This is a challenge from Writer's Obsession, Story Challenge: Brother Dearest. See their profile or PM them if you want more information on it!
You're A Riddle, Dorothy
Dear Little Brother,
I don't recommend doing it.
(Although I guess that's kinda obvious, eh?)
How do I know this, you ask? Well, it's simple -I died. And it wasn't a quick death, like my neck snapping or head being crushed, or painless like passing on in my sleep. No, my death had been prolonged for months. I signed my own death warrant and it was for a stupid reason to boot.
I died because I was too stupid and stubborn to apply fucking sunscreen, of all things. See, I used to live in California and back then I was obsessed with getting tan and tanner. For years I would spend hours basking in the sun with little to no clothing (to avoid tan lines of course) and I can still remember my Mum saying:
"Olivia, if you don't put on sunscreen now you'll regret it later."
Well, I certainly fucking regretted it later.
I knew of cancer -how could I not? Adds, donations, and stories for it were around every corner. Still, the horrible disease seemed so...Far away, something that always happened to strangers but never touched me or my family personally, that I never thought I would get skin cancer because I spent too much time outside without proper protection.
I was a real fucking idiot.
Though I'll save the angst and heartbreak of my trail and lost fight against cancer for another time. The other thing I wanted to say is this:
Fuck God. Fuck the sun, fuck the fates, fuck both life and death, and fuck you too, little brother.
Can you even try to comprehend the pure and utter panic that consumed me when I realized that I was in the body of a fucking infant? No, no you can't because you're a lucky son of a bitch that won't ever remember the bone deep mortification of shiting yourself and having someone clean it for you every single fucking day! You won't remember how awkward and uncomfortable it is to have a giant tit shoved in your mouth...And then liking it because it stops the raging hunger pains. I'm scarred, I tell you, scarred for life!
And that's not even starting on the bitch that is the teething phase...Or the overwhelming frustration of being so weak that you can't even lift your own goddamn head, and how small and frightening the world is when you can't crawl, walk, talk, and being forced to be completely depended on giants.
So yeah. Fuck God, fuck the sun, fuck the fates, fuck both life and death, and fuck you too, little brother.
The Stranger You Call Sister
May 2nd, 1934.
"Tom Marvolo Riddle, you put that rabbit down this instant!" I demand, hand on hip and pointing down at him with my other.
He scowls, rosy and chubby cheeks puffing up in indignation. Still, he slowly puts the poor animal down and I watch it scurry away. "He hurt you," Tom growls while pointedly looking at my right black eye, referring to yesterday when Billy and I got into a wrestling match.
"And if you remember, I had stomped on his balls quite painfully, too," I narrow my eyes. "The rabbit had nothing to do with it." The little spat all started when Billy called me "freak" and demanded that I move, and when I didn't he pushed me into the nearby mud puddle. I retaliated by snatching his wrist and forcing him to join me, and from there it had escalated until Martha came and forcibly separated us.
Tom crosses his arms. "He lied and got you sent into our room without supper, and locked in for a week. The rabbit might not have anything to do with it directly, however it will serve as a good enough warning."
"And yet, here I am," I retort dryly, outside and in the forest behind Wool's Orphanage. This being possible by Tom long ago stealing us some thick rope, tying it securely to the bed frame, and climbing down the side of the stone wall. It's not the first time one of us had been "grounded" and sneaked off anyways. I doubt it'll be the last.
Tom doesn't look like he's going to move an inch, no matter what I say.
Finally, I sigh and say; "Fine. Scare the shite out of him, if you want, but just leave the innocents out of it. That includes other children, pets and animals," I warn firmly. "And if you don't, know that you'll regret it."
He grins nastily, but concedes nonetheless. I'm sure he won't ever forget what happened last time he went against me -I made sure of it. I love my brother to bits, but I know that if I don't firmly stand up for myself he'll forever walk on top of me.
"Of course, Dorothy."
The next morning Billy Stubbs wakes everyone up shrieking bloody murder, with snakes hissing in his bed. Tom strutes around, utterly pleased with himself, for the rest of the day. I can only roll my eyes.
'Prat,' I think fondly. I say it to his face, too, which earns me another adorable scowl.
August 15th, 1934.
"Mrs Coles is coming, so you might want to change," Tom announces right after closing our bedroom door.
"I thought the inspection was tomorrow?" I look up from my book in confusion.
He simply shrugs. "Apparently not -I just saw her criticizing Mary and Amy's lack of cleanliness."
I sigh and put my book down, hopping off our cheap bed to take off my (technically Tom's) trousers. Being in the thirties, Society is unfortunately very against girls and women wearing trousers instead of skirts and dresses (among many, many other things) and so the only time I get to be "free" is in the safety and privacy of our room. I once tried wear the bints and tossers that reside here in the orphanage down by always wearing boy's clothes, but Mrs. Coles's rod is too wicked and my poor bum complained too much. Tom thinks I'm dotty compared to other girls, too, I know, however he stopped questioning my weird behaviour and personality when I dared him to go struting around in a dress all day.
Prideful and 1920's boy that he is, he blushed and retorted that men do not wear dresses. Those are for girls.
Eh? Men? I don't see no man here -only a little boy that isn't even in the double digits yet!
He sulked and grumbled; "Just wait until we're older -we'll see who's laughing then. Maybe I'll marry you off to some disgusting pig! You'll match perfectly, I'm sure."
That earned the little snot a wet-willy and some noogies until he pleaded for forgiveness. Any man that I may marry in the future is going to have to be several decades ahead of Society, or else I might just suffocate him in his sleep! Demote me to a pretty and dim servant/breeder to my husband, indeed.
I just mange to slip on my boring brown dress when Mrs Coles bristly knocks on our door before entering. Her lips thin and she narrows her judgmental eyes on me, but can't bring out that awful rod of her's since she didn't actually see me wearing the trousers. I'm sure she's mighty disappointed, too.
"Dirty clothes on the floor? Filthy dust on the window and dresser? Floor not swept? Why am I not surprised, Dorothy," Mrs Coles says scathingly.
'Expecting me to do all the cleaning, as the girl, again? Why am I not surprised, you miserable old bat.'
Tom's lips twitch, guessing with good accuracy what I'm thinking.
After a few more dressing downs from Mrs Coles truly, saying that I'll never be adopted with my horrid behaviour and that I'll die a miserable old spinster -and if I do somehow manage to snag a husband, she prays for the poor soul- before huffing and leaving us, though not before threatening no supper if our room isn't sparkling soon.
I pray for my possible and futuristic, sorry sod of a husband as well.
You know, I actually used to like Mrs Coles. The other caretakers, too. They were good at their jobs when Tom and I were babies and toddlers, though things quickly went down hill once we turned six. That's when our magic made itself known, and well, people in this time I find are very superstitious. People naturally fear the unknown, and fear can easily turn into disgust and hatred.
God, I can't wait until Dumbledore burns down our closet and ships us off to Hogwarts. 'Only three more years, now.'
"Well, come on, Tommy. I for one don't want to go hungry tonight," I say resigned and pick up the trousers.
"We can always sneak down at night," he comments, yet still goes to make the bed.
I don't bother replying and we clean in peace.
October 10th, 1934.
'Come on, where is it?'
"What are you looking for, Dorothy?" Tom questions from the doorway.
I stick my head out from in the kitchen cabinet and huff; "My sewing set. I can't find the blasted thing and class is about to begin soon." It'll be the third time this week, too, the last time I found it outside in a tree. This had the rotten Amy and her crew all over it, I know full well, but I ain't fallen so low as to throw the first punch when fighting a child. Bully or not. (Plus it'd be just like her to go crying to the adults afterwards, earning my pale bum or hands a bruising and another week locked up.)
Martha, one of the caretakers and the primarily the one to teach us girls how to sew and knit, won't believe a word against the precious Amy and her crew of spineless prats. Martha is one of the most religious adults here in Wool's Orphanage, and she's been completely convinced that Tom and I are the spawns of Satan ever since Tom first summoned a toy that he couldn't reach. It didn't help matters when she caught me hissing at a snake in the garden when I was six. I'm sure she'll delight in the excuse to punish me.
I'm stewing in the bitterness of my thoughts, and don't notice when Tom leaves without a word, too consumed in my task in finding my stupid sewing set before four o' clock. Two minutes before, Tom finds me again, this time outside searching the bushes.
"Here, I found it under the stairs." He hands me my sewing set with a smug expression.
I beam and hug him. "Thanks, Tommy!" I cheer sincerely. "You're my hero!"
Pleased, Tom accepts my praise and I let go.
"I gotta go -see you after," I tell him before hurrying back inside.
Sewing lessons are usually done in the common room, and everyone else is already there and settled by the time I enter. Well, everyone but Amy that is. I frown, my earlier happiness and gratitude towards Tom being replaced with a tightening of my gut.
'I should have known...'
"So nice of you to join us," Martha, a thirty year old women with a tight black bun and square glasses, drawls. "And I see you've finally came prepared."
"Yes, ma'am," is the only acceptable response.
"Sit down, girl, so that we can-"
"But Amy isn't here yet!" eight year old Mary protests.
Martha frowns, glancing at the crowd of children in front of her. "Does anyone know where she is?" She asks, but cuts me a hard look as if she blames me for this.
'No, but I do have a few ideas.' I don't say anything, though, as Mary is sent to go fetch Amy while Martha begins the lesson for the rest of us. I sit down, behind and out of everyone's way, and work in silence. Mary comes back ten minutes, empty handed. I press my lips tighter and ignore Martha's accessory glare and the other girls' whispers.
"Where do you think she went?"
"I saw her in the toy room last."
"I bet the freaks had something to do with it."
"Shh! She's right there -do you want her brother coming after you too?"
Poor Amy, my arse. Though I won't deny that I'm not a tad worried, myself. Not for her but for Tom. Despite all my effort in the earlier years I've only ever been able to curb Tom's tendencies to be cruel and torment the other residents here in Wool's Orphanage. And, to be perfectly honest, often I can't fault him too terribly.
We may have a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs and food on the table even if it's not always hot, but this orphanage is hell nonetheless. The only one to call us by our names is Mrs. Coles and the Liberian at the local library. According to almost everyone else we're either "Freaky Girl," "Freaky Boy," simply "Freak" or even the "Demonic Twins." When the adults turned on us it prompted the children to follow, and while I couldn't give a flying shite what a group of prats think of me, I don't deny that it doesn't make me mad at the unfair treatment. If anything does wrong people are so quick to blame us, even if we didn't have anything to do with it, and even if we try to tell the truth we're assumed to be filthy liars when pitted against another's word. If people aren't doing their utmost to make sure that they don't touch us -lest they get diseases or cursed- then we're being pushed, punched, and knocked down.
And so it's very difficult to defend someone when you want to hurt them back just as much.
(I understand why Tom always feels so repulsed when having skin-to-skin contact with other people. People other than myself, that is, which I'm very grateful for. I've always made sure to shower him in affection, be it a kiss on the forehead, plenty of hugs, or a reassuring squeeze of his hand, and he's never pulled away from me. Admittedly I find myself taking extra care to avoid bumping into strangers on the streets, and feeling my skin crawl when I fail. I wasn't always like this.)
It's so very easy too see how the vile Voldemort persona is nurtured in my dear brother. Being treated like a normal child until six, and then suddenly having everyone do a complete 180? To be treated and viewed as utter shite for most of your life? It's no brainer how bitterness and resentment can fester until it's all-too consuming.
Although I like to think that I've affected Tom for the better. Even if it's only towards myself only. He's usually very reluctant to ask for any help, instead demanding and even blackmailing in order to get it, but it warms my heart whenever he turns to me for assistance nicely, even if it's something small like opening a jar. And while he's very independent for his age, he doesn't try to overrule me or make my decisions for me.
I know that Tom isn't a normal, emotionally balanced individual. I see it in his eyes -the lack of sympathy and remorse- when it comes to others, and I'm reminded of this fact when he asks me why people are the way they are, or why something so obvious is wrong to do (like butchering a rabbit.) He thinks and views the world differently than everyone else -he's too cold and calculating for a boy his age, although that too can be partly blamed on our environment. I know that my twin brother is either a sociopath or psychopath, though I don't know which one because there is a diffidence between the two, even if it's small.
Still. I can still remember with fondness back when we shared a crib, and he would roll over to steal my body heat during the chilly nights, his chubby little fist clutching my nightclothes tightly and his head on my shoulder or tummy. (We attracted quite a few coos and declarations of adorableness back then.) His first word was my name, too, or at least the managed "Doo." (It was the cutest "Doo" ever and I'll fight anyone who dares to say otherwise.)
Where was I going with this? Oh, right! While Amy's disappearance is a bit worrying, I have faith that it isn't too bad...
-"Here, I found it under the stairs." He hands me my sewing set with a smug expression.-
'He probably just locked her in the cupboard underneath the stairs. And gagged her so that she isn't found too soon by making a racket.' If no one's found her by suppertime then I'll free her myself -after all, she did steal my stuff not once, not twice, but three times in hopes that I'll get punished. A timeout will serve her some good. Reflect on her behaviour and all that shite.
After sewing lessons I scurry away and make my way to Tom and I's bedroom. I remember when Mrs Coles tried to separate us with same-gender roommates when we were four, but Tom threw thee biggest tantrum I've ever seen in both of my lives. You'd think that they were dragging me to the hanging block or something! Eventually after a week of nonstop, wretched screaming, stomping, throwing, and trying to break into each other rooms (because it both tore at my heart and caused it to swell in happiness to see him so miserable with sleeping apart) Mrs Coles finally conceded and allowed us to share a room together instead. Then as we got older, about seven, Mrs Coles tried again for "prosperity" sake. Tom didn't scream and cry this time, but it didn't take his numerous roommates long to become terrified and beg Mrs Coles to switch them out.
And so we share a room, and a bed. The second bed that used to be in there got taken out the same time Mrs Coles conceded defeat for the second time. She says it's because the new addition to the orphanage (at the time) needed it more, but I think she was just trying to be petty. Doesn't bother us, anyways -we're both tiny as fuck so there's plenty of room. Although that will change once we hit puberty and Tom starts growing like a fucking weed...
"Finished already?" Tom comments when I enter, sitting on our bed with a book.
I hum. "Amy didn't show up," I muse, taking off my dress for a shirt and trousers.
"Really? That's odd." Tom still doesn't at me, though I can tell how tightly he's holding the book and his slightly hunched over position.
'He's feeling defensive.' "Don't play dumb with me, Tommy," I stare at him flatly, changed, and plop myself on the bed. "You locked her underneath the stairs, didn't you?"
He puts his book down, scowling. "I'm not going to apologize. She deserved it."
"I agree," I reply while crawling next to him, leaning against the wall. "But I'm still going to let her go if she's still down there by suppertime."
Tom huffs, but doesn't stop me when I put my head on his bony shoulder.
"I love you, Tommy."
"...I love you too, Dorothy. But must you let her go? At least wait until the next morning. You know she's just going to do something different after a few weeks."
"She's a prat, but she's nine," I remind him -and myself as well.
"And we're eight," Tom counters.
"She has a mentality of a four year old. We do not."
He tries to stifle his snort of laughter, but fails miserably.
I grin my shite-eating grin, for it's always a victory to make him snort in amusement.
"Shut up," He nudges me.
"I didn't say anything," I grin wider.
He flicks my forehead. "You didn't have to say anyTHING-! No, Dorothy-"
"Flick me, well you?" I crackle, knocking his book down and sitting on his legs, fingers digging into his sides as he squeals and tried to squirm away.
"Stop, or else I swear I'll-" he gasps in between laughter "-Or I'll get you back twice as hard!"
I snicker and don't stop. "Do you plead?" I ask haughtily, pinning one of his hands down while I tickle him with my other and he attempts to push me away. 'So sensitive~.'
"Yes! Yes! Uncle!" he yelps.
I laugh and roll off of him. He still pushes me off the bed, red faced, and angrily leaves the room while slamming the door. I get up to sit back on the bed, grinning, when a few seconds later he comes back for his book without making eye contact.
"I hate you," he mutters when leaving for the second time.
"Love you too, little bro!" I yell back teasingly. I know he's plotting of how to get back at me, because in a physical fight he knows that I'll always win. (Plus he hates physical fighting to begin with. Something about getting 'dirty.' He much prefers cutting words and blackmail.)
I'm not worried, though, because while he isn't a fully and normal emotionally functioning kid, I know he won't truly try to hurt me like the others. Maybe try to steal my share of supper, depending what's on the menu. Or hide my own library books until I apologize -most likely demanding that I do it on my knees, too.
I snort at the mental image. 'It would certainly appease the prat's large ego.'
I will PM all those that review. And if you're guest then your reply will be posted along with the next chapter.
If you'd like to review, please answer these questions:
1. What do you think of Dorothy, and my take on Tom?
2. Is there anything you wish to see in future chapters?
3. What was your favourite part?
4. What was your least favourite part?
5. Did you see any mistakes?
6. Do you have any questions?