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October 16th, 2006


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stephanometra
03:38 am - Gift for WildeFan!
Title: The Color of Absinthe
Author: kethlenda
Recipient: embossedsilver
Pairing(s): Tom/Minerva
Rating: R
Summary: A perceptive person, perhaps, could pinpoint the days Minerva finds herself thinking of him. It is on these days that she wears green.
Warnings: light bondage, alcohol
Author's Note: Hope you enjoy this, embossedsilver! Thanks to S, for the beta.

***


A perceptive person, perhaps, could pinpoint the days Minerva finds herself thinking of him. It is on these days that she wears green. She is not entirely certain, even now that she has grown old and icy and her once sable hair turned to iron-grey, whether this tradition is one of nostalgia or of penance. She only knows she must not perform it on Quidditch days. It might be open to misinterpretation.

There is no Quidditch tonight. Even with the aid of magic, no one could do much in the way of heroics on the pitch on a night like this one. All the Warming Charms Minerva can muster have made little difference in the temperature of her high-piled quilts. It is one of those nights when even the heaviest of flannel nightgowns (viridian) is chill against her skin and seems to be doing more harm than good. The stones of the floor are freezing beneath her feet; sleet patters a mournful song against the louvered windows. Minerva slips between the covers. Her bones protest every movement. She welcomes the creaking familiarity of her ancient joints. They remind her that she is no longer young, that the long trudge of years lies between Minerva and the girl she once was. That she is staid and steady and impeccably good, that he is a monster lost in his dreams of immortality and terror, and that it has been a lifetime since they were only two young people whose fates were not yet written.

She'd heard that the drink wormed holes in the memory, slithering through the mind and plundering its treasures. If only the tale had been true, just that once.

***

She should have known it was Tom's doing. Professor Slughorn had complained of a thief in his storerooms. "Oho," he'd said, "we have a rogue with good taste! Brewing absinthe in the broom closets, no doubt!"

What should have tipped Minerva off was the intricate ritual involved in the consumption of the drink. Ordinary schoolboys filched Firewhisky from Hogsmeade, or wine from the teachers' apartments, and passed the bottle around in the common room to the rhythm of the bawdiest songs they could half-remember.

Ordinary schoolboys most certainly did not sit primly in a velvet-upholstered chair in the prefects' bathroom, performing some sort of elaborate dance of spoons and sugar cubes over a glass of lurid green liquid, as a crumbling leather tome lay splayed open in their laps. Only Tom Riddle.

He flicked his eyes up to meet hers, brazen as you please, and smirked. "Dearest Minerva," he said. His voice was nonchalant. "I do believe you've wandered into the wrong room. The ladies' is across the hall." He returned to tinkering with his drink.

"Slughorn asked me to investigate the wormwood that's gone missing from his stores. I suspect I've found it."

"Indeed you have. Run along, now." He waved toward the door. "I'm busy, if you don't mind."

"So you think the rules don't apply to you? That you're special somehow?"

"More than you'll ever realize, my little kitten."

Minerva twitched before she had a chance to think about it. How did Tom know what she was studying on the side? Relax, Minerva, it could be a coincidence. Maybe he calls everyone "kitten."

His laugh was metal on glass. "Why, what's wrong, kitten?"

"Nothing," she said, too quickly.

"Liar," he said. "I can always tell when I've touched a nerve."

She gave him her best indifferent shrug. "Very well, then. You enjoy yourself here with your little mind games. Meanwhile, I'll be in Slughorn's office, telling him where he might try looking for his missing wormwood."

"Ah, Minerva McGonagall, that illustrious paragon of rules and regulations. Tell me, kitten--and don't bother lying--don't you want to taste la fee verte? Just once, before you dry up into an old crone before your time, and your skin starts to look like that parchment you so love?"

Minerva was struck silent. She wasn't sure if it was the sheer viciousness of Tom's remark that dealt the blow, or if he'd poked at another sensitive spot. She eyed the drink. They said it gave one visions of frightening beauty and delicious horror. It looked like Avada Kedavra distilled into liquid form.

"Come now," he said. He'd set down the book and crossed the room before she knew what was happening, and was within arm's reach of her. "I know who you really are, Minerva. You’re not the prim, pure virgin goddess you pretend to be. You want to take a bite out of the apple before you grow old and die. Don't waste your breath denying it."

She closed her eyes and saw two Minervas in her mind's eye. One turned and left the room at that very moment and went straight to Slughorn. One stayed just long enough to taste the forbidden elixir.

One became an old woman, purse-lipped and tight-laced, hair bound in an inexorable knot. The other smiled and licked sugar from her lips; threw back her loose ebon hair and laughed.

Minerva sighed. "I'll try it."

He placed the glass in her hand. The emerald-green fluid had gone cloudy. She half-suspected he'd drugged it--even poisoned it--until she called up a vague scrap of memory indicating that this was normal.

It still doesn't mean he hasn't adulterated it somehow. False sense of security, Minerva.

She raised the glass. "Cheers." It smelled like licorice as she lifted it to her lips--the very best licorice, one of those heavy black snaky ropes from Honeydukes. It went down bitter as sin and sorrow, even through the thick taste of the dissolved sugar.

She must have made a face, because Tom was smirking again. "Like it, kitten?"

There was a moment when she was sure she was having visions already, because there was no reason for Tom's face to be so close, and then his lips were upon hers. He tasted of poisoned bitter sweetness.

Minerva told herself she needed to go, to twist away from Tom's lips and Tom's hands and Tom's gloating words, but the laughing black-maned woman possessed her, writhed inside Minerva's own flesh so that she twisted her arms around Tom's neck, snaked her tongue into his mouth to entwine with his own.

He was not fumbling, not hesitant, like the other boys Minerva had dated (always dated, not grappled with in the loo like some common whore). His hands were sure, taunting, as they parted her robes, found her breasts. She moaned against his lips and leaned into the touch. She silently entreated him to lay aside the teasing, to pinch and twist and hurt just a little, and just as if he'd plucked the thought from her mind, his fingers closed cruelly around her nipples. She gasped. A crash echoed through the room. She must have dropped the glass--

"Tom, we can't--someone will hear--"

"Then you'd best stop shattering things, kitten. Ah, I know just the thing for those clumsy hands." He slipped his wand from the pocket of his robes. "Incarcerous."

Ropes shot from the tip of his wand, forcing her hands behind her back and binding them there. He gestured to the chair, the movement of his hand a wordless command. She meant to run. She could still get out of here--maybe she couldn't carry any tales to Slughorn now that she smelled of absinthe just as surely as did Tom, but she could at least return to Gryffindor Tower and her warm safe bed.

There was a hunger in Tom's eyes. Minerva had never seen anything resembling emotion there, and the sight of that need sent a shudder through her body.

She stepped carefully over the shards of glass and sat down obediently in the chair.

"Good girl," said Tom. He strode through the mess, his shoes crushing glass. More noise. Bloody hell. He stood before her, and lifted her chin with two cold fingers. "Do you know what I want, Minerva?"

She may have been bound, and inexplicably attracted to the idea of sitting in the chair as he asked, but he hadn't gained mastery over her tongue. "Let me think. Infinite power, world domination, an army of minions…"

His laugh was soft and thoughtful this time. "Not that I'd object, kitten, but for the moment I'll settle for ten minutes between those prim little lips of yours."

Tom opened his robes and drew out his cock. "I do hope you're not a complete innocent. I do admire competence."

Minerva had never done this before, but she'd be damned if she admitted that to him, or otherwise proved her prudery by balking and leaving the room. I'll do it, all right, and I'll give that arrogant bastard the best ten minutes of his life.

She began by licking him up and down, then taking him into her mouth, moving up and down the length of him. She wasn't entirely sure she was doing it right, but his moans reassured her, as did the way he twisted his hands in her hair just before spilling into her mouth, another bitter taste on her tongue.

The bathroom door opened then. Tom straightened his clothes in a moment. Minerva saw one of the other prefects framed in the doorway, a Ravenclaw sixth-year she didn't recognize. Tom turned slowly, coolly, to face the other boy, who had gone scarlet.

"Very sorry, Tom, I didn't mean to--"

"Nonsense. You didn't interrupt a thing." He waved long fingers at the ropes. I was merely apprehending the miscreant who stole Slughorn's wormwood."


***

She thinks of the rest of that night, so many years gone now. Slughorn had half believed and half disbelieved Tom, and so she'd got off easy. She'd been given detention for pilfering and for illegally brewing absinthe in the boys' lavatory, and Tom had smiled the entire time and mouthed platitudes about crime and punishment. There have been times, over the years, that she has wondered whether that one black mark against her had been the reason she'd been turned down when she applied to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. She wonders, not for the first time, what sort of Auror she might have made, and whether she would have the strength to look into Tom's eyes--scarlet now but as cold as ever--across the field of battle.

She thinks perhaps the world is fortunate that she, in the fastness of her tower, is unlikely to have that chance.

The wind still wails, still batters the tower, but the covers have grown warm around her, and she feels safe. Winter has come and gone countless times since the shameful night when she surrendered her pride, her very sense of self, for some reason she still does not understand. Perhaps one year the memory will be buried entirely beneath the snows, never again to rise. Maybe one day she will forget why the green hangs in her wardrobe, the color of death, the color of absinthe.

***


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(6 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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[User Picture]
From:kethlenda
Date:October 27th, 2006 02:04 am (UTC)
(Link)
As it turns out, we wrote for each other! ♥

Thank you so much for your kind words; I loved the fic you wrote for me and I'm so glad this one worked for you.
[User Picture]
From:stephanometra
Date:October 17th, 2006 12:02 am (UTC)
(Link)
Mmm. The metonymy of the absinthe for all of her restrained impulses and secret desires is breathtaking - the line between the metaphor and the narrative is so deliciously blurred. This is excellent work, love. ♥
[User Picture]
From:kethlenda
Date:October 27th, 2006 02:04 am (UTC)
(Link)
Thanks hon!!!
From:choccies
Date:October 17th, 2006 12:57 am (UTC)
(Link)
Wow. I absolutely loved this. It was amazing.

Nice choice, with Absinthe, instead of something else. Very original!

I always thougth absinthe tasted like Nyquil. Oh well!
[User Picture]
From:kethlenda
Date:October 27th, 2006 02:05 am (UTC)
(Link)
Ironically, I've never actually tasted absinthe, though I do like licorice, so I'd probably like it. ;) But mostly I'm just in love with the history and the forbidden-ness of it. Yum!

And thank you so much!
From:meh666
Date:February 5th, 2012 11:06 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I love licorice.. but I've never had absinthe. Ah, Minerva. So self-assured, even when she has no reason to be. Lovely job! For some reason though I don't see Tom the way he's portrayed here... though I'm not at all averse to reading it! Quite the contrary actually. ;)

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