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Two Men In A Bar

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“I could make you a king,” Tom said, because like the many spoiled heirs who used to sneer at him in the corridors, muggles were foolish enough to believe that power could be handed over on a platter.

And it must have been a trick of the flickering light that when the colour seemed to bleach from the boy’s face at that particular moment, as if hit by a discolouring charm. It made him look tired; old and frayed around the edges like a muggle photograph, because the simpletons still froze their images in greyscale as if anyone would ever care enough to remember any of their daily failures.

There wouldn’t be anyone left to remember them when Tom was through, but the boy didn’t know that.

And he was appealing in a way, all sharp edges and pureblood skin; Black hair curling at the nape of his neck in the Rosier way. No one but a mudblood could have mistaken him for a pure wizard though; the shadows highlighting his eyes were too prominent to be blamed on incompetent spell-casting, and any proud pureblood mother would have cast off the freckles splattered across the boy’s cheekbones years ago, but he would do well enough in dim light; maybe kneeling on the floor between Tom’s legs as if in obedience to his proper status.

Once he had won, Tom thought it might perhaps be a good idea to keep some of the scum around as bed-slaves, particularly if they had a mouth like that. He could not, of course, risk using his own followers like that, in case it inflated their already inflated sense of their own importance.

They didn’t seem to realise that they were all disposable in the end. After all, one skilled dueller with deep pockets was the same as another and wizards had been inbreeding like Weasleys since Dumbledore’s lucky break.

“I don’t think so,” said tonight’s fuckboy coldly, leaning back on his stool. He gave off a surprisingly good illusion of sobriety, considering Tom had wandlessly tripled the amount of alcohol in his glass ten or so minutes ago.

“Oh?” he asked, raising a delicate eyebrow, slow and tilted the way Abraxas Malfoy had taught him when Tom was just another little first-year to him rather than his lord and master.

Slytherin pride was not something that should have been taught to Slytherin’s heir by some prancing peacock.

“No,” said the boy, and Tom groped around for a name, trying to dredge up fragments of unimportant memory, as the boy rested an elbow on the worn wood of the bar and made a swift beckoning motion with his hand; long fingers flying through the air as if he were used to being obeyed; with all the pureblood grace usually caused by intensive playing of the piano or harpsichord.

Just a whore, he reminded himself, but all the same, the boy was hardly as imbecilic as he had expected.

It was almost a relief, except the clever ones could be odiously difficult to get into bed, not fooled enough by charm or flattery, nor shallow enough to settle for merely good looks.

He took another sip as the boy ordered, then asked, “Why ever not?”, twirling his glass in his hand as if the answer were absolutely irrelevant.

“Someone else tried telling me that once,” said Edmund – such a filthy, common name, much like the one Tom himself was fighting to shed - and his voice was colder now, like the conversation was boring him. “It didn’t go so well for her.”

It wasn’t supposed to go this way, Tom thought, and if he were not Slytherin’s heir he might even have panicked.

“Interesting,” he said instead, crooking his head slightly sideways in the appearance of interest his vapid girlfriends had always liked. “Do tell.”

“I don’t think so,” Edmund – no, Pevensie - replied.

“If you did, you’d have to kill me?” Tom asked, because Salazar, how Gryffindorish.

“If I had to kill you, we wouldn’t be sitting here talking about it.” Edmund said, but his voice was softer now, half a dream; and Tom’s spell was obviously working. “Anyway, you wouldn’t believe me.”

As if there was anything of interest that a muggle could tell him.

“Why ever not? I’ve heard some pretty preposterous tales at school, most of them true.”

“None like this.”

“A second-year boy tried teaching a giant spider to talk,” he found himself saying, like he actually cared about the boy’s conversation.

“Did it work?” Pevensie was smiling now, and Tom hated him just a little bit more for that; for knowing nothing about the magical world and somehow still laughing at it.

Filthy muggle.

Yes, he thought, and was startled to hear it come out of his mouth.

He hadn’t lost control of his speech like this since Dumbledore had set his wardrobe on fire.

“Well then,” Pevensie said, and downed his drink in one smooth gulp, “What was the problem?”

He wanted to bruise this boy for his insolence, cover him in purple shadows and blood to display his status.

“You cannot have monsters in a school,” Tom said, an echo of his own words from a couple of months previously still ringing in his ears; still considered little more than a child and lying to the supposed greatest wizard alive, or whatever the old fool’s epithet amongst the Gryffindors was, as if he hadn’t summoned the real monster himself.

“Well, what did it do?” asked Pevensie, twisting on his wooden stool to face Tom. His eyes were sharp, his mouth pursed. Gryffindor, he thought, and it was only practice and the noble blood running through his veins that kept him from shuddering.

“A twelve year old girl was killed, I believe.”

“By a talking spider?” There was an odd edge to his voice, almost like hope.

He had to be imagining it: there was no way a muggle would know about the Acromantulae, and even wizards did not like them.

And yet it was getting surprisingly easy to forget his real status; Pevensie seemed more intelligent than most of his followers. If only.

“It was poisonous.”

“Venomous,” the brat retorted.

“I’m sorry?” Tom ground out, and managed to make it sound almost pleasant, but there was an unwelcome glint in Pevensie’s eye that told him he wasn’t quite fooled.

“I’m assuming she didn’t swallow it.”

“Hardly. Indeed, you’re right.” The words were physically painful. Maybe it would have been better to sacrifice one of his ever-growing followers than waste his evening like this.

“I’m always right,” said Pevensie bitterly. The knowledge did not seem to bring him any pleasure. Muggles, indeed.

“Usually, so am I,” Tom admitted, but Pevensie only tilted his head slightly and chuckled slightly. It was a surprisingly cold sound, though ringing and clear. It made the heads of several other patrons turn, but Pevensie didn’t hold their attention for long; for all they saw was two barely legal boys enjoying their new easy access to legal alcohol, friends or brothers.

And they could have been brothers, at least from far away at dusk; dark hair and pale skin and dark eyes and a mocking twist to their mouths, and shouldn’t that a sobering thought for Slytherin’s only living descendent.

Minerva McGonagall had once called Tom self-obsessed. In a way, this was the ultimate victory, proving her both right and deliciously wrong with no sacrifices on his side.

“Apparently not this time,” said Pevensie, and that settled it.

There are limits to what Tom would put up with just for some relief and personal pride, and there was no way he would ever willingly put up with being mocked by a fucking muggle.

Imperio, he thought, wand peeking out of the coat he’d refused to hang up with those belonging to the filth, hidden under the table, but carefully pointing at Pevensie.

There was no perceptible reaction, but some of them did react like that, too stupid to even notice the intrusion. Tom felt almost disappointed, though he would have been foolish to expect more from a muggle than many of his obsequious hangers-on.

Come with me, he thought at the boy, almost feeling the power flowing through the blood it represented, and waited.

And waited.

Then he blinked hard, for Pevensie showed no sign of movement except the dull tap of his fingers against the rim of his empty glass, seemingly in deep thought. Bemused, Tom looked down at his wand, almost wondering whether he had somehow pointed it at someone else, though no one seemed to be advancing towards him.

Finally, he looked up, schooling his face into a pleasant and not at all perturbed expression, only to find Pevensie already watching him, his expression colder than anyone’s Tom had ever seen.

“Magic hasn’t worked on me for a very long time,” he said, and stood, sliding one hand into his pocket. For a mad moment, Tom wondered whether he too was reaching for a wand, but all he pulled out were some small muggle coins, and slid them across the bar in the direction of the bartender. Then he leaned in carefully, and breathed “I find gentler methods of persuasion far more effective,” against Tom’s ear.

Tom almost jumped, breath catching in his throat even as Pevensie left, and he was left alone at the bar, still fingering his wand.