Chapter 1 : Just This Once
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: : J U S T T H I S O N C E : :
Dedicated to Winston--This one's for you because you listened and gave people like Tom a chance. I pray you Tuba-tize Heaven as you did here. Your impression on this world is permanent, despite how little time you had. We've been in shock for the last few days, but we'll eventually come to terms with the fact that you're in a much better place. We miss you! Share that encouraging smile of yours with the angels--I'm sure it'll give them a run for their money. Rest in peace, my friend.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, neither do I own his arch nemesis.
The quote "I can make things move without touching them. I can make bad things happen to people who are mean to me. I can speak to snakes too. They find me...whisper things…" was taken from the 6th book/movie.
D o y o u see that boy over there? No, the dark-haired one, with his arms crossed and head hung low. You still don’t see him? Well, that’s brilliant; he’d prefer it that way. I don’t want you to see him—to see me. I’m nothing special. You’d do best to join those girls jumping rope together or accompany that handsome couple to the evening matinee. Trust me: you do not want to know me. I don’t want to know me. You wouldn’t believe all the terrific and terrible things I can do with my mind, with my hands…with my powers. Yes, I have special powers, and I’m not afraid to use them—that’s what scares me. No, you definitely don’t want to know me. All I’ll be is a burden, and I can imagine you have enough to worry about, as it is, just as all the others here do. You don’t want to get involved in my life. I’m an omen, and omens are best left alone. I’ve lived this long on my own in my ten years—though I know I sound older…I’m a fast learner in grammatics and English—so I reckon I can manage the rest of this life. Don’t let me trouble you, please.
Please don’t make me hurt anyone else.
What have I done, you ask? You cannot possibly be interested in my past experiences with others. No, I shan’t tell you about them. No…well, all right, if you insist. You’re awfully curious, you know. Maybe I’ll be able to turn you away from me after I tell you everything; then I won’t have the chance to hurt you, too…
My mother never taught me to express myself. She never taught me to chew with my mouth closed or part my hair. In fact, Mum never taught me anything; she never had the opportunity to. She didn’t live more than a day after I was born. There was no funeral, no graveside service to bury her and send her away to Heaven. No, Father didn’t arrange such honors after she died. I have only a glimpse of her face in my memory, and I’m unsure whether it’s real or simply a figment of my imagination. If the face is hers, all I have is Mum’s eyes—having those dark chocolate orbs isn’t nearly enough…otherwise, they wouldn’t occasionally turn red.
It’s difficult to remember my father at all, for I’ve locked everything about him in the back of my mind. I’ve only had a glimpse of him once, and I never intend to do so again. He didn’t leave me anything to remember him by, other than his hair, my jet-black waves. I’ve come to hate him, hate him beyond anything I’ve ever felt before. He didn’t even love her, according to the Ms. Bartleby, the orphanage mother. She also told me he’d never come back, so I was sent away to live with Grandmother Gaunt, once they found out she even existed. She was an amiable sort—until her mind died. It happened just under a year after she brought me in, and neither she nor I saw it coming. All I know is she was perfectly normal one day, but the following morning, she hardly knew who she was. Next thing I knew, Gran was carted off to the asylum. Somehow, Ms. B was surprised to see me left on the orphanage steps again…I wasn’t surprised.
There were only a few children my age at the orphanage, but they were friendly enough. I never grew close to any of them but one, nor did I have the chance to before a nasty bout of influenza stormed through, carrying with it half the orphanage. The virus made its appearance a mere three months after my arrival on the house’s doorstep. The children would have made delightful friends; it was devastating to see them pass on one by one.
Little Johnny survived, however. He was three years my junior, but we got on well enough. He rarely spoke, but I always knew what he was thinking. I knew when he wanted to play, sleep, eat or laugh. I doubt he understood a word I said, but he knew what I was thinking, as well. We formed a brotherly bond, and I felt that bond would never die. For me, it hasn’t. Not yet. For Johnny…
I normally keep this to myself. I normally keep everything to myself. What I’ve reflected can’t possibly be entertaining, and I don’t blame you if you wish me to stop. You can’t possibly desire more. Wait—are you certain? It won’t be pleasant, and you look like the pleasant sort…I’d rather not be the one to change that, thanks.
Are you absolutely positive you want more?
My time with Johnny, like with everyone else before him, was far too short. He and I had celebrated my birthday just the night before it happened. We were sleeping soundly in our moldy, tattered bunk upstairs when the house began to smell of smoke. When a foreign crackling sound roused us from sleep, Little Johnny and I leapt from our beds and cowered in the corner of the room with a few other orphans. We didn’t know what was taking place until flames crept their way into the room. The quaint bedroom, as every room in the orphanage, was bare, save for the topsy-turvy bunks and a small, musty closet. Acting on instinct, I rushed to the closet door, and, with Johnny in tow, thrust the wooden plank open. Just as I did so, a piece of the ceiling crashed to the floor. The closet’s interior was my only refuge from the falling debris, and my body forced my mind to take advantage of the dark place’s solace.
I realized with a sinking feeling that Johnny was not with me.
That’s when the true horror began—I was trapped. Panicking, I flung all my weight at the door until I couldn’t feel the limbs in my body, yet the immovable door still would not budge. Forced to remain confined in the darkness, I had to endure much more than the fear of suffocation. I had to listen to the screams and groans of agony echoing outside the enclosed space. With no choice but to stay put behind the door, my entire being ached to help my burning bunkmate—I knew he, Little Johnny, was the one screaming. I would have known the boy’s voice anywhere…and his mangled cries will never leave me. I attempted to tune out his wails with my own blood-curdling screams, but the cries continued on through my mind even after all was still and silent.
I don’t recall how long I called for help before the fireman came. He attempted to knock down the closet door but to no avail. He promised me he would return with more of his men, and that assurance kept me sane. That one speck of hope brought light to me in the darkness. All I wanted was to leave that place, flee and never return. I killed him. I killed him. I knew Little Johnny was burnt to a crisp just outside the closet door, and I couldn’t bear to be near him, just out of his reach any longer. Why hadn’t I waited for him to enter the closet with me? Why had I been the only survivor?
I shoved all my questions aside as I waited for the fireman with baited breath, my savior from the anguish and pain. He was all I had left…
He never came back.
When the truth finally sank in, I felt a swell of overwhelming energy. It must have taken me only a few seconds to knock the door down, yet it felt as if slow, agonizing hours had scraped by. I haven’t the slightest how I managed to break it down, but I do know that I was left with several splinters embedded in my seared flesh afterwards. The door was in complete shambles, as if I had caused some sort of explosion…which was frankly impossible, right? The next few moments rushed by in a blur, and I found myself blocks away from the burning building. That was best, I suppose, my being away from it all.
However, even as I sit here with you on the weekly orphanage outing, I don't feel any different than I did after that awful day, that living nightmare. I still feel numbed—I force myself to be; otherwise, I feel that bloody energy possess me even at the most inopportune moments, and the tragedy count doubles. I can make things move without touching them. I can make bad things happen to people who are mean to me. I can speak to snakes too. They find me...whisper things…
Ah, I’ve gone too far, haven’t I? I apologize—I don’t often have the opportunity to speak with people, and when I do, I find it difficult to hold my tongue. Usually, I keep to myself, cooped up in my small bedroom at the orphanage, my second one, alone. Must I keep away from everyone? Must I shove everything to the back of my mind? Must I stop myself from thinking, from feeling? Yes, I have to.
I don’t want to hurt anyone else.
Just…just go on your way. I’ve said enough, I’d reckon. I’m sorry if I frightened you, if I polluted your mind, if I made you cry. Don’t cry! I didn’t mean any harm! Look what I’ve done, and you’ve only been in my presence for a few minutes. I’ve hurt you already. Just leave—leave me.
Why aren’t you leaving?
An ice cream? You wish to have an ice cream with me? That’s awfully kind of you, but you don’t have to offer, really; I know you’re merely being sympathetic. I know you’d rather skip off and try to forget what I’ve told you. I know you’d rather take comfort in those whom you love, who love you, who take care of you, who don’t hurt you. That’s what I’d want, if I were you—that’s all I've ever wanted:
But I will never be granted my dearest wish. Never. Perhaps, I’ll change my path…instead of searching for love, I’ll search for something else…what else can I do? What I did with Dennis Bishop and Amy Benson—oh, forget it. You wouldn’t want to know, I’m sure. But what I did…if I did that with my powers all the time, maybe I’d get somewhere in life…
Power. I know I'm strong enough. I'm not too weak to seek it...
You are the stubborn one, aren’t you? Why are you giving me the time of day? I’m only going to hurt you again. Maybe you believe that, this time, I won’t make someone suffer. Maybe you believe you can rip the omen away from my soul. Maybe you believe that, just this once, no one will be hurt, no one will be cursed—just this once.
Oh, all right. Maybe the orphanage mother will allow me to leave her keen eye for a few minutes. If it’s an ice cream you want, I’ll give in…but just this once.
J u s t t h i s o n c e . . .
Author's Note: I can't say I ever dreamed I'd write a Tom Riddle story, but crazy things happen, don't they? How was it? Please give me any feedback you have by REVIEWING. Also, it would be awesome if you checked out my other stories, such as The Blaising Son. Thank you for reading, everyone!
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