A.N. This is for the Dark Story Fic challenge on the HPFC forum. This is rated M because I didn't want to take any chances.

I don't own Harry Potter.

Tom Marvolo Riddle had been different, no, not different, extraordinary since birth. The most peculiar things always happened around him, and because of this he was avoided more than the plague. Thus, young Tom Riddle was often teased and mocked, for it is human nature to make light of the things we fear. Tom was stubborn though, and could not be persuaded that he was not better than the ones that surrounded him. He was right too, for who among his tormenters could claim the unlimited power he held? Which of them could manipulate the people, the objects, and animals around them? Not one. Still they went on with their dreadfully degrading acts, determined that one day Tom Marvolo Riddle would break. Tears had not once dared to stain his beautiful, pale cheeks. Most children his age, especially those in his orphanage, could be seen with puffy, red eyes and stuffy noses from their latest tantrums or as a consequence from a recent punishment, more often from their peers than from their keepers. Tonight was the first time that traces of red could be found in Tom's eyes, but the odd change in color was not a result of any fruitless crying-on his part, anyway. However, the pitiful cries of Ben Grantham might have had something to do with it. It was on this night that a glimpse, albeit a small one, of Voldemort could be seen. Ben Grantham was the ring leader of a pack of older boys. Their sole delight was finding new ways to humiliate him, but, despite their abuse, his pride grew in abundance every day. Their past offences had been, for the time being, tolerable. The childish shoving, name-calling, and even hitting he had been able to look over with little more than annoyance and slight amusement at their pitiful attempts. This was different. They had foolishly decided that it was a fantastic idea to ambush an ill and resting Tom Riddle. They had found him sleeping against "his" tree, deep in the forest where he came when he wasn't feeling well, as he refused to go to the infirmary or have anyone take care of him. He had woken up to find himself being held down by two of the buffoons whilst another one stripped him of his clothing and Ben Grantham stood, watching. He had tried so hard to fight them off, but his usual tricks didn't work today; he was too tired, his body too ill to produce the power he needed. They had spat in his face, left bruising marks and scars all across his lean body, and, most unforgivably, they had touched him. It wasn't an act made out of lust, but of the need to overpower, to disgrace him. This was unacceptable, unforgivable. For this they would be punished. For this they would lose their leader and friend forever. Tom had learned at a very young age that he, and only he, had the magnificent ability to speak to snakes. They came to him, whispered things. It was the whispers of a pregnant vipera berus, who had witnessed his degradation at the hands of the four boys, which brought about the death Ben Grantham. Her whispered plots of revenge in his ear, her promises of a painful end for his enemies, and her reassuring words of redemption sealed Grantham's fate. It was a week after their merciless attack on him that he, with Atia, the vipera berus, around his neck, quietly and unnoticeably visited each room of the four offenders. From Grantham's three followers he stole something that was treasured: a silver thimble that was the only piece left of an adored mother, a harmonica that had played the only words of a deaf and long-dead father, and a yo-yo which had been the shared and only toy of a pair of twins who never parted, until one was taken with tuberculosis. His last and most anticipated visit for the night was to Grantham himself. Tom had taken to spying on the four for the past week, and had learned their sleeping patterns and nightly rituals. Grantham was a heavy sleeper, and as such, it was no problem to gag and restrain the boy before carefully slipping off his pajamas. It was, after all, only fair that he felt the humiliation of being stripped of his clothing as Tom had his. Tom felt the rush of adrenaline when he gave the one-worded order to Atia; kill. She had slithered from his shoulders and onto the bed before them. The bite of a vipera berus is excruciatingly painful, and while it does not always prove to be fatal, multiple untreated bites are. His tears and muffled cries excited Tom, but it was his begging that sent waves of pleasure coursing through his body. When, at last, Ben Grantham drew his final breath, his lifeless eyes looked up at the smirking face of Tom Riddle, who, for the first time, was seeing red.

A.N. For those who don't remember or didn't know in the first place, the stolen yo-yo, silver thimble, and harmonica were the objects found by Dumbledore in Tom's wardrobe when he came to offer him a place at Hogwarts.