A Field of Forget-Me-Nots
Oni: Hello all! This is a one-shot set when Tom is in his coma in Come Together during Chapter 15, so this might not make sense if you haven't read it. You'll see what happens outside of Tom's coma dream during the Dumbledore interlude in CT. Otherwise, enjoy!
Tom: Oni does not own Harry Potter or the MCU.
Oni: AAAAAND ONWARDS!
According to the Victorian Flower Language, Forget Me Nots represent remembrance and are a symbol of true love. They have round petals arranged quite like a five-point star. Most of the time these petals are blue, but some can be white. They are poisonous if ingested, but it is said that topically they are a remedy for respiratory problems. For obvious reasons, they are popular flowers to decorate at gravesites.
It was a small thing, the seedling in his hands. Wrapped safely in its meagre mound of dirt, Tom thought it looked so fragile even in his own tiny palms. He didn't know what flower it would grow into. None of the orphans knew. Much like how they were, in a way. All of them young, all of them with their futures uncertain.
The donor who gave Wool's Orphanage these sprouts was a florist who had taken pity on them. Tom didn't know much more than that. Each child had thanked the man, taught to say words with a name despite not entirely understanding the concept. Still, holding the plant now in his hands felt precious. Really, it was the only thing Tom felt he truly owned relatively new. His clothes, shoes, and even room was a kind of hand-me-down, but not this. This was his little plant and he was going to make sure it grew up strong and beautiful.
While the other children excitedly toddled around the front of the Orphanage, Tom Marvolo Riddle instead snuck around the back. After a few moments of scouring the ground for a good place to put the seedling, he finally found a corner tucked away from sight. It was a lonely little corner, but Tom somehow knew that enough sun would reach there. Careful hands dug at the moist soil, the scent of stale earth becoming rich as something pulsed from within him into the dirt.
Soon the seeding was snug in its new spot, though still frail in the wind that still carried the last traces of winter. Happy with its position, Tom stood up. Dirt was brushed from his ragged clothes as the little boy ran off to get the beaten watering can the other children were most likely fighting over.
(His core is completely empty, he might not make it for much longer...)
The blooms were beautiful. Tiny blue petals poked out from beneath the green, painting the lonely corner with vibrant color. Thin fingers brushed the flowers, fragile still in this spring weather. In the distance, laughter from the other children echoed, as if they were far away. Dark eyebrows furrowed. He had seen this flower before. Forget-Me-Nots, his mind answered, So that you never forget, or be forgotten. Yes. That's what they were called.
Water splashed onto the delicate petals, the drops large compared to the tiny blooms. Surprised, Tom blinked a few times, wondering where it had come from. A sensation trailed down his cheeks. Warm. Heavy with something he couldn't explain. Fingers came up to his face and found wetness. Tears. Why was he crying? He had no reason to cry.
Because you have forgotten, his mind replied.
Forgotten what? He had a perfectly good memory thank-you-very-much, perhaps a better one than most of his peers! What could he have possibly forgotten that would reduce him to such sniveling? It wasn't like he had any friends or family to remember, not properly anyway. Hadn't his mother died hours after bringing him into this world? A world that despised his unnaturalness and shunned his oddities?
All he knew was Wool's. He was born here and he lived here. They weren't allowed outside much. The flowers had been the first real joy any of them had experienced. What was there to remember to forget?
Shaking his head he returned inside, petting the petals once more. With his back turned he wasn't able to notice when another leaf pushed up from the soil.
(Bucky's gone. Steve's gone. I'm not gonna lose the kid too.)
Flashes of faces flickered across his vision. Blue eyes with green specks, grey eyes that had lit up with mirth, brown ones that were intelligent and courageous. Smiling, laughing, crying. They appeared to be adults, and yet he felt an intimate closeness to each of them as if they were... family. From them he felt care, joy, worry.
Sometimes the flashes weren't faces. Sometimes they were of bright sparks and whispered words that didn't sound like English. Something they were of explosions and the smell of gunpowder. Once, he even experienced a flash of clothing being held in his hands, with a golden wing symbol stitched on the shoulders. It had looked very important, and for some reason it made tears fall when he saw it.
It hurt his head when the flashes came. The pain was an ache that seemed to go deeper than his skull, pulsing down into his chest where he felt a sort of hollow emptiness. At night the flashes were so vivid they plagued him in the place of dreams.
Two more forget-me-nots had sprouted from the ground, flanking Tom's original plant on each side. Each one happily soaked up the summer sun. Their colors were vibrant, and the grey corner looked even less lonely. Shifting blue eyes narrowed in confusion. One had petals of a much darker shade of blue, while the other also had petals of red and white. That didn't look right. There had only ever been one plant, and certainly not in these colors!
And yet, they felt perfectly natural to be there, as if that was how it was supposed to be. When Tom looked at them, faces and voices bombarded his mind. He didn't know why he kept wanting to look or why his chest seemed to fill with something that wasn't the emptiness he got used to feeling. His fingers brushed the petals and all he could feel was a sense of joy and camaraderie to people he couldn't remember.
Unbeknownst to the boy, the sky suddenly flashed the same shifting blue as the boy's eyes. Blue like a cube with infinite power, blue like the purest of magic, blue like the first forget-me-not.
(He's awake! Tom! Tom are you alright? What's wrong with him?)
Tom Marvolo Riddle awoke sluggishly, rubbing away the last vestiges of his dream.
Recently they all had a similar theme. His body was heavy, too heavy to really move from the cot he laid in. His vision was like that of a fogged up looking glass and the sounds around him were muffled to the point where he couldn't distinguish any real words. The voices in his dreams sounded frantic, sad, and sometimes kind and gentle. Sometimes he could hear when his name was being called and he struggled to turn his head toward the speaker. The voices seemed very happy when he did that.
It didn't help that he felt he knew those voices. Knew them in his heart and soul. Knew that they were hurting because he wouldn't wake up. As if his dreams were the reality and this reality was simply a dream. If so then he couldn't wake up. Not yet. He didn't remember enough to go back to those people with the kind voices and their soothing tones of care and compassion. But you will, his mind assured, you will because you love them.
The forget-me-nots gathered in the corner that was no longer lonely. A garden of them now sat swaying in the autumn wind, some with odd colorings on their petals and leaves. Each of them was strikingly unique, the grey brick a dull backdrop to a beautiful canvas of flora. They grew around the first sprout as if they were protecting it or giving it a hug. For some reason seeing that gave him a warm feeling, the voices of his dreams loud and clear as he stared at them.
To distinguish each of them in his mind, Tom had given them names. The one at the center was 'Tom', the one with the darker blue petals was 'Bucky', and the one with the two red and white petals was 'Steve'. Two more had joined soon after, one with royal blue petals and a single red one called 'Peggy' and one of greyish white named 'Howard'. Around them sat 'Dum Dum', 'Gabe', 'Falsy', 'Jim', and 'Dernier'. 'Phillips', 'Nobby', 'Monty', and 'Feemie' had joined recently and were slightly farther than the others. Still, each one of them felt familar as he brushed his fingers over them; gently because there was still something painfully fragile about them.
Tears fell from his face, but it was alright. Someone had once told him that it was alright to cry, that it was not a weakness to be snuffed out. Tom was with friends here - with family here. And that was all that mattered for now.
(This is common for those who suffer from the Cruciatus Curse for long periods of time, Agent Carter, Mr. Stark. There has never been a case where they come back into lucidity.)
He should have known that the other children would get jealous. All of their flowers had died in the winter cold, the snow snuffing out their lives like one would a waning candle. However, defying all reason, his little garden of forget-me-nots thrived. The snow around them did not detract from their colors. On the contrary, the white of the ground made everything more vibrant. His magic had kept them alive.
The other orphans had found his little garden. With how they stood out from the monotone greyscale of everything else, it was inevitable. They had trampled on his beloved blooms. Destroyed what was his like the cold had destroyed what was theirs. It didn't make the action any less cruel or hate-fueled, or the sight any less painful.
Small fingers trembled only slightly as they shifted their way through the damage. None of the plants had survived the attack. The ice that had once been a beautiful backdrop had become the grim graveyard of his garden, petals scattered and stalks trampled.
Only three flowers from the original plant were intact. They had somehow miraculously survived the damage. Tom had found them tucked into the darkness of the once-more lonely corner. Careful hands picked them up and gently placed them in his pocket for safekeeping.
What to do now? The flowers he found might grow and flourish if planted, but it couldn't be here. It would be folly to plant them in a place where they could be destroyed again. Nodding to himself in determination, little Tom Riddle set out to find a new spot for his flowers - preferably one far away from Wool's where none of the children could hurt them. Small feet carried him past the grey building, past the barren front yard, past the iron gates.
The boy did not realize that the building he knew and despised disappeared into the white nothingness as soon as he left it.
(Please come back, Tom.)
Tom Marvolo Riddle was lost. The street-lamps above him were wrong. The buildings around him were wrong. The people pushing past him all spoke oddly. This didn't feel like London, the place he was born and raised. Where had he wandered? How did he get here? His small frame shivered, but not from cold. Tears threatened to spill from his face, but he refused to cry. Not out here. He was alone here.
"Hey! Are you lost, little buddy?"
The voice echoed throughout the alleyway he had ducked in, a lonely corner in a place he didn't know. Wide eyes of shifting blue met worried eyes of blue with green specks. The boy who approached him was just a little bit taller than him, with blond hair and a sickly thin frame. He spoke in the same strange way that the other people in this place did. Dark eyebrows furrowed. He'd met this boy before. He was sure of it. Perhaps it was due to this familiarity that caused Tom to swallow his pride.
"Yes. I'm trying to make my way back to London."
Another figure, much taller then the boy in front of Tom, came from around the corner. This one was stronger built, but had kind eyes that Tom was sure he knew well. Both newcomers had incredulous looks in their faces.
"I don't know how to break it to ya kid, but you're in Brooklyn. New York." the taller boy stated in a painfully familiar voice.
Tom couldn't quite find the words to reply to that statement. It made no sense, yet all the sense in the world. Yes, Brooklyn. The home of.. of...
"Baseball games, hotdog stands, Coney Island... I mean it's busy, sure, but it's home, ya know? After all this is over we'll take you there and show ya!"
The older boy's voice echoed in his mind, even though the same person in front of him wasn't saying anything. Actually, the taller boy's brows were furrowed together, as if trying to figure out a difficult puzzle. Next to him the shorter one's eyes narrowed for what seemed to be the same reason. How interesting. Both boys shuffled under Tom's gaze.
"Um... I'm Steve." the smaller boy eventually mumbled out before motioning to the taller boy, "This is Bucky."
With that, Tom began to understand. He did know these people. And they knew him, except like him they had forgotten. A smile spread on his face.
"I'm Tom Riddle."
And with that, their expressions too changed into recognition.
(I'm not going to give up on you.)
Around them was emptiness. A vast expanse of flat soil stretched far out in all directions. The sky above did little to tell what time of day it was, but Tom had a feeling that this was the point of it. He stood in his Howling Commando uniform, now a man. On each side of him stood Steve and Bucky, both in their own uniforms (though Steve had thankfully forgone that ridiculous Captain America mask) with one hand clamped on each shoulder.
They all understood their mission here.
Taking out one of the flowers in his pocket, Tom let the tiny forget-me-not flutter to the ground. Immediately it took root, sprouting from the soil as if it had been planted there. Within seconds more popped out of the ground, covering the brown soil with green leaves and tiny blue flowers. Soon it almost looked as if sky and ground were one, as the ground went as far as the eye could see.
In the field of forget-me-nots, the endless garden of his memories, Tom Riddle smiled sadly. Thin fingers reached into his pocket once more, fishing out the other two stalks and turning around to hand them to the men he called his brothers.
"What's this for?" Bucky snorted with a smirk, though his grip was gentle enough not to crush it, "There's plenty to go around!"
"For you." Tom replied, his eyes never leaving their forms, "So that even if you forget, you'll always find your way home."
"You'll take care of everyone until we get back, right?" asked Steve, giant fingers holding the stalk carefully, understanding its fragility, "They'll need you until then."
"I will, I promise."
Moments that stretch to eternity pass before Tom quietly voices his own question.
"Will you stay with me until I go?"
The answer was in unison.
"Til the end of the line."
And the world became white.
Blue eyes fluttered open, lucid and bright. Sounds were clear again. Sharp. Sounds of beeping machinery and the shuffling of feet told him he was in the med bay. How did he get here? What was the last thing he remembered?
Ah yes. How could he forget almost dying? And getting Crucioed. Twice. Bloody hell that had hurt.
His gaze went to the side of the bed, where Peggy was sitting, dozing off. Her eyes were slightly bagged and her cheeks a tad puffy, but the woman still held her air of regality. Pacing back and forth, muttering to himself, was Howard. He too appeared exhausted and entirely too wound up on caffeine.
"Care to tell me how long I was out for?" he managed to croak out.
The effect was immediate. Both heads shot up and turned to him, alarmed. Their eyes were wide as he gave them a crooked smile. Before he could follow up with a retort about their reactions, he was suddenly getting the life squeezed out of him by the both of them. Somehow he managed to circle his own arms around them, though it felt a tad awkward.
A splash of color caught his eye, and Tom turned his head to the side. There, in a small glass on the table, were tiny stalks of forget-me-not flowers. A smile bloomed on his face.
They really did lead him home after all.
Oni: That's all, folks!
Tom: Please Favourite and Review.
Oni: And I'll see you around, My Pretties!