Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter
Warning: Fem Harry Potter AU, Tom Riddle AU
Chapter 1: The Orphanage
Wool's Orphanage was never quite renowned for its high quality or the way the staff tended to treat the children in their care, but they were by no means cruel or poor. The orphanage was a place where children, who were unfortunate enough to have been abandoned by their parents or discarded by people who considered their presences to be less than a nuisance, stayed until they were either adopted or old enough to enter the real world on their own.
But the world which they knew was no place for a child to grow up in, especially not someone like Harriet Potter.
Harriet, or Harry as many of the other children and staff alike preferred to address her by, was what most people referred to as an unwanted child. Having been abandoned by her parents at the doorsteps at the orphanage with hardly anything to her identity but a blanket which said her name and date of birth, the staff couldn't put much together anything in order to figure out where she came from. As she grew older, her appearance didn't resemble anyone they knew from the area either. She did have the oddest birthmark, however, on her forehead that was shaped almost like a lighting, but they easily debunked that it couldn't be hereditary.
All they could do thus far was look after her, even though her attendance wasn't as cooperative as they would have preferred it as she grew older.
Her habit of constantly getting into fights with the other children and in problems wherever she went didn't sit well with the staff, primarily Mrs Cole, and it didn't help the strange things always seemed to happen around the girl. At one point, all of the lightbulbs in the common room ended up going out all at once without explanation, only to be turned on again as soon as Billy Stubs left the room after having picked on her due to her scar. The electrician, Mr Hughes, couldn't find any explanation for the sudden blackout other than it might have been something wrong with the system. Though it was quite odd, nobody ever mentioned it again, least of all the Potter girl.
Harry's tendency to snap back unpleasant remarks at her caretakers as well as her fellow orphans caused a bit of commotion around in the area, and it didn't take long before the orphanage found itself being surrounded by rumours that alleged that they housed but vile delinquents and other wayward youths inside their walls. Though the Potter girl's behaviour was scrutinized to the highest degree, the staff couldn't really do much to change her unruliness, and the girl didn't indicate any interest in changing either. Though she became less rowdy and a bit more compliant as she grew older, there still lingered some traits of that boisterousness inside her that never ceased to vanish. The chances of the young girl ever maturing into what was considered an ideal miss were low and practically non-existent.
All Mrs Cole could hope for was that she would eventually be able to find someone who could handle the girl's unpredictable behaviour accordingly. If not, then they would have some hard years to look forward to until the girl could make it on her own, if she ever could.
"You know, I still can't understand your fascination with books," Harry Potter, now ten years old, glanced over the shoulder of the equally-young Tom Riddle, looking down at the book he had on top his knees. "Why do you like them so much? They're so boring."
"If you cared to open one yourself, you might figure out that there are much more interesting things in books than getting into fights all the time," the dark-haired boy said apathetically, not looking up from the pages. The Potter girl pouted and laid down next to him under the tree they were at, placing both arms under her head. She looked up and tried not to get blinded by the sun, but the tree branches above her fortunately prevented most of the light from making it through to her.
"It builds character," she said, smirking.
"I can tell," Tom raised an eyebrow at her, or more specifically, the dirt on her clothes and part of her face. "Did you get into another fight with Billy again?"
Harry shrugged with closed eyes and didn't speak a word, allowing the warmth of the summer weather to captivate her completely without any thoughts on what the morning might bring. Mrs Cole would undoubtedly lecture her once again about initiating fights once she discovered whatever state the ludicrous condition the Potter girl had rendered him to.
Tom let out an exasperated sigh but didn't bother to make a comment. Not that it would help her either way. The Potter girl was as gone as could be, but it seemed like she was the only one in the entire orphanage he could tolerate to some degree. Despite her ridiculous behaviour and occasional childishness, she seemed to be the only one except himself who could do things the other children couldn't do. Perhaps it was the only reason why he even bothered to converse with her, but it felt like a good enough reason compared to all the other ones, which there were few of.
"What are you reading, anyway?" she asked without opening her eyes.
"You wouldn't be able to understand the title, much less the rest of it." He answered, still not looking up from the book.
"Try me," she said determined, finally sitting up to face him.
Unimpressed, Tom sighed and shut the book, holding it up to her face as to display the title just a few inches away from her eyes. Macbeth, the title read. It was a thick book, one that the Potter girl wouldn't as much as look at even if she was offered a thousand pound in compensation.
Harry scrunched her eyes together and inspected it sharply. It didn't help that she was farsighted and had just recently cracked her glasses after yet another conflict with someone, but even Tom thought she seemed idiotic looking like that. He pulled the book back and opened it, resuming with the pages he had started reading prior to the Potter girl's interference.
"What's it about?" Harry asked, laying down again on her back in the exact same position as before.
"It's about someone who hears a prophecy about himself," Tom explained shortly.
"He wishes to ensure that it is fulfilled."
"So, it's just about some person who hears something about his future self and wants it to become true? What fun is that?"
"It's not supposed to be 'fun'." Tom said matter-of-factly.
"That's basically you in a nutshell,"
He said nothing and continued reading, attempting his best at avoiding the Potter girl without being interrupted. Fortunately for him, Harry remained silent and continued resting beneath the tree, enjoying the summer heat as usual. It was uncommon that good weather ever struck Wool's, but it seemed like whatever God reigned in the heavens finally decided to grace the miserable place with His presence. Tom was never one who particularly believed in the divine, nor in immortality, but a child was allowed to wish, was it not?
"I'm so bored," Harry finally said after minutes of silence. and though it might have sounded like English to him, he knew better to assume as such. It was a language only he understood, he and the others who spoke the same language, in other words, Harry herself. Looking to the side, he witnessed a common adder slithering out of the shadow of the tree trunk beside them and to the Potter girl's side, tilting its head at her curiously.
"Don't call them every time you're bored," he chided.
"But I sure as hell don't get anywhere with you."
She stuck her tongue out at him and he rolled his eyes yet again, finding her childishness less than amusing to his taste. The Potter girl then began to converse with the serpent in a tongue only they could understand. Like said, Tom understood each and every word she spoke like it was English, but he knew that it was only Harry, him, and the serpents who could comprehend it. He had to admit that he found it rather disappointing to figure out that his abilities were akin with hers, but it made up for half of the stupidity he knew she was in the possession of.
"You're very pretty," Harry said to the adder, rolling onto her stomach and looking at it with her hands on top of her hands.
"Thank you, two-legger," said the serpent, a male. "Though it is uncommon to hear someone like yourself understand those like us."
"All the more fun,"
Later that day when all the children headed to the dining hall for supper, Harry plopped down next to Tom, who still had the book open in front of him, didn't as much as acknowledge her. He didn't need to.
Bowls of porridge were distributed down the row of the table and soon enough, every child within the room sat there with a bowl of their own. Mrs Cole appeared at the front and gestured them all to fall to silence, which took her little more than a few minutes to do, given how erratic they seemed as of recently. One might have imagined that there was a zoo residing inside or the orphanage rather than a bunch of children.
"Children," Mrs Cole called as soon as silence filled the room. "It's time to say our prayers."
As soon as she said this, all of the children folded their hands together and bowed their heads down. At least, all the children except for Tom and Harry, the former who was still reading intently the book in his hands and the latter who had already begun to dig into her meal without consideration towards any religious acts. They earned themselves quite the number of stares from the other children, as well as few members of their staff, but none said anything. Rather, none dared to.
Mrs Cole decided to ignore this as she folded her own hands together and bowed her head down. As soon as she began, all of the children spoke the same words in unison. "We thank you, O Lord, for all that you give. We thank you for this meal which you have bestowed upon us, the beds that you have given us to shield ourselves from the cold of the night, for the love that you wish upon us all, that we have in our hearts. Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Through Christ our Lord, Amen."
The children all unfolded their hands and began to tuck in, but already by then, the Potter girl had finished her meal. Tom, meanwhile, was more interested in absorbing all the knowledge that he could from the book he still had his eyes glued to, his own meal untouched. Although Harry didn't share his enthusiasm towards books and the likes, she did read a few pages over his shoulder and he didn't seem to mind it as long as she kept quiet, which was more than he could say for the rest of them.
From what little she could comprehend from the advanced words which the book was primarily composed of, it didn't require a lot of deduction to understand that the main character, Macbeth, was growing increasingly paranoid and even morbid for some reason. As she had not read the beginning nor the middle, she knew very little about what had happened, but the main character's madness was evident through only a few pages.
But before either of them could read the last bits on the pages they were currently on, the book was suddenly snatched away from Tom's hold and held up in the air by a person neither of them harboured any fondness towards. Billy Stubbs stood there, tall as ever, with an arrogant leer on his face as he held the opened book up to his face. "What's this?" he asked mockingly and started to scurry through the pages, his eyes squinting for each and every page he went through. Some of his friends were standing next to him, chuckling with menacing grins on their faces as they watched their friend/boss make fun the Riddle boy and Potter girl.
"Give it back, Billy!" Harry shouted, standing up with her hands slammed down on the table. Tom didn't move a single bit, as he wasn't one for direct confrontation, but needless to say, he would've much preferred it if he could have the book back unscathed, which he guessed was more than he could say for the Stubbs boy in a little bit, judging by the murderous glare in Harry's eyes.
"'Give it back, Billy!'" Billy said mockingly, imitating her voice, and held the book up again. "What are you going to do about it, Potter?" The freckles on his face started to resemble targets.
"I said," she reached her hand forward, not breaking the eye-contact with the Stubbs boy. "Give. It. Back."
Billy let out another cackle and proceeded to hold it up over his head. "Try to get it, then."
"Harry," Tom let out a sigh. "Leave it be. It's his problem if it gets ruined in any way."
"Yeah, listen to your freak-friend, Potter," That word had both Tom and Harry freeze where they were positioned, and despite himself, Tom could feel his fingers clenching against the table-surface out of spite. Being addressed with such a derogatory title didn't usually have any effect on him, but for some reason, this particular one had him wish to make the Stubbs boy crumble where he stood.
Sensing their disdain, Billy let out another laugh and continued to wave the book over his head. "We all know that you're freaks! Talking to snakes in the garden, isn't that witchcraft? Should we burn you at the stakes, maybe?" For each taunt that was cast upon them, both the Riddle boy and the Potter girl felt their anger increase, though Tom was much more capable of concealing this behind a mask whereas Harry hadn't quite grasped that ability yet. He doubted she ever would.
"Shut up, Billy!" Harry shouted, but he didn't.
"We all know what happened to you," he continued. "Tom's mommy died and Potter's mommy left her on the doorstep. You must be soooo sad," Billy made sad faces and wept away tears that weren't even there, but soon enough, that sadistic glee returned. "They're probably happy now, don't you think? They're probably glad to be rid of y—" But before he could finish, Harry jumped over the table and lunged at him, throwing herself at him and causing them both to land on the floor with her on top of him. Billy dropped the book and began to cry as the Potter girl started pounding on him with both of her hands clenched into fists, teeth gritted together, and the most maniacal glare anyone could ever have expected from her.
"Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!" she shouted furiously each time she landed a blow to his face. The Stubbs boy's friends tried to pry her off him but she wouldn't relent a single bit. Though Billy attempted his best to shield his face with his hands, Harry's fists managed to make it through to his face regardless of how many times he tried to protect himself. Tom watched with both disinterest and amusement as the scene unravelled itself in front of him. This was hardly the first time he had watched the Potter girl get into a fight, but it was most certainly the most interesting one yet.
"GET HER OFF! GET HER OFF!" Billy's pleas for help were in vain, as nobody dared get close to the one-sided fight whilst the Potter girl was still acting it out.
Harry suddenly hit Billy's nose, causing it to run with blood, but it still didn't prompt her to cease her attack. The lights in the room began to flicker and the chandelier hanging from the ceiling began to dangle like it was being pushed by some sort of invisible force. By the time one of the staff, a middle-aged and disliked man by the name of Mr Murphy, arrived, Billy had several bruises already forming on his arms and face.
"STOP THAT AT ONCE!" he shouted and reached over to the Potter girl, yanking her off Billy with three pulls in total. When he was finally able to get her off, she attempted to get out of his hold and towards the Stubbs boy again, but Mr Murphy was far from as weak as the other children were. He pulled her by the arm and had her separated from Billy in an instant.
"Let me go!" she shouted, still throwing her arms towards Billy, who was helped up from the floor by his friends.
"Enough!" the older man didn't let go of her like she demanded. His murky brown eyes flickered between the children. "Tell me what happened!"
"She's raving mad!" shouted one of Billy's friends, pointing an accusing finger at her. "She just attacked Billy for no reason!"
"That's not true!" Harry said. "He took Tom's book and made fun of us!"
The man looked sourly down at her. Out of all the members of the staff, he was the least fair one. Even Tom agreed on that. "You're a nasty little liar, Miss Potter," Mr Murphy said coldly. "You will be sent to your room with so supper today for starting yet another fight today, is that clear?"
Harry tried to free herself from his grip, but she was far too weak to outmatch a grown man. "Let go of me!"
"I said," The man tightened his grip around her arm, causing her face to wrench up in a painful expression. "Is that clear?"
SMACK! There was a sickening sound that echoed through the air before the Potter girl succumb to silence, her face wrenched to the side with a red mark across her cheek. Her eyes were shielded by her bangs but Tom knew her well enough to know what was hidden beneath them. Harry wasn't someone who easily cried, and whenever she did, she would hide it as best as she could. He glared coldly over to Mr Murphy, who's wrinkly face threatened to form a satisfied smirk.
He let go of her arm and slightly pushed her to the side. "Now, go to your room. I'll report this to Mrs Cole."
Tom scoffed. "The fight or the fact that you just hit her?" he asked, not allowing his emotions to get the better of his voice. Mr Murphy turned to look at him but he didn't say anything, merely turned around and walked away. A few seconds later, Harry, whose green eyes were now slightly red and equal to the colour of her cheek, turned to Tom and mumbled, "I'll see you later," before she swiftly turned around and exited the dining room, disappearing into the hallway and out of sight.
As soon as she was gone, Billy, despite his injuries and the fact that his nose was now covered with a napkin that one of his friends had given him, began to laugh with them about the change of events. "Freaks," he said in-between his giggles, flickering his eyes to Tom as he said this. Instead of lashing out like the impulsive girl had done, Tom said nothing and merely stood up from his seat, grabbing the book from the floor before he too left the room.
He had something he needed to do first.
Harry sat on top of her bed with her knees pressed up to her chest, having stayed in said position for well over four hours now. The sun had set long ago and the night had claimed the sky for itself, but she was feeling far from tired. It wasn't until knocking was heard from the door that she finally mustered the will to look up. Under ordinary circumstances, she wouldn't have replied, but she recognized the knocking-pattern with ease.
"Come in," she said, voice barely above a whisper, and the door opened. Tom stepped inside with a bowl of porridge in his hand, undoubtedly the supper which she had been denied earlier. Despite the fact that it was dry and didn't look as appetizing, her stomach was feeling quite drained and she didn't complain as the Riddle boy handed it to her and sat down on the chair by her desk. "Thanks," she mumbled and began to tuck in, not minding her manners in the slightest. Tom noticed and felt tempted to roll his eyes, but refrained.
"You're too impulsive sometimes, you know that?" he asked after a minute or so of hearing her eat the food like an animal starved of sustenance. "If you hadn't attacked Billy like that, none of this would've happened."
"So, what?" Harry shrugged and took another spoonful. "He was practically asking for it."
"Does that mean that you asked for getting sent to your room without supper?" Tom asked rhetorically, causing her to abruptly pause as she ate. She stayed frozen like that for a few seconds before she looked up at him, something akin to concern on her face.
"Was this your food?" she asked, to which he shrugged.
"Don't mention it," But suddenly he found the bowl reached out to him with the spoon still in it.
"Here," she said. "I've eaten half of it. You can take the rest."
Though the gesture was oddly appreciated, he shook his head and waved his hand dismissively. "I'd rather not risk getting contaminated with anything you're inflicted with," he said, a smirk curling up on his lips.
"Hey!" she called. "I'm not sick or anything. You won't die. You're not going to bed hungry even if I have to feed you myself!"
Tom sighed and prepared to face her. "I already told you, there's no need for—" But before he could finish, a spoonful of porridge entered his mouth and he found himself choking for a couple of seconds, coughing and feeling some of the porridge get stuck into his throat. By the time he managed to return to normal, his breath composed, he turned to the Potter girl and found her grinning mischievously at him.
"I told you," she said with a shrug.
"Highly unnecessary," Despite his annoyance with her, Tom proceeded to grab the bowl from her hands and into his own. The Potter girl continued to grin at him, much to his dismay. "You truly are a nuisance when you want to be," he muttered.
She didn't look offended, however. "I'll take that as a compliment."
"But I'm curious about something," He found himself saying, looking at the Potter girl from the corner of his eyes, fiddling with the bowl in his hands without really touching any of it. "Why did you get so irritated with Billy today? He's always like that, but for some reason, you seemed particularly exasperated with him today. Why is that?"
The Potter girl's eyes fell to the floor and she hesitated for a moment before she said, "I hear the other children talk about how my parents left me on the doorsteps as an infant, but this time, he mentioned your mother. That was the drop of it."
Tom was incapable of explaining how he felt about what he had just heard, about the Potter girl being angered on his behalf. He wasn't affected in any way whenever someone brought up his past in the orphanage, about his mother or the way she died. However, hearing that Harry, the closest thing he had to a companion at that wretched place, say that made him feel slightly…. Unnerved. "So, in other words," he began and looked directly at her, even though she didn't look at him. "You were angry because he mentioned me in his lines of insults?"
Begrudged, she nodded.
She shot up and stared incredulously at him. "What do you mean by 'how idiotic'?" she asked him angrily. "I was trying to help you!"
Unfazed with her temper, Tom merely shrugged and took a spoonful of the porridge. "You only caused problems for yourself. Continue like that and you might as well earn yourself a month in containment in here."
"I'll add that to my list, then, you prat!"
He didn't respond, but for some reason, he chuckled. "Silly girl."
Harry, despite her anger, started to laugh as well.