The rains lashed mercilessly as the dark, dull day displayed no signs of ending anytime soon. Not a single soul was seen on the streets. Except one.
A bedraggled girl, all of nineteen years of age, dragged herself on the street, trying to reach the gates of the orphanage. She was pregnant and clearly in pain. No sooner than she reached the gates, she collapsed, doubled up with pain.
Mrs Cook, the supervisor of the orphanage, was just about to close the window of her office when she saw the girl collapse. She immediately rushed out, not caring about the rain. She carefully picked up the pale, pregnant girl and brought her inside.
Mrs Bailey rushed out to help Mrs Cook with the girl and both the ladies brought her to an empty room in the orphanage.
"Looks like she's been abandoned," Mrs Bailey whispered. "No possessions or anything. She must have gone through a lot. What must have happened?"
Mrs Cook laid a warning hand on Mrs Bailey's shoulder.
"Shh...she might hear you," she warned.
But Merope had already passed out.
9 months ago
The doctor confirmed what Merope had predicted. She was pregnant. Tom was ecstatic. As soon as the doctor left, he hugged Merope tightly.
"Oh Merope!" he exclaimed. "This is the best day of my life. After our marriage, of course!"
Merope was silent. She was torn between her love for him and the truth behind his love for her.
"Tom," she started tentatively. "I want to..."
Tom sat down beside her on the bed. "Yes? What do you need?" he asked, looking concerned.
She decided to wait. "Nothing," she replied. "Just a glass of water."
For the next eight months, Merope couldn't bring herself to confess. Though she tried to, many times, but she clammed up at the last minute.
A few months later, when Merope was nine months pregnant, she could bear it no longer. She could not live the lie anymore. She went up to Tom who was planting some roses in their little garden.
"Tom," she said and laid a hand on his shoulder. "I've got to tell you something."
Tom spun around as soon as he felt Merope's hand on his shoulder. "You shouldn't have got out of the bed, Merope," he admonished her lightly. "What is it? Do you need anything?"
But Merope shook her head. She was determined to confess today. "Tom, you've got to listen to me," she said. "Come in."
Tom and Merope walked in and sat down at the dining table. Merope took a deep breath while Tom looked at her closely.
"Tom," she started. "I am a witch. I..."
"You what?" Tom was astounded. "You..."
But Merope silenced him with a look. "Listen to me first, Tom," she said. "Yes, I am a witch. Do you remember the first time we met?"
Tom merely nodded, not trusting himself to speak.
"I had mixed a love potion in your tea," she said. "I knew that you would never leave Cecilia for me. But I was in love with you. I wanted you at any cost. I wanted you to love me too. That's why I had to use a love potion."
Tom looked at her, stunned by her revelation. "So I was under the influence of a love potion, whatever that may be," he said, slowly.
Merope nodded. "The effect of the potion will start wearing off soon, Tom," she said. "I haven't mixed it in any of your meals today. I don't want to deceive you any more."
Just then, Tom started looking at Merope in a different manner. The effect, as Merope correctly said, was wearing off.
"You've fooled me," he whispered. "All these months! You've fooled me, Merope. I'm out of here. Don't try to meet me ever again. I have nothing to do with you or this baby any more."
Saying so, Tom walked out of the house, not looking back at Merope who had collapsed on a chair.
After a few moments which felt like eternity, Merope stood up. She turned around, took one last look at her house and walked out. Out in the thunderstorm.
The wailing of a newborn infant drowned the claps of thunder. Mrs Bailey cleaned up the baby and wrapped it in a clean cloth.
Mrs Cook shook Merope's shoulders gently.
"Its a boy, my dear," she said. "Don't you want to see your son?"
Merope stirred feebly and opened her eyes. Mrs Bailey placed the infant beside her and Merope looked at her son, fondly.
"I hope he's as handsome as his father," she whispered, stroking her baby's cheek.
Mrs Cook kneeled down beside her bed. Something wasn't right. She held Merope's wrist, trying to check her pulse.
Merope, though, looked straight at Mrs Cook. "Please name him Tom Marvolo Riddle," she said.
And, with one last look at her baby, Merope closed her eyes, never to open them again.