It all began when Tom was 5 and Mrs. Cole decided to “treat” the orphans to a day out in nearby Surrey.
Tom was all alone minding his own business when one pig like boy and his friend decided that he was someone easy to pick on.
Now Tom was no weakling but against two boys of their size, he was likely to come out with some bruises that would raise questions with the orphanage stuff and would likely lead to further punishment for “instigating” the fight, however untrue that may be.
He was getting prepared to fight even though he would most probably lose when the boy’s attention was diverted to another boy who was walking towards us.
He was a little taller than me and a year or two older with dark hair and tan skin which was odd given our weather here in Great Britain.
I didn’t have much time to think when the new arrival spoke condescendingly;
“Shouldn’t you be picking on someone your own size cousin dearest? Though I doubt you’ll find any baby whales nearby” his lips were curved into a sarcastic smirk, looking smugly at the gaping boys.
“Yo…..You freak, I’ll tell dad” the two boys dispersed after that, stomping angrily away.
“I could have handled that myself” I bit harshly to the boy still standing there, staring at me with amusement in his eyes.
“I know but getting in trouble because of those useless twat’s is not really worth it, is it?” he didn’t look the least disappointed that I hadn’t uttered one word of gratitude.
Before I had the chance to say anything in reply, I was harshly pulled by an orphanage employee to join the other children on the bus, the excursion was over.
“Till we meet again” the strange boy said before going the same way the two other boys had.
Years passed and my memory of the strange boy went with them.
Sometimes I would see a person with tan skin and ebony hair and my memory would be tickled but nothing ever came out of it so I dismissed it as nothing.
I didn’t see him again until my college years, even though I didn’t realize it at the time.
The campus library was my sanctuary and made sure that nobody disturbed me during my time there.
I had found a little nook for myself and when I was there, I felt nothing but peace. That is until recently.
I had gone through and done unspeakable things to get this far in life.
I crawled my way to the top and finally, I was here, about to become one of Cambridge University's alumni.
There was one snag in the plan of course, as was expected.
In my time here at Cambridge, I had made sure to make friends in powerful places, heirs of multi-million companies and with my superior grades, I had my pick of which company to work at and if I was anyone else, I would be jumping at the opportunity to work for most of those companies but I wasn’t just anyone else, I was Tom Riddle and I would never work for someone.
“You certainly look deep in thought” I was startled from my thoughts by a voice that sounded suspiciously close by.
When I followed the sound, it led me to a male about my age sitting a table over, looking intently at me.
“I was” was my short reply before going back to staring blankly at my book.
I can’t say I wasn’t surprised he was speaking to me given that it was common knowledge that ‘you do not disturb Tom Riddle while he is in the library’.
“Would you care to share? I hear it’s nice to offload to a stranger” his lips quirked into a smirk that felt so painfully familiar but I could swear I’ve never seen him before.
“No, Thanks” even though it sounded awfully nice to be able to speak to someone freely, trust did not come easily to me and I would never risk myself like that.
“Well, that’s unfortunate. Anyway, good luck on your future endeavors” he got up and picked up his phone, about to leave.
“Yeah, you too” I went back to my book, expecting him to be gone.
“Oh, by the way, I hear Small’s Enterprises is selling at a cheap price after the scandal of its founder. It could become something great in the right hands” I was too surprised to react at first but when the words registered, I was on my feet, looking for today’s paper and lo and behold, there was indeed a scandal.
It seemed it was my lucky day and so thoughts about the stranger in the library quickly disappeared from my mind.
Another few years went by and Tom Riddle was a name both to be feared and awed at in the business world.
After acquiring my first company with some money I sourced, things only got better and bigger and now, I was proud of the empire I had built.
Riddle Cooperation was something else and with its birth, I was reborn which was why I made sure to have my past erased and leave only the minimal information.
It was after-all a cutthroat world and I had to make sure that all my demons stayed in the closet which was why I was very unhappy to be receiving threats.
A fellow businessman had tried his hardest to sink Riddle Co., in its infancy because he was afraid of what it may become and for years, he had tried everything to get me to sell what I had built only to receive the same answer over and over again, ‘NO’, but he was relentless no matter what I did.
He had merely become an annoyance and somewhat of a laughing stock in the business world with how quickly he was losing his empire to me.
He was not amused and escalated, going as far as to have one of my houses ransacked in his desire to see me fold.
I didn’t really pay him much attention until the manila envelope sitting on my desk arrived late this afternoon.
Inside were details of my past that if were to come out would ruin me and tear down everything I had worked so very hard to build.
“I’m sorry to disturb you Mr. Riddle but you have that charity gala to attend tonight and it's already past six” I came to like I had just been doused in cold water.
“Thank you, Victoria, I’ll be right out.” I gathered my stuff and the envelope and made my way home to get ready.
By the time I arrived at the gala, it was in full swing and people were standing in groups, chatting and drinking.
I went straight to the bar.
“I’ll have Scotch, on the rocks” I ordered the bartender before casting my eyes on the people gathered.
For a split second, I thought I saw tan skin and ebony hair but the bartender distracted me by offering me my drink.
“Thanks” I told him, barely looking at him before looking around with a sense of urgency that even I didn’t understand.
“I didn’t think you’d show your face here today. I hope you liked my present” I heard the haughty voice of Mendelson say, the man trying to blackmail me.
“It was extremely thoughtful, not something I would expect from your pea sized brain” I told him, taking a sip of my Scotch.
“Why you……. Anyway, not like it matters. Soon everything you have will be mi…” he didn’t get to finish his sentence as at that very moment, his shirt was soaked with what smelled like Vodka.
“Oh, my apologies, it seems I tripped on thin air again” the man’s voice was sheepish and sincere but his eyes told a whole different story altogether.
Mendelson looked pissed but with a few eyes looking on, he couldn’t exactly voice his thoughts out loud.
“Apology accepted. Accidents happen all the time” was his reply instead.
“Indeed they do” the way the guy said those words made a chill go down my spine for whatever reason.
Mendelson wandered off to salvage what was left of his night and I was left staring into the most hypnotizing pair of emerald eyes.
“I hope you don’t expect a ‘Thank you’” I told him, making sure to keep my voice level.
“Of course not, I would never even dream of it” his eyes glowed with amusement as if he was privy to some secret I didn’t know about.
“Well, I hope you enjoy your night”
“You as well” he left me standing there at the bar with my watered down Scotch while he disappeared into the crowd.
Thoughts of the stranger plagued me for the rest of the gala and no matter how hard I searched, I couldn’t seem to find him again.
I thought that was it until later when I was attacked by two men while crossing a passageway because, in my ‘stupid’ mind, I had thought it a nice idea to walk home after the gala given my apartment was only a few blocks away.
“Well, ya look awfully well dressed for this time of night, don’t ya think?” one of the crooks said, looking at his companion.
“Ya” was the ‘intelligent’ answer he got.
“Give us your money and valuables” I knew right away that these weren’t normal thieves, they were probably sent by someone, someone like Mendelson.
“I don’t think so”
They both looked confused at my answer as if they had expected me to just hand them everything I had on me.
“He said we could mess him up a little if need be” one goon ‘whispered’ to the other, taking out a knife from his pocket and advancing on me.
Now I knew my own strength and while I was no wussy, I wasn’t enough to take on two guys with knives coming at me with the intention to maim.
I was preparing myself for a life or death fight when a blur moved and in the wake of it, the two goons were left groaning in pain before passing out.
“We meet again” with the small light tickling from the streets, I was able to make out the face of the stranger from the gala bar.
“I hope you don’t expect a thank you again, I could have handled that on my own” I bit out harshly, more than I should have but my adrenalin was still pumping and I was primed for a fight.
“I know you could have. You’re Tom Riddle after all” his tone was oddly fond for someone I had never met before.
“Do I know you?” I had to ask because I had a niggling feeling in the back of my mind, like a memory trying to present itself.
“Do you?” instead of answering my question, he posed one of his own before leaving me standing there all alone except for the two unconscious bodies of two lowlifes.
That night, after I had cleaned up and got into bed, on the verge of sleep, the memories finally returned to me in an instant.
From the time we met when I was five to my University days and from the times I had seen him unknowingly, he was my secret protector, the person I had wondered about subconsciously, who cleared the way for me.
I couldn’t believe how stupid I had been, not recognizing him.
I was tempted to abandon sleep and find him right away and ask him why he had everything he had for me but sleep claimed me before I could even get out of bed, I was exhausted.
The next morning, I woke up with a single mission, to find him and confront him but before I could, the headline on the television caught my attention;
“London Businessman head of Trafficking Ring?” and right there with it was Mendelson's face staring back at me.
With the epiphany I had last night, it was easy to connect the dots and know exactly who had made this possible.
I couldn’t believe how blind I had been over the years; never noticing what was right in front of me.
I wanted so bad to find who I had dubbed ‘My stranger’ but this new development, I knew I would be busy sorting everything out and buying the rest of Mendelson's empire at a bargain price.
It would be a few months before I saw him again.
I was just getting home after a tiresome day at the office and I wanted nothing more than a shower and to peacefully fall asleep the whole weekend until Monday rolled around again.
I believed myself to be alone in my penthouse which was why I was so comfortable with removing my jacket and shirt.
“Well, I certainly didn’t expect you’d be so excited to see me that you would literally strip for me” the smooth, velvety baritone that had been haunting my dreams for months rang through my apartment.
“If I had known of your visit, I would have certainly chosen better clothes for striping” now if I was a lesser man, I would have panicked but I just sat across from him after switching on the lights.
“My mistake, anyway, I hear you have been looking for me?” he didn’t beat around the bush and went straight to the point.
“Yes, I have been. Who are you?” I don’t beat around the bush either.
“Ah, you’ve finally connected the dots. I was actually losing hope after all this time” the implication that I had a faulty memory was insulting but somehow true when it came to him.
“Yes, I have. You still haven’t answered me. Who are you? And why did you do all that for me?” now I was not an insecure man, I knew what I was worth but nobody in my life had ever done anything for me without expecting something in return.
“Harry Potter, at your service and as for the why, it is simple, really. When I saw you for the first time all those years ago, I knew you were going to do great things and I wanted to help you achieve that ‘greatness’ in any way that I could” he looked totally at ease sitting on my couch.
I knew that wasn’t the entire truth but he was being sincere as far as I could see and I saw no reason to push.
I would get all the answers I needed in due time, for tonight, we talked about inane things before he left with a promise to meet later.
From then on, our lives were more intertwined than before and to no one’s surprise, we became lovers, working side by side and building my…Our empire.
“You know, you never clearly answered me about why you chose me” I murmured into Harry’s chest, drawing shapes with my fingers on his torso.
“If you must know, when I say my pig of a cousin and his friend that day trying to make you afraid you and the way your eyes were so cold, unafraid even though you knew you were most likely to lose and receive severe punishment, I knew you were just like me and I could never let you go”
“Isn’t that a little too possessive for a seven-year-old?”
“Perhaps, but when you are denied everything and you finally find something that you can connect to the way I connected to you that day, letting go isn’t an option” his arms tightened around me as if to prove his point.
“Just so we’re clear, I am not going anywhere and neither are you”
“Who’s the possessive one now?”
“Shut up” I nipped at his shoulder playfully before settling back on his chest, getting comfortable and letting sleep claim me with a smile on my face and my arms around a man I was sure I loved and who loved me just as much.