Brightly Burning

"You are not welcome here, Tom Riddle."

Tom turned, pushing back the hood of his cloak. "Centaur," he intoned.

He did not care to know its name.

The centaur stared at him, taking in his handsome features, his cold eyes, then looking past him, up through the trees.

"A red star rises tonight," it said, then suddenly looked back at Tom. "Why have you come here, Tom Riddle?"

"A quest for knowledge. Power," was the answer Tom gave.

"And from whom do you seek this power?"

Loosening his wand in his sleeve, Tom smiled his charming smile. "Centaurs are said to be the best of Seers. Can't you tell me?"

The centaur moved closer, and Tom tightened the grip on his wand, though the easy smile never left his face.

"You are the Parselmouth. You are the master of the basilisk. You are Aragog's fear," the centaur stopped a few feet from Tom, hooves crushing the brush underfoot.

"I know all these things," Tom answered without fear. "It is not what I came to hear. Not on the night of the red star."

The centaur tilted its head, its inhuman face scrunched into a perplexed expression. "You are more knowledgeable than most wizards."

Tom stood a little straighter, brushing his hair back with two fingers, "I am the greatest of them."

Looking into the dead eyes of the boy before him, the red star rising in the sky, the centaur nodded, a flash of the future revealing itself in a moment of insight. "You – you alone – will have the stars as no one else will have them."

Immensely pleased, Tom pulled up the hood of his cloak, and turned on his heel, making his way from the clearing. He spared no word of thanks for the centaur, nor a backward glance.

As the boy faded from sight, Firenze once again looked upward, reading the future in the stars. "You will have the stars as no one else will have them, Tom Riddle. And you will burn brightly. Briefly, but brightly."