The pocket watch was ticking quietly, but Theodore could still hear it. His room was cold and damp as if all the joy and happiness that was present on Christmas Day had been washed away. The window would occasionally shut and reopen by itself, and the door would shudder from the draft. The day after Boxing Day was just like any other normal day in the orphanage with nobody talking to him except Louise, the food returning back to its usual quality and the older children becoming spiteful once more. Simeon hadn't changed ever since Theodore bumped into him in the corridor on that day, but other than that it was all the same.
Theodore sat on his bed reading over the note from his childhood that he left behind in the cupboard. It surprisingly looked fresher than he had last seen it, but still had a sense of age to it. He traced over the words repeatedly like he could make sense of it. Something about this letter meant more than what he could see.
He snapped back into focus and stuffed the note in his pocket before going downstairs. The other children were quieter than on Christmas, forming small circles where they would exchange gifts to play with. Nobody took notice of Theodore wearing a distinct scarlet and gold scarf around his neck and face, probably mistaking it for a present. Theodore sat away from the others near the bookcase and tapped the pocket watch. He was careful to not scratch the gleaming glass, or scar the gold exterior. The time read twelve forty-three PM. Lunch was going to be soon. He sighed deeply and sprawled over the rigid table in front of him. He was not liking this quietness.
"Erm, Theodore?" Freddie Hestrude, a tall blonde boy with a freckled face was standing next to the chair opposite Theodore.
"I just wanted to know how your new school is like."
Theodore took some time to absorb the fact that someone else was talking to him, about him. Not telling him that the Madam needed him, or that Gretchen was searching his room. Just a simple question.
"Oh. It's a good school."
"Is it far away?"
"Yeah. Like in another country."
"I heard that it's a school for training animals."
"Training animals? Where did you hear that?"
"Louise told me. Is it true?"
Of course, it would be Louise. Maybe sending Hedwig all the time was not such a good idea after all.
"We don't train animals. It's just a normal school."
"Well, it can't be that normal if you send owls all the way from a different country to here," Freddie said before turning around towards his friends.
Louise had slipped a bit too much about how Theodore was communicating with her during the school term. Granted that it was he that sent Hedwig all the time, she didn't need to tell anyone. It was supposed to be between them.
Theodore stood up to find Louise to talk to her. Sometimes being chatty was not always a good thing. And speaking of the devil…
"Louise, why did you tell Freddie about Hedwig?"
"Who's Hedwig? Is that the name of your owl?"
"It's not my owl and you were supposed to keep it a secret."
Louise sat on the other chair, twirling her fingers through her hair. "Look, I'm sorry for talking about your 'not my owl' bird. I didn't think it was a problem."
"Well, it is considering my school's rules."
"If it's a school rule to not share your owls, then why did you send one to me?"
Oh no. She wasn't trying to turn this back onto him. He had a good reason for what he did. She just couldn't keep quiet.
"I remember a certain somebody saying, 'don't forget me' multiple times before I left! And I was keeping that promise, in case you hadn't noticed!" Theodore snapped before holding himself back when Louise flinched away.
"I said I was sorry…"
Theodore saw her face turn pink with sadness with a hint of anger at her friend's jab flashing through her eyes. He felt bad that he snapped at her for something as small as this.
"Louise, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to-"
"Whatever, Theodore." She stood up and walked off in a huff, not giving Theodore a chance to properly apologise.
The young wizard reached an arm out for her, but pulled it back. Letting her cool off before apologising was the better option. Theodore slowly trudged back to his room to see if any school work could be done. Anything would be better than to be stuck with boredom and a best friend not talking to you on the mind.
He reached his room and pulled out his trunk that was full of his school books and equipment. His wand was also inside because he knew he couldn't resist the temptation to use it, if it were in his pocket. He rummaged through each one, trying to see if any would be of any interest to him.
"I guess I could look ahead," he said to himself as he pulled out his Potions book. Being Snape's new 'helper' was not going to sound all that pleasant, but the least he could do was to impress him. He finally recovered the book and pulled it out to flick through the pages until a flutter and a crash against his window echoed through the room.
Hedwig pecked her beak repeatedly against the glass with an envelope attached to her leg. Theodore didn't remember telling Harry where he lived. The boy opened the window to let the owl come inside and drop the letter off. He took the letter and stroked Hedwig before she flew off back to Hogwarts. The envelope was torn open and the letter was taken out which read:
Christmas at Hogwarts was really fun. You should stay next year, you know. I know you'll like it. I got a jumper from Ron's mother and an Invisibility Cloak! An actual Invisibility Cloak! Ron said that they were rare, but was sure that my one was real. Don't know who sent it though.
I also have to show you something when you get back; it'll blow your mind! Hope you had a Merry Christmas.
An Invisibility Cloak was new to Theodore. He didn't know that there were things like that which existed. For once, he was clueless about another aspect of the magical world. He read over the letter again, then stashed it in his draw. There was no way to reach Harry, so he was stuck in the orphanage, all alone.
"Why didn't I get an owl?!"
The holiday was coming to a wrap; New Year's passed, and the second term was going to begin soon. Louise didn't talk to Theodore for the duration of the break, still sore from their little spat. Theodore acted like he didn't care when she would come around, but in his head, he knew that he was being petty. He didn't want to go back to Hogwarts on bad terms with her. It was stupid and pathetic, the entire situation. But he was going to fix it.
"Riddle, have you packed your things yet?" Gretchen called from down the stairs. She miraculously recovered from her illness on New Year's, spoiling the mood for Theodore when she came back. And just when it was almost nice here.
"I'm almost done!"
"Well, hurry up! My car is running and I'm losing fuel!"
She was lying. Theodore knew fully well that her car was as still as ever, waiting on the edge of the pavement from across the orphanage door.
Theodore was busy folding his clothes and uniform in order as fast as he could. Doing this with three other people made it look easier than on your own. The last long-sleeved shirt was folded and placed inside his suitcase. He zipped it up, hauled it off the ground and out the door. The bag was taxing on his small arms, so he took many breaks in between every five seconds or so. He just made it to the top of the stairway when he decided a longer break was needed. He sat at the top step puffing slowly while rubbing his sore hands.
"You know, you'll break your arms if you pull that down the stairs."
"My arms are not that skinny, Louise."
Even when she didn't want to speak to him, she always managed to break in the end. She walked down midway of the steps and held out her arms. "Staring at me isn't going to bring the suitcase down the stairs either."
"I know that… Thank-"
"Don't mention it, Riddle. I was just saving you a traumatic injury down the steps. You're welcome."
Theodore rolled his eyes as the two lifted the hefty trunk down the stairs. When the two were done, they sat down in exhaustion from the difficulty of the task. Louise felt even weaker when Theodore said that there were still more. Up and down, up and down they went until everything was downstairs and ready to be carelessly dumped into Gretchen's car.
"I'm not coming back till summer."
"That's okay. I only wanted you back for Christmas… since I knew how lonely you'd be over there!" Louise had rushed the second part of that sentence, saving what could've sounded too awkward.
"I wasn't going to be lonely! You were going to be lonely, that's why you wanted me here!"
"Oh please, we both know that's not the truth!" Louise had a smirk on her face.
The wizard shook his head while he chuckled. "Well, I guess that you won't mind that I'm going back to a boarding school that's so far away… So far that it took ages for me to get there… and that you won't see me for a long, long, long…"
"I get it!"
Louise hugged Theodore before lightly punching him in the arm as he left through the door. Gretchen was already in the car, exhibiting the same face as before when he was first going to Hogwarts. He opened the car door when Louise hugged him again from behind, making him especially embarrassed in front of the other children who were watching from the windows. She finally released and walked backwards, waving with no tears compared to before. And again, she went further and further till he could not see her no more. Why did it hurt a little less than before?
Theodore was in the Great Hall feasting on the spectacular food that he had missed for so long. When he got back on the day before term started, Harry and Ron told him and Hermione all about a Mirror of Erised, a mysterious object which revealed what was hidden deep within their hearts. Hermione, being Hermione, scolded them for wandering around the castle during late hours, and for not finding anything about Flamel. Theodore was mostly interested in the Cloak, but the other three held it off. Right now, they had to survive the second term which wasn't looking too good for them.
"Great! First, we don't find anything about Flamel, now Snape's going to referee our next Quidditch match with Hufflepuff! This is… this is…!"
Hermione smacked Ron's arm. "Don't swear!" she hissed.
"Alright, Mum, relax! Anyway, can't you just pretend to be ill? Isn't there another Seeker for the team?"
Harry shook his head. "We can't play if I don't. Oliver would lose it if I dropped out."
Theodore carried on eating while listening to all of this. Considering that Dumbledore trusted Snape, despite being a babbling old man, Theodore did not share the same views with the other three. But he could be wrong. For all he knew, Snape could be creating an elaborate plan for Theodore to help him steal whatever was underneath the trapdoor. It was vague, but still something to think about.
He quickly scoffed the remainder of his food and remembered about helping the Potions Master while quickly packing his things up.
"Where are you off to?" Ron asked.
"Yeah, don't you see that Harry needs our help?"
"As long as Dumbledore is there, then you'll be fine, Harry. Snape isn't going to kill you in front of him, there's no way."
"Okay, but where are you going?"
"To McGonagall," he lied. "I need to give in a late piece of work for her."
"You? Late work? Doesn't go together, but whatever. You're still coming to the match though, right?"
Theodore turned and walked over to the Great Hall doors, then took a left when Neville of all people, hopped across the corridor with his legs bounded tightly together. The passing students pointed fingers as they guffawed at the poor boy.
"Oh, Theo! Thank god! Theo! Malfoy hit me with the Leg-Locker Curse! Please give me the counter-curse!" Neville pleaded.
"I'm kind of in a rush right now."
"Pleeasssse," the frantic boy said as he struggled to keep upright.
"Hermione is inside the Hall; she knows the counter-curse."
"Thanks!" He hopped over to the entrance and disappeared into the Hall.
Theodore sworn he could've heard a large thud behind him, but that wasn't important. He ran through the hallways and down into the dungeons. He then rushed into the classroom which had nobody in sight.
'I come in my own time and you don't show up. Really great.'
Walking around to see if he could entertain himself, Theodore stared at the various vials and jars that contained different potion ingredients. Newt tails, bat entrails and other vile substances. He continued to glance over each container until he paused.
In a cage that was obscured by the door leading to a small cupboard in the corner of Snape's classroom was a snake. Theodore wondered why he never paid attention to that door anyway. The serpent's skin looked murky green and slimy like it had recently shed its skin, but never dried off. Eyes that were a nasty shade of yellow with spots of orange. Quite the exquisite, but sickly creature.
"Looks like an oversized garden snake. I wonder where Snape scooped you up from..."
"I am not a garden snake!"
It happened again. Theodore wasn't surprised that the snake spoke back. It was their language, and he understood it. Of course, he didn't tell anyone else except Dumbledore as he knew that it would cause a riot among everyone. They'd banish him to Slytherin in a second which honestly didn't sound so bad.
"I'm sorry. I didn't know. How long have you been in there?"
"A Parselmouth? In this school? How strange… There hasn't been one since a long time ago."
"Parselmouth is the name of the language?"
"No! It's what you are! How can you be so simple-minded? The last one wasn't as slow as you. In fact, you look quite like that boy from all those years ago…"
Theodore leaned in. This snake knew something. "Wait, so how long have you been here in the castle? And who is this boy that you are referring too?"
"An extraordinary boy. He was gifted, and had deadly ambition just like the Founder of his House, the noble Slytherin himself. But of course, what else could you expect from the Heir of Slytherin...?"
"Heir of Slytherin?! Who was it?! Tell me, please! I need to know!"
The snake lengthened its body and poised its head to Theodore's level to look at him, face to face.
"It was an awful long time ago. I barely remember his name. Dark hair like yours, thin frame… Yessss. It's coming back to me… Tom Riddle..."
The boy's heart felt like it exploded tenfold. His father… His very own father… was the Heir of Slytherin. But that didn't make any sense… yet it did. Slytherin himself was a Parselmouth, and so was he. That must've meant that his father was one as well. How could he overlook that? It was so clear now that he thought about it!
"Why the look of surprise, Parselmouth?"
"That boy that you mentioned, Tom Riddle? That's my father! My name is Theodore Riddle."
The snake flickered its tongue as it made the connection. "Ah yes, I see! You have a striking similarity! And here I thought the lineage of Slytherin died with him."
"You know that he's dead?"
"Well, the pathway that he chose to take would only result in one's death," hissed the snake as it lowered its head once more to flick its tongue over the scraps of skin that were scattered along the base of the cage.
Theodore could not believe that a simple snake such as this one could reveal so much to him. He had the blood of Slytherin running through him, but he wasn't in his House. It almost seemed insulting. He would keep this all in the back of his mind until he would be alone in the common room. Right now, Snape was neglecting his time and was sure to not come.
"Snape doesn't look like he's going to show up anytime soon, so I better get going."
"Wait! My dear boy, I've been trapped inside this container for almost fifty years, milked of my body parts for useless children! I beg of you, please release me from my bondage! Please!"
Theodore looked over to the classroom doors, then turned back to say, "Won't Snape find out that you've left? I'm not getting into trouble because you want to be let out."
"Then I will give my life to you! I will serve you always for you to be my master! Please, just don't leave me here with him! Your father would've taken pity on me!"
"If he would've, then why aren't you free?"
The snake's eyes quivered as it tried to pierce into the boy's soul, searching for any empathy. And somehow, it worked. Theodore knew what it was like to be caged, not able to escape from your prison. And he knew what it felt like to be released. It was only fair that this snake would receive the same. And he had a new pet, even though if it wasn't an owl.
"All right, but we need to be quick! You might fit into my bag, but you can't make a single sound, got it?"
The snake nodded in glee.
Theodore brought out his wand and pointed at the top of the container. "Alohomora!"
The upside of the box clicked as the lid flipped open. The snake winded up to the open hole, excited by the sensation of new air around it. It slithered above the container, and wrapped itself around Theodore in an affectionate manner.
"Thank you! Oh, thank you, dear child!"
"Don't thank me now! Get inside before he comes in!"
The snake entered his open school bag, twisting to fit its entire lengthy body inside. Upon observing it further, Theodore could see that this was no ordinary snake. He zipped it up and hoisted it on his back, stumbling a bit due to the sudden weight change.
"Now, don't hiss, speak or move! I'm going to put you inside the common room, so that I can go to the Quidditch match."
"Quidditch, ey? They still play that-? I smell somebody coming."
"Who were you talking to?!" Snape burst into the room with his face flustered with anger.
Theodore jumped backwards, hitting his back against the cupboard door. He hoped he didn't hurt the snake.
"I-I wasn't speaking to anyone!"
"Don't lie to me! I heard hissing coming from the cupboard that you weren't supposed to look into," Snape snapped as he bustled past Theodore before he frantically darted his head around the cupboard, "and the only thing that hisses in this room is the-" Snape looked at the empty container.
"Where is that blasted snake, boy?!"
He was talking to himself, for he was the only one there.
Theodore was casually up the marble staircase that was in the Entrance Hall after sneakily evading Snape from his moment of distraction. Several other students beamed at him as he walked past, some even giving flirtatious winks that caused him to hurry along.
"Okay, so you can sleep in my other spare bag if you want. I don't know if that's comfortable enough for you though," he hissed quietly as he stood on a moving staircase.
"Your bag would be most homely. Thank you for offering it to me."
Theodore planned on getting to Gryffindor common room to drop the snake off quickly so that he could make it to Harry's match. Even though Snape would be there as well, he knew that being a referee meant being nowhere near the stands, so it should be okay. He said the password for the Fat Lady to let him in and entered the empty room.
"This doesn't smell like the dungeons," said the snake as it poked its snout against the fabric of the bag.
"That's because it isn't. We're in the Gryffindor common room."
"How did you break into here?"
"I didn't break into here! I'm… in Gryffindor," Theodore admitted before he felt the snake shake violently inside the bag.
"The Heir of Slytherin in-in Gryffindor? What an outrage! How is this possible?! Why are you in here?!"
"Believe me, I wish I knew as well. The Sorting Hat was about to put me in Slytherin, but changed at the last second."
"You should complain about it! Announce that you are the descendent of the Founder, and deserve a place in his House!"
"Would you hush already! You're hissing all over the place!" Theodore opened the bag to let the snake fall onto his bed. "Besides, I can't tell people I'm the Heir of Slytherin! People would be scared, and would go crazy every time they'd see me! I don't need any of that for the next six years."
Theodore left the bag open under his bed, and brought out a few of his potion ingredients as food for the snake. "The bag's open underneath the bed, here's some food and don't eat any of the owls that come in, please, snake?"
"I'll try to resist the urge. And my name is not 'snake', master. It is Viripin."
"Sounds like a female name."
"I am a female."
"Oh… Well, Viripin, I have to go now. Do not leave. I'll be back soon."
"Goodbye, Master Riddle," she hissed gently, slowly crawling into Theodore's bag.
Theodore left the common room and ran all the way to the match, taking the utmost care around each corner, dreading to confront Snape at any given turn.
"I can't believe you missed it! Harry was fantastic, Theo! Where were you?" Ron squealed.
Theodore was unfortunately late to the match as apparently, it only lasted for about five minutes until Harry caught the Snitch. He had to admit that Harry was doing the House a massive favour. And Snape looked too bitter to point his attention to Theodore, although he'd probably get him later.
Ron told him how he gave Draco a black eye, and how Neville fought bravely against his goons. He lost, but 'he had the Gryffindor heart', according to Ron. And Hermione rushed through everything they found out about Nicolas Flamel. According to her, he was an alchemist who created the Philosopher's Stone, a mineral so precious that it could turn any metal into gold and produce the Elixir of Life which was a substance that granted the drinker immortality.
"The Stone was inside Gringotts, so Snape tried to steal it then. The Stone is in Hogwarts, Snape tries to steal it again, and now he's going to strike once more if we don't stop him," whispered Hermione as she, Theodore and Ron retreated to the back tables in the common room later that night.
"All of that seems plausible, but…"
"There's always a but with you," Ron muttered.
"…what would Snape do with the Stone? Be rich and immortal? That doesn't really sound like him at all."
"I can't believe you're defending him!"
"I'm not defending him, I'm just saying that the idea of Snape trying to steal the Stone is quite far-fetched, that's all."
Hermione leaned towards Theodore's face with her hair shaking wilder than ever before. "We have all the evidence right here. Why won't you believe us?"
"Fine, if you want me to believe you then I will. Is that what you want?"
"Cool," Ron said.
Hermione facepalmed. Harry had just entered the common room, and had a wild look in his eye as if he just saw something crazy.
"Guys, listen to what I've just seen!"
A few moments later…
"I flipping knew it!" Ron exclaimed.
"Are you sure that this is true, Harry?" Theodore asked.
"Every last word. This pretty much confirms it."
Theodore looked slightly doubtful until Hermione put a hand on his shoulder.
"There's no time to think if he's innocent or not. If we don't act now, then the Stone could be lost forever. Come on, Theo."
He waited. And waited. Then made a choice. "So, if it really is Snape, how do we catch him? He's got us beat in experience, and would probably kill us if we interfere."
"We can only hope that Quirrell hangs on to the little balls that he has left."
The next few days had been rough. Snape had finally caught him and gave him extra time after Potions to clean and rearrange the ingredients for the next class. If it were Harry and Ron, they'd be cursing every single hour of each day. For Theodore, he felt the same, but now he was able to get food for Viripin without worrying about sneaking into Snape's room. The spiteful professor enchanted the door to the classroom, so that it would only open to him and Theodore when classes were over, giving him full access to the room itself.
Harry, Ron and Hermione had to constantly update him on what was happening with Quirrell while he exchanged information about Snape. There wasn't any suspicious behaviour so far, or at least anything more suspicious. Snape was still grumpy and bad-tempered, meaning that the Stone had to be safe.
And the classwork was even more stressful in the second term. The teachers doubled up on homework and loaded him with more notes than he could count. He was lucky that he was just as studious as Hermione, otherwise he'd end up in St Mungo's for finally cracking under pressure. Theodore had used up all his little free time with the others in the library, going over everything while fending off anyone who asked for help, although he made an exception for Neville. The boy was near hopeless in almost every subject, save for Herbology.
"No, no, no! Dumbledore found the twelve uses of dragon's blood, and there's no troll whiskers inside the Antidote to Common Poisons! Were you even listening to me, Ron?"
"Yes, after the billionth time, yes!"
"Then why are you getting it wrong?"
Ron gripped his ginger locks as he tugged them in frustration. Theodore was putting too much pressure on him and he didn't know how much longer he could take it. The stress from Hermione, the overbearing nature from Theodore and the upcoming exams was taxing on him.
"Maybe you should take a break, Ron," Theodore sighed as he closed the book.
Ron glared at him, then slumped over the desk again. Theodore went to go return his books and packed his stuff away.
"You going to Snape again?" Ron mumbled with his head in his arms.
"Er, yeah. The guy won't leave me alone."
"Well, that's what happens when you break into his room. Rules are rules." Hermione was helping Harry with his wand movements as he was getting the hang of it.
"I wasn't…! Bye." Theodore walked off, ignoring a group of girls that were gawping at him. What they didn't know about him was burning his insides. An actual relative of Slytherin was currently walking through the castle's halls, but was unable to tell his friends out of fear of rejection. They all had a passionate hate for the House, so how would they react when they knew that his possible great-great-great-great-great, etc… grandfather was the man himself? He wasn't ready for that at all. He had to lie to them, even more than usual now that he knew where he came from, and sometimes it didn't sit well with him.
Theodore took a detour to the common room to check up on Viripin. The Maibian Adder, a very rare type of snake, was quite interesting to talk to during the time Theodore took to know her. She was found near the Lake almost dying from being attacked by gulls that preyed on her many years ago. The Slytherin students made her their mascot until she was used to provide products for the school to use in their potions. She described it as torturous and suicidal. Viripin tried to kill herself many times, but as she grew older her hide became too dense to break through. Even if that meant that she wouldn't be diced up all the time, her fangs would be removed every time they'd grow back into place. The young wizard felt so much empathy, relating to how he was singled out in his orphanage. He had only one friend, but if it wasn't for her than he probably be even worse.
He crawled through the portrait hole and into the Gryffindor common room which was a bit more packed than usual. Most of the third-years were there, probably studying for whatever exam that they had. Nobody noticed him slipping inside; he quickly ran up to the dorm room and gently pulled the bag under his bed outwards. Viripin was snapping inside, possibly because he disturbed her slumber, and poked a head out.
"I was sleeping, Master. Why did you wake me up?"
"Because I need all the answers that I can get from you about my dad."
"Can't I sleep for a little bit longer? How about something to eat?" Theodore brought out a bag of dead frogs and laid them all on the ground. Viripin scoffed each one, showing her miniature fangs that hooked into her dinner. "These ones tasted extra juicy!"
"That's because they're fresh. Now. How did you know that my father was the Heir of Slytherin?"
Viripin finished her last frog before asking the question. "Tom was always bragging about the fact that he was Slytherin's heir. Almost like you. I'm sorry, Master, I was only joking. He'd come to me and speak in Parseltongue, trying to make me obey as if I were a simple serpent. He seemed like quite the vile boy."
"But I thought that he was smart, the best in his classes."
"That he was. I saw how he manipulated magic. It was like nothing I've ever seen. Of course, I haven't had much experience with seeing all the magical arts in the school, but one must assume that he was one of a kind."
"Huh… Do you think I'm anything like him?"
"Absolutely! I mean, yes, you are similar in some respects. I see his cheeks and hair on you, and I can see that his superiority complex was also passed down, no offence."
"But am I like like him?"
Learning more about his father was like knowing your hero was actually not that great of a person. He didn't think that his father would've left Viripin in her cage without a single care. Did he have another snake on the side?
"Master, aren't you supposed to be with Torturer?"
"Torturer? Oh, you mean Snape. He's probably going to make me wipe out all of the leechjuice from the pipes. I don't want to go down."
Viripin slithered out the bag and coiled around the boy. She placed her head on his lap and hissed a song that Theodore didn't recognise. He stroked her scales which turned into a much healthier shade of green and looked a lot sleeker. Her eyes were now a chrome shade, making the serpent look entirely exotic like she was meant to be. He finished stroking until she returned to his bag, tired and well fed. Leaving her to have her rest, Theodore then exited the common room, having found a new friend in Hogwarts.
"How am I always missing these things? A dragon? A real-life dragon?!"
"Shut up, do want us to be caught?!" Ron snapped.
Theodore was always missing the fun stuff whenever he would go off on his own. But whenever he stayed, it was dull seventy five percent of the time. This one, however, was the one that he'd stay around for.
"It's a Norwegian Ridgeback. It's still an egg but it'll crack soon," said Ron in a lower voice as he pushed aside his Transfiguration homework.
"That sounds wicked, but isn't Hagrid's Hut made out of wood?"
"That's what I said," said Hermione in a shrill before quietening herself quickly.
"But it's a dragon egg, Hermione! A chance to see one crack without being torched by its mother. You're not seeing the bigger picture."
Hermione slammed her book on the table. "The bigger picture, Ronald and Theodore, is working hard for our exams and getting good grades. If that thing destroys the school, then we're done for."
"You worry too much." Hermione and Ron went back and forth as Theodore turned to Harry. The scar-bearing boy had a letter in his hand.
"When is it going to hatch, Harry?"
Ron stood up. "No…"
"Yes, Hagrid just sent me a letter."
Ron got all giddy. "We have to go now! Right now, all of us including you, Riddle."
"You can count me in!" Theodore replied. Even if it was a bad idea, it was a bad idea worth watching.
"We can't skip Herbology!" Hermione protested. The boys weren't hearing any of it. Theodore was on their side, singling Hermione as the odd one out. She grudgingly followed them as they all went down to Hagrid's Hut, who was outside with happiness and bliss ridden all over his face.
"Come on in!"
They all rushed inside to circle the charred black egg that was laying on the high table in Hagrid's home. It cracked, peeled, then the shell had burst everywhere in a puff of smoke. Everyone coughed and waved their hands at the sight of the newborn. It was, it was…
"Disgusting," Hermione gagged. Ron had a wide grin on his face. Harry leaned forward to get a better look at it, and Theodore was blinking as some smoke was still caught in his eye.
"Look at 'im. Jus' look. Ain't he beau'iful?" Hagrid sniffed as he watched the creature kicking off the remnants of egg shell off itself.
The hatchling flicked the slime that was dripping off its body all over the table, and stared at the relatively larger beings. Ron explained how his older brother dealt with this type of dragon in Romania, and was pressured by Hermione to let him take care of the dragon.
"Oh, alrigh'! S'pose Norbert is betta off with Charlie."
"Norbert?" Harry said with a raised eyebrow.
"Has ter have a name, righ'? Now, yeh kids run along. I'll send a letter ter 'im meself."
Hagrid shooed the four children out of his hut as they grudgingly walked back to Herbology. The passing days had elevated the risk of Norbert being discovered by somebody; on the day that Norbert hatched, Harry had spotted Draco in the windows, leering like the nosey leech he was. The quartet had to go on like they never saw him, but it was a hard commitment to stick to as he smirked at them at every single encounter.
And the dragon was increasing in size as it was increasing in being a pain. Ron was in the hospital wing due to Norbert biting his hand, which resulted in a wound that looked a bit too awful to ignore. Their plan to exchange Norbert with Ron's older brother, Charlie, had drastically changed from Ron going with Harry to a timid Hermione taking his place. Theodore agreed to be a lookout outside the common room to make sure that if they didn't come back at the required time, he'd look for them. While Theodore was sure that this plan would spiral out of control, he really didn't have anything else to do.
"We'll be back soon, Theo. Just make sure that if we're not here, you'll be careful about Filch," Harry warned.
"Just get back quickly."
"So much for good luck." Harry left through the hole and Hermione followed suit, just after nervously waving at Theodore. The painting swung shut and Theodore was inside the dark Gryffindor common room, all alone. He sat on the sofa in front of the dead fire place, and took in the silence that fell before him. Being set on the sidelines was a less risky position, but Theodore didn't mind. If anything, it was better for him as he was still on Snape's bad side after 'foolishly releasing a Hogwarts' property'. Getting caught outside during sleeping hours would definitely earn him the permanent train-ride home. Suddenly, a cold feeling ran along his leg, and then his left arm…
"Viripin! What are you doing here, go back inside the dorm!"
"You weren't there, Master. I wanted to check to see if you hadn't left me."
"I'm not going to leave you. And keep quiet! I don't want somebody to hear that I can speak… to snakes."
"But why? You should be proud! The only way for others to accept you is to accept yourself." Viripin laid her head on his shoulder and affectionally rubbed her snout against his ear. The snake had fully invested her trust in the wizard, no longer sceptical about him being in Gryffindor, even if she brought up the subject once too many.
"You think so? If I tell my friends that I'm the Heir of Slytherin, would they care?"
"I wouldn't care."
The two conversed in Parseltongue further until Theodore's pocket watch ticked rapidly. He pulled it out of his pockets and looked at the time. Twelve twenty-five AM. He turned to the entrance door. Nobody. He stood up from the couch and allowed Viripin to slide off.
"Where are you going, Master Riddle?"
"I'm going to search for my friends. You go back into the bag. And don't let anyone hear you."
Viripin obeyed and trailed away back up the boys' dorm. Theodore made sure that his wand was inside his pocket. He couldn't do much with it, but it made him feel a little more secure. He opened the portrait and stepped out of the common room, making sure his steps were as quiet as ever. He tiptoed across the staircases and made it through the higher corridors. Hermione and Harry said that they would be at the tallest tower, so that's where he was headed. He'd stop at every corner to ease his chest and breathing before carrying on. All would've been fine, if that blasted cat wasn't in the way.
Mrs Norris, Filch's filthy cat, circled around inside the junction of hallways with the left-hand side being the only way up to the Astronomy Tower. The cat's bloodshot eyes shot all over the area as if it was searching for something valuable. Theodore knew that if he made any type of sound, Mrs Norris would call Filch, and if Filch caught him then Hogwarts would never see him again. He peered around the corner to see if she left. The cat meowed and continued its motion.
'This is stupid, but what the hell, I have to do it!'
He pulled out his wand out and pointed it at Mrs Norris.
The cat tightened its entire body together, and fell over on its side like a stuffed animal. Theodore ran past the cursed cat and up the stairs of the Tower. The clash between him and Harry was painful enough to yell so loud, the Slytherins would be able to hear them from the dungeons. Luckily, their pain was expressed as hisses as they rubbed their heads.
"What took you so long? Why didn't you come back sooner?" Theodore said as Hermione tried to look if he had seriously hurt himself.
"Norbert was being fussy! And OW!"
Hermione hopped over to Harry to see if he was okay as she chimes in, "I think we just made it. Charlie's friends made off with the dragon, and we saw Malfoy getting into trouble by Professor McGonagall not too long ago." The trio then hurried down the spiral suitcase while whispering as loud as possible.
"Hurry up, guys! We can't be seen!" Theodore spoke as he led the group.
"McGonagall's long gone, Theo. We don't have to worry about her," replied Harry.
"It's not her, it's Filch. I petrified his cat, so he might be around… here." Theodore's blood froze.
At the bottom of the stairway, a grubby old man with thin grey ropes for hair stared at the three children with a mixture of delight and hatred in his eyes. In his hands, a stiff Mrs Norris was cradled like a baby with her tail sticking out oddly.
"Well," said Filch in a ghastly voice, "look at we have here, Mrs Norris."
Not going to be daily anymore; I'll just post them if I have time. The Norbert section had to be cut down really shortly as for me, it was the slowest part in the book. But at least it'll lead to one of the creepiest parts, the Forbidden Forest. I'll try to focus more on the imagery as this one felt a bit stale to me. Got a new character that will be featured in all the later stories so keep an eye out. Hope you enjoyed reading this. Later.