I don't own anything you recognise from the Harry Potter books - all the credit to those goes to JK Rowling. Anything you don't recognise came from my imagination.
I've finally updated! I know it's been - what, a year? - since I posted the prologue to this chapter, but I honestly just get so distracted and caught up in my own life, I just haven't had the time to come on here. So I'm really sorry to those of you who read the beginning of this story a year ago, liked it, and never saw any updates.
I always say that I will definitely update soon, but I can't make any promises. I had already written out this chapter immediately after I wrote the prologue, but I hadn't posted it. I have re-written it however, and hopefully my writing skills have improved since I wrote the original, and I think it's more full and in-depth than it was before. Anyway, I really hope you enjoy this chapter, as I have really enjoyed writing it. :)
Don't forget to review! Anything is appreciated - especially compliments and advise!
During the course of the week that followed her initial meeting with him, Celestina encountered Tom Riddle on only three separate occasions. During only one of these occasions, did the pair exchange words. This infuriated Celestina, as she was not used to being ignored. She was fascinated by the mysterious young man. In her eyes, he was a perfect new recruit for her gang. He was strong-minded, independent, secretive and interested in the dark arts, much like herself. She eventually decided that she would, in a sense, stalk Tom Riddle. She would send her minions to follow him about the castle, keeping track of his actions and schedule. This way, she would know the opportune moment to hunt him down and persuade him to join her group. He had so much potential, in fact, that she was considering making him a sort of Deputy Leader, after herself.
The first time she had seen Tom Riddle again, occurred the next morning. Celestina was slumped across her desk, enduring a painfully dull Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson, taught by Professor Merrythought. Professor Merrythought was an aging witch who had once been an auror in her prime. Contrary to her surname, Professor Merrythought was a somewhat bitter lady. She had retired from her job as an auror after sustaining a particularly restricting injury, which had left her incapable of continuing her career. Consequently, she had resorted to taking up the post of the Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts. Due to her previous career, Merrythought was somewhat prejudiced against the students of Slytherin house, and therefore often enjoyed humiliating them.
On this particularly breezy day, the class had been studying Dementors – dark creatures which guarded the wizarding prison, Azkaban. They were well-known for their 'kiss' which, contrary to it's name, was not pleasant in the slightest. It sucked out the victim's soul.
Celestina had not been paying attention, and had switched off after a mere ten minutes of the lesson. She had begun to sketch diagrams of possible Quidditch strategies in the back of her textbook.
Celestina was an avid Quidditch fan. She was extremely passionate about the sport and had been a member of the Slytherin Quidditch team since her second year at Hogwarts. She played the position of the Keeper and had always aspired to one day gain captaincy. Therefore, she had been positively thrilled when she had received a letter containing the captain's badge over the Summer! Celestina loved being in control. She hated to be ordered around and had despised the previous captain for this reason. She was a leader, not a follower.
“Perhaps Miss Marsden could explain the purpose to us?” Merrythought's voice broke into Celestina's mind, which had been focused on the half-finished sketch before her. She hastily closed her textbook and glanced up, only to see Merrythought and the rest of the class peering at her expectantly. She hadn't a clue what the question had been.
“Er, the purpose?” She faltered. The purpose of what?! “Well, I – I suppose...”
Merrythought didn't wait for Celestina to guess at an answer.
“Marsden, I suggest in future you pay attention in class rather than deface your textbooks,” Merrythought drawled, “Twenty points from Slytherin. Now let's see. Who is actually capable of answering the question? Ah, Mr Riddle, go on...”
Celestina spun around so quickly that she nearly fell off her chair. Tom Riddle shared classes with her? Since when, exactly? She was sure she had never noticed him before. Yet sure enough, the handsome, mysterious young man she had met the previous evening was seated directly two desks behind her, leaning back lazily on his seat, a smirk spreading across his striking features.
“The purpose of a patronus, Professor, is that it is the one thing that will prevent a dementor from sucking the soul out of your body. The patronus works as a shield against creatures such as the dementor, as mentioned, and others – including lethifolds.”
“Correct,” Merrythought said, “therefore, it is important that each and everyone witch and wizard learns to produce their own patronus. It is a complex piece of magic, very advanced. It takes practice, and hard work. The caster must concentrate on happy memories in order to produce a successful patronus. Now, turn to page 364 if you please. You are to spend the remainder of the lesson beginning the following essay. What you fail to complete must be finished as homework, and handed in for the next lesson. No excuses.”
Merrythought flicked her wand, and the title of the essay appeared on the blackboard. Celestina turned to look at Tom Riddle. She had honestly had no idea that they shared lessons. It wasn't unusual, however, as Celestina preferred to keep to herself, and did not take much notice of her fellow classmates. She was very particular about the people she associated herself with. Of course, she had to associate with the different, and sometimes challenging, personalities of her Quidditch team, however besides Quidditch, she had only three friends: Josie Pritchard, Cassandra Baddock, and Evan Rosier.
Josie and Celestina had known one another since they had been young children. Celestina's father had worked closely with Josie's father at the Ministry of Magic, and they had often visited one another's house as young children, forming a close friendship.
Celestina's father had been a great wizard. Unfortunately for him, he had gotten involved with young muggle woman. She had fallen pregnant with Celestina. Fearing the knowledge of his magic would put a strain on the mother of his child, he waited until after the birth to confide in her. She had left immediately, unable to accept the news, and abandoned baby Celestina. Her father had always denied allegations of Celestina's mother being anything less than a half-blood, as it would lower his social status in the wizarding world. He was a respected pure-blooded wizard.
Celestina and Josie had met Cassandra Baddock during their first year at Hogwarts. The three of them quickly became friends. Celestina was the leader of the girl gang. The other two followed behind, almost worshipping her, and taking orders obediently. When Celestina made the Quidditch team during her second year, she formed a friendship with Evan Rosier – the only other second year to join the team. Evan was a little more difficult than Josie or Cassandra, and would not take Celestina's orders sitting down. Celestina had been forced to modify her tactics when she wanted Evan to do something for her. She tried asking him, at first. Sometimes it worked, if he was in a good mood. If not, she would try ordering him to do it. That rarely worked. He was not fond of being ordered around by a girl. So Celestina resorted to threatening and blackmailing him. It wasn't pretty, but it had to be done. She had never used anything serious against him – she usually just threatened to spread his secrets around the school, or humiliate him. But it worked.
As she studied Tom Riddle, she wondered, not for the first time, who he was friends with. He had mentioned the previous evening, that he did not class Avery as a friend. Now, he was sat alone. And staring straight back at her. Realising he had noticed her, Celestina smiled at him. Riddle did not return it.
The second time Celestina noticed Tom Riddle occurred in the library, two days after the first. It was around sunset, and the library was due to close at any moment. Celestina had almost forgotten to return her borrowed copy of 'An Anthology of Eighteenth Century Charms' and had hurriedly run to the library before it closed, when she stumbled across an extremely frustrated and irritable looking Tom Riddle. He was storming down aisle after aisle, pulling books at random from their shelves and shoving them back into their place forcefully. Celestina did not stop to chat.
On the third occasion, seven days after they had initially met, she found him sitting alone by the fire in the common room. It was eleven o'clock in the evening, and all but a few students had retired to their dormitories. Celestina had stumbled into the common room, muddy and wet from a gruelling Quidditch practise.
She had decided to keep the same team as the year before – including Avery – however, she was starting to deeply regret this decision as the team just could not agree on anything or work together. Calling the practise to an end, she asked the team members to think up strategies and develop some team-building skills for the next practise. She had even considered basing the next practise on team-building exercises.
After such a disastrous practise, she couldn't quite face returning to the common room with the others. Evan had offered to stay behind to practise moves with her, but she had told him she would rather practise them alone – not much of a team spirit comment on her part, but she was in a foul mood.
Now, as she dripped mud onto the deep green carpet, she wished for nothing more than a warm bath, a glass of elderflower wine, and bed. However, the sight of Tom Riddle, hunched over a battered old book, with a look of deep concentration on his face, intrigued Celestina. Discarding the idea of a bath, she squelched over toward the fire – and him – and let her tired, aching bones collapse onto the armchair nearest to him.
He didn't look up when she threw her broomstick to the floor, nor when she untied her boots and breathed a loud sigh of relief as her feet were released.
She leant back in the comfortable dragon hide chair and watched him closely for a few minutes. His fine features were creased in a puzzled manner, as his eyes shot across the page like a snitch flitting through the sky, his mouth forming silent words as he read.
As she pulled off her sodden Quidditch gloves, she spoke softly,
“You look troubled, Tom. Anything I can help you with?”
He looked up, seemingly surprised at her presence, but quickly rearranged his features.
“No,” he replied slowly, running his eyes deliberately up and down her body. She felt curiously aware of the amount of mud and sweat caked over her frame. She felt a warm flush creeping to her face. She forced it away. “I prefer to do things by myself. How was your... ah, Quidditch practice?”
“Awful,” she replied, “Avery kept causing arguments with Sawyer, and then Sawyer took it out on the game. No one was working as a team. It was a disaster.”
“I see,” Tom murmured, but Celestina had a feeling he wasn't really interested. Confirming her suspicions, he reverted his attention to his book once more.
They sat like that in silence for a while, listening to the flickering of the fire, before Tom spoke again.
“Have you ever heard of the Philospher's Stone, Celestina?”
Her name fluttered off his tongue softly, with a sort of elegance and emphasis on each syllable. It caused a tingle to creep up her spine.
“I believe so,” she replied curiously, “it's a stone that provides the owner immortal life, is it not?”
“Yes,” he responded with the faintest flicker of a smile, the corners of his mouth turned up slightly, “it contains the elixir of life, which, when taken correctly, grants the drinker immortality.”
He was silent for a moment. Celestina was unsure of what to say. She could of sworn she could see a glimmer of something wild in his eyes, and a look of excitement crossed his face.
“Can you imagine,” his words gushed out, wonderous, “being able to live forever?”
He did not wait for an answer.
“Think of all the things you could accomplish. You could discover all the secrets and wonders of the world!”
“But you'd have to depend on the elixir of life,” Celestina reminded him slowly, not wanting to see the excitement on his face disappear. But she had to make him see sense, reality. “There would always be the worry of it running out, it would always be on your mind. And what if it became contaminated? What would the drinker do then? He die, like any other man.”
“He would then have to depend on the blood of a unicorn, of course.” Tom answered wisely. He had clearly given the subject a lot of thought. She repeated his words.
“The blood of a unicorn?”
I'm hoping to actually get somewhere with this story before this year is out however I really can't make any promises as I work 45 hours per week, and when I'm not in work I'm either at university or studying, so I may be strapped for time to update! I'm thinking of setting to work on the next chapter around Easter so keep checking back :-)