Progeny of Slytherin: The Beginning of the Riddle

Back Where We Belong

Theodore smacked the side of his face with his hand as he slowly lifted himself from under his duvet cover, completely unaware of where he was at that moment. He squinted at the beaming light coming through the window in the corner and rubbed his eyes to see clearer. As he panned his eyes across the fourth-year dormitory where his roommates where sleeping soundly, Theodore was trying to recount the dream that he had during the night, something that made him feel 'buzzy' and nice inside. Falling asleep the night before was so easy, especially after Hermione kissed him on the cheek right there…

He pressed his palm against his chest and breathed out heavily before he got out of bed. Seamus was squirming around in his own, while Dean had his long legs sticking out from the side as he snored loudly.

Theodore ruffled his messy hair and grabbed his wand from underneath his pillow, then he knelt down to open up his trunk near the bottom of the bed to take out his uniform.

'OK, Theodore, this year is not going to be about chasing Death Eaters or terrorising the school. You're just going to get through this year by beating everyone else; finding out about that symbol; do that stupid apprenticeship; at least be able to talk properly with Professor Snape, and especially beat Hermione at the wager. And also see if she would…'

Theodore looked down at his bare ankle to see Viripin sliding next to it and curling herself over his thigh and around his back until she rested her head on his shoulder, seemingly happy at a time like this.

"Since when do you wake up at this time?" asked Theodore with a grin as he threw his robes on his bed, followed by his wand.

"I could barely sleep last night," admitted the Maibian Adder cheerfully. "I was thinking about both of you!"

"Both of us…?"

Viripin flicked her tongue in his ear and hissed, "You and Hermione! Come on, don't you play dumb! You told me yesterday that you really like her, didn't you?"

"I know what I said," he responded quietly.

"Well…? Now that you finally admitted to liking her — you took an extremely long time to do so — there's only one thing to do now: ask her out."

Theodore's insides squeezed tightly, and his face began to burn up. "I-I can't ask her out! I mean — I mean like… like not now… we've only just got back, you know…"

"So you're waiting until the moment is right," said Viripin as she stretched herself to directly face the blushing Parselmouth, "probably after a hardcore study session between the both of you in the library, or when you're both down here in the dead of the night — ooo! When you're both down at Hogsmeade together! The possibilities are endless —!"

Theodore clamped her mouth shut when Seamus began to lift his head from his pillow before flopping back down again. He released his grip on her and muttered, "Let's just calm down and get through the first day of school, OK? I haven't even left the dorm yet."

"I'm sorry. I'm just so happy right now — you don't know how much stress is leaving me when you're actually talking to me about girls. I'm so proud of you —!"

The Parselmouth closed her mouth again and grabbed his uniform to get clean. As he left the quiet dormitory, Theodore's heart was still pounding in his chest, all because he couldn't take his mind off of Hermione. She was becoming less of a competitor and more of a distraction to him — the good sort of distraction that isn't really even a distraction at all if he thought hard about it.

'Stop drooling, you idiot. Get a hold of yourself. At the moment, you're both just friends. Just friends… sure…'

Theodore checked the time and saw that he was ridiculously early according to when everybody had to wake up: he was somewhere around two hours early — it wasn't like he had never done that before. The common room was warm and empty, save for three boys that were sitting near the fireplace. Colin and Dennis immediately sprung up from the squashy blob and leapt in front of him to ask a barrage of questions, only for Theodore to shut them down mercilessly when 'reminding' (almost-threatening was the appropriate term) them of Dumbledore's words at yesterday's feast.

The Creevey brothers both slunk off back to the squashy blob while Theodore decided to head straight down to the Great Hall since he would rather be moving than sitting still. Gervaise was sitting in the corner at the tables, struggling to do his tie until he brought his wand out and gave it a mere flick, which made it perfect. Theodore raised his eyebrow, feeling a little impressed before climbing out of the portrait hole and to the Great Hall.

"Took you guys long enough," said Theodore when Harry, Ron and Hermione sat down at Gryffindor table once the Great Hall started to fill up. "I've been trying to get people off my back ever since I got here."

"They'll still be on your back, regardless if we're here or not, and good morning to you too." Hermione sat on Theodore's right side and forced him to budge up against Neville on his left when Elvira planted herself next to Hermione. "Sorry, Theodore. Thanks, George."

Theodore wriggled his arms from their tight space and took his timetable from George's hand and wriggled once more to get closer to the table. Setting it aside for the time being, he filled his plate with the usual as his mind drifted away from the brewing conversations around him and to what he amassed over the past few months. The rune underneath his wand that was the exact same as the pendant Dumbledore was wearing in the photo — he had to know what that was.

'I wonder if Dumbledore will tell me anything if I ask him. Obviously, I shouldn't ask him outright: he always knows whatever I'm up to. But this isn't anything bad, right? I'm just learning about my… my dad's wand… I have to give it to him…'

"… can't believe it. Theodore, you haven't checked your timetable yet," said Hermione as the Parselmouth wiped the grease off his mouth.

Theodore picked his timetable up and read, "Herbology in the morning… huh. I've got a free period after that. Double Divination." He groaned. "Kill me now…"

"Should've taken the same subjects as me," murmured Hermione through pursed lips.

"Not a lunatic, remember?" Theodore shot back similarly. He suddenly lifted his head at the army of owls swooping down above the tables dropping parcels for everyone below to catch. Hedwig came flying down next to an eager Harry as he unwrapped a brown box from, presumably, Sirius while several other birds circled beneath the enchanted sky. "Ron, what happened to your eagle? Isn't it getting better?"

Ron carefully reached inside his robes and brought out the Golden Eagle that was pecking delicately at his fingers before shrinking away from the numerous gazes. "It's all right, Aquilina. Here, I'll put you back inside. She's still really shy, but she likes me a lot. After I fed her and opened her cage, she wasn't snappy anymore. I mean, she still is but not with me."

"Aquilina?" said Hermione with a hand on her chin. "Like… like the Greek witch, the one who summoned thousands of eagles to fight an army to protect her home?"

"Jesus, Hermione, I just thought it was a cool name. Where did you even find that out?"

"Is that a serious question?" Theodore asked a little teasingly, pushing his plate forward and opting to go to the greenhouses, before asking Harry about his package. Harry decided to open it for later and stuffed it in his bag before they left the Great Hall for their first lesson of the year.

Just before they left for Herbology, Theodore pressed against his temples tightly as the sudden rush came flooding in from everybody around him, then coming to a sudden stop. "How much longer is this going to go on for…?"

The fourth-years all made their way to greenhouse three where Professor Sprout had prepared Bubotubers for them to squeeze. Theodore had managed to occupy himself with squeezing the pus out of the revolting-looking plant for a short before he was put off when it accidentally missed his bottle and splashed onto his shoes.

"Don't worry, Riddle, it won't eat through your foot," assured Professor Sprout as she quickly waved her wand to clear away the pus, "it'll just discolour your skin, maybe even grow on it as well. Mostly harmless."

Taking her reassurance with a grain of salt, Theodore made sure to burst the Bubotubers far away from his body and carefully poured the pus in the bottles for the rest of the lesson.

"It gets worse every year," complained Ron as he attempted to cover up a stain on his leg. "Actually, can you get any worse than Devil's Snare? The stuff nearly killed us in our first year. There you are, Aquilina, get some fresh air…"

The four briskly left the greenhouses as they put their dragon-hide gloves away and headed for Hagrid's cabin with the rest of the Gryffindors, including Theodore.

"You don't take Care for Magical Creatures, do you?" asked Seamus as he spotted Theodore trotting down behind the group.

"Nah. I've got a free period right about now. Just want to see what you guys are going to be up to," Theodore replied, going on his tiptoes to see Hagrid holding Fang, surrounded by open wooden crates.

As soon as they reached Hagrid's home, everybody immediately leapt backwards from the violent shaking and explosions that emanated from the boxes themselves. Hagrid, being completely oblivious to the boxes, rocked on his ankles happily and greeted everybody until he saw Theodore standing cautiously behind Harry.

"Mornin' all! Hope yeh all had a great summer and all — Theo? I don' think tha' yeh're on me register…" Theodore told him that he had a free period and was merely curious to see his class. Hagrid grinned even wider and said, "Well, yeh're all in fer a real trea'! Take a look, all o' yeh!"

They all took a step forward and leaned over the box, then they moved back, much further than where they were standing before. Theodore had seen possibly one of the worst things about the magical world, one of them being a naked troll, but this was certainly up there.

"They're called Blast-Ended Skrewts, and they — hey, Theo? Where are yeh goin'?"

Theodore spun around on his feet and awkwardly scratched his arm. "I just remembered that Professor Dumbledore wanted to see me right after my first lesson. Yeah, that's it." 'Like hell am I ever going near those things again.'

Hagrid shrugged his shoulders and called the rest of the class to come in closer as they all glared at Theodore with envy as he walked away from the cabin. Hermione gave him a small wave which he returned with a sarcastic thumbs up for good luck during the lesson, earning a pout from her that made him smile.

As he returned to the castle and butted shoulders with Draco, who didn't apologise at all, Theodore casually ignored it, taking in a deep breath and sighing as he stared around the Entrance Hall that was slowly starting to diminish in numbers of students. Some gave him a quick pat on the back and waves from afar, others, especially girls at the most a year or two above, winked and 'lightly' brushed past him before going to their lessons.

He avoided a large group of second-years trying to follow him up the marble steps when they were caught by Professor McGonagall outside her door, and he settled somewhere near the entrance of the library where he could see a few stragglers getting into their classrooms.

'OK, so it's decided: give the wand to Dumbledore — maybe try and worm out anything about that symbol, then use the rest of your free time to get that Patronus down —'

Theodore hissed when he felt somebody painfully smacking into his face and nearly sending him backwards. "Look where you're walking, for fuck sakes! What's wrong with you?!"

"Sorry! I — sorry!" stammered the boy who bumped into him, who Theodore recognised as Gervaise's older brother. He was just a little shorter than Theodore, and his hair was styled in a similar way: acceptably messy.

The boy had a large bag slung over his back, most likely that he had a free period in the library and a book at his feet which he scrambled to pick up. "I wasn't looking to where I was going — I'm sorry," he said meekly from the floor.

"You already apologised," said Theodore flatly as he rubbed the area where it hurt the most. "I haven't seen you before, you know —"

The Ravenclaw boy's cheeks went red as he tucked his book underneath his armpit and quickly excused himself into the library where Theodore could see his entire face burning with redness for some reason. The Parselmouth stared at the library door, unable to come up with another reason for the Ravenclaw's odd behaviour other than him having some sort of fever.

'Weird…'

He then snapped back to what he planned to do and made his way up to the common room to grab what he needed. Once he reached the dorm room, Theodore quickly took his father's wand, said goodbye again to Viripin and then left for Dumbledore's office. Theodore didn't worry so much that he didn't have the password, seeing as how they were always related to the previous one somehow, or that they never changed.

He steadily walked down the corridor which ended with the gargoyle, and before he could open his mouth to speak the first password on his mind, the gargoyle opened up its mouth and muttered, "The Headmaster is not in his office."

"But what if I have the password?" Theodore questioned. "Can't I still go in?"

"The Headmaster is not in his office," repeated the gargoyle in a similar, dead tone. "He's teaching classes at the moment, so if — speak of the devil…"

"Ahh, Theodore! What brings you up here?" Dumbledore was casually strolling along the hallway towards the Parselmouth and gargoyle with a curious smile on his face and a book titled Divine Divination in his hands.

"I just wanted to talk about something since I've got a free period. But Professor, I thought that you have to teach classes right now — two, in fact."

"Let's discuss this inside, shall we? I've done an awful amount of walking recently," said Dumbledore cheerfully before saying 'Apple Twisters' to the gargoyle.

Theodore scratched his head at what he said about Dumbledore teaching two classes, knowing that it was impossible for him to be at Defence and Divination at the same time. He continued to remain confused as he followed Dumbledore into his office, said a brief hello to a sickly-looking Fawkes and sat down in front of Dumbledore's desk.

"You had quite the interesting summer, haven't you? A lot of moving around, so I've heard."

"Yeah, I went to a lot of places, more than I ever have during any summer. It was good to get out of Stuggle's for a while."

Dumbledore raised the book in the air, and it zoomed off into his personal library where it slotted in perfectly, whilst saying, "Your summer sounded a lot more active than my own, that's for sure. Anyway, back to you, Theodore. Is there a reason you decided to visit me today?"

Wasting no time at all, Theodore reached into his robes and took out his father's wand which he placed on the desk. Dumbledore squinted his eyes just a little at the wand before his head slowly pulled away with very, very minor shock in his eyes.

"I got it from Pettigrew when he dropped it in Hogsmeade," Theodore answered the question that was sure to come out of Dumbledore. "You recognise it, don't you? It's my father's wand."

"And you're sure of this?" Dumbledore took it up in his hand and eyed it carefully in an identical manner to Ollivander. "Theodore, no trace of Voldemort that night was found, not even his wand. Unless you're saying that Peter kept the wand for safekeeping."

"That's exactly what I'm saying. And look at it, Professor! It — it suits him perfectly! How could this not be his —?"

"I believe you, Theodore. The only time I ever saw your father's wand was at school, and it never looked a thing like this," interrupted the old man before placing it on the table. "Have you used this wand before?"

Theodore nodded and told him about the times where it worked a little too well for him, vibrating, nearly jumping in his hands whenever he'd touch it. He asked what it could mean by that, and Dumbledore took longer than usual to answer his question. Almost as if he didn't want to.

"Do you know the relationship between Harry's wand and your father's?" asked Dumbledore finally.

"They both have a phoenix feather as a core. That's as much as it goes for what I know about it."

"So he hasn't told you. That's understandable. A little-known fact only shared between Harry, Garrick, me and now you is that the feather from your father's wand was taken from the same phoenix that gave the feather in Harry's own," Dumbledore revealed casually.

Theodore raised his eyebrows in curiosity and shock. "So… that's why they were acting weird with each other? Because they both have feathers from the same bird?"

"That bird in particular," pointed the old man to Fawkes plucking away at his withering feathers. "You see, Theodore, wands with cores coming from the same animal gives those wands, and the owners by extension, a deeper connection than most other wizards. The wands are technically brothers in some sense."

"But why was this wand working so well for me when it's not mine? I've never used a different one before, and I don't have a deeper connection with Harry, other than the fact that we're cousins," Theodore added, thinking back to the time where golden threads appeared between the two wands before breaking off. "How was I able to use it?"

"It'll come as a shock to you for what I've thought in mind."

"You can tell me."

Dumbledore positioned his beard off his lap and slid his chair closer to the desk, his face tightening a little to show that he was serious. "Perhaps the reason why the wand worked so well for you is that it could sense traces of your father inside of you. After all —"

"Magic leaves traces," whispered Theodore. "Especially Dark magic…"

Dumbledore looked at the teen a little uneasily before carrying on. "Naturally. And when you held it in your hand, it thought of you as its old master returning to a body once again, yet it must've recognised that it wasn't all Tom. Now your father's wand must've recognised Harry's wand as its twin, and Harry himself as its master's enemy. With you holding it in hand, and Harry possibly being beside you, old actions are possibly forced out because of these odd circumstances."

"Old actions? What, of the wand? What old actions?"

"Theodore, what despicable act has this wand tried to perform that involved its master's enemy?" Dumbledore asked almost gravely.

"It wanted to kill him?"

The old man's eye twitched as he twisted his head just a little as if to say it could be a theory. Theodore sat back and swallowed uneasily: it only made holding the wand even worse when it harboured his father's murderous tendencies. To think that it wanted Harry dead when it was he who had in his hand…

"Professor," spoke the Parselmouth after the silence became too unsettling for him to remain quiet, "how long have you known Mr Ollivander for?"

"Why do you ask?"

Theodore simply shrugged his shoulders. "Just wanted to know. I mean, we talked a little bit over the summer when I went to Diagon Alley about my wand and some of the stuff it did last year. And… I saw a picture — I think it was you, Mr Ollivander and someone else."

Dumbledore's eyes narrowed just a bit, and Theodore felt something blunt pushing against his mind, like a hand swishing inside a pool of water. Theodore tensed up and sharply drove the sensation away then stood up from his chair. "Actually, Professor, I think I'm just going to go back to the common room to enjoy the rest of my free period."

Theodore turned around and aimed for the door whilst pressing against his temples. Of course, he wasn't going to get anything from Dumbledore. What was he expecting? He guessed that it was up to him to find out about that symbol and about Dumbledore himself. 'And here I was promising myself that I wouldn't look for trouble…'

After Dumbledore courteously said that he'd see him later in Divination, Theodore returned to the common room alone, secluding himself into the dorm with Viripin for the rest of his free period. When it finally came for lunch which was quickly spent in the Great Hall after the rest of the Gryffindors complained about the Skrewts, the bell for the final lesson rang through the school, telling Theodore that it was time for Divination with Dumbledore*.

"This lesson's going to blow away anything that Professor Trelawney has ever taught us," exclaimed Seamus excitedly as they began their way up to the North Tower.

Ron snorted and remarked, "Sure, if you call that teaching — oh, come off it, Parvati, I've been insulting her since last year. You better get used to it because I'm not going to stop now. It's all right, Aquilina, I'm just proving a point."

Hermione broke from the group as she left for Arithmancy, and she was given a small nudge from Theodore who teased that she shouldn't have stormed out from the lesson.

"Theodore, you know that what she was talking about in that lesson was complete… bullshit!" Hermione whispered when Theodore held back as the last one on the stairs.

"There she goes again with the curse words! Hermione, what she said about you being slow and close-minded is obviously not true."

"Well, I was actually talking about her predicting the Grim and all that rubbish," said Hermione with pink cheeks, "but thanks."

Theodore rubbed his arm, feeling himself becoming warm quickly from remembering his conversation with Viripin in the morning. He gave out a small goodbye and hurried up the stairs to catch up with Harry and Ron and felt himself being at ease from forgetting that moment and being filled to the brim with the excitement of their first fun Divination lesson.

"Good afternoon, class!" Dumbledore had opened the windows which the Gryffindors had no idea existed, releasing all the fumes that made them doze off in a normal lesson with Trelawney. The air was fresh and the room was cool, just like how it should've been. "Sit wherever you like!"

Theodore, Harry and Ron immediately jumped on the squashy chairs that replaced the armchairs surrounding the tables, and they chose the ones closest to where Fawkes was perched, still peaky and now shivering.

"Looks like he's about to explode any minute, isn't he?" whispered Ron.

Dumbledore flicked a finger in the air and conjured a notebook and quill once everybody took a squashy chair to sit on and slowly weaved around the tables, checking the names off.

"And that seems to be everybody. This is the fourth-year Gryffindors, correct? Good, good. Now, seeing as this is quite figuratively and literally the most distant subject in this castle, I must be frank that I haven't got that much of a clue as to what I should be doing."

The whole class laughed; even Parvati and Lavender couldn't keep it inside themselves.

"But I'm sure that I'm able to recall upon my memory of taking Divination in my fourth year. And yes, I was a young man at some point." Dumbledore cracked a smile when the class fell into laughter again. "Now what did I learn from that dear old Professor Krugle…? Ah, yes! Planetary Symbols and Movement! Everybody please lay back and look up at the ceiling!"

Theodore looked at Harry and Ron and shrugged in sync as they did as they were told. He comfortably dug into his squashy chair and rolled his shoulders, staring at the horribly decorated ceiling with millions of useless things hanging down.

But from the corner of his eye, he saw Dumbledore pull out his wand and silently swish it above their heads, releasing glittery smoke from its tip as if it were a hose. The smoke swirled and swirled around the ceiling until it slowly rained down and filled the classroom. It was difficult to see one another, almost impossible. But Harry and Ron suddenly came into his view when the smoke changed, and it was then he knew what Dumbledore did, or at least understood what he did.

It was like they were all thrown into space, floating through the dark abyss as planets, comets and stars drifted by like lazy insects. Dumbledore looked up proudly at his work and sat down in his own squashy chair as he explained the 'wonders' of the meaning of planets and how they were connected to wizardkind.

And oddly enough, Theodore was hanging onto every single word as he stared at the Earth spinning around the Sun quicker than in reality until it aligned with the other planets and shone brightly until —

"Oh goodness! I think Fawkes has reached his end. Do not worry, Miss Brown, he's quite all right. It was just his Burning Day: a day of reincarnation if you will," explained Dumbledore as he scooped up the ashes and blew them away to reveal the featherless baby Fawkes in his hand.

Somehow, the lesson went on from learning about Uranus — Ron had a fun time playing around with that — to stories about Fawkes and his very first Burning Day. Elvira was the first to hold the baby phoenix and passed him around the class, listening eagerly to Dumbledore telling them how his beard used to be much longer before Fawkes incinerated half of it.

"There's the bell. Now, what good will I be as a temporary replacement if I don't give you any homework? Your assignment for your next lesson is to see which planet is aligned with you and what do you think of their names. Off you go now."

"Best. Divination. Lesson. EVER!" shouted Seamus and Ron when they left the trapdoor and started to make their way to the Great Hall. "How was that the best but shortest Divination lesson we had? Divination! If only Snape was off sick — we'd be making ourselves fly and stuff outside."

"Face it, Seamus," said Theodore, "you'd still be blowing things up."

"Fucking cheeky git…" muttered Seamus under his breath.

The Gryffindors arrived at the Great Hall, high in spirits as their collective positive aura seemingly infected the rest of the Hall with their smiles. Theodore was telling Seamus to be careful with his scab and sat down to start eating.

"Whoa, Hermione! The food's not going anywhere!" said Harry with half a smile on his face as Hermione squirmed her way between Theodore and Dean.

"I've got to eat quickly so I can get to the library before it closes. How was Divination?"

"Um, bloody fantastic! Dumbledore made a spell like the enchanted ceiling which made the entire room feel like we were in space," Ron divulged with crumbs of bread in his hand. "Shame he couldn't make us float around. Dad showed me something about Muggles going up to the Moon. How crazy is that?"

Harry asked Hermione why she was going to the library — he changed it to why she was even more determined to go, to which she said, "I just wanted to look up something I heard about during the summer. Professor Vector has already given us a lot of homework, and it's the first day, so I want to get in as much time as possible."

"Is it about Sirius's trial?"

She shook her head and eagerly started on the lamb slapped upon her plate. Meanwhile, Theodore had suddenly stopped eating when his line of sight was stuck for a while on the Ravenclaw boy that had to be an Ollivander: Gervaise's brother. No, he couldn't have been there at the beginning when they were all sorted. A name like Ollivander would've never slipped by him, not even on his laziest day.

'Then again, that was the day I realised that my mum and Harry had the same surname after knowing that for months beforehand. That's beside the point, Theodore. Ollivander… they're probably a really old wizarding family, especially since Dumbledore knew 'a' Ollivander.'

He shook his head and swirled his fork around the pool of gravy and peas on his plate, then subtly stared at Hermione nearly choking herself as she ate rapidly. 'Why do you find her nearly stuffing her face so… cute, Theo? You're going soft, why deny that? Oh well, it is what it is.'

Theodore gave one final glance at the Ollivander boy and stuck his fork in his mashed potatoes. 'I wonder what family was crazy enough to make my own father. Marvolo, his grandfather, and Tom, his father. Marvolo… it won't hurt if I do a little bit of digging over there, right? All I need is something — a book about old wizarding families and I'm set. It won't hurt to look —'

"Argh…!" winced the Parselmouth when he felt the rush slicing against his mind as it felt sharper these days. "One of these days, I swear I'm going to bash my head in…"

"Still having your headaches?" whispered Hermione, nudging his elbow.

Theodore rubbed his forehead and muttered, "Nothing to worry about. I'm sure they'll go away soon."

"If it's anything like Harry's scar, then you should go to Dumbledore, or to…" She motioned her head towards Professor Snape at the teachers' table, who had his head hung low like always. "Remember, he's going to have to listen to you."

"How could you possibly know that?" smirked the Parselmouth as Hermione pushed her plate away and threw her heavy bag around her back whilst squeezing her way out between the two boys.

"I saw you two talking on the day of Sirius's trial. You guys looked… fairly 'casual', and I use the word loosely." Hermione twisted her fingers and lowered her head a little to his level and said in a quieter voice, "Or we could both figure it out if you don't want to talk. You know, together…"

Theodore felt a stupid grin growing and couldn't stop it at all. "T-together? Sure — I mean, I'm still going to ask him, but yeah! I — yeah!"

Hermione brushed her hair behind her ear and said goodbye before quickly leaving the Great Hall to the library. Theodore watched her hair bounce as his insides felt twisty and warm like he downed a pint of the best Butterbeer ever produced. It was getting more and more intense, and he cared less and less whenever it came over him —

Theodore seethed again in pain and held his temples tightly. He told Ron and Harry that he was all right, but the moment the pain left him he turned over to see his godfather walking through the door near the teacher's table and going directly to the dungeons. He and Dumbledore spoke about him needing his help specifically, something to do with Occlumens, whatever that was. Theodore didn't care if it was Dumbledore or his godfather to help: he couldn't handle another week living with this, let alone the rest of the year.

'Marvolo…'

Theodore tried his best to search for anything during the following day at the times which he had to himself to recover anything about 'Occlumens' and whoever Marvolo was. As usual, they were dead ends, but he had barely devoted any time to looking at all. Potions ran quickly in the morning with Professor Snape still being the same albeit a little more reserved than usual — he only took away five points from Neville when he dropped an empty cauldron instead of the usual twenty. By the time the lesson was finished, Theodore had no time to stay back to talk to him about 'Occlumens'. And not only did he have to find what that is and who Marvolo was, but there was the symbol worn by Dumbledore. So many things to look for.

"Did you know that we're going to be learning about dead languages and texts this year? Gosh, I'm so excited! I was hoping that we could learn more about the things from last year when we had to decipher those hieroglyphics with hidden incantations in them…" Hermione rattled on as she walked next to Theodore towards Ancient Runes.

She held her two new books to her chest as she rambled on some more, not noticing that Theodore had his eyebrow lifted from how much talking she could manage without letting somebody else get a word in. Some things would never change he guessed.

"… but I'm sure it'll prepare us for our OWLs next year, and then it'll be NEWTs as well. You are taking Ancient Runes for NEWTs, right?"

"Forgot I was here, did you? Sure, I'm taking it for NEWTs; Divination not so much. Unless Trelawney somehow never comes back, and we keep Dumbledore forever." He couldn't believe that he was already past the halfway point from finishing Hogwarts.

"Are you going to Potions today?" Hermione asked quietly when a couple of Ravenclaw first-years flooded the corridors after a flying lesson outside. When Theodore nodded yes, she brushed her hair back and asked if she could come with him.

"But, Hermione, you've never asked before," Theodore clarified with a grin. "You don't have to start now. It's not like I'm…" The Ollivander Ravenclaw boy was at the very far end of the corridor and turned left into where only one classroom could be: Professor Babbling's.

"Hello?" Hermione shook him slightly by the shoulder. "You were about to say something."

"Yeah. Yeah, come with me — I mean, I want you to come with me. Come on, we're going to be late," said the Parselmouth, striding forward to Ancient Runes as Hermione matched his pace with an unusually stupid smile on her face.

They both entered the class as the second to last ones and sat down in the same seats from the previous year, right near the back. Nott closed the door firmly behind him and nearly glided through the classroom to his desk two seats in front of Theodore by himself, and Theodore saw the Ollivander boy sat on the far right of the classroom: two boys who have piqued his interest.

Professor Babbling flicked her wand and charmed the stack of parchment booklets on her desk to fly to each person and said, "All right, did everybody have a nice summer? Good, good. Now, the register: Terry!"

"Here."

"Mandy!"

"Here, Professor."

"Stephan!"

"Here."

"Anthony!"

"Here."

"Hermione!"

"Here, Professor Babbling!"

"Daphne!"

"Here."

The register went on and on as Theodore listened carefully when it went further along the —

"Gioveri — oh! We have a new one, and it seems like you're from somewhere familiar! An Ollivander, is it?"

The Ollivander boy lifted his head and nodded stiffly before hanging it down again.

Professor Babbling finished the rest of the register and began with the class, starting off with telling them what they were to expect throughout the year and the current lesson. "Now, understand that there are multiple languages that are dead or otherwise dying due to many factors within the wizarding world across the globe. The most common reason is that it will literally die out with those who understand the language being unable to pass it on to family for example.

"The revival of some dead languages have dark and forbidden techniques which I'm afraid that you'll have to wait until NEWTs, if you decide to take this. Some of these dark languages are well known in a sense of them existing but not actually understanding. One extremely rare case being, as you know, Parseltongue."

Theodore's eyes lit up. They were going to learn about Parseltongue? In detail, and how it related to Ancient Runes?

"The origins of Parseltongue is very much unknown. One of our very founders, Salazar Slytherin, was a Parselmouth himself, and some say that he left many things to his supposed heir: The Chamber of Secrets; an heirloom; possibly scriptures of… well, wouldn't we like to know? Some have speculated that acquiring Parseltongue requires sacrificial ritual upon ritual, but we won't get into that."

Theodore fell back in his chair a little disappointedly that they barely touched upon Parseltongue. It was one of the only things that he inherited from his father that he didn't hate at all at the moment because of Viripin, and he barely knew a thing about it. Then again, he had a lot on his plate during the past three years.

"Oh my God," Hermione nearly retched next to him. "It's one thing to make a single sacrifice, but multiple ones for one thing? It's sickening that people would do that! Gosh, it reminds me of those Inheritance Tests Ron talked about during the summer."

Hermione saw Theodore tapping the table with his eyes focused on the window to their left. "It's that why you were in the library? Because of the Inheritance Tests?"

She nodded and continued, "Did you know that fifteen Muggleborns suffered from them last year? Seven of them died, three went missing, and five currently have curses which I wished I never read about. They're all in the History Bank in the library. Couldn't believe that nobody has done a thing about it." A glint of madness in her eyes, the same one Theodore was sure that he got from times to times told him that a crazy idea was brewing in her mind.

The lesson carried on until the bells rang loudly for the end of classes. Professor Babbling assigned them all to pick a language that they mentioned in the class and write a double-sided summary of what they could find about it. Theodore waited for everybody else to leave the room until it was just him and Professor Babbling together.

'Should've gone to her first instead of Dumbledore. What a reckless move.' "Professor, can I ask you something, please?"

"Go ahead, but you have to be quick. My quarters are on the other side of the castle. What is it?"

Theodore took a piece of parchment from his bag and his quill, and he carefully drew the triangle with the circle and line going down the middle. He lifted it up and asked, "Do you recognise this symbol or seen it before?"

She took it with curiosity and gazed upon the strange symbol, tracing her finger along the dried ink as if she'd grab the answer quicker that way. A few more seconds of silence. "There's not much that I can tell you. I haven't seen this symbol anywhere, Mr Riddle, but… my best guess is that it could belong to an ancient, most likely dead family. Back then, family crests were very simplistic compared to now. Satisfied?"

"Very much. Thank you, Professor," said the Parselmouth truthfully as he took the parchment away and left the classroom. Hermione was standing by the door with her books still in her hands, staring out through the windows until he walked out into the corridor and started their way to the dungeons.

They parted ways at the Entrance Hall when Hermione told him that she needed to be at the library again. Theodore barely got out a goodbye as she rushed to the corridor that led to the library. She was definitely up to something; that was for sure. But Theodore turned and aimed to the dungeons, now focusing on what was about to happen and — he had no clue on how to say it.

"OK, so my head is hurting, only that it's not really my head but my mind. I heard you and Dumbledore talking about me and… this sounds shit. Just ask what's an Occlumens and see if it'll help you, right… now." Professor Snape's door was right in front of him. Not wanting to dwell on what words he should say any further, he pressed his palm against it and felt it swing open.

Theodore peeked his head inside, but he didn't see a single thing move. He slowly entered the empty classroom and closed the door behind him, just in case somebody for some reason decided to scare him. He walked further into the class, staring over at the hidden portrait where Professor Snape came in as an Animagus, half-expecting a greasy raven to come fluttering through. Nothing. Charmed quills were scribbling and signing parchments that were being stacked on the other side of the desk, and a large cauldron was frothing with pink bubbles dripping down the sides at the back.

"Guess I'll wait then. I wonder what he's doing wherever he is." Theodore sat down at his usual place and threw his bag on the ground; he took out his wand and closed his eyes. His mind slowly fell into what made him happy… his mother's face… "Expecto Patronum!"

Bright, nearly overwhelming silver vapour burst from the tip of his wand as it filled the entire classroom. Theodore's eyes lingered in the air in search of any animal, but… nothing… He tried it again, thinking about his mother alive with him. All silver vapour, but no animal. Again and again, nothing more than mist escaping from his wand.

"How the hell did Harry do it so easily? I'm sure that I'm missing something over here." He looked up at the clock to see that he spent the past thirty minutes perfecting his Patronus instead of finding out what an Occlumens was with Professor Snape. There was no point in waiting any further: he wasn't coming, and Theodore was tired. He stashed his wand away, picked his bag up and left the dungeons.

'Why does it feel like it's halfway through the year already? I haven't gotten anywhere except for Professor Babbling's answer. If it is a family crest then —"

"Oh, hello! I didn't see you there," spoke an airy voice behind Theodore as he was halfway up the marble stairway. Luna was just at the bottom of the steps with three large rings made up of thin wood in her hand, all linked together like a chain. Her eyes were still as wide, and her hair was still the exact same.

"Hi, Luna."

"I don't think I've told you my name before, have I?"

"Well… I remembered when you were sorted, and when you were…"

"Attacked, yes," she finished casually as she went up a few steps with Theodore walking alongside her. "We never actually found out who was the Heir of Slytherin after all. I've got a few ideas, but it's too late now."

Theodore just nodded his head and turned left into a corridor. Luna did the same. "So how was it catching a Death Eater? Daddy wrote about you in his paper, you know. It's called the Quibbler. He said that he tried to speak with you, but you ignored him."

"What?" spluttered the Parselmouth. "I didn't ignore anyone! He must've — I didn't see him at all, even if I could remember his face. There were loads of people trying to talk to me, so it wasn't my fault."

Luna threw the rings in the air, and they drifted above her head like halos as she said, "Daddy thought that too and didn't feel bad at all. He said that he read you just like that and knew instantly what you were."

Theodore's insides twisted. He was almost outed as Voldemort's son and as a Parselmouth, and Luna was attacked by the Basilisk under his command. He only read the Quibbler once and knew how little attention it garnered compared to the Daily Prophet, but he could've said anything —

"You're part-Veela," Luna finally said, smiling with a raised eyebrow.

"What?"

"Part-Veela, that's what you are, right? I've seen a lot of people giving you cards and presents when it's your birthday, especially the girls in my House. You can't do that if you haven't got some Veela blood inside you —"

"Hold on just a minute," Theodore interjected, completely dumbfounded, "let me think about this for a moment. You think that I, I, am part Veela? In what world would that make any sense? Seriously, I mean — what?"

The rings sprinkled something that looked like snow in Luna's hair. "Aren't Veelas supposed to be unrealistically attractive?"

"Did you just call me — no, Luna, I am not part-Veela. Wait, did your dad write that in his paper —?" Theodore held back his rant when he saw Gioveri brushing between the both of them and hopping onto a moving staircase with an owl perched on his shoulder. He didn't look back at all, keeping his stare firmly up at all the other staircases moving around.

"Wrigwall Powder is very good for your thoughts," offered Luna, catching the rings and handing them over to Theodore. "It could help relax you if you become too stressed from your uncontrollable entrancing of —"

"I am not part-Veela," frowned the aggravated Parselmouth before he jumped onto a moving staircase, leaving Luna humming behind him. He knew from his very brief conversation with Luna that she was odd, but this was something else. He, part-Veela? He'd laugh in her face if he didn't find the idea ridiculous.

Theodore reached the Fat Lady's portrait and climbed through, holding his head tightly when he felt the overwhelming rush coming from the rest of the Gryffindors. Ginny came over and asked if he was OK, then told him that Ron went looking for him. Theodore said that he was all right and walked up to the dormitory, still resisting the emotions and thoughts that were drilling into his mind.

"Fucking hell," he gritted as he kicked his shoes off and threw his robes on the bed. "I can't deal with this anymore…"

"You all right?" asked Harry from his bed. Viripin was draped around his shoulders and lifted her head in concern when she heard Theodore hiss in pain.

Theodore rubbed his eyes and muttered, "Yeah, yeah. It's just these stupid headaches. I can't seem to get rid of them."

"Go to Madam Pomfrey," hissed Viripin. She grew wings on her back and flapped her way across to Theodore's lap to nuzzle against his chin. "You should've done that this morning."

"The thing is that I don't think it's a normal headache. It comes and goes at random times, and it's getting worse the more it happens." Harry didn't say anything and looked away through the window right above his bed. Theodore stroked Viripin without looking at her, still being able to feel the lingering pain of the rush from before. Why couldn't he do anything about it? "Harry, is your scar still hurting?"

"Not really," Harry responded as he climbed out of his bed to stretch. "Had a weird dream yesterday about… walking somewhere near a forest. There was a — a dog, then there was a family of people, and then after that was a graveyard and a manor which looked all dirty and stuff. I don't know, man, it was hard to make out."

"Do you think he's moving?" Theodore finally asked. "The last time we both saw him was when he didn't have a body, but maybe he does have one. Could be why you're getting all these dreams."

"Yeah, but it doesn't hurt like the last time. And if he did have a body, then why isn't he blowing the place up, trying to kill me?"

Theodore shrugged. He only technically met his father once in his life. He knew that when Death Eaters were strong and powerful, they operated in secrecy: his mother being an example. She was a spy, not a kidnapper. If his father did have a body, then he was being quiet and secretive, waiting for the perfect moment to strike…

The door swung open, and Ron briskly walked inside with a red face, huffing and puffing with a finger pointed at Theodore. "You — where were — you?"

"I already told you that he was with Snape in the dungeons," said Hermione, rolling her eyes as she walked inside the room.

"You know you can't keep on walking in here like this," mentioned Theodore when he let Viripin down in her enlarged basket with a pile of mice inside. "It's called the boys' dorm for a reason."

"I just came to give you guys this." She handed out silver coins that had nothing on them except for two crosses on each side. "Hold onto them; you'll understand later."

"Sometimes, I just don't understand her," murmured Ron, shaking his head as Hermione disappeared down the stairway. He pocketed the coin and took Aquilina out to treat her wing with a small vial of a potion, which he dripped in her beak.

"Ron, is there a book about wizarding families? To be more specific: pure-bloods?"

Ron looked over his shoulder and looked at Theodore confusingly. Theodore, however, didn't twitch. "I think there's a book about it. Something to do with the Sacred Twenty-Nine? Apparently, it's supposed to record the last 'pure' families left in Britain. Made by this guy called… Nott, I think?"

The excitement was filling the Parselmouth up, but he contained himself. "Nott, you say? Like the one in Slytherin?"

"Yeah… why so interested?"

Theodore shrugged and kicked back on his pillow. "I don't know. I've been thinking a lot about what family I come from. The other family. It doesn't hurt to search for something, right?"

"But I thought you didn't want to know anything about them," Harry spoke up in a lowered voice.

"I know what I said, it's just… good or bad, it shouldn't stop you from finding more about where you came from. If my dad's a half-blood, then obviously his mum had to be a witch, right? From a wizarding family. I just want to know, that's all."

One leg was on top of the other as he wagged his right foot around whilst staring up at the tapestries. A book about pure-blooded families that was made by somebody called Nott. Surely, the other Theodore would know everything about the 'Sacred Twenty-Nine'. If he couldn't find it in the library, then maybe he'd have it on him. 'I'm sure he'll have it on him. Maybe I'll see if he'll be friendly enough to let me borrow it for a while so that I can see if there's anything to do with that symbol and Marvolo.'

He heard Ron scream with joy as he jumped up and down at the sight of Aquilina zooming across the ceiling and smacking right into his face. He hissed in pain but didn't lose his happiness as he cradled the baby eagle in his hand and dropped seeds on his hand for her to eat.

'On second thought, I'll just do this all on the weekend. No need to rush this time, Theo. You've got all the time in the world.'

The three boys then went down for dinner and hurried back up when the weight in their stomachs told them that it was time for bed. Seamus chucked a Muggle magazine of naked women posing, which he seemed to have charmed quite effectively, onto Theodore's bed, apparently still having spares after Dean 'lost' them at the Great Lake.

"The one time he doesn't blow things up it comes to this," whispered Dean disappointedly in Theodore's ear when the girl on the front cover blew a kiss at them.

Theodore threw the magazine back at Seamus's face and got himself changed for bed. Dean, Seamus and Neville then gathered around the middle of the room and demanded that they tell the whole story in detail from the beginning till end. Ron was eager to speak his part, but Theodore insisted that he wanted to go bed.

"Of course the Veela wants to go to sleep," teased Ron when Theodore threw the covers over his head. He chuckled when he saw Theodore lift his middle finger up at him and began the story with Harry, who didn't seem all that excited to speak, unlike Ron.

Theodore closed his eyes, thinking vaguely about the Riddles and their 'tragedy', whatever it was. How could somebody who utterly despised Muggles come from a family of them? Be named by them? Theodore tried to keep his diminishing thoughts from slipping away, hanging onto the name Marvolo, his great-grandfather, but it drifted away, only to be replaced by the image of bushy hair, wonderful brown eyes and lips that he wished that he could just…

Finally… it had been weeks since he could feel something again. The air licking against 'his' skin, the damp stones pressing on the soles of 'his' feet. He looked down at his hands and observed them properly, checking the childlike softness and appearance of his fingers and bare feet. Then again, he always preferred children: they lasted longer than adults from personal experience. He looked up at the obscured sky from the overhanging trees and squinted: his senses were usually out of control with each new body that he took hold of, but he always got used to it.

There, a few yards from him was the carcass of a Dalmatian, stiff and on its side. Muggle children were so easy to take when they saw a lost mutt hanging by the outskirts of a forest. Although they were most 'unfavourable' to possess, he did commend them on how effective they were. But now wasn't the time. The boy's family were sure to realise by now that he was missing. He closed his eyes firmly and pictured the image from where he wanted to go and…

Everything twisted and turned, widened and thinned, stretched and squashed. Maybe he anticipated too early about his strength. Disapparating was something he did so rarely — he hadn't done it in three years. But he didn't feel anything ripping off him, nothing at all. Good. For a moment there, he was anxious.

The smells of pungent rain and rotting leaves smacked into his face. He leaned back and felt his chest nearly about to explode; he coughed violently and dispelled thick clumps of bloody flesh-like mass from his mouth, spewing them on the concrete ground littered with cigarettes and rubbish. He shook it off. No, he had to shake it off. Some many years in isolation — he couldn't take it anymore.

He leaned against the grimy wall of the inside of a darkened alleyway and breathed heavily. If his sense of direction was correct, then he would be close to the north of France. Some of his notable followers talked about taking refuge over there, should they have failed him. Those were the ones too cowardly to face prison for him. Luckily, if they begged for his mercy, then they would see it as a blessing for his return.

'Geridoeur… another one of my traitorous bunch… he'll be of some use to me when I'll rise again… such tenacity wasted for — no…'

He wasn't in France. He wasn't anywhere close to France. This street… he remembered this street from a lifetime ago. The winding road that led to the junction with an oak tree right in front of the bakery at the corner, and a cul-de-sac that had a pathway leading far, far down to the graveyard… he couldn't be back here. Back where his mother had come from, back where his wretched father and his family had lived… Little Hangleton.

He tried to Disapparate, but it was like his body was refusing to do so. A non-magical body housing the most powerful wizard alive. What was he expecting? He gave up and slid down the wall, hiding in between two mounds of rubbish where rats lazily scoured for food, not even bothering to scurry away from him. His feet had become blistered, his right foot even bleeding from his awkward landing in the alleyway.

Thirteen years it had been. So many years alone and tired. He had failed to destroy a mere baby, living with the shame of his soul, the one thing he held above everything else in this world, drifting aimlessly without a goal in mind. No followers to find him, for they all thought he was dead; that they were in prison waiting for him to liberate them, or most likely dead.

And that old fool has his son under his wing, how he must've twisted his mind against him. If it weren't for him, he would've had him right by his side. Theodore, the one thing that he needed most in the world, taken from him… he needed him, for without him he'd remain as nothing.

Tom laid his weak, small head on a pile of discarded clothes and closed his eyes, feeling the toll of damaging his new body reaching his mind so quickly. The Dark Lord, the one who instilled such raw fear into so many wizards' hearts, forced to remain in a child's body like a parasite, truly alone in this world with nobody to help him… to save him. Nobody…

All right, your boy is feeling better (a bit)! I'm sorry that it took so so long for this chap, but you know… sickness. Anyway, this felt like a little slice of life type chapter to right, and it's a little short. But hey, we're back at school, guys!

Also, what do you think of these little scenes of Voldemort being alone with nobody to help him since a certain rat is in Azkaban?

Anyway, gonna keep it short, hope you liked the chap, make sure you look out for the next one. Later.

P.S: 200 FAVOURITES!

PSplinter09: Let's just say she has definitely not forgotten their faces:)