Standard Disclaimer: It's being posted on Fanfiction dot net. How much more proof do you need that I don't own the franchise?
Explanation For Those Who Need It: A popular, and very entertaining, plot in the Harry Potter fandom is to have the actual Harry Potter books sent back to the Marauders' time and have them read the aforementioned books while making pithy observations (Please Note: The term "Marauders", in this context, is generally accepted to mean James, Sirius, Remus and Lily).
This is not one of those stories, though it does resemble it in quite a few major aspects. I should also note that I generally enjoy these stories, but have been getting more than a little irritated with the lack of logic applied to them. Hence this story.
Sixteen-year-old Tom Riddle was sitting in the crowded Slytherin Common Room, at ten o'clock at night, putting the finishing touches on his Arithmancy essay. It was an appallingly dull reiteration of OWL-grade work, which the teacher felt the need to revisit for the benefit of the more idiotic students. While Tom could tolerate such pointless digressions (they gave him more time to focus on his real studies, after all), he was somewhat amazed that the teacher had not resorted to throwing himself out of a window when a NEWT level student actually asked if Septenaric Sequential Theory was really necessary to the study of Arithmancy.
It was rather like going to Dumbledore and saying "Excuse me Sir, but is a wand really necessary for Transfiguration?"
The inanities his classmates came out with on occasion were utterly absurd.
To make matters worse, there was only one other student who had seemed even vaguely as annoyed as him, and that was Minerva McGonagall. And given McGonagall's rather vehement dislike of him, Tom wasn't even able to pursue her as a possible ally, as he would have done with any other student in that position.
He didn't really know why she disliked him so much. He'd actually asked her once, and her only response had been to say that he put her on edge. Again, had it been anyone but McGonagall, Tom would've taken this to mean that she harboured a crush on him. However the idea of Minerva McGonagall, Quidditch champion, teachers pet, and general ice-queen, having anything so childish as a 'crush' was quite ridiculous. A fact which actually increased his respect for her, but also managed to annoy him greatly.
He imagined McGonagall sitting up in Gryffindor Tower, finishing up the painfully simple essay with similar (though not quite as much) ease to himself. She was probably surrounded by twittering bimbos, who were quoting Witch Weekly, preening over their hair and giggling about 'boys'. In fact they were probably giggling about him, to be perfectly honest. Tom allowed himself a smirk as he imagined McGonagall's impatience and misery.
She really was an insufferable shrew.
Of course, the fact that she was Dumbledore's favourite also encouraged Tom's distaste for her. Just last week she had transformed a desk into a Great Dane, simply because Olive Hornby had said that no one their age could do it. Rather than turn it back and give a stern lecture, as he would've done with Tom, Dumbledore had awarded her ten points for Gryffindor. It was sickening.
Still, he couldn't get too smug over his rival's misery and discomfort. Not while he was sitting in a Common Room that was populated by the sycophants, inbreeds and Neanderthals, commonly referred to as the Slytherin Quidditch Team. They had just had just returned from practise, after apparently mastering a series of fouls called 'Blagging' 'Blatching' 'Blurting' and 'Cobbing'. They were all rather proud of themselves, and being very vocal about this fact. It was fortunate then, that all Tom had to do was sign his name and then he could go to his dormitory and read a book.
Hopefully before any of those numbskulls noticed him and he was forced to make conversation.
"Hey! Tommy Boy! Didn't see you there! Come over, celebrate our inevitable victory over Gryffindor next week!" Maxwell Flint called over, jovially.
Tom suppressed a groan.
- - -
It was nearly midnight before Tom managed to escape the Quidditch team.
True, he could've left much sooner than that had he placed slightly less importance on maintaining good relations with his housemates. As it was, he'd had to make nice and pretend to give a damn as they droned on about that idiotic sport.
He'd also heard more than a few unkind words about Minerva McGonagall over the course of the evening, leading him to conclude that she was a far better Chaser than he'd previously imagined. But, fascinating though such information was, Tom honestly didn't care. In fact, by that point all he really wanted to do was go to bed, go to sleep, and wake up with renewed fake-enthusiasm for his imbecilic classmates in the morning. This very simple plan was put somewhat at risk, by the small, square, parcel that was sitting on his bed as he returned.
Tom froze in the doorway and frowned in confusion.
Behind him, the door to his dormitory swung shut. It closed with a quiet thud and prompted Tom to send a cursory glance around his sleeping dorm-mates. The five other boys who shared his room slept on in peace, apparently unperturbed by the recent addition to his bed. This indicated that they were all already asleep when it arrived - had they been awake, he would've been fetched by one of them while the others came up with ludicrous suggestions about the contents of said box. Not that his dorm-mates were insatiably curious about parcels or anything, they were just insatiably curious whenever he received a parcel.
Other boys got packages from home on a fairly regular basis. These packages contained sweets, or clothes, or books, or reminders of home… These packages were so regular for most of them, that they barely elicited a raised eye from the others.
But when Tom Riddle received a package, it was an entirely different story. There were a limited number of explanations for someone like him to receiving a parcel in the middle of the night, or indeed at any time. (The package had clearly been sent after nine, as that was the last time he had checked his dormitory, meaning that it was obviously intended to arrive in the middle of the night, rather than at the breakfast table the following morning.) So, Tom thought, knitting his eyebrows together, what were the reasonable explanations for such an event? And, for that matter, how the heck had it got in without waking his dorm mates?
It could be a gift, he supposed. Around Valentines Day, Christmas and his birthday it was not uncommon for his peers and admirers to send him a token of their appreciation. And by 'tokens of their appreciation' he did mean 'bribes' - whether they were bribes to gain his favour within Slytherin, bribes to gain access to his school notes, or bribes from whatever frivolous, hormone-fuelled bit of fluff had recently decided that he was her One True Love - such gifts were not uncommon.
Alternatively, it could be magical supplies. With Slughorn singing his praises from the rooftops, certain entrepreneurial individuals felt the need to send him their merchandise. Whether they did so out of the kindness of their hearts, to encourage him to join their line of work, or simply to make them feel better about themselves… well, that he couldn't comment on. Or feign interest in, come to mention it. 'Supplies' like that usually came in the form of books, or occasionally magical objects and potions ingredients. He didn't get that many, however those he did receive had, until now, trickled in shortly after one of Slughorn's parties.
All Tom knew for certain was that it was a bit late for his birthday or Valentines day, and it was six weeks early for Christmas. He hadn't ordered anything, and it had been two and a half months since Slughorn had held a party. While these facts didn't rule anything out, exactly, they did leave Tom somewhat suspicious of the package currently nestled on his bedcovers.
Adding to his suspicion was the fact that said package was red.
Not dark red, or orange-red, or anything; it was red in the purest sense of the word. Had the package been placed at the far end of the school lawns, Tom felt certain he would still be able to see it clearly. This was actually saying something, as the package was not that big.
True, it wasn't small, but it wasn't especially large either. Had it not been about six inches long, he would have presumed it was a novel or some such. However the idea of such a ridiculously large novel was quite laughable.
Deciding that there was really nothing for it, Tom moved over to his bed. He kicked off his shoes, perched himself on the covers and pulled his bed-hangings tightly shut. After all, if it was something interesting then he did not want to share it with his dorm-mates, and if it was something ridiculous from an admirer (such as a bright pink rabbit - he was thankful to this day that no one but himself had seen that particular monstrosity) then he didn't want any of them spotting it and getting ideas.
Tom touched his wand to the package. "Diffindo." he murmured.
The scarlet paper was sliced neatly in half, before wilting noiselessly onto the bedspread. After a swift examination of the paper, Tom concluded that it was useless and dealt with it accordingly, vanishing it into thin air with a wave of his wand and a puff of smoke. Next, he turned his attention to the contents of said paper.
They were books. Seven of them to be precise. Three which looked disappointingly short (he'd be able to finish all three of them within twenty four hours and still attend classes), and four which looked like Encyclopaedias.
Tom couldn't see the covers properly, due to an extremely wide length of gold ribbon that had been wrapped around them. What he could see, however, was the title - "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone". Tom's interest was immediately piqued. Not by the first part of the title (who honestly gave a damn about some twerp called Harry Potter, after all?), but by the second. The Philosopher's Stone, he thought hungrily.
If this person, this Harry Potter, had made the Philosopher's Stone, and was sending him instructions of some kind… Or even if he was sending him his research… Tom ripped the ribbon apart, and tossed it away, momentarily forgetting about his wand and wearing an expression not unlike his dorm-mates when they received a new broomstick. The ribbon fell out of sight, slipping between Tom's bed-hangings and his bed, and landing silently on the floor, as Tom dove for the books with a fervour.
He froze when he saw the cover though.
On the front there was a picture of a young boy, looking alarmed while standing next to a - -highly inaccurate- - rendition of the Hogwarts express. On the back, there was a drawing of a man who looked disconcertingly like Professor Dumbledore, and was carrying what appeared to be a grimoire. The blurb went on about Harry Potter being rescued by an owl, and (shockingly enough) being a Wizard.
It was a novel, Tom realised with disgust after a moment staring at the ridiculous thing. What in the name of Salazar Slytherin was the point in sending him a novel, he wondered. He didn't put much serious thought into the matter, however.
He flicked the book open to check that it was, in fact, a novel, rather than the grimoire alluded to on the back cover, or something similar. Even as his eyes began to ache with increased tiredness, he began poring over the first page, alert to any possible secret meanings hidden within the text.
By the time Tom reached the word "unDursleyish", however, his mind was made up.
"Pfft," he dismissed, shoving the book unceremoniously under his bed. "Twaddle." The other books swiftly followed, when Tom saw that all seven of them were headed with the name 'Harry Potter'. And though he was mildly curious as to how they had got into his dormitory without being detected, he certainly wouldn't be going through them anytime soon.
Banishing the good-for-nothing tomes from his mind, not to mention the feckless twit who sent them, Tom began getting ready for bed. His thoughts quickly turned to more wholesome pursuits, such as absolute power, world domination, and, of course, showing up that McGonagall bint in Transfiguration…