Cassandra DuPrau sighed and plonked herself listlessly onto the bar stool.

For her, it had been a very trying day. Her boss had to 'gently remind' her that she "needed to learn what due dates were for". The Daily Prophet manager was certainly a stickler for dates, to a point of being obsessed. Then she had gone home and discovered her husband, Sam, had forgotten to pick up their two daughters, Maya and Lucy, at their babysitters', (as he so often did), so she was made to trek out once more.

Cassie fingered her wedding band and smiled at the memory of her wedding twelve years ago. She'd been twenty back then, filled with hope and innocence at the world. At the reception, she'd very typically managed to knock the cake all over her wedding dress. She sighed at the happy memory, forcing herself to come back to the present.

What she needed at the moment was a drink. She'd left Sam with the children, but she had little confidence in him when it came to their 'adventurous' twins.

As the barman got her drink, she vaguely took a look around at the various people situated in the little pub. A little girl and her father ate fish and chips in a booth at the back, a meal the Red Feather Pub & Eatery was famous for, several warlocks sat hunched together at another table, a young woman and her giggly friends at another table, and a hooded gentleman sitting on the bar stool beside her.

It seemed odd to Cassie that the man beside her remained hooded. She didn't bother herself too much over it, but the straight-backed way he sat and the careful slowness of which he ate his meal seemed strangely familiar to her, like an old friend she hadn't seen for a while.

"Here you go, Cassie" smiled the barman John, with whom she was close. He pushed her girly fruit drink towards her and grinning while placing a pretty blue umbrella in the drink's peachy depths.

"Thanks John" she said, trying her best to smile sincerely. The old barman patted her shoulder kindly and walked off to serve a haggle of newcomers.

At the sound of her voice, the hooded man beside her stopped eating, and turned his head slowly in her direction. She couldn't help but look at him as he looked her in the eye.

"Hello, Cassie" said the calm, cool voice of Tom Marvolo Riddle.

Cassie nearly spat out her drink onto the bar counter.

"Tom?!" she gasped, spluttering in shock.

He smiled, but there was something a lot different in his smile these days. His skin looked drawn and pale and had an unhealthy greyish tinge to it. The bags under his eyes were a dark purple, like someone had punched him, and his eyes were much more slanted than they had ever been before. His once black eyes shone strangely maroon in the half-light of the Red Feather's lamps on the walls.

"I see you've been... Ah, busy..." he said, smirking at her once more and glancing down to her ring finger.

"Oh.. Yeah..." Cassie blushed, then closed her eyes and shook her head.

Seeing this, Tom's smirk only widened.

"I've got two little daughters, twins, now" Cassie said in a sudden rush, a hint of pride that she couldn't suppress entering her voice. She dug in her purse a moment before extracting a small photo and placing it in front of him.

Tom picked it up and examined the dark haired girls in the photo. The taller girl had pretty hazel eyes and pin-straight brownish hair, while the second, smaller girl had the shiniest blue eyes and the curliest black hair he'd ever seen.

"They're beautiful", he said approvingly, handing her back the photo and giving her a small smile.

They both elapsed into what could be called a companionable silence, Cassie drinking her drink and Tom eating his meal.

Once he was finished, he set his utensils down on the polished wood surface of the bar then paused, his head bowed as though in deep thought. Then he let his hood fall to his shoulders, and he turned to Cassie with a grin once more on his once-handsome face.

"You always loved me, didn't you?" he said, a twinkle in his eyes that had curiously turned black while she wasn't looking.

Cassie gaped in shock. He was saying something like that now? She turned away from him and her shock turned to anger. She glared at her empty drink.

"Yes, unfortunately..." was all that was coherent in her long string of mumbled words.

He smiled at her.

She wanted to be sick.

Love is such a fickle thing.


THANK YOU TO ALL WHO REVIEWED AND\OR READ HIS FIC. It wouldn't be here without you guys, and I'm completely and insanely happy that it's been appreciated. I just want to say that I love you all, and thanks for sticking with it, even when the plot got silly. ^ ^

Here's a zillion cookies to every reader and reviewer, I adore you all!

P.S. Don't bite any dogs!

Love forever,