Discovery of magic (1934/7 years old)
Chapter 2: The same proud and frank look
Tom and Harry were dressing up in front of their wardrobe's mirror, like every morning. For some unknown reason, a hair lock persisted in being an anarchist, annoying the small maniac.
I don't understand, Tom grumbled. Everything is perfect usually!
Calm down, Harry advised, annoying him a little more.
At seven years old, Tom was a very clean boy. His clothes were worn but never stained, his knees showed no hematoma. He regularly filed his nails, soaped between his buttocks and toes and he changed his pants every day.
If he could have done it, he would certainly have washed his laundry himself but no one would have left a child dip his arms in the tubs full of soap and hot water to vigorously beat the clothes, even if he had an imaginary friend of age. It was one of the establishment's rules: each had its own place.
That morning the boy was trying to tame a rebellious spike, eyes riveted on his mocking reflection, when something strange happened. His right hand, the one holding the comb, was suddenly tingling. And the spike disappeared.
Tom had not been struck by lightning, but he had the impression that what he had just experienced was similar. A mysterious force had passed through his fingers, violating without scruple all his intimacy. He felt completely changed, as if he had been emptied of all his organs and then had them hastily put back in their place. Something had turned everything his abdomen jealously hid upside down, reversing right and left lung and spleen's and pancreas' locations. Was the force from the outside or from the inside? He did not know. But that was not normal.
Did you feel it? Tom asked, in a worried mental voice.
Other thoughts, less intelligible, were squabbling among themselves: What was it-it looked like a lightning-Harry doesn't answer-Why doesn't he answer-Will I die?
Harry, too, was thinking fast. Unfortunately, as he thought using words, Tom clearly heard all his panicked thoughts.
Shit shit shit-How to do-It's inevitably magic-It's too early-Oh Merlin what to do?
What are you saying? What are you talking about, I don't understand! the child silently cried, eyes fixed on his reflection.
So Harry was forced to look into the mirror himself.
Tom and he were combing their hair every morning, but for the first time did the Boy-who-lived realized the child standing in front of him was Tom Riddle. He had become so accustomed to the kid he had almost forgotten his identity. Tom had a strong personality, of course. He was not easy to live with, especially twenty-four hours a day. He was capricious, at least with Harry, and sometimes downright unbearable. But until then, Harry had never seriously considered him as a budding Voldemort.
Well, shit, I read stories to him before we go to sleep!
How could one believe that a boy who had not even learned to read could one day kill his parents, torture Muggles and destroy villages? How could he imagine that the kid he had learned to love like a little brother, like a son, a twin, was the same man who had tried to murder him a terrible number of times?
But the boy in the mirror, even though he was a few years younger than the one Harry had seen in the Pensieve, had the same proud and frank look. No doubt: Voldemort was his past, present, and future.
If she had been alive, Merope Gaunt could have developed incestuous love for her son. He was only seven years old, but damn he was already handsome. His round cheeks promised to hatch in hard cheekbones. His thin, pale lips knew how to smile charmingly. To be fair, Harry might be projecting on him images of his older self, reading in his childish features the charisma of the Head Boy he had met in the Chamber of Secrets.
But the candidates for adoption themselves say that he is pretty, that his face is refined ... No, it's not that. What amaze us are in fact his eyes.
Tom's eyes were a very ordinary brown but they alone did turn Tom into a harmonious and complex whole in perpetual echo. It was his eyes which gave him his ghostly appearance, his strange delicacy.
With time, Harry had understood exceptional eye color seduced without difficulty, without even wanting it. Blue or green eyes couldn't help but naturally catch your attention.
Wasn't the only thing people had remembered of Lily Potter her green eyes? Anyway, that was the feeling given by everyone who had known her. Harry had always been sad and frustrated people described James as an amazing, brave and funny guy while his mother was just a beautiful red-haired green-eyed girl.
Well, Slughorn was a big fan of her, even though she was Muggleborn. But that's not the point.
The point was Tom Riddle's eyes did not have the color advantage. Their delicate contour and their almost inconvenient depth for a child were attractive by themselves. It was as if they were doing everything they could to compensate their banal color. They were all the more captivating.
As two chasms, they sucked the world out and promised an astral vertigo to the one who dared to plunge into them. They invited you to let go, to leave yout bodyshell to penetrate into the abyss. In this intra-ocular world, light could not enter. The great depths were a nocturnal and icy place, where the man who had lost his way had little chance of returning to the surface. Torn to shreds without noise nor eddy by a horde of nameless creatures, the one who met Tom's gaze suddenly felt cold.
Tom Riddle at seven was not really handsome: his features gave off something too powerful. From a distance he was identical to every child. His shape could not be distinguished from the others'. But as soon as one approached him, his presence made the world's edges vibrate.
I'm a charismatic person, it's true, the reflection murmured, an indescribable gleam in the eyes. But I'm a so complex being that I attract and frighten at the same time. Call me "Will-o'-the-wisp"!
There were those who were attracted by the child's aura. Little Margaret, nine years old, had a crush on him. Harry had noticed it, not Tom. Yet the little girl eyed him greedily. As for Ivy, the cook, she always granted him a larger portion than the others', saying eating was the beginning of happiness.
There were those who were frightened by his presence. This was the case of Mrs Cole and of some adopters. Tom looked too smart for a child, his gaze was too serious. Observing their reflection's stretched features, Harry suddenly realized it was partly because of him. The boy harbored in his head a conscience more than twice his biological age and that was what tormented some adults.
What's scary isn't Tom, Harry understood, dumbfounded. What's scary and appealing in Tom's eyes is me! The reason he stands out is me!
I don't understand a word of what you've been thinking! Tom interrupted him. Answer me, what was it in our fingers? Harry, tell me!
Tom was certainly not as abnormal as Mrs. Cole claimed but he still was an authoritative kid. He asked for Harry's answers in the same way he had ordered Dumbledore in the Pensieve to prove he was a wizard. Harry realized the wardrobe that would temporarily take fire, impressing the future Lord Voldemort, was precisely the one in front of which Tom was standing. Tom was ... Harry censured himself just in time.
I don't understand, Harry! Tom grunted. What is "dumbledore"? And "voldemort"? Why do you think my wardrobe will be in fire? What did we feel in our fingers just now? Answer me, I know you know the truth!
The boy was so angry his lips twisted in spite of himself. His reflection no longer showed a harmonious face but a tortured look, a mouth that spoke to itself, a child who sought answers in eyes he could not see.
Tom could stare at the mirror as he liked, it was not Harry in front of him but his own reflection. What was Harry like? Did he have an appearance?
Harry, he called as calmly as possible. Harry, tell me if you know anything, please.
This controlled thought did not hide all those which fussed before, after, and behind it. They went too fast for Harry to assimilate them, but they meant the same things: a state of panic, a feeling of betrayal, of incomprehension. Something was wrong and Harry, for one reason or another, had answers.
Harry could not give him a proper answer. His thoughts were as messy as Tom's. In their common head there was a tiring and stifling cacophony but he could not make a decision.
I'm afraid, Tom thought at the same time he physically shouted "Speak!” to his reflection.
The reflection only shrieked when he did so and closed his mouth when he did so.
Please don't shout aloud, Harry finally replied. Don't you think we already have a bad reputation?
Speak, thought the child silently. You won't leave me, will you? I'm scared. Am I going to die? What was this electric current? Why aren't you answering? You usually know everything!
For the first time in his life, Tom Riddle wanted his Harry to be palpable, to be a real boy ... If he had been, Tom could have stir him, slap him, or lock him up in the wardrobe and throw away the key. But as Harry only existed in his head, it was impossible to force him to do anything, which was maddening.
Who was Harry, what was he doing there? And why did he used words that did not seem to exist, like "pensieve" or "dumbledore"? "magix," why did Harry think that Tom was doing magic?
Had Harry, who had hitherto been his infallible ally even when he disagreed with his actions, turned against him? Did he, as some of the orphanage's kids, think he was mentally ill? That was what "doing magic" meant, wasn't it?
Yet if the others said he was nuts, it was precisely because of Harry! When he spoke to himself, it was because he was too enthousiastic and forgot to keep his thoughts for himself. And if his eyes frightened people, it was because they also belonged to Harry, his imaginary friend. It was as if he had four eyes.
Harry, always reassuring, intrinsically familiar, his other self, Harry thought incomprehensible things that were necessarily related to the strange tingling in their fingers a moment earlier.
What if Harry was the devil? What if he did not exist? What if Tom was crazy?
All those years, Tom had never wondered where did Harry come from nor why was he with him. Either he had been very lucky at birth, or he had been chosen – he especially liked the latter – but he had not dared to dwell on it too long, lest his benefactor should be taken away from him.
He had never talked about it to anyone for Harry had advised him not to. Harry had asserted that the other people did not have two consciences and that they would take fright. By the way, both remembered the teenager who was abandoned by his parents at the orphanage because he was mentally disturbed. Even Mrs Cole did not want him, she had lead him to the asylum.
Why would Tom try to find out from where his greatest good came, when it was so easy to just enjoy it? He did not care where Harry came from, if he came from somewhere, as long as he was there. Harry was himself, just as he had two arms. He was not going to reject his left arm on the pretext he already had a right one.
Of course, he had gathered some informations about Harry over time, effortlessly. Harry was a boy like him. His tone was more serious, more mature than his own. He had not, however, the keen voice of the priest: he was a grown-up, but not too old. He knew a lot more than Tom. Tom had been lucky, for he did not see himself being friend with an inferior person. He trembled with fear when he imagined he might have been assigned a foolish conscience, like Billy Stubbs' one.
Harry loved telling stories and making lame jokes. He was often very talkative even though sometimes he did not think for hours and let Tom take care of himself almost on his own. Almost, for Tom just had to call him for his friend to show up.
It was quite strange, but they did not have the same tastes even if they shared the same taste buds. Harry mentally drooled as soon as he heard the word "cheese". Tom found it disgusting but he always forced himself to eat his plate clean because he had noticed it made his friend happy.
Once, the voice had told him: In another life, I have suffered a little too much from hunger to endure the sight of food that will be thrown away.
As time went by, Harry had let out enough clues for Tom to understand he had had a life before him in a distant world. It seemed logical because Tom was only seven years old when Harry was ... more.
He found it even more brilliant. Besides being smart, protective and always available, his friend came from elsewhere! Tom was truly privileged, chosen by the gods.
Nevertheless, little Tom was who he was. Even if he literally loved Harry he had not until then judge it useful to try to learn more about his past life. It was not important, as long as Harry stayed forever in his head. Why should one be interested in one's own identity? He was his friend, he was his other self, and according Tom these titles define his identity just enough.
It was stupid to think Harry didn't exist and I had created him, Tom admitted. He uses words I don't know, he taught me stuff I don't know. It means he has a life apart from mine. I can't believe he's the devil either. The devil is wicked. Harry is my friend. But he still hides things from me. I don't like that.
You calmed down? Harry asked softly. I wanna make it clear: my jokes aren't lame.
Explain to me, Tom thought in a whimpering tone that was meant to be arrogant. If you're not the devil or an invention, tell me everything. What was it in our fingers? You know things.
That's true, Harry conceded. But you're so young ...
Tom was still a child, but did not Harry act like Dumbledore, overprotecting him, hiding the truth from him? It did not do him any good. And then, why not just tell him? Not everything, of course, but ...
Who is Dumbledore? Tom asked again. You think a lot about him.
I can't tell you everything, Harry answered, mobilizing his weak qualities of Occlumens.
It was pretty absurd to try to close his mind to himself but it was better than letting Tom learn that ...
Harry sighed so hard that Tom's body sighed with him. He felt exhausted when he had just got up. They had not even pee.
Come on, we go to bed and I tell you what I can, he said.
The boy nodded to his reflection, put his horn comb on the bedside table and lay down. He closed his eyes so he could concentrate the best on his other self's whispers. His breathing slowed down, as if he were going to fall asleep. He could almost imagine a ghost with cold lips whispering in his ear.
You know, what we felt in our fingers just now? Well, it was magic. You're a wizard, Tom.
xXx xXx xXx
Harry told Tom everything he could – it was a lot and very little at the same time. He spoke first about magic and about the wizarding world coexisting with the Muggle one, the non-magical one. Magic first manifested itself at childhood, often when the little wizard was upset and could not find a solution to their problem. Tom did not manage to tame his hear with his comb, so his magic had helped him.
But children don't control their powers well, so you absolutely shouldn't try to use them. It could cause a disaster, Harry insisted.
From time to time, Tom would feel this mysterious tingling and his spikes would disappear. If he was angry, windows would simmer. He would have to wait until he join the school of wizardry to control all that. Anyway, without a wand, he would not go far.
Okay, okay, I got it! Tom whispered. How is school?
There was no magical primary school: either the children went to a Muggle school, or they were home-schooled. Tom would join the local Muggle primary school next September.
At eleven, the wizards began their training at a school of wizardry. United Kingdom's most famous one, Hogwarts, was located in Scotland. It was a boarding school where you stayed for seven years and learned all kinds of things, but above all how to master and cleverly use magic with a wand.
As soon as Harry felt his thoughts venturing too far, he would rely on futile information. There were plenty of them, and Tom greedily listened to them.
Hogwarts students were allowed to own a pet, an owl, very useful for mail, a toad or a cat. There were two official exams organized by the Ministry of Magic: the OWLS, at the end of the fifth year, and the NEWTS, which put an end to the last year. At seventeen, a wizard was of age and could choose to continue his studies in a specialized school or to take a shorter training, or ...
Harry, Tom interrupted. How do you know all this?
You believe me, then? Harry was surprised.
Despite himself, he remembered his conversation with Dumbledore at the end of their second private lesson. At that moment, he had already been astonished by the ease with which Tom Riddle had accepted his wizard statute.
He immediately tried to think of something else, hoping Tom had not had a glimpse of the future. It would be disastrous if he learned that Harry came from that late.
The worst thing would be that he discovers what kind of relationship we had in my old life, Harry thought, conjuring in his mind imposing images of kittens.
It seemed the other boy had not noticed anything, for he replied:
I believe you, of course, since I don't lie to myself. And you are me. I believe in myself. Who is Dumbledore?
Why are you this interested in him?
Why don't you answer me? Tom retorted.
You won, Harry admitted. Well, there's nothing wrong in telling him-Dumbledore is the greatest wizard of all time. He's the Head m–He's a Hogwarts teacher.
Oh, Tom said. I knew it.
Harry pretended he believed him, Tom pretended he believed Harry believed him and so on. For a few moments, neither of them thought distinctly, then Tom exclaimed:
Stop doing that, I look like a fool!
Harry was quietly smiling, satisfied. The boy's scandalized tone made him grin harder, so much that a laughter escaped his lips.
If someone hears us laughing by ourselves, we're going to be put in the asylum, Tom scolded him.
Harry calmed down.
As you must have suspected, I also am a wizard, he said soberly.
Did you study at Hogwarts before you were reborn? Tom asked, as if he daily met people with magical powers.
Harry wondered again at the ease with which Tom had appropriated the new terms. It took him much more time to believe Hagrid.
You could say that, Harry said evasively.
Are you dead?
Harry hesitated. Yes and no. He was not even sure himself.
How is that possible, yes and no? Tom insisted.
Thinking is inconvenient when someone hears all your thoughts!
I know what you mean, the child pointe out. You're not sure if you've died, and now you live with me. Did you have a body before?
Of course. There are ghosts at Hogwarts, but I was a normal boy, with one body and one conscience, before. Not like you.
What were you like, then?
It had been a long time since Harry had thought about his previous appearance. He had become accustomed to his new existence as a spirit not entirely incarnated. He saw himself as a kind of scientific aberration, a pearly thing floating in Tom's brain, or somewhere in the metaphysical void of his heart-soul. He almost had difficulty believing that before he was alone in his head, and that he had a body of his own. This kind of life now seemed decidedly lonely. How could he have spent his days without another conscience keeping him company, without Tom?
Harry stared at their reflection in the mirror and answered, carefully choosing his words:
That's strange but I looked a bit like you. I had black hair, I was fairly thin. Not very tall.
Tom smiled with satisfaction.
Stop it, we look stupid, Harry joked.
I'm just glad you looked like me, said the boy. This is normal, we are one. It's easier to imagine you as my twin.
What if we go down to eat breakfast? Harry suggested, making Tom stand up. Mrs. Cole will scold us. And talking so much made me hungry.
Tom refused to go down to the dining room until he had finished grooming himself. He was, as Harry had predicted, scolded very loudly for arriving so late, and was entitled only to a glass of milk and an old piece of bread. But he did not care.
He was a wizard! And Harry was like him!
It was only a pity, a real pity, he could not use his powers yet. Maybe if he insisted, Harry would teach him a few tricks ...
I wouldn't dream of it, Harry commented implacably. And now it's"b" and "d" writing time!
But you know I can't distinguish them!
xXx xXx xXx
The following days, Tom, usually so assiduous, was completely lost in his thoughts. With glassy eyes fixing imaginary worlds, he was constantly mumbling. As soon as someone asked if he was okay, he would answer with a dark look. He said he was very busy and, above all, "leave me alone! I'm thinking".
He made Margaret cry and the little girl called him a wicked boy before running to her room. Harry vaguely reprimanded him but he himself did not like her very much. Nine years old, was not it a little early to look at a boy with greedy eyes?
In fact, Tom was spending his time discussing magic with Harry. As he could not use it, he consoled himself by learning as much as possible about it. That way, when he enrolled in Hogwarts ... because Harry had promised him, after the Muggle school – he pronounced the word Muggle with contempt – they would go to Hogwarts! No one would know he was Muggleborn. Everyone would mistake him for a child of a wizard family, a child who would almost know everything about magic before even having started school.
Oh yes, he had to wait a few more years and he would be on his way to the world he belonged to, the world of magic!
Until this day, he had never dreamed of leaving the orphanage before age. Indeed, most children, either orphans or abandoned one, did not leave before. They were educated until fourteen years old, and then they started working. When they turned twenty-one, they packed up their meager belongings and left the establishment for good.
He had thought he was condemned to live in this hole for forteen years more, that is to say two times his age, an eternity. The few candidates for adoption looked for babies. And when a couple took an interest in him – after all, he was clean, cute and well-bred – Mrs Cole dissuaded them with an anguished look.
In any case, he had never wanted to be adopted. He preferred the semi-liberty which was at present granted to him, than the forced love of unknown parents. He respected and needed no one but Harry and he was confident that it would stay the same all his life.
On the days when living at the orphanage saddened him too much, he had made great fugues plans. Even though Harry pretended he would never help him escape, Tom knew he would not let him down, for if one of them were to die, the other one would not survive.
But now Harry promised him a much grander future than Oliver Twist's! When he would turn eleven, he would be taken out of there. All he had to do was wait patiently. Accompanied by Harry, he would move to Hogwarts, this gigantic enchanted castle, where he would learn hexes, counter-spells and the art of potions!
He was so anxious he thought about it all day. Unfortunately, there was always a fool to get him out of his reverie and remind him that he still had to live in mediocrity for four years.
“Get out, Dennis!” he shouted at the only boy he thought owned a brain at the orphanage, Dennis Bishop.
What's wrong with you? Harry asked, astonished.
Tom ignored him.
"Oh, calm down, Tom," the tall, fair-haired boy replied. “It's curfew time, I wanted to warn you.”
Tom looked around with amazement and realized it was dark. He had just spent an entire hour talking with Harry about magical brooms.
“Thank you for letting me know. I'm sorry for my reaction, you surprised me," Harry said with a smile that looked strange on Tom's lips.
Tom went back to his room, mentally complaining about his imaginary friend who was taking too many liberties with his body. Harry, for his part, lectured him about his bad manners.
They had a hard time falling asleep.
Before, Tom did not really hate his life at the orphanage because he believed it was the only one he could have. And what's more, it was not luxury, the other kids were foolish, but Harry was with him, so it was fine. However, since Harry had told him stories about the incredible wizarding world, where he could achieve so much more than in this one, he had begun to hate the place where he lived.
It was so frustrating to know that all this existed, that Diagon Alley was somewhere in the city, without being able to go there! It was so frustrating to know you are an exceptional being without being able to show it to others or even to show it to yourself.
As soon as his thoughts became too bitter, Harry was there to reassure him.
You'll see, Tom, it'll soon happen. In the meantime, tomorrow you start primary school, so we need to rest.
xXx xXx xXx
You fine, you're not stressed out? Harry asked worriedly.
Who do you take me for?
But of course, Tom could not lie to him. Harry heard his messy thoughts, he felt their damp hands and their heart beating hard, indicating the child's anxiety. He knew Tom would not take his cheap words of comfort well though. Then he simply pressed his right arm.
Over the years, they had implicitly agreed that Harry could use their left arm to express himself. He rarely did it because it was strange for both of them, but in some special moments they pretended to be two separate people and Harry would put their left hand on their cheek or shoulder.
These gestures simply meant: "Even if you don't see me, I'm here."
“Tom, hurry up,” Anne called. “And come here, Billy! Is that for real? These brats, oh my Lord!”
Anne was an old woman who had spent her entire life in the orphanage. When Tom was still a baby, Harry remembered that she mended socks and knitted sweaters and scarves. When Tom started talking, she was the one who looked after the stocks of soap, of food and of all the products children needed in everyday life. When Tom stopped using diapers, she looked after the newborns. And when Tom had learned to dress by himself, she was the institute's ambassador.
At Tom's first day of school, she was her legal representative.
Billy and Tom followed her obediently. All three went in the school, glued to each other. Becoming a schoolboy did not happen every day. But what really intimidated them was all those unknown children around them. Indeed, apart from the mass, they never had the opportunity to meet any.
Some seemed to be their age, others were older. There were some who ran everywhere, calling each other. There were some who squeezed their satchels against their chests with an anxious look. All were accompanied by a woman: their mother or their nanny.
From time to time, something reminded Harry that he now lived in the middle of the 1930s, could it be clothing style, of course, basic technology or social injustice, which was much more noticeable than it was in the time he came from. No man worked at the orphanage, it was a woman's job. And, probably, no man accompanied his daughter or his son on their first day of school, it was his wife's task.
Anne hurriedly led the two children into the primary school's corridors. She seemed to be familiar with the locals, never hesitating when turning. Tom would have liked to take the time to examine the surroundings, but they quickly found themselves in front of a door, where, according to Harry, "Headmaster's office" was written. Tom believed him on his word.
Anne and the Headmaster spoke for ten minutes, as Tom and Billy stayed in the corridor. It was a very ordinary primary school, with long corridors, worn staircases and classrooms filled with desks. The walls and furnitures were pink, beige and yellow, colors supposed to give the illusion the place was bright and welcoming.
Harry looked around him with big eyes, as curious as Tom. If one thing really astonished him, it was that the school was mixed, but he did not develop this thought furthermore, not wanting to arouse Tom's suspicions.
Anyway, the boy was too busy looking inside an empty classroom to pay attention to Harry. Everything was exactly like in the books! The wooden desks, with their pitches for the inkwells, the windows along the whole length of the room, the platform behind the professorial desk and the indispensable blackboard, where the chalks would soon squawk. There was a colorful map of the United Kingdom hanging on the wall and a large picture of, Harry guessed with a shudder, Royal Air Force planes.
Harry, even in a Muggle school, you do learn a lot, don't you?
Muggles aren't stupid, Harry sighed. You'll see, school, it's very interesting.
Tom nodded. He trusted Harry completely. But Harry was far less sure of himself than he seemed to be. His own recollections of elementary school could be summed up in one activity: running fast enough to escape Dudley.
xXx xXx xXx
Tom quickly adapted to his new environment. The teacher had seated him in the second row, a little on the left. He was fine with that. She had also put Billy beside him, most likely so the two orphans did not feel lost. But Tom did not need Billy, who was a simpleton.
Your typical Muggle, not like Harry and I, Tom thought fitfully, before rectifying himself, for he could hear Harry's furious thoughts: Sorry, sorry, Harry! But you must confess, he's a moron.
He decided to prove to the teacher he did not need her patronizing. It was not because he was living in the orphanage that he was bound to be victim of bullying. He was not like Billy, who still had no friends after three days. At the end of his first day at school, he, Tom, knew the names of half his new comrades, all of whom had naturally come to him, attracted by his charisma.
Harry nevertheless forced him to walk the way every morning and every night with Billy Stubbs.
We live in the same place and we go to the same school, Harry said. If you want to look like a normal child, act like a normal child. Billy isn't mean.
Okay, Tom replied reluctantly, but his other thoughts left no doubt of what he thought of this chore.
So he went to school with Billy. As soon as they crossed the dark school gate, though, Tom run to their classroom, despite Harry's silent protests. And in the evening, as soon as Billy and he get in the orphanage, Tom disappeared into his room without having said a word to the other boy.
Harry did not dare ask him for more, for Tom was already blowing these daily trips up out of all proportions, saying they already exceeded the limits of his goodness.
xXx xXx xXx
After a week, Tom moved so easily in their classroom that he seemed to have been at school for years.
Most of the time, he did not talk to the girls because he had discovered that, unlike to the orphanage where you could talk to everyone, it was frowned upon at school. Yet, if he was in front of a girl, he would hold the door for her and if a girl dropped her gum, he would lean over to catch it. It was not kindness. That was how one behave if he wanted to be integrated just right.
Harry congratulated him for his upbringing and Tom congratulated himself for his cleverness.
Soon, he established himself as a perfect pupil. He worked conscientiously, learned to read and write at a prodigious speed and often raised his hand to answer the teacher's questions. He made brownie point after brownie point. Instead of exchanging them for a picture when he had ten, he put them in a small box he kept in his wardrobe.
Harry knew this box, it was the one that contained, in Dumbledore's memory, the little treasures stolen by Tom over the years. For the time being, it only had in it well-deserved stamped coupons. Harry still had hope: Tom could not become Voldemort.
He never forgot to congratulate him, each time he got all of the answers rights:
Well done, Tom!
And tirelessly, the child answered: Thank you, Harry.
Tom had first found that the school system was fun, with its ringings, recreations, exercises, homeworks and specific equipment. He liked the blackboard's cleaning brush, which every evening a pupil was charged to dust. He liked to see his comrades shyly raise their fingers and start all their sentences with "Mistress".
He was happy to have his own desk, in which he left his notebooks, his reading books and his writing tools. At lunchtime, he was sometimes offered a glass of milk, in which he dipped the orphanage's cookies.
But for him the class's rythm was too slow – he did not realize he was the one who was too fast, due to Harry's experience. He had been pleased to discover a new place of socialization, outside of the orphanage and of the church, but he was already dead bored.
It was too easy. It did not take much for his comrades to feed from his hands. In the schoolyard, kids from other classes invited him to play marbles – Harry noticed they were made of clay – or hopscotch or clapping games. The teacher herself was always praising him. And the exercises were a piece of cake.
Hogwarts, he kept repeating all day long. Hogwarts .
Soon, Harry could only answer.
But Tom remained silent.
As months passed, his excitement of the beginning had subsided. He used to bombard Harry with questions about witchcraft but now he had nothing more to ask or to tell him. What good is it to have powers, if you're stuck in school with Muggles, reading brainless stories where little girls pointed their finger at dogs, repeating "Look, Dick, look.” and where the famous Dick replied "I see, Jane, I see."?
He was angry with Harry for telling him about magic. He had done so too early or too late. He should never have told him. If Tom had not known, he would not have suffered every time he opened his eyes in his bed and noted it was not a four-poster one.
To Be Continued...