A/N: I've adopted a new scene break: .o0o. rather than (*)(*)(*) because I feel the new one is somewhat gentler that the other.
Goddess in Chains
"The people we love are the people who destroy us, every single time, without a doubt."
She's eleven and already dressed in her brand-new robes even though she's just left the station. Leaning back in her seat, her toes just skimming the floor, she pulls out a leather-bound book from her bag and begins reading.
The compartment door slides open and in stumbles a boy, pale and skinny, his eyes carrying a strange coldness, one she has never seen in anyone her own age. He's hauling a trunk behind him, and his clothes are patched, the hems frayed, making it obvious to her that this strange boy hasn't ever had much in his life.
"Can I sit here?" he asks, "Everywhere else is full."
Somehow, even though she'd rather be alone, quietly immersed in the worlds of Muggle fiction, she finds herself unable to turn this boy away. There's just an air of melancholy about him, reminding her of the stray Kneazles who inhabit Diagon Alley, underfed and unwanted.
She nods and he extends a hand, a grin on his face and says:
"I'm Tom. Tom Riddle."
"Minerva," she replies, emphatically shaking his hand as her father always taught her to do whenever she's met a new person, "Before you ask, the answer is yes, I'm named for the Goddess of Wisdom."
"I wasn't going to ask that," he says, perching himself on the seat opposite her, his pants hitching up to expose his knobbly ankles. "I was actually going to say that it's a lovely name."
She feels her cheeks tinge pink, but as to whether her blush it from the embarrassment at being so presumptuous or the compliment, she isn't sure. It's nice though, especially since she's been made fun off for her name all her life. People seem to think she's vain, choosing to name herself for a Goddess, somehow never realising that she had no say in her naming.
"Tom's a nice name as well," she says with a polite smile, trying to keep the conversation going and return the gesture in the same turn. She's shocked by the way his face sours, lips curling into a snarl, eyes hardening from cool pools to chips of ice.
"It's a boring name," he states coolly, "Someday, I'll make myself a new name, one that will never be forgotten."
"I'm sure you will," she stutters, unsure of how to respond to the passion in his voice, so stark in contrast to his boyish face. More than a little bemused, she buries her nose between the pages of the book, but for the duration of their trip, she keeps sneaking glances at Tom Riddle.
Her name is called and she walks with a quiet dignity, one that is not often seen in girls of eleven, her cool eyes fixed upon the three-pronged stool set upon the dais. The Great Hall is silent, every eye fixed upon her as she perches herself upon the wood and lets the battered hat slip past her ears, obscuring her eyes and most of her nose.
Despite her morbid appearance, stray bits of tattered leather hanging down across her dark, almost black, hair, she continues to exude a sense of poise and grace that has the professors exchanging curious glances. A low hum of whispers ghost through the hall, the elders quirking their eyebrows and staring. Their gazes eyes bore holes into her skull, and though she cannot see them, a sliver of discomfort works its way down her spine as the feeling of being watched encompasses her.
"What a well-ordered mind," comments the Hat, causing her to start as she hears it within her head.
"But where shall I put you? You are intelligent, yet you lack wisdom. Brave, but cunning, bold, yet foolish. Hmmmm, you're a strange one, aren't you?"
The austere look slips, and she bites her lip, nervous for the first time since waving farewell to her parents. The Hat can't be right. After all, she's named for the Goddess of Wisdom, and by that face alone, shouldn't she be wise? Impatiently, she waits, till finally her eyes find those of the boy from the train.
He looks terrified, but he forces a tentative smile to his face and sticks up his thumbs in a gesture of goodwill, so she nods and swallows, whispering, "Put me where I belong."
"Haha," guffaws the Hat, "Perhaps you are wise after all. But better be, Gryffindor!"
It shouts the last word and she feels a sense of relief flooding through her, before she's hurrying down the stairs to the Gryffindor table, her tie flashing as stripes of red and gold begin to weave themselves through it.
A few minutes later, his name is called, and he's put into Slytherin, and she's the only lioness who claps.
"Minerva," he exclaims, swinging his skinny legs to and fro as she clambers up to sit beside him, her red and gold scarf standing stark in contrast to the sea of green and silver around them.
"Riddle," she laughs, having learned early on in their friendship that calling him Tom is the one thing he will not abide. Ignoring the heated glares upon her, she shivers slightly at the chill, and huddles into her coat, her cheeks tinged pink against the icy wind. The first players take to the skies in robes of emerald and sapphire, the teams of eagle and serpent preparing to face off and begin this year's games.
"Shouldn't you be sitting with the other Gryffindors?" he asks, eyes darting this way and that, nervously surveying the boys whom he shares a dorm with. Their lips are curved into sneers of distaste, but they're remaining silent . . . at least for the nonce.
"We're not playing today," she replies with a shrug, "Besides, I'd love it if Goyle manages to knock that horrid Theresa Corner off her broom."
"Minerva!" His eyes widen in surprise, unused to hearing such things from her. She shrugs again, noticing that the sneers seem to be shifting, becoming more calculating rather than depreciating.
"She's so obnoxious, Riddle," continues Minerva, "I think she needs to be taken down a peg or two."
There are whispers around them, before two slender fingers tap her shoulders and she turns, frowning at the sight of the platinum-blond behind her. Raising an eyebrow, she waves off Tom's warning grasp on her wrist and adopts a questioning expression.
"Can I help you, Malfoy?"
"I couldn't help but overhear," he drawls, "that you have a grudge against that pesky little seeker."
"I'm listening," she replies with a smirk, missing the glint of scarlet in Tom Riddle's eyes as he watches her through the corners of his vision.
"Riddle," she snaps, fighting back the urge to smack his hand away as pokes her shoulder for the umpteenth time.
"Minerva," he teases, poking her again, eyes widening as she pulls back her hand to slap his arm. Like a snake, his hand darts and grabs her wrist, eyes darkening ever so slightly as he tightens his hold.
She gasps in shock and pain, her nose creasing as she tries to pull her hand away and fails.
"You're hurting me."
Lightning quick, he releases her, having the grace to at least look ashamed, before looking away. Frowning, Minerva rubs at her wrist and taps him on his shoulder, harder than she ordinarily would have.
She's twelve now, and her hair is longer, falling midway down her back, and her face is losing its childlike roundness. Eyes sharpening, she prods him again, speaking softly so as to get his attention without aggravating him further. Minerva knows better than most how cross her friend is like to get when he's been roused, after all.
"What is it you wanted, Riddle?" she asks, finally eliciting a response from him, and he looks over his shoulder with an eerie look in his eye.
"Could you help me research something I'm curious about?"
"What would that be?" This, books and learning, they're her forte, and she's glad that he's come to her even though he probably could learn all there is to know by himself. It isn't that difficult, to be sure, and she knows that he's quite the intelligent individual.
"The Chamber of Secrets."
"Minerva," he sighs, his breath ghosting across her cheek as he comes up behind her, and she shivers at the intensity.
She's fourteen and the years have passed her by like wavering dreams, and she's growing into her womanhood. Her curves are forming, and she no longer has the body of a child, but rather, of a young lady.
And as time as past, it has become evident that he is the burning darkness, and she the chilling light.
"Shouldn't you be spending time with your new friends? Walburga and Abraxas and the rest?"
"Walburga is too busy plotting to behead her family house-elves, and Abraxas is in the hospital wing. I haven't spent time with you in weeks," he replies dryly, his glib voice caressing the shell of her ear.
"Whose fault is that, Riddle?" she asks, turning to face him, her eyes meeting his, daring him to meet her gaze.
"My own," he admits with a frown, "but I'm here now, and I did miss you, Minerva."
He's telling her other things, sweet words and empty promises, but she isn't listening as she lets him take her hand and lead her towards the grounds. All she can focus on is that he's missed her.
"Riddle!" she barks in a harsh voice, grasping him by the elbow and yanking him behind the tapestry.
"What is it, Minerva?" he asks urgently, his posture one that no boy of fifteen should carry. He's taller now, and his face is more angular, but his eyes are just the same as those of the skinny boy she first met on the train.
"They're saying a girl died, Riddle," she stutters, tightening her hold on his arm and gazing into his eyes, "You promised that nobody would get hurt, you swore that you could control the beast!"
"It was an accident," he hisses, his tone low and dangerous, but for once she doesn't care.
"I've helped you all these years, Riddle, all of them. I found Merope's journal in the library, and you swore you were just researching your family line! Nothing more! A. Girl. Is. Dead. DEAD!"
Her last words are almost a scream, and she's batting her hands at him as he grasps her wrists and pins them to her sides, holding her against the hard wall, until she's calm again. Her heart still thuds like a sleeping titan in her chest, but she's nodding softly as he assures her that it will all be OK.
"You have to close it, Riddle," she pleads eventually, "You have to close the Chamber."
"Anything, for you."
She's seventeen and a dancer, flowing across the floor like the most graceful of goddesses, her silky brunette hair cascading in a flawless accentuation of his dark suit. Her eyes are bright with merriment as the songs waft through the air, the lilting melody of the band hired by Professor Slughorn for his Christmas party playing through her ears.
It isn't the happiest of occasions, for he isn't the same boy she first met. Instead he's a man, one whom she's slowly falling for, even though she knows that there's a cancerous rot within his heart. One of her Housemate's had been expelled for the incident in their fifth year, a gentle giant with a penchant for breeding dangerous creatures.
Still, whenever she looks into her partners soullessly dark eyes, she can still remember her own words from behind the tapestry.
"A girl died."
Then he smiles at her, a charming smile, and she melts into his arms as he leads her across the dance floor. The glares of the Slytherin purebloods are scathing as she rests her cheek upon his shoulder, their movements slowing in time with the song. They're envious of her and she can't blame them – he's spectacular and amazing. She can't help but be in awe of herself, for of all the girls in Hogwarts, he had chosen her to accompany him to the party.
"Are you enjoying yourself?" he murmurs into her ear. His voice is like honeyed wine, rich and sweet and addictive all at once and she shivers as his breath ghosts across her skin.
"Very much so," she responds, too at a loss for words to say much more.
"Could you do me a favour?" he asks next, and though the warning bells begin to ring in her head, she can't help but nod and agree to help him in any way she can.
His lips are heaven against her throat, her nails hell upon his back, but their hearts are beating faster than the wings of a hummingbird, and their breathing is ragged.
Like Hades and Persephone, they writhe in tantric pleasure, her teeth finding purchase in his pale shoulder, biting down hard and marking him as her own. He's hers, and nobody else's, because he's always chosen her above the rest.
Long, dexterous fingers trails down her sweat-slicked spine, drawing spiralling designs across her back and causing her to throw back her head, simply revelling in giving her all to him.
Later, as they lay spent, he throws out an arm and hooks it around her, drawing her close so that she's pressed against his chest. She sighs in contentment and nips at the skin, a playful gesture, and his lips grace her brow.
The first Knights of Walpurgis.
The inky stain mars her left forearm as she advances down the Muggle street, her face masked in silver, her silhouette shrouded in black velvet. Her wand is in her hand, and from it flows the most lethal of curses, blasting apart all who stand in their way.
Riddle leads them. He is the Dark Lord, who has taken Olympus, but she remains his faithful Goddess, his right hand. They're a small circle, but their numbers are growing, and after all the years even the Pureblood Slytherins have grown to respect her.
And fear her. Always fear her.
She remembers a time when she was not so cold and heartless, before her soul was torn and given as sacrifice. The darkest of magic lives within her, but she cares not, content to be a guardian of her lover's soul.
The Order charges, and she can see their faces, for they're wearing the visages of her former students. She hopes, and prays, that Dumbledore is not here this night – for if he is then her guise will fall through and she will be exposed.
But instead, it's just those pesky, irritating Prewett twins.
The fight like heroes, but Minerva just shakes her head as she prods their corpses with her toe. They were Pure, after all, so why did they give their lives for those miserable wretches that were not?
Once again, she's walking down a Muggle street, but this time she's following another lord, one who's manipulative and light, rather than cunning and dark.
"Is it true?" she asks, "Lily, and James? Oh, Albus."
Her face is heavy in mourning, but she isn't grieving for those blasted Potters. No, the world itself has no idea as to how much she's lost today.
She learns, on that faithful night, who it is who's killed her Lord and love, and as much as she craves to rip the baby from the old codger's hands and rip him to shreds with her bare hands, she turns away to dull the spark of red in her eye instead.
In time, she will take her revenge, but not yet . . . soon, though, soon she shall.
She stabs at her chicken with her fork, shooting dull glares at the boy with emeralds for eyes, and gritting her teeth to keep herself nonchalant. She's furious, but she notices Snape's glare, and remembers the animosity between the greasy git and the child's parents.
There is something there, she knows, something that she can use to her advantage.
"Alright, Minerva?" asks Pomona, tapping her arm with a concerned look upon her face.
"Just some indigestion," she lies, "I am getting on in age, and these House-Elves cook richer food with every passing year."
The Herbology Professor chuckles and after making sure that she'll see Poppy in the Hospital Wing before bed, takes her leave.
Alone, Minerva sits, till she starts at the feeling of a familiar coldness across her shoulder.
"Riddle," she whispers.
The shouts of fighting are heavy upon the air as she tears up the staircase, ignoring Remus' look of shock as he's thrown back by the barrier. Within moments she's reached the top and she's grinning, watching the old codger's expression cloud, and fall in dismay, because she doubts that he, that anyone, could have ever seen this one coming.
"Minerva," croaks Dumbledore, his voice feeble and clawed from his throat, "What is the meaning of this."
She simply shakes her head and pushes Snape aside, before letting her arm be bared for the first time in over fifty years. Albus' eyes widen at the sight, the twisting serpent leering from the inky skull, and finally, she can see the jigsaw coming together in his head.
"I should have known that you were his Goddess of Death." Albus shakes his head, and the entire tower is silent, all watching her. She can see the Malfoy boy, he's the most surprised, as is Snape – for neither she nor her lord ever trusted either of them enough to divulge her true role in the war.
"Avada Kedavra," she whispers, her voice silkier and more deadly than the curse she's just spoken.
As he plummets, falling like a ragdoll, she's already turning heel and taking flight with the other Death Eaters, her eyes widening at the outraged shriek she hears echoing down the stairs.
The castle is in ruins, and she's stumbling, almost broken to the bridge. It's been gutted by fire, but the drop is still severe enough to break every bone in her body. Blood congeals across her tattered robes, her face is cut in half-a-hundred places, and she presses a palm against her abdomen, trying to staunch the gushing stab wound.
They've taken everything from her, Potter and his miserly cronies, ripped from her all that she has left. Even his soul, the fragment that's she kept hidden within her own is gone, ripped away by the Sword of Gryffindor as it plunged its way through her stomach.
"Stop, Minerva." She hears them and turns, her back against the stone railing, and she glares at the half-dozen wands pointed at her chest. She knows their faces, and even now she knows she can kill them all without even blinking. Like a beast when cornered, she bares her teeth and sneers.
"No," she replies, and she laughs, before letting herself fall over the edge.
A/N: Written for the finals of the Grand Battle Challenge of Diagon Alley II Forum. This was speed written because I procrastinated, so I shall be coming back to it to edit soon. Thank you all for reading.