Summary: Effie Potter thought being a Horcrux was a bit like being a Jack-in-the-box. She was pretty on the outside, all squared lines glazed red and gold, but wind her up hard enough and out popped Tom. That's when people typically began screaming.
Or: Effie Potter lied through her teeth, accidentally slipped into an alternate reality where Death Eaters were Professors and not locked away in Azkaban or, preferably, dead, and may have inadvertently caught the unwanted attention of DADA Professor Tom Marvolo Riddle and Astronomy Professor Abraxas Malfoy while simultaneously battling the very much alive Tom cooing in her head.
Or: The Tom/Fem!Harry/Tom/Abraxas fic no one wanted, but is still somehow here!
To Lie and Live, and Live and Lie.
Euphemia Potter's P.O.V
Contrary to what the scar on her hand stated, Euphemia Potter did tell lies. Effie lied all the time, to tell the truth, and that was a little funny wasn't it? To be honest about lying? It was like saying you cast an unforgivable in kindness. Akin to oil and water the two should not mix, but they did inside Effie despite the baffling incongruity.
Euphemia Potter did lie, and some days she thought a swift Avada to the back of the head would be a kindness. A redundant sort of charity, seen as the Killing Curse never stuck to her, but surely it was the thought that counted? The thought that she knew she was something terribly wrong, something that should not exist, a pretty poison pretending to be a real girl.
Unlike Pinocchio, however, her nose did not grow after her lies, the little white ones that came too easy and the ones that were not so little or pale but came all the same, and she often got away with it. Effie lied when she was eleven to Professor Quirrell about the Philosopher's stone. She lied when she was twelve to Professor Dumbledore about hearing the Basilisk. She lied when saving Sirius, and she lied when competing in the Triwizard Tournament, and she lied to the Order, and to Snape, and to everyone she had ever met at least once. She lied, and lied, and lied and lived.
They called it aposematism in the animal kingdom. Brightly coloured animals warning the bigger predator they were venomous or poisonous if attacked. Perhaps that was why she had her mother's red hair, and her impossibly green eyes. Reminiscent of a Coral snake, Effie was banded in pigment and caution. Merlin's gift of trying to warn those around her. It was pointless, of course. No one listened, no one saw, and Effie slithered on by.
So, was it really that surprising in the following weeks after the Battle of Hogwarts, when Effie was quarantined in Saint Mungo's for observation, just a precautionary step Pomfrey had assured her, that Effie lied her way to freedom?
No, it really wasn't. It shouldn't have been. Not to herself, and not to her friends, and not to anyone. They knew what she was now, everybody did, though no one dared say it. As if Horcrux was a curse filthier than spewing Mudblood, as if by speaking it they risked splitting their own soul to tatters, as if a word could taint the tongue that spawned it.
Maybe it could, Euphemia thought. Magick Moste Evile, a Dark Arts reference book written in the early middle ages by Godelot, whose sole purpose was to record and forewarn of the darkest magics in existence, only declared: Of the Horcrux, wickedest of magical inventions, we shall not speak nor give direction.
As for the word itself, it was comprised of hore, old English meaning dirt, evil or impurity, and crux, meaning container, pitcher, or jar. Therefore, in the plainest vernacular, Effie was either a jar of dirt or a pitcher of evil. That did absolute wonders for ones self-image. Yet, if Effie had to choose, she would choose the latter. Pitcher of evil at least made her sound a little festive and merry, as if she were a margarita of sin topped with one of those jaunty little umbrellas.
Nevertheless, most people didn't see it that way. Most heard of what she was, and shrank down deep, stuttering and dithering, and trying to look anywhere but at her. Others locked her up in a cheerfully repugnant yellow hospital room, observing and questioning her just to be sure whatever shred of Tom she had housed was well and truly gone.
"Do you still have nightmares? The ones like before?"
"No. I've been sleeping soundly."
"Do you see him or… Feel him around?"
"I felt a cold draft last night, but that was because I left the bloody window open."
"Do you hear his voice?"
"What? Like I hear yours right now? No. I told you repeatedly, I don't hear him and I haven't for a while now."
"Do you have any urges, any strange feelings you believe aren't entirely your own?"
"Do you see him at all? A shadow in the corner of your eye? A spectral manifestation?"
"The last time I saw Tom was on the courtyard where he died."
"Does your scar ache in any way? Burn as it used to?"
"My scar feels… Dead. Like any other scar does, I suppose."
Again and again they asked her the same questions, merely phrased slightly different each time as if they were trying to catch her out, peek a could-be-Tom lurking in the background. Of course, they don't, and Effie didn't slip. Not once, not ever, because all the best lies are rooted in truth.
Her answers are what she desperately wanted to be true, and each lie was a wish, a hopeless, dreadful wish, and maybe words did have power, and if Effie said it long enough, hard enough, littered with enough conviction, one day it would be true. Tom would be dead. Tom would be gone. Her sacrifice was meant to have wiped his very name from the face of the earth and-
Only, it hadn't.
Her death had not touched the Tom in her head, the one that had been with her from the cradle. He stubbornly clung to her like a stain. Soiled and smeared like a bug on a windshield, but still there, still a black mark on her psyche.
He was weak in the beginning. Injured and barely there. Effie only dreamt of him. A mist of obscure smoke that smothered her, suffocating her in his anger, his fury, a wailing wind that knocked the breath from her as he screamed his rage in her skull until her head felt like it was going to pop. On the third night of the same dream, the third night of no rest, Effie roared back, and he hadn't tried melting her mind since.
At first, she put it down to stress and a poor subconscious attempt at working through her trauma. A terrifying dream she wasn't quite ready to face. Evidently, Tom didn't take her wants and needs into consideration, what she is or isn't ready for, and five days into her isolation she started to feel him.
She felt him in the bottom of her chest, similar to water on the lungs, and she drowned in a sense of Tom. Sometimes, she was so full of him she couldn't breathe, her contours stuffed with a shape that wasn't her own, and other times there was simply a weight there, a foreign bulk, as if there was a clutch of snake eggs in her sternum, incubating, preparing to hatch.
There was a spark of irrational anger that spurs in her gut as Pomfrey dawdled with her potions. There was a sting prickling her skin like a rash when her friends visited. There was an echoing sort of slick relief blanketing her when it's just her-
Just her and him, at night.
None of these feelings were her own. They're His. Effie could tell the difference. Tom's emotions were like a shattered mirror, shiny and sleek and cutting to the bone when held. And Effie holds them. She has to, to push him back, she had to hold them and slice her palms apart and Tom… Tom laughed in her head, as if this is all so very fucking amusing to him.
He didn't laugh for long when Effie spun the tables on him, discovering, quite by accident, that imagining puppies and rainbows and fluffy little kittens made him feel sick, and soon, she was he one chuckling at his misery, his pain.
Maybe that made her a bad person, but Effie couldn't find it in herself to care all that much. She didn't really have the time to. By the end of her first week in Saint Mungo's, she heard him for the first time-
She heard him all over again.
Effie was watching Pomfrey finish pouring out her nightly sleeping potion, back to her, wand swishing, and she went to open her mouth, to tell Pomfrey she really did still feel Tom, and it was getting worse day by day and-
"Don't. You know as well as I do they would sooner kill you than let you walk out of here if they knew you had a tag-along. They'll do it. You know they will. They've all paid too much, for far too long, to let you live if they knew…"
Pomfrey turned towards her, smiling, motherly and soft, potion in hand.
"Are you alright, dear?"
She must be pale, Effie thought. Pale and wide-eyed, and beyond sickly, but she grinned, bared her teeth in mock contentment, and, by some miracle, her voice did not waver, although it felt as if her throat was being dragged through a bed of rusted nails.
Like stepping into well-worn jeans, the old lie was comforting it its threadbare familiarity. Pomfrey gobbled it up. That was the difference between Euphemia Potter and Tom Riddle. Tom lived to lie, but Effie lied to live.
There was a rush of cold air at her neck, an unseen hand at the nape, thumb stroking up and down the column languidly.
Effie broke out in goose bumps.
A.N: This fic is Inspired by the story of Jekyll and Hyde, the Greek myth of Narcissus, and some weird fever dreams after sitting through a re-run of the Harry Potter movies. I honestly have no idea how far this fic will go, exactly what direction it is heading in, (though smut will appear, so fair warning) or pretty much anything else, and I just hope you will enjoy the ride!