“Pathetic,” he muttered to himself, his eyes hissing and spitting with rage. “Absolutely bloody pathetic.” He ignored the three sets of eyes, staring at him with a terror that marred his angelic appearance. Appearances could be deceiving, it seemed.
In a rage that threatened to engulf the last of his sanity, the man kicked the large antique sofa before him, sending it screeching to the other side of the room, hitting the opposite wall with a defeated thump. There it stood, lifeless as the dust and cloud of musty dampness once again settled over its once elegant coverings. Now, however, it just appeared old and wretched.
The man whirled around to glare at the three pairs of eyes, watching him with the likeness of large rounded plates plastered where their eyes should have been. “That is what you are!” he screeched at them, watching as they shrank away from his anger, from his disappointment. No one disappointed him lightly. No one.
“What do you mean to do to remedy this mess you have made?”
A thunderous silence overcame the room as no one dared speak. The room seemed to vibrate dangerously, the silence having the illusion of being deafening as it stretched onwards.
And then a voice. The smallest and meekest of the three peered out from behind his companion, obviously shaking with the fear of talking directly to this angelic devil incarnate.
“We could… uh, we could try again, Sir?”
A cackling, vicious laughter rang through the room and the three men jumped as the silhouette of a scary beast shook with mirth on the wall beside them. The distorted shadow of the man before them twisted and perverse. This shadow seemed so much more than a shade in their eyes; it seemed demonic. Demonic didn’t mean death to them - it meant a choice. But this shadow… the choice wasn’t there and all that was left was this shadow that seemed to be the messenger of fate, the deliverer of the scissors that might cut their threads of life short. And how they wished it were a choice, instead. They’d already chosen to aid those of the Dark Side, empowering and personifying their use of Dark Arts. What harm would it cause them to choose evil over good again?
“Try again?” The man – no, boy – looked the scrawny fellow in the face as he laughed his angelic, tinkling laugh. “There shall be no ‘try again’ for you. No one gets second chances around here unless they deserve it.”
Silence again as the three contemplated what had been said, the possibility of the handing over of the scissors becoming frighteningly more possible. The shadow on the wall shrank back to the dark mirror image of the young boy before them. Had they been inclined enough to care at that moment, they would have been outraged that a boy of such stance would dare try to instil such fear upon them. But, as it went, the boy was not trying; he was doing. He was not asking, but demanding.
Surely, only a boy of real stature could accomplish such a feat. Three very influential men stood before that boy, awaiting their fate, standing prone and wondering if this was, perhaps, their judgement day. And this boy would be their judge.
“Do you feel that you deserve it?” the boy demanded, drawing the attention of three pairs of eyes instantly. The clouded look of deep contemplation disappeared, replaced instead by perhaps the strongest of all human emotions, and the least predictable: Self-preservation.
“I think maybe at least one of us does,” the bulkiest man answered, drawing his chest out proudly as he spoke, just in case the boy had not the intelligence to realize he was speaking of himself. He preened the side of his immaculate jacket robe and then, pulling a golden and obviously quite expensive pocket watch from his lining. He consulted it, perhaps trying to give the impression that he was needed elsewhere and therefore an extremely important man.
“You would not wish to consult your cohorts so as to determine whether or not any of you are worthy of a second chance?” he asked, an amused look crossing over his features as he watched the proud man flounder, trying to decide on the most beneficial answer. “No, of course not,” the boy answered himself, smirking in a way that only seemed to make him more charming.
“What of you?” he asked the second man, tall and gangly in his appearance with his shaggy hair pulled into some semblance of order though still, it remained unnaturally greasy. The man smirked self-deprecatingly and had the audacity to shrug at the small power figure.
“I don’t know if I’m worthy, Sir. But I know I do my best work when I work for you…”
The boy smiled, not a genuine smile, but very close all the same. “You do your best work for me, Leonis, because you are a Mercenary. What you do is illegal in the eyes of the law, and yet completely necessary in mine. Without me, you wouldn’t be able to do it at all.”
Leonis fell silent, watching the boy with the air of someone who could smell the stench of death and despair but wasn’t quite sure whether he should hold his nose in a rudely dignified manner or simply grin and bear it, accepting the smell as it came wave after wave. The boy simply cocked his head at Leonis, finding each of their reactions equally amusing.
“And you,” he gestured to the scrawny man who had spoken first, “do you believe yourself worthy?”
“Sir,” the small man nodded and stepped forward bravely. “I should like to say yes, Sir. But if I did, and you found me worthy after all, I think I would forever be trying to prove to you that I am. If one is worthy of mercy, and that mercy is given, there is no need for one to continue proving themselves unless they are unsure that they were worthy in the first place…”
The boy nodded, encouraging him to continue. “If I were to say I was worthy, Lord, when I am not, death would come on swift wings for me, I am sure. If I were to say I was unworthy, when I am, death would beat his wings harder and come faster. And if I were to tell the truth, either way, I would not be able to prove it and so the flight of death would likely claim me anyway.”
“Seems you have come across a dilemma.” The boy laughed as the other two men shifted uncomfortably. Their own attempts to save themselves were paling beside this stick of a man’s confession. “So what would you have me do?”
The little man thought for a while, frowning in concentration as he shifted his feet on the finely carpeted floors. Finally, coming to a conclusion, he looked up to the boy and said, “I would have you choose for me, Sir.”
Silence followed the tentative admission, and the boy’s face remained pallid and unconcerned. “Choose for you?” he repeated, cocking his head the side in apparent contemplation. “Fine,” he snapped, almost irritably, when really he was quite pleased. This man would make a fine supporter.
The boy turned away, allowing the murderous rage that had engulfed him before to dissipate. He gazed slowly about the room; glad that this was to be the last time he would ever set foot there again. Many bad memories resided in that house with him – more than was normal for even the most disturbingly haunted of families, and though it angered the boy to no end, and he denied it with every fibre of his being, the memories haunted him to no end.
Unseen to the three men behind him, the boy clandestinely pulled his wand from the interior of his robes, tapping it against his fingers for a few more moments before he turned to face them, emotionless and eerily angelic smile set firmly in place.
“Corruption will get you nowhere,” he stated startlingly, twirling his wand idly. “A lot of people think that dishonesty is an essential part of being a Dark Wizard, when it isn’t. It’s a general misconception that Dark Magic exists for evil purposes and evil purposes only. That, however, is not the case. There is no common ground between the two. Never has there been and I dread the day when there ever will be.”
The boy smirked knowingly at the proud man as he, again, nervously checked his pocket watch and shifted his expansive girth to the other foot. “Dark Wizards,” he said as he advanced upon the large man, “are like Muggle scientists.” He cocked his head at the lack of recognition in the man’s eyes. “No, of course you wouldn’t know the term. Perhaps ‘Alchemist’ might be more fitting…
“Alchemy, one of the less publicized of all magical abilities, is an ever ongoing battle for knowledge and the bettering of the world, is it not?”
The three men nodded meekly, none of them wanting to meet his eyes as they watched their feet, or the flickers of light upon the wall as the fire in the grate licked across the logs, charring and burning them.
“That’s what being a Dark Wizard is; striving for knowledge and the betterment of the world. It is of no consequence that a Dark Wizard’s opinion of ‘betterment’ involves the Dark Arts themselves, as opposed to the eyes of the Ministry.” The boy paused, moving around to stand behind the three men before he continued. “The fight for knowledge and betterment need not be a fraudulent one, surely. Truth, after all, is the harshest weapon to wield, and with that we might overcome those who oppose us.”
“Lord, may I ask why you are telling us this?” Leonis asked, daringly. His gaze was unflinching as the boy moved again to stand before him, calculating eyes watching him with something akin to interest.
“I am telling you this, Leonis, because there is corruption in my ranks.” He whipped around and stalked to the other side of the room, where a large mahogany desk waited, barely an inch away from the misshapen antique sofa. With a look that could kill, the boy flung open the top drawer and rifled around briefly, ignoring the surprised look plastered over Leonis’ face.
“It is my belief that this mission was deliberately sabotaged.”
“But it was only us three who knew about our objective, Sir,” the scrawny man whispered as the boy finally found what he had been looking for. He pulled the small, thick metal bolt from the depths of the drawer and held it up triumphantly.
“I know that. And I also know which one of you is responsible for the treachery.” His calculating gaze again, flew over the assembled group, as if zoning out the traitorous being. “You have disappointed me in your disloyalty, Demetrius.”
Two startled but wary pairs of eyes flew instantly to the large man who had, now, stopped checking his pocket watch and appeared to be scanning the room for possible venues of escape.
“There is no point in trying to leave, Demetrius,” the boy announced, again livid. His extreme, sudden anger was palpable. He tapped his wand, quietly, on the aged wooden panel beside him and waited as it slid open, revealing a narrow stone passage. From the passage stepped a young man of medium build and mousy blonde hair that looked as if it had been flopped into place.
“Caius,” the boy said, holding out the bolt for the young man to take, “You are to escort Mr. Diggle to our holding chamber and engage the, er, appropriate devices. You will wait for me.”
Caius smiled devilishly as he gestured towards Demetrius, grabbing the arm of his impeccable robes and pulling him along. The two men disappeared into the small stone passage and the boy pulled the candlestick wall fastening to slide the wooden panel back into place.
Now it was only Leonis and the small, scrawny man in the room. The silence that rang through the room was almost deafening as the boy again began to fiddle with his wand. Toying with it, almost as though he were toying with their very lives.
“I know that neither of you had any idea of what was going on,” he began, lifting his angelic head to look at them both. “And that is what I am most angry about. You had not the brains to realize sabotage when it looked you in the eye!”
His anger seemed to bounce off the walls as he glared at them. “You shall be punished for this atrocity, and you will mention my hand of mercy to no one, hear? For the hand of malice shall be swifter.”
Leonis nodded his consent and made to leave, pulling open the heavy door behind him and leaving it open so that the other may follow. Magorian pursued solemnly.
“I don’t think you grasp the depths of my disappointment, Demetrius. And my anger runs far deeper.”
The man looked down upon the boy with fear in his eyes. He had betrayed the Society, he had been found out and now he would pay for it in some distasteful and deprecating way.
The boy advanced upon Demetrius, an evil smirk marring his beautiful face. “Shall I tell you a secret, Diggle?” he asked, enjoying the man’s fear. “Shall I tell you a secret before you find your death?”
He laughed an evil, haunting laugh right into Diggle’s face and the other gathered followers who had come to watch, minus Leonis and Magorian, laughed with him.
“You shall know my name. You shall know the name of the man you have betrayed. You shall know the name of the man who is going to kill you. And finally, you shall know my name because in death, you will see all, and in death, you will see what I shall become.” He grinned evilly again, nodding, encouraging the others to smile alike. “You shall see what you turned down when you betrayed me. You shall see your loss, you shall see your despair. Best of all, you shall see me become a God – NO! – Better than a God! I will be a saviour, and greater than any saviour before because I am palpable. I am real. And you refused me.”
The room was silent in its contemplation, twenty pairs of eyes were watching the two men in the middle. One chained and hung by his thumbs and the other, small, lanky and still in the throes of his youth stood with his virtuous face twisted in a distortion of iniquity.
“My name, Diggle, is Tom Marvolo Riddle.”
The room buzzed with suppressed excitement. They knew something Diggle didn’t. There was something this Tom person hadn’t told him; something that he was saving, and the rest of the room was brimming with suspense. They knew there was more to come and were as eager to hear it as, admittedly, he was himself.
“But in your squalid life after death, if you get even that, you shan’t hear Tom Riddle’s praises sung. I will not bear the name of my filthy father. I will be the poor little orphan boy not a minute longer!” Tom turned to face the room of the Society, now addressing the general populace and not just the man in chains. “From here forth, I am that boy no longer!” He grinned - a haunted and hollow grin. He pulled the wand from his robes and gave it a swish, the name ‘Tom Marvolo Riddle’ appeared in the air and floated. “From now on,” another swish of the wand and the letters rearranged, “I am Lord Voldemort!”
Great smiles erupted from the faces of his followers as they took in what he was saying.
“Brilliant!” a man muttered at the front of the crowd, shaking his head at the ingenious of it.
“You mean to hide your new identity, Milord?” a woman shouted from the back of the assembled Society.
“Not at all, Ms. Black,” Tom answered, smiling devilishly at the attractive young woman. “I was never meant for hiding in shadows, Elladora. I am a person of intrigue, not secrecy.”
“And what of Hogwarts?” she again asked, inclining her head to the side. “I have heard tales of a certain Wizard - old magic, he is – who might be cause for concern.”
Tom laughed, coming to enjoy this day that had started so badly. The very idea of the traitorous vermin hung from his thumbs behind was causing shocks of pleasure and amusement to shoot through his dark, troubled soul. He knew now, more than ever, that violence and the riddance of all things dirty, Muggle and any who opposed him was the only way he might ever escape his haunted existence.
“You speak of the old coddler, Dumbledore. Albus.” Again, he laughed. “I should not be overly concerned about him. He is too busy being distracted by his exceptional Mudbloods to ever grasp what might be going on where the Society is concerned. To this day, we are still secret, and the most dangerous enemy of all is the one you don’t know about.
“Were the world to know about us, our cause would be denounced immediately, in the way people denounce a rival when they feel threatened. Patience is the key that will unlock our chains of negation.”
“Will you take the name Voldemort while you reside inside the castle walls?”
“No.” Tom turned to face the man who had asked the question. “If I were to do that, it would be like suicide for what we have worked so hard for. I have but one more term left before my time at Hogwarts is ended, and my identity there will hold.”
He sighed deeply and looked down to his feet, deep in thought. “It might be an err in judgement that I will come to regret later, but I am willing to take my chances. To announce my new title in the confines of Hogwarts would bring about a battle of epic proportions. Hogwarts has a considerable force behind it and is almost infallible from the outside, but an insider could bring it down easily. Our cause is too fragile at this point in time – like a crystal hanging from the finest spider’s thread; one knock and it could all be over. If we were to take on Hogwarts, and fail, all would be lost. It is a triumph we must save for another day.”
The man nodded his understanding and then he, too, smiled. “And what of Diggle the Defector?”
“Diggle’s death is coming swiftly and it flies high.” Smirking in his evil manner, Tom Riddle turned back to face the man who had nearly cost him everything. “I suppose you could say I am a Virgin, Demetrius, because I have never killed a man before. I have plundered, I have pillaged and,” he turned to face the contingent slyly, “I have raped. But I have not killed. You shall be my first.”
Another spine tingling laugh. “Imagine that! My first kill and your first death! We shall share this experience together and it will be locked in history forever.” He pulled the wand from his robes, aiming it at the ropes coiled underneath Diggle’s swinging feet. “Remember me when you writhe in pain, you traitorous stinking piece of filth and remember how it was you that made me do it.”
Muttering an incantation vehemently, the coils beneath Diggle began to squirm and thrash in a violent manner, turning green in colour and sprouting triangle shaped heads, followed by glinting evil eyes and a shaking, hissing pink tongue. Snakes.
“They do so hate bones,” Tom Riddle scoffed, and the room erupted with laughter. “And so they’ll pick the flesh from your carcass, Diggle. I’m sure they’ll find your ample figure,” he prodded Diggle’s large waistline with the tip of his wand, “frightfully satisfying.”
Tom Riddle, or Lord Voldemort as the Society was now calling him, came back to the small chamber some hours later, looking upon the mangled remains of Demetrius Diggle with an extreme satisfaction that might have scared any normal person. But he wasn’t normal. He was Lord Voldemort, and Lord Voldemort was an exception. An incomparable exception.
The bones of Demetrius Diggle lay in a tangled heap, the chains that had hung from his obese form dangling heedlessly and what was left of his thumb joints were still fastened in the bolts swinging from the roof. Lord Voldemort stood there for some time, watching his Transfigured snakes with something akin to reverence as they checked over the discarded remains for any lingering morsels of flesh. The room stank of death and blood, though the floor was clean as if not a drop had ever been spilled. The snakes, too, were spotless.
He watched on as the snakes continued to coil and slither, ignoring the skull whose mouth was open in a never-ending scream of agony, sitting atop what was left of his life’s vessel. The largest snake slithered beneath what he supposed was the ribcage, coming up from underneath to eye up this tall, black-robed figure through the silently shrieking mouth before ducking its head out and remaining still.
Looking, Lord Voldemort thought unerringly, uncannily like a serpent tongue, protruding from a skull whose every thought was of despair and betrayal. And then he laughed. The snake, startled by the sudden vibrations, made to move from his resting place and Lord Voldemort whipped his wand from the interior of his robes, shouting his incantation with delight.
The snake stopped its flight and flopped lifeless, returning to the dirty, scruffy rope it was once again. Voldemort made no move to shift it, letting it remain in its resting place, dangling from the skull’s mouth like a discarded piece of spaghetti.
He shook his head in mirth as he turned around and raised his wand to eye level. “Crecendio,” he said, smirking, and a bright light emitted from the tip, lighting the room with an almost blinding illumination. As quickly as it appeared, the light shrank to an infinitesimal spot and then disappeared completely. Not a moment later, members of the Society began to pour in from alternative doors and moved to gather before him, waiting patiently.
“Behind me lay the remains of one Demetrius Diggle.” Nods and mutters of approval stirred about the small gathering as all eyes moved to the pathetic pile of bones. “The stench of death and decay in this room is overpowering, and that is the way I like it. Demetrius was the first person to ever betray me, and it is not a mistake I will take so lightly. This event will be scarred into everyone’s memories forever more – imprinted upon their lives like a stamp that bears my name and brings destruction it its wake.
“I am Lord Voldemort, all powerful, and we shall make a showcase of this man so that others may learn from his mistake and, in turn, come to realize that messing with me is no trifle.” Voldemort turned from his followers to grin eerily at the skeleton lying at his feet.
“Demetrius, may your image live on forever, and the name of the people you rejected be inspired by you.”
He turned back to the gathering. “Like the snakes that ate Demetrius Diggle’s stinking flesh from his bones, we too, shall eat the filth from this world. We will chew it, digest it and excrete it, leaving it as pathetic as we know it to be.
“You are those snakes; you are like the death eating snakes who gave Diggle his justice, and Diggle’s likeness shall be our sign – he will be our crest! And you – you are the Death Eaters!”
“To the Death Eater’s!” someone near the back cried.
“The Death Eater Society!” another shrieked, raising her hand in enthusiasm. The crowd was filled with shouts of agreement, murmurs of enthusiasm and cries of happiness. They were now complete; all there was left to do was triumph over their enemies…
And then Lord Voldemort, the Dark Wizard, smiled a true smile. And from then on Tom Marvolo Riddle, the boy, the orphan, the half-blood, was dead to the world. Because he had a different nickname now – one that would carry a legacy of its own.
A/N: My interpretation of this challenge was slightly different to the interpretations of some of the other contestants – As in Voldemort a.k.a Tom Riddle decided to redefine himself and come up with a new nickname (that nickname being Voldemort). So it’s the same person, but a different understanding of the challenge requirements…
This was a submission in the Second Writer's Duel, and was submitted into Category 2. This submission was only two votes short of getting into the finals - hopefully I'll have some better luck next time ;) Feedback would be appreciated.
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