Chapter 3 : The Bathroom
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“Alright class, have a seat please,” Professor Galatea Merrythought said upon entering the classroom. She was a stout woman, with a cloud of grey hair mixed with white and a pointed chin. It was a warm afternoon in late September, and the class wanted to spend one of their last days of summer outside, instead of sitting in desks and copying notes. The fifth year Slytherins took their seats grudgingly, still gossiping with each other and trying to sneak in a few extra words.
“Quiet now!” She waited again for the students to fall silent. “I was very pleased with your essays on mermaids. It seems as though you’ve understood them quite well. So today, we’re moving on to serpents. This class especially should find them quite interesting.” She paused for another moment, but the class stayed quiet.
Merrythought walked to the front of the room, turning at the end to face the class. She flicked her wand, causing the lights to dim. The shades closed over the brightly colored trees in the windows, leaving the room in an eerie half-darkness. An illuminated picture of a snake popped up on the front wall. She paused again, as if she expected the class to say something, but once again, they remained quiet.
“There are three different types of serpents we will be studying in particular. The sea serpent-” She flicked her wand again and the picture changed to that of a sea serpent “the runespoor,” once again, the picture changed, now depicting the three-headed runespoor, “and the basilisk.” The picture changed once more. “Does anyone know something about any of these serpents?” She crossed her arms and looked at the class disapprovingly. “Tut, tut. These were all in your books, too, which I was under the impression you had actually read.”
Anabel raised her hand.
“Well, I’m guessing the sea serpent lives in the sea.” The room broke out into laughter.
Merrythought’s eyes flashed menacingly. “I don’t appreciate your cheek, Ms. Davies. Five points from Slytherin.” The room silenced immediately. “Now does anyone know something real about them?”
She glared at the class, daring them all to respond.
Lidya Scamander glanced at the picture of the basilisk still on the wall
and raised her hand slowly.
“Scamander?” Merrythought said with an air of surprise. Lidya was usually the last person to answer questions, and she had never raised her hand, except to say that the bell had rung in History of Magic when Binns ignored it. She was the only student Binns knew by name in that class, and the others teased her about it to no end. “All right, go ahead.”
“Erm, well, there’s an engraving on one of the taps in one of the girl’s bathrooms that looks kind of like that.”
Merrythought eyed her suspiciously. “I doubt that, Scamander. The basilisk is a very rare and dangerous snake. The Founders would not have engraved it onto a tap.”
“Maybe a student did it,” Orion Black piped in.
“Mr. Black, you didn’t raise your hand.” Merrythought said angrily. “Speak out of turn again and I’ll take another five points.”
“It didn’t look like a student did it,” Lidya said calmly. “It was really lifelike.”
“I doubt it’s a basilisk then. It could be just any snake,” Merrythought said with a tone of finality. “Now can we please get back to the lesson?”
“But professor, it looks exactly li-”
“Enough! I will not hear another word about this so called basilisk on a tap in my classroom. Now get out your quills and parchment. You clearly have a lot of note-taking to do, as you can’t even tell me one simple thing about any of these! Have none of you opened your books all year?” Her hair puffed up as it usually did when she was angry. The students knew to shut up when her hair puffed up, because she was very prone to taking away points. They kept their heads down as they rummaged in their bags for quills.
All except Tom, who raised his hand tentatively.
“What?” Merrythought nearly yelled at him.
“I believe that the sea serpent has never killed a wizard,” he said. “And one of the more common places where it’s found is the Mediterranean.”
Merrythought put a hand to her temple and took a deep breath. “Thank you, Riddle. At least somebody reads in this class. Take five points for Slytherin. As for the rest of you, why aren’t you copying that down?”
There was a hurried scratching of quills on parchment as the students scribbled down what he had said, not wanting to anger their teacher any farther. When Merrythought turned her back, each and every one of them turned to smile at Tom. He returned it, though if anyone had cared to notice, it didn’t reach his eyes. By the time Merrythought had turned back around, the students were bent low to their desks, taking notes. Her hair flattened out and the rest of the class passed without incident.
“I’ll see you later,” Tom told his classmates as they left the last lesson of the day. “I’ve, er, just got to check the library for a book.” Knowing they would just offer to come with him, he quickly said, “It’s in the Restricted Section and I’ve got a note from Professor Slughorn, but unfortunately, you lot can’t come with me. I’ll meet you in the common room as soon as I’m done.” He forced a smile before scurrying off.
Tom finally let the thoughts that had been bothering him ever since their Defense Against the Dark Arts class come to the forefront of his mind. A mark of a basilisk in the girl’s bathroom? It couldn’t just be a coincidence. Of course, he had no evidence that the supposed monster in the Chamber of Secrets was even a snake, let alone a basilisk, but the mark didn’t have to correspond with the monster within. Slytherin was known for snakes. He was a Parselmouth, loved snakes, and even the symbol of his house was a snake for crying out loud. Of course the mark to the entrance would be a snake. He had puzzled that out ages ago. And there were few places more mundane than the girl’s bathroom.
He wondered what the monster he would find would be. With as much time as he had spent mulling over the idea of the Chamber of Secrets, he had spent precious little thinking about the inside. The monster within would be strong enough to rid the school of Mudbloods, and that was good enough for him. He didn’t need to think about what it would be. But now that he was so close to his goal, the monster fascinated him.
The obvious answer was still a snake. It was Salazar Slytherin. He could control snakes, force them to do his bidding. But a small snake wiping out all the Mudbloods in the school? No, it was too subtle. It wouldn’t strike fear into the hearts of all those who harbored Mudbloods through the years. Slytherin would have wanted to be more dramatic.
So then there were the big snakes. A big snake would be too conspicuous though. How was that thing supposed to get around the school unnoticed? Well, there was always the option of traveling underground, and maybe Slytherin had also built some secret passageway system. But the method of killing would be conspicuous as well. Bloody deaths caused screaming and too much mess. It had to be something quick and painless.
And then it hit him. Tom couldn’t believe it hadn’t been obvious earlier. The snake would have to be a basilisk. The king of serpents, the monster of all monsters, there was no denying that it was simply perfect for the monster Slytherin hide in his Chamber. And even more, only Slytherin would be able to control it. His face brightened as he realized that a basilisk had to be the answer. Now that he had thought about it, there was simply nothing else that would work for him. He was positive that a basilisk lay in wait for him in the Chamber.
Of course, he would have to be careful around a basilisk. Yes, he could speak to it, but that didn’t make him immune to it. If he looked into the basilisk’s eyes, even by accident, that would be the end. But he didn’t plan to let that happen. He would control it. Slytherin would have made sure that he could. He certainly hoped he could control it, in any case. Without control, his game would be over before it started. If he could control it, of course, the basilisk would keep its head down at just a few spoken words from him.
He quickened his pace, the excitement flooding through his body. After years of constant searching, he was finally going to be able to open the chamber and complete his noble ancestor’s mission. He was finally going to be able to cleanse the school, thus fulfilling his purpose here. This had to be the answer to everything. He was sure of it.
Tom stopped short in the corridor. He was far enough away from the others now that he could backtrack away from the library. He needed to look at the snake in the girl’s bathroom next. He had spent the better part of last year, when he had finally realized that the Chamber would be marked with a snake looking for such a marker, but had found virtually nothing. Yes, he had found some snakes on paintings and such, but none of them yielded the answer. He felt almost feverish with anticipation. A snake on a tap was simply ingenious. No one would think to look there. And if it was a basilisk too, it had to be what he was looking for. He stopped on the sixth floor, about to walk into the girl’s bathroom when his senses returned to him and he came to an abrupt halt, two feet away from the door, his hand already stretched out to turn the knob.
What the hell are you doing? He chastised himself angrily. He had nearly walked into a girl’s bathroom. That would have, at the very least, cost him points, and his reputation as well. What was more, he didn’t even know which girl’s bathroom Lidya had been talking about. It wasn’t necessarily this one at all. And while he was willing to risk examining one girl’s bathroom, he couldn’t possibly hope to do every one. He was bound to get caught at some point of time if he did that. The adrenaline rush he had just experienced left his body suddenly, taking the eager feeling with it and Tom slouched, feeling both let down and mad at himself.
Tom backed up several steps and leaned against a wall, trying to regain his composure. He couldn’t let the excitement get to him like that again. He was going to have to be more careful if he wanted to pull this off. He took several deep breaths before deciding he was okay to go back to the other Slytherins. If he didn’t go back soon, one of them would surely come looking for him.
Tom found his classmates nothing more than bothers most of the time, but they had their uses. And there were no Mudblood Slytherins. So them, he could deal with.
Tom straightened his shoulders and began to walk again, slower, but still with purpose. He hid for a moment in a hidden passage next to the library and summoned a book that looked like it could have been in the restricted section. Now they would have no reason to ask questions, and if they did, he could just say that he hadn’t been able to find it. They would eat up anything he said. That was the advantage of never getting too close to anyone. Other than the fact that he didn’t have a desire to make friends, as soon as you made one friend, you alienated the rest of the students, and he didn’t want to do that. Someone would end up with a grudge and come looking for him. Someday, that would be okay with him, when he had power and strength. But for now, he needed to do things away from the spotlight. It was the best way to survive.
Amaya groaned. She was sitting at a table in the Slytherin common room, trying to concentrate on a Herbology essay when all she really wanted to do was sleep. She didn’t really care if it was only five o’clock, she was exhausted. She threw her quill down and looked next to her. Anabel was doodling in the margins of her Potions book while staring out the window. So she wasn’t the only one having trouble concentrating.
“Oi,” Amaya said sharply, poking her friend on the arm. Anabel’s head jerked back as she snapped out of her reverie. “What, did I just interrupt a life changing revelation or something?
“Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention.” She shook her head, the misty look in her eyes disappearing.
“I can see that. But you ruined your potions book.” Amaya pointed to the doodles of hearts she had been drawing.
Anabel glanced down. “It’s just in the margins.”
“You were supposed to be doing homework.”
“Yeah, because you were doing an amazing job.”
Amaya looked down at the one sentence on her parchment. “Touché.” She leaned back in her chair, sighing. “I wonder where Tom is. He’s been gone for a while now.”
“Honestly, Amaya, is that all you think about these days?”
“It’s all you talk about. Do you fancy him, or obsess over him?”
“Everyone in the school fancies him!”
“Yes, but you aren’t everyone. Do you fancy him?”
Amaya sighed. She had been hoping to avoid this question when she answered, but Anabel had seen right through it. She had been thinking about her feelings for Tom ever since her first night at Hogwarts, and she still hadn’t been able to come to a conclusion. She knew that she liked him. She knew that she wanted him to like her. But she didn’t know why.
The simple answer to Anabel’s question, however, was yes, so Amaya opened her mouth and forced herself to utter the word. “Yes. Yes, of course I do.”
Anabel didn’t look entirely convinced, but she didn’t push Amaya farther. “You’re wrong, by the way. Not everyone fancies him.”
Amaya looked surprised. “Well, can you name someone who doesn’t?”
“Me,” Anabel said simply, ignoring Amaya’s expression of surprise. “I don’t fancy him one bit. Anymore, at least.”
Amaya resisted the urge to gape, and instead shrugged. “Whatever. You’ve just given up on him, that’s all, and I don’t intend to do that. I will get to know him.”
Anabel smirked. “And how do you plan to do that?”
“Erm…I’ll think of that part later?”
“Well, you can start by going over and saying hello to him.”
“What? Is he here?” Amaya whipped around in her chair to see Tom clambering into the common room. He walked over to the chair closest to the fire, the most coveted spot, but Tom had gotten it since third year, a feat yet unmatched. He sat down casually, a smile breaking out on his face. Amaya stood up, knocking the chair and hitting her knee before wobbling over to sit on an empty spot on the couch.
The room felt silent for a moment, as if Tom was the king and the rest of the students his subjects, and they were waiting for him to issue a decree. Finally, Ella spoke.
“Thanks for saving our necks in Defense Against the Dark Arts today, Tom,” she said with a sickly sweet tone in her voice, but if Tom noticed, he didn’t say anything.
“No problem. That was a strange class, anyways.”
“I thought Merrythought had gone mental,” Orion Black added.
“She got so annoyed at me,” Lidya whined. “I was telling the truth.”
She looked around at the other girls for support.
“I haven’t seen any snake engravings, but I don’t spend my time in the loo looking at taps,” Amaya said quickly, wanting to get a word in.
“Neither have I. Which bathroom is it in, anyway?” Ella asked her.
“The one on the second floor.”
“Eurgh, I hate that bathroom,” Amaya cut in. “There’s something weird about it. And there’s that one faucet that doesn’t work.”
Lidya nodded her agreement. “Yeah, I try to avoid it too. But the faucet that doesn’t work, that’s the one with the basilisk on it.”
Ella raised her eyebrows. “I’ll have a look next time I’m there,” she said.
And if anyone had cared to notice, they could have seen a sinister look of triumph in Tom’s eyes for the briefest of seconds before it disappeared.
Edit March 2012; This chapter didn't change all that much, but it didn't have an author's note to begin with. Thanks to everyone who's been reading and reviews are lovely :)
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