When Tom Riddle searched Dumbledore's office, he never expected to find a memory of his own mother.
Written: May 2, 8:40 to 9:30 PM
Characters: Tom Riddle, Albus Dumbledore
Credit goes to Clairful of fanfiction.net for the idea
That watchdog of a transfiguration professor needs a hobby. His office is packed with complex and expensive magical detection devices and informative tomes. Nothing here seems useless, entertaining, or personal. It’s such a pity he could never be made to see the advantages of power over sentimentality. As it is, Professor Dumbledore ought to invest more time in his own life. Or at least take up scrap-booking.
In one chest behind a long-legged, delicate table I found a single picture, of him and some fellow about the same age, from back when ancient geezers were teenagers. But there are no other photographs, no amusing knick knacks. It doesn’t seem to fit the personality of the man who has watched me since my arrival at Hogwarts; I have cautiously watched back, and he is nothing if not maudlin. While there can be no doubt he has an exceptional memory, capable of remembering moments with the clarity of film, it doesn’t suit him to be without an abnormally thick photo album.
I am certain I have overlooked something, but equally convinced I have turned his rooms and office upside down in my- admittedly hurried, but still thorough- search. It is then that I spot a small cabinet, sandwiched between the wall and a bookcase, sitting innocently in the corner under a stack of papers. It is hardly big enough to contain a thick tome, but its contents could be the most revealing items my impromptu search unearths.
The doors are stuck, but wiggle a bit when I tug at them. A spell, then. I raise my wand, “Alohomora.” Nothing. Not locked, then. That, or locked too well for such a rudimentary spell. I doubt I have the time to work an intricate, involved spell. The only scenario in which I open this cabinet before Dumbledore’s return is if the doors are jammed and I act accordingly. A minor blasting spell seems in order.
“Inundato!” The one door shakily creaks ajar. I can feel a smile creeping up my face; it will probably never again close completely, not without some serious effort on Dumbledore’s part.
I slap back the door, half ready to find some other teaching instrument, but- ah, that solves it. Dumbledore does not own a photo album because he possesses something more appropriate to foolish, mawkish reminiscing: a pensieve. It was perhaps a muggle impulse to jump to a photo album. A tendency I will have to eradicate.
The memory playing out inside the pensieve is difficult to discern; the scene is the echoing dark of midnight. I calculate that I have but five minutes before Dumbledore reappears. Time enough to delve into his mind, into the thoughts he has temporarily abandoned.
I touch a finger tip to the eddying mist, and am drawn into the pensieve mid-memory. As though I have stepped around a wall of glass, and am no longer looking at light’s reflection, I can now see the situation.
A woman is half-lying in the snow, on the steps of an orphanage. A woman I would’ve known, an orphanage I shouldn’t have. I turn from her agony-twisted face, but can still hear her pained cries as she is helped inside. What an ugly, pathetic, abhorrent creature she was, my mother.
Were I in her place, I would have rid myself of the unborn pest that was sapping me of strength. As I watch her stumble into the orphanage from the corner of my eye, I feel a funny feeling well up inside me. Pity? Stupidity. Gratefulness? No… Something of an entirely different nature, but still from that same place in the pit of my stomach. Mirthless laughter.
If only she had been stronger, like her son-! But then, if she had been like me, I would not exist, would I? She’d have killed me before giving me life killed her. So I have her weakness to thank for life. Such twisted irony. Because I live, I cannot help but despise her. Well, she submitted to death’s clutches- what did she expect? For me to love her? Such absurd idiocy. I know I’m sneering as I step away from the closed orphanage door and the imprint she left in the snow as she flailed about like a hooked fish.
I am preparing to step out of the pensieve, flee from the memory that reeks of her wretched cries, when a hand lands on my shoulder. I am startled, but I have been half expecting his arrival the entire time. So I do not jump or spin around, but merely nod.
“Tom,” he whispers. He hopes to help, or at least appear kind, forgiving and trustworthy. But I have no need of help, particularly his brand; I will rid myself of any connection to her and be better for it. I can gain nothing from his dribble about forgiveness and love.
“Though she would never get to know you, she loved you with all her heart.”
Oh, how wrong I was! I do have something to gain from his words! A headache, born of his syrupy sentiments and feeble attempts to evoke sympathy in me for that meaningless existence.
I realize now that he has set this all up. I can see it in the satisfied gleam in his eyes: he knew Avery was merely a distraction, and set up this little trick in order to educate me on love and trust. How big of a fool is he, I must wonder, that he thought such a display of appalling fragility would help make his point? And, how determined is he? He must have visited Mrs. Cole and acquired that memory for just such an occasion. He will no doubt drone for hours now that I have handed him a long anticipated opportunity.
But he says no more as he pulls us from his memory. Perhaps he is more perceptive than I give him credit for, or has given me up for a last cause. More likely, however, he has decided those are the only words he needs. Obtuse old man.
I am swift in my exit from his office, but I can still hear his last muttered words, “They are your parents, Tom. The foundation on which you were built. And if you refuse to acknowledge your father, and deny your mother, what does that make you?”
It makes me many things Professor Dumbledore. More, better, greater. Separate, and above.
One who will eliminate not only muggles and muggles masquerading as wizards, but also the unworthy witches and wizards of the world. Someone who won’t fall prey to your tricks, professor.
It makes me Lord Voldemort.
A/N: Anyone recognize that cabinet? It wasn’t originally even a cabinet, but when Tom broke it, claiming it would never again close completely, I thought “Oh, shoot! People are going to think I’m all mixed up about where Harry first found the pensieve and why it was open.” And then I thought, "Hey, why not?" So that’s why the pensieve cabinet wasn’t closed that day; not only was Dumbledore in a hurry, the cabinet was particularly hard to close. Just another twist of fate for which we can thank Voldemort. ;)
And Dumbledore has a hobby after all: masterminding visual displays for his lectures on love.