Voldemort was the best character in the series, bar none. His power was unparalleled. His wits were unmatched. And while Melinda would never admit it to anyone save herself, she had more in common with the Dark Lord than with the Boy Who Lived.
Of course, all this unequaled skill also meant that, when he wanted to, he could be the most irritating human being on the planet.
Well, second most. Potter was definitely the first.
"It worked, my lord."
He turned his head, lifting an eyebrow sardonically. "Did it now."
Melinda feigned nonchalance, leaning against the doorjamb. "You thought it wouldn't?"
"Of late, your powers seem to be…failing." He turned his face back toward the smoldering fire. "Frankly, Melinda, I'm impressed this trick worked as well as it did."
Anger flared in her like a dragon's flame, but she maintained a cool veneer. "I can alter other worlds, my lord, other timelines. Just not this one. Not directly, anyway."
Voldemort stood, and the morning edition of the Prophet fell to the floor. Melinda read the headline upside-down: "Muggle Lorry Robbed; Blood Stolen." He tipped her chin with a single finger.
"Then I suggest your next alteration include more than a violated blood bank, dear Melinda."
"Hogwarts? Why are we going to Hogwarts?"
The Joker laughed. "Tommy, Tommy, Tommy."
"If you don't stop calling me that, I'll kill you."
The laugh resumed, rising in pitch. This one lasted much longer than the other, turning the warm afternoon cold. "You? Kill me? I'd like to see you try, Tommy Boy."
Tom could only huff—an action that made the Joker giggle. Tom might be the Heir of Slytherin, the most brilliant wizard of his day, but he was still only sixteen—and just as vulnerable to bullets as the next Muggle. The thought made his anger rise, but he forced it down. "So why are we here?"
"There's someone…." The Joker licked his scarred lips. "Someone who needs to learn that messing with destiny is not the brightest way to go." He grinned, but didn't laugh.
"Who is it?"
Tom looked up sharply. "A Malfoy? Why?"
"Didn't you hear me, Tommy Boy? He's messin' with destiny." The Joker waved his pistol. "You. Sparkles."
Edward exhaled slowly, his crimson eyes still on the distant school. "Yes?"
The clown tossed a thin, leatherbound volume at the vampire's feet. "Tommy's gonna use one of his spells to hide you. Go ahead and give that to little Drakey, 'long with some mumbo-jumbo about being for the best, or the sake of his future—whatever nonsense you wanna give him—and get back here."
Edward lifted the book and read the title, then looked up with a frown. "I don't see how this is going to—"
The Joker pulled back the hammer on his pistol. "You want me to get the flamethrower, Pretty Boy?"
"That's what I thought. Now, you just go on up to that school and do what I'm tellin' you. Oh, and Sparkles?"
The Joker smirked. "Make sure you stand in the sunlight."
There are precious few things that wizards find unbelievable. An ordinary baby boy defeating the most powerful dark wizard in a hundred years is one of them. A sparkling seventeen-year-old male is another.
When Draco first spotted him, standing at the edge of the castle grounds, he had to shield his eyes. The sun reflected off his skin somehow, making him look more like an oversized diamond than a human being. He came closer, clutching something to his chest, glancing over his shoulder as if afraid to be seen.
How had he gotten onto school grounds without being caught?
Draco glanced over his left shoulder, then his right. No one else seemed to see him, but if he had made it onto school grounds anyway….
One last glance confirmed he was alone; none of his fellow students had seen the stranger, and Draco started toward him.
As if sensing he had been spotted, the glittering teenager threw the object on the grass and bolted for the Forbidden Forest. Draco started to run—then stopped. What if he was simply imagining things? Would the others think he was crazy? A fair portion of Slytherin House now believed he was nursing a soft spot for Potter; he didn't need them thinking him mental as well. Slowly, calmly, with the grace expected of a Malfoy heir, Draco made his way toward the abandoned object. As he neared it, he saw it was a book.
Like the one Dad put in the Weasley girl's cauldron a few years back?
Draco shook the thought away. This book was completely different. It had a title, for one thing. The words My Immortal were engraved in rough red letters across the front cover. Frowning, he opened to the title page. A note was written in ordinary black ink:
Those who attempt to write their own destinies often have their destinies written for them.
What the hell…?
Ignoring the cold feeling in the pit of his stomach, Draco tucked the book into his school bag and sauntered back toward the castle.