14th October 1992
Harry closed his eyes as he groaned inwardly. Not now, please. Opening his eyes back again, he discreetly looked for the source of the voice that had called out for him, so that he could avoid it and slip by to his dorm instead. He tried covering himself behind Ron's taller frame—all so that he couldn't be spotted by Colin Creevey.
It had been more than a month since term started, and Harry had already had enough of Colin to last him a lifetime. Colin—a muggleborn first-year Gryffindor—had read and heard all about the great Harry Potter before arriving at Hogwarts. Ever since term began, he had taken to following Harry around like a devoted little puppy in between classes and mealtimes—even sitting in the stands during their Quidditch practices and clicking away photos of 'Harry Potter in action.'
On one day, Colin managed to muster his courage and approached Harry to ask him for a signed photograph—just like those celebrities that Aunt Petunia gossiped about. Before Harry could politely refuse him, Malfoy—who had overheard the conversation—dropped in with his usual fresh air, taunting Harry about selling signed photos. If that wasn't enough by itself, Professor Lockhart had to overhear the bloody words 'signed photos' and step in to toot his own horn, insisting Colin take a photograph of them both. This all was too much for Harry; he slipped past both Lockhart and Colin, avoiding them as much as he could ever since.
"Harry!" Colin called out again, waving his arms as he made towards where Harry was; Harry made a mental note to not use Ron as camouflage in the future. Realising it was better to get it over with quickly, he took a deep breath before facing his overexcited fan.
Seeing the look of nervousness on Colin's face, Harry began to regret asking that question. If whatever Colin wanted had the boy gripped in nervousness, it wasn't bound to be any good.
"Oh—I was—I was wondering," Colin began, sounding more unsure than he had previously. "I was wondering If I could take that picture of yours? I already developed the one with Professor Lockhart you see, but your face isn't clear enough in that one."
Colin was sounding desperate now, trying hardest to convince Harry. "I want to send it to my dad, you see—and my younger brother—so, can you—"
Harry decided to interrupt him before he could word his request any further.
"I'm sorry Colin, but I really need to be going to—to the library."
Ron looked at Harry incredulously; they had just returned from there, having spent three hours studying Transfiguration with Hermione. He obviously didn't want to go back, but a look from Harry silenced him for the moment. Colin, however, was not discouraged by Harry's excuse.
"Oh, that's great! Can I come too? My dad will love a picture of Harry Potter studying in the library. You don't even need to sign it!"
"I—you don't want to take a picture of me in the library. I'll just be staring at a book, or writing some notes. It'll be the most boring picture possible. Isn't that true Ron?" Harry replied as he kicked Ron in the foot.
"Ow—yeah, yeah. You don't want a picture of Harry studying," said Ron. "He—He dozes off quite a lot. Isn't a pretty sight. He looks like a—like a sleeping iguana."
The instant those words left his mouth, Ron's eyes closed and his face took on an expression of regret. Colin's, on the other hand, took on one of wonder and amazement.
"Iguana? That's so cool! Please, can I—"
Harry turned to Ron with a betrayed expression, and Ron mouthed a silent sorry. Before Colin could rope Harry into a photoshoot, someone interrupted them.
"Hey, Colin! Just the man I wanted to see."
Harry turned to see Mark approach them with a broad smile on his face. He hoped Mark hadn't heard their conversation just now. Mark thumped Colin on the back in friendliness—too much friendliness, Harry observed, and spoke to the boy in his usual casual tone.
"What are you up to? You want to hang out?" Colin, obviously flattered by an older student approaching him, lit-up in excitement.
"Me? Sure. I'll just —" He suddenly remembered what he'd been doing before. "Actually, I was just going to take a photo of Harry —"
"Harry can wait a bit, can't he?" said Mark with a disappointed expression. "Plus, look at him. He looks pretty busy right now." Mark turned to Harry and gave him a discreet wink. Harry grabbed the chance immediately.
"Yeah Colin. I've got a potions essay to finish," said Harry, while Ron nodded along in agreement. "Maybe some other time?"
"Oh. Okay then." Colin's face deflated a bit, but Mark thumped his back again.
"Come on then. Let's go over there"
Harry decided it was best for him to leave the Common room, and return a bit later when it was safer.
"I—um. See you later?" he said awkwardly taking his leave. Colin smiled and waved a bit while Mark got a shit eating grin on his face.
"See you later, Iguana."
Harry groaned again and turned on a silently giggling Ron, who quickly stopped and apologised. Harry shook his head. He was never going to live this one down.
Mark watched with a grin as Harry and Ron walked out of the portrait hole. He was going to have so much fun with that nickname. He wouldn't use it immediately or frequently—No, when Harry would think he had forgotten, when Harry had his guard down—that's when he would come at him with it again.
The very thought of it was so funny that Mark had to shake his head to control his laughter. Turning, he saw Colin again and wondered if his decision was wise. Was it really his place to do this? Was it even necessary?
"So, Colin," Mark began, giving the boy a light thump on the back, "how are you settling in?"
Colin smiled and followed Mark as he gestured for them to sit on the couch.
"Great! It's so amazing here. The classes are wonderful. The teachers are wonderful. Magic is just so—amazing," he said with brimming enthusiasm—something that was usual for the boy. Even now on the couch, he was sitting on the edge had his back arched in attention.
"That's good. You're right, Magic is pretty awesome. I didn't really realise how much I missed it until I was back home for the summer."
"I never really knew all the odd stuff that I could do was magic," said Colin. "That is until I got my letter from Hogwarts. It was such a change, especially from my old school."
"I can understand. I felt the same way actually. You get used to it after a while."
"Really? My dad couldn't believe half the stuff we were told. He had been pretty worried beforehand, with all the odd stuff me and my brother did."
"I guess it was the same with my dad," chuckled Mark. "You know, at first we thought I had superpowers or something. Like the ones in the comics—you know, X-Men and the like." Colin nodded his head in recognition. "You said you have a brother?" asked Mark, remembering Colin's words. "Is he magical too?"
"Dennis. He's almost two years younger than me," said Colin. "About him being magical—he's done some accidental magic but we can't really be sure until we get the letter, can we? He was pretty excited to see Diagon Alley, you know. Wanted to meet Harry Potter, once we read about who he was and what he'd done. That's what I was hoping for—a photo to send to Dennis and my Dad."
"That's good," said Mark. He decided to change the subject. "What class do you like the best so far?"
Colin scratched his chin in a thoughtful manner, furrowing his brows in concentration.
"It's difficult to say. Astronomy is great. I never knew that it could be so fun. Charms is also pretty good, so it's difficult to decide. Plus, there's Professor Lockhart. He's done so much so great stuff."
"Yeah, Charms is pretty good. As for Professor Lockhart, I don't know. Seems just okay to me."
"Well he isn't as great as Harry Potter now, is he?" retorted Colin, before he realised something. "You must know all about Harry, wouldn't you, sharing a dorm with him."
Mark became distinctly uncomfortable at this. It looked like he would have to go through with his initial plan after all. There was no easy way to do this, and the sooner he explained it to Colin, the better it would be for everyone involved.
"Yeah, Harry's cool. Listen," Mark said, before looking Colin in the eye. "There's something I think I should tell you. It's a bit serious, and I would appreciate if you hear me out."
"Of course," Colin replied eagerly. Taking a slow breath, Mark continued.
"Good. Now, what do you know about Voldemort?" Colin's face lost all sign of enthusiasm at this, and Mark could see a subtle fear creep in.
"Vol—you said his name."
"I did. Met him too. Not particularly what you'd call a pleasant personality," Mark said dismissively. "Now what do you know about him and Harry?"
Colin seemed to be struggling between answering the question and processing the new information Mark had inadvertently dumped on him.
"I … You-Know-Who tried to kill Harry and then he died and that's how Harry got his scar. That's what everyone told me. Wait, you met him? You-Know-Who is alive?"
"Kind of. That's irrelevant right now. Now, how old do you think Harry was when all of that happened?"
Colin was taking short breaths right now, any trace of his usual excitement gone. Scrunching his forehead, he answered Mark.
"He was a baby—what, a year old?"
The moment he finished, Colin seemed to realise the significance of his answer.
Mark nodded seriously at this, his eyes now boring into Colin's.
"Yeah. What else happened that night?"
"His parents—they—they died."
Colin whispered the last part, the purpose of this conversation now clear to him.
"Yes. Harry lost both his parents."
Colin's head dropped in shame, but Mark continued on.
"Look at me, Colin." The boy raised his head reluctantly, eyes filled with regret and sorrow. Mark decided to drive his point home. "Harry isn't some great hero who vanquished the Dark Lord. He's a survivor of an attack on his family."
"But—but," he spluttered momentarily, before deciding to stay silent. Mark, who gleaned into Colin's mind, answered the unasked question.
"The whole boy-who-lived thing? Harry isn't fond of it. I get that you want to make friends with him, but you need to remember this—He's more than a scar."
Realising Mark's point, Colin nodded to himself before answering seriously.
"You're right. I will."
Mark gave the mousy haired boy a smile and decided that he had got his message across successfully. Time to lighten the mood.
"Great. Now, that camera of yours," he said, pointing towards the old-fashioned camera hanging by Colin's neck, "Is it magical? How does it work?"
Colin's face bounced back at this, jumping into bubbling enthusiasm once more.
"Oh, it's so amazing. It's got a different film, and if you use a special potion, the pictures move! Can you believe that! I always wanted to be a photographer, and I saw this at Diagon Alley. My dad was sceptical of it at first, but I convinced him to buy it. He's a milkman you see, and—" Colin continued to tell Mark all about his life before Hogwarts, along with all the fun experimentation that he had done so far with his new camera.
Mark found himself drawn into the conversation, occasionally asking Colin for clarifications on the workings of magical and muggle photography. Colin was quite content in answering Mark's queries, and soon they found themselves lost in conversation, with Mark telling Colin about the internal workings of Electric Guitars and amplifiers.
It was when a flash of brilliant red moved in the corner of his eye that Mark's attention was interrupted. He turned towards it, seeing the youngest Weasley entering the common room and heading for the staircase for the girl's dorms.
Ginny was apparently lost in thought, as she nearly jumped at the greeting, a small amount of panic gracing her face momentarily. Turning towards the couch, she saw Mark.
"Huh? — Oh hello," said Ginny. "Hi Colin," she added after a moment.
Mark observed Ginny. Any signs of the cheerful and energetic person he had met on the Express seemed to have disappeared.
"You alright? You look a little pale."
Ginny looked alarmed at this for a moment, her eyes darting around uncomfortably.
"I'm fine. Everything's fine"
"You sure don't look fine. Trouble sleeping?"
Ginny's face showed signs of irritation at being interrogated like this, her eyes looking slightly red in anger—as if the flames from the fireplace seemed to reflect off of them.
"Yeah. That's right. It's difficult sleeping here. Just used to being at home," she answered Mark in a dismissive tone.
"I can understand. How are your classes? Anything I can help you with?"
Ginny's face softened at this, a small smile creeping in.
"Good. It's quite fun actually." Ginny looked at Mark and added warmly. "Don't worry, I'm not having any difficulties. And if I can always ask my friends for help." Mark smiled back at this.
"That's good to hear. Friends are great. Still, you'll let me know if you need any help, right?"
Ginny nodded and motioned to leave for her room.
"Sure. Goodbye, Mark."
"Bye," Mark said and gave her a little wave. As he watched her disappear up the stairs, he pondered a little on Ginny.
It was good that Ginny had made friends at school. She was quite distressed about that matter on the Express, so it was great that she didn't have to worry about it any longer.
He wondered which student she had made friends with.
17th October 1992
"Where—" Ginny squinted as she opened her eyes. She must have been sleeping. Looking around, she realised that she was in the abandoned girl's bathroom on the first floor.
'That's odd,' she thought. She didn't remember going to the bathroom. The last she remembered—
What did she remember? It all felt like a dream. Was she sleepwalking? She had been having these blackouts recently, but Tom was sure they were just due to the stress of the new school.
Deciding that it wasn't wise to stay seated on the cold bathroom floor, Ginny stood up and brushed her robes with her hands. Only they found something unexpected.
Feathers. She was covered with them, and as she looked around, she saw the bathroom floor littered with them. Picking one to examine it closer, she recognised it to be from a chicken—specifically a rooster. Ginny had spent enough time cleaning the coop at the Burrow to know the difference.
The question was, where had they come from? Was this somehow related to the blackouts she was having? Taking her wand in her hand, Ginny cleaned the bathroom floor of all the litter. It was a nifty spell that Tom had taught her, and she wished she could use it at home to help with her chores.
Once she and the bathroom were cleared of the feathers, Ginny decided to head back to the common room and to her bed. There was no reason to linger around any longer, especially since it was after curfew.
Tom had told her about many of the secret passageways that she could use to avoid the patrolling prefects. It wouldn't do good to be caught lurking around in the night, especially by someone like Percy.
Tom. Ginny was really glad that she found Tom. In a way, he was her closest friend, and slowly becoming her closest confidante. He was really brilliant. He helped her with her homework, and gave her advice about anything and everything. Apart from her schoolwork, he had even taught her some nifty and useful stuff—things that were even outside the curriculum at Hogwarts.
Ginny wondered if it would have been better if he was a real live person; but then perhaps it was better that he was just the way he was. She wouldn't have met him otherwise.
It had been just after their trip to Diagon Alley that she found him. Hiding inside her Transfiguration textbook, completely inconspicuous. A little black leather Diary, with a faded name on top—Tom Marvolo Riddle.
At first, that was exactly what Ginny thought it was. Just a plain old diary. Oh, how wrong she was. It was when she wrote in it that he had answered. Nothing special. Just a simple greeting.
Hello. My name is Tom, and this is my diary. What is your name?
Of course, Ginny was surprised—after all, diaries weren't supposed to talk back. Yet, this one did. Hesitantly, she answered it—him. And she was glad she did.
He told her how he was a student here at Hogwarts, some fifty years ago. How he had decided to store his memories in this diary, enchant it so that it could help another student during their time at Hogwarts. So that the student not feel as alone as he had been then.
That was what drew Ginny to him—his willingness to help cure her loneliness, and the obvious effort and time that he must have put in enchanting the diary so that it could help others. It was obviously a brilliant piece of magic—other than the limitations of the medium, Ginny had found no sign of the diary being anything other than a person. To be honest, recently it felt as if it was even transcending those limitations—she could almost feel him when they talked.
He was kind, he was funny. He was thoughtful and he was wise. He was patient and most importantly, he listened to her. It was like having a best friend that you could carry with you—talk to whenever you wished to. Pocketing her hands, she ran her fingers down the spine of the Diary stored in her robes.
She would have to write—no, tell Tom about the feathers once she reached her room. She wondered what he would make of it.
AN: Another chapter done! A simple one, with the introduction of two interesting characters—Colin Creevey and Tom Riddle. The action picks up again in the next chapter, so stay tuned for that.
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