Edited October 2020

Part One, Chapter Three

Izar adjusted the hood securely around his head as he walked the halls of the Department of Mysteries.

By the time one traveled to the ninth floor of the Ministry, there was a dramatic drop in temperature. The Unspeakables' cloaks came with hoods and special material that was spelled to retain body heat. The robes were comfortable enough, and they always seemed to blend into the chambers at the Department.

Being in the shadows had always comforted him.

Glancing down at the ridiculously polished black stone, he stared unseeingly at his blurry reflection.

Today would mark his sixth week on the job. It had taken him two long weeks before he could make his way around the Department without getting lost. It came to no surprise when he heard unwelcomed guests often got lost, and if they entered through doors without access—without permission—they would undoubtedly be very unlucky depending on what experiments waited for them on the other side.

One gained access to the Department of Mysteries through an ordinary corridor. Once entered, they would walk upon the highly polished black floors until they stood in a circular room with twelve doors. The guests would then become dizzy and confused with the circling doors without handles.

Fortunately, the doors would not play tricks on the employees, but it still required a trained eye to navigate the Department.

Without looking up from the ground, Izar felt the pull toward the Death Chamber.

He inhaled deeply, trying to calm his rising curiosity. Inside the Death Chamber was the stone archway—the Veil. Izar had been intrigued and obsessed with it ever since he had taken the tour of the Department.

Unspeakables typically chose their area of expertise. There was the Love Chamber— also known as the Ever-locked Room, the Time Chamber, Space Chamber, Thought Chamber, and the Hall of Prophecy. There were also a few rooms in which Unspeakables just experimented with magic to create new and improved health equipment, as well as advanced objects for battle or everyday objects.

The latter was where Izar had been assigned. For now.

He enjoyed experimenting on things, yet… he was drawn to the Death Chamber. He wanted to work there. His curiosity was never sated until he thoroughly investigated the object of his obsession.

Unfortunately, it didn't appear as if he'd be allowed inside the Death Chamber for quite some time.

Izar entered the door to his right with a palm against the door. As it tasted his magical signature, it grew hot before clicking open. Stepping inside, he briefly glanced at the tables of Unspeakables who were hunched over their work. Their fingers worked diligently, either tinkering with their experiments, writing furiously with a quill, or using their wand to test the magic.

Izar slowly walked over to his bench, relieved to see the completed stack of his Time-Turners.

He'd nearly forgotten he'd finished on Friday.

Owen Welder, the Head Unspeakable, had given him the task of completing half a dozen Time-Turners. Every new recruit had the honor. While it was time-consuming to construct, Izar had grown accustomed to the busy work. The grains of sand, and the unique glass that wouldn't combust with time travel, were provided by the Time Chamber. Izar had only needed to spell the grains of sand.

Individually.

It had been an educational experience, as there were different ratios of spells on the sand, but Izar wanted to start on something new today.

"Harrison," a voice barked.

Izar looked over his shoulder, eyeing the heavy-set man approaching. "Mr. Welder," Izar greeted, his fingers caressing the edge of his stainless-steel table. "Have you got a new project for me?"

He assumed, because he was only fourteen, that he was supervised more than the other Unspeakables. The other Unspeakables created their own schedules and started their own projects without constant micromanaging.

But Izar would take what he could.

It wasn't as if he'd be young forever.

"Not exactly." The man stopped next to Izar. "You wouldn't mind making six more Time-Turners, would you? There is a new order for them. You're one of the fastest, kid." The hand that patted him on the back nearly knocked Izar's lungs out.

He remained bowed forward from the hit, his eyes narrowing underneath his hood. "Of course, Mr. Welder," he replied jadedly. Bloody Time-Turners. "When would you like them completed?"

"Next week, Wednesday."

Izar flashed the man a tight smile. "They will be completed, Mr. Welder. After which, may I continue on my own? I'd like to try my hand at creating something."

The orange beard turned windswept from the hearty, rich laughter. "Wouldn't we all like to create the next best thing?" Welder motioned to the Unspeakables around the room. "Some of us spend years completing that one idea, only to find out it's useless to the general public. You won't be able to construct anything overnight, kid, but you may go on your own after the Turners are completed."

Owen walked away, chuckling under his breath at the irony of a mere child wanting to invent 'the next best thing'.

Izar watched the man go blankly before looking down at the Time-Turners.

He would need to visit the Time Chamber again to gather the needed materials.

Death of Today

Izar dragged his feet toward the orphanage.

He had donned on his Muggle clothing after work and had portkeyed his way over. He looked forward to the day he was legally of age to Apparate. It would make things easier. Granted, he had read about Apparating and the techniques involved, but he had yet to try it. It wasn't legal to Apparate at the age of fourteen.

Did that include fourteen-year-olds who worked as an Unspeakable?

He stumbled on his own feet, grimacing down at his worn trainers. The lip of his shoe had detached from the sole.

If Lucius Malfoy could see him now…

A missing button on his dress robes was the least of his worries.

Entering the gated orphanage, Izar carefully maneuvered around the Muggle children as they sprinted in front of the building.

Pausing on the heavily chalked stairs, Izar stared out toward the swings. Every time he passed the swings, he was reminded of Louis and the boy's treatment throughout the years. Izar had never been allowed on the swings, having been beaten away by Louis and his friends. At times, when Izar had gotten the chance to swing early in the morning, he found himself being attacked from behind. He was seven when Louis had pushed him off the swing in midair.

He had bitten through his lip and broken his arm. Those injuries hadn't compared to the others he had received in this orphanage.

Izar clenched his jaw.

Why must he always reminisce? Why couldn't the past just stay buried?

Feeling disgusted with his inability to forget, Izar entered the depleted orphanage. It smelt of mold and mildew, a scent Izar had gotten used to throughout the years. He always associated mold with Muggles, and he always associated musk with orphanages.

"Izar," the receptionist greeted. "How was your day of work?" Her painted lips parted, revealing rather dim colored teeth.

"Remarkably entertaining." He walked past her, not in the least bit interested in small talk.

"You have a visitor in the conference room," she replied cheerfully, not affected by his gloomy demeanor.

Izar stopped in his tracks, feeling a chill go down his spine. "A visitor?" His eyes averted away from the stairs and toward the closed door further down the corridor. The conference room was reserved for visitors and potential parents who were looking to adopt. He figured it was definitely not the latter.

He had forgotten all about Tom Riddle.

"Yes, a visitor. A very charming man." Her lips melted into a celestial smile. "He arrived about an hour ago. I told him you were working, but he insisted on waiting for you. He's a very charm—"

"Charming man, yes."

Almost as if in a daze, Izar moved past her and toward the conference room. Was he ready for this? How much threat could Tom Riddle possibly pose at a Muggle orphanage?

He opened the door and found his answer within seconds.

Yes, Tom Riddle could easily make trouble at a Muggle orphanage.

The man, not at all like he appeared yesterday, was lounging in a transfigured chair, his hooded eyes intensely drawn on Izar. Izar immediately felt exposed in his torn jeans, faded tunic, and ripped trainers. The vulnerability was so strong, it took him by surprise. It wasn't a feeling he had experienced in ages.

The man—

He was no longer old.

Instead, he had thick black hair tied at the nape of his neck, revealing the sharp bone structure of a younger face. Riddle was a defined looking man. Some may not describe him as traditionally handsome, but Izar thought he was remarkably attractive. Especially those crimson eyes that taunted him from the doorway.

If Izar hadn't sensed Tom Riddle's familiar magic from the night before, he would have thought he was looking at a stranger.

"So glad you could make it," Riddle drawled.

Izar bowed his head, his fingers tightening on the door handle. He took a moment to gather both his bearings and his pride. After a short mediation, he pushed away his vulnerability and defenselessness. He didn't have to feel this way with Tom Riddle. Izar wouldn't let himself appear shaken. He was just as good… just as good…

Lifting his chin, he shut the door behind him and entered further into the room.

Trying to avoid Riddle's growing smirk, he sat down next to the man. "I wasn't expecting you today," Izar declared calmly. His eyes boldly locked on to Riddle's crimson. The man watched him as if he were utterly fascinating. "Especially in your true form. Either you are incredibly confident I won't tell others, or you'll make sure I don't tell others."

Black eyebrows rose.

"How do you know this is my true form?" the man mused lowly. "How do you know I'm not disguising myself?"

"You were disguising yourself," Izar said, becoming nearly excited with the implications. "Last night was your disguise. I was right to assume you had something other than politics in mind, wasn't I? You have power—"

"And you are magic sensitive."

Izar leaned back in his chair, suddenly realizing he was holding his breath.

"Ah," Riddle proclaimed victoriously upon seeing Izar's inertness. "I have a secret of yours and you have a secret of mine."

"I revealed my secret to reveal yours," Izar disputed. "There are many wizards and witches who are magic sensitive. Not many Undersecretaries to the Minister of Magic who are hiding such dark magic. Which brings us back to what your intentions are and why you're playing it with Lucius Malfoy."

Riddle allowed a faint smile to cross his lips. "You are an intriguing child," he declared as if Izar were a pleasant surprise that had unexpectedly amused him. For a long while, he sat motionlessly, silently observing Izar. "And you have maturity and wisdom far beyond your sixteen years."

Izar didn't even bat a lash at the mistake in his age.

Let Riddle assume he was sixteen because he was entering his sixth year at Hogwarts. But that pointed to the idea that Riddle didn't know much about him. Which made Izar uneasy. If Riddle didn't know Izar had skipped a grade due to above average intelligence, and that Izar was an Unspeakable, then what drew the man to him?

He chose not to disclose he was only fourteen. Well… fifteen in a few days.

"I suppose I will consider that a compliment," Izar continued without pause, "otherwise, you wouldn't be here."

Riddle suddenly reached forward.

Izar stiffened, but tried to hold himself immobile as Riddle traced his index finger down his jawline. His skin prickled like it had the night before when they'd shaken hands. Moreover, a fire in his belly erupted, and Izar struggled not to reveal his surprise. Fortunately, the man removed his hand quickly, an expression of bewilderment crossing his features before it was cleared away.

"Would you like some tea?" Tom questioned casually.

Before Izar could answer, the door opened to the conference room. Louis walked inside, holding a tarnished silver tea tray.

Izar was aware of the crimson eyes watching him, but he couldn't look away from the slack face of his childhood tormentor. Louis's blue eyes were dull and lifeless. There was a bit of drool at the corner of his mouth as he set down the tray of tea in front of Tom Riddle. "Master, your tea," the voice that spoke was just as void as the eyes.

Izar's lips thinned. "You put the Imperius curse on him," he accused, turning to look at the quietly smug Tom Riddle.

Izar wasn't upset over the fact that Riddle had used an Unforgivable.

He was upset because Louis was his enemy, but Tom Riddle had gotten to him first.

"Fascinating…" Riddle's long fingers plucked the chipped tea cup off the tray and set in in front of Izar. "That you would know that. The Unforgivables are not taught at Hogwarts, and I highly doubt the typical student ventures so far in the Restricted Section to stumble across them in texts. Which means you actively searched them out to sate your dark curiosity."

Izar watched as Riddle calmly placed the second tea cup in front of himself.

The older man then looked up at Louis and clicked his tongue in disapproval. "What are you waiting for? Pour the tea."

The wizard's voice took on a frighteningly cold tenor and the air turned heavy with ominousness. It was dark and oppressive, but not uncomfortable. Izar suddenly realized he had personally invited this danger into his life. He'd called out Riddle at the Ministry gala because his pride could not take a beating. He hadn't appreciated the smug amusement from both Malfoy and Riddle.

But what had he thought? That Riddle wouldn't have put a smart-mouthed fourteen-year-old in his place?

Honestly, if anything, he would have thought that Riddle wouldn't have considered him important enough to waste the effort. Which begged the question—again—what Riddle saw in Izar that would be worth his time?

"The guest of honor first." Riddle covered his cup before Louis could pour. "Serve your superior." He observed Izar as Louis moved robotically and began pouring his tea. "You're unusually quiet, Mr. Harrison," the dark wizard mused. "You're not frightened yet, are you?"

"I'm not frightened. I am merely observing," Izar said quietly.

The tea was poured haphazardly. Louis' hands appeared to be tremoring as if he'd overexerted himself or—

Izar felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand at attention.

"The lovely Muggle woman up front told me you were at work." Riddle took his tea from the table and sipped at it, his eyes all for Izar. "Where do you work?" The question was posed airily.

Izar dropped his gaze from the bright crimson in favor of staring at the steaming cup of tea.

Call him a coward. He wouldn't care. He'd agree wholeheartedly.

Riddle was unnerving.

"A Muggle restaurant."

Riddle gave a low hum, his fingernails clicking once against the porcelain tea cup. His expression did not reveal whether he believed Izar or not. "I hope you don't mind that I took the liberty of looking around the orphanage in your absence. It's such a quaint little home." There was a dry sarcasm there and Izar grew stiff with suspicion. He had a feeling he knew where this was going. "Quite remarkable you were—"

Izar stood up abruptly, unable to stand the tension, nor the mocking. In his haste to stand, the table was jolted, causing the tea cups to clatter on their saucers and tea to slosh and spill. Riddle offered Izar a quietly unimpressed look before observing the tea spilling down and around the edge of the table. He slid his polished shoes away from the spill with slow and purposeful movements.

"Whatever you are doing here, just get on with it," Izar demanded. "But if you've only come here to pick apart my lifestyle and ridicule me, you've wasted your time. I may be a Mudblood, but I am leagues ahead of many of your pure-blooded aristocrats."

Riddle, who was still preoccupied with the mess near his shoes, slowly looked up at Izar.

The air turned cold.

It was his first warning before Riddle struck.

A hand was tightening around his jaw before he could blink. He was then maneuvered down, his knees slamming against the floor with merciless force. "'Whatever I am doing here'?" Riddle repeated Izar's demand with mocking amusement. "This is what you wanted, is it not? To catch a glimpse beneath the guise?"

The hand tightened around his jaw and Izar tried not to wince.

"You have a tongue on you that will need to be disciplined, and a pride that needs blunting. I will not allow disrespect, but seeing as I came here to offer you a position within my ranks, I will allow for lenience just this once."

"Position within what ranks?" Izar's question came out as a muffled mumble with Riddle's fingers still clamping around his jaw.

Riddle removed his hand and offered Izar a distasteful look. "Stand up. Sit down."

Izar rose from the ground, his knees aching as he forced himself back in the chair. He looked up at Riddle, watching as the man spelled away the spilt tea before sitting back across from him.

"You were right to assume my career was partly a charade." Riddle recomposed himself, appearing as if he hadn't just manhandled Izar to the ground with a single hand to his jaw. "Typically, I do not recruit personally, but you have piqued my interest. I would like you to become one of my followers. It is time we reconstruct the Wizarding world into something that will benefit our own kind."

So, the lord-level wizard really was a—a Dark Lord.

Izar briefly thought of Grindelwald and grew excited.

How long had Riddle actively courted others? He must have a remarkable following by now. "What are your ideals?" Izar found himself asking. Riddle's expression creased with minute disbelief, undoubtedly not accustomed to his ideal recruits asking questions instead of falling at his feet. "When do you plan an uprising? The Prophet hasn't reported anything about you or your followers."

Riddle placed a hand over his mouth and rubbed the nonexistent stubble across his cheeks.

He stared listlessly at Izar, completely void of emotion in order to hide a particularly strong emotion.

"I have time for a question or two," he said, "just so long you keep your tongue in check."

As Izar opened his mouth, Riddle held up a hand, silencing him instantly.

"As I was about to say earlier, I had looked around your orphanage. I have the ability to see into minds and observe memories." Izar's spine stiffened. "You've had a troubled childhood just because you were different from the rest of them, did you not? This boy here—" The man motioned to Louis. "Especially, has created hell for you."

"You had no right—"

Riddle suddenly leaned forward, his eyes not at all sympathetic. "Do I come across as someone who cares about the privacy of others? You are a potential follower. I will know anything and everything about you." The man didn't wait for Izar to react before continuing. "What do you feel about Muggles, Izar?"

"You know what I feel," he said numbly.

Red eyes brightened. "I want to hear you say it."

Izar glanced at the mentally dead Louis before looking back at Riddle. "I hate them," he confessed. "I hate them for being ordinary. I hate them for being inferior, yet flaunting airs as if they're superior. They are afraid—jealous—of us when they detect that we're different. Their fear leads to the instinctual need to destroy the unknown. And that instinct is what I find terrifying. They're growing smarter—more destructive as time goes by. What's saying they will not find a way to destroy the group of people who they cannot possibly understand?"

Riddle stared at Izar for a long while.

"And that, Izar, is the root of our cause. Changing our society now to prevent the inevitable." The man stood and approached Izar. "Tomorrow night is an initiation. A few other young wizards will be branded with my Mark. I confess that I look forward to having you within my ranks."

"Why?" Izar demanded. "I am mostly Muggle myself. I am not as pure as those like Lucius Malfoy."

"Because you show remarkable promise and an understanding for what needs to be done."

Riddle's hand found Izar's cheek again, palming it with barely-there pressure. That is, until a fingernail embedded into his skin and scraped along his cheekbone in painful claiming. The younger wizard refused to wince at the burning mark across his cheek, already finding much of his concentration focused on not trembling.

Izar hadn't sensed magic this fascinating since Dumbledore.

"I'm trembling from your magic." Izar felt as if he needed to explain, not wanting the man to think he was actually seduced and awed with the prospect of joining his followers. "I still struggle from relapses. Powerful auras are often difficult to overcome."

Riddle smirked. "No worries, Izar, I find you just as captivating."

The man pulled away swiftly, setting something on the table before disappearing promptly from the room.

Izar exhaled shakily, his body a trembling mess from the magic in the air. Fortunately, just like with Dumbledore, he would become accustomed to feeling the aura. The longer he was around Tom Riddle, the more comfortable he would become around the man's magic. Nothing like this should happen again. It had taken a year to settle down around Dumbledore, it would take Izar less for Riddle.

Charcoal-green eyes looked at the object on the table, sensing the pulse of magic coming from the black crystal hung from a small chain.

He knew it was a portkey.

As his hands settled, he reached for the chain and the bit of parchment underneath. He unfolded it once to reveal the elegant scrawl of writing.

Let us set the time for seven thirty.

The portkey would activate at seven thirty tomorrow night. Izar stared at the chain, wondering the best course of action. Was it smart to pledge his loyalty to a wizard that would undoubtedly destroy—possibly slaughter many Muggles? The man was a Dark Lord, something the world hadn't experienced since the rise of Gellert Grindelwald. Just how many followers did he have? Enough to take on the Ministry? Enough to take on Dumbledore? Turning down the Dark Lord would also bring with it consequences…

He took one look at Louis, who stood lifelessly in the corner. "Louis."

The boy slowly stepped forward. "Yes, Master?"

A lipless smile crossed Izar's face at the boy's submission. He could have fun with this. Knowing he would have to think longer—harder—about this initiation, he placed the humming chain around his neck anyway.

The chain all but purred at the action.