A short character-study-esque piece about young Tom. To help get me into character for Tied for Last, but this is standalone; this work is not necessarily something that happened to the Tom in Tied. In any case, I hope you enjoy it. Short prose. Hopefully, suitably intense.
Advanced critiques are more than welcome – they are lauded. And rewarded with various baked goods.
With love, as always,
He heard the word in conjunction with something that was all-too-familiar, and all-too-fascinating, to him: pain. Those small hands were palm-up, the ruler left red welts in its wake, and it was no small wonder that the boy was in unbelievable pain during the torment. Yet he couldn't find it within himself to cry, for even his young mind understood the beauty of torture, whether it was his own or that of someone else, and why should he cry at something so poignant as the rending of flesh from flesh?
They stood in the doorway, the scarred wooden door flung wide to display the small, square yard. It was cloudy that day, and dark inside, so the doorway was a shadowed mixture of fading and faded. The lady was squat, with curly, greasy hair and lips that were wide like sausages, and those lips were curled at the side, now, with a leer that was only deserving of one description – ugly. The impassive eyes with which a young Tom stared up at her were quite unnerving, so obscured from the childishness which he should have possessed at his age. She whacked away, though, her throaty, hissing voice repeating the word.
Of course, he was no beast, surely. He had never been a beast. He was the most civilized of civilized creatures, for civilization had always meant power, and Tom had always had power. That angry word - beast - did not hurt, but washed over him, soothing his mind with the firm reiteration that this creature battering away at his fingers was sub-human, as fully expected. It was not her fault that she would never have a purpose other than to shepherd other sheep - the blind guiding the blind; the worthless guiding the worthless. It was not her fault that she could only spew illogic and filth from those two fat lips – not her fault that his eyes were as dry as paper and as observant as an eavesdropper's ears. Teach me your remorseless fire I want it give it here all mine everything
It was not the woman's fault that he would remember her for years to come, glued into his mind right alongside his father in that scrapbook of unneeded dirt. It was almost piteous, this idea of control she thought she had right now. Tom Riddle knew the truth: he could crush her, if he so wished, and it would be his right to do so, and that scared the poor Muggle, even if she didn't know it. She was afraid of him because he knew everything, and he had everything, and she had nothing, and she was completely oblivious. Of course this Muggle wouldn't have understood why he'd been chosen to be sent to boarding school the year before last. It was because of his mother, the sole redeeming factor of his genetic composition, that he had been sent away. It was because of his mother that he was a higher level of existence than... than this. It was also because of his mother that he was still standing there, blood dripping to the floor from his outstretched hands.
Monster. Monster. Monster.
His hands quivered, as if asking for more. More, please – more red dark liquid to fill these poor homeless helpless hands of mine; please Miss – please more – more, I'll learn your ways and I've learned so much but please help me refine these things – please. After all, he'd grown in this world of the broken and the dark and the betrayed, on this grey street in this grey city in a slowly ashen wisping flyaway yard where browning grass was trodden by too many young feet. He'd learned everything he would ever need to know right here, and he had always been and always would be his own best teacher, and Tom Riddle was confident in that. However, he'd stoop to learning from a Muggle – if only to learn pain. He'd stoop if only to learn horror. He'd stoop if only to learn the smell of blood. Hadn't he already learned abandonment and betrayal? Of course he had. He'd learned that hurting others was just another part of growing up. He'd learned that Muggle blood held no tie that was wrong to break. He'd learned that knowledge was second only to control. He'd learned not to worry, for everything would be alright.
In short – he'd learned how to be a monster.
How sweet the realization was, too; it was as sweet as that angelic smile that lifted his lips mid-torture, as sweet as the utter shock that spread across that woman's face, as sweet as the clatter of that reddened ruler to the ground. Sweeter than blood, and sweeter than conviction, the knowledge was burnt into him:
Power belongs to those who suffer for it.
I'm a firm believer in overdramatic one-liners, as you've probably gathered.
Thoughts? Drop 'em by for me using the button that's right... right there. Psychoanalysis super-duper-welcome! I hope you enjoyed yourself on this page on the internet. :D
All my love,