Chapter 1 : The Breakaway
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Why am I indulging him on this? I’m twenty-five, old enough to stand up to him. Why am I here? As the light rain fell down on the Riddle house, Charlie couldn’t help but think about his current situation. He’d been dragged here to meet with what his father claimed was the greatest wizard of all time. Charlie had heard that before.
England is different from America, where he had spent his entire life. Up until yesterday, his life had existed entirely in Boston. Returning to the mother country was his father’s idea. Bursting into his college dorm room and literally abducting him, Charles Richardson, Jr., once again dictated Charlie’s future, just as he had always done.
Shivering in the rain, Charlie noticed how dreary it was here in England. Over in Boston, the sun would have been out, with a warm breeze to caress your skin. However, here it was just...depressing.
Standing in front of this old rickety house, Charlie’s first impression was: Great, a haunted house. Sitting atop a large hill, the old house brooded above the village of Little Hangleton like a predator. Charlie could only imagine what the inside looked like.
“I don’t think anyone is home, Dad,” Charlie said as the cold rain tap-danced on his shoulders.
Things had changed for Charlie after his mother died. of leukemia. Her death was neither sweet nor painless. He wasn’t even able to say goodbye to her; his father had denied him that. The morning after her death, a new set of rules had gone into effect. Charlie's friends were no longer allowed over. He couldn't stay out past ten, and he must never let anyone follow him home. Several times Charlie had considered leaving and never returning. But his dad was all he had left, and he wasn’t about to abandon him.
“Shut up. We must be patient,” Charles Jr. replied with a cold, emotionless face.
As Charlie’s blue t-shirt and jeans became soaked from the rain, he began to remember the things he had read in the wizarding papers back home. There had been so much trouble over here—the rise of the Dark Lord Voldemort; the Ministry of Magic desperately trying to round up the members of a mythical society calling themselves the Order of the Phoenix. And all of the trouble was caused by one boy, the Boy Who Lived. Please. Still, so much trouble had taken place over here. As he ran his hand through his short brown hair, his nerves were calmed by the cool touch of the rain.
Glancing over at his father, Charlie noticed how the moonlight through all of the rain made his gray hair more noticeable than it should be. His father’s black sweatshirt and blue jeans, soaked with rain, showed off his father’s physique. For a man of nearly fifty, Charles, Jr. was in damn good shape.
They were both startled by the sudden sound of the front door of this ghastly house opening.
Greeting them at the door was a short man with a rat-like face. Centreed on his mug was a nose that Charlie would have sworn was the most pointed nose he had ever seen. His pasty complexion made him look almost ghostly. Charlie couldn’t believe that this had once been a man.
“Ah, welcome to Riddle Manor. My lord has been expecting you.” His squeaky voice gave Charlie the last piece of imagery to picture the man as a rat. Little though he knew it, he was not that far off.
Stepping aside, the rodent of a man allowed Charlie and his father to enter the house. As they walked inside, Charlie wasn't a bit amazed at the condition of the ancient house. Cobwebs and the refuse of other vermin littered the downstairs like the aftermath of a wicked party. Covering everything was an inch-thick layer of dust. He had half expected it to look like a haunted house on the inside, and sure enough, he wasn’t disappointed.
Turning to face the rodent-man, Charlie noticed what appeared to be a silver glove on one of his hands. After a closer look, he realised that it was his hand.
“Tell your master that the Richardsons are honored to be invited,” Charles Jr. replied.
“Come, he waits,” the rodent-man intoned, and he led the two of them up a flight of stairs. As they entered the upstairs portion of this dreary house, the hairs on Charlie’s neck stood on end. He suddenly knew without doubt that this was not a good idea. Despite the eeriness Charlie was feeling, he also got a sense of familiarity from this place. Another thick layer of dust and cobwebs covered the second floor, adding to the spooky, derelict image already in Charlie's head. The rat-man led them into a room at the end of a long hallway. Once they were inside the room, the door closed by itself.
The room was surprisingly cosy. Aside from the cobwebs and dust, the roaring fire in the fireplace gave it a warm feeling. There was a large chair in the middle of the spacious bedroom; even though it was empty, an uncomfortable vibe wafted out of it.
Charlie, overcome with dread, leaned into his father and whispered into his ear. "Dad, this is a bad idea. We should leave now," he warned.
"Nonsense. I told you, you need to learn a little patience. And stop being so paranoid. When will your master arrive?" Charles, Jr. asked the rodent-man impatiently.
"Soon." The squeak of the man's voice sent a chill down Charlie's spine.
"I’m telling you, Dad. Something’s not right here. This freak of a man leads us into an empty room, and for what? To stare at an empty chair?" Charlie's soft rant was interrupted by the coldest, most emotionless voice he had ever heard.
“Thank you, Wormtail. You may leave us now.” A cold chill raced down Charlie’s spine as a cold, slithery voice resonated suddenly from the depths of the chair. The owner of the voice appeared then, unveiling his hideous form from beneath an Invisibility Cloak. Rising up out of the chair, he stared into Charlie's eyes with evil intent.
Stifling a gasp, Charlie met the eyes of this tall man who at first glance could be described as skeletal, cadaverous. His white face added to this impression, resembling nothing so much as a human skull. Unable to continue looking into his horrible, livid scarlet eyes, Charlie shifted his gaze uneasily. This man is half-snake! he thought in horror.
“You have nothing to fear from me, young wizard. My disfigurement was caused by my enemy—an act that I assure you will not go unpunished.” The man stretched out his pale hand and Charlie’s father bowed down and kissed it.
“My lord. My son and I have come to pledge our allegiance to you.” Voldemort—for of course it was none other than he—motioned for Charlie to get down on one knee. Charlie couldn’t believe his ears. This is why his father had brought him here—to enslave him to this creature?
“Father! Have you lost your damn mind? I won’t bow down to this—whatever he is! I’m no one’s servant! Is this why you brought me here? To sell me into slavery?" Charlie shouted angrily.
“Quite the vulgar son you have there, Richardson,” the Dark wizard commented acidly.
“Forgive him, my lord. He watches too much television.” Turning to his son, he scolded Charlie. “Mind your tongue! We are to serve the Dark Lord from now on. Now, get down here and make your oath!”
“No! I won’t throw away my freedom for anyone. And I sure as hell won't pledge allegiance to this freak!”
“You dare insult the greatest wizard of all time?” Voldemort hissed.
“Do you have any idea how many times I’ve heard that about different wizards? And every single one of them met a sticky end!”
Charles Jr. quickly rose and positioned himself between Voldemort and Charlie. “Please forgive my son, my lord. He is young and doesn’t know what he’s saying,” Charles pleaded.
“I suggest you control your son, Richardson. Or I will,” Voldemort replied coldly.
“Yes, my lord.” Turning to Charlie, Charles Jr. hit him hard across the face, causing Charlie’s lip to split open. Blood trickled slowly down the side of his mouth. “How dare you!” he spat at his son. “We’re guests in this house, young man, and you will show the proper respect!”
“No, Father! I give no respect to the likes of him! He’s a Dark wizard! He uses his magic to achieve what he desires. He cares for no one but himself. His kind makes me ashamed to call myself a wizard!” Charlie screamed defiantly.
"Mind who you insult, infant! I am no mere Dark wizard! I am The Dark Lord. I am Voldemort!" Voldemort hissed, roused to fiery rage.
"Oh, you’re the real Lord Voldemort. Hey, Dad! This is Voldemort. And here I thought he was just a myth. But here he is, the real Voldemort!" Charlie ranted sarcastically.
“You dare to mock me! I’ll have your head mounted on my wall!” Voldemort reached for his wand, but Charlie already had his out. Skilled in the art of Occlumency though he was, Voldemort was caught off guard.
“Expelliarmus!” Charlie yelled. A bright light erupted from his wand, sending both Voldemort and Charles Jr. flying across the room. As they quickly recovered themselves, Charlie ran to a nearby window and crashed through it. Falling to the ground outside the house, he thought of the only other place in England he could clearly visualise. Within seconds of hitting the ground, Charlie Apparated with a loud crack!
Charles Jr. ran to the window and surveyed the surrounding landscape. His son was gone. When he turned back to Voldemort, the Dark Lord grabbed hold of his throat and lifted him two inches off the ground.
“I invited you into my home and this is how you repay my hospitality!” Voldemort seethed in anger.
“Please, my lord! I did not know he would react that way! I swear I didn’t!” Charles pleaded in fear.
At his breaking point, Voldemort dropped Charles to the ground. Coughing as he rose to his feet, Charles rubbed the discomfort in his throat away.
“Crucio!” Voldemort screamed. Collapsing to the ground, Charles screamed in pain as the torture curse pulsated up and down his body.
“I fear that your loyalty is questionable. Whether or not you have any control over your son is no longer a concern. However, rest assured, your son’s treachery will be dealt with.”
Releasing Charles Jr., Voldemort walked over to the window and stared out across the landscape. As Charles lay defeated on the floor, his thoughts dwelled on his son. Why have you done this, my son? You have doomed us both.
As the sun began to rise over the city of London, Charlie realised that Voldemort’s Death Eaters would be coming for him. Staring up at the rising sun, he knew that his best chance of survival was to track down this mythical society he had read about. He must find the Order of the Phoenix.