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Albus Dumbledore sat in the office of Armando Dippet while a very tense meeting of the staff took place. The incident with Thaddeus Williams was a source of concern, the likes of which had never before been seen within the walls of the castle.

“What I want to know is how it even was able to happen?” the headmaster queried. “We have a magical shield around the school, in fact it extends far beyond the walls of the castle, and yet this happened to a student under our charge.”

“The healers at St. Mungos are quite firm in their belief that it was a curse,” Dumbledore added as he spoke. “We need to be prepared for the possibility that it was the work of a dark witch or wizard who has found a way to breach our defenses. An examination of the defenses is warranted and should be carried out immediately, before more tragedies occur.”

“I, for one, find it most odd that the boy that was attacked was also one of the children who were involved in the recent prank by four Slytherin students.”

All eyes turned to Tobias Leeds as the junior professor spoke.

“Surely you do not think that a second year student was involved in this sorry happening,” Horace Slughorn retorted angrily. “The fact that they were Slytherin students should have no more bearing than it should if they had come from Gryffindor or another House. There needs to be far less time spent bashing Slytherin and far more time finding out who is responsible for this act!”

“Professor Slughorn, I was not intimating that one of the four students involved in the prank was responsible for this upsetting occurrence. We are all upset about the loss of Mister Williams and even more so that it happened while he was under our care. But the fact is that something foul has happened within these walls and I was merely stating that I found it odd that Mister Williams was also a part of the incident in the lower levels.”

There was a sudden gasp as Filius Flitwick’s eyes shot open wide and the diminutive professor suddenly spoke.

“Surely you do not believe that they stumbled onto the Chamber of Secrets (J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) and managed to open it.”

“I find that highly unlikely, Professor Flitwick,” Armando Dippet answered, “it has never even been proven that such a chamber actually exists. I believe it far more likely that the Chamber of Secrets is yet another mere legend that is a part of the history and lore of this castle and school. I would add that, if they had managed to stumble upon it and also open it, the students involved likely would not have survived to leave the lower levels. No, I do not believe that we have anything to be worried about where that fabled chamber is concerned.”

Dumbledore sat quietly while the other staff debated while a thought circled within his mind.

‘Are you involved in this, Tom? Was it you, or someone else?’

Albus remembered what the boy had said on that fateful day in that small room in Wool’s Orphanage. He had said that he could make people hurt by thinking about it. But surely the still rather untrained boy did not have the ability to do what had been done to Thaddeus Masters. The boy had been assaulted while at St. Mungos, a very secure place, and had been very nearly destroyed in the process.

‘No! It cannot be you. I could not personally have done that sort of thing myself, even if I had wanted to, and I have far more experience and training than you.’

The fact that Dumbledore was deep in thought was not lost on Armando Dippet. The younger wizard was often pensive and distant while he thought.

“At the insistence of the parents of the boy the Office of the Aurors has become involved in this happening. A full investigation shall take place and we can expect an Auror as well as a Ministry presence here at the school for a time. They have assured me that they will do their best to keep the disruption of classes to a minimum and I have guaranteed our full cooperation in this situation,” Dippet continued.

“Then we are to continue as we have?”

“Yes, Professor Lands, we are to continue as we have. I sincerely hope to have this matter cleared up as soon as is possible so that we can move on. Before we close this meeting, does anyone have anything else to discuss?”

When no one else spoke, the small headmaster nodded silently before speaking once again.

“Then we shall close this meeting. The parents of Mister Williams have requested that his school things be returned to them and, as there is no reason not to do so, I have informed them that we shall have the items ready to leave today. I have instructed the elves to prepare the belongings for departure and am certain that they will act in their normal efficient manner to do so.”

The professors and staff slowly rose to make their way back into the castle. The loss of a student in such a horrific way had placed a pall on a term that had barely started and it would take a lot of healing for the pace of the term to recover. The students were all going to react differently and all of the staff knew that they needed to be prepared for the inevitable backlash to the incident.

Tom watched as Professor Slughorn entered the common room where he was seated and then turned his attention back to the book that he was reading. He still had yet to find anything about his family name or learn where he had seen the ring that was on the hand of the old man in his vision. He knew that he had seen it somewhere, but where? Why did he keep having the visions? They were obviously important to him, but in what way?

He laid the book aside and then rose to walk out of the room. A group of first years had entered it and their incessant chatter was nearly enough to drive him mad. Walking past the group, he stepped into his dorm and closed the door behind him. The gold ring with the black stone captivated his attention and all that filled his mind was his desire to see it more often. The stone had a design cut into it and that design intrigued him. He had never seen it before, but it held him in its power and he hurried to grab a piece of parchment as well as his quill before he started to draw.

A triangle emerged first, followed by a circle drawn inside the triangle and then finally a line that rose from the base of the triangle to the tip, bisecting the figure. Once it was finished he laid the quill down to examine his work. It was the design, the design that was cut into the stone and which obviously had some sort of meaning, although that meaning escaped him. He looked at it again and was doing so when Abraxas walked into the room to find his friend absorbed in what he had drawn.

“What are you on about, Tom?”

“Oh, nothing, I was just drawing this picture that I have seen somewhere.”

Abraxas stepped forward to look over his friend’s shoulder and then looked at Tom strangely.

“Do you have any idea what that is, Tom?”

“No, but I know that I have seen it before.”

“That is the symbol for the Deathly Hallows.”

“The deathly what?” Tom asked.

“The Deathly Hallows! That is what that symbol stands for.”

“What are the Deathly Hallows?”

Abraxas looked at Tom for a moment as though shocked by his ignorance and then answered as his understanding grew.

“I forgot that you grew up with Muggles and do not know our legends. The Deathly Hallows are the three most powerful artifacts in our legends. That is the Elder Wand,” he said as he pointed at the line. “This is the Resurrection Stone which can bring back someone who has died,” he added while indicating the circle, “and this is the Invisibility Cloak to hide from your enemies. They were all gifted to three brothers by Death himself, according to the legend. Do you mean that you have never read the legend of the Deathly Hallows and the three brothers Peverell, Antioch, Cadmus and Ignotus?” (J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)

“No, I have never read it. Do you know where I can find it so I can read it?”

Abraxas nodded before stepping away to walk to his bed and then open the drawer to his nightstand. He reached into the drawer and withdrew a book that had obviously seen a great deal of use. The pale boy walked to his friend and then handed it to Tom after opening it to the indicated story.

“That’s it, the story of the Deathly Hallows. When you are finished with it just put it back into the drawer. Please be careful, though, that book is really old. It belonged to my great-grandfather when he was a boy and has been in our family ever since.”

Tom nodded as he settled back to read the story that the pages held while Abraxas left the room. The story captivated him as he realized that the brothers had found a way to cheat Death and he finished it wondering if the items were real, and what would happen if one held all three of them at the same time. Would it prevent someone from ever dying? Could they make one immortal? He slowly closed the book and examined the cover.

“The Tales of Beedle the Bard,” he murmured to himself. “I need a copy of this for myself, although they no doubt have them in the library. Then I need to find out if this was a true story or just a legend.”

He carried the book to the stand that his chum had retrieved it from before placing it back into the drawer. His thoughts were consumed with the possibility of eternal life, not the finite existence of a Muggle or even a wizard, who all knew could live to be very old. But still, even with magic, all wizards died eventually, however the Deathly Hallows could change all of that for the fortunate wizard that managed to gain them all. He would never die if he could find them all!

Tom Riddle walked out of the room to renew his search for the image of the ring, he knew that he had seen it in the castle and he intended to find out where it was.

James Farley was on his rounds when he noticed the second year Slytherin stepping out into a corridor. Riddle paid him no mind and, in fact, made more than a little effort to ignore him. The Prefect sped up to catch up with the other boy and then yelled out his name.

“RIDDLE!”

Tom stopped in mid-stride and then turned to see the older boy approaching him.

“What do you want, Farley?”

“That is a bit disrespectful, Riddle, especially considering the fact that you are a second year and I am a Prefect. Maybe I need to take a bunch of points from Slytherin for insubordination to a Prefect.”

“I have not done anything wrong, Farley. There are no classes today. You know that.”

“I do not believe that I like the way that you are speaking to me.”

“I do not want any trouble, Farley.”

“You may not want it, Riddle, but you certainly are going to get it! My brother was in the group that you sent into the lower levels. My brother could have died if they had run into a troll down there. Then there is the problem that we had in Diagon Alley! Just like the coward that you are, hiding behind Molly Porter and her father.”

“I was not hiding from anyone. Molly’s parents just happened to walk into the shop.”

James Farley felt the reassuring hardness of his wand as his fingers caressed it. It would be all so easy and the second year would have no chance. The wand was about to clear his robes when a voice broke into the confrontation.

“Is there a problem here?”

The Prefect whirled to see Emiline Horst approaching him.

“I was just addressing the behavior of Mister Riddle, Professor Horst.”

“And what was that behavior?”

“He was being disrespectful to me when I asked him what he was doing in the halls.”

“Mister Farley, there are no classes today, you know that very well, and the students are free to walk the halls as they would on any day that there are no classes. The fact of the matter is that I heard a great deal of the conversation and am a bit concerned by what I overheard from you. This is a subject that I will bring up when the Head Boy and Girl have their next meeting with the staff. I am putting you on suspension, Mister Farley, until further notice you are not a Prefect. If there are any further incidents, especially when it appears that you are about to draw your wand, I shall make it my business to see that you are no longer a student here at Hogwarts. Now, I want both of you to go about your business and do not let me find out about more problems between you.”

James Farley slowly reached up to remove his badge and then place it in the waiting hand of the professor before turning and walking away with his head hung. News about what had happened would circulate quickly through the castle and soon all would know that he had been brought low. Riddle had escaped once again, this time with the help of a professor. He walked slowly back to Gryffindor Tower and the derision that he knew would meet him there.

Tom breathed a sigh of relief as he made his way to the library and soon was entering the room. The book that he sought was easy enough to find (the school had many of them) and he was soon settling down in a chair to reread the story of the brothers. His eyes kept returning to the Resurrection Stone and the Elder Wand because, while the Cloak of Invisibility would obviously be useful, these other items would make a wizard that possessed them nearly impossible to defeat. It had only been through their careless use that their owners had been overcome.

‘Where have I seen that ring and what does it mean to me? Am I intended to have it for my own and what will it bring me if I possess it?’

The surname of the brothers in the story had been Peverell, he knew that he had seen that name in the books that he had been searching. It was time to reexamine those books and learn all that he could about the brothers. Perhaps then he could unlock the mystery of the ring and its meaning.

James Farley stepped into the Gryffindor Common Room and dropped heavily into a chair. He had been defeated by a second year student who hadn’t even had to draw a wand and now faced, of all things, the loss of his status as a Prefect. Nothing could be more humiliating for him; the headiness of the authority that he had possessed had turned on him and now the second year had the advantage. If Tom Riddle decided to tell someone that he had been threatened, whether he had or not, James knew that he faced expulsion. Professor Horst would not back down and he knew it, she would make certain that she addressed the meeting about his behavior and then he would be finished. All of his bragging about being a Prefect would bring him nothing except scorn if he was forced from the post. He settled back into the chair and stared at the empty fireplace while he wondered about his future and what was to come.

Tom finally rose from his place in the library and walked to the Great Hall as he joined the students making their way to the mid-day meal. As he approached the doors to the chamber he spotted Molly and paused in his progress to meet her. The girl smiled at him shyly as she approached and accepted the hug that he gave her, much to the disgust of Carol, who had stopped with her friend and now stood off to one side.

“I am so sorry that I yelled at you, Tom.”

“You were upset and I understand, Molly.”

“I appreciate that, Tom, but that will not make it okay. I was very wrong to yell at you and I hope that you will forgive me. My parents would be very angry with me if they knew what I had done. They raised me to be better than that.”

“I forgive you, Molly.”

The girl smiled at him again, but this time with much more feeling as they hugged each other again. She leaned up to kiss him and then allowed him to take her hand as they walked into the Great Hall together. Carol stood back while she watched her friend vanish among the crowd.

“He is going to hurt her so badly and she cannot see that!”

She paused for a moment longer and then walked into the Great Hall herself while she wondered how to get Molly to see what she did.

Molly and Tom had stopped to kiss tenderly before they took seats at their respective tables. They had made plans to meet after the meal to enjoy the quiet time that a day off from classes provided. Molly looked over her shoulder as she walked to her table to join Carol, who had already been seated, while Tom hurried to take his place. He made an effort to keep the girl in sight as long as he could but soon had to concede defeat as she vanished. Soon enough she would be visible once again and he could be at ease.

James Farley walked into the massive room and made his way to his table, while also trying to ignore the loss of points that Gryffindor had suffered because of him. The angry conversation that he was overhearing concerning that loss made him decide to lay low as much as possible, although many students has already noticed the absence of his Prefect’s badge. This one thing would tell them who was responsible for their misfortune and he wasn’t looking forward to that revelation becoming widely known.

The mid-day meal appeared before them and the students hurried to fill their plates with food. The House points were a topic of immediate conversation at all of the tables and Tom did his best to answer questions about what he knew. It was not long before many Slytherin students knew what had happened and were cheering their victory. Not only had their arch rival lost a great number of points, but a Gryffindor Prefect had been removed from office. Very little else could have brought as much delight to them as this and they all intended to enjoy it while it lasted.

“You should have seen his face when Horst took his badge and threatened to have him expelled,” Tom related to other students while they ate. “He thought that he had me beat, but his own big mouth was what got the better of him. If he had not been so loud about it and been ready to draw his wand, he probably would have gotten away with it.”

“I would have given anything to see him getting dressed down by her,” a girl announced, “everyone in our year hates him. He thinks just because he is a Prefect and a Gryffindor that he can do what he wants, especially since Dumbledore protects his House. We all know that he lets them get away with things in Transfiguration and if he sees them doing anything in the corridors he manages not to not do anything about it. I cannot remember the last time that he took points from a Gryffindor.”

“He does tend to favor them,” Abraxas announced between bites.

“I just wish that he would get sacked. Then maybe we could get a real professor for that class,” Crabbe added.

“As much as I hate Dumbledore, I hate Leeds more,” a boy responded. “He is not even a full professor yet, but acts like he is the headmaster.”

While the table of Slytherin students talked about the professors and the hated Gryffindor House, Carol Markham watched Tom. She could clearly see him, not having to turn around to do it as Molly did. Tom Riddle was dangerous, Carol was certain of that even though her friend wasn’t, and she feared for Molly’s safety and well-being.

‘I should imagine that if Molly will not watch out for herself around him that I shall have to do it myself.’

Carol continued with her meal, her eyes repeatedly returning to the boy as she wondered how to deal with Tom Riddle and the danger that he represented.
 

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