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Chapter 1 : Prologue
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Lovely chapter image by visenya. at tda!
Tom—he used to say that should I ever need help with decisions, I should write down facts—first simple ones and then more troublesome ones, and then finally conclude my verdict. I sit down upon layers of worn, patched quilts and trace the seams along dull squares, as if the scrappy cloth could possibly relieve my desperate fight for air.
Dark street lights filter through the window, setting ablaze gray dust speckles—setting ablaze my mistrust. Shaking hands and trembling fingers scribble out fact number one. I clench the side of the paper, ignoring the scarlet blood bathing the white.
1. I am Sierre Mary Gaunt. See-are Ma-ree Gaunt.
“You mustn’t call yourself a Riddle, Sierre.” Wide, scared eyes peer into mine, and nails dig into my shoulder as he pulls me close to him, his protective hands covering my ears from the ceaseless jeering. “You’re a Gaunt. I’m a Gaunt.”
His voice is angry.
The others are angrier.
2. Tom is the only one who has ever loved me. He will shelter me. He knows best, does he not?
Hasty, accidentally rough hands shove me out the first-story window and into the unforgiving dirt clods, of which were sprouting red roses. Thorns claw at my flesh, dragging pink scratches across my arm. “Ouch!” I protest silently as one splits the skin above my lip. Warm blood trickles into my mouth, and I taste ruby salt.
“Shh!” He is petrified. “They’re coming for us. They’re sending us to a mental ward, just like they keep telling us. You’ve got to hide.” One leg is thrown over the window frame in a rushed effort to join me. I tug at his thin ankle.
“Hurry!” I cry. I hear footsteps increasing in volume. Then the booming feet stop right outside our door.
His fright is apparent—all flaring nostrils and dilated pupils and expanding chest and cracked lips. “I can’t join you,” he whispers, removing his leg.”Stay hidden.” A few seconds later, he’s gone.
My mouth opens to howl, but I’m stopped by the sound of a door opening. Backing myself into the cement barrier between us, I instinctively tilt my head, lifting my right ear to the pane. I listen.
“I’m not mad.” Tom protests firmly. All hints of terror in his voice are gone. I cheer for him inwardly, my mouth curving up into a smile despite the sting of facial cuts. How clever Tom is! If they can’t prove him barmy, they can’t take him away. They can’t!
“No. Hogwarts is a school. A school of magic.” My head reels. “You can do things, can’t you, Tom? Things other children can’t.”
A million memories explode in my mind: Tom glaring at Ben Reddison as he flies backward into the dilapidated walls, my half-eaten lollipop wrenched from his hands and landing in mine again, the Smith twins pushing me into the mud and then suddenly screaming, their arms and legs and faces covered with green grasshoppers, Mrs. Idina leaving hurriedly, her face pale and drained of color, a day after she struck me during math for forgetting my multiplication tables..
“I can make things move without touching them. I can make animals do what I want without training them. I can make bad things happen to people who are mean to me and my...I mean, I can make them hurt, if I want.” I hear him cover his slip quickly. He’s excited. He almost gave me away. But he didn’t.
I cover my ears and rock back and forth. They’re mad, they’re mad, they’re mad! Magic. They should be the ones locked up, not us! I scream out profanities in my head. A rose wilts and turns ebony next to me. I stare at it and slowly remove my hands.
And then: “Will Gaunts be allowed to join Hogwarts, sir?” His manner has shifted. He is guarded, cautious. Nervous. I bite my tongue.
“Unfortunately not, Tom Riddle. Our headmaster, Armando Dippet, is..most impartial to Marvolo Gaunt and his..descendants. An old argument, it was.” The deep, resounding voice ricochets in my eardrums before finally processing in my mind.
Tom “Riddle” is leaving me.
"Tom!” I shout out, delighted in the summer breeze and blue skies and the promise of getting away from this awful orphanage with all its creaky floorboards and lumpy bowls of porridge and torn, disrespected books and an absent bed with an absent brother. “Tom!” I run at him, dark brown hair flying everywhere—in my mouth, my eyes, my nose.
“Sierre.” He smiles, but his eyes remain heavy with burden. I slow down.
“What’s wrong?” I don’t completely make it into his arms. Instead, I stand a few feet away. “Tom.” I repeat. He can’t meet my eyes.
“You can’t come to school this year either.” He finally spits out. “There’s a basilisk running wild there. It’s killing some people. It’s too dangerous.”
“What?” I whisper, disbelieving.
“I’m sorry.” He turns away. “I have to go back. I need to help them.”
That summer, I received no magical lessons. I learned no more magical terms. No owls flew in delivering letters. My wand, of which Tom had sneakily bought for me, collected dust in my box of precious things.
I was on my own.
He never liked returning anyway.
4. My mother is dead. My father abandoned her. He is somewhere on the face of this planet, sitting on a plush, gold-engraved loveseat with a beautiful, wealthy woman, of whom he has a created a new brood of aristocratic gentlemen and charming ladies. He is sipping tea from porcelain cups and nibbling on butter cookies placed on delicate china. He has left us to rot in this filthy Muggle orphanage. He does not feel obliged to come back.
“Tom? What are you doing here?” My whisper is beyond deafening in the still quietness of winter air leaking in through the cracked window. His dark figure whips around at an alarmingly swift velocity, muscles tense and ready to spring, but then he relaxes, shoulders dropping down in obvious relief. A pastel hand conceals something in his muddy coat, but even with fabric across its knotted outline, I know what it is. I know what he has done.
“Sierre.” He responds calmly. I can see through him. I’ve always been able to. There has always been some telltale sign in his face that told me the truth—always some apprehensive wrinkle when he squinted, some hidden smirk on his strawberry lips, some pulsing twitch in his left eye as his voice began to raise—something. Something always amiss.
“Tom,” I say again. My throat contracts. I force out the words, force out the lie. “I want to talk. I’ve missed you. You’ve been gone for so long..oh, can’t we spend some time together, Tom? Please?”
“Of course.” He wants to distract me. Silhouettes jump as he walks towards the bed and warms my arms.
“Tell me about mother.” I murmur, feeling cold vines wrestle within my chest to gain control over my heartbeat.”Tell me her story. And tell me about father.”
He stiffens, and the bands of muscle in his arm quiver with suppressed rage.
“Don’t you worry about him, Sierre,” Tom breathes. Mist swirls around his face and disappears into the night sky. “Where he is now, he won’t ever return.”
And I do not doubt him.
5. Tom would never lie to me.
“What’s that?” I lean on the flattened pillows, crossing my arms and grabbing fistfuls of patched blankets. My legs push me upright underneath the covers before settling into a criss-cross-applesauce position. I lift my chin up in teenage defiance, expecting some vague remark. He stills and then turns slowly. From his fingers dangles tantalizingly a gold chain and a swinging pendant.
“This?” He asks. His lips curl up in a sly smile, as if manifesting a little inside joke.
“Yes.” I keep one eye on him and another on the striking green markings on the locket.”It’s very beautiful.” I can’t resist relaying my thoughts.
“Yeah?” The coyness is replaced with thoughtfulness. He seems to be mulling something over.
“Yes.” I say again, giving up on the conversation. I begin to turn away in order to sink back into the warm comforts of sleep interrupted by his loud rustling of packages.
“It’s yours.” Tom declares suddenly. I roll back around, nearly falling off the cot in enthusiasm.
“Really?” I squeal. He grins, nodding victoriously. I examine the emeralds embedded in it and see the “S” the jewels spell out. “What does it stand for?” I ask curiously, my eyes glued on his gift and not paying any mind to the thinking pause between us.
I should’ve paid attention.
“’S’ for Sierre.” Tom smirks.
I’m an idiot.
I suck air in and out of my lungs, feeling the immense pressure of Salazar Slytherin’s heirloom on my neck. I force my hands to scribble out one more fact—the truth of all truths.
6. All those facts are lies.
I scramble up, pushing away the covers vehemently. I spin around the room, looking for anything I should want to bring with me.
They all smack of his presence.
I clap an icy hand to my burning forehead, telling myself to calm down; I have to calm down, I have to calm down—
Newspaper headlines shriek out panic and chaos.
“Lord Voldemort,” I whisper to myself, cold sweat coming down in diamond beads, rolling down my back, stinging my eyes, gathering in my mouth..
I grab necessicites—spare clothes, my coat, my wand, my favorite book—Temps se Déplace, my diary. I throw them into a cramped bag, not even bothering to pack neatly, and I tear out the door before stopping abruptly.
He’ll find me if I pull the classic “running away from home” move.
I laugh, soft giggles building up to hysteria.
“Tom is clever,” I wheeze out between gleeful hoots, tears of mirth squeezing past my eyelids and spilling to the rich earth. “But I’m more so.” I grab the timeturner.
I let it spin off the charts.
“It must be very handy,” I hum after he explains the logistics. I, with my childish innocence, watch him with admiration as he takes it out of his luggage. “Where’d you get it?” My eyes follow the trickling of sand between the hourglass.
“Never use it for something more than five hours, Sierre.” The dark eyes are serious and forbidding. He ignores my question.
“Why?” I ignore him ignoring my inquiry.
I trusted him with every whim.
“It’ll hurt you.” He had said.
That is true, but I do not care.
“Take me away from here,” I whisper to the peculiarly clear, evening sky. I murmur to the lazily blinking stars. “Take me away from here.”
I leave my necklace in the dirt for him to find.
I would love to extend a huge thank you to my editor, xBleedGreen! She has been amazing and is officially cooler than pizookie and firebolts. And smarter than google and Mary Poppins. Combined. She will be helping me edit this story as it continues, so huge rounds of applause/complimentary reviews for her will be well-deserved and a great way to showcase gratification. :)
Readers--feel free to review and critique! This entire prologue is probably monumentally confusing, but it will definitely clear up as "Classic" continues. Until then, read onwards!
Lots of love,
Credit: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. David Yates. Heyday Films. Warner Bros. Perf. Christian Coulson. Frank Dillane. Hero Fiennes-Tiffin.
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