In the month since the start of the term Tom had experienced a number of successes, the greatest of which was the fact that Professor Flitwick trusted him now. He had gone to great lengths to appear innocent of any wrong doing and now was spoken highly of in the staff room when the members of that group met. The incident with Bernard Mason had slipped into history and was no longer discussed while the boy still had it very much in his memory.

Bernard now avoided Tom, there was just something about him that frightened the older boy and Bernard was willing to forget about Molly. Many of the younger girls from Slytherin desired Tom but he brushed them aside in favor of the blonde girl from Hufflepuff and this caused no small amount of angst in the common room of their House.

Tom and Molly spent as much time as they could together and could often be found sitting side by side in the common areas of the castle or in class. None of the professors minded that the pair seemed to be highly fond of each other but knew that, sooner or later, the bond would break and the children would go their separate ways. It happened all too often with other pairs for them to think otherwise.

Tom sat on a bench in one of the corridors while he waited for Molly to come out of the second floor girl’s restroom. None of the students that passed him gave him much more than a moment’s notice and he looked up happily when the girl finally appeared. He rose from his seat and they walked along together as they proceeded to Potions class. Molly was struggling in that class and often relied on Tom to help her get through the lessons that Professor Slughorn assigned.

Horace Slughorn was overjoyed with the abilities that the boy was demonstrating and often praised him for excellence in his work. Although she tried to please the professor Molly wasn’t as adept as her boyfriend, she was much more capable in Charms class and was easily Tom’s superior there.

“What do you think that we are going to do today in class,” the girl asked.

“Who knows, but at least we are through the just reading out of the book part of class! That was completely horrid and I hate to think of having to ever do that again.”

“Did you see what Alfred Goyle did in Transfiguration?”

“I missed it, but I have never seen Dumbledore so angry.”

“He set the poor mouse that he was supposed to Transfigure on fire! It was horrible, the wretched little thing was running around on his desk trying to get away before it fell off onto the floor and he stepped on it. He crushed the life out of it after torturing it.”

“Maybe it was an accident.”

“Not bloody likely, he was laughing the entire time while he watched it burn! He and William Crabbe are horrid; they both thought that it was hilarious. Those two stick together like glue! Are they like that down in Slytherin?”

Tom thought about what the girl had asked for a moment before answering. He had seen the incident with the mouse and had also found it quite funny, but he didn’t want Molly to discover that he enjoyed the antics of the pair of fellow Slytherin. The last thing that he needed was for the girl to find out that he was at times lying to her; she might break everything off and go on to someone else. He knew that there were several boys in her House that wanted to be where he was with Molly and would jump at any chance to do so.

One of those boys had tried to interfere with them and had paid a painful price when he had “slipped” on one of the stones out in the Entry Courtyard and had fallen. This had resulted in a badly broken arm and a trip to the Hospital Wing for the would-be suitor. Tom had appeared blameless, being on the other side of the courtyard when the boy had approached Molly, and had rushed to offer aid to the stricken Hufflepuff. This act had gained Slytherin ten points for the display of compassion that Tom had exhibited and Molly had become more entranced with him because of it.

“Tom, are you there?” Molly asked with a giggle.

Tom glanced into the dancing brown eyes of the girl and at the smile that she wore.

“I’m sorry, Molly, I was just thinking about something.”

“I’ll say, you almost walked into that pillar back there. If I hadn’t grabbed you, you would have plowed right into it! So, are they like that down in Slytherin?”


“Crabbe and Goyle! Do they stick together like that down in Slytherin?”

“Inseparable! You cannot get them apart.”

“That’s what I thought.”

They arrived at the door to the classroom and Tom opened it to allow the girl to enter before crossing the threshold himself. Groans escaped several students as they saw the parchments that lay on their desks and the quills that lay beside them. Obviously they were going to take an exam and there was no chance of cheating for Professor Slughorn had provided special quills that prevented dishonesty during their task.

Molly and Tom sat down quietly as Horace Slughorn watched his class of first years walk into the room. They had just been seated and were preparing to begin when Alfred Goyle and William Crabbe walked in together late to class and laughing boisterously. The professor approached the pair as they sat down and the boys looked up at him with an apparent lack of concern.

“Mister Crabbe, Mister Goyle, once again you are late to my class and have interrupted preparations for an exam. I am quite exasperated with your lack of dedication to your studies and concern for the impact that it has on your schoolmates. As much as it pains me to take points from the House that I head, ten points shall be taken from Slytherin…”

“Ten points!” the boys answered in unison as they interrupted the professor.

“Ten points for each of you! That means that Slytherin House shall lose twenty points. See to it that you are in this room on time from now on and lower your noise level as well. Now,” Slughorn continued as he faced the remainder of his class while the pair glowered at him, “you shall have ten minutes to look over your notes before we begin. I suggest that you get started now!”

Tom hurried to get his notes out of his bag while Molly had already opened hers to begin reading them. What she lacked in skill in the preparation of potions she made up for when taking notes and answering questions during class discussion. Horace Slughorn fully expected that the girl would be able to catch up with some of the more capable members of her class while others he doubted.

He glanced at yet another Slytherin boy that he felt had promise, if only he would apply himself.

‘Abraxas Malfoy is exactly the opposite in appearance of Tom Riddle,’ he thought to himself, ‘but clearly his equal in intelligence. If only he would apply himself in class, he has that arrogance about himself and does not care what others say about him.’

The boy with stark white hair and piercing blue eyes glanced up at the professor that was watching him and growled to himself.

‘Slimy Slughorn is watching me again. He thinks that just because he is the Head of Slytherin that it means something to me. I could care less about him or anything that he has to say to me. Father will have his job if he does anything less than pass me! He isn’t even good enough to be a servant let alone a professor; our filthy House-elves are far better than him at everything!’

Tom had noticed all of these things and was watching the happenings with interest. Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle all had the potential to be very useful and had the temperament that was needed as well as the determination to have those who opposed them on their knees. All that they needed was someone to lead them and Tom felt that he was just the person for that job.

He pushed the thoughts to the back of his mind where they could grow while he concentrated on the exam before him. The boy grinned as he realized that everything that he had studied was on the exam while what he had neglected was not. Somehow he had known what to study as usual and this ability, he knew, was one that would serve him well.

Professor Slughorn walked around his classroom while the children worked and he tried to rid himself of the headache that was plaguing him. It had started while the students were preparing for the exam and he was dressing Crabbe and Goyle down. Somehow it almost seemed as though someone had sifted through his mind, but he knew that this was impossible given the fact that these were first year students. The ability to look into someone’s mind was far beyond their abilities, requiring an enormous amount of study and practice and he knew that none of these children had possessed a chance to attain it.

The classroom was quiet save the scratching of quills against parchment and it was not long before students began to lay the quills down and raise their hand for his attention. He scuttled along through the rows to collect the exams as they were finished and soon was ready to dismiss his class. A quick scan of the room revealed what he suspected, however, as he saw that neither Crabbe nor Goyle were finished.

“Mister Crabbe, Mister Goyle, we are all waiting for you! As usual, you are the last to finish and I am quite certain that neither of your parchments will be complete. I shall mark what is finished and what is not shall be considered in error.”

The students watched as he stepped forward, snatched the parchments and then turned to dismiss the class as he shook his head while examining the latest exams to come into his possession. He dropped them onto the top of his desk and watched as the children filed out of the room while he wondered why his headache had suddenly vanished.

Molly glanced at the boy who was holding her hand as they walked towards their next class. Once again, Tom seemed to be deep in thought and quieter than normal. This troubled Molly for it was happening with increasing regularity and she had found that he was becoming distant at times. She liked Tom a lot, almost loved him, but wondered at times if her parents hadn’t been correct when they told her to stay away from Slytherin boys. The girl was grateful that her sister was not yet at Hogwarts as the younger child was certain to inform their parents about what their older daughter was doing, especially if she was going against their wishes.

Tom stopped abruptly bringing Molly to a halt as well. He looked at the girl before pulling his hand free.

“I have to step in here for a moment,” he said as he indicated the door to a boy’s restroom.

“I guess I’ll visit this one,” she answered as she walked towards a girl’s room.

Tom stepped into the restroom, not to use it in the normal sense, but to think for a moment. There was something to be done and he wondered if Malfoy, Crabbe or Goyle would be gullible enough to do it for him. A first year Ravenclaw had been giving him a bit of a headache where Molly was concerned and he knew if he dealt with the boy trouble would result. But, if he could make any of the three thick-headed dolts believe that the boy was talking about them perhaps they would take care of the problem for him. He smiled for a moment before leaving the bathroom to find Molly waiting patiently for him.

“And they say that girls take a long time in the bathroom! I thought that maybe you had slipped out and left me.”

He smiled at the pretty girl before grabbing her hand and joining her in a sprint towards class. Professor Lands’ room was not far and they had plenty of time to get there before being considered tardy. Tom marveled at the feel of the girl’s flesh next to his and hoped that nothing ever came between them. He also hoped that Molly would never do anything that would cause him to have to deal with her in a fashion that would end their relationship forever. The thought of that happening angered him and terrified him at the same time, but for now she seemed completely devoted to him and that was all that mattered.

When they arrived the pair hurried into the room and quickly found their seats. Molly proceeded to pull what she needed out of her bag while Tom’s attention settled on the boy from Ravenclaw that seemed to have eyes for Molly. Something had to be done and done quickly, the direct approach was out of the question but the other way wasn’t.

As the class settled down to listen to Professor Lands Tom glanced at Goyle, he was the best likely candidate for the deal. Moments later, Tom was deep in concentration, following along in class while at the same time putting his plan in motion.

Alfred Goyle was doing his normal, struggling to pay attention in class. Normally he could get at least some of what Professor Lands was saying, but today something was interfering with even that. Deep within his mind was the growing suspicion that one of the Ravenclaw first years was talking about how dull Goyle was, actually calling him dumb. Alfred knew that he wasn’t the brightest student, but he certainly was smart enough to understand that he didn’t like being talked about in that manner. He glanced up at the boy just as the Ravenclaw looked back at him and actually smirked!

‘Just wait until I catch up with you, you little dolt, I’ll teach you to talk about me and then smile about it! I’ll show you who the dull one is. We will just see how well you are able to look at the chalkboard with two black eyes.’

Tom watched as Goyle’s attention settled on the boy from Ravenclaw and knew that his plan was a success. Given Alfred’s tendency to settle things with his fists Robert would soon have other things to worry about besides Molly.

When class ended many minutes later the students hurried out of the classroom to go to the Great Hall for the mid-day meal. No one paid any attention to the fact that Goyle was not present at the Slytherin table or that Robert Parsons was not at the table for Ravenclaw, no one except Tom. A few minutes after lunch had begun Goyle sauntered into the chamber and made his way to his seat. None of the staff thought much of it as students often were late, having made stops in the restrooms.

Alfred sat down and Tom noticed with satisfaction the bruises on his knuckles.

“Hurt yourself there, Alfred?” Tom asked as he indicated the damage to the skin on the other boy’s hands.

“Just had to take care of a problem in the bathroom,” was the grunted reply.

It was towards the end of the meal that one of the Prefects from Ravenclaw noticed that Robert was not present at the table. The small boy had an annoyingly high pitched voice that never stopped making noise with incessant conversation. Still, it wasn’t like the boy to miss a meal as he seemed to eat the equivalent to his body weight at each sitting. The Prefect rose and hurried out of the Great Hall to look for the missing member of his House.

It would not be long before the missing child was located stuffed into a cupboard in one of the bathrooms by another student who needed to use the bathroom. Shortly, Professor Dippet was standing in the restroom while the boy was recovered from the place in which he had been hidden. Robert Parsons was a mess, he was bruised and his robes had been treated just as badly as he. The boy whimpered as he was led out of the room and carried to the Hospital Wing for treatment.

The news about the discovery of the missing boy quickly traveled about Hogwarts and Tom was satisfied with the results. There was no doubt that Goyle was responsible for the incident, but Tom wasn’t going to inform on him. He had proven to be useful and Tom wondered how many other students in his House would be just as useful. There were plenty of dull, thick-headed students in Slytherin of both genders that could be “recruited” to deal with resistance and this made Tom happy. He could get things done and yet still remain above suspicion, his hands free of blood.

Robert, once he had recovered, was unable to tell who had attacked him as he had been taken from behind. He had only a brief vision of a large person before the ordeal had begun and then he was stuffed into the cupboard. The person had said nothing, but had let his hands do the talking for him. Robert Parsons would spend the next few days thinking about what had occurred before deciding to stay to himself and keep his eyes off of others.

Molly was slightly disappointed by the sudden distance that Robert was giving her; the pair had been working together on an assignment for class while Tom had been paired with another girl. The pairings had been at random in Transfiguration and Molly was grateful when Professor Dumbledore told her to get with one of the existing groups when Robert had refused to work further with her. The boy had lost points for Ravenclaw when he told Dumbledore that he wanted to work alone after the incident in the bathroom, but had refused to budge on his resolve.

Robert fully believed that Tom was involved somehow, but was told that Tom had been in the Great Hall the entire time after he and Molly had entered together. It had to have been a boy because it had occurred in the boy’s restroom and the person was far too large to have been female. That left the few students who had entered the Great Hall late, one of which was Alfred Goyle.

Alfred maintained his innocence when questioned and readily explained the damage to his knuckles as the result of a fall down some stairs, an incident which had occurred before the attack and had been seen by many including staff. The large boy claimed to know nothing about the assault and stuck to his story which in the end helped relegate the attack to the position of an unsolved mystery.

Many nights after the attack, Goyle lay in his bed as he thought about what had happened and considered the change since.

‘I guess that the little prat will be careful about whom he talks about, but how did I know that he was talking about me? No one told me and I didn’t catch him, so how did I know? I’m going to find out one way or the other and deal with them too.’

Tom lay in his own bed as he too thought about the incident with Robert. It had all been so easy, just as it had been back in Wool’s Orphanage when he would make the other orphans do what he wanted them to do. He smiled to himself as the memories of orphans being led into Mrs. Cole’s office to be punished came back to him and the confusion that the others had expressed when they were caught doing things that they knew were wrong, but were doing anyway. Some of them had explained that they had been forced to do what they had done, but these explanations had been pushed aside as excuses and the punishments had proceeded.

The most delicious memories were those of Amy being punished for things that she had been made to do. He had enjoyed the wailing that the girl had produced as she emerged from the office of Mrs. Cole as he had watched from concealment at the top of the stairs.

These were the only things that he missed about the orphanage, that and the truck that still lay hidden under the board in his former room. No doubt it was still there because there was no reason for anyone to lift the boards in the floor and he had made certain that they were tightly fastened down. He was certain that the toy would lay there until the building itself came down therefore his secret was safe.

He fell asleep that night unaware that someone else in the castle was thinking about the incident. Albus Dumbledore sat at the desk in his classroom as he considered what had happened. The boy had been present and in plain sight when Robert Parsons had been attacked, but was he entirely blameless? He had been angry when he had not been paired with Molly Porter, almost frighteningly so, and then incredibly happy when the other boy had been attacked.

Tom had told him that he could make others do what he wanted and Dumbledore wondered if the boy had planted the suggestion in the mind of Alfred Goyle. The Goyle boy had such an undisciplined mind that he represented a prime target for such an act. Dumbledore put down the quill that he had been using to mark papers to stare out across his empty classroom at the seat normally occupied by Tom Riddle.

“What have you done, Tom?” he said to himself. “What have you done and what else do you intend to do?”

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