June 13, 1948
As I watched poor Macnair staunchly walk up to the altar with his best man at his heels I had to ask myself, why was I here?
I suppose making a few appearances as Lord Voldemort was necessary to gain any followers, but if this is what needed to be done I think I'd best send Eva alone in the future. Then again, she could only do so much. I glanced at her, sitting to my right. She was in rapt attention to the whole ceremony. Although I had a vague idea of what she was thinking, I felt like confirming.
I wish I could be the one wearing the bridal gown
I rolled my eyes. She had been very good lately on not being overwhelmed with her feelings for me. During the first few months of living with her, I wanted to slap her every time I heard her thoughts. But after her outburst with the manticore she finally figured out how our relationship was going to go.
I knew going to a wedding would bring everything out again. Still, I had to tell myself that coming here was a good idea in that I might be able to win a few followers. And I did have the option of not reading Eva's thoughts. But it could be such an amusing pastime.
The music slowly changed into a more haunting melody. It sounded utterly terrible. Carina Rosier, at a snail's pace, walked down the aisle of rose arches. Her dress was nothing out of the ordinary – long sleeved, lace shoulders, heavy veil. The end of the dress seemed to drag on like the whole ceremony. Even the multitude of butterflies had grown tired of flying and simply perched on the chairs and rose arches. My fingers drummed my wand in agitation.
What was the point of weddings? Two people wanting to prove their love? It seemed so foolish. Perhaps it was some sort of societal decree that accepted a man and a woman to have sex. Like that wasn't happening already. No, I had to remember that these people lived through lineages. Marriages were the legal way to create more purebloods. No one ever had the intelligence to become immortal so they had to make sure their name through their children would live on.
Finally, Carina had made it up to the front with her fiancé. She looked better than normal with her brown hair down, framing her face. Her passion with red extended to her lip color, matching the huge bouquet of roses in her hands. With her maids behind her dressed in red as well, it seemed as if a mass murder had taken place before the ceremony. I smiled darkly imaging killing everyone suddenly and what a panic it would cause.
I must have laughed during my day dream because I saw Eva give me a stern look mimicked by her mask. I ignored her.
The old man officiating the wedding began to drone on about how Arthur and Carina are such a perfect couple
. Arthur looked like he was about to lose his lunch. However he cleaned up extremely well. In Hogwarts he always sported what could nearly be called a beard. Today his face was shaven and always terrible hair was finally combed. Carina got to him with the red since his robes of black had a red thread trim.
I looked down at my own dress robes which Eva had fixed up. She put a new trim on them too as well as upgraded the fabric. Part of me wished I had done one of two things when she befouled my meeting with the vampires: wipe her memory and drop her off at Diagon Alley or simply kill her. Yet, in my utmost anger, I could do neither. Since those choices were off the table, what else could I do but ignore her? However, it seemed to turn into a beneficial time – she was able to get much more accomplished around our living space. She even went to search in the forest without me having to ask. I had trained her well.
I heard Eva sniff next to me, already knowing she was crying without looking at her. Were all women this emotional or was I just ill-fated? I briefly looked into her thoughts. Perhaps it was possible to marry for love in a world where it seemed to hide at every corner
She always seemed to err on the side of drama. Is love hiding from her? Am I hiding my love from her somewhere? How could I hide what is not there? I began twirling my wand in frustration – she was an excellent servant but it seemed there was nothing I could do to convince her that I did not love her. I would never love her.
It was a cool afternoon, and the sun was high above and out of my eyes. I searched around the seating area. Eva had sat in a fairly good spot to search the crowd. Wizards and witches from all ages and Houses were in attendance. The wide-brim hats made it somewhat difficult to see who all turned out, but I managed. Thankfully I did not see Dumbledore – since he was the reason I had made these masks. Knowing his affection for poking his nose into my business, I had to be cautious. Ever since that damned yet glorious day he had come to the orphanage to find me, he had been on my heels. I had been so stupid back then, but no longer. Now I took all precautions.
I focused on, a couple of rows to the left and in front of us, Romule Lestrange who had a tearful Norma Selwyn clinging to his shoulder. I suppose Eva wasn't the only female affected by such functions. Presently, Carina and Arthur were saying their vows to one another. I did my best to block out their words since they were sickeningly sweet and unnatural.
The entire back of the left hand side belonged to the Black family. Their pride was almost tangible and I wasn't sure if their noses could reach much farther into the sky. In enough time, they would be the ones groveling on the floor desperate for my approval. However I knew it wouldn't be very soon because they were so wary of associating with me. Even in Hogwarts, Cyngus and Orion barely came to my secret meetings. Alphard was an odd Black in that he didn't give too much concern on whether he ruined the family name or not. He joined me quickly yet I couldn't trust him much more than his relatives.
I would have to put them in my debt somehow. What problem did they need solving? Lack of money was a popular pureblood problem but I could give them money later. As I looked each person over, I found the Black I was looking for: Walburga. Although she wasn't the eldest in her generation (her cousin Lucretia took that from her) she was the most dictatorial. She respected her parents and grandparents, but everyone knew that her word was final. I needed to find some way to be indebted to her, and then I would win the largest pureblood family to my side.
On the right side of the aisle I picked out many of my former comrades: Zilya Dolohov, Pavo Yaxley, Helio and Ardin Travers, Peter Avery, Augustus Rookwood, Apollo Rosier, and Indus Selwyn.
I had found Indus soon after we had arrived. He and his brother were the first people I would need since they always seemed up for risking their lives for a fleeting moment of entertainment.
I noticed Indus talking to Romule when I first passed by. Romule was also a close follower of mine, but he had unfortunately been tangled in with his personal life too much for me to ask him for help this time. I had heard from Eva's letters with Norma that he was currently a Trainee Healer which took up much of his free time. Once he was approved to be a true Healer, he would be extremely helpful – however that time was in the future. Right then, I needed to talk to Indus.
Romule was taken aback by the mask but tried hard not to show it. Indus was much more intrigued than his companion. In as much a commanding voice as I could manage, I asked to talk to Indus alone. Romule, without fight, gave one odd look to Indus and walked away.
"To what do I owe the privilege of speaking to Lord Voldemort?" Indus had asked interestedly. He was abnormally tall, whereas his absent brother Dorado was abnormally short. Despite the fact he looked down on me, his stance was not one of dominance. He was growing a thin beard and mustache, which made him appear older than me though we were in the same year. However, his light brown hair was still cut short.
"I would appreciate your assistance in a few matters. Along with your brother, who is currently where?"
Indus snatched bites of food from some passing hors d'oeuvres and began to eat. "He didn't want to come. I didn't much either, but Macnair begged me. I'm more of a softie than Dorado." He took another bite then continued, "But what can I assist you in Lord Voldemort?"
"I need someone to be my eyes and ears in England while I am away."
Indus appeared interested as I assumed he would be. "And what would I get in return?"
I laughed, trying to come across as cordial. "What wouldn't you get? Lord Voldemort rewards the loyal. You can have power, money, fame, freedom – anything."
He ate another bit of food, considering my words. "I have power and money. I don't need fame, and what are you freeing me from?"
I grinned. He fell right into my trap. Reading his mind, and already knowing his whole life story from Hogwarts, I knew what he and his brother truly desired was being able to fulfill their twisted desires without consequence. It was nothing too terrible, cursing here and there along with a few kills. Right out of Hogwarts I had discovered that they were earning money as assassins, but knowing them it was less for the money than it was for the act itself. "I'm freeing you to do whatever you like – I'm sure the Ministry would frown upon much of what you and your brother do. But under me, do whatever you please as long as you are loyal."
His eyes became dark as he studied me over. He could perhaps figure out I was Tom if he was smart enough, but I wasn't sure. He ate again. "How can I trust you? Who are you really?"
"Let me be the first to put down my guard then. I am Tom Riddle."
Right away his eyes lit up and he smiled, as if his guess was correct. "When you were talking about how you knew what me and Dorado were up to, I thought 'This must be Tom.' And sure enough – here you are in the flesh. Yeah, I'll be your spy. You're the damned smartest wizard I ever met, and I'd be the dumbest if I didn't side with you now. When I tell Dorado what he missed, he'll be awful sore."
The Selwyn brothers were an easy acquisition. Also, it will be good to keep tabs on the purebloods.
Arthur had finally finished his almost ten minute speech. How a man, older than me even, could blubber away in front of hundreds of people promising to give up any passion in his life for some shrew was beyond me. I wanted to rip my ears off when I realized Carina had her own.
"I will love you for the times of laugher and of tears. Never will I part by your side, until Death's untimely hand tears us away," Carina finished. She laughed giddily and wiped unseen tears from her eyes. Although it was absolutely unnecessary, some of the audience, Eva included, clapped softly. Perhaps it was because the bloody show was finally over.
"And now," the ministry attendant began, "I now pronounce you husband," he pointed his wand to Arthur, "and wife," and then to Carina. Blood red and black satin ribbons shot from his wand wrapping the two of them together. Fireworks and the ringing of bells erupted from the ridiculous scene. All the attendees stood up, and I regrettably joined.
The married couple floated in the air for a while, embracing and giving each other their first married kiss. What a waste of time. They could have done this part in the beginning and be done with it. Did they agree to marry because they really felt this life-long love for each other after courting for two years? I've lived with Eva for one year and I definitely do not want to marry her. They were probably forced by their families – this was all a performance.
Strangely, I felt compelled to snatch Eva's arm and Disapparate back to Albania, just to be away from all the people. At least Eva was honest in all that she did – she might drive me crazy at times, but much less so than the rest of my old schoolmates who constantly put on a show. I put on a show as well, but in my mind I knew it wasn't real. They believed their own lies, which made them all the more feeble-minded.
The couple floated down while the ribbons and fireworks faded away. A quiet moment passed over the crowd, then a rush of cheering and clapping erupted throughout the yard. The two gaily leaped down the aisle, butterflies coming at all directions and red roses falling. I glanced down at Eva. Her eyes followed the couple down the aisle, and she clapped just as loudly as the rest of them. I shoved my hands and my wand into my pockets.
As soon as they reached the last row of chairs, the entire yard began to rearrange itself. Our seats evaporated and reappeared around red dressed tables further adorned with red flower arrangements. A higher table for the couple of honor, facing the seating arrangements, ascended near the where the altar previously was in front of the mansion. The couple was pulled away by a photographer, and I was pulled away by Eva who seemed to have one thing on her mind. I am starving, and for once I don't have to cook!
I shook her off right away, considering what it would look like if Lord Voldemort was dragged by his servant. I glared at her, wondering if ever considered her actions - obviously not. Still, I obliged by following her to the tables to sit and await our food courses, as had every other guest. I kept my eye out for Macnair because I wanted to present my gift to them as soon as possible so that I would have the full attention of the audience.
Eva had sat down at the table nearest us, which had unfortunately crowded with wizards and witches far too old for me to influence. There was light music, played by a piano, violin, cello and the like, wafting through the background of the chatter. Our first course was a salmon bisque, which Eva devoured much faster than I would have liked. She acted like starved animal. We had gone through two more courses, an herb salad with raspberry dressing and escargots, until I had finally seen Carina and Arthur sit at their high table.
Below them on either side sat their immediate family. On the right were Carina's parents, the aging Rosiers. Her mother was grey haired but looked as sharp as ever. Her husband had salt-and-pepper hair with an apparent smirk, satisfied in his daughter's marriage. Next sat Carina's younger sister Druella and her husband Cygnus Black. Next to Cygnus was Druella's brother, Apollo, with a recent Hogwarts graduate Meredith Flint, a skinny white girl with long dark redish hair and a hooked nose. On Arthur's side sat his parents, who looked relatively young compared to the Rosiers. The Macnairs had kept their dark black hair, and the father looked like a striking image of Arthur. The only difference was that the elder Macnair had his fair share of wrinkles. Mrs. Macnair had long, black curly hair that balanced her plain square face. Arthur had one younger sister, not even in Hogwarts by the look of her.
"Let's go," I whispered to Eva as I grabbed her elbow to have her rise with me. I could tell other guests wanted to go give their blessing, but I was intent to be the first. Eva was far less interested, especially since the first of our main courses had appeared on our plates. It was beef bourguignon, and the delicious smell had infected the air. I clenched her flesh harder to drive in the urgency while I whispered in her ear, "I don't care if you starve. We are going to give the Macnair's our gift now
She looked at me, crestfallen, but complied, "Yes my lord." I walked as quickly as I could until we arrived in front of their platform. Carina and Arthur were still on their soup course as we arrived. Once they saw our masks, I could see a change in their expression from blissfully happy to on their guard. They said nothing and stared at us. In fact, the whole table stared at us, hardly able to eat. But I was ready – this was my time and the reason why we had come here.
"To the newly wed Mr. and Mrs. Macniar, Lord Voldemort and his humble Death Eater give our blessings and our gift." Eva, catching along quickly, curtsied as I bowed and thankfully kept her mouth shut. I unshrunk the wrapped egg quickly, so that it would appear instantly. Once Carina caught a glimpse of gold, she sat straighter and more forward in her seat. All women loved shiny things, I mused.
As I gently handed the egg to Arthur, I began my speech. "This gift is but a taste of what Lord Voldemort offers to those that are willing to take his side." Arthur was slowly unwrapping the object and becoming more and more amazed as he realized what I had given him. Carina was so fixated on the egg that she could not be bothered to keep her mouth shut. Their thoughts ranged from unbelief to whether it was a true dragon's egg to fear about what my true identity was and whether this was a veiled threat.
"My sources have confirmed that this is a Catalonian Fireball. If you decide to have it evaluated yourself, in which I take no insult, and it turns out to be anything other than I have aforementioned, be sure to track me down and I will provide something of similar value. You see, Lord Voldemort rewards those who follow likeminded fundamentals. Carina Rosier and Arthur Macnair have united a true pureblood marriage. Other wizards or witches who follow down the pureblood path will also have my gratitude and my favor. If I may be so blunt, our society has tolerated Muggles and Muggle-borns for far too long. Our powerful blood is running thin, and only we purebloods have the power to change it. I can help you, and I will help you. All I ask is that I too receive your help in return.
If you don't see the future danger, let me iterate further. Look at how far we have come as a race. And still we have to hide from Muggles? The Ministry sets boundaries on how we, as magic wielders, should practice our inherent right! We have succumbed to a culture where Muggles have become our equal. I refute that idea – what can they do that we cannot? And yet there is so much we can do that they barely dream of! We wizards are a higher race and to stamp us down to be at Muggles' equals is an insult. The degradation of our pride and our blood will only continue further. How many Muggle-born do you know? Quite a few I surmise. They infiltrate our schools and weight down the education of our youth by implementing regression rather than progression! The only way to change this is by a revolution and I am willing to make those steps. I wonder if anyone here today is willing."
The whole party became silent. Even the music had ceased. Not a whisper or clink of silverware was heard - only the wind billowing in the trees. I could hear their thoughts though and they all revolved around me. A good part of them took my words to heart, and that was enough.
"Here, here!" shouted a familiar voice from a table to my right. I glanced quickly and saw that the voice belonged to Indus. A few others from behind and around also gave positive cheers (such as "He's right!" and "Too true!"), while a moderate amount of disagreeing grumbling arose as well. Macnair finally found his voice and stammered.
"Well, then, L-lord Voldemort. We are very – pleased to have gained your favor a-and your most generous gift!"
I could read his thoughts. Who invited this man and how did he get this egg? Whatever the case may be, I need to be on this lord's good side. He makes me feel uneasy to say the least.
At least he had some common sense.
But I was finished with my speech so I bowed again and turned back to my table. Eva followed at my heels and I could feel every eye on me. It was a wonderful feeling – this adoration yet infamy. Everyone was focused on me
, whether they agreed with me or not. I was like their god. All of these wizards and witches could be in my hands and soon most would follow my order until death. If there was something in the world I truly loved, this was it.
When we finally made it back to our seats, hushed conversations sprang up like bubbling fountains. The instruments began awkwardly, as if trying to ignore the whole ordeal. The older guests at our table were uneasy with our presence, even more from before when they believed us to be some strange oddity with masks. All of them made a further effort to ignore us. All of them but one it seemed. A middle-aged man, sitting on my left (with Eva on my right already eating the second course of chicken with vegetables in a cheese sauce) leaned over to me. His blue eyes were intensified by small circular glasses. His black attire made his long blond hair and beard striking.
In not a soft tone he spoke to me, "I heard what you said young man. There are a few ears in this gathering that may not appreciate your words, but I'm not one of them." He leaned back into his seat and ate while he continued. "I can appreciate your effort. For instance, these masks you wear are of fine quality, but I daresay you did it yourself. With that elaborate gift, you gave made all of us, even the elders, pay you recognition. And you speak like a politician on top of it. Your whole guise has had a lot of work put into it."
Then he quietly evaluated his next thoughts on whether to give me his name. But I already knew what it was.
"Do you know who I am son?"
"Brutus Malfoy, as I presume everyone knows."
He had a throaty chuckle. "I suppose they do, they all owe me loans of some sort. But you, Lord Voldemort, are quite unknown to all. That is before today."
He took a deep breath and sat back in his chair, more comfortable with my presence than the other guests. I could tell Eva was starting to pay attention to our conversation. At the same time, I knew Malfoy wanted to continue.
"As you know, I am quite an investor. I see opportunities when they are first blossoming, which is how I have been able to steadily increase my money, unlike other purebloods. Now the problem with investing is that a great reward means a greater risk. You seem like an awfully large risk, being so young. Yet I have a knack for finding diamonds in the rough."
Suddenly, I was incredibly excited. Could the Brutus Malfoy be offering to invest in me after my first appearance? Fate seemed to be on my side today. I hid my emotions, as per usual.
"I am honored by your consideration. However, as I have said, I am simply making known a problem that most wizards shirk from. I have made it my life's goal to correct that wrong and to help people who share my cause. Regardless of whether you see me as an investment, I must know if you share my ideals."
I already knew he did – he was a pureblood fanatic if anyone ever was. I remembered his little brat of a son Abraxas. He was four years below me, and thus was too young to invite to my meetings. Even so, that little prick would constantly remind anyone who mentioned my name around him that I was half-blood. That further cemented in my mind that I would not tell Malfoy who I was until I could fully trust him.
He casually smiled, "Always the politician. I respect that. Yes, I do agree that something must be done about the stagnation and decline of us true wizards."
I had eaten during our conversation, and now the fruit and cheese course was upon us. Wine, grown locally, had instantly appeared and was bewitched into pouring every person a rather full glass. Brutus inspected the red wine in his glass then took a taste. "Ah, very delicious. A fine year this one. Do try some Lord Voldemort."
Although I would have rather not, I felt compelled to obey since he was about to become a big part of my plans. I took a quick sip, and the wine was not intolerable. I glanced at Eva to see whether any crumbs remained on her plate. Surprisingly she had not touched any of the fruit or cheese, but her glass was already half empty. Her head was resting in her palm while she stared lazily out to where her schoolmates were sitting.
I turned back to Malfoy and he indicated with his wine glass to Eva. "She was your – what did you call it – Death Eater? It's a frightful name for a beautiful creature like her." As much as I wanted to frown at him for complimenting Eva in such a cheap way, I contained myself. How could he judge her beauty? She was wearing a mask for Merlin's sake. Eva, already affected by the alcohol, didn't hear which was for the best. Yet Malfoy didn't seem on stopping.
"Miss – yes you. What on earth are you doing with a young man like this who is intent on starting a revolution?"
Eva's attention had been caught. Her eyes darted to mine. She swallowed and thought hard on what would be the correct thing to say. As much as I wanted to spoon-feed her the words I wanted to hear, I had to allow her to think for herself.
"I serve Lord Voldemort because he is the most intelligent wizard there ever was or has been. He has the determination and the brilliance to change the whole world, and he will. I have seen with my own eyes his power." She paused, and I wondered if it had to do with my tongue curse I had put on her. She regained her voice and finished, "There is nothing else I could imagine doing other than standing by his side."
She had spoken well, and I gave her a look of approval, which she cherished.
"So you are in love with him?" Malfoy laughed, too loudly for my taste. I knew Eva would be blushing under her mask, but no one else could see so it didn't matter. Further I could see he was making a joke, but Eva was oblivious to that.
Gratefully, Mr. Macniar had presently stood and began to clink his glass to indicate a toast. He made some lengthy speech but none of what he said mattered. Finally he raised his glass and the rest of us followed. Eva finished her wine, while I only took another sip.
While most of the crowd was attentive to the wedding couple as they gathered themselves to cut the cake, Malfoy leaned over to talk more. "As I said before, I'm willing to make an investment in you. So how much do you need?"
There was a moment where I felt utter clarity in what my future beheld. I could see my followers, my army. Hogwarts would topple, and soon the Ministry would also fall under my power. Then country by country, the whole world began to know and fear Lord Voldemort.
Then I was back in my chair, listening to shrill cheers, scattered clapping, and drunk laughter. I looked Malfoy in the eye. "As of now, I need your confidence. Money is not a commodity I am currently trading in, but it will be of use in the future. Right now, I need to amass a following."
Malfoy nodded understandingly, "Then in the future, I hope that you will contact me regarding any issues that need resolving." With that, he turned to his wife, spoke a few words, and took her away to dance.
The music had gotten livelier and I was ready to leave.
I looked back at Eva. She had finished her fruit and cheese by this time, while I had left my plate untouched. "We are done here. Walk with me and I'll take us home."
She looked at me remorsefully. "Really? I wanted to go and talk with my friends more."
"You did that earlier. Whatever else you want to say, just write it." I stood up, making my point clear. Her mask pouted to copy her facial expression, but she rose as well. I made my way towards a clearing, but not before I saw Eva slip an unopened bottle of wine into her robes.
The sun was getting lower, filling the sky with red and orange hues. Although there was still plenty of light in the sky, there were enchanted lanterns floating above the part. I held out my hand to Eva's, and the moment she grasped it we Disapparated.
I had enchanted our seaside location with many protection spells, including making it Unplottable as well as invisible if seen from above. I also made it so that I was the only one who could Apparate and Disapparate on the grounds. All of which made me wonder how the vampires dropped off that head carcass at my doorstep.
As I pondered, Eva went back into the house. The sky was dimmer and the sun was almost beyond the ocean's horizon. Already I could feel my mind become clearer here. Albania was a good spot for now, but Malfoy's offer teased in my mind. If I had money, I could set up somewhere more useful, in a more strategic place. Once I find Rowena's diadem, I could contact Malfoy to have enough resources to reestablish myself back in England. I will be stronger by that time, with even more Horcruxes. By then, even Dumbledore couldn't dream of stopping me.
I walked inside our home slowly, weighing my future options especially now with Brutus Malfoy and the Selwyn brothers at my side. I peeled my mask off of my face and threw it onto the table. Eva's silver and black mask was lying carefully on the table, while she was crouching in front of the stove to start a fire. During summer we didn't set up a warming charm on the house, yet the nights could be chilly. She had also lit the candles in the house, and warm glows were flickering on the walls.
After I emerged from the bathroom after changing and washing up, the stove was aflame with a pleasant fire and Eva had already opened her stolen bottle of wine. She was in her lilac nightgown and night-robe pouring the red wine into two cups. I supposed with just her and I, I could permit myself to have one drink – as long as I didn't become inebriated. I sat down next to her and took a cup from her. She grinned foolishly at me.
"How much did you drink already?" I had no idea she was such a lightweight.
She stared at me seriously then burst out giggling the next moment. "I–" Her words were broken by her laughter, "No, no, no – guess how much. And no cheating. Don't read my thoughts."
"I saw you drink one glass, are you drunk already?" I began drinking a few sips of wine.
"No! I'm not drunk – honest. I'm just a bit flushed." She laughed again. "Okay, maybe I'm more than flushed. I actually had two glasses, so I'm glad you didn't cheat. God, I've been sober for so long. Why don't we carry alcohol in the house?"
"Exactly for this reason."
She playfully frowned and reached out her hand to push me in jest. Then she pulled back, remembering how I am not fond of physical contact from her. Then her eyes focused away from me and she drank.
Eva smacked her lips and began talking. "Their wedding was absolutely
gorgeous. Carina, and even Arthur, looked beautiful. The music was so romantic, and the food was delicious. This wine is even better. I so wish we could have stayed. I would have loved to dance."
Eva was more drunk than she believed since she continually threw out her arms as she talked, which was not a common sight. I couldn't help but laugh at how ridiculous she looked.
"Why, what's funny? I can dance if I want to!" She almost stood up to give me a demonstration but I held her arm preventing her.
"No, you just look ridiculous. You are most definitely under the influence of alcohol. Just sit down."
She stayed seated on the couch and pulled up her legs into a crossed position. Her nightgown covered her legs. "Well, did you have a good time? Your speech was very nicely done. Did you write it out beforehand or just winged it?" She didn't give me a chance to reply as she quickly continued, "Everyone
was staring at us afterward. I felt so uneasy. Thank Merlin for your masks, otherwise everyone would have seen me turn as red as a beet."
Currently, she looked red as a beet. She was sweating and continually fanning her robe against her to cool down. The alcohol was making me feel rather warm too, so I stood up to turn off the stove. As I was doing so, Eva kept talking. "Did you like the wedding then, my lord? Did things go as planned? Oh thank you for turning off the fire. I'm dreadfully warm. Also, I saw you talking with, what was his name? Murphy? Malone?"
"Malfoy. Brutus Malfoy. You had better remember his name. He plans on investing in me."
"Ooh really?" She became excited. I sat down next to her on the couch again and finished my cup. I crossed my legs and began to twirl my wand while I continued listening to her drunken banter. "Well that is fantastic. Then it truly was good that we went. I'm so glad we went too because I was able to see my friends. It's been a year since we were face to face." Then she gasped. "Did you know? Druella and Cyngus were married so quickly out of Hogwarts because she was pregnant. But then – she lost the baby. How terrible for them. I could see it in her eyes. There was a loss but she simply couldn't talk about it. Losing a child like that must be dreadful."
"Why?" I burst out. "It's not like they even saw it. It hadn't even been born. What was there to miss?"
She took a stiff breath and frowned at me. "Tom, you are so cold."
My neck bristled at the sound of her using that damn Muggle name. But that was what she always called me in her thoughts. It was "Tom this" and "Tom that" and "Oh Tom" and "Why Tom?"
"Why do you insist on calling me Tom?"
"That is your name isn't it?" She replied rather bitterly. A moment later she calmed herself, and answered. "It just came out, I'm sorry. But honestly, I met you as Tom Riddle. Plus it flows so much better than Voldemort."
"'It flows better'? That is a stupid excuse. I don't know if you have figured it out Eva, but I want to wipe Tom Riddle off the earth. Lord Voldemort is who I am now, so you had better get used to only calling me by that name."
She didn't reply. Instead she finished her cup and began to pour herself more wine. I stopped her by taking the bottle. "You will be sick tomorrow morning if you drink any more. And we wasted a whole day today, so we need to be up bright and early to search."
Eva threw her head back in exaggeration and let out a loud sigh. "That bloody diadem." Although she tried to mutter it, her words were clear as day.
"Speaking of bright and early, we should be going to bed." I started to get up, but this time she held my arm. I was more surprised than I should have been. Most likely because I was not sober either. "Please," she said with begging eyes, "just stay up with me for ten more minutes. I'm having a good time with you."
Usually if she did things like this, I would brush her off. Who was she to command me? She was no one. Just a servant. That's what I told myself, but being in this murky state confused my emotions. I clenched my hands in frustration. Why now couldn't I leave her like usual? I suddenly felt myself return down into my seat next to her. Her face beamed at me.
Eva was so happy, it was a bit sickening. "Ten minutes." I looked at my watch to count the minutes. Why I was giving her the time, I didn't know and I didn't want to know.
"Thank you my lord. Again, I'm so happy we went out today. Getting the egg was fun." I grinned back at her remembering Wilkes' face.
"I think by the time we left he needed a new pair of pants."
Eva made a disgusted face but laughed still. "And, I know I've said it enough already, but their wedding was just … gorgeous. It was like a fairy tale. They seemed so in love. Even though Arthur's vows were terribly long, they were sweet and from the heart."
I wasn't able to contain myself like usual. "Honestly? You thought they were truthful? It was a big show Eva. They weren't in love – they just did it for their families' sake. To uphold the pureblood lines," I said rather sarcastically. "You always see love in places where it doesn't exist."
She was flustered for a second. "No, I don't believe you. Did you read their minds or their memories?" I tried to not show my eyes rolling indicating that I had not (because it would have been a waste of time), but the wine was not helping me. "I can see through you now, Lord Voldemort
. You didn't, so you don't know. Believe me, they seemed very in love. Why must you feel like spoiling everything?"
"I'm not spoiling anything. Eva, the world spoiled everything far before you were even born. I'm simply pointing it out."
"No To-my lord. Love is here in the world. Love is real and it's wonderful."
I crossed my arms, ready to argue. "What do you know of love?"
She moved closer to me to prove her point. "My mother loved me, and that was real. She truly cared for me and did her best to raise me and give me a happy childhood."
I cocked my head to the side. She was making this too easy. "Yes, and then she died leaving you alone to fend for yourself. What kind of love was that?"
I had said something probably inappropriate, but she had started the conversation so she knew what she was getting into. Her mouth twisted and I almost saw tears in her eyes. My mind was too foggy to properly read her mind (which was the exact reason why I didn't care to drink). Her hair was still styled and she hadn't washed off the makeup from earlier. In the candlelight, I couldn't deny that she was pleasing to look at. Especially when she was upset.
I kept staring at her as she battled her internal emotions. Her eyes had broken away from me, and she stared into her lap. I felt like I had won the argument until she spoke up. "At least I experienced love once. You cannot argue what love is like because you haven't felt it."
I wasn't upset like she had been when a painful truth was pointed out. She was right. I hadn't known love, but it honestly didn't seem like I was missing much. All love evaporated in the end. I didn't bat and eye and kept my arms crossed.
Then she looked back at me, and her eyes softened. "That wasn't fair of me. I'm sorry." She took a big sigh, then leaned even closer to me, and spoke in a hushed tone. "Let me tell you, love is something beautiful. Maybe it doesn't look that way to everyone and at all times. But in a certain light, there is nothing on this earth that is more beautiful than when you love someone." As she spoke a smile slowly crawled on her face.
"That's how you see love? A fleeting glimpse of beauty? It doesn't sound worth it at all. An honest waste of time and energy if you ask me."
"No, it's not!" Eva leaned back into the couch, and her eyes floated to the ceiling as she continued with her silly smile on her face. "It's like drinking something hot on a chilly day or a cool breeze on a warm afternoon. It's so refreshing and even if it doesn't last very long, the fact that it happened makes your soul happy."
I looked at my watch. I had promised her three more minutes, but already I was done with this conversation. Eva was a good servant, probably the best I could find currently. She was loyal despite all the logical reasons why she shouldn't even be with me. Her cooking had drastically improved in the past year, and she cleaned the house according to my standards. She was also able to acquire livestock and a garden. I knew honestly I was living much more comfortably with her around.
Regardless of all that, she could drive me to unbearable frustration when it came to her infatuation with me. It was not as terrible as it was at Hogwarts or in the first months we lived together. But even now, I could see without even having to read her mind that she was daydreaming of me.
I thought over her words. How could she derive happiness from something that was not real? I did not love her, I had made that clear. Still, she persists with her romance. Regardless of how fleeting this happiness is that she describes, it ends. Loving others is a waste of time because no matter what they will destroy that love. I've seen it enough times to know – I don't want anything to do with it. Neither should Eva, since, in time, it will only break her spirit.
I looked back down at my watch. Three minutes had passed. I stood up, and she gave me a look knowing that we were done. But before I went to the bed, I gave her a serious gaze and told her, "You should find something else that makes you happy, because this love you are talking about will only end in pain."