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sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-15 12:11 pm
Entry tags:

In Every Word; PG-13. HBP-compliant; Spoilers.

Summary: Tom Riddle lays traps, makes anagrams, and discovers all of Slughorn's secrets.
Notes: For [ profile] mctabby, who if memory serves requested "something, anything Slughorn". I hope I have fulfilled the requirement; it may be doubtful, but I have done my best to show him as his favourite student saw him. At any rate, I hope it pleases.
Warnings: Voyeurism, some mind control, internalized homophobia.

Also available at AO3.


Tom Riddle's first encounter with Professor Slughorn was less than flattering for both of them.

Slughorn, Tom found out later (and oh what a delight it was to sift through the man's memories), thought that the young boy was a stuck-up rich-man's son, like most of the students who went into Slytherin. Until he knew who the boy's family was, Tom held no real interest for Horace Slughorn. His eyes had gone no further than Tom's handsome young face and vague sneer of distaste, not lingering on the second-hand robes or the white-knuckled grip on his wand which indicated a poor boy and a Muggle-raised. He couldn't know that Tom had been dismayed not at Hogwarts but at the hundreds of children packed into the Great Hall with him, smelly and rude children, and far too many for Tom's tastes. How was Slughorn to know all this?

Tom, on the other hand, had stood at the Slytherin table after being sorted and looked up when another boy pointed out their Head of House and groaned inwardly. He'd heard on the train that Slytherin house was the house of the ambitious, and yet here was this walrus of a man at its head, complacent and a little gouty and foolish-looking. Tom had rather hoped the hawk-nosed whippet of a Divinations might have been his Head of House; that man, Professor Bredon, looked more like a hunter. Like a powerful man ought to look.

And yet Professor Slughorn wore rich robes and was well-fed, both things that Tom hungered after even as a child. To own things, to be secure and safe; never to be complacent, but to have a reasonably defensible stronghold should the siege come. What siege this was to be, Tom was never really certain of, but the fear that drove him was already well imbued by the time he began at Hogwarts school.

Their second encounter went rather more impressively. Tom had devoured the books he'd bought at Diagon Alley and committed large chunks of it to memory, a skill he'd always had and rarely been able to put to such good use. He knew answers to three of the five questions Slughorn asked the class and quickly grew bored with the simple potion he was required to brew as a preliminary test. Slughorn noticed him adjusting the proportions and, rather than demanding what he was doing in front of the entire class, merely winked at him and kept him after.

"I'll be late," Tom said warily, when Slughorn laid his hand on Tom's thin arm and kept him in his seat while the others were leaving.

"You'll have a pass," Slughorn said. For such an out-of-shape man, his grip was impressively powerful. "Now what is this you've done here? My my, we have a young Potions master in the making!"

Tom was pleased and flattered to have the attention of the professor, and Slughorn was intrigued by the bright young man who, he now saw, had a second-hand cauldron and already-worn robes. But intelligence was common and could fade; Slughorn had seen too many youngsters burn out before they were fifteen, do poorly on their OWLs and drop into the segment of students who would leave as soon as they turned seventeen, not bothering with their NEWTs. It was common enough in Tom's day.

Slughorn had no use for such children. So he was friendly with Tom, perhaps a little friendlier than with some of the other children, but nothing more.

In Tom Riddle's third year he encountered a few of the big boys, nearly eighteen, returning to the dormitory after hours. He discovered then the first of Slughorn's secrets, faithfully kept from the lower years.

He had been staying up late in the common room, reading a book on legilimency he'd stolen from a sixth-year girl with Restricted Section access. He was trying to discover if he could seek out the bugs and rats that lived in the walls of the castle (all castles had vermin, an unpleasant but not entirely useless discovery he'd made). He thought he was doing rather well to have found a nest of spiders, and was crouched behind a chair examining them when the entry to the Slytherin common room opened and three big seventh-years stumbled in.

Tom realised not only his predicament, caught behind the chair, but also his advantage; he drew up against the wall, ignoring the spiders that scurried over his shoes, and pressed himself into shadow. He was invisible now. Safe, too. And he could hear everything that was said.

It was mostly foolishness, and in short order Tom realised the boys were drunk; he gathered quickly enough that they had been drinking firewhiskey with a professor, and that the professor was Slughorn. There had been girls there from Ravenclaw as well, and dancing. One of the boys was Jack Bones, the brightest of the Slytherin seventh years (not that this was saying much, in Tom's opinion) and he was theorising that Slughorn was trying to pair them off, playing matchmaker. The other two declared that Jack was merely a suspicious bastard and it had been a ripping good party.

Sitting there, listening as the debate spiralled downwards into a discussion of the particular characteristics of the girls, Tom realised that this was not simply some bizarre aberration on Slughorn's part; these boys were perfectly at ease with the party they'd just come from. It had not been their first, and they had left two more Slytherins -- a fifth and a sixth year -- behind them to keep dancing.

Tom had been preoccupied with other things until now; with making himself likeable, with avoiding his fellows when possible and with making sure that he, above all the other students in any given class, was memorable. He had been preoccupied with learning everything he could as fast as he could, as if something might escape him if he didn't.

Now, however, he turned his attentions to Slughorn exclusively. It was that unerring instinct of a snake chasing a juicy mouse -- he scented prey. Of course; still the complacent, richly-dressed professor he'd thought so little of when he first saw him, the same jovial nothing of a schoolteacher he'd always been, no matter how he had praised Tom's industry and ingenuity in these past few years.

But how could he not have noticed this before? How could he, Tom Riddle, who knew the pleasures that power could bring, not noticed the subtle control Slughorn exerted over his students, over their parents and even his fellow professors? Tom knew nothing of Wizarding culture or politics, had never bothered to give a damn about the outside world. But now when Slughorn mentioned that Altair had come to tea the day before, Tom would make careful note and sometimes eavesdrop a bit and realise that Altair was the Altair Black, the famous amateur Quidditch champion and the most highly-sought-after guest at any party in Wizarding society. This...this walrus had hosted Altair Black because the man's nephew was a part of, and here Tom's own mental voice dropped to a hushed whisper, the Slug Club.

Tom was not in awe of the Slug Club or afraid of it; he merely wished, desperately, to be a member. There could be no inner circle which Tom did not penetrate -- not the stupid groups of friends and study mates his fellows formed, but the real circles of power. The elite Ravenclaw sixth years who were studying Patronus casting with Professor Merrythought had found Tom indispensible as a fetch-and-carry boy and keeper of the chocolate; the gang of Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors who met belowstairs to plot mischief against the other houses used him as an inside agent. Tom would not let the Slug Club escape his grasp.

He began to let slip some of his preciously guarded secrets, began to accidentally show Slughorn what he was truly capable of. He had always felt that his father must be powerful, and now he began to search for Tom Riddle's origins -- if he could prove that he came of good blood, perhaps that would be the final trick that brought him into Slughorn's good graces.

What he found, in the end, was most dismaying. It was only a temporary setback, however; if his father was the filthy Muggle he had always considered his mother to be, and his whore of a mother was a witch, then she must at least have come from good stock. Here he was not disappointed, and his rage against his father for casting aside Salazar Slytherin's heiress began to grow.

When he returned for sixth year with the Peverell coat of arms on his right-hand forefinger and the screams of his father drifting satisfyingly through his dreams, Tom got what he wanted. He'd spent whole days together practicing his Legilimency on his uncle Morfin until he perfected it; it was summer and the orphanage headmistress did not miss him. The ring drew Slughorn's attention and attested to Tom's bloodline better than any brag Tom could give.

"Now, Tom," Slughorn said, having accepted Tom's offer to walk back to the dungeons with him after dinner. "I think you are an extraordinary young man, and I have a little invitation to offer you..."

He supposed, later, that he could have simply manipulated Slughorn into it using his newfound Legilimency, but that defeated the point of the game. Half the fun was in setting the trap and watching it spring.

It wasn't long before he realised that his trap had sprung and in the process had thrown him directly into the jaws of a much more carefully laid one. He had to admire Slughorn's prowess. The man was truly a master. Whatever Tom might take away from his membership in the Slug Club -- whether any of them were a success or failure -- Slughorn had, with a few idle words and a handful of hours a month spent in planning parties, ensured that the smartest and most driven children in the school worshiped him, flattered him, bribed him with gifts.

Tom had become a subject of Slughorn's benevolent tyranny, and he loathed it. He would not be in sway to any person, he had promised himself that when he killed his father, because look where trust and love got you. Dead in your own home at your son's hands. Pathetic way to end, was what it was.

But Slughorn had power that Tom wanted, and it was not unamusing to toy with him. He had trapped Slughorn into inviting him into a trap of power, and within that trap Tom laid other smaller ones. He made Slughorn like him and favour him, and it was so simple, just a matter of picking his brain when he was otherwise occupied and providing that occupation with a sack of crystallised pineapple. Slughorn wasn't simple, but he was easily distracted in matters of no import, and Tom's shallow siftings in his mind didn't even register.

Tom sensed, however, that there was a sublevel to Slughorn's mind, another layer of thought beneath the politics and lesson plans and gossip that floated on the surface. Of course there were several layers to any mind; it could be peeled like an onion, and, if the subject displeased, it could always be left that way as well. But Slughorn's was different, more like a flat surface covering a deep lake, as if there were a thin sheet of iron between his upper thoughts and his inner mind.

Tom hated being left out of anything.

If Legilimency would not do it -- and Tom's untutored attempts seemed to indicate that -- then he would simply have to bide his time. So bide he did, and his patience paid off.

Slughorn's quarters were not, as had been tradition, in the dungeons; he claimed the damp gave him chest colds. It was true he had a lot of chest to keep warm.

Slughorn lived and kept his office on an upper floor instead. His quarters adjoined the office through a single door, set into one of the side walls and quite cleverly concealed as a window. It was amazing the number of people who never noticed that only one of Slughorn's office walls was actually an external wall of the building.

Because Tom watched and waited and picked minds when he saw fit to do so, he knew that Slughorn often met with Riley, who had replaced Jack Bones as the Prefect and head of the seventh-year Slytherins when Tom was in sixth. This wasn't unusual, in fact; most Heads of Houses kept up on the activity of their students through the seventh-year Prefect. It was not quite as usual for Slughorn to meet with a sixth-year Ravenclaw named Nona, who spent a lot of time with Riley, but then for a while Tom had dismissed this as more of Slughorn's matchmaking. After all, the man had set Tom himself up twice with Min McGonagall, remarking what a striking pair they made, and Tom wasn't averse to playing along. She seemed fond of him and it was true that they looked very well together, and she was pureblood even if she was Scots.

But something, some odd tic in Riley's mind when it came to Slughorn, made Tom curious. He casually mentioned Slughorn to Riley once or twice to see if he could get a better grip on the little tug it created in Riley's head, but like Slughorn, Riley had put up barriers around certain things, and it would have been more time and effort than Tom was willing to spend on the matter. Likewise, Nona Bole was entirely impenetrable, not unusual in Ravenclaws. With practice he could have done it, and he would have to practice with Ravenclaws before his time at Hogwarts was done, but it was dangerous to do so in a public hallway, where Professor Dumbledore seemed to take delight in lurking round corners to surprise Tom when he least wanted to be interrupted.

He was working on something else entirely when the opportunity finally arose to discover what Slughorn's favourites had done to so endear them to their professor. He was, as a matter of fact, robbing Slughorn's office at the time; the man kept all his really valuable files in his quarters behind heavy ward and lock, but he had valuable books on the shelves and Tom had thought there would be no better time than Hallowe'en night to investigate the collection, so that he would know what levers to use to gain access to it.

He knew there would be an after-party, of course, but certainly not for hours yet. And if he did nip back for something, Tom had set up tripwards to warn him. Slughorn's office was enormous and there were plenty of places to hide. That was the first thing Tom always did when he saw a room, the first thing he'd always done; it was a game. If I were trapped in this room, where would I hide?

It was a good thing, too, because it was barely nine o'clock (he'd stupidly let himself become engrossed in one of the books, De Lycanthropica or Upon The Condition Of The Werewolf) when one of the tripwards loosed a shiver over his skin and sent him crawling under the long, low empire couch near the fireplace.

"Now then," Slughorn said, unlocking his office door (Tom always locked things behind him; made people less suspicious) and tossing his ring of keys around one finger as he entered, "Let me see, what do I have appropriate to the occasion..."

Tom had a perfect view from under the couch, looking out from the end. He quietly cast a camoflauge charm, just in case, but he doubted he'd need it. Slughorn was rummaging in his considerable liquor cabinet, which was locked nearly as tightly as his secret files. Riley and Nona stood in the doorway, his arm around her waist, both smiling in that smug way they had when they were together. Tom rolled his eyes.

Slughorn produced a dusty bottle of champagne and held it up to the light of the candelabras nearby, considering it. He produced three champagne flutes with a twist of the hand -- an old and rather cheap trick -- and offered the bottle to Riley, who raised his eyebrows, asking for permission. When Slughorn beamed on him in approval he popped the cork with a neatness that told Tom this was not the first time he'd done so.

"Let us toast," Slughorn said, picking up the champagne Riley poured for him, "To a long and, if I may be so bold, a fruitful union."

Nona giggled and twisted a ring around on her finger -- aha, things were beginning to make sense now. Riley had proposed like a fool, and like a silly bint she'd accepted him. And like a doddering old uncle, Slughorn was smiling on them. Well, that made a certain amount of sense; neither of them were destined for greatness above a higher-up job in the Ministry and maybe a few scholarly papers to their name. Marriage was all right for them. Nona's father would help Riley get an important job and Riley's parents would ensure Nona got that Oxford acceptance she'd been chasing after.

"Come, sit, let's discuss your bright futures," Slughorn said, gesturing towards the fireplace. Fortunately, the empire couch was unusually uncomfortable, and Slughorn took up his usual armchair, leaving Nona and Riley to the smaller loveseat. In a way, it was perfect; from here Tom could see everything from the shoulders down on the students, and all of Slughorn. More than he had ever wanted to, really. "Now, have you told your parents yet?"

"No, sir," Riley said excitedly. "We wanted to tell you first -- "

" -- because you introduced us," Nona added, with another giggle.

"I'm deeply honoured," Slughorn said, with such gravity that it was hard for Tom not to snigger. "This doesn't let you out, however! I demand to be made godfather when Nona here has her first bouncing baby boy -- I won't accept anything less!"

"Of course, professor," Nona said. Slughorn accio'd the champagne and Riley refilled their glasses, topping off the bare sip Slughorn had taken from his.

"You'll be finishing school, of course," Slughorn continued. "Riley can spend the year earning a wage and saving up for a nice little house -- why, you could make enough in a year to put a very nice down payment on a house in the fashionable district, you know!"

"Could I?" Riley asked, fascinated.

"With my help, lad -- well, I know a real estate agent or three," Slughorn said, tapping the side of his nose. "But Nona simply must finish out and take her NEWTs, lad -- I can't lose my best Potions student in ten years!"

Nona had curled up against Riley on the loveseat, nearly on his lap, and Tom stared at Riley's pale hand where it lay on her thigh, fingers stark white against her dark formal robes like some kind of albino spider.

They talked on in this fashion for a while, and Tom made short mental notes of the people they discussed while his active mind was torn between watching who drank how much and how Slughorn was reacting to the pair of them. It was fascinating, really; the man's eyes devoured the pair with a strange mixture of hunger and satisfaction. As though he was taking personal pleasure in having paired them off; as if he was anticipating something. Tom reached out carefully into Slughorn's mind and found that he was almost obscenely gratified, not in having matched up such an appropriate couple but in imagining how grateful they must be to him, how they must love and bless him. Particularly when they had sex. Which, to judge from the lust practically rolling off Nona in waves, they certainly were.

It was distasteful, but not really anything more than that; from Slughorn it was practically expected, wasn't it?

"Now, my dear," Slughorn said, standing and placing his still half-full champagne flute on the table nearby, "We men have things to discuss, if Riley is to support you in a manner to which you would like to become accustomed. Run on and get your party robes on; I'll see you in a few hours when the party downstairs is over."

Nona giggled one last, incredibly annoying time, and kissed him on the cheek as she left, the locks snicking shut automatically behind her.

Tom could only see legs and feet now -- Riley was standing, facing Slughorn, who was checking the door.

"It's an excellent match you've made, young man," Slughorn said, returning to the little enclosure of couches and chairs near the fireplace. "Did Alexanders help you with the ring?"

"It was amazing," Riley said, awed. "I just mentioned that I was one of your students, and he took almost half off the price. It's still small -- "

"To her, my boy, it outshines the sun. Yes -- a very good match. With her at your elbow you will go, oh, quite far."

"I know," Riley replied. "Thank you, again."

"My pleasure, I do enjoy seeing young men and women in love. Just remember old Slughorn when you've reached the top, won't you?"

Riley laughed. "How could I forget you, Professor?"

"Oh, it happens now and again."

Something was going on that Tom didn't quite comprehend; the mixed signals from Riley, addled by champagne, were drowning out the steady and disturbing thoughts that he couldn't quite decipher, coming from Slughorn.

"And your...other little problem?" Slughorn asked, softly.

"Sir, I've tried, really I have -- "

Slughorn laughed. "Why, my dear boy?"

"Well..." Riley sounded unsure of himself now. "It isn't right. And it's dangerous."

"You know, I think, that you can always come to me for help."

"Yes, sir, but that's the point, isn't it? I won't always be at Hogwarts -- not even for another full year."

"Riley, Riley! Surely you don't think you're the only one in the world?" Slughorn laughed again. It was a rather unpleasant sound. "I know a lot of people, lad. You can't think you're the only one I know who likes to indulge? Why, in a few years, you will have young men begging for the pleasure of your company, and in the meantime..."

Tom had thought that the movement in the hem of Riley's robes had been caused by the other boy rubbing his hands, or shaking, or something; now, as the robes themselves fell to the floor with a soft whump, he realised that it had been caused by them being unbuttoned.

"Unless, of course, you prefer not to," Slughorn said. Tom watched in horror as Slughorn's robes likewise fell to the ground, his elephantine trousers following in short order. Oh, no. Oh, no....

"No, I...I want to," Riley said, sounding so shy. A part of Tom was pointing out that with a few potions and a wink, Riley could have got any number of more appropriate partners, even as the rest of him was screaming in disgust and horror.

And then it got worse.

Tom had often wondered why Slughorn kept such a low and uncomfortable couch in his office as the one he was currently hiding under, and apparently he had finally found out. Oh god, he'd sat on that couch before -- and now Riley was kneeling on it, forehead pressed against the ridge of the back as Slughorn stood behind him and whispered reassuring things and oh, no.

Sex was a very complicated thing even with girls. It was, in and of itself, enjoyable, but it was also messy and there was all this...dampness involved, and it put you at a disadvantage. Anyone who'd grown past short pants knew that sex was about power and if you weren't the one in power then you were --

Well, Riley.

Who did seem to be enjoying himself, it was true. But then of course Horace Slughorn's partners would; he would make sure they did. And for a lonely boy who fancied other boys and couldn't fit his tiny brain around another way to get them, Tom could see how the professor would have his appeal.

So this was what made you a favourite, he supposed. Another perk of the Slug Club, like sweets and gossip students brought him.

Tom bit his wrist to keep from gagging or possibly laughing hysterically; it wasn't the fact that it was two men (though aside from mutual wanking he'd never considered the mechanics and from where Slughorn was standing, oh, that must be worse than the dampness) nor was it the fact that it was a professor and a student. He'd been angling to seduce his female Transfigs professor since September, now that his voice seemed to have settled. It was just...the sheer transactive nature of it, the confirmation that love meant very little and power meant everything, and the stupidity of Riley for allowing himself to enter into a business agreement where the profit was all on one side.

This, then, was the last trap within a trap -- Slughorn's final manipulation. Not the goal, precisely, Tom was aware of that, but simply another trap that could be laid, and so it was.

By his own venerated ancestor Salazar, why was the man still a bloody schoolteacher?

He did anagrams in his head to keep from having to listen, the words and letters marching obediently behind his eyelids as they always did, until he realised that the terrible and ominous creaking of the couch had stopped and the robes were gone from the floor.

He looked out and saw the door closing behind Riley; Slughorn was mopping his forehead, beaming and refreshing himself with one final sip of champagne. After a pause for apparently satisfied reflection, he crossed to the window-door entrance to his quarters and Tom saw his chance, bolting from the room.

Once out in the corridor he allowed himself exactly thirty seconds to straighten and dust his robes, collect his whirling wits, and make sure he hadn't left anything behind. Ring on hand, wand in pocket, journal in the inside pocket, robes intact; thank the Great Snake for small favours.

He was just leaving the hallway that led to Slughorn's office when he encountered, of all people, Nona.

"Hi Tom," she said, giggling and waving at him as she passed. He turned and nodded curtly to her in greeting, then stopped and stood there, watching.

She didn't even notice him as she reached Slughorn's office door, knocked, and listened. The door opened. Then it closed again, and the locks snicked.

Oh, clever. Clever, clever man. Tom felt he'd sprung a mousetrap on Horace Slughorn only to find that the mouse in question was stuffed full of nitroglycerine, and he was now staring down in consternation at the crater where his nice tidy floor had been.

He had responsibilities, however; he should make himself visible at the party below before it quite ended. So he went back to the Great Hall, and he accidentally knocked over a punchbowl, quite ensuring that his presence would be remembered and, indeed, remarked on. Minerva helped him clean it up, and afterwards allowed him to escort her on a walk around the grounds. He skipped Slughorn's second party, but then he had his own reasons and he knew that if he stood just here and kissed Minerva just like that, it was almost a surety that someone would look down from Slughorn's party and see them.

It wasn't until lunch the following day that Slughorn even put in an appearance; Tom was sitting alone at one end of the table, doing the Sunday Prophet's crossword, amusing himself by rewriting it so that the clues held an anagram of the answer. A shadow fell over his newspaper and he looked up in time to see Slughorn seating himself across from him.

"Good afternoon, Professor," Tom said evenly. Slughorn grinned at him.

"Enjoy yourself last night, Tom?" he asked, with a wink. Tom allowed himself a modest blush.

"I really like Minerva," he said.

"I'm glad. You've another few years ahead of you, certainly, but I doubt she'd mind the wait. Minerva likes intelligent men who aren't afraid of her, and that's a very small group of men indeed," Slughorn replied with a jovial smile. "That wasn't what I was referring to, however."

"Do you mean the party? I said I'd fix the punchbowl -- "

"I mean the other party," Slughorn said. "Where you were an uninvited guest."

Tom, for one of the few times in his life, actually felt his jaw drop. Slughorn burst into laughter.

"Tom, Tom! I'm not a fool you know," he said, shaking his finger. "I don't know how you got in, or why, but rest assured I know a tripward when I feel one. Clumsy! You'd have done better to drop some gravel outside my door or bribe Peeves to make some trouble if he saw anyone."

This time the heat in Tom's cheeks was real; how could he have been stupid enough to get caught?

"You hid very thoroughly. It took me quite a while to figure out where you must be," Slughorn continued.

"Sir, I -- "

"Tut, Tom! If I didn't think you were capable of comprehending such things, I would have thrown you out," Slughorn continued. "We understand each other, don't we?"

Tom wondered if they, in fact, did. It occurred to him that Slughorn must have enjoyed it -- bending Riley over the antique couch while Tom listened helplessly beneath it.

And then he was fairly sure that while he might understand Slughorn, Slughorn didn't even understand himself, let alone Tom Marvolo Riddle. To Slughorn all that -- Riley, Nona, his voyeuristic pleasure in their engagement -- was simply a perk. It wasn't the pre-planned layer of trap within trap, it wasn't strategy at all. It was just him positioning people to give him what he wanted in a way that ensured maximum payout. It was all so...commercial.

Tom was in it for the intricacy of the thing, building inevitabilities like delicately balanced machines just to see how lovely their workings were. Slughorn didn't even realise what he was doing, too buried in his own self-gratification to appreciate the beauty of the process.

Well, that suited Tom fine. Playing against a natural talent with no real training would hone his wits.

"So, to return to the question, Tom...did you enjoy yourself?" Slughorn repeated. "After all, Riley will be leaving soon, and he's been the only boy really worth my particular attentions, aside from yourself."

Tom looked as innocent as he knew how. Which was, if he said so himself, very innocent indeed.

"I'm smarter than Riley," he said slowly, as if he were working something out.

"Indeed, my boy, I think you are. And the things I could teach you outside of class would be...considerable."

I think so too, Professor...

It wasn't hard, at first; after all, Tom had some experience in fiddling with memories, and Slughorn rewrote his own personal history so often that he was a very pliant subject. He made sure the professor's memories included enjoying himself with Tom, and he made sure that at least once or twice, the professor remembered Tom being the one standing behind the couch. It was distasteful to formulate those memories, but not half so distasteful as it would have been to actually have done the acts in them. And in the forty or fifty minutes while Slughorn dreamed happy dreams of Tom Riddle's arse bent over the couch, Tom occupied himself with Slughorn's books, in particular the ones dealing with immortal wizards of the ages. And there was the hunt for the Chamber of Secrets, of course; Tom found help in Slughorn's books there, too.

When Slughorn introduced Riley into the dynamic once more, as Tom knew he must, things became more complicated. On the other hand, Riley was every inch as enjoyable as Slughorn had said he would be. All it required was a little sleeping potion in the good professor's drink while Slughorn was trying to relax Tom enough to go through with it, and Tom had an agreeable and experienced young man all to himself. It was good practice. One never knew what skills would be useful out there in the wide world.

Perhaps as a triumph, this was in some ways unsatisfying; Tom knew he'd won, but if Slughorn had been considering this a competition, Tom knew his professor would think they had achieved a comfortable draw.

Thinking ahead, he saw only one way to be sure that Slughorn would remember him always as the winner, and that was to leave a trap behind him. It wouldn't spring for years, but when it did, it might just snap Slughorn's neck completely.

He had read enough about horcruxes to glean their general meaning and know that they would likely be his life's -- hah, well, not perhaps his entire life's -- work. He knew that he would be famous for it. And he knew that Horace Slughorn would find the very idea repulsive in the extreme. Slughorn was a manipulator, not a murderer, and Tom was already a killer thrice over. A few more murders would hardly be difficult.

But Horace Slughorn thought no "special" student of his did anything he did not himself compel or inspire them to do. And so, after one Slug Club party in which Slughorn had particularly flattered him, Tom lingered after and -- heart hammering excitedly -- set the trap.

"Sir, I wondered what you know about...about horcruxes?"


My first thought was, he lied in every word,
That hoary cripple, with malicious eye
Askance to watch the workings of his lie
On mine, and mouth scarce able to afford
Suppression of the glee, that pursed and scored
Its edge, at one more victim gained thereby.
-- Robert Browning, "Childe Roland"

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 05:14 pm (UTC)(link)
srys havent found time to read ur entries but just wanted to say hola from ny <3 andrea

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 05:27 pm (UTC)(link)
That was highly disturbing. And not just because of the mental images. V. nicely done.

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 05:39 pm (UTC)(link)
Thanks. I'm a bit disturbed by it myself :D

oh, what a nasty pun

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 05:41 pm (UTC)(link)
Quoting Browning, are we? No pun intended?

Yucky. And not just the pun.

Re: oh, what a nasty pun

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 05:47 pm (UTC)(link)
*grins* Well, you reminded me of the poem, which I have in my bookmarks, and man did that first stanza work well :D

It is rather yucky, I agree. Disturbing, what one comes up with...

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 05:51 pm (UTC)(link)
*just disturbed. very very disturbed* O_O;;;;;;;

Kiddies, when a mustached walrus man asks you to do the naughty with him, JUST SAY NO.

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 07:04 pm (UTC)(link)
Well, really, it's more like "Gentlemen, when the handsome and callow youth agrees to be your catamite too easily, rethink your strategy." :D

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[identity profile] 2005-08-02 06:04 pm (UTC)(link)

Very Slughorn, indeed! I think you've really got him in character here. And you made it a Riddlefic! Delightfully detailed with spells and plots and drinks and books, and I'm admiring how intense and driven Tom is, so focused on figuring things out and turning them to his advantage. This fic might well be used as a guide to Subspecies of Slytherins - you present different ones very vividly.

Thank you so much for FIC!!! I like it lots and lots. :D *applause*

Re: *applause*

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 06:47 pm (UTC)(link)
Thanks! I'm glad you like it :) I was worried cos it was so Tomcentric, but by god, that boy is addictive to write :D

I didn't think about that, but you're right -- I don't think I've ever written so many Slytherins into one story before, or of so many types...

Re: *applause*

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Re: *applause*

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[identity profile] 2005-08-02 06:17 pm (UTC)(link)
The gap you have filled is likely, indeed. I enjoyed the talent-vs-cunning of this story too. Thanks!

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 06:19 pm (UTC)(link)
Altair Black! Tom/Minerva! Human!Voldemort pimp!Slughorn and Robert freaking Browning! Did this one ever push my buttons—and gods, but it was creepy.

JKR will never write a Voldemort this compelling. So much love.

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 07:03 pm (UTC)(link)
*grins* I'm glad you enjoyed.

I feel like Altair Black should have his own fic, like the wizarding Peter Wimsey...

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 06:50 pm (UTC)(link)
He head read enough about horcruxes to glean their general meaning

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 06:51 pm (UTC)(link)
I think HBP-fic is my new crack.

Seriously, that was well done. And lots of disturbing. Yaagh.

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 07:02 pm (UTC)(link)
Thanks. It was a big heap of unpleasant, wasn't it? :D

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[identity profile] 2005-08-02 07:08 pm (UTC)(link)

That was my only reaction when this story was over. Sam, you are sooo good. Your characterizations were completely dead-on, even with Slughorn's general perviness. Perfect, absolutely perfect.


[identity profile] 2005-08-02 07:10 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you :D

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 07:30 pm (UTC)(link)
q>Of course there were several layers to any mind; it could be peeled like an onion, and, if the subject displeased, it could always be left that way as well.

Disturbing quote from a disturbing story - terrific stuff

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 07:56 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you :D

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 07:47 pm (UTC)(link)
Tom had rather hoped the hawk-nosed whippet of a Defence Against the Dark Arts professor might have been his Head of House; that man, Professor Bredon, looked more like a hunter.

Don't want to nit-pick, but the DADA professor during Tom's school days was Galatea Merrythought, who'd been at Hogwarts for nearly 50 years. (HBP 20/405)

When he returned for fourth year with the Peverell coat of arms on his right-hand forefinger and the screams of his father drifting satisfyingly through his dreams,

Um...Tom kills his father in the summer after his fifth year. (HBP 17/340)

That said, I really loved your Tom in ths fic. How he discovers there are different kinds of powers, how he almost falls in a trap he thinks Slughorn has set, and how he manipulates the situation to suit himself in the end. Lovely fic! :-)

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 07:56 pm (UTC)(link)
Bother. *sighs* This is why I so rarely write history fics; I knew I had the date of Tom's murder attempt wrong. Thanks for the details -- will fix :D

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ext_170: (Headfuck)

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 07:57 pm (UTC)(link)
I cannot count the ways in which this was disturbing.

But oh so brilliant.

Voldemort is the more terrifying when you can see the boy he came from. Not a very pleasant boy but a very real human boy all the same.

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 08:00 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you :)

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 08:12 pm (UTC)(link)
I don't read much fic these days, but when [ profile] mctabby recs Slughorn fic... well, here I am.

I ought to hate you for making me feel a little ill. Squickiness rises with plausibility, in my experience. This is about as nastily plausible as one can get. However, instead I'll take my hat off to you. Fanfic is at its best when it can take the OMGWTF?! and present it as plausible. (The idea of Tom Riddle watching from underneath the couch on which Slughorn's doing a student definitely merits an OMGWTF?!)

[identity profile] 2005-08-03 03:00 am (UTC)(link)
Thanks *grins* It does sound rather implausible when you put it that way, doesn't it?

But then I've made something of a hobby of making the implausible sound logical :D

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 08:33 pm (UTC)(link)
Wow - I love your characterization of Tom in this. You could see why he could easily be the ruler of the world.

[identity profile] 2005-08-03 03:00 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you! I had fun with him.

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 08:48 pm (UTC)(link)
Agh... that was horribly wonderful. I will forever try to get some of those images out of my head.

I loved your personification of Tom and his gradual realization of Slughorn's motives. All of your descriptions were also very clear in telling us what you wanted us to know from them. :) Great fic.

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 09:29 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you :D
tiferet: cute girl in pink dress captioned "not all bad girls wear black" (Default)

[personal profile] tiferet 2005-08-02 08:48 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, damn, Sam, this rocks :D

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 09:29 pm (UTC)(link)
Thanks :D

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 09:00 pm (UTC)(link)
ooooohhhh. (shiver) I love it when you write like this. Everyone else has said well-reasoned things so I am reduced to the incoherent statements of fangirlishness. Good, good, so dark and twisted and good.

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 09:06 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you :)
ext_20798: (wonkaEW-neurotica_dp)

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 09:36 pm (UTC)(link)
Ahh, I can only agree with everyone else: disturbing and disturbingly plausible. And I loved the bits with Tom's anagrams. Excellent look inside Slytherin.

[identity profile] 2005-08-03 02:53 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you :D I'm fond of those anagram bits myself....

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 09:52 pm (UTC)(link)
Ooh, very very nice, and I adore your approach to the Slughorn/Tom sex (ie, none -- Slughorn is just the squickiest), and your characterization is wonderful. I enjoyed it greatly.

[identity profile] 2005-08-03 02:06 am (UTC)(link)
Thanks -- yeah, I don't think even Tom would go through with that, no matter what the prize :D

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 11:02 pm (UTC)(link)
here via mctabby's rec - this is a thing of beauty. your characterizations of tom and slughorn are fascinating and so right, and the writing is so sharp and crystal clear - easily believable as tom's inner voice. I'm not familar with browning - not a poetry person - but that quote is a great fit. you have really intriguing insights into slughorn and tom's minds - I loved this, it's dead on:

And then he was fairly sure that while he might understand Slughorn, Slughorn didn't even understand himself, let alone Tom Marvolo Riddle. To Slughorn all that -- Riley, Nona, his voyeuristic pleasure in their engagement -- was simply a perk. It wasn't the pre-planned layer of trap within trap, it wasn't strategy at all. It was just him positioning people to give him what he wanted in a way that ensured maximum payout. It was all so...commercial.

voldemort is interested in the means, not the ends, and that's the thing that makes him truly crazy rather than just powerhungry. the way you incorporated that into the story, showing that tom's manipulation of people is a game of strategy for him, where the payoff is just one part of the reward, demonstrated just how chilling it is.

really well done, I loved it :)

[identity profile] 2005-08-03 01:27 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

I do think you're right -- it's all about process for Tom Riddle, otherwise he'd have killed Harry within the first ten pages of GoF :D

[identity profile] 2005-08-02 11:04 pm (UTC)(link)
Whoa. That was... mildy disturbing, to say the least. Good, I liked it, but I think my brain needs a nice scrubbing.

I know you said you've never read it, but your Tom Riddle reads a lot like Gormenghast's Steerpike.

[identity profile] 2005-08-03 01:26 am (UTC)(link)
LOL, you are the third person to tell me that I write in the fashion of Gormenghast this week.

Clearly I need to read it :D

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[identity profile] 2005-08-02 11:56 pm (UTC)(link)

Sorry, had to get that one out of my system. ;)

I never got a paedophile vibe from Slughorn in canon (am in a minority there, I think!), but it's pretty easy for me to put that aside because he doesn't really strike me as the important part of this story.

The important part is that you do a pitch-perfect Tom Riddle. You get it across quite well that he's not a good person at all but he's still entirely human. The repeat mentions of anagrams rang true, I think, and I really liked the line about how he always looks for the best hiding places in an unfamiliar room. I really liked the way you characterized him here.

[identity profile] 2005-08-03 01:04 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you *grins* I rather like writing Tom -- it's scary and it's all about walking that fine edge between genius and madness...:D

[identity profile] 2005-08-03 12:26 am (UTC)(link)
Very good, I loved the characterisation, especially of Riddle and your way of showing his inteligence was breathtaking. I really felt like I'd entered the mind of Lord Voldemort, inteligent but also evil. Excellent stuff!

[identity profile] 2005-08-03 01:03 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you! :)
ext_6531: (Bill & the Bride: True love)

[identity profile] 2005-08-03 12:52 am (UTC)(link)
This is simply magnificent. A great character study of both Tom and Slughorn, and the era. Lovely glimpses of the creation of the world Harry knows, which is one of my favourite aspects of any historical fic. Being in Tom's head is chilling, but fascinating, and your Slughorn is just the perfect extension of the character Jo gave us.

Also: Professor Bredon -- ah, the oft-forgotten magical branch of the Wimsey family. I'm in awe of your ability to throw in little details like that.

[identity profile] 2005-08-03 01:00 am (UTC)(link)
*grins* I was wondering how many people would catch that ref...seems apt that he'd be in Divs, don't you think? :D

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