"Tom," Merope called out. "Supper is ready."
"Coming darling," Tom replied. He slipped on a t-shirt and went out to the garden to meet his wife.
Merope watched her handsome husband striding down the freshly mowed grass and smiled. And marvelled at her luck. Well...not all was luck. The only thing Merope had learnt in Hogwarts was to brew potions. And she was an expert in it.
Try as much, Merope could never remember the first time when she had fallen in love with Tom Riddle. But he, the rich Mr Riddle's son, was out of her reach. There was no way that he would have even cast a glance at Merope, leave alone falling in love with her. But Merope was a patient girl. She waited for a perfect opportunity. That opportunity came in the form of Bob Ogden.
Morfin did not care about the secrecy of the Wizarding World and frequently used magic in front of the Muggles in Little Hangleton. Despite repeated reminders from the Ministry of Magic, Marvolo and Morfin did not mend their ways. At the end of their tether, the Ministry finally sent Bob Ogden to the Gaunt's ramshackle cottage in Little Hangleton to warn them about their repeated offences. But, instead of being contrite, Marvolo and Morfin boasted of their family's lineage. Marvolo even tried to strangle his daughter when he found out that she fancied the boy next door. And when Ogden tried to stop him, Morfin and Marvolo forced him to flee by throwing various hexes and jinxes in his direction.
The Ministry took prompt action against Marvolo and Morfin. They were produced before the Wizengamot and were carted off to Azkaban soon afterwards. Merope was left alone in their cottage in Little Hangleton.
But Merope wasn't complaining. She finally was free. And she liked the taste of this newfound freedom. She started scourging the house and found some money hidden away by her father and brother. She walked down to a shop to buy herself a new dress. And then, she started putting her plan to action.
Merope, freshly showered and clad in the shimmering red dress she had purchased earlier in the day, walked up to Tom Riddle who was walking past her house. He was alone. Good, Merope thought. She did not want an unnecessary complication in the form of his girlfriend, Cecilia.
"Hey Tom," Merope called out, her voice ringing with confidence. Tom looked around at her, surprised.
"Did you just call me?" Tom asked. Merope nodded, smiling.
"Yes, I did," she replied. "Would you like to join me for a cup of tea?" Merope smiled at him invitingly.
"Oh well, okay," Tom agreed, though he was feeling awkward. "Uh...oh..." he hesitated when he saw the house. "Are you sure...?"
"Oh yes," Merope smiled warmly. "Trust me. There's nothing to fear over here." Merope had taken care to remove all the traces of magic from the house. She even removed the snake that was nailed to the door.
"Its all right," Tom agreed. "Never knew why I used to think that your house was haunted."
Merope threw her head back and laughed. "Haunted?" she said, still laughing.
"Well, I never saw any of you," Tom tried to defend himself. "Until today."
"I was at a school," Merope lied. "A boarding school."
"Didn't you come back for the holidays?" Tom asked.
Merope shook her head. "No," she replied. "I was more at home at my school. Now drink your tea and eat your scones before they get cold." Merope hurriedly diverted the topic before Tom started questioning her again.
When he took the first sip of the tea, Tom felt a curious sensation run through him. He began to see the girl sitting before him in a new light. She's so pretty, he thought. Not a show-off like Cecilia.
"What is your name?" Tom found himself asking.
"Merope," she answered. "Merope Gaunt."
Tom looked at her closely. Yes, she was indeed very beautiful, he thought. And caring too.
"Can we meet again, Merope?" he asked. Merope nodded, beside herself with happiness.
Merope and Tom continued meeting at her home. Tom started enjoying Merope's company more and more and very soon, he fell in love with her. He didn't hesitate in leaving Cecilia for Merope.
One day, as they met in Merope's house for tea, Tom removed a velvet box from his pocket. He opened it and removed a beautiful diamond ring. He held it in front of Merope.
"Merope, will you marry me?" Tom asked. Tears welled up in her eyes. This was the moment she had waited for.
"Of course Tom," she replied. "I will marry you."
Tom and Merope got married the next day. Tom's parents refused to attend his marriage but Tom didn't care. He started living with Merope in her little cottage.
"Hello love," Tom said, wrapping his arms around Merope's waist. But, before Merope could greet her husband, a spell of dizziness took over and Merope collapsed in Tom's arms.
"Merope!" Tom gasped. He slowly picked her up and took her to their bedroom and lay her down on their bed. He sprinkled some water on her face. Merope stirred.
"I'm sending for a doctor, Merope," Tom said and went out of the house. Merope, though, knew why she had passed out. Now is the time, she thought. She had to tell him now.