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Headcanon: Tom Riddle

Tom Riddle is both an open book and a mystery.

In the HP books, we learn quite a bit about his history, but there are a lot of blanks in his biography.

While writing Epithalamium series, I needed to fill in some of those blanks. Here’s what I came up with.

Tom Marvolo Riddle

Born: 31 December 1927
Died: 2 May 1998
Blood status: Half-blood

Wand: Yew and phoenix feather; 13.5″, rigid

Black signature on yellow parchment: Tom Riddle

Patronus: Russell’s viper

Height: 5’11”
Build: Medium
Hair: Dark brown, later bald
Eyes: Brown, later red
Skin: Light, later pale

Family

Tom Riddle I † (father)
Merope Riddle (née Gaunt) † (mother)
Thomas Riddle † (paternal grandfather)
Mary Riddle † (paternal grandmother)
Marvolo Gaunt † (maternal grandfather)
Morfin Gaunt † (maternal uncle)

Early Life

Born on New Year’s Eve to Merope Gaunt, the disgraced daughter of a once-powerful pure-blood family and Muggle Tom Riddle, Tom Marvolo Riddle began life at Wool’s Orphanage, where his penniless and magically moribund mother applied for aid when her labour began.

Merope, whose husband had deserted her when she stopped giving him the love potion she had used to bewitch him into marrying her, died shortly after naming her newborn son after his absent father and her own father.

Tom grew up cared for by Mrs Cole, the matron at Wool’s Orphanage, becoming a sly, secretive child who was shunned and feared by his fellow orphans. He discovered his magic early, using it to extract petty revenge on the other children and to steal their trinkets.

During a 1938 outing to the seaside with Mrs Cole and several other children from the orphanage, he drew fellow orphans Amy Benson and Dennis Bishop away from the group and into a cave whose entrance was hidden at high tide. There, he practised magic on them and threatened them with torture if they told. Both children were left traumatised. (As a result of Tom’s abuse, Dennis committed suicide at age twenty-one, while Amy spent most of her adult life in and out of psychiatric hospitals.)

Young Tom believed he had powers that no one else possessed; he was taken aback to find out otherwise when he received a visit from Hogwarts Deputy Headmaster Albus Dumbledore in the summer of 1939 offering him a place at the school of magic. The news that Tom was not as unique as he had supposed ignited the flames of Tom’s long hatred of Albus Dumbledore, further fanned by Dumbledore’s reprimand for the previous uses to which young Tom had put his fledgling magic.

Hogwarts Years

Supported by scholarship money from Hogwarts’s Needy Students Fund, Tom arrived at Hogwarts on 1 September 1939 and was sorted into Slytherin House, under the somewhat neglectful eye of Head of House Herbert Burke.

Despite his Muggle upbringing, Tom quickly became the top student in his year, excelling in all his studies, but especially Charms, Transfiguration, Potions, and Defence Against the Dark Arts.

Professors Burke and Slughorn, who taught Charms and Potions, respectively, were particularly impressed with Tom, and the boy often turned to them with questions and for additional help in furthering his magical education beyond Hogwarts’s curriculum.

Discovery of Vanishing Cabinet

One afternoon in Tom’s third year, Professor Burke showed Tom a secret: the Charms master possessed a Vanishing Cabinet that allowed him to travel instantaneously between the school and Borgin & Burkes, his brother’s shop in Knockturn Alley (where the mate to the Vanishing Cabinet stood), despite the charms that prevented anyone but house-elves from Apparating into or out of Hogwarts.

Tom filed the information away for later use.

Quest for Ravenclaw’s Diadem

Around the same time, Tom became fascinated by the legend of the lost diadem of Rowena Ravenclaw, which was said to enhance the intelligence of anyone who wore it.

He set upon a quest to find it, cultivating the acquaintance of a lonely third-year Ravenclaw, Myrtle Warren, using her to garner an introduction to the ghost of Ravenclaw Tower, the notoriously shy Grey Lady. From the Grey Lady, he learned that the diadem was likely in a forest in Albania—another bit of information he filed away for later.

Magical Experiments and Discovery of Horcruxes

Tom found himself frustrated by the limits his teachers set on him, and, armed with permission from Professors Slughorn and Burke to access the Hogwarts library’s Restricted Section, began to research areas of magic forbidden to Hogwarts students, and often to wizarding society at large.

At the beginning of his fourth year, Tom used the Vanishing Cabinet in Borgin & Burkes to smuggle a young Squib he had met and bewitched into Hogwarts.

In the Room of Requirement, which Tom had learned about from lovestruck Myrtle, Tom practised many of the Dark spells he had read about on the Squib, eventually driving him mad.

Tom had also begun to study the twin arts of Occlumency and Legilimency, and by the summer after his third year, was adept enough to do the spells wandlessly, which allowed him to practise, undetected by the Ministry’s Trace on underage magic (which was tied to registered wands), on the other children in Wool’s Orphanage.

Perhaps haunted by his mother’s early death, Tom became obsessed with using his magic to find a way to become immortal, and he spent many hours in the Room of Requirement experimenting on animals, trying to create Inferi and using other spells he thought might aid in discovering the secrets of eternal life, but he was ultimately disappointed by them all.

In Secrets of the Darkest Art, however, he found a piece of magic he thought might accomplish what he sought: the Horcrux, an enchanted object into which he could deposit a bit of his soul. The requirements – that the creator commit a soul-shattering act, such as murder, to split his or her soul – did not bother Tom, and he resolved to try it.

He coaxed further information on the spell from Professor Slughorn and eventually decided to create seven Horcruxes, believing the number to have significant magical properties, ignoring the information that each time a soul is split, it is terribly damaged.

Interest in Magical Bloodlines

In Slytherin House, Tom was first exposed to the notion of “blood-purity”, a concept which fascinated him and spurred an interest in researching his own parentage. The discovery that his mother was from a pure-blood family reputed to be descended from Salazar Slytherin prompted his interest in legends surrounding Slytherin.

Thirst for Power and Creation of Death Eaters

His magical power and talent, and his belief that he was descended from Salazar Slytherin, combined with his embarrassment at discovering he’d had a Muggle father and his orphanage upbringing, eventually created in him an unquenchable desire for power.

Early in his career at Hogwarts, Tom’s good looks, his magical prowess, and his superficial charm had made him popular with his fellow Slytherins, and he recognised that he could use these attributes to create a group of wizards and witches who would follow him and help him in his quest to take control of the wizarding world.

From his first year at school, he had cultivated “friendships” with students from the most powerful and oldest families, appealing to their insecurities, vanities, and prejudices. He quietly amplified the messages of “wizarding supremacy” coming from British followers of Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald, who was at the time waging a war with liberal wizarding democracies in Europe.

Many of Tom’s school followers later recruited like-minded friends and family who were disheartened by Grindelwald’s ultimate fall from power, and by the time Tom left Hogwarts, he had a significant number of followers, whom he named “Death Eaters”, in a nod to his obsession with immortality.

Opening the Chamber of Secrets

During Tom’s third year at Hogwarts, Professor Merrythought, an expert in Dark magic, told Tom’s Defence Against the Dark Arts class about the legend of the Chamber of Secrets, which Slytherin had supposedly created upon leaving Hogwarts.

While most of the wizarding world, including the faculty of Hogwarts, thought the legend to be nothing more than a myth, Tom became obsessed with it. The books that he found in Knockturn Alley’s shops during the summer holiday convinced him that the Chamber existed, and when school resumed in the autumn, he set about finding it.

Tom’s unusual ability to speak the language of snakes had convinced him that he was the legendary “Heir of Slytherin” who could open the Chamber and control the “monster” within, and he spent countless hours surreptitiously whispering spells in Parseltongue at any place in the castle he thought might hide the entrance.

Late one night in March of 1943, good fortune struck. Tom had ducked into a second-floor girls’ bathroom to avoid patrolling prefects. When he lit his wand, he noticed that one of the sink taps took the shape of a snake’s mouth. A few words in Parseltongue, and the sink moved aside to reveal a tunnel.

Within the tunnel, Tom was startled to find the shed skin of what appeared to be a large serpent. He took a piece of the skin back to his dormitory to try to discover what might be lurking in the Chamber. A bit of research suggested that the skin might have belonged to a Basilisk. Thus, when Tom returned to the Chamber of Secrets, he was prepared to avert his eyes to avoid lethal eye contact with the creature.

The monster he found within the Chamber was indeed a Basilisk, and Tom spent several weeks secretly learning to control it using his ability as a Parselmouth.

He smuggled the Basilisk into the Room of Requirement to experiment on his young Squib captive. He was delighted to discover that seeing the creature indirectly could Petrify rather than kill, which he thought might prove useful in building a secret army that would not need care and feeding and that would be available whenever he wished.

On the evening of 2 May, Tom first released the creature to terrorise the Muggle-born students of the school.

Over the course of several weeks, Tom coaxed the Basilisk to attack four students, each of whom was lucky enough to suffer only Petrification, for which Professor Slughorn was able to devise a remedy, much to Tom’s disgust.

Creation of First Horcrux

On the evening of 13 June, Tom inveigled Myrtle Warren to the second-floor girls’ bathroom, promising her a “surprise”. He had determined to use the Basilisk to kill her in order to prevent her from telling anyone else about the Room of Requirement, which he believed no one but the two of them knew of.

The murder accomplished, Tom attempted to create his first human Inferius. Instead, unbeknownst to Tom, Myrtle became a ghost, which prevented the Inferius spell from working.

Nevertheless, Tom decided to use the occasion of his first murder to try to create a Horcrux. It was a painful process, but, to his delight, the spell worked, and he hid the severed piece of his soul in a diary that had been given to him by Mrs Cole on his sixteenth birthday.

Myrtle’s death shocked the wizarding world, and when Tom learned that Hogwarts might be shuttered as a result, he realised that he needed to put an end to the Basilisk’s reign of terror.

Framing of Rubeus Hagrid

Tom framed fellow student Rubeus Hagrid for the murder and Petrifications, telling Professor Dippet that the young Gryffindor had been hiding an Acromantula in the dungeons, which was blamed for the carnage.

As a result, the Chamber of Secrets affair was considered over, Hagrid was expelled and deprived of his wand, and Tom became a hero, receiving a Special Award for Services to the School.

Second Horcrux and Murder of the Riddle Family

In the summer of 1943, Tom told Mrs Cole he had been invited to spend a few weeks with a school friend. He instead went to his mother’s native village of Little Hangleton to try to discover more about his family.

From his uncle, Morfin Gaunt, he discovered his father’s identity, and, infuriated by the fact that his father was a wealthy Muggle who had ultimately deserted Merope, Tom determined to kill him.

After Stunning Morfin and stealing both his wand and a signet ring that had allegedly once belonged to Salazar Slytherin, he went to the Riddle home and killed his father and his grandparents, framing Morfin Gaunt for the murder. He used the occasion to create his second Horcrux, hiding it in the ring.

Obsession with Minerva McGonagall

In his third year at Hogwarts, urged by Professor Merrythought, Tom had joined the Hogwarts Duelling Club. During practices, he became acquainted with fifth-year Gryffindor Minerva McGonagall, who had won the school championship the previous year and was known around the school as a brilliant student.

His observations suggested to him that she was a very powerful witch, and he discovered also that she came from an old, wealthy and well-regarded pure-blood family. By the end of Tom’s fourth year, when she again won the school duelling championship, he became determined to win her allegiance.

The following term, he set about wooing her, becoming adept at discussing Quidditch, and wizard’s chess, neither of which he cared for, but both of which she loved. He had become a prefect for Slytherin and made it a point to get on the prefects’ rounding schedule when she was.

Despite his studied charm and popularity with the other girls, Minerva showed no interest in Tom and continued to rebuff his advances, angering him by turning down a necklace he tried to give her as a Christmas gift.

Tom suspected that Professor Dumbledore, who was Minerva’s mentor and who had mistrusted Tom from the beginning of their acquaintance, had warned her away from him.

During the Inter-House Duelling Championship in 1944, Tom and Minerva faced each other in the final round. When she got the upper hand, he angrily used his secret proficiency in Legilimency to break into her mind, where he discovered that she and Dumbledore had been carrying on an illicit love affair.

He hoped to use the information against the professor, but Dumbledore threatened him into silence, and Tom reluctantly decided to say nothing until he had grown strong enough to fight Dumbledore.

Tom’s interest in Minerva was increased by his discovery; he was afraid that an allegiance between Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall, with their combined magical might, would be a serious threat to his ambitions in the future. He resolved to keep a continued eye on Minerva after her graduation from Hogwarts that year.

Life After Hogwarts

At the end of his seventh year at Hogwarts, Tom achieved seven N.E.W.T.s, earning “Outstanding” marks in Charms, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Potions, Transfiguration, and Arithmancy, and “Exceeds Expectations” in Divination.

After graduation in 1946, thinking to further build his “army” amongst the young, he attempted to convince Headmaster Dippet to give him a post teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts, but Dippet refused due to Tom’s youth.

Work at Borgin & Burkes

Tom needed money for the travels and studies he wanted to undertake, so took up a post as a clerk at Borgin & Burkes, a somewhat disreputable shop in Knockturn Alley. His followers were surprised, but Tom felt it was best to keep under the radar of Dumbledore and the Ministry, and he believed the post would offer him the opportunity to find important artefacts in which to hold his Horcruxes.

Travels in Eastern Europe and Creation of Third Horcrux

In 1949, he left England for the Continent, determined to unlock the secrets of life and death. His first stop was Albania, where he searched for Ravenclaw’s lost diadem, which he eventually found, murdering an Albanian peasant to create his third Horcrux and hiding it in the diadem.

He continued to travel around Eastern Europe, particularly in Romania and Hungary, where he studied some of the Darkest curses created by the wizarding Romany and the Magyars.

Creation of Fourth and Fifth Horcruxes

Tom returned to Britain in 1953, once again in need of money, determined to gather more followers.

In 1955, ostensibly working once again at Borgin and Burkes but really spending most of his time developing his magic and drumming up anti-Muggle sentiment among his followers as a means of keeping them in his thrall, he discovered two additional important artefacts: a cup reputed to have belonged to Helga Hufflepuff and a locket that had belonged to Salazar Slytherin.

He ingratiated himself to their owner, Hepzibah Smith, eventually murdering her and stealing the cup and locket. He created his fourth Horcrux from the former with Smith’s murder, hiding it the cup, and his fifth with the locket and the murder of a homeless Muggle.

Although he had taken care to frame Smith’s house-elf for her murder, Tom felt it wise to drop out of sight for a time and left his position at the shop, relying on his followers for financial support.

“Lord Voldemort” and Creation of the Dark Mark

During this time, to signal his transformation from half-blood orphan to would-be ruler of the wizarding world, Riddle created a new name using an anagram from the letters of his real name. When he announced his transition to “Lord Voldemort” at a meeting of his Death Eaters, a few of his followers, including one of his earliest friends, Graham Nott, realised the depths of Riddle’s madness and abandoned their allegiance to him.

The desertions enraged Riddle, and he decided he needed a way to ensure loyalty among his Death Eaters. He set one of his followers, Byron Macnair, to search for a spell that would brand followers with a mark to bind them physically to their leader. When Macnair located such a spell, Riddle used it to create his “Dark Mark”, which would force his followers to respond to his summonses. He began to brand all his followers with the mark, which would become his signature.

Conflict with Dumbledore

In 1957, after Albus Dumbledore became Headmaster of Hogwarts, Riddle used the Vanishing Cabinets to sneak into the school to hide the diadem Horcrux in the Room of Requirement and to make sure the ghost of Myrtle Warren could never reveal her dealings with young Tom Riddle.

After achieving his aims, Riddle was discovered in a corridor by Professor Filius Flitwick, who took him to Dumbledore. As a pretext for his unauthorised visit to the school, Riddle asked Dumbledore to hire him as Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. Dumbledore, recognising it as a ruse and as a challenge to his power, refused. By the end of the meeting, both wizards understood that they were at “war” with one another.

The meeting gave Riddle the idea to place a curse on the Hogwarts Dark Arts position, and he used a series of Romany spells he had discovered during his travels to ensure that anyone who signed a contract for the position would, within a year, suffer a misfortune that would cause them to leave the school.

First Duel with Dumbledore

After leaving school, Riddle had begun to stalk Minerva McGonagall, attempting to make her believe he regretted his actions during their schooldays and to charm her into helping him quit using Dark magic, but she was not taken in by his act. He left her with the admonition that he would be keeping his eye on her.

In 1957, when he discovered that she and Dumbledore planned to be married, he tried to frighten her by leaving the necklace she had refused during their Hogwarts days at her door, but Dumbledore caught him in the act.

The two wizards duelled, and Dumbledore prevailed. He confiscated Riddle’s necklace, asking Filius Flitwick and Hogwarts’s Defence master, Julian Meadowes, to examine it for Dark magic. When Meadowes went blind two days later, becoming the first Dark Arts teacher to fall victim to Riddle’s curse on the position, Dumbledore believed—mistakenly—that Tom had cursed the necklace with the intention of harming Minerva.

Realising that Dumbledore would now be out for his blood, Riddle decided to go abroad once again to advance his studies until he could face Dumbledore from a position of equal magical strength.

Studies Abroad

Over the next decade, Tom travelled the world to seek out the most potent and esoteric magic he could find to help him in his quest for power and immortality.

He uncovered some of the secrets of ancient mages of Egypt, Greece, Mesopotamia, and the Indian subcontinent. His studies also took him throughout East Asia and Western Africa, where he was exposed to unfamiliar forms of magic that largely eschewed the use of wands and formal spells—techniques he never completely mastered, believing that wandless magic was inferior to other forms. The “New World” held less appeal for Tom, as he (mistakenly) believed the older cultures of the Americas to have lost their capacity for the most powerful forms of magic due to the depredations of Christian colonists.

During this time, he returned periodically to Britain to ensure his Death Eaters continued their support and to gather followers, but he continued to insist that they do their work quietly, securing increasingly important positions within the Ministry of Magic, the Wizengamot, and other circles of influence.

Return to Britain and Rise of the Death Eaters

In 1968, Tom returned permanently to Britain, convinced he had developed his power and knowledge enough to begin his conquest of the wizarding world in earnest.

He concentrated at first on continuing to recruit followers and encouraged them to begin publicly espousing blood-purity philosophy.

In 1970, Riddle and the Death Eaters began a programme of terrorism aimed at those who stood against them and, eventually, against Muggles and wizards of Muggle heritage.

He exploited tensions between the Ministry and several groups of marginalised magical beings, including giants and werewolves, persuading them to stage attacks against wizards and Muggles. His followers used these attacks to spread the idea that the “subjugation” of the magical world had emboldened the attackers, and that only way to stop them was for mages to openly declare their power over the Muggle world.

Tom was unsuccessful at recruiting goblins or vampires in any large numbers, as they were better integrated into regular wizarding society, the former involved in numerous business ventures with wizards, and the latter depending on stealth and secrecy for their ability to survive.

First Wizarding War

By the mid-1970s, there was open warfare between Death Eaters and mainstream British wizarding society, and people were living in constant fear of attack. The conflict spilled over into the Muggle world, with many Death-Eater attacks in Britain attributed to bombings by the paramilitary Irish Republican Army.

Among mages, the Death Eaters gained a fearsome reputation for the cruelty of their attacks, often murdering the loved ones of their opponents. Riddle particularly enjoyed using esoteric Dark magic to torture and kill, and wizards became so terrified of “Voldemort” that they began to refuse to speak his name, using instead a variety of euphemisms, such as “You-Know-Who” and “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named,” to refer to him.

The Ministry of Magic was unprepared for Riddle’s growing strength and found themselves hampered in the fight against him by the number of Death Eaters or sympathisers in the Wizengamot and other positions of power.

In 1978, Riddle staged an unsuccessful coup attempt when he instructed Laurence Rosier to introduce a law that would have created hereditary succession for pure-blood Wizengamot members.

The defeat of the legislation by a vote of sixteen to eight resulted in several high-profile attacks against Ministry and Wizengamot members and prompted the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, under Head Bartemius Crouch and Amelia Bones, head of the Auror Office, to crack down on suspected Death Eaters.

Prophecy

Riddle’s fear of death made him paranoid about any “omen” he felt might portend his doom, so when Severus Snape came to him with news of a prophecy he had partially overheard regarding “one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord,” Riddle was secretly terrified, and wanted desperately to hear the remainder of the prophecy.

He narrowed the field of possible subjects of the prophecy down to two boys born in late July 1980: Neville Longbottom and Harry Potter. The fact that the Potter child was a half-blood, like himself, and a descendant, as Riddle had discovered, of Salazar Slytherin’s best friend and nemesis, Godric Gryffindor, led Riddle to determine that Harry, rather than Neville, was the subject of the prophecy.

End of the First Wizarding War

As 1980 drew to a close, the war appeared to be going well for Riddle’s Death Eaters. He had many spies within the Ministry of Magic, and plans were afoot to take it over and install a puppet Minister for Magic. Riddle, however, became increasingly distracted by the prophecy and obsessed with finding and destroying the Potter boy.

He had his wealthy follower Lucius Malfoy target Peter Pettigrew, known to be a member of Dumbledore’s anti-Voldemort Order of the Phoenix group and a friend of the Potter family (who were now in hiding), wooing the insecure young man with promises of riches and power if he turned spy for the Death Eaters.

Eventually, the plan paid off, and Pettigrew told Riddle how to find the Potter family.

Severus Snape, realising that Voldemort intended to attack the Potters, begged him not to kill Lily Potter, whom he loved. Riddle, confident that the young woman would accept when he offered to spare her life in exchange for her son’s, agreed.

Riddle insisted on facing his infant nemesis alone and went to the Potters’ Godric’s Hollow home on 31 October 1981. After killing James Potter, he gave Lily Potter an opportunity to stand aside, but she chose to shield Harry, and Riddle killed her. Unbeknownst to him, by murdering Lily Potter, he earned himself the eternal enmity of Severus Snape, setting in motion the events that would eventually lead to his death.

When Riddle cast a Killing Curse at baby Harry, it rebounded, destroying Riddle’s body, and a piece of his already-tattered soul entered young Harry, making the child—unbeknownst to Tom—a Horcrux.

Riddle would spend the following years attempting to re-encorporate into human form and trying (and failing) to kill Harry Potter, foiled by a combination of Dumbledore’s interference and the magical protection Potter had received when his mother had sacrificed her life for his.

With the disappearance of their Dark Lord, the surviving Death Eaters scattered. Most were captured by the Ministry and were either sentenced to long terms in Azkaban prison or escaped prosecution by claiming they had acted under duress (generally as a result of the Imperius Curse).

Peter Pettigrew, however, remained free and in hiding in his rat Animagus form, framing his former friend and fellow Order of the Phoenix member Sirius Black for the betrayal of the Potter family. Left without resources, Pettigrew began a search for the fallen Dark Lord.

Between the Wars

At the moment the Killing Curse rebounded from Harry Potter, Riddle’s mangled soul was flung into physical limbo but was still tethered to the Earthly plane by his Horcruxes.

It wandered, without form or any power beyond will, for more than a year, attaching itself at random to various animals, one of whom carried it back to the Continent, where it hid in forests, slowly regaining some strength and reclaiming a little of Riddle’s magic, eventually gaining the ability to intentionally possess animals.

Gradually rebuilding his will and magic, Riddle learned to possess humans, a skill he had to use sparingly, as the possessed invariably died, potentially raising suspicion. He used his human possessions to investigate methods for regaining physical form, a quest that would ultimately take more than a decade.

Possession of Quirinius Quirrell

In 1991, Riddle made his way to the Ural Mountains and the Durmstrang Institute, hoping to enlist his old follower, Igor Karkaroff, who was on staff there, to aid him.

Karkaroff, who had narrowly escaped being imprisoned for his activities during the first war, resisted, enraging Riddle. Nevertheless, Riddle’s journey to the northern school paid an important dividend when he learned that Hogwarts professor Quirinius Quirrell intended to spend part of the coming summer in collaboration with Durmstrang’s Dark Arts professor.

On Quirrell’s arrival, Riddle promptly possessed him, thus finding a way back to Britain and directly into Hogwarts, where Harry Potter was about to begin his first year as a student.

He set Quirrell the task of locating the Philosopher’s Stone, which he believed would aid him in returning to his body. Quirrell was thwarted by Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore. During a confrontation with them, Riddle was driven from Quirrell’s body and was once again reduced to possessing animals.

Possession of Ginny Weasley and Re-opening of the Chamber of Secrets

In September 1993, Riddle began to experience episodes of “hearing” someone speaking inside the head of the animal he was possessing.

After several weeks, he realised that someone was writing in the diary that was his first Horcrux and which he had left in the care of Lucius Malfoy, instructing him to guard it but without telling him what it was.

Riddle’s fury at Malfoy’s carelessness was transformed to delight when Riddle discovered he could “speak” back to the diary’s user. His correspondent, he discovered, to his further satisfaction, was a first-year Hogwarts student, Ginny Weasley, who was a friend of Harry Potter.

As Ginny became more emotionally invested in her strange diary, Riddle became stronger and was eventually able to possess her through his Horcrux.

To discredit Dumbledore and stir up terror among the non-pure-blood wizarding community, Riddle decided to use Ginny to re-open the Chamber of Secrets within Hogwarts, which still housed the Basilisk.

The Basilisk Petrified several students, and the ensuing uproar caused the Hogwarts Board of Governors, led by Lucius Malfoy, to lose confidence in Headmaster Dumbledore. They removed him and named Minerva McGonagall acting Headmistress in his place. The Ministry also arrested Hagrid, still believing him to have been the original culprit behind the Chamber of Secrets affair in the 1940s and suspecting him in the current Petrifications.

Ginny Weasley had begun to resist Riddle’s possession, and attempted to get rid of the diary, which found its way into Harry Potter’s possession. Riddle began to “speak” with Potter through the diary, showing him bits of his own life as a Hogwarts student and the original Chamber of Secrets affair.

To Riddle’s disgust, the Weasley girl managed to steal the diary back from Potter, so he lured her into the Chamber of Secrets, intending to have the Basilisk kill her. To his delight, Harry Potter followed them, having discovered the entrance to the Chamber.

Riddle attempted to have the Basilisk kill Potter; however, Dumbledore, alerted to the trouble at Hogwarts, had sent his phoenix, Fawkes, to try to find the missing Ginny Weasley. Fawkes fought off the Basilisk and provided Potter with a weapon: the Sword of Gryffindor, which the boy used to kill the Basilisk.

Riddle, in the meantime, had gathered enough strength from his Horcrux and his possession of the weakening Ginny Weasley to become partially corporeal. He appeared to Potter and revealed himself to be “Lord Voldemort.” He attempted to kill Potter, but Potter used a fang from the dead Basilisk to stab the diary, destroying the Horcrux and once again flinging Riddle’s soul into the void.

Creation of Sixth Horcrux

Riddle was once more reduced to possessing animals. He returned again to the Continent, hoping to hide from Dumbledore in the forests of Albania where he had taken refuge in the past.

Through the animals he possessed during the ensuing year, he laid a subtle trail, hoping to alert any of his followers to his plight. A network of rodents he deployed to known followers’ homes made contact with Peter Pettigrew, who had been in hiding in his rat Animagus form since the end of the first war. Pettigrew made his way to Albania and became Riddle’s companion, doing his bidding and helping him to grow stronger in preparation for re-encorporating.

Among the animals Riddle possessed during his travels was an enormous viper, a creature he found so delightful that decided to leave her alive and keep her as a companion he called “Nagini.”

With Pettigrew’s help, he eventually became strong enough to possess humans again. During one of his human possessions, he killed Bertha Jorkins, a British Ministry of Magic employee who had had the misfortune to run into Peter Pettigrew during a holiday on the Continent. Pettigrew, recognising the value of a Ministry employee, had brought her to Riddle, who questioned her about various Ministry workings.

Riddle used her murder to create his sixth Horcrux, hiding it within the body of his new companion, Nagini.

Re-encorporation

In 1994, with the aid of Pettigrew and another follower, Barty Crouch, Jr, who had escaped from Azkaban, Riddle returned to Britain, using his hated father’s old, deserted mansion as a base.

During his travels on the Continent, Riddle had discovered a spell that he believed would allow him to return to physical form.

He hatched a plan to place Crouch, disguised as that year’s Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher Alastor Moody, at Hogwarts to befriend and eventually kidnap Harry Potter.

On 24 June 1995, the plan came to fruition.

With Potter captive in the graveyard in which Tom Riddle Sr was buried, the younger Riddle, aided by Crouch and Pettigrew, used blood taken from Potter to complete the Dark spell enabling Riddle’s re-encorporation into a physical body.

When he tried to kill Potter, however, Riddle found that his Killing Curse would not harm him, but rather connected with Potter’s wand to form a spell that allowed the souls of those Riddle had killed with his wand to emerge, affording Potter the chance to get away.

Although Potter again escaped with his life, with a new physical form and the ability to fully wield his formidable magic, Riddle was once again able to gather his old followers and recruit new ones.

He also found that he had gained another weapon: a mental connection with Potter that allowed him to invade the boy’s mind and show him visions, which Riddle was able to manipulate to his advantage.

Second Wizarding War

Riddle’s second war on wizarding Britain had begun in earnest, and it proceeded much as the first had, with an initial period of gathering followers, forming allegiances with other magical creatures, and placing Death Eaters in increasingly important positions within the Ministry of Magic.

Even after Riddle staged a massive break-out of his convicted followers from Azkaban prison, the Ministry of Magic refused to acknowledge the growing threat, becoming openly hostile to Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter, who publicly urged wizarding Britain to fight Voldemort and the Death Eaters.

The Ministry’s denial of Voldemort’s return ended with the so-called Battle of the Department of Mysteries, during which Riddle used his connection with Potter to plant an image of his godfather, Sirius Black, being tortured, luring Potter, along with several friends, to the Ministry.

In the Department of Mysteries, Potter and friends encountered Death Eaters trying (and failing) to steal an orb containing the original prophecy regarding Riddle and Harry Potter, which Voldemort wanted so he could hear the prophecy in full. A battle ensued between Potter’s group, the Death Eaters, and members of the recently reformed Order of the Phoenix.

The battle culminated in a duel in which Dumbledore and Riddle fought directly for the first time since their 1957 skirmish. The fight ended with Riddle and several of his Death Eaters fleeing the Ministry as horrified officials looked on, recognising that the stories of Voldemort’s return were true.

With Voldemort now in the open, wizarding Britain was once again on a wartime footing, and the Ministry harnessed all its forces to capture Voldemort and his Death Eaters while trying to avert general panic.

The Death Eaters captured during the Battle of the Department of Mysteries—including Lucius Malfoy and several others of Riddle’s inner circle—were sent to Azkaban.

Under Riddle’s orders, those who remained free began a campaign of terrorism and guerrilla warfare, staging large attacks against Muggles that the Ministry of Magic had difficulty covering up, and more targeted attacks against influential and important mages, including Amelia Bones, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, who was murdered after a prolonged fight with Riddle himself.

However, the person Riddle most wanted dead—other than Harry Potter, whom he had come to realise would be difficult to kill, thanks to Lily Potter’s blood protections—was Dumbledore. He devised a twofold plan to kill him: first, he assigned Lucius Malfoy’s son, Draco, a seventh-year Hogwarts student, to do the deed as a punishment for his father’s failure during the Battle of the Department of Mysteries; second, Riddle ordered Severus Snape to kill Dumbledore in the likely event that young Malfoy failed, manipulating Draco Malfoy’s mother, Narcissa, into asking Snape to take an Unbreakable Vow to do so.

Dumbledore, learning of the plot, made Snape agree to carry out the murder when the time came, which it soon did. On 30 June 1997, Dumbledore, weakened by a cursed potion, confronted Draco Malfoy on the Astronomy Tower at Hogwarts. When Malfoy was unable to complete the required deed, Snape fulfilled his vow and killed Dumbledore. A hidden Harry Potter witnessed the murder and alerted the authorities, making Snape appear a traitor to the Order of the Phoenix.

Riddle greeted Dumbledore’s death with great joy, declining even to punish Draco Malfoy for failing in his mission. With Dumbledore gone, one of the last obstacles to Riddle obtaining total power over wizarding Britain had fallen.

The final obstacle, Harry Potter, however, presented a dilemma. He had proved maddingly and mysteriously difficult to kill. Why, for example, hadn’t Voldemort’s wand done his bidding when he had tried to kill Harry Potter in the graveyard?

Riddle had his Death Eaters kidnap wandmaker Garrick Ollivander, who confessed under torture that Riddle’s and Potter’s wands contained twin cores—feathers from the same phoenix—and would not work properly against one another.

To get around this problem, Riddle took Lucius Malfoy’s wand, but it proved no more effective, failing to kill Potter during yet another attempt to capture him as he was moved by the Order of the Phoenix from his aunt’s home to a safe house just before his seventeenth birthday.

Quest for the Elder Wand

Riddle’s wand problem made him eager to find an instrument that would work against Potter. He became obsessed with finding the famous Elder Wand, also known as “The Deathstick” and “The Wand of Destiny”, one of the legendary Deathly Hallows. The Hallows were a trio of objects associated with a wizarding legend of three powerful brothers, one of whom manages to cheat Death. The Elder Wand was said to be unbeatable, and Riddle convinced himself that with it, he would be invincible.

Through information coerced from Russian wandmaker Yevgeny Gregorovich (whom he then murdered), Riddle traced the Elder wand to Gellert Grindelwald, who, after his 1945 defeat by Albus Dumbledore, had spent decades imprisoned in Nurmengard Tower in the Alps. Riddle went to Nurmengard to interrogate Grindelwald, who told him that Dumbledore had taken possession of the wand after their duel. Riddle then murdered Grindelwald.

Riddle returned to Britain and went immediately to Hogwarts to open Dumbledore’s tomb, which stood on the grounds. He took the wand buried with Dumbledore, believing that, having “defeated” Dumbledore, he would have the wand’s allegiance.

Fall of the Ministry and Dictatorship of Voldemort

Dumbledore’s demise had rocked the wizarding world and thrown the Ministry of Magic into turmoil. Riddle’s followers within the Ministry took advantage of the chaos to cement their power and ferret out sensitive information on the authorities’ plans to fight Voldemort.

Two months after Dumbledore’s death, the Ministry of Magic fell to Voldemort’s forces in a coup that ended in the assassination of Minister for Magic Rufus Scrimgeour. Death Eaters in the Ministry had Scrimgeour replaced with Pius Thicknesse, the former Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, who was under an Imperius Curse.

The new regime was, essentially, a dictatorship, with Thicknesse as puppet Minister and Voldemort as the true leader of wizarding Britain with the support of his loyal Death Eaters.

They began a programme of “blood cleansing,” placing pure-bloods (and those who claimed to be pure-bloods) in all positions of power and suppressing the rights and freedoms of half-bloods, Muggle-borns, Squibs, and “blood-traitors”.

For Riddle, however, the blood-purity laws were a smokescreen, meant to keep powerful but disenfranchised pure-blood mages passionately attached to Voldemort and his “cause” while he went about the business of acquiring total power.

He continued to place a priority on finding Harry Potter—who was now in hiding—convinced that the prophecy meant that Riddle himself had to cast the curse to end Potter’s life. Groups of low-level Death Eaters were dispatched around the country in groups known as “Snatchers,” whose primary purpose was searching for Potter while they also rounded up “undesireables.”

Relationship with Severus Snape

Riddle’s madness had only grown with his power. His paranoia increased, and he trusted no one, often setting one ally against another in his quest to maintain complete control of his Death Eaters.

His most trusted henchman, however, was Severus Snape, the man who had killed Dumbledore.

He installed Snape as Headmaster of Hogwarts, a position of great influence in the wizarding world and a symbolic act designed to display Voldemort’s total domination of wizarding Britain’s cultural institutions.

To quell the insurgency fomented by students and staff at Hogwarts, Riddle staged a surprise visit to the school in which he had Snape assault Minerva McGonagall—an act that gave Riddle great pleasure, as he had never forgotten nor forgiven her long-ago rejection and her love for Dumbledore.

Riddle ordered Snape to continue to abuse McGonagall for his—Riddle’s—amusement, unaware that she and Snape had formed an alliance to use the opportunity to distract and mislead the Dark Lord. Their ruse paid off one evening when Snape used it to distract Riddle from a plan to capture Harry Potter in Godric’s Hollow long enough for Potter to escape.

In Riddle’s fury, he severely injured Snape and several of his other close Death Eaters, hampering any further efforts to find Potter for several weeks.

Destruction of Horcruxes

Dumbledore had suspected the existence of Voldemort’s Horcruxes and set Harry Potter on a mission to find and destroy them to render Voldemort mortal once again. As Voldemort consolidated his power over wizarding Britain, Harry Potter and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley went into hiding and hunted for the Horcruxes.

The first Horcrux—the diary—had been destroyed when Potter stabbed it with the Basilisk fang in the Chamber of Secrets. In the summer of 1996, Dumbledore destroyed the second—the ring—after locating it in the old Gaunt home in Little Hangleton.

As the second war began, Riddle was unaware that anyone knew about his Horcruxes, although he knew of the diary’s destruction. His soul was, by this time, so fragmented that he did not realise it when Dumbledore destroyed the ring, nor when Ron Weasley destroyed the locket Horcrux in December 1997.

Riddle began to suspect that the Horcruxes were in jeopardy after Potter, Weasley, and Granger broke into Bellatrix Lestrange’s Gringotts vault and took Hufflepuff’s cup. Terrified and infuriated, Riddle immediately set out to strengthen the protections on the remaining Horcruxes.

He did not realise that, when he experienced strong emotion, the mental connection with Potter was strengthened, and in his panic about the safety of his Horcruxes, he had given Potter a glimpse of plans to protect them, revealing to the boy that the final Horcrux was hidden somewhere at Hogwarts.

After alerting Snape that Potter might attempt to sneak into Hogwarts, Riddle visited the Gaunt home, where he had hidden the ring. Finding it missing, he paid a hurried visit to the seaside cave where he believed the locket to be. Moments after discovering it too was gone, he received an alert from the Dark Mark of Death Eater Alecto Carrow: Potter was at Hogwarts.

Battle of Hogwarts

Riddle flew to the Forbidden Forest outside Hogwarts and hurriedly summoned his followers, commanding them to bring with them all the creatures and beings they had co-opted to Voldemort’s service, including werewolves, giants, and those under the Imperius Curse.

He realised that this would be the final showdown between himself and the boy whose continued existence had tormented him for sixteen years. It was fitting, he believed, that it should happen in the very place where he had found his first real home, where he had begun to hone his prodigious magical gifts, and where he had first declared war on Albus Dumbledore.

As his army gathered, Riddle used a variation of the Sonorous Charm to command the inhabitants of Hogwarts to hand Harry Potter over to him. When this didn’t happen, he commanded his forces to begin the attack.

He retreated to the relative safety of the Shrieking Shack in the village of Hogsmeade to await the outcome of the first part of the battle. His plan was to allow his forces to give a show of overwhelming force, frightening Hogwarts’s defenders into giving up and forcing Potter to surrender to him.

Riddle also had a plan for securing the allegiance of the Elder Wand he had stolen from Dumbledore’s tomb. The wand, he had discovered, seemed no different and no more powerful than any other he had wielded, and he was concerned that the magical anomalies he had experienced while attempting to kill Potter in the past would continue unless he was able to channel the full power of the Wand of Destiny.

He had come to believe that the true master of the wand was the man who had actually killed Dumbledore: Severus Snape. Riddle wanted to keep his most trusted and brilliant ally until the final possible moment, so he gave no indication of his plan to kill Snape and win the wand’s allegiance just before confronting Potter.

Riddle called a halt to the battle, goading Potter for “allowing his friends to die for him,” secure in the knowledge that the boy would turn himself in rather than allow Voldemort to continue his vicious assault on the defenders of the Light.

 

During the hiatus, he summoned Snape to the Shrieking Shack. Concerned that the Elder Wand would refuse to kill its true master, Riddle set Nagini on Snape, instructing her to kill him. 

Death

Secure in the belief that the Elder Wand was now truly his and, along with it, the power to finally kill Potter, Riddle left Snape bleeding out on the floor of the shack and took Nagini back to the Forbidden Forest.

He again used the Sonorous Charm to give Hogwarts’s defenders an ultimatum: turn Potter over or suffer total annihilation.

As the deadline drew nearer, Riddle suffered unusual pangs of doubt. Potter was not behaving as he had expected; there was no sign of him in the forest. Just as Riddle became resigned to having to destroy Hogwarts completely and chase the boy down, Potter appeared.

Riddle drew the Elder Wand with complete confidence that his moment of final triumph had come.

When he cast his Avada Kedavra, he destroyed the bit of his soul that resided within Harry Potter, and he was once again flung into an agony-filled void. Instead of darkness, however, light seemed to surround him, and he was confused and horrified to hear voices that sounded like Potter and Dumbledore murmuring around him.

Was he dead, like Potter and Dumbledore?

The answer came in the form of more pain, physical this time, and the tentative and concerned voice of Bellatrix Lestrange. Riddle found himself on the forest floor, every bone in his body aching and his head splitting with pain.

Determined not to let his followers see any weakness, he angrily rebuffed offers of help, pretending to be fine. The motionless form of Harry Potter lying across from him was reassuring, but Riddle was too terrified to touch the boy, lest it cause him more pain, so he ordered Narcissa Malfoy to ascertain that Potter was dead.

Her avowal that the boy was, indeed, dead erased much of the pain and fear Riddle felt. In his madness and paranoia, Riddle believed the death of Harry Potter would be enough to make the defenders stop fighting, so he and his followers marched on Hogwarts with the ostensibly dead Potter carried in the arms of the captive Rubeus Hagrid.

The sound of Minerva McGonagall’s scream when she saw Potter’s corpse filled Riddle with pleasure, and he allowed himself a few moments to envision what he would do to the witch who had defied him for so long and who had been Dumbledore’s consort and helpmeet.

His pleasure waned, however, when the expected collapse of his opponents failed to occur. When Neville Longbottom stepped forward in challenge, Riddle knew he had to make an example of him to quash any other shows of defiance.

Disaster struck as Riddle attempted to burn Longbottom to death by crowning him with the Hogwarts Sorting Hat and setting it aflame. At that moment, reinforcements from the wizarding world at large, Hogwarts’s house-elves, and the Forbidden Forest’s herd of Centaurs arrived and joined the Hogwarts defenders in attacking the Death Eaters. Riddle joined the fray, firing curses at everyone around him.

With the distraction, Riddle’s Body-Bind Curse on Longbottom failed, and Riddle only turned back to the boy in time to see him use the Sword of Gryffindor to slice through Nagini’s neck, destroying Voldemort’s final Horcrux.

Riddle had little time to react to this unthinkable calamity because he was immediately set upon by Minerva McGonagall, who began to fire curse after curse at him. As Riddle knew from experience, she was a formidable duellist, but in his long years of study, he had developed unique protective charms of immense power. He used them to remain relatively safe as McGonagall was joined by Auror Kingsley Shacklebolt and Riddle’s old mentor, Horace Slughorn, each of whom was duelling to kill.

The need to defend himself from these three powerful opponents rendered Riddle unable to react as his forces began to flag and retreat under the overwhelming forces of the Light. He watched helplessly out of the corner of his eye when Bellatrix Lestrange fell to Molly Weasley—a housewitch!

His anger exploded in a bolus of magic that he didn’t even intend, and it sent McGonagall, Shacklebolt, and Slughorn flying through the air.

As he turned to point the Elder Wand at the Weasley woman, intending to obliterate her for killing his most loyal follower, a powerful shield charm appeared, seemingly from nowhere, and Riddle could only stare in disbelief as Harry Potter appeared in front of him.

In that moment, Riddle realised the Elder Wand had betrayed him yet again and that he would not be able to use it to kill Potter. He attempted to buy himself time to formulate a new plan by taunting Potter, but Potter’s calm declarations about the power of love, Dumbledore’s strength, and Snape’s betrayal further unnerved him.

Potter’s admonition to try to feel remorse struck more fear into Riddle’s heart, as he recalled what he had felt when he had “killed” Potter in the Forbidden Forest.

Riddle knew he was finally defeated when Potter confirmed that the Elder Wand would never truly be Voldemort’s, and that he, Potter, was its true master. When Riddle raised the Elder Wand to face Potter for the final time, his Avada Kedavra was more a shriek of despair than a curse, but it held enough power to rebound and strike Riddle dead.

McGonagall had Riddle’s corpse stored alone, away from the bodies of the other dead, at Hogwarts until the day after the battle, when the temporary Ministry claimed it. To avoid creating a “shrine” where future sympathisers could visit it, interim Minister for Magic Kingsley Shacklebolt Transfigured the body into a pile of pamphlets resembling the one created by Dolores Umbridge for the puppet Ministry, “Mudbloods and the Dangers They Pose to a Peaceful Pure-Blood Society.” He then divided the pamphlets into three stacks and instructed several Ministry employees to destroy the pamphlets, without telling them what they had been, so no one else ever knew what had become of Riddle’s body.

Aftermath of the War

With the death of their Dark Lord, Riddle’s surviving Death Eaters fled. Many were subsequently arrested and tried for war crimes. Many received life sentences in Azkaban, which was reformed and the Dementors removed and banished to the cave in which Riddle had hidden the locket Horcrux. The entrance to the cave was then magically sealed and warded.

Physical Appearance

As a youth, Tom was considered very handsome, with dark brown hair and eyes and fair skin.

He grew to be tall (5’11”) and slender as a young man, however his appearance changed as he experimented with Dark magic.

By 1957, his features had begun to blur and become less distinct and his skin grew exceedingly pale. His eyes became permanently bloodshot.

After his re-encorporation, his appearance was scarcely human. He had no hair anywhere on his body, and his nose had become nothing more than a pair of slits in his face. His skin had become nearly translucent, and his eyes held scarlet irises that dilated vertically.

He rarely had to take sustenance, sleep, or empty his bladder or bowels, and he was unable to have an erection or ejaculate.

Personality & Traits

From childhood, Tom Riddle displayed narcissistic and sociopathic personality traits. Although the adults at Wool’s Orphanage, where he grew up, were usually kind, the general atmosphere of neglect and lack of real love that predominated did little to ameliorate Tom’s personality disorders.

As he grew, Tom developed a grandiose sense of his own importance and talents, and he felt no empathy for others.

Tom’s only real interests were in people and things he though could help him achieve his aims of subjugating others and aggrandising himself.

He had no true sexual interest in men or women, but at an early age he learned to enjoy the physical and emotional pain he could inflict through humiliation of others, and when he attained physical maturity, this extended to his sexual activities.

His experiments with Dark magic, combined with his existing mental illness, made him increasingly paranoid and, in his later years, began to rob him of his previously good control over his anger and fear.

Splitting his soul into eight parts made him even more emotionally unstable, and he frequently lashed out even at those who were most loyal and useful to him.

Possessions

Wand

Tom was chosen by his original wand, made from yew and a feather from the same phoenix that would later donate the core for Harry Potter’s wand, when he visited Ollivander’s in Diagon Alley. It was among the first wands made and sold by Garrick Ollivander after he took over from his father, Gervaise, in 1939.

Although he replaced it with the Elder Wand, Riddle continued to carry his original wand with him. It was destroyed with Voldemort’s corpse.

Diary

Tom received a leather-bound diary from the matron of Wool’s Orphanage on his sixteenth birthday. He would later use it to record Dark spells he’d learned and, eventually, as a storage vessel for his first Horcrux.

It was destroyed by Harry Potter with a Basilisk tooth in the Chamber of Secrets.

Dragon Necklace

In December 1943, Tom purchased a silver necklace featuring an ouroboros pendant depicting the legendary Norse sea dragon Jörmungand, as a Christmas gift for Minerva McGonagall, who refused it.

He kept the necklace and later attempted to leave it on Minerva’s doorstep, but it was taken from him by Dumbledore after a duel in 1957. Believing the necklace cursed, Dumbledore destroyed the necklace using Fiendfyre.

Marvolo Gaunt’s Ring

A Gaunt family heirloom, said to originally have belonged to Salazar Slytherin and, later, Cadmus Peverell, the ring was made of gold set with a black stone. The stone, unbeknownst to Riddle, was the Resurrection Stone, one of the legendary Deathly Hallows, which had the power to recall the spirits of dead loved ones to its owner.

Riddle housed his second Horcrux in the ring. Dumbledore used the Sword of Gryffindor to destroy the Horcrux after finding it hidden in the Gaunt home. Dumbledore would wear the damaged ring until shortly before his death, when he removed the stone to leave it for Harry Potter. The ring itself, he destroyed.

Hufflepuff’s Cup

A golden cup created by Helga Hufflepuff, it was passed down through her family, ending up in the possession of her descendant, Hepzibah Smith, who showed it to Riddle. He murdered her, created his third Horcrux, and hid it in the cup, which he stored in Bellatrix Lestrange’s Gringotts vault.

It was destroyed by a Basilisk fang wielded by Hermione Granger during the Battle of Hogwarts.

Slytherin's Locket

The locket, said to have belonged to Salazar Slytherin, was passed down through the Gaunt family and stolen by Merope Gaunt, who sold it to Caractacus Burke after she was deserted by Tom Riddle Sr.

Hepzibah Smith purchased it from Burke. Riddle stole it when he murdered her for it and Hufflepuff’s cup. He used the locket to house his fourth Horcrux. It was taken from its hiding place by Regulus Black and subsequently stolen from the Black home by Mundungus Fletcher, who was forced to give it to Dolores Umbridge.

Hermione Granger took it from Umbridge during the break-in at the Ministry of Magic, and it was subsequently destroyed by Ron Weasley using the Sword of Gryffindor.

Ravenclaw's Diadem

Originally the creation of Rowena Ravenclaw, the diadem was crafted from Goblin silver and a large sapphire. It was stolen by Ravenclaw’s daughter, Helena, and hidden in a forest in Albania, where Riddle later found it. He hid his fifth Horcrux in it and put it in the Room of Requirement at Hogwarts.

The diadem was destroyed, along with the Horcrux it housed, by Fiendfyre during the Battle of Hogwarts.

Magical Abilities & Skills

Parseltongue

Tom Riddle was born with the rare ability to speak Parseltongue, the language of snakes. He discovered this ability when he was a child and would use it to persuade snakes in the small garden of Wool’s Orphanage to frighten the other children. The garden snakes soon learned to steer clear of the odd boy who spoke to them, as his instructions to “play” with the other children often resulted in the snakes being killed by an orphanage staff member.

Dark Magic

Tom made a lifelong study of many branches of Dark magic, particularly magic dealing with the secrets of life and death. He learned to create Horcruxes and Inferi, as well as many esoteric curses and spells intended to harm or ensnare others.

He became a master of the Imperius and Cruciatus Curses, inventing many variations of the latter to amuse himself and his followers.

Mind Magic

Tom’s unusual magical strength and his determination to hone his powers allowed him to excel in this most difficult branch of magic. He easily learned Occlumency as a first-year at Hogwarts and had become proficient at its more difficult (and strictly regulated) sister art, Legilimency, by his fifth year, eventually mastering the skill and using it to great advantage with allies and enemies alike.

He was also adept at Memory Charms, although he thought those beneath him and generally preferred to leave his victims with their unpleasant memories intact.

Invisibility

Riddle was one of the few mages—Dumbledore was another—to master the ability to become fully invisible without the use of an Invisibility Cloak.

Flying

Because he never became comfortable using a broom, Riddle developed the ability to fly without a broom, magic carpet, or other enchanted object, another feat achieved by few others except Severus Snape.

Animagus Transformation

As a teen, Tom secretly tried and failed to become an Animagus, possibly because he lacked the genetic mutation necessary for full transformation.

Wandless Magic

Tom learned the same basic wandless magic, such as Summoning and lighting charms, taught to all Hogwarts students, but he found it surprisingly difficult. He later dismissed it as a “primitive” form of magic, inherently inferior to wand magic, although he could perform some wandless magic when necessary.

Languages

Of necessity, Riddle studied languages related to the magic he wanted to learn and became proficient in Latin. During his travels, he picked up smatterings of German, Magyar, Romani, Ancient Greek, Aramaic, Persian, and Demotic and Coptic Egyptian, but he had no interest in learning to speak them other than what he needed to know to master or alter specific spells. Neither did he have any interest in music, art, or any other skill he considered non-magical or “beneath” him.

Appears In

Danger! Here Be Spoilers!

If you haven’t read the series through Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart, there will be some spoilers, so read at your own risk.