“Darling, could you turn that down?”
“No, I’m the one driving.”
A couple drove along the road, the woman giving her husband a displeased glare as he continued to drive, snapping her long neck from him to the car’s window. Behind her, a rather plump child played with his action figures in growing boredom. With a frustrated groan, he threw them down and crossed his fat little arms. “I want the telly!”
The woman’s face slightly furrowed her brows, that being the only sign of anger she allowed to show before she turned her head to her son. “There is no telly in this car, darling. I’m sure Auntie Lily has one,” she offered as pleasantly as she could.
Thankfully, it seemed the gods had her in their good graces because the boy only grumbled and dropped it. The woman, Petunia, sighed in relief and focused on her husband. The boy looked over at another child sitting beside him, who, in looks, starkly contrasted the other members of the car. The little thing was as frail and skinny as they come, green eyes almost neon in their color even if they looked dulled with solemnity. The little boy was fiddling with a bit of worn string, a smile dancing at the edges of his lips as he made it wave with his movements.
“What on earth are you doing?” The boy, Dudley, budged in as he leaned forward.
The smaller boy grimaced and shied away from him, pressing against the car door. “Nothing, Dudley,” he quietly said, eyes flickering to the boy’s face and his string as if he were accepting an oncoming fate.
True to suspicions, Dudley snatched the string and dangled it with a raised brow. “What are you doing with this thing?” He huffed with a malicious grin. “Gonna do your freaky things with it?”
The dark-skinned boy’s face flushed in humiliation. “N-no! What am I going to do with a string, Dudley?” He fired back, helplessly reaching out for it. Dudley only leaned back further.
“Knowing you, you would probably burn it and speak to your satanic god!”
“N-No… it’s not satanic…”
Dudley only sighed loudly and threw the string backward, reveling in the other’s face of despair. He had his fill of fun, but now he was bored again. Dudley picked up his toys once more, ignoring the other boy sulking beside him.
The car suddenly stopped and both boys blinked, looking at the man - Vernon - in the front as he struggled to get himself and his bulk out of the vehicle. He stretched and grumbled, glaring at his family and barking, “out of the car! We’re stopping for gas!”
All three immediately did as told and got out, Dudley letting out a pained noise when a wave of heat hit him. The smaller boy looked unbothered with the sweltering temperatures as he followed Petunia into the gas station, Vernon staying behind to fill the car with gas. A woman greeted them with a happy smile.
“Howdy y'all, you headin’ to SweetBack?” She asked sweetly.
Petunia grunted. “Yes, we are,” she answered eventually as she let Dudley roam around to gather snacks. The small boy, however, stayed faithfully by her side, peering up at the lady before looking back down meekly. Vernon soon joined them and they began to shop around, the little boy making sure to stand a bit away from them as he watched out the window, the sun gently lowering. He grew up in Britain, but the boy could admit that the views were just angelic as he stared mesmerized at the sky’s colors. But out of the corner of the boy’s eye, he noticed a little shadow, blinking and looking over at it with his best ability in the darkness. It hovered around Vernon’s car, which made the boy raise a brow curiously.
“Boy, what the hell are you doing?”
Said child jumped and looked up at Vernon, stammering out a, “nothing Uncle Vernon, sorry Uncle Vernon.”
The mustached man looked unconvinced but looked out to the window, snorting. “Fucking nasty hicks. The only good thing about these parts is the sunrises and sunsets.” With that, the family filed into the car again, but the raven-haired boy couldn’t help but worry. If a stranger had looked at it, surely something was wrong? But it seemed his worry was for naught because Vernon looked unalarmed.
Off on the road again they went, Dudley munching on chips and Petunia sipping coffee.
Then the car suddenly swerved.
Dudley let out a squeak as Vernon cursed loudly, gripping the steering wheel and trying to fix their course. Petunia cried out in panic when a tire burst, the car screeching as it swerved, and this time Vernon could not stop the car from heading headfirst into a nearby phone line.
Pain exploded into the boy’s head as screams and loud scraping filled his ears, glasses cracking. When his senses came back he was a trembling mess, sobbing and heaving as he tried to open his eyes and look around. He let out a horrified whimper when he felt the warm oozing of blood - his and others - and met eyes with Dudley’s corpse. The boy unbuckled as fast as he could with his shaking hands, crawling out the broken window without care of his stomach getting badly cut.
As the boy writhed on the ground in agony, he could barely feel a warm, gentle hand tilting up his chin, seeing a blurry figure from his watery eyes.
“Oh, look at you, darling.”
And then the boy knew no more.
He felt cold. Why did he feel so cold?
The boy groggily blinked his eyes open, shivering all over as he curled up and tried to breathe in the freezing air, startled when his breath came out in white puffs. The tiny thing shakily sat up using his thin arms - only to halt when his small fingers curled in wetness.
He swallowed thickly, slowly looking down at his slippery hands.
He gagged and scrambled away from the bloodied floor, soft terrified noises filling the otherwise quiet room. He raised his trembling hands and tried to wipe them on his shirt, clenching his eyes shut.
Why was there blood there? Why was-
A loud bang made the boy scream, head snapping up wooden stairs as a steel door opened slowly before closing. It was dark, his glasses nowhere to be seen, panic flaring inside him as he squinted in the dark. The boy scooted against a cooler as he heard slow footsteps creak down the stairs until finally, he could see the tips of shiny black shoes, then black trousers, and then a handsome face.
The boy swallowed nervously and curled up more, knees digging into his chin as he eyed the man warily as he crouched a few inches in front of him. “Well then, little doll,” he whispered softly, “What’s your name?”
The boy blanked out.
“Harry,” he amended quickly, face flushing in shame.
The man blinked in surprise, frowning thoughtfully. Then he smiled gently and the boy couldn’t help but notice the tilt they had that made them look sleepy and soft. “Hello Harry, my name is Tom Riddle - call me Riddle,” he introduced.
The boy only nodded slightly, looking back at the blood.
“Oh, dear, curious?” Riddle hummed a soft laugh, “That blood is what remains of your family.”
Harry’s relaxed posture suddenly tensed as he rounded his head to Riddle’s face again, eyes widening in horror. Riddle smiled kindly, “What is it, darling?”
“Y-You killed them!” Harry accused in a tone of terror, wanting to be anywhere but close to this man, trying his best to keep an eye on him as he looked for an escape.
The brunette only chuckled, “Yes, I did. The little one did have a real...exquisite taste, he did.”
Harry blanched, holding in the bile that wished to come out. “You-” killed them. Mr. Riddle killed the Dursleys.
The Dursleys who hurt him. Uncle Vernon, who put out cigarettes on his neck. Aunt Petunia, who hit him with her pan if he cooked something wrong and locked him outside in awful weather if he was bad. Dudley, who took and beat him. Dudley, who broke his bones and tried to push him down the stairs while he did chores.
“H-” ahaha. Mr. Riddle killed his family, he killed the Dursleys.
Tears spilled down his face as small giggles bubbled up his throat, eyes wide and blank as he hid in his knees. “You killed my family!” He shouted, “They’re dead dead dead dead…”
Without knowing, he smiled within the privacy of his knees.
Thank God, I’m finally free…
“Yes, little bird, sweet little thing, you’re free,” came a small hum, a warm hand coming to curl in his hair and *pet*. Harry blinked before his eyes widened in fear. He hadn’t known he said that out loud, oh God oh God-
“Shh, it’s okay,” Riddle cooed softly, pulling Harry to his chest. The boy couldn’t help but melt into it even as he knew he could die, would probably die. His touch-starved body didn’t care and soaked up the cherished warmth, going limp. The boy was so thankful for the contact he barely realized he was picked up until another voice assaulted his ears.
“Is this…” a woman’s voice spoke softly.
“Yes,” Riddle said gently, hand still carding through Harry’s hair. It felt so nice that he felt the need to sleep. He was so tired.
Harry really didn’t want to go to sleep, but as his forehead was kissed - and oh God, that’s never happened before but it felt so nice and good and he wanted even more - his eyelids drooped and he drifted into a slow, peaceful sleep.
“What are you doing, Tom?”
Riddle cradled the sleeping boy in his arms, eyes rising to meet a woman’s. She looked wary, as she should, but he only shook his head. “I’ve decided not to kill him,” he started slowly, “I’m sure he’ll be useful to us.”
“Useful how ?” The raven-haired woman countered, still looking uncomfortable.
Riddle hummed softly, pulling down a too-big shirt to reveal unsavory wounds - fresh. They were not from the car crash. The woman stared, then looked up at him. She relented and stepped back, “Take him upstairs,” she murmured quietly, “I’ll be there in a moment to treat those.”
Riddle preened in victory, the tall man leaning down to press a gentle kiss on red lips before he carried the little boy upstairs.
“Ma, who was that?”
The short woman looked down at a frowning boy, tiny hand clutching her skirt. She grunted softly and combed her fingers through soft curls. “A new friend,” she said after a beat.
The boy’s face scrunched up in confusion. His gaze trailed to the narrow stairs, eyes darkening.
After all, how could you bring a stranger into a house full of secrets?