Chapter 1 : Soulbreaker
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Enjoy. Ignore any anachronisms and go with it. This is not to be taken seriously in any sense of anything.
She had read about them in The Daily Prophet; how the lead singer would throw himself around stage, swinging his leather-clad hips from side to side while he grasped the microphone with a strong hand. She had read how the girls would scream his name, how some of them threw underwear, and how, if rumour was to be believed, he had many lovers.
It was all totally inappropriate.
Which was why, as Head Girl of Hogwarts, Minerva McGonagall needed to attend one of these ‘shows’ for herself. The younger girls were giddy enough as it was, and now, with the band apparently shacked up somewhere in the area, things were bound to get out of control. Just last week, Sally Montague had fainted in the halls. Clutched in her sweaty hand had been a photograph of the black-haired singer, his smooth face and glittering eyes creased from much love and caressing.
Minerva frowned, securing her hair into its usual neat bun. Ridiculous, she thought. Imagine fainting over a boy? She was not one to gossip, but rumour also had it that this singer, this Tom Riddle, was magnanimous. It was said he could charm a room full of people with a single look. Minerva snorted, smoothing down her skirt. She would see and judge for herself.
The walk to Hogsmeade was uneventful. Minerva pulled her jacket closer around her body, shutting out the evenings chill. The band was playing at the Hogs Head, and as she approached, she was met with groups of giggling witches and gangs of finely dressed young wizards. There was a queue outside the pub and, irritated, she took her place in line and waited, still unable to believe all these people were here simply for a band.
There was a poster taped to the wall near the door, and as the line crept forward, Minerva studied it. Tom Riddle and the Soul Breakers. What a ridiculous name for a band, she thought, watching as the singer, who she assumed was this Tom Riddle, jumped around on stage in his tight trousers. She averted her eyes as he winked at her, turning her attention to the rest of the band. Two hulking men held guitars awkwardly in their large hands, and another was partially hidden behind an enormous drum kit but they all lacked the raw power of their leader. Even through the poster, Minerva could feel Tom’s presence and as she studied his face, he smiled.
Inside, a frazzled witch in a velvet-collared jacket was taking money at a booth just inside the door, and Minerva handed over her sickles without hesitation. The atmosphere of the place was working on her, like a spell being steadily cast. Anticipation sunk into her veins and suddenly, she had to see, had to know, had to be right at the base of the stage where she could gaze up at him in admiration.
The first chords floated through the air and a lull fell over the crowd; it lasted a mere breath, before the screaming began as Tom Riddle and his band sauntered into view. Minerva elbowed her way to the front of the stage. She needed to get a good look – it was her civic duty after all, to see whether this boy and this music were worth the fainting and the catfights and the overall disruption of life at Hogwarts. She half-suspected that even the boys were in love with Tom and his songs.
She was jostled and shoved and her toes stepped on as the crowd surged to the front. She held her ground, prepared to whip out her wand and take control of the situation, when Tom began to croon and whisper into the microphone, and all her thoughts were forgotten.
The first song finished, and another began, followed by another. The crowd sang along blindly, voices raised, eyes pinned to the tall lanky man in the spotlight. Minerva found herself swaying to the beat, her lips moving although she didn’t know the words. She felt faint, dizzy, and unable to look away as Tom sang. It was as if he was singing to her alone; the audience melted away and she and he were the only ones in the room. Minerva reached up and tugged her hair from its bun, letting her locks cascade wildly down her back.
“And now,” Tom said as the music faded away, “I need a volunteer from the audience: someone to come up and sing this song with me.”
“Oh pick me, pick me!!! I love you!!” A woman with wild black hair to the left of Minerva screamed. “I am your biggest fan! I live only to serve you!”
Tom ignored her, his eyes passing over the front row critically. Minerva made to move away but at that moment, his eyes found hers and she froze, her breath tight in her throat. He pointed a long finger at her.
She shook her head, a blush flaring to life in her cheeks.
“Yes,” he commanded, crooking his finger and beckoning, “you, sweetheart.”
She was hauled onto the stage before she realised what was happening. The crowd flowed behind her, girls screaming out in indignation, cries of encouragement mingling with cries of sorrow at not being picked. Minerva jumped as Tom slid his arm around her waist and pulled her against his body.
Oh! The closeness of him! She had never been held so firmly, with such authority, by any boy. There was something wild about him, something untamed and she blinked the glare of the spotlight from her eyes, focusing on his face. Her heart grew wings, threatened to fly from her chest. She couldn’t breathe.
“Sing,” he told her as the band began to play.
“I don’t know the words,” she whispered.
His lips curled. “You will. My music will steal into your soul and you will be mine.”
She wondered what he meant by that, because surely it was a metaphor and nothing more. The richness of his voice overtook her, her heart beat in time with the music and she opened her mouth and sang words she had never heard before but knew anyway. They came through her, from deep inside her and somewhere in the back of her mind lurked the thought that some magic was being worked here, but she was powerless to stop it.
The song ended and, dazed, she was passed back into the crowd. Trembling, she moved away, backing towards the door. Tom Riddle continued to gaze at her as he began the next song.
That night, safe in her bed away from the temptation of Tom and his music, Minerva dreamt strange dreams of darkness and death. Rising in the morning, she splashed cold water on her face, surprised to find her cheeks were still tinged with pink and her eyes hectic. Mortified that she could be turning into a fan after only one experience with their music, she did what a good girl like herself was supposed to do in a situation like this.
She went to her mentor for help.
The Hogwarts Transfiguration Professor was the most brilliant man Minerva had ever met. She was fascinated and intrigued by him; by his knowledge and the way he would look at her over the top of his spectacles.
Albus Dumbledore, she had heard said, was a member of The Order, although Minerva could not picture her Professor on stage, she knew he would be fantastic at it, just as he was at everything. To see them perform, she knew, would outstrip everything in her life so far, even Tom Riddle and the Soul Breakers.
“This cannot do,” Dumbledore murmured when he heard about Tom Riddle and Minerva’s suggestion that magic was being worked through their music.
“I am willing to help in any way I can,” Minerva said breathlessly, holding her head high. “I will infiltrate the group and uncover their dastardly plot, because surely there must be one.”
Dumbledore nodded. “I will need to speak to The Order first. We have rehearsal tonight and -”
“Oh!” Minerva breathed, heart pounding. “Sir, can I please come with you? I would so love to see you perform!” She dropped her eyes, dizzy, as a good girl would.
“You may,” Dumbledore said softly. “But Minerva, you are not to speak of this to anyone. The identities of the members of my group must remain secret, until we have our first big show.” He handed her a slip of paper. “Come to this room tonight.”
She nodded seriously, clutching the scrap of parchment to her chest. The rest of the day passed in a blur – Minerva was terribly nervous and filled with anticipation. She counted the seconds until she was able to leave the Gryffindor dorm, slipping down the grand staircase and into the darkened corridors. As she walked her feet beat out a rhythm and she began humming, the melody drifting upwards, floating above her as she moved. It was the song Tom had made her sing and she was appalled that it still lingered in her mind.
Minerva consulted her parchment. The Room of Requirement was a place she had never been, and she took a deep breath and focused. Slowly, a door came into view, etched into the wall and she swallowed before pushing it open gently.
Inside was a stage, plain and unadorned except for a red velvet curtain. There were chairs laid out in neat rows and Minerva took a seat in the front, smoothing down her skirt nervously. The room was empty and she wondered whether she had the time wrong, or was in the wrong place. She was about to leave her seat and investigate the matter further when her Professors voice echoed through the room.
“Glad you could make it,” he said and Minerva watched as he walked on stage. A microphone and stand appeared before him as the rest of the Order moved into position. “We are not accustomed to an audience, so please forgive us if we make a mistake.”
Minerva nodded, unable to speak, her heart and mind overwhelmed. Slowly, they began to play and she knew instantly that, while they lacked the raw energy and strange power that Tom Riddle and the Soul Breakers had, there was something else about them that stole her breath. The music was low and deep, worming its way inside her body and when Dumbledore began to sing all she wanted was to jump up on stage and sing with him.
To stop herself from doing anything embarrassing, Minerva studied the other members of the band as she listened to their words. Caradoc Dearborn was on the drums, with Gideon and Fabian Prewett on guitar and bass respectively.
After the last notes faded away, Dumbledore stepped back from the microphone and regarded the sole audience member seriously. “You must find Tom Riddle. It is up to you, Minerva. I would never trust anyone else with this job,” he said softly, seriously, and she nodded.
She hadn’t the first clue where to find Tom; she only knew that she must. There was no sign of him at the Hogs Head, but she knew there wouldn’t be. Frantic, Minerva skirted the streets of Hogsmeade, knowing it was ridiculous. There was no chance Tom Riddle would just be waiting for her on a street corner and already she felt she was failing in her mission.
“You looking for someone, baby doll?”
Minerva spun around expectantly, finding not Tom but one of the young wizards she had noticed hanging out near the front of the stage at the concert.
“I might be.”
“He said you would be.”
She drew herself up, not to be intimidated. “And who might you be?”
“The name’s Lestrange – Rodulphus Lestrange. I’m Riddle’s stage manager, sweetness.” He patted the seat of a large and very sexy motorbike. “Let’s split.”
“I don’t know...”
He grinned. “He wants to see you.”
The world was different on the back of a motorbike with her arms around the middle of a strapping young man, and Minerva found herself smiling as they tore through the empty, colourless streets, never realising before how dim everything was. This was excitement, this was truly living and she suddenly understood how much she’d been missing while she was cloistered in the library bent over a book. They rode into the forest and further up into the hills, where, on the highest peak, overlooking the village below, stood a grand mansion. Minerva stared up at it in wide-eyed wonder.
“He’s inside, sugar.”
She nodded, racing up the wide sweeping stone steps and pushed open the heavy oak doors, compelled beyond reason. She had to see him! The hall beyond was dark; red curtains blocked the windows, coating the place in blood shadows, and as she walked, she heard laughter and spied people through half-open doors.
A small woman with lanky brown hair stopped her at wand-point. “You lost, precious?”
“I don’t exactly know what I am going here, because I am a good girl and good girl’s always do what is expected of them, but I need to see Tom,” she whispered, her voice taking on a reverent tone.
A glazed, devoted look passed into the woman’s eyes and she indicated Minerva was to follow her, and offered drinks, food, something to take the edge off, all which Minerva, still a good girl despite sneaking away from school and being lured into a den of possible sin, refused. The woman lifted her wand and the doors at the end of the hall flew open and Minerva peered inside.
Tom was sprawled across a large pile of velvet cushions, a throng of people around him. He is like a god, she thought with a little jolt of her heart, as she took in his demeanour. He looked different away from the stage; gone were the leather pants and in their place were a pair of drainpipe trousers, a drape jacket with velvet trim and a pristine white shirt and Oxford tie. His hair was slicked back, greased into a perfect quiff, the sides combed flat.
He looked up and smiled, and she held her breath. He was dangerous and sexy, and she felt her throat grow tight.
“Alecto, you’ve brought me dessert.”
The woman who had escorted Minerva laughed but said nothing, moving towards the mass of bodies strewn on the floor at Tom’s feet. She sank to the ground, reaching for the hand he offered and kissed it. Tom’s eyes never left Minerva’s face.
“Welcome to my pad, sweetness,” he purred, making no move to sit up. “These,” he said, waving his hand around the vast room, “are my Death Eaters – my more exuberant fans.”
“It is our pleasure,” a woman breathed, her bosom heaving, her pencil skirt snug around her hips. It was the same woman from the concert, the one who begged to be allowed on stage. She really was beautiful, with her long dark hair and heavy-lidded eyes. Minerva wondered why she hadn’t been picked.
“Take a load off,” Tom suggested, indicating Minerva was to sit. She shook her head.
“I would rather not, thank you.” She wrinkled her nose; she could smell alcohol and burning plant matter in the air and decided quickly this was not the sort of place she wished to stay in for long, despite her mission and the desperate need she seemed to have developed for Tom Riddle.
“Don’t you realise who you are talking to?” the dark-haired woman hissed. “This is the Creator of Carnage, the Deity of Danger, the Engineer of Enigma, the Master of Magic, the Prince of Power, the Icon of...” she paused in her obsequious speech, her eyes moving to Tom, who looked nothing but pleased. “I’m sorry, my Lord of Love, my Regent of Rapture, I am still working on ‘I’, ‘X’ and ‘Q’.”
Tom laughed and Minerva watched as the woman arranged herself at his side, one of her hands moving to his hair. His head immediately snapped back, his eyes dark and full of fear.
“Don’t touch the hair, Bella,” he snapped, reaching up to ensure his quiff was still in place. Pouting, Bella withdrew her hand, turning baleful eyes on Minerva instead.
“Why’d you have to bring her, Tom? She’ll just kill the mood,” she said sulkily. “Look at her, standing there with nothing to say. And what is she wearing? Is that tartan?”
“Cut the gas,” Tom drawled, “I want her here.”
Bella tossed her dark head and turned away, but not before Minerva saw the warning in the woman’s eyes – it was a clear ‘stay-away-from-him-or-I-will-claw-your-eyes-out.’ Still, Minerva McGonagall was a Gryffindor, and Gryffindor’s did not bow to the wishes of insane groupies.
“Don’t let her rattle your cage,” Tom said smoothly, rising from his seat and sauntering across the floor; his Death Eaters fell away like the Red Sea. “She’s a little tapped.”
Tom, with his arm tight around her middle, steered her through the winding halls and rooms of the mansion, his voice ever present in her ear, whispering, explaining, describing. Minerva saw what she expected was a potions lab, a room filled with treasure and ancient artefacts, and she thought that, underneath the laughter and the music, she heard a scream.
“So, what do you reckon?” Tom asked her, his voice smooth in her ear. “Do you like my set-up?”
“I want no part in such things,” Minerva shuddered, although part of her, just a little part, was intrigued.
He laughed. “Too late, doll face. You’ve stepped over the wrong side of the tracks and there is no going back now.”
She pondered his words for a moment. “I suppose you are right; that is the way it happens after all. What else can you show me? If I am a good girl about to go bad, I may as well try everything.”
He laughed. “And you will. But first, have you ever heard of a horcrux?”
Minerva had not, and she listened intently as Tom told her his plans, remembering that she was on a top secret mission and needed to discover all she could.
“As you can see, I have big plans, doll. First I will kill all the Mudbloods, because I just cannot stand them. My father was a Muggle you see, and because he abandoned my mother I am filled with rage over my lost childhood.”
“Isn’t murder illegal? If the Ministry found out you would be sent to Azkaban.” She was scandalised at such a thing. “And I am pretty sure that splitting your soul into pieces is also frowned upon.”
“Minerva, don’t worry about it” His slid his index finger under her chin, titling her head up. “You really razz my berries, baby.”
“You’re so prim and proper, a real lady, a total dolly,” he continued. She shivered as his nose moved the length of her neck, his breath warm and sweet on her skin. “You’ve got jets, Minerva; I don’t think I need to spell it out for you.”
“Tom, I don’t think that we should. You’re the quintessential bad boy and I am, as you say, prim and proper.”
“Opposites attract, sweetheart,” he said.
“But why me?” she asked, looking up at him with large, doe-like eyes.
“Why? Because I can tell you will be the one to discover my diabolical plan, so I need to keep you close. My minions in there will take care of business while I spend my time wooing you,” he replied, gazing into her eyes.
She nodded. “That makes sense. After all, I am still unsure of what you are doing here but I am certain it is not right.”
“Take a ride with me,” he said abruptly. “My wheels are just outside.”
“I should be getting back to school,” Minerva said, attempting to pull away, but he tightened his grip on her body and she knew that she would not be returning to Hogwarts in a hurry. “But I suppose it is in the script that the good girl climbs on the back of the bad boy’s motorbike and rides off into the sunset, only to watch him leave. You aren’t going to leave, are you, Tom?”
“Not today, Minerva. Come, I have one more thing to show you before you return to your school.”
In a darkened room down the hall, behind more velvet curtains, a large wizard was sitting in a chair. His forearm was outstretched and a look of deep concentration was on his face. Before him sat another wizard, who jumped up as Tom entered.
“He is ready, My Lord.”
“You have prepared him?”
“Good.” Tom took the wizard’s vacated seat, looking seriously at the man with the exposed arm. “You are ready, Dolohov?”
“I am, My Lord.”
Tom nodded, and Minerva hovered in the doorway, unsure of what was going on. Suddenly, Tom’s wand slashed through the air and a small machine appeared. Minerva frowned, drawing closer to get a better look. There was a long cord coming from the machine, and on the end of that cord was a vial of black ink, and a short stubby needle. Tom flicked his wand again and the machine started buzzing; Minerva shrank back. It was like a thousand angry bees had made a home in the room but she watched, fascinated and repelled, as Tom took up the tool and lowered it towards the other man’s arm.
Minerva had heard of tattoos, but being a good girl had never had any inclination to receive one. She watched as the man grit his teeth and Tom focused on his work, eventually drawing back to study his art.
“What do you think, doll?”
On the man’s forearm there was now a black skull. A serpent wound its way from the mouth of the skull and the tattoo pulsed with magic. Tom was watching her; Minerva thought it was the ugliest thing she had ever seen but she smiled and said it was lovely.
“Would you like one?”
“Oh,” she said, chewing her lip. It would be oh so rebellious of her; her mother would have a heart attack. “Do you do phoenixes?”
“I have no choice,” Dumbledore said gravely, peering over the rim of his glasses. “We must face them. It is time for our first big show.”
Minerva gasped. She had seen the magic and the magnetism that Tom possessed and was terribly afraid. Dumbledore turned to her.
“I need you to pass Tom a message,” he said. “Tell him the Order challenges the Soul Breakers to a battle of the bands. We will duel tomorrow, at noon.”
“I will tell him,” she whispered and slipped out of the room. Tom was waiting for her this time, his bike hot and purring and she shook her head at his invitation. “Dumbledore challenges you to a battle,” she told Tom as he slipped an arm around her shoulders. “Don’t go!”
He laughed. “Are you scared for me, doll? Don’t be. I will crush him, because he cannot stand in the way of my plot to take over the world. You have to be there. I want him to know I have corrupted you before I wipe the stage with him!”
“Oh,” Minerva cried suddenly, clutching at his jacket. “Ride off on your motorcycle, Tom. Ride into the sunset. I could not bear for you to be hurt,” she added in a whisper, feeling ashamed as the words left her lips. She had vowed to help the Order but she could not deny the power Tom Riddle still had over her.
He laughed again and kissed her. “Don’t worry about me, precious. Just tell your Professor we will be there.”
With that, Tom rode away, revving the engine as he tore down the street, and Minerva turned and trudged back to Hogwarts, heartsore and sorrowful.
At noon the following day Minerva walked alone to Hogsmeade, to the designated location for the battle. She gripped her wand tightly although she was not expecting any danger on the way, knowing Dumbledore and the Order were somewhere nearby. The village was deserted, as if the townspeople knew what was to occur and had purposefully stayed indoors. No sound lingered in the empty streets, no whisper echoed from behind windowpanes and no curtains twitched.
In the street outside where Minerva had first heard Tom’s music, she waited. As the great clock above the street struck twelve the air was filled with the sounds of apparition, and Tom and his band, along with his Death Eaters, appeared in the village. Tom acknowledged Minerva with a nod and a wink, and moments later, the Order materialised.
Two stages had been set up across from one another and it was here that the bands would fight it out. Tom and the Soul Breakers were already waiting, in position behind instruments and microphones. Minerva stood trembling, her cheeks hot, as slowly the Order moved to take up their instruments. Tom nodded, his eyes on Dumbledore, who nodded in return. Minerva unwound the scarf from around her neck and moved into the middle of the vacant space between the stages. She felt the piercing glare of Bella and the other Death Eaters as she lifted her arms high, the scarf dangling from her fingers.
“Play!” she call, bringing her arm down in a swift motion.
The music swelled, and Minerva found herself dancing. She kicked her legs, shimmied her hips, swung from side to side and twirled around. Faster and faster the music went; she could see beads of sweat on Tom’s face as he sang, his lips moving furiously. The Order held their ground, and the music that rose from their instruments was like a choir of heaven, and Dumbledore was an angel. Light shone from his face and he swept his hand through the air, a signal, and the Order played harder, faster and the Soul Breakers could not keep pace. A guitar string snapped, the rhythm faltered and then, they stopped playing.
Only Tom kept singing, his voice harsh from use.
“It is over, Tom,” Dumbledore said softly.
Tom threw down his microphone and leap across the stage, wrapping his arm around Minerva’s waist and pulling her close.
“I cannot come with you,” she said to his unasked question. “I’m sorry, Tom.”
“To live forever, Minerva,” he whispered soothingly. “That is what it is all about – to be immortal.”
“But Tom, that goes against the laws of nature,” she argued. “Stop this madness.”
He laughed. “What are the laws of nature to a cat like myself?”
“You cannot play God, Tom,” Dumbledore said calmly. “I will not allow it. You can warp the minds of everyone around you, murder and torture those who do not believe in your world order, but I will not allow you to play God. I will stop you, eventually; or if not me, a boy who is destined to be your end.”
“What are you raving about old man?” Tom laughed. “You will never defeat me. Your Order will never out-perform us.”
“Oh but we have, Tom. Here, today. We showed we were better,” Dumbledore replied.
“We will be back, Dumbledore. Don’t think you can stop the music!” Tom said smoothly. With that, Tom Riddle and the Soul Breakers vanished, the air filled with the sound of apparition. Bella gave Minerva one final menacing glare before she and the rest of the Death Eater’s disappeared also.
Minerva stood and stared at the empty stage, a strange sense of loss rising up inside of her. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad, to go with them. Sure, they were insane, but Tom...
Someone touched her arm and she turned to see Dumbledore smiling at her. “It is the right thing, Minerva.”
“I know, I know,” she said, “but what will happen now?”
“Oh, I do not doubt Tom Riddle for one moment. He will be back with new songs,” Dumbledore answered. “Minerva, we have been talking, and we would like for you to join us in The Order. You are smart enough to know we are more than just a band, even if we are rather good.” In his hand appeared a small stick-on tattoo. It was the phoenix Minerva had asked Tom for.
Shaking, she took it, immediately trying to work out where to put it.
Right. There you have it. My (second) attempt to be funny!! I had no intention for this to be so long so for those who made it to the end, thank you and congratulations! You truly deserve a medal.
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