The next month had been a blur for Jade. And, although the relationship had been platonic, she had spent every evening with Tom. She immensely enjoyed the company of another intelligent being. Their conversations ranged from simply speaking about their day, to more serious topics involving dark magic. During the November trip to Hogsmeade they had sneaked off to the Hogs Head and had a rather intimate conversation discussing necromancy.
“Don’t you see, Jade? With the dead you do not have to ask for their permission. Just a flick of your wand and they will do whatever you wish.” His eyes lit up with delight.
“Yes, Tom. But, it’s kind of cheating, isn’t it?” She traced the top of her dirty teacup with the tip of her finger.
“How do you mean?” He took a long drink from his dusty bottle of butterbeer.
“It would be much more fun to convince somebody alive and well to do your, should I say, dirty work.” Jade's cruel face invoked a smile from Tom.
“Very true, however, I must disagree with you. The dead would be perfect.” He wrung his hands together, a hunger in his eyes.
Their conversation was cut short not long after; the pub owner had apparently overheard them and did not appreciate the loud giggles from the young couple.
Dahlia and Jade did not speak, nor did they bother to look at each other any longer. Dahlia had not stayed in their room since she came home to her portion of the dormitory in shambles. Jade was out when she had returned to the room and cleaned the mess, which was rather unfortunate because she would have loved to see the look on her filthy face when she witnessed the wreckage.
“What happened to that irritating blonde girl you used to always hang around with?” Jade looked up from her Transfiguration book, curious as to why he suddenly interjected with such a question.
“Oh, I was just curious. I used to see you with each other all the time and you made distracting noises in class.” He chewed on the end of his quill and looked toward the ceiling.
“We did not see eye to eye on her choice of companion,” she said simply before leaning back down into her book.
“Alphard? What do you have against Alphard?” Tom shot her a questioning look.
“I don’t think I need to tell you why I dislike your little friend,” she said shortly.
“Are you jealous?” he teased.
Jade puffed out her chest and scoffed, which earned a short chuckle from Tom. “Oh, for Merlin’s sake. No. I was not jealous of Alphard. I do not like idiotic boys.”
“Should I take that as a compliment, Jade?” He raised his eyebrow and grinned.
“I’m ready for bed.” She did not bother waiting for his reply; she stomped into her room and slammed the door behind her.
The Christmas Holidays were rapidly approaching and the grounds reflected the changing season. The usually vast and supple trees were left barren and grey. Hills of snow stretched as far as the eye could see. The sky had become a permanently gloomy, almost as if a fire had been set and only the cooled ashes had survived. With the exception of students drudging their way through the snow to Herbology, students were a rare sight on the grounds.
Even Jade had been avoiding the bitter temperatures. She decided it would be in her best interest to start studying in front of the fire after she fell into a large pile of wet snow on her way inside the castle last week. She was forced to walk through the hallways and into the common room dripping cold water; which had gained a large amount of snickers from many students.
It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon. The common room was full of students avoiding the draftier regions of the castle. Jade had spotted Tom entertaining a group of girls in the left corner of the room. The girls laughed at an obscene volume, constantly flipping their hair, and batting their eyelashes desperately. He sat between them and nodded at their stories, glancing toward Jade every so often. She stuck her nose in the air and held her Defence Against the Dark Arts book in front of her face. If Tom planned on spending his time flirting with girls, then she would not allow him to gawk in her direction.
She struggled to listen to their conversations. So far, she’d learned of Amelina Vance’s tragic childhood, which she had miraculously overcome by turning out to be such a talented witch. Which earned a rather large snort from Jade.
Florie Watt blabbed about how her family had disowned her squib uncle Harry. Jade appreciated the story, but Florie had herself so worked up she was nearly screaming.
Tom interjected only twice, asking the girls to lower their voices as others were studying. Each time, Jade peered around the room to find another student reading a book, but her searches ended fruitless. What a kiss-up. She shook her head and turned the pages slowly.
“Fancy a walk, Jade?” She flicked her eyes upward from her book. Tom’s pale hand was extended in front of her face, awaiting her reply. She smiled gratefully as she noticed the horrified and jealous looks of girls around the common room. With an over-exaggerated sigh, she rolled her eyes to feign interest. Of course she wanted to jump from the couch and into his arms; but she would never want actually make him think she wanted to be around him.
“I suppose, but it can’t be too long. I need to finish this essay tonight.” She grasped his hand and pulled herself off the sofa. After she put her book away, she grabbed her heavy cloak and gloves. With her hopes held high, she and Tom made their way outside. The cold wrapped its harsh arms around them and a shot of cold sent a shiver down Jade's spine.
“Are you ready for the exam in Arithmancy?” Tom questioned. The snow crunched loudly under their feet. Crows flew above the trees, singing a song Jade imagined was a desperate cry for a blanket.
“I would suppose so, as ready as I can be.” She watched her hot breath float heavenward.
“It’s a rather dull subject, it’s really too bad it’s so important to get any sort of job.” Tom lazily flicked his wand toward a pile of snow and sent a compact snowball flying toward the forest.
“I don’t think it’s dull. I just think you would rather perform magic than simply understand the mechanics.” She pulled her cloak tighter around her frame; the wet snow began to seep into her socks.
“I could be doing wand work and instead I’m studying numbers.” He waved his hand.
“Just as I said, maybe I know the elusive Tom Riddle a little better than anybody else.” She stuck her tongue out toward him.
“There is not much to the elusive Tom Riddle.” He smiled. “I just have a yearning for information. Much like somebody else I know.” His eyes gazed toward Jade.
She shrugged. “I don’t know about that. I’m just curious.”
“I’m curious, too. That’s why we work so well together,” he said, as he picked up a handful of sopping snow.
“Well, we study together well.”
“Perfectly.” She was surprised that all of the snow within fifty feet of them didn't melt into a deep lake. They continued to walk in silence for several minutes while she reveled in her compliments.
“I’ve been thinking lately. Maybe I should give you the book.”
Jade stopped cold and stared at the back of his head. “You what?”
He turned to look at her. “I thought I would give you the book that you wanted so badly.”
She attempted to hide her excitement from her face. “That would be very kind, but it isn’t necessary anymore. I.... I don’t need the information.” Once again she found her mouth running faster than her brain. There was no reason that she would say such a statement, and it was painfully obvious that she was lying.
Tom stepped close to her and shook his head. “It’s been a long time since I’ve had to say this, Jade, but regrettably I must. Why are you lying?” He raised his eyebrow at her as if he expected a thorough explanation. She racked her brain for any excuse she could come up with on a whim. But, she did not have a good answer.
“I, um.." she swallowed hard and looked past Tom's shoulder, "got the information elsewhere.”
“You did not find the information elsewhere, Sterling! There is no other way you could have!” he spat. His face grew red, not from the bitter air biting at his skin, but from boiling anger.
“And how should you know what I was looking for?” She crossed her arms defiantly.
“Because, Sterling. I would think that after all of our conversations you would have figured out that I know what you’re up to and exactly what you want!” He grabbed her wrist roughly and pulled her closer to him.
“And how would you assume that, Tom? We’ve only ever talked about what you want to talk about. Which, by the way, is always some sort of impossible, unattainable magic.” Her chin nearly rested on his chest as she glared up at him. His eyes were alive with anger.
“It is possible, Sterling, it is! And that’s why you want that book!”
“I don’t want the book!” Jade had no idea why she was so determined to convince him she did not want that book; she would kill to get her hands on it.
“Stop telling me what to do!” She attempted to push herself away from him, but he shifted his weight forward and pushed her into the snow. He glowered down at her, his wand pointed threateningly in front of her face.
“I tried to do you a favour and what do you do, Sterling? You lie! You are a filthy little liar! How dare you speak to me that way!” Jade gaped up at him from her embarrassing position on the ground. It had been over two months since the last time they had been in a predicament, the events almost identical. Most would throw their hands in front of their face and cower at the wand aimed at their throats like a knife. However, she took a deep breath and poked the tip of his wand with her fingertip, lowering the weapon in an unperturbed manner.
“I would assume I could do whatever I wanted to do to you. You do not own me.” She stared at him, her face unwavering.
“Do not tell me what I do and do not own!” His eyes were wide as he screamed at her, and the echoes of his loud voice rang into the forest.
Never would she have imagined that Tom Riddle would insinuate that he owned her. Of course he had made sure he knew exactly what she was up to every night, and would sit next to her during every meal, and would expect her to meet him in the library every evening at four o’ clock sharp. But, certainly that didn't mean that Jade allowed him to have control over her?
The sun must have known what was rushing through her mind; because, at that very moment, a bolt of sunlight poured over her head. Suddenly the realization of what she had allowed herself to become rolled through her body and caused her stomach to lurch forward.
“How dare you, Riddle,” she growled.
“I told you,” he kneeled down and grabbed her wrists, “to call me Tom. You do not listen.”
“I will not do as I am told. You must have me confused with the little girls you run around with at night after we leave the library.” She placed her wet foot onto his chest in efforts to push him away.
He easily pushed her legs back into the snow. She didn't know exactly what to feel at this moment. Here she was: lying in a pile of dirty snow, and having an argument with the most intelligent and interesting man she'd ever met in her life. A man that she must convince herself that she hated.
“You will do as I say,” he whispered before pushing forward and pressing his lips to hers. She feebly attempted to launch his body off of hers and refused to open her mouth to his tongue’s advances. “Open your mouth.” His teeth bit at her lips. “I said open your mouth!” He grabbed her chin and wrenched her mouth open, allowing his warm tongue inside her mouth. Jade immediately gave up her pitiful resistance.
The whole world could have come crashing down around her and she would not have noticed. The wet snow surrounding them and their hot mouths made Jade's head ache with passion. He ran his hands up the side of her body and laced his fingers through her dark hair. In a split second the moment was over. Tom quickly stood up and shook snow from his cloak.
“I’m sorry, that shouldn’t have happened.” She stared at him from the ground. A bad idea? The ache in her body told her it was a wonderful idea.
“Can you help me?” She held out her cold hand toward him. He glared down at her before reluctantly pulling her up from the pillow of snow.
"Can't even stand up in the snow? Pathetic."
She didn't bother to appease him with an argument. Snow crunching, and small twigs snapping underneath their feet was the only comforting sound as they made their way back toward the castle. Jade wanted nothing more than to pounce on top of him and kiss him for the rest of the evening. She would do anything he asked if she could just be that close to him once more.
“I’m hungry. Let’s go inside for dinner.” Tom accepted her silence as an agreement as they walked up the stone steps of the castle. She stripped herself of her heavy cloak and gloves as they strolled into the Great Hall. Abraxas waved them down.
“What are you doing here, Sterling?” he asked.
“You will not talk to me like that, Abraxas,” she replied calmly while stirring her tea. Abraxas had been increasingly interested in what Tom and Jade had been up to the past couple weeks. It must be devastating for him to lose his very best friend. After all, Tom was practically his only friend; nobody else could stand to be around such an pompous old hag.
“Oh, I won’t?” he mocked. His blonde eyebrows made a beeline for his hairline. If only she could reach across the table and clench her fingers around his neck.
“No, you will not, Malfoy,” Tom intervened smoothly as he reached for his pumpkin juice. Abraxas and Jade’s mouths dropped open simultaneously and as they stared at him. He did not bother to grant them an answer; instead he cut the meat on his plate into quarters in complete silence.
“I need a word with you in private, Sterling.” Abraxas grabbed Jade's arm and pulled her out of her seat. Her eyes begged Tom to stop him, but he ignored her as he leaned over the shoulder of a first year to read her newspaper.
“Where…are…you…taking…me?” she grunted, struggling to release herself from his grip. He pushed her against the stone wall. The back of her head caught a protruding corner of stone; pain shot through her neck and she let out a small groan.
“What are you doing with him, you little slut?” he growled, his grip tightening on her robes. She kept her mouth shut; never would she answer to him, never would she give him anything he wanted. He began to shake her against the wall. “TELL ME!”
Jade raised her eyebrow and leaned in closely. “I won’t tell you, but let me show you what I’m doing with him,” she whispered. His face softened slightly and she turned her head and opened her mouth as if leaning in for a kiss. When her face was a mere inch away she spat on him. It was rather un-lady like, of course, but she was proud of herself for managing to work up that large of a spit ball.
Abraxas shouted in disgust and dropped his hands to wipe the saliva off his face. “You bitch!” Jade ripped her wand from inside her cloak and held it to his throat.
“Let me show you what happens to people who think they can control me, Malfoy.” Her voice was dark as she moved the tip of her wand to his cheek. “Mobilicorpus!” Abraxas was lifted into the air and she aimed her wand toward the same wall that she had just been pressed.
His body fell limp onto the floor and a whimper escaped from his mouth. “Do not try me, Abraxas.” She raised her foot and kicked him in the chest. He groaned and curled into a ball, allowing Jade to enjoy the sight for only a moment before turning back toward the Great Hall. She suddenly had the desire for some meat.
Tom did not ask a single question when she returned alone with her hair and robes out of place. He simply placed the newspaper the girl had given to him between them and pointed to a headline with his fork.
Digby Litwin II – My Life and Times with Fireballs
She shook her head. Uncle Digby was in China writing a memoir of his time with dragons? Lovely to find out from the Daily Prophet. Jade wondered briefly if his wife knew what he was getting up to. Grandmum Jade would surely be embarrassed that her only son had been shacking up with dragons.
"What a miserable career. Who would ever do something like that?" Tom laughed as he stared at the photo of Digby. "God, he looks like hell. Look at that awful hair!"
Jade's eyes grew wide. Normally she would curse the pants right off somebody for making a comment about her uncle. But, she couldn't let Tom think she thought this was an acceptable career. She simply huffed and turned the page.
"I can think of a million things I'd rather read than about some nutter in China." She pointed at an advertisement for Borgin and Burkes. "Look at that locket, it's nice, isn't it?" A small silver locket spun in the photo. A curvy 'S' embellished with emeralds sparkled on the front of the locket. Jade ran her fingers over her collarbone. "It would look really lovely on me, don't you think?"
Tom did not bother to look at her; he could not take his eyes away from the photo. He flicked her hand away from the picture and brought the paper up inches away from his face. Jade had seen Tom's eyes filled with desire before, but he had never looked as hungry as he did now.