Author's Notes: This chapter contains references to animal cruelty. Please only continue with this chapter if you're sure that you can handle reading such things.

This series is written for the Livejournal community, alphabetasoup, where I claimed Voldemort and a moods table. Thank you to my beta, Olly, for all of her assistance and encouragement.

Disclaimer: Harry Potter isn't mine.

Twenty-six Moods of a dark Lord
Chapter One: Optimistic
By Duckie Nicks

His young mind doesn't have the words to describe what he knows he is. Every day he waits for an answer, anticipates hearing what it is that makes him different from the others, from the lesser ones. On the tip of his tongue, like ether, the words are just out of reach; they fill the air with an unknowable quality that he is fascinated by.

And he knows that the other kids feel the way the room changes when he's in it as well. They too do not understand (and why would they?) what separates him from them. Unless he is very much mistaken (and he doubts that he is), they do not possess the words to explain why fear trickles over them like water sliding down a windowpane whenever he is in the room. They do not know what he is or how he came to be that way. They simply sense what he is.

For them and for Tom, there are no words to describe this difference – other than to say that he is special. Actually special – not the kind of "special" everyone around him is told they are, not the kind their caretakers throw around to make everyone feel loved (even though their placement in the orphanage is proof enough that they are not).

He is different than that.

He is different from them, and the other children fear him for it.

They hate him – of that he is sure. He has seen in their eyes and heard in their words that their terror, their jealousy, has made them despise him. They avoid him when he is in the room, make no move to speak to him unless absolutely necessary. But Tom has already decided that it matters little to him.

It has never once occurred to him to try to be friends (he sneers at the very word) with any of them. Friendship has never been something that interests him, and it's certainly not what he wants; he doesn't desire their companionship.

Just their obedience.

And he gets what he wants.

He has ensured as much.

There was a time when the other children were willing to challenge him. But now, the memory of the rabbit is reason enough for them to obey.

Billy Stubbs' poor little bunny – it was the turning point for all of the others. Before there were whispers, rumors about what he might have done with two of his fellow orphans on holiday. Tom had been, of course, blamed (though unpunished) for that incident, but it wasn't until the rabbit that the others realized: he would rob them of all they held dear to get what he wanted.

Because of that, they changed, and even now, though that "accident" is long behind all of them, Tom likes to think about the dead animal at night. He likes the way the feeling of power seems to surge through his body and the way his sneer (which always appears on his face when he remembers how stupid Billy sobbed for the broken creature) feels in the dark. It all makes Tom feel good – relaxed.

Which is important to him, because, if he's being honest with himself, he does not like the dark itself. He has a hard time ignoring the way the shadows shift along the peeling lead paint on the walls. He tries his best, but the way dark shapes bleed against one another makes him think that there is a threat lying in wait to seize him. And when he allows himself the weakness of fearing that which is beyond his control, sounds too become heightened and frightening, and he finds himself at the mercy of something else he can't name.

But these days, for each unfamiliar shape and noise, he has found a new way of mastering it: he simply replaces those nuisances with the pleasant memory etched in his brain. He has only gotten better with this habit – feels accomplished in knowing that he no longer needs to close his eyes to remember the rabbit. All he has to do is think – and the sight of the rabbit, twitching, squealing, and eventually going lifeless, comes to mind.

Tom still doesn't know why he is able to do these things, why he can hurt animals and talk to snakes and make people do what he wants. Sometimes, he worries that these abilities are really the product of a dream too good to ever come true.

Yet he has yet to wake up, and if anything, he finds that, as time goes by, he can perform these inhuman feats with increasing ability. He can tell when someone is lying and get revenge without lifting a finger. He can see weakness in others and exploit it for his own gain.

The little boy has no thoughts about whether it's right or wrong. But he believes he has the right. If you can do it and it makes you happy (and this certainly does), then why not?

And the best part of it all – aside from watching them all cower in fear – is knowing that they can't do a thing about it. They have already come to the same conclusion that he has: he will do this again and again, over and over. They know this, but they cannot stop him.

Knowing this, he finds himself unable to, at times, stop himself from looking at his hands. Though a finger never lifts, though there are no visible signs of what he can do, he whispers in those moments, "I am special."

Because, despite his name, Tom is special.

Oh yes he is.

End (1/26)