Harry took a deep breath and stood up from his seat. Dumbledore observed the raven haired boy from the corner of his eye, placing the pensieve on his desk carefully.
"Now Harry," the headmaster started calmly, "It has taken me years, decades even, to attain this. This memory is perhaps the rarest in my collection. While it might not be helpful in the same sense that Professor Slughorn's was, it may allow us to have a better understanding of how Lord Voldemort thinks, and how he feels and perceives things. It will show us how he deals with things he doesn't understand and scare him."
"Professor. You told me that Slughorn's memory was useful because it would show us how he started his... his quest, for lack of a better word, for immortality, right?" Harry questioned.
"That is correct."
"Then," Harry started, brows furrowed, "What is this going to show us?"
"This, Harry, will perhaps let you better your understanding of how Voldemort deals with pain and suffering. What your about to see is one of Voldemort's many acts of revenge. However, this one in particular is one of the most important to him. Are you ready?
Harry took another deep breath, nodded to himself and plunged his face into the pensive.
Swiftly and silently, quick as a fox, he crept through the small village of Little Hangleton. His destination was now in plain sight, a handsome manor house surrounded by a wide expanse of neatly kept green lawn. Most people might look at this building with awe or ill contained envy, but for Tom Riddle, this was the source of his pain and rage.
He wondered briefly if they would scream. Would they beg? God he hoped they'd beg. He wanted to hear them plead with him, ask for forgiveness. He wanted them to offer him everything under the sun and for it to not be enough. Oh how he would treasure it.
No one would see him, that much was certain. For one thing, there was no one around except for an old gardener, who barely glanced at him as he tended the lawn. For another, even if someone was there to see him, no one would suspect him, a mere sixteen year old boy, of what he was about to do.
Tom climbed the stairs calmly, his anticipation not showing on his face. As he approached the door, he wondered idly if they had been stupid enough to leave the door unlocked. Turning the handle, he realized he was mistaken and pulled out his wand instead.
"Alohamora." The lock clicked and he pushed the door open.
Not paying attention to the elaborate decorations of the manor house, he strode with purpose down the hall and to the left to the dining room. While he had never visited, or even seen, this house before, he found that his feet seemed to know exactly where he needed to go.
Tom paused just beside the doorway, listening to the frequent clinking and clattering of forks and knives against plates. Tom allowed a small smirk to grace his face. They weren't expecting him. But of course, how could they be, they had, after all, wanted nothing to do with him.
He recalled briefly how his father, after whom he had been named, had abandoned his pregnant wife. If it wasn't for him, his mother would not have been too weak, after living on the streets, to survive labour. If it weren't for him, he wouldn't have had to grow up in an orphanage, being ridiculed and bullied for eleven years.
He pushed those thought from his mind. None of that mattered now, he thought, a dark grin shadowing his face. He would enjoy this, that much was assured. And with that, he stepped from the shadows that had been concealing him.
Tom allowed a blank look to slide over his face, held his wand aloof and observed the people before him.
At the head of the dining table sat the oldest of the three seated. Looking to be in his early sixties, the man sat, hair graying, alongside his wife. But neither of these people held Tom's attention for long. This was because his stare was lock on him. Neat black hair, pale skin, and dark eyes. If not for the age difference, Tom would have thought he was looking in a mirror.
One by one, eyes began to flicker over to wear Tom stood, and shock was apparent on each face. Tom watched, his expression almost bored as his grandparents looked between Tom Riddle Sr. and himself. He watched as his father looked him up and down, brows furrowed in confusion. It was only when his gaze fell on Tom's still out stretched wand that realization started to dawn on him face.
"Hello father," Tom drawled, twirling his wand between his fingers. "I don't believe we've been properly introduced."
Disgust was evident in his voice as his father spoke, while fear still lingered in his eyes, which kept flickering back to Tom's wand.
"I thought I had made it clear that I wanted nothing to do with your mother's world of- of freaks." Riddle Sr. Spat.
"Tom," Mary Riddle spoke, carefully eyeing her grandson. "What's going on?"
Mary, however, seemed to be the only one in the dark, for Thomas Riddle had now spoken.
"It's clearly the product of that filth that lived in the Gaunt's Shack years ago, Mary dear. It's probably come for money. However, it's not going to get any.
The man stood, his intent made clear on his face, when Tom pointed him wand at him.
"Avada Kedavra." There was a flash of green light, and Thomas Riddle lay dead upon the floor.
Tom ignored the screaming that had begun and calmly pointed his wand at Mary.
"You should feel fortunate, grandmother," Tom stated with a faintly amused tone of voice. "Your end will come quickly and painlessly.
"Avada Kedavra." There was a blaze of green light, and Mary Riddle collapsed on the floor like a marionette puppet whose strings had been cut.
Then Tom turned to his father, whose gaze was jumping between the two bodies on the floor with horror. He raised his wand and the man started to shake.
"Any last words before you cease to exist?" Tom bragged, a look of demented glee finally making its way onto his face.
Tom Riddle Sr. gathered what seemed to be the last of his remaining courage and said, "You were an accident and should have never been born. You and the rest of your kind are all going to end up the same. Weak, dead, and alone. Just like your mother." He punctuated each word firmly, as if worried that Tom might not understand or hear him properly. "The only way she could even get me to look at her was by enchanting me wi- with witchcraft. Because love doesn't exist!"
And with that Tom smiled.
"Well, at least we agree on one thing,"
He lifted his wand and spoke the curse. His father was dead before he hit the ground.
"Love doesn't exist." Tom tilted his head thoughtfully, and then stepped over the bodies of his paternal family, their faces frozen in the same expression of terror. Feeling pleased with himself, Tom left the house, locked the door behind him, and went to convict his uncle of the crime he, himself, had just committed.
Harry felt himself being lifted from the pensieve, his knees buckling when his feet hit the floor of Dumbledore's office. Harry felt lightheaded after what he had just seen.
"That was..." Harry started, words failing him.
Dumbledore just nodded gravely and told him to consider what he had just seen, and that he would see him when their next meeting had been scheduled.