|The Hogwarts' Riddle
Author: Serpentina PM
14 years old Ginny Weasley is finally sick of worshipping 'The boy who lived' from afar. She decides to bring some adventure into her life and goes for Tom Riddle instead ...Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Mystery - Ginny W. & Tom R. Jr. - Chapters: 7 - Words: 34,412 - Reviews: 423 - Favs: 127 - Follows: 60 - Updated: 12-22-02 - Published: 02-09-02 - id: 594317
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Chapter 7 -URUZ-
In the evening Ginny was working on an Astronomy map with Rabia, and her new friend told her about the striking advantages of flying carpets in comparison to broomsticks.
"You should see my uncle's carpets, Ginny. He has a loom, one of the kind where they still make the carpets by hand, you know? Oh, I'm looking so forward to our next visit there! Dad said we're probably going to see his family during the holidays and I can hardly wait to ride my carpet again. She's an Arabian Silk-Reel 16 and she clearly has some temper. She looks and feels smooth and silky and literally floats on the air, but she's also very fast. Even my cousin's Racing-Weaver's-Shuttle 4 can hardly compete. Kahira, that's her name, and she'd show the broom-lovers here at Hogwarts how to – really – fly. It's too bad that I'm not allowed to have her here. I'd love to show those insufferable Weasley twins how fast an oriental carpet can be. They wouldn't get hold of a single Bludger and we would beat Gryffindor in no time." She sighed dreamily.
"But that damn embargo makes it impossible. It's so sad that she has to wait rolled up on my uncle's shelf all year. But my cousin Orkan promised to take her out on a magical lasso, when he rides his own carpet Firat. Kahira's so wild, if she doesn't get the opportunity to stretch her fringes. She keeps rattling on her shelf and even kicks the other carpets off the board. Uncle Ahmet says he can't allow that and he'll have to lock her in the basement if she doesn't stop misbehaving."
"Oh," Ginny laughed, "that poor thing. Nice of your cousin to take her out. But what do you mean by: 'The Weasley twins wouldn't get a single Bludger, if you had Kahira here?'"
A sly little smile twitched around Rabia's lips, but try as hard as she pleased, she couldn't stop the amused twitching turning into a wide smile.
"Oh you mustn't tell anyone, Ginny, will you? We want it to be a surprise, but just imagine: I'm on the Quidditch team! David told me this afternoon that the captain finally accepted my application. I'm so happy! I wanted to get on the House Team ever since I saw the first game. And now, finally, I've been selected. From October on I'll play the position of Beater. I'm so, so – excited about that!"
"Honestly?!" Ginny asked surprised. "Hey Rabia, that's splendid! Who else is on the team?"
Rabia started to eagerly fill her in and Ginny found out that Cathrina's beloved cousin, Lucretius Malfoy was Slytherin's Keeper and team captain, whereas David Dumbledore was playing Seeker. Rabia and a fifth year were Beaters, just like the Weasley twins; Rabia's favourite topic of discussion besides flying were playing for Gryffindor.
In the middle of their discussion, Ginny noticed that Tom conjured up the magical archway and left the common room for the hall outside.
She briefly wondered what he might be up to as it was after curfew already, but came to the conclusion that, as a Prefect, he probably had some duties like patrolling the corridors and such.
Ginny was so caught up in her thoughts that she didn't follow Rabia's explanations well enough to tell who the Chasers were, but it was a loss she didn't mind too much.
Leaning back in her seat she watched Rabia, who started to add calculations about the distances between the moon and important locations of the magical world to her map, but Ginny felt too lazy to work ahead. The map wasn't due before the day after tomorrow and she couldn't bring herself to finish her task now. She secretly admired Rabia's determination, but then, she probably wanted to get through with her homework to have the following evening free for flying practice, Ginny assumed.
Once again she allowed her thoughts to wander off towards Tom, who had not yet returned. A sly little smile formed on her lips. She would get to know his thoughts and secrets and quite soon at that, if everything worked out as she had planned it. Still smiling, Ginny remembered her conversation with Minerva, who had cast her a suspicious look at her request. "A diary?" she had asked with a trace of doubt in her voice.
"Well kind of," Ginny had shrugged nonchalantly. "I attended a wizarding school in America along with my em-my – cousin – and now I would like to stay in touch with him," she had muttered in a rush.
Minerva had arched an eyebrow at her. "Your cousin huh? Sure, if you say so."
Ginny sighed at the memory, knowing that the other girl had most obviously not bought a word of her excuses, but she didn't really care. As long as Minerva helped her to enchant the diary and did not ask uncomfortable questions, she might believe whatever she pleased.
About an hour later, when Rabia and most of the other students had retired for the night, Ginny still sat in the common room, 'Hogwarts: A History' in her lap.
Except for the group of seventh years by the fireplace who were engaged in a discussion of their own, the common room was empty.
Ginny was quite tired, but Tom had not returned yet and she was almost positive that whatever he was doing out there, had nothing to do with his duties as a Prefect; and she was too curious to just go to bed. After all, she had come here because of him and this was the perfect time to find out more about his dark plans.
Slowly, so not to draw more attention to herself than necessary, she rose from her seat and walked over to the exit-wall. In an unnoticed moment she quickly conjured up the archway like Tom had shown her and slipped out of the room.
It was dark in the corridor. Only a minimum of torches was lit at this late hour and her steps sounded hollow in the long, empty passage. Nervously, Ginny gripped her robe tighter around herself and turned towards the flight of stairs that led out of the dungeons. She really hoped Tom would sneak around somewhere up there as she had not the daring to follow him deeper into the dungeons at night time.
For all she supposed he was searching for the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets and she rather did not want to be caught spying on him. It would be much easier to come up with an excuse if she was discovered somewhere other than in the dungeons.
She was worrying that her own shadow, dancing across the walls, oddly elongated in the shifting and guttering light of the torches, might give her away. She was not at all comfortable in this place and really could not wait to get out.
But when she approached a fork in the way, she was almost swept off her feet by colliding with a tall, dark-haired figure, who had rounded the corner from the right.
Her first thought was that it was Tom she had bumped into and she almost cringed with shock, but at a closer look, she noticed the Gryffindor crest on the front of the boy's robes. Besides that she would have recognised the strong accent out of a hundred. "Oops – din't see ye'! 'Re you al'right?"
Utterly relieved not to have nearly knocked over Voldemort – no, Tom – she lifted her gaze to the boy's face.
"Hagrid!" she gasped, "Um – yes, I'm OK. Sorry, I didn't see you either."
A wide grin slipped over Hagrid's smooth, boyish face. "Oh, Ginny," he stated and there was an obvious note of relief in his voice.
"But it's Rubeus, he added. "Hagrid's my surname."
"Ahh, of course, Rubeus," Ginny smiled, "what are you doing down here?"
At that a nervous expression crossed his face. "Jus' met som'one," he muttered after a second and threw a nervous glance over his shoulder.
"Who?" Ginny asked, startled, but he just shrugged. "Can' tell ye'."
Before she got the chance to press the matter, he cast her an amused look and winked an eye at her. "An' ye'? Sneakin' out for a date, ya? Som'one I know?"
Immediately an idea of a secret rendezvous with Tom crossed Ginny's mind and much to her anger, she felt her cheeks redden.
"For someone who just refused to give me an answer, you're damn curious," she teased to distract from her embarrassment.
"But I did, too," Hagrid complained with a grin. "I said I couldn' tell ye'. That's 'n answer, isn't it?"
"Very precise," Ginny snorted, but he immediately shushed her to keep her voice low. "Shht – " he hissed, "I mustn' be down here – "
"Too true," Ginny couldn't avoid pointing out with a smirk, but Hagrid just grinned at her.
" – an' neither should you, even if ye'r older than me," he added with a clear note of satisfaction, and the grin on Ginny's face subsided.
"Hey," she complained, "this here's the dungeons and it's – my – common room that's down here, not yours."
"Yeah, but it's after curfew for ye' as well," he countered in a low voice and threw a nervous glance over his shoulder. "We'd bett'r leave now."
With that they both started to move into the direction of the stairs, but Ginny could not prevent herself from picking on him a little more. "So much in a hurry?" she asked innocently, "So much afraid to get caught? Maybe it's you who came from a date, then?" she teased.
At that comment Hagrid's cheeks flashed bright red. "Na – " he objected, "I haven't been, I've just – " he trailed off, looking around uncomfortably, then shrugged and continued in his tracks. "Well, kind of," he finally muttered. "But not like ye' think .."
They continued their friendly argument on their way upstairs, keeping their voices as low as possible, but when they had barely reached the head of the staircase, Hagrid suddenly grabbed her arm to hold her back. "Wait! There's som'one talkin'!" And then she heard it herself.
Someone was whispering in the Entrance Hall.
He was all alone in the Entrance Hall, Tom realised after a quick glance over his shoulder. Carefully he set his foot onto the lowest step of the wide marble staircase. "Show me the way," he whispered and his voice echoed softly in the vast, empty room.
Nothing happened. Nothing at all.
Hesitantly, he drew his second foot onto the same step. "Show me the way – please –" he hissed, quoting the 'magic' word, but the stairway remained motionless in its place.
It was exasperating. For more than an hour he had sneaked around the castle, searching for the right staircase, but so far, nothing had happened.
Suddenly there was a noise from the dungeon stairs behind him.
Alerted, he whirled around, hoping that no one had overheard him talking to a staircase that didn't even respond. Much to his dismay, his worry was proven right, though.
Rubeus Hagrid, the Gryffindor third year who helped Mrs. Norris, shuffled out of the shadows by the stairs, a bright grin on his face. "Ahh – it ye', I thought it might be one o' the teachers?"
And as if that wasn't bad enough – she – was with him. Immediately Tom felt his cheeks redden. How dead damn stupid of him to be caught talking to a staircase. Only yesterday he had made a fool out of himself by rummaging through his things like some sap. And now –
Curiously the Gryffindor stepped closer. "What are ye' doin' there?" He suddenly flashed him a bright grin. "Hey, don' worry, I'm allus talkin' teh m'self as well!"
To make it all worse, Tom heard Ginny stifle a giggle at that. To distract from his own embarrassment, he took his anger out on poor Hagrid. "What are you doing here?" he snapped. "It's after curfew and you should be up in your common room!"
"Ye' aren't at yours either," the younger boy complained quite stubbornly, but Tom just shook his head. "There's a difference," he told him sternly. "I am a Prefect. And you should really go to bed now, Hagrid. What are you waiting for? Hurry up!"
"Yeah, OK," Hagrid sighed and started to climb up the stairs. After a couple of steps he turned his head, though. "See you Ginny," he called softly and she raised her hand to wave at him. Then Hagrid disappeared around the corner.
Hesitantly, Tom turned towards Ginny, who watched him from the foot of the stairs.
"You're not allowed to leave the common room after curfew," he told her softly. "But I guess you didn't know that, since you're new. Not that I'd tell anyone, but you better head back for the Slytherin quarters now, before one of the teachers catches you wandering around this late."
When she didn't react right away he cleared his throat, slightly nervous all of a sudden. "Of course, if you are on your way to see someone … I don't want to spoil you a date or such … I was just thinking …"
Suddenly she cast him a bright smile that made him feel terribly unsure of himself. 'Sap, sap, sap … Ohhh – you're such an idiot….' his mind echoed and did not make him feel any better.
At a loss for words he just flashed her a cheesy grin. "Oh …"
"I was originally planning to go outside," she suddenly continued her explanations. "But if you think – " she trailed off, not looking much more comfortable than he felt.
"Well, I guess I had better headed back for our common room then," she declared, looking a little confused.
"No wait. Ginny!" he called softly and she slowly turned her head. "Yes?"
He smiled at her, glad about his sudden idea. "It's probably not wise to sneak out to the grounds, but … I'll show you some other place … If you like."
Ginny could not believe she was – again – trusting Tom to lead her down some unknown castle passageways.
The situation held some kind of scary flashbacks for her. Well, at least they were walking – upstairs – this time – for a change.
Despite her nervousness, she could not help but grin at the comedy of the situation. She had asked for some adventure in her life, hadn't she? Well, it looked as if she was going to get it.
A couple of minutes ago she had been afraid to be discovered by Tom and now she was following him to some place she did not even know.
But though she felt nervous, she wasn't afraid, she realised. Weird, very weird. She might certainly regret this. Maybe she shouldn't…
As she slowed her steps down, in the middle of a long staircase, Tom turned his head. "Are you coming?"
"Yes, yes, sure," she responded lamely and started to follow him haltingly up the stairs. It would look odd if she changed her mind now.
"Where are you taking me?" she asked. She could not avoid the slight tremble in her voice.
Tom just smiled at her. "That's a surprise," he told her. At her unenthusiastic expression his smile widened. "It's awfully high up, I know, but – it's worth climbing up all these stairs. You'll see."
Not telling him that it wasn't so much the staircases she was worrying about, Ginny followed him further upwards. They had long ago passed the last classrooms and had now reached a deserted part of the castle – one that had been shut down for years. The stairways were much narrower and wound in many turns up here. It was a section of the castle that Ginny had never seen before.
The air was stale up here and smelled of old dust and the years-long absence of sunlight. The window-shutters were closed and a thick layer of dust that covered the floor, muffled their steps. No candles or torches were lit up here and several cobwebs hung from the bare iron sconces.
The pale moonlight that peered in through the tightly closed window-shutters was the only light to cut through the blackness around, projecting an odd, riffled pattern of light and shadows to the dusty wooden-floor.
Beside her, Tom reached for his wand. "Lumos," he muttered and focused the dim light on the floor before her. "Look out, don't trip, there might be some loose floorboards," he warned.
Carefully Ginny continued her way, but he stopped her by gripping her hand. "No, wait!"
She flinched with shock and stared at him out of wide, frightened eyes.
He strengthened the grip around her fingers as if to reassure her of his presence and for a couple of seconds just looked at her. Ginny found herself unable to remove her gaze from his. She was surprised how real and strong his touch felt. Nothing like the ghostly memory she knew. His skin was warm and the grip of his fingers around her hand had a surprisingly comforting effect on her. Nonetheless a nervous fluttering filled her stomach, that only increased when Tom suddenly smiled at her. "Do you have your wand, too?" he asked and she nodded.
At that he let go of her hand again and she felt oddly disappointed. Nervously, her fingers numb with excitement, Ginny fumbled with the pocket of her robe. For a moment she thought she had forgotten her wand and almost panicked. Tom, who must have noticed her distress, stepped immediately closer to her. His arm brushed against hers. "What's wrong?" he asked softly.
"My wand," Ginny stuttered, searching her pocket again. "I don't have it! I .. Ahh, no, here it is!"
She could have been wrong, but for a moment he looked almost – disappointed. Then the impression was gone.
"Oh good, you'll need it. It's pretty dark up there," he just told her, turning towards the dark corridor they had to pass. "Come, we're almost there."
Ginny swallowed against the lump in her throat. "Lumos," she muttered and the milky ray of her own wand-light sprang into life. Taking in a deep breath, she followed him.
Their shadows flickered across the smooth sandstone walls, strangely elongated by the dim light of their combined wand-lights and when they rounded another corner, they stood at the foot of a narrow, wooden stairway that disappeared somewhere into the darkness.
"Wha- what's up there," Ginny croaked huskily and her own voice sounded very tiny and frightened in her ears.
At that she had to swallow again. "The attic," she repeated numbly and he nodded. "Yes. Keep hold of the hand-rail, the steps are very steep."
As if sensing her unasked question, Tom continued: "We need to cross the attic to get to the roof."
"And what," she swallowed to steady her voice, but set her foot on the first step nonetheless. "What would we want on the roof?"
This time he didn't respond.
Once they slipped through the old creaky door at the head of the stairs, a milky trace of pale silvery moonlight floated in a long trail across the dusty hardwood floor.
Confused, Ginny glanced around until she noticed that the light shone through the gable window to their right. As she gave her surroundings a closer look, she noticed several dark shapes piled up against each other. Old furnishings, tables and chairs from the classrooms, trunks and other containers and a row of other things of which she could only recognise vague shapes.
Carefully Tom closed the door behind them. "Shht – be quiet, we don't want to frighten them."
"Yes, it's a pity that it's so late already. I usually come up here at sundown. That's the best time."
"For what?" Ginny croaked hoarsely. "Who's up here, Tom?" She didn't even notice that she had reached for his hand and stepped closer to him. Only when he softly pressed her fingers, did she realise what she had done. Embarrassed, she tried to draw her hand back, but he just squeezed it once again and led her into the direction of the moonlit gable window. "It's OK," he muttered, "you needn't be afraid. Come."
Suddenly there was a noise in the beams above them. The rushed fluttering of wings and then right after, something – a dark shape – scudded across the room just above their heads before it wriggled to slip through a hole in the roof.
With a slight gasp of fear, Ginny stepped closer to Tom and in an impulsive movement he threw his arms around her.
"Hey, don't worry," he laughed, holding her at arm's length to look into her face. "It's just a bat!"
"A bat?" Ginny asked numbly, her heart hammering from the sudden rush of adrenaline and the unexpected closeness.
She felt truly stupid all of a sudden and could only hope that the dim moonlight didn't give away the flush of her cheeks.
If he realised her embarrassment, he didn't show it. For a couple of seconds Tom merely fixed her gaze, still holding her - and his voice was soft when he spoke. "Are you afraid of bats?"
It took a few second for his words to sink in, but when she finally realised that he was still holding her, Ginny wormed from his arms. "Oh no, I'm errm I'm not, no," she stuttered.
At her struggling he let go of her and took a step back, as if suddenly uncomfortable himself. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to frighten you. It wasn't entirely clear what he was speaking about: the bats, or the prolonged grip around her shoulders.
"No, It's OK," Ginny declared hurriedly, "I was just so startled."
"Oh, I see, I should have told you …" he trailed off and suddenly there was an awkward silence between them.
"Do you still want to – go ahead – to the roof?" he asked and she hastily responded:
"Yes, yes, let's go!"
With that they continued their way through the trace of moonlight towards the gable window.
A single - quite unsteady - wobbly chair was placed beneath the window and Tom, who had climbed out first, held out his hand for her to take it.
"Here, keep hold of my hand," he advised her, as she followed.
They were on a flat roof area, she noted. Behind them the gable wall was towering, while there was a steep-angled, light-grey slate roof to their left. In front of them and to their right was just the night sky. Curiously, Ginny took a few steps into the direction of the abyss to peer over the edge, but once again Tom stopped her.
"Don't!" he warned. "We're awfully high up here."
Nervously, Ginny took a step back and sat down on the little cornice wall on which the roof to their left rested. Tom leaned against the gable wall instead and crossed his arms. For a few moments neither of them spoke.
Ginny let her gaze wander across the wide, velvety black night sky. Deep down below she could see the lake, reflecting the glittering starlight and the treetops of the Forbidden Forest that covered the hill on the opposite side.
It was such an unusual place for a 'date', if one could call it such. The obvious humour of the situation made her laugh all of a sudden.
Immediately Tom's head turned towards her. "What are you laughing about?" he asked rather sharply. "You think I'm stupid, don't you?!"
"No," Ginny objected, but he just frowned at her.
"We better go back downstairs, if you don't like it here!"
"No, I do like it, Tom. It's beautiful," she smiled, "really. It's just so –" she shrugged, glancing around "so – unreal … So, where are your bats now?"
Only when he noticed she wasn't laughing at him, did he seem to relax.
"Well, as I said before, it's best to come here at sundown. We're a little too late to watch the bats flutter into the night, but maybe if we're lucky – There are always a few sleepy-heads, like the one that startled you."
She didn't know what to say to this and so they just fell silent again. After a couple of minutes Ginny started to freeze in the cool night air. As hot and summery as the days still were, the nights were starting to get a little chilly and held foreboding of the nearing fall.
But she didn't dare to mention it so Tom wouldn't get her wrong and think she only searched for a polite way to leave.
He did not look at her, just contemplated the grounds below.
"I sometimes come up here to sort out my thoughts," he told her softly.
Carefully, Ginny studied his face in the moonlight. It was so hard to believe that this boy, who came up to the roof of Hogwarts to watch the bats flutter out into the night, would become to most feared Dark Wizard of her time.
As usual when she thought of his dark future, she felt a stab of fright. And the shiver that ran down her spine had nothing to do with the slightly chilly night air.
Tom, who had turned to face her again, noticed her shuddering. Immediately he left his place at the wall and crossed the flat roof to sit down on the cornice beside her.
"Are you cold?" he asked softly and took off his robe.
Too startled to react, Ginny just stared at him, when she felt the warm fabric placed around her shoulders at the next moment.
She had never seen him without a cloak or robe before. In the light-grey slacks and jumper of his school uniform, Tom looked all the more odd. Good, but not at all like a dark wizard. She noted that the arms of his jumper were a few inches too short and realised that he had grown out of it. He probably couldn't afford new clothes every year either, she supposed.
"Do, don't you need your robe yourself," she croaked hoarsely, feeling all funny at the sight of his emerald-green eyes gazing into hers with a warm, kind expression.
"No," he muttered softly, "I'm not cold, Ginny."
A/N: I know this chapter took me awfully long to update. I'm very sorry about the delay. The next one will be out sooner, I promise. I hope you enjoyed the read, nonetheless. Thanks to everyone, who reviewed or e-mailed me.
And a very big Thank You to SilentG, my friend and beta reader, who puts up with my moods, typos and weird ideas. 'You're a dear!'
The wonderful idea of bat-watching on the roof of Hogwarts as a date belongs to Frabke. It's one of several witty options at her 'On-what-kind-of-date-might-Snape-take-you?' Poll at the Yahoo group 'SnapeSupport'.
URUZ, this chapter's rune, is a rune of strength. Of powerful unconscious-shaping energies, instinct, irrationality, termination and new beginnings. It's helpful to clear obstacles and change circumstances as well as to strengthen the will, to dispel weakness and self-doubt. And it also helps to prepare for changes and exciting events ahead.
Its shape resembles the little sign I typed to separate the single sections. It's similar to an n, but seems to point downwards on the right. ח
If you like, also check out my new fic: *What do I care*. It's a Draco/Hermione Romance and rated R for a change. There is nothing too graphic, though. But – don't be fooled by the fluffy Prologue! Tee Hee
*Alizee* Yes, the Prologue is a glance at what will happen in a later chapter.
*Midnight Auror* What inspired me? Well, that's difficult to tell. My hopeless sense for romance to bloom in unlikely places, I think. The idea of 'taming the shrew'. I was truly worried people might think it's sick, when I started this - but I was happy to see other's like the idea, too.
*lunarmouse* It was Ginny, yes. But she discovers a new site of her personality. She's in Slytherin House now after all.
*Lucy* It's because the change of years during the school year, which started in 42, but ends in 43. Ginny hoped to get out at the same point of season as she started in her own time in February, which would have been February 43. That's why she supposed to be in the year 43 first. In fact, she had to discover though, that the Time-Turner didn't work that precisely at long time-travels. It transported her into the beginning of the school year, which was 42. She only found out when she noticed that the trees were green, while she expected to have come out in midwinter.
As far as I know Harry and Hermione got transported from the Infirmary to the Entrance Hall when they travelled only three hours back. It seems that people aren't transported to another place, but are twisted around in the place they currently are. A different floor, or section of the castle seems to be possible.
*Teigra* When do you mean? Outside by the lake? He was reading the legacy aloud so he could understand the words and as it was written in Parseltongue the snakes in the grass heard – and understood him.
*Goblin Queene* OK. It was probably quite mean to tell you that I've already written the Epilogue, I admit that. On the other hand it should reassure you that I won't abandon the story.
*tonic* Ten points to whatever House you're in!