Chapter 1 : Tom Riddle
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It had all been so very easy.
Tom Riddle walked through the drizzling rain, his thoughts preoccupied, his footsteps quick. A sense of vindication and elation flowed through his veins, making his blood run hot so that he hardly felt the cold water trickling down the back of his neck under his collar. He tapped his fingers against his wrist as he passed grey, run down shops, the sensation of success making him dizzy, even though it was a familiar feeling. For once, he let himself run unchecked; he deserved this.
He had never felt more out of control.
Tom climbed the stone steps of the orphanage, the words repeating disbelievingly in his head; they were gone, gone, gone. He was finally done with them. His… family. His lip curled upward at the word. He didn’t need a family. What could they possibly give him that he could not give himself? As he walked into the building, head high, chest out, he was greeted by the screams and shouts of the other children, the wet weather forcing them to stay indoors. They didn’t approach him, of course, hardly even looked him in the eye. They slipped into the next room with their silly games, as if they were water down the scales of a snake; trickling quietly away from him, without him caring enough to notice.
They had learnt their lesson a long time ago.
Once upstairs in his room, he sat on his bed and absentmindedly ran a finger over the black stone of the ring, thinking of his maternal uncle. His stomach turned with hatred and disgust at the memory of Morfin. That filthy, drunk excuse for a wizard. A descendant of Salazar Slytherin was supposed to be proud. Morfin carried a great honour and privilege in his veins, yet he was dirty and barbaric.
At least he had been good for one thing. Well, two, Tom corrected himself, twirling the ring around his finger. Once they had been brought to his attention, the Riddles had been all too easy to find; their house on the hill was visible for miles. It was almost as if they were proud of what they were, living in their mansion like royalty.
They were not royalty.
He was royalty.
When they fell, one by one, he had taken in a deep breath. It was as if every breath he had taken before then had been preparing for this one. Finally, he was an orphan for real, and how freeing it felt. Finally, there was no untainted blood between him and Slytherin; a pure, direct line. Finally, he was alone, as he had always been.
He thought, not for the first time, of the Basilisk, down in Slytherin’s Chamber. A kind of longing pulled at his insides, followed quickly by anger. It had all been going exactly to plan, perfectly executed - as all of his ideas were - apart from the minor setback of a few petrifications. He looked around his room again, and loosened his grip. It was here or Hogwarts; there had been no choice.
He glanced at the calendar on the wall, sitting above his small collection of animal bones. There were only five days before he returned to school. He thought of what he would accomplish this year.
Slytherin House, if not the entire school, was already his. Spells mastered, potions memorised, respect of students, trust of teachers. All in the palm of his hand. He’d even conquered the Killing Curse; had he not just proven it, less than an hour ago, on his father and grandparents?
What was left to do for one so powerful?
There was so much he wanted to do, planned to do. Though he had searched through endless books for spells and potions with the particular effects he wanted, he hadn’t found anything even close to suit his needs. But he was not disappointed by this setback.
He would create his own magic.
If no one had the ability to design what he needed, he would simply make it himself. Enthralled by his ideas, he picked up one of the bones and held it in his palm. This - this tiny smooth object - was all that remained of a life. Once flesh and muscle and blood had been stripped away, this was all that remained. Lightning flashed through the sky, throwing the shadow of the tree outside across the floor. The little skull in his hand had once possessed an energy of its own; should something that was once alive be so fragile?
He stroked the smooth bone with a long finger. Every living thing looked like this underneath its life. Even humans. But not him. He shuddered at the thought, his hand closing over the bone. No one would ever see him like this, because he would never die.
Death was so final, and he was not finished yet.
He returned the bone to the windowsill, where it sat in a straight line with the others; they served as a reminder that only the weak and unworthy were victims of death.
Lightning lit the evening sky again as he sat back down on the bed, transferring a large book from under it into his lap. He ran his hand over it as he studied the cover. Black, dusty apart from where his fingers left thin trails. The dark tracks were like him: a stark mark in the dust of history. He flicked through the thin pages of the old book, coming to a stop at a page on Salazar. He traced Slytherin’s name, vowing aloud and in Parseltongue that he would be just as great. There was only up from here. There had only ever been that direction. Onward and upward.
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