In which Trotsky calls in his favor, Lily contemplates the future, and Rabbit brings up a very legitimate point.
It was six o' clock in the morning on a Saturday in early October.
The streets of Hogsmeade were filled with a dense early morning fog and none of the stores would open for several hours. The streetlamps glowed softly, atmospheric as everything in the village, but were too dim to disperse either the fog or the chill permeating the air.
And though it was not a Hogsmeade Weekend, though Lily had been explicitly forbidden from leaving the castle after Slughorn learned she'd snuck out for a date with Rabbit at Madame Puddifoot's, Lily and Rabbit stood just outside Honeyduke's.
For once, she was dressed for the weather, having abandoned her Hogwarts uniform for a heavier jacket, thicker stockings, and a woolen skirt. She stared out into the empty street, the only true street in the village, and waited.
This wasn't a new feeling, she had been waiting, for one thing or another, for weeks now. Ever since that day in September when she'd handed Pettigrew along with her hopes, dreams, and tentative faith over to Kingsly Shacklebolt.
Hogwarts was very quiet. As if it too was now holding its breath and waiting to see what would happen.
She'd had several detentions with Slughorn, courtesy of her unsanctioned Hogsmeade weekend, but they'd been tame things spent mostly making chit chat with Slughorn. They discussed her homework, her improvement upon last year when it came to theory, and how she could improve further by trying not to sound so very dismissive in her essays. Even though, yes, he acknowledged that from her point of view all theory was nonsense as she seemed to break every rule of magic he'd ever heard of in every other class.
Slughorn appeared to have decided, at some point, that he really didn't care what Lily wrote in her essays so long as she continued to produce unparalleled results. If Lily said the rules of magic were wrong, then Merlin bless her. She was fairly certain he no longer read her essays or whatever remarks her other professors left on them. She was also fairly certain he no longer bothered to spend long grading her potions, giving her an O with barely a glance.
They also discussed what it is was she'd like to pursue or do with her life. Slughorn, it seemed, was far more passionate and optimistic about Lily's future than Lily herself was.
To him, it seemed that her graduation date was right around the corner. Blink, and the pair of them would miss it.
He suggested Arithmancy and Runes for her future electives, courses that would give her a leg up in many different disciplines and put her above and beyond the average wizard. Although he didn't say as much, he made it clear that he thought little of either Divination or Care for Magical Creatures.
Lily wouldn't know either way.
She just knew that whatever shape the future took, she was sure that having taken Arithmancy and Runes over other courses would not give her the leg up that Slughorn expected. Whatever the Lily of the future did, wherever she found herself, it was unlikely to be working as an enchantress or for Gringotts.
But then, Lily had a hard time picturing the Lily of the future at all.
Slughorn's weird party, dubbed the Slug Club, had also come and gone.
Lily had naturally brought Rabbit as her plus one and spent the entire evening glued to the punch bowl and appetizers. Hermione had been there, sour and angry and very single, standing by herself in a corner and just daring anyone to try to make small talk with her, but otherwise it had been filled with upperclassmen whose names and faces Lily couldn't place.
It had also been filled with alumni and people to know. One had been a vampire, although one Lily wasn't immediately familiar with. When Lily and he had made eye contact it had gotten a little weird. Although Lily may have never met him in person, it was likely he knew her face.
Thankfully, he hadn't said anything, but had instead quietly left the party, telling Slughorn he had a sick grandmother.
Lily, apparently, was expected to show up at the next Slug Club too.
As for Umbridge, even her memory was gone now. The mysterious detentions assigned by no one, for daring to imply Voldemort had returned, had disappeared. The Weasley Twins realized they weren't that funny, none of the students attended, and no professors enforced it. Lily one day looked around to find that no one was even discussing them anymore. Lupin lectured with confidence and no longer suspected anyone might take issue with his content. The debate over whether Voldemort was back or not still raged, but it was out in the open and with few repercussions.
And Lily alone found it terrifying that a person could slip so easily out of this world.
Otherwise, the dementors remained where they were, Sirius Black had yet to make an appearance though there were strong suspicions he'd make a move on Hogwarts, that he'd come for Ellie Potter, and there was no word from Shacklebolt nor any hint of Pettigrew's fate in the papers.
And all Lily could do was wait.
Attend classes, pretend to be an ordinary girl with ordinary cares, keep an eye on Rabbit and away from the dementors, wait, hope, and see what was to come.
And it struck her, now, that Lily was waiting in a way she'd never waited before.
She'd waited out the Heir of Slytherin in the Dungeon Girl's Bathroom, but that had been different, that had been positively filled with tension and the anticipation that Tom Riddle's possessed victim would make an appearance any moment now.
She'd waited in the past, waited for all the pieces to fall, for a sign to return to the future, but she'd been waiting for an outcome she knew would occur. What happened next was no great mystery to Lily then.
Now, now she was waiting with her breath caught in her throat, and the knowledge that there was nothing more she could do.
It was all out of her hands now.
Sirius Black would either be exonerated or not. Peter Pettigrew would be found guilty or not. And Wizard Lenin, regardless of the outcome, once Shacklebolt made his move then he would know.
He might, in fact, know already if Shacklebolt had dared to trust the wrong people inside the ministry.
But there'd been no word from Wizard Lenin. He had yet to send her a single letter this school year.
She wanted to write him, to get a chance to get a word in before the hammer fell, to just hear him say something to her before everything changed between them. She'd even taken out a piece of parchment to do it, staining the parchment with blotches of indecisive ink. She hadn't sent it.
She'd had no idea what to say, what there was to say. Looking at that blank piece of parchment had emptied her own mind in turn.
More, when he did learn, she was sure he would rather that Lily hadn't pretended that nothing had changed between them. Once Lily gave Pettigrew to Shacklebolt, no, when she'd failed to deliver him to Wizard Lenin immediately, she had made her choice. She had to stand by it, even when he was none the wiser, and wouldn't play him for the fool.
Afterwards, when this was over, then they would see where they landed.
She would see what Wizard Lenin would do when he learned that, in the end, their relationship did have its limits after all.
And, just like that, as if summoned, he appeared out of the ether.
Well, not him, but his evil, unhinged, younger twin certainly did.
Lily was not at all surprised to see that it was Wizard Trotsky wearing his own face that appeared out of the early morning mist, right on schedule. She supposed some part of her had expected him to take Ginny Weasley for a joy ride, but then, he was the sort to want to see her face to face.
What did give her some pause was his smile.
Last Lily had seen his face, this particular Tom Riddle's face, it had been in agony. He had been in that burning brothel, defeated, with Lily abandoning him and staying Wizard Lenin's hand. He had been enraged, afraid, humiliated, and despairing as he watched Lily walk out of his life with no intention of returning.
She'd been Morgan Gaunt then, on a quest to reclaim the self she hadn't even known she'd lost and had no time to contemplate what it would be like to see him again.
She hadn't pictured the fond and tender smile currently on his lips.
Look at him, and what happened between them was entirely forgotten, not even an unpleasant memory to be brushed to the side. While Lily certainly wasn't pleased to see him, was only here because she was a girl of her word, he looked genuinely happy to see her.
And less than happy when his eyes fell on Rabbit.
"Why am I not surprised?" he asked dully as he took Rabbit in.
"You never listed Rabbit's absence in your terms," Lily responded coldly.
Nope, the terms had been delightfully vague, nothing more than meeting Wizard Trotsky here in Hogsmeade at this time and place, and that this would be calling in the favor and afterwards Lily would owe him nothing.
At least, until the next time she desperately required his assistance. (And the smug confidence with which he said that last bit, as if utterly certain that Lily would need him again, had been unbearable.)
"I hadn't realized it was necessary," Trotsky said, looking more than a little peeved.
"Rabbit cannot be left to his own devices," Lily said simply, "If I'm coming then he's coming."
For a moment, it looked as if he dearly wanted to argue, but then he must have realized just how thin the ice he was treading on was. He nodded curtly and held out his hand, clearly intending for her to take it, Lily stared at it flatly.
"Lily, if you don't mind," he prompted.
She continued to stare at it flatly, "Is this the favor?"
He sighed, "If you must know, yes, the favor is simply spending the day with me."
"Doing what?" Lily asked sharply.
He blinked and looked as if she'd thrown him off-kilter and asked something entirely unreasonable, "Nothing in particular, I—I thought we might walk around London a bit, have lunch, that sort of thing."
"I want specifics," Lily hissed, not moving an inch.
He had the gall to look hurt by that, as if he had no earthly idea what he could have possibly done to earn this distrust. He tried to smile, but there was no heart in it, "I could show you where the Ministry is, I suppose, though we won't be able to have lunch in the cafeteria with you being… you. Then perhaps lunch somewhere muggle and Hyde Park?"
Hyde Park, that was where they'd been that last day she had been Morgan Gaunt, it had been snowing…
"The ministry, lunch, then Hyde Park," Lily stated firmly, "That's it."
He frowned, looking displeased, but nodded his assent, "That will be all."
She took his hand as well as Rabbit's and felt a familiar sense of vertigo as the three of them were catapulted into downtown London. They arrived in an alleyway, close to a central street, but shrouded in enough shadow that the passerby muggle likely didn't notice their entrance.
With little prelude, Wizard Trotsky made his way into the street and motioned for her to follow. When she tried to follow at too far of a distance, he took her hand in his and pulled her forward until she was walking level with him, Rabbit trotting behind the pair of them like a reluctant toddler.
"It is good to see you again, Lily," Wizard Trotsky said, once again all smiles and good cheer, as he looked down at her.
Lily grimaced back up at him, wondering why she had ever agreed to this.
Well, she knew why. There wasn't a chance in hell she would have found Shacklebolt on her own and she knew it. No, if Lily had relied only on herself, god knows what she would have ended up having to do with Pettigrew.
All too likely she'd accidentally end up handing him off to one of Wizard Lenin's agents.
She supposed she could have said "forget it" to Wizard Trotsky's demand for a favor but that had seemed like more trouble than it was worth. Besides, she kept her promises, she'd decided that long ago, and she wouldn't default on that now.
Not even to Wizard Trotsky.
"I have missed you," Wizard Trotsky continued, "I know it hasn't truly been that long, only a few months, but—just the same, I have missed you."
Of course, he did.
A man who didn't miss her, wouldn't miss her, would not have gone to such desperate, ridiculous, lengths to carve a place for her in his life. Morgan Gaunt was not the result of a man who didn't care.
It was, however, the result of a man who didn't care for her wellbeing. At least, not if it got in the way of what he wanted.
There was a certain irony in wanting Lily around so badly that he'd been more than willing to destroy everything Lily was. He'd taken and warped all her memories, as if they weren't some integral part of her, and thought the result was a resounding success. In the end, he'd had only Morgan Gaunt, not Lily.
She wondered if he'd figured that out for himself yet. She doubted it. She doubted he ever would.
She stared ahead at the busy street, even this early in the morning, with a sigh, "Alright, what is it you were going to show me."
He frowned at her curtness, likely realizing that Lily was going to speed this day along as much as she possibly could, but didn't say anything about it. Instead, he stopped in front of a red phone booth.
"Here we are," he said with a smile, motioning to it.
Lily stared at it dully, "Here we are where?"
"The illustrious entrance to the Ministry of Magic," he added with a grin, then tapped his foot on the sidewalk, "The building itself is underground, and has varying entrances in the area, hidden inside muggle infrastructure."
She continued staring at the phone booth, "And a door was too complicated? A hidden building too complicated?"
Lily wasn't an expert, she didn't pay enough attention for that, but she was fairly certain that it was within a wizard's abilities to simply hide a building from muggle sight. This was what happened to Hogsmeade and Hogwarts.
He just shrugged, "London has a very complicated history, I don't know the exact history of how the ministry came to be underground, but I'm sure there's a reason for it."
"And a reason they've stuck an entrance in a phone booth," Lily said, just imagining every employee who worked in the ministry having to enter one of these things every morning. The queue must be a mile and a half long.
As if summoned, a portly wizard bureaucrat, dressed in overly stuffy robes, rushed past them and into the phone booth where he fiddled with the numbers. With a loud whoosh he disappeared into the ground, swallowed up by what looked like a tube, leaving the phone booth empty.
"It works well enough," Wizard Trotsky said with a shrug, "Of course, I always just apparate to the front entrance, and many floo in. However, some haven't passed their apparition exam, aren't connected to the floor, or just like the idea of travelling in on foot."
At Lily's dull look he amended, "I promise, the building's much more impressive than the entrance would lead you to believe."
Lily couldn't believe she'd gotten up early for this or that, god, Wizard Trotsky actually looked proud. He looked as if he really was an eager, new, employee of the Ministry of Magic who was proud to work for the government. The kind who would, at the first opportunity, show off where he worked to his family and friends.
Which Lily guessed was herself, which explained why there were here.
Lily found herself asking in morbid curiosity, "What is it you even do here?"
He looked both pleased and embarrassed that she had asked, "Nothing important, I'm afraid, I'm far too junior for that. Not to mention that failing to attend Hogwarts is a mark against me, for all no one says it directly. If I truly wish to rise in the ranks, it might take me a good deal longer just because of that."
At Lily's dull look he must have guessed that she was thinking he'd just confessed to being a janitor. He flushed terribly and said, "I'm currently a secretary for a minor department head, a subsection of the Justice department under the Wizengamot. It's not a bad position but—not exactly what I would have pictured myself doing out of Hogwarts."
Considering Lily was pretty sure Wizard Lenin had bitterly mentioned being a store clerk and salesman at some point, Lily was going to guess that Wizard Trotsky hadn't seen himself doing that out of Hogwarts either.
Not that she was one to talk, as she didn't see herself doing anything outside of Hogwarts at all.
"It's not terrible work, all considered," Wizard Trotsky mused as they started walking again, away from the phone booth and back towards the more muggle parts of London, "Not particularly mentally stimulating, but I suppose I was never looking for that outside of Hogwarts. I always thought, somehow, politics alone would be invigorating. Turns out it's mostly a lot of paperwork and office gossip."
He smiled at her wryly, "Which I suppose has served some purpose, as that watercooler talk is what ultimately let me find Shacklebolt for you."
Lily gave a small hum of agreement which he could interpret as approval.
How many hours left did she have for this? He'd mentioned lunch, it had to be only seven, that meant there was a few hours to go.
"Still," Wizard Trotsky continued, either failing to notice Lily's lack of interest or choosing to ignore it, "It's funny how things don't work out quite the way you imagine. I'm not sure what I pictured working in the Ministry would be like but this—this is not what I had in mind. I don't think I would have liked it, if back then I had gotten what I wanted."
That got Lily's attention, "You wanted to go into the Ministry?"
"It was a possibility," he said, "Certainly one Slughorn pushed for. He was always telling me that I could be the youngest Minister of Magic. The first muggleborn Minister as well, but he never brought that part up, probably considered it a bit gauche."
He frowned then, a dark grimace brought about by unwanted thoughts, "But I—I was a fifth year, when I entered the diary. I don't know what he ended up doing, that other Tom Riddle. I don't know what he made of our life, I only know the mess he made of it in 1981."
Lily thought this was a dangerous path for the conversation to meander and decided to veer them towards safer harbors, "Slughorn's never said anything about me going into politics."
Wizard Trotsky laughed, his former dark mood forgotten, "You would make the world's worst politician. You, Lily, will not be the country's youngest Minister of Magic."
Lily felt like she should feel more insulted by that, but she agreed. Every part of politics sounded not only dreadful but like something she'd be innately terrible at. She had no patience for that sort of thing.
She supposed that was something, whatever she ended up doing, she would not be Minister of Magic.
The hours until lunch were spent window shopping, with Wizard Trotsky blathering on to a silent audience. Rabbit, for all that he couldn't convey emotion, conveyed a distinct sense of irritation. Lily, for her own part, wariness and suspicion.
But Wizard Trotsky seemed content for the day to be exactly as advertised.
He talked about his time in Hogwarts with the grandparents of Lily's classmates. He talked about his own experiences in the Slug Club, where he'd attended every month from his third year up until the end of this seventh. He talked about being prefect then head boy, his complete lack of interest in quidditch, and everything in between.
Despite everything, it wasn't unpleasant.
She could imagine, walking down the street and then sitting at lunch, that they were old friends. That their shared history together was something pleasant rather than the stuff of nightmares.
Except, as she let her mind wander, she wondered that she and Wizard Trotsky could talk like this and yet Wizard Lenin had barely even looked at her when she left for Hogwarts. By all rights, it should have been the pair of them, walking down the street and talking about Tom Riddle's past.
He'd lived this just as much as Wizard Trotsky had, the Tom Riddle she'd known had grown into him, and yet somehow it was this one speaking to her rather than the one she knew best.
And then, as morning bled into afternoon, they found themselves in Hyde Park just as Wizard Trotsky had promised.
It looked different in fall than it had in winter. The leaves were on the edge of falling, all bright fiery reds and oranges, right in the peak of those few weeks before fall would become winter. Staring out down the paths, at the people walking through and enjoying themselves, Lily could see Morgan Gaunt's ghost.
But it seemed only she could see it, because Wizard Trotsky didn't say a word, and when he looked at the park it was with fondness.
God, there was so much of Tom Riddle in his face. Not just in his features, which of course were strikingly similar, but in his smile, the spark of his eyes, the proud and determined tilt in his chin, and his slightly too fast walking speed.
The way he smiled at Hyde Park, Lily had seen that smile before, both from Wizard Lenin and the boy they'd both once been. It was the smile that, towards the end, the young Tom Riddle had given to her.
And with her uncertain future with Wizard Lenin in her head, joined in parallel by Morgan Gaunt, the young Tom Riddle, and the last time she'd seen Wizard Trotsky's face she stopped dead in her tracks.
When he noticed she'd stopped walking, he turned to look at her in askance.
"You remember what happened the last time we saw each other," Lily accused, "You know that I went back in time, that I manipulated your entire life, and then left you the second you left for Hogwarts. You know everything. Why are you so happy to see me?"
She motioned around her wildly, as if they were still in that burning brothel, still standing there in the climax of it all, "I left you, defeated and humiliated, I left you for a Tom Riddle I didn't even remember. Why are you so willing to forgive me for that?"
Lily was not apologizing for her actions. She had done nothing wrong and would take the same path again in a heartbeat. Wizard Trotsky had used and abused her in the vilest of fashions.
However, he was Tom Riddle once, and Tom Riddle would never have forgiven her for something like that. It didn't matter that he had been wrong, that he had done something unconscionable, he would see Lily's actions as a betrayal.
Tom Riddle appeared to have never forgiven her for disappearing out of his life. Even when she had told him her situation and that she could not attend Hogwarts with him. Wizard Lenin had yet to forgive her time travel.
Why was Wizard Trotsky so forgiving of Lily leaving him in bitter defeat?
He sighed, as if suddenly exhausted, and for a long time didn't say a word.
Finally, he said, "It occurred to me, in the aftermath, that I cannot change who you are."
"Who I am?" Lily asked, not quite sure what to make of that.
He offered her a wry smile, "You're a hero, Lily. A true Gryffindor if there ever was one, for better and for worse. You rescue maidens from towers, orphan boys from their dismal origins, and Hogwarts itself time and again. Wherever there is a dragon, you face it. Asking you to oppose that, I was asking you to oppose your very nature. Small wonder it didn't turn out well."
Lily let out a short, bitter, laugh, "Perhaps it's just me, but I don't remember anything from our last encounter that was particularly noble or heroic."
No, just confusion, fear, betrayal, and pain for both of them. Heroes—heroes didn't live Lily's life. That's what she had learned.
He didn't look impressed or swayed, "You spared my life."
He didn't let her finish, "It is true that I am not so easily destroyed, but I know you and I know the kind of power you wield. If you wanted to destroy me, it was easily within your abilities, and you didn't. You let me live that day, in spite of everything, and you're letting me live now."
She hadn't thought of it like that. True, she'd acknowledged that next time, the next Tom Riddle she met she might truly have to destroy. The idea of… of doing to Wizard Trotsky what she had unintentionally done to Umbridge though—it didn't even bear thinking.
"And you went back in time for me, for him," the last he added bitterly, as if the thought was a bitter pill to swallow, "You sacrificed the relationship you hold most dear in the world, that of you and your Lenin, with the knowledge that no one would ever thank you for it. That you, in fact, would be utterly despised for it long before you even took said action."
He looked past her, out at the park, as if staring at her was suddenly too painful, "I didn't realize it at the time, I—resented you for so very long, but that—what you did is worthy of admiration. You, Lily, are worthy of admiration."
"I left you in a burning building," Lily exclaimed, hands now flailing in desperation, spurred on by a twinge in her chest she didn't fully understand, "I threw you out of my life like trash and I'll do it again at the first opportunity!"
"I can't exactly say I'm thrilled about that," Wizard Trotsky acknowledged, "However, I am trying to change your opinion. I will admit that—mistakes have been made. But then, to err is to be human, and I do try to be human most of the time."
But Lily barely listened to him, instead she asked, "Why are you still here, after all of that, when I feel like I can barely hang onto Lenin at all?!"
And there it was, the question that had been haunting her all day, that had perhaps been haunting her since Tequila's made a reappearance in Lily's life. Wizard Trotsky had come back, he had come back knowing he wasn't wanted, he had come back after she had destroyed him.
And Wizard Lenin couldn't write her a letter because Lily did something she was destined to do.
"Ah," Wizard Trotsky said, looking brittle, and more than a little enraged, "That's what this is really about, isn't it?"
"Lenin," he mocked, "What's so special about him? Isn't one Tom Riddle as good as any other? We're all derivatives of the same, greater, function you know. All those delightful names you give us, underneath it, we're Tom Marvolo Riddle the same as the next one. Why should he get all your good feeling and I have to work for your scraps?"
"He did not do what you did," Lily hissed, "He did not tear Hogwarts apart by the seams, make it live in terror for months, and he never did what you did to me. Don't you dare compare yourself to him."
"And yet," Wizard Trotsky said with a thin smile, "He's not without his flaws either, or we wouldn't be discussing this, now, would we? I can forgive and forget, he can't, and over something so petty too."
Before Lily could say anything to that, that no matter Wizard Lenin's flaws, he had still proved himself a far better man, Wizard Trotsky continued, "That's the trouble with horcruxes, you know. We're all Tom Riddle, we inherit much from him, and yet some things get lost in translation, as it were."
Lily didn't want to say anything, didn't want to feed into whatever he was saying, but it was very good bait.
He took her silence as permission to continue, and his eyes were intense as he said, "I think we lost something. Each of us lost something vital, when we became whatever it is we are now."
"I'm not sure what I lost, I couldn't tell you I had lost anything at all in the Diary, but I can tell you what your Lenin lost along the way. Would you like to hear it?"
She didn't, but that wouldn't stop him.
"He lost you," Tom Riddle said with a smile, "Oh, it seems he thought of you fondly, enough to feel betrayed in 1981 by your after image, but he lost you all the same. I, I would never have let so petty a betrayal, presumed and unverified, dissuade me. And so, he drowns himself in his drama and his pettiness, his misplaced sense of self-importance, because he lost sight of what truly matters."
Lily laughed, what a buildup, only for that to be his conclusion, "I think he has a much healthier grasp on our relationship than you do, Trotsky."
"Will you say as much when he cuts ties because of Sirius Black?" Wizard Trotsky asked with raised eyebrows, "Any fool could see this was coming. If Black really is innocent, then of course you charge in headfirst to exonerate him, it's what you do. And, ultimately, little skin off his own nose. Yet, somehow, I think the principal of the matter will so offend him that he will gladly never speak to you again."
He very well might.
It was, in fact, a possibility Lily was afraid of. Eternity was a long time, Wizard Lenin was effectively immortal and Lily was—whatever Lily was. It was unlikely he could hold out forever but—he could hold out a very long time. More, it might never be the same.
But she would much rather have his stubborn pride than Wizard Trotsky's devotion. That much, she knew.
Lily started walking again, signaling that the conversation was over, and ignored Wizard Trotsky's amusement. Clearly, he thought he'd dealt her a devastating verbal blow. Well, she might as well let him enjoy his empty victory, it changed nothing.
"By the by," Wizard Trotsky asked, "What do you plan to do from here on out?"
"What's that supposed to mean?" Lily asked with a sigh.
"Regardless of Lenin forgiving you or not, you'll enter the world soon," And Wizard Trotsky was back to cheerfully smiling, his emotional whiplash just as pronounced as ever, "A few years, if you manage to graduate Hogwarts, or sooner if you pull your typical disappearing act halfway through the term again. What is it you intend to do out there in the world?"
"How the hell would I know?" Lily asked.
She was getting tired of that question and even more tired that people expected a different answer every time she asked. She was—no she wasn't twelve anymore and not thirteen either—but dammit she was young and why did everyone expect an answer? Weren't kids supposed to have a few years before they were pestered with this nonsense?
"If it makes you feel better, I don't know what I'm doing either," he admitted, as if it was the easiest thing to admit in the world.
She stared at him, open mouthed, and tried to picture the young Tom Riddle or even Wizard Lenin ever daring to admit he was a man without a plan. Such words… they didn't come out of any Tom Riddle's mouth.
But he simply nodded, "I've found that Voldemort… It no longer appeals to me the way it once did. Who knows, perhaps it never truly appealed to me, perhaps I simply forced myself to believe it did. And the Ministry—I've found I don't want a life where I chase power for power's sake. I don't know who I am let alone what I want from my now endless existence."
He rubbed the back of his head, sheepish all at once, "It's funny, before the Diary, I was so certain of what I wanted in life. Getting there was the difficult part, but what I wanted, I knew that from the very beginning. Now look at me, I'm a lacky at the ministry spending my free time possessing a twelve-year-old girl at Hogwarts with no idea what to do with myself."
Lily wondered if she was supposed to give him career advice or else a pep talk.
He paused for an uncomfortably long time, as if waiting for her response, but she had nothing to say.
Eventually he gave up, "If things don't go your way, if… there is no longer a place for you in Great Britain, then you and I might travel the world together. There's so much I have yet to see, and it's past time I left this dull, drab, island."
"Hard pass," Lily said on instinct.
Wizard Trotsky let out a small hmph of disappointment, but not surprise, "I can wait."
He'd be waiting a damn long time because it was never going to happen. She looked down at her wrist, at the place where a wristwatch could have been, and exclaimed, "Oh my god, look at the time. We've done your Ministry thing, lunch, and Hyde Park, and now I'm dashed. I'd say it's been great, but it hasn't. I'd also say goodbye, but I have the haunting feeling I'll see you again in Ginny Weasley's body."
"If you just agreed to meet with me then I—"
"Wow, yeah, don't finish that sentence," Lily said, and rather than say anything else, she apparated herself and Rabbit inside the Default Common Room. As expected in the middle of a Saturday when everyone else was busy having a social life or hobbies, it was completely empty.
Lily let out a sigh of relief.
Only to be interrupted by Rabbit, "Why is it you humor him so?"
His expression was blank, as always, and his eyes just as dark as always. However, something in them… If Lily didn't know any better she'd say something inside of them was burning.
"I owed him a favor," Lily explained, "And it's over now, that's the last of it."
"You owe him nothing," Rabbit responded, "And there will be another favor, there is always another favor for Tom Riddle."
Lily wished she could disagree with that, opened her mouth to, but somehow the words didn't come out.
Author's Note: And Wizard Trotsky's schemes for a wholesome date are ruined by the fact that Lily has not forgotten anything that happened to her. Foiled again, it seems. Next up, exciting plot development!
Thanks to readers and reviewers, reviews are much appreciated.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter