As it turned out, Tom was right once again in his assumptions. Renfield did indeed make friends with his fellow house members but consequently, Sarah also began to hang out with her Gryffindor friends more often, thus giving Tom a lot more spare time then he would usually have.
Taking this opportunity, Tom made more and more frequent trips down the chamber to refine his plans. He gave occasional updates on his progress to his followers so that they didn't lose faith. Through his continual routine of planning, school work and Head Boy business; Halloween quickly crept up on him. In fact, if it weren't for the Head Girl and prefects, he would have forgotten about the trivial holiday altogether.
Tom and the other prefects were sitting around an old abandoned classroom which now served as their meeting room. Patrol duties were doled out, as well as solving any other problems within the houses. The meeting was just about to end when a Hufflepuff girl suddenly piped up.
"Halloween is coming up" she began, looking nervous as all heads swivelled towards her direction "Perhaps we should organise an event to celebrate?"
A silence met her words, quickly followed by a frenzy of excitement and comments.
"Oh! How about a ball?" cried a Ravenclaw girl, her eyes sparkling with enthusiasm
"No, we can't" interjected the Head Girl gently "The Christmas Ball is too close to it"
"How about a celebratory Quidditch game" suggested a Gryffindor boy eagerly "We could use pumpkins instead of bludgers-"
"No!" chorused all the girls at once, glaring at him. He grinned and shrank back in his chair, muttering something about how it was worth a try. Tom looked on the proceedings with indifference – if it were any type of social event, he would be forced to make an appearance anyway. He was just there to make sure the idiots didn't come up with something too foolish.
The Head Girl spoke up once more, when the prefects argumentative voices rose "How about we stick with the ball idea, except make it more of a casual dress up party? What do you say Tom?"
The occupants of the room turned their attention to the quiet Head Boy, watching as he stepped out of the shadowy crevice "It sounds like a good idea" he agreed "But perhaps it should be reserved for some of the older students?"
The prefects whole heartedly agreed and made drafts of plans immediately. After another hour, they had decided that it were to be open to 5th years and above and figured out various teams who were in charge of different aspects of preparations. Tom chose to be in charge of food preparations – all he really needed to do was consult the house elves and his job would be considered done. When it was fast approaching curfew, the meeting members dispersed back to their respective common rooms, waving a cheery goodnight to the Head Boy and Girl.
"Are you heading back yet?" she asked as she packed her stationary back into her rucksack. She looked up expectantly at him, regarding Tom with friendly eyes.
"No, not yet. I think I'll organise these patrols before I head up" he replied distractedly, staring out of the frosted window and onto the Quidditch pitch.
The girl shrugged "Alright. See you later then. Goodnight!"
Tom bade her goodnight in return before settling into one of the chairs. It was still too early to sleep and he had finished all his school work. He also did not feel like going down to the Chamber, knowing that the girls bathroom may still be occupied at this time of night. Pulling out a quill and parchment, he began to draw up the prefects patrol, scheduling himself on the nights when he knew he wouldn't have anything else to do. Drawing back to look at his finished chart, he found that his patrol times were a lot more often than he was used to. Glancing at his watch, the dial read 12:01 – meaning that, Tom realised with a jolt, that he had already been 17 for a minute. Just as he was about to pack his things up, a small succession of knocks sounded at the door.
Suspicious, Tom grasped his wand tightly in his hand and approached the door. He swung it open, lowering his wand immediately when he saw who it was.
"Sarah? What are you doing up so late?" whispered Tom, ushering her inside the classroom before snapping the door shut. Sarah was standing there before him, grinning and wearing her most normal looking muggle clothing. Her hands were full, holding what looked like a meat pie with "Happy Birthday Tom!" in tomato sauce on the top.
Words appeared in front of them "You didn't honestly think I forgot did you?" swirled the words as she grinned at him "I made you a steak and mushroom pie instead of cake because I know how you don't like sweet things". She brandished the plate in front of him as though it weren't already obvious.
"You really didn't have to, especially at this time of night" said Tom, feeling heat in his cheeks despite his best efforts to remain coolly impassive. She just gave him a look that plainly read 'of course I do you dolt!' before setting down the plate and attacking him with a hug.
"Happy Birthday Tom!" swirled the words, flashing green with small sparks flying off the letters. Tom wrapped his arms lightly around her and gave a gentle squeeze before letting go. She smiled up at him again and dug a small, flat and rectangular parcel out of her coat and passed it Tom. Curious, Tom untied the gaudy gold ribbon and neatly sliced open the paper. Sliding the present out from the wrapping, Tom looked on in confusion as he took in the leather bound book. On the cover it read in gold italics 'Diary' and the inside was full of blank pages. While it was nice, Tom was confused as to why she thought he'll need a diary. He had never written in one before and he was fairly sure she knew that too. As if reading his mind, she flicked her wand once more.
"It's not a normal diary. I have one the exact same. It's spelled so that we can communicate privately. We can write to each other in it no matter where we are – even when we leave Hogwarts!"
Tom felt his lips pull up into a smile "Thank you. It's wonderful" he said, his quiet timbre echoing off the stone walls of the classroom. He really was grateful for the gift, he decided as she sat him down in a chair and neatly sliced some pie up for him. His followers had tried gaining his favour before, with expensive materialistic gifts that meant little to him. They presented him with presents out of fear of him and what he could do, not because they genuinely meant the sentiment behind it.
"What are you thinking about?" asked Sarah, her dark eyes bright in the dim classroom. She was chewing on a mouthful of pie, a smear of tomato sauce on the side of her lip.
Tom casually conjured a napkin and wiped the smear off, not noticing the blush on her cheeks "There's a Halloween Dance coming up" he said, spearing a sautéed mushroom with his silver fork "It was just decided in the Prefects meeting a few hours ago"
Sarah herself seemed to perk up, the gleam of excitement in her slightly rounded face "A costume party? What are you going to dress up as?"
Tom rolled his eyes "Who said I was going to dress up at all?"
She pouted childishly "I forbid you from wearing your school uniform to a costume party Thomas. I know the Head Boy look is frightening and all but it's a little overdone" wrote her words in the air. Tom knew exactly what she was talking about of course. For every festivity, including Halloween, Tom had always worn his slightly threadbare school uniform. Even on the weekends and Christmas holidays, Tom wore no muggle clothing – only his uniform. Sarah understood that he was proud of his school, but she and some other students were beginning to suspect that his uniform had a permanent sticking charm on it.
"Well, since you have forbade it, then I must wear a costume" replied Tom, his tone deeply sarcastic. Sarah punched him on the shoulder, relishing in the slight wince he tried to hide.
"Come on Tom, it's our last year!" whined her words, the letters drawn out in italics to convey her pleading tone "It will be fun!"
After much coaxing and empty threats, Tom eventually conceded to her demands. He supposed it wouldn't be too terrible considering he had to supervise the event anyway. He just hoped that Sarah didn't force him into some atrocious or embarrassing costume.
Meanwhile, Sarah was thinking of all the atrocious and embarrassing costumes she could convince Tom into. She ran the various ideas through her head, smirking inwardly at a few till the image of Tom in a milk maid costume cropped up. Coughing and spluttering, Sarah mopped up the pumpkin juice that she had spat out onto the table.
Tom gazed at her questioningly but decided it was probably safer to not ask what was going on in her head. More often than not, it was something Tom would have preferred not to know. Sarah was brutally honest most of the time, a trait that Tom admired because of his own inability to be truthful. He could only recall a handful of times when she had deceived him; telling him that she was too sick to attend Transfiguration in 5th year, eating his éclair and refusing to admit it, and even sneaking out to Hogsmeade when she had been banned one weekend. But all these things were trivial, thought Tom to himself, he couldn't imagine her as being nearly as cunning and ambitious as their Slytherin peers.
Their night time mini feast eventually ended when they both claimed they were too tired and full of food to continue on. Tom led her back to the dungeons where she quickly pecked him on the cheek goodnight and flashed him a smile before disappearing through the stone doorway. Tom stared at the seemingly blank wall for a few more moments slightly stunned before gathering his wits and use of his legs, making his way up to his dormitory to catch a few hours of sleep before class the next morning.
I know i've got too many excuses and not enough updates. This thing happens every time where i'll write several fics at once then inevitably forget about a few along the way - so sorry! I usually just jump between stories depending on my mood, which is a bad habit i suppose. Anyway, thank you so much for the people that have reviewed and i hope you continue to! :) Also, what do you think of the characterisation of various characters? Is Tom too nice? Sometimes my fangirl mind turns a fearsome young Voldemort into someone a lot nicer than who he is capable of being :P Anyway, let me know your thoughts!