Five Things That Never Happened To Tom Marvolo Riddle
Rating: G, gen
Author's Note: One of the things Tom Riddle never did (but should have done) was meet Door from Neverwhere at Milliways (a panfandom RPG at ). Through playing Tom at Milliways, I met Gehayi, who inspired this fic when she wondered what would have happened if Tom had been sorted into Ravenclaw. Special thanks to Aspen for the beta and to Lynette who helped make Tom even more special to me.
Today was Tom Riddle's eleventh birthday, but he didn't expect anything very exciting to occur. His birthdays tended to be downplayed in the manor house. Oh, he would have a birthday cake, and his grandparents might actually acknowledge his existence for a change and present him with a book or two. He was usually called into his father's study at some point to have a chat. His father was a dour man, and he had never had much time for his son, but Tom didn't mind overly much.
Tom never considered himself to be lonely. The servants were friendly to him, and he enjoyed the company of his tutors. He had access to all the books in the library and could explore the house and grounds to his heart's content, as long as he stayed out of sight.
He knew that his father's family had not cared for his mother, but he didn't know why. He also knew that his father's family did not care for him much as a result, but he was the only heir and was accepted enough.
Soon he'd be off to Eton, and he looked forward to meeting school chums and learning more. One day he would be someone very important. He would do great things, and he would make his father proud of him.
Around noon the butler came to Tom's room.
"Master Tom, your father would like a word with you."
"Yes, Browning, I thought he might," said Tom, putting down the Latin primer he'd been studying.
"Happy birthday, Master Tom," said the older man as Tom followed him down the stairs.
"Thank you, Browning." Tom smiled. He liked talking with the servants, even though he tried to always remember to act appropriately around them. He'd been scolded soundly once by his grandmother for playing with one of the stable boys.
Tom quietly entered his father's study and stood stiffly by the door, waiting for his father to give him permission to sit. He quickly realized that there was another person in the study besides his father – a most outlandish character, by the look of it. He glanced from his father's angry face to the man dressed in long flowing robes and wearing a long, auburn beard.
Tom's father cleared his throat. "Come in, Tom. Sit down."
Tom did as he was told. He was worried now. His father was often brusque with him and sometimes even cold, but never angry.
"This gentleman," his father said, indicating the strange man, "is Albus Dumbledore. He has a letter for you." He spoke the word letter in the same way he'd say disease.
"Hello, Tom," said Albus, his eyes kind. "It's very good to meet you. I knew your mother well – she was one of my best students once upon a time." He handed the letter to Tom.
"My mother?" said Tom, looking at the letter. "Please, what's going on here?" Something was not right. The mere mention of his mother was never allowed in the house.
"Read the letter, Tom," said the man kindly. "Then I'll try and explain."
"Alright," said Tom, and he opened the parchment colored envelope and drew out the letter. He read it once, and then reread, trying to puzzle out the meaning of the words. "I don't… I don't understand. Father, is this a birthday joke?"
His father glared at him. "No, it most certainly is not. Your mother - " and he spat the word, "was a witch. I had hoped you'd escaped that taint. It would appear you did not."
A concerned look flashed across the older man's face. "Mr. Riddle, I assure you that the feelings you have are, while unfortunate, not uncommon. Sometimes time is needed to-"
"Thank you, sir," snarled Mr. Riddle. "I've had plenty of time to think about this." He turned to Tom, "You have been chosen to attend the same school your mother went to."
"But I'm set down for Eton," said Tom, baffled.
"That's out of the question," said Mr. Riddle, shuffling papers on his desk, not looking at his son. "You'll be leaving here immediately. Mr. Dumbledore will arrange lodging for you, I'm sure, until your school begins. You'll not be coming here again."
"But… Father, I'm sorry, I'll-" said Tom, tears pricking in his eyes.
"Be quiet!" shouted Mr. Riddle. "There's no hope for you now. You'll be disinherited – there is no way I'll allow you to be my heir now. I will provide you with some annual monies until you come of age, as I am not a heartless man. Now, both of you, good afternoon. Browning!"
The butler appeared. "Please escort Tom back to his room and send up a valet to help him pack. My other guest can wait for him in the foyer."
"Very good, sir," said Browning. Tom followed him back to his room, lost and confused. He was in too much shock to understand exactly what was happening. Words from the letter reeled through his mind. Hogwarts, witchcraft, wizardry…
An hour later, with two trunks full of his possessions Tom stood in the foyer with the strange old man who now wore a sad, grave expression.
"All packed then, Tom?" said Albus. "I'm sorry this happened, my boy. We had feared it would be so."
Tom said nothing. What was there to say?
"Have you ever noticed strange things happening around you, Tom? Funny things, when you were angry or scared?"
Tom nodded his head yes.
"Your mother was a very powerful witch," said Albus. "She would be happy to know you got your letter. She loved you very much. Your father never told you about her?"
Tom shook his head no. It was easier to not talk.
Albus came over to the silent boy and placed a hand on his head. "Tom, there is nothing I can do to make you feel better about your situation, but I can show you your new world. It is one of wonder. And in it, you will find people who love and accept you for who you are."
Looking up into the wizard's kind face, Tom nodded his head and said, "I'd like to meet them."
Tom Riddle's eleventh birthday came and went with nothing of note happening. Birthdays weren't celebrated in the orphanage.
His twelfth birthday also came and went with nothing of note happening, as did his thirteenth, and his fourteenth, and his fifteenth. On his sixteenth birthday, he was shown to the door of the orphanage and told that he was old enough to make his way on his own.
Tom was a smart boy and an ambitious one. He participated in several business enterprises, some on the up and up, most not. He became allies with a certain number of powerful colleagues and became overlord of several less powerful ones. He knew how to use his charm and his ruthlessness, and he became very successful very quickly. His name was one to be feared amongst a certain tier of the London populace.
Because he was smart, he never got caught. He ran a vast underworld empire and enjoyed every minute of it. He wasn't out of his thirties yet, and he was on top of the world.
One night while walking to his sleek, expensive car after a most delightful visit with one of his sleek, expensive mistresses, he saw an owl swoop past him. He thought he saw a roll of parchment tied to its talon.
The strange sight gave him gooseflesh and deep within him, he remembered something that had never happened. He shook his head and kept walking. But the sensation of missing out on - or never knowing - something life changing and important stayed with him for days.
When Tom Riddle received the letter to Hogwarts, he was overjoyed. Finally, he had an escape from the narrowing confines of the orphanage.
He was sorted into Ravenclaw, and he began excelling in ways he'd never dreamed of. He'd always known he was different, but he'd thought it was because of his intelligence. Now friends who were extremely bright in their own right surrounded him. They challenged each other, competing in a friendly - but serious - way to be the best. Tom easily passed them in these challenges.
One day, in his sixth year, Tom received special permission to research a Defense Against the Dark Arts project in the Restricted Section. He had always wanted access to the forbidden books. He allowed himself the opportunity to wander the aisles first, randomly picking volumes to peruse. Some of the ones he chose were covered in the dust of years gone by. Tom could almost hear these books calling to him, wishing him to know their secrets.
Several hours later, Tom came to the last of the stack of books. It was a tiny book that had been stuck into a nook, as if it had been hidden there. It had no title, but when he opened it, he saw words scrolling magically into shape in front of his eyes.
"Regarding the Chamber of Secrets, intended for the eyes of my Heir" read the words, and Tom's skin broke out in gooseflesh. His eyes widened and he literally drank the words down as he read about a destiny he'd never thought possible.
That was the night everything changed for Tom Marvolo Riddle. Ravenclaws were never looked at the same way again.
In the winter of 1932, the orphanage was hit by an influenza outbreak. Many of the younger boys were stricken and several died. Amongst the dead was one quiet inmate who was avoided by the other children, and by many of the adults as well. Little Tom Riddle was a strange child. Unusual things seemed to occur in his presence, and some of the other children swore he'd been seen talking to a snake once. But he was only five, and for all his oddities, he was a charming lad, when he wanted to be. He was also very bright for his age. Neither of these fine qualities protected him in the end.
As he lay dying, one nurse in particular watched over him, devoting as much time as she could to easing his suffering. He asked so politely for glasses of water, and had such a grave, solemn manner that she found it hard to leave his side. It was almost as if she were compelled to give extra care to the child. She sat with him in the night when he writhed in fever-induced delirium, calling for his mummy and flailing against nightmare visions.
The nurse thought she saw something very odd the night before he finally succumbed to his illness. He was thrashing about in his bed, mumbling and making strange hissing noises, when she saw the vase of the flowers on the bedside float into the air and then come crashing down again. Little Tom sat up suddenly, his eyes wide from his fever dreams and shakily asked if she was his mummy. She forgot all about the vase. She took him in her arms, cradling him until he fell back into a peaceful sleep.
It was the most kindness anyone had ever shown him, though she couldn't have known it, and his last hours were made bearable as a result. When he closed his eyes for the last time, the nurse cried and clipped a lock of his hair to remember him by.
Julia Marvolo died alone and frightened, cast out by her family and abandoned by her husband. Her child was nearly lost as well, - he'd already been sent to a Muggle orphanage by the time Albus Dumbledore and the Magical Brethren's Children's Society tracked him down. Little Tom was rescued in the nick of time. An upstanding family hand-picked by Dumbledore himself adopted him.
Tom Marvolo Goodwyn grew up happy and loved in a comfortable, but not opulent, home. He knew about his mother, and when he was old enough, he was told about his father. While he was curious about the man, he had no desire to meet him. After all, he had a father, the best one any boy could ask for.
When he received his Hogwarts letter, he thought the time would never pass quickly enough before he could begin. He was sorted into Hufflepuff, and he commenced to become one of the most notable students that house ever produced. In fact, he became one of the most notable students in Hogwarts history, period. He was incredibly bright and was often teased by the Ravenclaws for not being sorted into their house. He was as charming and well liked as any of the Gryffindors. He was even befriended by many of the Slytherin students, because he was not judgmental, and he had ambition to equal their own, even if his methods of obtaining his goals were quite different.
His last year of school, he was Head Boy, and an extremely popular one at that. He left Hogwarts at about the same time the Dark wizard Grindelwald was defeated, in part by Tom's favorite teacher and mentor, Albus Dumbledore. The Ministry snapped him up right after school, giving him an important job within the Department of International Magical Cooperation. He rose quickly through the ranks. His innate charm, matched with his intelligence, drive, fierce loyalty, and sense of fairness lead him to his most dearly desired goal. On the eve of his thirtieth birthday, Tom became the youngest Minister of Magic in the history of the Wizarding world.
While it was not effortless to serve, and he had to deal with very vocal opponents for the first time, Tom enjoyed every moment of his job. He married a wonderful woman, an old friend from school, after a highly publicized courtship. They raised three children over the course of his term, which continued on year after year as he was appointed over and over again.
The time he was in office was one of the most peaceful in history, mainly due to his campaign to weed out Dark wizards and their supporters the world over. He also succeeded in building bridges between the factions of Wizarding England. This achievement was unlike any that previous Ministers had managed. His efforts didn't always succeed as well as he hoped, but he tried as hard as he could.
He was a very lucky man. Blessed, even. But there were long nights when troublesome events kept him from sleep, and it was at those times in the dark of the night that his thoughts would wander down disturbing paths. What would have happened had he not been rescued by Dumbledore as an infant? Who would he have become, had it not been for his adopted family? The alternatives he'd dwell upon made him shudder, because deep down, he knew there had always been a potential for him to do terrible, but great, things. The knowledge that he was the Heir of Slytherin was a fact he kept in strictest confidence. Only Albus, his wife, and his parents knew the truth. He could have been the most powerful Dark wizard the world had ever known.
But he wasn't. He would never be. For that he was greatly thankful.