Chapter 6 : Troll in the Dungeon
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"Ung," someone said as Tom accidentally walked into them. A first year was on the ground with his books scattered.
"Sorry," Tom said automatically. He held his hand out to the boy he knocked over.
A pair of emerald green eyes looked up at him," That's okay. I wasn't paying attention to where I was going." The boy gathered his books and stood up, "I'm Harry Potter," he said holding his hand out to Tom. Tom had spent a lot of time watching Potter over the past month. The boy wasn't really exceptional at any particular subject. Never the best in class though, he did have an affinity in Defense Against the Dark Arts. Nothing he did suggested that he had the capability of taking down the Dark Lord. Tom had considered approaching him a few times though he never did. Because Tom kept such a low profile during class, Harry Potter probably wasn't even aware that he was taking first year classes.
"Tom," he replied shaking the other boy's hand.
Potter's eyebrows came together as he looked at Tom's face, "Have we met before?"
Tom shook his head," No I take first year classes though, so we have a lot of classes together."
The younger boy shifted his weight onto his other foot, looking guilty for not recognizing his classmate, "Oh well you look kind of older than an eleven year old so I figured you were a third or fourth year or something," he said uncomfortably.
Tom shook his head, "I am older, I started school late. I've been trying to not be noticed during class that's all. You don't know me because I've been doing a good job," he replied to Potter in all seriousness.
Potter looked reassured by this new information. Unfortunately, he wasn't Scott and proceeded to ask the question that Tom had been avoiding since the beginning of the year, "Why?"
Tom shrugged, "Because," he replied. Tom could tell that the boy wanted to know more, but he respected Tom's wishes for secrecy and just nodded.
"I should be going," Potter said.
Tom nodded and watched as the famous Harry Potter walked away before continuing his walk towards the Dining Room. Scott was already there saving a seat for him. His friend had wanted to get there early so that they could get some work done after dinner that night. When Tom sat down Scott started up his usual chatter with Tom nodding occasionally and contributing little to the conversation. Before long the entire room was filled with every student in the school. Tom could see Harry Potter sitting down towards the end of the table next to the red head boy that he was constantly with.
"I don't get it," Scott was saying, "I mean I swear I wave the wand right every time, but the stupid thing just explodes. I swear I was doing everything-"
All of a sudden Professor Quirrel burst into the hall, "Troll-in the dungeon-thought you ought to know" he said. Then he dropped like a rock. The moment their professor hit the floor there was a mad rush towards the door as the students tried to flee from a troll that wasn't in the room. Tom could practically taste the panic in the air as the school started to revert into an everyman-for-himself mood.
Dumbledore stopped them of course, making sure everything was orderly. Something was bugging Tom though. When Quirrel ran into the room to warn everyone about the troll he should have seemed scared. He fainted after all. There should have been fear in the man's eyes, or voice, or manner. It should have been there somewhere. There was no trace of fear though when he burst into the room. He was nervous, sure. He was always nervous though. Tom groaned in frustration there should have been fear he repeated to himself. He looked back over to where Quirrell had fainted, the man had gone. That reassured him of the fact even more. There were several potions that could make you drop like that and have you up seconds later. Even a good acting job could have pulled off the dramatic faint. There was nothing in this world that Tom hated more than good actors.
The rest of the students were all headed out the door now in orderly lines according to house. Tom turned and looked for Dumbledore. He wasn't there. He must be out looking for the troll already. Tom spotted the wisp of a black cloak leaving through the door that lead out of the dining hall by the teachers table. Snape, he thought. He had to tell Snape.
Tom broke into a dead sprint towards the door. He heard Scott call for him from behind, but ignored it. He made it to the door in a matter of seconds, as most students were heading out the one on the other end there was little traffic for him to work his way through. He opened it to find Snape rummaging through a potions kit. The man pulled his wand out of it and turned to go hunt the troll. Instead, he saw Tom.
"You should be with the other students," he scolded harshly. He didn't seem too mad though, most likely because if Tom ran into the troll he would have no problem getting rid of it.
"Something is wrong. Quirrell fainted back there but he wasn't afraid of the troll. There was no fear in him before he hit the ground. After he caused mass panic he disappeared. Forget the troll, I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't one at all. Something is wrong," Tom said panting. Snape paused for a moment thinking. Then his head snapped up and he broke into a run heading out the door in the opposite direction of the dungeons.
Tom started to follow him, "Go back with the other students. You’re supposedly advanced skills aren’t necessary at the moment," Snape snapped. Tom nodded and ran in the opposite direction of Snape heading back towards Scott.
He found the Gryffindor house on the grounds outside by the quidditch pitch. His absence wasn't missed by anyone.
"What was that?" Scott asked looking worried.
Tom looked over at Scott, "I had to talk to Professor Snape. I thought the troll was there because of me. Something my father sent. I was wrong. The troll is here completely on accident," Tom lied. He probably could've told Scott the truth. but it was a habit to lie. When no one knows the truth but you, there is less an enemy can infer from a situation. Not that Scott was an enemy, it was just a habit. Tom dealt with things on his own and that was just how things were always going to be.
Waiting to be let back inside was agonizing. About fifteen minutes after Tom showed up the prefects realized that Harry Potter and two other kids were missing. That made Tom even more worried. Could Quirrell have been using the troll as a distraction to get rid of Harry Potter? If that was the truth that meant that Quirrell was probably a death eater and Tom let that go right under his nose. If Scott wasn't there talking about things that seemed trivial at the moment, Tom might have gone crazy. Something about the unimportance of Scott's words was keeping him from exploding.
Finally after what seemed like hours the teachers came out to deliver the news to their students. Dumbledore held his wand to his throat, "I am happy to inform you that the troll has been successfully removed without any injury to our staff or students. It seems to have gotten lost. It was an unfortunate accident that it came into Hogwarts. You may all return to your meal now."
That told Tom relatively nothing about anything. At least he knew there was a troll now and that Potter was fine. Neither Snape nor Quirrell was with Dumbledore when he announced that it was safe to return so he had no indication of whether he was right or not.
"Hey Scott I want to stop by the hospital wing before we go back to the common room. I'm running out of wrap for my arms," Tom said unhappily. He needed something to occupy himself with. An errand was as good a distraction as any.
"A troll! I can't believe it. I mean I hear trolls are huge and scary. Can you imagine if we ran into it before Quirrell warned us," Scott said with a shudder.
"Would've been bad," Tom muttered dishonestly. Trolls were large but they were also pretty stupid, kind of like the two baboons that followed Malfoy around. He had fought one once before when he was six. He and his brother spent fifteen minutes fighting the monster. At the time it was difficult; however, they did win in the end. Now he doubted that a troll could so much as make him winded when he fought it.
They rounded the corner and entered Madame Pomfrey's hospital. The nurse was rummaging through her medicine cabinet looking for something when they walked into the room. All it took was a quick scan of the space to understand what was needed. Professor Snape was sitting on a hospital bed with his leg bleeding. It looked like he was bitten by some kind of animal.
"I thought Dumbledore said no one was hurt, "Scott blurted out upon seeing the potions teacher. Snape glanced up at the two students. For a moment he looked like he was going to yell at them, but when he saw Tom, his expression hardened and he stayed silent. Tom nodded in a motion so slight, only someone looking for the sign would be able to see. Tom had been right Quirrell was up to something that night and Snape had stopped him. By the look of the bite mark on Snape's leg Quirrell wasn't as incompetent as he appeared.
"Dumbledore probably didn't want to worry us Scott," Tom said. "I think that we will come back later."
Tom dragged Scott out of the room by the arm.
“You wanted me to tutor you with something right?” he asked trying to change the subject. With that Scott fell back into old habits, rambling on about some spell. Tom sighed, it was going to be a long night.
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