All the followers had been contacted about how they were going to go about the plans for Halloween. Riddle had meticulously plotted just how to make this serious prank go into motion without anyone getting caught.
So that morning, after breakfast Tom Riddle, Eileen Prince and the rest of the gang and also including many of the other older students were passing the caretaker to get into the carriages.
Riddle waited patiently, as Apollyon Pringle checked his name on the list. Riddle had of course, gotten his guardian Mrs. Cole to sign the permission slip allowing him to visit the village. The poor old matron had been eager to do so, wanting to keep the then thirteen-year-old from hurting the other children as much as she could. Mrs. Cole had only become more terrified of the boy Voldemort as he grew older and thus gladly left him to his own thoughts as much as possible.
The carriages creaked down the road with a gusty wind blowing in from the north. The sky was a pallid, grim blue, not a cloud in the atmosphere. The several dozen or so carriages taking the older students to the village, came to an abrupt halt on the edge of the village.
Orion Black was another member of Riddle’s gang, though less impassioned than the primary followers. His face was currently flushed red. He had looked tense throughout the entire trip from the school. It was obvious to Voldemort that he was aching to say something.
"What is it that you’re just bursting to say, Black?"
Orion’s mouth wobbled stupidly, it was obvious that whatever was on his mind, he was too afraid to say it.
"Just spit it out or I’ll find out through other means. I have my ways, you know."
Eileen looked to Orion’s quaking frame and she nodded in agreement to Riddle’s casual statement. Her emerald scarf trailed in the wind, as she traipsed behind Riddle decked out in muggle attire today: a v-necked cardigan and long skirt with high-heels. She had wanted to wear something different for Halloween. Opposite to what muggles did on Halloween, Eileen considered this the one day of the year to willingly dress like a muggle for the fun of it.
"Well, the noble and most ancient house of Black is pure-blood… I heard from my sister, Walburga how Alphard had –er offended you. All I ask, is that you forigive my cousin and spare him from this."
Orion’s pastel blue eyes looked beseechingly into Riddle’s handsome dark ones.
"My lord, please. You can’t-"
Riddle held up a hand to silence Orion as they passed the last of the ginger-house like cottages, coming to the block of stores.
"Rest assured that I have no desire to target pure-bloods, Orion. What a silly misconception of you to think that. I may even have Alphard initiated in the future. He has, afterall shown spirit in daring to be impertinent towards me."
Orion finally looked convinced, and he breathed a sigh of relief just as Eileen did. They had entered Honeyduke’s Sweet Shoppe. Wafts of the multitudes of treats and candies filled her with comfort. She glimpsed longingly those buying drooble’s best-blowing gum, chocolate frogs and blood-sucking lollipops, and other assorted candies.
Tom Riddle did not even seem to register they were in a candy shoppe. With Orion Black, Eileen Prince, and Mulciber in his wake, he breezed past teenagers milling about the counters, filling bags with the candy they wished to purchase.
The loud chattering of students, and the sheer amount of them clustered around the narrow rowed counters, made it an easy place to slip past unnoticed.
"Do your little part, Orion by getting the candy," whispered Riddle.
"What? You want me to get you candy?," Orion exploded with incredulity.
"To lure the children into the passageway. I’m not the one to eat the sweets. Buy it, steal it, whatever suits your fancy. Just bring it to me." As an afterthought, he sniggered at the idea of asking a follower for such a petty favour as buying candy for Lord Voldemort to consume.
"And you wait here, and back him up if the situation warrants it, Eileen."
Riddle and Mulciber stalked up towards the front counter. Riddle’s wand was only just visible, poking through his robes as he casted a confundus charm nonverbally over the storekeeper.
The aproned, balding man nodded appreciatively towards Riddle. The two slipped slipped into the back storeroom, the storekeeper only bearing an almost comical acceptance.
Using hover charms, Mucliber and Riddle quickly cleared the boxes in the way of the trapdoor. Once free of that barrier, Riddle waved his wand and the conealed door in the floor opened on its hinges. Mulciber and then Riddle stepped into a dark abyss, racing down hundreds of steps.
Mulciber and Riddle did not speak to each other at all, after descending the hundreds of steps, and then into a dark, ravine like valley through the secret passage between Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. But a few minutes later Eileen and Orion came hurtling towards them in the dark, Orion with a large parcel.
They stopped running when they caught up to the two walking. Eileen clutching a stitch at her side.
Mulciber and Riddle came to back to the center of the passage under the one-eyed witch, at the place where Riddle had his secret work-station for his own private experiments.
Macnair was beside Avery on the ledge in front of the ramp that led down from the statue’s hump.
For the next several minutes, they waited continuously casting spells over the trap door. Riddle and the others meanwhile, were busy getting ready the ingredients.
Eileen and Orion Black, returned, each carrying large sacks of candy.
"Homenum revelio!," tried Macnair. A human presence, directly above the statue was detected.
‘They’re here…I think," said Macnair.
Riddle said, "Go and greet them…Give them the candy to show for it, just as it was promised."
Orion threw up his sack of candy towards the ledge and Avery caught it smartly.
They opened up the trap door, and climbed up the ladder.
"Dissendium," muttered Avery. And then the back of the witch was opened. Two small, peaky faces peered into it, curiously.
"Come on…We have the Halloween candy to share with you," said Walden Macnair, in a very convincing voice.
In filed, one by one a bunch of first year students. Gryffindor, Michael Adder’s innocent care-free smile, followed by a braided little girl, Mary Yardley, a Slytherin. Then the straw-coloured hair of Timothy Johnson, a Hufflepuff. And finally, the slightly suspicious look of Ciceron Harkiss a Ravenclaw. Although each was from a different house, what each of them had in common was that they were Muggle-borns.
"Help yourself, eat as much as the Honeydukes candy you want," said Riddle.
The First years assented, and with giddiness tore at the bags of candy, gobbling down the sweets. They seemed exuberant and oblivious to the other activity going on around them. Instead of watching what the Dark Order was doing, they chattered away, only giving half glances at the followers.
Riddle, Rookwood and Eileen and Rabastan Lestrange were chopping roots on several cutting boards with the flat side of their daggers.
Then the other followers gathered around, watching as they dumped the sopophorous beans into the lit cauldrons, full of boiling water.
Next, the four in charge of brewing the Draught of the Living Dead, stirred the contents of the potions meticulously, while simultaneously adding more ingredients. Within a few minutes, a bluish steam was engulfing the candle-lit cavern.
"Lestrange, hurry up and do it right or don’t do it at all," murmured Rookwood nervously under his breath, as he saw his partner was working slowly and Riddle was finished.
"In order for the experiment to work, we’re going to leave it in the half-way stage marker….We don’t wish to permanently incapacitate," whispered Riddle.
Mary Yardley was giggling loudly, pointing her index finger at Michael Adders, whose mouth was smoking from one of the candies he was chewing.
And then another minute passed, and all four of the potions was at the halfway stage, simmering inside four silver cauldrons, each a smooth currant black mixture.
Riddle went over to another area of his workstation and got out several bottles. Next, Eileen, Riddle and Rookwood, and Rabastan Lestrange, poured each potion into the bottles.
"So, kiddos," said Mulciber with an attempt at geniality. "Do you feel a tummy ache coming on?"
Mary Yardley and Ciceron Harkiss smirked a little, but the Hufflepuff, Timothy Johnson was more trusting. Timothy smiled and said, "Maybe, in a little while. I could get a stomach ache, eating all this candy."
"Well, we have a potion here to counteract stomach ailments," said Riddle with definitive simplicity, like he was some kind of healer at St. Mungo’s.
"How come YOUR not taking the potion?," demanded Ciceron, his brows scrunching up apprehensively.
"Did you see us eating the Honeydukes sweets?," bellowed Jugson, a bit too condescendingly. And Jugson lunged at the small, skinny frame of Ciceron Harkiss, who cowered back against the wall at this threat.
"I am very full," commented Mary Yardley, stiffly, hands on her stomach. "Give it to me," she finished.
Riddle’s face contorted into some form of an ugly secret smile and he gave the bottle of the potion at the half-way stage of the Draught of the Living Dead.
"Thanks," Mary said to Tom, and she drank from it hungrily, like a baby to a bottle. The followers threw the other bottles into the First years’ hands, demanding and bullying them to drink.
Within minutes, the First Years were lolling on the ground, drowsiness setting in. The blue steam engulfing the cavern was subsiding, and the First Years were all lying out on the earthen mounded floor.
"Ah, the half-way stage…Artificial death…One day I will have a real army and one of my legions will be of the dead. I shall amass an army of Inferi just like Gellert Grindelwald!" said Riddle sounding enthused.
Without instruction from Riddle, the husky form of Mulciber strode forward and quipped at one of the children inert on the dirt ground of the cavern, "Imperio!"
A look like that of a blank slate came across the Gryffindor, Michael Adders.
Riddle hissed, his face ablaze with excitement, nostrils flaring, "Imperiuse our subjects….Force them to pretend they’re dead!"
"Come on, Prince," nudged Mulciber rudely. Eileen looked to her right where Mulciber still had his wand raised at Adders, a look of cruel humor on the future Death Eater’s face.
"Er…I don’t know if I should," said Eileen indecisively.
She watched Riddle go for the one and only girl who had been taken, Mary Yardley, the Slytherin Mudblood. Riddle did not even speak but suddenly the girl looked as lifeless as a porcelain doll with two braids. She was so Imperiused and sedated, that she looked like she belonged in her coffin already. Anybody would have thought them all dead.
Riddle smiled and said "Crucio!," as he watched the effect of the torture curse on an unaware being with fascination. Mary Yardley just curled up into a ball, wriggling. She did not have the ability to scream.
"Come on, Eileen...Pick a victim to play with," he added with amusement .
The other followers came around, standing to observe in a circle. They looked at Mucliber, Eileen, and Riddle in the center, with the four immobilized eleven to twelve year olds.
Eileen smiled widely at Tom, but he wasn’t looking at her. He was still watching Mary Yardley’s reaction to the potion and the curse’s combined effect.
Still smiling, she said with blind obedience, "Yes, Tom."
She waved her wand at Timothy Johnson, the blonde-haired Hufflepuff boy. "Imperio! Imperio!," she yelled. She felt a tingling sensation in her brain, as she concentrated on ordering the boy to believe he was dead. And then she felt the thought stem from her brain, to a vein in her arm, and into her hand. Once the sensation got to her wand, she knew she had succeeded. She felt exhilarated. It was a high controlling someone else.
Soon, the twelve disciples of the Dark Lord had Imperiused the other two victims, and they spent several minutes Crucioing them out of pure pleasure. Augustus Rookwood, Mulciber, Walden Macnair, Avery, Rabastan Lestrange, Orion Black, Isaac Nott, Rosier, Rodolphus Lestrange, Avaron Jugson, and Antonin Dolohov and Eileen Prince.
The young Voldemort rose from where he had been Crucioing and levitating Ciceron Harkiss at the same time, and then he dropped him carelessly back into the dirt, the boy’s robes sinking into the dank shadows.
Riddle surmised, "This magic when fully incorporated, makes it impossible to recognize the bodies of our victims. We shall keep this in mind for the future, or I shall. It appears the first leg of the operation is successful…Now-"
And everyone looked at Riddle, expressions rapt.
But Voldemort seemed to have forgotten about everything for a moment. He was looking around the cavern, his dark eyes glinting, lost in thought. He was thinking about the cave he’d explored as a ten year-old. It would be a good place to store his future Inferi Army.
"Now – You know the routine," he said plaintively. "Remove your last spell performed with an acceptable one and we leave the hostages to go to the feast."
They all raised their wands and performed a simple spell to erase their prior Unforgiveables just performed. Then they filed up the ladder, Riddle going last a minute later. He did not even glance at the four unconscious children, now held in captivity under the statue of the one-eyed witch.
A little while later, four boys of the secret Dark Order were passing the Great Hall. Avery went to one side to stand guard, and Jugson the other.
Meanwhile, Orion Black and Rosier were in front of the closed doors of the deserted Great Hall. Each of them took a deep nervous breath and then braced themselves to do exactly what their gang leader instructed. In whirls out of their pockets came little vials of blood. It was some of their own blood stored from their initiation ceremonies.
They dumped it on each of the double doors, and with their wands the trickling drops appeared before the huge doors, formed into little streamers, until words appeared in blood. The enchanted words along the passage in front of the Great Hall read, "The Mudblood Brats Are Alive…But in Pain."
Once Rosier had finished writing it, his wand like a quill, he clapped his hands jubiantly.
Jugson almost yelled, "Sluggy! Slughorns coming!"
But it was too late, Slughorn had already turned the corner and was mere feet away from Jugson, and only several yards away from the other boys. He had not heard Jugson’s hoarse whisper of a warning.
"Jugson, Avery….What are you up to my boys?" he said grandly, clearly in a good mood in anticipation of the Halloween celebration.
Quick on the uptake, Rosier said dryly, "Nothing at all, sir. We only wondered why that message-"
But Rosier stopped short as Slughorn exclaimed in a boom: "Merlin’s Beard! What has happened?!…’The Mudblood Brats Are Alive But In Pain’? Are Mudbloods, excuse me… students gone missing?"
"We don’t know what happened either," said Rosier slowly and acting convincing enough for his capability at deception.
Slughorn turned to Rosier and said with an edge, "I can see you may have something to do with this. Furthermore, I am a fairly good Legilimens, don’t you lie to me, Rosier! Come on boys, we’re getting the headmaster."
"Why must we come with you? We only came down for the feast," said Orion in a small whiny voice. He was clearly afraid to have Professor Dippet involved.
Slughorn rattled on, trying to take calming breaths. "Because - for the moment you are - suspects…That threat whether empty or real is a serious crime!"
The four boys reluctantly went alongside Slughorn’s rotund frame, passing the giant boar statue and going up the main staircase. There was a noisy disturbance down below, the chattering of hundreds of students filing in from their Hogsmeade visit, and making their way into the Great Hall for the feast.
Jugson was surprised to see Riddle in the front of the crowd. Riddle had used his disillushionment charm, and then appeared amongst the group, making it look like he had stepped out of the carriages. He had nothing to fear, thought Jugson a little resentfully.
"We’re going to miss the food! I’m hungry," complained Jugson with a peevish glowering look at his teacher. "Can’t this wait until later, sir?"
"No. I’m hungry as well!" yelled Slughorn, an actual rumble emitting from his stomach. "But we can’t just sit around when students are in danger!"
Rosier and Avery nodded sympathetically to Slughorn, trying to feign concern for the thought of missing students.
Orion Black, Avery, Rosier and Jugson were with Professor Slughorn who was knocking on Professor’s Dippet’s door. Nobody answered and Slughorn was reduced to banging on it, until he finally concluded that the headmaster must not be present.
"Let’s go, boys. But I assure this is not over," said Slughorn irritably.
But at once the door opened and Armando Dippet with his balding tufy gray hair, small black eyes and wearing a crinkling smile was standing in the doorway. He apologized, "Horace, I am sorry. I was just getting dressed for the feast. Shall we go, then?"
"No. I’m afraid there are more pressing issues at hand. That must be dealt with immediately, professor," said Slughorn, as urgently as he could, sounding long-winded as he was still out of breath from their rush to the Seventh-floor corridor.
The smile slowly faded from Dippet’s face and he asked delicately, "What is it?"
"I think we should go inside. Perhaps you should…sit down first, headmaster," said Slughorn respective yet awkward. Slughorn thought the man rather old and feeble and figured that it would be safe for him to be seated at extolling such grave news.
Dippet nodded, and finally shot a long look at the three boys, wondering what they had to do with this. But he turned around and swept into his office, the others scurrying around.
Dippet eased himself into the throne-like chair, and folded his hands over his desk. "Now tell me, Horace…What terrible news can there be?"
"Well….Some students have clearly gone missing. I found threatening messages on the walls. To put it exactly it said in blood, mind you ‘The Mudblood brats are alive but in pain.’"
Dippet sighed and closed his eyes, clearly nettled. "But of course, this wouldn’t be the first time something like this has happened throughout the years. The recent years. The problem is we’re never able to catch whose doing it!" said Dippet. Dippet continued, "Professor Slughorn, did you see who smeared this awful message?"
"No…But I did find these four near the scene," and he indicated Orion, Jugson, Rosier, and Avery who were either sitting at the other seats in front of the desk or standing behind the others.
Dippet turned to the four boys and looked each one square in the eye one by one. A vein was actually pulsing on his forehead. It was rare to see Dippet so angry. He asked the boys rhetorically, "Did YOU see who smeared the message?"
At once they all shook their heads enthusiastically. But Dippet did not look convinced and neither did Slughorn look the least bit convinced. "Boys…if I do recall…You – er…Mr. Avery and Mr. Jugson were in here a couple of years before for another similar crime. Of course, then none of the information we had could satisfactorily link the acts to either of you. Yet I find you here again being accused of a similar offence. A serious offence!"
Avery and Jugson glanced at each other quickly, and finally Jugson took the initiative, "But, sir – I assure you then and as regarding now, we have nothing to do with any of this!"
"Perhaps you did not…," said Dippet, suddenly more casually, and like he was letting them off. "Consider this, Horace…Last year we were taunted by messages against Muggle-borns of a like kind - also written in blood. In fact, several students of that birth were attacked. There are similarities with that crime and this one. Furthermore, it appears the Chamber of Secrets might actually exist; yet I seriously doubt any of these boys could be the Heir of Slytherin. I do hope this won’t be a repeat of last year!" And Dippet’s entire face sagged into practically one big wrinkle of apprehensions.
Avery and Rosier couldn’t help but expel a nervous laugh at this being implied, because of course, they heard a rumor regarding the fascinating tidbit of information in the cult that their gang leader was the Heir. Yet, they did not know this for sure, only suspected.
"Yes?" said Dippet dryly. "What could possibly be funny about this?"
Rosier added quickly, "We were just laughing at how improbable it would be at the idea we're Slytherin's heirs!"
Dippet did not smile, as he did not find even that funny and he detected intuitively the feeling these boys did not dislike Salazar Slytherin like he did. "Given that we have no evidence and the boys deny their involvement…I feel that I should let them off-"
"Hold on a minute Armando!" broke in a rattled Slughorn. "I think I should at least perform a bit of Legilimency on the boys…"
"Yes, I suppose that would be better-"
"And surely when Dumbledore hears of this, he will want to use his Legilimency powers too…He is, afterall far greater than me, probably the greatest Legilimens of his time!"
"You are right, Horace…But I also think we should be securing the school at the moment, …I am afraid we shall have to deal with these boys later."
Orion, Rosier, Jugson and Avery had a hopeful look in their eyes. The sooner they left the headmaster’s study the better they thought. Dippet rose from his seat, "….Yes. I think it is best," he said more to himself. "Come on, boys…I am taking you to separate rooms…. Where we shall have to question you further later."
Orion Black actually paled. Jugson said, blanching as well, "But sir- the feast. We’ll miss the feast."
"I would swear to the ministry that I’m innocent," chimed in Avery with the nerve to have true conviction.
"Unfortunately, the ministry cannot get involved with this. At least not at this very moment. Let’s go. Now." The real reason Dippet had said this was for his own selfish fears. Alerting the ministry could seriously jeopordize his own academic career as headmaster, especially since the chamber incident had been a mere few months ago!
Dippet beckoned for the boys to walk ahead of him and they had no choice but to obediently follow.
Slughorn caught up to Dippet’s side, looking anxious. He asked, "But Headmaster…I’m not so sure the feast should still be on…"
"No. It may. The feast remains. It shall work as a convenient way for the staff to discover if there are truly missing students. As I assume all will attend and any that do not, we shall find out why. I certainly hope not…but I am afraid that students have been taken. Horace? Could you not hurry and tell the rest of the staff to start searching the rest of the school?…And after I confine these four to separate classrooms, I shall be heading down to supervise the feast."
"Yes, sir. Right away," said Slughorn hastily, as he went in one direction down the corridor and Dippet and Riddle’s followers another.
Dippet turned around suddenly and said with dislike emanating from his voice, "Oh…and tell me where that Rubeus Hagrid was…Perhaps the horrid boy had something to do with this…"
"I will," said Slughorn, who was gone, running down the steps, hurrying as fast as he could to alert everyone as soon as possible. They should all be making their way to the Great Hall…Meanwhile; Dippet locked up each boy in a separate classroom to be questioned more fully later this evening.
A little while later, Dippet entered the busy Great Hall, full of expectant students waiting for the feast. He was the only teacher present, all the others were busy doing everything they could to get to the bottom of the emergency. The school slowly started to buzz with talk of the surprise that only one teacher had entered, usually they all came in for meals together. And the caretaker, Apollyon Pringle had managed to scrub off without magic the awful message written on the front doors of the Great Hall, but that unfortunately did not occur until every student had went through and seen the words. The room was festive, candles below the star gleaming ceiling and pumpkins strung up and hundreds of live bats. Yet the ghosts were not there, as they were doing all they could to help as well.
Immediately, as Dippet came through a side entrance he was up on the staff table and he went to his special place in the center.
"Before we begin the All Hallows’ Eve feast…I have a very important announcement…Please quiet down now and listen. I promise afterwards, we shall begin."
Within a few short seconds, the hundreds of voices died down, and a full silence descended upon the hall.
"Thank-you…It appears that several students are missing…I know not who they are, but I assume they could be anyone not attending the feast. The rest of the staff is currently scouring the school. If anyone knows anything, anything about who is missing or who is responsible I must know. If you are responsible-," Dippet paused with terrible suspense. "I ask now that you be so brave and come forward. I can promise you that if you speak up, AND if those that are not here are NOT seriously harmed…I shall not have anyone in trouble with the school and certainly not the ministry. But only if this is merely a school prank…"
He waited. Nobody spoke. Dippet’s eyes scanned the room and he noticed an unusually large gap in the very front benches where the First Years sit. Several of them were conspicuously absent. Tom Riddle looked completely unfazed. Of course, he wasn’t going to turn himself in and his followers who were present were certainly not going to either.
Dippet bit his lip, looking disappointed. "Clearly this is a serious malicious attack, then…." Resigned, to the fact that nobody would divulge, and of course, the ever-pressing fear in the back of his mind that it was an outsider not from Hogwarts, Dippet motioned with a clap of his hands. The food appeared on everyone's plates and everybody eagerly started the feast.
Half-way through most of the teachers returned. Dumbledore approached Dippet and said, "Our caretaker, Mr. Pringle is still doing the dungeons. Other than that, it appears we cannot find anyone to be in danger…."
Dippet put down his knife and fork on the plate. He had eaten hardly anything; much too worried there would be another death at the school. If another little girl or boy like Myrtle died, he would probably have to resign as headmaster given the pressure powerful Wizarding families and the ministry would put on him. It certainly did not give him an appetite.
"Right…I suppose you could question the students at the tables, personally, Professor Dumbledore. Save me the bother. I already asked the school if they knew and nothing came of it!"
"Yes, I will do that, professor," said Dumbledore lightly and he strode away, first towards the Gryffindors’ table.
A little while later, Professor Dumbledore was fast coming to the conclusion that the missing students had to all be First-years. Each First-year he questioned did not know where there friends had gone, and Dumbledore being a Legilimens saw they were completely truthful. Furthermore, he discovered that every one of the missing First Years, was indeed Muggle-born. At the Slytherin table, he briefly questioned, the little first year with black curly hair named Alphard Black. Dumbledore saw that he was also content and simply enjoying the feast, without a care in the world.
Finally, Dumbledore scanned the back of the Slytherins' table. He found Tom Riddle seated amongst his "friends" as usual, looking positively content as well, actually eating a large piece of pumpkin pie whilst slowly munching on jelly slugs. The only food offered at this feast is candy and he was hungry.
Not a few seconds later, the handsome boy caught Dumbledore’s sharp glance. Dumbledore could not believe his eyes what happened next. The boy – who he was sure had a hand in this – In fact, most surely was the mastermind behind this, Riddle had the nerve to actually smile widely straight at him. It was a wicked smile, almost a satisfied smile of pure evil.
Dumbledore moved up the table and hovered beside Riddle, commenting in a low voice, "I wonder what part you played in this, Tom."
Riddle frowned and any exuberant mood he had been portraying before disappeared. He knew he couldn’t play Dumbledore. He had long since known there was no way to charm or really manipulate this man.
Riddle looked up, straight at Dumbledore’s clear eyes and said firmly, "Nothing, Professor Dumbledore. Please leave me to enjoy the feast. I shall…have your Transfiguration assignment in tomorrow. Good night."
"I know you will, Riddle. But what concerns me is where you were today...." And for a moment Dumbledore forgot he was talking to a young man without a conscience, "We need to find out what happened and locate the missing children. Get justice for them."
Riddle could see his followers and other associates watching and listening now. So he said politely, "I know nothing, Professor Dumbledore. I visited Hogsmeade today and arrived with everyone else just as the feast started, and that message was already up on the door. You can ask my friends, they’ll tell you the same!"
Dumbledore gave Riddle one final look of disgust and said, "Yes, I’m sure you’ve covered yourself completely, Tom." And finally, Dumbledore was out of his way, and Riddle went back to enjoying the feast with everyone else.
It was not until nearly midnight, several hours after the feast that Riddle and his gang returned to the statue of the one-eyed witch. Voldemort had had a good night, for it had given him immense pleasure knowing the fear he created and the fact that his victims were suffering while he was having a ball. Or at least safe and fairly content with himself.
Now, not a single student was out and most of the staff had either retired from the exhausting process of securing the school, or were, as Riddle had recently learned, interrogating four of his followers.
But his other followers were present including Eileen. So in small groups, Rookwood, Mulciber, Macnair, the two Lestrange brothers, and finally, Dolohov with Eileen and Riddle at the end managed to safely sneak into the apparatus and slide down the tiny ramp and get back into the cavern.
The children were all there, sleeping like babies. It was like not a thing was wrong with them, but this just made the situation more horrid. Some of the followers went to turn on the candle fixtures on the walls.
Rookwood watched his master expectantly, as Voldemort knelt down to take a look at the First years well being or lack thereof. Clearly, they were alive, as Voldemort rapidly checked each of their pulses.
Smiling Riddle patted Michael Adder’s arm with the queerest gesture, but certainly not true affection. "Thank-you. You’ve done well," he said to the unconscious boy, but it was as if he was only speaking to an object.
Riddle continued to have a small smile playing on his lips. It appeared his thoughts were elsewhere, as they must definitely were. Imagining corpses and his future army of Inferi.
Rookwood broke the silence, saying with a hopeful air, "My Lord – are we going to leave them in here longer? I do think we could study our subjects more."
Riddle at once came out of the reverie and shook his head, "No," he breathed in a carefree way.
He stood up and addressed them all, "Tonight was a magnificent night, my friends. We have succeeded in an operation of a magnitude, a presence of mind and a talent I thought could never be given from some of you…Over the coming months of the near future, we shall be planning another attack…however this one will be at another Wizarding institution. Not here at Hogwarts!…."
Tom paused. All eight of his followers standing around the four unconscious children drew in their breath with anticipation. Nobody knew exactly what these plans were and they yearned for the knowledge. "Once again, your master commends you for your efforts. It appears my experiment was a success… A shining achievement of my own!"
The followers began to clap slowly, until it grew louder and louder. Riddle seemed willing to allow this, and all the while Eileen was staring around in fascination at Riddle and the power he held with people, his people and....her people!
The clapping grew to a crescendo and the cheering grew wilder so that it was something like Riddle was the hero of a Quidditch Match. Voldemort did not know what to do with himself for a moment, feeling more like a hero than a villain. Until he realized what he knew would be perfectly convenient to depict. He was venturing subtly over to Eileen. She did not see him.
But suddenly Tom had picked her up by the waist, her heels a few inches from the floor, and he twirled her as he held her narrow shoulders. Voldemort kissed with a passion, a powerful sensual zest that was unusual for him to do with anyone at all. He slowed down, stopping the twirling of her frame and kissed some more. All the followers were watching as Riddle put his hands gently to Eileen’s face as if he loved her, and looked in her brown eyes with sparks of light and he kissed the girl again. This was just as he wanted it. If all the followers thought, even if only for a little while that Eileen Prince was his girlfriend, it helped create for him a normal image. Yet an illusion he did not want to see anywhere further than inside the Dark Order.
Finally he finished kissing her, and Eileen stared down at the bodies of the victims, as she clung to Tom's shirt lapel with her fists. She was suffused with admiration more than compassion for the First years. Something horrible inside her made her say, "Congratulations, My Lord. I am so glad I offered my services to this!" And in a way she meant it, she felt like a partner in his crimes and she was enjoying the honor of it. She embraced him lightly, and he held her, cold hands grazing her back, and sending a shiver down Eileen's spine, feeling a powerful something for Riddle. A hint of something more that she wanted from him.
Riddle smiled and laughed high and cold, filling the baneful atmosphere with the sound of his presence. She took it as true warmth and she smiled too, filled with a blind admiration for him once more. Yet she really was as blind as a bat this Halloween night. Years later, many years later, she would remember his kisses and then she would realize what they really meant. Tom may be a superb snogger, but his kisses were truly like the kiss of death. And now in the current time, her connections with Riddle were finally starting to become truly hazardous. She had no idea what was in store for her in the future, but years later she would ruminate and mourn her actions of this night.
Finally Riddle had his wand out as the followers cheers' subsided and the room morphed back into it's perpetual gloom. He knelt on the earthen floor. Ennervating the children after observing that the effects of the Draught of the Living Dead had staved off.
"Master – do you wish me to help you?" asked Rodolphus.
"No. I shall work alone at this. We must be sure this is done right before we release them."
So nobody spoke as Riddle next lifted off the Imperius Curses one by one. But before each child could react to awakening from a slumber like being in an early grave, their freedom was at once snatched away. Riddle modified each one’s memories and then confunded them as he ordered with the aid of the charm, concentrating hard, "You will not remember this place. You will not remember the place you leave tonight and you will not recall who is present now."
After a moment each child was awake. They wobbled on shaky legs, some of them pale and sickly in complexion, eyelashes fluttering with drowsiness. Clearly, all was not well with them. Riddle not seem to care too much.
Riddle prodded them gently with his wand and marched them to the chute. He bent down and said in a low tone, but it carried clearly, "Off you go to the hospital wing then." For Riddle wanted it to be discovered, the full horror of what was done to them to finally be revealed.
Riddle and Macnair with Eileen helped some of the children climb the ladder and then the precautions to make sure nobody was waiting outside the statue. Finally the hump opened from the inside. Down below the rest of the followers chortled as the children left, "Happy Halloween!"
The children heard it but they could not register what it meant. They did not even remember today’s date right now.
That evening along the same time Riddle returned to the cavern and up to the point he released the captives, four servants remained under fire.
Rosier was the first to be interrogated and it was at that point Dippet discovered there was virtually no evidence that the boys had done anything at all. Meanwhile, the three other boys remained in separate rooms awaiting the teachers' questions.
Dippet came into the room with Dumbledore alongside. "Mr. Rosier…Professor Dumbledore is going to question you."
Rosier nodded and looked calculatingly at Dumbledore. Rosier was well aware the professor would use Legilimency.
Dumbledore appraised Rosier with a knowing gleam in his blue eyes. "Relax," he said, being a bit manipulative, he smiled at the boy. "The faster we find out what happened, the sooner you may leave."
Rosier just shrugged at this; he wasn’t going to lead them to the truth. He knew his master planned his escape out somehow, yet he hadn't been informed on the details. Riddle expected nothing less but blind trust and obedience.
Dippet sat beside Dumbledore, across from Rosier. He seemed a bit more composed than he had earlier. Dippet patted his thigh, as if placating himself and asked frankly, "Are you sure you and the others weren’t propagating that message on the door?"
"Yes, sir," he earnestly answered.
And Rosier was quick to add, "We told you our alibi before. It remains the same. We were all at Hogsmeade."
Dippet looked like he could be persuaded. He stared at him for an inexorable moment. Finally the headmaster looked to Dumbledore, "Do you think this boy and possibly the others are being truthful? If they do recount the same stories?"
"I don’t know," said Dumbledore softly. His blue eyes stared contemplatively into Rosier’s. Dumbledore’s expression became almost befuddled. Rosier felt very uncomfortable, his breathing was unstable and he fidgeted. He was thinking of his vows and if he broke any command of them he would surely die. Dumbledore did see the vows in his mind but there was no way he could ascertain who was linked to them.
"Guilty conscience, eh?"
Orion jumped. Someone new had arrived in the classroom. Hogwarts caretaker, Apollyon Pringle, and currently, he was holding a long piece of parchment in one hand.
Everyone turned around to see the new arrival, Dumbledore frowning at Pringle. Dippet spoke to the boy first. "Mr. Rosier you should be capable of a more relaxed stance if you’re as innocent as you claim. I agree with my caretaker!"
Rosier’s mouth wobbled, struggling to offer an explanation.
Dippet continued, "Professor, did you see anything of consequence?"
"I’m afraid not. While it appears true that they were at the scene of the crime, I also see all four of them at Hogsmeade. There is no indication any one of them sprawled that message! And nor is there anything to lead me to the conclusion they're holding students hostage."
Dippet nodded and looked to Pringle. "Well? Were they at Hogsmeade?"
"I believe so, headmaster," said the caretaker. "I wrote their names right here this morning. And nobody makes that list and nobody goes to Hogsmeade without my permission!"
Pringle almost rudely shoved the parchment under Dippet’s nose, where he appraised all four names.
"There is a possibility….. My main theory is the boys have access to a passage we haven’t heard of. Perhaps that would explain their visit to Hogsmeade and their return to the school," speculated Dumbledore. He looked to Dippet as he said this and then turned back to Rosier.
Dumbledore’s clear blue gaze followed Rosier to do Legilimency on him again. But Dippet laughed, as if the prior conjecture that they had discovered a secret passage was comical, almost stupid. "Why Professor Dumbledore! This is an ancient school. Not even the greatest minds of the ages could tap all Hogwart’s secrets in a lifetime!…Do you honestly think an unqualified witch or wizard could do so in such a brief time? The school has had a thousand years to store it's secrets. A student could hardly discover them within the brevity of the few years they attend."
Dumbledore had already finished his Legilimency by now. On topics such as the possibility of a secret passage there appeared to be an impregnable wall set up. There was no way he could get to this information. In the follower's mind, regarding the question of a secret passage, he saw nothing but a black void. And this was because Riddle had planted false memories in each of the emissaries minds'. Doing so, he had also removed the real ones. And Dumbledore knew the wall must have been created by a powerful wizard and perhaps the barrier existed through an Unbreakable vow.
"These boys are under the control of Dark magic, headmaster," said Dumbledore very seriously.
"Is this true of you or any of your…friends?" said Dippet testily.
Ardently Rosier answered at once, "Absolutely not!" Dumbledore sighed. There was no way of proving that either because Dumbledore couldn’t show them or anyone else the void he was seeing in Rosier’s mind. And besides, it wasn’t viewed as evidence in wizard court.
Dippet looked absolutely spellbound. "Then why….Is there any way you can prove this Dumbledore?!"
Dumbledore shook his head. "Armando there is nothing you or I can do to prove it. I only suspect it's preventing the truth from coming out.…But I am sure my speculations are accurate. Dark Magic was performed in the past and with Mr. Rosier's consent."
Dippet’s beady eyes looked to the ceiling inanely.
Pringle stalled impetuously. "But you can be sure they were supposed to be in Hogsmeade! They left the village without permission! I suggest I bring them to the dungeons for a whipping."
Dippet spoke up; "Mr. Pringle you’ve done your part…Any discipline will be imposed on my order alone, and only for the right reasons. Merely leaving Hogsmeade prematurely is not an issue. As long as a student has a signed permission form and was checked off on a visiting day, the act of coming or going is irrelevant. They may leave at their own liberty…whenever."
Pringle's footsteps were loud when he walked out the classroom just then.
Rosier looked a bit more at ease than he’d had a minute ago. Instinctively he looked at Dippet, avoiding Dumbledore. He muttered, "I only went back because I was eager for the feast…It was a mistake…I regret it, for I wouldn’t be getting accused right now if I hadn’t left…"
Dippet nodded. "Perhaps. But you cannot be exonerated for Dumbledore’s summation; You have been associating with Dark magic. Perhaps practicing it yourself…Furthrmore, you attempted to conceal this from me."
Rosier looked like he would like to disagree, but then he realized that would be denying something Dippet was taking as fact and would thus get him in more trouble. Dippet actually shook. He was afraid of the thought of Dark Magic.
"I cannot tolerate this at my school. If you were involved in today’s awful scheme it would make sense. I cannot say if you were….Veritaserum is under strict ministry guidelines. I do not want this to go to the ministry…" Dippet shook again. "No…I’ve failed to get a confession out of you. Dumbledore has done all you can, have you not professor?"
Dumbledore answered morosely, "I’m afraid so…"
"There is nothing more we can do. However, Professor Dumbledore indicated to me there is Dark magic present. And it is the type of magic that requires your will to be imposed in order for the magic to work."
Dumbledore agreed. The type of Dark magic meant either an Unbreakable vow or a powerful sorcerer hiding evil deeds with Rosier’s involement.
Rosier straightened up and was now gritting his teeth, waiting for the headmaster to sentence him. "Now I have no qualms about using corporal punishment for performing the Dark Arts. Rest assured if any student performing such spells is caught, they would be caned or worse expelled while I am the headmaster. You will receive four strokes, Mr. Rosier."
Rosier looked mutinous. He felt a rage because he knew he hadn’t actually done anything other than join Riddle. But if he started spewing out that, his life would end. Divulging the secret of the Dark Order would break the vows.
Later that evening, Dumbledore and Dippet finished questioning the final of the four followers.
"You may return to your common room now," said Dippet gravely, putting down the rattan cane he’d used.
"Yes, sir," mumbled Orion Black.
"Do not leave your dormitory for the rest of the evening," finished Dippet.
Orion Black assented to this and left the classroom quickly, relieved he was no longer under all that pressure. Now it would be his duty to report back to Riddle.
Now that they were alone, Dippet looked to Dumbledore. "There was something else you wanted to tell me in private, wasn’t there?"
"Yes, there is Armando. And I beseech you to listen to me at the very least. But what is more vital is action be taken at once."
"Go on, Albus… I'm always ready to listen to you. Your advice has been an invaluable asset to me."
"Then take this precaution: I have not a doubt in my mind that all four of those boys are being controlled. Each played a part in this, I am certain of it. Manipulated by somebody. Somebody knows how to keep the blame from being linked together satisfactorily. Somebody with charisma and an influence. Somebody the boys look to as an authority figure. Even more so than us."
Dippet bit his lip. "Perhaps you’re right….But I do hate to think of this Dumbledore! The chamber debacle is over. And thank Merlin! I cannot bear to contend with our students’ lives being in peril again."
Dumbledore urged, "Armando…I believe Tom Riddle is behind this. This incident and probably many others over the years."
Dippet’s eyes popped and he stopped in his tracks. "Mr. Riddle! Never. The boy…I have grown fond of him…."
"He does associate with these boys in particular…"
And Dippet exploded in denial, and anger, "And so do many other students! We cannot target Mr. Riddle so unfairly when it could be so many others!"
Dumbledore continued, "Even though I’m aware he associates with these students? That Tom Riddle does indeed communicate with each of them and on a regular basis? You will not speak with the boy?"
"When you’ve supplied not a shred of direct evidence professor! I think not! And besides….Tom is a lonely orphan. He merely desires friends…. And that is purely an innocent thing. I cannot call him in for accruing the possession of friends!"
"Very well…There is no way I could change or even hedge your opinion on him? Is there?"
"No," said Dippet firmly. "Riddle has never caused the slightest trouble here."
Dumbledore looked drained and done. He’d argued his case. He thought of more to say on Riddle. Things like how Tom Riddle probably never wanted a true friend and how Tom Riddle could not have anything innocent in his character. But he knew Armando would never be able to esteem Riddle as the way he truly was.
A moment later, Professor Merrythought came into the room.
"I have good news," said the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher exuberantly. "Somebody found the missing children wandering the corridors! They’re not completely unscathed, but otherwise they’re safe and sound in the hospital wing!"
And Dumbledore and Dippet left at once to see the children for themselves.
For such a terrifying and harrowing night, the hospital ward was over crowded with a throng of visitors. Family members of the victims milled around the four occupied beds. The Hufflepuff, Timothy Johnson, Ravenclaw, Ciceron Harkiss, Gryffindor, Michael Adders, and Slytherin Muggle-born, Mary Yardley were only just waking up.
"Oh, I gave them each rather high doses of Calming draughts. According to the students that saw them wandering, they had been hysterical," explained Madam Pomfrey. A wizard’s eyes gleamed at this and strode over to his son. He was the only magical parent in the room, as he was a step-father to Michael Adders. He was muttering, "If only I knew who would do this to them. If only I knew who did this...."
The children were rubbing their eyes trying to get accustomed to seeing the distorted blurs of people around them in milky rays of candlelight. Madam Pomfrey felt her own nerves going to bits, so she smoothed her apron. Plus her face was smooth, almost a girl’s.
"Where am I?" blurted out Mary Yardley suddenly, in a confused daze.
"You’re in the hospital wing at Hogwarts, dear. Whatever happened, you’re safe now."
Dumbledore was waiting patiently on the sidelines, with Professor Dippet and Professor Slughorn.
Just then Ciceron started spluttering. Madam Pomfrey’s eyes widened and she realised what was the matter. She grabbed a clean bedpan and then another. All four children vomited up an acidic mixture, the remains of the candy the Dark Order handed out, which was now unrecognizable debris. But none of the potion was present, and even if it had been, it could not be revealed as to the contents. The halfway stage of the Draught of the Living Dead had long since run its course through their veins.
Another parent panicked and demanded, "What’s wrong with them? What are they coughing up!?"
"I don’t know," Michael Adders mused, rubbing his stomach, his subconscious was remembering the ache from devouring the candies.
Dumbledore stepped forward and addressed the four young victims. "Me, Professor Dippet and Professor Slughorn need some information from you….Can any of you recall where you were this evening?"
Silence was met and everyone waited. Dumbledore felt a surge of hope and he pressed eagerly, "Even the tiniest detail may help us."
Mary Yardley nodded. "Someone in the halls told us we were sick and we should go straight to Madam Pomfrey….I was scared. So I ran here…."
Mary’s body shook, her heart still palpitating, remembering the agonizing terror, but not understanding it. "Where’s my mummy? I want her!"
"I’m right here. Oh, Mary!" A woman came forward and knelt beside the bed, holding Mary’s hand.
"M-mother? Is that really you mother?" Mary looked at the woman, blonde hair in a bun. She seemed incapable of discerning and recognizing her own mother’s features.
"What’s happened to her? To them?" The mother asked, looking at Dumbledore.
"It appears they have amnesia. I feel confident it’s only temporary. They won’t need a place in St. Mungo’s."
"And thank heavens for that, or we’d have the ministry storming here," raved Professor Dippet.
Another parent said bitterly, "Well, maybe there should be a ministry enquiry. My child was attacked!"
"I am sorry, but I am sure the ministry will not be interested, unless we have a suitable suspect. We have been unable to find any. I am sorry." Dumbledore had not stopped speaking.
The parents drew around the beds. Dumbledore pressed on rhetorically, "Are you sure, there is nothing you can remember at all?"
"Son, you’ve got to know something. You went through a horrible ordeal tonight! Who did this to you?!"
And Michael shook his head. He had not a single answer for his father.
The Hufflepuff Timothy finally spoke. He had been the most reticent of them all since they'd been located an hour ago. He took a deep breath, "Cold…It was so dark. And then we went into a void…We were lost. There was nothing at all to remember!"
Slughorn shook his head defeated. "I guess that’s everything we can get out of them, then. But that can’t be accurate. Something happened. Being the Potions Master, I must give my professional opinion. This must have been a powerful, highly concentrated concoction. And it's obvious, given the violent way their bodies reacted."
"I agree," said Dumbledore and Dippet also nodded. "Pardon me, Madam Pomfrey, but I need some space to perform spells of a level beyond your ability. So I shall have to examine them alone as it is a little dangerous if I make a mistake." Dumbledore didn’t say it, for he knew the parents didn’t deserve anymore fretting, but he knew there was a strong possibility their brains were permanently damaged.
Madam Pomfrey assented, "Of course, Professor Dumbledore."
Everybody stepped out of the ward for a moment and waited for Dumbledore’s diagnosis.
"After examining the contents of their minds…All of them will make a full recovery!"
The parents cheered.
"However I have slightly disappointing news. The First year’s memories were grossly tampered with. They have been Confunded regarding the event. Unfortunately, I failed to reverse those spells. Sadly, they will never get to tell us of the horrors this Halloween brought them."
Tom Riddle paced and stalked around the room. Two Slytherins were still in the Common room studying hard for their exams. Eileen watched as Riddle approached them, everything about him conveying authority.
"As a prefect, I must ask you to leave. Professor Slughorn sets the rules for this common room, and one of them is to cease studying past midnight. So to bed. Off you go then."
The two Fifth years grabbed their books. One of them obsequiously intoning to the Prefect, "Yes, sir."
Riddle raised his head a bit higher, looking very dignified, and swept past the two students as they scuttled fearfully away, sensing Riddle’s demand for privacy. Riddle remained impassive, by now he was quite accustomed to the deference people regarded him with.
Eileen continued to observe Tom circling the room. Finally he broke the silence once the clock struck midnight. "Where are they?" he asked Eileen very tensely. He was almost to the point of vexed by their absence.
Eileen could not offer a response and so said nothing. She too wondered what happened to her fellow members of the Dark Order. What kind of trouble had they sunk into?
After several minutes of prowling Riddle sat down in a flourish, interlocking his long fingers tightly, hands on the desk. Eileen went to sit beside him.
Until suddenly he spoke again, and Eileen was quite upset, for it implied he didn’t want her here with him. "Why are YOU still here?"
He prompted musingly, "Hmmm? Well, your justification?"
Eileen no longer felt giddy from his snogging of her earlier. She was mature and serious. "I thought everything went well tonight. What’s troubling you, My Lord?"
Riddle did not answer at once. Then stated testily, believing it obvious. "Four of my men haven’t returned, Eileen. This is a serious complication. Let’s just say, hypothetically…somehow they confess and manage to stay alive…" Riddle laughed, shakily, but it was a humorless laugh. They couldn’t possibly break their Vows without dying in the process.
Eileen couldn’t seem to bear the suspense either. She burst out tensely, "What on earth is that ring for?!"
His hand shook convulsively but then he was restored to calm again, his hand placidly resting on the table, the black stone ring on his middle finger opaque in the candlelight.
"You will not speak of it again, Eileen and you know better than to interrupt me. This token is of no consequence to you. However, I will let you know that is a very significant symbol of your master’s bloodline."
Subdued, Eileen hung her head. "Yes, My lord."
At that very moment, Rosier, Avery, Jugson and Orion Black trooped in. Riddle rose at once to his dominnering height over nearly six foot two, his dark eyes glittering ominously.
Orion Black gaped up at Riddle, Avery sputtered incoherently. Only Rosier and Jugson were courageous enough to explain themselves. "We were hauled in the Headmaster's office for questioning. Dippet was there with Professor Dumbledore, and our Head of House."
Riddle’s face drained of colour. Supressing a terrible rage suddenly engulfing him, he asked sleekly, "And what came of it?"
"Nothing, My Lord! We got away. They could not find a trace of evidence leading us to the crime!"
Riddle actually breathed a long sigh of relief. "Good. However, that was much too close a call."
Stupidly Jugson dared to argue with him."But it wasn’t our fault. If only Slughorn hadn’t shown up when we smeared the message."
"And you didn’t think of a Disillushionment charm to hide yourselves with? Excuses are out of the question. This was my operation, afterall. Your Master’s engineering, and it was flawless. By blaming yourselves, you insult my ingenuity!…" At these words their eyes widened with surprise and Riddle went on rhetorically speaking. "There was a way for you to remain unseen! You failed to think….Months, years of training as my protegees. One would think a bit of my talents would rub off on you."
Riddle was practically spitting with rage. "Next time you will do better! Will you not, Avery, Rosier, Jugson...and you, young Orion?"
Rosier could intuitively sense Voldemort’s imminent punishment coming. "My Lord….Please, I was caned for my mishap-"
Riddle took a step closer to Rosier and leered at him, staring into the boy’s eyes, going over every last detail of Rosier’s memories of the evening through Legilimency. "Be that as it may, it is not an adequate punishment. Yes, it appears you were caned for being suspected of dabbling in the Dark Arts. However, this does not suffice for endangering my plans!"
The foul feeling of guilt pervaded the atmosphere now. Eileen felt skittish and jumped three feet in the air suddenly. There was an almost supernatural wind in the Common room and all the doors slammed, seemingly of their own accord. Then the air in the room charged, becoming dense. It was Riddle’s doing, his wand out, which nobody had noticed in the moments before. He’d cast several powerful spells over the place within seconds.
In the pallor of the dim Common Room, only Riddle’s eyes, two burgundy slits could be seen clearly.
Eileen backed against the wall, instinctively escaping his terrifying wrath. Soon all four of the apprehended followers were emitting agonizing pleas and screams for mercy. The room was locked, and also a powerful muffling charm against outsiders hearing it.
In the dark, musty yellow light, Riddle knelt down slowly, hovering above them.
"You are forever in service to me. You shall be willing to die for me. A few mere welts from a cane is not sacrifice…In fact, one day all of you shall meet your deaths. You desire to have the stamp of my honor? Do you not? Or would you rather die in vain, and betray your Master, the one who has given you so much knowledge, endowed you with power. I, the one who will restore the greatness of the Pureblood race…. You would not dare seek to abandon me. Yes, what would your families say if you disappointed them like you’ve done to me this evening…."
These were strong words, and the boys did not take them lightly. They glared at each other, in their minds accusing each other of imagined disloyalties. Suddenly, everything seemed to the four followers much worse than it had acutally been. Riddle was cleverly twisting the meaning of the events to suit his own ends and strengthen his cult.
Another moment passed. Then all the followers were dismissed. Riddle remained alone, staring into the dying embers at the fireplace. To Eileen he looked melancholy and perhaps in a way he was.
As quietly as she could she tiptoed up behind him. She put a gentle hand on his shoulder and tried to placate him. "My Lord….You should have had me write the message. I would not have failed you."
"You do not know what could have been, Eileen. Have you anything else? If not, I suggest you leave me to my thoughts. You are fortunate Lord Voldemort spared you from punishment." His voice was high and cold. Although he told her this, he knew if he’d noticed Eileen he would not have hesitated to make her suffer.
But Eileen wasn’t done. "Tom. Sorry! I meant My Lord….I can feel your powers and your ascension to greatness! Please, I beg of you….Separate me from the others. Being in the Dark Order has made me strong….I love how you know my every thought. I am not the naïve girl of last year…."
Tom was now listening, truly intrigued by her confession. Eileen had somehow succeeded, however inadvertently in manipulating him. She continued, speaking passionately, "And I know your kisses mean nothing really. I want more!"
"Eileen, you are still nothing but a silly girl. You do not what you are asking for….But I warn you. You would not seek pleasure if I subjected you to my….affections."
"No. I could want it. I understand you now and I am yours. There must be pain if I am to love you. So – please….Let me kiss you a chaste good night at the very least. I can’t bear to retire tonight to only dream of it! Always you are in my dreams..."
Even Eileen was surprised by her increasing boldness. She wrapped herself around him, leaning her head against his broad shoulder. He pushed her away, not roughly but just enough to spurn her advances.
Riddle left her, fleeing the scene rapidly and heading towards the coolness and privacy of his dormitory. Eileen called desperately after him, "I need you! Without you I will wither! My Lord, come back!"
But Riddle was gone and Eileen was more puzzled than ever by his behaviour. She was the one all alone now, and lonely for his company. Riddle had somehow put a hole in her heart this Halloween night. Eileen’s brown eyes filled with tears, stung by his coldness. She thought of his plans for his future Inferi army. What if, she thought with inspiration, Riddle would take her if only she was his corpse. And Eileen, manically and almost driven insane was gone in the head by this thought. She was filled with evil, sickening desires for him, even she could not comprehend. To remedy the situation she’d have to resort to a desperate remedy…..
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