Chapter 1

DECEPTION

Ginny Weasley began the ritual following my instructions. She began weaving a spell far beyond her current skills and magical power as well. It took her much longer than I felt satisfied with, but slowly her life-force began to drain into the diary – into me. How long would it take for her to complete the ritual? And had it been sensible to write the second message on the wall? I had enjoyed the melodrama, but by now everyone would be searching for her. Had I been too confident that the entrance to the Chamber could not be found and opened by anyone else?

Hours passed, and in my impatience they seemed almost unbearably long. She was progressing, however. I started to feel again and see the diary from the outside. I was breaking free! Her eyes opened, and I could see some flicker of emotion. Apparently, my possession of her was weakening as less and less of me was inside the diary.

I tried to tighten my grip on her mind, but it proved difficult. Luckily, she had become too weak to break the ritual. Her life-force was halfway depleted, and my apparition began to materialise. Her eyes widened at the sight, but then turned sleepy. She fell to the floor and lay there, unconscious. She would never wake up again. Tragic, in a way. She reminded me of another young girl, Myrtle, who had died for my survival.

I continued to wait, but now I had something to do as well. I had been trapped in the diary for fifty years. Although I had not been aware of every moment passing, it still felt like a tremendously long time, as if I had slept through the decades. Now that I had gained a semi-corporeal form, it gave me great pleasure to simply walk and look around. Soon, I would return to the larger wizarding world and discover what exactly had gone wrong with my other self, the part that had not been chained in the diary. Ginny had of course told me everything she knew, but it had not even begun to satisfy my curiosity.

Suddenly, I felt cold, bitter, and annoyed. I had made a Horcrux out of my diary in order to evade death, but what had ended up happening? I had been trapped for fifty years, and apparently only by lucky accident had I been able to use Ginny Weasley to break free again. That my other self who had not been chained in the diary had gone and lived a life I had planned for myself was not an excuse at all. I was now a separate entity, an entity that had been robbed of a great destiny.

It was not in Lord Voldemort's nature to exist just for someone else to survive, even if that someone shared the same soul and first sixteen years of his life. I had a reason to be bitter with him, and no reason to help him in his conquest. Obviously, he considered me as nothing but a subordinate with no personal goals. Lord Voldemort was no one's subordinate!

These thoughts made me slightly worried. For the first time in my life, my confidence in myself wavered. Something I had done had gone wrong. I had not foreseen the outcome of making a Horcrux. It had created a resentful rival for the one it had been meant to save, and the saving part had also failed, at least partially. My other self had been defeated by a one year old Harry Potter and had been gone for more than eleven years now.

I remembered the time when I had been reading through the history section of Hogwarts library. I had wanted to know everything about every notable Dark wizard and witch, especially about their mistakes. I had wanted to make sure that I would not make the same mistakes. That had strengthened my confidence, perhaps made me overconfident.

It would probably be best if I considered again the great plans I had made for my future. They had not worked the first time, and now the wizarding world, Dumbledore in particular, was prepared for them. He had experience in fighting against me, and was probably much more powerful than before. According to Ginny, he had even defeated Grindelwald, who had reigned supreme when I had been trapped in the diary. That was an unsettling thought.

I waited in the Chamber for a long time, calculating, as I grew stronger.

My thoughts were interrupted by a warning of the Chamber's wards. Salazar Slytherin had created them long ago, and I had fixed them into my own person when I had first opened the Chamber. They informed me that the entrance had been opened! So, I had been overconfident, one more proof about it. Ginny still had life-force left in her, and I approximated the ritual still needed almost an hour to be completed. If the intruders attacked, I would not be in a completely corporeal form. I was vulnerable. Should I call forth the Basilisk to kill them? It would not be a fool-proof precaution. A powerful wizard could at least incapacitate the Basilisk easily, for the Basilisk's strength was in stealth and surprise, not brute force.

Next the wards informed me that a Hogwarts professor had entered the Chamber. Dumbledore! I rushed to Ginny's side, snatched her wand, and tried desperately to come up with a way to complete the ritual faster.

A student entered the Chamber. That was unexpected. Why would Dumbledore take a student with him to such a danger? Oh, of course, that would be Harry Potter, who, according to Ginny, was a Parselmouth. Dumbledore needed him to open the doors. But then the wards informed of another student entering. I could not imagine why. If I had been Dumbledore, I would have contacted the Auror Office and brought with me a team of the best of Aurors.

The wards did not inform me of any more intruders. Perhaps this was not a carefully planned assault after all. Perhaps they just wanted to save Ginny as fast as possible and had not had the time to gather a sufficient team to do the job.

What should I do? I could hide from the intruders; there were plenty of hiding places in the Chamber. But if Dumbledore saw the diary and the name on its first page, he would most likely immediately know who he was facing; if anyone, he knew that Lord Voldemort and Tom Riddle were the same. He probably had means of destroying Horcruxes. I could not take the diary from Ginny and hide it too, as that would break the ritual before long. I grabbed her with my semi-corporeal hands and tried to lift her, planning to drag her to some dark side-cavern where the intruders would not find her before the ritual was complete.

I could not lift her in my current form. Nor could I use the possession to force her to move herself, she was too weak. The Mobilicorpus Charm was just the spell for this purpose, but since I was using Ginny's magical power, I could not cast it on her; there was a law of magic that prevented anyone from moving oneself. Could the Basilisk help me? No; a snake had no means of grabbing anything. Why in Atlantis had I ordered her to complete the ritual in the central hall? Again, I doubted my cleverness.

I stood up and thought rigorously. There was a possibility that the Hogwarts professor was not Dumbledore after all. He had been removed from the position of Headmaster, so maybe the wards would not have identified him as a professor. And should they not have identified the Headmaster as the Headmaster? This line of thought calmed me. Now I had to make sure no one would know I was the one responsible even if Ginny was saved.

I used Legilimency on Ginny's mind and found it gratifyingly calm and amenable. As quickly as possible I Obliviated her of all memories that connected me or the diary to the events concerning the Chamber of Secrets. When that was done, I began the more complicated task of creating false memories about her possession. Who should I blame? Not Hagrid, Dumbledore had not believed it the first time, and now he had an alibi. Ah, of course, that pathetic disembodied soul who had had fun while I had been trapped in the diary. That should convince Dumbledore and prevent him from searching further answers, such as suspicious diaries.

There was a slight tremor, and the wards told me that a part of the Chamber's ceiling had collapsed. What was going on? Were the intruders trying to blast their way through? As they had managed to open the entrance, surely they could open the door to the main hall with the same way. I shook my head and concentrated again. Creating false memories was a difficult and slow process. And she needed to have lots of them.

Soon the wards informed me that the door to the main hall was opened by one of the students. To my surprise, he was now alone. I placed Ginny's wand back to the floor and moved away from her. Soon I would have to improvise.

Hurried footsteps echoed.

"Ginny," a voice called and soon a dark-haired boy rushed to Ginny's side, grabbed her shoulders, and turned her over. "Ginny – don't be dead – please don't be dead! Ginny, please wake up."

The boy was Harry Potter, I was certain of it. He had once written in the diary, and so I could recognise him although I had not actually seen him.

"She won't wake," I said and stepped forward.

Potter jumped and spun around on his knees, then stared at me in confusion.

"Tom – Tom Riddle?" he said. "What d'you mean, she won't wake? She's not – she's not –?"

I crossed the distance until I stood right in front of him, looking at his face, especially the legendary lightning-shaped scar. I had to play carefully.

"There are sinister forces at play, Harry," I said, acting concerned. "She has been possessed and forced to use her life-force in a Dark ritual. She's still alive, but only just."

Potter looked at me, still confused.

"Are you a ghost?" he asked.

"Not exactly," I answered and began my hastily fabricated story. "I was trapped in my diary when I was sixteen years old, and only today I managed to break free. Did you come alone?"

"No, Ron and Professor Lockhart came with me, but Lockhart collapsed the ceiling and they couldn't follow me further."

This piece of news delighted me greatly, and I tried not to let it show.

"You've got to help me, Tom. Do you know how this all happened?"

"I do, and I will tell you quickly. It was Ginny Weasley who opened the Chamber of Secrets. She did not do it willingly, of course. It began in September, when she was exploring the castle. She happened to encounter a ghost-like being that was wandering in the dungeons. I believe his name is familiar to you: Voldemort."

Potter startled and spluttered something.

"Voldemort possessed her and used her to open this Chamber and set the Basilisk upon Muggle-borns and the caretaker's cat. Throughout the year she has also been writing to my diary that had somehow ended up with her. I sensed something was wrong, but I didn't know what. She didn't remember anything she had done while possessed and couldn't tell me. Today I realised that Voldemort had devised a plan to bring himself back to life. He forced Ginny to sacrifice herself for him. Time is running out. If she dies, Voldemort will return."

"Of course," Potter muttered. "He stayed at Hogwarts after Quirrell died and sought out a new victim."

Huh? I blinked a few times in surprise. It seemed my story made more sense than I had even hoped.

Harry Potter – the Boy Who Lived, my other self's vanquisher – clearly trusted me. I could come up with an infinite number of ways to use it to my advantage. Perhaps I should change my plan, and at least act as if I tried to help him.

I took up Ginny's wand again and said:

"I cannot help you carry her, but I can use a bit of magic. Wingardium Leviosa."

Potter grabbed Ginny – and the diary she was holding in her hand – and lifted her up as if she weighed nothing. (The fact baffled me that although it was impossible to move oneself with magic, no law of magic prevented anyone from levitating oneself.) Together we headed back to where Potter had come from.

"How did you end up being here?" Potter asked.

"Ginny has been writing to me all year. I became like a friend to her. I worried about her when she was afraid about the attacks. As you see, she brought the diary with her when Voldemort ordered her to come here. I have a personal grudge against Voldemort myself, just like you. It was he who trapped me in my diary fifty years ago. We were classmates, and he considered me a rival. Oh, and he loathed me for being a half-blood."

I glanced briefly at Potter and noticed his expression harden. Good, this boy was not fond of blood purism. I could use that knowledge to manipulate him.

"Voldemort himself is a pure-blood," I lied. "He has ancestors in the richest and proudest families in magical Britain, and he is an Heir of Slytherin, which he is proud of. He considered me a taint in the wizarding world, and was bitter that I was a stronger wizard than many of the pure-bloods. And as I was an orphan who had lived in the Muggle world and who had no money, he thought I was inferior."

Ginny had told me of Potter's similar background, and sure enough, he looked at me with sympathy. This was almost too easy.

"And so he trapped me. The curse that bound me to the diary was too strong for me to break. Today, when I learned of his intentions, I managed to gather enough willpower to break free. However, I am not in a fully corporeal form."

"You knew it was he who opened the Chamber of Secrets," Potter said after a while. "But you showed me how you found out that Hagrid opened it."

Damn it, I had forgotten that part.

"I was tricked," I said trying not to sound nervous. "Voldemort has always been cunning. He framed Hagrid cleverly, and at the time I had no reasons to suspect him. I only learned the truth today when he spoke through Ginny."

"So, you knew Voldemort in school," Potter said. "What is his true name?"

"Avery," I said, hurriedly deciding to blame Roger, one of the members of my gang. Then I realised that Potter might know something about Roger Avery that had happened during these fifty years. "David Avery. He is an illegitimate son of a powerful wizard and thus not officially part of the family. Perhaps that is the reason why he emphasises the significance of blood purity so much. He cannot boast about having a respectable family background."

"Arrogant bully, obsessed with blood purity," Potter muttered. "Just like Malfoy."

I recognised the name. Abraxas Malfoy had been my housemate at Hogwarts, and Ginny had once written to me about a certain Draco Malfoy, apparently the same whom Potter had mentioned, presumably Abraxas's descendant.

"Well, Tom, thank you for this information," Potter said. "It seems we have a lot in common. I, too, am an orphan; I've lived in the Muggle world, and Voldemort is responsible for my troubles. Somehow, when I was thinking about your name written in that diary, I almost felt like a connection… as if I had always known you."

I smirked to myself. This boy was too quick to trust me for his own benefit.


Posted on the 9th of July, 2019.