Adair prayed that there would be no one left in the common room when she went back. Unfortunately, her bad luck continued. It seemed like half of Gryffindor was still awake and goofing off.
"AWWWWWW!" was the first thing she heard as she pushed through the portrait hole. It was Lavender, who then rushed forward to examine the animal in Adair's arms. "She's so cute! Where did you get her?"
"It's a he," said Adair, absently. She was distracted by the confusing cocktail of emotions that had hit her when Lavender approached. Joy, tinged with jealousy, and underlying notes of anxiety and insecurity. Merlin, this girl needed therapy.
Was this going to happen all the time now? Was Adair now just one human sized tuning fork, able to pick up on the emotions of everyone around her? If so, Adair already felt exhausted.
Lavender was still petting the bunny rabbit, but Adair began moving toward the dormitories.
"That's a creative way to sneak someone up to the dorms," said a voice. Adair turned to see Seamus smirking at her from a nearby armchair. Adair rolled her eyes so hard she felt like she was going to lose them in her forehead. Suddenly, all she wanted to do was join him by the fire, and forget about everything else that had happened tonight.
"Damn, you caught me. This is my boyfriend, Dimitri. He's a foreign exchange student."
Seamus laughed, and motioned toward the empty chair next to him. "Come on, let's meet this Dimitri. I need to make sure he's not here for nefarious purposes."
Adair hesitated. The night had been dramatic, but nothing had changed. Why not try to relax? Nevertheless, as she approached, she cautiously tried to feel if she could sense any emotions emanating from Seamus. There seemed to be something there, but it was subtle, and trickier to decipher. Adair decided she could ignore it as background noise. Maybe some people were just naturally better at hiding their emotions.
Adair sat down, and let Seamus fondle the rabbit's ears. "Is his name really Dimitri?"
Adair laughed, "It wasn't, but now I kind of like it. What do you think?"
"Dimitri it is. It's noble. Where did you get him? Are we even allowed to keep rabbits as familiars?"
Adair frowned. She hadn't been thinking about the rabbit as a familiar, but I guess if she was going to keep him, that's what he was.
"I found him injured in the greenhouse," she said, thinking quickly. "Professor Sprout fixed him up right away, but then he wouldn't stop following me around. I guess he's mine for now, at least."
"Cool!" Seamus began talking about how when he was out of school, he was going to get the biggest dog familiar he could find. As he went into a discussion of the pros and cons of different breeds, Adair smiled and sat back, content to listen and nod occasionally at the right intervals. She could feel some of her own anxieties and frustrations melting away as Seamus talked.
Later that night, as Adair was getting ready for bed, she felt that things were pretty much back to normal. She had made up a little bed for Dimitri on the lowest shelf of her bedside table, and he seemed very content. She had to admit, the rabbit seemed to be very attuned to her wishes and commands, and had settled down as soon as she told him it was time for bed. Adair snuggled down under her covers, exhausted but content as she fell asleep to the sound of Lavender and Pavarti's soft snores.
Adair woke with a start. She was in a strange, ornate room. It looked like it could be the parlour of an old mansion. The floor was covered with a lush, oriental rug and heavy drapes obscured the windows. The only light in the room came from the fire, throwing flickering illumination on the many bookcase and curio tables that lined the walls of the room. Adair sat in a high backed chair in front of the fireplace.
She looked down. She was still wearing the worn purple pajamas she had worn to bed. Looking around, she started to panic. She wondered if perhaps she had been kidnapped.
Just as she was about to rise from the chair, she heard the handle of the door open.
In walked a man. He looked to be about 30 years old. He had a cold, dark beauty to his face. His high cheekbones and perfect skin would have been attractive, but the aura he gave off was so dark that Adair shuddered just to look at him.
"Ahhh, little Adair Robinson. How wonderful to finally meet you in person."
He spoke calmly, evenly. Adair thought she could be imagining it, but his voice seemed to have a subtle hiss to it.
"Who are you?', she asked, her hand immediately going for her wand, then cursing herself as she remembered leaving it on her bedside table.
"Do not be alarmed, dear Adair. I mean no harm. See, I will put down my wand so that you do not feel uneasy." He made an elaborate show of plucking the wand from his dark robes and setting it on a side table by the door. "May I join you now?"
Adair said nothing, merely stared at him. He sat down in the chair opposite her.
He opened his mouth once more, but Adair cut him off.
"I know who you are now. Don't think that I'm falling for any of this crap." She waved her arms around the room. "Why don't you show yourself for you really are, Tom." The last word came out in a hiss, as low and as menacing as his own voice.
Tom Riddle merely laughed. "Good girl! I'm delighted you figured it out so quickly. Now we won't have to waste precious time on pretense. I think I will keep this form though, for now. It tends to put people at ease."
"What do you want? I will never give in to you. So you can stop trying to "put me at ease." Adair spat. She began furtively looking around the room, searching for a way out. "Where am I?"
"You are safe in your bed at Hogwarts, Adair. Even I do not have the power to whisk you out of there at night. Not when that old fool Dumbledore is in charge, at least." Adair thought she saw a hint of red flash in Tom's eyes before turning back to their cold blackness. "No, Adair, I am here merely as a visitor in your mind. I thought it was about time to meet my only granddaughter." His eyes seemed to flash maliciously as he smirked at Adair in the firelight.
Adair almost gasped. So he knew. But really, she wasn't surprised. She had known this is what it was about since the moment she saw Tom Riddle walk into the room. Why else would he be here?
"So what do you want with me? You can't hurt me. I could drive you out if I wanted to. This is my mind." Adair spoke bravely, but privately, she doubted herself. Her one night of training had definitely not prepared her for something like this.
"What I want? Just to talk, my dear, just to talk. This is a new concept to me, you know, having family." His lips sneered on the last word. It looked like it had cost him a great deal to utter it out loud.
"I've already told you. You can't get to me. I will never join you. You would have to kill me first." Adair threw back her shoulders and sat up as straight as she could in her chair. Her eyes narrowed. "In fact, if I could kill you this very instant, I would. You're no family of mine."
Tom looked supremely unimpressed with her speech. "All very good, Adair. I see that Dumbledore has gotten to you good and well. I expected as much, being born of that half squib, Lavinia, and raised by blood traitor aurors."
He smirked as he saw Adair's eyes widen. "Yes, yes, I know all about your history, dear. I'm surprised, really, that your moron of a mother was able to keep you hidden. It seems that some shred of intelligence inspired her to place a memory charm on herself before I arrived with my supporters, so I was not aware of your existence."
Adair looked at him, her eyes full of hatred. Her hands were curled into fists in the fold of her robes, shaking.
"Yes, Adair. Your mother, my daughter," he spat the word out, disgustedly, "was a disgrace. Her mediocre-at-best magical skills were an insult to my proud Slytherin heritage. It was a kindness to get rid of her."
"But you, my dear," he hissed as his eyes glinted, "I have been studying you closely since I learned of your existence. You were able to tap into your adoptive mothers mind from thousands of miles away, in your sleep. That is something even I would have difficulty doing. It demonstrates prodigious talent in the mind arts. You are untrained, of course, but with the right teacher you could-"
"Oh, and you think that will be you?" Adair snorted out a cold laugh, although no part of this situation was funny. "You think I will just bow down to you, so you can teach me fancy mind reading? You think-"
"As I've already established, I have no such expectations." Tom said, his voice becoming even more dangerously low and his expression ever darker. Adair swore she could see a hint of the snake showing on his face now. It was obvious that he was unused to being interrupted and it was becoming harder and harder for him to retain his collected front. "You have been too swayed by the side of the light. I know that you will not easily come to my side. However, Adair, you are my progeny. I owe it to you, and the proud line we descend from, that you are trained in the subtle arts of the mind."
"I already have a teacher. It's Dumbledore." Even as she said the words, Adair inwardly winced. She sounded like a pouty child.
"Ha! That old fool can teach you nothing of the art of Legilimency. He uses it as hardly more than a party trick. He doesn't have the nerve to use it to his full potential. I can see that you know this to be true, Adair." He had spied Adair's troubled expression, thinking back to her disastrous lesson with Dumbledore.
"Only I can teach you what you crave to know. How you use that knowledge, Adair, why, that is up to you." Tom said, leaning back, resting his elbows on the wings of the chair, his fingertips pressed against each other. He was back to his eerie calm now.
Adair remained quiet, looking at him. She tried to keep her mind as blank as possible, in case he was reading her thoughts, but her mind was racing. She didn't trust him at all, naturally. She was not that naïve. But, what he said had a ring of truth. Adair sensed she would never truly learn Legilimency from Dumbledore. Without him willing to use it himself, how was she supposed to see how it was done? Tom, or, she should say, Voldemort, was offering the chance for her not only to learn it, but to master it. Like he said, once she had learned it, she could use it for any purpose she chose. She could use it to help Harry defeat him. And, after all, wouldn't the end result be worth the risk? What else would she be able to learn from the Dark Lord that she would not be able to learn from anyone else?
"I will… consider it." She said, finally, staring Tom directly in the eyes. A slow, snakelike smile spread across his face. The smile made him look even more evil.
"Excellent, my dear, I could expect nothing less. Take as much time as you need. If you do decide to accept my tutelage, light a single candle on top of the astronomy tower. My spies will see it and I will know to come to you."
"Come to me? Where exactly would these lessons be occurring?"
"Why, right here, of course. What better place to learn the mind arts than in your own mind?"
As he was saying this, the ornate room around Adair was beginning to vanish and Tom was fading before her eyes. Just before the scene had faded away completely, Adair heard his voice echoing around her, becoming more snakelike with each syllable.
"Let's not mention a word of this to Dumbledore or Harry, don't you agree Adair? I hardly think they would underssstand…"
Adair awoke with a start, sitting up in her own four-poster bed in Gryffindor tower, her pajamas and sheets soaked with sweat. She looked around, but every other occupant of the room was fast asleep. No one had noticed a thing.
She flopped back on her bed, staring at the ceiling. Suddenly, she felt a small pressure on the mattress beside her, and turned to see that Dimitri had hopped up on the bed. She almost smiled. It was nice knowing that at least someone had noticed her distress. She motioned him over to her and he made his way into her arms. Wrapping her arms around his small body, Adair turned to stare at the curtains of her bed. And she lay that way until morning.