The Sugar Quill
Author: DarkWitch (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Descent  Chapter: Default
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Descent

DESCENT

 

 

Muggles.  If I could I'd take them all in one of my hands and crush them into dust. 

           

Muggles.  Worthless, incompetent, ignorant, they go about their daily lives like so many ants, their existence meaningless.  Like vermin to be stamped out and eliminated.

 

I can't remember a day I didn't feel this way.  Perhaps there were days, long ago, before I knew what I was.  Perhaps then, I only hated them for their insensitivity.  Their selfishness.  Their utter disregard of others.

 

perhaps

 

but then again, perhaps not

 

Growing up in a Muggle orphanage, I learned early and well that my father had abandoned my mother.  Was there ever a time I was not aware that he was living mere miles away, a time when I did not know that he had left her before I was even born?

 

There may have been such a time.  If so, I can't remember it.  If so, it was such a meaningless fantasy that it is now lost to the ages.  Irrelevant.  Idiotic.

 

perhaps there was a time like that

 

but then again, perhaps not

 

Were there a few pleasant days or months or years when I was oblivious to the fact that he had found something about her so strange and wrong and unforgivable that he abandoned her…and me? 

 

Perhaps there were.  I was, after all, only an infant.  Still, if those days existed once, in a world that was less cold and cruel, I have no memory of them.  So they might as well have never existed, if they ever did.  Whatever effect they might have had on the course of my life is completely irrelevant. 

 

perhaps I wasn't always aware

 

but then again, perhaps not

 

The truth was, and is, that he rejected her.  Immediately and without regret, without punishment for leaving her to die alone.  Without punishment for leaving me to be abandoned.

 

now I know why he did it

 

She was a Witch.  He was a Muggle.  He did not understand her powers.  He might even have feared them.  I am not certain how he felt about her magic.

 

I do not care

 

Certainly, he wanted nothing to do with her, once he knew she was a Witch.  Nothing to do with her, and nothing to do with the child they had both created. 

 

He couldn't possibly have wanted the child.  Am I not proof of that?  When she died, shortly after I was born, he never came for me.  He let me be taken away, swallowed up into the depths of a Muggle orphanage where I never belonged.   Where I was different, consigned to corners and condemned to watch other children being taken home by parents who wanted them. 

 

silly Muggle children, going home with silly Muggle parents

 

parents who wanted those children

 

who wanted me?

 

what do you mean by wanted?

 

Johnson wanted me.  Terrible old Muggle administrator of a terrible old Muggle orphanage in terrible old Little Hangleton.   I was a convenient target.  I was the outcast.  I was the child none of the others wanted to be near.  I was the one around whom strange things happened, who seemed to their pitiful little Muggle minds to be a walking bad-luck charm. 

 

ignorant Muggles

 

little did they know

 

they never dreamed what bad luck I could truly bring them

 

what bad luck I would bring them

 

Johnson wanted me.  I was his mark, the focus of all his pathetic Muggle frustrations, the child who could be shouted at and slapped around without fear of reprisal, or of punishment.  From my earliest memories, Johnson was always there, huge and looming, his ruddy Muggle face deepening to scarlet with rage.  Later, as I got older and my powers got stronger, the rage took on a cast of fear.  He shouted all the louder as part of him recoiled from me.

 

from what I was

 

even I didn't know…

 

not then

 

It was worse after a child had been taken home by a family, Muggles getting into their Muggle cars or buses, Muggles slipping away from a Muggle orphanage into the Muggle world.    Joining the other ants, scurrying from place to place, fading from the view of those who remained in our little isolated orphanage world.  The loss of even the smallest targets made Johnson rage all the more.  The women in the dormitories knew better than to try and placate him.  Stupid Muggles.  Never a thought for anything but their own positions.  We went hungry many times on the nights a child had gone to the Muggles, hungry and dazed by the storm of anger whirling around Johnson and his purpling face.

 

Johnson was ignorant.  He was brutal.  And he was unimaginative.  Interrupted one of his tellings-off?  Locked in a closet.  Spoke without being spoken to?  Locked in a closet.  Forgot your chores?  Locked in a closet.  Defended yourself from the beatings attempted by boys who thought you were a bad-luck outcast?  Locked in a closet.  Failed to defend yourself, and ended in bleeding on the worn wooden floor?  Locked in a closet. 

 

as though being locked in a closet was worse than having to see his stupid Muggle face and hear his stupid Muggle ranting

 

When I was eight, I waited until Johnson was busy stuffing his ugly Muggle face in the dining room, after we were all supposed to be in bed, and sneaked into his office.    He never locked the door.  He thought he had us all too frightened to dare to enter it unless ordered. 

 

stupid Muggle

 

That was when I learned that the snide remarks and cruel taunts of the older boys were true.  My father, Tom Riddle just like me, lived only a few miles away, in a house that I'd seen before on my way to school.  The older boys hadn't been lying.  Johnson's files proved that to me.  It was the only thing that stupid Muggle ever really taught me. 

 

I wasn't here by accident. 

 

I hadn't been good enough, not for the people living in that house.  Small wonder I was stuck in that stupid Muggle orphanage with stupid Muggle Johnson and the rest of them.  I didn't measure up. 

 

Sitting up on a hill, that manor house looked down on the entire village and everything in it.  Including me.  It looked down on me.  When I passed within sight of it the next day, on my way to the little school, I felt it looking down on me.

 

freak

 

mutant

 

monster

 

That house, and the people in it, had looked down on my mother.  Every time I passed it, its taunts seemed to grow louder.  More insistent.   As time went by, its taunts became deafening. 

 

louder 

 

painful

 

true

 

Every time something strange happened around me, I heard the house jeering.  Imagined the people who lived in it pointing at me. 

 

taunting

 

laughing

 

Even as they went about their lives, as good as oblivious to my very existence, eating in fancy Muggle dining rooms with fancy Muggle silver on fancy Muggle plates; even as they drove their expensive Muggle cars and listened to their Muggle radio, they were laughing.

 

I could hear them

 

always laughing

 

The day I made Alistair Margraves' hair turn white after he tried to trip me into a huge mud puddle, I heard them laughing.  The day Johnson tried to slap me and recoiled, howling, as if he'd received an enormous shock, I heard them laughing.  When Johnson finally cornered me and sent me to the closet, slammed the door, and it fell off its hinges in three separate pieces, I heard them laughing.  When someone put ink in my soup, when someone stole my schoolbooks, when someone else poured water over my sheets just before lights-out, I heard them laughing.

 

they always laughed

 

if it was anyone's fault that I hated them, it was their own

 

they shouldn't have laughed

 

The only day I didn't hear them laughing was the day my letter from Hogwarts arrived at the orphanage.  The day a great tawny owl flying through the great room, past dozens of children trying to fill themselves as full of food as possible to stave off the inevitable hunger pangs that arrived during the lunch we never ate.  Most of them didn't notice it, too intent on their food to take their eyes from the table.  My closest neighbor at the table didn't notice, not until the owl landed neatly on the table beside the plate of toast he'd been reaching for.  When he did notice, having grabbed the owl's tail feathers rather than the bread he'd expected, he simply pushed it aside and went on eating.

 

Muggles

 

Who else could ignore something as unusual as an owl delivering a letter during breakfast?  It's no wonder Muggles are as weak and as worthless as they are.  They have no vision.

 

stupid Muggles

 

Inside a month, I was out of the orphanage and on my way to Hogwarts.  Hogwarts, where I learned that my mother had been a Witch.  Where I learned that there were ways of paying back the Muggles who had hurt me.  Where I decided to teach them, once and for all, that they had made a big mistake in treating me the way they had.

 

At Hogwarts, I made friends.  Even before the Sorting, even on the train, I made friends.  I was no longer the outcast, no longer the bad-luck charm.  Because I was no longer among Muggles.  I was a Wizard among other Wizards and Witches.  And then I was a Slytherin, among other Slytherins who shared my ambitions and my cunning, who would understand my plans for the Muggles who had caused me pain.  I wasn't the only one who had suffered.  Not the only one who had been made to feel unworthy or unclean or abnormal.

 

my closest friends were the ones who had been hurt

 

that was no mistake on my part

 

you can use anything under the right circumstances

 

even pain

 

At Hogwarts, it all started to become clear.  There was a way to avenge my mother, to punish my father, to teach Johnson a lesson, to finally win against the bullies that had tormented me at the orphanage.  There was magic in the world, magic these Muggles didn't know about or understand.

 

magic they would never even suspect existed

 

not until it was too late

 

At Hogwarts, I discovered that I had an enormous talent for magic.  I'm not being conceited.  It's true.  Even my worst enemies would acknowledge that, in terms of magical ability, few if any Wizards could touch me.  I read everything I could get my hands on.  It was never enough.  I would no longer be the freak or the outcast.  I would no longer be an indifferent student.  I would make sure that nothing escaped my attention, that there was no branch of magic in which I did not excel.

 

There was so little time, you see, before I would put my plans into action.  There was a lifetime of knowledge I needed to obtain, but so much less than a lifetime in which to gain it.

 

I was a model student.  There was no teacher's question I couldn't answer, no exam answer I couldn't give.  In spite of the disadvantages of living in a Muggle orphanage, in spite of being parentless—my friends made sure that people knew about this and, believe me, the sympathy it got me was priceless—I was one of the best students Hogwarts had ever seen.  So good at schoolwork, so good at spellwork, so brave in view of my upbringing.  No one ever had a better cover than I had, when I was at Hogwarts.  I had no intention of ruining my image by showing my ambition to anyone but my closest friends.  I would not allow my plans to be destroyed by revealing my hand so early in the game.

 

Still, there was someone who seemed to be aware of my strategy from the first.  I suppose not even the most brilliant Wizard can hide his true nature from everyone.  Dumbledore, even before his defeat of Grindelwald, was a force to be reckoned with.  Those blue eyes, which had seen so much of the Wizarding World, seemed to burn through the façade of my innocence.  Seemed to know the truth about me, as the eyes of my father had seen the truth about my mother.   My mother, the Witch.

 

Her son, the Wizard.

 

freak

 

monster

 

Dumbledore seemed to know, without receiving the slightest outward hint, that I was far more than my model-student outward self.

 

in that, as in so much, Dumbledore was right

 

did he know?

 

He was my Transfiguration professor.  I saw him every day, in the Great Hall if not in lessons.  I felt his eyes on me even when he was nowhere near.

 

did my father look at my mother like that?

 

like she might just be planning something unsavory?

 

like she needed watching, because of who she was?

 

like she might be two people caught inside the same body?

 

And my outward behavior became more exemplary even as my secret self became more involved in my plans.  

 

My two sides—the public and the private—became ever more opposed to each other, even as the public side served the private.  It was far too dangerous to be learning the Dark Arts   Far too dangerous to practice them if people would suspect it on meeting me.    So I became excruciatingly good on the outside, while my inner self slid further into darkness.

 

Did he know?  Even after all this time, I am not certain.  It is irrelevant.  He did not try to stop me.  That was his first major mistake.  For all his strength, Dumbledore was foolish when it came to sentiment.  He did not lift a finger to stop me.

 

Even after all this time, he has not stopped me.  He has tried.  He has fought me.  But he has not stopped me.

 

he cannot stop me…

 

did he know?

 

My fifth year at Hogwarts was, in its own way, the best of them all.  My public side had reached its first brilliant peak;  I was made a Slytherin Prefect.  My private side, too, had reached its first peak.  After four years of planning and study, I finally opened the Chamber of Secrets.  No one ever suspected me—me, a Prefect, top student in my year, so squeaky-clean I nearly disgusted myself. 

 

No one ever suspected me—me, whose Muggle father had deserted his mother because she was a Witch, who grew up at the mercy of ignorant and bullying Muggles, whose heart was darker than midnight.

 

no one ever suspected

 

Opening the Chamber was simply the first step in my plans for revenge.  Built by Salazar Slytherin, sealed so that only his heir could open it, the Chamber housed a weapon that fitted in with my plans nicely.  Slytherin had opposed teaching magic to anyone who was unworthy.  That is, anyone who was Muggleborn. 

 

was it any wonder I was Sorted into Slytherin?

 

I had learned of the Chamber in my first year, having read Hogwarts, A History within weeks of arriving at school.  The idea of a weapon which could purge the entire school of Muggleborns intrigued me.  To open the Chamber, though, one would have to be the heir of Slytherin.  Since I had no idea this was even a possibility for me, a Halfblood born of a foul, common Muggle and a Witch, I simply admired the idea of such a weapon. 

 

I never suspected that I could be the heir of Slytherin

 

not then, at any rate

 

I learned as much about the Chamber as I could.  And as my knowledge of the Chamber and of magic grew, as I learned more about Slytherin himself, I decided to try and open the Chamber.  Perhaps, I thought, the 'heir' of Slytherin didn't have to be a true blood heir, but rather someone who thought the way Slytherin had, who held the same principles and who hated Muggles as he had.

 

Imagine my surprise, in my fifth year, when I opened the Chamber only to find that I was, indeed, the heir of Slytherin.  At least in some sense.  I had no Wizarding relatives I could ask.  My friends couldn't tell me whether I was truly Salazar's descendant.

 

Still, I like to think I was.  That I was the only one who could have opened the Chamber and unleashed the Basilisk.

 

the basilisk surpassed my wildest, darkest dreams of a weapon

 

I suppose it surpassed Myrtle's as well

 

When she was found dead, I realized that I had miscalculated.   Hogwarts was the closest thing I had to a home, and my impatience to open the Chamber and begin acting on my long-secret plans had jeopardized it.  I had also endangered all my plans.  There was too much left to learn, and there was nowhere else I could study.

 

The school would be closed.

 

A student had been killed.

 

she was only a filthy little Mudblood

 

Still, I needed the school.  I needed to keep learning, to obtain as much information, to learn as much as I possibly could before leaving.  I couldn't let them shut down the school.  I wouldn’t let them destroy the plans I'd worked so hard to form.

 

I needed a scapegoat.

 

I've always wondered whether Hagrid, that great, stupid half-breed oaf, ever knew what an enormous favor he did me, playing around with that ridiculous Acromantula.  An Acromantula, for Merlin's sake.  Even a Muggle wouldn't have been so stupid.

 

really, I should have thanked him

 

perhaps I'll have the chance some day

 

They believed that Hagrid and the Acromantula were responsible for causing the students' injuries, for causing Myrtle's death.  Hagrid was expelled.  No one knew what happened to the Acromantula.  How they convinced themselves, I'm not sure.  It's irrelevant.  The school stayed open, and no one, not even Dumbledore, suspected me.

 

did he know?

 

After the Ministry had dispensed with the formalities, after Hogwarts was officially allowed to remain open, it was too dangerous to re-open the Chamber.  I could have, at any time.  But I had learned the value of patience.  I never returned to the Chamber.  Dumbledore's bright blue eyes, however, followed me far more closely than I remembered them doing before I'd staged Hagrid's capture and saved the school I'd nearly destroyed.

 

did he watch me more closely than ever?

 

was my imagination simply working overtime?

 

did he know?

 

I was Head Boy in my last year at Hogwarts.  I received an Award for Magical Merit.  It was all I could do not to laugh in Headmaster Dippet's face when he handed me the award.  He was nothing compared to what I was, just a weak old Wizard.  I was young and strong and could have Cursed him into dust with two little words.  There was no one at Hogwarts who could compare to me, who could hold a candle to my power.

 

no one but Dumbledore

 

soon I'd be free of his piercing blue eyes

 

did he know?

 

When I left Hogwarts, it was as Lord Voldemort.  Tom Marvolo Riddle was gone,  never to return.  I went to Little Hangleton.  It was self-indulgent.  I freely admit it.  Still it seemed symbolic, somehow, that my plan would start with destroying the Muggle who had started it all.

 

stupid Muggles

 

No fight in them at all.  Staring like idiots, wide-eyed and dazed, as the spell was spoken.

 

As the green light flashed.

 

Gone.

 

I don't hear their laughter any longer.

 

except

 

in

 

dreams

 

Who's laughing now?

 

dreams

 

Johnson and the bullies from the Little Hangleton orphanage have long since been taken care of.  Other Muggles, chosen at random, have been punished along with them.  They were only the precursor to my rise. 

 

my first rise

 

It was a blow, I freely admit it, when Dumbledore defeated Grindelwald shortly after I took care of things in Little Hangleton.  Grindelwald was then known as the greatest Dark Wizard who ever lived.  He might have been someone to learn from. 

 

like a father

 

He might have been a teacher I could have respected.  He might have been a partner, then a follower.  Or he might have been a partner, then he might have met with an unfortunate accident.  Nothing would stand in my way, once I found my path to power.

 

Nothing.

 

not even Dumbledore

 

those piercing blue eyes

 

did he know?

 

I gained power slowly and steadily, and I found that what I had known all along was true for others as well.  Pain can be used, under the right circumstances. 

 

I used it gladly. 

 

I used it freely.

 

Their screams used to make me smile, loosening the tightness in my chest, easing the memories of other times when the only screams were my own, and the sound they made was unheard except in my head.

 

My laughter replaced the laughter I heard from the filthy Muggles who had bullied me, forgotten about me, abandoned me.  I laughed so loudly that I could not hear the memory-laughter.  The foul, Muggle memory-laughter.

 

except in dreams

 

I was a force to be feared, as I had dreamed of since the day the owl flew into the orphanage so long ago.  Nothing would stand in my way.

 

Even Dark Lords have their blind spots.

 

Mine was Harry Potter.

 

Potter.  How I hate that name.  His parents were irritating enough, defying my wishes, resisting my authority.  I hated James Potter for his pampered pureblood upbringing, for his pathetic nobility in the face of danger, for his love of his wife and son, for his vexing habit of fighting me and my Death Eaters.  Former Head Boy, Auror for the Department, brilliant mind, incredible magical talents—he had everything he needed to outshine them all, to be one of my top deputies. 

 

He threw away the chance like he threw away his life, for a pathetically noble set of principles.  At least Muggles aren't so stupid; they kill each other and betray each other every day.  They, at least, aren't so sickeningly good.  They, at least, wouldn't turn down the chance of nearly unlimited power for the chance to be noble and die.  James Potter and his principles.  The thought of them is enough to make me sick to this day. 

 

The Order of the Phoenix. 

 

Saving the world.

 

Saving Lily and Harry.

 

Self-sacrifice.

 

Love.

 

-lily, take harry and go!  it's him!  go!  run!  I'll hold him off--

 

I killed him first, and I laughed as he died.

 

that's what a father should be

 

Lily Potter was worse.  I had expected better of her.  She'd been better than her husband in school, a Prefect and a Head Girl, was possibly the most powerful Witch I'd ever encountered.  Certainly, she was the best at Charms.  She could have had it all.  She threw it away without a backward glance, all to save a puling little baby whose only outstanding characteristic was an untidy mass of black hair just like his father's.

 

-not harry, not harry, please not harry!!

 

-stand aside, you silly girl…stand aside, now…

 

-not harry, please no, take me, kill me instead—

 not harry, please…have mercy…have mercy...

 

Stupid girl.  Probably came from being born of Muggles.  She could have had the world at her fingertips.  In her case, I would have made an exception to my distaste for Mudbloods.  Her magical abilities would have made up for her parentage in time.

 

-not harry!  not harry!  please—I'll do anything—

 

-stand aside.  stand aside, girl!

 

As though I would have bargained with her, when she was still defying me.  As though a bargain that ended in Harry Potter living and Lily Potter in my power would have accomplished my goal.  She'd known the moment I arrived exactly why I was in Godric's Hollow.  It hadn't been to watch Harry crawl away untouched.

 

of course, Harry didn't die, did he?

 

she died for him

 

she loved him so much she died for him

 

what does that feel like?

 

she saved him

 

she loved him more than her own life

 

she didn't fear death, if her death saved her son

 

what does that feel like?

 

She didn’t have to die.  I told her that.  I could see in her eyes that she believed me.  But the silly little Mudblood just couldn't leave well enough alone.  I killed her, and turned to her child.

 

he was crying

 

his father's yells and his mother's screams had woken him

 

his mother's eyes

 

his father's hair

 

This one, at least, would be easy.  I pointed my wand.  I spoke the words.

 

The green light flashed from my wand and hit the baby, whose tear-filled green eyes were staring at me curiously.

 

The curse rebounded.

 

The world faded to grey, and the concept of easy ceased to exist.

 

Still, he hadn't killed me.  No tiny little child of a Mudblood and a spoiled pureblood Wizard, no matter how powerful they had been, could have killed me.  But he still existed. 

 

He still exists. 

 

He must be destroyed.  The Prophecy demands it.

 

I demand it.

 

can I destroy him?

 

so many attempts, so little success

 

Six times now he has defied me.  Six times, he has defeated me.  He hasn't done it alone, of course.  He has powerful friends and powerful supporters.  Or rather, I have some powerful enemies.  Until now I've been able to use the Ministry's idiocy against him.  Fudge has been one of my greatest tools, an unwitting—and at times, witless—ally.  If he only knew it.

 

idiot of a Wizard

 

might as well be a Muggle, acting the way he does

 

I really should thank him in person

 

perhaps I will

 

soon

 

Dumbledore or no, friends and supporters or no, Ministry or no, Harry Potter must be destroyed.  It doesn't matter how I finally manage it.  It doesn't matter who I have to use, who I have to destroy in the process.

 

All's fair in love and war, after all.

 

I've spent a lifetime working toward my goals. 

 

Potter will try to stand in my way.

 

I will crush him like an insect. 

 

his parents died to save him

 

his father died to save him

 

my father…

 

his mother died to save him

 

my mother…

 

Harry Potter must die.

 

laughter

 

He must die.

 

dreams

 

***

Author notes: The quotes from Voldemort's attack in Godric's Hollow were taken directly from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, ©1999 by J. K. Rowling, only borrowed with the most sincere respect.  I had nothing to do with the original; my imagination was (and remains) wholly insufficient to such a monumental task.  No copyright infringement is intended, and no profit is being made from this work.

 

//
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