Two Months Ago
"Oh, Master and Mistress would be so sad, so sad Master would especially be…" Kreacher mumbled as he curled in his nest-like bed under the stove, mirthlessly chewing on some molded bread.
He was a disappointment, a disgrace, a failure…
Oh, the shame of it all…
Kreacher glared hatefully at the locket Master Regulus had given to him, on his dying wish, to destroy.
To him! His responsibility! Master trusted him!
And yet he couldn't do a thing. Such dark magic – Kreacher couldn't do it! 'Twasn't Kreacher's fault! He tried and tried and tried…
"No!" the house elf scolded himself vehemently; there was no one else to blame. "All Kreacher's fault. All Kreacher's fault. ALL KREACHER'S FAULT!" he screeched, thrashing violently with years' worth of pent-up frustrations, not caring if he injured himself in the midst of his tantrum – No, he DESERVED punishment. He was a bad, bad house elf; a disobedient house elf.
Days and days of trying to accomplish his mission had driven the servant of the Black house into a maddening desperation.
See, House Elves were rather odd magical beings. The foreign magic they possessed easily rivaled that of wizards' – with or without wands. The only thing that kept them from being of equal standing was their natural instinct to yield to the point of servitude. They found no greater joy than in satisfying their masters' demands, and wizards in return extorted the House Elves' submissive nature.
Still, not all wizards were ignorant enough to overlook, ignore, or wave away the strengths of the odd creatures. Sadly, instead of understanding and treating their loyal workers with compassion and respect, wizards and witches feared the unknown powers and consequently bound House Elves into contracts and vows, forever sealing their extraordinary abilities.
The declination of morality continued as the fine print of the dozens upon dozens of contacts and vows concluded in total dominance of not only the species actions, but their mentality as well.
Their natural duty to serve and the satisfaction of a job well done combined with the unnatural restraints of their own self-value lead to a House Elf with not only the ambition to serve, but an obsession.
Simply said, a House Elf who cannot complete a direct order will eventually go mad.
And so the sad fate had befallen Kreacher, who was forever faithful to the Black household, even in death.
"Still, Kreacher cannot give up! No, he will not give up!" he sobbed angrily after several minutes, squirming from under the stove, dragging the locket behind him.
He placed the locket on the cool marble floor as he had done dozens of times before, and
unleashed the all powerful house elf magic he could muster.
To his dismay, the locket stayed tauntingly undamaged, while the flooring underneath and nearby was burned to a crisp with several large chunks missing.
"Once more… once more…" he muttered, a determined sheen in his bloodshot eyes.
So many years, and yet there wasn't a single scratch.
Kreacher trembled in fury.
"KREACHER HATES YOU, HATES YOU, HATES YOU!" he hissed, his face contorted in loathing and madness.
And then the locket did something it never did before.
Marvolo Gaunt's ring Horcrux frowned as he held his knight, hovering over the chessboard hesitantly. It wasn't the game that was on his mind, though.
"Hey guys," he said slowly, "I've been thinking…"
"Well, that's a surprise," Raven drawled.
"Shhh…" Nagini's Horcrux said while smoothing out the wrinkles in his shirt, silencing the Diadem Horcrux with an impatient wave of his hand. "This is a once in a lifetime spectacle. We don't want to miss it."
"You're right. Sorry." Raven solemnly nodded to Ring. "Please continue."
Jerks. Morons. Prats. Pieces of unicorn dung, Ring seethed inwardly. Instead, he gritted his teeth and continued, "I. Was. Thinking. That. Maybe…" He took a breath and unlocked his jaws, which had become sore with the pressure.
"Maybe Tom was… you know…" Ring swallowed his pride and finished, "…right."
Scar Horcrux scowled.
"Right? What the bloody hell is right about sucking the life out of an eleven year old girl?"
Ring made an irritated sound. "No. That's not what I'm talking about (though it is pretty messed up once you think about it). I'm talking about the other side. The, uh, living world."
Helga Hufflepuff's cup Horcrux looked up from the opposite side of the chessboard, his face thoughtful. "You know, I was thinking about it, too."
"I thought you all didn't care for the other world. Everything we need is in here, if I remember correctly," Scar said, not in an accusatory or taunting tone. He was simply curious and slightly cautious at the change of heart.
Ring shrugged with a somewhat sulky annoyance.
"Well, Tom said–"
"But you can't always trust in what 'Tom says'," Nagini cut in.
"I know," Ring snapped. "I know. But this time is different, and you guys know it too." He impatiently slammed his knight onto the board, taking out one of Huffle's bishops. "There's something different out there. Stuff we know about, but don't really know."
"Yeah. And that's how it's supposed to be," Scar replied. "All we know is that the purpose of our existence is to simply exist. Nothing else. There's no point in leaving." Although he was also curious, Scar knew that if they were to leave, they'd have to have a power source so they could walk among the living – namingly, another possible victim like the poor eleven year old girl Tom was possessing.
Unfortunately, Ring Horcrux didn't see it that way,
"Oh, so that's how it's gonna be, huh? Just gonna give up? Who gives a damn about the purpose? Who has the right to decide our purpose, anyways?" Ring spat angrily. "I'll decide it on my own, thanks."
Hufflepuff Horcrux unwisely took that moment to mumble something incoherently.
"WHAT?" Ring growled.
"Um…" Huffle shrunk back. "Ch-checkmate…"
The board was promptly flipped over.
If Tom was, in fact, capable of engaging outward self-indulgence, right then would have been the moment he would have grinned like the Weasley twins after a particularly glorious prank and let out a little celebratory dance.
However, as a Dark Lord, he would rather face insanity by the Crusiatus Curse then to demote himself to such a primitive level.
So he just settled for a victorious smirk that accompanied a malicious spark in his eyes.
"You certainly seemed to be satisfied," a pleasant voice noted.
Tom's smirk grew a fraction.
"I suppose you could say that."
Salazar Slytherin's Locket Horcrux stepped from out of the shadows, shaking his head. "Subtle manipulation, Riddle? You and your web of plans never cease to entertain me."
"I would hope not – that would certainly be a decline of my credibility."
After a moment Tom shifted his gaze from the noisy group of Horcruxes to his… current ally.
"I've been meaning to congratulate the return of your sanity for quite some time, Locket. Apologies for not mentioning it earlier. As you know, I was rather busy."
"And I in return will graciously accept the barbed welcome. It couldn't be helped that Salazar Slytherin was an unstable character," Locket casually replied before growing thoughtful. "After all those years… Well, while it does have its benefits, I still can't discern whether I fully welcome an orderly mind. Not quite yet, anyways."
Tom raised an eyebrow. "Excuse me if I find that sentiment to be a bit odd."
"It's all right," Locket laughed. "I find that most sane people tend to share your opinion."
Two hours, forty three minutes, and several insulting matches later found five Horcruxes in front of the door Tom had elusively slipped through to escape to the other world.
"–I'm pretty sure–"
"No, no," Nagini said boredly, examining his nails. "Let him continue. He might break through the door any minute now."
"But this is a complete waste of time," Scar complained.
"I disagree. There's plenty of entertainment value," Raven supplied cheerfully.
Scar Horcrux let out a sound of exasperation. Why the hell was he always surrounded by idiots? Well, he mused, I suppose it's better company than, let's say, someone without morals like Tom.
He took a glance at his companions and saw Hufflepuff Horcrux knitting socks.
Maybe he did need some new friends.
Said thought was interrupted when the door flew open and Ring suddenly went crashing through it.
It then slammed shut and locked with a finalizing click.
The four remaining Horcruxes stared in stunned silence.
"Well," Raven commented after a moment, "that was certainly unexpected."
"Ow!" Ring hissed as he suddenly fell through the door, only to be thrust from surprise to confusion to see he had sprawled on top of a girl.
She was rather scrawny, her face peppered with freckles and her hair a fiery red color that was only matched by the look of shocked fury on her face.
"You," she hissed as she roughly pushed him off her. "You idiot. Do you have any idea as to what you've done?" Her dark Hogwarts robes whipped angrily as she pulled up to her full height – an impressive 4'9".
"What do you mean, you bloody midget?" Ring snapped back, not very keen on being called an idiot. Especially by a kid.
Tom took a deep breath as he fought the urge to curse Ring into oblivion.
Tom Riddle was, after all, a calm and precise person. He chose his moves carefully, with cunning and brutal apathy. This and his natural genius allowed him to widen his boundaries and tighten his reign on the holds of power.
However, there was one slight miscalculation.
He had not expected the Ring Horcrux to be an idiot of such epic proportions.
Tom could almost see his months' worth of careful planning starting to unravel into so much dust, and while that was enough to make anyone very upset, it put a hormonal Dark Lord into a very, very near apocalyptic mood.
And the worst part was that this all took place while he was in the body of an eleven year old girl.
For now, they'd have to escape before someone saw–
Tom closed his eyes and took another deep breath before turning around and grinning so hard his face hurt, his plastic smile not faltering even when he saw the unwelcome company was none other than the girl's notoriously stupid brother, Ron Weasley.
"Hi Ron!" Tom chirped, trying his best to imitate the small Gryffindor, all the while silently repeating CrucioCrucioCrucioCrucio...
"Listen, brat. You need to explain what the hell is going on," Ring scowled as he grabbed her shoulder, causing Ron to frown and say something among the lines of 'Let go of my sister, you jerk!"
"Oh, it's okay, Ron. He's a friend," Tom said, silently motioning for Ring to play along.
"Well, if you're sure…" the older Weasley said, his gaze shifting suspiciously to the other Horcrux. "He doesn't look like a student, though. Who exactly is the bloke?"
"Oh, actually he's…" Tom started innocently before whipping out Ginny's wand and sending out a nonverbal stunning hex. The look of surprise and betrayal on the Weasley boy's face made him smirk. For a second he contemplated using the Killing Curse –the boy was an eyesore to the wizarding community– but unfortunately Unforgiveable Curses were easily tracked, and he wasn't looking for unnecessary attention. So he sent for a simple knocking out hex followed by a crisp "Obliviate."
Tom couldn't help but groan when another one of Potter's friends (Hermione, was it?) ambled by and had to be attacked and Obliviated. A simple Avada Kedavra would make life so much easier.
The Dark Lord stuck in a little girl then proceeded to levitate the two unconscious bodies into an empty classroom, erasing the memories of nearby paintings for extra caution.
Tom then stalked down the hallways darkly, Ring forced to follow behind like an indignant puppy.
He had no idea as they were walking away from the crime scene that the gears in Tom's mind were turning a mile a minute, shattering the perfected puzzle of plans and rearranging them to accept the Ring Horcrux's unplanned and early arrival.
Ring was short-tempered, rude, impulsive, and slightly stupid, but not a complete moron. He could therefore note that the redhead was not someone he wanted to piss off at the moment, and wisely kept his mouth shut.
Oddly enough, the child seemed to know him. But that was impossible, considering he hadn't set foot in the real world since… Well. Since he was created.
And then it suddenly hit him.
Finally, finally, finally…
He was out!
He ran his hand though his hair and breathed in deeply, taking in the senses he had been deprived of for so many years.
Everything was so new. When he took in a breath, air flowed into his lungs, and it felt wonderful. But… weird. Oxygen flowed in and out, and it was an odd sensation for someone who had never had the need for it. Out in the real world, it seemed air was something necessary, and one could not go more than a few minutes without it, and it was really rather uncomfortable trying to not breathe.
The second sensation was not as pleasant.
A dull throb began to settle around his left shoulder, where he had been repeatedly slamming against the door.
Pain was something he had not ever experienced, and after a minute of mulling over it, Ring decided he didn't particularly like pain very much. It was annoying.
The two pair of feet echoed slightly in the castle of Hogwarts, indicating how large the building was. Ring had also never heard such a thing as an echo, and it was a curious thing.
His eyes trailed on the stony walls of the castle walls, where portraits of various people would occasionally shout out as they passed by.
And then he saw something strange.
On the wall someone had written,
"The Chamber of Secrets has been opened. Enemies of the heir, beware."
Ring frowned. The words looked like they had been painted some time ago, but…
There was just something about it.
Something he didn't like.
"Hey, what's that?" he asked the girl.
Too deep in thought, or just blatantly ignoring him, she didn't respond, much to his irritation.
"Tell me," he snapped, stopping her short and totally forgetting about the two students she had easily taken down and the fact that he didn't have a wand.
"None of your concern," Tom replied sharply, eyes narrowing.
"Fine," Ring said, eyes narrowing in return. "Then who are you and how exactly do you know me?"
"That will all be explained later. You don't have much time," the girl/Dark Lord replied, his tense shoulders relaxing a fraction as he finished reestablishing his plans. Tom would have to work fast.
"Wait, what do you mean I don't have much time?" Ring asked, confused.
Ignoring him a second time, Tom called out, "Locket!"
With a loud crack, Slytherin's Locket Horcrux apparated in front of the pair, startling Ring.
"What? Locket, how are you… and you… You're Tom?" Ring cut in, finally putting the pieces together. He was wavering on the options of whether he should be creeped out, shocked, or amused that the Diary Horcrux was stuck in the body of a little girl.
Tom continued to ignore him.
"Change of plans, Locket. Take him to the Gaunt shack and then to 12 Grimmauld Place. You know what to do, and do it quickly."
With a brisk nod, Locket told hold of a protesting Ring and disappeared with a small pop.
Said thought was his first opinion when Ring dry heaved into some bushes with Locket awkwardly patting his back in consolation.
"I suppose it isn't a very comfortable means of travel, but it is convenient, so…"
"That," Ring spat afterwards, "is a load of Nargle shit. We are never doing that again."
"I'm afraid we don't have a choice," Locket said apologetically, helping up the younger Horcrux.
"What do you mean?" the other replied warily.
"You, my friend, are a Horcrux–"
"Please let me finish," Locket requested patiently as the two walked along the weed-ridden forest path.
After he decided that he wasn't going to be interrupted again, he continued.
"You are a Horcrux's conscious in the midst of reality – something that opposes several laws. You were not meant to exist in the physical world, and your presence is something of an anomaly. For every action taken place, energy must be taken or released, and there is an opposite reaction for every action." Locket paused for a minute. "In other words, you are in desperate need of a power source."
"Hm… sure. Whatever," Ring mused half-heartedly as he hungrily eyed the woods around him. Tom really was right. He had seen pictures of plants and trees before, but this was completely different. The earthy smell that accompanied fertile soil was almost intoxicating as he walked alongside Locket, and he wanted nothing more than to tell the other Horcrux to shut up and go exploring.
"…and therefore you will cease to exist," Locket finished.
It took a second for the words to process through Ring's brain, and he whipped his head to the side and chocked out, a single "What?"
"You weren't listening, were you," Locket sighed.
"No, I wasn't. But I am now."
"Well," Locket began again, "in short, your existence in the physical world needs to be powered by an outer source because you were simply not meant to be. Hence, you need a power source if you want to continue living."
"But… well… fine. How much time do I have?"
"That can be easily determined," Locket said lightly. "Lift up your arms."
Ring did, and he had a sharp intake.
His hands and forearms had become almost completely translucent, and he could barely make out the outline of them. He tried rubbing his hands together, but was only horrified to see that they passed through each other uselessly.
Locket stared passively. "I'd say you have a good fifteen minutes before you vanish completely."
"Shit. How am I gonna find a… a… source?"
"Starting here," Locket replied as the pair walked out of the forest. He pointed to a hut covered in vines and weeds. "The Gaunt shack. Where your physical Horcrux is currently residing, I believe." Wasting no more time than necessary, he continued, "Hurry and retrieve the ring. I'm afraid I won't be of much help here. You have the ability to pass through the powerful wards unharmed, and I'm not in the mood to trouble myself to get through them."
Although they weren't really his, the ghosts that haunted his memories associated with the Gaunt shack sent chills down his spine.
Ring swallowed, fidgeting. "I hate this place."
"Do you hate it enough to die?"
With that Ring remembered the gravity of the situation and hurried to the lonely shack.
Hidden beneath the layers of foliage, the shack almost seemed to collapse under the weight, and yet still managed to reek with a foul and malevolent air.
Trying not to pay too much attention to details –the memories were just too much– he hastily wrenched the knob, only to have pulled it out of the door. Ring cursed before violently kicking down the door itself, the rotting wood easily crumbling under the assault.
Dust billowed, making his eyes water and throat contract instantly.
Other than the thick layer of grime, it was pretty much how it was when…
A dark haired young man cautiously walked up to the to the shack, shaking his head in disgust as he slipped through the door which had a snake nailed onto it, flapping as the door creaked shut.
So this was how the heirs of Slytherin lived; scrounging in poverty and instability, their blood lineage being the sole reason of keeping their heads lifted in ignorant pride.
Tom Marvolo Riddle scowled at the lone madman sitting in a jutted rocking chair, his eyes carrying the glazed aftermath of years of inbreeding.
He lifted his wand and –
Ring blinked, stumbling out of the flashaback.
Squinting, he ran to where he remembered hiding the ring and wrenched the floorboards that concealed a golden box. He refused to acknowledge the remnants of the hut and ran from the hovel, sprinting through the musty halls and old rooms.
When he stumbled out to Locket, the other Horcrux wordlessly nodded and firmly grabbed him, apparating once more.
Ring felt sick, but it was nothing compared to the nauseating sensation he went through after the first apparition.
The two had apparated into 12 Grimmauld Place, a large mansion like estate which was equally as disgusting as the Gaunt Shack, the only difference being size.
"What's next?" Ring mumbled as he grabbed his stomach, only to realize that his almost- invisible arm passed through instead of pressing against his abdomen. That probably wasn't a good sign.
"Now for the 'power source'. Or better known as your physical core," Locket answered as he climbed up the stairs, leaving dirt-tracked footsteps along the way.
"I-I have to possess someone?" Ring asked, alarmed.
"No. Not possess. Kill," Locket said, then laughed when he saw Ring lose what little color he had in his face. "Riddle expected you to be unwilling to do that, so he sent me here. You won't have to kill a human. There's a Boggart up in the attic," he explained.
The stairs were long and so the Locket Horcrux took that time to explain some more.
"You didn't drop the ring, did you?"
"Good. It needs to be with you as you kill the Boggart, so its life essence can be absorbed."
"Okay," Ring responded. After some thought, he asked, "Why were you able to apparate at Hogwarts? My memories tell me that there're wards that make it impossible."
"Riddle told me you were stupid, but I beg to differ. You're actually quite perspective," Locket complimented.
Ring bristled, but was too tired to comment.
"Anyways," he continued, "the physical core I used was a House Elf. When the Horcrux absorbs the life essence of a living thing, it also absorbs some of its characteristic and abilities. House Elves use a whole different sort of magic from wizards, and getting through heavily protected wards is one of the few convenient abilities I now possess. If you successfully kill the Boggart, you might be lucky enough to inherit its ability to transform into a person's worst fear," he finished, sounding a little envious.
Ring absorbed this information as the two finished climbing the stairs leading to attic.
He ignored the spider webs that curtained his face, and the damp chill that accompanied the fact that his entire body was now almost completely translucent, he didn't have a wand, and he was feeling as weak as ever.
There was not much time left.
With a gentlemanly bow, Locket opened the door leading to the attic, and smiled.
A/N: Hoho. So I actually continued.
To be honest, I believe this chapter is a load of orangutan shit. Oh well.
Critiques, non-idiotic suggestions, and barbed compliments are received with open arms.