The Intern

Title: The Intern
Author: ExcentrykeMuse
Pairing: Tom Marvolo Riddle/Lily Evans
Summary: He first saw her on a Tuesday.  Little did Tom Riddle know that this intern would chance the course of his life.

Note: This is actually the third part in a trilogy, or, rather, the prequel I wrote to Kamerreon’s fem!Harry/Mycroft Holmes. The sequel of the original fic is–I know you won’t believe me–Countess Holmes.

Warnings: Minister for Magic Tom Riddle, Age discrepancy

He first saw her on a Tuesday.  He knew that the Ministry had a new internship program and the best and brightest from Hogwarts was offered a position at the Ministry leading up to his or her seventh year, but he hadn’t expected her to be so delectable.

She went around at lunchtime, collecting everyone’s orders on the floor, and stopped at his secretary’s desk to see what both he and his secretary wanted.

That’s when he saw her.  He just happened to be looking up from a stack of parchment on his desk, and there she was.  Her auburn hair was unbound and she was wearing neat but worn green robes that she had clearly tailored herself.

Tom Riddle knew that as a man of fifty-one, he should not be looking at a seventeen year old.  Such a thing was unsightly.  However, he couldn’t help it.

She came around the next day.  And the next.  By Friday, he simply had to talk to her, so, when he saw her approaching, he nipped out of his office door and stood behind his secretary, who immediately reacted by sitting straighter.

“Miss Campbell,” the intern greeted, glancing up at him though he saw no recognition in her gaze, “will you and the Minister be having the usual?”

“I—“  Miss Campbell began, but Tom interrupted her.

“Yes, we will, and I wondered if you might have lunch with me.  I want to hear how the new internship is getting on.”

“But, Minister, it’s not in the schedule…” Miss Campbell hesitantly observed.

“Put it in the schedule then,” he ordered.  “I’m sure Miss—“  He waited for a name.

“Evans,” she put in.

“Miss Evans will be happy to oblige.”

“Minister,” she said boldly, “I report to Mr. Shaw—“

“And Mr. Shaw eventually reports to me.”  His tone brooked no refusal.  He looked her up and down.  She was still wearing those green robes.  Yes, they highlighted her eyes, but surely she had another pair.

“Yes, Minister.  Of course.  I’ll be back in about an hour.”

It was the longest hour he had to wait.  He barely got any work done, and all he could think about was her sheath of hair.  Tom was therefore surprised when he heard a knock at the door.

“Come in,” he said absently, and there was Miss Evans, holding his lunch order.  She was also holding a small, hand-wrapped package for herself.  “Do you not order out?”

She blushed.  “I can’t afford to,” she admitted.  “But I like Mum’s sandwiches.”

“Of course,” he stated and he just drank her in.  Finally, he said, “You’re a Muggle-born, aren’t you?  You don’t wear your hair up.”

“Oh, should I?” she commented absently.  “I’ve noticed some of the girls doing it in school, but I thought it was down to personal preference.”

“No, it’s not.  It’s down to pureblood culture.  You should wear your hair up at all times, Miss Evans.  I came from poverty myself.  I know what it’s like to need to put your best foot forward.”

“Oh, all right.”  She looked down at her sandwich.

“How do you like the internship?” he asked as he knew he was supposed to.  He took a bite of his beef stew and tried not to hum and the warmth of it.  Still, after all these decades, warm food still made him smile inside.

“Oh, it’s mainly sorting and fetching,” she admitted.  “That’s not to say that I’m not grateful for the opportunity.  It’s nice doing something other than working at the local shop for the summer.”

She was so open about her life, so carefree, that Tom admired her for it.

“And what subjects are you particularly gifted in, Miss Evans?  What made you catch my Undersecretary’s eye?”

Miss Evans blushed.  “He—I—well—I’m rather gifted in potions and charms.  I had rather stellar recommendations from both professors.”

“Does old Slughorn still teach at Hogwarts?” Tom asked, curious.

She nodded.

“I suppose he’s collected you, then.  I rather liked the Slug Club when I was a student.  Of course, we were only male students back then, but I expect times have changed now.”

“Yes,” she blushed again.  “They have.  And I am a member of the Slug Club, just so you know.”

Tom leaned back.  “You clearly must be something special then.  Sluggy doesn’t choose idly.  Are you seeing someone?”  He inserted the question in there and hoped that she wouldn’t be too startled.

It appeared that he was wrong.  She coughed on her sandwich.

“Er—no.  Why—?”

“There’s a benefit tomorrow here at the Ministry.  I wondered if you might accompany me.”  He hadn’t meant to ask.  Tom really hadn’t.  However, he had looked at Miss Evans and seen that raw beauty she held.  Her sparkling green eyes offset her hair, a color which he knew Muggles found inferior, but which he found absolutely intoxicating.

“I—“  She looked at a loss for words.  “Do you do this a lot?” she blurted.

He knew what she meant.  “Ask my subordinates to Ministry functions?  I never have.  I’ve never been romantically linked with any Ministry employee, not even when I was eighteen and just beginning here.”

“Oh.”  She took a bite of her sandwich.  “You don’t even know my name.”

“I’m certain I can find out,” he offered.  “Or you could just tell me.  I’ll let you in on a secret.  Although I’m professionally known as T. Marvolo Riddle, the “T” actually stands for ‘Tom.’”

“Tom.”  She nodded.  She took a deep breath and then offered her hand.  “I’m Lily Rose.”

He picked up her hand and let it hover just beneath his lips before releasing it.  She looked at him, startled.

“Another pureblood pleasantry.”

She blushed.  “Forgive me, but ‘Tom’ is not a very pureblood name.”

“No,” he agreed.  “It’s why I don’t use it.  Will you come with me, Miss Evans?  If robes prove a difficulty, I can write a note to Woven Fairy Silk and you can go tomorrow and be fitted, at my expense.”

“Oh, no, I couldn’t possibly.”

“Certainly you could,” he argued.  “It’s not charity,” he said perceptively.  “I would never offer a strong woman like you charity.  You are far above such things.  I would merely be dressing you for the event.  It is I who have asked you, after all, Lily Rose.”

“Do you think it would be appropriate?” she asked, hesitating.  “I mean, I believe you’re old enough to be my father, and you’re the Minister of Magic.”

“Let me worry about that,” he said seductively.  “Come with me as my date, Lily Rose.  You’ll be the envy of every woman in wizarding England.  You’ll get to speak to politicians as an equal and not as a mere intern.  I know you’re unusually intelligent, to have gotten this internship.  Enjoy the night, being in a beautiful set of robes with your hair up for the evening.  I’ll even set up an appointment at a beauty parlor.  I’m sure Lady Malfoy would know where.”

Lily laughed.  “I can’t.  It’s just too much.”

“Do you want to come with me?  Yes or no?  Forget everything else.”

She stared into his eyes for several long moments before she nodded.

“Come see me at the end of your day and I’ll tell you the time of your appointments,” he told her.  “And call me ‘Marvolo’ tomorrow night.  You won’t be my employee.”

Lady Malfoy had been easy enough to reach by floo.  She was rather young but her husband was helpful to his campaign.  He suspected her husband of being a blood purist.  Tom was technically one himself.  However, there was something about Lily that called to him.  Lady Malfoy had been helpful in recommending a salon and even booked a timeslot for Lily.  Getting her another appointment earlier in the day for Woven Fairy Silk had been child’s play.  All he had to do was drop his name.

Lily was simply stunning when she arrived Saturday night.  In medieval robes of royal purple, with sleeves that reached down to the floor and a long triangle hood, and with her hair put up in an elegant twist with baby’s breath coming out of it, she cut a fine figure.  Lily flitted about, talking to heads of department all the while on Tom’s arm, and she dazzled them.  Tom did not object when a picture of them was taken for The Daily Prophet, and he saw her home himself personally.

Milltown was a quiet if not dingy place.  “You didn’t need to come here,” Lily said carefully.  “It’s certainly not up to your standards.”

“Hush,” Tom interjected.  “A gentleman always sees his lady safely home and as you have no floo, the logical course of action was for me to Apparate you here and see you to your door.”

She blushed.  “That’s very kind, but I’m not quite certain what my parents will say.”

“I’ll be happy to answer any questions that they may have.”  Tom’s eyes narrowed.  “What did you tell them?”

Lily squirmed a bit.  “I told them that because of my position at work I had to attend a function tonight.  They don’t know about the clothes and the hair.  I would have changed back at the Ministry if I knew how to get out of these things without the help of someone else.”

“Say the robes are on loan and your hair was done by a colleague,” Tom suggested, “but I really would start wearing it up at work.  You should be prepared, you’re the first witch I’ve ever been seen with publically.”

She laughed.  “I still find that hard to believe.”  They turned the corner and a house on the end of the street had its porch light on.  “That’s me.”

They came to stand on the porch and Tom could hear the curtains rustle behind them.  “We have an audience,” he murmured.

“My sister Petunia, no doubt.”

“No doubt.—Muggle?”

“Yes.”  She looked uncomfortable. 

Marvolo leaned forward and brushed a kiss against her cheek, his eyes closing, before pulling away.  “Thank you for a lovely night, Lily Rose.”

Her breath caught.  “Goodnight, Marvolo.”

She hurried inside the dank little house, leaving Marvolo on the step.  It turned out he didn’t need to answer any questions from her parents after all.

On Monday she came into work in the same old worn out robes but her hair was in a neat bun.  He was partially sad to see that the long tresses were contained, they were so beautiful after all, but glad to see her following pureblood form.

“Have you seen the papers?” he asked over lunch.

“No, I can’t afford them, plus Petunia—“

“Ah, of course.  She’s jealous.”

Lily didn’t deny it.

He handed her The Daily Prophet.  The columnist wondered who the mystery woman was and speculated as to her identity given that she was the first woman Tom had showed interest in.

“Hmm, I’m the best dressed witch of the week,” she murmured.  “Mum helped me out of the robes.  She seemed to buy the story that they were loaned to me for the night.  I put them at the back of my closet so no one will hopefully find them.”

“Have lunch with me tomorrow,” Tom interjected, and Lily looked up at him from her sandwich.

“I thought I was having lunch with you now.”

“No, I meant out.  There’s this restaurant, The White Witch, that you may enjoy.  Wear a dress under your robes and we can go after you’ve delivered your orders.”

“You know, in the Muggle world, this counts as sexual harassment.”

“Do you feel harassed, Lily Rose?”

She shook her head and blushed.

The next day she appeared in a black summer dress and those same troublesome robes.  She went about her daily tasks before Tom claimed her for the rest of the early afternoon.  He had Miss Campbell clear his schedule.

The Maitre d’ looked at Lily with suspicious eyes but led them to their table, which was in the center of the room, just where Tom wanted it.  Lily tried not to stare at the single sheet of glass that formed a dome over them.  “I’ve read about it,” she whispered to Tom as she accepted her menu.  “Magical glass, that is.  I never thought I’d actually see it.”

“This is one of the many wonders of wizarding London, Lily,” Tom promised her.  “I—who are you?”

A girl, now standing before them in pale violet robes, blushed and then turned to Lily.  “Hello, it’s so wonderful to see you here.”  She air-kissed Lily’s cheeks.  “I so enjoyed the robes you were wearing in The Daily Prophet.  They were très chic.”

“Thank you, Alice,” Lily said.  “This is Minister Riddle; Marvolo, Alice Neville.”

Alice turned to him.  “Minister,” she held out her hand and he lifted it just below his lips before releasing it.  

“Lady Alice Neville?”

“Yes,” she smiled at him. 

“Felicitations on your engagement.” Tom intoned.

“You’re engaged?” Lily asked in wonder.

“It hasn’t been announced.  I don’t know how the minister has heard.”

“I played Lord Longbottom in chess this past Sunday.  He told me the news.  I hope you don’t mind me accidentally informing Miss Evans.”

“No, of course not.  Lily is a dear friend.”

Alice and Lily smiled at each other.  Tom looked pointedly at Alice and she curtsied to him.  “I’ll just leave you to your lunch.  Lily, Minister.”  She melted away among the tables.

“Sorry about that,” Lily apologized.  “We’re dorm mates.”

“You need not apologize,” Tom answered truthfully.  “If Abraxas Malfoy were still alive and came up to the table, I would certainly speak to him.”

“Malfoy.”  Lily turned the word around her mouth.  “I think there was a Malfoy in Slytherin several years above me at Hogwarts.”

“That would be his son, Lucius.  He’s the current Lord Malfoy.  I’d like you to have tea with Lady Malfoy on Saturday.”

Lily looked at him strangely.  “Is that really necessary?  I have nothing to wear!”

“Lady Malfoy will not mind.  I’ve asked it as a particular favor.  She’ll come pick you up at two.”  Tom looked her over.  “Wear a nice dress like you are today and your robe and I’m sure she won’t be insulted.”

Lily leaned forward.  “I got this second hand.  I needed it for work and I could only afford the one.  Dad was quite put out when I asked him for the money.”  She blushed.

“Your father sounds rather heavy handed,” Tom observed.  “I grew up in an orphanage.  This is not common knowledge, you understand.”

She looked at him seriously.

“There was never money for anything.  There was the Hogwarts scholarship, but that barely covered the cost of a wand.  I couldn’t get a pet owl or cat no matter how much I wished to.  I have a post owl now, of course, for my personal correspondence, but I have a snake named Nagini.”

“Yes, I’ve heard of your love of snakes,” Lily admitted.  “There’s a boy in my neighborhood.  Severus Snape.  He’s even poorer than I am and even he can afford some new books when Father simply won’t allow it.  It’s humiliating.  He’d rather go out to the pub with his friends than allow me and Petunia anything.  I don’t know how Mum puts up with it.”

Carefully, Tom took her hand.  “I’m sorry.  Do you have a cat or an owl?”

“No, neither.  I’d like a cat, I think.  They’re such intelligent creatures.”

Tom made a note of it in his head.  If this romance progressed the way he wanted it to, he’d send Lily off with a “till we meet again gift” at the end of August.  This was the girl he wanted to marry.  It was silly, he knew.  He was a half-blood masquerading as a pureblood and he really should choose a pureblood as his bride.  However, Lily sparked an interest in him, an interest that wasn’t waning.

Tea, according to Narcissa, went well.  Tom came over for drinks on Sunday and he was sure to interrogate Lady Malfoy on her previous engagement.

“She’s sweet, your Miss Evans,” Narcissa stated.  “Woefully dressed, but that can always be sorted.”  She looked at him pointedly.  “She had her hair up in the most beautiful way.  I asked her to give my personal house elf pointers it was so enchanting.  She called it a French Twist.  Anyway, I made her leave with three of my old robes that would do for work at the Ministry.  She wouldn’t take them at first until I told her what a wonderful surprise they’d be for you and it was only a thank you for the wonderful new hairstyle.”

“I’m glad tea went so well,” Tom admitted.  “I was afraid it might not given her—heritage.”

“I’m convinced she’s descended from a Squib, which gives her wizarding blood,” Narcissa said boldly.  “Her name is Lily Rose, her sister is Petunia Lavender, and their mother is Flora Violet.  If those aren’t wizarding names, I don’t know what are.”

“How curious,” Lucius admitted.  “I hadn’t realized.”

Lily did show up to work the next Monday in scarlet robes that strangely did not clash with her hair.  That, however, was not the most interesting development of the day.

“Do you like it?” Lily asked when she came for lunch.  She nodded toward the fish bowl.  Tom had found a fish bowl on his desk with a lily petal floating on the water, which had fallen until it hit the bottom and became a fish.  “He won’t die and he doesn’t need to be fed.  He’s pure magic.”

“He’s a beautiful piece of charms work,” Tom complimented.  “I feel very honored.”

“I had meant to save it for Professor Slughorn, but your office is so bare—“ In truth it had only shelves of books and a large wooden desk with a personal floo “—I thought it could use some livening up.”

“I will treasure it,” Tom promised her before handing her the extra soup he had ordered.  “I hope you like chicken noodle.  I always craved it when I was a boy.”

She tucked away her sandwich.  “You spoil me.”

“I’m courting you,” Tom revised.  “A bit untraditionally, even for courting a Muggle-born, but I’m doing it nonetheless.”

She stilled.  “I—I had no idea.  The robes, of course.  They’re the traditional first gift—a gateway into pureblood culture.  How could I have been so blind?”

“I hope you do not object,” Tom said carefully.

Lily looked a little stunned but shook her head.  “No,” she replied cautiously.  “A boy at school’s been trying to court me for a few years, so I looked it up so that I could make sure he couldn’t initiate a courtship.  I just didn’t expect—from you—it’s just unreal.”

Tom sat back, eating his soup.  “Who is this boy?” he asked, trying to reign in his temper.

“Oh, you needn’t worry about him,” Lily replied quickly.  “He’s just a boy.”

“You may not be aware of this, Lily Rose,” he said, using her full name, “but there is protocol I must follow if there is another suitor for your hand.  I need a name and preferably some details.”

“Er-James Potter.  He’s in my year, so he’s seventeen.  He keeps on trying to give me this amulet and invite me to Hogsmeade.”  She looked embarrassed.

“How long has this been going on?”

“Oh, since fifth year.  Before that he went with his friends.  He still goes with his friends now.  He doesn’t date at all.  He claims I’m the one for him.”

“I see,” Tom murmured.

When he should have been looking over a new treaty with France he was busy penning a missive to Lord Potter, informing him of his counter-suit to Miss Lily Evans and apologizing for not having done so previously.  He assumed this James Potter was his whelp or nephew or someone under his purview.

Lily appeared in lavender and gold that week as well as her habitual emerald green robe.  Every day she took her lunch with Tom, and he learned more of her character.  She hated to fly and thought those who played Quidditch were dull in the brain.  Charms was her favorite subject, although she would never tell Slughorn that.  She secretly wanted to become a spellcaster but didn’t think she’d be licensed by the ministry because she was a Muggle-born.  Tom promised himself that, however this turned out, she would get her wish.

She was enchanting in her hand-me-down robes and with her ideals.  She truly believed that purebloods and Muggle-borns could occupy the same world.

“But don’t you think wizarding studies would be useful to children coming in from Muggle homes?” Tom asked one Wednesday.  He had ordered Lily pasta and meatballs and was enjoying watching her trying to eat it daintily.  “It could be helpful.  They could learn courting rituals, for instance.”

“True,” Lily began.  “However, isn’t all of Hogwarts one big class of wizarding studies?”

“Wizarding traditions then,” Tom argued.  “There is a class on Muggle studies, after all.”

“It’s non compulsory.”

“Well, not every wizard will have contact with the Muggle world.  Every wizarding child has contact with the wizarding world and its traditions whether he chooses to or not.”

Exactly one month since the gala they had attended together, Tom presented Lily with a wrapped box.  It had silver paper, showing that she had value but was not a pureblood.  “Open it,” he told her quietly as she picked it up.

As if she hadn’t had many presents in the past, she carefully undid the paper and then opened the lid of the box.  “Oh, this is too much, Marvolo.”

“Nonsense,” he retorted, taking the sapphire and pearl bracelet from the box and nodding to her wrist.  She held out her arm obediently.  “You’re worth every knut.”

“What am I going to tell my parents?” she asked, confused.

“Would you like me to spell it to look like something else to ordinary Muggles?” he offered.  “A bracelet of daisies, perhaps, with a Notice-Me-Not charm?”

“Oh, would you?” she asked to his delight.  “I’d be ever so grateful.”

He placed the charms on the bracelet and she sighed in relief.

“What should I tell the wizards and witches here?” she inquired.

“The truth,” he answered.  “We have absolutely nothing to hide.”  And it was true.  On the day she left for Hogwarts he had every intention of leaking her name to the press as well as his intentions toward her.

Their first kiss was in private.  Tom had taken Lily to an out of the way Muggle restaurant for dinner, both of their robes placed in a satchel he had brought for the occasion.  He appeared as an older gentleman in a business suit while she was a young girl in a summer dress.  They made quite the odd pair.

“I can talk to snakes,” Tom admitted.  “Not many people know this, of course, but it’s a trait of the Slytherin bloodline.  I actually found the Chamber of Secrets when I was at Hogwarts.”

“Really?” Lily breathed.  “What was it like?”

“It was made of roughly hewn stone—a cavern, really, with pillars and a statue of Salazar Slytherin himself.  In the end it was nothing special.”

“Is that why you have a snake?  What was her name, Nag—?”

“Nagini,” Tom replied.  “And yes.  I’ve told her about you.  She smelled you on me after the gala and was wondering.”

He walked her home and breathed out when they came to her front porch.  She looked up at him with impossibly green eyes and he leaned forward, letting her make the final decision.  When her lips touched his, he breathed in in pleasure, his hand coming up to root itself at the base of her neck.  Her hair was up in some sort of bun that he did not quite understand.

When they broke apart, she smiled at him and he found himself smiling back.  He hadn’t kissed a witch since Hogwarts.  He found that it was better than he remembered it to be.

“I better go in,” Lily said, the smile still on her face.  “I’m later than I said I’d be.”

“Go, then, if you must,” he told her.  “I’ll see you tomorrow for lunch.”

However, Lily didn’t appear for lunch the next day or the day after that.  Some mousy haired boy did instead.  “Where’s Lily Evans?” he demanded of Miss Campbell the third day she was missing.

“We don’t know, Minister.  We presume she’s sick.”

Tom would have none of that.  He went round her home that very night and knocked on the door.  A small sort of woman with blonde hair answered.  “Oh,” she said in greeting.  “It’s you.”

“I take it, then, that Miss Evans is not ill.”

“No,” she responded carefully.  “Her father doesn’t want her going back to a job where there are such corrupting influences.”

“I’d like to speak to your husband,” Tom stated, “but first I’d like to see Lily.”

“Out of the question,” the woman said.  “We saw you kiss her.  How old are you?  She’s just seventeen years old!”

“Our age difference doesn’t matter in the magical world,” Tom responded coldly.  He saw a staircase off to the side and made toward it.  When the woman made to get in his way, he cast a quick spell on her that sent her to the left.  He walked sedately up the stairs, not minding what the woman was saying as she came up behind him and looked at the various closed doors.

There were only three.  One was a bathroom, another what appeared to be the master bedroom, and the third had two names written on it: “Lily” and “Petunia.”

He rapped his knuckles against the door three times.  “Lily Rose?  Are you in there?”

The door immediately opened to reveal the pale, tear-stained face of Lily.  A slightly older girl with blonde hair and a horse neck was behind her.

“Marvolo,” Lily began.  “I’m ever so sorry.”

“You have nothing to apologize for,” he answered swiftly.  “It’s these Muggles.”

“Don’t talk about them that way, Marvolo.  They’re my family.”  Lily crossed her arms and looked at him through red-rimmed eyes.  She was still so beautiful to him, even like this, tear-stained and sad.

“Perhaps it is time, my dear, that you learned my beliefs on Muggles,” he answered crisply.  “Now, come downstairs and we’ll have some tea while we wait for your father.”

Her father took hours coming back home and when he did he wreaked of alcohol.  “Subrio,” Tom cast and the man looked at him sharply. 

“Out, Lily!  Petunia!  Flora!  I have business to attend to.”  He turned to Tom.  “I know you.  You’re the old bloke that’s been kissing my daughter.”

“Been spying through windows, have we?” Tom asked snidely.  “I assure you my intentions are entirely honorable.  I have been following courtship protocol in regards to your youngest daughter.”

“I don’t give a rat’s ass,” Mr. Evans responded.  “You’re old enough to be her father!  She should give that nice Potter bloke a chance.”

“She shouldn’t because she doesn’t want to,” Tom explained.  “In the wizarding world, our age difference is considered negligible.  Wizards have very long lives and as we grow old, age doesn’t matter.”

“Well, it does to me, and I’m her father.”

“You mean, you’re the man who’s too tight-fisted to buy your daughter a proper set of robes for her job at the Ministry of Magic?” he responded.  “Mr. Evans, I am a very important man—“

“I don’t care how important you are, you can’t fool around with my daughter.”  The man looked resolute, the dingy light shining on his auburn hair.

“What if I told you I meant to marry your daughter and that I’d be willing to pay a stipend to her family?”

The man looked at him inquisitively.  “How much of a stipend?”

“A thousand pounds a month,” Tom bargained.  Of course, none of this was in writing, so as soon as he married Lily, the bargain would be off.

Considering, Mr. Evans looked Tom up and down.  “Marry her by the end of summer.”

“If she accepts me and agrees, then, yes, I will.”

Mr. Evans leaned back in his seat and then shouted, “Lily, this punter has something to say to you!”

Tom glared at him.  “Surely, you’ll allow me to pick my own time sometime tomorrow.”

“Best to get these things settled,” he replied nastily.

Lily appeared on the stairs, looking no less beautiful.  “Yes, Father?”

“He says he wants to marry you and that he’ll even marry you before you go back to Hogwarts.”  He pointed a thumb at Tom.  “What do you say?”

She looked a little put out.  “I can’t possibly with you here, in this house.  There should be violins and flowers and a nice white dress that I don’t even own, but do in my head…”

“And I can give you all that at the bonding,” Tom promised her.  “Please, Lily Rose.  It’s what I want, not your father.  Marry me.  I can take you away from all this.”

“But you’ve never said it,” she hedged.

“He doesn’t need to,” Mr. Evans decidedly said.  “Don’t get your knickers in a twist over some elusive emotion.”

“Love,” Tom realized.  “You want love.”  He paused, not wanting to bear his heart in front of a Muggle.  “I’ve never been good with the emotion.  My upbringing did not lend to such an education in the finer feelings, but when I first saw you, on that Tuesday, something stirred within me.  It wasn’t lust, I know that much.  I’ve felt lust before and have been able to withstand it.  However, with you it was gentler.  I don’t know if that’s love, but it’s the closest I’ve come to it.”

There were tears in Lily’s eyes as she came forward and kissed him gently.  “Yes, I’ll marry you, you daft fool, even before I go back to Hogwarts.  When do we announce to the press?”

“Well, we’ll have Woven Fairy Silk design some beautiful robes for you in ice blue, I think, and we’ll hold a press conference.  I’m sorry, my dear, but we’re going to claim you’re descended from a squib on your mother’s side.”

She scrunched up her nose.  “Is that really necessary?”

“It will give you some political capital,” Tom hummed, holding Lily close, “And both Lady Malfoy and I agree it is probably the case.  I can’t be seen as marrying a simple Muggle-born as much as I should wish it.”

“I see,” she said cautiously.  “I wouldn’t want to hurt your career.”  Her tone was icy now and she had looked away.  Tom drew her face toward him and waited until their eyes met.

“We must all play their stupid games although they’re beneath us,” he soothed.  “It will also lend credence when you become a spellcaster.”

Her eyes lit up.

“Very well, very well,” Mr. Evans interrupted.  “You may see her at work tomorrow.  I want a ring on her finger when she gets home tomorrow night and the announcement in the paper by Friday.”

“Father!  That doesn’t give Marvolo enough time!”

“Hush, all will be well,” he assured her, standing from his seat.  He took the Gaunt Ring from his hand and slipped it on to her ring finger.  “This is from my mother’s family.  I know she would have loved you if she had had the chance to meet you.”

Lily held her hand out, admiring the ring.

“It’s not a diamond,” Mr. Evans said cruelly.

“No, but the gem is more costly,” he said snidely.  It was the Resurrection Stone, after all.  He would tell Lily later, in a more private setting.

When he kissed her goodnight, on the porch, he thought that this was the start of his life, the beginning of his future.  With this incredible witch at his side, he could accomplish anything. 

He left with a spring in his step.  He had a press conference to plan.

The End.

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