Disclaimer: Harry Potter, much as I want it, belongs to JKR. The song S.O.S belongs to the band Off With Their Heads.

Author's Note: This was written for the Hideaway, about an HP character witnessing a death. I chose Tom Riddle. This was originally part of a much longer fiction, but I realized I would never be able to finish in time, so I just chose the first part. So, read on, and be sure to tell me what you think!

-:-

You don't know struggle.
You don't know sorrow.
You don't know what its like
to have to watch somebody die

8 June, 1931

"Tom!" A young, thin woman calls out. Obviously a volunteer. Her hair isn't even pulled back like the large, matronly women Tom has grown to trust. It's bounces around her shoulders, irritating him as she carries him on her hip, which is bony and uncomfortable. He whines noncommitaly, and she cooes at him in such a sweet way it almost makes him gag. But he can't, because he's only three years old and doesn't know how.

The young, pretty volunteer takes him to his room and sits him on the floor.

"Now Tom," she begins, "I need you to pick up your toys for me, okay? Be a good boy and pick up your toys."

Oh, but that's no fun, he thinks. I don't want to. Besides, it's not that big a job. I only have five measley toys. Some ugly old second hand plastic cars and a ripped up teddy bear. Why don't you do it?

But he can't talk yet, so instead he lifts himself up and toddles over to the window. The woman is after him in an instant.

"No, no, Tom, no, no. Toys first. Then window!" she says, a bright, cheery smile springing up on her face. Why can't she understand that he doesn't want to? Picking up his stupid toys reminds him of how little he has, because it doesn't even take him five minutes to toss them in the box at the foot of his bed. No, you do it.

So don't pretend to act like you know me,
and pick apart a mind you don't understand.
The book is long,
descriptive and haunting.
It's full of sentences you can't comprehend.

"Nooo," he whimpers, and as if he had uttered some secret code he's sitting on her hip again, and now he really starts to cry, because he hates being carried. Oh, he hates it, why can't she put him down!

"Doooown," he moans into her shoulder. "Doooown." And now she's soothing him, which is almost as irritating, but at least she's bending down and picking up his teddy bear.

"Here, here," she says, pushing it torward him. "I'll give it to you, and you put it away."

He agrees quickly, because he wants so badly to go to the window. A robin is perched there, and if he looks hard enough he can see that she's built her nest in the window box, and there are tiny little robin babies there and he really wants to see them. One little robin is chirping and it's body is quivering and Tom is worried it's sick.

You don't know struggle.
You don't know sorrow.
You don't know what its like
to watch somebody die.

He and the pretty volunteer finish the job quickly and easily, but all the while he's staring at the little robin, because its wing is flapping and it's beak is shaking and it looks horrible.

"There, now, aren't you glad we've finished cleaning up that yucky mess?" The woman asks him, but he's already hurried over to the window, and now he can see better, the little robin's nest. It's made of straw and yarn and grass and the mummy robin is sitting in the middle with he babies all around her. Three of the little babies look fine and they're eating something their mother brought home for them, but the other is different. It's entire body is shaking and it looks as if any minute it's going to fall out of the carefully constructed nest.

The pretty volunteer is suddenly standing beside him.

"Look at the nice birdies," she says, trying to share his curiousity. But he only whimpers and points to the sick bird, silently asking her what was wrong.

So don't pretend to act like you know me,
and pick apart a mind you don't understand.
The book is long,
descriptive and haunting.
It's full of sentences you can't comprehend.

"Oh, the birdie's sick!" she says, and he can hear sadness in her voice, but also acceptance, because, pretty though she may be, she's still a grown-up, and grown-ups accept things like poor, sick birds.

The little bird is still shaking. It lurches over, and he's sure it's going to fall over the edge, but it doesn't, and he breathes a sigh of relief. The pretty volunteer pats him on the shoulder and tries to pry him from the window ledge, but he won't budge. The baby bird is still shaking. Still shaking...

And suddenly it topples. It flips over the edge of the nest and falls downward. He gasps and tears come to his eyes.

So what's it like to have that comfort
to know you'll always be covered,
and to know someone will be there?
I've never had that comfort
or enjoyed the luxuries of being covered.
So night after night, after night, after night, after night, after night,
I'll be staying up late.
I'll be fighting off the shakes
and puking out the window,
repressing things you can never know.

"Oh, poor thing," the pretty volunteer murmurs, and lifts him up again. "Come on, it's almost time for dinner."

"Noooo!" He moans, and struggles from her grasp. "Noooo!"

"Tom!" Her voice is decisive. "It's only a bird. Let's go eat."

"Biiiird," he cries, tears falling from his eyes.

"I'm going to call the Headmistriss!" she threatens, and he only cries harder, because he doesn't want her to call the Headmistriss, she'll make him sit in the lonely corner.

"Biiiird," he cries again, and the pretty volunteer is gone from the room, and Tom knows she's getting the Headmistriss, but he doesn't care right now, he only cares about the poor little dead bird.

Dead.

He's never used that word before. He's heard the older ladies talk about people dying, but he'd never really known about death.

And now he did.

He had watched death. Watched it grip an innocent bird.

Not fair.

The words echoed in his head, the words of the other children from the play area. Not fair! Johnny, it's my turn! Helen took it from me! Not fair!

A dead bird. That's what wasn't fair.

"Tom."

The headmistress is here. He hears her heels click-clacking against the hard floor, the jingle of her necklaces as they swing from her neck. "Tom, why are you crying?"

He runs to her. "Bird," he says simply, enveloped in the folds of her dress, and the warm scent of her heavy perfume. The pretty volunteer explains everything to her, and she listens without saying a word.

"I told you he was our hardest child, I didn't expect you to handle him perfectly," she says, and before he can work out what she means she's pulling him from the safe confines of her dress and picking him up even though she knows that he loathes it and leaning him over the window.

"Tom, the bird is dead," she tells him, and he sees the tiny bird, so small on the cold, unforgiving ground. And he starts to cry again.

"Biiiird."

I'll be staying up late.
I'll be fighting off the shakes
and puking out the window,
repressing things you can never know