A/N: So... I disappeared once again. I apologize. I know it must be frustrating. And now I have to give you terrible news (well, good for me). I'm enrolled in a class next semester that will require me to write ten pages a week of my very own original novel. While this may mean inspiration to write more fanfiction, it could also mean another long absence. For this, I apologize in advance. Thank you for being patient and I hope you enjoy this installment!
Disclaimer: "Hey Harry, did I write or have anything to do with the creation of your wonderful tale?"
"Nope." Well, that settles it.
Love Doesn't Exist
"Let's go, Felicity." Tom waltzed into the Grand Library like he owned the place and yanked Felicity from her comfortable position at the desk. Felicity couldn't even pretend to hide her puzzlement.
"Go where?" Before Tom answered, he apparated to Felicity's bedroom, where Taffy was waiting, elf hands daintily held by her side. As soon as she saw her master, she snapped her fingers and disappeared, leaving the two alone.
"To town." Felicity noticed a dress on the bed. She believed the Muggles would describe it as 'business casual.' She turned to Tom and stared at him for a few tense moments.
"Are you mad?" That's a pretty stupid question to ask the man that mercilessly destroyed thousands of lives because his pride had been injured by an infant, Felicity. "I thought you were determined to keep me in this building for the rest of eternity."
"I believe it would be better if you accompanied me to the small town below for a few necessary items. And questioning me gets you nowhere, Miss Tylers." Felicity rolled her eyes. Tom was making less sense than usual.
"Okay, why can't you just go by yourself? Better yet, why don't you send one of your 'loyal servants' to get it for you?" Tom simply raised an eyebrow with a disinterested expression plastered on his face.
"Must I explain everything to you?" The witch retaliated by raising both her eyebrows. She pursed her lips in what she hoped was an obvious answer. Tom just sighed in impatience. "Not once has the town beneath the Riddle Manor seen its master, or any of its occupants for that matter. It's an inherently superstitious and curious village, and I have received word that many of the townspeople are in a recent unrest. They either think me a vile creature that wouldn't dare show his face," Felicity smiled at the irony, "in public or a nonexistent being. Either way, they'll come knocking on my door for answers soon." The whole thing seemed a bit ridiculous to Felicity. It came completely out of nowhere. And she still didn't know why he could possibly want Felicity to go with him.
"So just go by yourself." She shrugged. "Why would you need me?" Tom walked forwards, standing so close to Felicity that their faces were almost touching.
"Because, Miss Tylers, you are going to be my ill wife. You see, we're originally from England, but you have always been so faint and sickly. The doctor ordered fresh air, so I, a wonderful husband, took you to Albania. This is, of course, the location of the family home. Thus, our little ruse will settle the superstitions and I will obtain various items for potions at the same time." The Dark Lord backed away ever so slightly.
"Sounds plausible enough." Tom's face seemed to say, "Of course it does, you insolent little girl. I'm the world's greatest dark wizard."
"Now that I've debriefed you, get dressed." And he disapparated so Felicity could change.
Her arm was safely encased in the crevice of Tom's own arm as they walked through the town's cobblestone streets. The villagers all stared at the strangers with either abhorrence or amazement. Felicity could already tell she would play the part of 'sickly wife' with perfection. She looked weak from the starvation and pale from the lack of sunlight (speaking of which, she thought it felt wonderful to be back in the open air). She tried to act as if Tom was the only thing holding her up, and apparently it was working. In addition to the amazement and abhorrence, the villagers all looked at her with pity.
It certainly wasn't a big town. She imagined it was a primarily farming type of village, with little income. The thatch roofs were proof enough of that. Felicity glanced up at Tom. His breath came out in a cloudy mist, reminding the witch that winter was nearing. He stared resolutely into the scene, daring anyone to challenge his presence. Of course, no one did.
Soon enough, Tom tugged Felicity into a small stone building on the left side of the cobblestone street. Very calmly, Tom whispered in Felicity's ear to keep quiet. They entered through a curtain hanging in the doorway. A sign hung above the same curtain with Albanian writing engraved upon the wood, but Felicity had no idea what it said. She could only figure that it was an apothecary of sorts.
Inside the hut, two women stood, warming themselves by a small fire in the back of the building. Tom spoke in perfect Albanian, but again, Felicity had no idea what he was saying. He either had a translator spell (damn magic) or had been around the language long enough to pick it up.
The older woman of the two turned around and walked straight up to Tom. Her expression held a mixture of wariness and excitement as she saw the charming young man. What commenced afterward was a hurried conversation in Albanian. Tom spoke first, then the woman, then Tom again – gesturing to Felicity. Tom must have said something about his apothecary needs, because the elderly woman ordered the younger one to fetch something, which she brought back bundled in brown paper.
Felicity was too busy staring at what the young storekeeper had just handed Tom to notice the old woman's gaze upon her. The Albanian smiled, her mouth wrinkling in happiness. She inched closer to Felicity and reached a hand to her stomach, patting it gently. "Such pretty face," she said in heavily accented and strained English. The blonde was surprised at the woman's touch. Tom looked on the scene with a casual determination. "When you have pretty child? Soon, yes? Must make husband happy!" Felicity's eyes widened, and Tom cleared his throat.
"Thank you, but we must focus on Mrs. Riddle's health before we can think of having children." The old woman withdrew her hand, a smile still tugging at the corners of her mouth. "Of course," She responded joyfully. "But you must visit more. And bring baby when he comes!" Tom had a pained expression on his face, but he was still as charming as ever.
"We shall. Now I'm afraid we must take our leave. My wife can't stand for too long without getting tired. We appreciate your help." Felicity smiled weakly in an attempt to look fatigued. Both women waved as Felicity and Tom exited the little hut.
Now, the silence was awkward, verging on unbearable. The woman's comments didn't seem to affect Tom in any manner. He had a stoic look on his face as he subtly walked through the town. Felicity swallowed hard. She was growing more and more aware of her present situation. Tom had ceased walking arm-in-arm with her. He currently had his arm encircling her waist, pushing her even closer to him. Her breathing picked up. The heat rose to her cheeks. Tom was playing her husband. Lord Voldemort, her husband. For Merlin's sake, Tom just promised the shopkeeper we'd visit with our child. This was just too strange.
Felicity too lost in worry to notice Tom stopping her. They'd approached a pub (Felicity knew this only because of the wood sign above the door. It had a picture of ale on it). He dropped his arm and whispered in her ear once again. "I'm going inside. Don't speak to anyone." Felicity nodded, her eyes squeezed shut from embarrassment. "And stop acting like a child, Mrs. Riddle." With that, he left her.
Felicity stood just waiting for moments. She didn't know what to do with herself except think of the uncomfortable experience that had just occurred. And it was then, exactly then, that she heard a voice whispering in her ear. "What's a darling little girl like you doing in front of a such a scandalous place? I hope you have no plans of…selling yourself." The voice sent shivers up her spine and she felt twenty degrees colder. Felicity whirled around to face the man, just now noticing the accented English he spoke. He looked to be about mid-forties, with a graying beard and beady little eyes. He was dressed as other villagers were: brown burlap-looking pants and white cotton shirt covered by a fur drape. He looked like he had a special purpose for her, a faint mischievous smile evident on his face.
Felicity had been living with Tom for weeks now and she had never been as scared of the Dark Lord as she was of this man. And she couldn't move. Frozen to the spot. She wanted to scream, to call out for Tom, but the sound never escaped her lips. Her mind clouded over, and all she could do was stare into this man's black eyes. "N-no," she stuttered. "I'm w-waiting for someone." The man smiled again, this time showing yellowed teeth.
"A boyfriend perhaps? Or maybe a husband?" Felicity said nothing. "Such a shame. You're so very young to be married." He lifted a dry, cracked hand to her face and stroked it. Felicity tensed, but still could not move, or smack the hand away, or spit in his face. She could do nothing. "Where did this darling little girl come from?" She almost looked down, but the man's fingers pushed her chin up so she'd once again meet his eyes.
"The mansion. At the top of the hill." She just barely looked towards the general direction of the hill, but the man understood perfectly. Something dark erupted within him. His eyes gleamed with excitement and revulsion.
"The Riddle Mansion, eh?" She flinched as he leaned closer to her face. "Are you sure you're married to the master?" he asked, suspiciously. Her eyes widened. "Ah, so you're just a servant. Maybe you even provide some entertainment for the charming boy?" Felicity's heart pounded in her chest. This man… he sounds as if he knows Tom. "Tell me, dear girl, what is your name?"
"Jane Addams." She lied. She wasn't exactly sure where the name had come from, but she was pretty sure she'd heard her American friend say it once.
"Liar." The man smiled playfully. "It's very unbecoming of a lady to lie. What is your name?"
"Felicity." He began to circle her, as if she was some sort of weak prey.
"That's better. Answer this, Felicity, does your master value you most?" Was she mad or was he asking, "Answer this, Felicity, did your master make you a Horcrux?" She was probably just plain mad, but for some reason, this man seemed to know more than he was letting on.
"No." She answered firmly. She was beginning to regain some of her strength. She even sounded more convincing. "If my master has any sort of emotion towards one thing, it would be news to me. In all my years of service to him, he's never show preference towards any one thing." He stopped circling and stood directly in front of her. An eyebrow was raised. The man knew there was something more to her speech, as if this girl actually understood what he was asking. She was bright. He'd be getting no answers from her now.
"I have a feeling we'll meet again, Miss Felicity. In the meantime, please accept this." She was about to condemn anything he gave her when the man leant down and planted a kiss on her hand.
And that was when Tom appeared, carrying a small box. In the same instant, the man disappeared.
Tom's eyes flashed with anger as he walked determinedly up to Felicity. Grabbing her arm before she could speak, they disapparated. Thankfully, no one was around to see it.
Back at the Riddle Mansion, Tom looked angry. "I thought I told you not to speak to anyone!" He pushed her down with surprising ease. She landed on a soft couch in the Grand Library. "How could you be so stupid, Felicity!" His eyes were now tinted with a reddish hue as his literally shook with anger. "What did you tell him? What did you tell him about me?" Well, he's mad at me. Angry enough to kill me? Let's find out.
"Oh, I just told him – who may or may not be a Muggle – that I was Lord Voldemort's Horcrux, and that he has to kill me with the Sword of Gryffindor or Fiendfyre or a Basilisk Fang so he can kill you. Oh! I also let him know that you had transformed into your younger self, that way the man could have an easier time finding you." Felicity spoke with such utter loathing and hatred that her words didn't even seem sarcastic any longer. Tom listened to everyone word before he lunged.
She really didn't see him coming. His hand was at her throat and he was lifting her. Then, somehow, he had rammed her into a bookshelf so hard that books tumbled to the floor with loud thuds. Tom's long fingers were clenching harder and harder on her neck. It was becoming more difficult to breathe. Her lungs ached for air and her head hurt with unmentionable pain. She tried to grab at his hand, but ended up flailing about and pulled more books off the shelves. Felicity, in that moment, only knew one thing. She was choking, and she was dying.
And that's when she went limp. If he was killing her, she intended to let him. Her vision went black.
She half-expected to end up in King's Cross Station, as Harry had when he died by Voldemort's hand all those years ago. But she didn't. She was at her desk in the Auror Department.
For a strange second, Felicity thought that perhaps the past few weeks had all been a dream. She thought maybe she'd fallen asleep and let her fear of Lord Voldemort overtake her consciousness. That wasn't the case.
There was no one around. In fact, she heard no noise throughout the entire building. Odd. Felicity looked everywhere in the Department. There didn't appear to be a single person roaming the halls. She sighed. Maybe she was still dead.
"Felicity…" A voice resounded in her ears. It sounded much too close to her, almost as if it was speaking from inside her head.
"Felicity…" It was such a lovely voice. Though, it was angry. She wondered why it would be angry.
"Felicity…Wake up…Felicity." It was more urgent that time. It no longer felt like part of a dream; instead, it was a voice outside of her dream, calling to her from some familiar abyss. She started shaking uncontrollably, as if someone else was controlling her. The witch closed her eyes, waiting for the feeling to go away.
When she opened her eyes once more, Tom was standing there, angry, but less so than before. She was sprawled out on the marble flooring of the library. Her throat felt dry and unused. Tom leaned closer to her. "What did you tell him?" Him? Who's 'him?' It was disorienting trying to remember. "Lower your Occlumency shields." Felicity squinted at the blinding light and shook her head calmly. "Do it now." He spoke in Parseltongue this time, the words slithering into her mind with definite clarity.
"No," she just barely whispered. Felicity found it hard to speak.
"Felicity, I'll find out one way or another. This way is a lot less painful for you." They looked into each other's eyes for a few silent moments. That green. It reminded her of Harry's eyes, except darker. Hardened by pain, yearning for power, desperate for answers. And for some stupid reason, she trusted him. Maybe it was just the lack of oxygen in her brain or maybe she had simply forgotten who Tom really was, but she trusted him.
To be quite frank, Felicity hadn't remembered she'd had her Occlumency shields up. She'd been trained to keep them even without her wand, knowing that Aurors would often be stripped of the magical wood. Of course, it was weaker without her wand, but only an extremely powerful Legilimens could have disrupted some of the shields (which, now that Felicity thought about it, would explain why Tom appeared when she asked for him that night). Now she had to remember how to break some shields while keeping others intact.
Felicity imagined her memories as a brick wall. Behind each brick was a different memory. She sifted through them all and found the one of the man in the village, and then she knocked the brick out of the wall. That's when she felt it. Some unimaginable force invading her mind. The power was so great that it almost knocked the whole wall down, but with a little perseverance, she kept it strong. The pain was horrible. Felicity thought choking to death was bad, but having one's mind invaded was a pain so vast she yelped in agony. She knew Tom had finished watching her memory by now, but s thought he might take advantage of the situation. He was thinking the exact same thing.
Her mind was opened, if he could just break one more lock, the door would fall apart. Who knows what else other information her mind would betray? He slowly chipped away at her shield. Small memories flooded out. The first time she rode a broomstick. A conversation with her father about Auror training. An interesting, albeit it, useless, confrontation with a seventh year ('She knocked him across the room as a second year…impressive. But considering my power courses through her, it's hardly surprising.) A recent memory slipped. She was heavily distracted…by Tom's shirt. He smirked; knowing he affected her that way could prove useful one day.
Then Felicity smartened up. She knew he was prying around in her memories so she layered the protection. It was no use now; she'd discovered him. However, he did see the memory he cared about most…the man in the village. He smirked and spoke with a mixture of anger and satisfaction. "Congratulations, Felicity. You just survived a private audience with Grindelwald."
A/N: So? How was it? Poor Felicity and that awkward insinuation. Ah well, she'll survive (or will she...?)