Rating: T, but it might eventually be changed to M
Disclaimer: I am not J K Rowling and I do not own Harry Potter.
Credits: Just warning right out that the majority of chapter 1 is paraphrased from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J K Rowling.
The first batch of chapters that take place back in the 30's are very 'tell' and not 'show', most especially for the purpose of moving things along more quickly. Trying to cover several decades in as few chapters as possible requires skimming over a lot of stuff. I've tried to pick and choose my 'show' scenes and still keep them brief to keep things moving.
Summary: Follow the lives of two boys, both orphans, who grew up together with only each other to depend on as they suffered through fear and prejudice, and then the discovery that they were in fact, truly powerful, magical,people. Follow them as they form a bond that even death cannot break.
– – – – – Rebirth Chapter 1 – – – – –
In the middle of a terrible winter storm, on the thirty-first of December, 1926, a weak, sickly-looking woman, full with child, stumbled through the door of St. Ada's Children's Mission in London. She was already in labor, and the nuns and attendants of the orphanage quickly helped her into a room and called for a midwife.
She hadn't been there more than an hour before the baby was born. A boy, born with a thin dusting of pitch-black hair, black eyes, and precious features. He was a beautiful baby – a stark contrast to the woman who had birthed him, who few would ever claim a beauty. The woman lived just long enough to instruct the sisters to name him Tom, after his father, and Marvolo, after her father. And that he should carry his father's surname. Riddle.
Tom Marvolo Riddle.
And then she died. She never even told them her name.
It was four months later that another young boy was brought to St. Ada's Children's Mission. They estimated he was probably about the same age as young Tom. He was brought in by the constable who informed the sisters that he was found in the arms of a dead woman in the park. The woman had no identification on her, and was dressed oddly. The only form of identification for either was an embroidered name on the baby's blanket. Herakles.
It was an odd name. One of the sisters recognized it from Greek mythology, although she didn't really know the specifics of the old myth surrounding the character. Just that he was a son of Zeus.
They had no last name to go with the first, so one of the nuns named him Herakles Jude, after St. Jude, the patron saint of desperate cases. Herakles, being such an odd name, was quickly shortened to Heri by the nuns.
The evening that young Heri was brought to St. Ada's, he was placed in the same cot at Tom since there were none other set up. They were the two youngest, the next being already two and a half years old. Funds being as tight as they were, the newest addition was left to share a cot with Tom for nearly two months before they bought in another. And yet, there was no rush. The two seemed perfectly content to share a bed.
Tom had always been a bit of an odd baby. Always so quiet. Never cried. Heri was different. He was the smaller of the two, but seemed to have twice as much energy. He was also the only one that Tom seemed to connect with at all.
It was early July 1938, and Albus Dumbledore was walking briskly down the streets of London towards an old, gray-stone building with a tall wrought-iron fence around it. The sign on the gate read St. Ada's Children's Mission, London, England.
Dumbledore's long auburn hair and beard blew slightly in the breeze. He was wearing a rather flamboyant suit made of plum velvet and was drawing the shocked and bewildered gaze of the people on the street that he passed. He made his way up the small pathway to the front door and knocked. He was greeted by a young girl whose eyes widened considerably as she took in the old man's appearance.
"Good afternoon. I have an appointment with a Mrs. Cole, who, I believe, is the matron here?"
Oh," said the bewildered-looking girl who still seemed rather stunned by the man's eccentric appearance. "Um. . . just a moment . . . MRS. COLE!" she bellowed over her shoulder.
Dumbledore stepped into the shabby, but spotless hallway and waited with a calm smile on his face. Before the front door had closed behind him, a skinny, harassed-looking woman came scurrying toward them. She had a sharp-featured face and was talking over her shoulder to another aproned helper as she walked toward Dumbledore.
". . . and take the iodine upstairs to Martha, Billy Stubbs has been picking his scabs and Eric Whalley's oozing all over his sheets — chicken pox on top of everything else," she said to nobody in particular, and then her eyes fell upon Dumbledore and she stopped dead in her tracks, looking as astonished as if a giraffe had just crossed her threshold.
"Good afternoon," said Dumbledore, holding out his hand. Mrs. Cole simply gaped.
"My name is Albus Dumbledore. I sent you a letter requesting an appointment and you very kindly invited me here today."
Mrs. Cole blinked. Apparently deciding that Dumbledore was not a hallucination, she said feebly, "Oh yes. Well — well then — you'd better come into my room. Yes."
She led Dumbledore into a small room that seemed part sitting room, part office. It was as shabby as the hallway and the furniture was old and mismatched. She invited Dumbledore to sit on a rickety chair and seated herself behind a cluttered desk, eyeing him nervously.
"I am here, as I told you in my letter, to discuss one Tom Riddle, and one Herakles Jude, and arrangements their future," said Dumbledore.
"The both of them? Are you family of either?" asked Mrs. Cole.
"No, I am a teacher," said Dumbledore. "I have come to offer Tom and Herakles a place at my school."
"What school's this, then?"
"It is called Hogwarts," said Dumbledore.
"And how come you're interested in these two?"
"We believe they have qualities we are looking for."
"You mean they've won a scholarship? How could they have? They've never been entered for one."
"Well, they have both had their names down for our school since birth —"
"The both of them? They're close, but I know they're not related. They both came to use at different times, even. It's hard for me to imagine that two boys here would both be down for your school. Who put their names down? Their parents?"
It was quickly becoming obvious that Mrs. Cole was an inconveniently sharp woman. Dumbledore subtly withdrew his wand from the pocket of his velvet suit, at the same time picking up a piece of perfectly blank paper from Mrs. Cole's desk.
"Here," he said, waving his wand once as he passed her the piece of paper, "I think this will make everything clear."
"That seems perfectly in order," she said placidly, handing it back. Then her eyes fell upon a bottle of gin and two glasses that had certainly not been present a few seconds before.
"Er — may I offer you a glass of gin?" she said in an extra-refined voice.
"Thank you very much," said Dumbledore, beaming.
It soon became clear that Mrs. Cole was no novice when it came to gin drinking. Pouring both of them a generous measure, she drained her own glass in one gulp. Smacking her lips frankly, she smiled at Dumbledore for the first time, and he didn't hesitate to press his advantage.
"I was wondering whether you could tell me anything of Tom Riddle's and Herakles Jude's history? How the two came to be in your care. You said they came at different times?"
"That's right," said Mrs. Cole, helping herself to more gin. "Tom came first. I remember it clearly, because I'd just started here myself. New Year's Eve and bitter cold, snowing, you know. Nasty night. And this girl, not much older than I was myself at the time, came staggering up the front steps. Well, she wasn't the first. We took her in, and she had the baby within the hour. And she was dead in another hour."
Mrs. Cole nodded impressively and took another generous gulp of gin.
"Did she say anything before she died?" asked Dumbledore. "Anything about the boy's father, for instance?"
"Now, as it happens, she did," said Mrs. Cole, who seemed to be rather enjoying herself now, with the gin in her hand and an eager audience for her story. "I remember she said to me, 'I hope he looks like his papa,' and I won't lie, she was right to hope it, because she was no beauty — and then she told me he was to be named Tom, for his father, and Marvolo, for her father — yes, I know, funny name, isn't it? We wondered whether she came from a circus — and she said the boy's surname was to be Riddle. And she died soon after that without another word. Well, we named him just as she'd said, it seemed so important to the poor girl, but no Tom nor Marvolo nor any kind of Riddle ever came looking for him, nor any family at all, so he stayed in the orphanage and he's been here ever since."
Mrs. Cole helped herself, almost absentmindedly, to another healthy measure of gin. "Heri came some months later. The constable brought him in. It appeared his mother died in the park while holding him. Someone found something fierce wailing in the arms of a dead woman. Brought him here. His blanket had his name 'Herakles' on it, but nothing else. The woman didn't even have any papers, so we had no idea what surname to give him. One of the girls gave him the name Jude."
She swallowed down another bit of gin as she paused. Two pink spots had appeared high on her cheekbones. Then she said, "They're odd boys, those two."
"Yes," said Dumbledore. "I thought they might be."
"Thick as thieves, too. Never go anywhere without the other. But the other children don't want much to do with them... They're... odd."
"Odd in what way?" Dumbledore asked gently.
"Well they –"
But Mrs. Cole pulled up short, and there was nothing blurry or vague about the inquisitorial glance she shot Dumbledore over her gin glass.
"They've definitely got a place at your school, you say?"
"Definitely," said Dumbledore.
"And nothing I say can change that?"
"You'll be taking them away, whatever?"
"Whatever," repeated Dumbledore gravely.
She squinted at him as though deciding, whether or not to trust him. Apparently she decided she could, because she said in a sudden rush, "They scare the other children."
"You mean they're bullies?" asked Dumbledore.
"I think they must be," said Mrs. Cole, frowning slightly, "but it's very hard to catch either of them at it. There have been incidents. . . . Nasty things ..."
Dumbledore did not press her, though it was clear that he was interested. She took yet another gulp of gin and her rosy cheeks grew rosier still.
"Billy Stubbs's rabbit. . . well, Tom said he didn't do it and I don't see how he could have done, but even so, it didn't hang itself from the rafters, did it?"
"I shouldn't think so, no," said Dumbledore quietly.
"But I'm jiggered if I know how he got up there to do it. Even with Heri's help... and Heri gave him an alibi, but we all know that's nothing to really go on. All I know is he and Billy had argued the day before. Tom insisted the fight was because Billy was picking on Heri. And then" — Mrs. Cole took another swig of gin, slopping a little over her chin this time — "on the summer outing — we take them out, you know, once a year, to the countryside or to the seaside — well, Amy Benson and Dennis Bishop were never quite right afterwards, and all we ever got out of them was that they'd gone into a cave with Tom and Heri. They swore they'd just gone exploring, but something happened in there, I'm sure of it. And, well, there have been a lot of things, funny things. . . ."
She looked around at Dumbledore again, and though her cheeks were flushed, her gaze was steady. "I don't think many people will be sorry to see the back of them."
"You understand, I'm sure, that we will not be keeping them permanently?" said Dumbledore. "They will have to return here, at the very least, every summer."
"Oh, well, that's better than a whack on the nose with a rusty poker," said Mrs. Cole with a slight hiccup. She got to her feet, and remained surprisingly steady, even though two-thirds of the gin was now gone. "I suppose you'd like to see them?"
"Very much," said Dumbledore, rising too.
She led him out of her office and up the stone stairs, calling out instructions and admonitions to helpers and children as she passed.
"Here we are," said Mrs. Cole, as they turned off the second landing and stopped outside the first door in a long corridor. She knocked twice and entered.
"Tom? Heri? You've got a visitor. This is Mr. Dumberton — sorry, Dunderbore. He's come to tell you — well, I'll let him do it."
Dumbledore entered the room and came within the view of two young boys. The smaller of the two was sitting cross-legged on the floor with a book in his lap and his eyes widened comically as he took in the old man's appearance. The other, who was sitting on the edge of his bed, looked over Dumbledore and narrowed his eyes in suspicion.
Mrs. Cole closed the door and the group was left in silence for a moment. Both boys looked quite similar. Black hair, although the one sitting on the bed had his combed back very neatly and styled while the smaller one on the floor's hair seemed to be a bit more crazy and insistent on fighting against the forces of gravity.
The boy on the floor quickly began to scramble to his feet, setting the book on the small bed behind him, against the opposite wall.
"How do you do?" said Dumbledore, walking forward and holding out his hand.
The smaller boy who was already on his feet glanced briefly at the one still sitting on the bed, before turning back to the eccentric-looking man and hesitantly taking his hand and shaking it.
"Are you Herakles or Tom?"
"I'm Herakles," the boy said slowly. His eyes were slowly narrowing.
Tom hesitated a moment longer before standing up and taking Dumbledore's hand as it was offered again. Dumbledore drew up the hard wooden chair and sat down it, as the two boys sat down, side-by-side on the bed that Tom had occupied a moment early.
"I am Professor Dumbledore."
"'Professor'?" repeated Tom. He looked wary. "Is that like 'doctor'? What are you here for? Did she get you in to have a look at us?"
He was pointing at the door through which Mrs. Cole had just left.
"No, no," said Dumbledore, smiling.
"I don't believe you," said Tom. "She wants us looked at, doesn't she? Tell the truth!"
He spoke the last three words with a ringing force that was almost shocking. It was a command, and it sounded as though he had given it many times before.
Tom's eyes had widened and he was glaring at Dumbledore, who made no response except to continue smiling pleasantly. After a few seconds Tom stopped glaring, though he looked, if anything, warier still.
"Who are you?" Heri asked in a cold voice.
"I have told you. My name is Professor Dumbledore and I work at a school called Hogwarts. I have come to offer you a place at my school — your new school, if you would like to come."
Tom's reaction to this was most surprising. He leapt from the bed and stood directly in front of Heri in a defensive position, separating the small boy from Dumbledore, and looking furious.
"You can't kid me! The asylum, that's where you're from, isn't it? 'Professor,' yes, of course — well, we're not going, see? That old cat's the one who should be in the asylum. We never did anything to little Amy Benson or Dennis Bishop, and you can ask them, they'll tell you!"
"I am not from the asylum," said Dumbledore patiently. "I am a teacher and, if you will sit down calmly, I shall tell you about Hogwarts. Of course, if you would rather not come to the school, nobody will force you —"
"I'd like to see them try," sneered Tom.
At this point, Heri had managed to grab a hold of Tom's forearm and was pushing him to the side. Tom looked down at him and the two's eyes connected. Neither said a word, but it almost seemed as if a silent conversation had passed between the pair because Tom gave a small growl and sat back down on the bed beside Heri.
"Hogwarts," Dumbledore went on, as though there had been no interruption at all, "is a school for people with special abilities —"
"I'm not mad!" Tom snapped.
"I know that you are not mad. Hogwarts is not a school for mad people. It is a school of magic."
There was silence. Tom had frozen, his face expressionless, but his eyes were flickering back and forth between each of Dumbledore's, as though trying to catch one of them lying. Heri's face seemed to shift from shock to realization to elation.
"Magic?" Heri repeated in a whisper.
"That's right," said Dumbledore.
"It's. . . it's magic, what we can do?" Tom said.
"What is it that you can do?"
"All sorts," breathed Tom. A flush of excitement was rising up his neck into his hollow cheeks; he looked fevered. "We can both move things without even touching them. Heri disappeared from the grounds and appeared up on the roof," he paused and glanced over at the smaller boy who was nodding his head in acknowledgment. "I can make animals do what I want without training," Tom continued breathlessly. "I can make bad things happen to people who annoy us. People who try to hurt Heri. I can make them hurt if I want to."
Tom's hands were shaking now and he bowed his head, looking down at them for a moment before clasping them in his lap. "I knew I was different," he whispered to his own quivering fingers. "I knew we were special. Always, I knew there was something."
"Well, you were quite right," said Dumbledore, who was no longer smiling, but watching Tom intently. "You are both wizards."
Tom lifted his head. His face was transfigured: there was a wild happiness upon it, yet his finely carved features seemed somehow rougher, his expression almost bestial. His head turned and he looked at Heri sitting beside him, who was looking awestruck. Their eyes met and a wild grin spread across Heri's face.
"Are you a wizard too?" Heri asked, turning back to Dumbledore.
"Yes, I am."
"Prove it," said Tom at once, in the same commanding tone he had used when he had said, "Tell the truth."
Dumbledore raised his eyebrows. "If, as I take it, you are accepting your places at Hogwarts—"
"Of course we are!" Tom shot back.
"Then you will address me as 'Professor' or 'sir.'"
Tom's expression hardened for the most fleeting moment before he said, in an unrecognizably polite voice, "I'm sorry, sir. I meant - please, Professor, could you show me - ?"
Heri sent a side-along glance at Tom and smirked slightly before masking his face and giving an equally polite smile to the Professor.
Dumbledore drew his wand from an inside pocket of his suit jacket, pointed it at the shabby wardrobe in the corner, and gave the wand a casual flick.
The wardrobe burst into flames.
Tom and Heri both jumped to their feet howling in shock and rage. But even as Tom rounded on Dumbledore, the flames vanished, leaving the wardrobe completely undamaged.
Tom stared from the wardrobe to Dumbledore; then, his expression greedy, he pointed at the wand. "Where can I get one of them?" Heri's eyes were also drawn directly to the small wooden stick Dumbledore held in his hand although his expression was less greedy and more awestruck.
"All in good time," said Dumbledore. "I think there is something trying to get out of your wardrobe."
And sure enough, a faint rattling could be heard from inside it. For the first time, Tom looked frightened. Dumbledore watched as Heri's eyes widened in horror and he swallowed thickly watching Tom with worry appearing on his face.
"Open the door," said Dumbledore.
Tom hesitated, then crossed the room and threw open the wardrobe door. On the topmost shelf, above a rail of threadbare clothes, a small cardboard box was shaking and rattling as though there were several frantic mice trapped inside it.
"Take it out," said Dumbledore.
Tom took down the quaking box. He looked unnerved.
"Is there anything in that box that you ought not to have?" asked Dumbledore.
Tom threw Dumbledore a long, clear, calculating look.
"Yes, I suppose so, sir," he said finally, in an expressionless voice.
"Open it," said Dumbledore.
Tom took off the lid and tipped the contents onto his bed without looking at them. Once free of the box, they stopped quivering and lay quite still upon the thin blankets.
"You will return them to their owners with your apologies," said Dumbledore calmly, putting his wand back into his jacket. "I shall know whether it has been done. And be warned: thieving is not tolerated at Hogwarts."
Tom did not look remotely abashed; he was still staring coldly and appraisingly at Dumbledore. At last he said in a colorless voice, "Yes, sir."
Dumbledore turned his gaze on Heri, expectantly. The smaller boy swallowed again and nodded his head. "Yes, sir."
"At Hogwarts," Dumbledore went on, "we teach you not only to use magic, but to control it. You have — inadvertently, I am sure — been using your powers in a way that is neither taught nor tolerated at our school. You are not the first, nor will you be the last, to allow your magic to run away with you. But you should know that Hogwarts can expel students, and the Ministry of Magic — yes, there is a Ministry — will punish lawbreakers still more severely. All new wizards must accept that, in entering our world, they abide by our laws."
"Yes, sir," said Tom and Heri simultaneously.
It was impossible to tell what Tom was thinking; his face remained quite blank as he put the little cache of stolen objects back into the cardboard box. When he had finished, he turned to Dumbledore and said baldly, "We haven't got any money."
"That is easily remedied," said Dumbledore, drawing two leather money-pouches from his pocket. "There is a fund at Hogwarts for those who require assistance to buy books and robes. You might have to buy some of your spell books and so on secondhand, but —"
"Where do you buy spell books?" interrupted Tom, who had taken one of the heavy money bags without thanking Dumbledore, and was now examining a fat gold Galleon. Dumbledore handed the other to Heri who quickly opened it and placed two coins, a Galleon and a Sickle, on his palm, observing the differences.
"In Diagon Alley," said Dumbledore. "I have your lists of books and school equipment with me. I can help you find everything —"
"You're coming with us?" asked Tom, looking up.
"Certainly, if you —"
"We don't need you," said Tom at once. "We're used to doing things for ourselves. We go round London on our own all the time. How do you get to this Diagon Alley — sir?" he added, catching Dumbledore's eye.
Dumbledore handed Tom, and t hen Heri the envelopes containing their lists of equipment, and after telling the two of them exactly how to get to the Leaky Cauldron from the orphanage, he said, "You will be able to see it, although Muggles around you — non-magical people, that is — will not. Ask for Tom the barman — easy enough to remember, as he shares your name —"
Tom gave an irritable twitch, as though trying to displace an irksome fly.
"You dislike the name 'Tom'?"
"There are a lot of Toms," muttered the boy. Then, as though he could not suppress the question, as though it burst from him in spite of himself, he asked, "Was my father a wizard? He was called Tom Riddle too, they've told me."
"I'm afraid I don't know," said Dumbledore, his voice gentle.
"My mother can't have been magical, or she wouldn't have died," said Tom, more to himself than Dumbledore. "It must've been him."
"So — when we've got all our stuff— when do we come to this Hogwarts?" Heri asked, drawing attention away from Tom's mutterings.
"All the details are on the second piece of parchment in your envelope," said Dumbledore. "You will leave from King's Cross Station on the first of September. There is a train ticket in there too."
Heri nodded and Tom's attention was finally drawn back from the contemplative mode it had been in moments earlier. Dumbledore got to his feet and held out his hand again.
Taking it, Tom said, "I can speak to snakes. I found out when we've been to the country on trips — they find me, they whisper to me. But Heri can't do it. Is that normal for a wizard?"
"It is unusual," said Dumbledore, after a moment's hesitation, "but not unheard of."
Dumbledore's tone was casual but his eyes moved curiously over Tom's face. They stood for a moment, man and boy, staring at each other. Then the handshake was broken, and offered to Heri. It was a much briefer interaction, although young Heri was clearly scrutinizing the elder wizard with narrowed, suspicious eyes. Finally, he broke as well and a moment later Dumbledore was at the door.
"Good-bye, Tom; Herakles. I shall see you at Hogwarts."