Aurelia shivered, her back cold against the icy stone bricks of her cell in Azkaban. Through the heavy mist, she could make out the faint shape of the Dementors; she couldn't conjure a full Patronus without her wand, but sometimes she could manage a faint shield with her palm and a tremendously happy memory.
Usually she thought of her daughter. Vesper would be thirteen by now, and in her third year at Hogwarts, God willing. Of course, most of the memories were from when she was tiny; Aurelia hadn't seen her daughter since she was exactly eight years old. The Aurors had found them on Vesper's eighth birthday, Aurelia's last few Knuts spent on a cupcake for her daughter's special day, huddled together in the dying firelight of a dilapidated old shack on the outskirts of Hogsmeade. She'd never been so heartbroken in her life. She could still visualize it perfectly—Vesper screaming, crying, clutching her shabby old rag doll in one hand and the cupcake in the other; it landed frosting-side down, the best part, the part she'd been saving for last. Aurelia wished she could have given her a real cake, balloons, a shower of presents; instead, she could only afford one cupcake, and the Aurors took even that away.
But there were happy memories, too: the sticky-fingered dandelion bouquets, bedtime stories about the magical Hogwarts castle, midnight snacks of cornbread and pumpkin juice. And the one playing in her memory to keep the Dementors at bay: the Christmas that she gave Vesper a goldfish in a bowl, and the look of awe on the little girl's face as she fed it and watched it swim around.
A glowing horse galloped down the corridor, and Aurelia's thoughts were interrupted; a tall woman with a pinched face marched after the Patronus, followed by a man with a familiar face.
Immediately, Aurelia got to her feet, unable to believe her eyes as the woman pulled a ring of keys from her belt and unlocked the iron door. "You're done," she said brusquely. "Your brother's here to pick you up."
Tom emerged from the shadows. "It's good to see you, sister."
They sat together in silence at the Black Cat Pub, Tom with a glass of firewhisky, Aurelia nursing a cup of jasmine tea.
"How did you get me out?"
"I've always been able to charm the people I needed."
He shrugged. "Never mind that."
A pause. "We have a daughter."
"I said, we have a daughter. I named her Vesper."
"Where is she?"
"I've been in Azkaban five years, Tom. I don't have a clue."
His face clouded. "They never told you who's taking care of her?"
"They probably didn't want a murderess raising a child after a stint in Azkaban." Her tone was frosty. "Her middle name is Violet," she added, after a pause.
"Whose last name does she have?"
She sipped at her tea. "Neither of ours. I had to go into hiding when I left Hogwarts. I took a new last name."
With a sigh, Tom tipped his glass back and drained the last of the liquor inside. "Come on."
"Where are we going?"
Aurelia laid back, enjoying the luxury of a real pillow. "It's been too long."
"Hopefully I didn't put another baby in your stomach." He took a drag off his cigarette.
She paused. "I've been thinking. I think I'm going to go back and find Vesper."
He turned on her. "Are you out of your mind? I risk going to fucking Azkaban Prison to break you out, and you're going to throw your second chance at life away by going after her?"
"There's nothing left for me but her. And you never told me why the hell you broke me out in the first place. I thought I'd spent my usefulness."
Silence ensued; Tom stared into the darkness while Aurelia played with the fringe of the duvet, sure she'd gone too far this time. "Do you still have that mouth organ?"
She bent over and pulled it out of her robe pocket, handed it to him.
"A piece of my soul really is in here," he said quietly, holding up his ring. It glinted in the flickering candlelight.
"I'm making myself immortal," he confessed. "Horcruxes. Dark magic. When I kill someone, it splits my soul, and then I can put the pieces into objects." He gave the mouth organ back to her. "Like this."
She was repulsed. "Tom Riddle, how can you—"
"My name is Voldemort now," he interrupted. "Aurelia, you can do it too. Seven murders; seven objects. Then you can put the pieces of your soul away and we can live together… forever."
He lifted her arm. "You're still mine, you know." And he licked the Dark Mark, still bright black on her skin.
"I saw her today, Tom."
"She's beautiful. She remembers me. They gave her to my aunt Maria—I get to take her back."
"I am not," Tom said flatly, "going to adopt our little bastard child and stop doing what I'm doing, you know."
Aurelia's voice fell to a whisper. "I know."
"Leave her with your aunt. She's known her as a mother for the past five years. Come with me."
"I'm not murdering anymore half-bloods, I don't care how immortal it makes me."
"They don't deserve to live!" he cried, his eyes blazing. "They're polluting the rest of us."
Aurelia fixed her gaze on him. "Your mother," she began, "was named Merope Gaunt."
He stopped short. Obviously, he had not expected this.
"She had a lover whose name was Tom Riddle."
"You're treading on thin ice, Aurelia."
"A Muggle lover."
He drew his wand and raised it against her; but she knew the power she held over him, knew that he would never do it.
"You, Tom Riddle, are a half-blood yourself."
And then he had her by the throat against the wall, swearing, cursing, the intent to kill flashing in his veins—
"So am I."
He released her. "What?"
"My parents are both Muggles. I'm a Mudblood, Tom. Your favorite."
"No, you said you were a pureblood, you told me…"
"I never said anything. You just assumed."
"You fucking whore, I swear to God I'll kill you, I swear—"
He held his wand to her throat.
"You couldn't do it before," she said, "and you can't do it now. But I know your secret." And she walked out the door.
A humid July breeze played with the daisy-printed curtains in Aurelia's bedroom. She now shared a tiny cottage in Ottery St. Catchpole with Vesper, who was fast asleep in her own tiny bedroom upstairs. She didn't hear the footsteps edge past her door.
Tom Riddle pushed open the door to Aurelia's bedroom. She was lost to dreams, a book open on her chest, finger still marking the page. The mouth organ sat on her nightstand; he'd get to that as soon as he finished his real business.
He felt a strange satisfaction as he pulled his wand from his robes and aimed it at the mother of his child. It would be over now; after this, there would be no one who held sway over him. He had given up love, attachment, everything.
Just as he opened his lips, Aurelia opened her eyes.
She didn't flinch; in fact, she kept breathing, steady as she had been in her sleep.
"I knew you'd come." She picked up the mouth organ and tapped her wand to the scuffed metal surface. A glowing orb made its way out of the thing and floated around both Tom and Aurelia before choosing to settle into Aurelia's chest.
"Making a Horcrux was a good idea," she said with a smug grin. "Thanks."
He narrowed his eyes against her. "I hope you made two." Again, he raised his wand.
"What did you feel the second before you thought you killed me?"
"Satisfaction," he growled.
"I'd put my money on a sliver of regret," she purred. "Get out of my house, Tom."
"I'd be glad to. Avada Kedavra!"
This time, she fell to the bed, still.
"Goodbye." He made his way out to the hall, where he found a stricken Vesper.
"So you're my daughter," he said, his voice grating. "Give my regards to your dead mother." With that, he left.
Immediately, Vesper sprinted into her mother's room, shaking her lifeless form. "Mom!" she sobbed. "No…"
Aurelia's eyes opened. "Is he gone?"
Shocked, she nodded.
"Wipe your tears, baby," Aurelia told her, sitting up. "We've got to move fast."