina deBricki. And you somehow know who that is?”
 

“Yessss, Master.”
 

“How?”
 

“I see inside your mind.”
 

“Then why didn’t you come when I called?”
 

“I cannot see words. Only pictures.”
 

“All right. Good to know. So that’s all I have to do, then?”
 

“Yes. I will take care of the rest. So hungry! Unlesss, you want to tell people what you have done.”
 

“What is that supposed to mean?”
 

“You can give them a message. You must think about how you will do that. And one more thing.”
 

“Okay…”
 

“Kill the roosters of his school. Their cry will kill me.”
 

“Right. So about leaving a message-”
 

“I cannot help with that…you must find the answer yourself.”
 

“How will I know when you’ve killed her?”
 

“You will feel it. You will feel my joy in your mind. I must go now, Master.”
 

And with that, it was off; taking with it a pressure on Tom’s mind that he hadn’t realized was there. He slumped against the wall of the closet, confused in some respects and not as excited as he thought he would be. Kill the roosters? How the hell was he supposed to do that? And leaving a message?
 

Tom decided not to leave any kind of a message until his second attack. Let the school be in chaos, wondering what had happened. Let them guess, each guess wilder than the last. He would pretend to be just as scared as the rest. And after, he would hit them with another attack and scare them even more by telling them why it happened.
 

He opened the broom cupboard and looked left and right, making sure the hallway was empty before proceeding into the hall and out of sight.
 

*
I

f there was ever a time Amaya wanted to talk to Anabel, it was now. And of course, this was the one time that Anabel decided to sleep in on a Saturday. Usually, Anabel was up at the crack of dawn no matter what day it was, and shaking Amaya wake just ten minutes later. But the one day Amaya actually wanted to have Anabel’s advice, she was snoring. Amaya didn’t particularly want to wake her, but it wasn’t as if Anabel had ever felt the same about her.
 

Sighing, she walked to the bed and shook Anabel’s arm.
 

“Wake up!” she whispered in her ear. Anabel didn’t even flinch. “Wake up,” she repeated. Still nothing. Fine then. She didn’t need Anabel. And if she ended up making the stupidest decision of her life, well, at least she’d have someone to blame.
 

Amaya went to her own bed, where a letter lay, already written. For once, she didn’t have several drafts lying crumpled nearby, and it was the shortest letter she had ever written. If anyone else saw it, they’d wonder why in the world she was worrying about an event so far in the future, but they didn’t know Amaya’s family. They would throw a fit when they saw the note, and it would take her that long to convince them.
 

She picked it up and read it quickly.
 

I won’t be coming home for Christmas this year.


Love,


Amaya


She gave a small smile, wishing she could see her parent’s reactions when they read it. Her mother would probably tear it in two before writing her a lengthy letter of why that wouldn’t be happening. Her father, on the other hand, would simply laugh and say that she must be joking because there was no possible way she could be telling the truth. Oh, she would kill to see their faces. The letters back would be equally amusing, however. They’d try to tell her that Christmas was a time for family and that they missed her.
I

t was just a thinly veiled mask of their true shock, which was that she had disobeyed them directly. They couldn’t believe she would do such a thing. They couldn’t stand being disobeyed, even for something as small as this, so they’d tried to hide with excuses, but she knew them better than that. They had to be the authority, but she was fifteen now. She could make her own decisions.
 

Amaya turned to leave the dormitory, casting one last look at Anabel’s bed, but she was still sleeping. She closed the door quietly behind her and walked into the deserted common room. Not even the fire burned in the abandoned hearth, making it even colder and darker than usual. She crossed her arms over her jumper and hurried out through the wall.
 

Not that the dungeons were any warmer. She supposed that fall was finally arriving, as much as she wished it wasn’t so. Frost would be appearing on the grass soon, and then snow. The first Hogsmeade visit would be soon, and that was always fun. Anabel and her usually went together and spent their time on the backstreets of the town, in the lesser known and less busy areas. They’d shop at cute little boutiques and eat at teahouses, far from the crowds in the Three Broomsticks.
 

As Amaya began to ascend the stairs, still not getting much warmer, she noticed a strange, hissing noise in the walls, but didn’t pay attention to it at all. It was probably just the water in the pipes. She was rarely out this early. That sound was sometimes there in Potions, if the room fell silent. Slughorn always said it was just the fires, so it was probably the same thing here.
 

Potions was going to be freezing from here on out. Every now and then, they’d just take notes instead of brewing a potion, and those days were the worst. With no fires to warm the room, even slightly, their fingers froze around their quills and their noses turned bright red. Even Slughorn would don a jacket on those days.
 

As she passed the entrance hall, Amaya thought about going to see if breakfast was ready yet. A bit of tea would warm her up, at the very least. But no, if she went to eat right now, her resolve would disappear and she’d end up being too afraid to send the letter. She had to get the owl out while she was still in a rebellious mood, and couldn’t stop herself until it was too late.
 

Amaya wanted to stay back at Christmas for so many reasons. Tom was always here at Christmas, for one, though most of his admirers left. And when you’re the only two fifth years in the Slytherin common room, you’re bound to talk a little. She also wouldn’t have to attend all the parties her parents forced her to go to. She hated getting all dressed up and standing around in some huge room while the adults all drank firewhiskey and mead and danced until two in the morning. There were rarely any boys her age there, and she never wanted to dance with any that were. She’d be glad to escape that for a year.
 

And thirdly, she just wanted to do something different. She was tired of being the good little girl and doing everything her parents asked her to. She didn’t want to be like that anymore. She didn’t care about anything they talked about, and she usually spent her time in her room, writing letters to Anabel. It was time she did something different for Christmas.
 

Lost in her thoughts, Amaya didn’t see the crying first year as she passed her in the hallway.
 

She heard her.
 

Amaya snapped out of her reverie to see a small girl with mousy brown hair kneeling on the ground and crying over and unseen object. She didn’t particularly want to spend her morning dealing with crying girls, but her conscience got the better of her and she went over to her.
 

“Are you o-” Amaya cut off mid-sentence when she saw what the girl was crying over, instead letting out a shrill scream.
 

“Professors! PROFESSORS! S-SOMETHING HAPPENED!” she screamed, backing away from it. Within seconds, she could hear pounding footsteps and the bright red hair of Professor Dumbledore came into view.
 

“Ms. Fitz, what’s all the racket about!” he panted. In answer, Amaya simply pointed at the crying girl and what lay in front of her. Dumbledore strode forward, nudging the girl to the side and dropping to his knees.
 

“Oh, dear. Oh my goodness.” He knelt closer to it, his half-moon spectacles barely an inch away and studied it for a few minutes. Then he stood up, revealing the body of a small girl, no older than third year. She was absolutely still. In her hand, she held a camera, the lens pressed against her face.
 

Dumbledore turned to the crying first year. “Did you just come across her?” he asked kindly.
 

“Y-Yes. Just a minute ago. I was on my way up to the-the library,” she answered, hiccupping.
 

“Do you know this girl?”
 

“She’s…She’s my sister!” The girl burst out into tears once more.
 

“Yes, that’s right, you’re Susan deBricki, aren’t you? Why don’t you run off to the Hospital Wing and get yourself a calming draft while I have a chat with Ms. Fitz.”
 

The girl nodded, then ran off, her eyes still wide in fear.
 

“I-Is she dead, Sir?” Amaya said after a moment, finally finding her voice again.
 

“It appears so, but I can’t be certain…yet,” he answered, coming towards her.
 

“What happened to her?”
 

“I don’t know. Tell me, Fitz, have you seen or heard anything strange today? Anything out of place?”
 

“No, not at all, Sir. I was just on my way up to the Owlery.” As she said that, Amaya realized that she no longer had her note. She must have dropped it when she screamed, and it must have been carried away by the wind. She found that she didn’t care much anymore either, her spirit from the morning evaporating.
 

“And you just came across the two girls?”
 

“Yes, Sir.”
 

“Very well. You are free to go, Ms. Fitz.”
 

“Thank you.” Thoroughly shaken, Amaya turned away and began stumbling back downstairs. By the time she was back in the dungeons, a few people sat in the common room, but the fire was still quiet and the room still dark. She went back to her dormitory and crawled back into bed, not wanting to think about what she witnessed.
 

Only to be woken ten minutes later by a very eager Anabel.
 

 




A/N: Ah, guys, I am SO SO sorry for virtually abandoning this for a few months. I scrapped the chapter about fifteen times, and I’ve been museless for ages. I haven’t written anything. Even now, I’m not entirely happy with this chapter. *sigh* But on the bright side, I had an all-night writing spree when I wrote this and got the next chapter done as well :D After that, I really don’t know about the updates, since I’m going to do NaNoWriMo this year, but hopefully two chapters will hold until the end of November! I’ve been editing the first chapters though, since the first couple were awful, and I’ve added a few more subplots coming up…I like my plot a lot more now, thankfully. It’s currently looking like this is going to be 20-22 chapters, but I may add a few more depending on what my muse allows me. Anyways, thank you all for reading this! It means the world to me when the little read count goes up. I nearly started crying when I saw that I’m at 2000 reads. You’re all amazing and awesome (and should type something in that little box at the bottom of the page xD) Until next time then!
-Naida

 


Chapter 8: Celebration
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The school buzzed with whispers for the next few days. Somehow, though Amaya had told no one, everyone seemed to know that she was the one who found the girl. For the first time in her life, she was being noticed. Everyone wanted to ask her to recount the tale.

And she found that she hated it. She didn’t get a moment of peace for the next few days. The stories became wilder, some saying she had seen the killer in its act, and others saying that she had killed her girl herself.

What she found ironic was that the girl wasn’t even dead. Professor Dippet had made an announcement about it during dinner on the night of the incident. He said that the girl had been petrified, not killed, thankfully. Using the Mandrakes growing in the greenhouses, they could revive her. Eventually. Amaya didn’t really see how being turned to stone was a huge improvement over being dead, though. She wondered if the girl could still think while in a stone body.

That would be worse than death.

He didn’t mention Amaya’s name at all, but starting after the meal, students from all years and Houses started to come up to her and ask questions. She found herself recounting the tale what felt like hundreds of times, though she didn’t even see what was so exciting about it. She just happened to come across the girl. It could have been anyone.

Even Tom had come up to her, but only briefly. He asked her if the girl had anything with her, but by this point, Amaya had already answered the same question too many times, so she barely registered that it was Tom asking her. She answered him quickly, saying that she had a camera, before he left. She didn’t even care much, at that point. She wanted to get away from it.

Even when she had returned to her dormitory, the other girls in her year burst in, demanding to know what had happened. This in itself irked her beyond anything else. They never talked to her. Never. But now that she was suddenly the talk of the school, they had to come and interrogate her like everyone else. She fought to stay polite, answering all their questions with slightly clenched teeth. When they finally decided they had discovered every little detail, they left, giggling about Merlin knew what.

Amaya didn’t see anything funny about the whole situation. A girl had been petrified. Granted, it was a Hufflepuff third year, so she couldn’t have been particularly powerful, but that made the act even worse. What could anyone want with a little innocent girl? She couldn’t have done anything to provoke such a vengeful attack. What monster would be willing to kill harmless people?

And more importantly, who was it going to target next?

The face of the girl was still imprinted in her mind. The camera pressed against her face, her eyes open wide in shock. If she could make a sound, Amaya was sure she would have been screaming. There was another thing. What could petrify her so quickly that the girl wouldn’t even have time to scream?

The others, they didn’t understand. They hadn’t seen the girl lying on the ground, looking completely dead. They hadn’t seen the briefest flash of fear cross Professor Dumbledore’s eyes. They didn’t hear the wails of her sister.

Whoever, or whatever, had done this was powerful and dangerous. Amaya shivered under her blankets as she tried to forget about it. The Professors would deal with it. They’d probably find the student who had done it and have him or her expelled by morning.

There was nothing to worry about.

*

Petrified? Petrified!

Tom was shocked to hear that his first victim had simply been turned to stone. He didn’t even know that was possible. A basilisk was supposed to kill as soon as you looked into its eyes. There was no escaping it, no getting away from it. Its venom was deadly too, of course. But it didn’t turn people to stone.

That wouldn’t do. That really wouldn’t do at all. He was the master of that basilisk, and he demanded answers.

Remembering what the basilisk had said earlier about being able to understand pictures but not words, Tom trained his mind on the basilisk, then pictured the girl’s face clearly in his mind, followed by a piece of rock. Hopefully the basilisk would understand what he was asking.

He had to wait only a second before he could hear the basilisk’s voice coming from the wall behind him. The corridor he was in was deserted, luckily, and anyone who came along would just hear a hissing noise, but he still found talking to the basilisk risky. He had to act normally. They’d be looking everywhere for a suspect.

“You ask about the girl,” said the basilisk. “She did not see me directly. She held a large device, with a thin sheet of glass blocking her from me. To kill, I must look into my victim’s eyes directly.”

Though he wondered what device the basilisk could possibly be talking about, Tom said nothing about it. He couldn’t believe that the girl had gotten lucky. Well, that wouldn’t happen again.

“Go,” he whispered, before turning and walking towards the common room. They were saying that Amaya Fitz had seen the girl’s body. He’d ask her. Besides, it was only natural to be curious. It would look more suspicious if he didn’t ask.

As he walked, he realized that he’d have to find a cover story sometime. Eventually, someone would start putting pieces together and he’d be at the center. He could cover his trail well, but not perfectly. There would come a time, though hopefully it would be after he had purged the school of all Mudbloods, where he’d no longer be able to use the basilisk. He would have to find a student to push the blame onto when that time came.
Still, though, he thought, he had managed an attack. He had begun Salazar Slytherin’s work. And petrification was very nearly as bad as dying completely. For a first attack, it had gone surprisingly well. It was time this school was stirred up a bit. They needed to feel fear. He could do that. By the end of the year, the school would be clean and those left inside would have no reason to feel fear.

Salazar Slytherin had been a genius. Tom was glad that he was carrying out his last wishes. His thoughts carried him through the wall and into the Slytherin common room. A small crowd gathered in the corner, and he walked over to it, certain it was where Amaya was.

Once he got close enough to see her, he was surprised to see that she was completely disgruntled. Her hair was messy and it was easy to see that she was very annoyed. Well, she could hold herself together for another minute. She was obviously eager to talk to him. Here was her chance.

“Hey, Amaya,” Tom began, waiting for her to turn towards him, “the girl, did she have anything with her?”

“Yeah, she did. She was holding a camera,” she said quickly before turning around and addressing someone else.

“Thanks,” he muttered, though he doubted she had heard him. He turned to go to his dormitory. A camera, surprisingly, made perfect sense. She must have seen the basilisk through the lens. Well, out of the entire student population of the school, there couldn’t have been more than five kids with a camera. That would be easy to avoid.

“Are you going somewhere, Tom?” someone asked him from behind.

Without bothering to turn around, Tom answered, “Yeah, I’m tired. It’s been a weird day.”

“Definitely,” the same voice agreed. “Well, good night, mate.”

“Yeah. Night.”

*

A week passed with no further incidents, and the school began to forget about it. No suspects had been found, and many students started to think it was just a freak accident. A potion gone wrong, or an out of control spell. Since there would be no lasting damage to the girl, she was soon forgotten amongst most of the students. The laughter returned to the halls, bringing with it warmth, even as winter descended.

For Amaya, though the images of the girl hadn’t been wiped from her memory, she too began to pass it off. She stuck with her resolution that there was absolutely nothing to worry about. This was only enhanced when the dates for the first Hogsmeade visit were posted, set for the weekend before Halloween. Excitement filled the air as it always did for the first visit of the year, with the new third years checking to make sure they had their permission forms and the seventh years claiming they were too old to go, but making plans anyway. Amaya was excited for an entirely different reason, however.

The visit was on her birthday.

Amaya had never done much for her birthday. It was a tradition for her parents to give her a piece of jewelry each year, so a small parcel always arrived for her in the mail. Anabel had forgotten her birthday three out of the four years they had been at Hogwarts, and Amaya suspected that Anabel would simply offer to buy her something on Hogsmeade today if she forgot again. She honestly didn’t think anyone else even knew when her birthday was.

After her previous taste of fame, Amaya decided she was glad that no one knew her birthday. It would be so much easier that way. Anabel and her would have a lovely time in Hogsmeade, and that would be it. Maybe they could buy a small cake somewhere and share it. She never felt any different on her birthday, so she didn’t see the point of having an extravagant celebration. For the longest time, she had considered her birthday as just a step closer to marriage. She didn’t see what was so special about being sixteen. How was that any better than fifteen?

Still, Hogsmeade in itself was always fun. So she found herself taking her warmer clothes from the bottom of her trunk and taking several galleons from her stash like everyone else

*

The day of the visit dawned, and the students agreed that they couldn’t have asked for anything better. The air was crisp and cool, but the sun shone brightly above. They ran about in small groups, scarfing down breakfast. The girls with dates spent extra time doing their hair and giggling. Everyone was the happiest they had been in ages.

All except a small dark haired boy sitting in the common room and staring at the fire.

“Aren’t you coming, Tom?” asked Orion Black.

“No, not today. I have a lot of work to catch up on,” Tom answered with a smile.

“That’s what Sunday’s for.”

“I’d much rather get most of it done today. I may catch up with you all later.” When Orion didn’t move, Tom continued. “It’s O.W.L. year, you know. Have to make sure I do well. Go on. I’ll come later. Promise.”

“All right then…” Orion said, leaving slowly. He turned back once to see Tom rummaging in his bag for something. Relaxing slightly, he bolted out of the common room and caught up with the rest of his friends.

Only a few first and second years remained in the common room now, but his dormitory would be empty. Tom took the stairs two at a time, already trying to connect with the basilisk in his mind. He pictured a small boy this time, a fourth year Gryffindor by the name of Douglas Smith. He was to be the next victim. He was going to leave them a message this time, telling them the dangers they faced. And he had already decided that this was to be the last attack for at least a month. Let them be lulled into a false sense of security before he truly began weeding out the Mudbloods.

As he thought, a vivid image of Douglas Smith, followed by an image of the basilisk crossed his mind, and he took it to mean the basilisk had gotten his message. He grinned slightly, then pulled out a piece of parchment to begin drafting a message to give to the school.

Hogsmeade could wait. He had more important things to do. He knew he couldn’t back out on everything like this. It would look suspicious. He wasn’t stupid by any accounts. But he didn’t have to do everything, either. It was common for fifth years to stay back at the end of the year, so he was just getting a head start.

*

“Happy birthday, Amaya!” Anabel yelled at breakfast that morning, causing Amaya and several others to glare at her.

“You don’t need to announce it to the world,” Amaya hissed, buttering herself some toast.

“Why not? It’s your birthday.”

“Yes, but it’s not like anyone else cares.”

“Cheer up! This is supposed to be a happy day. Oh, look, the post is here!”

Amaya glanced up to see a tawny owl circling above her, and finally landing on her shoulder. It stuck out its leg, waiting for her to untie a small parcel. She did so quickly, then put one hand on the owl.

“Wait one moment,” she said quickly, pulling out a piece of parchment and a quill and writing a quick thank you letter to her parents. She gave it to the owl to hold in its beak, then gave it a small push. It flew away, hooting softly.

Amaya pulled the paper off her present, finding a dainty silver bracelet and a letter inside.

She stuffed both things into her bag and motioned to Anabel.

“What? Are you not going to read that?” she asked.

“Nah, I’ll read it later. C’mon, it’s a beautiful day! Let’s get going.”

“Fine with me.”

They left the hall along with the other groups of students, laughing on their way outside. The crisp autumn hair chilled both girls at first, but as they walked, they warmed, and soon pulled off their hats and scarves. They passed an old shack that no one really paid attention to before arriving on the main street. Students crowded around the Three Broomsticks, pushing past each other to get inside, while others visited the Owlery and sweet shop. There wasn’t much else on the main street. Several students complained that there was no joke shop in Hogsmeade, but they were satisfied apart from that. Up ahead, there were a couple dodgy pubs and a teashop infamous for holding only snogging couples.

“Let’s go to Honeydukes,” Anabel said cheerily, tugging Amaya along, “so you can pick out a birthday present.”

The shop was crowded, but not as crowded as it could be. There was room enough to walk, at least, which was rare for the store. Amaya and Anabel had a great time looking at the sugar quills and inspecting the Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans. Off in the corner, there were small chocolate frogs under a huge “NEW” sign. Apparently, they had collector cards inside. The ever popular Fizzing Whizbees were nearly sold out in their section. After debating about several flavors of chocolate, Anabel finally bought a huge slab of dark chocolate mixed with orange for the two girls to share.

They walked around for a bit before deciding to buy butterbeers at the Three Broomsticks. As they walked to the counter, Amaya spotted Tom paying for his own drink.

He laughed at something they couldn’t hear, taking his butterbeer and walking off without a glance at neither Amaya nor Anabel. They looked at each other, then giggled, walking to the counter to get their own drinks.

*

Tom had spent about half the day in his dormitory before he decided on the perfect message. He then decided to walk to Hogsmeade, just to keep his promise to Orion. He couldn’t help but smile as he walked, proud of what he had accomplished. Once he arrived, he decided to try the Three Broomsticks first. That was usually where you found the most amount of people.

Sure enough, he spotted Orion sitting with their usual group of friends just inside the doors. He waved to them as he came in, then walked to the counter to buy himself a drink.
“And what would you like?” the lady asked him.

“Just a butterbeer please,” he answered. She bent down to get it for him as a tall seventh year girl walked past him.

“Hi, Tom!” she said as she went.

He smiled at her, not knowing her name, and gave a small wave as the lady put his butterbeer onto the table.

“Tom, you say your name is?” she asked.

He nodded, reaching across the counter for his drink and placing a galleon in its place.

“I swear, you’re my sixth Tom today! It’s such a popular name!”

Tom laughed lightly, taking his butterbeer and leaving.

Such a popular name… It shouldn’t be, really. It was the name of his filthy Muggle father. He had discovered that his father was a Muggle last year, after searching all records but coming up with no one who had the last name “Riddle”. He decided that his father must have left his mother, since she was so poor when she gave birth to him. Why she couldn’t just save herself with magic, he didn’t know, but at least she was a witch. He hated the name, Tom. He didn’t need a name that was held by a Muggle. And he most certainly didn’t need a common name. He was better than that.

Right there, Tom decided to come up with a new name. A name that would be remembered in the days to come. He needed a powerful name. He smiled slightly on his way to the table. His name would be extraordinary. Because he wasn’t an ordinary wizard at all.
 

 




A/N: So, this was a bit of a filler chapter, but I like to think of it as the calm before the storm. It’s pretty much the last bit of happy times you see. There’s a ton of stuff with Amaya coming up (which I actually really like) and a bit with Tom too, which is giving me trouble D: I wanted to have a small piece of just a fun time in here, since they are first and foremost teenagers at a boarding school :P I always find it really unrealistic when an entire Hogwarts story is angst. BUT that’s just my opinion and I want to hear yours! So, fancy dropping me a note in that little box down there? You people are amazing, as always. I’m shocked to see that people even read this story, let alone like it xD I <3 you all
-Naida

 


Chapter 9: The Black Lake
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If any Gryffindors had looked out their window at precisely midnight two weeks later, they would have seen nothing save the rustling of the wind in the trees. But had they looked one minute later, the swish of a cloak and the small spark of a spell would have been just barely visible on the grounds below.


But Tom Riddle was very accomplished in a dillusionment charm, and before long, he blended in with his background so well that it was almost as if he was invisible as he crossed the grounds and made his way to the black lake. A slight smirk played across his lips as he thought about his plans for the night. There were times when even he was surprised at his own intelligence.

At a time like this, Tom was glad he was a prefect. Because as a prefect, he was required to walk the Castle at night. And if you listened closely, as most prefects didn’t, you would hear whispered secrets and hurried plans being made. And if you got lucky, you might hear a girl agree to meet her boyfriend at the black lake at midnight on Saturday night. And if you were even luckier, the girl and her boyfriend might both be Mudbloods.

He grinned with anticipation as he began moving faster. He could have simply asked the basilisk to attack them and be done with it, but this time, his presence was required. In one hand, he held a flask of dragon’s blood taken from Professor Slughorn’s personal stores. He intended to leave a message for when the dead bodies were found. He imagined the look on the faces of the teachers when they came across two bodies accompanied by a message written in blood.

As he got closer, he could hear hushed voices laughing and talking. He smiled. They had kept their date, then. They were making this much too easy for him. They had no reason to suspect that their miserable little lives would soon be ending.

Tom stopped in the bushes, a few feet behind the couple, and pulled his wand out, just in case. Focusing his mind, he sent an image of the couple to the basilisk and waited. It didn’t even take a full sixty seconds before he got his answer. Tom shut his eyes tightly. He knew the basilisk would tell him when the job was done.

Almost sick with anticipation, Tom curled his hands into fists and waited. There was no scream, no cry for help, but suddenly, the voices were silenced mid-laugh. He did not open his eyes, savoring the moment of his success. Almost immediately, an image of two bodies lying side by side entered his mind and he stepped forward, opening his eyes to the same scene he had just seen.

Tom’s eyes lit up. He nearly ran to the bodies, placing his fingers against the girl’s neck and expecting to feel nothing at all.

He was right. But something wasn’t right. Her flesh was hard, cold, and she had only been dead a few seconds. It should have still been warm. Unless…

He wanted to cry out. Petrified! Again! He roared in his mind, hoping the basilisk would hear and come to him.

“Why!” he called into the dark, speaking Parseltongue. “Why have you failed me once again!”

He heard a hiss behind him, but knew better to turn around.

“It was the water, master. They saw me in the water.”

Tom glanced at the black lake. Of course! How could he have been so stupid. They must have only seen the basilisk’s reflection. Desperately wanting to go back and redo the moment, Tom waved the basilisk off. He knew he had to remain calm. Someone could come out at any moment. He needed to write his message and get the hell out.

Still fuming with anger, Tom dumped the contents of the flask onto the ground and picked up his wand, writing words in the air and feeling only slightly better when the blood moved to mirror them.

Your blood is not pure, your magic tainted.
You have no right to walk these hallowed halls.
The rightful heir has come to finish the noble deed.
The Chamber has been opened.
Beware.

Stepping back, Tom admired his work. The Black Lake glowed eerily in the soft light of the moon, providing the perfect backdrop for the bodies of the two lovers, still holding hands in their sleep of stone. The blood shone under the stars, appearing almost silver as the last word in particular stood out from the dark grass underneath it.

For one moment, Tom forgot that his true intentions had failed. He forgot that this was just one small event in the bigger picture of eradicating the Mudbloods from Hogwarts. He forgot that he was out of bed at midnight. The scene before him stunned him. It screamed that it was the work of a mastermind.

Then he shook his head to clear it and began the trudge back up to the castle.

His last thought before falling asleep was that they really ought to have better security.

*

Amaya hurried along the cold dungeons corridor, swearing under her breath as she took the stairs two at a time. She couldn’t believe she had forgotten all about their potions essay. It had been assigned nearly two weeks ago, not to mention that it was supposed to be at least four feet long and she had yet to start. Forget that, she hadn’t even the slightest idea on what a snargaloff pod was, let alone “its benefits in potion making using examples from at least three different common and one rare potion”.

Breathing heavily, she drew her bag closer to her, feeling the books rattle around in it as she made her way to the library. She still had a History of Magic essay to finish and she had promised to practice silencing charms with Anabel later.

Slowing briefly when she passed Professor Dumbledore moving just as quickly in the opposite direction, Amaya couldn’t help but notice two older Slytherin boys that she vaguely recognized looming over a much younger girl. Confused, and a bit worried as to what they were doing, Amaya took a brief detour and headed in their direction.

One of the boys looked up when she got closer, and with a pang, she realized that she did in fact know him. Cygnus Black grinned at her as she walked towards him. He nudged his friend, whispering something that she couldn’t hear, but his friend snickered as she walked over to them.

“Well hello there, Fitz,” Cygnus said when she was a few feet away.

Amaya nodded coolly. “Black,” she acknowledged. “Who’s your friend?”

Cygnus gestured to him. “Robert Wyard. His family isn’t quite as well known among us Purebloods, but he pops up every now and then. What brings you here?”

“I came to see what you were doing. Who is this girl anyway?”

At a closer glance, Amaya could see she was crying, or at least, she had been very recently. Her cheeks were tear stained and her eyes were puffy.

“Ah, it’s quite a story, actually,” Cygnus replied with a smile. “This is Mary Robinson. She’s a third year Ravenclaw, and she was under the impression that she could talk to Robert and I like equals. The thing is, she’s a dirty little Mudblood. And we all know the Mudbloods don’t deserve to speak to those of pure blood. We were just having a nice little conversation with Miss Robinson. Putting her in her place.”

Amaya stood frozen on the spot, stunned at what Cygnus had just said. She knew the sentiments of her family and other purebloods, but she had never dreamed that she would actually come across it, and especially not like this. Looking back at the girl, she couldn’t see how anyone would want to hurt her. She was a delicate little thing, and once Cygnus had started speaking, she had resumed her crying, silent tears falling down her cheeks. Did it really matter who she had for parents?

Still, Amaya could not find her voice. She couldn’t bring herself to say something, anything at all, to Cygnus. She could barely imagine what would happen if she stood up for the girl. Cygnus would most likely hex the both of them, first of all, and then he would be sure to write to his parents, who in turn would tell her own. And if her parents found out, she would be bombarded with owls for days, asking why she had gone against Cygnus and stood up for a Muggle-born.

Amaya felt her face grow warm, but neither could she open her mouth nor could she bring herself to move.

Cygnus smirked at her. “What’s the matter, Fitz? You’re one of noble blood too, aren’t you? You should be glad that we’re teaching the Mudblood. You want Mudbloods in their place, don’t you?”

Amaya kept her eyes fixed on the floor, refusing to let his words provoke her. She knew that Cygnus was challenging her. She had never been one of the most vocal of her generation, and she knew that Cygnus wanted to see her put down the girl so he would have something to gossip about. It was nothing more than a game for his sick pleasure.

“No voice, Fitz? Or are you so scared of a little third year Mudblood that you won’t even speak up?”

Still looking at the floor, Amaya raised her head a fraction of an inch and opened her mouth. Hating herself for what she was doing, but hating Cygnus even more for making her do it, she forced her tongue to form words.

“S-Stupid Mudbloods should stay where they belong,” she choked out.

She could feel Cygnus’s eyes on the top of her head, deciding whether or not he would accept that and be done, or whether he was going to push her further. Luckily, she was saved from further ridicule by the appearance of Orion Black who rushed by at that moment, and upon noticing Cygnus, darted into their corridor and yelled to him.

“Oi! Cygnus! Haven’t you heard?”

Cygnus gave him a questioning look.

“There’s been another attack! Down by the Black Lake! You have to come and see!”

“C’mon,” Cygnus muttered to his friend, following Orion out of the corridor.

Amaya stayed frozen for a few seconds, then ran to follow them. She looked back just before turning the corner, but immediately wished that she hadn’t.

The girl had collapsed onto the ground and had her head in her hands, crying harder than ever before. She couldn’t believe that she had done that to someone. She knew that she would never be able to forgive herself for what she had said.

Running to stop herself from dwelling on the image, Amaya reached the Black Lake before Orion and Cygnus.

Not to her surprise, the crowd was even larger than last time. She could make out the purple pointy tip of Professor Dumbledore’s hat up front, but if there were any other teachers, she couldn’t see them.

Sighing, Amaya began pushing her way through the crowd. It was surprising how quickly you could move through a throng of people if you tried. She managed to worm her way to the middle where, if she stood on her tip toes, she could make out the outlines of Professor Dippet and Professor Merrythought.

She still couldn’t see what everyone was looking at though. Amaya groaned, preparing herself to push past even more people when all of a sudden, Professor Merrythought yelled loudly.

“Back! All of you! Back!”

The crowd began pushing backwards, students turning around and grumbling as they made their way towards the castle. Amaya stayed where she was, waiting for the crowd to thin enough that she could see what everyone was looking at.

Two bodies lay on the ground in front of the lake, their hands still entwined. But that wasn’t what really stood out. Next to them, in glittering red ink that could only be blood, a message was scrawled.

Amaya was barely able to read it before she was caught in the crowd and forced to head in their direction, walking towards the castle.

*

Tom smiled inwardly as he allowed himself to be carried back to the castle with the rest of the crowd. Everything had gone smoothly this time around. He wasn’t exactly sure how the bodies had been discovered, but when the school started to talk about the attack, he had followed along. He could tell that his message had made everyone uncomfortable, though.

What surprised him was that not many students knew about the Chamber of Secrets. In fact, most of them had been confused by that line. He had heard many queries passing between friends of what the Chamber was. Somewhere along the way, someone had found a copy of Hogwarts, a History and begun to inform the others about the Chamber of Secrets, so Tom was confident that most, if not all, of the students would understand his message by the end of the night.

It had been strangely entertaining to stand and listen to their chatter. Some made jokes, others were close to tears, and still others cheered at the sight of the message. He knew that the double attack had frightened many. They knew now that the attack wasn’t just a one-time thing. And even being with someone else didn’t keep you safe.

He had also enjoyed listening to their speculations as to who or what had attacked the students. Some of his favorite theories were that the Giant Squid had learned to walk on land, or that Salazar Slytherin himself had come forward in time to control his beast. No one suspected a student yet, though he knew that would change soon enough.

In fact, Tom decided that there was only one thing missing from his plan: a name. He needed a new name. A notorious wizard could not be known with a common name. He needed to stand out.

Excusing himself to write an essay, Tom pulled out a piece of parchment and a quill and began writing.

He decided to come up with some characteristics of the name he wanted before trying to take a stab in the dark. He knew he wanted it to relate to his current name in some way. He didn’t want it to be completely random, but instead wanted it to be derived from his name but sound much different.

With that in mind, Tom listed the letters of his name at the top of his parchment.

T O M M A R V O L O R I D D L E

He studied them for a second, then rearranged them in alphabetical order.

A D D E I L L M M O O O R R T V

But he barely had time to create one combination of letters before the door to his dormitory swung open, and he hastily stuffed the parchment into his bag. Oh, well. That, at least, could wait.

He would be able to create a name and plan another attack as long as he kept patient. Right now, he had an image to uphold.

A/N: First of all, all credit for the lovely Black Lake idea goes to academica.

Second of all, the next chapter is my favorite one yet, and it’s a big turning point for Amaya, so hopefully a quick update on that.

Third of all, thank you to the lovely validators who make the queue time short so this will hopefully be coming to you just a couple hours after I submit.

And fourth of all, reviews make sad days happy <3

-Naida

 
 


Chapter 10: The Suitor
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Snow was falling thickly at Hogwarts, covering the grass in a blanket of white. Well, it wasn’t really a blanket. Amaya had never understood that expression. Snow was cold and unfriendly, wet and uncomfortable, nothing like a blanket. A blanket was soft, warm, and comforting. The snow was more like the crust of a pie. It covered the green grass, but it could be cracked and the grass would peek out once more.

Amaya shook her head to clear it. She didn’t know why she was thinking so strangely today, but she supposed it was just the nerves of seeing her family once again. As much as she had wanted to stay at Hogwarts for Christmas this year, she had never been able to build up the courage to write her parents and tell them, so she would be going back home as usual.

She supposed it wouldn’t be all bad. The food at home was delicious, though the Hogwarts food was equally appetizing, and it would be nice to have a room to herself for a few weeks. She would, of course, have to mind her manners and take care to hold her posture while eating and meet what would seem like thousands of influential wizards, but for the rest of the holidays, she could shut herself away in her room and just enjoy the solitude. Until, of course, her mother barged in to ask her if she had a dress for that night or her father began to question her about her classes.

Oh, who was she kidding? The holidays would be miserable, like they always were. This year, she did have one added surprise, though. She couldn’t help but feel slightly excited, albeit very, very nervous to find out about the letter she had received early into the school year.
Amaya reached into the pocket of her robes and pulled out the crumpled piece of parchment, bearing the mysterious words of her mother, and reread the letter for the hundredth time.

Dearest Amaya,

You, my darling, are growing up so fast. Just think: in a month, you will be sixteen. This is now a time to begin thinking about your future.

We, that is, your father and I, are very proud of our one and only daughter. We only want your happiness. But at the same time, we have to do what is best for you, and for our family, and for this reason, we have been searching or a suitable husband for you for some time. Just this week, we have found the perfect man, and you already know him well. We want to tell you his identity in person, so that, unfortunately, will have to wait until Christmas, but we couldn’t resist sharing this wonderful news with you. Of course, we will let you approve him, but he is a wonderful boy who can give you everything in life.

I have sent this letter to Demitriov Avery as you don’t receive my letters at times. I trust that he will deliver it to you in confidence. We look forward to seeing you at Christmas and giving you the name of the boy we have selected for your approval.

Love always,
Mummy


The letter revealed little, and Amaya knew that she would not want to marry whoever this mystery person was. Tom was the only boy for her, and her parents would just have to understand that. She sighed, replacing it in her pocket and checking that her trunk was locked. Anabel wasn’t going home this year, as her parents were abroad for Christmas and they couldn’t take her with them, so she would be riding the Hogwarts Express alone. The thought of that only served to make her more miserable, so she quickly cast it out of her mind and instead focused on the Christmas present she had bought for Tom.

At the second Hogsmeade visit of the year last weekend, Amaya and Anabel had found an old trinket shop and decided to do their Christmas shopping there. Amaya hadn’t even thought about buying something for Tom, but she found an antique silver ring with the engraving of a snake, and it had immediately caught her eye. It had struck her then that Tom would love such a present, and she had picked it up, fully ready to pay twenty galleons for him. It had been an added bonus that the ring was only three galleons.

Amaya had wrapped the present and written him a small note before leaving it, along with her present for Anabel, sitting atop her bed. She knew that the House Elves would make sure the presents were delivered to their proper owners.

A small smile played at the corners of her lips as she imagined Tom’s delight upon opening the present. He never received very much for Christmas, as he lived in an orphanage. She was glad that she would make his day special.

The thought carried her all the way through the Slytherin common room and up the stairs leading to the Entrance Hall, where a group of students who would be going home for the holidays had gathered. She stood awkwardly to the left of the group, hoping they would leave soon. For one, it was bloody cold in the hall, and the general liveliness of the group irked her. They would all be going back to loving families and warm meals and happy Christmases.

It made her Christmas feel like even more of a nightmare.
Amaya blew on her hands in an attempt to warm them, attempting to tune out the excited chatter of the students around her. She couldn’t bear to think of Christmas in that moment.

She nearly cheered when the doors leading to the grounds flew open and she caught sight of the horseless carriages ready to take them down to the Hogsmeade station.

It seemed as though more students were going back home that year, as Amaya was unable to get a carriage to herself. Maybe it was because of the attacks, though there hadn’t been one for months. Amaya suspected that it was some sort of practical joke that was over now. The victims would be revived in the spring and that would be it. No lasting harm done.
Still, as she found herself pressed into a carriage with a gaggle of third years, it did seem as though parents wanted their children to be home for the holidays. She supposed it was better to not take chances.
Amaya came close to running off the carriage once they arrived in front of the scarlet steam engine, but had just enough self-control left to preserve her dignity and she simply walked quickly towards the train.
She smiled to herself, determined to enjoy her last few hours of peace.

*

“Welcome home, darling.” Amaya was greeted with a warm hug from her mother as she arrived in London. She returned the hug half-heartedly, still sore that she had to come home in the first place.

“How was the train ride?” her mother asked.

“Long,” Amaya answered truthfully. “I’m absolutely starved.”

“Dinner is waiting for you at home.”

Amaya forced a smile, wishing she was back at Hogwarts eating at the Slytherin table. She knew she was complaining more than she should. There were students who would give anything to go home for Christmas and be with their families. She should consider herself lucky. But she didn’t want to just take it with a grain of salt and be done with the matter. She liked wallowing in her self-pity, as if it would somehow make everything feel better.

Still, she was tired. And hungry. Her bed sounded rather good. As did a hot bath and warm meal. Perking up slightly at the thought of the comforts she enjoyed at home, Amaya followed her mother from the station.

She was used to getting home by now. Instead of leaving through the main entrance, Amaya and her mother left through a small side door towards the back of King’s Cross station. It was a relatively empty part, so they could disapparate directly home from there. Amaya still had to use side-along apparition, of course, but she was used to the unpleasant sensation by now and barely noticed the feeling as they went home.

“Why don’t you freshen up and then come down for dinner?” her mother asked once they had arrived in the sitting room of their house.
Amaya nodded, beginning to drag her trunk up the stairs before her mother stopped her.

“The House Elves will tend to your trunk, of course,” she said, looking a bit surprised.

Amaya started. Having been away for several months, it was second nature to her to do those sorts of things herself. She nodded once more, dropping the trunk and trudging upstairs without it.

Once she arrived in her room, Amaya had the urge to collapse onto her bed and go straight to sleep, but the gnawing sensation in her stomach stopped her. Instead, she walked to her mirror. Her hairbrush lay neatly in front of it, along with a basin of water. Other than that, her room looked untouched from when she had left it in September. Only the lack of a fine layer of dust indicated that there had been people-or house elves- in it since that time.

Amaya loosened her hair from its untidy knot at the nape of her neck and shook her head so it flowed down her back. She picked up her hair brush and ran it through her locks. She was reminded of the day she left for Hogwarts, how she had sat in this very room and brushed her hair. So much had changed since then, and yet, nothing had changed. She was still as far from Tom Riddle as she could possibly get.

After she had brushed out the snarls in her hair, Amaya dipped a cloth hanging next to her mirror into the basin of water and wiped her face with it. The water smelled like rose petals, and Amaya was again reminded of the luxuries she enjoyed at home. Every detail was attended to. As much as she pretended that she didn’t need the luxuries, she knew that she wouldn’t like living without them. She could hate it as much as she liked, but it had become a part of her life and there was no changing that.

Once she was satisfied with her appearance, Amaya hung the cloth back on its hook and walked back downstairs, feeling much better than when she had come through the door. If she was forced to be here all Christmas, she might as well enjoy what she could.

If only Tom were here with her.

*
Dinner time with Amaya’s family was seldom a very talkative occasion. Generally, the meal was served in three courses. The first was always a soup or salad, the second was the main course, and the third was dessert. The family rarely spoke during the first two courses, preferring to save their news for dessert.

Amaya waited impatiently for the first two courses to be over. She didn’t know if her parents would announce her suitor tonight, of course, but she sincerely hoped that would be the case. As a result, she ate too quickly and her mother scolded her for bad manners twice. Amaya sighed at both of these, wishing that manners mattered as little here as they did when she was at Hogwarts.

Finally, a House-Elf approached the table and whisked away the plates for dinner. Amaya knew that they would be out with dessert in just a few minutes, but she still looked at her father expectantly.

To her delight, he did not disappoint. After wiping his lips with a napkin and sitting back in his chair, her father looked directly at her.

“So Amaya,” he began, pausing to make sure he had her attention, “I’m sure you received our letter in the fall.”

Amaya nodded.

“We are very pleased about this match. He’s a lovely boy. Really, lovely boy indeed. He has impeccable manners, and he already has several connections at the Ministry. He’s going to grow to be a fine man, a perfect suitor for you. You’re honestly not going to believe it.”

Amaya felt herself becoming more impatient with every word her father spoke. She felt like lunging across the table and yelling at him to just give her the damn name, but she refrained, instead clenching her hands into fists to release her tension.

Amaya’s father looked at her mother, than smiled. “I think we’ve kept you waiting long enough. His name, Amaya, his name is Cygnus Black.”

Amaya’s mouth dropped open. She closed it quickly, then opened it again. She could feel the blood rushing to her cheeks. She had never, ever imagined something like this. The Blacks were the most respected family of all pure bloods. They didn’t take choosing marriages lightly. It seemed impossible that out of all the eligible pure bloods, Cygnus had chosen her.

She shook her head without meaning to, still at a loss for words.

“Does Cygnus know about this?” she blurted finally. It seemed as though the question had found its way to the forefront of her mind subconsciously, as it wasn’t until after she asked the question that she realized why she cared.

The entire time Cygnus had been torturing that little girl, that he had forced her to strike her down, had he known that she was to be his future wife? Had it been a taste of what was to come when she was older? She suddenly felt sick.

Her father looked surprised at the question. “Er, yes, the match was made with his approval. We asked him not to tell you though, as we wanted to do that ourselves.”

Amaya felt light headed. So he had known. His cruel smile had not just been because he vaguely knew her, but because he knew that she would be his someday. It felt so harsh, to say that she would be his, but she knew it was the truth. If she was married to Cygnus, it would always be a game of what he wanted next. She would lead the same life she had now, forced to attend parties and make pleasantries.

And how many more Muggle borns would he persecute? She knew the Blacks were active in the group of people who frequently petitioned the Ministry to take away their rights, though their work was in the background. She would be forced to scorn Muggle borns every day. The face of the poor, poor girl she had faced with derision swam hazily into the forefront of her mind. How many more would she have to see like that?

And yet, there was no way out of it. She couldn’t possibly tell her parents she refused to marry Cygnus. They would have gone to so much trouble to secure the match. She couldn’t even imagine what they must have done. Though she was from a respected family, the Fitz were not even close to the Blacks in terms of standing. The match had been highly unlikely. She had expected the suitor to be a pure blood from some mildly important family, a boy that she did not know well and that she could easily refuse.

Her mind foggy, Amaya did not realize her parents had been talking to her until she felt a sharp slap on her arm. The room fell back into focus, and she realized that both her parents were looking at her with worry in their eyes.

“Amaya?” her mother asked cautiously. “Are you all right?”

Amaya still felt like her face had been dunked in a vat of boiling potion, though her hands felt ice cold and she couldn’t think straight. But she forced a smile at her mother’s question.

“Y-Yes, sorry,” she stuttered. “It’s just…it’s just a lot to take in.”

“You’re very red,” her mother answered nervously. “Are you sure you’re feeling okay?”

“I’m just a bit hot, that’s all.” Amaya looked at the dessert that had been brought in front of her. Even the thought of eating made her want to throw up. “But if you don’t mind, may I please be excused? It’s been a long day and I think I just need to lie down for a while.”

She could feel her voice getting weaker, and she wondered if her shaky knees would even be able to support her up the stairs. But her mother was now looking at her sympathetically.

“Of course. Do you want some water? I can send a House Elf up to help you if you like.”

“N-no, I’m all right.” Amaya pushed her chair away from the table and attempting to stand up. She lurched forward, clutching the table for support, but she was able to stand up. She took a tentative step forward, then smiled at her parents. “See. I’m fine. I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Amaya,” her father said suddenly. He waited for her to turn to look at him, then spoke again. “Just remember that your mother and I, we’re only thinking of your best interests. This match is going to secure your future. Remember that, darling, if you have any doubts. You will be happiest this way.”

Amaya managed to smile one last time. “Thank you,” she croaked. She stumbled out of the room, but as soon as she was out of sight, she sprinted up the stairs and collapsed onto her bed.

Without really knowing why, Amaya began to cry.

She knew she should be happy. Ecstatic, in fact. She should be dancing right now, cheering, loving her life and her parents. Every pure blood girl wanted nothing more than to marry into a rich family and live a life of luxury. She should be gloating about her future. There were few men better than Cygnus. Not to mention he was two years elder to her, so that he would already be established in the Ministry by the time he was of marrying age. Her future was set.

But that was exactly was she didn’t like about it. She didn’t want her future to be set. She wanted to be able to pick the man she married. She wanted to love the man she married. She didn’t want a future of parties and jewels and long dresses. Where her magic was only used for show, and when her every move was tailored by her husband.

It just wasn’t fair. Why should she get no say in who she married? Because she was a girl? Because her entire future depended on who she married?

Well, what if she didn’t want that! What if she wanted a job? What if she never wanted to marry? What if she chose to live her life as the owner of a shop in Diagon Alley? Why wasn’t she allowed to live the way she wanted!

Amaya punched her pillow, biting her lip to hold back a scream. She never asked for any of this. Never wanted any of this. She didn’t want to go against her morals for the rest of her life.

Somewhere along the way, pain and anger drifted into weariness and Amaya drifted into an uneasy sleep.


A/N: Okay, so maybe the quick update didn’t go like I planned. BUT, I still loved writing this chapter. What’d you all think? Sorry for the huge time jump I threw in there and the lack of Tom, but he’ll be coming back next chappie, as will Anabel. She suddenly has a much bigger role. Cookies to anyone who guesses why that is. This is also, if my current plan sticks around, the exact halfway point of the story :D 20 chapters is the goal right now, so expect a lot more action from here on out! As always, thank you for reading.

-Naida

Note to the validators: By the end of the story, Amaya will either agree to be married of her own free will or not get married at all.


Chapter 11: The Crumbling
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A/N: Hi everyone! I’m so so sorry for not updating this in aaaages. Life got in the way for a while, and then my muse for this story ran into the woods :P I went on a mass editing spree though, so the early chapters look much nicer. I didn’t change anything major for the most part, but I did change one plot detail that suddenly becomes important xD I don’t know if you even remember this, but Amaya sent Tom a letter asking how he was a few chapters back. This letter was now sent anonymously. Tom doesn’t know that Amaya sent it. THIS IS IMPORTANT :P Anyways, I hope you enjoy!

Amaya rubbed her eyes, lifting her head from her pillow. She squinted at the bright light that greeted her, then remembering the events of the previous day, she let her head fall back onto her pillow and groaned.

Her eyes and cheeks felt sticky from all the crying she had done, and her dress was crumpled between her legs. She hadn’t even bothered to take her boots off, and her feet felt uncomfortably hot inside of them.

Still, she made no move to get out of bed or kick her boots off. Maybe, if she stayed in bed long enough, she would never have to start her day or deal with what had happened the day before.

She was only sixteen. Why did they have to plan her marriage now? She knew that her parents wanted her future to be set and all that, but she wasn’t going to get married for two years.

And she knew that she would not marry Cygnus Black. She would not be subjected to that kind of a life.

The problem was breaking the news to her parents.

She wanted to lie in bed for the rest of her life. At least then, she wouldn’t have to worry about anything. Not school, not marriage, not Tom. If it wasn’t for Tom, maybe she would have been okay with marrying Cygnus. She wouldn’t really have a reason not to, if that was the case. She should be blaming Tom for this mess. If not for him, she might even be happy with her future.

But she knew that she couldn’t possibly blame Tom. If anyone, she should blame her own parents for assuming she would be happy with the arrangement.

She was going to have to face them in a few minutes.

The thought was enough to make her throw her pillow across the room, but she refrained. Instead, she sat up groggily and pulled off her boots. Her mother would go into hysterics if she found that Amaya had slept in this dress, so Amaya then pulled off the dress and pulled on the first nightdress she could find.

When she at least looked like she had slept properly, Amaya opened her trunk, which had appeared at the foot of her bed sometime in the middle of the night, and extracted a piece of parchment and a quill.

If she could tell anyone about this, it would be Anabel.

She scrawled a letter, only somewhat caring about her terrible penmanship. It wasn’t her most eloquently worded letter, but it got the point across. She placed it in an envelope and sealed it. She would give it to the family owl to deliver once she went downstairs for breakfast.

Amaya had just finished with the letter when she heard a soft knock on her door.

“Come in,” she said groggily.

The door opened and her mother entered, looking worried.

“How are you feeling,” she asked.

“Better,” Amaya answered truthfully. She did feel a bit better than she had the previous night, but it wasn’t much.

“I’m glad…” Her mother looked awkward, as though she wanted to tell Amaya something important but wasn’t sure how to say it. “You know, I wasn’t happy when I was initially told that I was going to marry your father. I had never met him before, and I didn’t want a life with someone I didn’t know. But I’m happy now. I love your father, I really do. Even though you might not be keen on the idea now, I’m sure that you will also grow to love Cygnus in time.”

Amaya only nodded curtly. She knew she couldn’t be happy with Cygnus, no matter what her mum said. “Mum…” she started slowly, so many words at the tip of her tongue. She picked through them carefully, trying to choose the right ones. “Is this…is it set in stone? If…if I could find a better offer, could things change?”

Her mother looked surprised. “Why yes, I suppose so. Everything’s almost settled but you’re not bound to him or anything. But really, Amaya, where could you possibly find a boy better than Cygnus?”

Amaya shrugged, though inside, she felt a huge surge of hope in her heart. If she could get Tom Riddle to love her, she knew that convincing her parents would be no trouble. She wouldn’t have to marry Cygnus after all.

“Thank you, Mum. I’ll be down for breakfast in a few minutes.”

“All right. Don’t be too long.”

Amaya snatched the letter up from her writing table and scurried out of the room after her mother. She stopped a House Elf on the way downstairs and gave him the letter to take to the owl before sitting down at the table with a slight glow returning to her eyes.

*

Tom Riddle was deep in thought. It wasn’t particularly unusual for him to stare into the fireplace with his chin on his fist, thinking about something or another, but this time, the contents of his ponderings were strange.

He was thinking about a secret admirer note he had received several months in the past. Tom wasn’t one to dwell on such things, especially as there had only been one letter so whoever had placed it there had probably done it on a dare or something similar. But it wasn’t the letter itself that he was concerned about. It was the idea of an anonymous note.

He wasn’t an idiot. He knew that most people would be unbelievably excited upon receiving such a note. He wanted to use that.

The truth was that Tom was becoming rather bored with life at Hogwarts. He had already planned out enough attacks on mudbloods to last the entire year and without the excitement of trying to learn about his heritage or the Chamber of Secrets, life had suddenly become monotonous. He wanted to do something new.

Christmas holidays had always been Tom’s favorite time of year at Hogwarts. The common room was always close to empty and no one disturbed him if he wanted to sit in the chair next to the fireplace and think all day. So he knew that he had to formulate his plan before the holiday ended.

It had taken him a surprisingly long time to think of what exactly he wanted to do. He wanted a challenge, a test of sorts. He wanted to see just how much power he really had in his group and what he could do with it. It would be so elegant if he could manipulate them into doing what he wanted with nothing more than a few simple words.

He had been mulling over how exactly he could do this without revealing himself when a small thought tugged at the back of his mind and he remembered the letter he had received so long ago. He had laughed softly to himself, the pieces of his plans falling into place.

He would write letters to some girl, first just complimenting her. He would get her to trust him, though his reputation would already help that. And then, he could get her to do his work for him. She could kill the damn roosters and write the bloody messages while he sat and lorded over it all. He wouldn’t say anything outright, of course. He would disguise his commands as harmless requests so that she would have no reason to suspect him. It would be a game, one that he was sure he would win. He would be, quite literally, a prince. No, more than that. He would be a king. But that didn’t sound quite right either.

He would be a Lord. He grinned as the title flashed into his head. Yes, that was exactly what he was. He was a Lord that would someday be the most powerful wizard in the world. He was sure of it.

He cast the thought to the back of his mind, focusing instead on the task at hand. He had to figure out which girl he wanted to manipulate.

The obvious choice was a Slytherin. He would be able to slip letters into their things much more easily, and he knew the Slytherin girls better. He pondered for a moment. Perhaps Lidya Scamander would be the right choice. She was easily the least confident of the girls, and thereby the easiest to manipulate. But no, she had too many friends. Too many people would know about the letter and he didn’t want to attract too much attention to it.

His thoughts fell on Anabel Davies and Amaya Fitz. The two of them were close, but he had never seen them spending time with many other people. And while they weren’t the least confident of the girls, they certainly weren’t the most confident either.

So which would it be? He didn’t particularly have a preference…except, Amaya had sent him a Christmas present and Anabel had not. Amaya clearly liked him better, and so she would be easier to manipulate. His eyes flashed with delight as he pulled out a piece of parchment and quill from his bag.

A row of letters at the top of it caught his eye, and he glanced up to see his work trying to make a better name for himself from several weeks ago. A thought crossing his mind, he wrote “Lord’ at the top of the parchment and crossed off an “L”, “O”, “R”, and “D” from the list of letters. It would be fitting to have Lord in his name.

Then he tucked it back into his bag and pulled out a fresh piece of parchment. It was time he got to work.

*

“There’s a letter for you, darling.”

Amaya glanced up from her porridge and at her father, who was holding an envelope out to her. She smiled, reaching across the table for it.

“Don’t open it at the breakfast table,” her mother scolded as Amaya slid a finger under the flap. She nodded, placing it next to her bowl and beginning to eat faster. It was from Anabel, and she was anxious to see the response.

Once she had finished, she excused herself and ran to her room, ripping the envelope open as she went. She was sure she would find encouraging words enclosed.

Amaya-

I don’t know how you could possibly be so ungrateful. Cygnus Black is the dream for most purebloods. The Black family? I would kill to be a part of it. Your parents must have pulled a lot of strings to arrange this, and yet you want to throw it all away? Face it: Tom Riddle is never going to fall in love with you. You’ve been deluding yourself for half a year and it’s about time you stop. You’ve got a perfectly lovely future planned out for you, yet you’re letting yourself obsess over a silly schoolgirl crush. Pathetic.

I’m sorry for sounding so harsh, but someone needs to snap you out of this. I strongly encourage you to reconsider what you said to me and I hope that I will see a change in you when we meet back at school.

-Anabel


Amaya stared at the letter in shock. Out of all the possible responses she had imagined, this was most certainly not one of them. She had known that Anabel had doubted she had a future with Tom, but she had never expected her to say it so bluntly. All Amaya really wanted was a little more freedom to make her own decisions, and yet even her best friend had turned against her for trying.

She felt a tear roll down her cheek, but she did nothing to stop it. She tore the letter into shreds, casting it into her fireplace and watching it turn to ash. She would not marry Cygnus, no matter what anyone else said. If she had to continue alone, then so be it.

One thing was certain. She had to get Tom Riddle to fall for her by the end of the year, whatever the cost.

Amaya took a deep breath, wiping the tears from her face. She couldn’t afford to cry about this any longer. Her situation had become desperate, and she needed to remain strong. She would be back at Hogwarts tomorrow, and then she would take every risk possible to ensure a better future.

After all, she thought to herself, Cygnus may have power and money. But she wanted love.

The prospect of seeing Tom soon was all that kept Amaya going through the rest of the day. She packed her trunk sullenly, taking as much time as she could to be in the solitude of her room. Lunch was a painful affair, as Amaya wanted nothing more than to hit one or both of her parents, but she managed to keep her face composed. She told herself that none of this would matter soon, and so she was able to keep calm while eating her soup.

Still, it was hard not to lash out at her mother when she corrected Amaya’s table manners. Amaya simply rolled her eyes, reminding herself that Tom probably didn’t give a damn about her table manners. Cygnus, on the other hand, would expect her to be a perfect little lady, which was exactly why she refused to marry him.

After she had eaten, Amaya returned to her room on the premise of finishing some last minute homework, but in reality, she curled onto her chair and began making a list of reasons why Tom was better than Cygnus. She felt slightly mollified as she listed everything she liked about Tom, and conversely everything she did not like about Cygnus. It made her feel like she had made the right decision despite what everyone else said.

She fell asleep quickly, the thought of Tom carrying her into her dreams.

*

By the time Tom arrived in the Great Hall the next morning, the train had already brought the students back to Hogwarts. They mingled with their friends, sharing their holidays and smiling to be back at school. Tom never understood why so many students chose to go home for the holidays. Surely a school of magic was much better than any other place.

He scanned the crowd for Amaya, spotting her standing by the Slytherin table across from Anabel. Classic. Tom walked towards them slowly, stopping once he got closer. Both girls were red faced and appeared to be arguing, though he couldn’t quite make out what they were saying. He smirked to himself. They were clearly distracted, and Amaya’s bag lay open on the bench behind her.

Tom slipped from the crowd and took the envelope with the letter out of his pocket. He walked casually, passing the girls and letting the letter drop into Amaya’s bag before straightening and walking to the other end of the table, where he took a seat and breathed a sigh of relief. He had been right in thinking that Amaya was too distracted to notice him walk behind her, and he hoped his body had hidden the letter well enough.

Now he just had to wait for her to find his letter. He slid an inch to his left so he could see Amaya in his peripheral vision, then helped himself to a piece of toast and began buttering it. He could wait days for her. He was good at waiting. But at the same time, some part of him wished she would open it immediately so he could continue his work.

“Hi, Tom!”

Tom turned slightly to see Cygnus Black standing behind him.

“Morning, Cygnus. How are you?”

“Doing well, thanks. How about you?”

“I’m brilliant,” said Tom with a small smile.

“Great,” Cygnus replied somewhat absentmindedly. “You wouldn’t have happened to see Amaya Fitz, would you?”

Tom nodded. “She’s over there.” He pointed to where she now stood alone, glaring at Anabel’s retreating back.

“Thanks,” Cygnus said, turning away.

“Why?” Tom asked before he could stop himself.

“Oh, I just need to talk to her.”

Tom blinked. It took a lot to surprise him, but Cygnus Black needing to talk to Amaya Fitz? Something seemed off with that statement.

Perhaps Cygnus registered Tom’s surprise, because he hastily continued. “We’re, er…we’re set to marry once she comes of age and leaves Hogwarts.”

Tom nodded, giving him a small smile, though his mind was whirring. Was that what Amaya and Anabel had been arguing about? He knew that most pureblood girls would love to marry Cygnus for his wealth and power, and he wondered how on earth Amaya had managed it. But this could be very bad for him. If Amaya was set to marry Cygnus, she most certainly would not want to have anything to do with him. His pulse quickened, thinking of the letter in Amaya’s bag. He had to get it out, lest he risk revealing himself.

Tom eyed Amaya, who was now speaking to Cygnus, but her back was turned so he couldn’t see her facial expressions. He hid a grimace upon noticing that she had picked up her bag and slung it over her shoulder. He had to get the letter back one way or another. This could ruin everything. He mentally scolded himself for being so stupid, so rash, and not thinking this out properly. He had to operate alone, so that no one else could give him away.

Tom felt his heart race. For one of the first times in his life, he was scared.

A/N: Reviews would be lovely! And a quick shoutout to MoonPrancerxoxo who reviewed all of this in a few short days. Thank you!


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