"He's around 5 and a half feet tall, um… he has dark brown hair that comes to his ears and he has… hazel eyes! Yes, hazel!"
"There are lot of boys that fit that description in London, Madam Geoffrey. Do you have a picture so that we can have a better idea about who we're looking for?"
"Uh… here. That's him when he was seven years old. He may look a bit older now but you could still recognise him."
"And you said that his name was Silas?"
"Theodore. Silas is his middle name."
"Alright. I'll start up a search party as soon as I get this picture to my superiors."
"Thank you, thank you!"
The heavy rain showered against the windows of the local police station, as the night was just as glum as the recent weeks. Two weeks, the boy went missing. Two weeks went by when little Elise came into her office to tell her that Theodore had ran away. Two weeks, which were easily the most painful moments of her life. Madam was quivering in her seat near the entrance, her eyes reddened by constant tears that she wept during the previous nights. Beside her was Elise, who also looked deeply saddened. The little girl was the last person to see the boy before he had disappeared, so was called in as a witness. Madam didn't want any of the children to be involved with the current matters, but it was necessary.
They had waited in the station for nearly three hours, shivering at the deathly cold that flew in through the futile windows. Illness was around the corner but they were stubborn on finding the 'lost' boy. To them, he was just led by his anger to choose a bad decision. Elise coughed into her red hands, and trapped the heat from her breath as she rubbed them together.
"Huddle up closer, dear. We haven't got long left." Madam said while covering Elise under her right arm.
"Do you know what's the time?" Elise's eyes were droopy and uneven. She could've slept inside the station without a second's notice.
"It's almost half past eleven. They'll finish up nice and quick, then we can go home, alright?" Elise yawned.
"Do you think that he's going to be okay?"
"Theodore's a smart boy. He'll be able to take of himself, even if he's acting reckless. I just hope that he found a place somewhere."
"He didn't look okay when I last saw him. He looked happy that he was leaving. Do you think it's because of Louise?" Madam nodded slowly, then sighed. All of it had to be because of Louise. She had seen this twice before at her time in Stuggle's. Two children who meant the world to each other, are separated. The one left behind leaves to find the other one, only to never turn up anywhere, ever. Madam couldn't go through that again. Those demons had never left her after those days.
Thirty more minutes passed and Elise was knocked out, snoring quietly on Madam's lap. Madam was feeling worn out as well but had to hold on. Any minute now, someone would tell her that the search would be on and that they could finally go sleep. Any minute now…
"Excuse me? Madam?" A thin police officer with a bushy moustache lightly shook the woman and child. "They finalised and approved the search. The parties will be active by six o'clock, tomorrow morning. You're free to go home, now." Madam shook the officer's hand and thanked him repeatedly before carrying the sleeping Elise to Gretchen's car. Gretchen looked particularly docile and robotic in the driver's seat, being unresponsive to the doors opening. After laying Elise along the back seats, Madam strapped herself in the passengers seat and instructed the driver.
"What did they say," asked Gretchen quietly.
"They're going to look for him in the morning. The bastards can't even start right now. It's an abomination, if you ask me."
"The boy doesn't know what he's doing. London is a dangerous place to be a child and alone. Wherever he is…"
"…yes." Madam looked out of her window, shedding a tear at the thought of Theodore encountering the worst of what London had to offer…
Theodore was happily feasting on a stack of freshly made pancakes with his favourite syrup, a plate of crispy bacon with scrambled eggs and three buttered toast. The boy was especially hungry after the tiring night of sweeping the Cauldron. The previous day featured a man called Gribblegork's, birthday, a wizard with furious-looking eyebrows and hair. Everyone had downed themselves in beer and happiness, except for Theodore, and left quite a mess with cups and kegs all over the floor. Tom promised Theodore an extravaganza breakfast the next morning, and the man held up his end of the deal.
The young Heir of Slytherin had spent the past few hours, explaining most of his school life to the Padalins, engaging the two with interesting stories about how he snuck through the hallways at night, and how he'd be stuck with Snape throughout most of the year. Erveris knew the infamous Potions professor, as Snape was in the year below him when he was at Hogwarts. According to him, he and Harry's mother were inseparable, always together until he called her something so vile that Erveris stopped in his sentence.
"Was it 'Mudblood'?"
"Theodore! Since when did you know that word?!"
"I'm not a child, I do know things."
"You don't ever use that word, my boy," exclaimed Terry as she stirred her cup of hot chocolate with a self-moving spoon. "Only the most horrid of people would dare to say that!"
"Promise?" Theodore rolled his eyes and gave her a little smirk.
"I promise, Ms Padalin." Here he was, making promises with old ladies when he should be home with Viripin.
"Never really liked Severus. Was always part of the suspicious lot, you know? You Know Who fanatics and all. A day wouldn't go by when he and your uncle would clash in the hallways, always hexing each other. Valerie wasn't proud of either of them, which is probably why she and Lily had a mutual respect for each other."
"Have you ever spoken to Mum before?" The word 'Mum' felt weird in his mouth but he liked it. Made him feel as if she was alive and well. Theodore suddenly looked closer to Erveris, who's face turned completely red. Theodore turned to Terly, who chuckled as she looked in opposite direction. "You didn't… you did?!"
"I never did… anything! In fact, your mum thought that I was a waste of time! S-she'd reject me in the hallways and would cast me into the Black Lake if I ever got close! She was a vicious girl, but that's what I liked about her. How could you resist her when she had all of that in-"
"Please! Just… stop talking. Please." Theodore couldn't imagine Erveris following his mother around like a lovesick puppy, constantly barraging her with annoyance and insistent talking. Actually he sort of could imagine that. Matter of fact, he had the same problems that his mother countered all those years ago. Lavender and Parvati were two stubborn girls.
"I did tell you to listen to what I had to say about winning her heart, Erveris. You didn't know how to talk to women then, and you most certainly don't know how to talk to them now. Perhaps you should take tips from Theodore over here."
"Mum!" Terly shrugged and took a large gulp from her mug. "Anyways, what do you have planned for today? Are you going to read some more or are you going back to the orphanage?"
"I'm not going back! At least, not right now. There's still more stuff to do here."
"I don't know like," the boy said as he turned to the backdoor, "going to Diagon Alley. It's halfway through the summer and I'm going to need new stuff." The Padalins gave each other anxious stares. Terly sighed and pushed her mug across the table.
"Theodore, school is a long way away. You don't have to go school shopping in a while. Tell me why you don't want to go back to the orphanage." Terly asked gently. Theodore stared at the empty plates, that had pools of syrup and fat forming in the middle. First Elise, then Dumbledore and now them? Why did everyone want him back at Stuggle's? What is the point of having an entirely separate world, if you still leave magic children behind? It was unfair and idiotic.
"Theo, talk to us. We're sort of like your family if you think about it," said Erveris. "It's okay to talk about it, we'll listen." Theodore's eyes were still trained on the plates. His skin was sweltering as he couldn't pinpoint what he was feeling at that moment. Anger, sadness, confusion? Maybe all three? He didn't want to know.
"No, you're alright. I think I'll go to my room. I need to clean it anyways." Theodore piled his plates upon each other and walked over to the kitchens to drop them in the sink. Various other wizards and witches took notice of the boy and greeted him as he walked by. He'd nod his head politely but didn't stop for conversation. Not like there was anything to talk about. He walked up to Room 13 and closed the door behind him. His room was spotless. He walked to the chair near the window and plopped himself on it rather clumsily. There was no need for graceful theatrics.
Theodore looked down to the street below, recognising a few children from his year going in and out of the various stores. A lot of them scurried into Flourish and Blott's, the place where Hogwarts' textbooks were bought. Naturally, having no money meant that Theodore would have to rely on the school funding again, which was embarrassing due to the independency he wanted to display to others. Dumbledore was the only person he knew that would come for him and Theodore didn't even know if the old man wanted to. He seemed persistent that he'd return to the orphanage. Theodore's eyes trailed up Diagon Alley with boredom, not noticing Sawer, Tom's owl, flapping above the window while butting his head.
"Sorry Sawer. Just zoned out there. You got another letter?" The owl peeked into his pouch and brought out two differently coloured envelopes, one dark-blue and sleek with the other possessing a dirty-cream colour with ripped corners.
"You didn't drop this in a river, did you?" Sawer shook his head and perched himself on Theodore's left shoulder. He wasn't that big and his defined talons didn't seem to cut into his flesh. Theodore decided to open the crude-looking envelope first because he was well aware that it couldn't have been any of his friends. The flimsy material tore easily as Theodore took out the letter inside. It had around the same quality as the envelope, and did not look any prettier with the green stain on the corner.
Don't send letters to Dob me, as famile are being susp very mean. I'll see you, later.
From Dob Harry.
This was not Harry. This was definitely not Harry. The handwriting was flying all over the paper, there were basic spelling mistakes, including his name at the beginning, and the impersonator had crossed their name out twice. Harry's handwriting was a hundred times better than this. Whoever was trying to trick him was an absolute failure. Didn't they have better things to do than to waste their existence on pranks? Terrible ones too.
Theodore scrunched the letter and chucked in the bin beside the desk. He sliced the other envelope open and took the letter from inside. He even smelt a hint of strawberries and apples waft from inside. Either somebody was trying to catch his attention or they really liked spraying their letters. The letter said:
Due to some complications, Professor Dumbledore will not be able to escort you through Diagon Alley during the summer. He wished that I myself, would take his place at accompanying you on the 25th of August. He did not disclose the matter with anyone but did wish you good luck. And he told me to pass onto you to "do the right thing". I hope that it makes sense for you. I will see you on that day, Mr Riddle. Do not be late.
"Theodore, are you there?" Theodore hid the note in his pocket as Sawer flapped about before settling down.
"Yeah! Um, you can come in!" Tom entered the room with a red face, like he ran a five mile marathon in a minute.
"I need to borrow Sawer really quickly… Ministry business."
"Thanks. Here, Sawer!" The owl flew to his owner and landed on Tom's arm, making him wince at pain of the claws slicing into him. Theodore was alone, looking at the paper from McGonagall. The 25th was four days away from now. He didn't realise how long he had been at the Leak Cauldron for. It seemed like it was yesterday when he left the front door of Stuggle's. At the time, it was a spur of the moment type of thing, but now he almost regretted it. Viripin was the only thing that he missed over there but other than that, he couldn't care less.
As he returned to eyeing the wizards and witches below, he noticed three witches and a small creature hobble into a junction nearer to the Cauldron. The witches looked like Terly, ragged and mucky only they didn't make it look pleasant in the slightest. Thin white hair, visibly rotted teeth and ripped clothing that exposed their dry, bumpy skin. They looked exactly like the Muggle interpretation of what a witch would look like, and they looked repulsive. The smaller creature in front quickly disappeared through the diverting alleyway, not giving Theodore a chance to see it in full detail. He did, however notice pointed ears and a protruding nose, nothing else. All four of them heading into a part of Diagon Alley that Theodore was not aware of.
'Maybe if I just took a look at what's over there, I could really make this an interesting summer.' Theodore left his room with his wand in his back pocket, and walked down the steps slowly. He didn't want to burst onto the main floor and have everyone look at him. As he reached the bottom, he panned over the pub to see if Erveris and Terly were still there. Terly could not be seen but Erveris was at the front counter, chugging down pints of butterbeer with three other wizards and a witch, in a completion of sorts. The boy slipped away to the back door and went through without gaining a single glance to his being. The small courtyard looked a bit cleaner than the last time he saw it but the broken sign hadn't moved an inch. Theodore walked over to the towering wall and reached for his wand. He imitated the pattern that Dumbledore had done last year against the hole in the wall and sure enough, the bricks moved and shifted until a pathway formed in front of him.
Diagon Alley was still as bright as ever, smiles of the old and young beaming through the windows as they revelled in their glorious setting. A witch had enchanted a paper aeroplane to whizz around above her head as a little girl screamed in delight at the magical act. Theodore walked a little forward as a family of four politely asked to move pass. Now that he was down here, the mysterious alleyway had to be somewhere nearby. He darted his head side to side to look for any archway that obviously led to somewhere else. Nothing, nothing… nothing again. 'Where the hell is it, for God's sake! It was right here!'
"Lost, dear boy? Madam Milkin's is right down there if you need some robes," said an elderly wizard.
"I don't need robes."
"No? Then what are you looking for?"
"Don't worry," said Theodore as he rudely turned his back and started to look again. He looked to the left, to the right and back again until he noticed what he had been looking for. He had to admit, it wasn't easy to spot due to being well hidden along the high walls that enclosed the entire road. The archway was lowered and thin with an aged sign reading, 'Knockturn Alley'. Theodore peered inside as an uncomfortable sensation grew in his stomach. Black, grey and just more black. It was like a storm of soot blew straight into the alley, coating every inch with its black mass. He was beginning to have second thoughts when the same wizard tapped his shoulder.
"Knockturn Alley isn't a place for little boys like you," whispered the old man with fear in his voice. "You shouldn't go in there!"
"I'll do as I please, thank you very much. Now stop bothering me."
"Young man…" Theodore walked straight through the archway, ignoring what the wizard had to say. He quickly paced along the tight and distorted corners while the wizard's pleas were drowned by the distance between the two. The more Theodore moved deeper in the Alley, the more he wished that he listened to what the man had to say. No use wishing now. The lack of sunlight from the shielding stores and buildings made it quite difficult to manoeuvre as Theodore had tripped up a few times. Cloaked wizards and witches looked over their shoulders at the rare sight of a young boy alone in the repulsive alley.
"Where you off to, little boy?" A hulking man in a bundle of black robes asked.
"Nowhere… and I'm not a little boy."
"You sure look like one. Did mummy forget to hold your hand?" He guffawed as several others suddenly came out from the shadows, joining the man in the maniacal laughter.
"Look at the kid, he's terrified!"
"Handsome one as well!"
"Who's your old man, huh? One of them famous models?"
"N-no…" Theodore slowly backed away as everyone started to close in on him. The cackling and jeering seemed to get louder and louder as they entrapped the small boy. Theodore's heart was racing on its on accord as Theodore darted his eyes to try and find a little opening for an escape. It seemed as if they were multiplying with each person splitting in half again and again and again…
"Stay back! I said…"
"Stay… back?" A witch said right in his ear. She had the most grotesque face ever, with boils that had pus almost ready to erupt, disproportioned teeth that were more yellow than a butterbeer, and eyes which had no colour, almost as if she was blind. Theodore's fear reached its far end as he ran backwards. He had to get away at any cost, even if it meant-
Something dense slammed against his back then seemed to push back against the boy's weight, sending Theodore tumbling on the ground. He slid across the dusty floor as he groaned in pain and embarrassment. No way was he going to tell anyone what happened there. He suddenly remembered what had just happened and sprung to his feet to slam the open door shut. The door met him with some resistance as it refused to close but after a while, it became still. Theodore looked through the translucent glassing of the door to see a black figure of human staring at him eye to eye before vanishing. He could hear a chuckle followed by a wheezing cough then just silence.
Theodore slowly rotated to see just where the hell he was as he didn't see no door when he had been cornered by a psychotic mob. It seemed to be a shop of some sorts, only it wasn't the normal sort at all. Instead of mannequins there were hung skeletons of different species. Instead of multiple shelves full of books there were jars mounted on the walls containing eyes, livers, toes, heads, tongues, dismembered animals and other nerving contents. It was similar to the Potions cupboard in Hogwarts, only a lot less cleaner. He weaved through the ominous store, glancing at the many odd things that looked semi-intriguing to him, if not disgusting. On the far end of the store was the dusty bookshelf, housing multiple thick novels which looked unreadable by the spine due to the amount of dust coating. Theodore made his way there slowly as the floorboards constantly creaked which could give his presence away to anybody there. If there was anybody there. The shop seemed like a spacious tomb.
Theodore picked the 'cleanest' one from the bottom and slammed it on a rickety table that almost gave way. He froze for half a minute to make sure that nobody was about to burst in and curse him with a bucketload of hexes. He sighed at the absence of sound and proceeded to continue his 'investigation'. The front title of the book became clearer after Theodore blew the dust straight off.
"How- *cough*-old is this- *cough cough*- book? 'Secrets of the Darkest Art: Extended Original Edition' by Owle Bullock. Darkest Art? What…?" Theodore turned a page over. Although a bit faded and crumpled, the contents of the book looked readable and in decent condition. As he flipped past the introduction and prologue of the book, Theodore's mind was slowly becoming warped and sucked in to what the book was displaying to the boy.
"How to feed off another… how to breed, control and transform others into Dementors… the origins of the Unforgivable Curses… Inferi… Basilisks… how to remove and consume a soul… the ritual to create a Horcrux. What's a Hor-"
Theodore slammed the book shut and hid it behind him. A man with oily, thin hair crept out of nowhere with such aggressiveness. He pushed several objects off the tables in an unnecessary manner to reach the shocked boy. The man was quite short though his back was a bit hunched, and came up to Theodore's nose. He could smell the putridness of rotten fish and feet drift from the man's mouth but remained silent.
"What are you doing here?! Get out at once!" The man screamed. Theodore sucked in the urge push his face away and replied in a neutral tone.
"I was forced in. I didn't see the shop from behind…"
"Doesn't matter! No kids in my shop! Get out!"
"How do you know that I'm not buying anything?"
"Then leave! Before I remove every bone in your body till you're a pool of fleshy slime!" The shopkeeper grabbed the boy by his shirt and proceeded to drag him to the door. Theodore was surprised by how strong he was but was putting up a good fight.
"Wait… I'm just looking… around! Can't… I do that?" Theodore said as he was pulling back with all his might. The man was using both his arms and was turning pink in the face.
"N-no! If you ain't got… any… Galleons… or even a Knut… then you… go!" The two tugged some more until the shopkeeper kicked Theodore's knee to make him kneel on the ground. Still clutching on the book behind him, Theodore was being dragged by a small man with an angry temperament determined to throw the boy out. Theodore was pushed straight out of the front door, the man cursing unknown gibberish while he slammed it shut. Theodore picked himself up and brushed the soot off his trousers and shirt, which looked like it made a powerful stain all over. He looked up at the sign of the shop which read, 'Borgin and Burke's', in faded gold letters, sort of like Ollivanders.
"Hahahaha! Borgin gave you a right scare now, did he? Hahahaha!" The same wizard from before raucously laughing.
"Oh, shut up!"
"You talking to me?! You better pick up your book and run because I don't care if you're a little boy! No little shit is going to talk to me like that!" Theodore looked down to the ground at the book. It was closed and covered with a bit a black marking. Theodore looked back up at the wizard who had his wand above his head. Just when he was about to curse the boy…
The wizard's wand flew out of his hand as the two of them were perplexed by who casted the charm. Erveris jogged down the thin pathway as he pointed his wand to the cloaked wizard. The man didn't have an ounce of fear in his eyes but didn't dare to move.
"Theodore, get back to the Leaky Cauldron. Now."
"To the Cauldron, Theodore!" Theodore picked the book up and ran all the way to the entrance of the alleyway. He dashed into the backdoor of the inn and ran all the way to his room. As he shut the door behind him, he threw the book on his bed and stared at it. He actually stole something. From a wizarding shop. What if Borgin found out and cursed him to really become boneless? Plus, what was inside the book was some of the most vilest things that he had ever heard of. Cannibalism to gain more life, rituals which involved the sacrifice of Muggleborns in the most excruciating method possible. Theodore couldn't be seen with that book. He had to hide it. No. Burn it, more likely. That was the only option. Now where would he do it exactly? Three knocks echoed in his room.
"Theodore? You in there?"
"Shit! Shit, oh shit!" Theodore grabbed the book and stuffed it in his bag. The zip had become stuck due to his carelessness and after that, the contents of the bag spilled all over on the floor. "Ohhh… dammit! Shit!" He never cursed that many times in a row before.
"Theodore? Theo? Are you there?" Erveris asked while still knocking.
"Yeah! Hold on, I'm just cleaning… something." Theodore was desperately trying to fit the thick book in the desk drawer. All his letters were stacked on the desk while the book finally slid inside. Theodore wiped his brow in satisfaction.
"Can I come in now?"
"Sure." Erveris walked in the room with a serious expression. He didn't look like his usual self.
"What were you doing in Knockturn Alley?"
"I was just looking around."
"You know how dangerous it is in there."
"Actually I don't because I never seen nor heard of it till today."
"This is no time to be getting smart, Theo."
"I'm not getting smart." Theodore looked at Erveris with the intent of not backing down. Maybe if he was difficult with him, he'd leave him alone. Erveris stared back before sighing and holding the bridge of his nose.
"Just don't go back there again, okay? You were lucky that I was there before things got bad." Erveris walked out of the room and closed the door gently behind him. The boy wiped his brow again and went over to the desk to put everything back in his bag. The letters were scrunched up but none were ripped. The dark book took a lot of energy from Theodore to remove from the desk but was free in the end.
"I can't believe anyone would make such a book," commented Theodore out loud as he strolled to his bed. He sat down with the book on his lap and traced the front page with his finger.
Oh why did he have to give in? He slowly flicked to the first page about the creation of Inferi, now taken hostage by the book's command.
"Louise! Aren't you coming down for dinner?"
"Coming, Mrs Reagul!" Louise carefully placed the moving photograph under her pillow and left her room. The young girl had studied the picture for almost a week now, mesmerised by how it simply worked. Her best friend was moving inside of the picture, tussling his hair and smiling like it was a video. It made no sense to her. She could be going mad. Maybe the sudden change of home from London caused her to develop a form of a brain disease? What would you expect, the picture was moving!
Louise skipped down the spiral stairway and into the dining room. After making a quick detour to the back room to wash her hands, Louise sat in her usual seat along the average sized dining table. The room itself was quite large indeed, displaying several antiques across the walls and some decorated on the furniture. The ceiling had twirling gold trails that met in the centre to spin like a tornado or whirlwind. It descended to support a glass chandelier which even reflected onto the darkest corners of the room. It was like a palace, only a bit more homely.
"Hello dear! Are you okay?" Mrs Reagul asked. She was a pretty woman in her mid thirties, with greying hair on her sides but she managed to make it work. She was wearing a red dress and had three pearl bracelets on her right wrist. The lady was the type to be very fashionable.
"Yes, Mrs Reagul. I'm fine."
"You were up in your room for an awful long time." Mr Reagul was a fit-looking man with age and experience worn upon his face. He was always freshly shaven with a neat haircut almost 24/7. Like his wife, he too was a man of fashion, keeping up with the most expensive suits. Despite his aristocratic appearance, Mr Reagul was a humble man who didn't let his wealth guide his morals.
"Oh, yeah. I was just, uh, reading a letter from my friend. I really miss him." Louise said as four maids walked in with silver trays.
"Theodore was it?" Louise nodded as she tucked into her meal. She had gotten quite hooked onto the French meals that were served regularly, always requesting them at least once a week. "Where did you say he went to?"
"Um, Hogwarts. Yeah, I know, really weird name. Apparently it's in Scotland somewhere."
"Hogwarts," said Mrs Reagul, as she finished chewing on a forkful of rice. "I think I heard of that school. A friend of mine attended the school when she was… eleven, I think?" Louise stopped eating. She also knew somebody who went to Hogwarts? How bizarre was it that they'd end up meeting each other.
"The veal not good enough for you?" Mr Reagul asked.
"No it's fine… um…" The Reagul's looked worried as the girl seemed confused. Louise was a girl on a different frequency than their own, being both brilliant yet outspoken and free unlike the other children in the neighbourhood. That was the thing that drew them to her. It had been such a change of pace since they've taken her in and ever since then, it was a thrill to keep up with her.
"Is everything okay, dear?"
"Was there anything… odd about her? Like there was something that didn't seem quite right when you were around her." Mrs Reagul thought long and hard as she tried to remember the girl.
"I would say that she was the 'rare one of the bunch'. She had an aura which seemed… magical. I couldn't put a finger on it."
"Magic… right… can I be excused, please?" The couple looked at each other anxiously.
"Yes dear, anything you want," said Mr Reagul as he nervously scratched his chin. Louise thanked them and left to go back upstairs. She closed the door firmly behind her and plucked the photograph from underneath the pillow.
'How are you doing this, Theodore? What the hell are you learning at Hogwarts?'
A few hours later…
The clock on her bedside table ticked ten o'clock as Louise readied herself for bed. She'd usually stay up waiting for everyone to go to bed so that she could wander through the house and explore without people following her, or would wait for an owl to flap at her window. A direct view of the moon would radiate into her eyes as she'd daze peacefully, slowly falling to sleep.
As she tied her messy hair into a bun, a knock on the door followed. Louise allowed the person to enter and Mrs Reagul walked in with a scarlet nightgown. Her make up was discarded and her hair was in bun like Louise's, only tighter. She sat herself on the edge of Louise's bed and gave her a small smile.
"I hope you're settling in well. I can't really say that I know what it feels like to be… moved away from everything you know. But I just want you to know that it's okay to talk if you're unsure about anything. We'll always be here, okay?" Louise nodded her head and returned the smile. Mrs Reagul lightly pinched her cheek and walked out of the room. Louise blamed her resistance to generosity on Theodore. If there was one thing that she didn't miss about him, and she missed him A LOT, was that he was a bit of a brat. Okay, he was a full on brat but that's what made him Theodore. He was bratty and rude but caring, funny, charming, good-looking, even gorg-
"Whoa… whoa, whoa, whoa. Let's just get some rest, Lou. You've got Theo too much on the brain!" Louise rubbed her temples then lifted the covers over her, staring at the moon that regularly shone onto her face, lulling her into a slumber so soothing.
'A Horcrux is one of the most complex and purest of the arts that are written in this book. The use of this magic has been frowned upon ever since it had been discovered and created by Herpo the Foul, who was the first wizard to hatch the terrible King of Serpents, the Basilisk. This should only be attempted by those willing to cheat death, for the creation of a Horcrux rips the soul, all for the denial of death itself.
To rip ones soul, you must commit one of the most evil acts possible, the killing of another. Murder taints and tears the soul, making it easier to remove from oneself.
The body of the murdered then must be-'
Theodore smacked his head repeatedly to rid of the image that he saw in the demonic book. The entire book was absolutely vile and contorted the purity of magic that the boy originally thought of. He was interested in the Dark Arts but he wasn't THAT interested. When he grudgingly made it to the Horcrux section, Theodore's tolerance had forbade him to look any further. Ever since then, the stolen book had resided in his schoolbag, never coming out until he'd destroy it.
The time was late, 11:00 PM at least, as Theodore got out of bed. His restlessness was returning so he had to purge it from his body before it would infect him like the nights at Hogwarts. He left his room and walked down the stairs, yawning loudly despite the other residents being close by. Nobody seemed bothered about this anyway. The steps creaked slightly as he applied uneven pressure on each foot, swaying side to side. Theodore's eyes was drooping ever so slightly, till he heard an amalgamation of familiar and unfamiliar voices. He ducked down and peered through the banisters to see what was the commotion about.
"…I know ma'am but I-"
"Just tell me where he is! You said he came here so why aren't you telling me where he went?!" Was that Madam? It was Madam! And somebody was under her arm… Elise?! This was just great! They couldn't leave him alone for one second? Theodore fully tuned in on what they had to say.
"We're just here for some answers, sir. If you admit to seeing the boy then you agree to being a witness to this investigation." Theodore looked at a burly policeman clad in blue and black. He had a thick moustache that hid his mouth, kind of like Harry's uncle.
"Look. I already told you. Theodore came in here but left a week afterwards. He didn't say where he was going." Tom said. Madam's face became full of rage in an instant.
"You let a little boy come in here with nothing, and you let him leave without calling the proper authorities?! How daft can you be!?"
"Yet you're the one who carelessly allowed him to leave the orphanage without any proper supervision." A crack filled the ground level as Theodore winced at the sight of Madam slapping Tom straight across his face. The policeman separated the two as Elise looked terrified.
"How… dare you. Theodore did not leave because of me!"
"That's quite the opposite of what he told me," said Tom as he rubbed his reddish skin. Madam stiffened up as she held a frightened Elise by her side. Her eyes reddened while she swallowed painfully. Unbeknownst to her, Theodore looked upon her with growing guilt. The pain of shame squeezed his heart at the sight of her now tearing up silently. She looked like she hadn't slept for days.
"I cannot… afford to lose him. I made a promise… to his mother that I would take care of him like my own. I can't lose him, I just…" Madam brought her hands to her face as the tears became loud. Theodore watched her in distress, planted on the spot without a clue on what to do. If he revealed himself right there, Madam would probably go beyond mad, but if he stayed…
Theodore slowly backed up the stairs. He didn't want to see any more, he couldn't. He didn't mean to hurt anyone truly. He was just so… 'Idiot! Fucking idiot!' Theodore ran into his room and slammed the door behind him. A few murmurs from next door but nothing loud. He went underneath the bedsheets but sat up on the bed, leaving the sheets to cover only his legs. The boy contemplated within the dark room that slowly started to feel strange around him. He didn't feel at home anymore. 'So I wasn't just dropped off… Madam saw my mother before she left, and she didn't even tell me… No Theo, you're in the wrong. You shouldn't have ran away like that. You… I hurt her because… because-'
"Because of what, Theodore?" Theodore shuddered and jumped. That voice… it came from somewhere but it couldn't be, he was the only one in the room. The window allowed a cold gust of nightly air to flow onto the boy's face, blowing his hair behind his ears. He crept out of his bed and walked over to the window to see if the voice had been a person spying on him. The partially lit road of Diagon Alley was empty, the shops on the sides dead and quiet. The lamps hanging off the stores swung in a circular motion while helping the boy see what, or who, had their eyes on him. It was faint, very faint but Theodore could see a wide figure swiftly move along the alley before turning to the left where Knockturn Alley would be.
"Deep breath, Theodore. Deep breath," said the boy as he walked backwards slowly, after closing the window. "That… thing wasn't spying on you. I-it was just an animal or one of those wretched witches from Knockturn Alley. E-everything will be okay." He met the bed and climbed into it when for another time, somebody knocked on the door. Theodore however, decided not to answer as Tom could've probably told Madam which room he was in. Therefore he felt quite glad that it was just the innkeeper himself.
"Theodore, I need you to come out."
"I'm not leaving." Theodore said in a slightly raspy voice.
"Theodore… Dumbledore is here." Theodore groaned internally. Now he was here too? He was starting to feel sick. "There are Muggles here, for you. They said that you ran away from your orphanage. Why didn't you tell me, my boy?"
"I said I didn't want to talk about it… Did you tell them that I'm here?"
"No. I think that you'd better make your presence known instead," said Tom quietly behind the door. Should he go down there? Madam was distraught and by the looks of it, so was Elise. He hated that he felt regret for talking down on her a few weeks ago. It was the feeling of being left behind by Louise, the constant denial of being able to talk to her again and Quirrell. All of it felt like a stab into his soul, tearing it like he was making a Hor-
"Theodore, are you going- Albus! Yes, you may!"
"Thank you. Theodore, it's-'
"I know it's you, Professor. You can come in if you want." Dumbledore opened the door and walked in with such grace for an old man. He was wearing grey Muggle clothing, with his beard tied by a single band. He sat on the chair near the desk and looked at the boy, who refused to look back.
"Did you understand by what I meant, for when I said those things to you?"
"Yes. I think so. You meant that your first home is your only home, right?"
"Actually, I meant something quite different. Our first home is the second safest place that we all feel. It's the one place where we cannot be harmed by those who choose to target and destroy us. Your mother produced something so strong that you were hidden at Stuggle's for your entire life, protecting you from everything she tried to save you from. That is your home, Theodore. Your first home. And if you deny that home, then you deny what your mother had placed for you when she died. No other place can deflect the terrors that the world has created for you, not even Hogwarts. That little room, with the cupboard and the bedside table, has been your shelter, Theodore. Please, do not let Valerie's sacrifice be for nothing, my boy. Please." Silent tears. The boy wiped them off quickly. He had cried too many times in front of the old man. He didn't want to give off the impression that he was a sensitive weakling.
"So I go back now, right? I have to stay there until whatever it is that's watching me, is destroyed… I can't leave?" Dumbledore sighed as he looked down to his pointed shoes. "Who would possibly go after me? Voldemort?!" Dumbledore was silent. Dear god, no. God no! He really was after him? Theodore just wanted to go sleep and forget everything. Had the Dark Lord been pursuing the child before last year? Is that why he wanted Theodore to join him?
"I haven't told Madam Geoffrey that you are here. The choice is up to you. Just make it the right one." Dumbledore said. He stood up from his seat and looked outside the window. "I must say, an improvement from your last room," he whispered to himself quietly. He walked to the door, and then stopped for a moment. Theodore was confused about why he was frozen for a minute.
"Ah, I just remembered!" The old man reached into his pocket and held something shimmery in a gentle manner. Theodore heard a few hisses as he realised who Dumbledore had brought along. "This wonderful snake was sleeping in your bed the day after you left. She seemed terribly lonely and sad so I took her with me as a temporary companion. I hope you don't mind." Viripin jerked her head forward, towards Theodore as she happily snuggled her head underneath the boy's chin, who was just as happy. "Try not to leave her behind again. Our animal associates share a bond with us that cannot be broken, no matter how much one feels 'worthless'."
"Thank you, Professor! Really!" Dumbledore nodded as he smiled. He almost closed the door behind him until Theodore called out for him.
"Yes, my boy?"
"The first place. What is it? The first place where you can be safe. Where?" Dumbledore looked like he had an answer but instead, opted to tap his crooked nose, and left without a word.
The number became two as it was just the boy and his snake. "Viripin? Do you hate me for what I did to you?"
"I was scared, master. I thought that you were going to leave me."
"But I did leave you," muttered the guilty boy.
"But we're here, together. Whatever you did, I'm sure that there was a good reason for it."
"No, there was no good reason. I was just being stupid. I thought that I was better off in the wizarding world with everybody else but it turns out, I'm supposed to stay at Stuggle's."
"Well, at least you'll be there with me, Master Riddle." The snake winded around the boy and lounged her head on his shoulder. She had grown a bit bigger than the last time he saw her. Maybe Dumbledore had 'fattened' her up when she was with him.
"Thanks, Viripin. And you don't have to keep on calling me Master all the time. Theodore's fine."
"Really? But why?"
"Because you're not my pet. You're my friend." Viripin squeezed the boy gently. The two talked and talked about the recent weeks, about how Viripin had roamed all around Hogwarts without the fear of being captured or cooped up in a cage. She particularly enjoyed the dungeons but was terrified to even pass the Potion room's door. It felt just like the days when he and Louise would talk for hours about themselves. At a time like this, nostalgia felt like a cure inside his body.
"You and Louise still talk?"
"Yep. We send each other letters almost everyday, although I forgot to send one today. I'm sure she won't mind."
"Mmhmm, I'm sure she wouldn't mind at all."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing. It's just nice to see two young people letting their love blossom through letters."
It turns out that becoming equals with Viripin meant that he had to deal with her sharp tongue (half the pun intended) and snarky quips that she'd lay out from times. Theodore didn't really mind it at all, but was insistent that he was not head over heels for Louise. The two lightly bickered back and forth until the time for sleep washed over them. The snake coiled herself on top of the bedsheets as Theodore was underneath. He still knew that he had to make a decision on whether to go back to Stuggle's or not, but for now, the soft embrace of sleep welcomed him, silencing the boy to peaceful snores.
Flashback… *yeah, I'm doing one of those*
The baby boy gurgled in her arms as she poked him playfully in the stomach. Her child was a blessing among bad choices. Everything about him was perfect, even to his little nose. She walked along the barren dark streets of London, hooded up carefully to make sure no attention was drawn to her. Other than the baby boy in her arms, the young woman was an angel in her own right. Straight raven-black hair, full pink lips with a little gleam to them, hazel eyes that would trap anyone with a single glare and a perfectly constructed nose. Her symmetrical features was a rarity yet an expectance from her family. She may have had loose robes around her but they hid a womanly figure that was only suitable for a face like hers. She was truly magnificent, and she knew that. But there was no time for vanity at that moment.
"Here we are, Theo. The Muggle orphanage. Hmph. Doesn't look much." The woman stopped at the front of the odd looking building. The paint looked off and the proportions seemed uneven. She'd have to overlook this. All was for her baby boy, the one thing that tethered her to the earth. She couldn't leave him with her brother. They stopped talking a long time ago and she was sure that the Dark Lord would find him soon, along with his son. The woman came to the front door as baby Theo cooed and murmured in her arms. She took out a sleek grey wand and swished it in one motion. Out of nowhere, a basket manifested in midair, gently rotating in the air. She used her wand to cut a piece of her worn out robe to make a blanket for her child. When she'd leave, the child would still be able to feel her presence, no? As the blanket fell into the basket, the mother placed her son inside, as his eyes were shut and unmoving. Theo whistled through his nose as he was being slowly wrapped by a warm blanket. He smiled slightly as he could still smell his mother's scent surround him. The woman then clasped the basket in her hands and lowered the boy on the doormat. She gazed at her boy, her only baby boy. It killed her to do this but it would utterly destroy her if she left him with 'him'. He'd be a puppet, a monster just like 'him'.
"My darling… I love you so much. I love you so, so much. I'm sorry for what I have to do, to leave you here. But it's all for you, my baby boy. All for you. I want you to be strong. Be strong for yourself. I wished… I wished that it'd never come to this. I love you my boy. Please do not hate me for what I've done."
Valerie kissed the boy on his nose then twice on his forehead before forcing herself to walk away. Before she parted with Theo, she had placed a little note between the blanket seams to prevent it from blowing away. She'd hate for him to grow up without the name she gave him. Of course, she gave him his father's last name, in a final attempt of spite. Valerie was a petty woman at times.
As she trudged backwards, she lowered her hood to mask herself even more, making sure that her face was not seen by any Muggle. She didn't want to hurt anybody at the moment. The urges to run back and take the child was killed as each second passed by. No. Now she needed to warn James. That the Dark Lord was coming for his son. That his son, Harry, was going to be…
"Oh, Vaaaalll! Why are you out here in the dark of the night? You could get into a lot. Of. Trouble." Valerie felt cold. She slowly turned around to the second voice that she had been dreading to hear. As she sat her eyes on the familiar being, she gripped her wand tightly as she narrowed her eyes. Of course he'd send her. That literal bastard couldn't come here himself? "What's the matter? You don't look happy to see your 'best friend'. Why's that?"
Again, this felt like a weird chapter to write. Idk tbh. But at least the flashback got you engaged right? I'm hoping that you got engaged because I was feeling pumped doing the last bit. Also, I've read everything that I have written so far and it turns out that there are a lot of grammatical errors. I honestly feel stupid but I guess it's common among other writers. Summer Day's is not over though so get ready for the final part! Later.
BloodRaven46: I hope that this chapter answered your question. Theodore is going to 'be ahead' in terms of discovering his past and the entire situation compared to Harry, which will then twist the original story to my liking. And hell yes, Luna is going to make a cameo. In fact, I was having some ideas about making her a major character in the next year but not as big as her role in the later books. (God I'm actually exited for this one!)