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Career Advice (Alexandrian Librarian) (23 July)
Zam Wesell
alexandrian_lib wrote in 30_hath
Title: Career Advice
Author: alexandrian_lib
House: Ravenclaw
Date/Challenge: 23 – Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows
Character/Pairing: Tom Riddle/Sybill Trelawney
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 2856
Genre/Warnings (if applicable): Het bedroom scene

Seventh year, and he was Head Boy. Professor Slughorn was perpetually suggesting one promising career path after another to him, but he still hadn't decided what to do after he left Hogwarts. The Ministry positions were likely to lead him to a great deal of prominence, but the dirty secret of his half-blood birth was enough to prevent his becoming Minister for Magic--in this time of pervasive destruction in the Muggle world, most wizards and witches were extremely reluctant to accept the leadership of anyone whose heritage might lead him to incorporate those violent Muggle attitudes into wizarding society. Tom felt this was a fundamentally unjust fear, as it prevented him from gaining the respect and admiration of all. If this prejudice had been directed against another group--such as witches or werewolves--instead of a category which included him, mind, he would not have been concerned. Nevertheless, Tom was moderately incensed at likely being denied his innate right to power and influence by the conditions of his birth, and his righteous indignation on the topic (carefully worded so it would appear as though he was concerned for more than just himself) was of great use in his conversations with Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs. Still, this left him as a half-blood hero of Hogwarts with likely career prospects reaching as high as a Senior Undersecretary or an Assistant to the Minister for Magic--but he would probably never become Minister himself, as the wizarding world was not ready to accept a Minister for Magic who was not pure-blooded. Tom hadn't particularly wanted to be a politician, as he saw the constant compromising necessary for politics as a sign of snivelling weakness, until he found that he was de facto disqualified from the highest political positions in British wizardry; the idea of any societal constraints on his ambitions caused him to focus those ambitions in that direction--Tom began to desire political power, not simply personal control of those around him. This left Tom, in his seventh year, facing an important career choice--should he take Ministry employment which would lead him to a highly influential, but not supreme, position? Non-Ministry careers seemed even less likely to lead to power.

Tom was patrolling the third-floor corridors of the school, brooding over his future, when his glum musings were interrupted by the high-pitched voice of the seventh-year Hufflepuff prefect. Before he had started gaining influence among the Slytherin students in his first year, she had essentially tutored him in proper wizarding behavior and helped him change his accent. Tom knew, with the instinct that seemed to whisper what other people were thinking, that she had fancied him fiercely back then and that she still fancied him desperately now. She waved her hand airily at him.

"Tom! I knew we would meet tonight. I saw your cards in the Exploding Snap game after supper."

He also knew that she fancied herself a Seer, and he was inclined to believe her, despite her belief that the playing cards she was dealt predicted events in her future. In fact, he remembered an occasion during fifth year when he had walked in on her in the prefects' bath. She had been thrashing about under the bubbles; as he caught sight of her and stopped short, she suddenly froze, shuddered, and said in a deep, loud voice, "Slytherin's Heir will open his lost Chamber and set free his beast. Death and disgrace will come to the enemies of the Heir. The Chamber of Secrets will be opened under this moon." He had, indeed, found the entrance to the Chamber later that month. Bits of gossip he had overheard while walking past the Hufflepuff table in the library seemed to indicate that these predictions occurred every time she, well... perhaps he could get a glimpse into his future, after all.

"Sybill," he said, applying a wide smile to his face, "it's been ages since we've had a proper chat, just the two of us." He held out his arm politely, and she fluttered her hand into the bend of his elbow.

"Tom," she replied. "We talk in prefect meetings, but it just isn't the same." She looked up at him with enormous, slightly myopic eyes. "I almost thought you were too busy doing great things to meet up with your old friends. Professor Slughorn keeps making references to your glorious future career." She smiled tragically.

"Ah, Sybill," he sighed. "What use are impressive school achievements when they'll never make me Minister? You know I'll never be allowed to be anyone important, all because of my father." Tom tried to avoid sneering; he was aiming for sympathy, not revenge.

Sybill looked stricken. "Oh, Tom, it's horrible, just horrible. You're the most wonderful young man alive, and I can't see why anyone would ever doubt your loyalty to the values of the wizarding world. And even if the rest of the world are all fools, I'll still be your friend." She said the last softly, casting her eyes towards the floor and Tom's shoes.

As they rounded a corner, Tom quickly shook her hand off of his arm and dropped his charming smile in favor of a polite blandness of expression. Professor Dumbledore turned around to face them from where he had been watering the trees which had recently, and inexplicably, begun growing in the corridor.

"Mr. Riddle, Miss Trelawney," Dumbledore said, smiling affably, lowering his wand but not putting it away. Not waiting for a greeting in return, he continued, "I just saw Miss Morgan pass by a few minutes ago, so your replacement is now on duty and your patrol is finished for the night, Mr. Riddle. Go back to your dormitory and rest; I know you have an exam in Transfiguration tomorrow." His eyes twinkled faintly. "And as for you, Miss Trelawney, why are you out of bed at this hour? You're not scheduled to patrol the corridors tonight."

Before Sybill could open her mouth and say something awkward, Tom cut her off. "That's my doing, Professor. I asked her to come with me on patrol so we could review for our exams together. You remember Headmaster Dippet said last week that it was permissible."

Dumbledore narrowed his eyes and looked over his spectacles at Tom. The seventh-year's face was a portrait of innocence; his eyes were wide and he caught a little of his lower lip between his teeth. Please believe me, the expression said, I only want to please my professors. Dumbledore was exceedingly mistrustful of that look, but he could find nothing untoward on which to reprimand the pair.

"Very well, then," he said, "best get back to your rooms; it's a bit late to be studying now."

After a few polite words, the students moved off along the corridor, and Professor Dumbledore watched them with still-narrowed eyes and silent misgivings.

When they were far enough away that Professor Dumbledore would not be able to see or hear them, Tom clasped his arm around Sybill's waist.

"Sybill," he said, "I do hope you weren't offended by what happened back there. I couldn't let Professor Dumbledore see us together; even though I always work hard in his class, he mistrusts me for some reason, and I wouldn't want him to think you were involved with whatever nefarious deeds he suspects me of doing."

"Oh, Tom," she crooned, throwing both of her arms around his waist in turn, "you're so diligent and so loyal. I wish you had been in Hufflepuff; then we could...." Her voice trailed off, and she looked at Tom's shoes again.

The corner of Tom's mouth turned up irrepressibly in a small smirk. Arranging this was going to be easier than he had thought. "Could what, Sybill dearest?" He turned her chin up with his free hand. Hufflepuffs were always vulnerable to shows of solidarity and terms of endearment. If another student were to come upon them, though, Tom would have to use strong memory charms to erase any report of his disgustingly syrupy behaviour.

"Oh, Tom!" Sybill gasped, her eyes widening even further and her voice becoming even higher-pitched and breathier. She clutched him even tighter. Tom felt the moment was right for his proposition. He forced a pained, slightly-out-of-focus look onto his face and made eye contact.

"Sybill, I... I... you..." he stammered, shamming shyness.

"Yes, Tom?" she responded, looking hopeful.

"You... I... tonight? For old times' sake?"

"Yes, Tom," Sybill breathed, curving against him as they stood.

No further words were spoken as they rushed, quietly but hurriedly, to the secret room on the seventh floor where Tom had often met with his fellow students over the years. Only Tom knew how to open it, and he did so as Sybill cast great glowing expressions at him and he attempted to respond convincingly.

The door opened, and they stepped inside a darkened room upholstered in green velvet, with a soft glow coming from a fireplace in one corner. The room had the look of a cosy apartment, with a writing desk, several bookshelves, a table and chairs, and a large soft bed in the corner.

"Tom, you've redecorated," Sybill breathed.

Tom turned away under the pretence of shuffling parchments and books about, tidying up the table and desk. Now that he had Sybill here, he found her custom of referring to him by name every time she spoke to be much more irritating than it had been when he had been trying to lure her into this room.

"Stop tidying and come here. I'll not have you ignoring me after we've come all the way out here on the night before an exam," Sybill said, hands on her hips, sounding uncannily like Minerva McGonagall. Tom straightened abruptly and turned to face her. "Ah, yes, I thought so," Sybill sighed quietly to herself.

Tom realized what Sybill had been thinking. He crossed the few steps separating them and gathered her into his arms again. "No, Sybill, no, you know I care about you." She looked deeply into his eyes, searching for something, as he attempted to project absolute sincerity. Sybill must eventually have been satisfied, for she looked away from his eyes with only a small sigh and began to unfasten her robes.

"Well, get undressed; we'd best not wait too long, or we'll do dreadfully in Transfiguration tomorrow," she said, folding her outer robe neatly and still sounding rather like Minerva McGonagall.

Tom correctly concluded that this was a sort of test, so he grabbed her by her arms and forced her to meet his eyes. "No, Sybill, I care about you," he emphasized.

Finally assured that he was paying attention to her and not fantasizing about Minerva McGonagall, Sybill returned to her normal demeanor and began divesting herself of her clothing, strewing it across the floor as she glided toward the bed. Tom also removed his clothing, folding and stacking it neatly on a chair and hoping that he would truly hear another prophecy in recompense for all of this effort. Tom actually was fond of Sybill Trelawney in his own way, but he found associating with her detrimental to his public image, as she was a bit odd, and he really didn't have time for friends when he was working so hard to develop his future. Fortunately, Sybill was a Hufflepuff and would probably remain loyal to him no matter what he did or for how long he ignored her, as long as he eventually apologized nicely and made polite noises about never forgetting her.

"Hurry," Sybill called airily from her position spread out on the bed. Tom quirked a grin at her and leapt onto the bed beside her. Sybill dissolved in a fit of giggles and flung herself at him. Tom squeezed his eyes shut and pressed what he hoped were soulful kisses to her mouth, hoping to be amply repaid for the insipidness of this experience. There was nothing truly remarkable about the manner in which they moved together, but it seemed special to Sybill because this was Tom, her first-year friend and perpetual object of fancy, and to Tom because he expected to hear a prophecy regarding his future, which would give him direction for his actions.

Tom apparently hadn't been thinking as clearly as he would have liked, as he soon realized the quill and parchment sitting on the side table were out of his reach, and he didn't want to record the memory of the prophecy in a Pensieve, given the surrounding circumstances. He closed his eyes again and wished hard for one of the new recording quills, set up and ready to write on the parchment. When he opened his eyes and looked over Sybill's head, at that moment occupied in licking his collarbone, he saw a new quill standing upright on the parchment. Assured that any prophecy made would be recorded for his later perusal, he rolled over onto his back, pulling Sybill with him by the hips. She gasped and keened from the back of her throat, then began thrashing about. Tom clutched even tighter to her hips as she sat suddenly up straight, then, as she leaned towards him again, he shifted so that his left arm was hooked around her lower back. His right arm came up to brace her upright so she wouldn't bite his earlobes again--he was slightly discomfited to find that his hand was shaking--and his long fingers lay on both sides of her throat as his palm rested above her breasts. Sybill let out a very high-pitched, hysterical stream of giggles and quivered; her eyes rolled back in her head, and a grating voice spoke from her throat, "Only in secret can the Dark Lord rise. He must be forgotten before he will be remembered for all time. The--." Tom froze beneath Sybill, his arms stiffening, knowing that he had done it, had succeeded, had achieved this ingenious plan of his--then he was fighting himself desperately for control and losing it, prisoner of his own body, just like any other man....

Several minutes later, Sybill sat up, tugging Tom up with her. When Tom looked at her eyes, he saw they were alarmingly wide, larger than he'd ever seen them before. The sight disturbed him a little, but he was more preoccupied with other concerns.

"We ought to go back to our dormitories," Tom said, waving his wand over the both of them and lunging for his clothing on the chair. This action conveniently blocked the parchment and quill from Sybill's view as he swept it into a fold in his robe. He felt overcome by lassitude, but he would not allow that to dissuade him from his goal of reading the words of the prophecy. He was certain he had missed several words because of his human weakness. Sybill's great gleaming eyes turned to the floor. She half-heartedly slid off the bed and put on a sock. Tom, in order to avoid alienating this suddenly most useful person, searched his slightly muzzy memory for a proper phrase.

"That was... really meaningful," he said, feigning bashfulness. This was, apparently, the right thing to say, as Sybill, wearing one sock and a shoe, rushed up to him and flung her arms around his neck. Tom felt a wetness on his chest--she was crying. How Hufflepuff. Still filled with loathing at himself for being so weak as to give in to such base urges, he shoved her away from him. He covered his harsh snarl with a playful smile and said, hands on hips, "We'd best not wait too long, or we'll do dreadfully in Transfiguration tomorrow."

Sybill smiled at his mimicry of her and put on the other sock.

When they had gone to their dormitories, Tom escorting Sybill to the entrance to Hufflepuff, his charm almost recovered, both went immediately to their beds. Sybill sprawled dramatically across her bed, sighing dreamily until she fell asleep. Tom drew his curtains, lit his wand, and read over the words recorded on the parchment.

Only in secret can the Dark Lord rise. He must be forgotten before he will be remembered for all time. The--MINERVA!--path to great power lies through humility and past grandiosity. The Dark Lord will find what he needs to hold his soul in the guise of a clerk....

Tom took a deep breath and let it out slowly. The parchment told him what he didn't wish to hear. The idea of fading into obscurity before he could be great rankled, but he liked the idea of being remembered for all time. Of course, he would rather live for all time. Still, "the guise of a clerk" seemed at least more interesting than a position as a Ministry drone, and, if he was not mistaken, the prophecy made reference to opportunities to create more Horcruxes. Tom lay back, casting a quick Disintegration Charm on the parchment, already planning whom he would kill for his next Horcrux.

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Your Tom is so chilling here, feigning affection for Sybill in order to get a prophecy out of her! I also like the Tom/Minerva bits, but then, I'm an incorriginle T/M shipper. ;)

I'm glad this Tom came across that way! He really is a heartless so-and-so in canon, so I can't see him being sweet on someone... except, of course, for his True Love Minerva, as you and I rightly recognize that he loves her beyond all reason, etc., etc. Ah, well, at least Sybill gets something out of the bargain, too.

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