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The Limits Of Perception
Deslea R. Judd
Character: Voldemort character study.
Summary: The limits of Tom's perception have always been bendable.
Word Count: Approx 860
More Fic: On AO3 or my fic site.
Feedback: Love the stuff. On AO3 or at deslea at deslea dot com.
Tom's world is a chaotic one.
Strictly, there is no Tom's world at all. There is a world of everything. A world of my truck and my bunny and my doll and mine mine mine. A world of you bad girl! and good boy, Petey and Sarah, these children are going to be the death of me. The world is him and he is the world, in all its misery and its pettiness and its greed.
It is a long, long time before he realises that the thoughts are not all his.
Tom is seven when he finally realises that there is a Tom who is not the same as everything else. It dawns on him forcibly one day that the undercurrent of dislike that pervades his world comes from others to him and is not just an unpleasant layer over the whole world.
If it had been oppressive before, now it is worse. It infuriates him. Smothers him in unfair and angry and make them pay make them all pay.
It is one of life's ironies that the gift that made him one with everything, has separated him from everything, too.
They think he is mean.
Tom supposes that he is, but then, everyone is. It's just that they see it in him, see it on him. He has not yet learned to hide it. Has never seen a need.
He sees the meanness of the others, hidden behind lying smiles and rosy cheeks. He sees the angry boy who would have killed him, if he could, for playing with his stupid truck. He sees the girl who would have ripped his hair out if she was strong enough, for colouring in a page in her book. The only difference between him and them is they forget their fury, because they cannot act on it.
He does not, because he can.
The children – and the adults – hide their meanness, because they think only they are mean. It is a conspiracy of niceness. Be nice to everyone who's nice to you, because they can't see what you really are.
Tom sees. Tom sees it all.
They think he is different, but he is the same as them all.
He thinks, for a moment, that the old man will change it all.
This is a man who has a lower nature, and has chosen a higher one. Perhaps he can teach Tom to do the same.
It isn't that Tom is unwilling. He is disgusted by the primitive, the petty, the dishonest. He craves betterment. Perfection. For him, and for the world.
But it takes only moments for him to sift past the layers in the old man's brain. He is no better, this one; he has only persuaded himself that he is better. And that is an uglier thing still.
He sees the old man's mouth curl in disgust. Sees his recognition of what Tom is, something like himself. Sees his disgust, far worse than the contempt of the children and the fearful ignorance of the adults.
This is Tom's first experience of hypocrisy, and it burns him more than anything he has seen in anyone's mind before, ever.
At last, he sees the value of hiding.
It is hypocrisy, something he reviles, but others are his ticket to greatness. To shape a world of perfection, with all the lies stripped away.
He meets a different kind of falsehood at school. The Pure prize the collective. They put aside their individual interests and feelings, follow codes of honour designed to protect family and name. It is still lying, but at least it is lying for something better than one's own ends.
This is a kind of hypocrisy that he can tolerate, he decides.
In this, at least, the ends justify the means.
There are three women who do not hide from him, and yet who are utterly impenetrable to him too.
His mother is a vivid memory, stolen first from his carers' minds, then his treacherous father's. But memories cannot be penetrated for further memories. He will never know what she thought of him, or if she thought anything at all.
Bella's thoughts are naked and one-dimensional. They are love, and love, and love and love and love. But no one loves like that. Not really. There are other things hidden beneath her thoughts. There must be. He just hasn't found them yet.
The Potter woman's thoughts are just as naked and single-minded. Her son. Her son. Her son her son her son.
He wonders, watching her dispassionately, if this is what his mother thought in her final moments. Wonders if this wrenching thing is something she felt for him. He wonders if this thing he sees in Lily and in Bella is, in fact, truth; a perfection reserved to women alone.
He feels the beginnings of something hungry. Crawling, greedy fingertips scribing deep, cavernous ridges across his mind.
His spell against her is met by uncontrolled, wandless magic, silver waves of warmth, and he feels them slide into those ridges and work him apart at the seams.
There is white light, then he shatters, and then Tom's world is no more.