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Billy grumbled to himself as he worked at completing chores that would have been Tom’s if Herbert had gone along with the story in the lavatory. The git had actually informed on him to Mrs. Cole and Martha and now he was stuck with the chores of two people, much to the amusement of many other orphans.

The adults had gone to great lengths to keep the pair of boys apart to prevent a fight and, so far, had been successful. Billy and Tom were kept apart, even at mealtime, to prevent an escalation of hostilities between them. Now, as he carefully cleaned the stair railings, Billy thought about the revenge that he wanted to enact upon Tom before the other boy left to go to his special school.

Clearly beating the other boy up was out of the question and trashing his room didn’t work either, none of them had enough belongings to make this plan anything more than an annoyance for Tom. There was also the fact that the rooms had been inspected this morning in preparation for a visit from the organization that funded the orphanage. Mrs. Cole would know that he had done it and there would be more punishment.

While the other boy worked at his task, Tom was busy in the kitchen helping in the organization of the shelves and cupboards. He didn’t mind helping Martha in her task and it didn’t hurt that it kept him away from Billy. The last thing that he really wanted was for more trouble with the larger boy to happen. He wanted desperately for the remaining days of break to come to an end so that he could return to Hogwarts, but before that he had to get to Diagon Alley to buy his supplies and that was going to be difficult. Mrs. Cole had been keeping a very close eye on him thus preventing him from making another excursion out and about.

His only chance was today, for once he was done in the kitchen he would be permitted to go out into the yard to play. It would be easy then, because Mrs. Cole would demand that he wear his jacket outside and he would be forced to go up to his cupboard to get it. Once there he could retrieve the bag that Professor Dumbledore had given him as well as the list of needed supplies. Then it was merely a matter of slipping away to shop. Tom at the Leaky Cauldron would hang onto his things for him, he knew that and then they would be ready when the time came to go to King’s Cross for the trip to Hogwarts.

For him to be able to slip away he needed a distraction and he already had one in mind. The fact that it involved Billy helped and he knew that it would be effective in what he needed to happen. The last plate was set upon the stack that he had been drying and Martha picked up the stack to place it on the freshly cleaned space the waited for it. He watched intently as the woman closed the door and then he neatly folded the towel that he had been using over the rail that waited for it.

Martha watched the boy as he finished the act and then nodded her approval after a glance around the room. Tom had worked like a whirlwind to get things done and had earned the freedom that the yard offered.

“Tom, you can go ahead and go upstairs to get your jacket. It’s dreadfully windy out there and you know that Mrs. Cole will want you to wear it. Run along now, before I find another stack of dishes that need to be washed.”

The boy nodded enthusiastically and then raced for the back stairs, the stairs away from Billy, to make the trip to his room. He walked swiftly once up in the hallway and reached his room to enter it and then close the door behind him. The cupboard was soon open, the jacket on and the bag and envelope in his pocket. Tom made certain that the board was back into place as he prepared to leave for his trip and opened the door to see Billy glaring up at him from the landing below. He closed the door behind him and walked away to return to the back stairs. The time for the distraction was going to be soon.

Tom arrived in the kitchen and then made his way to the front door, past a matron that nodded approvingly as she saw that not only did he have the jacket that she had intended to remind him about on, but it was fastened as well.

“Be certain to stay inside the fence, Tom. Do not let me see you outside it or it will be no dessert tonight and sentences tomorrow.”

“Yes, ma’am, Mrs. Cole, I’ll stay in the courtyard.”

He slipped out the door that she had opened and was nearly out of the entryway when it happened. A wild shriek sounded and then a cascade of water tumbled down the stairs followed closely by Billy. He rolled down the steps head over heels to land in a heap at the bottom while Mrs. Cole and Tom stared at the spectacle with wide eyes. The woman rushed to the side of the boy while Tom hurried out into the courtyard. He would appear to be innocent, how could he be anything otherwise, Mrs. Cole had been standing next to him and he had been lucky that she couldn’t read his thoughts when he imagined Billy falling down the stairs.

Martha, on a mission to find the doctor, never saw Tom follow her out through the gate and then take a different route than she did. He knew that very likely it would take her a great deal of time to find the man and by the time she did he would be safely in Diagon Alley buying what he needed for the school term. He set his curving, twisting course for his destination knowing that his absence would no doubt be noticed and that Mrs. Cole would be incensed by his disobedience. But the lack of dessert and chore of sentences was a minor consideration when he thought about what might happen if he arrived at Hogwarts without his supplies and new robes.

He hurried on his way finally arriving at the Leaky Cauldron, while also making certain that he hadn’t been spotted by someone who might question his presence away from the orphanage and in this area of the city. The reassuring bulge in his pocket told him that the bag of coins was safe and he entered the building to see Tom behind his counter as always and no sign of Farley or his chums. He walked through the pub and out through the backdoor to arrive at the back wall of the small courtyard. He tapped on the bricks that had been shown to him and then watched as they parted to reveal the avenue of Diagon Alley.

Tom smiled as he stepped out among the crowd and then reached into his pocket to pull out the envelope, which immediately straightened out its acquired wrinkles from being in his pocket before removing the list within. The first thing that he needed was his new robes, as the old ones were undoubtedly going to be outgrown by now, and he didn’t want to walk into classes looking like he had not been able to buy new ones.

Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions (J.K. Rowling) was in his sight and he remembered it from his last trip here. Entering the shop, he immediately walked to the rack where school clothing for students from Slytherin House was kept and found a clerk on an intercept course for him.

“Here again I see, Mister Riddle, ready to buy robes for your second term at Hogwarts, are you?”

“I cannot wait to get back into school. It has been a ghastly summer.”

“It is odd that I never felt the same way when I was in school. I was always the first on the Hogwarts Express to go home and the last to board when it came time to go back at the end of break.”

Tom smiled at the comment while he wondered how the old wizard had remembered his name, especially when he didn’t remember giving it the last time that he had visited the shop. The measure that the wizard carried swiftly did its work and then clerk talked to him as it did.

“You have grown quite a bit since the last time that we met. It is definitely fortunate that you came in for new robes otherwise you might have looked as though you were preparing for a flood. The legs of your trousers would have been inching up towards your knees and the sleeves of your robes would have been approaching your elbows.”

It was not long before Tom was being handed his new robes, three sets of them, and then walking out of the shop after paying for them. He would spend the next several hours stopping at one shop after another until the bag that he had purchased was full, although it didn’t feel or look like it. Somehow, through some type of magic that he didn’t yet understand, the bag that he carried could never be filled to full and seemed to expand to carry objects much larger than it was. He imagined that he himself could actually climb into it and never be found, and this thought gave him an inspiration. If he could get back into the orphanage without being seen and make his way to his room, the bag would provide a wonderful hiding spot in which to plan for whatever needed to be planned for.

He exited the latest of shops and ran into Abraxas Malfoy in the process. Of course, Crabbe and Goyle were with the pale boy, they were inseparable and could always be counted on to serve as goats when something happened and someone needed to take the blame. Abraxas stopped short as he realized who he was facing and Tom spoke.

“Malfoy, how was your summer?”

“Not bad, great even, especially when you have servants to do things for you and there are no mud-bloods or professors around. How was yours?”

“Boring as usual, you are lucky, I have to live with that Muggle, at least you can do magic while you are on break. My wand had to stay at Hogwarts.”

“Yeah, I heard about that, Dippet would not budge on that, would he?”

“I should imagine that he was afraid that some Muggle git would find it and end up transfiguring themselves into a troll or something like that!”

The quartet laughed at the thought and then settled back down to conversation.

“Have you seen Molly Porter, Tom?”

“Not yet, I thought that maybe she has already done her shopping and was home by now. Have you seen her?”

“I saw her a few times during break. She was always with her parents so there was no chance to talk to her. I could not have talked to her anyway because her parents do not want me around her. They are still on about me asking her for a kiss once.”

Tom felt his face flush slightly with anger at the thought of Malfoy asking Molly for a kiss. They had been a couple during the last term and he hoped for more of the same this term.

“Have you seen the new schedule for the term, Tom?”

“I looked at it but had not given it much thought, why?”

“I cannot believe that we have to wait until the end of the day for Flying Practice! It is going to be hard as hell to sit in class all day while others are on broomsticks, even some of the mud-bloods.”

“Hey,” Crabbe broke in, much to the irritation of Tom and Abraxas, “at least we are second years this term. There are first years to pick on.”

Abraxas stopped himself as he prepared to dress the other boy down as a smile crossed his face.

“You know something, William, you are so correct! I had not thought about it before you mentioned it; we are not first years anymore! We do have first years to torment.”

The group laughed again, but Tom’s laughter was only half-hearted as his gaze drifted away from Abraxas and down the alley. As he watched, Molly’s parents stepped out of Flourish and Blotts, followed closely by Molly. The other boys, noticing that his attention had shifted, turned to see what had captured Tom’s attention and smiled as they saw the winsome blonde.

“It has been good talking to you, boys, I have some things to take care of,” Tom said as he stepped away from the group.”

“If she gets bored, let me know,” Abraxas called out to the boy, “I am certain that I can find some way to entertain her.”

Tom ignored the remark as he walked towards the girl and her parents. The crowd was thick and the going tough but he finally managed to catch up with the family.

“Hi Molly.”

The girl, hearing her name being spoken, turned and then smiled as she saw who it was.

“Tom, it is so good to see you,” she answered as she hugged him before turning to her parents. “Mother, Father, you remember Tom Riddle don’t you?”

“Of course we do,” Molly’s mother answered, “but I almost did not recognize you, Tom, you really have grown quite a bit.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Porter.”

“Tom, have you done your shopping?” Molly asked with hope filled eyes.

“I just did.”

The hope in the eyes of the girl faded and Tom realized that she had been about to invite him to walk with them. Catching it in an instant he hurried to continue with his answer.

“Can I walk with you anyway?”

The smile that had disappeared from the eyes of the girl returned to match the one on her face and she nodded quickly. The parents of the girl, noting the interest that their daughter had in the young wizard, smiled and then Molly’s father spoke.

“Molly, we have some other shopping to do, dreadfully boring it will be for you, would you and the young man want to walk together while we do that? We can meet back here in a short while to go home since your shopping is done.”

“Yes, Father, I would like that very much.”

“It is settled then,” Molly’s father announced, “we shall continue our shopping while you two catch up after the break. Shall we meet back here in an hour or so, that should give you time to talk?”

“Yes, Father,” the girl replied as her mother stepped forward to hug her while her father shook Tom’s hand.

“You two have a nice talk and we shall see you shortly.”

Tom was astounded by the response that Molly’s parents had given him. Never before had he been treated so respectfully outside of Hogwarts, especially by adults. Normally people, knowing his status as an orphan, ignored him or insulted him, often calling him rather impolite names and regretting it when he got his revenge simply by thinking about it.

Molly reached forward to take his hand and they walked on towards Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour (J.K. Rowling) where they stepped inside and found an empty table. He glanced at the menu and his eyes widened as he beheld the variety. Other than Hogwarts he had never had ice cream, it was a luxury not extended to the orphans, and he couldn’t wait to try some of the treats. The girl, used to such things, swiftly ordered her choice and then Tom followed her example only to see it appear in front of them in an instant.

As they ate they talked quietly while Tom watched for trouble after seeing Farley and his friends through the window.

“Do they have places like this where you live, Tom?”

“Not like this,” he answered after swallowing the ice cream that was in his mouth, “you have to wait for them to bring it to your table. It does not just appear like this did.”

“That is so brilliant,” the girl exclaimed as she thought about it.

“Brilliant?”

“Of course, there you probably get to see them make your ice cream, but here it just appears.”

Tom nodded as he considered what she was saying, not knowing for certain how it worked in a Muggle ice cream shop. He had never been in one, but had seen inside through a window and the lack of knowledge on the part of the girl was helping him tremendously with all of this. They talked quietly as they ate and Tom gradually realized that she was upset about something.

“Molly, are you angry about something?”

“Not angry,” she answered with a sigh, “I just hope that this term you do not spend all of your time with those thick headed friends of yours. It was really very irritating last term, especially when you would ignore me to be with them.”

“I apologize, Molly, I did not know that you felt that way.”

“It should have been obvious, Tom, they are bad-mannered and rather rude when they speak to people. I especially dislike Abraxas Malfoy, Tom; he is the worst of the lot.”

“Why do you not like him?”

“The way that he talks about people who have Muggle parents, calling them Mud-Bloods, it is very rude and I will not be around someone who does that. There is also the fact that he asked me for a kiss last term, it was so inappropriate, especially in public.”

“I am sorry that he did that.”

The girl looked at him strangely before continuing.

“You have nothing to be sorry for, Tom, you did nothing wrong. When I kissed you it was because I wanted to, not because you asked me. If you had asked me, I probably would have never spoken to you again not to mention slapped your face.”

“I will remember that.”

Tom glanced up at the sound of the door opening to see Farley and his group stepping into the shop and their eyes fixing on the young couple. The older students set a direct course for the table that Molly and Tom occupied until they stood over the pair.

“Look what we have here, boys, a Hufflepuff girl sitting with a Slytherin scum. How did you manage to get near a good looking bird like this one, Slytherin? Did you do some lying to get her to like you or was it something else?”

“Leave us alone,” Molly growled.

“Oh, well, well, well, she has some bite to her, does she not, Slytherin?" James Farley responded as he looked down at them.  "Maybe she would like to leave with us and we can help her sort out her choices of dates, because right now she is not doing too well in that respect.”

“Farley, she said to leave us alone.”

“And what are you going to do about it if we do not? Dumbledore cannot be everywhere at once, now can he?” the older and much larger boy said as he laid his hand threateningly on Tom’s shoulder.

“Get away from our table and leave us alone.”

Farley looked down at the second year and laughed while other patrons watched the looming problem. The group of Gryffindors was known to have a penchant for giving those that they didn’t like difficulties.

“What are you going to do about it, Slytherin? Are you going to challenge me to a duel or sit there and cry? What will your girlfriend think about you then?”

“Move your hand, Farley.”

“Make me.”

The situation had gone from bad to worse and Tom was very afraid that it was going to get worse then it was. It ended abruptly when the door opened again and Molly’s parents stepped into the shop. Farley’s face blanched when he saw the wizard and realized that he was seeing the father of the girl.  The adults moved swiftly until they stood at the table and faced the group of boys.

“Is there a problem here?” Joseph Porter queried.

“No, Minister Porter, there is not,” Farley stammered after the parents of the girl had arrived at the table. “I was just talking to my schoolmates.”

“Why are you lying to my father?” Molly interrupted before turning to her parent. “Father, they have been horrid to us, that one especially,” she continued as she pointed at Farley. “He has been threatening us and wanted me to go with them to “sort out my choices.”

The wizard glowered down at the now subdued students before speaking.

“I know the parents of each of you and doubt very highly that they would approve of this behavior! I certainly do not approve of it when it involves my daughter. You all need to leave and I mean right now before I contact Professor Dippet and have discipline ready for you when you arrive there at the start of the term. If I hear any more about this sort of behavior from my daughter or this young man I shall certainly see about that discipline, both at school and at home. Now go!”

The group, with Tom and Molly forgotten, stumbled over themselves as they hurried to get out of the presence of the incensed wizard. He did, indeed, know their parents and would not hesitate to contact them. The Slytherin second year would have to wait until there was no chance of interruption.

The adults looked down at the pair of children, who were starting to calm down, as Tom and Molly rose from the table with all thoughts of the remaining ice cream absent.

Neither of the pair had any sort of appetite at the moment, both being glad that the girl’s parents had stepped in to determine what was going on.

“Are you two well?” Molly’s mother asked.

“I was really frightened, Mother.”

“Tom, do you need an escort home?” the father of the girl asked as the family and boy prepared to leave the building.

Tom shook his head.

“Thank you, Mister Porter, but I will be fine on my own.”

“Are you totally certain?”

“Yes, sir.”

The wizard nodded his understanding and then watched as his daughter stepped forward to hug the boy.

“Will I see you at Hogwarts?” she asked.

“I would not miss it for anything!”

Molly smiled and then, in front of her parents and to the surprise of Tom, kissed him on the cheek. She stepped back and then walked away with her parents, looking back over her shoulder to blow him another kiss.

Tom walked away from the scene and was soon through the Leaky Cauldron and on his way back to the orphanage, all thought of his plans gone at the moment. He arrived there to find Mrs. Cole extremely angry with him and no dessert for him after dinner.

As he sat in his room that night, examining the sentences that he had to accomplish over the last weekend before the start of the new term, he thought about what had happened with Farley and his gang. Something needed to happen to teach them a lesson and he knew just what it was, all that he needed to do was to make it happen.

With a sigh he leaned down, picked up his pencil and started to write while he thought about what was to happen in just a few days.
 

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