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Tom was enjoying himself.

Sarah had turned more than a few male heads since her arrival at Hogwarts and her introduction into the students that belonged to Slytherin. This had not been well received by the other girls and more than one had voiced her opinion loudly to the boy that she had been with but now seemed to see only this new girl. The result in many cases had been a slapped male face and the end of a relationship.

Molly had also reacted strongly to this new development. Although she had no real interest in the boy, she was more than a bit disturbed by the fact that he seemed to have moved on without her. Carol was also stunned by what had happened and had spent more than a bit of time consoling her friend. Both of them had assumed that the boy would be spending his time alone, but he had somehow managed to get connected to this new girl who was not only beautiful but also highly intelligent. She had been able to insinuate herself into the good graces of professors that she had only just met, sometimes garnering more good will than students who were in their second year at Hogwarts.

They were sitting in Transfiguration while Dumbledore tried to determine just what to do with the new student. She was highly capable, more so than many of the students that he had known for two terms, and didn’t seem to ever need assistance. There was more to her, he had a feeling, than there was apparent on the surface. She was highly secretive about her past, revealing only that which was necessary and that wasn’t much.

The Ministry of Magic was also puzzled about her. Obviously they knew more about her than the school did, but a great deal was hidden from them as well and that had the potential to mean trouble.

Tom could tell that the wizard who represented the greatest threat to him was confused and this gave the boy no end of satisfaction. If Dumbledore was off balance it made things easier for him to get his way. Molly and Carol were in for a great deal of trouble and Tom was looking forward to giving it to them. He had learned a great deal about what he could do and this spelled possible calamity for the pair of girls as he worked out a plan to get at least one, if not both, of them put out of Hogwarts forever.

Carol would be the easiest to get rid of because she didn’t have the connections that Molly did. While her family was respectable and well thought of in their world, her parents weren’t members of the Ministry of Magic and that meant that she would be easy to be rid of. All that it would take was a well-placed attack that would put her in a bad light with Dippet and some of the other professors. Once she was gone, Molly Porter would be next, the connections that her family had be damned. As powerful as her family was, even she wasn’t immune to expulsion and he intended to see it happen.

Sarah had slid rather easily into the space within his heart that Molly had once held firmly. She was every bit as beautiful as the other girl was; in fact, she was a bit more so. The girl was also not as apt to resort to tears when something happened. Sarah took the criticism on the chin and then shrugged it off without emotion being shown. It was obvious that she was a far tougher nut to crack than the simpering little Molly and Tom respected her for that. Sarah was going to be very useful.

Sarah watched Tom out of the corner of her eye as she thought about her own plans. The boy had talent, she had to give him that, but even that talent was nothing compared to her innate abilities. She knew that she could easily best her entire year in a duel and not suffer any damage during the encounter. The children that she was in class with had no knowledge of her origins or her very nature and this was best.

What amazed her was the fact that Tom actually thought that he had the upper hand in things. She knew that his feeble attempts to defend himself against her would do him no good if it ever came to pass that he needed to. The girl knew that he was still trying to determine if he had been the cause of the near disaster when the section of ceiling had narrowly missed Mrs. Cole when it had fallen.

‘They have no idea what happened that night and they never will,’ she thought to herself. ‘I made certain that none of them, except for Tom, have any memory of my even being at the orphanage. The Muggle records have been wiped clean of my presence and not even my brothers would be able to tell them about me. Only my father knows about what I can do and that knowledge will not help him in the least when I find him. When that happens he will face the full fury of the Veela.’

She glanced again at the boy as he performed the transfiguration that Dumbledore had assigned. Although he did it well he had still struggled with it, the same as all of the rest of the class. She looked at the wand that she held and then cast the required spell, making certain to not do it flawlessly. Until the time came to reveal her abilities she needed to appear as inept as those around her.

Malfoy watched the girl with fury. The memories of what she had done to him on the Hogwarts Express still angered him, but he also knew the danger of angering a Veela. His grandfather had often talked about their terrible rage and what happened to those unfortunate enough to earn it. He had gotten off easily as she had shown restraint, but he wondered if she would do that again if he ran afoul of her.

The bird in the cage in front of him became a tiny dragon that was incapable of breathing fire as was intended, not to mention demanded, by Dumbledore. Dumbledore had learned from the experiences of the term before and didn’t want a repeat of the happenings. Several students had received minor injuries from their creations, which had brought a censure for him from Headmaster Dippet. He was to maintain a safer classroom.

“Class, I need to see acceptable transfigurations. A number of you have managed only the basics, although Mister Malfoy and Miss Porter seem to be closer to the final product than they had been. Remember to enunciate the spell that you have studied, we do not want fire breathing dragons again,” he added as he looked down at the spot on his robe where a dragon had managed to score a hit. The professor had decided to leave the damage as a warning and a reminder of his past failings.

Albus Dumbledore liked to learn from his mistakes.

“Once you feel that you have an acceptable specimen call me to your desk so that I can examine it. Only once I have seen your finished dragon and approved it will you receive a passing mark. Should you be unable to produce a finished product in the allotted time you shall be required to join me in detention tonight for added practice.”

Tom glanced up at the professor as he cast his spell once again and then at his new product, a perfectly formed miniature dragon. The creature gave a small squeal as though angered that it had been summoned. It took flight and hovered in front of the pleased boy as Dumbledore walked towards the scene. The wizard bent to look at the creature and nodded his acceptance while Sarah stared at it with amazement. Tom had managed to produce a dragon on his own and she had yet to be able to do what she needed to.

“Excellent work, Mister Riddle, now please return it to its original form.”

Tom nodded happily and then cast a second spell. Instantly the small gold bird reappeared and chirped happily as it rejoined its feathered brethren in the cage that it was returned to. It swiftly fluttered to a branch on the tree within the cage where it proceeded to preen its feathers. The boy settled back in his seat while he looked around smugly, his grin fading as Molly and Carol each managed the task and smiled. Dumbledore nodded his acceptance of their efforts and then the return of the birds to their natural state.

“Wonderful work, Miss Porter, Miss Markham, neither of you have need to show up tonight.”

The other members of the class watched as the girls slipped their wands back into their robes. Malfoy finally managed the feat with only a few minutes to spare and breathed a sigh of relief as his dragon was finally correct. The professor looked at it for a moment and then nodded. An instant later, the dragon was a bird again and being returned to the cage which held the others of its kind.

Sarah looked sharply at the creature in front of her which still was resisting her efforts. The girl was highly confused as a task which should have been simple refused to cooperate with her. A glance around the room showed that she was not alone but it concerned her that those others who were struggling were the ones that normally did, Crabbe and Goyle among them.

The frantic last few minutes saw precious little progress and the heart of the girl sank as the bells in the tower told her that time was up. Instantly the few birds which were still in use became birds again, in some cases reverting from near successful attempts. The girl looked at the bird that was now back in its cage and scowled. It was taunting her, somehow it was taunting her and she hated the sensation of failure that she was feeling. She rose and followed the other students out of the room as they made way for the next group to enter.

Tom stood silently outside the door as he waited for her and refused to give Molly and Carol even a passing glance. Other than the vengeance that he had planned for them, he had no thoughts of the girls. For their part, Molly and Carol stared straight ahead and avoided any sort of eye contact between them and the boy. Their parents had been quite direct when they had spoken to their children, stay away from Tom Riddle! The professors had been informed that they were not to be paired with him during assignments, not even for a brief amount of time. They were intent on protecting their daughters and Molly’s parents were prepared to use their influence to ensure the safety of the girls.

Sarah arrived at his side and Tom felt the pleasurable sensation of her hand in his as they clasped fingers and walked towards the next classroom that they would visit. The girl seethed inside as she thought about the detention that she would have to serve.

‘What,’ she wondered, ‘stopped that bird from becoming a dragon? It should have been simple to make happen. Was someone else in the room stopping me? Could Dumbledore have been doing it or was it someone else?’

She glanced at Tom out of the corner of her eye again as she wondered if he had been toying with her. Sarah doubted it; he seemed too devoted to her to risk her anger. Her gaze turned to Molly and Carol, they might try it but she doubted that they knew enough to be able to strike the way that had been done. That meant only one thing, if it had not been Dumbledore or one of the others it had to have been Abraxas Malfoy. He certainly was capable as his parents had been training him long before he ever started attending Hogwarts. The name Malfoy was well known in their world and stood for witches and wizards who were very good at what they did.

‘If it was you, Malfoy, you are going to regret interfering with me and costing me success.’

They arrived at Charms class and walked to their seats, Sarah very aware that Flitwick was watching her suspiciously. This worried her as the Veela and the goblins had a long history of conflict and knew each other on sight. He was going to be her main concern while at Hogwarts. Goblins were naturally immune to her main weapon, the ability to entrance males with their songs and dances. The fact that she was still a child made the task of such extremely difficult for her, she simply didn’t know enough yet about the ways of her race.

Flitwick watched as the girl sat down in his classroom and frowned inwardly. She was definitely part Veela, there was no doubt about it. He had had her identified as soon as she walked into the Great Hall on her first night in the castle and he wondered if Dippet knew what she was. He was human and at a disadvantage where she was concerned. Sarah no doubt knew that in an open duel with the headmaster she would lose badly and thus had decided that, at the moment, discretion was the better part of valor. She would play the dutiful student, keep her eyes lowered and stay out of trouble to avoid bringing attention to herself. The professor was grateful for that because, at least in the meantime, there likely would not be any trouble.

The students listened as the diminutive professor began to present his lesson for the day and Tom took a chance at glancing at the girl next to him. With class in session for less than five minutes she was already bored, you could read it in her face. Flitwick was noticing it as well and soon began to direct questions at the students beginning with Sarah, who stumbled badly with her response. The professor scowled and left where he stood to approach where she sat.

“Miss Jenkins, if you would spend less time daydreaming and more time listening you would have known the answer to a question that even a first year could have answered.”

“Well, if a first year could have answered it, why did you not ask one of them?”

Gasps sounded at the response that the girl had directed back at a professor and the normally calm Flitwick glowered at the girl for a moment before responding.

“I asked you, Miss Jenkins, because it is my prerogative to do so as a professor. Twenty points shall be taken from Slytherin for your cheeky response to my question.”

The class reacted once again as the eyes of the girl and the eyes of the professor locked. It was obvious that Sarah wanted to say more, but she held her tongue and finally was the one that averted her gaze first. She lowered her head and many were surprised to see a tear run down her cheek and drop to the table in front of her. Flitwick turned and walked back to the place where he stood to present his lessons and then looked at the girl once again as she sat quietly.

“Mister Goyle, draw your wand and summon the ball.”

Goyle, never the brightest, drew his wand and cast a spell that was somewhat similar to the proper one, at least in pronunciation. A loud bang sounded as the ball disintegrated in a bright flash, causing the startled professor to fall over backwards into one of the many piles of parchment that was stacked in the room. Some in the class laughed at his predicament, others sat quietly to wait for his response, Goyle sat stunned at what he had done and Tom took it all in. Sarah was looking at the scene with mild amusement but there was something more in her eyes and the boy wasn’t certain what it was. Not that it mattered at the moment because he was more interested in finding some way into the Isolation Tower, even if it meant being sent there. He needed to talk to Slytherin’s echo or ghost or whatever he was.

The riddle of the ring that the old man in his visions wore was still puzzling the boy, who knew that it had to be something important. The visions were coming more frequently now and with increasing clarity and the ring was always present.

“Mister Riddle!”

The sound of his name being shouted by the professor brought him from his thoughts and back to class as Flitwick, who had recovered from the incident approached him.

“Apparently, Slytherin House is going to lose still more points! I called on you twice to assist Mister Goyle and you simply sat there. Ten points will be taken from Slytherin to go with the five that I took for Mister Goyle’s poor attempt at a simple charm.”

The professor turned from the student that he was addressing to speak to the class.

“Read the remainder of this chapter and be prepared for a quiz tomorrow. Hopefully Slytherin House can redeem itself by producing some good marks.”

Tom shook his head at the thought that his House had lost thirty five points in one class. This couldn’t continue or they had no chance of winning the House Cup at the end of the term. Already Gryffindor was starting to congratulate itself on its victory and this was something that Slytherin House could not allow.

When the bells in the tower began to ring, he rose and walked out of the room just in time to collide with a first year from Gryffindor. He stumbled backward with the impact and looked angrily into the eyes of the smaller student. The younger boy flinched as he realized who he had walked into and backpedaled to get out of the way of the Slytherin second year.

“Is there something that you do not understand about getting out of the way of your betters?”

The boy lowered his eyes before answering in a voice that was nearly inaudible.

“Sorry, I will stay out of your way from now on.”

“You had better, if you know…”

“Leave him alone, Tom Riddle!”

The group turned to see Molly glaring at them with her eyes blazing and a group of students standing around her. She left the group and stepped forward to help the boy away from his tormentors before turning to Tom.

“You truly are pathetic, Tom! Picking on someone smaller than you and doing it when there is one of him and you are with your friends! That is very brave of you, Tom, strange that you used to tell me how much courage meant to you but I guess that only means when you are picking on someone who cannot defend themselves. I really have no idea what I ever saw in you.”

Sarah chose this moment to step forward and was soon nose to nose with the angered Hufflepuff girl.

“You really need to watch what you say to Slytherin students, Hufflepuff! There is no telling what might happen to you.”

“Oh, so you are going to threaten me now, Sarah? Tom and his other friends tried that earlier in the term and it did not go well for them. They ended up in the Isolation Tower under threat of expulsion if they did it again.”

“Is that what you think is happening here now, Hufflepuff? I do not threaten, I act.”

Molly was about to respond when the slap struck her across the face. She staggered as her hand rose to touch where she had been hit, then she rallied and lunged at the other girl. If Sarah and her group were expecting Molly to break out into tears they were surprised as a slap from Molly struck Sarah hard. The attack rocked her backwards just as Molly slammed into her, taking them both to the floor of the corridor in a screaming, slapping tangle of arms and legs.

The students still in the corridor rushed to view the fight between the girls and were soon cheering their favorite on as the combat continued. Molly was giving far better account of herself than Tom and the others with him ever would have believed she would as blow after blow landed on Sarah. The other girl, stunned by the ferocity of the response, attempted to protect herself while also fight back. She was not being very successful and was starting to wish that the fight was going better when she felt it start.

Veela, being magical creatures, can hide their true appearance from others but this appearance is sometimes revealed when they become angered and Sarah had become angry. She was about to lash out at the other girl when Molly simply wasn’t there anymore, pulled off of Sarah by Professor Tobias Leeds, and Sarah found herself being dragged to her feet by Albus Dumbledore.

“What is the meaning of all of this?” Dumbledore yelled as the hall began to clear of onlookers amid screams of terror.

Molly, still held by Leeds, recoiled at the sight of her former combatant and tried to shrink away from her and closer to the stunned staff member that held her. Dumbledore released the arm of the thing that had been Sarah and looked at those few students that remained before looking at Sarah Jenkins again.

Her face horribly transformed and with wings protruding from her back, Sarah Jenkins had revealed her true nature as a Veela to all. A moment later, Headmaster Armando Dippet appeared to survey the scene and Tom realized that all now knew the secret that his girlfriend had been keeping.

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