December 31, 1942
Tom Riddle was very, very happy. With "happy" being too shallow of a word, perhaps delighted would better describe his cruel and cold happiness.
Everything was in his hands and he couldn't be more satisfied.
Dumbledore had once said that Tom Riddle was the best student at Hogwarts. This was praise the descendant of Slytherin deserved. He had the coldest, hardest heart, was capable of being cruelly decisive, had a charming eloquence and appearance, and he used wisdom before taking any action. Every lesson he had learned, he used to further his goals.
That Beauxbaton girl died in Hogwarts, but that raised the question of who murdered her. In a few days, even with the Ministry team's incompetence, someone would be caught. The Slytherin calmly contemplated how best to introduce the next part of his scheme with the most impactful timing.
Tom shook his napkin out, dabbing at the chocolate sauce staining his mouth. Staring across the long table sat a lost man and the young brunette, bearing a cold smile, dropped the stained napkin then turned out into the main hall at Hogwarts.
Oh, he truly loved this feeling. He felt free, the restricting feeling of being trapped inside his body fading, weakening. Now he's capable of acting as he pleases, even in the presence of Harry. No longer was he a slave to his emotions. He had even noticed his mood swings had lessened considerably.
Those weak, passive, useless emotions were locked beneath the black cover of the journal, at the cost of a useless girl's life.
The Slytherin descendent smiled, he felt so powerful that he could never be shaken again.
A voice asked, then why did he stop Ovidius from warning Harry?
He doesn't deny that some of the emotions that remained more or less affected him. But as for that feeling that drove his emotions out of control, it was gone. He was beyond being controlled by his emotions, and what little was left him with little care. Even the slightest cold, despite being treated, will linger, a weak virus can't be eradicated immediately and his emotions had festered for more than a decade.
But he wouldn't worry, those residual emotions would again and again be divided and broken.
Despite time being reversed, the king being crowned was the opening ceremony that the hero had admission to see. Tom Riddle's soul would gradually become damaged, the Dark Lord Voldemort rising.
History could not be tampered with.
Hogwarts was enveloped in a downturn of the air. Snow fell outside the window, covering the roof, white and dazzling, as if nature was paying the highest tribute to the dead girl.
The students were in a low mood due to the Triwizard Tournament, and more importantly to Mylene Lance.
Once again, the Triwizard Tournament fails, a Champion lost, and worse a well-liked student. Even the oft-gloating Slytherins could not ignore the sad divide between life and death.
Tom was carrying his books as he headed toward the Potions classroom, the previous lively atmosphere of the Triwizard Tournament had repressed and depressed him. He and the dementors were probably the same in that way; the colder and darker the more he could enjoy and both he and they tried to remove that kind of happiness.
Tom suddenly recalled Harry's sad pale face and vengeful pleasure spread with every beat of his heart. Such a pretty look on him, and now in his good mood he can appreciate his father's expressions: ugly, painful, desperate. Each one made him tremble with excitement.
Was Harry's face only capable of being described negatively? Of course not. It was a defect of character or unconsciously done that the young man focused excessively on the dripped ink on paper, while ignoring the white spaces outside. He deeply remembered those expressions, but deliberately or unintentionally forgot the other expressions he'd seen: softness, happiness, comfort, concern, and encouragement.
The sun shines impartially, and so the earth blooms flowers, and so the gutter breeds bacteria.
Tom just laughed and walked toward the Potions classroom.
Now that Mylene Lance had died, Hogwarts could go back to being a school.
"Tom!" Someone shouted, and he glanced back to see a forty-year-old bespectacled man waving at him. The man shook a manuscript in his hand, excitedly. The professor had always been enthusiastic about magic Runes.
"I solved the problem!" The Runes professor shouted, causing some students passing him to raise their eyebrows as they curiously watched him go by.
Though he was a bit far, Tom could vaguely see the strokes on the paper. Tom could guess that it was probably part of the series of Runes taken from Harry's hourglass. Had the mystery been solved?
Tom wasn't too interested. The great urge he had felt to dig out the truth had weakened considerably along with his desire for Harry. Who was Harry Potter and what mystery did Harry's hourglass hide? He didn't care.
Perhaps in the past few years, Harry Potter had been a stranger but what did that matter?
So, the Slytherin approached the professor, greeted him politely, and let an apologetic expression spread on his face, "Sorry, Professor, I'm afraid I'm going to be late. I'd be happy to discuss this later, unless it can't wait?"
Though a socially unaware man, he understood and quickly shook his head, "No, it's all right, you can go on and head to class."
The man felt put off, the child had been very eager before so how had he become so disinterested? Perhaps, he had imagined it?
But these Runes were really wonderful, an expanded time range for a Time Turner. It had taken him some time to calculate the new range the Runes would grant. At a rough estimate, it should be between 50 and 100 years. It was a powerful increase and would surely set off a stir in the world of magic!
The professor hurried back to his personal lab. For researchers, studying such a discovery alone was as great as sharing it.
The teenager would never know that he missed such a great opportunity. But he didn't care about it. He didn't need to care about it.
Harry could not perceive that shackles ready to bind him had disappeared.
He just looked out the window, watching the beautiful snow fall, waiting for the last day of the year to arrive.
That day was the only bright spot he could see in the coming cloudy days, Tom's birthday, December 31st.
He still remembers holding the crumpled little baby in his arms and how little Tom didn't look cute. Tom was mighty proud and Harry smiled thinking of how he had once looked so ugly.
But in an instant, that baby had grown taller than him and was now sixteen years old.
Anyone familiar with Harry Potter knew that he loved celebrations but the ones he held dearest were birthdays. He was keen to celebrate anyone's birthday whenever he could.
Perhaps it was because he had gone a decade without receiving a gift until the night he received a very delicious cake and an invitation to Hogwarts. So, he loved birthdays, and often wished he could celebrate his weekly instead of yearly. Hermione had scoffed at that idea.
The best part of birthdays was being surrounded by friends, and so he had insisted that Tom got to enjoy every birthday, even if he had to jump time and space. At the least he prepared a gift for him, if he couldn't be there but the only time he had missed the child's birthday was in 1938. At the time he had been in 2001, facing the Dark Lord.
Harry rubbed his cold cheeks, reddening them. He seemed to have been caught between some good and bad energy. Maybe he was getting a cold.
Harry and Joan had rarely had a chance to say hello these days due to the investigation keeping their hands full.
"You want to go to Hogsmeade on the 31st? Okay, Alphonse and I will hold the line." Joan smiled, she knew that it was for Tom's birthday. "You're not looking very good, maybe you should ask Tom to make a potion for you."
Harry just smiled and shook his head.
"Tom? He's only in his fifth year, isn't he?" Alphonse looked at Joan, bewildered.
Fifth year? Tom had definitely surpassed seventh year knowledge and magic at this point.
Joan noticed Harry looking a bit weary and felt her heart jump with worry. These days, she no longer saw Tom and Harry together.
How very strange.
What really surprised Joan was what happened on the 31st.
Early in the morning, Harry's mood had been very good, and it softened his cold pale face to something gentle and beautiful.
He opened the door to Joan's room, holding a book in his right hand and wrapping paper and ribbon in his left. He looked embarrassed.
"I've always had the store assistant do the wrapping but the bookstore owner told me he doesn't do it." Harry pulled out his wand and attempted to make the wrapping paper activate and it wrapped the book haphazardly.
Joan gently unwrapped it and asked, "A classic Runes anthology?"
"He's been interested in Runes recently." Harry explained.
Joan shrugged, even learned Ravenclaw students found Runes boring and difficult. She tapped the wrapping power and it quickly wrapped the book, pretty and neat. Joan took in Harry's smile and her own mouth twitched. His smile was infectious.
She thought Harry's happiness today would far outshine Tom's, despite it being Tom's birthday and not Harry's.
"I'm sorry, Harry," Tom said, wearing a stunning dress robe, cuffs extravagantly decorated. Harry felt inexplicably embarrassed in his casual clothes. Tom smiled, dark eyes hiding the falseness in his expression, "Abraxas has organized a birthday party for me at his home."
Everything about Tom, from his handsome face to his clothes said he was born for these occasions. He had a slender and powerful body, wisdom beyond his years, and he would use this party to gather those he felt powerful or useful.
With the luxurious birthday party he was due to attend waiting for him, the thought of his father going to Hogsmeade for a meager present seemed amusing. Harry handed him his present, smiling sincerely, "Well, happy birthday, Tom."
Tom didn't care to tear most of the outer packing off, just enough to see the title of the book which provoked a hint of a sneer, "Classic Runes?"
He laughed, dropped the book, and headed off to a party worth of Voldemort.
Joan knew the next day that idiot went to Diagon Alley to search every books store.
"I want to find a book that he'll enjoy. Making him happy makes me happy." Harry told her.