Authors Note: This is co-written between THE RED DRAGONS ORDER, RACHEL A. PRONGS and ZIMAGESTO. Enjoy!Chapter Three: Castle
'I have no prejudices. I hate everybody equally' – Unknown
'Never judge a book by its cover' – Unknown
Fudge's eyes almost bugged out of his head, and he stared at Dumbledore. Dumbledore continued on like if making a proposal about taking in a very dangerous Dark Heir was something that happened everyday.
"Excuse me, I didn't quite catch that." Fudge said. "I thought you just suggested to let you take this murderer to Hogwarts?"
"I did." Replied Dumbledore.
"The same Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry?"
"The very same."
"The same Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry that is full of students?"
Dumbledore nodded again. "Is there a point to this repeating, Cornelius?"
"Are you mad!? He'd kill the whole lot of you in seconds!"
Dumbledore sighed. "You cannot blame the boy for what he is, Cornelius. He was born into an evil world, and feed lies and dark deciet since he was old enough to understand spoken word. He's been brainwashed since he was old enough to walk: that much is obvious. It would be unfair to execute him now."
"Unfair?!" Fudge exclaimed. "He's killed hundreds of people!"
"Cornelius, calm down and let me explain." Said Dumbledore. He made two chairs appear out of thin air and sat down in one of them. Next a table appeared, decked with tea, cups and cookies. And, of course, a bowl of Lemon Drops. "Now, have a seat."
Fudge really didn't look like he wanted to sit down, but he didn't dare to say anything against the old mage and sat down at the edge of his chair.
"Imagine this if you will," Dumbledore started and dipped his cookie in his tea. "You are born as the son of the most feared and evil Dark Lord of the times. Said Dark Lord is a tyrant and demands absolute discipline and obedience from his followers, including his son. So you are trained in various ways from the first day you could walk."
"I'll repeat your question Albus," growled Fudge. "Is there a point to this?"
"Indeed there is. It's all about survival, and every child has this instinct from birth. If he had defied the Dark Lord he wouldn't have lived to be eighteen years old." Dumbledore sighed. "He's been used, Cornelius, he is only a tool. I believe he deserves a second chance. I believe this boy has great potential to be turned back to the Light Side."
Fudge spluttered. "A second chance?! He'll use that second chance to kill your students! You can't take him to Hogwarts!"
"Why not? There he can learn what it is to be a human. He can study the Light Arts under me, and my teachers. He can learn how to socialise with normal youths. I believe he can be redeemened, if you only give him time."
Fudge sneered."Give me one clue that might have led you to this conclusion, Albus, and I'll let him come with you to Hogwarts." The Aurors around the room chuckled to themselves and started chatting with each other. Dumbledore might be one of the greatest wizards of this time, but not even he could find something good about the heir to the Dark Lord. And if he actually did manage to find something, then they would eat their uniforms.
"Today in Diagon Alley, when that witch sliced the bindings on his wrists, this young man was very capable of blowing the entire place to smithereens and kill hundreds of people, but he didn't." The twinkle was back in Dumbledore's sky-blue eyes, and his whiskers twitched upwards.
Fudge looked around in slight panic. "He- he collapsed!" he protested.
"I cast a Sleeping Charm on him," replied Dumbledore. "Don't try to worm your way out of the agreement Cornelius. The boy comes with me, and if you still protest let Aurors Kingsley Shacklebolt and Nymphadora Tonks come and keep an eye on Mr Riddle's progress... And remember, he never chose to go to the Dark Side, he was educated to live in it."
During the whole conversation Hermione and Draco had been looking to and fro between the two men. Hermione was wondering why the hell the Headmaster was defending Damien 'Harry' Riddle so vehemently. Then, it suddenly clicked in the brilliant mind of the young witch. She turned to the unconscious young man bound in the chair. She blinked. One green eye was watching her and Draco, a small twitch at the lips indicated high amusement that no one had discovered that he was awake yet. Then the eyes went back to watching the Aurors in the room. Said aurors looked highly disappointed that they couldn't torture and kill the rabid Dark Heir, and disgusted that they actually had to eat their own robes.
All this, Damien Riddle watched in mild amusement.
"Alright, alright," said Fudge, growling. "Just remember it's on your head if He starts attacking and murdering the whole school."
"Of course," Dumbledore agreed easily. "I accept all responsibility for Mr Riddle." He then stood and flicked out his wand, he then cast a powerful Sleeping Charm on the green-eyed teen and cut the bonds with another swish of his wand. "Come along," he adressed Hermione and Draco, and with a "Mobilicorpus!" he floated the much discussed young man at his side.
"Hermione!" Draco whispered as the two hurried after Dumbledore as he headed towards the Hospital wing, Damien Riddle floating at his side."What's going on? Why are Riddle here? Dumbledore is crazy for taking him in, you know."
Hermione did not stop. "He saved me, Draco."
Draco came to an abrupt halt. "He what?" Then he had to hurry on, since Hermione was still moving fast.
"He saved me. He stopped four Death Eater trainees from beating and raping me, and then he let me escape. He saved my life."
His mouth hung a-gape. "But why should he do that?"
"I don't know," Hermione shrugged. Then they had to stop talking, as they arrived in the Hospital wing.
Ginny Weasley, nurse in training, gasped when she saw the battered, unconcious young man, and immediately disappeared to find Madam Pomfrey.
When she arrived, she only shook her head sadly, and started her healing routine, as if healing the Dark Lord's son was something she happened to do often. Hermione and Draco watched, questions filling their heads, as Damiens numerous cuts and bruises disappeared. Some of them, however, left scars, and Hermione had a growing suspicion that they weren't his first.
"Why is she healing him?" Draco whispered harshly to Hermione.
Hermione however, was becoming rather certain as to why. "Honestly Draco. You're a Ravenclaw. Use your brains."
Then Dumbledore spoke. He'd been watching carefully as the Medi-witch was working, and now that it seemed like Damien would be all right, he had other, pressing business to tend to. "If you'll excuse me, Poppy," he said as he went towards the door, "There's someone I need to notify about Mr Riddle's arrival."
"Just go ahead Headmaster, I'll keep an eye on things," Madam Pomfrey said. Then she sighed. "Poor, poor boy. I had hoped that it would at least take another week before he ended up in my care again," she muttered.
Hermione and Draco decided some information would be good, and cornered Ginny.
"What did she mean by that?" demanded Draco quietly.
"Didn't you two know?" Ginny asked, surprised." Damien Harry Riddle has been working as a spy for our side for five years, running errands for Dumbledore that no one else on our side would even think about trying. You should've seen the wounds we've had to treat over the years. He was almost turned into a vampire when he went to ask the vampires for help. The giants nearly flattened him!" The red-haired girl shook her head. "He's done so much for us," she said sadly, "He risks his life on daily basis, but no one aknowledges it. It would be a disaster if they would, too" she added, and with a sigh she went to help Pomfrey with her task.
"Oh," said Draco, flabbergasted.
"He did help me escape, but I really didn't think much of it. Not even when I found out that he was Damien Riddle himself." Hermione whispered and sat down on a bed. She had, in the last few minutes started to suspect somethings, but at this scale? No. He was the Dark Lord's son for Merlin's sake!
"Do you really think it's true that he's been Dumbledore's number one spy for years?" Draco looked over to the other bed. "It's just so unlikely! I mean, he's killed hundreds of people!"
"You heard what Dumbledore said: survival instincts." Hermione was about to continue her train of thoughts, when a moan from Riddle claimed her attention.
Green eyes fluttered open and took in their surroundings. "Here again, am I?"
"Yes, you are," answered Pomfrey. "You should be given a personal room."
A grin went over the pale face. "Ah, Poppy, I know you love to pamper me."
The nurse tried to keep the fond smile off her face, but didn't succeed. "Little charmer!" she laughed, to Draco and Hermione's surprise. Usually she was very strict and harsh with her patients. "Now, Ginny has got some new clothes for you just behind that screen there, and this time we've made sure everything fits."
Riddle nodded and slowly stood. First now did Draco see just how tall the Dark Lord's heir was; perhaps not as tall as Ronald Weasley, but taller than a normal young man.
The green-eyed young man walked behind the screen and then came back out a minute later fully dressed again, and not appearing to have suffered anything from his capture at the hands of the Aurors. A perfectly healthy, tall, rather handsome young man, unfazed by the fact that he less than half an hour earlier had been that close torment and death at the hands of Aurors.
It was at that moment the doors of the Hospital wing banged open and a black streak of ...something... came zooming in. It threw itself at Riddle who buckled and fell backwards, skidding a few feet on the floor.
"Hello Severus," came Riddle's voice. He sounded distinctly amused. "Nice to see you again."
"Damien!" the small zooming creature cried, and finally Hermione was able to recognise 'it'. It was Severus Snape, a new student who had joined the forth years even though he was only twelve, and earned the friendship and respect of Arel Arlenmeier, the strict Potions Mistress and Head of Ravenclaw House at Hogwarts. Now that had surprised everyone, for Professor Arlenmeier rarely befriended anyone. The other thing that was curious about Severus, was that he was a Snape. The Snapes had been killed by You Know Who several years ago... but the boy could be a distant relative of that Snape family.
The boy was obviously very excited. "You came! I thought you said you wouldn't!"
"Things change, kid. Did you keep up with your lessons?" Riddle stood, and helped the younger boy up as well.
"I did. Professor Dumbledore has allowed me to borrow his personal piano and has been teaching me himself."
A black eyebrow arched. "Really?"
"Yes, he's ssssooooo good at playing! He even plays violin!" Severus Snape was bouncing happily on the spot. Now that was certainly weird. Earlier Hermione had only observed him as depressed and sad, allways moping around in the school and now he looked like a black rubber ball.
Riddle looked up at the sound of footsteps. "Well, it seems I owe you a thanks, Albus."
Dumbledore chuckled. "Think nothing of it, my boy. It was my pleasure. Ah," the Headmaster suddenly spotted Draco and Hermione. "Let me introduce you to Mr Draco Malfoy and Miss Hermione Granger – the latter, I believe, you already know."
Riddle's eyes narrowed. "The son of Lucius Malfoy, no?" he asked, and Draco stiffened.
"Yes," he said, his chin high, eyes meeting Riddle's defiantly. He didn't feel quite comfortable with that look, but he'd be damned if he showed it.
Riddle nodded briefly, and then turned back to the Headmaster. "I didn't get to the elves," he said. "Fudge and his idiots captured me half-way there. How they managed that is still a mystery to me."
Dumbledore looked suddenly worried. "Hmm, indeed. We'll have to check on that soon. But first of all I need your advice on something. Would you mind coming along right away?"
It was an order and Riddle knew it. He bent down to look Severus in the eyes. "I'm going to stay at Hogwarts for a while, so we'll see each other often enough."
Severus nodded. "I'm just happy that you're here, brother" he said with a smile.
Hermione and Draco blinked in surprise. Brother?!
Riddle nodded again, smiling slightly at the younger boy. Then stood and turned to Dumbledore. "Lead the way, Albus."
Well, what did you think? Please review.
Rachel A. Prongs, SSSRoaB, pistaccio pudding, Siri Kat, Tigress of the Night, zimagesto, Reader, King Akvar, Sword Wielder – Firebreath and Amy14.