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The next morning, something strange was happening. A student—Ginny Weasley—was missing. The professors were freaking out, and, oh yeah, there was also a giant snake roaming the school grounds.

 

“Everyone, please stay calm. Don’t go near the basilisk or they’ll kill you, you may only walk the halls if you have a prefect or a professor with you. Oh yes, and make sure you’re still doing your work, because even in a lockdown you must do school work, got it?” Professor Dippet explains in the Great Hall during breakfast.

 

Bellatrix reaches for an egg and chugs some butter beer. She is only half paying attention. Whatever everyone is so fussed about, though, she is sure isn’t that bad, and so she should be fine. 

 

“Hey, some Gryffindor says you should use mirrors to stop the basilisk from killing you,” Evan says, leaning in towards his gang. 

 

“What’s that supposed to do?” asks Rodolphus, moving his food around on his plate. He seems to be pretending to not care about the life threat in the school.

 

“I dunno, but it probably doesn’t work, it is a Gryffindor, after all,” Evan goes back to eating his food, and Severus looks desperate to say something.

 

“Honestly, Severus, if you wanna speak, speak! We’re all friends here,” Lucius mutters.

 

“Well, uh, I was just gonna say, mirrors do actually help, so you don’t stare directly into the basilisk’s eyes,” explains Severus, and Rodolphus groans.

 

“Who let the nerd speak?” whines Rodolphus, not looking at Lucius, but just dramatically looking at the roof with the clouds, and the not-too-hot sun on it. Bellatrix still isn’t paying attention, so she didn’t hear anything about basilisks or mirrors. She’s just eating slowly, and letting her butter beer drip carefully onto her tongue, taking in each little atom of flavour individually. The creaming soda bit, the butterscotch bit, each part enough to make anyone melt. But Bellatrix had already melted, she just wasn’t herself today.

 

When breakfast is over, they head to potions with Professor Slughorn. Bellatrix is annoyed that they have class with the Gryffindors, meaning Potter has to be here too, but she’s still weirded out about Tom smiling at her, so for once she actually does what the teacher says, instead of copying off Severus. Severus and Tom were tied first in their year for being the best at potions for a long while, until Tom finally took him over. That was another reason Bellatrix loves him. He’s always gonna be top of his class. 

 

“I’m here!” shouts Pettigrew, who had arrived late.

 

“I’m queer!” Sirius is next.

 

“I’m a deer!” then James.

 

“I’m... sorry,” and then finally Lupin. Severus rolls his eyes so hard they might fall out. And so does Slughorn. Bellatrix continues mindlessly brewing her potion.

 

“I see you’ve improved, Black. Keep that up and I might invite you to my Slug Club!” Says Professor Slughorn, after checking Bellatrix’s potion.

 

“Oh! Thanks,” she replies, looking once again at her potion. She supposes she isn’t half bad, after all. 

 

Once Slughorn leaves, Rodolphus leans over to check out Bellatrix’s potion, “are you okay though, Bellatrix? You seem really out of it today.”

 

“I’m fine, I think I’ll just walk to our next class alone though, then I’ll feel better,” Says Bellatrix, clearing away her area.

 

“Alright. Oh wait, isn’t there a-” but then their class is dismissed and they all file out. Bellatrix walks the long way. She had thought she would actually be able to think by now. After all, it was yesterday, and it was only a smile, but no, she still had to unfocused and confused. She wasn’t paying attention to the slithering in the wall beside her, and only when something appeared right in front of her did she start thinking straight again.

 

“What the—?” she looks up, following the curling body of a giant snake with her eyes, until she reaches its head, and then-

 

“Stop!” comes a voice, then a hiss, and the snake is gone. All that is left is a boy standing there, against the wall, looking directly at Bellatrix.

 

“Tom! How did you...?” Bellatrix runs up towards him, goes to touch him, but then quickly moves her hands away.

 

“I can speak parseltongue. I’m the heir of Salazar Slytherin,” he says smoothly, not taking his eyes off Bellatrix.

 

“Wait, so... you spoke to the snake?” Bellatrix gapes, she can’t believe it. Just another reason to be in love with this boy.

 

“Yes, I spoke to the basilisk. However, I didn’t open the chamber. That was the Weasley girl, Ginny. Harry and I—we tried to stop her, but she’s just a little mad,” Tom explains. Bellatrix sucks in his every word, as if they are her life source.

 

“Oh, she should get expelled, shouldn’t she? Doesn’t the basilisk kill people?” Bellatrix’s cheeks are hot, and she’s not sure if it’s because she’s talking to the hottest person in the school, or because some girl set loose a murderer on the school.

 

“Yes, she should. Why don’t you go and tell Professor Dippet? I’ll explain to Professor McGonagall why you’re late for transfiguration, alright?” Bellatrix can’t get over how smoothly Tom speaks, but she quickly recomposes herself and goes to find the headmaster’s office. She’d been there plenty of times for detention, so she knew the way there easily. However, when she arrives, she has to wait a whole ten minutes for someone to open the door for her. 

 

“Miss Black, why aren’t you in class? Have you been sent out again?” the voice came from behind her. Bellatrix quickly spins around.

 

“Oh, Professor Dippet! You’re not in your office? Anyway, I’ve come because I know who opened the, ah, Chamber thing. The thing with the basilisk,” she explains quickly, eager to spill the tea.

 

Professor Dippet pauses for a minute, but then opens the door to his office and lets Bellatrix in, “Come, sit down. What is it you know?”

 

“Well, you see, I was walking to class, and this giant snake creeps up on me—”

 

“Was anyone with you, Miss Black?” Professor Dippet says sternly, and Bellatrix licks her lips, “I said you weren’t meant to be out alone in the halls.”

 

“Yeah, but, anyway, that’s not the point. So, Tom comes along and tells me that Ginny Weasley opened the chamber!” Bellatrix is shaking, excited to be the person to call Weasley out.

 

“Miss Weasley? As if. Miss Black, please stop wasting my time. Go back to your class, Minerva will not be pleased,” Dippet flicks his hand effortlessly and his door opens. Bellatrix opens her mouth to protest, but with a quick glare from Dippet she quickly closes it again and promptly leaves.

 

※ ※ ※

 

It had taken Bellatrix a long time to find the classroom, because apparently the room had changed, and she wasn’t told, but with the help of a ghost, she eventually found it.

 

“Miss Black. You’re late,” Professor McGonagall snaps. Bellatrix laughs awkwardly, looking to Tom for help. He, however, appears to be looking intently at the teacher, and not at Bellatrix, “go on then, take a seat.”

 

Bellatrix sits at the end of her gang’s table and silently says “hi,” to them. They give her a questioning glance, but stay quiet. 

 

“Alright, now as I was saying, blah blah blah...” Bellatrix has gone back to not paying attention in class. So much for the Slug Club. There wasn’t much reason to go, anyway. ‘Oh wait, Tom is in it... oh well’. However, this period was particularly short, at least for Bellatrix, after all that time she spent not in class. She follows her gang out of the classroom this time, and is headed for the courtyard when Tom stops her. The rest of her gang walks off, and Bellatrix is left there looking stunned.

 

“Bellatrix, I was wondering if you’d like to come somewhere and... do something with me, if you have the time,” Tom says. Bellatrix stares, open mouthed. Tom had a way of opening Bellatrix’s mouth. 

 

“Yeah! Um, wait, aren’t you and Harry—?” She dislikes talking about Potter, but this is all too weird. She pinches herself, and it hurts, which is probably a good thing.

 

“Don’t worry about that, Bella. But of course, if you don’t want to...?” Only Bellatrix’s sisters called her ‘Bella’, but something about Tom saying it makes her more excited than she thought possible.

 

“Oh, no, no, no! Of course I want to!” she doesn’t even care how dishevelled she looks, Tom wants her.

 

“Wonderful. Meet me in the second floor girls’ lavatory when you’ve put your stuff away,” he says, and then walks away. Bellatrix doesn’t think much of the strange setting, simply runs off to put her things away, her cheeks rosy red.

 

※ ※ ※

 

Bellatrix waits in the bathroom, watching the drip of one of the taps. She doesn’t really know where to stand, or to wait in one of the toilet cubicles, pretending to be doing her business. All she knows is that Tom isn’t here yet, and she needs to wait for him. She starts biting her nails, wondering when he’ll arrive.

 

She’s been waiting five minutes when the door slams open and she looks up to see if it’s Tom. It isn’t. It’s a girl crying her eyeballs out.

 

“Oh... s-someone’s here,” she sobs, trying to wobble her way to a toilet cubicle. She seems very disoriented, so it must be difficult.

 

“Warren, why are you here?” asks Bellatrix, looking over to the door to see if Tom’s arrived yet. Warren doesn’t reply, she just trips into a cubicle and locks the door, moaning loudly. There’s a reason she’s nicknamed Moaning Myrtle.

 

“Did- did you see Tom Riddle on your way here?” Bellatrix asks cautiously, trying to speak loud enough to be heard over Warren’s crying.

 

“N-no, I didn’t s-see anybody...” she moans, and Bellatrix cringes. She considers performing a silencing charm on Warren, but then remembers she wasn’t listening to that class. Maybe that was a reason to start paying attention? ‘Nah!’

 

There’s movement outside, but Bellatrix decides it doesn’t sound like Tom, so she starts looking at herself in the mirror, to try and make herself look presentable. Something appears right behind Bellatrix, and her eyes widen as she watches it through the mirror.

 

“Crap, Warren! There’s a basilisk!” she yells. Warren seems to stop sobbing for a second, and then Bellatrix hears the click of the lock and watches through the mirror as Warren steps out. Bellatrix had never heard a scream so loud in her life.

 

The basilisk leaves, and Bellatrix stares in disbelief at the lifeless body on the floor.

 

“Oh my goodness, Miss Black!” Comes a booming voice belonging to Professor Dippet, “in all my years as a Hogwarts professor, I never saw a student murder another!”

 

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