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Despite his anticipation of the trip back to school and near frenzy about the slow passage of time, Tom had been forced to endure the final days before he departed for break. The evening before he left for Hogwarts he carefully packed his traveling bag, secreting the bag that held everything important within one of his nearly threadbare socks. Breakfast the next morning had gone dreadfully slow and the ride in the automobile provided for the trip even slower. Normally, before he had learned about Hogwarts and all that it offered, he would have looked forward to a ride in an automobile, but now it seemed incredibly slow and it was with great relief that he saw King’s Cross Station finally appear before them.

Once the vehicle came to a stop, despite his eagerness to leave it before it stopped moving, Tom rushed to gather his bag and make for the station. Mrs. Cole was aggravated that she had had to drive, which was something that she hated to do, and watched as the boy vanished into the crowd before putting the car back into gear and driving away. Tom was someone else’s problem now, she thought, he would not be her concern until he journeyed back to the orphanage at Christmas.

The crowd within the station was larger than normal and Tom was forced to hang tightly onto his bag. It had nearly been torn from his grasp several times when other travelers had brushed against him in the rush to get to where they needed to be. He finally arrived at the place that he needed to be and glanced up at a clock that hung in his view. The boy breathed a sigh of relief as he realized that he still had nearly a half an hour before the Hogwarts Express left the platform. The crowd of Muggles that could see him prevented his use of the portal to get onto Platform Nine and three quarters and this worried him. Would they stay there watching him until he was tardy getting onto the platform that he needed? The Hogwarts Express departed promptly at Eleven o’clock and not a moment later. Those who were late getting to the train had to find another way to the school or spend the first half of the term at home.

He glanced again at the clock and didn’t notice the filthy, rather ragged, man who watched the bag that the boy carried with interest. The boy was distracted by a clock that everyone knew didn’t work properly and was never right. Inching closer to the boy, he noticed that the grip that the child had on the handle was not a tight one and this presented an opportunity. Gauging his chances and seeing no officers about, he suddenly rushed forward and seized the bag from the child before racing away through the crowd.

Tom cried out in alarm as his bag was suddenly ripped away from him. It wasn’t the bag that he was concerned about; it was his future that was of concern. Without the ticket and supplies that it accompanied, he couldn’t get to Hogwarts. With nothing else to do, he raced after the man, wailing like a banshee for him to stop and return what he had taken. Not overly curious passersby ignored the child’s pleas for the thief to stop as they had their own train to catch or schedule to keep. Tom tried to keep the man in sight and watched as he suddenly made an abrupt turn to the left, towards a set of stairs which would take him to the lower level of the station and out of possibility of capture.

Brian McLoud had his own agenda, he doubted that there was much of value in the bag of a child, but perhaps the boy had a bit to eat or a few coins in the satchel that was now no longer in his possession. He cut left suddenly as he realized that the boy was in pursuit and made for the stairs that led to the lower area of the station. Perhaps he could lose the child there.

Fearing what would happen if he lost the man and the fact that his time to get to school was running out, not to mention the fact that he had no way to let the adults at the orphanage know that he had missed his train, Tom did the only thing that he could, he thought about the man abruptly stopping. The ragged man stopped suddenly as though he had run headlong into a brick wall just as he reached the top of the stairs. Then he fell forward, tumbling down the stone stairs to land in a bloodied heap at the bottom. Tom reached the stairs and, seeing the man motionless at the bottom, ran down to reclaim his bag before bolting back up the stairs while also ignoring the feeble pleas for help from the man.

He ran through the crowd, weaving his way between adult passengers until he reached the arch once again. Breathing hard, he paused to bend to catch his breath before looking up at the clock. His eyes widened when he realized that the hands of the clock had not moved at all. Not believing that they had travelled so fast that no time had passed at all Tom ran around the pillar to look up at the other side of the clock to see what it read with horror. It was three minutes after Eleven , the Hogwarts Express had departed only minutes ago while he was engaged in catching the thief and reclaiming his belongings. Ignoring the possibility of being seen, he raced through the portal and appeared a moment later on a very empty Platform Nine and three-quarters. Only a few adults still drifted about, making small talk or preparing to apparate home. Not knowing what to do, Tom settled down onto a bench and put his head into his hands with one certain knowledge in his mind; he had missed the train and now could not get to school.

Although he didn’t know it, he had created quite a stir in the platform occupied by the Muggles. A crowd had gathered at the place where a man had seen a young boy run headlong at a brick pillar and had expected the child to experience severe injuries. Instead the boy had simply vanished and now the witness was in danger of being declared mad, because the officer that had responded to the strange call could clearly see that the pillar was solid and there was no way that any of it could have happened. Being in no mood for jokes, the officer had threatened the passerby with a citation for wasting valuable official time but had relented after telling the man to go home and sober up.

Tom stared down at the floor of the platform through tear filled eyes and was preparing to rise to go back through the portal to make his long way back to the orphanage when a voice that he had heard before spoke to him.

“Tom? Tom Riddle?”

He raised his head to see Lorraine Porter standing before him and then stood quickly in the presence of Molly’s parents.

“Why are you still on the platform, Tom? You should have boarded the Hogwarts Express with the rest of the students.”

“You got here too late and missed the train, didn’t you?”

“Yes, sir, Mister Porter, I did.”

“What in the name of Merlin happened, Tom?”

“A man on the Muggle platform took my bag and I had to chase him to get it back.”

“Please tell me that you did not use magic to stop him, Tom,” Joseph Porter said slowly.

“I did not want to, I simply thought that I wanted him to stop and he did. It all happened so suddenly that I had no control over it.”

“Tom,” Molly’s father announced suddenly, “please tell me that no Muggles saw what happened.”

“I do not know if anyone saw it. He simply fell down some stairs and I got it back from him there.”

“You did not draw your wand then?”

“No, sir, Mister Porter, I do not even have it with me, it stayed at Hogwarts with Professor Dippet over the break.”

Both adults breathed a sigh of relief before Joseph Porter spoke again.

“Thank Merlin for that. The Muggles that did see it will likely think that he fell down the stairs on his own. Still, the Ministry will probably look into it, just be careful from now on.”

“I will, Mister Porter.”

“I think that we can help you get to school, Tom, that is if you want us to.”

Relief flooded through Tom’s mind and he nodded quickly before the adult spoke again.

“Have you ever apparated before?”

“No, sir, I do not think that I have.”

“It is a bit unsettling at first and many people get ill the first time they do so, I personally vomited all over my father’s robes my first time.”

Tom knew what apparation was and certainly knew what it meant to vomit and didn’t look forward to it. Hesitantly, he reached out to take hold of the robe sleeve that he had been offered and a moment later the trio vanished with a POP. They appeared a moment later on Hogsmeade Platform to find Albus Dumbledore waiting for them. The professor smiled at the group before speaking and placing his hand on Tom’s shoulder, while the boy fought back the urge to empty his stomach of the breakfast that he had eaten.

“Minister Porter, Mrs. Porter, how kind of you to help young Tom make his way to school. I assume that he missed the Hogwarts Express because of some calamity or another.”

Tom nodded while keeping his mouth tightly closed for fear of what would happen should he open it. He wanted desperately to retreat from the presence of the trio of adults to tend to what was going to be happening. Dumbledore, sensing the inevitable, removed his hand from the boy’s shoulder and Tom took the opportunity to hurry away to rid himself of the urge that he felt. When he emerged from the bushes a short time later he found only Dumbledore waiting for him, Molly’s parents having departed. He approached the professor slowly, while still clutching tightly to the bag.

“Tom, I understand that you ran into difficulties on the platform in London.”

“Yes, Professor Dumbledore, I did.”

“And, from what I hear, you handled it extremely well. The Auror that was on the platform reports that you refrained from the obvious use of magic, although the Muggle that saw you go through the barrier did have a rather interesting time explaining it to one of their officers.”

Tom looked up into the eyes of the professor and realized that Dumbledore wasn’t angry; in fact, the eyes of the professor were twinkling with merriment at the thought.

“Professor Dumbledore, what is an Auror?”

“Tom, you are familiar with Muggle police, are you not?”

“I have seen them and have spoken to them, why?”

“The Aurors are our police or law enforcement officers, if you wish. They enforce our laws concerning the use of magic, whether intentional or accidental, which is why I caution you on your control of what you can do. Every time that you “lose control” it is noticed by the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, lose control often enough and they will contact you, which is not always pleasant. You can be expelled from Hogwarts and face trial in our court for not controlling your use of what you can do, Tom. You are a second year student now and are beginning to be expected to handle your abilities.”

“I understand.”

“Excellent! Now, as you are here several hours before the other students shall be, you may enter the castle and make your way to Slytherin House. Professor Slughorn knows that you are here already and shall allow you entry to your dorm in order that you put your things away. You shall find all that you left behind waiting for you in your cupboard except this.”

Tom looked at the wand that Dumbledore held in his hand and reached forward to accept it, feeling the familiar thrill as his fingers grasped the wooden shaft. He glanced at a carriage that had seemingly magically pulled up to him until he took a closer look at what pulled it and recoiled. Where he had expected to see some sort of horse he saw instead a skeletal thing with wings and eyes that were dead white.

“It is a Thestral, Tom, and you can see it because you have experienced seeing death. Your mother died after giving birth to you and so you can see them. They are actually quite harmless, despite their appearance.”

“And it shall take me to the castle?”

“Yes, Tom, it shall take you to the castle.”

The boy approached the carriage and then watched as its door opened. He climbed into the carriage to sit down and then be transported to the castle, which loomed on the hilltop overlooking the lake. He settled back into the seat and enjoyed the ride, knowing that he had his wand in his hand and he would soon be back to school. The countryside passed by him quickly and he soon was arriving at the castle to climb out of the carriage in the large stone courtyard. From there it was a short walk through familiar corridors to the tunnels that were home to Slytherin House. He rounded a corner to find the door into the warren of tunnels open, the portrait of the witch hidden for now, and stepped through it to make his way to the Slytherin Common Room and then his dorm.

“Tom, my boy, I heard that you had already arrived and am so glad to see that you have returned to resume your studies.”

Tom smiled as Professor Horace Slughorn greeted him and they walked together to the dorm that the boy would occupy this term.

“It is my understanding that you had some difficulty getting here this term, am I correct?”

“Yes, sir, Professor Slughorn, a Muggle took my bag while I was at the station and I had to get it back. Then I realized that I had missed the Hogwarts Express and it was only the fact that Molly Porter’s parents helped me that I am here now. Otherwise I would probably be walking through London to make my way to the place where I live during breaks.”

“I also understand that you had some difficulty with James Farley during break.”

“Yes, sir, Professor Slughorn, I did.”

“He can be a bit of a prat that one can, do not tell anyone that I said that please. He and that gang of hoodlums enjoy picking on anyone that is smaller than they are and most cannot wait for them to finish their seventh year and leave. Unfortunately, we have two more terms with him to endure.”

They talked as they walked and soon were stopping at the open door to the dorm. Tom looked into the room and saw his belongings neatly stored in his cupboard.

“Your cauldron and gloves are safe in my classroom, Tom, otherwise everything else is here. I will leave now so that you can unpack your…” Professor Slughorn finished as he looked again at the bag that Tom carried before finishing, “bag.”

The portly wizard bade him goodbye and then walked away while Tom hurried to not only empty his bag and put things away but also to change into his new robes. He instantly felt better about things and looked forward to seeing the new first years. At last there would be people here that knew less about the school and magic than he did. Now he could have some fun while he tormented them and ordered them around when the prefects and professors were not in earshot. He slipped his wand into his robes and then put his hat onto his head before walking back out into the common room to look at the statue of Salazar Slytherin.

The founder of the House was a stern looking wizard and Tom knew a bit about him. He had been one of the four founders of Hogwarts and had been angered enough to leave the school when his idea that only students of pure-blood status be allowed to study at Hogwarts was rejected by the other founders. Tom, despite his upbringing, agreed with what Slytherin had believed. He didn’t know if he was a pure-blood, but he thought that he probably was, how else had he been able to do what he could before even stepping into the school? He looked again at the statue as a thought came into his head.

‘Someday, when I am a full wizard, I am going to teach here and push the Muggle-born students out of Hogwarts! If they do not have magical parents they have no place here with those of us that do. Malfoy is right, the half-bloods and mud-bloods have no right to be here and someday I am going to see to it that they are not!’

He settled down into an overstuffed chair to read a book about notable magical families that he had pulled from a shelf. Disappointment grew within him as the name Riddle did not appear although the names Porter, Malfoy, Crabbe and even Goyle did. Why wasn’t his family’s name there? Weren’t they worthy of recognition in magical history?

‘Well,’ he thought, ‘I am going to change that! People all over our world will remember the name Tom Riddle for as long as they live!’

He closed the book and then carried it into his dorm to read more, to solve the mystery of the absence of his surname in the book, before walking out of the room to make his way through the castle to the Great Hall and the spectacle of the Sorting Ceremony that was to come.

Molly sat in the compartment that she shared with some friends from Hufflepuff while she puzzled over Tom’s absence on the Hogwarts Express. While it was very possible that she had missed him in the crowd, she should have seen him board his car. Had the Muggle that he stayed with prevented him from returning to school? Had he merely arrived at the platform too late and missed the departure? Or had he decided that he did not care for her anymore and now was avoiding her?

She settled back into her seat to stare out through the window at the passing countryside while her young mind played with the possibilities.

“Are you thinking about Tom again?”

Molly nodded without turning back to face her friend.

“You really need to forget about him, Molly, all that he is going to do is hurt you.”

“No, he will not, Carol. I love him and I think that he loves me.”

“Molly, he does not know what love is! He is going to use you to get what he wants and then leave you crying in the end. You can meet a lot of other really nice boys at Hogwarts. Please take my advice and leave him behind for your own good.”

Molly shook her head and Carol finally gave up when no further answers came her way from her best friend. She watched as Molly closed her eyes and fell asleep. Carol sat quietly while she thought about what others had said about the boy that seemed to have two very different sides to his personality and worried about her friend. She had seen the frightening side of Tom Riddle for herself and wondered how Molly had not. Was her friend so taken by the boy that she was in denial about his dark side and tendencies?

For her own part, Carol decided to do all that she could to dissuade Molly from seeing the boy and, at the same time, persuade her to see other boys. If she could accomplish that, maybe Tom Riddle would fade from her friend’s mind until he was only a dark memory that Molly would do well to forget. Carol finally settled back to follow Molly’s example and fall asleep.

Tom had the opportunity to walk through much of the castle while he waited for the Hogwarts Express to deliver its payload. Although he had seen much of the castle during the previous term he was amazed at the things that he had not noticed before. Portraits that had obviously been there before now gained his attention and as he walked he noticed a trophy case that he had previously ignored. Here was the chance, he could look at the trophies for his family name. His family had to be notable and this was the opportunity to prove it.

‘Riddle, my family name has to be here, it just has to be. There is no way that my mother’s family is in here, she had to have been a filthy Muggle because if she had been a witch she would not have died when she gave birth to me.’

He studied each trophy and plaque carefully, looking and hoping to see the surname Riddle among the many noted names, even going back and reading each one a second time before giving up. But he wasn’t discouraged, there were a lot of cases like this one throughout the castle and he wondered if his father might not have been a Slytherin and only members of other Houses were permitted in this case.

‘I’m going to find my family name, I just know that I am. But if my mother died, if she was a Muggle and not a witch, what does that make me? A half-blood?’ He shook his head in denial of that possibility before his thoughts began again. ‘ No, there is no way possible that I am not a pure-blood, it has to be that I just have not found the names and she died because of an accident! Maybe Mrs. Cole found out that she was a witch and killed my mother during my birth. It would be easy enough to do, but why did my mother go to a Muggle orphanage to have me? Why would she not have found one of our healers to help her? Why would she have even been in that part of London? I need to look through every book that I can find about the subject, there has to be an answer somewhere and I intend to find it.’

He finally arrived at the Great Hall after studying the contents of several other cases and growing increasingly frustrated by the lack of success that he had experienced. Several of the professors had already arrived and they greeted him as they met. He walked to the tables that were reserved for his House and settled down onto one of the benches to wait for the arrival of the students. His friends would arrive soon, he knew that, and Molly would arrive as well.

‘They will all be here soon and then the term will begin after the Sorting and the meal and then I am going to learn all that I can about my family. They had to have gone to school here, they just had to, and I know that I have just missed their names. They were famous, well-known in our world, but I am going to make certain that all in our world know my name above all others. Riddle, not a question but a statement that all will understand and know and never question again. I am going to make sure of it!’

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