October 31st, 1981
The Potter Cottage, Godric’s Hollow
There is a place called Godric’s Hollow where James Potter and Lily Potter died. Lord Voldemort entered their home on October 31st and murdered them in cold blood before turning his wand on their one-year-old son, Harry James Potter.
Harry Potter stands up in his crib, the memory of green lights dancing behind his eyes. He is crying because the lights hurt his eyes and he wants his mother. There are ancient magics in the air, lingering and heavy with the recent loss of Lily Potter’s life. But there are magics older than murder and older than death. There is life and love in those pairs of brilliant green eyes, those two eyes empty and those two eyes full. There is a half-blood boy who is loved by his parents.
Tom Riddle looks down the length of his yew wand at the orphan in front of him and draws upon every ounce of hate he possesses. The pull of emotion is mechanical, effortless. Hate rises to the surface and gasps for breath—
The jet of green light glances off of Harry Potter’s forehead and strikes Lord Voldemort in the heart, tearing his damaged soul in two. The agony is unimaginable. You will not read this in any ancient tomes, or ask this of any ghosts that haunt the earth, but you will now know that the death of the deathless feels like an eternity spent alone.
Two inky-black wraiths linger in the air, so close together as to be nearly indistinguishable from each other. Not even a millisecond of time has passed since the Killing Curse was uttered. Harry’s forehead is bleeding and Tom Riddle’s body has burned to ashes. Of the three beings in the room, only one is breathing.
The large wraith shakes itself as though in horror, hovering above the body of the woman who gave her life to save her son. It escapes past the window into the chill October air, never looking back. The suffocating darkness in the room begins to fade.
Now left alone, the small scrap of soul that has detached itself from the whole slips across the open air. Faster than a blink, it flees straight through the lightning-shaped opening in Harry Potter’s head, searching for that feeling of wholeness and completeness. The infant is knocked back onto its bottom. The soul piece latches on greedily, a parasite twisting the up against the innocent. It relishes in the feeling of possession and belonging. The boy belongs to it, and it belongs to the boy.
But being attached to Harry Potter’s soul is not enough.
The scrap of soul squirms, absorbing and feeling as it acclimates to its new host. It is not used to feeling. The whole of it that it used to be a part of does not remember feeling.
There is a little boy flying on a toy broomstick there is a little boy eating a birthday cake there is a little boy laughing and smiling there is a little boy playing with a shaggy black dog there is a little boy staring at brilliant green eyes there is a little boy who is loved there is a family—
The soul piece wants. It wants so badly to be Harry Potter. It wants to wind back the hours and the days and the months and relive the memories of the boy-who-lived forever.
There is movement and noise and people, but the Horcrux is heavily focused on itself. It diverts all extra magical and mental energy to its own thought processes. The boy’s soul is strong, but malleable. The scrap of soul feeds easily on the power source lingering in the boy, in the boy’s connection to his dead mother. Her body is cooling, but her magic lingers.
Eventually, the physical form of the boy, Harry, is gathered into a swaddling bundle dampened with tears and lifted away. The night air is cool and brisk against the scar tissue on the forehead, but the rest of the body is warm, held close in an embrace.
Tom Riddle never had a family. With time, he convinced himself he didn’t need one. With the creation of the diary horcrux, he had decided his own destiny. He had known with the certainty of his own existence that he would never want or need to feel whole again.
The bundle of the boy is placed into a poorly-Transfigured wicker basket, and then they are once again moving at a good pace through the world around them.
The sky is lit with millions of stars. The moon is high and there are few clouds to cover it. The frenzied thoughts of the soul scrap go quiet. It is pensive now. Reminiscing. It is reminded of nights spent in the Astronomy tower. Nights spent at its once and only home.
Was it possible to call Hogwarts home, to love it even with the absence of the people in it? Home was a foreign concept applied to the only place where Tom Riddle had felt like he finally belonged. Hogwarts was his birthright. Magic was his, and the magic that belonged to him could never be taken away. This was the fact he knew to be true above any other.
Deeply and truly, there are magics older than death and older than time.
All across Britain, wizards and witches alike take up the cry: “To Harry Potter—the boy-who-lived!”
They have long waited for these golden years of peace that James, Lily, and Harry will never get to see.
But before there was time, there was light. There was beginning.
Harry Potter’s mutilated soul reaches across the expanse of fifty-four years and screams.
December 31st, 1926
Wool’s Orphanage, London
Merope Gaunt delivers her newborn child into poverty and obscurity. The boy enters the world the same way his mother departs it: alone.
This part of the story always remains the same, untouched by the hands of time, unmoved by fate herself. Tom Riddle was only ever destined for greatness, and this greatness would never include family.
Tom Marvolo Riddle is left with nothing but his father’s name and the cold bite of the winter air in place of the warm touch of his mother.
October 31st, 1927
Nearly a year later, a wicker basket appears on a front step. The woman who opens the door retrieves a parchment letter and a small, raven-haired infant.
The letter begins something like this:
Dear Mrs. Petunia Dursley nee Evans,
I am afraid I bear terrible news of your sister and her husband…