Everything started in the late summer bustle of 1935. His beginning was in the heart of London, of all the wonderful places to make a start in life. The urban setting was still busy booming with all that new technology and style. It was supposed to be one of the most vibrant places to live. However, that was mostly a ruse. The city was only so kind to open its doors to people who already had a foot in them. Not everyone was allowed to feel the warmth of this bright-lighted city of wonder. There was the sly catch of being born at the right place and time, belonging to the right family. Belonging to anyone really. He was not so fortunate. He was born eight years before this resurgence of life, in 1926, on the steps of the city's orphanage.
Wool's was a significantly happier place to be before he got there. However, as if preparing for the arrival of a most unwelcomed patron, bad things suddenly started happening. Hardships began with an untimely death. The establishment was once run and founded by a Mr. Archibald Cole. He was a vibrant man, with a great passion to help the less fortunate. Along with his loving wife, Maggie Cole, they made sure no child was left alone on the streets of London. Mr. Cole was nearly 35 years old when he died of sudden illness one cold winter. Everything unraveled in his wake. Especially his wife. The orphanage was now in her hands and she did not have the faintest clue how to run it. There were many days she cared about nothing, a day or two when she was far too strict, and some days that she just broke down, crumbling. To add even further to her troubles, her husband's death was only the first of the many tragedies to occur at Wool's Orphanage.
Exactly a year after the death of her husband, a boy was born.
Not her child, certainly. She was already past her child-bearing years and could barely handle the dozens she'd been saddled with beyond her will. The mother was a young woman, who looked not much older than eighteen. A common slag who you'd look away from on the street, no one you wanted to look twice at. If she hadn't arrived on the orphanage steps in labor, Maggie Cole would've most certainly turned her away. However, the woman had shown up on the steps of the orphanage, mad with desperation and pleading for help. She had arrived on New Year's Eve of all the inconvenient days, nearly in labor already.
Why was a miracle, such as the birth of a child, thought of as such a tragedy? Unfortunately, the young woman wanted to die, but insisted that the boy go on without her. She died mere minutes after the birth of the beautiful baby boy, leaving him pretty much the only child to ever be born an orphan. His mere existence was a tragedy. The poor child was cursed from that night onward. He'd been born in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and by the wrong person.
The boy would spend the most vital years of his youth struggling to fight against the omnipotent forces that had decided on cursing him. No matter what he did any future he craved for himself was flushed down the toilet immedietly. There was supposedly nothing good waiting for him. However, it was the summer of 1935 that brought another unfortunate and unwelcomed new arrival to meet him.
She was nothing good.
"He's such a strange boy."
There were a total of five workers employed at Wool's Orphanage. Mrs. Cole had no choice but to hire them after the death of her husband. It was clear that she couldn't handle running an orphanage on her own. Although, to be fair, who could handle over thirty kids 24/7 and not be driven completely insane? With five others to help her, they maintained a slightly more orderly establishment. On that particular late August afternoon, two of the workers were sitting at the old wood table by the kitchen, folding dish rags and clean clothes that had just been taken off the line. They sat gossiping about the same old thing, like most woman do in their spare time, hardly getting any work done. Mrs. Cole was still in her office sorting through some paper work about a new arrival. So, they were allowed to move at such a glacial pace and whisper.
"He's always been a strange boy. Ever since the day he was born, there's been something just a little off about him," the woman sitting beside her answered back, dropping her work just to cover her mouth with her hands. If he saw them talking, whether it was about him or not, they would be punished, "Never cried or made a fuss, as a babe. It's positively abnormal for a baby boy not to cry."
"Sometimes he genuinely frightens me. I think he belongs in the asylum." the other woman admitted, folding another freshly cleaned dish rag and placing it on the small pile of the already folded. The women were trying not to peer over into the room across the way filled with playing children. If they were to catch the subject's eye, they would most certainly be his next victims and suffer many consequences. However, it was really pointless to try and fight the tempting urge. He sucked people in, yet they were still terrified to look at him. Both of the workers sat at the table blatantly staring at the subject of their conversation. It was a young boy, who was no more than eight years of age. He was quietly sitting by himself in the far corner of the playroom, with his head buried in the same old book.
His name was Tom Riddle.
The boy who was born an orphan. An infamously tragic creature, yet surprisingly a beautiful one as well. Even at this young age, he was already thought to be incredibly good looking. The workers tended to say nasty things about his mother's complexion when they thought he wasn't listening. He, however, was considered to be the image of childhood perfection. His dark black hair was always neat, with every hair in its proper place. His pale skin somehow managed to remain clean and unscratched, like a flawless porcelain doll. Based on his appearance, the orphanage workers should've adored him, and he ought to be quite popular with the other kids. However, Tom Riddle was a monster that they feared above all else. He had a deathly glare that could be miles away and still give you shivers. Not to mention all the strange things that just seemed to happen around him.
Ever since the incident where Billy Stubbs's beloved pet rabbit was hung from the rafters by its ears, the rumor came around that you would be 'cursed' if you even so much as looked at Tom for more than a second. The other orphans had come to think of him as pure evil. The son of Satan. The devil in disguise. Meanwhile, the workers whispered about his new sociopathic behavior. He was born an odd child, but for some reason in recent days it had gotten a lot worse. Very soon Tom would bump up his status to a full-blown psychopath and would probably try to kill one of them in the near future. Even though no one could prove it was him, the rabbit didn't hang itself from the rafters, now did it?
All the rumors were true. Well, mostly true…
Tom Riddle had discovered around age six that he had strange powers that could make things happen. It wasn't exactly 'cursing', but these abnormal abilities that made ripples in reality. While he didn't know the exact origin of these powers, it wasn't like he was going to object to being out of the ordinary in a place where everyone was so painfully plain. Based on mostly conjecture, Tom had predicted he was born like this. He was born an irregular freak. Mrs. Cole told him his mother had been in the circus, when he'd once had a very brief nagging period about where his real parents had gone. It made sense that he was a freakish being.
Although, Tom hadn't gained much awareness or control over his powers till a few years ago, since then, he's been using them to torment and torture the other kids in the orphanage. The kids started to leave him alone, out of the fear of what he could possibly do to them if they got too close. Their imaginations ran wild but were not considered to be so outlandish since Tom had grown the creativity and mindset of a serial killer. In his polluted mind, everyone around him had become garbage and filth. There wasn't anyone worth talking to or befriending in such a dull, miserable place. The others just didn't get what it was like to have all this power and be so viciously different. Even at such a young age, they were all engineered to shun the abnormalities that made people different, which evidently left Tom exiled from the others, whether he tortured them with his powers or not. He was perfectly fine with the arrangement. If he was going to have anyone around, he'd want it to be someone who could understand this curse.
And there would be no one like that.
Tom looked up from his book to give the two women, both blatantly staring at him from the hall, a loathsome glare. They shot up from their seats immediately and started fast-walking down the hall, clunking clumsily over their chairs in a desperate attempt to get away. He smirked to himself a little and went back to his reading, like he hadn't done a thing. Unfortunately, Tom only got in a few sentences, when Mrs. Cole came marching into the room. At first, he thought it was to scold him for the obvious act of terror he had inflicted on those hags. However, then he noticed there was a girl awkwardly shuffling behind her. Mrs. Cole clapped her hands, getting the attention of all the kids and they gathered in front of her and the newest arrival.
"Everyone I'd like to announce we have a new member joining us today. Please make her feel welcome." Mrs. Cole smiled. The kids tried looking behind her, to catch glimpses of this addition, but the girl was hiding silently behind Mrs. Cole, clutching onto her trunk for dear life. Tom was the only one to get a good view of her because he had refused to get out of the corner for something as trivial as a new girl. However, he did look at her. Tom had glanced at her, out of curiosity and maybe the slightest hope for someone interesting. She was staring at him too. Just staring at him. Her eyes were transfixed on the corner, like she was unsure if he was real or ghost. Tom pretended to go back to his book, in the hopes she would quit her incessant stare. Finally, after what seemed like several moments, she stopped and walked out in front of Mrs. Cole, so everyone could see what Tom saw. The girl appeared to be around eight. Her hair was down in large wavy hazel locks that seemed to perfectly match her eyes and contour her pale rosy cheeks. She dressed a little nicer than the other girls, but not very fancy. The peter pan collared floral dress rose just above her knees, displaying two short legs with a speckle of scattered scars. Tom's stare had gotten caught specifically on the gruesome imperfect sight with a slight curiosity. She was a rather plain looking girl, beyond her intriguing series of scars, yet had some sort of radiance about her that made her sparkle and stand out amongst the crowd. It was most likely just the illusion of being the shiny new arrival. It would soon go away as she became assimilated into one of them. Although, Tom strangely felt that there was something about her that was familiar to him, like he'd seen that incessant stare and light eyes before. However, there was no possible way he could've known her unless she had been here before. Which was even more unlikely, considering both your parents normally only died once.
"Why don't you introduce yourself, dear?" Mrs. Cole suggested, gesturing with her hands for the girl to step closer to the other kids. She decided to remain her distance, but still spoke on command.
"I—m—Frankie. It's a—a pleasure to meet you all." she muttered, at the floor more than anyone in particular. Tom was listening from the corner, unable to really do much else considering the scene the new girl was making. He noticed it was an awkward, stiff introduction. The girl didn't give much confidence in her own name and forgot to give her surname with it. It wasn't a particularly odd thing, considering her age, Tom was just making more observations and judgments. A wave of whispers washed through the crowd. They were most likely judging her after only introducing herself, like Tom was, only louder.
"I'll take this, dear. Why don't you start getting acquainted with everyone before supper starts?" Mrs. Cole insisted, grabbing the trunk from her. Frankie looked as if she wanted to protest but didn't say anything about it. The second Mrs. Cole stepped out of the room the other girls immediately swarmed around her, while the boys trudged off back to their own games. Tom stopped his unintentional staring, as the annoying group of orphanage girls began introducing themselves to her. She was most likely going to become one of them within the hour. However, something about her made him look up yet again, unable to focus on the words of his book. Even though the scene she was making was mostly over, it was odd. The more he looked at her, the more out of place she seemed in the group she was supposed to mirror identically. Maybe it was just because she was a new element, but Tom thought she had a different aura then the rest of them. Then, unexpectedly, Frankie looked his way again too. While the group of girls were busy talking with a slight exclusion, she casually slipped out and started walking towards him.
"Hello, my name is Frankie. What's yours?" she smiled, holding out her hand. Tom didn't answer her. He was frankly shocked from the sudden friendly gesture. It had been so long since someone attempted to be so kind with him. Perhaps, the other girls hadn't told her about him yet, which was strange because it seemed like their favorite thing was to tell stories of their run-ins with him in the past. They were all insufferably, dramatic damsels. Surely, they must've told her how strange he was and how he would curse her if she didn't stay away.
Well, it didn't matter if she didn't know right now. She would learn soon enough. No matter how different she seemed from the rest, once she found out about him she would be the same as everyone else. He was just about to tell her to go away, when Amy Benson swooped in, grabbed Frankie's other hand, and pulled her back toward the group. Tom sighed in relief at the problem that had solved itself and simply went back to reading, desperately trying to think no more about her oddity. Meanwhile, Amy was still pulling along the confused new girl who didn't understand what was happening.
"What're you crazy? You shouldn't go near him." Amy gulped, once she believed they were at a safe enough distance.
"Why? He seemed really nice." Frankie stated, gazing back at him in the corner of room. Even though she didn't get the chance to talk to the boy, he didn't seem all that bad. He actually looked kind of lonely, sitting there, separated from everyone else.
"He's incredibly dangerous! You'll get cursed if you so much as even look at him." Amy trembled. The other girls joined in on the paranoia, immediately knowing she was talking about Tom, and started telling their own stories about him. However, Frankie was barely listening. Her gaze was still fixed on the boy himself. They were so afraid that they wouldn't even use his name. The boy was referred to as 'He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, or 'You-Know-Who'. Despite the fact, Frankie didn't even know who and she couldn't accredit these outlandish stories, she was expected to hate him. She didn't understand why though. Why was everyone so frightened of him? The more she looked at him, the more he just seemed like a normal, lonely boy.
"Supper is ready!" Mrs. Cole called. Everyone hurried towards the door with tremendous speed, except Frankie and Tom. He sat unaffected by this sudden announcement, while she was wondering whether he had heard her or not. Amy came back and grabbed her once more, leaving Tom alone. He soon finished the paragraph he was reading and shut the book, only to find that he had once again been left behind. Tom silently sneaked back up to his room, while the other kids were washing up, not wanting to be at such a social occasion with that strange new girl around.
Once supper was over, the kids were forced to return upstairs to their rooms until the lights were supposed to go out. Frankie had not been shown her room when she arrived, so she wandered the darkening upstairs corridor, very lost. She didn't want to bother Mrs. Cole or the workers with something so trivial and be a burden on them, so she decided to figure it out herself. Not knowing what else to try, Frankie decided to open one of the many doors without knocking. What she found in room twenty-seven was Tom Riddle. He was sitting on the bed, reading in the dim light, looking no different than he had downstairs in the corner. Tom looked up, saw her awkwardly standing in his doorway, and scowled.
"What do you want?" Tom demanded, clearly angered by this sudden unwanted intrusion.
"I'm sorry. Mrs. Cole never showed me my room, so I—"
"So, you just decided burst into people's rooms and disturb them. Brilliant idea." Tom remarked, having already mastered perfect sarcasm at only eight years of age. Surprisingly, Frankie didn't take his anger and sarcasm to any offense.
She just smiled.
"Not a very well thought out plan, I suppose." Frankie laughed. Tom's stomach churned. The laugh seemed to fill him with a warm, fluttering feeling. Something he'd not experienced since his powers had appeared. She had the kind of laugh that made you want to laugh as well, even if the situation wasn't remotely funny. However, for someone like him, laughing at something other than the pure pain of others was pretty much impossible. He held in this sickening urge.
"If it's your room you're looking for, it should be one right next to this one. Room 26." he answered, pointing at the far wall to his left. Although, he didn't actually know that. There were a few vacancies at the moment, but 26 was generally always empty. If it was not, Tom made it so. Kids would rather double up on rooms, then be close enough to the Antichrist that he could hear them breathing through the thin walls.
Once Mrs. Cole finished checking her trunk for valuables, she would already find Frankie snuggled up in room 26, convinced she belonged there. It was not her room. However, it could've been hers, if Tom really wished it to be. And, for a curious moment, that was what Tom wished.
"Thanks!" she remarked, giving him a small wave goodbye, before shuffling out to what was her right. The word filled Tom with some other kind of gooey feeling he was not used to. He had heard it somewhere before. Not just anybody's "thanks", but her specific infliction of the word. How was that possible? He dropped the frustrating notion in seconds, figuring it was pointless to try and solve it. Even if he did, it certainly had no meaning to it. For all he knew, he saw her on the streets one day and picked up her dropped handkerchief, or something else positively trivial. It surely didn't matter. Tom had just gone back to reading when the door suddenly burst open again.
"I never got your name." Frankie added. She had rushed back just for that, to learn his name. She had acted as if it was the most important thing in the world. His cursed common name.
"It's Tom. Tom Riddle." Tom answered, stiffly, trying to hold back his bewildered expression.
"Okay, then. Bye Tom. I'll see you tomorrow!" she exclaimed, waving goodbye again as she closed the door once more. Meanwhile, Tom stared blankly at the door for a second, confused about what just happened. She knew. The stories, all the whispers and rumors, he knew that she had heard them after Amy had pulled her away. Yet she laughed normally in his presence, even smiled when she spoke to him. This girl was an utterly bizarre anomaly. He wanted nothing more to do with her. However, there was another small part of him that kind of wished she'd once again come flying through the door to ask him more trivial, meaningless questions.