Dumbledore's office was a large round room that screamed magic. From the spot where Tom was standing he could see dozens of magical items that he recognized, and several that he didn't. His desk along was the happy home of at least a dozen small knick knacks.
On the walls was a collection of portraits of the previous headmasters. All of them seemed to be ignoring Tom's presence.
The room was a complete three sixty from the dump that his father worked in. He had lived in a cave with his father since he could remember. It was supposed to be a safe haven from the people who were hunting them. Until a month ago he had no idea who these people were.
"Why don't you sit down Tom," Dumbledore said patting on a cushioned chair that sat in front of his desk. Tom nodded and took a seat. Standing just to the right of the desk were two teachers. The first was a stern looking woman with brown hair. Dumbledore had introduced her a few moments earlier as Professor McGonagall, head of the Gryffindor house. The other was a man in a black cloak with greasy black hair and eyes that matched. The man's face looked like it was frozen into a permanent scowl as he looked distastefully down at Tom from beside McGonagall. He had met Dumbledore and Tom at the gate of Hogwarts and had been introduced as Professor Snape, head of Slytherin house.
Dumbledore walked over to a shelf and picked up a hat from it. The hat glanced up at Dumbledore, "I think you are a week early," it said to the headmaster. Tom wasn't at all surprised to see the thing talk, he had heard stories about the hat somewhere in his distant past. His mother had probably told him about it when she was taking care of him, but he couldn't be sure.
"I am aware, but we have a student here with, ah, different circumstances to be taken into account. This young man cannot be placed in Slytherin," Dumbledore explained. Dumbledore talked to the hat as if it were a respected college. It was rather strange.
Soon the hat sat on top of Tom's head to see for himself exactly how Tom had ended up in this situation. "Ahhhh I see what you are talking about Albus," the hat said, "Yes the boy belongs in Slytherin, that's for sure. His family has never been placed otherwise. No Slytherin though. Hmmmmm well you aren't a Hufflepuff. Perhaps Ravenclaw? Hmmmmmm no, I'm going to go with Gryffindor."
Dumbledore nodded. He took the hat from Tom's head and placed it back on the shelf, "In a minute Professor McGonagall will show you to your dormitory. Feel free to make yourself at home. If I do say so myself the Gryffindor common room is a magnificent place, but that might just be my prejuduce speaking. We will lend you school supplies. The other students will arrive in a week, you will join the first years. You may do whatever you wish for the next week as long as you abide by school rules in doing so. I suggest doing a little exploration, I find that one finds the most extrodinary things when they are wondering around without knowledge of what they are looking for. But stay out of the third floor corridor is off limits and the woods. They aren't as pleasant as everywhere else. Any questions?"
Tom had quite a few questions but none of them were about school, "Do the other kids know about Voldemort?"
Dumbledore nodded, " Alas, the war was legendary. There is not a soul who hasn't heard of Voldemort; however, there are very few who know him by his real name. You needn't worry about that."
Tom pointed to his tattoos," What about these? They are pretty noticeable."
Dumbledore paused thoughtfully. Then Professor Snape spoke up, "Bandage them. Tell the other children that you have a very unfortunate sickness, and that you are too proud to let them see your extraordinarily ugly skin,"Snape said. His voice hinted with sarcasm; however, he seemed to be serious about his suggestion.
Dumbledore smiled, "Yes that will be perfect."
Tom paused again, "Its true then, everything they said my father did."
Dumbledore looked at Tom sympathetically " It is to my greatest displeasure that I must confirm every word of it."
Tom felt a lump form in his throat and he looked at his feet. He wanted to know more about it, but he didn't have it in him to ask at that moment.
Dumbledore exchanged looks with Professor McGonagall, "Follow me Tom," she said. She led him out of the office and to the Gryffindor common room. The massive castle seemed empty as their footsteps echoed throughout the staircase.
When they got to their destination a portrait of an overweight woman hung on the wall, "burple berries," McGonagall said to the portrait. It swung open to reveal a large warm room. On one wall was an oversized fireplace with a picture of a Lion over it. It also had several arm chairs on the surrounding walls. This would be his home now for the next seven years, and that, he could deal with.
McGonagall pointed to a staircase," Boys dorm is on the right. I do hope that you will show the other first years how to behave this year. You are after all older than them after all," she said with pursed lips.
"I will," Tom assured and McGonagall left. He climbed to the upstairs dorm and picked the bed in the corner. He didn't have anything to unpack so Tom set his wand on the bed stand and lay down. He would have to ask Dumbledore if he could get a robe and pajamas tomorrow, as he was still wearing the striped Azkaban prisoner uniform. Not that he really cared what he was wearing, but it would be nice if he made a better impression on the Hogwarts staff over the next week.
He sighed; everything was going to be different now. He knew he should be happy, but he really wasn't. Sure his father wouldn't be able to hurt him anymore that was good, he guessed. He was still his father though, and he knew he would never be able to let that go. He still didn't really believe them about all the crimes his father had supposedly committed. He just couldn't have done those things to other wizards, it wasn't like that. His father had always ranted about the inferiority of muggles and he understood the man killed a nations worth of muggles. He knew that was wrong and illegal. In fact, he hated himself for doing the same. He knew that just for the muggles alone his father should be in Azkaban, heck Tom should be in Azkaban too. He deserved it. But the things his father had supposedly done to other wizards, his peers. Tom wouldn't believe those things, he couldn't.
He remembered the night two weeks ago when they had found them. Tom had been lying in bed staring at the ceiling listening to the sound of some innocent muggle scream, when it had suddenly stopped. His first thought was that she had died but then his father had burst into Tom's room dragging the woman, very much alive, by the hair. His eyes had been wild, "They discovered us boy. We have to go now. Grab my hand," he had yelled. Tom grabbed his wand and reached for his father's hand obediently. A spell shot in between them before they could apparate though. Ten wizards burst into the room and his father fought them brilliantly, disarming four and killing the fifth. Looking back Tom knew that was wrong too. He was just used to the idea of his father killing. He was under attack at that moment and Tom had used that as an excuse for the poor auror's death. That was when the remaining five got the better of his father, disarming him and knocking him to the ground. Tom had just stood there frozen watching the event unfold.
"Kill em boy. I know you can do it. This is the moment we've been training for, "His father had yelled at him. He couldn't do it though. He just stood there and looking stupidly at his five attackers. The five men were extremely capable, and jumped on his hesitation knocking him to the ground next to his father. He would never see his father again now, and everyone was telling him it was for the better. When he was thinking rationally he agreed. Unfortunately men rarely think rationally.
Tom sighed and rolled over, closing his eyes. After another moment or two sleep overtook him
A seven year old boy stood in beside the bed. His hair dirty blonde hung like a dirty mop on his head. At one point in time Tom had looked exactly the same as the boy who now stood in front of him. The only thing that set them apart it was the eyes. This boy's dark eyes had a look of determination on them. They were always like that, always showing his complete and absolute determination to survive in his own way, by his own right. Tom was often ridiculed by his father for not wearing that look. He said that he needed to be stronger, that his own eyes showed weakness and were too soft. He needed to look more like his twin brother, more like Jonathan.
"He did it I know he did," Jonathan was saying.
"Did what?" Tom asked sleepily.
"Killed her," Jonathan replied back harshly
Tom shook his head, "He wouldn't do that."
"Not everyone in the world is good Tom. Father isn't going to get better and we will never be your perfect family," Jonathan sneered, "I'm going to ask him. Bet he says he did."
"No," Tom replied panicked, "He'll hurt you."
The vision shifted, now Jonathan was staring at someone else with his hard eyes," Long live Harry Potter." He said it like one would say their final words. Not in a sad way, nor regretful, but rather with resolve.
That's when the fire started. Jonathan was no longer in Tom's sight, nothing was. Every inch of his body burned, screaming with pain, begging for relief. The fire took over his entire conscious. He could not smell, see, taste, or hear. Oh but he could feel.
Tom was sitting strait up in his bed. His prison outfit was soaked through in clammy sweat and his throat felt hoarse from screaming in his sleep. His wand was in his hand though he didn't remember picking it up. He held it high pointing it at some invisible treat. He was breathing heavily as if he had just run ten miles, and he had run ten miles many times in the past.
McGonagall burst through the door way into the dorm, "Good lord, boy, I thought someone was dying," she exclaimed. She was breathing heavily too. She must have run up several fights of stairs to get to the Gryffindor common room.
Tom lowered his wand, "Someone was" he whispered to himself.
"What? Speak up," McGonagall said.
Tom shook his head, "Nothing. It was just a nightmare." Tom glanced down at his arms. His tattoos weren't outlined in an irritated red so the pain must not have been real. It was just a nightmare, he told himself.
"Does this happen a lot?" McGonagall asked worried.
Tom nodded, "Ever since my brother died. Always the same dream. It didn't matter before, I lived in a cave."
McGonagall opened her mouth to say something more but was interrupted when Snape burst into the room with his wand out ready to attack. He too looked winded, but when he saw Tom's condition he immediately lowered his wand, "How very kind of you to wake the entire castle up," he snapped. Then another moment later he let out a deep sigh, "Nightmares then?" he asked expectantly. Tom nodded.
"About your ever so sorrowful past?" Snape asked. Tom nodded again. "Before you go to bed from now on point your wand at your bed frame and say Muffliato," he told Tom.
"What's it do?" Tom asked.
"When you wake up screaming I won't have the misfortune of hearing you," Snape said.
Tom nodded and the two professors returned to their own beds, "Mufliato." Tom whispered. He lied back down and fell back asleep. When he woke up the next morning no one was there responding to his screams.