AN: Yes this is a repost of an old, deleted work. And, for those of you who've read it before, you'll notice that these first chapters are going to be heavily revised. Hear me out on this: When I started this, I rushed through character development and missed out on a lot of potential in the early chapters (and some of the later ones) because I was too focused on the end, which I hadn't even fleshed out yet. I now have a more clear picture of my characters, my writing abilities have improved, and I have had the time to figure out exactly where I want this story to go, beginning to end. The younger years will be shorter, but they'll be a lot more fleshed out (...and better written).
And now, and do read this please: This story depicts a deeply unhealthy relationship. There will not be pedophilia or rape, nor extreme violence or torture. There will be obsession, stalking, possessive behavior, and other related behaviors. This is your trigger warning. Continue with caution. This is also from the perspective of an unreliable narrator. Tom is mentally ill, and that is reflected in his thought process.
The first time he saw her, he assumed she was too young to be a teacher.
Presenting herself without any grand introduction, she merely stood as Headmaster Dippet went on about her - Professor Granger, covering Defense Against the Dark Arts.
"That's not a name I've heard before," whispered Nott, leaning in closer as the table dutifully scrutinized her, "And you know my dad works in the Ministry. If there's a name worth knowing, I've heard it."
'Haven't heard the name Riddle before, you know,' had been Tom's entire first semester at Hogwarts. By the end of the year, they knew his name well enough to know better than to bring it up.
"My dad works at the Ministry too, you know." Parkinson always liked to insert himself into conversations where he had little, if nothing, to offer. "And I rarely hear him mention names. You can't honestly think your father knows everyone - for all you know, he only brings it up when he meets someone important."
Having caught a hint of intrigue from the otherwise droning Headmaster, Tom quickly put an end to the conversation. "If your father went chattering about the way Nott's does, he'd hardly've kept his position as an unspeakable."
Snickers and snorts scattered through the group as Parkinson sulked back.
"After spending time combing through remnants of history, searching and studying the rare, the lost, and the mythical, it seems only fitting that she find her way to the ancient halls of our castle."
If she specialized in archeology, she'd be an obvious fit for a History of Magic position - currently unavailable, as it was occupied by Professor Binns - not Defense. Which immediately leant itself to question - What was she looking for? What did she find?
Maybe nothing. Maybe she was a last minute hire, the best suited candidate for a seat left urgently open after Merryweather got up one summer morning and decided to move to Australia. But this was Hogwarts , not some silly old school. If there was a position open, there'd have been enough applications to fill all of the Headmaster's office.
There had to be a reason she was chosen. Something that made her unique. Special.
If there was something Tom looked for in anything at all, it was the very concept of special .
The first day of class confirmed that if she wasn't special, she was, at the bare minimum, exceptionally talented.
And that she was about to become a least favorite among the students, no doubt. "This isn't a class you can sleep through and expect to pass," are not words most kids are thrilled to hear - especially not as the opening sentence to your introduction.
"You will do your reading before class, not during it. If you do not, you will fail. My job isn't to teach you reading comprehension, my job is to teach you how to defend yourselves. That's not to say there won't be discussion, or that I won't answer questions as they arise. It is to say that you will come prepared or that you shouldn't bother at all. This won't be a sugar coated class where you learn ghost stories; Everything I teach you about you will be trained to encounter regardless of necessity. You all know that there is magic in this world that can and will harm you - or worse - if given the chance, but so few of you understand. By the end of this course, you will."
The reactions throughout the room varied from looks of excitement, looks of abject horror, and everything in between - frustration at the idea of actually having to do work, boredom from not listening to a single word that was just said (Longbottom was, without doubt, going to fail).
Without preamble, the first lesson of the year began.
"She can't actually be serious!" Abraxas flopped back against the sofa of the common room, whining and moaning even more than he usually did. "Four pages on how to protect yourself from a vampire?! How about one sentence - Don't go looking for one in the first place!"
Predictably, his classmates were less than pleased with their new teacher.
"That'd be avoidance," Tom drawled, already pulling out his quill, "Not protection."
"Better safe than sorry! Maybe she likes galloping around in the woods, but the rest of us stay in polite society, where vampires aren't a problem. Honestly, someone needs to write the Ministry about this."
At that, Tom nearly snorted. "And tell them what? That we actually have a teacher doing her job? That the next generation of Aurors will be the most skilled yet? I highly doubt they'd find issue with that."
When Malfoy pouted, he looked a bit like the pudding sculptures the house elves made to celebrate Merlin's birthday.
During his first year, Tom had only ever made a habit of visiting one teacher outside classroom hours; Slughorn was easy to get information out of, you just had to get him rambling first.
The relationship he had with other teachers was mostly one of a polite but eager student who dutifully did his work with appreciation. Granger, however, was different.
From their first lesson, her mannerisms towards him just weren't the same as they were towards other students. She talked to him. Actually talked to him. With other students, she spoke almost as though she were teaching a toddler; walking them through every question and pointing directly to the page and paragraph that held the answer. With him, her tone was sharp. Testing. She'd shown from their very first interaction that she expected more from him, that she saw him as superior, without ever actually saying so.
"Here," he'd said, finger pointedly against the page of the textbook, "it mentions the fae as creatures to be feared, avoided as much as vampires or werewolves, even. But then it doesn't elaborate. It just ends there. Sure, it mentions other creatures in a similar fashion - goblins, veelas, pixies - but there's a reason it doesn't go in depth there; it doesn't need to. They're not anything worth truly defending yourself against. If they're actually dangerous, why aren't we being taught more about how to defend ourselves from fairies?"
"Because the likelihood you'll encounter one is so low that the book sees the subject as a waste of space. Incorrectly, I might add. They mention vampires and werewolves the most because that's what you're almost certainly going to encounter - they walk among us, even if they do only pose a threat at certain times and can be treated like any other witch or wizard with an affliction if they choose to receive treatment. There's a lot more to that, really, but to answer your question - The reason you're not being taught is because it's seen as unnecessary. I do suggest you check the library to learn more. The reason they're so dangerous isn't because they'll hurt you like a killer or a rabid creature, but because they're crafty. They know how to trick you into making deals you don't want. They know how to enslave you and keep you under their thumb. Frankly, I find that worse, but the Ministry disagrees because you'll likely only find them if you go really, really far out into the wilderness. They're not especially fond of us, so they prefer to stay away. Still that doesn't mean they won't take the opportunity if it falls into their ring. There's a book on it - it's in the restricted section, because it's a bit graphic, but it's informative. I'll write you a slip for it. Give it to Ms. June and she'll grab it for you."
It's nice to be appreciated. Even if he'd have liked a full pass, this was a good start.
Still, he hadn't really planned on showing up at her office door, book in hand, but nevertheless, he couldn't help his thirst for knowledge and well - he did have a question.
The door opened before he could so much as knock.
There was probably a spell that could do that - act as an alarm. It might be helpful to put on his trunk, should he ever get a proper look through the dorm without everyone else around.
Professor Slughorn was right - his office was a water closet compared to this one. But that hardly mattered as he wasn't here to inspect the architecture. Or the mangy orange cat staring at him from across the room.
"If iron burns fairies, does that mean an iron blade wouldn't properly kill them?"
Her response was a quirked eyebrow, followed with, "I suppose I have to ask if you're stabbing them or attempting to separate their necks from their bodies."
Certainly an interesting response, he mused. "Attempting? Is failure a possibility?"
Leaning forward, she sighed, "Failure is always a possibility, Tom. There is never, never a guarantee."
A part of him briefly considered that she was speaking from personal experience, referencing something of which he had no knowledge, but the thought dismissed itself as his eyes wandered to a book at the edge of her desk.
Health and Magic: A Journey Through Blood
Before he could halt his curiosity, his hands were already reaching towards it. Her hands were faster.
"I'm sorry," he rushed, averting his gaze. "I merely wanted a look at the title."
"Liar," she immediately corrected, though a sly grin played on her face. "That's not a book suited for twelve year old's, Tom."
Being referred to as a child - a kid - was something he'd despised his entire life. Even in his youngest years, he'd had comprehension beyond what he ought to. And besides, why should he be limited by the slowness of others his age? Why should he be held to their low standards over something as insignificant as his date of birth?
Standing up straighter, he countered back, "I'm very mature for my age."
That peculiar grin only widened as she leaned back in her chair. "That's very likely true."
It took a mental reminder to keep from scowling at that. "Then why can't I look?"
"Because I want you to prove it first."
"What?" He blinked. Once, then twice, then again as he finally comprehended what she'd just said. "How am I supposed to do that?"
"If you're so mature, shouldn't a demonstration of maturity be easy for you?" Folding her arms over where the book rested in her lap, she glanced to the door. It swung open, an obvious gesture. "Show me you're really mature, and I'll let you read the book. Until then, goodnight Tom."
The response was automatic, blurted out before he could even control it. "You're treating me different. Inconsistently, might I add. You give me a pass for a book from the restricted section and yet you won't even let me glance at the title of that one. You read out loud to Longbottom, practically spoon-feeding him the textbook, and yet you hold full conversations with me, offering me more than you've offered anyone else in class. Why."
He nearly startled as the door suddenly slammed shut.
Her hands moved to the edge of the desk, gripping the side as she leaned forward. "I am only going to say this once, Tom. Firstly, you do not get to tell me no. Not now. Second, I teach other students the way I have to in order to accomplish my job. I don't have to do that with you. You're smart. We both know this. You're eager for knowledge, and I want to give it to you, but you earn that privilege or you'll be treated just the same as the rest of my students."
That was never, ever, going to happen. He didn't care if he had to bite his tongue until it bled, he was going to learn every bit he could here.
"And finally," she continued, "you need to get that," lifting one hand, she gestured to her eyes, "under control. You wanna know why Dumbledore can't trust you?"
How the bloody hell did she know that?
"Because you can't hide your emotions as well as you think you can. Your eyes flash red when you're angry. It's not entirely uncommon - most unique magical abilities can be seen in those who don't fully possess the gift, though to a much, much lesser extent and with little to no control. But you're an open book, Tom, even if some people can't read it. I can. So can Dumbledore. Unless you figure out how to control it, there will be others that will too. You don't want to expose too much. Ever.
"Now again: No. You want the book, you can have it. But only if you earn it. Now you're leaving. That's final. This discussion is over."
Biting his cheek and closing his eyes, his took a single controlled breath before walking out the door.
Granger was wrong: Failure was not always a possibility. Maybe for other people, sure. But not for him.
Getting the book was going to happen, he knew it, the real question was how. What did she need to see for him to get it, and what did he need to do to get even more from her?
Part of him hated her. Part of him admired her. All of him wanted to consume everything she had.