Note; just to be clear, Harry is a twelve year old boy, Tom Riddle was between sixteen and fifteen in his fifth year, when he split his soul to make the diary.
Tom closes his eyes, and the words Harry had written flash before his eyes like lightning bolts, like the scar on his forehard; the shadows of light lingering in his mind. In those oh-so-careless words a puzzle lays; one that Tom intends to solve, and one that endears Harry to Tom.
Tom will never forget those first scattered paragraphs on a page, how telling they are of Harry's character. You can tell much of who a person is by the way they write, and they are so rarely aware of the subtly in the art of reading them. It's why novels have readers, and authors can make a living with words on a page alone. Tom is a master at reading between the lines, so words mean much more to him then some other sorry sot.
Tom had been caught by these words, tangled and snared by them, like they were a web. He has to, wants to – must – get to the heart of who Harry Potter is. Not only is it out of his own terrible curiosity, there is dread necessity in it – this boy, he has killed Voldemort; killed Tom Riddle.
Had killed him….apparently, more then once.
The saving grace of it is that Harry doesn't know or realize (and much never) that Tom Riddle and Voldemort are one in the same, where in Tom becomes Voldemort and is him at the same time – and who would have the nerve to figure it all out? So few did, even from what Tom can remember of his own life – but Dumbledore might know, he was always so suspicious of him, and here at the beginning of the life of Voldemort is Tom. Perhaps with this beginning lays the secret to preventing the same ending, with Harry Potter playing the part of his executioner.
With the flicker of his closed eyelids, he summons those first words again – Harry might never be so careless again. Tom treasures these first words, for the puzzle in them, and something else that Tom does not linger on.
My name is Harry Potter.
I am a wizard; I've a Hogwart's owl letter to prove it. Not much else though, most of my school things are under the floorboard, so my relatives don't see. They don't like magic, and they don't much like me, either. In fact, they tried to run away from the school owls, with me. I think that last part was mostly because they couldn't leave me alone here, and move away, without their actions coming under suspicion by our neighbors.
My relatives are three, my Uncle Vernon, who is three times as big as man should be. Hagrid is the only person I've seen bigger.
Aunt Petunia is tall and thin, I see something of myself in her, though I like to think that's more my mother's blood by their parents then hers. Dudley, my cousin, I used to think it was all his fault, how they treated me, second-best and all that, but now I think it's the other way about, Dudley follows their example. It's because of my parents, they're dead, but they had magic – just like me.
Killed in a car accident, is what I was told when I asked once. Killed by Voldemort, so Hagrid says. I know now to believe Hagrid's words over theirs. It's strange to think all I know from them is so wrong, but then, it's not, because some of their opinions I learned in school were wrong too.
I just finished my first year in Hogwart's and I can say, what they think about magic is just as wrong. It's wonderful, the feelings I get when I use it, when I see it used, when it's all around me in Hogwarts. I live for that now that I'm away from it, the promise of all that magic, it's what keeps me going here, locked away from all that as I am now.
It's the worst thing in the world, living with them; but magic makes it worth it.
So, my first year in Hogwarts, I was sorted into Gryffindor, its emblem is a lion, and its colors are red and gold. My dad's house, Hagrid says, and I wonder sometimes if it was my moms too. I took a train to Hogwart's and that's where I met Ron and Hermione, though I only started to get along with Hermione after Ron and I saved her from the troll in the dungeon that'd gotten into the school Holloween night and tried to go after her in the girls bathroom.
I'm the first first-year Seeker at Hogwarts in a century, all that means is I'm alright on a broom. I love to fly, was just dreaming about it as I was woken up by the owl that gave me this ancient black diary. I don't know why that is, but it might be a gift for my birthday. That's still strange for me to think, let alone write, before Hagrid gave me a cake and took me on a trip through Diagon Alley where I got school supplies including my first wand; I never celebrated my birthday.
I think that's almost unheard of in the wizarding world, they all do it – call me the "Boy Who Lived", because I not only survived Voldemort – I somehow caused him to becomes something worse then a ghost. I saw him like that, all black smog, like something filthy. He was a spirit inside Professor Quirrell manifesting at the back of his head. Quirrell tried to touch me…and he died. I never want something like that to happen again. I killed someone. Two someone's, if you count Voldemort; yet I didn't really do anything at all, its more like – I don't know, I'm the instrument of it? Like whatever it is doesn't work if I'm not involved and Voldemort isn't – or someone who means to kill me.
I could see he wanted to kill me. It wasn't in his eyes, or his sneer, it was just coldness – just, hate for me. Dumbledore says the source of that power, it was love. My mother's love for me protects me. I don't know how to feel, to know I was loved that much once – that I might never be loved so much again. That I don't want to be that loved, to have someone willing to kill for me – to die for me.
Remembering the smell of Quirrell's flesh burning as he touched me, of his screams as he died, burned to ashes and falling apart like he was made of sand; maybe my relatives aren't so wrong about magic being bad – or there is a certain kind of magic, isn't Voldemort called the Dark Lord for a reason?- that is wrong and dangerous.
How can love be so utterly bewilderingly, terrifyingly, wrong? Love is supposed to be good and nurturing, yet it's been used as the power, the drive, behind magic – to kill.
Still, I can not – will not say – that…that I wish my mother had loved me less. That seems disrespectful to her. I've seen her, once – in a mirror that grants the viewer their greatest desire. Her, and…my dad, my family, I think – that one look in the mirror is all I'll ever see of them.
The last look at what might have been.
Its summer now and I await another Hogwart's owl, but I've heard nothing from my friends. So, the question is – are they really my friends after all?
Harry didn't realize until the morning light shown through the threadbare curtains, and he turned to touch Tom's diary, under his thin pillow, that it was his birthday today. His lips quirked as he turned to roll onto his back, diary in hand; he looks up at it, with a sort of tired awe; as if it's something significant – something special – and it is, but it's Tom mostly. He'd had a taste of this feeling before, with Hermione, with Ron – its friendship, a building connection between them, like a bridge to unite them.
Tom, Harry thinks as his fingers skim over the leather skin of the diary.
A small smile plays on his lips.
It isn't just that budding friendship that lets him smile; it's more then that – and less. Here is a friend who can't abandon him, who won't leave – simply because Tom can't, he's a dairy, a memory.
Harry opens the diary to the first page, and there is a familiar drawing of a window. Harry runs his finger over it, and he sees only the ripple of the surface, like a stone tossed in.
Tom is sitting on a couch in a room painted all green and silver, it's strangely dark here – but it isn't damp. It's just like the dungeons of Hogwarts.
"Happy birthday, Harry..." Tom hisses… hisses because he is speaking Parseltongue.
Harry flushes red, and he doesn't know if it's because of embarrassment or anger.
"You…you're a Slytherin!" He accuses, feeling betrayed.
"I was, once, I suppose." Tom agrees, as if it doesn't matter, though he gathers his knees to his chest, as if to present a smaller target – or bid his time in coiling to strike.
"Then, it doesn't matter to you – that I'm Gryffindor?" Harry gets the feeling that Tom is laughing at him, though he is so still and silent that Harry would almost forget that Tom is here if not for Tom watching him unblinkingly. Harry has only ever known one Slytherin – and that's Malfoy.
"I don't see why it should." There is a spark of blood red in Tom's deep brown eyes.
"Oh." Harry says, softly, feeling foolish.
Tom pats the cushion on the couch invitingly, and relived only in that Tom will have something to do with him, Harry obeys the silent request. Tom turns to him; the press of his knees against Harry's thigh is warm and real.
"Tell me then, what do you know of the House of Slytherin that makes you hate it so?" Harry lowers his eyes to the couch, fingers playing and pulling on a thread there.
"Well, I don't, not really, only…only Malfoy's in it, and Ron says only dark wizards and witches come from Slytherin." Harry glances up to Tom, who's never looked older or wiser then him until he sees the playful look in Tom's eyes, and the almost teasing grin.
It's a look Hermione gets, when she's about to correct Ron or he in school work.
"Nonsense, they're children, they can be good or bad like those in another House. It's the traits in them that the Sorting Hat, well, sorts. It's like with Dudley and you, Harry – because his parents treated you rotten, he wanted to please them by bullying you." Harry flinches a little at the comparison, as it hits deep and sharp, but Harry thinks about it instead of reacting, and Tom can't help but be pleased.
He never really thought he had it in him to be a teacher, no matter that he had admired Dumbledore for the skill, and tried to surpass and impress the older wizard as he was growing up. Tom wonders if this feeling is like what Dumbledore felt, this power over impressions – this taste – it rolls through Tom, and he smiles – is still smiling when Harry speaks.
"I never thought of it like that." Thoughts rumble though Harry's eyes like a storm, shadows and lightning, in flashing green eyes.
Tom is very aware that Harry, sitting so closely next to him, is his – and just as powerful as Tom. He's aware as never before, that he must be careful – or risk losing his own sense of self. Something in Tom bulks that that, he's always heeded an instinct for survival, but it's never crawled up his spine like a chill, never like this.
This is dangerous, but Tom presses onward, because he must – because he's damned by his own curiosity.
"You've never needed to, but tell me, does this Ron have red hair?" Harry nods, as Tom suspected he would.
"His last name, is it Weasley?" Harry nods again, and Tom can not help his half-smile.
"Ah, then they are Purebloods." Tom sits and waits, while Harry stirs, staring in the dim light until he determines that Tom isn't going to say anymore until Harry asks.
"What has that to do with anything?" Harry asks softly, frowning. The look is full of suspicion and a curiously twin to Tom's own – Tom wonders what else Harry might have inherited from the lightning bolt curse scar upon his brow.
"Nearly everything, with the old Pureblood families – like yours, and the Weasley and Malfoy boys, they have a history with each other. If you look into those families, they are all related, like mine with yours; and yours with them. History repeats, as is often the case, and so the original feud between the Malfoy and Weasley family lives on even in that rivalry." Tom's eyes don't stray from Harry's face as he speaks, but even as he does, he still sees Harry's fingers playing with a strand, a single thread – and it's as if he pulls on it long enough, everything will unravel. It won't make any better sense Tom knows, if Harry succeeds in pulling free that thread. Like with knowledge, you have to have a lot of it to weave it into something useful.
"What was it, originally that set them against each other?" Harry asks voice soft and echoing.
"Purebloods take only marriage so seriously." Tom winks with an almost playful grin, as if he can't find anything amusing or ridicules as that fact; it's a plainly mocking expression against the serious words. Harry urged on by that look, snickers. It's simply so silly and childish, all that carrying on and posing and being brats – and it's over something like that. Harry doesn't understand it.
It's the first pleased sound he's made all summer, that secret snicker and Harry is surprised by it. The snicker becomes a gasping laugh. If Tom notices how odd something like that should be, he doesn't show it. He grins along, as if pleased by a joke.
Harry lay panting on his side of the couch, gasping for his breath back. Tom stirs, serious suddenly, his expression darkly anxious.
"You'd better go back, you've been inside here long enough – time just doesn't stop when you're here, you're mind, soul – whatever – it leaves your body. Like meditation." Harry doesn't really understand, but he does nod along with what Tom says.
Tom seems reluctant to see Harry go as he brushes his hand over Harry's forehead, soothing the hairs back into place. Harry is surprised by the touch, eyes blinking wide open when he wakes, coming back to his body. He hadn't remembered anything like that from last night, but perhaps he just hadn't remembered, he was tired then, having been woken up in the middle of the night by the owl that had delivered the diary. His eyes are heavy even now, like he's sleepy from being just woken up, but it doesn't stop the warm jolt in his navel.
He's surprised by the tenderness Tom had showed to him, Tom is someone who seems to watch remotely, but that touch – there was nothing distant about it.
Harry had never felt something like it, not really – only Ron's brotherly absent-minded contact had been like that, but with Ron it was almost unthinking, with Tom – Tom knew what he had done, acknowledged it, and expected Harry to figure out what it meant (more then the obvious) for himself.
Another reason to stare wide-eyed and open-mouthed presented itself, yanking his thoughts from the loop centering around Tom like he was gravity.
There was something standing on his chest, it was bent over and thin and shallow skinned. It was almost the size of a cat, and its eyes were wide and green like a cat. Its ears were huge and pointed; the head seemed to wobble as it tilted to regard him.
"W-what are you?" Harry stuttered, and it scampered off and stood upon the floor regarding him. Harry rose to sit, following it's movements as if he would be tested upon them – and maybe he would be, if Harry got to ask Tom about this…
It bowed with an old world elegance, its nose touching the floor, "Master Harry Potter, Dobby be a House Elf."