Shiny new idea. Super-excited to share!
Tom Marvolo Riddle didn't quite know what to say to the squat wizard before him.
"Tell me or ... I'll kill your family?" Tom suggested.
The wizard just giggled, wheezing a spray of spittle across Tom's face. "No family here, nope nope, no family for young Gurdy."
Riddle wiped his face, barely restraining a derisive snort. Gurdy appeared to be a lot of things, but young was not one of them. The number of remaining teeth the man had was surely fewer than remaining fingers (of which, unpleasantly enough, there were eight). His skin bore a maze of wrinkles, leaving no inch uncreased.
"So if I threaten a few more times to kill you, in more creative ways, I'm assuming you still won't cooperate," Riddle said, approaching death by boredom. He'd been sitting here for two hours trying to talk information out of someone who was already crazy. Usually he had to force them into blubbering insanity; the job wasn't just done when he arrived. This made things so much less enjoyable. "I'm getting quite tired of this, so if you have a suggestion -"
"Gurdy could trade," said the wizard, his drooping face growing serious as quickly as if Riddle had said a code word.
Riddle sat up straighter. Were they finally getting somewhere? "I do like a good trade," he said quietly. Of course, torture would have been simpler and easier, but with such a mentally unstable case, he feared the Cruciatus would destroy any possibility of information emerging intact from the man's toothless gums. Legilimency was out, too. The bizarre little man had an inexplicable talent for Occlumency that didn't at all befit his seeming psychological state.
Of course, Gurdy Bansherwold had once been brilliant. No denying that. Otherwise, Riddle wouldn't have needed anything from him.
He'd already spent the better part of seventh year tracking the man down - it couldn't be for nothing.
So he would trade.
"What do you want?" Tom asked.
Gurdy fidgeted, pulling his wooden stool closer. It scraped across the stone floor with an unbearable screech, and Tom's lip twitched in displeasure.
"Gurdy," the man breathed, "would be wanting your left shoe and a strand of your hair."
"My hair," Riddle repeated. "My shoe?"
"Your left shoe, important distinction to make, must gotta be the left or else isn't worth nothing is it."
"...right," Riddle said. "And if I give you my shoe, and a hair, you'll tell me where you've hidden the Timeglass?"
"Gurdy longs to be rid of his twisty jumpy Timeglass," the old man whispered, a manic glint twinkling in his grey eyes. "He wants your left shoe and your hair."
Riddle didn't know what to do. This seemed too easy, too simple. He'd threatened the man with twelve different forms of torture in the first five minutes of their conversation. He'd offered a bribe of the equivalent of twenty thousand galleons. With all that, he'd been met with laughter and stupid jokes and bizarre third-person narration. And all Gurdy wanted for the Timeglass, an object that could foreseeably assist Tom in the subjugation of all mankind, was his shoe? And a hair?
Something was wrong here.
"What in the name of hell do you want with my shoe and my hair?"
"Left shoe contains both sweat formula and weight information calculable through Antimedes' Eighth Law of Transfigurative Hyperextension, hair means deoxyribonucleic acid, yep," Gurdy mumbled under his breath. "Yep yep."
"Deoxy ... what?"
"Tis a Muggle word, a Muggly Muggly turn of phrase Gurdy uses here."
Riddle sat back, his lips thin. References to Muggles? He was done with this. He would take pleasure in killing this imbecile once the transaction was complete. Who cared if Bansherwold had once been a genius of a Dark Wizard? He'd gone mad, and as such, had no further function - neither to Riddle nor the rest of the world.
What rubbish. Riddle had never heard of Antimedes' Eighth Law of Transfigurative Hyperextension. It didn't even sound real.
"Fine." He tugged off his left shoe, pulled a single dark strand from his head, and shoved them both at Gurdy, whose face lit up like Christmas had arrived ahead of schedule.
"Timeglass is in a lockbox in the backroom," Gurdy said.
"Your backroom was empty when I checked it."
"Fidelius Charm, Riddle. Gurdy does not reveal his secrets to any and all. Now take Timeglass, go, words for the lockbox are nuperda tarziu."
Riddle didn't know what the language was, but at this point, frankly, he didn't care.
"Bloody waste of time," he muttered, storming into the backroom. He looked forward to returning and reclaiming his shoe with a well-placed Avada Kedavra. He needed to get back to London, back to the orphanage, before Mrs. Cole noticed his absence; otherwise, he'd have to Obliviate her yet again, and she always got even more insufferable after a Memory Charm. This delay was not convenient.
Only two more days until Christmas break is over, and then I'm back at Hogwarts, Riddle reminded himself, feeling foolish for the relief the self-reminder provided him. It was a necessary measure, though. Magical deprivation was physically painful for him, keeping it all bottled inside his wand and his books and his head.
He slammed the door to the backroom behind him. The lockbox sat in the previously-vacant corner.
"Nuperda tarziu," Riddle spat, flicking his wand at the thing. It clicked open in one tiny, anticlimactic motion.
He stormed forward. The lockbox looked finely crafted - probably goblin made. He'd come back for it once Gurdy was dead, his body burned.
Letters lay carved into the edge. He frowned, reading them. Quod recens natus erit senex. Latin, obviously, but no spell derivations...
But he discarded all thought of the words when he saw the Timeglass. The size of his palm, cut like the finest diamond, it held a flickering spot of fire in its center.
Riddle shook his head. Magnificent. And stowed away in this hovel, where its power was utterly wasted ... He still remembered the moment last summer when he'd yanked the Resurrection Stone from Morfin's unmoving hands before modifying the man's memory. Bizarre, how often such wonderful things came from filth. Such powerful things, hidden among the muck...
As Riddle reached for the object, emotion caught in his throat, and his brow creased. He couldn't help it. The only thing he loved was power.
It was then that he heard a strange noise, identifiable instantly. Cackling wheezing laughter. Gurdy's spittle-laden mirth.
Let's get this over with. Pursing his lips, Tom pocketed his wand and lifted the Timeglass from the bottom of the chest.
A slow, ominous whistle crept into the air. Tom looked around, his fingers tightening around the Timeglass.
Then a deafening bang.
And the world tore itself apart piece by piece, fragment by fragment.
Tom Riddle had been born quiet. As a child, he'd been withdrawn and calm. As a young student, he'd watched and listened rather than making noise of his own. Even now, as Head Boy, he rarely raised his voice higher than the volume necessary to reprimand students who were being raucous in the halls. In fact, he had experimented with certain types of dark curses on himself while they'd been in the developmental stage, and he had hardly whimpered even then.
His mouth stretched wide, and he screamed.
His body sang with the purest sort of pain, the pain that whites one's vision and blacks one's mind, the pain that rings clear to the surface of the skin, coating it with a slimy layer of sweat.
He held onto the Timeglass in an act of selfish defiance, an act he would have deemed foolish had he possessed any sense of judgment at the time. It was only after an eternity of agony that he let go.
The pain vanished.
When Tom Riddle stopped screaming, he found himself curled in the middle of a crowded sidewalk, surrounded by staring Muggles.
He staggered to his feet and took out his wand, much to the confusion of the closest Muggles. Stupid creatures. When he snarled, "Obliviate," the spell hurt his raw throat.
A blast rippled through the gathered people. They blinked, dazed, and resumed walking in their prior directions. Like sheep, all of them.
Riddle shook, trembled, quivered. His eyes fixed on the passing cars, and he experienced a split second of blinding panic. He'd never seen this type of vehicle. The Muggle machines slid by, low to the ground, oddly beautiful. Noise buzzed around him, honked, blared.
Through his robes, his fingers found the lump in his pocket that was the Timeglass. He'd let go of it in the swirl of agony - how had it stayed with him?
What the hell had the Timeglass done?
Where was he?
This Muggle technology... When was he?
Riddle had researched the experimental magic involved in time-turning. He'd tortured the information out of an Unspeakable. But time-turning did not - could not - turn time forward. It could not create what had not yet occurred.
What had Bansherwold created? All rumors had reported the Timeglass to be a particularly potent form of turner, the most advanced of the day. More importantly, it was an instrument that could do what no turner had managed: It could slow and even freeze time. But this... this was inexplicable even by the most brilliant of magical theorists. And Riddle would know, having read everything by all of them.
Riddle stumbled down the street, jostled by Muggles. He had to stop himself from cursing them into oblivion as they knocked into him.
Then his eyes fell on a stack of newspapers stuffed inside a metal distributor, and he ceased all movement. All action. All thought. Three words at the top of the paper gripped his heart in claws of iron and squeezed.
September 1st, 1997.
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