Heri dragged his fingers down, cutting through the crimson words.
"Animal blood." He sighed. "Nobody has any style nowadays."
"Sounds interesting though…" Fred started with enthusiasm.
"I wonder what secrets it holds!" George finished his twin's thought.
"What does it mean though? Heir of what?" Neville asked, and Heri turned to see if any of his friends had the answer. It seemed that Draco was a little more in the loop than him.
"The Chamber of Secrets is something to do with Salazar Slytherin, right? He built some hidden chamber way back when."
"That rings a bell." Daphne agreed.
"Then that would make the Heir, Voldemort." Heri added. This day was just getting better and better.
"Enemies, beware…" He pondered the words, ignoring his friends' shock. "Maybe Dumbledore? He's Voldemort's greatest enemy, isn't he?"
"I think the chamber was built with another purpose in mind… I don't know, maybe the teachers can help." Draco would write to his father tonight.
Heri was just about to examine the fate of Mrs Norris when the sound of dozens of footsteps echoed down the hall.
"We should go." Hermione advised. He supposed they didn't need any more heat, and if he was literally found red-handed he'd definitely get the blame, so he followed his friends away from the scene before the other students arrived. When he heard several outcries, he wondered whether he should have stayed just to enjoy the show.
Over the next few days the whole school was abuzz. Most of the student population was on edge, nervous or scared about what was coming. The rest, those that were gleeful and gloating, were noticeably Slytherin.
Heri was the most excited though. Excited, and a little disappointed. He was excited because a legendary secret had been unleashed; there was a giant snake on the loose, up to god knows what; and if the Heir was indeed Voldemort then the man had already returned to the school. It was ballsy if nothing else. He was disappointed because he hadn't felt the need to come say hello – manners cost nothing. He also expected better from the Dark Lord; the writing on the wall was an impressive statement and even the teachers were scared, but animal blood? That was cheap.
Lucius Malfoy was furious. He had expected the diary to curse the Weasley girl, but this Chamber of Secrets business had to be related. As a school governor he'd been informed of the incident on Halloween right away, and at first he tried to convince himself it was the work of Addams, but after receiving Draco's letter he had to concede that this was probably his own doing. Maybe the diary was the key to the chamber – that would certainly be something the Dark Lord would value.
Lucius was a Slytherin, and he didn't care if someone was setting out to complete Salazar's work, in fact he was all for it, but the last thing he needed was Dumbledore getting a hold of the diary – that outcome was worse than the Ministry getting it, and if that happened he would never be able to face his Lord! So in the end he decided to trust his son. Draco wasn't his baby boy anymore. The boy had grown without him noticing and become someone stronger, someone who could be trusted with something as important as this.
He just had to make sure his son handed the diary over to him, and not Addams.
"So come on then, what's the deal with the Chamber of Secrets?" Heri asked Snape as they set up for that night's lesson. Astoria had joined them at Daphne's insistence. Herido could understand why she would want to help her family become stronger and he trusted his friend's judgement and so had allowed her to stay.
"The deal," Snape sneered at the phrase, "Is that Salazar Slytherin left behind the chamber to one day unleash a monster that would remove all of those he thought were undeserving of a magical education."
"Muggleborns." Hermione said grimly. Mutterings of discontent quickly spread, but were interrupted by Herido.
"You have to respect the man's commitment." He suggested. "Even the muggles have overcome prejudices from a thousand years ago. To think he was able to keep his ideals alive this long!" Nobody was particularly offended by his words, as they knew Heri being impressed by Slytherin didn't equate to agreeing with his views.
"I disagree. I would say that a whole lot of muggles still hold barbaric, archaic views." Hermione argued. "I have several neighbours who would never speak to me again if they knew I was a witch."
"I don't think the Dark Lord will settle for shunning you." Snape added dryly.
"That's because he hasn't met her yet." Draco laughed, causing the others to share snickers at their little inside joke.
"I'm a delight!" Hermione exclaimed with exaggerated pomp, but when Draco turned back to her she had her wand raised. His was also drawn and ready in a second.
"Hey! I was only teasing." He cried as he blocked her spell before returning his own. Soon enough hexes were flying everywhere.
"Perhaps tonight's lesson could focus on defensive magic?" Neville suggested, trying to bring their focus back, because he could see that Snape was clearly fighting a desire to take the lot of them out for disrespecting his lesson, knew Heri would consider this a viable and probably useful teaching method, and so was something Neville wanted to avoid. Though he really had no idea what they could do to defend against an unknown monster.
"Quite, Mr Longbottom." Snape agreed at least with what the boy was trying to do. "Though I am sorely tempted to leave you all defenceless and at the creature's mercy!" They all calmed down at once.
"Sorry, Professor." Hermione was mortified that she'd behaved in such a way with a teacher present. She could only assume it was because she'd gotten used to seeing him in this unusual and less formal setting, however he had made clear at their first lesson that they were to conduct themselves as they would in a classroom. "Yes, so defence…" She started in an effort to make amends.
"Hmm, I find sharp blades work on most things." Heri said helpfully.
"That's not really defensive though." Argued a melodic, wispy voice.
"On occasion I'm afraid the best line of defence is offence." Snape returned.
"Especially when you don't know what you're up against." Hermione nodded, easily returning to student mode.
"But the Weetimorousbeasties are convinced it's a serpent of some kind." The voice said.
"That would make sense for Slytherin."
"But Weetimorousbeasties don't even exis…" Hermione stopped talking as she, along with everyone else spun to look at the intruder, only just now realising they were one voice too many. Snape sucked in a sharp breath.
Luna Lovegood stood next to a training manikin and she looked just as startled as the others.
"You assured me this area was secured!" Snape rounded on Addams immediately. "I should have known, you're just as arrogant as you father." He was a fool for going along with this nonsense for as long as he had! The risk was too great.
Heri ignored the hostile words for now (his father?), and considered the new girl. She acted the way muggles did after being exposed to low levels of electricity, but her magic was still the most purely Light he'd ever seen. He was against using children in sacrificial rituals unless absolutely necessary, but that didn't mean he couldn't get to work researching all the things he could do with this girl's magic once she was older.
"That's Loony Lovegood." Astoria mocked. Her year mate had a reputation for being off her head most of the time, so the younger Greengrass wasn't as concerned as the others. No one would believe her.
"What are you doing out here in the middle of the night, Miss Lovegood?" Snape asked with a hard voice. Maybe he could just obliviate her, it wasn't like he hadn't done it to a student before after all.
"I was feeding the thestrals, when I felt the most interesting thrum of magic. It led me here." She explained, still sounding completely at ease and now with a dreamy, far off look in her eyes. She looked into the calculating, nervous or mistrustful faces of those around her. "Don't worry, I'm not as innocent as I seem." Heri scoffed at that, but she carried on, not taking any offence. "It's true that I can't use the magics you're practicing here, but Light magic can be just as deadly – you just have to be creative." Her smile was haunting. "And I'm very creative."
Everyone was silent as they thought.
"It was nice to meet you all." She chimed. "But I really must be getting back to the thestrals now."
Snape made to go after her, but Heri called him off.
"You can't honestly believe she'll stay quiet about this?" The man asked in anger and disbelief.
"I believe we should find out." Heri replied, before taking out his wand to start practicing, while the others commented on how surreal that had been. He was intrigued. He knew she was right that any magic could be harmful in the right hands. However he also knew that 'light' and 'dark' were merely labels, and that any witch or wizard could use either - they simply chose not to. But mostly he was curious because he'd never met a witch like her, and he wondered what trauma had made her that way.
Snape was far too cautious a man to let the girl walk away, but none of the other children seemed concerned after Heri spoke, and he had underestimated them before, so he ignored his own instincts and started the lesson. He imagined he wouldn't be getting much sleep over the next few days…
Draco held on to his father's letter, not sure what to do with the information, but given its contents he had to share it once a first year was attacked.
"So someone is using your father's diary to open the chamber?" Daphne summarised as she scanned through the letter once more.
"I think so." Draco nodded. "And he says that the last time the chamber was opened someone died. A muggle-born." He gave Hermione an almost apologetic smile.
"Well then I don't think Hermione should be going anywhere by herself until we sort this out." Ron suggested seriously. Their group was well known for being fiercely protective of each other.
"I'm quite capable of handling myself!" She insisted. "I don't need babysitters."
"You're right." Hermione smiled at Heri's words, until she realised he was looking at Ron. "We'll take turns babysitting." She huffed, but was quietly pleased – these really were better friends than she had ever hoped for. She knew that nothing would happen to her if they had anything to say about it.
"You can't really think Ginny is the one using the diary though!" Fred was sure she wasn't. She couldn't be. She was still having trouble accepting that her brothers were friends with Slytherins, never mind jumping on board with Pureblood doctrine.
"You said yourselves that she's seemed rather off lately." Blaise pointed out.
"That doesn't mean she's trying to kill people!"
"Yeh" Draco rolled his eyes. "And she probably thinks that you would never dream of killing and eating people." He hit back at Ron.
"That's not the same!"
They didn't think it was Ginny who was using the diary, but all the same the Weasleys were keen to get such a dangerous thing away from her.
Draco was distracted when he heard the tell-tale strum of fingers and turned to Herido, who had a contemplative look that he didn't like one bit.
"No." He said straight away, much to Heri's disappointment.
"But we could just borrow it before we give it back." He tried. "Aren't you curious about what's inside the chamber?"
Draco was curious. But this was exactly what he'd been trying to avoid: he hated that he felt his loyalties were always torn between his friends and his family.
"Oh, don't be a spoilsport, Draco." The twins teased as they slid beside him and took an arm each, completely caging him in. "Your dad put our baby sister in harm's way, we should at least get a peek at the diary – it's only fair."
He sighed in defeat. "Ok, fine, but just a peek…"
And so the Gryffindors started making a plan to find wherever Ginny had hidden it away. The twins were mischievous enough to know how to get into the girl's dorms and they even had a way of ensuring they weren't interrupted while they searched.
Heri gave a small smile as they presented the Marauder's Map and explained that this was how they never got caught sneaking to the RoR. Of course now they had Ron, who could smell if someone was coming a mile away! He took the parchment and ran a finger over the names – over the name of his birth father. It was no secret that the man, or boy, and his friends were troublemakers at school – maybe Heri had inherited the trait from him. Prongs…
"What is it?" Daphne asked when she saw the gentle look in his eyes that was almost foreign to her.
"Nothing." He handed the map back, and they all agreed to meet tomorrow night to take a look at this hopefully powerful artefact.
As soon as the twins entered the RoR Heri knew they were holding another Horcrux. Even without using his sight – his own buzzed wonderfully for a moment in recognition of another part of its soul being so near. No wonder Voldemort had made such an error of judgement the night of his downfall! After his fight with Quirrell, his grandmamma had figured out what Lily had done to save her son that night and his mother especially had been impressed, not to mention grateful, for her sacrifice. But holding yet another Horcrux, Heri couldn't help but think maybe she needn't have bothered, that maybe his soul would have simply crumbled apart eventually. He wondered how many there were and thought back to his pizza analogy, because at this rate, Herido was going to own more of the man's soul than he did! And he did own it, because there was no way in hell he'd be giving this back to Lucius Malfoy, who'd already shown he couldn't be trusted with it. He just had to figure out how to convince his friend that it was for the best, because he didn't think he'd be able to tolerate a repeat of their last disagreement.
For the short term though, he'd convinced the others to let him take a closer look at Tom Riddle's diary. He sat in the safety and privacy of his bed, curtains closed, and thumbed through the empty book. At first he'd had no intention of writing a word in it – to do so seemed terribly disrespectful, like he would be defacing or defiling such a wicked and deliciously dark item. However he could feel the compulsion charm drawing him in as soon as he'd opened the cover, and if Voldemort wanted someone to write in it, he was happy to oblige. He leafed back to the first blank page and wrote the first thing that came to mind:
'What on earth were you thinking?'
He was about to write more, when his words disappeared, seemingly absorbed into the aged parchment.
'You'll have to be a little more specific than that.' Though they were only written words, Heri got the distinct impression that the diary was amused. These words also vanished, but were replaced by more before he had chance to respond. 'My name is Tom Riddle. How did you come by my diary?'
For a moment he didn't move. 'my diary'? It couldn't possibly be… Had Voldemort made this Horcrux interactive? It felt real, not like a charm or curse at all. Perhaps the inherent defensive magic of the Addams was protecting him, but he'd never had any inkling that his own Horcrux had sentience; it simply allowed him some vague insight into the condition of its master-soul. So maybe this was something else. Whatever it was it was incredible. Heri was certain he knew a thousand things that Voldemort did not, but he wouldn't even know where to begin making something like this – to give an inanimate object conscious thought, his own conscious thought at that, with all the intricacies and millions of permutations contained within a mind.
Suddenly his hands started to shake over so slightly, and it was probably a good thing that nobody could see the wide maniacal grin that split across his face – it would only frighten them.
'You really were a bloody genius!'
You had to respect greatness when you found it. Heri had known since last year that he was nowhere near ready to face the Dark Lord, and this Diary had reaffirmed his desire and commitment to become stronger: not only was Voldemort's power overwhelming, he had the intellect to put that power to use. Harry admired the man far too much to not give it his all when their wands next met. That would be offensive, like if his brother or sister didn't try their best to kill him when they fought.
For a while the diary was dormant, but eventually that elegant script flowed across the page once more.
'Will you not introduce yourself? Who are you?'
Ah yes, Heri had got caught up in his musing and forgotten the niceties.
'Apologies. My name is Herido Addams, and it's a pleasure to meet you.' He only waited a beat before continuing. 'And some friends of mine stole the Diary from little Ginny.'
'Oh? And why would they do that?'
'Because we wanted to get a look at this supposed key to the chamber of secrets.' And then as an afterthought he added: 'And I suppose because the previous keeper of your diary wants it back.'
The Diary fell silent once again. This was probably the last thing Tom had been expecting – someone who appeared to know so much, and Heri was having great fun with it.
'Herido Addams… Ginny told me all about you. You have a fierce reputation for a second year.'
Heri didn't like this more cautious Voldemort. He was expecting him to rise to the bait, the way the man he'd met last year would have done.
'I'm just a typical American boy.'
… Indeed, then would you care to explain why Ginny Weasley is terrified of you, and of the influence you might be having on her brothers?'
'My family has a reputation.'
'That's all?' Tom pushed.
'It's quite the reputation… Also I may have killed the teacher you were possessing last year…'
'Explain!' That was an order, and Heri knew he'd got him this time.
'Quid pro quo: what are you?'
'Explain, and I'll tell you.' Even the letters had become a little sharper with Tom Riddle's displeasure.
Heri gave in more quickly that he usually would. 'You, the future you that is, was possessing my DADA professor last year and I killed him.' He said simply. 'Though I only found out he was possessed at the end of the year. After all, that Lord Voldemort was hiding in the school all year isn't an obvious leap to make.'
Suddenly, Heri felt a sucking deep down in his core, which brought with it a splitting headache. He was a fool for not noticing it before: the diary was trying to drain his power, though until that moment it had been featherlike and tentative. Even so, he should have felt it right away.
'How is it you know my name?' The words came immediately.
'It's written on your diary.' – More sucking. It felt like he was being hollowed out, even though he knew it was only a miniscule amount of power leaving him. He wished Tom would stop – he was starting to enjoy it. It was certainly a new experience.
'How is it you know my name?' Tom repeated as the sucking went back to its previous, less invasive levels.
'Your turn, Tom.' He wanted to answer the man, but knew he'd get nothing in return if he just went along with everything he said.
'I am a memory, preserved in this diary. Now, answer my question.'
Again, Heri couldn't help but be impressed: a memory. Heri knew memories – he had a pensieve at home of course – and memories didn't interact; they didn't have conscious thoughts and emotions and minds of their own.
While Heri pondered Tom wrote another line, this one distinctly more smug then the previous ones, and his attention was brought back to the matter at hand.
'Or should I conclude that you are simply the offspring of one of my… friends?'
'Oh no, definitely not. You know what they say about assuming, don't you? No, as far as I can tell, none of those offspring have a clue to your real name – I've yet to meet a student that does…'
'Lord Voldemort is my real name!' Heri smirked down. Voldemort really was touchy about the most ridiculous things, but at least he didn't seem to be holding back any more.
'As you say.' Heri wrote in what he hoped was an obviously indulgent way. 'I know all about you because my family are powerful and… well informed. You would hardly believe. In fact we…' Heri tossed down his quill, splattering ink all across his bedspread, honestly shocked at what he was about to share – it was nothing too serious, but it was Addams business and Addams business stayed in the family. That damn compulsion charm was far more powerful than he'd guessed! No wonder he was struggling not to overshare.
'You what?' Tom tried after a few moments. 'You can tell me.'
With renewed resolve, Heri picked up his quill.
'Nice try.' Was all he wrote.
'Very well. Though I admit, I find it hard to believe you. If yours was really such a powerful family, then surely I'd have heard of them.'
'Why would you? Having been raised by muggles and all?'
This time the sucking sensation was violently strong, and Heri realised it must have been enhanced by his own Horcrux somehow, because the pain in his head was now blinding. He quickly slammed the diary shut and tossed it to the end of the bed, deciding that however amusing he normally found Voldemort and his muggle hate, that was quite enough for one night.
With a dark scowl he pushed back a curtain and slid from the bed. He couldn't decide if he felt more irritation at allowing himself to be swept along or admiration for the Diary, but at least he understood why innocent light little Ginny had seemed so unwell of late – she didn't stand a chance.
"Elf!" His voice was cold but low in the darkness of the dormitory. He heard to tell-tale pop of an elf answering his call, but didn't spare the creature a glance as he grabbed the diary for safekeeping and made his way out. "I require fresh bedding." And without waiting for a response he left. He needed to let off a little steam and the forest would have to entertain him tonight.
One of those chapters I had to rewrite and rewrite and am still unsure about lol
Thanks for reading and I so appreciate those that take the time to review.