Disclaimer: Not mine.

For the Hogwarts Online Forum.

in Just-
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little lame baloonman

whistles far and wee

and eddyandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old baloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and


baloonMan whistles

In Just

E.E. Cummings

In Just

Post war Albania

It was a small village, tucked into the mountains of northern Albania, sheltered from the outside world by its lack of road access and lack of modern conveniences. Too small for most, too old and backwards, but as he had told the rental agent, "Location is of the upmost importance." If any one had been bold enough to talk to him, and had been foolish enough to ask such a personal question, he would have had to admit that the agent had out done himself. However, the fact of the matter was that this was a perfect place because no one would dare to engage him in unwanted conversation. Not that the agent would ever be seen again to brag about the rich foreigner that had just rented a house that had sat empty for years, for he would not.

Tom Riddle did not draw attention to himself, not in those first weeks. He walked the dirt roads, nodding politely to the old women who gazed after him, thinking that such a good looking man would make a fine mate for their granddaughters, not aware of the slyly cast memory charms that would leave them dazed and confused. He blended and fit in, wore brown Muggle style suits with wide lapels and oversized pockets into which he easily slid his wand.

Magical communities, outside of the larger cities, were often populated with the least desirable and the most distrustful of wizards. Even here, a mere fifty kilometres from a major city, he had found the pillars of Kanun still being observed, and knew it would make it easier to do what he had come for, to practice his skills and perfect his craft. In this strange mix of honour and family feuds, magic took a backseat to the daily chore of living and survival.

He walked each morning, slowly, watching the mill hands trudging to work, their mid-day meal shoved in their back pockets or in a black metal box that swung from a hand. He watched the woman hanging clothes on thin lines of rope, as they hoped the gentle mountain breeze would dry the laundry before the storm clouds that were gathering in the mountains again let loose with their fury. However, his attention was captured, later in the day, as he watched the children walk to school.

Sitting outside the small café, the only one in such a small town, he watched the uniformed children jostle their way down the pavement and sipped a cup of espresso, waiting to find the one he needed.

It was not an easy thing to find a child suited for his needs. The difficult part was to ferret through their minds as they hurried by, moving too quickly, too noisily, too full of disorganized memories. Since his last failure to make a Horcrux, he had turned his eyes to the young, to those still too innocent to have their souls corrupted, too sullied to fill with a new life.

"Are you eating today?" The serving girl appeared at his elbow.

"I think not, thank you," he said dryly. "Tell me, is there a book shop in the locale? I have been unable to find one."

"No," she answered, looking at him oddly, not daring to ask why such a gentleman as he would have taken up quarters in their town. "The grocer orders what we don't have here. Since the war has ended, we don't often travel beyond the wards. Tis still unsafe."

"Yes, yes the wards," he sighed and stood slowly, reaching in his pocket and pressing the price of his espresso in her hand. "I am surprised such a place, full of old people, should have so many children. It is unusually and…heart-warming… to see the old ways still being taught after so much death and destruction."

She nodded sadly, watching the last of the day's parade of children as they ran happily down the road toward the school. "So many lost their parents in the war. Many thought helping the Muggles would protect our lives, now look, a place of orphans and unwanted."

"The orphans, they attend this school as well?"

"Those do, the ones whose mothers thought it fine to lay with the Nazis are not allowed," she spat in disgust, clearing the table and swiping it with a wet rag. "Let them rot, if you ask me they should have been killed with the whores that pushed them out. Our honour was put to shame and will not be put right until the last of the bastards are gone."

Tom Riddle smiled and politely tipped his hat, walking away, whistling as he went.

A/N: Due to the formatting problems on this site, the poem by E. E. Cummings has not reproduced here with the original spacing. Since the spacing does influence meaning and flow of the poem, I do apologize for this.