A/N: I love Tom. So much so that I spent a good few hours with him today, writing this fic. This is based on an idea that I wrote before my old computer died so it's kind of a rewrite but completely different. If that makes sense. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy this. I had a few good laughs whilst writing it. Hopefully you will too. Let me know what you think, I always love hearing from you. =] By the way, the next chapter of Eclairs will be up by Saturday evening at the very latest. I'm not sure if I can face much more writing today.
The Night Before the Morning After.
"Professor, I don't suppose you'd be able to, well I guess if anyone can it would be you, but, well, I was wondering if I would be able to swap my shifts this week? Specifically Wednesday evening, if it's not too much trouble?" Tom offered a hopeful smile, his eyes wide and innocent as he waited for his head of house to respond.
Slughorn chortled, his rotund stomach bouncing with each individual laugh. "Ho ho! Tom's got himself a date, has he? And who is the lucky lady, may I ask?"
Tom forced a blush to rise in his cheeks. "Well, Professor, I was thinking I might ask Annie Marks, you know, the Hufflepuff girl," Tom avoided eye contact, giving off just the right amount of nerves and embarrassment.
"Ah, yes, lovely girl that one. Not particularly academic but nice girl all the same," Slughorn nodded and stroked his chin. "Well let's have a look at the roster, shall we?" He opened the draw of his mahogany desk and searched through a mass of scrolls before finally pulling out the prefect duty roster. He made a low humming noise and frowned at the parchment.
"Oh, Professor, I almost forgot! I put in an order at Honeydukes at the weekend and they sent me a box of crystallised pineapple rather than the ice mice that I ordered, I was going to send it back but then I remembered that you said that you liked it so I thought you could have it instead." Tom was careful not to go overboard. Slughorn was stupid, but he wasn't that stupid. 'I want a favour so here's a box of crystallised pineapple to seal the deal' was not an approach that Tom approved of. Least of all because he would end up leaving Slughorn's overly fancy office with little to no self respect or dignity in tact. He opened his satchel and pulled out the said box, still sealed with the Honeydukes anti-tamper label.
"Oh are you sure dear boy?" Slughorn took the box without waiting for a reply, "very kind of you I must say. Thank you very much indeed!"
The old fool was his. "It's no problem at all sir."
Slughorn smiled indulgently. "You're a good lad, Tom. You'll go far. That reminds me, the next Slug Club meeting is on Friday. We'll have a small gathering, don't worry about dinner, I'll have the house elves provide us with everything we need."
"Sounds good, Professor, I look forward to it." Another smile. Tom hated smiling, but he was rather good at it.
Slughorn looked down at the list. "Yes, I suppose you can swap with that Gryffindor fifth year, Alfie, yes...I'll tell Professor Dumbledore. Enjoy your evening Tom!"
"Thank you very much, Professor. Thank you. Enjoy your pineapple!" It was always good to leave Slughorn with a reminder of what he had gained from helping you. Shallow, materialistic, dim-witted and desperate for reflected glory, Tom wasn't sure whether he loved or loathed his head of house.
As he left the office the smile dropped from his face.
February the fourteenth brought with it a chilly, yet sunny morning. When Tom arrived in the Great Hall for breakfast he couldn't help but notice the heightened female attention he was receiving. With a smirk he crossed the Hall to the Slytherin table, sat down between Abraxas and Arcturus, who were also smirking, and helped himself to some bacon and eggs.
Now, he just needed to eat his breakfast, wait patiently, and once the post was delivered, feign modesty and try to pull off his 'oh I'm so flattered!' look successfully. He could feel the tension in the room, as girls hoped (mostly in vain) that they would be receiving something in the post other than a letter from their mothers. Boys pretended not to care, but Tom could see in their eyes, the way they kept looking to the ceiling that they wanted some attention, if only so they could brag about it to their friends.
The flapping of wings started off as a distant rumble, then progressed until it was a thunderous symphony of beating wings. Abraxas and Arcturus, dutiful followers that they were, cleared a space in front of Tom, who continued to eat his breakfast, apparently oblivious to what was about to descend on him.
The envelopes dropped all over the Great Hall, but the main unloading of cards was happening at the Slytherin table, and Tom made sure that some nearby Ravenclaws heard him say "These can't all be for me!" in disbelief to Arcturus, who smirked and moved Tom's goblet out of the way of an incoming card.
It was an impressive haul this year. There had to be at least seventy cards on the table in front of him, perhaps more. Now all that remained was the busy job of sorting them.
As it was a Wednesday, neither Tom, Abraxas or Arcturus had lessons until half past ten, when they would have Transfiguration with Dumbledore. It was as though Tom was being punished for his easy morning. As though Merlin himself had decided that since he would be laying around doing nothing until that time, he would have to deal with the biggest oaf in the school for two hours until he was able to escape to lunch.
Still, it was happily convenient that Valentines Day had fallen on a Wednesday this year, it would give them ample time to sort through the mountain of cards.
Tom decided to get a head start on them, opening the first one. It was from a third year. "No," Tom said, handing it to Abraxas.
"She's quite good looking, quite mature for her age -"
"And it would be very very illegal for me to see her this evening," Tom told him. "Perhaps we'll write her a nice response. Maybe next year I'll change my mind."
"She'll still be three years younger than you," Arcturus told him. "What will next year change?"
"She's already had her birthday," Tom said, "so next year she'll be fifteen. That's not half as bad as a girl who's only just turned fourteen. I do have some sort of conscience. Besides, if she's young then she may not be as..."
Tom smirked but said nothing, instead he moved onto the next card. He didn't recognise the name at the bottom. "Who's that?" he asked, showing Abraxas and Arcturus.
"She's a Ravenclaw. Sitting up the end of the table there, with the dark hair," Arcturus replied, looking over at a thin girl who was reading the Daily Prophet.
"What is that on her head?" Tom demanded, trying to keep a blank face so the others in the Hall would not have any idea what he was thinking.
The girl looked up and Tom gave her (rather charitably, in his opinion) a smile, which she eagerly returned.
"Her face?" Abraxas hazarded a guess, unsure what Tom was talking about.
"It's disgusting. I don't want to see it ever again in my entire life." All the while Tom kept a serene smile on his face, so as not to give away any hint that the girl's card was being cast into the 'definitely no, not in a million years, not even if I was given a thousand galleons' pile.
"This one's from Helen," Arcturus said, showing him a rather simple, quite elegant card.
"Absolutely, one hundred per cent yes," Tom said quickly. "That girl was on fire last year."
"I don't particularly want to know about your fetishes, Tom, incendio-based or not," Abraxas drawled, smirking at his own joke.
Tom decided not to grace Abraxas with a reply.
"I think it wise to take these back to the common room," Arcturus said. "We're getting a lot of attention."
Tom nodded and waved his wand so the cards rearranged themselves into two neat piles. He got up from the table and walked to wards the entrance hall, Abraxas and Arcturus following on behind with the cards. Abraxas frowned at Arcturus, who seemed to share his displeasure, though neither of them complained about their 'demeaning' jobs.
"This is a good one, listen to this," Arcturus said with a rare grin on his face. "Tom, you make my heart beat faster whenever I am near you -"
"How many times do I have to tell you? I don't swing that way, Arcturus. I'm sorry but -"
"Let me finish," Arcturus said.
"I won't change my mind," Tom replied, his smirk becoming more pronounced.
"Honestly, this one is so classic, let me read it without interruption," he looked down at the card again, finding the place where he had left off, "you make my heart beat faster, blah blah blah, when ever I think about you I shiver. I just want to touch you all over and I want you to touch me as well. Sometimes, at night, when I'm alone, I pretend you are, and it always gets a much better reaction."
"Reaction?" Tom questioned, hardly daring to believe what Arcturus had said. "As in -"
"As in she thinks about you when she's entertaining herself," Arcturus said with a smirk. "Sounds slutty, I bet she'll do anything you ask her to."
Abraxas grabbed the card from Arcturus. "Annie Marks? Yeah, she'll definitely do anything you ask. She's not bad looking either. Not great looking, but acceptable. Besides, maybe you won't have to look at her face."
"I'm quite sure I'll have to see her face, Abraxas," Tom told him sternly.
"Not if you bend her -"
"Enough!" Tom held up a hand and Abraxas fell silent. Arcturus was smirking. Again. "Put her in the yes pile."
Abraxas tossed the card into the smallest pile. "You've got three in there now. How many d'you reckon would be best? Six? Seven?"
"We'll see," Tom said. "If we're a little short by the end of this then we can add some of the 'good looking but skills unknown' in there. Perhaps I can do a little bit of teaching this evening."
"I want Jenna Armstrong," Arcturus said. "I've heard about her."
"I've had her," Abraxas said. "You'll enjoy it."
"I'm sure," Arcturus replied. "Oh what about this one? Augusta Longbottom?"
"She's all right looking I suppose," Tom mused, stroking his chin thoughtfully.
"No, you don't want to go with her," Abraxas assured him. "Seriously. I wouldn't touch her with a twenty foot broomstick. Alexander Hart did and...well...he got a nasty rash. I heard she's utterly riddled."
"Please don't use the word 'riddled'," Tom said. "Say something like 'infested' instead."
"Well she's utterly infested."
Arcturus threw the card to the largest pile ('definitely no, not in a million years, not even if I was given a thousand galleons' ) and opened the next one.
Tom opened a card as well, glancing at it briefly and throwing it into the 'meh' pile.
"No way," Abraxas whispered. He was staring at the card in his hands, jaw hanging low, his blonde eyebrows high on his forehead.
Tom snatched the card from him and smirked. There was no silly, love sick message, not even a 'Dear Tom'. In fact, the card was blank, apart from the name signed at the bottom in pristine handwriting.
"Celeste never sends cards," Arcturus said, "never. She doesn't need to."
"Well I don't send cards either so she must have realised that if she wants me she'll have to come and get me."
"I'd ditch the others and just go the whole night with her," Abraxas advised. "Seriously."
"No," Tom said. "There is plenty of time for those worthy enough -"
"Slutty enough you mean."
"Worthy enough, to have a piece of me. I will simply tell Celeste that I will meet her at eleven o'clock and then I'll get her to come back here with me."
"Use a silencing charm," Arcturus said, "please try not to forget. I didn't get any sleep last year. It was dreadful."
"For you, perhaps. I must say I rather enjoyed myself."
Flattered though I am by your lovely card, I am afraid I will not be able to return the sentiments this year. As you are aware, there is a considerable age gap between the two of us, and as a wizard who is of age, I feel it would be irresponsible of me to take advantage of you and your feelings.
Perhaps if you still feel the same when you are older -
"A little older," Abraxas said, "she'll cling on then, because it doesn't seem like such a long way away."
Tom nodded and made the adjustment.
Perhaps if you still feel the same when you are a little older, I would be honoured to accompany you to Hogsmeade on one of the weekend visits.
"Oh she'll die over the 'yours, Tom'," Abraxas said, "girls always do. They feel like they own you then."
"I can assure you that no woman will ever own me," Tom said.
"No, of course not," Abraxas replied, "but the key is to let them think that they do."
"How's that letter for the rejects coming?" Tom asked, looking towards Arcturus.
"Almost finished," Arcturus answered, taking care to make sure that every letter was penned perfectly onto the piece of parchment. He signed Tom's name with a flourish and picked the scroll off of the rug that they were sitting on.
I would like to thank you for your card and am writing to tell you how flattered I am having received it.
Unfortunately I have already made plans for this evening and I am a man of my word, so cancelling them would be nothing short of abhorrent. Had I been free this evening, I would have been thrilled to spend time with you. If I find myself free at any point in the school year, you can rest assured that you will be the first person I will contact, should I wish for pleasurable company.
Wishing you a happy Valentines Day,
"Why are you giving them hope?" Abraxas asked with a disgusted look on his face. "That is the letter for the ugly ones, right?"
"Yes, but some of them may blossom yet, and when they do, when they get all the male attention and realise that the oafs only want them for their looks, who are they going to remember? They're going to remember that kind boy who saw past their unpleasant exterior and cared about them for who they truly are. They will see the boy who only didn't go on a date with them because he was too decent to ditch the girl he had already made plans with. They will remember Tom Riddle. And seriously, girls who are ugly or were ugly are always much much more grateful for attention, so the fucking will be nothing short of immense."
"And you started off so eloquently as well..." Tom said with a sigh. "Very good, send them out, then get to work on the letter for Jenna Armstrong."
"Yes sir," Arcturus said, a genuine smile on his face for once. With a wave of his wand the letters multiplied. Sixty eight copies of the exact same letter were now spread across the floor of the Slytherin common room.
"And don't forget to put the charms on them. Merlin knows what kind of riot would ensue if they found out they'd all received the same letter. A secrecy charm, a timed incendio and a tongue tying hex, so they don't go blabbing. And don't forget to put their names on either, will you?"
"I'm not an idiot," Arcturus murmured as he began casting the spells.
"Debatable..." Tom said softly, before he began to pen his replies to the successful Valentines candidates.
They sat in silence for a short while. Abraxas was sorting through the rejects to find someone who was disappointed and desperate (AKA easy) but also good looking enough for him to spend some time with that evening.
Nearly every response Tom wrote mentioned Prefect duty (which he didn't actually have) an essay that was due in the following day (as if he would leave such things to the last minute) or else an important engagement that could not be missed (a meeting with another girl). This would allow him to escape at an appropriate time without any of the girls being any the wiser. The only letter that didn't include a get out clause was the letter to Celeste, which simply asked her to meet him in the dungeons (after Prefect duty) so they could spend some time getting to know one another a little more thoroughly.
After a short while Arcturus cleared his throat and began to read:
Thank you for your card and kind words, I am incredibly flattered by your attentions.
Unfortunately I am not in a position where I am able to return the sentiments. For this I apologise. I believe it would be unfair as I have already made promises which cannot be broken. I hope you are not too disappointed by this.
If you wish for some male company this evening, my friend Arcturus is incredibly witty, intelligent and caring. He is a great pleasure to be around and is also rather more handsome than I am.
"I beg your pardon?"
"Well, we don't want you to come off as arrogant, do we?" Arcturus said slyly, turning back to the letter.
"Nor do we want to give the girl the impression that I am blind, stupid, mad, or lying. Tell her you are almost as good looking as I am. And lose the 'incredibly' before the 'witty'."
"That wouldn't be a lie though," Arcturus reasoned.
"Yes it would, now change it you dolt," Tom said sharply.
Arcturus sighed and picked up where had left off.
and is also very nearly as handsome as I am.
If you wish, he will meet you in the entrance hall after dinner for an evening of splendour that is sure to be remembered well into your old age.
"All right?" Arcturus asked, jabbing his wand at the parchment to make the changes that Tom had demanded.
"I suppose it will have to do," Tom replied. "Now hurry up, we can't be late or Dumbledore will have us in detention tonight and you know how tight my schedule is."
Abraxas opened his mouth, about to project some sort of witless comment but one look from Tom and he was silenced.
"Take those up to the dormitory and put them somewhere out of sight. Except for Celeste's one. Put that on my bedside cabinet."
"Yes my Lord," Abraxas replied sarcastically, rolling his eyes.
Tom swept from the Slytherin common room, leaving the others to clear up the mess.
The rest of the day passed excruciatingly slowly. Tom received several shy smiles throughout the course of the day and at one point was even groped quite inappropriately in the middle of a crowded corridor. When he turned around to try and find the culprit, half a dozen girls beamed at him, and for the first time in his life, Tom was unable to determine a certain answer to a question. It was a very sobering feeling indeed.
"Hello Tom," a pretty girl with wavy light brown hair said to him when he came out of Charms.
"Emily!" Tom said cheerfully. "Thank you for your card, really. I'm flattered." Tom made sure that the smile he gave her was nothing short of heart stopping, though the girl, unlike every other girl in the school seemed to be capable of coherent thought whilst having such a magnificent honour bestowed upon them.
"I just wanted to say thanks for the reply," she said. "It was very kind of you."
"When it comes to you, my dear, how could I even consider being anything but? I wouldn't want tears to stain that pretty face now, would I?" Tom mentally applauded himself as the girl blushed.
"Well all the same, it was the nicest let down I've ever had."
"Not let down," Tom corrected, "more of a..." he paused to try and find the right word, "promise."
"A promise?" the girl asked excitedly. "Really?"
"Absolutely," Tom replied. "Once I feel that you are old enough – I wouldn't want to take advantage of you at such a delicate time in your life – then I would jump at the chance to escort you to Hogsmeade. I honestly mean it. I just want to make sure it's what you really want."
The girl blushed an even brighter shade of red.
"Off to lunch now," he said with a smile, "you don't want to have to choose from the left overs, do you?"
Emily shook her head. "Bye Tom!"
"Goodbye Emily," Tom said, leaning down and kissing her on the cheek.
The girl didn't move for a few seconds, but once her brain had kicked into gear again, she smiled and trotted off.
Tom smirked. His overnight candidate for next year was secured...
"Your card was certainly enlightening, Annie," Tom said with a smile.
Annie locked the door of the empty classroom with a wave of her wand and smiled. She strutted over to him, quite confidently and only stopped when she was half an inch away from him.
"Tom, I don't particularly want to hear you talk," she said plainly.
Tom would have been offended if the girl hadn't immediately dropped to her knees.
After a moment or two, Tom's eyes widened.
"Oh goodness, not wasting any time, are you?" he said shakily.
She didn't reply.
"Do you have to go?" she whined. "Can't you give the essay in late?"
"As a hopeful candidate for the position of Head Boy..."
"Yeah yeah," Annie said, rolling her eyes. "I'll see you tomorrow?"
"Perhaps. If I'm not busy."
Annie smiled and Tom left her in the empty classroom while she finished getting dressed.
One down, five to go...
"Stay, please," Helen moaned, rolling over in her bed to look at him.
"I can't," Tom said, glancing at the clock as he fastened the buttons on his shirt. "I'm already late for Prefect duty and I don't know how long that charm lasts. The alarm is bound to go off soon and we'll get caught."
"So what? We're both of age. And it's not like you've snuck into another house."
"Sneaked," Tom corrected. "And I doubt Professor Dippet would approve either way, no matter what the circumstances are. I can't risk my chances of becoming Head Boy."
"Oh please," Helen begged, pouting slightly.
"Why? Are you not satisfied?" Tom asked.
"Well of course I am, but I want more."
"There can be too much of a good thing, Helen. I really must go. Sleep tight."
Helen huffed but her sour mood disappeared when Tom kissed her softly.
"Always leave them with a kiss," Abraxas had said, "It makes them think you care about them and if they think that then you can call on them any time you like."
By the time Tom got to the dungeons at five to eleven, he was well and truly shattered. The last five hours had taken its toll and he was severely lacking in energy. Luckily Abraxas had had the foresight to brew him an energy replenishing potion, which Tom took from the pocket of his slightly crumpled robes and drank down quickly.
"Hi Tom," Celeste said quietly as she entered the dungeon.
"Hello, you gorgeous thing," Tom replied with a smirk.
Celeste smiled and approached him. "So what did you have in mind?" she asked. "I know you said that you wanted us to get to know each other more thoroughly, but that's a rather vague statement. I hope you're not planning anything that would besmirch my honour."
"Not besmirch, never besmirch," Tom assured her.
Celeste smirked, then kissed him.
He hadn't been lying when he said he wouldn't besmirch her honour. By the following morning she wouldn't have any left to besmirch, even if he wanted to.
"I should go."
Tom groaned as he was woken by Celeste. "What?"
"I said I should go," Celeste repeated, pulling her clothes on quickly. "It's five o'clock in the morning."
Tom groaned again and rolled over, burying his face in his pillow.
"Are you going to walk me back?" Celeste asked.
Tom lifted his head so he could speak without his words being muffled. "You're a talented witch. You're more than capable of handling yourself."
"If you're going to tell them to get lost, do it with a compliment, they won't even realise. They're stupid creatures like that."
Tom vaguely heard the dormitory door open and close and soon fell into a well earned slumber.
He was rudely awoken by light penetrating his closed eyelids most unpleasantly. The sound of his curtains being drawn seemed a hundred times louder than usual and he opened his eyes, squinting at the person who had had the audacity to disturb him.
"Get up," it was Arcturus.
Tom fell back into his pillows and pulled the duvet up to cover his cold shoulders.
"It's five to nine, we've got Potions in five minutes."
"Not today," Tom yawned. "I couldn't possibly..."
"Good night?" Abraxas asked, coming into view.
"I feel completely battered. I feel abused. Honestly, some of those girls...well..."
Abraxas grinned. "Which ones?"
"I will tell you which ones when I release them back to the common people."
"I'll tell Slughorn you've come down with a terrible cold and can't possibly attend lessons," Arcturus said. "Don't sleep too late, you'll ruin your sleeping pattern."
"Who are you?" said Abraxas, "his mother?"
"She's dead," Tom reminded him loudly.
"Sorry," Abraxas said quickly.
Arcturus and Abraxas returned to the common room straight after dinner and handed Tom a tray of food that they had got him from the kitchens to keep up the pretence of his sickness.
"You're in trouble," Arcturus said quickly.
At that moment, Helen walked into the common room with her friends, saw Tom, walked straight up to him and slapped him round the face. She stormed off up to the girls' dormitory, her friends following on behind her, all glaring at Tom as they passed him.
"Clearly," Tom said, touching his face gently and wincing. "What's happened?"
"Women are gossiping harpies, that's what happened," Abraxas told him. "They all ran straight back to their friends after you'd finished with them and told them what had happened. By dinner time the whole school knew."
Tom's mouth formed an 'o' shape but no noise came out.
"Basically," Arcturus said, "You're fucked."
"Well actually, that's one thing he isn't. Not anymore. I don't think Annie Marks would even -"
"Be quiet Abraxas, what are we going to do?" Tom said sharply, setting his dinner to one side.
"If it's any consolation, most of the boys think you're a legend."
Tom smirked at this, though it didn't help his situation.
"I suppose you'll have to face the repercussions. Endure a few slaps, make a few 'heartfelt' apologies, and try and get through it," Arcturus told him.
"Out of the question," Tom said. "I don't do 'heartfelt' any more than I do apologies."
"You could do a memory charm on the whole school," Abraxas suggested.
"Dippet would know."
"You could hide away until it's forgotten about."
"It won't be," Tom rubbed his face in frustration, trying to find some way he could get out of this situation with his dignity still in tact yet without having to watch his back every second of the day for the next few months.
"You could kill yourself," Abraxas seemed to be completely serious as he said this. Tom didn't even bother to reply. Abraxas continued to be unhelpful and said, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, did no one ever tell you that?"
If looks could kill, Tom would have committed murder right there in the middle of the Slytherin common room. Hell, if he wasn't so concerned that he would be thrown out of school he would have turned his wand on the idiot and sent the Killing Curse his way without a second thought.
Arcturus held back a smirk. "Well..." he said, "I suppose...you're completely fucked."
Tom nodded. "That rather seems to be the case, doesn't it?"