Tom Riddle, Jr. (The Diary)

For Tom Riddle, it hurts everywhere, most of all in his chest, like someone went through his heart with a steel blade. He winces and, shaking, stands up, brushing his hands off on his bare knees. He realizes he is naked. Clothes. Immediately, robes appear, and he dresses. For the first time, he notices how dark this place is. A thick fog rests near the ground here. Seeing a figure in the distance, he squints.

An old man wobbles toward him. Recognizing Headmaster Dippet, Tom straightens himself out and pushes his shoulders back, his nose slightly raised. "Good evening."

Professor Dippet raises an eyebrow. "Good evening, Tom."

They stare at each other. In this moment, Tom senses that their relationship has changed. Another sharp pain runs through his chest, and he clutches it, digging his fingernails through his robes. Why does it hurt so much?

"Because you did the unspeakable," says Dippet, and Tom realizes he has spoken aloud. He squints at Dippet, lip curled. "So what? I have done what no one else dared to do."

"Yet you are still here. Interesting, wouldn't you say, Tom?"

Tom steps forward but is struck with another round of pain. He winces. "You don't know… anything—"

"I daresay I have seen everything I needed to know." Dippet smiles crudely. "I've watched you for many years from above, Tom. You've done horrible things, even in your time at Hogwarts."

Tom sneers. "Hagrid deserved to be blamed for the basilisk—"

"And the death of your peer Myrtle?"

Suddenly, Tom falls to the ground, ripping at the robes near his chest. It's hot, burns. He looks up. "You're full of it. You never suspected me on Earth."

"Well." Dippet squats down beside Tom's shaking form. "Time on Earth is different than time here, I'm afraid. I saw more of you than I ever did when I was alive. You played me for a fool, Tom."

"I played you for what you are—weak!"

Dippet stands up, looking down Tom with cold eyes. "You have a choice, Tom. You can move on or return Earth to wander."

Snarling, Tom lets out a yelp. Then he looks up at Dippet and laughs. "And if I choose neither?"

Raising his eyebrows, Dippet turns on the spot. "You're stuck here."

As Dippet walks away, Tom laughs. Let him be stuck here, then… He'd rather be here than anywhere else, for there is no one waiting for him, absolutely no one.