Chapter 10: Something
He had not raised his voice, but his command carried to every corner of the room and the curious whispers immediately ceased in response.
Tom smirked. Such obedience had taken many years for him to obtain from his followers. When he had first started Hogwarts, he had been a spoiled bully, quickly learning that he was not welcome in his rightful house. The surname Riddle was not so much unlike Granger, after all, in that it was easily recognized as a filthy muggle name. He had spent his first two years learning deadly curses that he then proceeded to use on his classmates as much as possible. Tom found that dark magic came unusually easy to him, and with his demonstrations he had gained a grudging respect from the Slytherins.
His third and fourth years were spent exploring his lineage. He had always known that he was different from the other children, different than his fellow wizards.
It was in his fifth year when he learned just out how different. A direct descendant of Salazar Slytherin, he was destined for great things, and when he discovered the Chamber of Secrets, he realized how great.
He would follow in Salazar’s steps. Tom would shed his muggle name and become Lord Voldemort, the most powerful dark wizard ever since Salazar Slytherin himself.
With that goal in mind, Tom began to take the necessary steps to ensure his destiny. With cold calculation and a hard heart, he removed certain obstacles that blocked him from his path. His father and his grandparents had been particularly satisfying to remove. He had felt vindicated as they pleaded for their lives. The look in their eyes as they begged him was what his sweetest dreams were made of. And that moment of realization, the second they realized that it was all their own doing, that there was nothing they could do or say to change the fact that he was going to kill them, that was when Tom first became Lord Voldemort.
He had killed because it had been necessary, but nothing could change the fact that he had enjoyed it. He had enjoyed it immensely.
The Gaunts were next. Then there was poor little Myrtle, who had been an accident, sure, but had spread the word of his power amongst the Slytherins. Death, Tom concluded, whether accidental or planned, was a very convenient means to his purpose. With one murder after the other, Tom had removed and overcome every obstacle set in his path.
Now he had one more problem to take care of, by any means necessary.
“It has come to my attention that Grindelwald will be making his way here,” he began quietly, slowly stalking around the room and fixing each person in his inner circle with a steely glare. “Now I don’t suppose anyone would know why he would come to our humble school, do you?” he stopped his leisurely walk in front of Abraxas Malfoy, lifting a brow in question.
Tom watched in amusement as Abraxas’s throat bobbed nervously. “To settle unfinished business?” he offered, his silver eyes hard and a tiny smirk curling his lips.
Tom glared at him, knowing that Malfoy had reached the correct conclusion about the dark wizard coming for Hermione. There was no doubt in Tom’s mind that the situation suited Malfoy just fine and that the wizard would drag his designer clad heels at the mere thought of helping her.
A tiny smirk of his own blossomed across Tom’s face. Little Malfoy had grown insolent as of late and it was time for Tom to remind the boy of his place.
“Abraxas, for once, is correct in his assumptions. Grindelwald has decided that he will visit our resident mudblood,” laughter met this statement and Tom smiled indulgently. “Do any of you have a problem with Mr. Grindelwald’s plan?” As predicted, no one did.
Abruptly, Tom’s easy going attitude evaporated. “Well I do!” he roared, all chuckles immediately ceasing. Bringing his voice down a few octaves, Tom continued talking as he began to roam the room once again. “I know, my friends, that many of you have been questioning my interest in the mudblood. Many of you would call me a blood traitor; you would accuse me of supporting the very thing we have fought so hard against. Do you know what I have to say to those who think such thoughts?”
No one moved to answer his rhetorical question.
Tom found himself in front of Abraxas again. “It is not your place to question me,” his eyes bored into Malfoy’s. “Not all battles are fought with magic. There are ways to ensure a mudblood suffers, ways that are beyond your sphere of comprehension.” Tom turned his back on Malfoy again, his voice velvet over steel as he hissed, “Slytherin admired cunning, subtlety. You have all disgraced your house in your lack of these traits when addressing the mudblood. I have fashioned a plan to ensnare her trust, win her love. By the end of the year I will have her wearing my mark, the same mark that claims you all, fighting against her own kind. And when she no longer amuses me, I will dispose of her after making sure she understands how I have used and manipulated her. Is there anyone here that foresees a problem with my plan?”
Tom looked around the room and where before he had seen resentment staring back at him, he now saw understanding and awe. Inwardly, he sneered at their newfound admiration. They were nothing more than sheep, so willing to believe any lie that rolled off his tongue as long as he twisted it to their righteous cause.
“No one?” he turned back to Malfoy again, tilting his head slightly.
Abraxas held his eyes for a moment before lowering them to the floor between them. “How could anyone argue with such brilliance?” he murmured.
Tom narrowed his eyes, studying him while trying to decide if he was being facetious. Deciding that he would have his fun with him soon enough, Tom sneered, “How can I proceed with this plan if she is dead, Abraxas? Grindelwald has grown too strong and he now stands in the way of my plans, our plans. He must be removed from power so that we may succeed; he must not get the mudblood. Do any of you disagree?”
“You want us to protect the mudblood?” Abraxas clarified disgustedly.
A chilling smile crept slowly across his thin lips. He knew Malfoy would drag his heels; he’d been counting on it.
And now he would put Abraxas Malfoy into his place. A lesson needed to be taught. Lord Voldemort was not to be questioned. His word was law.
Tom had always been fond of the Cruciatus Curse. There was something about never ending pain at a simple word that Tom found deliciously ironic. Then there were the screams. He’d have the world at his feet by murmuring a single word, and the world will beg and scream for mercy, but he would spare none.
He would start with Abraxas Malfoy.
His wand was out and the curse was cast before anyone could speak. Abraxas was huddled on the floor, desperately trying to bite back his screams. He broke in the end, though, as they always did. Tom had an unusual gift when it came to the Cruciatus Curse.
Abraxas’s screams roared in his ears and bounced off of the walls in sweet notes of a bitter song. Tom smiled. His followers shuddered. It was the longest they had seen him hold the curse on any person. Minutes seemed to tick by in agonizing slowness as they watched their lord hold Malfoy suspended in torture. Would he stop? Certainly someone, a student or teacher walking by, would hear those terrible, haunting screams.
No one outside the room could hear, however. Tom was in a room that gave a person what they required and Tom found himself requiring a sound proof room that would cover up his use of an extremely unforgivable curse.
Finally, he released Malfoy, but Abraxas’s shrieking echoed loudly in the room, making Tom’s ears ring.
“Yes,” Tom hissed down at Malfoy’s convulsing body. “We are to protect the mudblood.” He turned back to the room and asked passively, “Any objections?”
He did not have to command silence in order to get it this time which, Tom thought snidely as he dismissed his followers, was exactly how it should be.
Each black robed figure swept into a bow at his feet before exiting, leaving Tom alone in the Room of Requirement with Abraxas Malfoy trembling on the floor. As the door clicked shut behind Orion Black, Tom pivoted on his right foot to stare down at Malfoy.
“Such a pity,” he sighed, using his booted foot to push Malfoy onto his back.
Abraxas Malfoy twitched before him, his eyes still managing to maintain their arrogant gleam even as tears fell from them.
“Perhaps now you will remember your place, loyal servant,” he removed his foot from Abraxas’s chest, but his sneer never left his face. “I have been lenient with you, friend,” he spat the word ‘friend’ as though it left a foul taste on his tongue. “You owe me your gratitude for my pity.”
Anger raged in Malfoy’s stormy eyes and hatred sparked liked lightening bolts. Tom was surprised, though, to find the hatred was not directed at him. Indeed, Malfoy seemed to be sneering with Tom, not at him, almost as though being cursed into oblivion had been a part of whatever scheme he had been concocting. But the anger and hatred still bloomed, and it was with a slight jolt of fear that he realized just who it was directed at.
He may have regained Malfoy as a follower in his highest ranks, but he had also given Hermione a new enemy. In this meeting called to protect Hermione, he had actually presented Malfoy with exactly what he had wanted: a real reason for wanting her dead.
“Thank you, my lord.”
Tom had a sneaking suspicion that Malfoy was not thanking him for his mercy.
Scowling, Tom swept out of the room with his jaw clenched tight in black anger.
You imbecile, he mentally berated himself as he quickly walked back to his dorm. You poor, hapless fool.
He should have known better. There would be dissension in the ranks now. The Malfoy name still held some sway in the Slytherin common room. All it would take was a few whispers, ideas being seeded into the right people’s mind. It would take some patient nurturing, but the seeds would sprout. Their roots would be tangled and deep in the minds of the unfaithful, the traitors that would join Malfoy. Tom was looking at a possible mutiny.
He should have let the bloody wizard come and take Hermione. She was the real problem. Not Malfoy, and certainly not himself. Hermione with her muddied blood, her smiling eyes, and her small hands that always seemed to be caressing that godforsaken snake.
He hated her. She was nothing to him.
And yet at the back of his thoughts he heard a small voice hissing, Snake but not snake; one of us but something more…
Something, something, something, something…the word bounced around in his head, increasing in volume.
His scowl deepened and his pace quickened. Nothing, she is nothing, he thought furiously, repeating it over and over again as though the mantra would drown out the little voice that insisted something more, something, something…
By the time he found himself in front of the portrait of Helga Hufflepuff, Tom’s head was throbbing painfully as the two words fought each other for supremacy.
Something, nothing, something, nothing…
“Carpe diem,” he growled.
Helga sniffed at his rudeness, swinging open and snubbing him by forgoing her usual chirpy greeting. Tom failed to notice, however. He was currently preoccupied with his ringing headache and his sudden and uncharacteristic bout of conscience.
He ignored Minerva, who sat in front of the fire with her transfiguration text staring at her, and went straight up the stairs and into his room. Pushing the voices down with sheer will power, Tom walked in.
And promptly froze.
Tom’s first thought while walking into the dorm for the past month had always been a faint hope to catch his roommate in a state of undress. He had planned and schemed, but had never managed to catch his mudblood without her robes on. She had always seemed to anticipate his every move and intention, managing to thwart his plot.
In fact, it had become somewhat of a game between the two of them. Tom dressing as quickly as possible in the bathroom, while Hermione simply spelled her pajamas on and slipped under the covers. Tom would walk briskly out of the bathroom, each time a little faster than the night before. His eyes would immediately go to her, and Hermione would fight a smile while she feigned sleep as Tom merely smirked, crawling into bed beside her.
It was like an elegant dance, Tom leaning in, but Hermione stepping back so that they wouldn’t collide. Tom was beginning to accept the fact that he would never catch Hermione in such a vulnerable state, but every night, he still had that faint hope, the thought that maybe that night would be the night.
And on this night, the first night that catching Hermione undressing was the very last thought on his troubled mind, was the night he got his wish.
She hadn’t heard him come in, a fact for which Tom was eternally grateful. Her back was to him and her arms were stretched high above her head, removing her undershirt. Tom watched in fascinated silence as the muscles on her back rippled, her skin looking like golden honey in candlelight that gleamed on her naked back.
A picture flashed in Tom’s mind of him standing beside her, his thin, pale fingers lightly tracing invisible patterns up and down her spine, causing her to shiver in his arms.
Unbidden, Tom took a step to her, his arm lifting as though to caress her smooth skin the same way her fingers danced across the scales of her snake. His vision blurred, and Hermione seemed to stand out in sharp relief in the room. He couldn’t control his right arm that slowly connected to her shoulder, grazing the sensitive skin of her back from shoulder to waist.
She shivered, just as he knew she would.
But then Hermione jumped, startled by the fact that she was not alone. Tom’s mind cleared as Hermione clutched her shirt tightly to her chest, cheeks tinged pink and eyes glaring at him in anger.
“Tom Marvolo Riddle,” she hissed furiously. “Just what do you think you are doing?”
She was gorgeous in her anger. His breath seemed to catch as he looked at her, committing every small detail to memory so as to never forget how perfect she was at that moment in time. She had been crying, he realized. Her pink cheeks still had the wet footprints of her tears and her eyes appeared brighter than normal, like liquid amber. Her hair was frizzing out of the bun she had secured it in, a few long wisps touching her shoulders.
In all her righteous glory, she stood before him like some avenging goddess whose eyes pierced him to his very being.
Tom blinked and swallowed hard to regain his composure. When he opened his eyes again, Hermione was fully clad in her white, cotton pajamas, standing with her hands on her hips and foot tapping, obviously waiting for his response.
Smirking, Tom stated, “It’s not my fault you didn’t hear me come in.”
Hermione’s jaw tightened. “Haven’t you heard of knocking?”
He smiled, unconcerned by her anger. “Why should I knock, it is my room, after all.”
“It’s called common courtesy, Thomas!”
Tom snorted, finally moving back from her to gather his night clothes. “You have never been surprised by my lack of courtesy before, so why start now, Hermione?”
She gaped at him. “You are such a prat, Tom.”
But he saw her lips quirking, saw the fire fade slightly from her eyes as amusement took its place.
“You should be flattered, Hermione,” Tom went on to say, smiling as she began to sputter.
“Flattered? Of all the pompous, egotistical things you could say! I should hex you right now!”
Tom was in front of her in a second, his pajamas lying forgotten on the floor. “Then why don’t you, Hermione.”
She bit her lip and took a small step back from him so that she could breathe. “Don’t tempt me,” she whispered, her voice not as strong as she had hoped.
Tom smirked and advanced to her again, his body nearly touching hers. “Do I tempt you, Hermione?”
He watched as she swallowed nervously, taking another step back while bumping into the wall. He knew the moment she realized that there was no escape, that when he took one more step forward he would essentially have her pinned against the wall. Smiling victoriously, Tom took the final step to her, placing each hand on either side of her head.
“Do I, Hermione?” he murmured, lowering his head to whisper in her ear.
She shivered again, whether from his closeness or from his breath tickling her hair, he did not know.
Bravely, she tilted her head up to meet his gaze. His eyes seemed darker than usual, no longer light sage green, but a darker, more intense forest green shade. His eyes reminded her of the trees in the forbidden forest at night, green almost to the point of being black.
The mood shifted in the room, no longer teasing or confrontational. Idly, Tom twirled a lock of her hair in his fingers as he patiently awaited her response.
Hermione leaned forward, surprising Tom when her body grazed his. Licking her lips, she asked, “Where were you tonight, Tom?”
Tom blinked, his right hand stilling in her hair. “I was out doing what I am always forced to do,” he declared.
“And what is that?” she asked.
Tom sneered at her as he said, “To protect you, little Hermione.”
Hermione shook her head slightly in an effort to clear it. “Why do you always protect me, Thomas? I’m just a mudblood. I am nothing to you.”
Nothing, the word reverberated in his mind. Nothing, nothing, nothing…
And yet a silky hiss whispered softly in the background, something.
Snake but not snake; one of us but something more…
Slowly, Tom leaned forward.
Mudblood, mudblood, mudblood…She is nothing, nothing, nothing…
Nothing, he thought, even as his lips pressed against hers, softly at first, but more firmly as his resolution grew.
She is nothing…
After a few moments of shock, Hermione’s arms crept up to encircle his neck and she began to kiss him back, taking his breath away at her tenderness.