What both had feared came very nearly true, although Molly had taken it quite a bit better than Tom had. The young pair had split for a time and, after many tearful days that were filled with anxiety for both, the boy and girl had mended their relationship to carry on. One thing that was crystal clear, however, was that neither intended to leave the House that they had been sorted into. This created a rift that, while invisible to others, was quite apparent to the couple.

Molly noticed quite early that Tom had begun to distance himself to her, only being attentive to her feelings when he wanted to be. The boy stayed aloof and often found reasons to be with his friends rather than the girl, but being immediately at her side when another boy gave her some attention. This had proven to be a problem for him when he confronted a Hufflepuff boy that was a year older and quite a bit larger about flirting on the boy’s part that was being directed at Molly.

The end result of the yelling and pushing was a black eye that Tom walked away from the scene with. The crowd that had gathered around the boys in the Transfiguration Courtyard had swiftly vanished as Professor Dumbledore hurried out of his room just in time to see the blow struck and Tom reeling from the impact.

“Tom, I want you to go to the Hospital Wing to have that looked at and then report to Professor Dippet in his office.”

The boy nodded numbly as he left the area and walked towards the designated destination while the older boy walked with Professor Dumbledore towards the Headmaster’s Office. Molly had watched in horror as the pair of boys had clashed and knew that she was the reason that they were fighting. She didn’t particularly care for Ward Reynolds but he had brought Tom to his senses and the girl hoped that Tom would pay more attention to her now that he knew that other boys found her desirable.

The stay in the hospital had been brief and Tom was soon walking towards the tower that held the Headmaster’s Office. The stairs seemed to grow in number with each one that he ascended, but he finally reached the top to stand outside the guardian that protected the stairs up to the place he needed to be in.


“Tom Riddle.”

“You may pass, Tom Riddle.”

Tom stepped forward and soon began a turning journey as the stairs began a spiral on their own until he reached the corridor that led to the office of Armando Dippet. A solitary door waited at the end of the corridor and he knocked on it before waiting for it to be answered. Without waiting, the door swung open silently and he stepped into the office that students tried to avoid.

The boy entered a circular room that was flanked by numerous glass fronted cabinets that held often indescribable objects the origin of which he could not even begin to imagine. Dozens of portraits of wizards and witches covered the ceiling of the chamber except for where a large arched opening lay.

Through it he could see two more circular chambers, each on a higher elevation than the one before it. The top-most chamber held an incredible piece of machinery that he couldn’t understand the function of and the one below it was filled with bookshelves that held more books than he had ever seen, with the exception of Flourish and Blotts. The bookshop might have as many books as there were in this room, but he doubted it.

What gathered his attention though was the desk that sat in the center of the arched opening and the wizard that sat behind it while the boy that he had fought sat in a chair waiting for him. He approached slowly and then sat down in a vacant chair that had appeared while he ascended the short flight of stairs to the office.

Armando Dippet regarded the small, dark-haired boy that was joining the conversation and wasn’t certain what to make of him. Most students who appeared in his office were visibly frightened, but this one seemed to be almost unconcerned about the situation.

“Mister Reynolds, Mister Riddle, I am very concerned about the occurrence in the Transfiguration Courtyard. Fighting is not permitted at Hogwarts and will not be tolerated in any form. Now it is my understanding that the whole thing occurred because of a young lady, but I highly doubt that fighting is the way to impress her. You are not stags fighting in the forest over a doe. I am going to take ten points from each House in the hopes that you will take this as a learning experience and will not repeat it. Should you gentlemen decide to continue this nonsense I shall take stronger measures to deal with it.”

The wizard behind the desk waved his hand and the door that the boys had used to enter the chamber opened.

“You may both go, but be aware of the fact that I shall watch you both until you reach your common rooms.”

The boys swiftly rose and soon were walking back to their respective common rooms to gather what they needed for their next classes. Tom was rather angry that he had gotten the same punishment as Ward. He was the one with the black eye, not Ward, and yet he was being punished for being a victim. He was also a tad upset with Molly, who seemed to have encouraged the interest that the boy had shown in her. While he had no intention of striking back at the girl unless she directly provoked him, Ward was not going to be so fortunate. All that had to happen was an opportune accident to put the boy out of action and Tom knew exactly when to strike.

A short time later he was with his Herbology class as they examined some of the roots that tended to be useful in potion making. The class had been moved outside for this very reason and they were quite near the field used for flying practice, a class that Ward Reynolds was attending at this time. Tom could see the boy as the second years practiced and heard the shouted insult as the class passed nearby. Tom and his class looked up as the boy went over head and then spurred speed out of his broom to get back to where he needed to be but would not make it.

Suddenly, the broom that the boy was on began to buck wildly as if it was intending to make him leave it. He screamed in terror as the broom began a series of loops, rolls and zoom climbs that were nearly vertical before rocketing back downwards towards the ground in very nearly the same attitude. To the professor who was managing the flying class, it looked as though Ward was showing off to the astounded class of first years below. He was about to shout to the boy when the broom suddenly took another terrifying dive that carried it into the top of a tree with incredible force.

The sounds of breaking branches sounded to the class that had watched the spectacle from below. Carried through the branches with terrible velocity the broom was suddenly rid of the boy who had been riding it and soared free up into the sky until it abruptly tumbled to the ground below. Ward, swept off of the broom by a branch, crashed downward through the tree to fall to the grassy soil below the oak. He lay there, bruised, bloody and silent as the first years, their professor and the members of his class hurried to his side.

When they reached the scene of his impact, the horrified first years tried to look away from the damage that had been done to their schoolmate and Molly turned her head to bury her face in Tom’s shoulder. She put her arms around him while she began to sob and Tom put his own around her to support and comfort her as he considered the crumpled form before them.

‘It is too bad that broom did not hit a little harder and you were not a bit farther up!

Before long, the scene was crowded by the arrival of the nurse as well as Professor Dippet and another professor. The students were hustled away from the scene and none gave Tom more than a passing glance. Why would they, he had been on the ground and the other boy in the air? Tom couldn’t possibly have had anything to do with the accident; he hadn’t had a wand out and didn’t know enough to have affected the broom.

As the thoroughly shaken Herbology class walked back into the castle Tom realized that, even though he appeared innocent, he needed to be very careful with Professor Dumbledore around. The professor knew what he could do and the last thing that he wanted was to be put out of the school for misbehavior. He would appear very guilty to Professor Dumbledore because of the fight that he and Ward had had that day.

Professor Beery dismissed the students after they had gathered their belongings and they were soon sitting down in the Great Hall after an announcement was made that Headmaster Dippet wanted to address the school.

“Just a short time ago, one of our students was severely injured by a horrible accident during flying practice. Ward Reynolds of Hufflepuff House was the unfortunate victim of losing control of his broom while he was apparently showing off for other students and then crashed into a large tree. His injuries are extensive and he has already been sent to St. Mungo’s for treatment.”

“I must caution all of you that displaying acrobatics in the air for the benefit of impressing others is a practice that is best reserved for those who have a great many years of experience riding a broom. While the incident is being investigated there shall be no practice on the brooms and I would ask any who have information about this occurrence to come forward.”

“You are all dismissed until we reassemble here for dinner in a short while.”

Tom watched as the remainder of the student body rose to leave before he and his friends did the same. Abraxas Malfoy grinned broadly as he recounted the incident.

“Did you see the look on his face right before he hit that tree? It was almost as good as when he was hanging on for dear life while it was trying to throw him off! I would have given anything to have had a camera then!”

Alfred and William grinned in response to what Abraxas was saying, but Tom was busy trying to look annoyed as he realized that Molly was watching him while she waited by the door to the foyer. He parted from his friends and was soon at the side of the girl, who swiftly reached out to take his hand. They left the foyer to walk outside into the courtyard where other small groups were gathering to discuss what had happened.

“I’ve never seen anything more terrifying than what happened to Ward!”

“Yeah, I mean, I didn’t like him, but no one should have that happen to them. He could have been killed!”

“I heard Professor Dippet say that Ward had a lot of bones that were probably broken and maybe damage inside him.”

“They don’t think that he will die, do they?” Tom asked as he tried to appear concerned about the welfare of his rival for Molly’s attentions.

“I didn’t hear that part,” Molly replied before turning and looking into Tom’s eyes. “He could be hurt badly enough to die, couldn’t he?”

“He hit that tree really hard and then fell out of it from the top.”

Molly burst into tears as she buried her face against Tom’s robe covered shoulder. He put his arms around her as if trying to comfort her and was glad that she wasn’t looking into his eyes for fear of what she would have read in them. His friends and other boys watched from a distance as he held the highly desirable girl from Hufflepuff as they wondered how to get her away from Tom and into their arms.

Agatha also watched from the other side of the courtyard, she and her friends had spent their time in the Isolation Tower and their fury was undiminished. They were angry that the little Hufflepuff snip was in the arms of a boy that many girls in their House found attractive, even handsome. Clearly something needed to be done to remove Molly Porter from the picture and it had to be done swiftly.

“We need to catch her alone and give her a taste of what she will be getting more of if she does not stay away from him. Maybe a trip down some stairs would do the trick and convince her to steer clear of Tom Riddle.”

The other girls nodded before the group hurried back into the castle to plan their strike against the smaller girl.

Molly finally stepped away from the boy to look deep into his eyes. She saw no sign of deceit and mistook what she saw for concern for her well-being. Then she looked down at the ground before speaking to him again.

“I really don’t like Ward; I just wanted you to pay more attention to me, Tom. You have been spending more and more time with your friends and ignoring me. It hurt, Tom, and I didn’t know what else to do. I just had not counted on you boys getting into a fight, I’m sorry about the black eye that you got.”

“That’s okay, Molly, I’m sorry about ignoring you. Sometimes I just wanted to be with my friends and I didn’t think about your feelings.”

She stepped forward and then pressed her lips against those of the boy while around the courtyard other students watched, some with envy, others with glee at the spectacle and others with anger that the pair had not split.

When they finally parted after the kiss, the pair joined hands and walked back into the castle to settle down at a table in the Great Hall while they talked. Tom realized now that the girl was completely devoted to him and, as much as the thought hurt him, he also knew that she could be a valuable tool to use to get what he wanted. He felt a strange conflict within him as he considered how much he truly did care for the girl, far more than he had ever cared for anyone else, and yet he was prepared to sacrifice her in order to achieve his goals. For now he was content to play the game that she wanted to, but in the end he knew that Molly Porter was just as disposable as a piece of torn parchment.

He rose from where he was sitting when the students began to file in for the evening meal, but not before accepting the kiss that she offered. Tom Riddle walked back to the Slytherin table where he joined the group of boys that had been gravitating to him. Even older students were looking to him for leadership, nothing could have pleased him more, and they were forming a gang that other students took great pains to avoid. As the group sat together a set of eyes was trained upon them from the High Table.

Albus Dumbledore was concerned about the growing hold that the boy had on students who were drawn to him. These were students who could not afford to get into trouble, their marks were below standard and many had experienced run-ins with at least one professor. Yes, the boy had charisma and he was using it to experience something that he never had before in his life, power over others. While Dumbledore had no doubt that the boy was responsible for the reign of terror that had troubled Wool’s Orphanage, Tom had never had a group of followers such as this.

A glance at Molly Porter revealed a soul in danger of being shattered by heartache when the inevitable happened and Tom Riddle shed her as he would a piece of refuse. Yes, Tom Riddle was brilliant in class and near the top of each class that he attended, but where he excelled was in the Defense against the Dark Arts class.

Professor Lands was very pleased with Tom’s abilities and often crowed about the achievements of the boy although he did admit that the child had strange tendencies. While he portrayed himself as a loner and often shunned company while at the same time feigning compassion for others, especially Molly, he was surrounding himself with students who had better things to do than get themselves into trouble.

As the meal appeared in front of the children, Tom hurried to fill his plate before he started to eat. He kept up a lively conversation with his friends and noticeably ignored the longing glances that the girl he professed to care for was sending his way. The boy had a dark side to him and a thirst to learn all that he could in a very short time. He had the potential to teach one day, but a weakness in the consideration of others.

Tom looked up from his plate to see Professor Dumbledore watching him.

‘I have to be more careful about things. It won’t do to have him looking into what I do. It’s time to start having some of the others do what I want them to do.’

Dinner would pass quickly that evening and soon the students were walking back to their Houses to prepare for the night. Tom swiftly sought out Abraxas with a bit of “news” about a boy from Gryffindor that was making fun of Abraxas and talking about his white hair. Actually, the Gryffindor wasn’t saying a word about Malfoy, but he was having great sport as he traded information about things that Tom had done. Tom was very afraid that the information would reach Professor Dippet and that meant trouble far greater than losing points.

Abraxas was furious, he and the Gryffindor had been at odds since the start of the term and, since he had no reason to doubt what Tom was saying, he began to plan his revenge against the other boy. Lean, powerful and now filled with hatred, Abraxas Malfoy was a force to be reckoned with and soon the boy from Gryffindor would be dealing with more than he had considered.

The next morning, shortly before the start of classes, the Gryffindor boy was found in a bathroom nearly unconscious. He had obviously been attacked, though he could not recall who had struck him. Abraxas had enlisted the help of several other Slytherin boys and had dealt with a perceived slight against him. The boy would be very cautious about what he said after that and the threat against Tom ended before it had really begun. Tom was pleased by the news of the retaliation and very happy that none of it could be traced back to him. The members of his group were proving to be very useful and he wondered if they would be just as handy when the time came to strike against those who had wronged him in the Muggle world.

The days after the incident passed swiftly and before long they were approaching October. Tom felt nearly invincible with threat after threat soundly dealt with, especially with the news that Ward would not be returning to Hogwarts for quite a long while. His injuries were serious enough that the healers at St. Mungo’s wanted him to have an extended rest at home while he mended.

Molly, despite her apparent devotion to Tom, at times harbored suspicions about his potential involvement in “accidents” that troubled the members of Houses other than Slytherin. While there was no direct evidence that he had been present or even at fault with the many injuries that had occurred, the girl was hearing whispered rumors that she doubted she was supposed to hear. Many were afraid to speak when she was present for fear of the information getting back to Tom. None of the students realized that she too was questioning his innocence and wondering how long their relationship would last.

Tom, for his part, cared nothing about any of this. Things were going as he had planned and anyone who opposed him soon felt the pain of the error of their ways. He questioned Molly’s allegiance to him and knew that, sooner or later, she would also have to be dealt with. Once he had truly cared for the girl but the distance between them was growing and he knew that a split was coming. Then, she too would feel the pain that came to those who resisted him.

Albus Dumbledore considered the options open to him. He had no sure evidence that the boy was responsible for any of the things that had happened around the castle, only what he remembered from the conversation that he had carried on with Tom so many months ago while sitting in the bedroom that the boy had occupied in the orphanage. There was very little that he could do to prove Tom’s guilt and he wondered just how far the boy was willing to go.

‘The Ministry and I may have made an error in believing that this child can be brought to a normal way of thinking. He harbors power and hatred that is far above anything that I have seen in many years and may prove to be a danger to us all, both here in Hogwarts and around our world.’

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