Chapter 2 : Part Two: Stonework
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There was no mistaking that a storm was coming. The sky held no rain, but the air was muggy and the clouds were dark. Taylor needed to find a place to rest for the evening before he got caught in it. The idea was not something his horse would object to as they had been riding all day and both were near exhaustion.
It was not a method of transportation Taylor preferred, but in today’s age it was sometimes the only way to get to your destination. On this particular journey he had traveled by all means, wizard and muggle alike. Now he was using a horse because a car could not travel down these forgotten back roads and using any form of wizard transportation in the muggle world was strictly forbidden, there was a war going on after all.
As they both rode towards the nearest town, a slow rolling thunder rang over their heads and his horse jerked sideways in protest. Taylor tried to calm her down but she always got skittish with storms the owner had told him. When he finally pulled her back around, Taylor caught sight of the town sign and read it over curiously. He needed to be sure that it would be agreeable for him to stay. While no sign ever read “Wizards welcome” in the muggle world, he needed to make sure they didn’t say “sinners unwelcome” in its place.
‘Welcome to Little Hangelton. Home of the prosperous and gentle Riddle family.’ Taylor laughed. This could not be the same Riddle he was imagining; his Riddle was anything but gentle. The Riddle he knew was Tom, an arrogant boy who always thought of himself as the top of the class. In truth he had been the top of everything he tried, but Taylor never stopped believing that he was a cheating coward.
They had gone to school together several years ago and if memory served then Tom should have just finished his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Yet Taylor couldn’t imagine why Tom would want to go back to any muggle place he was linked to. He had always spoken on his home at a muggle orphanage with such distaste that Taylor often wondered when they would hear news of something terrible happening there. Tom was, after all, an emblematic Slytherin.
After stabling his horse, Taylor walked across the dirt road to the local inn. He could not help noticing that the streets were empty. Perhaps this town had early evenings and everyone was already asleep. Or perhaps it was the on coming storm which seemed to fill the air with electricity. He pushed open the doors of the inn and found only three seats at the bar, strangely named the Hanged Man, were occupied. One was by the innkeeper who sat counting the days till and the other two must have been tenants as they both walked upstairs at the sight of him.
Taylor glanced down at himself as well, thinking he didn’t look that strange. The black and yellow robes he wore had been tailored to match that of modern muggle wear and all of his wizarding contraptions were well hidden. It must just be the magical aura about him; his mother had always said he showed great magical ability.
Yet now was not the time to think about magic, even with the witch trials over, the muggle world was a dangerous place for any magic user. Taylor kept that in mind as he arranged with the innkeeper to stay the night. As he was lead upstairs to a room, Taylor asked about the Riddle family mentioned on the town sign.
The innkeeper looked him over a moment and then fell into praising the Riddle’s as a wonderful family. As he carried on, Taylor wondered how much of his speech was memorized and how much was thought up on the spot. There was an empty feeling to his words and Taylor could not believe any of it. Just like he could never believe his Tom Riddle was as clever and perfect as everyone else seemed to think. Yet when the man mentioned the father’s name was Tom, Taylor glanced up and asked about a son.
The man went silent for amount, as if very nervous to even think about him, but then picked right back up with a fanciful tale about how their son had gone off on some great adventure in the country to learn about the world and had now returned. Taylor held his composure until the man left him in the room and then he gave a mocking laugh to the whole lot of it.
If this was indeed the Riddle family that belonged to his Tom Riddle then Tom must have lied to him while they were at school. He had always told everyone that he grew up in a ‘muggle’ orphanage and had no family to go back too. Yet, perhaps he didn’t know. Perhaps these were his birth parents who had had another child which they named Tom as well.
Whatever twisted tale of mystery and magic was at work here, Taylor didn’t care enough to dig into it any further. He had his own work to do for his family’s honor and had to get some sleep before another long day of riding. But before he climbed into the uncomfortable looking bed, Taylor wanted to relax and have a good drink.
So he repackaged up all his belongings into his small satchel and headed down to the bar to order a drink from the barkeeper, who of course was the same man as the innkeeper. This must really be a small town Taylor thought as he took a drink. It wasn’t as good as the fire whiskey his father had liked, but it would suffice.
Taylor wanted to celebrate; his mission had been a success. He had uncovered Helga Hufflepuff’s famous cup from the hands of the ignoble Goblins and would now hand it over to Hepzibah Smith, who had promised to honor it in her well guarded collection while they made the arrangements to donate it to Hogwarts. It seemed like the only proper home for the treasure of such a beautifully spirited woman. The yellow fairy was what his ancestor’s had always called her.
Taylor drank another cup of whatever the barkeep had placed in front of him and smiled happily. The barkeep asked what he could be so happy about with a war going on and Taylor just smiled; leave it to the muggles to start a war that covered the whole world…again.
“I have been on a mission that turned into a success so I wish to celebrate,” Taylor said and raised his glass in a one man toast.
“What kind of mission?” asked a new voice. One that Taylor sorely recognized. It was not one he had ever expected to hear again.
He turned to see Tom Riddle standing in the doorway. He had made no attempts to change his appearance and still wore his school robes, the Slytherin patch showing proudly on his chest.
“Hello Tom,” Taylor said solemnly and set his glass down, “come to visit your family?”
“My family?” Tom asked, seemingly perplexed. Taylor was never sure with him.
“The barkeep here was telling me a wondrous tale about the ‘prosperous and gentle’ Riddle family,” Taylor indicated the man behind the bar who stepped back into the shadows nervously.
“Yes well,” Tom huffed himself up slightly and Taylor laughed to himself, “he must have been referring to my father and grandfather, we all have the same filthy name.”
“Sure,” Taylor replied nonchalantly and took another drink. Tom was a very pretentious man and Taylor was really not in the mood to let him ruin the evening.
“And what brings you here Taylor? Shouldn’t you be at home with your wife?” Tom was condescending and bringing up his wife, who was expecting their first child, was a low blow.
“I had something I needed to get done. I will be returning shortly. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an early morning,” Taylor excused himself from the bar and paid for his drinks.
“Don’t wish to join your old school friend for a drink?” Tom asked, twisting Taylor’s arm in the figurative sense. It would prove him the lesser man if he did not accept.
“I hardly think we were friends Tom, but I shall join you for one drink,” Taylor sighed and indicated a table away from the ears of the barkeep.
“One drink is all I ask,” smirked Tom and grabbed them from the counter before sitting across from Taylor.
Taylor spoke first, wanting to steer the direction of the conversation, “how are things at Hogwarts these days? I heard there was some trouble with one of the students in the Daily Prophet.”
Tom gave a small laugh and Taylor disliked it. “Yes, the oaf Hagrid was expelled for the murder of a mud- … muggle born.”
Taylor held his expression of casualness at Tom’s semi-slip of the tongue but he could not believe what he was hearing. “Murder? Surely not at Hogwarts.”
“I caught him myself, trying to hide his giant pet spider. Terrible thing really, girl died in a bathroom. How pathetic.” Tom shook his head.
“Death, in any sense, is not pathetic Tom.” Taylor did not like his chipper attitude and he moved to leave.
“What’s that?” Tom asked suddenly and grabbed his arm. Taylor jerked it away and found Tom suddenly solemn, attentive.
Taylor looked down at himself and realized that part of the badger on his new treasure was showing. It must have slipped from its protective coverings while he was riding.
“It’s nothing,” he said quickly and tucked it away, “merely a gift for a friend.”
“That gift bears the mark of Helga Hufflepuff,” said Tom, highly interested.
“Lots of things do these days Tom. My school cloak still does, or have you forgotten that was my house?” Tom smirked, “naturally I would be honored by anything bearing her mark.”
“Yes,” Tom stood up and Taylor placed his hand over his wand, ready for a fight, “your family was discovered by her wasn’t it? The great family of Davies, found in a muggle orphanage by Helga Hufflepuff and asked to attend the school’s first year. Or is that just what you like to claim?”
“How dare you,” Taylor started but was cut off by the barkeep.
“If you two are gonna fight then take it outside,” he yelled to them angrily. Taylor told him not to bother with them, that he was leaving. Anywhere near Tom Riddle is a place he did not want to be.
Taylor gave the barkeep back his room key and walked out the door to get his horse. He did not turn to look back at Tom nor at the sudden burst of light that he saw reflected in the windows across the street. Something was wrong and he did not want to stay to see it get worse.
“Taylor Davies,” the voice was calm and close by, but he did not turn around.
“What have you done Tom?” he asked, moving closer to his horse. The soft and yet thunderous sound of Tom’s voice in his ears meant he was too close to simply apparate away. Taylor knew he needed more distance between them so that Tom could not grab hold of him as he tried to escape.
“I have committed murder,” the voice remained calm and Taylor stopped, “now you will give me the cup of Helga Hufflepuff or you shall be next.”
“Why are you doing this?” Taylor asked, wanting at least a small bit of justification for his death; something he felt was now assured.
He had survived his great adventure to recover the illustrious treasure of Helga Hufflepuff only to die at the hands of an overzealous child. Irony was a cruel playmate.
“I am seeing all my dreams beginning to come to fruition because I have the courage to pursue them.” Tom seemed like deluded youth, but Taylor knew better then to underestimate him. Even with their age and skill differences, Tom was the more powerful wizard.
“Dreams to be a killer?” What had happened in the four years since he had left school? Hogwarts, his beloved school, had somehow produced something vile that would now be his undoing. Taylor knew the voice and the face, but this was not the Tom he had known.
“Dreams to be the master of the world, wizard and muggle alike, as I was always meant to be.” Tom sounded a bit like the crazed Grindelwald that he had read about in the Daily Prophet and Taylor wondered if that was how he would grow up to be.
What a sad existence and pitiful ending awaited him; he actually felt sorry for the man who would murder him.
Taylor knew he was a dead man; it was something he had come to terms with. Even if he gave Tom the cup, there was no way Tom would let him live knowing he would head straight to the Ministry.
Slowly, silently, Taylor reached inside his coat. He knew Tom was watching him and he probably believed that he would hand over the cup without a struggle. Yet it was Taylor’s wand that was in his hand when he turned.
While Tom’s wand had been pointed at him, his wand was not pointed back. Taylor had turned his wand on himself. It was not himself he was aiming at but the small satchel of possessions he had under his coat.
As Tom rushed forward, Taylor fell. The spell had hit him dead center in the chest and now he lay dead on the cold earth. But there was a smile on his face and Tom cursed when he found that it was the cup Taylor had aimed for. Now he would have to track down where he had sent it. Now he would have to keep an eye on the Davies clan.
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