Joint Fixation

Tom Riddle doesn't know how to love. He only knows obsession.

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5. Second Chances

Audrey wiped the tears away from her face before she entered the common room. She knew it had been a bad idea to go anywhere without her friends but she couldn't have helped it. Right after lunch, both of her friends had received detention from Mulciber. Tom had obviously set the whole thing up so he could get her alone. Of course it was possible that Mulciber had acted on his own: it seemed that his friends were always trying to impress Tom and that would have certainly impressed him.

She entered the common room and it was almost full. It was a relief to be around people again. She had gotten such a horrible feeling from being alone with Tom in the hallway. But the strangest feeling of all was the way she was feeling now. She looked down at the notes in her hand. He still wanted her to be his assistant and he had not killed her. How did he know that she wouldn't tell? She had had every intention of doing so but now she was much too afraid to. It seemed wiser to keep her mouth shut and stay alive. And what confused her more was that through everything, he had not lost an ounce of his attractiveness. When he had grabbed her hand and touched her face she had been frightened but her heart still pulled for him. She loved being close to him, no matter what the circumstances.

"Oh my god," she whispered to herself, "Snap out of it Audrey. He's bad news."

"Who's bad news?" Vicky asked behind her, causing Audrey to yelp in terror.

"Your detention's over already?" Audrey said, trying to act normal.

"Yeah." Vicky and Claire said at the same time.

"I'm going to start my Arithmancy essay. It's due in a few days." Claire sulked and headed to their room to do her homework. Audrey turned her back on Vicky and decided to sit at the table nearest to the fireplace. She put Tom's notes on the table and opened them to begin her work.

"Who's bad news Audrey?" Vicky asked when she sat down beside her friend.

"What? Nothing. I was just talking nonsense to myself." Audrey cursed her perceptive friend. Why couldn't Vicky be more like Claire and have no clue?

"Did something happen with Tom last night? Did he hurt you?" Vicky asked quietly with concern. She put her hand on Audrey's shoulder. Audrey looked back at her.

"No. Of course not." Audrey replied and flipped to Tom's Charms notes. He had not left a note for her this time. She felt disappointment sink into her chest.

"Why are you acting so weird around him then? You didn't even sit with him at lunch."

Audrey was getting nervous, she had to shake Vicky off somehow. "Because I really like him and I don't think he likes me. It's just…hard to be around him that's all." It wasn't a lie. She did really like Tom. Even after she had found out his dark secret. And it was highly unlikely he liked her back, considering what had happened a few moments ago. Then again, he hadn't killed her. She was still wondering why he had spared her life. And finally, it was definitely hard to be around him. He was intimidating and tall and strong and his lips were…oh no she was at it again.

"What happened last night really?" Vicky asked.

"I told Tom I liked him and he didn't feel the same way." Audrey lied to her friend. It was the only way Vicky would leave her alone.

"Oh Audrey I'm sorry." Vicky pouted and hugged Audrey tightly, "I know the pain of unrequited love. You'll be fine I promise." she smiled.

Audrey wished she could believe her friend. But now that she held a murderer's secret, she wasn't sure she would be fine.

Tom laid in his bed staring up at the ceiling. He had managed to keep the girl and his plan alive. But he had lost her trust completely. She was afraid to sit next to him or talk to him. Without her friendship, his access to her home was slipping away. He would have to win her back somehow but he hadn't quite figured out what to do.

When he walked into Potions on Monday morning she was sitting in her usual seat hunched over and avoiding eye contact.

"Have you got my notes?" he asked cheerfully. She took the notes out of her bag and held them out to him without raising her head. "Thank you." he said politely and dropped a galleon on her desk. She flinched when it hit the table with a clinking sound.

Tom sat in his seat next to Rosier and Mulciber, disappointed. How long was she going to be afraid of him? He had not acted harshly towards her in days. When was she going to forget about it? How was he going to make her forget about it?

Suddenly, Tom felt someone tap him on the shoulder. He turned around to find it was Richard Baldwell. He was the pudgy Ravenclaw who sat behind Rosier.

"Here." he said, giving Tom a folded piece of paper and rolling his eyes. Tom took the paper and slowly unfolded it under the table. He tried not to laugh as he read the note, which was covered in tiny hearts.

"I love you. Mary Tiller." Tom whispered to Mulciber who snorted but quickly straightened up when Slughorn shot him a look. Mucliber had impressed Tom by giving Audrey's tag-along friends detention two nights ago. It had earned him the title of 'Right Hand Man'. Tom looked behind him in the far corner on the other side of the classroom. Sure enough, Mary Tiller was smiling at him from across the room. She blushed when he looked at her and blew him a kiss. Tom caught it and placed it on his cheek. Mary covered her mouth to keep from bursting out in giggles. Tom turned back to face Slughorn and chuckled to himself. Girls at Hogwarts were constantly throwing themselves at him like that. And if he responded it was like they had no control over themselves.

"That's it." he whispered. A sinister grin appeared on Tom's face as he crumpled the note Mary had sent him in his strong fist. Why hadn't he thought of it before? The answer to his problems had been painfully obvious the entire time. Gaining the girl's trust would not only be simple but much faster. Becoming good enough friends with her would have taken ages. But getting her to fall in love with him would be quick and gain him an invite for sure.

Tom had never really seduced anyone before. Sure he knew how to charm people into getting what he wanted but seduction was a whole other level. Many must have thought it hard to believe but Tom had never kissed a girl before. He had no interest in girls because he was far too preoccupied with his plans to take over the Wizarding World. The girls around him were merely pawns to manipulate and control in his quest for ultimate power. But from observing the other students at Hogwarts, lust was a powerful thing. He had even seen his Knights fall head over heels for girls. And once they did, they were easy to control. They would carry books, dress nicer, be nicer. And all for what? A girl? Tom couldn't help but laugh at their antics. He would never let anyone, let alone some teenage girl, control him. He did the controlling around here. Yes, it would be simple. Once the girl fell in love with him, she wouldn't be able to resist his advances. Tom's mouth watered at his new plan. He would commence it immediately. He turned to face Audrey and she froze, sensing his gaze. He grinned. Tom would succeed for sure now.

Audrey had managed to have minimal contact with Tom for the first half of the day. But when she sat down at lunch, he sat down next to her. Why wouldn't he just leave her alone?

"Hi Audrey. Ladies." he said with a smile.

"Hi." Audrey mumbled back.

"So Audrey, meet me in the library tonight? Like usual?" he asked before he took a bite out of his roast beef sandwich.

"No sorry, I'm helping Claire with her essay. Right Claire?" Audrey stared at Claire hoping she'd get the hint. She didn't.

"You are? You don't have to. I'm almost done. Go have fun." she smiled and nudged Audrey's knee under the table. Vicky glared at Claire's obliviousness.

"Good! I missed you last night. Had to study alone." he sulked.

He had missed her? What in the world was he going on about? Audrey looked at Tom who was now chatting with Vicky about the last Quidditch game. He looked gorgeous in the natural light of the Great Hall. Tom was acting like the same boy she had developed a crush on not too long ago. He didn't seem like a killer at all. But he was. She had to remind herself that he was evil.

Audrey dreaded her meeting with Tom all afternoon. She didn't want to be alone with him again. Their last encounter had ended with her being in tears. When she entered the library he was sitting at their usual table waiting for her. He stood up in her presence and pulled out her chair: the perfect gentleman.

"I was wondering if you could help me on this Potions question." Tom said and pulled the Potions textbook closer to her. "If you accidentally put too much syrup of hellebore in the Draught of Peace, what can you add to counteract it?"

"You should let it simmer for 9 minutes instead of 7 and add a tablespoon of extra powdered moonstone." Audrey answered.

"Wow. You're so brilliant. Personally, I think they should have made you Head Girl." he complimented her and stared into her eyes. He was giving her butterflies.

"Really?" she blushed, "Thank you."

The two of them studied but barely talked to each other for whole hour. Audrey felt like Tom wanted to tell her something but was too afraid to say it. Maybe he hadn't decided not to kill her. Maybe he was still thinking about it.

"So erm," he started, "the Hogsmeade trip is coming up."

Audrey looked up from her book, "Yeah."

"Are you going?" he asked, putting his quill down. He looked right at her.

"Probably not. Me and my friends don't go to Hogsmeade. It's not really our thing."

"Really? I think Hogsmeade is a blast. I always go. Have you ever been to Honeydukes or Zonko's?" he sounded very enthusiastic about it.

"No." she said shyly. He had suddenly made her ten times more nervous by placing his hand on hers.

"I think you should give it a chance." he beamed, "Do you want to go with me?"

"You and your friends?" Audrey asked.

"No. Just me." he whispered, squeezing her hand gently.

"Like-like a date?" Audrey stuttered. Her heartbeat sped up and her hands turned clammy.

"Yes, like a date." he smiled shyly and his fingers slipped over hers before they moved back to his side of the table.

Audrey looked carefully into Tom's eyes. They were dark brown and so alluring. It felt like he was almost hypnotizing her with them. She couldn't see any darkness within them. Only the kind boy who was now asking her out on a real date. It looked like he did like her after all. Audrey's head was telling her that Tom Riddle was someone not to be trusted. But her heart didn't want to let go of him. After so many failed attempts at getting boys to like her, how could she let this one slip away? He was utterly perfect and he liked her back. Maybe he had made a mistake two years ago? So what?

Audrey suddenly snapped back into reality. He was a murderer, not a cute schoolboy. She couldn't go out with him! But it was so hard not to like him. How could he have so much power over her? Maybe it wouldn't hurt to give him a chance…

"Audrey," he said in a soothing voice, "I know you think you've got my number. But you don't know who I am, really. Let me show you. Give me a chance to redeem myself. Please." he begged.

Audrey closed her eyes and thought for a moment. The feeling of remorse he was giving her was so genuine. Everyone deserves a second chance right?

"Okay. I'll go with you."

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