Chapter 1 : Prologue
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Tom Riddle set out down the tracks as the sun began to greet the earth. His freshly shaven face was clean and smelled pleasant, as he still caught whiffs of his after-shave when he turned his head. He walked down the rigid pavement, unaware of the watchful eyes up ahead. In the bushes sat a young witch, with straggly blonde hair, watching as the man unknowingly walked past her, as though she was invisible. He wasn’t quite a man yet, Merope thought as she stood silently to go, but older, more mature, and certainly wealthier then her. Merope wringed her dull fingers as she waited to make sure that the man was well out of sight, before heading the opposite direction for home. She dragged her feet, unwilling to go home with no reward. She had watched the boy every day for a week, since he caught her eye in the market. Desperate and delusional, Merope turned around and walked quickly behind the boy careful to remain out of his sight in fear of spooking him. As she neared him, she slowed her pace and veered to the right. Taking a deep breath, she took a deep breath, and verged out of the brush, falling to her feet and screaming out in pain. The boy turned around, eyes creasing.
“Oh help me, sir, I lost my footing and cannot stand on my own!” She cried. The boy let out a gruff noise before helping her up.
“What are you doing in these parts?” He said roughly, eyeing her with suspicion. He was beautiful. The most beautiful man she had ever seen, with dark, black hair and a strong jaw, stubble creeping as slowly as the rising sun. She blinked, unaware of what he had asked. The man rolled his eyes.
“Off you go,” he said before turning around to continue to work. Merope became fearful that this would be her first, and last, encounter with the man, so she cried out once more.
“Oh, oh no. I cannot walk. I must go see someone about it. You must help me, its right down the road.” She lied.
Tom looked to the sun, judging how much time he had to spare before taking her in his arms and spitting, “Which way?”
Together they travelled to the nearest apothecary. As soon as they arrived, he made to go, but Merope was so close she refused to let him slip.
“Wait, tell me your name. I am forever in your debt; I must find you once more to repay you.” She pleaded, taking his strong hand.
“Tom Riddle,” he said looking away from her. “I must be going; I am already late for work.”
He stumbled outside, yanking his hand from her and letting the door slam on the way out.
“Thank you,” Merope whispered, as she watched his retreating form out the window. She then stood and dusted her hands on her skirt.
She felt angry and bitter that he had not wanted to stay with her, she had not seduced him into reciprocating the feelings she felt for him. Suddenly, she became so angry that she stormed outside the small shop. There was no one in the streets so she hastily grabbed her wand and whispered, “Stupefy!” in a fit of anger.
Suddenly, Tom stopped walking and fell to the ground. Merope looked down at her shaking hands not comprehending what she had just done. She looked around the deserted street quickly, before picking up Tom and apparating home.
The shack in which Merope lived had become significantly cleaner since her father and brother had become imprisoned. She laid Tom on the kitchen table before quickly gathering a cauldron and the ingredients she needed. She knew she had very little time until Tom would stir. Hastily, she brewed a potion.
When Tom did wake Merope was sitting calmly at the table next to him, potion in hand.
“Where the bloody hell am I?” He asked sitting up quickly. When he turned and saw Merope, he groaned and lay back down.
“Bloody fuck…” He whispered rubbing his eyes.
“You fell,” She said lamely. “Drink some juice, it’ll help,” She said calmly.
“No,” Tom said, swinging his legs to the side to the table. “I must be going.”
She laid a hand upon his thigh, her nails digging into the material. “Drink,” She said once more.
Tom rolled his eyes and swung his head back drinking the whole thing in one sip, before coughing.
Merope sat back weary. Tom stood and left.
Merope stared after Tom, the door slamming shut behind him. Merope let her head fall down to the table, tears streaming down her blotchy skin. Suddenly she heard the door open once more. She lifted her head to see Tom.
“Why are you crying Merope?” he asked quietly. She shook her head. Tom kissed her.
“And where will we live?”Merope asked, running her fingers through Tom’s soft hair.
“I will buy you any lot you please, my love.” Tom replied, kissing her.
Tom and Merope were set to marry the next week much to the dismay of Tom’s family. But he didn’t care, he was in love.
The day came quickly, filled with laughter and love. Merope wore her mother’s old dress, laced up to her neck. She was so filled with happiness, yet she began to grow weary of Tom. She realized that she could not pull wool over his eyes forever, yet somehow she had just hoped that she wouldn’t need to.
Hastily, Merope pushed those thoughts from her mind. Those were more suited for a sleepless night, not her wedding day. So she grinned through the tears and gave herself off.
The look on Tom’s face is one she would never forget, one she would take to the grave. In the moment he kissed her, binding their fate, all others melted away.
Tom scooped her up into his strong arms and carried her away. Merope had dreaded spending their wedding night in her run-down shack, yet the pair had not found a house that suited them. Merope dreamed of the adventures they would share in that house, the children they would raise, together. But her dreams were soon filtered as Tom arrived at the shack. Tom set Merope down, holding her wrists to keep her close. He bent down, nuzzling his head in her neck, letting kisses escape his lips. He moved his lips up to her ear and whispered, “Stay here,”
Merope looked around and opened her mouth to speak before Tom kissed it and ran inside the house. She heard a crash inside and rolled her eyes as she walked to the front door. Suddenly Tom burst back through with two bags in his hands and a key dangling around his neck.
Tom dropped the bags and kissed her hand, before removing the key and placing it in Merope’s palm. “Let’s start our lives together,” he announced.
“What is going on, Tom?” Merope asked quickly. Tom took her hand and began walking. He did not say another word the entire journey, even as Merope questioned him relentlessly. Tom finally stopped in front of a house down the way. He held out his arm with a grin on his face and together they walked up the steps. Merope tried the key and the door swung open.
Merope stepped into her new home. It was beautiful in her eyes, with dark floors and light walls, with windows as high as the ceiling. She jumped into Tom’s arms once more, and they hugged tightly.
“Thank you,” she whispered, tears of pure happiness streaming down her face. He kissed her tears away, his eyes expressing all the things his mouth couldn’t.
Together they explored the small quaint house. Tom had yet to move their furniture, but Merope didn’t care. It was perfect, because it was theirs.
Together, Tom and Merope spent their wedding night in their own home.
“Merope?” Tom called from down the hall. Tom had just returned from another day at work. However, Merope was still in bed, in the same spot he had left her that morning.
Merope groaned. Her face was pale and sweaty. Tom knelt beside her, growing concerned.
“Merope? What has happened?” He asked, grabbing her cold hand. Merope groaned again before rolling over in a fit and began retching over the side of the bed. Tom stroked her soaked hair as he contemplated what to do. He finally scooped her up and headed over to the house next door, as the neighbors wife was a nurse at the apothecary a while back.
The nurse had nothing to help them. She simply placed a cool rag upon Merope’s head and told her to go to sleep. Tom was dissatisfied with this answer but took her home anyway, slamming the door behind him.
The next day while Tom was at work, Merope was feeling well enough to begin moving again. She had an inkling of what may be happening to her and became distraught about it. Although Tom did not know she was a witch, she still performed simple spells now and again while his eyes were averted. Merope apparated to St. Mungos at once, to confirm her suspicion.
There was only one ward at Mungos at the time and Merope was forced to wait in line with all the other patients whether they were missing a finger from a dragon incident or had a dreadful case of Dragon Pox.
When she was finally called, she began to grow nervous. What if this disease was permanent?
“How can I help you today, Mrs. Riddle?” the man asked.
“Uh, well I believe I may have contracted a wizarding disease, despite living with my muggle husband.” She said quietly.
The man eyed her suspiciously not pleased with her associating with muggles. He began performing various tests on her checking for the diseases that were currently circulating.
All the tests came back negative and Merope soon grew weary. Suddenly the bulge in her shirt caught the man’s eye.
“Is it possible, Mrs. Riddle that you could be with child?”
Merope’s eyes snapped up before placing her hand on her stomach. Her heart began to race, becoming overjoyed.
“Yes…yes…” She said suddenly.
The man looked at her with hard eyes. “I see. Well, good luck Mrs. Riddle. Be careful.”
Merope leaped from her spot and rushed out the door, eager to tell Tom.
Merope was perched on the kitchen table in their beautiful home when Tom returned home from work that day. She had used her wand to freshen up, something she had not done since she locked it up the day they married. But Merope wanted everything to be perfect.
Tom walked in the door and came over to Merope suspiciously, before kissing her head.
“Yes?” He asked, placing his arms around her.
Merope’s hands shook as she took Tom’s hand and placed it on her stomach. Tom looked confused at first, before searching Merope’s eyes.
Merope nodded slowly and Tom let out a whimper before scooping her up and spinning her around the kitchen as she giggled.
Finally he set her down, her hair strewn every which way and his eyes wild.
“I’m so in love with you, Merope. “ He said leaning down and kissing her lips before moving down her neck. She titled her head to the side her body shuddering.
Deep in the pit of Merope’s stomach though, something was stirring. Her mind was fleeting with possibilities. She felt tired and stale from being loved under a spell.
That night as Merope lay in bed next to Tom, she began to wonder what would happen if she lifted the spell. Surely he would have to stay; the baby meant everything to him. Surely….
It had been decided.
Nine months had come and gone. The baby would be coming any day now. And this was it. Merope had resolved to tell Tom about the spell, about the potion and about the magical powers she possessed, as their child would surely have it.
Merope prepared a feast even though the smell of food was revolting for her during the pregnancy. It was ready and on the table, set with old china from Tom’s mother and candles.
She was just setting out the last glass as Tom walked through the door.
“What have you prepared?” He asked. Tom came around to Merope, scooping her up and kissing her lips. “This baby will be the luckiest one in the world”. He set her down before taking his seat at the table. They ate in silence. Merope was too nervous to touch anything and Tom gave her suspicious looks.
“What’s wrong?” He asked with his mouth full, his eyes immediately dropping down to the bulge in her shirt.
“No, no,” Merope answered, reassuring him. “It’s just… I have a confession to make.”
Merope told her tale of the magic she possessed. She put it all out for him, talking rapidly, never meeting his eyes.
Tom was silent the whole time. Once Merope finished her twisting tale, she was confident, glad she had finally come honest. She felt determined that even though she did coheres him into loving her, he would surely stay, for the love of her and their unborn child was enough to keep him there. Slowly, she looked up, whispering the counter charm to her love potion.
Tom’s eyes grew dark. He rose from the table and walked out the door.
Merope was distraught.
Weeks later, Tom had yet to return to the house they shared. Merope felt numb, spending days at a time lying in their bed, tears streaming down her face.
It was a dark day, the clouds in the familiar London overcast, threatening to spill at any moment. But today was different, she could feel it. She usually paid no mind to what was going on around her but and she sat back down on her bed with yet another cup of tea she felt it.
It was as though her body was threatening to crumple at any moment. She realized she had not taken good enough care of herself since Tom had left, not eating for days, spending the nights alone awake, eyes red and puffy, rethinking everything her life was about. Her skin had become yellow and her eyes permanently bloodshot. She had retorted to ignoring the cries from the baby inside her.
Suddenly she felt some strange feelings in the pit of her stomach. Merope shot up before doubling over in pain. It was a pain she had never felt before. Merope cried out before staggering out of her bed. She tried to reach the telephone to cry for help but suddenly realized she had no one to call. She staggered out the door clutching her stomach, not bothering to grab a coat to cover her frail arms or figure out where she was going. She reached the street.
Merope grasped her head, her mind pounding unsure of what was happening inside her. Every noise was magnified, every sight blurry and twisted. Rain began to pound on her exposed skin. She closed her eyes.
When Merope opened them again she was sprawled in a bed unsure of what had happened. Three women surrounded her, chatting nervously. There was a white sheet around her. Suddenly Merope felt the stabbing pain again.
“Oh no,” One whispered to the other before rushing off. Merope’s face was growing paler by the minute. She closed her eyes breathing heavily.
The last thing she heard was a child’s cry.
That 31st of December, a baby was born. He was named Tom Marvolo Riddle.