A Harry Potter prequel. My idea of why the Dark Lord was as 'evil', with a bit of a twist :)
The Remorseful Tale of Tom Marvolo Riddle
The intriguing old man stood before the line of nervous first years and observed them through his half moon spectacles with twinkling eyes. It was the same man who’d visited me at the home, the one who called himself a professor. He began to read out the list of names, and one by one the children approached the hat, and were sorted into houses that most knew nothing about. They dispersed to their various tables, until only a few remained. The man called out the penultimate name.
I felt hundreds of eyes on me, as I walked slowly up to the stool, sat upon it and had the Sorting Hat placed upon my head.
“Hmmm, interesting. Very interesting.” I started, as the hat began to speak to me, voicing it’s thoughts on my character. Judging me.
“Plenty of courage I see, not a bad mind either, There’s talent, oh yes, and a thirst to prove yourself…but where to put you?”
The hat paused, as though waiting for a response, then seemed to realise I had no opinion to offer it.
“You could be great you know…it’s all here in your head…” I doubted that.
Some are born great. I was born in an orphanage and brought up amongst people who didn’t like me, didn’t want me, and certainly didn’t consider me great.
Some achieve greatness. How I could achieve anything, when no one notices me? I’m just Tom. Just Tom.
“Slytherin could help you on the way to greatness, no doubt about that…”
…some have greatness thrust upon them…
The table at the far end of the vast hall began to cheer, and I was welcomed onto the table. People shook my hand, and asked my name. For the first time, I felt…wanted?
Amid the congratulations I glanced back to the front to see the last pupil be sorted.
I watched her briefly, the girl with whom I’d spoken on the train, the first person to voluntarily speak to me in my entire existence. She wasn’t generically attractive, her dark hair in bunches, a pale complexion, and glasses, but she seemed to hold an inner beauty. As she was sorted and approached the Ravenclaw table, she did not receive as large a welcome as I had done, but a few older students turned to her and asked her name. She caught me watching her as she responded in a timid manner.
“Myrtle” she said. “My name’s Myrtle”.
I learnt a lot in my first few days at Hogwarts. Most importantly, family and status is everything. Slight problem there – I know nothing about my parents. But of course, everyone is curious about their fellow pupils, and questions are asked. So the way I think of it, it’s not lying. It’s just telling a different truth…
“Yes. Of course I’m pure blood”
This one sentence kept me ‘in’ with the rest of them, meaning I wasn’t shunned. But there were more questions I had to avoid, ones I had to invent answers to. The ‘me’ they knew was different to the one I had been, different to that lonely little child. Yet it still wasn’t the real me, it was a me based on exaggerations and fantasies. Only one person knew the truth.
I hadn’t spoken to her since the train journey, but in Charms class when we were told to pair up, I somehow ended up with her. She seemed quite shy, but keen to talk to me, and eventually conversation started up. She asked about my childhood and for some reason I was unable to tell her the story I told the others, and my past spilled out. She was able to sympathise with the loneliness I felt. She too had grown up amongst Muggles, and was taunted for being different, just like me.
We became good friends after that, meeting in the grounds after dinner, occasionally pairing up in lessons. We had a connection, we had both grown up with no one, and now we had each other. And that was all we needed. For the time being.
Our relationship blossomed, and so did I. As much of my time as I could spare, I spent with Myrtle. She was my closest friend, and the only one I felt truly comfortable with. But others in my year soon began to want to spend time with me too. They were impressed by my confidence, which grew daily, my wit, and charming manner. The teachers liked me too, as I was naturally clever. I was good at all my subjects, but where I particularly excelled was Defence Against the Dark Arts.
I found that I easily learnt any defensive spell, and soon moved on to exploring other parts of the Dark Arts. The subject fascinated me, and my fascination grew with time. I knew of course, that I could talk to snakes, but I was soon to discover this was a rare talent, associated with none other than the founder of my house, Salazar Slytherin himself. My classmates began to call me the Heir of Slytherin, as I entertained them with my skills, and bewitched them with the ease I had communicating with the creatures. A popular amusement in the Slytherin common room was for me to summon a serpent, and proceed to use it to scare some of the weaker students. As I was egged on by my classmates, the more I was drawn in to the group, and it became almost tribal the way they looked up to me with my dark magic. Of course, one person was not impressed by my passion.
“You’re becoming obsessed!” Myrtle accused, in one of our stolen moments after class. I had begun to neglect her, choosing to spend time instead in the library scouring through thick volumes of dark magic. I rejected her claim.
“I’m just doing some extra work for class, that’s all!”
“For class?!” she grabbed the book off me, “I doubt even Professor Merrythought deals with this stuff! ’10 Steps To Immortality’?! What are you thinking of?!”
“You wouldn’t understand!” I yelled in reply.
“You’re right! I wouldn’t understand why you’d want to be alone with your precious books, when you have friends who want to spend time with you! I wouldn’t understand because you are my only friend, and you never want to spend time with me any more!”
She stormed off, and I watched her as she ran down the corridor and into the bathroom. A dormmate of Myrtle’s, Olive Hornby, sniggered as she passed.
“I swear she spends more time in that bathroom than anywhere else! Always crying her eyes out she is! Moaning Myrtle! Ha!”
“Don’t you call her that!” I shouted. “She’s my friend!”. Olive smirked and walked off, leaving alone with my regret.
I made it up to Myrtle at the first opportunity. I told her I’d always put her first. And I promised myself, I’d never hurt her again.
I made an effort over the next few months to split my time between Myrtle and my other…hobbies…but it was difficult. As we grew older, everyone seemed to get more dependent upon me. Not only did Myrtle seem to require more of my time, others also seemed to need me, for assistance with absolutely everything. But I coped.
The year drew to a close, and I dreaded going back to the orphanage where I grew up. When I returned it was as bad as I’d feared, although the rest of the children now stayed away from me. I kept away from them as much as possible, spending my time in the local village, doing research into my family. I learnt about my father, and I discovered the worst…he was a Muggle. The thought of it disgusted me. That my blood should be tainted with his! It was terrible. I put it out of my mind, the only way I could cope with the knowledge. The problem was that it worked both ways. Whilst I began to further despise my father for the fact he was a Muggle, I began to grow an irrational hatred of Muggles too, through association with that lowlife.
It didn’t help when I went back to school. Most of my friends were under the impression I was from a pure blood family, that I spent my holidays in a mansion, with house elf servants and the like. And now not only did I have people from my year in my group of friends, other, younger students began to join us. They looked up to me, respected me, to an extent even worshipped me. One new student in particular devoted her full attention to me.
She was a pretty little thing, with chaotic black curls framing her thin, pale face. Her dark eyes were penetrating, and she had a way of staring at me that made me feel the need to divulge all of my secrets. We became close, and I confided in her the information about my father, on the promise that she wouldn’t tell anyone else. She agreed with my every word, and swore that everything I told her would be an absolute secret. I didn’t doubt this, she was loyal to me, and only to me. It was like having a pet, someone who followed me everywhere, and clung on my every word. Not that I wasn’t pleased with the attention; I loved having people to talk to after the lonely weeks spent in the orphanage. But this girl became devoted, to the point of obsession. She wanted to spend all of her time with me, and hated for me to be around anyone else. This, of course, made it rather difficult to be with Myrtle.
The next time I saw Myrtle she was in the corridor, alone. Even from a distance I could see the tears rolling down her face.
“Myrtle!” I called out. “I’m so sorry, I’ve been abandoning you. You know I want to be with you really, it’s just…”
“You’re too busy. Hanging out with your pure blood friends” she filled in bitterly.
“That’s not true! Myrtle, I’m not going to desert you anymore, I’ll make time for you, I’ll…” I drifted off.
We stood in awkward silence for a moment, until another figure came round the corner and interrupted us. One of the ‘pure blood friends’ Myrtle had been referring to only moments before. Of course, it was just my luck that it was the female friend…
“Tommy!! There you are! You’ve had me worried!”
“Ah…” I hesitated, “Bella…”
“Bella?! Bellatrix Black?!” Myrtle demanded.
“Who do you think you are?” asked Bellatrix, haughtily. She turned to me instead, “Tom, come with me. You don’t want to be with HER. SHE’s a Mudblood”.
The words stung, and they hurt me as much as they hurt Myrtle. That Bellatrix would use my dislike of Muggles, of Muggleborns, to turn me against my first friend, was unbelievable. And yet, it couldn’t help but be effective. I was rendered speechless, at the reminder that the one I was closest to was also part of the group I most despised. I tried to formulate words in my head, but couldn’t think. Myrtle was shooting Bella poisonous, envious looks, and they were being returned with mutual hate and disgust. Bella grabbed my arm, regardless of my protests. I looked back, to apologise to Myrtle, to try and save something of our relationship. But it was too late. She was gone.
It was my penultimate year at Hogwarts. Everything had changed since that eventful night. Myrtle no longer spoke to me. Bellatrix continued to devote herself to me. Bella followed me everywhere, and in my helpless need for a confidante, I told her everything I knew, about the Dark Arts, Black Magic. She learnt well, and thrived on the new information. She even began to learn Parseltounge.
It was Bellatrix who was with me when I finally discovered what generations of wizards had failed to unearth – The Chamber of Secrets. The more time I spent in there the more I changed, became part of the legend, part of history. My mind became focussed on killing Mudbloods, on seeking revenge for my ancestor. I began to go insane with it all. Some moments I didn’t know what I was doing, or where I was. The only thing that kept me relatively stable was the knowledge that I could see Myrtle’s face, every day.
Though we never spoke, I often spent time in the Great Hall looking across to her table. But she never looked back at me. She seemed lonelier than ever, no one spoke to her, no one smiled at her. Other students even went to the extent of taunting her, making fun of her, forcing her to spend even more time shut away on her own. I spent my time longing to be with her, staring after her, wishing she would come back to me. And Bella hated this.
It was 13thJune, 1943. Dinnertime. I sat in the Great Hall, alone for once. For some reason, Bellatrix was not there. The other notable absence was Myrtle.
I was worried. Too concerned to eat, I left the table, and went in search of them. I was unsure where to begin. But then I heard noises. Noises in the wall. I followed them, fearing the worst. I already knew where it was headed. The first floor girls’ bathroom.
I heard a cubicle door bang. I saw Bella whip round into the bathroom. I heard a slithering noise. My mouth went dry. I turned the corner.
“Bella, what are you doing?!” I hissed in horror, as I saw her, standing before the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets. She smiled sweetly at me as she chanted the words I had taught her, to summon the monster within. I froze. Shocked. Horrified.
“Who’s there?!” came a voice from a cubicle. I recognised the voice, it was very familiar to me, though I hadn’t been in conversation with it for years.
The door creaked, and she came out, directly facing the entrance, just as the giant snake emerged from its lair.
The yellow eyes pierced her. Everything went still for a moment, and then she fell. Fell backwards. She hit the floor, and then was still.
Despair and shock washed through me, and I came to life.
“You’ve killed her.” I whispered, staring at her motionless body.
“She was getting in the way” Bellatrix retorted.
“You’ve killed her!”
“She was just a Mudblood!”
“NOT TO ME SHE WASN’T! GET OUT! GET OUT, NOW!”
Bellatrix rushed out, leaving me alone with the body.
I knelt beside her, and the pain filled me. I felt sorrow.
My tears fell, over the body of Myrtle, the only girl I’d ever loved.
I held her lifeless corpse in my hands.
And felt my soul rip into pieces.
It is my final year at Hogwarts. In the past few months, I have lost the one I loved. I have killed the ones I hated. I’ve gained followers I don’t trust. And I believe I’ve lost my mind.
Nothing is the same now. I don’t feel right inside. I had to let go of all my feelings, and now I’m void of emotion.
I tied up the loose ends. Someone else got the blame for her death. I know it’s not right, but I’ve got to the stage where I’m numb all over. I don’t care for anyone else. The only one who mattered is gone.
I’m a different person now. I’ve changed. Nothing remains, but this, the account of when I loved, and lost. So I’m leaving it behind, with a piece of my soul cased within it. One day I hope I will remember what it felt like to love, to have feeling.
I hope she remembers me. I hope she knows I love her. I hope she still loves me too.
Myrtle, after all I’ve done, I hope you know, my soul, my heart, myself.
They all belong to you.