NOTE: This is a translation of a Chinese HP Fanfiction by 墨玉绿
BETA: the brilliant and wonderful Osmodion
December 30, 1932
It didn't take long for the brilliant child to master the art of manipulation. Once he experienced the benefit of lying, he quickly adopted a disguise—one of an ordinary boy, one without any violent or vicious inclinations, one without dark ambitions seared into his very bones. If Harry ended up liking his new self, then Tom supposed that he could pretend to be an idiot for a while.
Like Harry himself had admitted, he wasn't a very smart man, especially when it came to social cues. For instance, he wasn't alarmed by the sudden change in Tom's personality. He was just happy for the boy's progress, because Tom was finally starting to open up to him... even if, at times, it seemed to be not completely genuine. After all, the child was the only reason that he had chosen to stay behind in the unfamiliar time. Now, without Billy, Harry could focus all his attention on Tom, give the child all he had to offer, and pray that it would be enough to change Tom's future.
Flames danced in the fireplace. The heat filled the whole room with warmth and light. Even as the winter storms raged outdoors, Harry did not feel a shred of coldness sneaking into the room.
Harry was sitting on the bed, legs crossed, his duvet warmed by heating charms. He waved his wand. In one smooth movement, a single beige orchid bloomed from its tip. Its petals bobbled slightly, wonderfully perfumed and beautifully illuminated.
Tom sat across from Harry, looking at the flower with just the right amount of fascination. Even if he secretly thought this particular spell was rather useless, Tom kept his mouth shut and nodded at Harry with polite interest.
The young man's green eyes shone with a childish delight. He beamed mischievously, then he eagerly shoved the wand into Tom's hands. He waved his hands.
"Tom, now you give it a try."
Tom couldn't describe the feeling. As the wooden stick touched his fingers, something new and electric passed through his skin and crawled deep into his bones. His soul trembled with power. The wand felt warm where Harry's body heat lingered on its hilt. Tom clenched the wand. A sudden, frenzied longing crept into his dark pupils, a pure blackness like the deepest depth of the sea.
Magic was even more wonderful than he imagined!
Judging by its peeling paint, the wand in his hands had seen its fair share of battles. The wooden rod was dense with magic and hardened, through endless war, against all tragedies and vicissitudes of life.
Its power— he wants it! At once, the thought popped into Tom's brain. But the boy was careful to prevent Harry from seeing the hungry glint in his eyes. After all, there were many things he wanted, more than just a wand.
"Tom, say it with me. Orchidaceae fioriress." Eagerly, Harry demonstrated the waving motion with his hands, and explained the basics of spell-casting to Tom. "Elbow a little higher. Yes— that's perfect."
Smiling, Harry could suddenly understand the joy of teaching. With bursting pride, he watched as, under his guidance, a young child partook in his first step in becoming a wizard.
Tom bit his lips, arms suspended stiffly in midair. Are all spells casted with such stupid waving movements?...He couldn't help but complain in his head. But still, he did as he was told. He waved the wand.
As he spoke, colourful sparks flew from the tip of wand. But then... nothing happened. Nothing at all, and definitely no orchids.
Instantly, the normally proud child's face fell. The unexpected failure of his first attempt at magic made his already irritated temper flare.
"Don't worry, Tom. Try again."
As the young man's encouraging words reached his ears, Tom suddenly felt a heat trembling through the wand. The strange magic passed through his body like the electric shock of a nerve signal, and somehow it calmed his mind. He paused.
Many questions popped into his head. Was that — was that Harry's doing? The strange magic felt like a friendly nudge from the wand itself, although it couldn't be sentient... Could it? Perhaps it was able to sense its master's intent—
Tom looked at Harry curiously. His heart skipped when Harry met his eyes with a bright, encouraging grin.
The encouraging expression was something Tom never seen before. Kindness and love were extravagances that he had never hoped to find. Even the young nanny, who had taken care of him as a baby, never looked at him like that; she mostly sighed as she told him to stay out of trouble. This was the first time that anyone had looked at him with expectations, with hopeful, supportive and trusting eyes. Harry's green eyes looked so bright, as he smiled at Tom.
Tom's arms seemed to move on their own. Before he realized what was happening, he cast the spell.
Finally, a delicate, flowering bud emerged from the wand tip. As they looked down at it, it bloomed silently, fully exhibiting its pompous beauty. Normally, Tom would find flowers rather useless, but this little cream-coloured orchid had managed to grab his attention. He stared at its petals, unable to tear his eyes away.
"Wonderful!" Harry praised, loudly.
Tom took a deep breath. He could still feel magic lingering where his fingers held the wand. It felt good, much better than what he was doing before—recklessly forcing magic out of his body. The wand was able to maximize his powers, and the new experience of might and control almost overwhelmed him.
As Tom watched the blooming orchid, he rolled the wand between his fingertips. He smiled greedily. He wants it.
"Tom!" Harry called suddenly, eyes widening with surprise as he stares at Tom, sitting across from him. Then, Harry smiled again. His emerald eyes glistened with cheery emotions, more viridescent than anything Tom had ever seen.
Before Tom had a chance to adjust his smile, a warm hand patted his cheeks.
Harry's hair sat like a messy nest on top of his head, bangs just long enough to hide the scar on his forehead. Beneath round glasses were eyes filled with mischievous joy. He said, grinning, "Tom, your smile looks very handsome."
This was the first time Harry had seen genuine joy on the child's face.
Harry couldn't explain why the sight of that small smile made him so happy. Maybe... maybe because he couldn't imagine such genuine happiness on Voldemort's face. Surely Tom was... was different.
Plus, it didn't hurt that Tom looked very cute when he smiled; no longer gloomy or mocking, he looked just like all the other children, smiling brightly with confidence and boundless energy. Combined with his natural good-looks and immaculate style, Tom Riddle no longer seemed an orphan who needed Harry's help; instead, the boy projected the image of a poised and practised young aristocrat.
Harry was happy for Tom, for the boy seemed to grow more comfortable and confident each day. His grin grew wider, white teeth flashing.
Tom stared at Harry's face. He couldn't understand why the young man liked his smile so much. His eyes darkened for a moment, but his smile remained wide.
Harry does spend a lot of effort to try to make me happy, Tom realized. Harry was happy when Tom was happy, which seemed very odd in Tom's opinion. Very odd... and stupid.
Yet... the smile on Harry's red lips was mesmerizing. Tom stared, dark eyes unblinking, thin lips curled upwards. The young man's pure, unabashed happiness was contagious; and it was almost enough to tear down Tom's long-held defences.
Because... he looked so happy, so happy because of Tom.And only because of Tom. The realization made Tom feel powerful, just like a moment ago, when his magic was flowing through the wand...
It was intoxicating.
Tom made sure he committed that smile to memory. He swore to himself—that he will make sure that Harry stayed with him, forever! Forever... not even death could take Harry away from him. If Harry dares to die before him, then Tom will make his body into a doll, so they can stay together forever.
Before the boy had even begun to truly discover love, his childish possessiveness had already twisted his mind into something unrecognizable. And thus, perhaps, fate was really always unavoidable.
Everything in their lives proceeded smoothly for the next few months, and soon Tom was ready to start primary school. But Harry decided to hold him back for a bit, so that Tom can first learn to control his magic. Tom spent all his days with Harry, learning magic and playing whatever games he wanted.
Their lessons took place in Harry's Study. Although there weren't a lot of books in the room, it still felt crammed with piles upon piles of paper stacked on Harry's desk.
Sometimes, Tom would sneak a quick peek at the papers. Although he couldn't understand all the complex charts and diagrams, he remembered the two words that showed up the most —Dumbledore's army.
Who's Dumbledore? The boy frowned, before setting the paper down exactly where he found it. He carefully made sure everything was back in their proper place, before exiting the Study, his face shadowed and expressionless.
Tom returned to his bedroom. A lime-coloured snake coiled lazily on his pillow. Tom let the snake crawl up his arm.
"So how did it go?" Tom raised one eyebrow at her, a cruel but delightful smile curling on his thin lips. "Did you enjoy the treat of ... Billy's rabbit?"
The little snake flicked her tongue, looking rather satisfied.
"Tom, why didn't you let me eat the silly thing?... I had already swallowed it, but then Tom made me spit it out... A half-digested rabbit is not as yummy," she whined with loud hisses, then coiled unhappily around his arm.
Tom remained silent, but kept his smiling eyes on the snake's cold, scaly skin. He sat down on his bed, pleased. Then, he started to grin wildly, imagining the look on Billy's face as the idiot saw his present — one familiar and half-digested rabbit.
"And then...and then... Tom!" The snake rolled around his lap, eager like a pandering dog. "I told my companions to hang the rabbit from the ceiling, so Billy will definitely see it!— First thing as he enters—"
"Good job," Tom hissed, dark eyes narrowing with pleasure.
"—Tom, time for dinner!" Before Tom could finish his sentence, Harry poked his head into the room. He stared at Tom with impossibly bright green eyes.
Moving as fast as she could, the snake hid into Tom's sleeves.
"Come downstairs right away—OH NO— the stove—"
Harry turned and ran out before Tom had a chance to catch a glimpse of his expression. Tom watched in silence, from the edge of the half-open door, as Harry disappeared from his view. Suddenly, Tom had the weirdest feeling that Harry might be... running away from him?
When it was finally safe, the little snake poked her head from his sleeve.
"Are you sure Harry's can't understand us?"
Tom's good mood vanished suddenly. His eyes darkened. He pursed his lips and tried to recall his conversation with the snake. He tried to remember if it was possible for Harry to overhear them... and suddenly, the thought of it panicked him.
The snake thought long and hard, then shook her tiny head. "Not all wizards can understand snakes."
She wrapped herself around Tom's wrist unhappily, and refused to explain more. Does Tom think that parseltongue grows in trees? Does Tom think that this noble language is so common that anyone off the streets might be able to understand them?
This was the noble language of the great Slytherin house. The ancestral language of his heirs.
OMG, I'm so sorry. Forgot yesterday was Wednesday! Wednesday is such a bad day. It's in the middle of the week, so I'm always busy.
Can I change my weekly update schedule to Fridays? Thanks!