Title: The Price
Pairing: Tom Riddle/Merope Gaunt
Summary: Challenge #30 - How Merope Gaunt tricked Tom Riddle into falling in love with her.
Notes: Thanks to barcelona9 for reading this over for me, and for poking me until I finished the thing. Comments, reviews, and concrit are much appreciated!
He was laughing with the pretty girl from the day before as they trotted down the stone steps of the church. That Cecilia girl, oh, how lovely. They were both of them lovely, with shining smooth waves of hair that glinted in the late morning sun. What wouldn’t she have given for that soft golden hair of Cecilia’s, for her effortless grace in everything she did, in the way her delicate hand curved around Tom’s arm, his perfect arm. But there was something Merope had that Cecilia could never begin to even imitate. Merope could lift Tom’s hat off the seat of the car and make it sail across the church lawn, right into her waiting hands.
She watched him help the silly Cecilia creature into the car and take his seat beside her. There, there goes his hand, dropping to his side, but it isn’t there.
“Cecilia, did I take my hat in with me? I thought I’d left it here...”
“I’m afraid I don’t remember, but I can run and look if you like, darling.”
“No, I’ll go. You just wait right here a moment.”
Merope’s breath caught just at the sight of him tripping across the grass, but she couldn’t afford to merely stare anymore. The hedges beside her fell sharply away, to be replaced by rows of wooden pews. And now he was in the doorway, now striding purposefully down the aisle, but not toward her. Silly girl, why would he? He edged into a pew and bent to peer under the seat.
“Tom.” Her voice was breathy and rasping. He straightened, settled his gaze on her. Icy blue eyes, cold. They would be warm for her soon.
“Oh, it’s you,” he said. “I didn’t know you came to church.” No smile, so cold. His eyes dropped to the hat in her hands. “Ah, there’s my hat.” He stepped out of the pew and moved towards her with one hand lifted, waiting, but she gripped the hat tighter. She had seen Cecilia and all the others like her, she knew their tricks.
“Only if you’ll come have tea with me.” Half a smile, lifted eyebrow, raspy voice turned lilting.
He narrowed his eyes. “I’ll just be needing my hat back. There’s someone waiting for me outside, I really must be going.” He came nearer, reaching.
“Imperio.” He froze.
She placed her hand in his. “Let’s go have some tea. It’ll refresh you.”
Merope had imagined how it would feel to sleep beside him, curled into his side. The reality should have been more beautiful than the fantasy. The feeling of Tom’s arms holding her, his even breathing tickling her cheek, was beyond anything she could have imagined. His hair had looked soft from a distance, but its texture under her fingers was much more satisfying. His skin was smoother, his voice more hypnotising, his lips more dizzyingly sweet. Everything about him was all she had dreamt and more. Even his eyes were clearer and brighter from up close, especially now that the dulling effect of Imperius had been wiped away by the vitalising power of Merope’s potion. But they were not warmer.
She didn’t understand where she had gone wrong. He loved her, that much was certain. He told her so as often as she could have asked to hear it, and she felt its truth with every touch.
She lifted her face to better look at him, and the motion made him stir and open his eyes. For the thousandth time, their emptiness startled her. She nearly forgot when he smiled to see her there, pulled her gently down for a kiss. Yes, his kiss was more than she could have ever wished.