Chapter 1 : Scenes From the Hedge of Merope Gaunt
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She shuddered. Merope didn’t want to think about that. Nevertheless, one memory came to mind. When Marvolo had realised that she wasn’t good with magic, he neglected her. However, a few days later, when all she’d had to eat was a few rats she’d found, he decided she could still be useful with cooking and cleaning.
At the moment, both of them were in the cellar, lounging around. When they were in the room she thought about every step she made, not wanting to anger them. But for now, she was semi-alone. She tiptoed out the front door, anxious that she would be caught by Morfin or Marvolo, and peered through the hedges.
Suddenly, Merope heard the sound of a horse, a sound she’d recognise anywhere. It was the sound of Tom Riddle riding past on his horse. Tom Riddle was the handsomest man in the world, tall and pale, with dark brown hair. He made her heart beat faster, and unfortunately, he made a lot of girls’ hearts beat faster too. He was very popular in the village, and had a pretty companion named Cecilia. Tom Riddle seemed protective of Cecilia, and always put his arm around her when they came past. Also, he called her ‘darling’, which made Merope feel miserable.
Tom Riddle appeared in sight, which jerked Merope back into reality. He was alone, which was good, because Merope loathed seeing Cecilia with him. He looked at the house in disgust, and then, shrieked. Merope realised that Tom Riddle could see her, and didn’t blame him. She was starkly white, plain, with dull hair, and eyes that looked in separate directions. Merope was not pleasant to look at, unlike pretty Cecilia.
Tom Riddle whipped his horse, looking desperate to get past the house, probably afraid of Merope, the tramp’s daughter. Especially when she was staring at him obsessively. Merope sighed, but she didn’t cry, as they didn’t allow crying. The man she loved was afraid of her! The man she loved had a pretty companion who he probably loved! The man she loved thought her house and family was repulsive and disgusting and revolting and would probably want to get rid of them both the first chance he got! But, that one wasn’t so bad, as she agreed with him on that.
She was destined to spend her whole life here, being a hopeless and terrified slave to her abusive father and brother, seeing the handsome Tom Riddle and Cecilia pass everyday.
Despite her efforts, tears spilled out of Merope’s eyes, and her hand flew to her face as fast as it possibly could, trapping the tears, in case Morfin or Marvolo saw them.
The next day, when Morfin and Marvolo were once again in the cellar, probably drinking, Merope’s curiosity got the best of her, and she hid in the hedges, waiting for Tom Riddle. She had told herself she wouldn’t, for it was useless to inflict more pain on herself, but as she had nothing else to look forward to, she gave in.
When he finally approached, he did something completely unexpected. He stopped his horse at her house, and questioned Merope.
“Peasant!” he started arrogantly, and Merope hid her head, feeling mortified.
“I know you are there, peasant. No point in hiding.” He asserted.
Merope peered up from the hedges, and saw him flinch at her face. However, she thought he looked even lovelier up close. Merope thought herself a coward, not even able to look the man she loved in the eye!
“Y-Yes?” she asked, her voice shaking.
“Why are you always behind the hedges when I come past? I don’t like to be spied on by filth like your family! Stay well away from me and Cecilia!” Tom Riddle sneered, and then, rode off.
Merope’s head was spinning. She had just been found out, and deeply insulted by the man she loved. Maybe it was best not to inflict the pain on herself, and stay away from Tom Riddle. Well away.
A week or so later, when Merope had finally adjusted to her (pointless) life without Tom Riddle, she received a nasty shock. Morfin came home, after being on a mysterious outing, and approached Merope.
Merope froze, expecting to be punished or taunted, when he came closer. However, Morfin only reached out to her ear, and whispered: “Your pretty Muggle doesn’t look so pretty now, does he? Not when I hexed him, he didn’t. You probably won’t be able to spy on him through the hedge, will you? Marvolo will find out later, but for now… Let it be, he’s not in a good mood.”
Merope didn’t like the thought of her love being attacked, but it gave her perverse pleasure. Serves him right for being so arrogant, serves him right for loving her instead of me. Maybe she wouldn’t be attracted to him if he had disgusting skin. It was not as though she loved him for his personality.
Maybe the world wasn’t so terrible after all, she thought, and then laughed miserably.