***WARNING: Spoilers for all 7 books***
Dear wizard of the future-
If you're reading this, I presume you studied History of Magic at Hogwarts or some other Wizarding institution. You have studied the second wizarding war, and you will have heard about me. Allow me to introduce myself- my name is Tom Riddle, and I am attempting to change the Wizarding World for the better- although if you are reading this, I was unsuccessful and am no longer here. What I tell you today will completely change your perception of everything that happened during that time.
My story starts, as you are aware, at the orphanage. I was left there after my father tragically died of a Muggle ailment. My mother loved me, but she was so distraught by my father's passing that she couldn't take care of me, which was how I ended up in the situation I did. The rumours that I was conceived under a love potion are just that- misinformation deliberately spread to discredit my family. My father loved magic to the point where he wished he was a wizard himself, and he loved my mother dearly.
It was true that I gained control over my magical abilities early on, and it was also true that, on a couple of occasions, I used them to get back at the children who bullied me. However, I always regretted it. I would lie in bed at night ashamed of what I'd done, and I stopped doing it pretty soon after that.
I first met Albus Dumbledore when I was 11, and he introduced me to the magical world. He seemed nice at first- I can genuinely say I liked him, even admired him. He had a kind smile and a constant twinkle in his eye, and he introduced me to a world of magic. He was the beginning of what would be the best seven years of my life.
The first time I stepped into the great hall and donned the sorting hat, I didn't know about any of the houses or what they stood for. I didn't know that there were different blood statuses, and when I was sorted into Slytherin, I had no concept of how unusual that was for someone like me. One fateful day in the common room, about three days after I'd first arrived at Hogwarts, I made the mistake of mentioning that my father was a Muggle. The bullying began effective immediately, and it was relentless. For months, the thought played round and round in my head: what am I doing in Slytherin, if I'm a half blood? I clearly don't belong here. It put pressure on me- pressure to be the very best at everything. I tried so hard...staying up all night every night studying, joining the Quidditch team and pushing myself so hard in both practices and matches that I was always aching and had more than a few injuries. I joined every single club and society at Hogwarts, showed up to every single meeting and made sure to actively participate. If my grades were less than flawless, I was a failure. If I lost a Quidditch match, I was a failure. If I arrived on time to a club meeting instead of early, I was a failure. By the middle of second year, I was completely burnt out. And the bullying didn't go away. Some people stopped, but the worst of the bullies stuck at it.
However, there was something that sustained me through all this. In first year, I began to research Salazar Slytherin in an effort to find out why I was in his house- it started as something I did on the side, and grew into an obsession. It took me ages to find the information I so desperately wanted, but, near the end of second year, I finally found it. An old family tree of the ancient wizard bloodlines, and I finally realised why I was in Slytherin- because I was his direct descendent. Of course, the "heir of Slytherin" myth is complete nonsense, and I never once believed that I was this person of misconstrued legend, but next time the usual suspects came at me, I used that line on them. "You dare treat the heir of Slytherin with such disrespect? Know your place!" It was foolish schoolboy nonsense, but at the time, I thought it was pretty funny. They all just stood there staring, rooted in their place, mouths open. Looking back, I think it was just because they were expecting me to say "I'll tell on you to Slughorn" instead. Though it felt good at the time, it was a fatal mistake, because Dumbledore overheard it, and would use it against me in years to come. When I showed them the proof, I began to gain their respect.
I could not stop researching, I went deeper and deeper down the rabbithole, and ended up finding information that was kept hidden from the general public for years. Let me just tell you that everything you've been told about the four founders was wrong. Slytherin was not evil, or into the Dark Arts, and he didn't hate Muggles, like everyone said, and which was a common belief at the time. He was simply someone who had seen behind the curtain, who was trying to expose the corruption of the wizarding establishment- and the other three founders inevitably sided with the mainstream narrative. At the time, most people were in two minds about Muggles. The traditionalists thought Muggles were the scum of the Earth, and everyone with even a drop of Muggle blood in their veins was somehow "lesser." This is, of course, the wrong way of viewing things. The so-called "progressives" (which the remaining founders, especially Gryffindor, strongly aligned themselves with) believed Muggles had done nothing wrong and wanted to absolve them of all their wrongs which is, yet again, not the right way of viewing things, as Muggles certainly did terrible wrongs unto wizardkind. Slytherin was a truly independent thinker and the only one with a reasonable, nuanced view on the subject. He was accepting of Muggles and believed half bloods and muggleborns deserved a place in the wizarding world. He was aware that these witches and wizards weren't at fault, and were even in danger as the witch hunts hadn't quite died down. He had the vision and foresight to see that one day in the future, we may no longer have need for the Statute of Secrecy, as Muggles would see magic as some fantastical, desirable myth and most would be pleased at its existence. Slytherin envisioned a world where Muggles and wizards alike lived side by side in harmony. However, he wasn't about to absolve them of all their wrongs- he still very much held them accountable for the generational trauma they've caused wizardkind. Analogous in the Muggle world may be how African Americans still hold white people accountable, and haven't absolved them of all their wrongs.
I suspect that now you'll be wondering about the basilisk. Well, as I dug deeper, I found that he never had a plan to set in on Hogwarts, and the part about his "one true heir," as mentioned before, was complete fabricated nonsense. In fact, it wasn't even his creature- it was a monster which had been set loose by the traditionalist wing of the Ministry in an attempted genocide of Muggles, Muggleborns and half bloods. All four founders were opposed to this, and decided to do something about it. Slytherin, being the most adept Parselmouth of his time, managed to coax it into a chamber under Hogwarts, where it was locked away for safekeeping. That's right, Slytherin saved people by putting the basilisk in the chamber of secrets. It was never meant to be able to get out, but I'll get to that soon. Slytherin's leaving Hogwarts occurred after this, not due to a disagreement instigated by him, but a political shift towards the progressive and the growing unrest between him and the other three founders. In the end, they disowned him because of his, in Godric Gryffindor's words, "backwards and twisted views," and told him to "never come within a million miles of the school again." And Slytherin being the "pureblood house?" Remember, the sorting hat belonged to Gryffindor, and this was to spite him and perpetuate the rumours. Pureblood bigots and supremacists were sorted into Slytherin. And then I ended up there.
When I was in sixth year, disaster struck. Rubeus Hagrid, that clumsy Gryffindor, accidentally punched a gigantic hole in the wall of the girl's bathroom- Merlin knows what he was doing in there. He was clumsy enough to fall through one of the pipes and ended up in the Chamber of Secrets (a ridiculous name coined by Gryffindor, by the way). The basilisk hadn't eaten in ages and almost ate Hagrid- luckily, I happened to be around when this happened and I followed him down the pipe and into the chamber. Even more luckily, I speak Parseltongue, so I was able to plead with the snake. This myth that's circulating that it "answers only to me" is ridiculous- for most of our conversation, the creature was entirely out of my control! I had to try so hard and be more persuasive than I ever had in my life- in the end, I finally managed to persuade it to spare both me and Hagrid, but then it slithered past me into Hogwarts. Because I'd researched it and knew a secret way out, I got Hagrid out of there and back to his common room, then rushed back to the girls' bathroom- only to find I was too late. I got there just in time to see Myrtle drop dead at the basilisk's glance. Once again, I had to persuade the snake to spare us all and go back to the chamber where it belonged. At this point, people were gathering- some of them my fellow Slytherins, people who had bullied me in the past. They had already begun to respect me after finding out I was Slytherin's descendent, and I was already beginning to influence their opinions on Muggles, Muggleborns and half bloods. But this incident just solidified that respect.
Unfortunately, Dumbledore was also present. In the end, Hagrid told the truth about the incident and accepted his expulsion- which was unfair, as he didn't do it deliberately. Dumbledore, however, decided that I was responsible and argued for my expulsion. I'm the first to confess I was partially responsible, and I'll always deeply regret not being able to spare the girl. At the time, I told them it was both of us or neither of us- Hagrid and I were both unintentionally complicit in Myrtle's death. But Dumbledore had argued for exclusively my expulsion. Dippet dismissed both mine and Dumbledore's complaints- he said to me: "Don't be silly- you saved us all!" and decided to only expel Hagrid. I feel deeply sorry for what happened to Hagrid, and although I told him before he was expelled, I still feel like I couldn't express my condolences enough. And as I'd gone deeper into my research, I had begun to trust Dumbledore less and less. But this was when I fully realised how dangerous he was.
Now that we're approaching the topic of my life after Hogwarts, I think it's time I address a couple of glaringly obvious pieces of misinformation that I haven't addressed yet. No, I never called myself Lord Voldemort. That was a nickname invented by Dumbledore in a newspaper column he wrote in order to ridicule me. I would certainly be able to laugh about it were it not for what it became. If I'm recalling correctly, the column was actually about something else, and only mentioned me in a passing aside: I, of course, would be considerably more well rested if not for the now infamous misdeeds of one young Tom Riddle, or, as I like to refer to him, young Lord Vol de Mort- for, though he has no qualms with causing the death of others, he fears his own death above all things. Voldemort, of course, is old French for "flight from death." Which brings me to the "misdeeds" Dumbledore mentioned- and in particular, the most preposterous claim that was made against me. All, of course, are blatant lies fabricated for the purpose of character assassination, skilfully constructed by Dumbledore and the Ministry, to appear that I was really behind them. Everyone who was reportedly killed by my followers and I was actually killed by them. And- now we get to the preposterous claim I mentioned, the one which makes me shudder in anger just to think of it. Never in my wildest nightmares would I ever dream of making a horcrux-- let alone making six of them! After all he did, this is the one thing I will never forgive Dumbledore for.
How was Dumbledore able to know me well enough to even make up these lies in the first place? Well, let me tell you- in my first two years at Hogwarts, I used to confide in him. I told him things that I've never told anyone else, and never will again. Around the beginning of my second year I was thinking about death a lot. It wasn't a lifelong obsession and debilitating fear like Dumbledore painted it to be, it was just a short time in my life that passed relatively quickly, where I was thinking about it more than usual and wondering what happens after you die. I definitely brought it up with Dumbledore more than once- he, of course, would offer some platitude like "death is an adventure" or something. That didn't satisfy me- I was in a phase of my life where I wanted answers, and for everything to be certain. One time I vented to him about it for over an hour- it was one of the last times I talked to him in that way. For that reason, he might not have been aware I'd moved on- that these morbid thoughts were just a product of the stress and pressure I was already under at the time, due to my need to prove myself to the bullies. But that still didn't give him the right to make such claims, and to defame me in such a way.
But why would he do that, you might ask? What motive did he have for all this? It was because I saw right through him. I had discovered the truth, and was a threat to his authority. The Order Of The Phoenix wasn't started because of me- it had been running in secret all along. On its agenda was ruling the world, and enslavement and mind control of wizards and muggles alike. The Order and The Ministry had always been planning some kind of cataclysmic disaster in Britain to gain footing- and when I came along, a truth seeker who was actively resisting their oppression, they decided to use me as the scapegoat. It didn't help that around that time, I had been in a terrible house fire which left me with disfigured features.
Now, we get to Harry Potter. The baby that I was apparently so scared of that I brought about my own downfall because of him, and the real reason a lot of you are reading this. Now there was a puppet of Dumbledore if there ever was one. Forget the fact that Dumbledore was the one who killed his parents and cut that famous scar into his forehead- although he had no qualms with using Avada Kedavra, there was no way he was going to risk his precious puppet's life. That night, I received a howler from Dumbledore, saying that I must go into hiding under threat of death.
In a haste thinking where to lie low, I picked Albania. Contrary to popular belief as the truth always is, I still had a body, and was joined by some of my loyal followers- friends I'd known since school. As you've probably guessed by now, Dumbledore was the one who called us "Death Eaters," not us- we called ourselves the Wizarding Resistance. We didn't give up- although we were in hiding, and no longer officially existed, we kept working towards our ultimate goal- the defeat of Dumbledore and the Order, the uncovering of the truth, and world peace for wizards and Muggles alike.
Further more, I never had anything to do with Quirinus Quirrell or Ginny Weasley. Quirrell sought the stone for himself- he was just a foolish young man seeking immortality. Ginny Weasley was a Parseltongue herself and working for Dumbledore, who opened the chamber and had the basilisk petrify people, specifically so Harry Potter could step in and play the hero. Dumbledore made sure Ginny was in possession of a diary with "T.M. Riddle" written on it- a diary which has never come into my possession, and allowed her to somehow blame me for what she did.
We returned to England at the end of Harry's fourth year in Hogwarts. That much is true, but not the part about me being resurrected at a graveyard- that is pure outlandish fantasy. Cedric Diggory was killed by Harry Potter in the maze- that's right, Harry killed- and shielded with Harry's Invisibility cloak for an extended period of time to make it appear that they weren't there. We continued to work underground to try and bring about change. Dumbledore found out relatively quickly, and played the dissenting voices of Harry and the Ministry against each other to cause division and confusion. That night at the end of Harry's fifth year, I was leading the Resistance on a top secret infiltration of the Ministry. Dumbledore found us out, and sent Harry- all that nonsense about me being able to see into his head is just that: nonsense. The last thing I wanted was him there. Dumbledore put him up to it.
So that night, we were found out, and it has become just like it was before we left the country. The Ministry and The Order completely terrorising everyone- dressing up in hoods and killing thousands, pretending to be so called "Death Eaters." The myth that we managed to overthrow the Ministry is just that- we don't have a chance. The Order has gained even more control, and Pious Thicknesse is Imperiused by Dumbledore, not me. It just got even worse, and even harder.
I have something to make clear: although Dumbledore insists that I don't understand love, I do believe it is the most powerful thing in existence, and is the only thing that can save the world. Not in the way that it supposedly saved Harry Potter in his fabricated origins- love can't literally save you from the killing curse. However, love for all wizards and Muggles- all people- is the only way of achieving the grand and beautiful vision of the world that I have held onto all my life.
Inside sources tell me of the next terrifying story they're planning to push- that Harry Potter will sacrifice himself to save the world from the great threat that I am. That he'll somehow, miraculously, die and be resurrected, and that- I shudder to think of it- I had made him into a horcrux. Of course, that isn't how it will play out. As I mentioned before, your image of Harry Potter as a boy who wouldn't hurt a fly is wrong. He has no qualms with killing, and will be using Avada Kedavra on me if that fateful day comes- certainly not Expelliarmus, as it's reported the general public will be told. And my old fear of death had been reawakened- not a fear for my own life, but of the death of the Resistance. The death of all we stood for, and everything we hoped to achieve. Unless you, dear future wizard, decide to take up this mantle, and fight for the freedom and peace of all humankind.