Two days later, Tom was sitting in the Cubbyhole, pouring over more wizard genealogy books. It was about seven in the evening, so Tom had almost four hours to dedicate to his father. He was getting close, he could feel it. He had already devoted almost twelve hours in three days to his mission, it was only a matter of time before he stumbled across something...
Tom searched for an hour more before he stumbled across his name, just by chance. But it wasn't his last name. It was his middle name. Marvolo. His mother's maiden name. He stared at that one word. This one word that told him everything he needed to know. The word that told him that his mother abandoned him. His mother hadn't cared if he had grown up without parents. Tom stared blankly at his name for a number of minutes. He might've been there for four seconds or four hours. His heart felt empty, dulled. It was as if his heart couldn't comprehend what his mind told him he was seeing.
Eventually he found himself trudging unseeingly through the corridors. He was vaguely aware that he still had two hours left before curfew. As he wandered aimlessly through the maze of corridors, he heard footsteps come up behind him. As he walked along, the footsteps quickened as if to catch up with him.
"Tom! Hello Tom!" called a familiar voice. Tom turned around. It was Myrtle, being annoying as always. Tom was in no mood to talk to her at the moment.
"What?" he snapped, barely registering her hurt expression.
"I just thought we could talk for a little bit." she said, pouting. "We hardly ever get the chance to talk. You're always in the library." She playfully but cautiously tapped him in the shoulder with her fist, hoping that he would respond to her joking and brighten up a little. Tom's only response to give Myrtle a barely restrained look of fury. She took a step back, hurt and confused by the way he was treating her. Tom didn't care. He needed to be by himself for a while. That was the only way he knew how to cope. He could always apologize later.
Myrtle realized something was bothering Tom. "What's wrong Tom?" she asked gently. Tom looked at her scathingly.
"It's none of your business." he practically spat. Myrtle shrunk back, then decided to stand up to Tom. She decided would help him in his time of need, just as he had helped her.
"Tell me." she said, a little more forcibly than she meant to.
"I said it's none of your business. Now. Go. Away." growled Tom. He had never lost control of his emotions like this, and he had to admit, it felt rather good, just to let all the hurt and anger come spilling out.
Myrtle was close to tears now. "Please Tom. Let me help you."
"Just leave me alone you annoying little brat!" Tom whipped out his wand and pointed it right at her chest. Her eyes widened in fear and surprise. She flinched, breathing heavily.
"Tom. Please. I'm sorry. I just wanted to help." said Myrtle, almost inaudibly. Tom lowered his wand slightly, seeing how scared she was.
"If you want to help, leave me alone. I have a lot on my mind, and I don't want an incompetent fool as yourself interrupting me." Myrtle lowered her head, then looked at Tom sadly, realization crossing her face.
"Oh Tom, this is about your parents, isn't it? Tom, I get it. I understand." she said, tears flowing freely down her face. Tom's face reverted to stone. At the mention of his parents, he put up his old defenses.
When he spoke, his voice was low, quiet, and dangerous. "What could you possibly understand?"
Myrtle replied, just as quiet, but without the dangerous quality, "More than you know. My mother died when I was a child. And my father..." She shuddered, then shrugged off her sweater. Scars and bruises covered her arms. "My father would beat me. Tell me I was not good enough. Whenever I did badly in school he would tell me that someday I would have to help support this family and that I'd have to do better." Tom's eyes were wide, all anger gone from his face and his heart.
"Oh Myrtle. I'm so sorry. About your father, about what I said-I'm so sorry." Tears filled his eyes, and he began to cry silently, the first time he had cried since he was two years old. Myrtle smiled sadly.
"Tom, it's okay. It's made me who I am. It's made me strong." Tom gave a jolt. He had told himself those same words over and over again. Tom looked at her gratefully.
"Me too. The orphanage, the bullies, my parents- they've shaped me. I didn't know it was possible for me to have a friend, but I'm glad I do now." With that, Tom once again pointed his wand at Myrtle. She flinched again, but did not back down. Tom muttered a few spells and her scars and bruises faded away. Myrtle was shaking, then she looked at her arms. Her eyes widened. A huge, albeit wet, smile bloomed on her face.
"Oh Tom, thank you." She stepped closer and gave Tom a hug, the only hug he had ever received in his life. He was startled and awkward at first, but then he embraced her back.
"No Myrtle, thank you." he whispered almost inaudibly. "Thank you."