Disclaimer: Harry Potter and Tom Riddle aren't mine. If they were... Well, let's not linger on that.
A/N: This is somewhat AU. In this version of Riddle's childhood, he was adopted by a muggle at a very young age. I'm making this change because I want to create a fairly redeemable Riddle, and therefore I want to give him a character background that is suited to the plot arc I have in mind.
Also, this will eventually be slash. Very eventually. I like my stories slow and realistic. But yeah, SLASH means a man with a man, in case any of you have managed to lurk on without finding out. And I mean together. Beware.
There will be some form of time-travel involved. I KNOW it's a cliche, but hell, even Rowling uses it to pull off the PoA plot. So don't groan when I send Harry back in time, I promise that the actual plot devices I will be using after that point are fairly original.
ALSO, THIS IS IMPORTANT: This story will be written entirely in first person PoV narration, but with interchangeable narrators. When I write as Tom, my language will inevitably be purple, pompous, arrogant and overly complicated. He is not meant to be likeable yet; he is still an arrogant little shit. Because that's how I imagine Tom talks to himself. This is NOT how the whole story will be written, so bear with me.
Who am I?
Mmmm. I am not sure I know where to start, to be honest; I can't even claim to be human with as much certainty as I'd like to. As for my name, Tom Marvolo Riddle, it does in no way define me, and neither does my age. I am not sure why my identity would matter anyway, for, after all, the only thing that matters is what I will achieve. We are what we can do.
One day you will know me, but under a different name. I will change the world.
I sit by the windowsill, silent, with my back resting against the chipped wooden frame, and a thick, heavy tome cracked open on my lap, exuding the deeply pleasant smell of aging paper and worn leather binding. It is not a tremendously interesting read, to be frank; Grullius Woodhive's dreadful writing style rubs me the wrong way, especially his horrendous abuse of punctuation, and the subject of his studies itself, that is, multitarget-curse-breaking in the 15th century, albeit passably interesting, is far from being at the top of my learning priorities, as are, for example, said multitarget curses themselves.
And yet, trapped in this nauseating, repulsively quiet Muggle neighbourghood, and forced, since I am but thirteen as of yet, to live with my atrocious step-father (whom, in my mind, I never refer to as anything but the man) when not attending Hogwarts, I have very little to do, and even less that could be considered an acceptably worthy pursuit for one such as me. Besides, when I retreat to the soundless darkness of the room, he tends to give up on his disgusting attempts to play family with me, and, thank all that there is, he leaves me to my own instruments for a comfortable while, to enjoy my solitary activities and the best of companies. My own self.
I would have long disposed of him, and have long thought about the vast variety of possible ways -skinning curse, poison, Unforgivables, lasting blood-boiling curse, hexed artifacts- to accomplish it, if it were not for the fact that, after murdering him, I would most likely find myself forced to either return to that accursed orphanage, or be put under the care of some other appalling Muggle, neither of which options would likely constitute any improvement upon my present predicament. See, this pitiable, sebaceous, sleazy creature that I am woefully forced to tolerate and co-exist with came to adopt me when I was but six years old or so, and has since that time spent endless hours trying to form some manner of a filial bond between the two of us.
I cannot even find the words to adequately describe the depth of my loathing for him, his fathomless, dark, consuming hatred that grips my insides tightly and barbarically every time I lay eyes on him, his vile form, his jaundiced eyes, or hear his pathetic, unctuous voice calling out to me.
"Tom... You've been here for seven years. I know you've had a bad childhood, but it's not my fault. When will you accept that I'm your father now?"
I have no family.
I need no family.
Besides, I honestly doubt that, deep inside his wretched soul, the affection he holds for me is entirely of the innocuous kind, for as young as I am, I am disillusioned in matters of human relationships, and wise enough to know with absolute, unshakeable certainty that people do not offer one another their devotion unless they are to receive something they desire in return. Furthermore, I am only too sharply aware of my own attractiveness and charm, and how it has drawn and keeps drawing people to me, eager to bask in the light of boundless charisma, to acquire me for themselves. So it comes as no surprise that he, too, would wish to place his oleagenous hands on me, to press his lips against my cheek, to enjoy my company, the sebaceous bastard, the lowly, despicable worm.
But whatever it is he believes he shall gain from me, he shall not, for I feel not even the slightest, most minute shard of gratitude for my farce of an adoption, for his parody of a fatherly love, and for whatever he seems to think he has provided for me and should be thanked for. The sole reason I am temporarily willing to tolerate his gut-clenchingly sickening, repelling presence in my life, is so that I may live with a relative amount of peace and quite, and devote myself fully into my magical studies, submerge myself into the Dark Arts and the Magicks of War, ever bringing closer the fulfillment of my long-term desires and ambitions. By the end of my stay at the orphanage, naturally, even as young as I had been at the time, the other children, miserable and misfortunate little weepers, had also learned to stay away from me and not disturb me unless I so desired, for they had witnessed well the vicious and cruel consequences of irritating me. And yet, a house were one can be truly alone is still a better alternative to a crumbling, weathered mess of an estate, filled to the brim with hapless, noisy, irksome little humans getting in one's way all the time.
With a soft and elegant gesture, I bring a long, pallid finger upwards and wet it ever so slightly against my lips, using the humidity so that I may more smoothly turn the worn pages of my current read.
"Tom! Dinner is ready," his smarmy voice reaches my unfortunate ears, interrupting my blissful studying, and once again I fill the insides of my physical body filling to the brim with explosive, red-hot choler and malignity, the waves of wrath causing my nerves to clench and my teeth to clash together violently. That grotesque, worthless waste of organic tissue and oxygen, I think to myself vexedly; lonely and piteous as he was he thought perhaps that he could acquaint himself with and adopt a young child, and condition it into accepting his foul affection, his emetic goodnight kisses, his greasy fingers petting it.
You chose the wrong child.
I wish you dead.
Eventually, knowing that if I try to resist any longer he will simply keep intruding my pleasant solitude with an increasing amount of auditory pollution, I glide down the stairs and into the tasteless, kitsch dining room, where he sits before a rectangular table, serving what he apparently deems to be food.
"Are you hungry, my boy?"
"I am not your boy."
"Not this again, Tom! What have I done to deserve this? I have given you all I could. When will you start accepting that I..."
"That you are my father? You are not. Do not try to be funny, Hornby, thinking I'd ever accept any connection to a muggle, for I most certainly shall not. Not now, or ever, and no matter what course of action you choose, we will never be family, for I have no want or need of one. Especially not one like you."
And yet, for all the times I'd made my position perfectly clear, I am perfectly aware that he will simply not give up on trying to establish some manner of bond between the two of us, his pitiful efforts and ensuing arguments making my life insufferable. On occasion, even, our arguments turn intense, and even violent; and it is then that I ardently curse my fate, for I know that if I do not manage to adequately restrain my ire and unleash my power upon him, I shall most likely end up calling Aurors to my location, and for all the magical talent and skill I hold, I am likely too young to take down a unit of Aurors.
As of yet.
All in due time.
It is funny, however, in a most unamusing, ironic manner, that our neighbours all seem to be so deeply fond of me, so eager to ask him concerning my well-being and my academic progress, blissfully unaware of the deeply twisted and disgusting nature of our unstable co-existence, that has so far only relied on the fact that I am not willing to risk a sentence in Azkaban. It is funny indeed how, when I curve my rosy lips upwards in a sickly sweet smile and cast down the sky-blue eyes I hold shyly, spewing a few words of courtesy and making use of my most admirable and extraordinary acting skills, I can so easily manipulate the hearts of others, causing them to see naught in me but a most excellent son.
"What a lovely boy! Sweet, quiet, handsome and polite! You must be very proud of your son. I hear he is doing great in school, as well. What an exceptional child..."
I used to hope that when I reach Secondary school I shall have more time for myself, and away from all these repugnant, meaningless people, but I had not, at the time, been aware of the fact that my magical abilities when not an isolated case, but then, instead, there was an entire educational system created to cater to the needs of magical children, and thus when I got my Hogwarts letter, if anything, things got worse, it one can think of something worse than this dull, repetitive, disgusting lifestyle. He wanted to know nothing of wizards, spells and unicorns, he said that all he cared about was my well-being, and that he didn't deem me ready to live alone for such long intervals of time, for I am violent and ill-behaved. I believe he was simply angry that I was to be gone away for a few months a year, to a place evidently preferable, and that he couldn't prevent it.
And unfortunately, up to now, I still need to go back to him every summer, back to his greasy arms and his excruciating desire for some manner of proximity, for this damned Ministry will not emancipate an individual as young as I.
The Ministry of Magic... It needs a radical change, and I will make sure such a change occurs, one day.
No one will be judged by their age, their wealth, their connections. Only one criterion is natural, just, irrefutable; and it is power.
Before I return to my room, he suggests that we visit his sisters, but I find myself being less and less motivated to attend places in which I will not be alone or with people of my own choice, even if it concerns my personal health and wellbeing, even if, for the sake of pretense and to maintain my unblemished profile, I probably should. No need is stronger than the one to flee this mass of giggles and lipids and non-functioning braincells, soaked in sweat and make-up and noisome aromas, wrapped up tightly in a revolting sense of fashion. "Sugar-coated faecal matter", to quote an aquaintance of mine, Abraxas Malfoy. I find it a great description, very fitting to most of the human race nowadays.
Curses. I wish the pathetic, gossiping cows that you call sisters dead, as I wish you dead, and this neighborhood, and everyone that soils my life with their unworthy presence.
Actually, I might just be ever so slightly exaggerating. I do not loathe every single human being just because they happen to be a human being, and I have to confess there is a lamentably small number of people, magical ones obviously, that I do find relatively interesting and even, at times, when I am truly desperate for company, appealing. Woeful how their number can be counted with the fingers of one hand, and how they all seem to be cursed with this pitiful desire to be lead and manipulated; a desire I could quite easily take advantage of, though, and that, I believe, I am meant to take advantage of.
Oddly enough and despite their own blatant flaws, some of these people agree with me in a great range of subjects, and most of them experience similar feelings towards the rest of the human beings (or at least a vast percentage of it) as I do. It's comforting sometimes to know that I am not the only being undergoing this tsunami of ill-natured, venomous feelings, especially towards muggles. Perhaps it is a common point of interest that I should consider cultivating.
And yet even when in Hogwarts, I cannot bring myself to experience even the slightest enjoyment in exchanging pleasantries with my fellow Slytherins, or in attending my lessons, as my disappointment in the magical world, that I once believe would provide me with the excitement and challenge and pleasure my life lacked, grows stronger by the day, the wizards surrounding me proving to be barely any less wretched and contemptible than the Muggles of my neighborhood.
Hogwarts, the place I once hoped I'd discover some form of personal peace it; even there I feel nothing anymore.
A change there is needed, as well. A change in staff, in curicculum, in standards of entry; Hogwarts shapes the magical youth of tomorrow, and it needs to teach them strenght, self-reliance, natural hierarchy, war. It needs to teach these blabbering little idiots, these silly bumblebees, that the world is cruel, that muggles are envious and unfogiving, and that sooner or later, it will be either us or them.
As I struggle to maintain my reason, sitting alone in my own little world, the man comes. He comes and pets my head, blemishing my hair with his oil, and looks at me with his dull, deformed, humid eyes. He offers me a soapy, suggestive smile and reveals his repugnant teeth. His monstrosity is so offensive that I feel helpless before this hideous slime. I want to kill him, rip him open and tear him apart and reduce him to bleeding pieces of organic matter, but I just can't seem to find the strength to move my numb limbs. I want to cast a blood-boiling curse, and a slicing one, and ten Avada Kedavras. Quite curiously I can't decide whether the fact I let him live is a good thing, a positive fruit of the effort to keep myself sane, or if it's a pathetic outcome of some form of cowardice.
"Are you all right Tom? You've been in there reading this book for hours."
Now once again I see him before me, as I have been everyday during years, lying pitiful and pathetic in a pool of bodily fluids, whimpering and begging, trembling and snivelling. I don't know if it's once again just my vitriolic fantasies and virulent wishes or if this time I really lost control and assaulted him. I don't care to know. I hold onto my slaughterous, sanguinary fantasies involving him in order to preserve my sanity, for they keep me from committing murder too soon, something which would put my plans in danger. Without them I would not be able to hang on.
And therefore I just step forward and kick him in the stomach as hard as I can, hearing the soggy sound of his intenstines being damaged. I laugh at the blood dripping through his lips. And I kick again and again until I feel sure that his venter is full of shapeless, crimson pulp.
I break his fingers one by one, these fingers he wanted to caress me and grab me and feel me with. I step violently on his face and break his huge crooked nose. The sound of its cracking adds into my bliss and I kneel and slash his nauseating visage with my nails, the one he wanted me to kiss, and I tear bands of skin off, and I rip his throat open, and I castrate him as I squeeze the genitalia under my boots, and I dig his flesh up until I reach his skeleton. I don't know whether I want this to be real or not. It scares me, how unmerciful and sick I am, and I don't know if I want it to be real, the fact that I really lost control, I really let it all loose, I really did it all at last.
Of course I didn't do it, silly me.
I am still here, alone in my room struggling with myself, willingly hallucinating, offering myself comforting visions of vengeance against this nauseating world.
And as the days, the weeks, the years, flow in a torturingly slow rythme, I lose everything even remotely positive I ever had inside me, and receive nothing in return. Even when I am in a good mood, amongst pleasant wizards, participating in activities I thought I enjoyed, lessons, Quidditch, I am void. There is only disgust and repulsion left inside me for those that live and breathe around me.
But do not misunderstand. I love life deeply, and have very much to live for, since I am bursting with plans, with beauteous ambitions, with grandiose dreams and dark desires; especially ever since I discovered myself to be the biological heir of the admirable Salazar Slytherin, whose will echoes through the ages and flows into me, filling pleasantly the emptiness inside my chest. I simply tire, I presume, from the abominable waiting, knowing full well that I may not, for various practical reasons, set the majority of my brilliant plans in motion as of yet, being but a young adolescent, and yet feeling the darkest, angriest depths of my psyche thoroughly unwilling to withstand this charade anymore, to be bored to death.
This third year, it better be interesting. Or else I will have to make it so, I muse inwardly as I walk with slow, deliberate steps towards the large mirror, fixing my black, glossy hair into pristine, soigné waves, and ascertaining that my Slytherin necktie is perfectly, tastefully tied.
I definitely will; I grow dreadfully weary.
I always enjoy it when a brand new year begins. Fawkes does, too, and he is currently chirping happily, and a minute later he is singing something somewhat silly but rather pleasant. Only two clouds are casting shadows into my otherwise fairly unperturbed mind. Gellert, and the increasing number of attacks against muggles and halfbloods linked to him in central Europe, and the young Slytherin student, Tom Riddle.
Tom Riddle, who seems to be falling further and further into something cruel and dark with every passing year. He believes that no one notices, and I suppose he is largely right; most teachers and students are very fond of him, and find him very admirable. And even I, who can tell that there's something off, that he is treading down a thorny path, have little time or opportunity to do much about it, unfortunately. What a waste of talent, and what a waste of beauty, too.
I bite a chunk off a chocolate frog, and find myself unintentionally humming Bach's first Cello Suite. Tom, I think, needs someone to show him how truly young and incomplete he still is, how foolish, and how life and magic are so much more complex than he yet understands. But it cannot be me, for fate has already assigned me a Dark Lord, and it is my former lover, Gellert.
Soon enough, it seems, I will have to face him. Fair's fair. After all, I had a hand in allowing the making of him.
Truly, however, I do hope someone else but me notices that there's something somewhat wrong with Tom, before the young boy is beyond redemption. Someone strong, preferably, and intelligent, too. Also wise. With a good understanding of the kid's childhood. Better even a Legillimens.
Yes, I know. I will probably have to take care of this growing problem myself, too, in the end.
I stare at a piece of formal parchement lying boringly on my desk, and sigh.
"Dear Professor Dumbledore
We kindly remind you that a general outline of the teaching material for next year's Seventh Year Students is required for delivery..."
All work and no play...