Chapter 1 : The Heir Accedes
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Pushing the door open revealed a strikingly ordinary scene. A row of cubicles lined one wall while the sinks stood opposite, illuminated by the moonlight streaming in through the window. The steady drip-drip-drip of a tap echoed the rain that he could see teeming from the heavens. There was nothing at all remarkable about it, and upon taking in the sight, he realised why his search had lasted for so long. Nobody would ever suspect this to be the place that held the last and the greatest of Hogwarts’ secrets.
A strange smile spread across his face, complimenting the handsome features. He hadn’t felt like this since the day Dumbledore had arrived at the orphanage and told him that he was a wizard. Excitement, he supposed it was called. The knowledge that he was finally going to inherit what was rightfully his.
Years had passed before he had arrived at this point, standing as a prince about to accede to the throne. His contemporaries hadn’t been able to fathom his intense interest in the Chamber of Secrets – something that was, after all, only a legend. Such a place couldn’t exist, for generations of brilliant witches and wizards had tried to find it without results. Yet the very existence of Hogwarts was proof to him that every story possessed some grain of truth, however small or insignificant. And his belief had been rewarded; he had discovered the secrets of the mighty Slytherin, and only he, the most powerful wizard to have ever lived, could enter the Chamber.
He paused for a moment, recalling that day when he had first heard of the legend. He wasn’t even sure who had mentioned it, but he was convinced that they would never have suspected the burning desire that it had ignited within him. Countless visits to the library had furnished him with the meagre supply of reading material available on the subject, and he had devoured any book that mentioned the four Founders. Night after night had been passed in the same manner, poring over books in flickering candlelight, studying until the flame had burnt itself out. Always impatient to discover the deepest secrets that the magical world held, he had slowly unravelled the tangled web, pulling away the silky threads that concealed the truth.
It hadn’t been easy, but knowing that he had uncovered the mystery in a mere five years was proof, if any more were needed, that he alone was worthy to be called the Heir of Slytherin. He had pieced together the fragments; the mighty Slytherin had built a Chamber, hidden in the castle; that Chamber contained a monster that would do his bidding and rid the school of mudbloods and filth.
Detailed study of mythology and ancient magical creatures had persuaded him that a basilisk, the King of Serpents, was the monster spoken of, and from there he had only to find the entrance to the Chamber. Locating it had been a lengthy and incredibly frustrating process. Despite his discovery of the nature of the beast contained in the depths of the school, it had offered him very few clues as to its location. He had realised that, after spending countless hours searching the most magical parts of the castle, there were only bathrooms left to investigate, and he had explored them all; those revolting, lowly places. That task had taken him the best part of three years, and yet here he was, standing in the bathroom that was the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets itself.
After the effort he had expended to reach this point, he mused how ridiculously easy it had been for him to slip away tonight. His friends – or rather his followers, for they already obeyed him blindly – had swallowed his smooth lie about prefect duties. Perhaps if they hadn’t been such incompetent fools they might have questioned why, as a fifth year, he had patrolled the castle every night for the past month. But he shouldn’t complain; if they weren’t so dim-witted, they might not worship him with such devotion, and he much preferred the latter.
Salazar Slytherin was the only person that he could ever bring himself to admire. He had been a brilliant wizard, a Parselmouth, and more importantly someone who had recognised Muggles and mudbloods for the unworthy beings they were. They didn't belong in the castle, in a place as magical as Hogwarts. Many who came before and after had shared the view, but Slytherin had been the only wizard brave and cunning enough to create a way of purging the hallowed halls of those people he so detested. Now it was time for his work to be continued and completed.
Removing the Disillusionment charm that had helped him travel so far unnoticed, he stepped up to the row of sinks, examining each one individually until he saw what he was seeking. There, carved into one of the rusting taps, was a small snake. The triumphant smile on his face widened. To see this confirmation of all his deductions was incredibly gratifying. He knew, instinctively, that this was when his real work began.
He had no problem imagining the scratches to be a living serpent, writhing in a reflection of the creature that lurked miles below. A single word was all it took.
“Open,” he commanded.
Bowing before him in acknowledgement of his power, the snake relinquished its hold and offered up its secrets, exposing a gaping hole; a tunnel twisting downwards. Far below, in the depths of the Chamber, he could hear the creature stirring and waking.
“Blood…” echoed the hiss.
Smiling, Tom Riddle spoke once more. “I am your master. I am the Heir of Slytherin.”