Author's Notes: I am somewhat... testing this, if you will. I am curious of the reactions to this on this site. On HPFF, this story has thirty chapters, five hundred and twelve reviews, and over fifteen thousand reads.I don't expect half as much here. But it also helps, because I need to re-read what I've written thus far to help me write the new chapters. If this merits reviews, then I'll post the next chapter. If not... we wait. Although, the early chapters make me grimace.
Disclaimer: I own Danielle, little more.
"I was no one special. Not really. I walked from class to class each day with my head down, clutching my precious books to my chest: the only friends I had in that stone fortress they called a school. I was small—still am—and plain; nothing exciting about my limp blonde hair or dull gray eyes. I had given up on my appearance years before, realizing that it wasn't worth spending my time in vain attempting to make myself presentable—or, what the world saw as presentable.
"I attended the Augurey Academy of Spellcraft for my first year of schooling as a witch, when I was still young and unaware of my faults—or fate. But before my second year began, my mother and father swept me away to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, seeing Augurey as an unfit place to learn.
"There, I was shunned by most, even in my own House: Ravenclaw. That was probably why I became such a bookworm, dedicated only to my studies and nothing else. I had never resented my lack of popularity among the students, knowing that at least the teachers appreciated my presence there.
"I felt no resentment, at least... until my fourth year, when he suddenly appeared in my life."
Albus interrupts my story by placing a sympathetic, gnarled hand on my shoulder. "You must know, Ms. Riddle, how grateful we are for you to speak with us today."
I nod eager to finally reveal the secrets I have kept hidden for so many years.
"And I must assure you that you needn't continue if you don't feel it appropriate, though it will be most helpful for the Order if you do." He looks at me intently, his eyes grown weary with time behind his half moon glasses.
"I know, Albus, but Tom is not the man he used to be," I say, sighing, and launch into my tale.
"Riddle, Parmellie, if I may have a word after class?" Professor Dumbledore caught my attention as I was about to walk out of the door. I sighed, shifting the heavy stack of books I have almost spilling from my arms.
"Yes Professor?" I inquired quietly, the boy he had called standing beside me. I glanced at him out of the corner of my eye, blushing and looking down at my feet as I noticed how good-looking he was.
Dumbledore smiled, his eyes shining. "I would like to congratulate the both of you for receiving top marks on the first exam of the year, well done, you two."
The boy—Riddle—nodded. "Thank you, sir."
I mumbled a quiet thanks, still concentrating on the floor. Dumbledore looked at us knowingly, his gaze lingering on Riddle the longest ere he sent us off to our next class. This congratulatory meeting puzzled me, though I had begun to get used to them by then. But Riddle seemed perplexed somehow. I know that he was not one of Dumbledore's favored students; in fact, he seemed to hold some sort of dislike or mistrust toward him. At the time, I couldn't understand why. Riddle was brilliant in every class he took, as well as popular with almost the entire student and teacher population at Hogwarts.
I hugged the books closer, remembering that I still had Herbology to sit through before the end of the day. I hastened my steps, not wanting to be late.
Suddenly I heard, "You're Danielle, are you not?"
Startled, I dropped my books, scattering them in the hallway. I expected Riddle to taunt me about it, as anyone else would have, but instead he bent down to the floor, helping me gather them back up.
"Sorry," he apologized, placing the last one in my hands. I thanked him awkwardly, numbed by his kindness.
"It was nothing," he replied, as if it was the normal thing to do. But it had never occurred to me before that perhaps it was.
He extended his hand, and I set down my books to shake it. "I am Tom... Tom Riddle."
I smiled sadly. "Yes. I know your name. And you know mine already." I inwardly groaned at how stupid I must have sounded talking to him. I didn't know how to act around people my age, much less the male ones.
He laughed, amused, which also came as a surprise. He wasn't laughing at me, nor was he laughing with me. It felt, in a way, refreshing to hear his warm chuckles as a bit of color rose to my cheeks.
"I will see you around, sometime, Danielle," he called as he walked down the corridor in the opposite direction as me. Still blushing, I scuttled off to the greenhouse.
Tom was right. I saw him many times over the following few weeks; accidentally bumping into him in the halls or confronting him during classes. He always had a smile ready for me whenever we would happen across each other.
Each time I saw him, my heart would flutter mercilessly against my ribcage and I would feel faint, my head swimming in emotion. For I had grown fond of Tom Riddle, though I hid my feelings well.
"Danielle," he muttered, frowning over a piece of parchment. "Have you found why you can only harvest a wereroot at night?"
We were in the library, trying to finish the essay that had been assigned in Potions. The dusty, aged smell of the books helped me to concentrate.
"Mmhm. It's on page three hundred and thirty-two," I told him absently, not even prying my eyes from the page I was reading. From the way he silently flipped through the book, I could tell that he wasn't expecting me to divulge the answer willingly just yet. That was the way things were between us. He understood me and I understood him. Or, at least, I thought I did.
"Thank you." Satisfied, he dipped the end of his quill in the inkwell and began to write upon the parchment. I loved the way he wrote things. Each letter had such a graceful, spidery curve to it, especially when he spelled out my name.
"I wish you would teach me to write like that," I complained wistfully, glancing at his essay, which was already half a foot longer than mine.
If he was surprised by my hidden compliment, he didn't show it. "I suppose I could teach you... if you really want to learn."
"Would you really?" I exclaimed, excitedly setting my book down on the table.
He laughed. "Of course. Only, not now. I want to finish this first. I have still got nine inches more to do, and you need even more than that!"
I sighed. "Oh, alright."
Tom grinned. "Tomorrow is Saturday. We will have as long as we need."
I nodded happily. Saturday could not have come fast enough.