It was a normal morning just like any other for one Harry Potter.
As usual, Dudley was threatening him, looming over him with one hand grabbing the front of his shirt, and the other pinning him down against the wall. They were in a crowded hallway at the local primary school, and kids were lining up to watch the “freak” get pulverized again by Dudley and his gang.
This is normal, he repeated to himself, over and over again as he gasped for breath and prayed for calm. This is normal. This is nothing. I've been through worse, and this moment will pass.
As always, he knew he deserved it, but he could get through this.
Dudley released him, kicking him down to the ground where he lay curled up in a shuddering, trembling heap. He sucked in greedy gulps of air, hugging his arms around his chest as he bit back pained whimpers. Laughs and jeers sounded from all sides around him, but it wasn’t like he cared. It wasn't like he cared about those few, pitying, fearful gazes amongst the crowd either.
They didn't matter, because it wasn’t like any of them cared enough, or were simply brave enough, to help the freak.
“Awww, look at that, the poor wittle freak’s too scared to even fight,” Dudley crooned, leering down at him. Harry glared back up at him from his place on the ground, meeting his gaze squarely with loathing, fury filled eyes. He growled lowly, already knowing what was coming next. “Give me your homework freak. I’ll even let you go if you do, but if you don’t, I’ll tell Mum and Dad you cheated. And of course, you know what happens then…” The fat boy’s pig-like eyes glittered with gleeful malice as he spoke, and Harry shivered with disgust as he stared back at them.
He hated him, he hated this, and he couldn't stand that he was forced to put up with it all. And yet, as Dudley pointed out, he knew exactly what would happen if he didn't obey. He always knew what would happen.
Who knew pig-faced, book-dumb Dudley was smart enough for blackmail?
“Why do you have to do this?” Harry spat venomously, pulling out his binder and then ripping his homework from it, and shoving it in the boy's face. “Maybe if you were actually smart enough to do your homework yourself like me, you'd actually be able to pass the school year without resorting to blackmail. All you're proving is that you're stupid as the pig you look like.” He whirled around, stalking off as he pushed his way through the crowd of gawking students, uncaring for the curiosity in their gazes and too angry to regret the inevitable consequences of losing his temper.
He told himself then that he was used to this treatment, and yet, he was angry, humiliated, and above all else, tired of it. He went through this everyday, and then went through it ten times worse when he got home. Wasn't that enough? Was being a freak really enough to warrant it all, day in and day out?
He hugged his binder close to his chest, sniffling slightly as he felt his eyes burn, welling with unshed tears. He stopped walking and scowled down at his feet, scrunching up his nose.
He didn’t know why he was so affected right now; it wasn’t even like this was the worst he’d ever been through. It wasn’t even close.
Snarling at his weakness, he pushed his binder down into his backpack and zipped it up tight, tugging the bag onto his back as he began marching to his next class. Brushing a hand over his face, he rubbed at his eyes, refusing to let his tears fall. He couldn't, wouldn't let this get to him, let Dudley get to him again, like when he was small. He was stronger than that now.
But still...he was angry, he was hurt, and right now, he just wanted to go home.
Not home as in his cupboard home, but as in a real home.
He just wished with all his heart, that there was someone, anyone that would put a stop to this. That would protect him; befriend him, like no one else had before.
He just wished he had someone who loved him...
Little did he know that at that very moment, a barrier broke, and a magic shattered; that the wonder that was accidental magic hurried to do its master’s bidding, rushing out in an uncontrolled flurry to fulfill his one wish.
A misty, ghost-like figure began to take shape, forming in swirling, smoky green tendrils. First, silky brown locks solidified, then pale skin, high cheekbones, and imperious features with striking blood red eyes.
It was a boy, albeit, not a normal one. A dark, powerful aura surrounded him, overbearing, yet seductive. Students parted around him like a knife through butter, flowing past him in an unchanging tide, so blissfully unaware of the mysterious specter that had appeared among their midst.
Crimson eyes flashed briefly as he tilted his head, taking in his surroundings. Raising a single, long-fingered hand to his face, he examined it curiously before peering down at himself. Lifting his head, he let out a slow, wavering breath, and then fixed his gaze upon Harry's retreating back with something akin to melancholy.
Silent as a whisper in the wind, Tom Riddle glided forward, following after him.
Arriving at Harry's next class, he watched, listened, and waited.
Tom didn’t know why, and he didn't know how, but somehow, somehow, he had regained his freedom. He had a body now, a presence; he could walk, talk, and do just about anything he wanted.
This was a chance too good to lose, and there was no way in hell he'd let it slip by him; though of whether it would be a blessing or a curse, he could not be sure.
Now, there was only one thing of which he was certain, and it was that in this, only time would tell.
It wouldn't do for him to be impatient, and in order to gain Harry's trust as he wanted, he would need to bide his time. It would be a difficult, and arduous task, one demanding in all ways. But for Harry?