The Application That Should Have Been Denied
Disclaimer: This is a fanfic based on the Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling. No undue claim nor material profit is intended or expected.
The Application That Should Have Been Denied
or, Tom Riddle's Application Essay
My background has to put it mildly been challenging. I generally try to avoid complaint, as it serves little purpose, but the aim of such essays as these is after all self-promotion and no Slytherin could balk at that. Therefore I beg you to read my words not as complaint but as pride in challenges overcome.
I was raised to the age of eleven in a Muggle orphanage. My mother was a witch of old family; I have no idea what led her to marry the Muggle whose name she gave me after he abandoned her, as for reasons equally obscure to me she remained in the Muggle world just long enough to give birth to me and to die. Still, it was done, and for all her strange choices and his injustice, I have succeeded at Hogwarts -- in Slytherin House, no less -- both academically and personally.
My school record, I believe, speaks for itself -- but for one of the brightest marks on it, the Special Award for Services to the School. I consider that incident to have been the defining moment of my career so far, even above the other accomplishments achieved without even the support I am given to understand some Muggle families provided to their children in other Houses. Not, I will momentarily digress to say, that I blame the orphanage: I cannot say I liked the place or the people, but the limits to their finances and attention were surely unavoidable.
These other achievements provide unadulterated satisfaction, but I am forced to place them secondary to this Award, though pride in it is bitter. They say that I saved the school, finding the culprit in the attacks that had finally killed a girl.
I say that I was partly at fault in the beginning.
I liked the student who was expelled, you see. I was never certain why. Rubeus Hagrid was two years younger than I, a Gryffindor and constantly in trouble -- hardly part of my usual circle, but then, I tried to know all the students of the school at least a little. For all his freakish size and rough manner, however, he was not the bully I confess I had at the orphanage learned to expect the largest boys to be, and at that time there was no malice in him.
I understand that he now despises Slytherins with all his soul, but it could not be helped.
He was given the chance to remain at Hogwarts despite expulsion for two reasons. One, and perhaps also part of the reason I did like him, was that he was also an orphan for all practical purposes -- though it was his mother who deserted him, and his father had died only the previous year. The other is that while he bore responsibility for the attacks, he most assuredly did not intend them. He was reckless and fascinated with dangerous beasts, and the young Acromantula he had hidden away was in his mind a pet, not a monster to set on foes.
Because I knew and liked him, I failed for a while in my duty to seek out what pets I suspected he might have been concealing -- what deadly monsters might be creeping unknowing through the school. He'd been caught with others before, though none of his creatures had previously been of XXXXX classification, and I should have known. The effects of Acromantula venom, however, particularly that of a young specimen, were not well understood according to the books I had read, and so I did not realize what I should have known and done long before until a student had died and her ghost could be heard wailing from the girls' toilets about eyes. And what deadly beast has more eyes than one of the great spiders?
Thus I sought proof at last, found it, and was left with no possible choice but to turn Rubeus in. His punishment was deserved, to be sure -- there can be no excuse for endangering the school as he did, no matter how innocently. Despite that, I cannot but feel some regret in the matter, not only for having come to the right conclusion behind time but also for Rubeus himself.
The greatest lesson of Hogwarts and of Slytherin House in particular, however, is the ordering of priorities. Lower ones must at times be sacrificed, and though it can be painful, the good and the worth of an individual or a few must pale beside principle and the safety of the whole. And this is both the bitterness and the significance of my brightest award.