The Voldemort Diaries—Chapter 1 (And So It Begins)
(SPOILER ALERT WARNING! Please note this story is a direct spinoff from my fanfic Death Eater No More. I am working on the assumption that you have read that fic, and thus there will be no explanations of characters or situations that occurred in that story but carry over here. If you have not read that fic, I'm afraid you will be hopelessly lost, and even chapter one here will cause major spoilers for Death Eater No More. Please read Death Eater No More first, you won't be sorry if the reviews are any indication.)
A solitary boy sat shivering against a forbidding grey cinderblock wall, his knees drawn up to his chest to conserve heat, his shoulders hunched. Piercing dark eyes scanned the snow-covered playground where a multitude of children of all ages gathered. The older teens engaged themselves with clustering in small cliques to talk and laugh while the younger children ran about chasing each other, pitching snowballs, bouncing a saggy ball. The boy hadn't been invited to join his comrades; he had not taken part in a voluntary group activity for so long he honestly couldn't remember a time that he'd been a true part of the whole.
Tom Riddle scowled at no one in particular. It was for the best. He was better than they were, after all. Not that the orphanage matrons or the school teachers were alert enough to pick up on it. One day he'd make something of himself and he'd show them all, they'd be sorry for shunting him aside, for not recognizing that he was special.
A burst of fury shot through his veins. Across the yard a lad about Tom's age approached at a fast clip as he pursued the barely inflated ball over the cement. Just before reaching the spot in front of Tom, he lost his balance and tumbled forward to land hard on one shoulder. A shrill scream split the air, followed by hysterical sobs.
Tom slid against the wall to his feet as the matron in charge hurried over, her accusing gaze already fixed on Riddle. "What did you do?" she bellowed as she bent over the injured child. "William, what ails you?"
"I f-fell," William stammered, his face nearly as white as the snow he lay in. "It hurts, it hurts!"
The woman helped the boy to his feet with the aid of a teenaged youth. "Did Tom trip you?" she persisted.
William swung his head limply. Had he not felt so utterly wretched, he'd have gladly blamed Riddle solely to watch him receive a scolding. "I just fell." And then he proceeded to faint.
The woman turned a sharp eye on Tom, who glared imperiously back at her. "I never touched him." He spun on his heel and stalked away, a smug smile lighting his face.
March 25, 2000
Dec. 31, 1936
Today is my eleventh birthday. Nobody ever notices, so of course it was a shock when those frumps who run the orphanage gave me—of all things—a bloody blank book! They had the gall to look at me as if expecting gratitude. At first I was tempted to throw it back in their simpering faces, but I held back. I mustn't make them too cross with me. I figure I may as well give it a go. We're not allowed to write in our schoolbooks, so this has a subversive feel to it that is rather exciting.
I'm not stupid. I know they only gave me this diary in hopes of reading what I write or to keep me away from the others as much as they can. They've had 'doctors' look at me, now they're trying to trip me up in writing. The joke is on them then, isn't it? I plan to hide it where they'll never find it, so I am free to write whatever I like. And why would I want to hang around those brats here? They hate me and avoid me, and I'm glad. I don't need any of them.
The staff hate and avoid me as well, like everything around here is my fault. Was it my fault that pug faced William fell down and broke his collarbone in two places? Bad example—but I never touched him. And it definitely was not my doing that the furnace broke down yesterday and we're all freezing our arses off! They only caught me in the cellar because I was trying to fix the damned thing! It's not like I enjoy being cold, for crying out loud, why would I sabotage it?
Didn't matter, though, they yelled at me and sent me to bed like a baby. They'll always find ways to blame Tom Riddle, orphanage scapegoat. I hate it here. If there was anywhere to run, I'd be gone.
Severus came to the end of the entry, his ebony eyes lingering over the cramped together, slanted words, reluctant to let go. As clearly as if he were witnessing it in a pensieve, in his mind he saw an eleven-year-old Tom Riddle huddled on his bed with a drab grey blanket round his head and back, hunched over the diary scribbling his thoughts. Sharp images of William tripping over his own feet and Tom's upbraiding for destroying the heater were seared into his brain. Snape felt an odd, sudden burst of….kinship, which wrenched him back to reality. The very notion of identifying with Voldemort on any level made him want to vomit.
"Severus, are you alright?"
The voice of his wife shattered the fragile mental image and caused him to start. He hadn't heard her come in, which bothered him more than might seem natural. After all this time since Voldemort's death, he still valued the lessons he'd learned from nearly twenty years as a spy; to be caught off guard made him feel incredibly vulnerable.
Instinctively he snapped shut the diary before turning around. "I'm fine, Aline. Why wouldn't I be?"
"You were making a little retching noise, I thought you were sick. You look very engrossed in your reading. What have you got there?" Aline crossed the room to Severus' desk and peered down at the plain brown cover of a book roughly the size of Severus' palm. One hand casually caressed her husband's silky mane while the other reached toward the diary.
Severus intercepted her hand between both of his and brought it to his lips. "It's merely a book I found yesterday in Voldemort's secret room at the old castle ruins. You'd find it very dry."
"Maybe," she said, bending down to kiss him. "But you've spent a good hour on it already, so it can't be too boring."
"An hour?" he repeated in disbelief, cocking an eyebrow. Had she been anyone else, he might have included his trademark sneer. And then he noticed how dim it was in the room, no light was coming through the window. It hadn't yet been dusk when he began to read, and it had only been two small pages. How could he have spent so much time on one blasted entry?
"Come on, supper's ready and I'm starved—and so are the babies." She patted her four-month-along belly bump. "I made spaghetti. I think they like it."
"Just like their mother," remarked Severus as he rose from his chair smiling indulgently. He stroked her abdomen with a rush of passionate ardor before planting a hard kiss on her mouth. And to think how often he had teased Lucius and made fun of him when he acted the same way toward Narcissa! Now he understood why. "I love you so much."
"You'd better," Aline smiled back, chocolate brown eyes twinkling. Taking his hand, she attempted to pull him toward the dining room of the formerly Prince estate. "We mustn't keep the twins waiting."
"Heaven forbid," he answered drolly. His one hand quivered briefly over Tom's diary; in a lightning move he snatched it up and surreptitiously stuffed it into the pocket of his robes before allowing Aline to drag him off for supper.
Lucius smacked his lips gently and his eyes fluttered halfway open. Groggily he peered down at the weight on his chest, expecting to see Narcissa's blond hair splayed over him. He started softly. It was a blond head alright, though a few shades lighter than Narcissa's, and he smiled as he caressed his son's back with a loving sigh.
Edging his feet over the side of the sofa, he slowly maneuvered his way into a seated position so as not to wake the year-old boy. Inching his way to his feet, he stretched his cramping back. This was the third night in a row that Ladon had been cranky and fussy, unable to sleep and driving his parents mad. The child wasn't ill, Dr. Livingston had thoroughly examined him and given him a clean bill of health; at the moment Lucius was at his wit's end from lack of sleep. If this continued, he'd be forced to ask Severus for a sleeping potion. As much as he hated to drug his child, there came a point where he had to weigh the pros and cons and make a decision accordingly. And the potion wouldn't harm the boy….
He glided across the floor, taking the stairs in a smooth gait, and headed down the hall to his room where the heinously expensive carved crib that had once been Draco's was set up beside his bed. As with Draco, Lucius and Narcissa had welcomed Ladon into their bed to make feeding easier without having to get up in the night, and to give the baby a sense of security, which cut down substantially on the incessant crying. When Narcissa had been kidnapped and tossed through the Veil by goblins, Lucius had clung to Ladon ever more tightly, and that grip was coming back to haunt him. Ever since Khala's birth in December, when the new baby had usurped his position, Ladon had made clear his disapproval, mainly through nightmares and clinginess.
As he passed the nursery, used only for bathing and changing the tots, Lucius spied a pair of long legs stretched out from the rocking chair. He remembered Draco had carried his sister upstairs some time earlier, allowing Narcissa a bit of freedom from the demands of motherhood. He started on by, then came to an abrupt halt. Slowly he backed up two, three paces and peeked into the nursery. Yes, those certainly were another set of legs!
Stepping into the room, he spied Draco cuddling the slumbering Khala to his chest as he rocked on the chair. Across from him, leaning on the changing table, was Regulus. "Regulus, what are you still doing here at this hour?" asked Lucius, fishing for his pocket watch and unable to access it due to the boy plastered on his chest. "It's got to be after midnight."
"Closer to one, actually," grinned Regulus. "Draco and I got to talking, and—well, you know how it goes."
"What I know is Draco has to be up early, we've got a meeting in the morning with my real estate lawyer," replied Lucius. With one hand he made a motion for Draco to get up; he chose to ignore the rolling eyes accompanied by a martyr-like sigh.
"Do you mind if I tag along?" asked Reg.
Draco looked askance at his cousin. "Why would you want to? It's incredibly tedious and—" He glanced at Lucius' stern countenance then back to Regulus. "—and I'm so very glad to be learning…whatever it is I'm learning," he finished lamely.
In a tone not far from scolding Lucius remarked, "You are learning how to maintain and grow the family fortune. When I'm gone, that will be your responsibility, Draco, unless you'd prefer your children hire out as common labourers!"
Can you be a tad more dramatic, Father? The words hung on the tip of Draco's tongue before he wisely swallowed them. The Malfoy fortune as it now stood could handily last another three generations living the high life. Nonetheless, contradicting a sleep-deprived Lucius Malfoy didn't seem like the brightest idea, so Draco merely nodded and said, "I'll be there, Father."
"Can I come?" Regulus repeated. While living alone at Spinner's End had its perks, loneliness and boredom hardly counted as such. Besides, their enterprise sounded like fun.
"If you like," Lucius agreed reluctantly. "I'm considering purchasing the Pemwillow property in Dorset. Draco and I are to visit it tomorrow."
Regulus cocked his head, squinting ever so slightly. "You're thinking of buying that land? I'm no expert, but it seems like a pretty poor investment."
"What do you mean?"
"My dad used to visit Mr. Pemwillow sometimes, he'd take me along to play with the old man's grandson. Mostly the place looks nice enough, only when it rains it's a swamp for days after, and the cellar leaks really bad. I got a nasty lung infection one year from the mold—"
"Is there a point to this, Reg?" asked Draco, looking bored.
"Duh," returned Regulus snidely. "You can't build there, and the house is probably falling apart by now. I suppose you could grow crops, only your dad's no farmer." Regulus stopped to gaze curiously at Lucius. "What do you want it for?"
Lucius let out a low chuckle. "An investment….now that you've enlightened me as to some of the finer points, I'm not so sure I do want it. Perhaps tomorrow you can offer suggestions on some other properties I've got my eye on. Be here at eight o'clock—or better yet stay in one of the guest rooms if you prefer and I'll send an elf to wake you."
"Yeah, thanks, Lucius. I am kind of tired. Goodnight to you both." He wandered off down the hall and slipped into a nearby guest room.
Lucius gestured for his son to follow as he led the way in the opposite direction. "Come on, son. We need to get Khala and Ladon to bed. You know, you might take a lesson from Regulus. At least he acts interested."
"Maybe he is interested," Draco said dryly as he trailed behind. "I've never cared much for business—hey, I've a great idea! Teach Reg how to oversee the fortune and I can hire him as my money manager!"
Lucius didn't deign to reply. Draco was a Malfoy, he was going to learn what he needed to learn whether he liked it or not. If, when Lucius had passed on, Draco decided to hire Regulus, that was his business, but the boy would be firmly grounded in the family tradition regardless.
To his dismay, Lucius found himself considering the prospect of mentoring Regulus. He'd always deemed the kid to be scatterbrained and a good deal flaky, yet in retrospect he'd done some pretty sneaky, clever things worthy of his Slytherin and Black heritage—stealing Voldemort's locket among them. That took guts, even if Black had managed to get himself killed in the process. If Reg excelled in the business world, his reputation would gain him a good position in the Ministry—a built-in connection for Lucius. And God only knew the kid needed someone to advise him on investing his own money so he didn't end up like his idiot brother Sirius, in training to be an auror, of all things. Lucius shuddered to the core. He really, really hated aurors.
Smooth, rhythmic breathing told Severus his wife was asleep. Considering it was three o'clock in the morning, that was to be expected. Even so, he gazed over at her and waved a hand in front of her closed eyes. Ever so slowly he disengaged himself from her arms then slid to the edge of the bed and silently stood up. Taking his wand from the nightstand, he tiptoed to the chair he'd laid his robes on and began to feel in the pockets. Ah, there it was!
Quietly, oh so quietly he slipped from the room and down the stairs to his study. He closed the door and settled in at his desk. Suddenly he turned back, aimed his wand, and the lock snapped shut. Satisfied that he would not be interrupted, he laid the diary on his desk, opened it to the next entry, and leaned forward to immerse himself in Tom Riddle's life.
"Severus, where were you last night?" Clad only in a sleeveless maroon nightshirt that fell to her knees, her long hair disheveled, Aline crossed her arms as she stared down the man sitting at the breakfast table swilling his second cup of coffee.
"Reading," he answered curtly. At the flash in her eyes, he decided it was best to mollify the pregnant woman before all hell broke loose. "I got up early and I didn't want to wake you."
"You're not even dressed!"
"That's part of the not wanting to wake you," growled Severus in return.
Aline sidled forward until her baby bump collided with Severus' arm. "What were you reading?" It sounded more like a challenge than a question.
For the briefest moment Snape considered lying, and the thought both surprised and horrified him. He loved and respected Aline as he'd never felt about another human being, he simply could not lie to her. And even if he did, she'd find out. Her clairvoyance would eventually trip him up, she'd lose her faith and trust in him—she'd probably leave him, taking the babies with her back to Salem! His heart rate increased at an alarming rate until it felt like a kettle drum on speed, though his face remained impassive.
"I was reading one of Voldemort's diaries, I found it in the castle," he admitted, looking down at the table. To his own ears it sounded vaguely suspicious, he could only imagine what it sounded like to Aline. He didn't need to see the shock on her face to know it was there. He forced himself to face her. "Don't worry, it's not a horcrux and its not like the one Ginny Weasley used to open the Chamber of Secrets. It's no more than a diary."
"Voldemort's diary," Aline echoed softly, concern etched on her face and in her voice. "I see what you've been finding so enthralling, then. Have you finished it? You've been gone from bed since at least four o'clock when I got up to use the bathroom."
Severus' blood froze in his veins. Not again, how could this be? He'd read only two more entries—in four hours? He knew of no spell that could rush time along in this manner, and frankly it was very disquieting. To top it off, Tom's entries had honestly not been that interesting. "No, love," he murmured at last into his cup. "I still have quite a bit to go."
"Severus, you're worrying me. I'd think you'd want nothing to do with that maniac who made you his lackey for so many years. Is it about his murders, the tortures? Why is this so important you have to sneak out of bed to read it?" she pleaded with him.
"It's not any of that, Aline, it's just the ramblings of a little boy," he answered, putting his arm behind her and drawing her closer, laying his head on her abdomen. "It's not so important, I won't do it again."
Notably he made no promise to give up the book entirely. He could refrain from reading it at night, and he would—he'd said he would and he always kept his word. Yet for a reason he couldn't begin to fathom, he desired very much to continue reading this inane little journal ….more than that, he needed very much to continue reading.