His plan was simple, really. Tom still fully intended to take charge of the Wizarding World, and still had little to no intention of dying, but it had been demonstrated to him that his initial plan was far from perfect. One had to adapt.

Therefore, Tom not only had to find some way of becoming Minister of Magic through legitimate channels (a fairly easy task for him, really) but he also had to ensure that Dumbledore was on his side throughout (which would be marginally harder). It would also be quite delightfully helpful if he could find a nice little crusade to start within the Wizarding World to deflect attention from him when he became Minister of Magic, though he supposed that wasn't exactly a requirement.

In an effort to tackle the hardest problem, Tom had set about thinking up ways to get Dumbledore to see things his way. The development of his plan had involved him staying up very late into Sunday night, sitting in the library, researching this Grindlewald character and swearing to himself about the trauma of self-sacrifice. In the end, however, Tom had concluded that it could be done.

He could win Dumbledore over.

He couldn't do it by charming the man or playing the good little student (because god knew, if that worked Dumbledore would've been his puppet since day one), but rather through doing precisely the opposite. He had not yet finalised his plans, but one thing was becoming increasingly apparent: If he was going to pull this off, he was going to need some sort of motivation.

Not his actual motivation of course. If, somewhere done the line, Dumbledore asked why he was doing what he was doing then Tom could hardly respond by saying "Well, professor, it's like this: In my quest for absolute power and immortality I came across these novels…" It simply wouldn't work. And so Tom needed a motivation that he could pull out and hold under a microscope whenever he had to. He needed something foolproof.

Though he loathed to admit it, Tom thought he knew of one motivator that Dumbledore would consider utterly undeniable. That motivator involved nauseating poetry, soppy expressions and declarations of undying emotion. That motivator would probably give Tom the urge to chug down a gallon or two of poison. That motivator was a relationship with Minerva McGonagall. It would probably be the death of him.

He'd looked at it from every possible angle, he'd anticipated every possible question, and the only reason he could come up with for the behaviour he intended to display at a later date would be a major life-changing event. He had considered staging a confrontation with that Gaunt fellow in Little Hangleton, and going on about how he had no desire to turn into that, and that being witness to such depravity had made him see the light. Tom had been hopeful that he could turn that scenario into a good solid motivator. Unfortunately he couldn't have his connection to the Gaunt family being made public too soon - not while the death of a certain whiny, bathroom dweller was still looming over most of the students of Hogwarts.

And so, True Love it was. Sickening, but undeniably efficacious.

Once coming to this conclusion, Tom had naturally tried to think of an alternative to McGonagall. Surely there was someone, anyone, he could 'fall for' who would have the same effect. Sadly, if such a woman existed, Tom could not think of her. The problem was, that just about every other girl in the school would have been quite happily submissive in a relationship with him. A meek and accommodating partner was hardly motivation to change oneself, and so that left most of the girls out in the cold.

Then there was the question of what he was allegedly changing himself into, in order to get Dumbledore on his side: A pathetically upfront, honest individual who would (ostensibly) sacrifice his life in the name of truth, justice and… puppies, or whatever it was. Now, what sort of self-righteous harpy would demand that a man be all that and more before she would have anything to do with him? Minerva McGonagall, that's who. Indeed, she was the only self-righteous harpy Tom could think of who met all the requirements. Plus, she was Dumbledore's favourite pupil, so he supposed he was getting his foot in the door on that count as well.

The plan was tactically flawless, and yet somehow depressing.

Tom was not in the least bit concerned about the other implementations that would have to be made, in order for him to acquire the power he desired. With Slughorn, Dippet, and just about everyone else on the planet seemed to be trying their hardest to facilitate his rise to Socially Acceptable Power, then it would be incredibly difficult for him not to go far in the Ministry.

All of this meant that his biggest problem, his most pressing need, the single most important factor in his life at that particular moment, was getting Minerva McGonagall to like him. Tom sighed. Maybe being a snake-loving despot had its upsides after all…

- - -

In his time at Hogwarts, Tom had attempted to maintain civil relations with just about everyone he thought would be useful to him later on. It was only now that he realised McGonagall had not fallen into that category. Therefore, he realised he would have to start slowly if he were to gain her affection. Or, indeed, her indifference, as it was becoming apparent that he would have to try to get rid of her energetic and heartfelt dislike for him, before moving on so far as to even suggest "like" let alone a serviceable façade of "love".

Of course, Tom's initial plan had involved him slowly opening the lines of communication, to let her slowly come to terms with the fact that he was generally fantastic. He would ask her to pass him something in potions, he would catch her eye the next time a horrendously stupid question was asked in Arithmancy, he would take a seat next to her in Charms one day, etc.

Tom hadn't exactly counted on McGonagall's reactions to the above to be hurling potions ingredients at his head or sending him a filthy look in Arithmancy and offering to help the Professor with tutoring duties. He certainly hadn't banked on approaching her in Charms to inquire if he could have the seat next to hers and for her to respond by saying yes he could, and promptly levitating it to the opposite end of the classroom before adding that he could have the chair just so long as it was nowhere near her at the time. All in all, Minerva McGonagall was proving to be an annoyance.

It was only late Monday night when Professor Waterstone, the Astronomy teacher, awarded him five points that it occurred to Tom why McGonagall may be so adverse to his attempts at civil relations.

This revelation was the reason why Tom had gone straight to Professor Dumbledore at the first reasonable opportunity on Tuesday. The first reasonable opportunity, as it turned out, was during the morning break. It was later than Tom would have liked, but it was hardly a dire turn of events. The irony of being forced to seek Dumbledore's assistance to get on McGonagall's good side so that she, in turn, could assist him in getting onto Dumbledore's good side, was not lost on Tom. In fact it was the knowledge of this delightful little irony that had resulted in him wearing a rather terrible scowl as he made his way to the Transfiguration classroom.

At the last moment, he replaced the scowl with a politely expressionless face. All the same, he was hardly in the best of humours when he knocked upon Dumbledore's classroom door.

"Enter!" Dumbledore called welcomingly.

Tom mentally braced himself for the old git's annoyingly optimistic outlook on life, and his stupidly twinkling bloody eyes. God, the lengths he was prepared to go to for success.

After a quick moment of preparation, Tom swung open the door to the Transfiguration room. The sight that greeted him on the other side was a jovial looking Professor Dumbledore, attending to a petrified looking second year who appeared to have had his ears replaced with two ripe avocados. "Professor Dumbledore?" he said respectfully. "Sir, may I have a word with you?"

Dumbledore looked over to him, seeming momentarily surprised at his presence. Not that the great Dumbledore would allow surprise to show on his features, but Tom suspected that was the true emotion underlying his expression. After an almost imperceptible pause, Dumbledore smiled and said "Of course, Mr. Riddle. Come on in. I will only be a moment."

"Thank you, sir," Tom acknowledged, as he moved into the room. He attempted to look comfortable in the room, however he remained standing by the door. He supposed it was something he would have to put a stop to if he was going to get Dumbledore on his side in the future, but Tom always liked to be close to an exit when he was dealing with the Transfiguration professor. He could admit that there was very little about his twinkling blue eyes and trimmed auburn beard that indicated he was a threat, but Tom knew better than most what a sly old dog he was.

More to occupy himself for a moment than to offer himself any actual enlightenment, Tom glanced at the blackboard behind the professor's desk. He was quite surprised to see that the Second Year's allotted task for the lesson was to turn a beetle into a button. They weren't even covering fruit, or human transfiguration. Tom looked at the boy with Dumbledore with slightly more respect. After all, messing up royally during a lesson was rather pitiful. However messing up in a manner that was wholly unrelated to the lesson in question suggested not only a complete disinclination to listen to the teacher (something which Tom appreciated somewhat, since it was Dumbledore and all), but also a healthily developed sense of effrontery. Tom appreciated the boy a lot more if he truly was an audacious little idiot, rather than a whimpering little idiot.

Useless though he knew these pondering were, Tom appreciated such minor distractions. They helped take his mind off his actual reason for being there.

"There we are, Ambrosius," Dumbledore announced after a few more moments, drawing Tom's gaze down to where the boy now stood, ears intact. "I fear they're slightly larger than they were to begin with, though I assure you that is just a side-effect. All will return to normal within a few hours," he assured the boy, who was fondling his freshly restored ears with a worrying amount of gusto. "Still, if you have problems with your hearing at all, do not hesitate to return," Dumbledore instructed, in much the same tone one would use while discussing baking.

"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. I'm sorry about before, sir, honest I am," Ambrosius rambled gratefully.

"Quite all right, Mr. Flume," Dumbledore dismissed with a wave of his hand. "I quite understand how dull school work can be. Not to mention the insatiable urge one sometimes has to experiment with transforming body parts into fruit while their elders drivel on. All the same, do try to have the homework done before the next lesson, would you? Just to indulge me, you understand,"

Abrosius Flume flushed and stammered his agreement, before heading quickly for the door. In his haste, he very nearly barrelled into Tom's midsection - fortunately (for him) he stopped a few inches short. Without wasting time on such petty trivialities as manners, he continued on his way.

Tom stared after his retreating form with a sense of amazement. He was probably, Tom realised, a rich pureblood. God knew, they were the only ones who ever felt entitled to mess around in class and completely disregard older students. Slughorn would probably have his claws in the little brute within weeks. Little brat.

"Yes. I fear Mr. Flume is always in something of a hurry," Dumbledore said, as though responding to Tom's unspoken annoyance.

"I see, sir," Tom said, for want of anything better to say.

Dumbledore appeared to mourn Flume's slapdash demeanour for a moment, before straightening up and moving behind his desk with a businesslike movement.

Tom took this as a sign to prepare himself for the intensely humiliating discussion that was about to occur, and as such arranged his features into a look of polite inquiry and mild concern.

"You wished to speak with me, Mr. Riddle?" Dumbledore asked, as he began to pile up the papers on his desk.

Tom nodded. "Yes, Professor."

"Well, I would recommend that you do so quickly, as our highly-valued morning interlude is trickling further and further away from us every minute," Dumbledore commented. It was said with apparent good humour, but the implied 'get on with it' was hardly lost on Tom.

"Of course, sir," he agreed. "I came to you, sir, because…" he trailed off, just to pique Dumbledore's interest. It must've worked, because the old git looked up from his papers with an expression of obligatory interest. Tom tried again, feigning discomfort. "You see, sir, it's not exactly… well, what I mean to say is that I wished to talk to you about Minerva McGonagall."

As expected, Dumbledore's expression changed from obligatory interest to actual interest in an instant. The difference wasn't one that most people would have noticed, particularly not on Professor Dumbledore, but Tom prided himself on his perceptiveness. "Yes?" Dumbledore inquired.

"Well, sir, I checked the book this morning and I noticed that Gryffindor hadn't received any House Points for the incident in the dungeons on Thursday?" He put an inflection at the end of his sentence to make it sound like a question, but even Dumbledore seemed quite certain it wasn't. As if to prove this, he answered with a question of his own.

"Indeed?" he responded, in a tone which communicated quite clearly that he knew precisely what Tom was talking about but wouldn't be sharing the details anytime soon.

"Yes, sir," Tom replied. "And I was wondering why this was?"

"I hope you will forgive me Mr. Riddle, but could you perhaps elucidate?"

"Sir, I was wondering why Minerva McGonagall hadn't received any points," Tom clarified. "Since I can't help but think that her behaviour under the circumstances was more commendable than mine."

Dumbledore raised his eyebrows. "And why is that, Mr. Riddle?" he inquired.

Any other student may have become frustrated with this exchange: Whenever Tom asked a question, Dumbledore asked another one in response. As it was, Tom was quite used to exchanges like this with Dumbledore. It seemed that the Professor was relentless in his crusade to force Tom into making definitive statements, rather than the highly ambiguous - but seemingly decisive - answers he normally gave teachers. Normally, Tom would have allowed the conversation to continue like this until either the school bell rang (likely), Dumbledore was called away by some other pressing matter (also likely) or one of them died (which until recently was the only end to their mutual antagonism that Tom had considered). This time, however, he had an ulterior motive. In actual fact, now that he thought about it, his ulterior motive also had an ulterior motive. But that was neither here nor there. The point was that Tom was no longer interested in antagonising Dumbledore. Well, he was actually, but he now realised that he had to suppress that particular impulse.

Tom allowed himself to appear surprised. "I would have thought Professor Slughorn would have mentioned it, sir," he said, sounding confused. "When Augusta Meldrum's cauldron went up in Potions, Minerva stayed in the room to help, despite losing her wand in the blast. She dragged Meldrum herself to the exit and everything, even though her wand was on the other side of the room. She'd just taken it out when the cauldron went up, you see," Tom explained, as he was actively trying to quell the urge to curse himself for sounding like such a soppy twit. He was also trying to ignore how unutterably bizarre it was to refer to McGonagall by her first name, since he realised that he would probably have to get used to it.

Dumbledore appeared contemplative. "And why, precisely, would Miss. McGonagall have taken her wand out in the Potions' Room?" he asked.

The older man was standing at his full height, now having abandoned any pretences that he had some incredibly important tidying to attend to. He was regarding Tom with that icy-blue gaze that seemed to be trying incredibly hard to look right through you, and which he seemed to reserve specifically for Tom. Having read those Potter Novels, and seen what Dumbledore was capable of, Tom had to admit that the gaze seemed to have become more unnerving recently.

There wasn't a lot he could do about the expression, however, so he soldiered on even as his flesh began to crawl under such scrutiny.

"That's the other thing, Professor," he said admitted with a one-armed shrug. He liked to think of it as a demonstration of The Idiot's Guide To Looking Bashful. He'd never had to look bashful before, so it was quite difficult for him.

"What's that, Mr. Riddle?" Dumbledore prompted, his eyebrows raised speculatively.

"Well, sir, I asked about that at the time. It turns out Minerva was trying to disarm Meldrum, to stop her adding the ingredient which caused the accident."

Dumbledore's eyebrows had yet to return to their regular altitude, which Tom chose to take as an indicator of surprise at his words.

Encouraging this response, Tom continued, "It seems to me, sir, that trying to avoid an accident which even the teacher didn't see coming is more worthy of House Points than simply following the logical procedures, after all the damage has been done." And, before Dumbledore could point out the obvious flaw in his behaviour, Tom explained, "I would have come to you earlier about this, Professor, but Minerva left the room before me and so I suppose I just assumed that she'd been awarded the points."

"I see," was Dumbledore's somewhat anticlimactic response.

They stood there, watching one another closely for a minute more. Dumbledore seemed to be waiting for Tom to do something, such as scratch his face or play with the buttons on his shirt, or give some other classic sign that he had and ulterior motive. Tom, for his part, was putting all of his effort into staying very still and maintaining his innocent expression. He had to admit, that he had less experience with the innocent look than he did with all the others, so it was quite tricky.

Eventually, however, Dumbledore seemed convinced. "Thank you for coming to me, Mr. Riddle. I'll be certain to tell Minerva of your gallantry," he assured him, as he once again returned to his absentminded tidying.

The slight inflection on McGonagall's name was barely perceptible, but Tom caught it. He couldn't tell if Dumbledore was making fun of him or not, but he somehow suspected that was the case.

"You understand, of course, that I cannot possibly award points to a student as a result of events that I, myself, was not witness to," Dumbledore continued.

Tom nearly did a double-take. "I… Pardon me, sir, but - what?"

Dumbledore repeated himself matter-of-factly, while Tom just stared at him.

For a second or two, he was seriously considering screaming 'You did it for that Potter brat often enough, you hypocritical old fool!' or, more specifically, 'What? You can't do this, but you can magically surmise that some ginger kid in the future played the best game of chess Hogwarts has ever seen? You've seen every game of chess in Hogwarts history, have you then?' He caught himself before he resorted to saying anything quite so dramatic, though. Which was fortunate, as unlike his former-future-self, he had no intention of being branded a certifiable lunatic before the age of eighteen. Instead he said, "I understand, sir. Would you recommend that I speak with Professor Slughorn then?"

Dumbledore appeared to consider it for a moment. "I suppose you could, yes," he acknowledged, though it did not sound as though he put very much stock in the idea.

Since they both knew that Horace Slughorn would sooner bite off his own hand than admit fault (meaning that the chances of him changing to points he had awarded were slim at best), Tom couldn't really blame Professor Dumbledore for his lack of enthusiasm. Rather than dwell on it, Tom began to search for a loophole. Being extremely adept at inexplicit declarations himself, Tom was generally quite good at spotting the holes in other people's apparently definitive statements.

He could spot one way around the problem presented, but it would cause him even more pain than this horrific encounter already had. "Sir?" he said in a voice that was ostensibly curious, but may have sounded the slightest bit strained and bitter.

"Yes, Mr. Riddle?" Dumbledore smiled.

"Sir, if you can't award points…" he began.


"Well, sir, then perhaps you could simply reassign them?"

- - -

All the way through History of Magic, Tom was fighting the urge to swear vehemently under his breath. Thirty-five points, he kept thinking. Thirty-five bloody point.

The average Hogwarts student was awarded five points every week, and then lost most of them by talking in class like an idiot. So if Tom were to judge himself against his fellow students (which he rarely did, but found himself doing in this instance), he had just given up seven weeks worth of House Points. Well, six weeks really, since Dumbledore had awarded him five points for chivalry.

All for Minerva sodding McGonagall, who would probably just think it was some sort of trick anyway. Had it been ten points, or maybe fifteen, then she could have easily been convinced that it was done in the name of fairness and equality. But thirty-five points? From him?

She would assume he was up to something. What, specifically, she would assume he was up to, he couldn't really say. All he could say with a reasonable degree of certainty was that she would be extra wary around him for the rest of term, if something wasn't done to sway her opinion. Of course, he couldn't sway her opinion until he learned what her specific opinion was. Only then could he compensate for this appalling accident.

Tom sighed. He supposed he could just jump off that bridge when he came to it.

At the moment, however, he had the slightly more pressing concern of surviving lunch with the rest of his House. His which was, at the moment, still unaware of his Chivalrous Sacrifice but which would probably be enlightened within five seconds of entering the Great Hall. With this delightful thought in mind, Tom set off after his classmates who were making their way towards the Great Hall in blissful ignorance of his barely-contained diatribe.

As he went, Tom found himself internally quoting old Mrs. Cole for perhaps the first time in his life. The quote in question was particularly applicable and was, ultimately, a nugget of wisdom which Tom wished he'd paid attention to earlier:

Never trust a man with a beard.

- - -

Twenty minutes later, Tom was thinking of abandoning the "anti-Muggle-born" tact and instead starting a militant group of anti-beard activists. They could roam the streets with razors and shaving cream, removing the single greatest threat to a civilised society: Men with facial hair.

Tom's thoughts had started drifting in this general direction when it had become apparent that his fellow Slytherins were purposefully ignoring him. It was their version of dire punishment - not talking to him for one lunchtime. Tom wasn't actually concerned, because the minute one of them settled in to do homework after lessons, they'd all suddenly be his bestest friends once more. No, the point was that he was only having to put up with this rather irksome display because Dumbledore had been a complete and total hypocrite.

Or, rather, he had set himself up to become a complete and total hypocrite in a hypothetical future that only Tom knew about and may not even exist. So Tom couldn't even rant at anyone about it.

His one small recompense was that it would open the lines of communication with Minerva McGonagall. Her line of communication would probably consist of blatantly unoriginal invective and suspicion, but it was communication nonetheless. Tom looked up from his plate for a moment to spare a glare in Dumbledore's direction. At the staff table Dumbledore was talking to Professor Slughorn, who was looking more and more stunned as conversation progressed, and also shooting Tom the occasional awed expression. Tom rolled his eyes and went back to his dinner.

Well, it was official: that plan had been a failure.

"Riddle!" an impatient voice snapped from behind him.

Tom jerked his head around, while his hand twitched subconsciously for his wand. A movement he quickly disguised when he saw who it was. He also pretended not to notice the sudden, conspicuous hush that had fallen on the Slytherin table at the sight of Minerva McGonagall appearing in their midst. McGonagall apparently did not possess as much tact. She sent a sharp look around the table, and just about everyone who wasn't Tom hurriedly pretended to be eating once more. They were still unnaturally quiet, however, just to make sure they didn't miss anything good.

"McGonagall," Tom greeted in his most accommodating tone. "To what do I owe the pleasure?" he asked, hoping to whatever God may be listening that she was not about to discuss the House Points incident in front of all of Slytherin House.

She raised a single eyebrow elegantly, her disdain for him quite obvious. "Do you know Amelia Bones?" she asked in a 'I have better things to be doing with my time' kind of tone.

Tom frowned and wracked his brains for a moment. "Bones… Bones… That fifth year Hufflepuff girl who was bedridden last month?"

McGonagall nodded, and began shuffling around in her gigantic leather book-bag, which seemed to be perilously close to splitting at the seams. For a moment, her only other act was to swipe impatiently at what few strands of sable-coloured hair had managed to escape her mercilessly tight ponytail.

"Dragon pox or something, wasn't it?" Tom prompted, attempting to encourage her to get to some kind of point.

Once again, McGonagall nodded. "It was. Well, I was asked to tutor her in Arithmancy to help her get caught up," she said, still refusing to raise her head from her horrifyingly full bag. "I'm already helping quite a few others," she continued sanctimoniously. "But Amelia's sessions would clash with Gryffindor's Quidditch practise."

It wasn't very often Tom was confused by other people's agendas, but it did occasionally happen. "Yes? And?" he inquired. True, he was supposed to be wooing her, but he'd had a bad day so he was impatient.

She finally emerged from the book bag, with a brimming paper folder in hand. She smirked at him. "And so I told Professor Brodick you'd do it," she announced as she thrust the folder at him. "Since yesterday you were so keen to agree with me about everything, I assumed that would translate to tutoring as well."

Tom gaped at her.

"She'll be waiting for you in the Library at seven o'clock tonight," McGonagall continued vindictively. "Don't be late, will you? She's still quite weak from the illness, and you wouldn't want her to fall asleep before you get there." She smirked once again. "Have fun," she remarked sardonically before turning on her heel and heading for the Gryffindor table, where Emmeline Vance and the entire Gryffindor Quidditch team was waiting for her. Presumably to ask why she'd been talking to him, of all people.

Tom's hand twitched for his wand once again. This time, however, it had nothing to do with surprise.

Before returning to his lunch, Tom sneaked a look at Dumbledore. Though the older man's eyes were, ostensibly on his dinner, Tom could tell he was aware of what happened. Mainly because Slughorn had already left, and his auburn beard was quivering with barely contained laughter.

It was all being done for the sake of the big picture, he told himself. He kept on telling himself as much for the rest of the day. It didn't calm him down, but it did stop him from going over the edge.

- - -

Six hours later and Tom was on his way to the library. Not only had he gone over Amelia Bones' Arithmancy file, but he had also gone up to the Room of Requirement to take a gander at those damned books. He knew he'd read her name in their somewhere and I wanted to know where. It turned out that young Madam Bones was not, as it turned out, destined to be a good-for-nothing, pox-ridden waste of oxygen forever. In fact, she was destined to be Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and was also destined to murdered "nastily" and personally by his future-self. This fact alone was enough to make Tom decide that he should get her on his side as soon as possible. This meant actually paying attention to his tutoring session with her.

Indeed, he was paying so much attention to the tutoring session, that he very nearly didn't notice young Ambrosius Flume chasing after him. Ambrosius Flume, the young gentleman who was apparently always in a hurry and who would (allegedly) become owner of Honeydukes one day, was yelling his name with great gusto from the other end of the hallway Tom had just moved down.

Tom froze in his tracks at the sound, a part of him dearly wishing to yank the little twerp up into the air using the spell described in those Potter novels, and leaving him hanging there for eternity. Just to teach him some manners. Instead, he turned slowly around and regarded the mousy little pipsqueak politely.

"You called?" he said sarcastically as Flume sprinted towards him, panting from the effort.

He skidded to a halt beside Tom, looking decidedly worse for wear. "Pro-pr-" Ambrosius exhaled sharply. "Professor Slughorn would like to know if you…" he coughed mid-sentence. It sounded quite painful. "If you have anyone you would like invited to his Christmas Party this year?" he asked at last.

Tom raised his eyebrows. "What on Earth are you drivelling about?" he sighed.

Flume seemed to be recovering slightly. He was, at the very least, sucking in air by that point. Tom supposed that was a sign of improvement. "Professor Slughorn said that he'd been-" Another few gasps for breath. "He'd been talking to Professor Dumbledore, and was under the impression that there might be 'a certain someone' you'd like to invite to the Christmas Party this year."

Tom considered for a moment. It was fairly obvious that Slughorn had heard some garbled version of events from Dumbledore, and had therefore decided that Tom was lusting after McGonagall. Which, at the very least, meant that his plan was working. At the most, it was very helpful. However there had to be better things he could do with that one invite…

"Tell Professor Slughorn that I mean to bring a partner to this year's party," he instructed the still-exhausted second year in front of him. "Also tell him that I would be much obliged if he could arrange for me to have a private discussion with him before the holidays are done, as I'd like to discuss my career. As soon as possible." Ambrosius Flume was still beetroot-red and looked extremely disinclined to move at that particular moment. Tom stared at him politely for a minute longer before exchanging his expression for a more menacing one. "Now, if you please," he added.

Ambrosius moved. Quickly.

Quite pleased that Slughorn had been so unexpectedly helpful, Tom resumed his journey to the library. It occurred to him that if he could get the future Head of Magical Law Enforcement as an ally, it would hardly be a hindrance further in his career. Especially if all went as planned with Slughorn.

As Tom entered the library, he could spot exactly one girl who could have possibly been Amelia Bones. She was small, pale, painfully skinny and quite nervous looking. Her strawberry blonde hair hung lankly, covering her face. She was sitting facing the door, but she was obviously in a world of her own as she stared at a medieval picture book.

Tom adopted his most charming grin and strode towards her. Unlike McGonagall, this girl looked like she might have actually had a crush on another human being at some point in her life, so the charm tactic might work with her. "Hello," he said blithely. "You are Amelia Susan Bones, aren't you? I don't think we've been introduced. My name is Tom Riddle and I'm going to be your Arithmancy tutor. It's a pleasure to meet you." He extended his hand to her.

Amelia Susan Bones stared up at him from between two curtains of thick hair. A blush slowly seemed to spread across her face, and it took her a moment to realise that she was actually expected to respond. She went to take his hand, but realised she couldn't do it from her current position.

As she awkwardly pushed the chair away from the table and promptly tumbled to the floor in an over-excited tangle of limbs and, Tom assumed, hormones, one thing became apparent: He already had the future Head of Magical Law Enforcement under his thumb.

Surely the rest of the Ministry couldn't be far behind?