Title: The Last Act

Author: Unspoken Tragedy

Rating: PG-13 (For death)

Spoilers: Definitely DH spoilers here

Disclaimer: What do I own? Five dollars, as the atm has just informed me. I have a lot of bills due, if you want those.

Summery: 'Tom Riddle didn't have to be afraid anymore.' He has always lived his life in fear.

Series: None

A/N: Because I LIKE trying to understand Voldemort.

The Last Act

"The last act is bloody, however fine the rest of the play. They throw earth over your head and it is finished forever."

-Blaise Pascal, Pensees

He found her laying facedown in the lake. Although, discovered would be a better word to use, since they had not looked for her for months. The winter's cold had just recently been dispelled and melted the ice that had covered that lake up until now.

He had gasped in horror at the sight, the eight year old Tom Riddle. One of the older boys behind him let out a choked cry. The black haired boy ignored the older children to rush to the lake's edge. He stopped there when he realized that traipsing out into the deep water would be foolish- he had never learned to swim.

But the girl had been his only ally in the orphanage. The others were afraid of him and the things he could do. Sally Fields. She was by no means a pretty girl, but she was smart. More than that, really. The tutors raved about her intelligence. She had no future as an academic, though; society neglected the minds of the poor.

Sally had once told him that she wished she could do what he did. She was the only one who didn't see him as some sort of freak or bad omen.

As he stared at the body floating in the water he felt a thrill of fear. He had never seen a dead body before. Even if the ice had preserved her from decay all this time her skin looked like clear wax- the blue of veins showing clearly through.

Everyone thought that she had run away. This of course was not so far a leap for the twelve year old girl. She had run away a couple of times before, but had been returned to the orphanage by the police when they had caught her stealing food. Even Mrs. Cole had mentioned that she thought that this time Sally may have made it… or died trying.

Tom didn't know where she had been planning to go and after a few questions and a couple of days of searching, the matter was scrapped.

"Riddle," Dennis Bishop called, "Eric's gone to get Mrs. Cole."

He nodded to the boy and turned away from the dead girl. This boy didn't fool himself into thinking he'd really mourn Sally Fields. He barely knew her, truthfully. While she showed genuine interest in him, he just hung around with her because many of the other kids respected her.

Her funeral, which most of the kids from the orphanage attended out of respect, was cold and unemotional. Aside from a temporary marker, her grave was and probably would remain unmarked. No flowers would be placed there- no one would remember her after a few years.

It horrified him, that death thing. Who would cry at Tom Riddle's funeral?

Even years later he would awake in a cold sweat, imagining his body drifting lifelessly in that water, being placed in a grave six-feet-under that no one would ever visit.

There had to be some way around it. His magic- talent- whatever it was could take a life. It surely should be able to preserve one as well.

The dark haired boy's fear had followed him to Hogwarts and he spent much of his time there researching death. It seemed that even wizards had failed to discover how to cheat death- but Tom would not be deterred. Once he learned of the Horcux, he felt he'd found the answer.

He returned to her grave one night, nearly a decade after she had passed. It wasn't easy finding the little metal placard with her name on it. Weeds had overgrown the section of that graveyard and the marker was tipped sideways onto the ground. Her name was barely readable after the years of abuse by the elements.

The now wizard shuddered. He wasn't wrong that no one would care- that Sally would be forgotten.

He wouldn't die like this child, though, he had made certain of that. Lord Voldemort would never die and never be forgotten.

He smiled into the night.

Tom Riddle didn't have to be afraid anymore.

The End

A/N: … But he still lived his life in fear. With this story I wanted to explore the reasons why Voldemort was so afraid of death.

Dennis Bishop and Eric were real characters (I intentionally left out mentioning their ages because I can't remember whether she ever said how old they were). Sally Fields was not.

The scene (in Deathly Hallows) at King's Cross with Harry and Dumbledore made me want to cry. As much as he brought everything on himself, it made me pretty upset that JK Rowling just dismissed any possibility of redemption for Tom Riddle. That he could never understand love made me sad. He had never been loved, he'd been thrown aside as a child- and he would never have a chance to love or be loved because he would spend his eternity as a disfigured baby that no one cared to comfort.

I hope you enjoyed the story.