If Only Life Were Like This
By Josh McCusker
A/N: This story is so unbelievably different than when it started. I will admit to being a very annoying writer when it comes to certain things. Projects like this are tedious to those trying to follow along because my mind goes through so many variations of the story that sometimes I find myself unable to complete what I originally started out with. For those of you who are returning to the story, I apologize and thank you for bearing with me. For those of you new to it, I thank you for your expected patience! As always, reviews, flames and general comments are always welcome. As I have no one beta reading for me, any mistakes are also welcome. Enjoy!
The Riddle House
The small town of Little Hangleton was in high spirits as the summer rolled across the gentle roads and homes of the small eastern town. The wealthiest family in town was throwing a huge party to celebrate the announcement of their first grandchild and, in the excitement they had invited everyone they knew to attend.
It hadn't been long ago that the village had despised the Riddle family. As of late, since their son met and wed one of the town's own, things had changed. Suddenly the Riddle family took on an air of friendliness and warmth. Their impeccably kept manor was now the center of social events for the village and many a night was spent at lavish parties thrown by the mistress of the house. No expense was spared in the wooing of the village by both the elder Mrs. Riddle and the younger, and the town was all the better for it.
This particular party was expected to be the event to top all previous parties. One of the younger maids, less tight-lipped about the affairs of the family and house Riddle let slip that the house had already been decked to the nines with the most expensive décor and it was believed that Mr. Riddle had even gone to the extreme of hiring a fireworks display.
The more that time weaved its merry tapestry, the more the stories grew.
There was only one person who seemed less thrilled about the party than the rest of the village; Mr. Frank Bryce was not a social gentleman. His wife was the only exception to this, as after the war he had taken to himself and kept his life confined to the estate where he worked. It so happened to be that Frank was the gardener at the Riddle House, and his only thoughts on the party were how much damage would be done to the gardens.
Today he was tying up some of the more delicate of the bushes and flowers, trying his best to have them looking presentable whilst being able to withstand the traffic of the entire village. Muttering to himself as he worked, even he couldn't darken the mood today. The sun itself seemed determined to shine especially bright on the manor, and the newly painted white clapboards gave the house such a warm glow as to make everyone feel that much more excited.
It was this reason why there was a minor shock when the front door to the manor, an elegantly stained heavy wooden door with ornate carvings and a gold knocker, was thrust open so violently that the crack of it hitting the interior wall echoed through the gardens and even caused Frank Bryce to look up. He quickly averted his gaze as he saw the lady of the house coming out, tears streaming down her beautiful young face.
"Tom, please, you don't understand," she pleaded as she turned to face someone inside the house. She was pulling a white handkerchief from her sleeve and dabbing at the tears as she spoke. "It's not what you think –"
"Do not speak of it. Never speak of it again, my lady." Tom's voice was almost as cold as the look upon his face as he emerged into the sunlight. His countenance was so contrast to the day that it seemed almost horribly coincidental that a cloud chose this moment to cover the sun's light and cast shadow on the whole of Little Hangleton. A single tear shed from his eye and he ignored it as he continued. "What you speak of is heresy and I will have nothing to do with it. Leave this place and never return."
Before the lady could speak further, he stepped backward into the house and closed the door with a very permanent snap of the lock.
The lady, who was dressed in a very elegant white dress, turned and began to head towards the road still trying to restrain the tears with her handkerchief.
Inside the manor, Tom Riddle had broken down into a heap on the floor and looked as though his world had come to an end. The pained look on his face was so different to his stony one so recent that the man standing in the shadow in the parlor almost wondered if his mission could be any easier. As if taking the nearly silent sobbing of his target as a sign, he stepped forward into the light of the foyer and aimed his wand at the desperate man before him.
"Tom Riddle," he announced, shocking the young man into attention and ending the sobbing.
"Who the bloody hell are you," Tom said quickly, standing and looking for all the world like he wished the man before him would kill him.
"My name is unimportant, Mr. Riddle. What I have come for is most dire, however. If you would please come with me and sit, I will explain everything." Tom looked for a moment like he wouldn't follow, but he did so and sat in a chair by the hollow fireplace. He looked ready to speak, but the white-blond man cut him off. "Mr. Riddle, you have just set into action a series of events that will lead to a long, angry war. Due to your prejudice, your son will grow to hate you and all your kind. His hatred will burgeon into a nearly insane desire to eliminate all muggles. I have come to stop this from happening."
Tom had heard so much today that was contrary to everything he'd been taught as a child, and the idea that this man was from the future only seemed to follow along with everything so well that he didn't even raise his eyebrows at the notion. Instead, he smiled and looked at the portrait of his mother that sat on the mantle, wishing for all the world that the elder Riddles were not in London at that moment.
"Has the whole world gone insane?" he asked no one in particular. "I'm sorry, sir, but I find this all rather hard to imagine." He looked down into the man's icy grey eyes and continued. "You come at a very inopportune time, and I believe it would be best if you leave." He made to stand, as if to show him out, but the blond man pointed the wand at him again and said something under his breath. A cool sensation flooded over his body and he realized he couldn't move. It wasn't quite like being frozen, but he was paralyzed none the less.
"Mr. Riddle, your wife is going to die during childbirth. Witch or not, she will not be able to care for your son. Because of your refusal to honor your wife and son, he will grow to hate you and resent you. He will murder hundreds of people and, most importantly, all of my friends. I have studied years and gone through many hardships to be able to come here, and if you believe I will leave without succeeding, you are very much mistaken."
The man's voice was set, even and controlled and Tom recognized someone of breeding instantly, being one himself. He found that he could indeed speak, and so he did. "Sir, you are obviously of breeding and must understand. My family would never be respected if it were to come out that my wife was a practicing worshipper of the devil. We would be cast out from society and scorned for our embracing her wicked ways. Her child is nothing more than the result of a spell she cast over me to steal our fortune and recruit us into her cult. I cannot –"
"Mr. Riddle, do not be so seriously misinformed. Your wife is not a worshipper of the devil, nor has she cast any sort of love spell on you; they are illegal and she would have been arrested immediately had it been discovered."
"How could you know? Are you also a witch?"
"No sir, I am a wizard. I am also an Auror, which is the equivalent of one of your police, and thus I know quite a lot about our laws." The man seemed to recognize the look of disbelief on Tom's face, for he answered a blossoming question before it was raised. "Yes, we have laws of our own. Our society is quite better than yours in a lot of respects, though not entirely dissimilar. The only true difference between muggles and wizards and witches is that we are magical and you are not."
The man stood and began to pace, speaking as he walked the length of the room. "Your knowledge of our kind is distorted by a history that is falsified by men who knew nothing of the truth and wished only to further their own goals. Most of us do not worship the devil, though I will not deny that some of us have no belief in your gods either. As with your kind, ours is quite diverse on the matter and thus it is up to an individual to make their own conclusions. Your wife is quite a powerful witch from a very prominent family. You are quite lucky to have gained her affections, and I would say that turning her out before evening understanding the situation was quite barbaric and ungentlemanly of you." Tom snorted and the man cast a menacing gaze at him. "She may be a witch, sir, but she is also a lady."
The man sat back in the chair and gave Tom such a heartfelt gaze that it wasn't a surprise when he spoke continued in a softer, more honest tone. "I grew up believing that you lot were pathetic and cruel, ignorant and worth less than cattle. Your son would see you all burned or enslaved, and the world rid of you. I have come to believe that we are actually quite the same, and that even our magic is not so different than your technology. That even the most ignorant muggle is worth something to us. It has taken me a long time to come to my senses, but I cannot afford you that time yourself. It is most important that you rectify this with your wife and care for your son. You must raise him properly, for he will be one of the most powerful wizards in all of history. It is you who decides whether he will be a good or bad one."
Tom looked taken aback and uncertain, but there was something in his eyes that gave the impression that not all had been lost on him. The blond man seemed to relax a little and released the muggle from his bind.
"We have a lot to discuss and you have a lot of questions. Let us get comfortable." With a flick of his wand, a tea set appeared on the coffee table, silver platter and delicate china more elegant than that which Tom's mother used for the best company. The steam coming from the pot was giving off a rich smell and teasing Tom's senses. Another flick brought cakes and crumpets and Tom barely blinked when another flick brought richly woven linens. "Do eat up," the man said, settling back in his chair with a grin.