"Have you heard?"
"What, that Theodore is back?"
"Yeah! He's in the office with the Madam."
"I'd hate to be him right now. He was probably better off wherever he went."
"Where did he go anyways?"
"Dunno. All I know is that Madam is going to freak the hell out…"
Theodore was losing consciousness. His arms had been trapped by his sides and his ribs were slowly caving in. His lungs were starting to give way and he didn't know if he could take it anymore. Oxygen depleted, bones crushed, body failing. What could he have possibly done to deserve this… this… punishment?
"Madam… I'm so sorry for… leaving like that. I know I… shouldn't have. But… don't you think that you're hugging me… a bit… too…hard?" The second Madam laid her eyes on the boy who had miraculously appeared into her office, she held him in a vice-like embrace from which he couldn't escape. He'd feel sentimental if the life within him wasn't being squeezed out.
Madam only wept in response to the boy's pleas. Theodore could feel her tremble as she sniffled behind his ear. Any feeling of scolding, scrutinising, even downright damning the boy, was not present. The boy had come home, safe and sound. She could finally sleep without her heart twinging in those dreadful nights. He was here, he really was. After thirty more seconds, the orphanage owner released the dying boy from her hold.
"Thank… you." Theodore panted.
"My dear… I… I…" Madam was about to burst into tears again. Theodore held her hands against his small ones and looked into her eyes. The shedded tears made this more painful every second he'd look but there was no running away. Not now.
"Are you angry?"
"Maybe... I don't know, Theodore. There's just too much to feel and to understand about all of this. Yesterday, I thought that you were dead yet here you are. I don't know whether to hug you again or to kick you out." Theodore gulped at last suggestion and shook his head.
"You should be angry."
"You know why. I hurt you, made you cry, made you think that I was dead. All for a stupid reason." Madam wiped her tears with her left black sleeve and expressed a small smile which masked a lot of pain.
"You wanted to speak with your best friend. Nothing stupid about that. It just sickens me what had to happen for me to see that. Will you forgive me?"
"Don't. Don't ask for forgiveness. It should be me. I'm the one who ran away." For a second, the boy's mother was staring into Madam's eyes through Theodore's. Those same eyes, which died with his mother and was reborn through him. They dragged out those memories, forcing her to only be motherly towards the boy. She wasn't his but he was her own. She couldn't deny that. Madam caught Theodore in a more gentle hug and wept tears of joy for the boy's return.
"Don't leave me again, okay? Not again." Madam could feel his head nod slowly. How was it that people always managed to find the good in his wrongdoings? Why did people disregard the blatant iniquity that he displayed to them, and would overlook that? This confused him for so long, ever since he had killed Quirrell. Huh. That felt a little less painful than before.
The two separated and ridded themselves of the past. They agreed that it was best to not think about it again despite the detrimental effects it would've had on each other, had the boy stayed away.
"Erm, Madam? Is it okay if I ask for one thing?" Theodore asked as he twirled his fingers around each other. Madam nodded. "I have a pet, two in fact. Well, one of them is not exactly like my pet but I have two animals that I own, which basically makes them my pets…"
"Just say what you need to say, Theodore."
"Could you… buy me a cage? Please?" Theodore was walking on a thin line, asking Madam for well, anything. He was lucky that she was feeling so lenient for him. Madam closed her eyes in hesitation. "Or I could just-"
"I'll get you the cage, if you help clean up after dinner until you go back to school." Madam decided.
"But that's a whole four days! And there's like, forty people here!" Theodore moaned. Madam glared at him fiercely. "I guess that I could do it."
"Not could, will. Now go and have some breakfast. I'm sure everyone else is dying to talk to you about where you've been." Theodore scoffed. As if. They were all whispering when they saw him suddenly walk outside his room like he'd been there the whole time. Nobody was going to talk to him, probably except Elise. Theodore would just have to wait patiently until he'd go back to King's Cross and meet up with his friends.
Theodore was a boy of his word and would spend most of his time scrubbing, rinsing, drying, rearranging, sweeping, wiping and spraying after each dinner that passed by. Clearing up after forty children was exhausting to its maximum, and made the boy more grateful of his slumber. After picking slabs of pea and sweet corn infused lasagne, mixed with the regurgitation of fish and chips off the walls, Theodore was in no wait to go back to Hogwarts. Potion-making was much less vile than this. Elise would come in sometimes to give him some company, which he wouldn't mind much, had her other friends stopped constantly talking about him and her behind his back. Seriously, he wasn't an animal that just roamed around the building.
'Just two more days, Theo. You can manage.'
"Don't forget your snake, Theodore! Oh god, it's trying to bite me!" Madam had ran down the stairs with Viripin on the tip of her fingers, shaking violently from the loose grip that the woman had on her. Viripin looked displeased by the lack of caution, and bared her fangs threateningly. Madam quickly draped her around Theodore's shoulders and wiped her hands against her black dress.
"She's not slimy, you know. I think that she's just upset from the way you held her," said Theodore as he stroked the snake's scaly head.
"How could you possibly know that?"
"Stupid Muggle." Theodore tapped her skull quite hard, causing Viripin to spit and look away. Madam crouched down and held Theodore close, but not that close. She had kept a close eye on him since he had returned and was almost grieving that he'd leave once more. At least she knew where he was going. Or had some idea.
"Madam, people are watching." Theodore whispered as he saw the other children peek their heads from around the corner, Elise included. "I have to go now, remember? To that thing called school?"
"Alright, alright. Have you forgotten anything? Books, pencils and pens, your owl?" Theodore looked shocked as he realised that he hadn't taken Sawer from his room. "Don't worry, Elise took him from your room and gave him to Gretchen." Theodore looked over Madam's shoulder to look at a blushing Elise, who hid her face.
"I guess that's nice. But do I really have to go with Gretchen? Why can't you take me instead?"
"It's Sister Gretchen to you, and last time I checked, I'm in charge of the orphanage therefore I must be here at all times. They'll all go mad if they stay with her."
"I hear that. I'd go absolutely mental." Madam giggled before rapidly changing her demeanour. Theodore never knew that she was capable of giggling at all. The two walked out the front door and to Gretchen's car, which still looked like it was in pristine condition. Sawer was inside of his cage, darting his head around on the back seats while Gretchen was waiting in the front.
"Theodore…" Just as he was about to enter the car, Elise was standing behind him. She looked nervous and didn't seem to know what to say. "Um… good luck."
"Will you be back for Christmas?" Madam and Gretchen were overhearing the conversation as they were having their own.
"Oh. Well, is there any way where I can send you a present? I mean, if you want a present, that is…" Elise stammered. Time was ticking and Theodore had to get to King's Cross before the Hogwarts Express left him behind. He wouldn't know what to do if it came down to that.
"I don't think so. You could save it for me when I come back next summer but I think that it would've lost its meaning by then."
"Right! Right… so um, see you next summer. Bye." Elise said as she smiled awkwardly. Theodore saw that his presence was making her undoubtedly nervous, and sought to leave as soon as possible to remove the tension. Theodore said goodbye and sat on the back seat next to Sawer. Viripin hissed gently to the owl and the owl loudly hooted back.
"Keep those blasted things quiet back there! I don't want them hissing and hooting in my ear for the entire journey!" Theodore decided to not respond and bent his head down to Viripin as the car started up.
"Don't worry about her," whispered the boy, "she'll be out of our hair as soon as we get to the station."
"Can't I bite her? Just once? I'll even retract my venom!"
"I don't think that you'll want the taste of Gretchen in your mouth." The two sniggered as the car began to drive off to King's Cross. Sawer looked at them both happily, like the third friend who didn't understand the joke yet still laughed.
After a similar journey of when he came the first time, Theodore was left alone to wheel his belongings on a trolley through the grand station, up to Platform 9¾. The upper platforms were as busy as ever, many Muggles in crumpled suits carried leather bookcases with depression on their faces, old women in bizarre clothing held poodles and chihuahuas which barked at Sawer and Viripin, and the same guard that stood near the pillar from last year. Theodore nodded to him and the guard tipped his hat. The boy looked side to side, to make sure that nobody had their eyes set on the boy with a snake and owl on an overloaded trolley. No… no… good. Theodore aimed straight towards the wall and ran as fast as he could, pushing the heavy trolley with everything his skinny arms could give. Some days, he wondered if the barrier would close off the second he'd make contact, shutting him away from the train forever. Those wonders would remain wonders as he effortlessly passed straight through, leaving the Muggle side and entering the other.
The Hogwarts Express looked sleek and grand, but was otherwise much quieter than before, no whistles erupting or the constant tremors that it sent through the platform. It looked inactive and quite… dead.
'Oh no. Oh shit! Am I too early? Or was it not today? Today is the 1st. But what's the-" Theodore looked up at the hanging clock which read 09:05AM. He was almost two hours early. Theodore sighed and pushed his trolley to the empty benches near the further end of the platform. The feeling of being alone here felt like he was in a haunted house and was expecting somebody to jump out and scare him. The two animals were sleeping and Theodore felt like dozing off as well. If the train was going to leave then he'd obviously know. Just even a thirty minute nap, and he'd wake up from-
"Kid! What're you doing here sleeping?" Theodore hadn't even laid his head on the armrest and already somebody couldn't leave him alone. The train driver, presumably, was fitting his uniform over himself when he caught the young boy sitting alone.
"It's not even ten o'clock. I'm trying to get a nap before I go so if you don't mind…" Theodore laid his head against the armrest and exhaled loudly.
"Where are your parents?"
"They're dead, now let me sleep." Theodore stated quickly. As he shut his eyes, the very faint shadow of the driver disappeared through his eyelids and he relaxed his body against the hard wooden bench to try and make it as comfortable as he possibly could.
3, 2, 1…
"Um, why are you sleeping there, Theo?" He opened one eye to see Hermione tower over him as she brought her face close to his own. He rubbed his eyes and sat back up, making the bushy haired girl lean backwards.
"I got here early so I *yawn* thought that I could sleep for a bit, until you came along." Hermione frowned.
"Hey, don't be like that! I just thought that you were in some sort of trouble. You did, sort of, run away from your home after all." Hermione sat next to him and looked at the sleeping pets. "That owl is so adorable! And… is that a Maibian Adder?!" Theodore nodded. Hermione gasped as she looked closer to her.
"Don't get too close! She hates it when you breath into her nostrils. She'll try bite you without knowing it." Hermione flicked her head back, looking terrified.
"How did you even find one? They're extremely rare. The only that's in Britain is the one at Hogwarts, which escaped somehow…" It didn't take a genius to put two and two together. "You stole the snake?! From school?!"
"I didn't steal the snake, I liberated her. Do you know what they were doing to her? They plucked her fangs, drew out her blood and cut open her intestines from when she was baby! You of all people would not condone this." Hermione bit her bottom lip her large front teeth. It was definitely disrespectful for him to release a snake with such rarity from the school but…
"I guess it was okay to free it, I mean her. But do you take care of her? How do you know when she's hungry or when she needs to sleep or play?" Hermione said rapidly. Theodore was about to reply when the Express became active. More and more children flooded in, bringing Hermione's parents to come closer to the two children. Mr and Mrs Granger were both Muggles and dressed exactly like Muggles. Hermione explained to them that Theodore grew up with Muggles and that he was probably the only competitor that she had in the year (she said this as humbly as possible, but the smugness was still there).
"Weren't you the boy that was talking with Hermione last year? That's very sweet that you two are friends."
"Yes, she talks about you a lot, Theodore."
"I'm just joking, dear."
The Hogwarts Express soon began to load up with children as Hermione and Theodore waited with each other side by side. They both looked wearingly for Ron and Harry, who weren't anywhere to be seen. Hermione spotted the Weasleys down the line and thought that the two were probably there with them. The children hopped on and walked down the corridors before they found a compartment to themselves.
"Do you think that they'll be alright," asked Hermione nervously. Theodore looked out his window, searching for the two among the humongous crowd. He could see Percy, the twins and Ginny, the youngest and only girl, but not Ron or Harry, which was weird considering he stayed with them during the end of the summer.
"I hope so. Maybe they're just down the other end, fighting with Malfoy or something." Hermione still looked nervous and tapped her feet against the ground. The train started to leave the station slowly and off they went. The two talked over sweets and treats, about what the next year had to offer for the two brightest children in the second year. Theodore had declared that he was going to blow Hermione out of the water this year at the final exams. Hermione took this as a challenge and shook hands with him. After reading over the potions book from Borgin and Burke's, Theodore was surely going to be ahead of her. No way she'd even hold a matchstick, let alone a candle in what he was going to accomplish this year.
"That's it. We're going." Hermione said as she stood up and walked to the compartment door.
"Going? Going where?"
"To look for Harry and Ron. They haven't tried to find us so we're going to find them."
"I'm sure that it would only take one of us to find them." Hermione grabbed his arm and dragged him away from his seat. He accidentally dropped a Pumpkin Pasty and was upset because he was quite fond of those.
"Stop being such a child, I'll get you another one." They walked up the train, knocking on each compartment door to see if Harry or Ron where inside. Neville was sitting next to a Gryffindor and two Hufflepuffs from his year, namely a girl called Hannah Abbot. The two looked cheery but didn't notice Theodore and Hermione walk past. Hermione knocked on the next one but Theodore swung the door open, shocking the first years that were inside.
"Have any one of you seen Harry Potter?"
"I have! I saw him last year, when my big brother went to Hogwarts!"
"Not last year! I meant today!" Theodore snapped. The first year pouted and turned away in shame. Hermione look appalled by Theodore's approach and walked off to look somewhere else. Ginny was sat in the corner, patting the first year that Theodore scolded on his back.
"Ginny, have you seen your brother anywhere? Or Harry? Either one of them?" Theodore asked.
"We came by car to King's Cross and we went to Platform 9¾. Although I didn't see them go through the barrier." Ginny said. The red headed girl had a quiet and soft voice, compared to her brothers' brash and loud ones. Theodore turned to the girl opposite, who had dirty blond hair coming to her waist, eyebrows so pale that you'd think she had none and silvery eyes which had a look of otherworldly wonder inside of them. Despite her odd choice of clothing, Theodore asked her if she had seen the boys anywhere.
"No, but I'm sure if you look high enough, you'll find them."
"High enough?" Theodore looked up to the ceiling and back to the girl with a puzzled look. "Was that supposed to be some sort of joke?" The girl shook her head and smiled. Theodore furrowed his eyebrows and left. Such an odd girl. He jogged through the aisle to catch up with Hermione, who was stuck in between an argument with Lavender. Lavender gasped when she saw her open crush and ran to him with arms outstretched, only to be pulled back by Hermione.
"Theodore! Please tell your 'girlfriend' to let go of my jumper! She's stretching the expensive seams!"
"I am not his girlfriend!" Hermione shouted.
"Is that why you go red every time he looks at you?" Hermione clenched her fist while she gritted her teeth. Aside from what Lavender said, Theodore did not want Hermione to put Lavender in her place, even if she deserved it. He pulled Hermione to the side and told her that they should go someplace else until Parvati screamed.
"What?! What is it?!" The three entered the compartment and pressed their faces against the window. High up in the sky was a Ford Anglia, soaring above the Hogwarts Express like a plane. The four of them squashed against each other to try and get a better angle of the flying car, staring in bewilderment.
"Wow," mumbled Hermione. "Who could possibly be in there… Oh. My. Gosh." Hermione zipped out of the room, shortly followed by Theodore. He chased her down the train and called out for her to stop. It was only just a car that was flying high enough that it could disappear into the clouds. Wait a second.
"Hermione! I think I know-"
"That it's Harry and Ron driving the car? Yeah, I do to. They're are such… idiots! What drove them to miss the train and to fly a car instead? I'd seriously like to know!" Hermione said as she sat down on her seat in a huff. Theodore kicked the Pumpkin Pasty out of the compartment and sat down on the opposite side. He was slightly jealous that they were flying in a car above them and was regretful that he had arrived to King's Cross earlier than everyone else. He guessed that was the price of being early to everything. You'd miss out on all of the fun.
Hermione was still in a bad mood for the rest of the trip, not only because of the daredevil antics of Ron and Harry, but because of what Lavender had said about her and Theodore. Theodore probably had no clue that she thought that he was a nice-looking boy, and now it would be awkward for the remainder of the year, maybe the remainder of Hogwarts. Lavender just really got under her skin. The train pulled over to Hogsmeade station and everyone emptied the Express. The second years went to a different direction this year, and went with the majority of the school to the carriages pulled by distorted looking horse creatures. They were almost completely black, save for the dark blue hue, and had wings similar to a bat or most likely a dragon. Their bones were highly visible, they looked blind from their completely white eyes and their fine tails flapped up and down. Theodore was taken back from everybody else, who acted like they couldn't see a thing.
"Hermione, can you see those things? I think they're Thestrals." Hermione peered at the carriages long and hard, but gave up in the end.
"You're seeing things. People can't see Thestrals unless they've seen death beforehand." Well that only verified his vision. Theodore had seen death before, death that was by his hand, so that would naturally allow him to see Thestrals, right? As he, Hermione, Justin Finch-Fletchley and Seamus boarded on a carriage, Theodore couldn't help but stay focused on the creatures that pulled them along to the castle. He ignored the chatter amongst the others, all the way till the main castle.
Having already changed on the train, the older years walked straight to the Great Hall without McGonagall giving them an introduction. They filled up their respective tables and waited patiently for the first years to arrive for the Sorting Ceremony. The only person that Theodore knew in the year below him was Ginny and they only ever had one conversation. There was the strange blond girl but he didn't think much about her. Other than that, the sorting was probably going to be as bland as the following years. He sat between Hermione and Seamus and caught up with him.
"It was probably the worst summer ever! I had to stay over my cousin Fergus for the entire holiday, and he is annoying as shit! Always apparating behind me, giving me a good scare. What did you do, Theo?"
"I stayed at the Leaky Cauldron, mostly. My orphanage was getting really boring." Hermione elbowed his ribs. "But I went back in the end. Can't stay too long away from home, no matter how boring it gets. Could you stop, Hermione?"
"Neville here, went to Spain for two weeks. He got lost in the airport and almost forgot his passport."
"Is that true, Neville?" Hermione asked. They all turned to the boy, who was going as red as ever. Seamus laughed and went to talk to Dean until McGonagall strode in the Great Hall with the first years tagging behind her. The Hall became silent and still as the sorting was about to happen. The usual introduction and the process of the sorting was explained to everyone like it was something new and soon enough, the first years were called up. A Colin Creevey, an excitable Muggle-born, had been sorted into Gryffindor. The boy sat eagerly next to Neville, delighted that he was in the same house as the legendary Harry Potter. A few more came and went until the blond haired girl was called up.
"Luna Lovegood!" Luna was fiddling with the Sorting Hat, causing it to splutter and spit despite the lack of a tongue. Theodore had to admit that it was nice to see someone mess around with the dated hat from time to time. He was still slightly sore from last year.
"Ravenclaw," bellowed the hat as Luna skipped to her house table. Her tie turned dark blue and white, as did the trailings along her jumper. After a long wait of everybody else, Ginny was called up to the stool and her face looked like she was on fire. McGonagall placed the hat on her head and in an instant, she was sorted into Gryffindor. A look of relief was upon her face as Ginny went over to sit next to Hermione.
"New year, new students but the very same Hogwarts!" Dumbledore declared. Theodore hadn't noticed him at the very front of the Hall. In fact, he almost forgot about most of the teachers on his way there. Snape, Flitwick, Binns and Lockhart. He groaned loudly at the sight of the vain professor, who's teeth was as dazzling as ever. "I only expect that you all flourish and excel throughout the year, with no hindrances whatsoever! We as a whole must- yes, Severus… now? I suppose so. Let us not waste anytime and carry on with our feast." Theodore watched Snape slither outside the backdoors of the Hall with an evil grin all over his face. He knew something was up but was then forced to look down to the tables at all the glorious types of dishes that he had missed for so long. He, along with all the other boys, grabbed and chomped on everything that they could, earning a look of disgust from Hermione. Theodore was enjoying a succulent chicken drumstick with a slice of ham when Hermione poked his side.
"Where do you think Snape's off to," whispered the suspicious girl as she kept on eyeing the door that the shady professor went through.
"Maybe the two crashed somewhere near the lake and need a spare leg or two." Theodore said through a mouthful of mashed potatoes. Hermione looked at him with horror and revulsion at the boy's manners. Theodore swallowed his food, then resumed the conversation. "Hermione, while I do believe that they crashed the flying car, I'm absolutely, one hundred percent, sure that they are okay. We beat a troll and a three headed dog last year. We're practically invincible."
"It's a wonder how you can sit upright with a head as big as yours." Hermione responded as she shook her head.
"Will they be okay?" Ginny's small voice came from around the corner and she looked worried for her big brother and Harry. Hermione placed a hand on her shoulder.
"They'll be okay. They're idiots for flying the car but they'll be fine. Trust me, Ginny." Ginny sighed then gnawed at a corn on the cob quite viciously. The two left it behind and carried on eating, not noticing that Snape had returned and left with McGonagall at the front table. Deserts came and deserts left and soon enough, the food had made everyone feel lethargic and sleepy. The prefects directed everyone to their dorms and the Gryffindors followed Percy. The common room felt lovely against a tired Theodore's skin. Everyone was waiting in the main room on the twins' orders for the arrival of the delinquents.
"Can't lie, they're legends for doing this." Dean said excitedly. Theodore had to agree.
"Talk about entering with style. I've got to follow them around for the fun." Seamus replied. Theodore had to agree with that too.
"I wonder if-" Theodore's words were cut short as the portrait of the Fat Lady from behind swung in to reveal Ron and Harry, walking in like rockstars. Everyone screamed and cheered for them. Lee Jordan and the twins held Harry on their shoulders while some of the older years patted Ron on the back. Percy and Hermione looked severely displeased by the attention that they were getting, and Percy went so far as to go tell them off. Harry's eyes widened at the approaching Weasley and jumped to the ground to grab Ron. They made a break for it by running up the spiral staircase, quickly saying goodbye to Hermione and Theodore.
"Idiots. The lot of them."
"Come on, Hermione. You have to admit that it was wicked of them." Hermione spun on her heels and stomped up to the girls dorm. Theodore grinned and walked up to the boy's dorm for the second years and walked in with Seamus, Neville and Dean crowding around the two. "Forever famous eh, Potter?"
Harry grinned as everyone circled him and Ron to listen to everything they had to say, from the barrier closing off to them, to crashing straight into the Whomping Willow and Mr Weasley's car disappearing into the Forbidden Forest.
"Dad's gonna roast me alive when he finds out! Mum will be even worse!" Everyone laughed at the red headed boy's fear of his mother's wrath, unknowing of what certain consequences Ron would have to deal with later on.
"Oh no…" Seamus was barrelling in laughter for some reason.
"What's wrong, Ron?" Theodore asked. Ron's half-dead owl had swooped in like it died in midair but it was still alive. Hardly anything to worry about. Seamus guffawed even louder.
"Ron, what's the matter? And why are you laughing, Seamus?"
"He's, he's got a Howler! Weasley's got a Howler, I'm crying!" Seamus wiped his eyes as he cried over seeing Ron's shocked face. Everyone had egged him on to open the letter, especially Theodore who had never heard of a Howler. Ron swallowed carefully, then reached for the smoking red letter. Theodore leaned in closer as did Harry, while Seamus and Neville put their fingers in their ears. Theodore and Harry soon regretted coming so close as they felt their eardrums rupture at the sudden explosion from the Howler. They both sprung back as a voice, pure with rage and anger screamed for the entire hall to hear.
"NEVER IN MY LONG, DAMN YEARS HAVE I SEEN ANY OF YOUR BROTHERS DO SOMETHING SO STUPID, SO IDIOTIC, SO DISRESPECTFUL! NEVER! WHAT IN FRESH HELL WENT THROUGH YOUR BRAIN, RONALD BILLIUS WEASLEY?! I DEMAND TO KNOW!
Ron was half hidden underneath the table with his eyes staring at the letter which contained his mother's angry screams, only a hundred times louder. "I can't really tell you what happened, you're just a letter," said the boy weakly.
"-AND HOW DARE YOU DRAG HARRY INTO YOUR ANTICS! IF IT WAS YOUR IDEA TO STEAL YOUR FATHER'S CAR AND TO FLY ALL THE WAY TO HOGWARTS, THERE IS NO CASTLE, NO DUMBLEDORE, NO FATHER, NO MINISTRY OR AZKABAN THAT WILL STOP ME FROM WHAT I'M ABOUT TO DO TO YOU!
Ron grimaced as he looked to Harry. He honestly looked like he'd die from all the embarrassment that made him red to the nose. Any more and there'd be blood pouring out from his ears.
"DO NOT MAKE ME COME ALL THE WAY THERE TO DRAG YOU STRAIGHT HOME! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!"
The Howler shredded and burnt into a crisp, raining ashes in front of Ron's face. The entire Gryffindor table was silent, unlike the Slytherins, then Seamus broke into laughter once again. Ron punched him in the stomach, causing the Irish boy to splutter after being terribly winded.
"You did deserve it." Hermione remarked as she looked through her book, 'Voyage with Vampires'.
"Shut up," snarled Ron, "I don't need to hear anything from you!" Hermione ignored this and looked down in her book. Theodore was eating a folded piece of toast filled with bacon and scrambled eggs and watched Ron pull his hair out. All the mightiness that he had felt the night before had been sucked out, sliced and burnt by a magical letter from his mother, and it did not bode well for him the next time he'd meet her again.
"Maybe our first lesson will take your mind off it. Come on Ron, don't act like you weren't going to get in trouble. You were flying a Ford Anglia, for God's sake!" Theodore said as he was given his timetable by McGonagall.
"And I don't want to hear it from you either. Double Herbology? Why couldn't it have been Defence Against the Dark Arts instead?" Ron moaned. The four of them had Herbology with the Hufflepuffs, making it one of their few mixed lessons. Theodore left before everyone else, and was followed by Hermione who still remembered their competition between each other. They arrived at the greenhouses around the magical gardens and so did the others. Professor Sprout, the teacher for Herbology was a happy-looking, short and round little witch who had a layer of earth all over her with tattered robes and a hat. Lockhart had been accompanying her with helping the Whomping Willow but left promptly when he suddenly remembered that he was teacher, not a celebrity.
"Come along, children! Into greenhouse three!" Everyone rushed inside the called greenhouse, eager to find what dangerous, magical plants would be housed in there. Theodore walked in next to Harry but was suddenly by himself when the other boy was pulled over to the side by Lockhart, who he wanted to have a word with. Theodore, Harry and Professor Sprout all looked annoyed by the lingering man but he insisted on talking with the Boy Who Lived. Theodore walked in and stood next to Ron who wondered where Harry had went off to.
"Lockhart pulled him over. What the hell is his problem anyways? Is he obsessed with him?" Theodore whispered.
"Not as much as he is obsessed with himself." The two silently laughed and focused on the lesson. Harry had walked in behind everyone else and took a place between Ron and Hermione, dismissing Ron's questions about what the man wanted to talk about.
"Mandrakes will be the focus of the lesson today. Can anyone tell me what a Mandrake is?" Hermione beat Theodore as the girl was picked over him.
"The Mandrake, or Mandragora, is a restorative plant originating from the Mediterranean, capable of subsiding and curing the effects of anyone that has been transfigured, cursed or petrified to their original states."
"Splendid! Ten points for Gryffindor!" Professor Sprout said. Hermione gave a snobbish grin to Theodore who was determined to answer the next question. "Yes, the Mandrake has several healing capabilities however, can anybody tell me how it can be just as dangerous as the ailments that it is used to cure?" Theodore shot his hand right up but Professor Sprout chose Hermione instead.
"The cry of a Mandrake is absolutely fatal to anyone that hears it."
"Well done! Another ten points for Gryffindor!" Theodore was fuming inside as he could feel Hermione staring at him with joy that she was going off with a bang at the start of the year.
Professor Sprout explained that they would be potting baby Mandrakes in soil as using adult ones would be far too dangerous. Everyone was told to grab a pair of earmuffs from the back, which created a rush for the ones that didn't have mud or crusty slime hanging off. Theodore managed to salvage a clean looking white one with little dirt on the outside. They all snapped them on as they watched the teacher pull out what looked like a deformed baby covered in mud squeal at the sudden change of environment. It writhed around as Professor Sprout held it from its green leaves above its head. She then carried the Mandrake to another empty pot and dropped it inside before burying it in compost and mud. It looked like it was comfortable with being under the mud as it stopped squirming about.
"Everyone get into groups of four! Make sure that your earmuffs are properly fitted and be careful of the surrounding plants. Nobody wants to be horribly poisoned today now, do we?" Everyone shook their heads and made groups of four under a minute flat. Theodore had refused to work with Hermione, who looked sad by this, and instead went to work with Seamus, Neville and Hannah.
"How come you're not with them, Theo?" Neville asked as he held a fluffy pink pair of muffs.
"Hermione's on her high pedestal. I'll wait for her to come down soon." Theodore didn't know that he was being a hypocrite for calling Hermione out on her ego. The four of them focused on potting their hefty Mandrake with somewhat ease and difficulty. Hannah kept on staring at Theodore, putting him in an uncomfortable position where he was bitten several times by the screaming plant. Seamus was too disgusted to touch it, leaving Neville to do most of the dirty work, no pun intended. Theodore was highly impressed with the way Neville had poked the plant in the back to stop it from resisting, and how he quickly covered it with compost. Judging from everyone else, they were the first ones that were finished and were the first to be excused from lesson. The other three watched Theodore and the others leave without a trace of dirt on them, save for Theodore and Neville, and struggled with their own plant, that looked particularly fat.
"Nice one, Neville! You looked like a true professional!"
"Thanks Seamus." Neville said nervously.
"He's right you know," said Theodore approvingly, "you could seriously pass your N.E.W.T's if you wanted to. Maybe even become a professor here." Neville looked even more embarrassed by the praise from his fellow students and the three split away from Hannah to go to Transfiguration.
The rest of the Gryffindors arrived after looking worn out from the previous class and all took their seats. Hermione tried to sit next to Lavender to avoid the free seat next to Theodore but quickly changed her mind. She didn't give a glance to the boy as they both looked forwards.
After thirty minutes of writing notes down on pieces of parchment, the class were then tasked to change a black beetle into a button. McGonagall had an eye on Theodore and Hermione as they were the two overachievers of the class and always seemed to surpass her expectations. Theodore was daydreaming as he tapped his acacia wand against the desk. He hasn't spoken to Louise in a while. He would go write a letter immediately after the lesson and would find Sawer to deliver the message, if he had the time to-
"Ahem." Theodore blinked and turned to Hermione. She had a stern face and was not impressed by his lack of attention. "Would you like to go first, or should I go ahead?" Theodore lazily waved his wand at the beetle.
"Vera Verto!" The beetle shook a little then shape-shifted into a perfect black button, free of any antennas or legs. Hermione still didn't look impressed as she attempted on her beetle, producing the same results. After rather shocking results, the class was dismissed after the bell had rung and they all went for lunch in the Great Hall. Theodore was walking next to Ron who was furiously waving his broken wand in the air that was barely held together by sellotape. Harry suggested asking his parents for a new one but Ron only went pale. He dreaded receiving another Howler from his mother. They all walked in the Great Hall and sat themselves on Gryffindor table, with Theodore purposely sitting next to Hermione.
"Hi." The Parselmouth said in a nonchalant tone. Hermione didn't make eye contact and was reading through one of Lockhart's books.
"Why are all of Lockhart's lessons outlined in hearts," said Theodore as he held in the urge to laugh. Hermione slammed her hand on her timetable and crumpled it inside of her robes. She was not looking happy at all.
"Don't you have a flock of girls to keep you busy?"
"I'm sorry. Didn't know you wanted me so bad." Hermione was blushing very noticeably at the moment that she had to turn away.
"I didn't want you… 'so bad'! I simply asked if you wanted to be in a group and you said 'I don't want to be with you'! Stop twisting my words!" She hissed.
"Alright, okay. I'm sorry, really. I'll make sure that we're partners for everything. Is that okay?"
"That sarcasm of yours? Needs to go, now." The half-blood and the Muggle-born were still talking till they saw a white flash of light temporarily blind them.
"What the bloody hell was that!?" Theodore rubbed his eyes and focused on the familiar boy that had flashed the camera in their naked eyes. Colin was wrapped in his Gryffindor scarf, despite the nice weather, and looked amazed by the sight of Harry eating a ham sandwich.
"Hi! Colin Creevey here! Is it okay if I take a picture of you for my memory book? I mean, I know that I just took one but another wouldn't hurt. How about it? Please?" Colin was breathless as he said all of that in under four seconds. Harry looked at him blankly, completely unaware of what was happening as did the others. The first year was elaborating quite quickly, about how he entered the school as he was a Muggle-born and how he learned everything about Harry, his birthday, the colour of his eyes, all of it.
"Thanks Colin, but I don't think that I want to." Harry said as he tried to shut the boy down.
"Please?! Just one good photo! You could even sign it!"
"Look at me! My name's Harry Potter and I sign photos for my stupid fan club!" Everyone turned around to see Draco alongside Crabbe and Goyle, smirking at the attention that Harry was gaining. "You going to cut lightning on his head too?"
"Shut up," snarled Harry. Theodore could see the pure hatred that Harry had for Draco. "Don't you have to be kissing up to Snape somewhere?"
"As if. I want to stay here, see if I can get a photo as well. Let me see, could we have one where I'm looking at you crashing a car into a tree? Oo! And I could get a great big dirty scar on my forehead! That'd be the entire package!" Draco's sidekicks laughed as Ron and Harry started to fume. "Don't worry Weasley, I'll make sure to get one with you instead, if you can pay for it."
"Piss off, Malfoy!"
"Yeah," said Colin in a squeaky voice, "you're just jealous of Harry." Draco walked closer to him in a threatening manner, causing the small boy to flinch backwards.
"Now why would I be jealous, you little Mud-" Theodore stopped Draco from escalating the situation and gave him the look that enough was enough. Draco hesitated then slowly backed off. Crabbe and Goyle gawped at the frightened boy like two tigers preying on a newborn gazelle. "Anyways, I'm here for Theodore."
"What do you want with him?" Ron hissed.
"None if your business, Weasley! It's important stuff, stuff that is above the likes of you!" Theodore stood immediately between the livid boys and agreed to follow Draco only, outside the Great Hall. They reached the doors and made sure that they were out of sight of the others.
"So? What is it?" Theodore asked slightly boorishly. The divide was getting wider and he was falling deeper. Draco looked side to side and brought out something from the insides of his robes. "You called me up, to give me… a history book?"
"Not just any history book. Look at the title. Our Founders. There's a copy of the book in the library but obviously, that one is useless. So father sent this to me to give to you. Here." Theodore took the copy in his hand and observed it. The book was much more sleek-looking, thicker and cleaner than the one in the library, but the author's name was still not present. Perhaps it was lost in time.
"Your dad wanted me to have it? Why?"
"Don't know. It said somewhere on the letter about helping you 'discover more about yourself' or whatever that means." Theodore flicked quickly through the pages while he couldn't shake the feeling of something. Mr Malfoy was definitely strange for sending him a book about the founders. He remembered last year when he was searching for anything about his ancestor with Hermione, but had barely recovered anything. Did the man know that he was Slytherin's heir? He was far too interested in the boy when he had first met, but this was borderline eerie. Theodore shut the book and pocketed it in his robes.
"Thanks, Draco. Make sure that you, uh, give my thanks to your dad." Draco nodded and lightly punched Theodore on the shoulder before rejoining his friends. The bell for the next lesson went off and Theodore grabbed his things in the Great Hall before leaving for DADA alone. For the first time ever, Theodore was the last person to arrive and some people gasped mockingly.
"Hello! Theodore, is it? Let's not make this a habit of being late, eh? There's a good chap!" Theodore ignored Lockhart as he walked over to the back near his friends. Each table was a four-seater and Harry, Ron and Hermione were sat all together. Lavender tried to grab his attention by waving like a maniac, but he quickly ducked next to Ron.
"What did I miss?"
"Oh you know, Order of Merlin, Honorary Member of some bullshit, four-time winner of smiling at something, the usual." Ron explained.
"Five-times, Ronald." Hermione gritted through her teeth.
"Quiz time! This will give me a rough idea about how much you know about, well… me." Lockhart said through a sparkly smile. He quickly dished out several test papers and gave everyone thirty minutes to complete it. Theodore was ready. He was going to ace this one in five minutes flat without any problems.
'Time to put you in your place, Hermione. Let's see, 'What is Gilderoy Lockhart's favourite colour?' What…'
Theodore, as well as Ron and Harry, flicked through the paper to see a barrage of questions, all based on Lockhart. His birthday, his favourite food, even his favourite shampoo brand. The three boys turned to Hermione who was hurtling through each question like it was nothing.
Lockhart goaded everyone on how most of the answers written were terribly wrong with only Hermione gaining full marks. She blushed terribly at the praise she received and looked entirely proud of herself. That was 30-0 to Hermione with Theodore not receiving a single point on the first day. There was something terribly wrong here.
The Parselmouth was in a bad mood for the rest of the lesson and started to play around with his wand, completely ignoring what was happening at the front of the classroom. He fumbled around in his bag to see if anything could help him past the time when the Founder's book came into full vision. There was probably more information about Defence Against the Dark Arts in there, than there was inside Lockhart's brain. He placed the book on his lap and started to read:
The legendary Salazar Slytherin, founder of the Slytherin House, has been an icon and imprint in wizarding history, proving his ambition and cunning to be a valuable asset at his time in Hogwarts. Along with Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff and Rowena Ravenclaw, they created the foundation that is Hogwarts today.
Alas, the severe clash among the other founders was detrimental to the school as Salazar believed that those born from Muggle blood were unworthy to learn under their school and that pure bloods were entirely superior. This had led to confrontation with the others, particularly Godric, and broke out in violent bouts of disagreement. Some chose to believe that the wayward founder acted under prejudice, fuelling the divide and hatred for Muggles while others thought that he acted under caution, as wizard and witch prosecution was heavily prominent during that era.
The arguments resulted in Salazar leaving the school for good, never to return again until his death which was unknown. However, rumours and myths, spread across centuries, had originated from the founder's last actions. They say that Salazar built and left behind a hidden room, the Chamber of Secrets, which-
Something blue and tiny shot right past and seemingly snatched the book from his grasp. Theodore focused on where the book went until he suddenly realised the chaos that had filled the entire classroom. Lockhart was hiding underneath his desk, Neville was hung upon the chandelier somehow, and the class was running amuck, trying to defend themselves against Cornish Pixies.
"Somebody do something!" Neville screamed as his jumper was tearing slowly from the hook. Theodore was busy whacking several pixies away from him with Lockhart's book and was trying to find the cheeky devil that took his own. He managed to see it flying in the air with his allies but looked in horror at what they were doing. They were casually ripping out the pages and throwing them all around like they were confetti. Theodore grabbed his wand and aimed it at the pixie group.
"Ventus!" Thin streams of condensed air shot out from the tip of his wand and hit each pixie square in the chest, sending them smashing into the walls. The other pixies saw their injured comrades and began to circle Theodore, ready to attack him until they were quickly immobilised by Hermione. Theodore lowered his wand and went to collect his book and all the pages that were sprawled everywhere. They were lucky that they did not decide to eat them as Theodore wasn't afraid to go a bit dark to find the pages inside them.
"Theo! You okay?" Harry asked as he helped Theodore pick up the pages. Theodore quickly snatched them and stuffed them inside of the book.
"Yeah, I'm alright. Who was the idiot that let those things loose? Was it-"
"Yes." Ron said blankly.
"I knew it. The guy's a fraud, he shouldn't even be here!"
"He's not! I'm sure that he had everything under control." Hermione said. The boys pointed everywhere in the demolished classroom. "Almost everything."
The quartet finished rounding up the pixies and left for the day was finally over. As everyone went up to their beds later that night, Theodore was still in the main room, sticking the pages in the correct order with Sawer and Viripin as company. There were only three or four pages that were badly ripped in the middle but the rest were able to fit just fine. The obsession of looking for Slytherin and his father's work had slowly returned as he was determined to know what the Chamber of Secrets was. He just had to.
"So how was your first day? Did you have a lesson with the torturer?" Viripin said as she flicked her tail in Sawer's face.
"Could you stop doing that to him, he's getting annoyed. And today was just great. If that idiot Lockhart hadn't let out those pixies."
"Mmm, pixies. They taste quite salty but nice nonetheless. Was it they that damaged your book?" Theodore nodded as he fitted the last page. "What's so special about it?"
"This, my dear Maibian beauty, is the answer to who I am. My ancestor Slytherin built something called the Chamber of Secrets and I have to know why. Maybe it has something to do with his heir."
"Hmm, interesting. Tom didn't find out that he was the Heir of Slytherin until he was around fourteen. I'm impressed that you did it when you were eleven."
"Oh, Viripin. You flatter me too much!" He said sarcastically with a wave of a hand. "Also, there's a letter and a package for Louise on the table over there. Tell Sawer to deliver it to her."
"Please," spat Viripin as she slithered to the brown parcel with the letter attached.
"Please." Viripin motioned the owl to come closer and imitated the bird's noises to communicate with him. Sawer must've understood everything as he picked the package in his sharp talons and flew straight out of the open window. Theodore leaned backwards, and traced his finger to where he last left off and carried on reading:
"-was a testament to those that belonged to his bloodline. It was said that it could only be opened by his heir and his heir alone, using their heritage as a key of some sorts. Slytherin tasked his heir to open the Chamber of Secrets, and to use the very mystery that he left behind to cleanse the school of those, in his eyes, unworthy to study magic. What lies inside the chamber has remained unknown to all, but speculation has said that Slytherin planted a beast of terrible nature, that only his heir can control.
However, there has been no attacks within the school since his time away from Hogwarts, proving that the Chamber of Secrets will remain a myth. The room has never been seen or recovered, therefore-"
Theodore quickly turned his head at the sound of pattering feet. He stood up quickly as Viripin hid underneath the couch.
"Who's there… come out, now!" For a few seconds, nobody came into sight, then from the girl's dormitory entrance, came a red haired, red faced little girl who slowly came inside of the room. Ginny was wearing pink pyjamas and was holding something in her hands behind her back. She didn't look that nervous to being around the boy but she was embarrassed for some odd reason. "Oh, it's you. How comes you're up, Ginny?"
"I-I couldn't sleep."
"Neither could I. But I'm about to go up so you should to. You don't want to be tired on your second day." Theodore said as he collected his book, quill and ink from the table in front of the fire. He could see Viripin sticking her black-tipped tail from underneath the couch but couldn't say anything to her, out of the fear of freaking Ginny out. Theodore walked towards his dorm when Ginny suddenly moved right in front of him, causing them to both drop what was inside of their hands.
"Sorry! Sorry sorry, sorry!" Ginny apologised several times as she bent down to reach for her book. Theodore got to it first and took a closer look at it. It looked like normal diary, a bit worn out with rough edges and a faded brown leather texture. There was absolutely nothing extraordinary about it, not one thing. Except the name that was written across it.
Tom Marvolo Riddle.
That was his father's name, written in dirty gold. That was his father's diary. But what was a girl like Ginny Weasley, doing with a diary that belonged to his father? Theodore had no time to think as Ginny snatched the diary and skipped up to her dorm. Theodore had remained frozen, crouching on the floor, trying to find an explanation for what he just saw. For some weird reason, the diary… 'called' to him when he had it in his hands. Like it wanted him to hear something it had to say. For some odd reason, he needed that diary, and he was going to get it. Right after he was going to find his hidden birthright that laid somewhere, right in this castle.
Yessssss, we're herrreeeee! And the mystery begins. I'm going to enjoy this so much as this might be the defining year of Theodore's character later on. I'm just going to keep this short and brief and I'll see you in the next chapter. Hoped you enjoyed. Later.