December 31, 1947
I woke up early today to make Tom a special breakfast for his birthday. To make sure I would arise before him, I slept very lightly. My mind would wake me up every hour or so to make sure Tom was still asleep. For once, I wanted to surprise him, and why not on his birthday? As I slowly and carefully crawled out of the left side of the bed, I heard Tom roll and grumble in his sleep. I held my breath, afraid that I had waked him. But his eyes never opened.
Once I was in the kitchen I looked for all the ingredients I would need to make him some hotcakes. My grain crop had yielded well for how small it was. (I did give it a little help, with magic of course.) I had enough flour to probably last until spring. I looked out the kitchen window to see the sun's early glow but it was missing. Our first winter in Albania had been more rain and wind than any snow. Today I could see a storm brewing, covering the morning light. The fog in the valley met the grey clouds above making one big blanket over the land. Over the light clatter of my utensils I could hear the forest birds singing and the waves' constant crashing.
Butter had been hard to come by in the past. That was until we stole a goat. I heard him braying along with the birds outside, mostly likely foretelling another rainstorm. I had begged Tom, after we got him a couple months ago, to make a little shelter for him. He reluctantly complied. I named the goat Edward to go along with my royal chickens, which were surprising quiet this morning.
Though I couldn't tell for sure because of the rainclouds, the sun had just risen above the mountains by the time I was done mixing all the ingredients together and about to pour them out on the pan coated with melted butter. I had never made them with goat butter before and hoped it would taste alright.
After flipping one, I set it aside to cool and ripped off a piece to sample. The soft fluffiness hit my mouth, and it was hot and delicious; but it needed something. I searched low in my cabinets for that something, and then I found exactly what I wanted: walnuts. Perfect.
After adding the nuts in I poured ten more of the little hotcakes and placed them on the table. I set it up as nicely as possible, remembering what my mother told me about setting the table. I dusted off an old table cloth that was shoved in the bottom of the dresser. In the evenings, I had been using as a blanket for the cold nights. Even as I opened the drawer, Tom continued to sleep. He must have stayed up fairly late last night to be sleeping after sunrise. However, I needed to light the candles because the house was still dark, so it could be that his body didn't realize it was daytime. I transfigured a spare fork into a vase and a spoon into a silvery, metal bouquet.
I sat at the table smelling the cakes while watching the steam rise off them. Instantly my eyes were pulled to the kitchen window because I heard a sudden rumble from outside. I sat in the chair facing the window so I was easily able to see the water from the sky crashing down onto the trees. The rooftop drummed from the bombardment of rain. We had gone through a couple of rainstorms already and to find out our roof leaked. By this storm we had wizened up and fixed all the leaks.
I turned my head to Tom to see if he would wake up. I did not have a desire to wake up early since he would be extremely cranky. After spending over half a year with him by ourselves in these remote cabins I knew him very well. Everything had to be done just so – if not his wrath would come. But putting it that way made it seem like every moment was like walking through broken glass. It may have been like that in the beginning, but the past two months have been close to pleasant.
That was because I made the difficult decision to suppress my romantic feelings for Tom. After he had saved me from the manticore, I ran back to the house and locked myself in the bathroom and cried for hours. When I exited I had a newfound spirit. Be that I was terribly in love with Tom, right now in our relationship he simply could, or would, not love me back. I think after pushing him so far and still he would not admit it made that very clear. I truly did not let him set eyes on me for that week. (I slept in his study.) The eighth day he barged into the smaller shack and told me to make us breakfast and then pack us lunch, like nothing had happened.
From that time on, I just accepted my job as his servant. And in a way things did get much simpler. I took much more enjoyment in tending the garden and cooking. I wasn't his slave – this was my new job. And, yes, I wasn't getting paid, but I was jolly well getting experience. Tom showed me a lot of new spells and we were able to gather multitudes of flora for potions. The Albanian forest was full of rare magical plants, like gillyweed, bloodvine (good for getting rid of magical stains), Morgana's Fan (makes healing potions work faster), and so on. I dried and ground them to powder to mail to Druella and Norma. Norma was kind enough mail me back calendars I had requested for 1947 and 1948. (That was how I knew exactly when Tom's birthday would be).
Tom and I had a better relationship as well. We were able to have more open conversations – we actually laughed a lot more. It was nice, just being Tom's friend rather than trying to be his lover. But in the middle of the night, if I woke up to candlelight and saw Tom's sleeping face, I couldn't deny that I wanted more from him. But at this time I would just have to wait.
The rain pounding on the roof did wake Tom up, so thankfully I didn't have to wait any longer to eat. He sat on the edge of the bed groggily, running his hands through his hair. Then he laid his eyes on me. "Happy birthday!" I said happily, but hopefully not too excitedly for his sleepy state.
Tom huffed as he sat up. He ignored me, grabbed his wand off the dresser, and went straight to the bathroom. After a minute, he emerged still looking tired but with a freshly washed face. Now that it was cold, he stopped shaving as often. I know he didn't care for his short beard because he constantly picked at it; however it kept his face warm. He was lucky that he could be handsome regardless.
He slowly walked to the other chair and sat down. Then he stared at his empty plate. I stood up and leaned over the table to put three hot cakes onto his plate. "Enjoy your birthday breakfast," I said and smiled. He obliged and took five more off the plate. That left only two for me. I pouted a little but decided to just make more for myself.
Tom didn't talk the whole time he ate and even when he was done eating. I didn't find it unusual; simply irritating since I expected him to be a little livelier for his birthday. To break the ice, I called over to him from the kitchen where I was making more hot cakes, asking, "You turned twenty-one today, right?"
He didn't reply right away. I heard him shift his chair around so that he could look at me while he talked. "Yes, Eva. It's been twenty-one years since the day I was born." I turned to look back him as I mixed the batter in a bowl. "And it's been over five years since I met you," he commented with a pleased face.
I proudly smiled back at him, happy to know that I was Lord Voldemort's most trusted servant.
We stayed silent, which was typical. Yet there were some times where he would allow me to talk on and on about memories I had in my life. It was easy to talk and not talk to Tom now that my mind wasn't plagued with thoughts of whether he loved me or not. I had finished making the batter. I glanced down to the skillet resting on the stove and saw it needed more butter. I placed the bowl of batter upon the countertop and reached down to the cabinet to the right of the sink to get the butter. I had charmed that section of space with a freezing charm to mimic the iceboxes we had in England. I had pulled the curtain halfway, but then it suddenly slid back to its original position. I looked down at the kitchen curtain, horribly confused, and tried opening it again. For a second time, it pulled itself back. There was something amiss.
"My lord," I said slowly, turning to look for my wand. "I think you need to come over here."
He obliged and came to see what I wanted. This time I had grabbed my wand before I tried again. Tom always held his. The curtain slid closed again after opening it half way, like the times before. "Back up," he told me curtly with his wand pointing at the curtain. He could sense something was off too.
I obeyed Tom and stood next our half empty washing tub filled with dirty water and old soap scuds from a couple days ago. I watched as Tom said a curse that sent a piece of the kitchen counter flying off, barely missing me. I stared at the broken wood pieces on the ground and thought of what would happen if it had hit me in my face. Tom was so reckless and uncaring sometimes. I turned to glare at him.
However, standing in front of me, was not one Tom but two.
One was holding up his wand, with a frightened look that I had never seen and never wanted to see on Tom's beautiful face ever again. Others would have said his glare was of anger, but I knew the way he quivered his wand was different than the way he would if he was furious. The other Tom was floating in midair, right in front of the scared Tom. His eyes were glazed over, like the chickens I had killed or the dead manticore. His mouth was open slightly, and his face was ashen. I was seeing a dead Tom Riddle in front of my eyes, and it made me more terrified than I had ever felt.
To my horror, the body swiveled around and faced me. Slowly the corpse made its way towards where I was standing. I tripped on the wooden pieces underneath and almost fell into the washing tub. I quickly pushed the tub and washboard away with my hands as I fell onto the ground. My head smacked the floor, but I picked myself up as fast as I could. I rapidly crawled towards the wall to somehow climb back up, but I knew I was trapped. I strangely believed that this was the real Tom and that he was dead, coming to carry me off to the underworld with him. It seemed so real. All I could do was scream.
In the blur of my mind I saw the whole room fly upwards. The wood cracked and splintered, but I kept screaming as Tom's lifeless eyes inched closer towards me. Maybe he had already dragged me down to hell with him.
The frightened, but alive, Tom woke out of his stupor. He whipped his wand as if it was a real whip and shouted, "Riddikulus
A sharp crack came, and the corpse-Tom turned into snake and slithered away through the crack under the front door.
I stopped screaming and immediately the bed, dresser, table, chairs, and couch came slamming down into the dirt floor. My chest rose and fell like the waves of the ocean outside, crashing on the cliff our house was on. The only words I could think to say were, "What…what was that?"
Tom was paler than usual, but somehow managed to look as though he was not ruffled by what had happened. "It was…just a boggart."
"A what?" I grabbed the back of my head. I must have landed on it when I fell because I was getting a nasty headache.
"Boggart, you heard me. Didn't you pay attention in Defense Against the Dark Arts?" Tom snapped.
I ignored his tone. "Yes, but…I didn't really understand…why was it your corpse?"
"It changes into the thing that the victim fears the most. You fear my death, which entails your death, and so it turned into my corpse."
No. Somehow that wasn't right. I explained further, "But my lord, you
were the one looking at it when it first emerged. You
were its first victim, not me."
Tom helped me off the floor but continued holding onto my wrist. He stared at me and said, "I'm not as concerned about that boggart more than I am with the fact that you never told me you had telekinesis."
"Oh… I did move the furniture didn't I?" I sheepishly looked at the cracked dresser, bent chairs, the table décor thrown on the floor, and lopsided bed. "It only happens when I get really scared or really upset. Other than that, I can't even lift a feather."
Tom let go of me quickly and his demeanor brightened. "Well, I'm very impressed. I should start teaching you how to control it. When did you first find out?"
"When I was young. Mother came home late and I was in a fit. That was when we lived in the Muggle flats. I got beat so bad because Mum had to make up such a story to explain everything flying around." I couldn't help but laugh nervously, remembering my mother's shocked face as well as the oblivious Muggles.
Tom chuckled as well, probably because he had a similar experience. "Yes," he said thoughtfully, "Performing magic in front of Muggles is strangely satisfying – their faces are so aghast." He gave a real laugh this time.
After he calmed down, he asked me, "So she didn't get around training you? Perhaps she didn't know how?"
I sighed and sat down on the bed, which was right next to me. My hands were still shaking from the boggart experience. "No. She said that she was going to but she died pretty soon after that." My emotions were beginning to turn into waves of sadness recalling those hard times. I stared at my feet and began to wring my hands to prevent them from shaking further. Tom didn't say anything. Despite every instinct, I suddenly felt like I should tell him everything. I raised my head to look at Tom in the face. He was working on fixing the dresser but noticed me staring at him.
I began my story. "I found her when I came from the kitchen to bring her a fresh cup of tea. She was just sitting there, in the chair, with a glass of wine next to her. In those times, she always had wine at tea time. I had never seen her so still or cold in my life. I overheard the Ministry workers saying that the wine was actually poison. She killed herself. My father…well he killed himself too." I suddenly couldn't say anymore. I went back to staring at the floor, remembering my mother's cold lifeless body. I thought about my father's death, of which I had heard from Mother. It was strange, but I had never told anyone, ever, that my parents committed suicide. Not even my precious album knew this secret.
I felt the need to explain more, "I don't know what I did wrong. Everything seemed to be getting better. We had just made a cake the other day. Chocolate: my favorite." I started to choke on my words and tears slowly slid down my cheeks. I got up quickly off the bed and walked away from Tom. I couldn't bear him to look at me, so I kept my head down. I didn't want him to see me like this. I ran to the bathroom, so he wouldn't hear me make any crying noises. Tom never moved at all.
I shut the door quickly. With what I could manage, I uttered a silencing spell to the room so he wouldn't hear me. Then the suppressed thoughts of my mother's death overtook me. I was crying horribly, not in a beautiful delicate manner that some girls do. Why did she die? What did I do so wrong that she would rather die than raise me? My father even killed himself because of me. He wasn't ready to take care of a child, my mother had claimed. So he decided to end his life. Was I that horrible, that my own parents would rather face death than love me? And the only person I seemed to love more than my own life wouldn't even admit to his feelings for me. What was wrong with me? What did I do? More and more tears kept streaming down, making my clothes and hands wet. My breath became ragged as well. Then I remembered it was Tom's birthday. Some birthday this was turning out to be.
I tried to calm myself and breath in and out till the tears had subsided. I exited the bathroom with as much grace as I could muster. Wiping tears away from my eyes, I saw Tom had fixed the bed, the dresser, and the chairs. He was cooking more hot cakes by the stove. His face was much calmer than it had been before. He caught my eye and simply stared at me, probably reading my thoughts.
"I-I'm sorry. That was rude of me, my lord. Please, don't punish me."
He was serious when he said, "No. I won't." He went back to cooking. I turned around and decided to make the bed. He was just starting to eat the fresh batch of hot cakes when I came over to the table to put the decorations away. He waved his hand for me to sit down and eat with him instead. As I ate, I realized how hungry I was. By my third cake Tom started to talk.
"I told you that my mother died from childbirth, but I never told you what happened to my father." He paused, and I looked at him in his grey eyes. They were serious. "I killed him."
I immediately looked back at my plate of half a cake. I felt my pulse speed up at this new-found information. But he continued talking.
"I've never told a soul that. But he deserved it, along with his loathsome parents. He was scum of the earth, leaving my mother and me." Then his voice brightened. "But I took care of it. I am Lord Voldemort, the master of death."
Hearing that he murdered his father was a bit of a shock. It made sense though; I really wouldn't expect anything different from Tom, but I was slightly disturbed nonetheless. We continued eating in silence but something began to nag at me. I thought back to how the boggart first saw Tom when he became a corpse. Just now, he described himself as "master of death." Did Tom become a master because Tom his true fear is death?
I was finished eating. The conversation had taken a turn that made me not hungry. But after this morning's somewhat terrifying and emotional ordeal, I felt I was entitled to a few answers. "My lord, if you are master of death, are you saying that you have conquered it? That you won't die?"
Tom almost rolled his eyes at me. "Playing dumb again are we? I've told you this over and over, Lord Voldemort will not die."
"Really?" I looked at him genuinely. Ever since I fell in love with him at Hogwarts I knew he was different from everyone else. But it wasn't his looks or his genius ability. It was his confidence, his seemingly lack of fear. Was he afraid of death? Is that why he was using up his youth to find a way to defeat it? Had he already defeated it? "You've found a way to beat death… truly? Everyone dies though my lord," I whispered.
He had heard and replied more fiercely than he had been, "Not me. Everyone else is too stupid to find a way, but I found it and I won't die."
I caught my breath. Memories of the Chamber were flashing in my mind. I remembered him clutching that small leather book happily screaming that he would live forever. Was that spell, or curse even, upon the book the secret to his immortality?
I blurted out unexpectedly, "My mum told me she wouldn't die… and then she did. How am I supposed to that you alone of have defeated death?"
Though at first he seemed upset, he paused and his face turned calm. He studied me, almost leaning a bit towards me over the table. I could feel him in my mind. I couldn't tell for sure when he casually read my thoughts, I had to assume he always was. However, if he went into my mind in search of memories or whether I was telling the truth I could feel it. The sensation was difficult to describe but the closest thing would be like searching for a name of someone from long ago. You go through memory by memory trying to connect them together to come up with the name of this old acquaintance but it never seems to come to you. That is the closest I could describe what it felt like when Tom searched your mind.
Then he stopped and his face was full of curiosity. He told me in a faraway voice, "You'll believe me like you always have. But…"
He paused and stood up. His chair brushed against the floor and the rain outside was clearing up. Standing above me, he grabbed my right arm so that the Dark Mark was visible to both of us. His face leaned in close to me and there was a smirk on his face.
"You're mother's death isn't what it seems."
My brows furrowed and I became angry. I pulled my arm away, and barked at him. "Why are you saying that? You weren't there!"
He laughed in an unpleasant way. "No that's true. But I can see in here," he said tapping his temple with his wand. "And what I see is not what you remember."
I stood up as well, feeling my chest bursting with emotion. Where was this conversation going? First he tells me that he has conquered death and then that I don't remember the terrible event of my mother's death!
"My lord," I growled through clenched teeth. "What are you trying to incite from me?"
His face went serious and he held his hands up as if he was surrendering. "I swear, I'm not trying to provoke anything. I just thought I'd let you know that those precious
memories of yours are not all as they seem." I wanted to interrupt him with angry words but he continued before I could. "Listen Eva! I don't know exactly what happened with your mother's death, but the story you are telling me is not what I found in your head. I honestly couldn't see anything, just like the memory of your vision. It was blank."
His last words rang through my mind like a nightmare. If my memories of my mother's death was blank how on earth did I remember it? None of this made sense and I felt myself become uneasy with Tom. Could I trust him now? If he was lying about my memories couldn't he be lying about him finding a way to live forever?
"I… I think I need a breath of fresh air," I said as I half-walked, half-ran to the door. Once outside I could see the morning sun breaking through the lifting fog. Everything smelled wonderful as it always does after the rain. But being here in the forest made everything smell, feel, and look so much more beautiful. Thankfully it did ease my nerves and I was able to calm down enough to take deep breaths of the crisp air. The chickens began there unending chatter and Edward the goat kept bleating at me from his shelter. I went over to him and fed him some feed that was outside of his reach. I opened the gate and let him roam free to enjoy the freshly washed grass. Ever since we had taken him in, our meadow had shrunk from our knees to our ankles.
I heard Tom emerge from the doorway but I didn't turn around to look at him. And he obliged by marching away towards the other shack. I shook my head in frustration. Was Lord Voldemort trustworthy? Has he been lying to me this whole time about what his purpose is and what his powers are? No, I told myself firmly. He's proven his knowledge and power numerous times, at Hogwarts and out here in the wild.
Then why on earth was he telling me these strange things all of a sudden. That my own memories were bad? Perhaps he was simply trying to get me off the subject of him being afraid of his own death.
As I was staring off into the ocean, Tom snuck up behind me. I craned my neck to him but I still didn't feel like talking.
"Well," he started out cautiously, "The sun is now up and it doesn't seem like it will rain so let's get started searching the forest. We can come back for lunch as a break."
I stared incredulously. "Truly? We are still going to search this bloody forest for that ruddy diadem
! Why can't we just accio it to come to us?" I yelled the last part without thinking, but in the silence that followed I wondered why I hadn't thought of that idea when we first came to Albania.
Tom crossed his arms on his chest, twirling his wand in one hand. He answered me matter-of-factly, "Because it was cursed, so we have to look for it by hand."
I bit my tongue from being even more disrespectful to him since I could tell I was reaching his capacity. Slowly I asked him, "Then why is this cursed crown so important?" He was going to speak but I began before he could. "Yes, I know
that it will help you live forever – but how my lord? How?" I turned my head away from him and back to look at the calming ocean waves. "I don't know if I can believe you anymore," I whispered as I yet again felt betrayed by my lord.
"Now look here Eva. Why would I lie to you? I know it's a stretch to ask you to use your intelligence, but indulge me for a moment. You suddenly don't trust me because of what I saw (or didn't see) of your mother's death, correct? So if I were lying to you about that, wouldn't I make it less obvious than telling you that your own memories are false?"
He paused wanting me to take in the full impact of his words. I didn't want to agree with him, yet all the same I saw some light in his words.
"I-I just think I need more substance than your words alone."
Tom sounded frustrated as he spoke. "You want me to show you? Do you even understand what it takes to live forever? What I've done? Is that what it's going to take for you to start listening to me and not your own confused thoughts? You are so stupid. Don't you realize that I've already shown you?" My mind automatically went back to the Chamber, and I gasped realizing I had been on the right path. He smiled darkly, "Now you remember. But you are just missing one piece of it. To satisfy your curiosity and to end this ridiculous conversation, I'll tell you. However, once I do, you can never leave me – or I really will kill you."
I turned to look at him in the eye, to measure his sincerity. As I turned he grabbed my arms lightly and pulled me towards him. My heart raced and I tried very hard to suppress my romantic feelings. His face leaned close to mine. His grey eyes bored into mine, and, although I wanted to break his stare, I felt entranced.
He whispered, "It takes an act of pure evil - enough to split my soul. I've already split my soul twice. And I store the torn piece in a safe place. You can try to kill me if you like, when I'm not looking. But you won't be able to. This body may be destroyed but I will have my soul. And I will live eternal."
My stomach caught in my throat. Whatever I thought about him previously had been wiped away by his voice. No longer did I question his validity. I could see through most of his lies, and this was not one of them. "I believe you my lord," I said in an almost inaudible voice.
He grabbed my chin with his right hand and inspected me from head to toe. It was strange having him touch me. Although we slept in the same bed and lived in the same house, he rarely touched my bare skin. "You've grown beyond the timid little third year I helped long ago." I swallowed. This closeness between us was becoming too much for me to handle.
Then, as soon as it began, he backed away from me. His right hand let go of my face but instead snatched my right hand like a handshake. "Now," he started with his wand pointed towards our hands. "I'm making sure you will keep your word to never tell anyone this."
I watched as he mumbled a spell that I was unable to hear. My hand became very hot and my tongue started to feel strangely numb. Our hands were wrapped in a soft yellow light which was slowly crawling up my arm to my neck. I looked at him with frightened eyes wondering if he was going to curse my tongue to never speak again. I trusted him now, couldn't he trust me?
A bright flash erupted across the path the light was spreading. Then the spell had ended and Tom let my hand go. He stared at me composed and commanded, "Now, tell me what I just told you."
I assumed he meant how he was tearing his soul apart for immortality. I started to answer but my tongue was immovable – it wouldn't respond. I frowned at him then tried to yell at him. That did work unfortunately, "How dare you Tom – how dare you!"
Lord Voldemort grabbed my left arm and twisted. I yelped in pain, but still kept my glare. "Don't call me Tom
," he seethed, uttering each word with emphasis. He let go and I rubbed my sore arm.
His face turned into a smile the next moment, and he seemed excited. "What do you think of my new spell? It works well. But you're the first person I've tested it on so keep an eye out for any flaws."
So I was his test subject as well. I sighed, wondering again why I was putting up with all of this. But then he gently took my hand and Apparated the both of us. I wasn't sure if he meant to take my hand or if he reached out and there it was. Regardless, it made me forgive all wrongs. Just to be close to Tom was fulfilling a deep desire in me that I have been trying so hard to suppress. It didn't make sense and I knew it – but it felt so right. I could put up with anything curse, spell, or potion he could give me – as long as he stayed by my side.
Our seaside cottage faded away and the Albanian forest with red ringed tree trunks behind us and virgin ones in front appeared. I couldn't help but sigh as he let go of me. It was time for the diadem search to begin yet again.