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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6. More Than Part of a Plan?

It was dinner by the time the staff finally approached Tom as a collective, with both nervous and smug smiles plastered on their faces.  Some of then held their hands clasped tightly behind their backs, others of them wrung their hands together in front of them as Tom turned to look at them from his table in the corner where he sat alone. The other children had gone outside to play and of course Tom had stayed inside.

“Tom, we have something to speak to you about.” Mrs Cole chirped.

With his hands folded neatly in his lap, he swung his legs around the chair to face the crowd in silence. The woman that had walked Tom to bed the other night detached herself from the group and with her arms held out as far in front of her as possible she brought forwards a clear tank. On his first inspection of the tank Tom believed it to be empty bar the sand covering the floor. However, upon looking more closely, Tom saw the flicker of a tongue against the pale colours of the sand. The only possible way for Tom to discern the snake against the colour of the sand was the black markings that lined either side of its body. It was perfect.

He waited patiently as the woman placed it on the table beside him as Mrs Cole began to speak again.

“After seeing how well you’ve taken care of Billy’s rabbit, we felt you might enjoy taking care of your own pet. Of course, if you don’t look after it properly we’ll have to take it away, but you’re a smart boy Tom, I’m sure you won’t let it get to that point.”

Tom’s eyes glittered as she spoke and for the first time in his life, Tom riddle felt something like happiness worm its way into his heart as he stared at his new pet. He had been alone for so long that the idea of a pet had simply been part of a plan to cause more pain and harm to the others around him. He had never actually considered the idea that he might just want the pet as a companion.

He continued to stare lovingly at the snake as the staff tiptoed quietly out of the room and finally after what seemed like hours but in reality had only been a few minutes, he heaved the tank up from the table and began the arduous and slow journey up the stairs to his room.

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