Chapter 3 : Plans in the Making
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“I wish that you had been sorted into Hufflepuff with me,” the girl said quickly.
“I was not even to the Slytherin table and I missed you already.”
“Do you want to sit next to me in all of our classes?”
“I would like that!”
The young pair talked quietly until they realized that the other chatter had ended as the professor entered the classroom. They looked up as Albus Dumbledore stepped to his place at the front of the room.
“Greetings and welcome to Transfiguration, first years! I am Professor Dumbledore and in this room I shall help you to understand and perform this most useful skill. Be warned, however, that this skill is not to be used on your classmates as we had an unfortunate incident last term that left the victim in a rather bad way until we were able to restore them to the correct state.”
“Now, each of you should have brought your book and quill, not to mention your wand. You shall not be using your wand for several days and therefore I must ask you to leave it safely in your robes. It is very important that you realize that this skill can be quite dangerous and that there are quite serious punishments for intentionally causing harm to another student. Now I will ask you to get out your quills so that we may begin.”
Tom and his classmates were soon busily copying the Principal Exceptions to Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration, a task which soon had the students shaking weary hands and flexing cramped fingers to work the feeling back into them. A stifled groan escaped one student when more writing began to appear on the chalkboard at the front of the room and Dumbledore continued to lead the discussion that they were copying.
“While there are the Principal Exceptions to Gamp’s Law you must understand the following,” the professor cautioned. “Transfiguration of a sentient being that is a being capable of conscious thought, rather than mere instinct, is a violation of magical law especially if it is done with the intent of harm. Be extremely cautious about what you transfigure your subject into for fear of harm, a few terms ago a dragon appeared in this classroom. This created quite a lot of panic not to mention scorched walls, parchments and hair. Lastly, pronunciation is important, mispronounce a word and the results can be unfortunate.”
“When we begin Transfiguration practice we shall start with simple items that cannot possibly be dangerous. This will involve turning beetles into buttons and then back to their original form. It is important to be able to return the subject to its proper state. Now, I see that we have only a minute before the end of class; you may put your quills away and prepare to go to your next class which will be Potions with Professor Slughorn. As I know that you have not yet had a chance to explore the castle I have provided a map of sorts to guide you to your destination. Simply watch the footsteps before you and you will find your way.”
As if in response to the words that Dumbledore had spoken, glowing green footprints appeared on the floor of the classroom. The professor smiled at his students and then spoke the final words of that first class.
“You are all dismissed.”
Molly and Tom rose as if they were glued together and joined the surge of students as they hurried out of the room and into the spacious courtyard to follow the glowing footprints on the floor. Several seventh years glanced down and smiled as they saw the guided path while remembering their own first year.
“Dumbledore wants to make certain that they do not get lost.”
“Yeah, remember our first day? You ended up down by the Quidditch Pitch headed for the Dark Forest.”
The students laughed as they continued on to class wishing that their Transfigurations were as simple as those that the first years faced.
The steps to the Potions classroom seemed to be innumerable, but finally the first years were sitting down in the classroom presided over by Horace Slughorn. The portly professor gazed out over the many new faces and settled, from time to time, on particular students. When he arrived at Tom he paused for a long moment before giving Molly the briefest of glances and then moving on. The students already knew what was coming and hurried to pull out their quills and parchment, an act that made Professor Slughorn smile broadly.
As the next hour passed, Professor Slughorn presented the students with their first reading assignment and Tom had to chance to glance around the classroom. His eyes fell immediately upon a series of photos of young people, most of whom appeared only a few years older than he. All of the students were smiling broadly in the pictures and the boy wondered if they had been students of Professor Slughorn. He was still looking at the pictures when he felt himself being poked insistently; he turned to see Molly trying frantically to get his attention.
“Tom, Professor Slughorn asked you a question.”
Tom looked up to see the eyes of the professor glaring at him and he knew that already he had done wrong.
“Mister Riddle, I shall see you after class! See that you do not leave before I speak to you.”
“Yes, Professor Slughorn.”
Minutes later the class was dismissed and Molly rose to leave the room with the remainder of the students. The girl paused at the door to look over her shoulder at Tom before another girl grabbed her and hurried her out of the room. Tom remained seated and watched as the professor approached his desk. A group of students opened the door to enter and then closed it as they caught the irritated glance that they were given by Professor Slughorn.
“Mister Riddle, I do not have many rules in my classroom, but one that is unescapable is that you must pay attention at all times. I understand that this is all new to you and that you were quite interested in everything within the room but you must stay with me. Have I made myself clear, Mister Riddle?”
The boy nodded furiously and was rewarded with a broad smile from the adult.
“Very well, no harm done then. I shall have one of the third years waiting outside lead you to your next class.”
Tom rose from his seat as the professor allowed the older students to enter and soon was walking alongside an older boy as he walked towards Defense against the Dark Arts class. It was not long before they had completed the trip to the classroom where the third year boy turned on his heal and left the first year in front of the closed door. Tom quietly opened the door and then stepped into the room to find himself the center of attention as Professor Lands looked up at the person who had entered his classroom late.
“Mister Riddle, it is only because I was informed that Professor Slughorn had kept you after class that I am not taking points from Slytherin House. Do not enter my classroom late again or you shall pay the penalty. Take your seat!”
As he looked around the room he realized that sitting next to Molly was something that was not going to happen. A girl from Hufflepuff occupied the seat next to the girl that had his interest. He walked silently to a seat at the front of the room where he was seated and soon opening his book to the page that had been written on the chalkboard. He began copying the assignment while the professor walked around the room and examined the work of his students. The class would pass slowly, but finally he was able to leave the seat that he occupied to join Molly as she left the room.
“Was Professor Slughorn mad at you?”
“No, he just told me to pay attention or he would take points from Slytherin.”
As they walked towards the Great Hall for the mid-day meal the young couple talked quietly, ignoring the looks that they were getting from the older members of their Houses. At the door to the great chamber they reluctantly released hands before walking to their own tables and sitting down.
Tom had settled down at his place when a shadow fell over him and he looked up to see an older boy from his House glaring down at him.
“You want to stay away from that girl! Try one of our girls, if you know what is good for you!”
Tom looked up at the larger boy and could read the displeasure in his expression as well as hear it in his voice. He was suddenly angry as he realized that his Housemates disapproved of what he felt for Molly. Tom treasured the affection that the girl felt for him and wasn’t ready to let it go easily or without a struggle. He glanced up at the boy, who was continuing his tirade, and a single thought came to his mind.
Abruptly, Bernard Mason could not speak. His mouth could move but no sound issued from it and the terrified boy put his hands up to his throat as fright filled his mind. A crowd began to gather around him as other students realized that something was amiss. This brought Professor Dippet to the scene and the Headmaster was soon standing near Tom while he tried to determine the cause of the problem. Tom looked up at the elderly wizard while Bernard attempted to talk while the look in his eyes betrayed his terror. It was not long before the boy was led out of the Great Hall to walk to the Hospital Wing while Tom began to enjoy the meal before them.
Around him, students talked quietly about what had just happened and staff kept casting curious glances in that direction. The most curious of all was Albus Dumbledore who sat quietly as he looked at the small dark-haired boy at the Slytherin table. He thought back to the conversation that had occurred in Tom’s room in the orphanage and remembered Tom’s comment about being able to make people and animals do things that he wanted them to. Bernard had been busy giving Tom a very hard time about something and had gone suddenly quiet immediately after Tom had given him a frightening glance. There was no doubt in Dumbledore’s mind that the dark-haired child had something to do with what had happened and he made up his mind to keep an eye on the boy.
Molly glanced across the room at the boy at the Slytherin table. She, too, had been getting warnings to stay away from him, but she felt something for Tom and wasn’t ready to part with it. This was in direct conflict with what her parents had told her about getting too close to students from Slytherin and, although she normally obeyed her parents, she didn’t see a problem with being friendly with him. The warmth that she felt when he was near was comforting and she thought that he felt the same way about her.
When lunch ended the students began to rise and the young pair hurried to meet in order to walk to class together. Charms class was next for them and Molly had heard that the professor was a stickler for promptness. Being late to his class was an easy way to earn detention and lose points for their Houses. Being a first year she understood that to lose points now was a swift way to garner the anger of old students and she had no desire to do that. She swiftly grabbed Tom’s hand and they joined the swarm of students going through their day.
Tom was considering what had happened in the Great Hall and he realized, not for the first time, that he would have an easy time dealing with anyone who gave him a problem. The girl next to him, however, was an enigma. Molly accepted him for whom he was and didn’t judge him as they had at Wool’s Orphanage. She often gave him an easy smile that was accompanied with the twinkling of her brown eyes. They arrived at the classroom of Filius Flitwick and were soon settling into their seats while the tiny professor surveyed the class before him. He also looked at each of his students and paused at each one, but the look that he gave Tom was quite different from the one that the boy had received from Professor Slughorn.
Filius Flitwick, a part-goblin, suspected that an unspoken charm had been cast at Bernard Mason and wondered which student had been able to do it. There was something about the Riddle boy that made the professor wonder if he wasn’t the one who had cast the charm. How he had been able to do it was a mystery and Professor Flitwick intended to discover how it had occurred.
This was the first time that the first years were permitted to actually draw their wands and Tom felt a surge of excitement even though he knew that the diminutive professor had cast a charm that prevented them from actually casting a charm of their own. Filius Flitwick was far more interested in them learning the wrist motions than the spell at this time, the words would come later. The students waited patiently as the professor walked from one of them to the next to correct their movements. It was not long before the Professor was standing next to him and praising him.
“Mister Riddle, that is excellent! You have a very nice wrist movement and I am certain that, once we begin the charms themselves you shall have no difficulty performing them. Well done!”
He watched as Professor Flitwick moved on to Molly and heard similar praise going her direction. What troubled the boy was the fact that he couldn’t seem to concentrate on something that he wanted to try. A boy from Gryffindor had created an issue for him and he wanted the child to get into trouble, but he couldn’t form the thoughts that he needed to get the job done. No doubt the charm that the professor had cast was interfering with what he wanted to do and it wasn’t wise to anger the tiny wizard. That had been proven when a student from Slytherin had walked into class late and had been subjected to Filius Flitwick’s wrath.
Obviously the thing to do, the boy reasoned, was to make the professors as happy with him as he could. That meant being kind to everyone and following the rules to the letter. He was going to have to do what he had done with Martha, make them believe that he was in complete compliance with everything that they wanted him to do. Molly was setting an example to follow and he knew that if he followed her lead any eyes upon him would look the other way.
The class ended soon enough and it was time for the first years to get a chance to go to a room off of the library to work on assignments before they had flying practice. Tom knew that witches and wizards flew brooms, he had seen books about that in the library at the orphanage, but he really hadn’t believed it. Now it was proven to be true and he couldn’t wait to try his hand at something that he had always wanted to do, fly!
He walked with the group to the large room where he and Molly sat down to study and read the assigned pages. The spell book that he had was large and heavy, but he opened it quickly to read what Professor Dumbledore had told them to. He wanted to impress Dumbledore, for he had the impression that the wizard still suspected him of various things and he knew also that his actions against the other orphans had caused concern. Dumbledore was the wizard that he had to work the hardest to impress, of that there was no doubt, and there was no time better than the present.
There was also, however, Professor Flitwick, who had seemed rather suspicious of him and this Tom realized was another classroom that he needed to excel in. He needed to garner the best marks that he could and hopefully have the highest marks in his year. This and his efforts to seem blameless were what he needed to impress the small wizard.
When the hour ended he and Molly hurried to make their way to the flying practice field where they and several other first years waited for the arrival of their professor. Already several brooms lay in neat rows as they waited for the students that would soon ride them. In the distance, the first years could see one of the Quidditch teams hard at practice and they were dazzled by the agility that the students dressed in yellow were exhibiting. A moment later a familiar figure appeared before them with a loud POP and they found themselves facing none other than Professor Armando Dippet.
“Greetings, first years and welcome to your flying class where I am sure you will enjoy yourselves. Now, your professor is currently on leave and, until that time that he returns, you shall have various professors filling in. The thing that is most important in this class is safety because you eventually will be traveling at the height and speed that those students are. Every one of those students at one time was standing exactly where you are now and was just as apprehensive as I am certain many of you are. There is no need to worry because we are going to take the lessons one step at a time to prevent injury.”
“Now, step up to the right side of your broom and say up while at the same time concentrating on what you want the broom to do. Keeping your concentration is very important especially when you are in the air.”
The students were soon grasping their broomsticks and, under the guidance of the Headmaster, sitting astride them. A moment later, Tom found himself hovering a meter off of the ground before leaning forward to settle back to the ground. Somehow, the feel of the ground under his feet was different than it had ever been before and somehow disappointing. He found himself elated when they were allowed to hover once again, this time a foot higher than before.
Tom swiftly proved to be gifted at this as student after student was unceremoniously dumped onto the ground after falling from their broom. Luckily no injuries resulted and the students were soon on their brooms once again much to the pleasure of Professor Dippet. Headmaster Armando Dippet was extremely happy with this crop of first years; most of them were showing promise on the brooms, especially Tom Riddle. The boy seemed to be a natural at flying, despite the fact that he had grown up in a Muggle orphanage and had had no previous experience on a broom.
It was a disappointed group of first years that had to surrender the brooms when class ended and they soon were walking towards the greenhouses for Herbology class. The professor, Herbert Beery, was another no nonsense sort and within fifteen minutes Tom had decided that he didn’t like the wizard. Still, this was the final class of the day and the boy made the best of it as he followed directions as they were given. When the class was dismissed Tom wasted no time leaving the classroom, much to Molly’s dismay for she had found that she rather liked the class and wanted to linger. But Tom gripped her hand tightly and they were soon walking back towards the point where they would have to part to go their respective common rooms.
Reluctantly Tom allowed Molly to pull her hand from his and he watched as she ascended the stairs that would take her to the Hufflepuff common rooms before walking down his own stairs. He knew that he would see her soon enough when they arrived at the Great Hall for dinner and that he would have to content himself with his thoughts of the girl. He and several other Slytherin made their way down the stairs and down the length of a corridor which led to the portrait of an evil looking witch where the student in the lead gave the password that permitted entry.
When he arrived in his dorm he flopped back onto his bed where he lay staring up at the ceiling. He had seen Bernard and the boy had been able to talk once again, but he doubted that Bernard knew exactly what had happened to him and that was a good thing. Bernard was a Prefect and attacking him could lead to expulsion from Hogwarts and that was something that Tom didn’t want to chance. Still, Tom didn’t like to be told what to do and had no intention of avoiding Molly no matter what anyone said about the relationship.
‘He can tell me to be in the common room by a certain time and what to do when necessary, but he cannot tell me who I can like! He cannot tell me and I will not listen, I do not care what he says, and the next time he tries I might just have to actually make him hurt. Then we will see just how brave he is, he is no different than Billy and Billy was really easy to make do what I want. Bernard will not be any different, even if he is not a Muggle.’
The remainder of the day went surprisingly fast and, once in the Great Hall, Tom hated to see supper end. This meant that he would not see Molly for the remainder of the night and yet another incredibly long night thinking about the girl.
As he lay in bed that night Tom thought about the girl, her dazzling smile and kind nature, but he was thinking about other things. There were students here in Slytherin, both in his year and older, that were not as capable as he but still useful.
It was how useful they would be that he had yet to think of.
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