A/N: Ah summer, where good intentions come to die. Sorry this took so long. I'm a horrible person, I know. Let me know what you think. Or not, it's all good.
It was a very beautiful day. A bright, sunny, picture-perfect late summer day. And Tom hated it.
Benny Cooper tripped him on his way to the bathroom again, making him fall to the ground naked as his towel was ripped from him 'accidentally.' On top of that, this day's horribleness escalated when Sally Simpson gushed over him again. She used the baby voice this time. God, how he detested that voice. One day he would teach her that baby voices, or in her case any voices, should not be used before eight in the morning. It was cruel and unusual punishment.
At least here he didn't have to keep up his school-persona. At the orphanage Tom's only weapon was his words and though every fiber of his being hated this place, he made the best of it by sharpening that weapon, as he was never one to waste time or opportunity. Without his magic Tom had to resort to putting others in their place by fear and intimidation alone. Normally, he had no problem accomplishing that easily, but every year new children came fresh from their dead family's homes and he had to start all over. This year's group was a particularly thick lot, Benny and Sally most prominent.
Benny had aspirations to run the orphanage, and had been steadily picking off the competition all summer long. Tom would have been impressed by his sneaky tactics if it weren't for the fact that Benny had dubbed him enemy number one. It wasn't that Tom was the leader that bothered Benny, because Tom did not lead mere muggles, he co-existed with them temporarily. No, what bothered Benny was that every child living there respected and feared Slytherin's heir. Benny was jealous. Tom got an entire week's entertainment out of that thought alone. The next week's came from watching Benny try to act exactly like Tom and only inspiring laughter rather than fear. All summer long Benny tried to capture the intangible quality that Tom had in abundance, but to no avail. Finally, in a last ditch effort, Benny rejected all respectable Slytherin-like behavior, and went full on Gryffindor: physical bullying. Tom lost all respect for him as an opponent.
This last week was the week from hell. Benny caught him in the shower, stole his clothes and locked him out of the boys' rooms. Benny looked like the cat that caught the cream for about five minutes until Tom bested him by innocently inquiring why Benny wanted to see him naked so bad. The other boys laughed uproariously. Since then, the new kid went to all lengths to physically hurt the long time resident, tripping, punching, kicking. He had even forgone subtlety in his rage. Then, Tom knew he had beaten the kid at his own game. When you lose control of yourself, you lose control of the situation. Tom-1 Orphanage-0.
Benny was nothing, however, to Sally Simpson. Tom would gladly take three Benny's if it meant he could avoid Sally. Because with Benny, Tom knew the rules. In fact, Tom made the rules. Sally, though, played by rules that a blind person wrote and then picked out of a hat. Basically, there were no rules, except when there were, and he only knew when there were rules after he had broken them. Girls. Tom's first impression of Sally was that of an air-headed bimbo who only lived to gossip. This impression was confirmed when she caught sight of him from across the yard where he was observing this year's pickings, and she fainted. He had absolutely no idea why. The next day she trapped him after his meager lunch and kissed him.
Tom Riddle, Slytherin's heir, next year's Head Boy of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, orphaned wizard, prospective dark wizard, was caught unawares by a simpleton female with spots all over her face. He would have never lived that down if any of his associates had seen it. Thank Merlin for small favors, like none of them living at the same orphanage. But then again, if he himself hadn't had to live in this dump then she would never have even seen him. That line of thought just put him in a bad mood again.
The problem with Sally was that no matter how many times he insulted her, tore her apart verbally, emotionally, mentally, she just didn't stop. It was like she completely ignored his well thought out insults and forgave him. Who does that? It was insulting in itself. He made remarks about her dead family, insinuated that she was a prostitute, tried to play connect the dots with her acne, and all she did was run off only to return again later.
Sometimes she would just stare at him. That was the worst, well, after the baby talk. Tom had taken a reluctant leaf out of Benny's book and attempted using a new approach, ignoring her. After all, he failed miserably at taunting her into ignoring him. This new tactic, however, had its pros and cons. One of the few pros was that he perfected the art of sneaking around. Dealing with the Basilisk his fifth year made him already exemplary at it, but this just enhanced his skill. And Tom was all about using otherwise wasted time to his advantage. Unfortunately, ignoring Sally just made her that much more enthusiastic when he did accidentally get caught. That's when she started the baby talk. He spent the better part of a day wondering where and how he would hide her body without using magic, and coming up blank was the literally the only reason he allowed her to live. Plus, he was working on his self-control, not that he needed to, and the fewer suspicious deaths connected to him, the better for him later in life. Tom had plans, plans that an ignorant menace like Sally Simpson was not important enough to ruin.
The last week in the orphanage lasted decades to Tom, he reflected on the journey to King's Cross. For a while he thought Benny and Sally must have been in cahoots, because rarely an hour passed when one of them was not in his presence. Oh the things he did for the secrecy of the Wizarding World.
Thank Salazar those two muggles, the "volunteers," and the whole damn orphanage were behind him. They were his past, but he was meant for bigger and better things, and a short jaunt at the orphanage each year (after his entire repressed childhood that he refused to acknowledge as actually having happened to him) only made it easier to wipe the planet of the whole lot of them a few years down the road. Know thine enemy. Tom lived by those words.
Looking out the window, Tom pontificated on his last car ride to King's Cross. Any association he had with muggles would cease to exist after this day. The only bit of muggle he could never quash, his father's dirty blood, ate at him like gnats on a summer's twilight. He hated that world—the humiliation and loneliness he endured because of his dastardly muggle father's and said father's refusal to acknowledge him as his son. It wasn't Tom's fault his mother slipped Tom Sr. a love potion. Muggles can't even take responsibility for their own actions right. They are as backwards as house elves demanding monetary payment. But Tom digressed.
After the majority of the car ride had passed, Tom Riddle felt he had exhausted this line of thought. He could go on and on about the inherent wrongness of muggles, but until he acted he was as bad as any common wizard. Already he had shown promising results after the Basilisk killed that Mudblood. That was some progress, at least. But it wasn't ambitious enough for the house of ambition's heir. Tom wanted more. Tom was more. Now he just had to prove it.
Any old wizard, Pureblood or Halfblood, could talk the talk, but Tom has a plan. Well, he has plans to make a plan to do something about the weakness of the world. Wizards could be more than fairy tales, witches and wizards everywhere could rule those inferior to them, those without magic. And Tom Riddle Jr. was going to make that happen. He would use this year to come up with a plan. And then, this time next year, he would put that plan into action. Yes, this would be an important year.
The car jerked to a stop and the elderly woman driving turned around in her seat to glare at her passenger.
"We're here boy. Quick, get out, before my son's family comes and sees how low I've sunk, shuttling orphans about for a quick pound." Tom mentally added another reason to his growing List of Reasons to Hate Muggles. So far he had 346, ranging from bad breath to bombs. Bombs were no fun when they exploded around your head unexpectedly and you had no wand to protect yourself.
Tom began the mental switch back into wizard mode where he utilized all of his charisma (after all, one never knows when one may need a connection), and pleasantly thanked the woman, all the while, planning her death in his head. He even smiled, though she glowered back. Well, just for that he'd kill her himself someday. Tom abhorred impoliteness. Especially when one the rude party is not the stronger party. In this case, however, the woman probably did not know that he had all the power. Most muggles don't know that he could kill them with one wave of a piece of yew wood. He guessed he could let her off.
He made his way through the paranoid crowd with his trunk full of his pitiful belongings, navigating to Platform 9 and ¾. Tom felt his first genuine smile of the entire summer as he gazed at the magical doorway between Platforms 9 and 10. Finally, finally he was going back to where he belonged. His home.
Students and their parents hugged and coddled each other like the pathetic weaklings they were. So the wizarding world was in a war, no big deal. This is nothing, he thought, just wait until I show them a real war. Then they won't even be able to go to Hogwarts, they'll be so frightened. With that thought, and the promise of his comfort zone, Tom relaxed into his seat.
The compartment door slid open, a small second year boy looked in, met Tom's cold glare, and practically flew out of the room. Funny how just an hour or so can make all the difference. All is right in the world again. Tom spent the next few hours in solitary silence, reading his textbooks for the fourth time. Right as the sun was setting, Bridget Malonnes thew open the compartment door. Tom prided himself that he did not react to the surprise.
She stood there for a few minutes, impatiently tapping her foot, until she couldn't stand his silence anymore. "Well, are you ever going to acknowledge me, Riddle?"
Bridget Malonnes was quite simply an idiot. Everyone liked her though, as she normally did not cause any drama and was too timid to actually start a conflict with anyone else. According to her behavior now, though, Tom was thinking they jumped the gun on giving her that shiny Head Girl's badge as this sort of behavior would grant her a few enemies. Himself at the top of the list.
"You walked into my compartment, Malonnes. That implies that you were looking for me." He said, his tone arrogant and bored. "It only follows that you would be looking for me for a reason, therefore, you have something to tell me or ask me. In either case, you should speak first as I was not the one to thrust my presence upon someone who did not want it."
She looked at him blankly. "I've made Head Girl."
"Yes, I can see that as I have eyes and the discipline to observe very shiny badges with HG written on them."
She continued as if she didn't hear his sarcastic reply, "And as you're Head Boy, I figured we should arrange details of when we're going to meet and ..."
"No Malonnes. I will be making all the decisions. I will be the one the prefects report to. You will be a figure head and do as I tell you. There will be no meetings, and there will be no arguments. I have final say, and I have absolute rule. You will not interfere, or there will be repercussions. Do you understand me?"
Tom didn't often go straight into the authoritative approach, but knowing her past timidity, he figured she would respond best to the direct approach. Stupid Gryffindors usually did. Might as well get it all out now, lay down the law so to speak.
Apparently his conjecture was right, because all aggressive behavior had ceased and she looked like she might cry. His first conversation of the year, and already making someone cry. That was a new record for him.
He watched her deflate. "Oh, um, well okay. Let me know... um, yeah, okay."
"I'll be sure to be in touch should I need your—help." He said, then went back to his book. She got the hint and left the compartment with her tail between her legs.
The rest of the ride flew by, the Sorting went off without a hitch and the feast was as exemplary as it ever was. Time sped up, weeks of classes flew by with nary a mistake on Tom's part. Points were earned, Quidditch matches were won and lost, Peeves pranked everyone except for Slytherin's young heir and poor little Bridget Malonnes hadn't bothered him at all. Classes remained, as always, far too easy for Tom. He felt he could have passed all his N.E.W.T.s the same time he demolished his O.W.L.s. No one in history—Dumbledore included—had ever gotten as many O.W.L.s as the Head Boy, and consequently, Tom grew bored. With nothing and no one to challenge him, he made up things to relieve the tedium.
That's where the whole 'world domination' thing came into play. Tom was sitting in Potions one day, Slughorn breathing down his neck practically trying to kiss him, and Tom just felt the boredom and superiority overcome him. Tom never let emotions overcome him, as part of his self-discipline, but this time it was different. He needed a new goal. Achieving never-before-seen-O.W.L.-results had been accomplished and now he had nothing to strive for.
His thoughts turned to all the Houses of old, the Blacks and the Malfoys. Their bigoted pride in their blood forced distance between them, the austere Purebloods and him, the lowly Half-blood. But alas, wouldn't it be fun to make them kneel before him? Would it not be entertaining to watch as they grovelled at his, the Half-blood they had looked down upon (though respected for his scary knowledge of the Dark Arts), feet and begged him for his favor? And from there, his planned formed. The perfect plan to kill two pathetic birds with one enormously entertaining stone. Since that fateful day last year Tom had focused all his energy into his goal.
This year the new Head Boy picked up right where he had left off. Although he did not have a fool-proof plan quite yet, he had come across some things in the Restricted Section that had given him good ideas. This year he would gather all those threads of ideas and bind them together into one overarching plan—deciding his actions after he left school. Anyway, months flew by in a haze of dissatisfaction and unhappiness, and before Tom knew it, Christmas break had arrived.
Tom stood freezing on the dropping-covered floor in the Owlery, attaching an inquiry letter to Borgin & Burkes about possible employment after graduation. He had to start somewhere looking for founder's objects for his newly discovered master plan, after all. As he leaned out the window to release the Barn Owl, he saw a curious flash of green light streak across the horizon. It swooshed across the visage, cris-crossing and even doing figure-eights only to come to a screeching halt as it landed heavily somewhere out in the Forbidden Forest.
That was weird, thought Tom. And he decided to check it out later that night.