Gorgeous chapter image by nala @ TDA!
Chapter Six: Don't Trust Me
Tom Marvolo Riddle shrugged off his cloak with ease as he returned from his lunch to the welcoming shop of Borgin and Burke's. Most people he knew couldn't fathom why he considered the shop's dark and dingy interior to be so inviting, but he couldn't explain his fascination with the artefacts not just located on the shelves, but the more dangerous ones that lurked in the basement. As he had worked there for a little over a week, he hadn't yet been able to examine those that had been locked away in great detail, but he knew that with perseverance and the continuance of his charming exterior, one day he would be granted that privilege.
“Tom,” Mr Burke said as he walked past the young man, “Mr Borgin has a home visit to attend this afternoon, and I have to examine some of our new artefacts. I'll be downstairs in the basement if you require me, but I expect you to be able to deal adequately with any customers we have this afternoon.”
“Yes, sir,” Tom nodded, inwardly gleeful at this new responsibility bestowed upon him: a sign, he was sure, that Burke's estimation of him was increasingly positive.
As soon as Burke had entered the basement, Tom busied himself performing cleaning spells on the artefacts and the shelves, to showcase the antiquities for sale at their very best. He was interrupted when a ostensibly short, elderly witch entered the shop, causing the bell above the door to declare her approach with a piercing shrill.
“Good afternoon, ma'am,” Tom smiled helpfully. “How may I help you today?”
“I came to see what was new in,” the witch chuckled, “but I was expecting items Mr Burke had for sale, not a new assistant. What's your name, my dear?”
Tom surveyed the rotund witch, clothed in robes that were such a strawberry shade of pink, a person with bad eyesight would have easily mistaken her for a gigantic melted iced cake. Her hair was bewitchingly ginger, but upon closer inspection he realized that it was in fact a wig.
“I'm Tom Riddle,” he answered politely. “I was hired here a week ago; it's a pleasure to meet you, ma'am. We've rearranged the shop's layout, so may I show you to where our recently procured items are now displayed?”
“Oh, yes please,” the witch smiled. “I like you, young Tom, you're much politer than Mr Burke is. Oooh, that bracelet is so beautiful!”
“It belonged to Helena Ravenclaw herself,” Tom supplied helpfully. “Would you like to try it on?”
“Yes, please,” the witch answered. “I make a particular point of collecting as many former possessions of the Hogwarts Founders as I can. In fact, I'm rather disappointed Mr Burke didn't tell me about this; it's a bewitching piece of jewellery and I think I just may buy this. It would be wonderful to wear at social engagements, don't you think, Tom?”
As far Tom was concerned, judging by the eccentric witch's clothing, the bracelet would indeed be wonderful to wear at social engagements for the sole reason that it would be the only pretty possession she'd be wearing. However, he lied and assured her that yes, it would be delightful and would indeed compliment her beauty- although despite her over-rouged cheeks, it was evident that what beauty she'd once possessed had faded. He allowed her to continue browsing the shelves while he packaged the bracelet carefully, occasionally glancing at her to see if she wanted to purchase anything further.
“Oh! Before I forget, Tom,” the witch called out from the other side of the shop, “I'm thinking about selling a rather beautiful harp: it's delightful and plays wonderfully but it takes up so much space. Could you possibly schedule a home visit for Wednesday so that Mr Burke can visit and decide if he wants to buy it? I'd prefer it to be you, of course, you're a lovely gentleman, but unfortunately you're still new. Do mention to Mr Burke, by the way, that I expect a generous offer for it after the eyewateringly expensive price he charged me for Slytherin's locket.”
“Slytherin's locket?” Tom enquired, his eyes gleaming with desire out of the woman's sight. “You care for the Founders' possessions that much?”
“Of course,” the witch answered, closely inspecting a wardrobe. “I am a descendant of Helga Hufflepuff, after all. It seems only right that I should take an interest in the Founders.”
“Could you please tell me your name, ma'am?” Tom asked. “So that I can schedule your appointment for Wednesday.”
The witch turned to look at Tom, smiling broadly.
When Fee walked into the Auror Office after her lunch, she was surprised to see Septimus still sitting at his desk. Judging by the fact that the contents of what she assumed to have been a sandwich were strewn across his desk, it was evident that he had eaten in the office. She paused, becoming unsure of whether she should return to her plushy green armchair when she caught sight of his thunderous expression.
“He always pretends to be in a foul mood,” a voice spoke from next to her, and she turned her head to see Dawlish standing next to her. “But I'll tell you one thing, kid: for all of his faults, Septimus Weasley isn't as bad as he appears to be. He just prefers to keep people at a distance.”
“Why?” Fee asked, suddenly seized by curiosity.
“It's not my place to say, kid. Although I'm surprised he's this grumpy when his birthday is tomorrow,” Dawlish said before walking back to his desk.
Fee stayed where she was for a few moments, but then decided that she would prefer to put up with a crabby mentor rather than look a fool standing in the middle of the Auror Office looking like a terrified rabbit. She muttered a “good afternoon” out of politeness as she sat down, before turning the paperwork she had been working on earlier and resuming the task that she had started before her lunch.
“Why do Muggle rhymes have to have so much variation?” Septimus grumbled to himself, attracting Fee's attention, and when she looked up he spoke to her. “This box is charmed so that it can only be unlocked by speaking the words of a Muggle rhyme, but over the years people keep changing the lyrics so there are countless versions. Ooh, I forgot about this one: Monday's child is fair of face
When the box that Septimus was holding in his hands started opening itself slowly, the Auror grinned and continued speaking aloud to himself. “Tuesday's child is full of grace
, Wednesday's child is full of woe
, Thursday's child has far to go
, Friday's child
... Dammit! How did the rest go?”
“Friday's child is loving and giving
,” Fee recited automatically, lowering her eyes and permanently fixing them on the paperwork in front of her. “Saturday's child works hard for a living
, and the child born on the Sabbath day
, is bonny and blithe and good and gay
Septimus didn't realize that the mysterious box he had spent his entire lunch hour trying to open had finally unsealed itself; he was too busy staring at his protégée, dumbfounded.
“How the hell,” he asked once he'd regained his senses, “does a Slytherin know a Muggle rhyme off by heart?”
“None of your business, Weasley,” Fee said, still engrossed in her paperwork. “And the box in your hand is open, so why don't you get back to what you were doing?”
“I'm the one in charge here, not you,” Septimus retorted, before complying with the witch's request.
But when he thought that Fee wasn't looking, he couldn't help but glance at her, trying to understand. In his entire life, he had been certain of one thing: Slytherins hated Muggles and Muggle-borns. They considered them filth, treated them despicably, and were in favour of excluding Muggle-borns from Hogwarts. Yet somehow the Slytherin in front of him had just recited a Muggle rhyme from memory. While the rational part of the Auror told him that Fiona Phoenix was playing mind games, he found it it impossible to reconcile the witch in front of him with the House that she had been in.
And if Septimus was honest with himself... that terrified him.
The wind howled violently as it blew through the shabby street of Knockturn Alley. Fee swayed on her feet precariously as she Apparated onto the corner, not expecting the wind to have been so strong. In seconds, she regained her balance and adjusted her cloak so that it wouldn't billow into the air while she walked before pulling her pointed hat more firmly upon her head. After perfecting her appearance, she started to walk towards her destination: a shop frequented by most Slytherins, especially those with an interest in the Dark Arts. At first, Fee had been unable to understand the appeal of Borgin and Burke's, but on her last visit had realized that it was not the shop itself that held value, but the increasingly rare items they sold. In fact, Tom had explained that both Borgin and Burke were extremely skilled at persuading wizards and witches to part with their treasures voluntarily, and that was the whole reason that the shop was so successful.
“Fee?” Tom asked in surprise as she walked in, looking up from a book he was perusing behind the counter.
He knew perfectly well that she had refused to venture into the shop after almost being decapitated by a suit of armour charmed to execute Muggles, afraid for her own safety. He recalled how Burke had been apoplectic with fury, afraid he would gain a reputation for selling antiquities that were lethal to their owners after Alphard had threatened to close the shop down in retaliation. Since then, that suit of armour had been destroyed, to Burke's annoyance, as it had cost him several hundred Galleons. It had however preserved the shop's reputation, although Tom was disappointed to have never known what caused the armour's malfunction.
“What time do you finish work?” she asked quietly.
To a stranger, she looked immaculate: not a single hair out of place, her cloak and robes untainted, her expression beautiful but stoic. However, Tom could see what strangers could not: the frightened confusion in her eyes, the uncertain tone in her voice, the lack of emotion when even at her haughtiest she displayed at least some of her feelings.
“Officially, ten minutes,” Tom admitted, “but I was planning on staying to help Mr Borgin catalogue the artefacts he bought this afternoon.”
“Okay,” Fee nodded. “I'll see you later, then.”
The single syllable spoke volumes between the duo, uttered just as Fee was turning away. She turned to look at Tom with a quizzical expression.
“What's wrong?” he asked with concern in his tone.
“I wish I knew,” Fee sighed, walking over to the counter. “Alphard asked me to move in with him today, and while I said yes, I don't feel... I don't know, excited? It was always something I wanted, living with my best friend but now it's as if I don't want to.”
“Don't feel forced to live with him,” Tom advised. “I know your independence is important to you; far more than it was when you were barely a teenager. If your desires have changed, that's understandable. Alphard won't hate you for that.”
“You're right,” Fee closed her eyes. “I'm being stupid, aren't I? Making a big deal out of nothing.”
“Your emotions aren't a big deal,” Tom reassured her. “Sometimes it just takes a different perspective to rationalize them.”
Fee opened her eyes, beaming.
“You know, you're really good at giving advice.”
“That's what friends are for,” Tom smiled.
He and Fee quickly bade their goodbyes, before she walked out of the shop. He laughed quietly to himself as he returned to the book, re-reading the same two pages he already knew by heart before he was forced to return it to the shelves. His eyes kept drawing themselves to the first paragraph, studying it with malicious eyes.
When brewed correctly with the hair of the person you wish to hate, this potion will create feelings of mistrust, disdain and uncertainty of the hated person's motives. It invalidates compassionate emotions towards the person for whom you no longer wish to feel affection.
An example of this potion's use would be eradicating love felt for an unfaithful partner.
Administer in large doses to create instant hatred, or in smaller, regular doses to build negative emotions gradually.
This potion is for personal use only. It is forbidden to administer this potion to others without their knowledge and full consent.
Tom laughed as his eyes skimmed the final sentence of the paragraph. Since when had he ever followed the rules?
I don't know what to say. I think I've said everything I possibly could and repeated it multiple times in the thirteen years that I've been writing to you. I hope that my letters have been as much of a comfort for you to read as they have been for me to write. Although it's entirely possible for you to have continually discarded them, unable to forgive me, despite my eternal hopes that you have.
I wish I could explain all the whys and hows, but in the end there's a very simple fact: we both remember what I did, and we both remember how horrifically I let you down.
I'm so sorry. Please forgive me.
Author's Note: *ducks tomatoes*
Thank you to verdoven. for coming up with the title of this chapter! Credit also goes to TheVividImagination and pennyardelle for helping to name the potion!
I would just like to also clarify that the nursery rhyme Monday's Child has been in existence for centuries and while the author is unknown, I can assure you that it is not me. :P
Drop me a review if you have time; they really make my day! ♥