Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
A/N: This is a rewrite of the story of mine called just 'Remorse'. Same story; well, actually, a lot of it is exactly the same, but now it's all from Riddle's point of view and in one chapter - which I think I always meant it to be, I just couldn't manage to actually write such a long one-shot. I hope you like it!
The Pain of Remorse
"Before you try to kill me, I'd advise you to think about what you've done … Think, and try for some remorse, Riddle … "
"What is this?" Voldemort cried. Of all the things that Harry Potter had said to him, beyond an revelation or taunt, nothing had shocked him like this.
"It's your one last chance," said Harry, "It's all you've got left … I've seen what you'll be otherwise … be a man … try … Try for some remorse … "
"You dare -?" said Voldemort again, but he was unable to summon the same amount of venom.
"Yes, I dare," said Harry, "because Dumbledore's last plan hasn't backfired on me at all. It's backfired on you, Riddle."
Voldemort's hand was trembling on the Elder Wand. Harry Potter's words had affected him more than the boy could ever imagine. He was suddenly pulled into a flashback, unintentionally remember the first murder he had ever committed …
Her name was Myrtle … Moaning Myrtle, they called her. She was always upset about something or other and no one liked her. No more than she deserved, of course, being the filthy little Mudblood she was … add her too-thick glasses and constant moping, it was a surprise that she hadn't been killed already.
It was so convenient that she chose that particular bathroom to cry in. With a few whispered words, the sink that led to the Chamber of Secrets opened and the Basilisk appeared. "Kill her!" I hissed. It was so easy – the snake didn't even have to do anything; Moaning Mudblood Myrtle opened the door of the stall without prompting. I watched with a wild, uncontrollable joy as my first victim locked gazes with the Basilisk, then collapsed.
And I made her murder into the first Horcrux, the diary. I took my time, as it was the first time and I needed to take particular care to get it right. This diary would be used for even greater purposes eventually. It had to be perfect.
Besides, there was no need to hurry … no on cared about Moaning Myrtle …
And if no one cared about her, even in her death, then why should I? Why should I care that I killed her? She was a Mudblood … a nobody … worse than a nobody …
Voldemort's hand trembled still harder as the memories sped forward through the next year and he relived the visit to the village of Little Hangleton, where he'd murdered his father and grandparents. They were Muggles – worse still than Mudbloods, of course – and yet, they were family, and could hardly be called nobodies …
They were sitting at dinner, all three of them. I stood behind them – invisible, of course – and examined the youngest with cold interest. He looked so much like me, or rather, I looked so much like him. I sickened me. To think that I could share not just the name, but the appearance of a Muggle!
This was him, then – the horrible man who had abandoned my mother because she was a witch and caused her to give up her magic and her life, leaving me in that orphanage! As I glared at the man I had always hated so much, my anger grew and suddenly I cast aside the spell of invisibility. The three Riddles turned, and I saw identical looks of terror. It was both liberating, to cause such fear, and shaming to see those terrified expressions on the expressions of those I must call relatives …
"Who are you?" Mrs. Riddle cried, leaping to her feet. I raised Morfin's wand to point it at her.
I had not planned on speaking to them, but I could not help it. "I?" My name – Avada Kedavra! -" My grandmother died. " - is – Avada Kedavra! -" So did my grandfather. I slowly turned to my father, if this man can deserve such a title, and said quietly. "Tom Riddle. Your son, Tom Riddle. Avada Kedavra!" And so the ring that I'd taken from Morfin because the second Horcrux.
And now, I'm supposed to feel for these Muggles, this family that abandoned me?
There was silence in the Great Hall as Voldemort and Harry continued to circle. Once more, his memories flashed forward, to the making of the next Horcruxes.
Hepzibah Smith. A rich, greedy woman with hundreds of priceless treasures. She didn't know what she was getting herself into, showing me the cup and the locket – future Horcruxes, both of them, and precious items that belonged to Hogwarts founders. The locket was rightfully mine and the cup deserved a better owner than Hepzibah Smith. She died to make the cup a protector of part of my soul – a noble death though she didn't know it …
Still, Hepzibah Smith was no Mudblood. She was a pureblood – and related to Helga Hufflepuff, no less.
Voldemort shocked himself at feeling a slight amount of guilt at the memory of the woman's death. Before he could banish the feeling, more memories came, faster and faster.
The locket wasn't transformed so quickly. Now that I think about it, I'm not even sure who it was that died to turn the locket into a Horcrux … a Muggle … a poor Muggle, I think . He lived in the village near he cave … I killed him out of convenience – he lived so close to the place I planned on hiding the Horcrux …
And the diadem. Again, a Muggle, this time a peasant from Albania. She lived near to where Helena Ravenclaw had hidden the diadem – again, killed because she was there. So she could serve a greater purpose …
Then there was Bertha. Killing her, as I explained to Wormtail over and over, had been necessary. Not only to make Nagini the final Horcrux – a decision made out of desperation, had I a choice, I'd never have made her into a Horcrux – but also because she knew too much. About Crouch, about Wormtail, about me. I had to be rid of her.
Voldemort, still circling, was astonished with himself. Never before had he attempted to justify killing people. Never before had he needed to – they were lesser, weren't they? Why did he need reasons to kill them? Still, now that he was thinking of reasons, they seemed hollow and false.
Her parents were Muggles … he abandoned a son he didn't even know he had … they were Muggles … she had what he wanted .. they were there … she knew things and had no other use …
With the possible exception of his father, none of this people had done anything to him personally. And then there were the countless that he'd killed, or had someone else kill.
Anyone who defied him, or stood in his way.
Lily and James Potter – because they wouldn't leave their son.
The other boy who had shown up at the graveyard, not even because he fought, but because there was no need for him.
For another minute or so, memories flashed through his head of all the times he'd ever used the Killing Curse. Most of the people were nameless; many were faceless as well, just shadows that had gotten in his way. An unknowable number of people were dead because of him.
Along with the question he'd never before bothered to ask came excruciating pain.
It was the pain of the people he'd killed. All that they'd ever experienced and all that they would've, had they lived. The pain of everyone who'd known the victims – parents, siblings, lovers, friends.
As the pain escalated, Voldemort started to shriek. This unbearable, intolerable. He threw aside the Elder Wand and, still screaming, put his hands over his ears as though trying to block out the pain. Tears began running down his face and he didn't even fight them.
Unable to make it stop, Voldemort did something he'd never done before – he ran. He ran from the school that had been the first thing and only thing he'd ever care for, his first and only read home – and the place he'd first committed murder. He ran until he was outside the Anti-Apparation spells and then he disapparated. Within minutes, he was back in the secluded forest of Albania, writhing on the ground in pain, trying to stop seeing phantoms of all the people he'd ever killed.
Slowly, the pain finally began to fade, until it was just a dull ache. Tom Riddle opened his eyes and stared up at the trees above him. Weak light filtered through leaves. How long had he been here? Days … Months … Years … ? He sat up and looked around. Nothing he could see gave any sign of the passage of time. He carefully pushed himself to his feet and gasped when he saw his hands – not pearly white, like they had been as Lord Voldemort, but light tan. A color they hadn't been for years.
Suddenly, he looked around again and, seeing a stream nearby, he rushed over to it. He gasped again upon seeing his reflection – his eyes were brown again, the pupils normal. He even had hair – brown, though graying. He smiled. His first smile of true happiness in years – perhaps his first ever.
Tom stood again, his happiness fading as he remember the past – had it really been more than sixty years since he'd killed Myrtle? The ache, left over from the intense pain of remorse, was still there and he knew it always would be. But right now he couldn't dwell on it. He had to apologize – to the friends and family of all his past victims. To the wizarding world in general. And first – to Harry Potter.
Tom pulled out his wand. The phoenix feather wand, of course. The Elder Wand was back at the school, but he no longer cared. He stared at the wand thoughtfully, turning it over and over in his hands as though he'd never seen it before. The things this wand had done …
He snapped it in half.
"I am a wizard no longer," He whispered, and let the pieces of his old wand slip through his fingers. It hit the ground with a soft thump and Tom knew that all his magical power had gone with it, because that was what happened when you renounced magic. His mother had done it, many years ago, and now he followed in her footsteps. He'd never use magic again, even if he wanted to. But he didn't wanted to.
Over the next few weeks, he made his way back to England, working at odd jobs to afford train tickets. He learned that it had been over nineteen year – nineteen years! - since the end of the Second Wizarding War, when he had disappeared. He took to using the name Thomas Gaunt, on the chance that in those years, Lord Voldemort's birth name had become known.
There was no lack of information on Harry Potter in the library. He was the hero of the Second Wizarding War, after all. There were even books written about him in the Muggle world, taken to be fantasy. Tom learned quickly that he had become the Head of the Auror Office at the Ministry of Magic – the youngest ever – and had married Ginny Weasley and they had three children.
One thing he could not find was an address. It make sense, he supposed. If Harry Potter's address were common knowledge, they would probably never get a minute of peace. He remembered that Harry had never liked attention.
Sighing, Tom left the library for the post office instead.
Dear Harry Potter,
I would like to inform you that I have done as you advised and could not regret my past actions more. I would also like to speak to you personally on this matter. Would it be possible to meet you somewhere?
Sincerely, Tom Marvolo Riddle
Tom read the short message through, trying to see it from Harry Potter's point of view. How would he react to this letter? Realizing that, coming from Harry's old arch-enemy, he might actually suspect it to be a trap. Quickly, Tom picked up his quill again.
P.S. I have broken my wand and renounced magic forever. You have nothing to fear from me.
He grimaced, thinking that it might look more like a trap than before, but couldn't think of anything else to put. He mailed the letter, then settled down to await the reply.
He didn't have long to wait. An owl dropped a letter in front of him less than an hour later. Tearing it open, he read:
My house. Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, London. One o'clock this afternoon. Come alone.
Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place? Wasn't that the Black's house? He shrugged it off. Sirius Black had been close to Harry Potter – it was quite possible Black had left his house to him. He looked at the clock and smiled a little – 12:30. Harry Potter certainly did not believe in wasting time.
Traveling by the Muggle Underground and on foot, Tom was able to arrive at almost exactly the appointed time. He almost missed magic, which would've gotten him there in the blink of an eye. Almost.
The door opened almost before Tom Riddle had finished knocking. Harry Potter, twenty years older and looking wary, stood in the doorway. "Tom Riddle." Harry said.
After a pause, during which Harry Potter studied Tom carefully, he said, "Come in." Tom was surprised. He hadn't really been expecting any sort of hospitality, but he followed Harry inside without speaking. They went to a sitting room where there were three other people. Two, Voldemort recognized immediately as Harry Potter's long-time best friends, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley. The third took a moment, but he thought she was probably Harry's wife, Ginny.
Ron and Ginny seemed shocked – perhaps at his change in appearance, but Hermione was staring at him quizzically. He quickly looked away from her, faltering under the intense gaze. He turned back to Harry, then went down on one knee. "Harry Potter, I am humbly sorry for your parents deaths. I cannot give any reason for killing them, as there is none, but please understand that I was a different man then, and I beg you forgiveness. Though I understand if you cannot give it."
"I - " Harry glanced at the others, uncertainly. Evidently, whatever he had expected from the letter, it wasn't this. "I don't know. I have to think about it." Tom nodded and stood up. "You do realize," Harry Potter continued, "That even if I do forgive you – and I'm not sure that I do – the rest of the wizarding world won't. They'll want revenge."
Tom nodded again and said. "I wholly intend to give it to them. After leaving here, I plan to present myself to the Head of Magical Law Enforcement and request that I am allowed to make a public apology and then be executed for crimes against humanity. I wanted to make this apology in person."
"I am the Head of Magical Law Enforcement." Hermione spoke. "The wizarding world doesn't have a death penalty."
Tom looked back at her. "If you have just spent the past nineteen years examining every crime that I ever committed as Lord Voldemort in painful detail, you would understand that I deserve nothing less." He told her.
"Nineteen years ..." she murmured quietly.
"That is how long as past?"
"Yes … but I'm not sure … I don't think that's how it's supposed to work ..." She paused. "Your Horcruxes were destroyed. All seven of them."
"Six," he corrected automatically.
"No – seven, but the number's not important," she said impatiently. "What's important is that they are all gone and have been since Neville beheaded Nagini. The point is, remorse is meant to help you put your soul back together. It shouldn't work, not completely, if the Horcrux – or rather, Horcruxes, if the Horcruxes have been destroyed."
"So, what are you saying?" asked Tom.
"I'm not sure, not yet. But I don't think the pain of remorse could have lasted nineteen years – not after the soul was split seven times. Two or three years, maybe, not nineteen. And I'm sure there shouldn't have been any change in appearance."
"Then what do you suggest I've been doing for the past nineteen years?"
"I think … I think you've been growing a new soul."
Tom took step back. "That's not possible." He told her. On impulse he began quoting, "'Once the original soul is split, the only way back is to feel remorse for the action that split it. If the object in which - '"
Hermione broke in. "'If the object in which the soul is encased is destroyed, the soul is as well and there is no way of mending it.'" He stared at her, shocked. She was quoting Secrets of the Darkest Art? "Yes, I've read that book too." Hermione explained. "But I didn't say you had regained what you had lost – I said you grew a new one. An entirely different soul. Tell me, how old are you?" She asked suddenly.
The subject change threw him only slightly, but when he opened his mouth to answer, nothing came out. "How old am I?" he muttered to himself. The truth was that he wasn't sure. Age was, after all, only a way of knowing how long it would be until death. He'd realized that not long after beginning his quest for immortality and stopped keeping track. He'd even forgotten his birthday.
But he knew that he – that Voldemort – had returned to power more than fifty years after leaving the school, when he was seventeen. Add the nineteen years that had passed since the Second Wizarding War and … "About ninety, I think."
Hermione nodded. "That sounds right. But you don't look that old – you look closer to fifty. The fifty-year-old you might have been had you never made the Horcruxes." She winced at the word. "The past twenty years you spent reliving your memories – either repairing your soul or growing a new one, I don't know – you didn't grow any older in those years. If anything, you lost about as much time from you age." She frowned slightly, pondering her own conclusion.
Tom was beginning to feel impatient. And angry at himself for being impatient with one of those he owed so much to – she had likely seen friends, teachers, perhaps even family die at his hands or by his orders. She had as much right as anyone, he supposed, to analyze his changes, but he was upset that she was even trying. What did any of it matter? All he really wanted was to beg forgiveness from the world – expecting none, of course – and be punished for his crimes as soon as possible.
As Hermione continued to think, confusion etching her face, Tom turned to Harry. "What did she mean, seven Horcruxes?" He was trying to distract himself from the growing irritation at Hermione. Maybe she was right and part of his soul was still the same as Voldemort's. Maybe this anger toward her came from there. It certainly seemed like something the man he used to be would've felt. "I only made six."
"You only made six on purpose." Harry answer. "The diary, the locket, the cup, the diadem, and Nagini." Harry listed the items as easily as Tom himself would've done, but Tom wasn't surprised. As Voldemort had known and tried to understand Harry, surely Harry had known and tried to understand Voldemort – it was the best advantage you could have, in war. To do that, he would've ingrained the Horcruxes in his memory. Harry continued. "But there was one that you made by accident as well. Don't ask me how, that's the sort of thing Hermione would understand, but somehow, when you tried to kill me, you made another Horcrux … of me."
"You? But Horcruxes cannot be made by accident. It takes spells and …" He sighed. "We're different, aren't we? There's no explaining what has happened to us, because nothing like it has ever happened before. And hopefully, will never happen again."
Nodding, Harry murmured fervent agreement. "It's what our … connection … came from. I don't know what your end of it was like, but I could feel some of your more extreme emotions and toward the end I could even look through your eyes. It's why I went to the clearing, that last night, why I didn't fight back – and why I didn't die. You didn't kill me then. You killed a part of yourself."
"You seem to understand all of this," Tom said, glancing at Hermione. She was still lost in thought. The other two were very quiet and avoiding looking directly at him. He couldn't blame them.
"Not really." Harry replied. "I'm mostly repeating what Dumbledore and Hermione told me. If you want more answers, you'll have to ask her. She is the one who read that awful book."
Tom nodded. Secrets of the Darkest Art – the only book to which he could be referring – had not been the source of his longing for immortality, but it had certainly made it an achievable goal. Awful book, Harry had called it? Yes, but darkly fascinating, to his thirteen-year-old self. "Why did she read it, anyway?"
"It was the only way to defeat you, as far as we knew. Besides, she's always on the lookout for new knowledge – by choice, though, she would've passed over that particular subject."
"Some things shouldn't be common knowledge. Some things shouldn't be known at all." Tom growled darkly. The Horcruxes had destroyed his life – what could he have been without them? Harry nodded.
"We burned it, afterward. It and all the other books about Horcruxes that Hogwarts had – all the books that we've been able to find on the subject anywhere. If I have my way, no one will ever be able to make a Horcrux ever again." He said firmly.
Tom decided not to argue. This was Harry Potter, after all – who was he, Tom Riddle, to argue with him? But he didn't believe what Harry had said. There was always going to be evil in the world, and it didn't need books and instructions to spread. Someone else would discover how to split their soul in a quest for immortality; if they didn't, they would learn something worse. Perhaps not having anything to go by would slow them. Perhaps.
"Maybe…" Hermione spoke again, and everyone turned to her. "It must have something to do with the fact that you made more than one Horcrux. I can't think of anything else. Everything I read about the…cure…for Horcruxes – there wasn't much, but everything there was, was based on making and feeling remorse for making one Horcrux." Tom remembered that to be the one shortcoming – that was how he'd thought of it at the time anyway – the one shortcoming of the books about Horcruxes. "I was surprised, when we got your letter, that you'd survived the pain at all. It's supposed to be able to destroy you if the crimes were great enough. And as you said, yours were…by no means limited to the making of Horcruxes. If, as you said, you deserve no less than death, then why did the pain not kill you entirely? The fact that you made more than one makes all the difference, I think –"
"But why does it make any difference at all?" Tom broke in. "It doesn't. The fact that I regret what I've done doesn't change the fact that I did it. And if the pain of remorse didn't destroy me, then the reason is because I knew I wasn't finished. I couldn't just die in agony in a secluded forest – no, I had to come back. I had to apologize. And once I do, then it will kill me, whether the wizarding world has a death penalty or not."
Her forehead creased in confusion again and Tom realized what it was she didn't understand. "Did you think it was gone? Nineteen years of pain, and then nothing? It's still there, Hermione Granger, less pronounced than before, but no less real. It isn't finished with me yet."
Silence fell as he finished, but it didn't last long. The door burst open and in tumbled two children of about ten. "Mummy," the red-haired girl cried to Ginny. "Why did you send us to Auntie Luna's without even checking to see if she was home?"
"Oh – isn't she home?" Asked Ginny, looking flustered.
"No, she left for another expedition after dropping Lorcan and Lysander off the train station." The boy explained. Tom stopped himself from smiling – it was all too obvious what had happened. They hadn't trusted him with children in the house, so they'd sent the children away with some excuse. The excuse, it had turned out, hadn't worked out.
"Who's that?" The girl asked suddenly, pointing at Tom. Before anyone could answer – what could they say, after all? - she went on. "I'm Lily. Lily Potter. What's you name?"
For a few moments, Tom could do nothing but stare. Lily Potter? But he'd killed her years ago…and yet, it was her eyes, and Harry's. Those eyes had haunted him for the past nineteen years, and now they peered out eagerly from this child's face. "You're Harry Potter's daughter." He said quietly, putting a very slight emphasis on the last word. His daughter, not his mother. He glanced at Harry, and then answered the question. "My name is Tom." For so long, he'd hated that name, his father's name. But now, what else was there? Nothing. No matter, he wouldn't need a name for much longer. And besides, it didn't bother him anymore. "I have to go." He told Lily, before turning to the adults. "I'll come to the Ministry tomorrow?"
Without another word, he left. To his surprise, they didn't try to stop him – one was the Head of the Auror Office and another Head of Magical Law Enforcement. Surely they wouldn't just let him leave? But they did.
The next morning, Riddle went to the Ministry. He only realized once he got there that he had no idea how to accomplish what was trying to do. He asked for Harry Potter's office and was directed to level two. Harry was already there.
"I wouldn't have bothered you," Tom said quickly, "But I wasn't sure where to go."
Harry nodded. "Normally, something like this would be put in the newspaper, however ..."
"That's not enough," Tom said, shaking his head. "Not everyone get's the newspaper – and those who did probably wouldn't believe it anyway."
"That's what I thought." Harry told him. "Come with me." He led Tom through the Ministry to the first floor, after picking up Hermione and Ron. "I'm taking you to see the Minister. I think Kingsley will be able to set something up."
When Kingsley was told that this was a matter of utmost importance, he let them in immediately. It took longer to explain everything, mostly be Hermione, than Tom had expected. And longer still to get him to believe it. What he had trouble believing, strangely, was not that Tom was truly reformed, but that Tom actually was the former Lord Voldemort. Most people wouldn't know what he had looked like before the effects of the Horcruxes. Harry, it seemed, did. Tom wondered how, but decided it wasn't important enough to ask.
Eventually, though, the Minister nodded. "I can do a spell so that you will be heard anywhere in the world – I can even make it translate for those who don't speak English. Only witches and wizards, of course. Though I can't promise that people will believe you – either who you are or what you say. They think you're dead."
"They thought that once before." Tom reminded him. "But it doesn't really matter whether they do or not. After this message, I won't be."
Kingsley nodded and performed the spell. Tom took a deep breath and began:
"Wizards and witches of the world. My name is Tom Riddle. Twenty years ago, I was the dark wizard Lord Voldemort who caused two wars and the deaths of countless innocent people. I have not been seen by anyone since the Battle of Hogwarts that ended the Second Wizarding War. But I am alive."
All over the world, wizards and witches stopped whatever they were doing and listened, even if they couldn't quite believe what they were hearing.
"I have spent the last nineteen years in a forest in Albania, reliving every crime that I ever committed over and over. I have realized what I've done and the pain I caused – and experienced that pain myself. I do not expect that the Wizarding World can forget what I did, nor do I expect your forgiveness, but I would like you to know that I have paid for every individual I've ever hurt or killed a hundred times over, and will continue to pay for it until I die. The pain of remorse can and will destroy me. Before it does, I want you all to know that I am sincerely sorry for everything that I've done."
Tom fell silent and Kingsley lowered his wand. He felt different after the speech. Perhaps some of the burden of his past crimes had been lifted because of the apology. Perhaps he was now able to forgive himself, a little. He wasn't sure. "It is returning." Tom whispered as the ache began to grow again.
Suddenly, Harry said, "I do forgive you, Tom Riddle."
Tom smiled, then he bowed his head and dissolved.