Disclaimer: This story is based on characters created and owned by J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros. and various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books, and Raincoat Books. No profit is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. All rights reserved to original characters and spell craft.

Synopsis: Is the future truly carved into stone? Or can the small actions of a singular man alter the intended destiny of a nation? When young Tom Riddle finds himself in the care of Harry Evans he is entangled in a world of magic, intrigue, and political games between men of absolute power. HP/TMR

Warning: This is a graphic story intended for mature adult audiences only. Reader discretion is advised as this story portrays scenes of homosexual interactions, explicit sexual situations, violence, alcoholism, and many other mature themes. If you find any of the above distasteful, I advise against reading any further than this. Thank you for your understanding.


ACT I: Change

Lie still, lie still, my breaking heart;
My silent heart, lie still and break:
Life, and the world, and mine own self, are changed
For a dream's sake

― Christina Rossetti


CHAPTER ONE

December 1926 February 1927

It was late December, the month itself nearing its final day. Yet the torrent of miniscule cotton continued to rain from above, coating the streets of Cobham white. The creaking of homes was lost in the din of the biting wind that sliced the air in every direction. Above the flickering streetlamps to fought to stay lit under the weight of mounting snow, the sky marble gray and rumbling. Such was the nature of the day when the woman stumbled into the street. Unnaturally thin with skin whiter than the snow she treaded upon with bare feet, her black hair hung in frayed strands around a face that was no more than skin clinging to bone. Chapped and bleeding lips parted to relieve the woman of the pained moan that had caught itself in her esophagus. Inhaling, and immediately regretting it when the icy air struck at her aching lungs, she bent at the waist and moaned once more in despair.

For hours – for hours she had been laboring, biting away the urge to bear down on the atrocious pain that had circled her protruding stomaching. Her legs shook with a force to rival the blizzard that whipped vindictively in each direction, and she swayed dangerously with each push of the air. Grabbing onto the nearest pole for support, she placed her quivering hand over her engorged stomach. There was a flutter of movement beneath her skeletal hand, as though the child within her had sensed distress and it too had gone wary with unease.

"Be calm my son," she spoke in a tongue long before lost to the world she resided in. "All is well."

The lie that slipped from her lips did not carry away with the breeze, rather it hung before her, echoed soundly in her ears. All is not well. Licking her lips to ease the sting of frostbite, she settled herself firmly back onto her feet and continued onward. But where was she going? Surely she could not stay here – she could not birth here. Though, it would seem, her unborn son did not share her sentiments. She felt the ripples slide from her legs to her spine, her limbs quaking as she dropped to her knees in horror. The sudden, discomforting flood of liquid from between her legs startled the young woman, yet the fierce pain that followed had her howling. Clutching her stomach in horror, she felt her child squirm, and she herself panicked. What was she to do? Where was she to go?

"Madam?"

Blood bloomed beneath her, a vile stain of a birth that would quickly lead to death if she did not make haste to save her frantic child. Alas, that voice that had spoken in the midst of her desperation – such a voice was beautiful, a gentle warmth of light. She raised her eyes, a weak whimper tumbling from her trembling lips as she gazed upon a man whose magnificence and beauty would stun any. Eyes of the purest, brightest emerald gaze upon her face with confliction behind thin rimmed rectangular spectacles. Hair so black it appears blue fans a face delicately carved and skin fair.

"An angel," she whispered. "Have you come to take my child and me away?"

The man's brows furrowed ever so slightly, and he knelt before her. Freeing himself of the thick coat he'd worn, he wrapped it around her shuddering frame, and gently, quietly speaking into her ear "Stand, madam," returned her to her feet. Another strike of pain in her abdomen had her gasping and clinging to his arm.

"Walk," he asks of her, urging her to move despite the flood of nerve wrecking pain that wished to consume her. She gasped, groans and moans through this all, leaning heavily onto him as they walked. But oh she could only walk for so long before her legs buckled beneath her. Yet she did not hit the earth. Arms encased her form, lifting her higher and higher. Through blurred vision, she saw how close the man's face had come to hers. A small (was it pity, she could not begin to decipher that sad little smile) smile greeted her eyes, and like a child, the man cradled her to his chest and continued to walk.

Consciousness left her many times, but she could not be certain whether she was slumbering or fainting. Yet when clarity returns to her once more, she was resting in a bed. Ah and how soft it was! She sank into it further, eager to soak into the warmth of duvet and fluffed pillows that surrounded her. This was heaven, surely. She yawns, eyes falling close and hand moving to stroke her pregnant belly.

There was nothing there.

"My son!" She wails, despair, agony and terror clawing at her heart as she sits upright.

Hands settle on her shoulders, pressing her back down even as she fought to regain control of her lax limbs. "Be calm, madam," the same, quiet melodious voice calls out to her. 'Your son is well but you, you madam are not quite out of danger."

"Is this not heaven?" she inquiries softly, eyes wary and written with awe as the startling green irises stared upon her face and body, examining her. She felt a flush of embarrassment – and how strange it was for her to feel such a thing! – and could not help but to wonder if he himself had undressed her with his own hands. How disgusted he must have been by her unsightly form! She turns away from his gaze, arms curling around the duvet and cocooning it in her body to shield her figure from his gaze.

"Heaven?" rose red lips twist into a smile of mirth. "No, madam, this is not heaven."

Such a lovely voice, she muses, eyes falling shut as she made to burrow herself deeper into the mattress. But oh! With a gasp of astoundment she jerks her eyes back onto his face. He had not moved from the beds edge, and the longer she stared at him with astonishment, the more her mind failed to comprehend how this man would be able to understand her when none other could. "You speak my tongue," she says in feverish surprise. "You are of my kin, surely. But no. No my father had no siblings, none expect that of my mother and she had died many years before. My brother, surely, but you cannot. You are too young, as old as I!"

The man brought up a finger in silence, and so she did fall quiet, breathing heavily. With a light, shaken smile, the man merely said. "Sleep, madam." And with that he rose to his feet and exited the bedroom, leaving her terribly confounded and uncertain of the good Samaritan who had saved herself and her child.

"Wretched wench! The devil is what you are! Vile woman! You are dare to play this trickery with me but I will have none of it!"

The crack of his palm to her cheek left her speechless, loss of breath. Her fingers press into the stinging mark that marred her gaunt cheek, and with a dreadful, shaking sob, she fell to her knees before the seething man who had struck her mercilessly.

"Tom," she whispered feverishly. "Tom, please do not scorn me! Do not turn your back to me and our child! Please! "

Crack!

She crumbles onto the floor of their kitchen, sobbing with a force that shook her form to the core. "Do not take me to be a fool witch!" he spat into her face. "You and the bastard that festers within your grotesque form are no kin of mine! Burn in the pits of Hell where your kind belong!"

She awakes to the strangled cry of her own vocals, tears streaking her ashen cheeks as she stares at her raised hand. It was extended above her, reaching for something – reaching for what she could never have. Squeezing her eyes shut, she whimpers and cradles her arm to her heaving chest. Oh to think of her former husband at such a time! No – no she will not have it. Casting away the knotted duvet from her body, she waited for the moment of nausea to pass before climbing from the bed. And such a grand bed it was too! Made of the darkest oak and a large four-poster, the black velvet drapes seemed to sigh in acknowledgement when she pushed them aside. Carpet greeted her feet (the man had such good taste in carpeting, how delightful!) and taking a moment to dress herself in the simple dress robes that had been left folded on the vanity dressers chair, she glanced quickly at her own reflection and looked away a second later.

She never was fond of mirrors.

With a fluttering of unease in her stomach, she exited the bedroom and stood in the hallway for quite some time. Like the room, the hallway was furnished with a décor that was simple, yet so elegant. As she admired the abstract paintings that hung from the walls, the wail of child filled the silence and warmed her heart.

Her son!

Gathering the full skirt of her dress she made way toward the noise, bare feet padding noisily against the crimson carpet as she fled down the stairs and into the kitchen. The sight that greeted her stopped her in her tracks. The man (why had she still failed to ask for his name?) held her fussing son in his arm, cooing down at the red faced child that pumped his plump limbs in an irate manner. If the man noticed her he gave no indication as he brought the bottle of formula he had been holding to her son's mouth. Greedily the baby suckled at the teat, warranting a small chuckle from the man. The longer she stood at the threshold of the kitchen, watching as this man care for her child, the deeper the sense of disappointment and dread filled her heart. She, who had not even held her child once, could already do nothing for him.

"For such a quiet one he has strong lungs," the man said, addressing her at last. She could only nod helplessly, unable to say anything or even contradict his words because she had not been with him. "Come, sit. You must be famished."

She complied, sitting in one of the empty seats at the circular table, and, despite herself, her stomach growled with vigor at the sight of the splayed feast before her. Never before in her life had such an assortment of meals been presented before her. Such things as muffins, scrambled eggs, and bacon was unavailable in her father's home. "This," she began to speak in a small voice. "I am allowed to eat this?"

"Take your fill, madam, please," the man urged, taking the seat across from her. His arms shifted to give more comfort for the child in his arms.

Nodding slowly, she filled her plate and poured herself a glass of the orange colored juice. As she tucked away the meal – how glorious it felt to have a full, hot meal – her eyes never wavered from the scene before her. The man had resumed focusing on the child he held, her child. The baby itself was so beautiful, so unlike her. She only saw Tom in the babes face. Seating down her fork and knife once finished, she made to speak first when the man said:

"Have you decided on a name for him?"

She nods, not wanting to be rude in spite of the string of questions she ached to ask. "His name is to be Tom, after his father. Marvolo after my father, and Riddle."

"Tom Marvolo Riddle." The stringed together name fell from the man's lips with an air of something ripe, as though he had tasted something bitter. She hoped she had only misheard. "It is a fitting name."

She nods once more. "And you, what is your name?"

"Me?" A slender brow rises, and a moment of contemplation passed between them before the man responsed. "My name is Harry, madam. Harry Evans."

She nods, acknowledging his name but unwilling to test the syllables with her own tongue. Inquires ceased from there as she ate and watched him through the strands of oily black hair, in awe at how he cradled her son to his chest and smiled at her son – her Tom – with a quiet, secretive fondness. How strange it all was. When she had finally tucked away her last meal, and her son gurgled with a babyish content in the man's, Harry's, arms, she placed her hands onto her lap. Teeth nipped away at chapped lips, black eyes darting from the babes face to Harry's.

It was he who broke the silence first. "If I may inquire, madam, why were you by yourself? Surely your family and husband are a mess of worry over your whereabouts."

Her eyes widened minutely, then closed as she fought to stifle the unsettling sensation of rocks in her heart. When she failed to provide an answer, he did not press any further, but rather asked a different query: 'What is your name, madam?"

Ah, that she could provide a response for. "Merope. My name is Merope Rid – Gaunt."

"It is a pleasure to meet you then, madam Merope."

Time was a peculiar thing for it gave her no choice but to abide by its rules. As winter treaded into spring, Merope found herself bewildered by how quickly things changed; and how poorly her health failed her. In spite of all that Harry Evans had done to assist in her healing, her body decayed and with it her magic. For much of these days she was bedridden, delirious, and whimpering for the husband who would never come to her. Through her painful ordeal, Harry stayed dutifully beside her when not attending to her son. That boy – why had she not known better, Merope would have thought her son had become quite possessive of the man. Should Harry leave his side for more than a minute he would wail with displeasure that threatened to bleed her ears. He was such a strange boy.

One such night when Merope awoke from a state of dementia, it was to find Harry Evans perched at the foot of her bed. His eyes gazed past her, away from this present world and she could sense a despondency to him. When he finally spoke, there was a tremor to his words, "You remind me of my mother, Merope," he began quietly, "she too had died when I was only a child."

A shudder slithered down the length of her back, a dry sob clutched in her throat. Numbly Merope nods for him to continue, unable to find her voice. She knew this day would come, yet as Death lingered at the threshold of the bedroom she occupied, waiting to embrace her tightly and cast her into darkness, she feared the unknown. She feared for the child she would leave behind, orphaned so young and never knowing his mother and father. Bitterness swells in her heart – an anger with herself and Tom for his treachery. How she loved him and how he hurt her!

"Your magical core is nonexistent as of this point," Evans was explaining, never once meeting her eye. "And my magic alone can no longer sustain your life without bringing damage to my own. You are dying, Merope."

"Tom," she whispered. "Tom…he will be alone…So alone…I don't want to die…"

"No one wants to die, Merope," Evans murmured, briefly sparing her twitching form a glance before settling his vacant gaze forward once more. "The unknown is a frightening thing when it comes to death. But do not fear it. Death, to the well-organized mind, is but another adventure."

"Tom," she whimpers, "you…You must…take care of him…"

Evans does not agree to do so right away, a startling light entering his eyes – a memory brought forth by her words alone. His jaw clenches, eyes close, and he breaths lowly. Upon opening his eyes, Evans looked to her with almost something akin to uncertainty. "Would he not be better off with his father, Merope?" he asked gently. "I am sure – "

"No! No…It must be you…Only you…"

Evans's lips parted to speak, possibly even to decline, when a cry sounded. Even in her current state of health and mind, Merope recognized the wail of her son, her Tom, and tears prickled the corners of her eyes. The bed creaks, Evans leaving to attend to her son for a few minutes. As she laid there, her heartbeat stuttering and pausing, weaning away from life, Merope recalls when she had held her son for the first time. He had been so tiny, so precious and though he had given her uncertain cries when she held him, she loved him so deeply. Her son, her Tom – how perfect he was, and how tragic his life to already begin without either Mother or Father to support and care for him. Her tears dried, breathing fading into a quiet whisper that barely sounds, lost in the din of her child's wails.

She remembers wailing in such fashion with her brother when her mother had died, for children of magic blood were painfully in tuned to the wellbeing of their carrier. Should the mother die they would know, and she pities her son who wails because he too feels the effects of their blood connection as parent and child being severed by death. "I'm sorry, Tom," were the final words to leave her lips as she sank into the warmth, and black abyss of Mors's domain.

March 1927 April 1933

Hardship brings upon a dishonest nature in men; this alone Emma White knows to be true. In the span of twenty-nine years she has come to accept many of life's cruel, and often malicious, injustices. When she was still quite young and newly wed to her husband, Edward, she had been overcome with joy when she found herself with child. This jubilance, however, lasted only till she found herself with a stillborn boy and a heart greatly torn. No mother should have to bury their child, she had concluded as her son was laid to rest in a small chapel. No mother should ever outlive their child. For some years afterwards she could not bring herself to bear another child. Still scarred with loss of her firstborn, Emma tended to the small inn her husband operated dutifully and took to caring for any family and travelers that came through their doors. Yet, even those days and presently, the times were hard. Though it was only whispered, she knew war itself was coming – and she feared the wound it would leave in its wake.

Money was scare and though at the time she had been reluctant to agree to such terms, when a young father had come into the inn with a two month of babe in his arms, Emma had felt inclined to tend to him a little more. He, unlike the others who came through, was not short of money if the fine material of his clothing was anything to go by. Even now she recalls the look of desperation in his eyes as he explained that the babe's mother had passed from a sickness and he knew not what to do with the child. He had, upon seeing her wide eyes, extended to her an offer neither she nor her husband could refuse.

"Care for him, please," the young father had beseeched, "be a family to him and love him and I shall pay you both handsomely. Two hundred pounds a month shall be sent to your residence for taking him into your home."

Edward readily agreed and they had become parents to an orphaned boy.

True to his word the young father, a Mister Evans, sent a monthly payment to their address on the first – money that brought great relief to the couple for the times were tough. As the months turned into years the quarterly visits Mister Evans once made to check upon his child grew shorter til' the boy was two and he ceased arriving all together. The money continued to come and as Tom was turning three Emma had given birth to her second child. Tom, as she recalls, was strange even as a young child. He did not take to her children, nor to her, really. As a baby he would often scream himself sore when she tried to nurse or rock him to sleep, and as he aged queerer and queerer things being to occur. Things that could not be explained or reason – things that frightened her and her husband.

Eventually, as he was nearing his fourth birthday, Edward had proclaimed, "The boy is unnatural, Emma! Never have I seen a child act like him – no wonder his father left him without a backwards glance!"

"Edward, please," Emma tried to reason, "Tom is a bit particular but he is still a child – "

"A child of the Devil himself, I swear by it," spat Edward. "I do not want the boy in this house any longer!"

Emma sighed. "What shall you have us do? We do not know where his father is and we cannot leave the boy in the streets – he's the reason we are receiving Mister Evans allowance to begin with."

It was then that Emma had witnessed a part of her husband she had never conceived to exist. The man that had faced her that day had not been the kind, honest man she had sworn her heart to. Greed had twisted his heart and left it rotten and black. "We shall leave the boy in an orphanage, dear."

"Mister Evans – "

"Will never know! He has never once come to see the boy, and should he even come we shall say he is well and happy. That child is abnormal, Emma. A freak. Let him fester wherever God pleases, but we shall not have to suffer his presence any longer."

"That is dishonest. What you are doing is stealing from a man who has placed trust in us to care for his son."

"And that is where he made his mistake."

With a grimace, Emma begun to put away the dishes and brushed away all thoughts of Tom Riddle from her mind. It was as she was finishing up that her young daughter, Sophia, came into the room with a cheer of laughter behind her. "Mama!" she said in greeting, throwing her arms around her mother's legs. "Mama! A man has come to see you!"

"A man?" Emma parroted, brows knitted. "Who is he, darling?"

"He says his name is Harry, mama. Harry Evans."

It was as if a cold stone had dropped into the pit of her stomach. Feeling horribly sick, Emma rested her hand over her frantic heart, her mind a buzz with worry and woes. Harry Evans had come – he had come and his son was not here. She shudders to think what he will say. Sophia, squawking in worry at her mother's colorless face, demanded to know what was wrong. Emma waves away her inquires, straightens her shoulders and steps into the archway of the building. Much to her surprise, Harry Evans had not changed in the least. In fact, it appeared as if time itself ceased to exist for him. His face, still frozen in youth, was as beautiful as she remembers. His skin was fair and hair dark, the bones of his face a delicate carve with high cheeks and full lips that draw themselves into a smile at the sight of her.

"Miss White, it's a pleasure to see you again," says Evans as he extends a hand to her.

"Mi-Mister Evans, so – so good to see you also," responds Emma weakly, allowing him to kiss the back of her hand. "What – what can I do for you today?"

"This is very sudden – I had originally planned to call and inform you of my visitation – but I've come to relieve you of Tom," informed Evans with the faintest blush to his cheeks. When Emma gave no immediate remark or reaction, he continues. "When he was born I was still very busy with my father's company and could not find the time to raise him – especially when his mother died. I must apologize for forcing him onto you without due consent or warning, but I have to ask for a return of guardianship – "

"Tommy is not here!" inputted Sophia, and Emma felt the air rush from her lungs in a sharp exhale. "Papa sent him away a long long time ago."

The dark, arched brows come together in a frown. "I see," murmured Evans and he looked to Emma with something akin to accusation, if not outright disappointment. "I was under the impression that he still had a home here."

"Edward – Edward insisted you would not care what happened to the boy one way or the other," whispered Emma, feeling like a child being scolded under his gaze. "It was dishonest of us to take your charity under false pretense. Please, forgive my family, Mister Evans."

"Its fine, Miss White. You may keep the money from this month. I only ask that you tell me of Tom's whereabouts presently."

"Wool's Orphanage," supplied Emma quickly, her cheeks flushed with shame. "He has been there since he was four."

"Thank you."

Just as he had come without invitation, Harry Evans left without a parting dismal from Emma and her daughter. Long after he was gone and her heart had settled, Emma contemplated the most sensible and comforting of ways to tell her husband that the money they had come to expect on a monthly basis has been cut indelibly. Edward would not be pleased, that alone she knew, but still cannot help but to wonder what type of man Harry Evans was to leave a child and return for him years later. Furthermore, how easily he gave away money and how forgiving he was when he learned how they had stolen from him for many years. It made her wonder, of course, but just as she had come to accept many of life's injustices, she also contended with its strangeness.