ACT 1: Together
The Chamber of Secrets is every bit as filthy as one would expect from a secret cave accessed from the sewers.
I suppose that that may be a little harsh, but Slytherin really should have known better than to build a giant cave under a lake, then connect it to a plumbing system.
Either way, my trek to try and find the abducted Ginny Weasley is far from pleasant. While there is no actual sewage down here (small mercies), the water reeks like a stagnant pond. Of course, the water is also everywhere, and as such, has long since soaked through my shoes, making every step an unpleasant squelch as the water was briefly squeezed out of my socks by my own body weight.
Part of me wants to hurry to the end so I can get out of here as soon as possible. The other part of me knows that hurrying is a bad idea when dealing with a giant snake that could literally kill me with a glance.
God, how do I always manage to get myself into such situations?
Oh, yeah, it's because I tend to rush into danger whenever I realise someone else is in trouble.
"Stupid saving-people hero complex." I mutter to myself. Normally, I'd try and keep my voice down, but the constant sloshing of water isn't exactly keeping me incognito. Apparently, using silencing charms on one's footsteps doesn't stop them from making noise when said feet are submerged in several inches of water.
Sometimes, I think I'll never understand magic. I'm sure Hermione could explain why the silencing charm isn't working based on some principle I've never heard of that she read in an obscure book somewhere and now thinks is common knowledge.
I round another corner, with still no sign of Ginny or the basilisk. I really hope that she's at the end of the main path, rather than one of the numerous smaller side passages. I know that's what I'd do if I wanted to hide something or someone.
I move past the next bend, and see an ornate carving at the end of the passage. Picking up my pace, I can make out the form of two interwoven stone serpents covering the wall.
Well, Parseltongue worked last time, so let's hope it works again.
The sound of stone grinding against stone drowns out the idle dripping of water as the carved snakes come alive and slither out of the way, parting the stone wall behind them.
The next room is far more impressive than anything else in the chamber. Ornate carvings of all kinds of snakes adorn a massive domed ceiling, while large statues of various serpents line the room's perimetre. At the far end of the room, a large statue of someone, presumably Slytherin himself, stands over twenty feet tall, while a larger relief of his face covers the wall behind him. And in front of the statue lies…
"Ginny!" I shout out. Seeing the paleness of her face and the stillness of her body sends my brain into a full panic. I try shaking her awake several times before I have the sense to check for a pulse.
Well, I feel… something. So, I now know that she's alive, but not how she's doing. I have no idea what a weak pulse feels like since I've never felt someone's pulse before. As I try and figure out how to get her out of here, the soft clatter of wood against stone pulls me out of my thoughts.
The sound of someone picking up a wand is quite unmistakable.
I whirl around, reaching into my robes to grab my own wand…
...Only to find it twirling around the fingers of a familiar spectral figure.
"Riddle?" I gasp out. "Tamelyn Riddle. What are you doing here?"
A wry grin stretches across her face. "Making sure that everything proceeds as necessary." She replies.
Proceeding as necessary? Why would she…
"It was you, then." I say, the realisation hitting me. "You opened the Chamber. You wrote those messages on the wall. You commanded the basilisk to petrify all of those muggleborns."
"Not quite." She says, her grin growing wider. "But very good deductive reasoning. I'm actually very impressed that you were able to figure out Tessie's identity. The ability of a Basilisk's indirect gaze to petrify is far from well known."
I decide not to mention that it was Hermione, not me, who figured out the basilisk's identity. I also wonder why the basilisk's name is Tessie. It seems like a rather cutesy name for a killer serpent.
"But you missed a few points. For one, I was trying to kill them, not petrify them. It would have made this whole process easier." She says as she gestures at her transparent body. "And that leads me to my second point. I was hardly able to act directly. I didn't even have a physical manifestation until today. No, the true culprit was none other than Ginny Weasley herself." Tamelyn reaches into Ginny's robes, pulling out a very familiar black book.
"The marvels of magic never cease to amaze me, you know. To think that something as inconspicuous as an old diary is a means to possession by the greatest dark witch of the age."
My eyes narrow. That does not sound like a normal thing for a sixteen year old girl to say, not that I had any experience. "Who are you, really?"
She giggles, a haughty, arrogant sound, and stares me in the eye. "Don't you recognise the future Lady Voldemort? I'm not surprised that my future self went through great pains to dissociate her identity from mine. The half-blood bastard daughter of a squib and a muggle is hardly a worthwhile background to hold onto, especially not when it comes to manipulating the pureblood elite."
I mentally kick myself. Even with the "Lady" title, it was easy to forget Voldemort was female, especially since no one called her anything but "you-know-who". Heck, it's hard to remember that she was even human, what with the horrible deeds she committed and how grotesque and monstrous she looked when I saw her last year. The idea that she had such a human appearance once is… disconcerting. A reminder that someone chose to be like that. But still, this couldn't really be her…
"Voldemort was over fifty years old when she died that Halloween. You still look like you did when you were sixteen, in that memory. You're not her. Not exactly."
"Oh, believe me, my core self did not die that night. My existence here proves it." I file that information away for later — it seems important. "No," she continues, "I'm a… remnant, shall we say. A little bit of myself that was torn off five decades ago." She shakes her head before continuing, "I'm afraid that's all I have to say on that matter. I can't have you getting too much information, after all."
She has been rather forthcoming with information, and I have no idea why. That sends me into a bit of a panic. I really wish Hermione was here. She was always better at this sort of thing.
Okay, what do I know? I know she was possessing Ginny. I know that the diary was involved. I know she's stronger now than she was earlier, so…
"You're killing Ginny, aren't you?" I ask. "Sacrificing her to restore your own life?"
Tamelyn scowls. "I should have known better than to trust that little whelp when she told me you were oblivious. You're figuring out more things than I'd care for you to know. I suppose that's the price I pay for trying to buy time."
"Make no mistake, Harry," she says as she begins to pace around the room, "I have every intention of finishing what my core self failed to do, but I need answers first. I need to know why I failed to kill you eleven years ago. You either tell me willingly, or I get the information from you forcibly. The second choice will not be pleasant, so you can start talking."
"I… I don't really know how. Dumbledore said it was my mother's sacrifice that saved me, but I'm not sure."
Tamelyn's scowl deepens. "Secretive old codger. He always held information too close to himself even when I was at school. I don't believe what he told you was the truth, though. No, there has to have been something more." She levels my wand at me. "Everything Ginny has told me about you makes me think there's something more. She told me all about your little escapade last year where you met my core self and fought her off. There's more to your survival than a simple act of "love" overcoming the killing curse. Looks like I'll have to take option two if I need answers."
I try and back off, but a wave of magic passes over me and I feel my body freeze in place.
Tamelyn grabs my face and wrenches it so we're staring each other in my eye. At her touch, my scar begins throbbing uncomfortably, but not painfully, a surprising contrast to last year's "Quirrelmort" experience.
"Time to see what you really know. Legili-"
I brace myself for whatever spell she was casting, but nothing happens. Her gaze is instead locked just above my eyes on my forehead. God knows I've had enough people staring up there in the past.
Riddle then starts laughing hysterically, much to my surprise.
"Oh, oh, this is too rich! I can't believe it!" She gasps out.
She levitates my body over to Ginny's and begins using my wand to carve on the ground.
"There is something special about you, Potter, and I would never have guessed it if I hadn't touched you. Looks like you won't be dying today, and lucky you, you even get to rescue the girl. Well, technically, I'll be saving the girl, but I'm sure you can survive not getting the credit for once."
Tamelyn turns to the relief of Slytherin's face on the wall and hisses.
"§Speak to me, Slytherin, greatest of the Hogwarts four!§"
The sound of grinding stone fills the chamber, followed by a large slithering noise.
"§When the magic in this room fades, eat this book. When you are done with that, use your venom to destroy the runic circle on the ground. There can be no evidence left behind.§"
I see Tamelyn point her wand at Ginny's form. I try and struggle against my paralysis, but remain powerless as she casts a spell I heard cast unsuccessfully less than an hour ago.
Tamelyn moves back in between myself and Ginny. She begins chanting unfamiliar words, the air around us growing saturated with power as she proceeds. Once whatever ritual she was performing completes, my head feels like it's being split open by my scar. The pain fades quickly, and the last thing I hear before my consciousness fades entirely is Tamelyn's voice echoing in the back of my head.
If I'd known this was an option, I would have done it in the first place.
A/N: The world doesn't have enough fem!Riddle or fem!Voldemort, let alone Harry/fem!Voldemort. This is my contribution to fixing that terrible problem.
Partial blame on the fic rests on TheEndless7 for introducing me to fem!Voldemort in Limpieza de Sangre. Full blame for this fic rests on all those who made me love the Harry/fem!Riddle pairing. Those would be t3t, author of Thunderstorm, Leyrann, author of The Advantages of Being Sane, Rikuriroxa, author of Power is Control and Gaining Power, and aelursadgod, author of Descent.
This fic will be darker than Scrambled Sorting, or at least, Scrambled Sorting as it as at the point of writing this note.