"Belle, are you okay?" Tom asked for the millionth time.
I nodded grimly, not meeting his eyes. Ever since meeting with Rebecca, I felt like Tom was tricking me. Tricking me into what I had no idea. I mean, it’s not like I’m hard to deceive anyway.
Right now, I was on the outskirts of the Forbidden Forest with Tom. After coming back to the common room from the Hospital wing, Tom had abruptly told me to follow him. No chance to get ready for the unknown.
"Can you tell me what we’re doing here?" I said annoyed. Just as I said that, a strange silence fell. Tom pulled me into a thicket of trees.
"Sh!" He said, motioning towards a couple of dark figures.
I looked closer, holding my breath. And out of the mist came a boy and a girl, both second year Gryffindors. Puzzled, I turned around to Tom, but he only had eyes for these two young people, watching them like an animal watches its prey.
"Tony, we’re not allowed to be here!" the small girl said, clutching her wand to her chest.
"Relax, Emmy, don’t you want to have some fun?" The boy, Tony, answered back. The girl, Emmy, was shivering, as if she could feel the possible danger near.
"You know, you’re little friend is right. You aren’t allowed to be here." Tom said, emerging from the bushes. I stood up too and only then did I notice how small they both looked.
"It’s not your forest!" The boy said stubbornly. The girl looked as if any minute now, she was going to croak.
Tom laughed. "What’s your name?"
"Anthony Abbot." The boy said proudly. "My dad is an auror."
Tom waved his wand lazily and the boy fell to the ground, unconscious. "What a perfect puppet to use. Small, stubborn and arrogant."
I reached out to put my hand on the girls, Emmy’s, shoulder but she instantly drew away and, her face horrified, she began to run towards the castle. Tom waved his wand again and the girl also fell. I rounded on Tom.
"Tom! What are you doing?"
"Belle, this is the reason I called you out tonight." Tom said, as if it was obvious. "And we needed things to practice on so I dropped rumors that the goblins dropped some gold on the outskirts of the forest. See? Then only the gulliable would come; and they deserve to be hurt."
"Their second years!"
"Yeah, so lets practice." Tom smirked as he kicked the boy so his face turned upwards. "Now, I’ve wanted to practice the cruciatus curse, which I haven’t done in a while."
I counted to three in my head before asking "When’s the last time you used it?"
"To curse some annoying first years in the bathroom. Mind you, they didn’t know it was me. They thought the bathroom was haunted." He laughed softly while summoning the girl so she lay beside the boy.
I kept my lips pursed as my eyes traveled slowly downwards. The girls face had remnants of tears on it; I guessed she was crying before Tom froze her.
"Tom, do you have a conscience?" The question slipped out and I felt myself turn to ice. Instead of glaring at me, he turned around to look me in the eye.
"No, I don’t think so." He said amusedly. "Besides, Belle, that’s irrelevant. Don’t be one of the weak- seek power when you see it."
He tossed me my wand, which I realized he had gotten out of my pocket. "Alright, Tom, I’ll help you on one condition."
He looked questioningly at me, his golden eyes like liquid. "Which is?"
"Don’t hurt them." I stood in front of him. Our eyes met and he smiled.
"I won’t, but one day you’ll see that hurting them is quite fun."
"Alright." I stopped talking and glanced at the pale bodies of the second years. "Um, let’s start then."
Without a word, he raised his wand, and the two awoke. "Now, you two, scream and you’ll regret it."
"B-but I have to g-go d-do my h-h-homework!" The girl whispered, and even though she said it quietly I could hear the scream in her voice.
"Wrong answer." Tom smirked, and without even muttering the curse aloud, she began to writhe in excruciating pain, but no sound came out. Tom had silenced her.
"STOP IT!" without warning, the boy, Tony, had punched Tom in the ribs and jumped on the girl. "EMMY! EMMY! EMMY, ARE YOU ALRIGHT?"
The girl did not stir. I turned to Tom, who was clutching his ribs and staring at Tony with displeasure. "She won’t stir, stupid boy. The little weakling doesn’t handle pain too well, now does she?"
I had a sudden vision of myself lying on the floor of the parlor at the Hogs Head. I was weak too.
"NOOOOOOO!" Tony shook her, dry sobs emitting from him. Then, he turned to me and Tom. "You both belong in Azkaban!"
I couldn’t handle it anymore. The boy wasn’t only making me feel worse but next to me, I could feel Tom’s anger growing stronger and stronger. He could kill him.
"Cruciatus!" I whispered, my wand pointed at the boy. Instantly, next to me, Tom put the silencing charm on him. The boy shook in pain, silent rage pouring out of every pore on his body.
"Belle, let him go for a second." Tom said, and I obliged.
The boy sat still for a second then got back up, extremely shaky on his knees. "Both…of…you…are…"
"Shut up." Tom interrupted. "Tell me, how did you feel just then?"
I expected the boy to submit to us and say his true feelings but instead he gave us an icy glare. "I…felt…angry…enough…to…run…a…sword…through…both…of…you…scumbags."
"You said your name was Abbot?" Tom asked, pretending not to have heard what Tony had said. He conjured a cup of water which Tony quickly downed.
"No, stupid, I said my name was Anthony." The boy said. "My last name is Abbot."
"Are you a pureblood?" Tom asked, ignoring the tone of his voice.
"Does it matter?" he muttered. Tom fixed him with a half stern half curious expression. "Okay! Yeah, I am! Stop looking at me like that, sheesh."
I burst out laughing but stopped when Tom turned towards me with the same expression. "Belle, explain to him why it matters."
"Well, um, you know, muggles are disgusting creatures and to mate with them or anything is just gross." I said in a low voice, kicking at a twig in the dirt. "You should be proud of your pure blood."
Tom looked proud. "And what is she?" He said, indicating the girl.
Tony stared at Emmy. "It’s none of your business."
Tom pointed his wand at Tony threateningly.
"OKAY, FINE. She’s a half blood."
Tom stared into Tony’s eyes. I had the feeling that he was x-raying him. "You lie."
"I’m not lying!" Tony yelled, but his voice cracked halfway.
"She’s a mudblood." Both Tony and I cringed at the sound of Tom’s voice. He waved his wand and in seconds Tony lay next to Emmy…both quiet as if they were dead.
"You know, Belle, I think we’ve done enough. Obviously, the curse is easy to use. Let’s go." He began to walk towards the castle.
I gaped at him. "Tom, we can’t just leave them here!"
"Yes, we can." He said, over his shoulder. "And don’t ask about their memories- already modified so they think a pair of goblins did that to them."
Together we walked across the grounds, the bodies of 12 year olds lying far behind. The darkness consumed them as we entered the castle.
I sat in one of the big armchairs in front of the fire, practicing some charms when the solid wall burst open and Cel and Nat walked in. I waved to them, and they waved back. Pretty soon, they were slumped around the fire.
"Belle, what’d you do with Tom?" Nat asked.
"Nothing, why?" I said, trying to sound casual. "We just did some homework."
Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw them exchange looks.
"Nothing like doing some homework on the edge of the Forbidden Forest." Cel said, his midnight blue eyes serious.
I sighed. "We were-"
"No need to answer them, Belle." A cool voice interrupted.
Tom was glaring at Cel and Nat as if he couldn’t believe what they were asking of me.
"Tom, you never tell us anything anymore!" Nat said angrily. He got up and I could see they were about the same height.
"And?" Tom asked in his most dangerous voice.
"And I thought we mattered!" Cel said, getting up also. He looked down at me. "Before Belle, we were your best mates."
"Let me let you in on a secret, then." Tom said sharply. "Belle is the only person that matters right now. If you disagree, then by all means, you’re welcome to join Rebecca in the hospital wing."
"Why does she matter?" Nat asked, frustration evident in his voice. By now, everyone in the common room was gawking at this.
"Learn some dark arts, and then we’ll talk." Tom retorted, so that no one but us could hear.
Either out of fear or anger, Nat knocked down one of the green lamps that sat on the table, which quickly repaired itself. "Come on, Cel, we have more important things to be doing then hanging around with little, obsessed-"
"Nat!" Cel said, rather warningly. "Don’t!
But it was too late; Tom’s face had turned impassive. If I knew him well enough, he was thinking of what curse to use on Nat. The latter, too late, realized his mistake and walked stormily upstairs into the dormitories. Everyone in the common room went silent.
"Tom, Nat didn’t-" Cel started but Tom shook his head slowly, still watching the place where Nat had been.
"He meant it." Tom put his hand in his pocket, where his wand was. "And I hate treachery."
Cel looked as if he was about to say something but stopped himself. Instead, he carefully made his way to where Nat was. I turned to look at Tom, but the solid wall had just shut behind him. I buried my face into the armchair. I don’t know how long I sat like that, but eventually Lucretia came in. She glanced around looking then walked to me and sat exactly where Nat had sat.
"Where is everyone?" She asked.
"Lets see- Nat and Cel are upstairs probably sleeping. Rebecca’s in the hospital wing. And Tom is…I don’t actually know."
She looked down at her hands. "I saw Tom on the way here. He seemed angry so I didn’t approach. Any idea what happened?"
I told her about the recent fight. She gaped at me, her mouth slightly open.
"Belle, I’m scared of what’s happening to our group." As she said this, tears fell down her face and her voice became more constricted. "Tom has always been a bit obsessed with the dark arts but ever since you came, it’s like a fire ignited in him. He’s overly obsessed now."
I slowly started to pack my books away. "Lucretia, I’m really really really sorry."
She wiped the tears away and gave a wet laugh. "Oh Belle, it’s not your fault. When Tom needs something, or someone, he’ll go at any length to make them feel like he doesn’t need them, but that they need him."
"What do you mean?" I asked, curiously facing her. She pushed back a fallen strand of hair and looked into the fire.
"When I first met Tom on the Hogwarts Express, he was a young eleven year old who held his wand a bit tighter than the rest of us. He looked and acted like a leader. All he needed were some followers." She paused and sighed. "Unfortunately, he found the followers in Becky, Nat, Cel, and I. He led us to believe we were friends. Years passed and the more time we spent with him, the more we were sure that we were nothing but puppets."
"Why didn’t you do anything about it?" I asked, my eyes wide.
She gave an unnaturally cold laugh. "Don’t you see Belle? It was already too late. He’d had years to expose all our fears and secrets. He’d had years to practice advanced magic. If we were one step out of line…well, you must’ve seen what Tom’s like now."
"He’s a monster." I whispered. She nodded, and placed a cold hand on mine.
"Belle, you can see it in his eyes." She licked her lips and then held both my hands in hers and this time, she talked in a quiet whisper. "I know Tom can flatter people rather good. And trust me, he knows that. But, Belle, he knows that girls are rather easy to trick- all he has to do is act his mysterious self and we’ll tell him anything he wants. I rather agree with him on some things, for example, mudbloods shouldn’t be allowed in Hogwarts, but they shouldn’t be killed. Ugh, what I’m trying to say is, Belle, you can’t teach him anymore."
I backed away. "Lucretia, I have to teach him- I’m scared of what’ll happen if I refuse. And like you said, it’s too late to do anything about it."
She got up slowly and looked into the roaring fire. "I have a feeling stopping Tom will be a long process."
"A process I don’t think is worth going through." I said. She gave me a puzzled look.
"That’s where our opinions differ, then." Lucretia said. She turned to me and bid me a good night.
Only when she was in the dormitories did I notice that a piece of parchment had fallen out of her robes. I held it steadily, reading by the light of the fire. It was a list in the neat handwriting of Tom.
-Chamber of Secrets (LOCATION FOUND)
-Room of Hidden Things (LOCATION FOUND)
-Destroy some scum
(By the end of 7th year)
A million questions found their way into my head. Why would Lucretia have Tom’s list? Was this some kind of "hit" list? Was Lucretia working a long with Tom? Did she mean anything she said a minute ago? Who were the scum? And then, as though a brick had hit my head, I understood something.
Tom wanted me to teach him everything that wasn’t crossed out. But what were these things that were crossed out? What was the Room of Hidden Things? And why did the Chamber of Secrets sound so familiar?
A million new questions came about as I tucked the folded note into my pocket, gathered my books and headed upstairs. Only one thing was sure to me now:
I had to help Tom. I had no choice anymore. I was the new puppet and I was going to like it or be destroyed.
A:N/ I haven’t updated in months! This was just a filler chapter, but the next chapter WILL have a total twist to everything…dun dun dun. Anywho, the next chapter is written I just have to wait for that darling queue! Enjoy and please leave a review! :]
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