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47 Days to Change (a translation) @snow_owl01
Tom Riddle was Just an Orphan

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August 13, 1943

It'd been 7 months, 214 days and 5,136 hours, yet not even a shadow of that young man was seen at the house marked 'Harry Potter' in Godric's Hollow.

The roses in the yard had long decayed; the only thing filled with exuberance was the weeds under the fence, which had spread and occupied the entire courtyard. Because of his mother, Harry's favourite flower was lilies. However, they were too expensive, and the patch of ground near the front door was too infertile for the flowers to grow. Harry had no choice but to give up after several fruitless attempts and decided to plant roses by the fence. Not the tender pink ones, but the colourful and passionate bright-red ones.

Harry liked anything bright and colourful.

The hot August weather, in addition to the lack of water and cracking of soil, made it difficult for the roses to grow; so the once-thriving rosebush gradually wilted and died, their leaves gone. Now, it's violent and jagged branches stood in front of the fence, eerily peeping into the empty house. This was Tom's favourite scenery - death, desperation, and strangeness.

The teenager enjoyed this feeling; enjoyed the process of destroying what Harry liked. 'If you like it, then I'll break it'. This kind of behaviour could've seemed childish, but from the teenager it was creepy.

Harry liked Billy, so he made Billy scram back to the orphanage where his status was currently unknown; Harry liked Mylene, so he made Mylene the price for his Horcrux, leaving only an empty body; Harry liked the roses, so he'd smile and admire the process of their gradual withering, standing by idly when he could save them.

"Say, Nagini, will Harry be angry when he comes back? " Tom looked at the garden with a strange smile, making the snake twist uncomfortably. Before Nagini could answer, the tall, handsome boy laughed happily, as if he was telling a joke. "He definitely won't be angry."

Nagini had just come out of the cave, and her eyes couldn't adapt to the bright sunlight; a spot in her line of sight made Tom's expression invisible to the snake, but his words alone were enough to alert Nagini of danger.

"Say, what if he doesn't intend to come back?" The sixteen-year-old Tom asked, his voice as gentle as water.

The snake had obeyed the boy's command and stayed in the cave to guard the corpse-filled waters, and so was only summoned out by Tom a few days ago. Clueless about what happened between Harry and Tom, she could only honestly answer, "Nagini doesn't know."

"Then... I'll fly away from death." Tom turned back; the black diary laid upon the table appeared ordinary, but who would've thought the magic hiding within was so powerful?

Nagini thought Tom was no different from usual; in fact, he seemed calmer than usual. Only he knew how hideous he, Tom Riddle, was under the surface. How his insides twisted and squeezed; how bursts of anger, fear and greed poured into his brain, growling and gnawing aimlessly; gnawing away the young Devil's reason little by little, urging him to use the most extreme means.

This belated and deeply mutated feeling completely broke through the shackles of the Horcrux, finding the Devil they wanted to throw into Hell.

He had to find something to do, or else he'd go crazy. Having stayed in such a big place alone, and for such a long time; he'd definitely go crazy.

Tom Riddle pursed his lips and looked into the full-length mirror in the room.

The boy inside had a pair of bloody-scarlet eyes.

August 13, Little Hangleton, Riddle House

Tom Riddle got up on time, as usual, put on clothing suitable for his gentry status, and was now sitting in the dining room where the tableware already set out for breakfast.

Although the forty-year-old Tom Riddle had become old, shadows of his handsome youth were still apparent - like the charming laugh lines by the corners of his mouth. Unfortunately, his heart was not as good-looking as his face.

Two other people were also sitting at the big table; a woman who used cosmetics to try and cover the wrinkles by the corners of her eyes, and a gloomy, mean-looking young man. Here sat the occupants of Riddle House; Lord Tom Riddle, Lady Riddle and Young Master Riddle. The family was extremely wealthy, so even the house they lived in was Little Hangleton's most lavish and beautiful.

Today was very ordinary; at least, until 3 in the afternoon. Old Tom made an appointment with a few friends who were, of course, of similar prominent identities to play bridge together. He was the best at it, though he wasn't as good as his son; it's better to say that together they were considered unbeatable. The father-son pair had the same virtues, and when teamed up together they were highly cooperative; it didn't take very long for their corner of the table to be piled with coins and banknotes.

"I'm not playing anymore!"

"I'm not playing anymore either! I've lost everything."

Sending away those slaughtered sheep, old Tom felt a little happy again. Hah, his wealth had increased again!

"My Lord." A maid rubbed the corner of her clothes, trembling in the beautifully-decorated room, and hesitatingly spoke. "There's someone who wants to meet you..."

A child? Even though he was in a good mood from his profit, Old Tom still waved his hand with a stiff expression, frowning impatiently. "Tell him to scram; I don't know him."

The maid was startled by the man's rough tone and hesitated for a moment. She looked to the mean-looking, young Tom Riddle who stood aside, then immediately bowed her head. "But that person claims to be... Tom Riddle..."

An old Tom Riddle, and two mini Tom Riddle's? A minor issue in wealthy families, who hadn't seen it before?

However, the maid preferred the man who waited quietly beside the living room door. She hurried there, her mind continuously flashing to the sight of the young man - handsomely tall, pale, and well-mannered. This Tom Riddle compared to the abominable, mean and snobbish Tom Riddle in the room... No, they were incomparable! The maid harshly spat at the thought of that demon, unbeknownst that the one in the living room was Satan.

"The Lord called you in." Not knowing what to call him, the maid could only omit that detail as she stood by the door of the living room.

Tom put his hand in his pocket, his slender fingers rubbing the handle of his wand. The Slytherin was terrifyingly pale; without a single sign of human-like rosiness on his cheeks, he appeared similar to a vampire that had been long neglected from sunlight. Though, even if the sun did shine on his skin, it still wouldn't be able to wash out the viciousness underneath.

No one noticed how the handsome boy's knuckles turned white from clutching his wand; after all, no one knew such a thing existed. The maid only saw the smile blooming on the teenager's face, flawless and impeccable.

"Thank you." Tom stepped into the magnificent architecture, his smile suppressing the murderous intent that had risen to the corners of his eyes.

No one knew that Riddle House had welcomed death; Harry knew, but he wasn't in 1943.

The Dark Lord Voldemort would never admit that he had fantasies about his parents, but Tom Riddle would.

Any child who couldn't see their parents, no matter how mature, would naively imagine their parents' appearances and behaviour to cater to their desire for love - which scheming lunatic didn't grow from a pure, innocent child?

Tom Riddle fantasized before, in his childhood or earlier.

But he had no evidence to support his fantasy - his mother was a wanderer, abandoned by her husband, and it became a topic Mrs Cole ridiculed and chattered about for a long time. As for his father... He never heard anything about him, as if he didn't even know about his existence. Indeed.

"Oh, you're the son of that bitch Merope?" Old Tom pulled a mocking expression, staring at the face similar to his youthful appearance; the following words he spat out were so dirty and sharp it seemed as if he had used every curse known to mankind. "How such an ugly woman managed to deceive me into having sex with her is a mystery - she even gave birth to a bastard like you."

The Slytherin suddenly felt that younger him was very stupid. His childhood imaginations were still vividly imprinted in his mind, probably affected by those absurd Muggle fairy tales, where a pair of long-lost father and son meet, weeping with joy. The imagined affections actually made him look forward to meeting him. How... Stupid.

He already knew that any seemingly positive emotion was nothing but a bubble; though it may warmly refract the seven colours of light, just one poke could pop it. Love and bonds, they're merely excess ideas created by humans in their spare time! He always knew this truth, but it was at this moment he gained further understanding.

"The bitch actually had the face to give birth to you!" Thinking back to the deceit, old Tom beat the table angrily and viciously cursed, "You shouldn't even fucking exist, you bastard!"

"Truly a bastard," spoke mini Tom Riddle, who was standing by; he disliked the face that looked better than himself.

One 'bastard' after the other was hurled towards him, spiteful and malicious.

How angry would Harry be if he heard this? That the child he had taken care of for more than a decade was only worth a few shouts of 'bastard'?

But Tom was no longer the wizard cub who, from one cry of 'freak', would cause accidental magic. In the Slytherin house, like a fish in water, Tom Riddle was capable of playing all the pureblood families within his palms; he could control his cold, killing intent, and the hands that held his wand; he could conjure a facade of what a young man should be like, and separate his resentment.

No, how could he let them die so easily? How could he let himself be accused of murder because of them?

Under the setting sun, the eyes that had long faded from black were gradually infested by a thickening bright-red; appearing more shocking than the fiery sunset across the horizon.

The boy faced the sunset and laughed while he walked away, his vocal cords tremoring.

He had a plan; a plan that would make things easy for him, but not everyone else.

After tonight, there would only be one Tom Riddle in the world.

Tom Riddle was an orphan.

Tom Riddle only had one adoptive father, called Harry Potter.

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