Chapter 8 : Tom Riddle
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Severus was the first to wake every morning without fail. The temperature was coldest in the morning, but the day warmed gradually as the sun burned through the clouds. The first snowfall had come the morning after Sirius’s arrival—the first day. Severus considered it a bad omen. By mid-morning, though, the light dusting of snow had melted. The snow hadn’t returned since, but thick frost coated the ground usually until noon. Today was no different, except the sky was cloudier. Maybe it would snow later.
Lily was the second to wake. Sometimes Severus would have an entire hour before this happened. He never started breakfast without her. On the second and fifth days he had gone for a walk through the woods. But this morning it was chilly, and the tent was cozy—so he consented to watch Lily sleep. And ignore the urge to kill Sirius in his sleep.
When Lily opened her eyes and yawned, Severus lied and told her he had just woken up. Today it had only been about twenty minutes. Then they ate breakfast as Sirius often slept for two more hours after that. Lily giggled every time he snored, or mumbled things in his sleep—always nonsensical things. Today it was something about Quaffles and goblins, though Severus missed the finer points. He didn’t even want to know what Sirius’s dreams were about.
“Should we wake him?” Lily asked, smiling fondly at Sirius as he muttered something and rolled over.
“No,” Severus replied quickly. Sirius was bad enough when he was unconscious.
Lily smiled patiently. “Can’t you be the bigger person and at least try to get along?”
He grimaced. “I’d rather not.”
Sighing, she pulled out the List. She had started making it on the third day. It was essentially a list of all the possible places Horcruxes could be, which meant anywhere and everywhere. Accomplishing nothing and completely redundant, the List was basically a written-out copy of the Map. But it gave Lily something to put her time and effort into.
She, as always, worked on the List until Sirius woke up and crawled across the tent to eat breakfast. Severus prepared himself for what would inevitably happen next. Sirius, having consumed food and raised his blood sugar so he was no longer a lethargic zombie, would pick a fight with Severus—about something insignificant—who would gladly comply, and both would burn off some spare energy in the process. Lily would eventually get them to stop, but after lunch they would reprise their argument. Then they would go to the next spot on the List, set up camp, have something for dinner, and get ready to do the same thing tomorrow.
Severus saw Sirius sniff the air and wrinkle his nose. And so it always began…
“Is that you, Snivelly? I thought something’d died.”
“Guys…” Lily said warningly, not looking up from her work. As usual, she was ignored.
“We will all die if you keep eating all our food,” Severus said as Sirius poured cereal directly from the box into his mouth.
“He’s got a point,” Lily said quietly.
Severus was caught off-guard. She never took sides in their frivolous quarrels. She claimed to be “above” them.
“What, you’re taking his side?” Sirius blurted, spewing bits of cereal.
“I’m not taking anyone’s side…”
“Sure sounded like you were,” Sirius grumbled.
“What’s wrong with her taking my side, anyway?” Severus challenged.
“I told you, I’m not—” Lily began.
“Because you’re…” Sirius seemed stumped. “You’re… wrong.”
“How am I wrong?” Severus asked. “You are eating all our food. That’s just a fact.”
“What’s the big deal? I’ll conjure some more.”
“You can’t conjure food!” Severus said in exasperation.
Sirius rolled his eyes. “I know. Can’t you take a joke?”
“That wasn’t very funny…”
“It wasn’t supposed to be funny.”
“You said it was a joke! Jokes are supposed to be funny!”
“Shut up!” Lily said suddenly.
Severus and Sirius turned to her in surprise.
“Seriously—stop,” she continued. “Your stupid arguments really aren’t helping anything.”
“What else are we supposed to do?” Sirius said. “I mean, I don’t see why we don’t just get a couple hotel rooms at this rate. This is not a Horcrux Hunt! However the hell you found the first two, I don’t really care. But we’re not going to find any more by just sitting around until we all want to kill each other.”
Severus was torn between agreeing with what Sirius had said, and wanted to punch him again for saying that to Lily. Maybe he could do both.
“Fine, then, you can leave.” Lily’s eyes flashed. “We were doing a lot better before you came along.”
“Right, this is my fault.” Sirius’s voice was thick with sarcasm. “Of course it is. And, you know what, maybe I will leave. I could probably find the other four.”
“And how exactly would you do that?” she demanded.
“Well, for starters, I wouldn’t just sit around in a tent all day staring at a map.”
Lily moved so quickly that no one had much time to react. Severus saw a stream of light rush past his nose and it smacked into Sirius, knocking him backward. Then Lily had rolled up the map in question and was using it to whack Sirius’s head and face repeatedly. He flailed his arms, trying to fend her off. Lily still hadn’t backed down when Severus reluctantly decided to interfere. He started by verbally dissuading her—to no avail. She had Sirius pinned down and was walloping him with increasing enthusiasm. Severus crossed the tent and confiscated the now-crumpled and torn map, her makeshift weapon, and grabbed her wrists. She struggled against him.
“What the hell, Lily?” Sirius sat up. His face was sprinkled with a few scattered slices—paper-cuts. “I have a paper-cut on my eye. On my eye!”
“That’s your eyelid. There’s a difference. Let me go,” she said to Severus, as she tried to squirm out of his grasp.
“I don’t think so,” he said.
“Why not?” she asked. “You don’t care if Sirius gets beat up a little.”
“Admittedly, I think he deserves it,” Severus said. “But… I also think he has a point.”
“What?” Lily and Sirius said in unison, sounding equally confused.
Severus drew in a deep breath, and retained his grip on Lily’s wrists. “We’re not getting anything done, and if we keep going on like this, we’ll never find the other Horcruxes.”
She narrowed her eyes at him. “What would you suggest?” Her voice was icy.
Severus knew there was only one thing to do—one only person that could help. “We have to go to Hogwarts.”
* * *
“Back so soon?” Dumbledore said as Lily, Severus and Sirius entered his office.
“Yes,” Lily answered. “We’ve sort of… hit a wall. We got two Horcruxes and we know how to destroy them now, but—”
“Wait, wait,” Dumbledore interrupted. “Slow down. You have two Horcruxes? And you know how to destroy them?”
“Severus found another one. It was Voldemort’s diary,” Lily explained briefly.
“His… diary?” Dumbledore repeated skeptically. “Where was it? It is actually a Horcrux, right?”
“It was at the Malfoy’s,” said Severus. “And it is definitely a Horcrux. Or, was a Horcrux. It isn’t anymore. I killed it.”
“With Fiendfyre,” Sirius cut in. “My idea. I used it on the ring first.”
Dumbledore chuckled, seeming quite overwhelmed. “Well, it seems you’re doing just fine on your own. I don’t see why you need me.”
“No, we do,” Lily insisted. “We don’t know what to do next—where to go. If you could just give us a good lead… point us in the right direction…”
Dumbledore appeared deep in thought as he rubbed his bearded chin. “I do have one idea…”
Lily’s face brightened. An idea was all she needed.
“I can’t guarantee anything, though.”
She nodded, urging him to continue.
“Voldemort, or Tom Riddle, grew up in an orphanage. The building is in ruins now, but I think if were to go there… you might find something. It certainly couldn’t hurt.”
Lily felt the excitement rising as Dumbledore explained where the orphanage was and how this was the first place where he had met Tom Riddle when he was a young boy. This was unsettling to Lily—she had never thought about Voldemort having been a child. It was unfathomable.
“Oh, and Sirius,” Dumbledore said when he was done with his story. “Your week is nearly up.”
Sirius nodded solemnly. “I’ll, uh… finish up with him then take him to the Ministry.”
Dumbledore sighed heavily and dismissed them from his office. Lily and Severus followed as Sirius led them across the castle and into a tall, narrow tower. They ascended the tight spiral stairs and climbed through the trapdoor. Lily came up behind Sirius with Severus behind her. The room was small, dark and windowless. Severus lit his wand, illuminating the close confines.
Lily jumped back when she saw what—or who—was in the room, only a few feet away from her. Slumped against the wall was Peter Pettigrew. His beady eyes were fixed on them, but he remained otherwise motionless. Lily stayed at the back of the room near Severus, while Sirius approached Peter. Peter stared at the wall determinedly, just past Sirius who crouched down beside him.
Lily bit her lip nervously as she looked on. Severus’s wand-light was unsteady as he fidgeted in clear discomfort. Meanwhile, Sirius exhaled slowly and glanced down at the wand in his hands. After a moment, he stood up and took a step away, still watching Peter intently. Twirling his wand in his fingers, he cleared his throat.
“How’re things at Hogwarts? Glad to be back?”
Peter didn’t respond; he stared across the room unblinkingly. Lily found it rather unnerving.
“I’ll take it you’re not having such a good time,” Sirius said. “But no worries—I’ll take you down to the Ministry tonight. You’ll be in Azkaban before you know it. I’m sure it will be much more… suited to you.”
Still no reaction from Peter.
Sirius clucked his tongue disapprovingly. “Why does it seem like I’m always the one doing all the talking? Say something.”
Peter’s mouth remained firmly shut.
“Say something,” Sirius repeated, more agitation in his voice. He kicked his foot at Peter. “Say something!” He kicked harder. “Move, at least! What’s the matter with you?” Harder still… “Look at me!”
Peter glanced up, wide-eyed, at Sirius’s outburst. “Leave me alone!” he said with surprising strength.
Lily saw Sirius’s cruel smile even in the dim light.
“Well, I can’t do that, Wormtail.” He crouched down again. “Now that I’ve got you talking… there’s some information I need to get from you.”
Peter was shaking his head. “I don’t know anything… you know I—”
“Where are Voldemort’s Horcruxes?” Sirius demanded, his wand pressed into Peter’s chest.
“Horcruxes? I don’t—”
Peter’s body convulsed suddenly, like from an electric shock. He gasped and slid farther down the wall, trembling violently.
“Sirius, please, I—”
“Let’s try this again,” Sirius said maliciously. “Where are Voldemort’s Horcruxes?”
“Please, I don’t know anything about—”
This time the convulsion was accompanied by a faint zapping sound Lily hadn’t heard the first time. She shuddered, backing up farther and bumping into Severus. He was wearing a grim expression.
It went on like that for a while.
“Where are they?”
“I don’t know, please—”
“Where are they?”
“Sirius, I swear, I—”
Peter had soon been reduced to a crumpled, sobbing heap on the floor, and Sirius’s voice was growing increasingly desperate. Lily could stand it no longer when Sirius threatened the Cruciatus Curse.
“Sirius, stop,” she said shakily.
He spun around, his wand gripped tightly in his hand. “Lily, he—”
“He doesn’t know anything,” she continued. “It’s hopeless. Take him to the Ministry.”
Sirius nodded slowly. “You’re right… I’m—I’m sorry… I’ll take him now.” He put a quick body-bind on the defenseless Peter and floated him out of the tower and down the stairs ahead of Lily and Severus. They passed a couple wandering students on the way out of the castle. They stared at their Potions professor, probably wondering if his mysterious “leave of absence” was related to the vicious-looking young man and the frozen, levitated, beat-up man a ways ahead of him and Lily. The kids would gawk for a moment before scurrying away. Lily heard at least three of them say, “Was that Professor Snape?”
Severus didn’t react to any of this.
“Sorry you have to be away from your job,” Lily said.
It seemed to take him a moment to realize what she was talking about. “Oh, it’s fine. Really. I don’t particularly like teaching…”
One teenage boy down the hall from them said, much too loudly, “Oh bloody hell—looks like Snape’s back. I’d hoped he’d died.”
Lily tried not to smile and it almost looked like Severus was doing the same.
“I’m not especially fond of children, either,” he added.
They both started laughing, garnering even more stares. Lily wondered if the students had ever seen Severus smile…
A/N: Some comic relief at the end of a chapter that largely focuses on a lot of people getting beat up… Rate and review please!! Next chapter is Lily POV. –Jenni
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