The Creation of Evil

II

On one bright Monday in mid-March, the orphanage was ablaze with excitement. Somebody was coming in today. A rich, powerful man and his young wife wanted a second child. Their daughter was ten years old, and the couple wanted her to have a playmate around her own age. Tom had just turned eight.

At four o'clock, the children crowded around the front hall, dressed in their least ragged clothing, hair brushed as smooth as possible. The couple entered, looking grand in fine silks and furs, and their young daughter skipped beside them, dressed in a soft pink velvet dress. The orphans bowed and curtsied, smiling sweetly in hopes that they would be chosen.

Ms. Nethrop, the head of the orphanage, swept down the stairs in an old, worn-out blue gown, grey hair piled up and held in place with a comb which was missing three pearls.

Tom rolled his eyes. The obvious pretentiousness of Ms. Nethrop and the other children was sickening. They were just rich, probably born into money, as the husband looked rather dull. Ms. Nethrop greeted the couple cordially.

"Sir Edward, pleasure to meet you," she said airily, "do any of my children catch your eye?"

Sir Edward shrugged a bit, and his wife answered for him:

"We thought that maybe dear Emmeline would like to talk to the children, see which one she'd like to have as a brother or sister."

She turned towards ten-year-old Emmeline, who nodded, smiling, and skipped towards the group of children.

"Bonjour!" she said brightly, "Which one of you wants to be adopted?"

Every child, excluding Tom, raised their hand and began talking to Emmeline.

"Hey!" Emmeline stuck her hands on her narrow hips. The group ceased the talking and looked guilty.

"What about you?" Emmeline asked, turning to Tom, "Would you like to be adopted?"

Tom glared at her. How dare she? How dare this rude, pretentious girl address him? Obviously he didn't want to be adopted by this family, this showy, ostentatious family. Who would want to become a playmate of this girl anyway? She wasn't nice, she seemed quite bossy, and her dress was…on fire?

Tom blinked hard. How had her dress caught fire?

Suddenly, Emmeline screamed.

"Mummy! Mummy, Daddy, it hurts!"

Sir Edward and his wife started towards their daughter, but stopped short as their clothing caught fire, also. The trio screamed and swatted at the flames, and Ms. Nethrop yelped and grabbed for the water-pitcher, throwing some, first on the couple, then on Emmeline. Once the flames had ceased, she began apologizing profusely.

"Oh, oh dear, are you quite alright? I assure you, I have no idea how that…I promise, if…sorry!"

Emmeline glared around the room through her watery eyes, finally resting her gaze on Tom, who was grinning widely. She looked at him for a moment and opened her mouth.

"Emmeline!" Sir Edward stepped forward, clutching his daughter's shoulder, "We're leaving, now!"

And the family left, Emmeline continuously glancing over her shoulder at Tom Riddle, who had begun laughing, a strange, high-pitched, cold laugh.