A/N: I'm really sorry about the long wait for this chapter. Too many things were happening in my life that I couldn't control. I assure you that I have not and will not abandon this story. Thanks for your continued support. - Luckyfiddler
Chapter 15 – Vials and Planning
The vials of crimson potion shimmered as Remus Lupin looked at them. He picked one up and held it close to the yellow flame that was suspended above his desk. As he moved it back and forth, he noticed how the liquid almost seemed to cling to the sides of the glass. Placing the container back into the box with the others, Lupin picked up his quill and continued his marking.
The next morning dawned crisp and windy. The trees were well into their yearly cycle and had turned brilliant shades of yellows, oranges, and reds. Two students, deep in discussion, seemed oblivious of the changing landscape around them.
"I just don't understand, Hermione." The male figure argued passionately. "Harry seems so out of it and trapped by those bloody snakes!"
"Ron, Harry is trapped." The female, Hermione, replied. "Haven't you seen how Malfoy literally pushes and pulls him around the place?"
"It doesn't mean he has to-"
"Yes, Ron, it does." Hermione interrupted. "Harry has to obey or risk an even more miserable existence for himself in Slytherin. Don't you see that he's being isolated from us and being out in his place, if you will, by the head of their hierarchy? They're trying to teach Harry where he stands by bullying him into submission!"
"But Harry won't follow their rules… he doesn't even follow Hogwarts'!" Ron insisted.
"Let me put it this way, Ron." The female teen sighed. "Harry can resist, but the results aren't pleasant. You saw what they did to him earlier. He hates speaking Parseltounge and they cursed him to do so all day." She sighed again. "Harry's in a bind. He has to obey or be punished."
The room was mostly empty. The black marble floor and charcoal grey walls gave it a sinister feeling. A chair made of highly polished maple stood in front of the single door across the room. It was occupied.
"Tresaglen, your report on Hogsmeade?" A cloaked Xavier Riddle addressed to the young teenaged boy in his presence.
"The town's defences are adequate for a wizarding town, however they are pathetic for being so close to Hogwarts, milord." The youth began. "The town has two centering points. The first the Fountain of Magical Peace in Hogsmeade Square. From what I can gather, the Fountain was erected shortly after the departure of Salazar Slytherin from Hogwarts." Tresaglen paused briefly to catch his breath. "Some myths say that Gryffindor placed it there in triumph of Slytherin's defeat to guard the town forever." He paused again. "However, sir, myths are not my speciality."
Xavier held up a hand, stopping the Ravenclaw from saying any more.
"Parkinson, I heard a rumor that you researched and planned the prank played on Potter this afternoon. Is that correct?" The female Slytherin nodded and Xavier continued. "Good. Get to work on this Fountain myth and give any findings to Malfoy."
"Yes, milord." She bowed and left.
The second centering point was slightly harder to pinpoint, sir. I managed to track it to the Shrieking Shack. I believe that it may be within the building."
Xavier stared at the teen for several seconds, who looked unwaveringly back.
"How sure of this are you, Sean?" The dark prince asked quietly from beneath his shadowy cloak and mask.
Sean Tresaglen was slow and steady in his response.
"Milord, I would never have mentioned the Shrieking Shack if I thought I could ever be more sure."
Xavier Riddle stared into his eyes a moment more before nodding crisply.
The large oval office of Albus Dumbledore stood silent. The headmasters and headmistresses of eras past snoozed soundlessly. The only movement in the room came from the current Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Albus Dumbledore was stroking his beard, deep in thought.
'Harry, Harry, Harry.' The old wizard thought. 'What happened to you?'
This had become a common series of thoughts in the jumble that was the man's mind.
'Maybe you are playing the spy in Slytherin.' Dumbledore hoped to himself. 'Maybe your father's prankster side is coming to the surface and this is nothing more than a big joke to you.' He pondered. 'In any case, I must make sure you are with me.'
He whipped our a quill and began to write.
A tired Xavier Riddle rubbed his eyes as he walked quickly through Hogwarts' halls, his bad banging a steady rhythm against his thigh.
"Harry!" A female voice shouted from behind him.
Slowly, he turned to face Hermione Granger.
"Hermione, please." Xavier 'begged'. "I've got to go. I'm already late as it is."
The Gryffindor witch mentally ran through her timetable.
"Which-" She began.
"I'm not late for a class. I'm late for…" He trailed off suddenly, staring fixedly behind the girl's head.
"Potter, you missed the weekly Slytherin house meeting. Mr. Malfoy informed me that you were aware of the time you were supposed to be present." Severus Snape sneered. "Evidently, you have other things you deem to be more worthy of your time." He paused. "I suggest you are very early to the next one." He turned to face Hermione. "You are out of bounds, Ms. Granger. Leave now."
Hermione left and Xavier turned as if to follow before being stopped in his tracks.
"Mr. Potter, the werewolf seems to think that I am his personal messenger. Inform him otherwise when you see him."
With that, the professor stormed from the corridor, leaving Xavier to trudge to Remus Lupin's office.
"Professor Lupin?" Xavier Riddle questioned. "I was told that you wished to see me for some reason."
"Ah, so Severus did deliver my little message to you." Remus smiled with a twinkle in his eye. "He seemed most put out when I asked him to tell you. Something about not being an owl…" Both males smirked as the elder trailed off.
They continued making small talk while the werewolf waved his wand in complicated patterns. Putting down his wand, the professor gestured to Xavier.
"Your grandfather owled me quite late last night." Lupin began. "He left me some very specific instructions and twenty vials of a crimson potion I can't recognize." He paused and pulled out the box of potions. "Do you have any idea what this could be, Xavier?"
The young dark lord took an offered vial and studied it carefully.
"My grandfather sent this for a reason, Remus." He said as he uncorked and smelled the contents of the glass. "Everything he does is planned and he obviously means for me to give these to my Serpents and have some myself." Xavier strummed his fingers on the wooden box. "If it is for my Serpents, than I can trust them to figure it out."
"Xavier…" The werewolf trailed off.
"Yes, Remus." The Slytherin replied.
"Are you sire you can trust-"
"Remus, I can and will trust my Serpents with my life." Xavier snapped before softening. "I was hoping, Uncle, that I could trust you with theirs."
"Of course, milord." Remus Lupin said, bowing his head.
"Potter, breakfast." Draco Malfoy's voice sounded after what felt like seconds of sleep. "You'd better be there this morning after missing yesterday's meeting."
Reluctantly, Xavier got up and threw a half-hearted glare in the blonde's direction before dressing and heading to the Great Hall.
"Ah, Mr. Potter! How delightful it is to see you up this early." Albus Dumbledore enthuastically stated. "May I have a word with you in my office?" He glanced at the Slytherins. "I'm sure your new friends won't mind."
There was silence as the elderly Headmaster led Xavier Riddle up to his office. Only once they were seated at Dumbledore's desk did the inevitable discussion begin.
"How is Slytherin treating you, my boy?" The old coot started.
"I've been better and I've been worse, sir."
"If you are unhappy there, I could request the Hat to give you another sorting…"
Xavier's eyes, which had been studying the intricate pattern sewn into Dumbledore's puce robes, snapped up.
"I might not be having the time of my life in Slytherin, but I am learning a lot about how their minds work." Xavier trailed off. "I think it could help me defeat Voldemort if I stick it out."
Albus Dumbledore looked pityingly at the young teen in front of him. Much to his surprise, Xavier began to speak again.
"Being in Slytherin has also given me a chance to think about what I didn't have growing up. No magical child should be with guardians that are terrified of them." Xavier looked into the Headmaster's eyes and continued. "With Professor Lupin on Wolfsbane, the Shrieking Shack in Hogsmeade is empty. I want to set up an orphanage and refuge for magical children there. It has a passage linking directly to Hogwarts grounds in case of an attack on it or Hogsmeade." Xavier paused again. "I've given this a lot of thought and I know I have the galleons necessary for this to work." He paused a third time for dramatic effect. "I don't want those children to be treated like I was. I want them to be safe and know they're not freaks, but magical. The only problem is that Hogwarts owns the land."
Albus Dumbledore looked at Xavier with tears of pride shining in his eyes.
"That, my dear boy, is a noble goal and I know that Hogwarts will readily sell the Shrieking Shack for that purpose."
'All is as it should be.' The Headmaster thought triumphantly, popping a lemon drop into his mouth.
End Ch. 15.