The Sugar Quill
Author: Twilight's Dawn  Story: What it Takes  Chapter: Default
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What it Takes

Disclaimer: JKR owns Tom Riddle, and his alter ego Voldemort. And most of the other things I used in this story.

 

   Tom sat on his bed - alone, as usual.

   “Come, Tommy,” said Miss Emmy, “It’s time to go outside and play with the other boys.”

   Tom clutched at his book and gazed resentfully up at the bright-eyed girl.

   She’d lose that soon. They all did. Soon, Miss Emmy would stop calling him ‘Tommy’ (he hated that name), stop trying to draw him out to play with the other children, stop calling herself ‘Emmy.’  Tom had seen it before. He had been at the orphanage longer than anyone, except for Matron Alice. The matron’s aides could – and did – leave when orphanage life became too much for them to deal with.

   Tom had no choice. No one wanted to adopt him, and he knew why. He could hear the whispers that followed him.

   “He doesn’t even try to be like the other children…just sits there by himself all the time.”

   “I wonder what’s wrong with him?”

   “His mother thought she was a witch…”

   “I’d watch out for that one…insanity might run in the family…”

   They just didn’t understand. The other boys didn’t like Tom. They called him mean names and hit him. And the girls, well, the girls just whispered behind his back. But who wanted to play with girls anyhow? Girls were gross. Actually, who wanted to play with anyone? Tom was happier with his books. Books let him pretend to be the hero of whatever story he was reading. They could take him away to places where magic was real and where dragons existed.

   But more than books, Tom loved anagrams. Ordinary words and phrases could spell the oddest things, if you just moved the letters around. Matron Alice, for example, could be rearranged to spell Lice On a Tram, which fit, because Matron Alice was about as big as a tram; and she was constantly spotting lice and making people shave their heads.

   If Tom kept his mind occupied making anagrams and reading books, he didn’t have time to daydream or to pay attention to the other children. His favorite daydream – on the rare occasion that he allowed himself one – was that his mother turned up one day at the orphanage, and explained that she never would have left him there, but she couldn’t come get him for a long time, because she had been kidnapped, and then she told him that she was actually a witch and turned Matron Alice and all the other children into mice and fed them to the snakes that lived in the garden. And then, his mother would hug him and pat him on the head and tell him she loved him, like Tom had seen some of the adoptive parents do.

   But that was just a daydream. And daydreams like that were useless, because they were never going to happen. What Tom needed to focus on was a plan of escape. At some point in his life, there would be a way out of the orphanage. When he got old enough.

   “Tommy! Outside with you, now, and leave that book behind, if you please. Go play tag with the other boys.”

   Tom shuffled out the door and down the gray stairs, watching a tiny ant trying to cover the same distance. After glancing back to make sure Miss Emmy had gone back inside, Tom took up his usual post hiding beside the stairs. The ant was still marching down the stairs. Maybe if they couldn’t see him they wouldn’t pick on him.

   “Well if it isn’t little Tommy,” one of the other boys said. He didn’t know what the boy’s name was; he never tried to remember. He had black hair though.

   “Where’s your book, Tommy?” asked a little girl with glasses, as if reading was the most ridiculous thing she had ever heard of. This was worse than usual, if the girls were in on this today. Tom looked at the ant again. It was off the stairs, now, and walking on its six little legs towards the children.

   “What’s the matter, Tommy, cat got your tongue?” Tom kept staring at the ant.

   “Maybe his witch mother fed his tongue to her cat…you know, her familiar.”

   “Are you a witch too, Tommy? Why don’t you fly away on a broomstick?” If Tom knew the boy’s name he would have made an anagram out of it and made it something stupid. Maybe he would make his own name into something else. Anything but listen to their taunting.

   “Maybe he’s just to stupid to understand that we’re talking to him.”

   “That’s what it looks like to me too.”

   “Maybe if you hit him he’d understand.” That was the glasses girl.

   “Maybe. What is he looking at?” At least black-haired boy hadn’t hit him yet. That was a bonus.

   “I think it’s a bug.” He couldn’t keep track of who was talking any more. He was still watching the ant, as it crawled closer and closer to black-haired boy’s foot, and…

   “Ew, gross. Why’d you squish the bug?” Okay, so no more ants to watch.

   Anagrams. What could he make out of Tom Marvolo Riddle?

   Viola…rat…older…Lord…?

   “I…am…Lord,” he mumbled.

   “What was that, Tommy? Did you say something?”

   “I think he just called himself a Lord.”

   “Aren’t you getting a little stuck up there, Tommy?” Why wouldn’t they just go away? Tom closed his eyes. Go away go away go away.

   “I think someone needs to beat him up so he doesn’t start thinking he’s better than us.” Glasses girl pushed him to the ground.

   Tom huddled in the corner, whispering anagrams to himself. “Tom rvo Rdle…mort for death…de is of…then...olv? Vol? Like flying… Vol… de… mort… flight of death. I… am… Lord… Voldemort…”

   “What is he muttering about now?” Black-haired boy asked, as he picked up a rock.

   A rock. Why were they so much worse today? Go away go away go away. Please. If magic really does exist, make them go away. Please, please, please. Oh, it hurt, why wouldn’t they stop? Please make them stop - someone, anyone. He couldn’t scream, couldn’t cry, because it wouldn’t do any good and they would just hurt him more. Oh please, make them stop.

   Tom cringed, waiting for the next blow to fall…but it didn’t. Instead, he heard a thump, and opened his eyes to see both the black-haired boy and the glasses girl sprawled out on the ground, 10 feet away.

   He looked into their eyes as they backed away. He saw something new that he had never seen when they looked him before.

   Fear.

   Well.

   If that was what it took…

 

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