"Oh. My. God."
Hermione stood behind Harry, disturbed by what she was witnessing. She had never seen anything more terrifying in her life before, not the hooded figure; Fluffy. Gasps of shocking revulsion were contained, afraid that whatever had done this would crawl out from the corner and snatch all three of them. Hermione didn't say a word as she stood with her two friends, mouth covered and eyes quivering by the ghastly sight.
"Guys," said Ron through his cracking vocal chords, "tell me that's not… Filch."
"I-it is him." Harry stuttered as he too, was afraid. His circular rimmed glasses constantly slipped off his sweaty nose, forcing a finger to push them back up at every descent.
"He isn't dead, is he?" Hermione turned her head from seeing any more. She couldn't refrain herself from feeling queasy. Her throat began to burn and corrode from the sensation of her stomach pumping its acid back up.
"I think he is. Should… should we do something?"
"Please!" Hermione shouted through the fingers that covered her face. Harry looked at the agitated red head and slowly stepped over to Filch. Laying inside of a large puddle caused by a leakage from the closed off bathroom was the bitter caretaker, his body stiff and stuck in a single position. It looked like he was crouching down with his hand firmly outstretched but had toppled over. It reminded Harry of a mannequin that had been kicked and left alone, only so much more lifelike and visually disturbing. The scar-bearing boy noticed Filch's face expressing so much fear that it dug into Harry. He had no clue as to who or what had done this but he was sure as hell not going to stick around. He pulled on Ron's shirt to tell him that they should go to Dumbledore but instead ran to a distressed Hermione.
"What?! Did you see something?" Hermione raised an unsteady finger and pointed to the wall in the adjacent corridor. Harry spun around and read every single word that had been branded roughly with blood-red fire. 'THE CHAMBER HAS BEEN REOPENED, FOR IT IS THE RETURN OF THE HEIR!'
"What 'Chamber'? What 'Heir'? What the fuck is going on here?! Filch is dead a-and there's this-this message and-" Ron stated hysterically. Harry held Ron and Hermione both, and shook them by the arms to bring them back down. Ron eased his breathing as Hermione removed her hand from her mouth. She still looked completely terrified.
"Get a grip, the both of you! Let's just go to Dumbledore. He'll know what to do. I hope so." Harry didn't sound so sure. Ron wiped his sweaty cheeks and nodded calmly. No point losing his mind, he wasn't ready to go to St. Mungo's at all.
"We should leave then, right now. We don't want to-"
Standing from a distance away from the supposed corpse, was Lavender. She was the first of many to spot the body as several other students flooded in from either side, crashing against the ground like a senseless platoon. Lavender's scream attracted everybody else's attention as they tended to the shocked girl, later to be mortified by who was laying in the puddle. Nobody spoke a single word, not even Draco who looked unbothered by Filch's still body. The boy did not care for non-magical blood, especially Squibs.
"You killed Filch." Ernie spoke out from the front row of the silent crowd.
"We didn't," snapped Ron. "He was already lying on the floor when we got here! We don't know what happened to him."
"Say that to my face, Ernie. I dare you." Ernie gritted his teeth as he remained in his spot. Murmurs brushed along the observing crowd as they looked upon the trio with disdain. Harry could've sworn that he heard 'Mudblood' spring from one corner but it was too faint to tell. The three just looked at each other, clueless on what do next. If they weren't careful then it could turn out to be the second part of the entire school treating them like foulest of tramps who had somehow found a way inside of the castle. They felt their hearts skip when Dumbledore glided in with grace. Multiple other teachers, including McGonagall, followed the old man as they too were appalled by what they saw.
"So what's the problem? I'm sure that I can fix it with a- oh my." Lockhart strolled along as the last teacher on the scene and almost posed heroically until he saw Filch. His glittering smile disappeared, as did the colour in his face. "Is that…"
"Yes," said the headmaster, "it is Argus."
"What happened to him, Albus?" McGonagall asked anxiously, tightening her grip on her robes.
"We'll find out soon enough. In the meantime, I suggest everyone returns to their dorms immediately. Except for Mr Potter, Miss Granger and Mr Weasley. Come this way." Everybody parted as they carried on hissing about what happened. The trio followed Dumbledore, who was levitating Filch with his finger, Snape and Professor McGonagall to Lockhart's office. Hermione wanted to know if Theodore was among the crowd but put him out of her mind as they finally arrived. Everyone, except Lockhart, ignored the clutter of the moving portraits of Lockhart himself, and cleared his desk to allow Filch to lay upon. After several minutes of inspection and prodding from the old man, everyone tensed up to hear the final confirmation of the caretaker's condition.
"Alas, Argus is not dead." The trio sighed quietly as did McGonagall but Snape simply twitched his lower lip.
"But he's frozen… he can't move. How is this possible?" Hermione asked gently. She stuck close to Harry and Ron.
"Petrified, I'm sure of it. But the real question is how. Nothing or no one in the castle, is capable of performing this feat, unless…" Dumbledore stroked his silver beard slowly, until something odd blazed within his eyes, only for half a second. Fear. Harry narrowly noticed this as he watched the old man shake his head and return to his usual self. He thought that a brilliant man such as Dumbledore was incapable of fear. He guessed that no matter how brilliant the man may have been, he was still just a man. Didn't mean that it wasn't odd at all.
"Albus. The message that was burnt into the walls. It said that the 'Chamber' had been reopened. The 'heir' has returned! Could this be…" McGonagall whispered fearfully. Dumbledore was silent, then resumed the conversation at a similar volume.
"Yes. I… I have my suspicions but… yes."
"I'm sure that Potter and his friends are somehow involved in this… attack. But if I may, the reason for the three being absent from the feast has yet to be revealed. Please, go ahead. 'Harry'." Snape muttered. Harry's innards felt sticky with darkness as he burned his eyes into Snape's pale skull. He had no reason to explain himself to the shady professor, but for the sake of not being expelled, Harry truthfully recalled everything. "Hmph."
"Albus, I think that it's time for the children to go to their dorms."
"That would be best. You are excused, dear children. And Miss Granger? Please tell Theodore to come see me right after breakfast tomorrow. It is quite urgent that you tell him."
"Yes, Professor. Of course!" Hermione replied through the doorway. The three children left the office as the four adults began to speak deeper into the subject.
"Severus, Pomona has prepared some Mandrakes within the greenhouse for teaching purposes. I'm trusting you to create the restorative as quickly as possible." Dumbledore instructed.
"Yes, headmaster. I'll make sure to get right on it as soon as possible."
"You sure you don't want a helping hand, Severus? I've been known to cook up hundreds of the restorative with just a-" Snape held out an open palm to the babbling professor and snapped it shut to stop Lockhart from talking any further. Lockhart blinked multiple times and stepped backwards. "I'll be going to my quarters now. Feel free to use the office as long as you like, but not too long, eh?" Snape excused himself as well, leaving the office to the heads of the school. Dumbledore was lost in thought while McGonagall stared at him, waiting for anything to come out of his mouth.
"Do not look so sad, Minerva. Argus will be fine, you'll see."
"And what if it happens again, Albus? Then what?"
'It can't be… not you… not you, dear boy…"
The diary was fitted comfortably inside of his bag as Theodore sat contently within the Great Hall. The air was filled with rumours about what had exactly happened. Some were inaccurate, some absolutely far-fetched and others not too far off. Many people had created 'concrete' theories, causing Theodore to break down in laughter on the inside. Granted that he was not completely happy as he failed to do 'real damage' on the Squib, the Parselmouth settled for his current results as Filch was just as good as dead. At least, until the Mandrakes were ready. He knew that the second Filch would open his eyes upon returning, he'd scurry off, never to be seen again. Theodore quite liked that idea, although Tom still favoured the original objective to kill Filch. The younger Riddle secretly knew that he had let his anger get the better judgment of him but nonetheless, ignored it. Filch wasn't around and he felt amazing. Even Mrs Norris was nowhere to be seen.
"Theo, do you have a second?" Hermione turned over to face the boy, life slightly drained from her cheeks. Theodore gave her a smile but she didn't return it.
"Depends on what it is."
"Could you come with me to the library? I need your help with something."
"Please, just come?" Theodore simply shrugged and took his bag. Hermione took this as a yes and did the same with her things. Over the past few days, Theodore was clueless to the two people that had watchful eyes on him, namely Hermione and Dumbledore. Every time he'd do something outside of his normal mannerisms, his watchers would take mental notes and would set it upon the side for later usage. The Muggle-born remained close, but at a reasonable distance, using her current knowledge about the boy to seek out the sudden barrier that he had installed. She was fully aware that Theodore was a Parselmouth, a term that she had picked up from a little reading. The headmaster would ask the boy's teachers to observe him carefully, reporting to him anything that looked out of the ordinary; anything that looked rather off. The extremity of these tasks was important to the two, as they feared that Theodore was somehow, involved in the attack. They were yearning for their suspicions to be proved wrong in the end.
The walk to the library was awkwardly silent and felt dragging to Hermione. Theodore seemed to be taking his time with his mind occupied on something else as Hermione was on the verge of yelling 'HURRY UP' to the boy. She clung onto her patience and walked side by side with the happy boy, constantly moving her hair away from her face. Better to make small talk along the way, no matter how unnecessary it felt to the both of them.
"How's Viripin doing?" Hermione asked 'curiously'.
"She's alright. Doesn't really come out of her basket these days."
"Maybe you could introduce me to her. You both look like you have a… 'special' bond." Theodore looked confused by the emphasis on the word 'special'. Wasn't it an ordinary thing for wizards and witches to be attached to their pets? Disregarding the fact that he was the Heir of Slytherin, disregarding even being a wizard, having a snake as a companion was not worthy of raising eyebrows. But, Theodore ignored this.
"I guess we do." Theodore and Hermione entered the moderately full library and managed to find a small two-seated table that was far away from the crowded ones. Hermione went deep within an aisle to begin her search while Theodore brought out the diary. He squinted through the aisle to make sure that Hermione was not able to sneak up on him, as well as anybody else. Nobody could know about this, Hermione especially. He brought out his quill and wrote again, inside of the living diary.
'The entire school are still talking about Filch.'
'Good. You must build up the tension among the castle before piercing everyone with fear.'
'How do I do that?'
'Kill a Mudblood.' Theodore stopped writing. Kill a Muggle-born? Like an actual Muggle-born, who was in this school? The idea was… something. He only intended to use the Basilisk for Filch alone, not to carry out his ancestor's wishes. Even so, the thought of killing another person made Theodore feel timid, afraid if you will. When he struck down Quirrell, a pain beyond physicality tore inside of him, making him feel a bit unstable. Would it happen again, maybe even more overwhelming the second time? Theodore didn't want to find out.
'I don't know if I can.'
'It'll be easy. You must be vigilant around the castle or otherwise-'
"Theo, I'm back." Theodore snapped the diary shut and shoved it inside of his robes. Hermione stood over him with a stack of books, still looking unflustered and blank by the boy's clumsiness. "Okay… here. I wanted you to help me look for something that's been on my mind for a while."
"Is it an assignment?" Hermione brushed her hair behind her ears as she opened the highest book in the pile.
"No. It's about the…" Hermione leaned in closer and whispered so softly, "Chamber of Secrets."
"Nothing," said the Parselmouth calmly. "Just nothing." Theodore grabbed a book and stuck his nose inside, ignoring Hermione's glares. He couldn't pinpoint it but something foul began to stir in his head. Paranoia, maybe? Hermione shouldn't have any idea that he opened the Chamber or that he was the Heir of Slytherin. She was smart, logical and nosy but Theodore could easily misdirect her given just enough time. Not even a single hair had been left behind to deduce that it was him all along. Theodore relaxed and quietly read through a passage about the Founders and their unique symbols. Absolutely nothing to worry about.
The two read in dead silence, one desperate to seek anything about the Chamber; the other desperate to talk with his father. Hermione would occasionally flick her eyes to Theodore, but would not say anything. Theodore felt that this was menial as he knew everything that there was to know. He had better things to do rather than revisit a 'myth' that he had already discovered. Soon, the bell for the next lesson rung in the library and the two children returned their books to leave for History of Magic, a subject that even the two smartest found dreadful.
The young Riddle walked alongside Hermione through the blackboard of the classroom, the only highlight that they would ever receive within the deathly subject. They both parted ways and sat in their seats on either side of the classroom, Hermione next to Harry and Theodore next to Lavender. An unfortunate and poor decision made on Theodore's part, the girl was more than overjoyed to sit next to him. Ten minutes in and the entire class were completely out of it. Everyone was either poking their wands with each other, staring straight through the dull teacher or just simply fell asleep. Even Theodore struggled to keep his head balanced while tilting Lavender away, who'd purposely lean towards him. He ignored it for the first few minutes but now she was doing too much. The girl swayed her head to the left then to Theodore's shoulder but was suddenly stuck in a single position with something holding her in place.
"For God's sake, stop! Stop pretending like you're tired!" Theodore said as he pushed Lavender away from him.
"I can't help it," said the girl 'sleepily', "if I'm tired. Binns is just so boring."
"Then lay your head on the table over there. I don't want your head anywhere near me, it's annoying!"
"Could you at least come closer so that we can talk about anything?"
"Mr Rhythm and Miss Blouse, please stop flirting in the corner over there and listen. Thank you." Professor Binns stated in a monotone.
"I wasn't… I didn't…" Stares came from every corner as Theodore returned each one. Seamus was giggling madly in his seat while Ron and Harry were smirking. Hermione for some reason, didn't turn around but Theodore took no notice of this. The boy left his sentence unfinished and slumped back into his chair. Lavender craved for more people to notice that two were 'together' and did her best to aggravate Theodore into disrupting the lesson again. First time was the charm as the Parselmouth ignored her and sunk into his thoughts. Tom's words had ventured into his worryingly shaky conscience and found permanent residence within. Was he actually deciding on whether to kill his fellow students, based on his ancestor's prejudicial ambitions? Was he, a boy trusted by Dumbledore, considering using the-
"…Chamber of Secrets." It was like everyone was drenched with sharply cold water. The entire class turned their heads around to find the person that had mentioned it. Theodore saw Hermione poised and upright, looking straight through Binns' silvery eyes. The boy swallowed carefully. Internal panic, bones beginning to shake, Theodore was nervous. He suspected paranoia was the cause of this. Like the rest of the class, Theodore listened to the professor and Hermione's conversation quietly.
"Miss Grumper, I cannot tell you what I know about that for this is the 'History' of Magic, not legends or myths. Now-"
"I'm sure that it must've originated from something that was real. Isn't it still history all in its own?" Hermione asked quickly.
"And as we all know, legends are based around actual events and cultures from the past."
"I know that but-"
"So seeing that it is true, aren't we-"
"Enough! If I must tell you the ridiculous legend of the supposed Chamber of Secrets, will you all focus for the rest of the lesson?" Everyone nodded their heads wildly as they locked eyes with the ghostly professor. Secretly peering from across the other side, Theodore saw Hermione preparing her quill and some parchment, ready to write whatever Binns had to offer. He immediately turned away when Lavender decided to block his vision by shaking her head in front of him. All, but Theodore, were eager, excited to listen to every single word. "This school was founded by the four most prominent wizards and witches of their time, Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw, Helga Hufflepuff and Salazar Slytherin. I will not go into such detail about them individually, but know that they all wanted children like them to thrive with their magical talents, away from Muggles. These were dark times for our community."
"So then what?"
"I'll get to it, Mr Thin-Thiggin. Peace had been balanced between the four until the divide started to form. It was believed that Salazar saw the school, only for those within wizarding families, pure-bloods if you will. Those born without magical blood, Muggle-borns, were seen as unworthy to him. He even felt contempt towards half-bloods as well. Soon enough, Salazar had left the castle after an argument among the other founders, never to return again."
"But what's the Chamber of Secrets?"
"I'll come to it, Mr Dongflottom! However, Salazar not only left his respective house behind but also his 'legacy'. Somewhere inside of the school, lies a hidden chamber, built by the defected founder himself for his direct heir alone. By using the Chamber, the Heir of Slytherin would cleanse the school of those who were unworthy to study magic. Those, in Salazar's eyes, were impure and… dirty." Theodore felt a sense of superiority that a legend so great and feared, had referred to him. He only wished that his story was as famous as Harry's, probably even more. How often was it that a founder's heir stumbled inside of Hogwarts? Not too often, wasn't it?
"But how? How would they do it?" Hermione asked curiously. She gripped the edge of the table tightly, waiting for the answer to escape from the professor's pale lips.
"A monster, my dear. A monster so terrible and fearsome, that we do not know of it. This monster would fall under the control of the Heir, and the Heir alone, used to commit the most atrocious acts, one couldn't possibly do on their own. Slytherin's Beast."
Theodore couldn't help but smile at everyone's reaction to the story. He inhaled slowly, intoxicating himself with the fear, excreted from his classmates. Lavender was trembling beside him as was Neville in his front. The disturbing unease that filled the room remained all the way until the end of the lesson, when everybody rushed straight through the blackboard. Theodore walked silently next to Ron, Harry and Hermione, listening to their take on his heritage. And he wasn't particularly happy.
"Batshit crazy! Fucking crazy! Who the hell would make him a teacher in this school? Hell, why does he even have a house here!?"
"Well it's not like he really did anything," retaliated Theodore in the most passive tone he could find. "The Chamber of Secrets is probably fake and Slytherin left. Not that big of a deal."
"Not that big of a deal? Hello, Theo! He wanted his own family to kill Muggle-borns. Children, may I add. He's a fucking psychopath and you know it." Ron said harshly.
"Maybe he was just being cautious. There were a lot of witch hunts back then so I could see why he felt like that. He may have wanted what was best."
"I can't believe you're defending him."
"I'm not! I'm just… ahh, forget it. You wouldn't understand." Hermione pushed forward a little further to slow the boys down. It seemed that she had something to say about all of this.
"You know that he was pure-blood supremacist? He went so far as to use a terrible catalyst to kill Muggle-borns, for the supposed superior race. I don't know about you but this sounds awfully familiar."
"Did you just compare Salazar Slytherin with Adolf Hitler?" Hermione confirmed Theodore's question with a nod and carried on walking. An inferno was raging inside of Theodore as he pressed on, silent once more.
'How dare she scale that filthy Muggle to the great Slytherin?! Salazar was a noble man, a man who cared for his people and sought to protect them. He only wanted to persecute those who were born from the enemy. I'm disgusted!"
Theodore was sulking menacingly as they walked around the castle, waiting for dinner to start soon. He couldn't shake the uncomfortable feeling when he was around Hermione. It was like something running inside of his blood urged the boy to… He couldn't describe it but he was feeling something towards the Muggle-born; he could sense that it was far from anything good. Theodore kept quiet as they walked across the Entrance Hall and up the stairs to the second floor. The leak from the bathroom had not been cleared up and filled the entire front of the entrance. Ron, Harry and Hermione halted to read the eerie message that was unknowingly written by their best friend. Theodore didn't know how he did it but when he attempted to carve the words inside of the wall, fire that looked cursed spewed out, seemingly uncontrollable. His instincts saved him from burning himself alive as he somehow managed to control the fire. It etched within the wall and to this day, still burned bright as blood..
"We should… get going, guys. It wouldn't look good if you're caught here again." Theodore said nervously.
"Maybe we should take a look around. Wouldn't hurt would it?" Harry asked as he walked towards the bathroom. Theodore became stiff. They couldn't go inside there. Anywhere but there. Theodore zipped in front of Harry and barricaded the boy from moving further.
"Last year, you 'took a look around' and almost got yourself killed. A lesson that should've been learnt from then, Harry. Let's just go back and- Hermione! Where are you going?"
"In!" Hermione slipped through the doors and disappeared. Ron reluctantly followed and Harry weaved around his unknowningly cousin. The Parselmouth felt the perspiration form on his forehead, slightly sticking his hair together. The diary shook for a second in his bag but Theodore ignored it.
"Aren't you coming?" Harry called from inside. Theodore looked side to side in the corridor, then rushed in to the others. The bathroom looked even more filthy in the daytime, heavily emphasising the dirty sinks and mould that leeched on the walls. He eyed the hidden entrance, praying that none of the others would stay around it too long.
"Theodore, say hello to Myrtle." Theodore spun around and looked at the ghost girl that floated above their heads. Not very attractive, Myrtle was pimply-faced girl, sporting glasses similar to Harry's, a slightly hunched body and a faded uniform which had the desaturated Ravenclaw emblem on her robes. And of course, the ghost girl had her eyes fixated on new boy, gawping at him without a single care.
"Um, hello, Myrtle. I'm Theodore."
"Hiii, Theo! Can I call you Theo?" Theodore felt a painful lump in his throat.
"Sure…" Myrtle swung closer to him, bringing her pale face to his own. Theodore could see the pimples in much more detail as a few had been clawed at and bursted. Even if she was a ghost, the boy was not comfortable by the minimal space between them.
"Hmmm… have I seen you before? You look awfully familiar?"
"Theodore is quite the ladies man. He's probably been in and out of here, snogging the lot of them."
"Shut up, Ron," hissed Theodore. Ron snorted and turned to Harry. The two were whispering about something but he couldn't decipher anything useful. He almost didn't notice Hermione brush up against his arm, shaking her hair underneath his chin. She looked like she was in a fouler mood than before.
"I forgot to ask you. Did you see anything on that night? Anything at all?" Hermione whispered.
"Other than Mrs Norris running across the courtyard, I did not see a thing." Hermione looked like she didn't believe him. The Parselmouth couldn't deal with this anymore. Theodore didn't want to resort to this but if it was a must, so be it. Theodore turned to face her directly and held her shoulders. He brought their faces so close that Hermione could see his hazel iris' wobble as the pupil expanded. The girl's face rapidly changed its hue, her blood rushing through her cheeks and forehead. She never got this close to Theodore, well not for so long. The intake of air was too much through her nose as she slightly wheezed through her mouth. He looked even more perfect up close. Truly an angel, who hid something terrible from her.
"Hermione, what's wrong? Ever since this morning, you've… I don't know, looked angry with me." Hermione looked down to his chest to stop looking at his face any longer. He was toying with her and she knew it. But the girl couldn't help herself from slowly getting caught within his web. She was taking the bait and she couldn't stop, even if she tried.
"I-I'm not a-angry with you. Just… worried. I told you that, didn't I?"
"Look at me, Hermione. Does it look like I'm in any sort of trouble?" Hermione lifted her chin to look him in the eyes. They screamed terror, destruction and latent bloodlust but all that she could see was the genuine sincerity and truthfulness that the boy falsely depicted. Falling victim to his charm, Hermione perked up and sighed. Her cheeks were still pink but she didn't mind at all. Theodore was far from any sort of trouble and was in no way connected to Filch's attack. She couldn't believe that she was on the verge of suspecting him. How foolish of her.
"No, of course not. How silly of me. You've been away for so long and rarely talk now, that I thought… I'm just glad that you're okay." Hermione replied through a smile. Theodore released her from his hold and relaxed. Hermione was the only other student that could've posed a threat to his secret and now that she was dealt with, Theodore needn't worry about her. Myrtle suddenly began to wail violently and dove straight into a cubicle with loud sobs following behind her. The four decided that their stay was overstretched and that it was time to leave.
"Wasn't she helpful?"
"Oh hush, Theo."
"He pisses me right off! I can't believe him!" Ron spat fiercely, his face burning right up. The brief encounter with Percy had left the red headed boy sore as he was stuck in a bad mood, all the way until the common room later that night. The quartet were huddled around a circular table, completing their Charms homework at the same time discussing who could've been the culprit. As expected from the intelligent boy, Theodore had already formulated an entire plan, devoted to his 'innocence'. Hermione was friendly again but he could not afford to give himself away. No, it was better to steer the others onto somebody else. It was the only way and Theodore knew who'd exactly fit in his ploy.
"Don't worry about him, we should be focusing on who opened the Chamber of Secrets." Harry said quietly as he flicked through his parchment sheets.
"Harry's right. We need to find out who this 'Heir of Slytherin' really is. Question is who would do such a thing? Attack a Squib and threaten the Muggle-borns at Hogwarts." Hermione added.
"I've got a pretty good idea." Everyone turned to Theodore, waiting to hear who he suspected. The Parselmouth cleared his throat before speaking. "It has to be none other, than Draco Malfoy." Hermione looked slightly confused but Harry and Ron swallowed it whole. Theodore didn't expect to convince them this quickly. "What do you think?"
"I think that I'm an idiot for not noticing it sooner. How could I not see that?!" Ron gasped.
"Malfoy as the Heir of Slytherin makes perfect sense," explained Harry as he put his quill aside. "Malfoy hates Muggle-borns and probably Squibs alike. Even his dad seems like the type to hate Muggle-borns as well. Maybe it's a family thing, where they hand the key down, father to son." Hermione rubbed her chin while Theodore sat back, rapturous. The sheer amount of satisfaction was indescribable.
"It… does seem plausible, given how he acts around school. But how would we know for sure? It's not like we can just waltz right inside Slytherin Common Room at anytime. We need to think this through, properly." Hermione said. Theodore suddenly stood up and walked to the dorm staircase without saying a word. "Somebody's jumpy. Where are you going?"
"I'll be back, watch." Theodore called from behind him. 'Just as I planned.'
Theodore quickly rushed to his suitcase and emptied out its contents neatly to search what he was looking for. He had to thank his curiosity, the day he went through Knockturn Alley the first time as there probably wouldn't have been any other way. As Theodore continued looking for what he wanted, Viripin slunk slowly to his leg and brushed her head against the boy she missed for so long.
"Not now, Viripin. I'm doing something."
"I haven't seen you all-"
"I said not now!"
"Oh…" Heartbroken, the Maibian Adder sadly slithered back into her basket, unable to cry to her distant friend. Theodore felt regret that didn't last long at all, and resumed searching. At last, he retrieved the object of interest and plucked it from the suitcase. This was all too smooth to be true. He ran to the doorway and stopped briefly as he looked behind his shoulder. He hardened his heart and returned to his three friends who were clueless by the boy's doings. Dropping what he had taken from upstairs onto the table, he stood proudly above them.
"'Moste Potente Potions'? What the hell does a Potions book have to do with proving if Malfoy is the Heir of Slytherin?"
"Well, Ronald, this book can-"
"The Polyjuice Potion!" Hermione cried. Theodore put his finger to his lips as the other Gryffindors gave them a few stares. He sat back down in his seat and leaned in closer to whisper to them. It was crucial that nobody knew of this plan.
"So you know about the Polyjuice Potion. Excellent. Then you'll know what I'm getting at here."
"It's… brilliant! If we do this without any problems, then we could- oh wait. We'll be breaking a lot of school rules…"
"We don't want the same thing to happen like last year. This is extremely risky, if not extremely dangerous, Theo." Hermione whispered.
"Then it's a risk worth taking. What if Malfoy really is the Heir of Slytherin and he attacks half of the Muggle-borns before the end of the school year?" Theodore replied with false intent. This girl was almost as stubborn as he was.
"He's right Hermione. None of us want you to be killed because we didn't take the risk," said Harry firmly. "I'm all for it, as soon as you explain to me what the hell is Polyjuice Potion." Theodore and Hermione briefly explained to Harry and Ron the properties and usage of the Potion, as well as the brewing time.
"One month? Are you sure?" Ron exclaimed while he took the book in his hands.
"One month it is. We just have to hold on until it's finished."
"Alright. So where are you going to brew it, Theo? Snape isn't going to let you do it in his office."
"I'm not going to brew it," said the young heir as he turned to Hermione. "We are." Hermione nodded firmly as Theodore felt something diabolical poke in his chest. Oh, he was too good at this.
After everyone had went to sleep, Theodore laid awake up until the proper moment, where he would go downstairs to write to his father. He'd certainly praise him for his natural cunning amongst his friends. It was only a matter of time before the Basilisk needed to be unleashed again. As for now, everything was going at their proper pace. Theodore carried the diary and his writing equipment to the common room and walked over to the table in front of the fire. He sat comfortably and dipped the quill inside of his ink bottle, then scribbled away, unaware that his eyes returned to their unnatural shade of red.
The Quidditch match was far less important at the current matters at hand, for Theodore decided to skip the game; talk to his father inside of the library. Most of the school were away on the fields, giving the Parselmouth nothing to worry about if anyone managed to catch him out. Just him and his father's diary, all alone in the library.
'Do you plan on starting the potion now? If we are to avoid any suspicion then you must act at once.'
'I have it all under control. I've convinced somebody else to help me with the potion, making sure that it will be ready soon.'
'Good. I am proud of your tactical nature, Theodore. Truly, you are my own son.'
'I'm sure that it must've been easy for you. You were, are a brilliant person.'
'There was this one dirty half-breed, who I shifted the accusations on when I opened the Chamber myself. Foolish Dippet was too decrepit to see through me. I should've been more careful when I killed that Mudblood.'
'You killed a Muggle-born?' Theodore's hand was trembling along the pages as the ink from his quill spurted out a stream of black liquid. It was all soaked up and reused for his father's next message. A message which seemed quite haunting to the twelve year old.
'It's what I was destined to do, no? I would've slaughtered the filthy lot when I had the chance but I was only successful in the one. You however, are capable of the greatest massacre within the wizarding world! Our ancestor would be proud, if you do as I say.'
'And that is?'
'You know, Theodore.'
'I will try my best.'
'That is all that I ask of you, son. There is no pain in doing the right thing. Forget any feelings towards any of your friends who hold impurity in their blood. Shut your hearts off, to those that do not comply by Salazar Slytherin's wishes! Finish off, what Slytherin and I, had intended for you, your one true purpose in your life.'
Theodore closed his eyes, feeling something crawl up through his neck and spine, something… hateful. Every breath of air fuelled this feeling as he could not rid himself of it. This hatred for the lesser kind felt natural to him, like it was burned into his genes. Those Muggle-borns, those filthy Mudbloods. He didn't feel any regret thinking that. A word that he hated to his very deep core, suddenly came out like it was nothing. He ran it over in his mind, unaware that he was letting something destructive take over him like a parasite. It was overwhelming, exciting, euphoric. He lived for this, all of this. And nobody could tell him different.
'I will not dishonour Salazar Slytherin, for it will be me to cleanse this school. It will be… me.' He thought to himself. The diary emitted it's alluring warmth once more until a single word emerged from the first page.
Pacing quickly down to the dungeons, the new Heir of Slytherin gripped the diary tightly, inspired by his father's words. Everything was coming together now. No hesitation, no compassion, no mercy. Mudbloods and Squibs, all were underneath him, he was the heir. And it was time to proclaim his heritage by the death of a Mudblood.
Theodore reached the Potions classroom and pressed his palm against the door. The door recognised him as the owner's apprentice and swung wide open for the boy to do as he pleased. He opened up the Potions Professor's locked cupboard with a simple Unlocking Charm and emptied out all the things that he needed for the Polyjuice Potion. He could already see how it would all turn out. Fifteen Mudbloods dead at least, Malfoy blamed for the entire thing and Theodore would get away with it by the end of the year. And there were still more years to come. Who knew how high the count could be by the time he'd leave?
Everything had been accounted for and was safely stored in the boy's bag, all sealed in protective clear bags. He exited the room and made his way to the second floor, finally ready. He was more than ready, he was bloodthirsty. It was just like when he almost killed Filch, only it felt so much more forceful. Maybe this was how he was, a hatred for Muggle blood present, ever since he was born. The rain pattered on coloured windows of the corridors, firing like bullets. Theodore felt at peace listening to the echoes of the rain, only for it to be disturbed again. Running through the hallways were the rest of the Gryffindor second years. Hermione and Ron were the first to reach Theodore, absolutely soaked and smelling of rainwater. Theodore was livid inside due to the hinderance of his next attack, but displayed a false front of concern.
"You guys look terrible. Why is everybody going mad?" Theodore asked as Hermione squeezed her fuzzy hair.
"It's Harry! He was hit by this Bludger that only came after him and Lockhart messed his arm up, really badly and now he's going to the hospital wing and- oh just come along!" Hermione grabbed onto Theodore's right arm and pulled him up to see if Harry was okay. The Parselmouth oddly didn't feel any disgust when the girl clenched onto him tightly, briefly, just briefly, feeling content with seeing her. How odd.
The Gryffindor second years converged the equally drenched Gryffindor team and all spilled into the hospital wing, circling around the scar-bearing boy. Everyone barraged Harry with questions on his condition, praise on his victory and a whole lot of other nonsense. Theodore wanted to slip away to return to the Chamber but Hermione still held a firm grip to his wrist.
"So his arm is broken," said Theodore as he tried to get a look at Harry, "doesn't mean that we all have to… my god. What in the name…?" Harry's arm looked like a poorly made prop used by a fake magician. The way it bent and juddered when Harry would turn his body looked gruesome to Theodore. "Are… you okay?"
"Oh I'm fine, just great. It's not like I have any bones or anything that's BROKEN." Harry sarcastically remarked as he stared at Hermione.
"I have no bones in my arm, Theo! Do you know how it feels to have no bones? It's all because of that blonde haired prick!" Harry shouted.
"Yes! I mean, no. Well-" Theodore turned to Ron as they both nodded at each other. Of course it was Lockhart. Everyone filled Theodore in on what had happened and asked him where he was during all of this. He simply responded with the usual 'I don't even like Quidditch so why should I watch', earning a few jeers from the twins. He ignored this and remained with the rest of his House members until they were kicked out by Madam Pomfrey. They all returned to the common room to dry themselves off and to soon, go to bed. Theodore was leading Ron on with useless chatter as they waited for Hermione to say goodnight.
"So do you think that Malfoy had anything to do with the Bludger?" Ron asked as he picked a scab off his middle finger.
"Possibly. Maybe he's trying to mess with our heads by scaring us. Remember, Hermione is a target for him, if he really is the Heir of Slytherin."
"Who's the target for the Heir of Slytherin?" Hermione walked down the girl stairway with her hair fixed into two frizzy bunches on either side of her head. They still looked relatively damp but otherwise held a lot less water than earlier on.
"Theo was just saying how Malfoy could be coming after you, you know, since he does kinda hates us."
"Well, the sooner we make the Polyjuice Potion, the better," said Hermione as she flicked a stray strand off her eyelash. "The real problem is getting the ingredients. I might be able to look where Snape keeps his things but it will be difficult…"
"No need. Look at what I've gotten." Theodore pulled out his bag from the first step of the boys' dorm staircase and opened it up to reveal everything that he had stolen from Snape's cupboard. Hermione immediately dove her head inside, rummaging through each ingredient, studying them so carefully.
"Lacewing flies… fluxweed, specifically picked in a full moon… and shredded Boomslang skin? Theo, did you steal all of this?" The boy nodded without regret as he watched Hermione look impressed and disappointed at the same time. "So this is why you weren't at the match. You knew that Snape wouldn't be in the castle so you went down into his cupboard to take everything we needed. Amazing! A disgusting amount of rules broken, but still amazing."
"You little deceiver, you. I like that, Riddle." Ron commended as he patted Theodore's back.
"You guys have no idea…"
Ron left the two alone as he said goodnight, yawning noisily while he ascended the steps. Hermione looked through Theodore's bag again, amped on the excitement of the rule-breaking.
"We need to find a place to brew this. I was thinking the abandoned bathroom as-"
"No! Anywhere but there!" Hermione raised her eyebrows and put her hands on her hips.
"Why not? It's the perfect hiding place to do it. What, is it Myrtle?" Realising that he was beginning to crack under pressure, Theodore rubbed his arm and nodded slowly. Hermione giggled while she covered her mouth. It was the Parselmouth's turn to raise his eyebrow as he asked her what was so funny about it. "Well, it's just that… nothing."
"Shouldn't you be used to all of this attention by now?"
"What attention…" Hermione rolled her eyes and walked to the staircase.
"Someday, I hope that you'll see how truly crazy, girls are over you. Goodnight, Theo!" Theodore only blinked then saw that he was alone in the common room. His task was still at hand as a Muggle-born needed to die tonight. A Muggle-born, just like Hermione. Hermione…
The light-absent castle fell asleep while one of its students rose. To be more specific, said student left his House Tower and walked through the hallways without being detected. He made sure that his footsteps left no echo rebounding against the walls. He wouldn't know what to do by then. Hopping and ducking into every shadow in a corner, every pillar that hid him from plain sight, Theodore made it to the second floor, confident that nobody had seen him. He peered around the corner and saw that the bathroom was unguarded. Dumbledore was ignorant to not put up any defences. Smiling deviously, the boy entered to retrieve his Basilisk, his next victim lying around the halls as he descended down the Chamber of Secrets.
Thirty minutes later…
The Serpent of Slytherin slid through the tight pipes that it had been absent from for nearly fifty years. It flicked its forked tongue, sensing her master's movements from the other side of the wall. She heard him hiss and command her, informing her that a Mudblood would die tonight. She was a simple creature, therefore she simply obeyed the boy, ready to serve the new Heir at his whims.
"I smell it… it comes to us… let me rip it…"
"Then come to me, serpent." Theodore said in Parseltongue. He closed his eyes as he felt the Basilisk heave through the walls, travelling upwards. The snake exited through a pipe hole above Theodore, slowly coiling her massive frame around her master. Her urge to kill a Mudblood hadn't been quenched ever since she killed the other in the bathroom. She had been sleeping for all this time. She needed to see blood. "Wait… I can hear someone. Wait here…"
Theodore crept along the corridor walls, closing in on his prey. Wonder and maliciousness filled his brain as he conjured a horrid image of a body, petrified to its absolute limit that it seizes up and falters. Blood for eyes and blackness for a heart, the boy pressed onwards, ready to pounce on whoever was there, and it sure came to him as a surprise.
"What the hell… Collin?" The timid boy spun around on his heels and nervously looked at the older boy. He was in his pyjamas but still had his camera hung around his neck. From what Theodore could tell, the younger boy was going in the direction of the hospital wing, probably to irritate Harry even more with unwanted photos. 'He is young… and so… annoying. You'll owe me a favour by tonight, Harry. I can guarantee it.' Theodore edged forwards to Colin, careful to not take larger steps, in case he scared the boy off. He didn't want to set the Basilisk on him through a pursuit. He want to see him drop in front of him, like a rag doll.
"A-are you going t-to see Harry too?"
"Yes," lied the Parselmouth calmly, "I came for Harry. Did you hear about what happened today?" Colin nodded, still obviously scared by Theodore's intimidation.
"I was there… I though that I could get a few pictures in but… maybe that's not a good idea."
"Go ahead! Fine by me! I'm sure that Harry will love to see somebody supporting him during the night, especially you."
"B-but… I thought that he doesn't really want me around," said the Muggle-born sadly. Theodore gave the impression that he cared for Colin, easily manipulating the boy with every word that he said.
"Colin, you need to understand how stressful it is to have a life like Harry's. After everything he's been through, don't you think that he wants to get away from all of that? Maybe you should treat him like a friend instead of a celebrity. Harry would want it this way, I'm sure of it!"
"D-do you think so," squeaked the younger boy excitedly. "Harry wants to be… my friend?" Theodore nodded as he walked closer through Colin's futile barrier of protection. He had caught the little Mudblood in his web. Now, it was time to devour him. "Okay! I'll go to him right now!"
"Before you do that, could you take a photo of me? I wanted to make a 'Get Well' card for Harry. It's going to have all of our photos inside."
"Okay! Okay! Let me just get ready! Takes time, you know. The camera."
"Take all the time that you need… 'Colin'." Colin foolishly fiddled with his camera, unaware that the elder boy's eyes were gleaming with red, channeling his newfound hatred for the Muggle-born's kind.
"Almost got it… let me just… alright! Okay, Theo. I'll count to three and you'll say 'cheese'. You ready?" Colin brought his camera to his eyes and aimed it at Theodore. He thought that the eyes were a trick of the moonlight shining through the stain-glassed windows. Foolish, foolish boy. "Okay! One, two, three…"
"Purge." Theodore hissed in Parseltongue. Through his camera lens was a massive figure, looming above Theodore in the shadows. Colin thought this too, was a trick of the light. Other than the slightly creepy noises that Theodore made with his mouth, the gullible and naïve first year clicked his camera, illuminating the entire hallway in front of him. He saw it entirely, full in detail and blatant terror. A grand snake poised its head above Theodore as the boy smiled wickedly, eyes still red. In that split second of the reflecting white light, Colin was drawn to its yellow eyes, his body suddenly shuddering violently in pain, unable to scream and cry out for help. He suffered in constant agony while all that Theodore could see, was a carcass no less than the filthiest animal…
Colin slumped to the ground, earning a bout of frustration from Theodore. The snake didn't kill the boy, just like Filch. He quickly commanded her to ravage at his body with her teeth, not caring if blood stained the floors. Blood needed to be shed tonight, he promised his father.
"Shit, oh shit! Go! Return to the Chamber at once!" Theodore hissed. The Basilisk obligated instantly and slinked away rapidly out of sight and into the pipe hole that she left from. Theodore sprinted away as he saw candlelights approach him from his left, along with a familiar whimsical mumble. Dumbledore. He dashed across the Entrance Hall and up the stairs, all the way until Gryffindor Tower. He bounded up the stairs and jumped straight under his sheets, breathing erratically with excitement and pleasure. He may have not killed anyone yet, but when everyone would find out what happened, Slytherin's name will be feared from every single corner of the castle, everyone will know… Slytherin's Heir has truly returned…
"I can't believe it. A Muggle-born was really attacked yesterday night," said Hermione nervously as she started a magical fire within a drained toilet cubicle. Ron and Hermione outvoted Theodore into using the second floor bathroom as a hiding place for the Polyjuice Potion. Theodore's heart rate sped up every time the other two would collect water from the central sinks, and did his best to not show it. All that mattered now, was the brewing process so that he'd be able to use the Basilisk more freely. It would come, all in good time.
"I mean this in the least offensive way possible, but what was Colin doing out in the middle of the night?" Ron asked as he poured some water into Theodore's old cauldron that was above the fire.
"Maybe to take photos of Harry in the hospital wing. He should've been in bed like everyone else." Theodore said. He opened the potion book and flicked to the Polyjuice Potion section, carefully laying it on top of the toilet for him and Hermione to see. "It is unfortunate though. He's only just a first year."
"Right? I'd be terrified to return here! I don't think anyone has seen anything so horrifying."
"Well, I did see Voldemort's face to- ow! Ron!" Theodore rubbed his arm and then turned to Hermione. "I'm sure that there's nothing to worry about, Hermione. We'll find out who's behind all of this, I swear."
"I know we will. We're 'practically invincible', right?" The girl replied with a smile. Theodore nodded and stirred the incomplete potion after dropping fluxweed and knotgrass inside of it. The first stage was almost done as they needed to wait for around one hour until they could resume. The three waited patiently, ignoring Myrtle's questions(or in Theodore's case, flirting), whispering about what beast they thought was inside the Chamber of Secrets. Ron, having surprisingly accurate intuition, stated that a large snake was the monster while Theodore tried to convince him that it was a murderous ghoul.
"I'm telling you, a giant filthy snake, slithering somewhere inside of the castle. It makes perfect sense!"
"Nonsense, Ron! If it was a giant snake then how comes nobody seen it before?" Ron rolled his eyes at the Parselmouth and firmly stuck to his theory. If the red headed boy was so intuitive about the monster being the snake that it really was, could he see through Theodore's act? It was not likely, but he had to remain watchful towards Ron. Another possible deterrence to his plans. Ron firmly stated that he needed to use the toilet and entered the cubicle next theirs, only to be sent to the boy's one by Hermione and Myrtle. As he grudgingly left the bathroom, Theodore was all alone with Hermione, both slightly embarrassed by Myrtle's presence above them. The ghost girl teased the two children while they turned their heads, wishing for her to vanish immediately.
"You are both so adorable together! Oh how I wished I had a secret love as handsome as Theo! I'm so jealous!" Myrtle squealed happily.
"I'm not- we're not in love…" Theodore grumbled as he opened the bags of lacewing flies and leeches. Hermione had her head turned away the entire time and was hidden underneath her hair. Theodore was right, the ghost girl was a nuisance. Myrtle continued to coo until she floated away, feeling unpleasantly happy.
"Are you going to stay for Christmas, Hermione?" Hermione nodded her head slightly. They didn't say a word to each other out of sheer awkwardness and were especially glad to see Ron slip back inside, albeit the fright that he had given to them.
"You should've seen Neville's Green Toe Ring! It's nasty but so wicked! And- what's gotten to the both of you? And why are your cheeks red, Hermione?"
"Ron, shut it."
"Theodore! Come in, dear boy." Theodore walked across the Headmaster's Office, not wanting to spend a single wasted second with the old man. Tom had told him all about Dumbledore when he was at Hogwarts; how he was unable to open it once more due to the close eyes of then Transfiguration Professor. No doubt would Dumbledore suspect Theodore opening the Chamber, just like his father had done. Theodore just needed to keep away from the old man for the remaining time that he had left. He wasn't leaving Hogwarts without a single Mudblood dead.
"Hello, son. Sorry for calling you up during your lesson although from what I've heard from your fellow students, Professor Binns is not the most excitable fellow around." Theodore forced a smile and leaned backwards in his chair. Dumbledore tilted his head slightly at the boy's sudden comfort. Theodore never leaned back in his chair so casually when he was in the office. "I've noticed that your faithful owl hasn't flown out for a while. A perfect view of the owlery, right from that window. Spectacular, really."
"Don't really have anyone to talk to beside my friend, and she's on a tour around the world. Sawer will be fine with the other owls, anyways." Dumbledore focused on the boy's eyes that masked something sinister and terrible. Something that Dumbledore had seen so long ago from another, by the name of Riddle. His plan was failing.
"Theodore, I've been thinking about your Christmas arrangements and would highly recommend that you return to Stuggle's, for Madam Gretchen's sake. She does-"
"You know of the attacks, Theodore. I've seen them before a long time ago and I think-"
"I'm hardly in any danger, Professor. The supposed 'Heir of Slytherin' wouldn't come after me." Theodore said as he cut the old man off again. Dumbledore narrowed his blue eyes through his spectacles and pierced into Theodore's. The Parselmouth felt intimidated by the sudden shift of expression and threw his smile away. Dumbledore was starting to see through him and he was just let him.
"Is there… anything you'd like to tell me, Theodore?"
A very faint red pigment flashed in the boy's eyes. Theodore's tainted heart felt pleasure in the headmaster's uncertainty, secretly trying to pierce in his own when it was his turn to be foolish, for Dumbledore had seen everything.
"No… nothing at all… Professor."
Now what exactly is happening to the little fella known as Theodore Riddle? Is it the diary spewing evilness inside of him or is it simply drawing out the darkness that is already present inside of the boy? And why the hell hasn't Myrtle recognised Theodore going through the bathroom? Find out on the next episode of POA, along with this shitty DBZ… thing! Later.
beowolfalein: thank you. That was the first chapter that I needed to use notes and bullet points before writing it, since I literally write everything off the top of my head lol
johnjohn1970: respect. Love that you loved it :)