Tom Marvolo Riddle had so much potential when I brought him here, Albus mused, following the progress of the young man—and several of his female admirers—across the grounds toward the lake, but now it seems that he's determined to waste that potential on petty cruelties. I know it was he who took that book from the Restricted Section. I know he's behind the hexing of Myrtle Marsham—and all because her heritage.
Riddle enjoyed his popularity and cultivated the attentions of the pureblooded girls, but Tom's Transfigurations professor had quickly come to suspect the boy of discouraging his "less suitable" devotees in unwholesome ways. Too many Muggle-born girls, girls who had once been wont to follow the handsome Slytherin, had been visiting the hospital ward.
And after Nurse Yaxley sees to their . . . hurts, those girls shrink from Tom in the corridors.
The Headmaster, of course, had told him not to concern himself with the "trivialities" of his students' "adolescent love traumas," but Albus could not help himself. He was not convinced that love was Tom's aim; the boy seemed more interested in developing a cult of personality around himself than indulging in the favors of any of the female students who so obviously longed to offer them to the boy.
No, he strings them along, cat-and-mouse-like, only to swat them away when they become too . . . amorous. Yes, that is exactly what he does. He likes playing with them. And now he's playing with her, Albus thought, staring out of the window and watching how happily Minerva McGonagall was laughing at something Tom was saying.
He told himself that he only cared about this state of affairs because McGonagall was a bright girl with great potential, herself, potential that she, too, was wasting in an effort to be more pleasing to Tom. He told himself that he was only concerned because McGonagall's marks had slipped, and there was no way he would be able to grant her that apprenticeship that they had—until recently—so frequently discussed.
I tell myself a great many things, and sometimes, Albus thought, training his Omnioculars on McGonagall's long white neck, I lie.
But Tom still bore watching.
For who knows into what mischief his "potential" might lead her?