Chapter 1 : Prologue
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It was nearing midnight and Celestina was sitting alone in the Slytherin Common Room, finishing off a final draft for the charms essay she was due to hand in the following day. She’d had a busy week and tonight had been her first opportunity to begin the essay. The start of the year had thrown Celestina and her fellow fifth years into OWL – Ordinary Wizarding Level – exam preparation. She’d had mounds of homework and revision to get through, and on top of that, she’d been awarded Captaincy of both the Slytherin Quidditch Team, and the Slytherin Duelling Club. Along with this, she’d had to help her younger sister Myrinda, settle in to the school. It had been a tough first week back and Celestina was feeling the effects of it.
She finished her sentence and leaned back against the plush, cushioned sofa, throwing her quill forcefully onto the table before her. As she did so, the portrait hole flew open. As it ricocheted off the stone wall, two boys strode into the room purposefully, deep in conversation. Celestina, startled by their entrance, sat up quickly. Her left knee connected with the low table, resulting in her heavy Charms book falling onto the floor with a thump. The boys halted their conversation and turned to look at her.
“Ah Celestina,” the shorter of the two spoke, “I didn’t expect anyone to be awake at such an hour, but once again you have proven me wrong.”
Celestina recognised the boy as Curtis Avery, a sixth year, who played seeker for the Slytherin Quidditch Team. He was of slim build, with sandy hair and a slightly disproportionate nose. Avery had a reputation for causing trouble and was a proud pure-blood. This gave him a slight disregard for Celestina, as she was of half-blood heritage. Celestina did not care much for him, however he was an excellent seeker.
“I’ve had a busy week, Avery,” she replied, “Not least helped by the absence of a certain seeker at Quidditch trials this afternoon. I’m finishing off my charms essay – I don’t suppose you’ve even started yours yet?”
“It was just trials, Marsden, there was no reason for me to be there – why waste time gallivanting with half-bloods and blood traitors when I could be getting on with more important matters? The same goes for charms. I know the incantations; there is no need for me to practise.”
“It’s that kind of attitude that almost got you kicked off the team last year Avery,” Celestina replied reproachfully, “If you feel that way about the team, I suggest you resign. I’ve booked the pitch for Friday evening, I expect you to be there at six, otherwise I’ll be holding trials to find your replacement.”
“I like your attitude, Marsden,” Avery grinned, “If you were pureblood, I’d find your feisty personality appealing. I was just discussing my type of woman with Tom here, wasn’t I?”
Celestina had almost forgotten about the boy who accompanied Avery. He had not spoken a word throughout the exchange. She turned her gaze to him, surprised to note his striking features. He was tall and handsome, with dark brooding eyes.
“Indeed,” was his quiet response, “However I find I don’t have much patience for romance.”
Avery chortled cheerily.
“Romance,” he laughed, “You do make me laugh, Riddle. I’ll be heading up to bed now then. Will you be joining me Tom?”
“No,” Tom replied, “I was hoping to enjoy some light reading first. I’ll see you tomorrow at breakfast, no doubt.”
After Avery’s footsteps had disappeared, an uncomfortable silence fell over the common room, interrupted only by the sounds of Celestina’s quill as she returned to her essay and Tom, as he flung his slender body into an armchair opposite her own, and proceeded to unzip his rucksack, withdrawing a large, leather-bound book from within.
Celestina watched with interest as the boy flicked delicately through the pages of his book, with long-fingered hands and an eagerness in his eye.
“A bit of light reading?” She asked, perplexed.
“That’s correct,” he replied, coldly.
She considered him for a moment as he continued to search the book. She wondered what he could possibly be looking for in Magick Moste Evile.
“Forgive me, but my perception of ‘light reading’ does not consist of a book that I know for a fact is of no less than two thousand pages long, and full of information which is particularly difficult to digest – especially at this time of night!”
“I’ll thank you for your opinion,” he replied archly, “but it is hardly any business of yours what I choose to read.”
Celestina chose not to respond, instead returning to her essay, of which she had only completed half of. This particular essay was proving rather difficult. Despite being an extremely gifted witch, she had struggled with the spell they had been asked to learn in their first charms lesson as a OWL students. She already could tell this year was going to be challenging. After flipping through The Standard Book of Spells (Grade 5) and realising she had already written all the uses it mentioned for Memory Charms, she reached into her rucksack and dragged out a heavy textbook she'd borrowed from the library, entitled An Anthology of Eighteenth Century Charms. Tom raised his head as she let the book clatter onto the table, however he quickly returned to his own book.
Celestina riffled through the pages of the enormous book until she found a promising section describing the advantages and disadvantages of memory charms. The section even included instances where memory charms had been used famously. She began to scribble her next paragraph.
It is highly debated whether Memory Charms should be kept legal in the United Kingdom. The Ministry of Magic claims this particular brand of charm can prove extremely useful, with the Magical Law Enforcement squad claiming memory charms are a huge part of their job, as it is often required that they erase the memory of muggles after the event of Improper Use of Magic. However, Memory Charms are used by the general public, causing disturbances in trials and even domestic problems, with some partners choosing to erase the memory of their husband or wife, or even children, after dramatic events.
The minutes passed slowly, with neither of the pair making a sound. The only sounds that could be heard were the furious scratch of her quill, and the occasional lazy flick of his pages, until -
“You know,” he drawled, not raising his head from his book, “It is unwise to study late at night. The mind is not able to function to the best of its ability, and concentration will be at it's lowest the following day.”
“I’ll thank you for your opinion,” she replied scathingly, mimicking his earlier words, “however it is hardly any of your business when I choose to study.”
“You are right, it is none of my business,” he smirked, “I am merely offering some advice.”
She looked up, ready to throw a crushing retort at the boy, however she found herself at a loss for words as she noticed his dark eyes were no longer fixed on his book – they were directed at her. And in them, she saw a certain gleam. A gleam of great interest, and amusement.
“Are you a friend of Avery’s?" She asked suddenly, "I don’t think I have seen the two of you together before, but then I don’t pay much attention to many.”
“No,” he replied, “I do not class Avery as a friend of mine.”
“I see,” she paused, curiously, “I’m not sure I’ve seen you about the school before, which year are you?”
“I am a fifth year, like yourself.”
“Oh, I'm not sure we’ve spoken before,” she murmured, "I tend to merely talk to my inner circle - I don't much care for others.”
“As do I,” he replied smoothly, “I, however, tend to make sure I know of my fellow classmates. It can prove ah – beneficial.”
Celestina was not certain what to make of his words. She studied him for a moment before replying. He was watching intently for her reaction, to see what she would say to his statement.
“Right,” she said, determined not to give too much away, “So what’s your surname?”
“Riddle,” He replied. He didn’t ask for her surname. She had heard his name before about the school. From her gatherings, she assumed he was something of a model student. She noticed a prefect badge glinting proudly on his chest. She had heard girls squeal over just a mention of his name, boys marvel over it, as if he was some sort of hero. She had overheard teachers gushing about the delightful Tom Riddle, but had never thought anything of it. It was just another name, just another person. But now here he was, sitting less than ten feet away from her, and she couldn’t find anything that interested her more in the room.
A few moments passed, during which Tom returned to his book. She watched as his eyes narrowed, examining the words on the page.
“Is there something in particular you are looking for?” She inquired.
“Nothing I can find much mention of in here,” he closed the book resignedly, “You say you’ve read this before? Did you find it useful?”
“In some ways, yes,” she responded, “However it mostly consists of very complex dark magic. I’m not sure I am as talented a witch as to pull off such an art. I found it useful for referencing however. I specifically enjoyed the section on fiendfyre.”
“You would like to be able to do it though? To perform the magic, I mean?”
She looked at Tom. The boy was very handsome, and had a certain charm about him. She wondered why she had never really noticed him before. Why had she not been more interested when her friends mentioned his name? He had a confident, almost arrogant air about him, she noted, as she clocked his legs strewn over the arm of his chair. His slim, pale face was full of perfect lines and angles around a thin pair of lips, a delicate nose and intense eyes. He was full of mystery, and she liked that.
“Yes,” she smiled sinfully, as their eyes met across the flickering fire, “I am very interested in the dark arts.”