CHAPTER ONE OF ASHES TO ASHES
"SPEECH LOOKS LIKE THIS."
'THOUGHTS LOOK LIKE THIS.'
FLASHBACKS AND DREAMS LOOK LIKE THIS.
Hogwarts was, and still is, one of the most respected and prominent psychiatric institution in all of Europe – if not the whole world – and Harry Potter, age 23, was determined to work there. This was why he was heading there this very moment to interview for a possible job opening. He had always been fascinated by the hospital, ever since he was a young boy when his late parents would take him to visit their friend – and his godfather – the legally insane Sirius Black or as the papers and the masses would like to call him, The Grim. Harry had always loved his godfather, even after he had committed crimes and deemed insane, he had always been a playful man – he just had… a severe case of split personality and the nurses at Hogwarts seemed to understand that as well. Especially the Head Nurse – Madame Pomfrey - who was a bit strict, but kind, and in her own way grandmotherly.
She had always snuck Sirius some extra cookies, Harry thought idly, as he walked up the stone path leading to the main entrance of the hospital. He wondered if she still worked there… He hadn't been to the hospital in nearly eight years, not since his godfather had suddenly died. It had been like a black veil had come sweeping Sirius away and into Death's arms, it was so sudden. Sirius had not been a sickly man – ignoring his mental health – he was a very healthy man to be honest and quite the looker according to the gossiping staff. Sirius had always been fit and muscular, even in a mental institution he had not withered away, there was nothing to have hinted of his sudden death. But the fact remained, he had died. It was as simple as that, and he wasn't coming back no matter how much Harry wanted him to.
He supposed, although it was a rather dark thing to think, he was grateful that Sirius had died so early and so suddenly. Harry knew that if Sirius had not died he would not of had devoted himself to studying, he would of not had won such a fantastic scholarship that brought him out of his abusive relative's house to an amazing private academy, nor would he have met Hermione and her dork of a boyfriend – now his best mate – Ron. After his parents had died in a car crash when he was six he had been in the care of his Aunt's family – his mother's jealous little sister – and he had suffered greatly. He remembered they had not even come to the funeral and had merely picked him up from the lawyers' office only to stuff him into a broom cupboard under the stairs when they had arrived at the house. It had been dark and cramped - nothing at all like Harry was used to – and they treated him like a slave. At first he had complained but he soon learned that it was better off to adapt to it. Better be ignored than be beaten, he had thought.
Things got better once he turned eleven. He was moved into Dudley's – his whale of a cousin – second bedroom because he was just much too big to fit in a cupboard anymore, that sounds rather horrible but Harry was happy that his Aunt and Uncle even noticed that he was getting too big for such a small space. And that wasn't all that had changed, he was also going into different schools from his cousin, who had always bullied him and had scared any friends Harry had miraculously made. Everything was looking up in Harry's opinion at that time. Although the school he would be going to was the lowest of lowest in public education, it was also the closest school to Hogwarts. This meant that Harry could easily go visit Sirius after school. He hadn't seen him since he was six – that was five years ago. The first day of school was also the first day Harry got to see Sirius after his parents had died and he had cried into his Godfathers arms. For a while Harry had lived quietly - drawing little to no attention to himself. He did minimal on his school work, visited his godfather as much as possible, and just went by. Then Sirius died just before his sixteenth birthday. He had thought that happiness must've hated him.
He devoted himself to studying, anything to forget - anything to distract himself. It paid off in the end, he had gotten a full ride scholarship to Europe's finest medical college, graduated early and had gotten to work for a little more than an year at a small – but – renowned clinic. He would have stayed there, it was a nice place to work, but Harry had always loved Hogwarts. He supposed it was somewhat of a childhood dream he had concerning Hogwarts. And that's how he found himself today, in an interview with Albus Dumbledore – the director of Hogwarts.
"Harry, my dear boy, it is good to see you again. My, how long has it been?" Albus Dumbledore was just as how he had last seen him. White haired and wrinkled, with that same long beard, and of course – he still wore the same half-moon spectacles.
Harry was sure it was a rhetorical question, but he felt the need to answer him anyway, "It's been eight years, sir."
"Eight years? Has it really been that long? My, time sure does seem to fly by these days." Harry watched him rack his fingers through his beard and idly wondered just how old Albus Dumbledore really was. "But pleasantries aside my boy, I'm happy to say that Hogwarts would be delighted to have you amongst our staff."
"Really, Sir, You mean I got the job?" Harry couldn't believe his luck, not even ten minutes into his interview and he had the job?
Dumbledore chuckled, "Yes Harry, you're hired."
"I'm sorry Harry, I know you start officially next week, but one of our nurses has gotten into an accident and cannot work it seems. You are the only one qualified to do his work though, I am afraid. Could you come to work today? "
That was what Dumbledore had told him, so he had thought it was some kind of top level… well… nursing thing… not to play maid and bring some patient in an isolated cell dinner! Well maybe, he shouldn't be taking this too lightly.
'I mean, the patient is in an isolated cell for a reason. Someone with a degree in nursing and psychiatry would be perfect to take care of said patient. But still! I can't believe I'm playing maid of all things at my dream job.'
Harry knew he must've been pouting, but he could care less, it wasn't like there was anyone up at this level to see him pouting anyways. Ah, but it wasn't good to face a patient with a pout, especially if that patient was in isolation. There must've been a good reason for one to be put in such a place after all.
'Not like Dumbledore would tell me much about him in the first place besides his name and to be weary of him.'
"The patient I want you to tend to is Tom Riddle. He's currently in an isolated cell on floor six. I must warn you, he is a dangerous fellow. Be wary of him. I only want you to tend to him temporarily. I'm currently looking into finding a permanent replacement as we speak."
The elevator chimed and opened, telling him that he had arrived at the sixth floor, he walked out slowly – rolling the cart of food along with him. Whoever this Tom Riddle was he sure did get nice food, it was better than Harry's own dinner even, but then again, he supposed Hogwarts had always served great food – he remembered his lunches with Sirius – yup, they had always served the best.
'Ah here we are… Now, let's see… Dumbledore said that I need to merely swipe my keycard here,' he swiped the card on the small machine connected to the door, 'and punch in this key sequence… 0…0…0…1…2…0…0…'
The door swung open, revealing a man in a white security uniform, he merely nodded at him before once again staring silently at the wall in front of him. Harry raised an eyebrow but said nothing and made his way to room sixty-two where Tom Riddle would be.
The door was plain… and white… just like the rest of floor six was. It was vastly different from the rest of Hogwarts, which was rich in color. It had once been a castle, Hogwarts that is, before it was turned into a psychiatric institution.
Sixty-two it read, in big bold black letters. He let out a breath he didn't know he was holding before knocking gently and keying in to the door.
'Mister Tom Riddle, according to Dumbledore, you are very dangerous and I need to be weary of you. I wonder, are you muscular or something…?'
Tom Riddle wasn't what Harry had expected. Call him cliché but he had envisioned him to be rugged… hostel looking… maybe some chap that had visible muscles at least. Or at least someone in a strait jacket! That's what patients put into isolated cells usually wore… But the Tom Riddle in front of him was clean cut, had a pleasant smile on his face, looked anything but hostel, and no matter how he looked at him he was a lithe teenage boy! He wasn't even in a strait jacket, he had obviously been reading before Harry had come in if the book in his hand was anything to go by.
"Good evening," Riddle murmured, "Is Dumbledore sending in teens to look after me now?" There was no malice in his voice, just faint amusement, as if he could really see Dumbledore sending in teens to him. What made it kind of worse was that Harry could also see Dumbledore doing just that type of thing as well. Dumbledore could be a bit unorthodox at times.
"I assure you, although I look like this, I am twenty-three. You look fairly young yourself, how old are you?"
"I'm eighteen, but you should've already known this, I presume you've read the file on me?" At Harry's wavering look, the boy smirked ever so slightly, "No? Well, did Dumbledore finally loose his marbles? Not is he only sending in teens-"
"- but someone that isn't even properly briefed on my yet."
Was it just him or did Riddle's eyes just flash red?
'Idiot, there's no way someone's eyes would flash red…' Harry chided himself, 'but still, I could've sworn his eyes went red for a second there…'
Riddle quirked an eyebrow at him, as if he knew just what was running through Harry's mind, he looked like he wanted to say something – but stopped himself and merely hummed. He walked over to the table at the side of the room and laid his book down, "Will you be joining me for dinner?"
Harry could feel both of his eyebrows rising - he couldn't tell if Riddle was being polite or if he actually meant that. "No, sorry, I'm just here to-"
"-deliver the food and not socialize with Mister Riddle," Harry jumped in the air about a mile as he heard the voice through the intercom.
"Pity," Riddle said shrugging, seemingly not fazed at all, "I do enjoy having company from time to time."
"If you are done, Mister Potter, Director Dumbledore is calling for you," once again the voice from the intercom said.
"Then you must hurry then, Mister Potter," Harry did not like the way Riddle said his name, it sent weird tingling shivers up his spine, "Director-" This time Harry could clearly see the red shinning in Riddle's eyes "-Dumbledore," he all but hissed, "is calling for you." Riddle wasn't looking at him, but past him - it seemed - at the door behind him.
Harry nodded, "Have a pleasant meal then." He turned and noticed the lighted red sign that read exit above the door, 'of course, it had been a reflection from the sign. There's no way a person's eyes can change colors like that, how thickheaded of me.'
Yet he couldn't help but think that Tom Riddle would've looked quite fetching even with glowing red eyes.
Tom Riddle hummed, "Tell Dumbledore I wish to speak to him. Tell him I want to talk to him about this Mister Potter," if someone were to see him now they would think he'd been talking to himself but he knew better. He knew this room was wired and taped.
A/N: So... like it? Hate it?