Tom Riddle was becoming more and more upset.
He didn't care before, but now, with all the evidence before him, the truth was shocking.
His guess as to who the murderer could be unexpectedly surprised him, and his thoughts unconsciously deepened.
What reason could Harry have for jumping through time and space?
To either save a hero or kill a villain - and anyone could tell you, Tom Riddle was no hero.
Tom pinched the bridge of his nose, his mood volatile and eyes bloodshot. Harry came back to destroy him?
Harry's abrupt and aloof mannerisms, his attempt to harm Tom during the bombing in London, his close-surveillance appearances at Hogwarts… All of it served as plausible proof furthering Tom's suspicion of Harry's purpose in jumping through time and space; he did it to ensure Tom's demise.
Tom placed his forehead in his hand and laughed scornfully, to the point where tears seemed to be coming out.
What was even more ridiculous was on the night he killed his uncle and father, he was thankful towards Harry, glad that after being abandoned by his mother, father and uncle, someone was willing to travel a hundred years through time and space for him.
But who was the man he thanked? The man on a mission to kill him.
Or maybe he had another reason; a different purpose for accompanying him. But even so, did Harry manage to hide the sordid details to his plans from Tom?
Slytherins were obsessive and paranoid; meticulous and prideful, even in the face of their mistakes. They're accustomed to magnifying the darkness and eliminating the good, allowing the grim of a situation to cloak them and weigh down their reasoning, distort their minds, thus risking complete madness.
Yes, Tom's mind made up, Harry's aim was to kill him when he manipulated Tom, an infant, to fall straight from his arms. Harry wanted to kill him when he abandoned Tom under the weight of a crumbling house, possibly in the hopes of the next bomb burying him alive.
But what Tom failed to remember, presently, was Harry taking him out of the orphanage, giving him a home. He taught Tom how to hold a wand, to read and write, and even eased his transition into the wizarding world. Tom could not, for the life of him, recall the moments when Harry opened his arms, offered Tom safety in the folds of his robes, and kept Tom afloat, buoyed far from the whirlpools of his despair.
Tom remembered none of this.
And maybe it was a kind of genetic defect, a mental malady, maybe, but somehow, the conflict and anger held within him made Tom unable to remember the latter and focus his attention wholly on the former. But did it really come as a surprise? You couldn't just simply wish darkness away, you'd have to gradually erode at it. It could take years, decades. Is that what Harry aimed for? Is that why he's stood by Tom for so long?
Harry, what is it, exactly, that you want from me?
Why won't you kill me?
But Harry didn't know his identity had already been compromised. Maybe he was just trying his best to save the regret that's about to be caused.
"Sir 'arry, how didja know I put Aragog un'er the bed?" The third-year half-giant, who was a little taller than Harry, started in surprise, his incredulous tone causing several passing students to tilt their head in curiosity. The half-giant's strange accent made him near impossible to understand, but after years of being friends, Harry had no problem discerning his speech.
Harry hurriedly asked Hagrid to lower his voice. With a roar like his, Hagrid didn't even need to hold the reputation of 'the one who opened the Chamber of Secrets' to be directly punished.
"You can put him in the Forbidden Forest. Leaving him in the school would scare your housemates," Harry advised.
"But…" Hagrid stretched out his palms, both as large as dinner plates, and cupped them together. "Aragog is only this big, he'd get bullied in the Forbidden Forest!"
Harry pointedly stared at the palms, almost the size of manhole covers, and felt an overwhelming feeling of momentary helplessness. "He might harm your housemates, Hagrid. What would happen then?"
"He won't hurt anyone!"
Wouldn't hurt anyone? And what of the drooling spiders Harry had to follow back in second year?
"I could keep Aragog for you, I suppose." As soon as the words flew out of Harry's mouth, regret immediately settled in. Just looking at the thick, hairy, eight-legged fellow caused goosebumps to erupt all over Harry's person.
In order to raise a spider that would eventually grow to the size of a house, Harry designated a large piece of land to accommodate for its activities next to the Forbidden Forest. He then proceeded to cast the Repelling Spell, the Disillusionment Charm, and a series of other protective measures. After this, he even went as far as dropping by the library numerous times in order to determine the spider's diet. Truthfully, Harry would much prefer that thing to immediately starve to death. It's a joke, Harry insisted guiltily to himself, chortling.
Harry didn't know if this would work, but at least he reduced the chances of any accidents from occurring.
"'arry! I foun' this, y'see, and it says that Aragog can…" Because of this, Hagrid's feelings of camaraderie towards Harry rose to such a level, he instantly took a liking to the assistant. The third-year continued to tail after Harry every day since then, in hopes of sharing the new and entertaining books he's found with a like-minded individual. With a few careless compliments and praises from Harry, Hagrid wound up being happy for quite some time.
"Harry, I saw a Norwegian Ridgeback on an album yesterday…"
"Harry, I've made some sugar from scratch, would you like to try some?"
Harry, Harry, HARRY! To call after his Harry in such a dreadful accent, laden with hidden undertones of familiarity and enthusiasm, the observing Slytherin seethed from a distance, his teeth gritted fiercely. Staring bitterly at the two identical happy faces, the control Tom was trying to keep on his temper snapped, his rage overwhelming everything else. His desire to monopolize Harry drowned out his reason, and blood-red slowly crept into the iris of his eyes.
How could a stupid half-giant always manage to get Harry's appreciation and smile so easily? Why did Hagrid have Harry's full trust with no cost?
Why was he, Tom Riddle, Harry's child for all intents and purposes, only a target for Harry to come back and kill?
Who was the one who's lived with Harry for more than a decade? Who was the one who stood and faced certain death beside Harry?
Out of everyone here, who was the one who had to wait in a bloody empty house (for damn near an entire decade, mind you) waiting for Harry to come back?
It was Tom Riddle, not Hagrid.
But who did Harry choose to leave alone in the decade they were together? Who did Harry decide to place before the face of death? Who was Harry planning to leave? Even after everything?
Also Tom Riddle. Not Rubeus Hagrid.
"Tom, what's the matter?" Cygnus cautiously asked. In his mind's eye, he saw Tom as someone who was always smiling. For such a person to suddenly adopt a livid expression, Cygnus was terrified.
Cygnus didn't dare provoke Tom. Even though he had the support of the Black Family behind him, even though Tom was his classmate, his subconsciousness warned him from challenging the prefect. The stronger the force, the larger the warning.
"Is it because of…" Cygnus paused. "...Assistant Potter?"
Tom lowered his eyes, silent. It was indeed so.
Cygnus smiled. "Tom seems to love Harry very much." To care like so, how could the child not love his father?
"I do not love him," Tom hissed, abruptly standing from his seat, his eyes glaring directly at Cygnus.
Cygnus' expression froze. "He's your father, it's natural that you..."
"Fathers and love have nothing to do with one another." Tom invisibly quirked the corners of his lips, the irony self-evident. His biological father was selfish with just enough self-love to be vain, and his adoptive father would probably show his love through the slice of a dagger and a flick of a wand.
Love? He loved Harry Potter? Preposterous.
He didn't feel love, Tom just didn't like to share his belongings.
Love was just a sign of cowardice created by the weak; it was made up by those who were either unable or too scared to fend for themselves.
He dared not love when he had something much better. Power.
Love? Tom had no use for it.
Tom began to search for the existence of the Chamber of Secrets religiously, employing full use of his prefect powers. He took advantage of his evening shift and searched every corner of the Slytherin common room.
Tom put his hands in his pockets, seemingly watching the night meticulously.
He searched almost the entire castle; it's every room, every basement, and even every stockroom. But there was nothing.
He couldn't have missed it! Wasn't the Chamber in the castle?
"*Myrtle Shirley?" Tom saw a piece of clothing hidden behind a corner. The Slytherin, who had a good memory, recalled the name of the Ravenclaw almost immediately. "What are you doing up? It's past curfew."
*Myrtle's full name is Myrtle Elizabeth Warren, and Shirley Henderson's the actress who played her in the Harry Potter films. I'm still not sure why Myrtle's full name is Myrtle Shirley here-
The girl with unsightly braids was timid, her eyes hidden behind a pair of thick glasses. "I-I went to the lavatory." The unsightly girl gestured to the corridor behind her - there was no one inside, just the sound of water dripping.
The girl's lavatory?
The handsome, sixth-year Slytherin narrowed his eyes, thinking.
He did search the whole castle; he searched everywhere except for the girl's bathrooms.
Tom chewed this word carefully, then unfolded a gentle, dazzling smile; it was terrifyingly false, but Myrtle's glasses were too thick for her to peek through. Tom patted her shoulder, concealing his eagerness with his words, "Hurry back now, or else you'll be in trouble with the professors."
Begone, swine, so he may go on looking for the Chamber of Secrets.
"Y-yes, alright, tha-thanks." The girl suddenly blushed and walked away with her head down.
Tom watched her figure disappear around the corner of a corridor. After he was certain that nobody was around him, he spun on his toes and dashed into the bathroom.
The bathroom was large, with a circular washbasin up the front past two rows of cubicles.
Tom didn't hesitate to open his mouth, his tongue lightly pressed against his upper jaw, and release a creepy 'hissing' sound.
Unlike Harry, who had to put in the effort to imagine he was facing a snake, Tom could easily use Parseltongue even if he was facing a void. This kind of natural talent, hidden in his bloodline, was incomparable to the one Harry stole.
Almost immediately the sink began to move, slowly spreading, and a dark passageway opened up beneath Tom's glowing eyes.
Tom grinned, the laughter which rolled from his throat sounded particularly terrifying in the empty bathroom. His chuckles rapidly became more pronounced, proud; it was a beautiful sound, but if anyone knew the meaning behind it, they would have cringed away from him.
Harry, I've opened the Chamber of Secrets, why haven't you killed me yet?
If you don't… It'll be too late.
In the end, Tom didn't enter the dark passageway.
He couldn't be sure if there was any danger in it, and the Slytherin was much too careful to play around with his life; he simply closed the exit before turning about and exiting the lavatory. He needed time to study the Chamber of Secrets.
Now was not the right time, yet.
"Tom, what are you doing here?" As soon as he stepped out from the lavatory, an approaching Harry bypassed the corridor. He'd been caught. The black-haired youth was still gasping as if he'd run over.
Tom looked at Harry and admired how he suddenly turned pale when he saw the bathroom behind him. Tom's heart sang with cruel pleasure.
The Slytherin smiled innocently, hiding his sharp edges behind his teeth. "I'm night-patrolling; I'm a prefect after all."
The student smiled as he said it, looking as if he was asking his parents for a reward he deserved.
Inevitably, history repeated once again; unstoppable, undelayed, unchangeable, and impossible to rectify.
The Chamber of Secrets has opened.