notes: for round two of Fanfiction Idol on HPFC. if I get through, this will eventually be turned into a collection of my pieces for the competition!

non-linear timeline, which I am finding much too fun to write these days.


fallen from grace

nightmare, plant a seed
in a garden of doubt
turnpike ghost, steel train


There is one thing you need to know.

Tom Riddle walks alone.

Always.

/

Tom Riddle is a boy with dark hair, dark grey eyes, and, as the maids of the orphanage whisper, a dark soul.

/

The girls murmur about how he steals away in the night and comes back in the morning with crescent moon shaped bags under his eyes that make him look far, far older than nine years old.

The boys mutter about how he's a weird one, how he creeps out from nowhere like the devil from the shadows, with a blank expression on all of his face but his eyes.

His eyes always have been too alive for his face.

/

Tom Riddle grows up to be a handsome young man with many acquaintances and no friends. He is Head Boy — feared sometimes and admired always — with a charming smile and an impeccably clean record.

Dumbledore suspects, though. Dumbledore has always suspected.

But what is suspicion with no proof?

/

At six, Tom Riddle is the boy who pulls wings off of butterflies and leaves them to die in the rain.

/

The girls giggle in the corridors about how dashing and charming he is as he walks by them with a swift, "Hello, ladies."

If only they knew, he thinks to himself with a satisfied smirk.

/

"He's one for the watching," the matron says to a young maid one day, a day after Billy Stubbs' rabbit was found dead, hanging from the rafters. "It was him, I swear it on me mother's grave!"

But what is suspicion with no proof?

/

There's a girl, because there's always a girl.

Only she's different. Her skin is ethereal grey and her eyes are soulless and lost. She is haunted, tormented, vulnerable.

That word leaves the sweetest taste in his mouth.

She will be of use, he thinks.

/

By eight, Tom Riddle is the most articulate boy at the orphanage. He can run rings around the other children with mere words, whisper their darkest fears when they're in bed at night, persuade them to do as he wishes.

He is powerful, and he knows it.

/

This girl, her eyes glow like a cat's in the night and her mouth is a permanent downward curve.

She is not happy, no, and she will never be happy again.

But for mere moments, Tom can enchant her with words and coax the tiniest grin out of her stubborn lips.

This girl, she will be the key to his immortality, though no breath shall ever pass through her lungs again.

/

A diary lies open on the floor, a puddle of ink like blood spilling around it.

Tom siphons the black liquid away, closes the book deftly and smirks in triumph.

He has finally succeeded.

/

"I can make bad things happen to people who are mean to me," he breathes. "I can make them hurt, if I want."

He does not notice the alarmed expression that passes across the older man's face.

/

MURDER IN THE BATHROOM, scream the ghosts and the portraits and everyone who is pretending to care about little Myrtle that no one ever liked anyway.

Tom saunters down the corridor with the girl's blood invisible on his hands and an eerie smile on his face.

Dumbledore suspects, but Tom walks free.

/

"Voldemort," he whispers, twirling his wand between two ghostly pale fingers. A smirk flourishes on his lips and his eyes are too wild for any human face.

He's Tom Riddle no longer. No, he is Lord Voldemort, and the world shall soon know.

/

He whispers sweet secrets to the girl and watches her trust him more and more with each word.

Soon, he thinks, licking his lips. Soon he will know.

/

Myrtle is screaming in a cubicle in the girl's bathroom that has now been closed off. Tom leans casually against the door frame, listening to her wails. There's a loud splash and he assumes she's tried to drown herself again.

Such a pity, he thinks, that she can't do that.

"I'd say I'm sorry," Tom says coldly, turning to leave, "but I'm not."

Myrtle continues to sob, unknowing.

/

Loneliness is never an option. Not for Tom.

/

He finds the word in a dusty old book that has not been lifted from the Library in what looks like centuries. The smell of must is overwhelming as he opens it, scanning each page quickly with his hawk like eyes.

The first instance of it lies in the middle of a paragraph on the seventy second page, boxed in by less powerful words. He has no interest in them. There is only one thing he has been thirsting for, and the answer lies within his reach.

With trembling lips, he breathes the word aloud, running his finger across the indented word. He can feel where the writer pressed his quill in and hesitated halfway through.

"Horcrux."

/

It is time.

"Helena," he whispers to the girl, feeling her ghostly fingers slide through his hand in the only gesture of affection she can perform. "Tell me where your mother's diadem is."

/

Five. He has made five. One more, just one more until he has split his soul into seven, with the last piece remaining in his body.

Nagini slithers close, her smooth body bumping up against his feet as he walks.

He knows it will be her.

/

Even after he has twisted himself until he is unrecognisable, even after his grey eyes have turned red, even after he has regenerated, there is still a part of him that is Tom Riddle from the orphanage.

/

"I love you, Tom," Helena tells him, her voice miles away. She floats closer to him, her previously white dress billowing out behind her. "I love you."

Tom, in turn, leaves.

/

"Avada Kedavra!" He points his wand at the child. It should have worked.

Instead, Tom lets out an animalistic screech with the only thought that something has gone very wrong indeed. He is blasted into vapour, into nothing more than smoke on the breeze, shooting over cities and countryside in an attempt to save himself.

He hides.

/

He pretends he did not ever feel anything for Helena Ravenclaw, with her closed off face and quiet nature. She was only a pawn in the grand scale of things.

He is, after all, a very good liar.

/

Tom surveys his followers with contempt. They are mere tools in his quest for power, though they do not know this yet.

"You must pledge your loyalty to Lord Voldemort," he hisses, pacing round the circle.

"Of course, Master," comes the murmurs from every side of him.

"Your word is not enough." He steps back into the centre of the circle. "And so, I have come to a conclusion. Each of you," he lets his eyes touch each and every person, "will be branded with something that I call… the Dark Mark."

/

Dorcas Meadowes is the first member of the rebel group, the Order of the Phoenix, that he kills in person.

She put up a good fight, he thinks in hindsight.

Just not good enough.

/

"Give it back!" Tom shouts, stepping towards the smaller boy. His eyes are narrowed in dislike. "Give it back. Now."

"No," says Billy Stubbs determinedly. He clutched something in his hand behind his back.

"I'll make you pay," Tom promises between gritted teeth. "You'll be sorry, Stubbs." He takes one last glance at the boy and retreats back to his room, his thin frame strangely threatening.

/

They all suspect he's behind it — the killings. First Hepzibah Smith, followed by a chain of mysterious murders that no one can explain. The suspicion is there, however — hiding behind the eyes of many who believe they were not just accidents.

But what is suspicion without proof?

/

Merope Gaunt died alone, Tom discovers.

With shaking hands, he sets down the old newspaper cuttings and turns his face away. Emotion is not common in his life.

And so he destroys it.

/

In the end, even after Potter has challenged him to feel remorse, even after he has been destroyed by his own rebounding Killing Curse, even after he has locked eyes with Albus Dumbledore in a setting that looks much like the Slytherin Common Room, he still walks alone.

Because Lord Voldemort — no, Tom Riddle (for he is still, still that young boy with the dark hair, dark eyes, dark soul from the orphanage) — will walk alone, forever.

- fin -