The conversation between Tom and Maxwell Amner was short.

“He said what about me?”

“Thomas Cowell said that you were worthless at curses and couldn’t make a wart on a toad. He also said that the only way that you made it to Seventh Year was by cheating off of your girl.”

“I am going to give him something to think about the next time that I see him.”

“Why get into trouble, Maxwell, when you can get him into trouble and maybe out of Hogwarts forever.”

This suggestion piqued the interest of the larger, but less intelligent boy.

“What do you think that I should do?”

“Oh, maybe have the dolt attack a Prefect?”

“A Prefect?”

“Yes, a Prefect, and he should do it in front of everyone.”

“He could get expelled for that.”

“Yes, he could, and would it not be worth it to see the git walked out of here by Dippet?”

Maxwell nodded his head and then looked at the smaller boy strangely.

“He does he have to hit?”

“James Bernard.”

“I like the way that you think, Tom, so how do we do it?”

“You are pretty good with curses, all that you have to do is make them hate each other and want to fight. Bernard will probably lose the fight and end up in the Hospital Wing and Cowell gets put out of school for good. Everyone says that he got into a fight last term and nearly got sent out then. They will not think twice about sending him out now, especially if he beats up a Prefect.”

“It should be easy because they hate each other as it is. When do we do it?”

“Why not do it tonight? A fight right in the middle of the Great Hall before the evening meal would get everyone’s attention. By tomorrow Thomas could be back on the train and headed for home while James is lying in the Hospital Wing. Even if James does win the fight, Thomas still gets sent home for fighting again.”

The pair shook hands as they rose from the bench that they were occupying and then hurried to part. Maxwell hated both of the boys that had been targeted after not one, but both, had dated his former girlfriend. He had been looking for some way to strike at the pair and now his younger Housemate had given him a gem of a plan. He could get rid of both of the boys, especially if they drew their wands during the confrontation. The large Slytherin boy walked away from the meeting place with a smile on his face and a purpose in his mind. The wand in his robes would serve him again as it had in the past when he had been tasked with dealing someone who threatened what Tom Riddle and the rest of Slytherin was building.

Tom and his group of closest allies hurried to a vacant area of the castle while their pawn sat in his dorm room and considered what he was about to do. If he was successful the pair of boys would be taught a lesson that they would never forget, but if he failed he would be the one leaving Hogwarts forever. He thought about the plethora of curses that he had learned in the seven years that he had studied here at Hogwarts and decided which one that he would use. All that he needed to remember to do was to counter it so that there would be no trace of it when Cowell was questioned by Professor Dippet, which was something that was certain to happen.

While all of this was going on Molly Porter had finished emptying her trunk and had watched as the clothing appeared in her wardrobe. The girl enjoyed doing some of her chores as a Muggle child would have to do, but this did not extend to all chores. She hated cleaning up after herself and that was where the wand proved useful, no matter how large the mess it would vanish with a wave of the wand and a simple spell that she had been taught.

She turned to look out through the window at the forest beyond the castle. Molly could also see the bridge on which she had been standing with Tom when they had kissed for the first time. It seemed so long ago that she had felt very deep feelings for the boy and she wondered if those feelings would ever again be as strong now that they were both back in the castle.

“Molly! Please tell me that you have finished unpacking,” the girl next to her announced, “I am so hungry and it will not be long before the evening meal.”

“Well, if you had taken advantage of the cart on the train you would not be starving.”

“You can only eat so many Pumpkin Pasties before you start to think that you are going to turn orange and get very round with green hair.”

“You, my dear friend Carol, can be so totally mental! You know that, don’t you?”

The girls laughed at the good natured poking and then hurried out of their dorm to start the trip to the Great Hall. As they walked, the friends talked about their plans for the remainder of the term.

“Molly, do you plan on continuing to try to get back with that horrid Tom Riddle?”

“He is not horrid, he just needs someone to care for him and that is what I intend to try to do.”

“So you plan to start seeing him again?”

“Yes, Carol, I plan to start seeing him again, if he will have me.”

“Now you are the one that is being so totally mental, Molly. Tom is far from being pleasant at times and, in fact, can be a bit of a bully when the mood strikes him.”

“You would be a little bit off if your parents had died horribly, would you not?”

“His parents died?”

“He told me that they had died horribly and then he was raised by a Muggle.”

Carol Markham grimaced at the thought of growing up in a Muggle home. To have the ability to perform magic but not be able to would be terrible to say the least. The girl couldn’t think of anything worse than that fate.

They arrived at the Great Hall to see students from other Houses already gathering and they hurried to get to their favored spots before someone else beat them to it. They settled down onto the benches to continue their conversation and Molly could not help but notice when Tom and his friends entered the chamber. The girl hoped that the boy would look for her and she was not disappointed when he did and then sent a shy smile towards her when their eyes met.

Abraxas noticed the exchange with a bit of disappointment as he had actually been hoping for a chance at the girl himself. The memory of the exchange in Diagon Alley brought these hopes down swiftly as he realized that much would have to be done if he ever wanted a relationship with the girl.

None of them noticed Maxwell Amner as he carefully slipped the wand out of his robes before walking past Thomas Cowell. The swift curse was sent on its way and Maxwell was pleased to see the eyes of the boy go out of focus and then return to clarity as James Bernard entered the room with several of his friends.

“Thomas, are you well?”

The girl that had spoken to the affected boy was ignored as fury grew within him as the Prefect drew nearer. James was involved in a conversation with his friends and barely glanced at the boy who now wished him harm, though deep inside he didn’t know why.

“Thomas, what are you doing?”

The question was answered as Thomas Cowell, though younger but much larger, lashed out at the Prefect that was passing him. James had no chance to avoid the strike and took the attack on the chin, a blow which sent him reeling into the table that was filling with young Slytherin. Shouts of surprise and anger filled the room as students scrambled to get out of the way of the angered young wizards.

James, recovering from the strike, managed to recover enough to ask a single question before a second assault hit him in the face.

“Thomas, what the hell are you on about?”

The answer came in the form of a fist which struck the Prefect and removed any hesitance that he had to fight. He managed to launch his own attack as Thomas closed the distance and managed to land a strike sufficient to drive the other boy back. Prefects from other Houses hurried into the fray to attempt to drag the combatants apart only to collect wild swings themselves. Something that had begun as a simple fight between two boys turned into an all-out brawl with many students involved. This had an effect that none of the planners of the conflict had considered.

Thomas, reeling from a punch, clawed for his wand and managed to drag it from his robes before casting a spell at his opponent. Immediately James was thrown backwards to crash among several incoming students who were hurrying to get into the room before the excitement ended. The victim of the spell nearly flattened several younger students as he landed on them and he tried to rise swiftly to counter the attack. He clawed for his own wand and nearly had it when he was struck by magic a second time.


The wand, just clearing the robes of the boy, was ripped from his hand and thrown out into the foyer just outside the room. James, terrified by the happenings, looked from his fallen wand and back to his advancing opponent. Thomas, sensing that he had won the match, raised his wand to point it at the chest of the fallen Prefect.

“This should have been done long ago, James.”

Thomas was about to strike down the fallen Prefect when a curse struck him from behind.

Petrificus Totalis!

Instantly the boy when completely stiff and the wand fell from his hand to clatter to the floor an instant before its owner. Stunned eyes went to the source of the curse to see Molly Porter still pointing her wand at the fallen boy. Her hand was trembling and she dropped her own wand as staff finally managed to push past the crowd and into the chamber.

“He was going to kill me!” James announced to the Prefect from Gryffindor that helped him to his feet.

“What has happened here? Who started this outrage?” Armando Dippet roared as he pushed to the front of the group.

“He did, Professor Dippet,” James Bernard said as he was helped to a bench. “He attacked me for no reason as I was walking past him with my friends. We had not even spoken since our return to the castle and he attacked me without provocation.”

“Is this true?”

Quiet responses to the affirmative answered the question of Armando Dippet as he surveyed the room and the still stunned faces that filled it. His eyes finally came to rest on the girl who had ended the battle which had involved many.

“Miss Porter, did you cast the Body-Bind curse?”

“Yes, Professor Dippet, I cast it to stop Thomas from hurting James. Am I in trouble?”

“No, Miss Porter, you are not in trouble. You defended someone from harm and I commend you for it.”

The headmaster stepped forward to gather the fallen wand of Thomas Cowell and then cast a counter to release the boy from the curse that had struck him. Thomas, free of the Body-Bind, rose swiftly to his feet in an attempt to attack the Prefect who now was sitting on a bench while his wounds were being examined. He was suddenly frozen once again and laying on the floor but, before that happened Maxwell cast his second action of the evening as he deftly countered the curse that he had placed on his rival.

“I want this room set straight and all involved in my office immediately. Miss Porter, you may remain here for the meal although I shall wish to talk to you later.”

“Yes, Professor Dippet.”

Instantly the headmaster and Thomas Cowell vanished and all assembled knew that their schoolmate was now in the office of Armando Dippet. Tom and his friends were overjoyed to see that their plan had worked and also that Maxwell had managed to remove his curse to avoid its detection. The room was set right and it was not long before platters and bowls of food appeared on the tables before the hungry children.

Tom felt as though he could never eat enough to get full while he and his friends secretly celebrated their success but Molly Porter sat quietly at her table, unable to eat a bite. Her stomach felt as if it were twisted into knots and she wondered if she could even eat anything and have it stay down. She abruptly rose and hurried out of the Great Hall to rush to a nearby girl’s restroom where she lost what little she had in her stomach.

The ordeal over, she sat quietly on the floor of the stall that she had staggered to as she cried. She didn’t particularly like Thomas Cowell and she hated to admit it but she had used the boy to make Tom Riddle jealous. Now she had petrified the boy by using her wand and he would likely be expelled from Hogwarts forever, but he had attacked a Prefect and had been preparing to do real harm when she had done it. The question in her young mind now was about her future at Hogwarts.

Professor Dippet had told her that she was not in trouble. She had used magic to protect another student, but what would Thomas’ friends think about what she had done? Would they be angry enough to move against her and retaliate should he be expelled? Would she be safer if she just told Professor Dippet that she wanted to leave Hogwarts for another school? Molly Porter’s mind would swim with the questions and possible consequences of her actions until a concerned female staff member came looking for her.

“I do not want to leave Hogwarts,” she wailed as the older witch took the weeping child into her arms.

“Molly,” Professor Emeline Horst said softly as she comforted the child, “Professor Dippet will not expel you for what you did. You may have saved a life tonight or, at least, stopped someone from being hurt severely.”

“But what about Thomas’ friends, if he gets expelled because of this will they be angry with me?”

“Why should they be angry with you? You did nothing but the correct thing to do, you just did it before anyone else could! If anything, Professor Dippet is likely to award Hufflepuff a large number of points for what you did and probably send an owl to your parents praising their daughter for taking the initiative and saving someone from harm. You are a hero, Miss Molly Porter!”

Molly looked up at the professor and realized that the woman was smiling down at her.
“Now, wipe your eyes, splash your face with some cool water and let us get back to dinner before everything is gone.”

Molly hugged the professor and then hurried to follow the directions that she had been given. She was soon at the side of the professor as they walked back to the Great Hall and smiled as the older witch playfully ruffled the fair hair of the child beside her.

“Hurry back to your place and get something to eat.”

“Yes, ma’am, Professor Horst.”

Tom watched from his table as the girl walked swiftly back to her own seat and then proceeded to fill her own plate before settling down to eat. As he watched the girl he felt that strange feeling that the sight of her always elicited within him. Tom realized that she represented a future quite different than he envisioned. He had reached a fork in the road of his life and now stood poised as he tried to decide which direction to travel. If he went down the path that his actions dictated he would lose the girl forever and, with her, a chance at a life without conflict. But if he chose the girl, all that he had been working towards with his companions would collapse and his followers would abandon him. Either way, he clearly understood, he would be abandoned by someone and that was something that he didn’t want to experience. He settled back down to his meal as dessert appeared before them and tried to put the conflict out of his mind.

Thomas Cowell, now free to move, sat silently in the office of Headmaster Armando Dippet, his wand lying forlornly on the desk of the wizard who now would decide the fate of the boy.

“Mister Cowell, you have been warned again and again about physical aggression against other students, but here you are once again before me for that same offense. The difference is that this time you drew your wand and attempted to harm Mister Bernard. Several other students and Prefects also were injured in this confrontation that apparently was completely provoked by you! A number of witnesses have confirmed Mister Bernard’s story that he had said nothing to you nor made any sort of aggressive actions. You simply struck him for no reason and then drew your wand while he was down. I have decided that, since you attacked a Prefect and then drew your wand with intent to harm that Prefect without giving thought to the possible injury to others around you, you are expelled from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry immediately. An owl has already been sent to your parents and they will be here soon to collect you and your belongings.”

“Will I get my wand back?”

“I shall return it to your parents but be aware of the fact that the Ministry of Magic will be contacting you to decide if you will be permitted to reapply to this school or any other, as it is you are finished for this term. You will return to your dormitory to gather your things and then proceed to the Isolation Tower to wait for your parents.”

“Yes, Professor Dippet.”

Armando Dippet watched as the young wizard turned and walked out of the office. He could not help but notice the longing glance back at the wand or the tears that were coursing down the cheeks of the young man. The door closed quietly behind Thomas Cowell and it was then that the headmaster picked up the wand and regarded it as he thought about its owner.

‘What in the name of Merlin possessed you to attack another student the way that you did?’

The old headmaster sat back in his chair as he pondered the mystery unaware that in the dormitory occupied by Tom Riddle and his friends a quiet celebration was underway.

“That was brilliant, Tom,” Abraxas Malfoy announced. “I heard in the corridor that Cowell will likely be expelled and that Bernard will be in the Hospital Wing for a few days. You were a genius when you picked Amner to do the dirty work.”

“Oh, I made certain that it never comes back to us if the big oaf decides to talk about it.”


“I had another one of our associates Obliviate him. There is no way that he will remember doing it, let alone us talking him into it. If necessary a well-placed rumor will get him put out when information gets back to Dippet that maybe the dolt’s wand needs to be read.”

“But if the wand got read Dippet might let Cowell come back.”

“Not likely, he drew his wand and was ready to blast Bernard into oblivion. I did not think about that happening but it makes things certain that Cowell will not be back. Bernard’s parents will make certain of it.”

“How do you know that?”

“Because I know that Bernard’s father works for the Ministry and will not let this slide. Cowell is done, probably for good, and I should imagine that he will spend the rest of his life as a Muggle.”

The collected boys smiled at their good fortune and would go to bed that night dreaming glorious dreams of success. Molly Porter, her mind now at ease after meeting with Professor Dippet, would sleep peacefully and dream much less malevolent things. Thomas Cowell would sit awake all night as he thought about the events of the day and wonder what the future held for him and if he would ever again walk the corridors of Hogwarts Castle.

Maxwell Amner would also think about the future. He had done what was asked of him and his co-conspirators had then sent another to remove his memories of the incident. What no one knew was that the plot had failed and he remembered everything. The wand that he had used now lay safely in a hiding spot that he used to conceal contraband and he was preparing plans of his own.

“You made a mistake, Tom, I am not as dull as you think. No doubt you are planning to hand me over to Dippet if necessary but that would be the biggest mistake of all. You are walking yourself out of Hogwarts and I shall be happy to show you the way to life as a Muggle.”

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