Folie à Deux
Cherish the lies that you bought
Charming delusions gone crack in the fire
I know we might be mediocre
I know nothing's on fire
Confidence fell through the hole in your pocket
The simple's illogical so it be logic
I'm caught in the diaries with all your complaining
The curious scribblings of one who has everything
~ Unholy, Dirty and Beautiful - © David Usher
There was one paticular lesson that Tom Riddle had learned at Hogwarts that stood out in his mind, no matter when. The lesson was "always surprise your opponent". Something that a Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher by the name of Drell Wagnid had always told him. And after all, the man exercised that principle well. He had been the favourite teacher of nearly everyone at Hogwarts during the fourteen years he had taught there, a year expanse from 1925 to 1939. Of course, he had left two years prior to the Chamber of Secrets being opened. That had disappointed Tom Riddle a small bit, knowing that his favourite teacher was not there to witness his triumph. Of course, the ex-professor Wagnid had heard about it. Everyone in the wizarding world with a child at Hogwarts had learned about the Chamber of Secrets and the havor that its creature had wreaked when let loose. But the mere event of opening up a chamber that allowed a Muggle-born killing animal loose was nothing compared to Wagnid's works. After all, the man was the feared Dark Lord of the time - Grindelwald. But not many knew that. It was one of the many secrets that had passed between him and Slytherin's heir.
Why had Wagnid befriended him? Possibly because he could see the power that young Riddle held in him, perhaps he knew what the child could become? This question had never occurred to Tom Riddle and quite frankly, he didn't care about it. The teacher had been thirty-two when he arrived and was the Head of Slytherin House. To some, this presented a humorous paradox. To some, out right suspicion. Of course, they had good to be suspicious of Wagnid. He had attended Durmstrang, so why was he teaching at Hogwarts and not there? That was the main question. One that had raised suspicions about the man. Some also found it suspicious that he had left right before the war started, not only in the Muggle world but in the magical world as well.
Grindelwald was their world's parallel to Hitler. The Muggle-borns were their world's parallel to the Jewish. Of course the war ended the same way for the Muggles and the wizards. The evil dictator was defeated and the people he had deemed unworthy were no longer persecuted. Of course, while defeat spelled out Hilter's own suicide, it spelled out a set-back for Grindelwald. A set-back in his quest for immortality. After his protégé graduated from Hogwarts, the former professor sought him out and taught him. Taught him of the darkest spells, the blackest magicks and many more things. The boy had hung onto his every word, like a child who was listening to a respected and admired uncle. That's what it was, in some twisted way. Riddle was the true Heir of Slytherin, the one who would finish the task Salazar had set out on. Grindelwald, while not being the heir, was also a descendant of the Snake Lord.
This had a hand in forming the kinship between the two. There were many similarities in their personalities and Riddle often looked upon his favoured teacher as the father he had never had. And Wagnid - Grindelwald - looked upon the boy as a son. Of course, that was probably the point in time that began to turn him into what he was today.
But then again, one was never quite sure when the darkness had begun to rise up in Riddle and take control of him.
13 August, 1995
The Riddle House
Severus Snape Apparated into the main hall. He stopped to straighten his robes and looked around him. There were clearly outlined footsteps on the ground, trailed through the years of dust that lay covering the marble floor. His own had made a slight clacking sound against the floor when he had arrived. He looked around for others, but the soft chatter that drifted into the vaulted room was from another place. Presumably where the source of light was coming from. He pulled the gleaming mask over his face and headed for the room. He had dug the mask out from its place in a bottom drawer in his attic the minute he had returned home from Hogwarts. This was the first time he had felt the Mark burn on his arm since that June night last term, when Diggory was killed and the Dark Lord had been reborn. The Potions Master had been both expecting and dreading when the Mark would burn once more and bring him back before the people who regarded him as the traitor he was. He knew that he would have his work cut out for him, trying to convince them that he was still "one of them". Footsteps resounded against the hard floor behind him, but Severus stood still. It was something of an exercise in trust among Death Eaters, not turning around when one of your own approached you from behind. Severus found this quite annoying, as he was quite fond of knowing who was sneaking up behind him.
"Welcome, Severus," a hand landed on his shoulder as the voice proclaimed the greeting. Automatically, without the aid of turning, Severus knew it was Lucius Malfoy. The voice was easily recognizable - all the arrogance of his lineage complete with superiority. Severus allowed himself to be led into a room that was adjacent to the hall, one that was more clean and recently used. Upon entry, he recognized many of his former "friends" from school. Some of them had been in his year, but the majority of the ones present were older than him. It was easy to, even in the masks. And at the front of the room was the most recognizable of them all, the only one without a mask on.
"Now, Severus, you have quite a bit of explaining to do," Lucius continued as he led Severus closer to the front of the room where the Dark Lord sat.
Lord Voldemort looked the same as he had thirteen and a half years ago, before he had fool-hardedly gone after the Potters on the prophecy of Adrienne Lestrange. The prophecy that had led him to his downfall. Severus still privately wondered if she had even made a real prophecy, or if it was all bollocks. His eyes still held the red glow of coals, but Severus could remember a time when they didn't. In fact, he remembered his first few days as a Death Eater, when Marius Lestrange, Adrienne's husband, had convinced him to become one of them. At his first meeting, the Dark Lord had looked like a normal person, though extremely tall and skeletally thin, with black hair and pale skin. However, the second meeting, he had changed and the fifteen-year-old Severus Snape had to physically keep himself from running out the door of the abandoned house in Hogsmeade and straight into his dorm room.
"I am well aware of that, Lucius," Severus replied, using the same cutting tone he often employed when reprimanding his students. However, the tone that had upset children did very little to harm the emotions - or lack, thereof - of the head of the Malfoy family.
"Of course, the Master is very interested in why you could not join our little gathering a few weeks ago," Lucius continued, as they approached the throne-like chair the wizard in question sat upon. Severus could almost see the smirk on the elder man's pale, pointed face.
Lord Voldemort turned his face to Severus, his coal-red eyes surveying the rogue Death Eater silently. His expression was impassive and Severus privately wondered if the Dark Lord was capable of facial expression. However, this was soon proven wrong as a sinister smile shaped the Dark Lord's lipless mouth.
"Lucius, leave us," he commanded in a soft, icy voice. Severus stiffened his body, remembering not to give into the shivers that crawled their way up his back when the Dark Lord spoke. He would never betray weakness to this - this - thing. Severus kept silent as the Dark Lord's eyes bored into his own black ones, trying to seek the truth in his mind. Fully aware of the Dark Lord's abilities, Severus had concocted a potion to take before every meeting. It had been one of Dumbledore's own inventions, a potion with the capacity to block mind-readers. And although he wasn't sure, Severus had a sneaking suspicion that the Dark Lord had this ability. Therefore, he took the potion, which enabled the mind-reader to only learn of what the person wanted them to know.
Lord Voldemort nodded slightly, satisfied by what he had learned. However, he was going to make Severus tell him exactly what he had just learned from the Potions Master's mind.
"Where were you when I summoned?" inquired the Dark Lord, thrumming his fingers on the arm of the chair. A quick glance in that direction caused Severus to spot the Dark Lord's pet, a large snake by the name of Nagini. He quickly returned his eyes to the Dark Lord, who found it to be a sign of weakness when someone was not looking at him when they were speaking to him.
"I was at the Triwizard Tournament, my Lord," Severus said, adopting a tone he used less often. One of perfect obedience, a tone that had not been used in a long time.
"As was Karkaroff," replied Voldemort. There was a hiss from Nagini at this and the snake began to slither its way up the chair to twine around its master's arm.
"I know, but unlike he, I was beside someone who could have put us all in serious jeopardy, my Lord," Severus covered silkily. It was true, of course. He had been sitting right next to Dumbledore when he felt the Mark burn.
"Ahh, yes," Voldemort nodded, "you were seated next to that Mudblood-loving fool, Dumbledore."
"And leaving right at that moment, right after he had found out Harry Potter had disappeared, would have been very hazardous," Severus continued.
The Dark Lord paused for a moment and silence hung in the balance between the two of them. Then, the Dark Lord nodded.
Severus almost sighed with relief, before remembering to keep himself in check. That, and the Dark Lord's next words.
"However, Severus," here the Dark Lord paused, to make his next words more effective, "you will be watched closely. And if I hear any word of betrayal by yourself, you will face the utmost punishment."
"Of course, my Lord," Severus said, bowing slightly as he withdrew to where some others were standing. As he did so, he realized that silence had fallen around the room. That, and the Death Eaters were now forming a circle. Severus took his own space, beside Walden Macnair.
He had avoided the worst now, that was certain. He was accepted back, but not fully. There was still suspicion, but within time, he would find some way to overcome that and gain the needed information to Dumbledore. Turning his attention away from his task, Severus looked to the Dark Lord, who was rising out of his chair. The Dark Lord paused as he got up, almost as if he were to collapse back into his chair. Perhaps he was still weakened from getting his body back, mused Severus. However, the moment of weakness passed as quickly as it had come.
Voldemort stepped forward and placed his hand in his pocket. There was a stillness in the air, as if everyone in the room was holding their breath. Withdrawing his hand from the pocket of his dark robes, there was a small black object clutched in the long fingered hand of the Dark Lord. The Dark Lord paused, a smirk playing across his face once more.
"Bring in Karkaroff," he ordered and immediately, the aforementioned former Death Eater was dragged in by Amadeus Crabbe and Jareth Goyle. The two flung him on the ground in the middle of the circle where he immediately scrambled to his feet, a look of pure terror on his face.
"Now, Igor," the Dark Lord began, as if this were just a pleasant conversation over an evening cup of tea, "we are very upset with you, you realize."
Karkaroff did not reply, but his eyes darted around the circle of masked wizards, looking for an escape route. He found none and slumped slightly, like a man knowing he was going to die. Which, of course, he was.
"However, at the moment, I have more pressing matters," continued Voldemort, almost lazily. He reached into his other pocket and pulled out a quill. The tip was dark with ink and Severus took this to mean that the quill was enchanted to have a never-ending supply of ink. Karkaroff started, surprised at this. Severus was surprised too, no one who betrayed Voldemort got off this easily.
Voldemort opened the small black object and spread it flat on his palm. Severus could now see that it was a diary. But what would the Dark Lord need with a diary? That was the question that confused Severus. It baffled him until he remembered the second year that Potter boy had been at Hogwarts. There had been business about the Weasley girl - Ginny - and a diary of some sort. That and the Chamber of Secrets. Severus started and narrowed his eyes, his attention focused on the diary as Voldemort wrote something in it quickly with the quill.
The Dark Lord let the quill fall from his fingers as he reached back into his pocket to pull out his wand. There seemed to be an air of confusion among the Death Eaters now; what was their master doing? Voldemort held the diary out in front of him and pressed the tip of his wand to the open pages.
"Dono Vivificus!" called the Dark Lord and a bright light shone from where his wand and the diary met. The light travelled up the Dark Lord's arm and consumed his body. A wind was whipping up around the room and some of the Death Eaters were moving uneasily and some were even talking in worried tones. The wind seemed to form a vortex around the Dark Lord. The vortex was glowing with an unearthly light and the form of the Dark Lord wasn't even visible anymore, just a writhing form of light.
Then, just as suddenly as the swirling, glowing vortex had appeared, it was gone. And in place of the Dark Lord was a teenage boy. The diary fell in front of him to the ground, making the smallest of noises. A murmer went through the crowd of the Death Eaters as the boy picked up Voldemort's fallen wand. A cruel smile played on his lips as he surveyed the man in front of him.
"Now, where were we?" he inquired softly, raising his wand and pointing it at Karkaroff, "Oh, yes. Crucio."
Insantly Karkaroff fell to the floor, twisting and writhing in a thoroughly unnatural way. Severus winced behind his mask at the pain of one of his old friends. However, the boy ignored him and his red eyes flickered around the masked faces in the circle. He didn't say anything, but simply stood there as the Headmaster of Durmstrange writhed at his feet in excruciating pain.
"What do we do now, my Lord?" came the voice of Lucius Malfoy.
Severus narrowed his eyes at the teenage boy that stood at the head of the circle in the place of the Dark Lord. The boy looked to be around the same age as Lucius's son and had black hair that made his pale skin even paler. Of course, his eyes stood out the most as they were a bright crimson colour.
"Patience, Lucius, patience." the dark-haired boy said, ignoring the screams of pain from Karkaroff.
"Why must we wait?" inquired another Death Eater.
The boy fixed his blood-red gaze upon the masked wizard that had spoken, "Because, Nott, I am Lord Voldemort. And what I say, you do."
For indeed, the boy was who Severus had suspected he was. Tom Marvolo Riddle stood at the head of the circle, watching Karkaroff die a slow, painful death in front of him.