A/N As this is my first real attempt at following through with a FF, it may be a bit difficult for me to stay on track and be regular with pumping out chapters. The first reason for this is that I'm still in school. The second is that I want to make this as good of a story as I possibly can. So please, bear with me, and don't be afraid to criticize me, because I am all for it! So please, read and review! It's much appreciated. And now, without further ado, I give you the prologue to Monster: The Story of Tom Marvolo Riddle.

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Prologue

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Christmas was one of the few times each year that the orphanage was a cheerful place. Little lights decked the hallways and rooms, and there was a large Christmas tree on each of the four floors (donated, of course). The children got away with more than they usually did – they were reprimanded only slightly for running inside.

Since the New Year was fast approaching, decorations were being taken down, rules were reinstated, and life in general was going on as usual.

On the night of the 31st of December, 1926, the careful equilibrium that the orphanage revolved upon was to come to a crashing halt, for, on this night, a child destined to have a dark birth and even darker future would be born and abandoned there.

A young woman by the name of Ms. Cope held the night watch at the orphanage on this (fateful?) night. Ms. Cope was training to become the head of the orphanage, and she loved all of the children dearly. She was making the last of her rounds for the night – it was half-past ten – when she heard a knock on the orphanage door. The young Ms. Cope pulled her coat tighter around her thin frame; it was, after all, the end of December and freezing outside. She shuffled quickly to the door and looked through the peep-hole. As fast as humanly possible, Ms. Cope flung open the door and hauled the bloodied form over the threshold. She rang the bell reserved for emergencies, and immediately three other women flocked to her side.

"Quick, quick! Bring her to the sick room!" one of the women whispered. The four lifted the limp, whimpering form of the filthy woman and carried her down the hall.

"Let's put her down here. Gently, ladies, gently!" Ms. Cope had taken charge, having overcome her initial shock. They quickly took off the woman's coat to reveal the fact that she was pregnant.

The woman groaned again, and opened her eyes. And what disturbing eyes they were! They stared, one at each corner, sideways. In her fear they seemed to bug out; the overall effect was quite eerie. She moaned, more blood seeping through her dress from the most private of areas. This woman suddenly began hissing and spitting, clutching her stomach with her knees to her chest, having some sort of fit. Ms. Cope grabbed hold of her hand and knelt by her head.

"Miss, miss, we are here to help you! Please, tell me your name, and I can help this move along faster."

The girl, so ugly, so dirty, clutched Ms. Cope's hand, her own personal lifeboat in a sea of pain. "Merope," she whispered, "Merope Gaunt. It hurts!" and she began to cry. "All alone, alone, I am all alone! I cannot do this, I cannot! I'll die, I'm dying, this hurts oh so much!" Merope was wailing and sobbing so hard, and she was so small and pathetic and alone, that Ms. Cope herself couldn't help being moved to tears.

"Hush, hush, you're no longer alone, child! I'm here, I'll help you through this! You cannot give up, if not to save yourself, to save your child! Think of your child! You don't want it to grow all alone, never knowing its Mamma, do you?" Merope only wept more violently. " I know, I know. This hurts a lot, I know. But just think of what you will be giving up if you don't at least try! I am here, I'll help you the whole way. Just please, try!"

The wretched girl, her face contorted in pain, miserably nodded her head in acquiescence. In a quiet voice she said, "Tell me what to do."

Ms. Cope smiled and gave Merope's clammy hand a soft squeeze…

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At 11:59 P.M. December 31, 1926, a bouncing baby boy named Tom Marvolo Riddle was born. Merope Gaunt held him and cried, tears of joy and despair intermingled. For this child, her child, looked just like his father, a reminder of all that she had lost. She kissed his forehead, stared at the tuft of jet-black hair covering his head, and gazed in wonder deep into his stormy eyes. Unable to keep awake any longer, she handed him to Ms. Cope.

At 12:12 on January 1, 1927, Merope Gaunt passed away.

And her child, the last remaining heir to Salazar Slytherin, turned over in his bassinet, sound asleep and unaware of the tragedies still to come.