"Tell me about salvation," Tom said.
The Mudblood looked up at him. "There are dictionaries in the library," she said.
He settled next to her. She'd spread a small blanket out over the lawn and had books laid out around her. She was, he'd noticed, never without books, and what books they were. He picked up one now. History of Blood Magic.
She sat in class and never volunteered an answer, never called attention to herself. Her marks were determinedly average. He never say her laughing with girlfriends or flirting with boys. She was a dowdy, dumpy, average bit of filth with no friends and no accomplishments and she read the most advanced books he'd ever seen a student read.
The darkest books, if truth be told. Not that he was ever that interested in truth.
"Do you even understand this?" he asked, flipping through the pages.
"It's basic but it's good background information," she said, her voice flat. She reached to him and went to pluck the book out of his fingers but the moment her hand was in reach he dropped the book and grabbed her wrist.
Physical contact made legilimancy easier.
It didn't matter. He still couldn't broach her mind.
"If you do not let go of me right now – " she began and he laughed.
"You'll do what?" he said, squeezing his hand more tightly around her thin wrist. "Scream? Do you think anyone will come to your rescue? You're sitting with me. They'll all turn away and hope I don't decide to sit with them next."
She laughed back at him. Actually laughed and he fumed at her lack of fear until he realized his hand was starting to burn. Holding her was like pressing his hand against an iron and he gasped and let her go, and, looking down at his palm, looked for the blisters he was sure must be there.
"I told you not to touch me," was all she said.
He watched her in the library. She'd pulled advanced books off the shelf and was reading with obvious pleasure. She made little noises when she came to a passage that interested her and made quick, neat notes in some bound parchment in front of her on the table. When she left he picked her books off the cart where she'd left them.
Advanced Occlumentic Techniques.
Safe Methods for Incorporating Elemental Forces
Sacrificial Rites and Carnality
He set the books back down and gazed thoughtfully at the door she'd exited through.
He shoved her bag out of his way with a contemptuous kick.
"Don't touch my things." Her voice was low and furious and he looked at her filthy, Mudblood face in surprise. People didn't cross him. They simply didn't. Teachers – fools that they were – saw the polite, brilliant boy. He was their prodigy, considered all the more remarkable because he was an orphan. Students, however, knew to stay out of his way.
People who crossed him got hurt.
People who made him angry got very hurt indeed.
None of them ever spoke of it to anyone, of course. He burned terror into their brains even as he made their nerves scream and not a single one of his victims ever spoke about what he did to them.
The other students knew anyway.
This stupid Mudblood, however, didn't seem to know any better. He smiled at her, almost excited to be able to correct her misunderstanding about her place in his world. It had been a long time since anyone had dared to even look at him the wrong way. The girl sharing a desk with his newest victim edged away and shrank down into herself as if, by making herself as small as possible, she might escape his notice.
"Don't even think about it," the Mudblood said. "Touch me and you'll wish you hadn't. Touch my things again and you'll wish you hadn't."
"I'm not sure we've been properly introduced," he said, holding out his hand. "I'm Tom Riddle."
"I know who you are," she said with contempt evident in her tone, not taking his hand. "Voldemort. Would-be Dark Lord."
He reached out toward her mind and found a wall of solid loathing.
"Dumbledore was clearly touched when he came up with this little project," she said and Tom wondered whether the emotion that walled her mind off was for him or the Transfiguration professor. "You're already a monster. There's nothing to save."
He dropped the hand she'd refused to touch and narrowed his eyes. "Salvation?" he asked. "Did someone add a Theology elective to the curriculum and not tell me?" His tone was mocking. "I'd love to learn all about salvation."
Tom looked at the cowering girl next to her then back at the bushy-haired problem. She'd already dismissed him and was skimming her notes, highlighting a question she had about the subject with her quill. She'd dismissed him. No one, and he meant no one, was allowed to do that. He ended conversations when he was done and not before. "I'm sorry I kicked your bag," he said, trying to force her attention back to him.
She didn't even look up. "Your lying skills need work," she said. "Go away, Tom Riddle."
He hated her. That fucking filthy, disgusting Mudblood. Raised by Muggles, a life spent wallowing in dirt and disease. They all needed to be wiped out like the vermin they were. People talked about compassion but no one has compassion for the flea when the Black Death breathes down their necks.
She was that flea. She carried pestilence in her very being, in her blood. She and all her ilk needed to die before she – before they - could spread their rot. She needed to be burned away, like rotting flesh.
That her magic was so powerful she'd traveled here from the future just made her that much more of an abomination.
He hated her.
She stepped into the portal armed with knowledge and fire, shaped by desperate men to reshape the world.
She was their Hail Mary.