A/N: Uhm... Hi? I know I took forever with this update, but I thought long and hard about this chapter, and I couldn't quite come up with something that I actually liked and was able to work on. I turned many ideas into maybe one page chapters, but when this idea came up, I thought about it and decided to go with it. Surprisingly, it took me only a day to write this, and I know you all are impatient, so I will deliever it to you the day that I write it. Which, by the way, is not what I'm used to anymore. Usually, I go over it for a few days and fix any mistakes that I catch or plot points I want to change. Sorry if there are any mistakes. And as always, enjoy!
Chapter Ten: Puzzles
So, there I was, standing with a gun barrel pointed to my face, and all I could think about was that this Riddle guy really needed to start polishing his guns more. Now, of course I was absolutely terrified, but my mind sometimes tends to slip off when heading in the general direction of hysteria if I let myself dwell on the feeling for too long. I was doing what I would normally be doing facing a situation where I was in immediate danger and there was no way out. I was standing there and berating Voldemort's lack of cleaning skills.
I gave a hurried glance towards James, who-completely in contrast to me I might say-was looking at the gun as if it had started to morph into a rabid mermaid that was trying to entice him.
…Or something. Honestly, that was just my hysteria-avoiding mind not acknowledging the fact that James was too scared to do anything. So I chose to ignore that look and turn my stare back to the rather dirty gun. And then, as my head tilted to the side a centimeter, I thought of how dirty his hand had to be from holding that gun.
"The great Lily Evans without a word to say to me before she dies?"
My gaze shifted towards the steely eyes. "Not…" My tone seemed to be more curious than frightened, "…really."
I cleared my throat after an awkward moment. This situation was supposed to be a fear inducing, adrenaline rushing experience that I would never forget. But right now, I felt strangely solid. As if time had halted and had stopped to commend Lily Evans on a life she would never have. Since when have I been easy to give up? I stared at the dirty gun again. Since Voldemort had suddenly started to pull a weapon to my face and ask me for my last words.
The feeling of emptiness just seeped out of my core into my whole body, I suppose, because one minute I was contemplating the gun and the next I was staring at Death. This really was the end. It wasn't going to change, and it wasn't going to go away. Adam wouldn't save me, and James wouldn't save me. Elise would be left alone-if she was even alive, and I would be standing here-just like I am now-staring at nothing.
I wouldn't make any accomplishments. I wouldn't save anyone's life. I wouldn't be the person I was meant to be. It was the night on the Black Ship all over again. My gaze wafted towards James, and I could see the helplessness in his expression. I wouldn't get to know James more fully. Sure, we had talked, but it hadn't been like the talks Adam and I used to have aboard the ship, laughing at random things that came to our minds. One was carrots, but I digress.
Mentally, I tried to get myself to at least fight this. To at least have other people whisper that Lily Evans went out with a bang (more appropriately, a gun bang), but I couldn't get my mind to wrap around a plausible thought before it strayed into the past again. Stayed into what could have been, should have been, would have been.
If I had only gotten to Adam a moment sooner, we would have been laughing and joking.
If I had only not taken James as a prisoner, Elise could have been right here next to me.
If I had given into James last night, I would have been tied to a pole and possibly ravished, and then deserted.
It was like dropping a pebble into a still pond and watching the ripples contort and continue on, with me having nothing to stop their change in motion.
On the other deep end of the antagonist-protagonist spectrum, Voldemort wasn't saying anything, either. Maybe he was just soaking up his moment of glory? Getting a million pounds was something to gloat over, wasn't it?
I suppose…when it came down to it, that was what my life was priced at.
A gurgled choke brought me to saunter my gaze to Fredrick, whose body was curled up in a fetal position, clutching at the wound buried in his left shoulder. Apparently, Voldemort's aim was a little off. From the corner of my eye, I saw James shift nervously while Riddle followed my gaze to the bloody body. Now James, now… But he didn't move, he only fidgeted again and ran a hand through his hair. "You're still alive?" The man holding the gun, all the power, raised a delicate eyebrow. "I must practice my aim more when I get the time." As I was fixated on Fredrick hurling thick, condensed globs of blood, he turned back towards me with a slight sigh. "Wouldn't you agree, Ms. Evans?"
It wasn't surprising when I found that I didn't speak, just stared at Fredrick while he regurgitated himself from the inside out.
"And you, Mr. Potter?" Without taking the gun away from pointing at my face, Voldemort addressed James in a polite, almost casual manner. "Do you believe that I have a certain lack of ability?"
I was sure, without even looking at James, that his eyes were caught in a large round position, betraying his fear to Riddle. It wasn't surprising, either, when James answered him with silence. Fredrick, now completely drained, gurgled more blood from the corners of his mouth, and went back to the previous fetal position. I wasn't happy about Fredrick currently dying, but neither was I jumping to his rescue.
Softly sighing through my nose, I shifted again and brought myself to look upon the startled face of James. He wasn't looking at me, but he was rather alertly staring at Riddle. So, the man did have his faults.
Slowly, I realized this was being awfully drawn out. Shouldn't he have killed us by now? Shot us to death with his dirty gun and ran for the nearest exit with his one million pounds? It made my eyebrows furrow and my jaw start working. "So," I started, not exactly sure how to say this (I felt more awkward than afraid), "if you are going to kill us," could I say this any slower? "then why haven't you done so?" Now, I didn't mean to attract any more attention to my rapidly shortening lifespan, but at least it was an honest question.
And then, I saw it. Voldemort hesitated. "Indeed, Ms. Evans, indeed."
Not quite the answer that I was expecting, or for that matter looking for. "Indeed…" I repeated slowly.
This seemed to make James come back down to the planet Earth with a crash and stumble. "You're…you're not killing us." He looked positively befuddled. "…Why?"
With both of our gazes warped onto him, I guess Voldemort started to become anxious. His hand that was currently holding the gun tightened its grip. "Mr. Potter, this is not a time to be talking."
As if in water, my head slowly tilted a second time. What could he be waiting for? It wasn't as if he needed us to move any crates; all of them had been moved by his crew. He didn't need us for handling the ship; again-he had his crew to take care of that. He was stalling…and I couldn't figure out why. A piece of the puzzle was missing. A big, large, unmistakably important piece was hidden, and it was hidden just over the filthy gun that he was holding. "Not the time for talking…" I trailed, repeating his words once more. Riddle gave me a look that almost spelled out the word fear as I took a steady step towards him. I could hear James take in a large amount of air at my boldness, and I didn't blame him. I didn't know what I was doing; much less taking a step towards the object that could end my life at any moment. "What are you hiding?" I whispered more to myself than to anyone else in the room.
James eyes practically bulged and expanded at the sudden contact of air in his lungs.
"Tom Riddle…" I slowly said. "That is your name, correct? You're full name?"
His steely eyes lost their composure for a brief second. "My name has nothing to do with your lives."
I closed my eyes for a second; picking up the pieces that were my mind and sorting them out before I looked back at him. "Your name is the missing piece."
James looked just about as confused as Voldemort did. "Lily, what are you rambling about?" But I put a hand to stop him from asking anymore questions. I didn't need a distraction right now, and right now James was a huge distraction. "You're not making sense. Your thinking is illogical, Evans. You need to snap out of it and-"
"James." I quietly interrupted him, shifting towards him and giving him a cool stare. "Quiet."
His jaw muscles clenched and his eyes narrowed, but nonetheless he emitted nothing but silence.
"Good." I consented.
Tom Riddle… Tom Riddle… I turned back towards Voldemort. What are you hiding, dear Tom? Your name…your full name is not really Tom Riddle, is it? I knew that name from somewhere…I knew. But it wasn't the full name; it was only part of the map that leads me to the missing piece of the puzzle. Heels snapped uneasily as I shifted my weight from one foot to the other. My mind was reeling through the history lessons that had been branded into the Princess Lily. I prayed to the heavens as I did my search of mind that somehow, these lessons would pay off and we would figure it out. I bit my lip in total concentration and shifted the weight to the other heel again. Saint Patrick, Blarney Stone-how the castle around it burnt down in c. 1820, and then, Tom Riddle Fleming… The story came back to me full force, and I wanted to cry and let out a shout of joy at the same time.
"Tom Riddle Fleming…" I whispered, in shock and looking at the man behind the gun.
He seemed to choke and tighten his tenacious grip on the gun. "That's-that's not my name!" He shouted, and the sentence echoed in the large room until fading out into the distance. The only noise was coming from Fredrick's strangled, harsh gasps and coughs of blood.
"Tom Riddle Fleming?" James repeated, flabbergasted. "What does that name have to do with anything?"
My mind was starting to clear, and I looked upon Tom with a new conviction. "Tom Riddle Fleming, Elizabeth Fleming, was married to my father. James…" I turned to look at him fully, realizing that Voldemort would do nothing in his current state. "…you have to realize that my father was a good man. He-he was!" At my earnest expression, all James could do was nod and look even more confused. "He married Elizabeth, and they had a perfect marriage for five years. My father was her senior by only two years, and everyone thought that they would last forever. During the course of their third year of marriage together, Elizabeth gave birth to a baby." I shifted and looked straight into Voldemort's eyes. "A baby boy."
"Stop this at once!" He screamed at me, but his hand was violently shaking to the point that whether or not he wanted to, Riddle wouldn't be able to get a straight one shot to kill me.
"And…and they named their new baby boy Tom. Now, as it is with most marriages, Elizabeth took her husband's surname, so at first the baby's name was Tom Riddle Evans. They raised the boy together for a contented year… but when the yearly banquet of the high courts came about…" I paused and retracted to fill James in better. "You see, James, my father was prince at the time. My grandfather was a sickly man anyways," I almost stopped with my explanation, the picture of my grandfather lying on his deathbed so perfect, "so he was expected to die soon." I whispered and turned my full attention back to the trembling hand and gun. "So… obviously, my father and Elizabeth were elated to know they already had an heir to the throne. But, as I previously said, the yearly banquets came about, and that's where my father met…" Taking a deep breath, I could feel my own hands start to shake. "It's where my father met my mother. He told me he called on her every dance he could, and about six months after they had been seeing each other secretly, they fell in love. My father started to drift away from the family that he already had…and gravitated towards my mother. He would always tell me how he thought she was the beautiful woman alive, and that if anything happened to her, he wouldn't know what to do." My eyes clouded over with memories. "Eventually, my grandfather, being Protestant, agreed with my father's plea to divorce Elizabeth." I took another break and scrutinized Riddle's expression: horror of his past. "Naturally, Elizabeth was hurt and shocked, but after the marriage of my parents, something inside her snapped. She became resentful of my father, and when they were crowned king and queen it became worse. Elizabeth took back her original surname Fleming, and changed the boy's also." Sadness enveloped my voice for the pair. "Her baby boy grew up with a feeling of hatred towards us before he could even meet us. And the rest, as the people that once knew her say, is gone. Elizabeth Fleming left Ireland one day, telling no one of her intent. She just left. And never came back…" I choked up and looked at Riddle. "Baby Tom grew up as a bastard in everyone's eyes."
The gun was teetering on the verge of being thrown out of Riddle's hand if he wouldn't stop shaking so harshly. "I hate you…" He clenched his teeth. "I hate you so much."
The puzzle piece slid into place with a click.
It wasn't my puzzle anymore. It was Tom's.
"You planned this out from the beginning…" I whispered, stepping closer to the trembling gun. In movements where Tom jerked the gun more forcefully than others, the end of the barrel would just barely clip my clothes. "You wanted to kill my whole entire family, didn't you?" I softly said, feeling pity go out for him.
"You're fucking cousin got to them before I did." He sneered, and I could tell he was losing his calm composure fast.
I took another step. The quivering barrel was now touching my breastbone. "You were so angry that you just wanted to kill Fredrick right then, didn't you? And when he hired you two," I flicked my gaze to James quickly, "you figured that you could at least get paid for killing me off. Why not make two million and kill James, too?" In the short distance, I could see James's mouth slightly hang open and staring at me. "You've wanted this for years." I put a steady hand on the gun, stopping its movements. "So why not do it? Why do you hesitate? You're considered a bastard by the court, making you illegible for the throne. You're a cover-up the government just wants to forget, so what do you have to lose?"
Maybe if Fredrick would have kept a steady attention in our Irish history class, he would have been in my position. Like I have previously said, maybe is a strong word to use in the past tense of would have, should have, and could have's.
But even before Riddle could think about shooting me, James had shifted the tides and snapped the gun out of Tom's hands. And in slow motion, he came to point the gun right at Riddle's own breastbone. But the latter was just staring at me with a look that I couldn't-wouldn't-decipher. From the sidelines, I saw Tom's puzzle jerk and alter. "Look, you bloody psychopath, you're going to give me my fucking money, and Lily and I are going to leave. Where the hell did you hide-"
"No James." I softly whispered. "I'm not leaving Fredrick or Tom alone. I'm not leaving with you." Couldn't he see? I was guilty of all my father did, of all he had done to Tom and Elizabeth. I was guilty of Tom's pain. I was the offspring of his pain.
He stumbled with his words, "Yes…you are, Lily. You are leaving with me, and we are going to leave before this whole fucking mess gets blown up even more. And right now, I don't need that. What I need it my damn money and my bloody ship."
"I'm not leaving with you." I repeated in a calm, soft voice. "James, I deserve death just as much as Tom does."
"What?" He screamed out, pointing an exasperated finger towards Riddle. "You are no where close to that man when it comes to being guilty. Sure, your father was a bit on the cheating side-"
"James." I interjected calmly. "If you're going to shoot Tom, then you're going to have to shoot me."
He laughed hysterically. "What in the bloody hell are you saying Lily!"
"I deserve his fate. I was the one that drove his hate to what it is now. Don't you see?" I said softly, desperately pleading with him. "I was to become queen when I had married, when Tom would have already been king. I'm guilty."
The gun lowered a bit, then straightened back to a steady aim for Riddle's heart. "Looking what you've fucking done to her."
Ironically, Tom chose to be silent just as we had minutes before. Except then, we were the ones with Death running in our minds and the gun pointed at us. Just as I was about to interfere and take the gun away from James, the man with all the power, with the black revolver, shot straight into the heart of the human opposite him.
Blood splattered on the side of my face that had been facing Riddle, leaving tiny red dots to anoint my arm. Slowly, my eyes widened at James's shaking figure, before quickly turning to look at Tom on his knees, his hands clutching the openly bleeding wound. A pond of crimson soon flowed with Fredrick's blood, swirling and mixing like oil and water. Touching, but never truly combining. Voldemort look into my eyes with pure, unmasked hatred as my throat tightened. "I hate you." He spat, heaving for air. "I hate you."
I dropped to my knees in the swirling combination of Fredrick and Tom's blood, the thick liquid soon soaking my clothes. "I'm sorry." I whispered. "I'm so, so sorry." With one last look of hatred towards me, his body dropped lifelessly onto the ground, still bleeding but unmoving. His head was turned towards me, his cold eyes still open, and I knew that the look of abhorrence would be fixed upon his face forever.
A/N: Alright, so what did you think? Did you like it? Or do you think I should change it? Have I gotten better, or worse? And no this will not be the last chapter. Probably two (possibly three, but I'm not sure yet) more to tie up some loose ends that I have just dangling there.
A big HUGE thank you to all of you who reviewed. I feel so honored to have people actually like this drabble!