Hadrian walked across the grounds. Snow had begun to fall, painting the entire castle white. He looked up, seeing towers and bridges cloaked in the white blanket of snow. In the distance, the mountains and hills curved effortlessly, snow caking the rock faces. It made him ache for home. In another lifetime, this would be his home. He would have grown up wandering the halls of Hogwarts, likely breaking rules and earning more than his fair share of detentions, but it would have been at Hogwarts. In this life, though, he grew up at Ilvermorny. The sea of green that surrounded the Ilvermorny Castle and in the winter, the green and white stood out against the brilliant blue of the sky; that was his home. His heart ached for it. For the rolling hills and brilliant trees. He wanted the snakewood and its twisting and turning branches.
The snow crunched underfoot as he walked. He continued along the length of the lake, watching the surface ripple as various creatures moved through its waters.
He knew he stood out against the snow, anyone needing to find him merely had to look for cranberry in a sea of white and they would find him. But for the most part, he was left alone. His owl dove in and out of the trees across the lake, coming back to him every now and then to check on him. Small Bluebell Flames spun around him, warming him in the cold.
“You look awfully lonely out here.”
Hadrian didn’t turn to address the speaker but kept looking out over the lake. “I like the quiet.”
“Oh, I can leave.”
“No.” Hadrian finally looked at Alexander. “You seem like you could use the quiet too.”
The other nodded. “There’s so many voices, so many languages. It gets overwhelming. But you’re so still. Quiet. I never hear your thoughts; I’m never overwhelmed by what must be a storm brewing in your mind.”
Hadrian smiled slightly. “I taught myself Occlumency early in my life. Can’t let everyone know all my secrets.”
Alexander studies him. “Yes.” He said after a moment. “It’s your secrets that worry me.” He followed Hadrian’s gaze over the lake. “You’re going to get us all killed.”
Hadrian sighed. But rather than answer, he turned and continued along the length of the lake. Alexander followed him and together they walked further away from the castle. Cleopatra hooted, flying circles over his head. They continued through the snow in silence, the frozen water crunching under their feet. Alexander fell in step easily next to Hadrian as they walked. The castle became ever smaller behind them as they moved further and further from its looming shadow and the shadows of those within.
"You're right. My secrets could kill you. I could get you killed." Hadrian and Alexander were far from the castle, and prying ears, as they continued along the massive lake. Hadrian put a ward around them after they stopped, the two facing each other in the falling snow. "I'm not here for a tournament, or for glory. I'm here for revenge. And you're going to help me get it. You all are."
"How am I going to help you? What do you want from me?" Alexander eyed him warily.
"I want you to tell me what you've heard so far. The secrets of the castle and those within. And then," Hadrian paused. "I want you to run when I tell you to and not a moment sooner."
Hadrian stood in front of a large, blank wall on the seventh floor of Hogwarts castle. To him, it made no sense. Every other wall in the castle was covered from top to bottom in pictures, except this one. He touched the wall, letting his fingers drift over the surface. He had read stories of a room within the castle, a room where things were hidden and the room itself along with them. The students and professors thought about it, Alexander confirmed as much. Hadrian thought about the room behind the wall, of his need to enter. His pacing was not for nothing as he turned for the fourth time and the wall began to shift into a door. He grinned and pushed his way through the fully formed door. He entered and the door shut behind him, sealing him inside.
Stacks rose toward the ceiling, filled with odd trinkets and knickknacks and furniture. He could barely see the top of their tops. He walked into the room, wary of each step he took.
"There's something hidden within the walls of Hogwarts," Alexander said. "Something that scares everyone who knows about it. But I don't know what it is. It's as if the very object was erased from their minds."
Hadrian walked deeper into the maze of the room, examining the objects around him. He paused at a large cabinet, reaching out and letting his fingers graze over its surface before pulling his hand back quickly.
"A vanishing cabinet." He whispered. He had heard of them; he knew their existence and their uses. But this one was hidden away within the depths of Hogwarts. It was useless here. He turned away from it, letting out a sigh when a whisper drew him. Quiet whispers beckoned him and he followed. Through the winding stacks, he eventually found the source. The box itself was innate. There was nothing outwardly special about it. It was a plain wooden box and nothing about it would cause anyone to give it a second glance. Anyone, except Hadrian. The whispering continued, beckoning him to open the box.
Within the box, a small crown set with a deep sapphire jewel in the center. The whispering grew louder and Hadrian felt himself reaching for it. Louder and louder the whispers grew, and closer and closer Hadrian's fingers came until flesh met metal.
His scar exploded. He felt himself fall to the ground, pain ripping through him, but something else as well.
Well, well. A voice whispered; a high, snake-like voice. This is quite interesting.
Hadrian gasped as his body turned of its own accord.
He cannot see you, but I can. I can see your heart, your soul, your mind. I know who you are, Harry Potter.
His emotions spun as fear ripped through him, followed by darkness.
When he awoke, he found himself still clutching the other horcrux in his hand. It hissed and whispered, though lower than before and much more soothing. The horcrux wanted out, it wanted freedom. And it wanted to expose him.
Hadrian pushed himself upward, forcing his body to move. He quickly shoved the horcrux back into its box and ran from the castle. He pushed past other students, who called for him, asking where he had been. But he kept running and he ran until he was safely within the confines of his room.
He pulled apart his belongs, throwing objects here and there until he finally found the safest place he could. He warded it as much as he could. Then he covered it, warding even the coverings. It took only a little magic to put his room back in order before he collapsed on his bed, sleep overtaking him.
Hadrian stood in front of the other champions with Cordelia at his side. His dress robes were an emerald green and hers were silver. Together they were the colors of the Hogwarts' Slytherin house, and Hadrian laughed at the irony of the situation. They were snakes, hiding in plain sight. One of Slytherin's heirs and a Slytherin heir horcrux. Since Hadrian was currently leading in the tournament, he would be the first to enter. Ron was immediately behind him. Hadrian had met Ron's date briefly, a Muggleborn named Hermione. She had been given to the Malfoys, much as Ron himself had. Both were raised under the Malfoy roof and Draco, the Malfoy heir, was raised with them. Hadrian briefly prodded their minds, looking for where their loyalties lied. Having a spy within the Malfoy house could help him immensely, as Voldemort was not the only person Hadrian wanted for revenge.
Their minds were carefully blocked, but not fully. Emotions still slipped through the cracks. Contempt, anger, hatred. These emotions he could use. They felt no love toward their captors, but what would they think of him?
The doors began to open and Hadrian forced himself back into the moment. He offered his arm and Cordelia took it. She stood regally, her blonde hair braided behind her head and make-up accentuating her lapis lazuli eyes. Her arm was wrapped carefully through his. They walked in step as they began to move into the Great Hall. The hall was decorated in silver and white with a massive tree in the background, covered in ornaments. Snowflakes fell from the ceiling, dusting the shoulders of all inside, only to vanish the next instant. Nyah was dressed in a long blue gown, which revealed her Thunderbird tattoo. Hadrian and Cordelia turned and stopped, near Nyah. He offered a slight bow to their headmistress before he focused his eyes on Cordelia again.
The other champions littered the dance floor around them and together, they moved toward their partners. Hadrian wrapped Cordelia in his arms, and she grasped him tightly.
"I still say this would have been more entertaining with Nicholas," Cordelia muttered as they started their dance.
"Perhaps, but then who would you and Carlos dance with?" He placed his hands under her arms, lifting her gently before he brought her back to the ground and they spun.
They danced in silence as more and more joined them on the floor, bodies twisting and turning and lifted into the air. The song shifted, from one to another, and as the dance continued, Cordelia was ripped from his arms, and replaced with another.
Gaunt grinned at him as they lost themselves within the dancing crowd. His outfit was simplistic compared to the extravagance of the clothing around him. He wore black pants and a neatly tucked in black shirt. The two of them fought for control of the dance, spinning this way and that to force the other into submission. Everyone else seemed to fade away, as Hadrian and Gaunt locked themselves into a duel for dominance. Their eyes were locked together as much as their bodies. They spun and spun and spun right off the dance floor and away from the rest of the world. They were alone in the hall and Gaunt forced him against the wall, gripping one of his hands and pinning it to the wall while the other gripped one of his hips. His dark eyes were blazing as he stared at Hadrian, his breath heavy against Hadrian's cheek.
"There he is," Hadrian whispered. He leaned his head forward until his lips were close to the other's. "But which face is your real one?"
"Would you like to know?" Gaunt asked, his voice low and husky.
"Yes," Hadrian whispered.
Gaunt's mouth crashed into his and Hadrian pulled him closer. He felt the pull of apparition and suddenly he felt something else collide with his back. A wooden door. They hadn't gone far; he could see as he looked over Gaunt's shoulder that they were still within the confines of the castle. Gaunt's teeth and lips dragged over his neck and he shuddered.
The door behind him was pushed open and Hadrian through it. The other guided him until he felt the edge of a bed hit the back of his knees. Together, they collapsed onto the rather cushioned surface behind him. Gaunt ground against him as Hadrian wrapped a leg around the other's waist. They turned, fighting again for dominance as they had on the dance floor. Their bodies ground together in another dance. A dance that was getting far too difficult with clothing on. Gaunt, however, saw that as less than a problem as his hands tore away Hadrian's clothing. Strands of fabric fell to the floor as Hadrian's chest was exposed to the air. Hadrian was far less violent, pulling Gaunt's black shirt over his head. Teeth found flesh as they continued their less than graceful dance against one another, ever fighting for control. They pulled at the other's pants, freeing themselves only to be trapped by the other. And still, they fought.
Hadrian sunk his teeth into Gaunt's shoulder, listening to the moan that followed and he knew then and there that his plan was working. They continued to move against one another, neither yielding control, though Gaunt tried to make him. He grasped Hadrian in his hand, pumping as he did.
"Give in and I'll give you more." He whispered.
But Hadrian merely smiled. He pushed the man onto his back and grinding against him. Their lips crashed together again as their bodies followed suit. They ground against each other, taking pleasure in their fight. Gaunt's nails ran down Hadrian's back as again, Hadrian's teeth sunk into the man's flesh. They moaned in unison as the pleasure built between them. The friction of skin on skin drove him mad until it drove them both over the edge. Hadrian gasped, his body falling against Gaunt's. Both breathed heavily as pleasure began to fade. Hadrian took several steadying breaths, before pushing himself off the bed.
He quickly fixed his clothes and cleaned himself before dressing. On the bed behind him, Gaunt sat up, watching his every move.
"That was fun," Hadrian said, putting himself back together. Gaunt raised an eyebrow. "Let's do it again some time."
And Hadrian left the room. He found himself in the Defense classroom and began walking toward the front of the castle. Cordelia met him along the way and together, they left the castle and the ball behind.
"So?" Cordelia prompted. "Did it work?"
"Perfectly," Hadrian answered with a smirk.