A/N: Do not read if you are squicked. Do not read at work. Do not read in school.
This fic also revolves around immoral things. Warning! Also desecrates the bible. Warning again!
And the serpent said to the woman: No, you shall not die the death.
He dreamed of great things, of golden statues and songs of praise. He dreamed of justice, of guidance, of fairness and equality. He dreamed of repayment. Of retribution.
He does not dream any more. He does not sleep any more. Instead, he works late into the night, feverishly researching, desperately compiling. For, one night, he dreamt of Death.
Oh, what horrors did the single paltry word contain, to turn his very bones cold with fright, to creep up behind him and ghost along his spine? What unimaginable depravities did it entail, to remove the comforts of sleep from him for ever more?
And so he writes, and reads, seeking escape from the inevitable darkness waiting for him, because how tragic it would be, to have his life snatched away from him on a passing whim, some indefinable fantasy? Why, if the ceiling were to fall upon him this exact instant – he glances up, but the stones remain as firm as ever – why, if that were to indeed happen, then he would be gone, banished from the mortal plane, sent to the fiery Hell that surely awaits him. Gone – just like that!
It must not happen, he thinks.I must prevent that from happening. So firm was his conviction that it took the place of food and drink, and companionship, and the thrice-damned sleep that taunts him with visions of Death; sustaining him long after he would have fallen unconscious from exhaustion – until finally, he exclaims, proclaiming his victory over Death itself.
That night, he returns his attentions to the more mundane tasks – charming his teachers, who have grown bold without his constant, subtle training; reassuring his allies, who have become cold with his inattention; disciplining his followers, with regal gestures and haughty words, until they once again become the pitiful reliant creatures that they had been before his sudden obsession with immortality.
In particular, he lavishes Professor Horace Slughorn and Abraxas Malfoy with well-chosen, complimentary words.
Oh, Professor, he might say, that's ingenious, it really is.
Or, to Abraxas, I value your contributions, my loyal friend.
And Slughorn would smile, as brightly and naively as a child, and send more invites to his parties, while Abraxas would smirk, nod, and accept it wordlessly.
His plans are moving along, slowly, exactly as he means them to. Progressing silently and insidiously, slithering into every corner of his victims' minds, holding them captive until he sees fit to release them – not any time in the near future, he supposes, as they have multiple uses, all of which can function as a part, without much need for the whole.
Then one day he approaches Slughorn, under the pretext of extra study projects.
It is a Friday, and Potions is the last class of the day. They stand alone in the dungeons, amidst the various scents of the potions that Slughorn always has on hand – he breathes in appreciatively, noting the distinctive smell of Felix Felicis even though it remains unseen as of yet.
"Professor, I have some questions," he says hesitantly, opening his eyes a little wider than usual. Dark and alluring, those eyes are, his many lovers have told him over and over again – and again, when he obliviates them.
"Yes, Tom?" Slughorn walks over, obscenely happy about his presence. "Some extra-curriculum questions, no doubt; you are much too clever to need any help with normal class work."
"Professor," he says again, fingers brushing through his hair – naturally attractive, his admirers remind him day after day; soft and silky. "I'm afraid that it's a rather sensitive topic… Others might be offended, perhaps, though it is out of a purely intellectual curiosity that I ask this… Professor, you are the only one who can help me with this question – " He cuts himself off, looking directly into Slughorn's eyes and projecting a perfect, flawless image of an innocent schoolboy – but practice makes perfect, and he has been practising for as long as he can remember.
Slughorn's eyes widen too, mimicking his own, before the professor takes out his wand and casts a few primary privacy charms, all of which any Slytherin should know. He, however, has cast his own spells, a veritable arsenal of high-level spells ranging from the obscuring of vision to the prevention of eavesdropping, to immunity from long-distance scrying, to secrecy rituals.
"Ask away, Tom," Slughorns tells him, now that the charms have been cast, though they have been secure ever since the start of the lesson. "I shall answer you to the best of my knowledge," he says, his voice noticeably lower and much more excited.
And he, the immoral, tempting student – he bites at his bottom lip, feigning ignorance of the seduction – he opens his mouth, and asks the well-practiced words, finding perverse delight in the wanton desire he finds in his teacher's eyes.
Leaning forwards, he asks: "Professor, what do you know – about horcruxes?"
As expected, the man starts, gasps, and hurriedly fortifies the charms, adding more than ten new ones, all of which a good Slytherin should know (though there are precious few of those now).
"Dear boy – ! Why, what has possessed you to ask about such a topic? – This is a taboo, a taboo of the highest order! Do not ask me again – do not ask anyone else – and do not plead with me!" Slughorn backs away, apprehension and fear clearly visible on his face now, and prepares to end the charms that he has put up.
He sees it in his teacher's face!How does he know? the mentor thinks.How can a mere schoolboy know that I am the one who knows this? And the little schoolboy pounces, having found the confirmation within the man's trepidation.
"Professor – wait, Professor!" He reaches out, grasps the older man's arm, and leans in closer than he ever has before, staring with a strange intensity into those eyes made attractive and oddly alluring by age an experience.
"Professor," he repeats, earnest and sincere, "Sir, please, I need to know! It eats away at me at night, this lack of knowledge! You must understand, you must have felt it before! This hunger for information, ceaseless and damning! You must tell me, Professor, or I fear that I shall perish!"
They pause, face to face, and Slughorn's breathing comes fast and shallow, as though it had been him begging for an answer, him driven to madness with the lack of knowledge. He sees, reflected in his young student's eyes, his own misspent youth, wasted and utterly meaningless – and he sees in a flash of clarity how this young boy in front of him is inherently, fundamentally different from himself – and he relents.
He relents, but not much.
"If I do," he whispers, trembling with the weight of the crime that he has committed himself to, in his mind, "If I do tell you, then – what will you give me in return?"
The young tempter freezes, though he has already known that such a thing would happen. Slughorn is a Slytherin, after all, and Slytherins are nothing if not self-serving to the last; selfish and indulgent and – well, he supposes, he should know, he himself is the penultimate Sytherin.
He freezes, he admits, but it is not true shock that holds him in place, but a kind of diluted, calculated surprise; he freezes not because he is shocked at the lengths that Slughorn would go to in order to fulfil his desires, but in an attempt to convince himself that he is actually considering the notion, the idea – but he knows full well that he has already considered it, has already accepted the tarnished state of his own morality. He is fully willing to sacrifice anything for that small morsel of sin (body, wealth, soul); the portion of knowledge that the serpent offered to Eve in the form of a perfect, gleaming apple –
– and the sounds of the orphanage comes back to him: soft, desperate chants and prayers that do nothing but provide a cruel, false hope; cries for God, cries for salvation, cries for anything at all –
– and he nods, agreeing with little fuss to the immoral acts that will surely commence (unspeakable, perverse things, they are – and he is an unspeakably perverse creation).
"Anything," he tells his teacher, and the teacher sees his student's eyes soften, strangely understanding and forgiving now. "Anything you ask of me, Professor Slughorn."
And the old man lifts his hand, moves towards the fallen angel in front of him, and touches the smooth pale skin of the angel's face – tenderly, lovingly, as if worshipping a mortal god. "Tom, oh Tom," he says, dreamy and half-awake, seemingly unsure if this is indeed real.
And the angel (he smiles; angel he is not, though perhaps a devil masquerading as an angel might suffice as a description) reciprocates, holding those calloused, unworthy hands in his own perfect fingers. And the angel allows the man to touch, feel, study, explore; he allows all of that and more, obligingly bending down when the mortal pulls him down for a kiss (for he is slim, but tall – taller than his professor, at the very least), pressing those cracked lips against the other's face.
"Tom," he cries in bliss. "Tom, oh, Tom! I must confess – I do swear, Tom, as forbidden as it is – that I love you!"
The angel only smiles in reply (a dry, sardonic smile, he knows, but Slughorn is too lost to notice anything) and how sweet that smile is! They match kiss with kiss, caress with caress, and with each article of clothing that he removes from the quiet angel, the angel removes from him in turn.
Until at last they stand bare and exposed, shivering in the coldness - or at least Slughorn does, for it is beneath angels to feel those earthly physical discomforts (the student pities the man, he does not understand that it the one in front of him has suffered far worse and that this mere wind is nothing in comparison) as mortal men do.
He pauses. "Tom," he says, "You are sure, then, that you are willing – "
And the angel yet again refrains from answering, instead lying down upon the table, pushing potions ingredients out of the way with a single swift movement and smiling beguilingly at the dazed potions professor – open and inviting, as if waiting for someone to ravish him thoroughly – and he sees, quite obviously, that the older man is plainly obsessed with him.
"Tom," Slughorn says, and his voice is trembling now, with anticipation and a distinct touch of desire, "Is this – your first time – ?"
The one that he calls "Tom" nods, hisses a soft, trailing "Yes…", and looks at him with half-lidded eyes. (It is a lie; everything is a lie; there is nothing that he would ever tell the truth about; and the man disgusts him with his naiveté.)
"Good," Slughorn whispers uncertainly, feeling rather as though it would be blasphemy to speak loudly. "I would – I have dreamed of being the first – "
Saying thus, he reaches out again, placing his – unworthy, unworthy! – hands on the tempting flesh, stroking, petting – and his angel groans, flushed with pleasure, (though what he does not know is that the angel scorns him, scoffs at his frankly subpar techniques); that is when he starts the second phase, probing and pushing gently at places that his angel has evidently never explored before, much less with another (what does he know, the angel thinks darkly; healing potions and charms are prerequisites for entering the house of snakes – and if one did not know them at the beginning, then one quickly learned them lest their injuries go unhealed).
Finally, the angel reaches up and says hesitantly, in a bracing tone, "I'm ready" – that is when Slughorn enters him with a cry, eyes closing in unadulterated pleasure, fingers tightening subconsciously in an attempt to anchor himself; lost to the world, he does not notice that the angel's eyes are squeezed shut in pain instead of the unabashed joy that he himself feels.
Afterwards, when he finds release in the body steeped fully in sin (though he is yet ignorant of that fact) and the student wraps his arms around his waist, lifting himself up to peck at the older man's lips again, he reluctantly begins to speak of the horcruxes – thrice-damned horcruxes, the bane of his existence! – and he speaks of the inherent evilness of them, the blatant immorality, the eternal torment that one would inevitably experience if one should use them – though he would not know, thank God, he has never tried it himself, he has never killed.
And his lovely angel pats him soothingly, murmuring comforting words in his velvet-smooth voice, assuring his teacher once again of his purely intellectual curiosity – a virtuous, simple need for knowledge.
Slughorn dresses himself again, admiring the ethereal paleness of his young student's body, and seeks to extract one last reassurance from him as he turns to leave the room: "This will stay between us only – Tom?" Anxious, insecure.
"Yes, Professor Slughorn," comes the answer. "Obliviate."