When Tom returned to his room later that morning, he was surprised to see a flash of bright red on his bed, where it stood out in stark contrast with the green and black of the sheets. Wondering what it could be, he walked to his bed and was slightly amused to see that it was just a ribbon, tied to a roll of parchment. In that case, it would just be an invitation from Slughorn. They were always tied with ribbons, though usually in black. Maybe it was a special occasion of some sort.
He pulled the ribbon off and cast it aside disdainfully, then opened the scroll and scanned the contents. He had to read it twice before he realized what it was saying.
But why on earth was Amaya Fitz writing to him? And that too, why a letter like this? He had gotten love notes before, of course, slipped into his books or sent by an owl. But never before had someone sent him a letter to ask how he was. If she had wanted so ask such a mundane question, why not just ask it in person? Why take the time and effort to write a letter and leave it on his bed? It didn’t make sense.
From what he knew of Amaya, she was quieter than the others, preferring to sit on the side with that friend of hers. Anabel, that was her name. Really, that was all he knew about her, surprisingly. He supposed she was shy, but she had spoken to him in the past, so he didn’t see why she couldn’t ask him the most mundane of questions in person.
Tom wrinkled his brow in confusion, then unfurled it. He hated not knowing something, anything. Tossing the letter into the rubbish bin, he resolved not to think of it any longer. Amaya Fitz could come talk to him in person if she cared that much, and he had more important things to do anyway.
He had to decide on his first victim.
“Hold on. You wrote him a letter and didn’t see fit to tell me until now!”
Amaya and Anabel sat at the back of Charms class, Amaya filling Anabel in on what she had done the previous evening amidst the croaks of toads. The class was learning silencing charms today, which was in fact the perfect cover for a conversation.
“Well, you got back to the dorm late last night, and with the corridor incident this morning, I didn’t really think of it until now,” Amaya replied.
“That’s no excuse. And you wrote him a letter?”
“Yes, I just said that,” Amaya said impatiently. “Do you think he found it though?”
“You’re failing to understand my point. Why did you write him a letter?”
“Because it’s impossible to get a word in when he’s surrounded by his little posse. I had to stand out from the crowd somehow. I answered your question, now answer mine.”
“He may have. I daresay it’s been a busy morning for him as well. Has he looked at you strangely?”
“He hasn’t looked at me at all.”
“Then maybe he’s avoiding your gaze.”
“But he never looks at me.”
“Fitz! Davies! Do you two think your conversation is more important than mastering a silencing charm?” Professor Sherry said angrily, looming over their table.
“No, not at all, Professor. We’re sorry.” Amaya said politely.
“Are you really? Let’s see your silencing charm then!”
“Er, okay.” Amaya turned to the croaking toad in front of her, concentrated, and jabbed it with her wand. “Silencio!” The toad responded by leaping onto her shoulder and croaking even louder.
Amaya flinched instinctively and let out a small scream, causing Professor Sherry to jump.
“Goodness, Fitz, there was no need to let out such a yell. It’s just a toad, and it wouldn’t have done that if you knew the charm. Five points from Slytherin,” she finished, storming off to another table.
Amaya and Anabel looked at each other for a moment, then burst out laughing simultaneously.
“Just don’t worry about Tom,” Anabel said finally. “If he doesn’t say anything to you, you can start again. If he does, the worst he can say is that it was a stupid gesture.”
“I suppose you’re right. I suppose I better master this charm so I can use it on him if he tells me that,” she said with a giggle. “Silencio!”
And to her utter surprise, the toad fell silent mid croak.
Tom Riddle was in a broom closet. It was hot. It was congested. He couldn’t understand why he found students in here so often while he was on patrols. There must be some other place they could snog.
But unfortunately for him, it was about the most private place he could get to talk to the basilisk.
Tom pressed his ear up against the wall and tried to reach out to the basilisk with his mind. He wasn’t sure they had a telepathic connection, but he felt like they did. It would make sense, in any case, that they’d have a mental link of some sort. He waited for a few minutes, but he heard nothing, so he resorted to plan B.
“Come to me,” he hissed, speaking in Parseltongue. He waited again, but this time, he began to hear a slithering noise, followed by soft words.
“So hungry. So hungry. Rip, tear, kill…”
“Right then,” Tom muttered, realizing that it appeared as though he was talking to a wall and beginning to speak faster. “I have your first victim. Her name is Christina deBricki. And you somehow know who that is?”
“I see inside your mind.”
“Then why didn’t you come when I called?”
“I cannot see words. Only pictures.”
“All right. Good to know. So that’s all I have to do, then?”
“Yes. I will take care of the rest. So hungry! Unlesss, you want to tell people what you have done.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“You can give them a message. You must think about how you will do that. And one more thing.”
“Kill the roosters of his school. Their cry will kill me.”
“Right. So about leaving a message-”
“I cannot help with that…you must find the answer yourself.”
“How will I know when you’ve killed her?”
“You will feel it. You will feel my joy in your mind. I must go now, Master.”
And with that, it was off; taking with it a pressure on Tom’s mind that he hadn’t realized was there. He slumped against the wall of the closet, confused in some respects and not as excited as he thought he would be. Kill the roosters? How the hell was he supposed to do that? And leaving a message?
Tom decided not to leave any kind of a message until his second attack. Let the school be in chaos, wondering what had happened. Let them guess, each guess wilder than the last. He would pretend to be just as scared as the rest. And after, he would hit them with another attack and scare them even more by telling them why it happened.
He opened the broom cupboard and looked left and right, making sure the hallway was empty before proceeding into the hall and out of sight.
f there was ever a time Amaya wanted to talk to Anabel, it was now. And of course, this was the one time that Anabel decided to sleep in on a Saturday. Usually, Anabel was up at the crack of dawn no matter what day it was, and shaking Amaya wake just ten minutes later. But the one day Amaya actually wanted to have Anabel’s advice, she was snoring. Amaya didn’t particularly want to wake her, but it wasn’t as if Anabel had ever felt the same about her.
Sighing, she walked to the bed and shook Anabel’s arm.
“Wake up!” she whispered in her ear. Anabel didn’t even flinch. “Wake up,” she repeated. Still nothing. Fine then. She didn’t need Anabel. And if she ended up making the stupidest decision of her life, well, at least she’d have someone to blame.
Amaya went to her own bed, where a letter lay, already written. For once, she didn’t have several drafts lying crumpled nearby, and it was the shortest letter she had ever written. If anyone else saw it, they’d wonder why in the world she was worrying about an event so far in the future, but they didn’t know Amaya’s family. They would throw a fit when they saw the note, and it would take her that long to convince them.
She picked it up and read it quickly.
I won’t be coming home for Christmas this year.
She gave a small smile, wishing she could see her parent’s reactions when they read it. Her mother would probably tear it in two before writing her a lengthy letter of why that wouldn’t be happening. Her father, on the other hand, would simply laugh and say that she must be joking because there was no possible way she could be telling the truth. Oh, she would kill to see their faces. The letters back would be equally amusing, however. They’d try to tell her that Christmas was a time for family and that they missed her.
t was just a thinly veiled mask of their true shock, which was that she had disobeyed them directly. They couldn’t believe she would do such a thing. They couldn’t stand being disobeyed, even for something as small as this, so they’d tried to hide with excuses, but she knew them better than that. They had to be the authority, but she was fifteen now. She could make her own decisions.
Amaya turned to leave the dormitory, casting one last look at Anabel’s bed, but she was still sleeping. She closed the door quietly behind her and walked into the deserted common room. Not even the fire burned in the abandoned hearth, making it even colder and darker than usual. She crossed her arms over her jumper and hurried out through the wall.
Not that the dungeons were any warmer. She supposed that fall was finally arriving, as much as she wished it wasn’t so. Frost would be appearing on the grass soon, and then snow. The first Hogsmeade visit would be soon, and that was always fun. Anabel and her usually went together and spent their time on the backstreets of the town, in the lesser known and less busy areas. They’d shop at cute little boutiques and eat at teahouses, far from the crowds in the Three Broomsticks.
As Amaya began to ascend the stairs, still not getting much warmer, she noticed a strange, hissing noise in the walls, but didn’t pay attention to it at all. It was probably just the water in the pipes. She was rarely out this early. That sound was sometimes there in Potions, if the room fell silent. Slughorn always said it was just the fires, so it was probably the same thing here.
Potions was going to be freezing from here on out. Every now and then, they’d just take notes instead of brewing a potion, and those days were the worst. With no fires to warm the room, even slightly, their fingers froze around their quills and their noses turned bright red. Even Slughorn would don a jacket on those days.
As she passed the entrance hall, Amaya thought about going to see if breakfast was ready yet. A bit of tea would warm her up, at the very least. But no, if she went to eat right now, her resolve would disappear and she’d end up being too afraid to send the letter. She had to get the owl out while she was still in a rebellious mood, and couldn’t stop herself until it was too late.
Amaya wanted to stay back at Christmas for so many reasons. Tom was always here at Christmas, for one, though most of his admirers left. And when you’re the only two fifth years in the Slytherin common room, you’re bound to talk a little. She also wouldn’t have to attend all the parties her parents forced her to go to. She hated getting all dressed up and standing around in some huge room while the adults all drank firewhiskey and mead and danced until two in the morning. There were rarely any boys her age there, and she never wanted to dance with any that were. She’d be glad to escape that for a year.
And thirdly, she just wanted to do something different. She was tired of being the good little girl and doing everything her parents asked her to. She didn’t want to be like that anymore. She didn’t care about anything they talked about, and she usually spent her time in her room, writing letters to Anabel. It was time she did something different for Christmas.
Lost in her thoughts, Amaya didn’t see the crying first year as she passed her in the hallway.
She heard her.
Amaya snapped out of her reverie to see a small girl with mousy brown hair kneeling on the ground and crying over and unseen object. She didn’t particularly want to spend her morning dealing with crying girls, but her conscience got the better of her and she went over to her.
“Are you o-” Amaya cut off mid-sentence when she saw what the girl was crying over, instead letting out a shrill scream.
“Professors! PROFESSORS! S-SOMETHING HAPPENED!” she screamed, backing away from it. Within seconds, she could hear pounding footsteps and the bright red hair of Professor Dumbledore came into view.
“Ms. Fitz, what’s all the racket about!” he panted. In answer, Amaya simply pointed at the crying girl and what lay in front of her. Dumbledore strode forward, nudging the girl to the side and dropping to his knees.
“Oh, dear. Oh my goodness.” He knelt closer to it, his half-moon spectacles barely an inch away and studied it for a few minutes. Then he stood up, revealing the body of a small girl, no older than third year. She was absolutely still. In her hand, she held a camera, the lens pressed against her face.
Dumbledore turned to the crying first year. “Did you just come across her?” he asked kindly.
“Y-Yes. Just a minute ago. I was on my way up to the-the library,” she answered, hiccupping.
“Do you know this girl?”
“She’s…She’s my sister!” The girl burst out into tears once more.
“Yes, that’s right, you’re Susan deBricki, aren’t you? Why don’t you run off to the Hospital Wing and get yourself a calming draft while I have a chat with Ms. Fitz.”
The girl nodded, then ran off, her eyes still wide in fear.
“I-Is she dead, Sir?” Amaya said after a moment, finally finding her voice again.
“It appears so, but I can’t be certain…yet,” he answered, coming towards her.
“What happened to her?”
“I don’t know. Tell me, Fitz, have you seen or heard anything strange today? Anything out of place?”
“No, not at all, Sir. I was just on my way up to the Owlery.” As she said that, Amaya realized that she no longer had her note. She must have dropped it when she screamed, and it must have been carried away by the wind. She found that she didn’t care much anymore either, her spirit from the morning evaporating.
“And you just came across the two girls?”
“Very well. You are free to go, Ms. Fitz.”
“Thank you.” Thoroughly shaken, Amaya turned away and began stumbling back downstairs. By the time she was back in the dungeons, a few people sat in the common room, but the fire was still quiet and the room still dark. She went back to her dormitory and crawled back into bed, not wanting to think about what she witnessed.
Only to be woken ten minutes later by a very eager Anabel.
A/N: Ah, guys, I am SO SO sorry for virtually abandoning this for a few months. I scrapped the chapter about fifteen times, and I’ve been museless for ages. I haven’t written anything. Even now, I’m not entirely happy with this chapter. *sigh* But on the bright side, I had an all-night writing spree when I wrote this and got the next chapter done as well :D After that, I really don’t know about the updates, since I’m going to do NaNoWriMo this year, but hopefully two chapters will hold until the end of November! I’ve been editing the first chapters though, since the first couple were awful, and I’ve added a few more subplots coming up…I like my plot a lot more now, thankfully. It’s currently looking like this is going to be 20-22 chapters, but I may add a few more depending on what my muse allows me. Anyways, thank you all for reading this! It means the world to me when the little read count goes up. I nearly started crying when I saw that I’m at 2000 reads. You’re all amazing and awesome (and should type something in that little box at the bottom of the page xD) Until next time then!