Hiya! So, just wanna say something very you lot start reading: I don't own Harry Potter. The series and everything related to it, belongs to JK Rowling (bless her wonderful imagination).

Summary: After the Final Battle, Harry comes into possession of a diary that just might change his views on the man he thought Lord Voldemort was.

Chapter I:

The Diary

-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-

The Final Battle was theirs.

Harry Potter returned the Elder Wand to the cabinet. He waved his newly repaired wand around the cabinet, feeling its enchantments spring to life, locking the Elder Wand within. If he would die of old age, which he hoped he would, the Elder Wand would never have another master, and its power would be broken.

"We'll wait outside for you, Harry," Hermione said.

Harry nodded as she and Ron left Dumbledore's office, arm in arm. He turned his attention to Dumbledore's portrait, which was smiling serenely at him.

"It's done, Professor," Harry said as he approached the portrait. "Voldemort's gone." It was still hard for him to believe that. Hard for him to believe that he no longer needed to run and hide for his life, that he would no longer wake in the middle of the night to his scar hurting.

"Well done, Harry," the portrait said. "Now, the wizarding world...no, the entire world is safe."

Harry smiled as he turned away from the portrait, ready to face a new beginning.

-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-

"I still don't get why we're here," Ron muttered as they stopped just outside an all-too familiar door. At Harry's insistence, they had come down to the dungeons, to Snape's office, of all places. "Shouldn't we be helping them clean up?"

Harry opened the door—there were no longer any enchantments to seal Snape's office—and stepped in. He felt compelled to pay his respects to Snape. More than that, he felt guilty. For more than half his life, he had hated Snape, thought him an enemy and, on more than one occasion, wished that he would just vanish.

Harry strode across the room, to Snape's desk. Piles of paper and books were stacked on top each other, neatly organized. Harry let out a sigh.

"I just...felt that we should," he said, turning to his two best friends.

Hermione stepped in after Harry, her eyes taking in the room. "It looks as though it's been a while before Snape set foot here," she said, her eyes taking in the thin layer of dust on the furnishings.

Ron muttered something as he followed Hermione in. Harry placed a hand on Snape's desk, wondering how many nights Snape had sat here, thinking and thinking about the risk he took double-crossing Voldemort. Harry let out a sigh. If it had not been for Snape and his love for Lily Potter, Harry knew that they would never have defeated Voldemort.

Harry turned to go when something caught his eye. A sheet of paper had fallen behind Snape's desk, already buried in a thin layer of dust. Stooping, Harry picked it up. His eyebrows shot up in surprise. It was a letter from Lucius Malfoy to Severus Snape.

Severus,

Once you have retrieved Tom's diary, you are to bring it to him immediately.

Lucius

The letter was short, concise—and inconspicuous. But to Harry, it knocked the wind out of him.

Tom...did this refer to Tom Riddle? Lucius Malfoy did not even bother writing his surname, lest the letter was intercepted. This, and the fact that it consisted of nothing more than a mere sentence, confirmed that the letter had been urgent.

"Hermione, Ron...take a look at this," Harry said, turning to his two bestfriends.

Hermione frowned as she took the letter, a look of concern on her face. "The Horcrux?" she wondered aloud.

Harry frowned. "I don't know. I don't think so. Snape never got his hands on the diary, as far I know. And besides, it's destroyed."

"Then what diary does Lucius Malfoy mean?" Ron wondered.

Harry frowned. Voldemort was gone, dead, but...

"I think I'm going to ask Mr. Malfoy," Harry said, as he clutched the letter tightly.

Ron and Hermione recognized the stubborn look in Harry's eyes and knew that no amount of dissuasion was going to put him off.

-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-

People were milling about in the Entrance Hall when Harry, Ron and Hermione emerged from the dungeons. The Entrance Hall was covered in debris and, among the rubble, Harry could make out the bodies of both friend and foe. He bit his lip. Somehow, instead of feeling victorious at Voldemort's defeat, he felt rather defeated. So much blood had been shed...

"Harry, look," Hermione suddenly said, her voice quiet.

Harry and Ron glanced towards the Great Hall. Their eyes widened in surprise when they saw Professor Flitwick emerge. He held his wand out as he levitated a single body in front of him. He looked rather grim as he brought the body into the Entrance Hall, its black robes trailing on the dusty floor. The people in the Entrance Hall suddenly fell silent. Others looked hesitant while others looked frightened at the sight of the floating corpse.

Hermione tugged his sleeve. "Is that...him?"

Harry didn't answer as he watched Flitwick take the body to the other side of the Entrance Hall, to the antechamber. "What do you reckon they're going to do with it?" Ron wondered aloud.

Harry frowned. He suddenly remembered seeing Tom Riddle's past in the pensieve—the orphaned boy, cast aside by both his parents, the boy who had known neither love nor friendship, whose life had been filled with nothing but hatred and violence...

He really did feel sorry for Tom Riddle.

He continued to watch as Flitwick stopped at the threshold of the chamber and moved Voldemort's body into it. He watched as, with a wave of his wand, Flitwick closed the double doors to the chamber. The moment the two doors closed with a heavy groan, people began talking again, as though the appearance of Voldemort's body had stunned them into silence, which it had.

"They should feed it to the Giant Squid," Ron muttered.

Remembering the pathetic, infant-like creature that was the remainder of Voldemort's soul, Harry couldn't help but feel another wave of pity. He inwardly frowned. What was he doing, feeling sorry for Voldemort, of all people?

"Ron!" Hermione snapped, annoyed.

"And why not?" Ron said. "Serves him right."

"That would be something he would do," Hermione pointed out. "We're not like him, Ron."

"Oh, so you want us to give him a nice coffin, with lots of pretty flowers all around it," Ron said sarcastically. "Do you want us to bring a large box of tissues, too? So we can all cry our eyes out?"

Hermione glared at him. "I'm just saying it's barbaric to treat a body like that, regardless of who it is!" she said indignantly. "Unlike you, Ron, the rest of the Wizarding World aren't barbarians."

Ron fumed.

"Guys," Harry said tiredly. "Look, I know how much you two love each other, okay? Give it a rest."

Hermione blushed and Ron coughed rather uncomfortably. "Will you come with me to the Great Hall?" Harry asked to which they nodded.

The Great Hall was teeming with the survivors of the Battle. Madame Pomfrey and several students were busy tending to the injured, most of whom were sitting at the Slytherin table. Across the Great Hall, Dedalus Diggle and several aurors were guarding the door that led to the Hall's antechamber, were the remainder of Voldemort's Death Eaters were awaiting transportation to Azkaban.

He spotted Ginny sitting at the Gryffindor table, her head resting against her folded arms. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were sitting across from her, both looking grief-stricken and tired. There would be plenty of opportunities to speak with her later. Clustered near the Ravenclaw table were the bodies of those who had fought valiantly in the Battle. Harry's heart caught when he saw the bodies of both Lupin and Tonks, they're hands linked together, even in death. Beside Lupin's body lay Fred. George was sitting on the dusty floor, at Fred's head, his hand stroking his twin's hair.

Harry bit his lip.

Voldemort's downfall was more sombre than joyous.

Ron was staring at Fred's body, his eyes shining. Hermione gripped his hand comfortingly as he wiped the unshed tears from his eyes. The trio were silent, each wrapped in their thoughts. Hermione interrupted their silence and tugged on Harry's sleeve.

"Harry, over there," she said quietly.

Harry followed her gaze to the Hufflepuff table. Throngs of people were seated at the table, some looking lost in thought, others drinking cups of tea that the house-elves sent from the kitchens. At the far end of the table, the Malfoys were seated, unsure whether they belonged there or not. Professor McGonagall was conversing with Lucius Malfoy, accompanied by Kingsley Shacklebolt.

"What do reckon they're talking about?" Ron muttered.

Harry didn't answer as they made their way towards the Malfoys. He was debating whether or not to interrupt when McGonagall suddenly caught sight of them.

"Potter," she said. At the mention of his name, the Malfoys and Kingsley looked towards him. "Is there anything you need?"

Harry hesitated. "Is it a bad time, Professor?" he asked. "I was wondering if I could speak to Mr. Malfoy." Lucius Malfoy looked warily up at him. Narcissa bit her lower lip, but was silent; while Draco only stared hard at the floor.

McGonagall and Kingsley exchanged a look. "No, go ahead, Harry," Kingsley said. He patted Harry's shoulder as he left them to speak with the other aurors. McGonagall regarded him for a moment before she, too, left. He couldn't help but notice the troubled expression she wore as she made her way through the throngs of people and out the Great Hall.

"What is it that you want, Potter?" Lucius Malfoy asked. He, like everyone else, looked tired.

Harry glanced around. People were busy walking past him, too busy and too exhausted to listen in. Draco was giving him a rather suspicious and wary look.

"This letter," Harry said, fishing for the piece of parchment in his pocket. "It's from you to Snape." He handed Lucius Malfoy the letter. His eyes widened in surprise as he read it. "In it, you mention a diary...belonging to Tom. Did you mean Tom Riddle?"

Lucius Malfoy seemed to recoil from the name. He continued staring at the letter, his brows furrowed. Beside him, his wife placed an arm on his shoulder. Draco looked up at Harry. For a moment, their eyes met. Was it just him, or did Draco look rather...vulnerable and unsure?

Lucius was silent for several moments, probably debating whether or not to tell Harry what he knew. He let out a sigh. "Yes," he said quietly, handing the letter back to Harry. "I did mean Tom Riddle. Tom Marvolo Riddle to be more precise."

Harry felt a sharp intake of breath from Hermione. "Which diary did you mean?" Harry asked quietly. "The one you gave to Ginny Weasley five years ago?"

Lucius' eyes hardened for a moment. Narcissa tightened her grip on his arm, and he visibly relaxed. "No," Lucius said, his voice hard. "The diary referred to in the letter was cast aside by the Dark Lord at the height of his powers. He hid it himself in the manor of his late father. Just a year ago, he had ordered Severus Snape to retrieve the diary and bring it to him. Snape did retrieve it, but the Dark Lord never got his hands on it—he had more important matters to attend to."

Harry paused for a moment, wondering why he was even bothering. "Where is the diary now?" he asked.

Lucius Malfoy grimaced. "At Malfoy manor, of course," he said quietly. "The Dark Lord instructed me to keep hold of it, until he...took care of you. I was to hand it over to him then."

"Mr. Malfoy," Harry went on. "Would you...mind if you gave me that diary?"

Lucius exhaled. "Take it," he said at last. He sounded both relieved and unsure. "The last thing tying me to the Dark Lord is the order to hold on to the diary. But I cannot fathom your reasons for wanting it, Potter. It's just a blank diary, after all."

-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-

"What do you reckon will happen to them?" Ron asked when they left the Malfoys. Lucius Malfoy had promised to send for the diary as soon as possible, which was good enough for Harry.

Harry frowned. "I don't know," he admitted. "But I won't allow anyone to take either of them to Azkaban."

Ron stared at him as though he had gone insane. "Are you barking mad?" he said as they passed the Ravenclaw table. He lowered his voice. "They're Death Eaters, Harry! They were on Vol...Vol...on his side!"

"Why can't you just say Voldemort?" Hermione wondered aloud. Ron ignored her.

Harry remembered Narcissa's trembling hands as she checked for his pulse in the forest. And then he remembered her voice, shaking with fear because she was about to lie to Voldemort: "Is Draco alive? Is he in the castle?"

"They don't deserve it," Harry said quietly. Something in his voice stopped Ron from arguing.

They walked past the other tables, heading straight for the double oak doors. Harry wanted to go back to Professor Dumbledore's office to ask his portrait about the diary. Should he really bother with it? According to Lucius Malfoy, the diary was blank. If Voldemort had enchanted the diary, the enchantment would have surely been dispelled with his death...

They emerged into the Entrance Hall. Professor Flitwick and Professor Sinistra were directing repairs with their wands. Filch, Harry saw, was helping in the best way he could—by hefting stones.

"Where to now?" Hermione asked.

"Dumbledore's office," Harry said.

As they ascended the marble staircase, Harry suddenly stopped. His eyes fell to his left, at the door that led to the antechamber, where Voldemort's body lay, hidden from view. He frowned.

"Harry?" Ron said. He looked up. Ron and Hermione were already halfway up the stairs.

"Wait," Harry said as he walked back down the stairs.

"Harry, wait—where are you going?" Hermione asked as he made his way towards the antechamber. "Harry, you can't possibly be thinking of—"

Harry pushed the double doors open, conscious of the many eyes on him. Professor Flitwick looked as though he wanted to stop him, but thought better of it. He entered and closed the door behind him. The last time he had been in this chamber was in his first year, before he was about to be sorted. The room was empty, with no windows. In the middle of the room, on the floor, lay the body of Tom Riddle...and standing over him was none other than Professor McGonagall.

Harry paused, surprised. "Potter," Professor McGonagall said, equally taken aback.

"Professor," Harry said. They were silent for a moment as they stared at each other. What was she doing here?

She broke the silence first. "What brings you here, Potter?" she asked. She sounded curious.

Harry hesitated. The truth was, he didn't know what brought him here, to this place. Was this some form of Stockholm Syndrome? He shrugged.

"I just...wanted a little bit of closure, I guess," he replied. It was a lame excuse, but it was the truth, nonetheless.

McGonagall nodded as she stepped around Voldemort's body and made her way towards him. "Very well then, Potter," she said. To his surprise, she offered him a small smile before she left the room.

"Wait, Professor," Harry called, turning back to her.

She stopped, her hands on the handle of the doors. She glanced at him from over her shoulder. "What do they plan to do to Riddle's body?" Harry asked.

Professor McGonagall was silent. Her expression, however, indicated that, unlike Ron, she had no wish to feed it to the Giant Squid. "We'll let you decide, Potter," she said at last. She opened the doors and left.

Harry frowned. Why let him decide? He sighed as he approached Tom Riddle's body. He looked as though he was frowning in his sleep. He knelt beside the body.

"You had your chance, Tom," he said quietly. For a moment, he wondered what would have happened if Voldemort had chosen to heed his advice and feel remorse. The weight of Voldemort's sins would have still killed him...but it would have left him with a perfect soul. Remembering the pathetic, infant-like creature that was the remainder of Voldemort's soul, Harry couldn't repress the pang of pity he felt.

"You should have taken it," he went on as he stood up. He suddenly stopped. There was something glinting at the neckline of Voldemort's robes, partially hidden beneath the layers of cloth.

Harry bit his lower lip as he hesitated. Ridiculous, there was no need to be afraid of the dead. Harry carefully moved aside a layer of Voldemort's robes. There was a thin silver chain hidden beneath the cloth. Harry frowned as he carefully removed the chain.

It was a necklace. A locket, to be precise. Harry stared at the pendant. It was a small round oval, with the initials 'LM' etched onto the tarnished surface.

Harry frowned, staring at the initials. "Lord Moldywort?" he wondered aloud before giving himself a mental kick. Curious, Harry flicked open the locket. A small, piece of paper, already yellow with age, fluttered to the ground. Harry picked it up. His frown deepened. It was a note:

Tom,

Knowing you, I'm quite sure you'll be reading this. Well, if you are, then I'll have gone already. Don't worry; I'll be waiting for you, like always.

Yours,

LM

Harry's frown vanished to be replaced with a look of surprise. He stared at Voldemort's body as questions began buzzing around in his head. Who was 'LM'? Judging from the flowing handwriting and the content of the letter, LM may have been a girl. If that was so, why was Voldemort wearing her locket?

Voldemort did not seem the type to wear jewellery—especially a locket, of all things (despite Salazar Slytherin's penchant for one). This could not have been on him when Flitwick moved the body to the chamber—he would have noticed.

Harry glanced at the door, his eyes narrowing. Did McGonagall put it on Voldemort?

-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-

"LM," Hermione muttered as she read the note.

They were in the Gryffindor common room. A few of the students had chosen to remain at Hogwarts to help with the repairs and resume class when they were finished. Harry, Ron and Hermione were sitting near the fireplace. Ron was lounging at Hermione's feet, his back resting against her knees, while Harry sat on the squashy armchair opposite Hermione.

"This was in the locket?" Hermione asked for the third time. She had the locket on her lap. Harry nodded and she frowned. "And the locket was on his...body?"

Again, Harry nodded. "I think McGonagall put it on him," he said slowly. "If it was on him when Flitwick bought his body to the chamber, then Flitwick would've noticed, what with levitating his body and all."

Hermione frowned. "Why would she put it on him, though?" she wondered aloud.

"Maybe we could ask her?" Ron said.

"I don't think it's a good idea, though," Harry muttered. "Voldemort's gone, but...what if she had her personal reasons?"

"What kind of personal reasons?" Hermione muttered.

Ron's eyes suddenly widened. "Hey, picture this!" Ron said, his voice low but excited. The other two leaned into hear. "McGonagall was with You-Know-Who in school, right? What if McGonagall and You-Know-Who had some sort of secret affair, and that locket belonged to McGonagall?"

Hermione and Harry gave him disgusted looks. "I don't think McGonagall would ever have an affair with him, Ron," she countered. "That's sick," she added.

"Who knows?" Ron said, shrugging. "I mean, from what we heard from Harry, Tom Riddle was supposed to be really handsome and charming, right? What if he managed to charm old McGonagall?"

Hermione hit him lightly on the head. "The initials on the locket say 'LM', Ron," she pointed out. "Not 'MM'."

"So?" Ron said. "She could've changed her first name from whatever the 'L' stood for, to Minerva."

"He wouldn't be the way he was if he'd learned to love, you know," Harry pointed out. He was about to say something else, but at that moment Ginny appeared at the foot of the stairs of the girls' dormitory. For a moment, their eyes, and then Ginny smiled.

"Here, Harry," Hermione said as she put the note back in the locket and handed it to him. "We can discuss this later."

Harry nodded as he pocketed the locket. He smiled at Ginny as he made his way towards her. He wrapped an arm around her waist and led her out of the Gryffindor common room.

"Look after my sister!" Ron hollered as they went out the portrait and it closed behind them.

He and Ginny chuckled, and in that chuckle, they let out the stress of everything that happened in the past twenty-four hours—the Final Battle, the fear that they would not live through...

Harry held her hand as he led her down the stairs to the first floor, and down still to the Entrance Hall. It was already nine in the evening, but several people were still in the Entrance Hall, moving the last of the stones and rubble. He led Ginny out towards the Entrance Hall, his eyes straying, for a moment, to the doors to the antechamber, before they headed out to the courtyard.

The stars twinkled merrily in the sky as they strolled around the lake. Strewn amidst the grass were pieces of rubble that had yet to be cleared. Harry and Ginny kicked small pieces of rubble out of their as they walked.

"It's finally over, isn't?" Ginny said quietly as she laced her fingers together with his.

Harry nodded. "How are you feeling?" he asked.

She chuckled, her voice lifting his spirits. "I should be asking you that," she pointed out, grinning at him, her warm brown eyes twinkling.

Harry smiled down at her. "You first," he said. The truth was, he wanted to talk to Ginny about something. He knew she wouldn't be judgemental, knew that she would listen.

She shrugged as they stared at the lake. "I guess I feel...a little drained...a little sad...a little happy," she finally said, her voice quiet. She was obviously thinking of Fred, who had been killed, as well as the others who had lost their lives.

Harry nodded. He could say he felt the same way. Remembering how Remus and Tonks held each other, even in death, he couldn't help but feel a pang of longing and emptiness. They were both silent as they continued staring out at the lake.

"Ginny," Harry finally said, breaking the silence. "If I told you something, would you listen?"

She looked at him as though he were mad. "Of course," she said, her eyebrows raised.

Harry let out a breath. "I don't know why," he said. "But somehow, with the war being over, with Voldemort finally gone...I'm sort of having a hard time taking it all in. At first I thought I was just tired. But then I realized...I've seen things with Dumbledore, seen things about Voldemort."

"What things?" Ginny asked when he'd grown quiet. Her voice was gentle.

Harry let it all out. "He and I...we were alike," he finally said. To him, this information had been a burden, but now that it was all over, he couldn't help but finally accept it. "Orphans, mistreated, Hogwarts the only place we felt at home, both parselmouths..." But he supposed, with Voldemort's soul fragment gone from within him, he could no longer speak the language. He didn't know—he didn't bother to try it out.

Ginny shook her head, and placed a hand against his cheek. "Harry," she said gently. "Don't think how alike you are—think how different you are."

"The only difference between us was that I've felt love and friendship," he said slowly. "He lived a life of poisonous hate and violence."

Ginny smiled at him. "That makes all the difference in the world, Harry," she reassured.

"But," Harry went on, remembering the pathetic infant-like soul fragment. "Is it...wrong to feel sorry for him?"

For a moment, Ginny was silent, contemplating him with those brown eyes of hers. Then she smiled again and shook her head. "No," she said, at last. "He did so many evil things—killed many people"—her eyes suddenly looked downcast—"and tore families apart. But, I think the reason he did them was because...he'd never felt love. Not like you."

Harry smiled as he wrapped Ginny in his arms, leaning his head against hers. "Yeah," he agreed. "Not like me."

-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-

As they traipsed back to the castle, Harry was surprised to see someone waiting for them atop the steps that led to the double oak doors. "Malfoy?" Harry said, surprised.

Draco Malfoy descended the steps and stood in front of them. He was clutching what appeared to be a package in his hands. "I need to speak with you, Potter," he said. He glanced at Ginny who seemed to get the message and went on ahead.

"What?" Harry asked.

Without another word, Draco handed him the package. "From my Father," he said. "The diary you wanted."

Harry blinked in surprise as he took the diary. "Thanks," he said, somewhat awkwardly.

Malfoy scowled, looking as though he wanted to say something. He let out a breath. "Potter," he said, "you...have my thanks."

Harry's eyebrows shot up in surprise. He did not expect dear old Draco to thank him at all. Feel grateful, yes, but not actually thank him outright.

"Kingsley Shacklebolt guaranteed that no one in the Malfoy family will wind up in Azkaban," Draco went on in a rush. "Mother says that you're the one we should be thanking."

If someone told him he would be having this conversation with none other than Draco Malfoy, he would have died of laughter. "I—" Harry said. Draco raised a hand to silence him.

"I came here to give you the gratitude of the Malfoy family, Potter," he said, his voice returning to its old sneer—just how it was meant to be. "Not to listen to your humble denial."

Harry grinned at him and thrust his hand out towards Draco. "You're welcome," he said.

Draco glanced at the proffered hand, hesitant—then he grasped Harry's hand in his own. "Whatever, Potter," Draco said as he shook Harry's hand. He quickly let go, turned around and headed back into the castle, his black robes swirling around him.

Harry smiled, not really expecting this turn of events. He glanced down at the package in his hands as an owl hooted overhead.

-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-

It was already half past eleven by the time Harry clambered through the portrait hole. The common room was already empty, except for Ron and Hermione, who were huddled around the fireplace, sitting on armchairs opposite each other. Both were playing Wizard's chess and Hermione was—much to Harry's amusement—losing. Badly.

"No!" Hermione said frantically as Ron's pawn dragged her queen off the chessboard. "No! I didn't notice!"

"Merlin's beard," Ron said, looking up at Hermione with pure astonishment. "You said you were bad—but I didn't think you would be this bad! It was a pawn, Hermione! A pawn against your queen! Bloody hell...I feel bad. So do your troops."

True enough, Hermione's black chess pieces were screaming loudly at her. She buried her face in her hands. Harry couldn't help it—he laughed.

"Harry!" Hermione said.

He sat on the couch facing the fire. "Finally—something Hermione Granger isn't good at," he joked, feeling light-hearted.

She glared at him before her attention flickered to his hand. "What's that you're holding?" she asked.

Harry's light-heartedness immediately vanished. He glanced around to make sure no one was looking before he placed the package in front of them. He briefly explained how Malfoy had given him the diary.

"He actually thanked you?" Ron said, his eyebrows rising.

Harry nodded. "That's not the point now, though," he said. "This diary."

They stared at the package. "Go on." Hermione's voice was a low whisper as she glanced around the deserted common room.

Harry tore the package away and dropped it to the floor. On the table sat a battered black diary, its pages yellow with age. Harry felt a wave of déjà vu as he stared at the diary.

"Wait," Hermione said as Harry was about to open it. "Give it here—it may have a curse or an enchantment."

"Voldemort's dead," Harry pointed out. "And I don't think the Malfoys would do something of the sort."

Hermione looked hesitant but, eventually, she nodded. Harry opened the diary. At the bottom portion of the first page, the name Tom Marvolo Riddle swam before his eyes. The ink was still black, the writing neat and elegant.

Harry felt a strange mix of anxiety of and excitement as he flipped the page. "What the—?" Ron said, staring at the page. "It's blank!"

Harry blinked at the blank page before him. He quickly flipped through the whole diary. Like with the Horcrux diary, this one was oddly blank as well.

"Riddle sure has a penchant for not using the things he buys," Ron muttered as he leaned back in his seat. It was easier to refer to him as 'Riddle'.

Hermione looked thoughtful as she reached for the diary. She took out her wand, tapped the blank page and muttered, "Aparecium!"

She frowned as nothing happened. She tapped her wand to the diary again. "Revelare Secreta!" she said. The tip of her wand glowed with a blue light, illuminating the page, but nothing happened. She pushed the diary back towards Harry.

"It's probably just a blank diary, Harry," she said at last. "Though...if it is hiding something...dark, Revelare Secreta can't reveal it."

"Face it, mate," Ron said. "Riddle's gone. All his spells would be gone, too."

Harry wanted to accept his explanation, but something was nagging at him. "He wouldn't bother hiding it if was blank," Harry pointed out. "Also, he wouldn't bother to let Snape retrieve it, if it was useless."

"What if that diary had an enchantment on it before he died?" Hermione asked. "It would have been important to him. But now that he's gone, whatever enchantment he put on the diary would have been dispelled."

Harry frowned at her infallible reasoning. "Just let it go, Harry," Hermione said gently. "Riddle's gone now. We don't need to think of him anymore."

Hermione bid them goodnight, then headed towards the girls' dormitory. After one round of Wizard's chess, Ron followed suit and headed towards the boys' dormitory. Harry sighed as he leaned back in his seat, listening to the black chess pieces muttering angrily about their two consecutive losses in one night. His eyes fell on the diary again.

On an impulse, he reached out and brought it close to him, moving aside the muttering chess pieces. The light from the fire was dimmer now, and long shadows danced across the walls. Glancing around, Harry spotted a quill and a bottle of ink on a table nearby. He summoned them to him, dipped the quill in the ink and held it above the diary, thinking of what to write. Again, he was enveloped in a strong sense of déjà vu.

Gently biting his lower lip, he bent over the blank page. Tom Riddle? he wrote.

To his disappointment (disappointment?) the words remained where they were. Really, what was he expecting? A reply? He knew perfectly well that if this diary replied as though it had a mind of its own, it was time for him to panic.

"I must be out of my mind," he muttered as he leaned back in his chair, his eyes still fixed on the diary. He blinked. Was it the dim light, or did the words he write slowly start to fade, as though absorbed by the diary? His heart thumped madly in his chest as he seized the diary just as the letters completely vanished.

Impossible. Was this diary a Horcrux? Even more impossible...

Pulling the diary closer, Harry inspected the page. There was no reply. Taking the quill again, he wrote, Are you Tom Riddle? He waited. The ink slowly faded, but no reply came back. He frowned, then allowed several fat drops of ink to splash on the page. They slowly faded, and then he noticed it.

Taking his wand out of his pocket, he muttered "Lumos!", then leaned closer to inspect the page. Where the several droplets of ink had faded away, the spot on the page appeared paler, brighter...

Heart hammering with excitement, he took the bottle of ink and spilled half of its contents on the blank page, and waited. The ink slowly started to fade, but as it did, the page of the diary seemed to glow. He held the diary in front of his face—it was like looking into a mini television. He could see vague shadow images moving in the square of glowing light.

He brought the diary closer to peer better, the tip of his nose an inch away from touching the glowing page. Suddenly, he felt a powerful tug from the diary. A second later, he felt his face being pulled into the diary, followed by the rest of his body.

It felt as though he were being squeezed through a long, cramped square tunnel. He felt his body twist, felt the air squeezed out of his lungs as flashes of color sped past him. He felt nauseous, and just when he thought he was about to throw up, it suddenly stopped.

Harry opened his eyes and felt the breath knocked out of him. He was no longer sitting in the Gryffindor common room. He was in a small room with a window. A cabinet stood at his left. There was a bed near the window, beside which was a chair.

There was a tattered suitcase on the bed, filled with an assortment of clothes. A handsome boy of eleven was standing over the suitcase, staring at the contents with his dark eyes. Harry's eyebrows shot up in surprise when he realized he was staring at none other than Tom Riddle.

Harry blinked. If it were not for the change of scene, he would have thought that he was in Dumbledore's pensieve. Where was he, inside the diary? Was this Tom Riddle's memory? But before he could ponder any further, Harry's attention was pulled back to young Tom.

. . .

Tom looked at the suitcase, wondering if he had forgotten to bring anything. Last week, he had visited Diagon Alley (alone) and bought all of his school supplies. All of his new school supplies, from his books to his robes, had to be bought second hand. The only thing that was brand new was his wand.

At the thought of his new wand, a grin spread across his face. He opened the cabinet and took out a long, slender box. Sitting on his bed, he opened the box and took out his wand.

"Thirteen and a half inches, yew, phoenix feather core—a strong wand, I must say." The wand maker, Mr. Ollivander, had said. His words had filled Tom with glee—a strong wand for him! His magic had to be strong if a strong wand had chosen him for its master!

For several minutes Tom sat on his bed, admiring the new wand in his hand. He twirled it with his fingers, imagining the things he would be able to do once he was properly educated at Hogwarts. He knew he would do wonderful and amazing things, things that would make people praise and even admire him.

Once at Hogwarts, he would also find out what happened to his father. If his father was still alive somewhere in the wizarding world, Tom was more than determined to find him. For a moment, he imagined what his father must have been like—magical like him, yes. Was his Father strong, too? He had to be. If he wasn't, then, of course, Tom wouldn't be strong. For an instant, he imagined what his father's reaction would be once Tom found him. Surprised? Yes. Happy? Of course.

Grinning broadly, he put the wand back in its box, placed it on top of his pile of clothes, and snapped the suitcase closed. Tomorrow, he would take the Hogwarts Express, and finally be in the place he was meant to be—Hogwarts.

-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-

This is my first Harry Potter fanfic revolving around Tom, and I need to know...how was it? I tried to keep Tom in character as much as possible—I'm finding eleven-year old Voldy quite difficult to write, so please tell me if anything's OOC (though there's not much of him in this chapter).