The elder Thomas Riddle's face froze, his entire body going stiff, and he crumpled to the floor in a heap at his son's feet.

Time seemed to stand still.

Tom stood now, in the kitchen filled with the stillness and silence, save for the continuous ticking of a clock on the wall. He lowered his arm slowly, and breathed in, numb. Then he simply turned and walked wordlessly out the kitchen, through the living room, down the steps of the front door, and back to the bushes. He hadn't noticed the burning in his skin until he felt the cold rain fall comfortingly onto him, soaking into his cloak and running down his hair.

I've done it... I got the wretched bastard... He's gone. Tom nodded silent affirmation to himself in the darkness. The man who had abandoned him and his mother seventeen years ago had finally paid for his sins. Nobody will ever dare call me a mudblood again. No, not after this. He's gone now. Out of my life and history forever. I wipe myself clean of Tom Riddle. He is not my father. I'm not Tom Riddle. He trudged along in the wet grass, the hem of his cloak dripping with mud.

"I am the heir of Salazar Slytherin, son of Selena Marvolo," he continued aloud, whispering the words like a mantra, willing himself to believe them for they were all he had or knew. "Come to continue his legacy and fulfill his glorious plan and cleanse the Earth of this plague of muggles who have cast us worthier beings into hiding. I'm not Tom Marvolo Riddle; I'm Lord Voldemort. I AM LORD VOLDEMORT!" he cried into the night, falling to his knees and turning his face up into the night sky as the rain fell, hiding the tears that poured from his closed eyelids.

His declaration was met with silence, other than the quiet patter of rain on the soft ground. Tom gasped for air and pushed himself up, and forced himself to smile. He never let himself feel the sadness, not for long, and he never allowed himself to cry. It was weakness, and he loathed it. But he had always used it to his advantage; it was convenient in a way. He used his pain to fuel his anger; the anger helped him reach his goals and the goals were all that mattered. Only achieving the goals would bring him satisfaction, justice... happiness.

And yet... It somehow always seemed a hollow victory. It was as if he could never be truly satisfied. It was never enough. Something deep within him thirsted desperately, but for what? Even now, with this long-awaited vengeance finally fulfilled, it seemed odd now that the thing was finally done. He had got what he wanted, and yet now that he had it... It seemed he still wasn't happy. It wasn't what he needed. Perhaps his goals were going in completely the wrong direction, and they only made him more unhappy. There always something missing... Always something off in his eyes... Always something twisted in his smile.

Tom shook his head, clearing his thoughts, drawing a hand over his pale, wet face. You're thinking too much. Don't think so much. It'll work out, I just have to be patient. You'll be happy in the end. Just wait, Tom. Just wait till you've got the whole world at your feet, and they'll all worship you. I'll have it all. I'll be the most powerful wizard in history. No, not only in history. I won't just be remembered--who could I possibly trust to take my place when I'm gone? No, no, I will endure. Somehow, I'll do it. I'm going to live forever.

And then he laughed. He forced himself to push the laugh out, he searched his entire being for some speck of joy but there was none, and his laughter was empty and mocking even of himself. But it didn't matter. Nothing did now... Nothing seemed real. In fact, all of a sudden everything appeared absolutely absurd and hysterical. It was as if life was one big joke somebody had decided to play on the world and no one got it but him. They all ran around all day, worrying about this and that, and for what? He wasn't like them. He could do anything.

The world was spinning and Tom was vaguely aware that he was on the ground again, but what did he care? He laughed again--a high, quiet, disconcerting laugh. There were no rules anymore, no limitations; he could do anything. And this would only be the first step. He had committed his first murder in cold blood. He had crossed the line, and there was no turning back now.