Author's Note: Before you begin this is a spin off of Lily and the Art of Being Sisyphus and if you haven't read some of that you'll lack any context. Also, this is NOT CANON.
There are a few things I should tell you before we start.
First, this isn't the story I would have liked to be telling, it isn't the story I'd like to be living either. I've made my peace with it, I suppose, as much as one can make their peace with something like this, but I don't enjoy it.
If you asked me when I was ten years old, to tell you just what would happen to Tom Marvolo Riddle, I'd tell you that I was going to become emperor of the world. Well, I wouldn't have said it like that, I probably wouldn't have told you at all, but I'd sure as hell be thinking it.
A few months later, when I was eleven years old, emperor would transition into the more magically and Slytherin appropriate dark lord. Let's be honest with ourselves though, it's the same damn thing.
Second, despite the magic, despite my unwavering faith in my own ineffable extraordinariness, I can't say I ever believed in the fantastical. Dumbledore and my first strained meeting had lived up to everything I ever knew, even with the magic. That fantastical awed belief of being whisked away to some strange glittering kingdom, I never had that.
I believed in Tom Riddle and Tom Riddle alone, always had, because I was the one thing that I could ever count on.
Magic didn't change that, or at least, I hadn't expected it to.
Which brings us to my third, opening, point. In the story that I had written for myself, Tom Marvolo Riddle was the unquestioned protagonist. I suppose that's the same for most people, we all imagine our little worlds revolve around us, but I was bound and determined that the world at large should revolve around me too. The world just didn't have the decency of knowing it yet.
It wasn't so much that everything began when I did or would end when I left (if I left) but that everything meaningful had to revolve around me in some way.
Don't pretend you're much better, we all think that way. It's comfortable, to be at the center of our own attention, and downright horrific when we realize that not one person in the world gives a damn. Look at Moaning Myrtle, that's what bloody well broke her, Olive Hornby just rubbed it in a little too deep.
And alright, maybe I believed it a bit more than the rest of you. However, can you blame me? You try growing up in an orphanage where you're smarter, better looking, and more fantastical than every single person you've ever or will ever meet. Compare me to all those protagonists in those fantasy books you end up reading, where the unloved orphan finds out he has a magical lineage and travels on a quest to become king.
Congratulations, his real name is Tom Bloody Marvolo Riddle.
I don't have to justify myself, didn't even cross my mind at the time, that's just the way the world was. Tom Riddle on top, treated like utter shit, and everyone else beneath his notice but trying to pretend that being born with money meant something.
And I was fine with that, more than fine, I'd grown comfortable with it and hadn't even considered that things weren't what they seemed.
The trouble is that I was dead wrong on every single count.
I wasn't the protagonist of the world, not even of my own story, that honor goes to the one and only Eleanor Lily Potter.
Or, as she tends to call herself, Lily.
"Just so you know, I'm sorry I accidentally destroyed the universe, I know that none of you remember it and that even for me it's… fuzzy, but I hope you have a much better time in this one. If not, I don't know, just stick your complaints in this box."
The box was little more than a tin box with a small opening in it the size that could admit an envelope.
The eleven-year-old girl placing the box on Slytherin's table with a depressed thud was Ellie Potter who was looking about as depressing as her little metal box.
She was very striking, even that young, the kind of color combinations that you just didn't see on a real person. Her hair was a vibrant, curling, golden red that was almost as large as she was. Her skin was an eerie pale that put me, the Blacks, Malfoy, and anyone you could point to in the room to shame. Her eyes though, they were the strangest of all, the type of green you only ever saw in glass bottles.
After her speech she immediately sat back down and let her head fall onto the top of the table. She did not, at any point during the welcoming feast, look back up.
And that was how I met Eleanor Lily Potter.
At first, I thought it was some kind of bad joke, wizards turned out to be full of those, but it became clear very quickly that Lily didn't believe in practical jokes. She found them too much of a hindrance, practical jokes were for people who didn't already struggle for everyone in the world to take them seriously.
I believe that Lily doesn't mean to be so… Lily. If she were able, in fact, I believe she'd gleefully allow the world to pass her by. Unlike me, she doesn't want Ellie Potter to be the protagonist of anyone's tale, let alone her own. However, the other thing you have to know about Lily is that she doesn't get what she wants.
Some part of her is so filled with self-loathing that she'll never let herself get away with it.
I didn't notice that at the time then, after all, back then she wasn't even Lily yet.
What I noticed was that first, she really did take that complaint box everywhere (and people even did start writing little notes to blame her for things like their failed Transfiguration homework), and second that she sat next to me in every single class.
Transfiguration, Defense, even Flying Lessons I was somehow thrown next to her each and every time. It didn't even seem to be on purpose, there were no sly looks or encouraging nods to let Tom Riddle make friends with the freak, just as if the universe was somehow skewed to lump us together.
Worse, she was brilliant at everything.
Every single class, utterly effortless, every spell executed with a grace and power that the professors themselves blatantly envied in a second. Then she'd spend the rest of the class either sleeping, doodling all over her textbook, or else just leaving the room without another word. Which, of course, meant she had plenty of detention and lost points for Slytherin.
She was even good at flying the bloody brooms, sweeping up into the air as if she'd been born there, and having Slytherin's captain practically salivating at the idea of having her on the team in the next year.
She was, in a word, perfect.
She was better than Tom Riddle.
Which, of course, just wasn't allowed.
"Potter," this was Abraxas Malfoy.
Malfoy was, in a word, a cad, but he was rich as all hell and the first and only son of the incredibly influential Malfoy family. Which meant, of course, that even eleven-year-old Tom could figure out he was worth knowing.
So, after a month or so, when my mudblood status dimmed somewhat in light of my natural brilliance and hard-won charm, Malfoy and the Blacks started tolerating my presence enough to gossip about the Slytherin's black sheep.
"Thank Merlin she's not the heir," Malfoy said with a sneer, "Not that a woman's been an heir in ages anyway, usually they keep trying until they finally hit a son, but all the same."
"So, you know her then?" I asked, and here Malfoy gave me a particularly unimpressed look.
"Riddle, mudblood, we all know everyone worth knowing. Potters may, historically, be Gryffindors and Puffs, but they're still the Potters."
One day I was going to murder Abraxas Malfoy in cold blood and watch as I forced his grandson to devour his still beating heart.
"Well?" I prompted.
I hated to say it, but along with my ire my curiosity was piqued. I wasn't lying when I said no one had ever measured up to me before, and I didn't like the idea of anyone measuring up now, but at the same time I had to know what exactly had made someone who in any way could rival me.
"She's a certified looney is what she is," Malfoy said, shaking his head then gave me a look, "You know that thing she said, about the universe exploding or whatever the bloody hell it was."
"Not the first time, not even close, she said the same exact thing the first time she met me. Then asked me, to my face, if my looking so much like a ferret was her fault or not and how much I'd like her to recompensate for it."
I didn't laugh, let it be known that I didn't laugh, although once Malfoy said those words they could never be taken back. From that day forward, whenever I look at him, all I see is a giant talking ferret.
"First words out of her mouth to everyone she meets," Malfoy continued, "Sorry I blew up the universe, feel free to complain, even though I'm sure you don't remember because I don't really remember either."
"That's not all of it either," this time Orion Black, future head of the Black family, chimed in, "Aren't you forgetting about Star Wars?"
Malfoy groaned, actually going so far to put his face into his hands, like he could not even bear the possibility that he might see whatever this Star Wars was.
"Star Wars?" I asked, which of course, absolutely delighted Black.
"So it's not even muggle!" Black crowed in delight, "I knew it, didn't I tell you, she just makes all of it up."
I gave him a questioning glance, but he hardly needed it, by the look on Orion's face he'd been dying to tell someone outside of the know for years. Even if that someone happened to be a dirty uppity mudblood.
"She mashes these words together like Star Wars or Blade Runner constantly and starts prattling on about them like they're real things. And she makes up all this muggle magic that can't exist, like these little boxes called televisions with plays trapped inside, or that muggles fly around in these things called planes!"
Somehow, I knew that Orion would not appreciate me telling that airplanes did in fact exist and had for some years now. Besides, it'd just take the wind needlessly out of his sails.
"Forget blowing up reality, she's gone off and made her own, even the muggles wouldn't want to touch it!"
So, there you had it, Ellie Potter, youngest daughter of the Potter family, was clinically insane. However, as the joke says, because she was rich, she was often mellowed out to a mere 'eccentric'.
Somehow though, knowing that Ellie Potter was just as friendless as I was, more so if you could count the likes of Malfoy, Black, and the rest of my Slytherin peers wasn't satisfying to me. It was as if I'd had a premature victory, worse, like the victory wasn't even mine.
The faults of Ellie Potter still belonged to no one but Ellie Potter.
Maybe that was why I did it.
That, or maybe I was intrigued.
Or perhaps it was destiny, I'd like to think that it wasn't but…
But nothing, with Lily, is ever merely coincidence.
I'm getting ahead of myself though, let's skip forward, to Halloween 1937.
Ellie Potter was even more morose than usual on Halloween.
She was always somewhat depressed looking, standing around in a daze and glaring dully at walls as if they'd done her a personal injury. Of course, as always, this didn't interfere with her schoolwork and she was finished with her Transfiguration project before Dumbledore had even finished explaining.
Dumbledore, naturally, had taken ten points from Slytherin for not listening to directions.
That might have been what did it.
It's no small secret that Dumbledore and I don't get on. What most don't realize is the extent and the origins of this. It was almost one of those foretold things, where before we even walked into the same room, we had the idea that we would utterly loathe one another.
And neither of us has let up ever since.
Still, however much I discomfit the man Ellie Potter is a thousand times worse.
I talk to snakes, she turns matchsticks into silver needles without even needing a wand to do it, and unlike his pet Gryffindors she has absolutely no desire to impress or else live up to his expectations.
For all the man claims to like eccentric things, I think it says quite a lot that the pair of them get along about as well as him and me.
Either way, having finished my own work with no reward from Dumbledore (only a solemn, good, before he moved on to praise the next student), I looked over and said, "Did the universe explode again?"
She glanced over, wide eyed, like I'd just gone and slapped her across the cheek. I suppose it might have felt with it, months we'd been sitting next to each other and I'd barely said a word. Still, I gave her a charming smile, the one that was so carefully practiced.
That was one thing I didn't know yet, those looks had no effect on her. It wasn't that she saw through them, as some did, but as if she couldn't see them at all. When Lily looks at you it's as if she's staring through your face, like it's glass, down to your soul. It's why it's so difficult to lie to her.
Finally, she said, "I don't think so."
"Well, how did you know last time?"
She paused, gave me a more appraising look, and the world seemed to melt away for a moment. No, that wasn't right, it was as if it shifted into focus. As if up until that point, before I'd gained her interest and attention, it'd been fogged and only now was it wiped clear.
"Do you know how sometimes, without any explanation, you just know something?" she asked, "Like how to make your heartbeat? It's like that, I just know."
At that point the conversation probably should have been over, but I opened my mouth anyway, "Then what's wrong with Halloween?"
"You're more… you today than usual," I pointed out.
This time, she didn't just look at me, she smiled, "The walls between the worlds are thin on Halloween."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
"It means I remember more, sometimes," she said, and then, brow furrowing, "Have we met somewhere before? Before Hogwarts, I mean."
"You and I," she said, pointing at me, "You look very familiar."
"I doubt it," I said shortly, I couldn't see even someone as eccentric as Ellie Potter running around muggle London near Wools. Certainly, I'd never wandered close enough to wherever the Potter manor was to catch her eye.
It somehow didn't occur to me at the time that she could have met my father and whatever children he might have.
"If you say so."
Her heart wasn't in it.
That was it, that was the grand moment that changed everything. November 1st she was talking to me in every class, about this and that and I… Damn it all, I started listening. She was mad, I gave Abraxas that, but she was a fascinating sort of mad you just kept watching.
Maybe it was, for once, I wasn't merely tolerated. She wanted me, me specifically, and not for any greater reason. That's a very heady feeling.
So, I'll just go ahead and blame it on that.
"Why are you so sure this other world was better?"
This was later.
By this point news of my friendship with Ellie Potter had spread through the school like wildfire. My one, fatal, flaw had been revealed and I was back to being the lowest man on the totem pole in Slytherin.
Well, at least until I'd put the fear of God into them with wandless magic.
Somehow though I just couldn't seem to tear myself away from her. It wasn't even like she followed me but that I just seemed to gravitate towards her.
She calmly explained that this was only natural, as she was unfortunately the center of the universe.
I threw her into the lake.
Either way, we were in the library, me studying and Lily somehow managing to get by without having to read a word of her textbooks. It's like she wasn't reading them out of some sort of principle.
I like to tell myself that she's just overcompensating for her social retardancy.
"I don't know if it was," Lily said, "I mean, I had to have some reason to destroy it, didn't I? But—People don't like change, people don't like things out of their control, and I feel bad having taken it from them with no one even knowing. It's like I robbed the entire galaxy but no one's pressing charges because I stole the charges too."
Lily is always full of these wonderful metaphors. Truly, she is the most profound of poets.
"Here's a thought," I said with a cheery grin, "What if, you've just made all of this up?"
She gave me a very dull and unimpressed look, "That certainly is a thought."
She sighed, crossed her arms, "I suppose for the likes of you it doesn't matter if the world was made five seconds ago or not. You'll just do whatever you like, just like the rest of them."
"I am not like the—"
"In some ways you're exactly like them," she interjected, giving me a cutting look, one that all but dared me to disagree.
Then, completely out of the blue, "By the way, it's not really Ellie."
Conversations with Lily are often like that, here in one moment, gone in the next.
"Ellie's what… It's what the world calls me, but I've never been what the world calls me. My real name, my secret identity if you will, is Lily."
"Secret identity? What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
"Well you know how you want to be this evil dark overlord thing—"
"Dark lord, please, and we don't talk about that."
The last thing I needed was someone overhearing our little conversation about my ambitions to become a dark lord. Especially if that someone was Dumbledore.
"Right, well, when you're him Tom Riddle is going to be your secret identity, the face behind the mask."
"And just why is Ellie Potter a mask then?"
Was she doing anything important enough to require having a whole identity hidden behind it?
"Ellie Potter's always been a mask."
She then smiled to herself, as if she knew the punchline to some grand joke that lowly Tom Riddle just couldn't understand yet, "You'll understand soon enough."
"Sure, I have a feeling."
Lily's just a feeling resulted in a mysterious first year transfer student into Slytherin.
And I say mysterious not only because no one has transferred into Hogwarts in fifty years, but because the boy practically oozed a sense of mystery.
Lepur Rabbitson, son of a magical English diplomat in Albania, who had recently been sent back for his education in England after the local vampires got a little too rowdy. The boy was quiet, pensive, and hands down the most attractive person I'd ever seen in my life.
He had blonde hair so fair you could call it white, deep black pits for eyes to counteract that, and an aristocratic look to his features that screamed of a lineage going back at least a thousand years. This, combined with his dark past and his broodiness, made him positively irresistible to the female half of Hogwarts.
Lily, on seeing him, sprinted out of the Great Hall screaming, her accidental magic lighting the tapestries on fire in her wake.
Naturally, since I was the only one she seemed to remember existed, I had to go find her and talk her back into some semblance of reality.
"You know he's not a Nazi, don't you?" I asked when I found her, feeling the need to bring it up.
The wizards weren't concerned with the trouble in Europe that had been brewing for years now, and I suppose they didn't need to be, for them that was as much a different reality as Lily's forgotten world was.
I suppose it was refreshing that someone besides me was nervous.
"He's much worse than a Nazi," was her only response.
All sense of sympathy I had was gone.
"He's… He's not human, I know he's not human, I think he had some role in it…"
"The end, last time, whatever happened he was involved as much as I was and—"
"And you're going to have to get over that," I said, "Look, I won't be losing points or going to detention, so you are walking back to the Slytherin Common Room and you are getting over the fact that he's in our house."
Her eyes went wide at that, as if she'd forgotten the hat had (after a truly lengthy pause) placed him in Slytherin.
"Christ, he's in our house," she whispered to herself in horror.
That must have been when she had the idea. I imagine it'd been lurking there, in the back of her mind, for some time now, festering just out of sight. However, Lepur Rabbitson's appearance had brought it right to the surface, made it something tangible.
"We can make our own house," it was said in awe, the way a man seeing the face of god might whisper his devotion.
She looked at me, eyes wide and bright even in the dimming light of the afternoon, "We can make our own house."
She grinned, pounced on me and forced me backwards into the wall of the unused classroom she'd hid in, "You hate this place just as much as I do! Why don't we make our own house! Something that's not Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, or even—"
"I like Slytherin!"
"You like lying to yourself," Lily scoffed, "No, this is perfect! No more pureblood heirs, no more points lost for Slytherin—"
That was rich as it was Lily, as always, losing the damn points.
"And definitely no Rabbit!'
By this point I can't say I didn't realize what would happen. There was no talking Lily out of anything it was as if the world simply bent to her whim. We went back and suddenly there was a new table, a new house, Default located on the seventh floor behind the painting of a troll like it had always been there and always had only two first year members. First year members who, by default, were prefects.
And no one said a damn thing, no, no one even blinked.
"I told you," Lily said as she happily resumed the meal she'd abandoned, "This is what it's always like. Last time was like this too, but ten thousand times worse."
Without any sympathy she declared, "You'll get used to it."
I did not get used to it, but on trying and failing to get back to Slytherin I did resign myself to it. Apparently, I was now Default's prefect and going to like it. Default quickly garnered its own reputation.
Gryffindor was for the brave yet brash, Slytherin the ambitious yet backstabbing, Hufflepuff for the loyal yet weak, and Ravenclaw for the intellectual but secluded. Default, in its newly born wonder, was apparently for the goddamn bizarre.
Which of course fit, as I was struck speechless by it somehow existing in the first place.
It was my first alarming glimpse into what Lily meant, when she said the universe had been rewritten, that things weren't the same as they'd once been. It was my first understanding that there were things far beyond my control or power, that Lily herself was one of them.
I didn't like it.
I would like it less later.
Slytherin? Forget Slytherin, Tom Riddle the Slytherin was a thing of the past. No, there is only Tom Riddle, eleven-year-old Default Prefect in prefect meetings alongside Ellie Potter and a non-existent head of house.
I forgot that, didn't I, Default doesn't have a head of house.
No one has any issue with this, no one even brings it up. Except, of course, for Ellie who simply said, "Well, if the universe didn't provide, I guess we don't need one. Say, can you hand me that chocolate frog?"
I guess we don't need one.
I spent the next few weeks trying to convince somebody, anybody, that Default was not a real thing. Looking in Hogwarts: A History, Default was suddenly listed among the other four houses as if it had always existed, even when a Default founder was absent. Everything was the same, except, Default was real.
And Lily had seemed to make it happen without even trying.
That was when I started wondering what the hell she even was. Was she really just an eleven-year-old witch? It didn't seem likely, after that, more that she was a changeling inserted into the Potter home. That, or perhaps she was an alien, something truly out of this world. Whatever she was, she wasn't like the rest of them, not in the slightest.
And she didn't even care.
"Oh, I've always been out of time and place," Lily said, cutting into her second slice of treacle tart for breakfast, "Though you're the first one to point it out. Congratulations, Tom, I guess that really does make you cleverer than most."
I would not rise to that bait, I would not.
"Doesn't it bother you?" I asked between bites of toast, that was the one nice thing about Lily, I never had to stand on any sort of ceremony, "What do your brothers think?"
"Charlus and Fleamont?" Lily asked with raised eyebrows, "They don't think shit."
At my dubious expression she expanded drily, lifting a lock of damningly red hair, "They don't even wonder where the hair came from."
Sadly, up until that point, I hadn't either. How the youngest Potter daughter, with two dark haired parents, could have ended up with bright red hair. That… Well, it certainly led one to believe Ellie Potter was not, in fact, a Potter at all.
"Nope," Lily said with a sigh, "Nobody really thinks anything about anything, or at least not about me, we all just move along I suppose. Must be easier that way or something."
Then she grinned, looking over at me, "Except for you. I didn't mean it, by the way, when I said you were like the rest. You're… You're different, you always have been."
She stood, slammed her hands on the table, and said, "Hey, what do you say we skip classes and try to find the Chamber of Secrets instead?"
I should have said no, I thought very hard about saying no…
That's the trouble with Lily, it's almost impossible to say no.
So instead of going to Potions I was whisked away down into the girl's dungeon lavatory where, inconceivably, we stumbled on the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets, had to kill Slytherin's basilisk with the sword of Gryffindor, and ended up crawling out through the pipes and bursting through the ceiling just in time for Defense.
Instead of being expelled or even earning detention, Lily and I were presented with medals and earned enough points to earn us the house cup even without a quidditch team.
And no one even blinked.
By this point you're probably wondering just is wrong with Lily or at least with Hogwarts.
For most of the year, that first year, even in Default I didn't know. Lily, if she knew, wasn't telling me or at least in so many words. Certainly, she hinted at it often and looked to see my reaction, but she would never outright say it.
No, that took Rabbitson.
One day, not long after the basilisk incident, he showed up on our doorstep with his cold black eyes. Lily, for once, was actually out attempting to do her homework (but had all too likely been caught up in some battle of life or death in the Forbidden Forest that I would hear all about later). Which left me alone in the common room.
"Rabbitson," I said somewhat surprised, "What are you doing here?"
Lily claimed the boy had no human soul, no drive, no ambition, nothing but a chasm dressed in the shape of man. I wasn't sure I agreed with all of that but he was… quiet. He barely spoke even when spoken to, hardly seemed to take any space at all, and mostly just sat or stood where he was told.
In other words, he was about as exciting as your common potato.
He looked me dead in the eye, not even a flicker of expression in them, and said, "You do not remember what you are."
"She made the world again, made the world for you, brought you and you alone into it, and you do not remember."
It felt almost like an accusation, no it was one, but whatever he was accusing me of was unspoken.
"Thank you, Rabbitson," I said with a strained smile, meaning to slam the door in his face.
The boy spoke before I could do it, "Hasn't she shown her hand to you more than once?"
The she, of course, didn't need to be stated. The she never needed to be stated, there was only one person in the world the boy could be talking about, somehow knowing what I knew. I had asked him before, I had asked everyone, but he hadn't even blinked at the idea of Default never existing or the inconceivability of the Chamber being found in the girl's loo.
"You never could admit it, even in the old world, when it was made so plain to you."
I don't know if it was how he said it, but suddenly, it was as if I could see it. This other world, where I was older, much older, more powerful, and so close to everything I had ever wanted. Except, as always, she was there as well and outshining me like the sun.
"You railed against it, destroyed your petty kingdom, and forced her hand. And still, as always, she chose you and your dreams."
Finally, the boy made the first and only human expression I have seen on his face. He sneered, his lips twisted unnaturally and forced his beautiful features into something grotesque.
"I came to tell you your place, Tom Marvolo Riddle, so that this time, perhaps, you will not forget yourself."
Then the grimace was gone, the expressionless returned as he spun on his heel and said, "Of course, you always do."
I wish I could say that I wasn't convinced by that. Default, however, and other things convinced me before Rabbit ever could. More, there was what Lily herself said, remembered of this other world that we'd at one point both inhabited.
Whatever she says, the truth is, that I was at the heart of that world's destruction.
But she'll never allow herself to remember that.
And in turn, I must remember that Voldemort, whatever I make of him, will only ever be the morning star. Something brilliantly trying to outshine the sun and failing miserably for it. Even a world designed for him can't make him surpass her.
And yet, sometimes, I can't say I care.
Because that Tom certainly wouldn't have become a Nazi wizard hunting archeologist and Hogwarts graduate by the age of fifteen.
Author's Note: A short "Haruhi Suzumiya" fusion prompted by PirateQueen367, because for all of Lily's powers and SOS brigading in the form of Default, Tom is the one that's far more unstable.
Thanks for reading, reviews are appreciated.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or Haruhi Suzumiya