EDITED. October 2020

Part One, Chapter Two

Dark eyes surveyed the unfolding activities before him, feeling his disgust heightening with each passing second.

It was all about status, power, and flaunting wealth and popularity.

Izar leaned against the wall near the refreshments, eyeing the dancing couples, as well as the groups of gossiping witches and wizards. It was only one of the many Ministry galas held during the year. Typically, the galas were either hosted by a pure-blooded family dabbling in politics for the first time, or established families already cemented in the political scene.

It became a contest of sorts.

Who could throw the most lavish, most entertaining celebration? Those who succeeded would be the talk of Britain's Wizarding society for months. A high esteem, indeed, and they got to publicly promote their cause, or their intended candidate for the Wizengamot.

Izar didn't find it impressive in the least.

He couldn't help but fathom how far he'd come these past four years without the name or gold of an established family.

Despite the advantages he could have attained acquainting himself with the pure-blooded children at school, he hadn't formed any particular bond with them—or anyone. For the first two and a half years, Draco Malfoy had been a constant thorn to his side, muttering 'Mudblood' in the corridors, or going through unnecessary lengths to ridicule him. Eventually, the blond ceased his mistreatment when Izar never rose to the bait.

While Draco's taunting had bothered Izar, he had kept his head down and immersed himself with his studies.

By request of Headmaster Dumbledore, last semester—during his fourth year—Izar had taken his O.W.L's a year early in order to measure his eligibility of skipping a year. While skipping years at Hogwarts was uncommon, it was frequent enough that Izar had been asked to go through the process.

In the end, he'd earned enough passing marks to skip his fifth year. The only ones who knew that Izar was starting his sixth year were a select few at the Ministry, the Professors, and the Unspeakables.

The Unspeakables.

Izar searched the crowd for his Unspeakable coworkers, still finding it hard to believe they'd offered him a position in their Department after his O.W.L. exams.

At first, Izar had been wary at their request to practice in their labs, but he had quickly taken the position. After all, magical theory had always intrigued him, and the Unspeakables were known to recruit young. Regrettably, because he was new to the Unspeakables, he was under close supervision and had to perform mundane tasks. Regardless of the grunt work, he got paid, and he would eventually expand his job duties.

"You look bored, Izar," a voice drawled next to him.

Izar turned to look at the short witch next to him, offering her a brief smile. The blonde Slytherin girl—Daphne Greengrass—was in Draco Malfoy's year and one of few people he tolerated at Hogwarts.

"Daphne," he greeted coolly before turning back to the room.

"Daddy says you're skipping your fifth year and entering your sixth."

"Yes," Izar replied shortly, unsurprised the news wasn't kept under closer wraps.

Daphne's father worked at the Ministry, and he was also on the Hogwarts Board of Governors along with Lucius Malfoy. Izar was sure Lucius had already told Draco about Izar's eligibility of skipping a year. The entitled bastard was probably stalking the ballroom, looking to confront him about it. It wasn't that Izar was uncomfortable about his accomplishment, he just found the drama of the other students a waste of time.

At least no one knew of his Unspeakable job, aside from a select few at the Ministry as well as Dumbledore.

"Well, what about a congratulatory dance, then?" Daphne leaned against the wall next to Izar. She smirked at his dark silence. "My father dragged me here tonight. How awful. I had only wanted to catch up on my light reading."

Izar turned to look at Daphne, unamused. "Don't mock me." He pushed off from the wall. "You'd rather attend several of these events as opposed to reading a stimulating text."

She laughed outright. "And I know you'd rather have that handsome face of yours buried in a musty book. Only you would find reading stimulating." She moved away from the wall and stood opposite of Izar. "Which brings us to why you are here. At a Ministry gala. Full of the pure-bloods you hate so much. With dress robes, no less."

Izar stepped backward and flashed a smirk. "I was invited to the gala because of my O.W.L results. And I was curious to see how the elite entertained themselves enough to accept the invitation. That's all." He offered a short, mocking bow when her expression crumbled suspiciously. "It's too bad your 'daddy' can't tell you everything, now isn't it, Greengrass?"

With that parting remark, he turned his heel.

"You owe me a dance later, Harrison," she warned after him.

Like hell.

He couldn't dance.

And he just knew Greengrass would be the one to lead.

Death of Today

Lucius listened to the chatter of those around him.

Unsurprisingly, most guests attending the Ministry gala were irresistibly drawn to Tom Riddle. It was ironically amusing, and provided Lucius with enough entertainment, simply because the majority of these Ministry workers were entirely ignorant to the high-end politician actually conspiring against them.

Tom Riddle, also known as Lord Voldemort to his followers, was the Senior Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic. Outwardly, Tom appeared around sixty years of age with peppered hair. His eyes were dark and piercing, surrounded by the gentle fold of genuine laugh lines. He possessed enough youth to attract others, yet enough age to convey wisdom and a false sense of reassurance to others.

But Lucius had seen beneath the illusion.

And there was nothing reassuring underneath the Undersecretary façade.

Lucius' attention returned to the group of wizards and witches surrounding the Undersecretary, noticing the unusual lull in conversation. Ordinarily, Tom Riddle was an accomplished politician, able to keep the discussion flowing. He was engaging, charming, and had a boundless amount of charisma. Yet to a trained eye, Tom Riddle was distracted tonight, and Lucius was the only one who noticed where the Dark Lord's attentions truly lay.

The wizard's dark eyes were following the lithe form of Izar Harrison.

Lucius hardly blamed the Dark Lord for his fixation.

He had not seen Izar since the boy's first day on the platform, yet Draco had written to him on more than one occasion about the younger student. His son's words were theatrically hateful, his tone overdramatic in his sense of superiority over the Ravenclaw Mudblood, but it was so blatantly clear how obsessed Draco was.

Lucius often shared his observations of Draco's letters with Narcissa, and they shared a chuckle over their son's antics.

However, seeing Izar Harrison in person after all these years brought Draco's letters into perspective.

Gone was the first year trepidation. Intelligence and maturity took its place. The young man had grown up handsomely. He walked with a deadly grace, a fitting gait for his lithe form. His black hair was crimped in natural waves with a few unruly strands curling at the ends. The face was purely patrician, a trait many pure-bloods shared. The high cheekbones, the slightly hollowed cheeks, and the thin neck all pointed to aristocracy. Yet the boy claimed he was a Mudblood.

And those eyes…

Lucius was suspicious of the boy's parentage, just as he had been when he'd first seen that wide-eyed stare. He hadn't shared his opinion with his son, who had learned from the boy himself that he was a Muggle-raised orphan.

"His name is Izar Harrison," Lucius whispered quietly in the Dark Lord's ear.

The Dark Lod's eyebrows rose. "Is that so?"

The man tried to feign disinterest once he learned of the irrelevant surname, but Lucius would not stand by indolently. He felt a strange insistence pulling him toward the young man. The boy would be a good asset to their side. The Dark Lord wasn't foolish. He would recognize the enigma presented before him just as Lucius had.

"Yes, he is a declared Mudblood," Lucius agreed softly, sympathetic to the Dark Lord's less than enthused response. "But the boy is a quandary. I began looking in to him after his O.W.L. results." Lucius paused just briefly, shooting a Ministry worker a warning stare as the foolish man tried to approach them. "He lives in an orphanage."

This piqued the Dark Lord's interest.

Lucius knew very little about Tom Riddle, but he did know the man had been raised in a Muggle orphanage.

"He resides in St. Patrick's Orphanage, a small Muggle orphanage near London. The turnout rate for adoption is the lowest in the region." Lucius looked to see if the Dark Lord was interested enough to continue. He was prompted to proceed with an indolent wave of a hand. "Apparently, Mr. Harrison has no documented birth parents…" Trailing off melodramatically, he raised a single, intrigued eyebrow. "He does not strike me as a Muggle-born. His appearance is far too purebred, his first name—Izar—is…"

He left it at that and the Dark Lord was quick to acknowledge the irony.

"Shameful affair? Attempt to hide the bastard?"

"Highly probable," Lucius murmured. The blond aristocrat watched the topic of their interest pull away from Ms. Greengrass, his expression clearly conveying boredom. "There are a numerous number of dark witches and wizards who would be so callous as to abandon their bastard with Muggles."

"Callous?" the Dark Lord repeated quietly with an amused quirk of his brow. "You mean generous, Lucius. Most the dark witches and wizards in our circle wouldn't have given that child the light of day." He followed Izar with his eyes. "Regardless of the possibilities, it is strangely amusing that you have expressed such an interest in a boy that may very well be our enemy."

Lucius stiffened, realizing he may have stepped over bounds at expressing his interest in a declared Mudblood.

"Alas," the Dark Lord continued, "there is something he is unwittingly conveying that is worth exploring. Moreover, we cannot let good talent go to waste if it proves to be something worth discovering." Tom Riddle stood up, casting Lucius a cold look, yet his eyes were incited. "Introduce me to the child."

Lucius cast a smug smile.

The Dark Lord's interest was sweetly intoxicating.

Death of Today

Izar pulled out a pocket watch to check the time.

Only a few minutes left.

Owen Welder, the head Unspeakable, had forced Izar to attend the Ministry gala for at least two hours. The man claimed Izar could use a bit of socializing, as Unspeakables were intelligent not antisocial. From what Izar knew, this gathering went on all night. He wondered how anyone could enjoy such a gathering for the better part of the night—let alone two hours.

"Mr. Harrison," a voice interrupted Izar's musings.

Without looking up from his stolen pocket watch, Izar already knew who blocked his way.

It was in the pompous tone.

It was in the magic.

"Mr. Malfoy," Izar murmured in greeting.

He snapped his pocket watch closed before dropping it back into his robe pocket.

Gazing at the man, Izar took special interest in tracing the man's coldly handsome features.

The wizard's pale grey eyes swept the length of Izar in turn, paying close attention to his robes. The stare lingered near the untailored cuffs and the missing button on one of the pockets no one—but Lucius Bloody Malfoy—would have noticed. "Remarkably flattering robes, Mr. Harrison, and for such a fitting celebration, no less. I presume the Board has invited you here in congratulations for passing your O.W.L.s and continuing on at a higher level?"

Izar glanced down at his secondhand robes, knowing the difference between a genuine and a sarcastic praise.

He hadn't any money to get new robes. He wouldn't get his pay until the end of summer. Even then, Izar would probably give most of it to Hogwarts in order to pay off some of his loans.

Without conveying any emotion, he looked back up at the man. "You have great taste, Mr. Malfoy." He took a step back in order to give himself enough opening for an escape. "I apologize terribly for cutting this short, but if you'll excuse me, I am needed back home."

Before he could turn, the hairs across his arms stood on end and goose bumps prickled across his skin. Izar pinpointed it to a strong aura in close proximity, similar in intensity to that of Dumbledore's, but far darker—far more sublime. Slowly, Izar turned to look at the man who had piqued his magic sensitivity. He had to strain his neck back to meet the eyes looking down at him.

Hastily, he stepped backward to refrain from craning his neck back.

Amused eyes watched him all the while.

"Mr. Harrison," Lucius' pleased voice barely penetrated through Izar's surprise. "I'd like to introduce you to Mr. Tom Riddle, the Senior Undersecretary to the Minister."

Izar was speechless.

He had read about Tom Marvolo Riddle in textbooks, heard about him from gossiping students, and saw him in the papers. The man's name and face were everywhere. He was an esteemed politician with incredible and impressive credentials. Seeing him in person, Izar couldn't help but notice the tangible allure he projected.

He suddenly realized all that public admiration, and all that overzealous praise, was actually warranted.

Riddle didn't even have to open his damn mouth. It was in his power. And power—even to those who were not magic sensitive—attracted popularity.

Tom Riddle reached out a hand, snapping Izar from his musings. "Mr. Harrison, it's a pleasure."

Izar reluctantly accepted that hand, feeling Riddle's fingers close around his in a vice-like grip.

The jaws snapped closed around its prey and Izar felt trapped. On top of the cornered, panicky feeling, subtle shock-like prickles traveled across his skin upon their physical contact. It was not a poetic, nor a cliché reaction—nothing so made up. It was real. While it was expected the man's strong aura physically affected him, his reaction to Riddle's touch was not normal.

What was this?

The younger wizard looked away from Riddle and toward Lucius Malfoy. Through narrowed eyes, he noticed the blond man's immensely smug smirk. He suddenly felt played. Almost belittled. Izar did not appreciate the secrecy between Malfoy and Riddle. He did not take kindly to being toyed with because of his age and his inferior blood.

If there was one thing he knew about Lucius Malfoy, it was the man's bold and rather public opinion of blood supremacy.

Why was Malfoy even approaching Izar, let alone introducing him to a lord-level wizard who reeked of dark magic? All that aside, why would he introduce him to such an influential politician?

Did they think him stupid? So flattered that he'd play right into their hands?

Izar became guarded and aggravated, as well as a bit fearful. He pulled his hand from Riddle's grasp, irritation spreading hotly. "Whatever game you're playing, I'd rather not be a part of it." He directed it at Riddle, the more powerful source of his frustration. "I have never, nor do I plan to step foot into politics. It is an honor to meet you, sir, but I don't see a point in wasting your time by continuing this conversation."

Shocking orange hair caught his eye and Izar hailed Owen Welder, the Head Unspeakable.

"Mr. Welder," Izar's raised voice was enough to catch the man's attention.

The Unspeakable was very tall and muscular. His bushy orange hair haloed his face and climbed down his temples into a shaggy and uneven beard. He reminded Izar vividly of Hagrid, the half-giant at Hogwarts.

"It's five past nine. May I leave now?"

"Ah, my boy!" The man grunted, a pleased smile spreading selfishly across his lips. His rosy cheeks reddened further as he overworked himself by digging into his robe pockets. Producing a small book from one of the many pockets, he tossed it at Izar who caught it with one hand. "Cheers!" Completely oblivious to the tension between the trio, he toasted his goblet before ambling by.

Before Izar could activate the Portkey, his right wrist was unexpectedly shackled by long fingers.

He gazed up at Riddle with barely veiled surprise.

The audacity…

"You are incorrect in your assumptions. We are not playing any 'game'."

He found himself nearly transfixed on the incensed brown eyes, unable to turn away from the challenge he saw in there.

"No?" Izar whispered, intrigued with the way the man had said game. It was said with such weight, such importance. But Slytherins enjoyed their games, didn't they? "I find that hard to believe." He pulled his wrist from Riddle's grasp. "It is like one big charade to you, isn't it? It must be fun, otherwise you wouldn't have the patience."

Riddle looked at Lucius before returning his gaze to Izar.

Suddenly, the Undersecretary moved until he was standing in front of Izar with his back to the mass of witches and wizards. Not only was he veiling Izar from curious onlookers, but his expression—which had ceased its painfully polite smile—was no longer under constant scrutiny.

"I must confess, this is one of the most unusual introductions I have ever had the pleasure experiencing." He stared down at Izar with an amused expression. "Do you often go on the offensive with your elders?"

"I do," Izar admitted easily. "I don't appreciate cloaked intentions, and you and Mr. Malfoy are clearly enjoying something only you are privy to."

"And what do you imagine that would be?"

Izar looked at Lucius.

"Eyes on me, child." Riddle redemanded his attention. "What do you believe Mr. Malfoy and I could possibly be doing that would warrant such a defensive reaction from the likes of you?"

From the likes of you…

Izar clutched the small book until his knuckles turned white. He really shouldn't let it affect him. The dismissive comment was expected. By now, it came to little surprise that those of higher status thought little of him. There was nothing wrong with apologizing for his earlier actions and excusing himself with a defeated hunch to his shoulders.

It would get him out of this situation. It would erase the focus from both men.

But the haughtiness in Riddle's eyes…

Izar inhaled deeply and offered Riddle a cold stare. "I have no idea what you and Mr. Malfoy could be doing." He waited until Riddle's smugness amplified, but oddly enough, it never came. The dark stare was direct as Riddle waited for Izar to continue. "But I do question why someone with incredibly dark, lord-level power would settle for being a mere undersecretary. And why someone with that power—who seeks Lucius Malfoy for company—would voluntarily approach a Mudblood still in school."

The stare grew rapturous.

Riddle carefully inclined his head. "This is hardly the place to discuss such matters."

Unexpectedly, the man did not deny Izar's allegations. There was obviously more to Tom Riddle, and despite Izar's better judgement, he wanted to know what it was. Nevertheless, he could sense the danger. It was both a fearful and exhilarating feeling. If Izar continued his curiosity, he may very well find himself in a place he couldn't run away from.

He'd missed his opportunity to run when he had drawn attention to Riddle's charade.

"But," Riddle continued, "it is a matter I do wish to discuss."

"I'm afraid I'm due back home," Izar replied sharply.

"I know where to find you."

It was both a warning and a promise.

Izar nodded stiffly, grasping his Portkey and tapping it with his wand. It grew hot in his hands. He only had seconds, but it was enough time to catch the predatory glint in the man's eyes.

"I will be seeing you soon," Riddle promised as Izar was pulled away.