The Time of Love and Rogues


After fools have meddled with time and unintentionally created a more powerful and immortal Dark Lord than the Wizarding World already knew, Lord Voldemort gives himself a gift in his past; a little brother named Harry Potter.

Chapter 1

Relative Theory

With the kiss of bitter cold seeping in through every crack, and flakes of snow gathering on the outer windowsill, it was time to make her leave. Taking a step closer to the front door, Aralias Maxwell slung her bag over her shoulder, and made sure the Time-Turner was set in place. She gripped it in her hand, warming the silver metal and fogged glass as she looked back one more time into the small bedroom she had crept from. Lit only by a candle, she could scarcely make out the silhouette of the woman and the toddler in her arms, lying stock-still on their little bed.

It was for the best. Aralias had no desire to meet the woman's brother. Morfin Gaunt would be returning soon, as his release from Azkaban loomed over their heads. "Good bye, sweet Merope," she breathed, "and good luck. May the world be a better place with you in it." Warmth, despite the frigid cold, distributed evenly throughout her squat and bulky frame. She smiled to herself, stepping out into the brisk, night air, certain she had made an impact, one that would change all things as she knew it. With a flick of her finger, the dials within the small, hourglass-shaped apparatus began to whirl.


Numbed from the wintry cold and the haul through time, Aralias adjusted her glasses while she focused on the dwelling she had parted from moments before. The ruins of the House of Gaunt stood exactly as she remembered, and she frowned, hoping for some sort of evident alteration of time. With a deep sigh, she pulled her wand free to Apparate home.

"This cannot be right. One detail could not cause this much damage."

Dawn rose, revealing a middle-aged man bent over a book. His head was propped on his fist, his bottom lip chewed on while he read. His fascination with history and dark Wizards had caused this blunder. How could he have been so careless to advise his colleague to slip through time and alter such a life-changing event? Clearly, his enthusiasm had gotten the better of them both.

Aralias sat quietly to his side, sipping her tea. Tears trickled down her round cheeks. "I really am very sorry. If I hadn't pushed so hard, maybe… It was the blasted Time-Turner. You know, we should never have used it. If we didn't have it, none of this could have happened. I could go back…let her die," she said raggedly through several sniffles. Her head fell against her chest, and more tears fell. "I couldn't let her die. I won't let her die. You have no idea, Julian, no idea what she's been through."

The man, recreational Historian, Julian Hubbard, turned in his seat to face the young woman. "So what you're telling me is that before you used that gadget to go back into time, Lord Voldemort was dead, long dead, defeated by a boy over ninety years ago? And somehow you and I managed to blunder that all up and change history, giving this man more power than he had in this alternate dimension you claim that you came from? So we've both effectively created some dreadful paradox that has changed our history and doomed our race of Wizards and Witches? Excuse my language, good lady, but how in the hell is that possible?"

"There's no need to be vulgar. We've somehow miscalculated, and our theory is awash. You, yourself, said that you were certain that all the Dark Lord needed was his mummy's love and he would never have become this monster. You were absolutely certain of that. Well, I saved Merope Gaunt's life, just as you asked. I spent the last three years caring for this madwoman and her potential Dark Lord son. I wrote everything down in that journal," she said, pointing to the notebook at his side. She looked through her bag once more for the thick, leather-bound book she was sure she had packed. "It's here somewhere. These damned bottomless bags…"

Julian snatched the journal up. "I never said you were lying about this. This is my penmanship, informing me that all of this is true and to believe everything you tell me. It's just a bit hard to swallow."

Resting the journal on the desk in front of him, Julian read the entry about their research and sources used to equate their theory. "And this book you can't seem to find, 'The Chosen One', by Albus Severus Potter," He inclined his head, thinking. "Is this a relative of Harry Potter's? You did say that it was Harry Potter who defeated Lord Voldemort before you changed history, right?"

"Yes, Albus Potter was one of Harry's sons. Before the time shift, Harry had been a target of Lord Voldemort's. He was the only wizard ever to survive the killing curse. He was—"

"I know who he was, "Julian interrupted, looking irritated as he flipped through more pages, grating his fingernails through his thinning hair. "He was the son of James and Lily Potter, and murdered by Lord Voldemort at the age of fifteen months. Sad tale, really…"

Aralias paled. "He died? Well, he couldn't have. That's not possible. If only I could find it. It outlines all of the details of Harry's and Voldemort's connections. Tell me, did Voldemort kill Harry's parents first? Did he murder Lily before striking Harry?"

"Well, they never found the infant's body, but he never surfaced either. Yes, I suppose Harry was taken off into the night and never seen from again after his parents were slaughtered." Julian sighed. "Obviously, we have discovered another altering in our timeline. You're saying he did not die, and that he went on to have children?"

"He went on, yes! He killed Lord Voldemort! It's very important, Julian. How could Lord Voldemort have defeated him?"

"Well, he was only a baby, my kind woman."

Aralias began to fret. "So Albus Severus Potter was never born… Maybe that's why the book disappeared?"

"The notes in this journal would have changed if that were so. No, I think you've lost it. Perhaps you left it there."

"We have to do something…" Fingering over the Time Turner, Aralias set her mind. "If I had left the book there, perhaps Lord Voldemort read it and learned from it. This is how he knew… Oh my God. I'll have to go back in time again and kill the infant, Tom Riddle. It's the only way we can bring any hope for our future."

The sound of crackling thunder penetrated the walls of the old home and flummoxed both historians. Julian reached for his wand. "Did you hear that?" he whispered. The lights went out, leaving them both in darkness. "—Lumos!—"

A flash of green light filled the room. Julian fell to his demise on the floor. Aralias gasped and cowered behind the desk, hearing footsteps. "My good lady, my Lord pays his respects. He acknowledges that you returned in time and prevented his mother's death, but I am afraid that any hope for altering the future once more is no longer of your concern."

Another blast of magic lit the den with a magnificent shade of green. The soft thud of a body dropping to the ground brought a smile to the man's lips. Moving to the woman's side, long fingers clenched around the Time-Turner that had slipped from her grasp. Placing the silver chain around his neck, the antique gadget dipped down and settled next to another Time-Turner resting on his chest.

Dragging herself over the floor, Merope Riddle's feet scraped along the caked dirt and fragmented shards of broken glass, remnants of last evening's meal. The distant and familiar sound that had awakened her again pricked her ears. It was coming from the outside, through the front door. All Hallows Eve had come and passed, but there was no celebration for the Gaunts. The two pure-blooded ancestors of Salazar Slytherin no longer mingled with their wizarding kind.

Quietly as she could, she turned the knob and peered out into the sunlit perfection of the sky. Her sleepy eyes brightened, glimmering as light reflected through the dull irises, and she smiled. "Good morning, sunshine," she said quietly to the world. Then a sound, a small grunting, pulled her attention downward, and her vision captured the sight of a dark bundle of cloth wiggling around on the doorstep. Her throat went dry, and her hands clawed as she knelt down and lifted the thing into her arms.

Worry flooded her veins. She stepped outside with this parcel, finding it warm and feeling it shift against her. It was crying as Tom had when he was an infant. "Shh, hush please, hush," she whispered. If this thing roused her brother, he would surely crush it with a log.


Merope gasped alarmingly, clutching the bundle to her breast. She looked down at her side, letting relief sweep through her. Large brown eyes peered up at her, and a small, long-fingered hand tugged at her housedress.

"I've found something special," she whispered with excitement, taking a step further away from the house. "We mustn't wake Morfin, Tom. Be very quiet."

As pale as starlight, the beautiful child closed his fingers around the hem of the housedress. Tom Gaunt gave his mother a curt nod and followed her into the woods. Dried leaves and twigs crunched under his bare feet, catching on the legs of his drab, tattered pyjamas.

Resting upon a fallen log, the sheer elation of this discovery began to build as Merope unravelled the thick, black cloth. Tom moved behind her, peering over her shoulder with shared enthusiasm. Through the trees, a beam of light pooled around them, igniting the brightest of green eyes either of them had ever witnessed. A shock of black hair stuck out in every direction, and a tiny hand reached up to grasp the locket hanging from her neck.

"A baby," Tom breathed in wonderment.

"She's beautiful, Tom. Oh Merlin," Merope said wistfully, trailing a finger along the baby's face and twirling it around in its thick mane of hair. Her plain, worn-out visage crinkled with glee. She flicked a bit of dried blood away from the mark on the baby's forehead, causing the infant to yelp. "She's got a little wound here. Oh, such black hair. She looks like you. She looks so much like you, Angel."

Tom reached out over his mother's shoulder. Long fingers itched to touch the porcelain skin of the baby's face. Tom was not yet four and his other hand still clung desperately to his mother's dress, but he was wise and cunning, and fascinated with this gift laid out for them. His jet-black hair fell into his eyes as he leaned in closer. The infant was wearing blue pyjamas, with the soft material spattered with blood. Tom tickled the whimpering child's chin to get its attention. "She's hungry," he whispered into his mother's ear. He ran a thumb over the pouting lips, allowing the babe to suckle on it for comfort. Feeling his own stomach constrict and growl, he imagined himself to be as cranky as this child if he were as young. "She's hungry, mummy."

Distress returned and cut into Merope's merriment. If she dared take the child indoors, its cries would surely stir Morfin from his slumber.

The sound of breaking twigs cut into the cries. Merope and Tom looked to its direction with startled expressions. There was a man watching them, cloaked and hooded, standing off to their side. Merope pulled Tom around and hugged both children against her. "Who are you?" she whimpered, frightened beyond reason by this shrouded presence.

Taking a bold step, the man lowered his hood. His hair was the colour of silver-lined clouds, long and flowing in the breeze, matching the intense pupils of his eyes. He appeared under the beautiful morning light, glowing like an angel before her. His voice was soft and clear, bringing calm to the tremendously nervous woman. "There's no need to be afraid, my good lady, I am not here to harm you or the children."

The fussy youngster squirmed in Merope's embrace. The material it was wrapped in fell to the ground, wet. The man reached into his cloak and pulled his wand free. He pointed it at the infant. "His name is Harry, and he is now yours, if you will have him." With a light swish, the sodden material of the infant's pyjamas instantly dried.

"Harry," Merope repeated through a savoured breath. She could not take her eyes off of him. This child was hers now. Several coins were thrown at her feet. Tom tensed in his mother's embrace, watching the tall man take a closer step.

"As of yesterday, Harry became fifteen months old." His wand was now pointed at the small kitchen window of the hovel. "I will be returning occasionally to check on his and Tom's progress. "–Accio book—!" A large, leather-bound novel sailed through the window and flew into his outstretched hand. "Love him as your own. Tell anyone who asks that he is your son, that his surname is Gaunt. No one will question this further."

The dark-haired woman with mismatched eyes nodded carefully in agreement.

The angelic man's radiant eyes moved over the setting, taking in the surrounding with a calculated look of disgust. The House of Gaunt was a shambles of a home. It was very hard to absorb that someone so great and powerful had come from such poverty. "Who else resides here? I'll need to alter their memories. Your father?"

"No," Merope replied, cupping Harry to her breast to look over the mop of hair tickling her nose. "My father is dead. My brother, Morfin, is inside. He was released from Azkaban Prison last winter, shortly after my father died. He is dangerous, sir."

This new alteration of time was of great interest to the man. It would have been easy to change so much, fill the poor woman's pockets with Galleons and slaughter the sleeping beast still residing inside the shack, but his goals did not include these things. He would alter nothing more until the order was given.

He had been promised immortality for this immense honour of serving his master. He would not muddle with another thing. A great Wizard ruled their world, in his time, and he would now learn from this new arrival. The future of Lord Voldemort would be recast from its mould, and he would be putting a hand in recreating this history.

"As I've said," he spoke, while turning toward the front door of the small house, "I will be returning from time to time, as adjustments on these children's wellbeing will be necessary. Do not interfere when I do. I will not harm them, good lady."

Merope wanted to believe him. She looked at the ground, at the shiny coins scattered around her bare feet. The cloaked man was frightening and dark, despite his pale, pointed features. Tom had been watching him from under her skirt with keen interest. His hands still clutched her dress, his breath elevated, but his eyes were set with enthral. "It's alright, Tom. He'll go soon," she whispered, watching the man disappear into the home and close the door behind him. A flash of light illuminated the kitchen window, and the babe in her arms nuzzled into her warmth. She had no idea what was happening. Her scrambled, deranged mind struggled to wrap itself around the precious gift wriggling in his arms. Heaven had finally come down to greet her, to kiss her, giving her another child from the man she so dearly loved, and selected this beautiful, dark guardian angel to watch over them. Everything was about to change for the better, she could feel it in the air.

Exactly four years later…

"Bitch, get in here!"

A crash, and the sounds of rustling and grunting filled the tiny house. Merope lifted Harry out of the kitchen chair and into her arms as she ran into the bedroom. Tensed with fear, she shook her head desperately, dropped Harry onto the bed, and wrenched Tom out of her brother's murderous chokehold.

Tom gasped and coughed as he staggered and dropped onto his bed beside the other. Of the two beds filling the small room, his was against the back wall, farthest from the door. He pulled a thin quilt over his long legs and bent them into his chest. Harry curled into him, circling his neck with shaky arms.

"He touched my wand! Your dirty blooded spawn touched my things!"

Merope's head swayed to each shoulder. Her hands were in front of her, held out in a plea to quiet her anxious brother.

Morfin shook out his matted hair from his maladjusted eyes and pointed to Tom. "Nasty, nasty boy playing with my things, I'll carve him up if he touches it again!"

Harry squirmed uncomfortably. Tom scooted closer to the other boy to hide him under the quilt. "I'm sorry, uncle," he said regretfully, hating that he was careless enough to rouse the man in his thoughtless manner, and had tripped over the night table.

"It's my fault," Merope confessed. "I asked him to get the wand for me!"

Morfin's scowling face remained centred on Tom. "Send you to your father, we should. Unclean, useless thing, you're not our sort! Where's my breakfast, wench?"

With a flighty squeak, Merope jolted out into the kitchen to begin preparing their meal. Morfin followed her out, already forgetting about the boys cowering on the bed.

Tom was unsure of what to do. Harry was fussing so badly, crying soundlessly in his arms. He mimicked his mother, pulling the smaller boy against his shoulder. "Shh, it's okay, baby," he whispered. He could hear heavy movement in the next room. Morfin was breaking glass and throwing furniture around in the kitchen. This did not bode well at all for anyone. Merope was a terrible defence against her brother when he got more riled than normal.

"We should go help mummy with breakfast before he comes back and corners us," Tom whispered.

Harry shuddered against him. "I don't want to."

Tom kissed the top of the boy's head. "I'll protect you."

With a deep breath, Harry climbed off of the bed. He was small for his age, with long, messy hair and knobby knees. His clothing mimicked Tom's; they were threadbare and tattered, patched with quilting material. They looked so similar, as if they truly were brothers, and only their eyes gave them away. Tom clasped their hands together with a squeeze, and bravely stepped out into the living area.

"There you are, boy. It's cold in here, go fetch more wood!" Morfin hissed at him, meeting Tom's glare. He was standing by the fireplace and rubbing his hands together.

"He hasn't eaten yet," Merope interrupted, and dropped her head the instant the words left her mouth. "I'm sorry. Tom, go."

"Pointless," the frazzled man growled in English, crossing the few steps it took to make it into the adjoining kitchen. Tom ducked to avoid his weak, swinging fist, and jaunted to the front door. "You're all pointless wastes of space!"

Wrinkled and dirty, the maddened man settled into a chair in front of the table. He dug into his plate, sloshing his beans off the sides as he ate. His thick, overly-long arms leaned on the table. He grunted his distaste through each bite, glaring at his sister and Harry with all of the hatred he had in this world.

Tom had returned with a few sticks, and threw them into the fireplace. "Come sit," Merope said nervously, holding a chair out. With a nod, Tom rounded the table and sat down next to Harry.

"Weak little dirty-blood—we need more wood!" Morfin shouted in anger. He balled his fist and swung out, connecting with Tom's chest, knocking his chair backward. The instant Tom hit the floor, Harry screamed.

"Shut up, you little runt!"

"Morfin, stop!" Merope cried. Panicked, she pulled Tom up to his feet. She took the boys' hands and yanked them toward the bedroom. Harry's cries were echoing throughout the tiny house. Throwing the boys inside, she slammed the door behind them.

"You belong to me."

Huddled together on the bed, with Harry tucked beside his body; Tom rubbed the sleep from his eyes as another chilling whimper hummed in brother's throat. He brushed the long fringe out of the trembling boy's eyes and looked out into the dark room. "Shh, it's okay, Har, you're just having a nightmare. Go back to sleep." The painfully thin and sweet-faced seven-year-old stretched his sore muscles and swung his legs off of the side.

The other bed occupying the room, their mother's, was empty.

Tom could not be sure of the time, but remembered that the sun had finally set and both he and Harry had grown sleepy, and very tired of listening to their uncle berating their mother throughout the day. They had been trapped inside of their room since breakfast. The door had been magically sealed. Hungry, thirsty, and feeling a great pressure to relieve himself, Tom risked stirring up more trouble and walked over to it to see if he could leave.

The soft shuffling sound of something coming up behind him caught his attention. "Tom?" Harry whispered, tugging on the sleeve of Tom's shirt. He was more than a head shorter than the tall boy, and was looking up at his brother with owlish eyes. "Can I go too?"

The electric shock of magic crackled under his hand as it closed around the knob. "It's still locked," Tom said sadly. Being holed up inside their bedroom was nothing new to the boys. It happened more often then they cared to consider. Merope thought it better to keep them out of sight rather than in harm's way on days such as this.

"We'll go through the window again," Harry suggested, pulling Tom away from the door. "Can we wait at the water hole till mummy wakes up?"

"Course," Tom replied. He climbed onto the bed and pushed the window glass up, feeling a cool breeze goose his flesh. "C'mere, Har, I'll lower you out. Put another shirt on first, its cold outside."

Harry rummaged through the bottom drawer of their small wardrobe, and tugged two shirts out. He tossed one to Tom. "You put one on, too." He pulled his over his head before climbing onto the mattress. Tom finished dressing, and then helped Harry onto the termite-eaten windowsill. Holding the smaller boy's hands, Tom lowered him to the ground and hopped out behind him.

"For Samhain, it's bloody cold out here," Tom hissed through chattering teeth. He tucked his hands under his arms - and froze as he glanced down at the smaller boy.

Harry's mouth hung open in awe. "You said a vularma…vulmaram…a dirty word. I'm telling mummy."

Tom was fumbling with the zip on his trousers. "It's 'vulgarity', you halfwit. And if you tell on me, I'll box your ears."

Struggling under his shirt to find the buttons, Harry bit his bottom lip in frustration. "I can't do it, and I have to go really bad!"

"Hold still, you bastard," Tom growled, reaching up under Harry's shirt. He ignored the heaving sighs of disappointment puffing like smoke through Harry's nostrils. The cold air misted their breath, and the ground beneath their feet had a thin layer of frost.

"You're going to turn into Morfin with that talk."

Rolling his eyes, Tom helped Harry unclasp his overalls while he hopped around in place. "You silly goody-goody, Morfin isn't the first Parselmouth. He's so thick and dense I'm amazed he can speak any language at all."

Harry leaned up next to a tree while he emptied his bladder, dejected. "Stop being foul, I didn't do anything to you."

The smell of an early winter was in the air. Winters in Little Hangleton were always rough for them. Standing in the copse of the woods, looking down over the small village, Tom sighed. He knew once winter arrived, he and Harry would have to spend more time indoors than outside. Their skin would pale, and their bruises would darken. The torment of living under such cramped quarters and with such a man created a zone of pure discomfort. He knew he was taking this frustration out on Harry, but he had no one else to take it out on.

"Look, I'm sorry," he said, feeling Harry snuggling against his side for warmth. He put an arm around the smaller boy's shoulder. "Are you all done? Need some help getting your overalls up?" Harry nodded. Shaking the cold numbness from his fingers, Tom threaded the straps over Harry's shirt and buckled them into place.

Now smiling, and pointing over the roof of the house, Harry watched the orange glow of the sun rising in the east. "It'll get warmer soon," he murmured. Looking on the ground with the faint light, he crouched and picked up a few rocks for skipping along the water.

Tom emulated him, searching for the flattest rocks he could find and stuffed his pockets with them. "If Morfin would stop killing all the fish in the pond we could go fishing." He shrugged as he stood upright, giving Harry a gentle push toward the path through the woods. "Or we could throw rocks at the villagers when they start moving about. Maybe we'll get lucky and hit Mr Riddle."

"I'd rather stay at the water hole," Harry said absently. He had caught a glimpse of zigzagging movement in the tall grass and followed it, leaving the path and Tom behind. "Did you see that? There's a snake." Harry loved chasing snakes. It was something he had gotten quite good at over the last year. He crouched down a bit to get a closer look. He dragged a finger along its slender body, feeling each of its scales rippling under the pad. "Come on little snaky, I won't hurt you. See how soft I am?"

"Leave it be," Tom recommended, popping a few berries that he had picked from the bush he was leaning on into his mouth, "might not be friendly. Morfin's probably killed all of its family."

Harry kicked at a fallen leaf, grumbling to himself. He got back onto the path, allowing Tom to lead him further into the woods. The path was narrow, winding, devoid of anything but dirt and rocks. Tree branches had been magically cut by their uncle, making the journey to and from the small pool of water they inhabited an easier journey to trek.

The cool temperature made for slow walking. As autumn came into full swing, the sorrow of being unable to swim within the water's perfect body saddened both boys. "I wish we could do something other than skip rocks every morning," Tom mused aloud. "Like… I don't know. We could make a raft and float on top of it."

"That would be fun," Harry said, looking back at him with enthusiasm. "How do you make a raft?"

Walking out into the aperture to the pond, Tom crouched down to give Harry a leg up on one of the larger boulders resting on the edge. He climbed over and sat down next to him while he reached into his pocket to dig out a few pebbles. The surface of the boulder was slick with frost. Tom's tattered trousers did little to shield him from the emanating cold against his bum. "We'd need rope and sticks. Loads of rope. Maybe you could talk Morfin into conjuring up some rope for us."

"Yeah, and he'll hang me with it." Harry shuddered and shook his head. "No thanks. Why can't mummy do it?"

Tom gave off an uncharacteristic snort. "You know she's no good at conjuring up anything. She'd probably turn us both into toads." To that point, he had ignored the magnificence of the rising sun's divine glow reflecting off of the surface of the pool. The radiance ignited the green in Harry's irises and warmed the world around him.

Harry bucked Tom with his shoulder. "You're already a toad." He did not care for Tom poking fun at their mother. Tom had made it clear long ago that he was somewhat ashamed of Merope's poor skills in spell casting. That, as a descendant of the Peverell and Slytherin bloodlines, her power was almost comparative to that of an average Witch, at best. These were merely a few of the insults spewed from their uncle's mouth on a daily basis, engrained forever in the boys' heads. If only that were the only thing that was troubling him, he might be willing to overlook it.

Throwing a small rock into the water, Tom's lip curled in a sneer. He was exceptionally frustrated. Their mother had forgotten about them again, and it was becoming something of a habit. And Harry simply worshiped her. He was so unbelievably naïve about the woman who stood by and did nothing to better their lives. "That ugly Squib couldn't even mend the hole in your shoe, Harry. What are you going to wear once it gets colder?"

"I don't know..." It was so cold already, and winter was on the horizon. Without coats or shoes, their future journeys to the village would prove difficult. Harry threw all of his stones into the pond, feeling a lot less inclined to sit there any longer. "Can we go back now? I'm really hungry."

"Course you're hungry; we haven't eaten since yesterday…" Tom helped Harry off of the boulder, and took his hand. "She should be up by now. Maybe she'll be kind enough to give us a few scraps."

"Where've you two scamps been hiding—trying to find your muggle father?" Morfin Gaunt dropped from the tree in front of the children the instant they stepped foot into the woods, scaring them both witless. Harry froze solid, watching Morfin break a switch off of a branch. Tom pushed the younger boy behind him. "Ragged, unclean, tainted blood running through your veins, both of you. I'd just as soon snap your scrawny necks as let you back inside."

The frightened boys tensed their muscles, preparing to scurry. They knew if they ran there would be a good chance of avoiding any punishment. Morfin rarely took chase. He was weakened by his stint in Azkaban, and more often than not, he merely enjoyed taunting the little lads with a slew of psychological cruelty. Tom could feel Harry's tiny fists clench at the hem of his shirt. Never knowing what to expect seemed the greatest terror. Morfin was unpredictable, all the same, and everything seemed to set him off.

Without warning, the switch came crashing down toward Tom. He lunged at the earth to avoid it. Harry tumbled over him, landing on his back.

"Runt!" Morfin growled, reaching out to take Harry by the arm. "Dirt-veined, Muggle's boy. Can't even grow like a normal child."

Tom gripped the man's grubby, threadbare trousers to stop him. He was breathless, his eyes watered, and his lip bled from hitting the dirt floor, but he mustered up any bit of courage he had to plead for the small boy's safety. "Please let him go. Please, Uncle." His own words boiled his blood. Pleading to Morfin was the hardest thing he ever did. He wished more than anything that Morfin would shrivel up and die. Maybe when he was bigger and given his own wand, that very thing might just happen. "Don't hurt him, please!"

It was doubtful that Morfin or Harry heard him. Harry yelped as the hard slap across his face knocked his head to the side. Morfin was a heartless, cruel madman, intent on teaching to them how useless they truly were. His hand clamped down over Harry's slender throat, forcing him into silence. "Hush yourself, little runt. Hush now."

Lifted off of his toes while Tom scrambled to remove his uncle's fingers, Harry's world tightened and darkened. The little boy's eyes were wide with fear. He clawed at the hand wrapped around his neck. Dimmer and dimmer the sunshine went, as if blotted from the sky. Everything became dark and quiet, until the ground rushed up and hit him in the face.

"You half-Muggle filth, both of you get inside before someone sees you."

Harry gulped in lungfuls of dust and air. Dirt had matted with the tear streaks on his cheeks. Seething with anger, Tom lifted him up. This was his brother, his only friend, and he was Morfin's favourite punching bag. Harry's small size made him an easy target for their sociopath of an uncle… but someday, he would pay for what he had done.