Not for the first time that morning Tom looked down at the ticket that he held in his hand. It directed him to be on the platform ready to board the train by 10:30 for the departure was at precisely 11:00 and not a moment later. He hurried to push the trolley that held his belongings through the bustling station and was soon standing on the broad expanse of the platform.

He hastened his travel and was soon standing on the platform as he looked up with confusion at the signs which announced the number of the platform. Then he looked down at the ticket that he held to confirm what it said and there was no mistake. He could see the placards for Platforms Nine and Ten, but nowhere did he see a placard for Platform Nine and Three Quarters.

Anger washed over him as he wondered if Dumbledore weren’t playing him for a fool and wanting to see him embarrassed by having to go back to Wool’s Orphanage. He was about to start raging when he heard a familiar voice in his head, or maybe it wasn’t, but he certainly heard it nonetheless. He turned to see a very familiar man standing behind him and smiling that very same smile he had seen in the orphanage.

Somehow, none of the many travelers who were scurrying back and forth on the platform noticed Professor Dumbledore not even when one of them walked right through him without even noticing that he had encountered an obstruction. Tom shook his head as he watched this and was startled when he heard a voice that was in his head, or maybe it wasn’t, but he heard it nonetheless.

Tom, you need to walk directly at the wall that separates Platforms Nine and Ten. You will pass completely through it without harm so you need not fear. Time is of the essence, Tom, the train to Hogwarts leaves precisely at Eleven o’clock.

Fighting up courage, Tom pointed the front of the trolley at the imposing brick arch and then, praying that it would work, pushed the luggage carrier at the wall before him. He gritted his teeth as he waited and braced for a collision, but none occurred and he found himself traveling through a darkness that he had never expected. Moments later the darkness vanished and he found himself standing on a platform very much like the one that he had left with the exception that this train was a brilliant scarlet instead of the dark green that he had seen on the other platform. A glance up at the placard proved that he was at his destination as he read Platform Nine and Three Quarters.

He pushed the trolley closer to the edge of the platform in imitation of another boy and was stunned when the objects on the other child’s trolley simply vanished. Obviously this was nothing to be concerned about for the boy simply walked away without any sign of panic. Tom watched as he stepped through an open door on the side of a passenger car and turned back just as his parcels vanished.

Tom felt a slight pang of anxiety, but shook it off and walked towards the very same car that the other boy had boarded. Before he boarded he took note of the name of the train that was printed in bold letters on a placard that graced the side of the locomotive.

The large letters printed in gold read Hogwarts Express!

The eleven year old boy, who had never seen anything even close to what he was seeing, allowed himself a moment of wonder before walking down a corridor and slipping into a compartment to sit down on a comfortable seat near a window. He had never been on or even near a train and he had no desire to miss anything. Tom was glad that he had purchased brand new clothing that somewhat fit into what the “Muggles” were wearing. He had received none of the strange glances that many of the children whose trolleys had borne cages filled with owls, rats or toads had been given. He had even seen what he thought was a weasel in one of the cages, but had been too shy to ask.

As he looked around the comfortable compartment he was relieved to see his parcels sitting on a rack above the seat and wondered how they had gotten there.

How did they get here? I know that I did not bring them so this must be magic!’

His thoughts were interrupted by several children who entered the compartment and began to take the remaining seats. Their excited chatter told him that perhaps they knew what to expect and where they were going. He was more than a little concerned because he had never heard of Hogwarts before his visit with Professor Dumbledore and had no idea about what was going to occur there.

A sudden jolt by the train brought him out of his thoughts and he looked out through the window that he sat beside to see the gathered crowd on the platform waving at those who were on the train. He felt a bit of jealousy as he considered the fact that he had no one to wave to him! In all of the excitement he had forgotten that he was an orphan and that he had no parents to wave to. He was about to start crying in frustration when he spotted a familiar face that was looking directly at him. Tom smiled as Professor Albus Dumbledore waved at him and the young boy raised his hand to wave back at the wizard.

The train pulled swiftly away from the station and soon London was flying past as they traveled on towards the school that they would call home for the term. The rest of the children in the compartment talked excitedly and the boy felt left out until the other boy in the compartment looked at him and spoke.

“Hi, I’m William Stuart.”

Tom knew that he had to return the courtesy and reached forward to shake the offered hand as he spoke.

“Hi, I’m Tom Riddle.”

Tom began to relax as, one at a time; the girls in the compartment shook his hand and introduced themselves. Before long the group was talking happily together and Tom began to feel as though he could begin to drop the hard exterior that he had developed over the course of his life in Wool’s Orphanage. Just the same he wasn’t prepared for some of the questions that he was asked and didn’t know how to answer many of them.

“Tom, where are you from?” the girl who had introduced herself as Molly Porter asked.  “I’m from Cambridge.”

“I live in London,” he responded swiftly without revealing any further information.

“Do you know what House you want to be sorted into? Me, I want to be sorted into Hufflepuff, I hear that it’s the best one of the four Houses. My Mum and Dad both were in Hufflepuff, that’s where they met.”

“I really don’t know much about being sorted,” he admitted.

“Well, I hear that they make you hold a hot poker and spin in a circle three times before releasing it. Where it lands tells you what House you are sorted into,” William said swiftly.

“That doesn’t sound very pleasant,” Tom responded.

“You have to be ready for pain if you want to be a wizard!”

“Don’t worry, Tom, what I have heard about sorting is nothing like that,” the girl named Lucy chimed in. “I’ve heard that they have four magic balls that you have to juggle until you drop one. The one that you drop first belongs to the House that you are sorted into.”

“You all keep saying that there are four Houses, what are they called?”

“The four Houses of Hogwarts are Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin,” Molly recited. “No one wants to go to Slytherin because it’s the worst and its symbol is a snake,” the girl finished with a shudder.

“Tom, are you a pure-blood?”

“What’s that mean?”

“It means that both of your parents are magical folk, not Muggles,” Lucy answered.

“I never knew my parents; they died when I was a baby. There was a fire in our house and they both died. I grew up in the home of a rich man who took me in.”

“So, you don’t know anything about your parents?”

“No, everything was destroyed in the fire.”

The other children seemed to accept the lies that Tom responded with and he felt grateful that he didn’t have to explain further. It wasn’t long after that that they heard a strange noise coming up the companionway and they looked up to see a treat filled trolley stop at the door to the compartment they occupied.

“Anything from the trolley, dears?”

Tom watched as the other children hurried to pull coins out of their pockets and then hurry forward to claim sweets from the cart. Tom quickly followed suit and stunned all when he handed the witch a gold Galleon for his treats. Once she recovered from her shock, the witch that manned the trolley handed him back his change before moving on to the next compartment.

It was not long before the gentle rocking motion of the train began to lull the children to sleep and Tom soon found himself the only person awake in the compartment. Try as he might, the boy could not sleep and it put it to the excitement of going to a place that he had never imagined he could. No one back in Wool’s Orphanage would have believed that he was going to a school to learn how to perform magic and they would have called him a liar had he told them his destination.

Tom had seen magic performed once by a man on a street corner who would perform magic with cards. He had watched as the man would have someone pick a card from a deck of them, look at it and then place it back into the deck without showing it to the magician. The magician would shuffle the deck of cards and then pick up the top card on the deck to reveal that it was the card that the volunteer had picked. The boy had been astounded by what the man had done and had clapped politely along with everyone else that was standing around the magician. Tom wondered if he was going to learn magic such as that.

What struck him as odd, however, was that not long after the magician had folded up his table and loaded it into his wagon Tom had seen the man talking to the “volunteer” and handing the man some money. This seemed very queer to the boy and he wondered if the person who had helped had just received some of the money that the magician had charged to do a trick. The men had seemed very eager to avoid being seen together and also to dodge the ever present police that often patrolled the area of the markets.

Finally, curiosity got the better of him and he reached up to pull down the box that contained the wand that he had purchased in Ollivander’s. He carefully pulled open the brown paper wrapping before lifting the lid of the box and pulling aside the wrapping that concealed the wand. A quick intake of breath escaped him as he looked at the wand once again and he couldn’t resist lifting it out of its resting place to hold it once again.

The pleasant feeling of warmth flowed up his arm as he grasped the wand and held it up to examine it more closely. The beautifully waxed wood that composed the shaft of the wand seemed to glow with a power all its own and Tom wondered what the old man had meant by it having a core made of a Phoenix feather. What was a Phoenix? Tom had never heard of such a thing, although it was obviously a bird if it had feathers. As he looked at the wand the boy remembered the admonition by Dumbledore about experimenting with his wand before he understood what he was doing. He also remembered what the wizard had said about wrongdoing and the punishment that faced those who failed to adhere to the laws of the magical world.

He carefully replaced the wand in its box and then closed the lid, concealing it from his view. Almost instantly, the paper rewrapped itself around the box perfectly and the tape resealed it. Tom wasn’t surprised by this and stood to place the box back into his stack of parcels. He sat back down and leaned against the window to watch the few things that were visible in the darkness rush past the Hogwarts Express as it hurried through the night. Relaxed finally and secure in the knowledge that he was on his way to a new life, Tom closed his eyes and went to sleep.

He awoke to being shaken gently by William.

“Wake up, Tom, we’ll be at Hogsmeade soon and you want to get into your robes before then. Lucy and Molly are in the next compartment so we have a chance to get changed without them in here.”

Tom hurried to pull down the parcel that contained his robes while William pulled down the shades before starting to change into his own robes. Before long both boys were dressed in the robes that designated them as students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and were seated across from one another talking when the two girls walked back into the compartment.

It was at this point that Tom took a good look at Molly and felt something that he had never felt before. He found that the girl was rather pretty although quite different from him. Where Tom was dark haired and blue-eyed the girl had hair the color of wheat and dark brown eyes; she was lively and always laughing while he was still rather withdrawn and slow to find humor. Still, the girl presented something that he had never considered before and that was an attraction to the opposite gender.

William suddenly straightened in his seat and pointed out through the large window at something in the distance that was growing larger with every passing instant. Tom followed the other boy’s directions and was pleased to see a group of buildings that had appeared from behind some trees. The children became aware of the fact that the train was slowing and that meant that they would soon be stepping off of the train and onto the platform at Hogsmeade Station. Soon, the long platform began to flow by the train as it slowed to a mere crawl before finally stopping in front of a grand stone building that bore a sign stating that they had arrived in Hogsmeade.

Tom followed the lead of the other children as they rose once the train had come to a halt and soon had joined the line of robe-clad students as they hurried to disembark and then step onto the platform. Once he had had a chance to look around at the station, Tom felt a pang of disappointment, this was nowhere near as grand as King’s Cross and far smaller. He was looking around at his surroundings when he felt someone touch his arm. He turned to look into the brown eyes of Molly Porter as she tried to get his attention.

“Come on, Tom, they want all of the first years to go to the boats.”

The girl turned and started towards the shore of the lake, but not before reaching out to take Tom’s hand. The boy felt a warm comfort not unlike the one that he had felt when he had first touched his wand and did not attempt to pull his hand free of hers.

The pair walked down the path towards the lake and soon had caught up with the other first year students as they stood around a tall wizard while they prepared to board small boats. Tom looked across the lake and was stunned at the sight of a large castle that stood on a mountain overlooking the water. Its every window was ablaze with light and those lights, combined with the reflections of the stars and moon overhead made the lake sparkle with what seemed like a million candles.

“First years,” the wizard said quickly, “I am Professor Lands and I shall be your Defense against the Dark Arts instructor. We shall board these boats to travel across the lake before making the climb up to the castle. Please keep your hands within the boats as there are creatures in the water that would see them as delicious morsels.”

Tom stood next to the girl, who had refused to release his hand, while they waited for their turn to climb into a boat. He turned his head to glance at Molly and felt something growing within him that was alien to the boy who had never learned how to get close to anyone.

Is this love?’ he wondered. ‘Does Molly truly like me or am I being taken for a fool?  Will she talk to me or about me with her friends like Amy used to back in the orphanage?’

Molly seemed to sense his uncertainty because she gripped his hand even tighter and moved closer to him. Tom’s heart was beating quickly in his chest and he felt a cold sweat bead on his flesh as the girl leaned over to him and spoke.

“I like you, Tom, I like you a lot! Will you sit with me in the boat? I do not want to be in a boat without you.”

The boy, unprepared for the words that the girl had spoken, nodded numbly and followed the lead that Molly assumed as they climbed into a boat and sat down next to each other. William, who had rather wanted to sit with Tom to continue their conversation, was mildly disappointed but held his tongue as Lucy Butler began to gain his attention.

The children in the small flotilla of boats watched as the castle and the mountain that it sat upon moved ever closer and soon realized that they were approaching a boathouse on the shore. One by one the boats, which had propelled themselves across the lake without the children having to use oars, arrived at the boathouse and allowed the children to climb out and onto the pier that surrounded it. Tom and Molly were soon among the children standing next to the boathouse and Tom suddenly felt very strange.

‘This boathouse, I’ve seen it before and I was not alone. There was another man, tall and dark haired and he was dying while he lay against the windows. It was because of a snake, a very large snake that attacked him and I was standing there watching him die. We had been talking about a wand, arguing about whom it belonged to and he died.’

Tom shook out of his thoughts as Molly began to walk away, his hand still tightly held by hers. As they walked up the long winding path he looked back at the boathouse and the name of the man came to him from somewhere.

The man’s name was Severus!

Many long minutes later they finally were walking through the front doors of the castle and Professor Lands stopped to speak to them.

“Very soon you shall enter the Great Hall of Hogwarts, it is here that you shall eat your meals and have a chance to meet other students. The first order of business, however, is to be sorted into your House. As you may have heard, there are four Houses in Hogwarts. They are Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin and the students within the House that you are sorted into shall be rather like a very large family. You might want to think of the other members of your House as your brothers and sisters because, like a family you can receive reward or punishment depending on your actions. Let us go in now!”

The large doors before them opened and Tom was able to see a huge room, larger than any that he had ever seen before. Candles floated in the air above the four large tables that already were surrounded by other children who were also dressed in robes. Above the scene four large banners displayed the heraldry of the four Houses and he wondered which one he would sit under.

As they walked between the tables the students who were already seated watched as they passed and Tom wondered if the other children in his group were as nervous as he was. Ahead of them, Tom saw a long table where the professors were already seated and he was grateful when he saw Dumbledore among them. He was different somehow, and Tom finally realized that it was because he was wearing robes that were much nicer looking than the outlandish clothes that he had worn when he visited the orphanage.

They came to a stop at the head of the room and, for the first time, Tom noticed a rather ancient looking hat sitting on a stool. He glanced around and saw no sign of a red-hot poker that that they had to grasp or balls for them to juggle and he wondered just what was going to happen. Abruptly, the wizard who was seated in the chair at the center of the table rose and all talk within the chamber ceased.

“Greetings, first years, I wish to welcome you here to Hogwarts. I am Professor Armando Dippet and I serve as the Headmaster of this school. Please understand, and this goes for all students, that the Dark Forest that surrounds our school is not to be entered for any reason. The denizens of that forest are not always the friendliest and I would not want to have any of you meet with a horrible fate.”

The students watched as Professor Dippet returned to his seat and then turned their attention back to Professor Lands who was looking expectantly at the hat that sat on the stool before him. Tom was startled when the hat stirred, opened its mouth to yawn loudly and then began to sing.

Now you stand before me, it’s time for me to muse
Where do you belong, your thoughts are strong, which House for you to choose?

The Houses here they number four, and in time your House you’ll adore.
All through the term you will do your best to get the highest score!

I’ve talked about the Houses and now I’ll give their names.
The one we choose will help you lose or chart your path to fame.

First we start with Gryffindor which above all honors truth.
If you go there, please do not swear, let your inner self show through.

The second House is Hufflepuff, who do not fear their work.
They work from dawn to setting sun, toil they do not shirk.

The trait that comes to Ravenclaw is desireto use your brain.
If in class you dawdle, poor marks will follow, and you have chosen the wrong way to train.

Not to be outdone, Slytherin is the one if you choose to use your guile.
In every deal, prove you are real and give the other your smile.

I really do not wish to bore you but these are things that I must say.
Do your best and pass your tests to swiftly make your name.
This final thing that I must tell you will follow you for quite a while.
If you do wrong, you will not be here long and you’ll walk that dreaded mile.

Its song finished, the hat stopped long enough for the gathered students and staff to clap politely as it bowed its point. Then Professor Lands pulled a long parchment from his robes as he stepped forward and lifted the hat from its place on the stool. He cleared his throat and then spoke to the frightened children before him. Molly tightened the hold that she had on his hand as the professor began to give them their directions.

“When you hear your name please step forward and have a seat on the stool, the Sorting Hat will be placed upon your head and it shall announce to which House you shall go.”

He looked at the parchment again and called the first name, much to the dismay of the child who had hoped not to hear his name so soon.

“William Stuart!”

Tom watched as his friend left where he was standing and slowly stepped up to the stool before sitting down. Nearly instantly, the hat was on his head and, once more, it began to move and speak.

“There is only one place that you will fit, because I remember your father,” the hat said before shouting out William’s destination.


Applause sounded and Tom watched as his friend hurried to the table that had been indicated for him by the hat. The ceremony would seem to drag on as student after student was called forward and sorted into their House. Tom watched as Lucy Butler stepped forward and was sent to Gryffindor, much to the obvious disappointment of William.

There were only a handful remaining as they waited to be sorted and Tom took comfort in the tight grasp that Molly maintained on his hand. Abruptly, however, that grasp loosened as the next name was called.

“Molly Porter!”

Tom reluctantly released the hand of the girl and watched as she ascended the stairs to sit down on the stool. The boy watched as the Sorting Hat was lowered onto the head of the girl and her eyes met his. The decision of the hat was not long in coming.

“You represent another memory from the past because I recall sorting both of your parents! HUFFLEPUFF!”

A broad smile crossed the face of the girl as she rose and hurried to the waiting table where she was greeted by her new Housemates. She looked up at Tom as he turned to watch her with longing. It was then that he heard the name that he had been waiting for.

“Tom Riddle!”

The boy walked slowly from where he had been standing with Molly, as though he was trying to hold onto the memory of their closeness as tightly as she had held onto his hand. A moment later he was sitting on the stool and the hat was being placed on his head.

“You present some conflict and confusion because there is much about you that represents two very different Houses. Each has its merits and you would do equally well in either. I have never in all of these years met such a difficult candidate to sort, but a decision has to be made and I think that I have the best fit for you. SLYTHERIN!”

Tom felt his heart sink into the pit of his stomach as he heard the announcement, but he rose and walked swiftly to the waiting table where he was greeted by the students who were already seated there. As he sat down he looked across the room at Molly and found that she was doing the same, she was looking at him!

The ceremony finally ended and the stool and hat were carried away by Professor Lands before the tables were suddenly filled with an enormous amount of food. Tom was astounded, he had never even dreamt about this much food, let alone actually seen it. As hungry as he was, and although he ate until he was full, Tom felt emptiness as he looked at Molly. She was seated with her back to him, not a conscious choice on her part, and was involved in conversation with her Housemates. From time to time, however, the girl turned to look at him and he wondered if she was thinking the same thing that he was.

‘We are in different Houses, how are we ever going to get a chance to spend time together?’

He sat quietly at the table as he ate, speaking only in answer to questions asked of him, while he continued to watch Molly from a distance. When the time came to leave the Great Hall the pair managed to touch each other’s hand as their lines passed each other only to separate when his line headed for the subterranean home of Slytherin and hers walked towards the home of Hufflepuff.

Once in his dorm room that night, Tom lay in a much more comfortable bed than he had ever experienced before. But this was little comfort for the boy as he lay staring up at the ceiling while the girl played in his mind. He could see her smile and hear her kind words, but most importantly he could feel the touch of her hand against his. He finally drifted off to sleep with visions of the blonde angel filling his dreams.

No one in the castle could have foretold what events had been set in motion, not even Tom, but these events would touch many. For some they would lead to power and riches while others would only experience pain and anguish.

Tom had no idea that he would experience them all.

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