I pulled on the dark black robes over the traditional, grey and pleated Hogwarts skirt and buttoned up my crisp white blouse. It felt so different from my usual, simple white dress that I shuddered when I pulled on the black shoes. Then, finally, I pinned the Prefect’s badge to my robes. Dippet had decided to make me Prefect as the other one had left mysteriously.
There was a brisk knock on my door and I opened it cautiously. Outside stood Dumbledore, resplendent in his own black robes and slightly crooked wizards hat.
“Are you ready, Miss Wray?” He asked me quickly.
“As ready as I’ll ever be, sir,” I responded.
The corners of his thin mouth twitched and he beckoned me out the door. We walked through the dark halls that had suits of armor on every side who rattled loudly. Hogwarts was enormous, but not once did I feel the apprehension that had swept through me on bird’s eye view of the magnificent castle.
The hum of hundreds of student seeped through the stone walls in a dank current of reassurance and new beginnings. I took in a deep, slow breath, the air filling my lungs like a taste of the forbidden fruit, the cheeky side of me. It was that girl, Dovie, who would always make my most important decisions.
My thoughts were caught short by a somewhat squeaky voice that drifted over the now faded voices, even though we stood straight outside the huge oaken doors.
“…and now, students, I would like you to welcome our new student this year. She has transferred from Beauxbatons and will currently reside in Slytherin. Slytherins, she is also your new Prefect, as Lee Anubis left last year. I would like the entire school to welcome Miss Dana Wray!”
Dumbledore beckoned me forward as the doors swung open to reveal an immense chamber filled with levitated candles, the four house tables, the head table, and an enchanted ceiling that was bewitched to look like the night sky. My eyes rebelled and strayed towards the heathens and I felt instantly calmed.
Polite applause filled the room, which grew from the Slytherin table as they took in my appearance. I scanned the room quickly as I walked in with dainty strides, watching the auras flutter around the students like doves or phoenixes.
Many of the auras, especially ones at the Slytherin table, were darker then usual. But there was one that caught my eye, and it took my breath away. Sitting beneath this aura was a young, handsome man. He had pale, hollow cheeks, malicious black eyes and black hair that curled over his forehead. The only available seat was straight across from the man, and I took my seat cautiously. His black eyes never flickered from my face, penetrating my innermost apprehension with his stare. I felt the same thing I had felt when Dumbledore had looked at me – frightened.
Raising my head haughtily, I let the blonde waves cascade over my black shoulders and stared at him in the eye once more.
“Hello. I’m Dana Wray,” I began haughtily.
“I think we all know that,” one brown haired boy sniggered. “Jus’ got introduced by Dippet and all, didn’t cha? Big fancy introduction for the Beauxbatons girl.”
I immediately disliked him, but covered up my sneer with a raise of an eyebrow.
“Well,” I said primly. “I’m sorry if I’m not to your liking…”
“The name’s Avery,” he smirked. “And I never said you ain’t to my liking, its jus’ that no one needs that. In fact, actually,” he added, his smirk growing wider and his eyes flicking up and down my body. “I think I’m gonna like you very much. Much better then Anubis, eh? Mind you” – his tone became confidential. “She puts-”
“No one wants to know about your nighttime escapades, Avery,” the boy said quietly. His black eyes still hadn’t left my face. “Not even a filthy Mudblood would want to listen to you.”
Avery flushed and the others laughed.
“I’m Tom Riddle,” the man said to me.
He extended a pale, long fingered hand across the heaping plates and I took it apprehensively. A shock ran through my body, hotter then the burning fire, and not nearly as pleasant. But I didn’t wince and I shook his hand firmly and let my hands linger for a millisecond too long.
“I’m the other Prefect,” he said. “It’s strange that Dumbledore would have made you Prefect so quickly though… without, say, something else influencing his decision?”
I felt the breath in my lungs disappear and was glad when Dippet’s squeaky voice broke the awkward silence. Everyone else grumbled and turned to face him, their haughty eyes glassing over already with boredom. I, however, fixed my gaze on the shimmering gold of the plate.
Brai mena tu dusus, Dovie, a soft voice whispered in my head. Be strong, Dovie. Be strong.
Suddenly, everyone whooped and stood up. I looked up from the solid gold to see everyone rising up and talking loudly. Tom was right beside me, his eyes still fixed on me. The expression on his face had changed and was now rather charming as he held out a hand for me.
“Are you alright?” He said, pulling me up to my feet. I swayed unsteadily for a second as the blood pounded in my head. I let go of his grasp.
“I’m fine. I just… the shock of going to a new school is sometimes too much. Adding the death of my parents is a disaster, so…” My voice tapered off and I could’ve sworn I saw empathy in his eyes.
“First years,” he barked impatiently as a group of small students milled around us. “I trust you know the way to the common room yourself?”
The first years nodded, apparently frightened by his aggressive demeanor. They all mumbled their agreements and scattered at the careless wave of Tom’s arm. The Great Hall had emptied a lot and the only people left were stragglers who were stuffing their faces and the teachers.
Tom stopped and hesitated. “I’m sorry, Dana, if Avery was rather rude towards you. He can be very crude.”
“That’s alright,” I said quietly, surveying him with my head cocked to one side. We started to walk again down the silent halls. “But I think I can handle myself, Tom Riddle.”
An unnamed emotion passed over his face before it hardened and he looked ahead into the darkness for a few seconds before answering me. He seemed to be thinking hard.
“That’s not what I meant. I think that your first impression has revealed quite a steadfast person beneath the blonde hair, but Avery is notorious for getting what he wants through force. Especially a night with any girl in the castle.”
“Are you worried about me?” I teased subtly, toying with his emotions. “Trying to protect me already? Why, I thought we’d just met!”
We stopped in front of a blank stretch of wall which I instantly perceived to be the Slytherin common room and dorms; the stench of power was unbelievable.
“You’re completely misunderstanding me, Wray,” he flared as his cheeks burned. I registered the use of my surname and could sense the change in his tone. “I mean, it wouldn’t look very good if the Prefect got, er, taken advantage of in her first weeks of the castle? He knows how to trick people and all I’m saying is to stay away from him, for your own good. You should be flattered we’re having this conversation at all. Anubis got knocked up within a month of being around Avery. Why do you think she left? Pureblood.” (This was to the wall, which instantly slid away with an ominous hissing.) “I’m saying, Slytherins aren’t sluts, Dana, and I don’t expect you to behave like one.”
We walked into the deserted common room. I was flushed with anger and with indignation. How dare he call me a slut? For goodness sakes, I was sixteen, I was a Prefect and I was a Dovie. Anubis was as well, a sly voice whispered in my head. Not a Dovie! I thought back angrily. I’m a picture of innocence!
“Tom Riddle! I have never – never have I been more insulted in my life! How dare you accuse me of such adultery, making these ridiculous assumptions that I would let Avery play all the cards! I am able to handle myself and I would appreciate it if you would not build up a prejudice against me! And just to let you know, I am fully capable of making my own decisions!”
I ran out of breath and paused for a breath, my chest rising and falling rapidly and my cheeks coloured. Tom eyed me for a second and his expression changed immediately as the corners of his lips tugged upwards slightly.
“Very well, no need to shout,” he said, sounding quite amused at my outburst. “It appears you do have a temper, Dana, but don’t worry. I will not go creating prejudice and I trust your ability to make your own decisions and keep yourself out of trouble.”
I supposed I looked rather confused, for he attempted a mollified smile and opened his mouth. Footsteps pounded down the stairs and a smaller girl with long brown hair burst into the room. She looked shocked to see us downstairs and immediately backed up again.
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” she stuttered. “I am - I forgot – I was fetching my necklace. Have you s-seen it, by any chance? It was a gold chain…”
Her voice trailed off as I caught a glint of gold with the corner of my eye. I reached forward and picked up a long gold linked chain with a small engraved pendant that dangled from it. It was engraved in an elaborate cursive, bearing the name Amanda.
“Is this it?” I asked kindly.
She nodded and snatched it from me. The so called Amanda cast one frightened look at the two of us, and bounded back up the stairs. The chiming of the clock brought me round from my dream world, in which I was pursuing sleep quite successfully and I found that the hands were already both pointing upwards.
“It’s getting rather late,” I sighed, casting a wistful glance at the hands, as if they might change suddenly.
“We best be getting our sleep,” Tom said firmly. “Goodnight, Dana.”
I smiled at him slightly. There was something about him that intrigued me so, even though he was obviously malevolent to the very bone. As soon as I had shut the dorm door quietly, I plopped down onto my bed and listened to Meaghan whisper reassurance in my ear.
As I drifted off to sleep, I had a sudden flash of the floating embers in the common room. The fire was sizzling once more, burning down from the small flame it had been to ashes. Darkness cloaked the figure that stood in front of the fireplace, staring at the embers. With one long fingered, pale hand, it reached out and caught a cinder as it spat up over the carpet and let it burn in his hand. Then sleep overtook me and I saw no more.