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To Glory by victoria_anne
Format: Short story collection
Chapter 1: Tom Riddle
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Meaning behind the word prompt: Hubris
It had all been so very easy.
Tom Riddle walked through the drizzling rain, his thoughts preoccupied, his footsteps quick. A sense of vindication and elation flowed through his veins, making his blood run hot so that he hardly felt the cold water trickling down the back of his neck under his collar. He tapped his fingers against his wrist as he passed grey, run down shops, the sensation of success making him dizzy, even though it was a familiar feeling. For once, he let himself run unchecked; he deserved this.
He had never felt more out of control.
Tom climbed the stone steps of the orphanage, the words repeating disbelievingly in his head; they were gone, gone, gone. He was finally done with them. His… family. His lip curled upward at the word. He didn’t need a family. What could they possibly give him that he could not give himself? As he walked into the building, head high, chest out, he was greeted by the screams and shouts of the other children, the wet weather forcing them to stay indoors. They didn’t approach him, of course, hardly even looked him in the eye. They slipped into the next room with their silly games, as if they were water down the scales of a snake; trickling quietly away from him, without him caring enough to notice.
They had learnt their lesson a long time ago.
Once upstairs in his room, he sat on his bed and absentmindedly ran a finger over the black stone of the ring, thinking of his maternal uncle. His stomach turned with hatred and disgust at the memory of Morfin. That filthy, drunk excuse for a wizard. A descendant of Salazar Slytherin was supposed to be proud. Morfin carried a great honour and privilege in his veins, yet he was dirty and barbaric.
At least he had been good for one thing. Well, two, Tom corrected himself, twirling the ring around his finger. Once they had been brought to his attention, the Riddles had been all too easy to find; their house on the hill was visible for miles. It was almost as if they were proud of what they were, living in their mansion like royalty.
They were not royalty.
He was royalty.
When they fell, one by one, he had taken in a deep breath. It was as if every breath he had taken before then had been preparing for this one. Finally, he was an orphan for real, and how freeing it felt. Finally, there was no untainted blood between him and Slytherin; a pure, direct line. Finally, he was alone, as he had always been.
He thought, not for the first time, of the Basilisk, down in Slytherin’s Chamber. A kind of longing pulled at his insides, followed quickly by anger. It had all been going exactly to plan, perfectly executed - as all of his ideas were - apart from the minor setback of a few petrifications. He looked around his room again, and loosened his grip. It was here or Hogwarts; there had been no choice.
He glanced at the calendar on the wall, sitting above his small collection of animal bones. There were only five days before he returned to school. He thought of what he would accomplish this year.
Slytherin House, if not the entire school, was already his. Spells mastered, potions memorised, respect of students, trust of teachers. All in the palm of his hand. He’d even conquered the Killing Curse; had he not just proven it, less than an hour ago, on his father and grandparents?
What was left to do for one so powerful?
There was so much he wanted to do, planned to do. Though he had searched through endless books for spells and potions with the particular effects he wanted, he hadn’t found anything even close to suit his needs. But he was not disappointed by this setback.
He would create his own magic.
If no one had the ability to design what he needed, he would simply make it himself. Enthralled by his ideas, he picked up one of the bones and held it in his palm. This - this tiny smooth object - was all that remained of a life. Once flesh and muscle and blood had been stripped away, this was all that remained. Lightning flashed through the sky, throwing the shadow of the tree outside across the floor. The little skull in his hand had once possessed an energy of its own; should something that was once alive be so fragile?
He stroked the smooth bone with a long finger. Every living thing looked like this underneath its life. Even humans. But not him. He shuddered at the thought, his hand closing over the bone. No one would ever see him like this, because he would never die.
Death was so final, and he was not finished yet.
He returned the bone to the windowsill, where it sat in a straight line with the others; they served as a reminder that only the weak and unworthy were victims of death.
Lightning lit the evening sky again as he sat back down on the bed, transferring a large book from under it into his lap. He ran his hand over it as he studied the cover. Black, dusty apart from where his fingers left thin trails. The dark tracks were like him: a stark mark in the dust of history. He flicked through the thin pages of the old book, coming to a stop at a page on Salazar. He traced Slytherin’s name, vowing aloud and in Parseltongue that he would be just as great. There was only up from here. There had only ever been that direction. Onward and upward.
Chapter 2: Gilderoy Lockhart
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Gilderoy Lockhart could still remember the first time he knew he was clever.
He’d been five weeks old, and had made his favourite toy – his sister’s hairbrush – fly directly from her dressing table to where he was waving his little hand in his crib. His mother had whooped with delight, and thrown a party in Gilderoy’s honour, a lavish celebration with massive fountains of chocolate and the best fireworks Galleons could buy, and she invited all of her magical friends – nearly one hundred of them. In his later years, people continued to ask Gilderoy if this story was true, and he would throw his head back and laugh, and say, “Of course not!”
It was more like two hundred.
And there was a real dragon.
Gilderoy’s cleverness was a thing of awe, so such a reaction was to be expected. He was his mother’s favourite; his sisters, Georgina and Gracie, possessed no talent – magical or otherwise. Even if they had, Gilderoy would still be the golden child.
He was a rare treasure.
It was with this thought in mind that Gilderoy walked back to Ravenclaw Tower, stride confident despite the recent setback, a piece of parchment scrunched in his fist. As he thought of the Headmaster’s exasperated expression, he tightened his hold on the parchment until his knuckles were white. The Headmaster had no idea of the opportunity he was refusing. It was practically a punishment; to withhold from the school the chance to gaze upon his face and name as much as they wished. Gilderoy quickly relaxed his grip on the parchment (an example of the front page of Hogwarts Hourly), lest he cramp his wand arm. He could recite every spell in the curriculum nonverbally, of course – wand waving wasn’t the issue - but news of him in the hospital wing would only cause everyone to worry, and the other patients would become jealous of all the Get Well cards he was bound to receive.
He reached the entrance to Ravenclaw Tower. The eagle shaped bronze knocker asked, “What work can one never finish?”
Gilderoy scratched his chin as he thought. “An autobiography.”
As the eagle knocker granted him access, Gilderoy rubbed his hands together. That might be the case for other people, but, one day, he would write and finish his own autobiography – or ten, to cover all of his adventures - and the world would know his name, his face, his achievements.
He glided into the nearly empty common room. A few students looked at him as he entered (and after he loudly cleared his throat) and he threw his naturally wavy hair back so that it caught the light of the setting sun from the high windows. As he strode to one of the desks, his mind was already spinning with ideas of his next step. Perhaps he would print copies of Hogwarts Hourly himself, and leave them around the school. Once the other students realised what they were missing, there would surely be an uproar, a petition. He shook his head at himself; he was being silly. Obviously he would send his articles straight to The Daily Prophet.
Gilderoy sighed loudly and looked around him. The other Ravenclaw students were deep in conversation or had their noses buried in books. He sighed again, louder, and still no one looked up. The common room was too quiet. He rose from the desk and slung his bag over his shoulder, the library his destination; the other students were no doubt wondering where he was.
The library was busy; the fifth years choosing to cram information into their brains before they crammed food into their mouths. He chose a desk in the middle of the room, and pulled out his Transfiguration assignment. He wasn’t sure when it was due, but he did know that the top five assignments would be sent for judging in the next issue of Transfigure the Times. He simply had to have his name and excellent work in publication.
A small girl approached him with a piece of paper, and Gilderoy straightened. He flashed a dazzling smile, quill at the ready as she neared, for surely this girl wanted him to sign the parchment for her. He’d been practicing his autograph on the textbooks of his classmates.
“Excuse me, but would you like to join our Gobstones team?”
Gilderoy’s face fell, but he accepted the flyer, scanning the bright pinks and purples that willed him to join. Once the girl walked away, he tossed it into the bin. It wasn’t that he was rubbish at the game – despite what the other students said – but, if he was less than perfect at it, it clearly wasn’t worth his time. Best to give the other students a chance. Gobstone liquid stained the skin, anyway.
No one around him even batted an eye when he yawned loudly, stretching his arms above his head. He straightened his robes, trying not to let this lack of attention bother him. The other students clearly needed to study; not everyone could be as clever as him.
Gilderoy wandered down to the Great Hall, joining a handful of people for an early dinner. He sat at the Ravenclaw table, and the boy and girl beside him scooted further away down the seat. Gilderoy was used to this reaction; he couldn’t say he blamed them. He often had this effect on people, because he was an intimidating young man. To some, it looked as though he was being avoided, but Gilderoy knew that this wasn’t the case at all. He didn’t mean to be so astonishing, but he couldn’t help it.
He shot the boy and girl a dazzling smile, picked up a goblet, and admired himself in it. His face, staring handsomely back at him, was reflected in gold. And why shouldn’t it be?
He was destined for greatness.
Gilderoy clenched his jaw in determination, then quickly loosened it; he’d read that that can cause early wrinkles.
He was glorious, and there was only one place for glorious people to go. Looking down the Ravenclaw table, he caught sight of his reflection in the other goblets. A dozen golden Gilderoys stared back at him. He tipped his goblet at the closest reflection in a silent salute, and drank.
Chapter 3: Percy Weasley
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The sun was shining invitingly through his bedroom window, but Percy Weasley sat just outside of its reach. It was as if the warm tendrils would wrap themselves around his skin and drag him outside if he let them touch him, and he couldn’t risk that. He had too much work to do. Always too much work.
He wasn’t complaining, of course. In fact, he rather enjoyed it. He liked to make a difference, to see everything laid out neat and organised. To hear the Minister for Magic himself say, “Excellent work, Willsburg.” Percy closed his eyes briefly in exasperation at the memory of his latest name, but then they were open again, and focused.
Focus, focus, focus.
A loud crash sounded from downstairs, followed by two identical shouts of laughter. Percy clenched his jaw, remembering to loosen his grip on his quill; he’d snapped too many already. He turned his concentration back to the parchment, but he’d already lost his place. He shot an accusatory glare at his closed bedroom door, as if his gaze could burn into the twins downstairs. His family didn’t understand how important his work was, didn’t understand him, and it was frustrating.
The Smith file, the Smith file… Percy let out a groan. Where was it? A quick look over his room proved fruitless, nor had it fallen under his bed, which was neatly made; he’d hardly slept in it. Just a few hours here and there on top of the covers before his brain was awake and ticking again. More loud obnoxious laughter came just as the realisation entered his head. The file was downstairs.
He crept to his door and silently opened it, the shrill voice of his mother loudly entering his room.
“George! I said no!”
Percy sighed and slipped out onto the landing. What were the chances of him making it downstairs, undetected, and grabbing the paperwork?
Oh. The chances were zero.
Percy sniffed. “I’m sorry, Ron, but I can’t stop to chat.”
Ron leaned against the doorframe of his own bedroom with his arms crossed. “I get that, Percy. Was just saying hello.”
Had he left the Crawford file downstairs too? “I don’t need you wasting my time.”
“Fine.” Ron shut his door louder than Percy thought necessary. He felt a tiny twinge of guilt, but it was quickly swamped by a fresh wave of worry. Ron could wait. Where was that file?
Percy made it to the living room undetected, and shuffled through the papers on the rickety desk. He found the Smith file, as well as an assignment of Ron’s, the writing nearly illegible. Percy felt his lip curl up in disapproval. How did he get away with that handwriting, and submit assignments that looked like that? Was he not proud of his work?
Paperwork tucked under his arm, Percy hovered. Well, since he was down here, he might as well make a cup of tea.
The cluttered kitchen was occupied by his mother, Fred, and George. Molly gave him a small smile before she quickly turned away. Again, Percy felt a stab of guilt. Their last conversation had been tense (she thought he worked too much, didn’t she understand that he had to?), but once the Smith file was finished, he would talk to her. He reached past her for a cup.
“Oh, not that one, Perce!” Fred cried, snatching the cup from his grasp. “George and I bewitched that one.”
Percy looked at him in astonishment. Had his brother really stopped him from becoming the victim of a prank? Maybe his family was finally starting to understand him after all.
“Thank you, Fred.” Percy poured hot water into the new cup. “That’s… kind of you.” He turned to make his way back upstairs, when the bottom of his cup disappeared, and hot water hit the floor, onto his feet and splashing back up his trousers.
“Oh, wait – it was this one!” The twins collapsed into chairs, roaring with laughter as Percy’s trousers dripped steaming water.
He bit back his remark and stomped upstairs, all the more irritated because not only was he wet, but he didn’t have a cup of tea either.
Percy slammed his door shut. How could his parents possibly wonder why he worked so hard? Did they really think he, Percy Ignatius Weasley, was going to act a fool and a joker just for laughs? That was not Percy’s way. If they knew him at all, they would leave him alone to reach his ambitions in peace.
He replaced his trousers, discarding the wet ones into his laundry basket, which was full. Once again he cursed the fact that his parents don’t have much money. His face still felt hot when he thought of his colleague teasing him for the wear in his robes, the set Charlie had worn when working with animals. Did they want him to turn out like them? Struggling with many children, where hand me downs could be handed down five times and still be acceptable?
Sitting down at his desk, Percy picked up his quill. They would see him rise, and then he would be the one to laugh. He bent his head again, scribbling furiously on the parchment, thinking of when it would be his time to rise to the top.