Shadows cannot be without Light

o~O~o

He curses himself for not paying better attention. He knows better than to ignore his surroundings, even if they are as grand as these. Negligence could kill him, he knew that all too well. If it weren't for his magic he'd be dead by now. He wonders whether his power will protect him from these new tormentors, if he'll still be alive in an hour. Looking up into their faces, he doubts it.

He doesn't scream when they beat him. He never screams, never cries, never yells about the injustice of it all. He just looks at them with those knowing brown eyes, jaded beyond belief. He doesn't understand why this makes them hit him harder, why they fear his gaze. It is only when he faces the child that will be his downfall and looks into his omniscient eyes that he realizes. They fear him, because he shows them their faults. They hate him because they fear him, because they are wrong and he knows it. They fear themselves. He mirrors back to them what they are, and they fear it.

Fear leads to Hate. Hate leads to the need for Revenge. Revenge leads to War.
He knows this for he embodies it.

o~O~o

They are beating him again. He has learnt their names now. It would be hard to extract revenge if he knew naught about them.

The leader, Adrian Tortionnaire, is a Mud-blood. Tortionnaire is Slytherin by name but not by practice- the house hates the older boy for daring to be descended from muggles. They would hate him, too, but they do not know that his parents are most likely unmagical. He has insinuated that his mother was Grindlewald's mistress from before the war started. He tells them that she had to flee when her lover started the conflict, but that she was followed by the Light. He lies through his teeth, saying that she left him at a muggle orphanage so he would not be killed alongside her.

He wishes it were true.

o~O~o

While his deceit has gained him the respect of most Dark families, there are those that hate him all the more for it. Tortionnaire's lackey, a half-blood slut, lost her parents to the war. She does not understand how hypocritical she is, hexing him, hurting him- for the same reason her parents were killed. Prejudice, Hate and Fear.

He hates her. He hates all of them. He had thought, for a while, that it was only muggles who hated him, that only muggles were abusive. Now he realizes that it is genetic, that their spawn is just as cruel, just as hateful, repulsive and weak as they are. He knows he is being two-faced, knows that he is of the same disgusting line. He embraces it.

He realizes that the reason they act that way is because they need to be superior, better than everyone else. But they are puny, pathetic. They will never succeed. They will always be caught in a meaningless struggle for dominance, never getting anywhere. All their lives, they will be caught in an unescapable web of violence.

Right now, he is in there with them. He is like them, struggling to get to the top. The difference is that he, unlike them, will get there. He will be the greatest- and he will stay the greatest. His will not be a fleeting five minutes of fickle fame, a few seconds of recognition. His will be the lasting notoriety of the old warrior-kings; feared, respected and worshipped in equal measure.

o~O~o

He lies bleeding on the floor at the foot of the staircase. They stand over him, laughing and jeering. Half his wounds come from being pushed down the steps. The rest come from being kicked around like a football, cursed as badly as one of the training dummies in the Dueling Club. He glares at his tormentors. He loathes them, a feeling as much a part of him as his magic.

Footsteps can be heard coming towards them. A click-clack of wood on stone. He knows that tread- it belongs to Albus Dumbledore, Transfiguration Professor and Head of Gryffindor. For the first time since he was ambushed, he begins to hope. Perhaps this torture will end? He does not like the Professor, but would worship him forever if only the man would help him!

The older pair hear it too, and look at each other in panic- but they can tell Dumbledore is to close for them to run. Triumph bloats his chest. It is finally over, at last.

The man rounds the corner and stops at the sight. The Head of Gryffindor turns to Tortionnaire. He comes crashing back down to earth, despair replacing his anticipation. Dumbledore had always favoured Tortionnaire, thinking the 'poor boy' to be grievously unlucky to be sorted into Slytherin. The man seemed to think that the third year was pure and good; taking the scorn Slytherin showed towards the boy as proof. The Professor always favoured Gryffindor, thinking that house to be the epitome of light, with Slytherin it's polar opposite.

There was no way such a man would side with him.

o~O~o

"My, what on earth has happened here?"
"Oh sir! Tom fell down the stairs. We were trying to get him to the infirmary, but weren't sure whether it was safe to move him."
"Thank you, Adrian. Twenty points to Slytherin- and twenty to Gryffindor for helping him, Miss Ndihmes."

The man walked over to him. Coughing up blood, he lifted himself from the ground and weakly stabbed at one of the curse marks on his side. This was a particularly nasty one, the burning curse. It was a classified illegal Dark spell. He could tell by the Professor's frown that the old man recognized the mark.

"How on earth did this happen! I did not think that anyone in this school would be so cruel as to use such a spell!"
"Whatever do you mean, sir?"
"Adrian, I fear that this young boy has been attacked with one of the worst spells in existence. The Burning Curse is lethal unless treated in time. It is a more painful way to die than the Killing Curse! Young Tom is indeed lucky you managed to find him in time. Do you have any idea who might of done such a thing?"
"Sir- I have an idea, but do not feel it my place to say."
"Nonsense, dear boy. Any suspicion would be of great help!"
"Well, sir, I don't like to say this, but… Tom is a bit violent, you see. He always picks fights with the younger years. When I saw this, I thought it might be a good idea to teach them a Mirror Shield. I- I never meant for them to reflect such a deadly curse back at anyone. Though you do understand sir, it is quite understandable. Self defence, you know. It would also explain how he fell down the stairs."
"My dear boy! This is most troubling. Does Tom have anything to say for himself?"

I lift myself up as much as I am able. I try to cough the words out, but only blood comes out. In the end, I simply point to Tortionnaire.

"Do you mean to say young Adrian is right, Mr. Riddle? Do you realize how much trouble you could get into for this? You will most assuredly be expelled, maybe even go to Askaban!"
"No… I didn't… Tort… aire… curse…"
""You cursed Adrian! Why did you not say so, my dear boy? Even if you managed to reflect most of the curse back, some still must have hit you! We must get you to the hospital wing at once!"
"No… he cursed me… Check…. wand…."
"You must be delirious! Adrian would never do such a thing. Please do not lie to me, Mr. Riddle."
"Chec… and…"
"Very well. Adrian, may I?"
"Sir, I'm afraid- you see, he disarmed me. Of course, he didn't want there to be any proof he did it, so, you see…"
"Oh, dear boy. I understand. The only problem is that it is now all but impossible to convict Mr. Riddle of wrongdoing, if the curse shows up on your wand instead of his!"
"Yes, sir. But, I do feel that Tom can redeem himself. We need not tell anyone of this; I am sure that he will change his ways."
"My dear boy, you make me prouder of you every day. A very merciful choice indeed! However, I fear that I will still need to punish Mr. Riddle in some way. He will spend every evening for the next two years in detention with me. Now, if you would help me take him to the infirmary?"
"Of course, sir"

He does not react as the older males roughly drag him onto a stretcher. He feels defeated, disillusioned and bitter. He has always known that no-one cares for him, but having it made so obvious is a slap in the face. He cannot bring himself to be surprised.

But there is one piece of information about the Burning Curse that Dumbledore, being a Light wizard, would not know. This is one that far overshadows the comparatively meaningless disregard the Professor shows for his life.

The Burning Curse does not truly burn a person. The feeling it causes is merely a mental projection of its effect. What the Burning Curse does is to destroy the mind. It starts with Logic and Reason, making the sufferer incapable of thinking anything through. Then it moves on to Positive Emotion, taking away the will to live. Thirdly it moves on to memories, taking away the entire life of the victim, until they forget to live.

He doubts that he will lose his memories. However, he is already well into the second stage of the curse. he can feel the Curse twisting him, turning him into a monster.

There is not much for it to do.
His Fear is already Hate, that Hate already Fury, that Fury already looking for vengeance.

He wants revenge.
He always gets what he wants.


AN: Over three pages! Go me! I rock!