. 𝒎𝒂𝒏𝒊𝒑𝒖𝒍𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏 .
As she sipped her tea, she wished she could be somewhere else this New Year's eve. True, the weather was horrendous, there would certainly be floods up and down the country, but anywhere was better then being stuck in a practically crumbling building at 11pm on a nighttime. William Wool had convinced Mrs. Cole to make her first shift the night shift, convincing her it was much easier and laidback- how wrong he would be.
Through the mist of the window, Mrs. Cole spotted a hunched over figure; scarily slim, hobbling past the gates, when she collapsed in agony. Normally, Mary-Anne would leave such a pauper on the streets, but the woman seemed to be heavily pregnant, and was taking a beating from the rain turned hail. She threw her cup on the broken coffee table, before dashing from the building.
"Madam! Madam! Please, come with me!" Mrs. Cole screamed frantically, latching her arm around the woman's and limping her inside the Orphanage.
"What's your name? Do you have anywhere to stay tonight?" Mary-Anne interrogated, brushing the woman's shoulders and heaving her into the staff room. With the golden illumination of the lamp in the corner, Mrs. Cole could truly see the state of this woman. Her spine seemed to curve unnaturally forward, as though she'd walked a hundred miles. Her face was slim, her cheekbones protruding- shadows cast under her mono-lid, peculiarly unemotional eyes. She looked deathly.
"Merope Riddle..." She replied, catching her breath. "I don't have anywhere to go... I had to leave my family behind, after my husband- after he left me." Her shallow eyes- seemingly desolate of tears- began to grow blood-shot, and after a few moments, Merope allowed crystal-like tears to fall down her dirt-smeared face.
"Oh my, i'm so sorry. Do you know when your child's due?"
The woman was heavily pregnant- yet seemed malnourished. Wherever she had come from, whoever her husband was, she had not been treated well at all.
"They were due yesterday. Is there a hospital nearby?" Her solemn voice growing weaker by the second.
"We have a hospital wing just upstairs, my love. Would you like to lay down for a while?" Mrs. Cole smiled, attempting to console the frantic woman, who returned this question with an eager but fearful nod.
Just as the Grand-father clock struck three in the morning, Merope lay tucked inside a fleeced bedsheet, clutching the only thing she had left to lose. Her newborn child. A sign clung to the end of the metal-framed hospital bed, with every detail Merope could think of scrawled on in a washable marker.
"Sorry to disturb you Mrs Riddle, but have you perhaps named your son? We have to write it all down, see." The nurse asked, sauntering to beside Merope, who's face was even more sunken, and her complexion pallid.
"Tom, after his father." She whispered, her slender hand resting against the side of her baby's head.
"Thank you, do you have any ideas for a middle name for little Tom?"
"Oh.. i'm not so sure. Perhaps Marvolo? After his grandfather." She croaked. Merope could hardly fathom the energy to respond.
"Tom... Marvolo... Riddle..." The nurse repeated out loud, the pen scratching against a birth certificate. Once the nurse returned to Meropes side, her grief ridden eyes flickered downwards, her face begging to be free from the weights of reality.
"Please, make sure my son is cared for. Please. He is all that matters to me now. I beg you." She muttered, embracing Tom with the most love she could give.
"Of course. He's in good hands here, we promise." The nurse replied, a mournful smile growing on her face.
"Oh.. I hope he looks like his papa." Merope grimaced, slowing turning her head to the nurse.
As soon as the words left her mouth, Merope's eyes closed for the final time.
"You got a problem, Riddle?" Spat a rather revolting boy with the name Billy Stubbs. Billy was the same age as Tom Riddle, who was now nine-years-old, on the dot. His thick Irish accent was something strange to the children of the orphanage, who were mostly the children of dead English working-class muggles.
"No, but you will have if you don't shut your trap." Tom hissed, his formidably deep eyes piercing and burning into Billy's own.
"Ha! Hear this, boys? Little Riddle thinks he's 'ard." Billy laughed, also earning a giggle from the formidable bullies surrounding him.
Tom stormed through the cafeteria, his hands trembling with anger. A shockingly cerise plastic dinner tray was shoved into his arms, as he stood in the twisting line of orphans, each awaiting their food. The food served in the cafeteria was typically nauseating, the repugnant stench clinging to the hand-me-down clothes of every child in the room, tracing the hallways hours after it had been served.
Two ladies manned the kitchens, one being an elderly woman, her aged face glaring at each child that would ask for their food. The other, however, had taken a liking to Tom, and would sneak him an extra few steamed carrots or a dozen more apple slices. Unfortunately, it was the first who would be serving Tom.
"Pass me the tray, come on, we haven't got all day! Christ above." She sighed, leaning over the counter and snatching the tray from his arms. She proceeded to flick a pile of lumped mashed potato, two slithers of roast goose, and a single, burnt yorkshire pudding.
Tom held the tray at arms distance, strutting over to the least cluttered table, halfway across the dinner hall. As he squeezed past Billy Stubbs, he was elbowed in the ribs, causing he arms to buckle and drop his food onto the floor. All four of the boys erupted into laughter, watching as Tom kicked said tray, smearing a repulsive combination of mashed potato and crumbled yorkshire pudding into the carpet.
"Aww, you going to cry Tom?" One of the brutes teased, shouting towards Tom who had charged from the room in a fit of fury. He stomped up the stairs, before remembering something- something key to help him get rid of the bullies.
Tom held the squirming, squeaking rabbit in his arms, as he marched over to the wooden gazebo sitting in the enclosed concrete garden. Holding the scruff of the rabbits neck, he clenched his jaw and concentrated on the vermin. He knew he could do it. After a few minutes, the rabbit lifted from Tom's arms, and was pulled upwards through the air, and finally sat on top of a wooden slab stretching across the roof of the Gazebo. Tom concentrated much harder on the rabbit once more, before it began to twitch in pain- and after moments of twitching, it lay still. It was dead.
Tom patiently sat on the edge of the bed frame, just waiting for the look on Billy Stubbs face. This would teach him never to mess with him again. When Tom's door was pulled open, instead of the infuriated face of Billy Stubbs, he was met with the burnt-up face of the Matron, Mrs. Cole.
"Tom, come with me. Now." Mrs. Cole demanded, her temper growing harsher by the complete lack of fear in Tom's eyes. Unbothered, he lifted himself from his bed frame and lingered behind the Matron as she lead him into her office.
Once Tom had entered, his eyes gazed over to the left, the distraught Billy Stubbs raising from his seat and lurched towards Tom.
"You killed my rabbit, you-" Billy screamed, his hands reaching for Tom's neck, making a rather pitiful attempt at strangling him. What happened next would trouble both Billy and the Matron for the following years. Billy was then abruptly sent flying across the room, despite Tom not raising a finger. He crashed back into the seat he had risen from, his breaths shallow from shock. They both eventually ruled it to of been a trick of the eye.
"Tom, did you do that to Billy's rabbit?" The matron asked, attempting to stay calm. Not once in her nine years of working here had a pet been murdered under her keen watch.
"Do what, Miss?" Tom's seemed innocent- sure- but malevolence laced his voice. His inherited charismatic charm would not sway Mrs. Cole as it did with the other workers. Not this time. It was true Mary-Anne Cole had a soft spot for the orphan- considering the situation his mother found herself in- she couldn't just allow Riddle to kill people's pet over an easily resolved issue.
"Kill Billy's rabbit. We found it hanging from the rafters, and we must say it's extraordinarily similar to the way someone put Matthias Gibbons' tennis racket on the roof." She explained, peering at the pair through her circular eye-glasses.
"No, I didn't kill anyone's rabbit, Matron. I didn't even knew you could keep pets. Very sorry about your rabbit, Billy." Tom smiled, but Mrs. Cole couldn't help but notice the complete lack of empathy in Tom's cold eyes. He wasn't sorry at all; but the lack of evidence made it difficult to pin the blame directly onto anyone. Tom did have a terrifying record of getting 'pay-back' on those who consistently wronged him, but he didn't seem to have a motive for the killing of the poor rabbit.
"He did! He got angry because Joe said he was going to cry." Billy explained frantically, his face soaked from tears.
"Joe Middleton? Of course." She sighed, placing her aged hands on her forehead and letting out a heavy sigh.
"Tom, if you did kill Billy's rabbit-"
"Which I didn't." Tom interrupted, his arms crossed behind his back.
"The consequences would be big." She continued.
"I understand. Can I go?"
"Yes. But Tom, if we find out you did do it, you will be in much more trouble then if you just admitted it."
"I didn't. Goodbye, Billy." Tom smiled sickly, raising his eyebrows at the wailing child. Tom couldn't understand why this rabbit mattered so much to Billy, it was just a silly animal after all.
Another year had passed; and Tom had been piled into a claustrophobic coach with all the hooligans he was forced to share the Orphanage with. In the past year, Tom had gained a notorious reputation as a manipulative bully amongst the fellow residents. The children had decided they'd rather be piled up ontop of one another then sit beside the bully. The entirety of the back seats of the coach were empty, with Tom leaning against the right window, observing the passersby and the waving of the trees.
The coach eventually pulled into a widencountry lane, besides the small cliffside town of Fernsby, Devon. An enormous field surrounded the left side of the lane, the right occupied with ancient buildings, a few practically crumbled to the point of them just being a mere outline of what was once a home.
In a huddled group, every child clambered over one another to escape the cluttered coach, whereas Tom simply stayed where he was sat until the aisle was clear enough that he didn't have to trample anyone. Tom exited the coach, his hand over his forehead shielding his eyes from the sun. The annual trip to the cliffside town was a joy to every other child, being the only time they could escape the smog of industrial London- so naturally, Tom couldn't wait for the day to be over.
The group of children began to stroll over towards the dozen of wooden picnic tables dotted around the fields, with the exception of Tom, Amy Benson- a girl around eight years old- and Dennis Bishop, a boy just a year younger then Tom. Dennis and Amy both moved away from the group, choosing to sit near the cliffside. Tom eyed the pair, as he contemplated joining them by the cliff. It would certainly be much more tranquil then sharing a table with a group of roaring dimwits.
He waited a few moments, letting the Matron and the other staff settle a table themselves, before traipsing behind the two.
"Look! A dolphin!" Amy laughed, dangling her legs over the metal safety fence.
"There's nothing there, liar." Dennis scoffed, squinting his eyes and pulling himself closer to the fence.
"No, there is." Tom bluffed, his presence making the two children jump. "Just there."
Amy and Dennis grew silent, both visually uncomfortable by Tom's sudden appearance and interference in the conversation.
"I can get you a closer look, if you'd like." He remarked, playing with the latch on the satchel bag resting on his hip. He saw Amy's eyes light up, before she sprung from her seat eagerly, grinning from ear to ear at Tom's vacant expression. Soon enough, Tom was blindly leading the pair further and further into the thick of the forest. The trio eventually stumbled upon the sudden edge of the cliff, with jagged stairs leading further into said cliffs.
"Follow me, i'll show you the dolphin." He grinned, carefully treading down the thin steps, leading them onto a desolate and vast beach. Amy sprinted straight toward the seashore, keen to get a closer look at her favourite animals. Dennis annoyingly lingered nearer to the strange staircase, knowing of Riddles infamous bullying and unpredictability.
"They won't come near the shore if you stand there, they're scared of people. Why don't we sit and wait in the cave?" Tom suggested, nodding his head towards a narrow gap in the cliff. Amy nodded, before backing away from the sea and over towards Dennis.
"Come on Dennis! Let's go!" Amy said ecstatically, pulling Dennis behind Riddle by his sleeve. A pit developed in Dennis' stomach: he had a terrible hunch something nasty was going to happen. Tom was the first to enter the cave, before heaving the other two up with his free arm. The serrated cave ceiling loomed above them, the occasional droplet of water falling into the growing puddle beside them. Tom had to get the two separate if he wanted to practise his abilities.
"Amy, how about we go for a swim? Dennis can keep watch for any dolphins."
"I don't have my swimsuit." She murmured sadly, swinging her feet over the entrance.
"That's okay, we won't go in far."
And with that, Tom helped Amy back down- and despite him telling Dennis to stay in the cave, he wanted to keep a close eye on Riddle. He didn't trust him whatsoever. The sand was light, and shifted as Amy sat herself in it.
"The waters cold.. maybe Dennis wants to join you?"
Dennis' gaze moved from Amy to Riddle, who was stood either the water just to his ankles. When he met Riddles eyes, he felt a sudden surge of energy in his feet- and they were moving on their own. Dennis attempted to fight the movement, but it seemed impossible. He forcefully ambled over to the sea, the water slowly enveloping his calf's, then his hips, then his shoulders- then his head. He tried to retrace his steps, but his shoes were affixed to the sand below him.
Dennis thought he was going to die. He held his breath for a long while, but he felt his lungs beg for air, and his body forced him to heave in a breath full of salty seawater. He accepted his fate- but just as he began to splutter and scream, his feet were free from the clutches of the sand, and he pulled himself to the surface.
He threw himself forward, and dropped into the sand. Hunched over, he gasped for air. Why hadn't Amy tried to save him? As he opened his eyes, his vision may of been blurred- but he watched two figures climb into the cave. With whatever breath he could muster, he lurched towards the figures, rapidly blinking to remove the traces of salt water from his eyes.
Amy found herself alone with Riddle in the cave, terror coursing through her veins. She watched in petrifying horror as Tom spoke out to something.
"Come on, I know your here." He whispered into the depths of the cave.
Amy felt herself paralysed with fear, her eyes darting around the sunless cave. Dennis still hadn't pulled himself from the sea, and Tom offered the idea of something grappling Dennis and drowning him- and suggested they hid in the cave. After a lifetime of spine-chilling silence, Tom let out a sigh. His plan had failed- or so he had thought. If he could just get the girl to look at him in the eyes, and concentrated all his energy on making her do what he wants, she would.
"Amy, look at me." He cried out, mimicking her fear. He grabbed her by the shoulders frantically, muttering something about an animal in the cave trying to kill them. That's when she heard it.
Tom loosened his grip on her shoulders, once again turning his sight into the empty cave. He could hear the gentle hiss of a snake, far into the depths of the cave. Whipping his head back onto the beach, he watched as Dennis lurched himself from the grasps of the sea, spluttering sea water. Panicking, he pushed Amy further into the cave.
"Who's in my cave....." A voice called out.
Amy let out a squeal.
"I can hear a snake!"
"What about the voice?"
"Tom- please- let me out! Theres a snake!" She screamed, her voice cracking in fear.
"We aren't here to hurt you." Tom replied to the voice, increasing the volume of Amy's sobs.
"Why are you speaking like that?" She wailed, kicking and screaming for Tom to move. That's when he realised. He could speak to snakes- and he could make things do as he pleased. Amy once again let out a blood-curdling scream, as the hisses of the snake grew closer.
"Leave!" The snake bellowed, the rough of its skin echoing a noise throughout the cave.
"Only if you promise to catch the girl." He replied to the snake. Amy's petrified screams were growing louder by the second.
"Amy! Run!" Tom shouted to her, a false manner of anxiety in his voice. Tom shifted to the side of the cave, and Amy began to bolt the way she came- and Tom felt the snake slither over his feet. The silence grew deafening. A sudden hair-raising shriek flew around the cave, followed by Amy begging for help.
"Tom! The snakes wrapped around my leg! Tom please-" She begged, and Tom came rushing towards where about she would be. He waited for her to scream once more, before ordering the snake to stop. The light at the end grew closer, and the shape of the cave growing clearer. Tom scooped the snivelling child in his arm, and running from the cave.
When he jumped onto the sand, he noticed several figures rushing down the makeshift staircase. Mrs. Cole had found them.
"Tom! Oh my goodness what happened?"
"We went exploring..." Tom stammered, screwing up his face as if he had been crying. "And there was a snake... and Dennis didn't want to join us and it attacked us!"
Tom had always been an excellent liar.
A/N: section below has been added at a later date.
A slight muffled disturbance rattled outside of
Tom's bedroom door, causing him to turn away from his intense reading. He shifted his attention toward the door, cocking his head slightly like a puzzled puppy. Just as he was about to arise from his bed to open the door, two knocks sounded and Mrs. Cole strolled in, joined by a man of about fifty, gazing around the bare bedroom with a grimace.
"Tom? Tom, you have a visitor. This is Mister Dundembore- sorry no, Mister Dumbleton. He wants you to know... Never mind. I'm sure he'll explain." Mrs. Cole announced, her words slightly slurred. She then slammed the door shut, trapping the man and Tom inside his claustrophobically minuscule bedroom. The man cautiously approached Tom, as Tom squinted his eyes slightly to observe this peculiar visitor. Holding his hand out, the man in turn examined Tom as a moments silence enveloped the room.
"Hello, Tom. How do you do?" He smiled, holding his hand out towards the dark-haired boy. Hesitantly, Tom took the strangers hand with a weary look in his beady eyes.
"I am Professor Dumbledore."
"Professor?" Riddle repeated; clearly untrusting of Dumbledore. Myriads of thoughts exploded in the boys head all at once, before he shuffled away from Dumbledore and into the corner of his bed.
"Like.. a doctor?" He spat in disbelief.
"She wants me looked at doesn't she? She told you to come didn't she?" Tom scoffed, glaring at the door Mrs. Cole previously occupied.
"No, Tom. No she doesn't." Dumbledore reassured, his welcoming smile still not wiped from his face. The uncertainty and distrust still hadn't left Tom's porcelain face.
"Your a liar. Who are you? Why are you here? Tell the truth!" He commanded, ferocity lacing his direct tone. Dumbledore had been told of Tom's manipulative techniques, and how he would scare the other children. Tom had obviously used the last phrase a lot more then he ought to.
"I have told you who I am, Tom. I am Professor Dumbledore and I work at a school named Hogwarts. I have come here to offer you a place at Hogwarts, your new school if you'd like to come."
"You think i'm a fool! The loony bin- that's where you're from, aren't you? 'Professor..'" Tom sneered, mimicking Dumbledores tone.
"If anyone should be taken to an asylum, it should be that old hag- I never did anything to little Amy Benson... or Dennis Bishop! You can ask them, they'll tell you."
"I am not from an asylum, Tom." Dumbledore assured, his patience still not wearing thin.
"I am a teacher. If you could just sit down calmly, i'd love to tell you about Hogwarts. But if, of course, you'd rather not go, no one will force you, Tom."
"To hell they wont." Tom laughed, his glare still not lifting from Dumbledore. Ignoring Tom's interruptions, Dumbledore continued to speak.
"Hogwarts is a school for people with... special abilites."
"Oh, so they think i'm mad?"
"Hogwarts is not a school for 'mad' people, Tom. It is a school of magic."
Tom's frustration fell from his face. He had frozen the very moment the final word left Dumbledores lips. Dumbledore kept eye-contact with the boy, but Tom's expressionless eyes darted from each of his own, almost as though he was trying to catch him out- to reveal his bluffs. After a few moments, Riddle looked back to the door- almost to reassure himself no one was listening in- and then moved himself an inch closer to Dumbledore.
"Magic?" He whispered to himself, before a light flush filled his hollow and pale cheeks. Easing himself towards his bed, Tom bent his head towards his hands, and for a split second Dumbledore thought Tom had started to.. prey?
"It's magic I can do?" He muttered in disbelief.
"That's right. What is it you can do, Tom?"
"Oh- all sorts!" He exclaimed, excitement rushing to his eyes and his head jumping back up and looking out of his smeared windows.
"I can move things without actually touching them. I can get animals to do whatever I want without training them." Tom leant closer to Dumbledore, a menacing smile tracing his face.
"I can make very bad things happen to people who annoy me. And I can do it very well." He seemed not like a ten year old boy anymore- but like a power-hungry, blood-thirsty dictator. Within an instant, he had snapped out of his sort of trance, his eyes directed towards his trembling hands.
"I always knew I was different from everyone else here. Always." He said, not telling Dumbledore- but telling himself. But once Tom looked back up towards the Professor, his gracious grin had been swapped out for a more concerned one.
"Well you were correct, Tom. You're a wizard."
"Are you a wizard too?" Tom asked inquisitively.
"Prove it." Tom used the same commanding tone he had used earlier. Dumbledore met this order with an eye-brow raise, before leaning further back in the wooden chair.
"If you are taking your place at Hogwarts-"
"Of course I am!"
"Then you shall address me as 'Professor', or 'Sir' will do just fine."
Tom's expression hardened for a swift second before his overall mannerisms changed completely.
"I'm sorry, Sir. I meant Professor, please, could you show me?" Tom's voice was now unrecognisably courteous. Dumbledore gave a few moments thought, before drawing his wand from the pocket of his suit, Tom eagerly awaiting what would happen next.
With a casual flick, Tom's tatty wardrobe burst into flames, the crackling fires reflecting into Tom's eyes. He jumped to his feet, not wanting to be scalded by the fire, but not wanting to just sit back and allow his possessions to burn. Just as he began to screech in distress, Dumbledore lowered his wand and the flames instantly dissolved- along with Tom's sudden frustration.
"Where can I get one of those?" He asked, gawking at the power he could hold.
"All in due time, Tom." Dumbledore replied, a playful glint in his eyes. The two met eyes for a moment, before Tom's wardrobe began to shake violently, catching Tom off guard.
"I think something in there would like to get out."
Tom narrowed his eyes at the wizard, then back at the convulsing piece of furniture. Warily, he pulled the door open, and just above the rack of varying clothing, a box- no bigger than Tom's hands, viciously shook like a fistful of mice clawing to get out. Holding the box at arms length, Tom threw it onto the mess of blankets piled on top of his wire-frames bed.
Pulling the lid from the shoebox, dozens of small knick-knacks were piled inside the box, rattling against each-other. One by one, Tom pulled the objects from the box as Dumbledore observed. The objects weren't particularly special, everyday things such as a broken harmonica, a yo-yo lacking a string and a dirty toy car.
"I would like you to return these to their owners with a sincere apology. Thievery is not permitted at Hogwarts; and neither is how you have been using your magic- inadvertently, I hope. The way you have been using such powers is not tolerated at Hogwarts, as I have said, or anywhere else for that matter. We can expel students for improper use of magic, and the Ministry of Magic will punish vigilantes so much more severely. Do I make myself very clear?"
"Trust me, I will know if these possessions haven't been returned. I like liars no less then i like thieves. Here is your ticket... oh, and an envelope containing your equipment for next year. Headmaster Dippet will be glad to see you then. I assume you'd like me to inform Mrs. Cole, so she can clear her schedule to assist you?"
"No." Tom snapped, retrieving the letter and ticket. "I'll be just fine on my own."
"As you wish. Farewell for now, Tom. I will be seeing you soon." Dumbledore bid goodbye, rising from the creaking wooden chair with a solemn smile.
"I can speak to snakes too, you know. Is that.. normal for a wizard?" Tom called out, fumbling with his fingers. It was obvious he had retrieved such information to shock or surprise Dumbledore- Tom was certain such magic was a very uncommon gift.
"Uncommon yes... but not unheard of. When you reach the location enclosed in the letter, the bartender- Tom- will greet you."
"Yes. Something troubling you?" Dumbledore asked the sneering child.
"Seems to be a common name is all." Tom replied, sinking back into his bed with an energetic smile. He was a wizard. But how? Perhaps his father was a wizard, he thought. Not long after his new Professor had left the room, Tom pulled the shoebox towards him and messed with the contents once more, before reluctantly deciding to return the souvenirs.
A sort of god-like feeling rushed through Tom since that meeting- he was much better then those surrounding him, in his eyes. Much better indeed.
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