Epilogue Birth of a Legend

The wind was blowing in Merope's face faster than she could handle it. There were very few leaves left on the trees as winter was soon approaching. The temperature was frigid and the ground just as old. If she didn't come across someplace to stay soon, Merope was afraid she would freeze to death.

She never looked back but kept moving forward. Step by step she would find a refuge. Even if it took her last breath, she would give birth to the child in her womb if it was the last thing she did. This child was her future; she would live through him.

Looking up from the ground, she found herself in a small town. She hadn't been walking aimlessly; she knew where she was going. She headed toward one of the smaller buildings at a quicker pace. She had to get there. She walked faster and faster until her knees gave out and she found herself lying on the cold and dirty ground.

She forced herself to get up, knowing it was her only hope. She only had a few more streets to pass and she would be there. She had to keep her hopes up and continue moving. After only a couple minutes, she stopped to catch her breath. She began to feel woozy as she looked all around her and sat down on the ground for support. By this time she was chilled to the bone, but she had to keep moving.

She got up and headed toward the building. As she climbed up the stairs she slipped and found herself for the third time on the cold ground. Except this time, she couldn't get up. She was too tired and her muscles had given out on her.

Within the small building there was some rustling. Merope knew there was someone inside. She knew they would help her. She slowly turned her head to be facing the door. Above it, she read a rugged wooden sign that said, 'Orphanage.'

The door opened.

"May I help-" The elderly lady looked down at young Merope sitting helplessly on the stone steps. "My dear, please come inside. Come sit by the fire and put on some warm, clean clothes. Why the thought of someone in your condition outside on this type of night…"

Merope was helped up by two girls barely younger than herself. She was just happy to have made it.

- - - - - - - -

The sun was shining in England. She just came back from her trip, and had no where to go. For the past week she had been living off the money she had leftover from the train ticket, but that was gone now. She had nothing left.

She stood up from the bench she had been sitting on previously. Her feet burned as they touched the hot ground. She sold her shoes the day previously to pay for a room to stay in. They barely covered the cost, but they did.

While walking around the streets, she looked around her. It was nice to be home even if it did bring back some bad memories. She still hadn't visited any magical folk, but instead had mingled with the Muggles. She would visit them when she was down to nothing. She still had a little left in her yet.

Merope passed shops and stores of various kinds until she came across the market where she had been heading. There was fruit, vegetables, fresh meat, and every other mouth-watering food just lying out on the carts. As she walked by she would pick up something and put it in her bag. She did that several times until she reached the far end of the market. She was almost done when she head someone behind her.

"THIEF!"

She didn't even wait for more. She simply started running as fast as her legs would carry her. There was no where for her to go, but that didn't stop her. She just continued running and running. She ran until there was no where else to go. When she finally stopped to catch her breath, she took a glance behind her. There was no one following her anymore so she knew she was safe.

She pulled a banana from her bag and began peeling it. The first bite was heaven in her mouth and it just kept getting better. As she continued to eat it, she looked around to where she had run to. She was at the dead end of an alleyway. Not much natural light got through, but there was a streetlight right near she was standing to keep her from wallowing in darkness.

She sat down on the ground and leaned her back up against the brick wall of the building next to her. It felt like she hadn't slept in days. Despite it being the middle of the day, she closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep. She was content knowing that she had enough food now to last her through the day.

- - - - - - -

"Why don't you drink some of this tea, ma'am? It'll warm you right up."

Merope took the tea in her numb hands and began to drink it slowly. She had been moved into the orphanage living room and was now sitting in a comfy chair next to the fire. She could hear moving about upstairs. Apparently they were putting a room together for her.

She sat in her chair with blankets wrapped around her staring into the fire. The flames looked so warm and inviting. They were jumping around as if having a party. She didn't remember the last time she felt that happy.

She continued to sit there by the warmth of the fire until she felt a huge pain in her lower abdomen. She dropped her tea to the ground and scrunched up her body while squeezing her stomach with her hands. She tried to conceal her pain, but in vain yelled out.

"Aaah! Eee! FFFFF!"

She made many odd noises before the older woman ran into the room.

"Get her upstairs! Hurry!"

- - - - - - - - -

She was about five months pregnant now. Her belly was showing through the baggy shirts she wore. To some she might just be over-weight, but to the man standing across the street she was pregnant.

This was the first time she had run into Tom since he left her. She hadn't heard one word from him since. After all she had gone through; there he was safe and sound standing just across the street from her.

He looked well off. It seemed he had gotten even more money since she last saw him. She guessed his father had given it to him. She was still glad to see he was healthy.

She continued walking along the street acting as if she hadn't seen him. He began walking again also, moving in a way to show he wasn't alone. Attached to his back hand was Sara, who was looking gorgeous in the sunlight. Sara obviously hadn't noticed anything as she continued to shop.

Merope's heart sunk. She had guessed such, but seeing it still came to a surprise to her. She froze and just stared over at the couple.

She watched as Sara noticed her presence. She saw as Sara whispered something in Tom's ear and he whispered back. They continued like this until Tom nodded and tried to catch Merope's eye. When he knew she was watching he took something out of his pocket and placed it on the table next to him. He nodded again as a final goodbye and walked away with Sara still attached to his hand.

Taking the hint, Merope walked over to the table where Tom had previously been standing by and grabbed what he had left behind. It was money. There wasn't much there, but it was enough to last her at least a week. She knew some of this was probably Sara's work, but it was still Tom's final decision. She knew there was at least a little left of the gentleman she had first fell in love with.

Holding the money in her hand, Merope knew what she was going to do with it. Whether or not she would starve for the rest of the month, she would have a feast tonight.

- - - - - - - - - - -

Merope was now lying down in a lumpy bed with the two young women working hurriedly around her. She only had a light sheet on her now, but she was still burning up. She could feel the sweat drip down her face and she lay there helplessly. She was tired and sore all over. She was just ready for it to end.

She couldn't even tell how long she had been there. She fluctuated in and out of consciousness continuously. Her mind was spinning and her face contorted. She was in more pain then she had been in her whole life, but she knew she had to make it. She had to survive this for her child.

She continued to lay there in pain for what seemed like days but was only moments. She just lay there without a sound waiting for the time to come. She wished time would just fast forward.

"Ahhh! Guuuuhhhh! Eee!" she yelled again as another burst of pain exploded.

"This is it girls!" the elderly lady yelled as she ran into the room to help the two younger ones. "Here it comes!"

- - - - - - - - -

Merope entered her father's house. It had been months since she was here. It seemed like it had been months since anyone was here. There was a layer of dust covering everything and there was an awful smell coming from the kitchen.

Merope didn't know why there was no one living in the house, but she didn't question it. It was probably better this way. Now she didn't have to worry about being quiet.

Her first stop was the kitchen, but she found no luck in there. Everything that was left was either rotten or moldy. There really was nothing left to the home she once lived in.

She walked up the stairs carefully and into her childhood bedroom. She hadn't come here without reason; she was looking for something particular. It seemed she wasn't the only one who had done so, as her whole room was in ruins. All the drawers were opened and her bed undone. Her stuff was everywhere, but she knew what she was looking for would still be there.

She opened up the window to let in a breeze and crawled outside onto a layer of roof. This feat was much easier months earlier, but she knew she had to do it. She crawled over to slightly the left of her window and lifted up the shingle she had come to know so well. Beneath it was the locket she had been looking for. When she put it here she didn't think she would ever need it back, but it seemed she was wrong.

She climbed back into her bedroom and took one last glance around. There was nothing left in there of any value and even her clothes had been taken. Apparently she wasn't the only one who needed money. She walked over and sat down on the wooden frame of what was once her bed.

Merope opened up her palm to reveal the locket she had just taken. On the outside it held the crest of Slytherin. She knew it had to be worth something. All she needed was enough to last her until the baby was born. She would think about afterward when it happened.

Making a thorough check of the locket, she found many scratches upon its back and the chain was almost ruined. She just hoped she could get some money from it.

Taking her last glance around, she walked slowly out of the room and down the stairs. She continued walking until she was out of the house and down the road. She had no plans of ever returning to that place. It was no longer her home.

- - - - - - -

"It's a son," the elderly lady stated as Merope came back into consciousness.

Merope reached out her arms to hold the young child and gave the women a smile. "Heh," she said, talking for the first time that night. "I just hope-" she took several breaths before continuing, "he looks like his father."

It took everything she had to talk to the ladies in the room, but her joy was beyond pain and sorrow. Even if she was never happy again, she would always have this moment.

"What are you going to name him?" one of the younger girls asked.

Merope looked into the eyes of her new born and said in reply, "Tom, after his father…" She again had to several breaths before continuing, "Marvolo after…mine." She closed here eyes and took a few more breaths. "And his surname…will be…Riddle."

She lay there breathing slowly for many moments before giving her son one last squeeze. She then, took her final breath as her soul left her.

Picking up the child from his mother's arms, the elderly woman added, "What a sweet girl. I hope she is happy."

As her soul drifted off to its final resting place, Merope's sad life came to an end. Despite being one striving for love, her new son would become the one that tried to prevent it. It was a sad end, but a necessary one, as it led to the birth of a new legend.