Joanna headed to Knockturn Alley after gossiping about everyone from school with Annoria. Being that she was an Auror in one of the darkest parts of the Wizarding World, Joanna never took her hand off her wand. As she walked down the old shops, mostly unable to tell if they were still operational, Joanna recalled the trip she took with Tom to the tavern in Hogsmead. Oh yes, the same trepidation was lingering within her.
Finally reaching Borgin and Burkes, Joanna took a peep through the old musty window. She saw a wide array of magical objects which she was sure all could be used for dark magic. Silently, she wondered why there was no law against magical objects that enhanced dark magic.
“Can I help you?” a man, who was standing by the door, asked in a suspicious tone.
“I’m… looking for someone,” Joanna hesitated.
“Why?” The man, whom Joanna recognized as Caractacus Burke, kept the same suspicious tone.
“You’re Caractacus right?” Joanna had to confirm her doubts, as the man was missing a finger, which was not the description they had on him at the Auror department.
“You’re on our watch list,” Joanna simply replied as she walked past him and into his shop.
“I didn’t do anything, you can’t prove anything,” Caractacus immediately defended himself as he followed after her.
“Relax, I’m not here on a job.”
“Then why are you here?” His suspicious tone returned.
“I’m looking for an old friend from school, they say he works here.”
“Who? Tom Riddle? He’s the only one that works for me,” Caractacus quickly replied, hoping to shift the conversation away from himself.
“Yes. Is he here?”
“I’ll… I’ll go get him,” he said, before hurrying off and disappearing among the shelves and big objects.
And then, as though the placement of the objects were so perfect to bounce off sound, Joanna heard a conversation.
“Who is she?! What did you do?!” Caractacus demanded.
“Relax old man, she’s a friend from school.”
“She better not be snooping around. They need a warrant for that.”
“She won’t give you any problems.”
Joanna could still hear the authoritative tone in his voice. Though it may seem like Tom was working for Caractacus, but Caractacus was wrapped around Tom’s fingers.
“I’m taking a break,” Tom said, before she heard his footsteps. And though they were loud and clear she couldn’t make out the direction he was coming from.
“Funny how sound works in here huh,” Tom finally said from behind her, making her jump as her hand tightened on her wand.
“Yes. It is.” Joanna turned to face him. Tom had not really changed as he still looked the same, just older and more manly.
“Let’s talk outside. Mr. Burke likes to eavesdrop,” Tom said loudly before he led her to the exit.
Once outside, Joanna found herself letting go of her wand. Somehow, she knew he wouldn’t hurt her.
“The arrangement of the objects… your job?” Joanna asked, already knowing the answer.
“Yes. We like listening to our customers’ thoughts,” Tom answered with a smile. “So, how have you been?”
“Pretty good, you?”
“I thought you wanted to work in Hogwarts?”
“I was turned down.”
“Ouch. But I heard you had a lot of offers from the Ministry.”
“I turned THEM down.”
As Tom answered, she noticed how he never took his eyes off her.
“As an auror, aren’t you trained to be on guard every time?” Tom suddenly asked.
“You should keep your hand on your wand. I must tell you, it is more dangerous out here than in there.”
“I…” Joanna didn’t know how to answer. She didn’t intend on letting her guard down at all.
“But don’t worry, I’ll protect you. No one here crosses me,” Tom said with full of pride. And then he smiled, that same smile that captivated the hearts of many.
“I get off work at around seven. We can have dinner if you want to catch up?” Tom added.
Joanna started to read him again, just like how she would back in Hogwarts.
“Dinner sounds fine,” Joanna replied, after a few seconds of internal debates.
“Great. I’ll meet you at the Three Broomsticks,” Tom replied and disappeared back into the shop without even saying goodbye.
Placing her hand back on her wand, Joanna left Knockturn Alley, did some shopping, and settled down at the Three Broomsticks right at the stroke of seven. Moments later, Tom walked in and sat down at her table.
There was a long moment of silence as the waitress came, went and returned. Joanna buried her face in the menu long enough for the waitress to make an annoying throat clearing sound. After they made their orders, Joanna started staring out the window, trying to avoid Tom’s gaze. He had never taken his eyes off her the moment he saw her.
“Could you stop staring at me?” Joanna could not take it any longer.
“Why did you come and see me?” Tom asked in reply.
“I… I just wanted to see how you were doing.”
“Curious as always,” Tom said.
“No. I was concerned.”
“Right. But why? We haven’t spoken since we left school, its almost a year and a half now.”
“Is it wrong to check up on an old friend?” Joanna was getting defensive.
“I don’t know. We weren’t really friends after you came back to Hogwarts.”
“Well, that’s not really my fault, is it?” Joanna couldn’t believe they were getting into an argument.
“You were saying it was my fault?”
“You weren’t there when I needed you the most, you ditched me remember? After your emotional speech about wanting me to be in your life and all that, you still ditched me,” Joanna replied, trying not to get angry.
“I made a speech? I don’t recall it,” Tom said, with no expression on his face.
“Wow Tom, just wow. I don’t know why I agreed to have dinner with you. You’re just the same arrogant boy I use to know.”
“I’m always the same, Joanna. I’ve never changed. Is that all you remember me for, arrogant?”
“I don’t need to remember, you’re proving it now.” Immediately, Joanna stood up.
“You’re leaving?” Tom asked, not at all surprised.
“Yes. I am.” Joanna decided to give up trying. Tom may have grown to be more handsome, but he was still the same inside.
As she walked past him, he reached out for her wrist and stopped her.
“I’m sorry. Old habits die hard,” Tom quickly said. “Please, sit back down.” The tone in his voice had changed.
“No. I got to go.” Joanna often wondered if Tom had a split personality, and if he did, she did not want to deal with either personalities anymore.
“Don’t go. I need to tell you something.” Tom refused to let go of her wrist no matter how hard she tried to tug it free.
Joanna thought for a while. Should she listen to him and give him a chance? Or should she just leave him, as dinner WAS his chance.
To Be Continued…
(Leave a comment below or vote on whether Joanna should stay or go!)