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Voldemort sneered.

"If you do not want to give me a job -"

-Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 20








"No," Dumbledore said, surprising Voldemort.

"I have many words for you, Tom, but they will fall upon deaf ears. I can no longer frighten you by burning a wardrobe or forcing you to detention. I wish I could, Tom."

"But you can't," Voldemort's narrowing eyes flashed. "Not anymore."

"No."

Dumbledore looked deeply saddened by this fact, still sitting down as Voldemort was half-way towards the office door. Dumbledore's eyes never wavered from Tom's, not the overpowering gaze of an alpha male, but the stare of a disappointed parent.

"Perhaps I do not want the Defense job."

"Oh no?"

"Perhaps I ask of yours."

"Mine?"

For the first time, Dumbledore looked surprised. He had controlled the conversation with his usual omnipotent aura, but this request caught the aged wizard off-guard.

"Does it really surprise you?" Voldemort asked, an air of mocking slanting his voice. "Have my ambitions always been unchecked in your eyes?"

"You again don't answer the important question," Dumbledore deflected, "Why are you here in the first place, Tom?"

"I am here to teach."

"You are no more here to teach than I am here to play Quidditch," Dumbledore smiled and cocked his head.

"You teach the wrong lessons to these young, impressionable minds," Voldemort continued, still standing half-way between Dumbledore's desk and the door.

"I have learned many things upon my journeys and am exceptionally more qualified than anyone else for the Defense position but why rest there? The Ministry calls for you, Dumbledore. They need guidance in the face of…uncertain times."

The threat hung heavily in the air, Voldemort's own admission of his intentions clearly visible to the shrewd Headmaster. Dumbledore studied Voldemort for a moment, weighing his response carefully, feeling the tug and war battle of their conversation.

"The Ministry does not need my help."

"The Ministry," Voldemort spat out the word as if it were dung, "is incapable of functioning. Of course they need your help, Dumbledore."

Dumbledore was temporarily taken aback at Voldemort's vehemence. It was unlike him to suddenly spout and rage unprovoked. He was forever a braggart but not much of a shouter of inconsequential ideals.

"There is a war coming, Dumbledore. Surely, you know this."

"War is an inevitability I have accepted long before you were even born, Tom."

A new chill overcame Dumbledore's voice as the purpose of the meeting shifted from an interview to more of a debate. Dumbledore's smile had long fallen off his face and it was replaced by a stern, patronizing glare.

"You are not the first to threaten war and you will certainly not be the last."

"And what if I give you the opportunity to avoid it?" Voldemort continued to throw Dumbledore off his heels. "What if I told you I would disband my course if you were to allow me this position."

"You have reverted back to your desires for the Defense position."

"I will achieve the other in due time."

"I do not plan on dying anytime soon, Tom."

"The best-laid plans often go awry."

"Of Mice and Men," Dumbledore recognized the reference immediately, "It was never about Pureblood supremacy, was it?"

Dumbledore rid of all pretense to their conversation. It was as if the referee let go of the boxer's gloves and now they were free to spar and jab. Voldemort squared his feet to face the still sedentary Professor, no longer turned halfway towards the door.

"Will you allow me then?" Voldemort ignored Dumbledore's question.

"Of course not, Tom," Dumbledore sighed wearily, "You will never teach in these halls."

"Oh?" Voldemort didn't really look surprised as he reached into a pocket of his robes. Dumbledore didn't move, unperturbed by the concealed grab. His hand remained laid on top of each other on his desk, his eyes curiously following Voldemort's hand.

If the Headmaster looked surprised when Voldemort pulled the contents out from his pocket, it did not show on his face.

"It is curious," Voldemort started as he rolled the two items in his palms. "To own two of the three Deathly Hallows but knowing they are useless without the third."

In one hand, Voldemort held a tiny ring with a with a stone that bore the dreaded symbol of the Deathly Hallows. In the other hand, Voldemort held a smooth and folded cloak with unique stitching. Both items were immediately recognizable to the Headmaster of Hogwarts.

"Curious items indeed," Dumbledore refused to admit his own knowledge of the fabled items, "How were you able to procure such items?"

Voldemort played Dumbledore's little game. "This," Voldemort tightly encircled the ring with his hand, "Rightfully belongs to me."

"The other was…borrowed…to me by a friend."

"I wasn't aware you had such special friends, Tom."

"It is easy to underestimate the pitiful, Dumbledore. You do it everyday."

Dumbledore made a mental note to remind a certain couple to reevaluate their close friends.

"I offer you these," Voldemort met Dumbledore's eyes with a cold, unrelenting fury, "For your position."

Visibly, Dumbledore remained unchanged. In his head, a million thoughts flittered about his brain, the neurons firing in overdrive to keep pace with the unfolding situation. To possess one Deathly Hallow was a cursed gift but to possess all three would be pure madness.

"They are yours for the taking."

Unconsciously, Dumbledore touched the wand laying on his desk. His mind was elsewhere, fighting another war in another time where he first gained possession of the mythical Elder Wand. It didn't go unnoticed by Voldemort and the former Slytherin took a small step forward, trying to goad Dumbledore into taking the relics.

"Take it," Voldemort hissed, the gentle melodic tone of his voice lulling Dumbledore.

"Take it."

"Take it."

Dumbledore blinked, suddenly breaking out of his haze and Voldemort knew he pushed too far and too fast. Standing faster than one might expect a man of his age, Dumbledore met Voldemort's cold eyes with a matching glare of his own.

"You think you can bribe me like some cheap whore?" Dumbledore's voice held a passionate, emotional lilt that was rarely heard by others.

"It's not so much of a bribe as it is a trade," Voldemort teased.

"You are but one lonely, forgotten boy, Riddle," Dumbledore raged, "If it weren't for me, you would still be sitting in that orphanage torturing other children!"

"You are an old fool not to take the Hallows, Dumbledore," Voldemort suddenly rebuked him.

"Then give them to me!"

"There is a price."

"There is always a price. One that you would hardly know," Dumbledore was breathing heavily through his nose, his eyes fixated on the cloak and the ring in Voldemort's hands.

"Then give me the position."

Voldemort extended his arms, his elbows flexing from the bent position to fully offer Dumbledore the two remaining Deathly Hallows. They were in arm's reach of the Professor. All he had to do was extend his arms to take the Invisibility Cloak and the Resurrection Stone and he would be the Master of Death.

"Say it, Dumbledore."

"I - I - cannot," Dumbledore stuttered, his hands twitching forward.

"Just say it."

Dumbledore was leaning forward, the world and his office disappearing around him as the two Hallows came even closer to him. There was a slight drumming in his ears but he couldn't differentiate the call of the Hallows from the rapid blood flow rushing through his head. The two Hallows were the only thing that existed in the world. He had been searching so long for all three. They were right in front of him.

"Say it, Dumbledore," Voldemort hissed, his tongue not sounding English.

"I, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, do hereby-" Dumbledore paused, not quite knowing what he was saying at the moment.

"Don't stop," Voldemort did not want him to lose concentration, "Keep going."

"Do hereby," Dumbledore cleared his throat, his eyes still on the Hallows. "Do hereby declare Tom Marvolo Riddle the Headmaster of Hogwarts."

Voldemort dropped the Hallows from his hands, and Dumbledore reflexively leaned over the table to catch the two items. Voldemort looked down at Dumbledore, clutching the items feverishly in two aged hands. Dumbledore straightened quickly, always a man of good posture, still admiring the relics in his hands.

But he blinked and suddenly looked up to see Voldemort's smiling face.

"What have I done?" Dumbledore croaked.

"You have become the Master of Death," Voldemort stated matter of factly, "But you are also in my office. I would like you to leave now."

"The Master of Death," Dumbledore muttered.

"Yes," Voldemort strode around so he was standing next to Dumbledore, no longer afraid of the old man. "There are of course consequences to being the Master of Death."

"Consequences?" Dumbledore dumbly repeated, looking like the ignorant schoolboy instead of the wise Professor.

"Yes, Dumbledore," Voldemort said in a condescending tone, "There is a reason they call it the Master of Death."

The meaning was lost upon the poor wizard as Voldemort beckoned him out from his side of the desk towards the door. Dumbledore picked up his wand and held all three items in his hands, his gaze unable to be torn from the Deathly Hallows. Voldemort stood behind the desk, the smile never leaving his face.

"You are banished from this castle, Dumbledore. Do not return."

Voldemort had no doubt Dumbledore would never return to Hogwarts, much less this realm of living. He knew much more than Dumbledore could ever know about the Deathly Hallows.

As the old wizard left the office down the twirling staircase, Voldemort sat down in his rightful throne. The news would travel soon, no doubt, but Dumbledore had foolishly sent away all the portraits during the meeting. Only Voldemort knew of the true nature of the sudden change in power. He tapped his cheek lightly, quite pleased with himself.

But there was work to be done.

 

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