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The Young Artist: A Tale of Dark Portent
It was History of Magic class, and Tom Riddle was very, very bored.
True, this class was very, very boring. But honestly. He’d been taking it for three years, and you’d think that by then it might get a little better. Ah, no such luck. Professor Binns was droning on as ever, and in that horribly annoying manner of his, too. Tom made a mental note to kill him later – and then realized Binns was already a ghost. How dare that dastardly professor outwit Lord Voldemort himself! Tom made another mental note to find out how to kill ghosts someday.
What, you ask, did the future Dark Lord do in a boring class when he wasn’t daydreaming of killing people, living forever, and possibly ruling the world?
Why, he doodled in the margins of his notes, of course.
He drew himself, usually. He fancied his face a rather nice one, and self-portraits were fun. The orphanage never being able to afford anything more than the annual trip to the seaside, he was self-taught and, if he did say so himself, a pretty good artist.
But today, he felt like drawing a snake.
The ink flowed smoothly from his quill as he sketched the beautiful twists and turns of the long body, making it fold in on itself, then double back again, tying itself in a knot.
“Cool,” one of his friends whispered, leaning in to see better. “What is it?”
“It’s a snake, you dolt,” Tom hissed back.
Tom studied the drawing. It was good – oh yes, of course it was, because he drew it – but it was…missing something.
Professor Binns was going on about giants or some such nonsense. Tom gritted his teeth. He wished he could kill that stupid Binns, and he would call on the serpent that lived in the walls and have it eat him up and leave only the bones…
He smirked to himself and drew a small skeleton beside the snake.
He paused a moment, then scratched away furiously once more at the page, drawing the snake coiling in around itself and through a human skull.
The resulting drawing fascinated and terrified him both. A place for everything and everything in its place. His snake and the bones of his enemies, precisely where they were meant to be.
Next to it, he carefully wrote his name. Lord Voldemort. He would be great and terrible, and nobody would stop him. And when they tried, his snake would devour all but their bones.
A slow grin spread over his face. He liked this drawing. He would practice it, over and over, until he knew how to draw it as well as he did his own face.
“An artist, are we, Mr Riddle?” Professor Binns’s dull tones shattered Tom from his reverie.
“If I do say so myself, Professor,” he replied smoothly, carefully ironing out his features into inscrutability.
He folded up the paper with the drawings on it and dropped it in his pocket. Folding his hands on his desk, he stared coolly at the teacher at the head of the class. One by one, his calm, calculating gaze picked out those he disliked in the room: the stupid, the weak, the shallow.
You are my enemies, Lord Voldemort thought, and you shall be first to die.
“I apologize for disrupting the class, Professor. Pray, do continue,” Tom Riddle said, and he smiled.