Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter. All rights belong to J.K. Rowling.
A/N: Sooo...this happened. It won't be the last one either. T.T I have a list-LIST-of side-fics that won't leave me alone. There's "Siri and the Godling", "Godric and the Kraken", and more insane things to come. Because this is what has become of my life. *dies*
Tom Riddle was the wrong man for her.
Minerva could see it on his smile, fire and danger, mirror and lie, illusion and dark, sinuous promise. All was laid bare. All the wrongness, the decadent sensations, raw and throbbing and full of heat. Didn't he care who might see, who might hear? What kind of man smiled with the shadow of baser impulse licking at his mouth? Flesh of dragon fruit, red as the sin that sweetened its core. Did she dare bite that fruit?
He was at the edge of thirty and she was burning with the lust of twenty.
She asked her mother once.
The sky was a starless dark and all the light was stolen from her eyes long before the moon rose that night. Her father had taken its last scintilla with the silence of his presence. That too had vanished, leaving behind ruins while the foundations yet held. Could it be called a home when it was only a house? What was worth that price?
"Witches die of broken hearts, Minerva," her mother told her in the darkness from which she took life and made it hers.
Minerva didn't understand. Wasn't her mother still broken?
Her eyes traced the curve of his mouth as he spoke. A snake charmer. A peek of red-red-smooth flesh, slithering to the flute-song of elocution—she wanted to sink her teeth there, tease and bite that tongue.
"Minerva? Care to tell me what is so fascinating about my face?"
Minerva licked her lips, tilted her head and peered at him, another angle, another kind of awareness pulsing beneath thick lashes. His name rolled naked on her tongue.
"Tom." Breathy, heavy, something forbidden, beautiful in its inception. Sensual as the dream of the mayfly, an ephemeral obsession.
"Your face is as fascinating as your theory about the correlation between ghosts and magical portraits—which is to say, barely."
A lie, and one flick of red tongue as he tasted the truth inside it.
"Hello, kitten." Purring, laughing, his laughter silent, kept to himself like his secrets.
She hissed, and Tom grinned. What harm could it do to tell him when her form was registered? A mistake of her own making, not the first and not the last. His head was dipping before the wordless sound could become more. Hands on her hips, gripping tight, tugging closer. Minerva arched into the kiss, wanton, wanting, lips on hot lips and anger hotter. Manipulated, expertly seduced, until there was nothing but rough-wet tangling of tongues, flesh nipped and sucked between his teeth.
She should have slapped him.
It was as inevitable as time moving onward, slow and fast but always in motion, wild, relentless flux, tuned to the beat of the season's heart. He possessed her, stripped her clothes and restraint off her body, piece after piece, little by little. Pressed up against the old, rickety bookcase, overloaded with teaching texts, deep in the quiet, shady nooks of Flourish and Blotts, theirs since the beginning. Out of her mind, with her legs wrapped around him. Summer-lust saturated the oak wood, slick imprints and nails carving patterns of things lost in time.
"Abraxas is a brazen hedonist but no fool when it is to his detriment. Pay him no mind."
"But he saw, he will—"
"Say nothing. Abraxas knows to hold his tongue."
"Maybe you should do the same." Minerva stared at him, knew as she said the words where they would lead. Still spoke them.
"Should I?" Tom slipped an arm around her waist, pulled her flush against his chest, mouth soft and insistent over that sensitive spot behind her ear. "Is that what you want, kitten? Want my—"
"Tom! Please…not, not here, I—" Still let him.
She wanted to fall and fall and never stop falling. On her elbows, bent over pages half-filled with inky, scrawled short-hand, spine taut like a bowstring, reality blurring out of focus with every thrust and throaty moan. Where was the prim and proper Head Girl now? Where was the tongue with which she belabored couples out of sticky broom closets in the dim of twilight? Wound around his name, around madness and please-yes-oh-yees-mnn-more, warped to the rhythm of surging hips and molten inside the ravished throat. Hadn't he told her? Hadn't he warned her?
Tom Riddle had also been Head Boy.
Her father was the one to write the letter, but Minerva could hear the black of her mother's voice echoing inside the dried ink.
Was this what you meant, mother? What you chose? Better to pay the price, to live with the regret you know, than regretting the love you'll never know.
Sides of the same coin. Who could say which one was better?