This was my first fanfic. Looking back over it, I still find myself cringing occasionally. I'd like to think that my writing has improved over the past three years, and this piece, in a way, is proof of how much my style has changed. Sorry for any gaping plot holes or bad characterisations, but I can't be bothered to edit those out. Honestly, I'd contemplated deleting this many, many times; but nevertheless, I'm leaving it up here because I know that, for some of you, this is a guilty pleasure, and in perspective its not really all that bad. I think.
It was a freezing cold night in the winter of 1929. In the dark streets of London, dimly lit with burning oil lamps, a worn tired woman stumbled along. Her face was not pleasing to look at – she had lank, greasy hair and mottled skin. Her stomach was large and round, and it was clear that she was heavily pregnant and with child.
The young woman slowly clambered up the stairs to a grey, old building, occasionally grunting with pain. Liquid trailed down her leg as she frantically knocked the wooden door.
"Anne, get that door!" A high screechy voice spoke from within the building. Light footsteps pattered across wooden floors, and the door swung open to reveal a young teenage girl. She had brown curls and was wearing a white, faded nightgown. In her small hand she held up a barely burning lamp. As soon as the girl saw her, she gasped and called for a Mrs. Cole.
An older woman with shoulder-length grey hair came to the door, grumbling. She looked at the sorry mother in front of her. Another abandoned girl, poor thing. She pulled the panting, sweating woman inside the orphanage and laid her down on a thin mattress. Mrs. Cole dabbed a wet washcloth onto the forehead of the woman in labor.
The woman, Merope, gasped for breath as an excruciating pain filled her entire body. As she used the last of her strength to push, she could feel the little life left in her body slipping away. Oh, why did her darling Tom have to leave her… Merope knew she was leaving her son in this horrible, filthy place called an orphanage, but she couldn't leave her baby in the Gaunt House. Morfin would kill the boy at first sight. At least here, he would have shelter and food that she would not be able to supply.
A distant crying noise filled her senses, and a shout of relief followed soon afterwards. She panted as the child was placed in her arms. "I hope he… looks like his… papa. Call him Tom… for his father… and Marvolo for… his grandfather… and his surname… Riddle…" The matron frowned. "Tom Marvolo Riddle? What an odd name… Miss? Are you alright? Miss!"
As the first rays of sunlight rose above the horizon, the life seeped out of a poor, frail woman. Beneath the frantic gaze of the orphanage matron and the weight of Tom Marvolo Riddle in her arms, Merope Gaunt died with a sad, knowing smile on her pale face.
A day later, in another orphanage on the outskirts of London, a wicker-woven basket was gently settled down at the top of a stone staircase. In front of the basket was a red-brick low building. The young girl who had placed the basket down twisted her hands anxiously, wondering if this was the correct thing to do.
Eventually, she nodded. A child born to unmarried, underage parents was a scandal. A crime. She would never hear the end of it from her strict, no-nonsense mother. She turned away from the basket and quickly walked away from her guilt. She made the mistake of looking back once, and a tear slipped down her cheek. A dim light gleamed from behind a foggy, smudged window and the building was clearly poor. What a terrible place for her child – no, the mistake – to grow up in. For inside the basket lay a newborn child.
The young baby yawned as the light hit her eyes. She turned over in her cold blankets, struggling to find warmth. The birds chirped from a tree a few metres away, and as time passed, busy people hurried past the building, none noticing the quiet child inside. A few hours later, the wooden door opened and a young girl's voice squealed.
"Madam! Madam! A baby's here! Another orphan baby's here!" An older woman hurried to the door and carefully picked up the basket. As the young girl squealed and informed the other orphans excitedly, she sighed. "Another doorstep drop," she thought sadly. She set down the basket and picked up the baby.
In the years to come, she would come to regret ever taking the baby in.
CHAPTER 1: Inferno
The young girl sat on the edge of her old plain mattress, wearing a calm, blank face as she read her worn, second-hand book. Her 'bed', if you could call such a thing a bed, was inn the corner of a small, dingy room with cold, white walls. The paint was peeling off the ceiling and the floor was dirty, however, the girl sitting on the bed wore pristine clean clothes.
Black silky hair framed deep pools of blue, contrasting with her pale skin. She had a short, petite stature and strangely dexterous fingers. Her features made her seem childish and innocent, but, as they say, you should never judge a book by its cover.
Beneath the smiling, youthful face lay a cynical personality. Morgana Greene wasn't a typical young girl who loved lace and frills and dreamed of a handsome prince to take her away. No, inside her heart was a simmering pool of resentment and hatred. She loved not dresses but books; she delighted in not playing dolls but in riling up the other children; she dreamed not of a prince but of a successful future, where she could rule and lord over everyone else.
She was not one to beat around the bush either. Being polite and cordial was not something she could understand. She had lost count of the number of times she had made a schoolmate cry. Indeed, the only reason she had not been expulsed from school was because of her extraordinary mind. Teachers called her names like 'prodigious' and 'gifted', but also labeled her as 'impolite' and 'disrespectful'. The other children despised her because she was from the 'rotten orphanage' and because she was so cold towards them, but reluctantly admired her as well.
Whereas at 'home', the other orphans were frightened of her, since strange things always happened around her.
Once, when she was very young - barely 5 years old – Morgana and the other children in the orphanage had visited the public library on an excursion. It had been her very first trip outside of the confining walls of the orphanage. She had been so very excited at the time. At last, a real glimpse of the real world!
The five year old had wondered whether all adults were as susceptible or as sadistic as the ancient caretakers in the orphanage. Surely not, Morgana had thought to herself. Surely the world cannot be that cruel or gullible. Optimism had filled her with foolishness that day, and only ten minutes into the trip she had indiscreetly used her strange power. The same strange power that she used to terrify the other orphans.
Stretching out a small hand, Morgana had stared fiercely at the book on the top shelf. Within seconds, the Adventures of Merlin began shaking on the shelf. It wobbled, trembling, and then shot with a terrific speed into her hand. She had crowed in triumph, unaware of the wide, scared eyes behind her.
Her classmate, Melanie Woollcott, began screaming and pointing. Morgana whirled around, all feelings of happiness gone and replaced with panic. "Miss!" the girl continued to holler, her blonde pigtails flying out as she raced across the floor. "MISS! Morgana - "
Morgana had panicked, then, and she willed with all her heart that something might happen to Melanie. No way would she get caught, no way! To her amazement and delight, the blonde girl had suddenly stumbled and tripped over her shoelaces, resulting in a sprained ankle and a river of tears. "But, what happened?" she kept hiccupping through her painful cries.
What had happened, indeed?
Melanie Woollcott had never come near her again, but Morgana did not care. She knew, in that moment, that she was special. She could bend things and make objects come flying towards her. She could make the bones in the body snap and twist in impossible angles, and she could wish illness and injury on whoever she hated. This strange power had no limits, and no one else seemed to have it. Within a month, the orphans called her 'the witch girl'.
The witch can break your bones, they would whisper. She can make bad things happen to you, if you anger her. She can twist your mind until all that's left of you is your empty soul. Stay far, far away from the evil witch.
Morgana loved the power her abilities gave her. No one dared bother her, and she could make them obey her at the mere raise of an eyebrow. They scurried to do her bidding, even the foulest bullies in the neighborhood. They had all learnt their lesson, apart from the silly new arrival, Jimmy Fillmore.
Jimmy was an older boy from downtown London, with a posh accent and a snobby attitude. He had a thin face and short legs, as well as a permanent 'I'm better than you' look plastered all over his face. He had been found sitting on the doorstep, wrapped in a thin blanket and shivering from his night out in the cold. Despite his feeble appearance, though, Fillmore was quite the posh little bugger.
"My parents are rich and we live a big mansion. Better than this rubbish dump. They'll be coming soon, and they'll punish the lot of you for hanging 'round me with your dirty clothes," he would say often. Jimmy refused to believe that his parents had left him here for good and was convinced that his residence here was temporary.
He also refused to believe in the rumors about Morgana.
"This Morgana person is just a silly little girl, that's all. She probably just makes these rumors up herself. And powers, yeah right. What does she do, pull rabbits out of a hat?" Jimmy snorted in disbelief. "I bet she couldn't hurt me. My dad would flog her if she even touched me, you know."
"Yeah, but you don't know what she can do," whispered Mary McMillian. She was the sweetest girl in the building and the only child who would willingly speak to Jimmy. "I heard she made Melanie break her leg in the library and laughed afterwards."
"Ha! Don't be stupid, Mary," guffawed Jimmy. "Witches don't exist, my dad told me so."
At that very moment, as Morgana was reading her book, the very boy himself was swaggering down the corridor. He stopped by Morgana's door and gave her a long, hard stare. Although the staring became uncomfortable after a minute or so, she didn't move a muscle.
"So you're Morgana Greene. The witch girl," he smirked, his lips curling over. Jimmy must have thought he looked intimidating, but Morgana thought he just looked constipated. What a fool.
Morgana's eyes remained fixated on her book. "There is no proof that I am a witch. Jumping to conclusions this early is not good for your health."
Jimmy screwed his nose up in thought. "So you aren't a witch!" he exclaimed finally. "I knew it! You're just a little girl."
She turned the page, still not looking up.
"There is also no proof that I am not a witch. For all you know, I could be capable of turning you into a toad by simply waving my hand. And, assuming I am a witch, it is also safe to assume that would not be a good idea to annoy me, which you are currently doing right now."
Jimmy looked down his nose at her superiorly, completely ignoring everything she had just reasoned out. "The devil girl. Honestly! You just probably made it up, you filthy little liar. You filthy, stupid, dumb liar. And look, a book! Nerd," he said in a sing-song voice, probably thinking it would rile her up. It did the exact opposite.
"Honestly, how thick does your skull have to be?" Morgana said dryly. Jimmy stopped and sneered at her, surprised. "I am clearly more intelligent than you, and that's really not saying much, seeing as a snail could outsmart you. In fact, I'm not even sure if a snail has a brain. You should go down to the meager 'library' we have in this filthy institute, and look it up – that is, assuming you can read.
"In addition to that, you just contradicted yourself. You just said that I was a, quote, filthy, stupid, dumb liar, unquote, and then proceeded to call me a nerd. Unless you are speaking another language, then I believe that you just insulted me and complimented me at the same time, while also adding the word moronic to my increasing mental list of adjectives describing you.
"What's the matter, cat got your tongue?"
She sneered, internally applauding herself. She didn't know what half the words she had just spoken actually meant, but it made her sound superior, so…
Jimmy knew enough words by now to understand that he was being insulted. He said nothing - mostly because he didn't know what to say - but inside he fumed. How dare the filthy liar talk to him like this! Morgana finally looked up and gave him a haughty smile. "Hmm, not got enough brain cells to speak?"
Jimmy bared his teeth at her angrily, furious. He didn't know what brain cells were, but he had a feeling that it was something he should have but didn't. "I can speak," he growled, having nothing else to say.
"Yes, I can see why your parents left you here," Morgana continued, and smirked as Jimmy froze. She had hit a nerve. Excellent. "After all, you are a spoilt little brat. Always asking your parents for money, new toys… Well, they got sick of that, didn't they? They got sick of you, didn't they? So they left you here, to live out the rest of your life, miserable, lonely, poor…"
Morgana was guessing, but her instincts were almost always correct. She grinned, her pearly white teeth gleaming in the dim sunlight, as the boy curled his hand into a fist. Hook, line and sinker.
"You- you stupid little girl! You don't understand anything, you liar!" Jimmy hissed, face red with rage but eyes glimmering with restrained tears. So she was right. "Here's the pot calling the kettle black," she snorted, as Jimmy attempted to convince himself of his parents' love. Ha.
"My parents LOVE me! I know they do, they have to! Not like you, you liar!" The furious boy clenched his fist, and words tumbled out of his mouth without thinking.
"You're pathetic! Your parents didn't want you either! They just dumped you here on the doorstep, didn't they? I know, 'cause Mary told me! So you lie and you make people scared and you pretend you have powers when all you are is a pathetic, stupid, big fat liar!"
Her first reaction was shock, then followed by anger. No one had ever dared to talk to her like that. Ever. His words struck a chord in her and she gasped as if physically hit. My parents…
For ages upon ages, almost every night, Morgana Greene had dreamt of her parents. She could remember nothing of her parents' faces and knew nothing about their fates. As illogical as it was, though, she harbored a secret wish that one day, her parents would come and whisk her away to another world, far away from this wretched orphanage.
She slowly stood up from her bed, book lying abandoned on the spread. How dare he. How dare that Jimmy Fillmore even mention her parents. He had tainted her image of them.
"Jimmy Fillmore," she whispered, his name slipping out her mouth, soft and sibilant. The trembling boy looked up, suddenly seeming small and pathetic in face of her rage. She stepped forwards as if in a trance. All control was lost; anger was the only thing that fueled her now.
He reared backwards as she stepped dangerously close. Morgana stared at him unflinchingly with cold blue eyes. "S-stop," stuttered Jimmy. "Please, stop… I'm sorry… I'm sorry…"
She didn't react to his apologies. She barely even heard them. Anger and hatred had taken over her fully by now. "Shut up," she snarled, and without warning, the room burst into flames.
The fire seemed to come from nowhere. It simply appeared, ravaging the walls within a few seconds. Screams from inside the building as the startled children were caught unawares by the raging fire. The floors grew hot as the inferno grew bigger. Flames licked the ceiling and pieces of timber fell, crushing quite a few children as they struggled to escape.
Curiously, the fire did not come near Morgana. It surrounded her with glowing flames and smoky ash, but it never touched her. Jimmy Fillmore watched in terror. "What are you doing? You're going to kill everyone! You're crazy, you're going to kill all the people here!"
She watched on silently as he fumbled around in terror and ran out of the room. She knew she should do something. She knew she ought to help and stop the flames and get everyone out before they died.
But she didn't want to.
She hadn't even meant for the fire to come, it just… had. It wasn't really her problem.
The distant screams and pleas of help grew louder. Half-heartedly, she willed the fire to stop. All those orphans, no matter how irritating they were, were still innocent. They still years left to live. She wouldn't rob them of their lives...
But she wouldn't save them either.
The orphanage was already half gone by now, the foundations having crumbled into ash. The screams and cries had faded away by now, replaced by the occasional whimpering moans. The unrelenting firestorm whirled around her, destroying everything she had known for seven long years until nothing was left. She couldn't stop it. She didn't want to. She revelled in the heat, in the glory, in the power. What had started as a simple argument had escalated into the utter ruination of an entire community.
Morgana Greene was left standing, still and silent, surrounded by the cinders of her fellow orphans.