47 Days to Change (a translation) @snow_owl01
Mr Potter

Chapter 7

NOTE: This is a translation of a Chinese HP Fanfiction by 墨玉绿

parseltongue

November 19, 1932.

Once again, winter had descended upon London. Homeless men shuddered in dread, cursing the heavens; while stray cats and dogs hid away safely in some abandoned buildings, waiting patiently for snow to stop falling.

Snow covered all the roads with a silvery flurry. Winter came early this year, the temperature dropping like a rock. All vegetables doubled in price, even brussel sprouts.

Things took a turn for the worse at Wool's Orphanage. They even lost their weekly 'meat dish' privileges. If possible, their daily breads smelled even worse, wrinkled and mouldy, but the children didn't protest—

Anything tasted better than starving.

Behind the Orphanage's high-rise gates, fights and unfairness were occurring daily. The children formed little gangs, semi-organized and territorial, they behaved as cruel as adults — beatings, blackmail, burglary— nothing was beneath them. The matrons at the Orphanage had long since given up maintaining order. As long as they took the fights outside, no one cared.

In the snow covered courtyard, a bag of candies was enough to ignite a new conflict.

"You there. That woman brought you candy again, didn't she?"

A sturdily-built boy stood in Tom's way, looming over him while cutting off his path. He snickered cruelly, then signalled to a group of waiting boys and girls. They moved forward, giggling in their high-pitched childish voices, as they surrounded Tom.

"Oh, Tom, "A boy said in a fake, squeaky voice, trying to imitate Tom's visitor. "Are you in detention again?"

Tom stood still. Cold eyes, black and silent as midnight, stared pass their faces, as if they were no more than clowns in a bad show.

The boy with the rabbit popped up next to the bulky one. No way was he going to pass up a chance to humiliate Tom. He stroked the balding rabbit in his arms, then, in his annoyingly high-pitch voice, he mocked.

"Tom, so sorry, sweetie. But we are too poor to take care of you."

They sniggered loudly, as if that was the funniest thing in the world.

So what?! What if he was the only one to get candy... In the end, he was still abandoned at the Orphanage, no better than any of them.

"HAND OVER THE CANDIES! THEN MAYBE WE'LL LET YOU THROUGH."

They stood in front of him, chins high, eyes mocking, proud like prickly peacocks. No trace of childhood innocence remained on their faces. Society and its cold, harsh reality twisted their sense of morality into a mockery that had long since vanished into winds. All that remained was a savage need for survival, a cold and terrifying practicality that told them— one ought to care only about himself.

Tom sneered.

He never touched the bag of candy... and he never will. Yes, that woman always brought candies for him, regardless of his distain for their sickly, sticky sweetness. The candies, cheap and of every colour imaginable, filled a whole plastic bag, which Tom tossed in a corner of his room, where they remained to this day.

Ever since he almost murdered Billy — that moron— and his disgusting rabbit for trespassing, no one dared to step into Tom's room.

Tom didn't care for candies; however, that didn't mean he was willing to share. They were given to him, and thus, they belonged to him.

What is his...remains his forever. He would like to see them try to take anything from him.

"HAND 'EM OVER— OR YOU WILL GET A TASTE OF OUR FISTS."

As the children waited, suddenly, a smirk bloomed on the four-year-old's thin, pale face. Eyes as black as a raven's wings, hair tainted by dead nights, at this moment, the boy, who standing-up could barely reach the tabletop, became something more than human. He became something more mystical, unimaginable, potent like the ruler of Hell.

"AHHHHH!" Someone screamed in pain.

Everyone turned and stared in horror as one of them, a red-haired boy, keeled over in pain, clutching at his face. Blood poured from a terrible gash on his forehead. Endless crimson liquid pooled by his feet, colouring the snow pink. A blood-stained brick laid close-by.

Who could've done this?

They stared at each other in confusion. The brick seemed to have appeared out of thin air.

They were still children, unprepared to deal with unforeseen events, and instantly, the sight of blood panicked the crowd.

"WHO HAS DONE THIS?... SHOW YOURSELVES!" They screamed, eyes wide with fear.

Billy, who was so enthused a moment ago, cowered behind his friends, clutching the rabbit close. Too frightened now his victims dared to fight back. Cranking their necks, the children searched the empty yard, screaming for the culprit to show.

In the excitement, they seemed to forget all about Tom, who remained in the middle of the crowd, watching them scream with mild interest.

Tom watched as the bleeding boy grew faint. He looked down as blood dripped onto the snow, then he smiled, a most sweet, innocent, boyish smile. Tom was the only one unaffected by all the commotion. He stood in leisure, as if he expected all this to happen, a most peculiar smile etched across his face.

"HE DID IT!" The bulky boy screamed suddenly, pointing at Tom. "HE DID IT! I KNOW THAT HE DID IT!"

Tom's smile only grew.

"But... but—" a girl trembled. "We were all watching him. He... he didn't even move."

That's right. Tom didn't even move. He couldn't have thrown anything, because they were all watching him.

"FREAK!" Billy yelled, watching Tom's face in terror. He backed away slowly, then turned and ran. With tension already high, that was the last straw. All the boys and girls ran away —screaming — from the four-year-old. Something in his small, delicate body frightened them— something mysterious, primal and powerful.

"GET AWAY FROM ME! FREAK!"

Suddenly, Tom was the only one left in the empty courtyard, left behind with nothing but a swarm of muddy, messy footprints surrounding him.

Freak?

So what? Call him a freak if you must, for as long as his name strikes fear into your heart, for as long as he has enough power to take what he wants. Freak, or monster, or whatever... was a name that came with certain distinctions, which carried a power that they could only dream of.

Tom smiled. He inspected his bony fingers, so small and frail, yet... so powerful.

He waved his hand. The blood-stained brick levitated and floated toward him. Tom wiped the crimson stain with his fingers tips, then held his hand to the light. The dark scarlet coated his pale skin beautifully.

"Sssss... Tom, I thought you hate that bunny boy, why didn't you hit him?" A soft, reptilian hiss drifted to his ears, unintelligible to human-ears but perfectly clear to Tom.

"Ah, that one deserves much more than... a rock to the head."

The young child giggled at his own joke. Darkness clouded his eyes. His soft hissing, as soft as lullabies, caressed the ears of the viper wrapped around his ankle. The creature shuddered, whether due to the cold or her young master's sinister cheeriness... well, no one knows.

Human hatchlings are scary, the viper thought as it flicked its tail.

Fate looked down on them, satisfied with the progress. From the beginning of time to the end of the universe, it has always pushed history along a predetermined track — the boy's magic had awoken, his mind had opened and his destiny had begun.

No matter how hard you try to change it— no matter how many times you turn back the clock— all your efforts will only end in futility.

When Tom returned to his room, he received notice to get dressed — right away— then to head down to the lobby. A guest was coming.

At the orphanage, this could only mean one thing— a potential adoptive family was coming. Better clean up nice and look cute.

For such special occasions, the orphanage provided them with one set of nice clothes, a fine suit with paper-thin fabrics. Of course, it was designed for appearances sake, with no practical function in mind and too thin for winter. Tom wrapped the aged, black scarf around his neck, three-turns to make sure it was secure.

"I heard he is young!"

The children, all dressed in identical uniforms, gossiped excitedly amongst themselves as they headed to the lobby. Tom followed, their faces blurring together, none important enough for him to notice.

Three girls walked in front of him, chirpy and giggling, hopeful with the dreams of a better life.

"Well, I heard he's got a big house. And unmarried too—"

Unmarried. That's big! That meant no competition from birth children or hard-to-please mistress, which lowered the likelihood of being sent back to the orphanage.

Tom stayed quiet. He blended into the crowd and entered the lobby with them.

Tom lowered his head, bored out of his mind. He had no interest in being adopted. Now he had figured out how to gain power over the children, he was fine with sticking around this shithole — at least, here, there were little adult supervision and no familial responsibilities. At least, here, he was allowed to roam freely, taking what he wants by force.

Tom's eyes flickered. He pulled up the scarf to cover his face.

"Tom," the rope-sized viper slithered in his pocket. "They'll be a fool to not choossssse you... If you just smile a little, they'll see you're the prettiest little one here—"

"Don't be ssssssilly. I don't want to get adopted."

The little snake hissed in confusion. Her un-evolved brain couldn't comprehend why Tom is acting so stubborn. Why must the boy wear such a gloomy expression on his pretty face? And why must he insist on not caring, when, in fact, she knows he is yearning for a family?

After five minutes, when they were all seated, Mrs. Cole, very drunk judging by the state of her walk, brought in their guest.

"Ma'am. I'm only look for"

"Yey, yey," Mrs. Cole interrupted the young man rudely, eyelids half-open. She slurred. "Good kids... the lot of 'em... Good kittens... They... they...waitin' for you."

The doors threw open. Mrs. Cole waddled in shakily, looking rather like a giant walrus with a bottle of gin.

A frowning young man followed closely behind.

Tom, who hid behind other taller children, gave a dismissive glance toward their guest.

The young man was very slender, with porcelain skin as pale as moonlight, as if he was recovering from some terrible illness. He appeared fragile, even more so than the thin kids who stood before him, yet his disposition was strong and alert. The most amazing things were his eyes— bright green— so bright that Tom couldn't find the right words to describe them. Tom thought that they looked even prettier than his favourite glass marbles, jade-green when glimmering in the sunlight.

His black hair was a bit long and messy, curling at the tip, which hid his forehead. Tom thought he saw a peculiar shaped scar beneath the bangs, but he was too far away to be certain.

From the moment the stranger stepped into the lobby, Tom felt something stirring inside him. His own soul resonated, burning like never before, drawn —inexorably —toward the stranger from deep within his very being.

"What's wrong, Tom?" The little snake slithered up his sleeves, after noticing her young master's distress. His heart beat so fast —too fast — he must calm down before he gets a heart-attack. She bit his wrist. The pain was enough to snap Tom out of his trance.

"I'm fine," Tom exhaled slowly.

A dull pain expanded in his chest as his heartbeat slowed to normal. For a moment, the pain made Tom think he was suffocating. But the moment passed as quickly as it begun. His heart returned to pumping blood, dutifully, through his veins, as if it had never tightened at the sight of that mysterious young man.

Before Tom has a moment to gather his thoughts, Mrs. Cole spoke again, "Everyone, this is Mr. Potter."

Mr. Potter.

That familiar name caused Tom's heart to skip another beat. The normally stoic boy startled up; his ebony eyes fixed on Mr. Potter's face, whose likeness, now, was burned onto his retina forever.

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