Author's Note: No idea where this came from, why it's here, or what category to put it in (is it a parody? Is it a comedy? Is it even vaguely amusing? I have no idea), but it sprang fully formed into my head and I decided to post it. Just as a counterpoint to the intelligent, scheming-Tom of One Flogged Horse. Because lets face it - Voldemort was an idiot.
Tom Marvolo Riddle was sitting in a corner of the Slytherin Common Room, scowling as he scribbled furiously across a piece of parchment. The page itself was almost completely covered in black ink. Indeed, it was so well covered that one could be forgiven for not initially noticing the yellow of the parchment below. Tom's chosen corner was the furthest from the fireplaces and the only corner of the room that was not blessed with a flaming torch on the wall; he'd been forced to bring a candle over to give him light enough to see his scribbles.
All of his fellow Slytherins were intelligent enough to realise that his position and expression meant that Tom did not want to be bothered because he was doing something VERY IMPORTANT. The brighter among them were sharp enough to note that he evidently wanted everyone to know that he was doing something VERY IMPORTANT. Otherwise he would've just gone into his dormitory where he could be alone, gone to the library where people would be kicked out for attempting to bother him, or gone to one of the hundreds of unused rooms in the castle where it would take the average person about four hours to find him in the first place. Sadly, these students who were perceptive enough to take note of Tom Riddle's drama-queen tendencies, were also astute enough to realise what would become of them if they dared mention them in his presence. Their scathing remarks and caustic barbs (that would have almost certainly made the entire Common Room fall about laughing at such devastating witticisms) were therefore reduced to ironic glances between friends. This did not have quite the same effect, but was altogether preferable to being cursed by Tom Riddle and having to explain the scars to their grandchildren in eighty years' time.
The students of Slytherin House had their priorities in order, thankyouverymuch.
The table nearest Tom was currently occupied by four of his most loyal friends. Eugene Nott, Elmo Avery, Maximus Mulciber and that weird guy, Greyback, who smelt funny and nobody really liked, were all sitting with their chairs turned to face their leader, expressions of intent on their faces.
Well, three of them were; Nott was reading a book.
Much like Tom's melodramatic bent, his sycophantic friends were rarely mentioned in normal conversation within the Slytherin Common Room. All four of them were routinely tripped in hallways, however, just for being annoying and a disgrace to the House. Well, three of them were; Nott was amicably recognised with a polite nod and a knowing smile from a few of the girls. This was another thing rarely mentioned in normal conversation.
Nott only looked up from his book when the clock in the corner struck ten. "He's still at it then, is he?" he asked the table at large, while sending his leader a highly-critical once-over.
"Mm-hmm," Mulciber confirmed, nodding as he spoke but still not taking his eyes off Tom Riddle. "Three hours now," he added.
Nott made a small noise of acknowledgement and then went back to his book: 'Using Your Demented Leader's Unsustainable And Ultimately Idiotic Ambitions To Your Own Advantage!! - And Other Life Skills'.
Avery pulled his chair an inch closer to Tom, a look of deepest admiration on his face. He had repeated this action so frequently over the previous three hours that his chair was now six feet away from the table he was supposed to be sitting at. "I wonder what he's thinking?" he asked, his tone eerily reminiscent of an eight-year-old girl staring at a Quidditch idol in Nott's opinion.
"It's probably another one of his diabolical schemes," Mulciber answered confidently.
Nott very nearly remarked that not every scheme of Tom Riddle's had to be classed as "diabolical", merely because it was Tom Riddle's. The Great Pudding Caper in second year, for example, had hardly been Machiavellian - Tom had just wanted some pudding, that was all. Fortuitously, Nott remembered just in time that he was supposed to be a brainless minion and went back to his book. It was exceedingly difficult for him to maintain pretences under such conditions, but Nott felt he did a passable job of it.
Oblivious to Nott's inner-turmoil, Avery agreed with Mulciber. "Yeah, you're right. Probably diabolical," he said. "Really diabolical. Fiendish even."
"Yeah! Fiendish." Mulciber nodded, clearly enthused.
Greyback just grunted in agreement. He wasn't really listening. He was staring hungrily across the room, imagining Olive Hornby as a giant pork chop, but he'd found it helpful in the past to grunt in agreement with whatever Mulciber said.
At that moment, Tom stopped writing. He put the quill down and frowned at the piece of paper in front of him. For a few minutes, he seemed to be sounding something out to himself - something of the utmost importance if his twisted expression of concentration was anything to go by.
Mulciber and Avery's anticipation grew to almost painful levels. Greyback had started imagining side-dishes. Nott… hadn't actually looked up from his book yet, but would have probably contorted his face into an expression of mild interest by that point - if he were able to work up enough concern for the situation, of course. Something he would surely have been able to do, were he not utterly absorbed in a chapter entitled 'What To Do When Your Demented Leader Sends You On A Suicide Mission And Your Comrades Are Effortlessly Incapacitated By Fifteen-Year-Olds".
The tension at their table was, quite clearly, palpable.
Tom finally stopped sounding things out and instead simply regarded the piece of paper in his hand for a few seconds. Slowly, ever so slowly, the expression of concentration segued into one of satisfaction. Tom himself appeared to be swelling with self-approbation. The air of complacency he was emitting was so powerful that even Nott and Greyback threw a glance in his general direction. "AHA!" Tom exclaimed as he leapt to his feet, much to the alarm of people who didn't think anyone outside 1940s radio shows actually exclaimed 'aha' for any reason other than deliberate mockery. "Aha!" he repeated. "I've got it! I've finally got it!"
"What? What have you got, Tom?" Avery and Mulciber squealed delightedly.
"Huh?" Greyback said dazedly, as Olive Hornby disappeared up the stairs to her dormitory, taking the imaginary side-dishes with her.
"Pardon?" Nott inquired politely, as he deigned to look up from his book.
"Would you shut up, you inconsiderate prat, I'm trying to do some homework he-…oh, er… heh, heh,… Sorry, Tom. Go ahead," said everyone else in the room who possessed a healthy survival instinct but was not a complete brownnoser.
Tom ignored all of them as he strutted over to the table occupied by his minions. "I've got it!" he repeated. "You. Move," he added disinterestedly, jerking his thumb at Mulciber.
Mulciber leapt up and offered Tom his chair. He managed to stop himself before he actually curtsied, but a deferential head-bow was in order nonetheless. Most people in the room filed away this almost-curtsy in their memory banks, and vowed to lock Mulciber in one of the lower level dungeons as punishment for such a revolting display.
Tom was not quite done fiddling with the seating arrangements, however. "Greyback? Swap seats with Avery."
"Er… why?" Greyback asked, still slightly confused as to what was going on, as Avery instantly got to his feet. You see, Fenrir Greyback was destined to become an uncivilised beast of a man, so clearly he was the only one heathenish enough to require actual reasons for doing things. In civilised society, most people just blindly agree with whatever they're being told to do.
Tom glared at the brute. "Because that seat is six feet away from the table, and you smell funny," he explained simply.
There was a moment's pause.
"Oh. Er, fair enough, I suppose." Greyback and Avery switched seats. There was a then a short interlude, while Tom patiently waited for Nott to finish the page he was on, before Tom explained to his inner-circle precisely what it was he 'got'.
"My friends, this is a most auspicious day," Tom declared grandly, speaking a little louder than usual so that Greyback could hear him. Indeed, his introduction was so grand that even Nott looked a little curious. Not really curious you understand, certainly not as curious as he appeared whenever Dumbledore informed them that they were doing something slightly unusual in Transfiguration today, but his expression could be described as hinting towards mild curiousness nonetheless. Emboldened by this display of rapt attention from his followers, Tom drew himself up to his full height. He was also sure to arrange his features into an expression that was determined but still blank enough so that he didn't look weird in the firelight: Tom hated people who didn't take lighting into account while making over-the-top facial expressions. "Today is a day that shall go down in history. In years to come, small children will learn about with day with awe, wonder and - -for some- - fear," Tom announced.
His friends leant in closely, not wanting miss such a momentous event. With such a tremendous lead up, even Nott was willing to admit that this speech deserved his attention.
"Today," Tom said at last. "Is the day that I have decided what my name shall be!"
The firelight still danced across his carefully arranged features.
The features themselves were held perfectly still in an expectant and passionate expression.
The rest of the Common Room went on chattering happily.
But there was no reaction from the four boys at the table. Or, more accurately, the three boys at the table and that one guy who was sitting six feet away and listening in.
That one guy who was sitting six feet away and listening in, logically assumed that he must have misheard. "You what?" Greyback inquired in his politest tone. This still wasn't very polite, but it was the thought that was important.
Tom's tone when he responded clearly indicated that thought Greyback was a cretin of the highest degree. "I have decided what my name shall be," he repeated. His manner was slightly less majestic than it had been the first time, but not enough to leave anyone in any doubt that he thought this to be a momentous event.
There was another moment's silence from the group.
Predictably, Nott was the first one to voice the thought that was nagging at all of them. "Er… Tom? Haven't you already got a name?"
It was not an impatient sigh, or even a weary sigh. It was a sigh that only future-Evil-Overlords and Customer Service Professionals can truly master - A sigh which communicates clearly that they have never before encountered such a horrifically dense and moronic individual as the one they are currently being exposed to, and that even though all they really want to do is leave the repulsive worm to drown in a pool of their own oozing idiocy, they will condescend far enough to explain to them in explicit detail why precisely it is that they are so intellectually-challenged. That sort of sigh.
"Ye-es," Tom said in a slow, pained sort of voice. "I have a name, but it is not my real name."
Tom's minions exchanged blank looks. Avery, being none-to-bright, was the next to speak. "Whose name is it, then?" he asked.
"What?" Tom snapped.
"Well if it's not your name, whose name is it? Did you steal it from someone?"
Tom closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose, as though reeling from Avery's stupidity. He would've had Nott's sympathy, had this not been the one time in living memory when Nott agreed with Avery's utter lack of comprehension. "Of course I did not steal it from someone, Avery," Tom said scathingly. "It is -however- a hideous, abhorrent, common name, and one which my deplorable mother cursed me with on her deathbed."
"Common?" Nott repeated in disbelief. "How the heck is it common? How many 'Marvolo Riddles' have you met in your time?"
There was a moment of heavy silence while Tom stared coldly at his only intelligent minion, who stared back looking more bewildered than threatened. The other three minions began to tremble, as Tom's expression darkened.
"Nott?" he whispered furiously, not wanting the rest of the Common Room to hear him.
Tom's nostrils flared at his minion's insouciance. "Go and sit in the corner," he ordered, pointing to the dark, dank corner that he, himself, had vacated a few moments before.
Nott stared, dumbfounded, between Tom's quivering index finger and the dark, dank corner, with its cold, hard stone floor and lone, flickering candle. "You're kidding, right?" he asked, disbelieving.
"Does it look like I'm kidding, Nott?"
There was another moment's silence as Nott allowed the ridiculousness of the situation to sink in. Then, shaking his head, he swung his book shut, pushed away from the table and wandered over to the corner of the room. He threw himself down into it and folded his arms, huffily. If asked, he would have explained that he was not huffy about being excluded from the conversation, but was instead a bit miffed about being treated like a disagreeable two-year-old.
"There," Tom sniffed haughtily. "That's that element dealt with."
As much as they would have liked to point out their Fuhrer's nonsensical approach to discipline in his ranks, the remaining minions decided that smiling politely and agreeing with Tom made much more sense. At least from their perspective.
"Anyway," Tom continued briskly. "I have decided what my name shall be."
There was a pause. No one was quite sure if Tom was going to tell them what his new name was or not and even Greyback was too intelligent to ask their leader outright if he would get to the point already.
Tom smirked at their apprehension and rewarded them for it. "My name will be…" He paused for effect. "LORD VOLDEMORT!"
Mulciber and Avery appeared suitably awed, while Greyback's only reaction was to say "Lord Wuh-wuh-huh?"
The title was repeated several times, until it permeated Greyback's brain. Tom even spelt it a few times, but stopped when it became apparent that Greyback would begin to pronounce the silent T at the end of the name, if he were actually made aware of how it was spelt. There was also an ill-fated attempt to communicate the name's French origins, and the meaning "Flight of Death". Sadly, this tact had to be abandoned when Avery went on to explain that Flight of Death was, obviously, a Quidditch foul.
When comprehension eventually dawned, the three minions gasped audibly and proceeded to compliment their leader on what a lovely name he had, how it suited him perfectly, and how they would be sure to call him it at every opportunity. Of course this, too, led to problems.
"Don't be absurd!" Tom hissed furiously. "YOU will not call me by that name!"
There was another moment's silence. When participating in such a surreal and ultimately idiotic conversation as the one being described, one finds there are a lot of silent moments. It is an unavoidable side-effect of such behaviour.
"Well what's the point of having a new name, if no one is allowed to call you by it?" Greyback asked, forgetting that he was an uncouth barbarian and therefore not supposed to ask such questions.
Tom rolled his eyes. "Lord Voldemort will be my official title," he explained. "But all shall fear to speak that name aloud!" he topped off this proclamation with a cackle. Certain standards had to be maintained after all. "You can call me something suitably sycophantic. 'The Dark Lord' or 'He Who Must Not Be Named' or 'Lord of Incredible Awesomeness' or something," he added, with a tone of someone who was compromising quite seriously and wanted everyone else to be aware of his sacrifice. Like an eight-year-old girl with top marks in school and a filled-out application form for martyrdom, who is giving up a kidney to save a random drug-addict she found on the street, while he was kicking the face off a badger.
That kind of tone.
Picking up on the seriousness of their leader's words, the three minions attempted to understand fully. "So… wait a minute," Avery said slowly. "You've been spending all this time coming up with a new name?"
"'Lord Voldemort', yup," Tom confirmed, nodding delightedly.
"And this name is supposed to replace your current name, because you consider it too common?"
"Even though it seems unlikely that anyone in the history of mankind has ever had your name?"
"Well, yes," Tom admitted. "But you must admit, the first three letters are dreadfully popular," he pointed out.
"Right. And, uh, even though you've spent all this time coming up with your new and improved name, we're not allowed to use it?"
Avery exchanged a look with Mulciber, who exchanged a look with Greyback, who, for want of someone to share a look with, scratched the side of his nose and gazed around vacantly.
"Ingenious, is it not?" Tom asked, smirking.
"Absolutely brilliant!" Avery agreed quickly.
"Inspired!" Mulciber added.
"Spectacular!" Greyback said, feeling that he should go with the flow, despite his personal doubts.
Looking absurdly pleased with himself, Tom nodded smugly and got to his feet. "Well, I'm glad you think so," he said. "Of course, if you hadn't then I would've cursed you into a sticky-paste, but that's not the point."
He glanced over to the far corner of the room, where he was clearly displeased to note that Nott was sitting on a pile of green, velvet cushions he'd summoned from the dormitory; an attractive sixth year girl curled up beside him, giggling as he whispered to her. "When HE comes back, you can explain the situation to him," Tom said magnanimously. "Though don't let him think for a moment that this punishment was a one-off. He'll be subjected to the same if he ever does it again, be sure to tell him that."
The sixth-year giggled again and placed her hand conspicuously on Nott's thigh. Nott grinned wolfishly and leaned in to whisper something else. Shaking his head in pity at the desperate display, Mulciber said "Don't worry, we'll tell him." He sounded more than a little choked up, but was resolute nonetheless.
Tom and his minions took a moment to commiserate the harsh treatment Nott was receiving. "It has to be done," Tom said.
The others nodded, understanding fully but feeling sympathy all the same.
As he was about to walk away, Tom looked back at the three assembled boys. "You really like the name?" he asked, catching them off-guard and snapping them out of their reverie.
"Oh, yes, To- er, yes, My Lord," Avery said sincerely. "It's the most impressive name I've ever heard."
Satisfied, Tom exited.
A few hours later, when the other three were at last able to disentangle him from the thoroughly enamoured sixth-year girl, the situation was explained to Nott.
He stared, dumbfounded, for almost three whole minutes before stating, quite simply, "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard."
While the others reeled at his casual disrespect, Nott went back to his corner and read his book beside the sixth-year girl. He now paid particular attention to Chapter Twenty Seven: What To Do When Your Leader Goes Completely Round The Bend…