The soft texture of a mattress supported the boy as he sat up from his bed. For a second, Theodore couldn't feel anything but then instantly clutches his chest at the returning pain. This wasn't potent enough to make him bellow in anguish but did cause him to wince a little. As he rubbed caressingly, Theodore cycled the same question inside his head vigorously, wanting an answer at the very second.
'Was that real?'
He fed his brain the same question over and over again but received negative results. He had no idea if all of that was real. He opened the Chamber of Secrets on that night, he really did. But all of it felt too real, too fast. Theodore tried to recollect everything, piece by piece, and resisted the strain across his upper body.
'There was the bathroom… and the sinks in the middle. That was where I went through… right. A big pipe… bones? A-and… a door, that's it! A door! With snakes! And behind it was… the Chamber and… the monster which was a… a…'
Theodore rubbed his chest as the pain grew too strong for him to focus. He couldn't recall everything, only the sinks, the snake door and the diary that was on his bed. His father's diary was placed in between his two feet. Theodore took it in one hand and felt none of the warmth that it gave in his 'dream'. He inspected the sides and its contents, and nothing had changed. Nothing out of the ordinary. He closed the book and threw it underneath his bed before he heard violent hissing from the snake that he had forgotten somehow.
"Sorry, Viripin!" Theodore suddenly realised that he was speaking aloud in Parseltongue and quickly covered his mouth. The boys' dormitory was still full of snores from his fellow roommates. He ducked his head lower to the ground and spoke much more quietly. "Are you alright?"
Theodore didn't get angry that the snake was ignoring him. Oddly, he felt distraught that Viripin hadn't replied. He wasn't feeling himself at all, in fact. The pain had disappeared soon enough, and the Parselmouth had decided to leave his bed. The skies held a rich purple and orange blend as the waking sun initiated the early morning. Theodore felt like he slept forever but according to his pocket watch, it was only eight hours, or so he thought. His body was sluggish and it felt too heavy to drag along the dormitory and to the bathroom.
Theodore was in his school uniform half an hour later, and sat in the empty common room, still upon the sofa. His robe was crumpled along his lap as it had the Gryffindor emblem stitched on, along with the inner threads sporting a scarlet colour. They should've been green. The emblem should've been of his ancestor. He didn't belong here. His left eye twitched. Theodore wrapped the robe around his neck and fitted it on tightly before he left the common room. Voices and murmurs from the others filled his ears but were instantly silenced as he shut the portrait of the Fat Lady behind him.
"I already assigned you with Vincent, Longbottom! Do not ask me again!" Neville whimpered in his seat as Snape glided away to the front of the classroom. The first term of Potions was based all around the brewing of the Hair-Raising Potion, consisting of essays, homework, practicals, more homework, evaluations and even more homework. Theodore was sat near the far right of the room when Draco happened to be sitting right next to him. The two hadn't spoken to each other since Saturday and for Theodore well, he was burning with anger just by even being in the blonde boy's vicinity. He couldn't stand the sight of Draco anymore, always feeling contempt whenever he would smirk stupidly with his friends. Slytherin would've been disappointed that a boy of such purity only held value from his blood alone, not his talent or gifts. Then again, Theodore's ancestor would've probably favoured Draco over him, seeing as how he was a half-blood.
"I thought that there were rooster feathers inside of the potion." Draco said as he looked over the parchments that were in front of Theodore.
"It's of a falcon, not a rooster." Theodore replied.
"But it says-"
"I know what I'm talking about. It's falcon feathers, end of!" Draco said nothing and scribbled out a line across his parchment rolls to rectify his mistake. Theodore hadn't noticed that he was hissing loudly as others, mainly the Slytherins, turned their heads to him. A few whispers but Theodore didn't know what they were saying. He didn't care.
The lesson carried on with the same atmosphere lingering on until the first bell rung throughout the castle. Snape barked instructions about completing another load of hefty work before the next lesson and pulled Theodore away from leaving with the other three. The man looked distastefully happy as Theodore could see his crooked smile. Talk about unsettling. The boy opted to speak out but was beaten by the professor.
"I take it that you are enjoying these recent lessons? The very first few potions that I taught you last year are beyond advanced than what you saw in the classroom today."
"Is there a point in all of this, Professor? I wanted to go with my friends to eat in the Great Hall." Snape raised an eyebrow as his greasy hair stiffened a little.
"And by friends, you'd include… Draco?"
"Draco is not my friend," said the boy quickly. "I don't want anything to do with him! I don't even know why you made me his partner in the first place."
"Do not question my judgement, boy! I suppose that you'd want to be with Miss Granger, to parade yourselves around like the arrogant children you are! Don't make me regret choosing you, is that clear?"
"I said, is that clear?"
"Yes sir." Snape dismissed Theodore after handing him a list of tasks that needed to be completed on Friday after school. Theodore was sure that this was a well-hidden detention from Theodore's little 'outburst' back there, but had no doubts that this was result of Snape's pettiness. And here he thought that Snape might've actually liked him. His assumptions were horribly off. The boy closed the classroom doors behind him and walked to the exit of the dungeons, until stopping so suddenly. From around the corner, he could hear a few people whisper and hiss about something. No, someone.
"…so? Why do you care about him? He's in that idiotic house anyways!"
"My father told me to ally myself with him. Told me that his allegiance would be valuable to our family. Still don't know what the hell he meant by that."
"Just leave him, Draco. He's not worth our time. If he was really 'valuable' to your family, then why isn't he in Slytherin? Oh wait, I forgot. The Sorting Hat rejected him because he doesn't belong with us!" Theodore's nostrils flared at the comment. His heart filled with malice as he tried to peer at who made such a ludicrous remark. A bulky, heavy jawed girl with striking black hair grimaced in the most revolting way possible that it would be difficult to not recognise her. Millicent Bulstrode.
'Stupid girl. To think that the Sorting Hat chose her instead of me. Me! The Heir of Slytherin! The disrespect…"
"Then go on, all of you! I'll wait for him myself, you don't have to wait up," said Draco as he leaned against the dungeon archway. She, along with the others, left Draco on his own to wait patiently for Theodore. He whistled loudly to himself as Theodore rubbed his chest again. Something was throbbing on the inside but didn't seem painful, only uncomfortable. He thought about jinxing Draco temporarily while he made a break for it.
'No, Snape would probably come outside and see me running away. I'll just wait for him to go when he realises that I'm not able to come out soon. Yeah, that'll work.'
A dangerous crunch and growl echoed from Theodore's stomach as he held it tightly. It was stupid of him to avoid breakfast, and now lunchtime was slipping away every second he'd spend there hiding from Draco. His mouth became dry and his stomach growls became stomach pains. He needed to eat, right now. If it meant that Draco would notice him, then so be it. He had to reach the Great Hall before lessons came back on, before his stomach would eat his body.
Theodore came out from around the corner and bolted right past Draco without giving him a sign of acknowledgement as he raced to the Great Hall. Draco's calls of his name quickly lowered until Theodore could hear no more and soon enough, he was speed-walking along the second floor corridors with the images of food motivating him to not drop dead onto the ground. He could feel his stomach acid leak around his other organs.
"Calm down, Ron. It's only until Christmas." Harry uttered. The three of the four were sat along the Gryffindor table, with Ron complaining about the previous lesson in pure frustration.
"Of course you'd say that. You have Hermione as a partner while I'm stuck with that idiot Goyle! Did you know that he's incapable of writing his entire first name? How ridiculous is that?!"
"Neville's probably got it the worst," said Hermione as she secretly folded her Lockhart bookmark. "Did you see what Crabbe was doing to him underneath the table? So awful. And Theodore is still partnered up with 'him'. Harry and Ron suddenly grew scowls on their faces as they remembered what Draco had done last week. Hermione did her best to try and forget the situation by avoiding Draco and simply pretending that he didn't exist. That wasn't her usual way of approach, but she had no idea that she would face any discrimination in a school for magic. It simply didn't make any sense to her.
"Theo's been gone for a while. Should we go find him," suggested Ron.
"No need to. Look. He's right over there." Harry pointed as the other two turned their heads around. Looking particularly moody and tired, Theodore was pacing in between the two middle tables of the Great Hall and placed himself right next to Ron rather clumsily.
"Sorry, Ron," said Theodore shortly before rapidly filling his plate to the brim with multiple types of food. The three watched him scoff everything in under minute, both amazed and perplexed by the boy's hunger. They never suspected him to being such a 'fan' of food.
"Didn't see you this morning. You alright?" Harry asked. Theodore nodded as he used a napkin to wipe off a ketchup spot on the corner of his mouth.
"I woke up really early this morning. I think I had a… bad dream or something but I honestly can't remember. It was all too vague."
"But you're alright? I heard some hissing coming from your corner again and I swore that you left your bed at one point." Ron said a bit worryingly. Theodore was skeptical that he left his bed in the middle of the night. He couldn't deny that he may have slipped out a bit of Parseltongue but there was no way that he slept-walked, no matter how real that dream felt.
"Well, I feel fine. Besides, it's not me I have to worry about. You're stuck with Goyle, how foul is that?" Ron and Theodore went back and forth with their thoughts on their new Potions partners, both being completely resentful at Snape for the sudden changes. "And you know what's funny? It's like Snape really wanted me to work with Malfoy."
"Probably to help boost his grades up, the slimy gits. Favouritism at its finest. Why couldn't he have just partnered me up with you instead? I've got it worse than Malfoy," cried Ron as he threw his hands up in frustration.
"Couldn't you just make a complaint to Snape to change partners?" Hermione suggested. Ron and Theodore looked at her like she was crazy. They were pissed at Snape, but not to the point where they would actually confront him about it. Call it cowardice or intelligence, it was a witless idea. They were just going to firm their 'punishment' until Christmas would come along, and that seemed far too long for the boys' liking.
"For fuck's sake," muttered Ron.
"I couldn't help but notice that Ginny has been following you for a long time, Harry. Do you think that-"
"Shut up, Theo. Let's just get to the common room before Filch catches us. Again."
"That was last year, we've learnt from our mistakes."
"And what were they?"
"The first was remembering to give Mrs Norris a good kick to her side." Harry elbowed Theodore as he chuckled. It was funny yet disheartening to think that Harry had no clue that one of his best friends was also his cousin. Theodore wondered if he had made any sort of link between the two, maybe seeing the little semblance that they had, or having a familial inclination towards Theodore. He hadn't seen any signs of the former thoughts so far.
The two boys walked through the castle's many leaf-littered corridors as the chilly October came around. A fast-growing, but easily curable epidemic loitered around, sending many students and staff to Madam Pomfrey, only to be cured in a blink of an eye. Magical healthcare was really something, wasn't it?
"Hey look, it's Nick. Hey, Nick!" Harry called out. Gryffindor's respective house ghost, Nearly-Headless Nick floated boorishly as he gazed at the wall with sadness. He perked up a little when he saw the two coming over for a chat.
"Hello, Mr Potter, Mr Riddle. How are you on this fine autumn day?" The ghost said melancholically.
"We're alright, but you don't look so good yourself, Nick. Is there something wrong?" Harry asked. Nick sighed and further explained his current predicament. Theodore listened to all of this while mundanity got the better of him. After Nick had finally finished, Theodore piped up to say something.
"Not to be rude or anything Nick, but Harry and I have to keep on moving. Filch is going to murder us if he sees the mess that we made here," said Theodore as he pointed to his and Harry's muddy shoes. A footprint trail of slippery mud had been left behind from when the boys were hurrying to the common room. Filch, being the cunning grumpy old man that he was, was surely tracking them down as they spoke.
"Oh yes! Right, I forgot. Don't mind me, I'll be alright. I'll be just… fine… just fine…"
"Well… bye." The two hurried off in the direction that they intended to go, only to have their skin crawl at the sound of a horrible, screeching hiss coming from below. "Urgh, it's the flipping cat! Come on! I'll kick it then we'll run in the opposite direction!"
"Don't! Filch is probably around the-"
"SO IT WAS YOU TWO! I KNEW IT! MUCKING UP THE HALLWAYS AS A JOKE, HUH!? YOU'RE COMING WITH ME, POTTER AND RIDDLE!" Harry and Theodore trudged behind the grubby caretaker while they both argued silently on if they should've made a break for it. Their bickering lasted all the way to Filch's office, proving to be redundant at the current setting. The room was a reflection of the man who owned it. Dusty, ancient and housed a terrible odour. This was Filch's place, no doubt about it. Confiscated items, most from the Weasley twins, were neatly placed in several drawers, objects that looked of the torturous sort hung from poorly driven nails, a large dirty round mirror and a few piles of oily parchments that were stacked on his desk. As Filch fumbled around for something, Theodore and Harry were talking under their breath, desperate to find a solution out of there.
"We need to distract him." Harry whispered.
"How?" Harry looked around to see if anything could be knocked over to stall Filch long enough so that they could escape. Everything was too far out of reach for Filch to not notice them.
"I… don't know."
"I told you, we should've kicked the cat and run away, but you didn't want me to."
"What do you think he would've done to us if had done so, huh," hissed Harry. "We'll just have to wait and be hopeful that something saves us. For the time being, we're stuck here."
"Shut your mouth, Potter before I shut it for you!" Filch threatened.
The caretaker scrawled over two pieces of parchment while he happily mumbled to himself. Theodore suspected that he was writing detention slips for the both of them, knowing how much he despised the two, especially Theodore. He had barely even scratched the blasted cat last year. She was lucky that he favoured stealth over theatricals during the whole dragon fiasco. "Where the hell did I put- those fucking twins! Took my stamps again!" Filch dashed out the door, leaving both of the boys confused but glad that the twins had unintentionally stalled them for time. Harry sat at the cluttered desk while Theodore inspected the various items that were scattered across the room. A bear trap with multiple teeth the size of a baby's palm, a nine-tailed whip that Theodore swore he saw move and others that looked too drastic to describe. Theodore was fiddling with a barbed chain when Harry called him over.
"What is it?"
"It's some kind of weird, substitute magic. Why would Filch have something like this? Isn't he a wizard?" Harry asked as he handed the folded parchment letter to Theodore.
"He's probably just too old to do magic." Theodore said as he read through the letter.
"But Dumbledore's pretty old and even Voldemort is scared of him."
"…true. Or maybe he's just a Squib." Theodore looked at Harry's face and explained what he meant by the term. "A Squib is somebody who has magical parents or parent, but aren't magical themselves. Like the black sheep of the family."
"Yikes. D'you think that's why he's so grumpy all of the time? Because he can't do any magic?"
"I'm one hundred and ten percent sure, that it's the case." Theodore read over the letter once again, trying to understand why a possible non-wizard would need something that he was incapable of obtaining. Taking a 'Kwikspell Course' looked like a cheap method of learning magic but it was Filch. What would you expect from a bad-tempered man like him?
Filch pushed the door open with such force that it forced Theodore to drop the letter onto his feet, instantly giving himself away. Filch ignored Harry, who also shot up from the chair, and eyeballed Theodore with outright detest and hatred. Theodore didn't know what to do at all, only silently murmuring as Mrs Norris circled around him like a hungry shark.
"You… touched… my stuff?" Theodore turned to a terrified Harry and back to Filch. No response. "You touched my stuff!"
"LIAR! YOU READ MY STUFF! HOW DARE YOU, YOU LITTLE BRAT! I OUGHT TO HANG YOU IN SHACKLES FOR WHAT YOU DID!"
"Mr Filch, he didn't open the letter, it was me," pleaded Harry but Filch didn't want to hear any of it.
"Shut up! Matter of fact, you get out of here. I'm going to give the discipline that this little tyke has been neglected for so long. What are you waiting for? GO!" Theodore nodded slightly for Harry to leave before Filch decided to inflict his wrath upon him as well. As Harry reluctantly left the room, Filch slammed the door behind him and grinned horribly to reveal his darkened yellow teeth. Mrs Norris meowed as the two began to corner the boy. Theodore moved backwards slowly until he hit the desk behind him. He stared into Filch's mad eyes as his own quivered a little.
"A shame that I can't physically hurt you. Little shits such as yourself need a good beating every now and then. But it will be a pleasure knowing that I can report you for intruding into my office and attempting to steal my things."
"But that's a lie! I haven't stolen anything!" Filch leaned closer to the boy, the smell of rotting fish leaking from his mouth. Theodore wanted to gag and push his head away from his own but kept still.
"Nobody will believe you. And if Potter tries to back you up, I'll just say that he was in on it as well," whispered Filch. "I might even throw in the threats that you sent to my cat from earlier on. That's right, I heard you. Not feeling so tough now aren't you, 'Theo'?" Filch broke out into a wheezing fit of laughter while Mrs Norris hissed from behind. Theodore's skin burned as anger seeped out from his pores. He hardened his fist as he felt compelled to hit the despicable man, despite his age. Filch noticed this and came closer to him one more, face to face. "Is little Theodore angry? Did I touch a nerve? Well don't just carry on standing there, hit me."
"I said, hit. Me." Theodore gritted his teeth as tightened his fist so hard he could've bled right there. He knew what would've been the consequences had he succumbed to his anger but by god, did he want to hurt him so bad. Whether it be by magic or by hand, Theodore wanted to see this man suffer in so much pain, that he'd never come back to Hogwarts. He'd be doing everyone a favour by doing so. Filch poked Theodore in the chest and pushed him back a little, trying to draw out a reaction from the boy.
"Don't push me." Theodore said quietly. Filch pushed him again. "I said, don't…"
"Or what, 'Theo'? What could you possibly do?" Filch taunted as he pushed Theodore one final time. The Parselmouth almost exploded as his hatred for the man was on the very edge, waiting for the final push to release everything. He looked down to the ground and counted slowly to ease his anger, not knowing that his eyes briefly took a scarlet shade for a few seconds. "Hmph. Just as I thought. Thinks he's better than everyone else. You should be happy, kid. I just gave you a reality check. Don't matter if you're a wizard, you kids don't mean a thing to me. Bunch of sissies with undeserved power. Look at you. Silent, just how I like it. You see that, Mrs Norris? That's how you deal with these kids. Gotta twist their feeble, naïve minds to understand the truth." Filch opened the door and told Theodore to leave. "If you ever try anything like that again well… hehe… you'll see."
Filch slammed his office door as Theodore stood in the dimmed corridors. Rain had began to fall as Theodore felt like lashing out to the next person that came around the corner. He wanted to go back inside Filch's office to traumatise the hell out of him. He seriously wanted to see some blood from the caretaker.
'Filthy Squib tries to threaten me and thinks he can get away it? He doesn't even know what he- what am I thinking? I can't do anything to him, I'd get expelled just like that. And I haven't even found the Chamber of Secrets yet.'
What if you had…
Theodore turned the other direction and walked all the way up to Gryffindor Tower. He couldn't shake off the feeling that he needed to spite Filch for what he did, even if it didn't seem like such a big deal. He was just so angry, and he couldn't really tell why. Thoughts that were enough to damn a boy to hell, ran through his brain on what do. Theodore even considered using the monster in the Chamber against Filch, but knew how risky and impossible that could be.
'But nobody would suspect me at all if they knew that the Chamber was opened. They'd think that it would've been someone from Slytherin instead. No, I can't do that. I won't do that.'
Theodore spoke the password to the Fat Lady and walked straight through the portrait hole, feeling drowsy by the warmth of the room. Most of the entire Gryffindor House were sat everywhere, talking and laughing while some were being quite boisterous, namely Fred and George. Theodore tried to stealthily walk into the dorm but was caught by Neville who cheerily greeted him. Not wanting to be held up and rude at the same time, Theodore quickly said 'Hi' and ran straight to the spiral staircase to change out of his sweaty uniform. His shoes were going to need a good clean before tomorrow came around.
After changing into his clothes, Theodore fed Viripin who was a lot more friendlier these days. Just like when they first met, the Maibian Adder would often sleep on his bed and would coil around him whenever he would come into the dorm. Theodore was mostly distant these days and the snake started to feel lonely whenever he wouldn't stay for long.
"You look angry."
"Don't want to talk about it."
"Was it Snape? Or Draco?"
"I just said, I'm not going to talk about it, Viripin. So leave it!" Theodore sighed then waited for a moment. Viripin didn't deserve to be shouted at. She didn't do a single thing that was wrong. "I'm sorry. It's Filch, the caretaker. I don't know why but I wanted to rip him into shreds. I hate him so much. He… I just hate him."
"Maybe you should take your mind off it by writing a letter to Louise. You're always calm after that."
"She still has replied to the one I sent last week. Maybe she's just busy enjoying her great life with the Reaguls. I don't blame her, I would've been the same." The snake thought for a while before suggesting another idea.
"You could go find yourself a girlfriend."
"What?! I-I don't need a… girlfriend! I don't even like anyone here like that!" Theodore stammered as his cheeks suddenly became a bit rosy. Every time Viripin, or anyone for that matter, brought up anything to do with girls, the boy would turn into a pile of bricks.
"Well it was only a suggestion. If you don't like it, leave it. I'm going back to sleep. Goodnight," hissed the snake as she slithered into her new basket that Theodore conjured a few days ago.
"Goodnight, Viripin." He watched her tail disappear underneath his bed and sighed again. Anger still bubbled inside of him as he wanted to purge it from his system. And the only way he could do that was by getting back at Filch.
Seek me… seek me…
Theodore turned to his pillow and flipped it over. He forgot that he left the diary underneath there for the past three days. He picked it up and flicked through to see if there were any hidden words within the pages that decided to reveal themselves. Not a single one appeared. A faded memory of him taking the book to the Chamber of Secrets flickered in his mind.
"As if the legendary Chamber of Secrets was underneath a girls' bathroom. I must be losing my mind."
The next few days came and went as Theodore unknowingly started to reserve himself from the others, day by day. Some days he didn't feel like following them to Hagrid's Hut or some days, he'd decide to stay in the library for its quietness. Trying to think inside a common room full of fireworks was a juxtaposition in itself. Halloween was just only a week away and Theodore wished it could've gone faster. His partnership with Draco irked him greatly as he would see Snape smirk in the corner, the Chamber of Secrets was nowhere to be seen and Filch had reported Theodore to McGonagall, feeding her filthy lies from his filthy mouth. The boy's hatred turned into suppressed bloodlust, somehow needing to see the Squib beg for death right in front of him. He even questioned why he suddenly felt this way but those thoughts were eventually snuffed and forgotten.
Theodore was sat in the library with Neville sitting across from him, helping the pure-blooded boy with his Potions work. Neville was in a dire need for help, too noticeable for even Theodore to simply ignore. The boy took it upon himself to help Neville only, all the way up to Christmas so that Snape wouldn't have a reason to fail him at the end of the school year.
"What's that in your hand, Theo? Is that a diary?"
"Yeah…" Theodore said as he flicked through the book, back and forth, entranced like a moth drawn to a light.
"Is it yours?"
"No, Neville. It's not mine. It was my dad's. He must've had this since he was at Hogwarts, though I have no idea why it's empty. There's literally nothing written here." Theodore showed Neville the blank pages, before flicking frantically through again.
"Well you might as well keep it for your own. I think it's cool that you have something from your dad." Neville suddenly looked sad for a moment before returning to his books. Theodore didn't know much but what he did know was that Neville lived with his grandmother instead of his parents. He had no clue if they were dead or not but Theodore was certain that there was a tragedy behind the clumsy boy.
"I guess so. For a second, I almost thought that this thing was… awake," muttered Theodore as he reached for his quill. He dipped it in ink and turned to the first page of the empty diary.
'Saturday, 24th of October,' scribbled the boy. 'Could not find the Chamber of Secrets, contemplating on whether to abort the mission." Theodore jokingly wrote down.
"What did you write down?" Neville asked curiously.
"Oh nothing. Just one of my greatest failures. This way I can easily remember when I couldn't find- huh?" Unexpectedly, a mind-stopping occurrence had just happened before Theodore's eyes as he couldn't believe what he had just witnessed. Neville stared at the perplexed boy, wondering if asking what had happened was the best idea. Theodore then snapped the diary shut and stuffed all of his things inside of his bag while attempting to leave the area at once.
"Theo! What about the work, I can't do it on my own!" Neville cried out. Theodore hurriedly walked off. What had just happened needed to be out of sight from everybody else.
"I'm sorry Neville! I'll help you tonight, I promise! I'll- ow!" Theodore yelped as he felt his nose cave in at the sudden impact. The person that he had just crashed into also winced in pain as they staggered over to the side, holding their face firmly. "How blind are you that you can't see- Hermione! I'm so sorry, are you hurt?!"
"I'm… okay. Gosh Theo, you have such a thick skull! Ouch…" Theodore felt his insides squeeze tightly at the sight of a pink spot forming on the girl's forehead. "Why were you just running around anyways? This is a library, you know."
"I was going to go up to the common room to do some things." Theodore said as he helped Hermione to pick up her dropped belongings. A lot of sheets from Snape and McGonagall alike, it looked like Hermione was going to have one of her hardcore study sessions. Theodore used to do that as well until the Chamber came crashing in his life.
"Well be careful. You could really hurt someone, running like that. Ouch… I'm fine, Theo. There's no need to worry about- what's this?" Hermione had Tom Riddle's diary in her hand as she read the golden words on the front. "Tom Marvolo Riddle. Is this your- hey!" Theodore swiped the diary from her hands swiftly and tucked it inside of his green and black jumper.
"That's nothing of great importance. Absolutely irrelevant. So what are you doing here," asked Theodore rapidly. Hermione took some time to answer then shook her bushy mane to go along with the sudden change of the subject.
"I'm going to do a bit of homework, but I also came to see you. We almost forgot to tell you about Nick. He's having a 'deathday' party on Halloween. He asked Harry to come first and of course he said yes, but Ron and I are coming along as well. You're coming as well, right?" Theodore was walking backwards slowly to the door while narrowly avoiding the tables.
"I'll see if I can make it. And that's an 'if', not a 'yes'."
"Neville is down near the third aisle, he needs some help, so byeee," said Theodore as he briskly left the library to run all the way back into an empty Gryffindor Tower. Once there, he flung his bag onto the sofa and dropped straight down to take out the diary. He drew out his ink and quill and placed all three on the table.
'It's alright Theo… the diary of your dead father only wrote back to you like it was alive, nothing to worry about… it's only magic…'
The young heir slowly opened the diary to the first page and gawked at the empty sheet. Heart pounding loudly in his chest, fingers slippery and loose, Theodore grabbed the quill and dipped it into the ink once again. Hesitating to lower the quill, he found the urge to press down against the paper and scribbled away.
'Who are you?' His stylish handwriting dried up upon touching the page, and remained like so for three seconds until it happened again. The diary absorbed his written words like a sponge, returning to its blank state before something resurfaced. A handwritten message that was not from his own hand.
'My name is Tom Riddle. May I ask of yours?" Tom Riddle. The diary had just called itself after his father. His dead father. Theodore couldn't help but to scrawl again, the second the words disappeared.
'My name is Theodore Riddle.'
'Riddle? Like me?'
'Yes. I think, no, I am your son. I'm in Hogwarts right now!'
'I am amazed. To think that my own child has found my diary! It's nice to meet you, Theodore!'
Theodore exhaled loudly out of his mouth as his blood was pumping with excitement. He didn't understand what this was, or how this diary came to be, but he was talking with his father. The boy could feel his chest almost about to burst from the excessive breathing. He calmed his nerves and wrote back.
'I have so many questions.'
'As do I, Theodore. Being inside of a diary for nearly fifty years does tend to keep someone slightly behind on things.'
'I hope you don't mind if I ask first.'
'Not in the slightest.' Questions were flying around in Theodore's head like the winged keys from the previous year. He plucked the closest one and wrote it down as neatly as possible.
'How did you do this?'
'The diary? I simply preserved a memory of myself from my time at Hogwarts, inside the diary. It's much harder than it looks, but I have no doubt that my bloodline is incapable of performing such a task.' Theodore could see that Tom was a prideful person, just like he thought. Like father, like son, right?
'So, you're really around my age?'
'Yes, sixteen years old.'
'Amazing.' Theodore thought for some more until he rallied up another question. 'It is true that you are the Heir of Slytherin, right? You can speak Parseltongue, like me.'
'You know that I am the Heir of Slytherin? When? How?'
'I found out last year with a bit of looking around.'
'How old are you now?'
'I applaud you, Theodore. I did not find out our noble heritage until later on. You are truly remarkable.'
'So, because you are the Heir of Slytherin, you must know about the Chamber of Secrets. Do you know anything about it?'
'I can tell you where it is.' He hit the jackpot. Theodore tapped his fingers against the wooden table, completely thrilled at his sudden luck. He couldn't turn back now, not when the entrance of the Chamber was only a few flicks of a quill away. The warm sensation had returned again. It felt all too entrancing, sending him into a slight daze before a wave of Gryffindors flooded into the room, alerting Theodore to quickly hide the diary. Ron and Harry followed Hermione to his position as she returned to her usual bossy self. At least her forehead was free from any red marks.
"You are not going anywhere, Riddle. You stay right where you are." Theodore mockingly put his hands up, pretending to act submissive.
"Wasn't going anywhere in the first place, Ron. What's the problem?" Hermione had her hands on her hips as she stuck out her lower lip pronouncedly.
"Why aren't you coming to the deathday party? It's for Nick's deathday, we have to go!" Harry exclaimed.
"I thought that only you were supposed to go. Isn't Ron and Hermione tagging along? Also, we can't go even if we wanted to. You can't miss the Halloween feast." Hermione turned to Harry quickly as she furrowed her eyebrows.
"I told you, Harry! You should've thought about that before saying yes to going. We could get into serious trouble!"
"But you promised to come with me. I can't stay around ghosts only for hours, alone. Come one, Hermione."
"I'll won't go if Theodore doesn't." Hermione decided. "It's all of us, or you and Ron."
"I'm definitely not going. Filch will probably catch us." 'And he won't even see it coming.'
Harry had used almost all of his strength to convince the stubborn girl which turned out successful, but was unable to shake Theodore. Harry had never seen a boy so stubborn, not even Dudley. Three out of four felt much better than the entire set, and they agreed to skip the Halloween feast for the party. Theodore's ounce of regret for not joining the three was forgotten during the final week leading to Halloween. Every night, Theodore would write in his father's diary, communicating with him at every given opportunity before he would go sleep. Tom was an interesting boy, to say the least. Achieving multiple awards and praise from many of the teachers, Theodore saw a lot of his father within himself. Striving to collect and to utilise, Tom and his son were simply the same person in different eras. The blood of Slytherin was potent within the two. The younger Riddle learned extensively from the elder one about what it meant to be of such purity, even if one could argue that Theodore was probably 'purer' than his father. No matter. Somebody who truly understood what it felt like to be him, to live in his shoes and to see everything from his eyes. Oh, how he longed for this.
Four o'clock in the Halloween afternoon, and Theodore was inside of the Great Hall. Although decorated to the brim with barrel-sized carved pumpkins, live bats that flapped in the air and the new feature of sideways 'blood' on the walls, Theodore had no intentions of attending the feast at all. After everything that he had learnt during the past week from his father's diary, the young heir was more than prepared and motivated to finding the Chamber. Not asking for too much information as that would ruin the thrill of the search, Theodore only asked for the location of the entrance. Something familiar crossed his mind upon knowing this like he was already aware of it. He was almost certain that he had checked there before, once or twice.
"We're still going to the deathday party," said Hermione, opposite to where he was sitting. The two and a few other Gryffindors were spread along the elongated table, giving everyone much more elbow space than usual. "It's not too late to come along."
"I'm fine." Theodore replied as he looked back to the Great Hall doors. Filch briefly appeared in between the doorways before slinking off again with Mrs Norris trailing behind him. Theodore smiled evilly, then he shifted back into a neutral expression. "Whatever I'll do today will be worth missing it. Completely."
"And that would be?" Theodore tapped the side of his nose. Hermione watched the boy hum to himself as he stared up into the starry ceiling. Call her ridiculous, but Hermione had been one hundred percent, on the dot, sure that Theodore never hummed to himself so… cheerily. The handsome boy looked like he found enlightenment of the highest sort but kept it to himself. She didn't show it but Hermione cared a lot more for Theodore than she had let on. Hermione could never forget the night from last year, when the four of them had a detention in the Forbidden Forest. When they had faced the hooded figure that was really You Know Who in disguise. When the figure started to speak in that snake language, only to hear Theodore hiss back. After that day, she could never stop thinking about him. He was hiding something from her, she knew it.
"I worry about you sometimes, Theo."
"I don't really see you that often now. You're always somewhere else, or going up to bed really early. I just worry, you know?"
"You don't have to be," said Theodore softly, "I've never felt better." Hermione saw him show his gorgeous smile, but that smile was not his. This… wasn't Theodore. The boy brought out a gold pocket watch from the inside of his robes and checked it briefly before standing up. "Have fun at the party. Wish Nick 'Happy Deathday' for me, yeah?"
Theodore swaggered to the Great Hall doors and eventually vanished from Hermione's line of sight. He turned to his right and made his way slowly to his desired destination. Up a few stairs, along wide and thin corridors, and around the sharp corners. The abandoned second floor bathroom. Theodore looked all around for any leering eyes, then swiftly slipped in through the doors. The bathroom was still the same, dirty and soiled except for the central sinks. The hidden entrance to the Chamber of Secrets. He had left the diary inside of his suitcase so that he would write everything to Tom the second he'd get back, but still kept his wand by his side. You never know what could be down there.
As he faced the mirror 'towering above the snake tap', he quickly whipped his body around. A wail of sadness and gloom emanated from the cubicles down in the diversion. Probably just a pathetic girl crying about being teased, maybe even Ginny. Theodore ignored this and turned to the supposed tap that would lead him down to the Chamber. A tip from the diary was to 'always remember your tongue', and the Parselmouth knew exactly what it had meant.
"Open," hissed the boy. Something unhinged as the sinks shifted and moved. Rotation after rotation, the sinks parted while the sink with the snake tap lowered under the ground. Déjà vu zipped across Theodore's mind, appearing then disappearing in an instant. A large pipe leading into a dark abyss was revealed underneath sinks. Theodore kept his urges of shouting out wildly to himself as he didn't want to give himself away to whoever was inside of the cubicle. The rest was now up to Theodore. "A girls' bathroom. How so oddly genius."
"Who's there?" A sickly voice from the cubicles called out to Theodore as he instinctively jumped inside of the pipe, the afternoon light from the bathroom fading until he could see nothing. Twist, turn, faster and faster. Theodore could feel the rush of sliding down the pipe deep into his bones as he madly loved it. He was crazy for it. He didn't know why he ever hated going so fast. The invigoration, the electrifying sensation of his nerves burning with excitement, Theodore felt like a whole new person. The pipe carried on further below the school until it came to a sudden end. Like he had already experienced this before, Theodore landed on his feet perfectly without thinking about it. He tidied his hair a little as he grinned a little too happily.
"I hope that there's a way up," said Theodore to himself. He looked up the pipe and saw that it was impossible to climb up with hands and feet alone. "Oh well. Tom said that it would be easy to leave, if I looked hard enough." The water-saturated air was cool against his skin and refreshed him from the pipe-sliding. From where he was standing, a little light had hit some spots of his surroundings, but were not bright enough to walk through without stopping every second to check for potential stalagmites. Theodore brandished his wand and held it up in air, high above his head.
"Lumos!" A bright white ball of light formed on the tip of his wand, banishing the darkness from every crevasse. This was all second nature to him. Theodore walked through the tunnel further down the damp cave, ignoring the dripping water and slime to prepare himself for the 'monster' of Salazar Slytherin. Another thing that Theodore decided that he'd find out for himself.
'It must be a serpent. Why wouldn't it be? 'A beast of terrible nature, that only his heir can control'. Of course it's because we can speak Parseltongue, but what about other Parselmouths? Is the monster immune to them as well? And what type of beast is-'
A horrible crunch came from underneath the boy's shoes as he lowered his wand to the ground. A graveyard, full of rat and other animal bones, littered all over the place. Theodore panned over them then carried on forwards. The Chamber was near, he could feel it. Wand still beaming with light, Theodore walked faster and faster till the very end. He stopped to marvel at the magnificent circular door, covered in multiple blankets of fly-infested cobwebs but still holding a brilliant steel gleam. A single large, emerald snake was tightly curled in the centre of the door with its head planted inside a winding trail that led around the door.
'Breath… breath… I'm here.'
The snake clicked, then snapped out from its fixed position, perfectly slithering along the trails that circled round and around. Theodore watched it slide along the door so smoothly until the door creaked open. The cobwebs were ripped apart as the Chamber's final door had welcomed its new heir. Theodore clambered through the door, splashing straight into a puddle on the solid stone ground beneath him. The green hue entered his eyes, infecting every single thing there was inside, including the boy's pale skin. Pillars sculpted into silver snakes bared open their large fangs, reaching to the top of the seemingly endless ceiling as their bodies were sunken in water. Theodore didn't recognise the viciousness that had started to broth inside of him nor did he give it any notice. All he wanted was to see a filthy Squib and his cat, lifeless by his hand. Theodore's eyes slowly turned red as the wicked smile that was not of his own, tainted his face.
"Come on, darling. I've got a nice smelly fish waiting for us. Cooked it me self this time." After scraping away all the pumpkin bombs off the walls, Argus had deserved his break. Cleaning up an entire castle after hoards of multiple vile children, not to mention Peeves, would naturally break down an old man like Argus himself. Had he not thought of a retirement plan all those years ago, he was sure to have submitted to the lingering presence of death hanging by his corner.
Argus and Mrs Norris were eager to lay in their comfortable seclusion to enjoy themselves, hence why Argus was carrying the ruffled cat in his grubby little hands. Mrs Norris purred affectionately as Argus traced a finger from between her eyes to behind her ears. His dear cat was the only thing that kept him from losing his mind tenfold inside the child-infested castle. He wouldn't know what he'd do without her.
Setting the cat on the floor, the old caretaker searched his pockets for the key to his office, already catching the waft of the piping hot haddock that he had left wrapped inside a metal container.
"You smell that? Cor, I can't wait to dig right in!" Argus finally found the right key and twisted the lock. He threw his stained grey jacket on a spare nail as he walked over to the prepared haddock that was laid upon his desk before grabbing his mirror. He 'fixed' his stringy greasy hair while checking his golden-yellow teeth. "Alright, Mrs Norris. I'll take first crack at it, then you'll- Mrs Norris?" No purr or meow called back as the office had only one occupant. Argus looked over to the ajar door, waiting for his beloved cat to stroll right inside. Nothing. Argus frustratingly grabbed his jacket and left the room without locking it.
Mrs Norris was poised like a tiger, facing something from around the corner. Argus looked dumbfounded by the cat's sudden erratic behaviour and called her back into his office. Mrs Norris ignored her owner's attempts to bring her back and bounded away, out of sight. Argus immediately ran after her, wheezing loudly after ten seconds of running while suffering from a stabbing stitch in his left side. His cat zipped from corner to corner, running up two floors as she left the caretaker in the dust. Argus painfully staggered up the staircase, crawling along the second floor corridors.
"Mrs… Norris," panted the old man, " you're gonna… give me… a right… heart attack." Mrs Norris silently lapped water from a leak in the abandoned girl's bathroom. The door was slightly open, allowing some exposure of the inside. Argus slowly picked up some of his energy back, giving him just enough strength to walk over to the large puddle. "What are you doing? Running off like that when it's dinner time. And stop drinking that! It's not clean, darling." The caretaker grabbed the cat into his arms but she struggled greatly, breaking away from his grasp and sprinting off again. Argus had absolutely nothing inside of him, all of his energy spent on the cat's attempt to having some fun. As he used his hands to support his sides, he bent over to the leakage and splashed it with his hand. "Stupid Myrtle, always flooding the damn toilets. Can't be keeping up with this shit. They need to go. Every single fucking ghost, especially Peeves!"
Argus was then intrigued by the shapes and colours that had suddenly appeared in the puddle. The entire corridor consisted of browns and stone grey but what was shown in the water was of vivid emerald green. Lots of it. Curious, the naïve caretaker leaned in closer into the hazy contortions of the water, waiting for it become to still. The green figure slowly became refined as Argus could see how slender it had gotten. Something big, thick and… snakelike. He gazed at its glistening green hide, its flat broad head and those great dirty yellow-
The last thing he saw was those yellow eyes. He didn't see the young dark haired boy that glared from beside the creature, grinning devilishly at the sight of him. He had no clue who he was. A petrified piece of 'living' flesh, was all that he was and nothing more.
"Enemies of the Heir… beware…"
Well then, this just got 'interesting'. I'm not going to say anymore. Love it, hate it, I hope that this chapter kept you reading. Look out for the next one. Later.
John Lanford: well when you put it that way... lol