From his evolution from Tom Riddle to Lord Voldemort, seven women who influenced his life the most. Canon-compliant.
Tom Marvolo Riddle has visited his mother's grave a total of three times: Once, when he was finally old enough to understand. Once, when he found out he was a wizard. Once, after he had killed his paternal family. Choked with weeds and moss, the headstone reads, in a most lonely manner:
D. 31 December 1926
It was all the orphanage matron had known about her. For years it was all he knew.
She gave him life, carried him for nine months, bestowed on him a name, and from her he inherited magic and an ancient bloodline—he should probably be thankful, he knows. But he isn't; he's just bitter. The face he has isn't his, and neither is his name, and he hates both for belonging to someone else first. His heritage is a great gift but also a great burden. His classmates may revere Slytherin's blood, but Tom has seen the rotted hovel his uncle lives in, and knows there's nothing glorious about it and there probably hasn't been for a very, very long time.
The first time he saw his mother's headstone, Mrs. Cole stood behind him as if she expected him to cry, or talk to the person buried below his shoes, or perhaps pray. He doesn't, and decides early on that 'I won't end up like you. This barren grave won't be mine.'
The older women like to speculate that Mrs. Riddle died of a broken heart, it's "romantic." It makes good gossip when they start talking about him when they think he's not listening; so Tom swears love off too. His mother is proof that love kills. He won't ever let anyone get close enough to kill him.
The second time he visits her, he isn't even sure why he goes. He has an hour to get to the train station and it took thirty to get here, and still he stands there and stares at her headstone, which has only worn more over the years, dandelions crowding its base like some God-given bouquet, because he knows that no one has ever laid a flower here, least of all himself.
He fancies that he gets his magic from his father, but at that age he doesn't know for sure, and he hates not knowing. Still, in his young, barricaded heart he wishes she were present so that he had someone who would smile at him and embrace him and tell him how proud she was like in the families he sees when he spies in through people's windows.
But, Mrs. Riddle isn't there to embrace him or be proud of him, so he'll just have to be proud of himself, and he sets off with that in mind. After a while he comes to believe it.
The summer of his sixth year, he finds and murders his paternal family. Patricide. Things previously clouded come to light, and the picture revealed is painful and grotesque. It's one of the few times he lets go enough to cry.
"How could you?" he groans to the headstone, his fingers digging into the wet earth. His fingers are streaked with dirt, mud clumped under his nails, and he wants to tear through the earth until he reaches Mrs. Riddle—Merope! Mummy!—so that he can rip the decayed flesh from her miserable bones and destroy her.
He feels so robbed, so betrayed, so abandoned, which doesn't entirely make sense—for how can you be betrayed by someone you never knew?—but there it is, regardless, hot and sour, like old milk. He never knew her name before. It sounds like a little girl's name. He had not known his mother's story, had never been able to picture her face or imagine her upbringing, not until he had glimpsed it through the eyes of those who had. And it is horrible from every angle, like something out of a bad dream.
It's shameful that his muggle blood is nobler than his magic heritage. It's awful that he shares more than his name with his hated father—his unwilling father—he has to share his face too. It's not his name. It's not his face. They're hand-me-downs, just like his clothes.
"Why with him? Why with that horrible muggle? Why!" He shrieks. There's water on his face and he forces himself to believe it's raining, though he can't feel moisture on any other part of his body.
"He didn't think you were good enough for him, and still-still you-! Why wasn't I enough for you? What made him so much better than me? I wasn't good enough for him either!" His spine arched like an animal, he presses his head to the grass and screams out years of pent-up emotion.
He wishes he could hate her; he wants to hate his mother. Yet, he can't gather up the motivation to actually do so, because he understands, in a roundabout way. He can understand why she was so desperate to leave that stinking shack, with the snake nailed to the door, and get away from that madman that was her brother. Growing up with a family like that must have been worse than the orphanage, and Wool's Orphanage is awful.
The up-and-down bob of a yellow lantern alerts him to the approaching grave keeper. Snarling and sniffling, he stands on wobbly legs.
"I'm not coming back, never," He hisses with serpentine lips. "I won't end up like you. I will never love, and I will never die. I'm not sorry, for anything, and I'm not thankful to you for giving me this life."
He leaves without saying goodbye, and more than a body is left buried in the dirt.
So, an exploration of the Riddle character in seven parts! I always love getting to play around with Merope, and getting to fumble around with Tom's relationship with her was soooo enjoyable. I think it's often underplayed in young!Tom fics. He may not give a damn once he's older (ooh, my childhood was awful, please shag me, haha), but he was a child once. A wicked child, but still a child.
Read, review, and all that jazz, my dear snarklings!