"He's so small…"
She cradled her new-born son in her weak arms, taking in so much air after what felt like an eternity. The boy did not cry once, almost scaring the mother into thinking that he was a stillborn but no. The moment he fluttered his beautiful hazel eyes open, which came from her own, she couldn't feel anything but love and devotion to her baby boy. She did this all for him. For the Dark Lord. Her Master. The man who she had craved for, ever since she was a young girl. He blessed her with a child after everything that she had fulfilled under his command. The slaughter of countless Muggles and wizardkind alike, the destruction of so many lives, all for him. Her Master. She loved him with every fibre of her being. She always longed for him, yearned for him yet… the second she laid eyes on her child, the boy's father was forgotten in her mind for all she cared about was her baby. How?
"Would you like me to call him, Valerie?"
"Not now, Severus... not now. I need to look at him some more… he's so beautiful…" Valerie spoke softly, grazing her finger across the baby's cheek. His eyes would occasionally open to reflect against his mother's, but would remain closed otherwise. He was wrapped in a comforting blanket that covered him everywhere except his perfect little face.
Valerie was laying in her own bed in the home that she inherited from her parents, crying and suffering to deliver her child for hours, aided not by the boy's father but by her only true friend. Severus had been tasked by the Dark Lord himself to watch over her until the baby would arrive, and had been easing her through the childbirth. She was heavily grateful for it, but still wished that the Dark Lord was here to witness this.
"Here," whispered Severus softly as he placed a small vial next to her lips. "You're in pain. This would numb it long enough so that it can subside eventually." Valerie sipped the murky grey concoction, resisting the urge to expel it from her mouth and painfully swallowed.
"Have you given him a name?"
"I… I've been thinking about… Silas…" Severus' eyes widened upon hearing the chosen name as he stashed the empty vial away.
"Silas? Like… my middle name?"
"Don't look so surprised," mumbled the weary woman, somehow managing to display a smirk. Severus couldn't help but smile at the angelic Valerie Potter. She birthed the Child of the Dark Lord, a boy certainly bound to a cursed life, yet with a smile it all looked so… opposite. Like everything was simple… If only she knew of the prophecy…
"Severus? What's the matter?" Valerie asked, having gained a bit more strength in her voice. The baby was sucking in air quite loudly, searching for somewhere to feed. Why he didn't cry for it seemed quite odd though.
"There is something… that I must tell you."
"What is it?"
"There is a pro-"
"Severus," said a high, cold voice that came from the door. It felt nasty, gruesome in both of their ears, but Valerie secretly loved it. Every single sibilance that flowed out of his mouth… There he was, face slightly obscured from his black hooded robes but still distinguishable. The bottom half of his face showed that pale, lipless mouth that produced such evil voice. Like a Dementor, probably much worst. Severus straightened himself up and kept his face neutral.
"My Lord… We were just about to alert you. Valerie still needed some extra aid with the birth… It's a boy… He's healthy…" The Dark Lord glided across the ground until he was half a metre away from his trusted disciple. He lifted his needle-like white hand and placed it on Severus' shoulder, still keeping his face covered.
"You've done well, Severus. I expected nothing more. You will be rewarded, but I ask of you kindly as to leave us with our child."
"Of course, my Lord. Anything." Severus bowed formally to his master and turned to the door to leave the 'family' alone together. He touched the grey door handle before rotating his head back round briefly. The Dark Lord's hood was removed, displaying his hairless head that loomed above his child and the boy's mother. In another world, in another lifetime, this could've been pure, something to look upon as a blessing in its absolute physical form. But no. This was wrong. This was so, so wrong…
"You don't really do much, do you?" Theodore asked the creature as it chewed slowly on a half-eaten chicken bone. It took no notice of the boy's question as it carried on gnawing at the bone, determined to strip every single string of meat that it had to offer. The creature became less hostile to the boy over the last two days, no longer trembling fearfully when he'd come close to it. Only yesterday, did he manage to pick it up in his hand without meeting resistance. An accomplishment on its own. Although not even coming close to Viripin, who was irreplaceable, Theodore had grown slightly attached to it. Only slightly.
"Well, you sort of look cool. Even if you're ugly, no offence. God only knows what the hell you are. Maybe when I go to Diagon Alley, I'll read up some more so that- Sawer's back!" The owl cooed loudly outside of Theodore's bedroom window, and happily fluttered to the bed post with a letter attached to his leg.
"Good boy! There's a dead mouse in the corner over there. Eat away." Sawer swooped in the corner in an instant before Theodore removed the letter to open it up. 'It's from Hermione. Maybe she'll know a good idea for Harry's present because I am absolutely, completely, one hundred and twenty percent, stuck.' Sawer flew back to Theodore, perching on his left shoulder as the Parselmouth read through Hermione's letter, hoping that she'd help him through his poverty-caused dilemma.
Of course you should report it to the proper authorities! What if they already know that you have it with you, and are counting the days that you don't hand it over? You were already reckless by letting a Muggle finding it in your own room, after all.
"You can never stop talking down to me like a child now, can you…?"
But the decision is yours. Obviously, I can't do anything else other than to advise you from over here.
Anyways, about Harry. Look, I'm certain that he won't mind anything from you, as long as it's genuine. It's not in his nature to reject everything, especially from you. Just make sure that you're not half-hearted about it. I'm sure he'll like it.
My parents and I are going to Diagon Alley next week. I know, I know, summer is barely halfway through, I just thought that I should get all of my things early. After all, I did choose all possible electives for the upcoming year (something that you should've done as well).
"Lunatic," said the boy under his breath, smirking.
So I was wondering if you would like to meet up with us at the Leaky Cauldron on the 5th. Mum and Dad said they'd be glad to see you again, even if they talk about you a bit too much. I don't think that Ron is able to come because he's still in Egypt with his family, and I know for a fact that Harry won't come either. You might as well, you know. Study of Ancient Runes is not an easy subject, so you should get ahead while you still can.
See you later, whether it be at Diagon Alley or King's Cross.
P.S: I have something to tell you. Something big and something very, very, VERY secretive. You can't tell anyone about it, not even Ron or Harry. Nobody.
Theodore scanned through the letter again, reciting the Muggle-born's words in his mind until he got the full gist of it. Whatever she wanted to tell him must've been something grand if she couldn't tell the others about it. Granted that Hermione was probably closer to Theodore than Harry and Ron, the Parselmouth would've thought that she'd indulge the other two into what secret she had as well. Alas, it was what it was.
He placed the letter in his usual stash-pile, and sat at his desk where his quill and parchment papers were sprawled already. Theodore didn't bother to clear away the clutter on his desk, carelessly allowing Elise to waltz in and ask endless questions about his usage of a quill and parchments the day before. Of course, he'd shut her down at every question, but her persistence was to be admired at, as well as annoyed. Dipping his surprisingly well-conditioned quill in his ink bottle, he thought for a while before scribbling a letter back to his witch friend:
Thanks for the advice, and when I mean advice, I'm talking about Harry's present. No need to remind me that I was careless. But thanks, really.
About going to Diagon Alley on the 5th, I'd like to come but I have to make sure that my carer is onboard about it. After last year, she hasn't let me out of her sight since. But I guess it would be nice to meet up there, although I'm pretty confident that I'll fly through Study of Ancient-
Something ear-splitting stabbed his ears as he accidentally pressed his quill too hard against the parchment, spurting out a fountain of deep-blue ink across the letter and his desk. Sawer was flapping his wings frantically as he flew off Theodore's shoulder to the area where the gruesome sounds had erupted from. The screams subsided quickly as Theodore followed the owl with his finger in his left ear, groaning at the ringing that didn't seem to fade away.
"Fucking hell, that hurt! Where did that even come from? Sawer, what is it? Oh-" There it was, squirming and writhing on the ground in silent pain as the boy and the owl only watched it in confusion and anxiety. Theodore knelt down quickly, scouring the area for any particular sign that could've been the cause of the creature's apparent torture. No… no… He looked back at it, noticing how its body was morphing in ways that looked so grim to the eye. The lizard tail flailed uncontrollably as the bones from its spine slowly jutted out through the skin in the grisliest of angles, ripping straight through as blood trickled out from the ruptures in the flesh. The left eye became grossly enlarged, almost bursting from its socket as the creature carried on thrashing on the floor.
"Shit! No, no, no!" Theodore repeated frantically as he lifted the suffering beast from the ground, placing it on the desk to look at it closely. "I don't know what to do, I mean… I w-wish I could help you but…" It began to twitch disturbingly, similar to a rat that had been choked for a lengthy amount of time, forcing the distressed boy to cradle it in his hands again. "Don't go, okay? I… I'll find a way to make you better, I promise. Just… don't die…"
The creature strangely found comfort within the young Parselmouth's voice, as its twitches became fainter by the second until it settled completely. Still laying on its side upon Theodore's hands, the creature's malformed body began to reshape itself back into its 'normal' form, its skeleton being realigned underneath the wounded scales, and its eye reducing in size to fit inside the slightly spaced-out skull socket. Theodore thought that it looked like a wild animal had completely ravaged it, not even bothering to decimate its entire being. Albeit, it still looked alive. Barely anyways.
"Theo? Can I come in, please?" Elise. Theodore dashed to the creature's cardboard box and carefully lowered it inside, wary of causing any more harm to the weakened beast, then pushed the box under his bed. Elise was the last person who needed to know about any of this. She'd scrutinise him all the way until he'd go back to Hogwarts.
"Come in! Come in…" He declared as he ridded his t-shirt of the prominent dust from underneath his bed. Elise swung the door open and stuck her head through only, which was odd considering the fact that she'd never pass up a single chance to roam inside his room.
"Hey. Aren't you getting ready?"
"Ready for what? Oh, you're talking about the park thing. Yeah, I'll come down soon."
"Nope," replied the girl as she shook her head in a condescending motion. "Madam said that we have to go down to the dining hall now, to place us inside of our groups." Theodore looked back to his bed, feeling severe stomach pains which was caused by blatant guilt. An idea came to mind. Probably insane, could ban him from the wizarding world forever, but it was an idea.
"I'll come down really soon, like in… two minutes. I just have to organise my school homework." Theodore didn't even bother trying to sound reassuring in his voice, mind still stuck on the horrid image of the lizard/bunny's body deforming so rapidly.
"Can I wait outside here?" Theodore nodded and was left alone in his room again. Sawer waddled over to the cardboard box under the bed, cooing sadly as he lowered his head to see it underneath. Theodore whistled for the owl to return to its cage as he retrieved the box, opening it to gently lift the creature in his hand. Abandoning it so carelessly was the absolute wrong thing to do, and leaving for the park couldn't have been the worst timing imaginable. He was playing a dangerous game. A very dangerous game. He was risking the exposure of an entire world, just for an unknown hybrid creature. Go figure.
The secretive boy threw on a loose hoodie and slipped the creature inside one his pockets, knowing that the significant holes would provide enough air for it to breathe. He sliced open a fresh bag of Viripin's packaged mice for Sawer to eat, and quickly wore his black Converses before heading out the door. Hidden in his back pocket was his copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and his wand. He didn't know why he brought the wand with him, but it made him feel safer. Sure, there was probably nothing to worry about, but one had to be careful out there, especially when you were an underage wizard.
Elise was wearing a lilac sundress that stopped just below her knees, and was wearing her new denim jacket which she had gotten for her birthday recently. Her hair had surprisingly grown long enough for her to braid it neatly, and she had identical shoes to the young wizard to complete the entire look. As Theodore closed the door behind him, the startled girl squealed before lightly punching the boy out of embarrassment. He couldn't help the sly expression that was growing on his face as he smirked at her, earning another punch.
"Okay, okay! Calm down, I'll stop."
The two friends walked down the stairs side by side with Elise asking about the abnormal animal in Theodore's possession, and with Theodore trying to change the subject at every mention quite efficiently. 'She can't know, not even a little.' Theodore heard the overwhelming noises of the other children coming from the dining room as they reached the bottom of the staircase, watching Gretchen mercilessly berating the kids for no apparent reason. Luckily slipping past her without raising any alarms, the duo squeezed past the clumps of orphans who were crowding around the central table that was occupied by the Madam and three other adults who were unfamiliar by name and face. The Parselmouth turned his head to see where Elise had gone off to but awkwardly found her right next to him, falling victim to her small stature in such a large crowd.
"I always hated going to the park to do this," complained the boy as he brought himself closer to Elise. "I'm always stuck with Gretchen and it always ends up in a disaster at the end of the day."
"Well, you've always provoked her into doing something really mean towards you." Elise returned, using Theodore's shoulder as leverage to see above the towering children.
"No, I don't!"
"Yes, you do."
"Do you remember when we were five, and we had that massive bake sale?" How could he forget? A series of unexplainable events at the time, had fallen all onto Gretchen due to the boy's 'disregard for the rules'. He could argue that he wasn't in control of his magic at the time, but then that'd be a lie and a half.
"So…" He replied, scowling at a boy who elbowed him in his back behind him. The boy took one look at him and scurried off in shameless fear.
"So? Gretchen offered you a slice of the last cake, but you threw it in her face, all because it was tiny."
"Okay, first of all, I didn't touch the cake. How could I throw something if I didn't touch it, it just doesn't make-"
"SILENCE!" The hall dropped in complete silence as the Madam bellowed with such power. Elise had given up on her struggle and sulked next to the taller boy with her arms crossed like a child. Theodore looked at the orphanage director intently, along with the seemingly government officials, internally dreading what they had planned for the orphans this year. A woman with saggy cheeks and eyes which possessed masked turmoil, stepped on a platform after thanking the Madam.
"Hello, children! My name is Natalie Tweadful, and I am the overseer for these wonderful events that has been tradition at Stuggle's for nearly sixty years. Every three years, our beloved orphanage is honoured as the hosts for the Stuggle's Awareness Campaign or simply S.A.C., which is a charity-based organisation that involves…"
Theodore was completely out of it. Nothing that this woman could drawl out could make him in the slightest, excited about any of this. She was probably the dullest being that he had ever seen in his life, save for Professor Binns. He never remembered the previous introductory talks being this soul-sucking. Perhaps he was just subconsciously waiting for the bowler hat on the solid-looking man's head to bellow out random gibberish, or the-
"What the…" Something squirmed and wriggled on the inside of Theodore's hoodie, causing him to jerk a little awkwardly. Ignoring the leering eyes from his fellow orphans, Theodore slowly slipped his hand inside of his hoodie pocket, only to feel something small, warm and slightly damp brushing against his open palm. Theodore hastily tapped his feet against the floor, doing his best to contain his exhilaration of the thought that the creature was back in full health. Suddenly, he felt a soft jab in his right rib as Elise turned to him, noticing that boy had strangely entered an excitable mood.
"Why are you so cheery all of a sudden?" She asked with a raised eyebrow.
"No reason," whispered the young wizard back. "I just know what I'm about to do today rather than this."
"You're not going to run away again, are you?" He immediately frowned.
"Now why would you think that? Just because I did that last year, doesn't mean that I'll do it again."
"It kinda does." She retorted.
"It does not."
"Yes, it does."
"No, it doesn't."
"It does, Theodore."
"No, it doesn't! Why would-"
"Thank you," said the Madam much more calmly. Everyone turned their heads around to the called boy, but returned their attention to the head of the orphanage. "Now as you know, we always assign you in groups under the supervision of the two of us, being myself and Sister Gretchen. I would advise you not to try and switch groups as there will be dire consequences should the situation demand it. Am I clear?"
"Yes, Madam Geoffrey," said the children in a chorus.
"Good. Now, Sister Gretchen and I, will call out your names one by one, and you will join the supervisor that has called for you. Lucas Tribble!" Theodore was slightly reminded of his sorting that happened nearly two years ago, by seeing all the children coming up and dividing into two groups under the Madam and Gretchen. He wondered if he would feel the same bitter disappointment that he had felt when he was sorted into Gryffindor rather than Slytherin. A feeling of bitter disappointment turned into immense relief.
"Watch. I'll go with Gretchen for the third time in a row." The downhearted Parselmouth whispered in the shorter girl's ear.
"Don't think like that, I'm sure that-"
"Riddle!" Gretchen screamed from the other end of the hall. Theodore closed his eyes, inhaled then exhaled. He wasn't surprised, just disappointed. Elise gave him a squeeze on his arm for reassurance as he reluctantly trudged over to the despicable woman. What did he do to deserve this for nearly ten years? A simple magical mishap and suddenly your entire life was damned to fall under the wrath of a hateful woman. He finally broke through the tight crowd of children and walked behind Gretchen with his group members. Freddie was standing behind Richard, constantly flicking his ears while Jason was nervously avoiding eye contact with the Parselmouth.
'Glaise and Watson? Again?! Madam, please tell me you didn't choose these groups.'
"Elise Thullen!" Theodore blinked as he saw Elise pushing through the other children to skip away to the Madam's group, briefly shooting a look of sympathy at the boy before talking with her other friends. Of course. The only friend he had left in this place and she'd be on the other side. This wasn't chance, this was just straight, pure bad luck. Nobody, literally nobody, was worth speaking to in his-
There it was again. The lizard/bunny ruffled on the inside of his pocket, sniffing so profusely that Theodore was forced to mask the noise with his hand. Imagine how Gretchen would react upon seeing such a creature right in front of her. Ah, wishes that could never come into light, no matter how hard you wanted it to become true. If only…
"Fuck off, Freddie! I'm not in the mood!"
"Of course you are, Ricky! It's only a joke, that's all. I was-"
"The next person to swear on this bus again, will get kicked to the curb and trust me, nobody is going to help you back home. So shut it!"
Theodore had his left cheek pressed against the slightly grubby bus window, boringly counting each person that seemed abnormally tall or short on the passing pavements, unable to bring himself to the satisfaction that he was finally outside of Stuggle's for once. I mean, not only were they lazy enough to reutilise the bake sale idea from nine years ago, but they couldn't even obtain a simple lease to use the local park for only five hours. Pathetic on the so called 'caring' government officials' part. Theodore couldn't take it anymore. His thick book was pressing against his spine quite painfully, and he couldn't take the beast out of his pockets until they'd arrive at God knows where.
'Next summer, I'm staying over with the Weasleys. No way in hell am I sticking around at Stuggle's again. No offence to Madam or Elise…'
The bus ride lasted for another thirty minutes until the bus driver had pulled over near a parking lot that was opposite to the park which could only exist in fairy-tales. Lush green landscapes of grass that held a golden tint from the afternoon sun glaring from above, perfect circular flower beds containing evenly grown flora of a wide variety, and grand trees that were littered all over the place which outstripped the community park in Lambeth by a mile. Theodore gazed outside through the windows in awe, not seeing something so pristine since the fields at Hogwarts. Remarkable.
"Stop gawking through the window and get your behinds out the bus!" Everyone obeyed Gretchen as they all began to clear out through the bus doors quickly. Theodore was the last person out as he almost dropped his wand and the book carelessly, catching them at the very last second. Not wanting to give her another excuse to scream at him, he rushed out of the bus and hopped off to join the others who were busy teasing each other.
"Where are we," asked Theodore as he spun his head around to search for a sign somewhere. Freddie pointed to a crispy-white solid banner that read, 'Little Whinging Public Park'. "We're in Little Whinging?!"
"That's what it says. Do you know this place?"
"Yeah, one of my school friends lives around here! I can't believe we're actually in Little Whinging!"
"Alright, alright! Stop yapping on and go get the setup ready when the others will arrive. We haven't got all day!" Everyone groaned but not too loudly, as they crowded around the back of the bus to collect the foldable tables and chairs for the bake sale. The task was strenuous to the bones as Theodore could feel callouses forming on his palms every time he'd heave a table on his own or with Richard. The second they finished with all of the equipment, the other group had arrived with presumably, all the cakes and treats. Theodore's group sat near the benches, completely worn out and completely void of energy. How they'd expect them to sell cakes to everyone without passing out was beyond them.
Tables were soon filled to the brim with homemade pastries and treats, naturally drawing the attention of the park dwellers to their stands. In a mere matter of minutes, dozens of people were soon flooding the area of the bake sale as the air became saturated with summer joy. Laughter and cheers were echoing across the park as they munched on several strawberry tarts, jam donuts and slices of meringue-covered pies, all united by the unquestionable power of food. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, everyone seemed to love every second of it. Except from Theodore. Gretchen had just told him off for supposedly sabotaging her chocolate brownies when in reality, he caught them from falling when a bratty child had decided to take a piece for herself. Nothing that he could do would ever please the hulking woman. Why did he even try?
The Parselmouth was sitting alone on a shadowed bench near the stand that Elise was stationed to while he stroked the lizard/bunny underneath the table. What was hidden under a face of no apparent emotion, were multiple absurd thoughts based upon his current location and a very familiar person.
'Oh man, I can't believe that Harry lives around here! And all this time, I thought that these trips were so uninteresting. Still are but what can you do? I wonder if I could sneak away and find his house somewhere. Huh, you wish, Theo. As if Gretchen, let alone Madam, would let you out of their sight. I doubt you could even-'
"How much for fourteen biscuits, seven cake slices and nine tarts?"
"Dudders, be respectful. You have to be nice when you're the customer, alright?"
Theodore looked up to see a blond boy hefty in weight slobbering over the cakes in gluttony as his mother towered over him with her longer than average neck, thin frame and identical hair. Theodore instantly knew and remembered who these people were.
"Everything alright, Petunia? What's the problem?" Theodore felt something vile backing up in his throat as he recognised the burly man that had arrived, sweat dripping from his forehead to his moustache.
"Yes, dear. I'm just treating Dudley with a little something after his grade report. He deserves it, don't you my little whiz-kid," said Petunia as she pinched Dudley's thick cheeks. Elise's left eye twitched on what looked so awkward, as did Theodore. Not wanting to give his very extended family a chance to recognise him from King's Cross, the Parselmouth stowed the creature in his pocket again and grabbed his book underneath the stand where he had hidden it from everyone else, and proceeded to sneak away out of sight from the bake sale. Surely, only one person would miss him, and she was occupied with cringing at the Dursleys.
Finding an area hidden well away from the others, the young wizard settled down underneath a heavily obscured oak tree, taking out his copy of the book as well as freeing the creature from his hoodie. The lizard/bunny hopped onto Theodore's lap, overwhelmed by the sudden shift of the environment as it sniffed the air keenly, eager to absorb each trace of the new surrounding scents.
"You like it here, don't you? So do I. I'll probably get in trouble but who cares? It's not like Gretchen wouldn't blab on me like she always does. Anyways, let me see if there isn't anything in here that I haven't overlooked before…"
"Run, Theodore… run…"
He scrambled to his feet as the voice from before was heard again, only sounding much more eerie to the ears. The sun seemingly died for a moment as the air began to grow cold, just slightly. The leaves overhead rustled against the unnatural gusts of wind that sent unbearable chills down the boy's spine.
Something was watching him. His mouth became parched as his fingers twitched uncontrollably at the realisation. He didn't know what and he couldn't explain it at all, but something was staring him down right there, like a defenceless lamb being preyed upon by a malnourished wolf. Theodore never thought of himself as a boy possessing a sixth sense of some sorts, but there was no denying that his entire being was sending a distress signal to his brain. Something or someone was watching him, and he was anything but safe. Defenceless.
"L-let's go back to everyone else. It was a mistake to come here. Come on, we're going." Theodore declared, his voice slightly croaking as trepidation was corroding him by the second. He looked down to the ground where the creature had been sniffing all over, and saw it scurrying away so quickly, he would've missed it had it been a second later.
"Hey! Get back here," called the boy as he chased after it, dropping his book underneath the tree. The lizard/bunny galloped through a crevasse in the bush that led to the forest which was adjacent to the tree that they settled under, vanishing out of sight. Theodore didn't hesitate to follow through as he squeezed his way in between and ran after the creature, barely able to trace its rapid movements. Although it displayed no magical traits beforehand, it still had the combined speed of a fully-grown rabbit and a lizard, easily outmatching the Parselmouth as he sprinted through the light-deprived forest.
Deeper and deeper, did the boy and the beast fall into the forest depths as the others felt like miles away from him. Theodore could feel his chest starting to contract with pain as he wheezed for excess air. The build-up of lactic acid in his muscles stung tremendously after running at his maximum speed for five minutes. He couldn't do it, he couldn't run any further. It was a wasted effort. The creature was probably waiting for its chance to enter the outside of the orphanage, making its escape at the perfect moment. Theodore thought to himself that he was so stupid into trying to 'replace' Viripin, thinking that he deserved what he had gotten.
"I'm never… going… to have… another pet… again…" He panted as he staggered towards an area full of light. What he had thought was another area of the park, turned out to be an abandoned enclosure which looked like it hadn't been tended to for decades. There was a malfunctioning waterfall that spurted water at irregular times, in irregular angles, which was centred within the closed off area, and the water below looked completely viscous with swirls of sickening greens and yellows floating inside. A tunnel that was infected with powerful vines was situated on the left of the decrepit waterfall, as well as a sign that had the words etched completely off. Soot, decomposing leaves and dry faeces was scattered all over the ground, confirming that this used to be a part of some sort of an amusement park. It was relatively big, big enough for all the children at his orphanage to fit inside, but Theodore couldn't feel anymore trapped. He had to get out of there and leave. Now.
Struck with complete fear, but still managing to twist his body to face the source of the baleful noise, Theodore only wished that he never left the others in the first place. His body was unresponsive to the blockage of fear severing the connection between body and brain, paralysed on the spot as he could only look upon the beast with terror in his eyes.
A scruffy, black paled-eyed dog, which was the size of a grizzly bear, was poised in a dangerous position, facing the boy with savagery pulsing through those feral eyes. Not only was the dog five times larger than it should've actually been, but Theodore had no chance of escaping the rabid beast, his only exit being barricaded by the animal itself. Strings of saliva leaked out from its jaws as it bared its dagger-like teeth, still growling at the boy viciously. If he ran, he'd die. If he stayed still, he'd die a little later. No matter what he did, he'd end up in a torn pile of flesh and bones for the Monster of Little Whinging to feast upon while nobody would be aware of his presence. What was it with him being imprisoned in secret areas, cornered by an animal that was way too big for its size?
One paw forward. One step back. Another paw forward. Another step back. The dog was nearing to its skinny prey as the boy could only retreat, not even remembering that he had a wand in his back pocket. He placed one foot before the other, still keeping his gaze against it, no matter how much he wanted to look away. If he did then what was the point of trying to live? Theodore backed up some more until he almost stumbled into the murky pool of 'water', luckily regaining his balance as he looked down to his feet. Big mistake. Big, big mistake. The dog barked ferociously (which sounded like a roar, more than anything) and used its powerful legs to blitz straight towards the Parselmouth, seemingly below a single second.
Reduced to reacting upon crude instincts, Theodore jumped backwards instantly, disregarding the fact that he'd drown inside a pool of tainted water. The dog was in between mid-pounce, jaws wide open, ready to splinter his skull into multiple fragments. He was falling backwards, ready to be engulfed entirely by the damnable slime when all he felt was the hard surface of the ground smacking against him. He rolled to his side, groaning upon impact as he heard a splash, followed by persistent whining in front of him. His vision came into focus as he watched the dog clambering out of the pool, fur completely saturated with water and slime as it refused to slide off. But wait…
'Huh? How did I… how did I get all the way over here…? I was literally there, just a few seconds ago… Oh shit.'
It had resumed its predatory position, barking madly at the boy after flicking off the loose strings of sludge on its drenched fur. Theodore was given no time to think as he scuttled backwards on the floor, barely noticing the lizard/bunny that had suddenly appeared on his knee. The dog hurtled at the boy with stupendous speed, surely going for the kill until it happened. Not exactly a miracle, not exactly wondrous, but it was definitely something. The minuscule beast sprung from the boy's lap, and grew in size substantially to match the size of the dog. Although still bearing its reptilian features, it lost all traces of the rabbit within it, slightly resembling Theodore's attacker as it ravaged at the dog's neck, not displaying an ounce of mercy.
The hulking dog was not incapacitated for so long as it managed to kick the equally large hybrid away with its hind legs, creating a deep gash against its stomach. Theodore winced at the exposure of the rib cage through the wound, but knew he couldn't do anything to help. The dog struck the hybrid above its left eye with its giant paw, forcing the creature to retaliate by using its tail to smack it away with the force of a moving truck. Lunging with all the might that it could muster, the hybrid caught the dog's neck in its jaws again, adamant on letting go the second time. Theodore didn't know that the small lizard/bunny could be capable of such ferocity and might, he daresay power.
Unfortunately, the dog mercilessly overpowered the hybrid somehow, clawing at it repeatedly until it staggered away, wounds covering nearly every part of its body. It swayed side to side weakly, body probably failing from the severe loss of blood in such a small amount of time. It was tiring… it was dying. But the savagery didn't end there. The dog pinned the hybrid down easily, swooping its jaw down to swiftly deliver the final blow to its neck, soon to be the boy next…
"Flipendo!" Theodore roared as he pointed his wand at the attacking dog. A jet of blue light smacked the dog on its side, sending it hurtling across the enclosure until it crumpled against the wall and sank within the turbid pool. Theodore didn't care that he had just used magic right there. The Ministry could persecute him all they want, there was no way that he could've possibly survived without doing anything. He ran over to the dying hybrid, wand still in his hand just in case the dog was still alive. He hoped not. The boy dropped to his knees as the creature wheezed heavily, devoid of the brutish nature that it had depicted just a few moments ago.
"Why did you run away? Why would you leave me, if you knew that thing was out here to get me?" Theodore asked softly, pointing his wand over the wounds while healing them albeit, not completely.
"Never left you… only protect you…" The creature hissed weakly.
"Wait… I know that voice…"
"No… it can't be…" Without warning, the composite creature started to reduce in size slowly as its limbs snapped into its body until they vanished underneath the skin. The scales remained but the fur dwindled and dwindled till no more could be seen. Shrinking and shrinking even further, Theodore began to identify the form that he had missed for so long, the excessive wounds not even enough to mistake her identity. She shrunk and shrunk, reshaping herself into her original form. There she laid on the ground, some chunks missing from her body, the tip of her tail absent and her scales returning to the sickly shade that he saw the first time he met her. Cradling her in his hands, looking down at her with tears of joy, regret, horror and sadness, the young Heir picked the serpent up, careful not to mishandle her at all.
"Viripin…? Viripin, is that really you?" He croaked.
"Y-you never left, y-you… you saved me…"
"Don't talk, okay? I'm going to get you back at Stuggle's and I'm going to make you better. Just hold on for me, please? Please, Viripin," asserted the Parselmouth as he carried her away from the enclosure. "Don't you worry. I'm never leaving you again, you hear me? I won't-"
The dog erupted from the waterfall pool, and charged straight towards the two, eager to finish the job that it had set out to do. Theodore's heart nearly erupted so violently as he held Viripin in his hands, he and the dog face to face for a moment until it happened again, only the effects of it was much more recognisable than before. The sensation of his body being warped and contorted in the most vigorous way possible, only told him that he somehow Apparated away from the enclosure and to… wherever the hell he was.
He was inside of the bus that he came in from the orphanage, seated in his exact spot against the slightly grubby window. Theodore was out of breath, sucking in vast amounts of air as he focused his attention to the damaged Maibian Adder, who was still clinging onto life. He instinctively drew out his wand, knowing fully well that it was too late for him anyways, and proceeded to heal her again when somebody unlocked the bus doors, forcing him to hide his wand yet again.
"Theo! What are you doing in here," asked Elise worryingly as she ran through the middle of the bus with a face full of concern. "How did you get in here? Did you know that everyone was looking for you, the Madam-" The girl took a single glance at the snake, words void from her mind. Theodore didn't take his eyes off Viripin as well. He felt so stupid about everything. Choosing his father over her, thinking that she had left him forever and not even recognising her own voice. She never left him, not once. Not even when he wasn't the same person anymore. She was there. Always there.
"So cold… am I… is this death…?" What was this? Where was she? Her body was fluctuating uncontrollably between numbness and unspeakable pain, driving her into the depths of madness before mending her back into sanity again. It even felt unbearable to flicker her tongue to taste the air around her, only barely catching onto the aroma that had been her comfort, her refuge… her home. That scent which bestowed upon her the serenity that was ever-present since she had first arrived, felt like it almost rejuvenated the soul within her, raising her back from unconsciousness to see her beloved friend kneeling against the bed with his head buried in his arms. She was too weak to move, barely able to even speak. But she had enough strength for this.
"Theodore…" hissed the Maibian Adder weakly to the boy. Theodore lifted his head to some degree, unsure as to if it was really her voice calling his name, or his guilt which deceived him. Lifting his head some more, his hazel met with the solid chrome as they glinted from the pale moonlight that filled some of the bedroom.
"You've been crying…"
"I've been crying a lot now, these days. Don't know why I can't stop myself." Viripin attempted to slither closer to the boy, spitting in pain as her wounded body cramped up. "Don't move. You'll only hurt yourself." She slumped her head down against his bedsheets, eyes still glistening.
"I thought you left, you know. I didn't think I'd ever see you again, but… We stop them, the attacks. Even though it was me the whole time. They knew it was me anyways. Harry, Hermione, Ron and Dumbledore. I thought that… that they wouldn't care about me, but guess what? I was wrong… so wrong. That diary that I had? Belonged to my father, it did. Not only that but a piece of him was inside of the diary, and I spoke to him. Every single day. A-and the more I spoke to him, the more the addiction became worse. I couldn't stop myself… And just when I thought he couldn't be any more of a monster, he told me who he was… who he really was… Viripin, I've been trying my best to come to grips with it, I-I've been trying to accept it but it's just so hard! It's just so hard… I've tried, you know. I really have…"
"Why did you stay? I thought that you left forever… why did you stay," asked the boy tearfully. Viripin steadily raised her head to the boy's level, almost taken back that the Parselmouth could see her for what she truly was again.
"I never left you, Theodore… I was always by your side when you needed me… I was hiding in your dorm, camouflaged underneath your bed… I even followed you when you thought that you were alone, when you went down in the Chamber that night…"
"It wasn't Fawkes… it was you, wasn't it? You blinded the Basilisk, and you saved Hermione… you saved us all…"
"You were never alone, Theodore… I never left you…"
"And you saved my life again, back there," said the boy with a small smile after he sniffed sharply, wiping the excess tears from his red cheeks. Never had he seen such loyalty within an animal before, magical or not. She was beyond anything that he had ever seen in his life before. She was everything, and so much more. Theodore knew he didn't deserve a being that was even half of her, but he couldn't bear to lose her. Not like this, never again. He couldn't.
"I'll be better. I promise."
"You don't need to be better. You just need to love yourself, and to forgive" said Viripin softly. "That's all you need to do. Forgive."
"Will you forgive me?"
She said nothing as there was nothing to be said. The boy didn't need forgiveness. Not from her. She straightened her body across the bed, the pain of her stiff bones and ripped flesh being suppressed as she neared closer to the boy. So much pain and agony inflicted onto her body, but she didn't give a single care to any of them. Her body elongated further and further until she pressed her flat, broad head against the young wizard's own so tenderly that he was flushed away with his tremendous guilt, absolutely strengthening the once powerful bond between the two, into an unbreakable one. It could never be broken, never to be severed ever again.
"Whatcha got there, Hermy," asked Carmen curiously as she noticed her cousin grinning at something for quite a while. Carmen was sat in her spare bed along the ground in her older cousin's bedroom, dressed in a pink onesie with a hood shaped in a dinosaur's head. The younger girl had also inherited the bushy hair that was present in her siblings, father, and cousin, marking the hood as absolutely useless.
"It's a letter from my friend at school. He just told me something great that had happened to him recently." Hermione replied as she couldn't stop herself from smiling at the joyfulness within his words. The Muggle-born started from the beginning until the image of Carmen plopping herself on the other end of her bed, interrupted her abruptly.
"What happened to him?"
"I can't exactly tell you, Carmen. It's sort of a secret."
"Oh. Who's it from?" Hermione sighed, but decided to give the younger girl an answer to prevent what would've been an eternity of begging.
"His name is Theodore. You know, the one who Mum and Dad won't stop talking about."
"So you do like him!" Carmen declared with a pointed finger. The witch furrowed her thick eyebrows heavily, folding Theodore's letter away as she defended herself against the eleven-year-old girl. She had to put a stop to this, her family was getting out of hand now.
"I don't like Theodore like that, he's just my friend from school and that is all. How many times do I have to explain this?" She muttered annoyingly as she tied her hair into a tight bun that required seven hairbands. Carmen shrugged and slid off the Muggle-born's bed to her own. Hermione opened her drawer full of letters from everyone that wrote to her, and stashed the Parselmouth's newest one inside. The thought that if Harry, Ron or Theodore kept a collection of their letters hidden away somewhere, had crossed her mind once or twice, but never enough for it to stick in her mind.
"Is he as pretty as Auntie Caroline says?"
"Carmen, I just said… yeah, he's pretty." Her skin flared up so much as she never said anything about Theodore on his good looks out loud before.
"But you don't like him like that, do you?"
"I guess not."
"Does he like someone else?"
"I don't know, Carmen! Look, just go to sleep, it's late already."
"Okay. Goodnight, Hermy!"
"Goodnight, Carmen." And with that, Carmen was out like a light, whistling through her nose as she brought her sheets to her chin. Hermione fixed her bun one last time before she threw her duvet on top of her, settling in finally after a long day of revising the topics that were covered during the end of the last term. The Muggle-born smacked her head against the inviting plushness of her velvet pillow, falling into well-deserved slumber as the thoughts about the handsome boy sunk deep into her subconscious, settling in comfortably and well.
Cokeworth. 46 Spinner's End. April 9th. 7:00AM. Three days since the boy had been brought into the world. In his short years of servitude to the Dark Lord, and his unbreakable friendship with Valerie, Severus still couldn't comprehend the fact that the child had been produced between the union of the two. He never questioned the woman's fascination with the Dark Lord, never batting an eye when she'd graciously bow before his feet as he'd enter a room. She was his most loyal follower after all. Severus just couldn't understand it. He knew that it was loveless. He knew that Valerie's feelings towards him, was anything but true. She was blinded by his power and nothing could be done about it. She was lost.
Severus was sat in his father's old armchair, tapping his fingernails against the worn leather in perfect rhythm, no interval being extended or shortened. He was stuck within his own mind, rewinding the unforgettable moment from when he had travelled to Hogsmeade three weeks ago. Had he not snuck through Hog's Head Inn on that fateful night… what then? He had to tell her. He had to save her, not just Valerie but Lily as well. The Dark Lord had listed them on his agenda and there was no escape.
'Winter, Summer and Spring… Three half-bloods, forever intertwined…'
The four knocks on the door echoed through the young man's childhood home, causing him to brandish his wand as he slowly stepped towards the front door. He wasn't used to feeling paranoia within his being, as he always strived to maintain a calm demeanour. One should only display this type of appearance when trapped inside a position similar to his.
"Who's there," asked Severus as he pointed his wand firmly at the door.
"Surely, you haven't forgotten our arrangement today, Severus. Would you be so kind as to let me in?" Relief washed over him as he calmly unlocked the door to allow the old man inside of his home. Closing the door behind Dumbledore briskly, Severus led him to his living room where the Headmaster sat comfortably near the rickety table next to the dust-ridden bookshelf. Severus remained standing as he looked down at the Professor with pleading eyes.
"The boy was born three days ago, Professor… The prophecy is coming into light. What am I to do?"
"You called me here, not because of your own endeavours, but for someone else. Am I correct?" Severus paced up and down, shaking his head in blatant shame.
"Valerie is with child! The Dark Lord's child! Do you know what this means?!"
"Yes," replied Dumbledore softly. "I understand. It's just as you said. The prophecy is coming into light-"
"She's made a mistake, Albus!" Severus snapped as he whipped his greasy head around to face the old man. "A grave, grave mistake by having his child! E-everything… is going wrong and we cannot do anything! Because right now, as long as that boy is hidden under the Dark Lord's wing… it'll be the end."
"Well? Aren't you going to say anything?!" Dumbledore simply stood up from his seat and walked over to Severus with so much imposing presence that the younger man nearly cowered backwards. Face to face, Severus met the baby blue eyes of the greatest wizard of his time, unable to read those flickers and gleams that glistened infrequently within. He felt a soft hand on his left shoulder, followed by a light squeeze.
"Sometimes, we cannot do the things that we must. We can only hope for the best to happen in the darkest of times."
"I trust you, Severus. I genuinely mean that with the entirety of my heart. Do not break… that trust. You understand?"
"Yes, Professor… I do."
Man, I love doing these flashbacks. Too bad that this will probably be the last one until a long way forward. Don't want to spill everything now, do I?
Theodore and Viripin are reunited again, guys! Theodore could possibly be in big trouble because he used magic in self-defence against a 'crazed gorilla wolf' dog that attacked him for no reason, and Hermione has him on the brain a little too often these days. Now what could possibly happen in the third year? Hope you enjoyed this one. Later.