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Casting Shadows

by Northlight

Title: Casting Shadows (1/1)

Author: Northlight


Summary: Tom Riddle's parents in love and out of love.

Rating: R--very slight mentions of sex and violence. Much weirdness. Not a happy story.

Distribution: Ask, and I'll say yes.

Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling owns these characters.

Date: June 10, 2002. Additions made: June 20-24, 2002. Finalized: July 29, 2002.

Beta: Elouise Lestat and Anise.

Pretty girl on London streets and she tripped over her stiff Muggle shoes. Flared Muggle skirt of blue and white cotton (she had robes that shimmered like a thousand stars) swirled around trim ankles (she hadn't understood multitudes of cumbersome Muggle cloth, but had bit her lip with concentration as she wrapped the foreign material about herself). She flailed, squeaked in surprise, and landed in between outstretched arms, a fine dark suit. Looked up and

(Not like us, Daddy said.)

into eyes as rich as chocolate frogs (you're getting dumpy, darling, Mother said). His hands were at her elbow, warm and smooth-soft-boyhands (Albert's hands were rough at finger and palm and knuckle--clutching at his broom, beating on boys who looked at her; his callouses scratching at cream-soft-lady's hands). Smiled and flushed prettily (not a boy who doesn't like that sight; Mother had taught things as important as magic) and murmured her thanks. Looked up at him from behind half-lowered lashes and his hand lingered at her elbow.

Caught their reflection, side by side, in a window. Pretty together, so she smiled bright and shy (knowing) and let him wait at her side. Breeze ruffled her layered skirt, material fleeting touch against his hand (so easy). Delicate hand on his forearm, leaned in by subtle increments, and he was charmed (wanted her) by the time Professor Minutia found her again, stiffly dressed students trailing behind her. Saw girls looking at her with disgust (interest) (disgust). No boy at Hogwarts was an unknown, mystery defeated by circular world--he was (heart-pounding, breath catching, a titillating savage) new.

She learned to use the Muggle Post (so slow, so inefficient) and wrote letters (remembered not to use glittering purple ink after the first). He answered (Dear Vivian. . .) and she began to forget the game she had been playing. Lost herself to the lie and she spent days after smiling, making mirrors glow as she passed (attraction is power, Mother said, and her bejeweled hands always slid down Daddy's chest when she saw him). Closed the drapes around her bed and hugged the (cleansed) memory-image of him close to herself. Told her he wanted to see her again (oh, Thomas!) and she promised to meet him that summer (sketched his profile in the margins of her Potions exam; Professor Draughton looked at her with raised eyebrows when she handed it in).

(Hadn't wanted to go on Professor Minutia's outing at all--dirty Muggle London; noises and scents and unrelenting banality.) Dressed in Muggle clothes, spoke odd words and let him hold her hand and catch glimpses of her ankles. Kissed for the first time under a Muggle tree, white blossoms overhead, perfume wafting about them (Albert flung his arm across her shoulders, pulled her in tight against his side. Kissed her on the Quidditch pitch after a game, smelling of sweat and blood and earth, and she had rubbed at her check afterwards). She clung to broad shoulders and dull cloth and thought

(Know thy enemy, Daddy said)

that she was happy, so very happy (went to bed early and stared at the dark canopy overhead and did not sleep that night). Lied to her parents with long established ease (they always lied back to her). Looked at Daddy down the polished length of food-laden table and pumpkin juice washed past sharp-edged triumph lodged in her throat. Mother dabbed at her lips with embroidered napkin and silence was heavy even while they spoke.

Erinyes followed her into the night and she was a dark shadow perched behind Daddy (a Muggle! Daddy said, a common Muggle! and Erinyes hooted and twisted her head). Carefully wielding words sharp enough to cut (even Professor Abaddon spoke of Daddy in careful tones) and it was even better sneaking from her room with the memory of Daddy's anger simmering in her head. Barely thought at all when Thomas asked for her hand (severed hands and potions in a dusty book she oughtn't have read) in marriage. Kissed her lightly and slid a slim band of gold about her finger and

(No daughter of mine will marry a Muggle, Daddy warned, cold and precise. Our bloodline has remained pure for centuries, and I will not allow it to be contaminated--

Won't allow? she scoffed and Mother's dark eyes were steady disappointment)

she placed her arms around his neck and said yes.

His family's home was a Muggle mirror of her own: artifacts and art and privilege thick in the air. His parents sat at a long dining table alongside tall windows with a view of the (unremarkable) garden. Lips and nose pinched, his mother's sharp eyes swept her dress (rich yellow and red, and all the other Muggle dresses had been a terrible bore). Their voices were coolly polite and she was subtly superior (filthy Muggles!) as she smiled and nibbled disdainfully at the food (human) servants set down before her (Daggy would have been appalled).

She was married in a white dress lined with lace (her mother's had been spun silver, fairies carrying her flowing veil) before her husband's friends and family (I have no daughter, Daddy had said before he turned his back and did not move until she left). Adah and Diana served as bridesmaids, bone-deep Slytherin disdain well hidden to all those who had not emerged from the dark currents of that House. She cried at her wedding once Adah and Diana left, and had to be reminded what to do (she had thought Muggle Studies a waste). Sipped at (unpleasant) wine such as she had never before tasted until her head spun and his mother's thin lips disappeared.

Tucked her wand (dragon's heartstring, willow, 9 inches) into the bottom of her trousseau beneath the vivid green of her favourite robes and the presents from Adah and Diana, given to her in private (sleeping draught, Adah said with a humourless smile, when you need him--jutted her pointed chin at Thomas' back--out of your way). Piled (horrid) Muggle clothes on top of it all and closed the lid (fingers itched for the familiar weight of her wand).

Alone, and he looked at her with eyes gone dark. He said soft things into the delicate shell of her ear (hard everywhere else). His hands were hidden beneath the fall of her skirt as they moved up the inside of her thighs. His mouth was on hers, teeth and tongue working on her lips, opening them. She squirmed as his fingers went higher, gasped, and threw her arms around his neck and held on tight.

Thomas, she said, oh Thomas,

and when it was all over, wished.

(Sex makes men weak, Mother said; and she had put her hand on Albert and watched his mouth go slack and his eyes go wide.)

The world was (awful) different than the one she had known. So cumbersome, so complicated, and he wasn't like her. She had never been inferior (powerful, pure-blooded, Slytherin) but he expected pleasant obedience (she had taken out a Harpy with a well aimed spell during Defence Against the Dark Arts; the highest mark in the class). He had seen a pretty girl, and she had giggled and blushed for him (Mother had told her all sorts of things) and he had never noticed that there was anything else to her.

Slytherin boys played politics and power and bluster but knew to be wary of the females in their house, taught their own brand of deadly cunning. She had been able to sway weak-willed Professor Avis with a lifted eyebrow and an idle twitch of her wand. She had whispered orders into Albert's ear. There were stories of great and powerful witches, and she spoke her mind and her husband lifted his hand

(Muggle, Muggle, nasty Muggle. Dangerous for all their backwardness, Daddy had warned--silly old fool, she'd thought)

and she bit her lip so hard it bled (thought about the wand in her trunk, the spells she shouldn't know) and apologized (because Daddy didn't have a daughter anymore, and a daughter without a Daddy didn't have a home). Later, she took out her wand and tucked it into the sleeve of her dress, polished wood rubbing against the soft inside of her arm and she thought

(Magic can be used for both great good and great evil--and I ask you to always consider the ramifications of what you are doing. Professor Crawford had looked at them sternly over wire-rimmed spectacles as the class dutifully took notes. She had thought of objects at home in rooms that shouldn't exist, and Daddy burning every one of his letters once he'd read them).

that she could change him or break him with a twitch of her wrist. He brought her a necklace, after, clasped it around her neck. She kept her wand beneath her pillow as they lay on the bed and he kissed his way down her belly. He made noises in the back of his throat, and she didn't hold onto him as he moved between her legs (the bed was uncomfortable, and she didn't like the colour of their room).

Adah didn't answer her letters and she no longer knew the events Diana spoke of.

She sat outside under the sun and traced her fingertip down the length of the garden snake that curled at her bare ankle (the gardener wondered where they'd all come from). Quick flicker snake tongue, and she turned her head to see him watching her from the window. He came home late more often than not, and she practiced curses in the garden (watched an apple turn black and shrivel and rot away into nothing). The snakes cheered her in their own peculiar fashion (she thought it would be interesting to lay down amongst them and listen to what they might say).

Belly swelled with the summer (she hadn't been able to get the necessary herbs. Professor Draughton had told them all they needed to know, and smirking classmates had attested to education's worth). She pressed her palm against her stomach (half-blood, diluted, infected) and knew she'd never hated anything as much as the Muggle world she'd chained herself to in youthful idiocy (she had thought, oh she had thought so many things; Daddy had won after all).

She wrote a letter to Adah that she did not send. She wrote letters to Diana which Diana did not read.

She dreamt of great snakes and flashes of green light (and woke (comforted)).

He found her outside, snakes twisting about her thighs beneath her skirt, spread out around her. She watched shock, horror (fear) on his face. Demon, he said (he'd waited until the snakes slid from her skirt and back into the garden). Witch, she answered and he brought up the pistol he'd been hiding behind his back. Her wand was steady and the pistol landed steaming on the grass, Thomas clutching agony-red hand to pressed white shirt. The baby (creature) in her belly twisted and she sneered and left (made plans, and oh, how he'd pay; and cursed him a thousand times in her mind, and he would never be quite whole again).

Wouldn't crawl back to Daddy (he wouldn't forgive her even if she did). Refused to creep back into her world as a failure, and plotted and planned feverishly and (empty herself of evidence of her failure) could not destroy the thing growing within her. Sold love potions to gullible (perceptive) Muggles and lived in a small apartment until her belly swelled to immensity (her neighbours thought her a harlot). Saw Mother's owl hovering outside her window and did not fold over and cry until it was gone (take no action which does not advance your cause, Mother had said).

The midwife who lived across the hall appeared at her door without any prompting (sneered at this Muggle pretender to magic) and led her into the cramped bedroom (crowded with anger and misery and the dust Daggy had always swept away at home). Hush child, everything will (not) be all right, the midwife said. Let the older woman take control (kind brown eyes), clutched at her twisting stomach and opened her mouth

(Don't show weakness--Daddy said, Mother said, Adah said, Professor Abaddon said).

and bit down on her forearm until blood filled her mouth and slithered down her throat. Water broke, followed by rushing streams of blood (Muggles, Muggles everywhere, not a MediWizard in sight) (dying). Pushed and gasped and swallowed slick snot loosened by her tears (ambitious, oh my, yes, the Sorting Hat had murmured in her ear. Anger threatens your judgment, however, puts your plans awry. . . ). Hands where hands had not been for months, barely heard the woman's instructions.

(Do you have any idea who I am?) His name, she gasped: Thomas (hate you) Marvolo (hate you) Riddle (traitors both; the name a reminder, a threat). Promise, she hissed as blood-slicked baby wrenched free from her (hurting, hurting). The baby wailed and green fire washed across the insides of her closed eyelids. Distant sound of Erinyes hooting, arched her back and rolled her head back into damp pillow. Breath rattled from her mouth as tiny curse-bearer settled between her breasts.

Erinyes blinked and ruffled her feathers, lifted from the windowsill and into smoke filled air. (Mother stood in a bare room; Daggy had stripped it months before. Daddy didn't listen at all.) Muggles cleaned her and set her in the ground (did not speak the spells that would keep monsters from her body). They took and sold those things which had been hers, and whispered cautious words about the still baby she had left behind (half-blood, Daddy snapped, and Mother did not speak of him again).

The boy survived, and grew, and never asked his mother's name. He knew what his own meant, and that was good enough (better).

If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to Northlight

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