Okay, I haven't finished yet but I wanted to start my reviews of the last three before actually getting to the end. This chapter seems to fit in perfectly with what we know about the people involved, and where the story has been going so far.
I'm also incredibly nervous as to what Minerva will do/say when Hagrid is blamed. She was with him, but not all night. She also knows he was out past curfew.
The smaller bits of details your working out with the Basilisk are also really genius. The bites in the tub, noises, list Tom was actually training it. One thing I still can't figure out is why he's focusing so much of his attention onto Minerva and Grimm. If he thinks that they're close enough to figuring out him, and that's why. But you'd think the letter would have done enough to silence those worries, if it was actually about Gellert than I would have thought it would ease Tom's nerves. But then again he still realizes that Grimm doesn't trust him..
But so far I am absolutely intoxicated with this. The mystery, the love aspect, the details about Minerva's life that show us just why marriage turns her off so quickly.. it's all fantastic.
Author's Response: There's no rush as I won't have time to write a new chapter until the holidays, but it's fantastic to hear from you again! These last few chapters are the most important in terms of the overall Potterverse history - they set the scene for where the characters end up later in life and are also crucial to Harry's story, both in CoS and HBP/DH.
I'm procrastinating with the Hagrid scene because it feels like it'll be a daunting task. Minerva doesn't know for certain about Hagrid's actions that night, nor does she know exactly what Myrtle's injuries looked like. Surely a spider would have left a mark on the body (and I'm surprised that no one at the time took note of these things - CSIs they were not), but she can't offer any alternative apart from the death curse. No one can even have a suspicion that a basilisk is involved. Minerva has a gut feeling that Hagrid is innocent, but she can't prove it. Grimm knows that Riddle is involved, but he can't prove anything either. Grimm will be the first to come forward with his accusations, but it's only when Hagrid is made the scapegoat that Minerva becomes actively involved. But all the evidence is against Hagrid and his spider.
It's probably going to be the most frustrating scene I've written. It will be filled with injustice and anger, and because of that, will likely take up a whole chapter on its own. O_O I'm looking forward to writing the chapter that comes after, but this one... it'll be quite something.
Now back to the chapter you're reviewing...
Tom recognizes that Grimm is too close, and even though he knows that Grimm has no evidence, he can't be sure whether any will arise. Grimm and Minerva are known to be clever, and their distrust of Riddle make them a threat. I would think that, at this stage, Riddle might be more easily threatened - he's still building up to his paternal family's murder, and for all his plans to work out, he must leave Hogwarts with a clean slate. If 3 people suspect him, then there's a danger that more will also do so. It is, however, something I'll keep firmly in mind when writing the next chapter - I haven't worked that into the story as much as I should have.
Thank you again for reading and reviewing! ^_^