Chapter 14 : Malfoy at a Loss
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Molly had been caught in the crossfire when she had innocently been overheard discussing her marks on an exam with a friend and Abraxas had decided that the girl was talking about him. He had confronted the girl in the corridor and reduced her to tears with his course language before the unthinkable had happened. Molly, upset and confused, had responded to a crude remark that the boy had made about her and her family. In the middle of his tirade Molly had slapped the boy hard across the face in front of a group of his friends.
Infuriated by the strike Abraxas had drawn his wand in anger and was about to strike when someone in the crowd had put a boy-bind on him and he had crashed to the floor to land on his face. All eyes had turned to see Tom with his wand drawn, his eyes filled with fury as he looked down at the paralyzed boy. Professor Dumbledore had appeared swiftly and the gathered students had scattered leaving only Tom, Molly and Abraxas at the scene.
“What has happened here?”
Molly burst into tears as she explained what had happened between Abraxas and herself, freely admitting to striking the boy first. Then Tom had admitted to using the body-bind when Abraxas had drawn his wand in anger. Dumbledore looked down at the boy who lay on the floor before casting a counter. The prone boy stirred before rolling over and then reaching up to grab his swollen nose before rising and running towards the Hospital Wing. He did not get far before he was frozen in place and the young professor stepped up to him before releasing him.
“Mister Malfoy, the next time that you walk or run away from a staff member will result in a trip to Professor Dippet’s office, am I understood?”
Abraxas nodded as he held his hand over his nose in an attempt to staunch the blood that was flowing from it. He glared at Molly and then at Tom as he began to realize just what had happened to result in his collision with the floor.
“Now, it is my understanding that you have been giving Miss Porter a difficult time regarding marks. Is this correct?”
“I am sorry, Mister Malfoy, but I do not believe that I heard you correctly! What did you say?”
“Yes, Professor Dumbledore, I have been giving her a difficult time about marks. But she had no business discussing mine with another student.”
“I was not discussing your marks with her, I was discussing marks in general, Abraxas! If you had taken time to listen correctly since you had taken the time to listen to someone else’s conversation you would have known what we were talking about. I have no interest in you, your school work or you marks and I truly wish that you would leave me alone!” Molly cut in, her eyes blazing with fury.
“He had no business casting the body-bind on me,” the boy shouted as he pointed at Tom. “Look what he did to me! I think that my nose is broken!”
“It is my understanding that you drew your wand first with the intent to inflict harm on Miss Porter and that Mister Riddle prevented that from happening. I would call his actions justified and therefore he shall receive no punishment. You, on the other hand, shall lose one hundred points for your House for drawing your wand with the intent to inflict harm.”
“One hundred points for that? That is outrageous and unfair and I shall speak to Professor Dippet about it. I will see you sacked, Professor Dumbledore! My family and I shall see you sacked and them thrown out of this school!”
“Mister Malfoy, before you make threats like that I would make certain that you can carry them out. As it is, if Miss Porter decides that she feels strongly enough about it she can speak to Professor Dippet and have you expelled for drawing your wand in anger.”
Abraxas gasped as realization hit him and he nodded his understanding. Then, as loathe as he was to do it, he spoke to the girl.
“I am terribly sorry about what I said and did, Molly. Will you forgive me?”
“I will forgive you, but if you ever do anything like that again I shall go straight to Professor Dippet and have you thrown out of this school. I also want you to stay away from me! I do not want you to talk to me or even look at me. I do not like you in any way, shape or form and will not tolerate you being so callous again.”
The boy nodded and then watched as the girl turned on her heel and stalked away. Tom waited for a moment and then he too left the scene, leaving Abraxas to face the professor alone.
“Mister Malfoy, Miss Porter has made her feelings quite clear and I would suggest that you abide by her wishes. Now, go to the Hospital Wing and have that nose repaired and your robes cleaned, you are quite a sight.”
The boy nodded again and then turned to walk away from the professor that had just dressed him down. He was angry beyond belief at Molly and Dumbledore, but he was even angrier with Tom.
‘I thought that we were friends, Tom, but I guess not. Watch your back, Riddle, do not forget that I know things that you do not want found out. Make any more mistakes like this one and you will find yourself out of this school and back in that Muggle home that you hated so much.’
As he walked towards Charms class with Molly, Tom thought about the problems that he had made with Malfoy. The boy could be a formidable enemy, he had connections vital to the success of the plans that they were making and without his influence those plans could wither on the vine. Obviously the damage would need to be repaired and amends made with Malfoy.
The girl next to him, however, had no such useful connections. Her friends tended to avoid him and would not consider coming to his aid, something that made Molly Porter a liability. It was true that he felt something for the girl but she was standing in the way of his control of the school. He didn’t want to be shed of her, the separation before had been too painful and she acted as a buffer to keep him out of trouble. If she left him he had no witness to say that he had been innocent when something happened in the castle. She was reliable for this and the professors and prefects tended to believe what she said.
All eyes in the classroom had turned to Abraxas as he stalked into the room after visiting the Hospital Wing. Professor Flitwick had begrudgingly accepted the pass that the boy had handed to him and then had directed the boy to his seat so that the lesson could continue.
Molly was enjoying the lesson and ignored the glares that the boy directed at her and Tom. Abraxas drew his wand and then began to practice the lesson although his mind was not on his work and this soon showed. Alfred Goyle, sensing the distraction of the boy, surreptitiously nudged Abraxas’ arm which threw the aim of the boy off. The charm that the boy was casting collided with the charm of another which resulted in a thunderclap of noise and a nearly blinding flash of light. Screams sounded as children were frightened and lost control of their own charms. Repetitive thunderclaps and flashes of light filled the room before children managed to hurry from their seats and out of the classroom. A thoroughly outraged Filius Flitwick rounded on the boy as soon as he managed to find him.
“You did that deliberately Mister Malfoy! You created a disturbance that interrupted class and prevented others from learning.”
“But I did not mean to, Professor Flitwick, my arm got bumped and I lost control of the charm.”
“Then tell me who bumped your arm, Mister Malfoy, and it shall be that person who is disciplined. Should you not decide to tell me who was responsible it shall be you who loses points for Slytherin!”
Abraxas shot a stealthy glance at Goyle before making his decision and speaking.
“I will not tell you, Professor Flitwick.”
“Very well, I am taking ten points from Slytherin House for the disturbance and five points for your cheeky attitude.”
Tom felt his cheeks flush with anger as he heard his House lose fifteen points. They had lost one hundred and fifteen points because of Malfoy in less than an hour and now had no chance of winning the House Cup unless some other House lost an incredible amount of points for something. Malfoy was becoming a liability and only his connections were keeping him safe from retaliation for it.
The students walked back into the jumbled classroom a moment before a whirlwind swept through the room and set things straight. Molly picked up the wand that she had dropped in the confusion and went back to the task at hand. It was not long before other students were following her example and the girl ignored more glances shot at her by the boy across the room from her.
Filius Flitwick patrolled his classroom and was pleased as the Porter girl displayed a growing prowess in his class. She exhibited extreme control of what she was doing and seemed to have a calming effect on Tom Riddle. The Slytherin boy was attentive to her and seemed to want to please the girl therefore paying close attention in order to impress her. The young couple had been seen sitting together in various parts of the castle as well as exchanging kisses. This was discouraged at their tender age, but they remained undeterred and as long as the affection did not progress to a higher form nothing was said about it. The staff knew that the girl was rebelling against the wishes of her parents, but also knew that she had made her choice and that the consequences would be severe when the situation was found out.
A few minutes later the class ended and he watched as the children rose to walk to the area reserved for study. Molly and Tom left as though tied together and soon disappeared into the crowd bound for the study area where they would sit together to do their assignments. They were followed swiftly by Malfoy and his chums. None of the three were happy with the increased attention that their friend was showing to the girl. Cracks had appeared in their alliance and she was the main wedge that was spreading them. Obviously she needed to be dealt with, but the probability of confrontation with Tom was an ominous one.
Tom, despite his quiet demeanor, was frightening. He was more than little capable of inflicting pain on someone who had angered him without appearing that he had done so. He seemed to be able to cause things to happen without the use of a wand and held the power of suggestion as a mighty weapon. He could make people do things by merely thinking about it and had demonstrated the ability with weak minded opponents. Many of the first year students and some of the older ones at Hogwarts had been victims of his suggestions, much to their discomfort, and Tom seemed to revel in his capability. He was definitely a force to be reckoned with should they move against Molly Porter.
The girl was also a force to be considered. She was proving to be very capable with her wand. That and the fact that the staff considered her a reliable student who tried to stay out of trouble made her a target to be cautious around. She was highly intelligent and saw through their ploys to get closer to her. The incident in Diagon Alley had proven that and she had rejected the other boys as well. Tom had her attention and she wasn’t likely to sway from him. She also had the advantage of being the daughter of well thought of and influential parents. None of their families had the standing that the Porters did and that frightened even Malfoy. One word from the girl could create a massive amount of trouble for his family and that was the last thing that he wanted. The grandparents of the girl owned much of the land around the holdings of the Malfoys and had made no secret of the fact that they were waiting to claim the land as well as Malfoy Manor for their own.
Molly sat silently as the trio entered the room and refused to spare them a glance while she concentrated on her Potions assignment. She had very nearly completed filling the parchment that she had started and was reading a passage that promised to provide answers to questions that had been posed. Tom nudged her gently and she looked to see him pointing out an answer that had been evading her. The boy was easily her equal in potions and seemed to have a knack for creating correct mixtures, much to the pleasure of Professor Slughorn. The portly professor acted as though the pair had been a gift from Merlin when the girl and boy had entered his classroom for the first time and demonstrated their abilities.
Professor Horst walked around the room while she kept her charges on task as well as quiet. Here and there whispers could be detected and, as long as they were related to school assignments, she was inclined to overlook them. She smiled as she watched the pretty blonde child finish filling a parchment and then reach into her bag for another. The boy next to her was an enigma, and the professor wasn’t certain that she could ever be as fond of him as she was of the girl. Tom Riddle made her uneasy when he looked at her, almost as if he was searching for any sign of weakness or a way into her mind. She was a fairly talented in Occlumens as well as a Legilimens and had detected faint probes against her defenses. Though she could not prove that the boy was responsible, the incidents often took place when the boy was in her presence.
This had become especially common since she had taken on the post of Flying instructor. Professor Dippet, having enough to do already, had offered her the post after learning of her prowess on a broom during Quidditch matches as a student. As she was already a junior professor at Hogwarts and he needed a teacher, she had been an obvious choice for the post.
Now she was watching the study hall as she thought about the fact that these first years would soon be astride brooms during her class. They were all fairly capable although there were exceptions as always. As she walked around the room she was unaware of the gaze that Tom had her fixed with. He wanted to know what she was thinking about and knew that he could find out if he tried hard enough. The idea of trying once again to get into the mind of the professor was nearly intoxicating and he decided that it was worth the risk.
Emiline Horst winced as a sharp headache struck her and the feeling like fingers running through her brain made her almost nauseous. She staggered briefly and then regained her balance before the sensation ended and she was able to focus once again. Glancing at Tom she saw that he was concentrating on his assignment and seemed to be completing the parchment that he had in front of him. There was no sign that he had been concentrating on her at all. She turned back to her patrol and tried to forget the incident, but she was certain of one thing, someone had attempted to breach her mind.
Tom had managed to break the connection before the professor was able to determine who was responsible. She was much more challenging than the Muggles at the orphanage had been because she knew how to shield her thoughts. He tried to concentrate on his assignment but the headache that had resulted from the attempt was troubling him and he knew that he had to try to act as though nothing had happened.
Abraxas hadn’t missed the situation and had seen the responses by both participants. Clearly Tom had done something to create the momentary difficulty of the professor. The boy knew that Tom could influence someone by thinking about what he wanted and obviously he had tried it with Professor Horst.
The remainder of the class time seemed to drag but finally the children rose to walk with the professor to Flying practice where the brooms were already lying in rows on the ground. If a Muggle had managed to see the preparations for class they would have been astounded by the spectacle. As if on cue the door to the shed where the brooms were kept would open and the practice brooms would come out on their own in a single file line until they reached the class area. Then they would separate into two equal lines where they would come to rest until called upon. At the end of the class for the first years they would reverse their trek and then the door would close behind the last one in. The first years would then report to their final class of the day and Professor Beery in Herbology.
Abraxas watched as Molly took hold of her hovering broom before mounting it. She was good at flying, although not his equal, he had been practicing on a broom since he had learned to walk well. This meant that the boy was the most accomplished in the class, a fact that he refused to let his classmates forget. He climbed onto his broom and then soared into the air to get into position for the lesson of the day. From his vantage point he could see Molly approaching his altitude and that she seemed to be slightly nervous about it. They had never been this high before and there was a wind blowing that they had to compensate for. A fall from this height would be dangerous and certain to produce injuries. He wondered if he could cause the girl to fall without being obvious and knew that the chance would be fleeting if at all.
Molly grasped the broomstick tightly as she gained altitude knowing fully well that she was above her comfort zone. She didn’t like the height, the wind that was blowing or the glare that Abraxas was sending her. He had lost points for his House because of her today and appeared to be sizing her up for something unpleasant.
A tweet from the whistle caught her attention and she watched as the follow the leader that Professor Horst had planned began. She dipped the front of her broomstick and began to descend to follow the person in front of her. In doing so she lost sight of Abraxas, who was right behind her, and her chance to see what he was doing.
Abraxas tilted his broom to follow the girl and pointed the nose of the stick at the rear of her broom. He knew that the slightest collision could throw her from the broom and to the ground some twenty meters below. A fall from this height would do the trick and he closed the distance while intently staring at the back of Molly Porter. He maneuvered his broom to take it on a collision course and began to gauge the time for impact. The chances that he would fall from the broom were small, he knew what was coming, but the girl did not.
Tom noticed the situation from where he was far behind the pair. He watched in horror as the broom of his Housemate closed inexorably on that of his girlfriend. It was at that point that he did the only thing that he could.
‘Molly, look out behind you!’
The girl, hearing a voice in her head, a voice that shouldn’t have been there, turned her head to look over her shoulder. Her eyes widened as she realized that an impact was almost certain and pushed her broom downwards in a dive, a move that threw Abraxas’ aim off. Abraxas spurred his broom in pursuit of the girl and Molly could only rely on the fact that she was much lighter than the boy and therefore much faster. Tom watched as the pair skimmed along just above the tree tops and knew that sooner or later Abraxas would catch Molly. He was also suddenly aware that Abraxas was drawing his wand and that meant that there was only one thing that he could do.
Abraxas, intent on the girl, began to draw his wand just as a tree limb seemed to reach outward to grab his broom. The sudden jerk threw the broom off balance and towards the ground while the boy lost the grip he had on his wand and it flew back in his slipstream. He fought to regain control of his broom but it seemed to have a mind of its own as it sped towards the earth below. Those above him could only watch as he seemed to gain control at the last moment and then the tip of the broomstick dipped into the ground. Instantly Abraxas was airborne again, a situation that was short lived. He crashed into the ground in the center of a briar patch and was immediately enveloped by the thorny plant that he had come to rest in. Professor Horst and the remainder of the class landed as short distance away and then ran to the downed student.
He was just trying to get free of the entangling thorns when the first person arrived. An instant later the briars seemed to recede as the wand of the professor cast a charm on them. Battered, cut and bloody, Abraxas Malfoy emerged from the flora to face an enraged professor.
“Just what were you trying to do, Mister Malfoy? Why were you so low to the ground, you could have been killed!”
“I lost control of my broom and had just regained it when I hit the ground.”
“You lost control of your broom? And how did you do that? You are one of the best in the class on a broom and all that you had to do was play follow the leader.”
“He was trying to knock me off of my broom,” a small female voice announced.
Professor Horst turned to see Molly Porter standing behind her with tears running down her cheeks as she sobbed.
“He was trying to do what, Miss Porter?”
“He was trying to knock me off of my broom! He was following me far too close and fast and, I if had not seen him he would have succeeded.”
“Is this true, Mister Malfoy? Did you try to knock Miss Porter off of her broom? Do not try to lie because I can ask the students who were behind you what they saw. Did you try to knock her off of her broom?”
“I have already told you what happened, Professor Horst, I lost control of my broom and she just happened to be in the way. I did not try to do anything except try to regain control of the broom. She is lying about me the same as she always does.”
The professor turned to the other students and asked them a single question.
“Did anyone see what actually happened?”
Abraxas looked at the students, including Tom, with a venomous gaze that promised problems if they informed on him.
“I thought that he was far too close to her,” a girl responded, “she tried to evade him, but he stayed on her tail. Something flew past me as I followed him and I thought that it was part of his broom but now I am not so certain.”
“Mister Malfoy, would you mind producing your wand?”
“Why should I do that?”
“You should produce it because I want you too!”
“I lost it while on the broom, I have no idea where it is.”
Emiline Horst gazed at the boy who returned the gaze without flinching. There was far more to this than he was relating she realized and an investigation into the incident was warranted. If the girl had broken from the group to evade him there was far more than what he was saying going on. An out of control broom was not unheard of, but if he had maintained enough control to chase her, the situation was quite different.
“Very well, Mister Malfoy, in light of this event I shall bring Professor Dippet into the situation. Until we have looked into this you are suspended from Flying practice and your parents shall be informed of the issue.”
“That is outrageous! I did nothing wrong, but I am going to be punished.”
“You are not being punished, merely being given some free time away from class.”
“My father shall hear about this.”
“I am quite certain that he shall because he will need to be at the inquiry into this incident.”
“What about my wand? I will need it for classes.”
“Accio will not work because I will summon every wand in the area. If you can determine the general area where it might have fallen we may be able to retrieve it.”
“It all happened so fast that I have no idea where it might have gone.”
“This is a very large forest, Mister Malfoy, and it may have landed among the tree branches. I am afraid that we may never find it.”
“But we have to,” the boy said with a quavering voice, “that wand has been in my family for generations. My father will be very angry with me if it is lost.”
“I am sorry, Mister Malfoy, but there is simply no way for us to know where it landed.”
The boy turned and ran from the scene with his face in his hands while the other students began the trip back to the castle. Tom, near the back of the group, waited until no one was watching and then stepped into the tree line to pick up the wand that had fallen there and then slipping it into his robes. This could be a useful tool to bring Malfoy back to the fold and also to convince him to leave Molly alone.
Tom was all about using tools and Abraxas Malfoy, without realizing it, had become a very valuable tool indeed.
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