Butterfly Effect

I. Mariposa


They say a flap of a butterfly's wings can cause a hurricane on the other side of the world. In other words, one small difference can change some major event.

Did I believe it?

No. I didn't. Not until the day I died.

Or maybe I didn't. Nevertheless, the shock of finding myself living and breathing in the air of the forest instead of the polluted air of a city nearly killed me. I had a serious thing about dirt and anything filthy. However, it was nothing compared to how shocked I was when I found that I'd been thrown back into the start of the nineteenth century when I was supposed to be in the 21st century.

Going from a mansion in the 21st century to this shack—wooden houses still exist?—was very hard to adjust to, and, honestly speaking, there are still days when I feel as if I should be waking up any moment now from this—shy a few steps of nightmare—dream.

Because it is. Abilities such as this—a wave of the hand holding a carved sticks and objects fly into your hand, conjuring something out of thin air, creating something from nothing, changing a cup into a bowl. A jab of the stick and fires danced even without wood or any other movement. Shattered glass flying into its original place with a wave of the stick.

Funny. The woman who held me, who showed me these things, said that it's magic. I've seen, read and heard of it before, prior to my death. But it's ridiculous and—I'd like to say impossible but since I'm here already...

Magic; being reincarnated into the world of Harry Potter I mean.

I've read many books pertaining magic but the words uttered when spells were cast by the woman was only familiar to me because I've heard it from the Harry Potter series before. But there's a large chance I might be wrong because this world was drastically different. There was no stories about Harry Potter or the Dark Lord Voldemort.

Or, perhaps, the difference is in the time.

Nevertheless, I knew I'd be involved with the magical world. No, not one of those rich purebloods. But the pureblood part?

I was born into the House of Gaunt on the 1st of July; Mariposa Gaunt, youngest daughter of Marvolo and Muriel Gaunt, younger sister of Morfin and Merope Gaunt.


And, this, only I knew of for now: Aunt of Lord Voldemort.



How's life, you ask?

Not bad, but not good either.

Merope and Mother doted on me, constantly. Father concentrated more on Morfin who was older than me by five or six years. Merope was small for her age so, whether she might be older than Morfin or younger, I had no idea.

Father paid little attention to his daughters; he only bothered to criticize our looks and skills, then he'd lecture about our ancestry to the famed Salazar Slytherin—it was a never-ending routine: go out, come back, rant about his poverty, yell at us girls, praise Salazar Slytherin and Cadmus Peverell and repeat. It was a boring and mundane activity.

Merope, unsurprisingly, was terrified of Father and often dropped whatever she was holding whenever he was around—it would only result in another bout of yelling that often left Merope in tears. Mother—with mounting distaste I noted that—she just stood aside and let it happen, watching with a detached sort of attention because, no matter how much she loved her daughters, she had no courage or guts to go against her violent and abusive husband. I knew I was being a fucking hypocrite by criticizing her since I did nothing but watch as well. It was a damn shame; Mother, I reflected wistfully, could've made our lives magical if only she had stood up against the man who represented our nightmares.

The first five years of my life breezed by with the same mundane I had gotten used to. I was a very silent infant—and though I thought this would make me fly pass Father's radar, it didn't. He thought I was crippled and useless, he yelled at me the few times he caught me alone and with nothing to do, started to pick on his youngest daughter.

I was different from Merope. I was once the heiress of a rich enterprise—disrespect was not something I tolerated but in this new life and world, I simply must. It wasn't a matter of pride, it was a matter of survival. My past life made it hell for me. I was used to being waited on hand and foot and this change was drastic. After the first few incidents in the kitchen, Mother put a life-ban on me, deciding that I should only help her clean the house.

Father favored Morfin; Mother favored Merope; I? I had no one.

I was usually ignored by everyone else in the family—it was a good thing, I suppose, to not be on the receiving end of abuse, but I still felt lonely.

So, it was ever such a surprise when Father roared my name and ordered me to get my ass to wherever he was. Inhaling deeply before exhaling in a resigned way, I trudged to where he was; I had to constantly remind myself to control my temper, to not scream back at this form of abuse. It was terribly hard as both Father and I have very bad-tempers and are unceasingly stubborn.

Gritting my teeth at the sight of his sneering face, I shuffled closer, but not within hand-reach. "Yes?" I tried to keep my face blank, not to respond with a sneer that would only get me into trouble.

His bright brown eyes narrowed. "I still don't like your tone, little girl—talk like that when you've proven yourself worthy of our bloodline!"

It took me a few moments to register the use of Parseltongue, but I nodded. Reassured for whatever reason, Father threw me something that I fumbled to catch.

It was a stick—cedar wood, twelve inches and— I looked up, excited, happy, for once to be in my father's presence. "What core?"

He grunted, "Dragon heartstring."

"Thank you!"

I bounded off, ignoring Father's promise that, if I was an unworthy witch of our bloodline, he'd rip my head off my shoulders for being a waste of time and money. I was so excited, I tackled Merope into the wall.

In this bleak shack, before the birth of Voldemort, I managed, somehow.



The fantasy of living on as an ignorant child in a magical world and family was short-lived.

Mother died; I wasn't too sure of the date because days lived in the House of Gaunt were blurred and so mundane time blended into a blur of red, white and green of the seasons; it was as if every thing that happened was on the same day, but I was certain, judging from the autumn leaves falling, it was autumn.

I couldn't bring myself to cry, unlike Merope who burst into tears, sobbing over Mother's cold body. Father was in shock, I assumed so because he was eerily silent the whole day. For the first time since I could remember, Morfin and I actually spent some time together without screaming or fighting. He didn't talk to me or acknowledge me, just lumbered out of the house and into the tall grass, poking about for snakes I suppose.

He was short and had a stocky build for a... a—I can't tell.

"Morfin, how old are you?"

My older brother turned, sneering at me. "Ten," he hissed smugly. "Can't count, can you, Mari?"

"Surprising how much smarter I am than you are," I sniffed angrily, wishing that I could put him in his place without getting on Father's bad side. I was, evidently, more talented and skilled than Merope and for that, Father favored me more than her. Sometimes, he'd take me and Morfin (who'd always been allowed to tag along) out to the woods to duel. I dropped out of the argument when Morfin proceeded to insult me; I was above this and I would not sink to his level.

With a jolt, however, I realized that, soon, Morfin would receive his Hogwarts letter. I glanced up at the sky; hopefully, it'd come even though Morfin wouldn't want to go. It'd prove that Hogwarts wasn't ignoring the last of the Slytherins.

The difference was that: I wanted to go.

Twilight fell upon us, and Morfin, after failing to find any snakes to bully, turned and walked back home.

Odd, I thought, watching his back fading into the distance, covered by the tall grass that overshadowed him. How I'd come to think of that place as home. I wasn't feeling up to it, facing Merope's tears and Marvolo's stony silence. The former's reaction I expected and could understand, but I didn't know why Marvolo acted as this surprised him greatly. Either he worried that he didn't know how to feed himself or he actually loved his wife enough to grieve for her.

The fact that Father—of all people—could feel grief for Mother's death and I could not—

Frustrated, I stomped into the forest, intent on clearing my mind of all thoughts. I really don't—

I snarled, knowing but ignoring the tree branch that exploded into flames before dying out quickly. I plopped down on the tree stump, seething—why was I so angry? That the woman died, and thus, left us to the mercy of a violent father and deranged brother?

Ah... so this is the pain of being abandoned.

I blinked, looking up at the sky—sparkles dotted the night. My eyes burned.

A tree branch crunched loudly in the clearing; I scowled at the forest ground—why won't Morfin leave me alone? "Go away," I hissed in Parseltongue. But Morfin didn't leave—I should've expected, all of us had stubborn streaks in us—but when he rudely punched my shoulder, I whirled around, teeth gritted as I swung my fist, not bothering about consequences.

It wasn't until the boy cried out in pain that I realized I'd punch a complete stranger.

"Ah..." I glanced down into the bloody face of one Tom Riddle, son of the squire. "Uh-oh."

And, that—is how I met Voldemort's father.



I hated the snobbish asshole instantly. Not only did he run back home crying to his parents, he had tried to arrest my whole family—he was only appeased when I was made to clean his fucking stables—without pay.

Fucking arse—can't wait for his own son to AK (Avada Kedavra) him.

Seeing him running about with his servants trailing after him to clean up his mess reminded me that in ten years or so, Lord Voldemort will be born. My nephew will be born.

What do I do?

What will he do to me?

What can I do?

Raise him and teach him how to love? Possible, but there was one teeny, tiny flaw. I didn't know what love was. I couldn't answer it myself. Do I love Merope, Mother, Morfin and Father?

I didn't cry like Merope did when Mother died. Morfin didn't, either but at the end of the day, he was himself and I was me. But, I suppose, on some level, I cared about Merope. While I could easily foil her plan with the Amortentia and ensnaring Tom Riddle Sr., I fear I'd end up helping her instead of thwarting her because if it makes her happy, I'd go along with it.

Would I just stand by and let Morfin and Father rot away in Azkaban with no one to wait for them?

I don't understand love, but I understood loneliness—Merope can run with Tom Riddle Sr. and live a fairy tale for one short year, but I'd stay at the House of Gaunt, waiting for my brother and father.

I needed to be close to Merope, I needed her to trust me enough, to love me enough to live for me and her son—I don't know love, but she does, she can save the world.

There was one flaw: we weren't as close as I'd hoped.

My cowardice could be blamed. Whenever Father yelled at Merope for no reason at all, I'd always make myself scarce or, if I was there, I'd pretend I didn't see the pleading look she was giving me, a silent plea for help. I don't think she can hear the silent and mental chants of I'm sorry, I'm sorry I'm so sorry for being a coward but that's just who I am because she was no Legilimens and the mantra of I always come first would interfere even when I managed to unstuck my throat to speak.


I blinked, taken aback by the hand waving wildly in my face. I turned, a sneer curling my lips when I saw the snobbish little brat. Tom Riddle sneered back, arms crossed.

"You're supposed to be working," he said haughtily.

"Which I am," I snapped. If I kill him now, when Merope didn't even know who he was, maybe—

No. Even if Merope wouldn't know what she'd miss out on, I don't think I was ready to kill anyone, especially this arrogant child. I was an adult in mind, this body may be that of an eight-year-old, but the mind certainly wasn't. I had my own morals, from my last world, my last life and I don't kill.

I'm not a murderer and I don't think I was that cold-hearted yet.


A very large part of me wondered, briefly, why would I care about what happen in the future. It'd all happen—it'd turn out fine even without my interference, Harry Potter defeated Lord Voldemort, didn't he?

"Are you even listening? What is wrong with you?"

I pity them. Those people who'd die. Those who'd lose loved ones because of a man's cowardice to own up to his shame, because of a girl's delusions.

I grabbed the pail of water, well-aware that ten-year-old Tom Riddle was glaring at me for ignoring him.

I heaved a sigh.

"And I pity you."



"Why are you always coming here? I thought you'd have something better and noble to do. Go play with your rich and snobbish friends. Ignore this lowly tramp's daughter."

Tom Riddle did not budge. "Why do you keep coming here?" he demanded.

I stared at him in utter disbelief. "I thought I was serving my crime—don't worry, just another month and you'd never see my face again. Now, run along."

Riddle snorted. "You sound like you're older than me, hag."

"I am older than you," I said, lips curling into a sneer. "Bigger man do not taunt young girls. Your friends are calling."

"Liar, they aren't."

"My hearing is exceptional."

"What does—"

"It means great, very great."

Riddle arched a faintly impressed brow. "You know a lot of words," he remarked.

"Yes. Surprised?"

He nearly smiled— his lips curled in a faint impression of a smirk. "Yes, very much so." He tilted his head to the side contemplatively. "You surprised me, so let me return the favor—"

I snorted loudly. "I doubt anything you have to say will surprise me—"

"I don't have any friends."

I stopped, blinking, turning to him. "You don't?" I laughed—sharp, biting and cruel, a laugh meant to hurt. "I'm not surprised. With your attitude, who'd talk to you?"

Riddle scowled. "You do, my parents and servants do."

"We're different. Your parents speak to you because they are your family—I think I fit into the latter category. I'm a temporary servant, aren't I?"

There was a long silence; Riddle looked contemplating— he still looked like a snobbish kid, especially with those sparkling shoes, finely combed hair and ironed and high-quality clothes— and mildly disdainful as he looked at me and the stables. I was not surprised; I looked like I belonged in the stables with my ratty hair that had never been introduced to a comb this whole life, wild blue eyes and I was dressed in nothing but shorts and a thin shirt—I had valiantly gave the dresses Mother passed down to us to Merope.

Heck, even the horses looked better groomed than me.

Well, I suppose this was a good job on my part.

"Why do you keep coming back?"

I did not understand his question, but I wasn't about to give him the satisfaction that he'd stumped me. I kept my mouth shut, pressing my lips into a thin line.

"My dad wasn't serious, you know, when he said that he'd arrest your whole family." I looked at Riddle, feeling a ferocious snarl crawling up my face. "The authorities don't take away a father from children without another parent or relative to care for them."

"Then what am I even doing here?"

"I'll pay you," Riddle interjected instantly when I made to leave. "You're dirt poor, I know, I saw—from the state of your clothes. You'll know you need the money if you're smart."

I seethed. "I expect pay tomorrow morning."

"Sure," he said, shrugging. "I can afford nearly everything." His smug look lingered only for a few moments, dropping completely when he realized I wasn't even looking. "Don't ignore me!" He demanded angrily.

"I'm listening," I responded, irritated, but I suppose I was obligated to be nice if his family was going to pay me after all. "What do you want now, young Master?" I spat.

"Why are you in the forest the other day? They say it's full of snakes."

I snorted loudly. "Snakes don't bother me. I can talk to them."

"Really," Riddle sneered; evidently, he didn't believe me. "And you haven't answered my question."

"My mother died, I wanted to be alone."

"Oh, I'm sorry." He didn't sound sorry or the least bit sincere. I didn't sound very sad either so I suppose I can't complain. "Can I ask you another question? Assuming you won't start crying like an idiot."

"Go on," I said through gritted teeth, feeling my blunt nails digging into the flesh of my palm from the effort of restraining myself.

"What do you mean when you said you pitied me, the other day?"

"I meant what I said. Especially more when you said you have no friends."

"I'm above them!" Riddle snarled, startling me when he stomped his foot. "I'm better than them! I don't need to lower myself or beg them to be my friends!"

I nearly rolled my eyes as I bend to pick up the sponge. Why was I so surprised? Voldemort's attitude must have come from somewhere. If not his mother, then surely his father. No wonder they hated one another, they were too similar to co-exist peacefully.

"You don't have to lower yourself. Just grow up."



My shoulders were aching from a hard day's work. But that wasn't the only part of my body aching. My ears throbbed in pain. I snapped my fingers repeatedly in each ear to make sure they were working and heaved a sigh of relief when my hearing was still intact.

"Why did you have to bring her here?" I moaned, slumping down on the stacks of hay. Stack of hays. Whatever.

Riddle snickered. "Cecilia is the only one who'd talk to me." A pause. "Oh, other than you, I suppose." I had gotten too used to Riddle's haughty, sarcastic and smug tone to be really bothered. I had the suspicion he was waiting to see how I was going to tick and explode.

"Did she not hear from the other kids that you were an ass?"

Riddle was too used to my coarse language to be as shocked as he first heard me cussing when I dropped the heavy pail on my toes. "No," he said. "She just moved here. And she loves horses and since I have the largest stables and stocks of horses around..."

"She can be in Slytherin," I muttered under my breath.

"Oh, forget about her for a minutes—tell me, what's Slytherin or Salazar for the matter?"

I frowned at him. "Salazar Slytherin is a name."

"I can tell," Riddle said, rolling his eyes. "Who's he?"

"My ancestor—practically divine in our world."

"What world?" demanded Riddle. "And why didn't I come across his name when I read History books if he's oh so famous?"

I snickered. "Not in your world, no, he's not popular. I meant, my world."

"Your world of tramps and vagrants?"

"My world of wizards, ass."

Someone gasped, cutting short Riddle's answer before he could even start, and we turned to the entrance. Cecilia had returned and she had just dropped the bucket of pail she'd volunteered to fill for me —real charmer, that girl.

"Yeah, wizards."

"Gaunt's a little delusional, or insane, if you prefer to say," said Riddle hastily, shooting me a sharp look. "Ignore her—"

But Cecilia was squealing, bouncing on the soles of her feet toward me. I leaned away from her, not bothering to hide my disgust at her close proximity. I may be poor, but I still have honor— I despise Muggles like Father had always told me to, especially loud and squealing ones. They're only good for slaughtering but since such activities are not happening soon, I must put some distance between us. Riddle was tolerable because he was as equally disgusted with me and we used one another to polish our bull-shitting skills.

"Magic and pegasus and unicorns?" She asked, eyes wide.

I swallowed. "I'm not sure about pegasus but magic and unicorns? Yeah."

Riddle huffed, springing to his feet. "Come on, Cecilia— she's barking."

I smirked. "And I might be contagious."

"Crazy," said Riddle, shaking his head as he dragged a squirming Cecilia out of the stable. "Howling— the lot of them."



"You're bleeding!" gasped Merope when she saw me. She cast a quick look around the house— to make sure Father and Morfin wasn't around— before abandoning her spot at the kitchen and hurrying towards me. She took my arm, gingerly touching the wound. "What happened?" she asked as she led me to the kitchen table before leaving to find bandages. "I thought you were just going to clean their stables!"

I nodded. "Yeah," I said, wincing when Merope's fingers ghosted over the wound. "The horse kicked me."

"Why did you agitate it?" demanded Merope; in her big-sister mode, she was stern, unlike her meek self when faced with Father and Morfin.

"I did not," I said. "A Muggle-boy, Tom, did and I stepped in to save his life." I scowled. "Guess what I got in return? This bruise I can barely heal and a few stones to the face— they thought I tried to harm their precious little brat, can you believe them?"

"They're Muggles," said Merope uncertainly. "Ignore them."

I huffed, pouting and it prompted Merope to pat my hair— acting the body's age around her was well worth it because she simply couldn't resist my pout.

"What's for dinner tonight?" I asked, just to fill the silence.


A yell from outside interrupted Merope's answer. I saw her paling when she recognized our Father's voice. He was shouting in Parselmouth and, much to my horror, someone was yelling back at him in English.

I sprang to my feet, ignoring Merope's cries, and dashed to the door, throwing it open and gaping at the two shorter forms. "Riddle—Bloomsbury—what on earth!— Get away from here!"

Oh wonderful. I could see my Father's eyes narrowing on me. Not only did I talk to them in a less-than-hostile tone, I knew their names and I couldn't hide the panic and concern well behind my words. There went my hopes of staying in Father's good graces.

"Your father's insane!" Riddle yelled back. "And I'm not backing down!"

And we wonder why Voldemort was such an persistent ass.

"We just want to see you, Mariposa—" protested Cecilia, ignoring how my eyes flashed in warning.

"This filthy Muggles know your name?" roared Father in Parseltongue and I knew I was screwed.

"They him they don't," squeaked Merope helpfully.

I drew my wand and pointed it at Riddle. "Morsus!"

It was with tiny regret that I saw the older boy stagger, falling to his knees when welts and swells started on his skin. He needed to be drag away by a fearful Cecilia. I could not pity Riddle for long, not when my Father grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and dragged me back into the House of Gaunt.

Oh, boy.



I went back, body aching, to Riddle Manor the next night, under the cover of darkness— naturally, I did this once everyone was asleep of course; it was quite hard to disentangle myself from Merope's protective embrace without waking her up. I knew I wouldn't be welcomed at the front doors so I decided to sneak in.

It was with blind luck that the room I entered through the window belonged to Riddle.

I crept up to his bed, wincing when I saw his handsome and adorable face (for a ten-year-old) covered in red. I guess my wand was very powerful that way.

"Episkey," I whispered, pointing my wand at his face where the jinx had hit him point-blank. I couldn't see very well in the dark, but the swell seemed to have subsided. Nodding in satisfaction, I made to retreat but a hand snatched my wand away. I hissed, scrambling after it but Riddle, who was wide awake and way stronger, pushed me away.

I tumbled to the ground, hissing in pain. Let it never be said Father was lenient when it came to punishments. If he knew I snuck out to help this Muggle boy, I shudder to think of the consequences.

Riddle was watching me, but I couldn't see the expression on his face. I wasn't too worried when he held my wand, it wasn't like he could channel magic.

"Firstly," he said, he sounded as smug as ever, which meant that the incident had not shaken him too badly. "I will not offer you my thanks because it was you who inflicted this on me in the first place. Secondly, what on earth were you thinking?"

"May I have my wand back?"

"So that you can work your evilness again?" Riddle snorted. "I don't think so."

"If I lose it, my father will kill me—"

"I'll give it back to you once my questions are answered."

I sighed. This asshole can fit in with the Slytherins too. "Fine. What do you want to know?"

This time, I could detect what emotion he was feeling through his voice, breathless with excitement and wonder. "Magic is real?"

"Yes." No point hiding it.

"Why didn't anyone said anything?"

"Because Muggles don't know— wizards live in secret society. Muggles are people like you, people who can't use magic. Muggle-borns are kids who have Muggle parents and can use magic, you're not, so don't bother asking me if you can do magic too."

"Aw..." he whined. "Can't I somehow steal it?"

I snorted. "If you can steal it, there won't be any Squibs."

"Squibs?" he echoed.

"Look, we'll talk tomorrow, okay? I'm tired and if my father catches me out of bed— "

Riddle threw me my wand. "Promise?"

"Sure. I don't do promises, mind you, so you ought to appreciate it."


"Because making promises implies that we're friends or something."

Riddle looked up; I couldn't see his face and I couldn't imagine it.

"I thought we are."



As it turned out the next morning, I was not allowed to step foot out of the House while Father and Morfin were gone. I didn't know where they were going, but I suspect that they were responsible for the rumors about thieves on the road— it wasn't like I could confront them or stop them, if they stopped stealing, we'd starve to death.

I lolled about the house, pitching to help Merope when she couldn't lift something heavy; other than that, I just dozed off in the summer heat.

Someone knocked on the door, pulling me out of the lull of sleep. I blinked sleepily. "Who is it?" I called in English because if it was Father or Morfin, neither of them would've bothered knocking.

"It's us, Mari!"

I jumped to my feet, wide awake just as Merope poked her head in. Her face was pale and fearful as she looked at me. "Muggles?"

"Yep," I said, running to the door and throwing it open. I found Cecilia grinning down at me. She was a year older than me, being nine and way prettier than me or Merope. "Get out. What are you doing here?"

"To talk about magic," interjected Riddle.

Merope squeaked in fear, casting me another terrified look. "You told them?"

"Relax," I said, shrugging. "Even if they told anyone, who'd believe them? They'd be lock up in a nuthouse if they tried to tell the adults. You know how narrow-minded adults are."

"I'm Cecilia Bloomsbury," offered the noble girl, smiling hesitantly. It was with the promise of magic that we managed to coax her into the house. She didn't like dirty places and she obviously thought less of Merope and I when she saw where we lived. Only when Riddle gave her a stern look did she enter and sit on the lumpy sofa.

"My name is Riddle— Tom Riddle." He held out his hand to Merope, unlike when he first met met. "It's a pleasure to meet you."

"M-Merope Gaunt."

She took his hand, looking into his coca-colored eyes.

And she fell in love.



Tom was someone who inspired confidence. It was a good thing for Merope— on the other hand, she was falling for someone who'd never return her feelings. Riddle was an ass through and through, but I had a feeling Cecilia and Merope didn't know that he enjoyed kicking puppies and kittens (I'd seen him do it), agitate horses (the scar on my hand was proof) and demean others with his words (I was living proof).

Before the company of the two girls, he was polite, intelligent and everything a proper noble's son should be. I suspected that he suffered from multiple-personality disorder until he turned and kicked me, tripping me, when the others weren't looking.

I could see where Voldemort got his acting skills from. Had Riddle been a magical child before his son, I was sure he would be the one to be the Dark Lord.

Anyway, where was I?

Right, confidence.

Merope's Hogwarts letter arrived— I remembered the precise date to note down as Merope's birthday because Hogwarts letter arrived only when the recipient was of age. I saw Father tearing it to shreds before my big sister's eyes, I also saw her running into her room in tears when Father yelled at her to dash the dreams about attending Hogwarts because doing so would be betraying Salazar Slytherin.

Now, I've never met Salazar. But would he rather we learn useful magic to do him proud or live in poverty, clinging to old and forgotten dreams?

Surely, the former if he's anything like me.

Merope was so upset dinner that night and breakfast the next morning were rubbish. Fortunately, Father and Morfin didn't complain.

I was now a permanent worker at the Riddle's stables, and Tom Riddle and Cecilia Bloomsbury were my sort-of friends. Sometimes, once we'd memorized Father's schedule, they'd come and visit us at the shack where the four of us will talk and play, running around in the forest and searching for snakes to torment (Tom).

Anyway, I had just finished regulating this dramatic tale when Tom suggested this insane idea: we sneak Merope to Hogwarts.

"We've got no money," I said.

"Surely they've got loan for poor students," scoffed Riddle. "Are you in this or are you not?"

I chewed my lip. Now that he put it like that, it was sort of exciting. "Fine, I'm in."

Merope was hesitant even though Riddle and I were all for it. Cecilia promised to stay back and make up a lie (which she was very good at) for our absence tomorrow morning. We left three days before the day she was due for Hogwarts.

I knew the basics of horse-riding so I sat in front, promising to steer the horse with Merope in the middle in case she fell of the horse. I sincerely doubt Merope's face would ever be normal again with how red she was that night when Tom held onto to her so that he wouldn't fall.

"Where do we go from here?" Riddle asked, breathless as we entered the streets of London.

I frowned in thought. "Did the letter say?"

Merope shook her head. "No, but I think we'll know when we see it."

"Can't we rest?" I asked. "We've been riding for two whole nights!"

"We just ate!"

"I meant stopping for sleep!" I snarled back at Riddle.

"Is that it?" Merope interjected, just to stop our argument, I expect. "That man was holding a wand."

"I'm very sore," complained Riddle. "Let's walk and ask around, see what they have to say, OK?"

Merope nodded— she would deny nothing of Tom— and slid of the horse back. I glanced down. "I'll stay up."

"That's not fair," said Riddle.

"You were the one who wanted to dismount!"

"Guys— sparks!— it is the doing of magic, come on!" Merope ran off, leaving us with little choice to run after her. I dismounted, grabbing the horse's reins and pulling him after Tom and Merope.

"Stay," said Riddle to the horse, tying his reins to the handle bar before ducking into the Leaky Cauldron. I followed quickly. The barman introduced us to Diagon Alley but since it was nightfall, we wouldn't be able to buy anything. Tom the barman was nice enough to let us stay a night for free (since he doesn't accept Muggle money).

Merope sighed happily from where she was curled up against me. Riddle was in another room since boys and girls don't mix.

"I'm so glad I have you and Tom," she said.

"What about Ceci?"

"Her too, of course," said Merope even though I could hear the embarrassment in her voice. "Thank you, for helping me. I've always dreamed of going to Hogwarts ever since I heard our ancestor built it."

"That's what family's for," I said.

"Love you," she said.

I stiffened. "Yeah, me too."

There was a long silence where neither of us were quite willing to sleep yet. Merope broke the silence first: "I wonder if all Toms are this nice."

I rolled my eyes.

Your son wouldn't be this nice.



Dear Mariposa,

I hope you're doing well there and that Father did not punish you too badly, I hope you can manage yourself. I'm very happy here and I have a lot to fill you in on. There's the Sorting and the teachers and the students. All of them are nice, but the Slytherins aren't very nice.

It was ever such a surprise, y'know, when I was Sorted into Hufflepuff. I asked the Hat if you'd be Sorted into my house too, but it said that you're more of a Gryffindor- strange, isn't it, that we're not in Slytherin even though we're his direct descendant?

I guess people change- or it's because of the choices we made.

I don't know, but all I know is that I'm going to enjoy myself as I happily await your turn to study at Hogwarts.

Send my love to Tom and Cecilia- and I suppose, to Father and Morfin since this is appropriate.

Love, your sister, Merope


Dear Mariposa,

I sincerely hoped you are not mad at me for not coming home for Christmas and Easter holidays, but I'm working part-time, to earn money like you are. Don't think the Muggle money is useless, we learned that we can exchange money at Gringotts, right? I'm saving up for the time you'll be coming to Hogwarts- it's painful being teased for wearing worn second-hand robes and books and I hope you won't go through that so I've gotten myself a job at the Leaky Cauldron.

Tom the barman is very nice to me.

Ah, how am I, you ask?

I'm happy, Mari, very much so. Hogwarts is the best thing to happen to me- second only to having you as my sister and meeting Tom and Cecilia.

Love, Merope


Dear Mariposa,

No words could describe how grateful I am to you. You- and Ceci because I recognize her handwriting- wrote to Headmaster Dippet, didn't you? To ensure I'd be able to stay at Hogwarts for summer? Thank you! I really appreciate it though I do wish I can see you, Tom and Ceci again.

One of these holidays, I promise, I'll come back to see you three.

Until then- wish me luck in my finals!

Love, Merope


From the meek little girl, she had changed— without Father to terrorize her, Merope had grown more confident in her skills and herself. Father did not know that Merope was Sorted into Hufflepuff— but something he didn't know wouldn't hurt him— and I'm not looking forward to start him on a fit again when he'd just calmed down about Merope running away.

I spent the whole month waiting for him to cool down in the forest and sneaking in to the villagers' house to sleep and eat. Father only let me back in with the promise that I'd cook him something edible to eat. He never did learn how to feed himself.

I wondered if Merope was still in love with Tom. Would she try to impress him with only her charms or would she rely on the Love Potion?

If it were me, I'd suggest the Imperius Curse.

Ah, well, we'd cross the hurdle when it comes to that.




"Yes," I said earnestly. "I can't wait to see Hogwarts and Merope!" I'd just received my Hogwarts letter— Father had actually passed it to me without screaming, but he didn't look at me either. I'd left the shack as soon as I'd seen it, rushing to share this good news with Cecilia and Tom.

Riddle, however, didn't seem too happy about this.

"Is something wrong?" I wondered. I smirked. "Oh-ho, jealous we're so special and you're so ordinary?" I taunted.

Riddle snorted. "You're special here. But at Hogwarts, you'd still be the newbie and completely ordinary."

I scowled. Damn him. He was right. As usual. I slumped down onto the grass beside him, grabbing a pebble and throwing it into the river. "What is wrong with you? I thought you'd be happy instead of this moody brat. And to think you've gotten better— have friends in the village now, hm?"

"Do you know what they think of me?"

"No. You know I could barely care any more less about them."

"They think I'm queer—"

"That's stupid—"

"Yeah, but that's not all. Another portion of the villagers said I was a womanizer," said Riddle vehemently, his right hand tearing grasses from the ground. "Just because my best friends areall girls— and I still don't know how that happened. The boys asked me and the only reason I could come up with is that the girls are all better than them."

I grinned. "So I'm your best friend, huh?"

"Don't be narcissistic, I didn't say it was you. Anyhow, that's not the worst of my problems. You know my mother?"

"Er... the lady who chased me away screaming like a banshee?"

"Yes," said Riddle, and he didn't sound happy; he ran a hand through his hair. I turned to look at him briefly, my elation at going to Hogwarts dimming slightly when I saw how dark his face was. Even though I didn't do anything to irk him, he was glaring at me as if I was the source of all his problems— yes, he was just that irrational and his attitude was one of the reasons why we argue about twice a month.

"Spit it out," I said.

"I'm to be betrothed to Cecilia— yeah, our Ceci, I'm not kidding— her family's rich and respectable— my mother thinks it's the perfect match since I hang out with her so much anyway."

I didn't see the problem— except the obvious: Merope would be heartbroken. I winced, starting to tear grasses up too; had Merope found a sweetheart at Hogwarts? Hopefully. My presence here had changed things— for the better or for worse, I had no idea.

I don't think I could see Merope die because Tom abandoned her. I hoped he'd change because we're actually friends now, compared to canon, and Merope was a human being— and despite Riddle's asshole of an attitude, he wasn't evil. Well, not entirely anyway. I still had the suspicion he threw puppies into the fire whenever he got his hands on one. I hadn't seen Ceci's puppy since it peed on his shoes.

"Well?" Riddle demanded. "Say something comforting a best friend should."

"Uh... congrats?"

"Don't you see the problem?" Riddle yelled, sitting up rather abruptly— his hair and clothes were all mussed up in a way that Ceci would squeal all over, but I doubt his mother would be happy if I knew her as well as I did— and I was struck by how much taller he was than me.

"Besides the obvious?" I demanded, irritated. "You're an insensitive prick and temperamental— good thing Ceci could see some good in there."

"I know," moaned Riddle, making my eyebrow twitch— and he says I'm narcissistic, he should look at himself. Oh, wait, he shouldn't. He'll get an even bigger head if he realizes how good-looking he is. "It's going to be so weird, having her look at me like that, going out on dates, trying to please her and kiss her even —yuck, but don't get me wrong, she's very pretty, it's just— it's weird when we used to climb trees and wrestle around on the ground, searching for trouble etc.— and we used to laugh at couples, not realizing that someday, when our childhood came to an end, we'd be settling down and caring for our families too."

"Not the marrying type, hm?"

"Nah," said Riddle, mussing his hair up even more. "Just for the right girl, maybe." He seemed more relaxed now that he'd ranted his speech. I thought he was thirsty and I was content to wallow in the silence because I was lost in thoughts too. The very notion of growing up... I look forward to remain eleven forever but even I know that's impossible. "Hey," said Riddle abruptly. "What do you think about growing up?"

I frowned. "Isn't that a question you should reserve for Ceci? I mean, you're going to marry her and have kids."

"Just answer me."

"I've never thought about it."

"So think about it now. Once you're done with Hogwarts, where are you going? Will you come back? What job are you going to get?"

"...Um, I'll be busy saving the world!"

"Ah, you want to be an Aurora?"

"Auror, you dolt."

"Whatever— so, being an Aura means fighting Grindedash and his gang, right?"

"Grindewald and his army of Dark Wizards, Riddle— you're hopeless," I corrected, scoffing and rolling my eyes.

"You're going to war," repeated Riddle, voice flat and disbelief. "Think properly before you leap, why don't you? What if you end up losing your life? We won't see you again and—"

"Why are you so bothered about the future?"

Riddle's fists clenched; his face darkening, and I could suddenly imagine him thirty years older. "Growing up... I think it means becoming weak— a prisoner to weakness." He noticed my quizzical look and elaborated, "It's not just about growing physically weak, either. We'll have to protect a lot of things once we're told the truth, we'll make choices— both right and wrong— and the choices will only grow limited... we'll be tethered to one thing, forever, all the responsibility I don't think I'll want to be saddled with... I've always been a free spirit, y'know?

Ah. I see, this guy isn't an idiot after all. Coming from me who'd died once, who'd outgrown childhood, I can say that he's right. One thing after another, responsibility after responsibility— wasting away in a competitive world where nothing stops to wait for you.

Riddle, even at thirteen, understood too, the meaning of the time flowing before us— the breeze toying with our hair and the river flowing to rejoin the sea was proof nothing's waiting, whether you chose to follow or remain is entirely up to you.

"I'm sure I'll grow up to be a man," said Riddle, his voice wistful. "A man who'd crave and yearn the days of his childhood in this small, isolated town— a paradise we once share."

"Running away won't solve anything, Riddle." Look at how your son turned out to be when you ran and left everything behind.

"I know, but—"

"You can retreat once in a while. Promise me, when things get too overbearing, you'd come back to this village and wait it out. But never run."

Riddle snorted softly. "You know me... I'm too whimsical. Someday, I'll forget that this promise was ever made."

"That's why this is the most pointless conversation I've ever had," I said, snorting. I stood, dusting the grass and dirt from my dress. "You don't have to be afraid— someday, you'll forget this fear like the arrogant jerk you are, you'll outstrip everything, even time if you want, right?"

I extended a hand for him to take. "Come on. Let's go back to the village."



I left; meeting Merope after all these years again was amazing. She'd grown taller and wasn't as gaunt—pft, pardon the pun—as she used to be and she was even prettier than before; confidence instills beauty, I heard someone say, I forgot who, but I think it was Mother who said it.

"Good luck," whispered Merope, smiling as she squeezed my hand before leaving to the Hufflepuff table.

I didn't have to wait long for my name to be called: "Gaunt, Mariposa!"

I could see a few teachers eyeing me, obviously, they knew of my ancestry but their eyes weren't hostile— I knew they were only curious about sweet and helpful Merope Gaunt's younger sister. I glanced, briefly, at Albus Dumbledore who's fate I saw etched clearly into my head, before the sight of him and everyone was blocked out by the Hat.

Ah- what's this? The Hat sounded mystified. It was a few more moments before it chuckled. Ah, this world is so full of magic wizards and witches have yet to explore- you're living proof.

Just Sort me, I thought. And you better not go blabbing about this to anybody.

Quite lost, aren't you, dear?

I thought you are, trying to prolong the inevitable humiliation at my hands, right? Unable to Sort, are you?

Feisty, clever and resourceful- Salazar would've been proud. And yet, it takes a certain sort of courage and bravery to change a future set in stone- very well—"GRYFFINDOR!"

I took the Hat off, looking up into the eyes of Albus Dumbledore who smiled down at me.

"Welcome to my House, Ms. Gaunt. I look forward to what you'd bring to Hogwarts."



Time works in a mysterious way. One moment, I swear, I was just being Sorted and the next, a few years had passed and I had taken my O.W.L.s.

I just sent the owl bearing my letter to Merope, about how I'd be leaving Hogwarts this summer.

Merope had taken to be a Healer at St. Mungo's and I must say, she was totally in her element— her reputation as the best Healer of her generation soared, talented and young, they said they needed more people like her to aid the war-ridden world. I didn't like the sound of that. What if they decided to send her to the battlefield?

Healing was something Merope simply excelled at, her inborn talent. Fighting? Merope was not that good. I was still contemplating my future— I kept my options open by studying like crazy for every subject to get an O.W.L that I'd be able to use.

I yawned as I trudged out of the train, rubbing my eyes.

"Bye, Gaunt!"

"See you next term, Gaunt!"

"Have a nice summer, Gaunt!"

I raised my hand in a halfhearted wave. Despite my occasional arrogance, bad-temper and tendency to get into deep trouble, I was rather well-liked and popular among my peers— though that might have been because everyone was oh so good at hiding their real feelings or people took my threat, about how I'd unleash the legendary monster of Slytherin if they offend me, seriously.

After that little speech and threat in my third-year, Professor Dumbledore promised me that I'd be in detention forever if I tried that again. War is on us, Mariposa, I could practically quote him. This is no time for games.

Psh. Ass. I hoped the dislike and enmity between the Gaunts and Dumbledores weren't hereditary or I'd be blamed for the suspicious looks Voldemort will be receiving from Albus Dumbledore.

And I could imagine it, a legend passed down from generation to another, about how one Mariposa Gaunt punched the Albus Dumbledore into oblivion...

Oh, sweet dreams.



"Oh," I said. When I realized the Riddles' gardener, Frank Bryce, was still looking at me, I added, "That's okay then."

I sighed as I trudged to the river that had, over these years of friendship, had been where the four of us would often meet up, talking about nothing and everything and skipping stones— and when we're feeling competitive, we'd climb trees and run all over the village.

I laid on my back, staring up at the evening sky. If things get too bad, you can always come back here. To this save haven of our childhood.

Frank said he never came back ever since he left for Oxford or something.

I snorted, recalling my own words to Riddle.

"Told you, you'd forget about your fears."



"Mari," pleaded Merope. "you don't have to go, no one's forcing you."

I straightened, turning to grin at my older, twenty-year-old sister. Tom Marvolo Riddle aka Lord Voldemort was supposed to be born last year and yet, no one named Tom Marvolo Riddle was born— or maybe there was a younger Tom Riddle squalling in his crib already, I don't know, I haven't heard from Riddle or Ceci in years.

"So you finally learned that forcing someone isn't the right way?"

Merope looked confused. Of course she wouldn't understand. She hadn't forced anyone to consume Amortentia, hadn't forced anyone to love her.

I wonder if this knot in my chest was what you'd call pride— for the first time, I'm feeling proud for someone else other than my own accomplishments. I hadn't even felt this when Merope got eleven O. and NEWTS— not even when I scored straight O's on all subject on both tests.

"Mari, I'm not trying to force you into anything— I just don't want to lose you—"

"This is war," I said, quoting my mentor, Dumbledore who'd probably be sneezing now. Or maybe he's already preparing a lecture about tardiness during wartime, I hate that old coot sometimes. "And Mer, you know I'm not someone who sits excitement out."

"Can't you wait one more day?"

I frowned. "I'm sorry. Did you want to announce your engagement to Marius Black, that Squib?"

Merope flushed. "No, I mean, yes, I—"

"I already know and I approve, sis," I said. "Marius is an okay guy. He's a Squib but he's still Pureblood and I'm sure Morfin will approve too and Father might walk you down the aisle."

Merope sighed. "Speaking of Father and Morfin, aren't you even going to tell them—"

"I'm probably going to die in this hunt for Gellert Grindewald with Professor Dumbledore? Yeah. Tell them for me, why don't you?"

Merope's nostrils flared. "Can you please take things more seriously? You're my sister! How would I be able to bear it if you die?"

I smiled, happy yet eerie. "If you can't bear the thick of things, if you need to grieve, why don't you go back to the paradise and save haven of our childhood for a break?" I reached out to wrap my arms around her. "Love you." It'd always placate her even though I never really know what it meant.

But perhaps love was entirely the reason why I'm embracing my sister, why I had argued with Professor Dumbledore for the past few weeks, why I'd insisted on following him on what might be a suicide quest, why it still sliced my chest when Riddle and Ceci never wrote back.

I exhaled, pulling back and grabbing my backpack. "See you later?"

Even though I had been very prepared, I found it extremely hard to keep taking steps away from the apartment we shared ever since Merope graduated from Hogwarts, when she sobbed.

Ugh. Love.

No wonder the Department of Mysteries had a room all to themselves to study this crap.



"Stay strong, you'll be all right— Professor!"

"I'm all right..." Professor Dumbledore was coughing blood— whatever curse that Gellert had hurled at him in final retaliation, it had hit its mark. "...because you're here."

Even on my deathbed, I'd never remember exactly, how I managed Side-Along Apparition for two other people when I was on the brink of death. But I suppose the power of utter desperation was useful— so much for the power of love— helped a great deal— especially when I thought of Merope, Riddle, Ceci and even my mother, father and brother.

Their faces were the beacon amidst the storming sea— the reason why I managed to Apparate without dying on the spot to St. Mungo's.

Weighed down heavily on both sides by the limp bodies Gellert Grindewald— despite all the shit the asshole had done, I knew Professor Dumbledore still loved him— and Professor Dumbledore himself, I passed out pretty quickly, the screams of the Healers and hysterical patients drowning out of consciousness.

I was in limbo, drifting in and out of consciousness without a proper thought. I was dying, from the blood loss and the curses I had taken on Professor Dumbledore's behalf.

I thought, briefly, that I heard Riddle's voice but when I turned, in that void of white, there was nothingness.

Time meant nothing in this space and I...

I sunk to the ground, at least, I thought I did— my vision certainly tunneled.

I was scared. Time flows mercilessly away and I... I was left behind as everyone moved ahead. No one was coming back for me— who would, when all of them have their own—


I stiffened.

Then I turned.



Love magic is as mysterious as time.

At least, that's what Professor Dumbledore said. I was ready to believe him. It was unbelievable; the bravery you'd get when someone you love is on the line. Seeing as Grindewald had been caught in our country and by us, the Ministry of Magic for Bulgaria (which was where Gellert was from) had deemed us fit to decide his punishment.

The Minister for Magic suggested the Dementor's Kiss.

But Dumbledore stood and objected— told them, point-blank, he would not let anything that terrible happen to his old friend, to the man he loved— and Grindewald had been shipped off to Nurmengard before Dumbledore's shocking confession, where Dumbledore visited everyday, where he spent most of his time if he wasn't waiting for me to wake up.

Time doesn't wait for anybody.

I had been in coma for three months— surprising as I had only the vaguest feeling of time slipping through my palms like sand in limbo— where Dumbledore and I had been heralded heroes without my knowing or consent.

But people will wait for somebody.

He was sitting by my bed, fingers linked with mine, frowning down at me as if I had said something particularly idiotic instead of falling into coma for months, when I woke.

"It's your voice, isn't it?" I whispered. "The one who came to pull me away from the void."

Even Merope and Dumbledore or any other skilled Healers were unable to reach me in that world beyond— and they were magic.

Tom Riddle was no one special; he was just one Muggle and yet, he reached for me— and he found me, he didn't let go.

"You remember what you said to me seven years ago?"

Ah... seven years. That had been a long time ago. Seven years since I last saw him but he still had that air of an aristocrat around him. I didn't know how he managed to get in St. Mungo's. He was not a relative after all.

My lips were dry, my throat was parched; I wanted water but I needed to answer him.

"I can't... phrase it in the same exact words," I murmured throatily, feeling my throat scorch. "But I think I said, that, if the world is getting to much for you, you'd go back to where we were the happiest."

"The world is too much for you," retorted Riddle. He untangled his hand from mine. "You bloody hypocrite. Instead of going back to our safety haven, you went for limbo. Howling, you."

I nearly smiled. "How did you get here anyway?"

"I can't have you dying of shock. I'll tell you another day."

I didn't object.

Before he left, lingering at the threshold of the door, Riddle turned back with a cocky smirk.

"You were scared, weren't you, before I came to get you."



The days leading up to my recovery were hectic, filled with tears and old friends and family. Merope practically smothered me in her embrace and even Dumbledore got emotional. Age and Azkaban (he hurt Muggles) had softened Father at the edges, blunting the jagged ends and he wasn't as intolerable as usual. He no longer shouted, no longer acted like a lunatic. Just a bitter old man who didn't know how he came to be the father of two girls (a hero and a Healer).

Morfin was as nasty as ever. But he looked better than Father after Merope had forcefully hauled him out for a makeover in Diagon Alley. Morfin had never had a clean appearance so I might be biased when I said he was more good-looking than the crooks in Knockturn Alley.

Nothing was more satisfying than to return to the Gaunt's shack. Or home. After the renovations Merope had done to it, it could no longer be considered a shack— it was now a proper home, a large cottage that could easily fit us Gaunts.

"So," I broke the silence between us sisters. "When are you getting married?"

Merope spluttered, wiping the tea off her chin— she was still shy despite everything she's been through. "Well, now that you're good as rain again..."

"Do me a favor."


"Don't name any of your kids Tom or Marvolo or Riddle."

Merope blushed bright red. "I got over the crush long ago!"

I sighed in relief. "Good. I'm not going to deal with another Dark Lord after all this shit."

Merope shot me a quizzical glance. "What does a name have to do with Dark Lords?"

I waved her off. "Speaking of which, how's Ceci and Tom doing? I'm expecting them to crown me godmother." I paused. "Oh, I suppose you can be the godmother of their second child if they're planning on having any—"

"Mari," said Merope, voice soft. I looked at her, into her sad blue eyes which was the exact shade as mine. "Ceci died years ago."

"What?" I spluttered. "How? When?"

"Tom was in coma himself, a few years back where Grindewald launched an air raid in that area, that's why he never returned any of our letters." Merope's voice was thick as she looked away. "Ceci didn't survive the raid." She broke off, reaching up to cover her face.

"Oh." Disappointment, anguish and pain churned in my heart. "Oh." I'd never look into the bright honey-colored eyes of my feisty and feminine friend again, never see her brown curls flying in the air as she ran, challenging us to a race around the village which she always won because she's built like a Merlin-damned sprite, never hear her laughter and encouraging smile or hear those convincing lies or shameless gossips fall from her lips.

Pain is love.

Someone said. I think that person is me.

Just as when Mother died, I couldn't bring myself to cry. I'd let Merope cry all the tears I couldn't shed for our beloved friend.

As I reached out to wrap my arms around Merope, allowing her to cry on my shoulder— we'd make our way to the river, our haven, soon, where I knew Tom would be sitting and waiting— I wondered how Tom left limbo.

I wondered, briefly, had Ceci reached out to take his hand and pull him from oblivion too.

I'm sure she did.

She was the one who taught me to never abandon a friend— the one who turned back and extended her hand when I tripped and fell.



I heaved a sigh of relief. "I'm glad Father behaved like a normal father instead of a loon." I looked at Merope and Marius, happiness etched onto their faces. "I'm expecting them to crown me godmother— y'know, in replacement for the... whatever." I broke off, clearing my throat awkwardly. "Sorry." I didn't sound very sorry, however, I must work on it— this was a parody of when we had our first conversation.

Tom snorted. "For what?"

"I mean, you and Ceci—"

"I do love her," said Riddle, sighing. "but not the way she and our parents wanted me to. I've had my eyes set on someone since I was eight."

"Huh. Imagine that."

"Did you know I had to practice with Ceci? I envisioned various scenarios, as to how to propose to her."

I looked at Merope and Marius. "Uh, don't you think it's too late to propose? You didn't even try to crash the wedding— which, I would totally help because I love havoc and I'm an avid supporter of Torope— Tom and Merope, get it— ?"

"Will you shut up and listen to me?" Riddle sounded superbly impatient— I guess seven years hadn't change him all that much. "All the times I suffered that humiliating practice Ceci forces me through—"

"What did she say though?"

"She always says yes. But she's always been biased." He looked at me. "What would you have said?"

"I guess I need to experience it to know—"

"I decided that I don't us to be just friends anymore."


Riddle smirked— that infuriating and smug expression from our childhood days— as he tossed me the small box. "You can determine the date." He didn't wait for my answer, instantly staring off into the distance. "I can just imagine Ceci's voice, asking, is that it? Hah, after all I've put us through."

"Riddle, don't you think it's too sudden? I mean, we haven't met in seven years—"

"And I've known you since we're six and eight. Perfect." His face softened slightly. "Is it about the uncertain future?" Oh, he knows me so well. I guess seven years of not seeing one another doesn't make much of a difference. "Time won't wait for you to make your choice."

I inhaled sharply.

"But I will."

I exhaled, muscles loosening. "I guess..." I tightened my hold on the little box that hid the diamond, the key underneath. "It wouldn't be too bad."

Riddle snickered, tipping my head back as he rested his forehead on mine. "I take offence to that. You know that I'm not but the best." And he sealed the promise with a kiss.

I know, someday, that I'd have to tell everyone that a world once stood between us, and I'm still not sure of this reality, whether this was all just a pleasant dream with its up-and-downs or I had been awake for a long time.

In this tale where the end is still unforeseen, we exist.

There is nothing more to say.

Disclaimer: I own nothing of the above but the plot and my character, Mariposa.

Author's Note:

This is dedicated to the readers to Darker Than Black, a multi-chap Harry Potter Self-Insert. Hope you enjoyed. ^0^

The changes in the timeline- such as the defeat of Grindewald happening during the 1920's instead of the 1940's- is part of the reason why this is AU and the changes Mariposa left by existing. If there's anything you're still wondering about, feel free to leave a review or a PM concerning it.

If many people voted for it, maybe I'd write a sequel, what do you say?