I wanted to apologise for what I said earlier in the year. It was uncalled for. Even if we're in different Houses and we talk to different people, I hope that we can be friends again. Also, Happy Birthday.
The card was sticking out of the blonde boy's pocket when he was found by a first year in the toilets, along with Ron and Nott. It was slightly crumpled, damp on the corners but otherwise in perfect condition. Theodore opened and closed it in his hands, reading over Draco's words again and again until it became perfect within his memory. All he wanted to do was to give the boy a card with an apology inside, but even then that couldn't happen. Draco was petrified inside the hospital wing with the news of the attack sure to spread within hours upon the next morning. Hell, Mr Malfoy would probably cause an absolute thunderstorm by the time the news would get to him. It was only a matter of time. But right now, Theodore was sitting in the total darkness underneath his bedsheets with the tip of his wand extruding a single ball of light, reviewing the latest attack from the 'Heir of Slytherin'.
'Whoever opened the Chamber of Secrets could be in any House right now. It could literally be anyone… it's that fucking diary, I know it.'
Something poked Theodore on his temple gently, prompting the boy to extinguish the light and throw his bedsheets off his head to barely make out the scar-bearing boy. Theodore could tell that Harry was just as disturbed from the recent news of Ron's attack. Knowing his cousin, he probably wanted someone to talk to and the someone now happened to be Theodore.
"You woke up?" Harry whispered as he sat near the end of Theodore's bed. Theodore swivelled himself around to sit on the edge of his bed as well while he whispered back.
"Never went to sleep. Were you up all this time?"
"Do you have a minute, Theo? Downstairs?"
"Yeah. Of course, Harry." The cousins placed a temporary hold on their conversation as they both exited the silent dorm room to the main part of Gryffindor Tower. The light from the fire faded when it reached the far ends of the common room, barely illuminating the tables and shelves back there. The boys took their usual place in front of the fireplace and seated themselves on the sofa. It felt a lot more rigid for some reason. Harry wasn't wearing his glasses but didn't squint at the fireplace for there was nothing to see. At least for him. Theodore was completely locked, not wavering until Harry spoke up, rather gravelly.
"Do you know what happened?"
"What? Of course I know what happened! What kind of question is that?"
"I mean, do you really know what happened? Like what really happened to Ron." This wasn't happening again. If he was accusing him of using the Basilisk to attack his own friend then that was an entirely different problem on its own. Theodore pressed his bare feet against the carpet as he stared to feel tense, even angry.
"If you think that I did it…"
"You're one of the last people who I would suspect right now, Theo. I know that you didn't do it." Theodore relaxed, feeling foolish that he ever thought that Harry would be against him after their reconciliation. "Thing is, we don't know who it could be. Literally anyone else, not just a Slytherin. Someone else in this castle knows where the Chamber of Secrets is."
"But it would be impossible to know who," argued Theodore. "So far, only one person knows the entrance to…" Theodore kept silent.
"Should we wake up Hermione?" Theodore asked.
"This is all my fault."
"It's not your fault, Theo. You weren't the one who put Ron in the hospital wing."
"It might as well been me. If it wasn't for me… if I had just thrown away that diary when I had the chance, none of this would've happened. Hogwarts is going to get closed down and it's all because of me." Theodore lamented. How could he have fallen for his father's tricks and charm, to follow through a massacre of Muggle-borns, all for a lost cause? The fact that he willingly allowed his father to take over him without resistance made Theodore hate himself even more.
"It wasn't your… Look. I can't imagine what that diary did to you. When you were trapped inside, I thought that you were dead. I really did. But you escaped. Not only from the inside but from the whole diary itself. Yeah. It made you do things that wasn't in your nature and it was taking over you for so long. But despite everything, despite Ron and everyone else in the hospital wing, you broke free because you were stronger. You are stronger. You can't beat yourself up when it was never really you. Not when Ron is petrified and the attacker is hiding in the castle. Don't do this to yourself, Theodore."
The Heir listened to Harry's words so carefully, taking in every grain of the genuineness that Harry had to offer for the boy. In actuality, it was them who saved Theodore from the diary. Every precious moment that he ever experienced, held Tom at bay from assimilating the younger Riddle until his mother delivered the final blow. Valerie Potter, the woman who he wished could be by his side to hold him forever, saved him. What was a boy without his mother to hold him in his darkest time? A shell encasing a monster buried deep within? Theodore couldn't forgive himself for any of this. Not until he knew for certain that the diary was just ash inside of the fireplace.
"The diary. My dad was inside of the diary, or at least a memory of him. That's the reason why I was so obsessed with it. I was speaking to my own father. He felt so real, like he was really there and I believed that. Every word that surfaced onto the pages drew me closer to him, making me listen to everything that he wanted to tell me. I poured all that I had into the diary because at that moment, Tom Riddle meant everything to me. I thought that he cared for me but… I was so wrong."
"Harry, if you saw the things that he did… if you knew who he really was, you'd hate me forever." Theodore said with a shaky voice.
"I could never hate you."
"But you will. My dad… was beyond horrific. H-he used me to open the Chamber of Secrets like he did all those years ago, a-and he was going to make me kill Hermione! Just like when he k-killed Myrtle in the bathroom! He killed an innocent girl in the bathroom, Harry! He made me do all of those things and... and…" Theodore was panicking as he couldn't keep his composure any further.
"That was your dad, not you," said the Boy Who Lived as he held Theodore by the shoulder gently. The Heir closed his eyes as he rubbed the bridge of his nose. Theodore didn't destroy the diary. Tom had moved on from his own son to possess another, consumed with the dead ideals of their dead ancestor and because of that, Ron was attacked. All because of 'him'.
Theodore stood up rather slowly to announce that he was worn out from talking about the subject and it was true. Leaving Harry in the common room, Theodore entered his bed and brought the sheets up to his neck to fall asleep immediately. Even if he kept himself locked away in the Tower, he knew that his father would find him. No matter where he'd escape to, or where he would hide, no boy could ever run away from his own father.
"Dumbledore's leaving?! Why? Why?!"
Theodore couldn't believe what he was hearing from McGonagall. He has been awake for barely forty minutes and this was the first thing that he heard. The Headmaster, no, Dumbledore, no, the most powerful wizard alive was being taken away when the school needed him the most. Who the hell was even responsible for this?! Theodore was determined to know who.
"Calm down, Mr Riddle! I too, am plagued by these news but as of now, I can't do anything to change Professor Dumbledore's current predicament. We'll just have to continue as normal."
"Continue as normal," exclaimed the Parselmouth as he 'fixed' his choking tie. "Professor! There's an attacker in the castle and nobody knows who it is! How can we-" Hermione elbowed Theodore in his ribs to stop him from testing the deputy headmaster's patience. Theodore was desperate to know the truth about Dumbledore's leave of absence but McGonagall had shut him down at every attempt.
"The business between the Ministry and the Headmaster remains with them and not with you."
"Not another word! Now, you get ready for lessons and be done with this!" McGonagall snapped. She turned away from the now dispersing Gryffindors, and swiftly left the common room without a sound. The boy trudged over to the armrest and sprawled backwards with a defeated mentality. His replacement attacker had already three victims to secretly gloat about as they walked along the corridors, unsuspected. With Dumbledore gone, every single Muggle-born, him and Harry would be in absolute peril from Tom. Now, there was nothing and nobody able to prevent the inevitable massacre that was intended for the Heir of Slytherin. There would be so much innocent blood seeping through the castle's floors that Hogwarts would be closed forever. He'd have to go back to the ordinary Muggle schools, back to Stuggle's, back to being… normal. He didn't want that. He didn't want to be normal. Magic, Hogwarts, all of it. Taken away because of his father. Because of him.
"This is terrible," said Hermione as she sat on the far end of the sofa. "If he's really gone then we won't stand a chance. I'll probably won't make it to the end of the week." Theodore snapped upright and swivelled his body around to face the fearful girl. He couldn't explain what he was feeling at that moment but that didn't matter. What mattered was how a girl like Hermione could think like this. So… defeated.
"Don't say that. You're not going to die, Hermione." Theodore stated firmly. Hermione couldn't take Theodore's doubtlessness to heart as fear was being pumped into her in excessive amounts. "Hermione…"
"I have a… have a…" Hermione turned to her friend who was tentative to say what was on his mind. She waited for the boy to say something when the bell struck their ears to alert them for breakfast. Theodore didn't say anything and grabbed his bag near the dorm steps. His brief life in the wizarding world was going to be cut short until he'd catch the culprit. The new culprit, that is. If it meant that he'd have to obliterate all the newly instated rules just so that he could stay at Hogwarts, then he would grasp it without a percentage of uncertainty. The real problem was how. Tom managed to fool almost everyone for nearly fifty years by framing someone else as the opener of the Chamber. Theodore could barely misdirect his own friends for nearly half a year. But maybe there was a reason for that.
Theodore turned away from the stairway and walked back over to the portrait while he attempted to fix his tie once again. His hair was dishevelled from his distress and his uniform seemingly reflected that. Just as the last few Gryffindors, that were in front of him, left the common room, Theodore saw Harry and Hermione standing near the edge of the platform just outside, seemingly waiting for Theodore. After stumbling through the hole quite awkwardly, Theodore left with his two friends to the Great Hall for breakfast, still wondering on whether he should reveal the whole truth to the two.
"Guys?" Theodore said quietly as he swirled a spoon through his bowl of porridge. Hermione lifted her head from the opposite side as Harry turned his head from Theodore's left. Theodore waited for a short while before he spoke again. "I… I have to tell you guys something. About the diary, all of it." The other two leaned in, ready to hang on to every word. Theodore said that he would open up to them, but that seemed like a lifetime ago. Harry was willing to know more after their little talk while Hermione was eager to know the entire story. Both friends stared at the Heir, just waiting for him to let everything out. "The Cha-"
"Theo!" Neville came waddling over as his belt was slightly loose and free. Not in the mood to snap at the boy to leave him alone, Theodore simply asked what was the matter with him. "Professor Lockhart… wants you… up… there. Says he… needs to… talk… with… you." Neville panted. The boy slumped lazily next to Hermione who was annoyed that he made her spill her pumpkin juice over her Charms notes.
"What the fuck does he want now," hissed Theodore darkly as he got up from his seat. A credible nuisance Lockhart was, a credible wizard and man? That he wasn't. Theodore resented the way Lockhart paraded around the school like nothing happened. Filch would've been more 'heartbreaking' to see petrified than the pompous 'professor'. Theodore walked over to the teachers' table, face emotionless to contrast Lockhart's smile, and stood in front of the man with his arms crossed. If it was about that damn successor shit, Theodore was going to lose it.
"Good morning, Mr Riddle! How are you today?" Lockhart beamed brightly. Theodore was going to just remain silent for the entire conversation but he could feel McGonagall corroding him with her eyes alone against his skull. The boy lifted his chin slightly and replied, albeit in an uncaring tone.
"As am I, dear boy! As am I." Theodore raised an eyebrow at him and had to resist the urge of walking straight back to his friends. "So! I think you heard of my new proposition that has been under wraps for so long, no?"
'For fuck sakes…'
"No, I haven't. 'Professor'." Lockhart fumbled through his shimmering golden robes to produce a single letter from his pocket and handed it to Theodore. The boy took it in his hand as he read over it quickly, dumbfounded by how… dumb it was.
"Ahh, I see the excitement in your face! That's right, you can be featured in my newest book! I haven't got the title yet, but it'll come to me, I know it! Think this over and call me if you're onboard. This opportunity doesn't come twice in a lifetime, you know?" Theodore only looked unfazed by the ridiculousness of the current situation as he was counting down from ten to refrain himself from sticking the letter on the man's face. Permanently. The boy nodded and indicated that he pocketed the letter as he walked away. Upon returning to the table, he crushed it with his hand and threw it underneath.
"What did he say?" Harry asked with the slightest smirk that he could possibly manage. Theodore shook his head as he exhaled loudly through his nose. Hermione couldn't help but smirk as well from Theodore's annoyance but turned serious a second later.
"So? What was it that you were going to tell us?"
"When we're alone. Then I will tell you."
"I don't think that's possible. The teachers won't let us into any other room without their supervision."
"Don't worry," said Theodore as he chewed on a piece of cold, buttered toast. "I know a place where we can talk."
During their free period…
"Alright. I think we lost the both of them... For a man with such short legs, Flitwick is a quick one!" Theodore panted, gasping as he leaned against the inside part of the second-floor bathroom. Harry and Hermione were also sucking in as much air as they possibly could. If it wasn't for the Muggle-born going back for her dropped notes, then the three of them wouldn't have to be paranoid about seeing Snape or Flitwick bursting through the doors. Lucky for them, nobody else came in through this bathroom at all.
"Sorry. Exams are in a week and I haven't been studying like I used to." Hermione said as she fixed her collar.
"Just be careful next time. We don't want to be caught out of lesson or during anything else." Theodore regained his breath and walked over to the sinks to wash his sweat-drenched face. He set his bag on the floor and turned the tap to see no water. Realising that it was the tap with the snake engraved on it, Theodore stepped backwards and looked at himself in the mirror. Sheeny hair, a healthier skin complexion and no signs of his father's scarlet within his eyes. Only his mother's hazel. Seeing her through him made him almost forget that he was the Dark Lord's child. Almost. Theodore blinked as he saw a colour change in the mirror as Harry stood beside him. For a second, Harry could see something similar between the two of-
"Theo? You were going to tell us something, remember?" Theodore spun around on his heels and remembered the reason why he brought the two there. He was going to tell them everything. Everything… almost everything. Theodore threw off his robe on top of his bag and lifted up his jumper sleeves as he prepared to tell them the truth. Inhale, exhale, that was how it always went.
'You can do this, Theo. Don't be scared. They're your friends. Your best friends.'
"The diary belonged to my father. You both knew that already. I told Harry that it contained a memory of my dad when he was at Hogwarts and that all this time, he was speaking to me. Like he was really there…"
"And," added the girl. She could see him hesitating to carry on further.
"And… I fell for it. Speaking to my dad felt like… nobody else meant anything to me, except him. I felt like I found the one person in this world who finally and truly understood who I was. What I was capable of, and how I was to be marvelled upon the steps of Hogwarts and the world. And I believed every single word. I let Tom Riddle play and stab at my heart, change me, shape me into a being just as evil as him. I couldn't see past his charm and lies when I realised that they weren't… lies. Everything that he said to me was the truth but I was too blind. I let him manipulate me into opening the Chamber of Secrets and to attack Filch, Colin, Justin, Ernie, Luna and Nick. Whatever feeling of hatred and anger that I had, was just me succumbing more and more to his influence. And by the time I saw through him, there was barely enough of me left to fight back. He was killing me on the inside slowly and I couldn't do a thing."
"My dad was the one who opened the Chamber of Secrets fifty years ago. He was the one who killed the Muggle-born girl in this bathroom. A girl who hasn't left ever since…"
"Myrtle," uttered Harry.
"Yeah. Myrtle was that girl. He would've killed more if weren't for Dumbledore. Tom couldn't reopen the Chamber when Dumbledore kept an eye on him so he left a memory of his sixteen year old self inside of the diary, waiting for the next Heir to finish what he started."
"Do you think that he might've had other children?" Hermione asked after a dreadful silence. Theodore did think about that for a while but then rebuked the idea of him having a sibling in the school. Nobody looked remotely like him, save for Harry and he was his cousin. Theodore shook his head and ran his fingers through his hair backwards.
"What about the diary," asked Harry as he too removed his robe. "You still think that it's working? That somebody took it?"
"Well… yeah. You think I'm crazy, don't you?" The other two shook their heads and crossed their arms in thought. If the diary was powerful enough to resist being scorched for hours, then surely it couldn't be destroyed? At least, that easily.
"So how did you do it?" Harry asked.
"Open the Chamber?"
"The diary. How d'you break free from it?"
"It's complicated. Even I don't know what really happened. I just thought about my mum and I… escaped."
"Your mum?" Hermione asked, suddenly interested. Theodore never spoke about his mother solely, to the other three or even to her in detail. "What was her name?"
"Valerie Po- Patina. That was her name." Theodore said quickly. Now wasn't the best time to tell literally everything. If he was alive after all of this, then he'd tell Harry.
"Valerie… that's such a pretty name." Theodore looked down to the broken floor then turned to the central sinks to stare at himself again. Why was this so hard? To put so much faith into other people? Was he always like this or had Tom left the boy more broken than he thought? 'My father is Lord Voldemort…' That was all that he needed to say but he just couldn't.
"I have to find the newest attacker before they strike again. If they petrify, or even kill someone before they're caught, then it's the end of Hogwarts. I'll be sent back to Stuggle's and Harry will have to go back to the Dursleys. I won't ever see you guys again so I'm not going to let that happen. I'm going to catch them and hopefully, everything will go back to-"
"Stop." Hermione held out her hand to hush the boy. Theodore sighed as he knew that he'd meet resistance from her. He turned to face Hermione as he was about to argue with the girl but she cut him off once again. "There is no 'I', there is no 'you', okay? It's us. Since when have either of us done something dangerous alone?"
"Hermione, I'm talking about real life and death. I'm talking about saving your life over my own! I'm the only one here who knows where the Chamber is so it can only be me! Don't try and change my mind because I'm not letting you come with me. I refuse." Harry took a backseat by leaning against a cubicle stand, watching the two go back and forth like they usually did.
"Alright. Fine. Go and find the new attacker on your own. You're a smart guy, you'll be able to track them down soon. Just don't worry about me and Harry when we're looking for the Chamber ourselves."
"WHAT?!" The two boys shouted, clasping their hands over their mouths a second later. The bathroom door creaked a little but there was no sign of Snape butting his head through the door cracks. The two boys released their hands and closed in to whisper and hiss about Hermione's ridiculous plan.
"In case you haven't forgotten, the Chamber of Secrets was made solely for picking off Muggle-borns in the castle. You. Are. A Muggle-born." Harry said sternly. "Tell me why this is a good idea!"
"Because, Harry! Theodore has gone off on his own for far too long! I'm not going to stay up in the castle, waiting to hear that he's dead somewhere in the school without doing anything!"
"I'm right here, you know…" muttered Theodore. Hermione whipped her head to frown at Theodore, huffing so profusely.
"Then listen! Either we come with you or you leave us alone to finding the Chamber ourselves! We're not going to sit around, moping when you're off killing yourself, Theodore!" The girl hissed.
"But it has to be-"
"If I hear, 'It has to be me', one more time…" Theodore saw them build up just slightly so that they wouldn't cascade from her eyes to her feet. Even if she kept a dark expression upon her face, Theodore could see that she didn't want him to go off on his own. They almost lost him one time. Not ever again. Theodore knew that she cared for him, but not to the point where she'd almost shed tears for the boy. He honestly hated it when he'd see her cry, especially for him. His selfish attitude wasn't anything worth weeping over.
"He wanted me to kill you, Hermione."
"I don't care."
"I do…" Theodore couldn't believe what he was going to say. The three of them would surely die. "But… maybe I can't do it alone. For all I know, Tom could take over me and… What I'm saying is, I don't want you to come at all. Not you, not even Harry. But maybe I do need you guys." Theodore was going to regret this but… what the hell. His pride was stopping him from admitting that he was afraid to do it alone and that he desperately needed their help, but he didn't need to say any of that. They were his best friends, after all. They knew. Hermione softened her hardened face by showing mild happiness.
"Maybe?" She said as she cocked her head to the side, crossing her arms. Harry was raising an eyebrow, slightly smirking at the two. Theodore caught this but said nothing about that. The Heir looked away as he rubbed his elbow again. Tom was truly right about one thing, and it was that he had a soft spot for the Muggle-born. Sighing as he could no longer shift the immovable object that was the stubbornness of Hermione Granger, Theodore submitted.
"But you must do everything that I tell you! No questions or backtalk! Alright?" Harry and Hermione rolled their eyes but nodded. "Good! That's good…"
Seek me… Theodore…
The voice came from behind him as he retreated away from the sinks in horror. Sweat was starting to form on his pale skin, breathing becoming erratic as he heard his father's voice from the sinks. He rubbed his eyes roughly while Harry and Hermione watched him in worry and confusion.
'I said you can't have me, Tom. Not ever again. Never again…'
"Hey. Are you okay?"
"Yeah. Just got a little spooked by something, but I'm fine." Hermione gave him a look of doubt, forcing the boy to show her that he really was alright. "If you keep on staring at me like that, then you're not coming."
"What?!" Theodore sniggered as Hermione pouted her lip. "That's not funny!" The two almost forget that Harry was simply watching them bicker with each other, smirking even more at what was obviously brewing. But that was for another time. After he finished teasing Hermione, Theodore proposed that he'd think of a plan during the night, and that he'd inform them when he had it finalised. The other two agreed, slightly worried that the boy's plan could go awry but nonetheless, confident that it'd pull through. They weren't the only ones who were sceptical. Maybe if Dumbledore was inside of the castle, Theodore would feel a little less scared. Only a little.
Ron's eyes were motionless against the frequent rays of the sun that penetrated the windows above his bed. Theodore wondered if he knew that he was sitting right next to him, talking to him about how they'd find the person who put him in the infirmary. He even wondered if the red head saw who it was, and was dying to say something but was unable to. Just a pair of blue eyes, frozen and unresponsive. Theodore tensed up when he felt Hermione rest part of her head on his shoulder as she too, was stuck within her own mind. Even if they quarrelled every single hour or so, Ron was still one of her best friends who'd she fight for without any hesitation. Seeing him like this made her think that it could've been her laying on the bed, stuck in one single position.
"Look at the time. McGonagall said that we could be here for ten minutes and it's almost been thirteen. We've got to get going." Hermione lifted her head from the boy's shoulder and went to follow Harry to the hospital wing doors, not noticing that Theodore was still sat down in his chair. Not only was he thinking about Ron but every other person who was petrified. He promised them all that he'd right his wrongs and that if they were willing, that they'd forgive him for what he did. "Theodore, come on. McGonagall is going to lose her shit if she finds out we went overtime."
"Sorry, Madam!" Theodore left Ron's bedside and joined the other two to return to History of Magic. Professor Binns was still drawly as ever but they had to keep an ear out for him. Exam session was right around the corner and whether they were in danger or not, the students still had an education to receive. Upon reaching the first floor, Theodore was reluctant to enter the lesson, deeming it 'an absolute waste of our planning time', being backed up by Harry. Hermione was insistent that they'd go inside, not wanting to get into trouble for truanting. Obviously, this would cause an argument between the three but they instantly stopped the second they heard a cluster of familiar and unfamiliar voices, hailing from the floor beneath them. Harry was the first to crouch at the edge of the stairway, then Theodore and finally Hermione. The three were huddled together, completely forgetting that they had a lesson to be going to. I guess when Hermione doesn't tell you to go back to class, you'd naturally forget. They waited and waited for somebody to appear into their line of sight and they had gotten their wish. A wish which they'd give back in a heartbeat.
"This can't be 'appening! I'm tellin ya, I didn't do anythin!" The children's hearts dropped when they heard the panicky voice of their beloved half-giant friend. Hagrid stomped into view as he had a face of fury and anxiety at the same time. Something was wrong here.
"I'm sorry, Rubeus but there's nothing else that I can do. The news are leaking out to the public, people want to see action. If there was any other way then I'd take it quicker than you can say 'Hippogriff', but there isn't. Once again, I'm truly sorry." A shorter man clad in a heavy-looking yellow suit and a yellow hat to match, was standing with five other less bizarre-looking wizards, surrounding the distressed Hagrid. Something was terribly wrong here.
"Yer not though, are ya? Firs' Dumbledore, now me. Yer making a mistake, I didn't do anythin! I'd never hurt a Bowtruckle, let alone a kid! Yer have ta believe me!" Hagrid pleaded.
"Rules are rules, Rubeus." Theodore's skin crawled when he heard that horrid voice. Just as he suspected. Mr Malfoy came gliding from around the corner as he had a mixture of contempt and ferocity in his eyes. Theodore just wondered how he kept it all in after what happened to Draco.
"The governors had made their decision and we can't go against it for obvious reasons. Dumbledore knew the precautions yet failed to act upon them to stop the attacks. Now three boys lie upstairs in the infirmary, unable to speak and move." Mr Malfoy looked like he was choking the words out from his throat. Maybe Draco hit him harder than Theodore thought.
"And that's why it's gonna get even worse," snarled Hagrid. "If Dumbledore ain't here, then who's gonna stop the attacks, huh? You?" Mr Malfoy curled his lip as he twirled his cane in between his fingers.
"I'm sure that things will work out in the end. I'm terribly sorry for your troubles, Rubeus, I really am. But like Cornelius said. People want to see action." Hagrid looked down on the ground with such shame that he wished they took him away at that very moment. The trio could only watch in silence as they saw their friend being accused of opening the Chamber of Secrets when they had the answer. At least, most of it.
"At least… let me say goodbye ter Harry, Theodore and Hermione. That's all I'm askin." Cornelius was reluctant to let the man have his final wishes but Mr Malfoy was absolutely furious to not seeing Hagrid clapped in iron shackles. His own son was barely alive and the main suspect was being allowed last wishes? It made him sick to the core. Foul. Absolutely foul.
"I… alright. Make it quick, please Rubeus. We've taken up more time than we should have. Shall I…"
"No worries, Minister," said Professor McGonagall in a slight croaky voice. "I'll retrieve them here, promptly. It will be just a moment." McGonagall walked up the stairs briskly, still pale and distant. God knows how she was coping with all of this. She was halfway up the marble stairway when she stopped abruptly from hearing a sneeze from higher up. Walking much slower, the deputy headmaster started to close in on the three while Harry and Hermione were scolding Theodore for giving them away.
"What, am I not allowed to sneeze? It's a natural thing, everyone does it!" The two hushed the Heir as they heard McGonagall's footsteps becoming louder as she closed in even further. If they ran or even walked away from their current spot, she'd catch them. If they stayed, she'd catch them. Left with only one option, which could go against their luck, the trio jumped out from where they were hiding. McGonagall was almost startled by their sudden appearance and looked like she was about to tell them off but remembered that she was looking for them in the first place.
"If you're done sticking your noses into other people's business, feel free to say goodbye to Hagrid. Lord knows if he'll… say it quickly and go back to classes, alright?" She said softly. The three children nodded their heads and hurried down the steps to see Hagrid, who was now being cuffed with chains that were fit for an elephant. His face grew brighter as he saw the three children, coming down to one knee as they hugged him in front of the Aurors and Mr Malfoy.
"Hagrid you can't leave! We- we know that you didn't open it!" Theodore whispered as he tiptoed into the half-giant's ear. Hagrid sighed, slightly tilting the boy backwards.
"Not much that you can do. They already got the papers and everythin. Seems like yer past can never really escape ya. But… I'll be fine. Don't worry about me. You jus stay strong, little fella. You two, as well. I don't wanna see any waterworks here."
"We'll write to you," said Hermione with slight tears in her eyes, ignoring Hagrid. "Every single day if we have to."
"You won't be gone for too long, will you?" Harry asked, distraught to see his first wizard friend being sent away to Azkaban.
"Goodbye, Harry." The half-giant then got up to his feet and sniffed loudly, probably able to suck up every gram of dirt within the castle. "Now! I 'ope that the best cell ain't taken. Big boy like me needs a bit of room, no?" The trio struck a small smile as Hagrid made light of the situation. The Aurors circled the half-giant tightly as they walked over to the oak entrance doors, briefly followed by the Minster who tipped his hat to the children. Theodore and Mr Malfoy exchanged cold stares as the man smugly walked off with the others. And like that, he was gone. Hagrid, an innocent man, arrested and sent to Azkaban where he'd be tortured by the Dementors. Theodore was speechless and Harry almost looked like he wanted to hit something. Hermione wiped her eyes dry and told the boys that they needed to go back to class.
"It'll work, my plan. I'm sure of it." Theodore reassured as they walked through the blackboard.
'I think I'm sure…'
"Old master… I smell you… Mudbloods… many, many Mudbloods… I must kill… for master…"
The Parselmouths both heard the serpent spitting and hissing its bloodthirsty nature through the walls, making them both shiver with fear and disgust. They both shot worried looks at each other as Hermione caught on from the other side of classroom. Her movements propagated through the floors and walls, enticing the boys with more fear than they could possibly contain. What was even worse, was that Theodore knew the pipeline system of the school like the back of his hand. He knew that on the first floor, pipes were like giant rings above and below the classrooms. That could only mean one thing. The Basilisk was camping right there, ever so close. The sheer vibrations of her devilish hisses came from beneath his feet, indicating that her head was right below him. Theodore was so scared out of his mind, Lavender had to shake him to get his attention.
"You're so pale! Are you alright, Theo?" Lavender asked, showing genuine concern for the boy. Theodore swallowed and looked at the girl with an uncertain smile. If only she knew what was underneath her feet.
"I-I'm fine. Y-yeah, don't w-worry about me. I-I'll be okay," stuttered the boy as the colour in his cheeks were absent. Lavender could see that he was lying but didn't want to upset him. She went back to daydreaming again but still gave the boy sideway glances. He didn't look alright at all.
The lesson finished soon enough as the final bell erupted through the castle. Theodore shakily packed his things away as Hermione came over to console him. His eyes couldn't seem to close as he could almost see the Basilisk ready to follow him outside of the class. He put a stopper on his ink bottle and placed it in his bag as Hermione spoke up.
"Harry just said that he heard voices coming from beneath the ground. Did you hear the same thing?" Theodore left his bag on the table as the class began to leave the room rather slowly. He held the girl by her shoulders as he looked into her eyes with the same amount of fear that Harry depicted earlier on, possibly even more. "Theo?"
"Hermione, you need to get as far as you can away from me, okay? Don't argue with me, please! Just… go with Harry and go to the other side of the castle."
"Old master is with Mudblood… Slytherin is ashamed…"
"Shut up," whispered the fearful boy in Parseltongue.
"Theodore, I- okay. I'll go with Harry but-"
"No. No buts. Leave with Harry, now." The classroom was nearly empty as Harry was waiting by the blackboard impatiently. What could they possibly be discussing when the monster was right near them? Hermione was adamant on leaving the boy alone but grudgingly left with Harry after seeing so much desperation in Theodore's eyes. Quickly leaving through the blackboard, Theodore was now left alone with the cursed snake. Master and monster. Former master, that is. Nobody else here to listen to him. Just him and the Basilisk.
"What are you doing here?"
"Master told me to come… Master told me to find you…"
"And why's that? To kill me? To bring me down to the Chamber to take over my mind again so that I'll kill everybody else?"
"Don't know… only Master knows… Master always knows…"
Theodore took three steps forward to the front of the classroom. The Basilisk followed. He moved three steps to the right. The Basilisk followed. He walked to the very back of the classroom and the serpent followed. No matter where he went, the snake was always there. The snake wouldn't obey him, not when Tom was in control of whoever held the diary. To her, Theodore was as worthy as a 'Mudblood' and nothing more. The Parselmouth thought on what to do, slightly less tense knowing that Harry and Hermione were far from him on the other side of the school.
Run. That was it. That was all that he could do. Was to run. Counting slowly, drawing his breath in between each second, Theodore reached out for his bag. Six… five… four… three… two… one… He pelted through the blackboard as the serpent matched his speed, rumbling the stone floor beneath him. As ran across to his left, he almost crashed into Ginny who didn't seem to care that she was almost knocked over by him. Theodore couldn't apologise as he sprinted through the hallways, feeling the Basilisk slither and hiss through the walls so quickly and effortlessly that escape was impossible. She was far too quick for him and soon, it would be all over. But he had to keep running. He had to or otherwise Tom would win. Ron, Hagrid, Dumbledore… they were counting on him. He couldn't let them down. Not when he was-
A stitch stabbed his side as he was forced to the ground, wheezing profusely. It was over for him. He knew where he was kneeling. The area where he attacked Justin and Ernie. A pipe hole was right above his head, giving the snake a clear shot at taking his head off with a single bite. It'd be that easy. Theodore couldn't move anymore. It was ironic that he'd die from the Beast of Slytherin. It wasn't a Muggle-born that died on the second opening, no. It was the Heir. Theodore closed his eyes, ready for the inevitable when he saw somebody jog him excessively. She didn't… she didn't… she did.
"Why… the hell… are you here?! Where's Harry? Why aren't you with him?"
"We didn't want to leave you behind," said the Muggle-born guiltily as she pressed a hand against his forehead. "Have you been running?"
"Yeah I've been- wait… don't say a word." Theodore crawled to the wall and pressed his ear against it to hear the disobedient serpent… leaving him? Why would she chase him just to leave when he was vulnerable? He listened closer again, trying to hear her as she slithered downwards.
"New target…? Master wants new target… I will not fail Master…"
"What do you hear?"
"The Basilisk is looking for a new target…"
"It's a Basilisk?!" Hermione gasped. The colossal snake trailed her heavy body downwards, the sounds of her movements diminishing until Theodore could hear no more. He pulled away from the wall and stood up on his feet to clear away the dirt from his trousers. One more attack and it was the end of Hogwarts. They had to stop it before it was too late. "So that's why only you and Harry could hear it through the walls. It's a snake! Of course! The monster being a serpent makes absolute sense."
"I'd hate to spoil your fun but it's going after someone else. It went downstairs and I don't think that it's going back into the Chamber. We have to move fast, right now. Where did you last see Harry?"
"Harry? We split up on the second floor near the bathroom. Why?"
"Theodore!" Theodore left the girl behind on the fifth floor, racing all the way to the second. No, not him. Anyone else but him. It couldn't be him. Not Harry. Theodore barged and pushed through several people as he heard Hermione apologising for him as she ran after him. Everyone stared at him like he was a madman and maybe he was. Maybe his speculation would remain speculation as he would see Harry alive and well on the second floor, far, far away from the bathroom. He jumped down staircase to staircase, feeling the burn in his sides but he couldn't succumb. He had to know if Harry was okay or- oh no...
'Their skeletons will lie in the Chamber forever, unless the Heir comes forward…'
This wasn't in blood-red fire. This was just in blood. Pure, deep red blood that trickled from the haunting message beneath the first one. Hermione arrived a few seconds after and became paralysed by witnessing the stained walls. She turned to Theodore who's face was even paler than before, if that was possible. His vision shifted in and out of focus as he couldn't keep a clear head from looking at what he saw.
"Quick! Somebody's coming!" Hermione grabbed Theodore by the wrist and dragged him into the bathroom where they hid from those who were incoming. Panting behind the half-closed doors, the two children slid down to the ground, holding their stomachs. Theodore could've sworn that he heard a click from the central sinks but the voices of the teachers caught his attention instead. McGonagall, Snape, Flitwick and Vector. A few others that Theodore couldn't recognise. The Parselmouth could detect the immense panic among the teachers as they babbled over each other loudly. McGonagall put an end to all of this and allowed the teachers to speak, one at a time.
"Minerva! I… I…"
"What it is, Filius? Spit it out, then!"
"It's Miss Weasley, Minerva! I haven't seen her for the past three hours! She was supposed to come for our reading club and she hasn't shown up! Not even for class! Tell me that she hasn't…"
"I do not know, Filius. We can only hope that this has nothing to do with her. Not another Weasley. Ah, Bloody Baron! I thought you'd come quickly! Any news? Good ones?" The Baron looked completely glum, much more glum than usual. He didn't want to be the bearer of bad news. This however, blew the word 'bad' straight out of the water. It was just painful to hear.
"There's been no sight of… any of them."
"Any sight of who," asked the deputy headmaster weakly.
"The Weasley girl and the Potter boy. All of our ghosts looked everywhere and… nothing."
"I'm terribly sorry." The Baron floated away drearily, leaving the teachers and the remaining two in silent shock. Nobody saw this coming. Another Weasley and The Boy Who Lived, snatched by the Heir of Slytherin to decompose in the hidden Chamber forever. Without nobody to find them, without Dumbledore to protect the school, that was it. It was truly over. Hogwarts would be no more. Theodore would be living like a Muggle for his entire life, cursed with the knowledge that he couldn't save Harry. That his only living relative would be a mangled spirit who was roaming the Earth, unable to die. He'd be left on this Earth with… 'him'.
"I… w-what should we do, Minerva?" Professor Vector stammered as her face become unrecognisable from her blatant fear. McGonagall's jaw shook terribly while she blinked to stop any form of moisture from escaping her eyes.
"The students must be sent back to their homes. Tomorrow. We… It's the end. Hogwarts is… over. We're done…" Snape kept his stern expression while Flitwick had to wipe away his growing tears. The finality of their school, their home, being stripped away from them stabbed each and every teacher in the heart. Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley were probably dead as they stood around, utterly helpless. Hogwarts was supposed to remain forever, nurturing the young children that came through. Not to act as their tombs.
"Theodore?" No answer. "Theo?"
Theodore was desolate, broken and unrepairable. He couldn't think properly anymore. All those feelings of determination and virtue could be drained away from a boy just like that. Theodore had nothing left. No drive, no real family. Harry was all that he had left, and Tom took him away. Hermione called his name out again to get a response but Theodore remained mute. If there was the slimmest chance that Harry and Ginny were still alive, they'd die anyways. '…unless the Heir comes forward…' A cowardly attempt to draw him away from the castle. To save them… he'd have to return to the Chamber. Alone. Walking straight into the embrace of death. Nobody to save him. Just him, and him alone.
Seek me… Theodore…
The pair were secluded on the table in the corner, far away from anybody else. For the first time ever, the common room was void of the life and laughter that it usually retained, leaving behind a bleak shade of grey all over the Gryffindors. It was now up to four. Four Gryffindors attacked by the Heirs of Slytherin and there was no Dumbledore to rescue them. They all lost the very trait that they embodied, feeling fear creeping at every corner. What a way to end their short time within the castle. Most of them already started to pack their things away. Neville's suitcase was already near the portrait, ready to be trudged against the magical steps, never to see them again. Theodore couldn't bear to look at the Weasley boys, let alone talk to them. Their two youngest siblings… And when it would be time for Mr and Mrs Weasley to find out? He could already feel the pain from the soon-to-be devastated parents.
Theodore was still refusing to say anything as his hands covered his lips, making those hazel eyes spew all the turmoil that was inside of him. The more he stayed inside of the common room, the closer Harry and Ginny were to death. Fear of death, the pure hatred for his father, and his final decision on what he was going to do pounded against his brain. Trying to remain stoic as possible, the Parselmouth was breathing heavily as it was hard stomach what had to be done. Harry couldn't die. What was Theodore next to Harry, anyways? The child of the Dark Lord, that's what he was. Theodore thought to himself that he was dispensable. Harry was not. It was hard… but he chose this. And he wasn't going to change his mind.
"I'm going down there," said the boy blankly. Hermione didn't overreact to what he said. There was no point. They already been through this before. She wasn't letting him go on his own. Placing a tight grip on the boy's pale knuckles, Hermione breathed out through her nose, then spoke.
"Our best friend was just taken. 'Our' best friend, Theodore. Not just yours. I know that this is all just scary and believe me. I'm so scared. But I'm not going to stay here and watch you leave through that portrait door, only for you to never walk back through it. If you want to go, then I'll go. It's either the both of us, or… Choose." Theodore peered at the Weasley twins, who looked so distraught that they left for the dormitory. Percy was already upstairs when they had arrived in the common room, probably grieving in silence. Theodore didn't wish that on him, no matter how pompous he was.
"We could die, you know."
"Probably better than to never seeing this place again. Or you… guys! You guys! That's what I meant!" The Parselmouth sighed, feeling himself becoming more and more lenient to the Muggle-born. And this wasn't going to be the end of it, he was sure. He sighed again and brushed his hair backwards with his fingers, leaving a few locks of hair resting on his forehead.
"We need another person, two of us won't be enough." Hermione rubbed her chin to think of anyone who would aid them to blatant suicide. Her eyes lit up as she knew who the perfect person would be. "You have someone in mind?"
"Let's hear it," replied the boy, feeling slightly uncomfortable by the girl's sudden enthusiasm. His instincts were in the end, precise as he instantly rejected her suggestion. "No! No! Absolutely not! Not him!"
"He's an expert in this type of stuff, he'd be perfect!"
"He, is a FRAUD," hissed the boy as he forced the final word. "He never saved a village from werewolves or fought a banshee. I'm telling you, the guy's a complete fake! I'd rather go alone then with him."
Ten minutes later…
Theodore was grumbling under his breath as the two children walked up to Lockhart's office door. After some valid points from the Muggle-born, Theodore reluctantly agreed on asking for the professor's help, despite how he'd be absolutely useless. Hermione didn't seem to think so as she knocked loudly on his door, positive that he'd help.
"You'll see," said the girl as she let herself in. "He'll help us by… packing your things?" Theodore was on the verge of saying 'I told you so' to Hermione but held himself back. If he couldn't get through to her, then a solid reality check would. The man's office looked unusually empty for a man like Lockhart, and his trunks were stuffed with unfolded robes, crumpled books and photographs that were about to crack just from how messily placed they were. Lockhart jumped when he heard the two close the door quite firmly, and spun around to face them. He barely looked like the Lockhart Theodore knew and resented.
"Where are you going, Professor?" Theodore asked mockingly, unable to resist smirking at the man.
"Erm, I… I have to go, of course! Yes, I must… leave."
"Leave," asked Hermione as she frowned. "What do you mean leave? You're the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher! You're the most experienced person in the castle! How can you stand by when there are two children missing?"
"Miss Granger, my dear… sometimes, things… may not… go… your way." Lockhart responded nervously as he collected his hats from the pegs. "Just like now. I-I never signed up for… going into the…" Theodore was now in a full-blown smirk, not wanting to hide his face.
"I can't believe- what about everything you did in your books?"
"Well…" Hermione looked disheartened and appalled by the realisation. Not only was he really a fraud, but Theodore was right the whole time.
"So you're a… fake?"
"No no no! I'm not a fake!" Lockhart pleaded as he saw her lose all faith within him. "I promise you, my dear! I am not-"
"Oh, just shut it!" Theodore shouted. Hermione was still in disbelief. She knew what she was going to do with her books when they'd come back. If they came back. Hermione spun on her heels and walked to the door.
"Come on, Theo. Let's go."
"Oh! Where are you two children going, anyways? It's awfully late after curfew." Lockhart called out.
"Don't mind us. We're just going to the Chamber of Secrets to rescue our friends." Theodore said halfway out the door. Hermione asked him why he would say that, out of all the other things that he could've said, to him, only for Theodore to say wait. One, two, three…
"Children! I can't let you leave by yourself! I'd be scrutinised if they heard that you died while I left you to yourselves!"
"Then come along, sir." Theodore stated nonchalantly as he proceeded to walk off with Hermione, the girl shooting the man a dirty glare before turning forwards. The teacher and the Muggle-born followed the Heir through the corridors, now feeling the disturbance of the situation in their stomachs. Every step that they took closer to the bathroom, injected them with something foul, nasty and grim. And suddenly, everything just felt cold. So cold.
The three of them reached the dark hallway of the second floor, and briefly stopped to read the latest message underneath the first one. Why did it feel more haunting than the first time reading it through? Theodore turned away from the sullied wall and walked slowly into the bathroom, making sure that the Basilisk, or whoever opened the Chamber after him, wasn't poised waiting on the inside. He pushed the door open and slid through to enter the moonlit room. Hermione and Lockhart followed, both feeling terror in their hearts and looking at the boy like he had gone mad.
"Theodore," whispered Hermione. "Aren't we supposed to be finding the Chamber of Secrets? Why are we in here?" Theodore simply put his fingers to his lips and tiptoed to the cubicles so gently, a Bowtruckle would've made more noise by staying still. Silent murmurs and sniffing echoed from the last toilet stall, a voice chanting something that sounded so melancholic and dispirited. Theodore just hoped that what he was about to, was going to work. Something flickered in his mind as he remembered. This was the stall that Myrtle died in, where Tom manipulated the poor girl into her own death. History was repeating itself as a Riddle had to speak with the Muggle-born locked within the cubicle. Inhale… exhale…
"It's… it's me, Myrtle. It's Theodore."
"Can you come out, please?"
"I've heard all of this before. I've heard every single word and that's why I'm dead!" Myrtle snapped aggressively from the other side. The neighbouring cubicles were rattling from the ghost's outburst but Theodore wasn't going to leave. He had to make things right.
"Myrtle… I'm not like him, okay? I know what he did to you, I saw. But let me-"
"LIES! ALL LIES! THERE'S NOTHING DIFFERENT ABOUT THE BOTH OF YOU! I SAW YOU! COMING IN AND OUT, BECAUSE IT WAS YOU! YOU AND 'HIM'!" Theodore leapt back as Myrtle's head phased through the cubicle door. Theodore had never seen such rage like that before in his life. Myrtle looked like she wanted to strangle him for what his father did to her.
"You have to believe me! I-"
"HE DEFILED MY BODY AFTER I WAS DEAD! He… he…" Myrtle retreated back inside of the stall as she began to sob louder than usual. Hermione and Lockhart didn't say a thing from the other end of the bathroom. The boy wanted her to see that he wasn't like his father but she was probably right. No matter how hard he try to change, his father would always be a part of him. To deny that was just being foolish.
"Leave… me alone."
He trudged back to the other two without looking back to the toilet stall. The Riddle name was already a curse in the ghost girl's ears. As long as any child came through her bathroom bearing that name, she'd loathe them until the castle itself crumbled into fine dust. Theodore had to ignore his strenuously-pounding heart as he stood near the sink with the etched snake on the tap.
"So where's the Chamber of Secrets?" Hermione asked as she watched his pale face staring at the sink in front of him.
"Here," squeaked Lockhart as he too, became pale. "The Chamber of Secrets is… here?" Theodore nodded slightly, then told the two to move backwards. Hermione and Lockhart did what they were told, and took a large step back. Lockhart almost slipped on a slippery broken tile while Hermione couldn't care less.
"Open!" Theodore hissed in Parseltongue. The sinks clicked and moved, just like they did the first time he found the Chamber. Lowering into the floor, the dark pipe hole was revealed to Hermione and Lockhart, who both had their mouths open in stupor. Even though Hermione had already seen the central sinks separated before, it still felt like she was seeing it for the first time. "Well? Let's go!"
"Oh come on, Hermione! You wanted to come with me and now you don't. There's no time for second thoughts!"
"It's not that, it's just… forget it."
"Alright. Professor? Care to do the honour of going in first?" Lockhart was quivering in the spot, the realisation of who Theodore was, pulverising him like a raging Erumpent. Theodore looked at Hermione then at Lockhart, shaking his head rapidly. "No… no. It's not what it looks like-"
"You're the Heir of Slytherin…" Lockhart babbled, pointing an equally pale finger at the boy.
"I'm not- okay, maybe I am, but…!" Why did he say that? Lockhart bolted to the bathroom doors, ready to spill out his discovery on who the attacker was, ready to reveal everything. He was stuck between great fear as he was certain that he was being tricked into going down the pipe, and slight ambition that he would be the one to tell everyone else. Lockhart had his hand on the door when suddenly-
"Colloportus," bellowed Hermione as her wand was already raised at the door. The moss-covered doors slammed and locked the three inside of the bathroom, trapping the frightful professor as well. Hermione pocketed her wand and crossed her arms while she still held her frown.
"Like he said, 'Professor'. Would you care to do the honours?" The girl gritted through her teeth. Tapping his pockets to find his wand, but ultimately failing in the end, the fraudulent man waddled to the open pipe and stared down into seemingly nothingness. This was just pure death, plain and simple.
"Children! Maybe… we should turn back… yes, that should be the best course of action." Lockhart said feebly.
"So that you can go blab on me? Not a chance. Jump. Or we'll make you jump."
"I won't tell! I promise on my mother's life, I won't tell a soul!"
"Miss Granger! I know that I have lived a deceitful life but that doesn't mean that-"
"Have pity on me… please," croaked the blonde man.
"I'm begging you, please! Don't make me go down- ARGGHH!" Hermione 'accidentally' barged Lockhart with a swift elbow to the back, sending the professor plummeting down the hole. Lockhart was screaming the whole way down until he became silenced. Theodore hoped that he hadn't awkwardly cracked his neck and died. He was a pain in the backside for sure, but for him to die was a little over the line. Maybe just a few broken bones would suffice.
"Oh no! I think I killed him!" Hermione panicked, waving her hands frantically. Theodore had to reassure her that it was a long way down so if he was alive, they wouldn't know until they went down themselves. "Oh. I wasn't really thinking, you know? I'm just really… 'pissed' at him." Theodore held in a snicker from the girl's hesitation of saying the word 'pissed'.
"At least you know the truth now. I promise I won't hold it over you. For a few months."
"Oh… be quiet!" The boy chuckled then looked down at the pipe again. It was now or never. Harry and Ginny needed them both. He couldn't run away from Tom. Not anymore.
"Shall I go first?" Theodore suggested.
"It's fine. I'll go." Hermione stood near the very edge of the pipe, counting down from ten very quickly before she hopped inside. It was just like last year, only probably a lot more frightening. Hermione made no sounds apart from a few skids against the edge of the pipe below. And like that, Theodore was the last one in the bathroom. The urge to jump came and left in short bursts so he had to time it correctly. If he hesitated mid-jump, he could slide in headfirst, and that was certain death on the lower side. He closed his eyes and trapped himself in thought for only just a moment.
'Just like you used to, Theo. All you have to do is… jump…'
The next chapter may take a bit longer to write up as it will be the final part of . After that, it's back to revising for my exams. I should come back around two weeks or so afterwards. Yeah so this chapter again, was written when I was in different mindsets so it could be a little up and down but I enjoyed writing this one. I didn't want it to be exactly like the book but it's Fanfiction, it's supposed to be your own idea right? Anyways, I said what I needed to say and I hope you liked this chapter. Later.
BalsamicCheese: Thanks. I've already got a clear idea on how Theodore will be like when he'll age and I hope that you'll like it. Thanks again:)
Blank-name26: Sorry, it's just that I'm a bit of a perfectionist. In my old school, having near perfect grammar was a necessity. I guess it rubbed off me more than I thought, lol. But I'm happy that you're liking this story. Thanks for the review:)
seanconnor07: I'm thankful that you think that. Like I said above, having perfect grammar was heavily emphasised when I was younger so that's why I'm so picky over little mistakes. Nonetheless, it's great that you like it so far. Hope you review again:)