The Sugar Quill
Author: Miss Gypsy (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: How We Laughed  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Shattered Hearts

How We Laughed

 

Disclaimer:  You know what is mine (the plot, and a few characters) and what belongs to the wonderful, beautiful, fabulous, ingenious Ms. Rowling (everything else).  If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be reading Harry Potter fan fiction, would you?

 

Author’s Note:  Many thanks to the wonderful Felina Black for beta-reading this story!  It’s my first try at a real fic, and I hope you all enjoy it.

 

~~~***~~~

 

There was a time that my world was entirely different.  I was young, carefree, only a child when it all happened, but when I look back on it, the timeless ages that have passed since then teach me that nothing of my past world remains. 

 

Nothing but shattered hearts, torn memories, and lost souls. 

 

I wonder why, as I sit here on my usual perch, it had to end the way it did.  I gaze at the frozen lake with snow drifts settled along the back, the nearby trees crystallized with a fine sheen of ice, and swallow a sob.

 

Perhaps we’ll never know.

 

A soft breeze blows my curled hair against my cheek, and I close my eyes, relishing in the feeling… only because it continually amazes me that I still have the ability to feel at all.

 

~~~***~~~

 

We were young.  I don’t remember how young exactly, perhaps nine or ten years of age when we met.  My mother was a social worker back in her day, and she spent much of her time trying to improve the horrendous conditions at the local orphanage, so different from the home in which I’d grown up, one filled with laughter, love, and magic around every corner.  He’d always interested me, his dark, curling hair and piercing eyes.  I wondered, even then, what horrors he’d seen, what pain he felt. 

 

I took him the peppermint stick as a peace offering to him, huddled in a corner, and I suppose that was the beginning of our relationship.  Soon I followed my mother like a sick puppy to the orphanage, even in the middle of bitter winters, when my pale cheeks would flush with cold, my blue eyes would water, and snow flaked its way into my blonde curls. 

 

“Dorcas,” my mother would say, “visit the poor boy another day.  It’s much too cold for you to venture out this morning.”

 

But I persisted, and soon I’d be following her footsteps up the path to the gloomy building, filled to bursting with children who still, in the midst of all the retched filth, maintained a hope for the future.

 

When we turned eleven, we both received letters to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  This was no shock to my mother, who’d been anticipating this day ever since my birth.  My dear Muggle father was a bit frightened by the prospect of both women in his lives having magical capability, but he did not stop me from attending Hogwarts.

 

Tom and I sat together, trembling with anticipation, in our shared compartment on the Hogwarts Express, our knobby knees covered by lengths of black robes that felt foreign on our skin. 

 

I scarcely remember the train ride, or much of my childhood really, before the Sorting.  That was when everything was torn apart. 

 

You see, Tom and I developed a tight bond.  Best friends – we did everything together, from celebrating Christmas to lounging about in midsummer.  My mother’s authority allowed me to bring someone home from the orphanage every three days to visit, and it was always Tom.  I loved everything about him, from his moody, dark secrets to his laughter, which filled the room.  And, oh, how we laughed. 

 

Everything was amusing, from spying on the neighbors with my mother’s telescope that saw through walls, or flying about on miniature broomsticks.

 

My high, girlish giggles that always seemed to make him laugh harder would soon harmonize with his laughter, and together we’d chuckle for hours.  Now it seems funny, to think that a boy who grew up in such a miserable environment was able to harbor so much joy.

 

Was able.

 

Where did it all go?

 

~~~***~~~

 

I remember standing there in front of my peers and professors, praying that I would be the last to be sorted and wishing that they would get it over with at the same time.  But I was middle of the pack, as I always was when anything was alphabetized.

 

“Meadowes, Dorcas.”

 

Professor Dumbledore read from a long list of names, a small smile twitching his amber beard, as each student was sorted.  Headmaster Dippet, a wizened-looking man, watched from the high table, and Tom whispered in my ear that it seemed the headmaster was always staring at him.

 

I did not respond, as I was fixed on Professor Dumbledore, a strangling panic coursing through my veins as Dumbledore called my name. 

 

Tom gave me a gentle shove.  “Go,” he hissed. 

 

I trembled my way up to the ancient hat, which the professor placed atop my head.

 

Ah, said the hat in my ear.  Yes, an easy placement, here.  Wit and intelligence, with a gentle spirit to match, you have.  Better be-

 

“RAVENCLAW!”  He screamed the last word to the entire hall, and I seated myself at the table now wild with applause.  A fellow first year, a girl with long, fine red hair, big blue eyes, and charming freckles smiled at me.

 

“My name is Meredith Everwood,” she said shyly.

 

“Dorcas Meadowes,” I replied, offering her a quiet smile in return.  “Pleased to meet you.”

 

She nodded in response, and we both turned back to the Sorting Ceremony.

 

A few more shaking peers were sorted, and then they called Tom’s name.  He smiled at me hopefully and took a seat on the rickety old stool, the hat on his head.  His eyes were squeezed shut.  The brim of the hat opened.

 

I held my breath.

 

“SLYTHERIN!”

 

No,” I whispered, my heart plummeting from its temporary home in my throat back to my stomach.  How could this happen?  How could I be left alone?  What would I do without him?

 

“What is it?” the girl called Meredith asked.  I looked at her with tears in my eyes.  “He’s my best friend… and he got sorted…”

 

“Into Slytherin?  Ooooh,” she said sorrowfully, “then maybe it’s good to let him go.  The Slytherin lot is a rough crowd.”

 

I stared at her.  “There is nothing wrong with Tom Riddle!” I snapped.  “He’s the kindest person I’ve ever met!”

 

Perhaps Meredith Everwood had a bit of Seer blood in her.  I suppose we’ll never know for sure, will we?

 

~~~***~~~

 

The whole of my first year at Hogwarts went by relatively quickly, considering my separation from Tom.  We managed, by the luck of the draw, to win a few classes together, so it wasn’t too terrible a strain on the relationship.  All homework was done in the library, since neither of us was allowed in the other’s common room. 

 

But still they found it odd that a Ravenclaw and Slytherin were able to maintain such a friendship.

 

Second year, Meredith Everwood and I became good friends.  She joined Tom and I frequently to study in the library, though it was plain to me that she never held a high regard for Tom.  She scowled whenever he would offer her help on the assignment at hand, and even though her grades suffered, she refused his assistance. 

 

Then there was Olive Hornby, a short, fat girl who shared the Slytherin dormitories with Tom.  She was nasty and spiteful, yet it was horribly obvious that she was indeed after Tom’s heart.  He was polite to her, but he kept her a good distance from him at all times, no matter how often she’d set her books down at our study table and glare at Meredith and me.

 

Tom used to wait until she went to fetch a library book, then he’d mutter a soft curse under his breath.  The moment she touched her inkwell upon return, it would tip and spill all over everything.

 

Though this infuriated her, she never understood why it happened. 

 

Meredith and I rarely disagreed, but one evening, reclining in the armchairs around the fire in the Ravenclaw common room, Meredith voiced her opinion on my friend.

 

“Something’s wrong with him, Dory.”

 

She’d taken to nicknaming me, and I must admit, I delighted in being called something other than “Dorcas.” 

 

“There is nothing wrong with Tom, Meredith,” I argued, leaning forward in my seat.  She shrugged.

 

“He seems to be hiding something… evil… deep down,” said sweet Meredith, her voice timid.  Oh, if only I’d listened…

 

~~~***~~~

 

Third year, Meredith and I had a bit of a falling out.  Her fear of Tom only increased, and my anger at her did the same.

 

And at the same time, Tom started to change.

 

Olive Hornby became a more and more frequent presence at his shoulder.  She had changed over time, thinned out and filled out, but she still was hardly a sight for sore eyes.  Her bitterness was hardly popular, and I’ll never forget poor Moaning Myrtle, as we all called her.  I can’t even recall her surname, as I rarely had lessons with her, and only the professors knew her by the surname alone.

 

But to continue, poor Myrtle was the bull’s eye of Olive’s taunting, teasing, ridiculing circle of people.  From setting her up to embarrass herself in front of professors to stealing her essays and quills and parchment, Olive made Myrtle an object of ridicule wherever she went.

~~~***~~~

 

Though I repaired my broken friendship with Meredith in fourth year, I also found myself wishing to deepen my friendship with Tom.  I found it hard to concentrate whenever I was with him, my gaze in class continually straying to the back of his head, where it would hold for minutes on end. 

 

Was it love?

 

No, I could hardly attribute it to love.  It was more of an infatuation; one that I so desperately wanted to rid myself of.  Perhaps it was this infatuation that ultimately brought my downfall.

 

Meredith used to tease me about it, and how I hated her for it. 

 

“Just friends, Dory?  Just friends?  I see the way you look at him… you want to be more than just friends.”

 

It wasn’t until one evening when we were settled around the fire and I lost my temper with her and threw my ink bottle at her that the teasing stopped.  I remember crying and saying that I didn’t understand why I felt the way I did about Tom, especially because he had started to seem a bit different to me than before, and that if I could, I would take all the feelings away.

 

Meredith had cried too, and reached out to hug me, apologizing and promising that someday everything would work out fine.

~~~***~~~

 

Fifth year stands out as my happiest year of all at Hogwarts.  By this time, I had more friends than just Tom and Meredith, but those two were still very dear to my heart.

 

Olive’s presence lessened during study periods in the library with Tom, although Meredith was missed there as well.  She chose to study with Geoffrey Enivon, a fellow Ravenclaw friend, whom she found very attractive.  I’ll admit that he was fetching with those bright green eyes and thick, curly, brown hair.  I had a feeling that they would soon end up more than friends, and the idea hardened me, because I still had interest in Tom.  It seemed like I would never have with Tom what Meredith had with Geoffrey. 

 

We’d sit in our dormitory late at night, whispering, and Meredith would tell me about the little things Geoffrey would do or say that would hint at his interest in her, but it was just enough to keep her wondering.  No matter how she tried to deny that she took pleasure in this, I saw the way his presence made her blush and how her eyes sparkled when she spoke of him.  I wanted that feeling too, and it seemed like I would never have it.

 

Perhaps I’d moved on from infatuation at this point, but one day, soon after the announcement of the ever-popular annual Valentine’s Day Ball’s forthcoming, as Tom and I sat studying in the library, he suddenly spoke up.

 

“Dory?” He’d developed Meredith’s nickname for me.

 

“Yes?”

 

“Have… have you a date to the Valentine’s Day Ball?”

 

I swallowed, suddenly very acutely aware of my entire body, from my fingers gripping my quill to my toes, fidgeting in my shoes in anxiety.  I tried to position myself in the calmest way I could imagine.  Why, suddenly, did my tongue feel too big for my mouth?  And was it getting warmer in the library?  Or was I blushing?

 

“N-No, I don’t.”

 

Graceful, Dorcas.  Perfect.

 

“Did you have anyone in mind?”

 

I dared a glance at his face.  He was staring at me intently, and then I knew.  He was going to ask me.  I swallowed again, trying to remain unreadable.  “Well…”

 

He cut me off and I was thankful for being spared the pain of answering.  “I was wondering… I mean, we’ve been friends for so long and… would you like to… well… gototheballwithme?”

 

A grin split my face.  “Absolutely.”

 

He went noticeably limp with relief, and said, “Oh, thank you.  I was so afraid you’d say no.”

 

“Why on earth would I do that?”  I asked.

 

But he didn’t hear me, for apparently another nerve-wracking thought struck him.  “Are we going as friends?”  He asked, a little louder than I thought was necessary. 

 

I drew a great breath, braced myself inwardly, and reached across the table to cover his hand with my own.  He quickly turned it over, winding his fingers with mine.  He kissed the back of it, and then looked at me for a reaction.

 

I hope he realized the tears were happy ones.

 

~~~***~~~

 

Meredith said it was ideal to make the boys wait.  Though Geoffrey was the only one truly waiting in the common room, as both myself and the other girl in our dorm, Eloise, had dates from other houses, we took great pride in dragging it out, readying ourselves to perfection on the night of the ball.

 

“You go first,” encouraged Meredith, so I stepped gracefully down the stone steps and was immediately mauled by Geoffrey. 

 

“Is she coming?”

 

I pointed up the stone staircase, and he gasped.  Meredith did indeed look very pretty in her robes of snow white.  They shimmered and sparkled in the firelight, and Geoffrey stared at her as her face appeared, choking out, “You look beautiful.”

 

Meredith beamed and when she reached him, curtsied widely.  He pulled her up and gave her a quick kiss. 

 

So that’s how it was. 

 

I grinned at Meredith and said in a shaking voice, “I’d better go get Tom.  See you in the Great Hall.”

 

 Tom and I had agreed to meet at the top of the staircase leading to the Slytherin common room.  When I walked up to him, he gasped, clearly struck speechless.

 

“Dory…”

 

I twirled playfully, tilting my head and smiling at him.  “Meredith helped me pick out the robes.” 

 

I was thankful for her assistance, for even I knew that I looked more beautiful that night than I ever had, in robes of sparkly pastel yellow, lighter than my gold hair and making my pale complexion look slightly warmer than usual.  She’d flushed my cheeks with a spell, so I looked somewhere between dead and feverish, hopefully in a natural way, and painted my lips with pale pink gloss.  I felt like a princess. 

 

Tom shook his head, smiling.  “You look beautiful.  More than beautiful.  Amazing.”

 

If someone had whispered in my ear at that precise moment, if someone had told me what would become of everything I was feeling and seeing at that very moment, I would never have believed them.

 

But, ah, let’s save sorrow for the end, shall we?

 

So hand in hand, I walked with my best friend in the whole world to the Great Hall.  We got many looks as we walked.  Even more unlikely than friendship between the Slytherin and its fellow Houses was dating.  But Tom was an unlikely character himself, and I was…

 

Well, I was happy just to be with him.

 

We moved out onto the dance floor when a slow song struck up (neither of us were much for dancing, but the faster songs played previously helped break the ice) and started to dance.  I was surprised that Tom even knew how to slow dance, but I chose not to embarrass him by asking.

 

“You’re a good dancer,” he said softly. 

 

“Same to you,” I replied.

 

And that was all we said.  I was too busy taking it all in, from the feeling of dancing like this with someone, to the excitement of the Valentine’s Day Ball in general, to the dress robes worn by my peers.  Some of them were downright incredible.

 

My gaze landed on Olive Hornby, watching me with a furiously jealous expression.  Seeing Olive made me think of Moaning Myrtle.  I wondered if she’d even come.  A quick look around confirmed my suspicion, for I was assuming that she was off weeping in her usual toilet. 

 

“What?” whispered Tom.

 

“Oh, just wondering if Myrtle made it,” I said with a wry smile.  He nodded, and looked down at me hesitantly.  The song wound to an end.

 

“Would you like to go for a walk?” he asked. 

 

I blushed.  “Of course.”

 

Once again hand in hand, we entered the gardens, set up specifically for the Yule Ball.  I blushed again when it became clear to me that we weren’t alone – more than one couple was enjoying the privacy of the bushes.  I could hear them.

 

Tom wrinkled his nose.  “Let’s keep walking then, shall we?”

 

I nodded, biting back a giggle.

 

When we reached a quiet stone fountain, we both seated ourselves comfortably on the rim.  I swirled my fingers in the water, and Tom watched me for a moment, before reaching out to take them in his own.

 

“Dory, I… thank you,” he said finally.

 

“For what?”

 

“For coming here with me.  For being my friend.  For giving me that peppermint stick,” he added, poking me playfully in the side, reminding me of when we met.  “Thank you for everything.”

 

And then he kissed me.

 

I will not go into detail, because I find it pointless to do so, but it was the most wonderful thing I’d ever felt. 

 

When he pulled away, I laughed softly and threw my arms around his neck.

 

He hugged me right back, burying his face in my hair. 

 

And from that moment on, for a very long time, we were a couple.  No one ever declared it out loud, but no one ever needed to. 

 

And yet, in sixth year, it was all to come undone. 

 

~~~***~~~

 

Though he continued to treat me in a very respectful, romantic manner, Tom hardened around the edges noticeably in our sixth year.  Sometimes I wondered if it was all forced, if everything he ever said to me was a lie, if everything he’d ever felt for me was an act.  

 

But I refused to lose him, and though Meredith continued to warn me that it was not going to end in a pretty fashion at all, I held onto everything.

 

Until one sunny, chilly afternoon, when I was leaving Arithmancy, eager to meet Meredith for lunch, as she was headed to the Great Hall from Divination.

 

I was in a rush, because I was late and Meredith was a very punctual person, when I stumbled over something hard.

 

I looked down and screamed.

 

Meredith Everwood was lying, rigid with shock, on the ground before me.  She was clutching a mirror and comb in her left hand, her right thrown out in front of her as if to ward off an attacker.  Her face was frozen in terror, and she was hard as rock.

 

“HELP!” I shrieked, looking around wildly.  Professor Dumbledore, the Transfiguration professor, entered the corridor at that precise moment. 

 

“Oh my,” he said, his eyes widening.  I do believe it was the first time I’d ever seen Dumbledore look afraid.

 

He pointed his wand to his throat, and when he spoke next, the words rang out as though he were on a Muggle PA system.

 

“All teachers, report to the second floor corridor immediately, all students, return to your Houses at once, and stay there.  Your Head of House will be with you shortly.”

 

“P-Professor?”

 

“Yes, Miss Meadowes?” he asked, turning a kind eye on me.

 

“W-Will Meredith be all right?”  I did not realize that I was crying until the tears were sliding down my cheeks.

 

Dumbledore put a comforting hand on my shoulder.  “Yes.  I will have Professor Sprout care for the mandrakes all the more carefully, and then we shall be able to revive your friend.”  Ah yes, trust Dumbledore to be so calm when my dearest friend had been turned to stone.  The mandrakes would fix her condition, I knew, but who knew how long that would take?

 

By this time, the halls were clattering with people moving to their directed locations, and the professors were gathering around us. 

 

Headmaster Dippet took center stage and read the message on the wall, something I had overlooked, in a shaking voice.  “The Chamber of Secrets has been opened.  Muggle-borns and Half-Bloods beware.”

 

I swallowed.  I was a Half-Blood.  Meredith was a Muggle-born. 

 

“Ah, yes,” said Professor Harvley, the Divination instructor.  Her eyes were wide with fear.  “I’ve heard of this place, I have.”

 

And so she launched into an explanation, one that I shall never forget, or for that matter, repeat.

 

By midday the day after the attack on Meredith, the school was alive with suspicion.  As Tom and I walked to class together, I noticed that he had not reached for my hand.  It was as if he were listening to something that no one else could hear. 

 

“What is it?  What’s troubling you?”  I asked, taking his hand in my own and squeezing it.

 

He looked at me, his eyes wild, and I stopped walking.  “Tom?  What have you done?”

 

“I… nothing, Dory.  Don’t worry about it.  See you in potions, love.”  He kissed me quickly on the cheek and ducked off through the crowd.

 

“TOM!” I yelled, hurrying after him, and running smack into Olive Hornby. 

 

She whirled around and grabbed my robes.  “Well, well, well, if it isn’t the beautiful Dorcas Meadowes.  Lost your boyfriend, have you?”

 

“Sod off,” I spat, and tried to shake from her grasp.

 

“Oh, I shan’t sod off yet,” she snarled right back.  “I’ll have you know that it’s only going to get worse for you, ridiculous girl.  Running amok with that boy.”

 

I smiled slyly at her.  “Oh, I see.  You are after Tom, aren’t you?”

 

Olive swung out a flat hand and before I could react, slapped me.  “Don’t you dare!

 

My hand shot to my cheek, and felt blood.  She’d broken the skin.  “You… how could you hit me, Olive?  You’re nothing but a bully!  How could Tom ever love you?”

 

And I ducked away to the nearest restroom to rinse my face. 

 

As I approached the bathroom, I heard the oddest noise.  Paused in the hall, I pressed my ear up to the door and listened.  A soft, spitting noise could be heard from within.  I cracked the door and peeked inside.  The sight that met my eyes caused a scream of terror to bubble up within me.

 

Tom Riddle, my sweet Tom, stood in the girl’s lavatory, speaking to the biggest snake I’d ever seen.

 

A Basilisk. 

 

The scream died in my throat, and I squeezed my eyes shut against the snake, for I knew a simple look in the eye would kill me instantly.  The Defense Against the Dark Arts professor had recently assigned us an essay about the very creature. 

 

From my bag, I pulled a small mirror.  Turning my back to the door, I looked over my shoulder, knowing that the reflection would not kill me.  Nervously opening my eyes, I saw Tom finish instructing the monster, his eyes screwed up as well. 

 

The snake nodded its ugly head, and Tom snapped his fingers. 

 

As I watched, my boyfriend dissolved into a puddle on the floor, which then faded away entirely.  Terrified that the snake would come after me, I stepped away from the door.  But then I heard more spitting.  And then a voice.

 

“G-Go away!” 

 

It was Moaning Myrtle. 

 

What was I to do?

 

Should I burst in on the pair of them, my eyes covered, and scream for her to run out and close her eyes?  I knew that the bite of the monster would kill almost as quickly as a glimpse of its bulbous eyes.  Perhaps Myrtle would stay in her stall.   I began to pray silently.  Please, please keep her in that stall.  Make the snake go away. 

 

But then, as I watched through the mirror, the lock unlatched.  “No,” I whispered.  The snake slowly turned its head.  I let the door slide shut before the monster could see me, and I felt the beast press against the door, making sure it was closed.  A soft slithering sound told me it had moved back to Myrtle’s stall, and I opened the door once again, peering with my mirror. 

 

Myrtle stepped out, her eyes swollen.  I watched her gaze sweep the room, land on me spying through the cracked door, crinkle in confusion, and finally land on the monster.

 

I gasped.

 

She crumbled to the floor smoothly.  The snake spat a sort of victory hiss and then slid itself through an opening in one of the sinks, sliding down a vast stone slide.  The sink sealed itself as I stepped into the lavatory, and I was left alone with the corpse of my peer.

 

~~~***~~~

 

I never told anyone what I saw.  Only that I had found her dead in the bathroom.  I confronted Tom about it at the end of sixth year, after dear Rubeus Hagrid was expelled for the acts. 

 

“Tom Riddle, you killed her.  I know you think I didn’t see it… but I did.”  I was sobbing as I confronted him in an empty classroom.  “I was in the doorway.”  I still had a hard time believing that the boy I had loved so much had killed another human being.  I had loved him, but now… I felt nothing but pain and anger at his actions, the love buried beneath my fury.  How could he do that to Myrtle?  To himself?  To me?

 

Tom, who’d been holding my hand, let go of me suddenly, shoving me away from him.  “What?!”

 

“You set the Basilisk on Moaning Myrtle!  It’s YOU who’s purging the school!  You’re killing Muggle-borns and Half-Bloods!  Were you planning to kill me?!”  I was hysterical by now, screeching at him. 

 

He sealed the door with a Silencing Charm, and turned back to me.  “Let’s sit down and talk this over.”  His face was so horribly clam that I slapped him.

 

“What is wrong with you?!” I yelled, my blood now boiling.  All pain had left me, leaving me with an empty sort of anger that hurt terribly.  “We were friends, Tom!  I loved you!  And all this time, you’re plotting murder?”

 

“Dory, listen to me,” he said, his voice shaking slightly, staring at me with a strange mixture of desperation and pity.

 

“NO!  I’ll never listen to you ever again!” I screamed, and fled from the room.

 

I never spoke to him again in our days at Hogwarts.  When I’d pass him in the hallway, his eyes would slide right past me.  I think he wanted to forget about me… he was afraid to draw my attention to him because of what I knew.  This was fine with me, because if he had tried to speak with me, I think I just might have done something I would have regretted.

 

~~~***~~~

 

Seventh year, I was scared.  The whole year, I was terrified of Tom.  Terrified that he would harm me for what I had witnessed, regardless of the fact that I hadn’t told a soul.  Meredith never said I-told-you-so, but I could see it in her eyes every time we passed him in the hallway.

 

I felt that it was too late to tell Headmaster Dippet what I had seen.  Rubeus had been expelled, and the student body believed it to be him. 

 

It was to haunt me for the rest of time, what I’d seen and left unjustified.

 

After graduation from Hogwarts, Tom became a terror that lived in every wizard’s heart.  He called himself Lord Voldemort, and a group of followers, many his fellow Slytherins that called themselves Death Eaters, did his bidding. 

 

Murderers, they all were.  The lot of them.

 

I cannot even begin to say how terrifying his presence in the world was.  His Dark Mark, a serpent slithering from the mouth of a skull, would hang over the homes of his victims, revealing to all what had happened within. 

 

Everywhere I looked, there was evidence of his presence.  Dark Detectors lined the shelves of shops, people began to research defense spells heavily, and Hogwarts was rumored to put a great emphasis on the Defense Against the Dark Arts.  Old friends became distrusted enemies, and the Order of the Phoenix was created. 

 

Needless to say, I joined immediately.

 

The guilt I carried from what I had witnessed in the bathroom days, weeks, months, what grew to years ago, pressured me into fighting.  Perhaps if I could help bring the Dark Lord’s downfall, it would make up for me allowing him to get away with the murder of our classmate. 

 

Headmaster Dippet passed away in his sleep not long after I joined the Order, and Dumbledore took over as Headmaster, hiring a older woman named Minerva McGonagall to take his place as Transfiguration professor.  Dumbledore and McGonagall both were members of the Order, and I got to know them quite well over time.

 

It was several years before they assigned me my first mission.

 

It was Dumbledore who approached me, after they’d taken a picture of the lot of us – the original Order.  My dear friends Lily and James Potter, later murdered in cold blood by He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named himself, were members, as was Rubeus Hagrid, to name but a few. 

 

“Lily and James need to go into hiding, Miss Meadowes,” he said softly.  “I have a task for you.”

 

I looked up.  “A task?”

 

“Yes.  If my memory serves me well,” said Dumbledore, his eyes crinkling at the corners sadly, “you were a dear friend to Mr. Riddle, were you not?  More than a friend, even?”

 

I flushed with guilt.  “Yes, sir.”

 

“So you are to, if you accept, join the Death Eaters.  I know this seems a wicked mission, but if you can spy for us-“

 

“Get insider information from Tom- er, Voldemort?”  I interrupted.  Though it sounded dangerous, it seemed like the only way I could make up for what I’d done at the distant age of sixteen.

 

“Yes, Miss Meadowes.”  A twinkle appeared in Dumbledore’s eyes.  “Perhaps he shall even call you ‘Dory’ again?”

 

I blushed.  “I’ll go, Headmaster.  I’ll go immediately.”

 

And so I went.

 

~~~***~~~

 

The castle loomed before me.  It had taken months to figure out where the Dark Lord recruited followers.  First I’d had to befriend Dark families, and that had taken ages.

 

But none of that mattered.  I was here.

 

I crept up the front walk and through the gates.  A trembling young man, hardly past a day of fifteen, offered me an arm.  I couldn’t help but feel terrible for the child, forced into such a violent, desolate existence. 

 

“Y-Your name?”

 

Dorcas Meadowes.  I’m here to join forces with the Dark Lord, the greatest sorcerer in the world.”  It took all of my strength not to spit the words.

 

“Reginald Preffers,” said the boy, with a quick nod in my direction. “The Dark Lord’s most trusted Screener.”

 

And so Reginald pulled out his wand, pointed it at me, and said, “Follow me.”

 

I followed him through twisting, wandering corridors, until I realized I could not find my way out if I tried.  We finally appeared before a looming, dark door, and Reginald knocked.

 

“Who goes there?”

 

“Reginald, sir.  With a new recruit.”

 

“Enter.”

 

The stone door slowly opened, grinding on the cobblestone floor and omitting sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard.  I winced as I stepped over the threshold. 

 

Reginald dropped to his knees, shaking harder than before, and I followed suit, my cloak hood still covering my head. 

 

“Remove your hood, Servant.”

 

I slipped it off, remaining in a kneeling position.  My blonde curls were restrained with a strand of ribbon, but it was coming undone, and locks of hair spilled from the untidy ponytail to rest around my face.

 

Voldemort spoke in a shocked voice that was so like the young Tom Riddle I’d known that tears sprang to my eyes.  Dory?”

 

Reginald whipped to look at me and his eyes widened.  Though I was older, I was still rather pretty, they told me.  And my hair was very, very recognizable. 

 

Voldemort seemed to remember himself, and spoke in the deep voice again.  “Please rise, Miss Meadowes.”

 

I stood, and raised my gaze level with his.  “My lord, I was mistaken in school.  I wish to join your forces here and now.”

 

But I could barely choke the words out due to the horrors I saw engraved in his whitened, chalky skin and evil red eyes.  Red like blood.

 

He smiled.  “Ah, Miss Meadowes, welcome.  Please push up your left sleeve.”

 

I showed him my arm, and he pointed his wand at it.  A soft spell was uttered, and a terrible tattoo appeared on my arm.  I bit my lip against a gasp of pain.

 

“Show Miss Meadowes to her room, Lucas.”

 

A burly man grabbed my elbow roughly and yanked me out of the chamber.  It had all happened so fast that I didn’t have time to react to any of it.  Soon I was standing alone in a miserable little bedchamber, weeping for everything I’d just become, and everything that I had failed to see that Tom had always been.

 

~~~***~~~

 

The Dark Lord treated me as a bit of an advisor throughout my time as a Death Eater.  I never was ordered to go out and commit murders, thank heaven, but I witnessed many gratuitous murders all the same. 

 

Like the murder of Reginald Preffers.

 

Voldemort killed him when he brought a well-known Auror into the castle to be a Death Eater.  He’d clearly had the same intentions as I did, but wasn’t as talented at hiding it.  The Dark Lord had called me from my chambers to witness Reginald’s murder.  I knew better, but I began to plead for his life. 

 

“Master, save him.  He meant no harm.  He was fooled.”

 

“No, Miss Meadowes, he is a fool.  A wretched fool.”

 

“But-“

 

“CRUCIO!” 

 

Pain like I’d never imagined consumed my very soul.  It was hard to breathe, to want to live, thousands of knives attacked my skin, my head seemed near explosion, my lungs twisted- and then it stopped.

 

Panting, I lay at the Dark Lord’s feet.  Reginald was shaking, but did not appear to be frightened.  He stared at me with hardened eyes, unmoved by the attack.

 

“You do not argue with me, Miss Meadowes,” spat Voldemort as I climbed to my feet, almost collapsing again.  “AVADA KEDAVRA!” 

 

Reginald fell dead.

 

And I began to fear for my life.

 

~~~***~~~

 

Months passed.  Perhaps Voldemort suspected me, and that is why I was locked up in his castle at all times.  I was still able to pass information, information which resulted in the capture of three Death Eaters.

 

It was after the third capture that Voldemort saw me for what I was.

 

He came to my chamber himself, eyes bright with fury.  “You…” 

 

He then called me a name I shall not repeat, stepping closer.  He struck out with his hand so quickly I couldn’t react, and my cheek flared red and my eyes stung.

 

“Master, please…”

 

“Are you, Miss Meadowes, a coward enough to plead for your life?”

 

“No, but I shall plead you for your own.”  I stopped my voice from shaking, but with much difficulty.  “Master, look at me.”

 

Voldemort’s flaming eyes landed on my own, bearing so much hate I’ll admit that I winced. 

 

“Tom Marvolo Riddle, look at what you have become,” I whispered, my hands reaching toward the monster that used to be my dearest friend.

 

“CRUCIO!” 

 

Prepared for the attack, I smoothly dodged the curse, but tears were welling in my eyes.  “Do you not remember?”  I was half-hysterical, my voice coming out in screechy desperation.  “Have you forgotten the peppermint stick I gave you when we were small, small children?  Have you forgotten the Valentine’s Day Ball?  You asked me to it, you know.  Tom, you even kissed me there.”

 

Voldemort screwed up his eyes, and I realized I was getting through to him.  I dug deeper, forcing old, buried memories to surface, so close to my heart that I could feel every emotion, from the sweetness of his touch to the pain of seventh year.

 

I smiled at him, touching his chalk-white cheek.  “I was so infatuated with you, fourth year.  I never told you, did I?”

 

In spite of himself, the Dark Lord shook his head ruefully. 

 

“I loved you even then, and I still love you now, Tom Riddle.  I will always love you, and I always have.  Please, stop this nonsense, stop these brutal murders.  Where has your heart gone?”

 

“Dory-“ he said, his voice sounding odd.

 

“Has it burned in your chest with so much passion for power that you were consumed by it?  Has it frozen?  Has it turned black?  Where is your heart, Tom Riddle?  Where is your heart?

 

Something snapped in his eyes.  Had I won?  I half expected the chalkiness to flush with color, the redness to fade from his eyes.  Yet it intensified.

 

“You fool,” he whispered, his voice low and malicious.  “You fell for it all, didn’t you?  Could you not see?  After first year, everything we had became a lie.  You were an intelligent girl – a quick witted one at that.  And I knew it as much as you did.  Your wit would be useful, very useful, as it clearly proved to be for the Order.”

 

I blinked, unable to absorb it all.  He… he had lied to me?  All those memories… all that time we had spent together… it was all fake?  I did not want to believe it.  And yet something within me told me it was the truth.

 

“As yes, Miss Meadowes, I was on your hide the entire time… I knew what you wanted.  From the day you set foot in this castle I knew what you were after.  I waited to see if you would crack… if you would admit to being a spy or flee to your little Order friends.  You lasted a long time, I’ll give you credit for that.  But no one can stand up to the Dark Lord.  I hoped that you would soon show your weakness, and give in to the pressure.  But you did not.

 

“That is why you are here, Dorcas Meadowes.  It was all a lie – I never loved you.  Love is nothing but cowardly weakness, nothing but an excuse to believe in something that is worse than death – which they call life without love.  Love is something that can be shattered with a blink of an eye, but power?”

 

“Power is nothing compared to love,” I said, my voice shaking.  “If you’d allowed yourself to really feel what you so wonderfully conveyed-“

 

“Shut up!” he screamed, and I almost laughed because it sounded so childish.  “LOVE IS NOTHING!  POWER IS EVERYTHING!”  His voice dropped to a dangerous whisper.  “And those who fail to see that only get in my way.  Goodbye, Miss Meadowes, the most gullible excuse for a human being I’ve ever known to exist.

 

“AVADA KEDAVRA!”  There was no way to escape that jet of green light shot at me.  I screamed at him.  I still did not believe him.

 

“Where has it gone, Tom Riddle?”

 

Then the light consumed me, and I knew no more.

 

~~~***~~~

 

I could not bear to leave behind such unfinished work.  I chose the path of the living dead; I chose to wander the earth for eternity as a silvery spirit. 

 

My story remains untold.  Until now.

 

And I remain a shadow of a soul, floating the halls of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry ceaselessly, unnoticed by the students and staff.  I am not social or even friendly, but few of them see me.  I prefer to haunt the towers and the lake, especially in winter. 

 

In winter, everything else is as cold as my heart.

 

But when I remember Tom, I try to remember him as the boy he once was, not the terror he became.  To me, they were two separate men.  There was the sweet boy who charmed me with his innocence… then there was the monster that he became.  If I block my memories of everything I was led to believe and feel, it makes the afterlife bearable.  But what I would not give to forget.

 

As I sit by the lake, still staring at the crystallized landscape, I swallow a soft sob, as I try to remember one thing about Tom Riddle, dead before he’d even really lived.  I try to remember our friendship, our childhood days.

 

And I remember how we laughed.

//
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