Sound of Silence

Chapter II: Another Talk

As soon as their feet touched the floor in the receiving room of Malfoy Manor, Tom moved to whisper in Draco's ear, "I need your wand again."

Draco sent him a confused look, one that did not go unnoticed by his parents, before pulling out his wand and handing it over. The atmosphere of the room immediately tensed as Tom took the wand and tapped himself on the head, removing the Disillusionment Charm. An instant after Tom became visible, Lucius had his wand out and his eyes narrowed at him.

"Who are you?"

Tom smiled politely as he handed the wand back to Draco. "My name is Tom Riddle. I was once the occupant of the diary you so kindly planted at Hogwarts."

Lucius' eyes narrowed further. "I was informed that you and the diary had been destroyed."

Tom nodded once. "The diary, yes, but clearly I was not. I tricked young Harry into believing he destroyed me, and undoubtedly, Dumbledore collaborated with his story to prevent questions."

Lucius eyed him for a moment, then slowly straightened, though his wand did not move a fraction; Tom admired that. He'd always admired displays such as this from purebloods. "Why are you here, Mr Riddle?"

Tom spread his arms in mock surrender. "Forgive me, but I do not wish to discuss this in such a public place, Mr Malfoy. Perhaps we could go somewhere more private?"

"Of course." Lucius's cold eyes flicked over to his wife and son. "Narcissa, I'm sure Draco is tired from his trip."

"Of yes, of course. Come, Draco." Narcissa hastily guided Draco out of the room; Tom merely gave Draco a faint smile when the blond sent him another confused look.

"My study is private enough," Lucius said, turning to follow them. Tom nodded and walked with him out of the room, noting absently that Lucius's grip on his wand had never eased. He had always be fond of purebloods.

Lucius led him up three flights of stairs and down a maze of hallways, finally stopping at a door that looked no different than the rest. Tom didn't wonder how Lucius could tell which door was the right one; even though he was sixteen, he could sense the layering of enchantments on the door. Lucius tapped his wand twice on the door and several locks clicked open. Without glancing as his guest, the man pushed open the door and stepped inside.

Tom knew as soon as he followed and looked around that he had made the right decision in revealing himself to Draco's father. Not only was the entire room covered in object that sang with Dark magic, but in the corner sat several cauldrons of bubbling potions, several only partially finished. Oh yes, Lucius Malfoy was a perfect edition to his plans.

Tom took the chair offered to him and calmly sat back, watching as Lucius locked the door again and sat down behind the desk. Only then did Lucius take his hand from his wand, setting it on the desk before him.

"I would like to know why you are here," Lucius said after a moment.

Tom smiled faintly. "I did say I would tell you, didn't I? I am here for two reasons. The first is that it would be suicide to remain at Hogwarts over the holidays while Dumbledore is aware that I am still alive. The second is that I need your help in a few matters."

Lucius blinked in surprise but recovered quickly. "I see. Why is it you have come to me?"

"I have heard much about you," Tom replied, "from both Miss Weasley and your son. Most importantly, I know you are a Death Eater—"

"From whom did you hear that?" Lucius demanded.

"Miss Wealsey, on numerous occasions. I only had to mention you and she'd begin ranting about it."

"It is lie," Lucius said forcefully. "I was under the Imperius Curse."

"I see." Tom lost his polite smile and moved to stand. "I must admit I am disappointed you would be so quick to renounce your old master. I am wasting your time. Good day."

"Why would you be interested in old Death Eaters?" Lucius asked before Tom could get far.

"Where else to start an army but with my old supporters?" Tom answered.

Lucius paled dramatically. "Your old...?"

"Ah, but perhaps you didn't know? It would be like Dumbledore not to tell you if he thought you were involved." Tom walked back over to the desk and took up Lucius's quill. He calmly wrote TOM MARVALO RIDDLE on a black piece of parchment, then under it, crossing out each letter in his name as he copied it, I AM LORD VOLDEMORT.

Lucius's face turned paper-white. He glanced between Tom and the parchment several times before finally bowing his head submissively. "Forgive me, my lord, I did not know."

"Of course, it is understandable. You had no reason to trust me," Tom said as he sat down again. "I trust you will be more cooperative from now on?"

"Yes, my lord."

"Very good." Tom sat back again and regarded Lucius with a blank expression. "I will be needing the supplies to make Polyjuice potion, as soon as possible. I need to have an adequate supply by September."

"I can easily procure those for you, my lord," Lucius said, looking mildly confused. "May I ask why—"

"No, you may not. I will also need to make a trip to Diagon Alley as soon as possible. I need a wand, as well as a few other things."

"We can go as soon as you wish it."

Tom nodded once. "Also, I trust I will be able to stay here for the summer? If not, I do have another place I can go—"

"That won't be necessary," Lucius interrupted. "You are most welcome here."

"Good. You have my thanks." Tom stood and turned to leave, then just as quickly turned back. "One last thing, Malfoy," he murmured, a very dark look on his face. "You are not to breathe a word of any of this to anyone, especially Draco. If I discover you have, there will be consequences. Nor are you to act anything less than normal in public. Do you understand?"

"My lips are sealed, my lord," Lucius said with a bow of his head.

Tom smirked faintly. "See that they stay that way. Now, if you would, I'd like to talk to Draco, explain a few things to him."

"I'll show you to his room—"

"That won't be necessary," Tom interrupted. "You have house elves, I'm sure? I'd like one of them to show me."

"Yes, of course." Lucius seemed shaken for a moment, but he'd regained his careful composure in an instant. "Zilla!"

A very tiny house elf appeared with a crack next to the desk. She bowed so low the tips of her floppy ears nearly touched the floor. "Yes, Master Lucius?"

"Zilla, this is Tom Riddle," Lucius said, gesturing to Tom. "He is going to be staying with us during the summer. You are to be his personal servant during that time."

"Yes, Master Lucius." Zilla bowed once more to him, then turned and bowed just as deeply to Tom. "Is there anything you is needing, Master Tom?"

"You are to call me by my last name, for starters," Tom said as he moved toward the door. "And I'd like you to show me where Draco's rooms are."

"Yes, Master Riddle. You is following Zilla!" the house elf squeaked, gesturing for Tom to follow her as she walked out of the room.

Tom gave Lucius a mocking bow before walking out after her. The elder Malfoy had not impressed him; in fact, Lucius had fallen quite far in his eyes simply from that one comment about being Imperiused into joining the Death Eaters. He would have to work quite hard from now on to redeem himself, and Tom was sure he knew it.

"Master Draco's rooms is on the second floor," Zilla commented as they walked. "They is over looking the Mistress's garden and the Quidditch practice fields beyond that. They is very nice rooms."

"They sound very nice," Tom said softly. "Are there any rooms near his that are empty?"

"Oh yes, there is a room next to Master Draco's no one is using. Zilla is showing Master Riddle when we is getting there!"

Tom nodded, looking around in interest. He would need to know how to get around this place after all. "Is there a library here?"

The house elf nodded enthusiastically. "Oh yes, Master Riddle, we is having a huge library. Zilla has been getting lost in there many times. Zilla often shuts her ears in the oven before going now because Zilla knows she is having to later."

Tom smiled faintly; this house elf seemed to have taken a liking to him or thought he would be less likely to punish her for talking too much. Either way, it could prove useful. "Where is it?"

"On the first floor and the ground floor. We is having such a big library, it has to be on two floors."

"That sounds wonderful," Tom said, genuinely thrilled. What Dark secrets could the library in the Malfoy manor hold for him, secrets that would never be at Hogwarts?

"You is enjoying reading, Master Riddle?" Zilla asked boldly.

Tom smiled faintly; oh, this would be too easy. "It is one of the few pleasures I enjoy in life."

"Master Draco is enjoying reading too!" Zilla squeaked enthusiastically. "He is often spending hours in the library or in his room reading!"

"Yes, Draco and I share many interests," Tom commented absently. Indeed, Draco had often mentioned the books he was reading while Tom had been trapped in the diary. He looked forward to reading a few of them himself now.

"You and Master Draco are friends?" Zilla asked, obviously surprised.

"We have been friends for several years now," Tom said with a nod.

"Then you is even more welcome here, Master Riddle! Master Draco is Zilla's favorite—" She suddenly paused, looking horrified, and began hitting herself in the head with her tiny fists. Tom almost allowed himself to just stand back and watch, but he was sure he would have more influence over this elf if he intervened. He grabbed her wrists and held her arms still until she stopped struggling.

"Zilla is very sorry," the elf murmured. "Zilla was almost very disrespectful."

"You can tell me. I won't tell anyone," Tom said as her let her go. "I'll be our secret."

Zilla beamed, nodding enthusiastically. "Master Riddle is very kind! Like Master Draco." She leaned forward, lowering her voice. "Master Draco is Zilla's favorite master. He is always very kind to Zilla and lets Zilla have lots of special privileges. Zilla likes to think she is Master Draco's favorite house elf."

Tom was faintly surprised by her boldness; he didn't think she'd say quite so much even with permission. It didn't completely surprise him, however. He'd been there when Draco and Harry had started arguing on the train about Harry's freeing the eccentric elf Dobby. The Malfoys seemed doomed to have odd house elves.

All this must have shown on his face, because Zilla suddenly looked very abashed. "Zilla has spoken too boldly again."

"No, no, I did tell you it was going to be our secret, didn't I?"

Zilla beamed again. "Master Riddle is very, very kind!"

Tom just smiled faintly.

"Here is Master Draco's room!" Zilla suddenly announced, stopping before a set of doors near the end of a hall. "Is Master Riddle wanting to see Master Draco now or is he wanting to see the empty rooms?"

"I'll see Draco first. I'd like a tour of the mansion, and he will probably want to come along," Tom said as he moved forward to knock on the door. A faint, "come in," floated through the door and Tom slowly turned the handle. "Wait here, Zilla."

"Yes, Master Riddle!" Zilla chirped.

Tom stepped into the room and closed the door behind him, looking around. Draco was lying on his stomach on a huge green bed, feet kicking in the air above him, his nose practically buried in a large book. He didn't look up when he heard the door close, but his legs did drop back down to the bed.

"Put it on the desk. I'm not hungry right now," Draco said, gesturing vaguely at a large desk.

"I'm glad you're not. It would make things difficult," Tom commented. Draco started badly and immediately moved so he was facing the older boy.

"Tom! What happened? What did you have to talk to Father about?"

"Various things, my young Malfoy, most of which you would find terribly boring." Tom smiled as he walked over to sit on the edge of the bed. "One thing was whether or not I could stay here during the summer. It was rather rude of me to wait until we arrived to ask, after all, but I could not risk being seen in the station."

"And? What did he say?" Draco asked eagerly.

"That I may stay. Your father is a very kind man."

Tom flinched inwardly when Draco suddenly latched onto him in a tight hug, as that had hardly ever happened to him before, but allowed it. It would help him earn the blond's undying devotion after all.

"This is so great!" Draco exclaimed when he finally let go. "We can go flying every day, and I can show you the gardens and the menagerie, and we can bully mum into taking us to Diagon Alley once a week, and—"

"Draco," Tom said, placing a light hands on his arm to calm him. "That does sound nice, but we both also have lots of work to do during the holiday, or don't you remember?"

Draco sighed and pouted up at him. "Of course I remember. But I think we should have a little fun too. When was the last time you had any fun?"

"Two days ago, in the Chamber," Tom said at once. It was true; he couldn't remember having more fun than when he'd been taunting Harry into killing his friend.

Draco rolled his eyes. "I mean real fun, like flying or playing Quidditch, or...something where you don't really need to think. Something relaxing."

Tom frowned, getting slightly impatient. What was good about doing those sorts of things? They never got anyone anywhere. He had far too much to do to worry about things like that.

"We should at least go flying every week," Draco said stubbornly.

"I have a lot I need to do, Draco," Tom said, his eyes narrowed. Had Draco always been this bold?

"Me too, but I always make sure to have some fun," Draco answered.

Tom eyed him for another moment before he sighed and nodded. This was going nowhere, and he had other things to do than argue some asinine point with Draco. "Very well, we'll do But only occasionally. I do have a lot to do."

Draco beamed but didn't hug him again. "Good. I'll make sure you keep that promise."

"I'm sure you will." Tom stood and gestured for Draco to do the same. "I did come in here to ask if you'd like to give me a tour of the mansion. I'm sure you know where everything is."

"I'd love to!" Draco exclaimed, jumping from the bed. He grabbed one of Tom's hands and tugged him toward the door. "C'mon, we'll have to start now or we'll be late for supper and Father hates it when I'm late."

"I'm not surprised. I am sure your father is a busy man as well."

"Very busy. Oh, hello Zilla," Draco said when he opened the door and saw the house elf standing there. "Did you need something?"

"Zilla is waiting like Master Riddle told her to," Zilla answered, shaking her head.

Draco blinked in surprise and glanced between Tom and the elf. "What do you mean?"

"Your father placed Zilla under my care for as long as I'm here," Tom explained. "Zilla was going to show me the empty room near yours, but I wanted to talk with you first."

"Does Master Riddle still want to see the room?" Zilla asked eagerly.

"Yes, thank you."

Zilla bounced over to the door next to Draco's and pushed it open. "This one, Master Riddle."

Tom stepped inside, looking it over critically. It was very obviously not being used as the only furniture was a simple bed, desk, and wardrobe. He did, however, notice a door in the wall that the room shared with Draco's.

"Is that a real door?" he asked.

Zilla nodded enthusiastically. "Yes, Master Riddle. It connects with Master Draco's room."

Tom looked around for another moment before turning to Zilla. "This will be fine. I'd like to stay here during the summer. I need you to furnish it a bit—curtains, bed sheets, basic things like that. All in black and green. Can you do that?"

"Yes, Master Riddle!" Zilla said enthusiastically. She moved forward into the room and immediately began waving her hands about in random patterns.

"C'mon, Tom, I have to show you the mansion!" Draco said, tugging on Tom's hand to drag him out of the room. Tom hurried to catch up with him, smiling faintly at his enthusiasm.

"I'd like to go to Diagon Alley today," Tom said at breakfast a few days later, his eyes rising to meet Lucius's, "if that works for you, of course."

"That's fine," Lucius said immediately. "We'll go after breakfast."

Tom smiled faintly and nodded. It felt very good to be able to order someone around with such ease.

Draco looked between them curiously. "Can I come too, Father?" he asked finally.

Lucius opened his mouth to speak, just barely adjusting his answer when Tom briefly shook his head. "Not this time, Draco. Perhaps later in the summer, closer to the beginning of school."

Draco pouted, but he wasn't done yet. "Why are you going now, then?"

"I need a few things, as soon as possible," Tom said calmly. "A wand, books, that sort of thing. And Dumbledore won't think I'd be so bold as to appear in public mere days after the end of school. It will be much safer to go now."

"Oh. Okay," Draco said, though he still sounded disappointed.

"Besides which, I need to get you a birthday present," Tom added. "You wouldn't want to ruin the surprise, would you?"

Draco blinked in surprise and shook his head. "Oh! No, of course not!" But Tom could easily see the cogs start moving in his head as he tried to come up with a way to find out what his present was before his birthday.

Tom stood after a few moments and headed for the door. "I shall be waiting by the front door when you are ready, Mr Malfoy."

Tom did not have to wait long; almost before he'd stopped completely, Lucius was walking up behind him, a traveling cloak over his arm. He was glad to see that Lucius had lost the misconception that Tom might think favorably of him and had his gaze respectfully lower than eye level.

"Will we be using a Portkey?" Tom asked, though as he expected, Lucius shook his head.

"It will be easier to Apparate. Are you able to?"

Tom allowed himself a faint smirk. "If I were, do you think I would be asking for your assistance?"

Lucius seemed taken aback for a moment, but the moment was brief and then he was pulling open the front door and gesturing for Tom to follow him out.

"We'll have to walk out beyond the Anti-Apparition wards," Lucius explained as he closed the door behind Tom. Tom merely nodded and began walking.

"We will need to go our separate ways once we get there," Tom said after a few moments. "It will cause awkward questions if you are seen with me."

"Yes, my lord."

"And obviously I will not be able to get into my Gringotts vault, so I'll need some money..."

"Of course, my lord." Lucius pulled a heavy bag out of his cloak and handed it to Tom, who pocketed it without a word. "This is far enough," Lucius said a moment later. "Take my arm."

Tom did so and he nearly gasped as Lucius turned on the spot and he was suddenly unable to breathe, his body being compressed very hard from all directions. His first thought was of treachery until the sensation suddenly ended and he, discreetly, took in great gasps of air, and by looking around, he saw that they'd arrived in the alleyway behind the Leaky Cauldron where the entrance to Diagon Alley was hidden.

Lucius, he noticed, was watching him very closely. "Not a fan of Apparition?"

"I think other methods of travel are preferable ," Tom replied. Lucius smirked faintly as he drew out his wand and tapped the appropriate brick.

"Yes, so do I."

Tom ignored Lucius as soon as the entrance to Diagon Alley had formed and he stepped forward on his own, looking around curiously. In fifty years, the place had not changed much; perhaps it seemed lighter than before, but he had expected that. Most of the shops were the same; the first one he didn't recognize was Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor and he found it rather hard to simply walk on by; ice cream had always been a soft spot for him.

He smiled very faintly when he reached Ollivanders and stepped inside; the shop was just as he remembered it. Even the little tinkling bell that rang when he opened the door made him feel more at home. He had always liked Ollivanders, and the owner had never scared him as he seemed to other people.

"Good morning," said a soft voice. Tom hardly moved except to look to see where it had come from; he was used to Mr Ollivander's habit of sneaking up on people. He'd come to visit the old man several times fifty years ago.

"Good morning, Mr Ollivander," he said with a faint smile at the creepy man.

"Ah, Mr Riddle, how good to see you again," Mr Ollivander said, hardly showing any signs of surprise, though Tom knew his presence must be a shock. "And looking so young, too. One might think you'd built yourself a time machine."

Tom smiled enigmatically. "No, I merely discovered the Fountain of Youth."

"Ah. Of course, only you, Mr Riddle. What can I do for you today?"

Tom shrugged slightly. "I am no longer in possession of my old wand. It pains me to ask, but I require a new one."

"Hmmm, yes, thirteen-and-a-half inches. Yew. A very nice wand, very powerful. And you don't have it anymore?" Mr Ollivander asked, looking rather stern all of a sudden.

"No, I'm afraid the Fountain did not work on it," Tom said, shaking his head.

"Hmmm." Mr Ollivander frowned slightly, looking him over. "You were a particularly difficult customer, I remember, particularly difficult."

"Yes, I spent nearly an hour in here," Tom recalled with a faint smile.

"Hmmm, yes. Well, let's see if I have something that will take to you."

Mr Ollivander began flitting around the shelves, taking down boxes and muttering to himself. Tom sat down on the spindly chair near the door to wait.

He didn't have to wait long before Mr Ollivander hurried back over to him with a pile of boxes in his arms.

"Well then, Mr Riddle, let's try this one first. Ebony and dragon heartstring, eleven-and-a-half inches, springy."

Tom took it with surprise—he'd thought Mr Ollivander would bring back wands similar to his old one—but he'd barely touched it before it was snatched away again.

"No, no—perhaps this one, hazel and pheonix feather, ten inches, very sturdy."

Tom was not at all surprised when it soon seemed like he would have to try every wand in the shop before he could find the right one; it had been like this last time, after all. He found it rather amusing that the more wands he tried, the more excited Mr Ollivander became.

"Still just as fickle, eh, Mr Riddle? But I'm sure I have a good match for you here somewhere—ah, maybe this one, African blackwood and phoenix feather, twelve inches, a very powerful combination."

Tom took the wand and immediately felt the kind of warmth in his fingers he'd felt once before. He gave the wand an experimental wave and a stream of silver and green sparks shot out. Mr Ollivander smiled broadly.

"Oh, very well done, well done indeed! I knew you would have a another match here!"

"I never doubted it, Mr Ollivander," Tom said as he handed the wand back to the man. "You are the best wand maker, after all."

"Well, I must admit, I had my doubts for a moment," Mr Ollivander said as he placed the wand in its box, "but of course, the wand chooses the wizard, and this one obviously likes you!"

"Thank you," Tom said softly as the box was handed to him. "How much is it?"

"Eight Galleons."

Tom paid for his wand and wished Mr Ollivander a good day as he left the shop. Then he turned down the street and headed for Flourish and Blotts, intending to spend the rest of the morning there.

After buying almost a dozen books, he indulged his secret desire and had a psudo-lunch at the ice cream parlor where he quickly became friendly with the owner. Then he walked the length of Diagon Alley and turned left into Knockturn Alley, the only place in the wizarding world other than Hogwarts where he felt comfortable.

No one gave him a second glance as he walked though the dark alley, and he never expected them to. He did, after all, have more right than any of them to be walking this street. However, he certainly watched the others in the alley closely, both seeing whether he could find the children or grandchildren of those he had gone to school with and judging how dark those in the Dark Arts were nowadays. He was highly disappointed by what he saw; he clearly had some work ahead of him if these fools thought shrunken heads were Dark.

After walking the length of the Alley, he turned back and began turning into certain shops that had caught his eye the first time around. For the most part, he didn't buy anything; only one item ended up in his hands, and it was just so he could keep up his story of buying Draco a birthday present. However, he knew that he would need a good deal of money for what he really wanted, so when he entered Borgin and Burkes, the money bag in his pocket was still almost full.

He knew from the few times he had visited this shop before that no one would be behind the counter, and no one was, but that didn't matter. He had no wish to speak to anyone yet. He would much rather look around first to see if what he was looking for might be on display.

However, after only a minute, he heard a door slam closed and turned to see why. Behind the counter stood a man he vaguely recognized as Mr Borgin, staring at him as though he were a ghost. Tom merely smirked and headed over; he couldn't blame Mr Borgin for looking so shocked, but it was still vary amusing.

"Good afternoon, Mr Borgin," Tom said with a slight bow of his head when he reached the counter.

"M-Master Riddle, nice to see you again," Mr Borgin stuttered, giving his own bow a second too late. "You're looking very...well today. How might I be of assistance?"

Tom didn't bother to act charming with this man; undoubtedly, he would do whatever was asked of him regardless. "I'm looking for a few items. I am unsure of where they might be or what magic might be protecting them, but recovering such items is your specialty, isn't it?"

"Yes, sir," Mr Borgin murmured, now looking uneasy rather than stunned. "Do you have a list of the items?"

"I do not, unfortunately," Tom said, with a slight scowl. "Even I do not know what they might be. I have my suspicions, but nothing more than that. However, I have an example so that you know what to look for."

With that he drew his old diary out of his pocket and placed it on the counter. The hole from the basilisk fang stood out prominently, but he could still feel traces of the magic that had bound him to it curling about its pages, He had been most relieved when he had discovered the ruined book in his many explorations of the manor.

"This one is destroyed," Tom explained as Borgin picked up the diary. "But there should be five others, all with the same signature."

"Five...?" Borgin gasped, staring at him in astonishment. "But that's impossible! Life in such a state—"

"Then you know what it is?" Tom asked, pleased when Borgin nodded wordlessly. "Good. I had hoped so, but it was always possible you might not."

"And there are five others?" Borgin asked again.

"There should be. Again, I do not know for certain, but it was always the intention to create that many. I will assume you know how to destroy them?"

"Yes, of course."

Tom smiled faintly. "Then I have a list of places you might consider searching—with maps included, naturally." He placed a stack of parchments on the counter as well. "I also know that you should be looking for anything that once belonged to the founders of Hogwarts, particularly Slytherin."

Borgin licked his lips nervously. "This...may take some time. Years, perhaps."

"You are worried about your business," Tom stated and Borgin nodded hesitantly. "Have you an assistant?" Borgin shook his head. "Hire one, but tell him nothing. I will pay his wages and ten thousand Galleons for each item you collect and destroy. Is that acceptable?

Borgin gaped at him for a moment before giving him a deep bow. "I shall do as you've requested, sir. You won't be disappointed."

"I should hope not. I'll be sending someone to check up on you occasionally, but I'm sure you realize how important this is."

"Yes, of course, sir."

"And not a word to anyone, Borgin," Tom said as he turned to leave.

"Naturally, naturally," Borgin murmured, bowing again.

Tom stepped out of the shop with a cruel smirk on his face, feeling very pleased. It may have taken his future self decades to gain control of the wizarding world, but he would not make the same mistakes. Soon, he would be the only one left, and he could begin his second conquest in earnest.

Draco sighed as he walked into the library and saw Tom sitting in a large chair by the window, a heavy tome balanced in his lap. Tom seemed so content that Draco almost turned back, but he knew the older boy needed a distraction. The only thing it seemed like Tom had been doing for the past couple weeks was reading.

Draco stalked over to the older boy and shut the book in his lap before he could react. Tom was still for a moment, then turned a mild gaze up on him.

"Did you need something, Draco?"

"Yes," Draco said, crossing his arms. "I want you to come flying with me."

"Oh, I see. Well, if that's all..." Tom moved to open the book again, but Draco placed his hand on the cover, faintly annoyed. He hadn't thought Tom would be very interested in the idea, but he hadn't expected to be completely disregarded either.

"All you've done all summer is read," Draco complained. "And I like to read too, but everyone should relax once in a while."

"This is relaxing," Tom replied, gesturing vaguely at his book.

Draco snorted softly. "It is not. You've been treating every book like a textbook. Come on, I've finished all my homework, and I want to go flying--"

"Go, then--"

"With you," Draco finished, giving Tom a petulant look. Tom stared back at him, eyes narrowed, just as unwilling to back down.

"I don't have time," Tom said after a moment.

"Just come this once," Draco pleaded. "If you don't like it, I won't ask again."

Tom stared at him for another minute before he sighed and glanced longingly at the book in his lap. "All right, I'll come flying with you. But just this once. I have a lot of reading to get through this summer."

Draco beamed as Tom placed the book on nearby table as slowly rose to his feet. "You'll feel differently after this."

"I'm not much of a flyer," Tom said. "It was the one part of the wizarding world I could never quite get."

"I'll help you," Draco said, heading for the door. "I'm a great flyer."

"I'm sure you are," Tom muttered as he followed. Draco just smirked back at him.

Two Nimbus Two Thousand and Ones waited near the back door, right where Draco had instructed the house-elf to put them. Draco grinned when he saw them, but Tom turned pale and stopped in the doorway.

"You actually meant flying-flying..."

"Of course I did; what other kind of flying is there?" Draco asked, amused, as he strode over to the brooms.

"Draco, I think you would enjoy it much more if you went by yourself," Tom said, not moving an inch. Draco frowned over at him; why was he being so difficult?

"I don't think so..."

"You'll be spending the whole time correcting me," Tom argued, his eyes fixed on the two brooms.

"I don't care," Draco answered, though it sounded distracted. He was busy studying Tom's expression. He followed Tom's line of sight to the brooms, then back again, and his eyes widened slightly. "Tom, are you afraid of flying?"

"No!" Tom bit out, a little too harshly.

"I think you are," Draco countered, smug that he'd figured it out.

"I am not afraid of flying," Tom growled, his dark eyes flashing red.

"Afraid of heights, then," Draco said, not deterred in the slightest. "There must be some reason you're so adamant about not flying."

"I'm not afraid of heights either!" Tom exclaimed.

"Then what are you afraid of--"


"Prove it," Draco said simply, gesturing at the broom floating at his side. Tom took a couple steps forward before stopping again, staring at the broom with an indiscernible expression on his face.

"I don't see the point of this," he said after a long moment. "I don't have to prove anything to you."

"Because you don't want me to see that you really are afraid," Draco pointed out.

"I'm not afraid!"

"Then come flying with me," Draco said with a smirk.

Tom scowled and grabbed one of the brooms before stalking off toward the Quidditch field. Draco smiled in satisfaction as he mounted his own broom and followed him. Draco stopped to hover next to him when he paused, staring at his broom again.

"If you really don't want to, I'll go on my own," Draco said, feeling a little bad for teasing his friend.

Tom scowled up at him, swung his leg over his broom, and kicked off. He hovered uncertainly for a moment, then shot off toward the broom shed on the edge of the field. Draco grinned as he watched Tom duck inside and come back out with a Quaffle in his hands.

"If you want to fly so badly, we might as well play a bit too," Tom said as he came back. "Get everything done with at once."

"How'd you know I was going to ask to play with you?" Draco asked.

"You're very easy to read," Tom answered simply, throwing the Quaffle at him.

"Not as easy as you," Draco retorted, throwing it back. Tom just smiled evilly and shot off past him down the pitch.

Draco was actually extremely surprised by how good Tom was. The older boy reminded him of Potter in a way; they moved with the same natural grace rather than his own trained reflexes. A couple times as they passed each other in the air, he noticed that Tom's knuckles were white as he gripped the handle of his broom, but other than the initial reaction, Tom showed no signs of fear or apprehension. Draco almost envied him.

Far too soon, however, Tom sank to the ground and dismounted his broom, dropping it. Draco landed next to him and frowned when he noticed the other boy's pale complexion.

"Are you alright?" he asked in concern.

"I'm fine," Tom said shortly, "but I can't waste any more time on this. I have too many other things to do."

Draco smiled faintly; Tom was a horrible liar. "Okay. Thank you for flying with me, even though you didn't want to."

Tom gave him a weak smile. "I had a good time...thank you for dragging me out here."