Taking his hand, Joanna felt an immediate surge of energy as Tom brought her along in an apparation. A few seconds later, they appeared in front of a mansion.
“What is this place?” Joanna asked.
“My place. Supposedly,” Tom answered, as he led her through a door which entered a dusty kitchen.
“If it is your place, why are we entering from the back?”
“It is supposed to be mine, but it isn’t.”
Tom pulled out his wand and brightened up their path out of the kitchen, pass the dining room, and into the hall.
“Whose is it then?”
Tom did not answer as they started up the curving steps to the first floor.
“What if we get caught?”
“You’re still afraid of being caught?” Tom asked in reply.
It was Joanna’s turn not to answer him.
Finally, they entered a huge reading room. Tom started a fire by the fireplace while Joanna examined the room. There were tall bookshelves, a grand piano, and three sofas that sat by the fireplace. The house looked abandoned for several years, as the dusty carpets and cobwebbed ceilings made the air so stale and difficult to breath. However, this room was an exception.
“You live here?” Joanna asked, settling down on a sofa.
“This is the Riddle House. It’s mine by default.” Tom took a seat across her before he continued, “I don’t use the front door because it’s booby trapped. I’ve put spells around the house so no muggle would dare enter. Their fear of the dead is an advantage.”
“Fake ghosts of my dead father and grandparents. Even their loyal gardener is afraid of entering the house after their deaths.”
“But this is not what I wanted to show you.”
Tom smiled before he whispered in parseltongue. A few seconds later, Joanna heard a hissing reply.
“Should I close my eyes?” Joanna immediately asked. The last time she met one of Tom’s pets, it was a killing machine.
“No. Nagini is not a basilisk. She’s a rare crossed breed snake I acquired when I was travelling.”
To Joanna’s surprise, the snake that entered the room was not at all huge. It was merely 4 feet long and half a feet wide.
“She’s still a baby. But she’ll grow,” Tom said, after he saw her slight relief.
The snake slithered up the sofa next to Tom, and rested its green head on his lap.
Tom said something else in parseltongue and the snake turned its head to look at Joanna. With its tongue flicking in her direction, it slowly stood up.
“What did you say?” Joanna asked, watching the snake closely.
“I introduced you to her.”
The snake slowly slithered onto the wooden table in the between them and Joanna reacted by standing up immediately.
“Relax. I told her you’re not dinner.”
Was that a joke? Joanna asked herself as she turned to Tom.
“She’s just being friendly,” Tom continued. “Give her a pat on the head, so she knows you’re not hostile.”
Joanna shook her head in reply.
“Nagini won’t bite. She’s a baby and she’s friendlier at this stage. In a couple of months time, it would be impossible to befriend her.”
I don’t want to befriend a snake, Joanna thought.
“If she knows you now, she won’t attempt to kill you later on.”
Looks like I don’t have a choice then? Joanna thought.
Slowly, she reached out towards the snake. It was watching her hand as she watched it, and Joanna had a bad feeling about it. Quickly, she touched the top of the snakes head and pulled her hand back. The snake then lowered its head, before returning to Tom.
“That wasn’t so hard, was it?”
Joanna sat back down cautiously.
“I just wanted you to meet my new friend. Nagini has been accompanying me for some time now and she sort of reminds me of you.”
“I’m not a snake,”Joanna immediately responded.
“Of course not. But you’re a friend.”
Tom’s reply made Joanna smile. He never stopped taking her as a friend. That was good, she thought.
Throughout that one month break, Joanna had been catching up with many of her old friends during the day, and spending the nights with Tom in the reading room. One evening, while Joanna was reading a book on dark magic, which was one of the many that rested on the tall shelves, Nagini entered the reading room.
Tom was not around that evening as he said he had an errand to run. Joanna was fine being alone, but certainly unsure on how to react when his snake decided to be her company.
“Hi,” Joanna said, as she lifted her legs off the ground and folded it on the sofa.
Nagini headed up to her and hissed.
“What is it?”
Nagini rose higher off the ground, hissed at her, and turned to look at the door.
“What do you want?” Joanna asked, pushing herself against the sofa. She had to admit that she was still afraid of the snake, baby or not.
Nagini dropped to the ground, slithered to the doorway, rose from the ground and hissed at her again.
Does it want me to follow it? Joanna asked herself.
“Do you want me to follow you?” Joanna then asked Nagini, which she knew did not understand English.
Like a puppy trying to hint for something, Nagini slithered back and forth with its head turning to the hallway outside the room.
Joanna was now certain it wanted to be followed. Yet, Joanna was not so sure if she should. God knows if Nagini intended on attacking her somewhere else.
To Be Continued…
(Leave a comment below or vote on whether Joanna should follow after Nagini!)