Childhood of the Dark Lord

My entry for the 'Battle of the Fandoms Competition'. The story of Tom Marvolo Riddle's childhood.

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4. A New Pet

Mrs Cole sat down at the dining table with the other members of staff once the children were put to bed. The penumbra of the dying candles in the centre of the table barely reached out to warm the faces of those seated there. Instead, the candle cast shadows and patterns across the tired, weary and worn faces that listened slack-jawed to the story Mrs Cole was telling them. None of them could believe that Tom had been caring for the animal, and so shocking was the news that it had given them all a plan.

“So, we’re agreed then?” One greying woman said.

“Indeed.” Another chimed.

After a few more slurps of pursed lips at coffee that had long gone cold after being abandoned through the story telling, one more question was asked.

“That’s all well and good…Yet, what animal do we get?”

Chatter rose from the table immediately. Voices both serious and humorous rose from the midst of the discussion so that none of the staff could hear the creaking of the footsteps that had just approached the slightly ajar door.

Tom crouched down in the shadows of the doorway, his eyes glistening in what little light crept through the doorway. He listened with fervour as they continued talking about what animal they should choose. The choice of rabbit came up frequently but he knew what he really wanted.

Standing up and smoothing down his pyjamas, he opened the door to the room slowly; the rabbit nestled in his arms. The chatter ceased quickly and the faces in the room turned to him nervously. However, he didn’t smirk or glare at them; instead he continued to stroke the rabbit and in a soft voice asked for some water.

Silence ensued after his request, but a few seconds later the sound of a chair scraping back on the tiled floor grated on his ears as a woman seated at the table went and filled a glass with water. As she came to hand it to him she kneeled down before him, and with the patronising smile of an adult who knows nothing of children, she handed him the glass and waited for him to drink.

“Now Tom, how about we take you off to bed. And to get you to sleep we’ll talk about your favourite animal, how about that?” She whispered.

“Snakes are my favourite animal, Miss.” Tom mumbled, faking a yawn.

Even as the woman turned him away from the table to walk him to bed he could hear the whispers of the staff. Turning his head just slightly as he shut the door behind himself, he could see them all nod conspiringly at one another in the darkness and then the door shut.

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