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Chapter 3 : A New Friend
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Tom spent most of his time in the library looking things up about the first wizarding war. He needed to know more. Unfortunately, the books were hopelessly unhelpful. They covered the basics, or the basics of the specifics. The writers of these books were never close enough to the real fight to know anything. Only Voldemort himself would be able to tell him about his mother. Only his father would be able to confirm the accusations that he would be sent to prison for. He needed more than a book. He needed to hear it from the source. Tom was starting to understand Jonathan's need to ask his father himself what had happened to their mother.
On Sunday, he asked Dumbledore what he knew about his adopted father and his mother. He knew the students would be returning that evening and he didn't want them to know about his past. He had to get all this done before they got there.
When he asked, Dumbledore didn't respond at first, "Your father, like many who came before him and after him was one of my students, but alas I did not know him well. He wasn’t the type to make friends with teachers. He did however gravitate to one Tom Riddle Jr. in his time at Hogwarts. I believe it was the mutual interest in some of the darker aspects of magic that drew him to Voldemort. As for your mother it is hard to say. You look so very much like your biological father when he was in school, it would seem that making guesses at which student looks most like you would be quite a pointless endeavor. "
Tom nodded feeling slightly disappointed at Dumbledore’s inability to truly expand on Tom’s prior knowledge. He was about to get up and leave when Dumbledore stopped him.
“Tom?” Dumbledore said. “Might I suggest talking to Professor Snape. He knew Mr. York much better than I did.”
“Alright,” Tom muttered thoughtfully.
Tom’s mind went back to the few times Snape had spoken to him since he had arrived at Hogwarts. He seemed to understand him in a way that the other strangers didn't. He knew how to avoid waking others when you had chronic nightmares and how to cover a dark mark. A dark mark...," He was a death eater wasn't he?" Tom asked.
Dumbledore's eyes twinkled with something that looked like remorse," Let us just say he was a misguided youth. It was too late though when he realized just how misguided he was. He had put his past behind him though. Anyway he should be able to help you."
Tom left the office with a renewed sense of hope. He spent the rest of the day searching for the potions master with no success. The castle was very active at that moment. The kitchen was bustling with house elves all cooking frantically. Most of the teachers were setting up class rooms, but many were off tending to other tasks. Snape had apparently finished setting up his room much earlier, and was out doing other business for the headmaster. It was approaching six now and it was becoming clear that he wasn't going to find Snape before the ceremony started. According to the portraits, the students would arrive at six thirty.
That is when he bumped into his new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. It was a bit bigger than a bump though, being that he nearly knocked the man over.
"I'm sorry sir," Tom apologized immediately, "l wasn't paying attention to where I was going. I was looking for someone."
"Y-Yes w-well that's o-k," The man stammered out. He was wearing a brown cloak with a red lining and a white turban on his head, "You m-must b-be Tom. I'm Professor Q-Quirrell, the D-defense against the D-dark a-arts teacher."
Quirrell reached out his had shakily and Tom took it. He felt an uneasy feeling in his chest as he gripped the man’s hand firmly, and he could feel the adrenaline rush through his veins. Suddenly Tom became acutely aware of his wand that rested in his right pocket. He had been taught since the age of three to know an enemy when he saw one, Quirrell was an enemy. He looked weak on the outside between his stammer and his shakiness, but it was his eyes that gave it away. There is a certain look that a man gives you when he is sizing you up. Quirrell had a peculiar way of doing it, shaking hands and not making eye contact, but it was his ever-so-subtle flicker of the eyes towards Tom’s bandaged hands that gave him away. Tom had been trained to spot things like that, little hints, and it was one of the things he was exceptional at it.
Tom nodded, "I better be going to the dining hall then before I'm late. The ceremony is supposed to start soon."
Quirrell gave Tom a nervous smile, "O-of c-course"
With that Tom bolted away as fast as he could without looking peculiar. On his way up he noticed some of the older kids starting to arrive. He quickly fell in step behind two Hufflepuff boys.
They were laughing and joking with each other. The one clapping his hand on the other's back, "I don't think that's what she meant, Cedric," he was saying to the other. Clearly they were too preoccupied to notice that there was a new kid following behind them.
The Great Hall was really decked out for their first night at Hogwarts. Dumbledore was already seated in his chair in the center of the teacher's table. Snape was sitting up there too, so that was probably why he couldn't find him during the past hour. Where he was from noon to four was still a mystery. The Gryffindor table looked relatively empty. There was a few people already there of course, a refined looking red head at the closer end of the table, a strong boy with a buzz towards the middle, a girl with dark hair pulled into a pony tail next to him. All of them seemed preoccupied with looking for old friends.
Tom didn’t know who any of these people were and being that he was technically a first year he wouldn’t benefit from befriending them. Thus he went down to the other end of the table and sat down, alone.
He watched as the other students filled in. There was another two red headed boys whom were obviously twins that caught his attention. They were smiling and joking with each other. They looked like they were about his age, and watching them, he couldn't help but wonder what it would have been like to come here with Jonathan. There was no point in dwelling on the past of course. Jonathan would never step foot in Hogwarts
At six thirty the ceremony started. The doors opened and Professor McGonagall led the first years down the aisle with the sorting hat in her hand. It was singing some song that Tom didn't really pay attention to. He was too busy scanning the first years.
McGonagall stood behind a chair that was elevated in front of the teacher's table and started calling names. The first to be called was a girl named Eleanor Ashdown.
The hat was placed on her head and the it sat there in silence for quite a long time before shouting, "Gryffindor." The girl had had her eye's squeezed shut at that point, and when the hat announced her name they whipped open to reveal striking blue eyes that were a large contrast from her curly brown hair. The Gryffindor table applauded loudly for their new member. She sat on Tom's side of the table, though not necessarily close to him. She had left sufficient space for friends to come and join her.
"Scott McNight," McGonagall called after another moment or two. A boy stepped forward from the crowd, looking like he was going to puke. He was short and scrawny for an eleven year old with dirty blond hair that protruded from his head in a mess of tight curls. His most noticeable feature though was the pair of glasses that sat crocked on his face. The kid must be blind, or pretty close to it, because the glasses were really thick. He walked clumsily to the chair and the hat was placed on his head. It was huge on him pushing his fat glasses down to his nose.
Again the hat sat on the boy’s head for a solid thirty seconds before announcing his placement. "Gryffindor." He called.
The boy had no reaction to his placement. He just hopped down from the seat and quickly made his way to the Gryffindor table. He sat down across from Tom, though he avoided eye contact and said nothing.
After the blond boy was called Tom could feel boredom starting to claim him as his eyes glazed over. There must be at least a hundred of them maybe more. There was no pattern to how people were sorted. A blonde boy would be put into Slytherin , then a red head would come to Gryffindor, then maybe another to Slytherin or Hufflepuff. The entire process wasn't all that exciting, though everyone else seemed ecstatic about the whole endeavor, giving new members standing ovations. Tom might have actually fallen asleep but something distracted him.
"Harry Potter," McGonagall called. Tom's eyes darted to the boy that was walking up to the hat. He had jet black hair and green eyes that were currently looking around the room nervously. Tom could hear his brother's words echoing in his head Long Live Harry Potter, he had said. Tom knew those were Jonathan's last words, the ones that his attacker had killed him for. Here stood the very boy who he had died for. Tom analyzed him. He didn't look all that threatening. He was sure that if they dueled, Tom would win before Harry could so much as blink. He was the one who killed the Dark Lord though, so he must have some hidden power or something. He couldn't count how many times his Father had ranted over how he would kill Harry Potter for the "crime he had committed against the greater good."
The sorting hat had finished consulting with itself now and called the boy's house, "Gryffindor" he called. The Gryffindor table erupted in a way they didn't for any other student. Tom didn't react; he just sat there and stared. He seemed to be very good at not reacting recently. Harry Potter jumped down from the chair and walked over to join a red head boy, who was sitting further down the table. Tom spent the rest of the ceremony examining Potter from a distance.
Finally, after what seemed like a millennium it ended and they were allowed to eat. The amount of food they had was unbelievable. In the years spent with his father, hunger had become a close friend to Tom. His father was too absorbed in his own planning to notice his sons' need for food. If Tom asked for food, he would be criticized and told that hunger was a weakness needed to be overcome. He stuffed himself today though. He could get used to that.
"I'm Scott McNight," the blonde boy from across the table said to him. It was ten minutes into dinner at that point and Tom had a feeling that the only reason the boy braved talking to him was because Tom obviously had no friends to talk to either.
"I'm Tom," Tom told him, purposely leaving out his last name.
Scott nodded," What year are you in?"
Tom thought this over for a second before answering, "I'm a first year too. I'm thirteen, but there were some… extenuating circumstances that caused me to start school late."
Scott seemed to accept his answer without asking any further questions, "Yeah so you um know much about magic?"
Tom nodded," I do."
"I don't. My parents were humans- er muggles so this is the first I've seen of any of this. It's pretty cool though huh?" Scott gushed.
Scott dominated the conversation for the rest of the night. He told Tom all about his muggle parents, and their lives. His father was a boxer apparently, and his mother a teacher. Scott had gone to a muggle school for the last five years, and Tom got the feeling that he wasn't exactly accepted there. He sort of understood how someone might find him annoying because, well, he was. He talked a lot and about stuff a normal wizard would find boring. Tom wasn't a normal wizard though, and Scott had a very honest air about him. He liked that, but at the same time he didn't. The kid gave away too much, it was dangerous. Tom could hear his father's voice echoing in his head. If he could only see Tom now, sitting across from a mudblood tolerantly, the man would strangle him alive. At the same time he could hear Jonathan saying the exact oppisite. Finally his mind ended on his mother, what would she say about this? Tom would like to say that she would approve. Not that he had any evidence, but from blurry memories of his first three years on earth, he felt like that was the type of person she was.
Tom thought on that. He didn't remember really smiling or being happy since his brother died, "I'll smile when there is something to smile about," Tom replied bluntly. Scott shrugged and continued talking. This again suprised Tom. Scott didn't seem to pry. It was at that moment that he decided he would tolerate Scott, at least for the time being. He seemed honest enough, and what harm could it be to observe a mudblood unbiasedly for a little while- to test his father's claims.
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