Harry sat down for Tom's class - he'd been aiming for the back of the classroom, but Hermione had dragged him to the front instead.
Ron's face was reddening with how excited she seemed for the lesson, which he supposed was fair considering what had happened to Ginny. Ron had every right to hate Tom, but...
He didn't know where the easiness had gone in their friendship. Oh, they still had a good enough camaraderie, they'd gone through too much together for that to splinter so easily, but it wasn't quite the same. Sometimes things were strained, especially when it came to Tom or the Slytherins.
It was odd, seeing Ron's unchanged attitude to magic and the different walks of life and society made him realise just how much even a summer with Tom had influenced his view of the world.
If the Dark Lord could have more to him that hatred and a heart - however twisted, bitter and dark - behind the facade, then, well, no one else had an excuse to be so two-dimensional. Even the Slytherins. They must have their own lives, thoughts, insecurities and loyalties and obligations too, which made it very difficult to treat them with the blinkered spite and prejudice he'd affected in his first two years in the Wizarding World.
Even Draco Malfoy wasn't so bad anymore.
But Ron still didn't like Slytherins, and he didn't understand any possible acceptance or tolerance of the Dark Arts either. It wasn't his fault. It was how he'd been raised, just like, he was coming to see, Malfoy had been raised, and never ever so simplistic as he may have once believed or liked it to be.
He was more fun than Hermione still though, that hadn't changed.
But Hermione was a godsend.
He was actually starting to enjoy some of the debates they had, the discussions on magic, even if it got tiring if there was nothing else to talk about for too long a period. He supposed, well...it was different when he actually understood what he was talking about and didn't feel like an idiot.
He didn't always get theory on the first go, there were too many long academic words which frustrated him and made him want to do something where he didn't feel like a moron instead.
But it was getting better.
Tom's classroom was already different from how Binns had been - the walls had numerous posters on them, different propoganda posters from different times, including an Anti-Voldemort one he was thoroughly surprised to see included.
They weren't so numerous as to distract, but they were there enough to make the place look more inspiring and less dusty and dull.
The class were all there on time, maybe even early, eager for a judge of this new professor. They didn't have their notes and quills ready, which was probably the first mistake.
Tom strode in smoothly, and the first thing he did was skim through the register and take it.
Harry wondered if he was nervous to be teaching, but, if he was, it wasn't visible on his face.
He'd barely seen Tom in the few days of his first week, but the start of term was always hectic so he wasn't surprised.
"My name is Professor Riddle, I am your new History of Magic Teacher. You will refer to me either as Professor Riddle, Professor or sir," he stated, calmly. "Now, I understand that you're education in this this classroom has been lacking, and I will take that into consideration in your essays and exams until I am confident you should all be up to speed...
There will be extra reading available on the topics I would have covered with you in your first two years, including a brief overview of all the key events in British magical history, the foundation of Hogwarts, and the history of wizarding relations with magical creatures such as the goblins, house elves or centaurs. A few articles will be compulsory for your viewing, but otherwise though extra work would be encouraged but is not required. Any essays you wish to hand in on the topic will be marked and assessed."
Hermione's eyes lit up at that, and Harry suppressed a smirk. Tom had no idea what he'd opened himself up to with that comment. Poor sod.
"This year we will be focused on external magical affairs - those not revolving around Britain - with most particularly the first Wizarding War involving Grindelwald," Tom finished. "Any questions?"
Hermione's hand shot up.
"Yes Miss Granger?"
"Would it help our exam results if we did the extra work?"
"Wrong question," Tom replied, immediately, causing Hermione's brow to furrow. "You should be asking me how the extra knowledge of your heritage, culture, traditions and history will be helping you in the real world outside of books and paper. Grades are not the mark of intelligence, and life is not a memory test."
Hermione looked crushed, but also a little fascinated, and Tom continued, eyes on her with an impassive expression.
"However, yes, any intertexuality - extra reading, cross reference, background knowledge - will help your grade too as it would create a more mature and insightful analysis of historical events. Any other-yes Miss Granger?"
Hermione's hand had shot into the air again, and Harry was definitely amused now.
"What are you teaching the older years? Just out of curiosity?"
"Fourth Year would focus on the relationship between muggles and magic throughout history, and fifth year would delve into the History of Magic in its most basic definition - the emergence of Light and Dark sides, and the evolution of spells and their categories, etc," Tom replied, succinctly. "Did you have any other questions?"
"How old are you?" This time it was Lavender who asked.
"I'm failing to see how this is relevant to the History of Magic, Miss..." he glanced down at his register. "Brown. However, because I know what students are like, and am intimately familiar with the rumour mill, I may as well answer. I am twenty four year's old-" bullshit! Harry snorted, Riddle was in his sixties, even if he didn't look it, and wow...that was a really weird thought and he was going to stop thinking it now "-No, I am not part or full magical creature in any way, no I do not have a Veela for a girlfriend or a boyfriend or any other type of model partner, and no I do not have a Dragon tattoo on my back."
Harry, along with many of the guys in class, smirked at the way Tom was addressing the wild rumours flying about the school about him.
Lavender blushed, looking down at her desk.
"Anything else?" Tom asked pleasantly. There was a silence. "Alright then, I'll start with a brief comprehensive review on the history that would have been covered in your first years. We will begin your module on Grindelwald at the end of the week."
Well, he was a better teacher than Binns, that was for sure.
He couldn't say he didn't prefer to get a break to just sleep and chat on the last lesson of the day though. Now he had to actually work.
And he had the horrible feeling Tom expected 'O's.
"Harry," Tom called, softly, as the class ended, with an indication for the boy to come to his desk.
Harry muttered something to his friends about seeing them later, and that there was no need to wait outside, before coming over, leaning on his desk.
"If you're giving me extra homework, I'm not doing it," the boy said, before he could say anything. He blinked at that, before smirking at the assumption of preferential treatment...not that he hadn't considered discreetly forcing Harry to do some extra work. It would be for his own good, really.
"Are you intended to hurl suspicious accusations every time I attempt to engage you in conversation after class?" he raised his brows. Harry grimaced.
"Depends on the topic of conversation. How are you settling into teaching? Apparently Snape is still the scariest teacher in school, so I'll assume no one pissed you off too badly."
"The Weasley Twins are in detention on Friday for attempting to turn my classroom into a swamp during one of the lunch periods. They'll be collected bubotuber pus. Other than that, it's been uneventful. How's the return to Hogwarts?"
"Well, nobody's tried to kill me yet," Harry said, not sure if he was joking or not.
"Always a good start then," Tom stated.
There was a silence, though it wasn't entirely uncomfortable.
"So, do you have a cool office and what are the chances of me getting favouritism and not having to do the really long essay you just set us?" Harry asked. He was almost relieved that the boy broke the silence.
"You'll have to come visit sometime. I still have duelling and spells to teach you, do I not?"
He felt smug at the flicker of relief that ran through Harry's eyes too.
"So you're still teaching me and stuff? Even with...don't Hogwarts have wards against-"
Dark Magic, but Harry stopped before outright saying it.
"Oh yes, Harry, I became what I am today without a way of overcoming those wards," he replied.
Harry huffed at that, even if his eyes remained light enough, if guarded too.
"I'll take that as a yes," the boy said, instead. "Though, you know, I do think you should give me allowances on that long essay still, seeing as I have to learn all your extra curricular stuff too."
"You don't have to," Tom shrugged, keeping his movements casual. "You'll just most likely die if you don't. Or get repeatedly used by everyone around you and get people in danger because you're incapable of protecting yourself."
"Weekends then?" he suggested.
He needed to work on his cause and with the Death Eaters on Weekends, and do his marking and lesson plans in the evenings on the week. But then, Harry was used to the fact he didn't always have enough time on his hands, and this could be a good way to intergrate him further with the Dark Side...
"Weekends," he agreed. "Come to my rooms in the mornings. I'll be leaving at eight, if you're not there, I'll leave without you, but I'll leave the spells out for you to study so the day is not wasted for you."
"Alright then," he agreed. Harry was watching him carefully for a moment or two.
"Where are we planning to go on the weekend?" the Gryffindor asked warily. "Not the Malfoys."
"Don't whine," he reprimanded, lightly. "It's not becoming, and doesn't help anything. Yes, sometimes the Malfoys, or other places."
"I thought you didn't want me around your foll...the DE yet?" Harry asked. "Cause, you know, I don't much like them either. I don't want them to teach me."
"Harry," he warned, softly, at the tone.
"What?" Harry folded his arms, unapologetically.
"Don't be a brat. You'll get taught by whoever I want, if it's effective, be it more or one of them. Don't be so quick to toss aside useful resources, you don't know what they could teach you yet, or what you could gain at that."
Harry's head tilted as he considered that angle, before he shrugged, a little sullenly and he knew teenagers were supposed to be moody and temperamental but he really hoped Harry wouldn't get worse and even more angsty. He didn't think he had the patience to deal with a stroppy teenager.
Seriously, Harry was going to have to learn to get over it, or get disciplined, because he certainly wasn't going to put up with it.
"Fine," the boy muttered. "But I don't have to like them."
"Never said you did."
Harry was quiet for a bit, some of his expression easing again.
"You're a really good teacher, you know. Shame you had to go for the mass murdering career instead. Don't suppose there's a chance that you'll just stay being a teacher?"
He gave Harry a smile, but didn't respond to that.
"I'm sure you have homework to be doing. Off you go. And tell me if anyone gives you trouble."
"Sweet, but I don't need someone to look after me," Harry said, nonetheless wandering away.
"Eight O Clock, Saturday, remember," he called after the boy.
The door shut behind him.
The thing about teaching was that he loved the possibility of shaping and making a generation of Wizards and Witches in the image he wanted...
...but he really hated children.
He was so glad he hadn't had any snotty first years yet.
Harry was excited for his first Defense Lesson tomorrow too, but, for now, he had the anticipation of marching down to Snape's gloomy corner of the dungeons for his Occlumency lessons.
He still wasn't entirely convinced this wasn't some nefarious plot, but the skill was useful even if the teacher could be a twat. That, and he could just picture the look on Tom's face when he came up to him and proved he was an Occlumency expert.
So he steeled himself, tried to avoid the Slytherins because he hadn't quite figured out how to deal with them yet, and knocked on the door.
This was going to be fun.
A/N: Oh dear, I have writer's block :( It's Third Year. I knew there's a reason I'm going to go light on it, stuff happens, but most of the plot I'm interested in kicks off in fourth year now. Stuff does happen in Third Year, but...yeah. That and I have exam stress. And I feel restless like I want to kick something. Sorry. Don't know why I'm rambling at you. Sorry for this disappointment of a chapter. Hopefully something better will be coming your way soon. :/