Author's Note: Hey! :) First of all, thanks to everyone who's reading this, and many many special thanks to all of you that have added this to your alerts, and –well, I was not expecting this!- favorites! I love you guys! Also, thanks to machee for being awesome and taking the time to leave a review :)
So, I know the first chapter was ridiculously short and pretty much had nothing in it, but, as I had stated, it was only the prologue.
This chapter may be kiiind of not making-that-much-sense, since the timeline changes somewhere in the middle. Also, a lot more characters will be introduced and developed as the story proceeds, and of course, so will the plot. Still, the story is beginning.
The timelines are a little altered by me when it comes to some book characters, that is, for example, a few characters are born in a different time than in the books or some events that would normally take place in another time (nothing too serious, actually), to serve the purposes of the story…
Once again, thank you for reading!
(December 30, 1949)
I shuddered, even though the atmosphere was not cold at all. In fact, there was a pleasant warmness within the room, in contrast with the snow dripping outside, while the windows where covered with a thick layer of ice from the outside.
I remembered how I used to love it when it snowed, how I got so over-excited when I woke up in the morning and saw even the tiniest traces of snowflakes dancing in the air, how I wasted no time to wear a warm thick fur coat and run outside with my brother and sister, while the maid yelled that she would be the one to be blamed by father if we got cold.
But now, I could not help but feel depressed because of the cold and wet atmosphere. Thank Merlin the Headmaster had made sure that a small fire would warm the office and make it a very pleasant place to be in.
However, I could not suppress the small shudder that crept up on me. I did not know why I had shuddered, or perhaps I did. What I did know for sure was that I would much rather be anywhere else but here. It had been me, who had made the choice to come here, though, after all these years, and I knew I could not just walk away like that now.
"Miss Lafayette, you do not seem to be comfortable," a gentle voice snapped me out of my miserable thoughts and I lifted my gaze to meet the warm blue eyes of Albus Dumbledore, who was looking at me with concern. "Perhaps it is too cold?"
I nodded negatively, and I took a small breath. The new headmaster was being very kind. He had always been kind and gentle, always there to offer to help you, always willing to find a solution to your problems.
It felt weird, and uncomfortable. I had not been treated gently like that in a long time. I was supposed to be overwhelming that behavior, but it only felt too foreign to me.
"Would you like to have a drink?" he offered, and with a small wave of his wand, a bottle of Firewhiskey and two glasses appeared.
I nodded again, accepting the now full glass of Firewhiskey, even though I had not intended to drink anything. But now, I thought it would only do well for me.
The Headmaster patently waited until I had drunk half the content of the glass, and then I once again fixed my eyes on him. Perhaps, I was supposed to be feeling a little tipsy by now because of drinking that quickly, but I was not. Maybe I had even got used to alcohol.
"Beatrice." I cut him off, maybe more sharply than I had intended. He did not seem to bother though –the only reaction I could see in his face, caused by my tone, was understanding. Again that uncomfortable sensation, of being treated like that. "Just…call me by my name. Beatrice."
Under other circumstances, I would have addressed him as 'Professor', 'Sir' or 'Headmaster'. But now I did not feel like being all too formal with anyone. He only seemed to understand.
"Of course, Beatrice." The last time I had heard my name being spoken, it had certainly not been so calm and with genuine caring. Uncomfortable, once again.
"Thank you," I murmured, and then there was an awkward silence between me and the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. From my part, at least; where I was obviously nervous, stressed and most definitely scared –not of him, but of what would probably follow after our …discussion- , my hands clenching nervously on the fabric of my skirt, his calm blue eyes were looking carefully, yet politely at me, skillfully hiding the curiosity he probably felt.
Then I realized I was supposed to speak. Of course, I had to explain why on earth I had turned up out of the blue, even though I had a feeling that he already knew.
I cleared my throat weakly, as if asking for permission to talk. Then I realized that here, I did not need to ask for permission to speak.
"Professor," I started uncomfortably, now almost regretting having come here. "I… Well… I supposed I need to tell you why I am here…" Now, apologies for coming uninvited were completely unnecessary.
"Beatrice," his voice was, once again, polite and gentle. "I do believe I know why you are here, but I can only be aware of the cause, not the reason."
I gulped. This was getting more and more uncomfortable –for me, at least. I most certainly should not have come here. I should not speak about this. Especially not with Albus Dumbledore. I did not want to think about what could possibly happen to me after I was finished here.
"Perhaps you do," I said, struggling to maintain an even, calm tone. It was not easy. I took a small, raspy breath, and I felt the familiar feeling of insecurity and fear for what would happen if…
"I really shouldn't have come," I uttered in a trembling voice. "I… Perhaps I should leave. I must leave… Just… I really should not be here," I continued, my voice cracking, and I attempted to stand up and leave as fast as I could, before making things even more complicated. How on earth had I thought this would help?
"Beatrice, please, calm down," Dumbledore's concerned voice prevented me from doing so. I looked at the Headmaster, and he did look concerned. Obviously, I looked like a mess. "Of course you did well by coming here. All you want is help; I am beyond willing to help anyone who seeks for it. We are all human beings, we are all in need of help at some time; Beatrice, do not be afraid of wanting to be helped."
I was not afraid to ask for help, but maybe that was not what he meant exactly. I was afraid though, I was afraid of what would happen next, I was afraid of my own actions, as well.
I had no idea how the next words came out of my mouth. I just heard myself saying them, without fully understanding what I had just spoken. "He will not know about this, right? He must now know about this, you mustn't tell him!"
'He' what? I was more than just sure that he knew exactly who I was referring to. Perhaps I should clarify it, though.
"Tom," I replied after a small breath. I had not said that name in quite a long time. He hated being called that name. I knew it. I never used it. I was forbidden to, everyone was. But now, it just rolled out of my tongue.
He nodded. "He will not know of this, Beatrice," he said. "If you do not wish so, then he will not."
Another few moments of silence.
"Why don't you want Tom to know you are here, Beatrice?" he asked me, seriously, yet caringly.
"That is why I am here. I… I really need to talk about it… To someone… It's just… I really have to, but he…" I paused. "He doesn't… But he was never like… But I didn't… And now he… I just can't…" before I knew it, I was crying, unable to carry on with my completely irrelevant outburst that made absolutely no sense. Tears were rolling freely down a familiar path down my cheeks.
(December 20, 1945)
"Bea! Will you wake up?"
I groaned as I felt my sister's hand on my shoulder, shaking me back and forth in an attempt to make me get out of bed. I pulled the covers further up, showing her that I wanted nothing to do with her at the moment, only wanted her to let me sleep some more. It was a day free of classes; after all, it was Christmas vacation, even though pretty much no one had left Hogwarts this year.
The reason was mainly the grant event of the year, the Tri-Wizard Tournament, that was taking place that year, and, of course, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was hosting it, welcoming the students of Beauxbattons and Durmstrang. My sister, cousins and I were beyond simply excited to be among the Beauxbattons students, since it was as if we were back home again.
"Just get up! Bea!"
"Go away, Corinne!" I growled under the covers as I placed my arms all over my head in order to prevent her from pulling the blanket away. Whoever invented young sisters should definitely be locked alone in a dark room until he decided to make them disappear.
"Will you wake up?" my annoying fourteen year old sister insisted, and I wished she could just leave. The bed was too warm and cozy to leave. "I just received a letter from Dad!"
At the sound of these words, my wish to transform Corinne into something smaller and less annoying, perhaps an insect, immediately vanished. I pulled the thick covers down and sat up, suppressing a yawn and moving my hair away from my face, only to see my sister sitting on the mattress next to me, holding a folded parchment in her left hand.
"From Dad?" I asked, smiling, and she nodded, handing me the letter. It had been almost a month since our father had last written us, and this year we wanted correspondence with him more than ever; mostly because this year, we would not go home to celebrate with our family. We had preferred to stay at Hogwarts, as pretty much everyone had, since the Tri-Wizard Tournament and the Yule Ball was something we most definitely did not want to miss.
"He also sent some chocolates, a pair of gloves and a fur coat for me, a broach and a formal dress for you, and a pair of diamond earrings for Danielle. Uncle and Aunt will send their gifts next week, said Danielle."
Danielle was our cousin, she was at the same year with me, that is our sixth year in Hogwarts. She too had chosen to attend Hogwarts –or, to be precise, she had wanted to come along when Corinne and I had moved with our family in Britain, deciding to keep our manor at France as a place to go for vacation. Aunt and Uncle were not quite pleased with their daughter's decision, since they were determined not to leave their birthplace, France, and the rest of the family, but my and Corinne's persuasion had proven to be quite effective.
"He sent a dress? Where is it?"
"I've kept in my dorm, you can come later to take it. I've not seen it yet, but I bet it will be stunning, just like everything Dad gets us!" Corinne said with a smile. "Danielle received a letter from Aunt Bridget today, as well, saying that they're having a great time in Bourges, being all together…"
"Wait, Dad has gone to France?"
"Yes, he left two days ago… He didn't want to spend Christmas alone, since we're staying here, so he will be staying with Aunt and Uncle until January 3rd… I guess he'll-"
"Bea! Bea, you won't believe it, only a few moments ago, I- oh… Umm…Hey, Corinne," my best friend, Gwen, had just stormed inside the dorm, where only my sister and I were, obviously having expected to find me alone, eager to tell me about something that had just happened to her –and by the look at her face, I could easily guess that it wasn't something, but a certain someone.
"Well, umm, I will… leave, if you want…" Corinne started awkwardly, turning her gaze to me. My younger sister never felt much comfortable when being around students older than her, most of all my closest friends, which I never really understood.
Only a few moments later, Corinne was out of the dorm, leaving me and Gwen alone. My friend immediately ran straight to my bed, wasting no time in sitting on the mattress next to me, a huge smile painted across her face.
"Guess what happened!" she exclaimed excitedly, and I once again tried to suppress a yawn, caused by being "brutally" woken up by my sister.
"What?" I smiled, although I thought I already knew the answer to that.
"Guess who asked me to the Yule Ball!" she insisted, her smile only growing wider while the seconds passed by.
I grinned widely as well; after all, it was no secret –to me, at least, that my best friend had a really bad crush on the Slytherin Quidditch Captain, Ralph McCrery, who seemed to be sharing those feelings for quite some long time now.
"So, you're telling me you're going to the Ball with Ralph!"
She nodded, excitedly, and I couldn't help but feel excited for her, too. Sometimes, Gwen's joy was just too easy to be transmitted to another.
After a few minutes of listening to how excited and eager she was, I was finally asked the question I had so many times been asked before by –not only- her.
"So, who are you going with?" she asked with a small smirk, maybe expecting me to blush and have your typical reaction to a question like this. But, I only shrugged, as if I didn't care that much, even though I knew I should really find someone to go to the Yule Ball with, before there was no one left single.
"I don't know."
"Wait… Nobody has asked you to go with him?"
"Well, I have had some offers…" I started, remembering how hard it had been to make some idiots understand that there was no way I would go with them. Sometimes, boys can be really annoying.
"And you denied them all?"
"Why? Do you have anyone specific in mind?"
"Well… No… I guess I'll wait until someone decent asks me to go with him…" I shrugged, and jumped off bed to put on my clothes. Really, I didn't want to occupy my mind with the terrifying concepts of walking into the Ballroom alone. In fact, I was almost sure that, in the end, I would find someone good enough to go with. After all, I knew that there were quite a lot Slytherin boys that would never say no to the opportunity of taking me to the Ball; I was the daughter of a respective, French pureblood family, after all, and I did think I looked quite beautiful when I wanted to, as well.
"Okay… I'm going to the Great Hall for breakfast, I'm starving, will you come?" Gwen asked once I put on my skirt, and I nodded.
"I think I'll stay in the common room, to finish that essay Slughorn told us to do during Christmas holiday… I want to be done with it, and have the next week clear."
"Alright," she said. "But when you're done, you'll come and help me decide what to wear at the Yule Ball!"
"Don't you think it's a little too early to start worrying about your dress yet?" I asked while buttoning my shirt.
"Of course not!" she exclaimed. "I want to make sure I'll be perfect!"
"Of course… You can't let Ralph down…"
"Alright, alright," I smiled, and gave her a fake punch on the shoulder. "I'll help you pick out something fabulous once I'm done with the essay."
"Thanks," she grinned, and then was out of the dorm.
Once I was dressed with a plain button-up shirt and a grey skirt, I grabbed my potions book and the parchment with my already half-finished essay on it, and headed to the common room to finally get it done.
When I got there, the common room was empty –well, except for two students that were sitting down on the carpet, discussing about something I couldn't hear, both with an amused smile across their faces, as if talking about something really funny.
It took me only a second to realize that it was Tom Riddle and Charlotte Harpe, the two most popular students in Slytherin, and perhaps the whole school. One did not have to spend too much time wondering why there were so well known among the students –and not only.
Tom Riddle was the guy every girl wanted to be with and every guy secretly, or sometimes not so secretly, wanted to be like. He was extremely handsome and attractive, he was the best student in the entire school, had top grades in every class he took, he had been honored by the school officials many times in the past, he was Head Boy, he was polite, and he had the most charming smile I had ever seen on a guy.
Charlotte was the girl every guy wanted to be with, and every girl wanted to be like, although many did not admit it and simply called her a slut. I knew I had many times trash talked her behind her back, but I never bothered to take it back, since I was positive that she too loved to gossip about everyone behind their backs. But the fact that she wad drop-dead gorgeous, with her long auburn hair falling in waves around her perfect face and her flawless curvaceous body, and also that she was a good student, with most of her grades being very high, didn't help things at all.
She always made sure that her skirt was a bit shorter than the other girls', though, and her shirt was never buttoned all the way up. I knew, just like any other girl, that boys always went after girls like that, but no one else seemed to have the guts to wear something more revealing.
Many had thought that Tom and Charlotte were together, and, admittedly, they were the perfect couple. They were both extremely good looking and they were both smart and popular, but, whenever one of the two was being asked on the subject, they denied it without any further comments. Nobody actually believed that there was not any romantic relationship between them, but when another fairly handsome Slytherin seemed to be the interest of Charlotte, the rumors were temporarily ceased.
However, when Charlotte had stopped seeing her flirt, everyone had once again started talking about how she could have broken up because of a small affair she might be carrying with Tom.
I sat down on one of the huge armchairs, covered with dark green velvet, and I opened my book and started writing my essay, when I realized that Charlotte had stood up after noticing me.
"Hello Beatrice," she greeted with a small, perhaps fake smile painted across her face, and I nodded. Of course, she pretended to be nice to me.
"Hey," I greeted back, and I knew one small part of me hoped that Tom would say "hi" too. Even though I knew there was absolutely no chance of something to happen between us in a romantic way, I could not deny that the concept of hanging out with Tom Riddle was more than just appealing. However, even though I had many friends who admired me, I knew that he was too 'high-class' for me.
"Well, I am going to the Great Hall," Charlotte said, and I could tell she was not speaking to me, so I turned my gaze to my essay once again and tried to focus on it. Obviously, I had ruined Charlotte's moment of being alone with Tom. "Are you coming?" she asked him, and I definitely expected to see them walk out of the common room together.
"No, I'm sorry," Tom replied, and I could not help lifting my gaze to look at him. He was smiling apologetically to Charlotte, who had frowned. "I have two essays to do, and I have not even started yet. I'm usually not late for my work, but I guess it's because of Christmas…" he smiled to her, and I knew that, if I was Charlotte at the moment, I would have melt because of that smile. Yes, he had smiled at me many times before, but mostly due to being polite, and when helping me with homework; never like that.
"Alright," Charlotte agreed, and I could tell she was disappointed by Tom's response. Without saying anything else, she turned around and left the common room, her red curls flowing behind her.
Once Tom and I were alone in the common room, I pretended to be writing my essay, but I really could not focus enough to do it. I felt rather awkward, with him sitting at the other corner, absorbed in his own piece of work, barely seeming to have noticed me.
Only when he lifted his gaze I realized I had been staring at him, because I quickly turned my eyes away and felt my cheeks flush red due to embarrassment. But, before I did so, I was sure I had seen him smile slightly.
"Having problems with your essay?" he asked and stood up, walking closer to where I was sitting.
"No, I just cannot concentrate enough today," I replied, struggling to sound as casual as he.
"It's for Slughorn, I guess," he commented, and I looked up at him. He was still smiling, and he was annoyingly perfect, as always.
I nodded. "Yours?" I asked, feeling my senses almost abandoning me when he sat next right next to me, on the armchair's low back. Even though I had dated and kissed many boys in the past, right now I felt extremely awkward and clumsy because of a boy sitting close to me.
"For Dumbledore," he replied casually. Thankfully, he didn't seem to notice my nervousness. "He also said we should practice on re-appearing small mammals but I thought I'd better start with the essay first. The practice part is ridiculously easy."
"Oh… Dumbledore hasn't given us any work for Transfiguration… Only Slughorn has…"
See, it isn't that bad! He says something, you say something too. It's called a conversation, I told myself, while struggling to control my absurd blushing.
I have many times thought that, aren't witches and wizards supposed to have instinct? An annoying but wise inner voice that will keep shouting in their heads when they should avoid something? If I had one of those, it would have definitely been screaming to me to stand up and end this conversation. But, unfortunately, I had no inner voices of that kind back then.